Structure and the Storm

There are routines I engage in every morning of my life. I get up at a certain time, I watch the news and drink my coffee, and I shower in a certain order and fix my hair and makeup in a certain manner. I follow the same patterns at least every weekday and even my weekends have some routinized method to them. While working, I follow specific patterns, although the problems and issues of the day shift, I handle things in the same routine manners. Routine is the structure of my day, as it is most people.

Even this blog begins to feel routine after a while. I try to write it like clockwork every Monday morning. Although the topics change, depending upon what ideas I’m struggling with, I still plug away at writing it weekly. It is a part of my routine and at times, I feel disconnected from the emotion it engenders. I try to switch up the times that I do things, the order in which I get ready, the feelings with which I engage while writing this blog, but everything still feels so routine.

Routines are neutral, aren’t they? They are the rhythms by which we live our lives and they lend order and structure to each day. Without our little routines, our days would be chaotic and messy. We all have those days when we wake up late, the routine disrupted, rushing out the door and forgetting things. Those days feel lost as we struggle to keep up with the schedules and plans we’ve so carefully put in place. Routines are not a bad thing in and of themselves and I find them necessary, regardless of how much they sometimes bore me.

Aside from this blog, my writing is not part of my routine. I don’t know that it should be. The ordered, structured part of me wants to fit my creative writing into my routine, set a time and place to engage with it regularly. I feel as though if I could just routinize it, I would find success and publication finally. If I could just lay out the pattern of my writing, wedge it into the structure of my day or week on a schedule, I would be a better writer. I would prove to myself that I am committed and I would reach the goals I’ve set for myself.

Those successful writers out there, the ones whose names we all know and who have structured their lives around their writing, they have created a routine that includes regularly putting words on paper. If I could just manage that, plan for it, perhaps I could I find their level of success.

There is always a “but” to this whole idea, though. I worry that it’s just lazy thinking, but my ideas fly from the chaos, the ether most often. I find that I can’t enforce a routine on when those ideas appear and when I’m ready to write. If I structured my writing, forced myself to sit down and write on a regular schedule, would my writing lose something? I worry that it will. In the past, when I’ve shoved past the blocks and written my stories without feeling the inspiration or the chaos, they don’t seem to flow as easily, they don’t make sense or they lack my spare and signature writing style.

Of course, there are other aspects of my writing I could routinize, the editing and the submitting. I could create spreadsheets and send off stories to contests and publications. I could read up on my craft, study my chosen path through the advice and the wisdom of those who have gone before me. I could outline and plan for future projects. There are definitely parts of this process that could stand to be routinized, scheduled and planned to aid in delivering me the publication I crave.

The stories themselves, though, are not routine. I don’t think I can make the ideas and the inspiration fit into my patterns and plans. Were I to do so, I feel they would lose something special, something magical, which makes them strong and true and honest. While so much of my life is routine, this one piece that makes me whole must fly free. To force the thoughts and ideas, to schedule the crafting of my stories, to regulate the voices of my characters, would only lead to yet another routine, lacking in emotion or care. I’m a planner, a scheduler, but my stories must escape that tendency of mine.

Writing is wild and chaotic. It is the storm I anticipate and the energy of thunder and lightning crashing on my world. It is the froth of the waves and the ripple of a windy day. It comes and it goes and I hold on desperately, waiting for those moments to appear when I am swept away and routines melt. I hold my breath and I gather my resources. I wait, breathless.

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The Writing Cycle

Obviously, I neglected to blog on Memorial Day. Of my lapse, I don’t have much to explain it except I’ve been struggling with a just-diagnosed and nasty strain of bronchitis. It was completely sapping my energy for a couple of weeks. It seems deeper than that, though. That is just my surface excuse. Writing for me seems to be very cyclical. If I’m lucky, I hit a deep vein of inspiration that lasts a month or two, frantically crafting and honing my writing muscles at all hours of day and night. Then, the dry spell overtakes me and it is effort just to record my thoughts by way of my blog.

Currently, I’m in a deep, dry spell. After all my enthusiasm for publishing, my planning for my next project, my trilogy via my blog that still has not been completed, I find that I am utterly without inspiration or creativity again. It’s all I can do to keep up with work and day-to-day life. It frustrates me no end, the ebb and flow of my passion. Small ideas and feelings of guilt circle in my head, but ultimately, I find no time or energy to get anything done officially. Instead, I putter around, focused on the mundane and promising myself I will “pull” it together soon.

In this case, it is also interesting that when I ceased using the treadmill in the mornings, I felt the well dry up. Strangely, I found that dedicated time walking three mornings a week gave me a bubble of time when all I thought about was my writing. I obsessed and crafted and planned. Since I’ve stopped walking in the past month, because of bronchitis now or a lack of time in the mornings before my illness, I seem to have cooled my own passion and creativity.

In retrospect though, that is just my excuse this time. My writing nature has always been cyclical. I grasp those times quickly and hold them closely when I feel inspired because they always fade back into this desperate desire without inspiration again. I don’t ever stop feeling guilty about this. If I were a “real” writer, I could force myself to write. I could make myself passionate about it and I could craft my work despite any lack of inspiration. Thus, I must not be a “real” writer.

Would it help if I were to go back to the treadmill, after this bout with bronchitis ends, of course? Would it help to dedicate specific time to writing and crafting and planning each day? Would I be able to force the feeling or at least, go through the motions until the feeling once again came upon me? Am I too complacent about needing a feeling, a spark, to write or is that just a handy excuse I use for deeper reasons?

For instance, I don’t feel like a “real” writer ever. I feel as though I play at it, like a game. It doesn’t support me or my family. It is a “hobby” of mine that I indulge from time to time. I’m not suggesting I rush out and quit my day job, focusing exclusively on my writing, but perhaps if I had more invested, more on the line, I would take it all more seriously. Is it possible I will never feel like a “real” writer or be a “real” writer until I have more riding on the outcome of my writing? It’s a bit of a Catch-22, really. Were I to actually quit my job and focus on writing, count on it to support me, I suspect I would be a good deal less cyclical because I would be forcing my own hand, but by the same token, I have too many bills to pay, too much invested in my job to just walk away from it. That wouldn’t be sensible.

I have been working my way through a book on how to be a successful person. The latest chapter informs me that successful people are willing to make tradeoffs, give up something to get something more important. I’m not yet willing to give up my career successes for my writing. I’m simply not in a position to do so. In fact, I’m starting certification classes soon for my career, my day job that will steal even more of my time and energy. It is an investment in my own future in this career.

What does that say about my writing? From my current position, a dry and dusty lack of creativity consuming me, it says that I’m not yet willing to sacrifice everything to be a “real” writer. Naturally, that makes me feel guilty and less than committed to my “hobby”. Those are feelings that are real and validated and I will have to struggle with them over time. I will have to forgive myself for being practical instead of a dreamer.

Meanwhile, I will wait for the seasons to change, for the current cycle of low passion to come to an end. It always does and I will be waiting to seize my moments, to write while the juices pulse in my veins. It is the only thing I can do.

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My Time Has Arrived

I am poised on the edge, prepared to embark on a serious journey into the heart of publishing. My very first major project is complete. I’ve taken the time period from October 2013 through June 2014, appropriately nine months as I feel as though I carried and birthed it, and I’m ready to weave those blog posts and resultant prompt-based stories into one narrative. I also intend to self-publish the entire project.

I’ve laid out the component pieces in roughly chronological order. At this point, I need to entwine them into one manuscript, format and edit. At that point, I will work with the behemoth of Amazon’s self-publishing industry to ensure this project sees the light of day. Whether it meets any kind of measurable success, I have no clue. I simply know that the time has come to push it out of me and into the world.

I chose that time period because I started the project that October and it naturally comes to a conclusion the following June. My blog posts became more randomly centered, less writing-based after that and my stories trickled off in production as my life became more complicated. Although the project was initially intended to be a one year effort, and I’m still quite obviously blogging, that nine month period was truly the heart of my original efforts.

This raises the question of editing. Beyond grammar and structure, should I rewrite anything? The blogs were published publicly already and I will honor what I originally wrote aside from cleaning up the language and making sure they read in a grammatically correct manner. The stories, though, are another, well, story. Some of my early efforts are halting and choppy. Should I rewrite them? What if the process of editing and rewriting forms them into something else, something unintended?

I honestly believe most of the story writing to be strong, quirky and dark. I stand by it. But a few of the initial stories struggled as I tried to find my groove in the beginning. They don’t quite hold together as well as later efforts, as I found a rhythm to my writing. Even some of the later stories are not quite as well-written, not as appealing, as other efforts. If I start rewriting, where would I stop? I could probably argue that all of them could be “touched” up.

That doesn’t feel true to me, though. When I started the project, the fits and starts of finding my feet, I was writing from my heart and soul. Although some of those stories aren’t as strong as others, they were honest. I used those pieces as a springboard to greater writing in the long run. In some cases, my blog discusses the struggles I had with the stories, laments my own efforts in finding the voices and characters to populate my stories. Changing those stories now, even if they would read better and flow more naturally, would necessitate rewriting of my blog. That is something I’m unwilling to do.

I’m a perfectionist. I dislike the idea of releasing anything for public consumption that hasn’t been vetted, edited and focused to within an inch of its life. However, there is a greater message here. My struggle as a writer, my desire to become better as a teller of tales, the growth of my craft, all stem from those early efforts. Changing them now is akin to looking back at my life with 20/20 vision and having the power to change it, to change me.

Those early pieces tell a story about me that is important to the integrity of my own story. I grew as a writer, an artist, through those early pieces. To alter them now, to alter my own voice and the history of this project, would be dishonest, misleading. Each blog written and released, each story crafted and cherished build to a crescendo of a greater tale…the story of my persistence, my drive and my motivation; changing any one note in that melody, changes the entire story.

In the next few weeks I will gather, format and edit my project. I will work to publish it. I will release it into the world the way it was meant to be born, imperfect and alive. I will expose myself, my voice, to critics and champions and pray for success in some tangible way. I will eventually move on to new projects, new characters and voices, but this initial effort is the edifice upon which all future projects are built. This larger story, this story of me, will be as true and honest as it was meant to be when I wrote it.

I am poised and ready. Are you?

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The Fire of Desire

Life has gotten in my way of writing again. There may be a few of you waiting on my final story in my prompt trilogy and I apologize for not posting it yet. In fact, I’ve not yet written it. My mind has been full of other things and my character just isn’t able to break through and speak to me. I hope this will be my week. That amidst all the noise and discordance of my life, I can put her words on paper, release her voice to be heard.

Truly, I’m struggling with this blog today, as well. I don’t feel like writing. I don’t want this to feel rambling and disjointed, but I don’t know what to write this morning. I don’t feel like much of a writer. I wish I always wanted to write, to create with my words other places, to record the voices that ebb and flow in my mind. I don’t though. Is that normal for a writer? Do other writers sometimes struggle with their craft like I do; a struggle not defined by an ability or talent but by a desire?

I feel as if I should always want to choose writing. I should suffer when I’m not writing. I should always flirt with my ideas and creativity in my mind; even when so much else is happening in my life. That is not the case, though. There are days, like today, like the past two weeks with my story, when I simply do not feel like writing. It becomes yet another obligation, a chore, in a long list of chores. Ultimately, that makes me feel guilty, less than dedicated, less like a “real” writer.

Perhaps it is good that I’ve committed to posting this blog every week. It forces my feet to the fire. It holds me to a standard and makes me think about my craft. It feels onerous this morning. I feel overwhelmed by the task. But, I’m doing it. I may not make sense, I may ramble a bit, but I’m meeting my responsibility, the one I’ve publicly proclaimed. I’m writing something this morning.

I will feel good about that later. I will feel as though I accomplished something. I will be able to pat myself on the back and check it off my lists of tasks and celebrate that, regardless of all the other noise and the lack of my desire, I’m writing my blog. If I can do this, it should open that door in my mind that leads to other ideas, other voices breaking through. In the past, I’ve found that just by putting one foot in front of the other, just by forcing my own words to the forefront, I can crack the door enough to allow through the desire to create.

I’ve read in various memoirs and books on the writing craft that writers dedicate time, force themselves to practice their craft. I know, intellectually, that like anything else in life, we don’t always wish to partake. We get tired, cranky, uninspired. Writing is no different from any other practice in our lives and at times, as writers, we must push it; we must start the process from obligation and wait for the creativity to take flight. I still feel guilty, though. Shouldn’t I want to write all of time?

The craft of writing is different, though. Just by putting these words down, stringing these thoughts together, making myself blog, I can feel the juices starting to flow. Nothing else in my life works the way this does as a commitment. I may not always want to write, I may have to make myself sit down at the computer and type words on the screen, but it always inspires me eventually. Perhaps it’s not the initial effort that counts so much, the times when I have to force the beginning of what I want to write, but the ultimate feeling, the flow of the words and the choice to record them.

I don’t even know that that makes any sense. The words are still tangled in my mind; the ease of my creation cascading onto this page is interrupted by fits and starts this morning. The web I want to weave, the emotion I wish to inspire, the ideas I want to convey don’t flow today. I am struggling to make sense of my own complicated emotions concerning my writing. I’m questioning my own validity as a writer.

Desire grows, however and words come faster. Thoughts and ideas dance in my head. Had I the time, I might lose myself in my writing this morning. The commitment to this blog breaks through a block I wasn’t even fully aware of in regards to my craft. I may sometimes be a reluctant writer, but I am a writer. In my own way, my desire always burns in my soul. The practicality of the act itself is oftentimes difficult to tap into, but the desire nests inside me.

This isn’t the perfect blog, just as my stories aren’t always perfect. Nothing about life is perfect. But, I’m here, present and accounted for and this morning that’s all that I can ask of myself. Desire is growing slowly, but ideas are beginning to circulate in my head. This space for writing I’ve found inside myself is always available as long as I start. At times, that means forcing my feet to the fire, going through the motions.

That counts, right?

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Crafting a Better Writer

During a family trip to Ocean Shores over the weekend, I had opportunity to have an epiphany of sorts. I rifled through the pictures I had taken, camera always in hand, and noticed how many of them show my loved ones in side profile, from a distance or their backs. The only real pictures of me are the selfies I seem to driven to snap. Rarely does a photo include me with any or all of my family members. There is a distance I maintain when I’m spending time with my family.

Relying on the camera, fiddling with it, adjusting it and framing pictures during my time with them make me a voyeur. I witness them having fun, connecting, engaging, but I hold back, always recording but not always enjoying the moment. I think I’m driven to take selfies just to prove I was even there because it is not often I feel comfortable handing over the camera, stepping out from behind the lens, and really inserting myself into my family’s good times.

Naturally, that makes me think of my writing. In a way, I do the same thing with my writing as a shield. Often, when I’m in situations or having experiences or meeting people, I find myself intellectualizing the entire thing. I break down people for their character traits. I delve into situations for the value they might someday have for me as stories. I treat fresh experiences as potential to be mined for information and ideas instead of losing myself in moment.

Do my stories suffer for this? After all, I am usually so busy observing, analyzing and categorizing, I fail to experience what is happening around me. I think of myself as a very empathetic person; I have to be to write the stories of the characters in the manner I do. However, it seems possible I might be missing something, missing some kind of empathy that allows me to fully experience the world around me. My shield, while protective, has the dual purpose of keeping things, people out. Might my writing eventually suffer for that?

I think, to some degree, I’ve always been this way. It is easier for me, more comfortable, to keep people and situations at a distance from my own emotional response. My interactions with new experiences are always defined by an internal set of boundaries. There are very, very few people who can navigate those personal boundaries with any measure of success in my life. Consequently, much of the material I draw from when I write is the result of my experiences with those very few and the experiences I have both through them and with them.

Boundaries are important. Were we to allow ourselves to be buffeted by the winds of life constantly, we would be raw and open, always reacting. We have to have a shield of some kind, but does that limit me as a writer? Am I a better writer for the observation or for the personal experiences? Do both have value? Must I have one without the other?

Of course, there are also the moments. Each of us is most specifically defined, not by our boundaries, but by our moments in life. Those experiences make us who we are today. Every moment, every experience changes us tomorrow. If we close ourselves off too tightly, if we always analyze and never feel, if we persist in taking pictures at a distance, never zooming in to engage, aren’t we limiting our own creative process?

If we make ourselves only into writers or amateur photographers, without considering the circumstances and the feelings that surround any given moment, if we fail to engage and connect with the people in our lives, we will never tap the full range of human emotion or motivation possible to craft a good tale. Enforcing my boundaries so rigidly without understanding the toll that takes on my artistic nature is misguided.

For today, I will put aside the camera. I will feel the relationships in my world. I will connect on a deeper level. I will engage in the moments. Awkward though it might be at first, as with anything it will eventually come more easily to me. I will do this today for my own development as a writer.

I will also truly experience today for my own growth as a person. And, perhaps, I can do it again tomorrow and the next day until the moments add up; both to a better writer, but also a better human.

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Poised to Fly

I’m a bit on pins and needles this morning. I’m poised to launch a project into the publishing world and there are so many decisions to make. This past weekend, I gathered together my manuscript…just a very rough copy of it. I haven’t edited or formatted yet. But, I made some key decisions about where the story begins (October 2013) and where it ends (June 2014). I think the flow between blog posts and stories written is strong and it shows a tremendous amount of growth both in my writing and my personal reflections.

True, it was to be a year-long project and I cut it off sooner than that. We traveled to Hawaii last June and I think the end of that trip, those final blog posts and stories, are a natural place to end things. After that, my posts became less an exploration of writing and more a series of personal pleas for understanding. I stopped writing stories after that, by and large. I started a new job, we moved, my family life went to slow, ragged hell. That June, that trip was the end of a critical time for me in this project and it’s enough.

At this point, I’m prepared to hand over the entire manuscript to my favorite editor and muse. I will let her peruse it, provide feedback, look for errors. However, short of grammar and spelling-type errors, I won’t change much. I won’t rewrite stories or tweak blog posts. This was my writing process, for what it was worth and it would feel dishonest to alter anything at this point. I need it to stand for what it became, to show my actual thought process and development in “real time”.

Once she has read the entire manuscript, I will make some edits and then, I have to make decisions. At one point, I lamented the fact that I would never see my book traditionally published, but after further delving into the world of Amazon self-publishing, I realize that doesn’t have to be true. I can publish in book form. They even have fee-based editing and design consultation. So, although it might be a bit of a strange animal when it is complete, between flash fiction and blog posts, I choose to keep the creation whole. I will publish it in book form. I will have an actual book to share.

I am ready to start new projects. I am ready to push on through to the next story. I am ready to open my mind to new characters and new voices. I am stopped by this past project. I need closure. I may never sell even twenty copies of my book. I may never be the next great voice for my generation. I may never find true success with this manuscript, but I will close it out. I will finish it off. I will draw that line that says this project is complete and the next project can begin.

Particularly after reading through my entire eight months of blog posts and stories, I realize that one of my constant refrains was to publish the project in its entirety, to see my work in traditional book format and to feel as though I accomplished something. I can now say that I did, I have. I read through the whole thing from start to finish and it amazed me. The effort, the growing pains, the struggle to write, all of it was worthwhile because I’m proud of myself. I really achieved something incredible, a testament to a writer growing by leaps and bounds. I need to place the final punctuation now on that time of my life so I can pick up my metaphorical pen and craft a new chapter in my story.

So, I’m antsy and nervous. I feel as though I’m balanced on the very balls of my feet, taking that leap and hoping there are arms to catch me as I fly through the air. But even if there aren’t, even if nothing becomes of this project, even if I never make a dime and never achieve any kind of notoriety because of this effort, I did accomplish something important.

I found my voice. I found my creativity. I found myself learning and mastering, adapting and altering, flexing and contracting. I found my story. I think it’s a tale well-told.

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Prompt #3 (Trilogy Part 2)

I wanted to get this posted. I’m almost afraid I wrote the second story in this trilogy in some haste. It doesn’t feel like my best work. This prompt was “warm milk”. Stay tuned for the final story based on the prompt “new shoes”. I expect to post it next week and it will close this small cycle in the life of one family.

Cinnamon Milk

The whisk barely touches the pan as she swirls the slowly warming milk. When she touches her index finger to the liquid, it spreads a gentle warmth throughout her body. Sensing that it is ready, she pours the frothy stream into her favorite pink ceramic mug, the one that says Happy Mother’s Day in glittery purple lettering, a gift from her young daughter last May. She doesn’t like pink or purple, but since this was a carefully chosen gift, a tribute to her skills in mothering from an 8-eight-year-old, it has become her favorite.

She sips it, careful because it is hot and then remembers she must still add the final ingredient. The grandmother who raised her, who passed away shortly after her own daughter was born, always taught her that the warm milk needs cinnamon, a light dusting on top, to bring comfort. Shaking the cinnamon container, she dribbles the rusty orange sprinkles across the steaming milk. She watches it settle, moving the mug in a counterclockwise motion to let the cinnamon sink into the white foam.

The process of warming the milk, finding the tools, adding the cinnamon, consumes her. It wipes her mind clear of the tossing and turning in the bedroom, the money worries, and the heavy arm of her husband resting on her narrow shoulders. Now that the milk is complete, the bad dreams and anguish over their situation rushes back in and she collapses onto a hard kitchen chair, knocking her knee against the table leg and stifling her impulse to cry out at the pain.

The milk laps the top of the mug, sending small trickles cascading down onto her fingers, sticky and wet. She sets the mug down and licks her fingers, cleansing herself of the milk and cinnamon concoction. Leaning back in her chair, she gazes around the dimly lit kitchen, her work here done by nothing more than a stovetop light to keep from waking her husband. They sleep in the living room of the one bedroom apartment, allowing their daughter full reign over the bedroom.

She absentmindedly sips the milk, listening to the light banging coming from the apartment next door. This is not the life she dreamed about when she was younger, but at twenty-three, it is the life she is living. She would like to get her GED as she dropped out of school to have her daughter. She would like to have a space where she can store her books, so many of them given away or even sold for the small amounts of money they brought to help feed her family.

She is not working at the grocery tonight, toiling away to stock the shelves and label the products. Instead, she is here in her tiny kitchen, the gritty vinyl under her bare feet torn and sliced from past residents. The milk warms her as she tastes the flakes of cinnamon, melting on her tongue and sliding down her throat. She leans back and closes her eyes and thinks about the house they will own someday.

It will have a huge kitchen, with an island and bar stools and a nook where the sun shines and plants hang, bobbing above her head as she cooks elaborate meals from the recipes she collects and serves her family. Her daughter will be there, head bent over a textbook from college, a boyfriend settled in beside her and guiding her as she works through complicated problems. Her husband will be puttering in his work space, playing his Springsteen as loud as he wants because the nearest neighbors will be so far away it won’t matter.

She will have a room filled with books and a cozy armchair where she can curl up on rainy days and read, or watch the rain drip down the sturdy panes of glass, tendrils of water curling down outside her window as she weaves fantasies. Her daughter will be working on a medical degree or something of that nature. She will be studious and responsible, hard working. They will provide her with everything she needs to have the best of in life because that is what good parents do.

Dreaming of that future, the one she can taste with every sip of her warm milk, she is interrupted by a noise. Rising from the kitchen chair and stepping carefully across the minefield of broken linoleum, she picks up her mug and cradles it in both hands, the warmth seeping into her bones. They can’t afford to heat the apartment properly and she is always cold. Stepping away from the kitchen, she peeks into her daughter’s room, the girl sprawled under three layers of blankets, quiet, even breathing emanating from her throat as she cuddles with her only doll.

Leaning on the doorframe, she watches her daughter sleep, imagines her in a princess bed, curtains delicately tied back and pink pillows and bed sheets swaddling her small frame. Instead the girl is hugged by a ratty bedspread, vile yellow and torn. But, in her mind’s eye, as she looks around, she sees shelves of children’s books, piles of stuffed animals, pictures of ballerinas and clowns, a rack of new shoes. She is gifted at seeing what she wants and she sighs as she cuddles the mug close to her chest.

Hearing the same noise, she turns to the pullout sofa bed where her husband is curled on one side, cuddling himself to stay warm under a thin sheet and knotty green blanket. He is lightly snoring, the noise she hears, as he snorts and burrows further under the covers. Even in sleep, his brow is furrowed and she pictures him years in the future, wrinkles marring his handsome face, the marks of maturity upon him as they nestle in a grand, King bed together. Silky sheets and down comforter, along with their bodies, will provide enough heat and they will sleep soundly, secure in what they’ve accomplished.

Reaching down, she tugs the blankets up under his chin, gently smoothing back his hair with one hand as he grunts in sleepy protest before settling back under. Taking the now cooling mug, the milk almost gone, she wanders back to the kitchen and places it in the rusty sink, before turning off the stove light and preparing to go back to bed.

It is late and she is tired. Her feet are freezing, her toes little ice cubes against the hard floor. She clutches her thin robe around her more tightly and for a moment, she pretends it is plush and soft. She envisions her big kitchen, skylights dark and rain pattering down as they are snug in their home.

Whatever their future might bring, whatever mysteries in their lives are left to unfold and paths yet to take, she knows one thing will always remain the same. Her grandmother was a wise woman, bustling around, preparing her warm milk on the long, dark nights fraught with fears and anxieties. That milk could be counted upon to soothe her terror and send her back into the arms of sleep.

As she wanders in the nights now and in the future, she will always find comfort and strength in the magical elixir of warm milk and cinnamon. Soon, she will teach her daughter that lesson and share with her dreams for that future, together and safe.

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