There Comes A Time – Part One [FICTION]

Dumbells

In an effort to take control of her life once again, one woman begins at the gym. (Photo by Garen Meguerian, Flickr)

Clunk! Carla dropped the weights, her arms too weak to curl fifty pounds at once. She hadn’t been to the gym in years, and she winced from the effort. Sweat dripped from her brow, her face was flushed, and she felt as though she wanted to vomit. She chugged some water and wiped her face, then tried a lighter weight and successfully completed a set, even if it was a little on the shaky side.

After replacing the weight on the rack, she faced herself in the mirror and did a self inspection. For thirty-eight, she looked pretty good, she must admit, even if there was room for improvement. Her muscle tone needed work obviously, and her boobs and butt would definitely look better with some tightening up. She realized she was never going to have the svelte figure she’d had as a high school cheerleader again, after all she had given birth twice. Thankfully she’d never given up swimming, because it had helped her maintain her figure when many moms had muffin tops or worse. Determined not to let it happen to her, she sighed, then grabbed the weight again to complete another set.

Thirty minutes later, Carla finished her workout. She looked around at the other people in the gym. Many of them hadn’t even broken a sweat, yet her Van Halen embossed top clung to her as though she’d participated in a wet t-shirt contest over spring break. It was disheartening.

“Don’t let the gym bunnies get to you,” a voice said.

Carla turned to look into the luminous brown eyes of a round-faced woman. A big smile spread across her face and her curly brown locks were pushed up into a makeshift bun and held in place with a scrunchie. “The gym bunnies?”

“Yeah, that’s what I call them. They always remind me of the ski bunnies who hit the slopes only to try and find themselves a rich husband, except these gals frequent the gym instead. They’re not really interested in working out. They’re more concerned whether or not the hot CEO is checking out their assets, if you know what I mean.” The woman grinned, as she blotted at her heaving bosom with a towel. “I’m Daphne,” she said, “and you’re new.”

Carla laughed and introduced herself in return. Then she asked, “Is it that obvious? That I’m new, I mean.”

“Maybe a smidge. You have the same shell-shocked expression I wore when I first came here a year ago. But don’t worry, it goes away eventually.”

You’ve been coming here for a year, Carla wondered. “Good to know.” If she’d been coming here for a year, what had she been doing? Daphne still looked like she could be in a “before” picture for Weight Watchers. Her sudden raucous laugh took Carla by surprise. “Did I miss something?”

“Honey, you’re looking at me as though I’ve been forking down donuts while I’ve been running on the treadmill. But that’s okay. I’d probably look at me that way too. They all do at first. But I’ve lost over a hundred pounds in the past year, I’ll have you know.”

“One hundred? Wow!”

“Yeah, when I first came in here, I was a hot mess. But the doctor had given me an ultimatum. Lose the weight or start shopping for coffins. At thirty-six I wasn’t ready to cash in my chips just yet, so I decided to get my butt in gear. Besides, there’s no way I’m being laid to rest in a piano box.”

Carla stared at Daphne with a new appreciation for what the woman had gone through and all the work she had put in. “Good for you! You seem to have a great attitude. I wish I felt as zealous as you do.”

“When the Grim Reaper is chasing after you with his sickle, you find a good attitude pretty quick.” Daphne’s smile suddenly vanished, however, as she glanced at the clock on the wall. “Oh my! I didn’t realize the time. I have to get back to the office. Nice to meet you Carla. Keep your chin up and I hope to see you back here tomorrow.”

“You can count on it,” Carla said as she watched Daphne hustle toward the locker room. “Nice to meet you,” she called, just as the big woman with the large personality disappeared from view.

Well at least I’ve made one friend here, she thought as she started walking the perimeter of the gym. Carla didn’t want to cramp later because she’d forgotten to cool down. Besides, if Daphne could put in the kind of work that it took to shed a hundred pounds, she couldn’t think of any excuses that should keep her from working out too.

The door chimed as Carla walked into Little Things, the store she’d opened more than a decade ago after Thomas, her eldest, was born. As a new mom, she’d been overwhelmed by her first baby. Her own mother had died when she was nineteen from leukemia, and her mother-in-law was a royal pain, so she’d had no maternal figure in her life to look to when it came to seeking baby advice. Of course, she’d read What to Expect When You’re Expecting like most new moms, but there was something to be said for having a friend or parent guide you through the process. And that’s when the idea for the store was born. She realized other women were likely in the same boat, and Little Things became more than just a maternity boutique, it became a club of sorts where moms could hang out, share ideas, support each other, and of course buy everything a mom might need in one place. The store was a brilliant success, and in the decade since she’d opened three other shops in different parts of the state.

“Hey chickens,” Carla called as she approached the cash register where two of her clerks, Sonia and Debra were folding onesies for a display. “How are things going this morning?”

“Excellent,” Sonia, a young mom from Ecuador, said. She’d worked at the store for about a year now, and she was a godsend. With the rise in Spanish speaking customers coming in, she’d been able to provide the bilingual skills Carla lacked. “My book club just wrapped up a little bit ago, and the ladies loved the horchata I added to the cafe menu.”

In addition to clothing, diapers, and other typical baby items, the stores had added on small cafes a few years before. Carla’s customers loved it, because they had lots of tasty menu items that were perfect for nursing mothers. “Good thing I listen to my employees then,” Carla said. “How many ladies attend your Spanish book club now anyway?”

“We had twelve today,” Sonia said.

“Well done.”

“I think we’ll have about that many for the Mommy and Me book club later this afternoon too,” Deb said. She was the store manager, a grandmother and empty nester who had been with Carla since the beginning. “I’m introducing the kiddos to a new series of board books which will help them start to recognize words and colors.”

“Sounds great. And I love this new collection,” Carla said, looking down at the little clothes the women were folding. She reached out to feel the fabric, and it was soft as down against her skin. “That new supplier really came through. Have we sold many?”

“Every time we open a new box, they’re gone by the end of the day. The moms love them because they really hold up,” Deb said.

Carla smiled, but the wattage had dimmed, and she nodded as she withdrew her fingers from the fabric and tapped her nails on the counter top. “Listen, I’m going to be in the back for a while. I’ve got some calls to make and some paperwork to plow through since I haven’t been in for a while.”

“We’re glad to have you back,” Sonia said, offering Carla a reassuring smile.

“We are indeed,” Deb agreed. “It hasn’t been the same here without you.”

Carla nodded, then walked deeper into the store without really seeing any of the new displays the girls had put up. When she pushed open the door to her office, she felt even more breathless than she had during her workout. She wasn’t sure if she could do this, or be here again. And as she dropped her purse on her desk and fell into her chair she saw the family photograph that had been taken of her with Aidan and their boys the year before. She stared at it for only a moment, but it was long enough for the familiar pain in her chest to become acute once again. Without thinking, she reached out and flipped the portrait down so she couldn’t see it, and began to sob.

Author’s Note: Although I am best known as an editor and journalist, I also love weaving a good story. So this month I’m trying something new. I’m writing a serial I hope you’ll enjoy. Carla, Daphne and friends are characters that have been living in my mind for a while now, and I feel that it is time they finally see the light of day. Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by strong women I love dearly, people who manage to survive adversities that would cripple most men, and I feel their presence frequently in my writing. I hope you enjoy the story and will follow along as their journey unfolds. As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts! 

Love, Jathan

Click here to read part two of There Comes A Time. 

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

6 Responses to There Comes A Time – Part One [FICTION]

  1. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    Even the strongest of women needs a little help starting over again. For a successful businesswoman with a chain of stores under her belt, that help comes from some unexpected places. We hope you enjoy our new fiction series, THERE COMES A TIME.

  2. Pingback: There Comes A Time – Part Two [FICTION] | Jathan Fink

  3. Pingback: There Comes A Time – Part Three [FICTION] | Jathan Fink

  4. Pingback: There Comes A Time – Part Four [FICTION] | Jathan Fink

  5. Pingback: There Comes A Time – Part Five [FICTION] | Jathan Fink

  6. Pingback: There Comes A Time – Part Six [FICTION] | Jathan Fink

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