Endings and new beginnings. A woman expects her glorious morning will turn to shit by nightfall. We dress this week’s mannequin form with a touch of darkness.

My story bite is inspired by several Edward Hopper paintings. Thanks for stopping by to read it.

What I’m Reading This Week

This week I pulled a Marie Kondo purge on my four websites and blogs. One was giving me no joy. I had updated the theme and look several times recently, trimmed a handful of posts that were no longer relevant, and still came away with no joy. So I merged the “evergreen” content from the blog with my original website, The Filmmaker Lifestyle. That site dates back to December of 2009. It now has over 60 interviews I conducted with professionals in filmmaking and storytelling. Most of the interviews date from 2009 to around 2017.

As I migrated the interviews, I found common threads among their work. They stressed collaboration, patience, persistence, vision. Becca Hurd was not afraid to address mental illness. Tom Magill promoted the healing of trauma and violence with Shakespearean-themed filmmaking among Irish prison inmates.

…an advocate for the people who do not have a voice…

I was struck by how many individuals emphasized voice in their interviews. Several video journalists, Lars Schwetje and Ruud Elmendorp, said they worked to give a voice to those who had none. Lars was a video journalist in the Iraq War, reporting from Baghdad. He said, “a journalist is an advocate for the people who do not have a voice in war zones.” Ruud has been reporting from Africa for years. “I listen to their stories, engage with them, learn from them, and then present their experiences to a world-wide audience.”

Pony Gayle produces a web series called OUTrageous, highlighting stories of the LGBTQ community. Her work now appears on Amazon Prime.

Tina Mabry is a writer and director whose film Mississippi Damned gives voice to the marginalized, those living in rural areas of that state.

One professional, Debbie Irwin, literally voices for others. As a voiceover artist, she works primarily in the medical field, where her voice, her particular sound, is described as “intelligent and elegant.”

You can find all the interviews on thefilmmakerlifestyle website.

A final note: voice is something all creatives strive for. Whether we look to voice someone else, or search for our own voice, it’s a lifelong – and worthy – effort.

What I’m Writing This Week

This week for my story bite I used several Edward Hopper paintings as a writing prompt. I selected three colorful pieces, and added a dark tone to the story. Please enjoy it. And you can find my books on Amazon.

Morning on Cape Cod
Evening on Cape Cod
Gloucester Beach

A Day on the Cape

Friday morning at the start of Labor Day weekend, Meg leaned against the accent table as she peered out the bay window of her beach cottage. Early morning sun flooded the house, the tawny grass, the nearby trees. Blue skies, not a cloud in sight. A good beach day, she thought. One last day to hang with her girl friends. Sit under the umbrella, drink cold beers, run sand through their fingers as they talk about how the summer was winding down. Groan about how their husbands would be joining them for the long weekend. Gripe about going back to the city. Back to the bullshit. The jobs. The noise. The traffic. 

Meg took her coffee out to the deck alongside the bay window. She wrapped her robe around her legs, sat squinting into the rising sun. Such color. Such brightness. How do you start a day with hope, knowing it will all be shit by nightfall?

Meg’s day was as glorious as the morning sun had promised. Sitting on the beach with the girls till early afternoon. Soaking up the last rays of summer. Doing a late lunch in town. Fried calms and more cold beer. Enough of a buzz to prepare for the evening. To endure the evening.

Meg hated her because she saw everything.

Fred brought pizza in when he arrived after seven. Pizza and even more cold beer. He brought the dog with him. The dog that Meg hated. A collie, golden, proud. A gentle dog. Meg hated her because she saw everything. Saw it all and said nothing. Stood looking, sniffing the air, gazing into Meg’s heart. Meg was convinced the dog saw how much she despised Fred. Saw the hatred that Fred himself seemed incapable of seeing. 

As the evening waned, shadows formed in the creases of the cottage wall. Fred sat on the step outside the kitchen door. Still dressed in dress slacks from work, a white tee shirt his only admission he was at the beach. Meg stood leaning against the house, tucking herself into a shadow, arms folded across her chest, staring down at the grass. There were no words between Meg and Fred.

Fred threw a tennis ball across the grass. The collie remained in place, staring across the yard.

Fred lit up a cigarette. He took a long drag, held the smoke, blew out a cloud the evening breeze wafted into Meg’s face. “I’m leaving you,” he said, not bothering to look up at her. “After Labor Day.”

Meg brushed away the smoke, lifted her gaze to look at the top of his head. Shook off the beer buzz. A thin smile formed across her face. A smile he did not see. The dog saw the smile. She walked over and brushed against Meg’s leg. She reached down to stroke its head. 

Meg said nothing in reply. Fred shrugged, stood and stepped into the cottage. As the sun set behind the cottage, she thought back to the morning, to the start of her day. Maybe, after all, hope is possible. Maybe it won’t all be shit by nightfall.