Disneyland’s Silent Gift

I just returned from a trip with the family to Disneyland. It was a good trip (besides the crazy size of the crowds this year), and it made me think of this post I wrote a few years ago. Yes, I did take a few morning walks around. Enjoy!

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

ResortThere is this time when you are staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotel when you can have it all to yourself.

It’s quiet, with the faint hint of music playing in the hotel lobbies in the background. I first discovered it when I offered to grab my wife one early morning a coffee at the shop in the hotel. But the moment I exited the elevator (and the haunting overture from The Jungle Book was playing in the speakers), that I realized I had discovered something unique.

It was still dark outside and I was alone.

I walked along the pool, passed the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant (with its fireplace still ablaze). There is a smell to Disneyland that I have yet to put my finger on, but the blossoms around the hotel and the restaurant added to its intoxication.

It was so peaceful that I almost felt a tinge of…

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Cassandra on the Island: Xeranthemums

The following is the last section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here. Thank you for reading my novel.

xeranthemums

On the Street

“To continue with my drama,” Alisha sighed. “There I was soaking wet and humiliated with Vicki staring down at me. The client is furious and all I can think is…”

“Hush,” Cassandra whispered. It was not a typical whisper. It was the type of whisper used in churches and on sacred events.

Alisha didn’t take the hint; well, not right at first. “What? Did I already tell you this story?”

Cassandra pulled her car over to the side of the road. It was not as easy a maneuver as you might think for Cassandra. She had not driven in years and she was not the best driver to begin with. To add to the difficulty, this was her first time driving the vehicle. As per her instructions to the dealer, it was waiting for her in the parking lot of the airport. Just like any normal person’s car. That simple and minor point was a big deal for Cassandra. Normalcy was a goal to work for.

Cassandra turned in her seat to look at Alisha.

“What is it?” Alisha asked.

“Hush,” Cassandra said again. She slowly placed her finger to her lips to emphasize the point. “My house is on this street.”

This news excited Alisha and her attention was quickly turned to the street in front of her and the series of cottages. “Which one is it? Is that it, there?” For some reason, she thought for sure there was a sign in front of it or some kind of other man-made symbol to emphasize, ‘Here is the spot. This spot with the X.’

“Hush,” Cassandra whispered again.

“I barely said anything,” Alisha was annoyed. “You’re shushing me again? All I said was which was is it and is it there or something like that and I get scolded like a child.”

“Please, please,” Cassandra said with a brief smile. This was the first, the first in a series of events and dreams that had kept her alive while in Amsterdam. “Just give me this moment in silence. This one moment.”

Alisha nodded.

Cassandra replied with her own nod of thanks and returned her car to the driving lane…and slowly… and quietly they drove down the road to Cassandra’s house.

Alisha rolled down her window and the seagulls could be heard over the ocean. They were close to it and the waves could even be heard from time to time (if they were large enough). For Cassandra, it was hard to concentrate on the road. Continue reading

Everything comes to an end. The novel Cassandra on the Island ends this Friday!

This Friday I will be sharing the final section of my novel Cassandra on the Island.

For those that have been following this journey, I want to say thank you. I am proud of the book and it is a wonderful feeling to finally have readers discovering this novel.

For those only now discovering the book, you can still catch up. You can find the previous sections on the site here. Here is how I introduce the tale on the page:

Cassandra on the Island is the story of second, third and fourth chances. These are the experiences that resonate for Cassandra, a young retiree from a dangerous past hoping to escape her memories and spend her remaining time reading books in a gazebo by the beach. Royal Carlton Island and its eccentric inhabitants though have other plans for her. A boat race, pirate treasure, glowing grave, recluse billionaire, fake vampire, and an opera-singing child are waiting…

Surprising, witty, romantic and unique, Cassandra on the Island is filled with the important days for Cassandra, and together each piece is one part of the picture that makes up her life.

If you enjoy the writing, please share.  Likes and sharing help writers (and their stories) grow. I would love to see this in print sometime in the future. I plan to have it up on the site for a little while, but it won’t be forever.

Thank you for visiting the island and I hope you enjoy the ending this Friday!

 

Cassandra on the Island: Wisterias

The following is the second to last section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Wisterias

Lesson #1 – Find Beauty in the Smallest Things

Cassandra loved her granddaughter’s smile. Granted, if put under the gun, she would praise all of her grandchildren’s smiles, but there was something about young Toni Lyn’s smile that Cassandra found comfort in.

So when Toni Lyn called to ask if she could spend the summer with her on the Island, Cassandra immediately said yes. Toni Lyn’s parents however were less than amused with the idea when they found out. They feared that Cassandra would be a bad influence on their eighteen-year-old daughter’s perspective of the world. It wasn’t because of Cassandra’s past (they never truly knew about her time in Europe. Even for Cassandra most of it had slipped from memory and would only return as dark images in nightmares that left her strangely humming Mozart songs), but what Cassandra had become.

Cassandra had become a rascally old woman.

Cassandra loved to give her opinion about everything under the sun. Her opinions were always unique (and most of the time too unique). It was amazing to her children the change that occurred. It was almost as if Cassandra found a switch or a button that changed everything. Spending time with their mother soon became a chore of having to smile and nod to many strange and unique points.

Peter (the father of Toni Lyn) claimed the change in her personality arrived after her husband’s death. That was not the case. She was like this for at least three years before the good Reverend disappeared from her side. Living with her during that time could sometimes be uncomfortable for him. Where he seemed to fall back on his conservative upbringing and beliefs (and his questions pushed back into the shadows), she went to the other extreme.

By the “Summer of Poetry,” it had been four years since Jonathan’s death and Cassandra felt more alone each day. Her life seemed to follow a simple pattern. Continue reading

Cassandra on the Island: Clovers

The following is the seventh section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Clovers

Cassandra pretended to like fishing for Jonathan’s sake. She pretended to like getting up early (“At the crack of dawn, family! That is five AM!”) She pretended to like touching worms and baiting them and waiting. She pretended to like waiting a lot.

“Can’t we go home yet?” Lucy whined.

God, Cassandra thought, why can’t I be more straightforward like Lucy?

“No, honey,” the Reverend sighed. “You’ve got to give it some time. You’ll catch something sooner or later, I promise. I’m actually sure of it. Peter and I dug up these worms late last night. Right Peter?”

Peter didn’t answer. It was obvious to Cassandra Peter didn’t want to relive that memory. Peter turned away from his dad, then looked down at his line, and then back out to the ocean.

Well, he’s a little bit more like me, Cassandra thought, Now where the heck did Lucy’s personality come from?

Lucy sighed again loudly. The Reverend didn’t notice the sigh (he was too busy whistling), but Cassandra knew exactly what the sigh meant. Cassandra leaned forward and tapped her daughter on the knee. They made eye contact. Cassandra smiled. It was her patented, ‘Get through this and I’ll get you some ice cream later’ smile. Lucy and Cassandra had this quiet exchange of knowledge down to a science. That was mostly thanks to all the stuff the boys made them sit through (from Peter’s little league baseball games to events at Jonathan’s church). This was just another one of those moments…. Just a great, great deal longer.

Cassandra looked out and away towards the ocean. It was almost seven and the sky had an eerie color to it. And the air… The air felt too calm… She shrugged it off. I’m just not used to being up and on the ocean this early in the morning, she told herself, it’s probably always like this. Over a thousand mornings she let slip by without even considering to rise and watch. She promised herself that when she was old and the children were grown, she would study the dawn more. The colors were beautiful.

Jonathan noticed her gaze and turned to the clouds. “That is odd.” Continue reading

“Any Love (Cassandra Et Lune)” by Ken Stringfellow

Before the next section is shared from my novel Cassandra on the Island, I thought I would bring up this post I wrote a few years ago. It goes into my mindset and the world around me while I was working on the novel. It also references once heck of a great song. I hope you like it.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Wow, I can’t believe I am already up to eight in my series “With Music.”   In each post I write about a time in my life, using a song that impacted me or reminds me of a moment.  The earlier seven entries included Ben Folds Five, Sheryl Crow, Beth Orton, Dean Martin, The Verve, Barenaked Ladies, and Tori Amos. This time I write about finding inspiration in Los Angeles.
Books

I am haunted by a song.

I sometimes hear it in my dreams, it is the one I might start humming when I am running an errand or absentmindedly finishing a chore. I’ve even been known to sing it to my children as they fall asleep.

This song has followed me for almost a decade and I believe it will be with me until I let one special book go.

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Cassandra on the Island: Eglantines

The following is the sixth section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Eglantines

This was not a day Cassandra was looking forward to. Peter and Lucy had been gone for two weeks and, in her opinion, it was time she got up and did something. Doing this was at least something. God knows, it had to be done.

“Are you sure you don’t want my help,” Alisha asked earlier that morning on the phone. “The dust up there and your allergies.”

“I’ll be fine,” Cassandra said. “I don’t need the help.” What she couldn’t say was how much she wanted to have this moment alone, even though she wasn’t looking forward to the experience. “And you have Duke, Jr. to take care of.”

Alisha knew Cassandra was just making excuses now. Having a two-year-old following them never bothered them before. “Duke, Jr. #3 is not a problem. And Duke, Jr. #1 and #2 won’t be back from school until three, so I do have time if you need me.”

Cassandra had to fight back from letting out a laugh. Duke, Jr. #1 was almost 9 and the names still made her laugh. Granted, Alisha was almost ten years younger than Cassandra, but that fact still did not explain some of the odd things she did. “Alisha, you know you can still change their names if you want to.”

“Why would I want to do that?”Alisha had lost count how times Cassandra had brought up this issue. Yes, it was unique to name all your children Duke, Jr., but Duke liked it and Alisha liked being unique. Of course, whenever Cassandra brought up this debate it was usually her way of saying “give me some space” in the nicest way possible. “Fine, I get the hint,” Alisha said.

“Don’t take it personally, Alisha,” Cassandra said softly. “I want this moment alone. Jonathan is at work. It’s the first time both my children have been gone.” Children? Was it even fair to still call them children? Lucy was 17, almost 18, and Peter was 22… 22? That idea was still hard for her to grasp. A senior in college and it felt just like yesterday when she last played hide-and-seek with him in the yard. Continue reading

Cassandra on the Island: Red Jasmines

The following is the fifth section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Red Jasmines

“Tell it to me again, mommy.”

“Lucy, you need to sleep. I won’t let you go Trick-or-Treating unless you take a nap. You know how you get without a nap. You’ll be asleep by Wilson Avenue.”

“Just tell me and I’ll sleep.”

“You promise?”

She nodded her head.

“Well, I thought your dad was late.”

“But daddy is never late.”

“That’s what was bothering me. And I was looking forward to the date.”

“Did you try calling him?”

“Yes, I left message after message. I was going to go out looking for him, but I didn’t.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“You know that, my silly little girl.” She reached down and tickled the sides of Lucy’s arms.

She giggled.

“He showed up at the door in a tuxedo. And he had me close my eyes. He led me to the side of the house. And through my eyelids I could see we were moving towards a bright light… a bright gold-like glow. He had covered the gazebo with Christmas lights, hundreds and hundreds of Christmas Lights. As it began to rain… just a little rain, not much. He looked so handsome, the rain and the lights. It was all so perfect.”

“Then what?” Continue reading

Cassandra on the Island: Sweet Williams

The following is the fourth section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Sweet Williams

Another map was found and the word spread through across the island like the hurricane of ’77. Gossip and stories could be heard on any street corner where at least two adults were standing.

“…it was in a chest, I hear…”

“…Yes, and it took a gold key to open it…”

A third person walked up. “Did he have it analyzed yet?”

“No, he doesn’t want to risk having it fall into someone else’s hands.”

A fourth person with a young boy joined the conversation. “It’s a fake.”

“What? How can you say that?”

The fourth person put down the groceries he was holding. “It’s always a fake.”

The first person sat up straighter in his chair and squinted his eyes at this intruder. “Reverend Jonathan, doesn’t your religion teach you to have faith?”

Jonathan sighed. “Faith in God, Mr. Reginald, not in gold treasures hidden by a mythical pirate.” Continue reading

Catch Up With Cassandra on the Island

In December, I began sharing one of my unpublished novels on this site.

Cassandra on the Island is…well… a hard book to explain or even describe. It is a work of literary fiction, but also funny, romantic. It is influenced a lot by the writing of Virginia Woolf and Northern Exposure (yes, I said both of  those things). This is how I like to describe the work:

Cassandra on the Island is the story of second, third and fourth chances. These are the experiences that resonate for Cassandra, a young retiree from a dangerous past hoping to escape her memories and spend her remaining time reading books in a gazebo by the beach. Royal Carlton Island and its eccentric inhabitants though have other plans for her. A boat race, pirate treasure, glowing grave, recluse billionaire, fake vampire, and an opera-singing child are waiting…

Surprising, witty, romantic and unique, Cassandra on the Island is filled with the important days for Cassandra, and together each piece is one part of the picture that makes up her life.

On this page you, can catch up on the work today. There is an introduction and three sections out, with a new section scheduled for next Friday.

I hope you will check it out. And if you like it, please share with another reader or via social media (there are always links for sharing on the bottom of the pages and posts). I would love for more people to discover this book.

Cheers!