Stubborn Testing

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After the fever, Marla’s bones ached like the marrow was seeping out. She wasn’t a malingerer. She refused medical treatment. Her father encouraged her to carry the pain while it piled up like a bank of snow against her body’s unyielding house. She’d been raised a positive thinker.

Though her steps slowed and she took more frequent rests, Marla, an ecologist, worked outside destroying invasive plants and replacing them with native species. She outpaced her co-workers, cheering them, finally collapsing under a tree.

Diagnosed with Lyme disease, she took a desk job. One of the lucky ones, she got better.

Quick, Do Something

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I join other runners crouching into line. The starting gun sounds. A tennis ball stuck at the bottom of my pocket bumps against my thigh, interfering with the rhythm of running.

Then something amazing happens. A Golden Retriever blocks the inside lane. Several people veer to the right, miraculously avoiding collisions. A few scream, one stops. I whistle.

Clutching the ball, I throw overhand into the grassy oval at the center of the track. Cheers go up as the dog bullets away. He’s caught using a doggie treat and we reassemble. The morning headline reads, “Quick thinking saves the race.”

More To It

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Women liked Anton as a friend. Some reminded him of his mother. They had the same sense of humor and quick efficiency. But he felt nothing of the easy affection that characterized the relationship his parents had.

He hadn’t paid much attention to dating. Too busy busting for A’s. By college, he’d started to wonder whether he was different from his father, though he’d always thought they were the same.

A night of drinking and philosophical discussion with his college roommate changed everything. In the morning, he felt confused. And inspired. And in love with someone who loved him back.

Ace and the Queen of Pentacles

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Ace’s mother cleaned houses. His father held a mortgage on a twenty-acre farm. They wanted more for their son and, like a miracle, he got a full ride at Stanford. Everyone smiled for weeks.

Ace worked hard, the way his parents had. He graduated into a computer job in Silicon Valley. Sending money home every month, he spent his leisure time playing on-line games and running an office pool because it gave him an excuse to calculate odds on sports, world events and romance. But, he never saw love coming, even when Lady Luck said the chances were good.