Wreckage

There was recently a rather large storm in my area, which took out a lot of trees, and a few houses, which is what inspired this weeks response to the Friday Picture Prompt Challenge on the Writer’s Mess. That and apparently a preoccupation about getting what you deserve, that will return again later in the week. This is the story of a woman whose life has fallen apart, but in the end things might not be quite so bad as she thought.


She sat in the car, in the pouring rain, looked out at the remains of her house and started to laugh. Wasn’t just the perfect representation of her life right now?

Her husband of 15 years had left her, having knocked up the secretary, and he had the gall to blame her for it.

He had tried to claim infidelity on her part, and that was what had hit her the hardest. She had always thought that he understood what he was signing up for when he married an openly ace woman, but it turned out he was just waiting for her to change her mind.

When she hadn’t, he assumed that she she was seeing someone else, and that it was only fair that he get his own action. He said he wanted kids that were actually his, and not her lover, and the blows kept raining down.

He said he knew that she would want kids eventually, and had completely ignored her warnings that she had no intention of reproducing. She had finished out the day staring across the room at a stranger, and let him win.

She signed away the house, she got her stuff, some money, and her dahlia’s from the front garden. As she sat there staring at the wreckage from the storm, that used to be their house, she couldn’t help but laugh.

The only thing untouched, her front garden, where a single red dahlia bloomed. It seemed she had won after all.

A Work in Progress?

This was so depressing I went back and added the last paragraph when editing. It kind of follows a similar vein to Katherine the Great, in so for as people seem to spend a lot of time trying to do things to make themselves successful to be happy, when sometimes you just gotta take a minute to stop and smell the roses.


Caroline felt that at her core she was a work in progress. She was a person, but not complete. At 40, she still looked around when a child looked for an adult, not yet feeling that she was up to wearing that mantle of responsibility.

She wasn’t where she should be in her career. She didn’t own a car, or house, and she wasn’t close to having the money to do either. She didn’t travel or have luxury goods to explain her lack of the other.

She had no husband, children, or even a prospect of either., not that she wanted them them, and that was the hardest part to explain to other people. Caroline felt as if she was a variant, some small defect had left her just shy of fitting in any of the molds, and so went through life unformed, unfinished, and unfulfilled.

That wasn’t entirely true though, not really, because Caroline was happy. She was happy in her apartment, her dead end job, her hobbies, and her dog. Maybe, what she needed to do was not focus on reaching her finished state, but to redefine what it was she was aiming for. After all, success is what you make of it.

The Nature of Memory

This was written for a writing course I was taking, and we had to start at one time, and then skip forward or back in the life of the same person. I started in the 80’s and then skipped forward to the near present. Again, it seems to have a theme of being happy with what you have, and I guess the theme of 2022 is self acceptance. Please note, that I am not trying to accept being a serial killer, this note will make more sense after some of my later posts.


I coughed as I tried to escape the fumes, hoping that no one lit a match near my sister’s head. “Come on, Jenny, you have enough hairspray that you could use your hair as a helmet. We are going to be late.” I stamped my foot, and then reached down to pull up my neon pink leg warmer.

I couldn’t wait to get to the roller rink, but Jenny was busy trying to get just a little more volume that Amy Pilsner, and so I was stuck. Mom wouldn’t let me take my bike across town alone at night, so I was stuck waiting for Jenny, as usual


Tracey looked down at the photo, that had brought back the memory rushing back like it was yesterday. Jenny had been so proud of her hair, that she begged Mom to take a Polaroid of it. There were three of them. The first one Tracey was sneezing, and the second Jenny’s eyes were closed, but the third was perfect. We were so happy back then.

Tracey’s phone dinged, and she pulled herself out of the chair, wincing a little at the pain in her right knee. She would have to rub some A535 on it later, and take some tylenol. It only took a month for her to heal from that first sprain back at the rink, but she was still feeling last years, even after the physio.

She finally got to the phone, and saw the notification. It Emily, Jenny’s granddaughter, posting a picture of her and her mother Clara on Instagram. Emily looked so much like Jenny had at that age, it made her heart ache. Tracey felt a stab of guilt at how long it had been since she had went to see Jenny, but it wasn’t like Jenny would know. Jenny hadn’t remembered her in a long time.

Every time Tracey left the nursing home, she was paranoid for weeks. Each time she forgot her where she left her keys, she wondered if this was it. Was this was the first step, though she was reaching an age where it wouldn’t be early onset anymore. At least Jenny seemed happy, happier than she was at least.

Tracey looked around her small two bedroom house and frowned at the quiet. She wondered at times if her mother had been right. If Tracey should have settled down, settled that is, and got married and had some kids. There wouldn’t be the linger rumors at family occasions that she was in fact, a lesbian.

It was such a strange concept to others, that she would prefer being alone, that they instead tried to come up with ideas on why she didn’t have someone. The lesbian theory was the best of the bunch, the others leaving her either traumatized, or too pitiful to keep someone. They couldn’t imagine that she might not want someone, that this may be the life she wanted.

They were too busy comparing her to Jenny, who in her illness had her history rewritten. People spoke of how sad it was that Jenny couldn’t remember her children, how happy they had made her, how much she loved them. That this illness had torn apart such a happy family, and that Jenny never got a chance to know her own grandchild , oh it was such a terrible thing.

Some of it was even true. It was tragic that Jenny didn’t know her own grandchild, and it was true that she loved her daughters, but the reality stopped there. People seemed to gloss over Jenny’s teen pregnancy, the alcoholism, the seven weeks her second daughter spent in the NICU for FAS, or the two years the kids lived with Tracey and Jenny’s parents until Jenny got back on her feet.

It was the same way they glossed over thirty years of nursing, the volunteer work, and all the traveling Tracey did in her own life. In the end, all anyone saw when they compared the sisters was Jenny’s two surprisingly well adjusted daughters, four grandchildren and Tracey’s empty house.

Tracey’s phone dinged again, and she saw the reminder: Cards with the Girls. She looked around her empty house again, and smiled. She loved her nieces dearly, but she really wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

My Family Vacation

Ok, so this one I will admit is utterly ridiculous. It started as a response the the prompt “a lie getting out of control” and mixed with a little lingering spite I had for a company I once worked at that preferentially gave people vacation based on their family status instead of their seniority. You can imagine where this is going as the main character just wanted his vacations approved.


I just wanted a vacation, to see my parents for the holidays, and I didn’t feel like that was too big of an ask, all things considered. It wasn’t like I was new, in fact I was one of the most senior people on the team, and I was due for a vacation.

I however, had the misfortune of being single, and as a result, the last three attempts to book vacation had been bumped in favor of “letting someone with a family” make an important date.

The last vacation I had managed to get authorized was a week in the dead of February, and even that was at risk when Herbert considered taking his girlfriend on a surprise vacation to propose to her. In the end, I only got my week because Hebert’s girlfriend broke up with him when he brought up the idea of the vacation. Apparently she knew what he was planning, and wanted out before it got anymore serious than it already was.

When Claire mentioned that she wanted to take the holiday for her and her husband to go see their Brother’s new baby, I saw my vacation vanishing, and I spoke before I thought.

“I was hoping to take Linda to meet my parents.” There was no Linda. From there it only grew, as I explained that my relationship with Linda, the woman who I had been seeing casually, had recently become a bit more serious and I wanted to take her back east to meet my parents.

I got my vacation, and intended to “break-up” with Linda following the trip. I forgot entirely about Linda until about three months later, after all, she wasn’t real.

I had never been one to share my personal life at work, I just wasn’t that guy. So I guess no one though anything of it when I never brought her up again. This time I was booking an easter holiday, or trying to, after all, I don’t have kids. I wanted to book around the long weekend so that I could down to Florida for a five day all inclusive.

I waited to be rebuffed, and then someone helpfully asked. “Oh, are Linda’s parents snowbirds?” I stared blankly, and listened to a longer explanation of the term snowbirds than anyone should ever have to endure. The good news was, that half way through thisI figured out who Linda was, and realized I had forgotten to break up, and so I did what anyone in my situation would do. I replied. “Yup, they have a little place down there. Linda and I will be renting a hotel, but If I don’t go down there to meet them, I won’t see them until they come back in June.”

I saw the eager looks on everyone else’s faces, and I didn’t clue in what the big deal was until the beginning of May, when everyone kept asking if I had booked my time yet.

Apparently there was a flower show in May, that everyone assumed I must be taking Linda to, and had I booked the Friday off yet. I took the long weekend, cause I was never able to take a long weekend, and it was glorious, until Monday that is.

Everyone ran over, saw the smile on my face and cheered. Jamie yelled, “Looks like she said yes!” and it all clicked. I nodded, because what could I do, and then I excused myself to my early morning meeting. During which I Googled the flower show and saw it was on a list of “top ten events to get engaged at”. Suddenly it all clicked, I had said I couldn’t wait till June to meet Linda’s parents, and they had thought I had to ask her Father for permission before the May flower show. That’s when things started to snowball.

Linda and I were married a year later, in July, and took a two week honeymoon cruise. I was actually on a single’s cruise, but I came back tan and wearing a wedding band I bought for 50$ at one of the ports, and it was known that I was married.

A year later the hints started, about Linda and I getting up there, were we planning to have kids. I was pissed, it was none of their business about whether or not me and my fictional wife were having kids. When Ernie went too far, joking I couldn’t get it up, I lost it.
“How dare you. This is less than none of your business, what my wife and I do in our home, is our choice. Jesus Ernie, not everyone wants kids, and not everyone who wants them can just have them. When I want to discuss my private life I will, but until then, back the hell off. I am going for lunch.” I stormed out ten minutes early, and then spent twenty minutes in my car, laughing till I cried. I can’t believe I got that angry over Ernie, I mean, he should know better, but Linda wasn’t real.

When I finally calmed down, I realized I left my lunch in on my desk, I faced the embarrassing task of walking back in to claim it. I was stopped by an HR Rep on the way to in, and I thought this was it, my fake Wife had gotten me fired…..

Except she hadn’t. Apparently I was getting the rest of the day off, paid, because of Ernie’s insensitivity. They thought Linda and I were having trouble conceiving, and I was given the day with their sympathies. I couldn’t tell them the truth, so I went home.

After a few months I got so sick of the said looks, and pitying comments, that when I walked in happy, and someone asked, I finally said, “We’re pregnant.” I really don’t know what I was thinking, but I spent a Saturday looking through the appointments I would need and made sure to book the afternoons off, to take Linda to her appointments.

The baby was a boy, we only found out tin the delivery room, wanting to be surprised on that one. He was a week late, and arrived 7lbs 30z, on Saturday morning after nine hours of laobur. His name, David Joseph Jr. , after my Father, and I, dutiful employee that I was, was back at my cubicle on Monday.

After that, vacation was a breeze with doctor’s appointments, vacations, and event things like hockey away games. I could take vacation the same as my colleagues, as long as they never found out the truth about the family.

I spent another twenty years waiting for it to implode on me, and then I was retiring, with David in his third year of University, and his little brother Malcolm about to graduate high school. Linda and I would be moving to Florida for our retirement, and I would never see any of these people again.

The one upside of all this, was that I would have one heck of a story to tell the snowbirds. After all, it isn’t everyday you end up faking an entire family to get Christmas off.