Short Story By: Kelli Green
Nora traded her pale yellow chiffon dress and white kitten heels for a pair of loose fitting blue pants, and a pink t-shirt with little daisies around the collar. She slid her feet into a pair of slides and headed to the kitchen to grab her lunch and take it out on the porch. Once she got outside she took a minute to pull up the music library on her phone and press shuffle before settling in and unwrapping her sub.
Nora ate and embraced the soft breeze as Nancy Wilson serenaded her with songs about love. As she finished her last few bites she picked up her phone and scrolled through her social media. She chuckled softly to herself as she came across a photo of her five year old great-granddaughter, Lani. Lani was smiling as big as day with a missing tooth and glasses much too big for her small face. Her hair was pulled back into the strictest of buns, making her look like a child impersonating a grandma.
“Bless her sweet heart,” Nora laughed before placing a heart emoji in the comments.
“Excuse me, Ms?” A man called out from the sidewalk.
“Yes sir?” She smiled, shielding her eyes from the sun.
The man smiled back and raised his sunglasses before bowing his head in a friendly greeting. She appreciated the gesture but from where she was all she could really see was that he had on all white and his hair was silver. Perhaps it was the sun, but she couldn’t focus on any of his other features no matter how hard she tried.
“May I,” he asked as he tapped his foot on the first step that led up to her porch.
“Sure darling,” Nora nodded.
“Thank you,” the man continued up the steps and reached out to shake her hand.
Nora met him half way.
“What can I do for you?”
“Well, I’m looking for my friend; he lives across the street,” the man pointed at the house across from Nora. Nora squinted at it and searched her brain for a clear image of her neighbor, but she couldn’t really place him.
“Oh, honestly I haven’t truly met him yet,” she apologized.
“I understand, he’s only been there for about two weeks.”
“Is that all,” Nora laughed. “I’m losing track of time.”
“That’s alright. Time isn’t real, you know? A minute can change everything, and yet decades can go by and some things can remain untouched,” the man smiled at her.
His smile felt familiar, but she was almost certain she didn’t know this tall and charming man. Still she asked, “are you from around here?”
“I can’t say that I am,” he shook his head and patted his knees. “Do you mind if I wait for my friend?” he pointed at the chair next to her.
“Go right ahead.”
The man smiled graciously and took his seat.
“Oh, are you thirsty?” She stood up to get another glass.
“No. No, don’t worry about me,” he shook his head.
Nora hesitated but he insisted she get comfortable and sit with him.
“So, what’s a young lady like yourself doing out here on a Sunday afternoon?”
Nora laughed, “well I always have my lunch out here on Sundays after church.”
“Yes sir,” she assured him and took another drink of water. “Been routine more or less, for the last fifty years.”
“That’s dedication,” he sat back with an amazed look.
“You could say that. I enjoy it. I’ve grown very fond of my Sundays.”
“What about your Mondays?”
“Well, you know what they say about rainy days and Mondays…” Nora replied as she
ran her hand between her white curls before resting her head on her hand.
“They give you the blues?” The man asked with a look of concern on his face.
Nora smiled but looked away, turning her attention to a tree in the yard.
“There’s something on your mind,” the man remarked.
“Often,” she laughed. She was going to change the subject but something in his smile
“I suppose you aren’t the only one waiting for someone to come home,”she spoke softly and closed her eyes for a moment.
“I know you say you aren’t from here, but back in the day we used to have this club called, The Firepit over on Rose street. It was always hot as hot could get, and the drinks were never cold enough. Jimmy, my guy back then, we would always complain and swear we’d find a different club. We never did,” Nora laughed, and the man chuckled in response.
“Oh but, Jimmy and I would still dance for hours. Most times we’d make our way back outside for a little air and just keep on dancing,” her mouth curled up in a smile as she reminisced.
“Sounds like fun.”
“It was. It was always so much fun,” Nora opened her eyes again and took another sip of water.
“Jimmy proposed to me right there,” she pointed out to the sidewalk in front of her home as a tear rolled down her cheek.
The man quickly pulled out a handkerchief and knelt by her side.“I’m sorry to bring up hard memories,” he apologized.
“I’m sorry to become so emotional with you. I’m sure you didn’t plan on comforting an old woman while she cried about the past,” Nora laughed with embarrassment.
“No need to apologize,” he assured her. “A broken heart doesn’t have manners.”
Nora nodded and dabbed her eyes with his cloth.
“He would go away on business a lot. He was in sales, you see?” She continued with her story.
“He always came back, and the last trip he went on was only for a couple of days. He was going to Baltimore and he’d be back Sunday afternoon,” she bit her knuckle in thought.
“Sunday came and went a total of three times before I finally got in touch with his agency. They told me there was a massive explosion at his hotel. They never confirmed where he was when it happened.
“One week they told me it was possible he wasn’t even there. Then the next month they told me he might be one of the unnamed victims in the hospital. By the next year all of the patients had been discharged or claimed by relatives, and no one had ever bothered to tell me so. I never got a straight answer. For all I know, he’s well and alive. I hoped so anyhow. I used to have this fantasy that he had amnesia and went home on his own only to remember one day who he was and he’d come right up that sidewalk smiling one more time.
“So you know,” Nora shrugged and let out a painful laugh. “Mondays aren’t my favorite, because they always mean that yet another Sunday has come and gone.”
“So you’ve been waiting for him all these years,” the man asked with a hint of pain in his voice.
“Well, I moved on. I’ve lived my life, don’t worry,” she smiled and reached out to tap him on the knee. “I had boyfriends here and there. Though if I’m being honest, it isn’t hard to realize why it never really worked out. But still, I had a daughter and I’m a great-grandmother now. I was an accountant for 40 years, and I work on the welcome committee at my church. I have a life. I haven’t been living like Miss, Havisham; but I can’t help but wait on Sundays.
Just as she finished her story, a man pulled into the driveway across the street. He got out of his car and simply waved at Nora and the man.
“Oh there’s your friend,” Nora said as she waved back. “I’ve taken enough of your time,” she patted his shoulder as a farewell.
“Well, like I said, time really is peculiar,” the man smiled and placed his hand on hers before standing up. As he stood, the Ray Charles song she was listening to cut off mid-verse and was replaced with, All of Me by Billie Holiday.
“That’s strange,” Nora raised an eyebrow and inspected her phone.
“Nora, might I have this dance?” The man asked, holding his hand out for her.
“You’re kidding,” Nora laughed. “What about your friend?”
“He’ll be there” he replied, grabbing her hand gently, urging her to stand.
“Well, only if you smile for me,” she teased as she stood up.
“Gladly,” he smiled, nice and big for her.
A shiver ran through her, though she wasn’t sure why. She stared at his mouth as they moved with ease around the porch. They were steady and strong. She didn’t expect to move so effortlessly. It was if she had never had a care or a stiff joint in the world.
“Wait a minute, did you say my name? I don’t remember telling you my name,” she asked suddenly wondering if she had told him and already forgotten.
“I had a lucky guess,” he said as he dipped her and pulled her back up to face him. She squeezed his arm, certain her body wouldn’t agree with the sudden jolting movement, but again she felt more light and loose than ever.
He smiled noticing her shock and another chill surged through her as she studied the shape of his smile, and the way his nose crinkled. She reached up to remove his glasses and gasped.
He was different, and yet the same. His silver hair and eyebrows were unfamiliar, and the wrinkles in his forehead were new; but his eyes were the same sparkling beautiful russet brown that they had always been.
“Jimmy,” she whispered.
He just nodded and kissed her on the forehead. Then he grabbed her face gently with both hands and kissed her on the lips. He turned back to look across the street, and the man in black began to walk closer.
Nora watched this exchange in confusion.“I don’t understand…” Nora began to back away but Jimmy pulled her closer.
“Close your eyes,” he instructed.
“Please,” he pulled her in and held her hand. The song changed and he sang along softly in her ear as he swayed with her.
She looked back at her patio chair and saw herself still sitting there with the neighbor by her side. Her eyes were closed as if she had fallen asleep. Another chill ran down her spine and she trembled, but he just kept singing and swaying. Nora closed her eyes like he asked and pressed into him, letting him lead her.
As they moved, she began to feel hot. She opened her eyes and saw that she was wearing a red dress and black pumps. Her skin was fifty years younger, and jet black hair curled around her face. She looked at Jimmy and he was dressed in black pants and a white button up shirt. His brown hair was cut short. His smile was wide with no wrinkles, just like she remembered it.
She looked around and saw the name , The Firepit in red letters on the front of the old building.
Tears rolled down Nora’s face as she accepted the change of scenery. She grabbed Jimmy’s face and held him for a minute. She obviously had a thousand questions about him, and about herself for that matter; but none of the questions seemed right for the moment.
Instead she simply kissed him and said, “I missed you.”
“I missed you too, Nora; but I didn’t mind waiting,” Jimmy hugged her tight.
Note From The Author: The reason I titled this short story, Waiting For GODot is because I saw the prompt and couldn’t resist a pun. Waiting For Godot, is a play about two people waiting for someone named, Godot but he never comes. I’ve never seen it but I’ve heard it referenced. So I wrote a story about a woman who has been waiting…and waiting…and waiting. She isn’t exactly waiting for God literally, but she is waiting for a miracle. She’s waiting to see the love she has missed for so long. She comes out to her porch every Sunday and silently asks for God to show her something. In all these years, who knows what miracles she’s seen. We only know the one miracle she’s always wanted…and here it is. God may not have delivered Jimmy to her as fast as she wanted, but …time is strange.
This story was inspired by a prompt from a Reedsy contest, which I did not win; but enjoyed participating in!
I hope you enjoyed reading it.