Short Stories

Sushi Stalker (Inspired by Caroline Kepnes’ character, Joe, from YOU and my obsession with sushi)

sushi

I look at my watch. Eleven thirty-seven. You’re late. This aggravates me. You’re always here. Every Tuesday at eleven thirty. Did you go somewhere else? Are you sick? Were you in an accident?

The bell above the door chimes and I lean to look to see if it’s you. It’s not. It’s some guy. I’ve never seen him. He’s not a regular like you. I chop cucumbers into tiny sticks. I roll the spicy tuna into the rice, seaweed and black sesame seed mixture.

I clean my knife.

The bell chimes again. I lean. There. You. Are. I inhale, in hopes I can smell your sweet sunflower scent. Not yet. I’ll try again when you sit in front of me. Third chair on the left. Every time. I remember that one Tuesday you came in and someone else was sitting there. You were so disappointed. You were frazzled. You ordered from the boring generic lunch menu instead of staring at our specialty menu for ten minutes, with your fingers touching your lips, trying to decide what adventure you wanted to take today. It’s such a tough decision when you can’t eat avocados. I always wonder if you are really allergic to avocados or if you just say you are because you don’t like them and you want to make sure that people take you seriously when you say “no avocado, please”.

“Please”. You are always so polite. You have a nice smile. You don’t smile while you read on your phone, or while you drink your water, or while you pick up your pieces of sushi with your sticks and pop them so skillfully into your mouth. Even when you try a new roll for the first time and you love it, you don’t smile. You lean back slightly, roll yours eyes and moan a little while you chew. Then you give me a satisfied nod. You probably don’t even realize that you do that ritual every time, but you do.

You reserve your smile just for me. When you talk to me. When you order and say please. You smile. Its a really great smile. I go to bed every Monday ecstatic and wake up every Tuesday giddy with the fact that I get to see your smile.

“Hi, Toki.” You say and smile. I love how you say my name. You don’t even pronounce it right, but I don’t care.

I bow and smile. “Konnichiwa.”

You grab a menu and an order slip and take a seat. Third chair on the left. You flip open the menu and flip to the second page. Good. No boring lunch menu today. Fingers to lips, you carefully review the description of each choice. Dragon Roll. Volcano Roll. Tunaki Roll. Lotus Roll. You look at each and every item on that page. And then you look again. I work on preparing the Spider Roll that Table 4 ordered. But I glance over to you often. I don’t want you to have to wait too long once you figure out what you want. You deserve the best service.

I clean my knife.

You look at me. You smile. With the tiny pencil, you write little check marks on your order sheet. You also write “No avocado please” next to your check marks. I often consider adding avocado to the roll anyway, but I know you’re too observant with each piece before you eat it to try that trick. You are not haphazard. Maybe you really are allergic.

You smile at me again and place the slip on top of the display window. I nod in acknowledgment. You nod back and say thank you.

Thank you. You are so polite.

I’ve never said anything to you in English. You probably don’t even know that I speak English. But I’ve been told my English is bad, so I nod and I point and I smile and say small Japanese phrases that most Americans who stroll into a sushi bar can understand. I don’t want to embarrass myself by attempting to speak bad English to you. Personally, I don’t think it sounds bad. But you might. I can’t risk that.

I look at your order slip. You’ve checked off two rolls and a cucumber salad. “No avocado please” is written by each roll.

I nod and smile. You nod and smile back. Then you turn your attention to your phone, illuminated with a white background and black text. Read, read, read. That’s all you ever do. Every Tuesday. You never bring anyone with you. You don’t play those stupid phone app games. You read. I wonder what you are reading. I would ask, but my English is bad. I bet you’re smart. I bet you have a big vocabulary. A big English vocabulary. I top your cucumber salad with sesame seeds and hand it to you over the display window. I nod and smile. You nod and smile.

I clean my knife.

You take the chop sticks out of their paper wrapper and break them apart. You don’t rub them together like so many other people do. Its an annoying act and I don’t know why people do it. But you don’t do it. You’re unique. Special. Smart.

You clutch the sticks in your left hand. You’re left handed. You open and close them a few times to make sure your grip is right. Then you turn your head back to your phone and continue reading. You pick up cucumber slices from the bowl and place them in your mouth without even looking. You are so talented. You have mastered the art of simultaneous chopstick eating and phone reading. I love that.

I finish your Lava Roll. I put a little extra hot sauce on top for you. I know you like the spice. You’ve told me before. I clean my knife and move on to the Tekisasu Roll. No avocado please. Don’t worry, I don’t forget. I take care of you.

You finish your salad and place the empty bowl on top of the display window. You place your chopsticks delicately onto a napkin. You notice your water glass has dripped a few drops onto the bar after you pick it up and sip from it. You use another napkin to wipe up the droplets. You are so considerate to clean up after yourself. Others generally make messes of water rings, rogue rice and soy sauce and never think to clean it up. They leave the hostess to do that when they leave. But not you. If something falls from your plate or glass onto the bar, you clean it up. You even consolidate your straw paper, chopsticks wrapper, and napkins onto your empty plate when you’re finished. No one else ever does that. They come in like a tornado and leave destruction. No manners. But not you. I wonder if you used to work in a restaurant and know how much of a pain in the ass customers can be. Whatever the reason, you are so considerate. And I appreciate that.

I take your empty salad bowl and hand you your plate of Lava and Tekisasu Rolls. I nod and smile. You nod and smile back. You say thank you.

You re-calibrate your sticks into your left hand, pick up a piece of Lava Roll and inspect it like I knew you would. After discovering no avocado, you place the piece into your mouth. You chew, close your eyes and moan. You’ve had this one before, but it’s one of your favorites. Your reaction tells me how much you’ve missed that Lava Roll since the last time you had it.

Three weeks ago.
I remember.

You look at me. You nod and you smile. I nod and smile back. I love that I can make something that you thoroughly enjoy. I look forward to that every Tuesday. Making you happy makes me happy.

You pick up a piece of the Tekisasu Roll, inspect it and eat it. You like to alternate. I have to say, you made an excellent choice this week. Spicy Lava Roll and a cool, sweet shrimp and cucumber Tekisasu Roll. You really know your sushi. And I appreciate that.

I complete other orders. I glance your way. Watch you eat and read. Eat and read. Drink your water. Clean up your mess. Eat and read.

I clean my knife.

After your last bite, you place your chopsticks neatly at the top of your square plate. You check to make sure there is nothing around your plate to clean. You take the straw paper, chopstick wrapper and the three napkins – the one you had your chopsticks on between courses, the one in your lap, and the one underneath your water glass – and you put them all onto your plate. Your setting is sufficiently tidied. You look at me as you stand. I nod and smile. You say, “Thank you. It was delicious as always.” And you smile. You take cash from your wallet and you stuff it into the tip jar I have sitting on the display window. You always tip so well. Sometimes as much as your bill. Sometimes more. I guess it all depends on how far I make your eyes roll into the back of your head with my succulent sushi.

“Arigato!” I say and raise my hand into a wave. I watch you as you walk to the hostess station to pay your check. I watch your silhouette as you gracefully pull out more cash and wait for change. Your blouses and skirts and shoes are always perfectly matched. And they always look perfect on you. Made just for you.

You don’t even smile at the hostess. She called you a bitch once. Did you know that? I bet you don’t even care.

I’m the only one who gets smiles. And I appreciate that.

You turn, and all too quickly you walk out the door and you are gone.

I miss you.

I clean my knife.

See you next Tuesday.

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#LifeBooksWriting: Week 7

My book ‘movie’ dream cast.

I don’t really know what this means, actually. Dream cast for one of my books, or dream cast for one of my favorite read books?

So, you get both.

First, here is the dream cast for my first book, Throwback:

Jeremy & Livy

 Sara, Jenna & Maggie

Rosalie & Joe

Want to know more about this cast of characters? Here are my buy links for Throwback.

BUY LINKS:
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/oho8n6b
Amazon Canada: http://tinyurl.com/nvhbayk
Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/puwpbk2
B&N: http://tinyurl.com/orrjsrp
kobo: http://tinyurl.com/nroet9j
iTunes: http://tinyurl.com/p3t6eaq


SAY WHEN by Amy Vanessa Miller

Second, here is the author-constructed dream cast of a book I had the privilege of reading before it’s release. Say When by Amy Vanessa Miller. It’s a great read and these character selections are spot on! You should go mark it to read on Goodreads, here –> https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25492697

saywhen

Want to chat? Comment below or hit me up on facebook.com/zeiajameson

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#LifeBooksWriting: Week 6

My Top 5 Books and Why

This was a tortuous task. I have thought about this a lot. A LOT. So much, that this post is two weeks late! I couldn’t even narrow it down to 5. I’m listing 7, and this doesn’t even breach the surface of how many books I’ve read that I categorize as favorites. So, here we go (and these are in no particular order of favoritism).

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – this was the first book (that I can remember) that my grandmother ever gave me. I instantly fell in love not only with Anne but also with reading. This is where is all began.

Needful Things by Stephen King – I’ve been reading Stephen King books since I was eleven. This is also my grandmother’s fault. She had no qualms over letting me read Christine and Pet Cemetery on the weekends I would stay at her house. We also had movie marathons of Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street and any zombie movie that was available at the video store (hey, kids, in the 80s we used to rent videos, on VHS, at a physical store…we had it rough). My grandmother was a horror fanatic and an avid reader. In those two aspects, I followed right along in her footsteps. I cannot tell you how many Stephen King books I’ve read, or even how many I own, but if I haven’t read it, and I see it at a store or on sale on Audible, I snatch it up. That man can weave debauchery, gore and profanity into poetry. Needful Things is my favorite because of the theme: manipulation of the desperate. It depicts just what people will do when over powered by greed. Of all the Stephen King books I’ve read, it’s resonated with me the most.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte – I love books of all of the Bronte sisters, but this one is by far my favorite. I think mostly because its main character is a woman who branches out and breaks the stereotypical mold of her time. She’s disliked by many because of it, but she continues on with her head held high. Very inspirational and positive for women.

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover – I love all of Colleen’s books (do you see a pattern here…I LOVE books), but Hopeless had a twist that knocked me on my ass. The feeling I got when I reached this twist was epic. It was even better than when it was revealed that Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank, or that The Narrator and Tyler Durden in Fight Club were the same person. Best. Twist. Eva.

Marrow by Tarryn Fisher – This book was brilliantly written. I hung on every word. My favorite part is how the main character takes justice into her own hands. I live vicariously through Margo when I’m angry over the real injustices of our world.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (entire series) by Steig Larson (majority) and David Lagercrantz – Lisbeth Salander is an all around badass and a whiz hacker…she taps into my nerdy side. The story of the missing girl from the first book and Mikael Blomkvist’s determination to find the truth drew me in, but Lisbeth kept me reading.

The Martian by Andy Weir – Nerd Alert! This book combined a lot of scientific details about Mars, space travel, botany, mechanics and chemistry with efficient use of sarcasm and the F word. I loved every single page of this story. Mark Watney is my forever favorite book boyfriend (I know, I weird).

So that’s it in a nutshell. It at least gives you a glimpse into my crazy book world. What’s your top 5 book list? Comment here or hit me up on facebook/zeiajameson

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#LifeBooksWriting: Week 5

For the first Friday in June, my #LifeBooksWriting topic is “A Day in My Life”.

Uh…prepare to fall asleep.

Because I’m a full time working mom with addictive habits that include reading and writing, there is not much time for excitement. So, here you go…

*I wake up around 4:30 am, with all intention to work out. Instead, I usually head into my very quiet living room, because the rest of the house is sleeping, and read or write

*The 6:30-8:00 am scramble: shower, brush teeth, fix hair, makeup quickly enough to get out of way of hubby before he has to get ready. Get up the Little because it takes her 4 years to go potty and we have to plan time for that. After the toilet struggle, brush her teeth, brush her hair, get her dressed. Iron clothes for me and Hubs, get dressed. Head to kitchen to prepare juice, snacks, lunch, coffee. Select stuffed animals special enough for the car ride to school. Get on shoes. Kiss Hubs goodbye.

*Motherf***ing traffic – 45 minutes of traffic to drive 3 miles to school and 5 miles to work.

*Work, work, work, work, work (8 hours on repeat)

*Motherf***ing traffic – hour to an hour and a half to drive 5 miles to school, 3 miles home.

*Workout, maybe.

*Hang time with the Little. Dinner. Bath. Storytime. Bedtime. Delay, delay, delay. “I want water.”, “I have to potty.”, “This teddy bear isn’t working for me.”, “My pillow is too purple.”, “My pillow isn’t purple enough.”

*Chores to tidy up the house.

*Alcohol of some variety

*A little laptop time (like right now) for social media and other A.D.D junk.

*A couple of hours watching TV and talking with the Hubs that seem to pass by in 5 minutes.

*Bed until 4:30 again.

It’s hectic during the week, but all in all, I love it. I am very blessed with everything I have – except the motherf***ing traffic.

 

 

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#LifeBooksWriting: Week 4 (1 week late)

Catching up on my #LifeBooksWriting assignment, last week, I was supposed to discuss my character inspirations.

That’s a tough one. So far, none of my characters have been based on any particular person that I know. This is going to sound completely insane, but my characters introduce themselves to me. They speak to me and tell me about their personalities. They set up scenes themselves. They are all their own entities within my head – I just give them a bigger voice when I put them on paper.

Now, before you recommend me to a good shrink, I want everyone to know that I enjoy every single bit of the process. Just as I love reading books, and entering worlds with characters that other writers have created, I feel blessed that my characters speak to me and allow me to create worlds of my own that hopefully other readers can get lost in.

Have questions about specific characters? Post below or hit me up on social media.

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#LifeBooksWriting: Week 3 (two weeks late)

So, I fell slack on this task and I’ve missed two of the LifeBooksWriting topics. Tonight, I will catch up. The third week’s topic was “6 Book Marketing Tips”.

#1-#6: I have no clue. I suck at marketing. Seriously. I’m a writer, not a salesperson. Of course, I want you to read my books, but I want you to read them because you chose to read them, not because I asked you to. With that said, if you don’t make your books appealing, no one will read them willingly and unsolicited. So, here is what I’ve learned in the 14 months I’ve been a published author.

#1: Make your cover attractive. Hire a professional designer if you don’t know how to create your own cover. Put whatever you want on the cover, but the design needs to be appealing enough for a potential reader to want to move on to read the synopsis of the book.

#2: Make your synopsis riveting. Sometimes writing the synopsis is the hardest part of publishing a book. If you don’t lure a potential reader in with the few sentences of the synopsis, they aren’t going to give the rest of your book a chance.

#3: Opt to provide a sample of the book on Amazon or whichever marketplace you sell your books. Giving readers a sneak peak can get them hooked to where they want to finish and buy the book to do so.

#4: Use social media. Not to push your book, but to make real connections with readers, bloggers and other authors. Those connections, if genuine, will eventually provide you with a good “word of mouth” network, which can sell your books faster than any other strategy.

#5: Write a great book. Seriously. Put your heart into it. Make it the best. And have someone (if not multiple someones) that know what they’re doing edit the shit out of it.

#6: Don’t be a dick. If readers try to reach out to you, be grateful. Be humble. In the end, the way you treat others, especially on the interwebs, will impact your business of being an author. Even if someone comes at you spewing negativity, the best ways to respond are either not at all or to kill them with kindness.

That’s all I’ve got. If you have questions, comment below, shoot me an email or find me on facebook (facebook/zeiajameson) and/or Twitter/Instagram (@ZeiaJameson).

 

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#LifeBooksWriting: Week 2

This week’s topic for #LifeBooksWriting is my bookshelf or my current read. You want to know a quirky fact about me? I’m a book hoarder. A bona fide book nerd. Before the technological genius of Kindle and Audible was conceptualized, I made sure I always carried a purse big enough to stow and tow my current read.

Now, my reading mania has amplified. I always have a current read in physical copy, on my Kindle app (on my phone) and on my Audible app (also on my phone). Always. I generally finish what’s on my Kindle or Audible apps much quicker than any physical copy because frankly those are much more portable and my obsessive book toting days have waned.

In any event, here is what I am currently reading, what I’ve recently read – that I loved – and what I am really looking forward to reading:


CURRENT READS

buckfuckingdent

Bucky F&%@ing Dent
by David Duchovny

If you’ve followed me on any form of social media you’ll know I’m passionate about a number of certain things. If you don’t follow me, let me brush you up on some of those things:

  • I love ALL THINGS Boston, to include the Red Sox. This book has a Red Sox theme.
  • It’s written by THE David Duchovny – the actor best known for X Files, Californication, Evolution – and he is basically all around fantastic. I’ll read anything he writes.
  • I love the F word. It’s my favorite word in the English language. It’s too versatile not to abuse. I use that word more than a typical sailor. Trust me, I’ve validated that statement. If that word is in the title, I’m reading the book (unless it’s some obscure dinosaur porn called I F***ed a dinosaur – not really into that kind of literature).

I picked up a hardback of this book while perusing Barnes & Noble a few days ago (which I don’t get to do as often as I’d like – but who does, right?). I’ve only read a few pages so far, but it has Duchovny’s wit smeared all over it.


 

The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan
by Kim Barker

You may be more familiar with this book as its movie title, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (starring Tina Fey). This book covers reporter Kim Barker’s experience during her time in the Middle East. I’m a quarter of the way in on Audible and it is captivating. As a side note, the woman who narrates this book, Kirsten Potter, also narrated a book I recently read (listened to) called Find Her. It’s a dark suspense thriller set in Boston (told you, I like Boston) that had a lot of twists. If you like Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), I think you’ll enjoy this too.

findher

Find Her
by Lisa Gardner


fate
Fighting Fate
by JB Salsbury

On my Kindle, I began reading Fighting Fate today. This is the 7th installment of JB’s Fighting series. Cage fighters and the women who love them. The overall theme of family and loyalty that these books instill is the main reason why I love these stories so much. The books are set in Vegas and there is a good amount of steam, mystery and suspense as well – in case you were wondering.


RECENT READS

Here are some books that I’ve read on my Kindle this year, all of which I absolutely loved:

Second Chance Neighbors Series
by Josie Kerr

Do you like guys with beards and tats? Irish guys? Fighters? If you checked any of those boxes, you are going to love this series. Family, unity, loyalty play big roles in these stories. Some good suspense included as well.

Risking Ruin and Borrowing Time (Pig & Barley series)
by Mae Wood

Great reads from Mae Wood, set in Tennessee. Both books center around one couple who flirt with disaster to be together. Pig & Barley refers to a restaurant frequented by the characters, which offers great modern, Tennessee cuisine and the best craft beers – a.k.a, a restaurant that I wish existed in real life!

Here’s To series by Teagan Hunter

This is a great series about finding yourself and being happy regardless of your past. The characters in these books grab your attention from page one and pull at your heartstrings hard. There are some heavy ugly cry moments, for sure. But each tear is completely worth it.

The Rub Down and Our Time
by Gina Sheldon

The first book, The Rub Down, centers on the main character who is training to run the Boston Marathon a year after the bombings. Her trainer suggests working the kinks in her muscles at the hot elite spa called The Rub Down. Our Time continues the story but spotlights different characters. Once again, the story has a “family/loyalty” theme that I absolutely adored.

Change of Hart and Hart to Heart
by M.E. Carter

Sports-centric, which I’m always down for – especially football. These books were sweet and beautiful reads. However, I will warn you that they will make you cry. YOU. WILL. CRY.

All that Jazz by Natasha Boyd
&
Can’t You See by Dawn L. Chiletz

Natasha Boyd and Dawn L. Chiletz are two of my all time favorite authors.

This year, Boyd released All That Jazz, the third installment of the Eversea series. The setting for these books is low country Georgia and South Carolina, which I am quite fond of. I love her stories and characters and the details she includes regarding location make me long for the beach and the smell of the sea.

Dawn L. Chiletz threw me for a loop when she released this twisty suspense thriller, as her normal subject matter is heartfelt romance. This book is a head scratcher, in a good way. When you are done, you are going to want give it a second read immediately to make sure what just happened, actually just happened.


WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO READING

Dear Heart, I Hate You by J. Sterling
&
The Photographer Trilogy by Sarah Robinson

J. Sterling released a new book this week called Dear Heart, I Hate You. I fell in love with her writing a few years back when I read her Game Changer series (if you haven’t met Jack F-ing Carter, I suggest you read that series immediately). I’m looking forward to seeing what J brings us with this book.

While I patiently await the second book in Sarah Robinson’s Kavanagh Legends (Irish fighters) series to release, I want to dive into her Photography Trilogy, which I recently picked up on sale as a box set (currently $5.99 on Amazon – great deal).

 

Sooooo…that’s it. Well, that’s not really IT. The list of books that I’ve read in the past 6 months and the list of those on my TBR (to be read) are enormous. Massive. This is just the tip of the iceberg, you guys. If you are dying to know more, or want suggestions on what to read next, find me on Facebook (facebook.com/zeiajameson), Twitter or Instagram (@ZeiaJameson), or email at zeia.jameson@gmail.com.

What’s on your bookshelf?