This story was recently published on The Writers Club. I would like to thank them for showcasing my work which was originally published on WordPress on September 17, 2017. Thank you!
Hard to imagine life without her. When the hell did everything start to unravel?
Now he sat alone in the shell of their apartment, baseball game on the tv playing for no one, nursing his second Dewars. Once upon a time this place was alive with people enjoying one of their famous dinner parties. When he closed his eyes he could hear their friends discussing politics, movies, the crazy tenants on the 2nd floor … and the sound of her spirited laugh when someone told a dirty joke.
They were the perfect couple, the envy of all their friends. Theirs was an easy, comfortable marriage – viewing a gallery in SoHo, cycling through Central Park, steamy showers after Saturday morning love-making. They were in sync in their choices of restaurants, paint colors and the biggest decision of all … neither one wanted kids.
He sat there, head in hands while a thousand thoughts went through his mind. When did he begin having second thoughts? Was it the weekend in Maine spent visiting his sister after the birth of her first baby? Was it watching the kids in the playground across the street? All he could remember was the night he whispered in her ear that he wanted to have a baby.
She was blindsided. What? No! He was just named partner at Goldman Sachs. She was food editor for Connoisseur magazine. Life is perfect. They had an agreement, dammit! Would she just consider thinking about it? No! How could he spring this on her now?
Weeks, months went by. She remained adamant, distant. Then one day he came home after work and she was gone.
Here he sat, alone with his Dewars, ballgame long over, fingering his wedding band, staring at divorce papers.
It couldn’t have happened to a more perfect couple.
After four long years of difficult times, including two heartbreaking family deaths, a couple of surgeries, a multitude of hellacious aches and pains, the loss of a few family pets and – oh yeah – a pandemic, we are finally going on vacation!
V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the Summertime!
I know, cry me a river, right! This has not been a happy time for any of us; however, you know that saying “I feel your pain!”? Well, we sorta do but your pain is your pain and my pain is my pain so let’s not get all prickly about this.
Oh, it hasn’t been all bad: during that time we welcomed a new granddaughter. I have no right to brag; after all, I didn’t make her – God did – and what a work of art she is. She can truly take the worst day and turn it into Christmas!
So, in the blink of an eye my mister and I will be heading out of town to relax, recoup, refresh and recharge. Oh, it’s nothing extravagant; just a little time by the sea (which sea, I am not saying!)
But being a creature of habit, I shall pop in from time to time; I need to see what’s going on, to check in with YOU and to write, of course.
Hasta la vista, baby! You won’t even know I’m gone!
Here is another Six “Sentence” Story challenge/invitation from my friends at GirlieOnTheEdge, the prompt word being BOOKMARK. In the (alleged) words of William Faulkner: “Punctuation be damned!” 😎
My cousin Nina and I went to Italy during the late 80s, stopping in various cities along the way including the ever-glorious Florence, famous for her art museums, precious gold markets and some of the best leather products in the world – the perfect place for two 30-something savvy American women to leisurely stroll – and it was where I fell in love with a beautifully aged and well-preserved leather bookmark engraved with the image of La Scala Opera House in Milan with the name in script below the image – soft as butter to the touch and a lovely fawn color, it immediately became my favorite accessory which I slipped into my purse after bargaining with the vendor for a ridiculously low price leaving him muttering something about “irresistible American women” and he smiled devilishly at me remarking that he could never resist a woman with eyes as green as the Mediterranean.
Nestled between the many gold and leather stores was a tiny book shop which beckoned to me and I found myself in a cramped yet delightfully appointed treasure trove overflowing with tomes of every sort, including a volume which drew me in like the proverbial moth to a flame: Grandissimo Pavarotti – A Celebration of the Career of the World’s Greatest Tenor on the Silver Anniversary of his Debut; as a musician and huge fan of The Maestro, I knew I had to own this jewel of a picture book and I held it in my trembling hands, opening the front cover only to discover to my amazement that it was a signed copy, one of a limited number of editions, forcing me to quickly snap the cover closed but not before sneaking another peek to make sure I hadn’t imagined seeing what was clearly there in black and white – the honest-to-goodness signature of the greatest tenor ever – which then made me glance at the price while holding my breath; there was obviously a mistake as the cost of this gem was insanely low for a first edition signed copy of anything let alone a gorgeous photo album of the magnificent Pavarotti.
Acting as nonchalant as possible for someone about to pee her panties, I gracefully waltzed up to the register, handing my selection to the young male clerk who gazed into my sea-green eyes and scanned the label without so much as a second thought; I said a silent prayer to The Creator for gracing me with such apparently mesmerizing eyes, purred a “Mille grazie” to the love-struck cashier and left the store while cradling the book in my arms like a newborn baby, not even daring to show Nina my impressive find until we were safely back in our hotel room which I insisted we return to immediately, acting more like a secret agent than even I realized, praying no one in the area noticed while being extra-careful not to look directly at anyone with my dangerously alluring occhi il colore dell’acqua del Mediterraneo.
Upon our return to the hotel, I lovingly wrapped my precious new purchases in layers of tissue paper and placed them between newly-bought scarves made of silk from Como (gifts for my mother and sister); Nina laughed at the care I took in packing, exclaiming they were just paper and leather, not the Hope Diamond, to which I explained that to me they were as fine as any jewel and she wouldn’t understand because she did not possess the heart of a musician which didn’t seem to faze her at all; however, I was very content knowing my goods were safely locked away in my suitcase and would remain there until we were back home in The States.
We were met at JFK airport by our family members who smothered us with Italian hugs and kisses, loudly thanking God for our safe flight and equally loudly admiring our tans and new Florentine gold necklaces; I’m sure the women were wondering if we had jewelry in our luggage for them – which we did – but I knew I had something even more valuable, at least to me, and I couldn’t wait to display my new book on my coffee table at home (of course, the bookmark would travel with me always in whichever book I was reading but The Maestro would remain at home, center stage, for friends to gaze upon in awe).
Now settled into my usual routine, I returned to my job in Manhattan via the Metro North train from my apartment in New Rochelle; it was a pleasant ride and I had a book with me and, of course, my beloved bookmark which was standing guard in this week’s book of choice – Agatha Christie’s “Appointment with Death”– mysteries being one of my favorite genres; however, it was an unhappy and puzzling realization when I returned home from work one day to discover my book and treasured La Scala bookmark were nowhere to be found and I had no idea what happened to them or where I last saw them (having gotten distracted by a lengthy conversation with a friend preventing me from enjoying my daily read the entire train ride); I repeatedly emptied my purse praying they would turn up but they did not so I sat at the piano to calm myself when suddenly the phone rang and an unfamiliar female voice asked for me, saying she found my book and bookmark on the Metro North (thank heavens for taping that label on the inside cover of the book with my name and phone number); fortunately the woman who found my priceless belongings lived nearby and delivered them to me that very night, and by the sparkle in her eyes I believed she knew in her soul that my beloved bookmark held a place not only in my book but in my heart as well.
Coffee mug in hand, I leaned over the railing of my little vacation rental staring out at the Great Barrier Reef. Recently divorced and childless, I was now truly alone for the first time in a dozen years.
“Glorious sunrise, isn’t it?” a smooth Australian baritone voice remarked. I turned my head to see a ruggedly handsome man with unruly blonde hair in jeans and a sweater.
We exchanged smiles and appreciative glances. I replied that it was indeed glorious.
He lingered for a moment or two, then declared “Well, I’m off. Snapper and mash for brekkie.” He walked a few steps and turned. “I wonder, do you like Semillon Sauvignon Blanc? “
I sipped my coffee thoughtfully and said “I haven’t had the pleasure but I do enjoy a good chilled white wine.”
“Meet me right here tonight; if you think this is a thing of beauty, you should see the sunsets. They’re astounding.” And he walked off, the clop of his boots on the deck the only sound.
He was right about the wineand the sunset. That was the last night I would ever be alone again.
The challenge for this day was to write a story of exactly 100 words about a destroyed friendship, something we all have experienced.
What makes a solid friendship come crashing down like a sandcastle, a friendship we think will test the tides of time and prevail?
She lost a friend last night. Her friend did not die but their precious relationship did. The vitriolic words from her friend’s mouth were like a slow-burning poison in her gut. Never had she been so verbally (and needlessly) attacked. It was shocking; she will never speak with her friend again. Can anger of such magnitude reveal a person’s true colors?
What a selfish way to act. What an awful way for a friendship to die.
As I was leaving my favorite fish and chips place, I bumped into an old friend. I waited for him to get his food and we sat outside eating and catching up. He was doing well but had recently stopped seeing a woman he enjoyed spending time with – one of those ‘friends with benefits’ things. I’m not one to judge; I’ve had many of those myself. Easy come, easy go.
“Tom, the worst mistake we make in these relationships is getting too attached. There’s no point beating ourselves up over the breaks” I told my friend, popping a chip into my mouth.
“Funny thing is, Brian, I didn’t break it off; she did.”
“How’d ya feel about that?” I asked him.
“You know, mate, I didn’t believe she’d do it” Tom replied somewhat wistfully. “She’d broken things off before but we always got back together. We were drawn to each other like magnets. She was special – different, older, sexy as hell. She was a one off, Bri, not someone you easily forget.”
“What then?” I questioned.
“She had some ‘issues’ that were pressing on her greatly. She needed to deal with them, straighten out her life, so she made the break. And this time she meant it. You know, mate, it’s silly but I miss her and I keep expecting to hear from her.”
“She misses you too, Tom.”
“Yeah, and how would you know that, Brian?” Tom asked suspiciously, surprise and curiosity peeking through his hooded eyes.
“Because I know who she is. It’s Sophie. She works with my sister Nan and she’s been over the house a few times. I heard them talking” I answered my friend.
“Did ya now? Brian, tell me what you heard.”
“You sure, Tom?” I asked and he nodded in assent.
“Sophie told Nan she thought she’d be able to have an ongoing casual relationship with you but it got intense, it got real. She said she couldn’t handle the pressure of your relationship any longer.”
Tom sat there toying with his food, lost in thought.
“Listen, mate.” I interrupted Tom’s reverie. “Sophie told Nan something else.”
Tom glanced up at me as if he just realized I was there. “And what might that be, Brian?”
“Sophie said hooking up with you was easy. Letting you go was torture. But they were two of the best decisions she ever made. She said she’d never forget you.”
Tom managed a half smile and we ate our food in silence.
“Good fish and chips, eh mate?” I said after a few minutes.
“Yeah. That they are, Bri” Tom replied.
We finished our meal talking about our plans for the weekend, gave each other a bro hug and went our separate ways. When I looked back, Tom was having a good laugh with our friend Ian.
Time now for another installment of “Six Sentence Stories” as challenged by my friends at GirlieOnTheEdge. Punctuation be damned! This week’s prompt word is ‘EXCHANGE’.
When my boyfriend Keith sent me a surprise gift of a pair of metallic orange pleather boots with stiletto heels, I was somewhat taken aback; after six years of dating, Keith should have known I hated the color orange and thought anything made out of that cheesy fake leather was the height of tacky – what was he thinking?!
A couple of hours before the package arrived, Keith left me a voicemail that was gushing with delight and enthusiasm, positive I would be thrilled with his gift; in fact, his excitement was so contagious I was sure I would love whatever he sent me but nothing could have been further from the truth.
I don’t know what goes on in Keith’s mind sometimes and why he thought I would like the boots but they were hideous and I knew I would never wear them but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I made up a little white lie by saying as much as I loved them, they didn’t fit and I would have to exchange them for something else; Keith took it well and was not upset by my decision so off I went to the boutique – after all, it’s not like I hadn’t exchanged plenty of gifts from Keith.
I explained to the saleswoman that the boots were a gift and not really my style and I’d like to see what I could get as a replacement; she was totally understanding, agreeing that this particular fashion statement was not for everyone, and encouraged me to take a look around for something that caught my eye and didn’t scream “42nd Street Hooker!”
Just a few minutes after I started browsing around the store, the saleswoman called me to the front desk to inform me that I could not return the boots because they had been purchased on sale and had a no return or exchange policy; needless to say I was bummed out because I was looking forward to getting a nice pair of black suede boots or maybe a new leather jacket but that wasn’t the only thing that burned my cookies.
Inside the gift box hidden under all the tissue paper was a little envelope with a card inside which I hadn’t noticed before and was obviously not meant for me because it read: For My Steaming Hot Charlotte (NOT MY NAME!) – Can’t wait to see you dance for me wearing nothing but these orange beauties – Love Ya Baby, Your Big Bad Keith; but what really made my blood boil was thinking that ‘Charlotte the Harlot’was probably “oohing and aahing” right this minute over a gorgeous pair of black suede boots meant for me as a gift from Keith – that no good two-timing weasel!
I’d like to offer this for a writing prompt to any blogger that would have fun with it. You could be the first to make up a love story for zombies, a whole new genre! I mean, everyone knows how a vampire romance goes, she gets bit. You’ve heard of ghosts in love with a live person, witches in love with the devil, ogres in love, E.T.s in love with humans. Anyone can fall in love but I never heard a story about zombies in love. Did you?
You could take the story in any crazy way you want to. specifically, I’d like to know, how did they become zombies? Did they know each other before or did they just stumble into each other on Broad St.? Are they just friends or friends with benefits? If so how is that going for them? Do they have any…
In response to an invitation by NopeNotPam’s fun ‘Letter of the Week’ challenge, here’s a little something I wrote for the letter N.
Nora was a new resident in the quaint town of Nanuet. It had always been a dream of hers to own her own business and she never gave up. It wasn’t as easy as she thought and some of those dreams turned into nightmares. Then she met a guy named Nick, a well-to-do neonatologist while at a New Year’s Eve party and they bonded over the chicken nuggets and salad nicoise. Nick was one of the nice ones, a real gentleman, and Nora wasn’t nervous around him at all.
Nick and Nora exchanged numbers and he called her the next night. Nick tried to act nonchalant but nothing could settle his nerves. He really liked Nora and hoped he sounded normal over the phone and not like a numbskull. He’d found a little Northern Italian restaurant in the near-by town of New City and he became a regular customer, dining there nearly every night. Nick hoped Nora would accept his invitation to dinner at Nonna Nina’s Ristorante.
Not only did Nora accept Nick’s invitation, Nonna Nina’s became her favorite restaurant, too – bar none. Notorious for having a sweet tooth, two of Nora’s guilty pleasures were the sinfully creamy Nocciolo Napoleons and the Nutty Nutella Crepes. One night, while sharing a plate of traditional Neapolitan noodles, Nora absentmindedly said “Wouldn’t it be nice to get married at Nonna Nina’s?”
Nick’s eyes grew as big as nickel-plated saucers and Nora’s nose turned neon red – something that always happened when she was embarrassed. Nearly falling off his chair, Nick quickly returned to normal and said “Nora, my love, are you really saying what I think you’re saying. Do you want to get married?”
Nora nodded slowly. In no time, Nick was down on one knee and took Nora’s hand in his. “My darling, do me the honor of becoming Mrs. Nick Noletti. Marry me!” Overcome with joy, Nora replied “Oh yes, Nick” and started crying tears of happiness. She reached for a napkin and blew her nose noisily. She and Nick embraced while Nonna Nina, her husband Nonno Nino and all the neighboring diner’s applauded and raised a glass to the happy couple.
Nick and Nora celebrated their nuptials on the ninth of November in the Nirvana Chapel in Nanuet. Nick was dressed to the nines in his new tuxedo and Nora, not one for poofy, froo-froo dresses, wore an enchanting negligee style evening gown and carried a bouquet of narcissus, nasturtiums and nolanas. Her long nutmeg-colored hair was loosely tied at the nape of her neck with a tulle ribbon and she wore a simple string of pearls around her neck. The newlyweds honeymooned for nine days in Norway where Nora had numerous nieces and nephews. They shared all their hopes and dreams; that was when Nora told Nick about her great ambition to open her own business: a high-end nail salon.
Since Nick had deep pockets and he adored Nora, he was determined to make all her dreams come true. The couple purchased a little shop in New City which they renovated into a luxurious nail salon offering everything from soup to nuts. Nora was a Nervous Nelly on opening day but Nick assured her she’d be a success and the shop, which she named Nora’s Nail Nook, would thrive. As an incentive to draw new customers, Nora offered everyone who came into the shop a first-time free manicure.
At first business was nonstop; by the second week, Nora noticed a marked slowdown. Over a cup of Nespresso one day she asked Nick’s head nurse Nancy what she thought was causing the decline in business. Nancy immediately responded “Nora, haven’t you heard of Naughty Nails by Nat?” referring to another nail salon down the street. Nurse Nancy continued: “All the girls at Naughty Nails are nubile nymphs working in the nude! Every neanderthal in the neighborhood hoping for a little nookie with his pedi goes to Naughty Nails.”
Nora was nonplussed. “How can the Nail Nook possibly go up against a nude nail salon?” she wailed. Nora relayed the story about Naughty Nails to Nick who said “Don’t worry, my precious nightingale. I have a novel idea.”
The next day there was a bright neon sign in the window of the Nail Nook. It read:
“WELCOME TO THE NAIL NOOK WHERE WE WON’T NICKEL AND DIME YOU. NINE MANI/PEDIS, GET ONE FREE! ALL MEN ACCOMPANYING THEIR LADIES WILL RECEIVE FREE PEDICURES. FOR EVERY NEW CLIENT YOU REFER, YOU WILL BE REWARDED WITH A FREE SPA PEDICURE! COME ON IN AND TAKE A LOOK. WE KNOW YOU’LL BE HAPPY AT THE NEW NAIL NOOK!”
The next morning Nora and Nick were thrilled to see a line of people waiting to get into the shop. Of course, Nat from Naughty Nails was not happy; he huffed and puffed and screamed like a nutcase but there was nothing he could do about it. Everything offered by the Nail Nook was totally above board. Nat neighed loudly like a wild horse and galloped away. Nick yelled after him “Tough noogies, numb-nuts!”
Nick and Nora had the last laugh and lived happily ever after in their little love nest in Nanuet. The end.
Thank God for the United States of America! I love my country and even though I may not always agree with whoever happens to be in office at any particular time, it’s still the greatest country in the world.
But as much as I love the good old USA, it can’t compare to the love I have for my family. You already know Colette; here are my other grands – Mckenna, Lucan and Wyatt, with my son Bill and daughter-in-law Dawn. Along with 2 cats named Lemon & Lime and Lady, a St. Bernard, they are the epitome of the all-American hard-working, churchgoing, well-adjusted, happy and loving family. We’re blessed to live only 15 minutes away but still don’t see them nearly enough. They’re young and busy; we’re old and tired! There’s no keeping up with this crew!
Let’s start with 13-year-old Mckenna, my blue-haired prolific author and voracious reader. It’s been my honor to feature her here on my site as a guest writer; please check out her work. Mckenna is your typical teenager with a zillion friends running from one activity to another. She was a Girl Scout and heavily involved in taekwondo. She has taken lessons in cello, clarinet and saxophone, does fencing, swimming, dramatics, sports and is a big WWE fan. I’m proud to say she’s also on the honor roll. Besides being beautiful and funny, she’s adventurous, bold, daring and quite dramatic. She’s a really good “kid” and will be successful in anything she chooses to do.
Lucan. What can I say about Lucan? He’s our joke-telling, Pokemon-collecting, dinosaur-loving 11-year-old gamer with a shock of blonde hair and big blue eyes that can (and have) gotten him out of a few scrapes. That said, he’s also the class clown and will most likely be the first one to come home from school with a black eye (and I mean that in the most loving and lighthearted way possible). He’s the one who decided years ago he wanted a buzz-cut on one side of his head and long hair on the other – and the look suits him perfectly. Luc could be a model and I see him in that iconic Norman Rockwell painting of the boy in a baseball uniform. He plays trumpet and does all sorts of sports, did taekwondo for years and is a good student. He may be skinny as a bean pole but you know when Lucan is in the house!
Wyatt is our 9-year-old charmer with rich brown hair, sparkling eyes, a devilish smile and sweet personality. A few years after his brother got his personalized haircut, Wy followed suit and now has the same look. Like his sister and brother, Wyatt studied taekwondo for a long time, loves watching WWE wrestling, collecting Pokemon cards and playing video games. Wyatt is also a big NY Rangers fan, like his Grampy. Wy is currently taking guitar lessons and devouring books. He’s always loved LEGOs, cars and trucks ever since he was a little Wy Guy and enjoys going to monster truck rallies. Along with Lucan, he’s in the Boy Scouts and loves going on overnight camping trips with Dad and the boys in his troop. A bit subdued and shy, Wyatt has a delightful personality and good sense of humor. He may be quiet but when push comes to shove, Wyatt can be a little bulldog!
I love these kids so much! They get in trouble sometimes with their parents like all kids but they’re good kids, good students, love to read, do what they’re told (eventually lol) and help out at home. And after living through COVID they have learned to be a little more patient, accepting and to roll with the punches. Being separated from family and friends and having to do remote schooling for so long took a toll on them but they’re resilient.
That doesn’t just happen; they have two great parents who cherish them, provide for them, talk to them and educate them.
Bill is a teleprompter who has worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to Big Bird. Fortunately he didn’t miss much work during COVID and is probably the most tested person I know! Dawn is a pediatric nurse and office manager of the medical company where she works. She didn’t miss a day of work during COVID, sitting in front of her computer for 12-15 hours every day locating medicine, equipment, masks, dealing with patients, conducting Zoom meetings, brainstorming with fellow nurses and doctors, hiring new personnel and opening remote offices in every state in the US. Just like all people in the medical profession, her job is vital and sadly under-appreciated.
Dawn is without a doubt one of the best moms I know. She’s like the Energizer Bunny who just keeps going no matter what. Family comes first. Period. Many times Bill has to work on holidays or well into the night. Dawn always makes sure the kids have something to do or somewhere to go to keep them happy and occupied. She plans wonderful get-aways like whale watching in Maine, visiting Niagara Falls, hiking in Bear Mountain or day trips walking on the beach, fishing on Grampy’s boat or going to see the local NY Boulders baseball team.
I don’t know – call it luck or whatever name you can think of but we’ve been blessed with a loving and happy family. Thank you, God, for all your many blessings.
This is a little something I wrote for ‘Six Sentence Stories’ on the site GirlieOnThe Edge. We are to write a story of exactly six sentences, this week using the prompt word ‘strike’. Thanks to Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge for coming up with this fun and challenging idea. I hope you enjoy my six sentence story, ‘Colette’.
She is our miracle baby, the light of our lives, the most precious gift anyone could ever hope for.
No matter how miserable I’m feeling with deep-rooted arthritis pain that won’t let go, no matter how tired I am and long to hide myself away and do nothing but write, the moment she smiles at me my pain washes away.
She’s like a lightning bolt, a heavenly strike from the skies that penetrates the top of my head and courses its way down to my toes, spreading joy, happiness and love throughout my body.
She is Colette, our perfect 28-month-old granddaughter, with the face of an angel and the determined heart of a lion.
When I am with her there is no force that can strike me down for she fills me every day with never-ending joy and an ineffable love.
I love you, my sweet baby girl, beyond the moon and the stars and all the galaxies in the universe.