The people Ruby cares most about are too far away. (2nd Place, Show Don't Tell Nov 2018)
|Word Count: 1,099 words
One of my fondest memories was when I was a child back at the farm, running barefoot through a field of assorted wild flowers, clutching a handful of Black-eyed Susans, my favorite flower; I also wore a garland of them around my head. The warmth and light of the sun shone on my face as I ran through the dried sheets hanging on the clothesline, deeply inhaling the lavender scented fabric. Granny-Ruth always scented her sheets with lavender and they would be so amazingly white and aromatic after she got them off the line. Others thought they felt too rough, but I loved that line dried feel against my skin.
Gradually, my eyes opened; I sat straight up and looked around, "Kevin?" I called out my boyfriend's name, but heard no reply. I held the top sheet to my nose and inhaled once more. At least I wasn't dreaming about that part. The bedroom was wallpapered in pink roses; the quilt on the bed was pink as was the matching canopy. I despised the color pink. The sleeveless, lacy nightgown I wore was a total departure from the concert t-shirts I usually slept in. Besides the sheets, nothing about this room was familiar.
Suddenly, some weird music began playing. After listening a little longer, I smiled; I'd know that tune anywhere. The D flat sounded too sharp if that was even possible; whoever was playing the piano sounded pretty good otherwise, if it weren't for that dang distorted black key. I inherited my father's gift of perfect pitch; even as a child, I could always tell when something was off musically.
"Where am I?" I wondered aloud, getting out of bed and walking towards the door, stubbing my pinky toe on the dresser, "Ow!" I sat, then, cradled my right foot, toe throbbing with pain. I noticed something fall to the floor; I reached for it and saw Ruby, written in calligraphy. Curiosity made me forget about the pain for a few moments as I tore into the envelope, then, read the dainty little note:
She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don't matter if it's gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows,
She comes and goes
"Oh please, be who I think it is," I whispered, as the note floated to the floor from my hand. I bolted through the door and ran down the hallway, the music getting progressively louder the farther I went. I darted downstairs into the den and saw him, seated at the piano. He was the first man I adored; the man who gave me my name inspired by a song from his favorite rock group.
"Well, hello, sleepy head. It's about time you woke up," Dad replied. He stopped playing, then got up with arms open. We embraced, not having seen each other in months; I missed him so much!
"Dad? What are you doing here, I mean, how--"
"Ruby T, I've been instructed to tell you to go out into the garden." He gently kissed my forehead, then pointed at the open French doors across the room. Outside, the garden beckoned. I was awestruck by the kaleidoscope of colored flora. My father, Ray, worked primarily as a music producer. He even fronted his own small band and toured from time to time, which kept him busy. Dad was a wonderful provider, giving me everything I wanted, except more of his time. He would try so hard to be there for my birthday and for Christmas; however, he was absent for all of my recitals, school plays, parent teacher conferences, father-daughter dances and graduations. After Mom died, he seemed to withdraw farther into music. By then, I was on my own. Granny-Ruth decided to sell the farm and move to a retirement village. We'd get together from time to time, but, not as often as I would have liked. All three of us led busy lives.
I noticed the Black-eyed Susans and couldn't resist the urge to pick a few; I stopped after about seven or eight.
"Good Morning, Ruby."
"Granny-Ruth! Is it really you?" I ran to her and gave her a hug.
"Yes, my little sweet potato; here, let me have those." She twisted my bouquet into a garland and placed it on my head, just as she did when I was little. Even though she was in her eighties, her mind was still as sharp as a tack and she walked two miles each day, no matter the weather. I hoped I had her genes.
"Why are we here?"
"I'm only supposed to tell you to keep walking until everything makes sense."
Granny put her finger to her lips, "Go on," she implored.
Excitedly, I rushed ahead. I thought once again about Kevin. We had dinner out the night before; I drank a little too much and we had a nasty quarrel that stemmed from Kevin's casual announcement that he was going on the road, yet again, after being back in town only a month. I was livid. Whenever he was gone, I missed him fiercely, even though he called or Skyped just about every night. Being the daughter of a musician and falling in love with a musician seemed maniacal. Everyone I loved was always too far away.
Soon, I arrived at a path lined by topiary designed giraffes, elephants, bears and unicorns leading to what looked to be a maze. I chuckled with delight as I walked through it, following the signs with arrows on them to help along the way. As I rounded the final corner, I was relieved to see Kevin there, dressed in a white shirt and khakis, atypical of his usual jeans and Chucks. He, along with an intimate circle of our friends and family, began their a cappella serenade.
I've got a girl and Ruby is her name
(Ruby, Ruby, Ruby Baby)
She don't love me, but I love her just the same. . .
Surprised, I put my hand to my mouth, crying happy tears, knowing what I had wanted for so long was finally happening. Sure enough, Kevin walked over to where I was and knelt on one knee.
"Ruby Tuesday Thompson, I've loved you from the first day we met. Will you marry me?"
He looked up at me, earnestly. I looked around at everyone's smiling faces, and back at Kevin. He was holding a stunning engagement ring, made up of a halo tiny diamonds surrounding the four carat center stone, which was, of course, a ruby.
November 2018 Contest Entry
Show, Don't Tell
Ruby Tuesday lyrics written by The Glimmer Twins (Jagger and Richards)
Ruby Baby lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller