Tag: Reticent

RETICENT: That’s Using Your Head By Peg Scarano

Word: Reticent
Word Count: 480

That’s Using Your Head
By Peg Scarano

For as long as I can remember, I have been an outgoing person. I love meeting people and talking to friends and associates – old and new. I believe this trait was an asset in my career of marketing, community services and fund development in the healthcare field. Let’s face it, you need to be able to communicate in order to market a service and/or attract people to your business and most of all, when you ask someone for money.

Tact is a characteristic that works well with being outgoing. My personal definition of tact means not putting your foot in your mouth – ever – for any reason. As far as work goes, my diplomacy worked very well most of the time. There were a few times my skills faltered, but I could usually talk myself out of any delicate fix I managed to create. If I couldn’t, I was surrounded by good people who covered my back with grace and ease.

My personal life, however, was a bit different. My guard was usually down at home; I was more relaxed; and when you’re with people you love, you kind of assume they will accept you as you are and understand what you say without judgment or consequences. This worked well for me until my children became adults and found significant others and these significant others had parents and relatives that I needed to communicate with while being sensitive to their needs and feelings. My children were suddenly concerned about certain phrases that flowed freely from my mouth and I found I was frequently reprimanded for speaking my mind first without necessarily connecting to my brain.

For the first time in my life I tried being reserved – I withdrew and when I spoke, I silently questioned and guarded each spoken word like a loyal sentry. Nothing passed my mouth without a thorough examination of its content and implications. It was extremely difficult for me to move from being assertive and confident to restrained and tight-lipped. I hated it, but it was a learning experience.

Eventually, I struck a happy medium. Let’s face it, I could not just flip a switch and turn off outgoing and turn on reticence. You are what you are and it is what it is. But I did learn that even after you retire and think you are free of all restraints and rules, you are not. You need to keep honing those communication and people skills because if you don’t, you will be judged and labeled an “old fart” who thinks she can say anything she wants to anyone around and get away with it. I’m not quite ready to be labeled an old fart so I guess I have to keep working – without a paycheck – but with the feeling of fulfillment that comes from using your head for something other than a footrest.

RETICENT: Reticent by Nature B.A. Sarvey

Word: Reticent
500 words
Reticent by Nature
B.A. Sarvey
Daylight’s allotted time is lengthening. This is good, because winter’s prolonged darkness encourages my reticence. Given the chance, I would become a hermit, seeing no one, speaking to no one. I am reluctant to leave the comfort of my home at any hour, but more-so once shadows creep out of the gloaming and huddle around my door. My friends chide me for being aloof.
Sitting in my strategically placed rocking chair, I capture the afternoon sun, soak in its heat and brilliance. Soon, I see the last vestiges of sunlight squeezed out of the clouds, as it slowly sinks behind the hill and is abruptly gone. Sunset’s fire bleeds into violet in a violent clash for supremacy. But the battle is short-lived, over almost before it is begun, and the weakened hues dull to flamingo and rose, then mauve and gray, until all succumbs to near-blackness.
I sit, contemplating the dusk from my own velvety darkness, searching for familiar shapes—which look nothing like their daytime selves—ordering my world, reassuring myself all is well. I do not lock my door against the night. What good is a bolt, against shadows and hobgoblins? Locks are for people. They rarely venture here.
The cat, my sole companion, watches with me, moon-eyes round and alert, aware of the most subtle movement. This evening, she tells me, not even a rabbit stirs. Our conversation revolves around food and feelings. A full stomach and a warm patch of sunshine are of great concern to a feline, but so is a bit of companionship, though she, like me, requires less of that.
I leave the light off, preferring dimness to bright incandescence. My cottage is not void of light. Tonight, the rising moon that illuminates the trees, turns the coat rack into a hunch-backed intruder, outlines the single teacup on the table. As it does many nights. Neither is my cottage void of sound. Darkness enhances the quiet, yet night itself hums. Vibrates with its own life. Temperature changes elicit creaks and groans from the house frame. Clocks tick, an upstairs faucet drips. Winter finds the winds haranguing us with an insistent whistle, low, like a boiling kettle. A barn owl hoots. Occasionally a palpable hush falls as snow insulates my world. In warmer weather, crickets chirp, breezes rustle through the cottonwoods.
Dusk marks another day of solitude. But do not mistake solitude for loneliness. For solitude is a choice. Being alone is something I seek. I guard my solitude like a jealous lover—wanting no one to intrude on this precious relationship. I am reticent by nature, alone by design. Reluctant to share myself or be part of anything outside my comfortable domain. How blessed I am, to have the choice of being alone or not. How fortunate to have been afforded so many opportunities; unaffected by reticence, I have seen and accomplished wondrous things. Sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied. Now, I bask in the light of remembrance, welcoming twilight and dawn in equal measure.

RETICENT: Would You Like Desert? By Sally Madison

Words: 491
Would You Like Desert?
By Sally Madison

The dinner was over and the young women were picking up the dishes to take to the kitchen of their student residence, when the door knocker sounded. “I’ll get it,” said Eloise, the house matron, as she proceeded to the door. “Oh, hello, Prescott, hello, Arnold, come in. We’re just finishing dinner. Would you like some desert?”

“Hello, Miss Eloise, looks like our timing is just right. Yes, we’d love desert.” The young men took off their great coats and top hats, and hung them on the coat rack. Entering the dining room, they greeted the young women, “Hello Millie, hello, Audrey.” Millie, clearing the dishes from the table, lifted her head with a jerk, surprised to hear men’s voices. Her body froze, but her hands shook, dropping a plate on the floor. “Whoa, Millie, we didn’t mean to startle you. Here, let me help you.” Arnold was bending to pick up the pieces from the floor.

Millie’s eyes focused on Prescott, as if she had seen a ghost, as she backed into the kitchen. Arnold continued to pick up the pieces and hand them to Audrey, who had watched and was shocked at Millie’s behavior. “What’s wrong with Millie?” inquired Arnold with a nod of his head toward the kitchen door.

“I’m not sure why Millie would have behaved, so rudely,” Audrey said, taking the pieces from Arnold. “I’ve noticed, she has been reticent lately. Maybe she’s not feeling well, but that doesn’t explain her behavior.”

In the kitchen, Millie was bent with her head over the waste basket, emptying her supper from her stomach. Audrey entered casually, but became alarmed, seeing Millie in such a position. “Millie, dear, what is wrong with you?” Audrey raced to her friend and put her arm across Millie’s back in support, just in time to feel Millie’s body collapse. Audrey guided her to one of the kitchen chairs.

“I’m fine,” Millie weakly protested to the coddling. “Take the cookies in, while I frost the cake.” Audrey, seeing Millie was a little better, postponed an additional explanation for the moment, and grabbed the plate of cookies, put on a smile, returned to the dinning room. Millie, cleaned herself up and began the process of frosting the cake.

Not hearing anything from the kitchen for some time, Audrey returned to check on Mille and to bring out the cake. When Audrey looked about the kitchen, she was shocked and horrified at the scene she beheld. There were cake crumbs and frosting all over the kitchen table top and legs, on the chair and on the floor. Millie was crying, crumpled in the corner, with cake crumbs and frosting over her face and clothes, the empty cake plate next to her. “Our dear God, what has happened to you, Millie?” Audrey whispered to her distraught friend as she bent to console her. Both girls sat on the floor and cried, one from shame, one from fear.

RETICENT: Of a Feather By Mike Cecconi

Word Count 491

Of a Feather
By Mike Cecconi

She was reticent to talk about it with her family or her friends but she knew she’d have to break it off with him. They’d met when he was working the bird desk at the biggest pet store in the area and she was looking for a present for her niece. He was just so passionate, he was just so knowledgeable, just so… nice. So kind. He listened, really listened.

She’d spent her teens and most of her twenties chasing after boys who played guitar and boys who thought they were men that also played guitar. Deep brooding “complicated” types that wore their emotional trauma, real or imagined, like sheriff badges and were happy to similarly deputize her into emotional trauma with their own cool indifference and acid condescension.

He didn’t try and sell her anything she didn’t need or cost her anything she couldn’t space, either in her nieces’ cockatiel or in the matters of their love. He was honest in what he needed and what he could provide back to her. That one would’ve gotten him a larger commission but it didn’t have the temperament to be the pet for a child. Renegotiating his student loans gave him anxiety attacks, he didn’t know how to fix a car and didn’t particularly want to. Always laid it out true.

She worked as a lobbyist for environmental groups in the state capital, however, and eventually her work was noted which lead to opportunities in Washington. Her skills translated and it had been her dream since college to get there. There would’ve been no such instant understanding of his skills in another town, though. He was great at what he did not because of some connection or a particular degree, rather through steady learning and slowly building local reputation.

No one anywhere else would know that he was deservedly called “The Bird-Man of Albany” and even fewer than that would care. He wasn’t old but still was too old to completely rebuild his life from scratch anywhere else and she knew it. Neither of them possessed the emotional fortitude for a long-distance relationship, something he initially denied but could only argue against with half-a-heart in it.

Some of us need to fly free of our cages, she told him, others are defined by their walls and neither approach in this life is right or wrong, we’re all slightly different breeds with very different needs. He understood that after a little while, even if he didn’t want to.

Nonetheless, he was gallant and romantic in his little bookish secret way. Once he realized there was no talking her out of it, he paused for a slow breath then spoke “Well, we had some good times for a little while there, didn’t we?” to which she agreed before he continued:

“No matter what, though, we’ll always have parrots.”

And he was right. No matter when and no matter what, they would always have parrots.

RETICENT: Shy Smiles By Sharon Collins

Word: Reticent
Word Count 500
Shy Smiles
By Sharon Collins

Sister is shy. So am I. It is difficult not to be shy when you look so different from the rest. I think about how different Sister looks from other wolves. In the deep pine-shadows of the forest, she must have shone like a ray of moonlight with her yellow-bright eyes. It is no wonder the She-Wolf kept her hidden. Being different is dangerous. I know this to be true, for I too know what it is to hide my smile, to walk with eyes cast down, to try to remain unnoticed.

I have finally come to understand just how different I do look, for I have seen myself in the still water puddled at the mouth of our cave. I have known always that my bones are too long. But staring back from the water’s surface was a stranger with green eyes far too large, and a pale face much too flat. And then there was the seaweed-tangle of her strange hair. “It is true,” I almost sobbed to Sister. “What the women used to whisper behind my back is true; I am ugly.” How their hushed words hurt. They claimed my ugliness was the result of a curse put on the Headman by Grandmother as she fell from Judgement into Justice. They said she cursed his seed, that he should have only ugly, useless girl-children from that day forth. They said his laughter roared as the echoes of Grandmother’s cries faded and he gave Mother the choice of her punishment. Offering the necklace of guilt and shame, he said she could take her turn on the cliff-edge for her part in Grandmother’s crime, or she could don the shattered shells and take her place in his bedroll, as his least wife, and become servant to his First and Second. Knowing she was already carrying me, babe of a man taller than most with fox-red hair and green eyes recently met at the Summer Gathering, she chose the Headman’s bedroll, the necklace, and endless obedience. He claimed his rights immediately and often, boasting that Mother’s quickly swelling belly held another handsome son to sit at his side. When I was born, a girl, useless and ugly, no one dared speak aloud of Grandmother’s curse, but everyone whispered of it. When I grew old enough to understand, I stoped smiling and learned to hide my hurt in plain sight.

Remembering makes me hungry so I call Sister and we sneak to the top of the dunes. The gulls lay their speckled eggs in sea-grass nests. Both gulls and their eggs are delicious. My mouth waters at the thought. Luckily Sister blends well with the white sand, and the gulls never notice her until it is too late. She snaps one by the neck, shakes it hard, sending feathers floating on the breeze. She does this again. We will eat well tonight. Swallowing the still-warm insides of an egg, I smile.