Today’s Daily Prompt is called, “Island of Misfits.” We all have something we’d like to write about that doesn’t really “fit” our blog. Write it anyway. I decided to adapt the opening title of the prompt for a flash fiction post.
Middle Class Misfits
“But Jace,” Min whined, “You’re gone so much lately! We hardly get to spend any time together. I practically have to make an appointment to see my own husband! Can’t you take some time off?”
“Sorry, Babe, you know I’d love to spend the day together and we’ll do that real soon. But right now, I’ve got to get going ’cause I don’t want to be late!” he said, blowing her a kiss.
He was out the door just like that. Just like every morning when Jace rushed out, coffee in one hand, keys in the other. Jace looked like an eager teenager on the first day of his first job. He had ‘ bright future’ written all over his 65-year-old face.
Min watched as Jace trotted to the car and took off. She really had no plans herself. The house was perfectly kept, all the bills were paid, the landscapers were taking care of the lawn. Planning dinner was the extent of her exciting future.
“What kind of retirement life is this?” Min complained on the phone to Helen, her best friend. “The man retires and we’re finally free to do whatever we want and he goes and volunteers full time! He treats it like the most important job in the world! And here I sit— bored, sad, and feeling awfully old! We talked about going to Europe but it doesn’t look like that will happen. Not this year.” Min paused, “Maybe never, Helen.”
“Min, I hate to say this, but if he’s spending that much time away from home, he is up to something.” Helen carped, “Has he ever cheated? Does he gamble?”
“No! Absolutely not! How could you even ask such a thing?” Min was annoyed.
“Because, Min, nobody loves to work that much,” Helen insisted. “Work is a necessary evil. If you keep your nose to the grindstone long enough, you can stop working and enjoy a little freedom. You and Jace have earned your retirement and this is the time in your lives when you should be slowing down and taking it easy. You two should be enjoying the security you’ve built over the years and spending time together while you’re still can.”
“So they say,” Min sobbed, “But that isn’t how it’s working out for us.”
Min stifled her tears, knowing full well she was overindulging in pure drama-queen mode. Her Jace was an honest man with good intentions. Isn’t that why he was working over at their church— to help people? Jace always did love to help.
“Helen, I gotta get off the phone,” said Min.
“Well, if I were you, I’d go find out for myself what’s going on. That’s all I’m saying,” snorted Helen. “You’d better find out sooner than later.”
It took a while to pull herself together, but Min got dressed, put on some lipstick and climbed into her car. “Yes,” she decided, “I will go down there and see for myself.”
Min stopped for drive-thru coffee and ordered lattes for herself and Jace. “He’ll like that,” she thought.
“How’s your day?” the twenty-something at the window asked. “Thank goodness we’re almost through Hump Day, right? Do you still have to work today or are you done?” he asked.
“I don’t work,” answered Min,
“I’m not so sure I’d call it ‘lucky,'” Min said.
Min drove on. “Just a coffee shop peddler,” she fumed. “What does he know about real work? Hump day! As if he suffers to get through a week of brewing coffee and making change! What’s he do on the weekend, sit at the coffee shop himself sipping an icy drink while he watches other people work?”
“Well I may be bored,” Min sighed, “but I could never work at a place like that. What would be the point?”
Min pulled into the church parking lot taking the last spot. “Wow, there are a lot of cars here for a Wednesday,” she thought, “I wonder if something special is going on. Maybe that’s why Jace was in such a hurry.”
“Hello Min!” said the receptionist, “Here to see Jace? Looks like you brought him a treat! I’ll get him up here.”
“Hi Paulette,” Min said with a smile. Min liked Paulette a lot. She was always so genuinely friendly when she greeted people. “”Such a lovely woman,” Min thought, “She got a smile out of me, didn’t she?”
Min looked around while she waited for Jace. A group of kids and parents were getting ready to go out with two of the staff for a volunteer neighborhood clean-up. The children were laughing and excited as the adults rounded them up and got them out the door.
Everywhere Min looked there were busy people doing all kinds of things. “They all look so happy and productive!” Min thought, “They are the lucky ones.”
In another room there was a burst of applause. Min took a peek and saw five people standing in front of an audience describing their trip to South America where they had been helping disaster victims. Min listened while one young woman told a beautiful story of how she helped a family get through their ordeal and start on the road to recovery. Min was impressed with her generous dedication. “Helen would never understand this kind of drive and purpose,” Min thought.
Just then Jace appeared. He wore a grin that was practically too big for his face. “Hi Honey! Wow, thanks for the coffee!”
They stood arm in arm, listening to the volunteers talk about their experiences helping the South Americans. The team was going back next week and said they needed more help.
“It’s definitely not a vacation,” said the young woman, ‘It’s hard work but it’s a fantastic opportunity that you’ll never regret. They need food, water . . . everything. Who wants to help?”
A hand shot up! Another burst of applause and cheers filled the room. Then another hand shot up! “I’ve got to keep up with my adventurous wife!” said Jace, looking at Mim. She was glowing.