Does Anyone Write Short Stories Anymore?

I like short stories.  I like to write them.  Or I used to.  But I would get done with them and then not know what to do with them.  I have some sitting around…and since I am busy and need to get a post done, I thought maybe I should share one, and see what you think?  Let me know….

So this one, I like a lot for some reason…hope you do too.

The Victrola

Image

Nora Branson walked slowly down the Main Street of her hometown. It was a sunny summer afternoon and she had become bored sitting in the quiet of her small living room. She strolled slowly to enjoy the beautiful day, but also out of necessity.  She had recently turned 80 and although she didn’t feel that much different inside than she did when she was 20 her body felt her age.

Nora liked living in a small town. It made her feel as if the modern age hadn’t reached her part of the world yet. She enjoyed window shopping. It didn’t cost her anything. Besides she never had much extra money to spend after paying her living expenses out of her monthly social security check.

Nora stopped at the antique shop to peer in the window. It always felt like home here. It brought back so many memories of her childhood to see all of the old things for sale. Nora felt strangely drawn to the shop today. She couldn’t really explain it but she knew had to go in.

Nora opened the door and walked inside. Nora loved the smell that greeted her. It was the smell of old things.

“Good afternoon Nora,” said Mrs. Grant, the owner of Memories on Main Street Antiques.

“Good afternoon to you.”

“Is there something I can help you find today?”

“No, I just felt like looking around at your things, thank you.”

“Well, you go right ahead and if you need anything, you just let me know.”

“Thank you, I will.”

Nora started browsing around the store and felt drawn to a table in the rear.  Sitting on the table was an old Victrola record player. Nora found herself staring at it, wanting to touch it. She reached her hand out to it.

“It’s a beauty, isn’t it?”

Nora jumped, startled by Mrs. Grant’s voice.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“Oh, no, I was just looking at this. It is beautiful.”

“We just got that in.  Got it from an estate out East.”

Nora couldn’t take her eyes off of it. She couldn’t walk away from it.

“Are you interested in buying it?”

“Oh, my dear, I love it, but I don’t have that kind of money.”

“Well, maybe we could work out a trade.”

“You would do that?”

“For you, I feel I must.”

“I’m afraid I don’t have much.” Nora looked at the ring on her hand. It had belonged to her great aunt, so she knew it was old, but wondered if it was valuable. “How about this?”

Mrs Grant took the ring and studied it.

“Nora, are you sure?  This is so old and beautiful.”

“Yes, I’m sure. I must have the Victrola. But I am afraid I can’t carry it home.”

“Don’t worry about that. I will have it delivered.”

“Thank you so much. You are so nice.”

Mrs. Grant smiled at Nora. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt like she had just done a very important thing.

Nora sat in her living room chair next to her Victrola. Mrs. Grant’s son had brought it over that afternoon. She couldn’t explain it, but she felt connected somehow to the old record player. It made her feel a bit less lonely.  She didn’t have any family.

Her husband had died thirty years ago and they never had any children. She never remarried. It just didn’t seem right to her. Same had been the love of her life. She could never replace him. Her only sister had died last year. Now there was only herself.

Nora looked at the Victrola. She couldn’t help but wonder the history of it. Who had owned it? Did they play love songs on it? She could feel herself drifting off to a peaceful sleep.

When Nora awoke she could hear the sound of music playing. She hadn’t turned on the Victrola, yet there was a beautiful love song playing on it. She listened for a few moments hearing the words “All That I Want is You” being sung. Funny, she didn’t even know she had any records for the Victrola.

Suddenly there was a hand reaching out to her. It belonged to a young man. His dark suit was trim and close-fitting and his black hair was short and sleek. He had the most beautiful brown eyes that Nora had ever seen. She put her hand into his and he helped her stand up. She couldn’t take her eyes off him. He drew her to him and they began to dance to the music.

Nora looked down at herself. She was dressed in a rose lame evening gown. It was stunning. It was showered with rhinestones, silver and robin’s egg blue beads and faux pearls. At the shoulders, robin’s egg blue and silver beading formed two four-petal blossoms. The silver and blue beading on the front and back formed a complex flower pattern. Tulle of matching robin’s egg blue formed a flounce at the hem of the skirt. It was magnificent.

As the two of them twirled and danced, Nora caught an image of them in the living room mirror. They were breathtaking. And she was so young. How could this be? Nora laughed and danced and relished ever minute of this wonderful moment.

The song stopped and Nora awoke.  She looked around. I must have been dreaming, she thought. How else could anything explain it? She felt refreshed and more content than she had in years. She felt drawn to the Victrola. She stood up and touched it.

The next night Nora was again sitting in her living room chair enjoying the quiet of the evening. She didn’t own a television. She didn’t see any reason for them.

The sun set and Nora again felt herself drifting off. Once again, she heard the music playing from the Victrola. She listened for awhile with her eyes closed. When she opened them finally, the same young man stood before her, hand outstretched, once again beckoning her to dance with him.

Nora once again put her hand in his and let him lead her in a wonderful night of dancing. She couldn’t ever remember feeling this way. Not even when she was young. Not even with Sam.

She wondered who this young man was. This young man with the beautiful eyes and sparkling smile. He was so light on his feet and he made her feel so good inside.

Too soon the music was over and Nora was once again awake. She was in her chair in the quiet of her living room. It didn’t seem as lonely as it had just a few days ago. Nora couldn’t quite explain it. She hoped she never quit dreaming about her young man and their lovely dancing.

Nora felt unusually young and full of energy. She decided to take another walk and found herself once again at the same antique shop where she had got the Victrola. She went inside, wanting to thank Mrs. Grant for the wonderful thing she had done for her.

“Hello, Nora. I didn’t expect to see you here again so soon.”

“Hello to you, Mrs. Grant! I just was out for a walk and decided to drop in and thank you so much for trading me for the Victrola. It is so lovely.”

“You’re welcome, Nora. I’m glad it found such a nice home. It’s too bad it didn’t have some music with it so you could try it out.”

“Yes, that’s too bad.” Nora smiled to herself, remembering the wonderful music.

“I was wondering, Mrs. Grant, if you had anything else from that estate sale where you got the Victrola?”

“About the only thing we have left is an old photo album. I doubt we’ll ever sell it. It is fun to look at the old pictures, though.”

“May I look at it?”

“Of course. Follow me, it’s back here.”

Nora followed Mrs. Grant to the back of the store. She couldn’t explain the feeling of anticipation that was welling up inside of her.

“Here it is. Take your time if you want. There is a chair that you can sit at by the table.”

“Thank you so much.”

Nora took the album of old photos and sat at the table. Her old feet needed a rest after walking to the shop. She slowly turned the pages.

There there he was! The young man of her dreams. The same black hair. The same trim suit. The same sparkling smile and the same eyes that had looked at her while they were dancing. Nora drew in a deep breath. Had she seen this before? How could she know how he looked?

“Find anything interesting?”

“Do you know who this is?” Nora asked Mrs. Grant.

“No not really. I just know that it came in the same stuff as the Victrola. Someone you recognize?”
Nora hesitated before answering. “No not really. He just seemed familiar that’s all. I was curious. Well, I better be going.”

“Wait, let me look at the back of the picture. Maybe someone wrote a name on it.”

Nora waiting while Mrs. Grant took the picture and turned it over. “Well, look at that. It just says ‘Sam’. Just like your Sam. Funny little coincidence.”

Nora was speechless.

“Nora? Are you okay?”

“Oh, I am fine,” she said wiping a tear from her eye. “Just made me think of my Sam. I had better be going. It’s getting late and I’ve taken up enough of your time.” Nora got up and started for the front of the store.

“Nora, wait. Take this with you. I want you to have it.”

“I couldn’t, I have no money.”

“That doesn’t matter. I really think it belongs with you.”

“Thank you, I don’t know what to say. Thank you.”

Nora headed out the door and walked back to her house. She locked the front door and sat in her living room chair. The photo album was in her lap. She sat with it in her lap without opening it. Once again she drifted off to sleep.

Nora opened her eyes when she heard the familiar music playing. She smiled when she saw the young man ‘Sam’ holding his hand out to her. The feel of his hand was becoming familiar and comforting to Nora. She was once again young and vibrant. Same and Nora danced for what seemed like hours. He always had the same suit on and she always wore that same rose lame dress that flowed and glistened with each movement. They never said a word while they danced. He just held her in his arms as they danced to the love song coming from the Victrola. Nora felt so alive while in his arms moving around her living room.

Nora was still in her living room chair the next morning. She was still holding on to the photo album. She couldn’t believe that she had slept there all night. Even more unbelievable was the fact that she felt completely rested and not stiff at all from sleeping in the chair. She looked down at the photo album. She hadn’t even finished looking at it yet. She had fallen asleep so quickly.

Nora opened the old photo album and started once again to look through all the old pictures. She wondered what the lives of the people in the photos had been like. She came again to the picture of the young man in her dreams. She turned it over. ‘Sam.’ How could he be named anything else, she wondered. She imagined what Sam must have been like. Much like her own Sam, she thought. Kind and loving. She just knew it. Nora replaced the picture and continued on.

The last picture in the album made her freeze on the spot. It was a picture of two young people. One was Sam and he was dancing with a young woman. She had on a beautiful flowing sparkling evening dress and Nora was sure it must be rose lame with blue and silver beading. In the picture was the very Victrola that now made its home in Nora’s living room. Nora’s hand was shaking as she lifted the picture from the album. She held her breath while she turned it over. It said,

‘Newlyweds, Sam and Nora. Dancing to their favorite song. “All I Want is You.”‘

Nora held on to that picture for a very long time. She never really understood her connection to the other Sam and Nora, but something had drawn her to that shop and the Victrola and back to the album.

Each night for the rest of her life, Nora fell asleep and danced with the young Sam. She never felt lonely again. When they found her dead in her chair a few months later it was said that they could hear faraway music playing and the sound of young laughter. Nora had once again found her love, her Sam.

4 comments

  1. I’m reading a book of short stories by Elizabeth Berg called “The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted.” Around 15 really great short stories by a gifted novel writer. You may want to check it out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s