The Heart Wants Those Magic Moments

Lena tried her best to keep her composure as J.D. stared at her from behind his desk. She could feel his stare everywhere, and it made her burn.  She took a deep breath and looked up. He was on the phone, but his eyes were trained on her. She let out the breath and looked back down at the paperwork in front of her. She could not let him do this to her. She had someone to come home too. She had someone that counted on her. She had someone…someone…her thoughts wavered. She had to look at him again. She slowly raised her head and saw that he was standing now still on the phone looking through a file cabinet in his office. Her eyes traveled looking at his dark brown hair, his green eyes, his soft lips and then his angular bearded jaw as it moved in frustration. She smiled as her eyes traveled even further down. His striped shirt that covered his broad shoulders well. His jeans…Annabelle stopped cold. She shook her head as if it could clear her thoughts away.

“Stop it, Lena. You can’t think that way about your boss.” She whispered to herself looking back down at her work.

“Thinking what way Miss Daniels?” a deep voice asked. She jumped at the intrusion. She looked up into his green eyes and smiled appropriately. She prayed he did not know what she was thinking.

“I need to stop thinking about this paperwork,” Lena said half heartily. She knew her answer was lame but sighed in relief when J.D. accepted her answer.

“Paperwork is the bane of our existence,” he replied smiling at her. “Can I see you in my office, please?”

Lena nodded and followed J.D. as he closed the door behind them, slowly locking it tight. She stood near his desk as he closed the blinds, shutting the two of them off from the office. They both looked at each other. It had felt like hours before J.D. made the first move. He grabbed Lena’s hand and pulled her closer to him. Gently taking her head in his hands, he laid a kiss on her lips that shook her to the core. She felt her hands wrap around his neck to pull herself closer to him. They broke apart to take a breath.

“I’ve wanted to do that all day.”

Annabelle stopped. Her eyes glazing over. She continued Lena’s thoughts in her head. She knew what she had written. She sighed and let her head fall onto the table with a loud ‘thunk.’

“Ow,” She said aloud to no one. She knew she had to write this. To get Ethan out of her head. His looks. His voice. His concern. His advice. His annoying ways. The way he smiles. The way he moves. The feel of his beard on her cheek. His eyes. His lips.

“STOP IT,” Annabelle yelled aloud to herself. She raised her head and ran her hands through her hair. She needed to stop thinking this way. She needs to write it and then burn it. Just to get it out of her mind. This was one piece of writing Ethan didn’t need to see. She looked up at Lena and J.D. in mid-embrace. She felt her jaw go slack.

“Oh my God,” Annabelle said noticing something different about J.D. His eyes had changed from brown to green but most importantly of all, J.D. sported a beard that he never had before. A panic grew.

She saved the small piece of writing under a different name and a different file. Never to be seen by anyone but her. Taking a deep breath, she shut her laptop and watched her two characters carefully. It was like watching the beast turn into the prince. J.D.’s green eyes and new beard disappeared into thin air as he dropped his arms from Lena.

Annabelle let out a sigh of relief as her little secret died the minute she closed that laptop.  That relief short lived as she realized what had just happened.


“Let me guess? You don’t like what you wrote again? God, why can’t we get a creator that knows what she is doing?” Lena asked walking away from J.D. to lean against the kitchen table towards Lena.

“Why are you so bitter? I don’t write you that way.” Annabelle asked her earning a shrug in return.

“I like being bitter.” Lena announcing letting out a loud laugh.

“Why don’t you guys start dinner. I know J.D. wanted to try out a new recipe.” Annabelle responded, rolling her eyes in response. J.D. smiled at her as he turned towards the kitchen.

“Should we expect Ethan?” Lena asked with interest. Annabelle looked up startled at the question.

“No. Not tonight. It’s guys night with Eli and Jack.” Annabelle said getting her wits about her.  Lena raised one eyebrow before giving Annabelle a lazy smile.

“Right. Guys night.  Not like Ethan hasn’t ditched that before for you.” Lena said getting J.D.’s attention.

Annabelle sat up straight, her fingers messing with the top of her laptop. “Don’t make me lift this back up and have you do the Macarena for hours on end.”

Lena let out a laugh before winking at Annabelle. “J.D.! Buddy. Let’s make some dinner!”

As Lena distracted J.D. from the conversation Annabelle didn’t want to have, she laid her palms down on the top of her laptop.



Men in Santa Hats

It was the week before Christmas. Most people would be out shopping, rushing to get the last perfect gift for their friends and family.  That is not what Annabelle is doing. She is sitting in a bar, an elf hat on her head, gripping onto a beer bottle.  She let her brown eyes scan the bar around her.  Her mother was at the end with three of her friends taking shots, Elizabeth was closer to the live band, reindeer antlers adorned on her head as she swayed to the music. Lena sat next to her a sour look on her face.

“This is pathetic.”

“We haven’t even started yet. This is the meeting point for everyone.” Annabelle explained taking a sip of her beer. “Get a drink and relax. It’s going to be a long night.”

Lena gave Annabelle a look before calling over the bartender.  Annabelle swung herself around on the bar stool to watch Elizabeth sway to the band who were playing a rock version of ‘O come all ye faithful.’

“Who is paying for this?” Lena asked loudly as the bartender made her vodka soda for her.

Annabelle turned around in her chair to look at the bartender. Leaning in she whispered, “Men in Santa Hats.”

The bartender nodded and walked away to take care of another customer. Lena looked at Annabelle a big smile growing on her face. “Is that how I should have been paying all this time? Why have money?”

“No. It was set up in advance. Each bar we go to will have that code. They will bill my mom later.” Annabelle explained taking a long swig of her beer.  Lena raised her glass towards Sarah in appreciation before downing her drink in a few gulps.

“Bartender!” Lena called out all excitedly as the bartender made his way back to the two girls. Lena leaned in suggestively towards the bartender. “Men in Santa Hats.” The bartender winked at her as he took her glass.

“I need to reevaluate how I’m writing you these days,” Annabelle muttered under her breath as she finished her beer. As the bartender came back with Lena’s drink, Annabelle pointed to her own. The bartender grabbed her beer from the cooler without breaking eye contact with Lena.

“4.50.” The bartender said to Annabelle leaning against the bar towards Lena.

Annabelle stared at him in amazement. She had ordered from him just five minutes before. She looked around quickly to make sure no one was close enough to hear. “Men in Santa Hats.” She said flatly. The bartender didn’t respond.

“She’s with me,” Lena said to the bartender moving in closer across the bar.

“Who is me?” The bartender flirted back.

Annabelle sat there for a moment before grabbing the beer from the bar and slipping off her seat. “Jokes on him. I have never written a sex scene with her in it. God knows if she knows what she is doing.” Annabelle muttered as she walked towards Elizabeth on the dance floor.

“HEY!” Elizabeth yelled over the music. The band was now playing ‘Hotel California, ’ but Elizabeth was still swaying to a nonexistent beat.  Annabelle playfully rolled her eyes as Elizabeth put her arm around Annabelle’s shoulder forcing her to sway to the music with her. Annabelle laughed as they swayed to the music, the band appreciative of their participation. Annabelle felt herself relax for the first time today as she took a sip out of her beer bottle.

“Annabelle! ANNABELLE!” a screeching voice came from behind the two, Annabelle tensed up, dragging her beer bottle back to her lips, chugging what is left.  She moved away from Elizabeth and made her way over to her mother, who was flanked by two of her best friends.

“Hey, mom,” Annabelle said as she walked over with her empty beer bottle. She placed it on the bar.

“Annabelle? Your buddy is keeping the bartender busy. Can you get him to come back over here?” Sarah asked with a big smile.

Annabelle gave a strained smile back as she looked down at the other end of the bar. Lena was practically sitting on the bar now as she twirled her hair and batted her eyelashes at the bartender.  He was talking animatedly about something that Annabelle was sure Lena didn’t understand.  She was like a newborn in so many ways. Taking a deep breath she walked towards the two of them, trying to work out a way to get the bartender back to her mother and her friends.

“Hey, bartender guy,” Annabelle said as she walked up. Lena looked over at Annabelle with a disgusted look.

“Annabelle! We are in the middle of something here.” Lena said through gritted teeth.

Annabelle cocked her head in amusement. “Do you want me to call J.D.?”

Lena’s demeanor changed as she hopped off the bar.  She gave a brief smile at the bartender before running off towards Elizabeth.  The bartender yelled after her.

“Who is J.D.?” The bartender asked giving Annabelle a confused look.

“Her husband.”

“She didn’t have a ring on.”

“Yeah well, I’m not there yet in the book,” Annabelle responded leaning against the bar. “I’m going to need you to go back down the bar towards those three ladies. They will be giving this fine dive bar lots of money tonight so you better start sucking up for a great tip.” Annabelle told him, slightly surprised at her candor towards the stranger.  Looking confused he nodded at Annabelle as he made his way towards her mother. Annabelle watched as her mother mouthed a ‘thank you’ before giving the bartender her order. Annabelle felt herself smile.

“Lena, that’s not how normal people dance,” Elizabeth yelled before falling into hysterics. Annabelle couldn’t take her eyes off her mother. She was proudly showing off her ring to the bartender, a bright smile on her face as he took her hand to look closer.  She hadn’t seen her mother that happy since she was a little kid.  Her mother let her hand drop to her side as she grabbed her Cosmo to take a sip.

“You don’t have a drink.” A voice asked breaking Annabelle’s thoughts.  She turned towards the voice and came face to face with a stranger. He looked like the guys she saw coming out of the frat houses in the morning.  Skinny jeans, a button up shirt and meticulously styled hair.

“Nope. I don’t.” Annabelle answered.  The bartender made his way back to them grabbing a beer from the cooler underneath and handing it over to Annabelle. “Now I do.”

The stranger laughed as he took a sip of his drink. “So, what brings you here?”

“It’s my mom’s bachelorette party,” Annabelle told him pointing over at her mother at the end of the bar.

“Congratulations are in order then. What are the plans for the night?” the stranger asked leaning in closer to Annabelle. Annabelle leaned away.

“We are just hanging out here. Maybe we will bar hop around. It’s all up to the bride.” Annabelle told him taking a swig of her beer. She saw the other two bridesmaids walk through the door, their hats on their heads, Annabelle waved at them as they passed, hoping they would stop. They didn’t.

“Sounds like a fun time. Excited to have a stepdad?” The man asked moving in even closer to her.

Annabelle gave a polite smile and moved back. “What are you up to tonight?”

The guy sighed and looked down at his drink. “I’m waiting for some friends. Decided to get here early. Check out the talent.” He said, winking at her.

Annabelle tried to keep her polite smile up. “Talent?”

“I have to admit, I didn’t expect to find anyone, but I see things are looking up.” The stranger said to her with a low voice, moving closer again.  Annabelle let her smile fall, her mind scrambling to find a way out of the conversation when a godsend appeared.

“THE MEN IN SANTA HATS HAVE ARRIVED.”  A familiar voice yelled out into the bar.  Eli and his groomsmen walked into the bar all wearing the same pair of Santa Hats that had lights on the ball at the end. Annabelle could see out of the corner of her eye her mother perk up.

“Oh come on! How come he can yell out the secret code word!?” Lena shouted to Annabelle, her hands on her hips in annoyance.

“What code word?” Annabelle yelled back giving Lena a dirty look. Lena gave her a dirty look back as she turned her attention to the men walking into the room. Annabelle’s eyes quickly searched for one person.

“Ethan! Hey, baby! Come here.” Annabelle yelled once she spotted Ethan wander in.  He stopped short and looked at her from the door.  He looked at her with one eyebrow raised as she waved him on.  He pushed through and slowly walked towards Annabelle, his puzzled look still present on his face. Annabelle wrapped her arm around his waist and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek.

“What are you guys doing here?” Annabelle asked with an extra sweetness in her voice.  Ethan looked down at her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders in response. He looked up at the guy who was still standing a little too close.

“You know Eli. He can’t stay away from Sarah for too long,” Ethan told her as he looked the stranger over, “Hi. I’m Ethan Cooper.”

“My boyfriend.” Annabelle quickly added to the end of Ethan’s sentence. The stranger backed up a bit and put out his hand for Ethan to shake.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Harry. I was just keeping your girl company. Have a great night.” Harry said backing off and walking away.  Annabelle and Ethan stood there, their arms still around each other.

“Is he gone?” Annabelle whispered as she leaned in closer to his ear.

Ethan looked around and leaned down slightly. “He is behind us. Hold on, baby.” Ethan whispered in her ear making her laugh.

“I’m so sorry for that. I owe you one.” Annabelle whispered back into his ear.

“Eh. This one is on me, honey.” Ethan whispered back. Annabelle squeezed his waist in response.

“So, seriously, why are you idiots here?” Annabelle asked as she watched the groomsmen wander around the room.  Annabelle craned her neck to see J.D. and Lena having a conversation on the dance floor, every so often J.D. looked over at them.

“I wasn’t kidding. Eli missed Sarah. It’s sweet.” Ethan told her.  He let his fingers rub at her shoulder. The two of them stood there in comfortable silence as the two parties mingled around them.

“Hey, you two. What’s going on?” Elizabeth asked as she came over.  The two of them broke apart, Annabelle a bit faster than Ethan.

“He saved me from a real charmer. Where the hell were you?” Annabelle asked crossing her arms.  Ethan smirked as he walked over to lean against the bar.

“I was listening to Lena talk about the bartender. I thought she and J.D. see each other?” Elizabeth asked looking back at where J.D. and Lena were standing.  “Also, I could have sworn J.D.’s eyes were brown.”

Ethan’s head snapped over to J.D. Annabelle looked over to trying to see J.D.’s eyes. “Maybe he has the type of eyes that change color. It does happen.” Annabelle reasoned as she heard Ethan huff in response.  J.D. looked over at her giving Annabelle a good look at his face.

“They are green,” Annabelle said. J.D. noticed Annabelle staring and waved over at her.  Annabelle waved back before turning to Ethan, who was now staring down at his beer bottle. Before anyone could talk again, Jack popped through the doors of the bar. “Hey! Next time warn a guy when the whole party changes location.” Jack yelled as he noticed the three of them standing next to the bar.

“Ah. The ladies of the hour. How are you two doing on this fine night?” Jack asked slightly stumbling into the side of the bar.  Elizabeth laughed as he grabbed onto her shoulders to steady himself.

“We are good. I see you are doing good too.” Elizabeth said to him still laughing at his antics.  Annabelle gave a smile as she turned back towards Ethan who was staring at Jack.

“Maybe you should call it a night,” Ethan suggested.

Jack shook his head. “Nah. I just need some water and coffee. I have to be here for my dad.”

The four of them turned their attention to the end of the bar where Eli was hugging Sarah, big smiles on their faces. The bar had gotten considerably louder, but you couldn’t tell just looking at them.  They were in their own little world.  Annabelle felt herself smile at the couple as they stood there oblivious to their looks.

“It’s been a weird month, hasn’t it?” Ethan asked Annabelle quietly.  Annabelle broke out of her trance.  Elizabeth and Jack had moved down the bar to order their drinks, leaving Ethan behind with her.

“Really weird. I didn’t change his eye color. I don’t think I did.” Annabelle said to him.  They both looked over at J.D. who was still looking at Annabelle.

“You know J.D. has a crush on you,” Ethan said suddenly, taking a long sip out of his beer.  Annabelle looked at Ethan with a big smile on her face.

“No, he doesn’t!” Annabelle said to him laughing at his serious expression.

“Yes, he does. I can tell.” Ethan told her moving in a little closer towards her.

She leaned in closer to Ethan looking at him with fake outrage. “Explain yourself then.”

Ethan wrapped his arm around Annabelle’s shoulders again, pulling her in close to his body.  She let him do that, melting into him.  He leaned down and pressed his lips against her temple. It was a simple sweet act that sent shivers down her spine.  Annabelle looked up at J.D. who had a scowl on his face.  She saw him put his hands into his pockets as he watched Ethan.  She saw a similar flash in his now green eyes.

“Oh my God,” Annabelle whispered.

Ethan pulled his lips away from her temple and put them near her ear. “Told you. Somehow, your creation has a thing for you.”

“No. Well, yes but I know what is going on now.” Annabelle whispered back.  She looked down and then back up at Ethan biting her lip. “I’m turning J.D. into you, Ethan.”

Watching My Stories

Annabelle walked up to her apartment carrying take out for the four of them when she heard Ethan yelling through the door. Concerned, she quickly opened the door and threw herself into the apartment. There Ethan sat on the couch yelling at the television in front of him. Annabelle took a deep breath and dropped the bags of food onto the counter. She turned her head to survey the apartment.
“Where are J.D. and Lena?” Annabelle asked Ethan. She was met with silence. She could see Ethan physically stiffen. “Well?”
“Um. Lena is in your room reading a book and J.D. is in the bathroom.” Ethan reported, his voice soft. She could see him slowly inching his way towards the remote that sat next to him on the couch.
“What are you watching?” Annabelle asked moving closer to the couch. She could see his fingers stop their journey. Almost like they were embarrassed. Annabelle leaned against the back of the couch and leaned down towards Ethan’s neck. She could see his green eyes were panicked, his whole body frozen. She placed her mouth close to his ear.

“Ethan. Is that a soap opera?” She whispered dramatically.
She saw his eyes dart around the room before letting out a sigh, his whole body relaxing. “Yes. It is a soap opera. I like to watch soap operas.” Ethan announced a slight quiver in his voice.
Annabelle pushed herself back up and away from the couch to grab some French fries out of the take-out bag. She wandered back towards the front of the couch, plopping down next to Ethan. “I love soap operas. I was raised on the CBS lineup. Every day after school my grandma used to pick me up, and we would watch all the soaps she taped that day. I don’t think I know this one.” Annabelle told him as she gingerly bit into a fry.
Ethan looked over at her in wonder. She noticed, out of the corner of her eye, Ethan bite his bottom before giving her a small smile. “This is a British soap called Emmerdale. I got addicted during my freshman year in college.” Ethan told her reaching over to grab a fry.
Annabelle moved the fries out of his reach giving him a playful look. “My fries. Yours are on the counter.” Ethan kept reaching over, Annabelle moving even farther away on the couch. With a smirk and gleam in his eyes, he ran his hands down towards her sides.

“Don’t you dare.” She warned.
Both were still. Annabelle felt her breathing grow labored as she waited for the tickle assault on her body. Ethan stared her down, biting his bottom lip. “Does Jack know you have your stories?” Annabelle asked with baited breath.
Ethan’s eyes darkened as he slowly smiled at her. She could feel his fingers start to press down on her waist lightly. The first assault made her giggle before he began to tickle. Once he got going, she felt she was going to die from laughter. She squirmed on the couch trying her best not to flash the guy. He laughed along with her as she yelled for a truce at the top of her lungs. He stopped looking down at the floor next to the couch. Annabelle took the interruption as the time to catch her breath. That is when she noticed she was laying down on the couch and he was straddling her hips.
“The fries fell onto the floor,” Ethan announced. Annabelle tore herself away from the scene in front of her to see her fries spilled all over the floor.
“Come on! I guess you are sharing your fries now. See? Tickling is a lose/lose situation.” Annabelle told him crossing her arms over her chest in defiance. Ethan’s eyes shifted over to Annabelle’s. He let his hands travel down to her hips as Annabelle gently wrapped her legs closer to Ethan’s.
“I don’t know. Things don’t seem so bad now.” Ethan whispered. Annabelle’s breath hitched as she uncrossed her arms and let her hands glide up Ethan’s arms cupping his face. She gently rubbed her thumb across his cheek. He melted into her touch, moving down, his lips inches away from hers. She licked her lips and closed her eyes as she felt his warm breath.
“I don’t understand why so many adults love Harry Potter? It’s just an allegory for innocents, war and standing up to bullies!” Lena’s voice ran through the living room. Annabelle opened her eyes and pushed Ethan off her. She watched in horror as he fell off the couch and onto the floor near the fries.
“Oh my god. I’m sorry!” Annabelle heard herself squeal as she sat up on the couch. Ethan, on his back, stared up at her with a dazed expression.
“What’s going on? Is everyone ok?” J.D.’s voice rang out as he left the bathroom. He rushed over to the couch. “Are you ok Annabelle?”
Ethan huffed in response.
“I’m fine. Ethan?” Annabelle asked putting her hand out for Ethan to grab. He looked at it for a minute before taking the offer. She helped him sit up and lean against the edge of the couch.
“I think we interrupted Mom and Dad.” Lena sing-song to J.D. as she gave Annabelle a wink.
Annabelle looked at her concerned. “I need to adjust how I am writing you. At least you aren’t so angry anymore.”
Ethan hummed in response as he cleaned up the French fries on the floor. Annabelle watched him, but her mind was somewhere else. Mostly remembering his breath as he got closer. She placed her fingers gently onto her lips, remembering.
“Is this our food?” Lena asked as she opened the bag, pulling out the other set of fries.
“HEY! Those are Ethan’s fries. Drop them.” Annabelle bellowed making Ethan jerk in response.
“It’s fine. We all can share.” Ethan said giving Annabelle a wink. He stood up with the floor fries and wandered over to the kitchen to throw them out. Annabelle grabbed the remote and paused Ethan’s soap opera.
“Tell me more about this soap you are so embarrassed to be watching,” Annabelle asked as she turned her attention to the paused screen. Two guys were sitting in a pub with pints in front of them.
Ethan looked up at the screen and gave a smile. “Well, that is Emmerdale. It is set in a village, and it’s about the adventures the village people have.”
“Sounds good. Want to watch from the beginning of the episode?” Annabelle asked him.
Lena groaned in response. “I’m going to eat in your room. I’m not into soaps. J.D.? Wanna watch with me?” Lena asked batting her eyelashes. J.D. shrugged and followed Lena into the bedroom.
Annabelle made herself comfortable on the couch as Ethan got his food. He walked back and looked questionably towards Annabelle. “Aren’t you hungry?”
“Nah. I’ll eat later. Let’s watch.” Annabelle said changing the subject. Pressing the remote to play the show from the beginning, Annabelle settled in. As she watched the opening theme, Ethan offered her a French fry. She considered it a minute before taking it and throwing it into her mouth. She could see him smile at her.
They watched in silence, Ethan handing her a French fry every couple of minutes. After a while, Ethan becomes engrossed as they get to the scene she walked in on earlier. Two guys, Annabelle guessed were married, stare at each other from across the street. Both take a deep breath before running to each other for a hug, one throwing his bag to the ground and pulling the other man close to him. Both were breathing as heavily as their hearts beat, the show went into a commercial break.
“Wow. That was intense.” Annabelle said looking over at Ethan. She noticed his eyes were shining as he stared at the screen. “Are you ok?”
He broke from his spell and quickly rubbed his eyes against his arm. “I’m all right.” He murmured.
“Were you crying?”
“Maybe. It’s just, these two have gone through so much, and there have so much more to face.” Ethan said to her his voice uneven. “They have one hell of a love story. I should show you what happened from the beginning some time.”
“What? Like, true love? Yeah, ok. That can only happen in a soap opera.” Annabelle replied reaching over to his plate to take another fry. She slowed after seeing Ethan’s astonished face. “What?”
“You don’t believe in true love?” Ethan asked grabbing the remote and paused the show.
Annabelle felt a shift in the atmosphere. “I feel like true love is manufactured for movies, tv shows, novels and holidays that require greeting cards.”
“You write romance,” Ethan said as if he was still trying to get his mind around her statement.
“Yeah, I can control that romance. I can make it work out the way it should. I can make it messy, and I can make it clean. I’m the master of the romance universe.” Annabelle explained feeling slightly uncomfortable at Ethan’s expression.
“That’s no fun. Romance is that factor that throws your world off kilter. It is the thing you didn’t know you needed there. It is that person that keeps you center. It’s your partner in crime. It’s the other half of our damaged, broken soul.” Ethan told her, his voice rising with excitement.
“Are all souls damaged and broken?” Annabelle asked with a teasing tone.
“All the best ones are. Maybe that’s why you are having so much trouble writing for J.D. and Lena. You deny your romantic center.” Ethan told her grabbing the remote and fiddling with the buttons.
“I don’t think I have that romantic center,” Annabelle admitted. Ethan looked her with soft eyes that made her stomach flip and flutter away. “Does that mean I will be stuck with those idiots forever?” Annabelle quickly joked trying to defuse the intense feeling that went through her. Ethan laughed in response and put his arm around the back of the couch and started the episode back up.
Annabelle watched him as he watched this couple he seemed to love. She sat back and slowly moved in closer to him, letting her body lean against his. His eyes never left the screen as he took his stretched-out arm and moved it around her shoulders pulling her in closer. She smiled and watched the show Ethan seemed to love so much.
Maybe she did have that romantic center. It just needed to be woken up by the right person.

The Mary Sue Project

Wrote this three years ago. Still cracks me up. Don’t know if it’s going into the novel I’m writing now. Either way, enjoy!


“I just don’t know what to do,” J.D. said to his best friend as he picked at his pancakes, “I miss her so much. I don’t know if I can go on without her.” J.D. gave up on eating his pancakes and dropped the fork.
“I know it is hard. It has been a year since she died.” His oldest friend Jack said to him, almost as a reminder.
J.D. sighed. “I know it has been a year. A year and no closure. For all, we know she may still be out there! Looking for me.”
“In the ocean?” Jack snapped back. He immediately wanted to take it back the minute it left his mouth.
J.D. sighed again. His placed his head in his hands and muttered, “I know. I know. It’s hopeless.”
“Nothing is ever impossible. You always got to think positive!” an unfamiliar voice said. J.D. slowly raised his head back up. There was a young blonde waitress with big brown eyes carrying a pot of coffee with a big smile. J.D. could not help but smile back.
“Hi,” He said.
“Hi yourself,” the waitress said, winking.
“What is happening right now?” Jack asked confused at the situation in front of him.
“What is your name?”J.D. asked leaning forward.
“My name is Bell. Anna Bell. I’m just a waitress to help pay my way through graduate school.” She said confidently.
“That is so fascinating. I must know
Annabelle stopped herself. She stared at the words and then changed focus to J.D. and Lena, who stood in front of her. She was not sure if this would be a gamble. At least killing off Lena did not kill her off in this world. Lena sat on the couch staring forward, her eyes glassy and her body unmoving. It was creepy. J.D. was facing Annabelle and talking to her as if she were Jack. A new character she pulled out of her, well, you know where this is going. Annabelle watched J.D. as he stood frozen, that goofy smile on his face. She took a deep breath and pushed a piece of her hair behind her ear. She set her fingers on the home keys but could not make herself write. She bit her lip before doing the one thing she never wanted to do.
“Ethan? Ethan! I need you!” Annabelle yelled out. She heard a door open, and footsteps come down the hall.
“You need me?” Ethan said suggestively. Annabelle looked at him and rolled her eyes.
“You wish baby doll. I need another pair of eyes on this.” Annabelle said to him pointing to the computer. Ethan got closer. A confused look came over his face.
“Why is J.D. facing you with that creepy look on his face,” Ethan asked, “is the joker looking for a new sidekick?”
Annabelle playfully hit his stomach and pointed to the computer screen. “Read. Need advice.” Ethan leaned over Annabelle’s shoulder and read the scene. She sat quietly waiting for him to finish. Ethan leaned back when he was done.
“Wow,” He said. “It is like watching Skynet become self-aware.”
“I know.”
“It’s like seeing what teenagers fangirl brain is like when running on all cylinders.”
“Bell. Anna Bell? Come the fuc..”
“Got it. Deleted.”

Stop Fondling My Books

“This is really nice. I’m glad we did this.” Sarah said picking up her wine glass and taking a sip.  Everyone sitting around the table muttered in agreement. Annabelle did a quick assessment as everyone settled in.  Eli only had eyes for her mother; Jack was staring thoughtfully at the menu while Ethan stared straight ahead while drumming his fingers on the table.

“So, Eli, how did you and my mom meet?” Annabelle asked breaking the silence.

Eli gave Annabelle a blinding smile. “So, a few months ago, I was sitting there with my coffee in Starbucks reading the paper when I noticed your mom sitting nearby. She was giggling at her nook, and she has one hell of a laugh. I had to talk to her. I didn’t want to look like a creep or someone with a bad pick up line or anything,” Eli explained. “I decided to be brave and walk over there and ask her. Point blank.”

“The rest they say is history,” Sarah said giving Eli a wink. Eli gently grabbed Sarah’s left hand across the table and planted a kiss.  Annabelle watched them eyes traveling to their joined hands.  She could not help but notice that her mother’s ring finger was sparkling.

“Your finger is shining,” Annabelle said.  Eli and Sarah paused before letting go of each other’s hands.

“That shiny object is one of the reasons why we had this dinner,” Sarah said.  Annabelle looked over at Jack who was looking over at her confused.

“Eli and I are engaged.” Sarah blurted out.  Annabelle stared blankly at her before sitting back in her seat, her fingers gripping the armrest of the chair.

“You two are engaged?” Annabelle asked quietly.

Jack looked at his dad and then Sarah.  “I thought Annabelle knew about this. I thought this was a celebratory dinner.”

“Does it look like she knew?” Ethan muttered. Annabelle looked over at Ethan before shooting a look at her mother.

“When did this happen?”

Annabelle asked. Sarah looked down at the table. “Two weeks ago.”

The three of them looked over at Annabelle.  She gave a quick nod towards her mother before standing up and walking straight out of the restaurant.

She felt the cold instantly on her bare arms as she walked out the restaurant door.  Annabelle crossed her arms as she walked faster towards her place.  Her mother. Engaged. Annabelle was in uncharted territory.  She was used to her mom dating, but she never expected it to go this far.  Annabelle was convinced her mom would be an old blue haired lady in Florida having a Golden Girls moment. Not engaged in Jersey.

Annabelle slowed when she got to her building and walked inside. As she walked the two floors to her apartment, she could hear a Talking Heads song blasting through her door. Annabelle instinctually reached towards her purse quickly remembering it wasn’t there. She left everything she needed at the restaurant.  She sighed and raised her fist to bang on the door trying to compete with the wailings of Road to Nowhere.  She waited a few seconds before banging on the door again.  She could hear the music stop and the locks clicking open.  The door swung open to reveal Elizabeth with a beer in one hand and a cookie in her mouth.

“Don’t you ask who it is before opening the door? Do you know how dangerous it is just to open the door?” Annabelle yelled barging past Elizabeth who was stunned to see Annabelle banging on her door.

“Don’t crazy people, like you, usually use a key?” Elizabeth asked her voice muffled from the cookie.  Annabelle had already made her way to her fridge and was rummaging for something stronger than beer.  When she spotted the Silver Patron tequila bottle behind the Slim Fast shakes, she could hear a heavenly chorus.  She grabbed the bottle and the closest glass and poured a little of the clear liquid out.  Elizabeth watched her friend, confusion evident on her face.  Annabelle downed a shot of the liquid and coughed violently.

“I left everything at the restaurant,” Annabelle told Elizabeth her voice strained.   Elizabeth swallowed what was left of her cookie and walked over to the kitchen counter slowly.

“Why are you walking so slowly?” Annabelle asked pouring more Patron into the glass.  Elizabeth gave a strained smile in response.

“That is what I usually do when I don’t want to scare an angry person with alcohol,” Elizabeth told Annabelle as she took another shot.  She coughed again and reached for the bottle, but Elizabeth put her hand over it.

“I think it’s cookie time.  You had your fill of tequila for one night.” Elizabeth said using her left hand to pull the bottle of Patron closer to her body while her rights hand pushed the cookies into its vacated place.  Annabelle grabbed for the cookies, took one out, and shoved it into her mouth.  As Annabelle busied herself with cookies, Elizabeth picked the Patron up off the counter and made her way back to the refrigerator.

“Now tell me why you have no coat, no keys, and no phone and are self-medicating,” Elizabeth asked opening the refrigerator door and placing the patron back behind the slim fast shakes.  She slammed the door and made her way back to Annabelle who was now looking at a piece of cookie in her hand.

“My mom did have an ulterior motive for the dinner tonight,” Annabelle muttered as her right hand rubbed her left.  Elizabeth stared at Annabelle blankly before she gasped dramatically.

“Do I get to be your maid of honor?  I can help you find a dress, and we can try to make the best out of this situation.  Maybe I can smuggle you to Canada, and you can start a French pine comb statue making business!” Elizabeth told her, no irony ever entering her voice.  Annabelle just stared at her, the grasp on a cookie growing tighter.

“Do you think you can reach Canada before I fling this cookie at you?” Annabelle asked darkly.  Elizabeth tilted her head in confusion.

“Ok.  There won’t be a double wedding…”

“No. There will be a wedding.  My mom is engaged!” Annabelle exclaimed interrupting Elizabeth. She froze and let the new information process.

“This is new behavior for her.” Elizabeth finally said.  Annabelle popped the rest of the cookie into her mouth and reached into the bag for another one.

“She has never gotten engaged before,” Elizabeth said to Annabelle who nodded in agreement.

“I know. I never expected her to get married again. It is unnatural.  She can’t really love this guy.  She barely knows Eli Cooper.” Annabelle said shaking her head in disbelief.  Elizabeth leaned against the counter and looked at Annabelle thoughtfully.

“Cooper. You knew a Cooper at some point, right?” Elizabeth asked.  Annabelle sighed and leaned against the counter.

“Jack Cooper. We went out on a date our freshman year. Well, no. I thought it was a date. He thought it was a day out with a friend.” Annabelle volunteered.

“Was Eli Cooper nice?”

“Yes, he was very nice.  He really likes my mom and seems to treat her well.  I can’t handle another guy taking the place of…” Annabelle said trailing off and looking down at the cookies in front of her.  Elizabeth gave her a sad smile.  Before either one could say what they were thinking, Annabelle grabbed her stomach.

“Ok. Cookies and tequila were not a good idea.  I’m sorry.” Annabelle told Elizabeth running off to the bathroom next to her bedroom. Elizabeth went to follow her but heard a knock at the front door.  Elizabeth sighed and made her way towards the front.

“Sarah? I think you should come back tomorrow…” Elizabeth said stopping short after she saw who was standing there.  Elizabeth gasped and slammed the door and locked it and then she looked through the peephole.

“Who is it?” She asked sweetly.  She could hear a laugh coming from the other side.

“Oh, now you ask!” Annabelle yelled through the bathroom door.  Elizabeth looked back at the bathroom and stuck out her tongue.

“We have Annabelle’s jacket and various objects.  Her mom sent us to check on her.” The man said through the door.  Elizabeth shook her head at the peephole.

“What is Annabelle’s mom’s name? And who are you?” Elizabeth asked.  She could see the guy smile at the door and adjust Annabelle’s jacket on his arm.

“I’m Jack Cooper, and this is Ethan Parker. Annabelle’s mom, Sarah, is going to be my new Stepmom. Carol Brady if you will.” He told her.  Elizabeth recognizing the Cooper name unlocked the door and threw it open.

“Jack Cooper or is it Greg Brady? Who are you supposed to be?” Elizabeth asked Ethan as the two men cautiously walked into the apartment.

“I guess I’m Cousin Oliver,” Ethan responded dryly.  Jack motioned for Elizabeth to ignore him.

“Elizabeth, right? I was told you would be around. Sarah said you are Annabelle’s best friend.” Jack said.  Elizabeth nodded reaching out for the coat and purse resting on Jack’s arm.

“Don’t worry. Her phone and keys are still in there, but I didn’t see a wallet.” Jack said looking at the kitchen.  Elizabeth followed his gaze and threw everything onto the couch.

“She didn’t bring it with her tonight. Sister Cindy is in the bathroom if you are looking for her.” Elizabeth said smiling at him.

“Does that make you Marsha or Jan?” Jack asked as he smiled back at Elizabeth.

“I’m Alice.  I take care of things around here.” Elizabeth told him.

Jack opened his mouth to respond as his cell phone rang. He excused himself before turning away to answer. Elizabeth quickly ran her fingers through her blonde hair and tried to brush off any crumbs left on her shirt.  As she cleaned, she noticed that Ethan was now freely wandering around the apartment.

“Where is Annabelle?” Ethan asked Elizabeth as he paused in front of her bookcases.

“She is in the ladies room,” Elizabeth responded.  “Who are you again?”

“Jack’s friend,” Ethan said as he pulled out a book, looking at the back cover.

“Oh no. Here comes the book snob.” Jack joked walking over towards Ethan. Elizabeth followed Jack, her eyes looking over at the closed bathroom door.

“I’m not a book snob. I’m just very protective over my books.” Ethan responded as she flipped the book onto the side, running a long finger over the spine. “Annabelle apparently doesn’t feel the same way.”

“Come on!” Annabelle yelled as she opened the bathroom door.  She threw open the door and walked with purpose towards the three of them.  Elizabeth and Jack shared a look while Ethan continued to run his finger over the spine.

“Stop fondling my books,” Annabelle demanded of Ethan.  He raised one eyebrow and smiled at her.

“You think this is fondling?”

“Put down the book,” Annabelle asked pulling it out of his hand and holding it close to her chest. “What are you two doing here?”

“Your mom wanted to make sure if you were ok and return your stuff to you,” Jack said pointing to the pile on the couch.

“I know she has a phone and legs. She could have done it.” Annabelle muttered as she put the book back up onto the shelf.

“That’s what I said,” Ethan muttered back.

“She wasn’t sure you wanted to see her. You did just kind of run out of there. Which is unlike you Annabelle.” Jack said running his hand through his dirty blonde hair, letting a few strands fall over his blue eyes.

Annabelle stalled, her eyes taking in what Jack was doing.

“Thank you, boys. In one more hour, she would be lost without her phone.” Elizabeth said to break the silence in the room.

“Are you ok?” Ethan asked as his eyes moved over the other books in her case.  He paused and looked over at her waiting for a response. Jack and Elizabeth shared a look between them.

“I’m fine. Thanks for the visit. Time to go.” Annabelle whispered to Ethan turning away to walk back to the kitchen.

“It will be okay.  It’s not like they are getting married tomorrow. Sleep on it. It will look better in the morning.” Jack yelled towards Annabelle who was making her way back towards the cookies.

She stopped in front of the counter and turned back towards the group. “How many sentences?” Annabelle asked. Elizabeth and Jack looked over at her confused. Ethan turned towards her with a smirk on his face.

“Uh, time to go. She has officially lost it.” Elizabeth crooned pushing the two guys towards the door. Jack nodded at Annabelle as he walked by towards the front door.

Ethan slowed down. “Twenty-two. Why?”

Annabelle shrugged in response. “Just wondering.” She watched Ethan nod and walk out the front door to meet Jack.

“Thanks for stopping by! Have a great night guys.” Elizabeth said waving as she shut the door. Once she locked it tight and turned back to Annabelle. “Hello? What the hell just happened?”

Annabelle picked up a cookie and looked around. “Where is my Patron?!”

Counting Sentences

The snow that had started in the middle of the night had not slowed by the time Annabelle bundled up to meet her mom at Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant that evening. Annabelle looked down at herself to make sure she was up to pass the inspection her mom was sure to give her.  She was wearing the medium length velvet red dress her mom bought her last winter with her black boots and black tights.  Her long straight brunette hair was out of her face, as requested, with the help of an old banana clip she found in her closet.  After double-checking, she grabbed her black coat and ran out the door to walk down the street to the restaurant.  She thrust her hands into her coat pockets and bowed her head down slightly as she walked down the street.  The snow swirled around her as she walked past different groups of people, her ears always open to hearing what they are saying.  It was an old pastime, listening to stranger’s conversations.

When she reached the restaurant, she pulled her phone out of her pocket and checked the time.  With about fifteen minutes to spare, she stood in front of the restaurant.   She leaned against the brick front and watched the snow as it fell onto the concrete.  Through the snow, she watched different groups enter and leave the restaurant.  Some older couples enjoying a night out together, others were younger and on dates.  Annabelle could not help but remember the last time she went on a date.  It was not in a place like this, but some pizza joint nearby her college.  The pizza date with Jack Cooper and his ability to transfix her mind is not something she easily forgot over the years. Little did she know then, he was transfixing most of the female freshman too.  Annabelle was shaken out of her thoughts when her phone vibrated in her hand.  Nothing it was Elizabeth calling she answered quickly.

“There are more cookies behind the carrot sticks,” Annabelle answered with a smile.  There was a gasp on the other end of the phone.

“How do you know what I’m calling about?”  Elizabeth asked amazed.  Annabelle just shrugged and chuckled into the phone.

“You just got out of your environmental class and want cookies and beer.  I remember I wanted that combo when I got out of that class last year.  You know, the amount of time you spend at my place, you might as well just become my roommate.” Annabelle said.  She could hear Elizabeth bite into a cookie.

“That would require me to pay rent which can’t happen until I get a job which will only happen after I get into the perfect graduate school!” Elizabeth told Annabelle, her voice getting a bit hysterical at the end.

“You know you don’t have to pay rent.  I don’t even pay the rent on the place.  Just consider it. You get to know where all the junk food is hidden if you move in.” Annabelle teased.  She could hear Elizabeth laugh.

“Believe it or not that offer sounds really good to me. Are you there yet?”

“Yes.” Annabelle offered looking down at her black boots. They had some salt runoff on the sides. Shit.

“Are you planning to go in or just talk to me?” Elizabeth asked as she bit into another cookie.  Annabelle huffed and looked up.

“I still have ten minutes left to enjoy before I have to go in there and go through hell.” Annabelle could hear Elizabeth crunching away on another cookie when she saw a tall but lean guy walk up to the restaurant.  He gave a quick look at the door and turned back around.  He started to pace.  Annabelle watched him for a few moments before hearing Elizabeth’s voice again.

“You know she doesn’t usually let you meet her boyfriends.  Let alone their kids.  She tends to skew younger these days or at least she used to.”

“I’m sure this is just an odd experiment on her part.” Annabelle retorted back.  She was still watching the person in front of her.  He had stopped pacing and was now just staring out onto the street.  He sighed as he looked down at his watch.

“Are you there? Annabelle?” Elizabeth asked. She did not answer right away.  She saw him shake his arm and look again at his watch.  He raised the watch to his ear and swore aloud.  He dropped his arm and turned back towards the restaurant. That was when his green eyes met Annabelle’s brown. He smiled at her as Annabelle gasped softly and looked down at her feet.

“What? Did you see her?  Are you hiding from your mother?  What did we discuss?  You are a twenty-three years old. You are an adult. Your mom doesn’t control you.” Elizabeth said.

Annabelle took a breath and tried to act as normal as possible. “Just a gust of wind. Wearing a dress wasn’t my best idea.”   Annabelle said, trying to be as casual as possible.  She could hear his footsteps as he approached her.

“Excuse me. Do you have the time?”

Annabelle looked up at the deep male voice. She let her eyes travel over his body taking note of his easy smile and manly stubble on his chin. He raised one eyebrow as she stared. Annabelle couldn’t help but think he was handsome and he knew it.

Annabelle raised her naked wrist in response. “It’s about 7:50,” Annabelle told him.   He glanced down at her arm in amusement. Oh, he knew he was handsome, Annabelle thought.   He nodded a thank you and leaned against the brick wall, close to Annabelle.

“He sounded cute. Is he cute?” Elizabeth asked with delight.

“I should go inside. Right?” Annabelle said into the phone ignoring her question. She kept one eye on the falling snow and one on the man next to her.

“You should. One of us must be an adult, and I declare you the adult. Congrats. Checks in the mail.”

“Thanks. Send it to my loan officer. Don’t overdose on cookies and beer.  I might need them later.” Annabelle told Elizabeth. She heard a huff in response and hit ‘end’ on her phone. She stood here holding onto her phone, noting the time was now 7:55. Annabelle sighed as she slipped her phone back into her pocket.  She stood there for a few minutes debating her next move.

“You are going to run, aren’t you?” a male voice asked breaking into her thoughts. She turned her head towards the man standing next to her.

“No,” Annabelle said moving to face him fully.

“I mean, you didn’t sound all that excited to go in. Is it a boyfriend? Afraid to commit?” He suggested, his tone light and airy.

“Uh. No.” Annabelle offered as an answer. He huffed in response.

She watched him give her the once over before speaking again. “My goal is to get at least a sentence out of you before my friend meets me.” He said confidently.

Annabelle couldn’t help but stare at him in disbelief. “I’m sorry. Do we know each other?” she asked.

“Don’t think so.”

“Then don’t worry about how many sentences I say to you. Ok?” Annabelle heard herself say to him, her voice sounding tight. She didn’t even know where that outburst came from.

“Ok. Except you said four sentences to me. Goal accomplished.” He said back. She shot him a look. He laughed in response.

Annabelle turned back towards the street as his laughter died down. Determined to ignore him she reached into her pocket to check the time. 7:58.

“I can’t believe it is snowing in November.  It felt like spring last week.” The guy said to her.  She stared at her phone, not responding.

“I love snow.  It is just another way for the world to clean itself again.  In the process, it leaves behind something so beautiful…”  He responded, his voice trailing off as Annabelle looked up and over at him. Annabelle felt uncomfortable at the silence and struggled not to express her opinion.

“Not really.  Snow just causes accidents, closures, and destruction.  Sure, it’s pretty but is it worth the price?” Annabelle told him, cursing at herself for not holding back.

“I’ve never met anyone that was so vocal and adamant about snow. Most girls love snow and that line I just fed you.”  He told her.

“I’m not every girl.  I can smell bullshit from a mile away. I was thinking of adding it to my resume under special skills.” Annabelle told him.  He laughed in response.

“You should put it there. Companies will appreciate the honesty.” He told her as he popped his coat collar.  Annabelle felt herself smile at his comment, her annoyance melting a bit.

“By the way, we are officially up to ten sentences. I say that is a win for me.” He told her giving her a wink. That easiness Annabelle felt before seemed to dissipate at the comment.

“With that, I’m going inside. Have a great night, whoever you are.” Annabelle said, trying to keep her voice light.  She pushed herself off the brick wall of the restaurant and walked towards the door. She could feel his eyes on her.

“It was great talking to you. My name is…”

“I don’t care.” Annabelle interrupted as she opened the door and walked in.


She unbuttoned her jacket and shrugged it off her shoulders as she followed the host towards the table.  She gave a quick look at her cell phone clock and saw that she was almost five minutes late now.  She brushed off some imaginary lint off the coat in her arms and prepared herself for the onslaught of questions from her mother.  The host ended up leading her to a table near the back of the restaurant.  She saw her mom first.  Her signature eighties hair had been deflated for a more modern look, a straight and dyed a chestnut brown.  She wore a long light blue dress that made her look elegant, and it brought out her blue-gray eyes.  Annabelle self-consciously smoothed out her dress before heading over to the table.

“Hi, mom!” Annabelle said brightly trying to get her mother’s attention.  She stopped talking and looked over at her daughter.  A large familiar smile grew on her mom’s face as she got up to hug Annabelle.  She held her close and pulled back to get a better look at her.

“You look beautiful honey! I told you that dress works on you. Come now, you have to meet Eli!” Annabelle’s mom told her grabbing her hand and pushing her closer to the table.  Annabelle took a deep breath.

“Eli, this is my daughter, Annabelle.  Annabelle this is Eli Cooper.” Her mom introduced.  The older gentleman, Eli, stood up from the table with his hand out towards Annabelle. She smiled as she reached to shake his hand. She noticed his hand was clammy and warm.

“It is truly an honor to meet Sarah’s daughter. I’ve heard so many great things about you.” He said as he pumped her hand twice before letting go. “You don’t have to worry about being late; we are waiting for Jack and Ethan too.”

Eli told Annabelle pulling out a chair for her.  Annabelle placed her jacket on the back of her chair and sat down, thanking Eli. He ran a quick hand over his bald head before sitting back down at the table.

“Jack and Ethan? I thought you only had one son.” Annabelle asked as soon as everyone was settled. Eli was quick to give an explanation.

“Jack is my son. Ethan is his best friend from way back.  He is staying with us for the next month, so we invited him along.” Eli said adjusting his glasses as he picked up his menu.  Annabelle nodded in understanding as she followed his lead. It was a quiet moment before she heard it. That voice.

“I’m so sorry I was late. I told Ethan to go inside, but he waited for me.”

Annabelle slowly put her menu down and turned her head towards the voice. She couldn’t believe it. “Jack?”

He turned his attention from his dad towards Annabelle, his eyes lighting up in response. “Annabelle! I haven’t seen you in a long time. Come here!” Jack said to her, his arms open for a hug. Almost on autopilot, Annabelle stood up and let Jack hug her like he used to back then. His arms enveloped her as she closed her eyes and was instantly brought back to freshman year.  She opened them mid-hug to a familiar face.

The man from before stood there, a smirk on his face as he wrote ‘11’ into the air with his pointer finger. Annabelle pulled back from the hug.

“I guess you two know each other already,” Sarah asked, her voice questioning what was happening in front of her.

“Yeah! We hung out a lot during freshman year before I transfered.” Jack said with a big smile. “Oh. Let me introduce you two. Annabelle, this is Ethan Parker. Ethan, this is Annabelle Jones.” Jack introduced the two of them as he stepped out of the way to give Sarah a kiss hello.

Annabelle looked over at the man from outside. “Nice to meet you, Ethan.” She said to him as she gave him her hand to shake.

Ethan met her hand with his own and shook it. “Nice to meet you, Annabelle.” He glanced at the table noticing they were busy saying their hellos. He gently gripped her hand and pulled her closer. “Twelve.” He murmured, his eyes dancing.

She pulled her hand away and stared at him in disbelief.

“Oh. This should be fun!” Ethan proclaimed as he pushed past Annabelle to take a seat.

“Tons of fun,” Annabelle whispered to herself. “Tons and tons of fun.”

Christmas Wrapping

Ethan sat in the living room surrounded by yards of silver, red and green wrapping paper. There was scotch tape resting on different surfaces hanging on for dear life while Ethan attempted to wrap an oddly shaped present. Annabelle sat at the kitchen table with her laptop in front of her. Her fingers were poised over the keys as she watched Ethan struggle with his task.
“You know. For odd shaped presents, I usually just put them in a beautiful bag. It makes life easier.” Annabelle said to him trying to hide her amusement. Ethan, losing space to place his tape, put it on his forehead.
“NO. I will figure this out.” Ethan defiantly proclaimed to Annabelle. Her nose crinkled at the tape that decorated his forehead.
“Do you need me to hold the tape or…” Annabelle offered. Ethan raised his hand dramatically in response. Annabelle made a noise and went back to her writing.
Lena sat on the couch surviving her domain. This was the first time she had complete control over the Christmas decorations. At least the inside decorations. The tree glimmered with color lights that twinkled around all the Lenox ornaments. The angel that graced the tree had been her grandmothers. It had officially been passed down to her this year. She smiled at it proudly as he reigned over the tree. She liked to pretend that the angel was keeping all the different decorations in line when she was not in the room. The thought made her laugh aloud.
“No matter how many times I have seen this it is still weird,” Ethan said to Annabelle as he watched Lena stand in front of the tree laughing aloud. Annabelle’s eyes snapped from the screen to the sight in front of her. Annabelle shrugged and turned her attention back to the laptop screen.
Lena stopped laughing and crossed her arms. She could hear J.D. come through the front door. She turned to look at him.
“How did it go outside?” She asked him as she turned. She gasped at the sight she saw. J.D. had grass stains all over his clothes and pieces of greenery stuck in his hair. She rushed over to him.
“NOT THE WRAPPING PAPER!” Ethan bellowed as Lena ran through a freshly cut sheet of paper. Her feet crumpled the fine paper as she brushed past. Lena didn’t stop, though. She was under Annabelle’s control.
“I’m sorry!” Annabelle yelled out in response. She watched as Lena rushed over to J.D. stopping at her destination. “I sincerely didn’t expect that to happen.”
Ethan huffed and waved his hands in the air. “It’s ok. I’m ok. It will be ok.”
Annabelle let out a snort of laughter. “What was that?”
Ethan took a deep breath and made the gesture again. “You worry about your children. Please just watch the wrapping paper next time.”
Annabelle bit her lip as she started writing again.
“Are you ok? What happened?” Lena asked as she tried to brush some of the tree needles off his clothes. J.D. kept a stoic stance.
“I fought a tree and the tree won. Lesson learned kids, fight mother nature and Mother Nature will always win.”
“That is so true,” Ethan commented as she snipped a piece of ribbon. Annabelle stopped typing and looked up at Ethan. She smiled and continued writing.
“That is so true,” Lena said to J.D.
“Funny,” Ethan called out wrapping the ribbon around the present.
“Either way I got the lights up. Our little piece of land is going to be cooler than the top of the Chrysler building!” J.D. proclaimed. Lena looked at him puzzled.
“That sentence makes no sense honey.” Lena looked at him concerned.
“I understand it. Isn’t that what matters?” J.D. responded taking off his jacket. Lena looked at his head in response.
“Did you hit your head?” Lena asked him pulling him close to look over his head. J.D. tried to brush off her concerns.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m positive.”
Lena did not look so sure. She let go of him and watched him go to the kitchen to grab some coffee.
“Are you sure?” Lena asked again still concerned for J.D.’s safety. J.D. huffed and took a big swig of the warm coffee.
“I’m PERFECTLY fine. I think the author is just trying to pad out her word count while she decides where she is going with this.”
“I’m with you J.D. I have no idea where you two are going with this either. It’s like your mom is distracted or something.” Ethan said as he moved onto a new present to wrap. He didn’t need to turn around to know that Annabelle was going to retaliate for that remark.
“Do you know what? I think dad needs to mind his own damn business. Just awkwardly wrap your presents and watch your slightly creepy religious movies on Hallmark. Mom has this. She just needs inspiration.” J.D. said defiantly taking another big gulp of coffee.
“Don’t disparage the Hallmark Christmas movie. They are awesome. You just wanted to hurt me.” Ethan said to Annabelle while he tried to tape one side of the wrapping paper to the present.
“You know what else? Right now he thinks he has it down. Some might say that he is the master wrapper.” Lena said sweetly winking at J.D.
“Oh. OH. I’m not even going to touch that one. Dirty. ” Ethan declared as he looked over his shoulder and gave Annabelle a wink. As he did this, he pushed the scissors down onto the wrapping paper in front of him. Or so he thought. Annabelle had looked back down onto the keyboard when she heard the yell.
Both Lena and J.D. yelled out gibberish. Annabelle’s fingers had pressed down on the keyboard in surprise as Ethan yelled out in pain. She jumped out of her seat and ran over to Ethan’s side. She forced his hand up so she could get a better look. He had sliced his finger but not enough to cause any real harm.
“Hold on. I’m getting the first aid kit.” Annabelle told him as she got up to walk to the bathroom.
“Not through the wrapping paper!” Ethan yelled out. Annabelle smiled to herself as she jumped over the haphazardly placed paper around him. She did not have the heart to tell him that his precious wrapping paper had some blood on it. She grabbed the kit out of the bathroom and rushed back over making sure not avoid the paper. She sat next to him and opened the case. She looked up at him and noticed that his eyes were trained on the cheesy Hallmark movie. She smiled and gently grabbed his injured finger. He winced at her touch.
“This is one of my favorites. Hallmark has done a ton of rags to royal Christmas movies, but this one actual earns its payoff.” Ethan said as calmly as possible as Annabelle applied some pressure to the finger to make sure the bleeding stopped. She listened to Ethan babble about Hallmark movies as she splashed some water on the wound before putting some antibacterial spray. He hissed.
“I have a tiara,” Annabelle said to him trying to distract him from the slight pain. He looked over at her with a smile.
“I’m sure you do. I think you would like this movie. Everyone is normal. Except for the royalty part.” Ethan told her as she started to place gauze on the cut.
“All the good ones have a royalty subplot,” Annabelle said back as she taped the gauze to his finger. “I should have J.D. and Lena go down the same route.” She finished up and gave his finger a quick kiss. “You will live for now. Don’t let the scissors ruin your wrapping dreams, my dear.”
Ethan laughed and looked down at his finger. Annabelle sat back on the couch and watched Ethan inspect his finger. He looked up at her.
“Are you going to leave them like that?” Ethan asked her. Annabelle looked over her shoulder and the frozen J.D. and Lena. She turned back and hummed to herself.
“If we are going to make J.D. and Lena royal I have to do my research,” Annabelle told him trying to get herself conformable on the floor. Ethan stared at her letting a small smile grow on his face.
“Good to know you do your research. Thanks for the finger.”
“Thanks for wrapping my gifts for me.”
“What? Have I been wrapping yours too?”

Mistletoe Kisses

Oh, look. Another mini story that won’t make sense unless I sit here and explain it. Once again, grammar/syntax issues blah blah blah. Read and enjoy.


Annabelle hung the last ornament on her Christmas tree. It was her favorite. A popsicle reindeer she made when she was in the first grade. She had her mother’s decorations this year since her mom did not have time to do the tree this year. Wedding plans were taking over her life. It was up to Annabelle to keep the traditions that make the holidays what they are. She walked back to admire her work. The tree held pink and white twinkle lights and all of her childhood keepsakes. Placed on top was her great grandmother’s angel that held a special place in her heart.

“Dinner is served.” She could hear J.D. yell out into the living room as he opened the door. Behind him, Lena held the Chinese food up into the air like it was the Holy Grail. She presented it to the group carefully letting it settle on the kitchen counter. Ethan came in last, dramatically shutting the door behind him.

“Do you know what your children did today?” Ethan said sharply to Annabelle. She turned at the melodramatic sound of his voice. She raised one eyebrow in response. Ethan tore off his gloves and jacket and placed them on the kitchen chair, leaving his ratty old scarf around his neck. He ran his hand through his short brown hair in frustration.

“They aren’t my children…” Annabelle muttered to herself as she watched Lena and J.D. pull the food from the bag. Ethan looked up in surprise.

“Did you create them from your head? Did you create their looks, their thoughts, and personality?” Ethan asked as he advanced towards Annabelle. She watched him get closer as she considered his questions.

“Technically, yes. I did create how they look. However…” Annabelle faltered, as Ethan got even closer to her, a playful glint in his eye.

“However…I didn’t create their personalities. You know they say that the environment around them makes their personalities. It is not from DNA.” Annabelle said confidently even though she knew she might be completely wrong.

“I don’t think it applies to these two. These two are all you. Which…is a bit worrisome.” Ethan teased. Annabelle felt a rush go through her body. She didn’t know if it was anger, but some feeling was growing through her body.

“What is that supposed to mean?” The words came out of Annabelle’s mouth with a harsher tone that expected. Loudly too since J.D. and Lena stopped their pillaging of the Chinese food to look up at them. Ethan smirked at her.

“Touchy subject I see. Well, kiddo, those two in there came from you. We do not know why they are here among us, but here they are. They are a reflection of what you are and what you feel. Isn’t that what you told me once about writing?” Ethan jokingly argued. He had gotten close enough that Annabelle had to look up to engage with his eyes. She grabbed onto his scarf to pull him closer to her face.

“I don’t know if that is a compliment or a criticism doll face.” Annabelle hissed. Ethan looked down at her in surprise. Annabelle kept eye contact with Ethan. She could feel how thin the scarf was under her fingers as she held on tight. She could feel him place his hands on her shoulders gently rubbing them with his thumbs. Annabelle rubbed her thumb over the old wool. Both were silent for a moment.

“You need a new scarf,” Annabelle muttered breaking eye contact to look down at the scarf. Ethan stopped moving his hands and looked at his scarf confused. She continued, “how long have you had this thing?”

“It’s my dad’s,” Ethan whispered. Annabelle felt her breath catch in her throat at the answer.

“Hey. You guys! You are under the mistletoe!” Lena excitedly yelled from the kitchen. Both Annabelle and Ethan looked up at the hanging toxic plant.

“I did not put that up there,” Annabelle muttered.

“I did! I got the idea from those movies Ethan likes to watch on television! Hallmark…Hallmark Christmas movies!” J.D. announced as he took a big spoonful of rice into his mouth. Both Ethan and Annabelle looked back down at each other; Annabelle’s eyes naturally fell to Ethan’s lips.

“Um. Well…” Ethan stammered. Annabelle, taken off guard, looked back up at Ethan’s eyes in amusement.

“Come on. Kiss her! Dinner is getting cold, and we want this tension to end.” Lena said with an edge in her voice. She looked longingly at the chicken and broccoli and then back at them. She rolled her eyes in annoyance. “Like this dollfaces!” she exclaimed as she grabbed J.D. by his shirt and planted a loud smooch onto his lips. She pushed him away and gave a pointed look at Annabelle and Ethan. Annabelle let out a light laugh as she moved in closer to Ethan.

“Ok. Maybe you are right. My children are insane.” Annabelle whispered into Ethan’s ear before giving a quick peck on his cheek. She let go of the scarf and pushed herself away from Ethan.

“Alright my friends. What did you get to eat?” Annabelle asked as she traveled towards the kitchen. She noticed out of the corner of her eye that Ethan still has not moved from his spot. He had moved his hand to his cheek.

“Hey, Ethan. Do you want some white rice or do you want to keep standing there like a chump?” Lena growled out. Annabelle looked at Lena with alarm on her face.

“I need to review how I am writing you tonight.” Annabelle declared as Lena shrugged her shoulders in response. Ethan had moved back towards the kitchen, taking his scarf off as he walked.

“Like mother like daughter.” Ethan teased earning a light slap on his arm from Annabelle. He winked in response.

“So. What did the children do today?”

I am a Writer.

I’m a writer. I’ve never been published (unless a crappy poem in my high school literary magazine over eleven years ago counts as published) but I confidently say I’m a writer.

Writing has been a part of my life since I was a kid. My first big writing project consisted of taking my Lisa Frank notebook, any pen I could find, and writing my own Stephanie Tanner story. It was early fanfiction if you must know. I’m glad to report that I finished a whole book, by hand, when I was eight years old.  I proudly stared at my words and then threw the notebook aside and started a new story. I don’t know where that freedom came from, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have.

Since then, well, I’m lucky if I could finish a page without overthinking each word.  Writer’s block and guilt run rampant through my body every time I sit in front of my laptop. I poise my fingers over the keys, and I start to run through what I want to say. My mind goes but my fingers do not. Slowly, my mind moves from dialogue and character motivations to the laundry. Dishes. Cover Letters I need to write too. I feel my fingers slip from the keyboard and into my lap.

I feel guilty, and I move on. Letting those possible worlds die in my brain as I do the dishes.  Oh, how I wish for the days where I would take my notebook and just write with a bashful freedom. I didn’t write for anyone but myself. I didn’t let what was happening in my life affect my time with my notebook and my little world.

I long for a day where I can be like that again. Just write to write. Not worry about what is happening and let those worlds that live dormant in my brain grow and thrive on the page.  Someday I may get there, but until then I still think I’m a writer. I still seek out the written word. I still want to create.

I may not follow the traditional path of what the world considers a writer to be but I know, in my heart, I’m a writer.