Autumn 2013

For me, this autumn was difficult. My husband and I moved in August. Settling is a long process and not finished. Some boxes remain a mystery. Some things I’ve wanted to use haven’t reappeared. We have everything we need, yet ….where is my pastry cutter? Did I throw it away, sell it, or is it in a box?

My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. That combined with the residual effects of Guillain Barre leave him unable to walk without help. Steps to leave the house keep us, particularly him, from going out of the house without someone to take him both down and up again in the wheelchair. We are hoping a lift will soon be installed to help. 

As a writer I’ve not be able to settle into a routine to write. I lie in bed and rewrite the books I have in process, but the ideas haven’t come to fruition. Joining a critique group has given me an outlet to read my work and seek direction, but, again I’ve not acted on those directions.

With the coming of 2014, my resolution is to put my fingers on the keyboard, to find that time I know I have, time that I’ve spent watching the same news over and over on TV, time I’ve spent leafing through catalogs for things I neither need nor want. The second resolution is do those things that will transform our house into a cozy home. 

Autumn is over. The winter solstice is past. Spring is on its way.

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” (Shelley) 



To Be Three – An Excerpt


Mary Overton has broken away from her parents’ Manhattan home, and escaped the humiliation of having fallen in love with a married man .She has a new teaching position – and a new life – in Kings City, a small upstate city on the Hudson River.

Jordan Roberts, a Protestant minister, and his daughter, Naomi, have recently moved from a village parish to Kings City. Jordan is still grieving the loss of his wife, Ellen, who was killed in a car crash.

When Naomi lands in Mary’s fifth grade class, Mary meets Jordan. Despite her determination to avoid a new relationship she is drawn to Jordan and his lively ten-year-old daughter. Jordan’s growing love for Mary brings revitalization to Jordan and his ministry.

Naomi, too is rewarded with a father like the one she had known before her mother’s accident.

She begins to pray she will be part of a family of three again.

TO BE THREE is available through Amazon .com Book Cover
© Copyright 2010 Phyllis N. Lake.  All rights reserved.

A Flying Encounter – Short Story


The passengers filed slowly off the airplane up the loading ramp and into gate 23 at the Detroit airport. Sarah, carrying a slim tan briefcase and wheeling a matching overnight bag, didn’t hurry. She glanced at her brown leather banded watch. Four-thirty. It would be after seven before her next flight boarded.

Sarah paused momentarily to get her bearings, causing a man hurrying along behind her to stop abruptly to avoid crashing into her. “You need brake light,” he said pleasantly and strode on.

Why do my flights always use the gate furthest from the terminal, she grumbled to herself as she realized she had to walk the entire gate passageway to reach the terminal’s main corridor. Sarah looked up at the airline’s departure television screen for next gate. Too early to be posted.

There was plenty of time for a leisurely supper and maybe even for some work, she mused. For someone whose feet are as tired as mine these airport corridors go on forever. Sarah turned toward the coffee shop she’d discovered the last time she’d passed through Detroit. It had already been a long day and it would be ten before the plane set down in Albany. She pictured herself at home stretched out in a tub of warm water and curling up in the corner of her sofa to watch the eleven o’clock news in her flannel pjs and fuzzy pink robe.

The picture passersby would take was one of a beautiful, self-assured young woman who was perhaps a model. Her ash blond hair, short for a minimum of care, had just enough wave to keep it in place and provide a soft frame for her oval face. She held her head erect and walked with a purposeful step in her navy pumps, denying her cramped feet and overall weariness. A neat navy blue suit and soft azure blouse delineated her figure to giving her inches on her slim five-three frame.

She stopped to study the cafeteria blackboard menu. She chose a chef’s salad, a cup of Manhattan clam chowder for nourishment, took a piece of Boston cream pie for comfort, and coffee for stimulation. A small table near the wall of window overlooking the tarmac was open. Sarah sat down and gratefully slipped off her heels. The sun was just beginning to set over the tree lined ridge of the flat horizon.

Near her, a young couple was saying goodbye for two days. She eavesdropped guiltlessly on their conversation. He was off for a trip to Denver. There were no tears, but loneliness seemed to be creeping into their words in anticipation of parting. It was obvious they’d not been separated before – perhaps newlyweds, Sarah speculated.

On the other side of her a slender young woman in faded jeans and copper sweater with sleeves pushed to the elbow sat looking steadily toward the busy concrete apron below where airport trucks scurried about like ants in a hill. From time to time her eyes dropped to a small copy of the New Testament. Sarah wondered if she was just studying it or perhaps seeking an answer to something troubling her. Finally the woman dropped the small book into her brown leather pouch and moved silently out of the coffee shop.

Sarah stared out of the window. The sky wore shades of pink at the horizon just below the high cloud cover. A small pool of water on the landing apron reflected the pink, making it appear as a jewel in the drab gray concrete.

She was just beginning her dessert and coffee when the place so recently occupied by the girl was filled by a man, thirtyish, with a crew cut wearing a gray pin-striped business suit and coordinating navy blue and red-striped tie. Sarah glanced at her new companion and realized it was the same man who had almost run into near the gate. He smiled and said, “We meet again.”

She was just beginning her dessert and coffee when the place so recently occupied by the girl was filled by a man, thirtyish, with a crew cut wearing a gray pin-striped business suit and coordinating navy blue and red-striped tie. Sarah glanced at her new companion and realized it was the same man who had almost run into near the gate. He smiled and said, “We meet again.”

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he said.

“Yes,” she said distantly, not wanted to appear unfriendly, but neither wishing to encourage a conversation.

“It’s really warm for late October,” he said.

“Yes, it is.”

“My name is Steve Warren,” he said, extending his hand.

“How do you do,” Sarah said, accepting his handshake. I could just finish my dessert and leave, she thought, but it’s not even five-thirty yet and I’d rather drag supper out a little longer. Anyway, it’s really quite safe here in the coffee shop.

As he got up to refill his coffee cup from the pot on a nearby hot plate, she noticed he was not tall, perhaps about five-seven or eight, but trim. His face wasn’t handsome, but his eyes seemed lively. He came back with the pot and offered to refill her cup.

Why not? He’s only being friendly. Maybe he’s a salesman. He’s probably very familiar with this place and talks with anyone around. She knew other people like that.

Sarah thanked him and stirred cream into the dark brown liquid. “Are you traveling for pleasure?” he asked.


“No, business.”

“Oh, yes? What kind?”

“I’m a purchasing agent for the state.”


“No, New York.”

“I’m a pilot myself. I work for a small private firm that’s into high finance. I fly the partners about the country in their private jet.”

“Sounds like fun,” she said as she thought that’s why he knows the airport so well.

“I love flying, so it doesn’t matter to me where they want to go. I get to do what I like. Sometimes the layovers are dull though.”

“I imagine,” Sarah said. He’s not thinking I’ll liven this one up for him? She collected her briefcase and purse while her feet searched under the table until they found her shoes.

As she stood up, so did he. “I’ll walk you back toward your gate,” he said.

Halfway back to her gate corridor was the airport hotel with a large open lobby. With an hour left before boarding, Sarah decided to spend some time there.

“I’ll leave you then,” he said. “I’m staying here at the hotel. Good night. Pleasant chatting with you.”

Sarah sighed with relief as he walked toward the elevator. She always felt insecure in situations she couldn’t control. She didn’t like to be standoffish, but she didn’t want men to get the idea that she was open to a quick invitation.

She sank onto the thick leather sofa cushion and opened her briefcase. She took out pocket calculator and pondered the figures on the yellow order form, but she couldn’t seem to focus her mind on them.

Did he say his name was Steve? Probably short for Steven. I wonder if he spells it with a v or ph. He’s really very pleasant. Polite, too. Open and friendly. His soft gray-blue eyes sparkle when he talks about flying. His voice is gentle. Not exactly handsome, but still good looking. I wouldn’t have guessed he’s a pilot in that suit. He obviously enjoys life.

Looking down at the papers on her lap, the figures looked meaningless. I’m just too tired for work. She stuffed the papers back in her briefcase and extracted the magazine novelette she’d started on the plane.

Sarah stared at the words on the page, turned to the next before she realized she’d no idea what she had just read. As she turned the page back, a pair of sneaker clad feet stopped directly in front of her. She looked up to see Steve, now dressed jeans and sweatshirt. “Oh, hi!” she exclaimed, feeling she was seeing an old friend.

Steve sat down next to her. “I’m so glad you’re still here. I was afraid you’d be gone and I didn’t even know which airline you’re taking. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find you.”

She looked at him not knowing what to say. She didn’t know why, but she was very glad to see him even though her business mind told her she was being silly.

“You probably think I’m either a madman or. . .who knows what. I’m usually a rather sane person and don’t rush into things, but just now I came racing down the stairs so I wouldn’t have to wait for the elevator.”

Sarah wasn’t sure whether to laugh or leave. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I think I ought to go,” she said, with her sensible side winning.

“No, please don’t go. Hear me out. I’m not crazy – really – at least I wasn’t an hour or so ago. I’m normally a very conservative guy who is nuts about only one thing – flying. But now – it’s just I’ve never felt this way before. I got upstairs a few minutes ago and I couldn’t get you out of my mind. I’m a friendly guy and I talk to everyone, but I keep on with my business. I couldn’t forget you, I don’t know. . . yes, I think I do. I changed my clothes and sat down to watch TV, but all I could think of was you. I had to see you again!”

“There’s something about your eyes,” he continued, barely pausing to breathe. “They’re a beautiful green, you know. I’ve never felt this way. I love you! There I’ve said it. Now you can tell me I’m crazy, or that you’re married, and I’ll go away, I promise.”

All the time he spoke, Steve looked directly into Sarah’s eyes. She couldn’t break away from his gaze. His eyes are a deeper blue than I thought. What to say? She didn’t know. Her rigidly held composure was badly shaken. She feared her voice would shake if she spoke and give away the turmoil inside her. No one had ever looked at her quite that way. Finally she sputtered, “I don’t know anything about you and you’re telling me . . .”

“My name is Steven Donahue Warren. I’m 31. I’m the youngest of five children born to John and Evangeline Warren in Junction City, Kansas. They are both dead now. When I’m not flying around, I live in St Louis, Missouri with my oldest sister, who is a high school math teacher, and her two kids. She’s a widow. I’m not married and never have been. After I finished high school at seventeen, I went to the University of Missouri. I joined the Air Force right out of college because I wanted to fly. I did eight years then got out. I flew crop dusters for a few months, then when I was a pilot for a small commuter line I met Mr. Thatcher, who offered me this job and here I am.”

Sarah couldn’t help smiling. “But,” she began. . .

“I can give you reference. My bosses are right here in the hotel. My sister’s telephone number is 519-555-0022.”

He was so serious but it was all so absurd to her, Sarah began to giggle.”I believe you.”

“I want you to know all about me instantly, so you won’t walk away like I’m some kind of nut.”

“You must be. But I must be, too, if I’m still here.”

It was as if all the tension between them was released as air from an inflated balloon. Together they sat on the sofa laughing until tears ran down their faces and they could barely gasp for breath. One passerby commented, “It must have been a great story.” Others just smiled.

As they laughed their hands touched for the first time. Simultaneously they looked down at their hands. Together they drew a sharp breath. Slowly, his face sobering, Steve reached across to take Sarah’s other hand. An indefinable sensation of electricity spread from her fingers through her body. Then she looked into his eyes, which were full of merriment. They began to laugh again – uproarious laughter. As it subsided, Steve looked into Sarah’s eyes and repeated, “I love you. You may not believe it now, but it’s true.”

“I don’t know what to say. It’s impossible – a dream – a fairy tale. I don’t know how I feel. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”

“Tell me about yourself,” he said seriously still holding her hands firmly in his. “I want to know every detail.”

“I’m an only child. I was born in a little town in upstate New York called Afton. My full name is Sarah (with an h) Elizabeth Parker. My parents are both alive and still live in the same house that was my grandparent’s home. I went to the community college in Binghamton and went to work for the state when I graduated. I’m 27. I was married too young at 19 and divorced two years later. I live in an apartment in Albany with a friend.”

A frown crossed Steve’s face. “Male or female?” he asked gently.

“Female,” she said and his face relaxed into a smile.

“Speaking of Albany, what time is it? I can’t miss my plane. It’s the last one tonight.”

“Seven-twenty. What time is your flight?”

“Seven forty-five.”

“Come. I don’t want you to go, but I’m afraid if I keep you from getting that plane you’ll never trust me. What your gate number?” he asked taking her overnight bag.

“I don’t know. It wasn’t posted when I looked.”

He put his arm around her narrow waist. “Tell me about your job,” he said as they walked briskly along the wide hallway. She told him about negotiating with firms for all kinds of equipment and supplies for various state agencies.

As they reached the gate the attendant was announcing the boarding of all remaining passengers.

“I have to go,” she said.

“Wait. Please let me have your phone number. I must see you again.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a business card and handed it to him.

“I’ll call you tomorrow. I feel like I’m in a dream.”

“Perhaps that’s all it is, but it’s one I’ll always remember,” Sarah said.

“Sarah?” Sarah felt her eyes become misty. It was first time he’d said her name. She looked down. Slowly and gently Steve put his arms around her and drew her to him. She looked up and into his eyes. He kissed her very gently as if they were alone in some romantic spot.

“Final boarding call for flight 421 for Buffalo, Albany and Boston.”

Steve pulled away. “Go,” he said, his voice husky, “Before I don’t let you. Have a good flight, my love.”

She walked through the gate to the loading ramp. She turned once and smiled. He waved to her. “I’ll call you,” he shouted. She nodded.

Sarah tucked her bag under the seat, fastened her seat belt and settled back as the pilot began to maneuver the plane from its parking spot.

For someone who was only thinking of tired feet a few hours ago, things have changed. If he calls tomorrow I must ask – “Is it Steven or Stephen.” Maybe my feelings will change by tomorrow. Perhaps it was only a joke for him – a way of passing away the time. I’ll certainly always remember this evening’s flying encounter.

Sarah leaned back on the sofa. “And that, Stephanie, is how I met your grandfather on the most romantic night of my life.”

© Copyright 2010 Phyllis N. Lake.  All rights reserved.