Sticky Situation

Tuesday, Muri and I are leaving early to drive to Arizona for Thanksgiving. We are WAY over due for a grandkid fix.   So, I don’t think I’ll have time to post for Writing Wednesday.   No, that’s not such a Sticky Situation.   The title is a clever play on words designed to draw you in … the real title is Yellow Stickies, and it is the first few pages of a short story I wrote some years ago.   Yes, unpublished but my favorite.   I’m hoping that by posting the beginning, I can seduce you into reading the rest, which is on my fiction blog, Through Older Eyes, here.  What’s that?   Oh, yeah … I meant induce.  If you decide to read on, when you get to Through Older Eyes, just scroll down until you see START –>.


The first one flutters like a wounded yellow butterfly from the medicine cabinet door and lands face down at the edge of the sink.   I eye it unenthusiastically as I scrape the lather from my cheek, debating whether or not to nudge it into the bowl, letting the steaming water and the dollops of shaving cream wash away whatever ink is hidden on the other side.   Ten-to-one, it says paint the hallway before Thanksgiving, or maybe clean the garage.   Why the hell can’t she just ask instead of leaving these God-damned notes everywhere?   I’ve heard her answer often enough to play it back in my head without asking.

“If I just ask, you’ll forget, and I’ll have to ask again.   Then, you’ll say I’m nagging!”

Shit, I think as I dry my jowls with the pink floral towel taken from an ornate brass ring next to me.   If she finds the towel crumpled next to the sink, she’ll say, How many times do I have to ask you not to use the decorator towels?    I try to fold it into a neat rectangle over the ring the way she does, with the embroidered primrose perfectly centered, but I know I’m caught.   With a sigh, I pick up the yellow Post-It and stick it back on the corner of the mirror, but without my glasses, the words are a blur.   Her meticulous block printing comes into focus when I step back… I am just where I’m meant to be in my life !!!!   The four emphatic exclamation points float like red balloons beneath the words.   “Oh, oh,” I say to myself, “she’s wandering the self-help section of Barnes and Noble again.”

I was beginning to believe the finish line of our parenthood was in sight, one son married, a daughter graduating from Brown next year, and our baby, Melissa, a senior in high school.   Of course, that’s when Melissa’s grades began to plummet and teachers who’d been her favorites started calling with reports of unexcused absences and suspicions of drug use.   We thought it was just a phase, but just before Christmas, we awoke to the slam of a car door in the middle of the night and found a note pinned to her pillow.

Mom and Dad  – I hate school and I hate life in this town .   I’m going to Seattle to live with Dirk.   Please don’t try to find me.   I love you but I’ve got to do this.   I’ll stay in touch.   Missy.

We didn’t know any Dirk.   When we called the police, they told us there’s nothing we can do since she’s eighteen.   Melissa called two miserable weeks later.   We learned that Dirk has a band called Cretinus and that Seattle’s the best place to be discovered.   After ten months, Cretinus is still unknown, but at least Melissa calls every few weeks now, talking occasionally about letting us visit which alternately cheers us and starts the ache again.

To cope, I turned to the thwack of my driver hitting a Titlelist and to the calming effect of male companionship surrounded by the sweet smell of freshly mowed greens.   Linda found a support group for parents of runaways that filled her head with ideas about self-improvement and recovery.   If she’d bought a set of clubs and joined me at Long Wood once in a while, it would have made life a lot simpler.

Linda’s last craze was meditation.   Since she gets up at 4:30 to beat the rush hour onto the Riverside Freeway, you’d think she’d have squeezed this extracurricular activity into the evening or her lunch hour, but she began setting the alarm for 4:00 and quietly slipping out of the bedroom, as if the buzzer hadn’t already awakened me.   I stifled my curiosity for three days, but then tip-toed through the house at ten after four, finding her in the living room sitting cross-legged on the carpet.   An apple-scented candle burned on the coffee table and her night-gown was a pile of green silk beside her.   Her eyes were closed, and in spite of my annoyance over sleep lost, I stood admiring her body, the full breasts and rounded hips that I love.   I remember thinking, She may be a peculiar piece of work, but she certainly is well put together.   Later, when she told me that she knew I was watching her meditate, I asked the question foremost in my mind without stopping to consider whether I really wanted to know the answer.

“OK, Linda, I suppose I can understand meditation.   But why naked?”

She grinned at the notion that I’d understand but answered my question directly, as she usually does.   “Bob, I know this will sound weird to you, but without clothes, I feel in closer touch with the Universe.”

I had no idea how to respond, so out of habit, I went for the compliment.   “Well, it makes me hotter than hell to know you’re out there naked in the living room every morning.  I may have to come out and jump you one of these days.”

She just kissed me on the cheek and walked away shaking her head slowly.

So, now that I’ve finally accepted that the meditation isn’t going to stop, there are affirmations spreading through the house like a virus.   There isn’t a corner that doesn’t have a stickie of some size or color stuck in a carefully conspicuous place.   On the refrigerator door – My body is a temple, and I give it only healthy foods.   On the shower door, anchored with a band-aid so the moisture won’t unstick it  – I am a happy person, and I go through my struggles with serenity.   In the guest bathroom, yet  – I’m thankful for my family and friends, and I know they love me.

When my brother, Art, and his child-wife, Suzie, come by for dinner on Saturday night, I pray that he won’t notice Linda’s notes, but he and Suzie are beer drinkers.   With ten trips to the refrigerator for another Sam Adams and five to the bathroom to relieve himself, two-out-of-five to our bathroom because Suzie’s in the guest room – he sees them all.   And on eight beers, he can’t resist mentioning it to me when Linda’s out of the room.

“Bobby, what’s with the freakin’ sayings everywhere?  I hope to hell they’re not yours, dude, that’d be strange, even for you,” he says with a playful grin that just pisses me off.

Suzie sits giggling into her beer glass, and adds, “I hope, like, I don’t start doing this weird stuff when I get old.”

Art stifles her with an his glare as Linda enters the room again, grinning knowingly into the awkward silence.   For another hour, as Suz prattles on about the gossip she heard this week as she did fifty-five manicures at Nails 4U, Linda and I only grunt politely.

Art finally says, “C’mon, Suz.  Let’s go.  We’re keeping these old farts up.”

Maybe Cain had the right idea.

In the twenty-four hours that follow, I roam the house, tearing stickies from anyplace they might be seen, only to watch them reappear in our bedroom, one squarely between my eyes on my photograph on Linda’s dresser.   I start to believe we’ve reached an uneasy truce but I’m wrong.   Confined to the bedroom, the affirmations mutate like sci-fi movie monsters, becoming larger and more bizarre, and, revitalized, they spill again into the rest of the house.   Index cards, carefully lettered in multi-colored markers, evolve into poster-board signs decorated with glitter and stickers.   On the refrigerator, three colors of day-glow surrounded by red foil stars announce I’m a woman of power because The Goddess is within me.   I begin to play golf four nights a week instead than two.

______________  Continued here  ________________

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One Comment on “Sticky Situation”

  1. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving in Arizona!

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