When I was a youngster I enjoyed reading short stories: Grimm’s Fairy tales,
Aesop’s Fables, Dr. Seuss to name a few. How about you, did you like to read short stories or did Mom take the time to read it to you? I have written poetry, but I have ventured out into short story writing; ” Short Stories by Timothy M Nugent. Here is an excerpt. I hope you Enjoy the short story.
The Woman Who Lived Alone
Hi! My name is Tim and I have been dead for twenty years. I died of cancer in two thousand and fifteen. Who ever heard of dying on your birthday? I always told my friends to celebrate my death. Well now they have an excuse to do that, celebrate life. I am visiting earth so I can watch a wonderful person, my wife. She will be eighty-five years old today and the family is giving her a surprise party. I want to be right by her side during the festivities. Her sisters, Kate and Fran are throwing the party, It is June 7, 2035 and her birthday falls on a Thursday. It is five in the afternoon and Marian is coming home from the children’s hospital. She visits the children dressed as an elderly elf and wishes them Christmas every time she visits. Normally she goes on Monday and Tuesday, but one of her friends children is in the hospital with Hodgkin’s Disease. Who ever heard of a child having that disease? Marian slowly drives into the garage and parks and enters through the den door. Happy Birthday! Everyone yells and rush up to hug the startled Marian. Her sisters and brother Rob give her a long hug. Marian cries tears of joy as she walks through the den to the living room. Rob’s kids are there, Robert, Nikki and Rob’s wife Lisa. Fran’s husband Jon and their two boys Levi and Lawson are there. Kate and Jim are there, they flew in from Boston to be here. “Where are all the cars?” Marian ask. Rob tells her they are two blocks away, we did not want to give the surprise away.
Marian goes outside to my black wooden rocker. We bought that rocker when we got married. It must be sixty-five years old. She made a large cushion out of memory foam. She tied it to the back and the seat. It has Santa Claus on both cushions, she loved to celebrate holidays. She added a roof and screens to the deck. She says she is to old to fight bugs and enjoy looking out to her back yard. The redwood trees have grown to one hundred feet and are beautiful, six great looking trees. Marian never sold our house when I died; she said Tim made me a beautiful castle and I will never sell. The neighborhood has changed in the past fifty years. All the crime is gone and families with money has taken over the area. Marian feels comfortable enough to take Bart into San Francisco twice a month for the playhouses. She has kept up the tradition.
Robert is teasing Nicki, I slap him on the back of his head causing his hair raise. He looks behind to see who did it. I laugh because he did not feel a slap, only the air swishing by. Marian is watching Rob cooking the ribs, giving him little tidbits to make them taste great. Everyone gathers around Marian as she starts to tell a story about the baskets around the house. “My friends and I made those baskets when Tim was working the restaurants all day and night. It kept me from being lonely. He had Tuesday an Wednesday off and I had week ends off. It made me lonely at first until I found things to do. I joined Children’s home Society and made a lot of friends.” Marian smiles as she reminisce about her friends. Some of them are gone but she works at keeping in touch with the remaining group. I rub her shoulders as she whimpers remembering her dead friends. The phone rings, I tell Marian it is Kathy Schneider asking for Kate. She is running late and will be there in a few minutes. Marian tells Kate those exact words and they both laugh. Kathy was always late. She always has too much on her plate. Rob says the ribs are ready and they sit at the table. Marian walks by a picture of me on my motorcycle, kisses her finger tips and presses it against my picture and smiles. I can feel her warmth.
Kathy and Kim walk in and wishes Marian a Happy birthday. She sits next to Marian and gives her a hug. She is Marian’s best friend, they met through Charley Browns a Children Homes Society franchise. Marian tells everyone about the time Kathy had a facelift and I called her two face. Kathy and Marian laugh because I could not understand why this beautiful woman needed a facelift. Kim is giggling next to Kathy and she pokes him in the ribs and everyone is laughing.
You can see the effervesce glowing in the room. Marian did that in a room or at any event. She dressed smartly and had a great personality.
Marian’s friends and CHS brought out the best in Marian. She was insecure and did not believe in herself, but doing large charity events made Marian blossom. She held events for two to five hundred guests and sold decorative trees for up to two thousand dollars a tree. She learned how to talk at these events and motivate a group to put on a good show. I could never understand why these millionaires did not offer her a job. I am just a husband, what do I know.
Kathy ask Marian what she has been doing lately and Marian says, “I have been going out with this gentleman, a retired investment broker. A handsome man , he wants to take me to Paris and wine and dine me,” Marian says. ” Are you going,” Kathy asks. ” I do not know; he is full of hot air and I do not trust him. With Tim I knew where I stood; there was no BS, if you know what I mean.” Marian says and Kathy smiles and nods her head. “Tim was always quiet and polite.” Marian says, ” He could get dark when he was angry, but he was always gentle to me. He was always my protector and my cheerleader. He always pumped me up for our events.”
Weeks before her birthday Marian let her family know she needed no presents. A visit is all she needs. There is a knock at the door and Marian goes to the front door. It is my sister Debbie and her son and daughter and their kids. Boy, how the great nieces and nephews have really grown.
Surprise! They shout as they give Marian a hug. Debbie hands Marian a picture. It is a rare picture of both families in one picture, Nugent’s, and Pritchard’s. I do not know how my sister did it but it is terrific and Marian is overwhelmed. Kate wanted my family here to celebrate Marian’s birthday. Marian was a big part of my family, always giving out cards and presents for birthdays, holidays, graduation, or a how are you doing cards. Lindsay steps forward and thanks Marian for noticing her when she was a child and the support of her child Morgan. Marian smiles and says, let’s have some cake and everyone gathers around the table to light the cake and sing Happy Birthday.
Everyone helps with the clean up and the house is spic and span. Clean, so Marian does not have to do it. Marian sits on her Lazy Boy love sit. “I remember when Tim and I bought this couch. I had been sick with brain cancer and thought I was going to die. We spent quite a bit of money, but it has lasted all these years. It is comfortable and I would sleep here facing the garage door waiting for Tim to come home. At four in the morning, he would wake me with a kiss, pick me up and carry me to bed. I miss those big arms holding me tight. She tears remembering me and I touch her shoulder and she smiles.Those were tough times on Tim; not knowing if I would get well. I made it through the cancer and I am a survivor. Ironic Tim would die of prostrate cancer just as his business began to prosper.
There was a time when Tim and I seemed to be roommates instead of lovers. He was so intense with his business that he seemed to forget me. Then one day he changed and began to be a husband. Maybe it was the skin cancer scare I had. It took a year to get well and it scared Tim. We went twenty years with no vacations. I went on a cruise with friends by myself and came home to hugs and kisses. We never missed a vacation after that cruise. Everyone laughs as Adam says, “Anyone want to go on a cruise?” It is getting late, everyone in the room are in their sixties, seventies and eighties years of age. Marian thanks them and they go home. Kate and Jim spend the night and the three of them talk for awhile.
Jim looks up at a picture on the wall with no signature on it; “who painted that picture, Marian?”
” I did, it was my one and only time I gave painting a try. Tim found it in the closet, I had hidden it away. I did not think it was good. Tim surprised me one birthday and had it framed. He told me it was an expression of accomplishment and told me I should be proud of it.
I ventured into something new and accomplished overcoming my fears. He hung it on the wall and I could not take it down.” Jim and Kate go to bed and Marian falls asleep on the couch. She looks beautiful as she quietly sleeps. She dreams of Christmas past as we ready for our trip to Los Angeles. All year she is buying gifts for our nieces and nephews: always writing notes to remember conversations with the kids. We would spend a couple of thousand dollars on presents for them. Marian would spend weeks wrapping presents and packing them in boxes.
I would leave work on Christmas Eve at midnight and go home and pick up Marian. We would drive all night and arrive at Six in the morning. We would unpack the car and Marian’s Mom would fix us a nice breakfast. Some Christmases I could get a few days off, usually when the holiday fell in the middle of the week.
As Marian sleeps, she remembers the time I bought tickets on Broadway to see the Lion King. She smiles in her sleep as she remembers the live performance and the actors running by her in her seat. We went to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC ,and the White House. We visited Ellis Island and read where our ancestors game to America for the first time. Marian smiles in her sleep and there is darkness. She is quietly sleeping and I fade away.
In the morning, Marian packs her bag to go to Camarillo with Kate and Jim. They want to visit the graves of her Mom, Dad, and brothers, David and John. They will spend time with Adam and Lindsay and their grown up kids. Of course Marian wants to visit the Borg Hotel in Monterey on the way down. We spent many a day riding my Harley to central California. She stands at Lovers Point Pier and tells Kate she wants to be cremated and her ashes put in the bay. “We cremated Tim and put his ashes in the bay and I wish to be with him.” Kate nods in agreement as Jim joins them. “I got our rooms, we have rooms one o four and one o five. Do you want some breakfast?” “Yes, how about going to First Awakenings for breakfast?” Everyone agrees and Jim drives to the warehouse. Marian remembers when her and I walked the sand walkway to the restaurant. We would hold hands and talk. Stopping by the rocks to watch the seals and the birds. After breakfast we would walk back to the motel and take the bike down Ocean Avenue and watch the ocean for hours. Marian smiles and enjoys her breakfast. She orders a wheat germ pancake for the three of them to enjoy.” Tim loved this pancake,” Marian says. Jim says he can see why as he enjoys the pancake.
They travel to Camarillo and enjoys the visit. Marian flys back home and takes Bart home. She likes to walk home the couple of blocks to the house. She likes her independence, not having to depend on people to take care of her. It is ten o’clock in the morning and Marian unpacks her bag and changes her clothes. It is Monday morning, today she visits the Children’s wing at the hospital. She puts on an elves hat and a Christmas vest with buttons, charms, whistles, and bells. She made Christmas shoes with bells and is ready to go. She grabs her bag of goodies and presents and heads to the hospital. As she is driving she gets strange looks from the other drivers and she does not care. She walks into the hospital and the nurses and doctors all say, “Hi Marian! What do you have today?” Everyone knows Marian as she strolls down the hall to the Children’s wing.
“Merry Christmas!” Marian yells as She gives all the kids a peppermint stick. The parents hug Marian as she plays Christmas music on her I pad. One new child says,”it’s not Christmas, why are you here?” “For you, it will be always Christmas.” As all the children shout out their approval. The boy looks at her with a confused face. Marian hands him a peppermint stick and he smiles. Would you kids like to sing Christmas songs and they shout out;” yes!” Marian starts out with ” Jingle bell! Jingle bells!” As the hallway sings with the music of laughter and forgetfulness of the terrible disease that has harmed these children. Marian hands out cookies and candy that will never be eaten because the chemicals will make the kids sick. She will spend the day with the kids. Spending time reading to those who are to sick to respond. She will tell the kids she loves them and will see them tomorrow. She will go home to the strange look from strangers thinking she is some wack job out of a sanitarium. She will smile and go home to her quiet house and fix some dinner. Tonight she will eat dinner on TV tray in her screen cover patio and dream of yesteryear and stare at her flowers of different colors. The flowers that say I love you and the redwood trees with the smells of the Forrest. Next to her wooden rocking chair is a book of poems written by her husband and a box of cards. She will write ThankYou letters to her family and friends and tell them she loves them. Tell them she is going to the city on Thursday for a production of The King and I. It is getting late and she goes into the bedroom and looks at the bed she very seldom sleeps in. Puts on her Pjs which is an old Harley t-shirt from the ’73 Redwood Run. She turns on the TV and lays down on the couch and falls to sleep to NCIS reruns and dreams of long ago. Waiting for time she will be with her husband. I lean over her sleeping body and Give her a kiss. She smiles in her sleep and I tell her, ” it is not your time, my dear. I will come back when it is, I love you and disappear in the mist of love.” Marian awakes and readies for the hospital. She has a busy day today. In the morning she visits the kids and the afternoon she makes baskets with her basket making group. She looks at her weekly calendar and thinks to herself, boy I have no time to waste. She walks out to the patio to look at her garden and the flowers and says; ” can you see my flowers Honey? They say I love you!” As I look from the heavens I smile.
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