Futures and Frosting Page 1

1. Green Jell-O and Snapping Turtles

I have a dream.

And in this dream I’m under the covers in bed, just a few scant inches away from Carter’s body. I stare at his prone form lying next to me, the greenish-blue glow from the alarm clock on the bedside table providing just enough illumination for me to see the shallow rise and fall of his chest. The sheet is draped low over his h*ps as he sleeps peacefully with one arm flung over his eyes and the other resting on his taut, na**d stomach. I slide my body ever so slowly across the bed, careful not to disturb him, until I’m so close I can feel the heat from his skin warming me from head to toe. I pull my arms out from under the sheet and my hands reach out towards him. I connect with his smooth, muscular chest, slide my fingers up his body, and...choke the ever living shit out of him.

Okay, that’s not really a dream. It’s more of a wish if you will, something I fantasize about when business is slow at the shop, when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, or pretty much every waking moment of every single day when I find myself yawning and cranky from lack of sleep. But it’s not like I would ever follow through with this fantasy. I love Carter. I really do. Sometimes it’s just a toss-up on whether or not I love sleep more.

A few months ago, I hadn't even known Carter existed. Okay, I knew he existed; somewhere out there, over the rainbow, in a land far, far away living his own life. I never believed in a million years that he would ever stop and give me, his one-night-stand from college, a second thought. Turns out I was wrong on both counts. A land far, far away had turned out to be a few miles from where I lived and that second thought I figured he had never given? Well, much to my dismay, and using a Harlequin Romance novel cliché, he had spent years pining for me and searching the world for 'the one that got away'.

That's me by the way, in case you haven’t been paying attention.

Here I am, a twenty-four-year-old single mother to Gavin (the wonderful parting gift I received in appreciation of my mad virginity-giving-up skillz, ‘yo) when suddenly, the guy I spontaneously gave said virginity to after a rousing game of beer pong at a frat party shows up in my home town to whisk me off my feet and claim the son he never knew he had. This doesn’t happen in real life. Something this perfect only happens in books or John Hughes movies.

Alright, so Carter has never stood outside my window holding a radio above his head and he's never run down the street to sweep me up into his arms for a toe-curling kiss and hand me a pair of diamond earrings he gave to some other skank just moments before. Our story isn't necessarily a textbook eighties movie. There have been anxiety attacks, freak-outs, drunken ramblings, inappropriate cursing, misunderstandings, arguments, two-finger eye-threats, and chocolate covered sex in a public place that only by the hair of a gnat’s testicle avoided being publicly televised. Through it all though, Carter and I have managed to work through our problems with the speed an accuracy of a thirty-minute sitcom on prime time television. It’s no “Some Kind of Wonderful,” but it’s damn near close. I’m still waiting for my street kiss and diamond earrings, though.

In the middle of all this chaos, I am also busy following my dream of opening my own candy and cookie shop. I know right? Why not add one more thing to worry about to my growing pile. There’s a reason why I have a magnet on my fridge that says, “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

My best friend Liz and I had always talked of one day owning businesses together. While I was busy with the whole single mom gig and put my aspirations on a back burner, Liz was finishing up college and got a head start on her dream. Little did I know, she had also made plans to assure that my hopes didn’t die along with my ability to sneeze and not piss myself.

I’ve always been a pretty independent person, so having someone hand me my dream in a neat little package with a bow on top took some getting used to. Liz had inherited a good chunk of change from her grandfather when he passed away years earlier and putting that money to good use by purchasing a building where we could have adjoining businesses was the only option for her. It had taken me a few days to get my head out of my ass and realize that she didn’t do it out of pity. She had done it because she loves me and having her dream come true wouldn’t have meant nearly as much to her if mine wasn’t becoming a reality right along with her.

So in summary, I am EXHAUSTED. And I guess that brings us back to my choking fantasy. Living with another human being takes a little getting used to. So far there are only minimal amounts of irritating qualities we find in each other, and we’ve overcome those obstacles and are still growing strong. I love Carter more than I ever thought possible, and he has proven to be the best father a woman could ever want for her son. But I swear to God, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Christ’s childhood friend, Biff, that if he doesn’t stop waking me up at four-fifty-eight in the morning, every f**king morning, with his buzz saw snoring, I am going to go David Carradine on his ass.

Oh yes, young grasshopper, you shall choke in your sleep.

Although the more I think about it, David Carradine choked himself in some weird sex thing, didn’t he? I don’t think I can convince Carter to choke himself out no matter how na**d I get.

I’ve tried everything to make my nights of sleep less irritating. I've gently pushed his arm so he would roll over because according to Google, a simple change of position will put a halt to the snoring.

False. And shut up, everything on Google is true! How else would I know that the world’s oldest living goldfish is forty-one and his name is Fred? Or that when you type the word “askew” in Google search the page will tilt slightly clockwise? These are facts, people!

My dad had told me to try buying a box of nasal strips for Carter to fasten across the bridge of his nose every night before bed.

Didn’t work. I woke up the next morning with nasal strips stuck in places where nasal strips should never be stuck.

It’s all fun and games until you need to lock yourself in the bathroom with tweezers, a mirror, and a flashlight.

I’ve kicked my feet and smacked my hands against the mattress repeatedly in frustration while whisper-screaming about cock-sucking snorers and their lack of respect for people who sleep quietly, and I’ve jerked the covers off of him, hit him in the face with his own pillow, that I yanked out from under his head, while plugging his nose.

Hey, don’t judge me. I’m losing sleep here.

And I had only plugged his nose long enough for him to start choking on his own spit. As soon as he could speak, he told me all about the dream he was having where he thought he was suffocating and how he realized while he was dream-dying that he forgot to tell me he loved me before he went to sleep. Yes, I felt guilty. Yes, I made it up to him by ha**g s*x with him at five in the morning, and no I have never told him that it was me who actually tried to off him in his sleep.

Sometimes couples need a few secrets.

Carter thinks my irritation with his snoring is cute. Of course he does. He's not the one with his ears bleeding in the middle of the night, praying for his bed mate to asphyxiate in his sleep. Oh no, he is off in dreamland, wondering why the soundtrack of his really good sex dream suddenly includes the melody of knives being sharpened.

Last night, one of my well placed kicks to his thigh, er, I mean gentle taps, finally got him to shut up and roll over. It was a thing of beauty. The silent, peaceful tranquility that flowed through the bedroom almost made me weep with joy. Sadly, as soon as I fell asleep and began happily frolicking through my own dreamland, Carter was shaking me awake and asking if I said something. Because according to him, he had been sleeping like a rock but could have sworn he heard me ask him if the green Jell-O should go in the trunk with the snapping turtles.

A public service announcement for men: If you see that your significant other is fast asleep and your initial whispered question doesn't get a response, don't be surprised if we start spewing green vomit out of the mouths of our rapidly spinning heads as you shake us awake to ask your stupid question fifty decibels louder than the first time.

So here I am again, wide awake at five in the morning, giving the love of my life the stink eye in the dark and wondering if I will be able to keep a straight face when looking at him if I go ahead and order that chin strap contraption I saw on the Home Shopping Network the previous week. As I stare at the ceiling and wonder why a snoring prevention mechanism has to look so much like a jock strap for the face, I suddenly remember something else I read on Google not that long ago that I haven’t tried yet (Fred, the forty-one-year-old goldfish – FRED IS REAL, dammit!). The article had stated that a short, loud yell of a random, one-syllable word will break through the snoring person’s conscience just enough to get them to stop snoring without fully waking them up.

I roll my head to the side to stare at Carter’s profile. Watching him sleep soundly while I currently reside in insomnia-land, as a direct result of his deviated septum, makes me feel stabby. Since I can’t take my anger out on his septum without making him bleed, I figure I might as well try one more thing. Especially since buying the chin/jock/anti-snoring strap will require that I address Carter as Dick Face from now on. Something I’m assuming he will frown upon.

I take a deep breath and let out my one-syllable word. "F-U-U-U-U-U-U-C-K!”

In the blink of an eye Carter jolts awake with a scream, flailing his arms and legs and scrambling across the bed until he falls off the side and lands on the floor with a loud thud.

"Son of a bitch! What the hell was that?" he mutters from the floor.

"I think there’s green Jell-O in the trunk with the turtles," I state before rolling over and snuggling under the covers.

2. My Dog Has the Hungry

“I just don’t think it’s a good idea, Claire.”

I roll my eyes at my dad as I shove a tray of fresh Butter Brickle Bars into the display case under the front counter a little harder than necessary. A few of the bars jump out of their spots on the tray due to my irritation, and as I reach in to fix them, I have to force myself not to eat another one. As much as I love making sweets, I normally don’t eat very many. My tastes tend to lean more towards salty snacks. I don’t know what is wrong with me lately though. If I keep sampling the goods like this my ass is going to grow another cheek to make room for all the fat.

“I really don’t think you’ve thought this through,” my dad continues as he leans his hip against the counter and folds his arms across his chest.

I take that back. I know exactly why I’ve been pigging out on chocolate and cookies.

I reached into the glass case and grab the Butter Brickle Bar closest to me and shovel the whole thing in my mouth at once. I take a moment to savor the taste of brown sugar, vanilla, and toffee bits, letting the sugary sweetness do its trick of removing some of my stress. Since I can’t physically chuck the six-foot-two tension problem I currently have out of the store without giving myself a hernia, this will have to do. I swallow the mouthful of cookie bar and try not to think about it forming little legs and sprinting straight to my ass, leaving pats of butter behind on my h*ps as it goes. I take a deep, fortifying breath so I can deal with my father.

“Dad, Carter and I have been living together for two months. It’s a little late for this speech now don’t you think?”

My dad has never said one word for or against mine and Carter’s living arrangements ever since we first announced it on the day of Seduction and Snacks’ grand opening.

He had grunted, glared at Carter, and then walked away. That was approval as far as I had been concerned.

Now that it’s been two months and I haven’t changed my mind like he probably thought I would, suddenly he has an opinion.

“Everyone says, ‘why buy the bar when you can get the beer for free’.”

I stop with my arm in midair as I reach for a towel to wipe down the counter.

“Dad, no one says that.”

“Everyone says that,” he replies, pushing himself away from the counter and moving his hands to his hips.

I roll my eyes and began wiping crumbs off of the top of the display case.

“Really? Who?” I challenge as the bell above the door chimes and a customer walks in.

“People,” he states firmly.

I sighed and turn away from my dad to smile and greet the woman who is perusing the white chocolate section at the opposite end of the case from where we are standing. After making sure she doesn’t have any questions, I glance back at him.

“Dad, it’s two-thousand-and-twelve, not the nineteen-fifties. People live together all the time before they make any kind of huge commitment. We just need some time to get used to each other and learn to live together as a family without killing each other. It’s not that big of a deal.”

My dad huffs and it is his turn to stare at me in irritation.

“Really, Claire, when have I ever given you any kind of indication that I’m old fashioned? I just don’t want this yahoo to think he can move you and Gavin into his place and then never have to do anything to make it official. At least if he married you, I wouldn’t have to worry about your whiny ass showing up on my doorstep anytime soon wanting your old room back.”

I wonder how many Butter Brickle Bars I can fit in my mouth at one time.

“Did you really just call Carter a yahoo? How about we take a seat on the davenport so we can discuss that little hooligan and how you aren’t old fashioned in the least?” I state sarcastically.

“I should have sold you to that traveling circus when you were four. I could be out on the lake fishing right now instead of having this conversation,” he mutters.

My dad had been married twice before he married my mom, and he had his first wife Linda’s name tattooed on his arm. When I was younger I tried to change Linda to my mom’s name, Rachel, with a sharpie marker when he was sleeping. Unfortunately, he woke up before I could finish. It took him three days to wash Rinda off of his arm. When I told that story to Carter, he started singing like the Chinese men in “A Christmas Story”. Deck da hars with boughs of horry, fa-ra-ra-ra-ra, ra-ra-ra-ra! He tried joking with my dad once about it saying, “You reary roved Rinda.” My dad thought he was impersonating Scooby Doo and didn’t find it funny. Could be why he wasn’t one hundred percent sold on the whole living together situation. And all of it was a prime example of why I wasn’t jumping on board the marriage band wagon just yet. My dad had struck out three times and my mom twice when she had finally decided marriage wasn’t for her when I was twelve and packed up to get a condo in the city.

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