Category Archives: Short Story

Bits and pieces of short stories I’m working on.

Vic didn’t know who to be more upset with:  Charles, Michael and Steven, or herself.  She left the girls off the list of possibilities because they’d been as much in the dark as she had.

To let off a little steam, she invited herself to the private table her best friend Claire held for them in her restaurant.

“Look at this!”  She shoved the envelope containing her spa gift card at Claire, making sure it came between Claire’s plate and her mouth.  It was a sure way to get Claire’s attention, after all.

“Yeah, so?  It’s a gift card.  What about it?”

“First of all, it was going to be your birthday present in a couple of weeks.  Now I have to start all over on the search for the amazing gift for you!  Secondly, Michael and Steven gave the exact same thing to the girls, and now they think we’re all going to go together…a girls’ day out or something!”

Claire actually stopped chewing for a moment. “You do have a bit of a problem, don’t you?” She swallowed and took a swig of wine.  “What are you going to do for my birthday now?”

Vic sputtered, trying to make the jump from her train of thought to Claire’s, then saw the glint in her friend’s eye.  “Yes, Claire, of course that’s the biggest problem here.  If I can’t pass my spa stay off on you, how will I ever decide what to get you?  I did cheese of the month club last year, and wine of the month club the year before that, and tulips aren’t edible, so bulb of the month club is out. Should I search for a chocolate of the month club?”

They laughed together, as only friends who have shared years of memories–celebrations, jokes, and even conflict–can.  And as it had been for years, Vic sobered first.  She fidgeted with her napkin, folding it into perfect quadrants, then into a triangle, while Claire shoved another bite of roasted vegetable lasagna into her mouth.  Finally, Claire looked straight into Vic’s eyes.

“Is this really about the spa, Vic?”

“Of course it is!  You know I could never sit still while gook dries on my face…and nails…and hair.”

“And that’s why you’re upset?  Your family loves you enough to send you away for a day of relaxing, and you might get bored?”

Vic didn’t even bother to answer her friend.


Vic, Continued

As it happened, both daughters-in-laws had birthdays within two weeks, and they often chose to celebrate together. This year, Vic offered to host so each girl could have a night off.

As she stepped into the guest bathroom to do a quick swish and swipe, the new towels caught her eye. They were almost hidden in a basket near the tub, and Vic wondered if Janie would be hurt not to find them hanging from the towel rods. The thing was, when she put those fancy towels out, the rest of the bathroom began to look…drab. The buttercream walls she’d always loved, the simple green glass soap pump near the sink–suddenly the bathroom almost seemed in need of a makeover. And if it had reflected who she was, but now needed a makeover, what did that say about her?

It was bad enough, having that frilly apron stare her in the face every time she opened the kitchen drawer she’d stuffed it in. She had tried hanging it from a hook in the pantry, but it seemed to mock her, pointing out to everyone who passed by that it didn’t fit…or that she didn’t.

Vic gave herself a mental shake; she didn’t have time to spend pondering frilly towels and lacy aprons.  Everyone would arrive in an hour, and she still had to wrap gifts.  She’d chosen each gift carefully, trying to pick something that would be meaningful and useful.

For Janie, she had found the first gift at the store Janie worked at.  She knew Janie often admired the items for sale, but couldn’t afford the couture prices.  With a little help from a sales girl willing to point out a few of Janie’s favorites, and a well-timed sale, Vic had managed to purchase a frothy confection of creamy crochet and lace that the sales girl called a wrap.

The second gift, for Emmie, had been a little harder.  She had scoured garden shops, contemplated at nurseries, even wandered into a few home and ranch stores, hoping for something to jump out at her.  Finally, she’d found directions online to create a tinkling wind chime and spent hours assembling the thing.  She was sure Emmie would love it.

The smell of her famous southwest chilli mac seeped into the craft room where Vic was finishing her wrapping job.  She checked the progress of the dish cooking in the dutch oven and started to get the rest of the food on to the table.

Vic, So Far

Vic stared at the package on her lap, almost horrified at the contents, aware that all eyes were watching for her reaction.  Finally, she peeled the rest of the paper and tissue away and held the item up for everyone in the circle to view.  What had Ellie been thinking?  Was she really expected to wear this bit of pink and lace around the house…in front of Charles, even?  She was almost embarrassed just to have it in her hands.

“Thanks, Ellie.  I really appreciate you thinking of my on my birthday.”  Even to Vic’s ears, the words fell a little flat.  She laid the apron back into the gift box and reached for the next package.  This one contained a full set of bathroom towels in a delicate shade of lavendar…with lace and flowers along the edge.  A soft loofah and a bottle of bubble bath were tucked in with the towels.

Again, Vic was at a loss.  Was she expected to use these bits of fluff or just let them sit around and collect dust?  “Wow, Janie.  You really put a lot of thought into this.”

The next item was from Charles.  Surely his gift would be usable, practical.  She had circled a large dutch oven in the Cabela’s catalog, and the vacuum had been squealing for months now.  He handed her a card, and she hoped for a gift card or note explaining that her new dutchie and Hoover were hiding in the garage.  Instead, the card held a gift certificate.  For two days spent at the local spa.  She almost laughed, thinking it a joke, and then saw the ernest, hopeful look on Charles’ face.  Thirty-two years of marriage, and somehow he didn’t know her at all!  “Charles…I don’t even know what to say.  Thank you.”

She gathered up the wrappings and gifts, stowed them on the counter, and moved to the birthday cake.  She’d baked it herself: two layers of white cake frosted with caramel frosting.  She had considered it pretty fancy–until she compared it to this stack of frilly gifts.  What had they all been thinking?

Later, Vic stood in front of the sink, brushing her teeth and scrubbing her face.  She stared into the mirror, evaluating the curves and planes that made up her face.  Clear green eyes gazed back, framed by dark brows and darker hair.  There were laugh lines at the corners of her eyes and the suggestion of more to come near her mouth.  And there was nothing fancy about her at all.  Even the plain t-shirt and pants she wore to bed spoke more to comfort than style.  It ran through her mind again:  What had they all been thinking?


Vic was christened Victoriana Elaine, just about the most feminine name a new mother could come up with for her first daughter.  Unfortunately, Vic’s twin brother came stillborn and Vic’s mother followed him to the quiet plot on the hill behind the church just a few days later.  To Vic’s way of thinking, all her mother ever gave her was an ill-fitting name and a fear of childbirth.

When she was four, Victoriana and her father moved in with her grandfather, and then an uncle found himself crashing on the sofa.  Vic’s name was shortened to Toria, then Torie.  By high school she had forgone the second half of her name and started to go by Vic.  She led her basketball team to championship and gave serious consideration to trying out for the football team.  She hung with the guys and often considered herself to be one of them.

Vic met Charles in college, and the thing she loved most about him was that he never expected her to be something she didn’t want to be.  They went to sporting events together, watched action movies and slugged down beers.  He was the first one to kiss her, and she was surprised at the very womanly response of her body.

She wore a pantsuit to their wedding:  elegant white lines and just a bit of sheen.  She carried a single calla lily and he wore one in his boutinaire.  A handful of  people mistook her young stepmother in white lace for the bride.

Despite her fear of childbirth, Vic gave birth to two sons.  She raised them to be manly men but also taught them the gentleness that a woman seeks.  She was comfortable in her home with her men, and she rarely wondered about the raising of girls, much less wished for it.

And then her men got married.


Vic had three men:  her husband Charles, and two strapping sons:  Steven and Michael.  Both married lovely (if girlish) girls and seemed deeply blissful.  Then Steven was called up for deployment in the current Conflict and he left Janie in the care of his parents.  Vic loved Janie, but while Vic had grown up playing “Davy Crockett” in the woods, Janie must have spent the greater portion of her childhood wearing tiaras and plastic heels.

The guest room quickly went from something Marilla might have decorated in Green Gables to seeming to have the contents of two or three Victorian mansions fitted into it.  Little bits of ribbon and lace appeared on coffee tables (and in the laundry, but that was another story altogether); the fridge was suddenly bedecked with flower and butterfly magnets holding photo after photo of Steven.

But Vic managed.  Occasionally she sighed and returned a particularly feminine item to Janie’s quarters, but she never complained.  She simply went to her own simple suite and closed the door for a while, basking in the creams and sea-blues that refreshed her soul.

Then Michael and Ellie bought the house next door.

Vic was thrilled.  Of course, Ellie soon had the flower gardens blooming with all manner of flora, and Michael happily dug up and raised new beds on the weekends.  There were wrought iron shepherd’s hooks and bird houses and feeders and baths all over the yard, and Vic’s gazing ball on pedestal began to look forlorn in the small bed by the steps.

Yes, Vic loved her girls.  She often watched them when they were unaware, trying to understand them, to see what she was missing–if anything.  She was happy as she was, and they were happy as they were.

So when her birthday celebration rolled around, she couldn’t understand what had happened.  Did they want her to change?  Did even Charles wish she was the sort of person who needed to be pampered and polished?