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The Spot Writers – Poseidon’s Consort” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week’s prompt is to use the following words in a poem or a story: besides, fishes, inn, owing, born.

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Learn more at http://www.corgicapers.com.

Poseidon’s Consort by Val Muller

Shivering in the sea breeze in the setting sun, Amphitrite made her way to the only inn in town. She already missed the calm, perpetual whirl of the ocean, the warmth of water. The air made everything feel too cold and open, even as it carried the comforting, salty scent, reminding her that home was only a few steps away…

Besides, she reminded herself, this little trip was her choice.

The inn smelled of humans and earthy, old, stagnant scents. The air lacked the fluidity of water. Someone was cooking a stew or a chowder, but it smelled more of chickens and boiled onions than of fishes.

Amphitrite approached the innkeeper. She had to do this, she reminded herself. Poseidon had been raging too long, and she needed a break. Why she was the only being who could calm his tempestuous rage was beyond her. Normally she just dealt with it and kept the balance of the sea, but tonight she had enough. Not even the dolphins or the whales could calm her.

“Needing a room?” the innkeeper asked. He wiped his hands on a rag and sized her up. His eyes remained dim, seeming unimpressed with what he saw.

She nodded and adjusted the scarf around her hair, her dry and baggy clothes, trying to absorb his accent. Humans had such awful nuances in dialect and diction. But before she could answer, a man broke through the door, his hair wild and eyes wide, no doubt owing to the wind battering against the door.

“Storm! Tempest!” he yelled. “Poseidon’s enraged!”

A barrage of men, mostly sailors, hurried in and pushed past Amphitrite. The innkeeper screamed over their frantic din, their worries over Poseidon’s mood and the fate of their ships.

“Must be a spat with his missus,” one said.

The innkeeper’s hands grew heavy with the coins he collected as all the rooms were rented out, two or three or more men to a bed. Desperation and panic at the storm turned to banter as the men turned to drinking and tales. The innkeeper could finally turn back to Amphitrite, forgotten and pushed to the corner. He apologized for the lack of rooms. Amphitrite smiled, letting her hair out of its scarf and letting her eyes glow like sea jewels. She did not disguise her voice but instead let it flow melodious like the sea. Before long, he’d invited her to his own private quarters, recent widower that he was.

She smiled, knowing after a night with her, once she returned to the sea to calm her husband’s rage, the innkeeper would rename the inn for her and send her golden coins each week, ones that sparkled when the sun filtered through the saltwater. She would feed his business, for a time, with her little trysts to dry land, allowing her husband to rage now and then, driving business to the inn. How fun it would be to see how many coins the innkeeper would send her way.

She let her dress slip from her shoulder. The innkeeper was nothing special, but he was an authority figure here in this little town by the sea, whatever it was called. What harm could it do? After all, she thought as she led him to his room by the hand, like a mermaid or a siren pulling a catch beneath the waves, why should Zeus have all the fun?

***

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.ca/

 

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

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Tree of Dorian Gray” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is a story about a tree of (any type of) significance that is cut or falls down.

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

***

The Tree of Dorian Gray

by Chiara De Giorgi

 

Do you remember the first time you acted badly? I mean consciously. Like, for example you told a lie and were aware that your lie would damage another; or you stole something with the clear purpose of hurting someone. Me, I think I was seven, and I did both.

 

I was angry with Toby, my neighbor and class-mate. We had spent a whole afternoon together at his place, working on a school project. It was about ecology. We built a model of a landscape with pebbles and leaves, I think it was really cute in the end. The following morning, Toby fell down the stairs while he was carrying the model. He broke his arm, and the model. Miss Brown was very sympathetic and gave us another week to bring in another one, but I was upset. He should have been more careful. So I planned my revenge.

A few weeks later, it was Laura and Mindy’s turn to present their project, I think it was a pyramid or something, I don’t remember. Anyway, during lunch I stole it and hid it inside Toby’s schoolbag. Then I went to Miss Brown and told her I had seen Toby steal and hide the girls’ model. Toby was punished, both by Miss Brown and his own parents, and I felt bad. Not enough, though, to gather enough courage and tell the truth.

I was ashamed of myself for what I’d done, and ran to the woods, screaming and crying. I stopped by a large tree and told it everything. When my speech was over, I realized I could blame Toby: hadn’t he crushed our model, nothing would have happened. I felt better at once, and I went back home.

 

After that, I got used to going to the large tree every time I did something that bothered my conscience. Soon I noticed that the tree was slowly rotting away. The more the tree decomposed, the less my conscience bothered me, until one day I realized I could do anything I wanted and not be bothered at all.

By then I was older and read “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. How I loved that book! I named my tree “The Tree of Dorian Gray”, and felt completely free for the first time in my life. I could be and do whatever I wanted, the tree would rot and I would stay spotless. Incredibly, none of my malfeasances caused people to dislike or accuse me. It was always somebody else who paid the price in the end.

I should have known that it couldn’t last forever.

 

When the first injunction reached me, and then the second, and the third… I realized something must have happened. I went to the woods and saw: Where so many tall trees used to grow, concealing “my” tree from the view, now was a construction site. There were no trees anymore.

 

I know what awaits me now: injunctions will keep coming and coming, every wrong I’ve ever made in the dark will be exposed.

It’s over.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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The Spot Writers – “Jason’s Revenge” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. May’s prompt is to write a story about a character playing a prank on another. 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.

https://www.amazon.com/Body-Sacristy-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07CK94SKV/

*****

Jason’s Revenge

By Phil Yeats (a.k.a. Alan Kemister)

Jason sidled through a secondary entrance and headed home. The posse caught up within a block. When one of his grade twelve classmates kept him behind to explain a lesson, he knew they would.

“Hey, Romeo,” a posse member exclaimed. “You should be hustling the delectable Ellen McNair, not helping pathetic losers who can’t do their homework.”

“What!” Jason replied. They always tormented him, but this thrust was unexpected.

“Don’t give us that shit. We saw you and Ellen with your heads together. You better get your member in there before Butch beats the crap out of you.”

Jason turned to confront his adversaries. If they told their distorted story to her boyfriend, his life was toast. He knew she was trouble and avoided her like the plague, but she’d cornered him with endless questions about her classwork.

“I was helping the dumb bitch. Ellen hasn’t a clue about math.”

“Careful, dude,” one replied. “Ellen’s okay, and we’ve heard she’s hot for you.”

“No way! She wouldn’t acknowledge my existence if she didn’t need help with her homework.”

Knut, the head of the posse, shook his head. “You got it wrong, man. Ellen thinks you’re the deep, dark intellectual. The guy who’ll be leaning back in his fancy black leather chair in the executive suite when Butch is digging ditches.”

Jason shook his head and sauntered away, hoping they only meant to tease him. His nonchalance was fake. If he stayed and argued, they might turn violent.

“Trust us, man,” Knut called out. “Come to the beach tomorrow afternoon and give her a little encouragement. She’ll melt in your arms.”

 

The next afternoon, Jason spotted Ellen talking to three girls. No way she’s interested but maybe one of the others… “Hey, Ellen, how’s it going?”

“Bugger off, you stupid twerp. At school, I might need your help with an assignment, but here…” she gazed at the bikini-clad girls and macho guys, “I have better things to do.”

Within seconds, Butch towered over him, rhythmically pounding his right fist into his left palm. Off to the side, Knut and his posse were killing themselves laughing. Jason realized he’d been set up.

Butch launched his attack before Jason could talk his way out. He ducked the first blow and landed two good punches before Butch’s size and strength prevailed. Jason went down.

After a vicious kick, Butch and three girls sauntered away without giving Jason another glance. The final girl, a cute pixie with glasses who always wore her long brown hair in a ponytail, knelt beside Jason. Her name was Kristin.

“Are you okay?” she asked as he struggled to sit. She put her arms around him and gave him a big hug. It hurt, but he didn’t care. “That was like so totally unfair.”

Jason glanced at Knut’s posse as Kristin helped him to his feet. They were no longer laughing.

Jason and Kristin strutted past Butch and Ellen to the snack bar where Jason purchased sodas. They snuggled on a bench and sipped their drinks. The rest, as they say, is history.

*****

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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The Spot Writers – “Painted Red” by Eric Egger

Welcome to The Spot Writers. May’s prompt is to write a story about a character playing a prank on another. This week’s story comes from a guest writer to the group. Eric Egger is founder and publisher at Freedom Forge Press, a press dedicated to celebrating freedom and the spirit of the individual.

***

Painted Red

By Eric Egger

 

Every “i” had been dotted, every “t” had been crossed. Charles glanced at his beachside café, surveying every detail. The menu sparkled. The chrome napkin holders reflected the setting ocean side sun. The café’s pristine magnitude was overshadowed only by the pride in Charles’ eyes.

William poked Xavier in the ribs. Their roommate had worked so hard for his new business, and evening-before-opening-day-jitters wasn’t making him any more relaxed. The guy needed a laugh. They couldn’t wait to see the look on his face…

They did it just as rehearsed. William arrived with a stack of mail dated two weeks prior and a look of concern. He pretended to emerge from the sidewalk, spotting Xavier randomly.

“X, I think this is yours.” William held out an envelope from the credit card company.

Xavier feigned surprise. “Damn, I was wondering when that bill would arrive. Where the hell was it?”

William case his eyes downward just like they rehearsed. “Sorry, man. This whole stack of mail musta slid behind the couch.” He spoke louder than necessary, seeking Charles’ reaction in his periphery.

But Charles was all business. He’d spent hours battling city hall for permits, researching state and local laws, taking all the right people out to dinner… and all he ever talked about was all the red tape he had to slice through to open up a simple beach-side restaurant. Rules this and regulations that.

William flipped through a few additional envelopes and put on his best and most convincing look simulating both horror and shame. “William, there’s one here for you too…uh…it looks like it might be important.”

The government seal was easy enough to grab off the city’s website. The rest almost came naturally. “Board of Business Equalization and Regulation,” the city hall mailing address, even some official sounding text about “applicant’s proposed color scheme was deemed not in keeping with the objectives of the Board of Equalization action zone.

Charles’ eyes popped open as he grabbed the letter and quickly read its contents. His demeanor shifted as nervous energy transformed almost alchemically into righteous indignation.

“Where was this letter, Bill? It was postmarked two weeks ago!” The rage was building.

“Sorry Charles, like I said…behind the couch. Is it about your café?”

“Those bastards said they’re denying an occupancy permit because the color scheme of my umbrellas and awning aren’t uniform and don’t match the city’s approved color palette. What the fu—reaking hell am I supposed to do about that now? I was supposed to have my opening day tomorrow and they sent this two weeks ago and I’m just seeing it now for the first time because you constantly let the house become a hobo crap pile!”

“Whoa, Charl—” William began a feigned protest, but couldn’t finish as Charles made a bee line for the door and slammed it closed behind him.

Xavier looked sheepishly at William. “Think we should tell him it’s just a joke?”

“Nah, he’ll be ok, just needs to blow off some steam.”

***

The next morning William and Xavier looked for Charles in their apartment but couldn’t find him anywhere. He hadn’t come home last night, and the roommates were getting worried. They walked a few blocks over to the café, where they found a bleary eyed and paint splattered Charles painting over his awnings.

“All right! Hey, first customers!” Charles greeted his roommates with a sleep deprived grin. “No problem, I took my phone to the hardware store, matched up the color from the approved color swatch and painted all the umbrellas and awnings overnight. The website said any letter with deficiencies that weren’t structural or safety related could be used as a temporary occupancy permit as long as I maintained adequate records to prove that I made the changes scheduled a re-inspection within 21 days of the letter. Even though it was 2 weeks ago, I still had 6 days left. So I’m officially open for business!”

Xavier and William looked back and forth sheepishly. The prior maroon and navy combination had looked just fine, but the custom paint-over-fabric job had not gone well.

William started to speak, intending to fess up to the prank when a white SUV sped up. An officious city badge brandishing man approached the group waving a yellow piece of paper in his other hand. “Zoning and Ordinance Enforcement, I’m here on official business! There have been several complaints. This is a cease and desist demand ordering the halt to the opening of this business concern for non compliance with the city’s gentrification zone guidelines. We’re trying to gentrify this part of the city, boys. That means making it look like a place people would want to come and spend money, not making it look like someone painted a sleep deprived elementary art project in the dark!

***

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/

Eric Egger http://www.freedomforgepress.com

 

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The Spot Writers – “Dr. Trowbridge Looks Back – And Forward” by Millicent Hughes

Welcome to The Spot Writers. March’s prompt: How (or why) a young person decides what career (or path) to follow.

This week’s story comes from Millicent Hughes. March’s prompt: How (or why) a young person decides what career (or path) to follow.

***

Dr. Trowbridge Looks Back ─ And Forward – by Millicent Hughes

Howdy, ma’am, nice festivities here for the wedding.

No, my Sylvia’s over there. Hot gossip a’flying, no doubt. You have a cordial, I see. Perhaps you would care to sit down. I been doctoring all night, but had to come see the young couple get off on their trip. Birthed both him and her, you know. I’m about beat, but let me have a sip of this raspberry shrub.”

Was my father a doctor? No, ma’am, he failed in the hat business.. I said as how I wanted to doctor, but there was books and schooling to pay for, even in them ancient days. Plus, nobody would believe you were a real doctor without you had an office and a horse and buggy. Not in the cards for my family.

My parents talked me into apprenticing as a tailor. Yes, Ma’am, you are right to laugh, but it’s the truth. Four long years cutting and stitching and not a drop of blood that wasn’t mine!”

“Oh, you heard right. I turned schoolteacher. I always had a mind for books, so studied the Latin book one day and taught it the next. The real reason for Latin was that I was studying medicine in secret. I’d teach ‘til I got money for a medical course, take it, and go back teaching again.”

Why? I guess doctoring was like a festering wound in me. I wanted to work miracles, not waistcoats.

The puppies started it. S’pose that was about 1830 or so, up in Bethel. I was just a little lad when an old neighbor saw me in the yard and motioned me over. “Come ‘ere, boy. Got a wondrous sight for a lad to see, right there in the shed.”

His hunting dog bitch whelped pups right there in front of me. We went from one animal to six within an hour. After that, whenever I saw the pups, it felt like I owned them.

When I was eighteen, the big thing happened. One morning two boys raced down the street past me. “Come on! Some old tramp just slit his throat! Right down the block!” Out of breath, they returned to running.  I did want to see it.  Maybe more than they did.

Dr. Hanford Bennett knelt in the dirt, bending over a body. Having ripped off his coat, he bunched it into a pillow under the victim, all the time looking over the surrounding crowd. Coming up close, I saw that he wanted another coat and I gave him mine.

“I need clean water and I need it fast,” he yelped. “And clean rags or linen. What I got ain’t enough.” Women flew off to find the items he needed.

The town barber, who pretended  to fix wounds, came out of the crowd and knelt by Dr. Bennett’s side. The patient kicked and struggled, spraying blood all over. The crowd began backing up, under the impression that death was imminent.

“Jim, get on his legs,” Dr. Bennett ordered the barber. “Lean forward and hold him down, a hand on each wrist. I can’t do anything against that struggling.”

“Need somebody to hand me things out of my bag!” The doctor demanded. I picked up the bag, which was just out of his reach and knelt on the opposite side of the body.

“Take the scissors out and give them to me handle-first. Then open the wadding and lay it on this fellow’s chest, ‘cause he’s just about to go unconscious.”

And so we went on, with me handing items and retrieving them, while Dr. Bennett cleaned up the jagged gash, not one of fatal severity.

Then he looked up at me, in a pretend dilemma. “Somebody can either hold these edges together or stitch the wound. Which you goin’ to do, boy?”

Of course he would do the stitching, but it felt, ma’am, like a tornado got hold of me. I wanted so bad to show him how well I could stitch! I had never put needle and thread to human, but I wanted to with all my might.”

“Look at how I’m holding this skin, boy. Put your fingers exactly where mine are and as I stitch, move down, holding the edges together just so. Ready? Put your fingers right behind mine.”

And so he stitched, layer after layer. It seemed like a long time, there in the dust with the sun beating down and the smell of blood rising up into our faces. Two ladies tried to watch and turned sick at the stomach.

Jim hovered over us and poured water when the blood obscured the wound. The dust turned into bloody mud.

​Dr. Bennett told Jim and me that we were doing fine and he was almost done. He had said that when he hadn’t even started, which is a trick I now use myself.

When we were finished, some folks took the suicide away on a door. Jim left us, laughing at the bloody picture Dr. Bennett and I made. I helped Dr. Bennett to his feet.

I told the doctor that I had always wanted to do doctoring, but my fortunes indicated otherwise. He returned his glasses to his pocket, then took me by the shoulders and stared right into my eyes. “Don’t let other folks dictate when you have a talent for something! If you truly want to study medicine, you can find a way. You’ll be a surgeon, I can tell. No one can stop you!”

So, from that experience and the puppies, well, hardly a day goes by that I don’t birth a baby!”

Yes? What say, sir? Dr. William Trowbridge at your service!  Yes, my horse is at the door, as always. Ma’am,  please  relay to my wife where I went!

***

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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Wolves Don’t Knock!

I’ve been working diligently on my book WOLVES DON’T KNOCK for several years, off and on, in several evolving versions (short story, novella, novel) and finally had the nerve to send it off to beta readers. (A select few have previously read the manuscript in various stages, but not as it is now, in its—hopefully—last and final revision.)

One beta reader, a stranger, got back to me yesterday: “Absolutely thrilling.  I couldn’t put it down…I love the parallel mother/daughter relationship and once the grandmother gets involved, it truly turns into a generational problem….Jeremy is a good character.  He sneaks in gradually—I like that….Grammar looks good.  Dialog is good.  Character development is good… You have wonderful symbolism and use it well throughout.  And all the “wolf” connections and descriptions are soooo perfect this should be in a lit course to teach symbolism!” Criticism: She wanted more information about the abductor, and the itty-bitty “prologue” (which isn’t labelled as a prologue) threw her off at the start, but by the time she finished reading the manuscript, she got it.

This is a far cry from my other beta reader (we exchanged beta reads), an online writer acquaintance, who relayed a couple of weeks previously: “I didn’t know what to make of all the visions both women had of wolves. I thought maybe shape-shifter things….I have never read a book with (possibly) wolf man themes and didn’t know what to expect….I have to wonder why the wolf-man theme is even there. What are we supposed to think at the end? That…the babies…half wolves and are now out there somewhere searching for new victims…”

What!?!? I was mystified and stunned as to the latter critique. I politely told her so, too, and she understood my feelings (we’re still friends; no hard feelings). Yes, I “get” that readers have differences and not every reader will enjoy every story, but I hate werewolf and vampire stories and most certainly would never write about them, so when she gleaned that theme from my book I was more than stunned. (Though she didn’t get the gist of my book, she was still helpful and picked up numerous errors.)

I have three other beta readers in the works. I’m hoping they get back to me soon, so I will have a clearer picture of my book. Right now, I’m batting 50/50, right? And then, after perhaps a few adjustments, off it goes to an editor—unless I accept an offered publishing contract. Hmm…

If I self-publish and all goes well, publication date is May 2, 2018.

Stay tuned….

 

Wolves Cover

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The Spot Writers – “The Herald” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is: Write about a character whose one ability is to amplify the best traits in others. Who would they hang around? Who would they choose to avoid?

Today’s post comes to your from Val Muller, author of the young adult novel The Girl Who Flew Away. https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Flew-Away/dp/1941295355/

***

The Herald by Val Muller

I came for a Wisher, a little boy sitting on a rusty swing in a lonely park after dark. His was a Genuine Wish, not a superficial one like most. Some ask for ponies or money, games or toys. True Wishers ask for things that matter.

He asked for his parents to love again.

A Wish intangible for him as stardust in the vacuum of space.

He first saw my twinkle floating above the park, shimmering in the darkened sky. I descended with his Wish and landed at the edge of a fence. I had to move quickly because the boy stood right away to investigate. His life at home was so strained, he’d lost all fear and sense of self preservation.

I turned first into a glowing flower, tempting him to pluck me, but I knew that form would never last. The flowers here are ephemeral, not like the sentient ones in the outer planets of Myler. But in the instant her reached to pluck me, I felt his skin and knew his mind. And so in the darkness I disintegrated into the earth and followed the rooty passages into the brush, where I emerged as a puppy.

It was one he’d seen on a television show—a cartoon, which is a type of art form on this world. I worked quickly to make myself look a bit more realistic than the two-dimensional ink of his mind. It was enough. In the darkness, the boy cradled me, and with his touch I saw it all:

His mother, taxed and tired at the end of each day, his father grumpy and exhausted from an unfulfilling job. And each nearly looking forward to the dinner table, where they nightly poured their wrath as quickly as they poured their drinks. Dinners were a verbal battle that left the boy nauseous.

His father drank to squash his courage, so that he could not stand up to his boss or his desires or the temptation to lash out with his fists. His mother drank to sharpen her courage, so that she could stand stone still while her husband put another foot through the drywall, or punched through a window, or turned plates into shrapnel. She drank to find the courage to stand stone still as her son ran out to the park every night and to tell him, when he returned, the lie that she never feared his father would turn his wrath on them.

As he held me tight, I saw through his mind the way life used to be, the way it lingered in his memories. His father building and playing each night, constructing roads and bridges for toy vehicles, making anything the boy asked for out of wood and straws and cardboard and love. I saw his mother, happy and young without the stress of an angry spouse, supporting him and reading homework and stories together. A mother who didn’t drink.

In the midnight darkness, he cradled me in his arms. He ran home as his life played in my mind until I knew my task.

A yellow light shone above the stovetop in the kitchen as we entered. His mom sat at the table, a glass of water in front of her. I knew from the boy’s memories that she always sat up this way, waiting for him, making sure he was safe. This time, a new bit of plaster littered the kitchen floor.

She took us both into her arms, her embrace warm and trembling. She didn’t question my presence, but her eyes leaked and she spoke of her childhood and the dog she grew up with. She spoke of how it’d brought comfort to her, a perpetual friend. As her fingers ran through my simulated fur, the stress of her life floated out. I made sure the harmful rays dissipated into the air and into the night.

I knew my task, so I barked once, twice, just the way I heard it in the boy’s memory, a cartoonish bark, until I heard the rustling upstairs. I felt the boy’s father wipe the haze of drink from his eyes and stumble down the stairs. When he saw the tableau before him, the boy getting kisses from his new best friend and the woman embracing them both, his heart melted into tears, and it all came pouring out—in words this time, not in anger—the frustration, fatigue, disappointment. He had only just begun to realize that such is the reality of life on his world. A constant flux, a managing of expectations, a search for the small things that bring joy. He had lost balance.

The three of them sat together, circled around me, the parents’ faces wet with tears and the boy’s sore with the unfamiliar smile of joy.

In their touch, I saw everything. Recovery would be a hard road for the boy’s father, but he would succeed with only two transgressions. He would heal soon enough to be joyed by the news the boy’s mother would save for just the right moment: that the boy would soon be an older brother.

I could not stay for a lifetime, not even for the life of a dog on this planet where life flies by as fast as comets. There was no need of me anymore. I had fulfilled the Wish. I saw how it would happen. The next day, father and son would build me a doghouse out of the wood scraps in the garage, the ones he used to use all the time when he built toys for the boy. While they were sawing, I would disappear. But it would be only a matter of days before the family stumbled upon a box of puppies for sale on the way home from the boy’s school.

They would pick the runt, the one that needed extra love, because of course they’d have to have something to live in the dog house they’d built. Something to build toys for, to center their love around. Something to bring them together. They’d name him Herald.

They would wonder about me for a time, but I cast an order for their memories of me to be brief. In a decade, they would not remember that they had built their doghouse before the arrival of Herald. They did not need memories of the strange light that descended from above and took the clumsy form of a dog in the darkness. They did not need those memories of me. They needed only to remember who they had once been.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

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

 

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TWO EYES OPEN!

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

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The Spot Writers – “Ombrophobous” by Dorothy Colinco

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

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

***

Ombrophobous

 

The rain brings with it

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

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

an apathetic hue of gray not seen elsewhere,

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

and makes eyes weep without feeling or reason,

burning chemicals,

evidence of humanity’s callousness and cruelty.

 

The rain takes away

the graceful spine of the delicate foxglove,

forcing it into a painful arch,

denouncing its beauty and form,

the brightly-colored chalk ground into the rough sidewalk

declaring a child’s name,

their early attempts to announce their identity

and presence in the world,

the laughter shared on a baseball diamond,

the sound of a leather connecting with wood and metal.

 

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

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

now indistinguishable from precipitation,

though both are born of sorrow.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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The Spot Writers – The Pineapple Plant by Dorothy Colinco

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: Think back on a memory when you were angry. REALLY angry. Now change the names of the people in the memory, the setting, everything familiar about it, and most importantly… the ending. Turn it into a memory that ends happily. Let all the writing wash your anger away.

Today’s post comes to us from Dorothy Colinco.

The Pineapple Plant

The last time she saw him, her bromeliad was in a broken heap around his chair. It was a gorgeous plant, leaves sprouting in a concentric pattern around a firm stalk that ended with what looked like a miniature pineapple. That’s what everyone called it – the pineapple plant. “Is that going to grow into a big pineapple?” “Can you eat it?” “WILL you eat it?” If there was a map of the school building that included quirky landmarks, The Pineapple Plant in room 514 would definitely be on there.

And now there it was, the miniature pineapple snapped off the stem, the white and gold pot in jagged ceramic pieces.

She balled her fists up, if only to stop them from shaking. “I can’t look at you right now.”

“It was an accident. I was leaning my chair back, and I reached up to stretch, and then…”

“Please stop talking.”

She turned to shift her attention to the student standing in the front of the room in the middle of giving a presentation. “Go ahead,” she said, “please continue.”

As the student tentatively read through the slides about a made-up person living during the Great Depression, none of which Ms. Grace heard. When the presentation ended and the students gave light applause with Snappy Fingers, Ms. Grace stood up and barely managed to clear her throat, before saying, “wait for the bell” and rushing out of the room.

She took deep breaths in the faculty bathroom, staring at the chipping paint and the onion skin toilet paper. When she finally returned to her classroom 10 minutes later, someone had swept up the pieces of the plant. The tiny pineapple was gone. The only difference was a blank space on the windowsill where the bromeliad used to sit and specks of dirt on the group that hadn’t been caught by a broom.

Now here he was, holding out a tiny pot with leaves sprouting out of the rich soil.

“I did some research. It’s supposed to grow a stem and sprout another pineapple just like it. It’ll take a couple weeks, maybe a couple months. But it’s not dead. It can still be beautiful. I’m really sorry.”

She took it gingerly from his hands, and she sensed that he was afraid to let go should it come crashing down again like it had in its previous life.

“Thank you,” she managed. She placed the small pot in the old bromeliad’s place. So maybe she was being dramatic when she thought this was a harbinger of things to come. Maybe her first year wouldn’t be tragic after all. When the new pineapple grew, if the new pineapple grew, this would one day make for a good story.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

 

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