Tag: Agonized

AGONIZED: Agonized By Miriam Rose Mancuso

Word Count
By Miriam Rose Mancuso
Julia hadn’t heard any negative reviews about the Weska Motel down by the Thruway so she figured that’d be the place she could stay while her house was being fumigated. Julia drove her ’09 Chevy down the busy road leading up to the Weska. She parked the car and glossed a fresh purple coat on her lips. Muah muah muah.
Julia stepped out of the car and took a look at the brickwood old motel that stood before her. Green moss had grown up the side of the building and birds had built nests upon the roof but it was beautiful and thankfully not ‘ghetto’. Julia, without taking off her sunglasses, waltzed into the large red-carpeted lobby. A handsome man was waiting at the front desk with a crystal-clean smile.
“Hello, ma’am! How are we doing today?” The man, ‘Devyn’ couldn’t help but gaze at Julia’s ample pink cheeks and long red hair.
Julia clutched her bag in font of her stomach and shivered. She bit her lip. She held back a nervous laugh. “F-fine! I’m doing just fine!” Could Devyn recognize her? Julia shook her head. “I’d like to book a room for 2 nights and 3 days, please.” She fumbled around in her purse for her credit card, trying not to make eye contact with Devyn.
“Sure, under the name…?” Devyn and Julia looked up at each other at the same time. Julia’s blue eyes sunk deep into his deep brown portals of ecstasy.
“Julia Varden,” Julia’s cheeks were bright red and turned even brighter when Julia saw the smile on Devyn’s face.
“Julia Varden? The Julia Varden who’s been dating my man Carl for ten years?” Devyn laughed.
“Correction, 8 years and we aren’t…exactly…dating anymore,” Julia folded her hands in front of her bag so that her stomach wouldn’t catch his eye.
“Yo, what happened? You two were inseparable!” I won’t hold anything against anybody, just please lemme find out the truth from the source,”
Julia took a deep breath and moved the big bag away from her stomach revealing a rather noticeable bump. “Carl wasn’t too happy with little Vivien after all,” Julia’s sunglasses fogged up and a single tear rolled down her cheek. “Now can you please book me a room so I can sit and look up cribs?”
Devyn’s expression hardened. He nodded.
“You said you wouldn’t hold anything against him.” Julia blurted out.
Devyn shook his head. “Room 308D. Free breakfast in the morning.” Devyn handed her the room key and walked into his office, leaving Julia agonized and heavy-hearted

AGONIZED: The Next Chapter By Joann Dickson

451 Words
The Next Chapter
By Joann Dickson

Emma was ready.  Her suitcase was packed and sitting by the door with a few boxes, her personal items that would be going to the assisted living facility with her.  Her daughter Elizabeth was upstairs, tidying a few things before they left.  That was Elizabeth – always “tidying things up” so there were never any loose ends.

Emma knew it was the right decision.  At ninety years of age, she was still in generally good health, considering, but little things were starting to happen.  She would forget to take her meds or sometimes she was a little unsteady on her feet.  Some days she couldn’t remember if she had bothered to eat.  She shouldn’t be rattling around a big old drafty house at her age.  She should be where someone would be checking on her daily and making sure she was eating proper meals.  And since Elizabeth lived two states away, it wasn’t really convenient for her to come home often to check on her.  Emma even had a few friends who had moved into the lovely new facility just a few miles from downtown.  She knew she would get used to it.

Even so, it had taken Emma a while to agree to the move.  After all, she had this big house full of “stuff” and what would happen to all of it?  She had gone from room to room, agonizing over what to give to the grandchildren (if they even wanted it), and what should be donated to Goodwill.  As she had walked through the rooms, the house seemed to be talking to her, reminding her of all the memories the family had shared.  Well, the memories were still in her head, so that was no problem.  It was just all this “stuff”.  Oh well, now it would be Elizabeth’s problem.

Elizabeth, the pragmatic one, came down the stairs with a dustcloth in one hand and a toilet brush in the other.  “There we go, Mom.  Everything neat and tidy.  You won’t have to worry about cleaning this big old museum any more.  Someone will be there to clean your room, cook your meals, see to your meds.  All you have to do is relax and enjoy yourself.  You will still have your knitting, and the home has a wonderful library.  You can borrow books any time you like and take as long as you like to read them.  And your friends will be available for afternoon tea and cards after dinner.  You’ll love it there.”

Emma got up from her chair, took one last look around the living room, picked up her suitcase, and closed the door behind her. 

AGONIZED: An Agonized Decision B.A. Sarvey

Word Count 500
An Agonized Decision
B.A. Sarvey
“You do realize,” Guff said, “the galumpshes must eat some moths. Otherwise, how will they know these mammoths taste terrible? Their pursuit won’t stop. What happens after we’re gone?”
Luna sighed. “I have agonized over this. Is it worth sacrificing a few to save many? What sacrificed is too large? Two? Twenty? Ninety?”
“W…what if g…galumpshes turn to eating dr…dragnos when they no longer have a taste for crystal cave m…moths? Oh m…my! I did not have such a g…good idea after all.”
“Or my execution of it was not well planned. I need to reconsider.” Breathing deeply, Luna centered her thoughts, aided by lavender’s sharpness, rosemary’s remembrance, marigold’s warm spice, moth wings whispering, the hum of earth itself. All else receded. Her trance was so profound, Guff reached out, thinking to bring her back. Howard twitched a wing, warning him off.
Suddenly, Luna’s eyes opened. “They come. We must prepare.”
As planned earlier, Guff stretched out the crystal-encrusted web of words. Howard flew into the tree branches to secure it. The head moth winged away from Luna’s hand, leading the green giants to shelter within the net.
Luna tried to dislodge the other two, but they clung tenaciously. “You would sacrifice yourselves? No need.” Still they refused to leave her. “Lure the galumpshes in, then,” she told them. “I will defend you.”
Moments later, the sun dipped behind the hills, setting the western sky ablaze. The moon emerged at the eastern horizon, gloriously golden. Caught between them, the netted crystals gave back the brilliant radiance of both. Abruptly, the wind quickened, dust whirled, Luna’s silvery hair lashed her face. Darkness encroached as the raucous mass swooped toward the treetops, blotting out sun and moon.
Illuminated by crystals, galumpshes were terrifying. Glorious. Bird-like, yet unlike any birds they had encountered. The plumage took on colors of night—iridescent blue-black, bleeding into violet, fringed with apricot and fiery tangerine. A head shorter than Howard, their wingspan matched Guff’s height. Terrifyingly, the chartreuse beak, longer than Luna’s hand, hooked like a vulture’s. Steely, glinting talons grasped for purchase in the branches, causing netted crystals to swoop and bob like distant falling stars.
The flock shrieked. Driven by terror, they blindly careened away from the netted crystals and moths. And toward the mesmerized group.
“Do something!” Guff’s voice jolted Luna.
“Quickly! Join me!” Hands held, energy blazing amongst the trio and the steadfast companion moths, Luna chanted a spell. Wings flapping wildly, clumsily, galumpshes plummeted. Still dazed, stumbling, they instinctively began yanking weeds, rooting in the earth.
Howard quivered. “Oh m…my. A…m…mazing.”
“What are they doing?” Guff craned for a better look. “Are they dying?”
“No. Eating nettles and nuts. My spell worked. I could not kill them. They, too, create balance.”
“How did you…?”
“I showed them their place in the universe. Not moth-eaters. Seed-sowers.”

Satisfied galumpshes posed no further threat, they un-netted the moths. Luna bowed. Guff whispered goodbye. Howard’s heart ached as they massed over him, fluttered farewell, and away.

AGONIZED: Agonized By Anne Nassar

Word Count
By Anne Nassar

Nana was pregnant. She kept it a secret from her entire family, because she was 51 and did not expect it to end well. She only told her husband and Tessa, her favorite granddaughter, her best girl.
When the time arrived Nana sent for Tessa. She was given some responsibilities. She was to wipe her grandmother’s sweaty brow with a wet cloth, and bring her water to drink. There was to be blood – she was not to mind it. Once the baby was born, she was to go out to the field and get her grandfather, and he would take care of the rest. The labor was easy and the delivery was uneventful. But there was something wrong with the baby. It had extra arms and legs
Tessa was shocked. She had heard of Siamese twins – but this wasn’t two people stuck together. This was one person with a spare body.
Nana asked to see the baby, which was still attached to her. Tessa did her best to wipe the slime off of the squirming, mewling baby. Then, she picked it up. It quieted.
Upon seeing the baby, Nana gave an agonized cry. Tessa told her, don’t worry, Nana, I’ll take care of it for you.
Her grandmother said, sharply, Go get him. Her grandfather could tell by looking at Tessa’s face that something was amiss. They ran back to the house together. When he saw the baby, he drew a ragged breath and looked away.
He told Tessa, don’t tell nobody about this, you hear? He cut the cord and gathered up the baby in a blanket and took it outside.
Tessa made soup for her grandmother, hands shaking, tears running down her face. But Nana turned her face into the pillow. She wouldn’t let Tessa wash her or change the bloody sheets.
When at last her grandfather came back it was night. He didn’t have the baby with him. Tessa hadn’t expected him to, but still. He told her that it had died, that it couldn’t live,
The next day, when it got light, he took Tessa to the place in the woods where he had buried the baby.
“Gotta pray,” he told her.
Tessa tried to, but she didn’t know what she wanted to say to God.
Finally, she said, silently, Hold it close to your heart. But it wasn’t a wish, like most of her prayers. It was an admonition.

AGONIZED: The Store Closes By Beverly Jones

Word Count: 498

By Beverly Jones

Frank agonized over the closing of the store. He eased into the rocking chair bracing his arms on the chair's arms as he lowered himself and arranged his leg. The accident on the railroad had given him the settlement used as down payment on the store, but left him with a shattered knee that wouldn't bend. That leg was now shorter than the other and needed the built up heavy boot he put on every morning upon getting out of bed. 
Maggie, one of the store cats along with Albert, pounced into his lap and curled into a ball. Albert sat Sphinx-like near the cash register on the counter.
"Oh, yes, Maggie, we all need comfort at this time, don't we?" he murmured stroking the warm fur. "It's a tough time for everyone. And now I can't help."
Setting her gently on the floor, he heaved himself to his feet. He wandered the few aisles, stroking the edges of the shelves. He stopped and smiled as he remembered his children Eddie and Elizabeth playfully bickering as they stocked the shelves.
His favorite memory, of course, was Elizabeth rolling down the incline in an old pickle barrel. How his wife Grace was furious over that escapade!
Eddie worked at the bank and Elizabeth taught in a one room schoolhouse in addition to helping at the store. And now they would not need to help at the store. Frank's cousin offered him a position at his business. It was one of the few that survived after the crash of '29. 
He carefully lowered Albert and Maggie into a basket, and limping, balancing the basket, he walked through and softly closed the door behind him. The "Closed" sign swinging on its chain slowly slid to a halt.
What Frank could never have foreseen happened forty years later. Grace had died; Elizabeth and Eddie moved away with their families. He no longer had cats but a blue parakeet and a dime store turtle.
Past his house and up the hill loomed the regional high school. Frank enjoyed sitting in his rocker at the window and watching the enthusiasm of the young people. They always waved as they jounced along the sidewalk.
Frank was surprised by the knock at the door.
"Hi, Mr. Williams! You okay?"
Frank nodded.
"You don't remember me, do you? I'm Jenny Taylor's grandson."
"Of course I remember Jenny." Frank smiled at the memory.
She was a tiny girl with red pigtails and freckles. Her faded overalls were carefully patched at the knee where she caught them on barbed wire while chasing a cow. He always sent home whatever was on the week's grocery list whether he got paid or not.
"Grandma said I was to stop in every now and then and see how you are. She never forgot what you did for all the families during the Depression."
"None of us have."
Several more teens climbed the porch stairs.
"We will take care of you, Mr. Williams."    

AGONIZED: Short and Fast By Nan Ressue

Word Count 485
Short and Fast
By Nan Ressue
Dad said that my brother and I could choose one special activity during the summer which would be our vacation highlight. Also, it couldn’t be really expensive and had to be less than fifty miles from home. We made a dash for the tree house to think it over and agonize over the choices.
“Whadda think Joe? Got any good ideas?”, said my brother with a concerned look on his face.
Pig race day was scheduled for next Tuesday. Any good ideas?”, said my brother with a concerned look on his face. This was a golden opportunity and we didn’t want to blow it.
“Would you choose long and slow or short and fast?”, I asked him in order to get the juices flowing.
“I don’t know. That’s a tough one. Would you like to go to Six Flags? We could be there all day and ride on everything.
“How about the races?” I countered. “Maybe Dad would place a bet for us and we could come home with some cash.
”WOW! That’s it! Short and fast with cash!
“Does it have to be horses?” he asked thoughtfully.
“No but you still could choose between runners and trotters,” still trying to give him choices.
“I know!”, I said, jumping up and down. “Let’s go to the Pig Races! Wouldn’t that be fun? They’re supposed to be the smartest animal in the barnyard but I had my doubts after I heard why they run.”
“Well, why? Are you going to tell me or not?”
With a wise look on my face, the all-knowing big brother said, “They run for Oreos that are at the end of the track.”
“No kidding! Let’s choose that. It sounds like a lot of fun. We rushed into the house to deliver the decision to the one who would drive and place bets.
“OK boys. Check the internet for a pig racetrack within 50 miles and we’re good to go. Success was proclaimed and pig race day was scheduled for next Tuesday.
We pulled into the parking lot and found our way to the track entrance. After some hot dogs and a coke, we ready to make some cash. Dad went to place the bets and we went over to the track to watch the preparations. The guy on the mike was whipping up the crowd’s enthusiasm, practicing cheers. Colored numbered blankets were strapped around each belly, the five racers were herded into the starting gate, and the trap doors banged shut.
“GO 5! Go 5! “ I yelled.
“PIGGY 2 PIGGY 2” my brotherI yelled louder.
The crowd screamed the count down ; FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE, GO!
The gun went off and the pigs took off. That is except the two we choose. Joe’s pig went after the man with the cookie box and mine threw up. Too many cookies.
Maybe we should have picked horses.

AGONIZED: Gone but Not Forgotten By Sally Madison

Word Count: 453
Gone but Not Forgotten
By Sally Madison

The key to the storage unit finally arrived from her mother. Why had Aunt Lydia kept a storage unit in Los Angles? And why would she never have told Mom? As she lifted the overhead door, it squeaked, and cobwebs, dust and stale air drifted out. Lindsey entered the storage unit slowly. It was a time capsule from about the same time that Lindsey was born. Why on earth, would Aunt Lydia have kept this junk, she thought.

The first thing that struck her was the age of the furniture. It was old: a cheap couch, chair, end-table, a dresser, and a single bed. The TV set, box fan and vacuum cleaner were newer, but still as old as Lindsey. On top of the dresser were wine bottles with drip candles, some plastic flowers and a hooded hairdryer. “All junk,” she thought. In the corner were a guitar, ukulele, motorcycle helmet, tennis racket, roller skates, surfboard, 3-speed bike and a tool box. “OK, maybe some of it is salvageable.”

Several boxes were stacked around, also. A box of magazines also held old birthday cards and photo albums, as well as, post cards mixed with business receipts. She glanced in a very large box marked “Kitchen” to find a percolator, toaster oven, dishes, pots and a large dog dish. The boxes marked “Bedroom” and “Bathroom”, she did not open.

In the box marked “Home”, Lindsey found a high school yearbook from 1959 and black and gold pompoms. Also included were a marionette, a Magic 8-Ball, a record player and a stack of 45 rpm records, mostly Elvis. In an old suitcase were clothes: sleeveless blouses, short shorts, sneakers and several baseball caps, all typical for Los Angles.

The flat unmarked box, long enough to hold a small surfboard, was intriguing. She patiently untied the sting on the box and carefully lifted the cover. Tissue paper filled the box. Included was a faded receipt dated the same as the yearbook. With tenderness she opened the layers of tissue. The white satin wedding dress still lay as the dressmaker had laid it.

A jewelry box contained a few pieces of costume jewelry, a black pearl purse and the key to a personal lockbox. In the little gray lockbox, she found a diamond solitaire ring, and bank statements. In an old trunk were college medical books, a dissecting kit, a microscope and a diploma from the Los Angles School of Nursing.

Lindsey had seen pictures, but not until now did she finally understand. Tears welled in her eyes, as she thought, “Aunt Lydia must have agonized each time she wrote the check for the storage unit.” This was Cousin Linda’s storage unit when she left for Vietnam.

AGONIZED: Mother of the Bride By Peg Scarano

Word: Agonized
Word Count: 492

Mother of the Bride
By Peg Scarano

I have three daughters. Two are finally married. I say finally because they are both well into their 30’s. This leads me to a little talk about stress. First there is the engagement and that ensuing party. Then you to have to choose a date when EVERYONE is free and able to attend! Following this is the choosing of a venue, not just for the wedding, but also for the rehearsal dinner. And once the venue for the reception is chosen, you have to decide what to serve during the cocktail hour, the bar menu, the signature drink, dinner options, cake, cake toppers, the after party menu and who is going to spend the night in the 16 rooms available upstairs. Then there is the caterer for the rehearsal dinner; the invitations; the flowers; a theme; the band; your preference of songs; the church, church music before, during and after the ceremony, the readings, and time of day; the photographer; the videographer; who will be the maid of honor; who will be the bridesmaids; who looks good in what color, material and style; who can afford which dress; where are we getting our manicures and pedicures and our hair done; and I haven’t started the part about picking the perfect wedding gown for my beautiful bride! Oh my God the decisions seem endless!

And then there is me – the mother of the bride – who wants to look as young and beautiful as the bride. I need to find a dress (keep in mind my daughters got married within 18 months of each other, so I had to find TWO dresses)! I have my favorite colors in mind but I find my choices are navy blue, burgundy and black unless I go to a bridal shop where they have every color imaginable displayed, but for the mothers, your choices are back to about four fundamental colors.

I look fat. I look short. It’s too sparkly. It’s too plain. It’s too short. It’s too long. What is the groom’s mother wearing? Will it clash with her dress? And remember, the color must harmonize with the bridesmaids’ dresses as well!

After too many stores to count and trying on countless different dresses, the decision is made at last! But then I am reminded by my brides that I must buy new shoes and jewelry to coordinate with my attractive new dress. And, for the wedding with the Kentucky Derby theme, I was informed I also needed a stylish hat! Oh dear God.

After all of the agonizing decisions, the day finally arrives and I decide I look pretty damn good donned in all of my gorgeousness! However, the irony is, no one looked at me. All eyes were on my stunning brides in their beautiful gowns all aglow with the light of love and happiness that a woman feels on her wedding day. It was the Agony and Ecstasy of a lifetime – times two!