22 February, 2022

Tuesday Tales - A Matter of Time

I saw this sign on the gate outside of a house around the corner from us last week:


Basically, this house is under quarantine.

Their isolation sign is down now, but as we walked to the market this morning Brett and I counted three new signs on a different - higher traffic - street. We've ridden that street several times in the last few days and not noticed anything. I guess when you're whizzing by at pace with traffic, it's easy to miss.

Vietnam has taken a strong stance in containing Covid-19, including closing her borders, strict lockdowns in specific areas, and contact tracing. It wasn't until Delta came around that the disease began to get a toe-hold in this country so I believe the regulations taken have been effective.

But like many places, we are trying to re-open. Tourists are coming back slowly, and businesses that closed due to the pandemic are being called to reopen. Where I live is a tourist town, so logistically, many of the places that closed can't reopen until tourism is back up, but regular businesses can reopen. It's a good thing!

As the world begins to reopen and reconnect, I have come to believe that it's only a matter of time before I get Covid. I'm fully vaccinated - in fact the population of Vietnam is over 90% vaccinated now - and I do believe in the vaccine, in terms of the statistics showing that being vaccinated reduces the severity of symptoms when we all, inevitably, catch this disease.

It's only a matter of time. Until then, I wear my mask, I wash my hands a lot, and I try to keep my distance from others when I'm out and about. What else can I do? What are you doing?

18 February, 2022

Fiction Friday - The Tree

Mrs. Joshua Leonard looked at the small tree in puzzlement. The tree looked back, though she didn't notice. Her husband explained, "Now that our family is growing, I wanted to buy you a gift that will grow with us." The little lime tree pushed itself taller. Toni Leonard put her hands on her still-flat abdomen, and looked up at him with a smile.

"That is so sweet, Josh." He knew how she liked to use limes in cooking and in drinks. The small potted tree looked lovely in their sunny dining room, and relished the sun pouring in.

Six years later, with two small boys running around, the tree was almost as tall as the doorway between kitchen and dining room. Toni had named it "Lenore" and considered the tree her feminine counterpart in a house full of maleness. 

Lenore guarded J.J. and Leo's growth, marked on the door frame in her shadow. She laughed to watch them do silly baby things, helped with their hide-and-seek games, and feared for herself as one by one each tiny child learned to pull themselves up to standing by gripping the edge of her pot. Bitsy, their young calico cat, kept Lenore company, napping on the pebbles that topped the soil in the pot, and caressing Lenore by rubbing her scent on the trunk.

Lenore showed off in holiday decor suited to each season, and played with the boys' toys when they hid them in her branches. Lenore was a part of the family.

"Toni, I've got news!" Josh exclaimed as he burst into the house one evening. He tousled each boy's head as he hurried to find Toni in the kitchen. Lenore listened at the door.

"Good news?" Toni asked as he kissed the back of her neck in greeting.

"I think so, but I want your opinion first." The boys were building an extensive railway system, out of hearing, but Lenore was eager to hear everything. "They've offered me a promotion... if I'm willing to take over the Tempe office."

"Tempe!" Tempe, Arizona was a far cry from their Kansas home. 

"What do you think? Warmer climate. And we all enjoyed our trip to the southwest last summer." Lenore had missed the family those two weeks that they traveled. Usually they weren't gone so long. The neighbor who came in to give her water and clean the cat box paid her no attention. If not for Bitsy, Lenore might have died of loneliness. The whole family loved the trip? Would Lenore like it? Josh was watching Toni for reaction. "Should I say yes?" They continued discussing it up until dinner time, when they told J.J. and Leo, selling it as a big adventure. Lenore wondered whether she'd be going on this adventure, too.

The next day, when Toni came in to water Lenore, she explained everything to the young tree. "I hope you'll like Arizona, Lenore." Whew, Lenore waved slightly in relief that she was to go with her family. Toni's thoughts poured out. "I bet you will. It's warmer there, and you - you should be kept warm! I'm surprised you've done so well here!" Bitsy curled around Toni's ankles. "You too, Bitsy. We'll be just fine." But was she saying that to herself or to Lenore?

In Tempe, Lenore began to sag. The trip had been long and stressful for her and every cell of her being was drained. Bitsy still came to keep her company in the new house, and seemed to understand Lenore was unwell, but the humans didn't listen to Bitsy's plaintive cries on behalf of Lenore. 

Try as she might, Lenore produced less fruit and the few limes were smaller than before. Josh began moving her to different places in the house, trying to find the perfect mix of sunlight and airflow. They tried more and less water. Finally one day, Toni had discovered the answer. She moved the tree out onto the patio.

"I did my research, Josh. Or at least, the guy at the nursery did. We have to be sure to bring her inside at night for a while, and after she's doing better we can plant her outside! It will work!" A weak and tired Lenore hoped that Toni was right.

When the time came to replant Lenore in the earth out back of the house, Lenore was already feeling better. She was eager to reach her roots down deep into the warm soil. Toni was careful to place stakes around her to protect the fragile trunk from her boys' tearing around the yard, kicking balls into every corner of the yard. Lenore thrived. She grew - roots deep, branches high and wide.

The following summer, the stakes came down. Her trunk was strong enough to accept a soccer ball kicked into it; her fruit was good; foliage was thick. Bitsy, always an indoor cat, mewled out the window looking at the friend she could no longer be with. Meanwhile, Alf, their new rescue dog, began enjoying her shade in his own way.

The family changed over the years, but Lenore remained, a constant reminder to Toni of the promise of growth through adversity.


Forgive any technical errors in growing a tree. I'm not a botanist.
Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

15 February, 2022

Just a Quick Jaunt

I'm going to say something that may sound incredibly exotic, but really, really isn't:

Last week we flew to Hanoi.

Not exotic. Not for fun. Not exciting.

We had to do some paperwork stuff at the embassy in preparation for our new visa. As soon as we were told we needed to do this, we set up the next available appointment and got tickets. We flew up one morning, the appointment was the next day, and we flew home the following day. Quick little trip.

To be honest, we did think we'd be able to have a little fun on that extra day up there but it was SO COLD! And rainy. Especially the first day there. Cold as in 14°C (I'll let you google Fahrenheit). Cold as in, jeans, long sleeves, sweatshirts. Cold as in "Hello, front desk, the heat isn't working in our room," leading to a room change after we'd been in the room a few hours hoping it would heat up.

Driving in from the airport at 8:00a.m. Blech.

We left our room only for meals on that first day, and walked through back streets to find a little convenience store for snacks for our room. I need my snacks, especially if all we'll be doing is staying in the room watching movies.

A very wet park that we cut through.

Very tasty Thai hot-pot near our hotel.

Fortunately, the day of our meeting was a few degrees warmer and only drizzly off and on. According to my phone we walked about 10 kilometers that day. First finding the place for our appointment, then a meal, and looking for "that big bookstore we passed on the way in" - which we never found - and of course walking for food and the actual meeting in the afternoon.

The park we'd found nearby had a small lake to walk or bike around. It was more fun on a nice day!

Paperwork successfully processed, we flew home to a sunshine-y, warm day... and a flat tire. No worries. At least we were in the sun waiting for the repair guy.

He got to us just 15 minutes after we called!

So, that's my exotic (not), exciting (not), cold (very) trip to Hanoi. We decided that it might be a nice place to visit when it's 40+ (C) at home in the summer.

12 February, 2022

Fiction Friday - Triselle

Time was condensing. Triselle could feel it. They had warned her it would be like this. 

After being taken by the Company into the Twenty Years future, she had insisted on returning. There were rules of course, and she had to stay longer in confinement to have the New Regime brainwashed out of her... which it basically was. She had been retrained for fitting into her own time and after proving herself before the jury of her peers, Triselle was permitted to return to her time. 

But her Time-trainer had been talking to the tribunal as the jury left the room, and Juror number 6 - Triselle's lucky number - had passed close by and warned her, in a whisper, "Time will condense near the end." Triselle had no time to respond as the column of jurors filed out, but she caught the eyes of the next two jurors, who both nodded. Were they confirming what Juror 6 had said, or nodding for their own reason? Triselle would never know, but now that time was condensing, she believed they were confirming the assertion.

She had asked for two years grace in her own time line. It was exorbitant, according to her Time-trainer, but she insisted. Triselle thought she understood how bargaining worked, and asked for more than she needed, hoping instead for a year or eighteen months.

She'd asked too much, and was granted only two months. Not nearly long enough to set up her son for success in college and wrap up her life in her time. Of course she couldn't say anything about her impending departure or she'd be pulled immediately. All she could do was relish each hug and bite back her words when she wanted to argue with her teenage son. He'd be going through a lot soon enough.

Now that time was condensing, she had less time each day to do anything. That was the trick. One hour became 50 minutes almost unnoticed, but when three hours passed in the span of a load of laundry - which ran on local time - she knew it was way too fast. She'd be gone sooner than she thought. 

Instead of resetting her watch to the clock, she began keeping it status quo for comparison. 

When her son returned from school an hour - by her watch - after he'd left in the morning, she splurged on his favorite foods for dinner. She said no goodbyes, but had taken the time to put her papers in order and talked with her sister about custody in case "the worst" should happen. It was as much as she could do in the two months allotted her.

In the morning, Triselle was dead. There was no returning to Twenty Years. She'd known that she returned to a death sentence, and returned nonetheless. Her sister arrived that afternoon as Triselle had requested, but had been surprised to find her sister dead already.

Two months. She'd bargained her life for the small difference that it made. 
And she'd never know if the difference mattered.


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.