Winner of our first short story contest

The Day
By Ellie Yambrach,

I sat by the maple tree and took off my back pack. I pulled out a blanket, set it out on the grass, and lay down. Gazing at the sky my eyelids grew heavy; I drifted.
Solitude and peace.
Then came the words, angry and furious.
“How could you?”
“Why would you do that?”
“You spent it all?”
“You’re so selfish!”
He was angry at me. SO angry. And I did not have answers.
My consciousness stirred, the argument faded. A cool breeze pulled me out of the turbulence. My eyes opened; the dread from the dream stayed with me.
I tried to shake the feeling. This was to be a good day. We were having good days. I wasn’t going to let a dream ruin the celebration I had planned.
I checked the time. He was going to arrive soon. I told him it was a surprise. I gave him specific directions where to find me at the park.
I unzipped the other side of the backpack. One by one, I pulled out the delicacies he liked. Brie cheese, a French baguette, Greek olives, an assortment of charcuterie, a bottle of pinot noir, two wine glasses and two of the most beautiful Gala apples I could find. This was to be a celebration.
I reached into the bag one more time to be sure I had everything. My fingers touched a piece of paper. I grabbed hold of it. My eyes recognized it immediately; my dream was predicting a disastrous event.
Or replaying it.
Between my fingers was a baseball ticket. The date June 28, 2009. This same day, eight years ago, his birthday.
We had been going through a rough patch, arguing about everything; work, family, household chores. Mostly we argued about money, because we had so little. But, he loved baseball and I wanted to make everything better by taking him to the game for his birthday. I checked out our account. We had enough. I bought the tickets; seats a few rows right behind home base. He was going to be so surprised!
But when I met him at the Metro and told him where we were going he became upset. He asked what the tickets cost and how I got the money.
Then he revealed to me that he had been putting the money aside to take me on a long weekend for my birthday next month. It was so sweet what he had planned!
But he was mad. So mad that I had spent the money first! Now, he didn’t know what to do for my birthday.
He complained that I spent money on an event that would take an afternoon, whereas his plans were for us to spend a long weekend together. I explained that I wanted something special for him just as he wanted something special for me.
But he wouldn’t give it up, and that made me furious.
By the time we got to the stadium, we were both enraged.
At the entrance I handed him his ticket. He looked at it with a disdainful smirk.
“Fine!” I said.
I ripped my ticket to shreds.
“I don’t’ want to go. You don’t appreciate what I do for you.”
He placed his ticket back in my hand.
“Neither of us will go then.”
He walked away.
I imagined an afternoon of cheering and holding hands and sitting with his arm around me. Now, with his back to me, he strode around the corner, alone.
I didn’t go after him.
I shoved the ticket into my backpack, and walked in the opposite direction.
For a long time we didn’t talk. But when we did, we realized we wanted to give each other something special from the little we had. The incident deepened our love and understanding of each other.
A cool powerful wind swept up and blew around me in circles bringing my thoughts back to the day; this day.
My heart filled at the sight of him making his way towards me. I had news.
Between my fingers was an unpleasant reminder. I raised my hand and released the ticket and let it flutter away in a current of air.

Except from “On the run”, by Mario Salazar

In a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC

Miguel’s home in Maryland was in a planned community about 30 miles from the DC line and had been built in the late 1960s. He chose it for its anonymity and privacy. It was a small one floor detached house with a zero-lot line on one side. It had an eight-foot wall that surrounded the building and yard and it was almost impossible to be viewed from outside. A mail slot on the door hid the fact that mail could be accumulating inside and Miguel’s frequent visits kept the house clean and anonymous.

This development was favored by transient people that rented or retired people that were away for months during the year. The fact that he was seldom there was not unusual.

He also paid a young man to keep the outside trim and anonymous. In the three years that he had owned the house, everything had gone well and there wasn’t anything to make the house unusual.

When Miguel arrived unexpectedly at around 2:00 AM, he set in motion a series of events that threatened his secret existence.

Miguel used his remote garage opener and rode his vehicle in. He entered the house proper through a common door. As he deactivated his security system and turned around, he was confronted by a young man holding a baseball bat in a defensive posture. Apparently, the young man that he had paid to keep the outside of the house in good shape had figured out that Miguel was seldom in it and had moved in, expecting to time his exit to sync with Miguel’s next regular trip.

As Miguel calmly assessed the situation he recognized Dionisio Serga, the young man that had been maintaining the outside of his house and made a guess of why he was there.  Dionisio had also recognized him and was probably also thinking how to explain his trespasses, as he lowered the bat.

Miguel waited until both he and Dionisio had taken a deep breath and then he asked: “How would you like a cup of coffee?”

“Uh…, no thanks”

Miguel proceeded to the kitchen and remarked:

“Well, I definitely could use one”

Dionisio followed Miguel into the kitchen and sat at the breakfast table and quietly observed coffee been made.

While waiting for the brew, Miguel joined Dionisio at the dinette and asked him: – “How do you think we should resolve this situation?”

Surprised, Dionisio took a few minutes to formulate an answer – “First let me tell you why I was crashing in your house. My mom remarried about one year ago and I don’t like my stepfather and he doesn’t like me either. He finally gave my mom and ultimatum that it was either him or me.”

“I didn’t give my mom a chance to choose and told her that I would leave. She seemed relieved by my decision. I went to live with a friend, but his girlfriend just moved in also and the place is very small. I had figured out that you only come about every six weeks and decided to move in instead of living on the street or a shelter. The money I earn is not enough for me to get a half way decent room. As you can see, I have kept the place extremely clean and no one knows I am staying here. I come in late at night and leave through the back gate after most people have left for work.”

Miguel had hoped for this type of answer from the boy. He liked the fact that he hadn’t tried to deny fault and that he appeared sincere. He also noticed that the home was impeccable, as if no one lived in it.

He got up and asked Dionisio to go back to sleep and promised that they would come up with a solution the next morning. The boy appeared grateful that he wasn’t going to spend the night outside. Miguel was also thankful that Dionisio had used the extra bedroom and not his. It kind of told him that he was not intent of just taking advantage of him.

Trip to the Middle by Mario Salazar

The trip to the Middle

On the morning of the trip Jon A again questioned himself whether his trip to the Middle was such a good idea. The last few days spent with Fernanda A had a lot to do with his reluctance. While she knew and she had promised that she would be waiting for him. Leaving was still very hard.

With thoughts of “this is a small sacrifice….” He got himself ready and walked to the “footer” that would transport him to the mag station. Besides the clothes on his back, he carried a small book size bag with his papers, communicator and an energy dehi in case he got hungry. He had been told that his luggage and equipment would be waiting for him at the transition area.

The abrupt notification that he had reached his destination almost made him lose hold of the footer handles. Of course, there was very little to worry about since the safety net would have caught him, with probably a little laughter and good intended ridicule from his fellow riders.

At his arrival, he followed the crowd to the terminal. A syn-Porter at the door eyed each person and pointed to the door for each passenger to go. His completely natural voice reinforced his directive, “Jon A, good morning professor, door three please.” Three appeared to be his lucky number. He knew that as an approved visitor of the middle, he would be placed in the first train to depart. Reminding travelers of the benefits of his current place residence was another way of trying to improve the chances that he would return.

After making himself comfortable in his seat he looked around. He saw several other persons that would probably be travelling with him to the Middle. They all looked excited and a little apprehensive. The nearest person to him, a middle-aged woman, smiled and inquired, “What is it that you wish to find in the Middle?”. Jon A liked the direct approach and the smiley face and bright intelligent eyes of his travel companion.

“I am Jon A, I am interested in the past and believe that my trip will improve my teaching. I think seeing the past as the present will also be very interesting and an experience of a life time. By the way, I throw the same question to you.”

“I am Bella TA and I am coming back to the Middle. I was fascinated by some of the people and way of life in the Middle. I am an Anthropologist by profession and work for the government.” The two initials after her name indicated that she had been born on land and had moved to one of the sea colonies. This was unusual as most people wanted to stay and/or live on land.

After a few seconds, Jon A asked, “Is this a work trip then?”

She shook her head and remarked, “No I am doing this as part of a personal project, I want to write a book comparing our form of life and the life in the Middle. I know that this is a very challenging task, but I don’t think my approach has been used before.”

Putting his academic hat on Jon A asked, “What do you think is the most blaring difference between the two modes of life?”.

Bella TA thought for a few seconds and responded, “To me the fact that a significant number of people rather live a life of variable potential is fascinating. We in the World know what our lives are and will be, and find that very comforting, they reject that premise. What makes a person like that?”

This simple statement made Jon A think. What were his real reasons for his trip?