the rivers of my memory

This is part three. Please read watching the river go by (part one) and angry wasps & juicy plums (part two).

Am I sure this is right?

Presumptuous man, Frank, always has been. Of course I'm sure.
Marie pulled her hair back off her shoulders and swatted away another mosquito. Man alive, it's hot for this time of night. All I wanted was to tell him about my plans. She shifted back on the swing and closed her eyes, slowly pumping the swing. Certain that Frank was sneaking a peek at her, sitting there the way God made her, she kept her eyes closed and willed her muscles to go quiet.

"And so, Aunt Marie, we've talked about it at length, and we think that Rolling Fields is the right choice for you now. You'll be more independent there, you'll have more interaction, friends, even!" Marie was silent, looking away. Her grand-niece Serena strode into the room, monkeying with her Walkman. Oh that's not a Walkman, that's an iPod. Sheesh, I know that.

Truly curious as the fourteen-year-old plopped down next to her on the loveseat, Marie asked, "What are you listening to, Serena?" The girl did not look up until Marie tapped her arm and said it again. "Serena, whatcha listening to?" Serena smiled and started to answer, "It's--"

"Aunt Marie? I'm talking you here! This is important." Marie continued to turn away from her niece as Serena continued, "It's The Killers." Her eyes flashed under long magenta bangs. "Really, The Killers?" Marie asked, without a hint of judgment. "Yeah, they're prolly my favorite right now, they're great." Serena leaned closer and stage-whispered, "Hey, do you want to hear? This is my favorite song of theirs, it's called Somebody Told Me."

"Sure," said Marie, accepting the earbuds; loud synthesizers and guitars flooded her ears and she looked directly at Serena, mouth slightly open, head nodding in time. I like this, it reminds me of something. Yeah, that keyboard sound. "I like it," she proclaimed as Serena grinned at her. "Maybe you could make me a CD of their music sometime. I'd like to listen more."

"Sure." Serena abruptly stood and stomped into the kitchen. "Mom, can I buy some new songs off of iTunes?" Her mother ignored the question and said again, "Aunt Marie? Can we please discuss this?" These kids sure have it easier than we did, they just push a button and their music is right there, in their ears. Imagine what that would have been like.

Frank and Marie were out on his porch, a Sunday night in 1971 like clockwork for the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, hoping to catch John Hartford on the small black and white television on full volume in the den, window open wide so they could hear but still feel the breeze off the river. Marie sat and rocked until she heard it. John Hartford's banjo.

His version is so much better than Glen Campbell's, so much realer, so much less produced, ah but good for John Hartford with all those royalties keeping him afloat for so long. Marie's eyes were still closed, waiting for the vocal. So he could spend his time playing real music and steam-boating down rivers like this one. She gazed out over the Ohio as the voice lilted out to the porch:
"It's knowing that your door is always open and your path is free to walk/that makes me tend to leave my sleeping bag rolled up and stashed behind your couch/And it's knowing I'm not shackled by forgotten words and bonds and the ink stains that have dried upon some line/That keeps you in the back roads by the rivers of my memory, that keeps you ever gentle on my mind..."
Keeping me in the back roads of your memory? Knowing the door is always open and you can walk up my path? Marie startled at the lyrics of a song she must have heard a thousand times before. She sat up, blinked her eyes open, pushed away the memory, fervently looked around. Where was Frank? Leaning forward to peer through the den window, she glimpsed his backside shuffling into the kitchen. She pulled her robe a bit closer, hugged herself against a sudden chill.

Forever gentle on my mind? What did Frank just say to me?

My Indie Ink writing challenge prompt this week was from Alison at Pretty Girls Don't Eat: "These kids have it easier than I did."

I challenged Jules at Michon Michon: "Wet leaves, black beans, gasping for air." Read her response here.


  1. Oh no, please let Frank be okay!

  2. I'm intrigued. AND I WANT MORE. The Killers, eh? That's what the kids these days are listening to? :) Well done. I love Frank and Marie, and it was nice hearing Marie's side this time. xx

  3. Oh, this just gets better and better. I lik Marie, she sounds just like I wanted her to. I love her ignoring the bossy niece in favor of the musically inclined Serena.

  4. aw, shucks. these people are officially inside my head demanding to be let out!

  5. did you know... I have that song on my iPhone?

    love the shift to Marie,... and I'm getting goosebumps here waiting to see where this goes...

  6. I so totally do! But it's the Eric Bachmann cover. You can hear it here: http://www.tinymixtapes.com/chocolate-grinder/listen-crooked-fingers-gentle-my-mind-john-hartford-cover

    One of my fave versions of a fantastic song.

  7. wowweeee. never heard of him, that sounds very nice.
    did you look just below here to see john hartford signing it under a giant DISCO sign??
    love. love. love.

  8. I love John Hartford. Dude could play the hell out of the fiddle, too. Coincidentally enough, you can write the hell out of a story. These are simply wonderful.

  9. thank you, sir. john hartford is/was so special.
    the most specialest in my book.


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