Della Rappaport cleared her desk and prepared to go home. She sighed to herself. “I made it through another day at work.” Her co-worker Carolyn stopped her before she could get out the door.
“Don’t tell me you’re skipping out on the office party again. It’s been over a year now. You need to get your life back on track.”
Della hated to be reminded about how her husband of fifteen years left her for a hussy ten years younger than herself. “I really need to get home to tend to Mother.”
Carolyn shook her head. Mother, Mother, Mother, you know it’s just an excuse to hibernate in that apartment of yours. I happen to know that John Wiggins from accounting has had his eye on you for sometime now. He asked if you were attending.”
Della shrugged on her coat. “Maybe another time,” She said weakly.
When Della got to her apartment everything was just as she left it. Mother yelled a hello from the other room. “Hello Mother,” Della hollered back as she retreated to her room to get comfortable and then grabbed a glass and a bottle of wine from the kitchen. Della took a seat in the living room. Mother turned her head and gave her an understanding look. “How are you?”
“Thanks for asking Mother. I just can’t seem to get on with my life.” Della went over the same things she told Mother a hundred times before. Mother nodded a few times and said “You’re a pretty girl. I love you.”
Della had to smile. “You always know the right thing to say to me.”
As the hour passed Della had an idea. She wasn’t sure if it was the wine talking or if her depression was taking over, but she made up her mind she had to do it.”
“Let’s take a walk out to the balcony Mother.”
Side by side they stood at the rail. Della thought about what Carolyn said about how she always used Mother as an excuse. Maybe if Mother was gone she wouldn’t have an excuse and she could get on with her life.
Mother was so light Della only had to gently push. She watched as Mother went over the rail and descended just slightly.
A moment later Mother spread her wings and soared around in a circle and then landed on Della’s shoulder. The parrot gave Della a gentle nudge with her beak, as if to say it was Della’s turn to set herself free.
Della understood the silent message. She changed her clothes, called a cab and headed for the office party. Before Della closed the apartment door she heard Mother call out. “You’re a pretty girl. I love you.”
Della smiled and whispered to herself. “I love you too, Mother.”
Jack and Emma
(A tricky Halloween tale)
Emma made one more call before trying to go to sleep. The final person on her list hadn’t seen Jack. Emma thought back to just a few hours ago. They were both outside. Emma was tending to the few pumpkins that were left on the vine and Jack was digging a trench behind the shed. The sun started to set in the October sky as Emma felt her stomach start to growl. She called to Jack letting him know she was going in to start dinner. That was the last time she saw him.
The blue glow from the digital numbers on the clock indicated that she had dozed off for about an hour. Emma rolled over in the bed hoping to feel Jack beside her. The space was empty and cold. She tried not to let herself worry after all this wasn’t the first time Jack pulled this stunt. In the three years they had been together he had taken off without notice a few other times. Emma sighed feeling just like the expression “the ol’ ball and chain.” She got out of bed sliding her feet into her slippers and walked across the cold wooden floor to the window. She tried to see any movement outside but it was still too dark.
They had moved into the two bedroom cape cod three years ago after Emma’s Grandparents moved to Florida. Jack and Emma were both the out doorsy type and loved roaming the ten acres the house sat on. During the day Emma ran the general store that had been in the family for generations. Emma usually did most of the work but if you asked Jack he would let you know that he thought he did his fair share.
Emma moved from the window and into the bathroom splashing some water on her face. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and thought she looked a lot older than her twenty-five years. Trying to make herself look and feel a little better she ran a brush through her tangled dark curls and went down to the kitchen. She wondered why she let herself go through this over and over again with Jack as she sat at the kitchen table tracing the pattern on the tablecloth with her finger. After an hour of wondering was he really worth this she went back to bed.
As soon as she turned off the light she heard something on the gravel driveway. The downstairs door opened and slapped shut. A few things went through Emma’s head that she would like to say to him but decided it would wait until morning. She turned away from his side of the bed and curled up to sleep. She felt the bed bounce as he got in. He tossed and turned for a few minutes and then pushed himself up against Emma’s turned back. She thought about giving him a good kick but didn’t want the rest of the night to turn into a struggle of wills.
The alarm rang at 7A.M. Emma reached over to turn it off. Jack stayed asleep snoring heavily. Still feeling tired Emma went down to the kitchen and scrambled up some eggs and bacon. She ate alone at the table and left some for Jack. She didn’t know why she even cooked for him; but she did. When Emma came down the stairs ready to leave for work he was sitting in the kitchen eating hungrily the breakfast that Emma made for him. Emma walked by giving him the cold shoulder as she walked out the door. He reluctantly left his breakfast to follow right behind her. When they got to the black Explorer they shared he tried to get in the drivers seat. She glared at him.
“I’ll do the driving.”
He looked back at her with his dark bedroom eyes and then slid over to the passengers seat. He stared out the passenger window all the way to work while Emma turned up the radio and sang every song trying to forget about the night before.
When Emma opened up the store they both followed their usual routine. First Emma propped open all the doors to let the crisp autumn air in and then she closed out the sales from the day before. Jack went back to the storage room to rummage around. After the paper work was done Emma went out back to throw away some trash. That’s when she saw the long black bag with a pair of men’s shoes sticking out the end. Startled she backed away from it.
“Jack come here and look at this. Jack!”
She called out his name several times and then realized he was gone again. Emma decided she wasn’t going to worry where that worthless slouch was and went back into the store to call the local Sheriff’s department. She told them she wasn’t sure what she found but didn’t like the looks of it. Sheriff Savoy got on the phone. He had been the Sheriff of Wilkens Virginia for the past twenty-five years.
“Now don’t you worry Missy I’ll send one of the patrols cars over to check on it. Just leave the bag alone until someone gets there.”
“You don’t have to worry about me touching it.” Emma gripped the phone receiver a little tighter as she thought about the bag.
The Sheriff asked about her parents, Grandparents and her two Uncles. As they talked she thought she saw something move across the parking from the corner of her eye. She leaned across the counter trying to get a better look but couldn’t see anything except the empty lot. By the time Emma and the Sheriff had finished their conversation the patrol car pulled into the parking lot.
Michael McDuffy was a new recruit on the force. He had met Emma once before at the county fair and saw her a few times around town with Jack. From the first time he met Emma he was immediately attracted to her. Today he decided was his chance to ask her out.
His athletic long legs took him quickly across the parking lot and into the store. Emma stood by the register noticing at once his deep blue eyes and long dark lashes. He flashed her a winning smile.
“So where is this mysterious bag I need to check out.”
Emma smiled weakly and led him to the back of the building. “I felt a little silly calling; I just don’t know what might be in there.”
Emma pointed to the spot where the bag used to be. “I don’t understand it was there twenty minutes ago.”
Michael smiled and nodded.
Emma spun around looking for it. “Maybe Jack moved it.”
Michael nodded again. “Where is Jack?”
Emma blushed “I don’t know he disappeared before you got here.”
They both walked back to the front of the store.
“You know what I think? I think you called so you could see me.”
Emma’s mouth opened in astonishment. “I wouldn’t do that. There really was a bag here.”
Michael rubbed his chin. ”So you’re saying you don’t want to see me.”
“I didn’t say that!” Emma responded feeling confused.
Michael leaned into the counter to get a little closer to Emma. “Ok let me get this straight so you do want to see me.”
Emma gave a soft smile and looked into Michael’s eyes.
“Yes I’m happy you’re here and I do want to see you.”
Before Emma could say another word Michael leaned even closer and gave Emma a soft kiss on her lips. “Come to a Halloween party with me tomorrow night.”
Emma hesitated. “I don’t know what about Jack?”
Michael chuckled. “ Don’t worry I think I can handle Jack. How about I pick you up around eight o clock?”
Just then Jack appeared in the doorway. He silently looked the deputy up and down. A second later Jack leaped at Michael catching him off guard. They both went down on the floor. Jack was on top of Michael pinning him down, their eyes met for an instant and then Jack licked his face. Emma came rushing from around the counter and pulled Jack off by his collar. Michael got up brushing himself off.
“ I think he’s the biggest Golden Retriever I’ve ever seen.”
“A lot of people tell me that. I don’t know what’s gotten into Jack lately.”
Jack and Emma walked Michael out to the parking lot. Right next to the patrol car sat a big black bag with clothes in it. Jack went to it and started dragging it across the lot.
“I think your mystery is solved. You might want to think about buying Jack a leash.
Emma nodded in agreement. “Good Idea. I think it’s time to get him that ball and chain I’ve been thinking about. See you tomorrow.”