The List (#108)

The day Gram showed me her list, I was the only one home to see the note on the counter that read, “Meet at Hank’s for breakfast, 12:00?” It was already 11:30, so I quickly got ready and walked the short distance to our favorite diner on the boardwalk. Gram was already waiting at our favorite booth, fumbling with the purple bandana she wore on her head when it was too hot to rock a wig. She started talking the minute she saw me in the door, which meant by the time I slid into my side of the booth she was already mid-conversation.

“—thought you weren’t gonna make it, Meggy. You really should try and wake up a little earlier you know. Half of your sun time is already gone for the day! But no. worries, at least you made it in time. I already ordered your breakfast and if you didn’t show up, I would have to eat it all myself. Can you just picture Dr. Gray’s face if I told him I had not one, but two servings of cinnamon roll French toast? Hah!”

Before I had a chance to respond, she started rummaging through her purse and eventually came out with a few sheets of paper clipped together. I could tell by the look on her face that the conversation was about to get serious.

“Now Meghan,” she said to me, “People in our family have this annoying habit of dying young, and it looks like I’m gonna be one of them.” She paused here and took a bite of her breakfast, taking the time to find the perfect words before speaking again. Grandma rarely minced her words, so this must be a very important topic to her.

As she was thinking I looked down at my plate and thought of my Pappy who we lost a almost ten years ago,  and the rest of Grandma’s brothers and sisters who passed before I was even born. When I glanced up I caught Gram grimacing in pain the way she only did when she thought we weren’t looking.

“As much as you and I hate to admit it, it’s the truth,” she continued. “Ever since your Pappy died I vowed that I was going to make the most of however many years I had left. She unclipped the papers she had taken from her purse and spread them out on the table.  I looked down and saw of list of 100 things, neatly numbered in Gram’s precise handwriting.

“This is the list I made of all the things I planned on doing before I died, and I’ve been slowly crossing things off ever since.” She handed the list over to me, and as she was talking I started scanning the items.

“Grandma! Why is ‘dancing on a bar’ already crossed off? Does that say skinny dipping? Jesus Christ, Gram!” I look across the table at her, my shock clearly evident on my face. Who IS this woman?

“Don’t swear, Meg,” she scolds but her smile revealed that she was partially enjoying my response, “just because I’m old doesn’t mean that I forgot how to have fun!”

Jack (#65)

A bird-like shriek sounds from the kitchen, and I wander in to see whether a stray animal go in somehow, or if Gram’s cuckoo clock has decided to change its alarm once again. I step into the room just as the noise starts over and a small metallic seagull pops out for the next stroke.

When my grandparents decided to buy a beach house fifteen years ago, Gram made it her personal mission to hi every flea market, auction house, yard sale, and second-hand store in the tristate are to find the perfect furnishings for our family’s new vacation destination. Her efforts resulted in a house full of mismatched furniture and enough knick-knacks to keep us grandkids entertained for hours. Of these treasures, the beach themed cuckoo clock we inherited from an antique shop’s going out of business sale quickly became Gram’s favorite and most annoying household item. Aside from being so big it took up the entire kitchen wall, this clock also had the annoying habit of changing tones at random intervals. Just when you start getting used to the chimes and tuning them out, the next hour Jack the Seagull will bring an entirely new squawk to grab your attention. And yet, amongst Gram and Pappy’s mismatched home, this crazy clock somehow made sense.

However, in the bland townhouse we moved to after Gram’s passing, Jack’s changing chimes are maddening. But at least this stupid seagull made me check the clock where I saw that, as usual, I was running late to meet Rose on the boardwalk as promised.

 

 

Author’s Note: Like a lot of people know, I’ve been working on a draft of a book since I was sixteen. I haven’t gotten very far, because everytime I sit down I end up erasing everything I wrote last time. I’ve been particularly stuck on how I wanted it to start, but I think I might have finally found my beginning 🙂

College 101: Falling in Love With Someone You Barely Know (#36)

It’s hard to learn when 5ft away sits the boy of my dreams. Well, at least the boy in my dreams. Two rows over, one row up–the perfect seat for casual observance in the general direction of the board. I know what you’re thinking, Sherlock Holmes must have learned his best detective skills from me.

By the second week of class I’ve learned that he has more than enough t-shirts to pair with his favorite American flag shorts, which are just short enough to show the bottom of some mysterious tattoo. Another week and I had fully utilized all the gifts a small, private education promised me and compiled a base profile based on rumors, yearbooks, and a particularly helpful link to a girl who used to be friends with his roommate’s ex-girlfriend.

The facts: named Richie, short for Richard after his father. He’s a Junior, but with a late summer birthday, so young enough to be a Sophomore. Former biology major, now studying Psychology, hence his presence in Dr. Diabolical’s Forensic Psych class. The rumors: 4 tattoos, including the aforementioned thigh tat. Friends with newly self-styled “Super Squad.” Clean dating record here at Cornfield University, presumed to be either gay or picky. Loves dogs, hates cats. Close to his mom, probably.

It is now a month into the semester and I have perfectly timed our entrance to coincide and a daily “oh excuse me.” I realize that this may sound pathetic, but this is an important step known in the spy world as “testing the waters.” Is he polite? Does he roll his eyes when he apologizes? Speaking of eyes, are his green or gray? Sometimes it’s hard to tell with the light from the window.

Our first test is two weeks from now and I have it on good intel that Richie-short-for-Richard will be going to the study group. This might be the perfect opportunity to activate Phase Two. I’ll keep you updated.

 

 

 

Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from a longer story I’ve been working on, just messing around trying to nail down my protagonist’s voice and what her deal is 🙂