Jane’s Way

Jane stepped out to her front porch. The gulf breeze wafted on the air on this cool February morning. Soon Spring heat would settle over the island, but for today, the weather was pleasant.

She donned her bicycle helmet. It had a soft straw cover, befitting a woman of leisure, which she apparently became when she retired. A vibrant sash encircled the brim; she switched these to coordinate with her outfit. Today’s was hot pink, matching her capri pants and her brightly patterned shirt.

She stepped off her porch and walked along side the wax flowers and grasses that graced the front of her little cottage, until she reached the one car garage. After a few punches on the access pad, the garage opened. She ducked in, barely missing the bottom of the door with her hat, then returned with her bike in hand.

It was a simple three-speed beach rider, with oversized wheels, a wide seat, and two saddlebag style baskets at the rear. The aqua blue bike even had a cup holder on the handlebars to hold her iced cold… water. Well, that’s what the kids thought anyway!

Jane lowered the garage door, dropped her wallet and keys in one of the baskets, and mounted the bike. Soon, the breeze was in her face, and she lazily paddled down to the town center. A few times, she kicked her Sketchers covered feet out like a little kid, enjoying the ride.

She arrived at her first stop. As she dismounted, she took in a deep breath. The smells of fresh baked patisserie and bread filled her lungs. It was time for breakfast.

A small crowd gathered at the entrance. Two children ran about their parents and grandparents. The young mother looked up and smiled as Jane approached. “Nice hat! I love it!”

Jane smiled back and responded, “Thanks! Have to stay stylish in my old age.” Then she winked at the girl. “Are you already on the list?”

The group all nodded. Apparently they were all together. So Jane slipped by them and entered the cafe.

“Hi Jane! Come on in and have a seat. They’re waiting for us to put some tables together.” The hostess waved her to a quiet booth out of traffic. “Your usual tea?”

“Yes, thank you, Sarah,” she replied as she loosened and removed her helmet, placing it beside her on the booth.

As she waited, she scrolled through her phone, making comments on her nieces, nephews, and other family posts of pictures. It’s how she stayed connected living so far away.

Her tea arrived and she gently picked it up and took a sip. “Perfect!” She mumbled to herself as Sarah busied herself setting up the table for the large party and escorted them in.

Sarah returned to Jane. “Let’s get your order in,” as she tilted her head to the large party, “We can’t have our favorite customer waiting.”

Jane looked over the menu she had already memorized from her frequent trips and selected a decadent eggs printanier with a side pain au chocolat. “I know, not my typical breakfast.” She winked at Sarah before she wandered back to the kitchen.

Jane returned to her phone and found today’s word games on the New York Times app. She tapped away at the screen, solving the mini. Then she heard a little voice to her side.

A little girl, not more than six, laid her syrup covered hands on Jane’s helmet. “I like your hat. Do they make them in my size?”

Jane looked over and paused. Many would be annoyed to see sticky hands touching their things. But no, not Jane. She just smiled at the cherub face. Sure, she had to clean her helmet, but the angelic smile melted her childless heart.

“I don’t know. But let me see.” Jane clicked away at her phone and found the site. Sure enough they did. “Here, show this to your mom.” She handed her phone over without a second thought.

“Mommy, they do!” She squealed as she toddled over and showed the site to her family.

Her mom sounded surprised and smiled at Jane. “Thank you!” The little girl wandered back and returned her phone.

“Sure, anytime!” Then Jane turned back to her table as Sarah delivered her food. “Thanks, Sarah. Looks delicious!”

Jane savored every bite of her breakfast, then languished over her tea, reading up on today’s events on the island. Not much happens on Tuesdays here, so it would be just another day in paradise.


Brownstone – Part 5

Melissa ran her fingers over the corners of the shell inlaid box. It’s intricate design mesmerized her momentarily. She found the latch and lifted it, then the top seemed to spring open.

Inside, green velvet lined the box. An envelope with her name rested inside. She picked it up, set it aside, then took a look at the contents. A black velvet box greeted her next. She opened it and gasped. A gold diamond and emerald encrusted collar necklace with matching chandelier earrings sparkled.

Why would Jane have this masterpiece?

She picked up the box to look at the stones more closely. The light danced and dazzled off each facet. Melissa was in complete awe of its beauty.

She finally set the jewelry box down. Then she realized why the box was so heavy. The bottom was lined with one Troy ounce gold ingots. There must have been 30 or more stacked on the top layer; and there were several layers.

Melissa sat stunned. What was all this hidden wealth? Hopefully Jane’s letter would explain it.

Melissa’s attention was pulled to the stairway. Kathy’s voiced echoed up, “Everything okay? I have another client and we only allow one person at a time.”

Melissa couldn’t process anything more. She slipped out two bricks for appraisal then placed the necklace back in and sealed the box.

“I’m ready,” she responded to Kathy.

She listened to the clunk of Kathy’s heels up the stairs. When Kathy reached the landing, she inquired, “Will you be taking the box today or keeping it here?”

Melissa stuttered, understanding the value. “Oh, up, definitely keeping it here for now.”

Kathy shook her hand and opened the door to the safe. Melissa walked the box back to its spot and locked it up.

“Thank you, Kathy. I’ll make an appointment next time I plan to stop in.

Melissa patted her pocket to ensure the gold was secure and held Jane’s letter in her hand. Kathy handed her a business card as they walked by the other patron waiting in the lobby.

Melissa smiled at the middle aged woman, dressed to the nines in a Chanel suit. The lady nodded knowingly back.

What has Jane gotten me into? Melissa pondered as she walked home, gripping Jane’s letter even tighter.


Third Degree Burns

This world is small, so, so small,

Everyday it shrinks in size.

But I don’t know how to handle

Three degrees of separation.

I know him. She knows you.

He knows her. It just can’t be.

Is the world really this tiny?

Have we known, gasp,

each other all along?

You know my darkest side,

The one I rarely share.

But now I’m worried;

Are you already in my world?

Should I stop all of it cold

Knowing no good from this will come.

But I’m already addicted;

The attraction is so strong.

Don’t be mad; I just don’t know;

How can I go on?


Brownstone- Part Four

Melissa walked up to the three story brick building from the bank address given to her. It didn’t look like a bank. She pressed the buzzer.

A stern voice came over the p.a. “Do you have an appointment?”

Melissa was caught off guard. She stuttered, “I wasn’t aware I needed one.”

Silence greeted her for 30-seconds. Then the voice boomed, “Well? Who is it?”

“Melissa…Melissa Whitney. My cousin left…”

The speaker cut her off. “No accounts here with that name. Who sent you?”

Flustered, Melissa responded, “As I was about to say, my cousin Jane Millside left me directions to come here.”

Again silence. Melissa looked about anxiously, wondering if she was even in the right place.

“Okay. Come in,” the voice announced as the door buzzed and released. “Someone will be right with you.”

The voice seemed to soften as it trailed off.

Melissa stepped into the building onto a polished marble floor. As she looked around the foyer, she noted touches of ebony and gold inlay fashioned in the art deco style. She remembered how her cousin seemed to love that era, although it was decades before her time.

A stocky woman dressed in slacks and a loose fitting top hobbled toward Melissa. Her face, initially grimaced, turned to a smile upon seeing Melissa.

“Hi, Melissa. Nice to finally meet you. I’m Kathy, I knew your aunt,” Kathy almost oozed as she spoke.

“Nice to meet you,” Melissa shook her hand. “Jane was my cousin technically.”

Kathy just smiled back. “Okay, well, let me show you the way.”

Kathy led Melissa up a flight of red velvet covered stairs. On the landing sat two opposing desk of cherry wood. Beyond the desks were three vault doors.

Melissa thought to herself, what an odd place for a bank.

Kathy sat down at one desk and punched a few keys. “Come here Melissa. This is your console. I will be on the other machine.”

After Kathy stood up, Melissa took a seat and looked over the screen. A camera was pointed at her face ready to take a a photo, and the picture showed up looking back at her. She moved a lock of hair that hung across her forehead.

Kathy’s voice rang out, “Smile!”

Melissa pasted a smile on and the camera snapped. Then the screen turned black for a moment then displayed details about Jane’s accounts with the bank.

Melissa read over them, puzzled. “What is this list?”

Kathy sighed, “Oh dear, she didn’t get to tell you. Well, I guess I will have to show you.” Kathy abruptly stood up, almost toppling her chair over. She straightened her blouse, then waved to the third vault. “No time like the present!”

Kathy placed her hand on what looked to be a tablet, then had Melissa do the same. “There, I have transferred Jane’s accounts to you. You may enter when you are ready. Just spin the handle on the gear.”

Melissa felt like she was about to open the door to a prize on some tv game show as she cranked the gear. The thought What’s behind door number three? played in her mind. Finally the lock clicked loose and the door started to open. She hesitantly walked inside.

“You have the key, dear?” Kathy questioned from outside the vault.

Melissa shook her head then looked around the room to various lock boxes of differing sizes. She pulled the key up and realized there was a small inscription on it with the number 410.

The key seemed to guide her to a medium sized lockbox in the far corner of the room. She walked over and gently guided the key into the lock. The door opened and revealed another box inside.

“Go ahead, you can take it out and bring it from the vault,” Kathy beckoned.

The box was heavier than its size would predict. Melissa lugged the small box out and made her way to the desk.

As she stepped out, Kathy pushed the vault door closed and it made an echoing thud. “Don’t worry dear. We’ll put it back when you are done. I am going to give you some time to go through the contents. If you need me, just ring that little bell on the corner of the desk. I will be just downstairs.”

With that, Kathy left the second floor landing and Melissa was left alone to discover what Jane had left for her now.


Brownstone – Part 3

Melissa woke up to light streaming into her third floor bedroom. The room seemed to magically come alive in the light. The new day was filled with lots to do to begin settling in to Jane’s home…her home.

She sat thinking for a bit. How would she keep this house? Surely the taxes alone will strain her current income. Maybe renting rooms will help. Something more for her to investigate.

Melissa had a few more mysteries to untangle today. First up was a visit to that bank. But first, a shower, then tea. She hoped there was some tea in the kitchen; if not, a stop at Starbucks would have to do.

As she stepped into the bathroom, she whispered “Thank you.” Cousin Jane had pre-arranged leaving the utilities on for a month in the will and even had the probate lawyer stage toiletries in the bathroom for Melissa to use. One less thing to worry about!

The water pipes squealed and clanged as the water made its way to the shower head. The water was chilly, but slowly warmed up. Melissa was surprised by the flow. The shower had great water pressure for its age, better than her itty bitty apartment.

After showering she headed downstairs. The fourth tread down popped as she stepped off of it. She turned and realized is was loose, making a mental note to address it…and to be careful with it until then.

When she entered at the kitchen, she saw a beautiful tea caddy and a tea kettle. She couldn’t recall seeing them the previous night, but she smiled. However, when she opened the tea caddy, instead of tea she found a hand scrawled note.

Sometimes, there are things you just need to take care of for yourself! ❤️, Jane

She snickered to herself, then grabbed her purse and keys. Under her breath, she sighed, “Starbucks it is,” then headed out for a another day full of adventure.


Nap Time

Exhaustion overtook her, she stripped to her bra and slipped into bed. The sheet loosely gathered over her waist to keep the breeze from the fan off her legs. Swiftly, she drifted to sleep.

Gray clouds rolled in with the cold front. The winds outside picked up. The perfect weather to sleep the afternoon away. Her shadow, a little 10 pound Burmese mix seal point cat, curled into the cove made as she snoozed on her side.

She felt a man’s hand softly follow her side as he slid into bed. His gentle touch assured her. He snuggled into her back, tucking his knees into hers. His breath on her neck calmed her.

He draped his arm over her waist and pulled her in. She felt safe in his arm and together they drifted back to sleep.

When she woke, he was gone, but her fur-baby remained. She patted his little head as he stretched awake. What a nice little dream.


Brownstone – Part 2

Melissa headed down the two flights of stairs to the main floor, picked up the keys, then headed down to the locked basement. She expected a dark, dank dungeon-like area. When she opened the door and flicked on the lights, she was surprised to find a finished basement. The washer and dryer area had a nice folding area and hanging rack. Supplies to wash the linens were already here, as if it were waiting for a guest.

She loaded the washer and started it, then looked around. The basement seemed undersized compared to the other floors. She realized a wall cut the space in half. She went to the small door and tried to open it. It was locked. She flipped through the keys and found one that finally unlocked the door.

She walked in and found a studio apartment. Things started making sense to how Jane could afford this place…supplemental income from the apartment. Melissa made a note to call an agent in the morning to find out how to get it listed. The space was fully furnished with a kitchen, bathroom, and a living/bedroom area. She heard the washer start knocking so she headed out of the apartment and locked up.

She balanced the load. It was just about to go into spin mode, so she pulled out a chair by the counter and flipped through her phone. It finally dinged, so she started moving the linens to the dryer. Inside the dryer however was a single item, a black men’s tee. It must have been from a former tenant; she pulled it out, folded it, and set it aside, then finished loading and starting the dryer.

She checked the time; dinner should be arriving in ten minutes. She forgot the long lead times of ordering in when in the city, but today it worked for her. She went back up to the main floor and settled in. She was thankful some furniture was left behind for her to use. It was still a shock that this whole place was hers.

A knock came from the door. Finally, dinner! She opened the door and signed the slip, then took the bag. “Thank you!”

The guy grinned. “Thanks for the tip!”

She was always a bit too generous with her tips, but she knew it was appreciated. “You’re welcome, have a great night!”

She shut and locked the door, then made her way to the kitchen. She ripped open the back to make a temporary plate and assembled her Italian beef sandwich. Then she saw it…honey packets! Only in Chi-Town! She looked forwarded to dunking her fries in honey and ketchup, just like when she was a kid.

Maybe she’ll like being back in the city after all. She finished up dinner and made her way back down to get the linens. As she came back up, she locked up on the first floor then headed up to the top floor, and finally settled in for the night. Maybe all this will make some more sense in the morning after a good night’s sleep.


Brownstone – Part 1

“Here’s the keys..” the lawyer handed her a macrame beaded keychain in red and white. The beads were faded and scratched. “You know how to find it?”

Her hand trembled from shock, but she knew the way. “Wait, so how did this come to me?”

“You are the only living heir.”

Confusion filled her face. “That’s not possible. I have siblings.”

“It’s isn’t blood heir, dear.”

She hated when she was patronized. Her mouth pursed.

“No, it isn’t a family-based heir. It’s what Jane wanted,” his voice trailed off as he picked up the folder from his desk.

“Just take the keys and go. We’re done here.” With his final words he waved her out of his office.

Melissa sat behind the wheel of her Mustang II jalopy. The car creaked as she put it in gear and made her way to the address. She knew the home well; but she didn’t understand why a distant cousin would leave the three story plus basement brownstone to her.

She parked on the urban street just outside. The tree lined street was crowded with walkers and life. Being blocks away from Wrigley Field meant it would always be crowded. She lucked out with the spot.

The aging car door groaned as she opened then closed it. If she slammed it too hard, the rust holding it together could shatter. Now she owned a home worth over a half of a million bucks. She clenched her hand around the keys as she ascended the stairs.

The brownstone was kept immaculately outside. A small welcome mat greeted her at the front door.

She fished out the security code to be ready to disarm the alarm, then unlocked the door. The door handle stuck a bit, so she pulled the door to her, heard the latch release, then finished turning the knob. The door opened into the foyer.

Hardwood floors lined the entry. Boxes littered the home with the last of Jane’s belongings. Melissa walked through the sitting room, then into the kitchen and the back bedroom and bath. The first floor had more square footage than her current apartment.

The next two floors were set up with various sitting and bedrooms. The house was large enough for a family of five or six.

“What am I to do with this?” She proclaimed to the empty halls. She stepped into the last bedroom on the top floor. The bed remained in the room, fully made. On the mantle sat a single envelope with her name scrawled in shaky writing.

She unsealed the envelope and read the letter inside:

Dear Melissa,

I know you are questioning why you, why this home. There are many treasures to unlock in life. This is just one of them.

I hope this sets you well on your path.


Cousin Jane

Enclosed with the letter was a business card to a local bank and another key. Another mystery for Melissa to pursue.

Melissa looked at her watch, but there was not enough time to get to that tonight. She picked up her phone and ordered delivery for dinner, then stripped the bed to launder the sheets down in the basement. Hopefully no more surprises awaited her for the rest of the night.


Down Under

Mindy swirled in the current, flipping her iridescent tail in the streams of sunbeams from above. This was her bliss, being moved without much effort in the ocean streams. such was the delight of mermaids.

Finally the current slowed as it ran into the coral reef. She spun like a spinner dolphin then used her tail to brake and float in a small alcove. She giggled as her stomach fluttered.

A small pod of parrot fish surrounded her, hoping for a little chum. She lifted her finger to her lips and shook her head no. Disheartened, they soon scuttled away.

A deep voice from above bellowed down, “Mindy, what have you found?”

She looked up at the gigantic whale shark floating above her. He was the guardian of this reef. Swiftly she swam up and booped him on the nose, just like he was a cat. “Hey there Blue!”

“Hey now, enough playing!” He protested, then laughed at the impish nature Mindy displayed. “Okay, now, what do you find?”

“Look, have you ever seen anything so beautiful?” Her voice carried her amazement as she moved to his eye so he could see. She slowly opened her hand, which held a sparkling green gem.

Blue released a stream of bubbles from his blowhole and with wisdom in his voice announced, “My dear, that is the gem of happiness. I believe our collection is almost complete with this addition. It will fit perfectly with the pearls and diamond. Soon we will have all we need to protect the reef.”

Mindy flipped with joy. “So I found the right one, eh! Thanks Blue!”

“Now, go store it in the cavern with the others.” The whale shark flicked his tale and began to move on. “More reef to patrol. Later Mindy!”

“Bye, Blue!” She waved at him then swam to the cavern.

Inside, it sparkled of platinum and gold. The sun streaming in from above bounced off the metals and lit it up from all angles. A small treasure box waited on the shelf.

Mindy opened it and looked at their collection, then gently set it down between the black pearl and clear diamond. “Soon, this will be complete.”



Gathered on the front patio, the crowd clattered silverware and chattered loudly. Sarah and her friends sipped on cooling iced tea and snacked on a small charcuterie board.

A plane flew over, engines roaring. It shook the building as it passed over. The patrons looked upon in shock.

Sarah was stunned, her eyes locked on the plane. The plane, a double decker airbus, seemed to stop and float midair for several moments in the sky, like a blimp on game day.

A collective gasp escaped from the crowd as the plane rolled, dove, and debris started flying. The crowd ducked as debris scattered. Shrapnel flew from the plane as it crashed over the trees in the distance.

Sirens began to fill the air as the crowd shuffled away from their covers. Sarah and her friends began heading toward the crash site to help however they could.

The police had set up a perimeter and buses moved people to staging areas. They boarded the full bus and it pulled away.

The travel to the support site felt as though it took hours. Block after block was speckled with fires and smoke. The damage from the plane seemed to stretch for several blocks.

They passed the fuselage of the plane. Dozens of emergency workers worked the scene. Some survivors staggered among the wreckage.

The bus came to a clearing aside two large fields. Smoke rose from the crops. As Sarah and her friends exited the bus, they were handed small shears. The farmer needed help saving his crops as the roses and ears of corn were needed for the towns festival. They weren’t going to be able to save it all, but anything was better than nothing.

Sarah found it odd. But there were hundreds helping throughout the town doing anything they could. She started pruning the roses, placing them in her basket.

She paused to look at one specimen and as she did, her finger brushed upon a thorn. She stuck her finger in her mouth and tasted blood.

Her body shook and she inhaled sharply, finding herself in her bed. What a strange nightmare…or was she really there?