The Shaw Invasion

This is what Friendship looks like.
This is what Friendship looks like.

Shaw is a careless dot in the middle of the San Juan Islands. On a map, it kind of looks like a cowboy boot with a broken spur. In my heart, it looks like my friends laughing behind an old cabin, drunk off of Jam Jar wine.

In November 2010, on a day full of strange fiction coming to life, we gathered gold maple leaves the size of a giant’s hand into bouquets. We ordained Emily a minister and pretended to marry each other with Eskimo kisses on the mossy ground behind the cabin. (The boys hit golf balls around in the front, oblivious to our silliness.) Afterwards, the brides jumped into a rusted, orange hollowed-out Charger with a cardboard “just married” sign in tow.

The ceremony concluded with this photograph and a reception of spiked hot chocolate and more Jam Jar wine, enjoyed around a snapping fire.

The mainland is full of responsibility – jobs, bills, irksome social media we can’t seem to live without. But on Shaw, nothing exists but the moment and the limits of our imaginations and friendships.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Truth is Stranger than Fiction; Post II

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

This is my response to the WordPress Daily Post, Weekly Writing Challenge. I did not take this picture, this is just a story-telling exercise. I thought this would be fun to do, so wrote up a quick story for this photo over my lunch break today…


Linda emerged from her mother’s womb trying to speak. She didn’t cry like normal newborns, she just moved her lips as though she were trying to communicate something extremely important to the doctors. Even before she understood how to form words, Linda would lay in her crib at night joyously spurting ba ba bas and da da das  that kept her parents, Dorothy and George, awake. She wasn’t a fussy baby, just an unusually chatty one.  They wondered what on earth she could have to talk about so early in life, before she’d had the opportunity to make friends or form attachments to her inanimate playthings. Monologues of random sounds spilled from her crib, as though she’d been possessed by their elderly neighbor, Mrs. Pacifico, who had been in the habit of stopping Dorothy on the street and speaking directly to her belly and who had passed away shortly before Linda’s birth.

Dorothy would cry in distress, not wanting her little girl to be possessed by the spirit of an old, Italian woman. George assured her that no one had come back from the dead to torture her with superfluous chatter. Women were naturally imbued with the gift of gab, and their little Linda just got a little bit extra.

Linda began to combine single syllable nonsense into full sentences at a year and a half. Her excessive talkativeness became more tolerable when Dorothy could actually understand what she was saying. But still, she swore she could see a glint of Mrs. Pacifico in Linda’s eyes when she’d get on a good word run and this still caused Dorothy to burst into tears on occasion.

Too young to play with neighbor children, Linda spent a lot of time with her brother, William. However, he would grow so tired of playing with Linda due to the constant talking, that he took several naps a day to recuperate. Dorothy soon began to wonder if William had a sleeping disorder, and because of that William spent two years in doctor’s offices trying to get to the bottom of his extreme sleepiness.

George bought Dorothy a new camera for Christmas the year Linda turned four. It was an Argus C4, in a tan, fitted case with a muzzle that covered the lens, and long leather strap that she could wear around her neck. He even bought her several canisters of Kodak film to get her started. She wanted to get a good picture of her family now that she had a proper camera. But, every time she would develop the film, she would discover that she’d captured Linda mid-sentence and mouth agape. William’s eyes were always closed.

A mouth agape distressed George in particular, who believed it looked too much like smiling – something only indulgent Protestant families did. Good young Catholics should look humble and pious at all times. They should also look alert and ready for any service the good Lord required, but try as they might, they couldn’t get a good photo.

Capturing a good photo seemed hopeless, until one Sunday morning before church, George discovered Linda peering with deep longing at a picture in one of her books. The silence alarmed him, so he approached his little girl to find out why she wasn’t speaking. He soon learned that Linda wanted a puppy like the one in the window of the book. When George mentioned puppy, William perked up and began jumping up and down, begging. Linda just looked with the tenderest affection at the book and simply said, “Puppy.”

Dressed in their Sunday best, Dorothy lined up her family outside their church later that cold, April day for another photo attempt. George held their tiny hands and looked at them sternly for a moment.

“Do you want a puppy, William?”

“Yes, yes!”

“Do you want a puppy, Linda?”

Linda squealed.

George squeezed their hands and stood up. “William, if you can keep your eyes open, and Linda, if you can keep your mouth shut, this afternoon you will have a puppy.”

Linda had never tried so hard in her entire life to keep the words inside as she waited for her mother to snap the picture. Her cheeks bulged with unspoken thoughts, and William stared with tired excitement.

Linda and William got their puppy that day, and Dorothy finally got her family photo – and a moment of silence.