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The Spot Writers – “The Day the Doctor Melted” by CaraMarie Christy

Welcome to the Spot Writers! The prompt for August: Where have you always wanted to vacation? Pick a country and set your story there – only in this story, the dream location sadly is a setting for disaster. Today’s post comes to us from CaraMarie Christy.

***

The Day the Doctor Melted

When Emilia Song was ten years old, she wanted more than anything to go to go to London. Most kids had grown out of their fairytales and children shows by ten years old, as they begin the slow switch over to animes and teen dramas. But Emilia still held on tight to her passionate love for the scify series—Doctor Who. She wanted to keep her plastic toy Sonic Screwdriver and bright, red fez close until the day she could see The Doctor for herself. All her classmates acted like she had six heads when she spoke about Doctor Who. Her parents didn’t want to travel anywhere to see The Doctor. They liked “moving” vacations, like hiking the Grand Canyon or Mount Esja in Iceland. Emilia sometimes cringed at the idea of vacations, because she associated the term with large amounts of exercise.

Her mother saved and saved, until one day, with a grin and a ticket purchase in her inbox, she came home to announce that she had surprise. They were going to Cardiff, Wales.

“We’re going to the museum in Cardiff.” She clarified when Emilia’s face sank. Wales was not London. She was not even sure where Wales was. “It’s got everything Doctor Who; props from the show, wax statues of all the Doctors, and it’s where they film the show! You even get to go on your own ‘space adventure’.”

Her own adventure was all Emilia needed to hear. She was packed and ready to go that night, even though their vacation wasn’t for weeks. Just incase The Doctor wanted to stop by and whisk her away to her adventure before then.

When they finally did reach Cardiff, the first thing she wanted to do was wait in the incredibly long line to go down the row of Doctors.

“Are you sure? You don’t want to go play with the TARDIS?” Her parents tried to drag her toward the area where kids were ecstatically pressing buttons on an oversized console. Emilia insisted on waiting to see her Doctor.

A slight stir began in the line in front of her. The buzz of tension was still there when Emilia stepped up to have her turn to look at The Doctors.

“The Doctor…” Only something was wrong. She could see the face of Five, one of the older Doctors who had been on the show in it’s early run, but something was wrong with him. He looked—heavier. Like a massive force was dragging him toward the ground. Emilia realized, as her mother pointed to a drop of liquid rolling down the side of The Doctor’s face, that it was because he was melting.

“Sorry miss, I need you to step aside.” One of the tour guides with a shiny white badge pushed past Emilia’s mother. “Somebody forgot to turn the AC up today. This whole place just… We need to get the artists here.” The man made a growling noise and charged forward with his keys.

“Oh, I’m sorry babe.” Her mother squeezed her shoulder. “Maybe we can get a refund and come back when they’re fixed.”

“It’s fine. I’m just thinking—of how to save him.” Emilia squeezed her sonic screwdriver. A real companion would never let her Doctor melt. She’d fight whatever alien had done this to him.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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Do You Have a Problem?

Hubby and I are camping in our RV in Pictou. Bored on Sunday, our last full  day, we take a drive, ending up in New Glasgow. We were going to spend time at the mall until I see signs for the flea market at the Aberdeen Centre. We have no idea where that is, and Google maps takes us to the Aberdeen Mall.

“I don’t think this is it,” I say, but just as we pull out of the parking lot, we see a whack of cars parked before a large orange-roofed building at the back of the lot, which looks promising.

Hubby parks and we approach the building. An older gentleman stands outside, belting a country tune.  We pay the two-dollar a head entry fee and begin our adventure.

“I have to go to the washroom,” I say.

Hubby says he might as well go, too, so we trek to the far end of the building. Alongside the back wall by the hall to the restrooms is a massive display of used books. “I’m heading there after,” I say.

“No, you’re not.”

I do my business, fuming that he has the nerve to tell me I can’t browse through books. Surely he was joking.

I wait in the hall for him, dying to delve into the books, and when I see him, I walk ahead and stop at the books. He keeps going. I don’t want to lose him in the crowds, so I run after him to tell him I’ll meet up with him in a few minutes.

“You don’t need more books.” He glares at me. “We’re getting rid of books not buying more.”

“I’m just going to look. Might be something I want.”

“How could you not find something you want in that mess.”

He’s pissed, but I don’t care. I’m not giving up this treasure trove.

The books are unreal. Piles and piles. Hard covers. Paperbacks. Thick books. Thin books. Large and small. Books of every genre for every person. (Well, maybe not Hubby; he has a thing against books!) Numerous tables placed every which way. It’s a maze navigating through the narrow spaces and not stepping on books or knocking stacks over. Though the books are loosely sorted as to genre, it would take days and days to look through them.

Immediately, I see Girl on the Train. My daughter loaned me her copy, which I haven’t read yet.  She has a horrible habit of buying books, and then reading and tossing. Well, if she’s going to throw away her book after I return it, I’ll keep it instead of buying another. I text her as quickly as I can, not wanting to waste precious time—and not wanting to keep Hubby waiting any longer than necessary. “You can keep it,” she texts back.

Good! I pick up Gone Girl. I’d seen that movie, as well as Girl on the Train, but I still want to read both.

I grab Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. And then I see Frank McCourt’s two books Teacher Man and ‘Tis at the bottom of a stack of at least thirty books. I juggle them around and yank out the two, thankful the remaining ten books on top don’t topple.

Okay, four books. Eight dollars. Not too bad. I want to keep going, but I figure I best find Hubby, who might have been upset enough to return to the truck.

For ten too-long, nerve-wracking minutes I search for him. And then I spy him: looking at a display of shoes. When I reach him, I nonchalantly ask, “Are they new?”

He produces a black leather wallet. “Look what I bought.”

I breathe a sigh of relief that he doesn’t appear to be too angry. “Nice. How much?”

“Five dollars. It’s real leather.”

“Good buy,” I say.

He looks at the bag I’m holding. “How many books did you buy?”

“Just four.”

He doesn’t reply. We saunter through the room. I keep my eyes open for more books although I’ll never see anything comparable to the previous stall. The odd vendors have a half dozen or so books, and out of the corner of my eyes, I glance at them but don’t see anything interesting.

I also keep an eye open for the bone china pattern I’d inherited from my paternal grandmother. When the middle glass shelf of our buffet collapsed several years ago, it crushed numerous sentimental and valuable items, including some of the good china. I had every intention of replacing the pieces that were destroyed even though people tell me I’m silly to do so. Children today don’t want their parents’ junk, especially not a set of good china.

Thinking of my grandmother’s china saddens me, as does walking by the stalls and seeing endless tables of “stuff” that obviously no one wants. I recognize similar items I owned numerous years ago, even things I still have.

And then, I’m brought back to the present. I see a book. One lone book on a table: The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Gotta be as thick as Dark Tower. I set down my bag and pick up the book. “How much is this?”

The vendor hums and haws. “Is it worth five dollars to you?”

“No, sorry,” and I take a step away.

“Okay, how much?”

“One dollar.”

He glares at me. “One dollar! How about two?”

“Okay, two.”

I scan the room. Where did Hubby go? If he sees me buy another book, he’ll kill me.

I rummage in my purse for loose coins. I withdraw four quarters and a dime. “Here’s one dollar.”  I glance around, still not seeing him. “Can you put the book in my bag?” I hold it up. “I’ll give you the other dollar in a sec.”

He hesitates while my eyes, going back and forth like a hypnotist’s pendulum, search the room.  “My husband will kill me if he sees me buying another one.”

“I can hold it here for you,” he offers.

“Just let me stick it in my bag until I find the rest of your money.”

Hubby’s probably eyeing me right now. Hiding, watching. Ready to pounce.

“Do you think you have a problem?” the vendor asks.

What! Does he mean like alcohol or drugs? I examine his face. He’s serious. Grim, almost. “No, I don’t. But he thinks I do.”

He slips the book into my bag. I’m still looking around the room while digging in my purse. Finally, I find a toonie. “Give my quarters back, and here you go.”

“Sure you don’t want me to hold it here?”

That won’t work, I want say. How would I return to pick it up without Hubby seeing? “No, I’m good. Thanks.”

I amble away, finally spotting Hubby a few aisles over, none the wiser—I hope. My bag is twice as heavy, though, the flimsy plastic stretching with the weight. If it rips, letting the books loose, he’ll know I lied.

We saunter by more and more stalls, not buying anything else but DVDs. After almost two hours of being at the flea market, Hubby has purchased fifteen. He never has enough movies, but at a dollar each, they’re a steal.  And I don’t mind. They keep him quiet and out of my hair, almost like bribing a toddler with candy. He can watch his movies while I read my books. Win, win!

“I got a better deal than you did,” he says, when we return to the truck.

Really? I got the better deal, but I’m not about to argue. My arm is truly about to break. The bag weighs a ton. Plus I carry ten of the fifteen DVDs.

When we reach our trailer, I place the DVDs by the TV and four books on the small stand in the living room. The fifth I add to the pile on the table.

Later that afternoon, he examines the books. “Stephen King? When are you going to read that? You have a dozen of his books at home you haven’t read.” And then he sees the poetry book. “What is that?”

I hold it up. “Isn’t it neat? Poetry. Want to read?” I flip to the back. “One thousand four hundred and fifty-four pages.”

“You’ll never read that,” he says.

After dinner, he asks, “What are you going to do now?”

“Read, I guess. You gonna watch movies?”

“Are you going to read your poetry book?”

“Yes, I am.”

He laughs.

But we do just that. He watches a movie, and I read a few poems. Then I grab my tablet.

Later that night, sitting by the campfire, after too much wine and still enthralled by my purchases, I randomly flip pages and read several poems to him, the first by Dorothy Parker, “One Perfect Rose.” He’s never heard of her and doesn’t much care for the poem.

The next one is “The Dead Butterfly” by Denise Levertov.  He hasn’t heard of her, and I don’t let on that I haven’t either.

I quickly find two short ones by William Blake. “Heard of him?” I ask. He says yes, but I’m not sure he tells the truth.

“Like any of them?”

“The first one was the best,” he says.

Ah, Dorothy Parker.

And then, perhaps to get on my good side since the evening draws to a close, he says, “I like your poems much better.”

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A Short Story Contest!

Creative Writing Institute’s Short Story Contest offers a fabulous opportunity for publication, in addition to cash prizes.

Prizes: $200, $100, $50. First place winner may choose a free, tutored writing course in lieu of $200 prize.

Top five winners and ten Judge’s Pick stories will be published in 2017 anthology along with best-selling guest writers and stories written by CWI staff. (Available December.)

Word limit: 2,000 words.

Themed, unpublished story must include this sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.” 

No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.

Contest closes midnight, EST, August 31, 2017. Only five dollars to enter.

Join the fun!

See full set of guidelines and book cover at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. Direct questions to head judge, Jianna Higgins, at jianna.higgins@gmail.com.

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TWO EYES OPEN!

TWO EYES OPEN anthology. Now available! A mix of 16 short stories by 16 authors. Not “horrific horror”…more like intrigue, mystery, thriller. Just a “good read”…
 
Available on Amazon, print and e-book:
Two Eyes Open FB

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The Spot Writers – “Hugger-Mugger Eyes” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. August’s prompt is: Where have you always wanted to vacation? Pick a country and set your story there—only in this story, the dream location, sadly, is a setting for disaster.

Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Her one-woman publishing company, MacKenzie Publishing, has just published its second anthology, TWO EYES OPEN, a collection of sixteen stories by sixteen authors, to read during the day . . . or even at night, as long as two eyes are open. Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1927529301/

***

Hugger-Mugger Eyes by Cathy MacKenzie

Behind the makeshift draperies of the master bedroom rises the sixteen-foot stone wall. The wall’s presence has never been intimidating before—once even served as a comforting barrier to the outside world—but now it’s a solid fixture to be feared. Though Wilma can be unreasonably scared at times, her fear and the danger are real. Every day, everywhere she goes, eyes confront her—the same ones she is certain spy into the bedroom through the sliding doors from high atop the wall. Those eyes watch and wait, biding their time until they strike again, for everyone says they’ll return. That’s what burglars do—once they’ve successfully burglarized a place, they’ll allow the occupants a week to replace stolen items and will ransack again. Wilma is certain of that fact, and no one can convince her otherwise. Foreigners—the perceived rich in Mexico, or anywhere—are easy prey.

A friend chastised her the previous day. “Don’t say ‘robbed.’ You weren’t robbed; you were burglarized. A burglar is a thief who enters a building with the intent to steal. A robber is a thief who steals by threatening violence. You weren’t there, so you were burglarized, not robbed.”

What are you? A walking dictionary? But when Wilma later checked a dictionary, she found her friend was correct, which didn’t help her mood.

She gulps and holds her breath, gripping the sheet tightly to her chin. What’s that? Every minuscule noise puts her on edge. The room is as dark as coal with the heavy blankets draped over the rods, which is better than the wispy, see-through drapery. She was happy with the drapery as it was—until the break-in happened. Though the sliding doors open to the outdoors, she and her husband enjoyed complete privacy on the small patio because of the high wall—or so she’d thought.

She hasn’t slept for four nights. She dozes for several minutes and then awakens in a cold sweat. Whether awake or asleep, she’s alert to every sound, familiar or not, for who’s to say what’s normal and what isn’t at a particular moment.

She nestles against her husband’s backside. “You awake?”

He’s not awake, not at three in the morning. Brave, unconcerned Hubby fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. And no wonder, considering the numerous times his wife disturbed him the last several evenings.

“You awake?” she repeats.

“I am now.”

She wraps her arms around his waist and fingers his chest hair. If fear grasped her too hard and she lost control, she’s certain she could rip those strands from their roots.

“There’s someone outside,” she says.

“No one’s there.”

“I hear something. Don’t you hear it?”

“Go back to sleep. There’s nothing there.”

Hubby remains calm and sympathetic to his wife’s plight. He wouldn’t dare become upset, not after what they’ve been through—what she’s been through, for she re-lives the horror over and over. The episode is usually far from his mind, especially when he sleeps. He is bothered if he dwells on it except macho men don’t reveal weakness.

“Sweetie, go back to sleep. There’s nothing there.”

He rolls over and holds her tight.

Oh, how she loves the feel of his warm, strong body against hers. Despite that, she doesn’t feel safe; no one can quash her uneasiness.

“I can’t sleep. I just can’t.”

He rubs her back. “It’s okay. Don’t cry.”

“I can’t help it.”

“Tomorrow’s another day. The sun will be shining. Things won’t seem so scary then.”

“I’m scared in the light, too. I just want to go home.”

“We can leave. Just say the word.” He kisses the side of her head.

“Yeah, but how do we change our flight? It’s non-refundable. Our credit cards are gone. Our money is gone.”

She snuggles farther into her husband, wishing she can disappear for a week until it’s time to fly home.

~~Based on actual events when the author and her husband wintered in Mexico one winter and robbers (or is it “burglars”???) entered their rental while they were out for an evening. When they returned, their computers, tablets, and cash were missing. Hubby later found his wallet (with credit cards intact but money gone), which had been tossed under the bed in the spare bedroom.  ~~

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Staycation” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: Where have you always wanted to vacation? Pick a country and set your story there—only in this story, the dream location sadly is a setting for disaster. This week’s story comes to us from Val Muller, author of The Girl Who Flew Away, a young adult tale that tackles adoption, addiction, and loyalty wrapped up in a dangerous wilderness journey.

Staycation

By Val Muller

Mortimer Harris loved rules. As a child, he was always in bed by nine, just like his mother insisted. There was something satisfying about lying in bed, pulling the covers up to his chin, and watching the minute hand sweep across the “12” at such a clean, precise right angle with the hour hand on the “9.” He watched the perfect alignment for a full minute, enjoying the peace of his room before turning out his light. He always shook his head at his brother, John, whose bedtime shenanigans kept their parents busy well past nine. Shook his head metaphorically, of course. He couldn’t have shaken it for real. His head was—literally—nicely resting on his pillow at 9 p.m. and would stay there until at least 6 a.m., the earliest he or his brother was allowed to wake. There would be no literal head-shaking until at least then.

He looked forward to each heavily-regulated day in grade school and high school and took pride in having perfect attendance, and no tardies, and no infractions of any sort. He loved the precision of it all: keep your locker clean and tidy, get to class in the six minutes allotted for traveling, be on the bus no later than seven minutes after the dismissal bell. The comfort of rules was like a warm blanket wrapped around his soul (but only between the hours of nine and six; even his soul had to be awake when protocol dictated it).

When he grew up, he was glad to find a home in a heavily-regulated HOA. The homeowner’s association he found was one with the most rules in all of Arbor County. Grass was to be cut to six inches in height or less (Mortimer preferred an even three). Rooftops and siding were to be power-washed in the spring. Halloween decorations could be put up starting on October 1; Christmas décor could go up the day after Thanksgiving. Decorations had to be put away three days after each holiday’s completion, though Christmas décor could be up until the sixth of January.

The list went on and on: rules regulating shrubbery and bushes, stone walkways, shutter color, front door embellishments, types of trees and flowers. Cars had to be parked a minimum of two feet from the edge of the driveway, but Mortimer preferred leaving at least four.

With his love for regulation, Mortimer preferred stay-cations to vacations. Stay-cations allowed him the pleasure of taking care of his house without having to worry about work getting in the way. (Once, when he was really busy, he let his grass grow to an average of 4.5 inches before he had a chance to cut it—there would be none of that this week!) Vacations were the total opposite. There were very few rules on vacations, and some of his coworkers even tried to argue that that was the point. But who would want to go somewhere with no rules, where people just acted on a whim and flew by the seat of their pants?

Not Mortimer, that was for sure.

At 6:59 on the first day of his stay-cation, the neighbor, Ed, was out mowing the lawn. Mortimer looked at his watch. 6:59 meant that Ed was mowing two minutes earlier than the county—and the HOA—allowed. Mortimer shook his head—literally this time—while sipping his coffee.

Ed looked over, sneered, and cut the engine. “Give me a break, Morty,” said Ed. “I’m taking the family to the beach this morning. We were supposed to leave already, only I forgot about the damn lawn. Got to mow it now, or by the time we get back from vacation, the HOA will have fined us. Damn HOA.”

Mortimer smiled inside. Ed often deserved fines. The last time his house had been power-washed was seventeen months ago. And Ed often took the trash can to the curb several hours before the 5 p.m. regulation allowed. Sometimes he even left the empty cans out for a day afterwards. He was a rulebreaker and a scofflaw.

Mortimer looked in the driveway. Ed’s SUV was parked almost at the edge of the driveway—a clear violation—and was packed with bags. His wife watched impatiently from the kitchen window, and his kids were running around in the open garage with inflatable rafts, their screams a violation of quiet hours by a whole minute and a half.

Too bad the HOA mandated that anyone mowing the lawn other than the homeowner him- or herself had to be properly licensed and contracted. Mortimer was neither, and so he didn’t bother offering to mow for his neighbor, even though he had nothing else to do that day.

“Well,” Mortimer said, “you did start a few minutes earlier than—”

But Ed simply shot him a look. “Mortimer, don’t start up again.” He started up the mower and continued his work. Mortimer watched him mow while he finished his coffee. At first, he enjoyed Ed’s straight, precise lines. But then he noticed that Ed left a long strip between the edge of the patio and the start of the lawn. HOA regulations were very strict about that: if a clean line couldn’t be made with the mower, the homeowner was required to use a weed eater or edger.

“Ed,” Mortimer called, walking to the fence.

This time, Ed left the mower engine idling and trudged to the fenceline.

“You missed a spot,” Mortimer said.

Ed flashed him a look, but he said nothing. He pulled the mower back to the missed spot and re-mowed, leaving a clean line. Mortimer sighed relief. Then Ed picked up his pace and flashed Mortimer a look. He mowed several clean passes before his lips curled into a devilish smile. On one of the passes, he sporadically twisted the mower a bit, leaving a line of two to three inches of long grass between the neat, even rows.

Surely an oversight. Mortimer wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. Surely Ed had simply slipped. He’d see the mistake and re-mow it on his way back. But then Ed did it again. And a third time.

Finally, he cut the mower engine and wheeled it into the garage. His kids cheered and hopped into the SUV. “Can we go? Can we go?” they shouted.

Mortimer tried to stop the family as they pulled away, but Ed would not roll down the window or even slow his car. Mortimer was stuck, alone, on his staycation, looking at the lawn directly next to his and the three horrid stripes of tall grass Ed had left.

Mortimer hurried to his highlighted and dog-eared copy of the HOA regulations. Surely there was some provision in there, something he would be allowed to do, some action he could take. But he was stuck. He was not allowed to hire someone to mow a neighbor’s lawn, and he himself could not mow, given that he was not licensed or contracted.

He logged onto his computer and composed a strongly-worded email to the board. Surely they’d fine Ed.

But what good would that do?

At nine p.m. that night, Mortimer tossed and turned in bed. He shook his head—quite literally, for it was not resting on the pillow—and then did the unthinkable. He actually got out of bed and glanced out at the neighbor’s lawn through the window. The nice, even lines flowed together like smooth waves in the ocean—until they broke with the choppy unevenness of the three spots Ed had neglected.

Ed shook his head again and returned to bed. It was going to be a long staycation.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco: www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

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The Spot Writers – “A Reason Not to Work Retail” by CaraMarie Christy

Welcome to the Spot Writer’s! This month’s prompt is The Sound of Silence: Write about staying quiet when you feel like shouting.

This week’s post comes from CaraMarie Christy, the young-un of Spot Writers. Visit her blog on Word Press at Calamariwriting and check out her book from 2006, Fairies Fly. Bonus points if you ask her about her book photography.

***

A Reason Not to Work Retail by CaraMarie Christy

“Hello, welcome to Dream Dresses!” I smile, but when my boss only gives me a half-approving nod I add, “How are you ladies doing today?”

“Good, how are you?” One of them mumbles.

“Great.” I’m not doing great. My feet hurt like hell. “Just so you know, all our rompers are on sale for eighteen dollars today, ladies.” And even at that price, I still wouldn’t buy them.

My boss gives me a big sunny smile. It’s like a gold star around here. But she loses it when she realizes she has to finish the schedule for next week, so she calls me up to guard the register while she’s bent over the employee binder.

A woman across the store watches me step behind the counter. There’s a floral romper in her hands, from our newest collection, just out of shipment this morning.

She dashes up to my counter and slams the romper onto the table, wrinkling every inch that I’d just ironed before we’d opened the store and gives me a hard stare. She keeps staring as she demands, “Five dollars.”

Five dollars? Did she want five dollars off? Because there was no way an outfit like this was going to be five dollars. Not with the way Dream Dresses operated. Not even if there was a giant tear in the butt. That’s what insurance is for. No discounts, no haggling of any sort, no returns without a receipt… Good old, corporate America.

“THIS IS FIVE DOLLARS, CORRECT?” the woman says, louder because I’m floundering. I want to tell her to get out of the store if she’s going to look at me like that. Like it’s my fault that the dress isn’t the price she wants. Like I’m trying to steal money from her.

My boss pulls her head up from the employee binder and snaps for me, “Eighteen dollars, ma’am. Show her the price tag. We don’t do discounts.”

This riles up the customer. She waves the romper in my face and then waves it at a rack. There’s a five-dollars-sign where she’s pointing, all right. Only it says, “five dollars all purses!”, not, “five dollars anything you want to be five dollars!”.

My hands are tied, I’d like to go in to the system and change it, but getting in trouble is not worth making. I repeat the price my boss said. My customer grinds her teeth and glares.

Five dollars.”

“Eighteen.” I repeat again, like the well-trained robot that I am.

Five.” “Eighteen.” “Five.” “Eighteen.” “Five.” “Eighteen.” “Ten.”

Jesus. I want to scream no. I want to scream at her that my job is not worth giving her a discount. That every item in the store has a code. I scan the code and it gives me what the item is worth, not the other way around.

The woman wrinkles the romper one last time, flicks her nose up into the air, and tosses it across the counter at me, “I don’t want it then.”

I want to fling it back at her as she walks away. Instead, I squeeze the register tight and smile for the next customer.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Kijiji People” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “The Sound of Silence. Write about staying quiet when you feel like shouting.” This month’s story (real instances with identifying items changed to protect the guilty!) comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her publishing company’s second anthology, TWO EYES OPEN, on sale August 1, 2017, on Amazon and other venues.

***

Kijji People

Kijiji People are as bad as Walmart People but in a much different way. If you’ve seen the comical, yet freaky, photographs online of Walmart customers, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, be happy!

The comparison is a rough one—a stretch! Who cares what Kijiji People look like? Ninety-nine percent of the time, one doesn’t see them, unlike the in-your-face Walmart People. And, really, we don’t care what Kijiji People look like—we simply want their money. Now that I ponder, I suppose that’s how the CEOs of Walmart feel, too; just give us your hard-earned dollars.

Me? I’d love it if KP lived up to their promises. I suppose “promise” is a strong word as is my comparison to WP. Not like KP carve words in stone when they reply to an item. But why do they send a million emails asking “Is this item still available” and after my responses of “Yes, it is. Would you like to see it? I’m available at your convenience,” not another word! I’ve learned my lesson, though; now my response is a simple “Yes!” and the email is deleted so my inbox isn’t clogged with junk.

Funny, as tech savvy as I proclaim to be, yesterday I discovered I don’t even have to type any words. Three handy dandy options are listed at the bottom of Kijiji’s email: “Yes, I do,” “No, sorry,” “Yes, it’s still available.” Click the pertinent one, hit send, and you’re done!

Our garage is full of items I’m trying to sell. I insert “price is firm” at the end of my ads. I’m not interested in bargaining; my prices are more than fair. I’m not listing something for $60 in the hopes I get $50; that’s not MY nature, but that seems to be the nature of Kijiji People. They want bargains—or, at least, to think they’ve worn you down so you’ll give them one.

I’ve had people try to get me down to $35 on a $100 item. I’ve had people bicker over $5 and end up walking away without purchasing. Once in a while I do lower my price; I guess it depends how desperate I am at that moment.

One day, a woman came to purchase a vest. It turned out to be too small for her, but I upsized her to a jacket. She only had $20 on her, the price of the vest (doesn’t anyone carry money any longer?), so she gave me the twenty as a deposit until the following day. The next day, a couple of hours before she was to return, I received an email: “Would you take $50?” Umm—no!

One individual, who came to view the snow blower, said “I’ll take it. I’m not even going to argue with the price.” “No, you’re not,” I replied, “because I’m not going any lower.”

Another woman wanted to purchase my Keurig carousel, listed for $10. The plan was that we would meet in her neighbourhood whenever I was in her area. A few days later, we agreed to meet in a supermarket parking lot. “I’ll park at the far end of the parking lot, facing the highway. I have a red Porsche, with a black soft-top. Will be there at 1:00.” Should be simple, right? Well, I waited . . . and waited. I finally checked my phone to find her message: “I’m over by the donation bins, in the corner of the parking lot. I have a blue Ford.” I looked to my right: there she was. WTF! She had to pass by me to park where she did, and not a car was parked in the area when I arrived. Piss on her; if she can’t come to me, I’m not going to her. And we sat like that for fifteen minutes. I ignored her texts: “I’m here, where are you?” “I have to leave in ten minutes.” “Hope you get here soon.” “Where are you?” I wasn’t budging. She had said she had an appointment at 1:15. At 1:10, I sped off. I flicked my finger at her when I passed.

Some KP are plain sneaky! I had, what I thought was, a rush on tennis racquets. I had a price of $25 each or $45 for the pair. I told Hubby I had an offer of $40 for the two. “They’re worth more than $50 each,” he said. I thought $25 was fair, however, but wished I hadn’t reduced the two to $45. So I changed the ad to one at $25 and ignored the guy with the $40 request. A couple of days later, I had two more emails about the racquets. “Yes, I still have them,” I replied to both emails. “$25 each.” One reply: “A couple of days ago they were two for $45!!!!!!!.” (Yes, a whack of exclamation points!) He scared me, too, cos he sounded mad. Luckily, I hadn’t yet given him my address.

Another guy wanted grease guns. “Ten dollars each,” I said. “I have three.” He wanted all three at the $20 price I had listed. Ooops—typo! I replied that they were three for $25, not three for $20. I never heard back from him even though he’d been eager to immediately pick them up. He has our address, so I’m freaking! And over $5?

Who knows what these people can do. Piss them off, and they can reply to one of your other ads, pretend they’re coming for that item, and instead, come to plunder or ravage! Or perhaps they reply to other items and become the no-shows to exact revenge, to get you excited and then deflate you all in one breath.

A guy emailed me about the table saw, which was priced at $100. “I just broke my saw, and I’m desperate to finish my project. Can I buy yours at $50?” Umm—no!

I’ve spent precious hours, upon request, taking specific photos of items, emailing, and posting them only to receive replies, “Nope, not what I’m looking for.”

One guy emailed me about six times in ten minutes regarding Hubby’s bicycle. “Could you meet me at Tim Horton’s on Dickson Street at 6:30 tonight? I just moved here and don’t have a car.” I felt sorry for him, so I made arrangements with Hubby, emailed the guy back, and off we went at 6:00. And we waited . . . and waited. A no-show! Unbelievable! There went our Friday evening.

One bargain-hunter KP wanted my outside oil lamps, listed at $50 (firm!). She offered me $25. I replied back at $50. Thirty-five dollars, she wrote back. “Nope, $50,” I said. “Forty dollars is my limit,” she replied. I let her stew for a couple of days. I really did want to get rid of the unsightly things. I sent her another email: “Okay, $40.” A relative picked them up a few days later, and the woman sent me a nice email later that night: “I just love the oil lamps. I guess one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

A woman wanted the $25 filing cabinet. She hadn’t looked at it in person but sent an email: “Would you take $15? I can come today at 3.” “Sorry,” I replied. “It’s $25 firm.” No further response.

Previously another woman had come to buy the filing cabinet after asking for the dimensions. After arriving and realizing it was legal-sized and not letter, she left in a huff. “That’s why I sent you the dimensions,” I yelled at her departing vehicle.

Despite the bad, one breath of fresh air blew in. A young guy arrived at my house to purchase my old bicycle, sight unseen, on behalf of his sister. It was $50, and he handed me three twenties. “If you don’t have change, don’t worry about it,” he said.

The Kijiji People who never show up at the agreed-upon times—or any time—are the worst! You wait and wait. Has common courtesy blown out the window? (The bicycle guy was, obviously, worse than these other no-shows.)

I check my ads. I scan my emails. (Ugh! A message from “Jim” asking if the tennis racquet is still available. What to do? Is it really a “Jim” or one of the previous guys back in action?)

I wander to the door, peek out the windows, pace the house. I want to scream. SCREAM! These Kijiji People drive me crazy!

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Ombrophobous” by Dorothy Colinco

Welcome to the Spot Writers, bringing you your weekly dose of flash fiction. The prompt for this month: Check out these 10 fancy nature words. Choose one of the words, and make it either the title or theme of your post, and build your story around that.

This week’s story comes to us from Dorothy Colinco. She chose the word ombrophobous, meaning rain-shunning. Dorothy likes to say she has self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, which probably influenced this writing. A lot.

***

Ombrophobous

 

The rain brings with it

thunder that begins in the sky and resounds in one’s soul,

unkind clouds that jealously block the sun’s bright reach,

an apathetic hue of gray not seen elsewhere,

a stirred cocktail of pollen, which forces its way into lungs

and makes eyes weep without feeling or reason,

burning chemicals,

evidence of humanity’s callousness and cruelty.

 

The rain takes away

the graceful spine of the delicate foxglove,

forcing it into a painful arch,

denouncing its beauty and form,

the brightly-colored chalk ground into the rough sidewalk

declaring a child’s name,

their early attempts to announce their identity

and presence in the world,

the laughter shared on a baseball diamond,

the sound of a leather connecting with wood and metal.

 

It is no wonder, then, that I do not stand in awe with my face towards the heavens with the cursed drops fall.

And those who welcome rain do so only to hide their tears,

now indistinguishable from precipitation,

though both are born of sorrow.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “Reaching through the Years” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers, bringing you your weekly dose of flash fiction. The prompt for this month: Check out these 10 fancy nature words. Choose one of the words, and make it either the title or theme of your post, and build your story around that.

Today’s story comes from Val Muller, author of The Girl Who Flew Away. The word she chose is “psithurism,” which is the sound of rustling leaves, a sound that contends only with the ocean in terms of her favorite things to hear. The tale is inspired by a moment of inspiration that came while she was comforting her toddler, who was ailing from a double ear infection.

Reaching through the Years

By Val Muller

It was cool for June. I stretched out on the futon, the toddler lying on my arm. My fingers already started tingling, the weight of her growing body cutting off my circulation. The wind blew through the open window, but I wasn’t cold. Her feverish body warmed me.

Sure, I felt sorry for her. A double ear infection and four erupting molars. But still, every time she moved, she wailed. The breath from her mouth felt hot against my neck, and her screams pierced my eardrum. Why wouldn’t she just sleep?

The world was covered in a gossamer film, the haze of fatigue. When was the last time I slept through the night? I mean, really truly slept? When was the last time a piercing wail didn’t startle me through the baby monitor, or the giggling coo of a baby wide awake at 4:30 in the morning, ready to play?

A fussy foot kicked me in the liver. Or maybe the spleen. Whichever one hurt more.

Why wouldn’t she just sleep?

Fatigue hung on me like a weight. My limbs felt heavy and old. I looked down at my legs stretching a mile before me, bare toes pointing toward the open window at the edge of the futon. The sun had set, but its glow still touched the sky. Weren’t little kids supposed to go to bed early? This one never slept.

The twilight glow shone through the window, accenting the shape of my knees, the muscles of my thighs. So big compared to her tiny body. Those legs would take so much energy to move, and just thinking about getting up from the futon seemed an impossible task under the weight of exhaustion.

My arms felt like bricks now, and I couldn’t imagine how to get through the next few minutes, or weeks, or months. My muscles ached from carrying her around all day: the ear infections had left her reverting to her baby days of needing her skin to be next to mine, of needing her heartbeat to hear my own.

When was the last time I was alone in a room?

My spirit shrunk under oppressive thoughts: the weight of unwashed dishes, of trash needing to be taken to the curb. When was the last time I showered?

The sun sank lower, and the twilight darkened a bit. A breeze from the window kissed the drapes, tickling my toes. A whooshing sound rode the wind, almost like the lapping of ocean waves against the shore. I had to check out the window to make sure the mountains had not been replaced with a sea.

Delirium?

No, psithurism. Wind rustling through the trees. It had always been one of my favorite sounds. There was something magical about the summertime, about how lush and lively the leaves were, and how they seemed to be calling to each other each time the wind blew.

The cool breeze felt warmer, and I looked down again at my legs. They looked smoother, younger, more powerful. Why had I thought a moment ago that they felt so old and tired? I felt like an athlete again, like I did in high school. I wanted to spring up and run a mile.

I turned to the child next to me. Her eyes were nearly closed now, and her breathing was becoming steadier. The wails each time she moved were replaced by soft whimpers.

Her body against me felt like a feather, and I remembered the weightlessness of youth, the weightlessness of possibility and protection, of knowing my parents were right there to save me from anything and everything. I cradled her a bit tighter as she fell to a steady sleep.

In an instant, I had a vision of myself—a much older self, less fit, and lonelier. A self whose limbs actually ached and whose aged fatigue was actually oppressive. And for an instant, I was decades older and looking into the room, borrowing the eyes of my younger self, looking at myself on the futon with my toddler daughter. For an instant I admired my youth and treasured the way she needed me for everything.

What was happening? I could feel myself reaching through the decades, grasping this moment. Savoring it. A supernova of possibilities exploded through my brain lasting only a second. How could I be myself in the present and yet feel myself in the future all at once? Was this moment a wish being granted? Maybe I was an old woman, eighty or ninety perhaps, or maybe I had just blown out the candle for my 100th birthday party, making the silent wish to relive a moment of young motherhood once more, to feel the soft touch of baby skin clinging to my arm for comfort. Maybe this moment was one of the most peaceful in my life and would stand in my memory for years to come. Maybe it was my dying memory, and the universe was allowing me one last chance to peek through my younger eyes before passing into the ether.

The breeze kicked at the curtains again, and the odd sensation was gone. I looked over at my daughter. The pain seemed gone from her face, and her chest rose and fell evenly now. The fatigue was gone from me, but so too was the insane adrenaline. I no longer wanted to run a mile. I no longer wanted to escape to my bed.

Psithurism.

I held my daughter tight and fell into a gentle sleep as the trees whispered their secrets in the twilight air.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

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