Saturday, October 12, 2013

“Pretzel Buns”


Wendy's
 
            Pretzel Buns.
            No. Not the latest term of endearment for my husband (although he does have fine buns). Pretzel Buns popped up on many fast food restaurant menus over the last few months. Watching the tasty commercials, I logged it into my brain that I must try one of these new bread variations.
            I admit it. We eat fast food about once a week. Even with all of the dire medical warnings about the health impact of a burger and fries! Frankly, my motto after the last few years of life has shifted to “You only live once.” I’m not going to deny a craving for a chocolate milkshake or an order of fries. I will make certain the remainder of my week balances out with fruits and veggies as the predominant food choice.
            A recent stop by our local Wendy’s offered the opportunity for me to try the latest offering—Pretzel Buns. What a taste bud delight! Wendy’s, to make it easier to digest this fantastic roll, adds two types of lettuce onto the burger. And baby spinach peeks between the slices, too.
            I’ve yet to try Sonic’s Pretzel Bun hotdogs, but I know one day I’ll pull my care into the slot to pick up a Route 44 Cranberry Slush, and ask to this new delicacy.  


 
 

 
Sonic
 
 
Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, October 11, 2013

"The Best Nap"

Malahide Castle

Dublin bound for half a day   
with seats in the upright position   
fitfully dozing during the long flight   
as snatches of movies weave into my dreams   
maneuvering through city streets    
in search of Malahide Castle—our first stop in enchantment   
the cobwebs of travel puff away       
catch on the gossamer of history       
we walk hand-in-hand from parlor to pantry       
forgetting our fatigue as we meander through gardens   
we linger, lusting for greener pastures   
hunger nudges us to homemade bread and thick potato soup   
--Clontarf Castle’s soft beds lure us upstairs   
hot showers, cool linens blend with child play   
we stretch on pristine sheets and tumble into perfect slumber   
sleep embraces us soothingly as we spoon together   
glass tinkling, or pixie laughter?   
the voices of Ireland lull us into serenity   

Clontarf Castle

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Taboo"

           Movement catches his attention as he passes her door. He pauses, peering through the narrow crack. She stands facing her dresser, her head bent as she searches her drawer, and her blonde hair a curtain protecting her face from his scrutiny. His eyes fixate on her private dressing. His pulse kicks up its pace as he finally steps back in embarrassment. He creeps soundlessly down the hallway to his own room.
           Weeks later, she stands at the pool’s edge, dipping her toe into the water to test its coolness against the fever of summer. Swiftly, she pulls her tight t-shirt over her head, slips out of her denim shorts, and then tosses her underclothes carelessly into the messy pile. Her dark tan, which covers every inch of her lithe body, proves her worship of the sun. She dives smoothly into the coolness, surfacing midway in the pool, her long hair drifting in golden tendrils around her shoulders. She tilts backward, trusting the water to hold her afloat.
           Upstairs, he watches her peaceful moonlit swim for only a moment. Then, before the rules of society bind him in place, he dashes down the stairs, shedding his clothing in haste. He hits the back door at a full run, bare feet pounding on grass and patio. Airborne for only a second, his muscles constrict in anticipation.
           Startled by the splash, she whips her legs downward, treading water as she spins to locate her predator. His hands snag her right leg, and he tugs her under, using the cover of play to skim his hands over her thighs and whisper them across her breasts. She surfaces, exploding with irritation at his surprise attack, pleased that she lured him into the pool. She bats his hands away, squawking in mock indignation as they play their childhood game in adult bodies, the undercurrents hot with each brush of skin.
           Feeling powerful and cruel, she slips out of his reach and swims to the ladder. She pulls herself up, pausing for effect with her head thrown back, neck kissed by moonlight. His scalding gaze burns her skin, and suddenly shame flames her cheeks. She gathers her clothing clumsily, clutching the t-shirt and shorts tightly to her chest as she quickly runs to the back door. She flies up the stairs, mortified by this sibling skinny dipping. With resolution, she slams and locks her bedroom door, thwarting all temptation.

from Swimming Pool Series by Dmitriy Kedrin

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Pearls of Wisdom"




         Georgia impatiently paced across the parlor, pausing at the window to pull back the white lace panel. Anticipation sparked in her green eyes and splashed color across her high cheekbones. A tendril of her brunette hair coiled on her forehead in subtle defiance. She stepped away from the pane, her fingers adjusting the pleat of her lavender gown with nervous energy. She scrutinized the room for the hundredth time, seeking perfection in every detail. Carefully, she lifted a vase of fresh flowers from the center of a table and moved it to a sideboard. Her jewelry box rested on the table alone, showing off its delicate work. She wanted to impress her younger sisters with the treasures her husband showered upon her. She wanted them to envy her for her position as Bruce’s wife.
         At the sound of the bell, Georgia skipped to the settee and arranged her skirt to show off the sheen of the expensive silk. Her lips parted in a genuine smile as she listened to Gwyn’s soft voice ask the butler a question, as she recognized May’s deeper throaty laugh.
         “Georgia!” her sisters chimed in unison as the butler opened the door. In a whirl of cream and rose satin, they swept into the room and hauled Georgia off of the couch, ruining her carefully planned pose by hugging her tightly into their arms.
         “You look so lovely!”
         “Your house is beautiful!”
         “And lavender! Georgia, it’s such a perfect color for you!”
         Unexpected tears smarted Georgia eyes and spilled down her cheeks as she returned her sisters’ enthusiastic embrace.  “Oh, May and Gwyn, I’m so glad you’ve finally come!” She swiped at her tears and looked at her wet fingertips with bemusement. “I don’t know why I’m crying,” she began.
         “Oh, you’re just happy to see us!” May exclaimed. “We’ve missed you so much, too. I don’t know why Mother and Father resisted allowing us to visit you in London.”
         “But you are here—now!” Georgia kissed May’s cheek with affection. “Perhaps they will let you visit more.”
         Gwyn smiled as she sat in a chair, “I believe they didn’t want us annoying Bruce. Honestly, they only agreed to our visit here because you said you were lonely.”
         “Bruce spends most of his time in our London house,” Georgia admitted. “Why don’t I take you to your rooms, and then we can have tea and spend the entire evening catching up?” 


            Georgia worried her lower lip, a remnant of her annoying childhood habit. She straightened the shoulders on her gown one more time as she waited for her sisters to return. A trolley with her finest silver service sat near the loveseat. Cook’s renowned cakes and biscuits sat in decadent temptation. She knew Gwyn wouldn’t resist the sweet treats. She knew May couldn’t refuse accompanying their tea with tidbits of gossip. She wagered with herself that May wouldn’t make it through her first dessert before revealing Bruce’s indiscretions to her older sister.
            With determination, Georgia decided she would open the topic of her husband’s infidelities first. After all, she invited her sisters to her home for two reasons. She wanted to assure her family that she accepted all aspects of her marriage to her older husband. She also needed to know that they would stand by her decision to live with Bruce’s “short-comings.”
            When May and Gwyn appeared in the doorway, Georgia felt relief. As embarrassing as this conversation would prove, at least she would finally have someone to whom she could confide her feelings.
            “May, would you mind pouring?” Georgia moved to a nearby chair. “I want to talk to the two of you. It’s the reason I invited you here.” She paused while May filled the cups. “Mother and Father know, of course, what I’m going to tell you. I wrote them last month.” She sipped the hot tea, buying herself a moment for composure. Then she continued, “I have learned that Bruce engages in affairs with other people.”
            May’s hand fluttered a little, splashing tea onto the saucer she held. Gwyn’s cheeks flamed red as she inhaled deeply, and then held her breath. Neither of her sisters spoke.
            Georgia cocked her head, and narrowing her eyes, asked, “You know? Did Mother tell you?”
            “No,” Gwyn began cautiously, “No one’s told us anything. It’s—,” she shot a desperate look at May. “Well, Bruce did something . . . inappropriate . . .” she floundered to a stop.
            “To you?” Georgia gasped.
            “To both of us,” May carefully set her cup and saucer upon the table. “Remember how I kept trying to talk you out of this marriage?”
            Georgia’s face paled as she leaned forward in her seat. “I thought you were just jealous because of Bruce’s wealth and social standing. I was so hurt.” Her hand rested over her heart. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
            “I tried, but you got so upset. And you insisted that Bruce was absolutely perfect for you.” May faltered. “I didn’t have the heart to tell you.” She looked down to find her hands nervously clenching the fabric of her dress. “I never told anyone. Then when you invited us here, I didn’t even want to come because I feared seeing your husband again.”
            “And I kept bothering her until she told me why,” Gwyn continued. “When she told me, well—he’d done something similar to me. I was so ashamed.” Gwyn’s voice shook. “Oh, Georgia, you cannot stay married to this man!”


Wladyslaw Czachorski's The Little Treasure Chest

            “Yes, I can.” Georgia stood and walked to her jewelry box. “I made a promise, and my vow must be kept.” She sat in a chair by the table, leaning forward to open the box. “Come, look.” She opened to container and began pulling out the pieces her husband gifted to her, probably after each of his escapades. “Come look,” she repeated, “at what a man believes clears his conscience.”
            With her sisters seated at the table, she pulled out a diamond and ruby broach, a glittering flower. She fingered a delicately woven gold chain and toyed with a bracelet of emeralds. “Bruce believes these lovely pieces will buy my submission and my silence.”
            She carefully withdrew a strand of pearls. Their smooth perfection cooled her flushed skin. “My husband brought me these pearls last week,” she draped them over her extended arm. “They have a particularly beautiful luster, don’t you think.” Gwyn leaned against the back of Georgia’s chair to get a closer look as May shifted forward in her seat. A small smile tugged at Georgia’s lips as she tilted her head to appreciate the glow of the pearls against her skin.
            Sighing deeply, she gazed at her prizes. “With all of these other gifts, I didn’t know the truth about Bruce. I didn’t know the guilt he disguised. But these pearls,” she raised the strand and looked first at May and then at Gwyn, “These are pearls of wisdom.”

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


             

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Daughter-in-Law"

Independent and intelligent  
she offers him unlimited love—no strings attached  
she has no hidden agenda  
she’s guileless as she wades into the water  
unaware of currents that will toss her aside or pull her under  
instinctively, she fights against the undertow  
taps into her endless energy as she swims toward the farthest shore  
drawing him with her in her wake  
offering him firmer footing on the opposite bank  

Resourceful and resolute  
she opens her heart to him—believes in him  
she focuses on their life together   
she’s na├»ve as they begin to build a bridge  
believing they’ll be met half way, linking and reconnecting  
but flash flooding upstream destroys their efforts  
ripping away the incomplete structure, tearing away their progress  
sapping her strength and snapping his ties  
they cling together on the distant shore  

Unwavering and understanding  
she stands with him—unites her life with his  
she trusts his constancy  
she’s accepting of his assurances of calmer water ahead  
hope persuades her to test the river again  
but rapids downstream leave her cut and bruised  
cultivating a cynical disbelief in ever reaching the other side  
withdrawing protectively back to the river’s edge, she stands   
turning her back to the other shore forever  

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Low Maintenance"


            Believe me when I say, I don’t know if I should brag about my “low maintenance” lifestyle, or if I should pretend my nature demands indulgent splurges on superfluous items and activities, so that I can feel like I belong with the rest of my gender. My baffled looks always give me away when I don’t know the name of a designer purse, have never purchased haute couture clothing, and don’t know the difference between a Milano and a Converse. My entire wardrobe fits into an eight foot-by-four foot closet which I share with my husband. My lingerie bares the labels Fruit of the Loom and Hanes. Every nightgown or pajama set I own fits into one drawer, and I own one pair of blue jeans. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had my hair cut by a professional. I went from cutting my bangs into a crooked zigzag at the age of four to mastering several different styles by the time I reached thirty. My first and only manicure and pedicure excursion occurred just two summers ago, and I’ve never had a massage or visited a spa. I barely registered jewelry on my radar, so I didn’t bother piercing my ears until seven years ago. When my son decided to pierce his ears, I went along and decided on a whim to discover the whimsical world of earrings. Every Christmas, I ask for a bottle of perfume which I carefully ration to last until the next holiday season. I broke down and joined the world by purchasing a cell phone, which I kept for six years before getting a new one last summer. (I changed carriers, so I had no choice!) The car I drive is currently only twelve-years-old, but I’m renowned for driving the same vehicle for twenty years. I haven’t up-dated the television and sound system in the family room, so they’re eighteen years old. I’ve forgotten the ages of the washer, dryer, refrigerator, and microwave. Our rule for appliances simply states: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Over the years, I’ve had female friends question my assertions that I’m happy, and I admit I went through a rough period in my thirties when I whined about my limited selection of clothing for work. At that time in my life, I fantasized about moving into a bigger house, taking a yearly vacation, and going out to eat whenever and wherever I wanted. When my father died so unexpectedly ten years ago, my perspective changed. I reassessed the things I valued—and discovered I really don’t value things at all. Instead, Time became a hot commodity for me. I treasure the moments spent with my family and friends. I understand the importance of piddling in the garden or strolling through the property. I love to linger over a delightful phrase in a book or craft my own perfect prose or poem. None of these activities require expensive clothing or fancy shoes, yet all of them bring great pleasure to my life.


Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman            

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Open House"

                                    
           


           My parents didn’t earn much money when I was young. Not long before Dad died, he found his final military paycheck stub sandwiched between old tax forms. Imagine his amazement when he viewed a monthly income of just over $500. Somehow, my parents never missed a mortgage payment, car payment, or utility bill. They managed to keep three children well fed and well dressed. Of course, my parents invented the stay at home vacation. We never travelled too far from home in order to avoid hotel or motel bills. All of us looked forward to Dad’s vacation time because we got to eat out three meals a day. We visited the missions, toured the zoo, explored Natural Bridge Caverns, and discovered nearby towns like Wimberley or Fredericksburg. My parents showed their creativity in other ways. One of my favorites? Open House Sundays! New home builders often showed homes and offered cookies and Kool-Aid. Sometimes, free hotdogs with all the trimmings lured us into new neighborhoods. I loved touring the model homes. In a way, I felt like I entered giant doll houses. We’d make up stories about the families that “lived” in these homes as we visited imaginary couples and their children. Through all of the “in town” vacations and Sunday Open Houses, I never realized these enabled my parents to give us nearly free outings. Instead, I saw these activities as fun and amusing. To this day, I still love taking day trips to small Texas towns. I don’t do Open Houses on Sunday afternoons, but I enjoy watching home improvement and decorating marathon shows. They are my pot roasts and mashed potatoes!
 
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman