How to Get Unstuck is the final individual story I’ll be publishing from my Women’s Fiction short story collection Beach Glass & Other Broken Things (announcement coming soon on the collection). It’s new! Never been online or published before, unlike Rousseau, Clementine, and Running*. Reminder: those stories are FREE! Here’s the synopsis for How to Get Unstuck:
A 3,000 word short story about a woman named Marty and how she copes with her break-up from her long-term partner. Will she finally learn to be alone? Or will she inevitably move on to a new relationship— as her ex Raina insists she will because Marty just “can’t be alone”? When Marty runs into a former student, the attractive, tattooed Shae, she has to cross the professional line she’s been so firm on holding, and fight her desire for companionship…right? Perhaps she’ll be better off on her own, or maybe she’ll stop caring so much about what Raina thinks, and give in to what she really wants. Which choice will make her happier? How to Get Unstuck is a story about one woman who loves relationships, hates to be alone, and must either accept or overcome those parts of herself.
Estimated reading time: 15-20 minutes.
Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads list!
Thanks for your support, my pals. Look for my next short story coming, about a woman and her canary and the Freaky Friday-like situation they find themselves in, which will be a departure from the realistic stories I’ve been doing lately. Sonja Uncaged will be “flying” your way in the next week or so (hopefully, just waiting on custom cover art).
But, back to the story of the day. Here’s a short excerpt:
Marty was a stuck woman. She was unsure how to get unstuck. She poured herself another vodka and sat in the vintage armchair in her living room. She’d kept the chair, insisted upon it, even though she and Raina had picked it out together in Chicago, and really, it was because of Raina that they had it in the first place. It was during one of their routine visits to the bustling city that Raina had dragged her into an overpriced boutique where they sold things with hefty price tags and always a “re” in front of the description: recycled, repurposed, reclaimed. Marty had tagged after her around the store, trying not to hover, yet attempting to appear interested whenever Raina looked over with the rapt expression she wore when she discovered treasures to bring back home. Raina liked having Marty’s full attention.
Besides the chair, which Marty had begrudgingly come to love, they’d also brought home hand-carved end tables, which were so “rustic” they appeared to have been attacked by a knife-wielding toddler. Raina had taken those, and good-riddance. Marty thought they were ugly as hell. Raina teased her that she just didn’t have high-end taste like her. But, the chair remained. A parting gift, Marty thought now, both hating the idea, and being rather pleased she’d gotten to keep it. Still, it was just a stupid chair. She swirled the alcohol in her mouth, and swallowed hard. She leaned back and golden strands of her hair fell against the cognac leather of the chair. The apartment was too empty after ten years of Raina’s company. Marty had forgotten how to be alone.
Sometimes it seemed as though Raina had moved out two years ago, and other times it felt like only two days, as if she would walk through the door any minute, throw off her coat, and ask Marty how classes were and what she was making for dinner. Marty had been the one who cooked; Raina had never mastered more than cheese trays for their dinner parties.
Without Raina in the background, the silence was too loud. It wasn’t so bad in the mornings, when Marty was rushing to get ready for work. It wasn’t so bad when she had papers to grade or a good book to read. However, in the time between tasks and pleasures, the solitude was deafening. Marty pushed herself up and walked across the living room, which Raina had decorated, to turn on some music, but the somber verse was too reflective of her mood, and she returned to the iPod dock with a stomp and switched it off right away. Then she slumped back in the chair, and took another long, cool gulp of vodka because she didn’t know what else to do with her dark mood. There seemed a black, cavernous emptiness on the left side of Marty’s chest. She hated it. She took another drink.
Marty knew their relationship hadn’t been perfect lately or even for the last few years. But she’d never been a seeker of perfection, even from her college students. She expected everyone to try, yes. She wanted passion, and interest, and effort, whether it was in her classroom, or in her relationships. Raina had been enough for her, and good in many ways. Marty needed companionship more than she needed perfection. She liked their messy life, with weekends at the farmer’s market, lunches with friends, and concerts. Raina was a music connoisseur. She collected vinyl records and mp3s the way some people collected salt shakers.
It was a Saturday night. Raina was probably at a show for a cool, indie musician (Marty loved The Beatles) or at an art gallery for a new artist’s opening, or out dancing, having a good time. She was only a few years younger than Marty’s forty-three, but much more fun. At least that’s how Marty had always felt. Or worried that Raina felt that way. Even now, brooding alone, Marty second-guessed her coping methods, and wondered if she should call a friend, or book a trip, somehow find something to celebrate. And then she resented that she couldn’t even be confident in her own choices, even now. But she had always cared too much about what Raina thought.
She’d liked that Raina had thought she was smart, funny, interesting. When Marty spoke about historical events—she was a history professor—her face was radiant. She talked with her hands. She made jokes that were actually funny. And Raina did love to laugh.
But then things stopped being funny. Instead of laughing at her jokes, Raina would stare at her blankly, as if waiting for a better punch line. Instead of reaching for her, Raina would turn away. Marty knew it was ending long before it ended.
Like what you read so far? Go read the rest of How to Get Unstuck! And happy Saturday!
*Running is free everywhere but Amazon. If you would help me out by “reporting a lower price” they may change it to the correct price faster. Thank you!