#BlogBattle 3: Air – Rhythm is Gonna Get You

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey. She has changed things up a little bit.  Now the word and the genre is provided.  This will definitely stretch my creative muscles as I attempt to write other types of stories.

Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

This Week’s Word: Air

Genre:  Suspense/thriller – fiction about harm about to befall a person or group and the attempts made to evade the harm

Not sure if this qualifies as suspense/thriller,  gave it the old college try 🙂

Rhythm is Gonna Get You

I wake up like I always do. With coffee and newspaper in hand, I step out on my deck to enjoy the early morning quietness before work. My yard is my haven, my sanctuary, the place I retreat to for peace and quiet. My job on the floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is anything but peaceful. I stand up, take a deep breath of fresh air, and set my things down on the patio table. Stepping off the deck to check on my hanging planters, I near the grass. Something was odd, different. Yes, it was taller than normal, and at the top of my to do list for the weekend. But as I crouch down, I notice a large insect resting on the tip of a grass blade. As my eyes adjust, there are actually thousands of them, all balancing gracefully on the grass tips.  Unlike flies, they are undaunted by my presence or sudden movement, as I step back. Returning to the patio table to drink my coffee, I open the newspaper, my attention drawn to a headline that reads 17-YEAR ABSENCE BILLIONS OF CICADAS TO DESCEND ON THE MIDWEST. Skimming over the article, I peer out at the scene before me, thinking, they’re here. I go to work, without another thought to this invasion of my sanctuary.

Little did I know that this would be the day from hell.  I lost a boatload of money for one of my biggest clients, I’m lucky I didn’t lose my job.  Damn, I haven’t made a rookie mistake like that in 17 years.  My boss is being generous, he requests I take a mandatory vacation.  One to clear my head so I can get back in the game.  I’ve seen it happen to many of my colleagues, never thought I’d be one of them.  I stayed alert, stayed sharp, but this unexpected turn of the market came out of nowhere, I wasn’t the only one who lost big.

I spend the first 45 minutes of my drive home in silence to decompress.  The last leg of my trip, I crank up the tunes until I pull into my driveway greeted by the sweet sounds of nature that my overpriced mortgage affords me.

I pull up and turn off the ignition.  I pause, it isn’t quiet.  What I hear is something I’ve never heard before.  It is a loud hum, a buzzing kind of sound, yet it is very melodic, it isn’t made by one, but rather a legion.  The sound reverberates from the trees, the volume ebbs and flows like the swell of waves coming on to shore.  I notice my grass is no longer covered with insects.  Just like the article said, they retreat into the trees and make a lot of noise, this won’t be so bad.

I walk into the house, expecting to be hit with cool air, but I’m not.  I don’t hear the central air running, check the thermostat.  It’s set on 68, but it reads almost 80 as the indoor temp.  Just what I need, I’ll deal with that tomorrow, I’ll just open some windows. 

All evening, and well into the night, the cadence of the cicada’s musicality serenades me.  But finally, by about 11 p.m., as if some great maestro waved his wand, it stops.  The silence is deafening.  Good I can get some sleep.  Oh, there were a few interruptions throughout the night, occasionally one rogue cicada buzzed just to be heard, just like a petulant child.  But for the most part quiet.

The next morning is a different story.  With the rising of the sun, the cicadas awoke, somewhat discombobulated.  There was no melodic tune.  It was more sporadic, creating a cacophony that I thought would make my ears bleed.

With no luck in getting a Heating and Cooling guy out today, not until the first of the week, I move on with my day. I go outside to cut the grass, first checking to be sure none of the insects are still there, all clear.  With the lawnmower humming, I begin my trek across the yard.  The cicadas must be drawn to the sound of the mower, they begin to swarm around me landing on my arms and back.  They don’t bite or sting, they are just annoying, so much so I have to go back inside.  As the sun begins to set, the dissonance turns into a melodic lullaby.

Several days pass, the constant sound makes me irritable and fidgety.  My best friend and colleague calls several times, leaving messages just to check on me.  Each time the phone rings or pings with an incoming message, I feel like I could jump out of my skin.  I don’t return his calls, my text replies are brief. I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone.   It’s as if the cicada’s rhythm controls me.  During the day, I’m agitated and unable to focus, but as the evening comes to a close, the lull calms me, it’s then that I discover in my research, these annoying invaders are actually good to eat. The following afternoon, as I prepare to dig into my bar-b-que feast, my phone chirps with an incoming message.

Dude, haven’t heard from you, what’s up?

            Nothing

You OK?

            Fine.

Thought I might stop by.

            No, don’t

Why not?

            Not a good idea. Stay away.

The next thing I know, he’s pounding on my door.  “Martin, it’s me Greg, open up.”

Walking slowly to open the door, I nonchalantly say, “Hey Greg,” as I flop back down on the couch.

“Dude, what the hell? You look like crap.”

Looking down at my clothes I wonder when I had actually put them on.  I scratch the stubble on the side of my face.  Hmmm I should probably shave.

Trying to snap me out of it, Greg abruptly says, “Martin!! How can you stand this noise?”

I reply, “You get used to it.  It’s not so bad at night.”

He must have noticed my restlessness.  It was then he says, “I’m getting you out of here. I’m going to grab some of your clothes, you can crash at my place for a while. Why is it so hot in here?”

“Air conditioner is broken.”

When he comes back with my gym bag full, he says, “C’mon, let’s go.”

We are only a couple of blocks away from my house, when I notice a change in the air.  The noise, it’s gone.  When I get to his house, the first thing I do is take a shower.  As the hot water streams down my body, I feel like I am waking up from a dream.  The events of the last couple of days run through my mind like a bad quality movie.

When I’m dressed, I walk into the kitchen. “Let’s eat,” says Greg as he comes in from outside, with a couple of steaks on a plate.  The delicious aroma causes my stomach to grumble.  Nah, I couldn’t of.  Did I actually eat barbecued cicadas?

 

© 2017 Carrie Ann

 

This story is based on a real experience.  I have experienced an invasion of cicadas. Needless to say the kids and I freaked out when we saw thousands of them all perched on the blades of grass in our yard. It’s like they all just appeared in full force one morning.  My oldest son filled his super-soaker water gun and open fired on them, and they did. not. move.  The noise is just as I described, and can produce a sound in excess of 100 decibels, a loud rock concert measures in at 120 decibels.  My mom did not believe me when I told her the noise was constant and how loud it was until she experienced it herself.  This went on for weeks.

 

#BlogBattle 2: Thorn – Happy Endings

🙂 New Year, New #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey. She has changed things up a little bit.  Now the word and the genre is provided.  This will definitely stretch my creative muscles as I attempt to write other types of stories.  Had to look up what fan fiction was.

Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

This Week’s Word: Thorn

Genre: Fan Fiction – fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters or settings from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.

 

Happy Endings

The visit with Jason’s great aunt was very pleasant.  Nita had met Jason through his Grandmother, Sophia.  Nita was her hairstylist, and Sophia adored her.  Nita was surprised that this aunt was his grandmother’s sister.  Because for as much as Sophia was outspoken and charismatic, Aunt Lorraine was not.  Yet Nita enjoyed her company just as well.

The next part of their trip was a surprise.  Jason rented a car, and they were driving to their next destination.  It was a beautiful spring day, the warmth of the sun filled the car as the quiet music danced on the cool breeze. Every so often they would talk, share stories of trips they took as kids or just sit in companionable silence as the mile markers ticked by.  In those moments, Nita would catch a glimpse of Jason, and her heart would still skip a beat.  They say the best relationships are the ones you never saw coming.  She smiles to herself thinking how lucky she is to be his girl.

Their destination is not far from the exit.  It seems like somewhat of a small town, or maybe it’s because they have turned down Main Street and have passed a pizzeria and a bookstore cafe called Turn the Page.  When Nita sees it, she points it out and says, “Look a bookstore!!”

“Yes, I know, we’ll check it out tomorrow.” Jason replies knowingly.

They pull up to Inn Boonsboro.  Nita gets out and stretches her legs as Jason grabs their bags from the trunk.  She takes in the architecture of the Inn, it’s stone front, wooden doors, the gabled windows on the second floor resting just above a balcony that spans the width of the building.  “Oh Jason, it’s beautiful.” Nita exclaims.  He kisses her on the cheek, and takes hold of her hand and leads her inside.  “I knew you’d like it.”

They enter a cozy area with intimate seating in front of a fireplace, and a woman behind the desk greets them genuinely.  “Hello, Mr. Aldrich?”

“Yes, Hello. Call me Jason, this is my girlfriend Nita.”

“Nice to meet you, I’m Hope Beaumont, we spoke on the phone.”  She extends her hand and warmly shakes each one.

“Your room is all ready for you.  You will be staying in the Elizabeth and Darcy Room.  Each of our rooms bear the names of literary lovers, those who found their happy endings.”

When Nita figures it out, she looks at Jason in surprise and says, “Pride and Prejudice, my favorite!!”

He returns the smile, and says, “I know.”

Hope hands them the key, “I will show you to your room, but first I’ll show you the common areas, and give you a little background of the hotel if you’d like.”

“Yes, please.” Nita replies.

“The Inn has been completely renovated keeping most of the original architecture, yet adding modern conveniences.  It is owned by the Montgomery family.  Justine Montgomery is responsible for choosing all the furnishings, and the details that went into each room.  Her three sons did all the work.  As they worked diligently on the renovation, they realized that the Inn had a resident ghost.”

“Are you kidding me?” Nita says without containing her excitement.

Hope lets out a small laugh, “No, I’m not.  But rest assured she is no longer here.  In your room you will find a booklet that tells her story, I think it’s one of the greatest love stories of all time.  Here we are, enjoy your stay, whatever you need, don’t hesitate to ask.”

They enter the room and Nita takes in the beauty of it all.  As she exits the bathroom, Jason grabs her around her waist and holds her in his arms.  “Oh Jason, it’s gorgeous.  This is the perfect place, all the things I could possibly want.”

With a slow, deep kiss, he says, “Whatever baby wants, baby gets.  Why don’t you relax in that luxurious bathtub before it’s time to get ready for dinner.  He gives her a quick kiss, and reluctantly releases her, “I’ll be back shortly.”

Nita enjoys a long, leisurely bubble bath using the lavender scented bath amenities supplied.  Each room has its own signature scent.   Oh how Nita loves the smell of lavender.  She slips into the hotel bath robe just as she hears Jason return.

“You look well rested.” He says as he brushes her hair from her face.

“It was wonderful.” She says with a sigh.

“Let me jump in the shower, then we can go down to dinner when you’re ready.”

Jason enters the room wearing a black suit, accented with a turquoise colored shirt and tie.  Nita walks up to him smooths his lapels and says, “Even Mr. Darcy himself can’t hold a candle to you Jason, looking this good.”

“And you my dear Nita are beautiful.” He says with a caress to her cheek.

“Shall we.” Jason extends his arm to Nita as they head down to the dining room for dinner.

They are seated at a table in the corner near the fire place, the ambience is perfect. Jason pulls out the chair for Nita before she sits.  On her plate lies one single red rose. She picks it up, closes her eyes and inhales its fragrance, the smile on her face expresses her approval.  She opens her eyes and examines it further.  “Jason, there isn’t one thorn on the stem, it’s lovely.”

“There’s significance to that you know.  A thornless red rose signifies love at first sight.”

“I did not know that.” Nita replies curiously.

“Nita, when I first saw you, it was love at first sight for me.  It just took me a while to do something about it.  I’m a man of few words, so I brought you here, to a place that I knew would hold a special place in your heart.  Nita, you have bewitched me body and soul.  I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.” With that he removes a velvet box from his pocket, gets down on one knee and continues.  “Nita, will you spend forever with me? Will you marry me?”

“Jason!!” Surprised, elated, and overjoyed, breathlessly she manages to answer, “Yes…yes, a thousand times yes!!”

He removes the antique diamond ring from the box and slips it on her finger, kissing her knuckles.  She holds her hand out to admire it, “Jason, it’s just perfect, I love it.”  She wraps her arms around his neck hugging him yet not taking her eyes off the ring.  He wraps his arms around her waist and lifts her from her chair embracing his future.  He sets her back down, as he sits down he explains, “It was my great grandmother’s ring, that was the reason for the visit to Aunt Lorraine, she had it all ready for me.  I knew you would like it and cherish the significance of it being an heirloom.”

Hope had been watching the scene play out from a distance, being that she helped orchestrate the evening.  When she felt it was safe to approach, she walked over and congratulated a beaming Nita with a hug.  “Jason, are you ready to order now?”

With a sigh of relief, and pure joy, he says, “Yes, my fiancée and I would like to order now.” Looking at Nita, knowing they found their happy ending.

© 2017 Carrie Ann

This was a bit of a double whammy, this story was set in the Inn Boonsboro from Nora Robert’s Trilogy

 

With a nod to Pride and Prejudice (book/movie)

prideandprejudiceposter

#BlogBattle 70: Derelict – Finding Home

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey.  Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

This is a story that I started as part of a writing exercise created by the illustrious Candice Coates.  The original was just a thought, hope this revised edition is an improvement.

This week’s word:  Derelict

Genre:  Contemporary/Inspirational

 
Finding Home

Addison takes the Lasagna out of the oven, puts in the garlic bread and sets the timer. She pulls the salad out of the fridge, sets it on the table a few steps away. She thinks to herself, oh what I wouldn’t give for a large kitchen. Being that she loves to cook, a couple of times a month, she prepares dinner and invites her friend Bryce. They have known each other since Junior High; both of their families are really good friends. There have never been any romantic feelings between them; they simply enjoy each other’s company. Both have demanding jobs during the week, and this is how they like to spend their Saturday evenings, together, two friends breaking bread and catching up.

Just then there’s a knock at the door. Addison walks to the door and opens it. Bryce comes in carrying a bottle of wine, and what looks to be a bakery box. He hands her the wine. “Ohhh what’s in the box?” She inquires.

“Just you wait and see, I may even share. The traffic is horrendous in this city.”

“I tell you every time, take the train. You never listen.”

“I don’t take trains. Besides I have an F150 pickup, it can handle anything.”

“Except traffic, obviously.” She says under her breath, but Bryce doesn’t hear her.

The timer goes off, she removes the garlic bread and plates the food, while Bryce pours the wine.

Dinner conversation flows easily between these two friends. Filling each other in about their jobs; hers a Financial Advisor, his, the owner of a construction company. When they are done, Bryce clears away the dishes, and brings two plates and the bakery box to the table. “I’ll be nice and share, you sound like you’ve had some kind of week.”

He opens the box to reveal a decadent Black Forest Cake, cuts them each a slice, and smiles at her reaction as he sets her slice in front of her. He knows this is her favorite. “Enjoy.”

They savor the first few bites without a word. Bryce breaks the silence by asking, “So. Why is your job stresses you out so much? That’s not like you, you love your job.”

She nods her head and replies, “I do. It’s just that lately, I’m getting tired of this whole big city life. See, you played it smart, you found a place outside the city to live and commute. Me? I had to have it all, the high power job, the fancy clothes, and the expensive apartment. I felt like I outgrew our small town and needed to expand my horizons. But now, I think I might miss it.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“Funny you should ask. I actually wanted to talk to you about that.”

“Okay, spill it.”

“My cousin Sharon let me know that my parent’s house is being auctioned. I think I might want to buy it.”

“What? How long has it been empty? What kind of shape is it in?”

“What I know for sure is that my sister sold it to a guy who rented it out, before he let it go into foreclosure. I don’t have all the details yet, she is going to send me that information, and said she could get me in there to see it. Soooo…that’s where you come in. Would you go with me to look at it?”

“You know I will. But what if it needs a lot of work? How will you get it done?”

She rests her chin on her hand, and just looks at him with a slight smile, batting her eyes at him.

“Addy!!” he chides.

“Please Bryce? Just look at it with me. If it’s a lot of work, I’m willing to do it, but I need you to help me. I have tons of vacation time racked up. I plan to use it, to work on the house and find another job. I need a change, and a project I am passionate about. My folks loved that house, they always wanted one of us to have it. I never really wanted it, so that is why I let my sister have it. But now…I just have to get it back.”

Bryce lets out an exasperated sigh, “You know I’d do anything for you Addy.”

With a huge smile Addison says, “Thank you so much, can we go see it tomorrow?”

Reluctantly he says, “Yes. But I get to take the cake home with me.”

“Deal. You’re the best.” She gets up and gives him a hug.

“So I’ve been told,” he says with a laugh.

~ ♦ ~

The next morning Bryce and Addison make the hour long drive back to their hometown. With some new developments, the landscape has changed, but the feel is still the same. It feels like home.

There’s a realtor already there waiting for them, talking on her phone. She waves to them as she finishes her call.

Addison gets out of the car. She stops in front of the house and just stares at it, it’s worse than she thought it would be. Her only thought, how can anyone allow a home to lay derelict for so long?

She forces her legs to move forward. “Hello, Addison, I’m Megan, I’m good friends with Sharon. You ready to take a look?”

“Hi Megan, this is my friend Bryce, nice to meet you. Would it be possible for us to take a look by ourselves?”

“Sure, go right ahead.”

Bryce and Addison enter the house. So much of it is familiar, but yet different. The house is not only dirty, but there are still a few household items lying around, as if someone needed to leave in a hurry. Everywhere she looks, it is in need of repair. Bryce looks at it differently he points out all the good, as they move from room to room.

They approach the last room, Addison inquires, “So you’re saying that it’s not beyond repair?”

“Yes, in my opinion, the structure is good, it just looks really bad. It won’t be easy or quick, but it can be done. I’m up for the challenge if you are. Let’s see what this room looks like.”

She rests her hand on his chest to stop him from moving forward. “That was my room, if you don’t mind, I’d like to go in there alone.”

“I know, take your time, I’ll go look around some more.”

The door whispers on its hinges as her fingers gently push it open, her stomach leaps as the light from the window washes over the scene inside the room. It is completely empty. She had forgotten just how much sunlight poured into this room at this time of day. Once she steps over the threshold, it’s as if all the memories that were contained within these walls came out to greet her.

Closing her eyes, she hears the joyful laughter of a little girl playing with her Fischer Price schoolhouse, and the conversations between her Barbie Dolls. She hears music playing; the one constant in this room, only the tempo and rhythm changing to fit the mood or year. She heard telephone conversations that left her broken hearted, and a lifelong memory of first love lost. She felt the soft, fluffy fur of the golden retriever nuzzled against her, enveloping her with unconditional love as his cool, wet, nose brushed against her cheek as he licked away her tears. She pictures the walls covered in posters of her would-be boyfriend; a young John Stamos. She heard giggles and squeals of teenage girls, and felt the affect of sleepless nights as hopes and dreams were shared until the sun came up. She felt her mom’s warm embrace and heard her always encouraging words, “don’t let anyone dull your sparkle…believe in yourself…you can do anything you set your mind to.” These words spoken in love always eliminating any disappointment she felt within herself.

As if her mother was there, encouraging here again, she felt a peace and calm, knowing this was the right thing to do. Her parents loved this home, it was the only one they had ever known. She could make it a home of her own, yet honor their memory as well. She opens her eyes, and quickly walks out of her bedroom.

She finds Bryce looking around in the kitchen. When he sees her he asks, “So?”

Without saying a word, she nods her head yes. Her face is overtaken by a content smile, and a hint of a tear rests in the corner of her eye.

“Ok then, let’s do this” Bryce enthusiastically says, as he drapes his arm over her shoulders and leads her back outside.

She walks up to Megan and says, “I’ll take it.”

“Excellent!! It has a lot of potential, and with some work and a little TLC it can be a beautiful place you can call home.” Megan replies with her well-trained enthusiasm.

With a wistful smile, Addison agrees, “I already do.”

© 2016 Carrie Ann

Check out Candice’s Blog here.

#BlogBattle 69: Hazel – The Trip of a Lifetime

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey.  Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

This Week’s Word: Hazel

Genre: Contemporary/Inspirational

 

The Trip of a Lifetime

Even though Michael and Nita own their Hair Salon together, and see each other every day, they sometimes meet outside of work to catch up or just hang out.

Michael has been away for a couple of days, his Aunt Hazel recently passed away. He was summoned by her lawyer, for the reading of her will. He was saddened when he heard the news of her passing, he has so many fond memories of long summer evenings spent with her, just sitting on her back porch talking until the lightning bugs came out. Even on the hottest of days, they sat and drank coffee, and snacked on Sara Lee Coffee Cake. She would bring out the flavored coffee creamers whenever she had company, calling herself fancy. But never once did she have Hazelnut Coffee Cream.

One day Michael asked her about it, “Why don’t you ever have Hazelnut Coffee Cream?”

Shaking her head she says “Because it offends me.”

Trying not to laugh, “How can it offend you? You mean it doesn’t agree with you?”

More adamant, she replied, “No. That’s the name I was teased with as a kid. I refuse to have such a thing in my house, let alone drink it.”

He smiles at the memories, and continues his drive home. It’s amazing how drastically life can change in the blink of an eye.

About an hour from home, he calls Nita. He wants to talk to her without the interruptions of a busy day.

“Hey, I’m on my way back, let’s meet somewhere to grab something to eat. I want to tell you all about my trip.”

“Ok great, I just found this wonderful new sub shop, called Firehouse Subs, it’s decorated like a firehouse, and was actually founded by fireman.”

“Ohhhh sounds delicious.”

“Michael, they’re just subs. It’s in the strip mall on 119th Street. What time should I meet you there?”

“I can be there in an hour. Oh, and Nita, I wasn’t talking about the subs. Bye!!” he disconnects the call with a smile on his face.

As they walk up to the sub shop, Michael reads the sign on the door aloud, “Founded by Fireman, Ohhh that’s fun, I hope we run into some. I mean literally run into them.” He turns his head and nods as he looks at Nita and opens the door.

Giving him a playful push through the door, “Oh my god Michael, behave.” Nita says shaking her head.

After taking far too long to decide what he wanted to order, they finally get their food and find a table and sit down.

“So tell me all about your trip.”

“Well. The ride down is always nice, the weather was gorgeous, I was cruising in my ‘stang with the top down, and the tunes cranked up, the wind in my hair and not a care in the world.” He dramatically says as he looks off into the distance.

“Michael” Nita startles him out of his reverie. “How about you get to the part about meeting the lawyer.” She nods her head with a smile as she takes a bite of her sandwich.

He clutches his chest and laments, “You wound me with your harshness.”

With a dramatic eye roll, Nita takes another bite of her sandwich.

“Fine. I was getting to that part anyway. It seems that dear Aunt Hazel had a secret. Pfsh, like I didn’t already know.” He gave a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Really?” With eyes wide and eyebrows raised.

Michael knowingly nods his head and hands her an envelope, “The lawyer said he was instructed by my aunt to inform me of my inheritance, and then give me this letter to read. Here, read it for yourself.”

Nita wipes her hands on a napkin and reaches over to take the envelope. She pulls a folded letter from it and begins to read it to herself.

My Dearest Michael –

Surprised? I can just picture you now, your mouth wide open, and you frantically fanning yourself like you are about to pass out. Close your mouth, and calm down, no need getting all verklempt.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to make everyone happy by doing what was expected of me, and what was right. I have decided that in my passing, I will finally do what I want. You and your mother are the only family I have left. Well, there is actually someone else. There always has been someone else, and I think you already knew that. She is the other beneficiary.

Being neighbors for so many years, and then young widowers for many more, Rose and I formed a bond that went beyond friendship. Our husband’s life insurance policies paid off our houses, and left us enough money to live a comfortable life. Together we invested wisely, and multiplied what we had. We had a good life together, and we were very happy.

She adores you, she remembers all the conversations we all had talking about traveling and seeing the world. That is what I want for you Michael. I have watched you live your life to the fullest, not caring what anyone thinks of you or your choices. I want you to use this inheritance to travel and see the world. I want you to be happy. Please resist the urge to put this money into your business. You are smart as a whip and a damn good hair stylist, your business will be just fine.

One final request. Please look after Rose for me, and be sure to send her a postcard from all the far away lands you visit.

Love-
Aunt Hazel

“Wow Michael, that is wonderful!! When is your first trip? Where is your first trip?” truly excited for him.

“Well. Before I left, I went to visit Rose. We had a nice visit. Turns out, her granddaughter is having one of those destination weddings in Hawaii. Rose didn’t want to travel alone, so she thought she would miss it.” He lifted his shoulder in a half shrug, “I suggested that I be her plus one. The wedding is in December.” Thinking nothing of it, he takes a bite of his sandwich, then looks up at Nita.

She is just staring at him with a huge smile on her face.

“What?” He questions.

“Michael!! You are simply the best.” She says with admiration.

“Yeah, I know…it’s a gift.” He replies with a smirk.

Nita wads up a napkin and throws it at him. Shaking her head, she smiles and rolls her eyes.

© 2016 Carrie Ann

#BlogBattle 67: Tea – My Cup of Tea

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey.  Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

Recently a friend of mine was surprised when they found out I had begun writing. Since then, they have been encouraging me to continue participating in the blogbattles. Surprisingly, I found they have some writing skills of their own. This story is our collaboration.

This Week’s Word: Tea

Genre: Drama/Romance

My Cup of Tea

The whistle breaks the silence of the day. Patrick walks over to the stove, turns the gas off, and removes the kettle from the front burner. He walks over to the kitchen table, already having placed his last tea bag in his cup, he slowly pours the water filling the cup just below the brim. Returning the kettle and its remaining contents to the stove, Patrick finally sits down to begin his ritual of preparing his tea just right, when he pauses in mid-lift. He soaks in the quietness, as he recalls the bustling activities of the last few days.

His daughter, Jasmine, caught her flight back home this morning, making quite the fuss about wanting to stay longer, but having so much on her plate back at work. Just this morning alone, he assured her a dozen times that he would be fine. But would he. How could he be so sure, this was all new territory. The truth was, he had never buried a wife before. Never been forced to say goodbye to the love of his life. Never experienced this home without her lovely voice filling up the rooms. And he had never had his afternoon tea without her pleasant conversation as the main dish, but he was about to for the very first time. He lowers the tea bag back into his cup, as the first tear runs down the side of his cheek.

He had hidden this last tea bag, so that the guests in the house would not indulge in it. He knew he would need something special to get him through these first lonely hours. It was her favorite after all, Chocolate Chai Tea. Who was he kidding, he liked it just as much as she did; them both being chocolate lovers. Yet he always let her have the last tea bag. Every…single…time, until today.

He adds a splash of milk, and a little bit of sugar, finishing it just the way they both liked it. Raising the cup he allows the steam to dance around his nose, until the decadent smell of chocolate overtakes his senses. With the first sip of chocolate mingled with spice, he closes his eyes, and just like that, he is taken back to a few weeks before when they sat in this very spot planning their next trip. Actually, every trip they had ever taken had been planned at this very table over a cup of tea. She was the planner, the one who wanted to see the world. “So much good stuff to see Patrick,” she would tell him during the planning phase. He was the homebody type, he had seen more than he wanted at an early age. He became her designated driver, and went along with whatever she planned.

Taking another drink, the irony was not lost on him that he could now remain safely home, where he had always preferred. But now, she was on a long trip alone, without him.

Their next trip was to see their eldest daughter, and her kids. Angela was beaming with joy. She loved those grandkids, and loved spoiling them more. Now that they were teenagers, she knew they would be heading out on their own adventures soon, so this trip was going to be big!! She talked about the sights they would see, the things they would do. How she would take them shopping and what she would buy them. She understood the younger generation and what they liked, and she knew exactly where to look and how to find the bargains. That’s what he loved about her most, she didn’t have to worry about trying to stretch a dime, but she did it anyway. She once told him that was her contribution, he made the money, she made it stretch. With another drink, a smile crosses his lips, all he ever wanted to do was make her happy. After all, she was his angel.

That’s what he called her the first time he met her. The local Y hosted a Military Dance the night before a new group of young men, fresh from boot camp, were to be shipped out on their first tour in Vietnam. He recalls the moment he saw her, as she walked in, dressed in white, her reddish brown hair hanging down her back shimmering like silk. She was a vision, an object of desire by many of the boys in uniform who couldn’t take their eyes off of her. It didn’t faze her one bit, she was having too much fun with her group of friends. She politely turned down most of the requests for dances, and if she did dance with a soldier, it was always to an upbeat tune, never a slow dance. Patrick spent most of his time just watching her, talking and laughing, deciding which boy she would dance with next. He was smitten.

After a long set of more upbeat songs, the music slowed, the easy melody of “Something” by the Beatles filled the room. Without hesitation, yet with the grace of a dancer, she walked right up to him and said, “Hello Soldier, may I have this dance?”

With a smile on his face that he could not contain, she took him by the hand and led him to the dance floor. Yes, I am the luckiest guy in this room, he thought at the time. All eyes were on them as they found a clearing on the floor. She turned to him, took his hand, and placed it firmly on the small of her back. Together they began to sway to the music, their bodies brushing up against each other. He remembered how they had danced the entire song without a word spoken. When the next song began, they remained in each other’s grasp, but neither moved an inch. He introduced himself, gazing into her green eyes that sparkled with flecks of gold, “My name is Patrick, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you Patrick, I’m Angela.”

“Well Angela, that’s a perfect name. Dressed in all white, moving across the floor like you do, you look like an Angel.”

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any angel dressed in a mini skirt and go-go boots,” she tilted her head and laughed so sweet it filled his soul.

“Well, God does work in mysterious ways,” matching her laugh with one of his own.

That one song brought them together, and they remained inseparable the rest of the night talking, and dancing. The night came to an end with a long hug and a slow kiss filled with promise of a future, because if he did survive, he knew she was the one. It was a night he would never forget. His last night in the states, yet it was made special by a beautiful girl, who promised to write. A girl he knew he would think about to get him through his upcoming days.

She did in fact become his angel, by keeping that promise and writing him beautiful letters. Her words reminded him of the beauty that still existed in this world despite the horror that he was seeing daily. While he wrote of those horrors and the difficulty others were having keeping their human spirit intact, her letters bought calm to him at night and allowed him to get a few hours of peace in the middle of his hell. With each and every new letter, she talked about home, about making a home for the two of them, and about seeing all the beautiful places that still existed. She would always end those letters with the knowledge, that even she could not explain, that he would survive, and would come home, back to her. Her love scrolled across paper made everything better, she made him believe that he would be fine and they would have a beautiful future together. Her words cleansed him each time he read them, making him able to fully devote his life to her. For she had saved the boy in the war, and allowed a man to come home.

Laughter from outside stirred him back to reality. He turns towards the window and takes in the laughter as it passes and fades. He realizes that there will be no happy trip now, or ever again; at least not together. He takes a shallow breath in and slowly exhales saying, “Oh Angel, how will I ever get through these days without you here with me?”

He lifts his cup, another taste, another memory. A long missing laugh escapes his mouth. He remembers those letters, not hers this time, but his letters. He had always asked her that very question each day he wrote to her. “How will I ever get through these days without you here with me?” Her response was always the same, “You will, because I am there with you, I will always be there with you, right in your heart. My love will protect you and bring you back home.” He hears those words in his head as clearly as if she were sitting right there. He closes his eyes, and he sees her, just as beautiful as the day he met her. He leans his head as if listening to music He begins to softly hum “Something.”

He looks into his almost empty cup, bringing it to his lips, he closes his eyes to savor these last drops in his mouth. He reaches his hand across the table. A wide smile overtakes his face, as his out stretched hand gives a squeeze. He speaks out softly, “Yes, Angel, you already know don’t you, just like you always have. I will be just fine.” He gets up and takes his cup to the kitchen sink. “That is good to know.” He places the cup in the sink, “It has always been good to know.”

 © 2016