The white dusting is so thin, the snow clings to sandstone like flour on a baker’s hand. It’s snow, but more like snow-light. I’m used to seeing mountain peaks dumped beneath a burden of wet meringue. The sandstone pillars look pale, and vegetation pokes through the dusting instead of becoming imperceptible lumps. What little snow has arrived to the elevations of southern Utah has brought a buddy for those of us snowbirds camped at Zion River Resort — the bully of cold.
Cold punches our propane and a loud knocking ensues beneath our trailer, as if a fight is taking place. Propane wins and heat begins to rise through the vents. My office slide has no insulation in the floor and my toes cramp with cold. I didn’t expect cold in the desert. If I’m a snowbird, the US term for residents who escape the blizzards of the north by driving RVs south, then I’ve planned poorly. My winter stay-over was suppose to allow me capris, sandals and the opportunity to poke fun at loved ones who have to shovel and shiver. Cold has brought me shivers of my own.
Blankets bundle my feet and legs as I type. The resort is nearly empty, smarter snowbirds having flown to Tuscon, and I see a black shadow on the bank outside my window. Not a shadow, but a black cat, huddled beneath a thorny bush that stubbornly retains dark green leaves. The red clay contrasts with his black fur, yet he’s still enough to be dismissed. At first I think of Bootsy, but there’s no white and when he finally looks at me his eyes are dark amber. We stare at one another, across the barrier of cold, and I wonder if he has a companion, or did a snowbird leave him behind long ago and each night he slinks back to the park where his people once stayed.
He eventually breaks the stare and dashes away. Are cats even allowed in the park?
What is allowed now that president-elect Trump has set forth on a victory tour, nicely named thank-you rallies? They are not nice. Zealots chant, “Jail Hillary,” while Trump is heard to say that others want in (to the rally) and he suggests giving them time, he’ll kindly wait. He never says, calm down, folks, let’s move forward, let’s make America Great, let’s celebrate, let’s heal, let’s be inclusive. He stands, surrounded, and let’s them chant in a heat of hate.
Not allowed. It’s not clear what will not be allowed. We have a Constitution that defines what is allowed, but we also know that fascism can subvert and even pervert laws in the name of public safety. All those Roma gathered up by the Nazi’s? Well, that was for public safety, don’t you know. Want to understand why Black Lives Matter? Want to grasp what “not allowed to vote” looks like? If you can, watch “The 13th” (on Netflix):
Over 95 million eligible voters did not vote in this US presidential election. My question is, how many were not allowed?
Because my spouse and I are homeless, I thought we wouldn’t be allowed. I made sure we did everything we could to vote. My husband even has service related disability. As a veteran, he should be allowed to vote whether or not he has an address. In Virgin Utah where we park our RV, an address is complicated. The US Postal Service does not deliver to addresses in this small community. Everyone has PO Box for a mailing address. However, to register to vote, one must have a valid physical address. Because the post office doesn’t deliver our physical address is flagged as invalid.
We had to go in person to the County Clerk’s office and fill out the paperwork by hand. Yet, the Utah voter-craziness was only beginning. We both received our Voter Registration Cards and mail-in ballots. Not only does the post office not deliver, our community has no voting precinct! I’ve lived in many rural communities, and voting was always an American act of togetherness even when we voted differently. We gathered and voted.
I never really thought much about not being allowed.
It’s significant that suffrage movements gained the privilege. I can still hum the tune, “Susan B. Anthony, helped to make my country free…” But in modern times, I never thought it possible to not allow others to vote. Then our nation passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002. On the surface it seemed a good plan, one that would modernize the process. But voter ID requirements become a barrier. My spouse and I successfully registered, but we had to provide voter ID. Why wasn’t our Voter Registration Card enough? Why did I have to mail in my ballot? Why do the voter ID requirements heavily favor employment or birth? Why are they vague? Who interprets and decides to accept or reject the requirements?
It’s too subjective as a list.
Not wanting to be barred, I stood in line for over an hour just to show my ID to the precinct volunteers. If they okayed my ID, I’d feel more confident placing the documents into my mail in ballot envelop and dropping it in the box. I watched as several people were turned away because they didn’t have proper ID. One elderly woman nearly broke down in tears because she explained she wouldn’t have a ride back into town. “Sorry,” the volunteer said. I listened to conversations and realized the voting equipment had gone down that morning and many had to be turned away. Employers are required to give employees three hours to vote, but on television that night I heard an interview with a man who claimed waits in his precinct were over four hours long.
In the end, my vote counted. My husband’s did not. He splashed coffee on his envelop. He stopped by the county clerk’s office for a new one, but forgot to included his ID documents. What about others forgetful, stressed or struggling with mental illness. I realized, there are many ways to not allow people to vote. My nation should be concerned over the number of citizens who did not vote, the homeless not counted and the loss of right to those who have paid their “debt to society.”
It is cold and I have concerns. Yet I cannot deny the beauty of snow dust on sandstone or the stare of a wild black cat. ‘Tis the season for kindness, compassion and love.
This is not the time of year for hate chants; even the Grinch let love melt his cold, tiny heart. The greatest gift you can give is to allow another. Allow someone else to listen to their favorite music. Allow someone else to tell you their story. Allow someone to connect to you even if you feel harried. Smile back, nod, acknowledge, empathize. Be loving. Some among us have denials you can’t see stamped upon their countenances because of circumstances.
December 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about something or someone not allowed. Maybe it’s about gender, race or other intolerance. Maybe it’s the cat who paws at the door, but not allowed inside. Maybe it’s a trail where dogs are not allowed. Go light, go dark, go where the prompt leads you.
Respond by December 6, 2016 to be included in the compilation (published December 7). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
Thwarted (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls
“Ma’am! You’re not allowed to leave your vehicle.”
Danni stopped. Ike had slipped through the airport doors beyond the security officer who wasn’t about to let her chase him down. Damn these men in uniform.
Driving home in the snow, scraping ice off the inside windshield because the defrost quit, Danni lost it. She pounded the steering wheel, yelling, “Not allowed! I’m not allowed to say whether my husband can go get himself killed in action.” Red and blue lights flickered from behind.
Danni groaned when she got the ticket. Evidently she wasn’t allowed to run stop signs either.
Sound Plans (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Cobb stared at Sarah, arms folded. Slowly a grin gave way to laughter. “Rosebud, you can’t start your own accounting business in Denver!”
Sarah flushed, having hoped Cobb’s silence meant he was listening. Now he was roaring as if she’d told a vulgar joke about pettiskirts. “I don’t understand what you find amusing.”
Cobb slowed to a chuckle. He took Sarah’s ledger and flipped through the pages, nodding, reading. “It’s sound, but…”
“But, Rosebud, pretty round butts aren’t allowed to sit in the seats meant for the big boys. Brains aren’t common or liked in a woman.”