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 Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie. The prompt this time is to use three of the following words in the story: ridicule, laugh, spellbound, following, letter.

Cathy’s most recent publication, BETWEEN THESE PAGES, is a compilation of 18 short stories. The book is available on Amazon and Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/329083

http://www.amazon.com/Between-These-Pages-ebook/dp/B00DP3RDOA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372780978&sr=1-1&keywords=Between+These+Pages

 

The Letter

The letter arrived in the mail on June 7. The addressee, a bit disconcerting, jarred Mildred to attention, and she swiped at a tear. She stared at the tan envelope, noting the missing return address and non-existent stamp. She supposed the mail slipped undetected through the scanner. How else could it have made it to her box? One needed a key to open it. She cringed. Days of home delivery were long gone. Streets lined with mailboxes and red arrows pointing up or down made her feel warm and cozy, like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Oh, for the good old days, she thought. But what the heck. Life moves on. Not like I’m old like my mother or grandmothers, rest their souls. Mildred felt it necessary to add “rest their souls.” She had heard that phrase so many times it was ingrained in her head.

She slammed the door of the mailbox and returned to her car. She threw the several pieces of mail on the passenger seat, ensuring the mailbox key went into her purse. She had lost the key once, only to have Ted, her husband, discover it on the driver’s seat. She wasn’t sure how it landed there. Probably slipped to her lap instead of in her purse or she forgot it was in her hand and let it drop between her legs. Luckily the key hadn’t been lost, or she would’ve had a hassle obtaining a replacement, and, most certainly, it wouldn’t have been an easy feat. Nor cheap. There’d be a fee, for sure. Canada Post wouldn’t give anything away.

Drat passing time and bills and mysteries, she thought, as she drove away. Mildred squinted into the sunlight. What was that ahead? A truck? A moving van? Why was it coming toward her, invading her lane? Where was the white dividing line? Despite sunglasses, the glare blinded her. What the dickens!

Mildred braked—just in time. So did the vehicle ahead, the one careening toward her. She glanced into the rear view mirror to see a van looming. She felt hemmed in, jammed between metal monstrosities, when all she wanted was to return home, plonk into her rocker, sip a cuppa. She rolled her tongue across her lips, tasting the tea she had leisurely sipped that morning—the English tea she loved so well—though she felt the blister on her tongue. And the bubble forming on her lip. I drank it too fast, she thought. Didn’t let it cool enough. Patience wasn’t one of her virtues.

Spellbound, she stared out the windshield. She hadn’t done anything wrong. She simply stopped at the community mailboxes, returned to her car, and drove. Minding her own business, for when did she ever interfere with other’s lives. Never, that’s when. And heck, if the sun happened to blind her, what could she do? And who told those vehicles to follow or drive toward her. No, she was right; they were wrong. Besides, she was in her nineties. Didn’t seniors deserve extra consideration?

A young man peered into her car. Mildred rolled down the window. “What’s wrong?”

“You’re driving too fast, lady.”

“Me?” Mildred looked around.

“Yes, you.”

“I’m just driving home. Need my afternoon tea, you know. And, lookie here.” Mildred produced the mystery letter. “Look at this. A mystery.”

“Mystery? You almost killed me.”

“I did not.”

“You did. Perhaps you’re too old to be driving.” The young man glared at her. “When’s the last time you had a driver’s test?”

“Driver’s test? Me?”

“Yes. You. You’re the problem. You seniors are always the problem. “

“Sonny, watch your tongue. I’m a fine, upstanding citizen.”

“Yeah, right. Kill someone and see what happens to you then.”

“I didn’t kill anyone. I was minding my own business until you arrived.” Mildred paused. “Did I show you my mystery letter?”

The man glared at her. “I don’t care about your letter. I just want to ensure the roads are safe. They’re not safe with you on them, ma’am.”

Mildred opened her mouth, then thought better of it. She could ridicule him all she wanted, but what good would that do? He’d continue to glare, daring her to proceed with her tirade. No, she’d be the good person. She’d shut up.

“I have to go. My tea is waiting.” Mildred rolled up the window. The man, brandishing his arms, sauntered back to his car.

Mildred until the vehicles dispersed. She didn’t want to be accused of any further disturbance. Once alone, she admitted she was, perhaps, too old to drive. But she didn’t want to give up her “wheels,” as the youngsters referred to vehicles. What would she do? There was no public transportation in her residential area. She’d be stuck at home, bored and lonely. No, she couldn’t give up her car. She’d have to be more careful in the future. Her livelihood depended upon it. She didn’t want to wither away like some decrepit old soul without a life.

She drove into the driveway of her small bungalow, grabbed her purse and the mail from the seat, and entered the house. After she put on the kettle, she stared at the mysterious, non-descript envelope. She should toss it in the trash. If someone wasn’t decent enough to affix a return address, she shouldn’t have to waste time opening it. She rationalized a missing return address was the same as a private or blocked number on the telephone. She ignored those phone calls, just as she should ignore unknown envelopes. What if they contained anthrax or another legal powder? What right did people have to disguise themselves, hide behind blocked numbers and missing return addresses? If someone couldn’t announce his or her presence, so be it.

Despite strong feelings of retaliation, she felt pulled toward the plain envelope. Her long nail slid across the flap. She pulled out the paper. One sheet.

The paragraphs—blocks of letters—loomed before her. Though too many words and sentences blurred her eyes, several lifted from the page. The important ones. Estate of Mildred Simpson … tax return … unfiled … penalty … interest … outstanding amount….

Her face flushed, then turned white. What!

Mildred dropped the letter before racing to the mirror. Her face. Was that her? She flattened wayward hairs on the top of her head. I am alive. I’m alive. Dratted mail system. Dratted government. She greedily gulped a needed breath.

Mildred’s next thought was her driver’s license. Had it expired?

 

***

 

The Spot Writers- our members.
 RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

 Val Muller

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

 Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

 Melinda Elmore

http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “Early Decision” by Val Muller

This week the prompt is to use three of the following words in the story: ridicule, laugh, spellbound, following, letter. This week’s post is written by Val Muller, who you can stalk at www.ValMuller.com

 

Early Decision

By Val Muller

“Everything happens for a reason,” Mom said, pushing the milk over to Allie.

“Easy for you to say.” Allie gritted her teeth. “You’ve already been to college. Besides, it wasn’t so competitive when you were a teenager. Parents don’t understand how much pressure is on us these days. If you had my qualifications back in your day, you’d probably be offered a full scholarship to the Ivy of your choice.” She checked her phone.

“Allie, the email said the decision would be posted at 5 p.m. It’s barely past breakfast time.”

Allie sighed. “I know. But all the kids are Tweeting about it. Last year, they posted at 3:00. They did it early because the server always crashes when everyone logs on at once to check. So I thought I’d keep checking.”

“Honey, you might single-handedly crash their server before noon.” Mom sipped her coffee. “I still say everything happens for a reason. Whatever the decision today, it’s the right one. That’s why I say it’s dangerous to get your heart set on something.”Her eyes got far away and dreamy. “I remember going to the mailbox every day senior year. I knew the decision wouldn’t arrive until April, but I checked for a letter nonetheless.” She laughed. “When we were your age, we looked at the size of the envelope. If it was a small letter, it was a rejection. If it was a large envelope or a packet, it was an acceptance. From her bedroom window, my sister always watched me get the mail, and every day I held my hands up, empty, to show her the decision hadn’t come.

“One day, I awoke and I just knew the letter would arrive that afternoon. When I got home from school, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even check the mail. I sent my sister out in my stead, and I watched her carefully, spellbound. She opened the mailbox, her eyes wide. I was so excited, you would have thought she was about to discover the fountain of youth. Her face melted from possibility to despair as she held up a tiny envelope from the college that had stolen my heart. My grades weren’t the greatest, but my guidance counselor told me I had a fair shot at admission. Guess she was wrong.

“I didn’t cry right away, but it hit me later that night. The despair lasted a while. For weeks and months afterward, I didn’t see the good in my life because I was so upset about one thing that I thought was the end of the world. I didn’t appreciate it when my second choice school offered me a half-scholarship. I mean, half off tuition? It was for the birds, I told myself. In fact, I wasted that whole summer—the summer after my senior year, the one that should be happy and carefree—pining away for a school that didn’t want me.

“Looking back on it now, though, that decision was the right one. Everything happens for a reason. After all, if I hadn’t been rejected from my first choice, I would never have met your father. And then you and your brother would never have been born. The world would be a different place. It was meant to be.”

Allie shrugged. “Easy for you to say. What if my future husband is at my first choice school?”

“Hindsight,” Mom said. “We can’t know what’s meant to be until we experience it and see fate’s true plan for us. You just have to be patient.”

Allie huffed and checked her phone again. “Nothing yet.” She took a bite of her cereal and sent out the first of many Tweets. “It’s gonna be a long day.”

The Spot Writers- our members.

RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller

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

Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Melinda Elmore

http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Shadow of the Mountain” by Cathy MacKenzie

Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie. The prompt this time was to write a story using five of the following words: shadow, mountain, shell, sunlight, hammock, bottle, chain, wheel.

 

Cathy’s most recent publication, BETWEEN THESE PAGES, is a compilation of 18 short stories. The book is available on Amazon and Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/329083

http://www.amazon.com/Between-These-Pages-ebook/dp/B00DP3RDOA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372780978&sr=1-1&keywords=Between+These+Pages

 

 

Shadow of the Mountain

 

The shadow of the mountain brushed over Sheila as she peered over the cliff’s edge. The long way down scared her, as it would anyone. She turned from the craggy view and faced the mountain. The dark monstrosity loomed back at her, daring her to do the deed.

“You can’t stop me,” she muttered.

She’d return later. She wouldn’t change her mind.

Upon returning to the camp, the first sight she saw was Steve flaked out on the hammock. The last remnants of sunlight glanced across the beer cans on the folding table beside him. Drunk again, she thought. Did he ever remain sober? How much more could she tolerate?

Sheila’s stomach growled, but she had no desire to cook dinner. What was the use? Should she prepare a last dinner for her husband? No, what a waste of food, not to mention her time.

She rummaged in the cooler for the half sub sandwich she hadn’t eaten the previous day. The bread would be soggy and the lettuce wilted, but she didn’t care. Leftovers would fill the void. And there was that unopened bag of chocolate chip cookies. A few of those would take away the hunger. Chocolate chip cookies were her favourite.

When Sheila flipped the metal tab on the soda can, Steve stirred. Just as I expected, she thought.

“Wha’s for dinna?”

“I just finished my sub. Now I’m eating cookies.” Sheila stuffed her mouth with the sweet goodness.

“What about me?”

“What about you?”

Sheila acknowledged his glare. “I’ll make you something. What do you want?”

“Dunno.” Steve, in his attempt to get out of the hammock, fell to the ground.

Sheila giggled. Would he have bruises? Didn’t matter.

“Hey,” she said. “I took a walk earlier, while you were sleeping. There’s a gorgeous view not minutes away. Let’s go take a look before it gets dark. Then I’ll make you dinner.”

“What? But I’m hungry now.” Steve slurred his words.

Sheila relished her husband’s drunkenness. Her task would be so easy.

“It’s only a few minutes away. Come on, it’ll be fun.”

She walked toward Steve, who still remained on the ground. “Here, let me help you up.” Sheila hated the touch of him. Hated the thought of his hand clenched in hers. But she had to continue the charade. Only a few more minutes. Not long. She could do it.

“Come on.” She gripped Steve’s arm. “You okay?”

“I think I had too many beer on an empty stomach.”

“You only had two.” She hadn’t had trouble counting two cans.

“Two? No, I think I had more than that.” Steve giggled.

“Oh.” Recognition dawned. “You were into the rum, too?”

“Possibly.”

“Right.” She should have known. The sun didn’t glint on the plastic glasses strewed on the grass, nor the empty bottle tossed by the tent.

“Okay, let’s go. I’ll lead, okay?”

“Sure, honey. Whatever you want. Always whatever you want.”

Sheila ignored him and continued to drag him to the cliff’s edge.

“See,” she said, once they arrived.

“See what?”

“Look at that view. The land on the other side. The mountain behind us. It’s getting darker now. It was prettier when the sun shone down.”

“It is pretty. You’re pretty. Think we can do it tonight?”

“Tonight?”

“Yeah, you know. It. Sex.”

“I don’t know. I’m getting a headache.”

“Headache?  Now?”

“Well, I feel one coming on. Might have one later, I don’t know.” Sheila stared at her husband. Definitely drunk, yet he still thought of sex? Sure, she thought, that’s what men did. Sex always on their minds.

Suddenly, she felt as free as the wild black crows that landed every day in their front yard. She had watched the birds on occasion, wondering what how it felt to sweep down and accomplish a perfect landing on the grass. Did crows know how well they did? Despite their savage look—their evilness—they were graceful as they soared and landed. Sure, they scavenged, ready to pick at the remains of anything they found, but they were fighters. They existed for themselves. They did what they needed to survive.

As she would. Once Steve was gone, she wouldn’t have to feign headaches any longer. Wouldn’t have to lie. Wouldn’t have to pretend.

She could be herself.

“Over here,” Sheila said. “Come closer.” She grasped his hand. “Look.” She pointed down to the water.

“It looks pretty far down there. You’re not suggesting we go down?”

“No, of course not. Just wanted you to see it. There’s currents down there, too. Look over there.” Sheila pointed toward the west where the water flowed fast and furious over rocks and brush jutting from the water.

Steve turned. Sheila turned, too, in an attempt to move behind him, so she could gently push him over. Yes, she’d be gentle. He deserved that, didn’t he? One last gentle thrust. He’d never know what hit him.

But, when she took one step, she noticed he moved, as well. His eyes, wild and menacing like the crows sprinting across their yard, burned into hers. Mesmerized, she stared. Movement happened fast. Fast, yet slow. Steve’s large hand hit her behind. Not gentle. Not gentle like she would have been. They were inches away from the edge. She had gotten too close. Hadn’t planned carefully enough.

Steve was drunk, wasn’t he? That was her second-to-last thought, just before her feet left the safety of the ground and she was propelled into the air. That one bum-tap had done it. But no, it was more than a tap. It was a push! He had pushed her. Not gentle at all.

When she hung—just for a second, just a mere second—over the boulders jutting from the shoreline below, she remembered the crows. Her last thought. The blackness before her. Black like crows. She flapped her arms, brandishing them through the air, hoping she’d land as graceful as those crows in her front yard.

 

***

The Spot Writers- our members.
 RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

 Val Muller

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

 Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

 Melinda Elmore

http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “Ghost” by Val Muller

Today’s story comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series (check it out at http://www.CorgiCapers.com). The prompt was to write a story using the following words: shadow, mountain, shell, sunlight, hammock, bottle, chain, wheel.

Ghost

By Val Muller

The day had come, and those without the implants were labeled rogues. With no chip, one could not be scanned, nor one’s account credited for groceries or medical care or rent or energy. One could not enter the gyms or travel the subway, utilize the network, or sign in and out for work. With no chip, one became a ghost.

“You’ll be arrested, Bill.”

“Fined.”

“Jailed.”

“Implanted.”

His parents tried to warn him.

His girlfriend pouted. “We won’t be able to get married. The government’s very strict about registr—”

Bill sighed, and he avoided eye contact. He looked down, glimpsing the fresh wound on his girlfriend’s wrist. How could she be so selfish? It was disgusting.

“Bill?” Mom asked.

He shook his head. His parents had caved in first. At their age, who would forego the possibility of medical care?

“What about standing alone?” Bill asked. “You always taught me to be independent.”

Mom frowned. “I also told you when to know the right thing to do.”

“Implanting myself is not the right thing.”

His father looked down at the scar on his own wrist, scratching the implant that rested just below the skin. “You can be independent all the way to the grave,” he said. “Age changes a man. When death sneaks up on you, there’s no telling what you’ll do for just a little more time. Could be that you’ll be sorry before the end.”

Bill turned toward the mountain. He didn’t want to remember his family this way: they were shells of their former selves. Lilly had lost all her fighting spirit. Dad lost his spark. Mom was more complacent than ever. Bill cleared his throat and turned toward the load in the trunk.

Mom spoke behind his back. “You know we could get in trouble just for being here with you today. They might be tracking us.”

“They are tracking you.” Bill pulled out a heavy hiking pack. “That’s the whole point. They’re probably tracking you right now.”

“We have our cover story.” Dad stepped away, giving Bill room to adjust the pack. He looked like if he touched the pack himself, he might melt. “We drove out to the woods to look for you. If we found you, we were gonna turn you in. Isn’t that right, Lilly?”

Lilly frowned. “And I was gonna take you to get married after you were labeled.”

“And after you served your jail time for running,” Mom added.

“It’ll never happen.” Bill adjusted the straps of his pack. He opened the trunk’s spare tire compartment and took out the winter chains. Never know what might come in handy up in the mountains. Then he grabbed the tire iron and took out a large plastic water bottle. He closed the trunk and took one last look at his family. “I can cut those out, you know. The scar won’t look much different from the one that’s already there. There’s plenty of room in these mountains for four.”

Lilly shook her head. “We’re only in our thirties. We’ve got decades more to live. Do you know how long that is when you’re on your own?”

“Do you know how long that is when someone’s telling you what to do all the time?” Bill bit his lip.

His dad cleared his throat. “It’s dangerous in those mountains. All kinds of wildlife. Read stories all the time about people dying from a simple infection. Don’t want that to happen to you.”

He turned to his father. “A wise man once told me: a coward dies a thousand deaths. A brave man dies but once.”

Dad frowned. “The man who told you that must have grown up. That’s a crazy man’s maxim.”

“Then call me crazy. Men weren’t born to live restricted. Someone’s got to take a stand.”

Lilly crossed her arms. “But it won’t mean anything. No one will even know you’re taking a stand. No one will even know you’re alive. You’ll be a ghost.”

“You’ll know I’m alive. You’ll know where I am, that I’m taking a stand. And if I do become a ghost, let me be one that won’t let you rest until you pick up where I left off.”

His parents were quiet.

He turned to his father. “And one day, before the end, you’ll think of me, and you’ll realize I did the right thing, and somewhere in there, you’ll feel a mix of pride and regret, knowing that your son did the thing you should have done yourself, the very thing you taught him to do. I’m Tom Joad—”

“Who?” But Lilly’s wrist scanner beeped under her skin. She had used her allotted time on the vehicle, and she had a half hour to return to her home. Mom looked away, fighting tears.

Bill didn’t speak as he turned around, and he didn’t look back. Instead, he hiked up the mountains into the sunlight. He wouldn’t reach his planned campsite for another day and a half. A rough, portable hammock awaited him for a bed that night, his medical care was contained in his pack, and his evening meal still roamed wild in the forest. It would be a rough life, but it would be his all the way. And he knew that at the end, whether tomorrow or ten decades away, he would have no regrets.

The Spot Writers- our members.
 RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

 Val Muller

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

 Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

 Melinda Elmore

http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – `The Ring` by RC Bonitz.

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week the prompt is to use five of the following words in the story: shadow, mountain, shell, sunlight, hammock, bottle, chain, wheel

 Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL, A LITTLE BIT OF BABY, and A BLANKET FOR HER HEART.  

 Next week’s story will be by Val Muller, author of FOR WHOM MY HEART BEATS ETERNAL, a sci-fi romance, and CORGI CAPERS: DECEIT ON DORSET DRIVE, a mystery novel for young readers.

 

The Ring

Fresh out of the shower after cleaning up some poison ivy, I was sitting down to lunch with my Granny Annie. Sunlight streamed in through her kitchen windows. She stood at the stove making her fried egg bacon sandwiches I loved so much, drowned in catsup and her secret blend of spices, yum.

“We have visitors,” she said suddenly, staring out the window at the wagon wheel gate beside the road.

Now unannounced visitors made for an event. You see, Granny lived in the shadow of a mountain, half way to the summit. The only way to get to her place was by the dirt road up the mountain. I stood up and joined her at the window.

I saw the woman first, did I ever. A twenty year old Kate Beckinsale she was, oh boy. Standing by Granny’s wheel, she was talking to a man perched on the big flat boulder next to Granny’s mailbox. I took in that much of the scene before Granny shoved me out the door and down the path. Not that I needed much shoving.

“You folks lost?” I asked, grinning like a fool at Kate.

The man spun around and smiled. “No, we’re hiking up the road. To the summit.” White haired, Granny’s age, he gave her the once over. “Just thought we’d take a break on your rock here.”

“It’s a long hike to the top,” Granny said.

“It’s not bad,” the man said, smiling.

“You must be an athlete,” Granny said.

The man laughed and shook his head. “I go dancing a lot. That keeps me in shape.”

“Would you like a drink of something?” Granny said, friendly as all get out. I stared at her. I mean, Granny’s not one to welcome strangers over much. She likes her privacy. That’s why she stayed on the mountain when Pops died a few years ago.

I caught Kate’s eye. She gave me a dazzling smile. It was time I found out her real name. I offered my hand.

“Greg Hawkins. Nice to meet you,” I said.

“Lois Ryder. Thank you. If you could fill our water bottles, we’d appreciate it.”

“Be glad to,” I said and took the bottles she offered. I started back to the house, but she didn’t follow, darn it.

“Do you like to dance?” the man asked Granny as I strode up to the house.

I didn’t hear Granny’s answer but I didn’t need to. She and Pops used to go dancing all the time before he got sick. I scooted into the house, filled the bottles and hurried back outside. Granny and the old man were deep in conversation by the gate. Lois met me on the path.

“Thank you,” she said as I held up the bottles.

“They seem to be hitting it off, Are you related?” I said with a nod toward the old folks.

“He’s my Grandpa. They’re making a date to go dancing.”

I took a deep breath. Time to try my luck. “Do you like to dance?”

“I love it.”

“Would you like to go?”

Her eyes twinkled, then she frowned. She held up her left hand, palm down. A ring sparkled on her fourth finger “Sorry, I’m spoken for.”

 

The Spot Writers- our members.

RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

 Val Muller

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

 Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

 Melinda Elmore

http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

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The Spot Writers – “Frozen in Time” by Cathy MacKenzie

The theme of this week (“I’m so cold my bones have frozen”) is appropriate, as winter temperatures seem to be here forever, at least for author Cathy MacKenzie.  Her most recent publication, BETWEEN THESE PAGES, is a compilation of 18 short stories. The book is available on Amazon and Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/329083

http://www.amazon.com/Between-These-Pages-ebook/dp/B00DP3RDOA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372780978&sr=1-1&keywords=Between+These+Pages

  

Frozen in Time

Until Vivian heard her husband’s voice, she wondered if she had actually spoken.

“What?” John said.

Despite the cold, warm relief rushed through her body at his reply. She yearned to touch him, but her arms were bolted to her sides. Icy crisps filled her mouth when she attempted to speak, but she made another attempt.

“So cold. Freezing.”

“You’re always cold,” John said.

“No, it’s truly cold, John. It is. So cold I can barely breathe.” She swallowed more frosty crystals, which melted as they cruelly descended down her throat. John was a raging furnace, especially in bed, unlike Vivian who was continually chilled and craved his warmth on winter nights. A vision of the two of them snuggling in bed formed before her.

Panic set in when he didn’t reply. “Can you hear me? John?”

“I hear you.”

“Cold. Very cold. Where are you?” Vivian said. The arctic hardness weighting her down was colder and longer-lasting than any other she had experienced. She hated the cold, always had.

“Vivian?”

“I’m here. Can’t see.” Though it took great effort to open her mouth and Vivian felt she should conserve her energy, she had to talk to her husband. Had to know he was near despite the glacial dankness.

Vivian heard a muffled reply. At least she thought she did. Had he spoken? Why couldn’t she see him?

“Can you see me?” she said.

In the muted silence, time remained still. Frozen. Could they be? Or was it just her? Vivian remembered the day—or thought she had. Had she and John gone skiing, as they usually did on the weekends? It was still winter, right? To whom was she talking? Was John there?

“John?”

“I’m here.”

“What’s happening? Where are we?”

“I…not sure,” he said, hesitation and uncertainty obvious in his voice.

“Are we in a dream? Am I dreaming? I can usually wake myself out of a dream, when I want to. I want to now. But I can’t.”

“Vivian, that’s hogwash. If you can do that, then you’re not really asleep. I’ve told you that before.”

“Just humour me. Try to wake yourself up, John.”

Vivian heard nothing in response but the cold. Could one hear cold? Certain she could, she shivered though tightly encased in her arctic prison. Pressure numbed her ears as liquid trudged down her eardrums.

John was trying to wake up, she knew it. Both of them must awake from the horrid dream they were immersed in. But when had they ever shared the same nightmare? When had they ever discussed dreaming within a dream?

“No, I’m still awake,” John said. “Or asleep. Whatever I am. Nothing’s changed.”

Vivian would have sighed in desperate resignation, had she been able to. But a swallow of another clump of ice crisps was all she could muster.

“Vivian…I…love…”

Silence ruled. Although it seemed a lifetime elapsed, Vivian knew it was merely minutes. How could a life pass by that fast?

“Vivian, you there?” John’s voice sounded weaker.

“Yes…here. But… I’m sinking, John. Sinking somewhere…not sure where… I…” She closed her mouth, then parted her lips. The life sucked from her. Although unable to utter her last words—“I’m so cold my bones have frozen”—she suspected John already knew.

***

The Spot Writers- our members: 

RC Bonitz
http://www.rcbonitz.com

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

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

Melinda Elmore
http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

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The Spot Writers – `Starscape` by Val Muller

The theme of this week (“I’m so cold my bones have frozen”) is appropriate, as winter temperatures seem to have temporarily snapped back for author Val Muller. She is the author of the Corgi Capers mystery series, the sci-fi romance For Whom My Heart Beats Eternal, and the supernatural chiller Faulkner’s Apprentice, and hopes that spring weather returns soon.

Starscape

By Val Muller

The place is so quiet, I can’t be sure it’s real. The landscape is cold and barren. Not just inhumane. Inhuman. This was always a risk. I knew it when I signed up. We were counseled, told to expect something like this. Told what it would be like to be the last one remaining. It was never a likelihood, but it was always a possibility. They gave me a tiny capsule to swallow, but I never intended to go out that way.

Of course, it had to be me, the unlucky survivor.

I know how much they invested in me—in us—so I followed training protocol to the very last command. After landing, I launched the probes, took the readings, the pictures, the samples, sent back the communications, and launched the craft that would take the samples back to Earth. And now, according to protocol, I wait. There’s supposed to be another cohort coming. But in the meantime I’m supposed to be here colonizing. Terraforming. I’m supposed to be building a community and reporting back on the possibility of procreation.

All of these objectives are impossible with a party of one.

I haven’t gone to the settlement for three days now. I’ve been sitting up here on my cliff. I call it “Loverlook.” It’s “lover” plus “overlook” combined. When we got here, I was supposed to mate-up with one of the other astronauts. We were matched genetically, though I don’t think we would have chosen each other on Earth. Anyway, since I erected the settlement, I’ve spent more time up here than down there. I would sit up here and imagine I was back on Earth in some kind of romanticized version of life based on every 1950’s movie I’ve ever seen. I’m the beautiful, rebellious teenager, and I’ve snuck up here to “Loverlook” to be with my lover, the one my parents don’t approve of. You know, we just got back from a burger and shake at the dairy barn, and now we’re watching the stars through his open-topped convertible. I used to talk to him, my imaginary mate, but now I just keep it all in my head.

The cities I saw sparkling below as the sun set over the Martian desert—those cities exist only in my mind. But my mind has been quieting lately. I’m having trouble seeing those cities. When I first arrived, I really saw them in my mind’s eye. I saw them as our future. Not 1950, and not 2050, but maybe 2150. Maybe there would be all manner of sparkly diners and open-topped convertibles and people on roller-skates living life like it was simple again.

But those pictures have faded in my mind’s eye. I have received no more communication from Earth. They must know I’m still alive, but no one on Earth likes upsetting news. I accepted long ago that they’re ignoring me until I go away. Now, from Loverlook, I see only the rocks. The landscape reminds me of the Wild West, only more barren, if that is possible.

I expected something when I came here. The mystery of life solved, maybe, or some deep insight into the human condition.

Not emptiness. Something.

Something like—I don’t know. When I was younger, I read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I don’t remember a lot of details, but I remember the feeling of the book. There was such a striving among the characters, a desire to pick up the pieces of something lost. To continue a civilization despite past mistakes. There was one part where the main characters are looking for Martians, and they end up looking into a body of water to see them—looking into a body of water to see their own reflection. They were the things they sought.

And now I think I’ve come all the way to Mars to realize my own paradox. In this awful Martian silence, I’ve learned that the things I sought were always with me. The things I sought were always there on Earth, dispersed among me and the millions of souls with whom I used to share the human condition. It took unimaginable miles and uncountable resources to teach me that the thing I sought, I already had.

I’m enlightened now, and I think it’s time to go. I know I won’t have much time once I pull off the mask. The terraforming has hardly begun to work, and it certainly hasn’t done a thing for elevations like Loverlook. But I don’t need time—hardly any at all. I just want to see the stars shine one more time, the way they looked from Earth—through my bare eyes, the eyes of a dreamer, and not through the shield of a mask.

They twinkle. Little winks, like shared secrets they’re allowing me to hear just this one last time. They send a shiver through my body, and I feel the shiver fly faster than light to someone back on Earth, a girl not unlike me, who is lying in a grassy field looking up at the very same stars and wishing and dreaming and finding out what human means. With another shiver I fly back to Mars and return to myself, and my eyes feel strange and dry in the Martian atmosphere. Then I shudder with understanding and plaster a smile on my face before I can realize that I’m so cold, my bones are frozen with the rest of me, looking out at my eternal starscape from my lonely perch of Loverlook.

The Spot Writers- our members: 

RC Bonitz
http://www.rcbonitz.com

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

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

Melinda Elmore
http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “My Favorite Colour Tastes Like…” by Melinda Elmore

Another belated post. The challenge was to write something beginning with “My favorite colour tastes like…”

Today’s writing comes to us from Melinda Elmore. Her most recent publication, Blood on the Feather and Shall We Dance, is mixture of mystery and murder and a sweet Halloween tale. The books are available on Amazon and my publisher, Dancing with Bear Publishing.

 

My favorite colour tastes like….

The dew on a new morning leaf

The sparkling drops tingles the mouth

Leaving one to mesmerize the taste across their lips.

 

My favorite colour tastes like….a Hersey’s Kiss….

Chocolaty, divine….never-ending…..

Melts in the mouth from the warmth of the sensations

 

My favorite colour tastes like…an Arizona sunset

Full of color and breathtaking…..

 

My favorite colour tastes like…..

The sound of the flute…..

Soothing and musical.

 

My favorite colour tastes like….

My family….

Full of unconditional love.

 

My favorite colour tastes like….

Love….

Heart feeling and full of emotions.

 

My favorite colour tastes like….

Friendship…

Being there for everybody you can…

 

My favorite colour tastes like…..

Life….

Full of vibrant sensations for total enjoyment.

 

 

The Spot Writers- our members: 

RC Bonitz
http://www.rcbonitz.com

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

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

Melinda Elmore

http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Too Late,” by RC Bonitz

I’m doing catch-up today. Due to the loss of my computer and tablet, I wasn’t able to stay on top of the Thursday Spot Writers’ posting. This “belated” post comes from RC Bonitz, author of A Blanket for Her Heart. The theme here is – “My favorite color is x and it tastes like…”

Too Late

I hate it when I wake up in the middle of the night like this. Something, a noise, whatever drags me out of sleep and then I can’t get back to dreamland for hours.

Light from the street steals around the edges of the blinds, casting phantom shapes and shadows in my bedroom. Freaks me out sometimes, especially when the house creaks too.

What was that? Something sliding, a window, the glass door in the family room? I’m awake now, yes I am. There’s silence again, did I imagine the noise? No!

Footsteps now, sneaky, moving through the house? This can’t be happening, must be my imagination, has to be a dream.

The floor creaks, the kitchen door squeaks, oh God, someone’s in my house! I grab the bedside phone. Too late, it’s dead!

I have to get away. I throw back the covers and jump from my bed. I’ll go out the window, quiet as I can. Or should I shout and try to scare him off? Too late, the bedroom door swings open and the light goes on. He’s there, a man, dressed in black, a very shiny knife in his hand.

He smiles, an evil, vicious smile it is. “Well, well, what have we here.”

“Go away. I called the police,” I shriek.

“Not on that phone you didn’t”

I’m trembling, shaking, scared to death. There’s something about this guy. “What do you want? Take anything, I don’t care.”

His smile becomes more sinister. “Don’t worry I will. What’s your favorite color?”

“What?”

He glances around the room. “Looks like you like blue I guess. Dull color if you ask me.”

I’m shaking now. What an insane question.

He takes a step closer, and then another. “Now me, my favorite color is red. Have you ever tasted red?”

I try to back away, but he matches me step for step. I’m up against the wall now. “What? No, I don’t know.”

Sure you have. Wine, jelly, tomato. Now me, I like something stronger. Bet you can’t guess what.”

I can’t speak, can only shake my head.

He switches now and simply stares at me. I cringe, my heart stops at the evil in his eyes.

“Blood,” he says, so softly I can barely hear him.

He takes one more step closer and swishes the knife through the air, back and forth in front of me, coming closer all the time. “I’m not a vampire. I just like the taste of blood.”

This can’t be real, must be a dream, but he’s right there in front of me. The knife comes slashing at my throat. I throw up my hands to block it. Too late, oh God, too late.

***

The Spot Writers- our members: 

RC Bonitz
http://www.rcbonitz.com

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

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

Melinda Elmore
http://www.authormelindaelmore.blogspot.com/

 

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