Tag Archives: dennis finocchiaro

The Translucence of Jellies (Repost)

We stood there, mesmerized by the relaxing, almost magical movements of the hundreds of jellyfish in the tank before us. In slow motion her hand left her side and reached toward mine as the translucent creatures swam around in the large tank, and once I realized her hand’s destination I started moving mine toward hers as well without taking my eyes off the glowing ocean dwellers. The tentacles, like little legs, kick off against nothing as one of the jellies swims in our direction, unaware as yet of the glass keeping it at bay, and I reach my free hand up and press it against the glass as if I could share a moment with this creature. Meanwhile, her fingers grasp and wrap around mine and she pulls a little closer to me as the jellyfish continues on course toward my hand, only to bump up against the glass, turn and swim away.

A Drive-By Crush

Image created by Laura Davies.

Alice was bundled up to stave off the cold. Her long puffy coat went down to her knees, her fingerless gloves had the flaps over her fingers and her wool hat was pulled over her ears to fight off the cold January day.
She approached the bus stop a few minutes early, part of her daily
tradition. The empty little booth called to her and she sat on the
bench only to jump up again as the cold went directly through her coat
and her pants. She laughed to herself and the steam poured
from her mouth. At that moment she focused her attention on the cars
driving by, waiting for the man she recently called a “drive by crush”
to her friend.
Every day, somewhere between 8:15 and 8:22 he drove by in his white
Prius. She couldn’t understand why he chose white; it always looks
dirty no matter how often the car is washed. Alice started to fall for
him one day when he caught her looking and smiled at her. She blushed
and waved gingerly in his direction before looking down at the ground.
In the nicer weather, when his windows were down, she heard the music he listened to, and eventually used her iPhone app to discover the bands he listened to. Mostly indie music. Her favorite one was Belle and Sebastian, and in a vain attempt to catch his attention one dress down Friday at work
she proudly adorned a B&S tee shirt hoping he would notice. He did not
pass her that day.
Now, months later, she knew a little about the music he loved. She
knew his car, that he had a beard, and that the memory of his smile from
that one day warmed her, even in this cold. She saw the car coming
from a few blocks away and leaned against the side of the depot,
ignoring the cold against her shoulder, trying to look nonchalant. As his car halted in the traffic almost directly in front of her, where he usually ended up stopping, she saw his plaid shirt and a dark blue tie that looked to be old, or as her cool coworkers called it, vintage. With the windows up it was
impossible to hear what he listened to, but she assumed it was Belle
and Sebastian because that had become part of him in her mind.
She wanted him to look again. Even though most of her face was hidden
behind a scarf, or maybe because that empowered her a little, she
wanted to see that smile again. Her dream was that he would roll down
the window and ask her to tea, tell her a day and time he would be
there if she wanted to meet him. That he, too, noticed her on his
daily trek to work and had somehow fallen into a drive by crush as
well.
The traffic started moving without even a look, and before Alice knew
it he was gone.
Oh well, she thought. Maybe tomorrow.

Early Morning Invite

“Want to go out to brunch?” she asks me as I sip my early morning tea, dreading the idea of cooking yet again.

“Sure!” I am all for it! It was like she read my mind.

“But I don’t like breakfast food.” Um…whaaaaa?

“Then why did you suggest brunch? And this early?”

“I dunno.”

I have to just sit and think. This makes no sense to me. She breaks the silence first.

“How about a coffee shop instead?”

As I weigh the option of making breakfast and then meeting her, verse paying a ridiculous amount for a breakfast sandwich that’s been sitting out all morning, she breaks my train of thought.

“But I don’t drink coffee.”

“Then why…never mind.”

“I like hot chocolate. Do coffee shops have hot chocolate?”

“Probably,” I respond.

This conversation is hurting my brain.

 

Based on a true story.

Strangers on a Train

As I sat on the train I noticed the people in the seat directly in front of me. She had a big white knitted hat on as protection from the bitter cold of the early Philadelphia morning. His hat was striped and didn’t look nearly as warm. Her head rested on his shoulder and I could see from my vantage point that she was dead asleep. I wondered how long they had been on the train that her slumber could be so deep. Maybe she was just a good sleeper.

I could hear the pages turning in something he read; it sounded more like a book than a newspaper. They have a much louder sound and longer page-turning time. He seemed so relaxed and content on his morning commute. I assumed they knew each other; people need a certain comfort level to rest their head on another’s shoulder. Or maybe that’s just me. Who knows.

My single-ness was a bit painful after seeing two people so comfortable with each other, so relaxed and close. It ate away at me as I looked down at my boots, toes awkwardly pointed inward just the slightest bit, my tights keeping my legs warm and the gray sweater dress that I painstakingly chose this morning in the hope of seeing that guy I have a secret crush on; I can’t help it, I have a thing for sweater vests, what can I say.

I wonder about these two people in front of me. They seem like nice, kind people, a couple I would love to hang out with. They’re about my age, maybe twenty-four or twenty-five at the oldest. While I am dressed for office work, they look like they could be on vacation or possibly going to work in some new trendy company that not only allows jeans, but expects them. I would love to work in a place like that.

The speaker crackles and someone announces Suburban Station, next stop, Suburban Station and he nudges her gently with his shoulder; she looks up. Lines from his coat mark her face and she smiles as her hand wipes the sleep from her eyes. The train hisses and slows, he smiles at her. She gets up, fixes her soft yellow coat, and kisses him on the cheek.

“See you tonight,” he says with a smile. She smiles back and nods, then turns and exits the train.

Artwork by the always lovely and talented Nadia Lavard.

The Sound of Snow

The snow gently glided to the ground and a cold wind blew, forcing Veronika to shiver a little and hold her hot chocolate a bit closer.

“Cold?” a man asked as he passed by her stoop.

“I guess a little.”

“Then why sit out here in such frigid weather?” He stopped walking and leaned on the gate in front of her house. He reminded her of her grandfather for some reason.

“Simple. I love that sound the snow makes as it hits the ground.

The man smiled as he shivered and buttoned up the top of his coat. “I miss that.”

“What do you mean?”

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “My hearing isn’t as good as it used to be. I can’t hear that sound anymore.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No reason to be. It’s part of old age, I guess. I remember the sound, though. That’s what makes me take these little walks late at night in weather like this. Brings me back.”

She smiled and took a sip of her drink, knowing full well it would probably burn her tongue. It did, and knew food would taste the tiniest bit smothered tomorrow.

He shifted his weight again. “Anyway, just glad to see someone enjoying a moment while they can. You never know–“

She smiled as the man turned to go.

“Have a lovely evening,” he said to her.

“You too.”

Kissing Clauses

The holiday season had clearly taken hold of Philadelphia, and Martha was forced to swerved between more people than she had ever seen on South Street before. She passed Repo Records and finally swerved left to get off of the main street and head down to Bainbridge for a while. The relief allowed her to slow her pace and take in the sights of a road less traveled during her usual holiday shopping routine.

She passed a junk store she’d never seen before and out of the corner of her eye spotted something that made her stop dead on the sidewalk, leading a homeless man to bump into her. He excused himself and continued around her as she turned to look in the giant window filled with vintage holiday objects. She scanned the display, past a plastic wreath that had seen better days, ignoring a small set of Rudolph salt and pepper shakers to a shelf that was eye level. There they stood, and she instantly flashed back to childhood at her grandparents’ home in the suburbs. Santa Claus, hands behind his back, leaning in for a kiss. Mrs. Claus, hands also withdrawn, leaning in for the same kiss, standing on a little pedestal that Martha knew would make Santa’s wife spin and play a cute little holiday song similar to those that came from children’s jewelry boxes. Martha turned and entered the store, opening the door a little too boisterously, causing the bell attached to the top to ring with more violence than it should.

She could practically hear her grandmother tell her to be careful as she reached for one of the statues. The man at the counter, old and frail beyond his years, looked up at her over his wire-rim reading glasses. He smiled and approached her, fixing his aged suspenders as he walked.

“Interested in the kissing Santa and Mrs. Claus, young lady?” She nodded and put a hand out to take the statue of Mrs. Claus.

“Careful now,” the elderly man warned her. “Those are hand painted and from the 1970s. Do you know the set?”

She thought back to Christmases past and could practically smell the spaghetti sauce cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen. She could see the chestnuts roasting in the fireplace, her grandfather worriedly checking them every few minutes. Even the old marble table where the two statues sat year after year came into view for Martha.

And then she remembered what happened to the set. Her little sister was playing with them, winding up Mrs. Claus, when the tragic event took place. A stumble, a fumble and Mrs. Claus’ severed head rolled up to Martha’s left foot. A frantic aunt sneaking the statue away and quickly playing doctor with quick dry rubber cement, and it was almost like it never happened. But Martha could tell; she could spot the spider web crack in the statue’s neck in an instant, maybe just because she knew it was there.

“Young lady, are you okay?” the man asked her, waking her up from the memory. She shook her head.

“I’m fine. I would love to purchase this.” As she turned the statue, examining Mrs. Claus’ white apron, her green dress and the puckered lips, she noticed a tiny crack in the neck.

Thanksgiving Abroad

Rebecca stared at the empty post card, unsure of how to apologize for missing her parents’ fiftieth anniversary party. Her cousin would surely be there, and she just couldn’t deal with seeing him again after their encounter. It would be too painful. He would get that look of excitement on his face, she would see his smile, and they would end up down the same path that she’d already put an end to more than once.

She bought a Thanksgiving post card to combine both excuses in one shot; he would be going to that as well. She thought back to the first day when they were hiking to the top of the small Mount Glade to watch the famous sunset. Time was running out because she wasn’t in as good of shape as she’d thought and they needed to rush to make it. He beat her to the top and as she climbed the final rocks saw him with myriad colors in the background, holding out his hand to her, and she accepted it. Her hand stayed in his without either of them noticing until it was too late.

Thanksgiving was a enormous loss for her. Some of her best childhood memories were those of her father giving thanks before they all dug in. He always named each of his children on that list, and the rare attention from the patriarch always made her heart skip a beat. Of course, he was always thankful for the roof over their head, meals, and baseball games, but she sat anticipating hearing her name come from his lips. And now she would miss it.

As she started to scribble the kindest words she could muster for her parents, they flowed rather smoothly. She finished and looked at it, rereading every word and wondering why her hands were shaking. It was horrible to avoid her family because of a few mistakes, but she had no choice; seeing him again would start it all back up and it was all wrong. She read the letter once more and realized that it sounded more friendly than loving, but she had to send it as is. Thanksgiving was in two days and it she didn’t have time to go out and buy another card.

Christmas Balls

“Look at the size of those balls.” She stopped and looked at me like I was crazy as I pointed down toward the bottom floor of the mall where they were unpacking the Christmas ornaments. “What? Christmas balls?”

She gave me a dubious look because she knew why I chose that particular diction to express my thoughts.

“Wow, those are huge,” she remarked.

I debated commenting, but refrained, like a good boyfriend. “Can you imagine unpacking stuff like that every year? I don’t even like pulling out the five boxes of decorations I have, and they’re normal sized. That’s insane.”

We both rested our arms on the railing so that we could take in the largeness of the event taking place down there. From afar they looked normal, but we knew the sheer size of the ornaments alone was intense. The tree in King of Prussia Mall puts the one in Rockefeller Center to shame. The ornaments are easily twice the size of my head.

“I’ve never seen the mall decorations until they’re actually finished decorating…this is intense,” she said to me. “They’re huge.”

“I know, right?” I said with an evil grin on my face. She shoved me and continued on her way, as I lingered behind for another moment to snap a shot.

Ticka Ticka

“Ticka ticka two minutes,” her phone suddenly called out. She froze and looked at it as if it just bit her. She reached for it as it said it again. “Ticka ticka two minutes!” Her hand pulled away, then she shook it off. It is, after all, only her phone. She picked it up to find a calendar event going off.

She clicked it to get more information. It was set to go off at exactly this moment, but she hadn’t programmed it. She scrolled through, trying to remember why she would set it at this time. She gave up and put it down. Suddenly the bathroom door opened and her husband was standing there.

“Almost ready?”

“Yup,” she said.

“You know how I hate missing the previews.”

“I know, dear,” she said with a wink.

“Well, we have to leave in a minute to get there in time.”

“Then stop slowing me down!”

He shut the door and the phone erupted yet again. “Ticka Ticka one minute.”

The sound of her husband giggling came from the other side of the door.

Artwork by the lovely Nadia Lavard. Click the image for her Tumblr.

Shooting Star Beach

“But…” she looked at him, confused.

“I said space alien.”

“Okay…so you think the shooting stars are UFOs?”

“Yup!” he said with a triumphant smile.

“But the place is called Shooting Star Beach.”

He nodded. “Look, there goes another one!”

“Shooting star?”

“Space alien.”

“So let me get this straight.  You think the lights that look like shooting stars are – “

“Spaceships flying. Isn’t it obvious?”

“It’s not obvious. It’s dubious at best.”

He slouched a little as her mother walked up.

“He’s only eight,” she whispered into her daughter’s ear.