Web Site: A Writer's Journey
This is a first plce winner in a theme prompted contest. The theme is Halloween related and is a narrative on the musings of a woman who feels life has passed her by.
Lizabeth Cooper walked down the nine steps to the front door as the doorbell rang incessantly. Remington, her Golden Labrador retriever followed, barking in a raspy voice, evidence of his advanced age. She opened the front door and smiled at the group of children standing on her porch steps, decked out in Halloween costumes; the typical witches, devils, Disney characters and superheroes.
“Trick or treat!” they called out, holding bags opened for candy and treats.
“My, my, look at you. Most of you are so scary I almost closed the door. He’s not really a devil, is he?” she asked, pointing to a small boy struggling to keep his horns on his head.
“No,” the other kids shouted, shrieking and giggling over fooling me. “He won’t hurt you. It’s just a costume.”
“Oh, thank goodness. I was scared to death for a moment.”
There was more giggling as she handed out their treats and watched as they headed for her grumpy next door neighbor. Lizabeth wasn’t sure she could make yet another trip down the stairs. She put the large scowling pumpkin full of goodies on the steps so future ghosts and goblins could help themselves. Just turned sixty-six, her bones creaked, her muscles ached, and at sunset it was time for a freshly brewed cup of herbal tea and maybe a nap. Remington seemed to agree as he trudged up the steps behind her with his own aches and pains. He plopped down heavily on his worn plaid doggy bed and slept; passing on the tea.
Lizabeth leaned back into her soft leather recliner, sipped the aromatic warm tea and hoped to doze off for a while. Her mind held other ideas and for the first time in many years she let the contemplative thoughts, usually ignored, burst into her consciousness. Unfulfilled dreams, lost hopes, failures and the many things she’d meant to achieve piled up in her mind like a ‘bucket list’. The Golden Lab, snoozing at her feet, sighed loudly as if having similar thoughts in his own dreams. His feet jerked and twitched, possibly in remembrance of chasing rabbits through the farmer’s corn fields at the end of his back yard.
Where has my life gone? She asked herself. I have so much left to do, so many unreached goals and now my time is running out. I haven’t sky-dived or skied down the Colorado Mountains. Not that I wanted to, but I did want to have the choice. It’s not fair. I need more time. Lizabeth nodded off into a light sleep and dreamt of herself as a young woman embracing a full and exciting life.
She’d met her future husband in college while studying nursing. Daniel was preparing for a career as a physician. They fell in love after two dates and were married the year Lizabeth graduated with her nursing degree. She'd had plans of furthering her education by going into psychology, but like so many couples of her era, she supported her husband as he continued medical school and internship. Her dreams set aside, Daniel became a cardiologist at about the same time Lizabeth noticed the first signs of pregnancy. Over the next few years, they brought four children into the world, two boys and two girls, cherishing each of them. Daniel was eventually offered the position as head of the Cardiology Department for the hospital while Lizabeth raised the kids and continued to work part time. Her plans and dreams for her own life were forced aside, perhaps forever.
Years passed quickly as they are wont to do, and their children grew to adulthood; some married, others pursued careers and some managed both--signs of new and different times. Daniel's work schedule increased with his social responsibilities to the medical society. His wife was often included in this and while Lizabeth enjoyed her community and social obligations as well as friendship with other wives, something was missing from her own life. Something she'd long forgotten.
On a snowy day right after Christmas and a few days before their fortieth wedding anniversary, Daniel was stricken with a massive stroke. He lingered for two weeks before dying from its complications. Lizabeth was distraught. He had been her life for so many years and now she was alone for the first time since her youth. It was terrifying. Their children and grand children came to the funeral and mourned the loss of their father and grandfather. . . .then left to continue their own lives. Lizabeth was left behind to grieve, to face her great loss alone.
Remington tried to rouse her with his wet nose. He was hungry. She was not ready to awaken and face another evening with no one to talk to but herself and her faithful dog. Her past continued to swirl before her closed eyes, relentlessly exposing all the 'might have beens', as she noted the few obligatory calls or visits from the children she bore and the grand children she rarely saw. Friends, too, had died or moved away to different lives and she realized that the fault lay with her. She let them go, all of her loves, without making an attempt to keep them, entice them back into her life. "What have I left for me?" she mumbled to herself as sleep finally let her escape into wakefulness. "Nothing. I let it all slip away." She felt angry and cheated by her family and at herself for not demanding her own desires.
The phone on the table by the recliner rang, startling her.
"Hi Lizabeth, this is Samuel,"
"Samuel?" She rubbed her eyes in an effort to become fully awake and focused.
"C'mon Liz, I know we haven't spoken in a while but you can't have forgotten me entirely."A chuckle followed his words.
"Sam Logan, how are you? It's been forever since we spoke," Lizabeth said, fully alert now.
"About the same as you, Liz, I'd think. Rose died soon after Dan and I can't imagine it being easy on you. It sure hasn't been on me."
Lizabeth remembered when Sam's wife died. It was not an easy death and with Sam being a doctor it must have been even more frustrating being helpless to save his own wife.
"Listen, I won't keep you, but I was hoping you might want to attend the Thanksgiving fundraiser and dinner with me this year. I've passed these last three years but to tell the truth I'm sick of TV turkey dinners and my kids will be on a cruise this year."
"I haven't attended either, Sam. Let me think about it and get back to you. Is your cell phone number the same?"
"Sure is. I'll be waiting to hear from you. It's been nice talking to you again. Takes me back to better days."
After hanging up, Lizabeth felt an energy not produced by her enlightening nap. She began reassessing herself. She knew she was still a beautiful woman, kept slim by adhering to a frugal diet and exercise. Her hair was no longer a true blonde, but it was blonde. She wasn't oblivious to the men trolling for widows who tried to date her, not taking no for an answer until looking at the disgust in her amber- colored eyes--eyes that could slice a man to ribbons when angered. It didn't happen all that often, since she kept mostly to herself, but it was evident. She was both desired and desirable.
The door bell rang and rang as if someone was leaning on it. She finally rose to answer it--to silence the noise. Remington, having been fed, glanced up but chose not to accompany his mistress. His belly was too full, making him even more lethargic then usual. Lizabeth opened the door to a group of trick or treaters who looked vaguely familiar.
"Why didn't you just take the candy from the pumpkin?" she asked.
"Cuz it was empty," a little devil answered. "We thought you might have some more."
"Well I don't," Lizabeth answered, keeping back a smile. "I hope this doesn't mean you're going to be tricking me."
"We might have to," the little devil said. "It's the rules."
"Hmm, and isn't it also the rules not to go to the same house twice?"
"How can you know that?" piped up a rather snooty witch."
"Because I remember there was a devil who couldn't keep his horns on straight, just like this one."
The little devil had slipped behind the wide skirts of the witch, probably due to the sudden appearance of Remington, who'd changed his mind and come down to the door. The dog's hoarse 'woof' didn't relieve the imp's fear.
"I think you kids should go and trick my neighbor. I hear he loves that."
"Yeah!" they all yelled, running down the driveway, calling out 'trick or treat'."
The last words of the children reverberated in her mind. Yes, Lizabeth thought. It's just that simple. My dreams, through trickery, have been taken from me. No more. From this day forward, I' ll savor my treat. I think I'll give Sam a call tomorrow. She smiled as if discovering a great secret and her steps were light, aches fading as she resolved that day to reclaim her life
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|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|Years passed quickly as they are wont to do, and their children grew to adulthood; some married, others pursued careers and some managed both--signs of new and different times. This is so true, Micki. I love your story and the ending is very uplifting. Thanks for sharing. Love and best wishes,
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Nice story, Micki; well done! BRAVA!
(((HGUS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D
|Reviewed by Alan Busch
|fluff! hardly that at all. an insider's sensitive and finely detailed look into the corners of "aloneness", though i do wish she called sam back that same evening! :) nicely done micki.|