Kendra hadn’t been this nervous since her first date… in 1979. Newly divorced after twenty-eight years of marriage, it pretty much was her first date. She shifted her bra to lift her breasts where she thought they should be, but gravity turned out to be stronger than expensive Victoria’s Secret technology. She turned her back to the mirror and threw a glance over her shoulder; fingers crossed the stone-studded pockets complimented her tush.
She sighed. Pushing fifty, her body didn’t fit the twenty-year-old image in her mind. The full-length mirror was the only one bold enough to confront her with the truth. She applied her lipstick, perhaps too red for her age but she wore it anyway.
Kendra slid into her red cowboy boots. (Red made her feel vibrant. Her friends called it the “red attitude.”) She grabbed her keys and hummed a country tune as she headed to her car. Ten minutes later, she pulled into Mr. Lucky’s parking lot. She strutted through the barn doors and saw Brad waiting inside.
“Wow, you look beautiful.”
“And you look great, too. New shirt?”
He sucked his belly in, but it still hid the top of his belt buckle. He grinned. “I bought it just for tonight.” Brad held his elbow out in a dramatic gesture. “Would the most gorgeous woman in the house like to join me in the Tush Push?”
Kendra saw the line dance in full swing when she looked over his shoulder. She slid her arm through his elbow. “Come on, my two-stepping prince. Let’s show ‘em how it’s done!”
He gave her a twirl. In that moment, she felt better than twenty-one.
This story might be a little corny, but it has some truth for me. Sometimes I forget that youth isn’t reflected in the mirror. It isn’t until I let go of how I look (or rather, how differently I look than I did twenty years ago) that I’m able to feel free and happy. (Oh, and I love red, but don’t wear red lipstick :))
This is also my response to Trifecta’s weekly writing prompt, which is to write a 33 to 333 word piece using the following word/definition: TUSH: buttocks (slang)
Remember, the challenge is open to anyone, so if you’re so inspired, please write your own response and link it up on Trifecta’s site!
Thanks so much for reading. Have a beautiful week!!
The bowl lay overturned on the floor, a rough crack running down one side. Michael turned away because it reminded him too much of himself: broken and useless, but held together by some unknown force.
Before Nina left, she’d given him a cell phone. She said, “Michael, call me if you need anything.” He took the phone but didn’t believe she’d actually come. Past experience told him people looked but didn’t see. After his fourth mom punched his face during a drunken tirade, he’d written down the new words he hadn’t already heard so he could look them up later. Then, not trusting his voice, he sent a text message to Nina: I don’t like it here.
While his “mom” snored on the couch, wine bottle tipped on the side table, he rolled the frosty pink lip gloss between his thumb and index finger. Maybe she was right; he’d be a prettier girl. He unscrewed the cap and swabbed the shimmering pink across his lips. It felt weird, but not all that unpleasant. Next, he smeared the plum eye shadow on his lids, just like what he’d seen his moms before do. He sucked his cheeks in and dusted pink powder on them. He turned his head from side to side, studying his reflection. I’m not a pretty girl, either. Michael dropped to the floor and cried.
At eight years old, he didn’t have the best concept of time, but some time later, the doorbell rang. His height prevented him from looking through the peep hole, so he unlatched the three locks and flung the door open.
“Nina!” On impulse, he hurled himself into her arms.
“Oh, Michael, what happened?” She stooped down and caressed his swollen cheek with her fingers.
He shrugged. “Same as the others, I guess.”
She took his hand and led him into the house. She paused in front of sleeping mom and snapped a few pictures. She also took pictures of the empty pizza boxes and soda cans on the floor. She dropped the phone in her purse and pulled him into the bathroom. She soaked a washcloth in warm water, and then gently scrubbed his face. Her touch was the kindest he’d ever known.
“There. Now you’re a handsome boy.” She smiled at him.
“Nina, don’t leave me!” He threw his arms around her and soaked her shoulder with more tears.
“Come on,” she whispered.
In the car, she made a phone call. Michael couldn’t help but overhear. “Tracy, it’s Nina. Yeah. Well, I’m taking him with me. When I get home, I’ll email the pictures.” There was a pause. “I know, but maybe I can change one person’s world.”
***** ***** *****
Michael sat in the front row, squeezing a wad of damp tissues. Many twenty-one-year-old men would stoically bury their tears, but he cried without shame. He hurt and didn’t care if the world knew it. His girlfriend slid her arm into the crook of his elbow and squeezed. He appreciated her support, but couldn’t meet her gaze.
Numbed, Michael couldn’t focus his attention on what others said. He might lose the little composure he had. His head jerked when he heard his name. It was his turn to speak. He trudged to the front of the church. He guessed there were at least three hundred people there.
“Nina Wharton was a truly beautiful person. She saved my life. When I was eight, I had already drifted through three foster homes after my birth mother died of a drug overdose.”
Michael paused so the lump in his throat could dislodge. “She was more than a social worker to me- she was the mom I wished God had given me in the first place.”
He turned away from the mic and blew his nose. “I remember when she rescued me from the last home. Her boss warned her that she couldn’t change the world. Nina responded that maybe she could change one person’s world.”
New tears streamed down his cheeks. “She did just that. Today, I say goodbye to my guardian angel- my mom. I will never forget her.” He leaned over the casket and stroked her cheek with his fingers. “I love you.”
He hoped he’d one day feel whole again. In the meantime, Michael found comfort in the chorus of tears that fell in time with his own pain.
This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly prompt, which is to write a response in 750 words or less, and: 1) Use the following as the first sentence: “The bowl lay overturned on the floor, a rough crack running down one side.”; and 2) make some reference to the photo prompt, which pictured some cosmetics. If you want to give it a shot, click the badge below to view the guidelines, then come back Tuesday to add a link to your posted response!
Clouded by the myth of what I cannot do,
or do not have,
I settled in the bleakness
turned me blue,
closed my eyes-
until grateful found my heart.
I’m filled with appreciation of
ice in my tea,
cats purring in my ear,
dogs’ devotion at my feet,
crickets chirping at night,
crisp evening air,
sun setting behind pines,
the blessing of God’s grace,
from shadows in my mind,
searching my soul
for the light
that was always there,
but I forgot to behold.
I wrote this a couple months ago after I started to come out of a funk. The crisp evening air is now “cold” but grateful fits as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the U.S.
I have one more addition to my grateful list: Holly. We met for lunch after not seeing each other for over twenty years. In fact, we didn’t have any sort of contact until about a year ago when a strange twist put us in touch again. Perhaps we will have a chance to meet up again in the future.
Once again, I’ll be away from the computer for a few days, so I’ll catch up with comments and blog reading over the weekend. I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving. If you don’t celebrate, I hope you feel the warmth of grateful on this Thursday.
Two boys and first snow gave life
To their own Frosty.
Sunlight chased away
Traces of white; Snowman left
My kids got their wish – we got a light dusting of snow over the weekend. They scraped up what they could and made a small snowman. It wasn’t nearly enough snow for play, so one afternoon we drove to higher elevation so they could really get into it. (Actually, we made the drive so I could get family pictures to send out with our Christmas cards… the promise of play was our sneaky way to get them to go quietly :))
We managed to get some fairly decent pictures, thanks to a tripod and figuring out the timer on the camera. So, as promised, the kids got to romp in the snow. Even soaked and frozen, they still balked at leaving. Their playtime meant photo taking time for me, and I think I ended up with some nice shots. Eventually, they’ll get posted here.
Even though their snowman was in a sad state two days later, they aren’t dwelling on that. Their minds are already focused on when the next snowstorm might arrive. All they’ve ever known is desert, so I’m loving how excited they are by snow. More childhood wonder to make this old lady not feel quite so old. They are a gift, for sure!
The next day settled heavy in my heart. Thanksgiving. I felt a little guilty that I would be more thankful in Vegas- away from anyone related by blood or marriage. I don’t even like gambling, so this thought made me feel even more wretched.
I had to go. Thanksgiving was sacrificed to my in-laws years ago. Just as I vowed to love my husband until death did us part, I agreed to accompany him every November when he journeyed home for the holidays. (Christmas was given to my family. Hardly the portrait of “normal,” but at least they’ve never mud wrestled in the front yard like my brothers-in-law did last year.)
My mother-in-law is Greek and proud of it. To her, Greek isn’t a heritage or a nationality, it’s a personality trait. The gene possessed by every member of their very large family makes them boisterous, immune to embarrassment, and truthful without regard to tact, but also fiercely loyal and protective of one another.
Our first Thanksgiving, we arrived later than expected. I’d hoped we’d sneak in and go to bed, but when the door opened, I saw the party already in full swing. About eighteen people raised their 32-ounce cups of vodka lemonade slushies in a gesture of welcome.
“Who the hell are you?” Granny leaned forward in her wheelchair and studied us with squinted eyes.
“Your grandson. Who the hell are you?” My husband said as he bent down and kissed the woman’s cheek.
Her gaze rested on me.
“I-I’m with him.”
“Humph. That skirt makes you look fat.” She turned her head, dismissing me.
I dragged our luggage to the back bedroom and contemplated staying there.
“This damn house is too crowded. I want some fresh air, dammit!” Granny hollered.
“Harold, take her outside, will ‘ya!” My mother-in-law yelled back.
“I don’t wanna take her outside. The cranky old bat hates me!”
“She hates everyone. Take her outside anyway!”
After several minutes alone, I willed myself to join the crowd. It was probably half an hour later when my husband looked around the room.
“Hey, where’s Granny?”
Harold, my husband’s step-dad, shrugged his shoulders. “I took her outside.”
My husband ran for the front door, and I followed. Sure enough, the old woman sat hunched in her wheelchair on the corner of Naples Street and Melrose Avenue.
We’ve gathered for sixteen Thanksgivings since then. Granny passed away five years ago, but from that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.
This crazy story is inspired by Thanksgiving, and the Speakeasy weekly prompts: to write a piece under 750-words with some reference to a trailer of the movie, Home for the Holidays, and the following as the final sentence: “From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.”
If you’re intrigued, check out Speakeasy and submit your own response to the prompt. The more the merrier!
While this story is fiction, the Greek-ness of my in-laws is very real. There are so many stories…but here is just one example:
I was so embarrassed, but can laugh now at the time we gave Granny a ride home from a family gathering. We had to stop for gas, and Granny wanted some cigarettes. My husband told her no because she wasn’t supposed to have them. When threatening to pee in our truck didn’t sway him, she started yelling that we were abusing her and wouldn’t let her out. People stared and my husband couldn’t get the windows up fast enough. I thought for sure we’d be speaking to the police that night, but we got her home without further incident. I come from a reserved family, so I’m often rendered speechless at the goings on!
I hope you have a beautiful week and remember to be thankful for family, both chosen and God-given. I am
People hope this time of year.
My children hope for snow, wish for Santa’s gifts, and anticipate vacation.
I hope there’s no black ice, wish Santa wasn’t so extravagant, and anticipate school resuming.
This is my response to Trifecta’s weekend prompt:
This weekend, writers, it’s up to you. We want you to choose a word and use it three times in your 33 words. However, it must be either a verb, noun or adjective and the form of the word cannot change, it must appear exactly the same three times. Please highlight your chosen word in your piece.
I marvel at how differently my children’s eyes see the world. It makes me realize how cynical I’ve become (and also makes me wonder if I was ever really a dreamer in the first place.)
Today, it’s raining, and is expected to rain all day. The kids are buzzing with excitement as they hope those beads of water transform into flakes of snow. Snow is pretty to look at, but I’ve never driven in it. (This is the first time I’ve lived outside the desert of Phoenix since I learned to drive.) At some point, I suppose I’ll have to venture out. Maybe by then I can shake the visions of my car crashing into someone’s house because I slid off a turn!
Santa neglects to leave the ‘good’ gifts at our house. My kids want to know how come their friends got X-Boxes, iPads or laptop computers. I remind them about some of the Christmas Angel gifts we’ve purchased where the boys asked for clothes. It’s best they learn now that life isn’t fair.
As much as my children look forward to school breaks, I dread them. I work from home several days a week and they like to fight. A lot. Their fighting is causing deep frown lines to form on my forehead. I’m not thrilled about this, but I’m trying to find the bright side: in a few years, I’ll have the makings of a fabulous Halloween costume
All my adult sensibilities aside, I do look forward to this time of year. My children’s enthusiasm exhausts me, but it also infuses me with joy that has been depleted during my encounters with commuter traffic, visits to Costco and evenings spent balancing the checkbook.
I hope you all experience joy and peace on this beautiful Friday!