Friday, May 3, 2013

Four For Friday--Cinthia Ritchie

Wow! It's Friday! Time just zips by, doesn't it? It's that time again...

Four For Friday is a weekly feature where guest authors choose one of their own characters to complete four sentences. 

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This week's post is by Cinthia Ritchie from her Adult Fiction novel,

You don’t know me but I’m Carlita Richards. I live in Anchorage, Alaska, with my eight-year-old gifted son, Jay-Jay, and our badly-behaved mutt, Killer Bee. We live in a trailer in Anchorage’s premier trailer park, which means that the lot rent is more expensive than other places and that the owner’s have planted trees, as if to hide the ramshackle mobile homes dotting the landscape.I work as a waitress at Mexico in an Igloo, a popular restaurant that serves darned good food. I’m also a struggling artist and spend nights painting and (I’m blushing), making the erotic dolls I sell to adult Websites to supplement my income.My ex-husband is behind on child support. My sister, Laurel, lives in the expensive area of town and prances around in designer clothes. My best friend, Sandee, is afraid of love and sleeps with too many men.And me? Sometimes the ghost of my Polish grandmother visits. She bakes Polish desserts in my kitchen and tells stories in broken English, and it’s good and warm to have her around. I suppose you could say that I’m lonely, not for companionship, which I have enough of, but for someone to hold my hand and mean it.

1. My favorite flowers are...

sunflowers, because they grow so large and gaudy, and because they remind me of Gramma, who used to say that they grew them back in Poland. I don’t know if this is true or another one of her stories, but she said that she planted a sunflower each time she baked bread, and that when the wind blew the sunflowers swayed like women dancing. Gramma liked to tell stories. She tells me stories still. She creeps inside our trailer late at night as Jay-Jay sleeps and Killer Bee paces the floor (we probably have the only dog in the world with insomnia), and she heaves herself down on the couch and tells stories in her broken English. And such stories! Of soldiers and death and the War, and of happy things, too, like the day she baked her first chrusciki  and how the Russian woman at the market with the bad eye once slipped her a recipe for biskvitnyi abrikosovyi torta, and I listen to these stories, I nod my head and smile, while in the back of my mind sunflowers bend and sway in the wind.

2. This Mother’s Day...

I plan on hiking up Wolverine Peak with my eight-year-old son, Jay-Jay, our badly behaved dog, Killer Bee, my best friend, Sandee, my neighbor and baby sitter, Stephanie, and my pregnant sister, Laurel.
Laurel will whine about getting mud over her shoes and make such a big deal about how tired she is, and forget the fact that she stays home all day (in my home!) reading trashy magazines and watching TV (my TV!). And Sandee will go on and on about her husband, Joe, and all of his game warden stories of bears and wolves and the moose that got stuck in the kiddie swimming pool last year, and Stephanie will interrupt that she’s, like, so totally obsessed with Tobias Wolff and how she might, like, one day get near enough to touch his bald head, and Killer Bee will chase squirrels and roll in stinky dead animal parts and Jay-Jay, son of my heart, child of the sun, will walk ahead, his small shoulders slightly hunched with the indignity of having to endure such family outings.
But once we reach the steep areas we will all shut up, every one of us, we’ll slow down and put one foot in front of the other, and our breaths will gasp and Laurel will mutter and Sandee will clench her teeth, and Stephanie will pick small spruce cones and fill her pockets and when we become tired, Jay-Jay will tell one of his stupid knock-knock jokes and we will all laugh, we will pause and look around at the mountains and the vast sky and, for one small moment, we will feel blessed.

3. The senior prom? 

No, I can’t go there, it was a complete disaster, my date got drunk and threw up on my dress and so I took it off, just flung it over my head and danced in my slip and bare feet until they threw me out, saying I was indecent, can you imagine that? I got a ride home with a football player who was in AA, the only one of us who hadn’t had a drink all night, and when I walked in the door in just my slip my mother, who was half-sloshed on the couch, propped herself up with one arm and exclaimed, in her slurred and blurry voice, that my, didn’t I look beautiful in my wedding gown?

4. Only one more month until Summer... 

I cannot wait. It has been since a long winter, and during winter I spend too much money, I buy things I don’t need but want nevertheless, because in Alaska the sun disappears for long periods and we have only four hours of daylight and the dark presses down and outside is a cold and barren world and no matter what I do I am never completely warm, so I buy things, and I bake, too, Gramma’s old Polish recipes, and I put on weight and I cry too much.
But summer? Oh, summer in Alaska is a dream, a marvel, the sky never truly darkening, the twilight spreading out so that everything is lavender-tinted, and my son Jay-Jay and I hike with the dog past midnight, we sit on top of a mountain ridge and look down, and the whole world is hushed and quiet and sometimes we see things, too, eagles and moose and once, a wolf ran past, loping in that wild stride that caused my throat to ache for something permanent and fierce. When we got home I baked rosemary bread and we sat out on the porch and ate it, slathered with butter, and it was past two o’clock when I finally went to bed and it was still light and ghostly and I felt so inexplicably happy that I hugged the dog’s smelly neck and wept like a baby.

The following is an excerpt from DOLLS BEHAVING BADLY:

Thursday, Sept. 15

        This is my diary, my pathetic little conversation with myself. No doubt I will burn it halfway through. I’ve never been one to finish anything. Mother used to say this was because I was born during a full moon, but like everything she says, it doesn’t make a lick of sense.
          It isn’t even the beginning of the year. Or even the month. It’s not even my birthday. I’m starting, typical of me, impulsively, in the middle of September. I’m starting with the facts.
I’m thirty-eight years old. I’ve slept with nineteen and a half men.
I live in Alaska, not the wild parts but smack in the middle of Anchorage, with the Walmart and Home Depot squatting over streets littered with moose poop.
I’m divorced. Last month my ex-husband paid child support in ptarmigan carcasses, those tiny bones snapping like fingers when I tried to eat them.
I have one son, age eight and already in fourth grade. He is gifted, his teachers gush, remarking how unusual it is for such a child to come out of such unique (meaning underprivileged, meaning single parent, meaning they don’t think I’m very smart) circumstances.
I work as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. This is a step up: two years ago I was at Denny’s.
Yesterday, I was so worried about money I stayed home from work and tried to drown myself in the bathtub. I sank my head under the water and held my breath, but my face popped up in less than a minute. I tried a second time, but by then my heart wasn’t really in it so I got out, brushed the dog hair off the sofa and plopped down to watch  Oprah on the cable channel.
What happened next was a miracle, like Gramma used to say. No angels sang, of course, and there was none of that ornery church music. Instead, a very tall woman (who might have been an angel if heaven had high ceilings) waved her arms. There were sweat stains under her sweater, and this impressed me so much that I leaned forward; I knew something important was about to happen.
Most of what she said was New Age mumbo-jumbo, but when she mentioned the diary, I pulled myself up and rewrapped the towel around my waist. I knew she was speaking to me, almost as if this was her purpose in life, to make sure these words got directed my way.
She said you didn’t need a fancy one; it didn’t even need a lock, like those little-girl ones I kept as a teenager. A notebook, she said, would work just fine. Or even a bunch of papers stapled together. The important thing was doing it. Committing yourself to paper every day, regardless of whether anything exciting or thought-provoking actually happens.
“Your thoughts are gold,” the giant woman said. “Hold them up to the light and they shine.”
I was crying by then, sobbing into the dog’s neck. It was like a salvation, like those traveling preachers who used to come to town. Mother would never let us go but I snuck out with Julie, who was a Baptist. Those preachers believed, and while we were there in that tent, we did too.
This is what I’m hoping for, that my words will deliver me something. Not the truth, exactly. But solace.

If you'd like to learn more about Cinthia, please visit her on FacebookTwitter, or at her Website.


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