Wishing you a blessed Friday from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailgaymermartin.com
I'm at a conference in Indianapolis and all of my writing blogs are on my office computer so I decided to do something different for you this month. Though I'm a novelist, I have sold a number of short stories years ago when I first began to write so today, I want to share one of these stories with you. I think we can learn from short stories too. The technique needed in a short story to set up characters and provide a conflict, but in a short time period. Short stories are usually set in a day or even an hour, but the techniques are still there. I hope you enjoy this story.
Smiling Eyes – A Short story
by Gail Gaymer Martin
Erin yanked a file folder from the bin and flipped it open. She turned to her computer, her fingers flying over the keyboard, until the telephone’s ring jolted her to a halt.
She grabbed the receiver, tired of the continual interruptions and snapped. "Erin Casey." She heard a pause.
"Erin, It’s Roger. Can we talk?"
He sounded like Joan Rivers. "We’re talked out, Roger. It’s pointless. Let it die."
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean. I can’t handle this relationship anymore. It’s not worth it."
"We can’t throw everything away."
The thought washed her with relief. "I think we can."
"But we have two years invested."
That was Roger. Everything was valued on investments of time and money, no emotional considerations. "Forget it, Roger."
"Please. I know you’re busy. How about a quick lunch? Let’s meet in the park. It’s a beautiful day, and we can get some fresh air and talk. Neutral territory. What do you say?"
" I’m too busy."
"Come on. An hour? Or less?"
Get it over with. "I’ll meet you by the fountain. Twelve-thirty."
"Great. Can you pick up a sandwich for us at the deli next to your building? I’ll pick up drinks."
"Fine, Roger." Typical. Could she pick up the sandwiches? She dropped the receiver onto the cradle. She knew it was pointless. They argued constantly it seemed. He forgot plans, made unkept promises, and offered one foolish excuse after another. She shook her head and returned to her work.
As she left the building shortly after noon, she stopped at the sandwich shop and purchased two pita sandwiches. She crossed the avenue and hurried toward the city park. At the fountain, she found an empty bench and waited. People hurried by from all directions — joggers, couples hand-in-hand, women with children, and people, like her, waiting for some unknown reason. She glanced in all directions. No Roger.
"That’s it," she said aloud as she jolted from the bench. A pleasant chuckle came from behind her. She swung around and looked into a pair of beautiful sapphire eyes, so striking the color seemed artificial. His gaze held her riveted. Before she could stop herself, she gasped. "Your eyes are beautiful. Are they real?" His radiant smile caused her empty stomach to somersault
"They were the last time I used them."
She giggled nervously. "That sounded stupid. I meant do you wear colored contacts? Your eyes are such an unusual color."
"Same as my mom’s. I could ask the same about your gorgeous red hair. Real or from a bottle? But the answer’s obvious. The color fits your freckles."
She grinned. "Both are mine, the color and the freckles." Her nose wrinkled, and he laughed the same warm laugh.
He set his attache case on the bench, looking as if he’d like to sit but didn’t want to be presumptuous. "Are you leaving?"
A hedging grin curved her mouth, as she displayed her bag. "I was supposed to meet someone for lunch, but as you see I’m alone. I was giving up."
"Maybe she got tied up at work."
"He — and he always does this. I knew better. I also didn’t want to hear for the hundredth time why we should stay together."
"Ah! Sounds like my story."
"Yep. I’m healed, but it took awhile. Forget it and eat your lunch. Why go hungry for a cad?"
She shrugged and sat down. "I suppose your right, except he was supposed to bring me something to drink."
"No problem. Do you like milk? Two came out of the vending machine." He pulled a pint milk carton from each pocket.
He sat beside her.
"Now that’s service. Thanks " She took the milk from his hand and set it on the bench, opening the paper bag. "Wow! I can smell tuna salad. Roger hates tuna. I meant to order chicken pitas. Oh well, it may have been Freudian. Anyway, I love tuna salad. How about you?"
"Tuna salads my favorite."
"You don’t have a lunch. Eat this. I can’t eat two." She handed the sandwich to him.
"I planned to skip lunch today. But why not? Thanks." He took the sandwich and, unwrapping the paper, he took a bite. "By the way, my name’s Neal."
"Nice to meet you. I’m Erin."
"Erin. Appropriate. Matches your red hair and freckles." He took another bite of the tuna pita. "Where did you buy this sandwich? It’s great."
"At the sandwich shop next to my office building. They are good, aren’t they?"
He nodded, using the paper napkin to wipe his mouth.
She grinned. "Roger and I don’t agree on much of anything — not only the tuna salad. I’ve tried to split for so long, but I’m one of those people whose bed is covered with a stuffed animal collection from high school. I can’t bare to get rid of anything, even old boyfriends." She took a bite of the pita.
"Look at this?" He raised a battered attache case from the bench. "My mother bought me this when I graduated from high school. Embarrassing huh?"
"I see what you mean. It’s funny how relationships seem to become a habit."
He took a swig of the milk and swallowed, before he spoke. "Jennifer and I stayed together at least a year too long. I’m grateful we canceled the wedding before we ended up in divorce court. It wouldn’t have worked, even with the best intentions."
She nodded. "I know. We’d end up the same. We have different views on everything. Roger hates the books I read, and we can’t find a movie we both want to see. So what’s the point?" She drank the milk from the pour spout. "He says my movies are sappy and sentimental. I say his are vicious and disgusting." She wiped her fingers on the paper napkin.
"I’ve learned to enjoy movies alone. I love the ‘classics’ — you know, Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Spencer Tracy, and Katherine Hepburn. I’m even known to get a tear in my eye, although I don’t often admit it."
She focused on his brilliant blue eyes. "Tears. I think it’s great when men cry. And I adore those old films."
"Jennifer hated old movies. Did you notice the Strand Art Theater is having a Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart series?"
"This might sound forward, but would you like to go to the Strand this weekend?"
She froze, her mind racing. He was a great looking guy and nice, but she didn’t know him. She could almost read the headlines: ‘Young Woman Found Murdered in Back Row of Strand Art Theater.’ "
He smiled and reached into his pocket. "I realize you don’t know me, but here’s my business card. You can call me at work. My secretary will vouch for me, so you know I’m not an axe murder."
Her embarrassed titter was followed by a flush of red. How did you know that’s what I was thinking?"
"The thought crossed my mind. You could be a female serial killer." His exquisite blue eyes sparkled.
"Me? This innocent smile — and these little freckles?" She glanced at his business card with a grin. "Why saints and begorra! You’re last name is O’Connor." She used her best imitation Irish brogue. "From the fair green isle no less, land of shamrocks and leprechauns. Me own homeland. I’m pleased to meet ya. My name is Erin Casey. Ach, I should’ve recognized your blarney." She extended her hand, and he wrapped his larger hand around hers.
"It’s a pleasure Erin Casey. I should have recognized those smiling eyes."
"Aye and yours too."
Having finished their lunch, they rose from the park bench, gathering up the waxed paper and milk cartons, and like unwanted memories, they tossed them in the trash container as they passed.
"Aye, laddie, me old friend Roger did a fine thing."
"Nae, and what might that be, Lass?"
"He didn’t show up."
©1997 Gail Gaymer Martin – Do not use without permission from the author. Please share this link on your social media so others can read the story.
Bio: Gail is the author of 52 novels published or contracted. Her 2nd published novel Dreaming of Castles, a romantic comedy, is available as a eBook. Hit the link: Http://bit.ly/10VjyVZ and you can read the back cover blurb and if you hit the link, you can also read more of Chapter 1.