Breaktime

gray catWhen she returned to her room from the bathroom, Claire left her door open just a hair, barely enough for her cat, Caroline, to nudge it the rest of the way open. Caroline moseyed in and made her way to Claire at her desk, where she rubbed her side against Claire’s leg until she reached down to pick her up and nuzzle her face into Caroline’s soft gray fur.

“You’re right, sweetie, it’s time for a break,” Claire said. She softly closed her laptop and scooted her chair back, hugging the cat closer as she stood. Once on the stairs, Caroline struggled for freedom, so Claire let her leap to the landing and continued down on her own.

Her sister Melissa was in the kitchen, mixing something foul in the blender. “Mom needs more sugar if you’re going to the store today,” she announced.

“I’ll go to the store if you stop with the stupid smoothie diet,” answered Claire.

Melissa shrugged. “I’ve lost three pounds this month AND my hair has never been healthier. Pick me up some bananas and kale?”

Claire shook her head and trudged to the fridge, where she perused for long enough to let her stomach growl Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. She finally selected the last slice of leftover pizza and decided against microwaving it. Caroline trotted in to see if Claire was eating anything good, but since she was not a fan of veggie pizza, she continued on to her food bowl.

Wiping the crumbs from her hands, Claire grabbed her purse from the kitchen counter and checked her front pocket for her phone. She slid into a pair of flip flops by the front door and snagged her keys from the hook and was out the door before she could talk herself into giving Melissa a piece of her mind.

“Kale, bananas, sugar,” she muttered to herself as she started her car. She wondered if she herself needed anything, but came up with nothing. Claire shrugged. At least the grocery store was only a few blocks away, and she could browse until she figured out what she was cooking for dinner. Tonight was her night to cook for the three of them.

***

Well, I guess it’s about time to get back into this. OLWG #68 You wanna know something even weirder? Today is exactly one year since I participated. Spooky.

 


Happy Trails

“Let’s go to the thrift store,” Tracy suggested, a twinkle in her eye.

Adam nodded. “That sounds like a good idea.”

Socked and shoed and smartphones in hand, Adam locked their apartment door behind them as they set out on their daily adventure.

“What goodies do you think we’ll find?” Tracy asked. “We haven’t been in weeks. I hope they have some books I’d like, and maybe a pair of shoes for you.”

Adam nodded. “Don’t spend our pennies just yet, hon. My shoes are still perfectly good.”

They joined hands and moseyed down the block. The thrift store was just around the corner, three streets down. Tracy dodged a freshly spit chunk of gum, and Adam had a near miss with a wad of chewing tobacco, but they made it to their destination unscathed.

But dismayed.

“Out of business?” they exclaimed in unison, reading the sign taped to the door.

“That’s so sad,” said Tracy. “I loved this place. We both did!”

“I know,” Adam agreed. “But it happens. Let’s keep walking and see where we end up. Maybe grab a bite to eat or something. We’ll find another store.”

They walked together another two blocks, and Tracy was still shaking her head at the store going out of business.

“Look!” Adam pointed across the street.

Tracy immediately brightened. It wasn’t the same store, but she could see the same old lady behind the cash register. They looked both ways and crossed to admire Adam’s discovery.

He pushed the door, and the bell tinkled brightly to announce their entry.

“Mrs. Watson, I’m so glad to see you!” Tracy greeted the older woman warmly. “What happened?”

Mrs. Watson shook her head sadly. “It just wasn’t paying the bills, honey,” she answered. “I was at least able to sell most of my inventory and move in with my son, and then I saw this store was looking for help. I offered them a good deal on what I had left, and they hired me on to keep the shop during the day.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear it worked out, for the most part,” offered Adam.

“Thank you, honey,” Mrs. Watson answered. “You two have a look around. There’s lots that I’ve never seen before here. And you know I’ve seen a lot!” She chuckled.

The pair began to peruse the ancient bookshelves lining the walls of the store, Adam checking out the knick knacks and mismatched china sets while Tracy lovingly ran her fingers along the spines of the books lined up on display.

014

Suddenly Tracy paused with a gasp. Slowly she reached up and pulled one volume off the shelf right in front of her eyes. She stared down at it for a moment, simply feeling the realness of the cover. Adam glanced over and saw that she had something in her hands, so he joined her.

“What did you find?” he asked.

“It’s–it’s my favorite book. I don’t even remember how many times I read this when I was a kid. I haven’t seen it anywhere in years, and it’s been out of print forever. My grandmother gave it to me, and–” Tracy’s jaw dropped. She had opened the cover and frozen.

Adam watched her closely. “Well, what is it?”

A smile spread across Tracy’s ace as she turned the book so he could see. “It’s my book.”

And sure enough, Adam read the inscription, written in a spidery, faint hand: To my favorite granddaughter Tracy, on her fifth birthday. I love you, Grandma. He wiped away Tracy’s tear with his thumb and led her to Mrs. Watson’s cash register.

“I can’t take money for your own things, honey,” said Mrs. Watson.

As Tracy was still speechless, Adam thanked her and then guided his girlfriend home. She never loosened her grip on the book, or lessened her smile.