Carpe Bead ’em
Part of the Rom-Com
**eFestival of Words Women’s Fiction Winner**
Orphaned at a young age, Hallie Mediate was raised by her (slightly) crazy Great Aunt Grace on the wrong side of the tracks in Cincinnati. Hallie dreamed of escaping her hometown and never looking back. After putting herself through college, landing her dream job in Chicago, and starting a romance with her handsome running partner Bo Pompillio, life is finally exactly as she wants it.
That is, until she’s transferred back to the hometown. Not wanting her past to cross paths with her future, Hallie puts her relationship with Bo on hold.
When she arrives in town, Hallie finds crazy Aunt Grace rummaging through a dumpster looking for the “perfect” welcome home gift for her niece. That’s just the beginning. After that, Aunt Grace stays busy by dying her stolen poodle’s hair pink and leaving the dog on her apartment roof to pee, throwing bricks out the window at passing neighbors, and climbing every flag pole to kiss the ornamental eagle.
Hallie finds some sanity at a local jewelry-making class where she uncovers a hidden talent for beading. When her talent is discovered by a major department store jewelry buyer, Hallie realizes that what she had in Chicago might not have been her dream life after all.
When faced with the choice of moving back to Chicago and Bo or taking a leap of faith to start her own jewelry company (with Aunt Grace in tow), Hallie has to make a decision. Will she let her past and her future collide, or will she or keep searching for the happiness she may already have found?
Carpe Bead ’em
Part of the Rom-Com
Carpe Bead ’em
Groaning, I squeeze the pillow over my ears. Please…even that doesn’t muffle the ringing phone. Blinking into the darkness, I heave the pillow across the room and grab my clock.
What the hell?
I shake it to make sure I’m seeing the real time.
Two-fifteen. In the morning.
Are you kidding me?
The ringing stops for a few seconds and I think…pray that it’s over. But then it starts again.
Argh…no. I squint trying to focus on the Caller ID without messing up my cocoon of blankets.
I reach for the phone, but stop. Does she really need me this time? My fingers stretch closer. What if it is an emergency? My fingers retract. No. What…what if it’s just like every other time? All the time she called to shoot the breeze in the middle of the night.
One more ring and the answering machine picks up. I can’t do it. I can’t ignore her call. I close my eyes, pick up and press on.
“Hello, Aunt Grace.” Three words in, and I am already exhausted with this conversation.
“You are psychic just like your mother. I swear you even sound like her,” Aunt Grace said.
Well, Great Aunt Grace, really! Ninety-two years old and I swear she’s going to outlive all her relatives—if I don’t kill her first. Not that there are many of us left. After my parents died, it was just her and me. I guess I owe her.
“I wanted to tell you about this fine young man I think you’ll like.” She acts like it’s three in the afternoon. Doesn’t she realize it is in the middle of the night? I can tell where this is going.
“Aunt Grace, can’t this wait until the morning? Better yet, why don’t I come for a visit?” I plead.
I try to see her every six or eight weeks. It’s the least I can do. Well, the least I can do for myself. I live almost five hours from Cincinnati, in Chicago, and she still continues to call in the middle of the night. Distance and time are irrelevant when it strikes her fancy to call me. At least I can control my trips back to Cincinnati.
“It can’t wait until tomorrow, and I don’t want you to drive here this time of the night.”
“That’s good. At least you know what time it is. I’ll call you tomorrow about this guy.” I’m afraid her mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be. Not that it was ever that sharp.
“Of course I know the time. I just finished playing cards with the girls down the hall.”
“Down the hall?” Aunt Grace owns an apartment building in one of the seedier areas of downtown Cincinnati.
“You know. The girls who rent from me. Besides aren’t you in Chicago?”
A calm but eerie feeling comes over me. Thank God, she remembers where I live. Some nights she calls and thinks I’m dodging her when I try to explain how I can’t just pop over to visit.
“Besides, aren’t you in Chicago?” She repeats.
“Yes, Aunt Grace. I still live in Chicago. I have a long run in the morning. I need all the sleep I can get.” Across the room, the doorknob turns. My eyes bulge. With the phone cradled between my shoulder and ear, I clap my hands.
There’s nothing better than The Clapper for someone who is scared of the dark. Someone like me. If someone is going to rob me or kill me, I want to see them or at least be able to say, “Here Mr. Robber Killer, take whatever you want. I don’t need it.”
Aunt Grace is rambling on about Inas winning the first round of gin rummy. I hardly register it.
“Who’s there?” I hiss towards my bedroom door.
“Hallie,” a voice says to me. “We live on the fifty-first floor. Who do you think it is?”
I practically faint from relief. The intruder happens to be Lucy, my roommate and best friend. She claps after she opens the door, turning the lights off.
I groan. Lucy still looks good in the middle of the night with her ash blonde hair pulled back. Her turquoise eyes stand out even more without make-up on.
“Getting robbed is virtually impossible unless someone freaks out in our building.” Lucy snickers.
“Clap them back on!” I scream into the dark.
I don’t give a shit that it’s Lucy and not Freddy Freaking Nightmare On Elm Street. If I lived in Fort Knox, I would still be afraid of the dark. Lucy and I continue to clap my lights on and off until the room feels like a disco.
Finally, her long lean legs carry her five-foot-nine-inch frame out of my bedroom, ending the clapping feud.
“What’s going on, Hallie?” Aunt Grace croons through the phone.
My head spins in confusion. Aunt Grace is humming a tune from the musical Chicago…another one of her quirks…she just breaks out in tune. No words, just humming.
“If Aunt Grace wakes me up with her calls, then I want to make sure you stay up.” Lucy walks back in the room, and continues to clap.
“Hallie? What’s going on? Do I need to kick some…?”
“No, no, Aunt Grace.” I have to interrupt her because if she starts cursing, she doesn’t stop. “It’s only Lucy.”
I put my pillow over my head.
“That crazy superstitious girl you met in college?”
“Yes, Aunt Grace. The same Lucy that was my college roommate and is still my roommate.”
My patience is running thin. “Goodnight.”
“Hallie, wait. I still haven’t told you about the young man.” There is pride in her voice. “He’s Italian.”
Here we go. I roll my eyes as she talks. She is always doing this to me. I admit that being single at twenty-eight isn’t in my plan, but I don’t need Aunt Grace playing Cupid.
“He lives in Chicago, and I gave him your number to look you up.”
My heart pounds a mile a minute. I hate when she does this. I can just imagine it’s one of her loony friend’s cuckoo relatives who’s probably a loon like all the others.
“You what?” I sat straight up in bed. “Aunt Grace you can’t do that in today’s age. What if he’s crazy and tries to track me down and kill me?”
Thank God, I live in a building with a doorman that has to buzz up any visitors. And, double thank God, I have The Clapper.
“Good Italian family,” she says, ignoring me.
Here we go again.
“Don’t you know most people my age are waiting well into their thirties to get married?” I inform her.
“Just keep an open mind. In my day if you weren’t married by twenty, you were considered an old maid.”
“Lucky for us we aren’t in your day.”
“Good Italian family,” she repeats before she hangs up. Aunt Grace always gets the last word.
Needless to say, my nerves are shot, and it takes me over an hour to calm down. I must’ve turned my alarm off because I didn’t wake up for my run.