Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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When Fantasies Come True

October 19, 2015

 

 

 

I’ve always had a rich fantasy life. I can go toe to toe with Walter Mitty when it comes to possessing a powerful imagination. I’ve closed my eyes and ridden magic carpets, slayed dragons, played rock music in front of thousands of screaming fans (I don’t even sing in the shower) and traveled back in time to important moments in history, like Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. None of these fantasies ever came true, but this weekend one did, compelling me to stop, smell the roses and remember how one desire was once vexingly beyond my reach.

           

Mrs. Chatterbox and I had been living in smoggy overcrowded Southern California, working hard, coughing up dry Santa Ana winds and dreaming about rain, glorious rain, and majestic mountains rising from endless emerald forests. Our son CJ was born shortly after our move to Oregon, six years into our marriage. We were thrilled to have a perfect little boy, but money was tight. Mrs. C. had a job with bankers’ hours, but I was in retail and required to work evenings, weekends and holidays. We seldom had days off together. This was the fantasy Mrs. C. and I shared:

         

It’s a rainy weekend and somehow I don’t need to jump into a suit and head off to the jewelry store to scratch out a living. We’re in our own home and a fire is crackling in the fireplace. Mrs. C. is cooking; savory smells permeate the house. The TV is playing a favorite movie from my childhood, like Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts, The Day the Earth Stood Still or Journey to the Center of the Earth. Our boy is happily playing with his legos and toy cars. Everyone is safe, warm and content.

 

Fantasies seldom become reality, and when they do it’s important to take a moment and soak up the moment. On Saturday I finished work for the day on my painting, cleaned my brushes and went to find Mrs. C. She was in the kitchen making chicken enchiladas. Spices and freshly cut cilantro perfumed the air like incense at a high mass. The TV was on and Kevin Corcoran (who passed away only last week) was stirring things up in another of my childhood favorites, Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson.

 

“I just talked to CJ,” Mrs. C. yelled over the roar of cutlasses rattling and cannons firing as the Robinsons took on the pirates. “I invited him to dinner.”

           

She handed me a glass of wine and I paused to take it all in. It was a weekend and I wasn’t stuck in retail, hadn’t been in ages. I’d long become accustomed to Oregon rain and seldom gave it a thought, but I paused to listen as it lashed the windows of our cozy home. Mouth watering food was being prepared in the kitchen, and a movie from my childhood was playing on TV. In a few hours our boy, who until recently had himself worked evenings and weekends, had the day off and would be paying us a visit, catching us up on his life. Here was my greatest fantasy—once out of reach. I refused to let the moment pass without savoring it.

           

What about you? Do you have a fantasy that’s come true? Close to coming true? Care to share?

 



Comments

34 Comments
You have to stop and enjoy those moments. It's usually the little ones that matter the most. Hope it was just a good as you'd imagined. I had the rock star dream. Still not stood in front of a crowd over a thousand, but real close!
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on October 19, 2015
I've pretty much lived my fantasy.
By: Ellen Abbott on October 19, 2015
I don't much have fantasies, but I do have memories that are so vivid sometimes I feel as if I am watching them on tv or something. Some I have wanted to climb into and re-live...especially the ones that include my brother who died in 1983.
By: Terri@ on October 19, 2015
I would like to experience being pain free. Improbable, if not impossible.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 19, 2015
Well, er, I used to have a lot of fantasies that are not appropriate for mixed company. But lately, I find myself fantasizing about having grandchildren. Guess I'm showing my age!
By: Tom Sightings on October 19, 2015
I have a few, but too few to mention (c'mon, how could I pass that line up?). I think I like yours more. Plus, I'm lovin' me some chicken enchiladas.
By: Al Penwasser on October 19, 2015
I thought I would never get to see my grandchildren again. I fantasized about reading stories to them and then the moment came when I actually got to see them, have them in my bed and read to them, I took a moment to soak it in, and nearly broke out crying! It was a good feeling......Loved your story......
By: Linda on October 19, 2015
My fantasy is an odd one in that when I originally dreamed it up in my early twenties, I thought it was possible. Boy was I ever kidding myself. It's basically this: that by the time I was in my forties (which I considered middle age) I would have friends that could afford to go on vacation with me, that could afford to eat out with me whenever I wanted to eat out, and would generally be "well off" enough to go to movies with me on weekends and buy their own tickets. This has not happened. All of my friends without exception live in poverty and they are the same age as me. My friend James (who you met) has been my friend for over twenty years. He will never be able to afford to come visit me. He just doesn't make enough money. If I go visit him, I'll have to buy dinner because he doesn't have the money to pay for the "fancy" meals. This extends to my friend Tomeka in Detroit, to my friends here in Salt Lake City. They are all living in poverty. Many of them are in this situation because they pissed away their youth having fun instead of getting an education. Now they are middle aged and don't want to go to school because "they are too old and would feel ashamed" and it causes depressions and other things so they prefer either to work menial jobs that they can subsist on OR to not work at all because not working = happiness. Those "few" friends that I did have that did manage to prosper? Well they got "partnered" up and married and are raising families and really are no longer friends. So I guess you can say that "all the good ones" got picked and all that's left are the bad fruit. I know it's not being a good "friend" to refer to many of my existing friends as "bad fruit" but it is what it is. Anyway, my point is that my "fantasy" (because make no mistake it is a fantasy) has been shattered by life. At the ripe age of 44 I can't ever see a friend going on vacation with me unless I pay for the whole damn thing (which I probably won't do because why should I spend my hard earned money on someone else?) However, I think it's wonderful that your fantasies have come true. Congratulations on a life well-lived.
By: Michael Offutt on October 19, 2015
This is very heart-warming. It inspires me to stop and savor. I have so many fantasies that have become realized. I think I've been too scared for the savoring, but that's silly. Time to savor away. Thanks for the inspiration.
By: Robyn Engel on October 19, 2015
How wonderful for you! My fanatasy has yet to come true -- to be able to have enough money to renovate this very broken house, and to be debt free, including no house payment. Maybe someday.
By: messymimi on October 19, 2015
that made me tear up.
By: TexWisGirl on October 19, 2015
You obviously have your priorities straight and I am so pleased you not only got to live your fantasy but you recognized it. Well done. The most recent one was the sibling get away spent in the Keys where 2 of us grew up. Ah the memories.
By: Akansas Patti on October 19, 2015
Sorry. I'm not a fantasy person. A dreamer but no fantasy. Maybe I didn't see enough movies when I was young. Well I didn't see many movies... maybe 20 by the time I was 18.
By: red on October 19, 2015
Now you have got me thinking. I am very blessed but not so complacent that I do not have wider wishes. But right now I have to think about it. I did love the coziness of your lovely family settings and rituals.
By: Tabor on October 19, 2015
Stephen, you described such a wonderful moment, I could feel the contentment and delight. Beautiful to savor such sweet times in our life. We feel blessed to be have achieved a goal of living here on the California central coast. I guess we dreamed about it when we were young. I've reached a point in this journey when I try to savor every moment and attempt to see the good or Providence in everything. That's a challenge, but finding pleasure and joy in moments like that you described is a continuing benefit.
By: Tom Cochrun on October 19, 2015
Such a simple but sweet fantasy. It speaks so loudly of your love for your family.
By: Hilary on October 19, 2015
Yes. I am living my fantasy. I snagged a hard-working husband who puts up with my shenanigans, and we have two sons who make me prouder every day. I had the husband fantasy for about five years until I met him. I knew he was the one. The boys? I actually wished on a shooting star for them. And look what it got me!
By: Val on October 19, 2015
You don't have to wish for exotic things to have a fantasy--it's wonderful that yours was so attainable!
By: fishducky on October 19, 2015
Your fantasy struck a chord with me. Many years ago, before we moved from Buffalo to South Carolina, my husband moved ahead for the job, while I stayed behind to sell the house. It was a bad market to sell a house at the time (it took nine months). My husband's company paid for him to fly home every other weekend, but those weekends were short and filled with doing his laundry, getting the house spiffed up for selling, etc. I missed the everyday interaction with him and remember saying, "All I want is to sit on the SAME couch in the evening, reading the SAME newspaper, watching the SAME television screen." As I said, it took nine months...and I remember being very grateful when we finally spent the evenings together again on the SAME couch. It's the little things that make married life what it is... :-)
By: Pixel Peeper on October 19, 2015
I love days like you described. I'll have to think about the fantasy idea. R
By: Rick Watson on October 19, 2015
This sounds like the perfect weekend and you said that mine reunion sounded more exciting... I don't think so!
By: Sage on October 19, 2015
Stephen: Well written. I came by twice to re-read it. Yes, I have had many dreams fulfilled and many more yet to be! ;) Again, a fine post!!
By: Michael Manning on October 19, 2015
I think you are a wise man to recognize and savour this dream come true.
By: jenny_o on October 19, 2015
Appreciation of such times is so very important.Of course this dream was not about winning the lottery or any such thing, it was about being safe, warm, fed and sharing the moment with those you love. Wonderful!
By: John on October 20, 2015
I have had many fantasies/dreams that have come true -- things that sound simple, but really are blessings, I suppose. As a child I dreamed of living in England, of going to fancy balls in beautiful gowns and that all came true. I fantasized about sitting at my dining room table at Christmas able to see the Christmas tree and a fire crackling and my family all around -- and it came true. I have had a most fortunate life -- not always easy but always blessed.
By: The Broad on October 20, 2015
What a nice story. Sometimes I look around and realise "this is what I want" - and it's a great feeling.
By: Jenny Woolf on October 20, 2015
You have been greatly blessed, indeed.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on October 20, 2015
I had to laugh at your first sentence. One of SWMBO's favorite expressions to me is "you live a rich fantasy life!" But without fantasies, what is life worth? I have lived some of mine and enjoyed them.
By: Catalyst on October 20, 2015
Don't think any fantasies have come true, but I guess I fant High. Still no complaints, lots of good stuff in my life. Excellent post.
By: cranky on October 20, 2015
Lovely and so sweet a post- you and Mrs C are so blessed. My wish/fantasy is that someday we can all get along. Meanwhile I just hope our children have as happy a life as I have had so far. No life is perfect, but without those down times who would recognize the good times. Cheers and thanks for always leaving such nice, thoughtful comments!
By: Kathe W. on October 20, 2015
I've always been very much like you (and Walter Mitty). I can happily say many of my fantasies have come true. But, sadly, none of my little carpets have ever gotten off the ground.
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 21, 2015
I love this story - and yes I do try not to take the pleasures of my life for granted. Last night Mike & I were watching baseball - he was surfing Facebook & I was crocheting in my own recliner (I didn't have a chair in the living room for years because our computer was in there & I just sat at the computer). It was a wonderful slice of life.
By: The Bug on October 21, 2015
I have had dreams and they have come true. When I was a kid watching Going My Way, I saw hoe dream like Rise Stevens mentioned Budapest and I was smitten. I needed to go...and I did! It was beautiful.
By: Birgit on October 21, 2015
What a wonderful story and so glad you could seize the moment while it was playing out. I have had a fantasy come true. I'll have to find the old blog post and put it up. It's from way back when. Sorry I've been MIA but hope to catch up on blogs now.
By: Bouncin Barb on October 28, 2015

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