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Lisa Pimental and Lisa Ventrella

Pimental R 2

Lisa Pimental
Created using Lisa Ventrella’s story (below) as inspiration

Through the Air
By Lisa Ventrella

The housewife turned tennis player thwacks the ball hard. It meets the sweet spot, that delicious sound of a precise hit. A pop, but not a bing. She is still learning. She is Maria, 40 years old, married with kids. Her husband bitches about the cost of tennis at the club, but she argues that it helps her out of her funk. She hasn’t exercised in years and things are beginning to tighten up.

Swinging skirts and ponytails, giggles and doubles strategy. Two hours of freedom every Wednesday for team drill. Matches on Friday with lunch afterwards; everyone brings a dish and usually there’s wine or champagne. No house cleaning, planning dinner, or running kids around to piano lessons or soccer. Sweet escape.

Maria used to spend Friday nights at home, scrapbooking family photos. The tennis girls, housewives themselves, – Sue, Cindi, Denise and Laura – have had a standing “date” night with each other for years. The rumor is that some of them cheat on their husbands and that Denise has implants.

“We’re going out Friday for drinks and maybe dancing. Wanna come?”

At first, she has an excuse: soccer practice, dinner date with the hubby, anything remotely plausible. She decides on the black pencil skirt that hugs her butt in that way that makes men see women as a work of art. Could this be her new ‘uniform’? Laughing at her reflection in the mirror, she dabs perfume into her cleavage.

At the bar, they drink appletinis. Before the buzz sets in, they talk about how fabulous their kids are, complain about their husbands, though none of them want for anything because their partners work at jobs they hate. Of course, they talk tennis and the bitchy opponents who make bad line calls.

As the girls head for the dance floor, Maria stays back. She remembers to call her 8-year old daughter. Earlier, they’d buried the dead hamster, Marshmallow – a poofy furball – in the flower garden near the red and orange impatients, the popsicle-cross blanketing the grave. Finding an area with good cell reception near the entrance, Maria notices the rain and wonders about the grave. Will it withstand the storm?

Everywhere she looks, Maria observes middle-aged people acting like teenagers. Exaggerated gestures and wildly loud laughter sail through the air, just like the tennis balls the girls hit over the net. Thwack and pop. Pop. Pop. Zing.

Who decided that love is equal to nothing? Perhaps it’s simply for the love of the game, with no prize in the end. Could it be they meant luv, not love, the way teenage girls write it in notes passed between classes. Maria steps out into the summer rain, tips her head back, open mouthed, and lets the rain drop in.

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Lisa Pimental I

Lisa Pimental
Inspiration piece provided to Lisa Ventrella

Another Ladybug Off His Shirt
By Lisa Ventrella

A shimmer of hot air vibrates like boiling water above the highway. Max and Drew stop in a place called Irv’s just outside Council Bluffs and order the meatloaf sandwich, apple pie ala mode and coffee. The Goth waitress who smells like licorice, sports everything black – hair, eye liner, fingernails, even her mood which contrasts nicely with a dark green apron over her white standard-issue waitress dress. Typical roadside café except for the counter folk who look like white collar professionals dressed in suits. They eat and sip quietly, face down as in prayer, reading their newspapers as if they are strangers.

Max brushes a ladybug off his forearm and drinks black coffee. Out of the blue, Drew, who smells like dirty laundry, tells Max how he went camping once and nearly got killed by an owl that swooped down and tried to scratch the hell out of him with its talons, screeching all the while. Max tolerates the yakkity yak because Drew is the only bloke that agreed to go to Omaha to pick up some Black Panther memorabilia.

Granted, it’s not like they’re on the way to the Pacific Ocean where you can splash around naked if you want or walk barefoot on white sand. Sometimes when Drew talks, Max hears only muffled sounds like he’s been submerged in a big tank of murky water. If only he had a map or a plan.

“Did you see that sign that said trip a few miles back?” asks Drew.

“Nope,” says Max.

“Ya know, the one with the two big-titty girls,” says Drew who notices several ladybugs on the outside of the café window.

“It said Strip, not trip, you dickweed,” says Max. “The S was missing.”

“Strip?”

“Strip. And they ain’t talking about Vegas either.”

Drew ponders this. Max picks at his ear, trying to unclog his head. When Max closes his eyes briefly, he finds he can’t smell or hear Drew.  So what do you think he does?  Right. He keeps them closed until the waitress drops off their check.

Drew, unable to manage long runs of silence, says, “When your windows are clean, your whole house looks clean.” Max glares at him, balls up his napkin and throws it at him. More ladybugs appear on the window, crawling in no particular direction. Ladybug tendrils stretch to the edges of the glass.

“Let’s get outta here,” says Max as he stands and brushes the crumbs from his pants and another lady bug off his shirt.

They reach the door to leave and spot a girl of about five or six with a pretty, pink party dress and clean, white shoes, a Cheshire smile overpowers her face. A special occasion? A celebration? Or just a brilliant scheme to escape the ordinary and go to a place where you can eagerly await more cupcakes.

Max and Drew leave Irv’s and a small swarm of ladybugs follow them to their car.

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Note: All of the art, writing, and music on this site belongs to the person who created it. Copying or republishing anything you see here without express and written permission from the author or artist is strictly prohibited.

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