Literary Elopements

June is the month of weddings. We think of brides in white, bridesmaids, lovely cakes, flowers, and tearful moms. But through circumstance, or a horror of the above, some famous couples in literature choose to slip away for clandestine nuptials.
The most famous of these must be those crazy kids, Romeo and Juliet. Actually, their secret wedding has charm, but almost at once, events spin out of control. Family hatreds, murder, fake death, and real suicide do the newlyweds in. Truly, “…never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” Unbridled passion, the tragic flaw that Shakespeare bestows on his tragic characters, is a direct route to misery.
A real life literary couple fared better after they eloped. The Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning defied her father and, with the aid of the semi-invalid Elizabeth’s nurse, slipped away from London’s Wimpole Street and made it to Italy. Her father disinherited her, and her brothers never spoke to her again. By all reports, however, theirs continued as a loving, supportive marriage until her death. Of course, they had much in common, including their work, literary friends, and an adoring public. In spite of Elizabeth’s frailty, she also gave birth to a son, nicknamed Pen. Theirs was a love match in every sense.
And finally, let’s consider one of my favorite poems, The Eve of St.Agnes by John Keats. On a freezing winter night of drunken revelry, Porphyro sneaks into the castle to his beloved Madeline’s room. He convinces the maiden (and she doesn’t need much convincing) to seize the moment and run away with him, “For o’er the southern moors I have a home for thee.”
It was February. Who can blame her?
Elopement, even of soul mates, has a romantic, reckless courage about it. And the wedding tends to be simple.

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Karen Wills

Serita’s Shelf Life

By Ann Minnett

Here’s an excerpt of my forthcoming novel, Serita’s Shelf Life:

Normally I wouldn’t take the Vespa out on North Central Expressway. Vespa at nightWouldn’t push to its top speed of fifty-nine mph, challenging the drunks and lovers who careen the highways at 2:00 a.m. Normally. Tonight they pass on my left and right, swaying my scooter in their vortexes.

Two sets of headlights approach from behind like my Vespa stands still. One flashes its brights, and the one in my lane signals, changing lanes at the last second. They pass simultaneously, eighteen wheelers racing for the Oklahoma border and a payday. The force of their passing wobbles my lovely Portofino Green Vespa, and my armpits sweat painfully the way my taste buds hurt when I look at pineapple upside down cake. For that second, whatever it is that haunts me poofs, and I breathe deeply with the joy of survival. Then it’s there again. A void.

I’ll take side streets through nice neighborhoods toward home. I’ll smell the lush plants of late summer while they take a breather from the scalding daytime heat.

“Speed and highways and death-by-scooter aren’t what I’m looking for.” The wind sucks the words away. Tears moisten both cheeks, and it all feels right. I tend to cry now–the intensity of emotion, both joy and despair, flies at me hard these days without the meds. Calm greets me only in passing from high to low and back again.

And I don’t sleep. I don’t need to. But I already said that.

Hillcrest Street is deserted at this hour, so Vespa and I cruise, knowing sleep won’t come before work, in what? Four hours? The purring of my powerful scooter soothes me like a baby nodding in her car seat, but I’m not sleepy. If anything, I’m hyper-alert. A rustle of shrubbery or the slinking of a cat across a darkened porch distracts me.

The marvel of no longer taking poison elates me. I’m laughing out loud as the Vespa glides to a stop at Royal Lane where broad oaks canopy two of four lanes on this southbound side. It’s for that sole reason I don’t run the red light on the desolate street. The spreading trees, a pungent fragrance, are so lovely.

A car pulls up beside me.

“Oh, you really should roll down your window to smell this,” I tell the surprised driver. I pantomime rolling down an old fashioned car window. I dazzle a smile.

He runs the red light. Me, too.

Traffic lights must be on timers this late at night because the light turns red as we approach Northaven Road. Another car waits to cross at the intersection. The driver beside me looks over expectantly, cautiously as if I, middle-aged Amazon woman, might carjack him.
I throw my head back and laugh as hard as I’ve laughed in years.
His window is down when we meet up again at Walnut Hill Lane. Country music plays soft and dreamy–a woman’s high voice.

“See?” I say. “Isn’t that better?”

The man nods his five o’clock shadow. “Where are you going at this godforsaken hour?” says his deep voice. Very deep. Radio announcer deep.

“I’m in search of… je ne sait quoi, Hon.” The sky toward Presbyterian Hospital blocks a hint of sunrise. I adjust my leather and Portofino Green helmet which has blown back during my ride. “You?”

Our light turns green. We idle.

He says, “I work the night shift at Jepson. The warehouse. A transformer blew north of Plano, and we went dark. They let us off early, so I guess I’m going home.” His straight right arm rests at the top of the steering wheel, bending at the wrist. I love the manly pose, the voice that rivals my scooter’s thrum.

An SUV stops at the cross street as our light turns yellow.

And I know what I want.

“I’m Serita.”

“John,” he says. Receding hairline dips into view.

I clasp his left hand. “John, why don’t I make you breakfast?”

“Okay,” he says thoughtfully.

We wait in silence for the green light. Then he follows at a discrete distance, maybe thinking about turning away.

Dallas, Courtesy Huffington Post

Dallas, Courtesy Huffington Post

Mentorship and Me – a guest post from Rebecca Miller

Today, we welcome our neighbor Rebecca Miller, on discovering the joys of mentorship from both sides. This summer, Rebecca is leading writing camps for incoming 7th-10th graders, in Bigfork.  

Mentorship and Me

Rebeccasmallby Rebecca Miller

I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. Whether I was filling Big Chief notebooks with illustrated stories or weaving a romantic saga in a flowered journal, I was a kid who wrote. I had a difficult childhood and stories (read or written) were always one of the ways that I was able to escape into another world.

In college, I met incredible mentors who encouraged me in my writing. I was awfully earnest—and awfully cliché—but they still believed in me. Recently, I dug out some of my old creative writing folders from that time and cringed a little at some of my early stories. First of all, I hadn’t lived much life to speak of. This naturally left my characters and stories one-dimensional. Secondly, I was uncomfortable with the grey areas of life and literature. I felt that everything needed to be tied up neatly with a bow. So, naturally every story seemed to move toward some sort of Christian conversion experience, even though real life isn’t usually so tidy. My teachers didn’t discourage my faith, but they gently pointed out the need for more nuance.

I remember spending hours in my teachers’ offices, being fed by their love of literature and writing. I remember the freedom of someone believing in me and calling forth something from me. By the end of my college experience, I was a much better writer than when I started. I became much more open to the way targeted, specific language could dig our toes down deep into the dirt of earth and even—from a faith perspective—help us experience a God who came near. I have continued to grow in this knowledge and in a knowledge of a grace and power that is bigger than me. No longer do I feel I must hover over the real story of life and control it, patch it up, slap thick coats of make-up on it. Beauty is found in the ordinary.

Mentors changed my life. They moved me from the raw clay of potentiality to a writer who is continually growing, learning more authenticity, learning craft instead of cliché.

This spring, I got a great opportunity to pass on the gifts that have been given to me. I write and edit now, and a mother approached me to ask if I would tutor her daughter in creative writing. Teaching about writing and literature was something I had done a little of in the past, so I was very excited to begin this new journey with an enthusiastic young student. As I spend time with her, my goal is to gently nudge her craft forward through encouraging her strengths and helping her find ways to improve. It is a joy to nurture and encourage the mind of a young artist. It is life-giving for both student and teacher.

This summer I will also be offering three creative writing “camps” for youth going into 7th-10th grades. They are classes in Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction. Details can be found on my website and sign-ups need to be in place two weeks prior to each class. In these classes, my goal is to create a hunger for good literature, skills to help young people grow as writers, and lots of encouragement. The journey of creativity can be a lonely one and creative minds need all the encouragement they can get. Classes will be held at Bethany Lutheran Church in Bigfork.

I so am grateful for mentors. I hope I can give to other young writers some portion of all that has been given to me.

Rebecca Florence Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and writing tutor. She lives in the Flathead Valley with her husband and two kids. You can find her on her website: rebeccaflorencemiller.wordpress.com

Thanks, Rebecca!

Leslie, for the MT WW crew. 

Best Laid (Wedding) Plans

One thing I’ve observed from my own and others’ experiences is that the wedding doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how the marriage goes. Also, wedding plans, as well as marriages, may go awry.
I never believed that people actually are left at the altar, but it happened to my friend Sandra (not her real name). She was a reasonably independent rancher’s daughter who fell in love. She and her fiancé set the date. She picked out a white dress and veil. Flowers were ordered. The rehearsal dinner took place. Next morning she dressed and went to the church. The music started, and she and her father walked up the aisle. When she reached the altar, the groom wasn’t waiting for her any longer. Nor could he still be found in the building. Family mercifully led Sandra away. She went home and slept for three weeks straight while her sisters returned wedding presents.
When Sandra woke up, she was truly independent and the most intense feminist I’ve ever known, which is saying quite a bit. She still possessed common sense and a great sense of humor which saved her from bitterness. Six months later, the bolter called to apologize and she forgave him.
Sandra later married a wise career Air Force man who didn’t mind her living life on terms that meant going to college and keeping her own off base apartment. Their marriage took. They have grown children and a healthy relationship. One has to wonder what her life might have been if her first wedding had gone as planned.

THE DAUGHTER BRIDE

A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.
— Author Unknown

Tara

Tara – age three

Two of the many things I have learned from having a daughter who is now a bride —

1.  Time really does go by too, too fast.

2.  There really does exist a love that is so pure, so strong, and so infinite.

Thanks for stopping by,

Deborah

My daughter, the bride

My daughter, the bride

Tara and Eric

Tara and Eric on their wedding day