Short “Shorts” – No Longer Here

This week we have a brand new writer. Her debut short story will touch you and evoke raw emotions that you can’t help, but feel. The writing prompt used was: She saw two people in the picture where there should have been three.

No Longer Here

by

Marina Albert

Beach_No Longer Here

“What’s happened to Mike?” Edel asked as her husband George hung up the phone.

”Mike’s missing. He went out on a boat with his friends and he may have drowned,” George said, his expression dark and gloomy.

The caller was a friend. Mike was George’s nephew, a smart, handsome and intelligent young man who just married a year ago. So Edel and George rushed to the cottage near the lake where Mike and his wife had spent the long weekend together with their friends.

A tragic scene greeted them. Many friends and relatives including Mike’s parents gathered at the cottage, praying for Mike to come back. Where was he? Surely a strong swimmer and a healthy young man like him wouldn’t drown?

Two long days of searching, and then the police found Mike. Drowned…lifeless.

Edel and George missed Mike. They missed his jokes and sense of humor at the family gatherings. A few weeks later, Edel visited Mike’s mother, Maria, who looked lonely and bereft at the loss of her only son at the age of thirty-three. She cried as she spoke about Mike.

Maria said that she knew something was wrong that Sunday morning when she stood at the bottom of the steps and her eyes rested on the family portrait hung above the clock. She saw two people in the picture where there should have been three. For a moment she was sure Mike was missing.

Then the phone rang…the call that told her Mike was gone. Was that God’s way of letting her know what was about to happen?

Maria remembered that on the day before the trip he came to borrow the cooler. His usually bright face was somber as he gave her advice about her diet. He had asked, “Where is Dad?” She told him that he was at the gym.

Mike went to the gym—somewhat unusual—just to see his dad, and then brought him home, after which he took off. That last glance and his goodbye still lingered in her mind. Did Mike have any inkling that it would be the final time he saw his parents?

The other day while driving to work Maria heard Mike’s voice. ‘MUMMY!” he called out. That was when she saw the car in front of her. She hit the brake just in time. She had dozed off briefly; the stress of losing Mike had taken a toll on her sleep.  If not for that voice she would have got into an accident.

When Edel walked out of her cousin’s house she felt sad, but she took comfort in her cousin’s stories. You see, although Mike was gone from this world, he still watched over them from heaven.

Ten Signs to Recognize It’s Time to Retire or Retool

SignsForRetiringWhether you’re thinking about retiring or retooling, when do you know you’re ready to make the transition? It’s scary to pull that trigger, isn’t it? The safety net of a steady income entices us to keep working even when our souls yearn for freedom from corporate bondage. It’s hard to imagine life without a pay-cheque.

I don’t have any clear-cut answers either, but I’ve noticed a definite pattern when I observe people on the threshold of retirement. I’ve listed them as ten signs—in no particular order—to help you recognize that you’ve outgrown your regular job and that it’s time to retire or retool. Here they are:

1. You talk non-stop about retiring with your friends and colleagues. At every opportunity, you opine about the things you could do, the places you could see, if only you had the time.

2. Not only are your friends making plans to retire, but your colleagues and acquaintances are telling you that their retirement is imminent.

3. More and more often when you wake up in the morning, you wonder why you’re still grinding the nine-to-five millstone.

4. You start looking for hobbies in strange places. Archery may suddenly become a favorite pass-time. That book simmering inside your head may now seem imminently possible. You remember how your grade three teacher said your painting had potential…hmm.

5. Conversely, you already have many projects clamoring for your attention. You assure yourself that you’ll get to them all when you retire, or that they’re in your retooling plans.

6. Your house suddenly seems too big and downsizing becomes a major topic of conversation in your family.

7. The travel section of your newspaper can’t hold enough deals for you. The rest of the newspaper only holds your cursory attention. Your suitcase is now easily accessible, and you have toiletry kits ready to throw into your bag at a moment’s notice.

8. You’re nodding off in front of the TV, but you insist that you’re awake all the time. You claim that 10 p.m. is too early for bed, so you sleep on the couch until midnight before you turn in.

9. Many old friends you haven’t heard from in a long time suddenly reappear in your life and want to meet with you for lunch or coffee. These friends didn’t have time to see you before.

10. If you’re a fitness buff, you’re now starting to build a network of friends at the gym. It’s no longer just a place to work out, but also a place to hang out.

So what do you think? Clear signs calling out to you…maybe. Weigh in with your words of wisdom.