Angela Grout, Author    

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Creative Writings

Effective Words Affect Me

Posted by angela.grout@comcast.net on October 31, 2018 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (1)

When I pick up a pen, I often pause to consider if a story is worth writing. I make this decision by how the inspiration and the influences that surround the idea of the story affects me. If the story affects me to the point that I must sit and write, I set a timer, and do it.

I seldom pause when writing with a pen in hand, therefore the scribbles are most likely only legible to me. I once tried to learn shorthand so that I could write faster, but the dashes and slashes and symbols were too forieng to understand.

The cool thing about handwritten rough drafts is that I can abbreviate, use private symbols or even write the word "ELAB" when I want to elaborate more in the typed version of the story. Typing the rough draft is easy, editing is not so easy. When typing the words I slow down seeing the edtis that need to be made such as punctuation, verb tense, and spacing.

My type A personality doesn't allow me to h and editing over to just anyone. My trusted sources provide me with what I need, yet I am still responsible to make the final edits, something I want to let go of a little. Every page I type, I can get sidetracked wihtthe  aesthetics of the layour. But truth is I just want the storiues to be as pleasing as the visual words on the page.

The reality is the effective words on the pages in some of my stroies may not bring peave when the cover closes, but they will certainly affect the reader.

In my journals and my everyday life, my writins are often reflective. In the stories I write, I have many moments where I reflecgt on the what ifs, whys and the what would I have done in that circumsatance. I suppose that is the way effective writings work. An effective story, has words that provide an effective way to affect someone's thoughts. They certainly have affected me or I wouldn't have picked up the pen.


(Submitted to Write Angles Conference 2018 )

A Train of Thoughts

Posted by angela.grout@comcast.net on February 20, 2017 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The train passes inthe middle of the night to share the visions of the days we would like to forget. My days are accounted for even those I forget because the Lord keeps watch over them as he proteccts and guides. 

One day I locked my keys in my van, it was a simple act of forgetfulness, yet the day I left the post office on April 15, 1992 is a day I can never forget. That man at the light gave me a terrible fright. I thought of the vunerability so many women face. I drove safely home not knowing the fate of another young girl that looked like me that night.

She not only died, but her mystery remains a terrifying thought of who would do such a thing. The why, the who, the what ifs, flood so many. She was so beautiful, so young. It was so voilent, so public. Her life left a mark that no one can erase. The how she got there question simply began to justify there was a trace of someone, but who? And the why...is the question that's been in everyone's face.

Ignoring the rumors and finding the facts is simly something the officers faced and still today, the case remains unsolved. Cold. Doesn't anyone have a guess?

Wanting peace for the family, the town. Needing apiece for the case, I simply shed ink to a page to allow some sort of grace. AN answer could unfold for some, but not for all. The metaphors might just find their rightful place.

The truth I know is that Jesus was real. He is real. His story was shared so all might hear that when something terrible is near, Mother Mary can hear.

With a gift of a prayer, a spirit can share. Spirits do soar and often board a train in the middle of the night.

He Remembers, She Remembers- The story of Us

Posted by angela.grout@comcast.net on Comments comments (0)

 

“Anyone want to go to the theater tonight?” Angela asked to the guys eating at the lunch table with her.

“I will” was spoken from the far end of the table.

Angela glanced down and saw Gary with his hand up. She smiled. Sean stood up next to Angela as Gary walked closer and said, “This is my Wingman Gary.”

Angela reached out her hand for the introduction and instantly goosebumps rose on more than just her arms.

Hellos were exchanged and Angela offered her phone number to Gary. Opening his wallet, he pulled out a folded white piece of paper and scribbled Angela’s name and phone number down.

“I’ll call you around 5.” He said.

At 5:00, he called and Angela gave him directions to her house. Informing her parents that she would be attending the play with Gary, she awaited him to arrive. Not knowing what kind of car he drove, she watched a Monte Carlo drive slowly down the street, then speed away. She laughed to herself as she remembered the childhood game she played with her friends called MASH.

MASH was a game where you listed the names of four boys you wanted to marry, 4 cars, and 4 different number of children. The letters M, A, S, H was at the top of the page and each represented if you would live in a Mansion, House, Apartment, or Shack. The object of the game was to pick a number and cross out the list. So it you picked the number 3, every third word you would cross out until you only had one left in each category.

Angela always seemed to get the guy with the Monte Carlo, even when the other categories changed. As the Monte Carlo sped away, she saw that childhood game not be a truth teller.

In the Monte Carlo, was Gary. He slowly pulled down the street searching for number 26, and when he saw the house, he recognized it. Panicked and drove away. About two miles up the street was a plaza with a telephone booth. He dropped a quarter into the payphone and pushed seven numbers.

“Hey, Tim. It’s me Gary. You are never going to believe this.” He said into the receiver.

“No, it’s not about hockey. It’s about a job we did two summers ago when we worked for Chemlawn. Do you remember that job we did on Arbor Lane? Remember we had to price out a job to fertilizer the brown house with the flag pole.”

Tim remembered it well. They were winding the chemical hose back into the truck when a Cadillac stopped and tooted its horn at them. Gary turned to face a big guy in a business suit. He introduced himself as Mr. Shuman and said, “Hey guys, you think you can give me an estimate for my lawn while you are on the street?”

Gary was merely working a summer job and didn’t have authority to give estimates so he asked Tim. Tim agreed and Mr. Shuman pointed to the brown house with the American Flag waving in the summer breeze.

“We will head over now.” Tim said. As Tim was writing up an estimate, a brown hair girl walked out of the house and began to load some bags into her blue SUV. Gary couldn’t take her eyes off her. Elbowing Tim, Gary said, “That is the kind of girl I want to marry.” Tim smirked and said, “Here, go talk to her and bring her this estimate.” He handed Gary the form and a business card.

Gary walked up the driveway startling the girl in the pin striped jean dress. “Excuse me.” he said.

“Yes.” Gary’s heart fluttered when she looked at him.

“Hi, Mr. Shuman asked us to drop off an estimate.” He held the paper out to her.

“Uh, okay, he is inside.” The girl said.

“Oh, okay, I can bring it to the door. Uh, you look nice. Are you going to work?” Gary asked.

The girl smiled and said, “Thank you. And Yes.”

Gary’s nerves took over as he said, “Well have a nice day.”

“You too.” She said as she got into her truck and drove away.

When Gary got back to the chemical truck, Tim said, “So did you get her number?”

Gary shook his head with embarrassment.

“Well what is her name?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t get that far in a conversation.”

Tim called him so derogatory names and let him know he lost his shot with that girl.

 

Leaning into the phone booth, Gary whispered into the phone “Tim, I’m about to go out with that girl tonight?’

“No way, how did you score that?” Tim replied.

“I didn’t know it was her, she asked me out and well I just drove to pick her up, and freaked out.”

Tim laughed and said, “Things happen for a reason. Have fun.”

Gary headed back to Arbor Lane as he balanced his excitement and his nerves. Ringing the doorbell, he wished he dressed up more, but Angela has said it was a casual play. They were headed to StageWest, a local theater in West Springfield. Her brother had created the scenery for the play and she wanted to support him. She didn’t even know what the play was called.

That didn’t matter to Gary, he just wanted to know more about the girl at the end of the lunch table, who was also in his criminal Justice class. He had exchanged looks with her half a dozen times and was thankful for the opportunity to be going out with her tonight.

Angela opened the door. Behind her was Mr. Shuman. Gary instantly recognized him. Angela introduced him, “Dad, this is Gary, Gary, this is my father.” Mr. Shuman reached his hand out and said, “Nice to meet you Brad.”

Angela instantly corrected him, “Dad his name is Gary.” Mr. Shuman said, “He looks like a Brad to me, I’m calling him Bard.”

Gary nodded and said, “Works for me.”

As Angela walked to Gary’s car, she noticed it was a Monte Carlo. She smiled as Gary opened the door for her.

At the theater, Gary had no idea what he was in store for. Angela only had told him she was going to support her brother’s engineering project. On the way to the theater, she told him how her Aunt had been involved with the theater and got her brother PJ a summer job building sets. She picked up her tickets at the will call window. The play was called SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Their tickets were for the second row center stage, middle seats.

Angela led the way down the stairs to the second row. It was filled except for the two empty seats in the middle. Gary realized he would have to say excuse me a zillion times to get to them but what he didn’t know was that everyone in that row was Angela’s family. It wasn’t only Angela supporting her brother for that evening’s performance, but as they moved their way to their seat, Angela introduced him to everyone.

“Everyone this is Gary, Gary this is my Grandmother, my aunt Carol, My aunt Claire, My mother, my Aunt Louise, and well, Gary began to block out the names as he was overwhelmed that this date was so chaperoned.

At the end of the play, Gary asked Angela if she would like to get a bite to eat. They headed a mile down the street to Papa Gino’s where Gary ordered 2 cheese slices and 2 sodas. They sat in the third booth in the window and the conversation flowed as if they had always known each other.

Angela listened to him talk of his love of hockey and she noticed how soulful his eyes were. There was a sparkle which illuminated his beautiful brown eyes. She began to daydream about reaching to hold his hand but she feared seeming to be too forward.

Gary asked her questions about what it was like to teach dance, and was fascinated to know she had taught at the studio down the street from him. They shared stories of Angelo’s Fruit Market and attending catholic school. Angela knew a lot about travel hockey, sharing her brothers played and she had been the sister on the bus for many years.

They discussed how each of them came to attend Western New England College, and where they worked on campus.

Gary had a work study program as part of a hockey scholarship for the school. Angela worked for the Dean as an Ambassador for the school and held a 12 hour job in the schools event planning office.

The night lasted only two more hours, but a lifetime was shared. Gary drove her home, walked her to the door and asked if she would like to go out again. Angela said smiled and said yes. Gary walked away beaming inside, and not seeing the disappointment in Angela’s face that he hadn’t even tried to kiss her goodnight.

“What a gentleman.” Thought Angela, but secretly she wanted to know what those lips tasted like. The next few days many hours of phone conversations were kept vigil through the nights. Gary finally made plans for another date. A double date with Sean and his girlfriend. A hockey game.

Sean drove and the four went to the Hartford Whalers game. Sean’s date made the night memorable as she lit a cigarette in the arena and almost got them tossed out. Not for smoking but for starting a fist fight with the guy who ratted her out.

Gary and Angela rolled their eyes together and bonded over a ridiculous outburst.

At the end of the evening, Gary again walked Angela to the door and left without a kiss. The next day, his teammates asked him about this new girl he was seeing. He told them he didn’t know what was going on. He said, “I think she just wants to be friends.”

Sean asked, “Why do you think that? Have you kissed her?”

Gary shrugged his shoulders and said, “I haven’t had a chance.”

The next day, he went over Angela’s and they studied together, then watched an episode of Seinfeld. At eleven she walked him to the door and he headed to his car feeling like a failure for not having tried to kiss her goodnight. “You are an idiot” he said to himself.

As he inserted his key into his car door to unlock it, he was startled to hear Angela’s voice. “Gary, Gary, wait.” She walked towards him with her pulse racing. “I, I just wanted to say, I had a great time tonight.”

Gary said, “Me too.” Her mind raced at why he wasn’t taking this opportunity to hold her hand or do anything, so she took a leap of faith and leaned in to kiss him.

He kissed her back, and the rest became the reality of today….what he remembers and she remembers.

The first date, the first kiss, the first and only of many adventures they continue to have together…..again and again.

Marriage is a dance, someone has to take the lead. Many thanks to Tim, and Brad for pushing me to be aggressive or Gary would have walked away without ever really giving it a try.

 

Dear Baby, Get Out! The first two chapters!

Posted by angela.grout@comcast.net on Comments comments (0)

 

I am waiting to give birth. Nothing is happening. This is as exciting as watching paint dry. I am bored and frustrated. I have been trying to keep as busy as possible. I have washed all the sheets on all four beds in the house, cleaned the bathrooms, dusted the furniture, swept the porch, and even used Lysol wipes to clean the siding on the porch!

The baby’s room is completely setup not only with the furniture and decorations, but all the clothes have been washed, folded, and put away in drawers labeling the contents. Yes, I labeled the drawers in case I get a bout of amnesia during delivery and forget where I put everything.

The changing table in the baby’s room as well as the mini changing station I created in the downstairs living room only needs a baby now. All the medicines are prepared to be used in case of emergency. I have removed all the plastic packaging so that while holding a fussy baby I won’t have to waste any time trying to peel off that dam wrapping. Every diaper package, every box of wipes, and even the diaper crème tubes are prepped and ready for action. It just made sense to make sure I can grab anything with one hand at any given moment.

My rocking chair is ready. I have stocked the table to the right with a bottle of water, a stack of burp cloths, a glow in the dark clock, a journal with a pen to record all the feedings, and a basket of books to read. Of course the books are in alphabetical order with a few adjustments to sizing so that they would fit in the eight by twelve inch rectangular basket that I received as a shower gift.

As I glance at that table, I check to make sure the 25watt bulb I installed works with the pull chain, it does. Maybe I should put a spare light bulb near it, just in case it burns out during a midnight feeding.

I notice the cordless phone, I quickly check to see if it is on silent. It is. The baby monitor is running with the cordless monitor in my bed room at the moment and the stationary monitor in the kitchen. The kitchen monitor is plugged in but not on. I did test that yesterday when my six year old stood in the crib and put on a show while I watched from the kitchen. It works.

I sit in the rocker, rock back and forth examining the room. What else needs to be done?

The extra changing pads are within my arm’s reach, as well as a stack of new sheets just in case there is an explosion in the crib in the middle of the night. The mobile is ready for use, all the stuffed animals are out of the crib, as well as the pillows so I am sure the baby won’t roll onto them and suffocate. The bumper has been secured around the crib. I had heard a rumor they want to ban bumpers so babies can’t suffocate in them, but without them their little legs could get stuck in the bars. I am proud of the mesh bumper I found. It is breathable and protects the slots of the crib from wandering little feet.

The bassinet is setup in the master bedroom next to my side of the bed along with additional burp cloths, and a pacifier. I installed a wedge so the baby can lie on her side and not roll into the side of the bassinette and suffocate. My girlfriends say it will work.

I readjust the two triangular pillows of the wedge, but because I don’t know how wide the baby is just yet, I had to guess and I linked the first set of three Velcro straps together. Thank goodness the hard side of the Velcro is on the bottom because that could scratch the baby’s skin. I make a mental note to keep an eye on that.

I find myself wandering the house looking for something to do. Nothing.

I have pre-addressed all the envelopes for the birth announcement. I cannot stuff them with the photo yet as this baby hasn’t debuted and not only do I not know what she looks like, but I don’t have any stats on her, not even her name! I suppose I could take some time to evaluate her name but I am too exhausted for that right now. I secretly hope she comes out with a name tag on. I have spent many nights doodling, reading name books and discussing names with my husband, but nothing has stuck just yet.

Let see, my iPod is updated, my work folders are organized, I have shopped until I can’t find anything else to buy. Seriously!

The car has been Jiffy Lubed, washed and an appointment for new brakes has been made for tomorrow. If I am in labor tomorrow, my father in law will take the car in, so that backup plan is ready.

The refrigerator and pantry are stocked. The grocery list is hanging blank on the outside of the pantry door. I almost wrote Cheerios but remembered I have two boxes in the basement and by the time the baby is eating them, I probably can get to a store to buy more. I hope.

Opening the freezer, I can easily see ten of the fifteen meals I have prepared. They are neatly stacked up so I can see the labels I put on them. Meat Lasagna, Vegetable Lasagna, Chicken Crescent

Squares, Baked Ziti, Chicken and Rice Casserole,

Meatballs, Broccoli Chicken Casserole, Chili,

Chicken Soup, Sausage with Peppers, and Stuffed Shells. Each label has the date and cooking information on them. The other five meals are in the basement refrigerator with some Omaha steaks and some twice baked potatoes for another easy planned meal.

I have cleaned out one cabinet in the kitchen to be dedicated to the baby’s items. The cabinet is above the counter that collects our daily mail and junk. I quickly put the mail in a basket and reorganize the counter neatly.

Opening the cabinet I check to make sure no one has messed that up. The bottles and nipples are stacked neatly, next to a few sippy cups that I received as a shower gift. I move the box of rice cereal to the top shelf, as I wont be needing that for probably another three to six months. I really hope the baby can adjust to these Advent bottles, because I have a lot of them. I only have the slow flo nipples, so I sure hope the baby will adjust to it. If not, then I thank God that Amazon has one day shipping.

I reach into the drawer below the mail counter and take a pen out. I place the pen in the baby’s cabinet so that the breast pump labels can be written on. The labels are in a neat pile but after looking at them and realizing that a gust of wind could scatter them, I quickly get a small Tupperware container and put them inside. I count three boxes of breast milk storage bags. There are thirty in each so I hope that should be enough. Again, good thing Amazon will ship in one day.

All the baby essentials are ready. The high chair is assembled and has bibs draped on the backside, ready for use. I know I will have to rewash them since they will probably get dusty draped over the chair for the months that will pass before she can actually wear them. I may have to get more batteries from the basement soon for the swing as my six year old has been using in daily for her Bitty Baby.

The Exersaucer and the Giggle Garden

Activity Gym are lined up next to the couch, along with a basket of toys, rattles and animals that are safe for infants. My husband installed all the child gates in the stairwells, both up and downstairs, as well as around the fireplace. I also made him add bumpers to the corners of all the tables and insert outlet protectors all over the house. I wanted to switch out all our blinds so that the baby wouldn’t play with the cord and get hurt, but instead I cut them and installed curtain holders up high to wrap them in.

The car seats are installed in both cars, along with giant mirrors, sunshades and a basket of DVDs. The DVDs at this point are mainly for the six year old but I did stock a baby Einstein in there at least for musical purposes. Most of the Baby Einstein DVDs are in my bedroom where I assume she will watch when I shower.

I don’t know what else I can do to prepare. If only I could start pumping milk then I would be productive. My breasts are so huge that I probably could try but since the milk doesn’t come in until after she arrives, it’s useless. Oh, my breasts are going to be killing me then! I did stock my bathroom with washcloths to wet with warm water if I have trouble with letdown, but I tried that last time and it only worked some of the time. It’s difficult to breast feed when your breasts are like the Rock of Gibraltar.

Okay, so I can’t pump milk yet, and I really don’t know what else to do. The clock in the kitchen ticks loudly, reminding me of this extreme quietness. Tick Tick Tick…the calm before the storm. I am trying to enjoy this piece of quiet but it actually boring.

I have tried sex, spicy foods, bumpy car rides, long baths, bouncing on a birth ball, walking, and now I am trying relaxing. Ha-ha, me relax? I am trying.

Today is my due date. I really assumed that I would have had this baby before today. Three months ago I began labor and was put on bed rest. After the bed rest, things quieted down for about month, then the contractions started again. Every night I was getting contractions three-to-four minutes apart for about twenty minutes then they just stopped.

Finally three weeks ago, I lost my mucus plug. It definitely was my mucus plug. A glob of jello has never exited me before, the darn thing practically plunked into the toilet. I went to the doctors the next day and they agreed that was it. I was 2cm and Doc said labor could begin any day but they would rather me wait until my due date. Well that is today, so now what do I do. I realize that in a week or even in a day, I won’t even have time to take a pee or blink ever again, but for today that’s all I am doing…peeing and blinking, and blinking and peeing. (Well and trying to breath, walk, sit and move comfortably also).

I have two theories at the moment; either this baby is really strong willed or maybe I really am not pregnant and the doctors lied to me and I have a giant tumor and I’m going to die very soon.

Either way, I am a sitting duck. Sitting on my egg, or waiting to get shot out of the water. The doctor will induce labor in eight days if it doesn’t happen before. They cannot evict this baby any earlier as the law says you have to be at least a week over due.

I do hope this baby will leave without being forced. Maybe she is scared and I need to reassure her. I rub my belly and tell her about our beautiful home but then I realize that apparently I have made her current home too comfortable. I tap my belly and say, “Come out and meet me.” She kicks me back. Well she hears me.

Uh-oh, now she really moving. She’s is so active in there but I truly don’t know how she room to move, as I can’t breathe. How am I going to convince her to get out? I was thinking I’d buy a pack of smokes and a bottle of Jim Bean and smoke her out…then it wouldn’t be so comfortable inside and she would want out. She would really appreciate the fresh air then, and maybe I could catch my breath too.

She is waiting for a big debut, but then again she has seemed rather shy for the past ten months. Every ultrasound we have had she has always turned her head away carefully so we couldn’t see her face. She better get over this stage fright, as she will be in the spotlight very soon. It is a shame we couldn’t see her face since the ultrasound machines are so clear now a days. We could have seen all her details. I think if I saw her features, then I would have a name for her at this point. Stubborn little girl.

Before I fall asleep, which I hope happens quickly as I am as comfortable as I am going to get; I talk to her with my thoughts. Yes I believe that she can hear my thoughts, which just goes to say how smart my daughter will be. She is constantly learning just by listening to my thoughts, but then again, I do hope she either tunes me out or doesn’t understand when I am fantazing or swearing!

‘Dear Baby, I love you. I pray you are healthy and I will accept when you arrive as the perfect time. Please be safe in your journey here.

Have pity on your poor mom as I am probably losing my mind, and it may get worse with two girls in the house. Life is going to be fun. I am sorry I don’t have your name picked out yet. I wish you could give me a clue. Let’s sleep well tonight. Maybe tomorrow you will come.”