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a short story by Christina Hanford

“The muse has flown the coop.” she would announce aloud, even if nobody was around to hear. Hoping to summon the brush back to her hand, Janet scheduled a ‘fun, exhilarating, self-indulging vacation far away.’ Today, she has returned.

A familiar tone interrupts Janet’s already half-awake slumber. An orchestral rendition of Police’s Every Breath You Take, rings out. Her eyes are open. “Every move you make…” She knows without looking that it’s Lauren.

Lauren and Janet are the best of friends. She swipes to answer and hears, “I can’t wait to hear all about it, Janet,” Lauren said. It has only been a day since she has returned home. Janet’s response at this point was a bit curt, but all in fun. “I will see you at lunch, Lauren.” Janet rolls her eyes. “Trust me, I have so much to tell you. It was the best week ever!” Janet ends the call and starts to get ready for her lunch date. She rolls her eyes as she walks past the clothes now strewn everywhere – out of the travel bag, and onto the floor. She will get back to that mess later.

The twenty-minute drive to the restaurant gave Janet a little more time to think about the self-indulging vacation she really had. Winter is not as bitter today, as it was just a few short weeks ago. Not the desirable temperature, still, Janet can feel her mood get better as the day gets warmer.

Lauren, in her floppy hippy-style hat, ran to Janet’s car as she parked. “How do I even begin to tell her,” She laughs to herself.

“I’m so excited to hear about your vacation.” Lauren giggled. They hugged. “Great.” Janet said sheepishly. They were immediately greeted at the host station. “Two please.” said Janet. “Janet? What was that?” Lauren is anxiously trailing behind.

Seated at their table and beverages ordered, Lauren was ready to get the scoop. She was leaning in and ready to live Janet’s adventure with her. “Well, time to spill,” she laughed. Janet took a deep breath and, in an effort, to deflect the subject away from her, she says, “What about George? Did he finally agree to that vasectomy?” She gives her a wink and laughs. “Did you win the bet?” “Yep!” Lauren snickered and quickly started to probe Janet again. “Come on, Janet. In all seriousness. How was your vacation?” “Well...” Janet paused.

She sat back in her chair and said, “I didn’t go.” The whole restaurant could surely hear Lauren when she said, “What?!” Janet nods. “I’m not kidding.” Lauren is now annoyed. “What have you been doing for a week?” Janet smiles, leans in, and says, “I started to paint again.”

Lauren now softens. “That is wonderful. It has been so long, and you used to love to paint,” she sighs. “It is so good to have you home!”

Art Academy of Milton will be featuring short stories written by the students of Michael Rash's Prose Writers' Workshop. To learn more about the next workshop and other events, visit our classes page!


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