Posts Tagged ‘Decision’

Driftwood (Short Story)

March 13, 2015

March 4th, 2016.
Stark City, Oregon.
7:33 a.m.

Last night, Lareyn fell asleep with her hand on my back. Lareyn, of course, is my wife. My beautiful, elegant, gracious wife. I say this as if I’m just now finding out how beautiful, elegant, and gracious she is; as if I’d somehow forgotten and have only begun to remember. Well, rest assured, I have always known. Since the first time I looked into the bewitching pools of her eyes, since I first heard her sultry voice, I have known. But I must now confess to at times being a rather dense man, easily distracted, which causes this knowledge to lose its way. Like lonesome driftwood upon a frothing sea. Simply put–and much to my discredit–my appreciation often wanes for my dear, tender wife. I can, at least, honestly say that I’ve never neglected Lareyn, nor have I ever treated her badly. It’s just that I don’t always express my admiration for her as much as she deserves.

In this respect, I suppose, I’m a typical husband.

But last night…that hand. Her hand. My wife’s warm, gentle, reassuring hand upon my back. The simplest of gestures, which nonetheless brought my regard for Lareyn back to the fore–not just of my brain, but of my very being. Do you know that mental contraction you feel when something or someone you see and experience every day suddenly seems brand new? Like a picture with a new frame, an orchestra with a new conductor? Well, that’s what I felt last night. That’s what I feel right now. That’s what compels me to write these words.

Once again, my view of Lareyn has sharpened, narrowed, and I feel the same way I did the night we first met. Only now my appreciation is tinged with nostalgia; a deep layer of warmth and intimacy which spans two decades.

What can I say?

The driftwood has returned to shore, and I love my wife.

I love Lareyn as she lays on our sofa in the den of our home, still asleep, curled up on her side. Her dark hair tangled around her soft cheeks. A slight smile on her lips as if she’s in the midst of some contented dream. Sunlight streams from the window above our sofa, giving her olive skin an angelic glow. During the night, Lareyn must’ve gotten up and slipped off the thin black skirt which now lies on the carpet. One bare leg has slid from beneath the blanket, revealing her shapely and manicured foot. If only she could see herself lying there through my eyes. Then, Lareyn would understand the true meaning of beauty.

Ah, if only…

Our get together last night was nothing special. Just a few friends who’d come over for dinner, drinks, and relaxation. Lareyn had wanted to cook, but I insisted on ordering takeout. Had a craving for Indian cuisine, and felt Lareyn deserved a night off. Our friends arrived in due time, and I opened a bottle of Pinot Noir to go with the curried feast. One of our guests brought homemade cheesecake, which topped everything off nicely.

After dessert, Lareyn and I cleared the coffee table and set up the Monopoly board. The game lasted well into the night, with Lareyn going bankrupt second. She didn’t seem to mind, though, and curled up beside me as I continued to roll the dice and renovate property. Around ten o’clock, two of our friends left, leaving a merry band of five. Shortly thereafter, Lareyn leant back, closed her bewitching eyes, and drifted off. Her hand, which she’d slipped under my shirt to massage my lower back, became still…but didn’t fall away. As if some part of her, though fast asleep, still craved to be in contact with her husband. Of course, I was in the midst of a financial battle with three of our friends, and couldn’t let on how touched I felt at that moment; how I relished the warmth of her soft, unmoving hand. It was with a heavy heart that I rose an hour later to hug two more friends goodbye, then sat back down to finish the game. It had come down to me and a bright young man named Mark, whom I work with.

The spot on my back where Lareyn’s hand had been tingled and felt naked, and I craved its return. But I soldiered through the rest of the game with the proverbial stiff upper lip.

Well, Mark finally won when I had the misfortune of landing on three of his highest priced properties in a row. But he was gracious in victory, and left quietly so as not to disturb Lareyn. For that, I was grateful, and returned from seeing Mark outside with a growing sense of desire for the beautiful creature lying before me. For a moment, I pondered waking Lareyn to make love, but decided against it. That would’ve been selfish. So I just sat there for a long while, admiring her in the bright moonlight. She lay so still, so calm, so comfortable. Her earrings sparkled. Her lips glistened.

Finally, I began to nod off myself.

Now, a decision had to be made. Though I longed for the warmth and solace of our bed, I also longed for the warmth and solace of my wife. To have the best of both worlds, I would’ve had to rouse Lareyn, thereby ruining her tranquility. That, I could not do. So I slipped upstairs, peeled our comforter from our bed, and returned to the den. Lareyn hadn’t moved, and looked more gorgeous than I could ever remember.

Outside, it was cold. Inside, it was perfect. I stripped to my boxers, left my socks on, and draped the comforter over us. I confess that the couch barely contained us, but I held Lareyn close to prevent her from slipping off. Her soft flesh melted in my arms. Our breathing fell into a steady rhythm, and her scent–not her perfume, mind you, but the smell that is specifically Lareyn–left me more intoxicated that the wine ever could.

And that’s how I fell asleep last night. With my wife, Lareyn, in my loving embrace. A satisfied grin on my face. Tears pricking my eyes from the memory of her hand upon my back. I did not dream, and it was the best sleep I’ve had in years.

When I woke, Lareyn was still in my arms; exactly where I wanted her. Reluctantly, I rose and stretched in the morning light. A slight chill pervaded our home, but it felt refreshing. I don’t work today, so I took my time brewing a pot of coffee and making ready everything I’ll need to cook. When Lareyn wakes, I’ll surprise her with a long kiss, a steaming cup, and the declaration that breakfast will be served shortly. If all goes to plan, we’ll spend most of our day on the sofa, laughing, loving, and dozing.

A perfect day.

But for now…

For now, I’m content to sit here. Just sit and write and gaze upon Lareyn. My beautiful, elegant, gracious wife. Lareyn, who is also my life. My love. My heartbeat. I’ll sit and watch over her until she awakens. ’Til then, there’s no place I’d rather be.

What can I say?

The driftwood has returned to shore, and I love my wife.

–March 12th, 2015


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Thank you for reading!

JLR

In Spite Of Her Will (Short Story Excerpt)

January 13, 2015

January 11th, 2016.
Stark City, Oregon.
8:49 a.m.

Nurse Vanna Meadows didn’t want to go into the room at the end of the hall, but she had no choice. She’d avoided it as long as she could, and now her job demanded it. Demanded that she complete her patient rounds. And her conscience demanded that she do everything in her power to help that poor old man.

Goddamnit…why didn’t he ask the doctor for help? Why did he have to ask me? I’m just a nurse…a lowly goddamn nurse who doesn’t want any part of this!

With a mournful sigh, Vanna left the nurses’ station and started down the hall. Toward the room. Toward the emaciated old man whom Vanna wished she’d never met.

Toward the biggest, momentous decision of her young life.

Even now, Nurse Meadows didn’t know what she’d do once she stepped inside. She knew she’d see her patient lying there, hooked up to the heart monitor and inching ever toward the end of his long life. Perhaps beseeching her again with his kind yet weary gaze. Perhaps reaching out to her in his innocent yet cruel way; gnarled hand extended like a beggar seeking alms. Except in this case, alms meant quite a bit more than money, or even food. It meant the ultimate sacrifice.

Maybe he’ll be sleeping this time, Vanna thought, scrubs rustling, shoes squeaking against the tile floor as she meandered along. Maybe I can put it off for awhile…

Though twenty-three–young by adult standards–and just seven months into her job, Nurse Meadows had never given her career choice a second thought. She’d gone through nursing school with an ease which had earned her the jealousy of her peers, and had set her sights on a position at Stark City’s most prominent hospital: Stark County Medical Center. Once hired at SCMC, she’d been placed on the sixth floor telemetry unit, and in the previous seven months she’d seen it all. Heart attack victims, stroke victims, crash victims, and every other form of rotten luck made manifest in the physical world. And none of it had bothered her. Not the blood, the sobbing of family members, or the endless echoes of grief in the sterile halls. Vanna prided herself on being just as, if not more, professional than the nurses twice her age.

But all of that changed the day they wheeled Hubert Cranleigh up to her floor and left the ancient man in her charge. That had been a week ago. Prior to this transfer, Hubert had languished in the intensive care unit following a massive heart attack. At age ninety-one, his recovery had been less than ideal. But the doctor and ICU nurses had done their jobs and gotten him stabilized. Hubert could open his eyes and talk for brief periods of time; even making sense every once in awhile. So things had been looking up for everyone involved–

Then tragedy struck.

One night, Hubert’s eighty-nine year old wife, Lois, had slipped and fallen in the rest home and broken much more than her hip. She’d been rushed to Stark County Medical just as Hubert had, but even emergency surgery hadn’t been able to save her. And the single worst moment of Vanna’s life had been when she’d stood by as the doctor informed Hubert that his wife had died. That, because of Hubert’s delicate condition, he couldn’t be moved–even by wheelchair–to Lois’s room. Which meant that poor old Hubert had already seen his beloved wife for the last time.

No book, no song, no poem could ever describe the utter heartbreak Vanna saw in Hubert’s eyes that ruinous day. Hubert didn’t just cry, he bled pure sorrow from every pore of his withered flesh. His bones rattled with every breath. His heart monitor jounced in time to the childlike blubbering which still rang in Nurse Meadows’ ears.

Damnit! Vanna thought, slowing her pace even more. Halfway down the hall now, the syringe in her pocket bounced against her leg. A heavy reminder of the heavy decision she’d almost made.

I don’t know if I can do this, Mr. Cranleigh. I really, really don’t…


If you enjoyed this excerpt, please subscribe, like, and share.

“In Spite of Her Will” was featured in The Borfski Press, Issue #2.

Buy The Borfski Press Issue #2 in both print and digital format here:

https://theborfskipress.com/2017/06/19/issue-ii-out-now/

Thank you for reading!

JLR


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