Inspiration for the Big 5-0, a short story

Out of context, anything can be misconstrued or undervalued. Last year the Bethesda Magazine, once again had their annual short story contest for both fiction and non fiction. I’ve said I wanted to enter something through the years and it was a week to the deadline. O.K., I told myself, this is the year you are going to do this. Each year the contest is held and you can write on any theme but cannot exceed 4000 words. One of the major suggestions was to try and not make the story trite. You are saying, “duh”, right about now. Easier said than done.

Sometimes there’s a story dying to get out of me and down on paper. Other times an incident, a random event, or a prompt, helps me get started. After participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for several years and following up with a course at The Writer’s Center, I’ve tried to continue writing by practicing it in many forms. The short story was never a favorite. Setting limitations-was an invitation to break the rules. If I didn’t want to be disqualified, I push myself to do both.

Aging brings all sorts events and really changes your view of life. For some reason my upcoming colonoscopy loomed on the horizon. A friend had been diagnosed with colon cancer, so this event had more punch. I took the two ideas and looked at what life was like for a 50 year old divorced woman, and The Big 5-0 was born. Originally, the story was called, “A Colonoscopy Story” (recognize the take off on A Christmas Story?) My friend who suggested it and I, thought it was funny, but the editors didn’t get my humor.

I didn’t win that contest for the story that came in barely under 4000 words. My good friend Ronna was kind enough to edit (really well) that first version. Later after the contest results were out and my name didn’t make the short list, I shared the story with my editor. They liked it, but wanted th tale expanded. The version in front of you is the expanded story. It’s not earth shaking. It won’t change your world. It’s just a sweet little story with a bit of humor. I hope you enjoy reading it, because I enjoyed writing it.

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http://smile.amazon.com/Big-5-0-Quirks-Life-Love-ebook/dp/B015RKOHCY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1443185781&sr=1-1&keywords=Melissa+reitkopp

FIFTY IS NIFTY

FIFTY IS NIFTY

FIFTY IS NIFTY
I’m fifty this year, and I have a black eye. No, my boyfriend Bill didn’t slap me around. My dog, who I was securing to a post, did see another dog. She decided to say hello to said dog, and took the post with her. On her way, the post had serious contact with my face. Fifty and I have bruises on my shins from soccer. Half a century old, and my nails are jagged from wall climbing at the gym. I’m a fifty year old mother of three, who the day after yoga climbs out of bed, just a little bit slowly because I’m sore. I still wake up without an alarm clock and it’s never the same time, probably because I never go to bed at a specific hour.

Some days, it’s from exhaustion at 9pm right after I put my nine year old to sleep. Some days, my mind won’t shut down and I sit and journal till my hand cramps or my eyes droop shut. Some days, I get distracted, and stop at my computer to look at a school project, my board fundraising event, a soccer team management issue, or, I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes it’s just regular work. If Bill can’t be there curled up in bed with me, a good night call is the next best thing to close my day.

I am slowing down, it may not seem like it, but I do say no, a bit more often. My older children say they don’t notice, but I do. I’ve come to realize it’s not being busy that matters, but what I am doing and whom I am doing it with, that matters most. Keeping my perspective on life is about balance, I’m working towards it, but I’m not perfect, yet.

Taking things day by day, moment by moment, is the first step. It’s easier now that there’s only one child left at home. Or maybe it’s because I have become wiser or more relaxed. Yesterday, after climbing at the gym with Shane, we came home bushed. It was our last day of Spring Break. We decided, instead of making a full-fledged meal, we would to take the easy route. Opened the refrigerator door wide, looked inside, and started pulling out stuff to hand to my son. First; a slice of pizza wrapped in foil, next a Tupperware of grilled chicken, some bacon from breakfast, finally fresh spinach and carrots. It was a mish mash of food.

We decided to treat ourselves to “dinner and a movie” in the rec room. Normally, we eat in the kitchen, at the counter, sans distractions. Having warmed, assembled and plated our leftovers, we grabbed drinks and headed for the basement. We flipped through the options and rather quickly agreed to watch the Rise of the Guardians. I have no idea what rating Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie, we normally check, but decided to wing it. Living on the edge, it was daring. In between, eating, doing a load of laundry, (I still couldn’t totally let go and be irresponsible) we snuggled, Shane, Madison (the boxer who blackened my eye) and I. We laughed, we were moved, I mean after all it’s a kid’s movie, there have to be educational moments. Didn’t matter that dinner wasn’t perfect, and at 50, I’m not either.