Chicky, Heavenly, love

The Mist – flash fiction-drama

It was the first time in months that I felt joy. The further I ran, the happier I was. The wet chill reminded me of fresh grass clippings while running through the sprinkler during the summer. It clung to my bare feet and held on for the ride, wherever it would lead. I felt free. The order from my dad to stay in the yard was nothing more than a mere whisper that was washed away by the thin mist that surrounded me. Laughter bubbled up through my five-year-old self. And when it finally escaped me, it traveled through the field and was lost somewhere in the fog. I stopped running and yelled into the barely-there cloud. “Ha!” I guess I expected an echo. “Hello!” There was no return of my voice. I looked around. I was further out than I had ever been. In every direction I looked, I could only see grass, a tree or two, and a white blanket that consumed the distance, consumed my house. My laughter ceased. I felt the chill of the morning, and my toes were aching from the cold. I wanted to go home, but didn’t know which way. Panic filled me as I began to cry for my dad. Tear’s covered my face while I cried to no one. That’s when I felt her.

Mom placed her hand on my cheek. Her touch was soft, just like it always was, and it tickled, just like it always did. “It’s okay, Dear, I’m here. Look,” she directed me to look to my right. My pink tea-time table was set in the field, complete with my flowered tea set. I ran to it, and I sat. She sat with me. In that moment, I had forgotten that she had been gone for so long. But that no longer mattered because we were going to have tea at my table. Just like we did every morning until she left.

“I like your dress,” she said as I passed her a cup of imaginary tea. It was a white, lacy dress that Dad had recently bought me for church. “It’s beautiful, just like you.”

I smiled. Mom always told me I was beautiful. Every day. I missed that. “Are you going to stay, Mommy?” I asked. A flower appeared on the table. I picked it up and smelled rose. It reminded me of the previous summer when I helped her trim the rose bush. “I didn’t like when you were gone.”

She placed her hand on mine. It was lighter than normal. “I missed you too, sweetheart,” she smiled and stared at me. I don’t remember how long she stared; I was too busy passing out the pretend cookies. “Baby, I need you to know that even though you don’t see me every day, I am here, watching over you and I will be for the rest of your life.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know I went to Heaven, right?”

“Yeah, but you’re here now,” excitement tickled a smile onto my face.

“When the fog leaves, you won’t be able to see or hear me anymore, but I need you to know that I will still be with you, okay?”

And just like that, my excitement was gone. I stood up from my chair and moved to Mom’s lap. I held her, and she held me, until the fog lifted.

My father dismissed that day as a child’s overactive imagination. My aunt insisted I get grievance counseling, which I never did. Eventually, I also dismissed it as imagination. Whatever it was, it helped the younger me get through the passing of my mother from cancer.

But today…today feels so much like that day thirty-five years ago. I find myself in the field, distant my back yard. The sun has barely risen. I feel a slight chill. Everything is the same, except this morning is crisp and clear. There is no fog in sight.   I don’t know why, but every inch of me feels the same as I did that day. Stranger yet, I’m not sure why I am in the field or how I got here. I feel a soft touch on my cheek that leaves a tickle. “It’s okay, Dear, I’m here.” I look toward the touch, and I see her. My mom, who is just as beautiful as she was thirty-five years ago when she died, is standing next to me.

“Mom?”

She smiles and moves her hand from my cheek to my hand. “It’s over,” she says. “It’s finally over.”

My memories of the past six months come back to me. Pancreatic cancer. The pain. Secretly wishing I would die quicker to end the misery, and to end the burden I was on everyone. Wishing I would survive to be there for Declan. Knowing survival was not an option. Feeling angry. Feeling sad. Feeling… beaten. I remember leaving my body. Lingering. I lingered here for…

“Two months, sweetheart,” Mom answers my thought. “Once you pass, your spirit stays until the weather is just right for fog. It’s the fog that lifts us to Heaven.”

“But I don’t see any fog.”

You are the fog,” she says with a knowing smile.

“But fog is just moisture accumulation.”

“Partially. When fog forms, any lingering spirits on earth are gathered into it, and then raised to Heaven once it dissipates.” She nods her head to my left. I turn to see my six-year-old son who is, like I was when my mom died, crying and lost. “It also acts as a window,” she says, “allowing the living to see us if we choose. He is very handsome, dear.”

“Declan, his name is Declan,” I say, excited to finally share my son with my mom.

“It’s time to say goodbye, Amanda,” she says as she looks from me to my son.

I reach out and touch him. “It’s okay, Baby,” I say. “I’m here.” I think about our mornings that we played with his train track, and it appears. I guide him to his favorite toy as we play and say our goodbyes. He nestles into my lap and we sit on the earth, holding each other, until I begin to feel lighter.   Thinner.  And I leave this world behind, following my mother to a place called Heaven.
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Written by Sheryl Marasi
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The photograph (above) that inspired this story is by Jessica Musser Photography.

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drama, love, Uncategorized

About Time – flash fiction-drama

Jerry was the quiet neighbor. The one who never had a television blaring, music playing, or kids yelling. He was that neighbor. The good neighbor. At least that was the case until one week ago at 2:00 am. Yes, 2:00 am…on a work night.

I met Jerry six years ago. It was noon and the summer sun had clearly turned its hot focus directly on me as I was moving items into my new home. I’m pretty sure he took pity on all one hundred pounds of me as I tried for ten minutes to push my sofa through the front door all by myself.

“You need some help, Beautiful?” he asked as he walked up the pathway that divided my yard of weeds into two.

“The name is Katie,” I said being sure to make eye contact. “Katie.” I walked into the house and grabbed the end of the sofa that refused to enter its new home. “Sure, I could use some help.”

As he walked closer to the couch, I could smell my Grandpa. It was a scent I sadly hadn’t smelled in years. Freshly burned, sweet pipe tobacco. “I’m Jerry,” he said. “I live right there.” He pointed to the green-vinyl home to the left of mine.

It took an hour to finish. My clothes were sticking to me and Jerry’s tank was no longer dry.

“I wish I could thank you with something cold to drink, but I don’t have anything other than tap water.” I looked toward the kitchen. “Or glasses.”

“Don’t worry, Beautiful,” he said. “I have lemonade. Why don’t you come over for a drink.”

“Katie,” I said a little more firmly as I followed him to his house.

I felt like I was walking into a home in one of those outdoor historical museums set in the early 1900’s, except this home, thankfully, had air conditioning. The wood floor had a large oriental rug covering most of it, the far wall contained multiple wooden book shelves that were stuffed full with antique books, the curtains were off-white with mini red flowers all over them, and the sofas were dressed in red velvet. Most interesting, though was the record player to my right that was built into a wooden display case. “It’s beautiful,” I said. “Does it still work?”

Jerry ignored my question and made his way into the kitchen. “Come have a seat,” he called from the kitchen.

I sat at a tiny wood table that was covered in a thick table cloth lined with plastic. He placed a glass of iced lemonade in front of me. The ice clinked while he used the table as leverage to lower himself to the chair.

“I haven’t played it for ten years,” he said, looking at me through his glasses. “Not since Barbara passed away.”

I looked back into the living room at the record player and was surprised at all of the pictures that I missed. They covered the wall above and on both sides of the player. I excused myself to take a closer look at them. There were black and white photos from their younger years which transitioned to brown tinted photos and then to color photos over the years. They looked like a very happy couple. They were beautiful.

Jerry joined me in front of the pictures. “That’s my beautiful Barbara. When she was here, we would play that record player every night and dance at least one song together. Every single night. You see that mirror up there with the pictures?”

I did. It blended in with them. Same shape and frame, just a little larger. It was directly in front of me.

“Barbara liked to watch us dance in that mirror. She would comment that out of all the couples dancing, those two right there were the best.” He chuckled. “She made me smile every day.”

Barbara passed away at seventy-two in her sleep. It was peaceful. They never had children. Jerry said they tried for years, but it just wasn’t meant to be. He still had some nieces and nephews that came around on occasion, but he would have loved to have had his own children, especially since they would have been pieces of his Barbara still with him after she left. He explained that the saying that time flies when you get older is only true until the love of your life dies. Then time goes slower than it did when you were a child impatiently waiting to become an adult. Every morning was a reminder to him that he would have to wait at least one more day to be with her.

Over the years, Jerry continued to call me “beautiful” rather than Katie. I came to learn that every time he was able to call someone “beautiful”, it was his way of remembering Barbara, and if I could be any comfort to the old man, I decided it wouldn’t hurt.

***

A week ago, Sunday, I was awoken. Before I fully pulled myself from whatever dream I may have been having it was already quiet again. Some faint noise, somewhere in the night. I drifted back to my slumber.

The next night, it happened again. That time I woke up soon enough to hear the clarinets and saxophones playing to the blackness outside. Swing. It was a swing-styled song. And then, it was over.

By Friday night, it became a ritual. 2:00am, Glenn Miller – Moonlight Serenade, and then it was over. The odd thing was that it seemed to be coming from Jerry’s house. Quiet, Jerry’s house.

By Saturday I had had enough. 2:00 am hit, the song began, and within the thirty seconds it took for me to painfully assault my eyes with my 100 watt lamp, blindly put my slippers on, and angrily whip on my robe, I was in my driveway playing sound detective. Jerry. I stomped over to his house and knocked. Loudly. The music continued. In fact, the song oddly started over a second time. I knocked again, with no answer. I tried the door knob, and it turned.

“Jerry?” I said over the music as I opened the door. There was no answer. When I stepped into the room my lungs momentarily stopped as I was greeted with what smelled like garbage that missed last month’s trash pick-up. I covered my nose and continued to breathe at a bare minimum. The room was dark aside from a glow traveling in from the oven light in the kitchen. “Jerry,” I said again. Then, I saw him. He was sitting on his red velvet sofa with is head tilted back, mouth open. The song stopped.

“Jerry!” I ran to him. He was cold and firm. The song started for a third time. It wasn’t as loud this time. It was quite pleasant, but I thought I should turn off the record player anyway. I walked over, but as I approached, the record wasn’t moving. In fact, the needle was at rest in its slot. Movement in the mirror above the record player caught my attention. There was a soft glow in the room’s reflection. And I saw Jerry dancing in the image with his beautiful Barbara. He looked happy. Much happier than I had ever seen him in the six years I had known him. I looked behind me half expecting both of them to be dancing behind me yelling “Got ya!”, but there was only Jerry, firmly attached to the sofa. The music faded and when I turned around, the only person I saw in the mirror was me.

***

The ambulance technicians said it looked as though Jerry had been dead for about a week.

It was a week ago when I had begun to hear the music. One song every night. Every single night.

It’s about time, Beautiful Barbara, I thought. He has been waiting sixteen long years for that dance.

AUDIO VERSION HERE
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Written by Sheryl Marasi (pen name)

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love, thriller

Thomas – flash fiction-drama

It’s dark in here. The smell is musty. Cellars usually are… dark and musty. The desk holds only one piece of paper, a bottle of ink, the quill pen I hold in my hand, and the melted remains of the many candles that barely lit the room before the one that flickers now. Pink, white, and yellow waxes are melded into some form of artwork that I never intended to create. I have been down here for two days now. My body is numb. I do not hunger or thirst, yet I know I should. I do not cry, though I did…for hours. I merely wait.

“Thomas.” I whisper out knowing a response will not be returned.

Three days ago, I saw him. Thomas. He was with Georgina. They were kissing in an alley behind Johnny’s Liquor Store. Never mind that three years ago, he and I kissed beautifully at the chapel on Fifth Street as we both said “I do”.

I didn’t know what to do when I saw them, so I ran. I know they saw me. I heard him yell my name when I turned to run. “Helen!” he yelled. But only once, and there were no running footsteps that followed. Just my name, and only once.

So, I came here. To the cellar of the home we have lived in for three years. This is where I will continue to wait for Thomas to return to me. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Two days is nothing compared to the lifetime we promised each other. I will not eat nor drink until he returns to me. “Thomas.” A tear rolls down my chin as I pick up the quill pen and ink it.
*****
Cole and Haley both sit quietly in their family room while scrolling their latest social media aps on their phones.

“Did you hear that?” asks Cole.

Haley smiles, “Do you think?”

They both jump from the sofa, run to the kitchen and slowly push the creaking cellar door open. “I love old houses!” Haley attempts to hold in a giggle of excitement, but Cole hears the squeak and smiles.

“Built in the 1800s and full of character…aka a death.”

“Helen Martin,” states Haley.

As they reach the bottom of the stairs, a candle that they did not light is burning at an empty desk with a note made of wet ink that they did not write.  It reads:

My Dearest Thomas,
Forever, I will wait. Please come back to me soon.

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Written by Sheryl Marasi (pen name)

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AUDIO version

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