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The Spot Writers – “Ticky Tacky” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt was created using a random generator. Use these five words in a writing: suntan, paint, waterfall, inflation, exposure.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. In December, 2019, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

“Ticky Tacky” by Phil Yeats

When I was a young man in university, I imagined I’d make enough money to guard against inflation eroding my nest egg and killing my dream.

And my dream? To sail to a tropical island where I’d live in blissful isolation. Not a coral atoll where the maximum elevation was four feet, and I’d constantly fear exposure to global warming and sea level rise. No, I dreamed about an isolated spot on the flank of an extinct volcano where I could paint a waterfall and maintain an all-over suntan.

It didn’t work out that way. When I awoke from my university dream, I found myself in suburbia with a house, a wife, and two kids. If you want the gory details, you can look up the words to Malvina Reynolds song Little Boxes. It describes my life—the one I lived, not the one I dreamed.

 

‘Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes made of ticky tacky

Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes all the same’

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

 

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Spot Writers – “Childhood” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt was created using a random generator. Use these five words in a writing: suntan, paint, waterfall, inflation, exposure. This week’s prompt comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series.

Like so many, Val is at home in social isolation with her family during these strange times, which serves as inspiration to this prompt. She wishes the best for readers of this post, and for everyone around the globe.

***

“Childhood” by Val Muller

She was on the way to work when she got the call. It was a strange conversation, sounding at first almost like a telemarketer, but the voice on the other end sounded determined, somber. Not the careless, detached way telemarketers often sound.

After she hung up, the words echoed in her mind. Possible COVID-19 exposure. Self-quarantinde for 14 days. The symptoms, shortness of breath, trouble breathing… those were happening now, already. She took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. Those were symptoms of stress, too, and what was more stressful than that phone call?

She was instructed to pick up her children from school, and the man on the phone—she’d already forgotten his name. It had letters in it, she remembered that. Maybe an R? Or a B, perhaps?—was going to call her husband as well to make him aware of the situation.

Her phone buzzed again, and she pulled to the side of the road to get a handle on things. It was a text from the boss. The whole office had been exposed. They had known, hadn’t they? When Mary came in wheezing and coughing… she said it was just allergies. And they believed her, though their nerves had been set on edge.

And what were they supposed to do? Start a witch hunt against anyone who sniffled?

As instructed, she called the school. She was to have a teacher escort her children out of the building and to her car. She was not to enter the school building, or any building, until she had spent 14 days symptom-free.

The kids were thrilled. She shook her head. Boys. They asked if they could order fast food using their app. She considered this. The app allowed payment online. The food would be brought to their car. She nodded in a daze and let them order.

After lunch, they asked if they could spend the day in the basement playing video games. In her shock, she allowed it. On the phone, the school secretary disclosed rumors that schools were likely shutting down soon, anyway, so the boys wouldn’t be missing much in-class instruction. She didn’t tell the boys that, of course. Let them have this day to be carefree. They were old enough now—grades 4 and 5. This event would likely mark the end of their childhood.

And how would she spend today, the last day her boys were children? At first she panicked at the computer, ordering a delivery of groceries while fielding texts from her husband about his preparations for coming home to telework for the next two weeks. Then she cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer. They would be in this for the long haul, it seemed.

Then she headed for the entryway closet. Cleaning always calmed her. It gave her something to do, a goal. She started with the winter clothes. They were likely done for the season. Spring had come early, it seemed. She packed all the hats and gloves and scarves into the plastic sleeve and tucked the sleeve on the top shelf. Something was wedged back there, preventing the sleeve from fitting.

It was the box of paints. She’d bought it for the boys when they were younger, hoping they’d pick up her love for art. But they took instead to video games and sports. She took the paints and closed the closet door.

Outside, springtime acted like the world was not in a global panic. The birds chirped as if they had never heard of a virus. The sun warmed her skin, and she felt the suntan already bronzing her bleached winter skin as she set up the small wooden easel on the picnic table.

The neighbor’s line of pear trees were in bloom, fuzzy white against a clouded blue sky. In their rock garden, they had turned on the little waterfall that pumped a stream of water so that it trickled over a pile of rocks.

This was zen. So she picked up her paintbrush to capture the moment. Tomorrow would bring what it would, but for now her boys were living a peaceful childhood moment.

And as she dabbed at the paper with bits of white on blue, so was she.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

 

 

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My Heart Is Broken – It Needs Fixing

My book of poems (the first three years) memorializing my son Matthew, who died of a rare heart cancer on March 11, 2017, is now published.

 

Matt book of poems full cover for wp

The book is available on

Amazon

or from me.

I am donating all profits from the sale of this book to the Kenzieville Cemetery, Kenzieville, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, where Matthew is buried. Matthew’s GGGG grandparents, who emigrated from Scotland in 1803, are buried there, as well as several branches of the MacKenzie line. The cemetery is run by volunteers and is always in need of funds.

 

 

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The Spot Writers – ‘Kiss this Right’ by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

 

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

“Kiss this Right” by Chiara De Giorgi

 

There’s a memory I chase,

One which times threatens to erase.

 

We were kissing in the moonlight,

It was on midsummer’s night

And the wind blew soft and warm

Who could foresee the storm?

Quick the mist surrounded us,

Sudden chill clung like a mask

To our bodies and our minds.

Still today the terror finds

Its way to my poor, weak heart.

Did I think it would not hurt?

Then the memory gets shattered,

I don’t know what I remember.

It’s like an old-fashioned mosaic,

Like a page with splattered ink

And to this day I cannot say

Why the kiss did break away.

Have I dreamt or have I lived?

Was it real, or have I wished?

 

Once a year’s midsummer’s night

Maybe I can kiss this right.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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The Spot Writers – “Locked Room Mystery” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. In December, 2019, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

“Locked Room Mystery” by Phil Yeats

The dishevelled old detective stood on the suburban patio. Moonlight cast soft shadows, and wisps of mist swirled up from the distant shore.

He pointed at three rectangles of mosaic tiles set in the concrete. “Could they mask a removable panel?”

His new partner, a bright young officer who’d recently graduated from detective school, crouched beside the glass shards that created a blue and green seascape with dolphins and mermaids. She focused her torch on the panels’ edges, then pulled out a penknife and probed a seam.

“Possible. What’s the relevance to a murder victim discovered inside the house?”

“No idea, but it always pays to collect the evidence before reaching your conclusions.”

Later, after the crime scene technicians raised the panel, she stared into an underground passage. “What made you suspicious?”

“Memory of a mystery I once read. An incongruous observation generated the solution.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

 

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The Spot Writers – “Mistaken” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon! As well as MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

***

“Mistaken”

Mist masks
Memorable memories
But moonlight
Magnifies
The mosaic—
Moody,
Muddy.
Mortuarial.

***

 The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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The Spot Writers – “Echo” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

This week’s contribution comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Find out more at www.corgicapers.com.

***

The poem was inspired by staring at the numbers of the date of this post: 2-20-2020 and the imagery of its repetition.

“Echo” by Val Muller

The moonlight wakes me,

It cuts the night,

Corporeal.

 

What does it want?

What does it know?

How many eons of time in its glow?

 

I sit up in bed,

Bare feet on carpet,

Toes splayed on the mosaic

Of moonlight through trees.

The room is cold,

But I do not shiver.

 

I rise, silent. Déjà vu.

I have done this before.

A memory:

 

Once, at age eight,

I awoke in moonlight.

It called me to the mirror,

And I looked.

Half in dream, I peered and saw myself.

My mind transcended the glass:

 

Someone peering back at me,

Someone old.

Familiar but foreign,

Comforting but startling,

The eyes were the same:

Sadder, more tired, more intelligent,

But mine.

 

I saw myself seeing myself,

And I shivered.

 

Child-thin body staring at womanly curves,

Tangled locks echoing graying ones.

What etched those wrinkles in my face?

What lessons sculpted wisdom in my eyes?

 

I don’t remember returning to bed,

But I must have.

I awoke the next morning

And I was still a little girl.

 

Now, the moonlight invites me.

It lights the night,

A friend.

 

What does it want?

What does it know?

How many eons of time in its glow?

 

In the mirror, it bathes my

My gray locks in misty aura.

My wrinkled brow

Speaks of hardship and victory,

Of disappointment and loss,

Of survival.

 

The gossamer light cuts through the mask.

I slip behind the glass to find, perplexed,

Entranced, a little girl of eight,

Staring back at me like maybe I’m a mother

Or a savior or a ghost.

 

Like somehow I have answers.

 

But instead I bring more questions.

How can I possibly have been that small,

That young, that naïve, that creative?

How could I ever have had that much confidence and energy,

And why on Earth would any of us

Trade it all

For wisdom?

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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The Spot Writers – “The Man in the Detective Hat” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “someone always wears the same hat because of some secret and/or mysterious reason”.

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

The Man in the Detective Hat by Chiara De Giorgi

As a child, I was often alone. Alone, but not lonely. In fact, I would spend hours playing outside with my imaginary friend. At least, I think he was imaginary… I’m not sure of anything anymore, these days. Reveries and reality overlap and leave me baffled and wondering.

Who was that guy I spent hours and hours with, exploring, pondering, looking for meaningful answers? And why was he always wearing a hat? I remember wanting to ask him to take it off, but I never dared.

Now, what was his name again? Did he have a name? If he was an imaginary friend, he might not have had a name, unless I gave him one. Did I give him a name? Maybe not. It wasn’t necessary after all. I would walk, climb a tree, swim in the lake, ride my bike in the woods… and he would be there with me, always ready to talk, explain, ask poignant questions. But never giving answers, now that I think of it.

I had to understand everything all by myself, he just helped me reason, find the answers to my own riddles.

Maybe that’s why I never asked him why he never took off his hat. It was a funny detective hat, but it wasn’t funny on him. Hey, what if he was a detective for real? What if he was investigating my family, what if he wanted to frame me or my parents for some terrible deed? I sure hope he was my imaginary friend, and not some real detective.

What’s that thing in the corner of my closet? Wait, is that… Oh, my. It’s a detective hat! How peculiar! What is it doing here? I don’t remember ever having one. It looks… It looks exactly the same as my childhood imaginary friend’s. Now, if this were his hat, it would mean he took it off, he he he. I wonder… How would I look in it? I’ll put it on and look at myself in the mirror. There.

Goodness! I look like him! Same height, same body structure, same complexion – pale and a bit rough. Even the same expression in the eyes, thoughtful and wise.

Oh, gosh. That was unexpected.

I am the man in the detective hat. I know, now, why I can never take it off. Look what happened when I did. No, you don’t want to know, trust me. Just forget you ever met me. And should you find a detective hat laying around somewhere, please leave it there. Don’t ask questions, just close your eyes and quietly go away. Some mysteries are supposed to stay unsolved, some questions need to remain unanswered forever.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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“I’m Still Here”

It’s another 11th. Thirty-five months today since my son Matthew died from a rare heart cancer. I cannot believe it’s been almost three years. It seems like yesterday; then again, it seems like forever. This is the last monthly poem memorializing Matthew in the poetry book I’ll be publishing next month, the third anniversary of his death. The poems deal with my loss and grief as a mother. 

Matt hunting

“I’m Still  Here”

I’m the sun shining down,
Warming without sound,

I’m the wind in your hair,
Caressing you with prayer,

I’m the touch on your shoulder,
Celebrating every year older,

I’m the ladybug on your arm,
Protecting you from harm,

I’m the cardinal red,
Lessening your dread,

I’m the drop of rain,
Diluting your pain,

I’m the blue sky,
Calming your cry,

I’m the fluffy cloud,
Shrouding you in a crowd,

I’m the moon above,
Sending down love,

I’m the bird chirping,
Healing your hurting,

I’m the air you breathe,
Helping you to not seethe,

I’m waves crashing on shore,
Knocking at your door

With hope for the future
And wounds to suture:

Life is too short,
Be a good sport,

Don’t grieve,
I’ll never leave,

I’ll never forget,
So don’t you sweat,

I’m still your son,
Though my earthly life is done.

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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The Spot Writers – “Head Games” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “someone always wears the same hat because of some secret and/or mysterious reason”.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. In December, 2019, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

“Head Games” by Phil Yeats

Yesterday was momentous. Not globally momentous, but a day that was destined to alter my life for the coming decade, maybe longer. It began like most days over the past two years, eleven months, and twenty-seven days. Back then – we’ll approximate it as three years ago – I lost my secure job as a tenured university professor. Firing a tenured professor is almost impossible, but I found myself unemployed. The School of Neural Psychology, a university department, closed its doors. All staff, including tenured professors, were terminated.

Fast-forward to yesterday. After breakfast, I plunked my dilapidated Tilley hat on my head and stepped onto my front porch. While completing my errand – its purpose isn’t important – I encountered two neighbours. I was pleased but careful not to show any emotion when both kept glancing at my bedraggled hat. For those three years, I’d worn it in sun, rain, or snow in spring, summer, fall, or winter every time I left my house. No one mentioned it, but everyone noticed my tattered headgear, and I never explained why I always wore it.

Back home, my old boss, the school president from when it was disbanded, followed me to my front door. She broached the reason for her visit after I made coffee. “I’ve finally fulfilled the promise I made to everyone when our research institute closed. New school, new university, new name – I never liked the one chosen to please our original sponsor – but a similar mandate. Are you interested in rejoining your old colleagues?”

I hesitated. “I’m okay. Inexpensive lifestyle, and adequate resources from severance, savings, and rent from two apartments on this property. My needs are covered, and I have no dependents or expensive obligations.”

“Fine, but that fails to address my question. And before you confuse matters with additional dissembling, I’ll mention two things. First, I’ve read the two papers you’ve published since your forced resignation. Both are insightful contributions to your field—”

“Loose ends, papers that described work completed while I was working.”

“Garbage. Those weren’t tidy-up-after-I-retire papers. They’re forward-looking, raising issues that demand further investigation.”

“Whatever. And your second point…”

“That stupid hat! A meaningless game you’re playing, teasing your neighbours with the mystery of why you always wear that decrepit rag on your head. You’re bored. You should return to your chosen career and leave your neighbours in peace.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

 

 

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