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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

My brother, Colin, returned to the house empty-handed.

“What have you been doing? Where’s the firewood?”

“There’s something in the woodpile.”

“What do you mean? What’s in the woodpile?”

“Well, if I knew, I would have said there’s a snake in the woodpile, or there’s a chipmunk in the woodpile, or there’s a vicious, snarling wolverine in the woodpile, or there’s…”

“Okay, stop!” He’s so annoying. Trying to shut him up is like plugging a bathtub with a straw.

“I only see I should have been more precise and said, there is an unidentified creature of indefinable size with a questionable temperament in the woodpile.”

“For the love of God, will you please shut up. We need wood. Do you want me to go back out with you?”

Clasping his hands together in solemn, mock prayer, he said, “Yes, plleeeaaaasssse. I need my little sister to protect me and eradicate this vile interloper.” He finally grew tired of his performance. “Seriously, I need you to come out and hold a light while I dig around in there.”

“Well, that sounds like a dumb idea. What if you get bitten? You’ve exceeded your quota of trips to the ER for the year.” This garnered me a look of incredulity I may have deserved.

“When I said dig around, I didn’t mean with my bare hands.”

I grabbed my coat and the biggest flashlight we had before following him out to the garage. There I found him eyeing garden tools. “Maybe we should wait until Mom and Dad get home?”

Scrutinizing our collection and ignoring me, he asked, “What implement do you recommend?”

I thought a few seconds. “Maybe a crowbar?”

“Excellent idea, Chloe…strong ― perfect for flipping logs and beating things.”

“I would prefer not to see any bloodletting if you can restrain yourself.”

With a significant amount of trepidation, I followed him to the woodpile in our backyard. “What exactly happened when you were out here before?”

“Howling. Shrieking. Rustling noises. Loud!” he added for emphasis.

I whispered, “I don’t hear anything now. Maybe whatever it was is gone.” I didn’t want to see anything that was capable of howling.

Colin began using the crowbar to pull logs from the top of the front section. The wood was double stacked and the entire pile rested alongside our small barn. It was early in the season and we had about two cords. On a cold or rainy night, it was a perfect spot for small critters to take refuge. We’d had our share of mice, small snakes and occasional opossums on a regular basis. None of these visitors had the vocal chords to howl or shriek. Colin had rolled about seven or eight logs on the ground and I was focusing the light on the area he was working. I had begun to relax and stop worrying.

“Waaw. Hoo hoo to hoo oo, hoo hoo to wha-aaa waww ooooow!” This sudden, hideous screeching and hellish sounds of movement sent us scrambling backward in unison in a mad attempt to escape whatever was possibly about to throw itself upon us. We both fell over the logs on the ground as they rolled beneath our feet, sending us helter-skelter and finally landing, bruised, in a heap among them. The flashlight fell from my hand. Unfortunately Colin had a terrified iron grip on the crowbar and, in the melee, he had managed to conk me on the head with it.

He was yelling. “Grab the light. Get it up there.”

When I did, we caught our breath. Above us were two enormous, round eyes reflecting a fiery, black-as-the-Devil, shine. The thing had risen from between the stacks like Vesuvius exploding over Pompeii.

Colin said, “Don’t move.”

“I’m not even breathing.”

While it swayed slowly from side to side and appraised us, we sat there, motionless, attempting to look nonthreatening. I was aware of the sound of the talons scraping over the logs. I wondered how long they were.

Five minutes passed as we watched him rotate his head like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. The only other noticeable movement was me shivering. “I’m cold,” I whispered.

“Yeah, we seem to be at an impasse here. On the bright side, I think he’s scouting around the yard for smaller prey.”

“What kind is it?”

“A barred owl.”

“He’s really big and doesn’t seem interested in leaving. You still have the crowbar. You could whack him.”

“Now you’re okay with bloodshed? I’m going to report you to the Audubon Society.” A minute later, he said, “I think we need to make a break for it.”

“I’m not excited about your idea. But, I don’t have a better one.”

“On the count of three we get up and run for the back porch. Deal?”

I uttered a squeaky little ‘yes’ that brought the bird’s focus sharply back to us.

Colin said, “Could you try a little harder not to sound like a mouse?”

“Sorry.”

“Now we’re going to have to wait until he looks the other way again.”

When he renewed his demonic head twists, Colin whispered, “One… two… three.” Then we discovered our legs had stiffened into inflexible appendages. In those seconds we couldn’t spare, I watched, stunned, as the wings unfurled in a shocking display of dreadful, predatory intent. It was a four foot killing machine, eight feet from my face.

Colin pulled me up as it lifted into flight. We limped, stumbled and ran hard. There was no need to look back. I could hear the muffled wing sounds, then felt displaced air hitting me. I could feel it coming. My brother yelled, “Dive,” and pulled me to the ground, as it swooped two feet over our heads. We lay there, breathing fast, assuring ourselves it wasn’t going to return.

Patting my back, Colin smiled. “This might be a good time to get that wood.”

“Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea. Go do it. My work here is done.”

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I have two short stories on Amazon.  They are quite different from one another, but I, of course, like them both.  I am including the direct links to these…each is $.99.  If you read one or both, an honest review would be greatly appreciated by me and other potential readers.  You don’t have to post reviews under your real name, in case you are wondering.  I won’t be able to hunt you down and accost you if you write anything negative.  I really do want honest opinions.  Strangers in the Woods is also on Smashwords in case you don’t have the free Kindle app, and I hope to add The Man on the Corner to Smashwords soon.  Just FYI, on every Amazon page, there is a link for the free Kindle app which you can put on any electronic device you have.

When you open the links, you can read a preview of each story for free.

Strangers in the Woods:   http://www.amazon.com/Strangers-Woods-Suddenly-youre-alone-ebook/dp/B00RPXWM74/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1424149900&sr=8-2&keywords=strangers+in+the+woods

The Man on the Cornerhttp://www.amazon.com/Man-Corner-Does-anyone-remember-ebook/dp/B00TOULRCM/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1424320938&sr=8-4&keywords=the+man+on+the+corner

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Hello everyone,

Starting the New Year with a short story posting on Amazon…my first foray into e-publishing.  Thought I would begin with something small before tackling my book, which was wise, as I had trouble with the formatting and had a friend help me fix the spacing.  Upon his advice, I bought a small Kindle “how to” book explaining the ins and outs of formatting, etc.  They tell you to simply download a Word document, which, while looking perfect in Word, becomes something strange and unrecognizable when you preview in electronic format.

The story is $.99 on Amazon and will also soon be (I hope) on Smashwords.  If you do buy and read it and have time to post a review, that would be wonderful.  Whether you hate it or love it, or are as indifferent as a wet noodle, honest reviews will help me.

http://www.amazon.com/Strangers-Woods-Suddenly-youre-alone-ebook/dp/B00RPXWM74/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1420319057&sr=1-1

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“Wanna see my boobs?”

“Not right now.” I put down her bag and glance up to see Clarice’s face stricken with disappointment. “Later,” I promise her. “You should lie down and rest. I’ll make us some lunch.”

As she meanders toward the sofa, I escape to the kitchen and begin making as much noise as possible in case she is inclined to continue conversing with me. I do hear her call my name twice, “Maggie?  Maggie?” She stops, convinced I haven’t heard.

I think Peace at last. Thank God Almighty. I’m happy for her, but I’ve heard enough about boobs to last a lifetime. Before Clarice’s obsession with her unequally sized orbs, I thought of breasts as simply a body part, not an accessory which had to be worn and displayed in any particular fashion. Of course, I’ve been known to wear mismatched earrings just for fun.

It was all Jerk Jack’s fault. That is officially his name forevermore – Jerk Jack. Clarice dated him briefly, albeit long enough to provide him with an opportunity to laugh at her physical uniqueness. He coined the phrase “Clarice’s out of whack rack”, which amused no one but him. Clarice started saving for surgery the week she dumped him. She spent months researching her options and locating the most sought after plastic surgeon. She was fixated with her breast asymmetry, the surgical options…enlarge the left or reduce the right…and daydreamed non-stop how perfect she would look after.

We had been friends for years, and I wanted to be supportive, but as her roommate, I was a captive audience to every ‘boob’ thought that popped into her head. After six months, I wanted to sell a vital organ to provide the remaining monetary shortfall and whisk her off to the hospital – stat. Thank God, her mother finally came through and slipped her $3,000 in an envelope over lunch with us one day a month ago. When Clarice hurried to the restaurant’s ladies room…I’m sure to look at her bosom…this dear, sweet woman whispered to me, “Maggie, I’ll be so happy when this is over.”

And so now it was. I had picked her up at the hospital this morning, and she was unexpectedly quiet on the drive home. Drugs ― gotta love em.

I peek into our living room and think she is sleeping. Lunch is ready and as I’m wondering what to do, she has sensed my presence and speaks. “I’m awake, and I’m hungry.” I feel guilty for thinking ― an entire sentence without the b-word in it. This is progress. She shuffles after me to the table. “Grilled cheese and tomato soup, my favorite. Thanks, Maggie.” I know it’s her favorite. She likes to dunk her sandwich. We concentrate on eating. “Is it true we’re getting snow tomorrow?” she asks.

This question takes me by surprise. “I did hear that. We’ll have to check the weather channel.”

“Snow would be great”, she says, before reconsidering. “I’m sorry. I know you have to work in the morning.”

“No, I actually don’t. I took off to take care of you.”

“But, you took off today.”

“Are you anxious to get rid of me?”

“Never, and I appreciate it. If it snows, we can drink hot chocolate and read all day.”

“We can do that if it doesn’t snow.”

“So true,” she laughs.

We continue making small talk. I brew tea while Clarice tells me funny stories she had forgotten about during the many months her brain was intoxicated with all things akin to breasts. She is becoming the real Clarice again. I suspect she is making a conscious effort for my benefit. As I drain my teacup, I order her, “Get up. Let’s go have a look at your girls.”

She shakes her head at me, “No, you don’t have to. I know you’re sick of all this.” She points to her chest with both index fingers and shrugs. “I don’t blame you. I’ve been ridiculous.”

“Well, maybe you have, but it would be crazy not to show me those babies right this minute.”

“Are you sure?”

“Do I have to beg?”

I follow her down the hall to the bathroom. Turning around, Clarice says, “Have you ever noticed how much my ears stick out?”

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On a serious note, after I wrote this, I became curious and researched breast symmetry .  Turns out it is rare – hardly any of us has it. We are almost all unequal in this department. However, if the difference in size between left and right is significant, it does indicate a higher risk of developing breast cancer. If there is more than one cup size difference between the two, your risk of breast cancer is reported to be 50% higher. Not any definitive assurance of this happening, but something women should be aware of. Surgically correcting the situation for cosmetic reasons does not alter the risk.

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Tree Love

I watched the two lone trees across the road caught up in a game of touch me and I’ll touch you.  The wind was gusting and a brewing storm was tossing the branches back and forth into frantic embraces that could not be sustained.  In fine weather, they stood solitary and forlorn.  Now they reached out for each other like lovers grasping to secure a long-sought and permanent coupling.  Leaves intertwined and held each other, briefly but fiercely.  It was a fine dance resembling a torrid tango where both partners knew they would eventually be left exhausted and changed.    As I continued to watch, I envied their arboreal passion and longed for arms to reach out for me.

 

 

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“Did you see the picture of Fanny’s son in the paper?”

I nodded, then added, “He has a very small head.”  It looked freakishly small as I recalled.

Mom glanced at me and frowned at this.  “I just don’t see Fanny in him at all.”

“No, I don’t either,” I agreed.  “His wife’s head is twice the size of his.”

“Why do you keep talking about his head?  I didn’t see anything wrong with his head.”

I thought, how could you not notice this?  It was their wedding photograph, a formal portrait in a garden setting.  Our local paper ran these weekly.  In an effort to fill up a page, they were always sizeable replications.  I remembered wondering how funny it would be to see them kissing.

Mom scooped up the celery she had been dicing for potato salad.  “I’ll have to say something nice about it to Fanny when I see her.  I’ll have to think of something.”

“Tell her his new wife is lovely.”  She certainly wasn’t, but she wasn’t so bad that Fanny could accuse Mom of lying.

“Yes, she’ll like that.  Gracious, he doesn’t look anything like Fanny.  I still can’t get over that.”  She opened the mayonnaise and said, “You know, no one knows who his father is.  Fanny would never say…not even after all these years.  Maybe his father had a tiny head.”

These are the kinds of conversations I have with my mother.

***********************************

Update on Pick A Story:  Soon to be determined.  None of the options have more than one vote each as of today.

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Pick a Story

Okay, it’s 3:30 am, and I am plagued by insomnia again.   This often means I have a sad, tortured tale just wanting to spill out of my head and onto the page, and this is the case.  But – I am not going to burden you with it just now.  I think I have overdone that genre of late.  My earlier followers are probably wondering what in the world has become of the funny Kathy…the one who wrote interesting and humorous stories.  I have decided to give you an entirely different offering tonight…something I have never done before, and depending on the response, may never do again.  This could be your only chance.  Your one and only.

You pick the story.  I will write it.  I am giving you five options to choose from, and I have little or no idea just now what I will write for two of them.  Two choices will be fiction, three are derived from my real, frenetic life.  I am not going to tell you which is which.  If you wish to make a selection, simply post a comment letting me know your preference.  If I have no consensus after a few days, I will choose.  Do you really want that???

1.  “I want a divorce.  I’m in love with the cook.”

2.  “I told you not to let that dog out.”

3.  “It was an invasion.”

4.  “You’re not getting paid enough to do this.”

5.  “Let’s do the Billy Goat Trail.”

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