Heidi Benson Stagg is a part-time mermaid and full-time Nana. She lives on the Alameda Riviera aboard her 42 ft sailboat, Sonho, with her husband Aaron and Chiweenie Tiki. Heidi divides her time between caring for her three energetic grandchildren, working at a synagogue and racing on the estuary. She has been a frequent contributor to Alameda Shorts and has read at Bay Area Generations. Heidi is passionate about cooking in her tiny galley and often features recipes as well as short stories on her blog, Vivo O Sonho. Her greatest desire is to cut the docklines and sail the world, writing about both the journey and the destination.
October 2021 | Prompt #1: If The Shoe Fits
“Seriously, Heidi, do you really need 50 pairs of shoes?”
My girlfriend had dropped by for a chat and caught me in my bi-annual shoe-purge. I was sitting on the floor with a huge mound of leather, vinyl, rubber and sequins in front of me. “You don’t wear all of those, do you?” she asked incredulously.
“If the shoe fits,” I quipped, slipping a darling, light teal, bejeweled kitten heel sandal on my foot and waving it in the air. “And there’s not 50 pairs anymore. I’m down to 37.”
“You do realize that you live on a boat?” she laughed.
Yes, I live on a 42 ft sailboat. No, I don’t really have a shoe fetish; I only buy a few pairs a year but I take good care of my shoes and keep them forever. My husband gave up on lecturing me on the fact that high heels really don’t belong on a boat and installed a fabric shoe holder behind my hanging clothes, against the hull. So my collection doesn’t take up needed space and is out of sight. But I know they are there; and that makes me happy.
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #1:
“Feathers? Seriously, Amy, this get-up is too much.”
Dora eyed her friend’s outfit. Amy was known for her flamboyant get-ups, but this one was over the top. Turquoise feathers were attached to a sheer body suit, strategically covering her private bits. Barely.
“Really?” Amy answered, “It took me days to create. I’m wearing it.”
“Well, you better wear a coat or they won’t let you in. You look naked.”
“I look fabulous! You’re such a prude, Dora. Why don’t you let me do your make-up tonite?”
“Fine. Just don’t make me look like a clown. I’m a firm believer in ‘less is more.’
Despite Dora’s predictions, the girls had no problem getting into the night club. And as expected, all eyes were riveted on Amy as they made their way through the crowded room to the bar. Amy loved being the center of attention and Dora didn’t mind being in the wings. She was a psychology student and was fascinated by the lengths that men would go to flirt with Amy. She often used these outings as case studies for her assignments and was sure there would be plenty of fodder tonight.
They were waiting on their drinks when the first suitor approached.
“Hey, Peacock. Wanna dance?” He was one of the confident jocks that always made an early beeline for Amy.
“No thanks. I’m waiting on my drink.”
“Your little friend can hold your drink. Let’s go.”
“I said no thanks,” Amy replied, turning her back on the guy.
He wasn’t taking no for an answer and went to reach for her arm. Before he could make contact, Dora’s hand flashed out, twisting the guys wrist back and bringing him to his knees.
“The lady said no thanks. Now beat it,” Dora hissed.
He didn’t wait to be told again and took himself down the bar to lick his wounds and search out his next conquest.
“Well, that was fun!” Amy laughed, clinking her Cosmo against Dora’s beer bottle. Dora rolled her eyes and laughed with her.
Amy danced while Dora held their places at the bar, chatting with the bartender and watching the hook-ups unfolding around her.
Returning to their barstools, Dora asked Amy if she wanted another round.
“Nah, I’m tired. Let’s get out of here,” Amy answered.
“Hey, Birdie. Heading home already? Why don’t you take me with you?”
As they were leaving the club, the pushy jock made one last attempt, blocking their exit.
“Dude, she didn’t want to dance with you. And she isn’t leaving with you. Now move,” Dora said, stepping in front of Amy and putting herself face-to-face with the guy.
“Who are you? Her Bitch?” he sneered.
It was Amy’s turn to get into the mix and she sidled up to Dora, snaking her arm around her waist.
“She’s no one’s bitch. But she’s all mine. Take me home, Lover.”
Dora answered by placing her lips on Amy’s, then giving her bottom a sharp slap.
“Naughty girl. I told you those feathers would get you in trouble.”
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #6:
Tara drug the small rubber dinghy from the surf onto the sand and turned to the ocean behind her just in time to catch the final glimpse of her beloved sailboat’s mast as it sunk.
Single-handing is risky, even for an experienced sailor such as Tara. Safety was always her top priority and she had double-checked the paper and electronic charts before venturing slowly into the island’s cove to take shelter from the storm closing in on her stern. Nothing prepared her for the loud crunch and sudden hard stop when her keel struck the reef. She was thrown forward, hitting her head and wrenching an ankle, but quickly gathered her wits and assessed the situation. Water was gushing into the cabin below, faster than the automatic bilge pump could empty. She grabbed the hand-held radio, ditch bag with her important documents and a few precious mementos, and went on deck to deploy the life raft. With one last glance at her home of over a decade, she abandoned ship.
Tara rubbed her temple, already feeling a goose-egg bump. She took the dinghy’s painter and limped up the beach to tie it to a large piece of heavy driftwood. Returning to the little boat, she pulled out the dry-bags containing all her worldly possessions. She had food and water and the means to build a fire. She pulled out the piece of light-weight turquoise-blue fabric, caressing the silky texture. She’d made a sunshade from her old spinnaker and thought how far that sail had brought her and that now it would provide a different kind of use on this journey.
The fabric fluttered in the light breeze and Tara squatted on the sand, creating a tent to block the harsh tropical sunlight. She closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths, and eased into a gentle meditation. This was her go-to method for dealing with stressful situations and it had served her well as she had weathered dozens of storms and two hurricanes in her travels.
A shadow crossed in front of her, turning the muted sunshine behind her eyelids dark. She blinked and opened her eyes to a woman standing in front of her.
“Oh! Hello!” Tara said, startled.
“Hey. Sorry about your boat. I was up a tree picking coconuts and couldn’t make it down here quick enough to give a hand,” the darkly tanned woman said nonchalantly.
“Whoa. You live here? I thought this was an uninhabited island,” Tara replied.
“Mainly uninhabited. Except for me. My boat sunk in the same spot 33 days ago. I thought you were here to rescue me, but it looks like we’re in the same boat now. Literally.”
“I’m Tara. I was solo-sailing. I set off my EPIRB before getting in the life raft. Surely someone will find us soon.”
“Joanne. I’m a single-hander, too, and also set off my EPIRB. And sent up my flares. And spelled out SOS with coconut shells,” the woman said, pointing down the beach. “Hopefully your beacon strength is better than mine.”
Tara didn’t know what to think. She gazed out at the empty green ocean beyond the blue lagoon. The grey clouds that were chasing her had turned an ominous black.
Joanne offered her hand to pull Tara up from the sand.
“We’re sailors, Tara. Our lives have been about the journey. But this destination isn’t a bad place to wait out the next course. C’mon, we need to take shelter before the storm hits.”