I is for “Islandology” #nanowrimo #fiction

“I had a crazy vision of telling him that I was dying and him running through the door or jumping off the balcony like I was infectious…”

 

If Galen was a rapist or a mass murderer, I was already dead.

Oh well, I guess that I’ll die by the hands of a hot man.

Galen waited for me to close the front door and then his eyes darted around the room.

“So…where did you see this mouse Katie?”

“It’s under that towel over there near the wall.”

I pointed out the kitchen towel that had since stopped moving. When Galen saw that I refused to move any closer, he failed to contain his laughter. He approached the towel, kneeled down and lifted its edge, giving me a perfect opportunity to admire his nicely endowed backside. I took it all in and almost got caught in my admiration when he looked back at me with a wide grin.

“This is not a mouse Katie.”

Galen scooped up whatever it was into the towel and attempted to show it to me. I quickly scurried away in the opposite direction.

“No, no, no! I don’t want to see it! Just kill it!”

Galen stopped cold at my shrieking.

“It’s only a harmless cockroach.”

“A cockroach THAT big? I don’t want to see it! Oh my God! What kind of infested place is this?”

“Relax and breathe.” Galen tried to soothe me. “It’s normal in the tropics. And you shouldn’t blame the building complex. This place is not infested.”

Galen glanced over at the open patio doors, probably noticing my table. I was immediately self-conscious at what he would think at such a nicely set table for one.

Photo credit: Foter.com

“Do you always keep those patio doors open like that?”

I nodded.

“Yes. Most of the time. I love the breeze and seeing the ocean. Why?”

“Well that’s probably how it got in. Cockroaches can fly you know.”

As Galen started walking out onto the balcony, I slowly approached but still kept my distance at the word “fly“.

“Aren’t you going to kill it?”

Shock registered on Galen’s face.

“No. Of course not. There’s no need to kill a living thing when it’s just as easy to set it free.”

The soft tone of his voice made me feel like a cold-blooded killer.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Release it back into nature back where it belongs.” Galen stepped out onto the balcony, gently shook the towel out over the railing. “Actually, where we all belong.”

I sighed with relief that the thing was finally gone.

“Could I please use your bathroom to wash my hands?”

I nodded and without needing to direct him, he headed into my bedroom to get to the bathroom.

A good-looking man who refused to hurt a cockroach, who had the word “please” in his vocabulary and was in my bedroom right now?

The universe was taunting me as a reminder that it had been so long that I wouldn’t even know what to do with a man like that in my bedroom.

I waited uncomfortably for Galen to return to the kitchen, glad that I had kept the bedroom tidy. At least he wouldn’t think that I was a helpless and messy lunatic.

“I can’t thank you enough for what you just did. You are a true gentleman for helping someone you don’t even know. I’m sorry that I bothered you like that.”

Galen stuck his hands into his pockets and swayed a little from side to side.

“It was no bother at all. Getting called to help a pretty woman is always my pleasure.”

I felt the blood rushing to my face at his compliment – again.

Okay, he is definitely flirting.

Galen pointed out the balcony table. “It looks like you were about to have dinner. Whatever it is you’re making smells really, really good.”

I nodded and noticed that he kept staring at the balcony table.

“Yes, I was just about to finish cooking when … well, you know what happened.”

The quiet message in his blues eyes was crystal clear.

“After my shower I was planning on grabbing something to eat before you called.”

I might have been dying but I hadn’t lost my marbles yet. Galen was fishing for an invitation that I didn’t want to give but after what he had done, I had no choice. I bit the bullet and fought against my comfort zone.

“Would you like to join me? It’s the least I can do after interrupting your plans,” I joked, knowing that my cheeks were flaming red. “There is enough for two.”

“I thought that you would never ask.”

I nervously rattled off what I had prepared. “I hope that you like steak.”

Galen nodded and took a seat at the island counter. I felt him watching my every move as I navigated around the kitchenette.

“Do you need any help?”

“No thanks. I can handle it. Would you like a glass of wine or something?”

“Sure but I’ll get it.”

Galen reached for another wine glass and added it to the one that I already had set out on the counter. He poured us both a glass of the pineapple wine and handed me one. While the steaks sizzled on the grill, I had no choice but to make conversation with him.

“So…” Galen said between sips. “What do you do?”

Oh God, such a typical and normal let’s-get-to-know each other type of question that I had to answer.

“I work as a translator, I’ve got two grown children, I’m divorced…”

“No,” Galen said, shaking his head. “That’s not really what I meant so I’ll rephrase my question. What do you do as in what do you do for pleasure, you know, for pure enjoyment to pass the time?”

My mind blanked because I still didn’t understand.

Was this a trick question?

Seeing my confusion, Galen cocked his head to one side.

“Okay, I’ll get this started by telling you what I do besides rescuing damsels in distress. I spend as much time as I can outside enjoying the sun and beautiful weather. I try to surf, swim and I just started writing poetry – at least I’m trying to.” Galen took a sip from his glass. “I wake up every day looking forward to what each new day will offer me and what I can offer it. When I’m not doing all of that, I make a living by doing background research for a European-based online health magazine. Now, tell me what do you do?”

I was embarrassed that I couldn’t rattle off a list like his.

I had no energy to cover up my lackluster life with lies. Galen might have been hot but he was also a stranger that I would never see again after this trip.

Screw lying, I’m just going to be honest.

“To be truthful, I don’t have a clue anymore. All of the things I used to enjoy are way into my past. Gardening, running, painting…But my one true love was always photography. I used to dream of becoming a professional photographer.”

I had a crazy vision of telling him that I was dying and him running through the door or jumping off the balcony like I was infectious.

“That’s a lot of used to’s Katie. What happened?”

Galen looked genuinely interested as I flipped the steaks and turned the grill off.

“An overbearing ex-husband that I revolved my life around, raising twins like a married single-mother and then trying to get myself financially on track with a new career after a divorce. That’s what happened.”

“You could still be a photographer if you wanted.”

“It’s too late for all of that.” I grabbed a plate, lay a steak on it and handed it to him. “Help yourself.”

I gestured for him to take whatever he wanted from the food that I had already prepared. Galen got up, started filling his plate and stopped cold to give me a serious look.

“Nothing is ever too late if you start now.”

I inhaled deeply at his words.

If only he knew that starting now would get me nowhere…

After I filled my own plate, he took it from me and walked them out onto the balcony. I took the opportunity to get an extra set of utensils for him as he doubled back to grab our wine glasses. When we finally settled in, I no longer felt nervous. I guess that his handsomeness had finally worn off on me.

“You should take this opportunity create your own islandology.”

“Islandology?”

“It’s something that I basically made up. I consider it to be slowing down and truly experiencing the relaxed vibe of this island. You know, immersing yourself in new experiences and living in the moment. That’s how I ended up staying here so often.” He sliced into the steak and when he put the fork in his mouth, he smiled. “You cooked this to perfection! All of this is delicious.”

Photo credit: Foter.com

“Thanks Galen.”

“What’s on your to-do list while you’re here in Maui?”

I got up to retrieve my handwritten list from the coffee table and hurried back to the balcony. I handed it to him and watched as he perused it bullet point by bullet point.

“That’s a good start. But there are a few crucial things missing from this.”

“Like what?”

I was curious since my list was based on a number of things from the brochures and websites I had researched before leaving home.

“I won’t tell you,” Galen smiled. “But if you’re open to it, I could show you some of the things that are not on your list.”

“Oh! I couldn’t let you do that. I’m sure that you don’t have time to play tour guide.”

“It would be my pleasure and I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t have the time. I make a point of only working a certain number of hours each day. And anyways, when someone offers you a pineapple, you should make pineapple wine Katie.”

Every time Galen said my name, I got goosebumps.

“Okay, sure. I would love to make some pineapple wine with you.”

Only after the fact did I realize how suggestively that rolled off my tongue.

“And I with you. Make sure that camera of yours is ready for a workout because you’re in for a treat. I’m going to coax the photographer out of you.”

Yeah, I’m sure that you could coax a lot of things out of me if I let you…

Stop.

I laughed at the twinkle in his eye as he raised his glass to me. I instinctively raised mine to him.

“Cheers to making wine together,” Galen said, his eyes never leaving mine.

“Cheers.”

As our wine glasses touched, I marveled at how the more I opened up to the universe, the more the universe opened up to me.

©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

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H is for “Hale” #nanowrimo #fiction

“From the smell of fresh soap on him, it was clear that he had just stepped out of the shower. His dirty blond hair was still wet and pulled up into a messy man bun. I never liked the whole man bun trend but on him…”

 

 

Katie The Goddess? I like the sound of that! And I forgive you for hanging up on me before,” Meghan laughed after I had called her back. “I’m sure that you would look hot in nothing but your birthday suit and grass skirt. Maybe the dream you had is some kind of sign.”

“A sign of what?”

“Maybe it’s a sign that you are in a better head space – you know, less stressed. You definitely sound like you’re coping better than when you left.”

“I am! It’s really bizarre how it hasn’t been too difficult to forget that I’m sick being here in paradise.”

“Hmmm…maybe being naked means that you’re shedding your inhibitions and opening up to new beginnings. I’ve got a friend who is deep into that dream stuff so I’ll ask her. What are your plans for tonight?”

“I bought a bunch of groceries at Foodland and plan on making myself a nice meal. Steak, creamy mashed potatoes, garlic bread and some stir fried veggies just because I should have something healthy. And the pièce de resistance will be the pint of double chocolate and fudge ice cream that I’ll have for dessert. Dinner on the balcony, listening to the ocean and making a list of all the things I want to do while I’m in Maui is going to be my fun for the evening.”

“Good for you! But that ice cream sounds far from organic Kate.”

“Nope, it’s not organic. I’m done with that! All those years of eating organic and look what it got me? 12 to 24 months left on my clock. From now on, I’ll be indulging on whatever I damn well please as long as my clothes will still fit,” I joked and Meghan laughed along with me.

“At least you’ve got your sense of humor back…uh…which I plan on ruining right now by asking you this next question. Have you thought about getting a second opinion when you get back?”

I smiled at how Meghan was persistent even from thousands of miles away. I paused for dramatic effect before answering.

“Yes, I made that decision today.”

“Oh my God! I’m so happy to hear that! What made you change your mind?”

“Again, it sounds strange but it was a combination of that dream and a song I just heard. Strange but true. I just need to live in the now right now. And when I get home, I’ll live in that now when I go back to the doctor.”

“I’m ecstatic! Oh no, I’ve got to go now. I’m meeting you-know-who for lunch so I’ll give you a shout tomorrow, okay? Enjoy that scrumptious dinner of yours. Wish I was there with you!”

When we hung up, I finished cooking everything except for the steak which I wanted to do last. I set the balcony table for one and took out the bottle of Maui Splash I had scored. But just as I was about to put the steak on the grill, I noticed something flash from the corner of my eye, something the size of a small mouse crawling along the edge of the far wall.

Photo credit: glennshootspeople via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

I immediately screamed and backed up against the counter. Whatever it was stopped dead in its tracks as if to observe me. When it began to slowly move, I almost let out another scream but stopped myself. The last thing I wanted was for the neighbors to call security. Now, I was in a face off – I wasn’t moving and neither was whatever that thing was.

What the hell was I supposed to do?

Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself of that old lady’s words on Diamond Head summit.

You can do anything you put your my mind to

That creepy crawly thing couldn’t kill me, that is, unless it was poisonous or something… but I was already headed for dead so I had to at least try to do something.

I grabbed a dish towel, approached it like a ninja on my tip toes and as gently as possible so that it wouldn’t get away, I flung the towel over it like a fisherman casting a net. I was feeling pretty proud of myself until the towel started moving slightly.

Oh God…Oh God…Oh God…What if it escapes?

And that’s when I remembered that Jennifer had put some guy’s number into my cell – a nice man who lived in the complex.

“Galen, Galen, Galen…” I muttered as I scrolled through my cell until I found his name.

What was I supposed to say to this stranger without looking like a freaking lunatic?

I was going to look like a helpless woman who needed a man to rescue her but since I wanted to go to bed that night without wondering what that thing was all night so I had no choice. I bit the bullet but texted this stranger to avoid sounding like a blithering idiot.

Hi Galen. My name is Katie. Jennifer and Joshua gave me your number in case of an emergency. This is going to sound really stupid but I think that there’s a mouse in my place and I need help to get rid of it.

I waited for a reply, wondering what I would do if he didn’t respond or wasn’t even at this place.

Please respond, please respond, please respond…

When my cell pinged, I was overjoyed.

Hey Katie! Yes, J & J told me about you. Sounds like you’ve got yourself an emergency to me. 🙂  What hale are you in and what’s your hale number? Give me ten minutes. I’ll be right over.

I quickly texted him my information, surprised that I even remembered that “hale” meant “building”.

As I stood watch over the dishtowel, it wasn’t until I heard the doorbell ring that I realized that I was about to invite a strange man into my condo. It dawned on me that not only could he be some kind of rapist, but he could be a mass murderer. But at that point, I had made a choice and had to have faith in J & J’s words.

I rushed to the door, swung it open and found myself face to face with Mr. Handsome, the man I couldn’t get away from fast enough at the pool looking down at his cell.

I was speechless.

Photo credit: Foter.com

You? You’re Galen?”

He smiled like the cat that ate the canary as he extended his hand for me to shake.

“Yes, Galen would be me. And you’re Katie. Nice to meet you – again.”

From the smell of fresh soap on him, it was clear that he had just stepped out of the shower. His dirty blond hair was still wet but pulled up into a messy man bun. I had never liked the whole man bun trend but on him…

“Well, you were right about us probably bumping into each other again. And from the look on your face, you didn’t realize that it would be so soon, right?”

Again, his smile was infectious and I caught myself smiling with this Galen at my door.

“Serendipity, I guess,” I managed to squeak out.

“I don’t need to guess. It is definitely serendipity. Now show me this emergency Katie.”

I let him in and when he brushed past me, I quickly closed the door.

Besides that creepy crawly thing in my kitchen, I now had to worry about just how dumb I would make myself look before the night was over.

Continuation – I is for “Islandology”

©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it’s completed.

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G is for “Grass Skirt” #nanowrimo #fiction

And if I was truly honest with myself, when I looked at him, all I could think of was which would taste better – the Dole Whip I had sampled or him…

Dying was hard work and all I had wanted to do was sleep, sleep and sleep some more. But after the dream I had just had when I nodded off, my desire for sleep had completely disappeared.

Stretched out on my lounge chair next to the pool, I tried to decipher what the dream had meant. I had seen myself standing high on a mountaintop, my arms outstretched wide as if to embrace the vast blue ocean that lay beneath me and all I was wearing was a simple purple lei and a grass skirt.

I had no clue what it all meant and I gave up trying. What I did know was that I had woken up feeling fully rested, at peace and with the decision to get a second opinion on my diagnosis when I returned home. Meghan’s suggestion to take time to clear my head in Maui had been the right choice. Most of the time I actually forgot the reason why I had taken this trip in the first place.

But that was just most of the time.

I put on my floppy hat, slipped off my sandals and headed into the pool to cool off from the heat. I closed my eyes, raked back against the cold tiled wall and enjoyed the water caressing my skin until voices sliced through the air behind me.

Photo credit: Foter.com

“But I have soooo many other people that I want to invite to the wedding! I need more seats for my side.”

From behind my dark sunglasses, I snuck a peak at a young couple in their early twenties getting comfortable in the lounge chairs next to mine. They struck me as an odd pair. He was plain and homely-looking in contrast to the girl who was fully made up with make-up and expensive tote bag. Her long perfectly coiffed blonde curls were obviously enhanced by hair extensions, her breasts looked unnatural perky for her body type and with the length of her nails, there was no way she ever washed dishes.

But the worst of it all was her completely annoying voice that sounded like a cross between Elmo and a whiny four year old. I tried my best to block out their conversation but I would have needed Tom Cruise for that mission impossible.

“We agreed that we would each stick to 50 guests babe.” His voice was patient but definitely not firm. “We need to cut back to save on costs.”

I watched as the girl rolled her eyes at him. She reminded me of Hannah. Then, the girl sighed as though she had the weight of the world on her shoulders – First World problems.

“You mean that you need to save on costs! You should have agreed to let my father pay for the entire wedding! We’re on vacation and we should be enjoying ourselves instead of skimping. It’s bad enough that we aren’t staying at the resort that I wanted.” She was clearly unimpressed by the quaintness of the complex. “If I can’t have the Smores on the beach or the spa day like I wanted at the other hotel, I at least want to do all the other things I had on my list.” The girl pulled a bottle of lotion out of her bag and shoved it at him. “Put some lotion on me.”

The boy obeyed and lovingly slathered tanning lotion all over her back as she rattled on about her list of all of the things she wanted to do and buy until I thought his slippery hands would slide around her neck and squeeze her into silence…for good.

“Let’s go for a swim,” he suggested and motioned to the pool.

“No. I need to get started on my tan and anyways, I need to buy a new magazine in the lobby first.”

“Didn’t you just buy one this morning?” The boy’s voice was overflowing with frustration and I could almost hear his eyes rolling back into his head.

“Yeah, but I don’t like it.”

When I glanced over at them again, I caught him staring at her like he could follow through with the image I had.

“Fine. I’ll take a swim while you go get a new magazine.”

No. You need to come with me. I don’t want to go alone.”

There was a brief silence and a loud groan from the boy. I already knew that he was going to give in.

Taking me off guard, the boy suddenly turned and caught me looking in their direction.

“Uh, Ma’am? Would you mind watching our stuff while we are gone?”

Ma’am? Was I that old to be called Ma’am?

I nodded. “Sure but I might be leaving soon.”

“Oh, that’s okay. We won’t be long. Thanks a lot.”

When the young couple disappeared, I let out a huge groan, got out of the pool and made my way back over to my chair.

“Run Forrest run,” I kept muttering to myself uncontrollably, shaking my head. “Run Forrest run.”

“You won’t believe me but I was thinking the exact same thing,” someone said nearby. “I loved that movie.”

Feeling my face flushed with embarrassment, I looked over to the only person sitting with a book in his hands a few chairs away. The man’s eyes twinkled with laughter and I was utterly mortified.

“Oh my…I didn’t mean for anyone to hear me,” I apologized. Through my sheepishness, I found myself taking a full look at this man with dirty blond hair, a lean muscular build and blue eyes that I found hard to look away from. From his deep tan and his totally relaxed vibe, everything about him screamed outdoorsy surfer dude. I was also beginning to realize that he was more than handsome. My stomach did a nervous flip.

Why was I suddenly feeling like a school girl?

Photo credit: madabandon via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

“Oh, don’t apologize! Yesterday, she wouldn’t stop complaining about how cold the pool was. I give that marriage less than a year to survive. Narcissist girl and doormat boy will not make a lasting relationship.”

I nodded. “Yeah. And the same applies for the reverse combination too. But they say opposites attract, right?”

“That’s what they say. But compatibility is so much more important, don’t you think?” The man lay his book down on his lap and gave me his full attention. “I haven’t seen you around here before. Did you just check-in?”

“No. A few days ago.” His blue eyes were hypnotic and his infectious smile took me for a loop. I felt my face flush again and I pretended to look for something in my purse as an excuse to look away as I settled back into my chair.

“Really? I haven’t seen you around.” His friendliness made me a little suspicious and I hoped that this conversation wouldn’t crash and burn like what had happened to me on the Pineapple Express.

“Oh, I’ve been going to the beach a lot so this is really my first time at the pool,” I offered cautiously.

“Well, there’s first time for everything, right?”

His eyes twinkled again and I swallowed hard.

Was there some kind of flirty double entendre behind his words?

I forced myself to ask a semi-intelligent question. “Are you a tourist too?”

“No, I’m a kama ‘aina.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m what they call a long time resident. I travel back and forth between here and New York but I spend most of my time here. I love the island vibe. ”

I nodded and let an awkward silence take over. Any other normal woman would have asked where he was from in New York and what he did for a living but I knew that I would find myself tongue tied with him so I said nothing.

What could I say that would be friendly but not too friendly to avoid him getting the wrong idea? 

He pointed to the notepad I had with me.

“Are you making a list of things to see while you’re here?”

“Sort of…” I lied. My notepad really contained a running list of things I needed to do when I got home to start tying up loose ends, to start shutting down my life.

“Well, if you want any recommendations about what to see and do, I could…”

As if God knew how nervous and flustered I was, I was saved from further conversation with Mr. Handsome when my cell rang. I hadn’t felt that way in years. And if I was truly honest with myself, when I looked at him, all I could think about was which would taste better – the Dole Whip I had sampled or him…

“I’m sorry…I…I need to take this call.”

His face dropped in disappointment.

I clumsily started gathering my items, slipped on my sandals and let my cell slip out of my sweaty hands. Of course, Mr. Handsome was agile enough to catch it before it hit the concrete. He glanced quickly at the caller id and smiled.

“If you don’t answer it soon, Meghan will hang up,” he teased handing it back to me.

“Oh, thanks.” I clicked it, told Meghan to hold on and said goodbye to him. “It was nice meeting you. Uh, maybe we’ll see each other around?”

Mr. Handsome gave me one of his infectious smiles and nodded.

“I’m sure that we’ll bump into each other again.”

I couldn’t scurry away fast enough, feeling his eyes boring holes into my back as I walked away. Poor Meghan. I completely forget that she was still on the line.

Continuation – H is for “Hale”

©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it’s completed.

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F is for “Fruit” #nanowrimo #fiction

The Dole Whip turned out to be a soft serve pineapple ice cream that was absolutely orgasmic, a word that I hadn’t used or experienced in ages…

I was this close to shoving the fool sitting next to me off of the Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation

But finding myself in an Oahu jail far away from home wasn’t on my list of things to do in Hawaii so I resisted the urge by folding my arms tight across my body and leaning away from him.

The conversation with the man next to me had started innocently enough, with friendly touristy banter but when I made the fatal mistake of saying that I was traveling alone, his attitude took an unwanted 180 degree turn.  And I was out of practice with dealing with unwanted male attention.

“You’re too cute to be hanging out all by your lonesome. I’m alone too. How about we have dinner and go back to my hotel after this boring fruit tour thing is over?”

Photo credit: dnyluong via Foter.com / CC BY

I stared down at the loser’s ring finger and then into his ugly face.

What?

“Two lonely people like us could enjoy each other’s company…” he leered, hovering his hand too close to my outer thigh. “Think of it as a two for one deal. We paid to ride this lame train but we could have much more fun riding each other…”

WTF?

The feeling of empowerment and strength I’d felt at the top of Diamond Head summit washed over me like a tidal wave but this time it was fueled with anger.

The only thing standing in my way was me and I no longer had time to waste on nonsensical shit like this…

“First off, I said that I was alone, not lonely.” I pointed to the tan line of where his wedding band had clearly been before he had taken it off. “Second, I feel sorry for your wife because she clearly could have done better than you. And third, get your crusty ass away from me or you’ll find my fist in your face.”

But my harshness was no deterrent for the fool.

“Oh, I like a feisty woman who …”

A hand suddenly stabbed the air between us from behind and grabbed the loser’s shoulder.

Hard.

“Dude, I strongly suggest that you slither over to the next seat and away from the lady otherwise I will be forced to move you myself,” a deep voice boomed.

Taken by surprise, we both simultaneously turned to face a massive man giving the loser a very nasty glare. The woman sitting beside him had her hand on his arm as if to hold him back. Without a moment’s hesitation, the loser jumped out of his seat and scurried over two benches ahead of us. Scared shitless, the idiot never looked back once.

“Are you okay? You seemed to have the situation under control but we both couldn’t take that asshole harrassing you like that. My boyfriend was getting angrier by the second.”

The young woman appeared to be in her late twenties and was quite petite in contrast to the hulk of a man beside her. Her hand flew up to cover a giggle. “But it was sure funny how that loser jumped those seats like he was hurdling.”

“I’m okay. And thanks for intervening like that – I appreciate it. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him that I was traveling alone in the first place. Hindsight is 20/20. ” I extended my hand to her. “My name is …Katie by the way.”

I liked the sound of Katie instead of Kate or Kathryn.

“Nice to meet you Katie. I’m Jennifer and this is my boyfriend Joshua. Nice to meet you.”

“Do you want to hang with us for the rest of the tour?” Joshua offered, looking quite protective and still giving a death stare to the back of the loser’s head.

“You don’t have to do that…I don’t want to impose.”

“Oh, we wouldn’t mind at all, right babe? Have you been to the Dole Plantation before?”

“No, this is my first time here and in Hawaii.”

“Wow! And you’re doing this solo? I admire that. I’d be so scared to do that.”

Joshua nodded. “To be honest, I would be scared too and I’m a pretty big dude.”

Before we knew it, we were chatting and ignoring the automated tour guide voice recording that was providing a running commentary for the tour. When it was over, we all piled off the train and towards the plantation store.

“Are you going to have a Dole Whip?”

I had no clue what Jennifer was talking about.

“A Dole what?”

Jennifer and Joshua looked at me with surprise.

“You don’t know about Dole Whip? Oh my God, you’re in for a treat. Come on Katie, let’s go have one together.”

I followed them into the store where we each ordered one and sat down at a table nearby.  The Dole Whip turned out to be a soft serve pineapple ice cream that was absolutely orgasmic, a word that I hadn’t used or experienced in ages.

Photo credit: jpellgen via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

“Isn’t it delicious?” Jennifer asked me between bites. All I could do was nod as I licked my spoon after each and every bite.

“Katie, are you spending your entire vacation in Oahu?”

“No, today is my last day here. I’m headed to Maui for three weeks in the morning.”

“Oh, we just left Maui. It is amazing! You’re going to love it. Where are you staying?”

“At the Lahaina Mahalo Breeze Condo Resorts*. The reviews were good and the price was right so I’m hoping that its not a cockroach infested dive or something.”

“Oh my God! We just left there last week! It’s a great little place. We loved having a kitchenette and the grocery store around the corner. Condo style apartment hotels always have less tourists and the local residents living there are really friendly.”

I sighed with relief.

“Well, I’m relieved. You two are real live references!”

Jennifer nudged Joshua.

“Maybe we should give her Galen’s number. You know, just in case she needs help or something when she’s there.”

Joshua, a man of few words and focused on his own Dole Whip simply nodded and handed over his cell.

“Who is Galen?”

“This real sweetheart who lives in that condo complex. He’s a writer or a researcher. He’s such a nice man. Since you are solo, he might be a good resources in case you ever need help. He’s also cute and single…”

“Jennifer….” Joshua warned before getting up to order another Dole Whip.

Jennifer laughed. “I’m just saying that he’s cute, that’s all. Give me your phone Katie and I’ll put Galen’s coordinates in. And mine too if you want to keep in touch.”

What did I have to lose?

She scrolled through Joshua’s to get the number she was looking for, took my phone and punched in the numbers. Then her thumbs started texting away at an amazing speed.

“I’m texting Galen to say that I gave you his number to you. You’re all set now! I know that I shouldn’t but I want another Whip too. What about you?”

One of the upsides of a ticking clock was no more thinking about calories and dieting. I didn’t blink twice.

“I’m in for round two Jennifer.”

Continuation – G is for “Grass Skirt”

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it’s completed.

*fictional resort name

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E is for “Earth” #nanowrimo #fiction

As I stood close enough to reach out and touch the blue skies on the Diamond Head summit, my mind flashed back to all the years I had felt so helpless and hopeless. I suddenly realized that nothing and no one was holding me back now…

I sat in utter amazement at the breathtaking views from the Diamond Head summit. Meghan had definitely not lied about how awesome it was.

“You see, it wasn’t so bad! The trail was a little steep in a few places but you did it!”

I felt such a sense of accomplishment that I couldn’t stop grinning. After all those mind games I’d played on myself, the trail really hadn’t been that difficult.

“If it weren’t for you Gran, I would have missed all of this! Thank you for giving me that kick in the pants!”

“Don’t be so polite about it. You mean a hard kick in the ass!”

I smiled. Yes, if it hadn’t been for this old lady with a cane egging me on, I never would have experienced it. I immediately fished my camera out of my backpack.

“The light is great right now for pictures.”

“I don’t anything about those types of things dear. But I did tell you that when you put your mind to something, anything is possible, didn’t I?”

Looking down from that perspective at the crater below where we had started our journey, I felt powerful and strong enough to accomplish anything. But yet I still felt small enough to feel swallowed up by the vastness of my surroundings.

How could I feel significant and insignificant all at the same time?

Photo credit: Kanalu Chock via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Resentfulness soured my mouth at the realization of the number of experiences I had missed out on…

Being left by my ex-husband with the kids at the foot of Chichen Itza in Mexico because he said they would whine too much and couldn’t appreciate its’ history…

Our honeymoon in Ocho Rios when he had enjoyed the walk up Dunn’s River Falls without me because I was “too clumsy and might hurt myself”…

I had been so upset for the rest of the day after witnessing all the other husbands and boyfriends helping their wives and girlfriends navigate through the rocky uneven terrain.

And those were just some of the things that had taught me to “accept and submit” to my lot in life as a mother and wife…when I really shouldn’t have.

I felt my camera sliding away from my face and realized that Gran had gently pushed it away.

“Whenever I come up here, I take all of my worries and hand them over to God. My grandson who is still on a dangerous life path, my granddaughter who just lost a baby, my pain from being left on this earth without my husband….I hand it all over to Him because God is good and He always does what is right.”

Gran placed a hand on my cheek.

“Put that camera down and think about what is weighing on your spirit. Release it to God and let Him help you find peace. When you’re ready to head back down, we’ll be over there. But first, take a picture of us together so that you can remember me in this day on this summit with you.” I took out me cell and snapped a selfie of us and she surprised me by doing a “duck face”.

Then, Gran pointed to where her family was standing. “Take your time. The park doesn’t close until 6:00pm. ”

And with that, she walked away leaving me alone. Besides the obvious illness that was on my mind, why was I always so ready and willing to let things slide? When had I become incurably jaded and given up on my life?

As I stood close enough to reach out and touch the blue skies on the Diamond Head summit, my mind flashed back to all the years I had felt so helpless and hopeless. I suddenly realized that nothing and no one was holding me back now.

The only person getting in my way was me.

And it was high time that I get the hell out of my own way.

Continuation – F is for “Fruit”

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it is completed.

 

Photo credit: MjZ Photography via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

 

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D is for “Diamond Head” (2017) #nanowrimo #fiction

“If I can do the trail with this cane, you can do it too. You can’t navigate through life giving up before you’ve even given it a try. Believe me, I’ve been there and done that…”

I can’t do this.

If I had done the proper research, I would have skipped Diamond Head Monument Park from my list of things to conquer.

I was already sweating bullets from the heat and the walk from the bus stop, up through the Kapahulu tunnel and to the admission entrance where I paid my $1.00 to get admission.

Photo credit: Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view via Foter.com / CC BY

I was prepared with my camera since Meghan had boasted about the breathtaking views of the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline from the Diamond Head Crater summit but the more I read through the brochure that I had picked up at the gate, the more I was convinced that I couldn’t tackle the trail.

“From the trailhead to the summit of Diamond Head Crater, you will hike 0.8 mile (1.3 km) one way and climb 560 feet (171 m) from the crater floor. The trail follows an uneven and steep terrain requiring caution and appropriate footwear. Portions of the trail involve steep stairways – take your time. Other portions of the trail go through a long tunnel which is lighted. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for a safe and leisurely round-trip hike. After exiting the tunnel, turn right and take the 99 steps into the Fire Control Station up to the summit. To avoid congestion, take the loop trail along the rim and interior slope back to the tunnel.”

I already wanted to faint at the thought of steep heights and 99 stairs along the way. And even if I managed to make it to the summit, I’d embarrass myself when I wouldn’t have the energy to get myself back down.

I sat at a picnic table near the water fountains and restrooms facilities to catch my breath and people-watch as I downed my bottle of water. While throngs of tourist couples and families with children had smiles on their faces looking anxious to get started on their journey up to the summit, I was trying to guesstimate when I could the next city bus back to Waikiki. Everyone had someone, except me. I suddenly felt pathetic at being alone and not having anyone to share this experience with.

Maybe if I had gotten myself back on the dating scene soon after the divorce, I would have been with someone special by now.

I had probably missed my opportunity at love and the few men I had met online had all been less than desirable. They all seemed to be a slight variation of the man who had divorced me. Men of my own age wanted young, healthy and baggage-free girls, not older, dying and jaded like me.

Yeah, maybe if I had started dating sooner, I might have been remarried with the support of a man to help me through all of this.

Maybe I had spent too much time enjoying the delicious feeling of being free from the suffocation of a man who required that I fulfill his every need. Or maybe I had just been scared to venture down another path of love gone wrong. Finding love was irrelevant now.

“Missy, you look like you’re having second thoughts.”

The voice came from the picnic table next to me and when I looked over, I noticed an old sun-kissed woman smiling. She had a handful of teenage girls with her and I assumed that they were her grandchildren.

I smiled back and nodded.

“You guessed right.” I held the brochure up. “99 stairs that I’ll have to do twice? I’m not in shape for it. I can’t do it.”

“Of course you can do the trail. I’m sure that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

I shook my head.

“No, not this time around.”

“Don’t tell me that you came all this way to let a little mountain trail get in your way of seeing the beautiful views from the summit? It’s worth it, believe me.” Her tone reminded me of how my adopted grandmother spoke to me as a child, a tone that meant ‘don’t argue with me because I know better than you’.

I looked to the start of the trail and back at her.

“Maybe but I’ll just have to do when I’m in better shape. It will give me an excuse to visit Hawaii again,” I  joked but it fell flat for both of us. I knew very well that I wouldn’t be back in this lifetime.

The old woman cocked her head to the side and gave me a serious look.

“Just from the look on your face, I can see that you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.” My eyebrows raised with surprise. “There’s no time like the present to do what you came here to do. Don’t wait Missy. Life is short and great opportunities don’t present themselves twice.”

The old woman braced herself against the table and stood up. One of the teenage girls promptly handed her a cane and she made her way over to me.

“See this cane? I’ve had it for years and if I can do the trail with this cane, you can do it too. You can’t navigate through life giving up before you’ve even given it a try. Believe me, I’ve been there and done that.” She pointed out two women who looked slightly older than me exiting the restrooms approaching us.

“These are my two daughters, Halia and Akela.” The two women smiled and said hello. “And this is my new friend…” she waited for me to fill in the blank.

“Kate. My name is Kate.”

“You look more like a Katie to me. Katie is going to be joining us on the trail,” she announced to her daughters.

My head snapped to attention.

“Oh…uh…You don’t have to do that!”

“I don’t do anything that I don’t want to do Katie. Let’s get you up this trail.”

“But…”

“No buts. My daughters, my granddaughters and I do the trail once every few months just for the fun of it. You know, get them away from all that stupid technology and back to nature for the day.”

I tried one last ditch attempt at weaseling myself out.

“I don’t want to slow you all down…I may need to rest along the way.”

“We are never in a rush dear. We always take our time and stop when we feel like it. We’re well-equipped with snacks and water. Come on, let’s get out of this crater and up to the summit.”

Photo credit: Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view via Foter.com / CC BY

I had no excuses left and thanked them for letting me tag along.

“Mahalo, Katie. It’s our pleasure. You’ll see that the journey was well worth it. And you can call me Gran.”

As I followed along and joined in on their family banter, I shook off my worry. At least if something went wrong, I wouldn’t be alone.

What did I have to lose? 

Not a damn thing.

Continuation – E is for “Earth”

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it is completed.

 

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C is for “Coconut” (2017) #nanowrimo #fiction

As I sipped on that delicious thirst quenching coconut water, I was in no rush to fetch my luggage that was the last one spinning around and around on the carousel waiting for me to rescue it.

I wanted to savor this moment. And savor it is exactly what I did…

I was literally floating in the white billowy clouds above rolling green hills that made me think I was lost in an episode of “Lost”.

With lush mountainous terrain, powdery blue skies, rolling peaks and valleys, crystal blue green waters beneath me, I was mesmerized by the view through the plane window. It was so beautiful that I almost had to pinch myself and my heart kept skipping beats with excitement.

Why had I waited so long to do this?

I had spoken to Kevin just before boarding my flight and he sounded overjoyed for me. I was still smiling at his words – “Have fun Mom. You deserve it. Stay safe and text me every few days so that I know that you’re okay. And bring me back some Macadamia nuts.

I was still flying on cloud nine and was almost at the baggage carousel at the Honolulu International Airport when Hannah called me.

“Where the hell are you? I’m standing outside the house and my keys aren’t working! You need to get here right away. I’m having a party tonight and I need some of my CDs.”

Sometimes I couldn’t believe that I’d given birth to Hannah. No, most of the time I couldn’t believe that I given birth to Hannah. My twins couldn’t have been more different but that was mainly due to my ex-husband spoiling Hannah rotten after we decided to divorce. Kevin had been smart enough to see through his father’s acts of strategic generosity but Hannah had chosen to turn a blind eye and work the situation to her advantage. Hannah was definitely her father’s daughter – always was and always would be.

Knowing that it would take a while for the luggage to arrive, I sat myself down at a coffee shop near the carousel area with the intention of getting a coffee after hanging up with her.

“I changed the locks and that’s why your keys aren’t working Hannah.”

“Why the hell would you go and do that without telling me first?”

“Because you don’t live there anymore. I gave the realtor a new set of keys so that she could do some showings while I’m away.”

“What?” Hannah freaked out. “What the fuck are you talking about? You’re selling our house?”

I usually scolded Hannah on her use of profanity around me but I couldn’t be bothered. Most of the time I knew that she did it on purpose to annoy me but I was tired. Tired of the words she used, the lack of direction in her life and her lack of behavior – none of it was  my responsibility anymore. As I listened to her scream at me, I kept my eyes peeled for my luggage as bags started to spit out of the mysterious black hole above the carousel. Passengers immediately began to jockey around each other as if their feet were on fire.

“I’m not selling our house. I’m selling my house. The one you chose to move out of last year.”

Because Hannah thought she could throw parties, come and go as she pleased, and make demands of me when she was still under my roof, I had put my foot down and given her an ultimatum – follow house rules or leave. After running to her father, she had gladly thrown my ultimatum in my face when her father promised to pay for an apartment. Even so, I would still let her guilt me into lending her money for stupidities that she should not have been indulging in.

Your house? You mean Daddy’s house. He paid for it. You never worked a day in your life. All you did was stay at home on your ass all day doing nothing.”

No key to the house meant that Hannah couldn’t raid the pantry, my liquor cabinet or get access on a whim. But not anymore – I had let her squeeze the last drop of motherly guilt out of me for the last time. I no longer had time for that game.

This was not the way I had planned to start my month long dream holiday in Hawaii but I’d make it the last negative glitch before I stepped foot in my hotel in Waikiki.

“Hannah, if it weren’t for me taking care of all of you the way that I did, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, your father would not have been able to buy this house. I more than worked for that house little girl and if I want to sell it, I don’t need your permission.”

Whatever Mother! I’m going to tell Daddy what you’re planning on doing. But right now, I need my CD collection so you need to get to the house asap.”

I shook my head in disgust.

“You’ll have to live without them. I’m in Hawaii and won’t be back for four weeks.”

I heard Hannah gasp.

“Hawaii? What the fuck are you doing in Hawaii? It’s not like you need a vacation! You barely work with the money Daddy gives you.”

My blood began to boil. I wasn’t sure of the last time I’d felt anger bubble in my throat that way.

“I’ll tell you what I won’t be doing Hannah. I won’t be enabling you and your ungrateful attitude anymore. If your father wants to, that’s his problem but the buck stops here with me right now! You think that you can behave like a brat all the time just because your parents got divorced? Boo hoo hoo, poor you! You’re not the first and you won’t be the last child to have divorced parents. You’re living on your own with her latest boyfriend and you shouldn’t even have stuff left at the house. Don’t you think I realize that you only call me when you want something from me or when I’m useful to you? Does that bother me? Of course it does but I don’t say anything because I don’t want to suffer through your rants. But no more. When I get back, I’ll pack up what’s left in your room and I’ll tell you when you can pick up all of your stuff up.”

I couldn’t catch my breath after that mouthful of bitterness and there was dead silence on the other end of the line.

Had I shocked some sense back into Hannah’s tiny brain?

“What are you going to do there for four fucking weeks?”

“Well, according to you, I’m well-versed at sitting on my ass and doing nothing all day so that’s exactly what I plan on doing. I plan on sipping on coconut water, eating pineapples, taking lots of photos and watching people dive off cliffs. Talk to you in a month Hannah.”

And with that, I hung up on her and dropped my cell into my purse. I suddenly felt like I could breath more deeply.

Before I made an attempt to get up and order a coffee, a real coconut with a straw suddenly appeared on the table in front of me. When I looked up, the coffee shop attendant was standing next to me.

Photo credit: Foter.com

“I didn’t mean to listen in on your conversation but you were talking to your daughter, right?”

I nodded, highly embarrassed at being overheard.

“Yeah, I feel for you. I have one of those at home and I admire your spirit. I hope that one day I can learn to put my foot down like that with my daughter. I need to borrow your backbone.”

The coffee attendant pushed the coconut towards me. “I can’t help you with the other things I heard you mention but I can get you started with sipping on coconut water. It’s on the house.”

I smiled sheepishly and thanked her.

“Aloha,” she said, nodded and walked back to behind the counter.

I couldn’t help but contain my smile at the act of kindness from a total stranger. It had to be part of the aloha spirit that Meghan had talked about.

As I sipped on that delicious thirst quenching coconut water, I was in no rush to fetch my luggage that was the last one spinning around and around on the carousel waiting for me to rescue it.

I wanted to savor this moment. And savor it is exactly what I did…

Continuation – D is for “Diamond Head”

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it is completed.

 

 

 

 

 

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