Short Story, “Seahorses Everywhere.” The Exciting Conclusion!

Today we have the final installment of my short story, “Seahorses Everywhere.” Thank you for following along these past few weeks. This was a fun quarantine project. Now back to making mosaic art and searching for quality toilet paper.

If you have missed out, links to volumes 1 – 8 are at the bottom. Be well, my friends.

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   After the show, Jeff drove Bernice to the Malibu coast to visit his friend Rachel, who lived in a house on a cliff by the water. Rachel greeted them warmly, an attractive middle-aged lady with billowing brown hair streaked with silver. After a round of margaritas, Rachel suggested they all go skinny-dipping. They jogged down the staircase leading to the shore and once on the sand, stripped off their garments. They dashed to the ocean and splashed around laughing in the nighttime tide.

   Rachel headed back to the sand after awhile, gathered up her clothes and climbed the stairs to her cozy bungalow. She returned a few minutes later with a stack of towels.

   “Please make yourselves at home, sleep wherever you’d like. I’m off to bed now. Good night, dears!”

   They wrapped their towels around their dripping bodies and climbed the stairs back up to the house, carrying their clothes in bundles. Giggling, they padded through the kitchen into the living room where the floor-to-ceiling windows were wide open, sheer white curtains billowing in the warm breeze. Moonlight streamed in, illuminating their damp hair as they laid down on the oversized couch and intertwined their moist, sandy bodies for the night.

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   In the light of day, Jeff was penitent. He could barely bring himself to look Bernice in the eyes. 

     “I’m sorry. I had too much to drink. What happened last night shouldn’t have happened. Robert’s my friend.  I’ve betrayed him,” Jeff said with a groan, hanging his head.

    “It’s okay,” said Bernice, one hand rubbing Jeff’s back. “There wasn’t much relationship left to my relationship with Robert anymore,” startled to find herself saying aloud what she hadn’t been able to admit to herself before now.

   But that did little to console Jeff. He silently drove her back to Sarah’s apartment where they said an awkward goodbye.

    She called Robert later that day and left a message on the answering machine saying that she needed to stop by and pick up some things. She drove to their apartment, found it empty. She noticed an envelope addressed to her sitting on the kitchen counter. She opened it with some hesitancy, yet again startled by Robert’s uncommonly tidy penmanship. Her eyes blurred when she got to the line, “Jeff felt guilty and told me everything. How COULD you?!” She ran a finger over a reddish-brown smudge on the page. 

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   Bernice loaded her Dodge Colt to capacity with clothes, books and vinyl records. Lastly, she lay her guitar on top and closed the hatchback’s door.  The knot had swallowed her, was strangling her – had spread to her arms, legs and head.

Every end is a beginning. Every beginning is an end. 

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   Several years have passed and Bernice is back in her hometown, Huntington Beach. She re-enrolled in college as a journalism major, got a job in an office as a data entry clerk. At work, she befriended a striking young lady named Jennifer. Jennifer had thick, long curly red hair and a trusting moonface with round brown eyes. Bernice still sports a bob haircut but likes to wear floral print mini-dresses paired with grungy ankle boots.

Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be…

   Bernice and Jennifer were inseparable, often went to clubs to see live bands, where they would drink and dance well into the night. Bernice took some pride in her ability to smile and say “no” to any overly-charismatic, pretty boys who approached her.

  “So I’m thinking about getting a tattoo, a cute little dolphin,” said Jennifer, as they ate lunch at their desks one day. “Want to come along and keep me company? The tattoo parlor I want to go to is in Newport Beach. We could get dinner afterward?”

     “I’d love to,” Bernice said, unhesitating.

     The next evening, they emerged together from the parlor – Jennifer with her sweet little dolphin, Bernice with a colorful seahorse on her left shoulder blade. 

END.

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A note from the author – It is my pleasure to provide my work here for you, free of charge. If you’re enjoying my blog, please pop over to my Etsy shop where I sell my original mosaic artworks and consider buying something nice for yourself or a loved one. I’m chronically ill with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (III), Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Mast Cell Disease and presently live with my elderly mother so your purchase would go a LONG way towards helping out our household. Thank you kindly! https://www.etsy.com/shop/MosaicsByLaCanfora

Clickable links to previous volumes of “Seahorses Everywhere”

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4 

Volume 5

Volume 6

Volume 7

Volume 8

 

“Seahorses Everywhere” Volume 8 – A Short Story, continued…

Coming up, the next installment of my short story “Seahorses Everywhere,” coming at you live from my home in Los Angeles! I’m sure you’ve been waiting breathlessly for the next volume, so here we go (links at the bottom to previous installments for those who have missed out!)

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   Bernice accompanied Robert under protest to the tattoo parlor on the Venice boardwalk the following Saturday. She sat across the room on a stool and tried not to flinch as Robert had an enormous rattlesnake etched into the skin of his back. 

   “Looks great, dear,” she said.

    Robert shot her a look, reacting to the acid undertone of her remark. They left the parlor together, apart.

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    It was a Friday evening and the Salty People had stopped by their tiny apartment for drinks. Bernice didn’t know where they’d come from or why they were there. Didn’t understand what Robert had in common with them in order to befriend them in the first place. They dressed in black leather – the men chain-smoked and rubbed beer bellies. The women sported garish makeup, teased hair and huge silver jewelry. Bernice excused herself, went into the kitchen, opened a bottle of red wine then took her glass with her into the backyard. She lifted her book from the seat of the rickety folding chair and downed her wine while savoring the words. 

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,

starving hysterical naked…

   The next morning, Bernice woke up sprawled on the living room floor, a throw pillow under her pounding head. In the wan daylight, she glanced around at the empty room. She stood up, walked to the bedroom, peered in and stopped cold when she saw Robert in bed, a Salty Woman on either side of him. Feeling like her heart had just been sprayed with buckshot, she turned back to the living room, grabbed her purse and keys and fled out the door.

   She was almost to her car parked on the street when she heard a man’s voice. She spun around, saw Robert standing in the doorway, in jeans and shirtless.

     “Hey, Bernice! Where ya going?”

     “To stay with a friend.” 

     “What?! Why?” Robert lumbered over to her, yawning and scratching an armpit.

     “I think we need some time apart,” Bernice said, glancing away.

     “What do you mean?” 

     “I mean I think I’m going to crash at Sarah’s for a few days. I need time to myself.”

     “OK, OK, I hear you,” Robert said. He leaned in for a kiss but she stepped into her car and sped off, leaving him standing in the middle of Vernon Avenue.

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   She drove to Sarah’s apartment, walked upstairs and knocked on the door. Sarah was surprised to see her so early in the morning but not to learn of the separation. For the next few days, Bernice lived on Sarah’s couch, where she spent her time doubled over from the knot in her gut. Sarah summoned friends over to try to cheer her, take her out, distract her. But the parade of Good Samaritans did her little good.

  The phone rang on the third day. Sarah wasn’t home, so Bernice lifted herself up off the couch and answered it. It was Jeff, an ex-coworker from the paper, a cheerful young man who bore a strong resemblance to Hugh Grant. 

   “I talked to Robert, he told me you guys separated. I’m so sorry.” 

    Bernice quietly thanked him.

   “Hey, I’m meeting some friends over at a comedy club in Hollywood tonight. You should come! It might do you some good to get out.” 

   “OK,” said Bernice, “I’d like that.”

“Great! Pick you up around seven then?”

“Sure, that’ll be fine.” Bernice hung up, took a deep breath.

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Keep your eyes peeled for the exciting conclusion of “Seahorses Everywhere!”

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A note from the author – It is my pleasure to provide my work here for you, free of charge. If you’re enjoying my blog, please pop over to my Etsy shop where I sell my original mosaic artworks and consider buying something nice for yourself or a loved one. I’m chronically ill with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (III), Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Mast Cell Disease and presently live with my elderly mother so your purchase would go a LONG way towards helping out our household. Thank you kindly! https://www.etsy.com/shop/MosaicsByLaCanfora

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Clickable links to previous volumes of “Seahorses Everywhere”

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4 

Volume 5

Volume 6

Volume 7

“Seahorses Everywhere” Volume 7 – A Short Story

In today’s installment of my short story “Seahorses Everywhere,” we find Bernice and Robert in a state of turbulent transition. Will they survive it as a couple? Read on…

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   Bernice landed a job at a bustling news stand on the 3rd Street Promenade in nearby Santa Monica. She was excited to have a job that was outside in the sunshine and fresh air.

   To her horror, she found that rather than blissfully enjoying the outdoors, she was fending off men who leered and pawed at her newly trim figure. Two weeks after being hired, even the owner of the newsstand tried to plant his lips on hers. She promptly kissed off that job and was next hired next at an aromatic mom and pop Greek cafe a block away. The owner and his family welcomed her, gave her free food and drinks, were patient and doting with her. Bernice was taught the art of espresso making and snuck in shots throughout the day to keep her energized. She relished being in charge and loved watching people stroll by the front of the cafe – the tourists, buskers, the occasional famous actor. Now that she was working on the opposite side of town from Robert, she let him use her car to get to his job at the newspaper. To get to the cafe, Bernice walked a mile every morning through the streets of Venice to the heart of Santa Monica. 

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  They were sitting on the sofa in the living room one evening at work, Robert with a TV remote in hand, channel surfing.

   “Am I wasting my time asking if you’ve gotten the estimate to repair my car yet?” Bernice asked him.

 “We’ve been very busy at the paper lately, Bernice. It doesn’t help matters that you had to quit and leave us short-handed!” He leaned over, grabbed a small box from the top of the coffee table, opened it up, inspected its contents.

    Robert took a tiny envelope, unfolded it, let its snowy contents fall atop a shiny magazine cover. With the aid of a credit card, he gently swiped the snow back and forth, forming a skinny line.

The moon frayed through dark velvet lightly apart

Steal softly through sunshine, steal softly thru snow

   This new habit of Robert’s made Bernice nervous but she didn’t protest, only meekly acquiesced, and obediently sampled everything he offered to her. She thought the coke was kind of fun, like drinking too much coffee but was put off by the kerosene scent of the crank, though that didn’t seem to bother Robert any. They had even dropped acid together one night recently which resulted in Bernice screaming “there’s a dinosaur in the house!” at the sight of the upright vacuum cleaner standing in the hall. Overall, Bernice didn’t take much pleasure in these chemicals save the odd cigarette or alcoholic beverage.

   Robert’s face had grown sallow, with brown/purple bags under his eyes. The usual beaming grin in his eyes had been supplanted by a look of indifference – a surliness, a deadness. He took to wearing black most days in his ever thinning frame. Gone were the Lennon specs, the comfy sweaters, the sandals. Gone, too, were his folk and classic rock albums, which he had traded for some Guns and Roses and blues records.

   To Bernice’s surprise, Robert had purchased a leather jacket and a motorcycle.  She noticed, too, that not long after their move, Robert had started socializing with tougher, saltier people that he had met god-knows-where. One new buddy was a biker dude named Jeremy. Jeremy didn’t much care for Bernice and she didn’t like him, either. But they tried to set aside differences for Robert and would spend the occasional Saturday out on Jeremy’s boat docked in Marina del Rey.

___________________

   Standing in the kitchen, Robert lit a cigarette then announced “I’ve decided to get a tattoo.”

   “Um, okayyy…what brought this on?” she asked.

   “They’re just cool, that’s all. It’s like wearing art! I want to get a big tiger right here, on my back,” he motioned to his shoulder blade.

    Bernice laughed.

     Robert looked hurt. “That’s not cool, Bernice. I’m serious!” 

     “You are? Really?”

     “Yeah, do you have a problem with this?”

     “Uh…well, I don’t like them, personally.”

     “Why not?”

     “I just think they’re kind of gross. They look like bruises,” Bernice said while gathering salad ingredients, “plus you’re stuck with it for life.”

  “You’re being a snob. A pretentious, close-minded snob!” Robert cried out.

   “It’s not snobby to not like something! Everyone has their own taste! Besides, I don’t have to like everything you like!”

   “Well, I don’t give a shit if you don’t like tattoos! I’m getting one whether you like it or not!” 

     “You know, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this,” he continued, “about the way you put on airs.” He took a drag from his cigarette, blowing the smoke out forcefully towards the ceiling.

 “I don’t know what you’re talking about! Just because I’m a quiet person doesn’t mean I’m sitting around judging you and your friends.” 

     “Oh, yes it does!”

    “I’m going to eat my lunch now, thank you,” she paused. “Where are you going?”

       Robert was stalking over towards the front door.

     “To Jeremy’s. You can just hang out here with all your precious Dylan records and your pretentious little thoughts!” Robert slammed the door behind him.

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Volume 8, coming soon! Stay tuned!

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A note from the author – It is my pleasure to provide my work here for you, free of charge. If you’re enjoying my blog, please pop over to my Etsy shop where I sell my original mosaic artworks and consider buying something nice for yourself or a loved one. I’m chronically ill with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (III), Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Mast Cell Disease and presently live with my elderly mother so your purchase would go a LONG way towards helping out our household. Thank you kindly! https://www.etsy.com/shop/MosaicsByLaCanfora

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Clickable links to previous volumes of “Seahorses Everywhere”

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4 

Volume 5

Volume 6