5.7.19 InstaShortie – Keys

I glanced at the clock. The seconds ticked by—one by one. Each one clicking on to the next as if the world did in fact keep turning. As if it hadn’t just shattered into a million minuscule shards of glass that became shrapnel. The pieces pierced my skin creating a river of emotion that drained from my body slowly. I tried to stop it; to hold the pieces of my world together. I stitched them in uneven, imperfect lines. A perfect representation of myself. Together and whole, but completely and utterly broken.

The door slammed and the entire house shook. The sound echoed through the air and hung with baited breath, waiting for me to react.

I should have yelled “STOP!” I should have demanded an audience and a stage. I had things I wanted to say—no, needed to say. Words built inside me and held me captivated. They would stay there and fester, eating away at my soul along with the could haves and should haves. The dreams and plans. They would all die slowly.

Blame rested solely on me. The walls built were erected by me. Each and every brick created with my own hands and cemented with lies. It was meant to provide protection; a shield. Instead the structure became a weapon. The very thing that was to keep me safe was the thing that eviscerated my world.

Cold. Unfeeling. Stone. All words he used to describe me. Those were not the words inside me. Protected. Safe. Guarded. Those were my words. He’d taken them and twisted them into a knife meant to slash my heart.

The door creaked open. A tentative hand pushing it slowly, carefully. Was he changing his mind? Or did he just forget something? Me? Did he forget me?

I waited, holding my breath. First an inch of light broke through. Then six. Then nothing. It paused. I could see his fingers wrapped around the door. He stood on the other side of the pristine white door for what felt like hours.

“Levi?” I said, my voice barely above a whisper. His knuckles went white as he gripped harder. Still, the door didn’t budge so much as an inch. He was hesitating. Something was keeping him from running completely. Me? Was it me that pulled him back?

The door flew open and he stepped through the threshold. Sunlight danced behind him igniting his golden hair. I forced a smile and hoped it seemed warm and inviting—anything but cold and rigid. Surely a person could become someone completely different in a matter of minutes.

When his eyes met mine, my smile faded.
It disappeared into oblivion along with what little hope is held onto. His anger seethed through his green eyes. Flames danced with daggers as he looked straight through me as if I weren’t even there.

I opened my mouth to speak. What exactly, I didn’t know. His hand flew up, fingers splayed, stopping my apology or groveling before it even started.

“I forgot my keys.”

Not I forgot I loved you. I missed you already. I’m staying. He forgot his keys.

When the door shut this time, a sense of resolution flushed through my veins. Brick-by-brick the wall started to rebuild itself. The thick layer of protection restored my sense of self. I blinked away whatever tears threatened and ignored the ones still welling inside.

He’d be back. I was certain of that. In his haste to ignore me, he’d grabbed my keys instead of his. This time I’d be prepared. No fake smiles, just words. I only needed three words. Three words could fix this. I could fix this. I had to.

The door flew open without hesitation this time. He breezed in, flushed with annoyance.

Ignoring the weight of the freshly built wall, I finally said the words I hadn’t been able to before, “I love you.”

The anchor pulled, forcing the bricks to buckle. Give and take. Wasn’t that what he’d asked me for?

He stopped. The keys fell to the floor and he turned. Our eyes met—blue to green—his anger fizzled as my gaze flooded his.

“What?” He whispered. “What did you say?”

“I love you, Levi.” This time the words flowed easier. They had a natural simplicity to them. “I’m sorry. Stay.”

The words freed me and pulled him back in. The wall could grow to fit two. It could encompass the both of us. I could be safe within the walls with him.

“Say it again.” His voice was light now. The anger vanished. Three words was all he needed.

I smiled. “I love you.”

4.24.19 InstaShortie – Anything for the ‘Gram

Worst case scenarios are always running through my mind. An untimely sneeze causes a fender bender. A simple paper cuts gets infected and I lose my entire arm. You name it and I’ll tack on the worst possible outcome.

More than half of my waking hours are often spent imagining these unlikely scenarios and plotting my escape.

The one I didn’t plan for? Having my pants split right down the ass in the middle of Barnes & Noble while trying to get the perfect Bookstagram Photo. The sound reverberated through the quiet store. The slow rip of the seam filled the air as it exposed what I’d hoped were at least cute undies. Did I wear the pink lacy ones or my laundry day granny panties?

Snickers echoed through the silent aisles. I didn’t dare turn around. My face was pinker than then underwear I hoped I was wearing. If I didn’t turn around, they’d never have a face to put with the ripping pants.

God, I hope they don’t follow me. I thought. If they follow me, they’ll recognize this photo when I post it know it was my ass that exploded through the ripped seam. I wasn’t even planning to buy the book. All I needed was a photo.

“Ma’am?” a timid voice behind me said. The hand belonging to the voice tapped me shoulder.

“Yes?” I replied and stood. I attempted to pivot so my mishap wouldn’t be on full display. Riiiiip.

I failed. As I stood, the rip deepend. A breeze hit my upper thigh. You know the spot just under your cheek? The one women’s magazines ask you to hold a pencil under to see what type of ass shape you have? The other butt cleavage, if you will. The stale, cold air tickled my bare skin. I reached behind me to pull the fabric tight and confirmed it was not the pink lacy underwear. Great.

“Your pants ripped,” she observed.

Thank you, Captain Obvious. “Yes, I believe the whole store heard that.” I looked down at the young employee, her cheeks as red as merlot.

“Are you buying that book?” Not only had my pants ripped, but I was being asked if I intended to shoplift.

I shook my head. “Just needed a photo.” And to expose my ass.

“I’m afraid we’re going to have to ask you to leave.” Another voice joined the conversation. This one less timid. “We have decency standards.”

I started to argue that I did too, but considering I was exposing half of my unmentionables to his staff, I could see where he was coming from. So, I just nodded and turned to walk away. The draft reminded me of my… situation.

“Could I possible borrow a shopping bag? To cover my, um, you know.” I gestured behind me, fanning my cheeks.

Without cracking so much as the hint of a smile, he nodded and dismissed the girl to retrieve a plastic bag. He left before she returned. I kept my back facing the shelf, careful to not brush my skin against it. I was fairly certain they’d make me purchase any books my ass touched and my TBR was big enough already. Besides, what would I write in the caption? I picked this book because the author is an always buy, and my ass cheek skimmed it in the store so I had to.

Standing this still and tense should count as a lower body workout.

“Here,” she said and handed me a bag. “You look familiar.”

Please, no.

“Are you on Bookstagram?” When I nodded, she laughed and said, “Anything for the ‘Gram. Right?”

4.17.19 InstaShortie – Damn The Man

In hindsight, telling the CEO (and my boss) of a major Fortune 500 company that his mind was as small as his penis was ill advised. Following that statement up by throwing his cup of coffee in his face was also not the best career move. Nor was storming out of his office and announcing to the whole building that he was an impotent, incompetent tool. Looking back over the morning, I can easily see what led me to career-assassination, and while I should regret it, I find myself not caring as I pack ten years of work into a shoebox.

Hastily, I throw what I can into the box and ignore the whispers in the hallway outside my office. I can feel their eyes staring at me. A few paused at my door as if they are trying to decide whether or not to approach me to offer words of wisdom or sympathy – none of which I was particularly in the mood for. Occasionally, I’d glance up and glare at the unlucky soul who decided to linger a little too long. It wasn’t their fault, but in a way I blame all of them for not having the balls to do what I just did.

Grant Edmonson, CEO of Yearly Enterprises, had it coming. He’d grabbed my ass and eyed my chest a few too many times over the last ten years. Not to mention all the times he stole ideas from those around him and used them to earn himself a plush corner office and a half million-dollar paycheck. Every last one of us thought about saying those things to him, but unlike me apparently, they all wanted to retain their employment status and as a result, wisely kept their mouths shut. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way in a position where being unemployed is an option.

Maybe I shouldn’t have skipped my morning latte, or maybe I just finally snapped under the abuse and pressure. Whatever the reason, I was trying to remind myself that all things happen for a reason and I would be just fine. Sure the economy was in the toilet, but I’d saved a decent nest egg that should carry me into my next opportunity. Of course, I had no idea that Grant was currently in his office calling every firm in the state of Tennessee and blacklisting me. Again, in hindsight, I should have expected this.

With my shoebox full of a decade of office hording under one arm and my hand bag in the other, I nodded to no one in particular and lifted my head. If I was going to do the career walk of shame, I might as well do it with my head held high. As I made my way down the (what felt like) mile-long hallway to the elevator, I avoid eye contact. My pride may be intact, but my dignity was still a little bruised.

For most of my adult life, Yearly Enterprises has been my home. From the tiny cubicle my assistant now sits in to the almost-corner office I’d just left, this place was where I’d honed my skills and made a reputation for myself. I’d met my husband in the elevator after getting trapped in it with him on my first day. My group of girlfriends had all passed through these doors at one point or another and some of my closest friends still work here. Today, I could feel their eyes on me, but rather than make a joke or ask how the family was, I just made my way to the elevator.

I pressed the down button for the last time and patiently waited for the doors to open. When they did, I was greeted by the mirrored walls that had been my signal that my day was both beginning and ending. I fought back the tears I’d managed to avoid all morning and drew in a deep breath as I turned back to the office. I lifted me head and met the faces of my co-workers. They were gathered in a group just outside the elevators. I smiled and waved.

And then I shouted, “DAMN THE MAN!” and threw my fist in the air, dropping my shoebox. As the doors closed, I heard laughter and applause. At least they didn’t see the tear that finally escaped. Their last image of me would be of a strong, independent and defiant woman.


4.9.19 InstaShortie – Redesign

“Ok. Deep breath. Exhale slowly. Now, open your eyes. Take in your surroundings. Process it all with an open mind.”

Callie opened her right eye, slowly and with just a hint of skepticism. She then blinked and both eyes popped open. The room was covered in the colors of both diarrhea and Pepto. Pepto diarrhea. How was that even possible, she wondered. Her best friend has managed to mix the two things that are meant to counteract each other. She inhaled sharply and let out a quiet, polite sigh. Turning to her friend, she was greeted with a huge smile and a face that said, “please don’t crush my dreams.”

Callie looked from the hot pink shag rug to the shit brown sofa, and the even brighter pink walls to the crystal brown chandelier. She took it all in, eyes wide and a fake smile plastered across her face. Gritting her teeth, she returned her attention to Tia.

“Oh, Tia, it’s just… ” Callie paused, waiting for the words to come. She had to be delicate. She had to be polite. She could feel the desperation seeping off of her friend. “It’s pink shit.”

So much for being either polite or delicate. Callie wasn’t usually one to hide her true feelings, but she’d thought she could lie just a little to spare her best friend’s feelings. Even if her words wouldn’t have deceived her, her face would. There was no hiding her disgust, much like the Pepto pink, it was painted all over her face. Her nose wrinkled, her eyes wide and her lips turned down.

“CALLIE!” Tia exclaimed, her spirit dying with each over emphasized syllable. “This is exactly what you asked for.”

“I’m sorry, T. I wanted brown with hints of pink. You know, pink accents,” she paused and walked to the wall, touching it to be sure it was real. “Accents – like, curtains, pillow shams, rugs. And a complementary pink! Not neon, glow-in-the dark pink!”

Tia stared at her friend in disbelief. She’d spent months designing and curating the perfect items for this job; her very first paying design gig. Now her supposed best friend was literally poo-pooing her work. Her creation. Her design. She crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes.

“I cannot believe how ungrateful you are being.”

“Ungrateful?” Callie asked. “I paid you over two thousand dollars to turn my living room into the sanctuary of a ninety-year-old cat lady. The only thing missing are the lace doilies and the porcelain cats.”

Callie waved her arm, grazing it through the air. Her eyes darted from corner-to-corner. She squinted and stepped towards the bookshelf in the corner. Tia flinched and held her breath, knowing full well what Callie was going to find when she took a second look.

“Oh,” Callie breathed.

There sitting proudly on the bookshelf was a large porcelain cat figurine. Underneath it? A lace doily. Tia didn’t say anything. She offered a sheepish smile.

A robust laugh exploded from deep within Callie’s gut. “I hope you haven’t quit your day job yet.”

Tia’s smile faded.

“You didn’t?”

“You have so many well-connect friends, Callie! I just assumed this job would lead to more and I’d be set.”

“Oh, no, Tia. No, no, no.” She realized then how important this job had been to Tia. Everything, not just her dreams, was riding on this. “Do you still have the receipts? I honestly don’t know what made you think that rug was a good idea.”

Tia nodded. Her head dipped slightly. She studied the fibers of the hot pink rug beneath her feet and wondered what had possessed her to buy it. An image flashed through her mind. A smile. Blue eyes peering into hers. Massive biceps straining against a too small T-shirt. It was all so clear now. She hadn’t been in her right mind. Her cheeks flushed.

Callie took one look at her friend and knew instantly what had happened. A boy. A little flirting. The witty sales pitch. An exchange of numbers – his phone and her credit card.

“He better have been cute,” she mused. “Alright, everything pink goes back. The brown isn’t so bad on it’s own, we can work with that.”

Tia nods. “He was sexy AF, Cal. We have a date tomorrow,” she said proudly. For a moment, she forgot all about her friend’s rejection. Callie rolled her eyes. Tia grabbed the box she was handing her and headed towards the bookshelf.

“Wait!” Callie shouted. The corner of her lip twitched, curling into a mischievous grin. “The cat stays.”

4.3.19 InstaShortie – Is This It?

“No,” I whispered. The words catching in my throat, threatening to linger. I shook my head, unable to look at him. My hand slapped my leg as he dropped it.

“No? What do you mean, no, Sarah?” His voice pitched higher. It only did that when he was upset or on the verge of losing his temper. Both were likely.

Kneeling before me, he still held the delicate platinum band between his thumb and index finger. The half carat Princess cut diamond caught the fading sunlight. He fell back but caught himself. He shoved himself away from me, backing towards the ocean. The waves lapped the shore, singing their song as if our entire world weren’t crashing down around us.

In the absence of my response, the only sound that remained was the waves lapping on the shore. A deep pink and purple Malibu sunset reflected on the pristine waters behind him. Literally everything about this moment was exactly how I’d imagined it.

We’d spent the better part of the day in bed. First surrounded by French toast and mimosas. Then tangled in a mess of sheets and clothes. We’d made love at least three times since the sun first woke us. Our bodies close and blended together, lost in passion.

For the first time in years, we’d been free to just be together. No cameras. No interviews. Nothing to hide. At first it was freeing, but now it suffocated me.

“Brody,” I finally said, his name bittersweet on my lips. “I can’t marry you. I’m so sorry.”

“Why?” He pushes off his knees and leapt to his feet. His face flushed.

I didn’t have an answer for him. Nearly a decade together and I couldn’t find the words to tell him why.

Every question that came to mind was answered with a resounding No.

Did I want to spend the rest of my life as Mrs. Brody Wilson? No.

Could I imagine loving anyone else? No.

Did I want to marry him? No.

Did I want to break up? No.

I couldn’t wrap my head around why I couldn’t say yes. The reasons to say yes were all there. Brody and I were high school sweethearts. We’d survived the long-distance thing when he moved to Nashville to pursue music and I headed off to California for college. Our relationship outlived his first year on the road as a touring musician. We’d overcome groupies and tabloids, rumors and expectations. Literally everything about us was perfect.

Except, it wasn’t.

As I stared into his desperate blue eyes I wanted to dive in head first. Take that leap of faith and give him everything he wanted. He deserved that. He deserved everything. But I couldn’t give that to him. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. I was tired of being in the shadows and hiding our relationship. As long as his fans and his label had him, I never would. At least not all of him. Yet, that is what he expected from me. I’d be forced to give up my career to follow him from city-to-city and wait up for him. Lonely hotel rooms. Meals from bags or boxes. Standing on the sidelines.

That’s not what I wanted. It’s not how I saw my life unfolding. I wanted more, I knew that, but what I didn’t know was what that was.

He blinked. When his eyes opened again, he looked right through me. He knew the answer to his question. My face was an open book and he was reading every single page, flipping to the end. The final scene did not include him. A dark cloud washed over him.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

He walked away without looking back . His feet sank into the sand and he quickened his pace to a jog. Part of me wanted to run after him and apologize, begging for a second chance. Maybe I’d say yes when he asked again. Instead I just watched my entire world leave me alone on the beach. My ring and future walked away with him, along with the hotel key and my plane ticket home.

Every step he took away from me was one step closer to what I’d been craving… silence, room to breathe, a fresh start. Exhaling, I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, the outline of him was so small it barely existed. The ocean sang in the air behind me and its mist peppered my skin.

So this is what freedom feels like.

4.1.19 InstaShortie – Adventures in Nose Waxing

“Have you ever had your nose waxed?” she asked. My eyes popped open, wide with confusion. She leaned over me, her face inches from mine. Coffee on her breath and judgement filling her eyes. I wish I’d kept my eyes closed.

“My what, what?” I asked. I’d heard her loud and clear. I knew what she was asking, but it wasn’t exactly something I’d expected to hear. Before she could answer, I closed my eyes again, winching as she plucked a stray hair from my eyebrows.

“You know, just clean up the nose hairs so you don’t have any sticking out.”

I was fairly certain I did not have any Repunzel nose hairs, but a morbid curiosity took over. Still, the thought of ripping hair from my nostrils wasn’t exactly appealing. “Oh,” I whispered. “No, I think I am good. It’s allergy season after all.”

“We’re going to do it,” she affirmed. “Your filter hairs are in the back, we won’t get those.”

I nodded as if that clarification made a difference. The hairs belong in my nose, not on hot wax being ripped out of my nose. She yanks another stray hair from my face and giggles. “That was a good one.”

Convinced she was a masochist, I closed my eyes and focused on something other than hair being removed from my body. I suppose I was grateful she was just talking about nose hairs and not another unpleasant waxing opportunity. If she even hinted at the b-word, I was gone. Even if only one eyebrow was shaped. I’d suffer through my own Tweezers before I offered up my bikini area to hot wax.

Her focus returned to my horribly uneven and misshapen eyebrows… her words. Every so often, she’d muse on the quality of this hair or that hair as if my self worth were tied directly to the length or girth of the hairs above my brown eyes. I keep my eyes closed and mouth sealed shut. Nothing I can say will add to this one-sided conversation.

“Ok,” she finally said. I go to sit up but before I can lift my head from the pillow something soft and hot is shoved into my left nostril. Her fingers clamped down on either side. “Breathe through your mouth or the right side, your choice.”

I opted for my mouth. The thought of accidentally inhaling hot wax terrified me. I prayed the onion bagel I’d had for breakfast no longer lingered on my breath. The weight of her breasts pushed on my head as she leaned over me, pinching my left nostril as she yanked the wax and stick out. She giggled with delight.

“Do you want to see it?”

“Yes,” I replied, unsure of my motivation to give such an unexpected answer. I opened my eyes and gazed on the orange wax, now prickly with my snot hairs. I had a sudden urge to stick my finger in my nose to feel its bareness, but I controlled myself.

Before I could add my own commentary, my right nostril was clamped down around the wax. Already a pro, I closed my eyes and let my mouth take over my nose’s breathing duties.

Well, at least if he happens to look up my nose later tonight, he’ll have false hope that other areas are equally groomed.