Thursday, February 26, 2009

His Secret.
Part One.

Thanks guilherme kramer!

Albert watched his favorite daughter set out to sea. A smile crossed his face as he thought of Penny enjoying the new boat, sipping champagne and watching the sun set. He leaned on his walking stick and turned his back towards the water as he headed to the club. If he looked any longer, he would have to acknowledge the slight uneasiness he felt even though he couldn't place the feeling. If he looked for just one second longer, he would have known that he was the one who wanted to be out on the boat with Penny. Albert nodded to himself as he entered the bar and ordered a gin and tonic. He was happy to give Penny nice things, even if the gift was for Nathan. He knew Penny was smart enough to know that it was his way of showing her that he was fond of Nathan and that he was giving her his approval. Albert finished his drink quickly and ordered another, then made his way towards a table by the window. From where he sat, he thought he could see the boat, and he imagined Penny's light brown ringlets blowing in the wind; and then he imagined that he was moving his hand up and down her back with the long strands of her hair tickling the back of his wrinkled skin.

Penny was the last of Albert's children, and while she was growing up, in fact while all his children were growing up, he had no time for them. He was the sole provider for his family and he dreaded going home to screaming, ill mannered children after a long day of intensive labor. So he didn't. Albert felt he deserved some time to himself and made of habit of going to the local pub after work and stay into the night. On the rare occasion when Albert did come home for dinner, his children knew they needed to be on their best behavior and have proper manners at the table, if not he would teach them a lesson with his fist; or his belt; or his foot. But Albert was never around the next morning to see the unfortunate child, trying unsuccessfully to hide the bruised arm, or blackened face with touch of make up or a long sleeved shirt despite the 90 degree weather.

In his old age, Albert regretted abusing his children, but for most of them the wounds were too deep, they were harden by their childhood and were unable to forget. It was only when Albert's wife died that he realized his children only came around because of their mother and that in their hearts they never forgave him. Since Penny was the youngest, she was spared the abuse and didn't remember the drunken violence and anger so he still had a chance with her to have some semblance of a father-daughter relationship.

Albert put all his energy into his relationship with Penny, and he was glad he did, because now he had someone to take care of him in his old age; it was also why he was giving her everything. Years ago, he promised Penny that if her mother died first, they would set up a joint bank account so everything would go to her when he died and there would be no dispute about where all his money went. In fact, there would be no discussion about it at all, everything he owned would have her name on it, so it would all be hers. Albert ordered another drink and smiled to himself as he thought about the night he and Penny first shared their little secret.

His Secret.
Part Two.

They were sitting at a dimly lit table. Albert sat with his chin in the palm of his hands. He gazed at Penny with his head tilted to one side, he could only see the faint outline of her nose and chin, but he remembered that she was happy; he thought he could see her smiling. He made her a rich tomato basil bisque, and told her the good news as she took dainty sips from her spoon and licked her full lips after each bite. Albert closed his eyes to savor the memory and took another sip of his drink. He remembered how excited he was to have something that just the two of them shared. Albert kept drinking and thinking about Penny, about Penny and Nathan, about Penny and Nathan and the boat. Then on his fifth gin and tonic another name popped into his head: Lindsay. Albert struggled to remember why he was thinking about Lindsay. Lindsay and Nathan. Penny and Lindsay. Nathan. Penny. Penny.

Albert slouched in his chair with his chin swaying side to side against his chest, he started to feel something swelling in his chest. He closed his eyes and took deep breathes. Lindsay and Nathan. Lindsay and Nathan were out on the boat. They were taking care of him now. The swelling in his chest started to subside. He remembered now. Was he really thinking about Penny this whole time? He let out a laugh at his own confusion. Penny was still his favorite, but Lindsay was taking care of him now. It must be the gin and tonic, he thought as he ordered another.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Out to Sea.
Part One.

Thanks martin bischoff!

Nathan was eavesdropping on a conversation in the other room. The tea kettle started bursting hot, angry steam that meshed with the air to form a stagnant, damp space that engulfed him. He turned his attention toward the stove and prepared a cup of tea. As Nathan left the kitchen, it was as if he was emerging from a humidity that was weighing him down and threatening to drag him in and suffocate his guilty pleasure and overwhelming glee. Nathan entered the sitting room, where Lindsay was just finishing up a phone call,

"King's. Room 309. Come soon."
Nathan handed Lindsay the cup of tea and started rubbing her back and asked, "Did you call the family?"
"Yes. I just got off the phone with Deb."
"And no one's coming?"
"You're absolutely sure no one's coming," Nathan said with a slight edge in his voice.
"Absolutely," Lindsay answered coolly.

Nathan stroked the top of Lindsay's head and slowed ran his fingers through her hair; he felt a chill envelope his body as he closed his eyes. He let the sensation fully swallow him, letting his head roll back and forth until it came to rest tilted toward the ceiling. He slowly dropped his head and when he opened his eyes he focused on the tips of his toes that were peeping out of yellow fuzzy slippers. Nathan wiggled his toes up and down and smiled with satisfaction as the soft, almost velvet like fabric teased, and cushioned and warmed his feet.

He raised his head to find Lindsay had left the room and he was alone in the sitting room of what he thought of as a mini mansion; nothing like the two bedroom apartment where he grew up. There he had a narrow room that barely fit a twin bed. It was a bed that Nathan painfully remembered sharing with his mother. Nathan would feel her crawl under his blanket after she turned and tossed until 4 in the morning and turned to find her husband's side of the bed empty. She would bury her face in his pillow until the tears stopped, then she would pull Nathan close to her and cradle him in the fetal position. Nathan missed his mother's arms around him. But he was a man now; he could take care of himself and his mother. After all this was a three bedroom, two bathroom, one story house with a huge back yard. Nathan wanted to have children soon. He knew his mother would like to have little ones to play with, to spoil, to enjoy. Nathan could give his mother the life she deserved in this home. Now that Lindsay's father was dead, they could finally start a life of their own: together.

Out to Sea.
Part Two.

The wind was picking up and clouds were rolling in. From where Nathan stood at the window he could vaguely make out a deep orange sky outlined with pink as the sun raced to the the finish line and sunk below the horizon. He started to hear the rumbling rustle of the trees with their tops swaying violently in the wind, then the rain came showering against the window pane in staccato beats. This was the storm that was threatening to come for days and kept Nathan from taking the boat out. Nathan had a fascination with the ocean and was obsessively passionate about being in the water. He rediscovered his love for sailing when Lindsay's father gracious bought him a boat for all his hard work taking care of him in his old age. It was a very generous gift that Nathan accepted without a second thought.

"Oh Dad! You shouldn't have. This is too much, Nathan, you can't accept this," Lindsay gushed, as she and her father and Nathan stood on the docks ogling the new boat.
"Now, Lindsay, you have absolutely no say in this," Albert said sharply. "It's for the boy. He deserves it. It's his."
"Ha! Well, I won't be one to argue with that," Nathan said wrapping his arm around Albert's shoulder. "Since you said it first, I do deserve it. There I said it too, now it's your turn, say I deserve it, say it's mine" Nathan coaxed wrapping his other arm around Lindsay.
Lindsay blushed a little and buried her head in Nathan's chest.
"Fine! You win," Lindsay wrapped her arms around Nathans neck and he gently picked her up and swung her around. Nathan felt Lindsay's lips brush ever so lightly against his ear and he swore he heard her whisper something. Did she say, 'almost there'? He couldn't be sure.
"Now why don't you kids take her out. They say a storm's coming later this week. I want you guys to give it a test run before the rain hits. Now go on, you two, go on," Albert prompted them.
"No, Dad. You should come with us, we can't leave you here," Lindsay said.
"NO!" Albert stomped his walking stick before pointing it at Lindsay, "Look here lady, I want you and Nathan to enjoy this gift. I don't need to be around with you two kids out there doing God knows what. There's always next time. Now go. I'll wait at the club, in the bar."
Nathan knew once Albert set his mind to something, nothing could change it. "Come on Lindsay. Your father just wants us to break her in. He'll come next time. If we hurry we can sail out and see the sun set."
"Oh, alright. Dad if you insist, but stay at the bar. Don't go off exploring like you did the last time. We won't be long," Lindsay said as he gave her father a kiss on the forehead.

* * * * * *

Nathan looked out at the storm whipping the trees back and forth and smiled as he remembered pulling away from the dock with Lindsay on the very first time they went out on the boat. It was the happiest he had ever been in his entire life. He remembered wanting that feeling to last forever, just him and Lindsay leaving their old life behind to start anew, just the two of them, and maybe children. He was starting to feel that way again. Nathan remembered bobbing out in the open sea, sipping a glass of champagne, with front row seats to a deep orange sky, outlined with pink as the sun raced to the the finish line and sunk below the horizon.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My House.

Thanks bobasonic!

Lindsay hung up the phone. She knew Deborah wouldn't come. It was almost 10 years since their mother died and Deborah made it known that their mother was the last thing connecting her to the family, so why would she show her face now. It was just as well, it was a courtesy call anyway. Lindsay's dad died one week ago.

Lindsay felt smug. She deserved this. After years of sharing a home with her father, taking care of him when he was sick and taking him to the grocery store when he lost his license and taking his condescending treatment when he had another regretful revelation about this past, she deserved this; it was all hers.

"Did you call the family," Nathan asked as he handed Lindsay a cup of tea and started rubbing her back.
"Yes. I just got off the phone with Deb."
"And no one's coming?"
"You're absolutely sure no one's coming," Nathan said with a slight edge in his voice.
"Absolutely," Lindsay answered coolly. She felt Nathan stroked the top of her head and it was as if a sudden calm enveloped her. Lindsay sat sipping her tea and rocking in her chair. It would finally be just the two of them in the house and they could start a life of their own, together. It was what she deserved, but she still had to make one more call.

"Mr. Yamamoto. Lindsay Saver's on line one for you."
"Ms. Saver. So nice to hear from you. I trust everything went smoothly since your father's passing?"
"Yes. Mr. Yamamoto. How are you. Well, no, everything is fine. I just want to double check one last time to make sure everything is secure and Nathan and I don't have to worry about any vultures coming to take what we've worked for," Lindsay could hear her voice rising and her blood boiling. But she quickly gain control and took a deep breathe and softened her tone. "I don't mean anything by that, Mr.Yamamoto, it's just, well, it's ours right?"
"Ah. Ms. Saver. I see this happen all the time and I assure you that what I've done for you is, how should I put it, it's ah, lawyer proof. That is to say, the fact that your father's will says he wanted to leave the house to his five living children means nothing, you and Nathan own the house out right. I mean you bought the property over a year ago so it's not your father's house anymore, he has nothing to leave to anyone" Mr. Yamamoto explained. "And as I told you before, since the title of the house is in Nathan's name, there is no way your siblings can make a claim to it, hence it is lawyer proof. No attorney can take that house away from you."
"Right. I know, we've discussed this before," Lindsay said, "It's just, since Dad's passing, I've been feeling a little uneasy and I just wanted to hear it from you one more time." Lindsay let out a long deep sigh.
"Ms. Saver? Are you alright? You sound a littl-"
"I'm fine. Thank you for your time. Mr. Yamamoto," Lindsay interrupted and hung up. She didn't need to be psychoanalyzed, she got her answer and that was all she needed. Lindsay continued to breath deeply as she sipped her tea and took a stroll around her house. My house, she thought.

"My house," Lindsay said for the first time out loud since her father passed. It had a nice ring to it: My house. It was a modest house. Three bedrooms, two baths, one story. Lindsay was always fond of the big yard and she knew it was only a matter of time before Nathan gave her children to play with, to spoil, to mother. Although Lindsay grew up in that house and previously thought of it as her house, it was never like this, now it was different. Her parent's didn't live there anymore, her brother's and sister's didn't live there anymore; it was all hers and now she was confident that none of her siblings could take it away from her. In a couple of days, she would call them back and this time tell them that their father had died in his sleep peacefully and she would be taking care of all the arrangements. It was a gamble, because one of her brothers or sisters might actually go to the hospital, but she doubted it. Things fell apart after their mother died and their father was always the grumpy old man who complained when he couldn't hear the TV that was already on full volume or scolded them for some past wrong doing that he had to get off his chest. Lindsay was the only one who stuck around. She even moved in to take care of him. Lindsay walked down the hall way with her arms extended to the sides and brushed her fingertips along the newly painted walls. Lindsay felt smug. She deserved this, after all she was the one that sacrificed her happiness and gave up her own life to take care of him. Yes, she definitely earned it and now she could finally start living again.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This was it.
Part One.

Thanks Gaspi your Guide

"It's dad. I don't think he has much longer. You should come to the hospital."
"Oh. So it's bad. Where is he again?"
"King's. Room 309. Come soon."

Deborah held the phone in her hand and stared out the window. Her father was dying. This was it. She should tell Mark and the kids and they should go to the hospital as soon as possible, after all there wasn't much time. Yes, she had to go. This was her father after all, the man that gave her life and also made her life a living hell. Deborah had come to terms with the relationship with her father a long time ago when she realized that she wasted years seeking the approval that would never come. But more than that Deborah realized that she reached a point in her life where she didn't need his approval and that allowed her to move on.

Deborah had not seen or spoken to her father in 10 years. As far as she was concerned he was just as good as dead. There were no Father's Day brunches, or Christmas morning Masses, or drop in visits, or random Sunday dinners. For 10 years Deborah didn't have a father. Did she really want to see him now, on his death bed of all places, and go through the process of letting him go again? But this was different. Her father was dying. This was it. She should tell Mark and the kids and they should go to the hospital as soon as possible, after all there wasn't much time. Yes she had to go.

This was it.
Part Two.

"I wrote the room number down. It should be somewhere in my bag," Deborah said as she reached to the back seat to feel around for her purse. Her fingers gently brushed the leather straps as her other hand expertly maneuvered the steering wheel. "Mark will you be a dear and look for a yellow Post-It. It should be in the front pocket." She handed her brown leather satchel to her husband in the front seat.
"Honey, I don't see anything. It's just a bunch of receipts, Safeway, Chinese take-out, drugstore, Nordstrom, no Post-It," Mark frowned, while flipping through a handful of paper.
"Shoot. Well I guess we'll just ask the front desk when we get there."

This was it. Deborah had been dreading this day, it seemed like since she was a little girl. The thought of death, especially of a parents dying, was almost too much for her to bear. Such incredible loss was incomprehensible to Deborah. She had prepared herself throughout the years, but this was really it and Deborah didn't know if she could face it. She had to keep herself under control. She didn't want to lose it in front of him.

While riding the elevator to the third floor, Deborah squeezed Mark's hand so tight she could see his thumb turning bright red, the red made her think of roses which made her happy so she squeezed harder and harder until the roses turned to blood oozing out of his thumb. The sight of blood was making her faint. She let go and stumbled to the corner of the elevator.

"Honey. Are you okay," Mark asked shaking his hand out and looking at his wife with concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine, " Deborah said shortly. " No, I'm nervous."

Deborah was about to see her father for the last time. She knew that this was her only chance to tell him how she felt and if she lost her nerves, then she would never have an opportunity again. After years of feeling inadequate and trying to validate herself she realized it was all for nothing and it was time that he knew what he did to her. Deborah took a deep breath and walked into the room.

On the bed lay a limp and frail body with tubes connected to various parts. Deborah barely noticed her siblings in the room, but she did notice her father. It was time to say goodbye. She pulled a chair towards the side of the bed and put the aging hand in hers. It was soft and wrinkled. Deborah traced the protruding, bluish veins all the way to the knuckles. She brought her face down to the hand and gently placed her lips on it. It had a strong smell of rubbing alcohol and something funky that Deborah couldn't quite place. The limp body was struggling to take breaths of air, but the intermittent sounds were calming in a way. Deborah sighed and oddly didn't feel as emotional as she thought she would. Death wasn't so bad after all. It meant the end of a chapter and the beginning of a peace without sick or pain or death. A sly smile crossed Deborah's face as she looked up at her father standing across the room. He was losing his wife, the woman he had shared his life with. It wasn't the love of his life and it wasn't the life he wanted, but the life he settled for and now she was dying. Deborah smiled at her father knowing that he had not one ounce of sadness for this limp, frail woman lying in the bed with tubes connected to her arms and nose but this time it didn't bother her. That was it, she was letting go. Did she have to unload the rage that she had built up for the past 42 years? Did she have to cause a scene? Sitting at the edge of the bed, holding her mother's hand, Deborah no longer felt vindictive. It was enough knowing that today her father would lose a wife and a daughter forever. Deborah was finally ending a chapter and wanted to start the next with peace, without anger or hate or pain.

* * * * * *

Deborah held the phone in her hand and stared out the window. Her father was dying and that was it.

It Starts.

Writing has, on and off, throughout my life been my go-to, when I couldn't quite express what I was feeling or thinking verbally, I just had to give myself some time, with a blank sheet of paper and the words would come. It helped me while I was growing up to communicate with my parents, to tell the first boy I ever liked that he was cute, and to personalize my statement that got me into college. While in college, I majored in creative writing and even idealistically thought of being a writer when I "grew up". Instead life got in the way and five years later, I find myself with two jobs, a mortgage, and not enough time to do what I once thought of as my passion. With that said, I recently got inspired, by a close friend of mine, to start blogging and I realized that this is a way I can start writing again. I can use my blog as a place to host short stories on various topics. In a way, this blog is like the homework assignment that I have to do every week (or day) and my readers are my teachers who expect a quality piece, gives critiques (which I'm very open to), or simply appreciates a good story. In any case, I hope whomever reads this enjoys what I write and spreads the word.