Just Having Lunch

Jerry knew that he looked ridiculous. He was wearing sunglasses and fedora, but he didn’t want his wife or her ex-husband to see him.

He was sitting several tables away from Louise and her ex-husband, Jacob, at an outdoor café. The sun was shining, which Jerry was grateful fro, because otherwise he would have looked even more ridiculous in his fedora and sunglasses. The song “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” came into his head. Louise would chuckle at that, if he told her, but of course he couldn’t tell her. He didn’t want her to know how paranoid he was.

It wasn’t that he didn’t trust his wife, he told himself. It was that he didn’t trust her ex-husband. Jacob was a slimy little bastard, from everything he had heard about him. And he was indeed little. Before they saw down, Jerry had stared at them partly because Jacob was at least two inches shorter than Louise. How could she have married someone shorter than her?

They had been ordering earlier, but now they appeared to be deep in conversation. Jacob was leaning across the table as he spoke to Louise, who was still sitting back in her chair, shaking her head. What were they talking about? Jerry had assumed that most of the conversation would be about their kids, who were 8 and 10. Was he trying to get more visitation time?

“Would you like something to drink?” The waitress’s voice made Jerry jump. He didn’t really want anything, but he needed to order something considering he was a customer at this restaurant.

“I’d like a coffee,” Jerry said, “with cream and sugar.” He took a quick glance at the menu to decide what to eat so that the waitress wouldn’t disturb him again. “I’ll also have the turkey and swiss sandwich, no mayo.”

The waitress nodded and scurried away. Jerry refocused his attention on Louise and Jacob. Now they were both leaning forward as they talked. Louise was gesturing quite a bit with her hands, as she always did when she was passionate about something. Jerry was leaning forward, too, but he couldn’t hear anything. Maybe he could just casually walk by and pretend to drop something…

No, that idea was ridiculous. They would both see him for sure, and then his wife would be upset that he didn’t trust her to have lunch with her ex. And he couldn’t blame her for being upset with him. After all, this was really an invasion of her privacy. But, then, she was his wife. And she was having dinner with her sleazy ex-husband. He should be there in case something goes wrong, right?

Apparently the lunch was going very well, though, because Louise had just tipped her head back and laughed. He could even hear her a bit. She had always had a loud, distinctive laugh. What on earth had he said that was so funny?

Then, his wife grabbed the purse from the back of her chair and got up. She was starting to head his direction. He quickly grabbed the wine menu from the center of the table and stared at it to try to hid his face.

It was no use, though. Louise stopped right in front of him.

“Jerry, if you’re going to spy on me, at least don’t wear that stupid fedora.”

Something out there


Annie Shaw relaxed and enjoyed the feeling of the sun beating down on her. The waves were gently washing onto the beach.

“Aren’t you going to go in the water, Annie?”

Annie stretched and looked at her little sister. Amy was 12 years younger than her, and it was hard for her to understand why someone would just lie there and soak up the sun when they could be splashing around in the waves.

“No, Amy, I’m getting a nice tan.”

“But that’s boring. I want to go swimming.”

Annie looked around, but she didn’t see their parents. Amy wasn’t allowed to go into the ocean by herself. Annie looked out into the water and watched the waves for a few moments.

She blinked. What was she seeing out there? She put her hand up to her forehead to shield her eyes from the sun and try to figure out what was out there? Could it be a shark? They were in Florida after all.

Amy was tugging on Annie’s sarong. “Annie, can I go swimming.”

“No, Amy, there’s something out there.” Annie was still trying to figure out what it was, but all she could see was something moving around. Maybe it was just a swimmer, but whatever it was looked so much bigger than a person.

“What is that?” Annie said to no one in particular as she walked toward the water. Amy was following behind her.

A scream made Annie jump and nearly fall over onto the beach. The scream was coming from the water. Now there were many screams and a great deal of splashing as people attempted to get out of the water.

Annie took Amy’s hand. “Amy, I think we better go.”

“What is it, Annie? Why are people screaming?”

Now Annie was swiftly walking away from the water and tugging her little sister along with her. “I don’t know, Amy, but I don’t’ think we should wait around to find out.”

Annie was trying to keep moving, but curiosity made her turn around to see if whatever it was was still behind them.

What she saw made her heart jump into her throat. People were continuing to run out of the water and up the beach, but it the creature that was lumbering through the water that made Annie’s jaw drop. Amy shrieked and grabbed onto her.

“Annie, what is that? Is that a monster?”

Annie didn’t believe in monsters, but she didn’t know what else to call it. It was at least 7 feet tall and gray with scales covering it from head to foot. It was looking around, and Annie found herself frozen for the moment with Amy beside her. The creature turned and stared right at her. It had bright yellow eyes. Annie wanted to run, but her legs felt like lead. There were screams and cries and people running all around here, but somehow they all sounded very distant.

Then the creature turned away from her and roared. It was like nothing Annie had ever heard before. It didn’t sound like a lion or a bear. It sounded almost unearthly.

Then, just like that, the creature turned and stomped back into the water, slowly disappearing under the waves. The water was now calm, as if some unheard-of creature hadn’t just emerged from it and terrorized a beach full of people.

“What was that, Annie? Is it really gone?” Amy asked, looking up at Annie with wide blue eyes.

Annie gave her sister a hug. The legs that had felt like lead moments ago were now able to move again. “I think it’s gone, Amy. Still, why don’t we find Mom and Dad and go home?”

Amy nodded. “Okay. I don’t want to swim anymore now.”

Bad Haircut

Bridget stared at her reflection in horror. “This…this is not what I asked for.”

The stylist looked sheepish. “Sorry. Didn’t you say you wanted your hair short in front and long in back?”

“It’s a mullet! I definitely didn’t say I wanted a mullet!”

“Well, I just got out of beauty school two weeks ago. I guess I thought that was what you wanted.”

“No…no, it most definitely is not,” Bridget said. She couldn’t seem to turn away from her reflection, as much as her new haircut was scaring her.

“Well, maybe I can fix it…”

Bridget jumped out of the chair. “No…No, I think you’ve done enough.”

Bridget knew the stylist hadn’t meant to ruin her hair, but she certainly didn’t trust her to fix it. As she was fleeing the salon, though, her worst nightmare came true. She nearly ran right into Jake Simpson, the boy she had had a crush on since the sixth grade. And he was seeing her with this horrible haircut. Bridget had never wanted the earth to just open up and swallow her up so much.

Jake put his hand on his mouth, and Bridget felt herself turning bright red. It was clear that Jake was trying to keep himself from laughing. It took several moments, and then he finally took his hand away.

“Did…did you just get a new haircut?” he asked, and he couldn’t seem to stop himself from snickering a bit. Bridget turned even redder, if that was possible, as two of Jake’s friends walked up. They didn’t even bother trying to keep themselves from laughing.

Bridget just turned and ran, hoping this nightmare would be over soon. What on earth possessed her to think it was a good idea to try a new salon? She could only hope that Marjory, who had been her stylist for years, would be willing to forgive her. Bridget had started feeling like she wanted something new, but clearly a new stylist was not the answer. She could only hope that Marjory would be able to take her in to fix her hair on short notice.

Marjory’s salon was located in her house. Bridget ran up and pounded on the door, hoping and praying that Marjory could fix this mess that she had gotten herself into.

Bridget felt like she had been pounding on the door for several minutes when Marjory finally opened the door. Marjory’s jaw dropped at the sight of Bridget’s haircut.

“Oh, good Lord! What did you do?”

Bridget almost cried. “I’m so sorry, Marjory. I decided to try different stylist. Clearly it didn’t go very well.”

Marjory continued to stare at Bridget. “To put it mildly. Here, come in.”

“Can you fix it?” Bridget asked, desperation creeping into her voice.

“Well, I think so, but we’ll need to make it really short,” Marjory said.

Bridget sighed. She was worried that would be the case. “That’s okay. I trust you.”

So, Bridget sat down in the chair and let Marjory get to work. Finally, Marjory whirled Bridget’s chair around. She now had a cute pixie cut. Bridget knew it would take some getting used to, but she was thankful to Marjory for managing to fix her horrible haircut.

“You fixed it! Thank you! I promise that I will never go to another salon again.”


“So, why did you decide to come here, John?” Dr. Connor asked in a monotone voice.

John was stretched out on the couch. He tried to decide how much to say. This was his first time visiting a psychiatrist, and he felt rather uncomfortable. “Well, I’ve just really been struggling since my divorce.”

“How so?”

“I don’t know…I just can’t seem to move on,” John said. “I keep wondering if there was a way to save our marriage. And my ex-wife is making things so difficult with our kids.”

“Yes, I hate my ex-wife, too.”

John sat up. “I don’t hate my ex-wife.”

“Well, I do,” Dr. Connor said, his voice now rising. “My ex-wife really screwed me over.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” John said, looking at the door. He wondered if he could get his money back. “But, I’m paying for this session, so shouldn’t we be talking about my problems?”

Dr. Connor ignored him. “She’s awful. I can’t believe she left me. She kept accusing me of cheating on her. Granted, I actually was cheating on her, but that’s beside the point.” He stood up and started pacing back and forth.” Now she has some new boyfriend. I think I’m going to go over there and pull all the flowers out of her stupid garden.”

“I think I should go,” John said, starting to move toward the door.

“Or maybe I’ll knock over her mailbox. Or I could egg her house. Or I could just leave horrible messages on her answering machine. Where are you going? Your appointment isn’t over for another 20 minutes.”

John had just been turning the doorknob. He turned back around. “I don’t think I’m the one who needs a psychiatrist.”

Author note: This was a dialogue exercise for a class.


The Funeral

Author note: This was a class writing exercise. The assignment was to write a scene in first person point of view from one character’s perspective and a third person point of view from another character’s perspective.


People all around me were crying, but I couldn’t seem to join them. I knew that I should, considering this was my mother’s funeral. No tears came, though, just a mix of good and bad memories. More bad than good, especially when I thought about the final time I heard my mother. I didn’t actually speak to her because I forced her to leave a message and then never called her back. She had asked me to come and visit her. Although I knew she was sick, I didn’t think that she would really die. I thought that I had more time. I hadn’t spoken to her in three years, when she told me that she wouldn’t support my new relationship. Kelly and I had actually broken up since then, but I still wasn’t willing to talk to my mother again, at least not yet. I wished now that I hadn’t been so stubborn, though. Perhaps we could have found some common ground.

The minister was speaking about my mother and reading bible verses. She had always been a regular church-goer, but I hadn’t been here in a long time. I couldn’t seem to stop fidgeting. It didn’t help that people around me were staring at me and whispering. I knew they were talking about my estrangement from my mother. They were probably surprised I went to the funeral. In a way, I was a little surprised, too, but I had to at least see her one more time, even if it’s just her body.

As people lined up to go up to the altar and pay their respects, though, I started to wonder if I should even go up there. Was there a point to it? My mother wasn’t there anymore. All I would see was her body. There was no hope of reconciliation now. Just as I was beginning to think about leaving the church and never going up there at all, my aunt came storming up to me. “So, you decided to show up to your mother’s funeral…” she began. I couldn’t even bring myself to listen to her. I just stared down at the ground and thought about all the times I could have fixed things with my mother and failed to do so. I didn’t even try. “Well, it’s too late now,” my aunt said as if hearing my thoughts.

Now, after not being able to cry for days, tears came to my eyes and I looked up at Linda. “I wish that I had come to see her when she was still alive. We had a difficult relationship. You know that. She didn’t support me. Still, I wish that I had at least said goodbye to her. Maybe we could have forgiven each other. But, as you just said, it’s too late for that now.”

I looked up at the altar, and there was nobody there now. So, I walked up to the coffin, not even knowing what I would say to my mother’s body, not even sure why I was bothering to do this. She was so pale as I looked at her. All I could think about was how full of color and life she was, even when we were fighting, which was often. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m not sorry about who I am or my relationship with Kelly, but I’m sorry that I didn’t even try to talk to you again. I’m sorry that I shut you out completely. I wish that I could go back in time and call you back and actually come to visit you, but I can’t. And I loved you, despite everything that happened between us.” I gave one last sad smile to my mother before I walked down the stairs, ignoring all the people looking at me and whispering about me, and headed back out the door.


The church was quiet except for a few choked sobs, a few whispers here and there as those who knew and loved Alice Thompson paid their respects. As Linda Foster walked up to the coffin, all she could think about was how much Alice had wanted to make up with her daughter in her final moments. Yet her daughter never came when she was alive. Here she was, though, at her funeral.

Linda had been watching Chloe throughout the funeral. Even as the minister was speaking, Chloe had just looked around and fidgeted. Linda smiled one last time at her sister and walked back down the stairs. There was Chloe, standing near the end of the church, looking like she was about to make a run for it, not even trying to go up to see her mother’s body. Linda pursed her lips. How could Chloe be so disrespectful at her own mother’s funeral?

Linda marched up to Chloe as it looked like she was about to walk out of the church. “So, you decided to show up to your mother’s funeral. How nice of you. It’s too bad you couldn’t find the time to actually talk to her while she was alive. When was the last time you spoke to her, three years ago? Well, it’s too late now.”

Chloe was looking down at the ground as Linda snapped at her. When she finally looked up, Linda was surprised to see tears in her eyes. “I wish that I had come to see her when she was still alive. We had a difficult relationship. You know that. She didn’t support me. Still, I wish that I had at least said goodbye to her. Maybe we could have forgiven each other. But, as you just said, it’s too late for that now.”

Chloe finally walked up to the coffin as Linda stared after her. Chloe stood by the coffin, talking to her mother for a few minutes. Finally, she turned around, wiped her eyes, and walked down the stairs and out of the church without a word to anybody else.