Showing posts with label Short Story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Short Story. Show all posts

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Serendipity Is Spaghetti And Meatballs: A Story.


Hello, dear reader! I hope you are enjoying another wonderful weekend. Once again it's time to make an appearance here and join in with the gang over at Friday Reflections. Here's some more stuff I made up, using the prompt: Serendipity. Use the word in your post. 

I went with fiction again, because it turns out that my life isn't really interesting enough to sustain a blog. NO?! Really??? I know! Hard to believe, right?! Anyway, here it is: 




SERENDIPITY IS SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS: A STORY



Image credit: https://www.foodiesfeed.com/



I was going to do the unthinkable. I had a very important date. With myself! I had the chocolate,the trashy novel, the wine, the bubbles. A long soak in the tub was beckoning. Afterwards, I was going binge watch whatever the hell I liked, without interruption. Screw, Netflix and 'chill'. I preferred Netflix and solitude. 

"Not like you have a partner, anyway," said that mocking voice in my head. It often sounded like my mother, for some inexplicable reason. "Shut up," I murmured, frowning. I had no time for such negativity.

Everything had fallen into place. My ex had the boys this weekend. My daughter had gone away with her boyfriend. There would be no bevy of teenagers inhabiting my home. Just me. Bliss. 

Serendipity. Sweet, sweet serendipity. 

What's that saying? Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Thank you very much, John Lennon. At least, I think it was John Lennon who said that. Note to self: Google that later when you attempt to read the entire the Internet before bed. Bath first, though! As  soon as I sunk into to the tub, sighing in sheer delight, I heard the thud. Except it was more like an earth-shattering crash.

I jumped out of the bath wearing nothing but bubbles. Well, it would be kind of weird if I bathed clothed. Grabbing a towel, I scurried to the window. A small truck barrelled down the street. It had hit my car and driven and off! 

One of the myriad problems that came from living with three teenagers in a modest sized home, was we had A LOT of stuff. Consequently my garage was always full. I had parked on the street. Okay, so there's also a long boring story about narrow driveways. I sincerely dislike reversing out of them. Suffice to say, my ex-husband always blessed himself whenever I reversed. But that's because he's a jerk. I'm a good driver. I am! I've never had any accidents. Alright, there have been one or two scrapes, but I always leave a note! Besides, this certainly wasn't my fault.

Furious, I flung on a robe and dashed out the front without thinking. I was right. The car was completely totalled on the front drivers side.

I screamed a litany of curse words at no one in particular. Then I cursed myself for quitting my running regime. At my pace, the truck would be suburbs away before I'd even reached the end of my street.

"God dammit!" I huffed and marched back to the house to call my insurance company. Then I realised my mistake. I'd locked myself out of the house. With no phone. Wearing a bathrobe. What is the opposite of serendipity?

Neighbours were peering through blinds, but apparently no one wanted to help the crazy lady in the bathrobe. Was it possible to break in to my own house? Wait a minute! I wondered whether my back door was open. I couldn't remember if I'd unlocked it. I raced around to find it shut tight. Predictably, there was my phone mocking me on the kitchen counter. I banged my head on the sliding glass door in exasperation. Now what?

"Let me tell you," answered the Universe, and the heavens opened. It started raining. No, make that pouring. I huddled under my meagre back awning shivering. The warmth from the bubble bath and my fury had vanished. I felt, cold, hungry, and utterly foolish. The way I saw it, I had two choices. Stand here and freeze to death, or swallow my pride and go and knock on my neighbour's door.

The couple next door,Wendy and Vince, and I, had a distant but friendly kind of relationship. We waved cheery hellos and goodbyes as we dashed off to work and various other things and often chatted over the fence, but we weren't exactly neighbours who exchanged keys. 

I'd only been living there for a few years, since the divorce, and had teenage children. Wendy and Vince had four year old twins, so our kids didn't hang out either. Note to self: be more friendly towards your neighbours in the future. Would it kill you to get to know them? Invite them in for coffee? Suss out that they're not serial killers? Then give them a spare key.

There was only one problem. I was going to be drenched just getting to their front door. Oh, screw it! I squared my shoulders and marched over there. Saturated, I hugged my sopping bathrobe around my frozen frame and rang the doorbell. No answer. I rung again. I was pretty sure I could hear muffled noises inside. Then someone stomped to the door.

"Who IS it?!" a voice barked. Male. Didn't seem like the laid back tones of Vince who had always seemed like a fairly chilled sort of person. The door swung open. A face was scowling at me.

And what a face. I was momentarily struck dumb. Serendipity.

The scowl turned to bewilderment as he noted my attire. "S...s...s..sorry to bother you," I stammered "but someone hit my car and I locked myself out of the house."

He was staring. He had enigmatic eyes. Smouldering eyes. You've been reading too many of those trashy novels, Carolyn! I berated myself. Cool it.

"Oh, I live next door," I added.

Before Mr Enigmatic could reply, the twins thundered down the stairs.

"Uncle Marco! You need to read us a story!" Two pyjama clad figures appeared at his legs. Their eyes were like saucers as they took in my bedraggled appearance.

"Aren't you the lady next door?" Amelia asked.

"It's okay, Uncle Marco. You can let her in!" Alana chirruped.

Mr Enigmatic unlocked the screen door and motioned for me to enter. I was mortified. I hastily explained my attire.

"You can wear Mummy's clothes," stated Amelia. Her chocolate brown eyes were dancing. They were both simply adorable.

"She's not here. She's on a date with Dad!" Alana giggled. She seemed to find the idea of her parents dating hilarious. I was glad someone did. I hadn't had a date since... Never mind.

It seemed Mr Enigmatic, aka Uncle Marco, was the strong silent type. He pulled out his phone and tapped in a number. He was talking briefly to Wendy with the most exquisite Italian accent. I tried not to melt.

"She says it's okay," he told me "you can borrow her clothes."

He bustled the girls upstairs back to bed, pointing me to Wendy's room. It felt intrusive to go through her things, but I quickly realised a couple of things. One: Wendy (and presumably Vince too) were very meticulous. And two: Wendy was also considerably smaller than me.

It didn't take long to find some track pants and a sweater that fit rather snugly over all of my, shall we say, love handles? "Don't you mean ROLLS?" It was my mother's voice again. Christ, I could never get away from the woman. Even when she'd moved thousands of miles away to far north Queensland.

Another note to self: have a clear out at home. And for goodness sake, lay off the carbs! My stomach grumbled in protest.

 "Right on cue," I mumbled to the mirror. I realised I hadn't had dinner. I'd been planning to order whatever takeout took my fancy right after my soak. For some reason, I really fancied Italian right now. Ahem. Get a grip, I admonished myself, and trudged back downstairs. There was nothing I could do about my tangled hair. 

Marco was in the kitchen grimacing at the mess. There was a mountain of used pots and pans. Abandoned Peppa Pig bowls with half eaten spaghetti and meatballs littered the table This didn't seem like Vince and Wendy's handiwork. 

"I make them food, they don't eat," Marco explained. "Sit. You eat!" 

"Oh! I don't want you to go to any trouble."

"It's no trouble. I have too much. You can keep me company." He gave me a sheepish smile. I almost swooned.

Maybe this was serendipity after all. 



What happens next....? 

Stay tuned for Part Two. Coming next week. 
Yep, I've decided I'll pick up this story again next week. So let's leave the characters feasting on spaghetti and meatballs and you're all invited back next weekend! 


Do you have a story about serendipity? 

And while we're at it, what actually IS the opposite of serendipity?


Friday, 10 February 2017

Scary Things

Hello again! If you are currently in the land of Oz, I do hope you haven't drowned in a pool of your own sweat.  Lordy, it's HOT. Horrendous, really. Phew!

Anyway, pop on the air con on, pour yourself a cool beverage and enjoy a lovely little story I wrote for #FridayReflections. 

Alternatively, if you're in another part of the world, where it's frosty and cool, snuggle up with a cosy blanket and a hot beverage. Also: I hate you. Don't take it personally.

But onto the story...

It was inspired by the following prompt:

Do one thing every day that scares you. 



SOMETHING ABOUT FERN


Ever since she could remember Fern had been frightened. Of the dark. Of dogs. Of her brittle, distant parents. The bullies at school. What people would think.

Even the telephone! It's rings could send her into abject horror. Then she'd seen it. The free course at the community centre seemed like it was invented for her: Overcoming Fear and Becoming Confident.

Unleash your inner potential with proven steps to success, the blurb assured her. The irony that she'd had to confront her fear of groups to turn up to a group about overcoming fear wasn't lost on her.  

"Do one thing every day that scares you," the instructor told them. She was a tall, charismatic woman with a sharp highlighted bob and booming voice. The kind of woman who appeared to have never been frightened in her life. Her name was Donna Savage.

Fern supposed you could never fear anything with such a name. If anyone ridiculed Donna Savage, she could certainly live up to her name with one look. Her eyes were laser sharp and piercing. Even a wallflower like Fern couldn't fade into the background. That was her usual way in groups. 

Now she had do scary things each day for a week or risk the disappointment of that probing gaze. Yesterday, she'd sent her coffee back when it was too weak. The day before she'd approached the neighbour who always parked across her driveway. 

Now, she was meeting Brian. An online date. Well, just a coffee to start with. She was nervous, but he'd seemed nice enough during their online chats. He'd told her he loved her name. After years of being bullied by all the Jennys and Amandas, it was refreshing.  A portly, balding man with glasses entered the cafe. Fern dismissed him. 

"Fern!" the balding man beamed at her. 

She blinked. "Brian?" He must have used a rather old profile picture. She'd been catfished. 

"Lovely to meet you!" Brian leaned in, going straight for her lips. She turned her cheek at the same time and they knocked faces awkwardly. 

"Can I get you a coffee?" 

He ordered their cappuccinos. They sat facing each other with only the sound of the coffee machine and the quiet murmuring of other customers to break the silence. 

"So tell me..."

"Have you been here before?"

They suddenly spoke at once. This seemed to open the tides for Brian and he was off and running. 
In no time at all she knew his whole life story, including rather more than she would like about his ex-wife and his interest in aquariums. He didn't seem curious to know anything about her. 

When he finally asked her if she would like to come back to his place to 'see his aquariums' she politely declined. Mustering up her courage, she added "It was lovely to meet you, but I don't think this is going to work."

Brian looked momentarily flummoxed. His confusion soon turned to contempt. "Typical," he muttered. 

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"You women are all the same. Only after money." 

Fern took a deep breath. "I earn my own money, Brian. I just don't think we have anything in common." 

But Brian was already looking at his phone. 

"Doesn't matter. You were only my third choice, anyway." 

Fern left him scrolling away for his next victim. Imagine this odious man ranking women! But at least she'd done her scary thing for the day. 

Donna had promised them that each day it would be less scary. Fern wasn't so sure. You just did the thing, feeling petrified all the while. And the next time was no different. There was no such thing as conquering all your fears, Fern concluded. She knew this, because the next day she went to a completely sickening dentist appointment she'd been avoiding for months. She lay back in the chair, rigid with tension. 

"Try to relax," the dentist instructed. It was only the fact that she had her gaping jaw locked as he examined her that stopped her from guffawing in derision. 

After the appointment, she treated herself to a new book, feeling triumphant. Until she remembered tomorrow's task. 

The next day, she picked up the phone and pressed the number with trembling fingers. The answering machine clicked on. Her mother's monotone delivered a laborious instruction to leave a message after the beep. Fern knew she was home. Her parents always screened calls.

"Hello Mum, it's me," she breathed. "Please pick up."


There was a clunk and a gruff greeting. 

"What's up?" her mother never had time for pleasantries. It occurred to Fern that maybe she hated the phone more than she did. 

"I just rang to tell you that I won't be able to come home for Christmas lunch. Some friends from work invited me to their place." 

For the next fifteen minutes Fern was treated to an explosive diatribe about how utterly selfish and worthless she was. Finally, she announced: "I'm hanging up now!" She slammed the phone down with her mother still ranting at her. She guessed she wouldn't be hearing from her parents for a very long time. This made her equal parts sad and relieved. 

At the next meeting she proudly related her achievements to Donna Savage. The group had dwindled to only a half dozen or so of them now. 

"Excellent!" Donna congratulated them, after they'd all spoken. "I think you are all ready to go the next level." 
Her eyes gleamed as she started a PowerPoint presentation. 

By the time it finished, Fern's head was hurting. It was a ten minute testament to something called SOLUTIONS FOR SUCCESS - ULTIMATE CONFIDENCE!! A comprehensive programme, including two one to one sessions with Donna and a package of her books and instructional DVDs, all for the bargain price of - wait for it - 1,500 dollars! 

Fern was flabbergasted. "You never mentioned anything about these charges before," she squeaked. A few other participants seemed to be transfixed. They were under Donna Savage's spell. It was like she was some sort of Tony Robbins/Oprah/Deepak Chopra Svengali. They were ready to sign up. 

"It's all on my website and brochures," Donna replied "Didn't you read the fine print?"

Fern was speechless. Fine print? This was absurd! 

"The first five people to sign up receive a 30 percent discount!" Donna trilled, all smiles. Those enigmatic eyes were more piercing than ever. 

A few people started doing the sums. Fern felt a flash of something. What was it? Yes! It was anger! How dare this woman call herself a Life Coach, then try to exploit people's insecurities? 

She stood up, all five foot one of her bristling with indignation. She looked straight into those hypnotic, penetrating eyes. 

"YOU are nothing but a phoney and an opportunist!" her voice was shaky but loud. "This is outrageous! And I, for one, am not paying you a cent!" 

"Fine!" Donna snapped, her eyes suddenly cold and dangerous. "Maybe you're not ready. The offer is still available for anyone else!" 

The other attendees were gaping at Fern. She'd been the quietest one in the group until this point. Yet her outburst seemed to have an effect. 

"It does seem like a lot," one woman agreed.

"I'd have to discuss it with my husband," said another.

"I never saw any fine print!" huffed the only gentleman in the group.

"Come on, everyone," Fern decided to take charge. "Let's go!" They filed out in a disgruntled line as Donna barked after them.

"You'll be sorry! The offer expires on Monday!" 

They stood in the car park afterwards sharing their astonishment. Fern was amazed to discover that not only had an hour and a half passed, but evidently she'd made three new friends. They all agreed to meet for coffee again next week.

At home, she dumped her bag and flopped on the couch beside her cat, Archie. He meowed his disgust at her being so late. "I didn't do my scary thing today, Archie!" she told him. The she sat up. Of course she had! She thought of Donna Savage's churlish face and laughed and laughed. Archie just stared at her. Humans were so weird. 



THE END


Do you like to scare yourself?


Have you melted yet?