Follow the Music

The music floated softly over her, mingling with the sounds of the water, as she floated in the pool.  The sun was just past its highest point and was creating a moving light show around her.  She felt the heat on her skin and soaked it up like a milkshake through a straw.  This was her time to just be and she was reveling it it as much as possible.  It took her a while of hearing the music before she really heard it.  Once she did, she was curious.  Where was it coming from?  She knew it wasn’t anything she owned, and she knew she was home alone.  Her curiosity won and she did a little flip in the water before swimming over to the side of the pool.  She gave herself one last dunk before climbing out and reaching for her towel.  A smile crept across her face before she got the nerve to pad over to the fence that separated her house from her neighbor’s.

Holding the towel around herself she pushed herself up to be able to see over the fence and into her neighbors’ backyard.  As soon as her eyes cleared the barrier, she knew she’d found the source of the music.

He was swaying slightly, in perfect time with the music, with his back to her.  Despite the heat, he was wrapped in what looked to be a ladies’ shawl.  It was heavily embroidered with big flowers of different shapes and colors, so many that it looked like a practice piece for someone learning the craft.  The longer she looked at him the more details she noticed.  His long, disheveled hair, the hunch of his shoulders, the empty rocks glass on the table next to him.  She also found the direct source of the music – an old transistor radio sat propped up against the half-empty bourbon bottle.

They hadn’t met yet and introducing herself to her reclusive neighbor in nothing but a bath towel didn’t sound like the best way to make an impression. She watched him for a few more minutes and then headed home to change clothes into something more professional.  The event tonight was going to be a challenging one and she needed to focus.  This neighbor would need to wait, no matter how compelling he – and his music – was.




* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *


“Lost.  I am completely and totally lost.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t have anyone to call – hell, I don’t have any way to call even if there was someone, which there isn’t.  I am all alone.  Fuck.” She paced back and forth as she muttered to herself, not caring or noticing how she was being received by those around her.  She didn’t know anyone here, so the opinions of those of low-intelligence didn’t trigger her awareness.  All she was focused on was solving the puzzle of how to get back to her home, in her when, as soon as possible.

She stopped and took stock of her surroundings, focusing on the things more than the people.  Even the structures in this when were primitive.  She had a hard time even imagining that there could be something helpful or useful now. The height of the structures was overwhelmingly unnecessary.  It was clear that they were erected before Knowledge had been harnessed. The waste was offensive to her eye.  She had always thought the history texts were exaggerating for the impact of it all and had been surprised at how realistic those old images had been.

In her now, the most important structures were always the closest to the ground so as to absorb the energy provided by Mother Earth.  In this now, it appeared that height was linked to power, no matter how ridiculous that notion might have been.  If height = power, she needed to find her way to the tallest building if she was going to have any hope of returning to her when.

The pause had helped, and she had identified the highest of all the structures surrounding her.

She grabbed the backpack and, at the same time, opened the door.  The smell hit her first. “UGH!” escaped her lips before anything could happen with the backpack.  These people in this when – they liked their aromas.  She managed her reaction well enough.  Well enough for the job she’d come to do.



* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *

Elephant Vacation

She looked at the open suitcase, at its orderly contents, and felt her shoulders move away from her ears.  This was the last piece of the puzzle that had taken up all together too much of her time and brain space over the past 6 months.  This one suitcase was all she would need, at least for a while, and seeing it all packed and ready to go  – her shoulders dropped, her breathing slowed, and she felt a taste of what was in store for her.  It wasn’t going to be easy.  Necessary?  Yes. Easy? Not a bit.  The challenges ahead of her were nothing compared to what she’d lived through, and she felt ready.  Everything felt in order, and order brought her peace.

The knock on the door startled her, and her shoulders flew back up to her ears before she could even get the, “come in” out of her throat.  She felt the trembling start as she watched the handle turn and the door slowly swing open.  She tried to get her breathing under control, to get her shoulders to retreat, to get her system to still – none of that worked.  She was a trembling mess of tension who could barely make eye contact by the time the door opened all the way.

“Oh, honey. Jill – it’s just me.  I just wanted to check on you.  Are you all packed?  Our ride will be here soon and I know you need time to be ready.” Her mother’s face was full of concern as she lingered in the doorway, not wanting to come in too far for fear of further upsetting her daughter.

Jill found her mother’s eyes and locked in on them, feeling herself settle a bit.  She nodded her head, not fully trusting the right words to come out if she tried to speak, and moved her hand on top of her suitcase.

“Good.  Good.  I’m going back downstairs to wait – we’ll leave as soon as you come down, whenever you come down.  No rush, I promise.  We’ll take it on your timetable as best we can.  Bring your suitcase with you when you come down, ok?  You carry it and I’ll hold the doors so we both have jobs.” With one last blink that clearly said “I love you,” her mother backed out of the room and closed the door behind her.

Shoulders down, deep breath in and out, and Jill was calm again.  People, even people she loved, were so stressful.  She’d get help while she was away.  They’d help her manage the stress and get back to a point where she could interact with others without all the side effects.  She’d be able to hug her mom and her sisters.  Maybe this time it would last longer – maybe even be a permanent fix.  She’d been mostly ok for almost a year this time, so anything seemed possible.

She had enjoyed the time at home.  It felt good to be almost-normal and to do things that “regular” people did.  She’d even made some friends who had no idea about her condition. She’d talked on the phone until late hours of the night, had had a slumber party for her birthday, and had almost – almost! – kissed a boy.  She saw her parents relax around her for real.  They did an amazing job of interacting with her as if her condition weren’t there while still working within the constraints of it most of the time.  Even so, it was like the elephant in the room and she knew it.  This time, though, the elephant had taken a vacation and the extra room it opened up was so wonderful to feel.

The good feelings made the return of her symptoms that much harder to accept.  She felt it from the inside, and she could see the changes on the outside.  Her parents had to bring back their old work-arounds.  Her sisters had to pull away.  She had to give up her dreams of kissing Michael.  She had to come up with excuses for why she was suddenly unavailable to spend time with her friends.  All the “normal” retreated into the distance as her symptoms crowded their way into the room again, bringing the elephant along for the ride.  Her parents did their best to reassure her.  They focused on how well she’d done for the longest time since the symptoms first presented themselves, holding that up as proof that things were getting better.

She wanted them to be right.  She wanted this to be the last time she had to go away for treatment.  She wanted to come home for good next time.

She stood up, took a deep breath, and closed her suitcase.  She knew what awaited her – from the loving parents at the bottom of the stairwell to the black limo with the heavily tinted glass so she could pretend there wasn’t anyone present on the ride to the treatment center, to the kind doctors who would help her find a place of calm.



* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *


“You don’t know the one about the Peruvian boy who had his finger stuck in the hole of the dam?”

She blinked, coming back into the room around her.  The date wasn’t over, she was still sitting there in her uncomfortable first-impression outfit.  The daydream she’d been on was much better than this real-life moment.  She had to see it through – she was hungry. “No, it’s not ringing any bells for me.”

That appeared to be the right answer.  He launched off on what she could tell from the front end would be a long story.  Long enough for her to return to the daydream.  She shifted a bit in her chair, adjusting the skirt to maintain her modesty, and tilted her head to give the appearance of attention.  Her mind wandered back to the happy place she’d been in on and off this entire date.  The cozy room with the fireplace and all the books and the beautiful brunette.  She knew she was still in the restaurant with the overly chatty date.  In her daydream, the brunette was reading to her from one of the heavy books, pausing for gravitas at all the right moments, while the fire crackled away in the background.  When her date came to the end of the story with what was clearly a punch line she shifted again and gave him a bright smile as she shook her head and said, “oh, Brian.  I didn’t see that coming at all”, and held her breath, hoping that was a reasonable response.

He slapped the table, beyond proud of himself, and said, “That’s what they all say!  I love that one!”, just a little too loudly.  The other diners displayed varying levels of annoyance with him, all of which went right over his head.

“So, tell me more about you?  I’ve been talking too much!”

She hid her sigh as she sat up straighter.  The daydreaming portion of the evening was over, clearly, and she needed to sing for her supper.

“Me?  I don’t know where to start.  I’m better at answering questions than at volunteering things.  What do you want to know?” She always deferred to them, let them drive.  They all had different reasons for going on dates, and different “dream girls”.  She wanted to keep them interested in her for a bit, just for a few dates, and gather enough information about them to know how to extricate herself when they seemed to be getting too attached.  She could be whoever they needed once they told her who that was for them at the moment.

“You want to answer questions?  Ok – where did you grow up and how many kids are in your family?” He asked as if these were questions that might stump her.

“Ah, the basics?  I’m mostly from Santa Fe though we moved around a lot thanks to my dad’s job.  And I’m the baby – I have 2 older siblings.  What else would you like to know?

He sat back in his chair, stroking his chin as if he were a film noir detective. She was pretty sure she knew what was coming next.  Some guys couldn’t help but ask about sex, either directly or indirectly, when given carte blanch with being the asker.  He seemed to be just about as hungry as she was, though not for food.  He started to ask his next question when the waiter came over with their salads.  She smiled behind her napkin at the crystal clear frustration in his eyes at this interruption. He only held it in for a few bites of the salad before he asked, “How old were you the first time you had sex?”

She put her fork down slowly and gave him a slow, appraising look.  He had the decency to break out into a beaded sweat on his brow while he returned her gaze, not dropping eye contact.  It was so clear what he wanted the answer to be, and giving him what he wanted would also secure her at least 2 more dates, likely many more.  She took a deep breath and then served up his heart’s desire in one sentence, “I haven’t yet.  I’m a virgin.”

The sweat on his brow seemed to double, and his eyes were incredibly bright suddenly. “Virgin, huh?  That’s cool.  I respect that.”

She could barely contain her contempt a that one.  “Respect?”


* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *


You didn’t mean it.  Or rather, you didn’t realize what you were doing was wrong.  You weren’t the first and you weren’t the last.  You were just one more notch in the belt that tightened around her neck.  You and your thoughtless actions.  You knew they were wrong, deep down, at the core of your being.  You knew.  That didn’t stop you, though.  You were perfectly happy to go the way of the status quo.  You saw others doing the same, treating her with disrespect.  You thought if they could do it, it must just be what’s done.

And here you sit, feeling remorse a day late and a dollar short.  You know, though, that it is your background, your privilege, that makes it so you don’t really have to change.  You can play at it, and make grand gestures and get pats on the back for how progressive you are.  How thoughtful of women.  How generous.

You have changed, a little. You let them finish their sentences.  You keep those jokes to yourself.  You listen when they tell you their thoughts.  Ok…you mostly listen.  You make eye contact instead of staring at their cleavage.  You are trying.

It’s not enough, and you know it.  All that learning and exposure before you knew it are hard to make sense of.  All those friends you made before you learned are hard to be around now. They’re further back from where you are.  They’re not as “woke”. You can see the difference and it makes you both reassured and depressed.  You’ve come a long way, baby.

You straighten your tie before heading to the closed door.  You know she’s behind there. You know she’s waiting for you.  You know that you need to apologize, and you know she’s not likely to accept.  You miss her, and you want this to work.

You knock on the door very lightly, almost as if you hope she doesn’t year you.  You want the fact that you’re knocking, the fact that you’ve come to her on your own.  You want a gold star.


* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *


“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD – STOP!” The words escaped her mouth before she’d realized it, and they erupted into the room much louder than she’d intended.  The circular logic had gone on too long, and there was no end in sight.  The two men were in it to win it, and they seemed to be getting off on the back and forth.  The looks they each gave her spoke volumes even though her outburst seemed to have robbed them both of the power of speech.  She stood up from her seat and walked away, not giving them the chance to recover.

The rest of the people in the room had stopped talking, too, though they found ways to pick up their conversation threads more quickly than the arguers.  As she walked through the rooms full of party-goers she noticed smiles and small nods directed her way.  Mostly from the women, though there were a handful of men who silently indicated their pleasure at her choices.  It was clear that, while other conversations were happening at the same time, there was a global awareness of the incessant arguing.

She reached the drink table and put both hands on the edge of it, surveying her options.

“The decent gin is in the back left corner.”

She turned towards the voice and felt her breath catch in her chest.  “You-“

“Do you still take it on the rocks?  With lime?”

She nodded, taking her turn at being speechless, while she stared at her bartender.  It had been almost a year to the day since last she’d seen Ellen.  The flush that creeped up her face made it clear that she hadn’t gotten over everything, while Ellen looked cool and collected, as if serving her ex-girlfriend a cocktail a year after leaving her in the middle of a deserted mall was normal.

“Thanks,” she said, taking the offered drink into both hands.  “Um…what are you doing here?”

Ellen smiled as she wiped her hands on her jeans. “Saving you from yourself, it looks like.  Before that I was getting to know the faculty while recovering from an interview.”

“You’re interviewing here?  For a job at this university?” She could feel her hand wanting to shake as she took a long sip of gin.

Ellen put both hands into her back pockets before answering, “Yes, this university.  And I was interviewing.  They’ve made an offer already, so that part appears to have gone just fine.”

“UNBELIEVEABLE!” It, again, came out louder than she’d expected.  This was too much for one day – one party.  She took another big sip of her drink before she turned and walked away.  She’d only taken a few steps when Frank, one of the arguers, appeared in front of her.

“Rhonda, I think you must have mis-“

She didn’t wait for him to finish.  Instead, she made a sharp turn to her right and headed straight for the door.  Outside was what she needed right now – the fresh air, the lack of people, and the peace and quiet that comes only from drinking outdoors.  She walked to the side of the house and plopped down on a picnic table, putting her feet on the bench.  She rested her elbows on her knees and took measured sips from her cup.

Ellen walked slowly towards her, clearly ready to stop if the yelling started again.

“Hey…I need to talk to you.  I want to talk to you.”

She shook her head and looked off the other way. “Of course you do.  Of course.”

Stopping about 10 feet away, Ellen put both hands back into her back pockets. “I shouldn’t have left the way I did.  I get that – I get that now.”  Ellen paused, waiting for eye contact that didn’t come. “Right.  Ok.  I totally deserve this.  I left because I needed time and space to process –“

“YOU needed time and space to process?  YOU?  Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?”

Ellen pulled her hands out of her pockets and held them up in front of her. “I know.  You had more to deal with, and I chickened out.  I ran away instead of being here for you- with you – while you worked through things.  I get that now, and I didn’t before.  I really felt like I needed the space.  I get that I was wrong.”

“So now you’re back, and don’t need space anymore?  And you went ahead and got yourself a job here, at MY university, before even thinking about reaching out?  And you thought, ‘Hey, I know what will be best – I’ll show up at a party and pour her a drink and she’ll forget my little mistake and fall right into my arms again, and we can pick up right where we left off before I RAN THE FUCK AWAY AT HER MUST VULNERABLE MOMENT.’ Well, guess what?  THAT’S NOT HOW THIS IS GOING TO PLAY OUT!”


* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *

On or Off

Old memories are…tricky.  They sit there, quietly, taking up barely any space at all until they do.  They have to stay small, I suppose, so as to make room for all the new ones you create every day.  How many memories are there, floating around in the average brain?  They’re all in there, packed away, not really doing anything beyond not leaving space for where you put your keys, until something wakes them up.  Then?  Damn – then they expand, hard and fast.  They take up all the space you have in your head.  They push all that stuff you thought was important right out of the way.  The task you were in the middle of, the birthday present you meant to buy, the grocery list – all gone.  The only thing you can think about is the memory.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a good memory or a bad one, either.  Whatever memory is the one that’s triggered gets to take the main stage.  Lights, camera, past-horror-of-that-ex-boyfriend-you-shouldn’t-have-started-dating-in-the-first-place action! You can change the speed with which it replays.  You can adjust the volume.  Sometimes you can adjust the camera angle.  There’s no skipping it, though.  It pauses itself whenever something really immediate comes up.  You need to take a work call from someone important, for example.  The memory will pause just long enough for you to talk through the topic as long as nothing IN the conversation triggers it again.  The minute you hang up the phone it’s back.  Oh, and sometimes related memories come along for the ride, just to make things interesting.  You might not even have known they were related – have no fear, you brain knows.  It has master powerful cross-referencing skills in there.  If that ex-boyfriend bought you a dress that was the color blue, and you also once were brought to tears by a blue lollypop falling on the floor, your brain will kindly bring the second memory along with the first.  Or, better yet, if you have a memory of a friend being suddenly unavailable one weekend, the same weekend your then boyfriend got called out of town, your brain will helpfully put those puzzle pieces together to help you realize that the two of them were having an affair behind your back.  Thanks, brain.  Thanks a lot.  Now, not all memories are bad.  The good ones can get extra attention some days, too.  When you’re sitting at a wedding and start reminiscing in your head about the day you got married, that’s pretty nice.  You can even sometimes push the less-awesome memories back into storage by calling up the good ones.  That’s a high-level skill, though, and not everyone is fully equipped to make that switch happen.  We keep all these memories, the good and the bad, and hold onto them for as long as we can.  We often don’t even realize we’re doing it.  They’re just there, sitting in storage until we want them.

Until they’re not.  I took my memory and its storage for granted for a long, long time.  I remember (ha – see what I did there) sitting with friends digging deep to see how far back we could remember real things that had happened to us in our childhoods.  Just for fun, because we could and because there wasn’t really anything else to do in the tiny little town where we grew up.  Now?  I would give just about anything to go back to those days.  Back when I could take my memory, and the memories of the people I care about, for granted.  Back when remembering the name of that obscure television show that featured a plane and a resort was something that we could guarantee someone in the room would be able to do.  I know now that remembering isn’t a given.  I know what it looks like to not be able to access that brain storage.

It’s my job to take care of them.  To help them navigate their day to day life. I take it seriously. There’s only so much I can do for them, and that’s hard.  They need to be reminded of everything – big things like who they are and why they’re here, and little things like zipping their zipper after they go to the bathroom.  Their storage compartments empty out so quickly.  No, that’s not right.  Their storage is full, or full enough, they just don’t have the tools they need to find the files on their own.  And their brains are just as cruel as mine and yours.  They get big downloads stuck on replay, whether they want to watch or not.  They get fixated on their past transgressions and those they witnessed far more often than they get those pleasant memories of young love.  I have to believe they have all of the same kinds of memories tucked into storage in there.  I think the negative stuff is just bigger, or bumpier, or filed higher up in the alphabet.  They lived their lives in a normal way for their first 40 years, right?  So, there must be a combination of good and bad in there, somewhere.  If only they could grab it and set it on repeat.

We don’t know why some of them switch off this way at 40.  Or, at least, I don’t know why.  No one is saying what the cause is, anyway.  Since we don’t know the cause it’s extra hard to practice prevention.  I have my theories, though. I work hard on my memory every day, and I force my kids and husband to do the same.  The way I see it, this is our best chance at surviving.  Our best chance of staying out here.  I don’t mind going in for work – I don’t want to end up trapped in there, or see the people I love switch off.  Head down, memory flexed – that’s our motto.  For now.


* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *

Good day

The day she met her stood out, and not just because her life changed.  It was one of those perfect days right from the start.  She woke up in the moments before her alarm was set to go off, feeling perfectly rested.  Her body had gotten the right amount of sleep and her sleep cycles timed themselves out to lift her to waking in the gentlest way.  She blinked, stretched, stretched again, and then her alarm went off.  She smiled as she took her legs out from the comfort of the covers and reached forward to turn off the alarm.  At that point, she didn’t know about the big changes in store – she just knew she’d had a really nice dream and that it was time to start her day.  As she padded into the bathroom to do morning bathroom things, a song popped into her head and she started humming along.  She let that hum grow into a full-out, concert-worthy, shower song, complete with choreography, as the water flowed down onto her head and shoulders.

“Bravo! Encore!” Her husband’s playful words greeted her as she wrapped the towel around her body.  She grinned widely as she took a little bow, holding the towel closed with one hand while the other made a grand flourish before her.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” He wrapped her into his arms and kissed the top of her head.

“Why are you awake?”, she asked as she toweled herself off.

“Well, there was this concert in my bathroom, and…” He let the end of the sentence hang there while she clamped her hand over her mouth. “It’s fine.  I’m going to go see if I can drum up some tips for you from the neighbors.”

“I wasn’t THAT loud, was I?”

He smiled and said, “no, no.  I tease because I love.”

She hung her towel up and walked past him into the bedroom.

“Wow – what kind of dream did YOU have last night?  You’re almost bouncing – not that I mind, of course.”

She gave him an exasperated and playful look over her shoulder as she pulled out clothes to wear. “I don’t remember it.  I know it was good, though.  I am feeling really happy right now for absolutely no real reason.”

“Well, it’s contagious.  I am totally down with having a happy-for-no-reason day today.” He turned around and went back into the bathroom and closed the door with one last smile through the crack in the door.

As she put on the layers of clothes she’d need for the day, the song in her head started up again and she found herself dancing a bit.  She let the dance moves guide her into the kitchen and to the coffee maker.  Even the mundane tasks felt good today, and she started looking forward to the rest of her day.  It wouldn’t be a rough one – she had a handful of meetings and then the afternoon was clear for her to sit down and be productive.  She thought through the meetings while she packed her lunch and was able to see a clear outcome for each, so clear that she found herself looking forward to the meetings and the work that would come out of them.

He came downstairs with his bathrobe tied closed.

“No work today?  I really shouldn’t have woken you!”, she said, feeling terrible about their morning.

“I get to work from home today and tomorrow, and if I get to work from here I also get to work while wearing pajamas.”, he said as he headed for the fridge.

“I totally respect that” , she said.  “I’d put my pajamas back on after showering, too, if I was working from home today.  Instead, I get to dress like a teacher and, you know, teach.  We may have a pajama day next week, though, so there’s that.”  Her smile that came with those words was very genuine.

The hug and kiss they shared right before she left was delicious, and the thought of it lingered with her throughout her morning.  She was still thinking of it and him when her phone rang over lunch.

“Angie?  This is Megan from Infant Placement – do you have a moment?”

She froze in her tracks before answering, “Yes.  I mean, hi.  Yes, I have a moment.”

“Angie, how soon can you and Cory get to the hospital?  I have a baby girl for you.”


* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *


“I have earned it!”, she shouted into the phone with the biggest smile she’d ever felt on her face.  She didn’t care that she was standing outside, and that there were people she didn’t know going about their business.  The stares and behind the hands giggles were just another part of the win.  She made eye contact with an older gentleman walking past and saw him smile in spite of himself.  Her success must be contagious – that thought made her giggle.

“No, no – just entertaining myself over here.  I might be shouting into the wind on a busy street corner, and that might be having an impact on the people around me.”  That thought brought its own giggle, and seemed to trigger her feet to start walking again.  Even as she resumed her commute she kept her phone to her ear so she could continue the conversation.

“I am totally stoked!  So stoked I’m dropping back into the 80’s, apparently.  I imagine I’m going to be something of a challenging dinner guest tonight.  Do you think I should cancel?”  The giggling stopped her in her tracks again.  She dropped down into a deep squat, held onto her knees with her free arm, and tried to stop laughing.

“I mean,” she let escape between giggles, “can you imagine that phone call?  What would he do?”  The giggles took hold and she let them have her for a moment.  When she caught her breath, she added, “If I didn’t want to see his face when he heard, hearing him sputter over the phone would be awesome.”

“I know, I know.  And I’ll behave – I promise.  I get this moment, though, and all the moments between now and when I ring that doorbell.” She stood up and shook each leg a bit to get the blood flowing again before she turned the corner.  Getting the news had come as a surprise today, and she was having a lot of fun with the feelings that kept washing over her.

“When will you get there?  I want you to get to see him get the news so I need to time my arrival appropriately.  I’ve earned the price and we’ve both earned this moment, you know?  And, in all seriousness, I don’t know that I could have done this without you.  I want you there with me to either bask in the glow or to hold me back if he responds like an ass.   Sadly, both are equally likely and I’m really hoping he does the right thing.  I’m ready for him to make choices I don’t agree with, I just want him to choose the right thing.” She slowed down with that thought.  It took her a moment to realize she’d slowed down.  “He has to choose the right thing, right?”

“Ok.  Ok.  You’re right.  I need to stay in the here and now instead of getting lost in what-ifs.  I really do know – I promise I’m listening.”  She had come to a complete stop now and had resumed her people watching.  Her outwardly noticeable excitement had dwindled so she wasn’t pulling the same kind of attention as she’s gotten before, which was ok with her.

“Right.  Onward.  I’m pretty close to home and all I need to do is change my clothes and I’ll be ready.  Maybe we should go together?  That way you’ll be sure not to miss anything.” Her front door appeared in front of her sooner than she expected, having been distracted by her success and the conversation.  She paused to dig around in her purse to find her keys.

“Yes…wait – let me get inside.”

She dropped her keys on the hall table and continued on to the bedroom.  She paused to look in the mirror that sat on top of her dresser.  She really looked at her expression.  She saw the similarities between her face and her parents, and she saw a lot of things unique to her.

“I’m here, just got distracted.  I think I need to go to get ready.  Thanks for shouting with me earlier, and for coming to dinner tonight.  Soon all these pieces will be out of the way and we can just celebrate!”

* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *


The soft breeze moved the curtains slightly without making a sound. The windows had been closed for so long – too long. She sat in the oddly placed chair, looking out the windows and letting the curtains brush against her knees. She had dragged the chair over, working up a bit of a sweat in the process. Now, though, she was still, and the sweat had dried an hour ago. She hadn’t moved once she sat down. There was no reason to – she didn’t have anywhere to go.

The house was so different the last time she’d been here. Back then it was full of noise and life. The party was one of those perfect ones that defied planning. Everyone who should have been there had showed up, and all the people she’d hoped would miss it did. There were children and old people and her peers, and everyone mixed well. The music was good, the food was delicious, and time didn’t matter. They were celebrating her birthday in the way she loved, and she was so happy. She even danced for a while, both solo and with her favorite dance partner. She was ready when it was time to blow out the candles, and she held her wish close and wouldn’t tell anyone what she hoped for. Most of her friends knew not to ask – they knew she’d never disclose her biggest wish for fear of diluting her drive to make it real.

As she sat, still, under the curtains, she thought about that night. She had barely landed in time for the party, having booked the latest flight possible so she’d be able to work right down to the wire. Grant was waiting for her at the airport, leaning casually on his double-parked car as if he wasn’t as excited as she was at the prospect of seeing her again. A small smile creeped onto her face at that memory. They both worked so hard at maintaining a casual air in their relationship and always had. The hug they shared once she made it across the lanes of traffic belied that casual pretense, and she loved him that much more as a result. Being enveloped in his arms felt so right and, as always, wondered why she kept herself from him. She breathed deep at that thought, letting ideas tumble around in her head. Had enough changed?

She blinked and returned to her reminiscence. He’d stayed close during the party while also giving her space. There were grandparents and God children and friends to entertain. Everyone wanted to have their moments with her, and she loved every minute of the attention. Birthdays had always been a favorite for her, and this one was extra special. He had taken care of all the logistics so all she had to do was enjoy the evening. It really was a perfect event, and she knew most of that was because of him. The smile on her face grew to include her eyes – she loved him, without a doubt.

A shadow passed over her face at that moment as more memories pushed their way in. The party was wonderful. The weeks between then and today had been terrible. Saying goodbye to her father was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do. She was glad she’d come home for the party. He hadn’t even told her he was sick. Grant didn’t tell her, either, though he’d been helping her father for months. They both wanted to protect her. Her shoulders tensed at that thought – she didn’t want their “protection” and they knew that. And they did it anyway. The party was wonderful, and she had gotten to spend a good amount of time with him that evening. She was still glowing from the fun when her father told her. They were sitting at the restaurant (purposefully out in public) when he slipped the news into their conversation. Grant was sitting next to her in the booth and slid over so their thighs were touching just before the words were uttered.

She hadn’t been in the house since. She came today to say goodbye or hello – she hadn’t decided which when she left the hotel. Now, sitting here, thinking back over everything, thinking about Grant, she thought she might know the answer. She took another deep breath and looked around the room. Her phone vibrated in her and seemed to bring her fully back to the present. She looked down at it and, slowly, typed her response to the text from Grant.

“I’m home. And…Yes.”

* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental.*