Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Second Time Around Short Story

This is the second story I've had published on A Quick Read, a short stories app for the Android Phone. If you go to their website and scroll down and click on the computer image it will take you to the list of stories. "Second Time Around" is under 'Heart-Warming' Stories. Read about the app and my other story on an earlier post here.

I hope you enjoy Second Time Around, printed below!

The day had been rough, and Joan felt every bone groan. She plopped down on the couch like a bag of cement. Her eyes drooped and she fell into a deep nap. It didn't last long.

The kids came slamming through the door.

"Hi, Mom," they yelled. "What's for snacks?"

"Check the fridge," she called back, pushing herself off the couch. Who needed a nap anyway?

They were already chomping down cold pizza.

"How was your day at school?"

Kelly stopped chewing long enough to give Joan a quick hug. She laughed. "It was okay, but I'm glad it's Friday." Jason just nodded agreement.She looked at their exuberant,happy faces. What plans did they have? Would she be included?

It was inevitable she would soon become a lesser part of their lives.

"Hey, Mom, can you drive me out to the skeet range tomorrow?" Jason's question smacked her back to the present.

"Sure, Hon, what time do you want to go?"

Jason shoved the last piece of pizza in his mouth and mumbled, "Early, 'cause there's a new instructor who's gonna teach me to shoot better. He said I need to learn how to follow through on my swing." Jason shrugged. "Dad never really explained that to me."

Jason had learned to shoot skeet before her husband and she had divorced. Phil wasn't meant to be a parent, or a husband, so it had been by mutual agreement. Sometimes she thought it would be nice to be in love again. Still, a single parent was better than two who were always at each others throats.

Early the next morning they headed out to the skeet range. Joan hung back, but Jason raced straight toward his new instructor. She watched them talking. Jason turned and motioned for her to join them. She walked over to where they were standing.

"This is my mom," Jason said, a grin spreading across his freckled face.

"Hi, I'm Steve Brown." He held out his hand.

"Joan," she answered. His strong grip surprised her and a tingle ran up her arm. He was tall with broad shoulders, a shock of wavy black hair, and electric blue eyes. She liked the feel of his hand almost as much as his infectious smile.

"You've got a great kid here, Joan. You must be proud of him."

She nodded agreement.

"Hey, Mom, Steve is new here in town and hasn't had a chance to make any friends yet. Can he come home with us for lunch after my lesson?"

"We've only got sandwiches."

"That would be just fine with me." Steve's eyes met and held hers until she flushed, and felt an unexpected jolt to her stomach.

"Sure," she said a little too quickly. "It's only lunch, right?"

Jason whooped in glee. "See, Steve, I told you she'd like you."

Steve and Jason spent an hour practicing keeping the shotgun slightly in front of the target,then following through before lowering the barrel.

"Pull," Steve yelled, then watched Jason take aim.

If Jason missed, Steve patiently explained, again and again, how important it was to stay in front of the target and follow through. After a while, Jason started pulverizing the clay targets. After each clay explosion, Jason would jump up and down, waving at Joan.

Joan was impressed. Phil never had that kind of patience.

After the session ended, Steve eased his Rambler behind Joan's beat up Chevy and they headed home. Joan's fingers trembled as she put the key in the lock and the door swung wide. It was a long time since a man had been in their house.

Steve followed Jason into the kitchen. Kelly was already putting together left-over roast beef sandwiches.

Steve smiled. "I already know who you are, Kelly. Jason says you're a pretty cool sister."

Kelly smiled coyly. "I've heard a lot about you, too."

Soon all four were devouring sandwiches and cold lemonade. After lunch, Jason and Kelly cleared the table and started washing dishes. Kelly glanced at Joan. Her look said take him outside.

"Would you like to sit in the back yard?" She felt like a teenager hit over the head. When was the last time she had flirted?

They chatted for hours, oblivious to the oncoming purple twilight. The more they talked, the more Joan realized how she had missed male companionship.

Steve looked at his watch and frowned. "I didn't mean to take up so much of your time," he apologized. "I better get going. Will you come to the range with Jason again?"

"Of course, I have to watch how Jason improves."

"That's great, see you soon." As he headed to his car he turned and waved.

Joan waved back, knowing in her heart this was the beginning of her second time around.