A Growl in the Dead of the Night

Years ago my husband was out of town and I was alone when I was awakened by a warning growl in the dead of the night. Our six-month-old Dalmatian pup had never growled before. He hadn’t even barked. That event sparked the inspiration for this vignette. I hope you enjoy it. The growling woke her. Sandy groggily shushed her dog, Max. Her usually obedient dog’s throat rumbled with a warning. Alarmed she rose on her elbows and whispered, “What is it, Max?”  The weatherman had predicted a thunderstorm for tonight. Was distant thunder what had upset Max? She listened. An eerie silence filled the air. There was no purr of the furnace, no hum of the refrigerator, no whoosh of tires on the asphalt street below her second-floor bedroom window. Max, a black and white Dalmatian, lay on the rug along her side of the bed, his head up, an ear cocked. He listened better than she did. She reached down and petted his hindquarters. He’s heard an outdoor cat. Max hated cats. “Go back to sleep, Max,” she whispered and sank back onto the bed.  Max’s tags on his collar jangled as he leaped to his feet. He walked […]

The Yellow Rose of Valentine’s Day

Roses are red for Valentine’s Day, aren’t they? In this vignette, the yellow rose isn’t a flower and it isn’t romantic. But it is a wish for those who don’t feel that they are enough on Valentine’s or any day of the year. The Yellow Rose of Valentine’s Day Couples crowded the restaurant decorated with red hearts and red roses and red bows. They only had eyes for one another until she appeared. The silver-haired woman dressed in a vibrant yellow off-the-shoulder dress glided between tables. The hostess sat her at the center table. Alone. She sat with perfect posture, crossed her ankles, and smiled and chatted with the hostess. The waiter brought her a bottle of champagne. She saluted with her glass and drained it in a single draught, then laughed a full-voiced, from the belly laugh, loud enough that the entire restaurant of couples stopped talking and stared. She laughed again and set her glass down. The waiter refilled it, then left. She placed her hands on the table and a generous and genuine smile lit her face. She swayed as if to music, but it wasn’t the sappy romantic ballad that filled the restaurant. The other customers […]

The Sorrow and Joy of the Last Page

The writer and the reader experience the sorrow and joy of the last page. Not in exactly the same way, but pretty close. A good book drives you to that last page then, if you’re like me you sit there, hugging the book and feeling lost. This feeling comes from what psychologist and other scientists call deep reading. Most of us make pictures in our minds. We experience sorrow and joy. Science has shown that our emotional reactions are close to the same emotions as the characters we read about. The deeper, the more intense the reading–the more we exercise our brain. We become more empathetic. There are people who are not natural readers. Shocking, I know. They don’t experience reading in the same way. But, they can improve their reading skills and enjoyment. Parents reading to children is a critical step in helping poor readers learn to enjoy reading more. It’s important to read because reading increases the white matter in our brain. (A brief discussion of the science can be found here.) Reading nonfiction doesn’t do quite the same thing. In studies, reading nonfiction lights different areas of the brain than reading fiction does. Not better areas, different. Our emotions aren’t […]