The Red Toothbrush

I’ve had plenty of time to get used to the fact that she will never brush her teeth with the red toothbrush – or any other toothbrush – ever again. Or maybe I’ll never get used to it. Ever.

Armed with eco- friendly cleansers, I came into the bathroom that she shared with her brother, ready to get my most hated chore over and done with. Even though I’ve cleaned this bathroom every week in the last six months, and even though her brother no longer shares it, neither of us brings up the red toothbrush. Ever.

At least not so far.

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Fireworks

All the guests were busy looking up at the fireworks. There were “oohs” and “aahs” and guesstimates about how much this spectacle cost. While everyone else was doing that, I was looking at her. The bride.

When I found out that the wedding was on the Fourth of July, I should’ve made up some excuse not to come. Part of me thought it would be better that way. So, when I didn’t get out of going, I thought that maybe being there would give me closure.

It’s not every wedding that the best man is hopelessly in love with the bride.

Watching her bind her life to his was excruciating. You know that part where the minister asks if anyone has any objections? I wanted to scream and take her by the hand and run, but I couldn’t, and having to stand there with a smile on my face made me want to vomit. But what other choice did I have?

If I’d said anything, either before the wedding or during, my life would’ve gone up in flames, much like the fireworks. And not just mine, but two other lives as well.

I came to the wedding, shook hands, held the ring, posed for photos. The whole thing. But I don’t feel like I got any closure. I will forever curse my rotten luck that my brother met her first.

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This is the story for July, and of course, its Fourth of July themed. I meant to post it on the actual 4th, but you know, life happened.

Photo by Shireah Ragnar on Unsplash

The Last Beach Trip

Normally, Darcy looked forward to the annual beach trip she took with her best friend, Liz. This year, though, was bittersweet. Darcy placed her suitcase in the trunk of her Mercedes convertible. She had stalled long enough. It was time to get on the road.

Darcy slid into the driver’s seat, clicked her seat belt, and started the ignition. She looked over at Liz in the passenger seat and said, “here we go.”

*****

Not even out of Raleigh yet, Darcy thought back to when she met Liz. It was the summer before they started sixth grade. Both were on vacation with their families. Liz was in the ocean with her boogie board when Darcy spotted her, and thought it looked fun.

“Um, hi…is it okay if I borrow your boogie board?” Going up to a stranger and actually talking to them wasn’t usually Darcy’s thing. She was too shy to do something like that. But Liz was having a blast and Darcy really wanted to give it a go.

“Sure. It’s so much fun!” The blonde haired girl smiled wide. “I’m Elizabeth, but everybody calls me Liz.” And that was that. They spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out together, as well as the rest of their vacation.

Darcy remembered their beach side talks so well. They discovered they liked many of the same things. That long list included vanilla lip balm, boy bands, tacos, and of course, the beach. Both girls were surprised to learn that they lived in Raleigh only about five miles apart.

On the last night of that summer vacation, Liz and Darcy vowed to stay friends once they were back home, and to stay friends forever, no matter what.

*****

Darcy spent the nearly three hour drive to Emerald Isle thinking back on the last thirty four years. She and Liz had been through everything together. The terrors of adolescence, boyfriends of the good and bad variety, and getting into the same college. Then came the more serious adult experiences, like their first jobs, mortgages, getting married and having kids. Through all the ups and downs, they remained steadfast friends.

During the drive,  there was laughter and tears. Mostly laughter, and Darcy was forever to Liz for that. If she had never met Liz, would her life had been filled with that much joy? Maybe, maybe not. Darcy knew for sure that she would have ended up a completely different person if not for Liz.

Darcy pulled up to the rental condo, the same one she and Liz rent for one week every summer. She loved this place so much. It was filled with so many wonderful memories. She smiled at the thought of always having those memories with her.

*****

Darcy got up before the sun and made a pot of coffee. She was a coffee person anyway, but this morning she really needed it. While it was brewing, she brushed her teeth, pulled her mid-length hair into a ponytail, and slipped on her favorite maxi dress.

She poured a cup of coffee and went out on the balcony which overlooked the ocean. The soothing sound of the crashing waves calmed her nerves. She checked her phone. It was almost time.

Darcy took the last sip of her coffee and went back inside. “Liz,” she called out, “it’s time to go.”

*****

The two friends sat on the white sandy beach together. No one was out on this stretch of beach this early in the morning. Darcy thought it was quite nice. “You know, Liz, when you told me about this plan, I thought it was a little crazy.” Darcy could feel the tears threatening to spill. “I didn’t know if I could even do it. But now I’m glad you planned this beach trip.”

Liz put her plan into place only weeks before, unbeknownst to Darcy. Liz had taken care of everything, including securing the condo and paying in advance. Darcy knew nothing about it until Liz’s husband, Shane, showed up at her house one week after the memorial service. He gave Darcy a note from Liz and a beautifully ornate urn that contained half of Liz’s ashes.

The sun was rising over the ocean, streaking the sky pink and orange. As instructed by Liz, Darcy opened the urn and rose to her feet. “I love you, Liz. This world won’t be the same without you. I won’t be the same without you.”

Darcy started to walk along the beach with the remains of her dearest friend. It was the last time they would do this, their last beach trip. The breeze did its job wonderfully, and spread Liz’s ashes amongst the place she loved most on earth.

 

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This is my story for June, part of my year long quest to write a short story or flash fiction for each month of the year. Confession: I did write this a while back!

Fresh Start

The theater was packed. It was almost time for the movie to start and there were no empty seats. Except for the one to her right. Where is he?

Seven years ago, they met up at this very theater for a movie, then had dinner at the romantic Italian restaurant down the street. Tonight they were to do the same. A fresh start, to breathe new life into their comatose relationship. Hard to do if he’s not here.

She checked her phone again, only to see a blank screen. As the house lights came down, she blinked back her tears.

Mother’s Day

After three straight days of rain, the sun had finally come out. I took that as a good omen. It’s going to be a good day. Today is Mother’s Day, and good weather is preferable for what I have planned.

Mother’s Day has always been a special day for us, as it is for most mothers and daughters. We do something fun together. Sometimes we go to the movies. Sometimes we go shopping. Sometimes we have brunch outdoors. I sip champagne and she sips sparkling water. What we do isn’t so important, it’s the talking and the laughter that is.

I’m blessed to have a daughter who genuinely likes me, and whom I genuinely like as well. My friends with teenagers assure me that this is not the norm. Their kids generally want nothing to do with them. I know I am lucky. My Anna has always been an exceptional girl.

This is what I’ve been thinking about as I’ve set up our picnic. I layered two thick blankets on top of each other for extra protection against the soggy ground. I lovingly prepared some of her favorite foods. I even brought her a bouquet of daisies, her favorite flower. She usually gives me flowers, but things are different this year. I poured a champagne for me and a sparkling water for Anna, and set it beside her. Even though she can’t drink it, I raise my glass for a toast anyway. “To you, sweetheart, the best daughter and friend a mother could have ever hoped for.”

 

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This is the story for the month of May. I’m glad I’m keeping up with my challenge of writing a story for each month of the year…I’ve enjoyed it so far!

Wallace

Wallace was the one who found her. Every available officer and at least a dozen volunteers looking, but it was her best friend who had found her.

Not surprising, since Wallace is a Golden Retriever.

The girl’s father was growing impatient and just wanted his daughter found as quickly as possible. It had just started to pour rain when he showed up with Wallace. An April shower that only lasts about ten minutes, but is intense enough to saturate the earth, so of course we kept on with the search. There was no need to stop. The dad asked if he and Wallace could help. He needed to do something. Anything. I’m not a parent myself but I could sympathize, so I told him he could walk with me. He nodded gratefully and pulled from his back pocket a worn yellow Converse sneaker, size 6. “These are her favorite sneakers. She wears them all the time.” He held it to the dog’s nose and said, “okay, boy, help us find our girl.” Amazing how parents always hold out hope, at least until they know for certain that there is none. Me, I always go to the worst possible scenario. Occupational hazard, I suppose.

For the first few minutes, I asked him some routine questions, ones I knew had already been asked and answered. But I needed to fill the silence, and I had the feeling that maybe he did too.

We reached a dense area in the middle of the woods when the rain stopped just as suddenly as it had begun. Between the gaps in our voices, we could hear wind rustling the leaves, birds chirping, and the babbling water of a nearby creek. Wallace stopped, so we stopped. He barked once, then took off running in the direction of the creek, pulling his leash from his owner’s hand. The two of us looked at each other and without saying anything, took off after the dog.

The mud and sludge and wayward tree branches all conspired to slow us down, but when we finally reached the creek’s edge, a filthy Wallace was already there, waiting for us. He had the other yellow Converse in his mouth. “Stay here,” I told the dad. I picked up Wallace’s leash. “Take me to her, boy.”

As Wallace was leading me down the creek, the obvious question occurred to me. Why did she have only one yellow Converse? Either she was taken against her will or she left home on her own in a hurry. As her body came into view, it was clear to me that I would not be able to ask her.

 

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This is a flash fiction story for April, with April showers being a focal point.  So far, I’ve done well meeting my challenge of a flash fiction story for each month of this year! Only 8 more to go!

A Toast

The hotel room wasn’t too fancy. It was nice and cozy, albeit a bit overpriced. It didn’t matter. This room was just fine for what they had planned.

It was quite by accident that they found out their respective spouses were here at this hotel together. A lucky break. So they agreed to get a room and devise a plan to confront them both. She was comfy on the red sofa and he was at the mahogany desk, ready to get to the task at hand. But first, with room service champagne, they toasted to lucky breaks. And new beginnings.