“A Thirty-Something Girl” by Lisa M. Gott
Blurb: A Thirty-Something Girl follows the story of Hope. At the age of 30, she finds her life in utter shambles. Everything that could go wrong has – divorce, loss of a child, financial struggles. It is the love and unfettered support of her close friends who keep her from being lost in the quicksand of utter despair. As she slowly begins to wrap her head around who she is and what it means to be happy, she meets a man, Sam. Sam is also not a stranger to hardship and finds himself at his own crossroads. Together they find comfort and peace in one another; a soft, quiet place to fall, when the rest of the world is too hard and too noisy to inhabit. A Thirty-Something Girl is a story about the power of human resilience, the importance of friendships, and the magic of true love. It is a story that teaches us (and reminds us) that happiness is actually a very simple concept: it is a choice. A choice we must remember to make each and every day.
Ugh. Lucky for him, I don’t have a gun.
I finish off the cup of coffee and yell back, “Coming!”
I find the young man leaning up against the doorjamb, a cigarette dangling from his thin lips.
“That was quick,” I say, eying his smoke.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m not supposed to smoke on the job. Just have a lot on my mind lately. Helps me clear it sometimes. Um, do you want one?” He reaches into his shirt and retrieves a box of Marlboro Lights.
I instantly feel sorry for him. I’d misjudged him. “I’d love one. Want a cup of coffee?”
“That would be amazing, ma’am.”
“For the love of God, please stop calling me that. Just call me Hope.”
“Right, ma . . . , err, Hope.” He looks away from me and smiles, a deep dimple forming at the corner of his mouth.
He follows me inside and takes a seat on a barstool in the kitchen. I slide a cup of coffee his way, before taking a seat beside him.
“You’re not going to get into trouble for taking a little break, right?”
“No. I’m allowed.”
I nod and take a drag off the cigarette. Clara would kill me if she knew we were smoking inside, but I can’t bring myself to care.
“Does it get easier?”
I tilt my head and look at him. His face is blank, and he’s not making eye contact with me. “How do you mean?”
“Life. Does it get easier when you get older?”
Seriously. How old does he think I am?
“Well, do you want me to tell you what you want to hear or the truth?”
He looks at me with his beautiful green eyes. “The truth.”
“Well, no. It gets harder. Sure, some things get easier. You can stay up as late as you want without your parents yelling at you, and you can eat pizza for breakfast every day. But . . . there’s so much more. It’s hard to describe, really. When you’re younger, there are only a few paths to choose from. Then, with each passing year, more pop up. Finally, you realize you’re lost. You have no idea what path you are even on, where any of them lead to, or if any of them really suit you. Basically, your youth deceives you into thinking your special: That you can change the world and have anything you desire. All you have to do is work for it. Then, one day, you wake up, and you’re not only old, but you realize nothing about you is special.”
“Sounds deep. And . . . really depressing.” He slumps down and lets out a sigh.
“It sucks. But you have to keep forging ahead. You just have to.”
“But why? What’s the point? If it all just sucks, why keep doing it?”
“Good question.” I am at a loss for words. “My friends, they’d have an inspirational answer for you, but me? I’ve got nothing. Sorry, kid.”
“Well, what keeps you going?”
“I’m not sure. I just keep waking up and repeating the whole sad process over and over again, hoping that one day it will all make sense. That I’ll have the answers.”
He shrugs his shoulders and nods. And I can tell he’s still trying to swallow what I’ve told him. “I’m sorry. I should probably go. I didn’t mean to get all mopey. It’s just my girlfriend. She’s pregnant. She’s only fifteen. I’m nineteen. We were gonna go to school, have a future. Do it right, you know? I mean. I like kids, but . . .” He stops and looks away.
“You still feel like a kid yourself?” I lean closer and place my hand on his, squeezing it lightly. “Life never happens the way we plan. Not for most of us, at least.”
He turns back to me, and his eyes are red and full of sadness. “I know. It’s just hard. My parents, they’re really religious. Like, they think we should keep the baby and get married. But I dunno what to do. I don’t want to drive a truck the rest of my life. I want to travel and do stuff.” He hops off the stool and stares at me. “Sorry, didn’t mean to word vomit my entire life to you.”
“Best advice I can give you is to do what you think is right. Don’t worry so much about everyone else. When people love you, they’ll stick by you no matter what. And if they don’t stay around, then they don’t really love you. Look to your heart. Your heart never lies.” I feel myself getting caught up in the emotion of our conversation and have to look away before I too get upset.
“Thanks, Hope. That’s real sound advice. I better get going.” He wipes his eyes with his shirt and turns to leave, pausing briefly. “My name’s Jason, by the way.” He smiles and disappears.
For a moment, I sit there in a daze from our conversation. Thinking about his girlfriend and his life. Comparing it to mine. I hop off the stool and run outside, and catch him right before he closes the door to the cab of his truck. “Jason!”
“I know this sounds stupid, but how old do you think I am? Be honest.”
He shakes his head and chuckles. “I have no idea how old you are, Hope, but
I think you’re beautiful and really sweet. And in a different life, I would have liked to get to know you better.”
That isn’t the answer I am expecting, especially from such a young guy, but I smile bigger than I have in years. “Thank you for that. Take care of yourself.”
He nods, closes the door, and pulls out of the driveway, leaving me alone with a garage full of stuff.
* * * * *
**About author, Lisa M. Gott: Lisa M. Gott is a contemporary literary fiction author. Her stories tell of the human spirit – sometimes sad, sometimes not – most can relate to them on some level or another. When she’s not feverishly weaving words, you can find her enjoying nature, spending time with her incredible husband, and sometimes sipping a latte. Okay, maybe more than sometimes.