LeeWords

Good Narrative Principles

August 8, 2018
by Lee Eiferman
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It Goes Back to Noah

“The hummingbird is at the feeder.” This is the first line she commits to paper in her new writing shed. There is no hummingbird at the feeder as she doesn’t own one. She meant to order one online, the poetry of which appealed to her. Instead, she spent her time unpacking her books, carefully, thoughtfully, making sure authors with complimentary sensibilities sat side by side.

Hungry for a sign that would be equal to a thumbs up from the universe, (the hummingbird at the non-existent feeder would have done the trick) she looks out her western facing window and sees this.

(Photo: Ellen Hopkins Fountain)

May 17, 2018
by Lee Eiferman
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Holding Hands

I do this thing every week: I go hear (and see) my friend improvise on the piano for forty minutes or so. He’s pretty amazing and astonishing, playing on a Steinway with its original sound board. The kick of it is witnessing him leap from one style to the next as the spirit takes him. I always leave feeling blessed, lucky to have fallen into this weekly ritual.

Sometimes my husband comes with me, sometimes not. It all depends on whether or not he’s at home or at some far-flung place. My husband is what you’d call “an important man”. It’s lonely work for both of us.

The weekly musical event takes place in his living room where there’s a deep couch, the sort which is easy for a short-legged person like myself to slide ever so gradually to the floor. The couch is not my favorite spot to listen. But last week I arrived late, without my husband, and so, had to squeeze onto the couch between a friend and a stranger name “Jerry” who seemed pleasant enough.

As I slipped into the music, I absentmindedly extended my hand closer to Jerry seated to my right, I suppose to brace myself. Halfway through a tender melodic piece, Jerry cradled my hand in his. I didn’t move it away. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because his hand was warm, dry to the touch, a bit naked.

The memory of his touch lingered through the week, flavoring my nightly routine, when work and the press of the to do list wasn’t generating the necessary distraction. I wondered why Jerry held my hand. I wondered who he was. I could have asked my friends, the host of the weekly piano recital, but the thought of bringing it up made me blush. Even if I were to text my friend the question, shot him an email or call, I could well imagine the blush, creeping from my neck, coloring my face to a deep strawberry glaze. I suppose you’d think it was guilt expressing itself, the dead weight of conflicting emotions, though honestly, I don’t feel guilty.

I’m very conscious of what I’ll wear tonight. It’s Wednesday after all. Jerry isn’t a regular. There’s a good chance that he won’t be there. I tell myself this, that he probably won’t come, using the same line of logic as when I prep myself for life’s little disappointments, an example of which I can’t think of right now, though, as soon as I sign off, a list of disappointments will readily spring to mind.

September 14, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Window Display

For as long as he can remember, Johnny has been vacationing in Upstate New York. He owns a window shop and has found out the hard way that setting up an eye-catching display is vital to his business. It’s a window shop, after all. His latest purchase was an American flag hanging from the extended ladder off a toy fire truck, an appropriate 9/11 marker. Luckily his wife Nancy has the patience of a saint, except when she’s around a fresh water lake. She gets mean when the temperature slides past 80.

July 10, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Solace

The Prisoner stands barefoot in the courtyard watching the sun, the glorious sun slide towards the horizon, staining the sky a purple pink. The temperature inches towards freezing. Minutes pass. The silence is broken by the crunch of the Guard’s heels as he circles our Man and jabs him with the barrel of his rifle as if checking to see if he’s fully cooked. The Prisoner, no hero, is on the cusp of talking. He’s almost ready to plead for mercy. But first there’s the matter of today’s setting sun and its power to bring him back to himself, reminding him that once upon a time he parked his car in the driveway and his only thought was: what’s for dinner.

June 21, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Jello

When asked if he actually liked his job, Jake mentions that he always suffered from a bad case of Sunday night anxiety. Heading to the office Monday morning never felt good, but, with his wife due any day, Jake was in no position to consider a change or even a lateral shift in his work life. Yesterday, on the street outside the office, Jake collided with two sweaty guys hauling away the state of the art copier and the new editing equipment from the office. Upstairs, everything in his cubicle, including his flowering orchids, his books on fonts and basics of print design were gone. Later, at home, in a heightened state of confusion, Jake tackled the room that was designated to become the nursery. His glove ripped midway through spackling the wall. Jake felt a warm rush of air along the fleshy base of his thumb. Feeling simultaneously frightened and set free, he cupped the air as his new complex reality began to take hold, like Jello starting to congeal.  (Photo: Tim Duch)

June 8, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Transition Planning

News of Dr. Anastasius’ pending retirement was greeted with alarm by his long-standing customers. Would he sell his business to a young upstart fresh out of veterinary school, to a heartless franchise populating the local malls or to someone like himself, someone who had a way with animals? You could sense Dr. Anastasius’ special gift in the waiting room, where an unusual calm prevailed, even among the aged dogs, house-bound cats and caged birds awaiting their turn. The local paper ran a tribute to him. The Mayor honored him with a framed plaque. When the doors finally opened on the new veterinarian’s office, Dr. Anastasius’ loyal crop of customers withheld judgement, despite the evident lack of good vibes or thoughtful service. That is, until the new Vet labeled a frightened rescue cat “bad”. That’s when all hell broke loose.

June 1, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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The Queen of Fringe

Back in the ‘80’s, when fringe was in fashion, I was it. I dominated the market. I sewed fringe to the outer seams of sleeves, the edge of a fetching clutch bag or the hem of a dress with padded shoulders. They say it’s coming back, but I’ve moved on to the next big thing in my life – stemming the tide of chaos. Rain pours in through the top of closed windows. A boil has erupted on my back. My new lettuce spinner is broken. My days are like that now, an endless stream of pesky chores with no end in sight. Hands down, my brief reign as the Queen of Fringe was way more fun.

May 30, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Not So Nice

You’d think that a doctor would have an easier time than the rest of us mere mortals finding someone with whom he could spend the balance of his days. Lonely, the Doctor took the advice of his ninety-year-old Mother and posted his profile on one of those dating apps. Unlike at work where everything was tidy and his staff anticipated his unspoken requests, he was, after hours, lost in a sea of potential mates parading on his screen. He struggled to imagine any one of them as a person with thoughts, feelings and most important of all, political affiliation. So, he hired a matchmaker, someone who boasted that she could find him a suitable wife in under a month.   She was expensive enough. He calculated that each of the twelve dates he went on cost him on average $237 factoring in the matchmaker’s fee amortized over the course of the contract. Inevitably, even before the appetizer arrived, he was ready to kick his date to the proverbial curb. (Photo: Tim Duch)

May 25, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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He’s a Nice Guy

You don’t even have to say it. The “but” is implied, as in, “he’s a nice guy but…” But, he chews with his mouth open. He’s a sentence completer. He’ll throw you under the bus or steal from his own mother. So, what makes him such a nice guy? Maybe, he tells a good joke. Maybe we’re “nice” until we prove ourselves otherwise.

May 23, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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One Step at a Time

Winter was the worst. We were always on the move, camping out in barns, huddling for warmth against the restless cows and calves unaccustomed to strangers. Despite the endless hunger and dirt, I couldn’t keep my hands off of Sabeen. She’s just so beautiful, you see. She could have been the wife of a sultan, or a tech wizard and yet she chose me. She whispers words of caution, telling me to wait until we’re settled before we start a family. I don’t want a family. I just want her. Yesterday, we passed by a luminous lake in the late afternoon. I took a deep breath and let the anxiety subside. Eventually, we’ll end up somewhere. And yet, right now, we’re between here and nowhere.