The Plan

[From Voice and Vision 2020: my initial piece]

They rehearsed every step with her till she knew them by heart.

Shortly after lunch, she strolled into the market and browsed the stalls. At exactly 2:23, she approached the designated vendor in the designated stall selling the specified doll. They haggled over the price – it had been agreed upon even before The Plan was activated, but bartering was essential for its success. Negotiations concluded, she handed over the money and took the doll.

She sauntered through the market, examining other items. She heard a commotion behind her, tromping footsteps, things knocked aside and broken, then angry voices shouting her name. Why were they calling her? How did they know her name? She turned to look. A bullet ricocheted off the pavement, too close for comfort. This was not part of The Plan!

Her pulse quickened. She searched for a place to hide, but the stalls were jammed together with no space between. She panicked and began to run. Five soldiers dressed in black appeared from between the stalls, pointing their high-powered assault rifles at her. “Stop!” they yelled. She was trapped. She clutched the doll to her chest and screamed.

And sat bolt upright in bed, clutching the blankets. Her heart pounded, her breath came in great gasping gulps of terror. It’s okay, it was just a dream, calm down, breathe, she told herself.

But what was she holding? It didn’t feel like blankets. She reached over and turned on the light.

And shrieked.

She was holding the doll.

“Everything’s OK” by Verone Solilo. (Acrylic on canvas)

Verone‘s response to “The Plan”:

This painting was done in response to an intriguing short story about a woman waking up from an adventurous, but frightening dream. It reminded me that the things that cause us anxieties, can often be remedied by showing ourselves the same kindness that we would show a small child, frightened by a nightmare. That inner child, who still retains his/her innocence, creativity and wonder toward life, sometimes needs a hug and some comforting words … “It’s Okay, it was just a dream, calm down, breathe.”

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First Date

First Date by Verone Solilo. Acrylic on canvas (Artist’s statement is below)

[From Voice and Vision 2020: my response piece to Verone’s painting]

She was the most popular girl in high school – beautiful, witty, talented.

I was the class nerd – brilliant at math and sciences, lousy at sports and small talk.

Somehow I found the courage to ask her to the graduation dance. I couldn’t believe my ears when she said, “Yes.”

The big night, I fidgeted in her parents’ living room, only half-listening to her father’s lecture. I gasped when she swept into the room, resplendent in red. God, she was beautiful!

After the dance, she giggled and grabbed my hand. “Let’s go dance in the park.”

We danced in the bandstand, then walked among the blossom-laden trees and talked about our futures till the stars dimmed.

That fall, I went to MIT and began my career as a theoretical physicist. We lost touch.

Thirty-some years later, I returned home for my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary. The hall was crowded with people I hadn’t seen in years. I almost dropped my drink when she walked in. Age had only made her more beautiful. Her face lit up when she saw me. “Do you still dance?” she asked.

My heart skipped a beat. She remembered!

Before we could talk further, I was whirled away to give the toast to my parents. An hour later, I saw her leaving. I ran after her. “Stop! Wait!”

She turned, her eyebrow cocked. “Yes?”

“Um, um.” I was again the tongue-tied teenage nerd. “Let’s go dance in the park,” I blurted.

She laughed, then took my hand. “Let’s.”

Verone’s Statement:

This [painting] was inspired by a memory. When I met my husband at 16, our first dates were bike rides to Wascana Park, in Regina, Sask. This is a gorgeous park that has lots of paths winding around the lake and through the mature trees, well-groomed lawns and flower beds, and Canada geese. It also boasts a beautiful white bandstand/pavilion, which is set in this lush urban forest. I recall that pavilion being the perfect rest stop since it was halfway around the lake. I’m sure ours was not the only first date at the pavilion that blossomed into lifelong love. Lovely memories.

[NOTE: The Bert Church Theatre interviewed Verone and me about our joint contribution to Voice and Vision 2020. You can listen to it here.

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