Thursday, July 14, 2011

Crème brûlée

Note: this is a little story I wrote for class but I'm having some difficulty with this program retaining the format, indentions, alignment etc. Enjoy.

I am trying to act cool but the owner of the firm came too. It’s only been a few weeks since I started my position as Receptionist. Rachel, my boss, decided on Emeril Agassi’s new restaurant, in Orlando, for the Christmas luncheon.

“Any minute now,” she says pushing her sleek black sunglasses back over her long, dark hair.

A female hostess in a black dress shirt, her blonde hair pulled back into a tight bun, holds the door for us.

“For what” I say.
“He’ll find something to complain about,” she says.
Eric, the paralegal, shakes his head lightly back and forth, “He’s never satisfied.”
“At least we will get a nice meal,” I say nodding appreciatively to the hostess as we enter the restaurant.
“It’d be nicer if they weren’t here,” says Tina the older, blonde secretary, “they didn’t even wait for us they just left us in the parking lot,” she points to the owner, Ted and his perverted older brother, Ron who are already seated.

We follow the hostess to our table. The ceilings are high and the windows wall to wall. The crisp air and jutting rays of sun warm and cool my face as I walk. The light dances upon the crystal wine glasses, silver utensils, and china place settings. Blonde wooden chairs draw attention to themselves contrasting the white linen table cloths. With the coarse rock walls and cool air, I feel as though I’m on a city street somewhere in ancient Israel.

As we approach Ted waits, an impatient fist pushed up under his protruding chin. The sleek wooden floors make me nervous. My red pumps are new, a Christmas present to myself. Carefully, I make my way to the table fearing a humiliating fall. A young male server wearing a white dress shirt and black tie, his rich, brown hair slicked back, holds a chair out for me.
“Thank you,” I say smoothing my black shirt dress under my bare legs as I sit.
“Would you care for a black one,” the handsome waiter inquires.

My eyes dart about searching for his meaning. He raises his shaven chin motioning to another server who is handing a black napkin to Tina. Poising myself, “yes, please.”

He leans very close placing it upon my lap. His cologne, Armani’s Acqua Di Gio, encircles me tickling my nose. I struggle hard not to close my eyes while breathing it in. Through the meal I enjoy my plate of fish, veggies. When dessert arrives, the owner is still talking; he has been talking through the entire meal. The last I can remember he had started talking about his plans to visit his parents for Christmas although I can’t remember where he said they live.

It’s time for dessert, I had ordered Crème Brûlée. The server places a triangular dish in front of me. In the center sits a half hexagon beige mound, its smooth creamy bottom contrasts against the sleek tawny top. Aside it lay a medley of berries blue, black, and rasp. I push my spoon down hard into it but it slides through with ease. My spoon clanks onto the plate underneath it. A convex bite of the ivory custard slips past my lips, with little chewing, the bite smoothes over my tongue, massaging my taste buds. I smell rich confection. The luscious caramel topping crunches softly between my teeth. I give the fruit a try. I expect the deep red raspberries, their usual matte appearance replaced by an enticing gloss, to be tart next to the richness of the Brûlée. They are not. The raspberry seeds pop between my teeth as the juice trickles into my cheeks. I ease a spoonful of blueberries into my mouth. The dark, violet berries burst as their soft innards saturate my mouth. A rich red strawberry sauce lay drizzled in a zig zag over the dish. I swipe a dollop of it on my finger and place it in the center of my tongue. The substance melts away. The tartness tingles my jaw. I take a bite containing all the elements; it is like fireworks in my mouth, an explosion of sweet pastiche.
My mind has strayed far from the conversation but I hear enough to be confused. The lawyer takes a bite of his ominous pumpkin cheesecake then with contorted face pushes it from him, “so, it’s not a big cabin but it has all that you need, a place to eat, a place to sleep. It’s tight quarters but it’s enough to keep us somewhat comfortable for a day or however long it takes us to get to Mom’s.”

What is he talking about? To my shame I ask, “are you going by boat?” A shockwave hit the table. Each employee looks up in order as if participating in a strange wave.

The lawyer, mouth gaping, scans my expression with those icy blue eyes “are you kidding?”

Am I? Would it make it better if I were?

My boss, who had just hired me vouching, “she’ll be worth every penny,” places a shaking hand aside her temple. She drops it, staring right into me with those striking black eyes, “a boat from here to Virginia?”
Humiliation assaults me pressing down hard on my chest. My stomach thrashes within me. Mashing my bottom lip I accept the consequences, “Oh, of course not.”
Older brother, Ron snickers behind a chubby hand, a faux Rolex watch holds on to his flabby wrist for dear life, “wow, Rachel you know how to pick ‘em.”

Bumping a reassuring knee into mine Eric says, “Guys, you’ll have to excuse her she’s like a screensaver.” The attention shifts to him. I tighten as embarrassment licks my earlobes and heat strikes my cheeks. “Yeah well, if you tell a boring story she tunes out and goes into screensaver mode, looks like her dessert was more interesting than your lengthy train story.”

I join Rachel and Tina in nervous laughter. Ted shifts in his seat resting his glaring eyes upon Eric. Eric sets his jaw returning the evil gawk with a wry smile. The bovine brother is finally silent. It is apparent that Eric will pay for this later.

I learn two very important lessons, we here at the Dunn Law Firm take care of each other and my nickname will forever be, Screensaver

Friday, July 1, 2011



It’s been five years since I visited last. That’s because my husband left and I thought it would be weird. A few months ago, at the request of his grandmother, my ex-husband asked that I accompany him to her home in Puerto Rico and here I am. I drop my suitcase on the floor. My room is still the same; it used to be our room. In front of me I see it; I had forgotten it was there, a large picture of us at our wedding. Clasping my hands over my face, I weep. The door hinges squeak, and behind me, someone lingers.

Fragile arms wrap around me and, in Spanish, an old woman whispers, “don’t cry.” Kissing my shoulder, because that’s all she can reach, she says “I love you, precious one.” This old woman, my ex-husband’s grandmother, still pleads for my happiness as she always has. Tear drops from her chin fall onto my arm.

At the airport, it had been a tearful reunion. She stood with open arms. Her left arm shook under the weight of her cane.
“Mama”, her name fell from my lips. I squeezed her gently.
She let out a tiny sob, my hair swayed under the force of her breath, her voice cracked, “You are home.”
“I missed you,” although I said it in English, somehow she understood.
We walked arm in arm as my ex-husband trailed behind listening to his mother, Letty, jabber on, of course, she had come too. She arrived a week before us so that she wouldn’t miss the visit.
My ex-mother-in-law grabbed Mama’s arm, “don’t worry Sherry, I got her.” My name is not Sherry, it never has been. How hard is it to say Cherish?
I clung to Mama, “I’ve got her.” There was a slight decline at the curb.
“Oh, be more careful here,” Letty tightened her grip.
“We’re fine.”
Mama chuckled and in broken English repeated, “we fine,” she slapped her knee and grabbed my hand. She is always proud of herself for any English she can muster.
My ex said, “Mom, why don’t you help me with the bags.”
She huffed and picked up a bag while still holding on to Mama. Her efforts had almost pulled us over.

Now, here she comes again.
“Ah, there you are,” her pudgy arms pull us in for a strange embrace. Her hot breath is on my ear. I quickly wipe away the pool of tears under my chin.
“Why are you,” her voice catches. She never misses an opportunity to cry. “I love you, you are still my daughter,” she lies.
I draw a quick breath and part my lips to speak.
Dishonest tears stream down her ample pink cheeks, “I wish you hadn’t gotten divorced from my son,” her neck is bare where she used to wear the locket I gave her. I clutch at my stomach and straighten my shoulders.
Dropping her arms, Mama’s voice is sharp, “Letty, come.” Another dramatic sob and she’s out the door. Mama shakes her head then blows me a kiss and closes the door. I am alone again.

Later that night, I am okay for the moment.
Mama is making coffee, “Quieres café?” Of course I want her coffee, there is nothing like it in the world.
“Si, gracias,” she sets a cup down for me and watches as I enjoy the first sip. My eyes close as the warm liquid slides over my tongue, “gracias, Mama.” It is quiet. She sets another steamy cup on the placemat opposite me. Kissing me on the forehead she disappears into the hallway. Soon after my ex-husband emerges from the hall and takes the vacant seat. In this small kitchen, we are in close proximity.
“Like your coffee?”
My head bobs, “yeah it’s always good.”
The tiny vein aside his nose pulsates. Oh God, what now?
“This is hard for you.”
I shift my weight, another sip.
“I’m sorry. I regret what I’ve done; it’s never what I wanted for us.”
My eyes and nose begin to tingle. The coqui, a native frog to the island, chirp outside.
“I just want to make sure you are okay and I told my mom to leave you alone this weekend.”
“You didn’t have to,” I say.
He scratches his side, his nervous tick, “Talk to me.”
His eyes are still beautiful. I gently place the cup down but support it with both hands, “I feel so…”
“Hey, look at this,” his mother’s shrill voice tears through the moment like a knife, aborting our tiny conversation. Rage dances beneath my skin.
She continues, “Baby, this was the outfit you wore when you were first born.”
Putting a hand in the air, “Mom, we were…”
She hugs him, “You are still my little baby. And look at the little booties that went with it, how precious they are.”
I stand and push the chair in.
“Cherish,” is all he gets out before she begins again.
I take my coffee outside; my ex-husband follows me with his eyes but remains with his mother as she prattles on. On the balcony, the night air is cool, the coffee warms my stomach, and the coqui keep me company. Only three more days.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Crash

Last night I was on my way to meet some friends. Traffic on the ever frustrating I-4 was bad but not too bad. I looked down for a moment, can't remember why, and when I returned my attention to the road ahead of me there was no longer a road but the butt end of a Toyota Camry. It was way to close and despite all my quick thinking and rapid response, I slammed into the back of them so hard that my airbags deployed. This was very scary. I didn't even know what happened. Smoke filled the car and I thought I was on fire. I got out to see if the people in the other car were okay. They were but refused to respond to me. The shock of it caused my stomach to turn into knots and I felt like...uh...there is no nice word for it so I'll just plainly say, I felt like vomitting, hurling, ralphing, spewing chunks, etc. Thankfully, I did not. I was dazed. A handsome business man pulled up behind to see if he could help. He could not, so he moved on.

We tried to pull over, the other car and I, but traffic was really bad. Because most people are in their own world and concerned about their own selfish concerns, nobody would let us over. Pulling onto the side of the road was almost as scary as the crash. The first responder on the scene was the fire department. Now, you have to understand that I was already feeling like an idiot. I was shocked at how shook up I was over something so common and felt really dumb for rear-ending somebody. But to make matters worse, out of the fire truck come 3 of the most beautiful men I've ever seen. I thought, Oh great! They were tall, dark, and mostly handsome. One of the trio of 6'4" men asked me for my name. He wrote it down and then with a wink and a smile asked how I'd gotten such a beautiful name. I was thinking, are you flirting with me? Seriously? But in truth, I was also flattered. I had not the will or desire to return his kindness and let out a weak smile. They quickly left and I was alone with the snippy officer and the mute driver of the car I hit. I call him mute because he refused to speak. Much later, he approached and said that the damage didn't look too bad.

I called the insurance company and they said they were sending the tow truck to get me. I spent the rest of the night being harrassed by the officer who couldn't, "stay here all night". And was informed that I, "have to get this car out of here". I was thinking, what do you want me to do? Heft it with my brute strength? Then a smaller voice said to respect the authority set over me and I sucked it up and dealt kindly with the police man. I'm sure he is embittered, not with me, but with the nature of his job in general.

Anyway, I got home many hours later, after my poor car had been towed away. I assessed that I would have to pay $164.00 ticket, $500.00 deductible, rent a car, and possibly have my insurance go up. This left me so upset that I wasn't sure what to do. So I bought a black and white cookie. It did not help. I was trying to lighten the mood for my mother who was concerned so, I joked around about the trio of hot firemen. Then she asked where the accident happened. After a phone call to my Aunt Debbie, who is a fire dispatcher, she says, "Oh those were Debbie's guys. Tomorrow, she's going to see who it was that was dispatched and see if there is anybody we need to introduce you to." So amusing. Wouldn't that be hilarious if I actually got a date out of this?

What I find to be good about this situation was, the first thing I did was pray. I said, "God, help me". Then, at some point, I told God that I trusted him to make something good out of these lemons. This morning I saw that my tax return money was sitting in the bank, ready for me to pay all the costs that I incurred. Isn't that amazing?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Poem of the Month "Jabberwocky"


Lewis Carroll(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought --So rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy!O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.

My opinion:
I love this poem. To me, it is complete fantasy. The description creates, in my mind, a Burtonesque landscape. I imagine a dark, overgrown, woody forest without much foliage. The sky is overcast. Cold drops of melted ice drip from the branches. The young man has tried to capture this beast again and again. He has it down to a science now. He knows that pursuing the Jabberwock is futile. For, as soon as the Jubjub bird sees him, he will alert the Jabberwock and the the surprise attack will fail yet again. So he changes his strategy and waits beneath the Tumtum tree. The Jabberwock comes trampling through the woods, "whiffling" as he goes. It is a battle cry, meant to intimidate his prey. Instead, it works against the Jabberwock, and prepares the young man for the beast's attack. He is able to surprise the Jabberwock and slay him with ease. The young man honored his father by heeding his warnings; it saved his life. Such an intriguing piece.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"The Shack" by WM. Paul Young

This book was a strange journey. I am not sure how I feel, as a whole, about it so I will just report my observations and conflicting emotions. I initially hated the book, then found it intriguing. Some parts seemed comforting while others were disturbing. At times, the dialogue is juvenile. In real life, I've never heard one grown man use words like, "silly" or "pea brained" when speaking to another grown man. Also, the author tried too hard to make the trinity appear relatable to humans; it sounded insincere. The conversations again and again ended up in laughter but nothing was funny. It did, however, create some beautiful images, in my mind, of life. It likens our lives to a colorful garden that has yet to be finished. The garden is in chaos but is beautiful still. I love that. It also spurs one on to forgiveness; that is what spoke to me the most. I think it sounds confusing and false because it attempts to explain or depict things that are inexplicable. It goes into much conversation and detail about the trinity, God's love, and the code by which He lives. Any explanation of these things cannot fit into our minds. It is something that God must reveal to us in pieces, and even then it is hard to understand. There has been controversy about this book. Some have suggested that it is spiritually misleading. I was warned not to read it because it "sent one woman to an insane asylum." While I don't presume to know the details of this woman's life, I find a suggestion like this, in and of itself, insane. Overall, it was one man's incredible journey, and like every work of fiction, has its strengths and weaknesses. The things you take away are priceless. They are almost worth the strange journey to obtain them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Books I've Read, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson

I see why this story, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a classic. Yes, it is creepy but not too creepy. It is an amazing story, weaved in such a way that leaves you hanging on to every word. Many people know this story, or watered down derivatives of it, but many have never actually read it. I recommend it. Every day there is a war inside each of us. Do I simply deal with the woman, on the phone, who almost hit me or scream some obscenities? Do I help that person who looks in need or continue on my busy way? Do I lie or tell the truth that might get me into trouble? This story simply puts those two sides of every person into actual characters that answer to the names, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is worth the few hours it'll take to read.

Books I've Read, "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom

This book, what can I say, it...left in me a deep desire to raise my kid; to really raise him. This book is about a middle-aged man who tries to committ suicide but in so doing receives a gift, one more day with his late mother. It is a story that makes you wish you were back in your parent's kitchen, after a long day of playing in the snow, eating a grilled cheese sandwhich repetitively dipped in tomatoe soup. It charges me to make my son's memories of life valuable. I am a single mother as one of the main characters, Posie Bennetto, finds herself to be. Much like me, she never intended to raise her kids alone but alone she is. She loves her kids. It spurs me on to simply, make memories.