Short Stories of Life and Love
By Doriana M. Mercado
Copyright 2017 Doriana M. Mercado
Sunday Morning Millionaires
Sunday mornings are made for dad whipping up warm blueberry pancakes in the kitchen. Mom partaking in her morning decaf coffee and buttery toast at the dining table while I lounge in front of her on the recliner facing the television. This is our ritual. Breakfast as a family and the Sunday Morning Show.
“What do you think they’ll talk about today mom?” I asked.
“Well, they are doing a piece on that Boston art heist from back in 1990 that I want to see,” Mom said.
“Oh yeah, isn’t that painting hanging over the piano a copy of one of the pictures stolen?” I asked.
“Yes, the Vermeer. It’s called, The Concert. I just love the way the little girl plays on the piano. What is she thinking? What is she playing. She just draws me in,” Mom said.
“Speaking of drawing you in, are you ready for a little pancake action?” Dad asked Mom as he flipped her blueberry pancake onto the plate.
“Oh well, if you insist,” Mom said. She wiggled in her chair ready to indulge her first bite.
“So if they never recovered the artwork from that museum, do you think it’s still out there somewhere?” I asked.
“I sure hope so, Diana. Why steal it only to throw it away? Can you imagine such beautiful pieces just collecting dust in an attic or a dumpster?” said Mom.
“What about a garage sale? Ooh and not just any garage sale but the very garage sale we purchased that Sameer painting?” Dad said, chiming in with his two-cents looking to stir the pot.
“VERMEER!” said Mom as she shoved another bite into her mouth.
“That’s what I said. To think we have our very own original SAMEER painting and we only paid like, five dollars for it?” Dad likes to press mom’s buttons. It’s become somewhat of an Olympic sport for him. Anything to make her cringe and laugh at the same time.
“Oh My God mom! Now that I think of it, the family who sold us the painting were from Boston. They were selling a bunch of Boston Red Socks stuff, I remember,” I said.
“Ha! You see, we have an original Sameer,” said Dad.
“Stop it, we do not have a VERMEER! That painting was stolen over twenty years ago. Do you really think it made its way all the way down to Florida? Specifically, Orlando?” Mom jumps up from the table and hustles toward the wall where the painting is hanging. She unhooks it from the wall and brings it over to dad, “Here genius, open up the frame and see for yourself.”
“Such forcefulness. Can we just enjoy our pancakes?” Dad said as he tosses another flap jack onto his plate.
“No, because what if I did buy a stolen painting? What if we have been harboring a valuable piece of art all of these years? Thanks to the two of you, I’m about to turn myself into the police. Open it! Open it now!”
“Mom you can’t be serious. You don’t really think we have an original Sameer, do you?”
“For the last time, it’s a VERMEER, now open it,” Mom said.
We gathered around the dining table as Dad unhooks the backing of the frame. He carefully removes each layer as we crouch over to get a closer view. I’m not even sure how we would know what to look for to validate our suspicions. Dad pulls out the painting and examines it.
“Well?” Mom asks.
“Well, it indeed appears to be an original Sameer,” said Dad.
“What? Are you serious?” said Mom.
“Take a look for yourself.”
Mom grabs the painting to take a look. She pulls the painting closer where she could see the inscription, Made in China 2003. Mom looked up at dad who was sipping on his coffee.
Chuckling to himself, Dad looks up, “Like I said, an original Sameer.”
The name my mother gave is Andy. Nobody has called me Andy in quite a while. In fact, I haven’t heard my name said out loud in almost a year. I know that sounds crazy but you don’t understand. I don’t want to go out, let alone talk to anyone.
I live in apartment 212 in a building that most refer to as that shit-hole on Pine Street. Four walls and a 12-inch television set spouting out endless useless commercials of holiday feasts and favor are what keep me company now. What do I know about holiday feasts anyway? I haven’t had a solid meal in days. I don’t even think I’ve left the couch in days. It’s just become so hard to understand the point of it all but I’m not going to lie. I’m hungry. I guess you can say, I’m in mourning and because I’m mourning, I’m also involuntarily fasting. Fun, I know.
My only family is Jenkins, well, was Jenkins, my dog. It’s why I’m in mourning. Jenkins, was my nine-pound Yorkie who had a ten-feet tall personality. He is my best friend and losing him has been really hard on me. I miss him running around the place. He made getting up in the morning worthwhile. He needed me. To walk him, feed him, pet him. He loved me and in return, he made me feel less alone. Often jumping onto my chest to wake me up each morning. His grey and golden hair would brush my face as he licked my eyeballs to wake up for his morning routine. He enjoyed spending time with me, which was more than I could say for most these days. Jenkins and I would take long walks around the neighborhood as he barked at anyone who came near me. Some people may think that was annoying, but I felt like he was the one living thing that truly protected me. Loved me.
After twelve years of Jenkins by my side, my best friend’s growls and late-night dream whimpers were silenced. His boisterous energy taken away from him as the cancer spread through his tiny little body. I failed him somehow, but then again, I know cancer sucks. Cancer took my grandparents, my parents and now my best friend. When would it take me? I feel like I’m sitting in this apartment waiting for cancer to knock at my door. At this point, I’d welcome it in. Don’t mind me, my head is out of sorts.
A week ago today I was left with only Jenkin’s toys to surround me and memories to comfort me. A raggedy old pillow where Jenkins fell asleep each night still lay on the floor next to me where he would expect it to be. Sometimes I can still feel him running around this apartment. Sometimes I pretend he’s still here.
Truth be told, I spend a lot of evenings wondering what would happen if I ended my life. Suicide is not a joke but I’m not laughing. Would this pain go away? This feeling of being left behind? Maybe I would be greeted with my family on the other side? Jenkins waiting with his wagging stump of a tail waiting for me to come home? Of course, my Catholic background tells me I wouldn’t. But hey, I haven’t been to church is so long, maybe those rules don’t apply anymore. I’m just expediting the process anyway. The evitable demon of darkness always shows up, even as Christmas carols are sung to try make you forget how lonely life can be. I know better Santa, you can’t save me and neither can Jesus.
To feed the beast that bakes me, I make my way to the kitchen in effort to find some source to end this guilt and emptiness. On the fridge is a picture of Jenkins. Beaming brown eyes, smiling with his tongue curled up with excitement. Reminding me of a time when I was actually happy. That was a good day. That particular day we went to the dog park. He ran and ran and ran some more. Free.
I met a girl that day. She was kind and pretty in a different kind of way. I can’t really explain it. She just felt like someone I could get to know and look liked someone I wanted to know. Jenkins jumped into her lap and licked her face a dozen times. Her laugh was infectious. Her name is Julia. I remember because she placed her phone number in my phone. Asked me to call her. I never did. Don’t you see how cool it was to have Jenkins as my little wing man? He knew what was best for me before I did. That’s love. He was more than a pet, but I suppose unless you knew him, you couldn’t understand.
Before me is a bottle of hydrocodone that I have been stocking up since my knee surgery this past summer. I could end it now. Fill my stomach with fuel to die. It sounds so dramatic, but I’m not looking for drama. I’m looking for solution. I’m begging for a way out. I take another look at the photo of Jenkins in the park. His smile, his golden hair blowing in the wind. Happiness. Really, I don’t want to die. I just don’t want to feel like this anymore.
As I gazed into the Jenkins eyes, Julia popped into my head. A vision of her smile. Why didn’t I call her? Jenkins wanted me to meet her. He led me straight to her. Worse, she wanted me to call and I didn’t. What stopped me? Fear? What could she see in me? What if I missed out on a real opportunity? What if she forgot about me? Struggling for an answer, I can feel Jenkin’s energy pouncing with approval urging me to DO something. His smile back at me gave me strength. I pull out my phone and dust off the Cheetos debris and searched for her name in my contacts. I called… she picked up.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Hi Julia,” I replied.
The doorbell rings and I am hesitant to answer. I look through the peep hole and don’t see a person outside. The mail man must have dropped one of my frivolous Amazon purchases off and ran. Not sure why. I open the door and to my surprise what sits before is nothing short of surprising. A package unlike I have ever received. There was no postage stamp. No return address. No Amazon logo. It’s not even wrapped in that ugly brown packaging paper. No, instead there before me lay this little Tiffany blue box dressed with its signature white ribbon, which was sitting on the ground. A small notecard with my name inscribed, To Angela, lay next to the box. My heart stops for more seconds than I can count.
So many thoughts race through my mind. What is this? Is this happening? Where is he? With so many questions bullying my mind, I needed answers. I opened the notecard, it reads; Will you… turn around?
My skin trembles, my eyes instantly fill with tears. Surging with excitement, I turn around and before me is every family member I adore standing before me. I invited them here for dinner, but something is different. I can see it in their eyes. Such joyous expressions lead me to believe they are here for more than just my semi-awesome turkey lasagna, but where is he?
My mother’s glistening smile is reflecting in my tears. I couldn’t register what was happening, not really, not without him here. Time seems to slow down and even then I can’t catch up. My father standing tall with pride. He isn’t much for words or warm hugs but every now and again, my father has a look. I can’t really explain it. It’s just a look that I recognize. His happiness and nervousness mustered up into one. It’s a look I have come to adore. My dog, Roscoe, notorious for not wanting to snuggle seems to be wagging his tail a little bit more, as curious as I. Terrified to assume but curious to know, where is he?
As I wiped away my own tears, the doorbell rings again. To my desired surprise, I turn back around and there on one knee is my boyfriend, Adrian. At the foot of my doorstep where my perfect little blue box had been, is the love of my life. Perfectly him, wearing his lucky New York Yankees baseball cap. His brown eyes looked at me with both admiration and fear. In his eyes I saw our fifteen-year relationship. In his eyes, I saw our forever. I soon realize in this moment, that he isn’t sure if I love him as much he loves me. So it this moment, I took his hand, I hold it tight within mine and I said yes.
About The Author
Doriana Mercado is a 35-year-old author of slice-of-life fiction stories. She enjoys writing about real people, having real conversations and experiences that you can connect to. With love at the core of each story, Doriana focuses on true emotions to tell her stories through love and loss, love and laughter, and most importantly, love and life.
Currently, Doriana, is employed in Hospitality Sales and Marketing in Orlando, Florida, while moonlighting as a creative writing student at Full Sail University.
Email: [email protected]
SHORT STORIES OF LOVE AND LIFE by Doriana Mercado is a collection of slice of life short stories created with the love that only family can conjure. It ventures into the lives of three different families each at different stages in their life. It’s not always easy to love your family but it is always worth it. In “Jenkins”, you meet Andy, who is struggling with the loss of his dog, Jenkins. Locked away his in a small apartment, depression consumes him as he reminisces about the loss and heartache life can bestow upon us. Andy stumbles across a photo of Jenkins which may come to a timely rescue. His pup and once loyal companion may just remind him of his last great day and how it can change his tomorrow. “Sunday Morning Millionaires”, is a light-hearted story about a family who may be harboring stolen artwork. Diana and her kooky parents deliberate over pancakes, to find out if their Vermeer is, in fact, worth a million dollars. “The Moment”, is a charming story about young love and the anticipation of forever. When Angela finds a ring at her doorstep, she journey’s through her own emotions. With the love and support of her family, Angela realizes she has a big decision ahead of her with the man she loves.