Twenty-Five Years

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It’s our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.  We decided would celebrate it in the comfort of our home.  So, after eating Thai food delivered at our door we drank champagne.  A single red rose lay between us on the bed.

“Happy anniversary,” Martin says as he holds my hand.  “Thank you for the best twenty- five years of my life.”

I smile as I raise my glass.  “Here’s to another twenty-five years.”

We toast.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  God has blessed me with a wonderful man.  We don’t have any kids but we have each other.  He’s my world and I am his.  Together, we have chartered calm and rough waters but through it all, our love, marriage and faith have grown stronger.   Tonight, we are celebrating twenty-five years of wedded bliss.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Farm.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Liz’s Mom

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PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Liz was going through one of the boxes in the basement when she came across a photo of her mother playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  She was wearing a pretty pink dress with a white sash.  She smiled as she remembered her mother telling her how much she loved this game which existed since the late 1800s.  She wouldn’t have a birthday party without it.  In this photo she was celebrating her 10th.

Liz’s eyes filled with tears.  Her mother died a month ago after losing her battle with Parkinson’s.  At least she was at peace now.

 

99 Words

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields For more details, visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Cyclone Randy

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I’m sitting here in a restaurant on the coast, hungry but still not sure of what to order.  I was alone.  It’s not often that I have dinner alone but this time was different.  After dating on and off, I decided to end my relationship with Derek.  Emotions weren’t involved in my decision.  I exercised perspicacious judgment.  The relationship wasn’t going anywhere so why prolong it?  Now we are both free to move on with our lives.

Tonight, I’m celebrating my freedom.  It feels great to be single again.  I studied the menu for several more minutes and then I finally signaled to the waiter that I was ready to order.  After he left the table, I closed the menu and was about to reach for my cell when he walked in with a woman I’ve never seen before.  I tried not to let seeing them together bother me.  Why should it?  I asked myself.  I hoped that he wouldn’t notice me.  Unfortunately, he did.  I braced myself as he headed over to my table with his lady friend in tow.

Trying to act calmer than I felt, I glanced up and smiled politely.  When he reached the table and was towering over me, I couldn’t help but think how sexy he looked in that black shirt and black jeans.  The little black cross nestled against his chest.  Realizing that I was staring, alarmed, my eyes flew up to his face.  A slight smile tugged at his lips.  Perhaps, it was my imagination but he looked a little smug to me.

“Good evening,” he said, his eyes flickering over me, making me feel hot and bothered.  Why did he have such an effect on me?  It has always been that way since we met a couple of years ago.  Derek introduced us.  I wonder if he knows as yet that we broke up.

“Good evening,” I replied.

“Are you dining alone?” he asked.

I raised my chin perceptibly.  “Yes.”  I was almost tempted to add that there was nothing wrong with a woman having dinner alone when I saw his eyebrows arch in surprise.

“How come Derek isn’t with you?”

Why did he have to ask about Derek?  I might as well tell him.  “He and I broke up.”

His expression changed and he stared at me for several minutes.  “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said finally.

I shrugged.  “It’s for the best.”

He was about to say something else when his companion cleared her throat.  As if suddenly realizing that she was there.  He turned and drew her forward so that she was standing beside him.  “Bena, this is Angela.”

Bena looked at me.  She was very striking although I thought that the grey jersey dress she wore was too casual.  She looked me over before she held out her hand.  She didn’t look too pleased.  “Hello,” she said as we shook hands.

“Hello.”  After we shook hands, she placed her right hand on his shoulder and put her other arm around him.  I think she was letting me know in no uncertain terms that he was off limits.  My eyes shifted to him.  Again he had that smug smile on his face.  My fingers gripped the glass of water.  He was enjoying this.  Men.

Thankfully, just then the waiter came over with my order.  As he set the food down in front of me, Bena turned to me and said, “We will leave alone to enjoy your dinner.”  She turned to him and said, “Let’s go to our table now.”

He nodded before he said to me, “Good evening.”

“Good evening.”  We stared at each other for several minutes before he turned and walked away.

Their table was a couple of tables away from mine and by the window.  I tried to look everywhere except there as I tucked into my pan-fried Rainbow Trout dinner.  I wished they weren’t there.  I couldn’t really relax and enjoy my dinner.  I hardly tasted the Butternut Squash Pie which was one of my favorites.  As soon as I finished the last crumb, I signaled to the waiter.  After I paid the bill, I got up from my table.  I was tempted to walk out of the restaurant without saying goodbye but that would have been rude.  So, after adjusting my dress, I walked over to their table.

Of course, Bena wasn’t pleased at the intrusion but he stood up.  “I just wanted to say goodnight before I left,” I informed them.  I could feel him watching me and try as I did, I couldn’t resist looking at him.

“Goodnight, Angela,” he said.  “It was nice seeing you.”  His expression was serious this time and I wondered about that.

Bena didn’t answer.  She just inclined her head and as  I turned and walked away, I could feel her eyes digging into my back.  What was her problem?  Did she think I was after her man?  I shook my head at the idea.  Ridiculous.  I admit that I’m attracted to Randy Cloud but that doesn’t mean that I want to get involved with him.

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I think about nothing else but him on the drive home.  I turn on the radio in the car to listen to some music but it doesn’t help.  Frustrated, I turn it off.  I roll down the window but soon roll it back up as the noise of traffic gets to me.

When I get home, I shower and fix myself a nightcap and relax on the sofa for a while.  As I sit there watching the television but not really paying much attention to it, I find myself wondering where Randy and Bena went after dinner.  Did he take her straight home or somewhere else first?  Were they going to spend the night together?  For Pete’s sake, why should what he does with Bena matter to me?

The phone rang.  I got up and answered it.  “Hello?”

“Hello, Angela.”

I nearly dropped the phone when I realized that it was Randy.  “Randy?”

“Yes.”

“Why are you calling me?”  I had to ask.

“Would you like to go out for drinks with me sometime when you’re not busy.”

“Are you asking me out on a date, Randy?”

“Yes.”

“What about Bena?”

“Bena’s just a friend, nothing more.”

“It’s obvious that she wants to be more than friends.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

“All right.  I guess there’s no harm in going out for a couple of drinks.”

“How about tomorrow evening around six?”

“Sure.  Do you have somewhere particular in mind?”

He mentioned a bar I’ve never heard of.  As long as it wasn’t somewhere Derek and I have been, I’m fine with it.

“All right, I’ll meet you there.”

“Great.  Have a good night, Angela.”

“You too, Randy.”

I hung up.  Why do I feel as if I’ve thrown myself in the path of an oncoming cyclone?  If I’m not careful, I could get swept away.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for Saturday’s prompt, coast, Tuesday’s prompt, hungry, Wednesday’s prompt perspicacious and today’s prompt, cyclone. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Balance for Better

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I’m ashamed to say that I completely forgot that today is International Women’s Day.  There was a time when I was on top of these important days/events.  I’m grateful to my son for reminding me this morning.  He came into the kitchen and wished me a “Happy International Women’s Day”.  I was surprised that he knew about it and asked him if his teacher had mentioned it.  He told me that he saw it on the computer.

This year’s theme is BalanceforBetter which is a call to action for driving gender balance across the world. Women have come a long way but we still have some distance to go.  The best way to achieve greater gender equality is through challenging bias and celebrating women’s achievements.  According to International Women’s Day website, “the race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage.” 

International Women’s Day isn’t just a day for celebration but a call to action for women and men to push for complete gender equality because “gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive”.  Gender equality benefits everyone.

A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world?  Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality – International Women’s Day

Sources:  IWD; Global News; NBC News; The Sun;

 

Some Family Christmas

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Photo Credit: Anurag Bakhshi

I looked at the houses below me, thankful to be leaving.  I couldn’t wait to get back to America.  I had the bright idea of spending Christmas on the island with my family for a change.  The first night I was there, I wanted to take the first plane back to New York.  My sister’s constant talk of her boyfriend got on my nerves because it invariably led to my mother asking me about my love life.  One night at dinner, she asked, “So, what’s wrong with you?”

The fork of rice was midway to my mouth.  I looked at her quizzically.  “What do you mean?” I asked.

“You’ve been living in New York all these years and you still haven’t found a man?”

“I haven’t found the right one,” I clarified and then proceeded to put the rice in my mouth.  It was delicious.  I wish she’d let me enjoy it in peace.  Who wanted to talk about my nonexistent love life over Pelau?  Unfortunately, my mother did.

She rolled her eyes.  “You’re too picky,” she said.

I didn’t answer.  My father shot me sympathetic looks.

With Christmas behind me, I’m looking forward to celebrating 2019 in New York.

 

200 Words

 

This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Pregnancy At 40 and Older – The Risks

I got pregnant when I was forty and had our son when I was forty-one.  It was a textbook pregnancy.  There were no complications.  I didn’t have to have an epidural and the actual delivery took under fifteen minutes.  The contractions although they were bad, they didn’t last long.  I have heard some horror stories of women being in labor for more than 24 hours.  I couldn’t imagine going through that.

In a couple of months our son will be celebrating his third birthday.  Wow.  Where did the time go?  It seemed like only the other day I was holding him in my arms for the first time.  The pregnancy was an experience I feel truly blessed to have had.  At the time, though, I didn’t want to go through another one.  I didn’t feel mentally or physically or even emotionally up to it.  Before I had my son, I had always planned that when I got married, I would love to have twins–a boy and a girl.  That of course didn’t happen.  God blessed us with a son.  And we have decided that we wouldn’t have more children because of my age.  I am heading toward my mid-forties.  We worry about the risks and are not willing to take them.

I have been adamant about not having a second child but I would have a couple women push me to consider it.  There is one in particular who works in the office cafeteria.  Every time I see her, she manages to bring the conversation around to me having another baby.  I try to change the topic but she is persistent.  I try to tell her that at my age I should not even be considering this but she brushes that excuse aside.  She seems to believe that age is not a factor.  Once when she broached the subject, I had a moment of insanity when I actually wanted to get pregnant again.  Of course when I spoke to my fiance, he snapped me right back to reality.

There are times when I entertain the thought and imagine what the baby would look like.  I like the idea of having a little girl who will look like her Daddy.  But then, I think about the risks.

What are the risks?  Are they worth taking?  I decided to find out via the Internet. 

With today’s medical technology, prenatal care, and well educated doctors women have the best chances ever to become pregnant and have successful pregnancies after age 40. However, the risks are there and women in this age range should be aware of them.

One risk many women over the age of 40 are most concerned with is genetic disorders. As a woman ages her entire body does as well, including her eggs. Many times Down Syndrome results from an older woman’s egg simply not dividing like it might have when the woman was younger. Of course, if you are age 40 or more and you want to have a child you should not let the slightly higher risk of genetic disorders or birth defects scare you. A woman who becomes pregnant at age 35 has a risk of 1 in 365 of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome. That risk increases to 1 in 100 with a woman 40 years of age and approximately to 1 in 40 for women 45 years of age. Any woman who becomes pregnant has a risk of about 3% to have a child with a birth defect. This percentage more than doubles for women over 40, but still the 6-8% risk is still relatively low.

These statistics seem pretty scary to women who are 40 years old or older but want to have a baby. However, the statistics are just that and while one out of ever 100 babies has Down’s Syndrome there are 99 other babies that are perfect. The best thing to do is visit your doctor before you become pregnant. Your doctor will advise you of your risks and give you a plan to help reduce risks. This includes eating healthy, exercising, treating any current diseases or disorders, and simply being as healthy as possible before pregnancy begins. At that point you will be better prepared to have a baby, your pregnancy will go smoother, and you will more than likely have a perfectly healthy baby.

There are tests that can be performed early in the pregnancy to see if your baby has a higher chance of having a genetic disorder or birth defect as well. As long as you work with your doctor and have prenatal care you will more than likely have a healthy baby at age 40 or older (http://www.amazingpregnancy.com/pregnancy-articles/543.html). 

I had these tests done and everything was perfect.  There were no concerns.  For the first five months of my pregnancy I was mindful of having a miscarriage.  I learned that not only is it more difficult to conceive after 40, but that the miscarriage rate increases with both maternal and paternal age, says Michelle Collins, a certified nurse midwife and an assistant professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Nashville. One woman said that she had her first child at 39 but at 43 she was having problems conceiving and had three miscarriages in one year.   (http://www.pregnancytoday.com/articles/healthy-safe-pregnancy/pregnancy-after-40-6175/). 

If you are forty or older and are considering having a baby, talk to your doctor first.  Learn what your risks are and if you are willing to take them.  If after talking to your doctor, you decide you want to go through with it, then start taking the prenatal vitamins, Folic Acid supplements and doing the necessary things.  One person commented, if it is God’s will for you to have a child, it will happen.  He let it happen with two women who were pushing way past 40–Sarah and Elizabeth and they both had healthy baby boys and back  then they didn’t have the medical technology we have today.  If I believed that God wanted to bless us with another child, I would go through with another pregnancy, trusting that everything will turn out just fine. 

If you are a 40 or 40+ year old woman and are serious about getting pregnant again, don’t wait any longer.  Consult your doctor and do what you need to do.  I wish that all goes well for you and your baby.