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The Spot Writers – “New York 2019” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. September’s prompt: mistaken identity—a story where a mistaken identity plays a major role.

This week’s story 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!


New York 2019 

Although Jane often read horoscopes and took quizzes, she had never been upset over the outcomes, but this one was too ominous to ignore. As a result, she and Ned would have to cancel their annual trip to New York City.

We’ll go somewhere else, she thought. Anywhere but New York. Togetherness mattered, not the destination. No way would she enjoy herself with such a dire premonition hanging over her.

She’d make up an excuse, for Ned wouldn’t understand. He’d laugh, call her a silly cupcake, but in the end, he’d acquiesce. Couldn’t she be tired of the same place every year?

She broached the subject over dinner. “Let’s go somewhere different this year.”

“But it’s tradition,” Ned said. “We love New York.”

“I know, but can’t we skip a year?”


Silent for several seconds, she sighed. “You’ll make fun of me.”

“I won’t.”

“You will.”

“I promise I won’t.”

She produced a paper. “I took a quiz on Facebook that tells a person when and how they’ll die. It told me I’ll die by a sniper’s bullet in New York City in 2019.”

Ned, rolling his eyes, ignored the proffered sheet.

She glared at her husband. “You promised you wouldn’t laugh.”

“I’m not laughing. It’s coincidental but kind of farfetched, don’t you think? A sniper? And this year?”

“We go every year. What’s coincidental about that? I can’t go. I’d be peering over my shoulder every second.” She laughed, trying to lessen the impact of her demand.

Ned sighed. “Okay, we can go somewhere else. Atlantic City?”


Jane and Ned settled into the Atlantic City Hotel. After a sumptuous dinner, they strolled the streets, which bustled with tourists. Throngs of people congregated at casinos and bars, but everyone minded their own business. Ned felt he and Jane were inconspicuous.

“What a beautiful evening.” Jane glanced at the sky. “Another hour until the sun sets.”

“A beautiful night for sure.” Ned had barely spoken the words when he noticed a young man approaching. Drunk, he figured, but his long dark coat was uncharacteristic of the mild temperature. His skin prickled, and he gripped his wife’s hand. When the man made eye contact but quickly passed by, Ned relaxed.

Then, almost immediately, shots rang out. Seconds—or was it minutes?—passed before he realized Jane had fallen. People screamed and raced away while others dropped to the ground as his wife had.

Ned collapsed beside her, cradling her head in his arms.  “Jane!” He crushed his wife to his chest. Tears careened down his cheeks, disappearing into her grey hair. Images appeared before him in slow motion: Jane wearing a wedding gown, Jane birthing two children, Jane’s welcoming greetings at the kitchen door.

“9-1-1,” someone shouted.

Later that evening, the police advised Ned that he and Jane had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The deranged individual, a native of New York, who had recently relocated to Atlantic City, had aimed indiscriminately. Jane had been the sole victim.

Weeks later, Ned discovered the Facebook print-out he had neglected to read:

You will die by the hand of a New York sniper in 2019.

“Oh, Jane, you misread everything,” Ned mumbled.


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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Writer Wednesdays – Lisa Kohn

Writing Wicket interviews Lisa Kohn today.

Lisa is the author of to the moon and back: a childhood under the influence, as well as The Power of Thoughtful Leadership. She is a writer, teacher, and public speaker who owns a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm (www.chatsworthconsulting.com) and who works to bring to others the tools, mind-shifts, and practices she’s found that have helped her heal, as well as the hope and forgiveness she’s been blessed to let into her life. She will always tell you that she is a native New Yorker, but she currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children, whenever they’re around.

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

to the moon and back is the only full-form book I’ve written. (The Power of Thoughtful Leadership is a compilation of my work blog.) I had been working on a hybrid book – part memoir, part self-help – and when I finally decided to make it into a full memoir, it took me about a year to write the book.

Q: How does your life unfold in a normal writing day?

Because my writing is not my “day job” (my leadership consulting and executive coaching firm is what I do on a daily basis), I work my writing into my life. I set aside specific blocks of time to write, and I take myself away from my home-office desk, to a designated “writing” spot, so that I can think with that different brain and ignore my work responsibilities for a little while.

Q: If you could start over again in your writing career, what would you do differently?

I would start writing earlier. I had no idea how much I loved to write, to edit, to craft, to delete, to recraft, etc. I would give myself the gift of that much sooner, and I would create even more space and time in my life to write.

Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?

Because my book is a memoir, I am the main character. So, while I don’t think I can say that I’ve cried with myself, I certainly re-experienced many of the situations and emotions as I wrote the book, and now, during my author readings, I certainly re-experience them again.

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?

I know that it sometimes can take me a while to get started when I’m trying to write – to find the best way into the story or idea – but I don’t believe in writer’s blog, per se, because as soon as I just start writing something, ideas and words seem to flow.

Q: What genre do you favour?

I really enjoy narrative nonfiction and memoir.

Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

When I wrote my memoir, I tried to be as true as I could be to my memory, while also being aware of other people’s perspectives. While this is not the same as writing about historical figures, I think you would need to be as aware as you can be of the bias and perspective you bring, which flavors what you notice and what you write.

Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Because my genre is memoir, there isn’t specific research that I do. That said, I do speak with others about their memories and perspectives, and I do go through old journals, calendars, notes, etc., to see what was or seemed true at that time.

Q: What is your favourite childhood book?

I loved all of Louisa May Alcott’s books, especially the Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys series.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The most difficult part of my artistic process is actually one of the most rewarding parts as well. It is the editing, and specifically going through my writing carefully and deleting words, sentences, paragraphs, and full concepts/ideas that don’t move the story along. I have learned to thoroughly enjoy it, but it can be quite challenging to delete anything that I’ve “created” and written.

Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

In some ways, writing both energizes and exhausts me, but I would have to say it is more energizing. I am lucky in that I found that I love to write, and while I pour my heart, soul, and energy into it – especially because I’m writing memoir and narrative nonfiction – it fuels me to write more and more.

Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?

The two Kryptonite that can bring me down are: 1) getting started – it can be tough to figure out how to start a story or map out what I’m going to write. I can sit with my fingers on the keyboard for what seems like forever, waiting for the inspiration to hit me (and to hit me well). I have learned to “just start” – and then to work with whatever starts flowing. and 2) because I write memoir, I can get stuck trying to remember what “actually” happened. I’ve learned a great deal about memory through this process – largely that memory is subjective and hazy at best – and when I task myself with capturing as “true” a version of the truth/situation as I can, getting words out can be quite baffling.

Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If you write under one now, why?

I have never considered writing under a pseudonym because I am trying to spread a message of hope and love with my memoir, and I believe I will be best able to do this when I am cleary writing as myself.

Q: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

I don’t necessarily think one must feel emotions strongly in order to write. Just as there are many ways to go through life, I believe there are many ways to be a successful writer. While my writing is clearly influenced by my emotions – and my emotional nature – I think one can just as easily create/capture a story from a different life-viewpoint.

Q: If you could be any author, who would it be and why?

If I could be any author, I would be Mary Karr. She is, in many ways, the “queen of memoir.” Her memoirs have touched many people and also inspired many memoirists go public with their story. I also think she writes beautifully.

Q: What is the first book that made you cry?

I am pretty certain that it was Little Women that first made me cry. I yearned for a family like the March’s.

Q: Why did you decide to self-publish?

While my leadership book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership, was self-published, my memoir, to the moon and back: a childhood under the influence, is not. I decided to self-publish The Power of Thoughtful Leadership because my business partner and I wanted to quickly get our book out to clients and prospects, and self-publishing was the quickest way to do this (with the most control).

Q: What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think the most common trap is thinking it will be easy and not being willing to put in the time and/or work. I have found the writing, publishing, and now promoting all to be challenging in their own way, and there are times I’ve wanted (and want) to quit. However, I keep at it because I remember that I’ve written (and am promoting) to the moon and back for a reason – to spread a message of hope and love. When I focus on that, I can keep at this and give it time to have results.

Q: What books have you self-published?

The Power of Thoughtful Leadership

Check out Lisa’s website: www.lisakohnwrites.com


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 – “Rogue Copies” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places.

This week’s story comes from Phil Yeats. Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) recently published his first novel. A Body in the Sacristy, the first in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.



Rogue Copies by Phil Yeats


Yesterday, I saw a copy of Tilting at Windmills sitting abandoned on a park bench. I sauntered by perusing the cover. It was definitely my cover, my title and my pen name.

I’d recently distributed electronic copies of the manuscript, including jpegs of my proposed covers, to eight writing colleagues for final comments before I formatted it for self-publication. I’d also sent the first fifty pages, no covers, to several publishers. But I hadn’t published it.

After sneaking down another path, I approached the bench from a different direction. I stood behind one of the Public Garden’s giant rhododendrons and noted everyone within sight as I tried to understand this strange event.

Had someone stolen my manuscript, printed copies of the book, and placed them for sale in local bookstores? Or had someone left a mock-up of the covers with blank pages where I’d find it? A none too gentle reminder from a colleague telling me I’d taken too long getting this manuscript finished.

I watched for half an hour, but no one approached the book, and no one I recognized loitered nearby. I picked the damn thing up and leafed through it.

Two things were obvious. First, it wasn’t laser printed covers around blank pages. It was a properly formatted and printed versions of my book, one I’d have proudly displayed if I’d produced it myself. Second, someone had sliced out the page that identified the printer.


This morning, I looked for a listing on Amazon—nothing. I stopped by two bookstores to see if copies were on their shelves—again, nothing. Finally, I visited the library to search for it in their catalogue.

I saw the second copy on a display table of books by local authors. I picked it up and rushed to the information desk.

The librarian on duty shook his head. “Not ours. Someone must have slipped it into our display.”

I now had two copies of my unpublished book and no idea where they came from. I wandered into the library’s busy café, ordered a coffee, and tried to unravel my little mystery.

A woman appeared, plunked a third copy of Tilting at Windmills on my table and disappeared into the crowd near the café entrance. I grabbed my backpack and chased after her, but realized the futility as I pushed through the crowd inside the café into a larger one outside. I’d only managed a brief glance at the woman, enough to conclude she wasn’t anyone I knew, but little else. She’d been wearing a colourful cape, but she could easily have slipped it off and blended into the crowd.

I returned to my half-drunk coffee slightly wiser. I was now certain someone targeted me with these copies of my book, but I didn’t know why or what to do about it.

An idea popped into my head. I could format the authentic version of Tilting at Windmills and rush it into print. In the meantime, I could write blog posts describing the strange occurrences of rogue copies of my as yet unpublished book. If they caught on, they could form the basis of an interesting publicity campaign.


A week later, I passed George Foster, one of my eight beta readers, on Spring Garden Road. “I see your manuscript is finally published,” he said without stopping.

I stared at his retreating back. Was he referring to the e-book version I’d posted on Amazon three days earlier, or more rogue copies floating around Halifax?


 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 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 – “Back to Work” by Val Muller

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places. Today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of the spooky novel The Man with the Crystal Ankh.

Back to Work By Val Muller

From the moment her daughter just “had to have it” at the checkout line, Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel drove Marie crazy. It should be illegal for stores to have children’s items in the checkout section. Or any items, for that matter. The check-out line was always the worst part of grocery shopping with a toddler and a newborn.

But what is a mother to do? When there’s a fussy toddler and a cart full of items to be placed on the conveyor belt, the easiest thing is just to give in. And the toddler always knew just how to time things just right—messing with the cart items just to the point of causing an actual mess. It was like she knew her mommy would be frazzled enough to buy the small book. In the game of chicken, the toddler always won.

And it was what, $3.95? But it was a four-dollar mistake. Since its purchase, Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel kept popping up everywhere, even when Marie tried to hide it.

It wasn’t even a great story. It made its point with alliteration. Each page played with a letter. “Harrison Habbinger loved lemons, licking his lips for lavender lemonade…” The author had labored so much on making the alliteration happen that there was nothing interesting about the story. The toddler didn’t learn any new facts about squirrels, there were no insights, no characterization, no funny jokes put in there for parents. Some children’s books did all these things. They were—well, maybe not quite enjoyable to read, but at least they made an effort at it, eliciting a chuckle at some idiosyncrasy of the grown-up world.

But not Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel. Yet for some reason the toddler was obsessed with it. The book followed them everywhere. Even when she thought she put it back on the bookshelf, it would materialize in the pantry, under the TV next to the DVD player, in the passenger seat of the car…

One day, Marie received an email from her husband at work. He’d discovered the book stashed in his briefcase. He’d showed it to his co-workers, and the office had a good laugh at the stupidity of the book.

Every night, the toddler asked for it to be read once, twice, sometimes more. It was excruciating, and the worst part was that the alliteration made it impossible to tune out. It was laborious for a tired mom to read at the end of the day. As the newborn grew, his love of the language patterns only helped encourage the toddler’s obsession.

And it didn’t just stop at the book. The obsession with the squirrel transcended the pages.

The toddler often asked for stories in the car, always about the squirrel. Waiting in line. In the bathtub. At bedtime. Eating lunch. In the car. Everywhere, the toddler demanded a story about Habbinger.

It was getting harder to make up original stories about the squirrel that had very little personality. When trying to put the baby to bed, Marie cringed at the excited cheers downstairs shouting the fact that as soon as the baby fell asleep, Mommy would be free to read Harrison again.

And again.

And again.

When Mommy was stuck for hours at a time and a chair feeding the baby, she was held captive by a toddler and her book.

Marie tried to remind herself that she was only away from work for 12 weeks. The time would fly by quickly, the baby would get bigger, and the toddler would return to daycare as well. The time would fly by fast, even if the hours might seem long. But still: every time she saw that book, she shuttered.

Her seven-hundredth attempt to hide the book failed on the cusp of her return to work. She spent her last waking moments of maternity leave reading the squirrel book several times to the squealing delight of her daughter who seemed nowhere near ready to fall asleep for the night.

The first two days back to work were a sort of reorientation into the work world, with coworkers taking her out to lunch and her regaling people with stories of the birth and the first few weeks and the toddler’s reactions and all the cute baby pictures that leave out the less desirable moments of parenthood—the diaper blowouts and temper tantrums and the obsession with badly-written kids’ books.

But after those first two days of work, things got back into routine. Everyone focused back on their jobs, and Marie realized she had a lot of catching up to do. It was on that Dreadful Wednesday, hump day, dreary rainy blurry Wednesday, when she actually felt a bit tearful dropping the kids off at their daycare. She stared at her desk. Had she done it? Has she been one of those moms to squander her time off? Everyone told her to appreciate every little smile, every little diaper accident, every little change of clothes, every all-nighter, every annoying story, because those hands wouldn’t be little for much longer. They said it was way too easy to squander if you weren’t careful.

Had she squandered all that time?

She dug into her bag to try to find her lunch. She’d packed some Halloween candy, and chocolate always cheered her up. As she dug through her bag, something tattered and worn and colorful peeked out at her.

It was Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel. In all its glory. There in her work bag.

How had it got in there? She smiled and knew the answer. That little toddler of hers, as mischievous as she always seemed, always knew how to time things just 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.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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WRITER WEDNESDAYS – Showcasing Phil Yeats

I’m starting a new blog post every Wednesday called “Writer Wednesdays,” when I will feature one indie author.

This week I’m showcasing Phil Yeats.


Phil Yeats is a retired scientist experimenting with creative writing. He has a keen interest in environmental science and dabbled in yachting and golf before turning to fiction. Phil is the author of a slowly growing number of published short stories and one poem. Several were written using the pen name Alan Kemister to keep a minimal degree of separation between his real science and the fictional variants in the stories. He’s interested in both science fiction/dystopia and mystery genres. His only published novel, A Body in the Sacristy, is a mystery featuring a detective in a fictional town on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. More information about his writing projects is available at https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

I asked Phil:

Q: If you could be any author, who would it be and why?

A: Never thought about this, so not willing to give a spur of the moment answer.

Q: What is the first book that made you cry?

A: Lots of stories have made me a bit weepy but I have no idea what might have been the first.

Q: What are your favourite literary journals?

A: I have read issues of the Malahat Review and the Antigonish Review and occasionally others, but don’t have a favourite.

Q: What are common traps for aspiring writers?

A: One of my major faults, and one I see in other beginners, is wordiness. It is too easy to qualify and amplify everything we write. Better to purge all the unnecessary detail.

Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

A: I do very little research before I start writing but am quite happy to interrupt myself in mid-sentence to search the web for answers to any questions that come up.

Q: What is your favourite childhood book?

A: I don’t remember childhood books before reading Hardy Boy books when I was ten or so. After that old British mysteries – Leslie Charteris and Margery Allingham were my favourites, along with Jules Verne and other old standbys in the science fiction world. I don’t think I was a very adventuresome reader.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

A: The hardest part for me is knowing when to stop the revising process. I feel I go back critically rereading my books making changes that are of dubious value.

Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

A: Working on something new is a boost. Rewriting/revising is frustrating even when I know I’m making improvements.

Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?

A: Revising with no specific purpose in mind.

Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If you write under one now, why did you do so?

A: My one and only book was written using a pseudonym. I began writing science fiction dystopia stories with an environmental theme while I was still actively working in a related field. I wanted to maintain a separation between the real and fictional science. I am no longer working, but I’ve maintained the pseudonym because I like remaining at a distance. It is presumably bad for sales, but I’d rather my old colleagues didn’t recognize me.

Q: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

A: Probably not, and I suspect that is one of the reasons I’ll never be a writer of stories about people in highly emotional situations. I realize this failing and stick to mysteries and sci-fi stories that are more technical. I struggle when I have to write an emotional scene.

Q: If you could start over again in your writing career, what would you do differently?

A: The flippant answer would be to say I would have chosen to do something else, but it wouldn’t be true. I realize I will never be a literary writer, but I enjoy what I’m doing. I should have started a few years earlier – mid-sixties was a little old for an endeavour with a long learning curve.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

A: Not going to tackle this one – way too many things that should be changed.

Q: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

A: Don’t think I’ve learned that lesson. I remain stuck in the scientist’s mantra that says knowledge of how things work brings power. I still struggle expressing that knowledge, so it would appear I have not experienced language as power.

Q: Do you want each of your books to stand on its own (if you’re writing more than one, that is), or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

A: I’m working on a series of connected mysteries where I want to build on the continuity of the central characters and the basic stage set. But I’m also working on another project that will be stand alone. So, I’m on both sides of this particular fence.

Q: What are your favourite three books and why?

A: My favourite books are dystopias, ones with no happy ending – Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is probably at the top of my list. But I also like stories that are just good stories. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of those. And recently, I read and liked Rachel Cusk’s Outline, so you see a rather eclectic mix. I don’t read a large number of books, and I don’t try to analyse them.

Q: How often do you write?

A: Several hours most days if I count all that endless revising.

Q: Why did you decide to self-publish?

A: Two reasons. First, I wasn’t confident any publisher would pick up a book I wrote because I don’t want to write the sort of topical book that attracts a sufficiently large audience. Second, if a publisher did take on my book, I would feel obliged to put the effort into marketing that the publisher expected. I’d rather not have that obligation.

Q: What challenges have you faced in publishing?

A: Relatively few. I’ve submitted a number of stories to anthologies and journals. More have been rejected than accepted, but I’ve had enough acceptances to keep me interested. I learned the basics of self-publishing my novel by helping in the production of two anthologies and listening to authors with experience. The challenges appear to be more with promotion than with publishing. Getting my book known by the few people who might want to read it has been a challenge I have not surmounted.

Q: What book(s) have you written?

A: I have only published one book – A Body in the Sacristy, by Alan Kemister (my alter ego). It is the first of what I hope will be a series of Barrettsport Mysteries set in a fiction South Shore Nova Scotia town. Book Two, Tilting at Windmills is virtually complete; three others are partly done. I’m also working on a science fiction story with a climate change focus. It is tentatively titled The Souring Seas. I have several other partially completed manuscripts that I’ve abandoned. Some might be worth resurrecting.

Phil’s first published book, A BODY IN THE SACRISITY, is available on Amazon.ca.

A Body in the Sacristy

It’s also available on Amazon.com; locally at Carrefour Atlantique, downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia; and from the author.


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The Spot Writers – “My Life Beyond the Hills” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. The August prompt is based on a photo taken at a local zoo. There was a fence leading to a “no admittance” area, but about 12 inches at the bottom had been bent upward, allowing admission of… people? animals? And where does it lead? The Spot Writers’ task: Write a story involving a fence that has been snuck through—as a major or minor plot point.

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.


My life beyond the hills

by Chiara De Giorgi


“If you want to know what my life will be like, you have to follow me.”



The girl pointed to the top of the hill.

By then, I was pretty sure I was dreaming. Where and how had I fallen asleep, though?


My friends had wanted to go paddling on the lake, but I had felt such an urge to go explore the woods behind the B&B, that I had quickly packed a waterproof jacket and a bottle of sunscreen  – you never know what the weather’s going to be like in Scotland, after all! – and had started hiking up the hill.

Fluffy, white clouds were scattered across the sky, and a soft, warm wind was blowing, leaves rustling under its fingertips. The air smelled sweet, birds were singing, flowers were blooming all around, and my heart was about to burst with joy. This place was so beautiful, and somehow familiar. Where had I smelled that sweetness before? When had I seen such colorful meadows?

My hike abruptly came to an end when I reached a fence. I glanced right and left and saw no one, but I’d never climb over it: I was too well behaved for that. I squinted in the sunlight, trying to locate the end of the fence: maybe I could just go round it, and find the path again on the other side. I saw nothing promising, though: the fence just climbed all the way up the hill and disappeared beyond the top.

“I can show you a way through.”

Her voice startled me. Where had she come from? She looked about my age, small leaves and grass blades were entangled in her hair, that was long and dark and matted. Her sparkling green eyes made her dirty face look pretty, and she watched me with wariness and amusement.

I didn’t know what to say, I just opened my mouth and asked: “How?”

“Come with me, quick!”

She picked up her long, ragged skirts and started running up the hill, along the fence.

“What? Wait!”

I started after her before I even had the time to think. Who was this girl? Where had she come from? Why was she so shabby? Where was she leading me, and why?

“Okay, stop. Stop!”  I cried.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “We can’t stop now. They’ll catch us! Come on, run, we’re almost there.”

She started up the hill again, and I couldn’t help but follow. I stopped again when she did. I thought I’d be out of breath, but I was not: that’s when I realized this must be a dream.

“Now what?”

“Look”, she said, pointing to the ground. The fence had been wrecked.

“We’re too big, we’ll hurt ourselves. Besides, what’s the point? Why not simply climb, if we have to get to the other side?”

She grinned.

“Let’s do that!”

With one leap she was beyond the fence and had started running again.

“Wait, stop!”

She kept running, so I climbed the fence, much less nimbly than her, I admit, and ran after her.

She finally stopped and crouched behind a big, thorny bush. Sweat was leaving white streaks on her dirty brow and cheeks, her breath was heavy. She looked at me, terror in her eyes.

“What? What is it?” I asked, grabbing her hand.

“Shut up, don’t talk! They might hear us. Oh God, will they catch us? Where are they? Can you see them?”

“Who are you talking about? There’s no one here, it’s just the two of us.” Dream or not, I was starting to feel uncomfortable. “Now calm down and tell me: who are you? What or who are you running from?”

She looked at me with sad eyes.

“Don’t you remember?” she asked.

I gasped. One moment I was myself, the next I was the girl in front of me. Chased by men who wanted to burn me as a witch. By men who had burned down my village, killing or capturing all my friends and family. I was left alone in a dangerous world. Running for my life, but where?

My head was spinning.


“Now you remember”, she muttered. “We fled”, she added, nodding to herself, her eyes lost in the distance.

“Did… Did they catch us?”

She shook her head.

“They did not. We ran for days, climbing hill after hill after hill. We were all alone. We shed tears for all the people we had lost. For all the beauty of this place, wasted on evil people. For all the magic that was lost.”

I didn’t dare break the silence that followed, so I stayed still, crouched next to her, waiting for her to speak again. At last, she glanced at me and smiled.

“It wasn’t lost, not all of it, at least. The magic, I mean. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I am you, you are me. That much you know, right?”

I nodded quickly, before my mind had time to process the thought and convince me it was nonsense.

“I am here right now, but you are not. Not really, at least. You are my future. I needed a scrap of hope, and I called out to you. Now I know it’ll be worth it.”

I slowly stood and lifted my eyes to the top of the hill. She did the same.

“If you want to know what my life will be like, you have to follow me.”



One heartbeat. Two, three. I shook my head.

“Go on and live your life”, I said then. “I’ll go on and live mine. Come see me some other time, if you wish. Let me know how you’re doing.”

She sighed, but kept on smiling.

“I will. Take care, and be wise.”

She turned and started running again. I stood there, watching her becoming smaller and smaller until she disappeared beyond the top of the hill.

I rubbed my eyes, trying to wake up, but realized I was already awake.

The sun was about to set and I must run if I wanted to be back at the B&B before dark.



The Spot Writers:

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 Debut Novel! Wolves Don’t Knock

I’m elated to receive another excellent review. This one is posted on Amazon (along with two others) and was written by a verified purchaser.

I don’t think anyone could receive a better review than this.

I’m sharing it here:

“C. A. Mackenzie’s extraordinary ability to harness psychological drama compelled me to swiftly turn the pages of “Wolves Don’t Knock.” MacKenzie’s grip is so strong that Miranda’s torment became my own. I was unable to rest until the end; exhausted when I did. Without any reservations, I can declare Wolves Don’t Knock a five-star novel. It is, and literary agents should be fighting each other to represent Catherine A. MacKenzie’s future works.

“It would be tragic if Wolves Don’t Knock is undiscovered in Amazon’s Slush Pile Mountain. This novel belongs on Amazon’s Bestseller List….”

Tragic for MY book to be undiscovered? Wow!

This guy does not mince words. He says it like it is, with full honesty. Yes, I know him from online groups, but I know he means what he says. He’s read short stories of mine and rated them according to stars: one to five. He has said a couple of my stories didn’t even rate a one and that they should be trashed. Literally put out at the curb!

The other two reviews on Amazon:

Wolves Don’t Knock is a spell-binding novel that delves into the mysteries of a traumatized young woman’s psyche while she fights to regain a sense of worth. As the story progresses, the variety of well-developed characters will keep the reader turning the pages. Thumbs up and five stars to this talented author.”

“I loved this book so much that I passed it on to a friend. It is a riveting story with the cast of characters and many unexpected plot twists. You never know what’s going on in a small town neighbourhood. A sequel looks like a natural progression. Way to Go!!!”

The first individual was a beta reader. The second individual is a verified purchaser (she purchased the print book), but for some reason she posted a Kindle review so she doesn’t show up as one.

Several other individuals have promised reviews on Amazon (though I did receive some via email and Facebook), but I’m still waiting. Oh, well… Non-writers don’t realize how valuable reviews (good or bad) are to authors. And of course, I want HONEST reviews. No fluff and stuff if the book is horrible.

This is my debut novel. I have Paul’s story in my head (you’ll have to read Wolves Don’t Knock to know who Paul is) and hope to start writing that very soon. Paul’s story will be titled Mr. Wolfe. This second book will be a stand-alone book (as is Wolves Don’t Knock). The reader will not have to read both books in order to enjoy each or get a full understanding of the stories, but there will be some surprises in Mr. Wolfe that the reader will be able to trace back to Wolves. The reader will not spot any dangling threads in Wolves Don’t Knock other than one unanswered question, but whether that question will be answered in Paul’s story is up in the air (and will remain that way). But if Mr. Wolfe unfolds as I want it to and the reader has read Wolves, he/she will be surprised by some revelations.

Have I intrigued you enough to purchase Wolves Don’t Knock? I consider it a blend of suspense, mystery, thriller, and family relationships. A couple of readers have categorized it as a “psychological drama.” If the book were totally about Miranda, I would agree, but the book is told through the points of view of Miranda and her mother, Sharon. I suppose Sharon is traumatized a tad, too, but mostly she just has secrets and guilt.

The book would be suitable for mature teens and up. It’s about a kidnapping so, of course, there is rape, but the images are only implied; there are no graphic scenes or foul language.

The book is set in Nova Scotia, Canada, with references to Halifax, Lower Sackville, Lunenburg, and Peggys Cove.

Anyhow, if you’re local, I have books at my home available for purchase. $15 Canadian.

Otherwise, check it out on Amazon.

Available in print and Kindle, but the print book is much nicer (some fancy formatting). If you purchase, please drop me a quick note to let me know how you liked it. I would appreciate it!




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The Spot Writers – “Perfect People” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. April’s prompt is based on a Stephen Hawking quote: “The universe does not allow perfection.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s one-woman publishing company, MacKenzie Publishing, has published two anthologies: OUT OF THE CAVE and TWO EYES OPEN, two collections of short stories by authors around the world, to read during the day…or at night, as long as two eyes are open. Not “horrific horror”…more like intrigue, mystery, thriller. Simply good reads.

TWO EYES OPEN: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1927529301/

OUT OF THE CAVE (milder stories for 13+): https://www.amazon.com/Out-Cave-stories-Cassandra-Williams/dp/1927529298/


Perry, a writer friend, used to read my work. He lived down the street and popped in whenever he had writer’s block. Seemed he had writer’s block more often than not. Did he have ulterior motives, something more than curiosity at a fellow writer’s writings? He was a dear friend, so close he could have been my husband, but I was happily married to the perfect guy in the perfect marriage, so I didn’t need Perry.

Perfection, right? Or was it a matter of perception?

Perry had fawned praise upon my writing in the past, given me 5-star reviews, sometimes 4 stars. Once in a while, he’d tell me a story was crap, comments I took in stride, for I’m a writer, and writers must have thick skins. And sometimes my stories were crap!

Praise is nice, when it’s warranted. I’ve always asked for honesty.

He was a self-proclaimed editor, too, and edited my work in the past. Edited miserably. I’ve found numerous errors and inconsistencies in stories he previously said were perfect. But I never said anything, not wanting to rile him up, for I was certain he’d be upset I caught things he’d missed. But that was okay. They were my stories, and he edited out of the goodness of his heart. You get what you pay for, right?


So perfect little me never said anything.

“Let me read a book of your short stories,” he said one day.

“Yeah, okay,” I said. “I’m working on a book now, in fact.”

I was happy someone wanted to read works that might be hidden from the public forever. “But be honest,” I said. “I want honesty.”

“You’ll get it.”

I emailed my book of twenty-two stories to him.

A few days later, he sent me his two-page critique. Two stories were trash (crap!), despite the fact both had been previously published in publications, which meant others had enjoyed them. Four stories were 5-star; eight were 4-star, seven were 3-star, and one was a 2-star.

I didn’t totally agree the two stories were trash, but I deleted them from the file. I had another I could add to the book that I would send for his quick review.

He told me what was wrong with the non-5-star stories. All opinion, of course. I was a tad upset with his comments on the 2-star story, which I thought was one of my perfect stories, but after sleeping on it, I realized he was right. The ending didn’t make sense, and neither did happenings beforehand that resulted in the ending. I revised it “to perfection” and thanked him profusely for his perception. Perfect perception, to be honest.

According to him, several of the 4-star stories could be 5-star stories if I did “this” or “that.” I reread each one, his comments forefront in my mind. I concluded I liked most of them as they were. They would turn into different stories had I revamped them. In one story, the main character would be an evil person had I followed his wishes, which was totally not the gist of my story.  I didn’t even understand his comments as they pertained to a couple of other stories. It was as if he hadn’t read them carefully enough.

I incorporated most of his other suggestions, the mistakes and inconsistencies, which would up the level of the 3-star stories (according to him).

I hadn’t realized Perry was God until I emailed him, advising him of my changes and non-changes. I gave explanations. I perfectly profusely thanked him.

They were my stories, after all, and the author is ultimately responsible for her stories. It’s the writer’s prerogative to accept or reject an editor’s changes and suggestions. Not to mention, in this case, that he was a friend; he wasn’t a paid editor. Besides, every reader has different likes and dislikes, different opinions. No story is perfect to each person.

I’m not perfect, but I am a perfectionist. I agonize over each word choice, check each comma, double-check each spelling. Despite that, my stories will never be perfect.

He lambasted me in a reply email because I hadn’t “obeyed” him one hundred percent. I was stunned! Umm, gee, I had incorporated the majority of his changes, even deleting two stories! Who was he? Perfect Perry? Yup, apparently so.  His opinion obviously ruled.

Who was Perry to say this story needed “that” or that story needed “this”?

Yes, all you writers and editors: I realize a writer is so close to her own work that she can’t see the forest for the trees. (And yes, I know clichés are a no-no. I’m trying to make a point, and sometimes a cliché, an already established statement, brings out the point better than a made-up phrase.)

As I said, I was shocked at his reaction. I politely emailed back. I explained my reasoning. Aren’t I entitled to my opinion? Opinions are opinions, are they not? And who’s to say his opinion tops another individual’s? I also didn’t realize I had to accept his every comment/change.

I expected him to apologize for his abruptness. He could be having a bad day. I’ve lashed out in the past, later regretting words said in anger from an unrelated incident. In fact, he recently lambasted me and seconds later apologized.

But there were no apologies. (Perfect people don’t apologize. What need do they have for apologies?)

He replied again. And again. Both times telling me where to go, telling me to f***off (stopping a smidgen short of using that exact phrase), something along the lines of: “You’re so perfect, carry on. You don’t need me! You need someone to spout praise when it isn’t warranted. Try to sell your books to a universe that yearns for perfection. I’m done.”

I was more than shocked; more than pissed. He didn’t deserve the satisfaction of a further reply. He’s perfect, remember? Nothing I can say will satisfy him (not that I need to satisfy him). I even said I was sorry in my first email. I was sorry? For what?

I wanted to ask: Is your opinion perfect? Are you Perry Perfect? Is that your middle name or your last?

I wanted to say: A little politeness would go along with your so-called perfection. And you’re not a full-fledged editor; you’re a writer, as I am.

I hadn’t realized he expected me to take his every word as gospel. I never expected his offer to read my stories would hurt our friendship—end it, actually. I miss his unexpected visits. I miss his conversation. He had an opinion on everything. Had run-ins with others, too, now that I look back, due to his self-claimed perfectionism, but this was my first battle with him. I should feel special it hadn’t happened before.

Anyhow, life proceeds—for perfect people and for us peons, the non-perfect humans. Perfect Perry has moved on, to a more perfect neighbourhood. To more perfect people, I guess. I’ll be around. He knows where to find me, but those pigheaded perfect people live in their own perfect glass bubbles.

Ironically, the last story I emailed him, the one to substitute the two I had trashed, was titled “Perfect People.”

I’m still a lowly writer, trying to find readers. And who knows, Perfect Perry may be right about my stories. The universe will reveal that in good time. But even the universe must allow differing opinions. Even Stephen Hawking would agree, wouldn’t he?

Perry: I hope you’re happy in your perfect world.

Stephen Hawking: The universe may not allow perfection, but certain people living here think they’re entitled to it. It’s an entitled world now, you know.

RIP Stephen Hawking. RIP.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Millicent Hughes: https://www.danburyonfire.com/



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Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Anyone?

Who doesn’t want anti-wrinkle cream, especially the product that was on Dragon’s Den? I ordered it while on my phone recently, when I was in the car with Hubby (him driving, of course!). The price was great at $2.85 for a fifteen-day sample, and even better in Canadian funds.  I dug out my credit card and placed the order, and within seconds, I received a confirmation email. I didn’t examine it too closely except to see the price of $2.85 and that it was being delivered by Canada Post.

The Riversol ads had been dominating my Facebook feed lately, and I’d read the numerous comments. For some reason, I trusted what I’d read and had been meaning to order for a few months. The Facebook Riversol representative swore that Riversol wasn’t a scam, that it wasn’t a “trial subscription” where the company, unbeknownst to you, dings you monthly and keeps sending product. Posters agreed, yet there were those stating they’d been scammed by other companies and didn’t trust this one and would never order. The company representative continued to back up claims that Riversol was on the level: Three dollars for shipping and that was it; no further charges; no further product.

I should have paid more attention. The day after placing the order, I checked my online credit card statement, as I always do every couple of days, and was surprised to see two charges: one for $2.41 and the other for $1.28, for a total of $3.69. Yes, only a difference of eighty-four cents, but I was a tad perturbed since the site clearly said $2.85. Plus there was an odd notation about U.K. and U.S. funds.

I immediately replied to the confirmation email, asking why the discrepancy. No answer.

A few days ago, I received the shipment and forgot about it until I was in bed the other night. I got up to get it to show it to Hubby. Back in bed, I read the packaging. “It says to apply in a circular motion.”

“How often do you use it?” Hubby asked.

“I don’t know. It doesn’t say. Hmmm, I think I’ll go online and see if there’s further instructions.” I pulled out my tablet.

As soon as I saw the lotions on the Riversol site, I knew something was wrong. The samples looked nothing like what I’d received. I examined the jar. No mention of Riversol. The name on it was Skin Glow*. And then I remembered the $3.00 price of the Riversol and the $2.85 plus I’d been charged.

“Something’s wrong,” I said, bounding out of bed, immediately thinking of the scams. Had I inadvertently signed up for some sort of monthly subscription? I had been scammed a few months previously when booking a hotel while on my cell. I’d been positive I was on the hotel’s website but it turned out I had booked through some scammy U.S. reservation company that charged all sorts of hidden fees and had been diverted from the hotel site to theirs. Had a similar thing happened again? I was positive I’d been on the Riversol site. The site mentioned Dragon’s Den and Vancouver and had the little Canadian flag symbol at the top.

“I gotta check my credit card,” I shrieked, and raced to the computer in my office. Thankfully, my account was fine; no weird charges. I returned to the bedroom for my credit card, returned to the office, and called the number on the back of the card. A recording said one caller was ahead of me.

Within minutes, a pleasant-sounding English-speaking woman answered. I frantically spewed that I needed to cancel my credit card. I relayed how I had ordered something I hadn’t intended to, that it might be a subscription thingie, that it might be a scam. “I need to cancel my card.”

While I yanged on and on, she tried to calm me down. For some reason, I felt I was being scammed again. Had I called MasterCard or Skin Glow? It was unusual to not hear a foreign-speaking person on the other end. The instructions on the phone had advised me to punch in my card number and then the two digits of my year and month of birth, but even despite that, I’ve always been asked a myriad of questions before the individual gave me any information.

But she had all my information at hand, for immediately she asked, “Is it Skin Glow?”

“Yes, it is. They’re gonna charge me again. I need my card cancelled.”

“Calm down, Catherine. Call the 1-800 number on your invoice and tell them to cancel the trial.”

“But I didn’t get an invoice. The cream just came in a box. Nothing else. I need my card cancelled.”

“Here’s the number to call,” and she rattled off a 1-855 number. “Oh, you’ve been charged twice. Another by Skin Glow Online. Here’s that number.”

All the while, I’m thinking: How do you know it’s Skin Glow? Why do you have those numbers so handy?

“Call now,” she said. “They will cancel.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier just to cancel my card?”

“It’s easier to call them. You’ll be without a card for two weeks while another one is being issued. If they give you a hard time, call back and we’ll cancel your card.” She added, “They have to cancel by law. You have fourteen days to do so. If you don’t, they can legally charge you.”

“How do you know all this?” I asked.

She laughed. “Ninety percent of my calls deal with Skin Glow.”

What! I was stunned. “Okay, then. Thanks very much.”

By this time, it was almost midnight. I checked the number of days. I was on Day Nine. I’d call in the morning.

I went back to bed and explained the “scam” to Hubby, who was confused. He couldn’t understand that I DID order Riversol, or at least I thought I did. He didn’t understand the “trial subscription” model. Duh! (He still doesn’t understand how I could have reserved that hotel room in error, either!) I’m very careful with online ordering and decided at that moment I’d never again place orders on my cell phone.

The next morning, I called Skin Glow. The foreign guy who answered must have kept me on the phone for thirty minutes “while the computer was activating the cancellation.” He asked why I was cancelling when I hadn’t even had time to try the product. I repeatedly told him I didn’t want further charges on my card, that I didn’t want to call back later to cancel, that I wanted to cancel now. I’d use the product, and if I liked it, I’d place an order. He gave me so many spiels: he’d give me a thirty-day trial instead of the fifteen-day one; he’d extend it three months. “I’ll even give you six months,” he said. I kept declining; he kept offering. Then, he said he’d reduce the price 25 percent. Then he offered 50 percent off. He was relentless.

I wanted to shriek, “Don’t you understand the meaning of “no”?

Finally, I got rid of him and received the confirmation email that I’d receive no more product nor any more charges.

That night, I ordered Riversol. Three dollars. And I’m positive I was on the correct site. I received the Riversol confirmation email.

I’m using the Skin Glow cream. Who knows, it could work. But their practices are scammy. I checked back on the site. Definitely no fine print to say I’d signed up for a subscription. On the box was fine print that the cream was made in the U.K.

I’ll continue to use the sample of Skin Glow until I receive the Riversol sample. I’ll be back to let you know how the anti-wrinkle creams worked, hopefully to show my younger face!

In the meantime, be careful of online ordering! And stay tuned for updates from a younger me!

*The name of the product is NOT Skin Glow, and hopefully there isn’t such a product because as far as I know I made it up. (Should such a name exist, this is NOT the name of the product I’ve written about and my apologies.) I decided to err on the side of caution and not post the correct name; I don’t need to be sued—even though everything I state here is correct.


Check out TWO EYES OPEN , a just-published anthology of short stories: mystery, thriller, intrigue, horror.

Two Eyes Open FB



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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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