Tag Archives: flash fiction

The Spot Writers – “Sally and Julius” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about something “summery.”

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

***

“Sally and Julius” by Cathy MacKenzie

“Mom,” Sally asked, “isn’t it kinda neat that July and August, the best months of the year, are the longest?”

“Are they?”

“Yeah, 31 days. Two months in a row.”

“Hmmm, guess so.” Her mother stopped rinsing the dishes and gazed at the wall.

Sally was positive her mother was reciting the alphabet song: “Thirty days have September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty-one…”

Her mother wiped her hands on the dishtowel and faced her. “But I thought December was your favourite. And May, your birthday.”

“No, Mom, the summer months are the ones I like the best. And so did Julius and Augustus.”

“Julius? Augustus?”

“Julius Caesar. We learned about him in school. He had an ego, just like Marlene and Chloe. They think the world revolves around them, just like Julius did.”

“And who is Augustus?”

“Augustus is his nephew. Great nephew, I think.”

“I see.”

“So, do you know what Julius did? He named July after him, and he made it 31 days. That was the longest month back then.”

Her mother put down the dishtowel and glanced at her before pouring soap into the dishwasher.

“And then when Julius died, Augustus wanted a month after him, so he named the next month Augustus. And he had to have 31 days, too.”

“You seem to know a lot about them.”

“I do. We learned about them in school. Well, except for the months. I found that out by myself. On the internet.”

“Sounds like Augustus was a tad egotistical, too,” her mother said.

Sally giggled. “I think they were freaky. But then guess what happened?”

“What?” Her mother seemed intrigued, latching onto her every word.

“Then the year had too many days, so they had to take two away from February. And that’s how come February became the shortest month.”

Her mother turned back to the dishwasher, pushed the on button, and closed the door. “Interesting. You’ll have to tell Dad that story.”

“Maybe I will.”

When her father returned home from work, she relayed the story to him.

“It’s an interesting tale,” he said when she was finished, “but what’s so special about July and August? Why did they pick those months?”

“Julius liked the summer, Dad. And so do I. Augustus just took the month after Julius did. Not sure if he liked the summer as much as Julius, though.”

“But…”

She scampered off, not wanting to listen to anything else her father would say. His “but” said it all. He’d find holes in her story. She had to admit she was a bit confused. What about the other months that had 31 days? How come Julius didn’t make his month 32 days? Or perhaps way back then the months had less than 31 days and his was the longest. Maybe after Augustus died five other egotistical jerks came along and named months after themselves, too, and made their months 31 days. She’d have to Google it. Maybe there was more to the story.

But, for now, summer waited. She couldn’t waste any of it. It’d be over before she knew it.

***

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/

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “Spirit Animal” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about something summery. Today’s piece comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series with several other books in the works. Check out her blog for news about upcoming releases at www.valmuller.com/blog.

“Spirit Animal” by Val Muller

It was the summer without vacations. Two of them cancelled already, and the re-rescheduled one for August not looking good, either. And with Benny being quarantined from friends, it was looking to be a summer to blemish the memory.

I kept thinking of my own summers, the freedom I had to bike with friends, to live outside until Mom called me in for dinner, to build secret campfires and clubhouses out of scrap wood. At seven, Benny was maybe a little too young to do all that on his own, especially without help. Our previous decision to cap the kid count at one seemed like a bad idea this summer. How much better might things be with a little brother?

Instead, it was up to me and Helen to make up for the global pandemic in Benny’s small world. Helen was doing her best, balancing work-from-home with summertime fun. And I’ve basically been on conference calls for the last ten weeks. I came out of the office for a coffee and I saw Benny there, looking dejected. On the most beautiful day in June, just sitting there on the steps staring at the carpet.

So for the holiday weekend, I knew I had to repair Benny’s summer.

We were watching a cartoon, something about spirit animals. Benny asked what that was, and that’s when I decided. “We’re going camping,” I said. “We’re going on a quest to find your spirit animal.”

“Camping?” Helen rose an eyebrow from the kitchen, where she was making dinner. “Where?”

With social distancing, I wasn’t sure campgrounds were even open. Benny looked at me expectantly. I opened my mouth and hoped for the best. “In the back yard, of course!”

So down to the basement I went, searching for my old gear. My tent, the sleeping bags. “It’s a two-man tent,” I reminded Helen, thinking back to our camping days.

“That’s okay,” she said with a little too much relief. “You boys have fun. I’m sure I’ll be okay having the house to myself for a night.”

That night, I remembered why grown-ups don’t camp so much. The humidity, the mosquitos. And, of course, the loss of that “I’m invincible” feeling of childhood and adolescence. Every rustling in the bushes on our three-acre lot, I wondered about our safety. Would a fox attack? Would they smell dinner on our breaths? And what about the bear everyone was posting about on the neighborhood Facebook page? At night, he owned the neighborhood. Even the coyote being tracked down the road would defer to the bear, I’m sure.

“What do we do now, Dad?” Benny asked. He sat on the sleeping bag in the tent, looking at me expectantly. He seemed so little, so young. I rustled his hair and gave him a hug. Sometimes I forget how much of a kid he still is.

“We should go out of the tent,” I said. “We need to find your spirit animal.” I smacked my arm. “And unless your spirit animal is a mosquito, we aren’t going to find it in here.”

“How do we find my spirit animal?”

I glanced inside at the warm glow of the television. Helen was finding her own spirit animal, no doubt. I didn’t know how to answer. I was winging this. I don’t honestly know what a spirit animal is. I’ve never had one of my own. I think it’s supposed to be some kind of vision quest or something. Not something I’m qualified for, really.

“I think a spirit animal has some qualities that you share with it. Something deep down inside of you. It’s powerful,” I hoped aloud.

“How will I know what mine is?” Benny asked.

“When you see it, you’ll know.”

We lit a small fire in the portable hibachi grill. We roasted marshmallows, and I wondered what kind of animals liked marshmallows. While we ate, a small brown toad hopped onto the patio nearby, perching on a damp spot.

“Is that my spirit animal?” Benny asked.

“A toad?” I glanced at its brown, warty surface. “I don’t think so, son. Do you like to eat flies?”

He laughed. “No, Dad, I guess not.”

We waited. In the distance, the crickets chirped, and some nocturnal bird warbled. Late-lingering fireflies blinked under the trees. An owl hooted.

“Am I a cricket?” he asked, moving his arms like a praying mantis.

We both laughed.

“I think you have to see your animal to know it,” I said. I looked at the toad again and wondered if that was my spirit animal. Just kind of sitting there. Being useless except for eating bugs. Maybe it would be good at conference calls. I shivered and shook my head. No. This was not my quest for a spirit animal. Tonight belonged to Benny.

I wondered what kind of young man he would be, what kind of man he would grow into. He was so young, so sheltered. What was this year in quarantine doing to him? Would he know how to socialize? Would he trust others, or be governed by paranoid fear? Would he follow what he was told without question? Would his basis for human interactions be movies? Cartoons where characters go on vision quests to find their spirit animal?

Was I a failure of a father?

At the end of our property, two eyes glowed.

“A fox,” I whispered.

Benny gasped and whispered to me. “Cool, but it’s not my spirit animal.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“I just do,” he said.

We went to sleep that night without an answer to his spirit animal quandary. I woke in the middle of the night to the feeling that something was wrong. My first instinct was to check on Benny. He slept soundly next to me. I dashed to the house to peek in the living room window. Helen was sleeping on the couch, the TV still glowing, an empty wine glass on the table next to her. The glow from the house lights illuminated the camping area in an even twilight, and I turned to inspect the yard.

The humidity was stifling, but still I shivered. Something was off.

I turned around, and that’s when I saw it. The bear, the one everyone had been spotting. So far the neighbors had posted a picture from someone’s bedroom window, far-off and grainy; a picture of its muddy paw prints crossing the road; and several shots of its scat around the neighborhood.

This one was within striking range of me. It was brown—smaller than I thought it would be, but still a terrifying size, one that could tear apart dog or boy or man. And it was sniffing around Benny’s tent.

It’s a parents’ worst dilemma. Being useless to help your child.

I could have easily walked into the house to safety. But the bear was right next to Benny. I thought back to all the documentaries I must have watched, and I realized I knew nothing about bears. I thought I remembered that they like to leave people alone, that they are non-aggressive. But was I supposed to freeze? Play dead? One kind of bear, you’re supposed to raise your arms in the air menacingly to make yourself look bigger, I think.

And in the midst of my son’s life being threatened, I had the awful thought that my phone was in the tent, so there’s no way I could capture what would have been an amazing shot.

In an awful moment, the bear rose on two feet, sniffed the top of the tent, and let out a small groan, a grunt. What was it saying? Was the bear saying “Grace,” pre-dinner? And Benny the main course?

My mind raced with how I would tell Helen. It was then that I decided. I would scream. I would distract the bear and let it chase me. Maybe I would die, but that’s what parents were supposed to do for their children.

Something held my tongue. The bear turned to stare at me. Our eyes locked for an eternity. Stars lived and died. Planets crumbled.

I knew then I was looking at Benny’s spirit animal. Gentle, unprovoked, but with terrifying power beneath.

The bear grunted once, then lowered itself and walked nonchalantly back into the shadows of the yard. I knew Benny would be okay. Tonight and always.

I carried him inside a moment later, though, just to be safe. We slept on the floor next to Helen and her empty bottle of wine. I decided in the morning I wouldn’t tell Benny about the bear just yet. He would discover his power in his own time. For now, I’d let him be a little boy.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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The Spot Writers – “On a Cold Winter Night” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to find 5 words in a news article that jump out at you. Write a story using those words.

Here you can find the article I read. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/02/us/asian-giant-hornet-washington.html . The title is: ‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet, and the five words I picked are the following: Spider-Man – dragonfly – winter – night – underground.

This week story comes from Chiara. Chiara is currently in Berlin, Germany, not quarantined anymore but still doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects.

***

“On a Cold Winter Night” by Chiara De Giorgi

Dragonfly-Woman cursed under her breath, then stilled herself in the dark.

After the discovery of murder hornets in the U.S.  that year – following wildfires in Australia, locust swarms in Africa, a very infectious disease that spread all over the world, and other ill-matched catastrophes –  she knew to expect anything, and the giant spiderweb she had just been caught in could mean a lot of things- mostly horrible things.

Her heart sank when she felt the spiderweb move. She closed her eyes and swallowed. Was this going to be the end, her end? Eaten by a giant spider, underground, on a cold winter night? After all she’d been through, after all the people she’d helped and saved… it didn’t seem right.

She opened her big, marvelous dragonfly eyes. She wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Dragonflies can detect so many more colors than humans with their eyes, however they can’t really see anything without light. Dragonfly-Woman had fixed the issue with enhanced contacts, which gave her an owl’s vision. Now she could spot a bulky form slowly making its way towards her, making the web’s threads vibrate, slowly but steadily.

She steeled herself, ready to set her delicate-looking wings in motion. Would she be able to cut through the spiderweb, though? Spiderwebs are incredibly resistant, after all. Maybe I could just cut the beast’s head off, if it comes to me at the right angle, she thought, and smirked. I’ll make sure it does.

“Hey, spidey, spidey spidey? Why are you hiding in the dark-ey?”

The bulk suddenly stopped. Damn!

A surprised voice rose from the darkness:

“Dragonfly-Woman?”

“Who… Spider-Man?” she asked, shocked, as the big bulk came nearer. “What the hell are you doing down here?”

“What am I doing here? What are you doing here! I thought you were dead!”

“Me? Dead? Why?” she asked, surprised, then remembered. “ Oh, yeah… Well, you know how dragonfly females pretend they’re dead when they want to put off their suitors…?”

Spider-Man cracked a glow stick and suddenly a greenish light washed over the walls of the tunnel. It gave his face a gaunt and sick look.

“You pretended you were dead?” he almost shouted, outraged. “To escape my… avances? That’s insane!”

Dragonfly-Woman scoffed. “Was it?”

“I was devastated!” continued Spider-Man. “I roamed with no purpose for months, I almost got killed by a giant murder hornet, and were it not for Lady Bug I wouldn’t be here!”

“Well, I’m sorry, but— Wait, what? Lady Bug? That vapid bimbo?”

Lady Bug jumped into the light, a belligerent expression on her plump face.

“Excuse me, did you just call me a bimbo? Did she just call me a bimbo?”

“Er…”

“You let him believe you were dead, so you clearly didn’t want him. So now what? You changed your mind, you slut?”

“Don’t you dare call me a slut!”

“Or what?” Lady Bug laughed. “Did you forget you’re trapped? What if he left you there? Hey, here’s an idea”, she added, turning to Spider Man. “What if we left her there? She’ll die for real, this time.”

“You would never…”

“Oh, but wouldn’t I?”

“Girls! I mean, insects! Insect-girls! Whatever! Shut up!”

After a few seconds of silence, Spider-Man reached for a blade in one of his pockets and cut the threads that kept Dragonfly-Woman captive, then stood in front of her as she plucked the sticky tendrils away.

“I am over you”, he announced in a tired voice. “I am over everything, actually. I don’t want to go back to the daylight ever again, it’s too depressing. I thought I’d let a rat, or a bat, bite me, but I don’t like the competition, and Rat-Man and Bat-Man were here before me, after all.”

“What are you going to do?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t care.”

“We’ll be fine”, whispered Lady Bug, “just like we were before.” She turned to Dragonfly-Woman and looked at her with sadness in her eyes. “You can go, or you can stay. It’s all the same to me. To us. Our world got dark long ago.”

Dragonfly-Woman’s eyes glinted in the darkness. When she spoke, her voice was resolute. “I will go back outside and check the situation. As the Crow-Man said, it can’t rain all the time. I’ll come back for you as soon as it’s safe, and we can be friends again. No hard feelings. Okay?”

She stretched her right hand out, and Lady Bug slowly reached for it and shook it, a smile blossoming on her lips.

“Okay.”

***

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 – “Can COVID-19 Solve the Climate Crisis?” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to find 5 words in a news article that jump out at you. Write a story using those words.

I picked these words, climate change, CO2 emissions, coronavirus, pandemic, and isolation from a news report commenting on the impact of the current pandemic on carbon emissions. I imagined a conversation between several of the graduate students in the climate change novel I’m working on when they were in high school. My novel begins in 2027, and this story takes place in the spring of 2020 at the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

For information on The Road to Environmental Armageddon, my climate change novel in the making for many years, visit my website (https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com) and read the posts in the Road to Environmental Armageddon category.

***

“Can COVID-19 Solve the Climate Crisis?” by Phil Yeats

The conversation happened via email chat. It was more like an argument than a normal discussion, but this wasn’t a normal time, and we weren’t normal teenagers. We were the four most dedicated members of our school’s environment club and trying to keep things going by meeting online. School was closed and the coronavirus pandemic had everyone in forced isolation.

A newspaper article about decreases in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the pandemic-generating a slowdown in the global economy triggered the discussion.

“That proves the climate change crisis is false, perpetuated by guilt-ridden liberals looking for reasons for self-flagellation and pleasure denial,” John wrote.

I stared at my computer screen, and I’m sure, the others did too. John’s big words and bizarre right-wing intellectual concepts came from reading conservative blogs. Not sites catering to yahoos, but ones favoured by climate change deniers who wanted to give the impression they thought about the problem.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.

“That Draconian solutions aren’t necessary,” John responded. I imagined him assuming one of the threatening poses he often used to reinforce his arguments. “If a natural event like the coronavirus outbreak lowers CO2 emissions by twenty percent and generates pledges for a low carbon path to recovery, it’s not an insurmountable problem.”

“GARBAGE,” I typed. “You suggesting worldwide responses haven’t been Draconian, and anyway, twenty percent is a number some extremist pulled out of the air. It will be like the economic downturn in 2008—emissions will decrease for a few months and bounce up bigger than ever in the next year.”

“Come on Dan, these chats are no fun if you two get into arguments,” Madison said. She was as passionate about the environment as anyone, but hated confrontations. She spent more time defusing arguments, usually ones between John and me, than expressing her ideas. Those attempts at peacemaking often involved touchy-feely stuff to calm John down, but that couldn’t happen when we were stuck in our various houses staring at our computer screens.

Emily, as usual, had the last word. She was our most cerebral member, fascinated by mathematics, and destined to attend some prestigious university on a monster scholarship. “Scientists and engineers have known how to curb carbon dioxide increases for years. It’s not the ability to act, it’s the will. Individuals and their governments, lack the will to act.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

 

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The Spot Writers – “Floating in a Tin Can” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a “never have/had I ever” story.

This week story comes from Chiara. Chiara is currently quarantined in Berlin, Germany, and doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects.

***

“Floating in a Tin Can” by Chiara De Giorgi

Never had I ever thought I’d find myself one day floating in a tin can, like David Bowie’s Major Tom, far above the Moon… and yet, here I am! Of course I really hope I’ll keep in touch with Ground Control and make it back to Earth, but for the time being I just want to enjoy the ride, as they say.

It all began during the 2020 pandemic. People were scared, for a while confusion reigned, but in the end, slowly, things went back to normal – with a couple improvements, if I’m allowed to say so, given that so many didn’t make it.

One big change was that private and independent investors poured money into cryonics research. What’s cryonics, you ask? Cryonics is the preserving of a human body at low-freezing temperatures. Why would one decide to be frozen, you want to know? Well, let’s say you’re suffering from a medical condition that science isn’t able to cure. You have your body frozen and then thawed in the future, when doctors will know what to do. Sweet, don’t you think? I thought so and I had money enough to invest in the project. Moreover, I signed my body off to undergo the procedure in case I became ill with the 2020 virus and would die of it. Which happened.

Admittedly, those were quite the chaotic times, so I don’t blame Cryonics Ltd. for forgetting my body was under ice for about fifty years – when an undergraduate looking for the restroom got lost in the labyrinthine basement and found me.

The world I was resurrected into was quite different from the one I had died in. I couldn’t keep my enthusiasm at bay. Not only was I cured, I also became a celebrity and got rich again in a matter of days.

In the years I had slept away, science and technology had improved hugely. I felt like a toddler in a candy shop, I wanted to know everything, and everybody indulged me.

I could have paid for this space trip, but it was hardly necessary, as any ad company in the world is willing to pay me a ridiculous amount of money just for the honor of putting my face on their products. Space travel is quite common these days, although still a bit expensive. Not everyone can afford it, but I’m happy to report that life conditions have also improved hugely for the majority of the Earth’s population. There are of course reasons for it, one of them being that the Moon is being colonized at the moment, and those who accept dangerous jobs up there are the ones who wouldn’t fare well on Earth.

Anyway. As I was saying, space travel is quite common. What isn’t that common, though, is time travel.

I am the willing participant in a research study on time travel – it seemed the next logical step to take.

So if you get this message, please reply. It will be corroborating evidence that it works. Thanks!

***

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 – “The Two Bears Bakery” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a “never have/had I ever” story.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) has published two soft-boiled police detective stories in his Barrettsport Mysteries series. They’re set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community with very quirky citizens. The Amazon link for the more recent one is: https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

“The Two Bears Bakery” by Phil Yeats

“Never have I ever seen anything like this,” the stranger said as she handed him his change. He stopped with his hand on the handle of the exterior door. “Two-hundred-fifty billion dollars of debt we’ll never repay.” He walked away, leaving the door open, and the shop exposed to the blustery spring weather.

Her husband hurried from the tiny office behind their serving counter. He approached the door and wiped the handle with disinfectant before pulling it closed. The restraining spring hung free, another repair to make before returning to his ovens.

Their first day since the loosening of pandemic-related restrictions that forced them to close their little bakery had been successful. She’d sold almost all their loaves of bread and trays of pastries.

Welcome news because the previous night, as he mixed his tubs of dough, he had no idea how many he should make. Would they see hordes of customers or only a few?

“What was that about?” he asked as he settled onto the stool behind the counter. She’d been there since nine and deserved a rest. He’d mind the store until they closed for the night.

“No idea,” she said as she glanced toward the stairway to their apartment above the shop. “A stranger, so what can I say. Same for everyone who entered. None could resist unburdening little corners of their souls.”

“Everyone’s been alone for far too long. They need someone to talk to.”

“So it seems, and they had strange stories to tell.”

She placed her arms around his shoulders after collecting one of their few remaining loaves. “Been a tough day, we’re out of practice. I’ll make some dinner, and then we can relax.”

“But worth it, don’t you think,” he called as she climbed the stairs. “We belong here. Our regulars will return, and we’ll return to normal.”

He meant what he said. They had a hard life, running a mum and pop bakery in a North America overrun with big-box retailers. They’d raised two daughters who were married with children. One would arrive to help her mother in the morning. The second would be in the kitchen baking cakes to order. And their kids would rush about, causing mayhem, and entertaining the customers without forgetting their mandatory face masks and social distancing. They had everything they desired.

***

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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What Is Time?

This poem tied for first place in a small group I belong to. Thing is, only two entries were submitted. The idea is to give a “heart” to your favourite entry. Well, with only two of us entering, the other contestant voted for mine and I voted for hers. Not sure either of us can claim a win, ha ha.

This is the image we had to write to.

time

“What Is Time?”

What is time
But passing rhyme,
Breath,
Death.

Illusion of space,
Running the race,
Limbs that move,
In the groove.

A loving embrace,
A lonely chase,
Hearts that beat,
Friends who meet.

Tidal waves,
Stalactites in caves,
Serenading song,
Ding, dong.

Seconds, minutes, hours,
A dream sours,
Sand in the hourglass,
Thru the looking glass.

A new week,
Straining to seek,
Undiscovered days,
A different phase.

Out with the old,
In with the cold,
Shouldering storms,
Until life warms.

Sweating the heat,
Pluralize cheat,
Open your eyes,
Catch the lies.

Stars in the sky,
Moon hanging high,
The setting sun,
Day is done.

Oh, what is time
But passing rhyme,
Hands on the clock,
Tick, tock.

+++
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 – “Carpe Diem” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “never have/had I ever.” Today’s writing comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. Find out more at www.corgicapers.com.

The dandelion, pictured below, served as inspiration for this poem.

“Carpe Diem” by Val Muller

 

Val flower pic

Never had I ever thought

I’d wait for bread in line

Or that a Meatless Monday

Would happen in my time.

 

Never had I ever thought

I’d stare at empty shelves,

Or panic when I coughed a bit

Or gasped for breath if I yelled.

 

Never had I ever thought

I’d live to see the day

When the 1918 pandemic

Came back again this way.

 

Never had I ever thought

The schools would shut their doors,

That I’d wash my hands ‘til raw

After a dangerous visit to a store.

 

Never had I ever thought

I’d be shuttered in my home,

To work from screen and keyboard

And to communicate—alone.

 

Never in my busy life

Had I ever banked on this:

That time, my short commodity,

Was now given as a gift.

 

Never had I ever seen

Dandelions graced by the rain

While tiptoeing through chilly dew:

It was like childhood again,

 

That timeless sense of wonder,

The lack of any rush,

To watch raindrops melt off flowers

In the early morning’s hush.

 

Never I, since growing up,

Felt wonder flow so free

As when this time afforded me to sit

While the trees whispered in the breeze,

Or when I watched a honey bee

Floating through the trees.

And while the world slows down a while

In fear of this disease,

And stresses about washing hands

And worrying when we sneeze,

We’re forced to wait—actionless—

While Fates do what they please:

The beauty’s there for those who’ll see,

Who can take the day—and seize!

***

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 – “Midnight with Shakespeare” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about a chance encounter.

This week story comes from Chiara. Chiara is currently quarantined in Berlin, Germany, and doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects.

***

“Midnight with Shakespeare” by Chiara De Giorgi

 

Ever since I watched “Midnight in Paris” I’ve been fantasizing about meeting the object of my own devotion, the greatest poet of all times: William Shakespeare. Impossible, you say? Maybe so, but a girl can dream.

This is the story of how my dream came (sort of) true. More accurately: this is the story of how my dream within a dream came true, to say it with Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.

 

I woke up on a sunny morning and entered the kitchen, yawning like a hippopotamus.

“Good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter[1]”, said my father, handing me a cup of black tea.

I smiled and accepted the kindly offered beverage. I sighed. I really needed it, I had a day full of work meetings ahead, and no desire to attend any of them.

As I left home, headed towards the bus stop, my neighbour waved at me. “Nothing will come of nothing[2]!” she shouted, an encouraging smile on her face.

Still wondering about her words, I later entered the building where my first meeting was going to take place. I was about half an hour early, so I asked the secretary where I could go get some coffee.

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late[3]”, she said. “Just turn round the corner, there’s a bagel seller whose bagels are the absolute best, and the coffee is also good!”

I happily followed her advice: I love bagels! I found the place, a small take-away shop, bright and clean, and I put in my order for a bagel with strawberry cream, and a coffee. The guy behind the counter licked a spoon of cream clean before setting it aside and serving me. I must have looked astonished, because he smirked and winked at me. “Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers[4]”, he whispered.

Holding my bagel and my coffee I made my way back to the meeting, which lasted almost three hours and left me drained. A long discussion had brought to no end result, except I had to prepare another report, with more figures and nonsense.

“The fault lies not within the stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings[5]”, said my colleague, in an unusual spout of wisdom.

“Yeah”, I sighed. “An underling I may be, and yet I must rush to the next meeting! Adieu!

I decided to take a cab, so I could rest a bit. I must have dozed off, because suddenly I realized we were stuck in traffic. I was going to be late. Not cool.

“What’s the matter?” I asked the cab driver. “Can’t we go a bit faster?”

I saw the man shrug, then he looked at me in the rear-view mirror and said: “Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day[6].”

Oh, well. He was right, after all. There was nothing I could do. I called a colleague and let her know I was running a bit late, then checked my Smartphone to pass the time.

Finally the cab dropped me in front of the building where the second meeting of the day was taking place. At the entrance I almost tripped over a cleaning lady, who was on her knees, furiously rubbing the floor.

“Out, damned spot! Out, I say![7]” she was muttering. Such an odd day, that was, and I had not seen the last of it, yet!

I knocked at the meeting room’s door and entered, making my apologies, then reached my seat and sat down, opened my files on the tablet and prepared to discuss the subject at hand. The discussion lead to a nasty disagreement with one of the guys from another Company, which left me irritated. As I was putting all my stuff back inside my bag, wishing my work day was over, someone hit me.

I heard a voice near me: “Gosh, I’m sorry. Let me help you pick everything up.”

Of course the most embarrassing items in my bag had fallen out: my comb full of hair, a picture of my cats, a handful of tampons, a Mickey Mouse pencil. I lifted my eyes to see who it was, and of course he was the guy I had quarreled with just minutes before. He handed me my things, then he held out his hand. “We haven’t started on the right foot, have we? Let me introduce myself.”

We shook hands. He was smiling warmly at me and I found myself smiling back at him.

“So, do you have time for coffee?” he asked me.

I checked the watch. “I have about twenty minutes, then I must go attend another meeting”, I replied. “Are you sure you want to have coffee together? We almost ate each other less than ten minutes ago in this very room!”

He took my hand again and put a gentle kiss on it – he did, I kid you not.

“My dear”, he added, as if it were the most natural thing to say at that point, “Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps[8].”

I’ll be honest, here: the rest of the day passed in a blur, I don’t remember much. When I got home, I was exhausted and collapsed on my bed, instantly falling asleep. When I opened my eyes, the alarm-clock on my night-stand read 00:00. Midnight.

Around me all was dark and silent, then I heard a whisper. No, it was many whispers, coming from different directions, overlapping, confused. At last, I recognized some words: “If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend: If you pardon, we will mend[9]…”

Around me, tiny fairy lights were dancing in the dark, I could smell jasmine, and I could hear the sound of jingle bells… I laughed, long and happy.

***

[1] Measure for Measure, Act 4 Scene 3

[2] King Lear, Act 1 Scene 1

[3] The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 2 Scene 2

[4] Romeo and Juliet, Act 4 Scene 2

[5] Julius Casear, Act 1 Scene 3

[6] Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 3

[7] Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 1

[8] Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3 Scene 2

[9] A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5, Scene 1

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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The Spot Writers – “The Panhandler (take two)” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about a chance encounter. Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) has published two soft-boiled police detective stories in his Barrettsport Mysteries series. They’re set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community with very quirky citizens. The Amazon link for the more recent one is: https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

Today’s submission is an alternative take on an earlier SW submission. It might become the opening scene for a sequel to his current WiP – The Road to Environmental Armageddon. He’s trying to invoke late Middle Ages or Renaissance vibe, but story is actually set in a post-Apocalyptic future.

***

“The Panhandler (take two)” by Phil Yeats

Benjamin trudged home in the waning sunlight after delivering a parcel containing four flintlock pistols and a supply of gunpowder to the southwestern gatehouse. He entered the town square from Southwest Road and turned onto the busy Western Road, heading for Little West Lane. His home was near the end of the lane, within sight of the town wall.

He hadn’t feared for his safety as he strode along the busier thoroughfares. The purse of coins he’d received in exchange for the pistols was tucked into a secure compartment within his leather tunic. It suddenly felt heavier as he approached the narrow lane with many nooks and crannies where thieves could lurk.

Thoughts of the weapons at his disposal distracted him as he approached his corner. He barely noticed the scruffy young panhandler sitting on the cobblestones suckling a fractious infant. She was wearing rags, her hair was crudely shorn, and she looked like she hadn’t washed in weeks—a perfect incubator for fleas and lice. When he dropped a penny in her pot, the baby reached for his fingers. The tiny hand and abandoned breast distracted him. He lingered for a moment too long.

“Benji?” she said as he tried to leave.

She handed him her baby and paused before covering her breasts. He diverted his gaze as he took the surprisingly clean tyke and tried to determine who she was. Was she from home, the nearby village where he grew up? If not, she wouldn’t know the childish nickname his mother dumped on him. No one but his friend Thaddaeus used it. Solving the little puzzle wasn’t difficult. She was Leah, Thady’s little sister.

She would have been twelve when he left home six years earlier to study at Caverns Technical College. He crouched beside her, leaving a gap he hoped fleas couldn’t leap and let her inquisitive tyke tug the wisps of hair representing his pathetic efforts to grow a beard.

“Are you okay?” he asked when she began gathering her meagre possessions. “Somewhere to go? Someone looking out for you?”

She dumped the coins from her pot into her hand, counted them, and slid them inside her smock. She stood while pulling the drawstring closed and adjusting the shoulder straps of her kirtle. After hoisting an ancient rucksack onto her shoulder, she reached for her child. “Completely alone and nowhere to go. I’ll find a street vendor willing to sell me a bowl of gruel, then…”

He stood without relinquishing the tyke. “I have bread and makings for stew, enough for two.” He paused glancing up the lane. “And a tub for a bath. You could get cleaned up and…” He stopped, unable to complete the sentence.

***

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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