Archive for the ‘Puget Sound’ Tag

When Dark Closes In, Chapter VII – Ferry Crossing

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN

Chapter VII – Ferry Crossing

1966, Puget Sound, WA.

    They stood at the rail watching as the Space Needle loomed larger, closer, beckoning them back to Seattle’s metropolis. Their day excursion was coming to a close like the near perfect last three months of summer. The ferry’s wake from waves rolling in, then out, and in again to sea was hypnotic, soothing as she snuggled in his embrace. The choppy water sent cold sprays into their face as the wind smacked the sea with each assault. Seagulls squawked and flew between the quay and ferry announcing its scheduled return.

The official draft notice came that week allowing him two weeks to put things in order. He turned in his resignation at work, withdrew his fall enrollment from the engineering institute, had started packing up things in his apartment, said goodbyes to friends and family, and would report to Fort Lewis the following week. The remaining days went too fast with precious little time together.

They purchased some things from a store early that morning, then headed for the ferry crossings, pulled into a line with other cars being loaded and drove over to Port Angeles. They found a quiet shore, picnicked on the sand with smoked salmon, cheese and crackers, and bottle of wine, and browsed through quaint shops along the piers. Now, as the familiar and predictable came into view, they thought how soon it too, would end.

She would not be returning to Notre Dame for her sophomore year, but have her baby, work in town, live at home, and wait for his tour to end. Wait for the day when he would return to find her, and their child here. She had not told him that he would be a father. She was three months into her pregnancy. Larger, lose tee shirts and shorts helped hide the small swell of her abdomen. It was more difficult hiding the increasing nausea she had daily now. She did not want him going into a war feeling anxious, worrying about her, making himself vulnerable. She would try to not dwell on tomorrow, only today, this moment, looking into the setting sun over Puget Sound. But, the uncertain, unknown gnawed at her like dark shadows. She wanted only sunrises, with promising bright skies, and sunsets with restful nights.

Scott was the first to break the silence. “Are you feeling OK? Still having that nausea thing?”

“A little. I think it’s just… the choppiness of the water, crossing over today that made me a little queasy. But, I had the most wonderful time. It was one of the happiest days we’ve ever spent together. I wish we could make it last indefinitely.”

“There will be plenty more, Jen. I promise. When I’m back. You’re not getting away from me that easily, you know?”

She looked up, searching his eyes. “I don’t intend to. I will be here, Scott.” There is that little bit of extra that holds us together, more than a single day, or single moment in time.

“Good. Because, when I come back, after Vietnam, we’re going back out to Port Angeles again, to the same shore, same spot where we had our picnic, and carved our names in the sand. And do it all over again.”

And we will add another name in the sand, with ours.

“Do you think it’s presumptuous for of us to believe things can return to normal one day, after the war?” she asked.

“I don’t know, Jen. But, the one thing that will never change is that I love you. I always have. I always will. I think I knew it back when we were in high school.”

She laughed. “Every time you showed up at my front door, my dad would say, ‘That boy is back.’

“And, before him and your mom, I will get down on one knee and propose, so he can see that ‘that boy’ is serious about his daughter and wants to marry her.”

“I think sometimes you misunderstood my father. A lot of his bull crap was just his way of testing you. I think down deep somewhere he actually likes you. My mom, too.”

“Really? You could have fooled me. For a lumberjack I half expected him to pull out an ax or something from behind his back when I came over to see you. Your mom kind of looked at me with that little half-smile like the proper British folks do when they’re thinking something, but don’t want to really say it, so give you that kind of look. You’re the little bit of sweetness in between them.” He cupped her head in his hands and kissed her, not wanting to stop.

When their lips separated, she asked, “Do you want kids of your own…someday, Scott?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“Well, I just thought I would ask how you felt about them. I wanted to be certain we think alike on those kinds of things, you know, since you plan on asking me to marry you.” She smiled at him.

The skyline came into focus, moving from out of a heavy haze into a clear night, dusk settling like the noisy seagulls on wharves looking for food scraps.

“You bet.” Taking her hand, he added, ” Come on. Let’s go find my car.” Passengers started for the stairwells down to the vehicle holding decks to retrieve their cars. Scott drove off the ramp and they merged out into Seattle’s crowded, congestive traffic.

_________________

To be continued

Joyce E. Johnson


THE ATTIC

The below story is fiction. It is based upon a word prompt for this week from Woven Dreams – A Creative Prompts Blog.  It is also a newly created scene and chapter I have written for my current longer fiction story, When Dark Closes In. Comments and feedback are welcomed. And if interested in reading the previous chapters and scenes from this story you can find them in the recent posts column and under the Fiction category.

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The Attic (Literary Fiction – A Scene from, WHEN DARK CLOSES IN)

1976 – Clear Creek, Wa.

With her parents both, now deceased Jennifer had so much to do to get their house ready to sell. It sat empty, but she could still feel their presence in every room. Where to begin, cleaning out and sorting through things no longer wanted or needed. She started with the attic.

Changing into a pair of old jeans, tee-shirt, and hoodie she took empty boxes up stairs to the second floor. Standing on a three-step stool ladder she reached up and pulled back the attic opening, grabbed hold the attached fold out ladder and pulled it down through the opening and climbed up into the attic. She pulled up empty boxes, and a flash light lantern resting on the ladder rung in case the overhead ceiling light was burnt out. It felt like fifteen or so degrees cooler in the attic without the upper portion insulated. The dank smell of mold and mildew from floor boards permeated the room. She pulled the light switch cord. It still worked but the bulb was weak. It gave little light so she switched on the lantern and pulled it over to a stool and sat down. Cold winds blew, rattling a weather vane attached to the roof, its noise seeming so much louder in the attic than down on the first floor.

She began with filled boxes, going through each, all full of things that went back to the early years before she married. Some of the boxes went back to her years as a teenager before college, while in high school. 1963, 1964, 1965, and on they went, all marked and labeled with the contents. So many things saved, souvenirs from trips, carnival trinkets, programs saved from plays she performed in while in school productions, achievement awards and certificates for various events associated with her drama class, tickets from football games she attended.

She opened another box, with pictures. There were so many of him, many with them together. There were pressed flowers, jewelry and mementos he’d given her, the corsage, the pair of high-heeled shoes and her prom dress, its once vibrant color of the deep blue now faded to a dirty hue, the color of the Pacific ocean washing ashore at Puget Sound when she and he…and there on the top of all were newspaper clippings of the war that had separated them.

She would not allow herself to remember. She had shut out those memories years ago, trying to forget and move on, but she couldn’t. She could not organize her life, much less her thoughts. The memories forced their way back into her head, here in this dark attic with its cold, flickering bulb as if to remind her all she once had, and could not forget. Would there be no escape from the shadows of depression that came over her? The dark dreams, the nightmares that would not stop that oppressed her, clawing at her throat like a pair of hands choking her until she could not breathe. Could she escape the tormenting darkness that closed in around her life? How would she tell her son about his father?

Her own father once said, “Honey, the shadows in our life are a part of the process of growing, maturing. The painful parts and the hurts we will always remember, as we will the good times. In time they heal, making it possible to see the light. But, time cannot heal a wound if first there is no reason to cover the scar.”

She left the boxes siting open where they lay and quickly climbed down the ladder, and went outside. Taking deep breaths of cold air blowing off the Sound from the Pacific Northwest she lifted her face towards the sun.

God, help me find your light.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson – 2013



WHEN DARK CLOSES IN – Flashback, Chapter I, Part I

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN  

Flashback

Chapter I, Part I

Newspapers lay scattered across a table in the hotel room. The pages were opened to the stories running daily as one story followed another. On April 30th, 1975, headlines read, “Saigon Falls. U.S. Pulls Out,”  South Vietnamese Army and Marines Flee,  Helicopters Scramble to Lift off of Embassy Roof.”

Pictures covered the pages where print allowed space. People were hanging from the helicopter skids, trying to climb aboard the crowded aircraft. Desperate people, frightened for their lives and what was coming. Jennifer read it all. She couldn’t think of anything else when she did. Now, she tried to forget what she had read. She couldn’t. It would be an impossible feat to pretend to enjoy herself tonight. But she would try. She reminded herself she was happy.

It was May 20th, 1975. The war was over. No one had heard from him. No one.

She fluffed and sprayed her chestnut colored hair, applied the last of her makeup, lipstick, then scrutinized herself in the mirror. Looking hard at her reflection, she turned, checking for bulges, or creases in her dress.  She looked critically back at her young, five feet, four-inch frame. Twenty eight years old, she worked out daily to keep it fit.

She smoothed the clinging navy blue, silk dress that fell to mid calves. She hoped it would look right with the silver toned, high-heeled sandal shoes. The diamond necklace and earring set Marc had given her for Christmas completed the look. She touched the earrings gently. It reminded her of another night she would never forget, in 1966.

The moon cast a soft glow over the clear night sky looking like royal blue velvet, its stars winking on a still, glassy sea. They stood again on the pier at Puget Sound. Scott took out the envelope inside his shirt pocket.

“I got my orders from the Army.”

She was silent for a few moments.

“When?”

“Today. I report Monday at Fort Lewis. I’m sorry, Jen. I was hoping we could…make some plans for our future together.”

“We will someday. There will be time…later…when you’re back home. Everything will be alright. You’ll see.” Even as she said it, she didn’t believe it.

He placed his hands behind her head, pulling her closer, wiping the tears and streaks of eye makeup from her face. His thumbs brushed gently over the tiny star-shaped crystal earrings he’d given her a year earlier the weekend of the fourth of July.

“You’re not very convincing you know.”

The following Monday he told his parents and sister goodbye, and Jennifer drove him to the bus station. The mood was somber; the silence worse than a morgue. Just before he boarded the bus, he did an imitation from a line of his favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart in the movie, Casablanca, one they loved watching together, substituting the last word.

“Here’s looking at you, babe.” His kiss was slow, lingering as were her tears, then he pulled away and quickly hopped up onto the departing bus.

“Come back to us.” She whispered to the bus merging out into the flow of traffic, and out of sight. She ran, crying uncontrollably towards the car.

_______________________

To be continued…

Joyce E. Johnson

When Dark Closes In (Historical Fiction, Prologue)



WHEN DARK CLOSES IN

Surf and Shore Restaurant, Puget Sound

1966

The night started with the usual banter, kidding around, catching up on school and friends. Would they be able to pick up where they left off before college? The time away, seeing others, meeting new people had given them the opportunity to test their relationship. It all started here on Puget Sound at the Surf and Shore in 1966.

A swordfish and other fish types hung on planks of wood from old piers. Fishing nets, antique rods and reels, a whale harpoon, rudder wheel, port-hole window and other various artifacts gave the ‘Lobster shack,’ as it was known to the locals, its character.

“Does this bring back memories of our meeting here, when you came with your parents?” Scott asked.

“Yes. The place still looks the same. We sat over there facing the pier side. You were working that night, clearing tables.”

“Yep. Every day, I’d rush off after my last class, come to work, get off at 9:00, then drive home and study till midnight.”

Jennifer speared her lobster with knife and fork, and then cut into the shell ripping out succulent chunks of white meat dipping each into a tiny cup of melted butter beside her plate.

“This is good. What do you find so amusing?” she asked.

“I like watching the way your deft, manicured nails rip into that crustaceous creature dismembering it as if looking for some left in there.” He said.

“I guess it’s not a very proper way to eat lobster, but there just isn’t enough of it.”

“Would you like me to order another one for you?” he asked, teasing.

She threw a roll at him. Her aim was off and it bounced off his wine goblet, nearly knocking the glass over. His hand caught it in time.

“Oh, my g… Look what your bad influence makes me do,” she said.

“Oh, so it’s my fault? The manipulating, Irish Catholic daughter of a logger is blaming me for her childish behavior?” he said.

“May I refill your glass, sir” the waiter said, as he approached their table.

“Sure. Thank you. And, this young lady needs a glass of milk. She shouldn’t be drinking.” Scott said.

“Oh, I am sorry. I misjudged your age. Excuse me, I will bring you…”

Jenifer and Scot burst out laughing.

“Oh, no problem. It’s all right. Actually, she is the legal age. She just doesn’t act like it sometimes.” Scott replied with a conspiratorial wink. “We’re just kidding around. She really is nineteen.”

“Oh. Yes, sir. OK, then. I will check back in a few moments, and take your order for dessert.”

“Thank you.” Scott replied.

“He doesn’t enjoy your humor.”

“Now that you’re home from college, have you made plans for the summer? Or do I get to snatch you away from the girls? ” he asked.

“Oh, you mean Carolyn and Dana? We haven’t discussed any yet, except to ride the ferries around the islands, shop, and check out the cute sailors at Bremerton home on leave. I will think about you though while you’re at the garage sweating under a car hood with a wrench in your hand.” She smiled impishly.

“You would do that, while I slave away to save for our future?” His pretended hurt expression was all a part of the game he played with her.

“Oh? Is that what you’re doing? Have you considered that I might not accept your proposal?”

“I admit I have. I guess I would have to be very convincing, wouldn’t I? But, whenever we’re alone, you get that ‘uncomfortable feeling’ that I am expecting too much, and moving too fast for you.”

“And what is wrong with having that ‘uncomfortable feeling’? I am not a ‘fast’ kind of girl.”

“OK, then. I know your parents have raised you to believe in their old-fashioned Catholic virtues, but you can loosen up a little. We’re in the sixties now, and our generation doesn’t want to live by the same old set of rules our parents did.”

“Yes, I know. But, I still think trust and respect are necessary in a relationship. It isn’t because my parents are devout Catholics and hope I’ll choose to live by their set of values. It’s because I want what they have in a marriage one day, and that didn’t come about with ‘free love’ like so many are into these days. The kind of relationship I want can’t be rushed.”

“Right. The long, slow kind. I understand. Well, we may not have that kind of time, anyway. The military’s selective service is requiring registration now. Their upping the numbers of troops to ship off to Vietnam. Enlistment is down, so they’re pushing the draft to meet the demand. I had to fill out papers and send them back to the local draft board.”

“But, you don’t have to worry about that, do you? I mean, while you’re in college? Don’t students have immunity to the draft if they’re called up?”

“Usually, yes. But…”

“But, what?”

“But, I still had to register. And, I have to keep a 3.5 GPA, even while working at my uncle’s garage as a mechanic. I have to pay tuition debts, so need to work my way through school.”

There was a long pause; both of them quiet, thoughtful for the next several minutes.

After dinner they walked barefoot along the shore, breathing in the salt air. She felt safe, shielded from things when they were together. They stood looking out at the sea sending white caps thrashing against the pier. Scott wrapped a warm arm around her.

“A storm is moving in.” he said.

Jenifer could not help but feel there was a wave of the unknown coming, building, strengthening, preparing to break on impact as it came, just like the surf that rolled into shore, with a vengeance, then rolled back out to sea, each wave bigger, stronger than the one before.

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Joyce E. Johnson – 2013


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