Wednesday’s Wafers III

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.


Are you ready for the next chapter in my story? I love how my character is developing. Let me know what you think is going on. Enjoy!


Ch. 2 Surreptitious by Karolyn H  —-  [Ch. 1] [Ch. 3] [Ch. 4]

manila2

oxfords.jpg The front door opens, and a man in a business suit steps inside, shutting the door behind him. He wipes his brown suede Oxfords on the mat then crosses the foyer to hang his suit jacket on the coat rack.

He sees me and smiles tiredly. “Erica, thanks again for starting today. I’ve had quite the crazy week. Any problems so far?”

“You’re very welcome, Mr. Pagano,” I replied. “And no problems at all. I took the liberty of preparing a light lunch since you mentioned that you would be leaving work early today.” Hoping that I didn’t sound too eager, I shifted my legs awkwardly, clasping my hands in front of my waist.

“Thank you, and it’s Nicholas. Actually, just call me Nick, please. No need for formality really,” Mr. Pagano—Nick—assured me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I barely caught a glimpse of the tiny black shadow that streaked across the floor to slide comically into a heap in front of my new employer. Nick’s face lit up and he bent down to scoop up the kitten, who was now purring furiously and trying to lick any part of his human that he could reach. Chuckling, Nick carried him into the kitchen, setting his laptop case down on a chair, and a few pieces of mail on the dining table.laptopcase

“I see you met my new roommate! I think I’m Spooky’s hero, at least for a little while. I guess he hasn’t forgotten how I rescued him a couple days ago. I probably shouldn’t have kept him, but now he won’t be home alone all day, at any rate, since you’ll be coming by a few days every week.” By now, Spooky had climbed onto his shoulder and was sitting there contentedly, rubbing his cheek against Nick’s ear.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the adorable little sidekick. “Well, how could you possibly resist that face? Even if he does like to race around the house, testing my balance and reflexes.” Walking to the nearest cupboard, I opened the doors, looking for tableware.  I found a set of square, black dishes and matching mugs in the next cupboard over. These’ll do, I decided, and brought two plates to the table then hunted for some silverware.

Nick headed towards the wide staircase at the end of the hall, kitten still latched on to him. “I’ll go change really quick, then I’ll be down for lunch. Don’t feel like you need to wait, help yourself.”

I waited until Nick was out of site, and I could hear him treading across the carpet into his bedroom. When his door shut, I zipped over to the table, and immediately started flipping through the envelopes strewn across the tablecloth.

praying My heart beating out of my chest, I listened closely for any sound upstairs, and prayed that I could remember how the mail had been arranged so that he wouldn’t suspect that I’d been snooping through it.

Bill, bill, credit card offer, bill, ads…I glanced at his laptop case, debating. No, not right now, it’s just too risky. I’m sure I’ll have a chance another day. I picked up the last piece of mail on the bottom of the pile, a letter-sized manila envelope.

Reading the return address label, my hands began to tremble and my cheeks felt flushed.  I knew it—could this really be from who I think it is…?

Just then, the door upstairs opened, and I could hear Nick scolding the kitten. I frantically put the envelope back underneath the rest of the mail, and spread out the stack how they’d—hopefully—been tossed originally.

Choosing my seat at the table strategically, with my back to the stairs, I calmed my nerves and focused on not having a panicked expression.

Nick pulled back the chair across from me, now dressed in blue jeans and a casual Henley t-shirt. Smiling, he declared, “This looks perfect, Erica. I’m starving. Please, join me, no need for you to rush off yet. You’re scheduled for two more hours anyway.” He sat down and immediately started dishing out some pasta and using the salad tongs to serve himself a large portion.

Spooky, indicating that he was clearly suffering from immense thirst and starvation, was mewing at us insistently. He had followed at Nick’s heels all the way to the table.

“I fed you not that long ago, buddy,” I said to the kitty, which had no effect on his cries, but did allow me to further compose myself.

“Mr. Paga– Nick, I do need to run the dishwasher, and I haven’t finished folding the laundry. So, I’ll stick around to take care of that before going home for the weekend. Is there anything else you need this afternoon?” I looked at him expectantly, trying to avoid the sharp little claws that were stretching up to dig into my slacks.

Nick chewed and swallowed, putting down his fork. “Heavens, no. When you’re done, take off and enjoy your Friday night! Here,” he reached into his back pocket for his wallet, taking out a few bills. “I’ll pay you for today, then every Friday of each week, how’s that sound? And I insist that you eat with me before you go.” manpayingmoney2

As he handed me my wages, I opened my mouth to respond, and his cell phone trilled. I waited while he glanced at the screen. He stared at it for a moment, as if contemplating whether he wanted to answer the call or not. He looked up apologetically. “Sorry, I have to take this, but it should only be a minute.”

He pushed back his chair to stand up and swiped at the phone to stop it’s ringing. Putting it to his ear, he spoke to the caller in a business-like tone. “Stefano, it’s great to hear from you. Let me step outside.”

He strode toward the sliding glass doors that led to the back patio. Then, he stopped and pivoted around, walking back to the table. He proceeded to search through the mail, and selected a familiar manila envelope, taking it with him outside. As he was sliding the door closed behind him, I heard him say over the phone, “I’ve received the package in question, and will open it now.”

Stunned, I numbly added some pasta and salad to my plate, paying it little attention. I ate, not tasting the cucumbers and onions, but watching Mr. Pagano instead, trying not to look like I was.

Who was he talking to? How can I find a way to read what’s in that envelope? The weight of what I was here to do and the reasons why caused my throat to tighten and my jaw to clench.

When it appeared that he had ended the call, and was coming back inside, I stopped eating, having lost my appetite. Keeping my inner turmoil from showing on my face, I got up to clear my plate.

“Now, where was I?” Nick asked. “Right, lunch.” He resumed enjoying his meal, not looking the slightest bit concerned.

Clearing my throat, I faced him and spoke carefully. “Nick, cash payments once a week works fine for me, thanks. I think I’ll get busy now, so that I can get out of your hair sooner. Enjoy your lunch.”

He nodded, his mouth full, and waved me off.

I washed my hands, then headed towards the laundry room, on the other side of the pantry. My mind, filled with both apprehension and resolve, wandered through various scenarios and memories. Memories that I could never forget. Plans that I refused to alter.

blackkitty2

Spooky squeezed around me, and hopped into the basket full of warm shirts and towels, curling up to take his next catnap. I scratched his ears, pulled a bath towel out from under his tail and started folding.


-4/25/17-

Wednesday’s Wafers II

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.


flower Happy Spring! I hope you enjoy my short story below.


Ch. 1 Preparation by Karolyn H  —–  [Ch. 2] [Ch. 3] [Ch. 4]

preparation

She plucks the apron off the wall hook, and tips her head forward to fit the halter around her neck. She pulls her thick, brown hair back into an elastic scrunchy, then ties the two apron strings behind her back in an uneven bow. apron_strings

She bends down to pull open the cupboard door and reaches in to grasp the handle of a medium-sized pot. She carries it to the sink and twists the faucet handle to run the cold water.

Holding the stainless-steel pot under the steady stream, she watches the water splash. Her thoughts drift, a smile tugging at her lips. Secrets dance in her eyes.

The pot overflows, so she pours the excess water into the basin. Turning off the faucet, she picks up a towel from the counter, and dries the bottom and sides of the pot. She places it on one of the front stove-top elements.

Examining the knobs, she peers closer to see the symbol that shows which knob controls which element. A fly on the wall might wonder why, assuming she’d cooked on this range countless times before. She pushes in the knob, turning it to the highest setting, feeling it click into the groove.

lightbulb Walking to the far end of the kitchen, she steps into a small pantry, and pulls the cord hanging from the ceiling to turn on the single light bulb.

To her right, cans of soup and boxes of pasta are patiently positioned in haphazard rows, collecting dust until chosen. She ponders for a moment, tapping the tastefully manicured nails of her right hand on the shelf, then selects one of the boxes.

“Fusilli it is, then.” Turning off the light, she moves toward the stove and trips over a small black furry creature streaking between her feet.

“Spooky!” she tsked, “you’ll be the death of me yet.” Chuckling, she bends down to stroke the kitten who had returned to curl his tail around her ankle. He looked up innocently, his purrs rumbling loudly.

Steam was rising from the pot, as it had just begun to boil.

Swiftly, she pries open the box and empties its contents into the simmering water. A rebellious corkscrew-shaped piece escapes and lands on the linoleum, only to be captured and batted about by the playful predator.

She lowers the heat, and stirs gently with a slotted spoon for a few seconds. While the pasta cooks, she gathers a colander, two cobalt glass serving dishes and forks, along with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. bowl

Searching the refrigerator, she collects a few ingredients and sets them on the countertop next to the cutting board. Withdrawing a knife from its slot in the wooden block, she twists her wrist back and forth, watching the sunlight shining through the window play along the sharp edge.

She slices two cucumbers and one red onion into very thin slivers. After she’s finished, she sweeps the slices into one of the serving dishes.

In a small metal mixing bowl, she combines lemon juice, vanilla yogurt, fresh dill, a small portion of sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper. After adding the mixture to the cucumbers and onions, she sets the serving dish in the fridge to chill.

The pasta should now be just about perfect, so she turns off the stove and removes the pot from the heat. She carefully strains the pasta, then transfers it to the second serving dish.

kitty Her tiny companion’s mewing is persistent, so she stops to feed him before continuing.

After adding a liberal amount of olive oil in a circular motion over the fusilli, she sprinkles salt, pepper and garlic powder on top. Satisfied, she then piles the dirty utensils and dishes into the kitchen sink.

The faint sound of tires in the driveway tickles her ears, and her pulse races in anticipation. She rushes to set both serving dishes of food on the round dining table covered with a pale-yellow tablecloth and white napkins.

She unties her apron and hangs it back on the hook. In front of the hall mirror, the slim, petite woman lets down her hair and inspects her reflection. Arresting eyes, whose color matches the shade of the serving dishes, express brief indecision. She wonders—not for the first time—who the woman gazing back at her really was.

A key turns in the lock, and she turns toward the sound. She runs her fingers through her hair and adjusts her blouse.

Game face on. Smile. I’m ready.


-4/18/17-


Wednesday’s Wafers I

Today’s late-night post is my first in a series I’m calling “Wednesday’s Wafers.” I’ll be sharing a weekly burst of recent writing.

I’m publishing this quite a bit later in the day than I’d intended as I struggled with finishing the poem, but I wanted this series to definitely start on a Wednesday. So here it is! Hope you enjoy it


Destination by Karolyn H

busride

Ride a bus into the past, watching moments flicker by.

Question the path taken, things could be different…

Parallel scenarios beckon,

Old wounds, opened.

Reach your hand up to pull the cord.

The bus slows down and you stand.

Blinking, the memories become sharper through the glass.

Hesitation, then conviction.

“Sorry driver, I was mistaken.”

The engine revs as the bus picks up speed.

Continue along the route, turn a corner.

Former life fades into obscurity.

Destination ahead.

No regrets.

-4/12/17-


*Thanks are due to my son, Jordan, for providing the perfect word when I was brainstorming for a series title.