Writing A Synopsis

This post is very timely for me.  Not long ago, I was summarizing the plot of one of my stories to my husband over a plate of lasagne and veggies.  In between chewing and swallowing, I laid out the plot while my husband’s eyes and interest grew.  Then later that night, I sat down in front of my computer to lay out the synopsis and drew a complete blank.  And when I did type something, it sounded bland.  A complete contrast from the hype earlier in the evening.  So to give my work justice, the tips in this post will be very helpful.

Dust 2 Diamonds

Summarizing your story at dinner to entertain friends is easy.

You make it sound exciting. But when you sit down to write a synopsis, you get brain-freeze.

No worries. For a quick, exciting synopsis, answer these 9 Questions: Learn more.

Kelly and Nancy

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Land of I Can’t

Positive thinking can move mountains…

Melanie V. Logan

cant

You’ve probably heard of the land of I Can’t.  It’s  near IwishIhadadone and on the other side of Wouldacouldashoulda.  The citizens of I Can’t are known to be frowned up, looking down on the inhabitants of the City of Dreams.  They often tell them what they can and can not do, should or should not accomplish.  There’s a lot of opinion in I Can’t – and most of it is on the negative side.

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Books versus Movies/TV – Who Did it Best?

Image: Organized Clutter
Image: My Clutter Box

I love to watch movies and television.  And sometimes I watch something and then find out later that it began as a book.  There have been occasions where the story was so good that it prompted me to go out and get the book.  One such storyline comes from the television show Resurrection It is based on the book The Returned by Jason Mott.

I won’t go into much detail to keep from spoiling the show or the book for others.  But I will say that the show’s storyline kept me wondering about all the bits and pieces that the book may have went into more detail.  What I found out was that the first few episodes of the show pretty much followed the book.  Where they differ is that the book gave more insight to a lot more characters and locations whereas the show focused on one area and a set of main characters that are interconnected in one way or another.  If I had to choose who did it best, I’d have to go for the show.

Another movie that I have seen and have yet to read the book is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  As the story unfolded, I felt a range of emotions like anticipation, sympathy, disgust, but the biggest was anger towards the main female character.  Because of how the movie drew me in and held my attention, like the paragraph before, it makes me want to read the book.  Once I do that, we’ll see who did it best – book or movie.

And for this year there are more movies coming down the pipeline that are adaptations of books. Here are 21 Books To Read Before They Hit The Big Screen In 2015.

How do you feel about books that are turned into movies or television shows?  Do they meet your expectations or dash them?  Will you go see something on the list for 2015, just read the book, or both?

Just My Luck

Tap,tap…tap tap tap. Tap, tap…tap tap tap.

Leah Donovan awoke to the rhythmic sound of rain drops hitting her bedroom window. She really didn’t want to get up. The bed felt so good, but she had to get ready for work.

When she turned on the water in the shower, it was cold and remained that way. She quickly jumped in, washed, then jumped out. After she got dressed, she went to put on her shoes, but one of the heels had begun to separate. She went to grab a quick breakfast of toast and juice, but the bread was molded and there was no juice.

avaxnewsLeah felt like she just wasn’t having any luck. She grabbed her wallet, keys, and cell phone. Once outside, she was bombarded with raindrops. She doubled back for her red umbrella.

As Leah walked the three blocks to the bus stop, the rain stopped. Rays of sun tried their best to break through the clouds before them. She closed the red umbrella hoping it would not be needed anytime soon.

Leah stood at the bus stop with the others she saw most mornings. No one seemed to speak – just nod a greeting and proceed with whatever they were doing. Her cell phone buzzed.

<Jim: Tuesday, 7:17am>: Not feeling well. Won’t be in. Can you make the presentation at 8:30am?

Leah’s eyes grew large. She never liked standing in front of groups, especially when she had not prepared for whatever she was supposed to speak about. She started typing an excuse for why she couldn’t do it, then erased it.

<Leah, Tuesday, 7:19am>: Sorry you’re not feeling well. Sure I can do it.

<Jim: Tuesday, 7:20am>: Thank you. I’ll email you the presentation.

Leah felt ill in a way, nervous really. She checked her email. Jim’s presentation was there. She clicked on the file. Scrolling through the slides there was much that she was not familiar with. A second email came in. It was notes. Thank God!

Leah got on the bus and swiped her pass while fully immersed in the content of her unexpected task. She sat on one of the side benches, laying down her umbrella and wallet as her eyes stayed glued to her cell phone.   When her stop came up, she rose from her seat still studying the presentation while managing to grab her wallet without looking. She descended the bus stairs and off to work.

Once there, Leah had to hustle to make sure everything for the presentation was set up and ready. She mimicked a dry run as she sat in her cube and then reviewed Jim’s notes again. Even after all of that, she still felt ill-prepared. Her hands were sweaty and her stomach felt on the verge of lurching. She hated being put on the spot, but this was for Jim. He’d mentored her since she joined the company over two years ago. And he had been there when her sister passed away.

Then it dawned on her. Leah looked at her desk and didn’t see the umbrella. She started to panic. Where is it? She scrounged around the drawers in her cube then tried retracing her steps. It hit her. She left it on the bus. She started to cry. It was all she had left of her. Leah tried to collect herself. The presentation was in five minutes, and in this moment, it didn’t matter compared to what she had lost – again.

She frantically looked up the name of the bus company and called. They didn’t offer much help, just a “check back tomorrow to see if it turns up in our lost and found”.

Leah felt like she couldn’t function. Her mind was stuck on the red umbrella and her sister. Her co-worker broke her glazed stare by reminding her about the presentation.

Leah completed the presentation successfully and had received a few pats on the back from her peers. The distraction of the umbrella had obviously cured her stage fright. But now she was on a mission. She devoted her lunch break to finding the symbolic link to her deceased sister.

*****

Two stops down from where Leah got off the bus earlier, a casually-dressed man climbed aboard and took a seat. When he noticed the red umbrella setting alone on one of the side benches, he asked if anyone had lost it. No one claimed it, so he took it. After all, rain was in the forecast for the afternoon.

The man exited the bus, then walked a couple of blocks to a café to meet a friend for coffee. When he sat down at the table, he placed the umbrella in the chair next to him. The friend arrived and the two shared conversation over hot drinks and pastries. Afterwards, the man paid the check and left. The waitress did not notice the umbrella until after the man and his friend had left and she was clearing the table. She placed it in the lost and found in case he came back.

That afternoon, it started to rain again. The waitress had no covering so she took the umbrella from the lost and found. By the time she got to the bus stop, the rain had subsided. She wrapped the umbrella up in itself and set it next to her. She spent the ride looking at the people and buildings that she passed by. The waitress thought she saw her boyfriend in an embrace with another woman. She got off at the next stop, hurrying past the boarding passengers to get to the place where the infidelity was taking place. The red umbrella was once again left behind.

Nathan sat down, looking back at the chaos that was developing between the former passenger and the couple on the street. He shook his head in disbelief as the two women began fighting while the man walked away.   Women! 

yesterlandHe turned back around to nonchalantly view the road ahead. Then he took notice of the other passengers. His eyes happened to catch something red in the corner of the back seat. He went back to investigate. It was a red umbrella. Nathan gasped. Some of the passengers turned to look at him.   He nodded his head signaling that everything was ok, but internally he knew that something supernatural was happening.  He picked it up, staring at it, wondering what significance it held.

Nathan got off at the next stop. He found a woman sitting alone on a bench, crying. Remembering what the angel had mentioned, he knew that this was the person he was to help. He placed a hand on her shoulder, “Are you ok?”

The woman looked up at him. Then she saw the umbrella. Her sorrow turned to joy. “My umbrella!”

“Excuse me?”

“I think that’s my umbrella. Can I see the handle?”

“Well, um, here you go.” Nathan handed Leah the umbrella. Sure enough ‘MAROO’, her sister’s nickname, was scratched into the handle.

“I left it on the bus this morning. I thought it was gone forever.” Leah uttered with excitement and relief.

Nathan was puzzled because he thought the deed he was to do would be greater.  “I’m glad you were able to get it back. Hope you have a nice day.” He turned to walk away.

“Hey, wait a minute. Can I buy you lunch or something? After all, you did just save my day.” Leah smiled.

“Uh, sure. Why not?”

Nathan and Leah walked a couple of blocks to one of her favorite spots. Over sandwiches and iced tea, Leah hesitantly began her story, detailing the significance of the umbrella. “My sister Maroo…um, Marie, died a couple of years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Nathan’s eyes yielded genuine sympathy.

Leah continued feeling somewhat comfortable with the man across from her, “It was during one of the bad snow storms. Marie’d left for work, but never arrived. It was unlike her to miss work. She loved her job.”

Nathan leaned forward, attentively listening.

“Three days later, they found her car over a hidden embankment. Snow had covered it, but this red umbrella was sticking out of one of the windows. That’s how the rescue team found her.” Leah tried to choke back tears, but some fell.

Nathan placed his hand on hers offering a proverbial shoulder of comfort.

“So I kept this umbrella as a reminder of my sister and her last act alive.”

“Wow! Had no idea when I picked it up. Glad I did.”

“Me too.” Leah collected herself then smiled. Nathan smiled back. There was a brief pause before they averted each other’s eyes.

Leah changed the subject. As they continued to talk, they found more topics to talk about – some being utterly hilarious. Like the Google commercial about Hall and Oates. She was enjoying Nathan’s company, and he seemed to feel the same. Before they knew it they had been at the restaurant close to two hours. The new-found-friends exchanged numbers and hugged as they were about to part ways. Leah ensured that she still had the umbrella in her possession.

This would be her lucky day after all – and for Nathan too.

Photos: Avax News, Yesterland

Missed Stop

“Good morning, and welcome to my world. My name’s Nathan. I’ll be your guide for the next hour. Please stay with the group and remember, remain behind the velvet rope”.  Nathan hated giving the same spill each day, but he needed the part-time job at the museum. The medical bills wouldn’t pay for themselves. Even with insurance, the costs were out of reach.

Nathan missed him – his dad that is. He had been the rock of the family but would eventually succumb to a mystery illness.  He couldn’t believe that’s how they described it. Wasn’t medicine modern? Weren’t scientists doting on how far they’d advanced? Nathan knew it was all baloney.

His parents tried to instill faith and spirituality in him as a child. But at this point in his life, his level of belief had waned. First his mother abandoned him and his father when he was eleven.  Then they had to move to a small home in a questionable neighborhood because his father couldn’t afford better.  And Nathan was often home alone due to his father’s work schedule, meaning he had to keep house and make meals for himself.

Things eventually got better over the years – not financially, but comfort of routine.  The worse came a little over a year ago when Nathan’s father was diagnosed with an unexplained illness. In such a short time, his father was gone.

Nathan’s shift had ended. He grabbed his jacket and crossbody bag and headed towards the bus stop. He stopped at the small corner store to buy water and crackers. He’d missed lunch and couldn’t wait to get home. Then again, the cupboard was bare.

A weird feeling came over him. He felt prompted to buy a lottery ticket. It wasn’t his thing, but then again isn’t that how most people won? Nathan looked at the numbers. Nothing superstitious – no birth dates, favorite numbers, old high school jerseys – nothing. He placed the ticket in his bag and proceeded to the bus stop.

Once the bus arrived and Nathan hopped on, he thought about his future. What would it be like if he actually won? If he got the $50 million jackpot he’d wait at least a month before spending a dime. And even then he’d get a legal and financial team together to help made wise choices. He didn’t want to get caught up in the excitement of winning and before long, be broke again. He also didn’t want to be took by these professionals or supposed family that came out of the woodwork.

Speaking of family, where were they? When his dad died, not even his mother resurfaced. Aunts, uncles, and cousins were quick to come by to see what was in the house, but not a one tried to help when the bank was about to foreclose on said house. He was sure these relatives would try to worm their way back.

Before Nathan realized it, he had missed his stop – actually it was several stops ago. His thoughts were so consumed in the hopes of a fortune and bitterness towards blood that was thinner than water. He got off at the next stop then walked across the street to catch the bus in the opposite direction.

As he stood under the shelter, he noticed a homeless man lying on the ground. He appeared to be asleep, or at least Nathan hoped. He stared at the man to ensure that he saw a rising and falling chest. When he turned back around, the man had gotten up and was now standing beside him.

“I’ve been waiting on you.”

“Huh?” Nathan thought the man was drunk and hallucinating.

“You’re Nathan, right?”

Nathan looked shocked and felt scared. He didn’t know how this man knew his name. He decided to walk away. By the time he arrived at the next bus stop two blocks up, the same homeless man was there.

“I’m not trying to scare you. I was sent to guide you. Let me introduce myself. I’m Josiah. I’m an angel.”

“Yeah right. You’re something, but an angel I don’t believe. Quit wasting my time.” Nathan turned away.

Josiah walked around in front of him. “Haven’t you read the scripture about entertaining angels unaware?” Josiah searched Nathan’s face for an acknowledging response. Nothing. “At least heard it?”

Nathan was looking angered. “I’ve heard it. But tell me this. Why weren’t you entertaining when my dad was sick? Or I’ll do you one better, when my mom walked out on us?”

“That I cannot answer. Only the One can tell you that. I’m sure He had His reasons.”

“Well, whatever they were, they suck.”

“Oh my! You shouldn’t talk that way.”

“Don’t tell me what I should and should not do. In fact, what is it you’re supposed to do? Is this something like It’s a Wonderful Life?”

“Not at all.”

“Then what?”

“You will see red. Not in a way that you expect. It will be a signal to help and a new beginning.”

“What in the world is that supposed to mean?”

The homeless man didn’t say anything more. He turned and started to walk away until he faded out of sight. Nathan rubbed his eyes because he couldn’t believe what he saw. He ran in the direction of the disappearing man but had to turn back because the bus had arrived.

Nathan entered the bus and took a seat. He was still in awe about what had happened, and even more puzzled at what the homeless man meant. His best guess was that something would anger him. Well, he was too late in telling him that. He was already angry at his current circumstances. Then Nathan decided that what had happened had to be a delusion. He dismissed it.

When he got home, he turned on every light. While he tried not to believe the earlier events were real, realistically he was spooked. He pulled out his father’s old Bible and set it on the nightstand next to his bed. His fear was starting to turn to superstition. Nathan knew his father would be disappointed in him for that. He wanted to believe, but just didn’t have a reason to.

Nathan took his shower and then returned to his room to get into bed. He picked up the Bible and it opened to Hebrews chapter thirteen. His eyes instinctively went to the second verse: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Nathan quickly closed the book. He got down on his knees to pray, but somehow he ended up in a deep sleep instead.

Nathan envisioned a man standing at the foot of his bed. It was Josiah.

“Nathan your hurts and disappointments have been recognized. Now is the time to believe in spite of these things. If you follow the path given, you will reap more than you ever thought you’d sow.”

And just like before, the man faded away. Nathan’s eyes opened in half-slits. He looked around the room, but didn’t see anyone. It was just like before at the bus stop.  He didn’t know what was going on, and he had grown tired of trying to deny it. It was the first time in years that he would lean towards believing.  And almost at the point of reverting to old thinking, something amazing happened.

***Find out next week what happened to Nathan***

Photos: Complete Wellbeing, Tom Stuart

Thread through History

aliexpress2Edith went to the trunk posted at the foot of her bed. She pulled out a piece of fabric that was actually a drab gray plaid blanket that she took from the ship. She laid it out on the bed, smoothing out the wrinkles. She was 23 years old back then. Now she was 40 dealing with a similar issue in a different time and place. She wanted to make better use of the blanket so she made a dress.

Edith turned the lackluster fabric into a masterpiece almost like Cinderella going to the ball. She cut and sewed each piece by hand using no pattern, only a memory of the types of dresses she made at the factory. The top of the dress was fitted with long-sleeves, a column of buttons down the front, and a flared skirt with pleats at the bottom. She used an old pillowcase to make the white Peter Pan collar and matching cuffs . She had sewn hundreds of these dresses, but this one was different. It would be special, for a special purpose.

The day arrived for Edith to wear her dress. She was proud and determined to accomplish the task at hand – to march with the others for civil rights. It was a shame that in 1963 people had to fight for their humanity, but she knew what this was like. She’d seen it before.  Her eyes filled with tears thinking about how some could be so cruel based on the color of one’s skin. Weren’t we all God’s children?

SeattlePIAt the march, the group of protesters gathered at the church to pray and give ground rules on how to proceed. It was to be peaceful. Marchers were to ignore insults, lashing out via spit, or some other defamatory tactic. And in the event of being physically assaulted or police brutality, marchers were encouraged not to fight back. Edith understood the rules.

The group began to move down the street from the church towards the center of town. Edith felt eyes watching her – not just the lines of men and women yelling racial epitaphs, but also some of the marchers. A little black girl in the line looked at Edith’s arm. When Edith noticed, she pulled down her sleeve.

“Why do you have numbers on your arm?”

“Long time ago, a man put this on me to identify me.”

“Identify you for what? Because you’re white?”

Edith wasn’t sure how to answer. The little black girl’s mother grabbed her arm and scolded her for asking questions.

“It’s alright. She’s just curious,” Edith said trying to ease the situation.

The mother hesitantly looked at her while still holding her daughter’s hand. The little black girl looked from her mother to Edith to figure out why her mother was looking that way and why no one would answer her questions. Edith slowed her steps so that she would fall towards the back of the line. She didn’t want to make the mother anymore uncomfortable than she probably was. Besides her purpose there was to take a stand.

As the marchers got closer to town, locals were becoming bolder. Some walked along side the group cursing and displaying their distaste for the demonstration. Then suddenly someone in the group was hit by a local welding a baseball bat. There were screams when it landed on its target. Edith craned her neck to see. It was the mother.

Edith pushed through the crowd to try to help them. It was difficult because chaos had ensued. Some of the marchers were fighting back, others were being assaulted, and yet there were those trying to stick to the rules and continue to march.

There was blood everywhere. The little black girl was crying.  Edith grabbed her and shielded her from the bricks and blows that were coming from every angle. But what she didn’t expect was to see a man in her face with a rifle. Edith was stunned, but not afraid. She stood up with the little black girl behind her. She looked the man in the eyes with fierceness and determination. She realized that he wasn’t a man after all,  just an adolescent boy. She yanked the gun from his hand. He punched her. She fell. He took the gun and tried to fire it. The little black girl screamed. The gun had jammed.

A marcher pulled Edith and the little black girl to safety. The little black girl held on to Edith like she was her new mama. Edith couldn’t let her go – especially since she didn’t know the outcome of her real mother. Hours later, she’d learn that the woman had died. The little black girl was in the care of relatives. Her name was Marilee.

*****

Edith passed away in 1995 at the age of 72 – her daughter and grandson by her side. Before her last breath it was as if she had so much to say but she struggled for air and time to get the words out. Edith hadn’t talked in detail about her life. Her family knew she was a Holocaust survivor and that she had marched alongside African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement. Edith made no fanfare about these things. What was the point?

To her family, Edith was mama and grandma – the strong matriarch of the family who went about life without complaint or drawing attention. She helped others when she was able. So it was not a surprise that many of her belongings went to the local thrift shop whose mission was to help the community.

theartofsimpleOne day, a woman went to the thrift shop looking for clothing from the ’60s. Her daughter was participating in a play celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday. The woman scrimmaged through the racks and boxes of clothing and items. She jumped back in shock when she saw the gray plaid dress with the white Peter Pan collar and cuffs.

“It couldn’t be.”

The woman looked at the bottom left hem to see if it was still there. It was, but faded. It was a stain of her mother’s blood. Marilee held the dress close to herself. She couldn’t believe it. Tears flowed from her eyes. Her thoughts retraced history, remembering the baseball bat cracking her mother’s skull, and the woman with the numbers on her arm who kept her from further harm.

Marilee asked the thrift shop clerk if he knew where the dress came from. Like most donations, he either had no direct record of who gave it or could not share the information. Marilee purchased the dress anyway. It was an heirloom weaving her history into the woman with the numbers tattoo. And just like most precious heirlooms, she had it encased. She made sure to document the events of the day in 1963 and to share the story with her daughter so that it could be passed down throughout the generations. She also included the history of the Holocaust so that the maker of the dress could be remembered.

Amazing how one dress created a thread through history.

 

Photo: Aliexpress, Seattle PI, theartofsimple

The View from Here

Oculta

Deet-deet-deet-deet! Deet-deet-deet-deet!

Julie Schumacher peeped one eye open as she picked up her cell phone to turn the alarm off.  It was 7am. She didn’t see much point of getting up since she had nowhere to be. She rolled back over, pulling the covers over her head, trying to catch a few more winks.

Since being laid off, Julie found it almost irrelevant to get out of bed most mornings. Most days were spent submitting resumes online, hobnobbing with former co-workers who’d moved on, and making cold calls in hopes that something would come through. But there was nothing. Disappointment and depression were setting in.

Julie placed a pillow over her head to block out the hustle and bustle of city life going on outside her apartment building. Then almost like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, a smell wafted into Julie’s apartment. It was the smell of fresh bread baking.  She tried to ignore it, but Zekman’s breads and pastries were the best in town. She loved the smell, and even more the taste of the apple strudel with light icing.  Oh, how she’d love one of those. But right now she couldn’t afford luxuries.

Instead Julie hmphed as she got out of bed, grabbing her pink terry robe on the way to the kitchen. She filled a bowl with cereal and milk, then went out on the fire escape to eat and observe the morning events.

Her eyes set straight ahead on the horizon. Dawn was just breaking.  The sun had yielded its colors of red and orange with an underlying blue.  Julie felt thankful for witnessing the arrival of another day. But her thankfulness turned to anger as a series of cars honked their horns at each other. The culprit causing the noisy melee was a reddish golden retriever who couldn’t figure out which direction it wanted to go. Finally a passerby lured the dog towards him with some type of food. The crisis was averted and traffic was restored.

But a new one arose as a small child tried to pet the dog as a woman pulled at her to continue moving. The little girl began crying then wailing. Julie noticed the little girl had on a navy and green plaid jumper with a white shirt and socks. She assumed it was a mother with her daughter on the way to the school several blocks down.

Julie took a few bites of her cereal. She remembered that school. It was her school long ago. She wondered if the little girl’s path would pan out like hers. She hoped it would be better.

Grrrr tat-tat grrrr tat-tat!

The owners of the makeshift booths on the corner were setting up for the day. Julie wished someone would shut them down. The items they sold were either fake or didn’t do what they should do. Like the black handbag that she thought was a top designer. When she looked at the label closely, the name was spelled differently. She was willing to overlook that, but couldn’t when the bottom fell out. Getting her money back was like trying to pull the tooth of a hungry lion. The handbag ended up in the dumpster.

Julie chuckled. She recalled the “Dumpster Boys”.  A name she secretly gave to a group of 4 or 5 homeless men who stayed in the alley next to her apartment. When she’d walk home from work some would be sleeping while others wandered out onto the sidewalk begging for change. She’s encountered them on occasion, giving what she could or dropping off some food or water. Now that she’s unemployed, she wondered if her fate would be the same. She had some savings, but that will last but for so long.

She took another bite of her cereal. This time looking down pondering how close she was getting to her last meal. Julie heard arguing. She looked below to see a couple walking away from her building. She recognized them, but didn’t know their names. They’re usually lovey-dovey, or at least that’s how they were on most occasions, but today something was obviously wrong.

Julie started to feel sad. She wanted to be with someone even if it was to argue. Dating right now wouldn’t be a good thing. She had too much on her plate trying to survive without employment.

GettyBut almost as if her thoughts had been read, Julie looked up to see a handsome man watching her from a building across the street. He waved. She hesitantly waved back. She tried to look away, but when her gaze returned, he was still looking – this time smiling. He made a motion like drinking from a cup and saucer then pointed down. He followed the gesture of a shrug as if asking a question. Julie could only assume that he was asking her to meet for coffee. She wasn’t sure if she should. Then again, what did she have to lose?

She quickly dressed in jeans and a black floral top.  She thought about putting her hair in a bun, but opted to comb through the kinks instead  Julie felt excited about the prospect, but started to second guess herself again, wondering if it was too much of a snap decision.  It was just coffee, so she went about her way.

On the sidewalk in front of her building was the handsome man.

“Hi, I’m Mark!”

“Julie.  Nice to meet you.”

“Do you want to go to Zekman’s for some coffee and fresh rolls?”

In her head, Julie was doing back flips.  My how she craved the strudel, but she didn’t want to be rude.  She’d get a roll instead unless Mark left the decision open.

“Sure, they have the best baked goods.”

Julie and Mark began walking in the direction of Zekman’s.

“It’s one of the reasons I moved into the neighborhood.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, my dad used to work the graveyard shift at the old steel mill when I was growing up.  He’d bring home fresh rolls sometimes.  I loved the smell.”

Julie thought Mark’s story was cute, but then again a little off that a grown man would move to a place based off of breads and pastries.  She tried to sequester her judgement so that she wasn’t ruling out yet another guy because of something that was odd to her.  “So where is your family now?”

“My mom and dad retired and moved to the south.”

“Oh, must be nice.”

Mark opened the door to Zekman’s and allowed Julie to enter before him.  She was making a mental check mark in her head noting that he had done something right.

They walked up to the counter.  Julie hesitated.  She had her wallet, but didn’t have enough money to buy her usual order of 2 apple strudels and a large coffee.  She decided to hold back and let Mark order first.  He did, then asked her to place her order – he was buying.  Thank goodness!  She made yet another check mark in her head.  He was on a roll.  She went for the apple strudel with light icing and a cup of coffee.

Blessed DadThe pair took a seat at a small table near the big picture window.  Julie wasn’t sure what to talk about.  She looked out hoping for inspiration.  Luckily, Mark filled the silence.

“So what do you do?”

“Well, I used to be an office manager.”

“What do you mean, used to be?”

Julie felt embarrassed and didn’t want to come across like a loser.  “I was laid off a few months ago.”

“Sorry to hear that.  How’s the job hunt been?”

Julie gave Mark a deadpan look.

“I see.  Not so good.”

“Just one slammed door after another. It’s really frustrating and disappointing.”

“Are you looking to do the same thing?”

“I’d like to, but open to try something different if the opportunity presents itself.”

“Well, I may have something up your alley.  I’m the owner of a project management firm.  We help businesses get up and running or realign to new goals.  I’ve been looking for someone to assist with one of our projects.  Would you be interested?”

Julie’s eyes grew wide.  She couldn’t believe her ears.  Was this man offering her a job?  “Sure, sure I’d be interested.”  Julie second-guessed her enthusiasm.  She was desperate to find work, but in this moment she didn’t think it was a good look as a prospective mate or employee.

“Great!  Come by the office tomorrow morning around 9.  I’ll have you interview with H.R. and the manager over the project.”

“Thank you!” Julie was grateful, but she didn’t know Mark.  Why was he helping her?  She wanted to ask, but thought it rude.

“You’re wondering why I mentioned the job?”

Julie was astonished that he read her mind, but glad it was out there.  “Well, yeah.  That and why you asked me out for coffee.”

“I’ve noticed you around.  Saw how you helped the homeless people in the neighborhood and greeted people even though around here most don’t talk to a soul.  I thought you must be a good-hearted person…and…I wanted to meet you.  I didn’t know about your being laid off until you said something just now.”

Julie didn’t know what to say.  Instead she took a bite of strudel while observing Mark glaze his roll with butter and honey.  She was glad she took a chance and excepted the invitation.  So far Mark turned out to be a nice guy and possibly a lead to her future – one way or another.

Photo: Oculta, Getty Images, Getty Images, Blessed Dad