“Girl,” my mama had said to me the minute she entered my hospital room, “on the highway of life, you’re always traveling left of center.”
Mama was always saying things like that. She had a phrase for every occasion, and would pronounce them with a certainty that, in my younger days, I accepted as gospel. But that time, I didn’t pay her no mind. I just went on painting my nails “Passionate Purple,” hoping that the sexy polish would catch the doctor’s eye.
I was justifiably proud of my hands, especially since, at that particular time, they were the only part of me that was skinny. A girl’s body sure takes a beating from having a baby. It had taken me at least a year to get my shape back after Robert Nicholas, and it looked like Rebecca Nicole wouldn’t be any kinder to her mama than her big brother had been.
I love my babies, I really do, even though I hadn’t planned on having them and life would have been a lot simpler if I hadn’t gotten pregnant.
I would have been able to do something with my life—go to beauty school, maybe—instead of changing diapers and cleaning up baby spit-up for days on end. It’s hard being a mother with no husband to lean on. But to give Mama her due, she was always there, right from the beginning, ready to help out.
“You’re having a baby?” The way Mama shrieked when I told her the news, you’d think she’d never heard of it before. Granted, I was going to make her a grandma at the same time I became a mother, but I don’t know why it was such a big surprise. Bobby and I had been keeping company for at least six months before it happened.
“Good Lord, what will I say to the ladies at bingo?” Bingo was my mama’s one passion. She never missed bingo night at the church. “They’re going to ask me how it happened and what will I say?”
“Well, if they don’t know by now how it happens, they’re pretty damn stupid,” I had snarled back, and then ran into the bathroom to lose what was left of my breakfast…
All in all, though, Mama took it really well. Even when Bobby left me two months before the Big Event, she didn’t say too much, beyond the expected “Well, I told you he was no good. He had shifty eyes. I saw that right away.”
Maybe she was right. I don’t know that I ever noticed his eyes. I was too busy looking at his sexy half-smile and the way his shoulders filled out those white T-shirts he wore. His arms were so full of muscles that he could barely fold his sleeve over the pack of unfiltered Camels he was always smoking.
Title: Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories
Author: Nancy Christie
Genre: Literary Fiction / Short Story Collection
There are some people who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take—often with disastrous results.
TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER AND OTHER STORIES details characters in life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared. Their methods of coping range from the passive (“The Healer”) and the aggressive (“The Clock”) to the humorous (“Traveling Left of Center”) and hopeful (“Skating on Thin Ice”).
The eighteen stories in TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER AND OTHER STORIES depict those types of situations, from the close calls to the disastrous. Not all the stories have happy endings—like life, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.
In these stories, the characters’ choices—or non-choices—are their own. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired.
Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?
Nancy Christie is the author of the fiction collection, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and two short story e-books, Annabelle and Alice in Wonderland (all published by Pixel Hall Press).
Her stories have been accepted by print and online publications such as St. Anthony Messenger, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Talking River, Wild Violet, EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, and The Chaffin Journal.
She is also the author of The Gifts of Change (Atria/Beyond Words), an inspirational book that encourages readers to take a closer look at how they deal with the inevitability of change and ways in which they can use change to gain a new perspective, re-evaluate their goals and reconsider their options. Since its publication in 2004, The Gifts of Change has been released in three foreign editions.
Currently Christie is working on several book projects, including a second collection, a novel and a book for writers. The founder of “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Short Fiction Writers Guild (SFWG), Christie hosts the monthly Monday Night Writers group in Canfield, OH.
Focus on Fiction The Writer’s Place One on One Make A Change
Social media links:
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Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NChristie_OH @NChristie_OH
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