Fiction

By Jupiter, collage by Marilyn Whitehorse

Old School

Tired of the grey days. Her friends off on sunny vacations. The silent house. She walks to the neighborhood pub, something she never does alone, making it almost feel as if she’s on a vacation or in her twenties again, when dropping into bars alone was not much different than running into the market.

 

She finds a seat by the fireplace, bobs her head to the music, and enjoys the over-priced drink of the day. A few more people sit by the fireplace and she wonders if they’d like her seat, but she likes her seat so she doesn’t move. In her twenties, she would have carried a book or a notebook. In her sixties, the thought of hauling out her phone to look preoccupied is upsetting.

The people next to her seem to have come from seeing a movie. They interrupt each other, highlighting the plot, the facial expressions, the music, the final scenes. She realizes she has seen the film, laughs a bit, then leans over to add her own two cent’s worth. Someone tells her to pull her chair over and join them. She can’t believe her luck.

They exchange names. Talk about ticks while out hiking, careless drivers while biking, and someone recognizes her as the woman he sees walking the cute dog all over town. “They look just alike,” he laughs. His friends look momentarily embarrassed. “No, really. The dog wears this pink harness, and is this cute white furry creature, and I remember you wearing a matching pink coat.”

“That isn’t deliberate,” she mutters. “I mean, the coat. Well, the hair, well, that just happens.” They laugh and they include her drink with their next round.   

“I love your white hair,” Maura coos. “I wish my mom would quit dying hers.”

Just like that, she no longer feels as if she’s in her twenties, remembering when she’d head out of the bar with a young man looking for a late-night breakfast diner, an invite to one or the other’s apartment, a long walk through town. Then she returns to the present, back to her sixties, and a new but old Cowboy Junkies song plays, and she says, “I love  ‘Don’t Let it Bring you Down.’ I can’t believe this is the Cowboy Junkies.”  

“You are so old school!”  Maura holds her glass for a toast: “To the old school!”

To the old school, she thinks, the day no longer feeling so grey. 

 

 

Author's Comment

“A Temporary Guest” was taken from a current work in progress.

 

 

The Zen of Art
by Carolyn Schlam
  Carolyn Schlam invites artists and non-artists alike to engage their imaginations and explore a pathway to affirmative living and joyously creative art making. This is a book that can be read and reread and would make a wonderful gift for a contemplative person or for anyone who enjoys making or appreciating art. Carolyn is the author of THE CREATIVE PATH: A VIEW FROM THE STUDIO, ON THE MAKING OF ART and THE JOY OF ART: HOW TO LOOK AT, APPRECIATE, AND TALK ABOUT ART, and the forthcoming sequel MORE JOY OF ART. She is a working painter and sculptor. Learn more about her at http://www.carolynschlam.com.
A captivating exploration of the intersection between creativity and self-discovery. Each chapter delves into different facets of life and art, offering profound insights into acceptance, non-attachment, imperfection, and gratitude . . . Whether you’re an artist or someone seeking inspiration and wisdom, The Zen of Art is a treasure trove that resonates with the soul, fostering a newfound appreciation for the art of living. — Mark Reid, host of the podcast Zen Sammich
   
Available from https://www.shantiarts.co/, Amazon, Bookshop.org, and other major booksellers.

Bios

Diane Payne’s most recent and forthcoming publications include: Best of Microfiction 2022, Quarterly West, Cutleaf, Miramachi Flash, Microlit Almanac, Spry Literary Journal, Another Chicago Magazine, Whale Road Review, Fourth River, Pine Hills Review, Tiny Spoon, Ellipsis, Bending Genres, New York Times, Unlikely Stories, Hot Flash Fiction, The Blue Nib, anti-heroin chic, X-ray Literary Magazine, Oyster Review, Novus, Notre Dame Review, Obra/Artiface, Reservoir, Southern Fugitives, Watershed Review, Superstition Review, Windmill Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Lunch Ticket, Split Lip Review, The Offing, Elke: A little Journal, Punctuate, Outpost 19,  Abandon Journal, McNeese Review, The Meadow, Burnt Pine, Story South, and Five to One. 

Marilyn Whitehorse describes her layered life: "In the topside world, I teach academic writing to people who are learning English at Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu, Hawaii. In the river that flows beneath I am a writer, photographer and collage artist."

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