–a special series of distraction stories

Written during the Corona Virus Pandemic with the hope of bringing a smile to someone’s face – or at least provide a short distraction during these challenging times. Stories are created based on one-word prompts that were submitted by friends. Each friend is assigned a character name and I develop a short fictitious story that integrates and upholds the word.

Odessa Hammond: Perseverance

Odessa stood in the same place she had over 25 years ago. But it was different this time. The lights were dim, and the room had undergone a makeover – no doubt necessitated by the changing times. She was surrounded by silence, with only the faintest sounds off in the distance of the corridor.

“Whispers of the past,” she quietly said as she set down her bags. The last time she was here, the room was filled with promise and smelled of young ambition.

Now, however, it was empty. Letting out a sigh, Odessa stepped back and leaned against the wall. Resting her head gently against the wall, she closed her eyes and took three long deep breaths. On each inhale, Odessa tried to shush the thoughts that made her want to walk away with reckless abandon. And with each exhale, she did her best to let it go.

No, Odessa. You’ve come too far. You are Odessa Hammond. You are strong, you are funny, and you have so much experience to share. You can do this, Odessa. Remember how hard you’ve worked, remember what you’ve overcome, and remember your why. It’s what’s brought you here. 

Odessa wasn’t one to give herself pep talks. She was usually the one people turned to for them. But today, it was only her and this big expanse of a room staring back at her. It seemed both intimidating and exciting. It’s the place that started it all, and it would be the place that she brought it all full circle.

The loud, obnoxious ding on Odessa’s phone startled her. She looked at the reminder. “Almost time,” she said – her hesitancy replaced with assurance. Odessa could feel the tightness in her chest loosen, and she took one more healing deep breath. She was breathing in 1-2-3, breathing out 1-2-3.

Odessa stepped away from the wall, turned up the lights, and walked to the back of the room. She unlocked the door, turned around, and faced the front of the room. Her room. The place where she would teach and the place where she would learn. It was here where she learned much about perseverance, and now they had welcomed her home.

Odessa returned to the front of the room and waited. This time as the teacher. “Who are you kidding, Odessa,” she thought. “They are going to teach you also.”

Soon, the students started piling in – full of hope, full of ambition, and full of promise. And no doubt some perseverance too.


Laura Mikolaitis
Laura Mikolaitis
Laura credits her writing, which laid dormant for years, to her late mom, who always believed in her. Writing unabashedly from the heart and inspired by millions of moments, three tenets of evergreen advice that her mom always shared with her are her guiding principles. Whether it is poetry, fiction, or a personal essay, her love for the written word feeds her mind, body, and spirit. Laura’s creativity also comes to life in her passion for photography. Her ongoing love affair with the moon, her joy for family and friends, her connection to nature, and being a loving canine mom often become some of her best subjects. Laura has held many roles throughout her professional career, including Brand Manager, Project Manager, and Director of Global Business Development and Sales Operations. In addition, she has a background in consumer-packaged goods, manufacturing, and textiles. Laura currently works in biotechnology for Berkshire Corporation as their Product Marketing Manager. She holds a Master of Science degree in Communications and Information Management from Bay Path University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from SUNY Oswego. Originally from Northern NY, Laura resides with her husband and canine child in a small town in Massachusetts that captured her heart years ago.

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    • Oh, great! I’m so glad that you could identify with Odessa, Laura. Hopefully, that means I’ve done my job by drawing in the reader. I appreciate you taking the time to read this piece, Laura. And pardon the lapse in response time. I’m not sure how I missed your comment.

  1. Thank you, Laurie! Hmmm….good insight. I can see your point in that a writer’s style could lend insight into who they are, but it could be the opposite also. Perhaps some may write in a persona less like them as an escape. But, yes, with my writing, parts of me carry over into my style.

    I am very process-oriented, and I do wear my heart on my sleeve. So, I see those things seeping into many of my stories. I draw from many sources of inspiration when I write, not the least of which is nature and experience.

  2. I love your writing, Laura. You give us hints of where we are, but you hold the location until the end. We are drawn in to focus, not on a room, but on the person leaning against one of its walls: Odessa. Beautiful writing.

    Your story echoes an observation from one of the educators we interviewed for our book: “I think there’s a huge misnomer that teachers get into teaching because they love to teach. I think teachers get into teaching because they love to learn.”

    • Jeff, thank you. While writing this series, I try to keep the person in mind who provided me the word. And my friend, Kelly, who offered the prompt of perseverance very much embodies Odessa. Although she isn’t a professor at a University, I could see her in that role – and I know that given her current profession, she learns a great deal from her patients.

      I’m finding respite in writing these stories, and challenge myself each time I write one. I hope that the more I write, the more I’ll grow as a writer. And it certainly helps to have people like you, who I admire as a writer, to inspire me. Thank you for the ongoing support and encouragement.

  3. The loveliness of coming home and completing the cycle. The student becomes the teacher who is also a student. I found myself breathing with her, feeling that anticipation/anxiety/exhilaration… Well done, Laura, in a few paragraphs, you built some real tension. Some real storytelling gifts, and thank you for sharing it.

    • Thank you, Tom. I enjoyed writing this piece. Some of the prompts I’ve received have such depth to them, so I try to convey it as best as I can. I also try to weave a tiny part of the person who provided the prompt into the story. It’s been fun and challenging, but worth every tap of the keyboard. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. There’s more to come!

    • Oh, thanks so much, Melissa! I’m thrilled that you love it! I think some of my desires bled over into this piece. I’ve often thought about being a teacher. Some of my good friends are teachers, and I so enjoy seeing them light up when they talk about how a student taught them something. So, that carried over also. I do recall from following the work that you do that you used to be a teacher. You still are, by the way. I learn a great deal from your neuro nuggets!

    • Thank you so much, Darlene! I love a bit of intrigue, so what better way to infuse some into this pandemic lockdown. It’s a good way to channel some energy, and hopefully, make someone smile.

    • Thanks so much, Carol! I appreciate your taking the time to read this story and sharing your thoughts. Words certainly can transport us, and I’ve often been taken to another space but reading others’ words. It’s good to know that mine can have some impact also.

  4. Oh, Laura, you must keep writing! I felt I was reading an adventure story… I like the way your words run out slowly… I think we can tell something about a writer by their style of writing and choice of words they use… do you agree?
    Are you a careful methodical person? And, sensitive?
    Love the idea of writing a little snippet from a word.