The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:31 am Thursday, February 14, 2019

“First Kiss”

By Julie Terry Cartner

Such excitement filled the room. It was the night of the parent-teacher meeting, and our class, Mrs. McLaughlin’s first-grade class, was going to perform “Sleeping Beauty.” Butterflies danced in my stomach as I had earned the coveted role; I was to be sleeping beauty. Dressed in a beautiful blue dress with ruffles cascading down from the waist, enhanced by not one, but two crinolines and a lace smocked top, my hair curling down my back, I trembled with the thrill of having all eyes on me while I spoke my many memorized lines. Of that, I had no fear. I knew my lines; in fact, I knew everyone’s lines. I seemed to have an uncanny ability to memorize scripts in their entirety, probably why I had been chosen to play the lead.

With everyone assembled and seated, the play was finally ready to begin. Mom and Dad, and my sister, Anne, sat proudly in front row seats. The curtain rose, and the narration began: “Long ago there lived a king and a queen who said every day, ‘If only we had a child!’ But for a long time, they had none.” And so the story unfolded, each child playing his or her part to perfection, or if not quite perfection, Mrs. McLaughlin was ready to remind him or her of the correct line. I skipped through the performance, playing the part of the sweet young princess who had been given wonderful gifts by the eleven fairies: beauty, kindness, modesty, and cleverness and was well beloved by my kingdom. Then my fifteenth birthday arrived; I met the old lady in the tower, pricked my finger and fell fast asleep as determined by fairies twelve and thirteen.

While I lay on the floor pretending to be slumbering, I thought through the end of the play. After everyone else fell asleep, the king, the queen, the maid, even the doves and horses, all played by my classmates, then my hero, the prince, was to work his way through the hedge of brier roses, find me, and gently awaken me with a kiss. As badly as I had wanted blond-haired, blue-eyed, Tommy to win the role of the prince, that had not happened. Instead, Phillip, with dark brown hair and brown eyes was my prince. Now I had nothing against Phillip, except he wasn’t Tommy. Tommy who, just the day before, had passed me a note saying, “I like you, do you like me? Check yes or no.” I had bravely checked yes!

Now here I was awaiting the “kiss” of Phillip so I could wake up, say my last lines and take my bows. Mrs. McLaughlin had made it clear. “No kiss.” Phillip had been told to kneel beside me, lean towards me and pretend to kiss. He did not. He knelt down, leaned towards me, lying there with my eyes shut, pretending to be asleep, and he kissed me – right on the lips! I was horrified! I knew everyone had seen him kiss me on the lips but especially Tommy. The adults laughed indulgently, and I, always the perfectionist, finished the play, even with deep pink stains of embarrassment coloring my cheeks. Tommy and I “broke up,” because we were all pretty sure that a kiss meant that Phillip and I were married. After all, the story ends, “Within the month, the Prince and Sleeping Beauty were married and lived happily ever after.”

“Learning Chess”

By N.R. Tucker

Last summer, I decided to take up chess again playing mostly with my husband who plays chess in a chess club and attends chess tournaments. We play weekly, sometimes daily. Apparently, I like getting defeated on the battlefield that is chess. It’s the only motive that explains why I continue to play a game I consistently lose.

I have won a few times, but frequently the win occurs only after Ed makes a comment, such as:

“You don’t want to do that.”

“Take that back.”

“Look at the board.”

I’ve learned to hate all of these statements. They are made more distasteful by the fact that I know Ed’s right, and I’ve made a big, honking error. The frustrating thing is I can’t always find my mistake until he points it out.

The knight is the piece that embodies my personal nemesis. Like an antagonist in my novels, a knight is tricky, sneaking around the board and blocking all my carefully constructed plans. While I understand the knight is not the most powerful piece on the board, it is the piece that usually seals my fate.

I’ve known how to move the chess pieces for decades, and I understand the basic rules. Over the last few months, I’ve discovered how much I don’t know. One day, well into the game, Ed made a standard double-step move from the starting square with his pawn, and said, “You could do the ampasant (or En passant) here.” He went on to explain if a pawn makes a double-step move from its starting square when a single step would have allowed an enemy pawn to capture it, the enemy can take the pawn anyway. While I understand its purpose, it took a while for me to remember it’s an option.

While I normally think a few moves ahead, I’m pretty sure Ed has planned out the whole game. As I’ve improved, I’ve observed that he occasionally ignores a move that would lock me in and signal my defeat, either to keep the game from ending too soon or to try something he wouldn’t consider with a more skilled opponent. It’s probably a little of both. Sometimes, he says he didn’t see it. Sometimes, I believe him.

For Christmas, our son who lives in Japan, gave Ed a Japanese chess game called Shoji. The pieces are cut from the same template and look exactly alike. The only difference is the kanji depicted on each piece. I’m sure I’m in the minority, and others have no trouble translating the kanji into piece names. The biggest issue I have is that the stylized kanji on the pieces don’t look exactly like the stylized kanji on the instructions. They are similar (like different types of cursive) but different enough that I get confused, especially since the pieces aren’t a match for the pieces used in western chess. In addition, the pieces follow different rules for movement. The good news is Ed has trouble with the kanji, too.

Let the learning begin.


By Linda Barnette

At dinnertime the other night

I watched a little boy and his dad.

The dad ate and stared into space,

Never speaking to the child.

I wanted to tell the man

That in a flash his son would be grown

And would not want to spend his time with him.

Parents, please talk to your children.

Find out about their friends, their hobbies,

Their dreams and goals for their lives.

Share yours with them.

For a day will come all too soon

When they won’t be having dinner with you

But rather with their friends and families.

I wonder if that little boy will talk to his children then.

“My Favorite Valentine”

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Oh, how I treasure the vintage photographs of Dad and me posing for the camera at my Father-Daughter dances in high school. Every February, the female Catholic school I attended held the dance in the school gymnasium. Proud daddies, dressed in their finest suits and silk ties, accompanied their beautiful young daughters who modeled the fanciest dresses in their closets.

Orchid corsages were in style at the time and were pinned to the left side of your dress and over the heart.  The corsage my dad always chose for me was a pure white flower with a matching ribbon. My dress was neatly pressed and laid out on my bed along with matching shoes, undergarments, a slip, a pair of hose, and the accompanying jewelry my mother had bought to enhance my dress.

On the day of the dance, my dad stopped off at the florist on his way home from work and picked up the corsage he’d ordered by phone. The delicate flower was placed in the refrigerator to help preserve it until time to pin it to my dress. The flowers came with a long, sharp straight pin with a round, pearl-like decoration on end. Many fingers were pricked trying to push those pins through the densely wrapped stem of the corsage and dress and then back through again to securely attach the flower.

Dad drove the car, and I would sit up front in the passenger seat where my mother usually sat.  Dad only drove mom’s car on Sundays when he was taking us to Sunday school and church, and all the kids would sit in the back seat. On the night of the dance, I was so proud to command the front seat and be escorted by my father. When we arrived at the school, the music was already playing, and many daddies and their girls were already on the dance floor. We fast danced and slow danced. Dad was pretty good on his feet. Taking breaks from dancing, we ate tiny sandwiches, deluxe nuts, and petit four cakes while we drank party punch out of glass cups, dipped from a large crystal punch bowl.  Dad and I joined my girlfriends at a round table, where our fathers introduced themselves.

The relationship between a father and daughter is a unique and special bond. The way that Megan McCain referred to her father, John McCain, when she said the words, “My Father,” with such reference and respect, reduced me to tears. I adored my father, too. I’m grateful to have been blessed with such a great daddy– my favorite Valentine for a night.