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Featured Author: RoseMary McDaniel

cprightc2.gif (205 bytes)1999 Rights to all materials remain the property of the author.

About the author:

Fascinated as a child by the fairy tales read by her father, RoseMary Sherwin McDaniel felt an instinctive tie to her own Irish heritage.  From the age of five, she penned her own stories, but her serious adult efforts were concentrated in Indiana and Michigan historical writing that led to a newspaper column, "Climbing Your Family Tree."  Now she is discovering the joys of story telling with her own short stories.  Her latest stories and poems now appear in Fantasy Press.

You may contact her at retrospectpress@hotmail.com

Visit her other sites on the Web: Retrospect Press & Exploring Your Past Lives

Link to: Michiana History


September Born - a short story by RoseMary McDaniel

"September birthdays, like December ones, get cheated," Lyla declared, turning over the calendar page to the new month, and circling the date, Saturday, September first.

"How so?" asked her friend Midge, leafing absentmindedly through the latest issue of Cosmo Girl she'd found laying on the kitchen counter.

"See, everybody celebrates Labor Day as the end of Summer, and suddenly September is Fall.  But it isn't!  Summer isn't over until late in the month, the 22nd or 23rd.  It just isn't fair!"

"Whoever said..." Midge quoted, her voice trailing off in disinterest.

"Virgos expect things to be fair," Lyla reminded her.   "Of course, nothing ever is.  But we expect it."

"You're going to be 27, and you still expect too much," Midge agreed.  She looked up from the magazine with a wicked grin. "Like Jeffery, old what's-his-sign, right?"

"I'm not discussing Jeffery.  He's a Leo and he's ancient history."

"He was just last week."

"Last week is ancient history. I've moved on."

"Oh, yeah?" Midge taunted.  "Didn't I just see you all teary-eyed over 'your song' on the radio yesterday?"

"Just residual flashback," Lyla insisted.  "I'm over it, really."

"That's just it," Midge replied.  "You, of all people, are never over it."

"That's why I've decided to do something about it," Lyla said, handing Midge a magazine clipping.

"Tired of trying to live up to your Sign?  Need a change?   Now you can, with 'Sun Switch,' only $9.95." Midge read the ad and burst into laughter. 

"You can laugh if you want, sinceAries people like you, are the first ones to scoff," Lyla sniffed, "But just you wait and see.  This will work.   I'll be a whole new sign and it will change my life."

"What sign will it take to do that?" asked Midge, still giggling.

"Sagittarius, maybe." Lyla said.  "They've outgoing, friendly, but independent.

"At least that's what it says here," Midge answered, consulting the page in her hand.  "But don't they all have their good and bad points ?"

"Maybe," Lyla agreed.  "But I'm tired of being a cold fish. Besides, Virgos are too complicated.   Maybe I'll try Aquarius, that's a real free-spirited sign."

"Yeah, isn't that what our boss is?"

"Could be," Lyla mused, not wanting to be reminded of the time they spent each weekday laboring side by side entering data at an insurance company.

"He's a real wack-o!" 

"That's just it, he's a guy." Lyla exclaimed. "Guys express the dynamics of their sign personality differently than women."

"You read that in here?" Midge asked.

"No, in a paperback on sun signs, I've been really doing an in-depth on this. I know there's a perfect sign for me."

"Honey, take it from me, and my experience with two ex-husbands. There ain't no perfect anything.  Besides, I came by so we could go out, not waste a perfectly good Saturday night moping around here."

"I'm not sure I should go out, before the Sun-Switch, I know I won't have a really good time," Lyla insisted.

"You never have a really good time, but you promised," Midge told her.   "Get your butt outta that chair and get changed.  You've got ten minutes, or I'm going without you!"

Lyla got up and meandered toward her bedroom.  "O.K., I guess once more won't hurt.  I'll be right back."

The evening went pretty much as Lyla expected.  Flirty Midge be-bopped all night long to the jukebox with a greasy-haired had-to-be-Scorpio, and Lyla just ate baseketfuls of peanuts in the shell, and nursed her diet coke in a back booth while lots of intoxicated and semi-intoxicated people mingled in a sort of sweaty Dating Game.  She had a typical Virgo evening out, that is, bored out of her skull with the loud music and senseless conversation.

Her mind was made up.  Next week she'd send away for a real chance to change her life.  She'd become a Sagittarius and learn to party all night long. 

It was the middle of the month before Lyla found a large envelope in her mail box, when she came home from work.  She forced herself to delay opening it, until she had changed into comfy jeans and a t-shirt, and had settled herself at the kitchen counter with a diet Pepsi.

This was it, she thought.  The first day of the rest of her life as the person she'd always wanted to be.  She opened the envelope.  Inside was a colorful certificate, stating her name and her new sign status, including her new birth date.  She was no longer a Virgo, born September 17. Now, she was a Sagittarius, born December 17.

Nice that they kept the same date, she thought.  That makes it easier to remember, since the year, of course, remained the same.  It also made her 3 months younger, and she wrinkled her nose as she read the precaution on the printed materials that accompanied her certificate. It warned her never to attempt to use her new birth date in any official capacity, that it was only for entertainment purposes, not to, blah, blah, blah.

That was tiresome Virgo detail, the kind she wasn't about to concern herself with, anymore.  Eagerly she read the new Sagittarian profile that had come with her certificate.  "Happy-Go-Lucky and Gregarious," it said. "A bit of a gambler with a great sense of humor - the natural party-goer and party-giver."

That was it - she'd throw a party to introduce her new self to everyone.   She'd be out-going and carefree - she even felt looser in her skin. She rotated her now Sagittarian hips (that was the most important body part for her new sign) and set her feet in motion. She whirled about the room to come face to face with herself in the mirror.

"You are a now a winner," she told herself, smiling back at the reflected face.

"A party sounds great," Midge agreed later, when Lyla invited her to come over on Saturday night.  "What are you planning?"

"Nothing," Lyla replied. "That's just it - what this is going to be is a spontaneous Sagittarius sort of party.  Nothing planned, just whatever happens."

"Hmm," said Midge. "This I gotta see.  Old Miss Worry-Wart kicking back - don't that beat all."

Lyla had shed her worries and her inhibitions by Saturday night at 6 p.m. She stood in front of the mirror, shaking her head and letting her hair go free, admiring her new non-Virgo-stye outfit.

"Wow," marveled Midge.  "That hot lime number really makes you look hot."

Lyla pouted her lips and struck a pose.  "Who loves 'ya, Babe?" she said, wriggling her behind that the short skirt barely covered.  The halter top of the dress accented her most important parts, left to move freely under the fabric.  Midge was right.  She was hot, and she was ready.

"So, who's coming?" Midge asked, as they drifted out to the kitchen.

"Oh, everybody," Lyla said with an unconcerned shrug of her shoulders.

Midge opened the fridge and peered inside.  "So, where's the food?" she asked, finding only a few cans of diet Pepsi, a wilted head of lettuce, and two containers of peach yogurt.

"That's a detail I didn't bother with," Lyla answered. "We can phone for delivery once everybody gets here."

Midge took out a diet Pepsi, popped the tab and took a sip.

Lyla snapped on the T.V. and practiced smooth dance maneuvers around the room.  She felt like she was gliding on ice, her feet barely touching the floor.   She was alive like a sparkler, sending energy in all directions.  She kept filling her glass from a large bottle of pink champagne that sat warming on the table.

Midge watched in silence for a while, then drained the can of pop. She glanced up at the clock on the wall.  Finally she spoke.

"It's after seven, so where is everybody?"

"Time is immaterial, they'll be here when the time is right."

By eight-thirty, Midge couldn't stand it any longer.

She went over and tapped Lyla, who was still dancing about to the music, oblivious to the passage of time, on the shoulder.

"Don't you get it?  Nobody's going to show," she said.

Lyla looked a little vague.  "It doesn't matter," she replied.  "When they show, they show."

"Well, I'm not going to spend all evening watch you make out like some big wet butterfly with a broken landing gear," Midge said.  "I'm starved, and I'm going to the Club. If you don't want to spend all evening alone - I suggest you come along."

"Would that be the spon-spontaneous thing to do?" Lyla asked, stumbling over her words.

"Absolutely," Midge agreed.

"Okey Dokey, then," Lyla giggled, fully tipsy now.

"Maybe you ought to sit this one out," Midge said, reconsidering her offer.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Lyla said, pushing Midge toward the door.

Midge stopped long enough to pick up her purse and Lyla's, shove Lyla's over her shoulder, and off they went.

"I'll drive," Midge said.

"Okey Dokey," said the very agreeable Sagittarian.

A very amazed Midge watched as Lyla spent the rest of the night dancing with anyone and everyone who asked.  Finally at the height of a frantic spin in a spirited jitterbug with a thin Hispanic male who looked like he just stepped out of a Flamenco contest, Lyla slipped on some peanut shells and fell down, hard.

Her partner was stunned, as Lyla lay there shrieking loudly.

"My hip, my hip. I think I've broken it!"

Midge rushed to her side to comfort her, while the bartender called 911. The little man who had been whirling Lyla about faded off and disappeared.

"My first big night as a Sagittarius, and I've blown it!" Lyla cried as they put her in the ambulance.

Midge followed in her own car, and waited until Lyla was finished with the Emergency Room, X-rays, and settled into a room.

"We're going to keep her for a few days," The fatherly doctor told Midge in the hallway, later. "The hip's not broken, but she's pretty banged up.   Not feeling any pain, right now, though," he announced, referring to the rather bawdy songs that Lyla was singing over and over again. 

"She never drinks," Midge told him with a red face.   "Really this isn't like her at all.  You see," she rushed on, anxious to explain.  "She had a Sign Switch earlier this week.  From a Virgo to a Sagittarius - and it's made her, well, unpredictable."

"I see," said the doctor.  "Well, I'm a Taurus, and I know just what to do."

"You do?" Midge asked.  "Great, I was hoping someone could talk some sense into her.  I'll be back to visit tomorrow.  But I'm an Aries and hospitals give me the willies, so I've got to run."

"Perfectly understandable," he replied.  "Don't worry, we'll take good care of your friend. but there is something you can do," and he proceeded to tell her just what that was.

Next morning, Lyla was sure she had died.  She opened her eyes just enough to see that she was in a white room, probably the morgue.  Her eyes hurt too much to open them any wider.  In fact, everything hurt, from her head to her toes, with special emphasis on her rear end.  Her new life was a big bust.

Gradually, she became aware of voices, first outside the room, and then beside her bed.  Footsteps moved away to the door, and she felt a cool hand take her pulse.  She sneaked a peek.  She saw a broad smiling middle aged man's face atop a hospital coat with a stethoscope hanging about the neck.

"So, you're finally awake," he said. "Come on, open those eyes."

She forced them apart and grimaced at the light.  "I guess I'm not dead, then," she said.

"Only hung over," he said in an even tone.  "You'll be fine, after the operation."

"Operation!" she exclaimed, and attempted to sit up, but the attempt made her nauseous.

"Whoa, girl," the man said.  "You're not quite hitting on all your cylinders. Better lie still for a while."

"Will I be OK?" Lyla asked in an anxious tone of voice.

"Right as rain," he replied.

"You're my doctor?" she asked. 

"One of them," he replied.

"I remember falling while I was dancing.  I guess I broke something, huh?"

"Nothing so serious," he answered, and turned at the sound of footsteps.

"Here's your friend," he continued, as Midge made a hesitant entrance.  She clutched a bouquet of daisies, a card, several magazines, and a envelope."

"How are you?" she asked Lyla.

Lyla put on a smile. "A little sore, but OK, I guess."

"You really gave me a scare," Midge said.  "I've never seen you act so wild."

"Me, neither," Lyla replied, and winced as she moved. "I'm not sure the new me is worth the pain."

"When can you go home?" Midge asked.

Lyla looked up at the doctor.  "Ask him," she said.

"Dr. Brewer," he said, "Dr. David Brewer, of course we met last night," he said for Lyla's benefit.  "I should suspect you can go home tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" Lyla exclaimed.  "But what about the operation?"

"Operation!" Midge echoed.  "What kind of operation?"

"A relatively painless one," Dr. Brewer replied, taking the envelope from Midge and handing it to Lyla.

She reached for it gingerly and immediately recognized it. "This is my Sagittarius certificate," she said to Midge.  "Why did you bring it here?"

"Because I asked her too," Dr. Brewer answered, opening the envelope and removing the parchment inside.  "This is what turned you into a party animal?"

"Yes," Lyla replied not looking up to meet his eyes.   "I guess it wasn't such a hot idea."

"As a gag gift, it has some merit," he said.  "But to use it as license to act irresponsibly, is a big mistake."

"I just wanted to break loose from being a boring Virgo," Lyla said.

"And what did you get except a pain in the butt," Midge said.   "Face it, Lyla, it just wasn't you.  And I've got to get out of here, Hospitals aren't me, either.  Call me if you need a ride home."

Dr. Brewer waited until Midge had gone before he spoke,"You were lucky that brusing was all that happened to you. You could have had a much worse accident. Do you really want to be like that - wild and out of control?"

"No," Lyla said, "I'm really ashamed.  I made a big fool out of myself."

Dr. Brewer smiled.  "Earth signs are usually able to admit when they're wrong," he said.  "But  they're pretty durable, too. As I told your friend, I'm a Taurus myself, very dependable, sold, but I do like my creature comforts."

"I guess dependable isn't such a bad thing to be," Lyla said.   "But what about the operation."

"Oh, that," said Dr. Brewer.  "I told your friend to stop by your place and bring along that certificate.  I've heard of that Sign Switch thing, in fact, my family had got me one for my birthday a couple of years ago, and tried to switch me to a more free-spending Gemini. It didn't work, of course, because I never took it seriously.  You, on the other hand, made a sincere effort to change, and that's a good Virgo trait.

"It is?" Lyla asked.

"Indeed, your efforts just need a little more direction.  Your friend says you're bored with the Club scene, and I can understand, that's not a Virgo kind of thing."

"I guess not," Lyla admitted.

"On the other hand, the helping others is an Earth sign kind of thing.
Have you ever considered volunteering here at the hospital on your free time?  They always use a helping hand, especially in the children's ward."

"I love kids," Lyla said in a wistful voice.  "That sounds like something I'd like to try."

"Good," the doctor replied.  "I'll set you up with the Director of the Volunteer program - he's my son. I think you'll like him - he's a Capricorn, very serious, down-to-earth, but very intelligent and loyal."

"Earth signs go well together, don't they?" Lyla mused, but then got a worried look on her face. "But what about the operation."

"Oh, that," he laughed.  "With one rip of the certificate, you can eliminate that pseudo Sagittarian personality right now.  What do you say?"

"I say that's a great idea," Lyla said, tearing the certificate into tiny pieces and dropping them into the basket by her bed.   "Best ten bucks I ever wasted.  By the way, what's your son's name?"

"Edgar Allen," he responded, "Like the famous poet he was named for - his mother is a bit of a romantic - he's tough on the outside, but marshmallow inside.  I think you'll like him."

"If he's anything like you, I know I will," said Lyla, settling back into the pillow.  "Can I go home, soon?"

"First thing in the morning," Dr. Brewer promised with a smile, and left to finish his rounds.

Lyla felt better already, after all, a true Virgo never expected Life to be a bed of roses, but she planned to live up to her high standards from now on, without apology.  She would leave Midge a message to pick her up on her way to work tomorrow.  With Virgo precision, Lyla began planning the rest of her life as the future Mrs. Edgar Allen Brewer.

The End


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