Now, Let Me Tell You What Really Happened…

Guaita Rocca 3 (Guaita Rocca, First Tower, of San Marino) Image credit to Bing.com

I hope you enjoy my first short story. I wrote it from this picture and a writing prompt on one of my writing sites I follow. 🙂

At age 40, I was on my way to visit my first castle in Italy. All my life I have dreamed of being in an actual castle. In fact, I think in my previous life I lived during the medieval times. It feels like where I truly belong.

I did not want to come alone so I saved enough for my best bud, Simonne to tag along. She was not difficult to convince. She heard Italy and immediately said Italian men. I have to agree, seeing a few of them will be a bonus to the trip. We are single ladies.

My heart began beating so fast I thought I was going to pass out. The entrance to Guaita Rocca (First Tower) of San Marino was more spectacular in person than the travel brochure could possibly show.  Looking at Simonne, I do believe she thought the same. Wait, an Italian guide is walking towards us. A big grin spread across Simonne’s face.

“Hello there, my name is Celio and I will be your guide.”

“Hellooo.” Simonne said extending her hand to shake his. Any excuse to touch him I am sure.

I chuckled knowing what she is probably thinking. Love my outgoing, sex fanatic, and fun friend of the last twenty years. She brings the excitement to any adventure.

I think she caught Celio off guard. He was quiet but smiling. He gestured for us all to follow.

He led us through to a courtyard that had several stone pathways. One led up to the main tower while the others led to other parts. The grass was a gorgeous green. I wanted to take my shoes off and walk through it barefoot. Love the feel of plush grass under my toes. The flower beds were full of red, white, and pink colored flowers. Absolutely stunning. I could hang out here forever.

I looked to my right and caught a tall dark haired man staring at me. At least I think it’s me he is staring at. I slowly turned to look behind me. Nobody else there. I turned back to him. He was grinning. Great, he saw me do that. Embarrassing.

He began descending the stairs. He is heading this way I think. What do I say?

He reached the edge of the grass, reached down to untie his shoes, pulled them off, and stepped onto the grass. How could he have known that was what I was thinking about? I closed my eyes for a few seconds, then opened them. He was still there. I was frozen in my spot by the grass. The rest of the tour group was already up at the tower. Simonne was too busy flirting to realize I was not with the group.

It was only me and him standing in the courtyard.

“Will you join me?” He asked.

I was speechless, but my feet were moving me toward him. I bent down, took off my shoes and felt the lush grass under my toes.

Heaven.

I stopped a few inches away from him.

“Feels heavenly, yes.” He spoke again. He was close enough that I could feel his warm breathe on my face. His cologne was out of this world wonderful.

“Yes, but won’t we be in trouble for this?” I asked.

“No signs. No one here but us.”

“My name is Tawny.” I said.

“Hi, I am Alvise.” He reached for my hand and kissed it. I almost fainted.

I did not want this moment to end. A charming stranger kissing my hand just like my dreams.

“Alvise.” I repeated in a slow voice.

“Means famous warrior.”

“Oh, mine is light brown.” I touched my hair.

He chuckled.

I snapped out of my trance. What a dork I am. I can’t believe I said that. Where is Simonne when I need her? She is the smooth talking one.

“I see. Very beautiful, Tawny.” He touched my hair.

Bucket list. Castle, check. Hot Italian guy touched me, check. I can die now.

“I planted this grass. Best decision I believe. My father did not think so.” Alvise said walking around looking at his feet.

“You planted, must be the grounds keeper?”

“No. This is my castle.” He chuckled.

“But, how? This castle is very old and no one lives here. It is a tourist site.”

“True. It is my home. I do not lie.”

Ok, go with it. He is too handsome to argue with. If he wants to believe it who am I to say any different.

“Why do you allow people to tour it?”

“It is a beautiful home. I am proud of it. Plus, it brings me beautiful women like you to it.” He kissed my hand again.

His kiss is like a spell. I forget the craziness of this.

“Tawny. Tawny.”

I could hear someone faintly calling my name. All I want to do is stare at this man’s gorgeous face.

Someone was shaking me.

I looked at Simonne.

“Earth to Tawny.”

I heard her laughing hysterically.

I looked at my hand.

Bird poop! Oh gross!

I bent down to wipe it on the grass. I saw my shoes off. It was not a dream.

“Oh, girl. You look like you were posing like a statue. No wonder the bird dropped its poo on you!” She was rolling with laughter.

I glared at her.

“Alvise was telling me about his castle. This is him.” I said angrily pointing to where he was standing.

“You named the bird. Girl I need to get you out more.”

“No! He is right there. Look!”

Simonne shook her head and grabbed me.

“The bird is right there.”

I looked again, she was right. Just the bird was sitting there no Alvise. I surely did not dream all this.

I looked up where I saw him first.

Alvise was smiling. He waved to me.

“Right there!” I yelled and pointed.

“Have you been drinking without me? Shame on you.”

Why can she not see him?

“Ladies, get off the grass! It is not to be walked on.” Said someone yelling behind us.

“Sorry sir. My friend seems to have a bit of jet lag.” Simonne yanked me back onto the stone pathway. She ran across the grass to get my shoes. She shoved them at me.

“Let’s catch up to the rest. I am making headway with Celio. He has a friend too, another guide.”

I do not understand. I felt his kiss. I smelled his cologne. I did not imagine it.

The cologne. I can smell it.

“Stop. He is here. I smell him.” I turned around. No one there.

Simonne shook her head at me.

“I have got to find you a man.”

Off we went to catch up with the group. Every room that we toured, I could smell him but not see him.

“This is where Alvise spent most of his days.” Celio stated.

“Alvise? You said?” I asked Celio the guide.

“Why yes, he was the first owner of the castle.”

“But that would make him very old and dead.” I said.

The whole group busted out laughing.

“Yes, you are correct.” Celio laughed.

No way had this happened. I did not have my first encounter with a ghost.

We reached the last room on the tour. The guide dismissed everyone and started walking towards us.

“My friend will be here in a minute. He is finishing up his tour.” Celio said.

“Sounds great. I am starving.” Simonne said.

“Here he comes.”

I turned to look in the direction Celio was looking. It is him.

“Hello ladies. Good to meet you.”

“This is my friend, Alvise.” Celio said.

I did a double take. Celio saw my shocked expression.

“Yes he is one of the castle relations. Way down the line of relatives, so he is not dead.” Celio chuckled.

Alvise kissed my hand. He made a face.

Oh, good grief, he grabbed the one the bird pooped on!

“Sorry, long story.” I stammered.

“While we are eating, you must tell me, what really happened.” He winked.

No, he is not, is he?

They grow fast.

My Sweet Little Girl

They grow too fast.

It seems like such a long time ago that my daughter was a small toddler. She loved to watch all Disney movies, color, and learn whatever she could. I think I saw Mary Poppins more times than I cared to but I am glad it is those movies that interested her instead of something violent. I remember the many colored pictures and usually in the lines. I was always afraid to throw any away because I thought it was being mean to her. I thought I was saying you are not good enough. Yes, I do have them in a tote buried with hundreds of school papers. I will someday have them all in a scrapbook, someday.

She was my first born and so I learned many things from her. I found out if you allow her to sleep all the time with you, it’s a bit difficult to teach her to sleep in her own bed. She definitely was my night owl. She could almost out last me when it came to going to bed. Luckily, when she began kindergarten, she discovered bed time was a good thing. I assume the day wore her out enough that she began to like sleep which was a blessing for me.

When her baby brother was born, she was determined that he was not coming home. She didn’t want no sibling. When I did bring him home and she got to hold him. She looked up at me and said, “I guess we can keep him.” From that moment on, she became mother hen to him. She was a good little helper. As the years have gone by they tell me more stories of how little missy wasn’t always so nice to little brother. I am glad they can laugh about it and it makes me happy to see they love each other.

I recall a time when she had a friend over to play and they were giggling in her room on the top bunk of the bunk beds she shared with her brother. When I walked into the room they quickly covered something on the bed. I walked over and pulled the cover up and oh my goodness. They had taken several different soaps, lotions, and liquids and mixed them altogether on the bed. My first reaction was thank goodness they did not chemically react. It was a mess to clean up. She got a chewing for that one. No she did not become a scientist.

Oh, the years of girl drama. I could go on and on about those but I won’t. It definitely was an interesting time. As most teenagers go through periods of insecurity so did my beautiful daughter. I now know there were times she felt she couldn’t come to me for help and I so apologize for giving her that feeling. It was never my intention to be like that. I thank whoever and however she made it through those times. I remember being like that. I made it through with determination and writing in my journals. I see the same determination in her so I am glad she is a strong person even if she thinks she isn’t.

As she blossomed into a young lady with her whole life in front of her, she asked to join the Army. I think my mouth dropped two stories. It was very difficult to see her leave for boot camp two days after she graduated high school. I couldn’t have been more proud that she knew what she wanted to do. She was born to be a leader. It was in her from the start. She just didn’t always know or get the chance to prove it to herself or to others. She has been serving the United States Army Reserves ever since.

Life didn’t completely go as planned. She made mistakes and family tensions have been there. The one thing I had hoped she would never have to experience, she did. She lost her baby boy to a miscarriage. I can write words but when it comes to saying them, I simply suck at it. I didn’t say what I felt and it gave her more insecurity from me. It created a whole big mess for the good part of a year while she was deployed serving her country. When she came back I let go of all bad feelings and our relationship has blossomed. It’s like having my little girl back again only she has become the most beautiful, determined, and strong young woman any mother would love to have.

She has achieved her college degree, been promoted in the Army Reserves, and balances two jobs. I couldn’t be more proud. She is a survivor. She has proven that no matter what obstacles get in the way she will conquer them. It is the best feeling in the world to know your child can take care of themselves. I look forward to all the ups and downs we will travel together as a family.

Loved you then, love you now, love you forever, Mom.13 - 1

Exercise is a Funny Thing!

Fitness_tnb(clip art from Bing.com) (A short story by Julia Ray)

I finally got up my nerve to go to the YMCA. I think it has mostly been a battle with admitting I need it. Now, I wish I had done it a lot earlier, I feel so good. I am not so worried about the pounds coming off as I am about shaping up and feeling good about myself. Of course, if the pounds drop a whole bunch I won’t be sad about that.

The first day was a snowy and blistery cold day, which in itself made me want to stay home and snuggle in my blanket.  I walk in through the double set of glass doors that seemed to challenge me to turn around and go back home. I can do this, I know I can. I will see this through. It can only be good results. I scanned the front room for someone to tell me what to do.

“May I help you?” the young lady asked me.

“Yes, I paid for a membership and I am not sure where to begin.” I replied.

“Alright, first you need to sign the book and then follow me. “ The young lady answered.   After I signed the book, she led me to the back of the building where the lady’s locker room was.

“You may use these if you like. We only require that you take your padlock off by the time you leave. I would suggest no valuables just in case.” The young lady turned around to leave me to begin my new me program. I guess I had hoped she would lead me by the hand, tell me I need to go here, and how many of this to do. How silly of me, I am a grown woman, I can figure this out. I know where the rooms are. I have exercised before, back in the dinosaur years.

I placed my things in the locker and turned to walk out. It is a rather strange layout, you have to walk right past the two showers to get to the door. I don’t think I will be using those. I don’t want my fat butt coming out of those and the doors open up. Scare everyone for life.

I turned the corner and walked by the weight room. I saw a big, red X flashing across the window saying, no you are not ready for that. I don’t think I can even remember how to use those machines. I wouldn’t want to have my flab of a belly hanging out for all the world to see. I do believe that will be down the line after my confidence level goes to say ten and perhaps twenty years! I went around another corner and came to the gym. Oh good, no one in it. I walk across to the other side and go through the door for the exercise room.  Oh dear, there’s people. Oh dear, I need to turn around and run as fast as my chubby little legs will go.

I somehow keep walking and walk straight to this monstrous treadmill with all these gadgets. I make myself look like I know what I am doing. We do have one at home just not as fancy. I can do this. I step on, only my foot wasn’t quite on the side like it is meant to be. I found that out when I clicked the start button and did a quick arm flying dance. I recover like I meant to do that.  Oh, please nobody be looking and smirking at me. I could feel my face turn several shades of red. Phew, everyone is going about their own business like pros. They are probably laughing in their heads saying “newbie”.

As I am walking I look around the room and see several different machines. Oh, yes, a cycle, a hip thingy, a stair stepper, and I have no idea what that thing over there is. I will avoid that at all costs. It looks complicated and a red flag saying, you think you did a dance on the treadmill, you will be become an acrobat on that. Not only no, heck no.

I have the treadmill set for half an hour, yes, I am that out of shape. I keep switching from the calories burned to the time left. The bright reading says you have burned fifty calories.   What!

I tap on it, thinking that it will make a difference. No difference. Technology, what does it know. I keep walking.   Another ten minutes and I can feel my legs begin to burn. Oh, that is a good burn.  Again another ten minutes. Am I done yet? Sweat is beginning to drip. I begin to breathe heavy. I feel like time is dragging by. I want to be done. Sweat is really rolling down my face. I look at the time, two whole long minutes left.  Finally, I see it scroll, you are finished. Yay! And then pops up, cool down mode. What!

Did I return the next day? Yes and the day after and the day after. Did I try any other machine? I did try the hip machine. I looked pretty stupid having my knees on the pad part the wrong way and realized it wasn’t doing any good. I scan the instructions and find out turn them around. Oh, that is a good burn. Have I tried any other machines?

No, I think I will master these two first. Baby steps.  Needless to say, don’t step on the scale, wait a few weeks. It was depressing, until I told myself you are adding muscle. Now, I walk in like I own the place. I have even mastered the hip thingy. Awesome feeling.