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.

Box Full Of Trouble

Over the years, the garage had become an abyss of worthless or unused crap. All of them were guilty of dumping their stuff in there, and now the mess was out of control. They couldn’t even park their cars in there anymore. It had to be dealt with now, as this year’s spring cleaning was not just that. It was a complete overhaul of the house as well as a downsizing of possessions. Unless a miracle dropped from the sky, they’d most likely have to put their house on the market within the month. Kate loved their house. She bit back tears, looked around, and formulated a plan.

She decided to start in the middle of the garage, then work her way around the walls. She decided to make three piles, keep, donate, and undecided. She vowed to herself to make quick decisions and to not overthink things. It was probably a blessing that her kids and husband weren’t here to help. This will probably go much faster without them. She would make executive decisions about what stayed and what went.

Three hours went swiftly by and all that was left was the boxes lining the walls of the garage. She started pulling boxes away from the first wall. Some were labeled and some weren’t, but she opened them all. The usual stuff — clothes the kids had outgrown, artwork from their preschool and elementary days, tools, and gardening gear. Then she stopped when she came across something odd. A locked wooden box. All the other boxes were cardboard and she had never seen this wooden box before. It was a dark wood, mahogany maybe, lacquered to a high shine. Weird, she thought. She stood there looking at the wooden box. Should I open it, or should I wait for Michael to get home? She shook her head. “I have to open it now!” She located Michael’s toolbox and pulled out a bolt cutter. The metal lock snapped off and fell to the ground. She sat in front of the box, carefully setting the bolt cutter beside her.

Slowly, she placed her hand on the latch, but paused. What if it’s a severed human head? Or something more horrible? Not sure what would be more horrible than a severed human head, she quickly shook off the thought. I’ve seen too way many movies. She flung open the box lid. It was not a severed human head, but she still couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The box was full of cash, with some jewels mixed in as well. Before she knew what she was doing, her hands were in the box, rifling through its contents. The cash was all $100 bills, and the major gemstones were all represented. Diamonds, emerald, rubies, and sapphires. “What the hell!” She slammed the lid shut. So many questions flooded her mind all at once.

Who did the box belong to?
Why was it left behind?
How were the cash and jewels acquired?
Most likely some kind of illegal activity, but what?
Is the rightful owner still alive?
If the owner is still alive, will they come back for it?
Are me and my family in danger?
Is there any possible way to keep it?

Kate couldn’t help but to think about that last question. All the cash aside, there was a diamond necklace in there that alone could solve all their money problems. “Of course we can’t keep it!” Kate knew she was looking at a box full of trouble, but it was nice to daydream. Just then, she heard behind her the rumble of tires and the squeaky brakes on Michael’s SUV pulling into the driveway.

She quickly stood and shoved some cardboard boxes in front of the wooden box. The last thing she needed was for one of the kids to notice it and ask questions. She turned, kissed the kids and told them to go inside to get cleaned up. “I’ll order pizza in a little bit,” she told them. Michael looked at her, then at all the progress she’d made with the garage. He opened his mouth to say something, presumably a compliment for Kate.

She held up her hand to cut him off at the pass. “Whatever it is, save it. We need to talk. Now.”

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This is my story for the month of March, with spring cleaning being the theme. Three months down, nine to go!