Finish the Story — Andrei and Eartha

BBAE266B-AC7F-4CA6-9318-51DE5DF0CAF5Teresa, over at The Mapless Wanderer, tagged me for her latest Finish the Story prompt. The rules for this challenge are simple.

* Copy and paste the story as you receive it.
* Add the next segment or choose to finish it.
* Tag someone for the next installment.
* Have fun and let your imagination roam free.

Here’s how Teresa got this started.

It all started with a hastily written, albeit vague, note left in an old book.

“To the one I love,
Meet me at our spot.”

Andrei browsed the shelves at Jim’s Used Books, not looking for anything in particular when he spotted an a gray and silver spine. Huh? He pulled out the book, tracing the strangely familiar symbol on its cover. No title? No author? Lemon and a hint of peppermint floated in the air as he opened the book.

A small piece of paper floated gently to the floor and caught his attention. A simple handwritten note on tanning paper. His fingers tingled as he picked it up and read it. Without giving the book a second thought, he placed it back on the shelf, tucked the note into his jacket pocket and left the store.

***

Eartha had just settled into the booth at Phil’s Cafe, plugged in her laptop, and opened her latest manuscript draft. There was nowhere better to write a contemporary story than the corner of a busy cafe in the University district. So many snippets of passing conversations ended up in her stories without anyone knowing.

She giggled as a young couple argued over whether pineapple belonged on pizza, and another pair of young men, probably football fans by their non-player jerseys, debated the finer points of surviving a bullet hell.

Jasper brought over her order and smiled. “Someone left this the other day and I asked Phil if I could give it to you since no one claimed it.” He pulled a small, red leather journal with a heart pressed into its cover out of his apron pouch, smiling.

“Really?” She beamed. “Thanks.”

He grinned, nodded, and returned to his work.

She examined the journal and paused before opening it. “What if it’s like personal? That poor person.” Okay. If it is personal, I’m going to find the person who lost it and return it.

As she opened the front cover, a small piece of paper flitted into her lap. Giggling, she picked it up and read the pristine handwriting. Fancy script from long ago. Her smile faded as she tucked the journal into her bag, unplugged the laptop, put it away, and left her untouched pizza on the table with a ten dollar bill.

***

Andrei wandered to the nearest rail line and stood by the long row of windows that overlooked the tracks. Lemon, peppermint, and pineapple tickled his nose. He glanced up and saw a beautiful young lady walking toward him. She paused at the other end of the hall and gazed out across the tracks.

His heart fluttered and the note’s message played in his mind.

The longer he watched her, the more he felt he knew her. Compelled to speak to her, he walked toward her and …


And now for my contribution.

… said, “Excuse me, miss, but you look awfully familiar. Have we ever met?”

Eartha looked at the man. She admitted that there was a spark of recognition, but she was unable to recall a time or place. She figured maybe she had seen him around town or perhaps at Phil’s. “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I know you,” she said.

“My name is Andrei,” he said, “and I know this is going to sound crazy, but a very strange note fell out of a book I picked up at a used book store in town. And after reading it, I felt compelled to come here. Then, when I saw you, an overwhelming feeling that you are the reason I’m here came over me.”

Eartha turned pale upon hearing Andrei’s words. “What did the note you found in the book say?” She asked.

Andrei pulled the note out of his pocket and started to read it. “It said, ‘To the one I love.’”

Eartha interrupted Andrei and finished the note, “‘Meet me at our spot,’ right?”

“How did you know that?” Andrei asked.

“I found the same note in a journal that someone handed to me this morning,” Eartha said, showing the note to him. “And like you, I felt the need to come here to this rail station.”

Andrei gazed at the note. “You found this in a journal? May I see it?”

Eartha opened her bag and handed the small, red leather journal with a heart pressed into its cover to Andrei. “Oh my God,” Andrei said as tears started flowing down his cheeks.


And I’m going to tag Susan, over at Susan’s Place, to pick things up from here. I hope she will.

And Here We Are

CFAA25FC-A156-4430-9217-67A373B1CA18I started blogging in 2005. I geared my blog for an audience of one — me. It was more of an online journal than anything else. I had no regular schedule. Sometimes, life interrupted and I’d go for months without posting. Ultimately, I got bored and stopped blogging.

Then I started a new blog in 2009. This time I tried to be more “regular,” posting at least weekly and occasionally a few times a week. I also aimed this restart for a broader audience. Rather than being a personal journal, I was expressing my opinions, sharing my observations, offering my perspectives.

Unfortunately, no one was listening. I accumulated almost no followers and rarely got any comments. Of course, I wasn’t on WordPress. I was using a platform called TypePad.

I told a friend that I felt like my blog was like that tree that falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it. It wasn’t making a sound. He said, “Maybe you should restart your blog on WordPress.”

So I did. In 2013. And suddenly there were a lot of people hearing my tree fall. One of my posts got “Freshly Pressed,” and received tons of likes and comments. And my blog started getting a lot of followers.

But something weird happened. My blog took over my life. I became obsessed by it. I became driven by the number of likes and comments each post would get. I checked every day to see how many new followers I got.

My blog was running my life. And ruining my life. Everything else — my job, my wife, my kids — took a backseat to my blog. My life was falling apart.

And when I almost lost my family, I quit blogging. Cold turkey, as they say.

That was three years ago. I rededicated myself relationship with my wife and kids. I focused on my work. I pulled my life back together.

At the end of 2016 I retired. My wife, who was not used to me hanging around during the weekdays, was desperate for me to find something to do that would get me out of her hair. “Why don’t you restart your blog?” she suggested.

So last May, the time was right to once again restart my blog.

And here we are.


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “restart.”