from my grace.
It brought about
our demise. You’re not coming back from that.
from my grace.
It brought about
our demise. You’re not coming back from that.
as the natural tragedies
inflicted by life’s detached unpredictability
cuts deeply into our being
when the bruises appear
and the tears fall silently
achingly or in a torrent
the needed respite appears
temporarily, an easement manifests
in the arms of a friend
“Oh, Miss. Hello, Miss! MISS! HELLO?!?!” said the impatient man at the counter. The last few bellows from him shocked her back into reality quite harshly.
“I’m so sorry, Sir. I was somewhere else for a moment,” Caroline told the customer, feeling hot with embarrassment. She quickly rushed to the counter to attend to his needs.
“A moment?” he asked rather angrily. “More like a lifetime; that’s why I had to get so loud with you! Completely spaced out, is what you were!”
Geez, suck it, male Karen. “I know, my apologies, again. Don’t worry. I’m all here now, ready to focus on my job. Plus, I’ll end up in tears if I continue to think about it, Caroline thought to herself. “Thanks for bringing me back to the here and now,” she said with a weak smile.
The customer calmed down a bit but still radiated disdain for Caroline as he was giving her his order. She filled out the ticket with his specifications, picked up the menu with an exaggerated thank you and over-the-top friendliness hoping to appease him. And watch, he’ll leave me a $1 tip for kissing his ass. Caroline turned towards the kitchen, rolling her eyes hard towards the ceiling. I cannot WAIT for this shift to be over!
Her workday ended without any other distractions, and thankfully, no more angry customers. Caroline was happy to punch her time card, looking forward to putting up her feet and relaxing at home.
“Hey, sweetie,” her eyes lit up as she walked into her apartment communicating affectionately with her furry black and white friend. He countered with enthusiastic mewing and snuggling up against her, walking gingerly between her legs. She bent down to pick him up, then quickly sat on the couch to give him her fullest attention. He never failed to bring a smile to her face, his warmth and affection always gave her comfort.
Caressing her friend, Caroline allowed herself to go back to the past again now that she was home, where she could easily, and without interruption, let herself daydream. And cry.
The memories of that summer took over again, vivid as always. Caroline relived those passionate, fun-filled, and carefree three months of her life. It was one of the happiest times of her life. Going to Germany had been the best decision, but so hard to leave once the summer was over. No one could have predicted that Caroline and Thomas would find true love. They were all sad her visit had to end, especially the new couple. Regardless, they were determined to make this long-distance relationship work somehow; excitedly, they made plans for their future.
And then, just a month later, she received a devastating letter from Thomas. It shook her to her core. In it, he wrote her that he had been diagnosed with cancer. He said he was so thankful they had the summer together as it turned out they wouldn’t have a future. He hadn’t the strength to tell her this over a call. By the time she got this letter, he had told her he would be dead. It was a rare, very aggressive, and terminal form of cancer. Her love story was over and a phone call from Katja confirmed it.
“I love you, Tomcat,” Caroline said through heavily flowing tears. The sobs tore through her body as she pulled him closer.
Thanks so much for your support of this series! See you next month!
a wise reflection
in the winter of your life
yes, i had your back
Katja looked up from her magazine to see her guest had awoken. “Perfect timing! We’ll be having Kaffee shortly!” Both smiled, Caroline looking not quite awake, though. “I got your favorite – Pflaumen Kuchen mit Schlagsahne. I suspect you could use some coffee again? Haha.”
“HAHA!” Caroline said sarcastically in an exaggerated tone and body language. “Yes, go ahead and make fun of me, but you know this happens every time. It’s always like this on my first day – eat, sleep, eat, sleep.” She slammed herself down next to Katja and put her head on her shoulder, yawning a bit.
“So, how was your nap, Miss Caroline?” she said sweetly. “Any interesting dreams?” Katja had a twinkle in her eye as she stared at her friend inquisitively.
“You know me too well, Katja!”
“Of course I do. We’re best friends, remember?”
“True that, but let’s talk about something else. I’m not going to get my hopes up. Thomas is probably just curious as to what became of me since we moved back to the US, nothing more.”
“Okay, I’ll let it be. We’ll see how things go at dinner Sunday. But I, for one, am hoping things go well with you two,” Katja said quickly. Unbeknownst to Caroline, Katja had kept a few things to herself. She didn’t admit that she swooned a bit when she ran into Thomas a few days ago. After all, Caroline liked him first, and friends don’t betray friends. But yet, internally, Katja felt that Thomas was magnificent. He had gone from a gorgeous heartthrob of a teenager to a tall, mysterious-looking, well put together man. So much so that even she was taken aback a bit, drawing in a quick breath when she realized who he was. Thankfully, Caroline didn’t pick up on any of her feelings. “So you ready for some Kaffee, Madam?”
“Well, duh, because you know I’m not going to be coherent until tomorrow morning!” Caroline laughed at her host. “Are Elsa and Klaus here?”
“Klaus is downstairs working on his train set, and I expect Elsa should be back shortly. She said she had to pick up something for her mom, but she would be back for Kaffee und Kuchen.”
“So how does it feel to be living here without your parents? Are you and Klaus adjusting to the circumstances?” Caroline looked at her friend, concerned, knowing the loss of half her family was quite an unexpected shock earlier this year. Their tragedy was also one of the reasons she wanted to spend quality time with them. She hoped to be part of their healing.
Katja looked at Caroline with sadness in her eyes; her shoulders drooped slightly, gratefully leaning into her friend. “It’s been hard losing them both. Klaus and I barely being adults to understand what the future held for us was difficult enough to begin with, but knowing they would never be in our lives again, that wasn’t easy. You know how close we all were. I think Klaus took it a lot harder just because he’s never been one to be emotional about things; he keeps it all bottled up inside.” Katja sighed deeply.
The doorbell rang just as Caroline embraced her friend.
“Ah, that must be Elsa,” Katja brushed away a solitary tear and straightened herself up. “Kaffee und Kuchen!”
TO BE CONTINUED ON FRIDAY…
“How could I forget him? We lived right next door for four years!” The vivid memories of her childhood crush flooded her brain quickly. Caroline grabbed the railing to steady herself. She began to feel slightly flushed as well. Oh, grow up, Caroline, she thought to herself.
“Well, I ran into him recently. We chatted about our lives for a bit. He was a cab driver for a while, now works at a lab as a chemist. Eventually, I shared with him that you were coming for a visit with us. It seems he was quite excited to hear that you would be in town!” Katja gave her friend a knowing nudge as they walked up the staircase. “So much so that he asked if he could come to say hi. He’ll be coming here tomorrow night for dinner,” Katja said with a wide grin.
“What?” Caroline could barely contain herself. Trying to be calm, she casually said, “Well, that will be interesting and fun to talk to him now as an adult. Do you think he ever noticed how starry-eyed I used to get around him?”
“He may not, but I remember! You would positively drool every time he came around when we used to play out in front of your house.”
“Yeah, I remember too. Gosh, we were such kids to him back then, I’m sure. Wasn’t he like four years older than us?”
“Ja, it seemed like we were irritants to him, especially when his friends were around.” Katja looked around the room to make sure everything that Caroline would need was there. “So, I’ll leave you to get some rest. Can I get you anything else while I’m up here?”
“No, thank you, Katja. I’m good. I just need a little downtime. Thank you for everything!” They exchanged heartfelt hugs, both beaming with joy to be back in each other’s company. Katja turned and shut the door behind her quietly.
Caroline sighed deeply, looking forward to resting her head and her body. The jetlag was hitting hard; all she wanted was to wrap up in a warm blanket. Caroline quickly shed her clothes and lay down on the bed. She pulled the familiar down-filled German Bettdecke up around her neck and nuzzled herself in as if it was her cocoon. It wasn’t long before she had drifted off to sleep with slow rhythmic breaths.
The room was getting chilly as the night air had gone down a few degrees. Caroline began to stir under her blanket; the crispness in the room brought her out of her haze.
It didn’t surprise Caroline that she awoke to dreams of Thomas, scenes she could easily imagine coming true. Smiling to herself, she was hopeful and full of expectations for the next day.
TO BE CONTINUED ON THURSDAY…
Caroline managed about ten-minutes of shut-eye to feel refreshed again. She unpacked her clothes and situated all her belongings neatly within the dresser and closet. A quick brush through the bedhead mess her short nap gave her, Caroline then quickly bounded down the steps, eagerly looking forward to wrapping her lips around a hearty German Frühstück. The smell of strong coffee met her nose as she descended the staircase. Breathing it in deep just made her more excited for her breakfast. Ah, she had missed this!
“I see you are looking a bit more relaxed now,” Klaus smiled in her direction as he watched Caroline come into the large living space sitting with Elsa on the oversized leather couch she remembered from her youth. Many afternoons were spent on that couch, loudly chattering or playing board games. She could still hear the giggles they elicited from one another. Those were such good times. Having these three as friends at that time meant the world to her, especially when things got bad at the end before she moved to the US permanently.
The dining area was off to the side of the room, adorned with all the goodies she expected – delicious fruit-sweetened quark, soft-boiled eggs, hearty German bread, as well as Brötchen, jams, and an assortment of local lunchmeats. Her mouth immediately started drooling as her eyes got bigger and bigger. She was ravenous after that long international flight.
Katja, bringing in the coffee pot, motioned for Caroline to sit down. “Komm, you too, Klaus und Elsa.” Obediently, everyone sat down at Katja’s direction. She always was the one who gave orders, like it was her place to do so. Being the oldest, maybe she felt she’d earned that position. Or perhaps she was just a natural-born leader, and they all just fell in line. Regardless, they all accepted the hierarchy as it was.
“I will do my best to stay up as long as I can, but you know the jet-lag will hit me soon enough. Probably right after I eat my fill from this magnificent spread,” Caroline said to her friends. “Oh, how I’ve missed all this! You can’t get the types of lunchmeat in the states like you can here. It’s so fresh and tasty! And quark doesn’t even exist there!” They all looked at her, surprised.
Elsa piped up, “They don’t have quark?” She honestly looked shocked to hear that. Everyone always thought America would be more progressive than that, apparently not.
“No, the closest thing I’ve found is greek yogurt. It’s good but not the same. It’s usually too sweet or too creamy and doesn’t have that tangy taste. Hopefully, we’ll see it in the future, or maybe I just haven’t found it yet.” Caroline dipped her spoon in the quark, then savored its taste in her mouth. “In the meantime, I will get my fill while I’m here.” They all laughed heartily.
Hours passed as they reminisced about their youth. Klaus dabbed his mouth with his napkin and pushed back his chair as he turned to hear Caroline’s first deep yawn.
“Tja, it might be time for our guest to take a break now.” Klaus held Caroline’s chair and encouraged her to go to her room to take it easy. “We’ll be here when you are feeling a little more awake.”
Katja put her arms around Caroline. “By the way, you remember Thomas Martin, right?”
TO BE CONTINUED ON WEDNESDAY…
I’ve decided to change things a bit with the format of the 5 Day Tales stories. Last month, you’ll recall, I selected the ending. I wanted to let you know that I will continue to do so on future tales. My goals this year will keep me very busy, and unfortunately, as much as developing three different endings have been fun, it’s just not feasible for my health or sanity at this time. I may decide to go back to have my audience pick the ending again in the future but let’s see how it goes.
Sweet Caroline played in the background of the store where she worked. A wicked smile crossed her lips, and a familiar warmth spread throughout her body. The song rekindled the memories of the summer they fell in love. It was the song he would always sing to her, whether as a greeting or after they had made love. They were so wild and carefree. He adored her, and she felt the same about him. Caroline’s eyes glazed over as if in a trance; she got swept up into her past once again.
She was 17, just shy of her 18th birthday. As a graduation present to herself, she had decided to visit Germany, taking the summer off before jumping into the rest of her future. Caroline had arranged to spend the next three months in the old neighborhood she’d lived in when her father was stationed there in her preteen days. She had so many good times there, and her past beckoned to recreate the magic. Plus, her childhood friends insisted Caroline come back for a visit, graciously offering up their homes to her. How could she pass up this opportunity in her old stomping grounds with her good friends? She looked forward to celebrating her adulthood overseas in their company. Although her parents thought she was foolish, they knew nothing would keep her from following her dreams, given her tenacity. So off she went.
On Saturday morning, Caroline arrived at the Frankfurt Airport, her friends franticly waving and screaming when they saw her coming coming through the gate. She moved excitedly towards them with her arms wide open, careful not to trip over her luggage. After many years of just corresponding, it was a happy reunion; their hugs were welcome and so long overdue. Caroline felt like she had come home again.
With their arms intertwined, they all took off towards Katja’s car in the underground parking lot, managing to giggle and laugh the entire way. Once they arrived at the stall, the bags were stored away easily even though the car was small, typical for Europeans. They primarily drove energy-efficient cars, not like the gas guzzlers she was used to in the States.
Katja asked Klaus to sit in the back with Elsa so Caroline could sit in the front. “You know I only ask you because Caroline has such long legs!” she said. “It would be very uncomfortable for her to be in the back.” Nonetheless, feigning anger, he acquiesced to her demand with a smile.
With everyone situated, off they went. Caroline was enjoying seeing the sights on the drive back to Katja and Klaus’ house. There was not one silent moment as they all chimed in with news of their lives, smoothly going back and forth from German to English and back again. What took an hour seemed to pass very quickly with all the commotion going on in the car.
When they arrived, Klaus gathered her bags and showed her to her room. They were so sweet to remember she loved having flowers in her room as she eyed the beautiful vase with colorful, fragrant blossoms next to her bed.
“Thank you so much, Klaus. I appreciate you and Katja for your generous offer to stay here.”
“It is our pleasure, Caroline! Take a few moments to freshen up and relax. We will have a decent German breakfast ready for you when you come down.
TO BE CONTINUED ON TUESDAY…
it was coming
i knew it with certainty
and distractions from the truth
when the phone call came
i braced myself in steely opposition
hardening my body against the cruel words
i was about to hear
only screams of sorrow
and heavy sobs of tears escaped me
i was now in a world
which felt empty and hollow
her eagerness to listen
her kind and gentle ways gone
the smiles and caring on her face
would happen no more
i pushed the receiver from my ear
as if to push away the truth
but knowing that mourning had begun
a new reality, one hard to face
feeling empty without her presence
i was born into a lonely place
her voice and body only in memories now
i miss her grace, her love and her acceptance
time took forever to heal the loss i felt
the place in my heart where she took up residence
darkened, and shriveled up
the air thicker as i inhaled only tears
the light she shone came to an end
but the warmth she gave continues
i always try to celebrate the day she was born
but the day she left, i mourn
Image Credit – Angéle Kamp @ Unsplash
I thank VJ and Sadje for inspiring thoughts of my special friendship. Guess I needed a good cry today. I dedicate this piece to Bana – a wonderful human being and such a catalyst for good – she will always be remembered with a smile and a tear.
What an absolutely wonderful idea to help our readers promote their books! Without the loyal show of support of my readers, I wouldn’t be seeing the consistent and continually growth on I Write Her that I am experiencing, so this is my way of saying THANK YOU!! I don’t have as many followers as Laleh but every little bit of recognition and promotion helps! Please consider doing something similar on your page for your readers. 🙂
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