November Baby (Excerpt)

From a short story I wrote a couple of years ago, the second story in a series I have been writing–this is part of the first draft from The Healers of Serenity Spa series.

Elise’s eyes were hazel, the kind that held more green than brown. Brynn felt Elise’s hand slide into her own. She gave Brynn a gentle squeeze.

“Brynn, I am so, so sorry,” she said.

Those soothing words, poured over like syrup, warm and sweet . They came through the whale calls and the jingle from the dryer sheet sheet commercial on a feed back loop in her mind–‘so sunny, so clean and bright…’

“Nobody knows,” Brynn exhaled, it was like pushing boulders out through her mouth. But there…there it was — all her anguish out in the room in the air, swirling free between the notes of the whale music and the jingle.

“About your assault?”

Brynn shook her head and put her hand to her belly.

“About this,”

Elise nodded. She pushed a curl back off Brynn’s forehead.

“May I offer some advice?”

“I could use some,” Brynn’s eyes spilled over with tears. She pulled her shirt over her face.

Elise cleared her throat.

“When I first moved up here, I was in a bad way,” Elise’s voice went low. She looked down, running a finger along the plush top blanket on the massage table.

Brynn pulled her head up. Mascara smeared on the bottom of her lids.

“You too?” she sounded hopeful.

“No, lets just say I was invoved with someone who didn’t respect me in any way,” Elise waved her hand, tossing off the pressure that began building in her chest.

“What did you do?” Brynn wiped her eyes with an arm, spreading the mascara more.

“I found someone who helped me wade through all of it. I can give you her number,”

Brynn looked down again. She sniffed.

“She really helped you?”

“Mmm hmmm. Listen, only you can decide what you are going to do, but maybe it would be nice to have someone to unload on before making such a huge decision by yourself,”

Brynn nodded.

“I’d like that,”

*******

Mary found Elise standing barefooted in the shallow water of the lakeshore. She had her eyes closed and face angled toward the sun, arms outstretched, body open to take any and all energy the ground and sky could offer.

“Hey, how ya feeling?”

“That was a tough one. I’m switching rooms for the day. Even the walls in that room are holding every sad angry bit of her,” Elise aswered but kept her eyes closed and face to the sun.

“I’ll smudge it,”

Elise let out a long breath.

“That would be a good idea,”

Copyright 2017 (c) Leticia Jerguson.All Rights Reserved

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Lizard Queen

This is a portion of a story I have been working on for the past three years.  I submitted this for a flash fiction contest and got some nice feed back.  I plan to resubmit after I make the improvements they suggested.  Lace and her husband Daniel are near and dear to me–enjoy!

 

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Chili fries and beer– Daniel always told his wife Lace this when they faced something difficult.     Lace looked down at the hard mound that had become her stomach. She stroked the distension protruding under the thin hospital shift like misshapen fruit.

Daniel leaned in and kissed the top of her nose.  He took her hands in his.  They were cold, so he pulled her into his chest and wrapped his arms around her.

“This was supposed to be a baby,”

“Shhh, we can think about that later,” Daniel breathed in the scent of Lace’s hair—pitchulli.

They remained this way—embraced—Lace in the warmth of his arms and part of the bomber jacket he’d wrapped around her.  Her cheek cupped in the curve of his shoulder until the nurse came for them.

“The team’s all set in the OR.  They’re ready for you,”

A tremor ran through Lace.  She pulled away, her eyes, two chocolate moons, tears, shimmering mirrors spilling over her bottom lids.  Daniel put a finger under her chin.

“We got this Lizard Queen.  It’s all chili fries and beer after this,” he said.  His pet name he gave her on their first date.

*******

“My sister’s boyfriend watches this show where the host believes the royalty of world are actually lizards,”

“Lizards?”

“Mmm hmmm,” she nodded, then dipped the tip of her chili covered fry into dab of catsup on her plate.

“So he thinks the Queen of England is a lizard?”

“Swears he’s seen her almost morph on TV,”

Daniel found himself being in reeled into her brown eyes, gleaming ringlets, and the ever present aroma of pitchulli that lingered on the peach skin and around her hair.

“You know what?”

“What?”

“I think you’re a lizard.   A lizard Queen,” he teased.  

Lace laughed at him, then took a deep sip of froth topped beer.

When the mug came away from her mouth suds lined her upper lip.  

“It’s good to be the Queen,”

*******

He missed that time—before she was consumed with having a child.  Before the stomach pains, bloat, and mass perched on her ovary.  Before a robins-egg-blue nursery and a battenburg curtain hanging in the window, all the befores when they planned their life over chili fries and beer.

She nodded.

“Daniel, I just want you to know whatever we find out, I-“

“Chili fries and beer, your favorites, remember,”

Lace sniffed and sat up straighter.  She smoothed her hospital gown a little, then ran a hand through her hair.

“Okay, you’re right chili fries and beer,”

Second Chance

I received another rejection!  This makes two this month.  After NANOWRIMO I will make the corrections on the first flash fiction story I submitted, and then send it in again to Women on Writing (WOW).  I have to say, I was quite pleased with their critique on my submission.  They encouraged me to make the revisions and not give up writing the story.  That was definitely a boost to my ego.

‘Second Chance’ was the piece I submitted to Mash Stories.  This online journal is unfortunately folding, so I decided to put this piece on my blog.  The three words I had to encorporate into the story were: potato,  bathrobe, and chicken.

Rejection is just part of the writing process.  I will live to write another story.  In the mean time, enjoy my most recent flash fiction rejection.

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Every year on the day of my mother birth reminds me with a phone call. This year I received a text:

‘Hey chicken, we made it! You and me, love you!”

Chicken, my nickname because of my scrawny long legs.

“Love you mom. The doctor says you did good,” I say into her ear.

She nods. Her eyes open.

“Hell! I hurt,”

“Well, part of your lung is missing,”

“Don’t start with me. Shut up!  Go!  Sit down!” She waves me off. The

anethesia pulls her back under.

A few weeks earlier, as we ate potato filled perogi, mom recounted her

visit to the surgeon.

“The surgeon says my lungs are scarred, but from what he could see on

the PET scan the cancer looks contained to the lower left lobe,”

“So we have finally arrived at this point. You were told to stop smoking

so many times,” I said.

Mom hugged the bathrobe around her body.

“I enjoyed every one of those dammed cigarettes. Besides, I’m not the

only one who needs to quit a bad habit,”

I look down at mom’s small frame. Tubes, resembling plastic snakes, 

slither out of her neck and sides. She is ashen, mouth ajar like one of 

those undead people in a science fiction movie. I sigh, what a way to 

spend the day of my birth.  Every year she tells me the same story.

“They cut me from one end to the other. I bled for days. You were so

early. The doctor wasn’t so sure either one of us would live. I had you

baptized right away, and asked for a priest to read me the last rites.

Your No good father showed up three days later. Boozing as usual. Best

thing I ever did was lose him,”

The ping from my phone interrupts my reverie. A text from the bad

habit.

‘Hey, just wanted to check on you, see how your mom is doing. Sorry

about the other day, didn’t mean any of that. Maybe we can meet

and talk?” Javier.

Talk.  He always wants to talk afterward.
“You wanna leave me? Look at you, so fat, whoes gonna want you!” He

head-butted me.

“Javier this isn’t working–I just can’t anymore,” I rubbed the bump

swelling on my forehead.

I stepped back. He moved forward.

I don’t possess my mother’s fire. I don’t rage at people. There is no

roar in my soul…I have another savior.

“Don’t do that,”

“Do what?”

A fuse sizzled up from my feet, a spark hissing atop black powder.

“Stop!”

“Or what?” He stood on my toes.

The burn, her voice, lit my insides- “I’m not the only one who needs to

quit.”

“Or this!”

My hands shot out, slamming his chest. Javier tumbled backward,

dismay splashing over him like ice water. He thudded to the floor.

“Don’t you ever touch me again!”
I delete the text.

I bend close to my mother.

“We made it. You and me, I love you,”

She smiles.

Vitus of The Three Sisters (Character back story)

This is some of the back story for Vitus.  The Three Sisters is what got me back into writing.  This story is a Fantasy story–Atlantis like, but there are three islands instead of one.  While this story is responsible for my trek back to creative writing, I have other work in the pipeline.  So, while I am busy with other creative writing, it is important to me that the characters from this work don’t die.  So meet Vitus–and enjoy!

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Vitus picked up his pace, stopping only once to scan an overcast sky. He watched the fish birds tail each other in graceful arcs across the expanse.  Their wails echoed throughout. Two hurled towards the water, legs pointed downward, talons skimming just below the surface of the ocean, and then coming up with squirming prey. They did not even look for a place to land to tear into the caught meal. Instead, the creatures swallowed their catch whole, circled and dove for another unfortunate. Innards the fish birds did not want littered the shore line.  He frowned at the sight of charcoal colored clouds gnawing at the distance.

“Rain,” he muttered.  He spent the night previous with a harlot.   A young girl—maybe in her sixteenth or seventeenth year of life, with dark gleaming brown locks spilling over firm pearl colored breasts to gently rounded hips that only girls of her age have, before bearing children. He watched her slow sensual tribal dance, transfixed with the way she touched her hair as she danced, gently lifting it and then letting tghe masses of waves fall slowly as she turned and rolled her hips to the steady beat of the drummer

“Try, you won’t be disappointed. She’s like wine from the juiciest grapes,” his best friend Darius urged with a wink and slap on the back.

Now, with a throbbing head and wrapped in the smell of sweat, stale wine, and the munjab herb they smoked to increase pleasure, he headed home late. Vitus hoped his mother had arranged a hot bath, sweet coffee, and a morning meal for him before he met with his father and his future wife’s father to finalize the last details of the marriage contract and dowry.

Sonia—Black Sonia as she was known, had smooth skin like a night sky, eyes the color of the richest cocoa bar, and generous mouth  with deep pink lips like the cool inside of watermelon.   His father had paid gold coin for her. The plan was to unite their two villages—a protection against the growing hostilities between his people and the savages who worshipped Mul. Vitus cursed at himself under his breath—

“All on a whore!”

His mind brewed on these thoughts so the scrape of a fish bird’s claw across the top of his head jolted him out of self-pity. Vitus swung at the creature. His blow landed squarely on the bird’s mid-section. The animal wailed, and flew off in wobbled pattern.

“Go! Blasted stinking flying filth is what you are!”

He trudged on, wet sand springing up between his toes and clinging to his bare feet. The thunder of crashing waves in his ears, pounding at the ache in his head.

“Too much  munjab,” he complained out loud, and rubbed at his temples.

Squawking from the fish birds grew louder. Vitus looked up to see they were posturing around prey—something white. The most dominant fish bird stood atop the unfortunate form, a long sliver of flesh clutched in his pointy bloody beak. He shook his powerful white wings at the gaggle moving in on his meal. The other birds screamed and then pushed forward, daring to peck at the form, hoping to come away with bits of meat.

‘Filth!” Vitus shouted again as he came up on the scene. His jaw dropped when he realized the fish birds were fighting over  a child.

He ran to the babe, scattering the birds. The alpha bird flew off his conquest, but landed a few paces away. He screamed at Vitus and waved his wings above his head.
The child, wrapped in seaweed, was face down  with gouged fish and entrails that the fish birds had thrown about in their frenzied manner of eating. Vitus picked the babe up. The bag of life and chord were still attached. The chord was wound around its neck. He turned the infant around, and gagged at the sight and rank smell—a girl covered in death.  The cancers pocked her thin wrinkled skin which resembled rotton fruit.  Some of the sores oozed putrid pus. Red tufts of hair shot up like shoots of new grass through the dried sand ground onto her head.

A sacrifice to Mul gone wrong.

Copyright (c) 2016 Leticia Jerguson.All Rights Reserved

Poetry challenge #44: Ghazal

This poem struck a chord with me. Freedom and love! Enjoy

The Twisted Roads

I’ve been playing with the idea for weeks, I’m not a poet, but I wanted to try and see if I could at least pull off a half, maybe not decent, but a half okay, sort of all right, you know, passable poem. Sadly, it seems, I picked a bad week to try my hand at Jane Dougherty’s poetry challenge, but I’ve made up my mind to give it a crack anyway. So, enjoy, it was fun.

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As the sun’s rays break through the dark morning sky,

I let my mind wander, I let my heart fly.

I rise up though the trees, up through the clouds,

My mind is a condor, I let my heart fly.

I rush towards her beauty, I feel her soft light,

I let my mind ponder, I let my heart fly.

Through day and though night and through sunset I fight,

Surviving just to…

View original post 43 more words

Shut Up, Nicholas!

I am not the biggest fan of submitting my work to literary journals, but each person in the writing group I belong to, decided to submit a 500 word flash fiction piece to Mash words.

Mash words has the contest quarterly. The magazine/journal assigns three words and the writers submit a 500 word flash fiction story using the three words.

The rules are simple: The three words must be used as they are given–no variation. If the given word is ‘sacrifice’ for instance, the writer must use that, not ‘sacrifices, sacrificial’ or any variation of the word. The second rule is the maximum word count cannot go over 500 words. 501 disqualifies the writer immediately. None of the three words can be used in the title.

The three Mash words for this quarter were: Pizza, Selfie, and Corruption.  Shut up, Nicholas!  was my submission.

Shut Up, Nicholas!

The glass in the back of my truck cab crumbled like glass bread crumbs. I pulled back into the parking spot in front of Happy’s Pizza Shoppe. In an instant, a petite blond woman appeared at my driver’s window.

“Didn’t you see me? This is all your fault,” she said when my window was down.

“No, I’m so sorry! I didn’t. Are you alright?”

“Of course you didn’t. You pulled out like a bat out of hell,”

“I think we backed up at the same time. My cab window is destroyed,” I said.

She wrinkled her nose at my S-10 truck, a garbage barge on wheels–dents, rust, and peeling paint. There were even a couple of bullet holes through the door on the passenger side. I had bought the truck for six hundred fifty dollars while in college. I had just graduated, got a job in my field, but still needed at least a couple more months of saving for the down payment on a decent car.

“Well, I’m calling the police. I need your driver’s license and your car insurance information,” she snapped her fingers then held her hand out to me.

“You call and I’ll give you that information when he comes,” I said.

“Oh, you’re one of those people. You don’t have car insurance. The rest of us have to pay for your irresponsibility,”

I began rolling my window up, but it came off the track at the half way point and budged no further. She sneered while I tried pushing the pane up with my fingers.

As soon as the patrol car pulled into the parking lot and Blondie made a line straight for him. I too got out of my truck, shoving the driver’s door shut behind me. It swung open again. That meant the clasp was stuck. I would have to drive home holding the door shut with my hand.

“Officer! Thank goodness you’re here. This woman pulled out of her space so fast. I mean she just flew! She didn’t even look. I have my children with me. Thank God we are okay,”

“Can I see your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration?”

“Of course, of course, I have all of it here,” she placed the documentation in his hand, then smiled at me, cat like, full of satisfaction.

I moved forward to hand my proof of legality to him as well. The officer put his hand up to me.

“You stay where you are,”

My heart plummeted. I retreated a few paces away, imagining the worst. Just then the back door to Blondie’s SUV popped open. A little boy, a blond replica of his mom, poked his small head out.

“Mom! You were taking a selfie as you pulled away. I told you there was another car already backing out,”

“Nicholas! Shut up!” Blondie stomped her foot.
I drove home redeemed. Her own child revealed the corruption in her soul.

I have to say, this was a fun contest.  My story was not selected, but it was looked at and considered.  That makes me happy, and confident enough to participate in the next Mash words contest.  The words are:  Chicken, robe, and potato.

Enjoy!

Thank You, Black Betty (The Healers of Serenity Spa) Excerpt of first draft

Jubilee

 

The mare skidded to a stop just short of the creek bank. Her two legs in front of her like two poles, hind end hitched up as if some invisible person above yanked on ropes to pull the horse’s rump skyward. Mary-Who-Rides-Horses took flight over her steed’s neck and landed in the creek. She gasped at the shock of December water numbed her entire body.

“Black Betty! You, nasty beast!”

Black Betty looked at the girl with wide eyes, ears pricked forward, nostrils quivering a little. Mary moved to get up, but pain shot up her back. She had landed on a rock.

“Owww,” she moaned. Her hand went to her butt.

The horse stretched out her long neck over the water, and nickered.

“Yes! You. You did this!” Mary scolded her mount.

Black Betty pulled her head up high and snorted, indignant—‘No. Not me! I have done no such thing.’

“It’s only water. Why can you never jump over water?”

Black Betty turned her head. She turned her nose upward catching a scent only known to her.

Mary tried to get to her feet again but pain pushed her back down. She clucked to her steed, hoping the horse would come close enough so she could grab hold of a stirrup and pull herself up. Black Betty noticed a patch of green grass winter had not yet vanquished. Deeming this most worthy of her time, she walked over and began grazing.

“Yeah that’s it! Leave me here you loco horse!”

Cold water sank into her riding jeans, adding to the now throbbing pain at the base of her spine. Mary tried pushing herself up one more time, breathing in and then slowly out. She got little further up until the barrier of hurt stopped her progress. Accepting defeat, she lowered herself back into the water, letting wetness work its way into the bottom half of her plaid shirt and wool sweater.

“Oh, thank you Black Betty,”

*******

Mary adjusted the heated gel pack hanging over one shoulder. She shifted on the ice bag underneath her bottom. Eucalyptus mixed with a dab of peppermint oil wafted up her stuffy nose. Nicholai handed her a list written on yellow legal paper. His youngest had taken a hockey puck straight to the mouth, and he was on his way to the emergency room to be with his wife.

“Of all days for this to happen! My cousin Mary couldn’t stay the whole evening—something about her husband’s office Christmas party, and high school Mary is out of town,” he clasped the bridge of his nose between his index finger and thumb, and shook his head then continued, “thanks for coming in. I know you’re still healing, so don’t worry about getting up. I need you mainly at the front desk. Ask Elise or Darla for any physical assistance you may want,”

“How are the preparations coming for the arrival of Kluney and Plank?” Mary took a sip of her Echinacea infused tea. The few drops of Thieves Darla had mixed in stung her lips.

“Good. Edward will help with setting up an Hors d’oeuvres table when he’s done with his client. The attorneys should be arriving at seven o’clock so make sure the center is closed by six. I will try to be back here as soon as I can,” Nicholai shrugged his coat on.

Mary scanned the to-do list.

“None of tomorrow’s appointments have been confirmed?  There are like twenty of them?”  she looked up at Nicholai and sighed.

“My cousin didn’t have time. Call me if you need anything.   This could be a big break for us. They tried to book this event with Tranquil Springs but fortunately, they were filled to capacity so they decided to give us a try. The office manager said they were looking for a nice place to book their end of the year party. If they like us well enough that could be us.  Remember—Spa voices and be on your best behavior,” Nicholai said as he made his way across the lobby. He opened the door. Frigid air and a few flurries blew in, stinging Mary’s face. Nicholai disappeared into the cold.

Copyright (c) 2016 Leticia Jerguson.  All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Story of Rosemarie part II (Excerpt Leather and Lace)

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Eight years before…

The clunky black shoes Lace wore had cut the feeling to her toes hours ago.  She shifted her weight from one leg to the other in an effort to alleviate the cramping in her legs. Her head pounded from the din of conversation and the live jazz band, which sounded more like someone banging pots and pans together.  The fire in the stone hearth snapped and popped.  The heat it produced brought a heavy clamminess in the over crowded Cafe’.
After this shift she would finally have enough money to buy all the glass beads, hooks, wire for wrapping, and clamps, pliers, and a soddering tool and plate. She had been contracted to make some necklaces and bracelets for one of those fancy botiques downtown Birmingham.  Finally, her jewelery making business was going to the next step.  Lace pushed the pain out of her mind, tomorrow she could  go to Joanne’s and buy the supplies she needed. If the botique liked her jewlery Lace could quit the The Chocolate Cafe.  At the moment though she just needed this couple in booth two to order already!.  The aches and pains in her back and legs demanded she sit.
The girl was over done–obviously younger than she looked. The red dress she wore held her in a vice grip, so that her breasts were pressed together and popped above the scooped neck line like two balloons. Her eyes, the color of black coffee, were lined in charcoal eyeliner, taken beyond the corner of her eyes, and then filled in.  Lace couldn’t decide if the girl was going for an Amy Winehouse look or maybe a young Pricilla Presley ‘smokey eyes’.  The result was a disaster, the liner turned to goo in the clamminess of the Cafe and smudged below her bottom lids, giving her a drunken back alley appearance.  Her generous mouth was caked with a heavy matte red lipstick.  When she smiled red stained her two front teeth.  She sat under the arm of an older man.  Her legs were crossed, but she leaned into him.  She fiddled with a thin gold chain around her neck.
“Have you made up your mind?  Or would you like a few more moments?” Lace asked, she pulled out a wilting pad to take their order.
The older man looked down at the girl.
“Honey, what would you like to order?”
She gazed up at him with a smile, and stroked his cheek.
“You order for us,” her voice dripped with syrup.
Lace creased her brow, trying to look stern, it was that or sink into laughter at the May/December combination.   What was left of this man’s thinning hair, he had combed over the large bald spot on the top of his head.  His skin had an orange hue, too much tanning lotion.  Surely this girl had a gob of orange tanner on the palm of her hand now.
The man scanned the menu in front of him
“How ’bout two Irish coffees,” he slid the two menus to Lace.
“Okay, two Irish coffees coming up, after I see ID,” Lace said as she scribbled the order on the damp order pad.
“Wha-,” the older man chuckled.
“Well, obviouly you are old enough. Your friend here though…I think is trying too hard.  Do you have ID?” Lace looked directly at the Amy Winehouse/Priscilla Presley wanna be.  The cramp in her calf had spiked up into her thigh.  She tried not to wince.
The girl’s wide dark eyes shifted down.  She pulled a small clutch from somewhere.  Lace followed the girl’s movement. She resisted shaking her head.   Really!  The girl was poured into the dress.  Where did the little black clutch come from?
“Sure…sure I have ID,” the girl in red fumbled with the snap on the clutch and pushed her ID at Lace.
“Okay…Angie, born in May 1968?”
“Yes, that’s me, Angie born in May 1968.  Makes me a Taurus,” Angie cleared her throat and gave Lace a sheepish smile.  She wound the thin necklace around her index finger a little tighter.
“Really?  Me too.  What date in May were you born?”
Angie’s mouth dropped.
“Excuse me?”
“Date of birth, quick,”
Angie looked up at her, deer in the head lights.  She let the thin chain unwind, a gold letter ‘R’ settled just above her cleavage.
“What’s with all the questions?  She gave you her ID,” the older man interjected.
“The day you were born please,”
Angie sighed.  Her hand came to the gold chain again.  This time she took the ‘R’ between her index finger and thumb.
“That’s enough!  Lets go, we don’t need this,” the man began to scooch out of the booth.
“May 10,” Angie blurted out.
Lace peeked at the license in her hand.
“Middle name?”
“Are you serious?” the older man bristled.
“Yes.  Middle name –Angie, Taurus, who should know her middle  name,”
“Ummm…Marie,”
Lace looked at the drivers license and nodded.
“May 15,”
“May 15, what?”
“My date of birth and interesting we have the same middle name,”Lace said.
Angie nodded.
“Okay,”
“Oh, and do this,” Lace ran her index finger across her front teeth.
“Why?”
“You have lipstick on your front teeth,”
Angie’s face turned red under all the make up.  The girl rubbed her teeth with her finger. Lace picked up a napkin.
“Pucker up,” she held the napkin to Angie’s mouth,”too much lipstick.”
“Thanks,”
Lace looked from the older man to Angie.  She had to quash the urge to tell the girl it was better to kiss the napkin.
“Okay, Angie I’ll be back in a minute with hot chocolates for both of you,”
“We ordered two Irish coffees,” the orange man called after her.
“I know,” Lace didn’t bother to glance back.

Present…

“Oh, God,”
Mamna Rose took both of Lace’s hand in hers.  She moved close so that Lace could see her eyes, black coffee– Like Daniel’s, like Angie, no Rosemarie.  She saw the remnants of the same storm she had passed to her children but in her, the darkest part had gone, maybe tempered over time by the seven children she had born or perhaps vanquished in one devastating blow with death of a child.  Which ever, her tumult had roared through, the way storms do, leaving in its wake things being thrown about, ripped out of the ground, and turned over, now all that was left was a gentle rain.
“Lace, what ever happens between you two, I ask one thing of you–just understand it.  Rosemarie died around this time of year.  He always goes a little crazy, he drinks the pain away.  I am just grateful it’s not everyday anymore,”
Lace looked away .  She could still smell the coffee in her cup and the eggs on her plate and a humming sound coming from the refrigerator.  She found her stomach beginnng to settle, her heart slowed, the ice pick was gone, only a hard lump in the middle of her throat remained.
“He scared me.  I didn’t know he could be like that…and there’s always Fiona,” Lace looked at Daniel’s mom, “and please pardon me, but I don’t think I could look past an indiscretion.  If that’s what happened.”
Mamma Rose nodded.  She brought her hand to Lace’s cheek.
“I know, sweet girl.  And knowing Fiona, she gave it her best shot,”  she shook her head, “You do know this family loves you no matter what you decide.”
“Thanks, I love all of you too,” she put her forehead to Mamma Rose’s.
After a moment Mamma Rose pulled away, she gave Lace’s hands a pat.
” You are the best thing that has happened to my son in a long time, so I am going to present his case for him,”
Lace laughed out loud.
“Listen to me,  I know him better than anyone. He has his wild ways, he and Rosemarie were cut from the same cloth that way, restless.  Daniel has always been respectful, though.   He’s never brought any of his ally cats here, not even Fiona.  You are the only one he has come home with, and he came through the front door with you.  He’s never kept you in the shadows. He walks out in the sunshine with you, shows you off, takes care of you.  You don’t think that gets under Fiona’s skin?”
Lace nodded.  Mamma Rose pushed that stray curl back behind Lace’s ear and continued.
” Fiona was never anything more than lust and physical needs, they used eachother that way–two wild cats nothing more than that.  You are different it’s all about love with you, he’s up in his place over the garage there, drawing and painting pictures of you–your face, your hair.  Esperanza says he has a scarf of yours tied to one of the slats in his head board, smells like your perfume. In all the time he has known Fiona he has never drawn or painted one picture of her, Lace, not one,”
Lace sighed.
“Mamna Rose, you missed your calling you should have been a lawyer”
“No, I am a mother who loves a stupid son.  I want what is good for him.  You have him hands down.   What will you do?”

 

Copyright 2016 (c) Leticia Jerguson. All Rights Reserved

The Story of RoseMarie (Excerpt from Leather and Lace) draft

image

Lace pushed a stray curl behind her ear. She put her finger tips to the hot coffee cup.  Rose limped to the stove and scooped some eggs for her.
“I don’t mean to be a bother Mamma Rose, but Daniel is not answering his phone.  I have been worried,”
Rose sighed.
“He’s here.  Sleeping off the booze.  Esperanza tells me you two had a doozy.  He and Frankie ripped up the town.  Fiona dropped him off,”
“Oh,” Lace said.   Fiona, always Fiona, around the corner, at the door, just dropping by, just leaving, she followed like a shadow.
“Mmmm…mmm…that boy of mine, Lace,” Rose eyed Lace as she poured more coffee into Lace’s cup.
“Toast?”
Lace nodded.  Her throat went dry and she couldn’t speak.  She took a sip of coffee.

“Ummm…do you think…do you…well…could he and Fiona have…you know,” the courage to stammer that question came fom the bottom of Lace’s feet.
Rose shrugged.  The toaster ejected Lace’s toast.  Rose took the hot bread and spread butter over the two pieces.  The smell wound a warm comfort of sorts around the kitchen.  Rose put the toast on the plate with the eggs and put the plate in front of Lace, then sat down.  She took a sip of her own coffee.
“Those two…I don’t know what draws my son to her, even after all this time.  He’s a drunk and she’s a bad drink, like turpentine,  I think.”
Lace’s head dropped, her stomach shrunk.  Her insides felt like they were being put through a meat grinder.  She felt dizzy.  Fiona had scored a victory.  Lace could see those mocking dark eyes and berry mouth curved up into that customary smirk.  Fiona stood at the handle, turning the meat grinder until Lace’s innards came out in a long slow tail.
The eggs began to crawl back up her throat.
“Well, I wanted to make sure, he got back okay,” she pushed her chair out and stood.  “You know, I think I should be going.  Thanks for breakfast.  I can call a cab.”
Rose touched her hand.
“Lace, come now, please sit,”
Lace shook her head.  Warm tears rolled down her cheeks.
“No, it’s best that I go,” the feet were unwilling to move though.  An ice pick hammered at her heart chipping away at it small chunk by small chunk.  She pushed her purse into her rolling stomach.
“Lace…you don’t know?”
“Oh, I know…I’ve known since the day I met Daniel.  Fiona made sure about that!  I was stupid, stupid, stupid…to ever think he coul-,” she closed her eyes.  She didn’t even have the pride to be embarrassed.   Her insides wanted spill out on the floor in front of her.  What a relief that would be.
Rose touched Lace’s arm, like a feather.
“I’m not talking about that.  Come, sit.  Let me tell you about the one person this family never talks about,” Rose gestured towards Lace’s seat.

A tear drop ran down the length of Lace’s nose and dangled at its tip.  Lace wiped it away.  Rose looked up at her with pleading eyes.
“Sit, my dear.  Let me tell you about Rosemarie,”

Lace looked down at the picture in front of her.  A brown haired girl with olive colored skin and eyes the color of black coffee. Her mouth curved up into a half smile.  She carried Daniel’s brooding expression.  Her eyes, they were the same as well, holding a storm on the verge of breaking.  Lace put her finger to the picture and gently traced the out line of the girl’s face. So pretty without all the caked on make up.
“This…this is Daniel’s sister,” she breathed, her insides were definitely on the outside now, on the floor under the table.
Rose nodded. Her hand caressed the picture, her eyes softened.
“Yup, that’s my baby.  She was seventeen,”
“Oh, Rose! If only I had known.  He has never said anything,” Lace put her face in her hands.
“None of us ever talk about her, especially Daniel.  They were close, they had the same connection twins have, only Daniel was three years older.  Rosemarie was killed in an auto accident coming up on, oh, eight years ago now,”
Lace pulled her hands away from her face and looked at the picture again.   A wimper escaped her mouth. She wanted to curl up into a ball.
“It all makes sense now, how come I couldn’t figure it out sooner,”
Rose gave her a puzzled look.
“How could you make sense of something Daniel doesn’t talk about?”
Lace shook her head and swallowed hard.  Her mind reeled back to that night, to the girl in booth number two…

Copyright (c)2016 Leticia Jerguson. All Rights Reserved

November Baby (Excerpt from draft–Healer Series)

Ache—sat dull and constant in Elise’s body.

The sun came through her car window, making the interior feel like a kitchen warmed by a wood stove.

The warmth helped ease the slight resident ache she always carried in her from the six to seven

massages she did on the four days a week she worked at the Wellness Center.  Elise gripped a

coffee cup. She pressed her fingers flat as they would go to the sides of the cup so the heat of the coffee sank into each sore finger. She breathed in the dark aroma, closed her eyes, and leaned her cheek against the car window, letting the sun usher pain and stiffness from her body. She tried to avoid taking an over the counter pain reliever, but knew later an aspirin was in her future.

Twenty minutes remained before she had step out of her truck for work and she intended to take advantage of every minute, enjoying warm sips of coffee and a short nap. She had nodded off into a comfortable sleep when the loud ping from her cell phone went off. Elise reached into her purse, irritated that Nicholai was probably calling. He had most likely spied her truck on the overlook and wanted her to come in a few minutes early. The sheets from last night’s shift were probably a big white jumbled knot that needed sorting and folding. Why couldn’t he ever give her some peace? Why couldn’t the last shift just do their fricking job? Who was working last night anyways? Edward? Darla?   Iggy? Probably Darla and Iggy, they hated folding sheets. Why did Nicholai buy that stupid washer and dryer anyways? He got enough free work out of them. They were not only the massage therapists but also the cleaning crew for the spa—dusting, vacuuming, and bathroom cleaning between massages. All these thoughts flew off like fire crackers as she groped for her phone in her bottomless pit purse.

“Nicholai! I am not coming in until it’s time! I still have fifteen minutes until my shift starts!” Elise snapped into the phone.

“Oh, he still interrupts your morning love affair with coffee. I have always told you to park behind the Rite Aid so he can’t see the truck,” a familiar voice came back through the phone.

*****

Mary heaved a wet load of white sheets from the dryer with a grunt. She wrinkled her nose at the smell of mildew wafting into the air. She looked almost spider like, long arms pulling and tugging at the web of tangled linens.

“Damn!” She dropped the load onto the floor.

“Who forgot to turn the dryer on?’’ Elise’s voice came from behind.

“Don’t know. I haven’t had time to look at the schedule. When I find out though, it won’t be pretty,”

Elise put her tote bag into her locker and then came around the break room table to assist Mary.

“I thought this whole washer/dryer set up was supposed to make things easier,” she said while stooping to help a red faced Mary push the laundry into the washer.

“Since when does anything around here get easier.” Mary rolled her eyes.

“Where is Nicholai? He wasn’t up front when I came in,”

“He took his family down state to visit the grandparents for Thanks Giving,”

Elise brightened.

“That’s great! He won’t be running around here with his yellow pad barking orders at everyone,”

“No, he won’t. He will be calling me every five minutes, to make sure we won’t burn the place down,”

“C’mon, we’re not that bad. Are we?”

“Well, so far somebody left a lump of white sheets in the dryer over-night. Thank goodness they didn’t mold. Nicholai would have blown a gasket. So far Nicholai one, massage therapists zero,”

Just then the bell connected to a wire in the reception area rang indicating someone was in the lobby. Mary shoved an arm load of sheets at Elise.

“That, I believe is your first appointment of the day. Take care of these. I will call you up as soon as she is done filling out the health history form,”

****

Mary took the intake form from the young woman standing at the reception desk. She scanned the information written down.

“Okay, Brynn everything looks good. Your Massage therapist is Elise Brady. She should be out in a few minutes. Is there anything I can get for you while you wait? Water? We have coffee, would you like some. There is also tea,” Mary offered.

Brynn surveyed a small table set up with a variety of tea boxes, water bottles, and a coffee maker, the glass pot filled to the brim with freshly brewed coffee.

“Oh, the coffee looks so good. I do need a nice warm up. I guess fall is finally here I woke up with a chill,” she said.

“Well, a fresh cup coming up,” Mary came around the reception desk, ready to pour coffee in one of the white mugs set next to the coffee maker.

“Well, no. Wait…the doctor said no,” Brynn’s hand went to her stomach.

“Well, have water,” she handed Brynn a water bottle.

“Thanks,”

“We aim to please here at Serenity Spa,” Mary gestured to the large black cursive letters that spelled out ‘Health and Wellness’ on the wall behind her desk.

Brynn sat down on one of the faux black leather chairs. She put the bottle of water between her knees, and tapped on the bottle cap with a forefinger.

“This massage is a gift from my boyfriend. I have never had one,”

“Oh, then Elise is the right therapist for you. Soft hands, motherly,” Mary reassured.

****

Elise stood at the breakroom sink letting warm water run over her forearms and hands. The arthritis stubbornly refused to leave this morning. Her fingers were stiff and still swelled slightly.

“We have an issue,” Mary said.

“Give me another minute. My hands and fingers are stiff. I’ll give the client a few extra minutes. Now that Nicholai’s not here none of us have to work like clocks today,”

Mary waved her hand.

“No, no, no, not that,”

“What?”

“This girl is pregnant,”

“I do pre-natal. You know that. As long as she’s past her first trimester,”

“That’s not the problem. She’s having an abortion on Friday.

****

A few months earlier

Numbers never lie. The numbers on the spread sheets made Nicholai Bernini a happy man. He looked over his crew of massage therapists and at the trinity of Marys, his receptionists. The therapists sat around him in a circle of chairs in the Serenity Spa Lobby. They munched on chips or dug into a sagging paper plate piled with spaghetti and meat balls. The Bistro, which specialized in authentic Italian cuisine, and Spa were a favorite in the small town of Harbor Springs.

“Well, well, well, you all have been busy as bees. The Spa did splendid over the holidays. A 15 percent increase over last year’s season, and a ten percent increase over all. Thank all of you for such hard work,” Nicholai opened the meeting with rare commendation.

He passed a spread sheet with all the year’s figures to his head therapist, Elise, so she could pass the proof of their hard work onto her co-workers.

“Well, Nicholai we all have the sore fingers and injuries to show for it,” Darla said.

“As well as the generous tips from our loyal Serenity Spa patrons. Without their patronage this spa and Bistro would not be successful. We can offer all of our employees a competitive wage,”

“Oh yeah, the eighty dollars for an hour massage, our cut is twen-,” Darla countered. Elise shot her a look that froze her on the spot. Darla pushed a forkful of salad into her mouth.

“All of you will be rewarded for such hard work,” Nicholai said.

“Can we actually have a monetary bonus this year, instead of the old Christmas decorations off the spa Christmas tree, like last year,” Iggy asked.

“I have a surprise for all of you.   First, though, let’s discuss Spa business. There is a lot to cover,” Nicholai replied.

“What kind of surprise?” Iggy asked. All the therapists, except Darla, looked up. They sat forward on their seats.

“The surprise is something everyone will like,”

“A Bonus?” Iggy pressed. The spread sheet with all the figures was in her hands. She scanned the paper and passed it on to Edward, who was shoving a meatball into his sauce stained mouth. He immediately passed the sheet to Loralai, the therapist by his side. Loralai frowned at the paper and gave the figures to Darla, who studied each line carefully.

“An increase in the dollar amount per massage,” Iggy continued.

“No,” Nicholai said.

“Oh, I know, we got a new vacuum cleaner. That old one doesn’t pick up anything off the carpets in the massage area,” Darla said as she passed the paper onto one of the three Marys behind the reception desk.

Nicholai pulled his yellow legal pad out and began going down his list of concerns. Most items dealt with smaller issues such as not getting behind on* SOAP notes, noise in the breakroom during client sessions, retrieving clients and ending massages on time. Three items, though, merited heavy discussion.

Item number one:   No loud conversation.   More importantly, no loud conversation about Iggy’s sex life. That particular discussion boomed through walls of Elise’s massage room, located next to the break room.

“Nothing! No love life for the past three weeks. Have you ever heard of a guy like that? Before, I couldn’t keep his hands off of me!” Iggy complained.

“I know of an Herbal place that can help with that. From what I hear, this lady can make a mix that will get his fire going! You won’t know what to do with yourself. Here, wait, let me see if I have the number…,” Darla advised.

“I’m even considering some ‘landscaping’ if you know what I mean …”

“I thought he didn’t care about that stuff,”

“He doesn’t, but at this point I got try something. I mean nothin’ is happening, and I do mean a big fat ‘O’! Nada,” No matter how loud Elise turned up the music in her room—the conversation only increased in volume. Iggy’s raucous laugh carried through every wall in the center once the two began looking for help on the internet and reading information out loud to each other.

Item number two: Signing out massage rooms. Edward walked into a room he signed out.   He’d left his client to undress. The client decided to take a quick trip to the rest room after Edward left. Meanwhile, Darla, who forgot to put her initials in the box on the sign out sheet for that particular room, put her regular client in the same room. This woman preferred only female therapists. A shriek pierced the tranquility of the spa as Darla’s client ran from the treatment room wrapped in sheets when Edward’s client returned from the rest room and began undressing in the dim room.

Item number three: No discussion about clients. He referred specifically to the incident when Darla finished with a client only to find tiny red bumps breaking out all over her forearms once she was washing up in the breakroom sink.

“Look at that!” she held out her wet arms for Elise to inspect.

Elise took hold of one of her arms and pulled it closer to her line of view.

“This guy has horrible stinky feet he always wants done. I have to put peppermint under my nose so I can handle it. I have been trying to get rid of him,”

“Work over the sheet then,” Elise suggested.

“I’ve tried. He hates that!”

“Oh, he’s a gross one. He doesn’t have toe nail fungus, does he?”

“Who the hell knows! I can’t touch anyone now. I don’t know what these red bumps are,”

“Put tea tree oil, and lavender oil on your arms. And don’t refer him to me!”

Elise and Darla were informed by Mary-who-rides-horses soon after that the client had heard the whole

conversation. He’d left in a huff stating firmly he would not return.

“Did he at least leave a tip?” Darla asked.

three: No talking in the hall while escorting clients to the massage rooms. Nobody needs to hear

about the rash on Lapinsky’s back.

“Don’t worry dear, I went to the doctor, everything is okay… No, he doesn’t know what the rash is, but I

am sure I am not contagious. The doctor didn’t seem to concerned…No, I don’t have a doctor’s

note…Well, why do you think you need to glove…”

 

By the time Nicolai closed the meeting with his therapists satisfied with spaghetti, chips, and pops.

Mary-who-rides-horses passed around the baklava for desert, and Mary-Nicholai’s-third-cousin- once-

removed followed behind with coffee.

“And now for the surprise for all of you,” Nicholai smiled and rubbed his hands together.

A current of whispers ran through the therapists.

“Maybe we finally get a bonus. Business has been so good,”

“If we don’t get a new vacuum, maybe a new coffee maker, that’s going too,” Darla said and took a bite

of her baklava.

‘The Bernini family is so happy with the work of all the therapists. We realize the labor you do is physical

and can be hard on your bodies,”

“You’re offering us free massages. We don’t have to pay half price anymore!” Loralai blurted out.

“Wait, I haven’t finished-,”

“No, I think he hired a maid service. We don’t have to clean,” Darla said.

“Maid service? Why are you always so pessimistic? It could be a bonus,” Elise said.

“I am not! I just know him. In five years we have worked here when have we ever gotten a bonus?”

“I hope it’s a bonus. I could really use the m-,” Edward said.

“A washer and dryer,” Nicholai cut in.

Eight hands turned toward him like swivel chairs. The three Marys behind the reception desk groaned

and threw their hands up.

“A what?” the manila folder in Elise’s lap fell. The paper with all the business sums fell out. She dropped

her arms and shook her head at Nicholai.

“Not a bonus,” Darla sang under her breath.

“Oh, be quiet,” Elise told her.

“The family felt that the dry cleaning service that we were using is not reliable. Especially after the last

episode,” Nicholai said.

The sheets had been delivered after business hours and left outside at the door on the coldest winter day.

They had frozen hard as rocks. The three Marys had to take stacks of sheets and thaw them out in the

towel warmers or take turns zapping them in the micro-wave.

“So no bonus? We had the business. The numbers were there,” Iggy asked.

“Well. A washer and dryer proved to be more cost effective. Perhaps next year. If we have the numbers.

Work hard for the next few months and let’s see what happens,”

Nicholai had taken a pin to their enthusiasm. The giddiness from a few moments ago sputtered out of

his workers the way air blows out of a deflating balloon. The lobby grew quiet. Mary-Who-Rides-Horses

walked around with a hefty bag so the therapists could throw their red stained paper plates in. The

other two Marys began clearing the reception desk of pop bottles.

“Well, I have to say, I am impressed. I honestly thought our reward would be a coffee maker,” Darla

took a sip of coffee.

Nicholai got up. He tucked his yellow legal pad, manila folders, meeting notes and the spreadsheets

with the figures on them, under his arm. He pushed his glasses off the tip of his nose.

“Does anyone have any questions or comments before we bring the meeting to a conclusion?”

There was only a shaking of heads. Nicholai began to take leave of them when Loralai’s hand shot up.

“I do! I have something to say,”

“Yes, Loralai what do you have to say,” Nicholai looked at the girl through the spectacles at the tip of his

nose.

Young Loralai, with a cherubic face and large blue eyes, put her hand over her mouth. She kicked her

feet out in front of her. Nicholai had hired her six months ago fresh out of massage school.

“Yes, Loralai?” Elise looked at her.

Loralai crossed her arms over her stomach and looked at all the curious faces around her.

“Well…I’m pregnant.”

****

Dark blond hair smelling slightly of grease hair clung dull and damp around Loralai’s round pallid face.

Her watery eyes puffed out, and her chin shined with a vomit smear. She had just wretched up the

content of her stomach.

“What am I going to tell my parents,” she wailed.

Elise, Mary, and Darla stood around her in the employee bathroom. Darla dabbed her chin with a warm

wash cloth, Mary flushed morning sickness down the toilet, while Elise waved a small bottle of essential

peppermint oil under her nose.

“Oh, honey, been there done that. Trust me, you’ll live. Of course your parents won’t be too happy

about it at first. I survived. My baby is twenty years old now,” Darla said.

Loralai sank to the toilet seat and put her head in her hands. She rocked back and forth.

“God, I feel so bad right now. Nicholai is going to write me up for being late, again. I’m already on

probation. I can’t lose my job. Not now, especially!”

“Don’t worry. I told him your car broke down. But you have to somehow, get yourself through five

massages today,” Mary said.

Loralai groaned. Her hands went to her stomach.

“Has your ‘baby daddy’ returned any of your phone calls?” Elise asked.

Loralai shook her head. Darla rolled her eyes.

“Of course not. Typical,” she said.

 ****

Nicholai frowned as he looked down at the paperwork on his desk. Elise sat in the chair in front of his desk. They were finishing their weekly morning meeting. Darla’s coffee/Expresso maker and Edward’s hour reduction had been the main topics of their discussion.

“One last thing we need to talk about Elise. Loralai is not doing well. She had three complaints the other day, and one client said she left in the middle of the massage to throw up. I am afraid we will have to let her go,”

“Nicholai, couldn’t you just wait on that. She’s still in the first trimester, things will settle down soon,”

“This is the problem, she is slowing down always tired, always sick. There are too many times when other therapists have to take on her client load,”

“We can cut down on the amount of massages she is doing and switch her shift, maybe afternoon/evening shift instead of mornings for a while,”

“No, no, no, this messes up everyone’s schedule. We are heading into fall; Harbor Springs will be busy with the biggest food and wine festival in the region, our business will pick up. There will be no time for this. Loralai can’t keep up. I need a therapist who can handle the rigors of the job,”

Elise sighed. She gazed at Nicholai in his black leather high backed swivel chair behind his desk. He looked back at her, glasses on the tip of his nose, spread sheets in front of him on the desk top, his yellow legal pad to his right with the minutes from their morning meeting jotted down in his quick efficient block writing. Elise crossed her legs and cupped her top knee. Her eyes went to the yellow pad—he’d written down ‘bring in coffee maker’.

“Tell him we want the coffee/expresso machine,” Darla had told her the day before. She had circled the picture of the brand she wanted in red, “this kind is on sale.”

“Oh, I have an extra coffee maker at home. It was a wedding gift to me and my wife. We never opened the box. I’ll bring that in. No sense spending so much money. If you want expresso just go to the Bistro to get it. We give you all a discount,” he’d told Elise when she presented him with the picture.

“Nicholai, she is trying. I really think if you can wait a couple more weeks—even give her that couple weeks off, she’ll be able to rest and come back stronger. You don’t pay for time off anyways, so what would you lose?”

Nicholai sat back in his seat. He stroked his chin. Hope rose like a river in Elise’s chest. He threw his hands up.

“Okay, we’ll try it, but if this doesn’t work, she has to go,“ he said

Copyright (c) 2016 Leticia Jerguson.  All Rights Reserved