Near 500 words: TW gets married

TW (aka The Writer) met Sylvia at a party. When they saw each other, it was lust at first sight.

“Let’s get out of here,” she said, five minutes into their conversation.

“Let’s,” he said, neither unable to resist nor wanting to resist.

After two months, they took off to Vegas for a quickie marriage. They didn’t leave their room for the gambling tables the whole three days they were there. It was room service and sex.

After a few months, they realized they had gotten themselves into a real mess. He was a nester and she was a traveller. He was a perfectionist, she didn’t care if she messed up. He was neat, obsessively so. She left things scattered everywhere.

One night she said, “Let’s take off and go to Timbuktu.” She had a thing for Africa.

“Are you crazy?” he said. “I can’t leave my job. I love my job. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

“What you do is boring.” There was sarcasm in her voice. “You want to be a writer? You have to go out and experience the world. Like Hemingway. Your hero.”

“Yeah, right. I’m going to run the bulls.”

“Why not? It’s better than sitting on your butt in a library, waiting for some student to ask a question they don’t really want to know the answer to.”

“That’s not all I do. Libraries are the repository of all knowledge.

“Don’t give me that. You need to experience the world instead of reading about it in some book.”

“Those books have pictures too.” It was a dumb thing to say but he had said it.

“But you can’t taste or hear or smell those places. Can you?”

“You’re going to pick up and leave? Just like that?”

“You betcha.”

“I thought you liked nursing,” he said, desperate to change her mind.

“I do. But I can be a nurse anywhere and at anytime.”

“So you’re just going to leave me here?”

“You got a choice. Leave with me and have the time of your life. Or stay and play with yourself. But I’m going.”

The next morning she was packed. The cab picked her up just before he left for work. She opened the door to the taxi, then looked back at her husband. “Hold on a second,” she said to the driver, then hurried back to TW. The two embraced and kissed.

“I’m going to miss you,” she said.

She ran and jumped into the cab. Tears were in her eyes, and they were in his eyes too.

The taxi pulled away from the curb and headed down the street.

Then he said, “Maybe I should have gone too.”

He opened the door of the house and went inside. He scanned the room. Such a mess she had left behind.

“I definitely should have gone.”

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Near 500 words: To Shop Or Not To Shop

Matthew hated shopping. He put it off as long as he could, then he went out and shopped till he dropped. At least, that was how he put the whole thing. Mel loved to shop and couldn’t contain herself when she did. Any day was a shopping day for her. Matthew was on one of his excursions when he accidentally bumped into Mel. They were standing in line at a cashier’s station.

“Ouch,” she said and turned to Matthew behind her.

“Oh, sorry,” Matthew came back with.

Over the years, she had said ouch and he had said sorry for what must have been hundreds of times. He always ended up bumping into others. She always ended up being bumped into. This time it was different. They saw something in each other that they had never seen in another human being.

Matthew made the first move. “I really am sorry.”

“And I really did feel an ouch.” She laughed. Mel laughed often but there was something about this laugh. It filled up her face and went all the way to her toes. Mel wasn’t sure what was going on but she liked it. She like it so much she said, “Would you like to get a cup of coffee?”

Matthew hesitated. He had so much shopping to do. He had put it off for a long time.

“With me, I mean,” Mel added.

Her “with me I mean” made up his mind. “Yes, I’d like that.”

They paid for their items, then went over to the nearby food court. Saw a Starbucks. Ordered. Then found a table.

Matthew wasn’t sure where to begin.

“Why don’t you begin at the beginning,” she answered his unspoken query.

He took a sip of his coffee. It was hot. Burned his tongue a bit. “I’m Matthew.”

“And I’m Mel.”

It was a beginning. What next? Where were they going to go to now? They both looked at the other and neither could come up with a thing to say.

Matthew studied her face. She had a nice face. Not beautiful. The word “comely” came to him. Hazel eyes, a middle-sized nose, small mouth that became large when she laughed. Auburn hair that fell pleasingly onto her shoulder. And she smelled like cherries. Matthew loved cherries. How they smelled. How they felt in your mouth. How they tasted.

Matthew did not have the best of faces. It looked like it had some wear and tear. Mel concluded that came with experience. He was starting to lose his hair. In a few years, he would be bald like her dad.

As they sat there, they weren’t able to come up with small talk. Mel could small talk her friends to death. Especially about shopping. But not here with Matthew. Matthew had never been much for small talk. It just wasn’t in him.

After fifteen minutes, Matthew asked, “Would you like to go to dinner? With me, that is?”

Mel wasn’t sure why she answered the way she did but she gave him a yes.

Neither moved from where they were. Something kept them there. It was like they had known each other for a very long time. In a previous life perhaps.

Then Matthew said, “You know I hate shopping.”

“I love shopping.”

Matthew’s face showed that he had an idea. “Would you help me with my shopping?” the words stumbled out.

Mel reached over and squeezed his hand. “I would love to go shopping with you.”

Matthew and Mel then left the table, holding hands.

From another table, two men watched the whole episode with Matthew and Mel. The taller of the two said, “Finally we’ve gotten them together. Contact Command and let them know we’ve accomplished our mission.”

“You think they’ll be okay?”

“They have to be. Our planet depends on it.”

Near 500 words: Happiness, and then some

Clara had such a smile it could wake up the world with its beauty. Especially when she told him, “I love you, Dan.”

Dan had dated a lot of girls. Clara was the first he thought he might want to spend the rest of his life with. Clara and Dan started dating on a blind date. Dan had told his friend, Jill, “Blind dates are the worst.”

Jill insisted.

To show Jill how wrong she was, he gave in. He saw Clara, then his heart went wow. Jill had been right.

Jill had dated a lot of guys. Most of them were duds. She too resisted Jill’s offer of a blind date. Then she saw Dan. The smile appeared on her face.

Dan wasn’t the handsome sort. Kinda skinny with a small nose and the curly hair. He wasn’t what Clara would have thought as Mr. Wonderful.

Clara’s face wasn’t that of a raving beauty. It was kind of plain. But then there were those dimples that came with the smile. And, oh, she warmed Dan’s heart.

That first night they gave each other their life stories and threw in some ancestral heritage to stir the pot. First they did dinner, then walked and walked and walked the city streets, then it started to rain. There under a bridge, Dan kissed Clara and Clara kissed Dan.

Clara was the first to speak. “I never.”

“I never either,” Dan said, just as surprised as Clara. “Could this be?”

“I believe so.”

Of all the nights in his life, this was to be the one Dan remembered the most. The same for Clara.

“What will we tell Jill?” Clara asked, smiling that smile, cradled in Dan’s arms.

Dan’s hand stroked Clara’s hair. “She’ll never let us forget how right she was.”

They laughed. Then they kissed one of those long slow kisses that make time stop. When the kiss was over, Dan asked, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

“Spend it with you,” Clara said.

It wasn’t a big wedding. Quite small with a few friends. Jill got to be the Best Man. That was only right.

Dan and Clara went off on their honeymoon. They went to Spain. As they listened to the gypsies play the flamenco, Dan asked his beloved, “Let’s not go back home?”

“Let’s not.”

Dan wrote an article for National Geographic. Clara drew the pictures. They dropped them into the post and off the package went to the magazine’s offices. A week later, as they left their room in the hotel, a hotel employee hurried up to them. “You have a phone call,” he said.

It was the editor of National Geographic with an offer they could not refuse. She wanted to buy their story, and she wanted more. The magazine would pay them to roam the world, tell their stories, and draw them. It was perfect for Clara and Dan.

Their dream life. They hadn’t talked about it but they thought about it.

Dan called his brother. “Sell the house. Sell everything,” he said.

Then they hit the road. To Toledo, then to Barcelona, then on to Nice. It was in Nice that Clara found out she was pregnant.

“We’ll take a break,” Dan said. “We’ll be Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda.”

“Oh, no. Not those two. We’re not going to drown our joy in booze.”

Then all the happiness came tumbling down on them. Clara had a miscarriage. Clara cried for a week, and so did Dan. Suddenly their smiles disappeared. Finally, Dan asked, “What are we going to do?”

“We’re going to go on,” Clara said, not sure what she meant but knowing that was the only answer there was.

Holding hands, they looked out from the balcony at the sea. They both knew that the paradise was over. It was time to pay the piper. They also knew that, no matter what, they would pay the big fellow together. It did not bring back the smiles but, at least, it gave them hope as they watched the sunrise over the sea.

Near 500 words: Yin and Yang

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Chet looked into Tessa’s eyes. He saw the city reflected in her clear blue eyes. Her smile filled him with joy.

Tessa looked into Chet’s eyes. She saw the countryside. His smile filled her with joy.

Tessa wore city. Chet was clothed in country. Tessa spoke city. Chet spoke countryese. Chet was progressive. Tessa a conservative. Chet was into cats. Tessa had a German shepherd. It wasn’t an argument they had. It was a conversation.

It had been a blind date when they met. They had resisted. They had had blind dates before. Neither was up for another one. But their best friends insisted. They saw something of the other in each one. And they felt that Tessa and Chet would  make a great pair.

They met on neutral territory. A crowded restaurant. Immediately they liked each other. Though they had nothing in common, they had everything in common. They both were gentle, kind souls. They were both creative. Though Chet was an optimist, Tessa was a pessimist. They balanced each other out, and their glass as a couple always held a half glass of wine.

The Nature Walk

Elgar was always surprised when, only a few feet away from the highway, there was nature. Trees, a river and deer. At least once a month, he drove up to this end of the island, parked and walked into what he considered a painting. A landscape. Here it was autumn and nature was doing her nature thing as always. This was the last visit he was to make in a long time. If ever. The next Saturday he was getting married, then they were moving out west to California. He would miss all this. It was his little secret. He hadn’t even told Louise. He wondered why that was. Was he hedging his bets? Didn’t he think the marriage would last. He hoped it would.

It was quiet on the lake. He looked out and watched a fish jump. The birds sang their last songs as they prepared to fly south for the winter. The trees unburdened themselves of their leaves. It was going to be a good day for a walk among the trees. He felt like Thoreau must have felt walking the Maine woods.

As he sauntered along, he pulled out his sketch book. He wasn’t much of a draftsman but he always made out what was on the paper. He had what must have been hundreds of these pads. He saw a bird peeping down through the leaves, watching him. He stood still, very still. Only his fingers moved with the pencil. The bird seemed to be saying his goodbye too. He felt sad for them both. His eyes did not take their focus off the bird. A long time ago he learned to let his hand draw what he was seeing while he watched the subject. He smiled, thinking about that.

When was he going to show Louise all his drawings and tell her of his nature walks? He felt guilty. It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried. Every time he went to tell her something else came up. Should couples have secrets from one another? He wasn’t thinking of adultery or anything like that. He was thinking of something like his nature walk.

The thing was that he spent most of his time in the rough and tumble world of business. Managing a store was a 24/7 job and he had bought into the bargain. If he had not had these occasional excursions he couldn’t have survived it. He thought about the move. It was to the company’s headquarters to take over a division. It would be quite a bit more money. Louise liked the idea of moving out west. She had wanted to live in California for a long time. And he was sure there were places like this one out there. Well, maybe not like this one but natural places.

Jack loved the city. Its hustle and bustle. The people. But this was where he came to refill his tank. There came a point when he just felt drained. He remembered reading a book about John Muir. How he spent much of his time in the wilderness. Theodore Roosevelt got away from his political life and went out to Wyoming. These were great men who did great things. Now all the great ones did was go play golf. That was no way to relax. When he played golf, he became very competitive.

He finished his drawing, saluted the bird, and moved on. He saw a large rock and went over to it and sat down. He reached into the canvas pack at his waist and pulled out a paper bag of sandwiches. They were peanut butter. He uncapped his canteen and drank a swig of water. Sitting there, his teeth tearing into a sandwich, he realized what a happy man he was. And how fortunate. He had a great job. He had Louise. He had his health. He had enough money to live on and raise a family. So why was he feeling such trepidation. Why?

He remembered the first time he saw Louise. A friend had invited him to her recital. Afterward he walked over, and in his own quiet way, he congratulated her on her playing and her choice of music. He thoroughly enjoyed it. Then she surprised him, “Would you like to get a cup of coffee sometime?” He surprised himself. “How about now. I mean, after you’re done here.” She thought about his offer. “Why not,” she answered. “I just have a few more people to see, then we can go.”

The crowd thinned out, she picked up her purse, and she walked over to him. “I’m ready.”

They spent a couple of hours with that coffee. They talked about the weather and the stock market. She was an analyst. They talked politics. She was a conservative. He was a liberal. Neither of them were very political. They voted but they didn’t attend rallies or campaign for a candidate.

After three, four dates, they had sex. It was good sex. Not great but good. They enjoyed each other’s company. They went to the opera. She was into the opera. They went to baseball games. He was into baseball. It had taken six months to date eight times. His schedule didn’t make it easy. Though he enjoyed his work, it left little time for a personal life. That was the reason for the move to California. When he was offered it, he called Louise and asked her what she thought.

“You would definitely have more us time,” she said. “I’d like that a lot.”

The next time they went out, he proposed marriage. He was surprised that she said yes, But she had.

A deer watched him from a distance behind some trees. He finished his sandwich and slipped his pad and pencil into his hand. Slowly he sketched, trying not to scare the deer. The deer seemed to understand that she was in no danger.