FICTIONAL SHORT STORIES TO INSPIRE THE SOUL...
Visit www.christinwebb.com for details about her first published novel, Enough Time.
Friday, March 23, 2012
“Girl, so there I was sitting at the table next to the dance floor and I look over at the door and low and behold it’s Shelia with the same shirt I was wearing!” Jacqueline said as she rolled her eyes and huffed and puffed. “I felt violated. Heck I’d even say embarrassed. You’d think buying from online catalogs would save you from something like that,” Jacqueline said to Patrice in a voice of disgust. They sat in the company cafeteria over breakfast before their work day started. It was a regular routine of theirs to have breakfast together. After working four years sitting next to each other in the Accounting office as clerks, the two of them found a unique bond. Shelia had just walked past them to enter the serving line. After she spoke to them both and they returned the greeting, Jacqueline quickly went in on her experience with “the shirt” at the company’s annual customer service dinner.
“Calm down. Don’t have a heart attack. Don’t even worry about it,” Patrice responded.
“Well, so you know, I burned it. I refuse to be seen in something another woman in this building has on. I must be original, ‘hun. Always,” Jacqueline replied. She snapped her fingers and threw her nose straight into the air like a jet heading north.
“You burned it, Jackie?!?!” Patrice asked in surprise.
“Yeah. Wouldn’t you? I mean the same exact shirt, Pat. Not just a plain old white tee or something of the like, but a designer shirt with gold and silver embroidered diamond studs on the shoulder. You get it?” Jacqueline threw her hands in the air as to question Patrice’s intelligence about fashion etiquette.
“Honestly, I don’t. I mean it’s just a shirt, Jackie. Unless there was some terminal illness soaking through the shirt, Jackie, I would’ve kept it,” Patrice replied. She started shaking her head and rubbing her forehead in confusion.
Looking Patrice’s attire up and down, Jacqueline replied, “Humph, figures.” Patrice was wearing black clog shoes with a long brown skirt and purple shirt. Just then, Gloria from Legal walked past them to enter the serving line. “What about Gloria?”
“Maybe I’m missing something. What about her?”
“It’s obvious she always wants attention. The way she’s always volunteering for something. If it’s not to facilitate a meeting, it’s to coordinate a program or event. Don’t you just hate when she does that? I mean, let someone else get the shine sometimes.”
“Do you ever volunteer for anything?”
Hesitant with her response, Jacqueline said, “They don’t ever ask me. If they asked I’d volunteer. I love helping out.” Patrice shook her head again. Patrice knew she could remember a few instances where management asked for volunteers to facilitate meetings and Jacqueline would rant and rave about how she was not going to get involved with anything; how she already had enough work to do.
“You ought to try asking if there’s something you can help out with. I’m sure management would appreciate it.”
“That’s just silly, Patrice. Who has time for that? Not me. If they want my help they need to ask. You may want to do that, not me,” Jacqueline began snickering at the idea Patrice threw out. They continued to eat their breakfast. Jacqueline took her time eating her sausage croissant. Patrice paced herself eating her eggs and bacon knowing they only had a few more minutes before their shift started.
“Hey Patrice. Hey Jacqueline,” Orlando said to them both as he walked past them to enter the serving line. “They got anything good this morning?” He was a jovial guy. Always upbeat and friendly.
“I think so,” Patrice answered and laughed.
“Take your chances, Orlando. I mean this sandwich is ok, but I could’ve cooked it better,” Jaqueline interjected.
He looked from side to side because he felt her response was a little peculiar. Everyone that ate breakfast in the cafeteria knew that Jacqueline frequently ate the sausage croissant. “Uh… ok, then. I’m going to make it up here and see if I can get lucky like Patrice. You two have a great day.” He walked away and headed to the front of the line.
“Now you haven’t complained all this time about your sandwich. Is it really bad?” Patrice quickly asked Jacqueline.
“It’s edible, but the meat could’ve been cooked a little longer. Doesn’t his friendliness irk you? I mean it’s cool to be nice and all, but dang, all the time? You don’t ever have a day when you just don’t want to say anything to anyone?”
“Jacqueline, we’ve been sitting here for about twenty minutes and I haven’t heard anything nice come out of your mouth. One person after the next, you're either just saying random negative stuff or going in on everyone that comes through the line. What’s up with that?”
Rolling her eyes, Jacqueline replied, “You’re overreacting or being sensitive. Which is it?”
“Neither. I’m finished eating. That’s what I am. Going to my desk and I plan to have a positive day, ma’am. Hopefully you can have a positive life,” Patrice responded. She stood up from the table, smiled and left out the cafeteria. Jacqueline just rolled her eyes again, crossed her arms, and continued to sit at the bottom of the barrel - alone.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
It didn’t matter what you asked or didn’t ask Lionel. Eight out of ten times, the response he gave you needed to be filtered. If you asked him where he was from, he’d tell you he was from his hometown of Moss Point, MS. - that’s if he trusted you. Keep in mind, I said he’s a liar and liars don’t trust other people - for obvious reasons. So, most of the times, he told you was from some city he wished he could travel to or had just read about in the latest vacation magazine. No one really knew how old he was or what he did for a living. What people did know was that his five foot eleven, athletic build was very charming and had a way with words. In some cases, he talked so quick and with wit you almost didn’t catch what he really said.
I first met Lionel one night following one of the town’s highly attended college football games. The tailgating had gone on for hours. Spirits were high. Fashions and their colorful owners were out to enjoy some of the festivities. As we stood in line in front of the one way in and out club, I noticed Lionel looking at me as he leaned against the E-class silver glassed window Benz. His well tailored gray pants and pin toe shoes, with his muscle v-neck tee matched perfectly. He had diamonds shining from his ears and a nice chain hanging around his neck. He winked at me and I smiled back. Not to seem too eager, I turned my head and kept on inside the club with Fiona.
Once we got passed security and the cashier, we headed straight for the ladies room. “Girl, did you see that dude squawking you down out there?” Fiona asked as she combed her hair for the fifth straight time since the club parking lot. I leaned on the wall next to the hand dryer waiting on her.
Laughing, I replied, “Yeah, I saw him, but you know how these club guys are. Full of it, ‘hun!”
Side-eyeing me, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Paige.”
“Yeah, sure I don’t. Like you do. What ever happened to Phil and Gilner?”
“Whatever, Paige,” she replied, rolling her eyes. Phil and Gilner were the last two guys she met in a club. Phil turned out to be married with two mistresses. Gilner ended up setting her up and having his boys break in her house. I’m telling you, I will not deal with someone I met in the club. “You don’t know who God got for you. You ‘gone miss your blessing.” She was so sure of herself. She pointed her finger in my face with her lip gloss as she said those words, but I knew better. I just smiled and gestured her towards the door.
The after party was jumping. The purple, green, and blue lights were beaming from the walls and off peoples’ bodies, the tables, everywhere in the club. The music was banging. You could see and hear the frats and sororities chanting and stepping around the dance floor. I was feeling the mood and the vibe of the club. It felt good. I felt like my pink mini skirt and pumps were fly with my black belt and purse. I pulled Fiona to the dance floor so we could let loose. We laughed as we two-stepped and shook what our mommas gave us. When a slow song came on we decided to head to the bar for some drinks. When we made it to the bar, I found myself standing next to Lionel. He was leaning up against the bar with his leg crossed like a scene with Billy D Williams in it. I was a little tickled by his assurance, maybe confidence, but he sure was entertaining me. Surprisingly, he had two chairs waiting for us.
He looked at me and smiled as pulled my chair out for me. “My name is Lionel,” he yelled. He then pulled out Fiona’s chair. Chivalrous. Rare, I thought.
As he sat in his chair, I yelled back, “My name is Paige!” We shook hands and smiled again.
“Nice to meet you, Paige. Would you and your friend like something to drink?”
“That’s nice, but…” I began before being shoved in my side by Fiona.
“We’ll take two vodkas and cranberries, Lionel. Hi, I’m Fiona,” she interrupted. She leaned over me to shake his hand. She gave me a look like, ‘Girl please, you betta’ get these drinks’. She was a trip. I obliged and so the bartender took our orders.
“So, you come here often?” Lionel asked me.
“Nah. I’m not really into the club scene. I’ve been here once or twice with my girl here. She really likes these spots.”
“Yeah, my boys asked me to drive ‘em over here. You know how some friends can be? Always need ‘ya,” he laughed as he blew on a ring that was supposed to be pricey I guess - bling they call it.
“Uh, yeah,” I answered slightly confused about the joke.
“You from around here? You don’t seem like the chicks I usually see around here.”
“Been living here all my life, Lionel.”
“Oh ok. Well, you did say you don’t get out much. So, you want to dance or something?”
“I’m a little tapped out right now, Lionel. I think Fiona wore me out, out there.” Besides his conversation becoming less entertaining than his persona by the minute, my feet were really feeling it from hitting that dance floor.
“That’s cool too. So, how about we catch up later after the club? Maybe we can meet up for breakfast,” he said leaning over in my ear ensuring I heard what he was asking.
“Uh, we’ll see, Lionel.”
“I mean ain’t no need to be worried, Paige. I got you. You saw me outside leaning on my car. I got too much to lose to be out here on some funny stuff. You get what I’m saying?”
“I hear ‘ya Lionel. I tell you what. I’m going to head to the ladies room with Fiona and I’ll catch up with you later, ok?” I responded quickly getting out of my seat and tugging Fiona to follow me to the ladies room. I considered that a close call to hell and needed to get up asap. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten those drinks.
We made it to the restroom safely with no hassles from Lionel. At least he wasn’t a pushy guy. When we came out he was nowhere to be found. We made a break for the dance floor for the rest of the night. I put my feet through hell, but the mood was still smooth for me. Between the dancing and the vodka and cranberry I had earlier, we were on the floor until about thirty minutes before the club closed. We decided we’d had enough for the night and was headed towards the car when we found Lionel standing next to the red Corvette my dad bought for my birthday. I stopped in my tracks a bit perturbed by his appearance, even more by him standing next to my car.
“Glad I didn’t miss you!” he yelled out as we started back walking towards the car. He had a big grin on his face as if I’d be happy to see him.
“What are you doing over here, Lionel?”
“Well I guess I ran into some bad luck. I lost my car keys in the club and found out that my car has been stolen. And can you believe my boys gone?” he said as if any of that sounded believable.
“You mean they just left you here without a ride,” Fiona asked like she believed him.
I shook my head. “So, what do you want?” I asked.
“Well, I’m staying at my aunts while I’m here in town and just need a lift over there. Can you help me out?”
“Why me? Where are your boys? Why not call them?” I answered rolling my eyes. I was disgusted at his poor attempt to convince me that any of it would be true.
“Like I said, Paige. They left me. It’s only about fifteen minutes from here. I promise,” he replied blowing on his fake ring again.
“I thought you said you were from around here?” I asked, trying to pull his lying card.
“I didn’t say that. I said I hadn’t seen you around here before. I visit my aunt quite a bit.”“Stop interrogating the man and just give him a ride, Paige. You tripping,” Fiona voluntarily interjected again. I wished she’d just shut up.
“Thanks, Fiona,” he said nodding his hand in appreciation for her support.
“Look,” I said rolling my eyes. “If you get in this car, I don’t want any mess. I mean it.” I couldn’t believe I was about to let a stranger in my car with my friend at two o’clock in the morning. How “America’s Most Wanted” was that?We all got in the car and started towards his aunt’s house. The entire time he talked about his condo in L.A., the celebrity friends he supposedly had, and his Porsche that he was getting re-painted. The night that had been super live turned out to be a super joke. When we finally made it to his “aunt’s” house, I found myself in a cove of run down houses across the street from a stream of what look like halfway houses. The cars outside the house we stopped at were mounted on three legs with concrete blocks for their wheels. The gray wired gates were unbound in spots and the driveways were cracked up with rocks for the kids to throw during the day. There were stray dogs and cats out rummaging through the garbage cans. I couldn’t believe this is where I was dropping Lionel off. He was at the club perpetrating and falsifying the truth, trying to get me caught up. This was the exact reason I never talked to anyone in the club. You never know what you’re going to get. Maybe it’s just my luck, but I think my rule is about as truthful as its going to get for me. I dropped Lying Lionel off at his “aunt’s” house and I hope I never see him winking at me again.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I remember our first walk around the block. The first time we sat outside the house for hours; talking before actually going inside. We weren’t even ten years old. I remember our first date leaving us looking forward to each time we had the next. In our early twenties, we set goals together and dusted off and shined up one another when we failed or succeeded. Our children were raised and have brought us the joys from extensions of our family tree. Even in our sicknesses and maturity, the same scale of love existed from that first walk around the block. He’s felt my heartbeat. He’s been near my soul and I near his. I became the photograph for his love. He became my intention; my heart.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Maybe I should’ve just called Justin to tell him I was leaving him. I was trying to do the respectful thing and let him know face to face; so much for trying to take the mature route. I’m in my red coupe tryin to get away from him, but he ain’t letting up. We’re headed West on 240; going eighty in a fifty-five zone. He must want me dead or something. I’m convinced. I see the exit to the nearest police station coming up. I’ve got about three cars to the right of me that I’ve got to dodge to get off. He’s on my tail tough.
Once upon a time…
Justin and I met three years ago in Miami. I was on an all girls trip with a few co-workers and my sisters. Everything was going good. We met there, found out we both lived in Georgia and exchanged numbers. He stayed about three hours away and came to see me every other weekend. He was attentive. I never had to forget about him because he made himself present in my life. There were some rough times too, but I really feel like they never outweighed the good. By the second year of our relationship, Justin became very controlling and possessive. He no longer wanted me out with my girls; thinking I would be home most of the time, doing nothing. I was never the stay-at-home type; even when he met me I was always on the go. Yet he’d be out with the boys. Or he didn’t want me wearing short skirts. What else does he want me to wear when I go out? I’m only twenty-eight. He stay tripping. I don’t get it. It was like he was trying to change me.
Eventually, I just got tired of being subjected to his insecurity of being with me. I decided I was too young to be attached to someone who didn’t seem to want to let me grow in my own way. And I deserve that at the least. Three days ago I called him and told him I wanted to talk and to meet me at his house around eight thirty that night. He agreed. I was already there when he pulled up. I’d made it there about an hour before he did so I could remove my things from his place before he got there.
Closing the door to his hunter green mustang, he walked over to me as I leaned against my car with a note. “How you doing baby?” he began reaching out to me for a hug and kiss.
Rejecting his efforts, I stepped back, “ I don’t want this to take long, Justin, so, let me say it.”
Looking beyond my shoulders becoming confused by my distance, Justin said, “What are you doing, Kindle? What’s all that stuff in your car?” He began rubbing his head in disgust. His face muscled together like he was about to burst open.
“Before you get all riled up, Justin,” trying to keep him calm. “I wanted to tell you face to face that I’m done with this. It’s been too long of a ride for me to feel how I do. I don’t ever know what to expect from you. I feel like I’m in the same place I was as a person three years ago when I met you. And that’s not cool. Not cool at all. I’m supposed to feel like I’ve grown as a person. I’m supposed to feel like I’ve grown with you; within what we’re supposed to be doing together.”
Reaching out for my hand in an attempt to comfort me, he said,“And I guess you’re telling me you don’t feel like that, huh?”
“Honestly, Justin. I am. I want to keep in touch, but I can’t move forward with you like this. I just can’t,” I responded as I opened my car door, got in and drove off. He just stood in the same spot. I guess in disbelief. I felt bad, but I felt it was the right decision.
I still feel like I made the right decision. When I left the grocery store this morning, Justin was outside waiting on me in his car. I did get nervous because he was the last person I thought to see. I ignored him, loaded my groceries, got in my car and pulled off. I wasn’t thinking I was about to play a game of automobile Russian roulette. So… here is Justin ringing my phone off the hook chasing me in his car like a mad man. I don’t know what I could have done to get him to respond like this. I thought he was a different type man; not the kind that couldn’t stand rejection to this extreme. He's on my bumper like he really wants me dead. I think I can make it past these cars and off this exit. Maybe even lose him.
I’m getting off the ramp, but I can’t lose Justin. He’s still very close. He ought to know where I’m headed. He knows I’m not stupid. I got about two minutes to get to the police station. It’s only a few blocks down the way headed north on Bingham. I see a few people are out on the streets early this morning, but it’s not stopping Justin at all. I wish I could think back to what I did or said for him to act like this. Was it me getting my stuff from his house? Was it the fact that I left without much conversation for him. He’s just being really stupid right now. I’m finally pulling into the police station, hoping I’ve lost Justin. I’m opening my door when he pulls right up beside my car, looks at me straight in the eye and pulls out a gun. Next thing I hear is a gun go off. I’m closing my eyes, hoping it’s not me.e wH