When the Unexpected Comes Along
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All of my writing is fiction, although I reserve the right to include incidents (not people) from my life as well. All characters who need to be are eighteen years of age or older. I hope you enjoy it.
* * * * *
When I was forty-two, I decided that life was passing me by.
A little over one year later, I was sure I had fallen further behind.
I was forty-three; my twenty-two-year-old daughter was newly married and moved to England, and I was at loose ends, not having any idea what my future might hold.
I had one person I could legitimately call a close friend, my next-door neighbor Marla, who, bless her heart, encouraged me to volunteer. She said it was so fulfilling; at the animal shelter, a hospital, with the homeless, at a food bank. The fact that her husband had died two years ago and she wasn’t volunteering anywhere made me skeptical of her suggestions. She did have her eighteen-year-old son still living at home; he was at least company for her.
I watched her crossing my backyard, wondering if I’d be getting more advice. I chastised myself for being so negative, but I was finding it difficult to be otherwise lately. The gray hairs I was noticing sneaking in amongst my normal light brown were nearly invisible to everyone… except me, but they were nevertheless disconcerting. At least I had the house, a decent job, and a little money in the bank. Things could certainly be worse than a few gray hairs.
Since it was Saturday, both of us had the day to ourselves. For me, that wasn’t always good, but at least it was bright and sunny, a big help in shaping my attitude. A dismal, rainy day sometimes made me wonder if it was worth it. These feelings were usually fleeting but painful nevertheless.
“Good morning, Danica. It’s already kind of hot, but I love the sun, don’t you?”
I found the broad smile on her face made things seem a little brighter.
“I do,” I agreed, pushing thoughts of dismal days to the back of my mind.
“Dayton always loved the sunshine.”
I watched a tender smile form on Marla’s face as she mentioned her deceased husband. He’d been dead a little over two years, the victim of a plane crash in the South Pacific. Insurance money allowed Marla and her son, Cody, to keep the life they were used to — except for Dayton, of course.
“I miss him,” she added quietly. Marla was very private with talk of her husband; I was sure because she didn’t want to bore people with memories that were precious to her but perhaps not to others. Nevertheless, I enjoyed listening to her, seeing the passion on her face, the words they had shared that had a special meaning for the two of them. Despite her occasionally obvious anguish at his not being here, I was envious of what they had shared in their years together.
“I know it’s not very comforting now, but it seems you had a wonderful relationship filled with great memories.” I watched her blinking, struggling to hold back tears.
“That’s so true, Danica. I do treasure that… and them.” She took a deep breath. “So, let’s talk about you for a while.” She smiled at me expectantly.
“I’m boring,” I said, never anxious to share myself with others. It was selfish, and I’m not sure what else, but it was me.
Marla looked at me, and I sensed a stubbornness about her today. The way she was smiling at me only reinforced that feeling. Her dark brown eyes had an almost devious gleam about them, and I wondered what I might be in for.
“Danica, you’re an attractive woman. You’ve had to have some men in your life, but if you don’t want to talk about it, I understand that too.”
The very expectant and curious look I was receiving was creating a feeling of guilt as I tried to rationalize my reluctance to share. Nothing I had done was criminal or dangerous. It was just unusual and often misunderstood. Marla was as good a friend as I’d ever had, and if I’d share with anyone, it would be her. But…
“Men in my life? Yes, but not for a long time.” I paused, but there was no valid reason not to tell her. “Have you ever heard of polyamory?” There, I’d said it, and I knew I’d have to say more.
A puzzled look. “No, I don’t know what that is, but it sounds psychological or something.”
“I guess so, but it’s just a name.” I paused, squinting one eye. “I’m not sure I can clearly define it, so if you want me to, I’ll just share my experience with you. If you’ve got time,” I added.
“If you’ve got coffee, I’ve got time.” Marla seemed to settle back in her chair, apparently ready for whatever I had to say.
So I made coffee, and we sat in the two loungers strategically placed in the shade of the broad-leaf Norway maple, a bit of relief from the sun and its inherent heat.
Just as we’d settled in, we heard a voice from the other side of the board fence that partially separated the two yards.
“Mom! Where are you?” It was Cody.
“I’m over at Danica’s, honey.”
Cody quickly appeared around the fence, and I ankara iri göğüsleri olan escortlar knew what was coming.
“Miss Witkin, hello,” he said, a huge smile on his face.
I found Cody to be an interesting contradiction. He was tall, well over six feet, as his father had been. I’d seen photos of Marla and Dayton together, and he was considerably taller than her. Cody looked strong but avoided athletics, content to be an excellent student and a developing pianist. Not a concert pianist, but just for personal enjoyment. He wore fairly thick glasses which distorted his eyes, but I had seen him without them, and he was a moderately handsome young man.
“Hello, Cody. How’s school going?”
“Very well, Miss Witkin. And, thanks for asking.” He looked at his mother, then back to me. “May I get either of you more coffee?”
“You bet,” Marla said. “Just bring the pot out if that’s okay with you, Danica.”
“Sure,” I said, watching Cody go through my back door.
Marla chuckled. “He thinks you’re hot,” she said quietly.
“No!” I exclaimed, a little too loudly, looking over my shoulder at the back door.
“It slipped out, and he was so embarrassed.”
“Geesh. I’m forty-three, and he’s eighteen.” I could barely believe what I’d just heard. I’d been blessed with good genes and tried to take care of myself. I went to the gym occasionally but wasn’t diligent about it. I never try to hide that I’m forty-three because I have no aspirations about luring a man into my lair.
Cody was quickly back and took my cup to refill it, brushing my hand with his as he did. It was something I wouldn’t have noticed five minutes ago but now caught my attention and made me wonder. He filled his mother’s cup too, then turned back to me.
“Miss Witkin, are you sure you wouldn’t like to have me mow your grass? I see you doing it, and, well, it just looks like hard work. I’d be happy to do it, and my payment would be just an apple or a cherry pie.” His smile revealed a perfect-looking set of white teeth.
Was I suddenly paranoid, thinking that Cody was watching me when I was in the yard? Evidently, I was. If I baked him an apple pie, would he want to come into my house to eat it with me? And what would be wrong with that? As I’d said before. I’m forty-three, and he’s eighteen. What harm could there be?
Cody had initially been looking for his mother, but now he seemed intent on talking with me.
I looked at him, the smiling and eager look on his face, white teeth sparkling; it was hard to comprehend that he found me “hot.” That was also making it difficult to meet his gaze. How ridiculous I thought, that an eighteen-year-old could make me feel so self-conscious. I took a deep breath and looked directly into his thick-glass-distorted eyes.
“When do you want to start?” I could see Marla giving me a you don’t have to do that look, but if I could supply a little joy and excitement for my neighbor’s son, even if it were a touch, well, strange perhaps, why not? I wondered if it was me that was looking for a little joy and excitement.
“Just let me know when you think it needs it,” he replied, a very satisfied look brightening his face. He turned to his mother. “Going to Larry’s. I’ll text you. Bye now, Miss Witkin.” He waved to me and disappeared around the fence.
“You didn’t need to do that, Danica.” Marla chuckled. “And I shouldn’t have told you what he said.” She laughed.
“Why not? Gave my ego a boost for sure.” When I said that, I realized it was true, even if it was a touch feeble.
Marla paused for a moment. “Now that he’s gone, you can go on telling me about that poly-whatever you started before.”
I hoped she had forgotten about that, but no such luck. I’d just stumble through and see what developed.
“Oh boy. Well, here goes. When I was in college, a sophomore I think, I enjoyed partying. And I enjoyed the after party even more.” I glanced at Marla, and her wide-eyed look told me she understood the meaning of what I’d said.
“One day, I was in the student union eating lunch in The Tavern. It was packed, but I found about the only empty seat in the place. The guy next to me turned out to be talkative… and pleasantly handsome. Before I’d finished my fries, he’d asked me for a date. I didn’t realize what effect a simple yes would have on my life.”
I looked at Marla.
“Sure,” she said, giving me a chance to collect myself and my thoughts.
I filled our cups, burning my lips while concentrating on what I was going to say rather than the near-scalding beverage in my cup.
“You okay?” Marla asked.
“I’ll live,” I chuckled.
But I needed to finish my story for Marla.
“Reid and I had our date, and it couldn’t have been better. He was kind, considerate, a wonderful conversationalist, and he seemed to understand me much more than I could have expected. We dated more and, well…” I paused and could feel my cheeks warming, “the sex was great. He elvankent götü büyük escortlar seemed to be perfect, and I started thinking forever thoughts, you know?”
I was surprised that I was sharing these things with Marla as I’d only ever told this story in bits and pieces, never the whole thing to anyone.
“It’s kind of the way I was with Dayton,” Marla said when I paused. “Including the sex,” she added, I think trying to ease my self-consciousness.
“I had met several of his friends during our dating but hadn’t gotten to spend much time with them. Once we’d sort of decided we fit together so well, we began spending more time with them. Reid told me they were all very warm and friendly people and just to relax when I was around them. It made sense but seemed a little strange, and I wasn’t sure what he wanted.
“There were three other couples that seemed to be close friends, and we all gathered for a party. We had dinner, which was delicious, and afterward, lots of beer and wine was available. Reid had mentioned polyamory to me, and I think he expected me to look it up and question him about it. I didn’t and forgot all about it. My bad.
“Anyway, I had my glass of wine and saw that Reid was having a conversation with a very pretty lady I had met once. I wasn’t alone for very long, though. One of the other men came up to me, put his arm around my shoulder, and said he’d like to get to know me a little better. If he was a good friend of Reid’s, I needed to get to know hIm too.”
I looked at Marla who seemed a little confused.
“Let me make it short. Reid and the others were a group that believed you could have romantic relationships with more than one person at a time… including sex. After that guy had pawed me a little and made a few suggestive remarks, which I eventually understood were not unusual, I grabbed Reid and asked what the hell was going on. It was his turn to be confused. He asked if I’d read about polyamory and when I said no, he took me outside and explained.
“It was then that I made my big mistake. I was in love with Reid and didn’t want to lose him. I’d been a little wild in the past — multiple partners with lots of sex, and I rationalized that I could be that way again if it would help me keep Reid. I was hoping we’d eventually marry, and everything would change. It was weird. I was with Reid most of the time, and he was the most caring and loving man I could want. All the rest of the men were great guys, but I wasn’t in love with them.
“Finally, I pressed Reid about getting married. He was perfectly agreeable to that but let me know he’d caught my hints about things changing. He told me that wouldn’t happen. I think he loved me — and the three other women too. So, if we parted, I’d be losing my whole world while he’d be losing twenty-five percent of his. And it didn’t seem to bother him the slightest bit as he gave me a take-it-or-leave-it option. That option made me wonder if I’d totally misread Reid the entire time we were together.
“I guess I didn’t really lose my whole world. I got Susan.”
“Oh my gosh,” Marla said.
“Yeah, I was pregnant with her when I left Reid. As far as I know, he has no idea that he has a grown daughter who’s now married. But I left and haven’t trusted a man since.”
“Wow,” Marla said. “That’s a pretty amazing story. Is that poly-whatever sort of like swinging, maybe?”
“No, swinging is couple’s switching sex partners, but with no emotional attachment. This had the emotional side too, and that’s what I didn’t like. I was through with my “no sex till the second date” side and wanted something more lasting.” I hoped my revelations hadn’t damaged my friendship with Marla.
“I was a third date girl… sometimes,” Marla said, laughing, “unless the guy was really hot. Then it was the second date or, well, maybe just a hookup. Sound familiar?”
“Ha! Are you my long-lost sister?”
We shared a grin that turned into long and loud laughter.
“I work with a couple of guys you might like,” Marla suggested.
“Same here,” I echoed.
Marla took a deep breath, gazing at me as she did.
“Not quite ready yet,” she said, sighing, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she didn’t wish she was ready. Cody would eventually be leaving, and Marla would be by herself — she didn’t seem like someone who’d enjoy being alone.
“Me either,” I said. I hadn’t trusted a man for more than twenty years and couldn’t convince myself there was a need to do it now. With my daughter gone, there was a certain new-found hollowness inside me that sometimes seemed to be longing to be filled. I was learning how to combat those longing, the habits of twenty years not allowing me to change.
I heard “The Fields of Athenry” playing loudly in the bedroom and debated about answering, fully expecting it to be a scam call on my cell phone. I gritted my teeth, ran the short distance, and answered it. An unknown number, of course.
“Hello,” etimesgut çıtır escortlar I said, a decidedly disgusted tone to my voice.
“Hello, is this Danica?”
Wow, an actual human voice, I thought.
“Yes, this is Danica.”
“Hi. This is Strom Muller, from work.”
“Oh, hi. How are you?” And how did you get my number? I wanted to ask.
“Doing great. I hope you are too.”
“I am,” I replied, suspecting what this might be about.
“I bet you’re wondering how I got your number.”
I nodded, a questioning smirk on my face, glad we weren’t Facetiming.
“Just naturally curious,” I answered.
“I was a little bad, I guess.” He chuckled. “I saw you talking to Cheryl, and when I passed her desk, I saw she had written your number on her desk calendar.”
She had wanted my number so she could call me if she were going to be late or missing altogether. There were a couple of things she did each morning that I’d be able to cover. I was trying to sift my feelings about him getting my number behind my back since, if he’d asked me for it, we might not be having this conversation.
“Not the usual way to get it,” I said, to let him know I wasn’t totally happy with his admission.
“I apologize. I was going to ask you, but then I saw it and… “
“Ask me what?” I wanted him to feel a little uncomfortable.
“Well, for your number… and for a date.”
“Ah,” I said, the ugly truth finally revealed. Ugly for me, at least. “No reflection on you, Strom, but I haven’t been doing any dating lately.” Lately being the last twenty years.
“I see you every day, Danica, and you’re, well, a very attractive lady, and I thought we might get to know each other a little better. Who knows?”
There was no reason not to have a date with Strom — other than my reluctance. He was a pleasant and considerate man, probably a few years younger than I was. He wasn’t handsome but was kind of cute. Still, he was barking up the wrong tree.
“I know, Strom. It’s just me and all my baggage. I think you’re probably a great guy, and I’m sorry.”
“I’d still like to give it a try, Danica, but I bow to your wishes. See you at work tomorrow.”
We disconnected, although I’d still have to deal with him at work.
“Hi Cody,” I called as he came out his back door.
“Hey, Miss Witkin,” he yelled, running down his steps and into my yard. He looked around and smiled. “Looks like your grass needs to be mowed.”
“That’s why I yelled at you.”
All the cherry pie needed was to be baked, not a bad price for the mowing that needed to be done. Still, I felt a touch guilty, like I was taking advantage of Cody and…
“Cody, let me pay you something for the mowing, along with the pie.” I watched his eyes widen.
“No way, Miss Witkin. I made a deal, and we’re sticking to it.”
Talking to Cody today, something struck me that had nagged at me for a while. He was a little taller than I was, and, most noticeably, his voice had deepened drastically. When he spoke, he was definitely a man.
“Cody, why don’t you start calling me Danica?”
“Thank you, Miss Witkin, but Mom would have a fit, so I better stick to Miss Witkin.”
I had an idea. “Call me Danica when your mom isn’t around.”
He was chewing his cheek, pondering what I’d said.
“So, it would be our secret?” he said, a conspiratorial smile on his face.
“I guess so.”
Cody looked around. “Okay, Danica. I better get started on this grass.”
He had about the biggest smile I’d ever seen.
I went inside and put the pie in the oven, soon surrounded by a delicious aroma. Out the window, I could see Cody working hard, making short work of the long grass. Before I knew it, he was on the back porch, ready for his pie.
“All finished, Mi — Danica.” Another big smile.
“Come on in; the pie’s ready.” I handed him some paper towels for the perspiration on his face.
He carefully wiped his face but hesitated to sit down despite the pie right there, waiting for him.
“Um, Danica, I’m kind of… wet. Could I take my shirt off?”
“Sure, no problem.”
He quickly pulled his shirt over his head, looked around, then tossed it out the back door. Cody had definitely grown up, and I wondered if all the high school girls had seen him this way. He sat down, ready for his pie.
“Should I cut one quarter for you?”
I carefully removed a quarter of the pie and dropped it onto a small plate. I pushed it in front of Cody, handed him a fork, and watched as he took the first bite.
“Oh my gosh, Mi… Danica. This is fantastic,” he said, his mouth filled with the huge bite he had taken. “You should sell these pies; people would pay big bucks for them.”
I knew my pies were good as my mother had loved baking, and I seemed to have picked up her knack for it, but Cody seemed to be carrying it a little far. I wondered if it was just youthful enthusiasm or if there was more behind it. My innate distrust of the male sex always caused me to wonder, even in seemingly harmless situations like this one.
Cody finished the pie, a constant smile on his face. He sat back in his chair and continued to smile at me. For some reason, I was getting a strange vibe from his look. I scolded myself for this.
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