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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: Just Red And Me
By Patricia Herchenroether


Something's very wrong. I feel incomplete, not quite whole. It's as if a crucial piece of me got clipped off and I can't function without it. I don't understand what drives me, what force it is that gives me these weird feelings and strange yearnings. After the last two months of constant stress I should feel as free as a bird. I've heard that expression from people, but don't quite understand what it means. How free are birds? All I know is that Red and I were on the go constantly for weeks on end, trying to help the kids get ready for their big adventure. Now it's so quiet around here, I almost wish we were still under all that stress.

Our three daughters left home last week, deciding to stay together. They always were close, getting in a huddle and gabbing up a storm. I remember what it was like with my sisters. Mother always said we were birds-of-a-feather. My sister Ruthie died young, tragically, and I lost track of Rose. I think of her now and then; it would be nice to cross paths and play catch-up.

Four days ago Red Jr. left to start the next phase of his life too. I miss him already, much more than I would have believed. He was the oldest of the four, but the last to leave. I didn't think he was ever going to take some responsibility. Even at his age, he still wouldn't get his own meals. I hope he doesn't starve out there in the real world. What a handful RJ was while growing up. Always the bully, demanding the best of everything, shoving his little sisters aside to grab whatever it was he wanted. Oh well, you can raise them all the same way and each one will turn out differently.

Red Sr. and I have discussed, with real anticipation, our future lives after the kids were grown and gone. We planned to retire and move someplace where the climate is a little warmer, maybe to the Carolinas. If we don't want to make it a permanent move, we could just spend the wintertime there in order to escape New England's harshest months. Since we're by ourselves now, he and I should be mapping things out and making decisions.


It's only the end of July, and we two are already moping around with nothing to occupy our time. The only things Red and I have done since RJ took off are sleep, swim, and eat. What a lazy vacation this has turned out to be. I can just picture the extra weight piling on until I look like a fat hen, too heavy to flap to her roost and waddling around the barnyard. Waiting for a hawk to set eyeballs on all that blubber.

Well, here comes the man himself. Red, what do you want to do? It's too early to pack up and go, and I'm about as stuffed as that scarecrow down there in the field. Uh oh, I see that gleam in your eye. Hmm, and you brought me some fresh straw to line the mattress. Are you sure, Red? You want to go through that all over again? Hehe. Actually, I think it might be just what I need. Never did like an empty nest. Ohh, Red-you've got me singing, all right. "When the red, red robin goes bob, bob, bobbin'…Tweeeet."

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This article has been read 621 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke09/17/09
This one made me smile.... and nice job surprising readers with the real voice of your MC at the end! Tweet!
Allen Stark09/17/09
I loved the surprise ending. Nice job.
Shilo Goodson09/22/09
I really enjoyed your ending. This was a unique spin on the topic, and I like that you did that.
c clemons09/22/09
Okay you got me, good writing thanks for the post.
Lisa Johnson09/23/09
Interesting take on the subject,,,and a very different than expected ending...lol!
Carol Penhorwood 01/26/10
Fantastic! Didn't see this one coming! Great job!
Edy T Johnson 01/27/10
What a clever story (and creative take on the topic)! I only got a little suspicious near the end that the "children" might be pets. So, I was surprised at the fun punch line!

I've been away from the writing challenge for some time, so had to stop by and get acquainted and thank you for the comment you left on my "Operator's Lament" entry. I look forward to seeing you around here, and thanks muchly!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/16/10
I love your POV, it took me a bit to get it, but when I did I thought it was so clever. Nicely done.