A Moment of Comfort
By: Jennifer Kent
Never for one second did I imagine I would hear something like this from Emily. I cannot even express how happy I am that she trusted me enough to tell me though, and not just give up on us. While she went inside to get her grandmother I went into the kitchen to put on a pot of tea. As I look through the cupboards for teacups she walks in behind me.
“I thought Grams would like a cup of tea.” I say as I turn around to face her.
“That’s very thoughtful.” She answers with a smile as she walks into the kitchen and to the fridge to get the milk.
Leaning back against the counter I watch as she sets three teabags into cups and adds a little sugar. Then she stops and looks up at me with a pretty blush. “I’m sorry, I should’ve asked if you prefer to have a cup of coffee.”
Brushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear I say, “Tea is fine.”
While we wait for the kettle to whistle I venture, “So I was wondering if you’d mind if I stayed a while and we can talk.” Noticing the fleeting look of unease on her face I add, “Not about anything in particular. I’m just not ready for our date to end yet,” with a smile.
I definitely see relief flash in her eyes at the mention of the word date before she smiles and says, “I’d love it if you stayed. And I really am sorry about earlier.”
Turning and pulling her around to face me, while looping my arms loosely around her back I whisper, “Hey, don’t worry about that. It was just another moment.”
As she focused on a button on my shirt she nodded her head, pinched her eyes shut and says, “For a split second I thought James was there with us. In the restaurant.” When she paused I sensed she had to get this out do I stayed silent until she went on, “It took a second for my rational brain to catch up to the irrational side. Then I remembered he’s still in jail.”
Just then the tea kettle whistled so I say, “Why don’t we get our tea ready and I’ll bring ours out onto the porch while you bring a cup to Grams.”
Smiling she says, “Okay, I’ll grab a blanket on the way out.”
While I wait for her to join me I put our tea on the little table, then position pillows on the wicker couch so we can huddle under the blanket together. Just as I sit down she steps out onto the porch and comes right over to snuggle up next to me. “Are you warm enough?” I ask as I hand her a cup if tea.
“Yes, thank you.” After taking a sip she takes a deep breath and says, “I thought after some time had passed that I had my panic attacks under control.”
“Did you get them a lot after you left him?”
Laying her head on my shoulder, which caused my heart to squeeze in my chest, she went on, “I would wake up in the middle of the night forgetting where I was and that he couldn’t hurt me anymore. There were days when I would have been on a schedule or when it was time he would be getting out of work I would get worked up because I knew how mad he was that I left him and turned him in. It took me a while to acclimate to my newfound freedom.”
“I wish I knew what he did to you. But at the same time I don’t want you to tell me because I don’t want you to relive it and I’ve a feeling that I would end up in jail if I knew that information and he ever crossed my path.” I say as I hug her a little tighter.
Turning just enough to look up at me she kisses me on the cheek and says, “Don’t worry I would bail you out.”
“Oh yeah. Good to know.” I laugh as we fall into a comfortable silence.
“After I had him arrested and his parents came to see my parents and I they told us he had done it before. He was in a relationship for a few years and she turned him in too. But then she refused to testify. They made him go to therapy and assumed he was better.”
“A piece of shit like that never gets better.” I say angrily because his father, a police chief probably knew that.
“You can imagine, his parents were very apologetic and said this time he would do some jail time. His father said even though he lost his job and that would be punishment enough, as far as James was concerned, he needed to learn a lesson.” She said with a hint of bitterness. “I think he just wanted to save face and not let his son make a fool of him again. The fact that he had a history came out in court.”
“You’re probably right about his father. How long is he in jail for?”
“Considering his history, his lack of remorse and the pictures I had as evidence my lawyer was pushing for the max which in this case was five years. He got that because a few of his buddies testified that he had anger management issues.”
“Good for them for doing the right thing.”
Giving a half laugh she says, “No kidding. I thought for sure they would’ve tried to paint me as some crazy girl.”
Laughing I say, “I doubt anyone would have believed that.”
If you'd like to learn more about Jennifer, please email her at email@example.com, or you can email me (Tony@tonywassom.com) and I'll pass the message on to her.
I Got a Ferret
By: Tony Wassom
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year. Waking up in that hospital bed seems as real in my mind today as it did when it was happening. Or, should I say surreal? That does seem to be a better description of how I was—how I am still—feeling. I spent the first several weeks going through such a multitude of feelings it was like the stages of grief (they don’t still teach that, but it made sense, once). For what it’s worth, I really was grieving: grief for my wife, my son, my dog, even that piece of shit cat that was always underfoot. I grieved for days, weeks, probably months over the intangibles: Doctor Who, Pizza Hut, Chicago…sweet home Chicago. I mean, I’d only been there a handful of times, but it was where I wanted to move, one day. Yeah, I miss Chicago.
When the docs showed me the records and the media files for my accident, I had no recollection of it, at all. One of those life’s little ironies that you hear about. It was the tumor that caused me to drive off of the bridge, but it was the resuscitation that found the tumor. It had been pressing on my frontal lobe for years, I’ve been told. That day on the bridge, something made it press just the right spot and night-night. The really wild part was I was under water for eleven hours. By the time there was rescue equipment available at that part of the lake, during that time of year, the mission became recovery rather than rescue. Another one of those ironies, though: if it hadn’t been that cold, I wouldn’t be here, today. Here…on this ship.
They brought me along so the effects of cryogenics could be studied for as long as possible. I guess I should thank my wife for volunteering me for the study. The records show when everyone was ready to pull the plug, she took this option, instead. There were a handful of us ship-cicles on board. I can only imagine the look on Attendant’s face when he saw my finger moving. I mean, frozen or not, how often do you see someone 195 years old moving around? I’ve seen the video log of me being thawed-out. Not a very flattering color when they pulled me from the tube and put me in a bed; still, it could be worse, I suppose. For the first couple weeks, my color became something like it should be, and it was fun to watch my hair growing. Seven weeks after that first finger-twitch, I opened my eyes.
These days, I plod along like everyone else on this transport. It’s not so different than it was 150 years ago, except I really miss my wife and son. I got a ferret, the other day, and he keeps me company when I get home from work. Not the same as my dog, but better than that goddamned cat. Most days, I get up, have breakfast, go for a run, then head to the university where I teach history (I know…shocker). I enjoy the night life, now and then, and spend most of my free time climbing in the simulator and writing. I’ve been urged to find a suitable mate and contribute to the next generation of voyagers. It is, after all, another seventy-three years until we reach the habitable zone our target star. I imagine they want to ensure the ship arrives with passengers. I just don’t know if I can dishonor the memory of my family I left on Earth. I don’t know…maybe they’re here, too, and I just haven’t found them, yet.
This is a little something from my personal archives. I have a private blog where I used to post my stories inspired by writing prompts. This particular story, written about a year ago, was a result of the prompt: "Imagine yourself in a different century, and describe a typical day in your life."
Two Sides in Time: Lucille (Part II)
By: Jenness Jordan
“What the #*#* have you done to my mom and dog? It wasn’t enough that you ripped my heart out, now you’ve turned my mom and dog against me. GRRRRR!” Vicki cursed, stomping her feet and walking quickly away.
Duncan suggested to Patsy that she take Mishka and go for a walk something. He assured her that everything would be fine, that Vicki would be fine. Patsy didn’t quite feel convinced, however, she trusted that God would intervene in this matter.
Vicki paced the porch as Duncan approached the bottom step. A warm breeze swirled. Brushing their skin.
“Vicki, I know that you’re angry and hurt and I cannot blame you for that. As I said in the letter, I let you down. You trusted me. Put your faith in me, and I ripped it away from you. “Duncan expressed remorsefully.
“You’re damn right I’m angry. That letter and your crazy invasions in my dreams, really pushed the boundaries. Now, you’ve said what you had to say, so leave. Wheel yourself right down the driveway.”
“I’m not sure that I quite understand what invasions or dreams that you’re talking about.”
“Of course not, why did I think that you would admit to driving me crazy in my dreams. More like nightmares.” Vicki sneered, lighting up a cigarette.
Duncan surprised and hurt by the sight of a cigarette in her hand.
“Please, don’t do this to yourself. When did you start this?” He inquired pointing to the rolled tobacco in between her fingers.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but I started this not too long after you invaded my dreams, my life.” She responded, blowing a small cloud of smoke his way.
“I honestly, don’t know anything about your dreams. It’s as I told you before, there’s a force stronger than us that is in control.”
“Enough your psychological bullcrap! Get out of here! I hate you!” Vicki snarled, tears forming slightly.
“Please, don’t cry. I will leave if that is what you truly want.” Duncan humbly replied.
“Yes, that’s what I want.”
Duncan slowly spun his wheelchair, heading down the gravel driveway. His head sunk down the further away he became from Vicki.
Once again a warm breeze circled the air around them bringing with it a hint familiar sound. The sound becoming more clear and intense. It was the music, the song playing in the motel room the night before Luke had kidnapped Vicki and shot Duncan. Neither could explain that night where the music came from. Vicki remembered vividly their conversation that they had the next day about the music and candles.
“Before we go in there, I wanted you to know that last night was amazing.” Duncan smiled.
“It was beyond amazing. There were times that I could have sworn there was music and candles, but that’s impossible, neither one of us got up and set that stuff up.”
“They were there.” He replied.
“You saw the candles and heard the music?”
“Never question magic or fate, just go with it.””
Tears and enchanted sensations rose within them. Duncan abruptly spun back towards the house, as Vicki ran to meet him.
“I’m so sorry my love. Please forgive me.” Vicki wept, slumping onto Duncan’s lap.
“There’s nothing to forgive, my love. “ Duncan tenderly replied, caressing her hair along her face.
They remained outside, in a sweet embrace for some time. Patsy and Mishka returned not long afterwards. Vicki and Patsy helped Duncan inside, where they all sat down by the fireplace to welcome in a new beginning.
A couple of months go by, and things seem to be going good for both Vicki and Stephanie. Vicki and Duncan have set a date for their wedding and find out that she is pregnant. Stephanie is promoted to manager at the hotel and has moved into an apartment near the Victim’s Center. Duncan has begun physical therapy, regained some feeling in his legs, and has been able to take small strolls with Vicki on the property. Even more exciting news to tell is the announcement of Vicki and Duncan’s September Wedding and an important arrival due in about 7 months. Twins!
Upon her return from work one day, Stephanie entered the hallway which led to her apartment. There huddled in the corner of the hall, was a young girl.
“Are you okay?” Stephanie asked, walking up to the girl.
“Miss.” Stephanie said, gently shaking the girl.
Still no response. Stephanie proceeded to turn the girl over, and discovered bruises and ligature marks on her neck and face. Blood seeped from a cut on her forehead. Without hesitation, she picked up the girl and rushed to North Country Memorial.
She remembered seeing the girl a few times since moving into the building, but didn’t know her name or anything about her. That is what she told the nurses and ER doctor upon her arrival. Quickly, they brought her into a room and began checking her vitals, and wounds. The girl was barely breathing. She had been beaten and strangled. One of the nurses found a business card in the young girl’s pocket. It was the Victim’s Resource Center.
The nurse went to the nursing station and called the center to see if anyone there could help them identify this young girl. Mary answered the phone and told them who the young girl was, and then immediately called Vicki.
“Vicki, its Mary. Lucille has been hurt. She’s in critical condition at North County Hospital. I’m so sorry to have to bother you on your vacation.” Mary expressed.
“Oh my goodness! No, Mary, it’s fine. I’m leaving now!” Vicki told her, hanging up the phone instantly.
“What’s wrong?” Duncan requested, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Lucille is in the hospital. She’s in critical condition Mary said. I have to go.” Frantically Vicki told him, rising from the couch and heading to the door.
“Hold on, I’m going with you.” Duncan told her, slowly standing up.
As hard as it was to wait, she waited for him. They left like a bat out of hell to the hospital. Moments later they arrived. Mary was there waiting in the lobby of the emergency room.
“It’s terrible. I can’t believe this happened.” Mary cried, as she embraced Vicki.
“Me neither. Have you seen her?” Vicki responded, releasing her hold on Mary.
“Yes, but they made me leave because…” Mary started to say, but became overwhelmed with emotion.
“What, Mary? What happened?” Vicki questioned, feeling even more anxious and fearful.
“Lucille stopped breathing. The poor thing. How could her own father do this to her?”
Vicki’s heart sank. Feelings of failure, loss, and despair began consuming her. Duncan saw this, and wrapped his arms around her.
“I’m so sorry Vicki. I know how much she meant to you. She was a great girl.” He whispered.
“Sorry to have been carrying on like that, Vicki.” Mary said
“There’s nothing to apologize for.” Vicki told her, comforting her with a gentle touch on her arm.
“Pardon the interruption, but we were able to stabilize the young lady.”
A short rounded man in scrubs said stepping up to the two weeping ladies.
“Are you serious? Really?” Vicki muttered inquisitively and feeling a bit lightheaded.
“Yes, Miss. It was close, real close. If it hadn’t been for the young woman bringing her in when she did, then, we would be having a different discussion right now.” The doctor acknowledged.
“It’s a miracle!” Mary exclaimed, her hands clasping her face. Tears streamed down her face.
“Thank you so much Doctor. Thank you.” Vicki cried, shaking his hand then hugging him fiercely.
“Oh, you’re welcome.” He smiled
“By the way, you mentioned that someone brought her in. Is she still here?” Vicki asked.
“Yes, she is over there talking with the police.” The doctor answered, pointing towards the group of cops and a lone woman standing outside the restrooms.
“Thank you again, Doctor.” Vicki said, then walked over to the group.
“Excuse me, Miss.” Vicki voiced a bit hesitantly, not wanting to interrupt.
“Yes.” The woman replied.
“We’ll be in contact with you later, Ms. Durham.” One of the cops said to her before walking away with the others.
“I understand that you were the one who brought Lucille here.” Vicki conveyed
“Yes, I didn’t know what else to do. She was just lying there not moving.”
“Thank you so much!” Vicki replied, gently grasping the woman.
“Oh, you’re welcome.” She told Vicki, stunned by the quick embrace and Vicki’s enthusiasm.
“Oh, I’m sorry. My name is Vicki. I’m a friend of Lucille’. She comes to the center where I work.” Vicki said, extending her hand.
“Nice to meet you, Vicki. I’m Stephanie. I live in the same building as Lucille.” Stephanie greeted, accepting Vicki’s hand.
Vicki introduced Stephanie to Duncan and Mary, who also shared in the hugs and tears. Stephanie told them everything that happened when she got home and what the cops had told her. From what the cops gathered at the scene, Lucille’s dad admitted to murdering his wife. He claimed it was a mercy killing. Lucille had walked in afterwards and went after her father. He repeatedly beat her, threw her into a coffee table, then from there they assume he attempted to strangle her like he did the mom. Lucille must have tried getting help after her father left, according to the cops. They found the father at the tavern down the street from their place. He didn’t put up much of a fight.
Vicki remained in the hospital that night and the following morning. Never leaving Lucille’s side. About a week later, Lucille was released from the hospital, and went to stay with Vicki and Duncan. It would take about a year or two before the adoption would be finalized. Lucille’s dad gets two consecutive life sentences for the murder of his wife and attempted murder of his daughter. With the help of Duncan and others in the community, a safe house is built near the Center. They decide to call it, “Lucille’s Place.” The Center is renamed, “The Rose Hubbard Center” in honor of Lucille’s mom.
Stephanie discovers her reason for living through saving Lucille. She now realizes why she was sent north, and continues to work at the Grand hotel, but also begins working part time between Lucille’s Place and The Rose Hubbard Center. Her children, Cassie, Brooke, and Jenna frequently visit her with their families. Patsy volunteers her free time to prepare meals for those at Lucille’s Place and The Rose Hubbard Center. Mary becomes the head director and coordinator at the safe house, while Vicki takes over the role of director and coordinator at the center.
Lucille becomes a big sister to Vicki and Duncan’s two new arrivals; Matthew James and Ariana Nicole. She goes on to become the youngest choir director in the church. Duncan continues his singing career but with less traveling. Kat, Cody, Vicki and Duncan have a double wedding on the summit of Mt. Washington. It was a beautiful ceremony. The view breathtaking. Pillows, like cities, streaming across the sky behind the happy couples. Connecting together in a harmonious symphony. One could almost touch the sky and its soft pearls.
You may be asking yourself, who I am and how I know all of this. Well, you see, I’m Vicki’s grandmother. Loved ones never really leave us. Some of us become God’s guardian angels.
For more information about Jenness Jordan, check out her site: jennessjordan. You can also reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet her @jazzyjenness, and check out her Facebook Page, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.