Courage is Required

An excerpt from Volume 2 of my book, Present Tense. I haven’t published Vol. 2 yet, but here’s a taste. Find Volume 1 here this week for free!


We move into a small, cold, temporary house just in time to celebrate my Christmas #5. Christmas includes new nightgowns, an Easy Bake Oven for my sister and a “courage” (carriage/baby buggy) for me.

I can’t say carriage. I also can’t say commercial or spaghetti. Mah-ker-shull and pa-sketti.

This is the house my mother wallpapered for my grandmother. This is house where I pooped on the floor. This is the house of smoke and blood. This is the house of clawfoot-tub swimming.

There are Tarzan cartoons, Peanuts TV Specials, Hee-haw overalls, jingling reindeer hooves on the roof, cold winter mornings, mattresses on the living room floor. There is laughing/choking at late-night dinners. There are ABC-TV special presentation family movie nights of Deliverance, urine-stained pillows that I fall asleep on, cradling parents who tuck children who fall asleep on wet pillows in bed. And there is falling out of the top bunk at night.


At some point, my grandmother bought this home as a second, third or fourth property to build her empire of real estate. She buys many properties and rents or sells them for profit. She also runs a coin-operated laundry mat and washes people’s clothes for money. She is a woman who works hard and seldom rests. She does not tolerate humor or fuss. She is a force of will.

Grandma’s hair is yellowish white, faded from stress, time and negativity. She keeps it tight in a bun and hairnet. Her face is just as faded. Her beauty quickly spent on marriage, children and hard times. She always wears a dress. Not a fancy frock, but a well-worn print. The only days she didn’t wear a dress, were those spent in a factory during the war.

She has a large, round nose and large, droopy Buddha-like lobes. Those earlobes were made for clip earrings, but she never wears them.

Hard, metallic eyes that saw her father’s mistreatment of her mother. Grandma saw his fortune taken away as well. She saw her comfortable childhood home revoked and replaced by a dirt-floor shed.

She marries, only to quickly lose her husband’s farm to the tax collector. She rears 3 children through the depression, Dust Bowl and WWII. She raises and kills chickens, she milks cows, she sews, she cleans (not well), she cooks.

She hardens; she resolves. She is determined to forbid fate from having its destructive way again.

She works hard because she doesn’t know anything else. She works hard because she learned that you can’t rely on anyone except God and yourself.  She works hard because that is her pathway to happiness.

If I stop moving, I’ll die.

These are her lonely, driven thoughts. She is an ever-swimming, scarred-up shark who’s tired of the frenzy and bloodbath.


Grandma lets us live in the house on 15th Street while we wait to move to the country.  Our home near the lake has sold and the new house is not ready yet.

We lose our cat during the move. We drive for the last time from the lake to town with all our things. Grandma is holding the cat in the station wagon. Shark holding a lion. We arrive at the new place: the car door opens, cat scratches, takes off for parts unknown.

Never seen again. Tiger is gone.

Lucky cat.

Present Tense (Excerpt 3)

Work-Around (Chapter 1)

This is the house of my first through fourth Christmases, shark-jumping Fonzie, corn-eating contests, black vinyl swivel chair spinning, lipstick wall drawings, measles and melee.  This is the house where I ironed my fingers, melting the baby flesh from my tiny knuckles, forever scarring my left hand.  This is the house that leaves many wounds and scars.  This is the house where I came into being, came to my conscious mind, came to the realization that I was in danger from the people who loved me.

I like to hide.  I hide in an accordion trunk.  I hide in the dryer.  I hide in a closet.  I hide in a hole in the yard by the basement window, dug by my mother.  Because it’s there.  I hide inside a plate of food and I eat all my peas because it makes their voices stop.

If I eat enough, deep down inside, I can’t hear their voices anymore.  I feel peaceful.  It’s quiet.  I’m happy.  The pathway to perceived happiness gets laid by the chemicals in my brain and I am helpless to stop it.  I’m not even aware of the biological processes that are creating a life-long addiction.  It has formed and that path will be worn over and over and over again.  Food equals love.  To survive this chaos, I have found my work-around.  I will survive this.  But just barely.


Read the rest of the book here. If you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited it’s free! It is free for everyone from time to time, I’ll let you know when it is. Or if you’re an impoverished author like me, email me at martha.maggio@sbcglobal.net for your free copy. But you have to share your story with me as payment. 😉

Last Day for Free Stuff!

Remember, free download of my book ENDS today! Thanks. 🙂

Crafty Beaver

My book, Present Tense, is available on Amazon tomorrow for free. February 9-13! Normally $2.99. Check it out. It’s a quick read; probably finish in one go. Or if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free anytime. It’s a vignette-style memoir with a glance at PTSD and how it starts. It does not answer the question of recovery, but it gives an emotional starting place.

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Present Tense

My book, Present Tense, is available on Amazon tomorrow for free. February 9-13! Normally $2.99. Check it out. It’s a quick read; probably finish in one go. Or if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free anytime. It’s a vignette-style memoir with a glance at PTSD and how it starts. It does not answer the question of recovery, but it gives an emotional starting place.

The Ravine

This story was composed for a literary competition celebrating Ray Bradbury. Obvs, they didn’t pick mine. So I’m publishing here. Rules: 451 words or less (Fahrenheit 451) and in the style of Bradbury. Mine was exactly 451. Also, one was to pick a theme. Choosing a word from the stream-of-consciousness string of nouns that Bradbury would use for his stories. I chose “The Ravine”.

My body is in the ravine. On my back. Legs twisted and broken. Flesh is taken from my side by dogs. Stones and leaves are taking blood from my injuries. Life is a stain. Draining away. Being stolen. I’m almost gone.

I’m not sure when I came into being. When I came to my conscious mind. I just have memories. Like anyone. No one remembers being born. I just am. But not for long.

I like to run. I’m good at running. That’s good because I have to run. From them.

They are afraid of me. They don’t like me. Always yelling. Always pursuing. Always. They aren’t kindly calling me, looking for the lost. They are mad. And I know, because I exist.

Tug-tug. Tug. I can feel my body moving left-right, left-right, left-right. The dogs are almost done.

  1. That’s my name. I know my name because it was called every morning at work.

451, move forward.

I enjoyed my work. For as long as I did it. Mainly because I was good at it. I was designed for it. I haven’t been at work for several days. My teammates won’t ever know what becomes of me. My death will be a secret to keep.

My brown, muscular legs are losing their power now. Winding down into the earth. I raise my head to look at the men standing over me. They click their cheeks against their teeth. One man has tears in his eyes. The others have steel. All have regret.

What a waste.

I wouldn’t go back. Not even if I could. The world is too sweet. Colorful. Warm. I would die anyway, if I went back, knowing what I know. Seeing what I have seen.

They didn’t expect me to know things. I tried to keep it inside. I tried not reading in front of them at all. Or, if I couldn’t help myself, pretend to be curious, but dumb about papers and pages and books. Eat and nibble at them. Nudge and slobber on them. But also read them.

It worked. Until I spoke. In anger and frustration.

They froze. I froze. We paused in that enormous moment and wondered about more than work, deadlines and productivity. We thought about life. The door was unlocked. I kicked. And ran.

Now. Here. This is where my intelligence has brought me. Bleeding out in a lonely, lovely dry river bed of wild taste and feeling.

They stroked my tangled mane and rested their palms on my cold, barely-beating chest.

They said, “We’ll take you back.”

Please, bury me here. Please don’t take me back. I want to live and die on the out.

“You were our best horse.”

Present Tense (Excerpt 2)

My memories erupt like dead-gray trees out of the dark depths where feelings feed.  I am a stone at the bottom, seen through the swirls.  I want to rise, but am unmoved by the ceaseless currents of the past.  The only place that these things, water and relationships live are in my mind.

I give them life.  I continue their being.  The runoff from the past floods around my chin.  It’s rising fast.  My feelings spill out, spill down, splash and crash, there’s no stopping them.  Play in them.  Drown in them.

This water should baptize and bless me.  But it threatens to sink me.  I still bend to his will even though his will does not exist any longer.  He has possessed my spirit from this sunken tomb of emotion.  I drown.

Dear Reader,

This is an excerpt from my short vignette-style memoir. Available on Amazon.  Check out my book.  FREE for a limited time.  http://www.amazon.com/Present-Tense-1-Martha-Maggio-ebook/dp/B00N6R7R8C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453467630&sr=8-1&keywords=present+tense+by+martha+maggio  Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Martha Maggio