--> New In Town | Short Story | Marissa Mcfarland | Pawners Paper

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New In Town | Short Story | Marissa Mcfarland

New In Town is an evocative short story that gives a glimpse of romance and loss. You can read it on Pawners Paper.

New In Town

Pawners Paper Short Story


           Ivy startles awake, wiping away the wine-induced drool from the side of her face with her favorite blanket. She hears it again. The persistent banging on the door. Her eyes flutter open, grit clinging to her lashes. She moans, rolling her body off the sofa. Every inch of her aches, her temples the worst of it.  What time is it? 

       Stumbling to the door, she trips over a pillow laying in the middle of her oriental rug. She stops, staring down at it and her kids’ toothless grins stare back up at her—some Christmas present her husband gave her a few years ago. The banging continues—but so does she. 

         Holding the door handle, Ivy takes a deep breath to stop the roiling in her stomach. Opening the door an inch to avoid the late morning sunshine, she holds her pink robe together with her other hand, and right there before her on the other side is standing, a man. A stranger.

       "If this bastard woke me up to preach to me about some religion, I am going to lose my shit on him.", she murmurs to her herself. "Ivy, you don’t even know this man. Show some grace." She abruptly cautioned herself. "Fine!"

        “Can I help you?”, she asks.

      The stranger on the doorstep coughs, glancing at her chest.  Ivy, following his eyes, realizes her robe has slipped open. Her see-through negligee plays peekaboo with the outside world. Sighing, she tightens the belt but offers no apology. Instead she asks again. “Can I help you?”

“Did I wake you?” he asks. 

“What makes you think that?” she retorts, not hiding the annoyance in her voice. 

“Sorry. I can come back some other time.” He slowly backs away, nearly tripping off the step. 

Come back? Seriously? “It’s fine. What is it you need? If you want to try to sell me some religion, don’t bother. I stopped believing in a god a long time ago.” 

      He raises his eyebrows, gulping. “I just moved into the house across the street. I saw you head out this morning in your minivan, so I assumed you were awake. Sorry.” 

“Yeah, I took my kids to school. I didn’t sleep well last night.”

Shut up, Ivy. He doesn’t need to know the details of your life. Be nice!*

“Kids? How many?”

“Two. One of each.”

“Ah, the million-dollar family. How lucky.”

“Is there something you need? A cup of sugar or coffee or something?” All Ivy can think about is curling back up on her couch and going back to la-la land. 

“I just wanted to introduce myself.” He sticks out his hand. 

    She stares at it. A debate begins inside her brain. Good girl—your belt isn’t trustworthy. Bad girl—who cares? Bad girl wins. Inching the door open a little more, she reaches through the opening and takes his hand. Calloused. Rough. Ivy feels things she hasn’t felt in a long time. The tingling between her legs a sign it has been some time since her husband reached across the bed for her. 

       “Want to come inside for some coffee?” Ivy glances over her shoulder, quickly analyzing her living room.  

          What the hell, Ivy? The house is a disaster! *

        Her favorite black and white buffalo check blanket tossed across the sofa. The random pillow on the rug. Wine glasses, their bottoms stained red, scattered on surfaces—abandoned and forgotten. Laundry spilling out of the basket, in desperate need of folding. 

         Ivy, did you see the abs rippling through that man’s shirt? Who cares what the house looks like! *

           “I’d love to. I haven’t found the coffee pot in my maze of boxes yet.” 

            “So, what’s your name?” Ivy asks, stepping back to let him in. “’New neighbor across the street’ doesn’t roll off the tongue too easily.”

      “Joshua. Josh. Whichever,” he babbles, glancing around her living room. His eyes stop at the mantel. Walking across the hardwood floors, Ivy hopes he doesn’t notice the dust bunnies that have taken over the corners of the room. 

            Drawn to a picture of the perfect family of four on a beach vacation, he picks it up, his fingers glossing over the glass. “Cute kids.” 

          Ivy reddens. “Thanks,” she replies, taking the frame from his hand and gently places it back onto the wooden beam. “Let’s get you that cup of coffee.” 

           She turns her back to him, pouring the hot liquid into mugs. Hers pink and glittery with a gold crown as the handle. “World’s Best Mom” in black—bold against the pale color of the mug. “Some mom,” Ivy mumbles to herself. 

             “Did you say something?”

              Ivy freezes. 
              
              Did I say something out loud?*

           Oh hell, Ivy. You’re going to scare this sexy specimen right out of the house!

           Feeling his gaze on her, she slowly turns. Josh has made himself comfortable on a stool at the island. “How do you like your coffee?” she recovers. 
             
             “Black.”

         “Same.” She slides his mug across the island, leaning in on her elbows. Her belt has yet again deceived her breasts, spilling them out onto the island between her arms. This time, he doesn’t alert her with a cough. 

               Ivy, put them away!*

              Oh, stop being such a damn prude!*

           Sighing, she tugs harder on her belt, double knotting it. “So, are you married, Josh?”

                “Recently divorced.”

                “Kids?”

              “No kids.” His eyes wander to the fridge, covered in brightly colored artwork done in a variety of crayons and markers. “Probably for the best. She wouldn’t have been a good mother. Too selfish.”  He juts his chin out in the direction of her mug. “Unlike you.” 

            Ivy pales. “I need to get some laundry done.” She walks briskly toward the door, holding it open. She looks back into the kitchen. Josh is just getting up from the stool. Agitated, she yells back through the house, “you can keep the mug!”

          Josh can take a hint. He heads in her direction, stopping in the door frame. He slowly turns in her direction, and Ivy wonders if he is going to try and kiss her. 

                 Oh, you know you want it. 
                  I am a married woman! 

             Ivy takes a step back into her personal space bubble. 

               A slow smile reaches Josh’s eyes. “Thanks for the coffee. Come on over anytime if you get lonely during the day. I work from home.”
  
               “What do you do?”

             “I’m a cartoonist. I can show your kids my work some time if they’re into superheroes.” 
Ivy merely nods. She needs him out of the house. Now. 

           Josh walks across her snake-like brick path, overrun with weeds, winding his way through Ivy’s front yard. As he steps up onto the sidewalk in front of his own home, he’s greeted by a passerby out for a morning jog. 

         “Beautiful day today,” Josh pipes up as he passes by. 

        The man pauses, debating whether he wants to slow his heart beat down to chat. “Lovely day for a run. You live here?” he asks, pointing to the brick home. 

    “Yes, moved in yesterday. Needed fortification,” he adds, holding up his mug. 

               The man nods his head in the direction of Josh’s caffeine dealer. Josh’s eyes follow. A curtain falls. A shadow backs away from the window. They are being watched.

          “Such a pity,” the jogger states flatly, shaking his head.

                “What is?” Josh inquires. 

                “The crash.” 

                “Crash?” 

           “Yeah. Last year. She lost everything in seconds. Her husband. Her son. Her daughter. All dead in an instant. Hit head on by a drunk driver in the middle of the night. On their way back from visiting family.” 

           Josh feels sick. The world starts to spin around him. He sits down on the curb, his head between his knees. Deep breaths in. Deep breaths out. “Why didn’t she tell me?” he whispers.

              “Poor soul. She keeps going every day like they never died. Drives to their school every morning. Drives to their school every afternoon. Minivan door slides opens. No kids get out. No kids get in. Every single day.” 

                “Was she in the crash?” 

           “Only survivor. Heard rumors that she held her babies in her arms until help arrived. They had to pull her off of them.”

            “How does someone get over that?” Josh wonders out loud. 

                “They don’t.” 
 
            That evening, Ivy tucks her children into bed. She crawls in next to them and reads them their favorite bedtime story. 



———————————————————————————––—

Marissa Mcfarland is born and raised in Eastern Pennsylvania in a Sicilian household. She now reside in Clemson, South Carolina currently member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Italian American Writers Association, Beyond the Pages online book club, and two online writing groups. She is the author of two novels, When Goodbyes Begin and Twitch as well as multiple short stories.

You can reach out to her via her Social Media handle: www.instagram.com/marissawritesbooks

Picture: Pexel





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Pawners Paper: New In Town | Short Story | Marissa Mcfarland
New In Town | Short Story | Marissa Mcfarland
New In Town is an evocative short story that gives a glimpse of romance and loss. You can read it on Pawners Paper.
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