Good Morning Aboard Caralee

Their movements were automatic with a choreograph-like smoothness.  In a galley smaller than most American coat closets, this was an accomplishment. The 45 foot Caralee housed all of their worldly possessions and had transported them to exotic ports all over the globe.

He reached for bowls while she filled a pot with water. He struck a match to light the flame on the stove as she pulled out spoons from the drawer. She placed the pot on the burner while taking a box of oats out of the cupboard.

When hands were not occupied with tasks, they would glide across or alight upon the other’s body; a brush down the back, coming to rest on a shoulder, a hip or making a light tap on the behind.

Oats were added when the water boiled, the pot covered and the heat turned down. During the brief pause in their morning dance, their eyes lingered on each other; they smiled.

He enjoyed watching the light play across the pink facets of the pendant that always hung around her neck. A gift he’d presented to her some thirty-five years earlier on the day that Asmara was born. Their only child had been conceived above deck, on a warm night, under a ripe Sri Lankan moon.

Sitting hip to hip at the tiny table, they held hands as they ate. Her nervous fingers twisted his wedding ring around and around on his finger. She paused occasionally to rub her fingernail over the smooth mound of rose quartz that she’d found in Brazil.

Before taking that first sip of coffee, they clinked mugs together softly. A tradition adopted from their time in the British Isles.  It signified ‘a robust day and a tender heart.’

Photography by: Mark Pepall
Photography by: Mark Pepall

Bundled in coats, they went topside to welcome the sun as it crested the horizon. Elbows resting on the rail they let the cool breeze flow across exposed skin. Smiling, she turned to him, observing the lines on his face and the wiry gray hair that steadily overtook the brown along with the passage of time.  She thought that he looked as good as the day they met…even better. She mouthed the words, ‘olive juice.’ This was a family joke; these words look like something else if one is lip reading. A chuckle from deep in his chest echoed across the water.

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Story Prompt: [reddit writing prompt]

A married couple starts another average morning on an average weekday. No one dies. No twist. Show their overwhelming love for each other without them speaking a single word.

Inspiration:

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PBJ

He will be home in an hour.PBJ

Opening the thick, heat resistant door, I turn my head away from the blast that wants to scorch the beard from my face.  Peering inside the dark cavern, I nod with satisfaction as I see the delicate brown tones that cover the surface of my creation. Inhaling deeply, I smell its yeasty, sugary notes with hints of vanilla.

Out she comes to cool. I say as I slip on an oven mitt and pull out the hot loaf. The sound of my voice reverberates around the stainless steel surfaces of my workspace.

After some hunting, I locate the raspberry and loganberry preserves in the pantry with a satisfied, Ah ha!—this was an enterprise from last fall. My mouth grows moist just thinking the marriage of flavors that I accomplished with that particular batch.

I got up at 3:30 a.m. this morning to roast and grind sunflower seeds, hazel nuts and peanuts into nut butter.

My wife fully appreciates the delicacies that I bring home from work—food that ends up on $1,000 plates and rates the highest Michelin stars.

My son, turns up his nose at these things. He’s been known to spit them out—to the great horror of anyone looking on. He knows that it hurts my feelings. His typical response is, “Daaad, I know!” He rolls his eyes at this point. “You told me over and over that you’ve spent your entire career perfecting your craft. But I don’t like that fancy stuff!”

So here I putter, in my kitchen at home, in between shifts at the restaurant, making the world’s best peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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Story Prompt: WriteOn writing pPrompt: In 500 words or less, tell the story of a chef who strives to create the perfect dish.
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Here’s a musical giggle to go with the PBJ theme.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time song by Chip-man & The Buckwheat Boyz on Amazon

Answered Prayers

A hint of lemons on the ocean breeze coming through the open window brought a wistful smile to Marzia’s face as she pulled more wet laundry from the tiny washing machine. She could already taste those lemons in her mouth at the end of the day.

Carlo would be in the fields now laughing and smiling with the men and women who also worked there. Carlo was always bright and cheerful, not like his sister who’d grown increasingly tired and sour with the years.

Marzia carried a heavy sheet out to the balcony where she added it to the others that swayed and moved with the currents of the warm scented air. Looking down below, she spotted young Theresa and Paulo hiding and giggling near the corner of the market. They didn’t realize that they had an audience as they French kissed and ran their hands over each other in places that would have their mothers squawking.

She remembered when she’d been Theresa’s age, wearing the starched white shirts and pleated skirts of the Catholic school. Toni Marellli had been her boyfriend then. They’d thought that the same corner was private too.  After Carlo’s accident, Toni had gone away. Marzia stalked him sometimes on the internet. The photos of his receding hairline, beer buddies and of his two grown daughters always stayed with her for days. That would have been my life.

When the disaster struck—the one that had left the top half of her brother’s skull missing, Marzia knelt in the surgery waiting room saying prayers on her rosary and begging God to let Carlo live. God had granted that wish. The Doctors warned her that Carlo would probably not live past the age of twenty-five.

They were both in their sixties now. Carlo worked during harvest in the lemon and olive fields perched on the steep slopes of the coastal mountains.  In the early evenings, he sat at the edges of the walkway leading down to the Ligurian Sea. He smiled innocently at the tourists who regarded him with surprised pity. There was never a language barrier for Carlo. Turning his head so that they had a clear view of his injury, he motioned toward his hat lying near his feet. The loose change that he proudly poured into their kitchen table did help make ends meet, as did Mariza’s miniature sketches that she drew of seascapes and buildings in their tiny town. The sheets she washed were destined for tourist beds. At night, she sipped on Carlo’s share of the Limoncello that he received at the conclusion of the harvest season.

In her top dresser drawer was the rosary that she’d used that night. She hadn’t touched it since. If Carlo beat her to the grave, she planned to put it in with his ashes.

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Story Prompt: WriteOn weekend challenge: 500 words or less – “Window”

Inspiration: A trip to Manarola, Italy in Cinque Terra – art and photography by the author

Old Fashioned in the Supper Club

old fashioned-wp

The windows of the narrow row house were securely covered with thick black cloth and the closest neighbors had been handsomely paid to refrain from phoning in to report the unlawful culinary gathering.

Flatware tinkled like wind chimes and upsurges of raucous of laughter added to the air of expectancy as the sensibilities of those present were teased with the rich, luscious aroma of meat.

Inside the hip, ultra-private, underground supper club, two chefs labored to plate the first course of the Nose-to-Snout meal. Stark white porcelain demi dishes provided the foundation for petite piles of mixed greens topped with slices of sweet soft persimmons, plump pink pomegranate seeds, and crumbly croutons. A simple oil and vinaigrette dressing added just a touch of flavor to the plant matter before steaming, melt-in-your-mouth strips of pork belly were artfully arranged on top.

A hush fell over the impatient patrons as a tall willowy brunette strolled to the center of the room. Dressed in a sheath of black satin, she brought Morticia Adams to the forefront of more than a few minds. “We’re not going to describe the food tonight until after you’ve enjoyed it.” Her velvety voice delivered each word in a leisurely pace.

“What I will describe are the ingredients in the cocktail that we paired with this dish.” Elevated eyebrows enhanced eyes that sparkled with mischief, “Whoever is the first to shout out its name will win a prize.”

Servers wearing black and white striped tights under French maid style mini-skirts entered carrying trays laden with tumblers partially filled with amber liquid. They moved efficiently as they set glasses at each table setting.

“Bourbon, bitters, water and sugar…”  The hostess craned her neck to peer expectantly at the bemused faces staring blankly back at her. “What? No mixologists in the house?”

Glasses raised to lips as the mystery beverage was sipped. The hostess smiled when she observed the blooming of euphoric expressions. Behind her, she heard one woman remark to another. “Oh! I remember my parents letting me try this when I was a kid. It tastes like Christmas.”

Spreading her hands wide and raising her shoulders, she exclaimed, “Really? No one remembers this?”

A baritone shouted out from deep in the kitchen, “It’s an Old Fashioned!”

A collective, ‘I-should-have-known’ groan broke out. “Not to worry,” she said, “we can try again in the next round.”

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Story Prompt: WriteOn weekend challenge 1/29/16: in 500 words or less – “Revival”  – imagine what happens when a character tries to revive an outdated fashion.

Inspiration: A meal served at Polly’s Paladar, a private supper club.