My Inheritance

My mother is dying. There are shuffling noises overhead coming from her bedroom. She has cancer, and her death is imminent. I am her only child. We never liked each other.

I stare out the window at my large backyard covered in a crust of ice.

The bird feeder is nearly empty. I know I must replenish it, but I can’t command my body to move.

Before my seventy year-old mother moved in, I thought I’d continue working and hire a nurse to care for her. I wavered.  In the back of my head I wondered if we might find an emotional connection before it was too late. In the end, I convinced the senior partners’ at my law firm that it would be better to work at home for a while and take care of her myself.

Now I see my wish to wring more from our relationship as foolhardy. It’s elusive, like an important thought I can’t recall that hovers in the back of my mind. Now I just want to get through this miserable time and have it end. I’m so tired my teeth ache.

Continue reading “My Inheritance”

ARE WE MAKING PROGRESS IN MALE/FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS?

Several women of my generation, whom I admire for intelligence, independence and insight, have discussed with me how they view male/female relationships. They think they have to manipulate a man to get and keep him. Yes, they are women of my generation, but I am rather stunned when it comes from younger women who appear forthright and comfortable in their own skin.

The maneuvering is often to avoid issues that women fear might make men uneasy, like announcing your own needs and wants. Another is, even if she solves her own problems, making the man she aims for think that he solved her problem and suggesting that he is masterful and brilliant. She might try to make him feel that she is needy and dependent on his enormous abilities, and that she is much less informed about worldly matters.

What a burden to have to plan each day filled with pretense, constant editing of thoughts and creating outright lies. It is great to tell a man he is a terrific person and mean it – not as a ploy to get what you want. I would imagine that such behavior is addictive to an insecure man. The problem is that the deceit can never end. If the perpetrator of the game stops she may fear that her man will seek the “unconditional adoration” from someone else – many times that is exactly what happens.

The addiction to adoration is no different, to me, than any other addiction. Dealing with unending deceptions is that it has to be dredged up on a daily basis and near impossible to keep up indefinitely. Sadly, many times tying the knot will give a woman a rest from such tension, but it can be misinterpreted as a loss of interest.

It is best to be honest up front and to be yourself and not planting a false face all the time. Deserving compliments are very important. Deception is fatiguing. 

Copyright, Frances Metzman, Progress in Male/Female Relationships, 2018

Myra’s Garden (excerpt)

Myra’s Garden (excerpt from The Hungry Heart)

Myra usually gardened in the early morning hours before the white heat of the day erupted, but today she stayed out until the blazing afternoon sun was overhead. Kneeling on a knee-pad in her backyard, sweat dripped off her forehead and down her temples. She stabbed the ground with a spade as though expecting resistance, but it sunk into the soft earth to her knuckles.

Glancing at her next-door neighbor’s house, she noticed Bruce’s downstairs curtains were open, but he hadn’t picked up the newspaper. As soon as he came out, she’d catch his attention before he went back in. With a cloth she wiped the spade, applied a tissue to her damp face and put on lipstick.

Today she planned to unmask the alluring side of herself, the part that had long been buried beneath the image of the benevolent, unmarried, next-door-neighbor for all these years. Lately, Bruce was more receptive. He’d given her subtle signals like leaving thank you notes whenever she babysat, Johnny, his six-year old. She saw that those notes had become progressively more intimate, at first addressing her by name and then using dear friend. He’d even given her a box of chocolates the other day. What could be more caring? He knew she adored candy.

She’d loved Bruce from the moment he and his wife, Ellen moved next door twelve years ago. She sensed all along that Bruce loved her in return, but their passion remained unspoken – only felt. That honorable man would never betray his wife and neither would she. Now Ellen was gone for a year. The poor woman had been terminal, dying slowly and painfully from cancer. And Myra had helped Ellen through her illness to the end with Bruce’s eternal appreciation. Yes, she knew Bruce loved her.

Widening a hole in the ground, Myra noticed a large brown bug on her arm. She swatted it with her open palm, leaving a splatter of blood. Absently, she washed it off with the nearby garden hose.

Myra heard Bruce’s front door bang open in the vigorous way it did before his wife’s tragedy. He wore a white tank top and cut-off jeans. Waving as he headed toward her, he carried a box under his arm. He looked more robust and energetic than he had in a long time.

She’d studied Bruce’s habits and understood him like she knew the personalities of every flower in her garden, like she knew her Belgian block walkway had two hundred and thirty stones. The time had come to act more assertively.

Removing her canvas gloves she tugged at the shoulders of her new cotton dress that she’d nipped in the seams to subtly enhance the curve of her breasts, her small waist and hips. Bruce stepped through the open gate, a big grin on his face.

“Hi, Myra, I noticed you were out here. How are you?”

She smiled, patting her new blunt haircut in place. Lifting her hand delicately, she shaded her eyes and looked up at him, wondering what was in the box. “I’m fine.”

“Nice dress. Hope you don’t mess it up with gardening.”

She blushed as she felt his eyes scan her. “This is my new special gardening dress.”

“You need a hat against the sun.”

“I love the sun,” Myra said, feeling a swell of nausea from the heat. With her bare hands she shoved a bush into the hole she’d dug. Dampness soaked the cotton material of her dress in a line down her spine. She yanked the burlap that covered the roots out and thrust dirt in to cover.

Bruce looked over at his house. “I left that kid of mine attacking the apple pie you baked for us. Better get back before he gobbles it up and gets a stomach ache.”

Taking a deep breath, Myra chided herself to be patient, to remember Bruce hadn’t courted in a long time. Still, the man had an appealing shyness. After all, he’d at least noticed the new dress. She clapped the dirt off her hands.

He thrust the package at her. “I got a little something for helping us out like you always do.”

She sucked in air, expanding her lungs until they felt ready to rupture. This awkward man had a full head of curly black hair and smooth round cheeks that made him look vulnerable and so young. He needed the stability of a woman ten years his senior. Once they married they’d put their ages together and divide by two. Two equal parts.

The relentless heat banded her chest tightly. Sitting back on her heels, she dabbed a pristine white towel to her face then placed it on the mat, used side down.

“You didn’t have to. You gave me that nice toaster last year.”

 His eyes glazed over. “That was for your help with Ellen. I can never repay you for that, Myra.”

 She loved the way her name rolled off his tongue, and the quick darkening of his eyes. Myra removed the wrapping paper slowly, holding on to the moment as long as she could. She recalled how after Ellen’s funeral, she’d devised her strategy of ingratiating herself by babysitting and cooking meals whenever Bruce worked late. He adored her pot roast and soups. Once he’d even requested her specialty, chicken pot pie. Surely, the rare woman he brought to the house never did things like that. And none of them came around twice. She often watched his house with her binoculars. Easing the ribbon off the box, Myra lifted the cover. Bruce shifted his weight from one leg to another. She hesitated.

Inside the box was a gleaming set of chrome gardening tools. They glinted in the sun. Expensive. Practical. Disappointing.

MY INHERITANCE (excerpt)

MY INHERITANCE (“The Hungry Heart” an excerpt)

My mother is dying. There are shuffling noises overhead coming from her bedroom. She has cancer, and her death is imminent. I am her only child. We never liked each other.

I stare out the window at my large backyard covered in a crust of ice. The bird feeder is nearly empty. I know I must replenish it, but I can’t command my body to move.

Before my seventy year-old mother moved in, I thought I’d continue working and hire a nurse to care for her. I wavered. In the back of my head I wondered if we might find an emotional connection before it was too late. In the end, I convinced the senior partners at my law firm that it would be better to work at home for a while and take care of her myself.

 Now I see my wish to wring more from our relationship as foolhardy. It’s elusive, like an important thought I can’t recall that hovers in the back of my mind. Now I just want to get through this miserable time and have it end. I’m so tired my teeth ache.

I climb the stairs and enter her bedroom. My mother is packing, her open suitcase stuffed with clothes and her silver tea set. Glints of light ping off the gleaming surface of the polished metal.

 “Just where do you think you’re going?” I ask her.

 Without a word, she places her underwear beside the tea set, overlapping each piece two inches apart.

 “I’m still alive. I’m going home.”

 Her words bounce in the air and their meaning nearly slips out of my reach. We have only talked around her impending death. When she chooses, she blocks out what the doctors told her. “You can’t go home. You’re not well.”

“I’m better. I want my salad bowl back, too.”

 My mother barely stands upright. Her handwriting is no longer legible. “We sublet your apartment and put most of your things in storage. Remember? You’re staying with me for now.”

 She glares at me. Although she’s shriveled four inches from her original height and lost a lot of weight, her presence still fills the room.

 Her attention focuses on a nightgown slung over a chair. It’s one that she brought from home. I grab it, crumpling it under my arm. Three weeks ago, when my mother first arrived, I bought her a batch of better fitting clothes so that her weight loss wouldn’t be so apparent.

 Each lost pound seems to represent one less breath left in her limited allotment. I’ve tried to count the numbers of breaths she takes in an hour. Then I multiply them over a day, a week, a month, figuring how many are left within the short time she has left. It’s a senseless activity that fills long voids in our conversations.

 She stares at the floor. “I’m real sick, aren’t I?” Her voice is a hoarse whisper.

“Yes, but I’m taking care of you.”

 She looks pathetic. Then her expression hardens, and she narrows her eyes.

“You want me dead so you can get all my things.”

 Her belongings are like her emotions; meager and held tight to her body, like the empty pocketbook she takes to bed each night. Neither one of us can love freely.

Hungry Heart Review – Ray Greenblatt

A Review of THE HUNGRY HEART, written by: Ray Greenblatt, Wayne, Pennsylvania

 Ray Greenblatt has lived in New England, the West Indies, and along the Eastern Shore. He has written short stories, essays, and poetry which have been published across the U.S. in periodicals as diverse as America, English Journal, and Joseph Conrad Today. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice and won the Anthony Byrne Prize. He was also  editor of the magazine General Eclectic. A teacher for many years Ray Greenblatt has taught writing in the Philadelphia Writers Conference as well as spoken at the John Steinbeck Festival in Salinas, California.“ 
by Fran Metzman
(Wilderness House Press, 2012)

 In her new collection of short stories, Fran Metzman proves that she is a daring experimenter. Most of her stories deal with contemporary issues that surge daily through the media; from family relationships (My Inheritance) to black-white relationships (Reunion) to white collar fraud (Dinner).

 Most of the stories are told from a third person point-of-view with a  woman as the major character. In “Dinner with the Mob” a woman speaks for herself. In “The Right Seasoning” a man takes the stage to reveal his  development.  One story Metzman places smack dab in our “City of Brotherly Love” with references to: Montgomery Avenue, the Main Line, the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Orchestra, West Philly, Center City Philadelphia.

 Her genres vary too. “Dinner with the Mob” is nearly Theater of the Absurd with so many of the guests at a posh dinner party having served time and crowing about it. “The Invisible Wife”  is Surrealism since the ex-wife secretly lives in her ex-husband’s attic to observe him with his new wife. “The Right Seasoning” grows into Comic Horror as a widower recaptures his wife’s essence by using her ashes as seasoning in his cooking.  It reminds me of Roald Dahl’s story “The Landlady” in which a traveling salesman has tea—which tastes peculiar—with the sweet old landlady then discovers upstairs embalmed tenants who were poisoned.

 Metzman is skilled in choosing just the right wording to fit the storyline. Her imagery is striking: “He put himself right out there, allowing her scathing words to claw his soul.” (Redemption). “She goes to a dermatologist who pumps poison into her face until she looks like a dolphin.” (The Early Bird Special) “A thickening silence bound Andrea in place.” (The Girls from Mapleton)

 Entire paragraphs vibrate with meaning.  In “The Girls from Mapleton” Chris tries to deny that her friend’s preacher father seduced her as a child: “Her voice pushed out against some invisible force that tried to silence her. Once the words were out they seemed to spin and then hang in the air menacingly. Chris produced  a tube of orange lipstick that matched her nails. In three broad strokes her lips became vibrant but refused to open to emit sound.” In “Christmas in August” an old boy friend wants to force himself back into Nancy’s life: “Now she sensed he wanted to backfill the void of the last four years to make it firm enough to walk across. It set her even more on edge and she began babbling about her graphic design job and how she’d been made director of the department. When a  hole appeared in her monologue, she plugged it with giggles.  The calmer he appeared, the faster she talked. She felt feverish.” Finally Nancy realizes that Curtis had always been and is still just trying to use her: “It was as though Curtis had placed a bookmark before the last chapter of a thrilling book when he left, and now she had read the disturbing conclusion. The book was closed, and she had a sense of peace.”

 As we can see, Metzman can be a mesmerizer in her word usage. Here she probes even more deeply into psychological depths. “She told herself to sit and listen to how she herself continued the legacy of repressing emotions” and “My head woke up too late. It forgot my body is nearly dead.” (The Early Bird Special) An inanimate object becomes a forbidding thing: “She recalled with repugnance that the plaster walls in that evil house had absorbed the smell of chicken soup that Barbara’s mother cooked twice a week.” (The Girls from Mapleton) Metzman’s insights into human nature are telling: from “Poverty doesn’t equate to a bad childhood” (Reunion) to “They both knew her body language had always been an open window to her interior landscape” (Christmas in August); until Metzman puts her finger on a real secret of happiness though rendered maniacally—“A craving to find something she lost or never owned overwhelmed her. She intended to teach Bruce the real meaning of love, offer her larger house for them to live in, share her inheritance with him. Other women offered sex which many men interpreted as love. She offered love.” (Myra’s garden).

 Although we’ve been getting hints of it, we shouldn’t overlook Metzman’s sense of humor, even in serious situations. “The Right Seasoning” is an especially fascinating and starkly funny story. Charles loved his wife Ruth and her cooking. “Food had fulfilled him, rounding his belly and marking events in his life, much like keeping a diary.”  He even thinks of a meat thermometer in a new way. “How nice if he had such an instrument to gauge his emotional health on any given day.” Meals became more and more special. “He had the notion that these sumptuous dinners coated their vital organs like a buffer against disease and that they’d live forever.”

Unexpectedly Ruth dies. “Pleasant dreams turned into a repetitive nightmare of a four foot tongue, lashing at the tasteless air.” He tries to recapture the magic. ”Each brick  seemed old and tired now, but once a week the kitchen came to life when he started the fire.” Memories return to him. “Rose, in her crisp, white apron had always created multi-colored hues round herself; vermilion filled the room when she cooked red sauces, dots of purple spun through the air when she stuffed  eggplants.”

Soon his grief has created a  fantasy around Donna, his next door neighbor who is nothing like Ruth. “When she wasn’t looking, he inhaled the faintest scent of rosemary from a sundress. Tears burned his eyes.”  Eventually Donna transforms into Ruth. “Soon Donna’s   nose took on a girth and her eyes went to ink black. A beauty mark appeared on Donna’s newly olive-toned cheek, and her pencil thin, skim milk colored mouth swelled and shaded into terra-cotta. Heat rose from his skin and his knees buckled. He wanted to shout out his wife’s name, but contained himself.”

Two stories I want to focus on because for me they are the most powerful in the collection. “Getting Close” has ties to “The Right Seasoning” with the theme of food common to both; you might also observe that their endings “go over the top.” Yet “Getting Close” offers so many dynamically memorable truths.

The story opens dramatically: “The scent of earthy root coming from a pot of potatoes boiling on the stove invades my nostrils.”  Things are not well between the two women: “Our relationship was on the brink of total extinction, and I saw this as the last chance to rebuild an endangered species—mother and daughter.” Food again becomes larger than itself: “Parboiling, braising, steaming, sautéing, roasting and frying are sacred rituals.”

 The mother holds so many demons inside: “Now I sense that she is searching through her unending bag of torturous comments she has on the ready for me”; “It scares me to look at her and see my future.” Another symbol: “Beside the window is her blue wing chair that retains the shape of her. It is the saddest chair I have ever seen”; “melancholy oozed into every inch of space in the apartment until it bulged at the seams.” The mother moans:  “It’s a cry of mournful horns blown on mountaintops for the dead,  for lost love, sickness, evil and torment”; “I don’t have the courage to walk into her deadly radiation zone.”

In an act of defiance mixed with appeasement, the daughter tries to accept the only thing her mother has openly offered: “I stand at the dividing archway between the kitchen and the living room holding a ball of dough. I fling it against the wall. It flattens, clings for a  moment then plops to the floor. Strangely, the sound makes me want to giggle.  Looking up, I see my mother in a violent blur. She’s banging her head against the wall with a rapid, steady beat …She wails and calls to God to end her miserable life.”

“Ripping away the coverings, I begin stuffing food in my mouth. My mother stops her head banging rituals and watches me, a stunned look on her face. I wash down the chicken with a turkey leg, and then break off a piece of baked potato and smash it into my mouth. I gobble half a loaf of bread. Filling a tall glass with water, I slurp it, forcing my impacted food down my throat.” Inevitably, “there is a furious protest from my stomach, and I rush to the bathroom. Falling to my knees, I cling to the toilet bowl and retch. Like a punch to my gut I vomit nearly choking on the volume.” Yet nothing is really solved between them.

In the final story I wish to discuss, Metzman’s opening story “My Inheritance,” the mother is older, more withdrawn, actually dying from cancer. Reference to food and wild displays of emotion are absent. Again, the opening is powerful: “My mother is dying. There are shuffling noises overhead coming from her bedroom. She has cancer, and her death is imminent. I am her only child.  We never liked each other.”  Then both women are partially revealed: “Her belongings are like her emotions; meager and held tight to her body, like the empty pocketbook she takes to bed each night. Neither of us can live freely. That became only too clear to me after my two marriages failed. Still, I’ve decided that we will have some kind of solution before she goes even if it kills me, too. It looks as though it might.”

It seems the sole nourishment between them is a special tea: “Without my mother knowing, I fix us marijuana-laced tea every night. It helps her sleep, eases nausea and calms my nerves. She brightens. ‘That’s really good tea.’” Metzman digs more deeply in this story: “Unanswered questions rattle in my mind like bingo balls whirling in mesh cages. I picture the cage stopping and the winning ball rolling into the cup. It has my father’s name on it.  I only saw him three times since he left.” Her mother finally confesses: “I’m angry because you remind me of your father. No backbone to either one of you. And your face is exactly like his. It’s like looking at his glazed eyes that never saw me. And, oh my God, when I see your full mouth, always pouting, I only see him. Just looking at you makes my bones hurt.” 

That’s the amount of closure we get, and as real human beings we can feel for both characters on this page. “I tuck her into bed, lean over and kiss her cheek. It feels like disintegrating old newspaper.” No exaggerations, no gimmicks, not a wasted word. With incisive use of dialogue, these last two stories discussed are told in an intimate first person . Metzman’s writing style has deepened so that it shimmers, speaks truth, and affects us emotionally.

In a Postscript of my own, I would like to comment on Ms Metzman’s short Afterward called “Writing and Healing.” A reader or indeed writer can learn a lot from this brief chapter about the dynamics of an author in the process of creating her stories. Yet as I sit here, still with a hungry heart, I do not think of sugar plum fairies. Dancing through my head, due to Fran Metzman’s vivid writing, I daydream about knishes, kugel, blintzes, latkes …

Ray Greenblatt
Wayne, Pennsylvania


Tip #1

One rule of thumb in writing, particularly in fiction, that I adhere to is learning structure in writing. Would you trust a doctor to operate on you if he/she didn’t have a working knowledge of anatomy? Well, I liken that to writing – structure, structure, structure. Once you learn the elements of dialogue, narration, point of view, description, setting, time & place, etc. and the balance between all of these elements, you are off to a flying start whether you write non-fiction, literary or commercial fiction.

There are visual images that need to be addressed such as white space on a page. In today’s world, there is a greater push for white space (tends toward commercial) rather than dense words on every page (tends toward literary). Again, balance enters into this. Think of your audience. If writing more commercial fiction give your reader more white spaces, less description. Even in literary pieces, people raised on speed in computers, texting and iPads easily tire of long passages that go on and on about the landscape. Readers like to get to the story quickly and absorbed in the conflict that ensues whether it is physical or psychological or both. And don’t forget CONFLICT! That is the heart of your story.

There should also be adherence to reality – what motivates people in real life and how does that translate into fiction. Study human behavior for an understanding of human behavior even if writing commercial fiction. 

That is not to say you can’t experiment, but you need understanding of structural elements in order to innovate. Like great artists who have gone experimental, almost always they can do realistic work first. Picasso did realistic portraits before his famous bombastic pieces.

Statistically Independent

An article in The New York Times by Sam Roberts, January 16, 2007 said: “For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.
“In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.”
When divorces occur, men are much more likely to remarry than women. At ages 45 and plus, around 1/3 of men remarry and approximately 25% of women. I was intrigued by this statistic and curious as to the reasoning behind it, and looked at it from different angles.
Most women are reluctant to leave a marriage for reasons such as; family, economics, image of stability and fear of traumatizing children. For another thing, they don’t want the stigma of failure as problems in marriages are usually attributed to woman.
I find that women will live with many flaws in their marriage before committing to the heart-rending deed of divorce. There are many women who know their husbands are cheating (either with women or men) who might even be keeping a mistresses. Still, they stick with the marriage.
No doubt, there are women who leave marriages because they are on a mission to find themselves and although the union is good, they leave. I believe they are in the minority. For the most part, when a woman wants out there is good, solid reason. Perhaps once out of a bad marriage many are reluctant to jump in again – especially if they have the means of earning a decent income.
In this modern world where the sexes are supposedly equal, women are still doing the majority of household chores. Tie that into a husband who is unresponsive to their needs, is emotionally distanced and/or underlying it all has little respect for women. Yes, there is still a strong prejudice that women are not as smart as men. It might be a nasty holdover from yesteryear but there it is – in your face. Can we rid society of this deeply embedded and destructive perception? We need to explore many of the reasons before anything else. 

Do People Rush Into Second Marriages Too Soon

The tendency to rush into marriage too soon after becoming single is risky. Approximately 68% of second marriages fail. The percentages go up with subsequent marriages. Males might be too eager to reenter marriage because they miss the amenities society grants to men in that institution. They might be seeking remarriage because they want an easier and simpler personal life style – aided by the little woman.

When single women marry too soon after a divorce or widowhood, they, too, face a negative impact. If they are only seeking security and/or the image a married woman presents to society they might be overlooking red flags or perhaps recognizing them and putting them aside. There is still the misconception that marriage will change a spouse. This happens infrequently. 

Single women often have a good support system with other women. Men usually don’t do that kind of networking. Women are more into making social arrangements than men. Men can become more dependent because they often lack the skills to keep a social life together. In marriage men might find relief from domestic responsibility and daily living decisions, leaving all that sissy stuff to their wives whereas women often feel put upon in taking up more and more tasks.  

It might boost the success rate of second plus marriages if all newly single people would become more amenable to waiting longer. That hiatus should be used to discover reasons why the first or second (or more) time around failed. That means unearthing and understanding motivations and behavior. Once one develops insight into themselves, they are in a better position to find a satisfying relationship based on love, commonality of interests, communication, carefully planned blending of families or any other issues of importance in relationships. This is the path to being much more mature in a relationship and therefore better able to find contentment.

ROMANTIC CHEMISTRY MIGHT BE LEADING US ASTRAY

My intense curiosity about the inner workings of relationships has inspired me to write short stories that have now been published into a short story collection, The Hungry Heart Stories by Fran Metzman, Wilderness House Press, 2012. These will be my point of reference.

I’ve written numerous articles about relationships and how to make them better. They can be found on: www.wildriverreview.com/metzman, entitled: The Age of Reasonable Doubt. It is my passion to seek answers to why so many relationships fail. Presently, at least half of all marriages end in divorce, and an even greater percentage of second marriages go down the tubes.

When we find dissatisfaction within a relationship, we must think through the pivotal elements that send us off-kilter. Internal chemistry can draw us to a wrong person – even repetitively.

Would you entrust your life to a doctor when you have a serious illness because your instinct tells you he’s good? Wouldn’t you research the doctor’s credentials – what is his background, where did he go to school and more? Why not be as thorough with romance? It is the opposite of instinctive, but it is imperative to involve our brains along with hearts.

Relationships of all kinds are basic needs to humans – good, bad or indifferent. There is a yearning, whether we are aware of it or not, to fill the emotional chasms that are lacking from our past. Confronting past issues contributes toward making for good present relationships.

As an example, some of the short stories that address this in The Hungry Heart Stories, are:

1) The Invisible Wife, a tale about a woman who lived in the attic of her ex-husband’s home to spy on him and his new wife. 
2) Getting Closer, depicts a mother/daughter in deep conflict where food intersects their lives.
3) In the story, My Inheritance, again a mother/daughter clash has the protagonist desperately wanting to resolve issues from the past as she cares for her dying mother.
4) The protagonist must choose between a previous lover who appears after a long absence and the man who replaced him in the story, Christmas in August.  
5) Food dominated the life of a couple in the, The Right Seasoning, and now the husband must wrestle with grief in order to survive after his beloved wife dies.
6) A once poverty stricken woman hits her stride in her 30’s but realizes the sacrifices she made to get ahead in the story, The Reunion.
7) The Girls from Mapleton, raises the question of how a never discussed, shared childhood trauma impacts three women when they reach adulthood.

Through translating real life into fiction, I am seeking to reveal the secrets of relationships. Seeking the golden grail of romance may require a journey into hell. If we’ve backfilled the trauma of our lives carelessly rather than dealt with them head-on it could lead to bad romantic choices. The chemistry that stems from early childhood along with many social demands (particularly to be married) can veer us off-course. Yes, it means digging into the past and our unconscious, but it is a necessary tough task. And that brings us to why I write edgy stories about human behavior in relationships. I struggle to uncover the elements that drive us all.