"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Dear Prudence" - Peek Into Ana's Secret World: ...a Taste of Chapter One

"Dear Prudence" - Peek Into Ana's Secret World: ...a Taste of Chapter One: "Chapter One –“Dear Prudence” Ana gingerly folded the last letter that she had written to Briar, and slid it into her backpack. She stopped..."

...a Taste of Chapter One

Chapter One –“Dear Prudence”

Ana gingerly folded the last letter that she had written to Briar, and slid it into her backpack. She stopped and observed the somber walls that looked almost inviting that morning. The soft light that falls from New England autumn leaves seemed to wrap everything around her in quiet saltwater fog. It was a new solitude for her - not forced, but gently recognizable from her childhood. She felt fresh.

The doctors and nurses deemed the environment therapeutic, and for the most part seemingly had good intentions; Still, Ana begged to differ with their perception. In quiet thought, she occasionally paralleled the atmosphere to painful, prolonged emotional death. She thought that there was no quality of life inside those walls, just masked sadness braided with muffled consciousness and mangled memoirs. And if I may speak collectively for those who I encountered, I know there was a common truth, regardless of sex, mental illness, addiction, socioeconomic status, race, or baggage; it was a place to recover. Some did, and some didn’t. They simply sought to float in peace away from their aching minds. That’s all.

But Ana had given up trying to find that space between sanity and madness where she knew solace lay dormant. So away from her typewriter she strolled with a drug-free confident strut as opposed to her typically dazed zombie shuffle, indigenous to the gray souls that drift in and out of the vacant stares of that institution. I beamed as she simply whistled and sauntered with a mission, adorned in a denim jacket that she found while searching her room for wiretaps and recording devices. I stuffed it behind her dresser amongst a colony of dust bunnies. And when she put it on, she felt a bulge in the right, front pocket, and pulled out a dime bag of marijuana that smelled like it had been there for at least a decade; both items lent themselves as instrumental accessories to her aesthetic adjustment. She pulled off the casual doctor facade, flawlessly. The only exception, she had no shoes … just slip on foam booties that she acquired when admitted. Her belongings were housed in some lock-and-key abyss, and her vain attempt to crack the code on the lock to the room labeled “personals” was futile. In retrospect, I am confident that the slippers worked to her advantage. They were far more effective than sneakers, having quelled her stroll down the many corridors and echoing florescent stairwells.

Mornings, she usually hid her head under the bleached blankets when the orange and pink light at dawn snuck in through the blinds to cast dusty stripes on the far, white wall. It made the cinder blocks and painted particle board cabinets appear much more interesting than that of the low evening lights, switched on at a quarter past five in the evening. They were housed between the daytime florescent fixtures that looked like inverted ice cube trays from the fifties. It was not unusual that she remained in that cocooned position far beyond her wake-up session with the shrink du jour. I suspect that when they checked on her for the morning dose of little blue and pink imagination slayers, they were not surprised to find that she appeared still to be hibernating.
Clever girl.

Nurse Kelsey waddled in smelling of bleach, mothballs, and halitosis at 7:30, 8:00, 9:00 to check for life. She flipped on the brassy reading light attached to Ana’s bed at 9:30 and pulled the covers away, exposing strategically placed pillows, sheets and blankets, stuffed into a robe and shaped into a fetal position. Ana was resourceful. She utilized her shower cap stuffed with a pillow, and used a paper plate dressed with a crayon-drawn face as a disguise for her head. There is no such thing as coincidence; to have even happened upon a paper plate in the trash was miraculous. The Rhode Island State Hospital, like every other psychiatric facility that Ana had ever graced, did not allow a patient to have anything in her vicinity that could pose as a threat to herself
or anyone else. I’m still not sure how paper plates’ piece into that category, but the used one that was somehow overlooked lent itself beautifully to Ana’s craft. Perfect.

There was yet another overseen flaw in the facility set up that fostered her escape; a fifteen minute gap in time where the cameras were not scrutinized by security. She tested it so that by the time that old Kelsey sweat her way to security to commence the search, she would be strolling through JFK Airport holding a one-way ticket to sunny Miami; Ana researched diligently.

I got such a charge out of it. She woke early one day and sat in camera view mimicking a Gypsy Rose Lee strip routine in her hospital gown, using her pillow as the peacock feathers. She proceeded to expose her bare ass to the camera, lifted her typewriter, and pretended that she was going to smash it through the window in preparation for a jump. During normal hours, security would have been in her room in 60 seconds flat, with a psychologist and an injection of some substance that would sink her into a semi-comatose state for a couple of hours; I saw it happen to many others; not during the shift change. She calculated that by the time everyone figured out that she, polite Ana was the patient caught on camera, disguised as a doctor that strolled out of the building, and they had finished blaming every graveyard shift sloth that should have been watching more carefully, she would be floating amidst the tropical fish. Her mission accomplished, and my mission commenced.

Ana hypothesized right; the night clerks were all lethargic, stuffing their fatigued faces with day-old donut holes and drinking stale coffee before the shift change at half-past six. I watched while she saw them in passing; they didn’t even notice her. As usual, there wasn’t a doctor to be found until at least 7:00 a.m.; they strolled in methodically, and whisked by her room toward their leisurely lounge session to scan the night clerk patient behavior report. Fingers clasped, furled brows, they’d sign off paperwork that allowed the nurses to administer the proper anti-psychotics, anticonvulsants, seratonin reuptake inhibitors, and/or sedatives to assist in dumbing us helpless drones.

Ana slipped out of the main entrance with nothing but her wallet, a credit card, an ATM card, her drivers license, a social security card, and a bundle of unsent letters to long lost friends and family, here and gone, wrapped in twine. Ana never had the heart to toss the letters in the event that she wanted to drop them in the mail at the last minute; everything rested at the bottom of her tattered, green backpack.

A few days earlier, she tore up her photographs and flushed them down the toilet; she wanted no extra heartstrings webbing her into this life. She stared into the green eyes of Jack, lying in the tall, May grass looking back at her from a Polaroid, and shook with sadness. And my heart sank when I watched her kiss the photo, his face warped by falling tears. “I’ll always love you.” She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and her hands shook as she tore his photo into small shreds. She dropped it into the toilet with pieces of her family, and pushed the knob. I watched a tear trace the freckles on her cheek. She took a deep breath and shuddered, opening her eyes to the toilet bowl refilling. And in her warbled reflection she watched a remnant of a flushed photo peek out of the hole and float like a leaf in the bowl. She reached in and grabbed it. It was a portion of Sherman’s face, her Chocolate Lab who she loved with all her heart. She held it, wiped it off, kissed it, and added it to the contents resting in the bottom of her backpack.

She later wrote a letter and contemplated leaving it behind at the hospital, but decided that it should simply rest at the bottom of her pack with the rest. She unfolded it and read it for one last time...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Dear Prudence" - Peek Into Ana's Secret World: The Tapestry...

"Dear Prudence" - Peek Into Ana's Secret World: The Tapestry...: "Few of us have ever actually seen her face. Very rarely do Seraphim ever reveal themselves as anything but remarkable beings of pure light, ..."

The Tapestry...

Few of us have ever actually seen her
face. Very rarely do Seraphim ever
reveal themselves as anything but
remarkable beings of pure light, but
the day that I was given the most
challenging case of my career as a
Guardian, I saw her.“Don’t be alarmed.” She
whispered, and spun around
on her office chair. She
kept her face hidden by her
long, shiny black hair and
a purple veil, resting four
of her eight delicate legs
on the desk between us. I
stared in awe of her soft
beauty, speechless. “I
chose you to take on this
case because of your bold
nature, Gabriel. Where is
it?”I swallowed. “Yes, I’m
sorry Mother Fate. I’m
just smitten with ….”
“… with my eight legs.”
She sighed the sound of
silk, falling onto warm
skin. “I have a lot of
weaving to do; two legs
aren’t enough ... you
know?” She pushed a large
file across the desk
toward me. “Ana will be
born on June 4, Earth year
1973, 2:03 am, under a
Gemini moon.”I took the file and began to
page through it, looking at
her history. “Let’s see …
her highlighted lives on the
front page are ‘shaman,
witch, movie star, queen,
and prostitute.’" I winked.
“She’s been around, huh?”
“For lack of a better
description Gabriel, yes,
she has been around. She is
a highly-evolved soul, but
this life will be
extraordinarily challenging
for her. She needs your
assistance; many other lives
depend upon her will to
live.”I took my spectacles from my
wing, slipped them on, and
paged through the first
twenty years of her life.
“That’s only the
beginning, Gabriel. The
really critical work will
begin in her 20’s. Keep
reading.” She adjusted her
veil, and flipped her velvet
hair away from her cheek.
“You’re a master puppeteer;
I’ve seen your work. I hand
selected you for the task.”I took a More 120 cigarette
from my wing while I read,
and poised it between my
teeth. She reached one of her
legs across the desk, with a
lit match. “Oh, thank you; I
didn’t even realize that I
took out a fag.” I was
uncomfortable. “Do you mind?”
She slowly shook her head,
handing me an ashtray with
another leg.
I closed the file. “What
Earth year is it, Mother
“1973.”“What date is it?”
June 2nd, Gabe. Sorry for the short notice,
but we had some complications with the tapestry.
You know the drill, right?”
I stood up and fluffed my wings, nervously.
“Yes, Mam.”
“Now, when you visit the Akashic Record
Library, ask the Cherub on duty for the bottle
labeled Ana Guida 6/4/73, then report to the
hospital labeled on the neck of the bottle. Any
questions, Gabriel?”
“No, madamn.”
“Good luck.” Her voice smiled, dissipated into
an orb of blue light, then vanished. I retrieved
the bottle and reported to the New Jersey
hospital, just in time for her grand entrance
onto Mother Earth. Harry Guida slept while Peg
screamed, pushed, cursed, and plead with the
And in the midst of all the commotion, I
slipped into the delivery room disguised in
scrubs, uncorked the bottle, and watched Ana’s
soul, light as springtime, nestle right into her
little solar plexus.
I sidled out, watching Peg’s softened face in
my peripheral stare into little Ana.
I smiled. “Welcome, My friend.”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Dear Prudence" - Peek Into Ana's Secret World: The Preface...

"Dear Prudence" - Peek Into Ana's Secret World: The Preface...: "“Dear Prudence” By Amanda Grieme All Rights Reserved© Preface – “Dear Prudence” “Hey! Hey! Over here … help!” Nathaniel ran barefoot t..."

The Preface...

“Dear Prudence”
By Amanda Grieme
All Rights Reserved©

Preface – “Dear Prudence”
“Hey! Hey! Over here … help!” Nathaniel ran barefoot toward a ranger’s truck on the edge of the beach, with Ana draped over his shoulder. His drawstring t-length trousers were stuck fast to one leg from her wet hair that smacked against his thigh.
“Flowers! Who in God’s name is th ...?”
“Don't ask questions! Call the EMT, the hospital or somebody! She almost drowned, but she is breathing.” He fell to his knees, and gingerly lay Ana down on the sand like a sleeping infant.
“Who in the hell is she?” Ranger Dale turned and spoke into his emergency response phone, dropped it, and ran over to where she was. “Nathaniel, you have no idea who this young woman is?”
“No … I saw her go for a swim, and then she didn’t come back up, so I ...”
Nathaniel was interrupted by a distant siren, followed by an ambulance. A swarm of EMT’s filed out of the van followed by two police cars and another ranger vehicle. The ambulance driver looked down at her body.
“I know her. She came into my store yesterday.” He shook his head. “C’mon, lets get her in there.”
Bert, the Highway One Liquors storeowner led the EMT in the methodical preparation of her ashen, limp body. They ripped off her clothing, immediately strapped oxygen to her face, and injected her arm with some intravenous solution, all while she was being rolled into the back of the emergency vehicle. The doors slammed, and the ambulance sped off in a cloud of sandy dust washed by the blue and red light, followed by Ranger Dale. The police immediately circled Nathaniel Flowers while he held his chest and watched her disappear.
“What happened Flowers?”
“Where are they taking her?” Nathaniel stared into the distance, speaking indirectly.
“Flowers! Who is the girl?” The policeman smacked his face to get his attention. Nathaniel finally looked at him.
“What … I mean I don’t know! I don’t know, man! I just found her!” He fell to the ground and started to cry. “Is she going to be okay …is she?”
“Alright Flowers, get a hold of yourself.”
“I did what I could. She was breathing, you know?”
“We know buddy,” he smirked. Now, how did you know the girl?” One policeman motioned for the other to turn on a recording device while he took notes.
“First, please don’t patronize me. Second, I didn’t know her. I mean, I never saw her before today! I was led to her by a crazy bird dropping cigarettes . . . I think.” He cringed. The policemen looked at each other and snickered. “Flowers, have you relapsed, or maybe you've been drinking salt water again?” They both laughed childishly.
Nathaniel got up, wiped his face, and brushed the sand from his brown skin. “Laugh all you want assholes, but that’s what really happened!”
“Okay, okay, for the record, what happened next?” The policeman hit record again, having conveniently switched it off for their wisecrack.
“I followed the trail of smokes to a driftwood log where I found a pack of Camels. So I kneeled down to get them, then looked up and saw her.”
“Saw who, Flowers?”
“I saw her,” he pointed in the direction of the road out of Bahiahonda. The girl in the green dress!”
“Where did you see her?” The policeman became impatient.
“She was on the beach, heading toward the water ... singing, swaying ... talking to herself.”
“What do you mean by ‘talking to herself?’” The policemen looked at one another suspiciously.
“You know, talking. Carrying on a conversation with herself.” The policeman with the recorder choked back a laugh like an uncomfortable school kid.
“What else Flowers ... anything else unusual about the girl? Was she alone?”
“Yes, except for a bottle of whiskey and a cigarette. I thought she was just having some fun. You know, getting drunk and going for a dip by herself.”
The policeman clicked off the recorder and started to laugh again. “Sounds like you and mystery girl would make a great pair: no sense, and even less sense.” They laughed and basked in what they, and only they felt was comic genius.
Nathaniel got up and pointed in their faces. “What kind of dicks are you, huh?”
Another ranger who had just pulled up, adjusted his hat and stepped into the ring. “Okay, okay what seems to be the problem gentlemen?”
“Tell these oinkers to do their job properly!” Flowers paced and spit on the ground.
“You want to go to jail you waste-of-life?” The policeman flexed his chest muscles, and wiped a bead of sweat that slid down a swollen blue forehead vein, then dripped from his furled brow.
The other policeman chimed in, “It would be a waste of our time. Either his uncle would pay his bail, or he would plead insanity and get sent to a loony bin for a week.”
Nathaniel shook his head and stared at the ground. “Grandfather, not uncle.”
“Alright, alright. Guys, could I please have a moment with Mr. Flowers ... alone?” Ranger Tom was a kind, portly gentleman who checked the young lady the prior evening.
“Gladly.” One tipped his hat to Ranger Tom, then turned toward the car, but that wasn’t enough for the other policeman. He turned his doughy smirk to Nathaniel, pointed a finger in his face like a drill sergeant and spewed, “you haven’t seen the last of me Flowers. This is a National Park, and by law you are not permitted to reside here.
I don’t care how much money your uncle hands over. He’s just ashamed of you, loser.”
“It’s grandfather you degenerate … not uncle!”
“Whatever.” He turned toward the car, looked back at the ranger and Nathaniel to make sure they weren’t looking, adjusted himself and yanked his industrial-strength polyester pants away from an elastic testicle pinch in his swampy cotton briefs.
Ranger Tom sort of waddled over to Nathaniel who was sitting in the dusty sand on the edge of the beach, rubbing his weary eyes. He kneeled down on one knee like he was proposing, and his belly rested on his leg. He lay his hand on Nathaniel’s shoulder.
“Look Flowers, I know that you had nothing to do with the woman drowning. Just wipe that worry from your mind. I checked her in yesterday, and was curious when she said she would be checking-out the next day.”
Flowers rested his tan face on his folded arm, and his scowl slowly faded.
Ranger Tom groaned and sat down next to Nathaniel. “I’m gettin’ too old for this crap.” He chuckled. “I’m not as limber as I used to be Flowers.” Flower’s mouth broke into a grin.
“What are you, like ... 40 now?”
Tom corrected him. “Forty-two pal ... and I ain’t getting any younger, I’ll tell you what!” He let out a sigh, and passed some gas. Flowers indiscriminately buried his face into his arm.
Tom shook his head. “I thought it strange that a young, pretty woman would be all alone with just a backpack. And to stay for just one night in a great, big cabin all by her lonesome? Now that’s just plain strange, you know?” He turned to Flowers. “Weird, right? She reeked of booze to boot. I mean ... stunk!” Nathaniel raised his head from his arm and stared out at the sandy road surrounded by green Bahiahonda brush and splashes of fuschia bougainvillea.
“And Flowers, you know what the craziest thing was?” No response. “Do you want to know what the craziest ....”
“What was it Tom?” Nathaniel asked abruptly, trying to shake away the image of her blue face.
“She handed me a rolled up $100 dollar bill as a tip for being so helpful! I mean, what in sam hell was that all about, right?”
“Where are you going with this, Tom?” Nathaniel seemed to expect some half-wit story about how he thinks she’s an alien, or an escape convict ... or both. Nathaniel thought that perhaps Ranger Tom had a habit of creating drama, just for the sake of something to talk about. But he always listened. After all, Tom was one of the only people who acknowledged Nathaniel’s existence, didn’t judge his past, or question his present. He had a soft spot in his jaded heart for Tom; the guy was sweet.
“Are you ready for this one?” He perked up. This morning around 11 AM when the campers were doing their checkout, 11:30 rolled by . . . then noon . . . then 12:30, and no Ana Guida!”
“That’s her name?” Nathaniel’s face softened, and he pictured her seaweed-like body dancing toward the water. “Ana.”
Tom’s round face flushed with excitement. “Yeah! But this happens, you know? Some folks just forget sometimes, or sleep in past checkout, or just don’t feel like leavin’!” Tom chuckled at himself. “But I started to get anxious ‘cause there was an impatient French-Canadian couple waiting for their cabin and they were not happy, you know?”
Nathaniel interjected in an attempt at progressing the story. “So . . . what next?”
“Well, I drove up to her cabin. No car. I figured she’d gone and simply forgotten to check out, you know? But I found it real strange-like that I didn’t see that bright yellow Suzuki Samurai pass by my gate . . . the one she drove in yesterday.” Ranger Tom adjusted himself, “Anyhow, I went up to the cabin. Locked. I used the master key, went in. It looked like there hadn’t been a soul there, and then I found it.”
“Found what?”
“Next to doctor scrubs and a denim jacket, there was this creepy note written to a Nanny character; a suicide note, or something. About the same time, I heard the call over the CB from Ranger Dale.”
“And there she was.” Nathaniel replayed the scene in his mind. It flickered behind green-blue eyes.
Tom pulled the crinkled letter from his sweaty shirt pocket, looked left and right, and held the letter out to Nate. “See?” Nate took the letter gently and opened it.

Friday, November 19, 2010