Short Story Sunday: Two Stories – “Maybe” and “The Offer”

A new story for 2020

Maybe

My phone dinged with another text message. I really needed to mute the sound.

Jay: I am so sorry about Ryan.

Me: Thank you.

Jay: I saw your photo. Your still hot.

Me: You still can’t spell.

Another old boyfriend I’d have to block. They came out of the woodwork like rats, only they were middle aged men, all divorced, widowed, never married, and looking for any excuse to get laid.

The messages ranged from sappy memories of times that never meant much to me, dick pics, apologies, propositions, apologies for past bad behavior, and whiney threads of what could have been. I blocked them all.

Mike: If you need anything call me.

Me: Who is this?

Mike: Mike Johnson

Me: What are you doing now?

Mike: Thinking about you.

Me: I mean, are you working? Retired? Married? Single?

Mike: Semi retired. Semi single. Rich. Still have my hair. Still in the area. Still thinking of your hot body next to mine. I never forgot. Never.

Me: OK. Remember, you dumped me.

Mike: I was young and stupid. If you need anything, and I mean anything.

Me: OK.

I blocked him. That made nine. There were more out there and I hoped they’d all keep their thoughts to themselves. I’d dated a lot before I met Ryan.

Them: I think about you all the time.

Me: Stop.

Ryan and I had thirty one years together, two wonderful children, and now I had to figure out what was next. Or maybe not.

It had been five months since Ryan passed. I wasn’t so numb anymore. The kids were grown and handling it ok. I couldn’t sit around feeling sorry for myself for breaking down. I had to be there for them and my grand kids. I didn’t have the luxury of feeling sorry for myself, and Ryan wouldn’t have wanted me to.

Then I received an email from someone I used to know.

Dear Colette,
I was saddened to hear the news of Ryan’s passing. We had worked together on research projects for years and become friends. He spoke often of you and your children.

I didn’t get back to you because I also had Covid-19 and survived it.

It took a while for me to realize that Ryan’s Colette was you. I never told him I knew you.


I sat looking at the computer screen growing numb. The email was from Ian Locke, the one who got away. At least sort of got away. We parted ways because due to the old “wrong time, wrong place” type of situation.

Ian continued with sweet thoughts and good memories of my husband. It was exceptionally touching and weird. I never made the connection when Ryan spoke of Ian. They were never in the same city, and usually they were out in the field or in the lab, so we never met.

Then my phone vibrated and I answered the call. It was Ian.

His voice immediately brought me back to a time forty years ago when we were in college. We were just babies, or at least adults who didn’t know how to be adults yet. It was a time to experiment and flounder.

We talked a bit about Ryan and our children. We both had two. I had two girls. He had two boys. They were all doing great and in college. We spoke of our careers.

Then Ryan said, “I’m getting a divorce. I’ll sign the final papers next week.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“She had been cheating on me for years. When he passed away she wanted to patch things up but it was too late.”

Suddenly I wanted to throw up. I wasn’t so stupid that I didn’t know where this was going. I had no idea, but I wasn’t stupid.

“She gave Ryan Covid-19. She gave it to me. She and I survived it. I’m sorry. I am so angry. I lost my friend. I lost all sense of trust. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t even be telling you this.”

He shouldn’t have been telling me that.

I thought of the research trips. I thought of the times he had to stay a few extra days. I thought of him dying in our spare bedroom where he’d quarantined himself.

Ian continued. “Renee lost it when Ryan died. She was hysterical for weeks, then she finally told me about everything. I didn’t want to believe it but then I saw the texts, the emails, the photos. She said she was going to tell you. I told her no. She said she needed to tell you. What a cunt. I didn’t want you to hear it from her. I am so sorry Colette.”

“Ian,” I said. “I want to talk to you more. I want to see you, but I don’t know… could you call me back in a few weeks? Will you call me in a few weeks.”

“Sure. Colette…”

“I’ll talk to you soon. It’s good to hear your voice. Call me later.”

I hung up.

I haven’t heard from Ian. It has only been a week. I did put my house up for sale. I’m looking for a beach house, closer to my kids.

Nobody knows about my conversation with Ian. I don’t plan on telling anyone.

2020 is almost done. Next year should be better. Maybe. Either way it will be a new beginning for me. I tell myself that. Maybe I’ll convince myself. Maybe.

~ end

For those who want something a little more cheerful read the following story. It is an oldie but a goodie. Have fun. Stay safe. WEAR YOUR MASK.

The Offer (a fairy tale with a wizard, a kitten and a mysterious stranger)

Miles was the official Royal Wizard to the Kingdom of the Moonbeam Mountains. What the fuck kind of name was that for a Kingdom?

“I will NEVER be as good as my dad.” he thought brooding in the dark under the night sky on the roof with a bottle of 80 proof Dragon Blood.

Sitting alone in his castle by the sea he thought of her, the princess who’d more or less left him for another man. Hell, he never had her. She’d always been in love with someone else. They’d been together for ten years. In ten years she’d told him a thousand times that she loved him but at the same time she was running a fantasy in her head about another guy.

For the past 6 years they’d lived with each other almost full-time. Their father’s were best friends. Hers was the King of the Northwestern Kingdom, his father was the Royal Wizard there and their mother’s were girlfriends. Everything was perfect, just like it was supposed to be. Every single year he’d proposed to her. Every single year she’d told him that she wanted to wait. Wait for what? Now he knew. She was waiting for another guy.

He called to have his horse ready and took off to the local pub. At least there he could keep his mind off of things.

Half way to the pub he stopped to pull his gloves out of his saddle bag. He heard a noise on the side of the road. A teeny tiny gray and white kitten ran towards him. It couldn’t have been more than six weeks old.

“Oh sweetie,” he whispered to the kitten, “I can’t leave you out here alone.” He tucked the tiny cat under his coat and continued on.

As he entered the village gate he could hear the band playing at the pub and already see friends lingering around the front door. “Deep breath Miles,” he thought to himself knowing everyone would ask about his princess. They knew he’d left her. They didn’t know why or for how long. He didn’t want to talk about it. Maybe he’d just put a spell on the place to make them all shut up about it, but ethics and his own code of decency stopped him from it. There is no crime in being curious.

After dropping his horse off in safe hands he greeted the people outside then went in. He could feel the small body purring inside of his coat. There was something about a cat that could make one forget everything. Cats were so pure and so decadent and so useless and so calming and so everything that made the universe worth living in. Cats represented all that was. Not good or bad just everything.

He caught his reflection in a window. Blonde hair, board shoulders, blue eyes, dimples on his boy-next-door cheeks and a scar across his neck that would tingle every time she kissed him, no matter what violent memories it brought him.

Everyone greeted him. Big points were scored with the ladies when he cradled the purring kitten in the crook of his arm. Damn that kitty was cute. She looked up at him and mewed a purr dripped sound that was absolutely toxic cute. He could never get enough of that feeling of pure joy and love.

After ordering a brew Miles did a few tricks for the patrons. They always asked and he was glad to give them some shows of blue sparks, wispy smoke dragons and fairies flying over their heads and levitating beer steins. It was all good fun. Fun was always good especially with the way he was feeling.

The fact that he’d been alone for a few months hadn’t gone unnoticed. He could hear the gossip behind his back. He could feel the single women watching him and wanting him. There was no reason for him to be alone at night but he wasn’t ready yet for company in his cold bed.

He heard a voice at his shoulder. “Missing your homeland Wizard?”

Miles turned around to see a tall exceptionally thin man standing at his shoulder. He wore a good suit and a sarcastic smile on his face.

The man continued to speak. “Do you miss a warm princess next to you in your cold bed? Do you wish your magic was more powerful? Do you wish you’d get the same respect and power as your father has? I can give you all of that.”

“It isn’t wise to attempt to provoke a wizard, even a piss poor attempt like yours. I don’t know you sir, but I’m here to enjoy an evening with friends. Now if you’ll excuse me and my cat we’ve got others to talk to,” Miles said to the tall thin man.

“Give me that kitten and I’ll grant you three wishes,” the stranger said in a voice so smooth it made Miles cringe.

“I don’t want your wishes and I’m sure as Hell not giving you my cat.”

At a large table he sat with friends, joking and listening to their stories, but his senses were wide open to any evil that lurked in the building. The tall thin stranger occupied himself with another group, but Miles could feel his presence.

The kitten purred and played with everyone at the table. There was nothing special or magic about her except that she was a cat. “Just a cat,” thought Miles, “nothing more.”

Hours later, after he’d had a successful evening with friends who’d done more than a good job of cheering him up and getting him out of his gloomy mood, Miles arrived home. His staff would be in bed so he put the horse to bed for the night, gathered the kitten back under his coat and headed for the front door. The moonlight made the dark pathway easy. He took a deep breath of the salt air and listened to the waves crashing on the beach below.

“Welcome to my castle by the sea dear kitten,” he told his small purring friend. “You look like a Lizzie to me. How about it? Do you like that name my dear?” The kitten meowed and purred.

Looking up he saw a figure on the cliff. It was the annoying thin stranger from the pub.

“Wizard, give me the cat and I will give you everything you desire. I can make your princess love you. I can make you famous. I can bring you riches.”

“Get off my property or I’ll…” he thought a moment for the bad things he could do then spoke. “What’s so special about the cat?”

“Your princess for the cat Miles. Say the word and you’ll have what your heart desires.”

“I don’t know who you are but I don’t want a woman who loves me because of a spell. I want her to love me for the right reason. I want her to fall for me in a nice long romantic way of her own accord. Love spells are bull shit. Every wizard with any talent knows that. And any man who knows what his heart desires and knows what true love feels like knows that.”

“Give me the cat.”

“Is she yours? Don’t lie to me man. I’ll know if you’re telling me a lie.”

The stranger halted a bit. “Well, no.”

“Then what is it? I don’t want any wishes and I don’t trust you with a helpless kitten. What do you really want? Is this some sort of test? Or are you just a creepy stalker? What is it? Tell me.”

“Do you love your princess?” The man asked him as if he was accusing Miles of cheating.

“Sure I do but, it’s none of your business.” None of anyone’s business that she was in love with someone else. “Get the Hell off of my property.” Miles blasted the ground in front of the man with a bolt of orange lightning. The man jumped back. “Go or the next one will hit you.”

The man was gone. Miles was alone in the kitchen with the kitten. “What was that about? Do you know?”

The kitten just purred.

Three wishes. He laughed out loud a bitter laugh. What would he need with three wishes. He’d worked hard for everything he had. He was proud of what he’d accomplished. Being a wizard, much less one in a foreign country, wasn’t always easy. People depended on him.

He thought of calling her, his princess, but he decided to let it go, at least for tonight. She had left him letters and messages but he couldn’t get past the pain of betrayal.

He wondered who the skinny guy was and why he wanted the cat. Three wishes. It wasn’t worth it. He’d never trade his soul or the tiny stray he’d found on the side of the road. After all, wasn’t it the same thing? He had shown compassion to a small beast. He’d shown his soul.

The kitten didn’t start to talk. He kissed the top of her tiny head but she didn’t turn into a princess.

Taking out a piece of paper and a pen he started to write.

Tonight a strange skinny man offered me three wishes in exchange for a small kitten I found on the side of the road. The man said he could make you love me. I wasn’t tempted by the offer. If you love me I want it to be honest and true for me. No magic. No games. No more lies. 

He wadded up the letter and made it vanish with a flash of blue smoke.  It was no use.  Heading up the stairs with the kitten in his arms he stopped at the sound of someone knocking on the door. “Damn you, I do not want your wishes.”

Jerking open the door Miles yelled, “I’m not giving you my kitten.”

But standing at the door wasn’t the tall skinny man, it was his princess. He brought her in and told her the story of the strange skinny man and the kitten. She listened in wonder and then they both went upstairs.

And did they live happily ever after? Maybe. Only time, or maybe the cat will tell.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Shared Memories and New Adventures – Savoring the Moment

This week I’m in Southern California visiting my kids.

When your kids are grown shopping trips are different. Today we went out to get gardening supplies, ant bait, a cork screw, an air mattress someone can actually sleep on, sheets, drinking glasses, a lamp, and a front door mat.

Last night we, went for a long walk and saw tiny wild cottontail bunnies in the park near my daughter’s apartment complex. The wonder and cuteness overload was still there, maybe even more so.

Tuesday night my kids Clara, Garret and I, went to the beach. Only a few locals were out. The smoke in the air gave off a strange pink glow. Beach fires glowed in the distance.

We talked about how their father is handling the 21st Century. We spoke of the fires. We talked about the insane political situation of our country and the pandemic. We talked about our favorite beaches and trips we’ve made together in the past. We updated each other on friends and family. We laughed about a lot of things. That was the best part. We just let go and laughed at stories old and new.

It is amazing that when we are with those we love, and I mean real love, we just fall into a comfortable pattern no matter how long we are apart.

That can be with family or friends. We just take up from where we left off.

Forget romance and falling in love. That is fine and well, but it is those long term relationships with kids, dear friends, and hopefully family, that keep the soul alive. Those shared memories, and the ability to make new ones is something that we take for granted. Those positive relationships are precious and to be treasured and savored.

  • So dear reader, you know what to do:
  • Stay safe
  • Be kind
  • Wear a mask
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Pet a dog or cat
  • Keep your bird feeders full
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Check in on those who might be alone or need extra help
  • Talk to your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Attending Marvels, Parenting, Smoke, Fire, Flying in the Age of Covid-19 and Stupid Stuff.

The fires in California and the Covid-19 Pandemic continue to rage on. 

This morning #45, a man with a name I shall not mention because I will go into an angry rage, was in town to tell us what we are doing wrong, spreading ignorance and generally making a horrible situation even worse.

Before he arrived I was lucky enough to catch a plane going 500 miles south of my hometown. 

I usually don’t comment on politics but after raising my children in a time when school shootings was a common occurrence I feel I can say whatever I want. Anyway his is MY blog.

Between Sacramento and Long Beach there was nothing but smoke. I looked out the window of the plane for an hour. I can usually see farmlands, mountains, cities, small towns, and even Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Today I saw nothing but smoke until we were just a few minutes from the Long Beach airport.

Since I’m visiting my children, and since I’m the mom I was tasked with bringing a few items with me. One was coffee. Apparently nobody in Southern California has coffee as good as Sacramento’s own Chocolate Fish Coffee. Another was roller skates. The average pair of competition custom dance skates with wheels weighs about 378 pounds. At least it feels like that trying to haul them around an airport and get them through security. Now you know why skaters have such great legs. Those skates are heavy.

Due to the pandemic the plane was only half way full. All middle seats were empty. I was the only one in my section. 

As I pulled out my tote bag I discovered I’d left my book at the airport. It was a well worn copy of one of my favorite books of all time: Attending Marvels: A Patagonian Journal by George Gaylord Simpson. The book is a journal about finding dinosaur bones in early 1930’s Patagonia. It isn’t just about the bones. Simpson brilliantly introduces the reader to the wide variety of people he meets (exotic and not so exotic) and most of all introduces us to the fantastic and almost unreal Patagonian landscape. I love this book above almost all others. It had such an influence on me. I can’t explain it because I usually don’t dig for bones. On the other hand I’m always up for adventure. If you can check the book out at the library or you can get a cheap copy on eBay. 

Luckily I’m one of those people who can sit on a plane for an hour and a half and do things in my head. I looked at the tops of the heads of the other passengers. I listened. There wasn’t as much talking at all – not like before the days of Covid-19. But up front I noticed there were two Vampires sitting together speaking quietly in a mixture of the old Vampire language and English. One had honey blonde hair and the other a dark auburn. I didn’t know them or introduce myself. It was just an observation. I didn’t feel like meeting anyone new today or invading their space.

I’m down here for a week with my children. They’re busy but getting weary of the smoke, the pandemic, the feelings of unresolved social injustice, and the environmental mess ignored and left up to them to fix. 

One is spending her senior year of college and working online. The other just received a gradate degree and is working online and trying to start a business with his best buddy from childhood.

Sure they’re Vampires, as are most of their closest friends, but the same things weigh heavy on them that weigh heavy on all young people these days.

When I return home I’ll replace the windshield wipers on my car that have been ruined from the ashes and grit that has rained from the sky. I’m thankful that it is somewhat clear here. It is still smoky but I can see real sunlight. 

While I’m home I’ll savor my time with my children and try to forget everything except us. I’m here, as always, to give them support, and love, and to make them smile.

I’ll have more on our adventures as the week progresses.

Stay safe, wear a mask, turn off the news, be kind to others and yourself. And if you get a chance kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Food Supply

“I don’t care what they do but they start to mess with the food supply it pisses me off.”

I listened as my friend Howard ranted about people who don’t wear masks and believe in conspiracy theories.

We have friends who believe they can use the situation to their advantage but I’m with Howard on this one.

Howard is a big guy with big shoulders, big hands, big feet, a big voice, and big brown eyes and nobody in their right mind can resist those big brown eyes. He can also be incredibly scary if he wants to be. Nobody messes with Howard. So when Howard says wear a mask you wear a mask.

“I don’t want to go out to get something to eat and end up killing someone because they have a weakened system to Covid-19. People don’t just get over this thing. There are long lasting effects. Mental too if you think about it. This thing hits hard and scares people, not just people who get sick but people who live with them. Stress sours everything and everybody. Seriously, stress is a total appetite killer for me.”

As I listened to Howard I thought about how stupid some people were equating mask wearing with their rights. Rights for what? The right to make someone else sick? The right to get sick? What is so difficult about a mask? It isn’t like the old days where you had to be the same religion as everyone… oh, right, there are places where that is still expected. I’m sure some of the people protesting masks are like that thinking that thoughts and prayers and waving their hands up in the air will save them. Fat chance. Howard and I have been around for long enough to know that will never happen. You have to save yourself. You can’t depend on anyone or anything else to do it for you.

“Why do we always end up taking care of things? You know we always do. What makes it a real pisser is that they never even know.”

“That isn’t a bad thing Howard. Would you want them to know?”

“I see your point. You going out tonight?”

“I’m staying in. Just got a case of blood from Dave’s Bottle Shop. I got the good stuff. What to say in with me.”

“Sure. Thanks. I didn’t want to deal with anyone tonight anyway.”

So here we were, just two Vampires hanging out at home like everyone else. Weird times, but we’ll get through it. At least I hope we will.

~ end

Trash & Trashed (Vampires and my broken Mac)

So I get a call from my brother Aaron and he tells me that he needs my help getting some sort of creature out from a tight space in an old building downtown. I told him that it is too hot and I’m staying home. I already had to deal with bats in my house and yellow jackets. Bats are one thing, but yellow jackets are the true assholes of the animal kingdom.

He said, “Juliette, darling, you’re so good at getting dried up semi-alive rogue Vampires out of crawl spaces.”

“Call a Vampire Hunter. I don’t want to deal with that kind of trash today.”

I don’t want to deal with any kind of trash any day. I finally got the litter box situation taken care of (don’t ask.) and I’ve got better things to do.

My kids don’t even ask me to do things like this.

I could imagine my brother at his desk in his law office with his sleeves rolled up trying to take care of all of the paranormal problems in Sacramento. If you think politics are already weird, just let me tell you sometime about what you can’t see.

I wish one of my brothers knew how to fix computers. My mouse and keyboard functions are going out even with an external mouse and keyboard. I can hardly finish this post without a million pop ups and letters sailing all over the place. Whole paragraphs vanish. I’ve restarted the compute 2020 is alive and well at my desk.

So with that… I’ve got to go. It took me twenty minutes just to get the last  paragraph down. Any typos are dut to the ghost in my machine.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Summer Heat, Schools, and Dog Walks

I can’t wait until fall comes. I don’t mean that lingering September heat that is like a hot slap in the face with a blow torch. I mean real fall with cool air and where the temperature stays under 75°F.

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Every morning I take my dog out for a walk. One of our stops is the local school which is also a park during non-school hours, which is always right now. The highlight of the school trip is getting a drink out of the fountain. Not for me – for the dog.

If school ever starts again we’ll change our morning route. The school we walk in is an old much loved public school turned into a public Waldorf charter school. The gardens are still growing. Staff is keeping the school clean.

When school was in session I loved watching the kids, all wearing sun hats, go for walks to the trails by the lake we live near. The youngest would hold hands or hold a rope so that they’d stay together. It was precious. The school has such a sense of community like the public charter Montessori school my children went to. The Waldorf school is a community and part of our neighborhood community. The same goes for the newer and larger neighborhood public elementary school down the street.

My daughter will be taking the fall quarter, the first quarter of do fourth year of college, online. It sucks but it is what has to be online school. We can manage that. With all of the money government, both federal and local, they could have online schools and computers for every kid if they wanted to. If they really wanted to they could make it happen.

I can’t imagine teachers, school cafeteria workers, custodians, teaching assistants, administrative staff, and others who work for schools coming down with Covid-19. I can’t imagine the horrible nightmare of children getting the virus.

Too little too late can’t be the lament of our education systems. We need to adjust and to see this as a public health issue. The lives of our teachers, children, and school workers depend on it.

Cafeteria’s can still be open for take out meals for children, or social distancing while school is out. Other services can adjust to meet the needs of children and families.  It can be done.

In the meantime, to switch gears to something nice, here are some photos of one of my walks earlier this week.

  • Talk to with your kids
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t complain or whine too much in front of your children. They’re stressed out about this too.
  • Kiss a Vampire (it will be ok. Vampires don’t transmit this thing)
  • Check in on the elderly and those who might need extra help or love.
  • Stay in touch with zoom, blogs, and other social media – or just pick up the phone and CALL someone you care about.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman