Her Boss

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It was her first day back to work after a month long vacation in Jamaica.  Since she left there ten years ago, she hadn’t visited until now and was happy that she did.  She had forgotten the verdant mountainsides, crystalline rivers and white beaches surrounded by a turquoise sea.  She stayed with her cousin, Winston who owned and ran a beach resort.

The funny thing is all that time she was away, she couldn’t help thinking about Zain.  She missed him.  When she went shopping, she picked up a vintage wood carved hand-painted vase and a bottle of Rum for him.  She was looking forward to giving them to him.  He must have gotten the postcard she sent.

Winston was a party animal and he dragged her to different nightclubs, bars and house parties where she met all sorts of men.  They were interested in her and she found some of them very entertaining but she just wasn’t into any of them.  How could she be when she was in love with Zain?  Zain was her boss, for Pete’s sake.  Before she became his secretary, she was his father’s.  After Sadiq Patel decided to go into early retirement, he handed the company over to his youngest son along with her, his trusted secretary whom he hired fresh out of university, a decision he always prided himself was the one of the best ones he had ever made.  He used to say to her, “If I were at least twenty years younger, I would leave for my wife for you if you’d have me.”

Teona knew that he wasn’t serious.  She used to shake her head and say, “You and I both know you would never do that.”

He chuckled.  “You’re right, Teona.  I don’t have the courage to do it.”

She knew courage had nothing to do with it.  He was crazy about his wife.  Death was the only thing that could come between them.

On her last day working with him, they had hugged and she had cried.  She had loved working for him and was going to miss him terribly.  Mrs. Patel and he returned to New Delhi.  The last she heard, they had opened a restaurant.

Pakistani male modelThe first time she met Zain, he was in his father’s old office, sitting on top of a table.  To say that he was handsome was a gross understatement.  He was drop dead gorgeous and for several minutes all she could do was stand there, tongue-tied, staring at him.  A slight smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

“Hello, Teona,” he said.  Unlike his father, he had a British accent.  “My father has told me so much about you.  I’m looking forward to us working together.  Please have a seat and we can go over the company’s books to see where we are.”

That day was a complete blur for her as she tried to get him up to speed with everything and at the same time distracted by his good looks.  They soon came up with a system which worked perfectly for them.  And she soon found that, like his father, she loved working for him too but for completely different reasons.  It was too bad that he had a girlfriend…

The ringing of her phone jolted her back to the present.  It was Zain.   She quickly picked it up.

“Welcome back,” he said.

“Thank you.”  It’s good to be back.  She didn’t think she would ever go away for that long again.

“Come and see me after you’ve settled in.”

“All right.”  After she hung, she checked her emails, deleted many and responded to some.  She went to the washroom to make sure she looked fine.  She grabbed the bag with the stuff she had brought back for him and went into his office.

He was sitting at his desk but got up when she went in, closing the door behind her.  She walked over to him and extending the bag, she said, “I brought these back for you.”

He took the bag and looked inside.  “Thank you,” he said, smiling.  “I got your postcard.”  He set the bag down on the carpet beside his desk.  “Did you have a good time?”

She nodded.  “Yes, I did.”

“Has it changed much since you left?”

“Yes, it has.  I’d forgotten how laid back life there was compared to here.  It was nice not rushing around and being able to just walk out to the beach instead of having to drive there.”

He was leaning against the desk now, arms folded, watching her.  “Did you stay at a hotel or with family?”

“I stayed with my cousin, Winston.  He has a beach house.”

“What else did you do besides go to the beach?”

“Well, I went river rafting, zip-lining and visited Ochos Rios, Negril and Kingston where the Bob Marley Museum is, nightclubs, bars and parties.”

“Did you meet anyone?”

“Well, I met a lot of men, most of them were Winston’s friends.”

“Were you attracted to any of them?”

She shook her head.  “No, I wasn’t although most of them were really nice.”

“I missed you.”  The statement took her by surprise and the expression on his face made her heart skip a beat.

“Sure you did,” she replied, lowering her eyes.  “It’s the first time since we have been working together that you had to work with another secretary.  Did you get along well with Stacey?”  Stacey and she covered for each other.  The older woman was extremely competent.

“Yes, we got along famously but when I said that I missed you, I wasn’t speaking as your boss.”

She swallowed hard.  His eyes captivated her.  “What—what about Amrita?”

“We broke up.”

Her eyes widened in shock.  “You did?  How come?”

“She kept hounding me to get rid of you and gave me an ultimatum.  It was either you or her.”

“Why did she want you to get rid of me?”

“Do you remember the day when you and I were in here working on a project?”

Yes, she remembered.  How could she not?  They had spent most of the morning on it and finished it just after noon.  He ordered in take out and they sat on the sofa to have it.  Over delicious Thai food, they talked about all sorts of things, including her trip to Jamaica.  When they were finished eating and had put the containers in the garbage, she was about to take up her notes when he reached out and rubbed the right corner of her mouth with his thumb.  “You had a bit of sauce,” he explained.

“Thank you,” she murmured.  His hand was still holding her face.  They stared into each other’s eyes and their heavy breathing mingled.  Her gaze dropped to his mouth and watched, mesmerized as it drew closer…The loud knock on the door startled them and they sprang apart just as Amrita walked in.  She looked from one to the other, her expression dour before she inquired stonily, “Am I interrupting something?”

Flustered, Teona muttered, “No, I was just leaving.”  She turned away, grabbed her notes and almost ran out of the office.  For the rest of the day, she relived those last few moments in Zain’s office—when he rubbed the sauce from the side of her mouth and the kiss they almost shared.  The following morning she was on a plane headed for Jamaica.  And now she was back and here in his office.

“I remember,” she answered.  I thought about it a lot when I was away.

“Amrita knew that she had interrupted something.  She sensed that there was something between us and that’s why she wanted me to get rid of you.”

“So, instead of getting rid of me, you dumped her?”

“Yes.  Why should I get rid of a perfectly good secretary?” His eyes twinkled and his lips twitched.

“Is that the only reason why you didn’t get rid of me?”

His expression changed.  He looked very serious now and he reached for her hands.  “You know it isn’t,” he replied, pulling her closer to him.   His heated gaze met hers squarely.  “Just like you know what would have happened if she hadn’t interrupted us.”

By now she was having trouble breathing normally.  And her heart was pounding like crazy.  When she was standing inches from him, he released her hands and cup her face between his hands.  Then he was kissing her.  Now that her hands were free, she wrapped her arms around his waist as the kisses became more passionate.

Several minutes passed and then as things were getting really heated, he broke off the kiss, his breath harsh and unsteady.  “We’d better stop,” he gasped.

She nodded, trying to catch her breath.   “Yes, I’d better get back to my desk.”

Reluctantly he released her and ran his fingers through his hair.  His eyes were stormy as they met hers.  “Have dinner with me tonight.”

“Where?”

“My place at seven-thirty.”

“All right.  I’ll be there.”

He leaned over and kissed her long and hard on the mouth.  “It’s great to have you back.”

“It’s great to be back,” she murmured before she turned and walked unsteadily out of his office.

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

Sources: The Nature Conservancy; Road Affair; Etsy; Road Affair

I Still Enjoy Good Food but…

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I was a gourmand.  Food was my obsession.  I gorged on it every chance I got.  Whenever I traveled, I preferred to pop into the different restaurants and enjoying the different cuisines than go sightseeing.  My friends and family stopped going abroad with me because I always wanted to stop somewhere to eat when they wanted to be on the go.

While they were pounding the pavement in the midday heat, I was in a nice, air conditioned restaurant, enjoying great food. This love for food began when I was in my late teens and continued into my late twenties.  Unlike most of my friends and relatives, I was still single.  I dated a couple of times but the men were turned off because I ate more than they did.

I hardly socialized.  I was used to eating out alone and when I wasn’t doing that, I was at home, reading or watching television while enjoying take out or recipes I tried from the scores of cookbooks I had.  Then, one day,  I looked a really hard look at myself and realized that if I didn’t stop, I was going to eat myself into an early grave.

So, I did what I never thought I would ever do.  I gave away my cookbooks and went on a diet.  I ate mostly fruit, grains and salads.  It wasn’t easy but determination can be a great motivator.  Besides, I wanted to live to a ripe old age like most of my family.

I started going to the gym as well and that’s where I met Peter.  He was the most attractive man in the entire place and I was blown away when he noticed me.  I had lost some weight but still needed to lose a lot more.  Anyway, after weeks of catching each other’s eye, he finally came over and introduced himself.  We spent the rest of my time at the gym together.  Before I left, he asked me out.  I was on cloud nine.  I ran down the sidewalk like a giddy school girl.  It felt great to be going on a date after such a long time.

We went to Spicy Affairs, a vegetarian restaurant (he was vegetarian) and over Mushroom Marsala we talked and laughed.  We had such a wonderful time together that we made other dates.  When we weren’t at the gym together, we were going to the beach for long walks or drives up the coast, the movies, museums and art galleries, all the kinds of things I wasn’t interested in when food was all I cared about.  Now, I have so many other interests and I met a terrific guy who makes me feel beautiful.  It is because of him that I haven’t lost all of my chubbiness.

Did I forget to mention that we’re engaged?  Oh yes, he popped the question yesterday when we were taking our regular stroll along the beach.  That photo you see of us was taken after I said YES!   Every time  I look at it, I am ever so thankful that I had the good sense to turn my life around.  I still enjoy food but not as excessively as before and besides, I have Peter to keep me in line.

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

True Greatness

After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded – John 13:5

 

Jesus Washing feet Statue

Today, I watched the movie, The Gospel of John.  Before Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover on the night before His crucifixion, He did something none of the others expected.  Jesus got up from the table, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples’ feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing. 

To say that the disciples were shocked would be an understatement.  They probably felt uncomfortable too.  This was their Master, their Lord, doing the work of a servant.  Imagine Jesus, the Son of God, getting down on His knees to wash their dirty.  

When the apostles got into an argument about which one of them was the greatest, Jesus told them, “Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone’s friends.  But don’t be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant.  Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn’t it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant” (Luke 22:25-27).  Jesus was the greatest among them but He was a Servant to them.  This isn’t surprising because He said of Himself, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Jesus explained to the disciples, Whichever one of you is the most humble is the greatest” (Luke 9:48, CEV).  Jesus demonstrated this when He washed their feet.  Still, Peter didn’t understand and when it was his turn to get his feet washed, he asked, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6)

Jesus answered, “You don’t really know what I am doing, but later you will understand” (Verse 7).

Peter’s response was,  “You will never wash my feet!” (Verse 8)

And when Jesus told him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me,” Peter wanted Jesus to wash his feet, hands and head too.  He went from one extreme to the next.  That’s typical Peter.

When Jesus was done washing their feet, He explained why He did it.  “Do you understand what I did for you? You call me ‘Teacher.’ And you call me ‘Lord.’ And this is right, because that is what I am. I am your Lord and Teacher. But I washed your feet. So you also should wash each other’s feet. I did this as an example for you. So you should serve each other just as I served you” (Verses 12-15, NKJV).  

In God’s eyes, true greatness is found in humility and in the willingness to serve others just as Jesus did.

Sources:  Bible Gateway; Blue Letter Bible

Lunch with Marcia

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I was so engrossed in the article I was reading on my laptop that I didn’t even notice that Marcia had walked into my office.  I looked up when she tapped on the door frame.  She was smiling broadly.  “It’s April 12 today,” she said.

I stared at her blankly.  She looked great as usual.  I wonder if she knows that I have a “thing” for her.

She came over to my desk.  “Today is my tenth anniversary with the company,” she said.  “Didn’t you read my email?”

“No, I didn’t.  Sorry,” I mumbled as I quickly pulled up my emails and sure enough, there was an unopened one from her.  It wasn’t there before or I would have definitely opened it.  I opened it and read it.  It said, Guess what, Ramesh.  Today’s my tenth anniversary with Catapult.  To celebrate I was wondering if you would like to join me for free barbecue lunch at Joe’s right down the street?

My heart was beating fast with excitement now.  She wanted to celebrate her anniversary with me.   I looked up at her.  “Sure, I’d love to join you,” I said, eagerly.

She smiled, making my heart skip a beat.  “Great.  We’ll leave at twelve-fifteen and get there for Twelve-thirty.  I’ll come and get you.”

I smiled and nodded.  After she left my office, I turned my attention back to the article I was reading but couldn’t concentrate.  I got up from my desk and walked over to the window.

As I looked down at the busy street below, I thought about the times when I wanted to ask Marcia out but was too chicken to do.  I had no idea how she felt about me.  I didn’t know if she would be interested in going out with me.  I’m floored by the fact that she asked me out.  The thought scared and excited me at the same time.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  Maybe this was just what it was–I was going for a free barbecue lunch with a co-worker and nothing more.  Still, the way she looked at me when she was standing in front of my desk and the fact that she came to my office when she didn’t receive a reply to her email encouraged me.

I glanced at my watch.  Two hours to go.  I hope they go by quickly.  I was anxious to leave my office and step out into the bright sunshine.  It was a beautiful day, not your typical spring day, mind you, it was mild.  The weather was in double digits.

I returned to my desk and tried to get some work done.  I will finish reading the article another time.

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I was ready when she popped by my office and as I followed her to the elevators, I felt like I was on my first date with a pretty girl whom I had a major crush on.  I was nervous and prayed that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.  I tried not to stare at her when we were in the elevator but it was hard not to.  She looked amazing in the sleeveless dress which was knee length, revealing very long and shapely calves.  Her thick curly hair fell in unruly waves about her shoulders.  I was tempted to touch them but I kept my hands to myself.

I felt a little hot in my jacket but I wanted to look presentable.  It was a pleasant walk to the restaurant which was filled but we were able to get a table by the window.  Over mouthwatering beef and lamb ribs we talked animatedly about a lot of things.  We had such fun getting to know each other better and sharing funny stories about family and friends.  I was sorry when it was time to head back to the office.

We were alone in the elevator this time.  I turned to her.  This was my chance.  “Marcia, thank you for inviting me to lunch.  I had a great time.  If you’re not busy tomorrow evening, I was hoping that you would have dinner with me.”

She smiled.  “I thought you’d never ask,” she teased.  “Of course, I’d love to.”

My chest swelled and as we exited the elevator and I walked to my office, there was a little spring in my step.  I couldn’t wait for tomorrow evening to come.

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

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.

Assimilation

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Assimilation.  It was something Chaska fought against from the very start.  Much like I tried to fight my attraction and gradual love for him.  We were of different cultures and races.  I always believed that one day after I left college, I would marry a colored man.  Never once did I ever imagine that I would end up falling in love with a Lakota Sioux man.

The moment I saw him, I sensed that I was in grave trouble.  He was bigger than life but at the same time, reserved.  He was strong not just physically but spiritually and mentally.  I was struck by his features—handsome, weather-beaten face, smooth dark skin and long, thick, flowing black hair and his quiet strength.

He and two other Indians enrolled in this historically black college.  It was clear that they felt out of place and resisted wearing the uniforms but I persuaded him to and he them.  He disliked being in a classroom, saying that outdoors would be better– nature would be the classroom.  The desks were set up in the woods behind the college.  Years later, they still sit there, neglected.  As for me, I’ve a happy home elsewhere with Chaska.

 

 

200 Words

This story was inspired by the 1999 movie, Unbowed.  It’s a story about three Lakota Sioux men who enroll in a historically black college, and their reluctance to assimilate causes friction between their black peers. Some come to embrace their similar history, while others remain bitter.  One of them falls in love with a black woman.

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.

Love Lives On/Tranquil #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

I stood there in the secluded spot and tranquil place where we used to meet.  It was our secret place where we could love each other freely.  Back there it was against the law for a white man and a black woman to have relations.  Race mixing as they called it was banned.  The punishment for interracial marriage to be a year in jail and the white person was fined $100 fine.  The person who officiated an interracial wedding was fined $200.  How I hated those laws.  They were passed by ignorant and racist people who couldn’t accept that people of different races could fall in love with each other.

My parents were just as intolerant.  They believed that people should stick to their own kind–you know, to keep the races pure.  They even used the Bible to validate their racist views.  I read the Bible myself and nowhere did it prohibit interracial love.  In fact, there were examples of mixed marriages.  I hated going to a school where blacks weren’t allowed and even church which was to be the temple of the God who created all races, blacks weren’t allowed to worship with us.  I hated living in a state that was so intolerant.  I promised myself that I would leave it as soon as I was old enough.

My parents made sure that I went to the best schools and associated only with those whom they deemed to be socially acceptable–the filthy rich.  They even had it in their heads that one day I would marry Governor Brown’s daughter, Virginia (I can’t believe her parents named her after the state).  Granted, she was a nice girl, very pretty and I could tell that she liked me very much.  We went on dates and such and then, I went away to university.  It was an understanding that we were going steady and that in due time, I would propose.

When I returned from university one summer vacation, my mother told me that we had a new maid, Flora.  The previous one, Berta had been fired.  My parents never told me what happened but I was sore because I really liked Berta.  Well, when I met Flora, I quickly forgot about Berta.  She was much younger than Berta but about ten years older than me.  Flora wasn’t pretty like Virginia but she was very attractive.  She had big brown eyes that didn’t seem to miss a thing, smooth dark skin and a lovely voice.  Sometimes she would sing as she worked.

Once I asked her why didn’t she become a professional singer.  She scoffed and said, “The only thing white folks want colored people like me to do is cook, clean, do the laundry and keep my place.”

Flora had a room built at the back of the house where she would change into her uniform and use the bathroom.  She had special plates and forks to use for her meals.  She was paid $10 a week which in that time was considered good money.

Flora was a bit cynical and who could blame her?  Although she is well paid, she is treated with disrespect and condescension by my parents, relatives and family friends.  There are times when I sit at the dining table and seethe with rage.  The final straw came when Flora accidentally spilled a glass of wine and some of it got on Mrs. Miller, an insufferable and vain woman.  She rose to her feet and struck Flora hard across the face.  “You clumsy n—–,” she cried.  “You’ve ruined my dress.  It’s too bad you can’t be whipped for this.”

My mother didn’t bat an eye.  I couldn’t believe that she wasn’t livid that one of her guests had slapped Flora.  I guess I was foolish to expect her to say something in Flora’s defense.  Instead, she said to her crossly, “Clean that mess up.”

Flora quickly left the room and was back in a seconds to clean the spill.  I wanted to go after her but propriety made me stay put.  I promised myself that I would speak to her before she left this evening.”

“You should fire her, Rosemary,” Mrs. Miller said as she resumed her seat.

“It was an accident!” I said as calmly as I could although, what I really wanted to do was throw the rest of the wine in her sanctimonious face.

“You mind your manners, Boy,” my father scolded.

“You’re excused,” was my mother’s rejoinder.

“Excuse me,” I said as I rose to my feet.  I was happy to leave the table.

I headed straight for the kitchen where Flora was busy washing up the dishes.   I wanted to help but I knew that she wouldn’t let me.  Besides, it would get her into trouble.  I went and stood beside her.  I could see that she had been crying.  I wanted to hug her.  “I’m sorry about what happened just now, Flora,” I said quietly.  “Mrs. Miller had no right to hit you.  You’re a grown woman, not a child.”

“You heard what she called me.  That gives her the right to hit me.”

“Flora, sometimes, I wish I could take you away from all of this.”

“You shouldn’t be saying such things, Master Oliver.”

“But, it’s true, Flora.”

“And where would we go?”

“I don’t know yet but some place where you’re treated better.”

“Right now I can’t think of any place like that except Heaven.”

“Flora, after I graduate from university, I’m going to leave Richmond.  I want you to come with me.”

“Master Oliver, stop talking foolish.”

“Stop calling me Master Oliver,” I retorted.  “I’m just plain Oliver and I’m not talking foolish.  I’m very serious, Flora.”

“I’ll think about it now, go before your mother comes in here and finds us together.”

“All right. I’ll go.  Goodnight, Flora.”

“Goodnight, Mas–Oliver.”

The next morning, she was gone.  My mother had taken Mrs. Miller advice and fired Flora.  I was so upset that I didn’t speak to my mother for weeks.  I found out where Flora lived and the first opportunity, I had, I went to see her.  She was alone.  After I letting her know how upset and furious I was that she had lost her job, I made her promise to meet me that afternoon at the pond where no one ever goes.

I got there first and waited.  As I waited, I picked a bunch of wildflowers I saw there.  Flora would like them.  I bet she never got flowers from anyone before.  I would be the first.  I smiled at the thought.  She showed up five minutes later.  I gave her the flowers and she took them, smiling.  She smelled them.  “Thank you,” she said.  She reached up and kissed me on the cheek.

I felt my face get hot.  I also felt strange sensations in my body.  “You’re welcome, Flora,” I said.

We sat down on the grass and talked and talked.  I loved being with her and I could tell she felt the same way.  We promised to meet there again tomorrow.  She left first and then I left several minutes after.  When I went home, my mother told me that Virginia and her parents were having dinner with us that evening.  It would be the first time I would be seeing Virginia since I’ve been home for the summer.  I was more excited about seeing Flora tomorrow than seeing Virginia that evening.

The evening went well, I suppose.  Virginia didn’t seem to notice that I was preoccupied with my thoughts.  She talked mostly about herself and what she had been up to while I was away at university.  I didn’t make any plans to see her again.  After we parted company, I went up to my room where I remained until the following morning.  As soon as the afternoon came, I was racing down to the pond.  This time Flora was waiting for me.  And she brought two huge slices of an apple pie she had baked.  After we ate them, we went for a swim.

Afterwards, we lay in the sun.  We talked about different things and then, I rolled onto my side and looked down at her.  She had her eyes closed.  The strange sensations stir inside me again and this time, I lowered my head and kissed her.  She didn’t push me away or slap me in the face.  Instead, she reached up and put her arms around my neck.  We ended up making love for the first time.

Day after day we met there in our secluded spot until one day we were discovered by Virginia’s brother and his friends.  I was promptly sent back to Atlanta where I spent the rest of the summer until it was time to return to university.  I don’t know what happened to Flora.  No one would tell me anything.  I was devastated because I was madly in love with her.  I wanted to marry her.

When I returned to Virginia, I went to her house.  At that point I didn’t care what people said or did or thought.  All I wanted was to see Flora.  However, when I went to her house, the neighbors said that she was gone.  They had no idea where she had gone.

Dejected, I returned to Atlanta where I tried to forget about her.  I even got married to a nice girl named Amy and we had a boy.  Time passed but the memories of my summer with Flora never faded.  I still yearned to see her.  I still loved her and no amount of time would make me forget about her.

After Amy died, I tried to see if I could find out any information about Flora.  I wish I had a photo of her that I could have put on Facebook but I didn’t.  In spite of these setbacks and disappointments, I haven’t stopped hoping that one day I will see her again.

It’s 2018 and summer again here in Richmond.  I’m here by the pond, allowing myself to relive the happiest memories of my entire life.  I look at the wild flowers and smile.  I will never forget the spark in Flora’s beautiful eyes when I gave them to her.  If she were here now, I would give her another bunch.

“Mr. Jones?” a voice called out and startled, I turned.

It was a young African American girl.  “Yes,” I replied.  “I’m Mr. Jones.  Who are you?”

She came closer.  “I’m Regina.  I was told that I might find you here.  Someone asked me to give this to you.”  She held out a letter sized brown envelope.”

I took it.  It didn’t have any address.  It only had my name written neatly at the front.  “Who asked you to give this to me?”

“My grandmother, Flora.”

My heart caught in my throat.  Flora.  I sat down on the tuft of grass and eagerly opened the envelope.  I pulled out a letter and some photos.  I looked at the photos first.  They were of Flora and a lovely little girl.  She looked so much like Flora but much fairer in complexion.

With trembling fingers, I unfolded the letter and read it.  Halfway through, I started to cry.  Flora was pregnant when she left Richmond.  She wanted me to know about Olivia and wrote to me at the university several times but all of her letters were returned.  She never got married, she said because there was only one man whose wife she wanted to be.

I looked up at Regina who was standing beside me.  “Where’s Flora?” I asked.  I longed to see her.

“I’m sorry, grandfather, but she died this morning.”

I broke down at that point.  Regina dropped to her knees and put her arms around me.  The only thing that gave me any comfort was the knowledge that Flora and I have a daughter and a granddaughter.  Our love will live on through them and generations to come.

Those we love are never really lost to us–for everywhere their special love lives on – Amanda Bradley

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

 

Sources: The Washington Post; The Post and Courier

 

 

 

 

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