SIGHING SIGHS

Story challenge by my friends at NopeNotPam  – Letter of the day: S

SALVATION!! Can you say it along with me, brothers and sisters?

SALVATION AND SATISFACTION!!

Since venturing out on our long-anticipated vacation, I have discovered so much more than the sultry sun, the salty sea, the scrumptious seafood and the sinfully sleek and sensual satin sheets.

I have found salvation from stress, suffering, stiffness, strain, stenosis, sciatica and sleeplessness. And contrary to what our dear Sir Mick sings while strutting sexily on stage in all his sartorial splendor, “I CAN GET SOME SATISFACTION!”

“How?” you inquire suspiciously? Well, at the risk of sounding like a super-store salesperson, it’s all due to the soothing stress-relieving qualities of the Sidney Slider Power Recliner. 

Seriously. I shit you not.

Since we arrived at our secluded, solitary and secret get-away location, I made a startling discovery: I am living a pain-free life for the first time in several years! Yes, I’m de-stressed simply being on sabbatical but I know without a scintilla of doubt my pains have subsided significantly because of this sensational sprawling supersonic seat at our seaside suite. Keep your sardonic comments to yourself; as a self-proclaimed scholar of recliners and a reclining specialist, I know what I’m talking about and speak nothing but the truth, so help me Stickley Furniture World.

How can something so simple as this recliner make me feel like a new woman, a renewed and improved supple design of the feminine species? I have no idea! Someone seriously smarter than me designed a lounger with superb supine capabilities. All I know is something shocking happened, something so spectacular that I am singing its praises while simultaneously shedding tears of shear joy. I am in seventh heaven – so much so that I have placed an order for my very own Sidney Slider Power Recliner (since I cannot bring this one back with me). Sadly, it’s not in stock at the moment BUT in less than two very short weeks it will be on its way to my home. Stupendous!

This is no small thing and I mean that literally. Sidney (we’re already on a first name basis) is a big boy, significantly larger than what I’m accustomed to.  I shall have to find a way to make him fit but make no mistake – this scintillatingly smooth suede stunner will fit! The only question I struggled with was which color I should select – the sensual sable or the shimmering sand?

I’ll have to wait just a scant few days after my return but it will all be worth it. If you could only see the sheepish smile of satisfaction on my face.

Ah, Sidney! How sweet it is” she sighed.

NAR © 2022

 

IT’S ABOUT TIME!

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!

NAR © 2022

SWEPT AWAY

The afternoon was damp and raw, sleet stinging my eyes. I huddled deeper into my parka, pulling the hood tighter over my head. As I waited at the busy Brooklyn intersection for the ‘walk’ signal, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a woman in the distance. It was just a brief sighting but she bore an uncanny resemblance to my late fiancé Maggie.

The woman’s clothes were nondescript – dark jeans, a silver puffer jacket and a knit scarf – but it was her black and silver sneakers and the all-too-familiar shock of flaming red hair blowing wildly in the wind that gave me pause. She ran up the front steps of a condo – the same apartment we shared for three years before Maggie died.

My mind raced back to the day of Maggie’s death. We were vacationing by Lake Michigan with our friends Jeff and Rachel. Looking for a bit of adventure we decided to go jet skiing, something new for all of us and rather dangerous considering the lake’s infamous rip tides. Feeling overly confident, we took off like the daredevils we were. We all fell off several times, laughing, but kept on going. It was an exhilarating experience.

Maggie was a gorgeous creature. I couldn’t take my eyes off her as she rode the waves, her exquisite breasts barely contained in a tiny white bikini while crimson tresses whipped around her face like the tail of a dragon. She and Jeff were natural athletes and it was difficult for me and Rachel to keep up.

Rounding a bend in the lake, we were thrown off our skis by a large wave. I lost my bearings in the current and when my head finally emerged from the water, I spotted my jet ski and swam to it. Rachel wasn’t too far away, clinging to her craft, but Maggie and Jeff were nowhere in sight. Mounting our water bikes we began our search, frantically calling out their names as we scoured the area. Unable to locate them, we headed for shore and alerted the authorities. Maggie and Jeff’s jet skis were found but there was no trace of them. After two days the search was called off. Rachel and I had no choice but to accept they had been swept away.

After the accident I returned to New York but didn’t have the heart to stay in the condo where Maggie and I lived. I drove to our beach house in Amagansett, leaving the apartment untouched; I hoped one day to return when I summoned the courage.

Now I found myself back in Brooklyn staring at my old condo and seeing ghosts.

An overwhelming force drew me closer. Slowly I entered the building and climbed the stairs to my apartment. Approaching the door I could hear faint music, laughter and the sound of familiar voices. A man and a woman were inside, unaware of my presence. I stood outside the door for what seemed a lifetime. My heart pounding, I raised my fist to knock on the door, then stepped back. Resolutely and silently I walked away.

NAR © 2021

RULERS OF THE CASTLE

Scorching weather we’re experiencing, Maureen. Quite odd for June. You and Jamie should consider postponing your holiday. As you know, your Aunt Camilla detests air conditioning and I fear you will be terribly uncomfortable. Perhaps September would be a more suitable time to visit. Do let us know your decision. Hope all is well in New York.”

I stared at my uncle’s email in dismay. It had been eight years since I visited England. My husband Jamie’s family is from Scotland and we spent our honeymoon there, setting aside a few days to visit my aunt and uncle in Kent. I was looking forward to a return trip and an early summer vacation. Now Uncle George was complaining about an oppressive heatwave.

We had just booked our flights that morning and made reservations at some of the many attractions in the area. Our plans included a visit to Canterbury Cathedral, Port Lympne Animal Reserve, Chiselhurst Caves and Hever Castle with its incredible labyrinthine gardens. I could just picture our five-year-old daughter Josie running through the vast field of mazes, giggling at every dead end.

If my aunt and uncle agreed to watch Josie for a few hours, Jamie and I could go on a tour of Shepherd Neame Brewery. I must admit after years in New York I preferred my beer served ice cold in a frosty mug – not at the traditional ‘English cellar temperature’. I never did care for the taste of a tepid brew.

After telling Jamie about my uncle’s message, he reminded me that we had 24 hours to cancel our flights and reservations without incurring a penalty. The first thing we needed to do was check with the airline, then we could look into our other plans. Luck was on our side; we were able to reschedule our flights and all our activities without any problem. In fact, our new agenda was going to be even better than originally planned.

Hever Castle had recently opened an area called “Adventure Playground” where kids ruled the castle. Josie could discover and explore Tudor Towers with its 2 metre high willow structure, a giant sandpit and grassy mounds with hidden tunnels. There were secret dungeons, moats and turrets plus climbing frames, swings and slides. Josie would never want to leave!

I began having serious thoughts about moving back to England permanently. My parents chose to retire in Spain and I had no other family here in The States. Jamie, I knew, would love the idea of being closer to his relatives. Josie had just finished kindergarten and Jamie’s firm had a branch office in London. It would be an experience of a lifetime and the perfect surprise for our families to learn we’d be living in the UK again.

Good news, Uncle George! We were able to change our travel plans to September. Josie can’t wait to finally meet you in person and I’m looking forward to being with family again. We also have a big surprise planned which I’ll share with you very soon. Try to stay cool! Maureen”

Hever Castle Gardens

NAR © 2021

THAT SUMMER’S DAY

The first summer vacation we had with our two small boys was a week at the Ocean Surf in Montauk NY – the perfect family place with a large swimming pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A few rickety wooden steps led to the beach and the pool was right outside the rooms so the kids were always within sight.

Everyone was very friendly except for one Scandinavian-looking family. Their little boy played with the other kids but he would frequently glance over at his parents – loners who drank vodka by day and argued by night.

The week was fabulous and we returned the following summer. The Ocean Surf had not changed and many of the same people were there, even the Scandinavian family but this time the father was absent and the mother looked haggard.

One day the mother emerged from her room carrying a colorful inflatable raft. She told her son she was going for a float in the ocean and to stay with the other kids by the pool. We said we’d keep an eye on the boy and she murmured her thanks.

As the children played the boy would occasionally look toward the ocean where his mother floated, plainly visible in her raft. Some time later the boy jumped up yelling “Hvor er mamma?! Where’s my mom?!” She had disappeared. The boy became frantic and ran toward the beach. Families followed, scouring the ocean with binoculars. Life guards, police and the Coast Guard searched until dark when the quest was postponed until morning. Jeff and Nina Morgan, the hotel owners, consoled the boy and watched him overnight.

At dawn the search began again and the vibrant raft was found washed ashore.  Boaters were questioned and a helicopter surveyed the ocean with no luck. The mission was halted. When the police talked to the boy he tearfully explained that his dad was gone and his mom was very sad. We all had the same thought: suicide.

The boy told the police his name and address; a phone call resolved unanswered questions. The father abused his wife and son. Several  months ago the father beat the boy terribly. To save her son the mother bashed the father over the head with a fireplace poker, killing him. A quick verdict of innocent was delivered and all charges were dropped. The boy said his mother longed for the healing waters of Montauk. Family court discovered the boy had no living relatives and granted custody to the Morgans.

That was a dreadful experience for everyone yet most of us returned the next summer, I think in part to check on the boy. We were delighted to see he was physically thriving under the loving care of the Morgans but the psychological scars were still there. He played with the other kids but would often wander down to the water’s edge and stare off into the distance.

Over the next couple of years we returned to the Ocean Surf. We learned the boy’s name was Tobias but the Morgans called him Toby. He adjusted well to his new life although he still walked to the ocean every day to watch the sunrise.

Eventually our one small room at the Ocean Surf became too cramped for the four of us and we began staying at a larger place. Our sons are married now with kids of their own. The Morgans finally retired, Toby got married and he and his wife manage the hotel. Yet he still heeds the call to sit on the beach every morning and watch the sunrise over the ocean.

NAR © 2020

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

With vacation just one week away, Lauren was excited about buying a new bathing suit. Over the past year she had been diligent about diet and exercise and lost 65 pounds. She was proud of herself and eager to show off her great new figure.

At the mall she passed a few swimwear shops until one caught her eye. There was no loud music or glaring, off-putting lights; rather the atmosphere was quiet and relaxing. Feeling comfortable, she went in. 

Welcome” said the saleswoman. “May I help you or would you care to just browse?” 

Lauren explained her recent weight loss and asked for a few suggestions. 

Impressed with Lauren’s recent accomplishment, the saleswoman said she needed an eye-catching suit that would leave everyone speechless. Darting between display racks, she returned with three suits for her to try on – a blue and white polka dot bikini, a strapless jungle print bandeau and a simple one-piece with matching tunic set. 

Lauren entered the softly-lit dressing room. Stepping into the one-piece, her breath caught when she saw her reflection. The suit fit her perfectly, modestly showing off her curves, while the subdued shades of purple and turquoise shimmered slightly. The purple cotton tunic provided just the right amount of coverage. “I look amazing!” she whispered.        

Lauren bought the set and as a first-time patron received a coupon for 15% off her next purchase. 

During the week she was busy packing. On Friday morning an Uber picked her up for her flight to Mexico. 

In her hotel room Lauren put on her bathing suit, cover-up and stepped out into the pool area.  She found a free lounge chair and swept the tunic over her head. Suddenly she heard loud gasps, laughing and lewd whistling. Looking down she was appalled to see her beautiful new suit had turned totally transparent in the bright sunlight! 

Grabbing her tunic, she covered herself, humiliated. Immediately hotel security arrived and escorted her inside. 

“I don’t know where you come from, señorita, but here in Méjico we have laws!” barked the hotel manager. “I must insist you leave this hotel at once.” 

Back in her hotel room Lauren suddenly noticed the tiny label inside her bathing suit – “THE REVOLUTIONARY ‘DARE TO BE YOU’ COLOR-VANISHING SUIT!” 

Bags packed, she tossed the scandalous suit into the trash thinking ruefully to herself, “caveat emptor”. 

NAR © 2018

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

It is raining again’ Rachel thought woefully as she looked out the window of the Manhattan apartment she shared with her boyfriend Jeff. ‘And the weather forecast is for rain all week  and into the holiday weekend!’ She and Jeff talked about getting away for a few days, maybe to Washington DC or to Boston but the weather all along the east coast looked bad. Labor Day weekend was just a few days away and it would be great to escape this incessant rain. 

It is raining like crazy!” exclaimed Jeff as he entered the apartment. “I’m soaked, hon. Toss me a towel, would ya? We’ve been talking about getting away for Labor Day. Why don’t you  check the computer for vacation spots while I get changed? I’ll be back in a sec.” 

“It is raining everywhere” whined Rachel as Jeff returned to the living room. “I thought about going to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or Disney World  but they’re having rain, too.” All evening they checked out various places, with no luck. They were about to give up when Jeff shouted “Whoa, babe! Look what I found on Expedia .. two round trip tickets to Cabo San Lucas for $296 per person and only $200 for the hotel! AND NO RAIN IN SIGHT!! Let’s go for it!”  Rachel threw her arms around Jeff’s neck shrieking “Cabo! Swimming! Mojitos! SUNSHINE! HELL YEAH!!”

“It is raining, babe. Can you hear it? For the first time in ten days I don’t give a damn because tomorrow we’ll be in sunny Méjico! I’m so stoked we made those reservations the other night.” Jeff yawned while Rachel snuggled up against him. “I thought I was  dreaming”, she replied sleepily. “Cabo, here we come!” and they drifted off to sleep. When they woke the next morning, the rain had stopped but it was cloudy and the sky was gray. The Uber picked them up at 8:00 for their 10:00 flight. The closer they got to the airport, the lighter the skies became and by the time they were seated in the plane, the sun was trying to break through the clouds. They arrived in Cabo just in time for cocktails and dinner, watching the glorious sunset from the hotel’s veranda. Very early the next morning Jeff was awakened by Rachel’s crying. “Honey, what’s the matter?” he asked.    

“IT IS RAINING!!” she sobbed. 

NAR © 2018