Short Story Sunday 200: Enter

Short Story: "Enter" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Casey knocked on the door. She took a step back wondering who was going to be on the other side. She casually looked over her shoulder wondering if her friends were even still standing on the sidewalk.

They weren’t.

She sighed, turning her attention back to the door. Once their baseball had been chucked over the fence by accident, no one wanted to knock on Mrs. Peters’ door to ask for it back. Casey didn’t understand why her friends didn’t want to talk to the old lady, but apparently she wasn’t a very nice person in the past.

Casey wanted to prove them wrong. Or, at least prove to them that she was the only brave one in the group.

They had all said that they would be waiting for her on the sidewalk. They were going to have her back in case anything bad happened. They wanted to witness everything. But of course, as soon as Casey knocked on the door, they had all run away.

Casey stared at the brown painted door. There was a nice “Home, Sweet, Home” sign on the sign. Underneath her feet was a mat that said “Welcome.” Casey didn’t understand why this old lady was do mean. It certainly didn’t seem that way.

Her friends had mentioned that Mrs. Peters liked to yell a lot. A few of their balls had made it over the fence before and every time they’ve asked to get it back, she’s yelled at them. After a few times, they gave up on trying to get their balls back.

Still, Casey looked to her right and noticed a lovely flower garden side the small porch. She didn’t know anything about gardening or flowers, but it sure looked nice and well kept. There were red flowers, yellow flowers, a few purple flowers, and even blue flowers. Casey smiled wondering if she would be able to get away with picking some to give to her mother.

She looked at the front door again. How long was she supposed to wait here? Should she knock again? Mrs. Peters was old. What is she was taking a nap? If Mrs. Peters was as mean as her friends said she was, Casey certainly didn’t want to see what would happen if Mrs. Peters was awoken from a nap.

Casey turned around again. She tried to see if she could see her friends anywhere and ask them what she should do, but they weren’t anywhere in sight. She grunted. Of course they weren’t. They were most likely back in their backyard playing with a different baseball. Casey was sure that they weren’t going to care whether she came back or not.

She faced the door again and looked up at it. There was a small window at the top, but Casey was too short to peek through it to see if Mrs. Peters was there. She would believe that Mrs. Peters was waiting quietly on the other side in an attempt to ignore the kids, hoping they’d go away on their own.

So, she knocked again. One more time couldn’t hurt.

Casey gasped after she knocked the second time. She could hear something from the other side of the door. Uh, oh. Maybe she really did wake Mrs. Peters up and she was on her way to go get a weapon of sorts!

Casey took a step back on the porch. She wanted to run, but there was no way she was going to back out now. She had told her friends that she would get their baseball back and she was going to do it. What could an old lady possibly do?

It was at that moment that Casey heard a voice. She looked all around her, believing that her friends had actually come back for her, but there didn’t seem to be anyone around.

Then she heard someone speak again. It sounded as though it was coming from inside the house.

Casey took a few steps forward toward the door again. Cautiously, she put her ear against the finished wood.

“I said, come in! The door’s open!”

Casey recoiled backward a little at the harsh words. That must have been Mrs. Peters shouting. She swallowed a dry lump in her throat and put a shaking hand on the doorknob. Slowly, she twisted it open and poked her head in.

There, just a few feet away from the front door in what seemed to be the living room, sat an old woman in a wooden rocking chair.

“Come in, come in.” she sighed. “My voice isn’t as strong as it used to be.”

Casey swallowed another lump. Her voice seemed just fine when she was shouting through the door a moment ago.

She entered, closing the door behind her lightly. Of course, she wasn’t too sure if that was a good idea as she didn’t want to lock herself in the house. She wanted to have an easy escape route just in case.

“Oh,” Mrs. Peters sounded surprised upon looking at Casey. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you before.”

“Um…” Casey stammered, “My name is Casey… I’m uh, friends with May and Tanya… Your next door neighbors…”

“Oh, the twins? They’re so cute. Are they here as well?” Mrs. Peters asked politely.

Casey felt her shoulders relax. Mrs. Peters didn’t seem like a mean woman at all. “No,” she shook her head.

“Oh, that’s a shame.” Mrs. Peters sighed. “I don’t get too many visitors anymore. In fact, that’s partially why I keep the front door unlocked. When someone does come, it’s easier to just shout at them. It gets harder each and every day to get up and moving out of this chair.” She chuckled to herself. “Oh, but listen to me go on and on… Why don’t you sit down, dear?”

Casey didn’t know what else to do but sit. So, she sat down on the couch across from Mrs. Peters’ chair. She looked around the room. It was dimly lit with antiques upon antiques all around the room. There was no TV, which Casey thought was odd. How could you not have a TV, especially when you lived alone and had no one to talk to?

“Is there something you needed?” Mrs. Peters asked.

“Oh, um…” Casey coughed as her voice squeaked. “Our baseball fell into your backyard. I was wondering if I could just go and get it.”

Mrs. Peters laughed. Casey shrunk down in her seat. Maybe this was what her friends meant. Maybe Mrs. Peters was stealing their balls and not giving them back.

“Of course!” Mrs. Peters exclaimed.

Casey felt herself relax again. Mrs. Peters wasn’t so bad.

“Honey, you don’t need to ask permission. If something of yours goes over the fence, feel free to just go into my yard and take it. You know,” Mrs. Peters continued, “I have a pretty large backyard. Bigger than May and Tanya’s, I believe. It’s fenced in and my garden is out front, so if you kids ever need extra room, go play in my yard.” She let out a sigh. “I remember watching my own children and their friends, then my grandchildren, play out in the yard. I missing watching them have fun, hearing the laughter… It’s what kept me young. Now…” she laughed again. “Well, look at me!”

Casey found herself smiling. She had no idea what her friends were talking about. Mrs. Peters was clearly too old and just wanted a little company. She stood up from the couch and held up her index finger. “Could you excuse me for a minute?”

“Of course, dear,”

Casey ran over to the back slider door. She immediately found the baseball in the large grassy area. She ran over to it, picked it up, and tossed it over the fence. She heard May and Tanya cheer as it flew over. She rolled her eyes. They definitely did ditch her and sure enough, they were playing something else while waiting for her.

Well, they were going to be waiting for a long time.

Casey made it back inside the house. She closed the door and sat back down on the couch.

“Mrs. Peters,” she said.

“Hmm?”
“Would you like some company?”

Mrs. Peters stared at Casey for a moment. Then she smiled wide. “You know, I don’t see my family too often. They live pretty far away. However, I recently found out I’m going to be a great-grandmother.”

Casey grinned.

Mrs. Peters reached down next to her chair. Beside her was a basket filled with yarn and knitting needles. “I made a blanket for each of my grandchildren. I would like to carry on that tradition, but I could use some help.”

Casey frowned. “But Mrs. Peters, I don’t know how to knit… I wouldn’t want to ruin the blanket.”

“Nonsense,” Mrs. Peters handed Casey some yarn and her own pair of knitting needles. “You’ll learn. And, maybe someday, you can make blankets for your own grandchildren.”

Casey took the yarn in her hands and watched as Mrs. Peters began her own blanket. She smiled and tried to copy what she was doing.

Words: 1,525

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Short Story Sunday 199: Done

Short Story: "Done" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            When Reagan walked through the front door of her house, she stomped her snow boots on the welcome mat. It wasn’t because she wanted to get the snow off of her boots; it was because she was frustrated. She slammed the front door closed behind her and kicked off her boots letting them land in two random spots in the living room.

“Hello?” a voice called from the kitchen.

“Hi,” Reagan replied loudly. It wasn’t a friendly greeting, but she also didn’t want to take her frustrations out on her brother, either.

She walked through the living room and entered the kitchen. Dave was sitting at the table with his laptop in front of him. He looked focused, but he also looked like he would burst into laughter at any moment. Reagan snorted to herself. Who could laugh at a time like that?

She opened the refrigerator and peered inside. All she wanted was an ice cold soda, but of course there was none left in the fridge. She groaned as she grabbed a water bottle and shut the fridge door.

Reagan looked over at Dave, who was still giving all his attention to his computer screen. She groaned again, this time louder hoping that Dave would respond. Maybe he would ask her what was wrong, even though she didn’t want to talk about. Maybe he would offer her a hug, even though she didn’t want any sympathy from him. Still, a little acknowledgement would have been nice.

She twisted the thin plastic cap off from her water bottle and took a big gulp drinking nearly half of the water in one sip. She let out a huge sigh relieved to get some air, but she was so thirsty. It had been a long unexpected drive home.

Dave was still typing away on his computer. Reagan leaned her back against the countertop beside the fridge watching him. Didn’t he even realize that she had come home early? What was his problem? Why didn’t he bother to care that his older sister had returned home? He was the one who didn’t want her to leave in the first place.

She cleared her throat and then grunted again. Louder this time.

“Is everything okay?” Dave asked. He never once took his eyes off his computer screen and his fingers were still typing away. Reagan shook her head. She never did understand how Dave was able to have a real life conversation and type something at the same time. His brain worked in mysterious ways.

“No, everything is not fine.” Reagan said stubbornly. She wasn’t about to explain it though. Dave was only asking because she was probably being a nuisance as he was trying to get some work done. If he really cared, he would have stopped doing whatever it was he was doing and at least look her in the eyes.

“Obviously…” Dave deadpanned, still typing. “What’s wrong?”

Reagan rolled her eyes. She thought about shrugged the question off and telling him it was nothing, it was no big deal. She also thought about just walking out of the kitchen all together. Maybe Dave would follow her, maybe he wouldn’t. Then again, as much as she didn’t want to talk about it, she did tell Dave everything. She did want to explain to him what was going on. She had to have someone to talk to.

Finally, she let out a sigh of defeat. She hung her head looking down at the tiled floor. They really needed to mop the floor.

“I’m just…” Reagan began and then sighed again. “I’m just done.”

“I’m done!”

Reagan snapped her head to look up. How did he know what she was going to say? He didn’t even know what was going on.

Dave was still sitting in his seat with a wide grin and his arms fist-pumped into the air. Calmly, he lowered his arms and turned to face her. “I’m done. I am officially done with school. I just finished and turned in my final thesis.”

Reagan couldn’t help but smile. She put her water bottle down on the counter and walked over to her with her arms stretched wide. “Congratulations! I’m so proud of you for sticking with that!” she hugged him.

“You have no idea how much weight has been lifted off my shoulders in just a matter of seconds pushing that send button to my professor…” Dave said almost with tears in his eyes.

“Well, this calls for a celebration!” Reagan announced. She pulled away from the hug and clapped her hands together.

Dave chuckled rubbing the back of his neck. “No, not really, Reagan. I mean, I have to do really well on this thesis in order to graduate, so I’m not out of woods yet.”

“You’re not going to fail. And, even if you do, you’ve still accomplished a huge goal. Let’s go,” Reagan took him by the hand and led him out of the kitchen. “I’m taking you to your favorite restaurant.”

“But I just ate lunch!” Dave protested, but allowed himself to be dragged along by his sister.

“Then we’ll get dessert!” Reagan laughed.

They got their coats and boots on once again and before Reagan knew it, she had forgotten all about her problems.

Words: 879

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Short Story Sunday 198: Accident

Short Story: "Accident" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

            “It was an accident.” Oliver shrugged his shoulders.

Cameron nodded in agreement. “Honest, it was. We would never do anything to break anything in the house.”

“Well,” Wayne sighed, “I wouldn’t.”

Cameron and Oliver glared at their brother.

Betty closed her eyes lightly and tried to calmly count to ten as her three boys argued in the background. She had no doubts that it was an accident, but she couldn’t stand it when they tried to blame each other or brush off the crime as though nothing had happened.

Sure, it was just the priceless vase that Betty’s grandmother had given her when she got married. The vase was only passed down for five generations before her.

Betty opened her eyes and looked up at the ceiling. “Why…? Why did it have to break on my watch…?”

“What?”

Betty looked back down and all three of her boys stood side by side staring up at her puzzled. “Nothing,” she muttered. Louder, she added, “What exactly happened?”

“We were having a pillow fight.” Cameron sang like a canary. Both his brothers elbowed him from either side. “Ow!”

Betty pinched the bridge of her nose and grunted.

“It was a harmless pillow fight.” Oliver said.

“Yeah, there weren’t even any pillows involved. We were just using the cases. We know how upset you get when we have pillow fights in the house.” Wayne explained.

Betty glared at the boys. They were having a pillow fight without the pillows? Well, if that wasn’t a lie then she didn’t know what was.

“You know what? Accidents happen.” Betty said. “I can’t fault anyone for having an accident. There’s nothing we can really do about it.”

The boys’ faces perked up. They exchanged smiles as though they thought they were actually going to get away with their misdeed.

“All I ask is that you clean it up afterwards.” Betty said.

“Of course, Mom!” Wayne agreed right away.

“But, there’s just one thing that I can’t tolerate…” Betty continued.

Her sons froze in their tracks as they were just about to grab the broom and dustpan. They slowly turned around; slight horror on their faces as they wondered just what was up their mother’s sleeve.

“I can’t tolerate lying.” She said and watched as all three boys averted their gaze to the ground. “You know the rules, boys. No pillow fights in the house. I expect all three of you to clean this up right away and then…” Betty paused to think of a suitable punishment.

“No TV for the rest of the day and I want you all to play by yourselves.” She finally declared.

All three boys’ jaws dropped. Just as they were about to protest, Betty held up a hand and turned the other way.

“I don’t want to hear it,” she said. “Just clean it up and then disband for the rest of the day. If I hear the television, then the punishment extends to tomorrow. That’ll be all.”

Betty walked away hearing the boys groan. As soon as she was around the corner, she let out a deep sigh. She didn’t enjoy punishing her sons, but she always felt satisfied once they learned their lesson.

Now she just had to see whether other not she ended up punishing herself… without each other and with no TV, the boys were bound to get bored.

Betty looked up at the clock. It was only three in the afternoon. She may be in for a long night.

Words: 583

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Short Story Sunday 197: Call

Short Story: Call | Short Story Sunday | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            The first time the phone rang Rylee sent the caller to voicemail. She didn’t recognize the number and she figured that if it was someone she knew, someone important, they would leave a message. But they didn’t leave a message. They just called back again.

She let the phone ring the second time. Maybe, after hearing the phone ring just twice, the caller had a feeling Rylee purposefully sent them to voicemail. So, she allowed her cell phone to ring and send the caller to voicemail on its own.

About an hour had passed before the person tried calling again. Rylee picked up her phone to look at the number. She was on the computer when they called that time, so she typed the phone number into a search engine. Another state had popped up. Rylee had various family members living all over the world, but no one she knew in that area.

She put her phone down on her bed once again and let it continue to ring.

That was all the phone calls she got from that day.

The following day, she got four calls from that person. The day after that, she got four more calls. They were always at the same time, too. Rylee considered picking it up just to tell the person they had the wrong number. But still, why weren’t they leaving her a message if it was something so important?

She had considered blocking the number, but knew that would add a few more dollars onto her phone bill. She’d have to inquire about that soon, but since it was Sunday, they weren’t open.

Rylee’s friend, Ned, came to her house to study for a big test when he finally got annoyed with the constant ringing. He took her phone and before Rylee could voice any protest, Ned had answered the call.

“Hello?” he said deepening his voice. Rylee rolled her eyes.

“Oh,” Ned said in her normal tone. He looked at Rylee. “Yes, this is Rylee’s phone. Can I ask who’s calling?”

Rylee narrowed her eyes. She didn’t know whether she should be angry at Ned for telling a stranger that this was indeed her phone or if she should be concerned a stranger was looking for her.

“Sure, one moment, please.” Ned took the phone away from his ear and covered the mouthpiece with his hand. He held it out to Rylee. “It’s your brother.”

Rylee’s eyes grew wide. “Ned, I don’t have a brother. You know that. Hang up. Hang up right now.” A sudden wave of dizziness hit her as nerves began to take over. How did a stranger get her name and number and why were they pretending to be her family?

Ned sighed. “Well, according to the Richardson Adoption Agency you do have a brother. And he’s been looking for his biological family for a long time.”

Rylee shook her head.

Ned hesitated, but finally brought the phone back up to his ear. “Can I have your phone number, please? Rylee is busy at the moment.”

Rylee glared at Ned. There was no way she was going to call this stranger back.

“Thanks,” Ned wrote down the number in his math notebook. He hung up the phone, ripped out the paper, and handed it to Rylee. “Didn’t you have a twin?”

“Ned, I told you my twin was a miscarriage. I was lucky to make it out of the womb alive.” Rylee explained. She took the paper, but folded it and put it on her bed. She was planning on throwing it away after Ned left.

“But your mom always donates to that adoption place, doesn’t she?” Ned asked.

Rylee remained silent.

“I’m just saying,” Ned shrugged, “it happens. And this is a little too coincidental.”

Before Rylee could counter with anything, she heard a car door. She stood up from the floor and looked out her bedroom window. Her mother had just gotten home. She was carrying a bundle of groceries as was her stepfather.

“Ned,” Rylee said still watching her parents, “I’ll see you in school tomorrow. I think I have to talk to my mom.”

Ned gathered his things and stood up. “Call me later. And tell your mom I’m looking forward to making a new friend.”

Ned left the room first. Rylee could hear him saying hello and goodbye to her parents as they passed each other. She waited a few more minutes before going downstairs to confront them. She wasn’t exactly sure what she was going to say, but… She just knew she had to say something.

When Rylee finally went downstairs, she found her parents in the kitchen putting away the groceries. They greeted her as they noticed her walk in and she greeted them back unenthusiastically.

“Is something wrong, honey?” her mother asked.

Rylee folded her hands together in front of her. “Um, Mom? Do I have a long lost twin brother out there?”

Both her parents froze. They glanced at each other before Rylee’s mom looked back at her again.

“What gave you a silly idea like that?” she tried to laugh it off.

“He called.” Rylee said bluntly. “He got our information from the Richardson Adoption Agency, where you always donate to.”

Her mother pressed her lips together. Her stepfather put a hand on her mother’s shoulder.

“I guess he’s trying to find his biological family.” Rylee said.

Her mother sighed. She pointed to the kitchen table. “Let’s sit down and have a family meeting. I guess it’s time you knew.”

Words: 923

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Short Story Sunday 196: Babysit

Short Story: "Babysit" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

            “Are you sure you can handle this?”

Elliot rolled his eyes. “For the last time, Isabel, I got this. You have nothing to worry about.”

Isabel stood in the middle of the kitchen. She stared down her older brother like he had carried the plague into her home. She was dressed up in a knee-length red dress with silver sparkling heels. She held onto her black clutch in front of her, her knuckles turning white.

Elliot walked up to her and took one of her hands in his. He kissed it and smiled as sweetly as he could even though she was beginning to annoy him with her constant worry.

“This isn’t my first rodeo, you know. I have three kids, remember?” Elliot said.

Isabel nodded her head. “Yes, I know… But this is your first time with my kid.”

“She’s a year old and she’s asleep.”

“What if she wakes up?”

“I’ll change her diaper.”

“What if she’s crying?”

“I’ll soothe her.”

“What if–”

“Isabel, don’t make me pick you up and throw you out the front door…” Elliot wagged his index finger in her face. He was smiling, but she didn’t seem amused one bit.

“Where would I go? My date is picking me up.” Isabel said. Then her bottom lip began to quiver. She turned away and walked into the living room.

Elliot opened his mouth to say something before she had turned her back but decided against saying anything at all. He followed her into the next room and watched her as she placed her handbag down on the coffee table and sat on the couch with her head between her knees.

“Okay…” Elliot cleared his throat. He walked over and sat down on the couch beside her. He put a hand on her back rubbing in small circles. “Listen, I know this is going to be a tough night for you, but you really like this guy, don’t you?”

Isabel nodded, but it was hard to tell considering that her head was still buried in her dress.

“So don’t worry about that… guy.” Elliot coughed. He wasn’t too sure what to call his almost brother-in-law. As soon as Isabel’s fiancé had found out she was pregnant, he broke off the wedding and got back together with his ex-girlfriend.

Elliot was the one who was there when his niece was born. He had thrown the best baby shower there ever could have been, he gave her a part of his house before she was able to rent her own apartment. He stayed with her when her due date approached. He drove her to the hospital, stayed in the delivery room with her, and he was even the one to cut the cord.

A year had passed since then and while Elliot had helped her a lot, especially since both of their parents had already passed on, Isabel was eventually able to get back on her own feet and take responsibility for being a single mother. Elliot now had become back-up when his sister was in a pinch.

Isabel met Gary about a month ago at the coffee shop she worked at. He had become a regular costumer and it was recent that Isabel realized it was because he wanted to see her every day. They were finally going on their first date. Isabel really liked him and while Elliot had never met him, he was impressed by Isabel’s stories about him.

This was the first date Isabel was going on since her fiancé of two years and boyfriend of three years. Elliot knew it was going to be hard, but date or no date, Isabel hadn’t had a night out since the baby was born.

“Go out and have fun. And don’t think of this as a date.” Elliot said.

“But it is a date.” Isabel sniffled lifting her head. She looked at him with blood-shot eyes.

Elliot grunted. He pushed himself off the couch mumbling, “You’re smudging your make-up…”

Isabel chuckled. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.

“No, don’t do that.” Elliot grabbed a box of tissues on the other side of the room. He handed her the box and sat down beside her again. “Here,”

Isabel took a couple of tissues. She stood up, taking her bag, and walked over to the mirror above the mantel. After wiping her face, she began to reapply the make-up from her handbag.

“Just have a good time with Gary as friends. I know he asked you out, but don’t let a label like ‘date’ put any pressure on you.” Elliot explained.

Isabel took a deep breath still staring at herself in the mirror. “You’re right.”

“I know, I always am,”

She turned around and rolled her eyes at him, but she was smiling.

“You look beautiful; you’ll have a fun time.” Elliot stood up and walked over to the window. “And right on cue,” he said peeking through the curtains, “is your ride.”

“Crap…”

Elliot opened his arms. “Give me a hug and then go open the door for him.”

Isabel did just that. She gave her brother a tight squeeze and then opened the front door before Gary even had a moment to get all the way up the front steps.

After greeting and complimenting how beautiful Isabel looked, he introduced himself to Elliot and shook his hand. The three of them made small talk for a few minutes before Gary checked the time and realized they didn’t want to be late for the show. They said their goodbyes and Elliot closed the door.

He side stepped to the window and carefully peeked around the curtain watching Gary back out of the driveway with Isabel in the front seat.

Once they were out of sight, Elliot made his way into the kitchen. He made up a few snacks for himself, grabbed the baby monitor, and made his way back into the living room. His niece was sound asleep. He kicked his feet up on the coffee table, cracked open a soda, and turned on the TV.

Maybe after tonight Isabel would be able to get her happy ending.

Words: 1,027

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Short Story Sunday 195: Anticipation

Short Story Sunday: "Anticipation" | Short Story | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

            Brenda paced her gaze focused on the ground. The white tiled flooring was shiny and clear, clear enough that she could see her reflection. Her worried expression seemed to be plastered in every clean tile on the floor. A couple of times, as people passed by, she wondered if they would see it too. She wondered if they knew.

There was nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to freak out over. Still, being in a hospital waiting room made her nervous.

Brenda’s legs were growing tired. They were beginning to ache. The bottoms of her feet were stinging and she was pretty sure blisters were forming on the heels from the straps of her sandals.

Every once in a while, she’d hear a beeping sound. She’d freeze in her pacing and listen. Her mouth gaped open, her eyes wide. People would walk this way and that way passed her, but no one seemed to pay her any attention.

Didn’t they see her standing out there? Didn’t they sense she was worried? Didn’t they want to help her?

No, she didn’t need help. There was nothing wrong. Everything was going to be fine.

Brenda began to pace again.

One, two, three, four… She found herself counting the tiles on the floor. Before she knew it, she was at the end of the hall. She turned around and started counting all over again.

Brenda had done this more times than she could count. What was taking so long?

Yet, no matter how hard her feet hurt, how dizzy her head got from staring down at the ground, or how heavy her eyelids become, she kept pacing. She kept counting the tiles. She kept staring at her reflection in the floor. Her heart raced, her breathing had become jagged. If someone didn’t come and tell her something soon, she was going to have to be admitted to the hospital herself.

“Brenda?”

She paused. Her eyes grew wide upon hearing her name. She slowly turned around and came face to face with a nurse. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed between her getting that phone call up until now. Her throat suddenly felt dry, probably from the continuous counting.

“Y-Yes…?” she answered quietly.

The nurse smiled sweetly. “Your sister and brother-in-law are doing just fine. They’re the proud parents of a healthy baby boy.”

Brenda put a hand over her heart, her vision becoming blurry as tears sat in her eyelids. “You mean…” she breathed heavily, “I’m an aunt?”

The nurse chuckled. “Yes, Brenda. You’re an aunt.”

“For real…?”

The nurse let out another chuckle. “Everyone is doing well, but we just need to give them another few minutes. I’ll come back in a bit to bring you to the room, okay?”

Brenda nodded.

The nurse walked away.

Brenda pressed her back against the wall. She bent her knees, sliding down to the floor. She looked over at her purse, which had been sitting in the middle of the hall the entire time. As she wiped some tears away, she wondered why no one had taken it. She had forgotten she even had it with her.

Opening her purse, Brenda reached her hand in. Once she felt something soft she smiled and pulled it out.

She placed a small teddy bear with a blue bowtie in her lap. She couldn’t wait to meet her nephew.

Words: 563

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Short Story Sunday 194: An Old Friendship

Short Story | Fiction | Short Story Sunday | RachelPoli.com

            “No one told me that.” Noelle said matter-of-factly. She heaved a great sigh and put her book down onto the kitchen counter. She was in the middle of making herself a cup of coffee to go sit outside on her deck and finally finish reading the book she had been working her way through for the past three days. Something always seemed to come up and for whatever reason, the universe just didn’t want her to delve deeper into that fantasy world.

“Oh…” her mother cleared her throat. “Well, now you know.” She was standing in the doorway to the kitchen from the living room, her bright green floral pocketbook—her summer pocketbook—thrown over her shoulder. Her car keys sat motionless in the palm of her hands.

“Do I really have to go?” Noelle asked. She looked her mother in the eye silently pleading for her mother to let her off the hook. She hadn’t seen her cousin in ages. She didn’t care that he had graduated college.

“He’s your cousin.” Her mother said disappointed. Her shoulders drooped and her arms fell to her side, the keys jingling as they held on to her index finger.

Noelle bit her tongue knowing there was no way she was going to win if her mother was at this level of disappointment.

“I mean, good for him for graduating after seven years of trying to get this degree, but…” Noelle didn’t know what else to say. The coffee maker beeped as the last of the steaming liquid squeezed its way out of the nozzle spitting out the last few drops. She turned her attention to her drink, grateful it seemed to distract her from finishing what she was about to say.

Noelle’s cousin, Teagan, was five years older than her. He was her mother’s sister’s son. They were close when they were younger, but as Teagan grew older, he got himself into more and more trouble. Noelle’s mother helped her sister with her nephew as much as she could, but she had stopped bringing Noelle to their house. She didn’t know if her mother was nervous Noelle would follow Teagan’s footsteps or if she thought Teagan would do something to Noelle.

With all that said, Noelle hadn’t seen Teagan in about ten years. It had taken him so long to get his college degree because he had gotten expelled from one school, flunked out of another, and for whatever reason, this final college allowed him to stay.

Noelle knew her aunt forced Teagan to go to college because she hoped for a better life for him, but also because she thought it would keep him out of trouble.

Yeah, like that happened. If anything, it gave him more cause to party and ruin his life.

Noelle took a sip of her freshly brewed coffee and turned around to face her mother once more. She was so quiet, that Noelle was hoping she had left.

No. She was still standing in the doorframe, her body as slouched as it could be, her bottom lip pouted out.

Noelle rolled her eyes. “Let me put this in a travel cup…”

Her mother grinned and straightened out her back, the car keys jingling with excitement in her hands.

“But I’m taking my own car and I’m only staying for an hour. We’ll say I have to go to work or something.” Noelle negotiated as she opened the tall kitchen cabinet for a travel mug.

“But you work in a school… School’s over and it’s Saturday.” Her mother said.

“I said or something.” Noelle countered.

Her mother held up her hands in surrender. She said she’d meet her there. Noelle took her time leaving the house after her mother, but knew that the sooner she arrived to her cousin’s house, the sooner she’d be able to leave.

When Noelle did arrive, she instantly regretted bringing her own car. Her aunt and uncle lived on a dead-end road and, apparently, their next door neighbor was also having a graduation party. There was absolutely no where to park.

She ended up parking down the road and having to walk a few minutes to the house. It was a warm summer day with a slightly cool breeze, so she didn’t mind it all that much.

“Noelle!”

She froze. Even after ten years, she would recognize his voice from anywhere. She looked up from watching her feet wander up the sidewalk. Teagan was straight ahead, in the middle of the cul-de-sac. Noelle forced a small smile and waved. Then he began to jog towards her.

Noelle sighed knowing that she was going to have to see him at some point. The party was for him, after all. She remembered the other reason she hadn’t seen Teagan in so long.

She didn’t want to.

It wasn’t that her mother didn’t want Noelle to hang around Teagan in case his crazy antics rubbed off on her, it was that Noelle always knew. She always knew there was something up with him.

Sure, they had fun when they were kids, but she specifically remembered the time when Noelle had homework to do. She and her parents were at Teagan’s house because there was a death in the family, but no one Noelle was close to, no one she really knew. The adults had thrown Noelle and Teagan into the basement to keep them out of the way, but that was fine for Noelle. She had been trying to get along with her homework while Teagan strapped a bike helmet to his head and attempted to surf down the stairs on a couch cushion.

Teagan had never made the best choices. He was always trying to live life on the edge and when he accomplished one thing, he had to out-do himself.

“I’m surprised to see you here. Thanks for coming.”

Noelle blinked her eyes a few times as she was broken out of her thoughts. Teagan was suddenly standing right in front of her with his arms stretched out wide ready for an embrace.

“Oh, uh, of course… Congrats on graduating,” Noelle said. She awkwardly lifted her arms up for a hug. Teagan stepped forward and wrapped his arms tightly around her lifting her off the ground.

Noelle grunted and Teagan immediately placed her back down on the ground. He cautiously stepped backward. “Sorry, did I hurt you? I guess I got excited.”

“It’s fine,” Noelle muttered rubbing her side.

“Well, I’m really glad you came. I’ve missed you. It’s been too long.” Teagan smiled down at her. Noelle lifted her chin. When they were kids, she remembered her aunt being worried that he was going to be a midget. Now he stood at least a foot taller than her… and she was in two-inch heels.

“It has been a while, hasn’t it?” Noelle said attempting to make small talk. She started walking again, but Teagan side-stepped in front of her. She suppressed a groan. All she wanted to do was go say hello to a few people to make her presence known and then get out.

“It has. I’ve been wanting to catch up, but I didn’t really know how to contact you. We’re not friends on social media, I don’t have your cell phone number…”

Noelle froze and stared up at him with wide eyes. He wasn’t going to ask her for her number, was he? How was she supposed to decline that request?

Teagan took her hand and gently pulled her down to the ground. He sat down in the grass beside her. He crossed his legs and looked at her eagerly. “Congrats on graduating as well!”

Noelle raised an eyebrow. “I graduated two years ago.”

“I know,” Teagan frowned. “Sorry I didn’t go.”

“It’s fine,” Noelle tried to stand up, but Teagan took her hand again.

“No, it’s not. I should have been there. I should have been there for a lot of things.”

Noelle paused and slowly sat back down in the grass. There was no way she was getting out of this one and… well, as much as she hated to admit it, she was curious as to where this conversation was going.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, as I’m sure you know. I’m lucky that I was able to attend college at all, let alone get a degree.” Teagan stretched his arms out behind him and leaned back. “I always wanted a younger sibling and I was so excited when I was getting a cousin. We were close when we were young, but then I screwed up… I was supposed to be the older brother you never had.”

“Teagan,” Noelle cleared her throat. This wasn’t what she had in mind when she reluctantly agreed to come here for her mother. “Really, this isn’t necessary…”

“But I think it is.” Teagan looked her in the eyes. Noelle closed her mouth. There was something about the way he was looking at her. He was being sincere for once in his life.

“I know a lot about you because our moms keep in touch, of course. I’m sure you know a lot about me as well.” Teagan said.

Noelle nodded. Oh, yeah. She knew all about the car accidents, the arrests, the various friends and girlfriends….

“When I heard you graduated, I couldn’t go because I was angry. I should have been there for you in those happy times and in the sad times. But I was a little jealous and I was angry at myself for not being there. We’re cousins; we’re supposed to be close.” Teagan explained.

Noelle remained still. She had no idea what to do or say. She snuck a glance over her shoulder and noticed her mother and aunt sitting on the front steps. She rolled her eyes looking back at Teagan. They were, no doubt, spying on the two of them.

“When you graduated, I decided to start figuring things out in my life. I can cross getting a degree off my list. Now I just need to find a job… but!” Teagan grinned showing off his blue and gold braces on his yellow teeth. “I got braces! Fixing my teeth was something else I wanted to do… I got into this fight at a bar when I was drunk and–”

Noelle raised both her eyes unimpressed. She didn’t really want to hear this story and she could tell Teagan understood her body language. He cleared his throat and smiled sheepishly.

“Well, that’s all in the past now…”

They were quiet for a few minutes. Teagan centered his gaze to the ground and began plucking small blades of grass out of ground. Noelle couldn’t help but crack a smile.

“I’m proud of you, Teagan.” She said softly.

Teagan looked at her with surprised eyes.

Noelle drew in a deep breath. “I mean it. I never thought you would ever make it this far, let alone willingly try to get your life back on track. Good job.”

Teagan smiled. “Maybe we can start over?”

Noelle found herself nodding.

“And I want to meet your boyfriend, too!” Teagan said proudly.

“I don’t have a boyfriend.” Noelle deadpanned.

“Well… when you get one, I want to meet him.” Teagan stood up and lend her his hand.

Noelle smirked shaking her head. “Sure,” she said taking his hand and standing up.

Together, they walked down the sidewalk in silence, everything that needed to be said was already out in the open. As they got closer to the house, Noelle noticed her mother and aunt rush back into the house. She knew they were spying. But that didn’t matter.

Noelle may have rekindled an old friendship.

Words: 1,946

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

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