The Hard Way

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 It is summer. Eastern Carolina is a sight to behold in the summer, even more so on the coast where the air is like a sultry, sexy Flamenco. It just seeps way down deep into your bones. The light in the early evening is like this living thing. It almost breathes. Deep. It wraps me up – safe and content.

He, the beautiful man of the hard way, is a challenge I am sometimes convinced I can’t meet. Even after all these years. Today, in a quiet moment in the midst of a busy day, I thought about the way his eyes hold mine. There has been fire and light for me in his eyes – for me, for as long as I can remember. Me. His fierceness lights me from the inside out with just one look. In the middle of an everyday moment, I look up to see his eyes on me. And there in that moment when I’m nothing special on my own and living in the mundane, I am all there is in his eyes. I am the only one in a room filled with people.

And then as quickly as he is fierce and passion, strength and fire, he is vulnerable. His tenderness for me still churns my insides like it did from the beginning. In those moments, I think I love him more than I knew was possible. On nights like these when the lightening bugs pop and flash in the approaching night, as we sit quietly on the porch, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. There is stillness and quiet between us just like it used to be in the beginning, when he said all he needed to without a word spoken. The heat surrounds us in spite of the encroaching darkness. The rising moon isn’t bringing relief from the swelter.

But somehow, in spite of the sweat that trickles, and the air thick, all I can think about is the way fire and heat burn off the dross. We have been tried and tested in the fire. In the quiet, he reaches over and takes my hand in his. Ten years and a handful of days after the first time he did that very thing, it lights me up inside. Still. I close my eyes, lay my head back, and breathe deeply of the contentment that comes from loving him above myself – even when we do it the hard way. Even when we are tested in the fire.

– Flash fiction by Elaina M. Avalos

*I wrote this in 2013. This is a repost from when I started this blog.*

The Wish

  Photo by Jenna Norman on Unsplash, baby, motherhood, elaina avalos
Photo by Jenna Norman on Unsplash

The Wish

Five years ago, on a weird and oddly tiring afternoon, Katie Chavez made a wish. It wasn’t really the first of its kind – the dream had been there all the years she could dream about her future. The wish though – the one that seemed to change everything, was weirdly specific. Instead of the generalized dream, this one named the man and their future life of beauty and chaos, with a specificity that surprised her.

In the years before that day, with a dream so long deferred, she had grown weary of hoping it was still possible. She held it in her hands more than once, only to have it slip away. You get to a point where you know you need to keep the hope alive, but you don’t know if you can do it anymore. That was Katie. Though outwardly she spoke of hope, inwardly, she was losing it. Even still, she made the wish that afternoon. She pulled herself up by her bootstraps and dared to hope again.

Society doesn’t do us any favors. It told her that her dream of being a wife and mom had a time limit. It told her it needed to look a certain way to truly be the dream. Five years later, Katie has never been so thankful she chose to ignore what society thinks.

Five years ago, she wished for this life of hers. In an odd moment, in the middle of a normal day – a mere minute of her life changed everything. She wished for the life she has now – with her husband Connor and their children. The two were nowhere near that phase of a relationship, which made it even weirder. But somehow it felt right. Their lives were never the same from that day forward.


After more than one flight delay, Katie pulls into the driveway, later than she’d intended. She quickly grabs her purse and carry-on bag – having stuffed her weekend’s worth of clothes into it. The girl’s trip this weekend was as weird as she expected. It’s always going to be this way, she knows. When you don’t have to fight as long and hard for the life you’ve always wanted, you tend to not appreciate the little things in quite the same way as those who have. She loves her friends, but they spent the whole time complaining about their husbands and kids. Katie spent the whole weekend wishing she was home with hers. “I hope the kids are still up,” she says, as she opens the door and drops her bag and purse inside the entry way of the home she shares with Connor, their kids, and more pets than she cares to admit.

The second the door clicks shut, chaos ensues. Connor sees her from the kitchen island where he stands holding the baby – their toddler son wrapped around his leg. Their eldest, a four-year-old girl, who thinks she runs the world, is on top of the island dancing to music playing on the TV. In typical Connor style, he announces her presence in the most obnoxious way possible – causing one of their three kids and their niece who is now living with them, to scream in excitement and run toward her. “Mommmmyyyyy!!!” Their three dogs join the kids. Amelia, their eldest, steps onto the barstool at the island and jumps to the floor. Note to self, she thinks – find a way to talk to Connor about the kid dancing on the island. She hates sounding like she’s correcting his parenting. He’s the best dad. He just does things differently than she would sometimes. Thankfully so. She shakes her head laughing at the mess of crazies racing toward her.

In an instant, she is covered in kids and dogs. The kids are all talking at the same time and everyone but the baby is repeating the name she used to think she’d never hear – mommy. Mommy, guess what? Mommy did daddy tell you where we went? Mommy, did you bring us anything?

There’s this funny bit from a cartoon about a weird family. The mom is laying on the bed. The kid is saying mom’s name and then switches to various forms of mom. It’s nearly 30 seconds of him calling out to his mom. She lays on the bed, motionless – likely exhausted and overstimulated. He keeps going and then she finally yells, “WHAT?” He replies, “Hi,” and then laughs and runs away. Katie thinks about that scene when the days are long and the kids are sick or her husband is traveling for work again. When she’s tempted to roll her eyes, respond in frustration, or question her sanity for having little ones at her age – she reminds herself of the wish she made five years ago, alongside of the man she loved. She reminds herself that the two of them are their kid’s whole entire world. Every moment of chaos and craziness is a gift and they’re raising these wild little people to be strong, capable adults who will go on to do great things and maybe raise their own crazies.

The fatigue from her drive, after a long weekend away from her family, melts away in that instant. “One at a time,” she says patiently. Connor reaches her with their youngest, kissing her and handing her their mama’s boy, who just survived his first weekend without his mama. Oliver’s arms hug her neck tightly and she kisses his cheek. “One at a time,” she says again, when all the kids start talking at the same time as if she hadn’t said it the first time.

“They missed you,” Connor says. “I missed you.” He slips his arm around her waist. “Why don’t we let mom get in the house and sit down?” he says. The kids race back to the other room, the music still playing on the television. Connor pulls her close, Oliver between them. He kisses her again. He still turns her inside out and while they have their moments as everyone does, they are and always will be, designed for each other.

“I missed you, too,” she says. They pull apart though she wants to stand there in his arms a moment longer. “Can you grab my bag? I have stuff for the kids.” Katie walks into the family room to the kids turning somersaults and dancing – an hour past their bedtime. She watches the shenanigans of their overly stimulated, long past tired children and is already dreading getting them up in the morning.

Connor sets the bag on their coffee table and stands next to her, his hand resting on the small of her back. “It’s just one night,” he says, reading her mind as always. He has always known exactly what was on her mind. He smiles that smile that has been her obsession for the last five years. She smiles back because she cannot help herself when it comes to her husband.

“You’re right – as per the usual.” Katie sits down on the floor, sets Oliver in her lap, and reaches for the bag. Connor sits on the couch and turns down the music. Tears rise in Katie’s eyes. They’ll pay for this tomorrow. But for now, this man, the one she knows she was made for, and their family – are everything she ever wanted.

And this man and their family are precisely what she wished for.

Short Fiction by Elaina M. Avalos

Twin Flame

I started a short story last weekend about meeting your “Twin Flame.” The story is terrible. It’s terrible because I tried to rush through it. I also started it in the wrong place. I have a tendency to do that. It needed to start with the moment the couple met, versus backstory.

I am going to try and tackle it again this coming weekend. It may show up in a novel someday. The concept of a twin flame is one that I used to believe had a negative connotation. I had this belief because I read articles that were coming at this soul connection from an unhealthy perspective. In other words, the writers were describing unhealthy relationships that were intense and passionate – confusing the intensity and passion with a twin flame connection.

The twin flame is different than a soul mate. While intense, it shouldn’t be confused with unhealthy patterns. Twin flames are often said to be one soul – in two bodies. The couple in this situation has an instant attraction that goes beyond the physical/infatuation in the early stages of a relationship. They instantly feel connected and at home with each other. Their compatibility is on a soul level. When described, a common phrase or theme in writing is that their souls sort of instantly recognize each other, feel at home with each other, and may feel whole for the first time. It’s not that another person makes them whole, but rather they are so deeply connected to that other person, they’re the best most whole version of themselves. It’s also the most unique relationship they’ve had – with each person helping the other become their best selves.

Another common characteristic is that they will eventually part ways – sometimes permanently. Those that reunite, do so stronger than they were before. You only have one twin flame. While you may be able to experience a soul mate level love with more than one person, twin flames are a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

The short story I started writing was about this once-in-a-lifetime love – with the soul that mirrors your own. As I mentioned, I think it’s possible that it could be an entire book. Writing a short story and developing the characters and plot a bit is helpful to me. I thought the novel I started three years ago (A Thousand Years) was a twin flame kind of novel. But it’s looking very different these days and is more about family ties versus romantic relationships. I think I’m in a better stage of life to write that twin flame story now though.

I will see what I come up with this weekend. I might share the story here (if it doesn’t suck then as bad as it sucks now). 🙂

Have you met your twin flame? If so, how did you know they were that one soul that was another part of yourself?

The Storm – A Short Story

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Photo by Dasha Musohranova from Pexels

I was born to love you.

The day I was born, a violent storm ripped through town. It was the stuff legends were made of – or so I’ve been told for the last forty years. Walls of torrential rain fell, washing away hillsides, leaving homes teetering on cliffs, flooding streets, downing trees, and pelting everything in sight with hail. When you grow up in a desert, this is significant news. The newscasters from the city called it the storm of the century. Law enforcement had to pull people from their trapped vehicles. In the midst of it all, I came into the world screaming like a banshee on the side of the road – my parents unable to reach the hospital. Instead of a sterile hospital room, I made my appearance in the world, with unforgiving amounts of rain pouring down on my dad’s truck and the scent of the desert in a storm – unlike anything in all the world – reminding my mom we lived in an unforgiving desert, harsh and brutal. And then all at once exquisitely beautiful, as the colors take your breath away – as the sun rises and sets and when the night sky tells the story of the Creator’s sovereignty. Under those clear skies, not marred by a city skyline and lights, you can feel Him, right clear through to your bones. I decided long ago, the desert is the best place to find Him – brutal and harsh though it is.

My Mom and Grandma would tell you that’s when they knew. “It’s a sign,” they used to say, when the story of the storm and my birth would be retold. Most of the time, it was followed by, “She’s destined for great things.” I come from a long line of strong women. But they were all tied down by the past and the generations before them. Everyone one of them struggled to claw their way out – each barely scraping by and stepping one step further than the one before. Somehow, I became their opportunity. I would be the one. You will be the one, they all told me. These words have played like a song on repeat, in my head – for as long as I can remember. It defined me. My will is indestructible. I have survived what most could not.

I tried to set my world on fire – as they dreamed for me. I worked harder than everyone around me. But still, in all the years of sacrifice, hoping to live up to the expectation, there’s always a faint scent of disappointment because I’m not what they imagined. I have toiled unseen and unnoticed. There’s nothing great about me.

That is, on my own, there’s nothing great about me. I’m half of the puzzle. The rest of the pieces were missing until the day my world collided with his. I questioned everything until that day.

I was born to love you, I say to him every chance I get. I know this now.

I wasn’t the storm destined for greatness. He is destined to shake foundations and change the people and places he touches.

I was born in the storm, so I would know him when I saw him.

I knew him when I saw him.

Story continued . . . soon.

Arms That Hold Me

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A short story

Home isn’t always a place – sometimes it’s a person. I could live in hut, in the middle of Africa, or a shelter built of whatever we could find, in the poorest village in Baja – or in a leaky old farm house in Burgundy and I’d still be home. He is my home and always will be. Turning into our driveway, after a long week away, has become this perfect joy – the kind of joy that I didn’t know could be possible. I mean, I wanted it to be possible – I just didn’t experience it for most of my life. I travel for work – more often than I’d prefer. But it pays my half of the bills. During the weeks away, in spite of how busy my days keep me, I count down the moments until I return to this quiet haven we have created.

The day I met my husband was a horrible day. The worst – the kind of day that makes you want to crawl into bed and drink yourself into a stupor. At the end of the worst day, I’d had in years and years, I stepped off the escalator at my Metro stop and the sky unleashed with a holy furor – the likes I hadn’t seen in ages. There’d been no rain in the forecast, because of course not. Somehow, the worst summer thunderstorm I’d seen in ages, just happened to hit the moment I stepped onto the street. It soaked me to the bone. When I walked into the corner grocery store I shopped at every evening for my dinner, I am 1000% certain I looked like a drowned rat. But I shopped here every evening before walking to my Brownstone – and a little sloshing about, wasn’t about to stop me.

When my, now husband, reached down to help me up from the floor of that corner grocery store – now covered in pinot noir and soaking wet from the storm, I swatted his hand away. Eleven years later, I still haven’t lived that down. In what I now know is his endless patience and persistence, he put his hand out again. The second time I took it. My husband is a beast of a man. He is big and broad to my tiny frame. His hands practically swallowed mine. When I stood, the room spun around me a bit. I thought I might faint. “Hang in there with me, Miss,” he said, steadying me. “You’ve hit your head pretty hard. Let me call for an ambulance. That kid knocked you over pretty good.”

                “What happened?” I asked, the room still spinning.

                “Some jackwagon stole a bunch of beer and I guess the owner must’ve seen him on camera. He started hollering as I walked in and the kid ran through the store, and took you down as he went. I couldn’t get to you before you fell back. One of those,” he said, pointing to the wine on display at the end of the aisle, “hit you as you fell back. It was a double whammy – the floor and the wine, both conked you on the head.”

By the way, the wine is a display I personally installed a week ago. I’m a wine rep and sommelier. And after three years, I’d finally convinced Mr. Green to let me sell my wares here. “Ah. Of course,” I said. “Naturally it’s the pinot noir.”

                “What’s that?” he asked.

                “Never mind. And no – no ambulance. I’ll walk to the hospital. Or take the metro.”

                “Oh no you will not,” he said. And just like that, the burly stranger I met in a southeast D.C. grocery store, was taking me to the hospital – as if I’d known him my whole life.

                That was 11 years ago. We married a year later. We’ve been inseparable ever since. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is nothing I ever imagined when I dreamed about the man I’d spend my life with. The thing is, once he won my heart, I couldn’t imagine another existence – as if we were formed from the beginning, for each other. He’s everything I’ve ever needed and nothing I knew I wanted. We are opposites in many ways. But in every way that matters, he is my best friend – my true companion.

We built this house, into the mountain, a few years ago, after we’d wandered and dreamed about where we would settle. It’s weird like us – mid-century modern angles, expansive windows, and high ceilings – and the sweetest stone fireplace you ever did see. I long for home when I’m away, coming home to this man and our refuge is the best sort of gift. When it’s cold, he lights the fire before I get home. But even without it, he’s like that fire, keeping me warm from the inside out. I long for him even still, after all this time, as if it was the first time. His physical strength and single-minded pursuit of me has been steadying me for 11 years. I’ll never get over his love for me. And I will never love another human more than him.

Without considering for a second the need to grab my luggage or even my purse, the second I turn off the car in the garage, I head into the house – needing the arms that hold me . When I left California earlier today, the blazing hot sun and Santa Ana winds blew through the Temecula valley wine country. But here, so far from that dusty place, it’s cold now – the weather has turned. It’s autumn now. The warmth of the fire warms me instantly when I open the door – as does the mischievous smile that’s made me rather lusty – for so long now. My husband is hot. A smile bursts out. I cannot contain myself. Long before I reach him, the gratitude of all these years, overwhelms me. “I thought you’d never get here,” he says.

“I’ve been trying to get home for days,” I say. “It’s all I could think about. I missed you.” His arms pull me close.

“Good thing I don’t have to share you for a while. A week is too long. Can we just agree on this now? There has to be a better way,” he says.

“A week is too long. We’ll figure something out,” I say,” melting into him and his kiss. As the sun sets in the kitchen window behind us, his arms around me – he fills me in on the week I’ve missed. He holds me close – as if I’m going somewhere. The man is stuck with me. Come hell or highwater, I’m not going anywhere.