The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
Published 10:16 am Thursday, July 20, 2023
Comes the Rainbow II
By Julie Terry Cartner
Putting the key in the ignition, he started the car. He’d only had a few drinks, he told himself; he’d be fine.
Whirling blue lights quickly told him otherwise. A license check point, of all things, and he was trapped. Within minutes, a stern-faced policeman had him performing sobriety tests that he couldn’t pass, and he knew it was over. He’d been caught.
Sitting in the back of a police cruiser, thoughts chased across his brain like the way dry fall leaves skittered in the breeze. A DWI. Wouldn’t his parents be proud? What should he do about work the next day? What would he tell others? Already struggling with low self-esteem and depression, a DWI seemed like the icing on the cake, the lowest rung of the ladder he’d given up on climbing. He held his head in his hands, thinking of ending it all.
And then the policeman, stern and yet gentle, returned to the car. Asking a series of questions, he finally got to the important one. “Have you thought about harming yourself or others?”
Looking in those calm eyes, he answered the only way he could. Truthfully. “Yes, Sir.”
“Which?” came the immediate query.
More questions followed, asking for more information, assessing the risk. Questions asked, and some answered. And then, the police car, rather than heading for the jail, turned instead to the hospital. The policeman, sensing the deep despair of the young man, did his best to keep the young man engaged in the present rather than sinking into the abyss of his dark thoughts. He did his best to reassure him about his future. He did what he could to convince the young man that this one night, this one devastating incident, did not have to define his life. He did his best to help the young man see that his future could still be bright.
Instead of the bare cot of a prison cell, the young man was assigned a clean hospital bed in a curtained off area where professionals could keep him safe. Instead of the wary eyes of other inmates, he woke up to the concerned faces of his family. Instead of threats and jeers, he faced the non-judgmental face of a counselor, trained to help, trained to help him help himself.
Instead of this episode of his life being the end, it became the beginning of growth, of self-understanding, or learning how to cope. Instead of this episode of his life ending in an alcohol induced accident, it ended in a safe place where he could begin anew. Instead of this event defining his life, his future, it became a steppingstone, a way to begin to bridge the deep well of depression and follow a path to personal success.
Ten years later, the young man, older but wiser, returned to thank those who helped him. He realized and understood that the happenings of that night, and the decisions that were made by professionals, altered the outcome of his life, and he wanted them to know they’d made a difference.
We should learn much from this young man and those who positively impacted him. Navigating the twists and turns of life, growing from childhood to adulthood, is hard. There’s no definitive plan. There’s no path set in stone. It’s easy to get lost and go the wrong way. And there are many right ways, and many wrong ways. Each path is different for each person. But we should also see that what seemed like the worst day of his life, was actually the best.
Sometimes, out of our darkest moments, come rays of light. Sometimes, out of the fiercest storm clouds, come arcs of color, transporting the world into the shimmering rays of a rainbow. Sometimes, out of the darkest of nights, come the gentle, silvery beams of a full moon.
Because You Are My Sister
By Gaye Hoots
Faye, my sister for the last seventy-six years, left this earth ahead of me. I spent more time with her this year because of her medical issues, but I did not expect her to go so quickly though she was in pain and told me repeatedly she wanted Hospice care and was at peace.
We were familiar with Hospice care because Mama had them for months before her death, and we knew they gave excellent care. We were blessed to have a friend, Kris Cornatzer, with Mama. Faye and I cared for her for the last year of her life.
Faye’s husband, her children, and my family provided care for her and emotional support, and she wanted to see her grandchildren and mine. They were there for her. Watching her decline daily was the hard part.
Before I left Advance to return to Oriental, I picked up a needlepoint pillow I had given Faye years ago. It said, “I smile because you are my sister. I laugh because there is nothing you can do about it.” This characterized our sense of humor that we inherited from our father. Faye inherited from our mother her desire for perfection,
I liked to tease her about this and remember sometimes she scolded me for being less circumspect than her. I had worked for Duke Power to fill in for Faye when she was on maternity leave, and she would come by or call each evening to make sure I balanced and handled everything correctly so her office would not have a record of an error being made. Some of the supervisors from Winston met me and remembered me. They encouraged me to apply for a position at their office, but I wanted to spend that time with my young daughters.
One summer day, I decided to buy my girls a plastic swimming pool for our backyard. I drove to Clemmons and purchased one, and the clerk fastened it to the top of my Plymouth Duster. I turned onto 158 at the light, and within two blocks, the wind blew the pool off into the road. I pulled over and got it out of the road. Geraldine Blakely Carter recognized me and pulled over, I left my car parked there, and she put the pool into the back of her vehicle. I didn’t want to inconvenience her so I had her drop me in front of Miller’s store at the intersection, where I waited only a few minutes before Wiley Peebles pulled over in his Duke Power truck. He put the pool into the back of his vehicle but had nothing heavy to hold it down, so I sat in the pool and made it back to the Advance office,
It was near closing time as we pulled in front of the office where visiting managers from Winston were leaving. I gave them a friendly wave from my perch in the pool. Faye was mortified and gave me a lecture and a ride back to get my car.
Another time she blamed me for confusing her and causing her an embarrassing moment was when she was invited to Winston to lunch with Duke employees at one of the first Chinese restaurants in our area. She asked me for something simple to order that she could identify and eat. I told her about Egg Drop soup, a clear broth similar to Wanton soup. I also told her I had read of Bird Nest soup which was supposed to be a great delicacy. She called me after her meal and said that I had confused her by giving her both names, and she had ordered Bird Drop soup.
Another story involving Duke Power was the time I had asked to use her washer and dryer to wash diapers and took a load of laundry to her home. I handled dirty diapers by dipping them in the commode, wringing them out, and putting them in the diaper pail until I had a load to wash. I washed the diapers and put them into her dryer. Before they finished the dryer stopped, and I could not restart it. When I called her, she said she would get one of her male coworkers to check it when their workday ended,
They had gotten the dryer going again but teased Faye about her laundry practices. Someone had changed a diaper at my home and put the soiled diaper, poop, and all into my laundry pail. I had run this through the washer without seeing it and put it into the dryer. There was nothing she could do about it, except to try to convince them it was her sis and not her. These are the memories that make me smile.
By Marie Craig
What a joy to sit on the front porch with neighbors and enjoy the cooler evening and random, entertaining conversation. There are many things to prevent this — illness, cold weather, too hot weather, distraction of inane TV shows, or watching cat videos on your phone. But this particular visit yielded some memories from the past of experiences of trying to control and perfect hair styling.
“I met an older lady years ago who decided in her youth to get her hair curled from a permanent wave machine. It involved hair being attached by wires to a machine that curled hair by heat. She said it was so hot it was burning her and the operator wouldn’t turn it off or release her. Her hair and scalp were never the same.”
Looking at my phone, I found one of the 1930’s torture machines for sale for $650 on eBay if anybody is interested.
“When I was a girl, I remember going with my mother to an evening PTA meeting. The president had her hair rolled up in tight, small curlers. She had given herself a Toni Home Permanent and was so proud of being the first in our little town to do this. Alas, she rolled it up and used the chemicals but didn’t read the directions. Instead of leaving it rolled up for less than an hour, she’d had it curled all day long. The next time I saw her, she resembled the straw man from the Wizard of Oz.”
“I remember when most of the women in my hometown bought groceries on Saturday. They were preparing for church the next day by washing their hair that morning, rolling pin curls all over their heads, and securing them with bobby pins. They would fold a scarf diagonally and tie it around their heads with a knot at the top.”
“I remember that, too. A few years later, we had big rollers that we would use at night. Sleep was very difficult as we tried to get comfortable. It was like sleeping on a pile of logs. The rollers got even bigger as the styles inflated into BIG HAIR. Looking at old high school annuals, we looked so silly with all that hair, but it was what everybody did.”
“Do you remember the story that went around that a famous football player got a perm? It seemed so unusual at the time, but nobody would think anything about it now.”
“I don’t understand why they call it a permanent. Mine lasts only about three months; there’s nothing permanent about that.”
“I didn’t really need more curl, but once I went to a beautician school to get a perm. It cost a lot less there. My hair is coarse and stubborn. The young woman who practiced on me was almost in tears as she’d roll up a skinny roller on my hair and in a minute BOING the whole thing would pop open in defiance. Finally, her teacher came over and showed her how to wrap a paper around each curl. She was about ready to change careers there for a while.”
“I was in a grocery store line years ago listening to a conversation between two women who were friends. One asked the other about her daughter’s prom night. She replied that she’d saved up money to take her daughter to the beauty parlor to have her hair set in a fancy twist that would match her evening gown. When they got back home, she heard water running and discovered that her daughter had washed her hair and fixed it like she wanted it. The disappointed mother agreed that it looked nice, but wished she hadn’t wasted her money.”
And so the memories, long forgotten, kept coming to the surface as a lovely summer evening was shared amongst friends. Try it, you’ll like it.