Small drops of water landed on the parched brown soil, darkening it to a life giving brown black.  Cheryl could almost see the small violet rooted in that soil quiver as the life giving moisture rained slowly down around the withered plant.

To Cheryl, each tear felt like a little bit of her soul escaping into the universe.  Larry had been gone for only three days, but they were the longest three days of her life.  Larry would have scolded her that she had squandered those days mourning.  Seize the day had been his motto.  Now the only thing seizing was her heart after each beat, waiting to determine if she was going to follow him to the other side.  Even there she was failing.

Yet here she was giving life to the last plant Larry had in his apartment.  Larry was a lot of awesome things, but having a green thumb was not one of them.  The poor thing almost beat Larry to the punch.  Now this was what his physical legacy was to her.  Tucking it inside her purse carefully, Cheryl left Larry’s apartment one last time.  The plant needed a better water source, and she needed to seize the day.


Differential Bagels

Cali opened Brent’s notebook and began thumbing through.  “What class was this for?” she asked.

Brent looked up from his bagel and mumbled.  “That’s a diary that I had to keep for a math class.  Differential equations.”

Cali flipped to a random page.  “I think Laplace transforms are the devil, since the details are what matter,” she read aloud.  Cali looked up at Brent.  “That’s deep.”

“What?” Brent whined after licking his fingers clean of cream cheese.  “Who makes  a class write journal entries for a senior level math course?  He deserved deep.”

Cali flipped to another page.  She showed Brent a picture of a large bird of some sort walking across a stick representation of a differential equations book.  “And this?” she asked.

“I wanted to give the dude the bird,” Brent said, picking up the other half of his bagel.  “I also wanted to pass the course, so the middle finger wasn’t allowed.”

Cali shook her head putting the book down.  “What did you get in the course?” she asked.

“That’s the best,” Brent said.  “Look at the last page that I wrote on.”  He took a large bit of his bagel and began chewing behind a wide grin.

Cali picked back up the book and started searching for the last page.  “I don’t get it,” she said.  “All it has on it is a large question mark.”

“Exactly,” Brent said.  He took a big swig of his chocolate milk.

Cali threw the notebook at Brent, almost causing him to spill the rest of his milk.  “Okay smartass, what did you get?”

Brent took another bite and made her wait till he was done chewing.  “You will never know,” he said.

“Why not?  Did you fail?” Cali asked.

“Nope.  It’s because I don’t know,” Brent said.

“You dropped the course?” Cali asked.  “How lame.  Why not stick it out till the end?”

Brent smiled.  “Because I wanted to start going out with a certain cute girl in my psych class, and if I told her I couldn’t go out during the weekends because I had to study differential equations and write in my diary about my feelings on the subject, I don’t think she would have said yes.”

Cali smiled.  “Yeah, probably a good decision,” she said.  “But why the question mark?”

“Because I wasn’t sure if I was making the right decision,” Brent said holding his hands up.

“And now?” Cali asked.

“Let’s just say I think I am getting a higher grade here than I was going to get in diff eq,” Brent said.

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Cali said.  “I might fail you right now.”

Brent leaned forward and gave her a gentle kiss.  “No makeups for this examination?” he asked.

Cali smiled.  “Depends, do you want to walk to the store with me.  I need some more seltzer,” she said.

“Walk?” Brent asked.  “Why not drive over?”

Cali held up her phone.  “So I can catch some more Pokémon.  Got to catch them all.”

Brent shook his head.  “Nerd!”

Cali pointed at Brent’s notebook.  “Like you’re the one to talk,” she said.

“Touché.  Actually this works for me as well,” Brent said.

“Why is that?” Cali asked.

“Because I’m now out of bagels,” Brent said.

Making a Run at Love

Maria’s words moved John to tears, but he didn’t want to admit it.  He turned slightly away to cover up as best as he could as he dabbed the traitorous tear that escaped his iron clad grasp.  He looked back into her deep brown eyes and thought back to when they had first met.  It seemed like it was forever, and also just now.   No matter, it had been love at first sight for John, even if Maria hadn’t realized it.

John smiled and bent close, making sure only Maria would hear his declaration of devotion in the cacophony that surrounded the two of them, but she beat him to the punch.  “Well it was nice to meet you,” Maria said cheerfully as the starting countdown began.  “Good luck.”

Before John could respond, Maria began to jog away in the sea of humanity that made up the mass start of the Boilermaker 15K race.  John attempted to follow, but soon Maria was swallowed up by the swarming runners passing him.  John sighed as he slowed even more to find his own pace.  At least they will always have the start of the race.  Of course, maybe he could find her in the party afterward and share a beer.  Who knows, he might even get her phone number.

Too bad he had forgotten her bib number.

Oh Craps!

The dice spoke to Tim.  “Come on man, you can do this.”

Tim looked around the table at the others, wondering how he had let himself gotten himself into this mess.  These geeks had seemed like easy pickings.  Tim had played craps for at least twenty years, and usually the dice were his friends, but these dice just weren’t right, even if they were talking to him.

“Come on man, you’ve got this,” the dice muttered.

The others looked expectantly at Tim.  They wanted to see if he had it in him.  Tim had bragged about his abilities, especially to Stacy.  She was the reason he was here and this was his chance to clean everything up and come out of here the hero and cashing out big time.  She smiled at him, encouraging him to let it roll.  Still Tim hesitated.

“Come on man, Let us go!” the dice shouted.

Tim, against his better judgement let the dice fly, bouncing around the table, beseeching Lady Luck to come out of hiding and bless his offering to her.  The dice came up twin ones, damn snake eyes.   Stacy’s smile melted into a puddle of a frown.

“Twin critical failures,” Jim said from behind his rule books.  “You drop both of your swords.”

The rest of the group around the table moaned.  Stacy left the table for the kitchen.  “The dragon uses its breath weapon, breathing fire over your entire group.  You guys need to make a saving throw,” Jim said gleefully.

Tim didn’t want to touch those dice anymore.  He just folded his arms in front of him.  “I should have stuck with craps,” he said.

Five Benjamins

“How can I impress on you the importance of the situation?” Sal asked.  It was hard to take Sal seriously while he was sitting there with a Mickey Mouse ear hat and the remnants of two dogs with the works scattered in his beard.  I’ve known Sal all my life, and that pretty much summed his world up in one mini scene.  “Are you paying attention to me?  God, you can be such a space cadet.”

“I’m totally with you Sal.  I’m just not getting you.  Sort of like that whole thing about Cialis where you take the pill to have sex, but their logo is two people holding hands in separate bathtubs.  Like that’s going to get you lucky how?”  See, I can make analogies that put Shakespeare and Donald Trump to shame.

Sal leaned forward and kept his voice kinda low.  Well, low for Sal.  “That’s a whole separate but equal contention about sex where you must always ask before you hit it.  Sort of like you wouldn’t force someone to drink tea, would you?”

“What the hell does sex have to do with tea?” I asked.  “Is the tea in the two bathtubs?  Is it some sort of food porn fetish?”  I am pretty swift on the uptake, if I do say so myself.

“God, you’re hurting my head with the questions.  Look it up on YouTube.  You need more education.”  With that Sal became quiet.  His lips moved like he was reading the Reader’s Digest to himself.  I could almost make out his words.  It was something on the order of “Man went into the jungle to catch a tiger by its toe, like for reals, and when he came back out he was missing most of his own toes since the tiger ate his foot.”  Either that or “Fan of the bugle caught a tired joe, like for reals, then he came back missing most of his own foes since the bugle played a toot.”  It was something like one of those two.  Honest.

Finally Sal’s eyes perked up.  “That’s right, now I remember.  I need to borrow five Benjamins.  You know I’m good for it.”  Sal beamed with pride that he had remembered.

“Really man?” I asked.  I tried out my trust-o-meter, and the hotdog remains in Sal’s beard seemed more trustworthy.  “That’s like, almost five hundred dollars.  That’s a lot of Cheetos.”

“It is five hundred dollars, and don’t you mean a lot of cheddar?” Sal asked.

“I hate cheese.  That’s why I put Cheetos on my sandwich.  It’s the whole lactose intolerance thing.”  I patted my belly to emphasize my point.

Sal pointed to the glass of milk in front of me.  “Then why are you drinking milk?” he asked.

I smiled since I had anticipated the question.  “That’s what they call a misnomer.  I saw on a television commercial that milk isn’t lactose.”

Sal shook his head in disbelief.  “My God, you can be such a space cadet.”

I nodded in agreement.  “I applied to the NASA call for astronauts.  They even called me personally to let me know I would be called about the job in just over a thousand years.”

Sal put his hand over his face.  He looked almost exactly like Patrick Stewart at that moment, except Sal had curly black shoulder length hair, wasn’t wearing a unitard, and wouldn’t touch Earl Grey black tea if Earl Grey had promised a quickie in the oil of bergamot vat.  I missed my vat of oil of bergamot.  It brought back a flood of memories that made me feel sad enough to shed a tear.

Sal saw that tear and focused on it so much it almost popped like a pimple.  “Why are you crying?” he asked.

“I just need a moment,” I said.  I had a long pull on my ice cold milk and let out an “ah” as I finished.  I left the milk mustache there to give Sal’s beard a face buddy.  “There, that’s better.  So what did you want?”

“Never mind,” Sal said as he stood up.  “It’s just not worth it.”  He stomped off in his purple Crocs, bits of onion falling from his beard, leaving a trial of onion crumbs behind in case Sal had to reground himself in my presence.

I just smiled and waved at his back.  I thought about wiping off my milk mustache, but thought better of it.  It was my trophy in this battle of wits.  I still had my money, and Sal wouldn’t ask for anything from me again until he gets back into the alcoholic potatoes, but that is another tale for another time.

Not a Good Day (a 200 word story)

Dried out memories rolled across my barren mindscape as I searched for a landmark, something to show me the way.  Anxiety caused dust devils to swirl and dance, obscuring the horizon and leaving me feeling disoriented.

I began to stumble along the dusty surface of my thoughts, but every time I thought I had found something familiar, I had only wandered right back to where I had started.  The sameness of my mind was foreign and scary.

Disembodied voices shouted all around me, but every time I tried to focus on them, they faded to echoes.

I tried to cry out, but only a shriveled inhuman cry escaped my parched lips.  I slumped to the ground, closed my eyes, and cried myself to sleep.

“I’m sorry,” the nurse said.  “George isn’t having a good day.”

Nancy looked at her father as tears escaped from his closed eyes and drifted down the deep wrinkles embedded in his cheeks. She gently whipped some of the tears away and gave him a light kiss.

“Dad doesn’t have many good days anymore,” she said with her voice breaking a little.  “But I still love him.”

I finally felt comfort and smiled as I dreamed.

Seeing Red

Sharon wished she could be sitting on her couch in a pair of pajama pants and her oversized Stanford sweatshirt drinking a frozen strawberry and lime daiquiri / margarita combination, but that didn’t pay as well as this cocktail party.  She ferried wine glasses filled with an expensive red wine that she couldn’t pronounce, but knew it would stain her white blouse if so much as a drop found purchase.  Luckily Sharon had put herself through undergrad as a waitress, so she had all the skills she needed for the big leagues here in Silicon Valley party land.  This gig paid so well she could turn down the teaching assistant position while working on her doctorate, and it allowed her to network with half-drunk venture capitalists and angel investors.  Much better than babysitting whiny freshmen.

Sharon dropped off the empty glasses and picked up a fresh load before reentering the fray.  She was at the fringes of the mingling people when she felt a hand graze and slightly grope her left ass cheek.  Without spilling a drop, Sharon spun to see her defiler.  It was an older woman, maybe in her late fifties, her bright red chemically altered hair tucked up in a sever bun.  “You work out a lot,” the woman said with a smile.

Sharon held the tray between them as a shield from further advances.  “Would you like a glass?” she asked while her inner voice screamed that all it would take would be a slight break of the wrist and they both would be seeing red.

The woman shook her head.  “No honey, if I have any more I might make a scene,” the woman said.

Sharon didn’t reply, but turned on her heel and quickly put distance between the two of them.  That was the fourth time tonight, and all of them different people.  At least this was different since it was a woman, but you would think she would know better.  Next time Sharon was going to wear depends and watch their faces.  Okay, she wasn’t going to do that, but it would be interesting to see their faces then.

“Hey, what happened?” asked Charlie as he came closer carrying a tray of shrimp cocktail.  Charlie was pretty hot in his uniform and moved with the grace of the dancer that he was trying to be as a day job.  Sharon had been hot for him since he had started, but it had never been the right moment, just like now.

“Nothing,” Sharron said.  “Just one of those days.”  She moved further into the party goers, unloading a few more glasses of wine.

Charlie tried to keep up, but Sharon purposely kept patrons between the two of them.  Charlie wouldn’t give up his pursuit.  “Come on,” he said.  “What’s wrong?”

Sharon gave him her best leave me alone look.  “Are you trying to get us fired?” she asked in a low voice.  I’ll talk to you later.”

Charlie didn’t get the hint.  “Come on Sharon.  They don’t care,” he said.  “Let’s take a break, and you can tell me all about it.”

Sharon looked around quickly.  The party was winding down a bit, so it would be simpler to give in to him then to possibly lose the job.  “Fine, let’s go,” she said.  She spun quickly to go back to the serving table to drop off her remaining glasses and managed to spill a glass on herself.  “What the hell!” she said.  She looked at Charlie with pure hate.

“Damn girl.  That sucks,” Charlie said.  He then noticed her hateful gaze.  “That wasn’t my fault.” Charlie said.

Sharon stashed her tray on the counter and stomped to the ladies’ room, leaving Charlie on the outside gaping like a beached fish.  Sharon looked at the sink, knowing it had little to no hope of fixing her shirt, which by now looked like it had soaked up a ruptured coronary.  She just shook her head and stomped back out of the bathroom, slamming the door into Charlie in the process, catching him in the chin.  She didn’t break stride as she headed for the exit.

“Damn girl.  That hurt,” Charlie said as he hurried to catch up.  Sharon pushed through the exit and let the door swing back as soon as she was through.  This time Charlie was ready and caught it before his face took another blow.  “Sharon, calm down girl,” he continued.  “What has gotten up your ass?”

That stopped Sharon in her tracks.  She turned and began waving her finger.  “Don’t you dare bring up my ass,” she said.  “You have no right to go there.”  She felt like she was vibrating with all the hatred she felt right there.

“Really?” Charlie asked.  “With the way you are over reacting?  So you spilled a drink.  Big deal.”

Sharon stepped from public space right into Charlie’s personal space.  “You want a big deal?” she asked.

Charlie took a step back.  “Not now,” he said.

Sharon looked past him to see their boss coming out of the office.  She pushed past Charlie and back inside.  Charlie followed her, not giving up.  “Look, I’m sorry for whatever I did,” he said.  “Can I buy you a drink after work to make up for it?”

Sharon shook her head and continued to pick back up her tray.  She had been waiting for this moment for three weeks, fantasizing about him joining her on that couch.  Now was not the time.

Charlie finally took the hint and went on his own way.  Sharon watched him ignore her really hard, almost shouting b word in his head.  He just wouldn’t understand.  She watched him jump a bit when that same red head gave him a grab as well.  That finally gave her a smile, until she realized she was being as bad as that woman.
Most of the smile faded.