Category Archives: short stories

The Snooze.

CHAPTER 49.

Her niece was getting married the very next week. A lovely young woman, about the same age as she was when the body clock sounded its first alarm.

Instead of retiring “at a decent hour” as her beloved departed father would have insisted she decided to succumb to the more customary, post midnight mania and try on her intended outfit in front of the full length mirror. Her gut was talking; should she look frumpy, maybe last minute flight cancellations wouldn’t be the only reason to stay home.

The sleeveless jersey A line with its graduated greens to blues seemed a fit; thank God, becoming scrawny again still bore up under generic M sizing. Her faded greying hair, freshly trimmed and styled, seemed the right length for the scoop neck and bangly geometric necklace. Bohemian fabric ankle boots held up well around thick, multi colored socks and the olive stretch leggings, their color chosen to complement the bridal party palette, would likely work nicely to hide untanned calves. By all appearances, she was cleared to take off for the much anticipated event celebrating the last single child of her eldest brother’s brood.

Then, facing the glass, she saw them. Bubbles, and ripples, cascading down her forearms and over the tops of her hands. What?

Blood vessels. Every vein, bulging, like a 3-D map of the Interstate highway system. What? She stared, recoiling. Is that why she looked so old in the candid front porch photos beside the beloved little 4 year old music student? She’d thought it the bright sun, meeting the digital phone lens designed to capture detail beyond that which the human eye could see. But, this. This? This was how her arms looked – in real life?

Having melted all the midlife fat the previous pandemic year, she’d devolved to wrists the width of twigs. But, this was a different animal. This was a topography heralding the unmistakeable, unavoidable hallmark of old ladies everywhere. This was age.

At least, that’s what Google said. Skin, thinning; vein valves, weakening; blood, wearily making its endless, return trip back to the heart like some army of tired ants.

She’d remembered touching her grandmother’s skin, the part of her neck draping the throat, marveling at its velvety texture; was this nature’s way of making that which could barely be seen anymore in the half light of the old fashioned boudoir something to be felt, instead, tactile pleasure displacing what could no longer entice the eyes?

She wondered if a man would bear such a preference.

The gathering was a destination event, pulling all family members from the four corners of the continent to meet their new in-laws for the first time. As such she, the most remotely connected of any among her own kin, might put a kink in it. She’d stayed “home” to build her life; the rest had moved miles away. Career choice, and time commitment, plus the absence of proximity had formulated an equation, the opposite side of its equal sign a brand to a relationship void of social attachment; she would be as much a stranger as the whole lot of those awaiting their guests’ arrival.

Add to all that, age. Who’d want to talk to the old, childless aunt? Only those trained in the art of polite exchange would muster up. Could she adopt character, be the jester, an angle proving workable in the past? Oh, wait; in this clan, that would be the patriarch’s domain. Rob him of his coveted role she would not, lest he be named naked Emperor in front of all.

These were anticipating their first opportunity to establish extended family connection. Energy was to be focused. Best not to distract, by provoking extraneous noblesse oblige. Detach; observe; record, like the ubiquitous camera filming the reality show. Would anyone notice?

She’d been 36, the year of her own wedding; her niece was now 38. Twenty four additional months spent deliberating, in quiet expectation. Like ten minutes of Snooze on the alarm clock, more time to resist the inevitable.

Maybe the airline would discover a staff shortage. Perhaps maintenance, or an empty terminal bay, would send the schedulers in a mad dash through their Rubik’s Cube of impossible variables.

She’d let reality play, sans voyeur’s lens. Wedding days came, and wedding days went. Marriages were supposed to endure. Time to take ten, and wait it all out.

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Copyright 9/4/22. Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, the old aunt, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole, part, or by translation. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for sitting with your own family.

littlebarefeetblog.com

SHORT STORIES: A Category.

Most writers derive from personal experience. Those who do not admit to doing so are lying. This category of the blog became its own, after several pieces had already hit Publish and seemed to stand alone as fictitious “Chapters” or stories unto themselves. In this author’s case, some so called Chapters are essential fantasy; still others are based in thinly veiled, frequently embellished, reality. If referenced, no actual identities are disclosed. Should you think you recognize anyone as you read, keep your suspicions to yourself. These pieces, as written, are fiction. Fiction is designed not only to entertain, but to teach.

Thank you!

Ruth Ann Scanzillo, author.

*Click on Short Stories, in the category banner at the top of the Home page.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Ships In The Night.

CHAPTER 48.

The white Pilot approached head on, swung in front of her, and slid into the first spot.

She backed up. Was this the church lot where she’d parked, last year? Music had just begun wafting from the main stage, and every pedestrian was headed toward the sound. The scene was strange. Cues were missing.

She leaned onto the wheel and braked, waiting. A young woman with long, thick honey hair exited the Pilot, walking purposefully toward the sidewalk and crossing the street. Covered in short culottes, a high, wide pelvis and strong legs drove her torso forward like the back end of a camel.

The white Pilot bore a New York plate.

The young woman was alone, moving as if on a deadline, her comportment in stark contrast to the two and threesomes heading down the sidewalk anticipating an afternoon of live musical entertainment. And, in from New York state by herself, no less.

Removing her foot from the brake, she turned and parked a space away, only to think again and pull out around toward a closer vantage point for audio. Something wasn’t right. Spying a posted Restricted notice, she knew then that this was not the lot she’d chosen the year before; in fact – wrong church – she would need to head one full block further east.

Sure enough. Pulling into her now recognizable north/south alley between the college library and its neighbor, the cathedral, she stopped her car and shut off the engine. Windows open, cross breezes flowing, the music – soaring above the historic homes on 6th and wending between the overhanging trees – could now be clearly heard, right from her driver’s seat. Lowering the visors and adjusting her shades, she settled back to sit alone for the private concert which, this year, would be her consolation prize.

He’d been the single source of hopeful anticipation wrought by the whole, sorry pandemic, he with his keen curiosity and teeming desire for discourse. She’d been riding on his wavelength for weeks and then – with no warning – shut out, bereft, absorbing whiplash like a crash test dummy. Now, her only recourse to move through the stages of grief, she would plant herself within earshot of the very thing which had captured her in the first place: his music.

Familiar treble strains carried their opening tune. Looking off, her eyes half closed in reverie. Momentarily startled, she turned. Here came the white Pilot, yet again, pulling up through the alley and passing her on the driver’s side.

The young woman’s profile was now visible, softer and more youthful than she’d appeared from the rear. What had moved this woman to reposition her own vehicle, on such a fine afternoon? She watched through the mirror as the Pilot continued in search of a place to light. What might be directing its travels?

Her phone vibrated.

“On my way.”

She stared. This was her ex, an hour ahead of schedule. In the care of his dying mother, he needed to borrow her printer to prepare urgent care home intake forms.

Irony flooded the parking lot. This was a moment produced and directed by the Universe, Providence at the helm. Human will. The power, of choice. The fork, in the road.

Wearily, with the impetus of a grandmother whose alarm clock heralds breakfast for the child in her charge, she placed the key in the ignition and turned on the engine, its hum attempting consonance with the concert filling the air. Putting the car in gear, she headed down the drive, turning westward. The music swelled, almost plaintively after her retreat, calling, calling. She kept driving.

Theirs was a fraught intersection. Lasting, in her mind, nearly five years he was yet again in need of her efforts. And, with the regularity of familiar habit, she obliged. Documents forwarded, printed, rudiments accomplished, they headed to the beach to walk the dog. This time, he would dissolve into his own grief, anticipating an emotionally absent mother’s death, and she would embody empathy. To any onlooker, minus any familial resemblance he could be her brother.

The dog was older now, tiring earlier and, after a momentary stop at the clearing to test a flock of Canada geese they were headed home. She noted the time. The main stage had long since released itself to the festival’s next act.

Across on the bayside berm, a bright blue compact caught her eye, the newest car color to trigger her since his lone visit just three weeks before.

Parked directly behind it was a white Pilot.

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Copyright 8/20/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Please write your own songs. Thanks.

littlebarefeetblog.com