Painted Pumpkins

by: Rebecca Taylor

Leaves rustled overhead as Tania Hanson and her daughter Mariah walked outside to their pumpkin patch. It was time to choose one and take it inside to decorate it. Tania had several stencils of cats, leaves, witches and other Halloweeny things that she knew her daughter would enjoy. Tania always liked painted pumpkins better than carved ones because they lasted longer.

“This is so much fun, Mom,” said Mariah.

“I’m glad that you like it, honey,” said Tania, “I’m glad we can do it together.”

“Me too,” said Mariah, “I just wish that Dad could be here to do it with us.”

“He told me he should be home next week and we can skype him to show him what our painted pumpkins look like,” replied Tania.

“Alright,” said Mariah, “I want to paint a special one for him.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” said Tania.

Together the mother and daughter duo selected their pumpkins and then they put them in the wheelbarrow to take them closer to the house.

It was moments like this that Tania lived for. She enjoyed creating special moments with her daughter, and with her husband when he was home. He traveled frequently for business and she didn’t get to see him as much as she would have liked. She, however, didn’t let that get her down. Instead, she felt incredibly blessed that technology kept them connected so that she and Mariah could share their everyday lives with him even when he was away. She knew that his face would light up with a smile and that his blue eyes would twinkle with the love that they carried when he saw what she and Mariah had been up to. Painted pumpkins and hot apple cider, what a better way to spend a Saturday in autumn.

Another Take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears

by: Rebecca Taylor

A family was out for a walk while their porridge cooled on the kitchen table. The door was locked in the city where they lived but some children had been playing a game of baseball across the street and it broke a window. Afraid that they would be found out, the children sent in the smallest one amongst them to get their unique baseball. When the boy saw the porridge on the counter, he remembered the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and sampled the porridge.

“It’s true,” he said, “this one is too hot, this one is too cold,” but when he sampled the third one it was just right and he ate the whole bowl. He also tried out the kitchen chairs but thankfully they didn’t break like in the fairy tale.

“Did you find the ball?” asked someone from outside the door.

The boy hadn’t even started looking yet and he was worried that someone would find him in the house because the porridge on the counter obviously meant that someone would be back soon.

The boy had just found the ball under a sofa when the door opened and in walked a man, six feet tall. He looked like a giant to the boy.

“What are you doing in my house?”

“Getting my baseball, sir.”

“Why didn’t you ask instead of coming into my house.”

“I’m sorry, sir, please don’t send me to jail.”

“And you ate my little girl’s porridge too, what do you think this is, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

“No, sir, I didn’t mean to, but I was hungry and -,”

“I’m not going to call the cops this time,” said the man, “but I am going to call your parents,” and he did and the boy had to pay for the broken window, the porridge and the inconvenience with his next year’s allowance.


Return Adulthood

Sometimes I don’t feel like I am making a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I bet all Americans would be lost without Target and the trusty return line, where you can return crap you shouldn’t have bought in the first place or a gift your daughter-in-law did not appreciate during that recent family gathering. But when I help people take care of their retail therapy regrets, I do not feel as if I’m making much of a difference.

I tell myself that maybe today will be different, as I stand behind the counter and notice three people moving toward my line. Yuck.

The first one is an old lady returning the shower curtain because it didn’t match the beige of her bathroom walls. She complains for about 30 seconds on our lack of color selection before seemingly taking the cue of my lack of response and heading out the door.

The next is a man, returning an embarrassing pair of boxers with women kiss lips on them. Apparently the wife didn’t know him well.. Or the mistress. Who really knows at this point?

The next customer is just a…nothingness. Then there is a whip of hair appearing over the side of the counter. She hands me a sheet of paper. It was a bit crusty looking, maybe a cereal spill. She had to reach to the end of her arm’s length to get it on the counter. She looked to be under ten. Maybe. I could never tell about ages.

“What can I help you with?” I asked, wondering what this was as I looked it over. It was a piece of notebook paper with a list called “Things that have caused me pain” in the upper right hand side of the paper it said the date and “RETURN” in huge block letters.

“Mom is returning stuff later. But I wanted to help sissy. Mom gave me slushy money but I found this in sissy’s room and wanted to return it.” The girl told me.

“Well, what were you hoping to return it for?” I asked, knowing this was not going to be something I could give her money back for. Well, maybe…. I looked over the list. It started with “My parents’ divorce = cost me a normal dating relationship because I always worry I’m becoming too much like my Mom and that then I will not be able to move forward with the relationship.” Also listed was “My brother’s drug problem = cost me trust in family.” Then, a few lines later, “My brother’s funeral = cost me emotional balance.” At the end, it said, “RETURN so that I can be a healthy child again. I do not want to be an adult anymore.”

I frowned at this list and then looked at the girl. She had her wallet open and looked ready to transfer money back to her sister.

“I can help you with this. Hold on.” I told my co-worker I was taking a break and walked over to the girl, “Let’s go get that slushy.” I ordered slushies for us and didn’t let her use her mom’s money. She might need it to buy a ticket to anywhere that wasn’t her crazy family. We mixed the blue and red in our slushies because she had never done that before.

“It was in your sister’s journal?” I asked the girl, wondering absently what kind of mom sends their kid off to get a slushy by themselves. We sat down at one of the mostly clean tables in the Target sit down area.

“Yeah, I heard her crying and I snuck in her room when she went to hang out with Lily.” The little girl leaned closer and said sincerely, “I don’t think she knows how to return things. I don’t know what those are but I know the word return from my Mom. She likes to shop for wrong things.”

I looked at the little girl. I grabbed a book from my purse, called “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown. It was the self-help book I was reading and I figured the sister needed it more. I started to write a note and the girl babbled on about her slushy. “Your sister really loves you and wanted to return the list that was making you cry. I gave her this book because I can’t return life experiences. I know it sucks. My little sister is gone, too. – Target return girl.”

I handed the book to the little girl and said, “When you return a journal page (which I had stashed back in the book), you get a book from me.”

I started to stand but the girl asked, “Most people don’t return pages, do they?”

I sat back down and looked at her eyes, which were so much deeper already than they “should” be. But who decided on what “should” be, when every day something happened that “shouldn’t.”

“No, most people do not. But I am glad you did.” I stood up and walked back to the line.

Sure enough, the mom showed up in my line with a few things to return, including the new Nicholas Sparks bestseller, a clearance cup with little balloons printed all over it and three newborn outfits. I wondered if it was from a family dispute or if another child had been lost.

Right as the mom was about to leave with the girl, I said. “You have a very well-behaved girl. If you ever need a babysitter,” I jotted my number on the receipt, “Let me know.”

She thanked me and absently looked at her daughter. Maybe she will call. Maybe she won’t. But today I hope I made a difference.

Few Regrets

by: Rebecca Taylor

Live a life of few regrets

The time for taking chances stands before you

The clock turns slowly but steadily

Outcomes may be unexpected

But attempts for future successes are most important

Leading yourself to your own triumph

Is always a win.

Nature’s Beauty

by: Rebecca Taylor

Dew droplets sparkling on the grass

Trees reflecting against the bright blue skies

Sunshine filtering down to the ground

Rows of hay bales to be picked up

Quiet except for the sound of birds

And the tractor’s engine

Nature gives us beauty to find serenity in.


by: Rebecca Taylor

Change can be happy, or it can be sad

Sometimes it comes with gladness or madness

But there’s no point in pouting

And no reason for shouting

It is best just to take it as it comes

Some changes we can fight against

But many once come must just be accepted

The sooner we accept it

The easier it is to move along

Where we must continue to seek the good.

A Ship’s Recollections

by: Rebecca Taylor

**Published on the Perspectives Magazine Website in 2008*

I have sailed on many seas and have weathered many storms. I am built from the strongest wood that Captain Isaiah Langstrom could find. My captain is a good man and I have respected him for more than fifteen years, but there was a time when my faith in him faltered. I caught him writing horrendous thoughts in our journey’s logbook. I can still remember the words like he had carved them into my stern. He had written, maybe after this voyage I will sell the Sea Scope and go back to the family business of dismantling old pirate ships and making them into seaworthy voyageurs. How could my captain think of selling me after all of the voyages we had been on, me, the ship that he built, the ship who has kept him safe against all sorts of weather conditions. When I heard this, my belly churned and I contemplated failing my master. He was going to sell me, who had proven to be seaworthy for more than eight years at that time, and had sailed on countless voyages with my captain. But, I believed in Captain Langstrom and had sharp pain foam throughout me like waves of a tropical storm that he could betray my love for him by selling me. I thought I might sink, that if we couldn’t be together always that neither one of us would survive. I decided to hold off for a while as I was thinking of doing this to a man that I cared deeply about and I didn’t know how I could kill someone who gave me life.

I came to my senses one night not long after when I heard my captain telling the crew how much his possible decision was hurting him, how as much as he loved sailing that his family needed him. I am a ship, and as all ships know, roaming in the sea is the only life for us, I didn’t want to imagine a life of possibly being docked somewhere or used by a different captain. I am a one-man boat but there was nothing I could do but try to make the rest of that voyage with the captain, seeing the new lands, the most invigorating feeling in the world, seeing it from far off and then sailing to it, seeing the image become clearer and clearer like seeing a Polaroid develop before your eyes. Time passed quickly on the rest of the voyage and while I tried to understand the turmoil that my captain was going through trying to make his decision, I was frightened of what was to become of me.

One night, the captain sat down on the floor of the ship on the starboard side and whispered so only I could hear, “Sea Scope, you and I have known each other for a long time, I have made a decision, you might not like it but it is the only decision that I feel I can live with right now. You are going to be docked for about a year while I help my family get its business running smoothly again and I then I will try to find someone to take my place and we will sail together again. I was going to sell you but I can’t bring myself to do it. I built you with my hands and I plan to sail you again. I hope you can understand.”

A captain talking to his boat, most people would find this absurd but this is the bond that Captain Langstrom and I share. I needed to hear what he had to say, and his words shook my hull. I know that the day he spoke to me sitting by my side was the day that cemented our relationship and restored my trust in him. Seven years have passed since that awful time and the captain and I have had to rely on each other many times. I am thankful that he believes in me like I believe in him. Many boats have crossed the seas before me with worthy sailors to discover new and exciting lands but I would not trade in my sails for another captain ever, no matter how rough some parts of our journey together may be.

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