Meeting McKenzie

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Photo credit: JS Brand

I’m a happily married man with two adorable kids.  I’m standing here, in front of the magnificent Kelpies.  I remember the first time I brought my kids here.  Little Brody clung to my legs, terrified.  Cora’s eyes were huge in her little face as she gazed up at the massive sculptures.  I came here alone today.  The kids are in London with their Mom.

The day’s overcast.  I’m meeting McKenzie, the woman I’d gotten off on a murder charge due to lack of evidence.  She’s a stunning woman who married a man twenty years her senior.  His family had always believed that she’d married him for his money and that she was responsible for his death.  From all appearances, he’d died of a heart attack. There appeared to be no foul play.  When she received the not guilty verdict, his family was visibly upset and fought bitterly to contest his will which left everything to her.

“Hello, Counselor,” her voice interrupts my thoughts.  I turn to face her, my heart pounding.  “I was worried you wouldn’t show.”

I swallow hard.  “I almost didn’t.”

“I’m glad you did,” she says as she walks away.  I follow.

We head for the hotel.

 

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.

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Not One of the Crowd

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not – Jeremiah 20:9

Do you sometimes feel like the prophet Jeremiah? He was called to be a prophet. Life for him was not at all easy. He couldn’t marry and have a family. His community hated him and they didn’t want to hear what he had to say because his messages were of doom and gloom. They were probably thinking, “who does he think he? These were people he grew up with. They were his neighbors. It got so bad that Jeremiah didn’t want to speak any more. He tried to keep silent but he couldn’t. He couldn’t keep silent when he had a message to share with the people that could result in their salvation.

Do you pass up opportunities to witness to others because you don’t want to be criticized, ridiculed, ignored or shunned? Are you tired of your friends making fun of you because you talk to them about God? Do you feel like you are an outsider because the people you once hung out with want nothing more to do with you? You cramp their style. You are a drag because you don’t want to go to nightclubs or the bars or hang out at the mall anymore. Your boyfriend dumped you because he’s not into that Bible stuff.

What do you do? You do what Jeremiah did. Realize and accept your new life as a Christian and that you have work to do. Accept that life at times will be difficult because you serve God. Jesus had to deal with family, neighbors and friends who rejected and questioned His ministry. He faced persecution and opposition from the religious leaders. In spite of all of these things, He finished the work God had sent Him to do. Follow His example. Continue to share your faith. Those who want to hear it will listen. Sooner or later, the seed will fall on good soil.

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Leaving

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PHOTO PROMPT © J.S. Brand

 

“You’re leaving?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Last night, I dreamed about a tree with beautiful carvings on its trunk.  Carvings were used to preserve the heritage and identity of the indigenous people.   The dream showed me that I need embrace my culture again.”

“So, you’re leaving me because of the dream?”

“No, I’m leaving because I’m tired of your family treating me like an outcast because I’m an Indigenous woman.”

“They don’t mean to.  They just haven’t gotten used to you.”

“They never will.”

“Give them more time.”

“I’ve given them three years.  Goodbye, Dylan.”

“You’ll be back.”

“Not this time.”

99 Words

This was written for 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.

 

Meant to Be

Ashton Emsworth was waiting for his girlfriend, Jessica, when he spotted Trisha Adams, his former professor from university.  Immediately, his heart began to beat fast.  She was wearing a dark jacket over a white blouse and jeans.   She looked terrific–as usual.  The last time he saw her was three years ago at his graduation.  He wondered if she even remembered him.  He thought about her every single day, wondering if he would ever see her again.  And there she was.

She glanced up and saw him.  Her face broke into a big smile and then she was coming over to him.  He ran his hands nervously over the seat of his jeans, his breath coming a little faster now.  When she reached him, he tried not to stare but he couldn’t help himself.  She was still so beautiful.  “Hello, Ashton,” she said and hugged him warmly.

He closed his eyes as he breathed in her fragrance.  She felt small and soft in his arms.  Heat coursed through his body.  When she pulled back to look up at him, his expression was tense.  He felt so awkward and nervous.  “Hello, Miss Adams,” he managed to say.

“Please call me Trisha.  How have you been?”

“I–I’ve been well, thanks.  W-what about you?”  He wondered if she had any clue that he was extremely attracted to her.   He had been since the first time he walked into the classroom and saw her.

“I’m well, thank you.  How’s your family?”

“They’re good.  They’re vacationing in the Bahamas.”

“Lucky them.  How come you didn’t go with them?”

“I didn’t feel up to it.”

“Well, it’s good that you didn’t go or we wouldn’t have run into each other.  How do you find life after university?”

“It was tough at first because I had spent four years studying and not having to worry about anything but after graduating, I had to figure out what to do next.  I thought of taking a graduate job then I considered pursuing post graduate study.  I ended up taking a gap year.  Are you still teaching at the University of London?”

She shook her head.  “No, I left the year you graduated.  I’m now teaching at King’s College.  Are you waiting for someone?”

“Yes.”  He didn’t mention whom.  For some reason he found himself hoping that Jessica wouldn’t show up just then.

“I won’t keep you then.  Ashton, I was wondering…Are you busy tomorrow evening?”

He thought about it for a moment.  Tomorrow was Saturday.  Jessica was working tomorrow evening.  She worked part-time at a café close to the university.  “No, I’m not busy tomorrow evening,” he said.

Trisha looked relieved.  “Great.  I’d like to take you out to dinner at this great restaurant.  We have a lot of catching up to do.”

She’s asking me out to dinner.  He couldn’t believe it.  Excitement and nervousness filled him.  “I’d like that very much,” he said.

“I’ll pick you up at seven.”

He balked.  “Shouldn’t I be picking you up?” he asked.

“I’m taking you out to dinner so I should pick you up,” she said, her eyes twinkling.  “We’re living in the 21st century, Ashton.  A woman can take a man out of dinner and she can pick him up at his flat too.  Now, what’s your address?”

He told her and she made a mental note.

“Well, I had better be going,” she said.  “I’ll see you tomorrow evening at seven.  Enjoy the rest of the afternoon, Ashton.”

He was sorry that she had to go.  If he weren’t waiting for Jessica, he would have asked her to have a cappuccino with him.  Still, he ought to be grateful that he was going to see her tomorrow.  “Thanks.  You too.”

She touched his arm, making his heart leap in his chest and then turned and walked away.  He watched her go, his skin tingling where her fingers had been.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Jessica said, suddenly appearing beside him.  “The lineup in the music store was horrendous but it was worth it.  I finally got the CD after hunting for it all over London for it.  I’m famished.  Let’s go and grab something to eat.  I saw this little bistro just down the street.”  She grabbed his hand and started walking.  All the way to the bistro she talked non-stop about how tempted she had been to buy other CDs and the DVD set of Jane Austen movies.  She congratulated herself on not giving into the temptation.  Ashton didn’t say anything.  His mind was elsewhere.  He was thinking about tomorrow evening and was anxious for it to come.

It came after what seemed like a very long time to him.  As he waited for her in the courtyard outside of his building, he felt tingly all over.  He was thrilled and terrified at the same time.  He hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t make a fool of himself.  His cell phone was turned off.  He didn’t want Jessica calling him while he was having dinner.  He tried not to think about how she would feel if she knew that he was going out on a date with the professor he was besotted with.

A silver grey Mercedes Benz pulled up and the window rolled down.  Trisha stuck her head out.  “I hope you weren’t waiting long,” she called.  “I tried to get here as fast as I could.  The traffic is very heavy.”

He shook his head.  “No, I wasn’t waiting long,” he said as he walked over and got into the car.  Compared to waiting for over two years to see you again, what are a few minutes?  As he fastened his seat-belt, he glanced at her.  She looked amazing in the red jersey dress.  Its rich deep color flattered her.  Her hair was in an updo with strands falling across her forehead and against her cheeks.  She turned her head and caught him staring.  Color suffused his cheeks and he looked away.

“I’ve been looking forward to seeing you all day,” she told him as they drove off.

He looked at her, surprised.  “You have?”

“Yes.  I’ve been thinking about you all day.  By the way, you look very handsome in your suit.”

He blushed, feeling a little self-conscious.  “Thank you.”  A pause and then, he said, rather shyly, “And you look very beautiful.”

She smiled.  “Thank you.”  There was a brief silence for a moment.  Only the sounds of soft music filled the air and then, she asked, “How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.”

“I’m twelve years older than you.  Does that brother you?”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“It used to bother me.  When I first saw you in my classroom, I was taken aback by how attracted I was to you.  I tried to fight it, of course, because you were my student and the age difference.  Many times, I wanted to ask you out but propriety prevented me.  It was against the school’s policy for a teacher to be involved with a student.”

“What about after I graduated?” he asked.  “Why couldn’t we have seen each other then?”

“We could have if it weren’t for our age difference.  I couldn’t see myself getting involved with a guy so much younger than me but I couldn’t stop thinking about you and wondering if I would ever see you again.  And then, quite by accident or perhaps, it was God’s doing, we ran into each other yesterday.”

“I think it was God.”

“I think you’re right.  Well, here we are.”  They had arrived at the restaurant. It turned out to be a really nice, cozy and friendly establishment.  The food was incredible.  They spend a very pleasant evening, talking and getting to know each other.  He was sorry when it was time to leave.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” she asked after they pulled out of the parking lot.

The question was so sudden that he blinked.  “Yes,” he said.

“You were waiting for her yesterday when I saw you.”

“Yes.  Does this mean that we can see each other again?”

“Well, that depends on you.”

“I want to see you again, Trisha.”

“What about your girlfriend?”

“I’m going to end my relationship with her.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.  I want to be with you.  All this time I’ve been with her, I’ve thought of nothing or no one else but you.  I tried to get in touch with you.  I went on the university’s website to get your email address or number but I couldn’t find anything.”

“I’m on Facebook.”

“I don’t have a Facebook account,” he said, somewhat sheepishly.

They were stopped at a traffic light.  She leaned over and kissed him.  He eagerly responded and for several minutes they exchanged passionate kisses.  Then, she pulled away just as the light changed.  “How about a nightcap at my place?”  She sounded breathless.

He nodded, trying to catch his breath. His heart was racing, his face felt hot and his body on fire.   When they got to her place, the nightcap was forgotten as they fell into each other’s arms and ended up making love in front of the hearth.   That night was the beginning of a torrid relationship and culminated in marriage.

If two people are meant to be together, it will happen no matter where, when or how it happens.

 

 

 

 

Sources:  Top Ten Reviews; Prospects

Back in the Saddle

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PHOTO PROMPT © Jilly Funell

Initially, she had been nervous going to the JP Morgan’s Re-Entry Program, a 14-week training experience for women like her who left the workforce but after being encouraged by family and friends, she decided to go for it.  Besides, she missed working.

She had left her job to be a stay at home Mom of three but now that her husband was deceased and the kids were grown, she longed to be among the working class.  Concerns about ageism had prevented her from venturing out before now.

Here goes.  Taking a deep breath, she climbed the stairs.

97 Words

This was written for 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.

Source:  Gender Fair

His Muse

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Photo by Sue Vincent

The painting was almost complete.  He just had to add a few touches.  Painting landscapes was never his thing but he had been forced to paint them since…He tossed the paintbrush down and got up.  He walked over to the window and stared out into the street below.  It was quiet now.  It was Sunday.  Almost everyone was in church.  He had stopped attending Sunday mass three years ago.  He had stopped doing a lot of things three years ago.  Three years ago she had stood right there by the door, ready to removed her coat when her cell rang.  He had no idea who called her but after she ended the call, she grabbed her knapsack and said, “I have to go but I will be back later,” before she pulled open the door and rushed out.

He waited all day for her to return or to call but neither was forthcoming.  Three years later and she hadn’t returned.  He had no idea where she was.  Maybe she went back to her home in Benin.  She was the reason why he stopped painting people and started painting landscapes.  He had broken his own rule of never mixing business with pleasure.  She was supposed to be his muse–that was all.  He had painted hundreds of women before and not once did any of them stir any passions in him.  He was immune to them.  To him there were just muses.

Then, he met her one day at the gallery where his work was on display.  She was eighteen at the time.  Her youth was so refreshing.   She wasn’t beautiful or even pretty and her eyes seemed too large for her small face but she intrigued him.   He wanted to paint her right then and there.  There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that she was going to be his next muse.  After they left the gallery, he took her for a cappuccino.  She was a bit hesitant at first although she was flattered that he wanted to paint her but he was very persuasive.

She turned out to be the perfect muse, inspiring him to produce his best work.  He churned out painting after painting.   She sat there day after day, still as a statue.  He supposed that it was gradual but one day he realized that he that he had fallen for her–of all he foolhardy things to do.  He was twice her age, for pity’s sake.  He thought of finding another muse to replace her but he couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing her again.  She had brought light and joy into his otherwise dull existence.  Life without her would be intolerable.  He didn’t replace her but it became increasingly hard to paint because he couldn’t concentrate.  Instead of painting her, he wanted to take her in his arms and…

He leaned forward, his palms flat on the window seat, his tortured gaze scanned the horizon.  She was out there somewhere.  His life was empty.  There was a great big chasm and his heart ached every time he remembered how she had literally run out of his life.  He never got another muse.  No one could replace her.  Oh, Johari, my inspiration, my grand passion, my torment.

He heard a sound behind him and turned.  His face became ashen when he saw her standing there.  If she didn’t blink, he would have imagined that she was an illusion.  All sorts of emotions churned inside him.  His hands curled into tight fists as he tried to hold them in check.  Part of him wanted to take her in his arms and lavish her with kisses while the other part wanted to lash out at her for the misery she had put him through.

“I came back, Adriel,” she said, moving closer.

He didn’t budge.  “Yes, three years later.  Where have you been all this time?”

“I’ve been in Benin.  That day when I was here with you, I got a call from an uncle that my father had fallen ill and that I was needed home right away.  I got the first flight out of London.  I helped my mother to look after him until he recovered.  My mother asked me to stay until she could afford to hire a private nurse.  I tried calling you but there wasn’t any answer.  I think your cell was off.  I wrote to you while I was in Benin but you never answered.  Adriel, you must know that only a family emergency would make me leave you.  All the time I was away, I thought about you and missed you.  I wondered why you didn’t write me.  I thought you were out of the country or busy with gallery showings or—that you had met someone.”

He quickly closed the distance between them.  “I’ve been here all this time,” he told her.  “Missing you and wondering where you were.  I had my phone turned off and I never received any of your letters.”

“So, there isn’t another woman…?”

He shook his head vigorously.  “No!” Groaning, he reached for her and pulled her into his arms.  “I couldn’t be with anyone else even if I wanted to.  I love you, Johari.”  He covered her face with kisses, unable to help himself.

She hugged him tightly about his waist and murmured, “I love you too.”

They stood there in the sun-dappled room locked in a passionate embrace.  He stopped painting for a long while and he no longer had any need for a muse.  They got married in a quiet ceremony in SaintPauldeVence, one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera.  When he returned to painting, he did portraits while Johari worked in a museum which featured his work.

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Faraway at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

The Temp

He had gone through a bitter divorce and custody battle.  His ex-wife had their two daughters.  He saw them over the summer and Christmas holidays.  They always had fun when they were together.  He took them wherever they wanted.  The time they spent together always seemed to pass really quickly and it was hard parting from them.  They called him over the weekend and talked to him about school, their friends, etc.  Ava was eight and Olivia was six.  They meant the world to him.  It was too bad that things had ended up the way they did between their mother and him.

His happy marriage gone bad had left a very bitter taste in his mouth and as a result he had sworn off relationships.  He buried himself in his work.  Occasionally, he would take trips, hang out with friends and attend family functions.  He worked out at the gym, played tennis, jogged, read and went for walks on the beach.  And he has his faith to sustain him.  His church family had helped him during those rough moments following the divorce.  His life was as he wanted it–simple, that is until Amelia Johnson walked into it.

Amelia was hired to fill Susanna’s position.  Susanna was on maternity leave.  Amelia came from Alpha North Group Ltd with excellent qualifications and references from previous assignments.  He remembered the first time he saw her as if it were yesterday.   When they were introduced, he tried not to stare but her fresh beauty took his breath away.  Her braids which framed her face, tumbled down past her shoulders.  The red top she wore over the black skirt accentuated her complexion.  She was petite and slender.  He towered over her.  When she looked up at him with those big brown eyes and smiled at him, he felt his heart melt.  He knew he was in trouble then.  Their handshake was brief but long after he had released her hand, he could still feel its warmth and softness.

During the 18 months she was with them he tried to keep his growing attraction hidden under the veneer of professionalism.  No one had a clue that every morning he would look out of his office window overlooking the street below to watch her walking up the sidewalk.  He was tied up in knots.  He didn’t want to become emotionally involved again because of the pain he had experienced with his ex but the more he fought against his feelings for Amelia, the stronger they seemed to grow.  It was a battle that he was losing.

He had no idea of how she felt about him.  She was as pleasant to him as she was with the rest of the staff.  There was no indication that his attraction for her was reciprocated.  And for all he knew, she might already be in a relationship.  The thought stung but he had to be prepared for that possibility.  How was he going to find out whether or not she had a boyfriend?

He sat at his desk now in deep thought, wondering what to do.  This was Amelia’s last week with the company.  Susanna was back on Monday.  He had to do something before Amelia went out of his life forever.  He’d prayed about it all of last week and had gotten his answer last night.  He reached for the phone, hesitating for a brief moment before he dialed her extension.  His heart was thudding heavily against his ribs.  When she answered, he kept it short, “I need to see you.”  He leaned back in the chair after hanging up the phone and waited.  His anxious gaze was on the door which would open any minute now and Amelia would walk in.  There was no turning back now.

After she hung up the phone, Amelia stared at it for a moment.  Mark wanted to see her.  Why?  She was nervous about being alone with him.  What if she couldn’t hide her feelings for him?  It was one thing to act professional around him when others were around but quite another when they were alone.  Slowly, she pushed her chair back and got up, her legs feeling like jelly.  She smoothed her trembling and sweaty palms over her skirt and headed for his office.

She knocked on the door and heard him say, “Come in.”  Her heart was beating so fast and she couldn’t seem to control her breathing.  I must remain calm, she told herself as she opened the door and went inside.  He was standing behind his desk.  Her eyes traveled over his tall figure as she closed the door behind her.   She walked over to him and stopped in front of the desk.   She clasped her hands tightly in front of her so that he wouldn’t notice that they were trembling.  “You needed to see me,” she said.

He cleared his throat.  “Yes.  This is your last week with us.”

She lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the sadness in them.  “Yes, it is.”  She had dreaded this moment.  She liked working here and the people but most of all, she hated the thought of leaving him.  He was the reason why she enjoyed coming in to work.

“I hope you have been happy here, Amelia. We were very fortunate to have you.”

She looked up.  “Yes, I have been very happy here.  Everyone has been so great.”

“We are sorry to lose you.  You will be missed.”

“I am going to miss all of you.”

There was a pregnant pause during which they stared at each other, each not knowing what to say next or how to act.  “Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked suddenly.

She blinked in surprise.  She hadn’t expected that.  She shook her head at once.  “No.”

He looked relieved.  “Good to hear,” he said, coming around the desk to stand close to her.  “Amelia, I’m divorced and have two daughters.  I had sworn off relationships until I met you.  You walked into my life and turned it upside down.  For the longest time I have tried really hard to fight my feelings for you but it’s no use.”

Her eyes grew wide.  “Your feelings?”

“Yes.  I’m in love with you, Amelia and I wanted to tell you that before you walk out of my life for good.  Do you have any feelings for me?”  He braced himself for her answer, his face pale.

She nodded, her heart was in her eyes.  “Yes, Mark,” she cried.  “I’m in love with you too.  I tried so hard not to show it because it never dawned on me that you felt the same way.”

Mark pulled her into his arms and kissed her.  When he drew back, they were both breathing hard.  “I’m thankful that your assignment here is ending this week.  It was the thought of never seeing you again and encouragement from God which compelled me to tell you how I feel.”

She smiled.  “I’m very thankful that what I believed to be the saddest day of my life has turned into the happiest.”