Story-A-Day May: Reaction

(This story is missing something. Well, it’s probably missing many things, but, in particular, it’s missing whatever Eloise would say after the paragraph that ends with ‘The idea of that was far stranger than being calm.’ Got any ideas? If I think of something, I’ll add it in later.)

Eloise had always been able to react calmly, no matter what the news might be. She had gotten a lot of praise for that as a child. She always thought it was a strange thing to get praise for since she never had to work at being calm, it was just her first reaction to anything, to take it in and see what developed.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, she wasn’t trying to be mindful, she wasn’t trying to keep calm, she just was. And she managed to be that way on a regular basis.

That’s why she didn’t react with panic when Dana gave her the news, she just took it in.

Okay, Dana was leaving her, what was that going to mean for them both?

“I don’t want to leave you high and dry here, Eloise. That isn’t my intent. I don’t want you to be stuck. I just can’t stay any longer. I think that we both have to admit that things haven’t been right for a long, long time.”


“Yes, let’s not pretend any different, okay? We know that there have been problems. We haven’t been getting along.”

Eloise’s mind turned to watching movies with Dana in her arms. Them making supper together and laughing until the had to sit on the floor. Dropping Dana at work and Dana being reluctant to get out of the car because she wanted one more minute with her beloved.

Her beloved. That’s what Dana called her. It had been awkward in the beginning because Eloise had never even heard anyone called that. She had been overwhelmed by the emotion implied by the phrase. It felt like a lot of responsibility to be someone’s beloved.

Now, she was apparently no longer Dana’s beloved. She was something else. She wasn’t sure when the transition had occurred, she couldn’t mark a moment in her mind’s eye when things had gone from beloved to this. She couldn’t admit that things were not working because she couldn’t see how they weren’t.

Dana was staring at her. Usually Dana’s face was soft when that happened, but not today, today she was closed to Eloise, there was nothing there for her to see.

“Eloise, are you even listening to me?”

“Of course, I am.” She was confused, what else would she be doing during an important conversation like this? This wasn’t a time to tune out or to do something else.

“Well, aren’t you going to say anything?”

“What would you like me to say?”

“Damn it, Eloise! Why do you have to be so frigging calm all the time? Do you ever get stirred up? Do your emotions ever come out? Can you just let it all go sometime? Aren’t you just going to explode?”

This was even more confusing. What did Dana want from her? Was she supposed to freak out about losing someone who obviously didn’t care about her any longer? Why would she want to be with someone who didn’t want to be with her? The idea of that was far stranger than just being calm.

Dana shook her head and smiled but there was no happiness in it. Then, she picked up her purse and walked out.

Story-A-Day May: Complaint

(The Story-A-Day writing prompt for today was a story in letter form. I had fun with this one.)

Dear Ms. Carew,

As you know, I am not usually one to complain. I generally like to keep a positive attitude and it has been my experience that most situations will improve if left to their own devices. This does not seem to be the case with our new manager, however, and I feel it is time to bring one of the more challenging aspects of the situation to your attention.

On her first day of work ‘Miss Charlene’ (as she requested we call her) was very popular because she instituted an extra break time and she suggested that we put our heads down on our desks for a nap in the early afternoon. I assumed that this was part of a greater workplace wellness strategy, and since it feel in line with some recent research on the matter, I went along with the practice. It felt very strange to nap at work but I found it very refreshing and the quality of my subsequent work was high, so I did not think it would become a problem.

I’m sure that we could have continued with the midday naps and the extra snack for quite some time without negative effects, but her changes didn’t stop there. About two weeks ago, she started taking us all for a walk at about 10:45. Again, being outdoors for part of the workday made sense to me, even though it was a little disruptive, so, in the interest of workplace harmony, I encouraged the naysayers to go along with the plan. I could not go along with her suggestion that we all hold a skipping rope to keep us together in a line while we walked but otherwise the excursion was enjoyable.

Please note, I have also found ways to adjust to her morning ‘sharing circle’ and her ‘sing-a-long time’ in the afternoon, so I don’t think that I can be accused of being anything less than a team player.

I cannot, however, go along with Miss Charlene’s latest approach to managing her team. When Steve* in IT was unable to make his deadline on our latest project, she did not offer him more support or encourage his coworkers to help him work through the database issues. Instead, she made him sit in the corner and (this is a direct quote) ’Think about what you’ve done, young man.’ After an hour, which I believe he spent napping, he was allowed to return to his desk.

Personally, I find this method infantilizing and I do not think that they improve productivity in any way. In fact, I am beginning to think that ‘Miss Charlene’ may not be management material and may, in fact, be a preschool teacher. I believe this bears further investigation…

Oh, Miss Charlene is singing the snack time song, so I have to go before Jenny takes all of the goldfish crackers again, but please contact me at your earliest convenience regarding this matter. (Miss Charlene’s methods, I mean not Jenny and the goldfish, I can handle that meanie on my own.)

Yours truly,


*I believe in her account she will refer to him as ‘Little Stevie’- these diminutives may also bear looking into.

Story-A-Day May: Driven

I must have been driving for 15 minutes before I started paying attention to the road. I know that you are supposed to be conscious and careful at all times but I didn’t exactly decide to start driving, it wasn’t a well thought-out plan, it just sort of happened. We were arguing and I had to get out of there and I found myself driving down the highway towards town with no real recollection picking up the keys, starting the car or leaving the house. All of those details were just kind of blurred by rage.

My brother has a tendency to do that to me, I get so mad around him that I don’t even know where to begin to calm down. He’s always been able to do that to me, ever since we were kids. When I was really small, maybe 7 or 8, he had this game he used to play where he told me that he wasn’t my real brother, that I was imagining him. No matter what I said, he would keep pretending that I was wrong, that he wasn’t real. I can remember how my face would burn with the frustration of using every resource in my 8-year-old brain to prove that he was actually there, actually human and that he actually existed. It was infuriating, it pisses me off to this day when I think about it. He knew where my buttons were and he could push them effortlessly.

Today’s argument was a little more complex that that. We’re trying to figure out how to help Mom stay in her own place for longer, but he seems to think that the situation is going to pass. As if Mom is going to turn a corner and turn back into the lady who looked after us for so long. It’s not going to happen, she is way past that now and she needs us to help her. He doesn’t seem to understand that he is going to have to step up and work with me on this, he just wants everything to work out.

You know, it’s like he’s afraid of a world without his Mommy…

Oh, crap. That’s exactly what’s going on. The poor man doesn’t know how to handle things without his Mom to depend on and even though he doesn’t want to take over, he sure as hell doesn’t want his little sister being in charge.

I’m going to have to find the next exit and head back to his place and apologize. I’m sure we can figure this out without yelling any more. I can’t have him thinking his whole family is abandoning him at once.

Story-A-Day May – Romance

Jeanine smiled despite herself.”Have I ever told you how much I hate that expression? I don’t want to be a lid nor a pot, neither of those is flattering at all.”

“It’s a metaphor!” Sheena flipped her hand over, palm up, the way she always did when she was frustrated. “I’m just trying to remind you that there is someone out there for you, you don’t have to give up.”

“I never said I was giving up. I said I was tired of this whole thing and I am. So damn tired. It feels like every guy out there is some sort of predator. I am sick of being prey. Why does this have to be so hard?” She hated the way these words felt in her mouth, she was sick of saying them, they even tastes grey and defeated.

“Okay, I have to admit that you have had a string of bad luck, but if you really want to find someone then you have to…”

“GET BACK OUT THERE.” They said it together. It was the end of every one of their conversations about finding one true love for Jeanine.

She was tired of getting back out there, for once she just wanted to trip over a Prince Charming, maybe while she was on her way home, and she didn’t want him to turn out to be a jerk, or manipulator, or only trying to get her into bed. She was happy enough to get in bed when the time was right but she was looking for the rest of the stuff too – she wanted someone to call when she was having a rough day, she wanted the shared memories with someone, she wanted someone next to her at parties, she wanted another member of her team. And she wanted to be all of that for someone else, too.

She didn’t bother saying all of this to Sheena, she already knew what Jeanine was looking for. Jeanine wanted what Sheena had with her girlfriend but she just didn’t seem to be able to find the right guy and they had long since gotten past the point where joking about Jeanine switching teams was funny.

So they sat in silence in the car on the way home, Sheena looking out the window as Jeanine drove.

Story-A-Day May: The Fight

(I am so tired that I haven’t even proofread this. My apologies.)

The kid across the street had been annoying me for a few days. He was out there from right after supper onward, kicking and punching at invisible bad guys on his front lawn. It wouldn’t have bothered me at all if he was out there just playing to himself, but he had to make so much damn noise while he does it.

He kept shouting “I’m going to get you. You can’t have our street, I’m going to kick and punch you until the sun goes down!” Then he would tumble and kick and jump and punch while prowling around the lawn looking fierce. It would have been adorable if it weren’t so loud.

After the first couple of evenings of this dubious entertainment, I had to stroll over and ask what he was doing. He just looked at me strangely and told me, in this voice that suggested that his goal should be obvious, that he was fighting the bad guys so they couldn’t take over the whole street. His eyes twitched the whole time he was talking to me, snapping from side to side behind me and darting to take in the edges of the lawn. Once I left, he resumed his shouting and punching.

I didn’t want to complain to his parents about him, he was just a kid being a kid, but I really hoped that he would tire of it quickly and move on to something else. I really wanted my quiet evenings back.

It didn’t seem promising though, it seemed like he was just getting worse and worse as time went on and one Tuesday night, I decided that after work the next day, I was going to talk to his parents.

Of course, as usually happens once you have made a plan like that, the world seemed to conspire against me carrying it out. I had a terrible day at work, lots of people yelling and getting frustrated. I knew that if I went to speak to his parents right away, I would just end up in a nasty fight, so I decided to have supper first and talk to them later.

That would have been an excellent plan, if I hadn’t also decided to lie down for a few minutes to ‘rest my eyes’ after I finished eating. I woke about an hour later to the sound of Ethan kicking up a storm across the street. I guess I must have slept heavier than usual because I couldn’t seem to get my eyes to focus at all. I stumbled into the kitchen, running my hand along the wall for balance, and got a glass of water. I tried to zero in on Ethan across the street but everything looked so very strange. It looked as if Ethan had an opponent, or, actually, several opponents.

I rubbed my eyes but it didn’t help much, I could still see the strange, dark shapes dashing and diving around the boy. I didn’t even put on my shoes before dashing across to help.

“Okay, I can see them now, Ethan, what do a I have to do?”

The kid smiled for the first time in ages and said ‘Just copy me!’

To this day I don’t know what the hell we were fighting out there and I am not sure why I could see them on that particular night, but I’m glad I could. After I prowled and rolled and punched along with Ethan for about 20 minutes – much to his mother’s amusement – suddenly Ethan turned to me and smiled again.

“They’re gone. They didn’t like you helping, not at all.” And he reached out his hand to shake mine. I shook his hand and did a little bow of sorts and headed back across the street. He just turned and walked into his house.

My evenings have been pretty quiet ever since.