–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.

Francesca Marsh: Worried

Francesca heard the whistle of the tea kettle and hurried into the kitchen. She hadn’t slept overly well during the night, and her motivation for doing anything remotely productive was waning. So, she prepared her Chai and headed out to her sanctuary.

Making her way toward the gardens, Francesca breathed in the crisp Fall air. It had always been her favorite season, and each year she welcomed it with open arms and a new appreciation for the change the season offered.

She marveled at the trees now dancing in bold colors – orange, red, yellow – a variegated collage of wonder against the backdrop of the sky.

It was like perfect harmony, and, at least for the moment, it distracted her worried mind.

Francesca had built her gardens on the perimeter of the yard, and in the center was her sanctuary. She had designed it herself with a little help from some home improvement shows, online shopping, and a flair for design. It was her shabby chic fortress – comfortable and welcoming and a perfect place to escape. Not to mention that it contained enough memories, laughter, and secrets to last a lifetime.

Exactly how I meant it to be, she thought as she settled into the oversized plantation loveseat and took a sip of her Chai. She would never tell the secrets that were shared here – or would she. One, in particular, weighed on her, and she couldn’t help but wonder if she had made the right decision.

It’s what kept her up last night, and the night before that – and so many nights before that. She wrestled with it, and as much as she tried to forget what had happened, she couldn’t. Often it felt like she was trapped underneath a steel case – heavy enough to keep her still, but not quiet.

Francesca thought it ironic that here amid such a calm and serene place that had brought so much happiness, that a burden of this magnitude resided so unfathomable that she shuddered to think what would happen if the truth came out.

“How could this be?” Francesca said to herself, dismayed at the reality of knowing. She often wondered if it hadn’t happened.

“Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me? Perhaps it was a dream? You always had vivid dreams, Francesca. Don’t you remember how they used to wake you up at night, and you’d be gasping for air? And how they felt so real? You worried that they might come true.”

Francesca replayed every detail.

Taking a few more sips of her Chai – and a few deep breaths – she was startled by the loud creak of the gate opening. Francesca turned around.

“It can’t be!” she blurted her heart racing.

“Hello, Francesca. It’s been a while. You look worried. Is something wrong?”

Francesca couldn’t speak. But she knew what she had to do.


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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    • Thanks so much, Larry! I had fun writing this piece, and something tells me I need to expand on it. I appreciate you taking the time to read it, and hope that you are doing well.

    • Thanks so much, Darlene! I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll continue the story or leave it to the reader’s imagination. When I initially wrote this piece, I had an idea of who it was that opened the gate, but it continues to morph into possibilities. So, for now, let your imagination tumble, and if I decide to provide more clues, I’ll be sure to share it with all of you.

      I appreciate your support and encouragement!

  1. I am wanting to see what keeps Francesca up at nights. I know for me, it’s an every night ritual of going to be but then waking at the 2 o’clock hours and going downstairs to read, pray, meditate until 3 p.m. Then I head up to bed again and try to fall asleep.

    • Ah yes, Lynn, my bewitching hour tends to be 2 am also. I need to learn to get up and read or distract my mind so that I fall back asleep more restfully. Initially, I had an idea of what keeps Francesca up at night, but it continues to morph in my mind. I may have to revisit this piece and figure out how to expand on it. It is one of my favorites in this series. We could all use a bit of intrigue from time to time, so I’m glad that I could share some with all of you.

      I wish you well, Lynn.

    • That seems to be the consensus, Jeff! I had one idea when I wrote this piece of what and who was keeping Francesca on edge, but the more I go back and re-read the story, the more the next chapter morphs in my mind. Maybe I do need to finish it or add some additional intrigue. Who knows where it could lead or what happened that has Francesca wrestling with her inner self. Is it a past lover, a friend, a colleague? Or could it be…

      Thanks for reading, Jeff. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the story. I do hope you find a remedy for that insomnia. I find 2 am to be my bewitching hour.

    • Thanks so much, Laurie! I’m pleased that you liken the series. It was fun to write, and I’m sad that I finished with the last prompt on Friday. I may have to open it back up!

    • Ha, ha! Thanks, Laura. A few people have wondered the same. The truth is that I had one idea when I wrote it who it might be, but it continues to morph in my mind. I’m not sure I’ll ever write more to this piece, but anything is possible.

      Thanks so much for reading, and I’m glad that you liked the story!