Mandy’s Monster

He was about to walk out the door for work when I told him his tie was crooked. I thought I was doing him a favor. He took it the wrong way. That’s when he slapped me.

Mandy hid the journal on her side of the closet, high on the shelf in an old box where she kept childhood mementos. Rick didn’t care about her childhood. She knew he wouldn’t look there for any reason.

Her mind drifts to the wedding ceremony when Rick gently slipped the diamond-studded band on her ring finger – the adoring look in his eyes as they exchanged vows: to love, to cherish, to respect, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, ‘till death do us part…the last phrase brings chills to her skin. She didn’t notice any signs before their wedding day. How was this possible?

She wonders how she let herself be pulled into this marriage. In the beginning, love was what her heart and mind felt. She knew she had found the perfect partner as they planned their California May wedding. Rick helped choose the venue and the whimsical invitations as they perused numerous websites. He spoke with several florists on the phone about a spring selection that would meet her color choices of pink, lilac, and ivory. They skimmed through their music collection, searching for the song that would be perfect for their first dance. His actions portrayed the love she thought he felt for her.

Mandy had dreamed of a tropical honeymoon, so when they strolled hand in hand, feet sinking into the warm sand outside their Maui hotel room, she was living her dream. Candlelight across a table was the only thing that separated the two of them as they dined out each evening. And when they wanted privacy instead of sitting in a crowded restaurant, room service was delivered. The aqua water invited them in for snorkeling and swimming each day. Rick was perfect. They were perfect.

But after a couple of months of Mr. and Mrs., she no longer knew this man she lived with. It’s as though body snatchers transformed him into a completely different male specimen – not the man she fell in love with or who indulged in chocolate covered strawberries in bed.

The insults and criticisms began slowly with comments about her cooking and her weight. Then the hitting followed with a push of her shoulder, a slap across her face, to punches in her stomach. She iced the bruises. Took Advil for the pain. Rick wasn’t a drinker; alcohol wouldn’t be found in the house, so she couldn’t even indulge to numb the mental and physical agony. Long sleeves covered the effects of his violence on her arms and long pants did the same for her legs. No one would see her back and stomach since wearing a bathing suit in public was not in the foreseeable future. Then the physical abuse turned into control. He typed up her resignation letter for her teaching job because she was to stay home where a wife belongs. He restrained her like one would a dangerous animal. When he left for work each morning, Mandy was resigned to existing within the walls of their condo. When Rick voiced these demands, she could’ve spit nails but held her tongue.

As though being confined to her home wasn’t humiliating enough, Rick ensured Mandy had no contact with the outer world by disconnecting the home phone. She was only permitted to use her cell to answer his calls, but she was not to trouble him at work. As an upstanding police officer for the city, Rick’s schedule stayed busy trying to keep law and order in the bedroom community. He had little time for nonsense. Mandy was fully aware that if she called anyone or if someone contacted her, the cell phone bill would be her worst enemy. She wished she had her old iPhone with internet and texting capabilities. But no, he replaced it with an elementary phone for calls only. He was too damn smart, but she wouldn’t expect anything less being the police officer he was.

Sitting on her bed one morning, hearing the door lock click in place, Mandy is left alone to stare at the sun’s rays as they push through her window. Normally, she’d welcome their warmth and ability to lift spirits. Not today. She’s cold and clammy to the touch and she gives the tears permission to fall. Rick’s fatal threats hold her back from leaving him, along with that damn fear of wondering if he’d catch her once she bolts out the door. What scares her most of all is that her abusive husband is a cop. The irony. Her story doesn’t stand a chance. She didn’t invent this scenario; it’s as old as time.

She gets on with the day, walking into the kitchen to empty the trash – one of the chores Rick reminded her to do. Stepping out front to deposit the bag into their bin on the side of the house, she begins to sweat. Mississippi’s temperature rockets close to ninety degrees and ninety percent humidity, so she burns up in the long-sleeved tee. But she doesn’t dare get caught in short sleeves by Helen, the nice old lady next door. It happened once when Helen noticed the bruises on her arm and asked Mandy about them. She scrambled for a viable excuse: I was silly enough to try to move our TV and it fell on my arm! Helen bought it, or so she responded like she had.

Maybe it’s the long-sleeve on a ninety-degree day – a signal that indicated enough is enough. To see those blues and purples show up on her body have proven to be more painful than the pain itself. Shame takes up real estate in her mind, and yet, she knows she’s not to blame. She can’t put on the brakes to the bruising, but she does have choices. Choices that seem clearer than ever before. She won’t let him strip her of all dignity. Her escape would stamp an exclamation mark on the separation from him and his flood of invectives and physical abuse. She wants nothing more than to know he’s locked up in a cell. But how can she get away without him finding her? Blowing her nose and wiping her wet eyes, and even with the company of uncertainty, she asserts, I will not-die-on-his-watch!

Freedom — Ganador

Lauren Scott (c) 2021
(Fiction)

Story photo and Feature image: Google

Do you ever…

wish there were more hours in a day? Sometimes, it’s difficult to fit in all that we strive to accomplish in that set of time. Some days and weeks pass by where nothing has been completed because of lazy moods or wallowing in self-pity.

Self Pity Vs Staying Positive - So Bad Ass

Well, it’s important that we remember to…

make time to sit still…to think, to listen. Keep those dreams alive even when they fall to the wayside. Create new dreams, set new goals. When we keep the wheels turning in our head and work towards accomplishing a goal, there is little time for wallowing to become real estate in our minds. And working towards achievement implies always trying – standing tall when failure smacks us in the face.

People Who Live Without Dreams. Insights of the people who don't have… | by  Vinod Sharma | Live Your Life On Purpose | Medium

Of course, we’re never too old to learn. So, keep reading, allowing your brain to be the sponge its meant to be. And where there is time to work, there must also be time to play – to release worries and let laughter and childlike wonder lead the way.

Fight Covid-19 with 30 minutes of laughter every day | Hindustan Times

So, simply said, take time to grow and embrace each new life chapter. But whatever you do, don’t waste that precious time!

No stars are unreachable
No matter their height
No hope is invisible
No matter your plight
No dreams are unattainable
No matter how great
No burden is unmanageable
No matter its weight!

7 key intrinsic motivational drivers you need to understand

Lauren Scott (c)
Photos: Google

💗💗💗

I Found a Home!

Mom and me in 2012 when I joined the family

Hi! I’m Copper! Humans call me a chocolate lab mix. My legs are tall and my belly is shaped like a barrel. I hear I’m a big boy, weighing about 80 pounds, but I’m all muscle. I got my name because my coat is the color of copper like the metal. Humans often tell me I’m handsome, and if dogs could blush, I would blush. I love to cuddle and roll around the floor on my back, and my family gets to rub my barrel belly as often as they want. You see, I’m very generous, but my biggest job is to protect them.

One thing you must know, though, is that I’m not comfortable being left alone at home. I get a little nervous which makes me want to chew…especially, plastic and cloth. The last family I lived with got really mad at me, but it was their fault. They left me alone in the yard, so my nervousness snuck in. I scoped out the area, saw some furniture, then zeroed in on the cushions. Bingo! I chewed and gnawed and tugged to my heart’s content. My teeth were so happy! Next thing I knew, I was jumping into the car, heading to a white building where, much to my dismay, other dogs like me had been dropped off. And their cries hurt my heart, but I joined in the wailing when my human walked out the door without me. If I can’t be with my family, how can I be their protector? I’m amazed at how illogical humans can be.

Luckily, I didn’t stay at the white building for long because I went to live with a foster family. This kind of family couldn’t keep me forever, but they would care for me until I got adopted again. Heather was my foster mom and she was nice enough, but her two dogs scared me! Every time I trotted over to them, just wanting to play, they bared their teeth! The nerve! I realized I was the new dog on the block, but they should’ve welcomed me with friendly butt sniffs.

Soon after I was taken to Heather’s house, a mom with a young girl and boy visited me. When my eyes locked with theirs, I felt the connection! I just knew they would take me home, and they did! Excitement bubbled through me because I wanted to belong to a family; yet, I wondered if I would see that white building again. When I first trotted through the door and into the house, I met my new dad. He fluffed my ears and patted me on the head and said, “Hello there, Boy.” He had a strong, firm voice, but I sensed kindness in his touch. These humans welcomed me into their family, and I grew to love them all the same.

Mom became my main human. Each day, I watch her pour my food into the silver bowl more often than the rest of my family, but that’s because she has more time. She takes me for walks around our neighborhood, and at home, we cuddle on the soft carpet. That’s when she head-butts me gently, letting me know she loves me. In the beginning, I was so scared of the vacuum.  She would push it past me and I’d run across the room, afraid it might attack me! Her voice was soft and gentle, though, so I finally realized that was her way of saying it wasn’t going to hurt me. When the vacuum roars past me these days, I just lay there watching the cord slither in front of me, ignoring it. I’m cool!

Now Dad’s a funny fellow. His laugh echoes throughout the house. Mom says, “He sounds just like Santa!” Dad also calls me silly names like log-dropper and doo-maker! He rubs my neck like he’s giving me a fancy massage. My eyes get tired and droopy and he says, “Copper’s drunk on love.”

Mom, Dad, and Me

My siblings are the best ever! Sister and Brother give me so much love it’s like the sun shines even when it’s raining! I’m their cuddle bug! Sister and I run together, which makes my ears flop up and down. Then we stop for what she calls a photo op, but I’m always camera shy. Brother takes me on adventures – up and down hills and into the woods we go!  Lots of new scents to sniff and trees and bushes to lift my leg on. Life is good! I heel perfectly, prancing like a proud buck, and that’s when I hear, “Good boy, Copper!” Unless, of course, I see a squirrel skittering on the wire above us. I jump up and down! But that little enemy gets away! My humans laugh, and I still don’t know what’s so funny about a squirrel getting away!

Sister and Me

My family loves to sing around the house, except for Dad, and I hear that’s a good thing. I always sing, too, holding my head up high, howling to match their voices. And every time they sit on the floor with their legs crossed, I back my bottom into their lap and plop right down. I feel their arms wrap around me and their faces next to mine and my heartbeat slows to contentment.

Brother and Me

Then a very gloomy day came when Sister moved out of the house. She was older by this time and was going to live somewhere else. I watched tiny drops of water roll down Mom and Dad’s faces. My heart ached. I’m so glad Brother still lives with us, but it’ll be another gloomy day when he leaves and I think that day is coming soon. I’m preparing my heart. I guess that’s what Siblings do; they leave the house when they’re grown up. It doesn’t make sense to my doggish way of thinking, but it’s not my job to know these things. My job is to stay focused so I can guard my humans and give them lots of cuddles and sloppy kisses.

I still have to stop chewing. My new family had some things to learn, too. The water bowl they first put outside for me was plastic. They didn’t know I LOVE plastic. After lapping up water from that bowl, I grabbed it with my mouth and ran out to the grass, romping all around the yard. I ripped and tore and chewed and I had so much fun. When my family saw white pieces of ragged edged plastic strewn all over, their voices boomed!

I had prepared myself for another miserable ride to the white building. But I was surprised to find my bed still in Brother’s room and me tucked in each night. They must know my intentions are good! You know, being a dog isn’t easy. It’s a HUGE responsibility trying to keep my special humans safe!

After I got to know my family’s’ funny ways, I really wanted them to be my forever family because it’s the first time in my life that my heart didn’t hurt. As I’ve matured into my handsomeness, I’m not as tempted when I saunter by cloth or plastic, and besides, my family buys me really cool bones that I can’t destroy! I can also sit, stay, shake paw, and perform my fancy rollovers and crawls. These tricks come in handy when I want to melt their hearts. I’ve learned a lot since they adopted me a long time ago. I am here to stay! And they love my cool amber eyes. They tell others, “It’s like he sees into our souls.” I think my soulful eyes have kept them focused on me – the dog who loves them as much as I love peanut butter, and that’s a lot! And what makes me happier than peanut butter is that Mom, Dad, Sister, and Brother gave me the chance I longed for…to be a part of a family forever.

My family got these shots of me, and boy, were they sneaky!

Thanks for reading my story. I hope it warmed your heart.

Sending sloppy kisses, Copper 💗

It’s about sharing the Love…

Candy hearts that say Be Mine
Red roses bestowing forever
Fancy dinners for two in love

A special night to remember

But what about the lonely –
The broken hearts and souls?
What about the hopeless
Where life has taken its toll?

On this day where hearts abound
Give love where you find sorrow
Let compassion be your guide
to fashion a better tomorrow

Lauren Scott © (revised & reposted)
Photo from Google

Wherever you may be emotionally on this Valentine’s Day,
know you are loved and virtual hugs are sent your way.

💗💗💗

Amazing Matilda – Life lessons for all ages!

Dear Friends,

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Author, Bette A. Stevens. From lovely poetry to delightful children’s literature to a poignant coming-of-age tale, she has a method of writing that draws the reader in as though present in that very moment. The imagery Bette paints through her words is vivid and because of her breathtaking haiku, I will visit Maine someday! Recently, I read her children’s book: Amazing Matilda – A Monarch’s Tale, and let me tell you, we are never too old to read a story written for youth. There is more to this enchanting children’s book that will entice and benefit any adult. I will share my 5-star review in a few minutes. But first, let me introduce you to Bette:

Inspired by nature and human nature, award-winning author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture. Stevens’s books include The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!; Amazing Matilda, Children’s Picture Book (Ages 4-11) 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award and Gittle List; Pure Trash (MG/YA/Adult) Short Story; Dog Bone Soup (MG/YA/Adult) Coming of age Novel (2017 KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017); and My Maine, Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection) 2019.

Bette’s books:

Children’s Books

  • THE TANGRAM ZOO and WORD PUZZLES TOO! was first published in 1997 by Windswept House Publishing, Mt. Desert, ME; a second edition was self-published by the author in 2012.
  • AMAZING MATILDA, Stevens’s second children’s book, self-published in 2012 won a 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (Honorable Mention for Excellence in Children’s Literature – Ages 6 and older category) and also placed #9 on The 2013 Gittle List for Self-published Children’s Picture Books.

Fiction General (Middle-grade–Adult)

  • PURE TRASH, a short story of a boy growing up in rural New England in a family whose poverty and alcoholism mark him as a target for bullying by young and old alike. This short story is a prequel to Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP(KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017).
  • DOG BONE SOUP is not only the title of Bette A. Stevens’s debut novel; it ranks high among the paltry meals that the book’s protagonist, Shawn Daniels, wants to forget. Plodding through mounting snow and battling howling winds, Shawn is ready to leave it all behind—living in poverty, Dad’s drinking, life in foster care, the divorce, the bullies…. Travel with Shawn Daniels through the guts and the glories of life. DOG BONE SOUPa compelling coming-of-age saga.

Poetry

  • MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons   Stevens released her first poetry collection June 2019. MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons (A Poetry & Photography Collection) takes readers on a journey through Maine and the four seasons she knows and loves. To round off the collection, the author includes symbols and interesting facts about The Pine Tree State.
  • Stevens is currently (2021) working on a second poetry collection. 

My 5-star review:

This is a beautifully illustrated children’s book about a sweet little caterpillar named Matilda. She embarks on her transformation to a lovely Monarch butterfly but focuses on one big wish hoping it will come true. During her journey, she finds encouragement from three new adorable animal friends. And they gladly share their wisdom which conveys a deeper message: to persevere, be patient, and never give up – fundamental lessons for all ages. Stevens also illustrated this delightful book, which adds an impressive layer to her talent and skill as an author. But reading about Matilda’s metamorphosis isn’t only for the youth; this wonderful and educational story will also be enjoyed by those who have been reading for decades and decades. I highly recommend Amazing Matilda, A Monarch’s Tale for all ages!

Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator —“A writer inspired by nature and human nature”

Thank you for stopping by and I encourage you to visit Bette’s blog and allow yourself to sink into her evocative writing. Perhaps you have young children or grandchildren who would enjoy reading Matilda’s tale. If not, as I mentioned above, Matilda’s charming little story offers big lessons even for adults.

~ Have a wonderful day, Lauren 💗

The Kiss

Those bedroom eyes…
It’s in the gaze
before the leaning
a little heavy breathing
mesmerizing to the core
sweet, slow motion

an electric pull
tingles stirring
toes curling
body heat rising
in warm embrace
hands roaming
head spinning
global tilting

Magically unforgettable
Blissfully memorable
Sinfully intoxicating
Simply delicious…
when lips unite!

Lauren Scott (c)
Header: http://clipart-library.com
An oldie for some February fun 🥰
HAVE A GREAT DAY!
💗💗💗


Winter’s Gift

fireplace-edited

The colors mesmerize
They dance across your face

Flames conduct a jazz recital
My heartbeat meets their pace


Your eyes gaze at me
With a hunger that feeds
You touch with your thoughts
Fulfilling all needs


Wrap me in your warmth
With soul, body, and mind
Touch my lips so gently
To taste the sweet, sweet wine


Lauren Scott (c) An old poem revised 💓