The Catalyst

A Writing Teacher Writes (plus some writing prompts and recipes)

The Weather August 5, 2010

Filed under: Vignettes,Writing Prompts + — Christopher P. DeLorenzo @ 12:48 am

In this prompt, I read the following excerpted phrases from the Weather Channel (on-line):

Cold air on the move

Barometric pressure rising

Winds at 25-35 mph

High tide, dangerous waves

Snow and ice on Lake Ontario

Heavy snow in Upper Michigan, possibly a foot or more, temperatures in the teens and 20’s.

Where is the rain heading?

Barometric pressure dropping

Humidity at 80%

Heavy showers and thunderstorms over Southeast Florida.

Showers lingering over the Southern Plains.

Temperatures in the 20’s across the entire Midwest region

A high pressure area in Kansas

The first heavy rainstorm in Northern California, reaching well over an inch in some areas.

Cloudy skies, cumulus clouds

Lightening and thunder

Sunny and hot



Everyone wrote in response. Here’s what I wrote:


She’s snowfall on a sloping lawn, a Cardinal bright red in all that whiteness. She’s the brick orange geranium and the tiny carrot pulled too early. She rises to the surface at the strangest times–in a conversation about dementia, in a compliment about sculpted eyebrows, in a rushing forward of ocean waves.

He claims her sometimes with pride, sometimes with shame, always with sadness. He claims her in the names of flowers–hollyhock, marigold, gardenia, violet–and he tries not to embellish: she did not wear cucumber lotion or jasmine oil; she did not teach him to love Cecil Breuner roses, but purple petunias planted around the mailbox, African violets near the living room windows. Everything she taught him was green and red and white. Purple. Lavender. Never pink or yellow. He learned about those on his own. Had to.

Because once early childhood was over, she became a stranger. CAT scans, competency tests, cook, house cleaner, mother, these became the former self. The mother who once was, now replaced by an imposter with neurofibrary tangles and cracked lips. Adult diapers. Swear words and houseplants pulled up by the roots. The entire contents of her closet thrown onto the floor of her bedroom. Mismatched shoes. Dirty hair all askew. The coiffed little lady vanished, and chaos took her place.

You know what’s coming, don’t you? Her long illness, the two years at the nursing home, how he sat in front of her hospital bed while she murmured in her sleep. All she did was sleep and all he did was cry.

You want to know that she’s dead, don’t you? To feel her cool, hard skin ironed smooth now by death; no more lines in that lovely forehead; no more pain or half closed eyes. Released. And he should be at peace now, more that fifteen years later: she’s dead. It is over.

But she surfaces, sometimes in terrible dreams: feces and urine and saggy breasts on a fragile frame. She’s powerful now in ways she hasn’t been since he was a very little boy. She cracks her way in as lightning, shutting off all electricity, making the house go dark and quiet. She goes right to his head in the very first sip of wine. She even snatches up his father, pulls her to his side three days after his death. Look at them there in the wedding photograph, hand-tinted, hanging over the bookcase. See how they’re laughing? See how happy and beautiful they are again? See how powerful she is?