Short Story Sunday #75

SSS Rub It In           

The last time I saw her, she had a chip on her shoulder. She didn’t want anything to do with me. She didn’t want to talk to me; she didn’t even want to look at me. There was nothing the two of us had in common anymore.

That was okay by me because she had changed. She wasn’t the person I became friends with. Once we got to high school, she only cared about being popular and having a lot of friends. That didn’t include me because I was a bit of a loner. I didn’t care about popularity. I just wanted to survive the next four years of my life.

So when she stopped talking to me, I made a few new friends. I made better friends. They didn’t care what I did and the fact that I didn’t have a lot of friends. They liked me for who I was and they enjoyed my company… and I enjoyed theirs.

She was jealous of this, of course. However, she should have never ditched me. If she was nicer to me, then I would still be friends with her. I’m glad I’m not friends with her anymore, though. It’s made my life so much easier.

The last time I saw her, she was walking across the stage to get her high school diploma out of the principal’s hands. Once she left the stage, waving the diploma in the air to the audience, she disappeared into the crowd of our classmates and I hadn’t seen her since.

Now it’s four years later and here I am at a restaurant. She’s waiting on the table across from mine. I don’t think she’s seen me, but I knew she was going to end up being my waitress. Life was funny like that. You run into people you haven’t seen or talked to in a long time. You run into people who you don’t want to see ever again.

I remember she wanted to be a nurse. Nurses make good money. That was her reasoning. It wasn’t because she wanted to help people get better; it was because she wanted a lot of money. She always thought she was born to get rich, buy a big mansion, and live a luxurious life. She would be famous because she was so rich and people would adore her. They weren’t very good reasons, but it was motivation enough for her.

Now here she was… a waitress at a low-class restaurant.

“Oh. Hi.” She stood by my table breaking me out of my thoughts.

“Hi.” I smiled trying to seem pleasant. She looked like a bundle of nerves now that I was sitting right before her again. Four years is a long time.

“So how have you been?” I asked.

“Fine.” She muttered.

“Are you still in school to be a nurse?” I wondered being nosy.

She shook her head. “I didn’t get into the school I wanted. So I didn’t go to college.”

I wanted to laugh, but I held it in. She was always super smart in school that I was surprised she didn’t get into every college she applied to. I wasn’t surprised by the fact that she quit the moment something didn’t go her way. She was always treated like a princess by her parents. She had never known the word “no” and never learned how to deal with life when it threw lemons your way.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” I said.

“What have you been up to?” she wondered.

“Oh, I have a full-time job in my career field. Now that I just graduated, I’ll be getting a pay raise. I also started my own online shop and that’s going really well, too. Things are great.” I smiled. Was it wrong of me to rub it in like this?

“That’s… good.” She muttered. She turned to walk away.

“Oh, wait.” I called her back.

She turned and stared at me.

“You didn’t take my order.” I reminded her.

Short Story Sunday #52

Anonymous Tip Excerpt

I entered the kitchen, hoping to keep quiet enough so I wouldn’t wake Lilah in the other room. To be honest, I was surprised she was even still asleep at this time. Most of the time she would wake me as early as six in the morning just because she was bored and wanted someone to hang out with.

I turned on the kitchen light and took out a pan from a drawer under the oven. I thought of waiting to make breakfast for when Lilah woke up, but I was hungry and she was able to fend for herself when it came to cooking. I took out the eggs and butter from the refrigerator and placed them on the counter next to the sink. Then I rolled up my sleeves and turned on the water to wash my hands.

“ACK!” I shouted in surprise.

I immediately turned off the faucet and looked down at the giant wet spot covering most of the front of the shirt. Breathing heavily from shock, I looked at the faucet to make sure nothing was wrong with it.

That’s when I saw it: a rubber band tied around the squirt nozzle.

I grinded my teeth together and shook my head. I willed myself not to get frustrated; that’s exactly what she was going to expect from me.

“Good morning!” Lilah greeted in a sing-song voice. She entered the kitchen without bothering to look at me, but she had a wide grin on her face. She opened the refrigerator and put her head in.

“Let me guess,” I leaned against the sink glaring at her. “You’ve been awake this entire time and have been waiting for me to come into the kitchen to soak myself.”

Lilah stood up straighter and grinned looking me up and down. “Are you wet? I didn’t even notice.”

“Lilah,” I growled.

“Oh, you already took out the eggs and butter. Perfect.” Lilah muttered closing the refrigerator. She walked past me, still smiling, but not looking at me.

“I hate you.” I muttered as she walked by.

“Hate is such a strong word, George.” Lilah looked me in the eye right after putting a glob of butter on the pan. “Besides, it’s April Fool’s Day. You didn’t expect me to carry on like it’s a normal day, did you?”

She turned on the stove and watched the butter melt before she proceeded to crack a few eggs into a bowl.

I sighed watching her. No, I guess I couldn’t expect Lilah to treat a day dedicated to pranking people go by wasted.

Lilah Williams was my colleague for my private investigation business. She came walking unexpectedly into my house a few months ago giving me my first freelance case. When that case turned into a homicide and we figured out the real cause of death of her father, Lilah ended up staying a lot longer than intended. She even decided to move in with me.

It wasn’t bad having Lilah live with me. It was nice to have the company and she was a big help with my agency. She advertised a lot for my business through her blog, which was extremely popular on the Internet. If only her blog would start getting me regular cases, then we’d be all set.

“You want scrambled, right?” Lilah broke the silence. She had just finished mixing the eggs in the bowl and was pouring it onto the melted butter in the pan.

“I guess so.” I shrugged. She had already turned the eggs scrambled anyway.

“Good, because I forgot to ask before I started making these.” Lilah snickered.

“You were too busy laughing at my pain.” I said melodramatically.

“Oh, please. You got a little wet. You didn’t melt, did you?” Lilah looked over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow.

“I guess not,” I muttered and stood up straight once more. “I am going to get changed before breakfast, though.”

“Well, hurry up. It’s almost ready and eggs cool fast.” Lilah sprinkled some salt and pepper over the yellow puddle in the pan.

Once I finished getting dressed for the second time that morning, I went back to the kitchen and wrinkled my nose. Lilah sat at the kitchen table sipping on a cup of coffee, the scent taking up the entire kitchen.

I sat down at the table across from her and ate my eggs as quickly as I could.

“Slow down,” Lilah scolded. I noticed she had already finished eating her eggs.

“You know you’re not allowed to make coffee while I’m in the house.” I muffled with a mouth full of food.

“That’s never stopped me before. That’s a stupid rule, George. It’s a smell, get over it.” Lilah tipped her head back and gulped down the rest of her beverage. She placed the mug on the table and sighed with satisfaction.

“We should go for a walk this morning.” Lilah announced.

I finished eating my eggs and leaned back in my chair eyeing her.

“It’s supposed to get up to about 65 to 70 degrees today. Spring is officially here!” she cheered knowing she needed to convince me more.

“You are more than welcome to go for a walk, Lilah. In fact, I think it’s a great idea. Then I can have the house to myself for a little bit.” I bared my teeth in a smile.

“Don’t be such an old man.” Lilah smirked. “It’ll be fun. It’ll be good for us.”

“We walk enough.” I complained. “And I didn’t use to be an old man… you made me this way the moment you first knocked on my door.”

Lilah stared at me with a serious expression.

I sighed, “Fine, we can go for a walk. This isn’t going to turn into a daily thing though, is it?”

“It can,” Lilah perked up, “I think that would be a great idea! Walking is excellent exercise.”

I rested my head on the table pushing my empty plate to the middle.

Lilah grabbed my plate and put it in the sink for me. I sat up slowly watching her with a close eye. I expected her to rinse the dishes and then place them in dishwasher; she couldn’t stand any mess and dirty dishes in the sink was a huge pet peeve of hers.

I had to wonder, did she remember…?

“AHH!” Lilah shrieked the moment she turned on the faucet.

I grinned so wide my face began to hurt.

Lilah turned around with her arms held out as though she herself was contaminated. A huge wet spot stained her blouse. She narrowed her eyes at me. “Don’t you say a word.”

I began to laugh. “Karma!”

Short Story Sunday #51

TIME TRAVELER

            I didn’t think it would work. So, when I stepped through the portal and I realized that I was in an unfamiliar place, I was beyond astonished. I was amazed that the portal had succeeded. I was in awe at the place I ended up in. I was confused on how I was going to get back and what I was supposed to do from there. I didn’t know where I was or where I was supposed to go. I turned around to look behind me and the portal was gone.

He never told me how I was supposed to come back. Maybe he wasn’t very confident that it would work, either.

There wasn’t anyone around. However, if the portal worked as well as it I thought it did, then that meant I was well into the future. For all I knew, people didn’t exist anymore. I shivered. What a scary thought; being in the future when I was from the past and having no human life around me. I would be all alone in this unfamiliar place which looked nothing like my hometown anymore. What a difference 30 years made!

I noticed a red box sitting on the side of the side walk. It looked like one of those old-fashioned blue mailboxes, but it wasn’t a mailbox. I peered inside through the glass and saw a stack of newspapers. The date read November 22, 2044. Yes, I was certainly 30 years into the future. The portal had definitely worked.

I heard a loud bang coming from behind me. I jumped startled and hid behind the newspaper box. I didn’t know who was behind me, what the noise was, or how much trouble I was about to be in. Peering over the top of the newspapers, I saw a circle of blue electricity with white swirling around it. It whirred like a vacuum cleaner. I stood up taller and slowly inched my way towards it. It was the portal.

Should I go through it? Was this William trying to bring me back home? What if I stepped through it and it brought me someplace else? What if this was a completely different portal?

Before I could think any further, a man emerged out of the circle of light. It was William. The moment he came out of the portal, it disappeared.

I ran over to him with my arms stretched out wide. I wrapped my arms around his neck in a big hug and beamed at me.

“It worked, William! You’re portal worked!” I exclaimed.

“Yes it did,” William panted, “and I’m glad to see that you’re safe, Ariana.”

“Yes, I’m fine. Why did you follow me here?” I wondered.

“I wanted to make sure that it worked. I was afraid that if I accidentally brought you into some abyss dimension that you would be hurt or… dead. I came here looking for you.” William explained.

“If I was dead, then you would be dead too.” I glared at him. “What a stupid thing to do!”

“Well, we may as well be as good as dead.” William rubbed the back of his neck. He turned around and looked at the spot where the portal have been. “I have no idea how to get ourselves back. I don’t have my lab here so I don’t think there’s a way to get us back unless someone from the past is controlling the portal for us. We have no idea to get in touch with the past, though.”

I frowned looking down at the ground.

“We’ll figure something out, though.” William tried to reassure me.

“Let’s see if we can find your lab here. It might look different, but there might still be something there. We’re 30 years into the future, but you might still be living in the same place.” I suggested.

William shook his head, “If I am still living in the same place, we can’t just waltz up to my future self and explained what happened.”

“Why not? It’s the future; he might remember coming here and going back home.” I shrugged my shoulders.

“It’s not good for people who meddle with time, Ariana. We shouldn’t have done this in the first place.” William grumbled to himself. He was seriously regretting his invention now.

“It’s worth a shot. What plan do you have?” Ariana placed both hands on her hips glaring at him.

William finally nodded his head reluctantly agreeing.

Together, William and I wandered through the streets of our hometown. We were in awe at how much the place has changed. However, there were no cars or people around. It made us a bit nervous because we weren’t sure if we were the only people in town. If that was the case, where did everyone go and why?

As we continued walking down the road, we came across a cemetery. I glanced at a few of the headstones as we walked by. I wanted to see if I recognized any names. I knew my elderly neighbor wasn’t doing so well, so I assumed that he was most likely dead in 30 years. However, two names that I saw surprised me.

“William!” I shrieked.

William stopped like a deer in the headlights and looked at me nervously. “What? What is it?”

“Look,” I pointed to two headstones.

One was my grave and the one next to it was William’s grave.

William’s jaw dropped when he saw it. He was 25-years-old and I was 23-years old. Now that we were 30 years into the future, his future self should have been 55-years-old and my future self should have been 53-years-old. According to our graves, we had both died 10 years ago.

“I died at the age of 45 and you died at the age of 43… we were so young. What happened to us?” William looked at me.

“Look,” I pointed again, “we both died on the same day.”

William scratched the top of his head. “I guess we won’t be finding me at my lab….”

Short Story Sunday #45

MUSE

            It’s high time you stopped making up excuses and just write that novel! You have a wonderful idea with an intriguing plot, thorough characters, a developed fictional world, and everything else that is key in a novel. So you can’t tell me that your idea is crap because it’s not.

“I don’t have the time to write it, though.”

No, don’t give me that nonsense. You work every single morning until two o’clock in the afternoon. Then you stuff your face with food and watch TV. I think you can get a bit of writing done after work.

“I’m tired after work.”

Aren’t we all? All I’m asking is that you write just a little bit. It would be nice if you could write about five pages. Five pages isn’t that bad when it’s double-spaced. Maybe you could even write 1,000 words… that’s less than five pages, I think. Actually, just write one sentence.

Yes, that’s right. That’s all I’m asking you to do. Just write one sentence a day and if you write more than one, then that’s great! Eventually, you’ll end up getting into a writing routine and then we won’t have to have this problem anymore.

“I can’t get into a writing routine because I have writer’s block.”

How did we just start this conversation? I told you that you have a great idea in your head. You have some of the characters laid out, you know where you want them to go and what you want them to do. So what’s the problem?

“It’s a lot to remember. I’m going to forget some of it as I write.”

You’re exasperating, you know that? This is why you need to write. It. Down. What have I been teaching you all these years? What have I been trying to tell you for the past hour?

I can tell right off the bat that you are not a pantser, so I’m not even going to make you try.

“What’s a pantser?”

Don’t interrupt me.

You need to plan out your novel. You need to make an outline. I want you to make a list of all the characters that are running around in your head. I want you to describe the setting of the novel whether you just describe the beginning setting or a few scenes from the novel. That way you’ll already have the picture in your mind as you write it out.

Speaking of the scenes, I want you write down all the scenes you can think of that will happen in the book. Just write them down in any order. Then you can read through them and number them in whatever order you want. It’ll help you look at the big picture.

“That sounds like an awful lot of work…”

Are you kidding me? You’re being ridiculous right now. Do you want to write a novel?

“Yes.”

Then get started already!

What day is it today? It’s Saturday. What are you doing? You’re doing absolutely nothing. I think you need to sit down at your desk, turn on that laptop, and start writing. Or you should start outlining. I’ll leave that up to you even though I highly recommend that you do an outline first. If you don’t, I can only imagine all the frustration and procrastination that I’m going to have to deal with later.

Are you listening to me?

“I just don’t think I’m cut out to be a writer. My writing isn’t good enough.”

Now how do you know that? Can you suddenly predict the future? No! No one’s writing is good enough at first. Why do you think writers write drafts upon drafts upon drafts of one novel? It’s because the first draft is always crap. But I’ll tell you one thing: I can’t remember who said it first, but a person once said, “Every first draft is perfect because it is written.”

Do you understand?

“No.”

Of course not… it’s like I’m talking to a brick wall.

The point of first drafts is just to get the idea down on the paper. No one is looking for it to be a best-seller because the first draft is basically for your eyes only… unless you ask someone to edit it for you. That’s beside the point, though.

The point of the first draft is for you to flush out the characters, the plot, and the entire dynamic of the novel.

“Isn’t that what the outline is for?”

Now you’re getting it!

Yes, but the first draft is a more detailed outline, I guess you could say. You write the outline, then follow that outline to write the first draft. Then you edit the first draft and write the second draft. Editing is when the real writing begins.

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

It does, if you’ll just open your mind and understand. But I won’t discuss editing with you right now. Are you going to give it a shot or not?

“I just don’t have any motivation right now.”

No motivation?! What have I been trying to do the past 12 hours? I’ve been trying to pep talk you into writing… I’ve been motivating you!

“It has not been 12 hours. Stop being over-dramatic.”

Creative minds are over-dramatic. Get over it.

Sit down at your desk and get that outline done or start writing that first draft. I’ll leave that up to you. On your mark… get set…

“How am I supposed to start this idea when I don’t feel like it, though?”

A real writer doesn’t wait for inspiration. A real writer writes at anytime at anyplace because it needs to get written.

“I don’t have any support for this, though. No one else thinks I can write a novel. I don’t even have an imaginary muse to help me get through all this.”

I am your support system. Take everything I say into consideration. Take all the advice I give to you. Listen to me.

I am your muse.

Short Story Sunday #44

BLACKBOARD

            It was my first day of college. I kept telling people that I wasn’t nervous, but I kind of was. I didn’t know any of the people in my class, I didn’t know how nice the professor was going to be, and I certainly didn’t know how tough the class was going to be, either. People always warn you that college is harder than high school. I wasn’t too sure if I was going to be prepared for the amount of homework I was most likely going to get. Plus, I was taking four classes. So I had to go through all this three more times before the day was over.

I sat down at a small wooden desk way in the back of the class. I was the last seat in the first row. I wanted to be in the back so that no one could see me. I didn’t want the professor calling on me for answers whether I had my hand raised or not. Yet, I still sat in the first row because I wanted to be as close to the door as possible just in case I needed to make a quick getaway. Depending on how the class goes today, I was sure that I was going to end up bolting it out of the room as soon as the class was over.

When I entered the classroom there were only a handful of students already in the room. The class didn’t start for another ten minutes. I wanted to be early so that I could get a feel for the place and also so that I was able to get the seat of my choice. I didn’t want all the good seats to be taken.

The professor entered the room about five minutes before class started and since then a few more students trickled into the room. When there were about 11 of us sitting in the room before the professor, he looked up at the clock and shrugged his shoulders.

“We’ll wait a couple more minutes for some more students to stroll on in and then we’ll get started.” He announced.

I nodded my head, but no one else seemed to pay any attention to what the professor said. A few people were texting under their desks; some were doodling in their notebooks. Some of them didn’t even have notebooks or pens or their textbooks. Why did they even bother to show up for class?

I watched the professor gather his things out of his briefcase. He placed a laptop on his desk, took out the textbook and a notebook. He opened the textbook to a certain page and then he opened his notebook. I could see the notebook was filled with scribbles and notes. Holding it in one hand, he took a piece of chalk in the other and began to write a few notes down on the blackboard.

I lifted an eyebrow. At this day and age the college still had blackboards with messy chalk? I was paying the school a lot of money to take these classes and they couldn’t afford to have the school buy brand new white boards? In fact, why were we using a blackboard—or a white board—at all? Most of the notes and lectures were online anyway. Why did we even have to bother coming to class in the first place? We should have been able to do the class online.

“Okay, let’s get started.” The professor stated as he looked up at the clock once more It was exactly eight o’clock which was when class was supposed to start. Only about three more students came into the classroom since then making fourteen of us all together. I had a feeling there were supposed to be more students in the class. It was one thing to come to class unprepared, but to come late on the first day? What was wrong with these people?

“I’m Professor Calvin Andrews… you can just call me Calvin. Or Professor Andrews. Or Professor Calvin, I guess. Whatever you’re most comfortable with.” Professor Andrews explained. At least he seemed to be laid back. That was a good sign.

“We’re not going to do too much today. We’re just going to get to know each other a little bit and learn a little about the class. Does everyone have their textbooks?”

I nodded my head, but I was the only one who responded. Looking around the room I noticed some kids had their textbooks on their desk, some were taking it out of their bags, and others… were still texting under their desks.

“There’s an introductory chapter in the textbook that explains the textbook and basically what this class is about. While I pass out the syllabus I want you all to read that chapter silently to yourselves.” He explained.

I skimmed the chapter, I’ll admit. Others seemed to skim it as well. Some were actually reading it and some opened the book to the correct pages, but were only pretending to read it. The students who didn’t have their books were still texting with nothing on their desks. Professor Andrews didn’t seem to notice… either that or he didn’t care.

The person in front of me passed the syllabus back to me. It was a rather thick packet. I thumbed through the pages and looked at it with disgust.

I looked up hearing the chalk scrap against the blackboard. Professor Andrews was writing something down on it about the homework we were going to have that night. I thought we were just going to get to know each other and what the class is about? I didn’t see any point in having homework on the first day of classes.

I sighed and opened my notebook. I began to copy everything down from the blackboard into my notebook. It was better to have everything written whether I needed to know it or not.

One class down, three to go.

Short Story Sunday #43

GLOVES

            “Oh, nice gloves.” My friend felt my hands staring in awe at the black leather gloves I was wearing.

“Thanks,” I smiled.

“Where did you get them?”

“I found them in the lost and found at school.”

“Wait,” my friend paused and took a step back. “You mean to tell me that these gloves don’t even belong to you?”

“Yep,” I beamed. I admired my hands. The gloves were soft on the inside and shiny on the outside. They were pretty to look at and comfortable to wear. I knew it was wrong to take something that wasn’t yours, but they hadn’t been claimed in a while. No one was going to miss them.

“You found them in the lost and found and just decided that it would be a good idea if you took them?” my friend lifted a suspicious eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest.

“What’s the big deal?” I shrugged my shoulders. “They had been sitting in the lost and found for two weeks. If no one claimed them, they the school was just going to get rid of them. I thought this way; the gloves would have a proper home.”

“You have been checking the lost and found for two weeks?” my friend rolled her eyes. “You’re ridiculous.”

“I checked the lost and found because I accidentally left my homework folder behind in the cafeteria at lunch. I found it, but then I also found these gloves. I was going to take them right away, but I didn’t think that would be right.” I explained.

“Oh, how big of you,” my friend scoffed. “You know it’s not right to be taking the gloves even after two weeks, either. When if the person doesn’t realize that they’re missing?”

“Then they won’t miss the gloves, will they? They’ll have no idea someone else took from the lost and found box.” I retorted.

“What if the owner was absent from school for the past two weeks and they weren’t able to claim them? What if they come back from school tomorrow and something and they start to look for the gloves only to realize that they’re gone.” My friend interrogated me.

“What do you care?” I glared at her. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She was trying to make me feel guilty when I didn’t really do anything wrong. Once an item was in the lost and found for a while it was fair game. It could belong to whoever claimed it first. That’s how it usually went. People grabbed items that weren’t theirs all the time. They didn’t even bother to wait two weeks, either. They would just take it.

“Do you realize how many items I’ve lost because people just grab out of the lost and found box?” I remarked trying to sound smart.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right.” She explained. “Besides, you barely lose anything and if you do you go looking for it right away. The lost and found box is always the first place you look, too. People don’t really get a chance to take your stuff.”

“Then what am I supposed to do then? Bring the gloves back to the lost and found? They’re just going to sit there and rot. Either that or someone else will like them and snatch them up. That someone else being not the actual owner of the gloves,” I stated with an annoyed attitude.

“Or they could go back in the lost and found box and be given to the rightful owner. You never know.” My friend folded her arms across her chest and stared at me expectantly.

I didn’t understand why, but I had the feeling that she was never going to let this go. If I didn’t bring the gloves back to the lost and found then I was never going to hear the end of it. She was going to get angry with me for stealing someone else’s things and I would forever feel guilty about wearing these wonderful gloves.

“Fine,” I rolled my eyes.

Together we made our way to the lost and found box. I took the gloves off and checked the tag in one of them.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I want to know where the gloves were bought. I would like to get a pair.” I stated. I tossed them back into the box with a sigh when I couldn’t find the source of where they came from.

“Well maybe you could ask the owner.” My friend suggested.

“Right. How am I going to know who the owner is when no one has claimed the gloves?” I snarled.

My friend picked the gloves up from the box and put them on her hands. She looked and me and smiled. “I got them from the discount clothing store around the corner from my house. Great price for them, too.”

“Wait…” I was puzzled.

“I must have dropped my gloves on the way out of school two weeks ago when I got sent home from being sick. Remember I was out the past two weeks with pneumonia?” my friend was still smiling at me. She had known the entire time that the gloves were hers.

“Oh,” I rubbed the back of my neck in embarrassment. “Why didn’t you just tell me that the gloves were yours?”

“Would you have really believed me?” she shot back.

I shook my head. In all honesty I probably would have thought that she was just trying to get her hands on the gloves because she liked them just as much as I did.

“After school we can go to the discount store together. We’ll buy you a pair. How does that sound?” my friend suggested.

“I think that sounds like an excellent plan!” I smiled at her. “Oh… and sorry for trying to steal your gloves…” I snickered.

Short Story Sunday #42

PUPPY LOVE

            “Asher, no! Stop! Down, heel!”

Colin chased his Beagle puppy, Asher, around the house, holding a leash and harness in one hand, and trying to catch falling objects with his other. Asher was full of energy and didn’t seem to notice anything was in his way. He knocked over everything in the house, he ate whatever he could find, and he never slept; there was simply just too much to explore.

“Colin, Asher doesn’t know what any of those commands mean.” His mother was leaning against the doorway with her arms folded across her chest. Her gaze followed Asher throughout the entire living room, but she never seemed to flinch when Asher ran into something causing a loud crash or something to fall.

“I don’t know what else to do!” Colin shouted in a panic. “Asher, come here!”

Asher paused for a brief moment to scratch behind his ears. He looked up at Colin panting, with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Colin slowed his pace and closed in around Asher, who resulted in play-bowing with his front paws stretched out and his wagging tail high in the air. He still panted pretty heavily, but he wasn’t ready to give up.

“I told you Beagles have high energy. You wanted to get him though.” Colin’s mother tried not to laugh.

“You told me that… yes… but I still don’t regret getting him.” Colin countered in between breaths.

“No, of course not; he’s adorable and so loveable.” His mother cooed at Asher’s cuteness. “I’m just saying that I warned you. That’s all,”

Colin dove to grab Asher. He needed the dog to stop running around the living room like a maniac, but Colin also needed to bring Asher outside to let him go the bathroom. If Colin’s father found anymore presents in the house from Asher, Colin was surely going to hear from it. His mother didn’t seem to mind, though. She said that was all part of taking care of a puppy and training it.

Asher darted to the side causing Colin to hit the ground hard. The dog ran towards the exit right where Colin’s mother was standing, but she stepped in the way. Asher didn’t bother to try to get around her; he seemed to know almost instantly that he had lost that battle. So he turned right around and began to do laps in the living room once more.

Colin stood up scratching the back of his head. His jaw dropped as he glared at his mother.

“You totally had him! Why didn’t you just pick him up and hand him over to me?”

“You said that taking care of a puppy would be your responsibility and that would be… what phrase did you use? Oh, easy-peasy.” She mocked her son with a smile. “I’m all for helping you out with this dog, but I want you to try first.”

“Okay, fine.” Colin sighed. “Well, I’ve been trying for the past 15 minutes. Asher is still running wild and he doesn’t look like he’s going to be losing steam anytime soon. Me on the other hand is out of breath and tired. May I pass the torch to you?” he held up the leash and harness, but his mother shook her head.

“You need to try a little longer. Asher is your dog. He needs to get used to listening to you.” She explained.

“He needs to listen to you and dad, too.” Colin retorted.

“Yes, but you’re his master.” She looked over at Asher with a smirk.

Asher was sitting in the corner of the room watching Colin. He was waiting for Colin to start chasing him again. This was all a game to him.

Colin took a deep breath. He tossed the leash and harness onto the cabinet a foot away from him and then sat down on the floor. He opened his arms wide. “Come and get me, Asher!”

Immediately, Asher sprang into action. He leaped into the air charging straight for his owner. He jumped on top of Colin and began to lick him all over his face.

Colin rolled along the floor with him laughing and playing.

His mother shook his head with a chuckle. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind, but I guess we’ll have to work on that later.”

Colin sat up with his arm around Asher’s waste. He picked the puppy up and when Asher realized what was going on, he immediately began to wriggle and squirm trying to get back down to the ground.

“Whoa!” Colin struggled to keep hold of Asher.

“Okay, I guess I’ll help you now.” Colin’s mother entered the room and grabbed the harness. She handed it off to Colin and held Asher in her arms. She stroked him and he instantly calmed down.

“How…?” Colin’s eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped again.

“Ask later; Asher is ready for his leash and harness. Don’t delay or you might miss your chance.” His mother explained.

Obeying, Colin managed to strap the harness around Asher’s neck and belly without the Beagle letting out any protests.

“I’m going to put him down and you can hold him by the harness while you strap on his leash.” His mother explained.

Colin took Asher by the rings on top of the harness and hooked the leash onto it. He then stood up holding one end of the leash and smiled down at Asher feeling accomplished. Asher on the other hand realized what just happened and began to scratch and bite at the harness. Colin sighed.

“He’ll get used to it.” His mother stated.

“Come on, Asher. Let’s go out.” Colin stated. He tugged at the leash and Asher followed Colin. When he did, Colin noticed a wet spot on the carpet right when Asher was sitting.

“Aw…” Colin groaned.

His mother laughed. “I guess it took you too long to get that leash and harness on. Oh, well. Take him out anyway. He’ll learn soon enough. You both will.”

Short Story Sunday #41

FUNERAL

            I didn’t think it was going to happen so soon. One minute, she was with me and the next moment she was gone. I didn’t fully understand what happened to her and to be quite honest, I didn’t care too much. I just wanted her to come back, but I knew all too well that she wasn’t going to. Standing in front of her open casket was probably the toughest moment of my entire life.

When I got the phone call at four o’clock in the morning, I knew something was wrong with someone. That’s what usually happens when you get a phone call in the middle of the night… it usually means that something terrible happened to one of your family members or friends.

In this case, it was my daughter.

It took me a moment to realize that the ringing was the phone and not my alarm clock. I kept trying to shut the alarm off, groaning that it was already time to wake up when I in fact still had two hours left.

“It’s the phone.” My husband whispered as he rolled himself out of bed. I clearly wasn’t going to be moving anytime soon.

“The phone?” I sat up straight in my bed and watched my husband walk out into the kitchen. Who would be calling us at such an early hour?

Well, I was certainly awake now. I jumped out of bed, threw on my bathrobe, and rushed into the kitchen after my husband.

“It’s… the hospital.” He announced with great confusion as he read the caller I.D.

“The hospital? Why is the hospital calling us now? We don’t know anyone who is in the hospital.” I panicked.

“Shush,” he picked up the phone.

He wasn’t on the phone with the nurse very long, but it seemed like an eternity to me. We didn’t know anyone in the hospital at the time, so I assumed they had just gotten the wrong number. However, you don’t talk to the nurses over the phone for very long if they don’t have any of your family members with them.

My husband hung up the phone and slowly turned his head to look at me.

“What? What is it?” I put a hand to my mouth gasping.

“It’s Maria… go get dressed and I’ll explain everything on the way.”

I had just seen my daughter Maria the previous day. She was fine. Nothing was wrong with her. We had a great time together. We went out to the mall for our Christmas shopping. It was an annual tradition for us to get our Christmas shopping done together. It was a great bonding time for the two of us.

Ever since she turned 18 and went to live at her college campus, we didn’t get a chance to see each other very often. Sure, she called every night to say hello, but it just wasn’t the same. She worked while she was in college, too. She slowly saved her money so when she graduated; she found a small apartment for herself. I never thought that my one and only child would move out at the exact age of 18. Don’t most children end up moving out in their early 20s due to money issues? I guess I should have been happy my daughter didn’t have money problems and that she was able to leave the nest at the normal age of 18.

That was where she met her fiancé. He had the apartment right next door to her. Eventually, he moved into her apartment to save some money on rent. His best friend ended up moving into his old apartment and the formed a small group together.

While Christmas shopping, Maria told me they finally set a date for the wedding. She had one more payment left to go for her school loans. She and her fiancé were close to saving enough for a down payment on a house. She left the nest a long time ago, but she was officially able to start her life now. I was happy for her.

“She was driving herself home from the mall yesterday and another car hit her. He was texting and driving.” My husband explained to me as we hopped into our own car to get to the hospital.

I didn’t have many words then because I was too much in shock. I didn’t believe a word he was saying. I had walked Maria to her car and watched her pull out of her parking space and drive away. How was I to know that she was going to get hit by a car just moments after?

Now that I was standing next to her open casket I had many things I wanted to say, but couldn’t voice through the tears and the lump in my throat.

Maybe if I had just waited a few more seconds before allowing her to leave. If I had just made one more idle conversation and asked her what her plans were for the rest of the day, it would have taken her long enough to tell me that the driver would have already been long gone.

Maybe if I didn’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk to tie my shoe. If I only I decided to tie my shoe in my car after Maria left. Maria would have been in her car and on the road long before the texting driver was even able to get near the mall.

A moment earlier, a few moments later… would it have really mattered? Would Maria still be here with me if I didn’t tie my shoe or if I stuck up one last conversation? There are plenty of drivers out there who text; who is to say one them wouldn’t have crashed into her?

My husband put both hands on my shoulders and massaged them. “The wake is over; let’s go home and get some rest. We’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”

Short Story Sunday #40

I’M HERE

            I’m waiting. I’m waiting to be allowed into the room. I’m waiting for the moment that I can finally see him. I’m waiting for someone to give me the okay, for someone to tell me that everything is just fine.

I’m here. He doesn’t know it, but I’m here.

I’ve been waiting here for a very long time. It seems as though it’s been forever. I look at the clock. I haven’t really been waiting all that long. However, it has been an hour. That’s a long time to me. That’s a long time to wait.

Where is everyone? I am waiting in the room all by myself. No one has come around for a while now it seemed like. Well, actually it was only an hour. Still, it seemed to be a long time. I wish someone was sitting in the same room with me. Then I would have someone to talk to. Someone would be in the dark just like I was. Or maybe they would know what was going on and they would be able to tell me.

Time moves at the same pace all the time. People say it flies by when you’re having fun, but it’s not really flying by. You’re just not paying enough attention to the time and it only feels as though the time went on faster. It’s the same thing as if you’re expecting something. You’re full of anticipation. You’re waiting.

When you’re waiting, you continuously look at the clock. By watching the clock, the time goes by slowly. A watched pot never boils, my mother used to always say to me. The thing is, the time isn’t really moving slower now that you’re staring at the clock. It’s moving at the same pace, but it just feels slower because we want it to move faster.

Waiting is one of the worst feelings in the world, I think. I think that’s why time appears to move slowly because you don’t know. You don’t know what is going to come next. You don’t know what is going on. You don’t know anything. By not knowing anything, you get nervous. You get scared.

You fear the unknown.

That is exactly what is happening to me right now. I am in fear of the unknown. I wish someone would just come into my room and tell me what was going on outside. I wish someone would come into my room and keep my company while I wait. I wish someone would bring him into my room with a smile on their face and tell me that everything was fine.

Why did they have to take him out of the room? Why couldn’t I go with him? Why couldn’t he have stayed with me? Why did this have to take so long? I am still waiting in my room. I am still watching the clock. Time is still moving at the same pace, but it appears to move slower than normal. Time is mocking me.

“Angela?”

I sit upright in my bed and wince from the pain, but I don’t dare to lie back down. I look to my right and see my husband standing in the doorway.

“Where have you been?” I demand. “What is going on out there? Why has everyone left me? Is everything okay? Is everyone okay? Is Nicholas okay?”

My husband chuckles and sits down on the side of my bed. He takes my right hand in his own, careful not to poke the IV needle stuck inside my wrist.

“Everyone and everything is just fine. Nicholas is doing wonderful as well. They took him out of the room to run a few tests on him because–”

“Tests?” I panic. “What kind of tests? What’s wrong with him? What happened? You just said that everything was fine!”

He kisses me on the forehead. He’s still smiling. Why is he smiling?

“They run these tests on every newborn. Everything came back fine, though. Nicholas is in a room with a lot of other babies with our family and friends peeking in through the windows to stare at him in awe at how beautiful he is… at how much he looks like his mother.” My husband explains to me.

I smile. He sure did have a way with words. Then I glare at him. “Well, why did everyone leave me? I thought something was terribly wrong. Why didn’t anyone come in and tell me what was happening? Why didn’t anyone stay in here with me?”

“You fell asleep.” He explains. “We decided to leave the room and let you have some privacy. We all thought you could use the rest after being in labor for 26 hours.”

“Oh,”

I leaned back against my pillow with my husband stroking my hair. I sat upright once more and looked him in the eyes. “Well, I want to see Nicholas. I want to get out of this room and go see him.”

I try to climb out of bed, but my husband blocks my path and gently pushes me back down on my pillow.

“Nicholas will be brought in here in about five minutes for you to feed him. Our family and friends will come say their goodbyes and then you’ll have Nicholas and me all night long. Does that sound like a good plan?”

I smile and lean all the way back in my bed once more. “Yes, that does sound like a good plan.” I close my eyes.

“Don’t fall back to sleep.” He warns.

I did fall back to sleep. When I woke up, Nicholas was in his arms ready to be fed. What a beautiful baby. He did look like his mother indeed.

Short Story Sunday #39

EVIDENCE

            “As you can see, this was no ordinary death. If you look at the way the body is positioned, one can clearly see that this gentlemen did not die at this location. The body was moved from somewhere. Now the question is,” the woman detective took a deep breath rubbing her temples as she glanced down at the limp old man lying on the ground, “where did he die?”

“Why was his body moved in the first place? From that alone we can assume he was murdered.” The male detective paced with his hands clasped behind his back. He looked up at the crowd of police officers before him. “This poor old man must not have died from natural causes or even suicide… otherwise, why would someone move the body?”

“But we can’t prove that just yet. We are unsure of how the man died. There are no marks on his body other than a few scrapes from being dragged from one spot to another.” His partner countered. She pointed to a few spots on the man’s cold body and then inspected the ground around him. “I can’t even tell which direction his body came from.”

“We’re just going to have to wait for forensics and the coroner to arrive, that’s all.” The male detective clenched his hands into fists and placed them firmly on his hips as though he were Superman.

“Who found the body, anyway? Who called it in?” the woman stood up and scanned the crowd of police officers.

“A young woman called it in, Detective Deade.” One of the police officers raised his hand slightly to show that he was the one speaking.

“Who is this young woman? Is she still here for questioning?” Detective Deade pressed.

“Yes,” the officer dipped his head and turned around to walk away, “I’ll go get her.”

“Perfect!” Detective Deade clapped her hands together. “What do you think about all of this, Detective Phisher?”

“I find it a bit odd,” Detective Phisher stroked his chin, “we haven’t had a murder around here in years. So, I would like to think it wasn’t a murder. However, then there would be no reason for someone to move the body.”

“Maybe it’s a prank? Maybe someone found the body and moved it to fool with us.” Detective Deade suggested.

“If that’s the case, then we’re looking for a psycho who could potentially turn into a killer. That’s a pretty sick game to play, you know? Either way, we’re looking for a criminal.” Detective Phisher let out an exasperated sigh.

“Her name is Rhonda Wirer. She was the old man’s wife.” The officer came back with a petite old lady walking behind him. She looked around nervously, her eyes not meeting the gaze of either detective or her husband’s dead body.

“Let’s chat over here, shall we?” Detective Deade caught on to this and pointed away from the dead body.

“I understand that this is going to be a little difficult, but if you just answer all of our questions truthfully, then we’ll be able to figure out what happened to your husband.” Detective Phisher explained.

“Oh, I know what happened to Carl.” Rhonda rasped. She let out a cough and then glared at the two detectives standing before her. “He was murdered!”

“Please keep your voice down.” Detective Deade glanced over to the other police officers and a small crowd of citizens forming. They were now looking over at the two detective’s and Rhonda.

“Suppose he was murdered,” Detective Phisher believed he was murdered, but he didn’t want to admit anything to the public just yet. “How do you know he was murdered? Do you know who killed him?”

“I did,” Rhonda replied bluntly.

Detective Phisher and Detective Deade exchanged confused expression. Detective Deade had one hand on her gun in her holster while Detective Phisher folded his arms over his chest and stared the old woman down.

“Come again?” Detective Deade glared at the woman.

“Uh, I think we should continue this questioning down at the station, shall we?” Detective Phisher suggested. “It will be more private and we’ll have more time.”

“Yes, I think that’s a good idea.” Detective Deade agreed taking her hand off of her holster.

“If we leave, then how am I supposed to show you were I hid the body?” Rhonda questioned. “Besides, I said I was the one who killed him… I didn’t say anything about my moving the body. Whoever touched Carl after I killed him… well, I’ll kill them too!”

Detective Deade and Detective Phisher stared at the old woman with both their mouths hanging open.

“You can explain it all to us down at the station.” Detective Phisher decided.

“Then how are you going to catch whoever moved the body? They’ll be long gone by the time we finished questioning down at the station!” Rhonda complained.

“Wait, you make it sound as though the body was moved recently.” Detective Deade replied stopping Detective Phisher from walking away.

“It was. I only killed Carl about an hour ago. Someone must have moved the body recently. I called the police to tell them about the killing and right before you guys arrived, the body was in the middle of the street. I found the body, but not like that where it is now.” Rhonda explained calmly.

“We have an interesting case on our hands to say the least.” Detective Deade murmured to her partner.

“Officer Collins, please bring Rhonda Wirer down to the station for questioning. Hold her in the interrogation room. Detective Deade and I have a little more investigating to do out here.” Detective Phisher ordered.

“For not having a murder around here in a long time, we sure got stuck with an interesting one.” Detective Deade sighed.

Short Story Sunday #38

GO

            I am always on the go whether I have to go to work, go to school, run some errands, clean the house, or I have to help someone with something. There is no down time for me. People complain that I am constantly busy. They tell me that I need to calm down and relax. I don’t really know how to relax, though. When I do get a moment of peace, I try to find something else for me to do so that I can keep busy. I don’t like relaxing. It’s boring to me.

Every morning I wake up, I clean some part of the house, I go to work for six and half hours, and then I come back home to do homework. All my classes are online, so even though I don’t have to physically be anywhere, I get a lot of homework. I’m usually up late trying to finish, even though I never procrastinate. There is just too much to do in such little time.

So, it was finally winter break. This is the two weeks that everyone looks forward to the most; myself included. The only problem was that since I was a teacher, I got these two weeks off. So I didn’t have work. The semester ended, so I had an entire month to relax before the spring semester started. So I didn’t have any homework either.

That was pretty much all I did with my life at the time. I woke up, went to work, did homework, went to bed, and then repeat. Now that I didn’t have to wake up early every morning to go to work, I slept in. Now that I didn’t have to worry about getting my homework done by the following week, I could actually sit down in front of the TV and watch a good movie. I could make a cup of coffee and read a good book. I could start and finish reading an entire novel in one day if I really wanted to.

I wasn’t busy anymore and I kind of liked it that way.

“What are up to tomorrow? Do you want to hang out?” my friend had called me the day after Christmas. We discussed how our holidays went and called to catch up.

She didn’t work because she lived at her school, which was out of state. She had just gotten home for the holiday break about a week before and this was the first time I was hearing from her. It was hard to keep in touch when both of us are busy, let alone not even being in the same state.

“Well, I don’t know.” I sighed rubbing the back of my neck. She couldn’t see me, but I was scanning my house with a disgusted look upon on my face. After Christmas, my house kind of got a little disorganized with all the gifts I had received. I hadn’t really been keeping up with the house cleaning, either. I had been too busy relaxing just like everyone always told me to.

“What do you mean you don’t know? We haven’t seen each other since the summer. Don’t tell me you’re too busy to see your best friend.” She sounded exasperated already and we were only on the phone for about five minutes.

“No, it’s not that I’m too busy. Actually, it’s because I’m not busy at all. I haven’t really been keeping up with everything lately.” I explained.

“What’s wrong? You’re not sick or anything, are you?” she questioned.

“No,” I shook my head, “it’s just that I haven’t had the chance to relax like this in a long time. I kind of like it. And because of that, I haven’t been keeping up on my housework or anything else that needs to be done.”

She chuckled on the other end. “You do realize that you have a lot of opportunities to relax… you just never take them.”

“No, I was just saving them. Now I’m cashing them all in at once.”

“Don’t go crazy.”

“Trust me, I’m not. Isn’t that was relaxing is?”

“Let me come over tomorrow. We can relax together. How does that sound?” she suggested.

“My house is a mess…” I sighed.

“So what? I’ve seen it messy and I’ve seen it clean. Besides, you’ve seen my house. I’m pretty sure my house is much worse than yours.” She stated.

“Hmm… good point,” I muttered.

“I heard that,” she deadpanned. “What time would you like me to come over?”

“Whenever,” I shrugged.

We didn’t say much after that. As soon as we hung up the phone, I looked around my house. There were dirty dishes in the kitchen sink because the dishwasher was full of clean dishes that needed to be put away. There were dirty clothes overfilling the laundry basket and were dropping onto the floor because there was still a load in the dryer and another load in the washer that I didn’t feel like finishing. My bed wasn’t made, the living room hadn’t been vacuumed in a while, and the dining room hadn’t been dusted in a long time.

“How in the world have I been living like this?” I gaped at myself.

Needless to say, when my friend came over the next day I ended up cleaning the entire house beforehand. She was in shock, but she wasn’t really surprised. I was brought back to reality when she called me on the phone.

However, I didn’t go back to my old ways. I cleaned the entire house for my friend, she came over and we did in fact relax together. We had some drinks, chatted about school and my work, and even watched a couple of movies. The next day, I cleaned up after our night together and then went ahead and took a hot, bubble bath. It was the best of both worlds.

Short Story Sunday #37

FOUND

            It wasn’t mine. I wasn’t entirely sure who it belonged to, but I found it. If I was the one who found it then that must mean that it was mine, right? If the person who previously owed it really wanted it, then they wouldn’t have lost it. Or maybe they lost it by accident, but they surely would have come back looking for it. Am I right?

I wonder who this belonged to in the first place. I wonder how they lost it. I wonder how long ago they lost it. Seriously, how long has this item been sitting in the middle of the sidewalk? How long has it been missing from its owner? Do they realize they lost it?

My mom always told me that if I found something that didn’t belong to me, I should turn it in to someone. If I found a lunchbox at school, I would have to give it to the teacher or the principal and they would find the rightful owner. You know how some people always ask you that hypothetical question like, “if you found a 100-dollar bill lying on the ground, what would you do? Keep it or take it to the police?”

I always told people I would turn it into the police. I mean, that is the answer they were looking for, right? There was nothing in the question that said I had to answer truthfully. I didn’t swear on the Bible or take an oath to answer a rhetorical question.

So, there I was face to face with this question that was in fact real. It was no longer hypothetical. I was in the situation for real. It wasn’t a dream. It also wasn’t a 100-dollar bill, which I had to admit I was pretty disappointed about. If it were a 100-dollar bill then there would be no question about it. I would pick it up, put it in my pocket, and walk away without another thought.

Yes, I did say I would bring it to the police, didn’t I? I know turning it in would be the right thing to do, but no one is perfect. Not everything does the right thing when they are supposed to. Besides, what are the police going to do with so much cash? The bill’s owner doesn’t have GPS on it. They can’t keep track down who dropped money while they were walking down the street. Why did they even drop it? We can’t figure that out, either.

I’m getting off topic, aren’t I?

How about this: when kids find something they always say finders-keepers, am I right? Can’t that rule apply to adults, too? The item was lost, the owner doesn’t seem like they’re coming back for it anytime soon, and I found it. So that means it’s mine. I think that makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s logical. Kids are so smart these days!

I was still standing in the middle of the sidewalk. I didn’t even bother to pick up the item because for some reason I was thinking so deeply into the matter. I walked over to the curb and sat down with my feet sticking out into the street. The road was quiet as it was in the middle of the day so most people were at work. There were barely any other people walking down the sidewalk, too. I’m sure if there, someone would have picked the item up by now.

I looked to the left and then to the right. A young woman was turning the corner holding onto a little boy’s hand. They were walking in my direction. I turned the other way as I didn’t want to make any eye contact with them. I needed to think.

Should I take the item and keep it? Should I take the item and try to find the rightful owner? Should I just leave the item on the ground and wait for someone else to come along and give them my troubles?

Am I thinking too deeply into this? Would anyone else sit on the side of the road and think about such an item on the ground in the middle of the sidewalk like I am? Would they just walk by, pick it up, and bring it home? Would they just walk by and leave it on the ground not bothering to give it another thought? Maybe other people would walk by and they wouldn’t even notice the item sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. I kind of wish I didn’t notice the item. Then I wouldn’t be so late for work at the moment.

I twisted my neck and peeked over my shoulder. Sure enough, the item was still sitting on the ground. It was mocking me. I felt as though it wanted me to take it home, but then I felt as though it was going to want to go back to its rightful owner. Someone was definitely going to be missing this item.

I turned back around and thought for a few more moments. After thinking and thinking and thinking some more, I finally stood up. I dusted myself off and turned back around to face the item on the ground.

I decided that I was going to end up taking the item home with me. Who knew how long it had been out here? It was only going to get ruined if no one claimed. So, I was going to claim it. Except… it was gone.

I looked left and then I looked right. The young woman with the little boy was turning the other corner, walking away from me. There, in the little boy’s hand I noticed the item.

He didn’t seem to think twice about picking up the item and taking it home with him. I had wasted too much time thinking and now I was never going to be able to get the item. It was gone. It was lost, but it had been found. Then I lost it. And the little boy found it.

Short Story Sunday #36

LATE ARRIVAL

            “Sorry I’m late. I didn’t want to come.” I smirked to the host as soon as she had opened the front door of her home. My hands were shoved into my pockets and my breath was rising into the air with every word I spoke.

“Well? Aren’t you going to let me in?” I winked.

“Oh, uh… sure.” The woman stepped aside making way for me through the doorway.

I stepped up off the porch and into the foyer looking all around the room. I nodded my approval and slid my jacket off my body. “So, how’s the party going so far?”

“It’s going well, thank you.” The woman held out her arms to take my jacket.

“Oh, well aren’t you a wonderful host.” I smiled mockingly.

She glared at me, but brought my trench coat over the closet and hung it up. She closed the double doors and pointed into the next room.

“Myself and all the other guests are in there having dinner. Won’t you care to join us?”

“Hm, depends… what are we having?” I stroked my chin with a raised eyebrow. “You know I don’t like anything too fancy. You didn’t cook lobster or sushi or anything like that, did you? Is there caviar or maybe a little escargot from your trip to France?”

“Michael, don’t do this tonight. Please?” She frowned at me sounding exasperated already and I had only just walked through the front door.

“Mike,” I corrected with a glare, “or Mikey. Remember you used to call me that even though I preferred Mike? I let you call me Mikey anyway because I liked you. And you liked me at some point too, if I recall correctly.”

“Mike,” she sighed, “I know you don’t exactly approve of this, but this is my engagement dinner. Can’t you please just support me and be happy for me?”

“No I can’t do that, Julie. Sorry.” I shrugged.

Julie closed her eyes and rubbed her temples while taking a few deep breaths. I kicked at the ground waiting for her to look at me again. For a moment, I felt ashamed for the way I was acting. Then again, she should have been marrying me… not her new boss!

“You don’t even like any of this stuff.” I stated. “You live in a big, fancy house with a butler, a maid, and a cook. You eat foods that you don’t even like. You go on trips that you have no interest in. Did you even like France?”

“It was… an interesting experience.” Julie stated matter-of-factly.

“In a bad way,” I rolled my eyes, “you two are complete opposites.”

“Opposites attract, didn’t you know that?” Julie commented.

“That only counts with science. This is chemistry we’re talking about.” I growled.

“Chemistry is science.”

“Not when we’re talking about people!”

“Keep your voice down.” Julie glanced into the other room. “I don’t want you to be making a scene.”

“I think your fiancé does a pretty good job at doing that on his own.” I grumbled.

“You’re just jealous because he got to me first.” Julie glared at me. “I invited you because we’ve been friends since we were children. You’re my best friend, Mike. You’re my biggest support system, you always have been. I’m able to tell you everything. I–”

“Then tell me the truth,” I interrupted, “do you love him?”

“Excuse me?”

“Answer the question.”

Julie stared at me with even eyes. It was difficult to read her expression or figure out what she was thinking. I couldn’t tell if she was hesitating because she in fact did not love her fiancé or if she was just trying to get out of answering because she thought I was utterly ridiculous.

“Do you love him?” I prompted.

“Maybe our friendship would have gone on to the next level if you weren’t such a child all the time.” Julie responded.

“That… had nothing to do with what I just asked you.” I said with a puzzled tone.

“Maybe if you had just got the courage to ask me then this engagement dinner would be for you and me. Did you ever think of that?” Julie frowned.

“I am thinking about it now. That’s why I’m asking… do you love your fiancé?” I took a step closer to Julie and stared down at her.

“It doesn’t matter whether I love Jack or not.” Julie looked up at me with a glare. “I am getting married to him and that doesn’t change the fact that you and I aren’t together. Don’t you understand that?”

I kissed her on the lips.

Julie took a step back with a look of horror. “Why did you do that?”

“A kiss usually gets the girl to come to her senses in the movies.” I shrugged and looked down at the ground. “Did it work?”

Julie opened her mouth to respond, but she looked passed me instead. I turned around and saw Jack standing in the doorway. How long had he been there? How much of our conversation did he hear? Did he see the kiss?

“Darling, are you coming back to the table? The guests are asking for you.” Jack looked right through me as he spoke to Julie.

“I’m attending to another guest out here.” Julie replied promptly.

“Yes, I can see that.” Jack glared at me.

“You can go back into the dining room, honey. I’ll be in there in a minute. Michael was just leaving.” Julie looked directly at her fiancé and didn’t dare to bring her eyes back in my direction.

“Good,” Jack stated and disappeared back into the dining room.

I took a deep breath and turned towards the front door. I didn’t have anything else to say to Julie. I didn’t even want to look at her. I put a hand on the door knob and then pointed to the closet.

“That trench coat was a gift from my mother… I’ll just take that with me, if you don’t mind.” I said to the door.

“Mikey,”

I turned and looked at Julie. She was holding my jacket out to me, her eyes filling with tears.

“I’ll have the maid help me pack. Wait for me in the car?”

Without any hesitation, I kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll leave the engine running.”

Short Story Sunday #35

CATS

            Oh, to be a kitty on a snowy day. It’s one thing to not have the responsibility of anything in the world, but to have the actual opportunity to relax whenever and where ever you want was a blessing in my eyes.

Cats had it so easy. They didn’t have to go to school, they didn’t have to go to work, they didn’t have to worry about money; they didn’t have to worry about anything that us humans have to worry about. The only things cats had to worry about were where their litter box was, who was going to fill up their food dish, licking themselves clean, and where to sleep. Oh, and maybe they worry about when they have to go to the vet next.

However, that doesn’t seem like a lot. I would love to sit around all day taking naps, only to wake when I was hungry. The most stressful thing in my life would be going to the vet.

It was the first week of November and snow was beginning to fall from the sky. It was the first snow fall of the season. People complained, but for once in a long time Mother Nature was actually being appropriate weather wise.

I had to go out in the snow. I had to go to church and teach my Sunday school class. When I left the house, it was cold, rainy, and raw out. I had a puffy winter, water-proof coat with my hood over my eyes as I watched the ground while walking to the car. I didn’t like the cold weather to begin with and adding rain to it was just making the day worse.

Of course, while I was at church snow began to fall. As the hour went on, the rain officially stopped and the snow continued coming down harder and harder. The flakes were a decent size, but none of it was really sticking to the ground. That meant there was going to be a bit of slush on the ground which, to me, was just gross.

I gazed out the window with a sigh. Today would have been the perfect day to sleep in and stay home all day. I would have loved to stay in my pajamas, make a cup of hot chocolate, and curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and a good book or even watch a good movie. It would even be nice to take a long, hot bubble bath. I had too much to do that day, though. Relaxing wasn’t going to be an option.

When church was over, I drove in my car with the windshield wipers going on medium speed as the snow smacked into the windows. The backseat windows were completely covered in snow making it hard to see as they fogged up.

When I made it home, I was completely chilled to the bone. I made myself a large cup of coffee to warm up and also to keep myself away from all the other things I was going to have to do that day.

I entered the living room with my cup of coffee steaming in my hands and I noticed my cat lying on his back in the middle of the room on the brand new carpet. I took a sip while snickering to myself. He looked as though he had keeled backwards and died; especially when his right hind leg twitched suddenly.

Placing my mug down on the coffee table, I kneeled on the floor beside my cat and rubbed his belly. Most cats don’t enjoy getting their bellies rubbed, but my cat loved it. I startled him and he meowed at me as he shot his eyes open. Once he realized it was only me, he rested his head back down on the floor staying rolled over on his back and allowed me to continue rubbing his belly.

“It must be nice to be a cat; especially on a cold, raw day like today.” I sighed.

His long fur made him feel so warm. Add that with the carpet and the fact that he was sitting right next to the heating vent; he was probably so toasty warm that he must have felt like he was sitting in front of a fireplace.

I stood up, glancing out the window. I looked back down at the cat who was now sitting upright right next to my leg. He looked up at me with wide eyes and let out a soft meow and then purred. I bent down to scoop him up in one arm and I grabbed my coffee mug with my other hand.

I brought him up the stairs and into my office. I set him down on the couch where he laid back down and fell straight to sleep. I put my coffee down on the coffee table in front of the couch and exited the room to go into my bedroom. I changed back into my pajamas and grabbed a couple of blankets off of my bed. I brought them back into my office.

I searched my shelves for a long movie and decided on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a long enough movie to keep myself occupied for a few hours. I turned it on, curled up in the blankets on my couch, and my cat snuggled up close to me. Together, I watched the movie while sipping on my beverage and he fell back to sleep again.

Oh, it must be really nice to be a cat; especially on snowy, cold days. Of course, it wasn’t that bad to be a human on those kinds of days, either. Every once in a while it was nice to just sit down, relax, and enjoy the company of the cat.

Short Story Sunday #34

STRAWBERRIES

            “Sorry, I’m allergic to strawberries.” Maggie Henderson smiled sheepishly.

“You… are?” her elderly neighbor frowned. She looked at the counter in the kitchen and stared at the food set out as a buffet.

“Yes…” Maggie frowned now as well. She didn’t mean to upset the old woman.

“Oh, dear,” her neighbor sighed, “if only I had known. I am so sorry.”

“No, please don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault.” Maggie shook her head trying to defend Mrs. Ravens.

Mrs. Ravens had a prize-winning garden in her backyard. She was never married and she didn’t have any children of her own. So, once she retired, she took up gardening as her hobby. It ended up becoming more than a hobby, but the sole reason of her existence. When she wasn’t able to garden in the winter, she hibernated because she didn’t know what else to do with herself.

When Maggie received an invitation to go to Mrs. Ravens’s “Garden Party” she assumed all the food would be from her garden. This would include lettuce, carrots, corn, pumpkin, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, and many more; including strawberries. However, Maggie just figured she wouldn’t eat the strawberries.

Apparently, unknown to Maggie, Mrs. Ravens decided to experiment with strawberries and only strawberries that past summer. Everything in her garden, aside from flowers, and the occasional vegetable to accompany dinner, were strawberries. Mrs. Ravens discovered how the Internet worked at the beginning of the summer and decided to challenge herself through her gardening.

She found recipe upon recipe for strawberries through the Internet and because of that she wanted to try them all out. She started looking up recipes that used pumpkin so she could grow only pumpkins next summer and have a pumpkin party. This would continue on with different fruits and vegetables for summers to come. Unfortunately for Maggie, this summer just happened to be all about strawberries.

Everything served at the party had strawberries in it; real strawberries, too. Mrs. Ravens didn’t bother to use strawberries flavors or anything artificial in her cooking. She only and always used natural ingredients in her food.

“I wouldn’t have invited you if I had known, dear.” Mrs. Ravens was pouting. She didn’t blame Maggie, but she blamed herself.

“Don’t feel bad, Mrs. Ravens. I’m sure everything is delicious. I’m just sorry that I’m not able to try any of it.” Maggie looked around the kitchen. She watched her other neighbors wander from dish to dish, scraping food onto their plates as though they were at a buffet. The food looked good. The food smelled good. Maggie wanted to try a taste, but she couldn’t risk it.

Mrs. Ravens scratched the back of her head. “Well, I would still like you to stay for the party. I have milk in the fridge and I have some cookies. I made strawberry cookies, but I have Oreos as well. You can have that for dessert, if you like.”

Maggie opened her mouth to agree, but Mrs. Ravens continued to rummage through her kitchen to find other things.

“For dinner… I don’t know what I can give you for dinner.” She murmured to herself. She opened a cabinet and smirked hopefully at her young neighbor. “Peanut butter and jelly? I have fresh home-made bread.”

Maggie frowned and shook her head slowly. “Uh, I’m allergic to peanuts… sorry.”

Mrs. Ravens sighed and let her shoulders droop. “Were you always allergic to these things? I watched you grow up next door. How did I not know any of these things about you?”

“Well, I’ve never eaten at your house before.” Maggie shrugged. “Don’t worry about it, though. It’s all okay.”

“But what am I going to feed you?” Mrs. Ravens asked in a panic.

“I can eat when I get home. I would love to have some Oreos and milk, if that offer still stands.” Maggie suggested. She wanted to make Mrs. Ravens feel better, but she didn’t know how to go about that.

Mrs. Ravens nodded her head with a smile. “Of course you can still have cookies and milk, dear. I just feel bad that I can’t give you anything else.”

“Don’t worry about that. I just appreciate you inviting me to this party in the first place.” Maggie attempted to make her elderly neighbor feel better.

“Well… are you allergic to anything else? I plan on having a party like this at the end of every summer, but just with something different I’ve grown in my garden.” Mrs. Ravens explained cautiously.

“I am only allergic to strawberries and peanuts.” Maggie confirmed.

“Next year I plan on using pumpkins in everything.”

“Pumpkins are fine,” Maggie nodded even though she didn’t like pumpkin all that much. However, she was willing to try it for Mrs. Ravens.

“So you’ll be able to come to my party next summer and you can actually eat?”

“Yes,”

“Wonderful!” Mrs. Ravens clapped her hands together and walked over to the cabinet again. She took out a cup and poured a glass of milk for Maggie. Then she took out the Oreos and handed Maggie the entire package.

“Eat as much as you want,” she explained, “You know where the milk is. If there is anything else that you would like to eat, just let me know and I’ll tell you if it has strawberries or peanuts in it.”

Maggie chuckled. “Thanks, Mrs. Ravens.”

Mrs. Ravens patted Maggie on the shoulder with a smile and disappeared into the other room.

Maggie poured her glass of milk down the sink drain and placed the empty glass in the sink. She took out three Oreo cookies and stared at them.

A young boy who lived a few houses down the street stared at the cookies in Maggie’s hands. Maggie put the package away and handed the three cookies to the boy.

“Do you want some?”

He nodded and took the cookies with a smile.

“Don’t let Mrs. Ravens see.” Maggie explained and watched the boy eat the cookies quickly right in front of her.

Maggie sighed. She didn’t have the heart to tell Mrs. Ravens that she was allergic to milk as well.