Tag Archives: free flash fiction

The Spot Writers – “Dinner with Mrs. Claus” by Cathy MacKenzie

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

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 early 2020. Watch for it!

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

***

Dinner with Mrs. Claus by Cathy MacKenzie

I set down my beer and picked up the remote, lowering the volume on the television. Had I imagined the thud at the front door? I listened for the doorbell. Nothing.

Another noise. As if someone kicked at the door.

I flicked on the outside light and peered out the window. A Mrs. Claus stood on the top step.

I opened the door. Nope, she wasn’t the real Mrs. Claus, for this one was too young. Her blonde hair curled around the white fur of the Santa hat as if she’d been wearing the hat for months. Snowflakes dotted the red of the hat. I eyed her svelte figure beneath the matching red coat.

“I’m making dinner tonight.” She smiled slightly but didn’t move as if waiting for an okay to enter the house.

I scanned the yard for a vehicle, barely seeing anything through the shower of snow. My car, parked in the driveway, would soon be unrecognizable as a vehicle. I shivered, wishing I had driven it into the garage. Where was her vehicle? I looked around again. No other vehicles in sight. Had she borrowed Santa’s sleigh? I listened for the grunting of reindeer—I’d heard they made those types of sounds.

“Well?” she said.

I shook my head at my silliness. And for ignoring the beautiful woman facing me. “Sorry.” I took three bags from her. “Come in.”

She kicked off her heavy boots and trudged to the kitchen as if she owned the place, setting the remaining two grocery bags on the counter. I added the ones I carried.

She removed her mid-length wool coat and handed it to me. “My hat stays. What about you? Where’s yours?”

My Santa hat was under the Christmas tree. “I’ll get it.”

On the way, I hung Mrs. Claus’ coat in the closet. I located my hat amongst the gaily wrapped gifts, positioned it on my head, and headed to the kitchen.

She had opened a bottle of sparkling wine. Rosé. “Here you go.” She held out a glass, one of the crystal glasses usually saved for special occasions. Was this one such occasion?

She eyed the cookbooks on the shelves, humming and hawing as if performing the eeny-meanie-catch-a-red-nosed-reindeer chant. “This one,” she announced, thrusting out Special Pastas for Special Times. “What do you think?”

“Fine by me. You’re the boss.”

She giggled. “I am, aren’t I?” She tilted her glass to lips as red as Rudolph’s nose. Her eyes sparkled like tree lights.

I sat on the stool and watched her bustle around the kitchen, taking this pot and that pot, selecting one spice and then another, pausing occasionally to sip the wine. The aroma of garlic soon permeated the room. With a spatula, she flipped the shrimp and scallops as if she were a well-trained chef. Water soon boiled.

“Want me to add the pasta?” I asked, feeling guilty.

“Nope, I’m good. You relax.”

I adjusted my hat. “Okay, but I need to remove my hat. This heat is getting to me.” Was the wine or the stove making me sweat? Perhaps it was the company.

Mrs. Claus examined my face. I thought she was going to reach out and touch it at one point. “I’m getting a bit hot, too, truth be known.”

“So, we’re done?”

She quickly faced the stove. “Done?” Her voice faltered. “Done…as in dinner?”

“Done as in the Christmas charade, Missus Claus.”

Her shoulders relaxed, and she glanced at me.

My burden lifted, too. I hadn’t realized I’d been so uptight.

“Okay, Mister Claus. Yes, we are done.” She pointed to the ceiling light, which hung low over the kitchen island, and beckoned with her little finger. “Come, give me a kiss.”

I looked up. Mistletoe. Where had that come from?

Mavis and I had a simple Christmas tradition in our household. We never ignored mistletoe. After dinner, I planned to propose another. No more silly tiffs. My bed—our bed—had been cold and empty the previous night.

***

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 – “Consignment Sale Santa” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “Dinner with Mrs. Claus.” Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Find out more at www.CorgiCapers.com. Val, who usually writes by hand, is currently typing this tale with a wrist brace because of… well, you’ll have to read the story to find out. This one’s based on truth, or at least it starts that way.

***

“Consignment Sale Santa” by Val Muller

Molly

This was the scariest Santa there ever was. Mommy used the term “aggressive,” which she says means someone who acts like Charlie at school. No one likes Charlie.

So there I was playing with a dollhouse at the cob-sigh-mint sale when Santa comes down the aisle between boy clothes and costumes, shouting “Ho, ho, ho.” He walked slow, like the robot at Martin’s that tries to come get you. I don’t like the robot at Martin’s probably more than I don’t like Charlie.

They’re both aggressive.

He saw me right away, even though there was other kids playing, too. He came right over, slapped me on the shoulder and said “Ho, ho, ho” again, like he was a robot and that was the only thing he was built to say.

I did what any kid would do. I jumped onto my mom. Moms protect you from anything.

Mom

Like when you try to give a cat a bath. That’s the only way I can describe it. When that Santa came down the aisle, Molly spontaneously developed physical prowess and coordination that defied the laws of gravity and physics. She jumped up at me, expecting me to catch her.

I always thought that moms need about eight arms, and today spoke to that certainly. This “Santa” they had looked impressive. I think his beard was the real deal. He sure looked the part. Old, but in a timeless way. Energetic, but controlled. He was practically perfect for the role, except he seemed to have let it get to his head. He walked in like he owned the place, slapping kids on the shoulders and spouting out holly-jolly from both sides of his—

Anyway.

I’ve never heard a “ho, ho, ho” louder than what came out of his mouth. No concept of Indoor Voice whatsoever. When he came over to Molly, I knew we were in for something. He singled her out, as if he were one of those hounds that smells fear. “Little girl, I’m headed over to that chair for any children who want pictures with me.”

I was holding three toys in my left arm and looking at a doll that I was holding in my right. Things were going unusually well, me finding great deals on consignment toys for Molly and her cousins. When she jumped up at me like that, motherly instinct kicked in. I dropped the doll and caught Molly while simultaneously catching the doll in my left hand and balancing the three other toys in my grasp.

Really, it was amazing. I deserve a trophy.

But the brunt of Molly’s thirty-something pounds landed smack in the palm of my hand. None of it supported by my arm. Pretty sure wrists aren’t made to support that kind of surprise. I managed long enough to get a picture—after much hemming and hawing and torment on Molly’s part—of Molly sitting with Santa. Not on Santa’s lap, mind you. And who could blame her?

No, Molly was sitting on the lap of Mrs. Claus. The saintly woman accompanied Santa, giving apologetic looks to the customers every time Santa’s cheer was a little too jolly. Her look told me immediately they were married in real life and she was kind of just along for the ride.

It was nice what she did, though.

Mrs. Claus

When I saw that poor woman with the little girl, I knew I had to help. I saw the exact moment her wrist gave out. Saw it in her eyes. Her girl jumped up into her arms like a cat avoiding a bath. Poor lady didn’t realize what had happened, though. She was too focused on protecting her daughter from the traumas of my husband.

James means well, but my if he isn’t just a bit too eager to play the most emphatic Santa you’ve ever seen. James shaves his beard exactly one day each year. January 1. Out with the old, in with the new. Then that maniac starts growing it again so it’ll be long and impressive by the following November, just in time for him to play Santa.

I can’t tell you how many children he’s scared over the years. “Santa has to be confident,” he always tells me. “You don’t run a toy empire being polite.” I never intended to play Mrs. Claus. Sure, they pay extra for two instead of one, but it’s not about the money. I’m the protector of children. When they’re afraid of James, they’ll sit on my lap for pictures. I have a calming presence. Always have.

Which is why I stepped in and offered to drive that Mom and her daughter to the hospital. It was clear she needed that wrist looked at. I saw her wince in pain simply pushing the camera button on her phone. That’s no minor sprain.

But of course, an injured wrist is no emergency, and the wait at the ER was going to be long. She insisted I just drop her off and leave. She’d take a taxi home. But that poor woman would eat up all her consignment sale savings paying for a taxi. Better to spend that money on gifts for the kids. I had time, I told her. I’d wait.

But a three-year-old doesn’t know the meaning of the word. We tried reading to her, letting her watch the small TV screen in the waiting room, lettering her play with the tiny assortment of waiting room toys. But she wasn’t having it. And the Mom looked so miserable. The pain was taking its toll.

So I did what any Mrs. Claus would have done. I offered to take that little girl to the McDonald’s across the street.

“There’ s a playground too,” I told her mom. “That’ll tire her out.”

The mom looked at me thankfully, completely trusting. This would be her Christmas gift.

Molly

Mommy got a new brace for Christmas. It’s super cool. It makes her wrist look like the Incredible Hulk. She said Santa gave it to her, but I think it was Mrs. Claus. She’s the one who took me to McDonalds, and then brought me back to Mom after I fell asleep on the playground slide.

Did you know Mrs. Claus has superpowers? She went up to the counter and got the nice lady to give me all the different Happy Meal toys. So now I have one of each. A complete set! All the kids at school will want to see them. And they’ll be so surprised to hear I ate dinner with the real Mrs. Claus. She answered all my questions about elves and reindeer. Did you know elves drink sugar water, like hummingbirds? And reindeer can only fly when it gets super cold.

I’ll let all the kids at school have a turn playing with these toys.

All the kids except Charlie.

***

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 – “We’re in this Together” by Cathy MacKenzie

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.

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 early 2020. Watch for it!

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

***

“We’re in this Together” by Cathy MacKenzie

Walter rubs his hands and shivers. Night is drawing to a close, and morning will soon be upon him.

He throws another log on the fire, humming a sorrowful tune that came to mind. He can’t remember the name—or the words—so he sings his own. Nonsensical phrases he’ll never repeat even if he had a friend.

Loneliness. Grief. Sadness. Where’s the happiness he once enjoyed?

“Silly me,” he mumbles, knowing darn well where his joy went. The way of everything good: a wife, kids. A home. A job.

Not that he needs a job at his age. His meagre pension covers his expenses. He’s thrifty. Has to be. Enjoys it, actually, as if proving he can overcome any obstacle.

He tosses another log into the fiery mass. The resulting sparks remind him of autumn leaves blown about by the wind. He’s careful to keep the fire contained within the metal rim. Mustn’t play with fire: a haunting refrain from his childhood. He didn’t know much about fires then and never played with matches, but his parents still spewed the words.

He stares into the crackling pit. Flames rise, higher and higher. Out of control. In the distance—the far distance—he hears screams. Shrieks. Smells burning flesh. Oddly familiar. But no, he’s never smelled anyone burning. That would do him in, for he’s read that burning flesh is an odour one never ceases smelling. His sense of smell remains intact even though the rest of him’s gone to crap.

Despite that, he inhales. A huge deep breath that relaxes him.

No horrific smell; nothing but the smoky pine of the campfire.

And the screams? A lonely owl crying in the night.

The vision? Gotta keep that out of his mind. Nothing exists around him but his tent and trees. The moon. And darkness except for the hypnotic fire that’ll die if he neglects it. That’s what happens with neglect: death and heartache.

The fire is fine. Contained in its container. Nowhere for it to go. He should never have lit the fool thing, but every time he camps, he feels compelled to do so. A mysterious force that commands, “Light me, light me.” And he does. His penance, he figures.

He’s never enjoyed camping, but the dark shrouds him from himself. He can pretend he’s twenty-five when his life stretched before him. He can ignore the white hair, the mottled skin, the discoloured fingernails. Nasty yellowed toenails, too, but his feet are hidden in his haggard hiking boots.

It’s impossible not to feel close to ninety when glimpsing a wizened face in a mirror. A stranger—no one he knows. He sighs and rubs his palms against his dungarees. Who’s he kidding?

He doesn’t consciously look at himself except for shaving, but sometimes the bathroom mirror draws him in, forcing him to shout at the invisible person behind it. “I’m alive! Foxed you, eh?”

He stares into the darkness, somewhere behind the trees. “Hey, God, I cheated death, didn’t I? Or was that your plan all along?”

God shouldn’t take the innocent, but He doesn’t care. Too many gone too soon. Too many too young.

The fire dances. He blinks, swearing he can see his wife. Yes, there she is! For a second.

Then gone.

His son and daughter. Sees them, too, but for a lesser instant if it’s possible to cut an instant in half. He didn’t have his children as long as he had his wife and barely remembers what they look like. But, no, there they are. Their faces rise with the flame, and they screech, “Daddy, save us. Save us.” His wife’s arms wrap them close. “Hush, my babies, hush. Everything will be okay,” she says. “We’re in this together.”

He’s positive she’d have said those last four words. She used to comfort him with the same words when life didn’t go quite as planned—minor blips on life’s stage now. We’re in this together.

Yes, she would have said those words when she comforted the children. When he wasn’t there to save them. When they must have called out to him, “Save us, save us.” He should have been there.

They thought he was.

But he wasn’t.

He returned home to an inferno, the flames devouring their home. Firetrucks surrounded the house. Firemen with hoses battled an undefeatable rival. Helplessly, he stood. Hopelessly, he fell.

Despite fisticuffs with everyone blocking his way, too many stronger arms held him back.

He heard no screams. Smelled no burning flesh. He couldn’t even form the horrid images of what transpired. Their deaths. What must have been in their minds?

Their charred remains were found, the three entwined together as if seeking warmth from the cold. We’re in this together. Would the words have comforted their children as they’d once comforted him?

He leans back. “We’re in this together,” he yells to Heaven.

He prays his family heard.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbles. “I’m so sorry. We should have been in this together.”

***

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 Edge” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “A story that involves someone, not a stranger, standing on the edge of a precipice.”

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.

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

MISTER WOLFE (the sequel or stand-alone) coming this summer!

***

The Edge by Cathy MacKenzie

Lucille pondered the path before her. The road would be an easy one, effortless and without any pre-planning. No sales to wait for, no tickets to purchase, no suitcases to pack. No mad tear to wake up at ungodly hours, no stress with eyes barely open while wondering if taxis would arrive on time, no boring three-hour waits at airports. No throngs of people mashed together like potatoes behind roped barricades, itching to reach the ticket counter before the next person. No dragging of suitcases or tripping over feet while moving too slowly through the maze.

Although at one time Lucille enjoyed flying, airport travel had become horrific, what with delays and terrorists and crashes, not to mention hassles of added security and other rigmarole. In the early days of plane travel, one could arrive thirty minutes ahead of a flight and still board. One used to be able to carry shampoos and hairspray and face cream in carry-ons. Once upon a time, one didn’t have to worry about the number or weights of suitcases.

Lucille and her husband had travelled frequently, spending winter months down south until he died and left her to travel alone.

But she wouldn’t travel by plane any longer, nor would she take any more road trips despite preferring—even enjoying—driving over flying. Never again would she have to ensure the car was in perfect running order or fill up the gas.

No, there’d be none of that on her trip. Peace would prevail, which is how travel used to be before the world changed. The only worry Lucille had was the lack of light, for there’d be no light until the end—if one believed myths and suppositions.

But the journey would be peaceful despite the black. As if confined in a windowless train zooming down the tracks, the predestined trip would be without an end in sight. Time and space would take over while barrelling along, enclosed in darkness, a metal time capsule let loose like a bullet aiming for its target.

What would she see when she arrived? The fabled pearly gates, the white-robed greeters, the happy reunion with long-deceased relatives? Would endless time permit one to do endless things, or would nothingness exist—a void similar to sleeping when one didn’t dream or have any sense of life? She’d suffered those nights—too many of them when she hadn’t dreamed—and when she opened her eyes in the morning, she realized if she hadn’t awoken, she would never have known she had died. For if you’re in that state and never wake up, how would you know?

Such strange and crazy thoughts that she could never share; no one would understand.

She wasn’t so special that Mr. Death wouldn’t call; she wasn’t that naive to think he’d forget her. No, death loomed in her future. She once prayed it wouldn’t happen too soon. She had wanted to remain on earth where she felt secure, wanted to breathe in smog so she could cough and gag, wanted to cry when peeling onions, wanted to laugh at nonsensical funnies. She once wanted to take the good with the bad for that was life. But life brought death. That was the bad in the good. People had no choice.

She watched clouds rolling by. She enjoyed searching for faces—Jesus or other famous people who appeared in fluffs of white. Photos of clouds were posted as mind games on Facebook—faces others easily saw but ones she never did until she wracked her brain and examined them more closely. Even then, she didn’t always discern a face, but if she concentrated and allowed her imagination to run amok, she could see what she wanted: endless peaks and valleys, smoky ranges, bursts of sun, vast oceans—even faces.

What a waste of time though she enjoyed the puzzle. And what else would she do if she weren’t peering into clouds?

Life had gotten the best of her. Nameless life with nameless faces much like clouds. Those nameless, breathing souls were real yet as distant as the ones high above.

She looked up and saw fluff piled high upon seas of foam. Blue like the ocean or as black as night. Or virginal white marred by dirt. Send me Your love, for Your love shines down upon us all, does it not? Tears hit some; others are lambasted with hail and snow. Cover your face; close your eyes! Capture those daydreams. And see those faces.

There! Was that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?

Did certain individuals exist within that narrow sphere between light and dark? Was there a slight groove where bodies were caught, a trap from which they’d never extricate themselves? Lucille pictured a narrow roadway between life and death, one minuscule and easily invaded where an unsuspecting person could easily find oneself, on the rim looking down and not having the opportunity to decide whether to jump or flee; falling simply happened. One would not know how or why. Later, one might wonder how the fall could have been prevented, how the event couldn’t have been foreseen—for it was an event, was it not? The end of a breathing soul, the end to whatever a person believed in.

Who actually believed in Heaven and Hell? Who truly believed they’d burn endlessly in a bottomless pit or float through fluffy clouds surrounded by angels? Perhaps that’s how cloud faces evolved—nameless faces not so nameless after all: remnants of dead souls who had nowhere else to go.

Would she know when she arrived? Would she be one of those faces leering at earth, filling up lonely lives by providing them with guessing games to pass the time? Who would know it was her except for family and friends? The rest of the world would pretend to recognize her as someone she wasn’t. For the remainder of her days, she’d be one of those nameless faces peering down.

She looked again. Brad was gone and so was his famous ex-partner. Despite intently studying the moving formations, she saw no other faces. She was sure someone in the world would, though. Didn’t the same clouds hover over every facet of earth, no matter what country one lived in?

She gave up examining the sky. Her neck hurt, craning as she had. Besides, she had better things to do.

She clutched her cloth handbag against her side, metal pressing hard against her skin, the unmistakeable chill seeping through the thin fabrics.

She sauntered down the dirt road. How had she ended up in the deserted countryside? She had hopped the bus at Winchester Avenue and stayed on despite various stops—most of which she had never seen before—and when the bus lurched to a stop, she hardly paid attention when she alighted.

She was so confused some days she didn’t know if she existed in life or in a foreign state from which she couldn’t extricate herself. She hadn’t known then of the edge.

After getting off the bus, she found it, although pondering fate while examining the clouds had lessened its relevance, relegating it to the back of her mind. Sauntering through the countryside had brought it back to the forefront.

The edge.

The long road before her wound like a large snake meandering through the landscape. Sections were hidden behind themselves as if construction crews hadn’t wanted trespassers to view the entire road, but she saw through the plan.

“We must go on adventures to find out where we belong,” she mumbled.

Clouds skimmed along as if they had a destination. They had the task of remaining over earth, moving or still, white or black. What could be more concrete than that? Options, seemingly at will. Options she didn’t have. Her fate was predestined; she was positive of that.

The edge. It was there, ahead of her, waiting…

Dust swirled around her feet. Teeny natty flies swarmed about her face. She swatted them away, but they persisted. She ran a few feet trying to escape. It worked.

For a while.

***

I think back to my story of Lucille. The truth still eludes me. I was never very religious. Sure, I believed—and still do—that some higher being exists, but really, who knows? No one—until death actually happens—can know with any certainty, and then, of course, it is too late. Who has ever returned to earth after dying—really dying—to fill us in on details? Does anyone really believe those who travel the tunnel—the real tunnel—to reach the other side come back to earth?

Studies have determined those people who travelled the tunnel and returned—those who saw the bright lights or hovered over their supposedly dead bodies—were never actually dead in the first place. In those instances, brain waves interfered or dreams took over.

While we’re living, we don’t know we live on the edge. We don’t know if we’re going to be hit by a car or murdered by a crazy. Or develop a lump and be told, “You’ll be fine. We got it all,” and a month later informed your life is ending; the doctors were wrong—they didn’t get it all.

We all live on the edge. The edge of today; the edge of tomorrow.

All of us are on loan to the world. When you die, however, you’re relegated to a six-foot-deep plot you’ll own forever unless you’re scattered to the winds where specks of ash will float and meld with the atmosphere, living on throughout time, for where would the ash go except exist forevermore, whether in the air or falling to earth? Each part of us remains though not in our earthly form.

I’ll always remember my fictional character Lucille. I’m a writer, you know, and I remember all my characters. Despite numerous individuals with varied ideas, opinions, and thoughts, I still don’t know what’s true or false. I never have, never will.

I remember stories I’ve written, stories about life and death and characters in my head who never gave up until I did them in or they did someone else in. Everyone has repressed anger! I don’t like killing off characters, but sometimes it’s fun. I can’t—and won’t—kill in real life. My parents taught me the difference between good and bad.

I could have saved those characters had I wanted.

And now it’s my turn.

I didn’t save Lucille before she travelled the tunnel, so how can I expect anyone to save me? Not that anyone would. Or could. Death happens.

Lucille reached her end. She saw the pearly gates, the white-robed greeters, the angels flying strong. Everyone needs an angel. I do, too, but there are none for me.

I see the edge, the precipice. The space. My today and my past. I don’t see my future. Nothing exists below or beyond. I don’t see gates or bright lights or masses of white. I don’t see anything except a dark, cold void. A black, blank canvas, a mass of nothingness threatening to suffocate me.

And it does.

My earthly journey has ended. I won’t return to earth. I won’t be able to tell you what happens next.

The edge beckons. I jump. I fall for what feels like an eternity.

And I land.

 

***

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 – “Goodbye” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story about “Someone, not a stranger, standing on the edge of a precipice.”

Today’s story comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. You can learn more at www.CorgiCapers.com.

***

“Goodbye” by Val Muller

The wind whipped her hair. It whirled past her ears, crisp and brutal, just the way it would sound in a movie. In fact, that’s just how she felt—like one of those wives in a movie, the ones waiting at the top of the hill to catch a glimpse of her husband’s ship coming in after months at sea. The wife of a whaler, maybe. Or a colonial bride waiting for her lover to return from a jaunt to England.

But that wasn’t what she waited for, was it? Her toil was quite the opposite. No one was coming home. Certainly not Greg. How could he come home to her if he’d never been hers in the first place? Her brain itched with the questions.

Her hand twitched, eager to type them out, to allow the angst to flow through the keyboard onto the screen. She needed to create more words, words, words.

No. Dr. Moore told her she’d written enough.

She clutched the pages in her hand. They tattered in the wind, and her hand threatened to let go. The words were sentient, like little beetles dotting the page. Size 9, single spaced, beetles, confined in margins as wide as the printer would allow. She’d done what her therapist said, after all: She’d printed them out and deleted the files. All those months of journaling, hundreds of pages condensed into a hundred and ninety-seven double-sided pages. Each page a saga. Each page wrinkled and tear-stained. She’d read the whole manuscript—that’s what she called it now—once over before coming out here. She’d touched the words, surprised they didn’t stab her fingers as they’d done to her heart, spoken each one aloud. And then she’d driven here.

She had to let go, Dr. Moore said.

And so she’d driven here, to the overlook, the site of her one and only date with Greg.

It was only once, Dr. Moore had told her. One date didn’t constitute true love.

True love didn’t need any dates, she’d told him. True love was true love, and Greg was her true love, plain and simple. The problem was that Greg didn’t yet realize that it was true love. She’d gone to Dr. Moore to ask how to make Greg aware. How to wake him up, to make his heart sentient.

But Greg was married now. She’d had to admit that at her last session. She’d used her alternate account to view his Facebook page, as she did every day and when her insomnia hit, and her heart sank when she saw the big announcement. There it was, posted by his wife. She could barely think the words—his wife! His wife? That was her! It was supposed to be her. But it wasn’t her in the flowing white gown, arm strewn around Greg. Greg, so handsome in his midnight black tuxedo.

And the comments. People had the audacity to congratulate him. Congratulate him? On what? On finding the wrong woman? On taking a step away from true love? And some of the subtleties, asking about children? Babies? Those were supposed to be her babies!

The wind whisked her tears away as quickly as they could come. This type of thinking was not productive, Dr. Moore had said. She needed to move on.

Move on.

Move on.

She peered over the cliff. It was so far down. If she were a bird, she could leap and soar across the ocean, find a new continent and a new lover. But she wasn’t one.

The wind licked the first page of her journal, and she loosened her grip. It was the page describing the first time she saw him, walking into the deli at college. His eyes had caught her immediately, though he didn’t see her. He was like a supernova. How could she look away?

Dr. Moore said he was more like a black hole.

The beetles on the page protested. They did not like being trapped on the page. The wind called to them. They wanted to be free. Free, just like she should be, Dr. Moore had said.

The page loosened and hovered in the air in front of her. She caught only frantic phrases. “Eyes like stars.” “His name is Greg.” “He’s majoring in biology.” Then the page lost its battle with the wind and was whisked out into the air.

Its journey to the sea took eternities. She wanted to jump out after it, to rescue it from its watery fate. The wind seemed strong enough to hold her, after all. But she knew what Dr. Moore would say. That would not be healthy.

So she stood firmly at the precipice, watching the page fall impossibly far out to the sea. She could barely make it out in the glossy sun on the water as it finally hit.

She released the breath she’d been holding. With the exhalation, her grip loosened, and more pages took flight. One, two, ten, two dozen. More, more, more. The thirty pages written about the night Greg told her it just wasn’t working. Her musings about how wrong he was, how he could not possibly know it wasn’t working after just one date. Her frantic sonnets about his knit hat and how it fell over his brow. Her haikus about each beautiful curl on his head. His wife would never appreciate him with that level of detail: she didn’t deserve Greg.

All that beauty, captured in words, now flew out to sea like a flock of birds. They landed peacefully on the waves. Her fingers twitched, thinking of what to say about that, about her urge to follow them.

But that would not be healthy. She could hear Dr. Moore tell her so.

So instead, she sighed once into the wind and mouthed the words as she returned to her car to find a way to move on, somehow, with her life minus her soul mate. “Goodbye, Greg.”

***

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, avail

 

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The Spot Writers – “Rear View Mirror” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s topic is: something nice and unexpected happens on a gloomy day.

This week’s post is by Val Muller, author of the coming of age novel The Girl Who Flew Away. Surrounded by high school students all day, many of her works revolve around the lives of teenagers finding their place in a less-than-ideal world.

***

Rear View Mirror by Val Muller

“Are you serious?” Ms. Martel asked. She leaned back in the creaky chair, arms crossed, staring straight ahead at the principal.

“Quite,” said Principal Hutt.

“You want me to eat with these kids? The thirty minutes of the day I have free, and you want me to spend it with my four discipline problems?”

The principal nodded. “You know we’re all about creative solutions here at Echo Academy, Ms. Martel. ‘Discipline problems’ are really just young people reaching out for help.”

“Texting while in class and blowing off assignments is not reaching out for help. It’s just ignoring their responsi—”

But Principal Hutt had already turned away, working on his next email.

“I’ll expect to see you in the dining hall this afternoon, Ms. Martel. And I’m sure your students will find it something to look forward to as well.”

 

The cafeteria—dining hall, rather—smelled like teenagers and toddler food. It was a miasma of chicken nuggets, wilted vegetables, and teenage angst. And there in the center of it were her four nightmares, the ones who made Ms. Martel dread coming to work each day.

Tommy Sutherfeld, Elayna Cunningham, Marko Jacobs, and Lilliyanna Roth. They sat there like protagonists in The Breakfast Club, unaware of the gravity of their behavior issues. Did they realize they spoiled every Third Block Literature class? Did they realize they were like black holes, sucking out the ambitions and concentration of all other students in the room? Did they get up in the morning wondering how disruptive they could be, or were they simply that uncaring that they didn’t realize how much of an impact they had?

And now, with her paper bag lunch, Ms. Miriam Martel was tasked with the terrible job of—what? Babysitting them? It wasn’t that. Principal Hutt had said something far worse. She had to reach them.

Tommy smiled and raised an eyebrow. “‘Sup, Ms. Martel? The Hutt told us you’d be here today.”

Tommy scooted over to make room for her.

“Hi,” she said.

“We didn’t mean to get you in trouble,” Lilli said.

“Trouble?”

Elayna looked down at her lap. “We didn’t mean to have the Hutt force you to eat with us. That is, like, the worst.”

“Oh.” Ms. Martel opened her lunch bag, pulling out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“Is that really what you eat for lunch?” Tommy asked. “Or did you bring that because you knew you’d be eating with us?”

“I didn’t find out until this morning,” she said. “Principal Hutt called me in before school.”

“I stopped eating PB and J in like fifth grade,” Tommy said. “Why do you eat that?”

Ms. Martel shrugged. “It’s fast. It’s cheap.” She eyed their lunches. Two of them had footlongs from Subway. Two were sharing half a pizza, probably leftover from last night’s dinner. She fought the threat of a flushing face. “I’m saving to replace my car, or at least fix it,” she said.

“What’s wrong with it?” Marko asked.

“Starter, I think. I don’t know. Sometimes it just stalls.”

“Alternator, maybe,” Marko said. He was always talking about cars. And researching cars. On his phone. During class discussions. During classroom observations with Principal Hutt.

“Well…” Ms. Martel forced a smile and unwrapped her sandwich, taking a bite.

“If you’re going to be eating with us all week, like the Hutt says, we can get you Subway,” Lilli offered. “I mean, it must suck to be stuck with us. You probably have teacher things you like to be doing during lunch. My parents say I’m dragging them down all the time. And now I’m dragging you down, too.”

Ms. Martel shook her head. “That’s nice of you, but I’m okay—I mean, peanut butter is relatively healthy…”

“I haven’t even started my Macbeth project,” Tommy blurted. “I just wanted you to know. I haven’t turned it in because I’m just a complete slacker. There’s no excuse. If I turn it in, will you be able to eat with the teachers again?”

Ms. Martel inhaled, stalling for time to think of a response.

But Tommy continued. “It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I’m the worst. My parents pay all this money to send me here, and I just can’t force myself to care. No offense, Ms. Martel, but learning about witches and ghosts or whatever, written in Old English, just isn’t my top priority.” He sighed. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to fail my parents’ expectations. You know, being a failure.”

“I—” How was she supposed to reach these kids?

“See, grades just don’t matter,” Tommy continued. “Not everyone gets As in high school, and some people who get As turn out to be real—” He stopped himself. “I know, think of a smarter word,” he said. “See, I do listen to you in class sometimes, Ms. Martel. My point is, didn’t, like, Steve Jobs fail out? Or Bill Gates? The system just can’t hold some of us. It’s like a prison. You have to break out of the system. I promise I’ll do big things one day.”

“We’re gonna open up a garage,” Marko said. “Refurbish old cars. You know, like old punch-buggies and Mustangs and all that.”

“A boutique garage,” Lilli said. “I’ll be their marketer. We’ll appeal to nostalgia.”

“That’s another vocab word you taught us,” Tommy said. “Nostalgia.” He patted her on the shoulder and rubbed against her jacket, tugging it a bit. Ms. Martel scooted over. Principal Hutt wanted her to get close, but this was too much. She didn’t want to actually touch them.

She left lunch with two bites taken out of her sandwich, a stomach ache, and an impending headache. At the end of the day, Principal Hutt called for her to stop by on her way out.

“Looks like you’ll have to eat with them again tomorrow,” he said.

“Why?” Ms. Martel asked.

The principal pulled up an attendance report. “The four of them skipped the rest of the afternoon classes.” He shook his head. “I wanted you to reach them, not make them worse.”

“Look, I—” But Ms. Martel stopped herself. There was no point trying to explain things to Principal Hutt, who wasn’t even in a classroom more than a few minutes each day. “Okay,” she said. “Tomorrow, then.”

She walked to the parking lot and reached into her pocket for the key.

Empty.

She never took her key out of her pocket. When would she have possibly—

“Son of a—” She spoke aloud.

“Think of a smarter word, Ms. Martel,” said Tommy, behind her.

She spun around to see him smugly twirling her keyring around his finger.

“You little—”

He held his hand to stop her, and he pointed to the visitor parking spots. There was Marko, leaning against her car. Lilli and Elayna were there, slurping smoothies from the place down the street.

“You stole my—”

“Fixed, not stole,” Tommy said. He handed her the keys. “Though we did take it for a test drive to make sure it worked.”

“We left you a berry smoothie in the cup holder,” Elayna said.

Marko smiled. “We cut class and took your car to the autoshop. Our mechanics teacher always lets us bring in our cars to work on them. You have a Honda. Super easy to find parts for. We found you a new alternator. It works good as new now.”

Tommy tossed her keys in the air, and she caught them. “Maybe at lunch tomorrow you’ll bring something better than PB and J, huh, Ms. Marko?”

She smiled as she got in her car and listened to it start up right the first time.

“Maybe I will,” she said and watched them smile at her in the rearview mirror as she drove away.

***

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 – “A Mid-Winter Night’s Dream,” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers.

This month’s prompt is to write a story including the words, “Will winter never end.”

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.

 ***

A Midwinter Night’s Dream by Chiara De Giorgi

 

Through the forest I did go

Tallest trees covered in snow

All was silent, all was white

Soft and crunchy, left and right.

Up above the sky was blue

And the sparkly stars in view

 

Promised love, and magic, too.

 

Love and magic? Don’t believe

All your heart wants to perceive!

Winter stars are left alone,

All the fairies are long gone

And the woods will just pretend

That white ice is good a friend.

 

Oh, will winter never end?

 

Don’t despair, this frosted season

Has a secret, cheerful reason:

Life beneath this blanket pearly

Hides and shies from all that’s earthly

Until spring returns anew.

This can I reveal to you:

 

Fairies dance on snowflakes, too.

 

My dear friend, you give me hope!

I’ll see flowers on this slope

Thousand colors, buzzing bees

The green magic of the trees

Sweetest nights, warm air, and moon

Dancing fairies, charming tune

 

Spring will be back very soon!

 

***

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 – “Counting the Days” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. In honour of these mid-winter postings, this prompt is a story that incorporates the words “will winter ever end.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who dedicates this tale to Val Muller, a fellow spot writer who enjoys winter more than any other season!

Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, with elements of suspense, mystery, romance, and family relationships, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

***

Counting the Days by Cathy MacKenzie

Evelyn stuck out her tongue, catching flakes that immediately melted. Seconds later, she quickly shut her mouth and scanned the busy street, hoping no one had seen her act like a child. She inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, watching her breath spiral like smoke from a chimney. She adjusted her wool scarf against the chill and trudged down the snow-covered sidewalk toward Fernwood Tower, where she worked as an administrative assistant.

The Christmas season was over, bringing an end to the hustle and bustle. Except for the cold weather, Christmas was Evelyn’s favourite holiday, but when the festivities ended, she was exhausted.

It had taken her longer to recover this holiday season. The winter was the worst it had been in many years. It was only January 31, and she’d already lost two workdays due to storms—two days docked from her already meagre vacation time. It wasn’t fair that inclement weather forced employees to use vacation days.

“It’s not our fault you live out of town,” Blair Holt, the curmudgeonly CEO of Higgins & McCarthy, spouted to the employees at the last staff meeting. Mostly, though, his barb had been directed at her. Ironically, the firm granted snow days if town employees couldn’t make it into the office.

She caught another flake on her tongue. Will winter ever end?

That morning, she examined the calendar to calculate the number of days until March 20, the first day of spring. Not many left, but who was she kidding? Nova Scotia’s winters could persist into April, and it wasn’t unusual for a snowfall in May; June, even.

“Just get me through February,” she muttered, “and I’ll only have twenty days left.” February, despite being the shortest month, was always the worst weather-wise.

Evelyn had also counted the days until she retired and eagerly anticipated that date when she’d move to a warm climate. Down south somewhere warm—anywhere. Mexico. Florida. Maybe the Caribbean, where balmy evening breezes would waft over her tanned body. Where she would bask in sunshine on a beach and sip Pina Coladas without waiting until the four o’clock cocktail hour. Where every day would be another stress-free day of relaxation and doing whatever she wanted.

She clenched her hands, her fingers numb within the thick mittens, and groaned. Only nine thousand one hundred and twenty-seven days left until retirement.

***

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 – “The Unpopular Prompt” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. The September prompt is to use these five words in a writing: carrot, lily, moustache, esophagus, pigeon.

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/

***

The Unpopular Prompt by Phil Yeats

After their monthly writing group meeting, two women stopped on the library steps.

“What’s up with Colonel Mustard?” Susan asked.

Beth laughed. “Is that what you’re calling Maurice Moutarde? And I presume your question refers to his angelic smile when Claire announced this month’s prompt.”

“Yeah, really. Have you ever seen him smile?”

“Not part of his persona. And everyone knows he hates prompts based on five disconnected words.”

Susan shook her head. “We’ll find out what he’s up to next month.”

 

One month later, the dozen writing group members reassembled in the library’s meeting room.

“Time to start,” Claire announced before everyone had taken their seats. “No newcomers, so we should commence our readings. Who wants to start? And remember, no more than five hundred words.”

Susan rolled her eyes. Everyone knew the five hundred word maximum. She snapped to attention when Maurice cleared his throat.

He stood, theatrically displaying an opened three-by-eleven-inch Power Corporation envelope before spreading it face down on the table. Maurice paused, staring at Claire. When she looked up from her agenda, he began reading.

“A pigeon with moustache-like marking above its beak scarfed a carrot-coloured encrustation from the pavement, staggered to Claire’s prized lily and dislodged the disgusting mess from its esophagus.”

Beth whispered to Susan. “Would you conclude he hasn’t changed his opinion of those prompts?”

“Or abandoned his ongoing feud with Claire over the preferred direction for our group,” Susan added.

Their mirthful eyes and suppressed chuckles contrasted with the evil eye Claire cast toward Maurice. He ignored her malevolent glare as he bowed to his audience before sitting. Mark one up for Maurice in their little battle to become top dog in an insignificant writing group.

***

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 – “Coming of Age” by Phil Yeats

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

This week’s story comes from 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/

***

Coming of Age by Phil Yeats

The school bus dropped them off on Friday afternoon after their third week in grade ten at their new high school. They lived in two isolated houses on the far side of a large industrial estate, the last two kids off the bus before the driver turned back to town. Everyone in school thought they were going steady because they spent their free time together, but it wasn’t so. They knew no one at school and had been friends forever, so they hung together. But they weren’t romantically involved, at least not then.

Mitch dropped his school bag at his place and continued to Jen’s where Mortimer eagerly waited for his afternoon romp. She threw her bag on the porch and chased after her mutt. Mitch followed more slowly knowing they’d make so much noise he’d have no trouble finding them. And anyway, Jen needed a run as much as her dog did. She was the high-strung adventuresome one, always getting them into scrapes.

When Mitch tracked them down, he saw Mortimer running along the chain-link fence that bounded unused forested land behind the industrial estate. The dog vanished through a gap in the fence. Jen yelled “Morty, come back here!”, then squeezed through the gap and promptly disappeared.

Mitch rushed up to the fence and stared into the forest. With no undergrowth or large trees to hide behind, he should have spotted them. Where were they? And why couldn’t he hear them?

After pulling at the fencing to widen the hole, he squeezed through, tumbling and banging his head on fine white sand. Mitch gazed at palm trees swaying in a warm breeze and listened to waves breaking on a beach. He stumbled past girls in bikinis and surfer dudes in their baggy shorts wondering how the Nova Scotia forest had transformed into a tropical beach.

When he found Jen and Mortimer, they were back in the Nova Scotia forest. She rested in a hollow in the long grass while Morty bounded around like the crazed rabbit in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. No more tropical beach, just a meadow in the forest, a place where they’d often stopped.

Mitch flopped down beside her, and she reached over and pulled him close, kissing his lips. Had she also been assaulted by the strange tropical beach images? Were they omens, images destined to lead them forward from children to adults? Had they suddenly joined the high school culture where everyone was more interested in relationships than the physical world around them?

Weird and wild, but hey, Mitch could handle 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.com/

 

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