Our World Holds Infinite Stories: Breakthrough for the week of 8/6/18

I am southeast of Tucumcari, New Mexico. There’s a sign for a cemetery, the town whose dead it contains is not anywhere in sight. I turn west onto a rutted dirt road, drive perhaps four miles, stop, park and climb out of the car. (I am in the blissful universe of a Road Trip, during which every action is fascinating, every shift in perspective worthy of note.)
I go through a rusted gate and past rows of tidy modern gravestones. The names are all Anglo. In New Mexico. I come around the far wet side of the little cemetery and find two concrete slabs set into the ground. A woman’s name has been scratched into the surface of the southern one. She was born in 1845 and died 5 March 1911. Her first name was Martha.
There are eleven names scratched into a larger slab to the left of Martha’s grave.

George A.
Mary Alice

Elizabeth J.
Alex Noah
A. Emma

Choose a name or names. Begin here: I know this name…  or I don’t know this name. Write for as long as it takes you to tell the solid beginning of a story, a poem, a play, a screenplay. Send us what emerges and I’ll publish your words.

Here from Lynette Sheppard – this may make you challenge your shrink, if you have one…

She fidgeted on the couch and glanced back and forth to the room’s corners.
“Go ahead, Helen,” I urged her.
“OK, well you know how I told you that nothing ever works out for me. It’s not just that I have
trouble making a decision, I mean I do but it’s always felt like the deck was stacked against me.”
She reached for a Kleenex and began to shred it into tiny pieces which she stacked into a scented
I nodded.
“I mean I told you about the time I planted the broccoli seeds and they grew into these long red,
stringy stalks. I showed them to my mother-in-law and she said that it was rhubarb. I didn’t know
whether to make a pie or a jam or tarts and I waited so long they all went to seed. You see, if the
seeds had been broccoli like they were supposed to be, I’d have known what to do with them. At
least, I think I would.”
Reach, shred, stack.
“Um hmm,” I said in my velvety therapeutic tone –  while mentally making my Whole Foods list.
“So I’ve been trying to make those lists you suggested, the pros and cons of a decision that
needs to be made.”
“How is that going?” I heard myself say as I thought “parmesan cheese, that butternut squash
ravioli, sprouted grain bread, Alter Eco chocolate bars, Beringer Knight’s Valley cabernet,
dinosaur kale, non-GMO corn chips.”
“Well, it was really hard at first. The list I made looked pretty equal in terms of pluses and
“Oh, there’s a surprise,” I thought to myself as I glanced at the clock hoping for release.
Reach, shred, stack.
“But then I weighted them in terms of importance just like you said. And I did it. I decided!”
“And?” I said in my caramel macchiato voice.
“It felt really wonderful,” she fixed me with a bright gaze.
“A breakthrough, then,”
“Yes, oh yes. It’s just that now I have a new decision that’s bothering me. Should I just bury him
somewhere deserted? Or push his car off a cliff? Or put him in a dumpster?”
Reach, shred, stack.

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