I freely admit that as of late, I have been something of a “Stranger Danger” when it comes to this blog, and to my writing career at large. Teaching seems to be taking up every spare moment of my time, leaving me exhausted and uninspired. I have always desired for teaching to be my career, but I never intended for it to become my life, to consume me. I must then be bold, and align my priorities to my dreams. No writer ever became successful by whining and making excuses.
That being said, I have an author event scheduled for Thursday, November 14th at Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey at 12:30PM. The event is only open to students, faculty and staff, so if you are on campus that day, stop on by! I will also have a table set up at the Ladies’ Night at Manchester Firehouse on Saturday, November 16th.
WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT #5: “A man traveling overseas meets the woman of his dreams, but they don’t speak a common language.”
Michael had never been outside of the continental United States of America. He had never even ventured to Alaska or Hawaii, let alone a country that was an ocean away. He reasoned that most of it was because he was absolutely terrified of flying, and part of it was because of his never promising financial situation; he always seemed to be struggling, to register just a step behind. Even in college, when he had wanted to study abroad in England, when he had access to financial aid, scholarships, and student loans, he had not been able to swing it. As a matter of fact, the only reason Michael was seated by the window of a 757 airplane was because his father had died. At the ripe old age of 57, John Sullivan had dropped dead of a heart attack. Just about a month ago, just a few short months before he was due to retire; Mr. Sullivan had been in the break room of the warehouse at the seaport in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He had been pouring himself a crappy cup of coffee into a Styrofoam cup when everything just suddenly seized up and stopped. He couldn’t breathe or think, and so he simply collapsed and died. There had been no goodbye for his youngest child, his only son; no words of wisdom, no teachable moment as he lay dying about life and love and what is really important.
There had been a horrendously depressing funeral where Michael had to practically carry his mother from one uncomfortable folding chair to another. She wept and fell, popped another Xanax, called for her husband who was six feet in the ground, held her two daughters (Michael’s older sisters), popped a Xanax, stared off into space, crumbled, popped a Xanax, withered, and slept. She had been more of a presentable widow, though she would be forever heartbroken, at the reading of the will. John Sullivan, in death as he always had been in life, took great care of his loved ones. Each child received $15,000 and a personal, sentimental memento (Michael had inherited his father’s varsity letter jacket). His mother inherited everything else, aside from unremarkable amounts of money left to John’s one sister and six brothers. Michael sat alone in his childhood bedroom sometime later, turning the check over in his shaking hands again and again. His mother advised him to invest it. His oldest sister encouraged him to save it, to simply put it away. His other sister hugged him tightly and told him to do whatever he wanted because that is what their Dad would have wanted. So he had kissed her, packed his bag, and here he was, flying across the Atlantic.
Michael had decided on France; he could not explain why he had chosen France, but it felt right. Then again, maybe it was the valium and glass of vodka he had ingested and imbibed shortly after takeoff. When he landed, there was a substantial terrifying amount of time where Michael panicked over changing currency, renting a car, and struggling to understand and be understood. But despite initial terror and uncertainty, events had unfolded smoothly and before long, Michael had located his hotel, unpacked his bags, and hit the town. Night had descended upon Paris as a familiar love, and Michael had trouble articulating the myriad of exciting feelings which were enveloping his saner, more rational self. Sitting outside a populated bar, sipping from a glass of merlot, Michael felt smarter, stronger, sexier, and more alive than he ever had before. Possibilities were endless and seemed more like guarantees than anything else. He could be the life of a party- any party. He released a short, anticipatory breath and leaned back against the faux wicker chair he was sitting in. The emerald, checkered tablecloth created a desirable ambiance, but the outside of the bar was deserted and Michael did not want to be alone or lonely or anything of the sort. He downed the rest of his merlot and hurried back inside.
The music was loud, but lacked the thumping bass so common to American nightclubs and as a result, was classier and more elegant. Michael liked that; he liked that the interior was dimly lit but the lights reflected warmly against the mahogany, and Michael felt comfy, cozy, and right at home. He slid against packed bodies that were not grinding mindlessly and sweating profusely, but talking – discussing lively topics. This was where Michael was supposed to be – he was sure of it – and he bellied up to the bar, ready to order another glass. His finger was poised in the air and his mouth was open, ready to call “Garcon!” but an intoxicating beauty cut him in line, speaking rapidly in French with a remarkable smile. She had long, wavy, dark hair that fell past her shoulders. Her eyes were dark and round, and caught the light in a similar fashion to the way that the mahogany did. Michael’s mouth stayed open as he watched her, in her scarlet cocktail dress, move like liquid, in rolling waves of self-confidence and beauty. He knew that he needed to know her. He leaned closer to her, tapped her on the shoulder so that she turned towards him. He extended his hand and said, “Hey, I’m Michael.”
After only a slight hesitation, she took Michael’s hand in hers. Her grip was somehow feminine and firm, somehow perfect. “Bon soir,” she greeted. She liked his darker features and she liked his smile. He was an American, a tourist, but there were worse things a man could be, she reasoned. All of this assessment was hopelessly lost on Michael, who assumed she was providing her name, Dawn Soar. He beamed and jerked his head backwards, towards the dance floor. He asked her if she would like to dance and made a childish and endearing sort of pantomime. She laughed at his innocence and brazen nature, but nodded and allowed herself to be led onto the floor. There was a wizened veteran of the bar scene seated before the ivory keys, crooning beautifully. Fearsome of awkward silence, Michael began talking and did not stop. He told her everything, how much he missed his father, how much he worried about his mother, what this trip meant, how beautiful she was and how thankful he was that he had met her. She listened patiently, a small, sad, concentrated smile on her pretty face. She rested her head on his broad, masculine shoulder, which Michael assumed was a good sign. They stayed that way for an eternity, swaying until the lights came up – the international signal that it was time to head home. She looked up at him with sleepy, romantic eyes and explained, in her best French, that she could understand English but could not speak it, but would be thrilled to see as much of him as possible during his stay. She also told him that her name was Antoinette, and Michael blanched because he had been calling her Dawn the entire time. She wrote her number on a napkin and disappeared into the crowded Paris streets.
Michael woke with the dawn the following morning and purchased a translation book from the lobby of his hotel.