worldwide A-Z Blog Challenge!! Every day in April (except Sundays), we'll have a new post related to the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. Our theme here on Unwritten is "I Will Survive". I hope these stories will inspire and uplift you. Comments are VERY appreciated!
Z is for Zero for Love
My friend Susan and I have been driving for almost six hours. We’ve returned from our annual teacher convention in Mobile. Thank God for air conditioners in July.
“Let your seat back and take a nap. I’ve got this,” Susan says as she lowers the volume on Lynard Skynard’s ‘Free Bird’.
“Thanks, but we’re only an hour from home. I’m good.” I do take her suggestion to let my seat back though.
While I lie back, my mind travels back to where it always went for the past year.
I missed Ethan. We had a big fuss right before I left for a week of workshops. He didn’t call me, so I didn’t call him, the whole week. I hate it when we argue about the same subject -- his drinking. It goes deeper than that. He admitted to being an alcoholic. My parents were alcoholics and I swore I’d never get mixed up with an alcoholic. I swore, on a Bible!
You would not believe how much I missed him. All too soon, Susan turns down my road. I can’t wait to get home and call him. I might drive over and see him. We pass down my tree lined driveway and …oh happy day…his truck is parked at my house and there he sits on my steps. He wears the red checkered shirt I love.
That’s the same red shirt Ethan wore the first day I saw him. My new neighbor was doing a remodel on the old farm house before moving in. A black haired carpenter with a red checkered shirt and blue jeans kept running a circular saw. Board after board. To this day, to me, the noise of a saw is like the Sirens calling Jason and the Argonauts. You can’t help but answer the call.
One day, EZ, that’s what I like to call him, looked up and saw me watching. He waved. I felt like a teenager with her first crush.
I knew it was corny when I did it, but I couldn’t help myself. I made a pan of brownies, put on fresh make-up, fluffed up my new perm, and took them next door to my new neighbors. I heard the circular saw grinding from inside the house.
A half pint of a man with a beer can in his hand, answered my knock. He had oily brown hair and washed out blue eyes. I could smell the beer on his breath from where I stood on the porch.
“Hey, my name’s Debra. I’m your neighbor and I’ve brought brownies for you and your wife,” I gave my brightest smile.
“Great. My wife, Cindy, isn’t here right now. I’m Roy. She loves brownies. Come on in and meet my dad and carpenter friend, zzzz.”
I didn’t catch the name I had been waiting for days to hear. I said, “Excuse me, what’s his name?” as I followed him into the house and on toward the kitchen.
“Zzzz.” He repeated.
What was wrong with my hearing? I hated to ask again but I was desperate to know the name of the tall, skinny, god-like creature I had fallen for from afar.
My neighbor stopped, turned around to face me square on and said, I call him EZ but his name’s Ethan Simpson.”
Is that not THE most wonderful name? Not John, or Paul, or Barry. Ethan. Such a strong name.
By now, we were in the kitchen and I was introduced to Roy’s dad. He was an older gentleman, short like his son, except heavy in the belly area. I surveyed the room. Where was this Ethan, young deity of my dreams?
“Hey Ethan, come on out and meet my pretty, new neighbor, Debra.”
A thin, long legged man unrolled himself from underneath a cabinet. I tried to prevent a big old smile from consuming my face, but I just couldn’t do it. When he stood and stretched to his six foot plus some inches, I just stood there like a goof ball.
Have I mentioned my second divorce had been finalized two years before and I was just now finding myself ready to get back to dating? Having no luck, I hated to admit.
“Glad to meet you, Debra.” His black eyes swept up and down me. He had a full black beard. I swear he could have been a pirate captain and I would have sailed away with him right then and there. One of those ships with huge billowing sails. Or a lumber jack. Maybe Old Spice would hire him to make their men’s cologne commercials, and I could be a tester. His voice…smooth, warmed molasses, a deep resonance that would rumble in his chest had I put my hand there.
Heat rushed to my face.
“She brought brownies,” Roy interrupted my thoughts.
“I don’t eat sweets,” Ethan said. Of course he didn’t. How could you be that thin and eat brownies?
I’m sure the grin was still stuck to my face when he released my hand. A feather’s touch of crow’s feet creased the outsides of his wonderful eyes.
Roy shuffled around the kitchen a bit, bringing me out of my stupor.
I should have been looking at Roy but instead I looked at Ethan. “Well, I just came by to say hi, and welcome.”
After that, we dated for a wild, glorious six months. He introduced me to the Eagles and Pink Floyd. I found him to be so very thoughtful and charming, when he wasn’t drinking. He morphed into a knuckle-dragging monster when he was.
I yawn, stretch and turn to Susan. She’d put up with me talking about him all week long. I’m sure she felt relieved to dump me and my things in the yard and then take off homeward to her husband. She said I’d missed Ethan so much that it made her lonely for her husband.
He’s here. I watch as he pushes his tall, lean frame up from my wooden steps to come and help me get my bags out of the car. He opens my door, takes my hand, lifts me to him, and then he kisses me sweetly, right there in front of Susan. His gentleness causes tears to fill my eyes.
Then, the car door opens and I turn to see Susan getting out of the car. She walks around to open my door.
“Sorry sleepy head. I wish you could have slept longer, but you’re home now.”
I jerk to see there’s no truck in my yard, no Ethan on the steps, and no one to welcome me home. I turn my head to hide my tears, and think…let me just add this to the on-going score -- zero for love, one hundred and one for alcohol.
L. K. Killian is a retired school counselor who loves writing Flash Fiction. She belongs to the Flash Dance writing group at Writers Village University. If you liked this story, you might also want to read her two books: Journey to Rome and Hadrian’s Rome. You can find them on Amazon and Smashwords. Her blog page: http://lkkillian.blogspot.com/