Tag Archives: Word of the Day

Why Can’t I Answer the Phone When I Desperately Need Help?

As the phone on the worn laminate continued to pulse, I was unsure whether to answer. On the one hand, I was desperate to connect with someone who could help me, but on the other scared the person calling now was the one hunting me. My hand hovered over the vibrating device, frozen with uncertainty.

Unexpected yelling at the other end of the lunch counter stole my attention. A squabble had broken out between the two locals who had been there since I sat down. One man shoved the shoulder of the other and I was afraid there was going to be a fist fight. With tension coursing through me I watched the scene unfold.

When I had come in they had appeared to be friends, what could they have possibly been arguing about? Even with their voices raised I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I caught a word here and there but I couldn’t make sense of it.

“Cheat!”
“Liar!”
“Asshole!”

I was sure one of these men was going to punch the other when the waiter/cook walked over and said something to them I wasn’t able to hear. Just like that it was over. What had moments before been escalating into something violent was suddenly amicable. They exchanged glances, then started laughing. How was the proprietor able to diffuse the situation so quickly?

It was almost a minute before I realized my phone had stopped vibrating. I had missed the call. Once again indecision had prevented me from moving forward. How long would fear control my actions?

With trepidation I watched for a voicemail notification, hope and dread mixing into a sour cocktail in my stomach. Nothing. Chills went down my spine and a feeling of foreboding washed over me.

Before I could fully consider the implications of what had happened, my burger appeared before me. I couldn’t help but ask what the disagreement had been about.

“Those two have been having lunch here every day for as long as I can remember. They have been having the same argument just as long. It was nothing.”

It had sure looked like something to me, but maybe I was overreacting because I’ve been on edge for weeks. Oh how I missed hanging out with my friends, missed the simple routines of everyday life. Would I ever have that again?

Taking a bite of my burger, still with one eye on my phone, I saw my brother-in-law’s face appear on the screen along with his number. He was finally calling me back. I desperately hoped for good news as I clicked the accept button.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Squabble and is part of something longer I am working on.

Should I Leave the Relative Safety of This Luxurious Bed?

I awoke slowly, wrapped in the soft folds of luxurious cotton, harsh sunlight fighting against my closed eyelids. When I realized the sheets tucked around me couldn’t possibly be mine, my eyes sprung open, causing a stabbing pain in my head. Looking around the room, it took me several minutes to understand where I was.

Stretching, the sheet slipped lower, bringing awareness to my nudity as it fell below my bare breasts. Quickly I snatched it up, covering myself. Confusion threatened to overwhelm me. I wasn’t one to participate in a random dalliance with a stranger, and yet what other explanation could there be? Humiliation reddened my face as I tried to recall the events that would have led to my current state.

The last thing I could remember was being in the bath, relaxing with a mimosa. Maybe the scent of the bubble bath and the warm water lulled me to sleep. I knew I hadn’t gotten a lot of rest the night before but could I really be that tired? And why did my head hurt so badly? I can’t possibly be this hung over from just 4 beers, could I? Did I drink more than that without realizing it?

As I lay there thinking, pieces of the previous evening flashed through my mind. It had been more fun than I’d had in a really long time. I’d been able to let go in a way I can’t normally. Inwardly I relived the romantic walk down the beach, once again feeling the desire rise inside of me imagining the passion of his kiss. How could he bring about such longing when he wasn’t even there?

But, where was he?

Turning my head to examine the other side of the king-sized bed I saw that the red quilt and pillows had not been disturbed. Was it possible he had just left me to nap? If so, why hadn’t I gotten dressed after the bath?

Gingerly sitting up, I glanced around the room looking for my clothes, which seemed to have disappeared. What was I going to do? I couldn’t very well walk around without any clothes on, especially when he could walk in at any moment. I leaned back on the generous pillows, the covering drawn almost to my chin, considering my options.

They were pretty limited. I couldn’t very well drag the king-sized sheet around with me. I didn’t see a bureau or anything in which clothes might be kept. The only doors led to the hallway, the balcony and the bathroom. There was no indication of a closet even.

Closing my eyes I tried to picture the bathroom. My attention during my bath had been drawn to the ocean outside the vast windows. I couldn’t remember if there was a closet, but surely there must be a towel I could wrap around myself.

Fastening my eyes on the open door leading to the hall, I swung my legs over the side of the bed, keeping as much of myself hidden from view as possible. The enormous bedframe was so high my feet dangled without touching the carpet. Strengthening my resolve I leapt onto the floor, releasing my only hope of modesty should he happen to reappear.

I focused my attention on the opening leading to the bathroom. The spacious room suddenly felt cavernous as I hurled myself forward, feeling exposed and vulnerable. I wasn’t afraid, but if I’d somehow managed to maintain my integrity, I hoped to keep it in tact.

Finally reaching the French doors I shut them behind me, only then noticing they were primarily glass panes, offering no privacy. Quickly studying the lush space I didn’t see any towels. The shelves and bars where I might expect to find them were bare. Briefly I wondered what had happened to the towel I surely would have used when I finished the bath, but there really wasn’t time to consider this in depth.

Turning to the right side of the room I saw a closed paneled door. Feeling relief I rushed over and threw it open. Inside was a huge walk-in closet with double rows of shelves on both sides with countless shirts and pants hanging from the bars beneath them. Stunned by the extravagance I stood rooted where I was. Each shirt was hung neatly, all facing the same direction, organized by color. Who needed 15 white dress shirts? The pants seemed equally absurd in their abundance.

Unsure what to think, I grabbed a shirt in pale blue and gratefully slid my arms into the sleeves. As I struggled with the first button I heard a noise behind me and spun out of reflex to see where it came from.

That’s when I found him leaning against the door frame, his arms crossed over his smooth chest. He had a wolfish grin on his face but his eyes sparkled with laughter as he watched me. Looking down I could see that the still-open shirt did little to shield me from his appreciative gaze.

“Good morning, sunshine.” he said, as I wondered what to do next.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Dalliance and is part of something longer I am working on.

Why Do I Tremble with Both Fear and Regret?

He looks at me and nods in silent encouragement. My hands tremble as I hold the phone. Will the quaking never cease? I close my eyes trying to find the courage, the strength to do what I know must be done.

Breathing deeply in an attempt to get control over my body I create a new text message. With tears in my eyes I begin to type in his name. Why am I always crying? Is it simply fear, or is it also regret wetting my cheeks? There had been so many possibilities; I had been filled with hope for the future. Now all my dreams are gone, vanished into nothingness like they had never existed.

This is all too much to handle. I can’t do this.

But I must.

And so I type:

Sorry I took off. I was confused but I must have been crazy to leave. I love you. Can you forgive me? I need to see you again.

I add a heart emoji and hit send. Is this enough to convince him? Waiting for him to respond, the anticipation almost crushes me.

I can’t take my eyes off my phone, but for some reason it’s getting blurry. Spots dance in front of my eyes but I’m unable to look away. Suddenly I feel strong arms around me, pulling me close, embracing me tightly enough to calm the shaking.

It’s my protector, my hero. He has done so much for me, there’s no way I could ever repay his kindness. And yet it’s impossible for me to trust him. He doesn’t need the money, so why is he really helping me? What is his agenda? What’s in it for him? Why is he still here?

With the phone pressed between us I’m finally freed from my fixation. My mind wanders in unexpected directions as his hand brushes soothingly over my hair. Is it possible that he is as generous, as compassionate as he seems? There has to be more, doesn’t there? I’ve only known him a few days. It’s too soon to believe he’s the kind of person he appears to be.

It feels so good to be protected this way though. To be able to depend on his strength when mine has become so fragile is such a relief. I can’t bear the thought of losing it. Not now, maybe not ever.

The ding of a text message interrupts my meandering speculation. For a minute neither of us moves. I’m terrified of his response. The arms squeeze me one last time before releasing me.

Glancing at the screen my stomach drops in alarm as I read what he has written.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Anticipation and is part of something longer I am working on.

How Long Will He Stay to Protect Me from Harm?

We sit quietly together on the back porch in matching white wooden rocking chairs. My knees are pulled into my chest, my hands cupping a warm mug of coffee as they pull my shins closer. The air is cool, barely 60 degrees this morning.

I rock slowly, lost in thought, the sound of my chair the only competition with the birds and the river. So much has changed. He has been here one week today and I feel a sense of camaraderie just sitting with him. I feel safe for the first time in weeks, but it’s more than that. In so many ways he’s become a true friend.

I rest my head on my thighs, glancing surreptitiously at him. Using my long brown hair to conceal my eyes, I watch him sitting as still as a statue.

Most would see a strong, ruggedly handsome 40-something man with close-cropped grey hair, his lean muscles rippling under his white t-shirt, his square jaw shadowed with stubble. The dark circles under his eyes are the only indication that anything is amiss.

I see more. I see a man who has given his life to protect others. I see a man who has sacrificed his dreams so that others can follow theirs. I long to reach out, to ease his tension somehow, but I hold back afraid to reciprocate the comfort he has given me.

He is always on alert and this morning is no exception. Although he appears relaxed I know he is ready to spring into action at any moment.

How much longer will it be until our plan works and we can be done hiding? How long is he willing to stay locked away here with me? In other circumstances this would be an ideal location for a relaxing vacation, but instead this cabin has become our prison. I fear he’ll lose patience and leave. There’s nothing keeping him here.

His chair creaks as he stands. Without a word he starts his rounds, checking for trouble at the front of the cabin. I close my eyes, listening to his footsteps as they follow the wrap-around porch to the side of the house.

I can barely hear him anymore when suddenly there’s a loud crack and then screaming as if someone were in agony. My heart stops. It’s time. He’s here.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Camaraderie and is part of something longer I am working on.

I Desperately Call for Help, But Is It Too Late?

Jeff listens intently to my story, the occasional grunt of acknowledgement the only indication he was still on the line. When I finish there’s complete silence, nothing but the hum of the static through the connection. I wait, not sure what to expect.

He speaks slowly, clearly weighing each word carefully. “Is this a hoax?” he asks. “Surely you don’t think he’s hunting you down, do you? That just seems….extreme.”

I don’t know how to convince him this is real. The fear that quivers in my voice is real. The quaking in my legs as I stand in the parking lot of a small convenience store is real. The rolling in my stomach as panic threatens to set in is real. There is nothing more real than this.

“Jeff, I wouldn’t be calling you if I didn’t need help. Please, I need you to find someone. Don’t you have a buddy who was into Black Ops?”

After some back and forth about why the police won’t step in, he finally relents. Jeff is a good guy. This situation is just a little hard for him to comprehend. He promises to get back to me soon and then hangs up.

Checking my watch I see that it’s now 12:36. I pray he doesn’t take too long.

Needing to wait somewhere with cell service, I head into the store. There’s a lunch counter toward the back on the right hand side so I head that direction. There are a total of 12 stools at the old fashioned diner-style counter, two of which are occupied by men who look like locals. I choose a seat as far from them as possible and grab a menu that’s propped between the napkin holder and the ketchup bottle.

The sticky laminate protects a one page list of questionable food options. When a sweaty, balding man with a stained apron protecting his round beer belly comes over I order a burger with fries and a Diet Coke. This seems like the safest alternative given the dubious culinary skills of the cook/waiter in this backwoods establishment.

I also ask for a pen and paper. In my heart I’m a writer and it occurs to me that I will feel better if I start journaling the thoughts that overrun my mind these days. As I begin to write on the page ripped from a spiral notebook, I become totally engrossed, losing myself in something other than worry for the first time in weeks.

Words flow from me effortlessly, my hand gliding over the sheet with the grace of a ballerina. I pour every ounce of my emotions out through my fingers. The feeling is cathartic and the tension in my shoulders begins to ease slightly.

When the phone rings I grab it, eager to see what Jeff has found out. Glancing at the caller ID from habit, I find that it’s an unknown number. It’s not Jeff after all. Pausing briefly I debate whether to answer it.

I know I need to. It could be Jeff’s friend calling me directly. I can’t risk not answering, yet somewhere deep inside I know who it is. And terror grips me once again.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Hoax and is part of something longer I am working on.