Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Exotic( 08/08/13)
By PamFord Davis
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Was it kindergarten? No, first grade.
Miss Appleton gathered the class around her straight back desk chair each morning. As youngsters settled, she stood tip-toe and gingerly pulled Treasure Island from the top row of her classic’s bookshelf.
Oh, that Billy… I can still hear him; “Ahoy; mate-ees!”
Regaining focus, she begins to soak in the sights, sounds and scents of her surroundings. Outside, swaying palm trees beckon moon struck lovers to the beach. Rolling waves dash against jagged rocks and the aroma of tropical fruits wafts through her room. She feels a twinge of guilt.
I should not be here.
Always the dutiful daughter, she tended ailing father following the death of her mother, the belle of every ball. Mother’s tales of travel as a debutante were so realistic Rosemary had sniffed the salt of the sea. Now, both parents have deserted her through death.
What was I thinking?
She pictures the Victorian three-story house. There was no one else to sort through trappings left behind by a man and woman born into affluence, yet, who died penniless. Business ventures showing promise ended in failure.
I can deal with that later. I deserve this frivolity.
The full moon casts a captivating shadow at the foot of her bed. Mesmerized, Rosemary wonders if her future holds romance. Surely, there must be someone hungering for companionship as much as she does.
Am I too late?
Drawing the palm of her hand across the contours of her oval face, she traces worry lines. Ruffling her cropped hair, she remembers when it was naturally curly, thick and long. It is not easy to take stock of your physical assets.
Could any man find me alluring?
She kicks aside starched linen sheets, finding it difficult to breathe in the stifling room; the spinster fans herself with a travel brochure.
I hate sweaty nightgowns.
As if present, mother seems to whisper in her ear…
“Ladies do not sweat; we perspire.”
She reaches for the half-empty glass of water on the table and holds it up to her cheek. Condensation from the cold water trickles from the outside of the glass onto her face and she sighs with relief.
I should try to get some sleep.
Rosemary had often counted sheep when trying to silence the voices of anxiety. Tonight would be different.
I don’t have to punch a time clock. I’ll stay up a while…
Hearing the repetitive clicking and whirl of the overhead fan, she gazes above at the ceiling. The blades of the fan morph into beating bongo drums and swaying hula dancers.
Slowly, a smile forms as she imagines trying to squeeze her middle-aged hips into a flimsy grass skirt. The phone beside her rings; startled she reaches to lift the receiver.
“Rosie, you okay?”
“Yes, Billy; I’m fine.”
“I stopped by the library a little before closing time, didn’t see the car in your parking spot. I’m worried about you, trying to work and handle your parent’s affairs…”
“I left early, decided to take a few days off to get my head straight. “
“Rosie, when are you going to give up and let me take care of you?”
She ponders his question and her excuses over the years…
“Rosie, did you hear me?”
Surprising herself by the weakening of her defenses, she replies,
“Yes, William; I’m listening.”
“William? You haven’t called me William since your first day as head librarian and you shushed me in the library!”
The memory of that day brings a rush of emotions. She had worked so hard for the position of head librarian. Standing prim and proper at the front desk, hearing uninhibited Billy laughing loudly, she tried to silence him. Her shushing made more of a scene than his laughter.
“Hey, Rosie. I almost forgot what I wanted to tell you at the library. I was top salesperson last quarter. Guess what the head office is giving me.”
“I give up. What are they giving you?”
“An all expenses paid trip for two to Honolulu! Rats! I’m gettin’ another call, talk to ya’ in the morning.”
Rosemary saves her place in James Michener’s Hawaii adventure with the travel brochure.
Do daydreams still come true?
William is such a dear man…
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