Category Archives: short stories

The Last Call.

Two men had said “I love you” to her within five years of each other. They were both drunk.

Why she attracted only drunken love was beyond her.

Or, was it?

Drunks are smarter than the average bear, all the pundits claim. Deeper, too. Why they find themselves among the 15% who become enslaved to alcohol is also the fault of their brains; something about the amygdala and an obscure, but potent, enzyme. She thought enzymes were what made food dissolve in the stomach but, on this morning after New Year’s Eve, she was already short on sleep and in well over her head.

Her family heritage was a red flag all by itself. Paternal grandfather an alcoholic (and, womanizing wife beater); maternal grandfather a pious tee totaler, but not his father ( descendant of William the Conqueror ). The men drank; the women enabled them.

One brother had become enamored of wine and Frangelica in his senior years. The younger had admitted to a lunching phase with his construction crew decades earlier which had gotten “somewhat out of hand”. She, being the lone girl in an ultra-conservative family milieu, and duly branded by the fear of God, had vowed never to stock the stuff. But, perhaps her pheromones smelled not of musk but of barley hops; among all the men in the room, the one who walked crooked would find her, first and every time.

What of the laws of nature, specifically chemistry? Was there something in her DNA that had already charted the course of her hapless love life?

If identical twins raised apart could choose the same shampoo and winter coat, would the female descendants of alcoholics be pre-destined to couple with the addicted who sought them? And, why? Was it all merely nature in search of equilibrium?

One of the two love professors had been in her sphere for four, fractured years. By his cycling binges and tears, and the lies which drove them, she’d found herself exhausted. The other had been part of her professional world for most of its life. On a scale of compatibility, there was no contest; what really mattered was whether and what she needed on not only the first day of 2021 but the veritable rest of her granted life.

Intelligence was a requisite; clouded by poison and a predictable descent into infantilism, not so much. Charm had worn itself out, especially the inebriated variety; what good was a witty opening line at closing time? Health and vitality were increasing commodities; whence these?
“ Hey, baby; how’s your liver ? ”

She loved with immediacy, and exclusively, but committed with caution. If time hadn’t actually passed, it had nevertheless taken a cumulative toll. Being convinced, or not, of love required time; being actually nourished by love would take more than gaping need or empty promises, however familial.

Life was an open question. Love was supposed to be the answer. Perhaps time, like the lucidity which follows stupor, would illuminate.

Was she to be the woman left at last call?







© 1/1/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including by translation, permitted; sharing encouraged via blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting original material. Cheers!

The New Top.

The garment was well designed, as clothing would go. Horizontal, fruity hues, a flat floral motif superimposed. It followed her around, like dress did, demurely, as she moved about transferring boxes of gifts prepared to be wrapped. He was annoyed by it. Something else begging to be noticed in his meticulously normalized life.

He told her she looked nice.

Her kids were gathered about the kitchen island, heads elevated, eyes downcast, awaiting their cues to begin, too old now for Santa. Too many cookies had been baked, decorated, and eaten already, blood sugar clearly in descent. He was annoyed, again. The trip in from the city had been a slog, and he’d wanted to remain to address loose ends. Holidays always threw a kink in it.

This year, admittedly, had been different. He knew his perceptions did not exist in a vacuum. Perception. Craving the integration of mutual experience, ultimately – at least by way of reaction. Reluctantly, he’d acquiesced to the reality that even he could not control the scene into which all mankind had been thrust. Perception must yield to perspective. Yet, feeling his vitals stir, he was also unable to ignore that the whole thing had revived a nagging, indefinable need manifesting in increasing restlessness of mind and, now, body. Where were the salad tongs, for the last time, and why was the countertop not cleared for food prep? He wanted to go back and just start over. He was aging way before his time.

The family was mercifully stable. At least, presently. This was to his credit, wasn’t it? He’d appeared, provided, fulfilled expectations, been reliable. But, this year, gathering had been omitted. Festivity always created the scene in which relative value found definition. Years prior, there would always be a prospect, deliciously absent, the object of subconscious reference as he moved about those in any attendance. Anticipation, the driver of all realization, fueled his action; he could make anyone feel welcome at the party, with the unacknowledgeable waiting elsewhere in his wings.

This year, there would be no cloaking convocation. He felt exposed in his own kitchen. Familiarity had lost its comforting luster. Every crumb in the sink was a pebble in his path. He wanted to set a fire somewhere and breath deeply of its choking smoke.

Normalcy. Vastly overrated. In one fluent strike, he pierced the stainless steel basin with the point of a carver, wiped his forearms of residual moisture, turned, and walked out of the room, heading down the narrow hall and out the door. What he sought was calling him, and this time he could clearly hear.







© 12/24/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying in part or whole, including translation, without signed permission. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for your respect of original material.

Chopin, Prelude No.4 in e minor.


Largo.  (*wear earphones, and adjust volume to minimize distortion — sorry!)

Ruth Ann Scanzillo, piano.

*Recorded at the ZOOM platform, as a test of the dynamic parameters.

July 9, 2020.

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