Shower of Blessings

Prompt:  SHOWER

Bedelia had only minutes to prepare for Finn’s visit; with brownies baking, she hurriedly changed from her chocolate-spattered T-shirt, into a fuschia-colored one featuring Hawaiian hibiscus.

Smirking defiantly at the mirror, she abandoned her old-lady’s lacquered “helmet-head do”, and pinned the hair on either side of her temples up, letting it fall softly around her cheeks; the gray strands were invading the brown slowly, in a pleasing pattern, so that she appeared to have light silver wings (wisdom?) lifting her hazelnut eyes.

A dab of palest pink lipstick completed her brave efforts, and she rushed to set the table for a casual lunch…just as thunder grumbled and a sudden hard shower began; “Oh, I hope that’s not a harbinger,” she whispered.

Finn, unprepared for rain, arrived mere drops shy of drenched, holding a bag from a Greek deli and smiling in his calm, undemanding (handsome) way; Bedelia blushed shyly, quickly taking his damp jacket.

“I should have inquired earlier—how do you feel about Gyros?” he asked apologetically, and was then rewarded as her face brightened with unexpected enthusiasm.

“We have something in common…it’s my favorite sandwich, and I’ve not had one in years”; she  gestured toward the dining table where, her nervousness having abated, they both ate eagerly, unselfconsciously—the juicy Tzatziki sauce (cucumber & yogurt) dripping from the succulent meat, down their chins and through their fingers—the pile of paper napkins mostly ignored…as well as the rain, now playing gleefully against the window.

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Solitary Station

Combination of 3 Prompts:  Station, Useful, Random

Bedelia had always been prone to musing, mulling…pondering random thoughts that settled in her mind like dust motes landing on bookshelves, lamps, curios.

At this stage and comfortable, solitary station in life she found it more useful than ever to ruminate, particularly regarding the abrupt turn of events which had careened into her world with Father James’ insistent good intentions—the portly priest, with his unsinkable buoyant personality, seemed a nuisance at first…but God has a history of choosing unexpected vessels for His service.

As a rainstorm began, Finn arrived with sandwiches—and after they’d mopped tasty Greek Gyro sauce from their chins, they talked till the afternoon sun shot mini-rainbows through drops lingering on window panes.

Seated primly amidst her modest decor, Bedelia began by blurting:  “I’m not a Catholic, you know, I don’t attend services at your brother’s church”; and when Finn nodded, smiling affably, she continued in a slightly fretful yet polite tone, “why he maneuvered our introduction is puzzling…although it’s been quite pleasant, please don’t take offense”.

He smiled again, glanced at his shoes to conceal brief abashment before saying, “I understand it might appear ‘suspect’, Bedelia…pushy priest, meet ‘n greet; see, I’ve been a widower for some years, and James thought it was time I stopped playing checkers with myself, and met someone who might enjoy similar interests—not necessarily checkers—but there’s nothing nefarious afoot…James observed a reflective quality in you.”

Finn had made her laugh (‘checkers’), no minor feat—but she apologized quickly, fearing she’d conveyed callousness regarding his widowed status; then she told him, “you have a way of putting me at ease…I’m more accustomed to men whose manner seems deliberately frightening…I’ve a strange sense we might talk about nearly anything”; Finn’s soft response: “I think you may be right”.

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Divine Hunch

Prompt: HUNCH

Amid tangled ball of variegated yarn that was her thoughts, Bedelia felt both a smidgen of terror and exhilarated…akin to standing at cliff edge admiring exquisite scenery, while assured one misstep would be fatal.

She’d rehearsed optional lines of script from alternate plots, before deep-breathing a prayer and dialing the number Finn included on the card he’d sent; she was still vacillating between putting the kibosh on further interaction between herself and Finn, or “taking courage”—as someone answered the phone.

When a woman stated, “Canter & Clay Law Office”, Bedelia began stammering an apology—but it wasn’t a mistake; Finn Canter was a family law attorney, semi-retired.

He was glad to take her call, having finished his day’s work, and he asked if she were free for a late lunch—which threw her into an immediate tizzy, her pulse jumping so fast that colored sparks flew before her eyes.

Finn could hear the nervous fidgeting in her voice, and felt rueful; but she collected herself, told him she had a pan of brownies in the oven, and…if he wished to bring his lunch to her house, she’d supply dessert (he was quite agreeable).

She replaced the receiver, and her shaky hands touched her suddenly hot cheeks…the conversation was nothing like she’d practiced alone, but she had a hunch it was divinely directed; hastily setting out ingredients to bake her ‘halflie’, she reminded herself: “trust God, Bedelia…it’s one man and brownies, not the approaching Philistine army”.

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Fabric of Life

Prompt: Fabric

Bedelia woke from a horrible, if possibly nonsensical nightmare in which—having agreed to see Finn Canter again—she’d opened her closet to discover ALL of her wardrobe was devoured by moths.

Trembling, she rushed from bed to investigate, trying to slow her breathing and pulse as she raked her hand through the hangers draped with old but serviceable garments…relieved, she saw not one lonely moth fluttering, nor any readily apparent damage.

A bit wobbly yet, she went to her kitchen, took her morning meds with Diet Coke, and sat down at the dining table…where she noticed the cotton place mat was worn, threads coming loose, the fabric more faded than yesterday.

‘Yesterday’, she pondered, tears filling her eyes…Yesterday was certainly faded and worn, a feast for ravenous moths.

The ‘still small voice’ of God was attempting to get her attention:  it wasn’t too late to have the “abundant life”, but she needed to seriously consider what that meant to her—what she wanted before the hourglass sands ran out; the choice was hers, His Light was available.

She reached for her Bible, opened it to Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’”(New Living Translation)

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Zany??

Prompt: ZANY

Bedelia hoped Father James couldn’t hear through the phone that she was shaking her head, mutely astonished as she listened to him try to sell her on his brother Finn’s attributes; surely the priest had parish duties to attend to…like supervising the faithful who glued covers back on worn prayer books, perhaps.

Rolling her eyes after the conversation ended, she spoke aloud to herself: “‘Zany’??…even if I was in the market for a man, at my age, ‘zany’ isn’t on the list of things I’d be looking for, good grief!!”

Addressing the refrigerator, she asked, “why on earth is he pushing to pair his allegedly ‘zany’ brother up with me?”—(Finn Canter deserved someone at least mildly curious about him, someone not so unspectacular); she wiped the counter tops more vigorously than needed—irritation being superior to scouring cleanser, she’d learned young—and wondered if Finn was tolerating a sales pitch about her.

Hearing the mail carrier outside her door, she waited a moment, then stepped out to collect whatever useless circulars had arrived…among them was an envelope with a popular greeting card emblem.

She burst out laughing when she opened it—the card depicted God with His fingers in His ears, as a priest excitedly prattled on and on.

At the bottom Finn had written: “my brother is quite the social zealot—you were a good sport to accept his invitation last week, I enjoyed meeting you…maybe you’d like to have lunch sometime…no ‘interference’, or pressure?”

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

After Meet ‘n Greet

Prompt:  Line

Bedelia wasn’t tremendously surprised when Father James phoned to ask how she’d enjoyed the Meet ‘n Greet—somewhat guarded, she described it as “nice”, and thanked him politely for inviting her.

But her ribs began tightening against her lungs when he admitted it was his brother, particularly, whom he’d wanted her to meet…and then asked, as though he were a lonely hearts facilitator, what she’d thought of Finn.

Choosing her words carefully, she acknowledged that he seemed a pleasant gentleman, courtly even…(which turned out to be not cautious wording at all).

Father James jumped on her assessment with barely concealed glee, telling her Finn was a widower of many years…alone, like herself…and that he’d expressed interest in seeing her again.

Oh, Lord, Bedelia thought, feeling like she’d stepped into a bucket of ice water—she wasn’t a “maybe” sort of person, had always found adherence to clear “yea” or “nays” safer; her silence lengthened while she scrambled for a response which was less than a hardmarked boundary line that shouted, “Hazards Ahead, No Crossing!”

And thus, Divine intervention favored her:  Father James abruptly ended the conversation, having just then received a note regarding a parish emergency…he promised to get back to her soon.

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Meet ‘n Greet

Prompt:  THUMB

It wasn’t the first thing Bedelia noticed about the man Father James introduced as his brother, but it stuck in her mind…perhaps because it was less disconcerting to ponder than the fact she was meeting a man in a social setting for the first time in eons.

As he extended his hand to shake hers, she hesitated, seeing Finn Canter’s right thumb was well-bandaged and no doubt tender (she recalled the priest had remarked on her “firm grip”).

But he took her hand in his…holding it for what seemed ages as his faded-denim eyes smiled around the words, “it’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Cornell”.

Father James hadn’t over-sold the Meet & Greet group, everyone was friendly toward her without being pushy…but she’d been solitary so long that attempting small talk was as constricting as her ‘going-out’ shoes, unworn for years.

And then Finn rescued her: offering a ‘plastic crystal’ cup, he said, “I may be mistaken, but you look like a lady who prefers punch, to coffee”—(surely her face had gone crimson as she ducked her head and thanked him).

She had felt frumpy as a feed sack, entirely out of place when she’d entered the parish hall—more so, standing next to Finn, who resembled an actor she’d seen in a recent movie; now, relaxing in her recliner (her stomach still all fidgety), his quiet, pleasingly modulated voice played amid her thoughts…how could he know she didn’t drink coffee, when his priest brother didn’t know even that much about her?

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Iron Grip

Prompt: IRON

Bedelia had kept an iron grip on herself, once she’d called Father James to accept his invitation to the Meet & Greet…though, little good it had done to stop her nerves from taking flight.

She discovered a black and white knit tunic and a pair of black slacks which needed no ironing, in the back of her closet, and studied them—they’d have to serve, as she’d had no reason to purchase new clothes since she couldn’t recall when.

Peering at face and hair in the mirror, she shuddered at the ferocious frump staring back at her and nearly called the priest again, to cancel—on any other day, she scarcely noticed her looks.

Finding a near-empty can of old hairspray beneath the sink, she misted then pushed at her coif repeatedly, one way and another till it appeared (and felt like) a tarnished helmet…and her cream foundation began to trickle “bisque” perspiration.

As Father James’ car pulled up, she drew a deep breath and reminded herself she was only obliged to go this once…she hadn’t signed a legally binding five-year contract, for heaven’s sake.

The priest greeted her with effusive cheer, and shaking her hand, he chuckled merrily, saying, “My, you have a firm clasp…to match your iron backbone, no doubt; do relax, Miss Cornell, Saint Barnabas’ folk are warm and friendly…I’m not tossing you in the lion’s den!”

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Therapy (plants and socials)

Prompt: THERAPY

https://girlieontheedge1.wordpress.com/2020/06/10/its-six-sentence-story-thursday-link-up-111/

Bedelia shook her head slowly over the written invitation, pursing her lips; Saturdays she watered her houseplants…she could hardly leave them to their own dry devices while she went off to a Catholic ‘social’.

She tossed the note card aside as her paranoia spun out: Meet and Greet’ …probably trendy code for ‘group therapy’!

If indeed crazy, dysfunctional, she was entitled to remain contentedly so; and anyway, she had nothing appropriate to wear, having given up dressing to successfully impress…a good twenty-odd years ago.

Putting dishes in the sink to wash, her eyes meandered to the gray envelope again; surely it was some kind of trick…who was this stranger that the insistent Father James wanted to introduce to her?

It couldn’t possibly be a man; but she had zero interest in meeting a lonely woman, either…held captive and forced to listen to gallbladder complaints, or nagged to join the choir or flower committee…while holding a plastic cup of sickly sweet punch.

Her plants had been recommended as “therapeutic” by the grocery’s floral department manager—she wiped her hands on a blue-striped cloth, and consulted the green friends in their terracotta pots: “perhaps I could water you a day early…and call Father James…maybe”.

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Many-Splendored Thing

Prompt: PASSION

https://girlieontheedge1.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/its-six-sentence-story-thursday-link-up-110/

Bedelia surfed the cable TV guide for a Friday night movie, and settled on the classic romance, “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”, starring William Holden, Jennifer Jones.

She wasn’t crazy for Holden but liked love stories with tragic endings; she’d wished her ex-husband had been hit by a bus and died…widows received sympathy—divorcees, suspicion.

On reflection, having been alone 40 years, she would have traded flash fire of romantic passion for real love’s lantern, long-burning—if she’d had good sense and opportunity to choose differently, wisely, while still youthful.

Time trudged on, the shame of having been a ‘dolt deceived’ clung like a sopping raincoat—and, convinced she was as desirable as a boot-squashed mushroom, the notion of daring another chance at romance nauseated her; neither lonely nor bored, she’d redirected her passions to God, and writing.

As the movie credits rolled, Bedelia picked up the mail she’d forgotten to open; mostly handbills and charities requesting donations…also a small, pale gray envelope with no return address, but local postmark.

Instinctively wary, a frown cut into her forehead and jerked her lips tight, as she pulled forth the note card with neatly penned message:  “Dear Miss Cornell—I know you declined my previous invitation to the Meet & Greet, but someone you might enjoy getting acquainted with will be there…I could fetch you at 4 pm, Saturday, and easily return you home afterward…please reconsider, and call me at the parish office ~ Father James Canter”.

©Jael Stevens/Blue Heron Boulevard, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.