Friendship

crying

I can’t go inside.  Andrea parked in front of her friend’s home, watching the silhouettes move behind the curtains.

Kent moved out a week ago.  She twisted the gold band on her finger nervously. There was nothing shameful about being single. Nothing at all.  She just couldn’t handle the questions, the pity in everyone’s eyes.  Not today.

The curtains moved.  She’d been seen. She had to get out of the car.

Kent answered the door. “We’ve been waiting for you,” he said, extending his arms. She hugged him tightly, thankful, at least, for his friendship.

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM.  

Forks

place-setting-1056286_960_720

Madeline was starving.  She’d been too nervous to eat the entire day, her stomach churning as she sat anxiously in her work cubicle, waiting for 5 o’clock.  Now, it seemed as though all of the hunger stored up from the entire day had decided to take over her body at once.  I hope no one heard my stomach growl.  But she was sure someone had.

Her foot tapped a silent beat against the plush carpet.  She made up a recitation to go along with the rhythm.  Which-fork-do-I-pick?  Which-fork-do-I-pick?  Which-fork-do-I-pick?   She couldn’t remember.  Her mother had mentioned it to her long ago in passing but hadn’t made a big issue of it.  Clearly she hadn’t thought Madeline had too many formal, black tie dinner parties in her future.  Madeline had never seen so much silverware at one place setting in all of her life.  Do I start at the outside and work my way in?  Or is it the reverse?  She didn’t want to look like a fool.

David had introduced her to his parents only about a month ago.  His mother, Claudine, had seemed decidedly underwhelmed by Madeline, coolly taking in her off-the-rack clothes and scuffed shoes before offering her a dry handshake and a tight smile.  David had told her not to worry when Madeline fretted that his mother didn’t like her, and sure enough, a week later Claudine had begun planning a dinner party to introduce Madeline to all of their closest friends and family.  It was their coming out party.

One piece of advice from her mother that Madeline did hold on to – if you’re ever unsure, watch to see what the other dinner guests do first.  Great advice, except no one had begun eating yet.  Claudine was in the middle of a lengthy anecdote, something about her and her husband’s recent visit to the South of France, and they all seemed to be hanging on her every word.

David was seated at the opposite end of the table.  He’d warned her this would happen.  Traditionally at dinner parties, he’d explained, couples were separated to give everyone a chance to meet someone new, make new acquaintances.  Madeline didn’t see the point. To her right, David’s great-aunt Dorinda was already lightly snoring into her uneaten garden salad.  To her left, the wife of David’s best friend from high school, Tiffany, kept leaving her seat every five to ten minutes to make suspicious trips to the powder room, wiping at her nose upon her return.  Is that going to be me in a few years?  Madeline wondered as she stared once again at Tiffany’s retreating form.  It also wasn’t lost on her that David had been seated next to his beautiful ex-wife, Elisa, who put her hand on David’s forearm and laughed lustily every time Claudine made a joke, or what passed as a joke in this house, anyway, tossing her hair back and leaning into David as though he were still hers.

Screw this.  Madeline raised the fork she thought was meant for the salad course and decided to go for it.  The salad was dry and underdressed but it was the first sustenance she’d had all day.  She bit down on a huge chunk of carrot and a loud crunch seemed to echo through the dining room.  Claudine stopped mid-sentence and every eye turned on her.  Seriously?  How do these people eat carrots?  Do they pay someone to have them pre-chewed?

Sheepish, Madeline, unable to remove her eyes from Claudine’s steely glare, went to set down the fork on the side of her salad bowl but accidentally knocked over her water glass and a glass of red wine, dousing the front of her dress and splashing poor Aunt Dorinda, who still didn’t wake up.

Are you okay?  David mouthed from across the room.  Madeline nodded as she rose from the table, gathering all of her confidence.  “I’m sorry to disturb you.  Excuse me for a moment, please.”  She rushed from the room as quickly as good manners would allow, making her way to the powder room Tiffany was exiting, glassy-eyed.

As she scrubbed at the front of her dress with a towel and made little headway, there was a gentle knock at the door.  Her heart lifted.  David.

“Come in!”

But it was a fiery-eyed Claudine who opened the door, quietly shutting it behind her as she stepped inside.

 

Today’s Story A Day prompt is Write at Your Natural Length.  

  • Today I give you permission to write a partial story, a scene, and extracts from a longer tale. It doesn’t have to feel complete, like a short story should, but it should still have something of a story arc. Use today to practice that.

I decided to write a scene instead of a complete story.  Instead of writing a scene from the novel I’m writing, I decided to write one using characters from a short story I wrote a while ago.

Read Part 2

Reversal

157-05-may-22nd-2016

Another chapter in the neverending saga of Paul and Alexandra, Katie thought as a perfectly good wine glass shattered against the far wall, red wine streaming down the stark white paint like blood.  Alexandra, the glass-thrower, screamed at Paul that he’d never loved her, that no one wanted him there because he was an awful person.  Paul retorted that Alexandra was over-the-hill, desperately, pathetically, trying to hold on to her youth and failing miserably.  Katie stood, throwing her hands in the air.

“ENOUGH!”  Katie shrieked, rattling the windows.

Alexandra and Paul immediately quieted, turning to face Katie in shock.

“Haven’t the two of you ruined enough family gatherings?”  In the preceding years, Katie and her siblings had gone to ridiculous lengths to keep their bickering parents separated, and she was fed up.  She turned to her mother.

“I invited dad here. I’m getting married tomorrow.  He has as much right to be here as you do.”  She faced them both sternly.  “Both of you should be ashamed. Your children are embarrassed of you.  If you behave this way tomorrow I’m having the both of you thrown out on your butts and you can argue in the back alley like a couple of hillbillies.  This nonsense,” she swirled her finger between the two of them, “is over.  Do you understand?”

Her parents stared back at her in stunned silence.  She stepped closer.  “I said – DO…YOU…UNDERSTAND?”

Paul and Alexandra looked at each other, then responded in unison.  “Yes, ma’am.”

For Sunday Photo Fiction

 

Lullaby

 

piano
Source

 

“Let’s play hide and seek, mommy,” Cat said, half covering her eyes with her pudgy hand.  Ashley knew that Cat was afraid and wanted to delay her bedtime as long as possible.  Her father had been the one that banished the monsters and other imaginary creatures that went bump in the night.  But she only saw him twice a month now.

“How about we sing instead?”  Ashley scooted so Cat could sit next to her on the piano bench.  She played a few notes of Cat’s favorite lullaby, whispering the lyrics in her ear.  She could see her daughter’s eyelids getting heavy.

After Ashley did the best job she could ridding Cat’s room of monsters, she tucked the little girl into bed and kissed her goodnight, wishing her sweet dreams.

She tiptoed to her own room and turned out the light.  The bed seemed to swallow her.  Alone in the still darkness, she had to admit, she was afraid too. Sleep seemed so far away.  Why is this so hard?  She considered turning on a light, or the television, letting white noise fill the quiet, but decided against it, falling back against the pillow.  Slowly, her eyes began to adjust to the dark.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Golden

ocean-846084_960_720

They returned to the ocean as it seemed to all be slipping away.  It was to be their final goodbye.  She felt the wind swirling around her, remembering reciting her vows at that very spot.  The sun had turned the green flecks in his eyes golden as they were pronounced man and wife.  He stared back at her as he had on that sun-drenched day, touching her face, the tips of his fingers grazing her cheek, the base of her chin.  As she looked back into his eyes, though the sun had long since retreated, she thought she could spy the hint of gold in them once again.

 

This is the combination of two prompts, the daily post – Beach and six sentence stories – Base.

 

What Goes Around…

photo-20160411045742372

“Careful!” Bobby yelled.  Kneeling beside Jules, he adjusted the buckle of her right shoe.  “It was undone.”

“Absent-minded me!  Thanks.” She smiled at Bobby gratefully as he handed her the cell phone that had fallen to the floor.  “So, what’s new around the office?”

“Hmmm…let’s see.  Mary’s off the wagon again…”

“That’s a shame.”

“And Tabitha’s back from her ‘vacation.’  You know what that means…”

“Face lift!”

They laughed as Jules reached her cubicle.  Watching Bobby walk away, she shook her head, amazed at how he seemed to always know everyone’s business.

Around noon, she ducked into the breakroom, grabbing a snack from the fridge as Mary poured herself a cup of coffee.  Sobering up, Jules thought.

“S-s-sorry about Chris,” Mary slurred, looking at Jules with pity in her eyes.

“Huh?  How would you know…” she stopped, remembering the calendar alert on the phone that Bobby was all too happy to retrieve for her.  Divorce Attorney – 2 pm.

“Bobby!” Jules screamed as she stormed out of the kitchen, her hunger forgotten.

 

 

Green Eyes

photo-20160328032234526

 

The cows did her in.  All through dinner with her daughter, her ex and his new wife, she’d been internally patting herself, and her ex, on the backs.  What mature parents they were, still getting along years after their divorce.

Now that Sean had remarried, to a girl 10 years younger than she no less, everyone asked Sonya if she was angry, or jealous.  Her answer always was the same – she was thrilled for him.  Madison made Sean happy, and she was a wonderful stepmother to their daughter.

They moved to the living room, Sean’s and Madison’s living room, for dessert and there they were, sitting on the mantle.  The pair of psychedelic ceramic cows, the ones she’d found in a flea market on their honeymoon.  She loved those cows.  They’d gone missing during the last years of their marriage, and at some point she’d just stopped looking for them.  But now they were here, on Madison’s mantle.  Her heart caught fire as she blinked back tears, staring at Sean’s hand on Madison’s slim thigh.

 

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers  and inspired by one of my favorite songs about heartbreak, Green Eyes.

Forever

guitar

“Scott and Cassie, we have an amazing gift for your son!”   Cam Hartman, the host of Forever and Ever,  a long-running reality dating show, produced a tiny guitar.  “So he can be a musician just like daddy.”

“Thanks, Cam.  I love it.”  Cassie rubbed her six-months-pregnant belly.

Scott and Cassie, as Forever and Ever’s only success story, were beloved.  Every other Forever and Ever couple had only lasted a few months.  Scott and Cassie were the only ones who’d made it down the aisle.

“You’re quite welcome, guys!”  Cam faced the cameras.  “The reunion continues next with our newest couple, Tracey and Rick!”

Cassie and Scott made their way backstage, passing an arguing Tracey and Rick in the hall.  Jack, the executive producer of the show, handed Scott an envelope with a wink.

At the hotel, in front of a roaring fireplace, they opened it, their eyes widening at the number of zeroes on the check.   Their son would want for nothing.  They toasted their friendship with sparkling cider as Cam’s gift burned to ash.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

 

 

 

 

Thursday Thriller – Regret

coffe-946551_960_720

“The boys miss you so much,” I say, twisting the edge of my shirt sleeve.

“I miss them too,” he says as he returns to the table holding two steaming cups of coffee. My palms are warm and damp.  My arms shiver.  No turning back now.  I have to make this right.  I look at the man sitting across for me and can’t imagine today how in love I was with him a few short years ago.  That love had quickly turned to a consuming hatred during out contentious divorce.  Now all that was left was fear.

“I realize, that I was wrong…so wrong…to keep you from them…”

“The things you said about me to the judge…”

“I know!  I was awful.  There’s no excuse.  I know you would never lay a finger on either of the boys.  You’re a wonderful father.  They cry for you every night, you know.  It breaks my heart.”  I dab at my eyes with a napkin as my voice breaks.  It was the boys that had convinced me to come today, to grovel to my ex, to beg his forgiveness.  I couldn’t stand it any longer, watching them suffer, wondering if their father had abandoned them.  I never thought the judge would order him to stay away from the boys.  I thought he’d at least get supervised visitation.  All I wanted was to hurt him a little.  Or a lot.  The same way he’d hurt me.  “I want you to be a part of their lives.  I’m so sorry, for everything.”

He says nothing as he watches me take a long sip of my coffee.  I feel it immediately.  It all slipping away.  I stand and try and get to the door, but my legs give way underneath me.  I crumple to the floor, struggling to take a breath.

“I’m sorry too,” he says as he stands over me, watching.

Inspired by last week’s Story A Day prompt – Regret.

 

Parents

photo-20160125132605717

Seeing the familiar sunflower bushes that had grown outside the wrought iron gates since my childhood stirred up the familiar sensations of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.  I kept these monthly visits with my parents short and sweet.  I knew I was the black sheep, the youngest and least successful of the three children.   A humble bartender, college-drop-out, living in a small apartment on the wrong side of town.  Not married.  I could hear their questions now.  My stomach cramped.

At least my two older siblings wouldn’t be there.  The golden children.  I tried to avoid visiting when they would be here, but it still broke my heart a little that we weren’t close anymore.

“Mom!”  I called out.

“In here!”

My mom was lying in bed, unheard of at 12 pm, her face bare with dark circles under her eyes, staring into nothing.  I rushed to her side.

“Your father filed for divorce,” she told me in a hoarse whisper.  I embraced her sadly, feeling the tension release.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers