WEP'S AUGUST 2020 CHALLENGE, THE LONG SHADOW by Pat Garcia

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WC: 497

 

Jamie finished her late morning coffee.  Speculating over the afternoon ahead of her, she left the café for her next appointment and decided to walk.  In her own world, calculating figures that would sum up her presentation, the shadow walking beside her broke the rhythm of her pace. She stopped. The shadow stopped too. Turning to face the person, she frowned. He smiled.

  She'd seen the man in the café.  He'd kept staring at her. She'd smirked and muttered under her breath that he'd probably never seen a naturally dark-skinned woman with braids in a café at eleven-thirty in the morning drinking coffee. Then, she had taken notice of the clientele around her and grinned. She had been the only one again.

Jamie executed an eighty-degree turn and picked up her pace. He didn't look like a creep, and why would he be following her. Coincidences of this kind never happened to her, and she chalked it up to her nervousness before her presentation. She increased her walking pace and lengthened her stride.

She glanced at the sidewalk. The second shadow remained beside her. The man had picked up his pace, too, but no longer encroached on her space.

Reaching her destination, Jamie entered the revolving doors and saw the man's back recede in the distance as he continued on.

Strange, maybe I reminded him of someone he knew

Putting the shadow behind her, Jamie soared at her presentation. She was, after all, in her element, proving to a room filled with men that women were just as good as strategizing as they were. Her strategical planning in the area of space aeronautics was known, and her plan was readily accepted with no changes.  When she looked out of the massive window in the conference room, the evening sun was slowly going down.  Her day had been successful. She packed her briefcase and departed the conference, smiling. Even though it was a bit cooler than the heat of the day, she decided to walk back to her hotel.

She smugly contemplated what she'd accomplish and lost herself in her world again. Looking down at the pavement, Jamie saw a shadow and glanced to her right. The same man who had walked beside her at noon was next to her again.

"Are you following me?" she asked.

"No," said the man, "I'm walking beside you. Don't you remember me?"

"Quite honestly, no. Who are you?"

"Gavino," he said. "We went to the same university years ago."

"My, you have changed," Jamie said. He'd just started, and she was in the last year of her Ph.D. in aeronautical science when she met him. She'd taken him under her wing and helped him adjust to a country foreign to him and a university system that was totally unlike his own. "Why didn't you tell me that this morning?

"Because I know how you are when you are thinking deeply. You always lose yourself in your world. You haven't changed since…"

 

Shalom aleicchem,

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Pat Garcia

 

 


WEP'S JUNE 2020 URBAN NIGHTMARE CHALLENGE, THE KIDNAPPINGS By Pat Garcia

 

WEP June ChallengeWC: 989

 

 

Shrill screaming woke Zelda. She scooted nearer to Beno, thinking she was dreaming. Beno put his arm around her, bringing her closer, and kept sleeping.

The shrieks came again, and this time sobs accompanied them. Zelda raised herself to look over at the clock on Beno’s nightstand. What woman would be walking around at two-thirty in the morning screaming and sobbing outside of their bedroom window? She immediately thought about the missing women from their urban neighborhood, and her heart sank.

“Not again,” she murmured. Six women had already disappeared without a trace. The police were helpless, and Zelda trembled in Beno’s arms. Was it happening again?

“Beno, wake up!” She whispered, frantically shaking his shoulder.

“What My Sweet? Can’t you sleep?” Beno said, drowsily.

“I think I heard a woman screaming and sobbing outside by our bedroom window.”

Beno took a deep breath and opened his eyes. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Now, come to your senses,” Zelda pleaded.

Beno released Zelda quickly and sprang out of bed. Three women, two teenage girls, and an eleven-year-old had vanished into thin air in their urban neighborhood over the past three weeks.

“Where did you hear the noise, Zelda?” Beno asked as he got dressed.

“From outside Marcus’s house that faces our bedroom. They were horrible sounds of helplessness mixed with tears.”

“I’m going to take a look outside.”

“I’m going with you,” Zelda said, getting out of bed.

“No, you’ll stay here.”

“No, I won’t,” Zelda said and put on a knee-length Mou Mou dress that he’d bought her while on a mission in Hawaii.

 

When they got outside, Beno thought he saw light shining in Marcus’s house. He didn’t care for Marcus since he’d caught him photographing Zelda’s derriere two or three times with a lewd nasty smile. That ended his association with him.

A chill went over him, and he took hold of Zelda’s hand. “My Sweet,” he mumbled, “stay close to me.”

They walked the entire street on the side where their house stood but saw and heard nothing. At the end, they crossed over to the opposite side to return to their home.  

“My Sweet, let’s go back to bed. I’ll ride in and talk with Giovanni, who’s in charge of the precinct when we get up.”

Halfway up the stairs, their doorbell rang and Beno eyebrows furrowed.  Beno walked back down with Zelda trailing behind him. Before he opened the door, he sensed that it had happened again.  Their deaf neighbors from across the street stood before them anguished and distraught, and his wife was crying.

In sign language, Jay explained their anguish. Adaolisa, their adopted  fifteen-year-old daughter, wasn’t in her room. Jay and Veronica maintained their independence and didn’t have to live in a complex for disabled people because Adaolisa was living with them.


Beno invited them in and called and woke up Giovanni, who was also his best friend, while Zelda made coffee.

When Gio arrived, Beno signed language and interpreted the conversation for everyone.  Giovanni promised the couple he would do what he could, but he had little hope. With Adaolisa, seven females were now missing from the same urban neighborhood of upper-middle-class families. His whole precinct was puzzled about the methods used to lure the females out of their homes. In fact, the husbands of the three married women had been sleeping next to them and hadn’t noticed a thing until the next morning.  

Zelda stayed overnight with the deaf couple and got up the next morning when they awoke and went home. Beno was unable to sleep for fear of Zelda disappearing.  The scene with Marcus taking photographs of Zelda’s derriere kept flashing across his mind. He’d never told Zelda because he hadn’t wanted to upset her. Now, he wished he had. Zelda was his heart.

                                    ***

Zelda was cooking breakfast while Beno sat at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper’s digital print. The title story caused him to groan.

The picture of Adaolisa stared back at him. Her innocent eyes, short-braided hair, and dark, brown skin reminded him of Zelda.

His instinct sharpened as he studied her photo. Like a foxhound, he could hear her. Adaolisa was still in the area.

“My Sweet, watch Marcus’s house and let me know when he leaves,” Beno said as he looked at the picture.

“He’s not there. I saw him leave ten minutes ago.” Zelda said.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Zelda replied. “What do you want from Marcus?”

“Nothing, my sweet Zelda. I want to break into his house and investigate his living space. Early this morning, I thought I saw light in his house when we went outside to check the street, but when I looked again, the light was out.”

“Oh Beno, do you think  he’s been kidnapping the females in our area?” Zelda asked, worriedly.

“I don’t know, My Sweet. I’m acting on a hunch that won’t let loose of me,” and Beno looked again at the innocent eyes of Adaolisa.

Getting up from the table, he walked to the kitchen door, and Zelda started to follow him.

“Stay here, and that’s an order! Beno said sternly. “Call  Giovanni and tell him what I’m doing. I may need his help if Marcus comes back while I’m sniffing around. And call me on my mobile and let it ring once,  if you see him come home, and I’ll know to get the hell out of there.”

 

Zelda kept her cool. This was not the first time since Beno’s Sabbatical that he’d done some snooping around and required her help. She picked up her mobile to do as he commanded. 

Afraid that she would miss something, she turned off the oven and stood alert before the window.

 Fifteen minutes later, Zelda breathed a sigh of relief. Beno was coming out of Marcus’s house, talking on his mobile.

Behind him were seven females, and the first one was Adaolisa.

The End

 

Shalom aleichem,

2C21AC18-308E-4EA2-AC14-AD2CED835E65_1_201_a

Pat Garcia

 


THE WEP CHALLENGE, April 15, 2020, Flowers with a Promise by Pat Garcia

 

Antique vase WEP

 

WC: 935

Zelda tossed and turned from one side to the other in the king-size bed belonging to her and Beno. Quieting herself, she lay spooned on her right side and stared at the chipped brownish red-toned vase. As ugly as it was, it radiated the only hope she had. Like a persistent gnawing in her spirit that refused to think negatively, the vessel fanned the flame in her that Beno was alive.

Since he’d slithered into their new home on her birthday to surprise her, she’d heard nothing else from him. Tears escaped her eyes. He’d received a thirty-six-hour pass and hadn’t allowed her to ask any questions about how he got it. Instead, he’d rushed her out of their home and taken her to the flea market. There, he’d shown her what he’d discovered. His face had lit up when he pointed to the chipped antique vase. Even though it was the ugliest vase Zelda had ever seen, Beno’s lips had kissed and caressed it while scrutinizing its damages as if it were a precious jewel.

She’d asked him why that vase. There were others so much prettier.

His head had slanted slightly toward her, and his eyes had locked her in place.

“Chipped, Zelda,” he’d said. “The vase’s disfigurements display its inner beauty and its strength. Don’t you think so?”

 He’d purchased it for more than it was worth and handed it to her. “For your birthday, my sweet Zelda.”

 They had returned home, and he’d taken it to their bedroom and placed it on the nightstand by his side of the bed. “Think of us every time you turn toward where I sleep and see the vase,” Beno had said, and he had taken her in his arms.

Afterward, exhausted from their lovemaking, she’d fallen asleep with her head lying on his chest, listening to his heartbeat.

Beno snuck away just as he had come.  Suddenly. Since then, fresh purple and white orchids with one bloody red rose in the middle appeared on their doorsteps every two weeks with a four-word text––to fill the vase.

                                    ***

Zelda turned over and grabbed her mobile from her nightstand. Two-twenty-eight, she thought. The number twelve, a semi-perfect number.

No sleep again tonight.

She got up, removed her headscarf, picked out her fluffy afro, and went into the kitchen to make an old-fashioned cup of hot chocolate. Taking milk out of the fridge, she measured out two cups and set it on the stove to boil and went to her upper cupboard. She took out the chocolate powder she used whenever she made a German Chocolate cake for Beno. He liked the glazed, rich, creamy frosting. When she’d complain that the cake wasn’t good for her hips, he would grin and say, “Zelda, my sweet, I love your wide hips.”

She looked at the wall clock. One year and three days would be over at five-fifteen in the afternoon. She grabbed a big spoon to stir the milk before it boiled over. Once again, tears accumulated in her eyes.

Since his thirty-six-hour pass, seven months ago, she hadn’t heard from him. No letter, no email, no telegraph, and no text message. Only the flowers delivered on her doorsteps twice a month gave her some reassurance that he was out there somewhere in the world and still breathing.

Taking her box of chocolate powder, she poured enough in the milk to make it creamy and dark. The mixture bubbled, and she set it aside and went to the cupboard to pull out Beno’s cup. It was her favorite. She always used his cup when he wasn’t there. Filling the cup one-fourth full, she carried it to the bar in their living room and took out the bottle of  King Louis XIII cognac that Beno had bought for special occasions.

She poured King Louis to the brim of the cup and went to sit in Beno’s recliner. Sipping slowly, her tears reappeared, flowing over the rims of her eyes and running down her face like two streams.

The hot chocolate that she drank hit her like bales of hay falling out of a loft. She sat the half-full cup on the end table beside her and closed her eyes.

                                                        ***

 Zelda smelled fresh coffee and bacon.

Am I dreaming?

She gripped the arms of the recliner to stand up and fell backward. Her head throbbed.

Okay, have I entered the pearly gates without knowing it?

The sound of footsteps in the kitchen alerted her. She moved to get up again, and dizziness forced her back in the recliner. Zelda groaned loudly.

“Careful, my sweet,” Beno said, walking out of the kitchen into the open dining room area with a plate of bacon. “You’ve got a very nasty hangover.”

“When did you return?”

He sat the bacon on the table and went to her and leaned over. "About an hour ago."

“No, my breath stinks.”

“Who cares?” Beno took his kiss. “Breakfast is almost ready, and I’ve run you a bath.”

Discombobulated and shocked, Zelda had so many questions, she didn’t know where to start.

“Do you have to go again?”

“Not soon.”

“How long do we have?” Zelda said, trying to assimilate in her mind that she was not dreaming. Beno was home.

“Until April 2023.”

“What?” Zelda shouted in unbelief. “How?”

“The vase, my sweet.”

“What has that vase got to do with 2023?”

“Oh, my sweet Zelda,” Beno said. “I admire that chipped vase because it reminds me of you. It has inspired me to take a sabbatical to treasure what we have.”

The End.

Shalom aleichem,

2C03E7BC-D7B1-4D44-B5F2-F0E26E463ACB

Pat Garcia


WEP CHALLENGE, February 2020, GOODBYE UNTIL...By Pat Garcia

FEB CHALLENGE WEP 2020

 

 

GOODBYE UNTIL...

 

Storms raged within Zelda.  Even though seven years had passed, her dichotomous relationship with Beno still reverberated in her gut.  In contrast to what she had once thought, the young man that had overwhelmed her with his confessions of love was still an active part of her life, knitted like yarn into her heart.  The intensity of their love grew stronger with each passing year.

True, she’d always been a joyful, adventurous person and a hopeless optimist that loved unconditionally, but when she’d turn fifty-five, she’d tried to keep these characteristics hidden. Such traits didn’t become a woman of her age; her friends told her. Meeting Beno changed that. He unlocked the door to those traits and threw away the key. Now, they bubbled over everywhere.   

 

Zelda contemplated as she sat at the table in the back corner facing the street. That’s what lovers do at Café Terrace, Beno had once told her.  They order coffee, or a latte, sweet, with a shot of whiskey, or a Cognac and wait on their love ones.

Zelda sipped her coffee and closed her eyes.   “Delicious,” she murmured and opened her eyes to look at the crowd and see if she could pick Beno out. She would know him anywhere.  

Above her head, the clouds had darkened. A storm was gathering, and she hoped he would arrive soon.  She wanted to enjoy what little time they had.

No call, no email, just a one-line text with five words: Meet me at half-past four, had thrown her into a tempest to get things done so she wouldn’t be late.

Zelda leaned against the back of her chair at the Café Terrace. Her watch said half-past four.   She frowned.   

Beno, where are you?

Hanging her head low, memories of the times they had sat in the same spot warmed her heart.   She was grateful for those afternoons. Beno would whisper sweet nothings to her as she drank her cappuccino, and he, his café with whiskey. They never paid attention to the passers-by. Time didn’t permit them to dream about what others were thinking or doing. 

The secrecy that required Beno to duck into a crime-infested underworld to ensure justice shaped their relationship, making them mindful of each other, caring beyond the petty, meaningless cliché of a simple I love you.  

Was that what Van Gogh needed too, Zelda thought. Someone to care for him as she and Beno cared for each other.

She lowered her head and wiped away unexpected tears. She wanted Beno to remember her laughter, not her tears.  She represented his safe haven.

               ***

Beno moved swiftly toward his destination, thinking, first, a long French kiss and then a café with a triple shot of whiskey, and afterward, the hotel nearby.  He picked up his pace. They didn’t have time to return to their home.  As he neared the café, his expectancy rose.

A twelve-month drop behind an iron wall of silence meant sporadic or no news from the woman he loved. Unlike any other, Zelda had proven to him that some things were worth looking forward to. He always departed with the desire to return, to be near her.   Her chubby hips and the way she rested her hands on them when angry, her dark chocolate skin that reminded him of his favorite chocolate mousse, her coarse nappy Afro that gave her the regal look of a queen drew him into a world different than what he worked in and made him forget the ugliness he encountered.  

His hand went to the breast pocket of his jacket. His fingers rubbed the tiny pouch which held a small trinket for his Zelda. Something he hoped would take away the sting of his having to go away so soon.  He usually had more time with her, but the recent deaths in another team had caused alarm, and his team had been chosen on short notice to slip into a world that so many ordinary citizens knew nothing about to find out what went wrong. Before he left, though, he needed to see her sweet round face with her hazelnut eyes sparkling with laughter. It would help him maintain his mental stability while away.  

Would she dye her hair again? He asked himself.  He liked her grey strands. They displayed her wisdom and made her look like a queen––his queen. Would she lose weight? He hoped not. The last time he disappeared for nine months, he’d come back to find her fifteen pounds lighter. Not good. He fattened her up at once.

Beno stopped in the middle of the crowd, scoping out the Café Terrace, barely taking notice of the people who walked past him.  There she was, hardly noticeable but exactly where they always sat. He crossed over.  As he approached the table, Zelda was the only person who registered in his awareness. Twelve-month and three days would be an awfully long time to be separated from the love of his life.  She sat there, oblivious to his presence.  Her head hung down, her medium-sized Afro standing tall, twinkling at him.    

“Are you sitting alone, Madame?”

Zelda lifted her head and jumped up. The chair fell backward, and Beno took her in his arms, captured her mouth, and took his French kiss.

                                                      The End

 

Thank you for reading and all the best.

Shalom aleichem,

2C21AC18-308E-4EA2-AC14-AD2CED835E65_1_201_a

Pat Garcia


WEP DECEMBER 2019 CHALLENGE, FOOTPRINTS OF CHANGE by Pat Garcia

 

B9FDACAA-1E43-4B6A-B771-29D82D088259_4_5005_c

 

 

WC: 593

 

The tide rolled in. Water covered her feet and rose ankle-deep. Jamie pivoted one hundred eighty degrees to go back the way she came. But the water was everywhere. Her footprints washed away. Trees surrounded her, and the water had now risen knee-deep, flowing through her legs, almost touching her knees.

A slow motioned about-face put her face to face with the sea, threatening to make her a forgotten fatality never to be found. Jamie stood still contemplating, trying not to panic as she considered her options. A forest thickened and darkened by leaves that restricted the light or a sea that she knew she couldn't swim across.

Jamie studied the sea as she listened to the voices in her head. What had started out as an afternoon stroll to clear her head and to think over new plans that would challenge her and affect her destiny had become a bizarre test of her courage to outlive a high tide. Jamie pondered over how long it would take the water to recede and go back to where it came from. The water sloshed against her legs, reminding her that seas and oceans remained, but the water didn't climb higher. At least the sea was not one of those angry Gods, she thought. Not wanting to appear afraid, Jamie turned again to look at the trees. She didn't want to wait for the tide to ebb or stand in one spot for what seemed like forever and never change.

Movement was what she needed, but movement toward where?

The trees, silly, she thought. People who cared for her would be worried. How could she have been so ignorant as to forget the strong tidal waves in this part of the world?

Jamie began walking, creating her own waves as she waded through the water in the forest. Stopping, she walked to one of the trees and leaned against it and took off her shoes. Deciding to walk with her bare feet, Jamie stepped forward, and her right foot sunk into something profound. She screamed and bent down to touch what she had stepped into. Wax shaped into a footprint of someone or something whose feet were more massive than hers. Jamie shook her head. Whoever would leave a wax footprint in a forest. Not being able to identify the print due to light sparsely let into the woods by leaves on the trees, Jamie tapped until she touched the next print, hoping that the footprints would lead her back to civilization and her friends.

It would soon be time for dinner. Would anyone of them miss her or would they think she needed time to be alone to herself?

Jamie sighed. She shut and opened her eyes rapidly, to make sure she was seeing correctly. No longer at her knees, the water was receding, returning slowly back to where it belonged. She looked up at the trees and noticed that more light shone through than before. She could see bits and pieces of the sky. Then, the strangest thing happened. The waxed footprints evolved into piles of sand.

No one would believe her she thought as she reached the edge of the forest and walked away. Footprints out of wax that reverted to sand as the water rolled back. Unlikely, her friends would say in a polite way and think she was nutty again.

Jamie grunted. The suspension of unbelief had bred into belief and had become a reality for her. Something that she would let no one take away. The impossible had become possible, and she would cherish the moment forever.

                                     ***

 

 

Merry Christmas Everyone and have a safe crossover into 2020.

 

Shalom aleichem,

9A2E9EAA-90CB-4034-85D1-150C63835C91_1_201_a

Pat Garcia


WEP, OCTOBER 2019 CHALLENGE, BARREN! A HORRIBLE HARVEST, A Poem by Pat Garcia

October harvest

 

 

 

 

 



Barren!

Dried, red, sand,

Layered in its elevation as far as her eyes could see.

Thicker than dark, dried, red, blood,

A color that haunted her.

No flowers,

Not even the heads of weeds sprang through from the dark, red, bloodied ground before her.

 

 

Stripped of its fruitfulness.

Beaten down by the hot red sun,

The land was barren.

Its fertility annihilated.

Listless,

Lifeless

But she could relate.

 

 

Night dreams whispered harshly when she slept,

Vile taunts, hideous laughter at her ludicrous situation.

She waited desperately,

Hoping each night, his seed would finally unite with her seed.

So, she could stop dreaming.

 

 

Stop hearing,

The hatred rasp of the man above her.

Stop seeing,

 The hostile stares of the women in the village.

Stop feeling,

The pit of her isolation.

 

Why?

Was something wrong... with her?

Him, it could not be, he’d said.

His ability to impregnate, he’d never questioned.

Had she tricked him into marrying an infertile womb, he’d asked?

 

 

Barren!

Tears moistened her eyes.

She’d hoped her empty womb would bring forth the fetus he demanded.

Had hoped last month's beating would have been the last,

And she could rest in peace,

If only for nine months.

 

 

Barren, she muttered,

Her head hung low.

What a horrible way to try and bring forth a harvest?

Coerced,

Just like the dried, red, sand,

Which yielded no flowers, no weeds,

Intimidated by the sun.

 

 

Her womb produced no embryo.

 

 

Closing her eyes, she dreaded the upcoming night.

His return,

The scathing words,

The first shove,

The backhand hit,

Her stinging face.

Her plea for mercy.

 

If only she could deliver the first egg,

So, he could marvel at the results of his impartation,

Her beatings would stop.

Her womb could rest from his brutal attacks,

And her barrenness would be no more.

 

 

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat Garcia


Many Thanks! It Is Encouraging To Be Encouraged, by Pat Garcia

RedWheelbarrow6_Pat

 

Hello Everyone, 

The WEP Winners have been announced. The competition was stiff. There were so many great entries. Every year the step ladder of the WEP rises higher. 

Congratulations to the Winner, Kalpana, and to the Runner-up, Cyndi Summerlin. As for the Encouragement Award, it went to me, Pat Garcia,  and I am truly thankful. 

Have a great day.

Shalom aleichem,

Pat Garcia


The WEP CHALLENGE, AUGUST, 2019, THE RED WHEELBARROW by Pat Garcia

 

Netta scrutinized the red wheelbarrow placed before the floor to ceiling window of the living room.

 

That wheelbarrow isn’t just attractive, but it’s a downright elixir for the soul.

 

She stood between the doorframe of the door, across the hall from the living room, admiring and examining the object of her curiosity. It stood so majestically before the window in its bright red color as if it was giving a queenly audience. She could have sworn the thing was smiling at her.  

 

Her husband, Jonathan, had turned it into a flower bed. He had chosen the living room stating that he could admire his handy work when he returned home every evening.   

 

Netta shook her head.  In the sunlight, the red wheelbarrow seemed to wink, but a wheelbarrow couldn’t wink or could it? 

 

Filled with red carnations, bright lilies, and purple and white orchids, the red wheelbarrow had changed Jonathan. He was no longer the man she’d married over a year ago.  

 

Netta laughed at her first reaction to Jonathan’s discovery. The normally depressive, surly and non-talkative man had come home and burst into her bedroom full of excitement.   He’d found something he said, that she just had to see. She’d been curious. Since she’d known him, she’d never seen him get excited over anything. She went out with him that day to see what had put a smile on his face.

 

She’d met Jonathan at her favorite Italian restaurant. She’d been sitting at a corner table with a big plate of spaghetti and a mozzarella and tomato salad. She’d just happened to look toward the entrance door of the restaurant and had gazed directly into the saddest but prettiest eyes she’d ever seen. He’d stared back at her and then had walked to her table and asked if she minded him sitting with her.   Her mouth had been full of spaghetti, and the only way she could answer him, without spilling the food out of her mouth had been to nod in acceptance.

 

Jonathan had ordered after introducing himself and then began asking her questions which made her hesitant. When he’d asked her about her marital status, her eyebrows had furrowed, and her heartbeat had quickened. She’d not been so sure that it had been a good idea to let him sit at her table. Then, Jonathan assured her that he was no danger to her but was looking for a person to share his home with. He’d said he wanted the comfort of knowing that a trustworthy person was living with him and needed a wife but not one to share his bed. Just a faithful wife to be there. In fact, he’d insisted on putting that clausal in their marriage agreement.  

 

At first, Netta didn’t believe nor trust him. She thought he was some kind of ax murder or a cannibal who wanted to kill and eat her. Her vivid imagination had her already packed away in plastic freezer bags in small portions in his freezer. With her chubby size thighs and big arms and breasts, she was quite sure, Jonathan would have had enough meat for a year.

 

Netta really didn’t know why a man from out of nowhere was asking her, a stranger, to marry him. What she did know was that she said yes.

 

No one gets an invitation to marry just for the sake of keeping someone company.

 

 

Four months ago, Jonathan began restoring the rusty, erosive wheelbarrow. She had watched him through the window every day astonished over his patience and how painstakingly he would grind away the rust. Day by day, he ground, and soon Netta could see a bit of metal on the front side of the wheelbarrow. The more Jonathan rubbed, the more she saw rusty erosive spots vanished, and metal appeared until there was no rust at all.

 

 

It was as he began to prime the wheelbarrow that Netta noticed a change in him personally. He was no longer, surly, and sad when he returned home. His eyes seemed brighter, and he became more attentive to her, bringing her chocolates, or earrings, or flowers.

 

Netta let out a deep breath. She’d never thought a red wheelbarrow would bring two people close to each other.

 

After two months of working on the wheelbarrow, Jonathan had finished priming it and then started painting it red. The first coat of red paint brought him into her bedroom.

 

“Can it be true that red awakes passion?” Netta asked, talking to herself.

 

Red surely did something to Jonathan, but the change started with the wheelbarrow.

 

Netta had no answers. She could only say that Jonathan no longer had sad eyes. They were still the prettiest she’d ever seen, but now they sparkled, and she saw joy, and her bedroom had become theirs.

 

                                                                                                       ***

 

 

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat Garcia

 


THE WEP CHALLENGE, JUNE 2019, CAGED BIRDS DON'T SING By Pat Garcia

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Kathie Mae sat and stared at her surroundings; everything was in place just like he liked it.

The cream coloured sofa just at the right angle, three meters away but right in front of the large floor to ceiling window that faced the street before their house. The window sparkled. The brightness from the sun shining heftily through it. The mahogany wood piano, opened, displaying its ivory black and white keys, and a portrait of her hanging over it, singing.

 

Kathie Mae looked at the portrait and examined the eyes of the woman she no longer knew. Yes, the eyes in the picture were brighter, livelier, and mischievous filled with hope and the desire to conquer the world. Where had all that gone?

 

The clock ticked away the minutes; her heartbeat quickened with every passing minute.

Soon he would be home.  In an hour or two, Kathie Mae would have to stop her wandering mind from going back to the past.  

Whoever thought that having everything that money could buy meant fulfilment had to be gravely disturbed she thought and heard Louisa knock softly on the living room door.

“Come in, Louisa.”

“I don’t mean to disturb you, but I’ll be leaving soon. Is there anything else you want me to do?”

“No,” Kathie Mae said and gave her a hollow smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “What are you going to do this weekend, Louisa?”

“I’m going to do what I do here every day,” Louisa said. “I’m going to clean my house.”

Kathie Mae chuckled. She’d talked to Cesare about reducing Louisa’s days to three times a week, but he’d insisted that she had to come every day except Sunday. When he returned home, he wanted to see an orderly, well-kept house without any clutter. That when she’d begun to notice that well-kept meant everything including her.

“Well, take some time to enjoy your Sunday, Louisa. Everybody needs rest.”

“I will.  If I had a husband like yours, I’d be in Heaven,” Louisa said. “It would be so nice to wake up and not have to do anything.”

Kathie Mae shuddered at Louisa’s words. The woman didn’t know what she was asking for.

Would she really like living in a cage?  The changes Kathie Mae had had to undergo bombarded her mind.

 

 

Black men love long hair, white men love afros, but what about what women like. Were there no women in the world outside of the Stepford Wives?  

Cesare had told her to get rid of her coils. Why were they so distasteful and unruly for him? Afro, he’d shouted, Afro!  An Afro was what Cesare expected her to wear. Little by little, he’d whittled away at her until she’d become the pretty hull that he wanted her to be.

Soon, she didn’t recognise who she was. When she looked into her mirror, she saw Cesare’s creation. The one he wanted to come home too. She’d managed to save only a tiny small piece of who she was hidden deep inside her and would visit whenever she could.

 

 

“Are you alright, Ms. Kathie Mae?” Louisa asked, frowning.

She had drifted so deep into the small piece of herself that she’d forgotten that Louisa was standing before her.

“Yes…Louisa. I’m sorry…No need to tell Mr. Domenico…about this. I…was just thinking about what you said,” Kathie Mae said.

“Okay, I won’t mention it this time, but I don’t want you to slip away like that. You scared me. Mr. Domenico said it’s dangerous when you slip away.”

“I’m alright, Louisa. I didn’t slip away. I was just thinking about what you said, ”Kathie Mae repeated even though she didn’t remember what Louisa had said.

“Good, then I would like to leave early if it is alright with you,” Louisa said.

“Sure, why don’t you do that,” Kathie Mae said, “I’m waiting on Cesare to come home just as he wants me too.”

“When are you going to sing again?” Louisa asked.

“Sing? Oh yes…I did sing once, didn’t I.”

“Why don’t you know, Ms. Kathie Mae?”  Louisa asked. “You sing so beautifully, with heart and soul.”

“One day…Louisa…one day, I’ll tell you all about it,” Kathie Mae said. “Now go home.”

 

 

Kathie Mae heard the front door close and listened as Louisa turned the key in the lock.

She walked to the living room window and stood so Louisa could see that she was in the house. A fake smile on her face, Kathie Mae waved at Louisa. “

Caged birds don’t sing, Louisa. “They dressed as puppets without souls. Caged birds don’t sing,” Kathie Mae murmured while waving to Louisa.

 

Kathie Mae went back to the sofa to sit before the window, so Cesare could see her when he came home and looked at the window from the sidewalk.  He would wave. She would wave back. He would walk up the steps and open the door to the cage and say darling before he locked the cage for the weekend.

Caged Birds don’t sing.

 

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat G


WEP CHALLENGE, APRIL 2019, The Alabaster Box by Pat Garcia

 

 

 

Jewel box

 

The Alabaster Box

by

Pat Garcia

999 Words

Eula sat on the sofa next to Francesco staring at the box in front of them that she’d placed on the coffee table. Francesco, whom Eula called Cesco, had pulled her close to him; her head lay on the left side of his chest, as she snuggled close to him.

“What do you think is in it, Cesco?” She murmured.

“I don’t know, Eula,” Cesco said. He caressed her arms with his fingertips. He didn’t like it when he came home and found her confused and devastated from situations suddenly thrust upon her. His job gave her enough reason to worry.  He needed her to be happy when he held her in his arms.  “What did the people at customs say when you picked it up? Did you have to open it and pay tax?”

“They said the weight was five pounds,” Eula said and sighed deeply. “Because it took twelve years to get here, I guess they winked an eye and just gave me the box.” She shivered. The only time she ever trembled was when she felt Cesco was in danger. Other than that, she never trembled. So, why was she shaking now?

Lying with her head against his chest, Eula’s mind went back to the conversation she’d had with her aunt two years before she died. Her aunt had told her, she’d sent her a box but had not told her what was in it. It was supposed to be a surprise, but the box never showed up. Eula thought her aunt had put the wrong address on the box, and it had just disappeared.  Now, her aunt had been dead for ten years. How could a box get lost for twelve years and then show up she asked herself? “One thing for sure, I won’t know if it's the surprise package that I should have received from my aunt twelve years ago until I open it,” she said.

She felt Cesco’s chest shake. He was always the one with humor. Cesco could find laughter in everything even though he faced death every time he left their home to carry out the job that he loved so dear.  “What’s so funny, Cesco?”

“The situation.  Your aunt has sprung another surprise on you. I never met her, but I’m quite sure she planned for the box to be delivered twelve years later.” His chest continued to shake as he said, “From what you’ve told me she was quite a character.”

“You’re too funny, Francesco Abramo.”

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Eula removed her head from his chest and sat up straight. She leaned toward the table before them and picked up the mysterious box.

Francesco handed her the scissors.  “Open it, Tresore mio,” he said. “That’s the only way we will solve this mystery.”

“I can’t believe that a box from my aunt takes twelve years to get to me,” Eula said, taking the scissors. “It’s unreal.”

“Eula, since I’ve known you, I can believe anything. So, open the box. If it is the package from your aunt there is a reason why she wanted to surprise you, and it’s in that box, and maybe it came at the right, appointed time like you say to me all the time. “

Eula cut along the sides of the box carton and lifted the lid upward. Twelve-year-old newspaper greeted her. Looking at the date of the publication in astonishment, memories of her childhood danced before her eyes. She could see herself as the little dark-skinned Eula with a broom in her hand, not quite five years of age trying to sweep her aunt’s porch.  She pulled back the paper wrapping and handed it to Cesco. “It’s news from my aunt’s country village.”

“Eula,” Cesco said, reading the headlines. “A lot was going on when you were little.”

“There was always a lot going on Cesco. My aunt kept the most of it hidden from me. I only got bit and pieces that a child my age couldn’t understand.” She smiled at the memory of her aunt’s thwarted attempts to stop her from asking too many questions; her smiled widened as she took an alabaster box out of the carton. As she turned the box slightly sideways, light sounds like balls rolled inside the box. Why in the world would her aunt send her an alabaster box? Nothing made sense.

“Tresore mio, open it. I’m getting impatient,” Francesco said.

“Cesco, I’ve never seen you impatient. You’re so patient with me.”

Francesco chuckled. “I’ve got to take care of my little old lady. After all, you’re older than I, and I want to have you around me forever.”

“Ha, ha, ha,” Eula said and opened the Alabaster box. Five beautifully colored alabaster eggs laid loosely within. She shook her head totally perplexed. Why did her aunt send her five beautifully colored alabaster eggs? Picking one up Eula noticed that it had an incision all around the middle. Taking the egg in her hand, she lifted the top part of the egg. Eula’s eyes widened. She turned to Francesco. “This is amazing,” she mumbled. “Where did she get the money?”

“She probably saved it up all her life,” Francesco said, “See if the other eggs have slits.”

They did, and Eula lifted the top part of each egg. Each had a sparkling surprise.

Francesco let out a hearty laugh at the puzzled look on Eula’s face. “If customs had known what was in the box, they would have called an inspector to judge the value of those sparkling babies.  Your aunt was quite a character.”

“I always knew she was a clever fox, but I never thought something like this would ever cross her mind,” Eula said, chuckling.

“Tresore,” Francesco said. “She was one smart lady.”

“Yes, she was,” Eula said. “An idea to send me an alabaster box filled with alabaster eggs stuffed with emeralds could only come from aunt Hattie.  A clever fox she was.”

 

The End                                                                                                 

 

Thank you for reading The Alabaster Box and have a lovely Easter.

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat Garcia                  


WEP CHALLENGE, FEBRUARY 2019, A NEW BEGINNING By Pat Garcia

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WC: 992  

      Emma Lou Beasley whirled and twirled, springing around her kitchen like a three-year-old. Her feet danced to a beat only she could hear.

    Joy for approaching a birthday Emma Lou thought she’d never see made her twist and turn and shake her head with her braided afro that swung with every movement.  A milestone would be reached in twenty-eight days, and a childish glee of giggles spilled out of her mouth as she let out a gleeful shriek.

    Not every day that you turn sixty, yippee!

    Her busy and sometimes harried life, without ever having children to love and a male to care about her as his one and only were truths she’d finally accepted as a fact of life. After all, her entire family had prophesied that her marrying days were over when she’d turned fifty. They’d convinced her that she’d entered the age of Spinsterhood.

    Emma Lou researched the life span of Spinsters and found that spinsters didn’t have much longevity. Startled she set out to change that by reaching her next decade.

     In twenty-eight days, I’ll be sixty. Yippee!

    The twelfth beat of the gong on Emma Lou’s grandfather clock struck and stopped her from swinging her broad hips. She rushed to the hallway closet, grabbed her jacket, left the house and got into her Volkswagen Beetle and headed toward the city.

    Twenty-eight days!

     She planned to buy a small gift for herself every day up until the twenty-eighth day. Then she would splurge on herself and go out to that expensive, suave restaurant on Broad Street that she’d always wanted to go to but had been afraid to enter. She was going to walk in there with her head held high, her braids dancing around her shoulders, and treat herself to the most fabulous dinner that she’d ever dreamed of.

    Emma Lou arrived at the House of Daniello’s an exclusive store where she’d seen the Pastel, sky blue dress that she hoped would fit over her thick hips and ample bosom perfectly.

    Blue, the colour of hope was her encourager and favourite colour. With her blue dress, she would take on the next ten years’ challenge.

    A car pulled out of the parking spot opposite the House of Daniello’s, and Emma Lou chuckled.

    A good omen.

    She glanced in her rear-view mirror to see if any traffic was behind her. Astonishingly, no cars were coming from behind or coming in front of her.  Tapping the gas pedal lightly, she made a U-turn and wheeled her royal blue Beetle into the spot like Michael Schumacher. 

    He couldn’t have done it better!  

    Emma Lou laughed, her body shaking with laughter.

                                                ***

    Daniello stood by the third-floor window in his office overlooking the main street to the entrance to his shop as Emma Lou made her wild U-turn. He chuckled at how she’d taken possession of the empty park spot. When Emma Lou opened her car door, he noticed her legs first.  They reminded him of the thick, dark chocolate sticks that his brother produced in his chocolate factory.

    At the age of fifty, Daniello, with two marriages behind him and a narrow escape from a third woman, who had blinded him with her roguish charm, had given up being happy and wrapped his life around his fashion house.

    Where are those women who love from the heart?

    When Emma Lou crossed the street laughing and started walking to his store entrance, he flew down the steps, instead of taking the elevator, to the main floor.  Emma Lou captivated him.

    Signalling to his sister, Lucia, that he would take care of the dark, skinned woman who had just walked in, Daniello stood at the end of the aisle and observed how Emma Lou bounced to him as if she was a ball on water. Her eyes mirrored gaiety and innocence combined with a warmth that he yearned for. Her smile drilled holes into the armour around his heart.  

    “May I help you, Madam?”

    “Thank you, but I’d like a saleslady,” Emma Lou said, thinking the man couldn’t be working for the store wearing blue jeans, even though he was sporting a Ralph Lauren’s Polo Shirt.

    “At your service,” Daniello said, holding back his laughter at the shock in her eyes. She didn’t know who he was. Most women would have been falling all over him in ways he didn’t appreciate.

    “Oh…Do you work here?” Emma Lou said, flustered.  “What I mean is that I’ve never been waited on by a man in a women’s dress shop,” she said as she gazed into his shiny onyx coloured eyes.

    “Well, there’s always a first time, Ms…” Daniello said, checking out her hands. No ring.

    “Beasley.”

    “So, Ms. Beasley, what can I do for you?”

    “Well…” Emma Lou stuttered, “actually I was thinking about buying the blue dress in the store window, but I think I’ll come back later.”

    “You would look awesome in that dress,” Daneillo said. “Any particular occasion?”

    “In a way,” Emma Lou said, “I always celebrate February because that’s my birthday month. You think that colour suits me?”

    “The dress and the colour suit you perfectly.”

    “Well, thank you,” Emma Lou said, happy that her dark skin colour didn’t show how much she was blushing before this nice young salesman.

    “Ms. Beasley, may I address you by your first name?”

    “Why, of course. It’s Emma Lou.”

    “So, Emma Lou, when’s your birthday?”

    “February 28th, and I’m going to treat myself to something good every day this month.”

    “I’m doing something similar this month too,” Daniello said.

    “Oh?” Emma Lou asked surprised. “Is it your birthday month too?”

    “No, not my birthday,” Daniello said and chuckled, “but February has just become a significant month. Do you mind us celebrating it together?”

    “I don’t know you, Mr…” Emma Lou said softly.

    “In twenty-eight days, you will, my dear Emma Lou,” Daniello said, smiling at the woman whose gaiety had captured his heart.

                                                                                        ****

The End

 

Hello Everyone, 

I may be a little slow getting around to everyone's submission in this first WEP Challenge, but I will get to them. 

Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding. 

 

Shalom aleichem,

Photo on 01.12.18 at 14.01 #2

Pat Garcia