Only The Good

I dropped onto the damp grass, a cold bottle of Riesling in my hand. I made sure to get the one with the screw-cap – it would be easier. Opening the lid, I tilted the bottle in a mock salute and took a long drink. A few tears escaped my eyes, snaking down my cheeks and dropping onto my bare legs, untanned from long months inside, escaping the cold winter.

Dammit, Lizzie! It was supposed to be me. I was the screw-up. You were the one who prayed, who went to church, who helped others and did charity work. Mother Teresa I used to call you, only half joking. You, you could save the world. Me? I was destined to destroy it. Or at least destroy anything that came into my path. It’s not supposed to work this way. “Only the good die young?” That’s bullshit. The world needs all the good people it can get. More you, less me.

I put my hand against the cold granite.

Elizabeth Anne Donohue
~
Mother * Wife * Daughter * Sister
~
January 14, 1974 – April 20, 2017

My finger traced over the word ‘sister’. You were so much more than a sister. You were everything to me. Big sister, best friend, mother, confidant, partner in crime. You weren’t supposed to leave me. Not now, not this soon. We didn’t even have a chance to grow old and wear purple and join the red hat society.

I poured some wine into the grass, as if you could taste it, and took another long swig myself. Looking up at the cloudy sky I thought of all the dark days in front of me. “I guess I have to be the responsible one now, huh?” I said aloud, as if you were sitting next to me. But then I did feel you, right next to me, nudging me like an over-protective big sister would. “Whatever, Lizzie.” I finished the wine and nestled myself against your tombstone. “Just let me rest a bit first.”

Generations

She pulled the diamond solitaire from the dusty box, carefully as if it could shatter. The gem was lackluster from years of neglect, the gold band dull and lifeless. She thought back to the last time it had seen light, it had been almost fifteen years since the funeral. Cradling the ring in her fingers, she gently rubbed and buffed it until it shone like the glistening sun. When she delivered it to her eldest son, a gift to his betrothed, she wanted it to shine just like the day her beloved husband had presented it to her. A token passed down generation to generation. She wished her husband could be here to give it to Matthew; although, if he was here, she would still be wearing it. She stifled back a tear. Now was not the time to get weepy. It was a celebration. Jason was surely smiling down on them.

Impressions

He loved me completely. At times soft and sweet, then with the passion and fury of a madman unleashed. He teased me with his sweet words and played me with his strong fingers. When we made love the mountains moved and the heavens opened to hear our cries. When we came down our bodies molded into one, with no beginning and no end. When he was gone I wept, not for the loss but for what he had given to me. He left an impression on my heart that nobody would ever be able to fill.

Midnight Cowboy

He’s back, my midnight cowboy. Singing sweet words in his deep whiskey siren voice for an audience of one. Night after endless night playing in smoky bars didn’t catapult him to fame. He returned slightly rumpled, ego bruised and I welcomed him with a standing ovation. I inhaled the smell of his cologne and sweat as I pulled him tightly to me and whispered in his ear, “Welcome home cowboy.”

Sailing

The sun peeked through the bedroom curtains, casting a glow on his scruffy beard, and my head raced with excitement. We’d waited through weeks of rain for this beautiful clear spring morning. I didn’t want to waste any of it. I did have a small pang of regret for waking him. He was so peaceful and beautiful in slumber. I could watch him for hours, his normally furrowed brow at rest, long dark lashes hiding his mesmerizing cornflower blue eyes. But this morning I couldn’t wait. I shook him like a child waking her parents on Christmas morning. “Spencer. Wake up.”

After a stop at the coffee shop – black coffee for him, Earl Grey for me – we walked hand in hand to the park. I tipped my head back, allowed the sun to warm my face and smiled. “You’re beautiful.” I turned to see his grinning face, heart-shaped lips stained red from the fresh strawberries we ate at breakfast. I waggled my eyebrows at him, “Race you” then took off running, laughter bouncing off the tree branches.

When we reached Conservatory Water I slowed and approached in awe. It was our first visit of the season and I marveled at the deep blue color of the glassy water. The light wind would be perfect for sailing boats. When we were finally ready we put our boats in the water and I watched the surface break, sending wave after tiny wave out in perfect circles. We looked at each other as if we were five-years-old, the innocence and wonder of a child pure in our eyes. A simple nod was all it took – our boats were in the water, set adrift to wait for a puff of wind that would send them sailing as far as our hearts allowed.

The Voice

My heels sunk into the soft grass. I didn’t care that they would be ruined but I couldn’t help but wonder why women wore heels to funerals or why they didn’t put something on the ground for women to walk on so they wouldn’t ruin their heels. It was a strange thought to have, considering the circumstances. My face showed no sign of the turmoil brewing deep within. A drunk driver had not only killed my husband, but by default had killed me too. I was only a shell left to muddle through the days as if life had a meaning. A single tear escaped my eye and snaked down my cheek. Making no move to wipe it away I stood woodenly alone. Too soon my family and friends would descend, smiles plastered on their faces, feigned concern in their voice. No, for now I was alone. I broke the silent morning air. “You bastard. How could you leave me?” Then finally, I smiled. Because in my head I could hear his voice echoing back. “You know, you’re ruining your favorite heels.”

Game Over

We were on the precipice, our future in the balance. What you said next would determine the rest of our life. I bit my lip and held my breath, waiting for you to speak. Seconds ticked by, agonizingly slow, your face betraying no sign of the emotions you held within. I silently exhaled, my lungs crying for oxygen. Waiting for an answer was like slow torture. Finally, you spoke. “You’re too good for me.” GAME OVER

Secrets and Lies

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© Sally-Ann Hodgekiss

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Dark, ominous clouds matched the fog in her head. The statue looked vaguely familiar, as if she’d been here before, but she wasn’t sure what she was doing here now. Sitting on the marble pedestal below, she held her throbbing head and searched her memory. Images ran wildly like an old carousel slide projector. A small hotel room overlooking a piazza. A cup of cappuccino at a sidewalk café. Holding hands with a man near a fountain. A Celtic tattoo on his forearm. A shiver of fear ran through her. Why couldn’t she remember more?

“Are you okay love? That bump on your head looks bad. I can take you somewhere to get it checked out.” She looked up into a smiling face. He spoke with an Irish brogue and seemed friendly enough. She reached for his outstretched hand and noticed the tattoo on his forearm. A memory flashed through her mind. A struggle inside the hotel room. A broken lamp. Running down a stairwell and disappearing into a crowded piazza. His smile was suddenly sinister and she pulled her hand back. A shiver of terror ran through her. “Now Abigail, let’s not put up another struggle.”

 

America’s Pastime

I enjoyed the view from the hospitality suite. He stepped beside me and held out a frosty bottle of beer. We stood in silence, sipping the cold brew and drinking in the sight of the Temple of Baseball laid out below. Players in bright white pants and bold red shirts dotted the emerald field in various stages of warm-up. Some stretched, some hit, some threw, some ran. Some merely stood talking, about what I wondered. Game strategy perhaps, or maybe something as simple as what they had planned for their day off – one day in the middle of a long stretch of back to back to back to back games. My eyes darted back and forth from one group of players to another, not settling on one spot for very long before moving again. It was a visual delight.

I breathed the smell of popcorn and hot dogs and beer and fresh cut grass and summer air, a combination unique to a baseball stadium. “It’s a beautiful day. Thank you for inviting me.” I turned to him, meeting his cornflower blue eyes. My stomach flipped at the upturned corners of his plump lips and the apple cheeks that formed when he grinned. His deep southern drawl still melted my heart. “Darlin’, baseball is no longer my favorite pastime.”

A Walk in The Clouds

We’ve almost reached our destination. We’re on final approach. The flight was unforgettable. Mostly smooth with a few bumps, some unexpected turbulence. But that’s what made it so entertaining. We soared to such heights you and I, on our journey together. But we always knew there would be an end to our story. So, take my hand as we glide back to earth. Take one more look through the clouds at the vast blue sky. Too soon we will alight and become strangers once again.

I saw that. ~ Karma

auto-aftermath

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“My mom is gonna kill me.” Abbie surveyed the damage to the car she had sideswiped while her best friend sat texting.

Without looking up from her phone, Olivia said, “You’re totally right. We should bail.”

“What?!? You’re kidding right?”

“We’re alone. If we leave fast you’re clear. Nobody has to know.”

Abbie scanned the empty street and debated, but the angel on her left shoulder won.

Tucking a note with her name and cell number under the wipers, she saw a good-looking boy exit the house across the street and walk toward her.

Karma isn’t always a bitch.

A huge thanks to Mrs Completely for introducing me to Friday Fictioneers. You should check out her blog. It’s one of my favorites.

Seasons of Love

We met on a bright spring morning. Under the pink blooms of the dogwood trees in the park. I hadn’t wanted him to pursue me. I did everything in my power to discourage him. Still he persisted. And I resisted. For as long as I could, I shut him out, afraid to give him my heart. His charm proved to be unavoidable. I fell hard. When I love, I love completely. But when I lose . . . He loved me back, for a while. It wasn’t long and it wasn’t enough. In the end, I had an empty space where my heart used to be.

We met on a crisp autumn morning. Under the flaming red leaves of the dogwood trees in the park . . .

My Forever Man

I love a man who can cook. I was lucky enough to have found a man who could cook and sing. A sexy man with many talents is a dangerous thing.

He was making berry pancakes with cream cheese and berry filling, one of my favorite breakfast dishes. Even if it was almost noon. He moved skillfully around the kitchen, measuring, chopping, adding things to the bowl. He hummed as he went, probably without even realizing it was my favorite song. He’d written it years ago, well before we met. Before life had beaten him down and love had twisted his heart. Back when he was still full of hope and dreams and good intentions. Whenever I heard the lyrics I liked to imagine that man was still somewhere inside of him.

A small sigh escaped my lips as I drank in the sight of him. His short dark hair spiked wildly with no particular sense of direction. The sleeves of his blue and white plaid shirt were rolled up to his elbows, showing off his tanned forearms. Calloused fingers moved quickly and as effortlessly as if he was playing the guitar. Long lashes framed bright cornflower blue eyes which I got just a glimpse of every now and then when his head moved just so. His lips were full and when he looked up and saw me staring intently, they curved up at the corners into an impish grin that made my toes curl.

He lifted the spoon from the mixing bowl and carried it over to me, one hand underneath to protect the tile floor from drips. I took a tentative lick and closed my eyes, breathing in deeply. “Oh, my God, that tastes like sin.” He put the spoon to his own lips and I felt the warmth of desire spread through me. He could make even the simple act of licking a spoon sexy as hell. He scrunched his nose and shrugged modestly. “Mmmm. Not bad.”

Moving back to his place behind the kitchen island, I watched him continue. His hands moved quickly and he still hummed softly. I felt butterflies form in my stomach. I was completely and hopelessly in love with him. I wanted to know this wasn’t temporary – this feeling, this thing between us. He’d been burned pretty badly in the past but, hadn’t we all been hurt? We’d said the words, shared the passion. I knew he loved me. I just didn’t know if he loved me forever.

Yin and Yang

I had a lengthy, semi-humorous post about Google searches, the word “lifestyle” and condoms. Long story short, my snarky and sarcastic sense of humor does not translate well to the written word. I’ll leave that to the expert humor bloggers. If you don’t follow any, I can recommend a few. After all, everyone needs a little humor in their life. And perhaps tomorrow’s word will better lend itself to my melancholic and angsty style of writing. Life is all about balance. Humor and angst. Yin and yang.

Heart Wall

She tried to open her heart and let them in. But she had built the wall deep and tall and strong. And the harder she struggled to break it down the more she feared the pain of rejection. The thing she wanted most was the thing that would destroy her. So she closed herself up and locked them out and continued her solitary journey in silent still loneliness.

She’s A Head Case

A Gods of P B & J Story

I stood on the top rung of the ladder holding the garden hose in one hand while the other hand pulled gunk out of the gutters. My face contorted in disgust at the mushy mixture of decomposed leaves, pollen and what looked like deceased insects; although, I didn’t try very hard to confirm the last one. My children playing in the yard below me were the only thing keeping me from vocalizing the string of curse words circling in my head.

This was a job my ex-husband had normally taken care of, and one I couldn’t afford to outsource. I had already relied too heavily on my BFF/single dad partner in crime/angel of mercy Adam, (whose daughter Katie was in my Noah’s kindergarten class) to help with these “manly” chores. As a newly dedicated feminist I was determined to do this one on my own. I just had to keep from puking my lunch up and I’d be fine. Or at least I would eventually recover from the emotional trauma of dead bugs under my fingernails. In a day or two. A week tops. SO GROSS!!

“Mommy, can I ride my bike?” Noah had recently gotten a new bike for his birthday and I could barely keep the kid off it. I also considered buying stock in whichever company makes band-aids. I was pretty sure they would make a killing on me by Noah’s eighteenth birthday.

“Sweetie, you have to wait until I’m finished and I can watch you.” I yelled the words over my shoulder since I was somewhat precariously balanced. “Hannah, are you down there?”

“But I don’t need to be watched. I’m a expert.” He yelled back at me and I heard the sound of his feet on the concrete driveway and pictured him running to get his helmet. Hannah hadn’t answered me so I wasn’t certain if she was watching him. “I promise to be careful.”

“Noah Alexander Pierce don’t even think about riding that bicycle!” I turned slightly on the step to get a look at him, forgetting about the water gushing from the hose in my hand. I lost my traction and my feet slipped off the ladder. I let out a shriek as I free fell a few rungs down before grabbing onto the ladder for dear life.

My heart raced and I took in a deep breath. Whew, that was a close one. The gods of peanut butter and jelly must have been looking out for me. I almost . . . unfortunately that thought never got completed because my wet hands couldn’t maintain their grip on the ladder and I fell the rest of the way to the grass below.

I woke up in the ambulance, groggy and confused and strapped to a backboard. I felt wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy. Minus the cool makeup. I still managed to put up a good struggle and the paramedics had to subdue me. “Where are my kids? They’re alone. I need to be home.”

“It’s ok ma’am. (Ma’am?!?!?) Your neighbor has your kids. You took a nasty fall and we need to get you checked out. Just relax.” I fell from a ladder, lost consciousness and I was in an ambulance alone while my children were home with Jessica, probably scared out of their minds. It’s not like I was in a freaking day spa. Relax? Seriously? What kind of pep talk was that?

Five hours, one CT scan, one MRI and 3 X-rays later and the doctors boiled it down to a concussion and a sprained wrist. A $6000.00 concussion and sprained wrist. The nurse brought the discharge papers and trailing behind her was a tall figure, my angel of mercy, Adam. “My babysitter is at your house with the kids. We’ll get you out of here and safe at home.” His voice was soothing and comforting and I was relieved he had come to my rescue – again. Then I realized I was in a flimsy hospital gown that didn’t leave much to the imagination. I pulled the sheet a bit higher across my chest. “Right, I’ll just wait outside while you get changed.” I noticed the red tinge on his cheeks as he ducked out of the room.

Once home I changed into a comfy pair of pajamas and brushed my teeth. Adam got me settled in my bedroom. “The kids are sleeping. Katie is in Hannah’s room. The doctor said I should wake you every hour to check on you. I’ll be on the floor in Noah’s room if you need me.”

“Adam, you shouldn’t sleep on the floor. You should . . .” my voice trailed off since I couldn’t think of exactly where he could sleep. My mind was too fuzzy to come up with an alternative.

“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me, just get some rest.” He reached down and his hand brushed my hair. Waves of warmth radiated through my veins. “I’m glad you’re okay Kim. When Jessica called, I was so worried. It’s a good thing you have such a hard head.” I smiled at his attempt at a joke and the actual distressed look on his face. It was kinda nice to know he cared.

“Goodnight Adam. And thank you.” He turned off the light and I drifted off to sleep dreaming about ladders and bicycles and dead bugs and angels dressed like dads.

I woke up with a jolt, feeling a large presence next to me. Slowly turning my head, I saw the chiseled features of my very own angel of mercy, softened by the early morning sun peeking through the window. Holy peanut butter and jelly. I sat straight up, instantly regretting the rapid movement. What was I doing in bed with Adam? And why was my head throbbing so much? It started to come back. A ladder. An ambulance. A concussion. But why was Adam in my bed? Or actually, on my bed.

Next to me, Adam stirred and his eyes slowly opened. “Morning. Kim. Oh no. Kim.” He rolled off the bed, easily since he had only been lying on top of the comforter, and stood over me, face flushed and absentmindedly running his fingers through his tousled hair. “Kim, I’m so sorry. I came to check on you and I must have fallen asleep. Sleeping on the floor all night wasn’t very comfortable, well I thought I would just rest a bit on the bed before I went back to Noah’s room. I didn’t intend to fall asleep. I’m so sorry. Nothing happened I promise. I would never take advantage of you in this situation.” He was rambling which I might normally find adorable but with my throbbing head I just wanted him to stop so I lifted my hand in the universal STOP sign.

My voice came out very quietly. “It’s okay. Really. Just, could you get me some aspirin?” He nodded and rushed to the bathroom and I heard him rustling through the cabinets. I didn’t even care about the messy room or what he might find in the cabinets (except maybe the flavored condoms that Heather gave me as a joke when my divorce was finalized). I let out a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the gods of peanut butter and jelly. I was alive and for the first time in over a year I hadn’t slept alone.

Written In The Stars

We met on a hot August afternoon. It felt like a hundred stars exploded. It was love at first sight. We spent our days exploring the world and our nights soaring to heights unimaginable. I was certain that our destiny was sealed in the universe. But the fates had another plan for us.

The funny thing about climbing is that at some point you have to fall.