Saturday, February 1, 2014


This is a Short-Story that was included in my short-story and poetry book- Bits and Pieces: Tales and Sonnets. It was a fan favorite as well. My brain doesn't usually revisit a book or story once it's finished. But for some reason I had a dream last night around this story-- but my mind continued on where this short ended. It interested me. So don't be surprised if you don't see an expansion of this story, along with a continuation beyond where it ended before. 


“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

He was never sure how to answer that question, as they once again, lay in the soft grass under the
Texas sun. He shrugged. “We’re only nine. I don’t know. I guess grown-up?”

She giggled and nudged him with her foot. “No silly. When we become grown-ups and have to have jobs and stuff.”

He sighed and shrugged again. “I don’t know. A doctor? A fireman? A policeman?”

She rolled her eyes and sat up, “God, you are so boring. That’s what everyone chooses.”

“Okay. So what are you going to be? What do you want to be when you’re grown up?”
Her face crinkled up, the spray of freckles across her nose wrinkling as she gave it some thought.

“An angel.”

He laughed at that. “Seriously Debs? You can’t just say you’re going to be an angel. You have to like, I don’t know, be born an angel. And anyway, you can’t be an angel and a person. I don’t think anyway.”

He knew the moment he laughed at her that she would get upset. And he was right. She got up fast and kicked him, really hard in the side, “I can be whatever I want to be. You don’t know. You’re just a dumb kid!” She went to kick him again, but by that moment he was up on his feet.

“I’m sorry Deb! Gosh, I’m really sorry. But you can’t be an angel. And I’m pretty sure you have to be dead before you become one!”

Deb was already running through the weeds, her faded blue dress catching in the tall grass as her bare-feet carried her away from him, and back to her shamble of an apartment.

Sighing, he watched her go, and kicked a clump of dirt that seemed to judge him from the ground below.

This was their place. A small patch of meadow that stood almost hidden between the drainage ditches that ran through town, surrounded by overgrowth. A dividing line that separated the world that she lived in, from the world he lived in. 

Hers was one of poverty and shame. The projects that no one talked about, where drug dealers and hookers were the celebrities in the gray bricked rows of same design, same bland buildings that housed its resolved inhabitants.

His was one of middle class and upper reaching class. Their houses looked the same too, but had manicured lawns, two car garages, big plasma screen televisions and their celebrities are based on reality shows, and whoever drove the most expensive SUV on the street.

Knowing he had upset her, he sighed and headed through the weeds, to go the opposite way and back to his home.

10 Years Later

“David? You going to the party?”

He looked up to see the rest of the guys and their gals standing in front of him at the gas pumps. He was just topping off the tank and shrugged. “I guess. As long as it doesn’t get too stupid.”

His buddies all laughed. “Then you don’t know our parties.” He laughed with them and checked his watch for the time. He needed to pick Deb up or she would have to walk three miles to her mom’s place. And he hated her walking through the neighborhood they now lived in.

Her dad had left, and with that, also took the only income they had. He had thought the first projects she lived in were bad? He had been wrong, because where she lived now, trying to scrape by on what little money her mom made from being a hotel maid and the pennies Deb made as a waitress, that first place had been luxury.

They had stayed friends. Even though his folks had moved upward as hers fell apart and down. Different schools, different worlds, even farther apart than they had been before. But still friends.

Waving goodbye to his friends got in his hand-me-down BMW and headed towards the Bluebonnet Café to wait for Debs to get off of her shift. Sitting in front of the greasy spoon diner, he tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, looking up to see Deb’s walk out, making him smile. Her soft brown hair was pulled back in a pony-tail, and her green eyes were shaded by a slender hand from the bright light of the afternoon sun. She wore the Café t-shirt and ripped blue jeans, worn sneakers on her feet.

She looked up, shoving away her tips and gave him a tired smile as she walked up and got in the passenger side, “Hi.”

He smiled and put the car in reverse to back out and then drive to head down the old highway to go to her place. She fidgeted with his radio, found a song she liked and sang along softly as they cruised out of town and to the other side of the ditches. Past the projects, and then, finally, the trailer park. He hated this place, and hated that she had to live here. But Deb never complained about it. In fact, to be honest, she never complained about anything. It just was not her nature.

Pulling up in front of her lot, he ducked down to look towards the small, rusted worn out trailer that was older than both of them, plus a decade, “Your mom home?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Can’t tell.” She got out and headed towards the house, and he followed. She pulled out her keys and unlocked, and called out to her mom. The only response was silence as he came through the door, closing it behind him.

She plopped down on the couch and he sat next to her. She fidgeted with the threads in her ripped jeans and said softly, “I heard there was a party at Brian’s tonight.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I might go.” Glanced over at her. “You going?”

She shrugged again. “Brian asked me.”

He frowned at that, not sure how he felt about it. Deb was probably his best friend, and Brian was right behind her in friendship. But he also knew Brian wasn’t the best with girls. Didn’t really treat them right, and though he never really thought of Deb in that way, he realized most boys, including Brian, probably did.

“Well, uh. So I guess you’re going?”

She smiled. “Well, no one else asked me. So I guess so.” She leaned forward to look at him, and he stood.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you there?”

She watched him, and for a minute, she had the oddest look on her face. Then she sighed, flashed a smile and nodded, “Yeah. I guess you will.”

He didn’t go to the party. He really wished later that he had.

Five Years Later

“David? Can you get the door? Please?”

He looked up from reading the newspaper. He hadn’t even heard the doorbell, but his wife apparently had. Dropping the paper, headed to the door and opened it wide, a smile on his face.

“Hey Deb.”

She smiled, standing on her toes to kiss him, a baby in her arms. “Hey there.” Brian followed in after her, no smile on his face.

This was the norm. Brian never seemed happy, and always seemed pissed. David didn’t get it. Debs had to be a wonderful wife and a great mom to their little one, Stevie. But Brian just seemed like he hated his life.

They shook hands and Brian followed him to the kitchen as they both grabbed a beer from the fridge. His wife, Lisa, bustled out and went woman-crazy over the cuteness of Deb and Brian’s baby, and as he watched, an edge of sadness nipped at his previous pleasant mood.

Lisa couldn’t have children, and though they thought about adoption, he just wasn’t sold on the idea yet, and it was causing problems. For him, for her, and without a doubt, their marriage.

Brian twisted the cap off his beer and leaned out to watch the two women and shook his head. “Women and babies. It’s ridiculous.”

He laughed softly. “Yeah. They love their babies.”

Brian stared at him. “I’m having an affair.”

Laughter disappeared, beer half-way to his mouth and leveled a glare at Brian. “You’re what?”

Brian shrugged, “Fucking around. Cheating.”

How could Brian be cheating on Deb? It made no sense, but then again, he should not have been surprised. Some things never change.

“You need to tell her Brian. She deserves to know.”

Brian shook his head. “No. She’ll freak out. And she brought it on. She let herself go after the baby.”

That pissed him off, but before he could say anything, the women were walking into the kitchen as he gave Brian a warning glare, and Brian kissed Deb.

Two Years Later

It was supposed to be raining. Having a funeral on a sunny day just seemed like an insult, adding more pain to the layers of grief that already coated everyone at the ceremony like a cloak.

Little Stevie cried, and try as the family could, he would not stop crying. Couldn’t blame the toddler; even adults have a hard time understanding death.

As the minister said the usual words, and the crowd dispersed, he stood there for the longest time.

Too young. Too soon. He should have gone with her to that party. He should have asked her out on a date. Then they would have been together, and she would have never been with Brian. Never would have found out that Brian only married her because she became pregnant. And cheated on her the whole time.

Why didn’t he ever see her for what she was?

Beautiful. Smart. Generous and kind.

Why did it take death to make him realize how much he loved her?

As he stood there, staring down at the coffin, the bright colored flowers, making the air seem too sweet; he put back his head and looked at the clear, blue sky. Then he heard the soft voice of a childhood friend, so many years ago.

“Okay. So what are you going to be? What do you want to be when you’re grown up?”

“An angel.”

Letting out a pained sob, he turned to go and stopped.

It was her.

She held a single red rose, her face streaked with tears as she walked up and laid the flower on the coffin. She had been crying for days. Even more than when her marriage had ended and she had lost everything; or so she thought then.

She should have told him how she felt. She should have realized he didn’t care what side of town she was from. Then maybe he wouldn’t have been driving that night. Alone, with no one to go home to. But now it was too late. She never saw what was so easy to see now. It hurt that she knew without a doubt, she had lost what really mattered, and she could never hold it for what it had always been.


As she laid a hand on the coffin, so close to his on the smooth surface, she said softly, “I love you, David. Let me know if you see any angels. And how to get that job.”

Then with a soft cry, she turned to go.

And he was gone.

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