Tag Archives: free fiction

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

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

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

***

“Locked Room Mystery” by Phil Yeats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Spot Writers – “Mistaken” by Cathy MacKenzie

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

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

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

***

“Mistaken”

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

***

 The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

+++

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

 

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The Spot Writers – “Echo” by Val Muller

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

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

***

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

“Echo” by Val Muller

The moonlight wakes me,

It cuts the night,

Corporeal.

 

What does it want?

What does it know?

How many eons of time in its glow?

 

I sit up in bed,

Bare feet on carpet,

Toes splayed on the mosaic

Of moonlight through trees.

The room is cold,

But I do not shiver.

 

I rise, silent. Déjà vu.

I have done this before.

A memory:

 

Once, at age eight,

I awoke in moonlight.

It called me to the mirror,

And I looked.

Half in dream, I peered and saw myself.

My mind transcended the glass:

 

Someone peering back at me,

Someone old.

Familiar but foreign,

Comforting but startling,

The eyes were the same:

Sadder, more tired, more intelligent,

But mine.

 

I saw myself seeing myself,

And I shivered.

 

Child-thin body staring at womanly curves,

Tangled locks echoing graying ones.

What etched those wrinkles in my face?

What lessons sculpted wisdom in my eyes?

 

I don’t remember returning to bed,

But I must have.

I awoke the next morning

And I was still a little girl.

 

Now, the moonlight invites me.

It lights the night,

A friend.

 

What does it want?

What does it know?

How many eons of time in its glow?

 

In the mirror, it bathes my

My gray locks in misty aura.

My wrinkled brow

Speaks of hardship and victory,

Of disappointment and loss,

Of survival.

 

The gossamer light cuts through the mask.

I slip behind the glass to find, perplexed,

Entranced, a little girl of eight,

Staring back at me like maybe I’m a mother

Or a savior or a ghost.

 

Like somehow I have answers.

 

But instead I bring more questions.

How can I possibly have been that small,

That young, that naïve, that creative?

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

And why on Earth would any of us

Trade it all

For wisdom?

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

The Man in the Detective Hat by Chiara De Giorgi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, gosh. That was unexpected.

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

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

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The Spot Writers – “Unfinished Business and New Beginnings” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “unfinished business.”

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.

***

Unfinished Business & New Beginnings

by Chiara De Giorgi

 

Dear New Year,

May you be happy!

I don’t have any promises for you. I don’t have any propositions or resolutions either. What I do have, is a bunch of unfinished business from last years. All the things I decided to do or be in the past few years… I’ve been slowly working my way through them.

First example is a classic: the gym. My subscription is almost two years old, now. For a while I go three times a week, then I skip three months in a row, then I start going again. Every time I tell myself that what’s important is not the times I stop, but the times I start over. Quite silently – not to brag – I’ve managed to go once a week for the past four months now. Granted, once a week is not that much, but it’s once a week more often than I did the previous months. My goal: keep up with the good habit!

Another, related, topic is diet, or better: nutrition. Same story as the gym: I manage to cook and eat healthy food for a while, then do a cheat day, which becomes a cheat week, then a cheat month, and we’re back to square one. What I noticed, though, is that the “cheating times” have been getting shorter, although more frequent. As a result, I ended Old Year with less pounds on myself than I had at the beginning. If all goes well, when you’re finished I’ll be even slimmer.

(Excuse me while I bite into this chocolate bar. It’s been lying around since Christmas: another unfinished business from last year!)

I’m finally getting the language certification I started studying for years ago.

What else? Getting to the bottom of my TBR list seems a bit far-fetched, so I won’t even mention it. I could get to the bottom of this unfinished bottle of wine- easily done!

So, see: picking up the trail of my unfinished business from last years is the way to go. For the rest, I’ll just try to take one month at a time, tasting each moment, feeling alive.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

+++

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

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The Spot Writers – “New Year’s Resolution” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “unfinished business.”

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

***

New Year’s Resolution by Phil Yeats

In our staff break room on January second, four years ago, I announced that I would finish my novel by year’s end. On the following January second when I entered the break room for my morning coffee, I received a lot of flack with several people commenting about unfinished business. Their voices dripped with false sincerity as they asked when I’d have my earth-shattering novel finished.

It was my fault. I was far too vociferous when I announced my resolution the previous January. I waxed poetic about the book and insisted timely completion was critical.

The comments were even more pointed during the next two years, but today, as I approached the break room on the morning of January second, I had everything under control. I came in early, took my coffee to a prominent table, and tucked my carrier bag underneath.

My colleagues filed in, collected their coffee or tea, and the first group approached my table.

“How goes it with the never-ending battle with your literary muse?” my chief tormentor asked. He swept his arm around the room. “You really must get it finished. We’d all buy copies.”

I smiled sweetly, reached into my bag and pulled out a copy. “Hot off the press, and for you, a special price, twelve dollars.”

They all came forward and meekly purchased their copies. I didn’t leave the break room until I’d sold all the copies I brought with me.

Back in my office, I counted my ill-gotten earnings, two hundred and sixteen dollars., The libations after my seven-thirty draw at the curling club that evening would be next. And after choir practice on Thursday evenings, we always went to the pub. My friends in both places had been just as dismissive of my chances of finishing the book as my work colleagues. After they’d succumbed to their guilt and bought a book, I’d have sold the fifty copies I ordered.

Who suggested selling books was difficult?

***

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 – “New Beginnings” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “unfinished business.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon!

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

***

New Beginnings by Cathy MacKenzie

“We need to go,” Tim said. “Now.”

Lisa glanced up at her boyfriend. “Right now?”

“Yes. It’s time.”

“But I’m not ready.”

“Well, get ready.”

Five minutes later, Lisa appeared from the bedroom. “Do I look okay?”

Tim smiled. “You look gorgeous. As always. But it’s dark. No one’s gonna see you.” He snatched his car keys from the hook.  “Doesn’t matter. Let’s go.”

Half an hour later, Tim parked the car by the wrought iron fence, and they walked to the gate.

“I’m not sure I can do this,” Lisa said, gripping his hand.

Tim glanced over. “Sure you can. No one will know.”

“But…”

It was his turn to grip her hand. “It’s okay. I gotta do this.” He flicked open the trunk and withdrew the shovel.

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, quit asking.” He scanned the area. “It’s late. And dark. There’s no one here.”

The full moon illuminated the cemetery, highlighting grey pillars reaching to Heaven.  Some short and squat. Others tall and skinny. Mark had been skinny. He took after his father.

She gulped in a great breath, surprised the air was so fresh. What had she expected? The smell of death? Decay? Decomposition? Perhaps. Except they were several yards from the first row of graves, and the death smell couldn’t travel that far, could it? And those nearest gravesites were old, from the 1800s. The most recent were at the back. Any odour should be long gone after that many years. She shook her head. Quite being so silly, she admonished herself. She’d frequented the cemetery previously. No smell existed.

Tim slammed down the trunk lid.

“Sssh, quiet,” she whispered. “Someone might be around.”

“Look around.” He spread his arms. “No one’s here.”

“Could be someone behind the bushes. Or in the trees.”

“Hush, woman. There’s no one.”

She leaned into him. Inhaling his cologne. Gentleman Musk. She had bought it for his birthday the previous month. She took another deep breath. Fall, her favourite season, was in the air. Cooler temperatures always arrived mid-August. She’d miss that tell-tale sign if she left, and she hated the thought of leaving Halifax and moving a thousand kilometres away.

Tim was adamant he must finish what he’d started.  But what had he started? A new life nineteen years previously? Sex. That’s all it was. But, they’d been married, so it was more than sex. Their life together was to have lasted forever. A match made in Heaven. All that jazz. But was anything forever?

“Unfinished business,” he’d said. “It needs to be done.”

Unfinished business. Ironic. Not even the new year, but it was as if he must make a fresh start. New city. New job. Cut ties with family.

But he—they—couldn’t leave without Mark. He had to go, too.

They walked the rest of the way in silence.

“Here,” she whispered. “Here he is.”

Tim thrust the shovel into the soil. They hadn’t buried the urn as deeply as she’d expected. Perhaps Tim had known his son would be unearthed. That this wasn’t his final resting place.

Tears cascaded down her cheeks. This was wrong. But she kept her thoughts to herself. Wouldn’t do to upset Tim, and the task was undeniably harder for him. Mark was his flesh and blood, not hers. His son. She hadn’t had children. Discovered during her first marriage that she couldn’t conceive.

Tim had changed since Mark’s death. Not yet six months since he died. And when Tim got the transfer, he pretended he didn’t want it, but she knew differently. She hadn’t wanted to leave with him although he had expected her to jump for joy and obey, as usual. She had been so done with him numerous times but kept going back. “Give me a bit of time,” she had said. “I’ll come later.” He hadn’t been happy, but he didn’t argue as much as she had expected. Secretly, she was glad. It was her way out of their relationship.

She clutched his arm. She did love him. At that moment, anyhow. Felt his anguish. But any love she’d had for him over the past year of their time together had slowly vanished. “You okay?”

“Yep. Almost done.”

The moon shone on the silver lid half buried in the soil. She teared. Such an untimely death. But was any death timely?

He reached down for the urn. He brushed away the dirt and grasped it to his chest. “He’s back.” He smiled. “I have him back.”

“Janine won’t be happy.” Her heart thumped. She should have kept her mouth shut.

“She won’t know. She’ll never know.” He set Mark on the ground, picked up the shovel, and tossed dirt haphazardly into the hole.

What would Mark think? Would he be happy to be removed? To be taken kilometres away to a strange place? And Janine. She’d never liked Janine, Mark’s mother, Tim’s ex-wife. But the woman grieved as any mother would and faithfully visited him. Was it fair to let her sit with him, talk to him, mourn over him? Kneel by an empty hole?

“Tim, no. We can’t do this.”

“What?”

“This. What about Janine?”

“To hell with Janine. He’s my son, too.”

“But…”

He walked to the edge of the cemetery and threw the shovel into the woods. When he returned, he picked up his son. “You with me, or what?”

“Yeah, but…” She eyed the woods. What would happen when someone found the shovel? And the grave. So obviously disturbed.

Disturbed.

Her boyfriend looked as disturbed as the grave. A madman shedding tears.

“I’m going. You come or not,” he said.

She stood, rooted like the trees bordering the cemetery. She couldn’t do it. Couldn’t walk away with stolen ashes. Mark deserved to be left in peace. Dead or alive, his mother deserved her son. The thought of her coming to his grave, not knowing it was empty—no, she couldn’t be a part of this.

He turned. “Well…”

“No, I—”

“Fine. Stay. I’m going.”

They hadn’t been happy the past few months. It was more than Mark’s death. Simple life getting away from them, and she deserved more. She hadn’t given notice—to her employer or her landlord. Perhaps she had known all along she wasn’t going to leave with him.

She raced to the woods and picked up the shovel. Tim was still visible in the dim light. She could easily catch up.

He was unaware she’d crept up behind him. She held the shovel above her head, and the scene played out in slow motion: Tim dropping the urn, Mark hitting the ground and his ashes scattering like lime, Tim falling…dead…

The shovel felt weightless in her hand. She lowered her arm.

She couldn’t do it.

“Tim, we should take the shovel with us. Your fingerprints are on it.” And now mine, she thought.

Tim turned. “What?”

“The shovel.”

“Yeah, okay.”

 New beginnings, she thought. Now that Tim’s finished his unfinished business.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “Unseasonable” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “unfinished business.” Today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series (www.corgicapers.com).

Unseasonable by Val Muller

It was after Christmas, that relaxing lull before going back to work but after the disasters of family gatherings had already happened. Normally, Sharon would be cooped up inside, organizing her holiday things in hope of having a better holiday next year. Like maybe her mom wouldn’t gripe about her house being un-renovated, or her dad would stop talking about grandkids. Or her aunt wouldn’t mourn her as an old maid. She was barely thirty. And besides, after the way her little nieces and nephews tore apart her home every year, what rush was she in to spawn her own?

After the family went home, Sharon kept inside. If she felt especially trapped or restless, she might venture out to tackle some post-holiday clearances. Once in a while she could find stocking stuffers for next year.

But mostly she stayed in. She would stand at her sink with her endless line of dishes to wash…the cookies relatives had brought and left all came in their own containers which were never dishwasher safe, the fancy turkey platter and silver and crystal all had to be hand washed, so she lined it up on the counter to do a couple pieces at a time. Each piece had to be hand-dried and placed in its little box. A gift from Mother, thinking Sharon ought to have grown up serving-ware by now. While she labored, she looked out at her yard at the unfinished garden that always would be done “maybe next weekend.”

It have been left by the previous owners and included a lovely birdhouse and bird bath that the owners explicitly listed in the contract as conveying with the house. The woman, her name was Martha or something like that, invited Sharon over for coffee before the house got sold. She wanted to tell her things about the house, important things. Like how important it was to feed the birds, since they had grown accustomed to it. So for the first couple years, Sharon had kept the bird feeder stocked and the bird bath full of water. But it was old, and the bird bath concrete absorbed water, which froze each winter. It started out with a few cracks until it wouldn’t hold water and then the birds went away and then the big wind storm came and snapped the birdhouse in half.

Without the birds, there was no need to weed, and the whole thing got overgrown. For the last two years it had been staring at her every time she did the dishes. It was one of those unfinished things that she never found time for since it was so dependent on the weather. But it always seemed there was something more important. The timeliness of Thanksgiving preparations or Christmas cleaning or wrapping presents.

And then when there was so much time in the winter, it was too cold or buried in snow so that there was no use thinking about it until spring. Then when spring came along, spring cleaning always seemed more important, or going for a run, or catching up on reading.

But this year, Christmas was followed by a strange warm streak. It had been off Sharon’s radar because she always assumed Christmas was followed by cold. She had her snow boots already taken out and snow shovel wind up in the garage ready to go. So when she went to take the trash out and the weather was 60 degrees and then 61, she knew it was her second chance.

She hurried inside, knowing at any moment winter weather could return. The crystal could go in the dishwasher later, for all she cared. What would it hurt? And she donned her gardening boots and work pants, clearing out weeds and dilapidated bird equipment. Several new gift cards would help provide new ones.

As she stood back to survey her handiwork, a voice cleared its throat above her. It was a neighbor, a young man she had seen a few times before, but who has time to talk to neighbors these days?

He was standing on his balcony with a pizza box and a paper plate. “Beautiful weather,” he said.

Sharon startled.

“I’m sorry. I’ve been watching you.” He blushed. “I didn’t mean it that creepy. I just meant, well…they build these houses so close together.” He chuckled. “I’m so bad at these things. I guess what I mean to say is, I have this whole pizza, and it’s just me. Would you like some?”

Sharon nodded. She had enough leftover turkey lately. Pizza sounded amazing.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

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The Spot Writers – “Dinner with Mrs. Claus” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to title the story “Dinner with Mrs. Claus.”

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.

***

Dinner with Mrs. Claus by Chiara De Giorgi

Hello, and welcome! Please, come on in, help yourself to some mulled wine. Excuse me if I don’t sit with you, I still have some preparations to do.

You know, it’s just once a year that I have the family reunited under this old roof, and I want everything to be perfect. It’s a lot of work, of course it is, but I love this time of the year. The smell of roasted almonds and sugar; the sound of the wood crackling in the fireplace; the whole world outside, silenced by a thick blanket of snow; the balls of colored yarn, chased by the cat before I knit happy Christmas sweaters… They indulge me and they all wear theirs – I know they’re too funny to be fashionable, but it’s a sweet kind of fun, it tastes like tradition and love – it tastes like family.

Christmas is all about family, after all, isn’t it?

I love it when Mr. Claus returns from his trip and we all cheer, then we sit and have dinner together. We chat, we laugh, we exchange tales, small presents and hugs… now, that is Christmas!

Pinocchio always has lots of adventures to tell, honestly, that boy! He’s always up to something, and the three little pigs are constantly giving him ideas! And the girls! I swear they get prettier every year. Last Christmas Cinderella had dyed her hair blue and you couldn’t believe how lovely she looked! Prince Charming was stuck in the traffic, so Snow White borrowed the seven-league boots from Puss in Boots – he was already drunk, you see – and was there and back with the poor prince in a matter of minutes. Between the boots and my Christmas sweater, she looked a bit like a scarecrow, but adorable nonetheless.

Pass me those napkins, would you? I want everything to be perfect, although I know that nobody would mind if we ate cookie dough out of the bowl. Oh, the fun we have! It’s such a wonderful, festive time, it gives me such a boost! I swear it’s better than a pot of coffee, he he he. I cherish the memories for months, I wrap myself up in them as if in a warm blanket.

It will be good for you to be with us this year, you’ll see. Please, invite whomever you wish, from whatever realm: everybody is welcome. On Christmas night, you can be with your loved ones and keep them in your heart for as long as you want. Oh, don’t ask me how. You know how. It’s magic. It’s love. Aren’t those the same thing, in the end?

***

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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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 – “Me Time” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to use the following words or images in a story: whirlwind of leaves, wizened old man, lonely call of an owl, crackling fire.

***

“Me Time” by Val Muller

There he stood, in the strip mall in front of Tropical Palms Spa. His skin tingled from his facial, and his muscles were so relaxed he could melt. He sighed and glanced back at the neon palm tree in the window. Of course, there was nothing tropical about it, it being located in the middle of Hudson, Ohio. But that was the point, to go somewhere away from it all. Near a national park, it was a good place to get lost.

And getting lost was easy to do. He’d taken his doctor’s advice and started Intermittent Fasting, eating only during an eight-hour window each day. Gone were the days of keeping gingerbread cookies at the ready, eating one practically every five minutes. Without the chill of his wintry abode, he didn’t need that much insulation anymore, and the extra weight was bad for his knees.

He wondered if his wife would even recognize him after his sabbatical. He’d lost countless pounds and dropped so many pant sizes that he could wrap himself in his old clothes threefold. His energy had increased, just like the doctor said it would. He went for walks now, long walks, wondering how in the world he used to conquer all those lists and deadlines.

The checking once, twice; the playing moral judge. It had all been so taxing, so ubiquitous, so constant. Who was he to determine naughty or nice? His therapist was right: it was time for parents to start looking after their own children’s behaviors. Santa needed to look after Santa.

His elves, he’d sent off to a holiday in the tropics. The coconuts and rum would be good for them; after all, they lived on carbs. They would be back just after Thanksgiving. That would be plenty of time for them to run maintenance on COAL 2.0, the new program the rep installed. It was a fully-automated system that assigned kids gifts or punishments based on algorithm.

It scanned their parents’ social media posts, monitored phone conversations with grandparents and friends, even tapped into school security cameras and data from the NSA. In mid-December, it spit out a list of kids good, bad, and neutral. Then, it assigned one of a small range of toys—about twelve possible options, including rocks for punishment (coal was not environmentally sustainable)—based on age and behavior.

There was really nothing Santa needed to do. The program sent the gifts to homes via drone delivery. He could still ride on his sled, but the ride would be mere ceremony. He would be back in time to catch a Christmas movie with the missus while enjoying a hot chocolate (if it was still during his 8-hour feeding, and not fasting, window).

He stepped off the curb, and a whirlwind of leaves swirled from the side of the parking lot onto the sidewalk, surrounding him and playing with the stubble on his clean-shaven whiskers. The cold made his face, fresh with the facial, tingle. He shivered, for a moment missing his plush red robe. He heard the lonely call of an owl and turned around. The lot was largely deserted, it being the middle of an October work week, and he examined the Halloween décor in the windows.

He envied Halloween. It was everyone’s job to give out candy. And that, said his therapist, is how it should be. The world had no right to demand a single entity be responsible for billions of toys each year. That was too much for any man. A flashy jack-o-lantern in the window mocked him with its smug confidence.

He gritted his teeth and reached for a cookie, but there were none, of course. The therapist had blamed sugar—in part—for the Breakdown. Santa sighed and noticed a Costco across the street. He couldn’t help himself. He’d been working on thinking of himself and his wife only—as his therapist directed—but his mind naturally went to buying in bulk. He would just take a peek.

Inside, the store was already decorated for Christmas. They must have sold out of their Halloween items long before October 1. Sparkling colored LED lights on magnificent plastic trees. His body—his old body, the fat one, the one before his recovery—in miniature, carrying a heavy sack, standing on a mirrored music box. And Christmas cookies. A box with 96 of them for $8.99. He smiled, remembering the good old days and how that box would make a nice midnight snack. He reached in his pocket and fingered the ten-dollar bill. Crisp, but not as crisp as those cookies looked.

And then he heard the pitter-patter of children. A check of his watch let him know school must have been let out. The kids ran up the aisle examining the Christmas wonder. A little boy—that was little Timmy from Twinsburg—was pushing his little brother (Joey—he was such a good little boy) to get a closer look at the tree display.

“Naughty, naughty,” Santa muttered, reaching for his list.

But he had left his list at home. The therapist told him to destroy it, but Santa had opted to store it in his drawer instead.

“Hmmm,” he said, gritting his teeth. He picked up the box of cookies and walked to the register to pay.

Out in the parking lot, at his rental car, he put the remaining half-box of cookies on the passenger seat and brushed the crumbs off his shirt. In the window’s reflection, he looked like a wizened old man, not a holly-jolly one. He shook his head as he got in and pushed the start button.

“On, Dasher,” he said, chuckling. Then he reached for another cookie.

Across the street, the smug jack-o-lantern was still watching him through the window, with beady eyes and an insistent LED smile. Dash him and all his goblin friends, Santa thought, watching a mother load bags of candy into her trunk. The woman’s two young daughters—the Beardsley twins—were bickering about who got to have first pick of the Halloween candy. Neither even gave a thought to helping their mother.

Santa cringed and stuffed a handful of cookies into his mouth. The sugar made him feel much better.

“North Pole,” he typed into the rental car’s GPS. It was a long drive, according to the map that appeared. He’d need a lot of cookies. Luckily, the rental car’s on-board computer had a way to search for stops along the way. He would need one at least one every few miles. Yes, it would take quite a while without his trusted team. But at least when he got there, there’d be his wife, and an endless list of names to double-check while sipping hot chocolate in front of the crackling fire.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

+++

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

 

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Filed under books, freebies, Uncategorized