I am working on a short story that I plan to prepare for sell. Sort of like how musicians release a single in advance of their album. This short story will be my single. A major selling point for ebooks are the cover. That’s where you come in. I would appreciate any feedback on the effectiveness of this cover. Feel free to let me what you think. Thanks.
When Andre discovers that his girlfriend/finance is cheating on him, he does what anyone would do. He pretends it’s not true. But when reality forces him to make a decision, will he simply walk away? Or will he make her pay for her transgressions?
In place of a Story Soundtrack, today I have a short story that I wrote a couple of years ago. Feedback is always appreciated. Enjoy!
It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a simple procedure to erase a complex problem. Who needs to make a lifetime commitment when the suction of a machine can make things go back to the way they were before – before you had the wrong plus sign, at the wrong time, by the wrong man. There would always be another time, a better time.
That’s what I told myself. Now regret covers my body like the ultrasound gel that blankets my stomach. Maybe if I hadn’t done it then. Maybe if I had sung like Madonna and screamed, “I’m keeping my baby!” none of this would be happening now. I will not cry this time. I will not cry this time; I chant the refrain in my head.
“Laura,” says Mary as she enters the room. “Are you okay in here, hon?”
Mary has been Dr. Stewart’s nurse for years. I’ve been coming here since I was 21, right after I exercised my right to choose. It’s twelve years later. Doctor and nurse are still together while I seem to be falling apart.
I answer her with a nod. How can she still look the same when everything has changed? Whenever I see Mary I think the word wholesome. She’s a short, round woman with black frame glasses that do little to shield the twinkle in her eyes. Her sandy brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail and her uniform is neatly pressed. She always has on her signature orange and white running shoes. I asked her about it once and she explained, “Orange just makes me feel good.” I believe she wakes up happy. She is a glass half full type of person. Normally I find that much perkiness irritating but today I find myself trying to live in her world.
My world has fallen to pieces and nothing will be the same. I don’t feel the same. But I’m still lying here in the doctor’s office. The paper cover on the table crinkles when I turn my head to stare at the ceiling. Someone, a nurse perhaps, has installed a picture of a handsome actor over my head. During what I thought was a routine exam, I remember remarking that it must make women more inclined to spread them. We laughed then. That was before the sound of silence from the fetal heart monitor. That was before I was rushed into the ultrasound room and hooked up to see a 9-week-old fetus with no heartbeat.
I’ve done all the right things. I eat healthy and started taking a multi-vitamin with folic acid last year. I don’t smoke or drink. And Dr. Stewart says that at 5’8” I’m the perfect size to bear children. I even started attending an aerobic class three days a week to stay in shape. Now my perfectly prepared womb holds a child that I will never get to name.
“Is your husband coming?” Mary asks. I nod and she proceeds to tidy up the room. She continues to chatter as she works. I’m not really listening but I watch her every movement. She switches off the ultrasound machine and turns it away from the bed. The wand is sanitized and replaced in its holster. The antiseptic smell fills the room and suddenly I’m back in that clinic.
I remember feeling scared and ashamed but determined to go through with the procedure. I remember how sure I felt that I was doing the right thing.
I don’t realize that some tears have escaped until Mary hands me a tissue.
It’ll be okay, hon,” she says. “I had two miscarriages myself until I got my Steven. You have plenty of time to try again.”
“Yeah, I know.” My voice is a hoarse whisper. I clear my throat and struggle to sit up. No need to make a scene. Get it together, I tell myself.
Mary pats my arm, glances back at the door and leans close. “You know, sometimes this is for the best. It’s God way of correcting a mistake.”
“You don’t know what you are talking about!” I snatch my arm out of Mary’s hand and stand up. The cold tile seeps through my socks when they touch the floor and I feel lightheaded. I ignore the nauseous sensation and point my finger in Mary’s face.
“This baby was wanted. I fell in love with it from the moment the stick showed that plus sign. It’s time. It’s the right time. We’ve been trying for almost two years. This baby was wanted.”
I collapse back on the bed to catch my breath. To her credit, Mary never stopped smiling. I know she realizes that my anger wasn’t really directed at her. Her eyes tell me that she knows the real source of my pain. Before I can apologize the door opens and my husband walks in.
Everything will be all right now, I think. Kevin has always had that effect on me. We met through mutual friends. When we got engaged, I found out from a friend that Kevin didn’t have any money to take me out on our first date. He was late picking me up that night because he had to stop at the mall and sell some CDs and video games. Five years later and he still makes sacrifices, large and small, for our family.
Last night Kevin laid his head on my stomach and told the baby that he was waiting to see him. He spoke to his unborn child about all the things they would do together. Now his peanut colored face is a collage of emotions. His lips try to form a smile but falter midway through the attempt. I wonder if the baby would have had his father’s dimples.
“How’s my chocolate chip?” he asks.
“Better now.” We meet each other half way and embrace. I inhale his familiar musky scent and relax into his arms. I feel strength transferred to me. We’ll get through this, he communicates without saying a word.
Mary leaves to find the doctor and Kevin helps me dress before they return. Together we listen as Dr. Stewart explains the D & C procedure that I will need to have tomorrow. Kevin takes charge and I let him. He asks all the right questions and handles the paperwork.
We walk out together hand in hand. Kevin asks if I want him to drive me home. He’ll leave his car here and come back for it later.
“No, I’m okay to drive,” I say. I just want to get home.
Kevin walks me to my car but before he closes the door he stoops down.
“Laura, this miscarriage is not your punishment for having an abortion.”
“I know.” I turn away and put the key in the ignition.
Kevin caresses my face and turns it toward him. “This is not your punishment.”
I search his eyes and don’t see the judgment I envision, only love and concern and sadness. I smile and he kisses me on the forehead. “I’ll be right behind you.”
I start the car and pull out of the parking garage. Kevin follows in his car. Life has a way of showing you things. Years ago I gave my gift away. This time it was taken. The pain is the same. Maybe this is my retribution. But every time I look in the rearview mirror I see my husband. Every time I change lanes he is right behind me. Somehow I know that we’ll be all right because he is my greatest gift of all.
What’s Playing on the iPod right now: “Here and Now ” – Luther Vandross
What I am reading now: “The Good House” – Tananarive Due
Here is another one for you, “Same Script, Different Cast” by Whitney Houston featuring Deborah Cox. This song came up on my iPod playlist and I couldn’t get it out of my head. This was the jam back in the day. Unfortunately, there isn’t an official video but I found one that was put together on YouTube.
Monica Taylor sat in the dimly lit bar of the Atlanta restaurant and waited for her guest. Outwardly, she was the picture of a calm and confident woman. Every hair on her short sassy haircut was in place. Her makeup was flawless and highlighted her mocha complexion. She had spent hours picking out the perfect dress; a simple black wrap that hugged her ample curves which she accessorized with silver jewelry and strappy black high heel sandals. Inwardly, her stomach churned from the cigarette smoke and she wondered if she would have the nerve to carry out her mission for the night.
She checked the time on her watch and glanced around the room. If she had any doubts about her appearance, the appreciative looks from the male patrons caused her to sit up straighter and smile. When the offer of a drink came, she politely
declined. She had already purchased a glass of wine and could not afford to get distracted entertaining some man who
thought the price of a drink earned him something in return. She no longer had the patience to deal with men. Especially when the one man that she loved continued to take her for granted.
Monica shifted on the stool and took a sip of her drink. She had chosen the perfect perch so she saw the moment her guest entered the foyer. She looked exactly like her picture. Long flowing locks, skin the color of coffee with cream and the height of a model. Well, she didn’t look exactly like the picture Monica saw. The woman had on clothes tonight.
“LaKeisha Johnson.” Monica was by her side in an instance.
“Yes? And you are?”
Monica said her name and waited for the light of recognition to cross the woman’s face. When it came, LaKeisha clutched her purse and took a step back. “Where is Michael?”
“Michael isn’t coming. I thought we needed to talk. Our table is ready.” Monica turned to the maître‘d and indicated
that they were ready to be seated.
LaKeisha hesitated. “What is this about?”
“Please,” Monica said. “I will explain everything.”
They followed the hostess to the table that Monica had reserved. It was a secluded place setting for two located in an alcove that would afford them some privacy from the other diners. The irony of this place wasn’t lost on Monica. Michael had brought her here the night he asked her to move in with him. She thought it would lead to marriage. It seemed right that it should end here as well.
The waitress appeared as soon as they were seated. Monica requested another drink to replace the one she had abandoned at the bar. LaKeisha declined.
“Are you sure you don’t want a drink?” Monica asked.
“All I want is to know is what is going on here?” LaKeisha perched on the edge of her seat.
Monica shrugged. “Suit yourself then.” She dismissed the waitress and turned to focus on the woman across the table from her. She studied LaKeisha’s features looking for some flaw but found none. The woman was pretty in that girl next door kind of way. From the research that Monica did on her, she knew that LaKeisha was an accountant with one of the biggest firms in town. She was in her early thirties and didn’t have any children. Michael had a type and she definitely fit the mold. Just like Monica.
The waitress returned with Monica’s drink and she was grateful for something to do with her hands. Now that her replacement was sitting across from her, Monica didn’t know what to say. Her carefully planned speech had abandoned her. Then she realized that LaKeisha was studying her in the same way. She wondered how much the woman knew about her.
LaKeisha broke the silence. “Are you sure that Michael isn’t coming?”
“He isn’t coming.”
“But I got a text from him a couple of hours ago.” LaKeisha dug out her phone. “He said to meet him at 8 ‘o clock.”
Monica knew what the text said. She had composed it herself.
Catching an earlier flight. Boarding plane now. Can’t wait to see you. Meet me at Houston’s at 8. Wear that thing I like. M
Of course her ruse depended on three things. One, that LaKeisha would believe the text was from Michael. Monica knew the last line would sell it. Michael mainly communicated via text messages and that last line was one of his signature sayings. Two, LaKeisha had to believe that Michael couldn’t respond to a reply because he was on the plane. And lastly, Monica had to hope that even if LaKeisha sent a response that it would be generic enough that Michael wouldn’t actually respond for real and unknowingly spoil her plans.
“Michael is still in New York.” Monica stated with certainty. The GPS tracker she had installed on his phone confirmed his location in the 212 area code.
“What are you talking about? This text came from his number. Why would he send me a text saying he was coming back early from the conference.”
“That’s because Michael didn’t send that text. I did.” Monica took a cell phone out of her purse and laid it on the table
“Did you steal his cell phone?”
“I didn’t have too. I cloned it.”
LaKeisha sat back in the chair and her eyebrows furrowed. “Cloned it? How? “
The how wasn’t important. Working as a computer programmer, Monica had picked up some tricks over the years. But Monica was ashamed to admit that she let a man drive her to a crazy place. She had been living in Crazyville for the past few months. She couldn’t pinpoint the exact date that she knew she was losing Michael. It was a gradual sense of knowing that
someone you love is shifting away. Michael became distance and moody. The man she fell in love with was replaced by a stranger that began to treat her like an afterthought. He began to have a lot of reasons to leave the house. The man who loved to have sex most nights was suddenly content to get into bed and turn his back. Of course Michael wouldn’t talk about what was going on so Monica became a spy. She snooped and electronically stalked the man until she had the answers to the
questions that Michael wouldn’t answer. But she didn’t like what it turned her into. When Michael mentioned that he would be attending the medical conference in New York (the conference she joined him at last year) she knew it was time for a hange.
She moved her things out of their condo and closed their joint account. She was all set to begin her life without him but there was one more thing she had to do.
“I know he’s leaving me for you.”
LaKeisha’s mouth fell open in surprise. Monica coolly sipped her drink and waited for the woman to deny it.
“How do you know that? I mean, who told you?”
“So, it’s true.” It was more of a statement than a question.
“Yes.” LaKeisha tossed her hair over her shoulder. “He plans to tell you soon.”
“I was wondering what he is telling you. Could it be the same things that he told me?”
LaKeisha did the hair toss again and sat up straighter. If the woman sitting across from her thought she would be intimated then she was mistaken. “He told me that he loved me.”
“I’ve heard that.”
“He told me I was ………”
Monica held up a hand. “Let me guess. He told you that you were beautiful. That he never met a woman like you. That he feels trapped in his current relationship and is waiting for the right time to break the news. He told you that he wanted to be
totally honest with you. He said he wanted you to share his life.”
“How could you know all that? Did you tap his phone too?”
Monica ignored the slight. “I’ve been there. He told me those things too. I was once where you are now. I was the new woman in Michael’s life.”
“Well, if you couldn’t keep him then that’s your fault.”
Monica shook her head. Denial is always the first step toward healing. The truth was that Dr. Michael Anderson was
the type of man that women considered a good catch. He was a pediatric surgeon with a charming manner that put children and adults at ease. And the man looked good. When he smiled at you with those hazel eyes you were hypnotized. He was six feet tall with an athletic frame that wore clothes well. He was meticulously groomed from his low cut Caesar haircut and light beard to the manicured nails on his hands. Those hands. Monica would miss those “healing hands” along with his sculpted abs. She took another sip of her drink at the thought of those passion filled nights.
“Do you really believe that I couldn’t keep him? You and I aren’t so different. I’m not hating on you, girlfriend but I wish
the one before me would have warned me too.”
“The one before you? What are you talking about?”
“Do you know I’ve been with Michael for two years and he has already changed cars four times? The man has a restless spirit and commitment issues. Surely you’ve picked up on that.”
LaKeisha had but she wouldn’t admit that to this woman. “What you’re saying may be true? But how can I take advice from you?”
Monica nodded. She understood the position that LaKeisha was in. Being loved by Michael could blind you to the
The waitress returned to the table. “Are you ladies ready to order?”
“Yes.” Monica was suddenly famished. “I’ll have the thai steak and noodle salad.”
“Nothing for me.” LaKeisha said. She waited for the waitress to leave before she continued. “You know what? Michael has changed it now. I’ll prove you wrong. He loves me.”
“He’ll hurt you.”
“Just leave us alone.”
Monica waved her hand. “He’s all yours. Just remembered you’ve been warned. Enjoy it now but it won’t last.”
LaKeisha stood. “I’m out of here.”
“Be sure to tell Michael that I’ve moved out.” Monica watched LaKeisha walk away. She was probably calling Michael right
Monica leaned back in her chair. It was done. She was finished with that part of her life and she felt free. She picked up her glass and toasted the empty seat across from her. “Same script, different cast.”