Eternal Optimist: Fiction by Ellen G. Drebin


Even though my husband left me for his yoga instructor, I am still an eternal optimist.

He and I met in college and married soon afterward. He was a very persuasive liar. That’s why he was able to bamboozle the judge into believing that there was no money left to split. My ex was, after all, also our creative accountant.

However, the judge was moved enough by my pathetic, saucer-eyed stare to decide that I should get the large, old, rundown house we had always planned to rehab. I was also granted the older of our two cars. My ex got the Beemer.

So, after taking a few months to devour travel books and tour the country in my old car, I felt refreshed and invigorated. I now had an idea of how to move forward. I returned home and scoured the house to a respectable state of sanitation. Then I opened it as an Airbnb. In between waiting for guests to arrive, I also drove our old car all over town as an Uber driver. Once you get out of your own cocoon, you can’t help but marvel at what an interesting world we live in now. So, talk about being up to date on all the latest disruptive technologies, I described myself honestly on a dating site as a hip modern woman.

I have to say that, for the most part, being an Airbnb hostess was also eye-opening and fun. I met some terrific people… guests of every background who widened my understanding of the world. In fact, I was beginning to enjoy the freedom of my new life…the way I could eat whatever I wanted and have the whole king-size bed to myself and watch whatever I wanted on T.V. Mostly, I enjoyed devouring books I had newly discovered and others I had always wanted to read. I was adjusting to a new quiet life.

That was… until a very unusual guest arrived. He was attractive in a ‘devil may care’ way, in his cowboy boots and mustache. He had a laid back charm that captivated me but his slurring of a few words made me suspicious that he may have stocked up on marijuana at his last stop. He had a great sense of humor and no wedding ring and I was even beginning to think about inviting him down for a drink. But, before I had decided, smoke started drifting from his room. Soon it got thick enough that the fire department had to be called. They put the fire out and he fled with his belongings.

When the smoke eventually cleared and the restoration people were cleaning up his room, they noticed something that they brought to my attention. Underneath a painting that had started to curl at the edges was another painting. That one was actually quite mesmerizing. On a whim, I took it to that show on T.V. that appraises old ‘finds.’

Can you believe it? It turned out to be a masterpiece that was worth far, far more than any amount of money my ex had ever dreamed of having. And it was all mine. Now, while I curl up and sip a latte, I ponder where my next step will lead me. Life can be beautiful!

After a dozen years as a stockbroker, Ellen G. Drebin took an evening class in screenwriting at Northwestern University. Her first feature script was optioned and that’s when she became an optimist. The fact that it was never produced disappointed Ellen, but it didn’t faze her. She had discovered writing. Since then, Ellen has had a number of pieces of flash fiction published online and will have a longer piece in print soon in an anthology.


Curated by FORTH Fiction Editors.

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