Cara Sue Achterberg’s Girls Weekend – Excerpt


Author photoWhen Charlotte arrived home, she found Dani wrapped in a soft pink afghan sitting on the couch sipping a glass of wine in the fading sunlight.

“Hey, how was your day, Picasso?”

Dani shook her head. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“That makes two of us.”

“I talked to Joe again. He’s frustrated.”

“Of course he is.”

“And I don’t know what to paint. I spent the whole afternoon out there, just staring at the stuff we bought. This whole thing is crazy. We shouldn’t be here.”

“Wow, this seems serious; hand me that wine bottle.”

“How come you’re so fine? No one else is,” asked Dani reaching for the bottle and giving it to Charlotte.

“We’re here aren’t we? We already pissed off our husbands. So what’s the point in being miserable? We need to capitalize on this time.”

“But that makes it sound like we’re here for fun.”

“Aren’t we?”

“No! My life isn’t working anymore. I’m not happy. I didn’t stay here so I could party with my girlfriends. I stayed here to figure things out.”

“So it’s really a midlife crisis!”

Dani smiled. “Well then it’s a really boring, pathetic midlife crisis.”

“Until now!”

“I was kidding. This isn’t a midlife crisis.”

“Of course that’s what this is. I’m all for it. I say we embrace it. We should drink a lot and do something crazy.”

“We already are drinking a lot.”

“True,” said Charlotte taking a sip from the bottle.

“And staying here in Sweet Beach is kind of crazy.”

“Not crazy enough!”

“What’s not crazy enough?” asked Meg, walking in the door.

“Charlotte thinks that we’re having a midlife crisis and we need to be doing something crazier than abandoning our families and drinking too much at the beach.”

“I think this is pretty much my limit on crazy,” said Meg, taking the bottle from Charlotte and going in search of wine glasses.

“I landed another job today,” said Charlotte.

“What?” called Meg from the dining room. “You’re kidding.”

“Nope,” she said and told them about the t-shirt shop and Mr. Abib.

“What do you know about redecorating retail stores? I thought you only did upscale offices and homes. I can’t picture you in a t-shirt shop,” laughed Dani.

And a shoe shop,” Charlotte reminded her. “It’s all the same idea, though. I can do this. Besides, who spends more time in retail shops than me?”

“Uh, people who own them and work there,” said Meg, handing Charlotte a glass and pouring one for herself.

“Well, being here makes me want to try something different. It makes me feel like someone different. I can do anything I want.”

“Not anything,” said Meg. “We’ll have to go home someday.”

“Why?” asked Charlotte taking the bottle from Meg.

“You have a husband, for one!” sputtered Meg. “And a son. Remember him?”

“They are both perfectly fine without me.”

“You know that’s not true,” said Dani.

“I absolutely do know it’s true. Maybe you guys are here for a little extended vacation, but I might just stay.” Charlotte drained the remainder of the wine into her glass. “Tell me; why are you here? You want to change your life, right? You’re sick of it the way it is.”

There was a stunned silence and then Dani said, “I think we need more of this,” picking up the empty wine bottle and retreating to the kitchen for another.

“Well?” Charlotte’s tone was teasing, but her look gave her away. “C’mon Meg. This is our chance to change things. Don’t you want more than a house full of perfect kids and a husband who makes more money than God? Things could be different. You could be different!”

“You know nothing about my life, Charlotte. Maybe I like it fine just the way it is.” said Meg, her voice rising. “You’re the one who has nothing to be running away from. One perfect, amazing, don’t-we-all-wish-we-had kid. A husband who does most of the parenting. A fancy job, a fancy car, and you’ve never had to diet a day in your life. I’d trade you in a second!”

“Wait a minute,” said Dani returning with a new bottle. “What’s going on here? It’s not a competition! We all have our own shit to deal with. Being here isn’t about judging; it’s about just being.”

“You’re getting a little too new-agey for me, Dani,” said Charlotte, holding her glass out for more.

Dani filled all of their glasses and sat back down.

“Look, I know I started this, but obviously we all have our own reasons for staying. I’m not going to pry into yours, but I’m here for you both if you need me.”

No one said anything. Charlotte looked at Dani and Meg. How well did she really know her two best friends? How well did they know her?

“Now what do we do?” asked Meg.

Charlotte regretted challenging her friends’ reasons for staying. They all needed to be here. That was the bottom line. She walked over to the stereo on the bookshelf. Then she turned back to them and smiled. “We dance!” she yelled, and loud music erupted from the speakers.