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The Spot Writers “Our ‘New Normal'”

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

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.

***

“Our ‘New Normal’” by Cathy MacKenzie

Never had I ever
Expected to break my wrist—
Or any bone—
Is this the beginning of the end?

Perhaps it was, for:

Never had I ever
Heard such terms:
Physical-distancing, flattening the curve…
What the heck!

Never had I ever
Thought self-isolation would be cruel
And unusual punishment,
For no wrong of mine!

Never had I ever
Imagined imprisonment at home
Other than once-a-week outings for essentials,
Though it’s safer staying home!

Never had I ever
Thought I’d be afraid to grocery shop
Or enter another store—even step outdoors,
But the money I’m saving!

Never had I ever
Imagined I’d be yelled at
For walking down an aisle,
What are those floor arrows?

Never had I ever
Imagined ER treatment like a leper
Because of my postal code,
Isn’t that discrimination?

Never had I ever
Thought I’d be forced to don a mask
Other than on Halloween,
But it hides my wrinkles!

Never had I ever
Thought hugs and family gatherings
Would be forbidden,
The technological alternative does not cut it!

Never had I ever…
Thought the world would change as it has.
Never had I imagined a virus would—or could—
Shut down the world.
Oh, 2020, what have you done?
The year isn’t half over and
The news is too grim to watch
And Nova Scotia mourns and mourns…
Covid-19 deaths of too many elderly,
Canada’s worst mass shooting of twenty-three,
Six dead in a military helicopter crash.
On our porches we left boots for Dylan
And lights to guide him home,
A wee bit of hope that soon died.

So many “never-had-I-evers”…

Alas, the world has changed
And not for the better,
But when our “normal” returns
Perhaps people
Will change to better the world.
We can only hope and pray.
But I have my doubts.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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The Spot Writers – “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 – “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 – “Paperwork in the Sand” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to write a story involving “”awakening from a bad dream or, even worse, a nightmare.”

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter, a young adult reboot of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece, available in paperback for only $5.75 for a limited time!

***

Paperwork in the Sand by Val Muller

It was a classic nightmare, one you don’t realize you’re having until you wake because it seems so real. Miriam was standing in front of the entire staff—front and back office. Dave had just introduced her, and all eyes pierced her body. It was obvious she was supposed to be presenting on some important topic, but she could not for the life of her remember what it was. Was it a financial report? Something about the new auditing policy?

The answer didn’t matter: soon everyone gasped and laughed. She looked down to discover the quintessential nightmare situation. She was naked. With her worry, her breasts bounced for all to see. They were too large to hide behind her arms. Dave scoffed and pointed. Bill pulled out his phone. Miriam’s thighs jiggled as she backed away, the rolls on her stomach squashing around to the delight of Jenny and Kim, who both did yoga and kickboxing after work and ate carrots and humus for lunch.

In the background, computers beeped and monitors flashed. The fax machine sang its cacophony of tones, and the computer played percussion. Miriam escaped to her cubicle, where her paperwork shielded her naked body. It towered over her, unending. She’d be working overtime for weeks, wouldn’t she?

She saw it all stretched before her: the long hours, the air-conditioned office ice cold on her skin, warming up with endless cups of coffee, a water fountain to refill her bottle whenever she got bored, filling up with donuts left over from the morning’s meetings…

Miriam’s phone rang. The called ID told her it was Alison Jenson, the boss’s boss. You only got a call from Ms. Jenson if you messed up real bad or did something amazing. And Miriam certainly hadn’t done anything amazing lately. She took a deep breath and reached for the phone. In her most professional voice, she answered. “Accounting, this is Miriam.”

Miriam’s eyes popped open. The sunlight blinded her pupils back into hiding. She rolled over, feeling that the sand had stuck to her sweaty skin. What time was it, and how long had she been asleep? Her heart sank. She reminded herself to breathe. So she wasn’t back, then. Not in the chill of the office. Not under the stacks of paperwork. She was still—here.

Here.

Waves lapped the shore. Turquoise. Teal. Azure. One of them was the right color to describe it. She couldn’t remember. Just another instance of missing Google. The color was miserably beautiful. If she survived this, it was a color that would haunt her dreams.

Her half coconut sat on the stone table beside her. How long had she been sleeping? Her skin pulsed a bit, red. Her heart skipped a beat as she remembered her pasty skin from the nightmare. She stood and examined herself. She wasn’t naked anymore—but close to. Her pants—shorts, now—barely covered her thighs. And those thighs that had been so plump in her dream—why, the hunger had eaten every last ounce of fat, every small dimple of cellulite. Even Jenny and Kim would be jealous. She sighed as the afternoon sun glared at her.

It wasn’t the golden glow of the afternoon sun back home, the one that welcomed you into its arms and eased you into evening. Here in the tropics, the sun seemed to go from high noon to night all at once. It would soon be evening, her chance to scavenge for shellfish.

She shook her head in admonishment. She hated when she fell asleep during the day like that. Those were her chances to spot a ship or a plane. She’d have to do better tomorrow.

That night, she breathed a word of bitter thanks. She had survived another day, she mused as she added an 87th tick mark to her tally along the rock embankment. The small crabs she had caught made for a pitiable meal, and as she laid down on her bed in the sand under the remains of her deflated life raft, she hoped that if her rescue didn’t come that night, she would at least be blessed with another nightmare about the never-ending paperwork in the air-conditioned office.

*

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 – “Snowball” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story including the words, “Will winter never end.” This week’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of the young adult novel The Girl Who Flew Away. Given her own experiences with several snow nightmares, her challenge was an attempt to keep the tale positive.

***

Snowball by Val Muller

Taylor was always precocious, one of those kids who could teach the teachers, and they usually resented him for it. The idea came to him during a lecture on The Great Awakening and its subsequent movements during a particularly dry session of US History.

Taylor had recently sold out of the mega-pack of chocolate candy he’d picked up at the local discount warehouse store. The bag cost him $19.99. He sold the candy for 50 cents a piece, or 2 for 75 cents, making an easy $50 during his bus rides to school that week. In fact, he’d made hundreds this year already, selling everything from gum to soda to granola bars, all at a tax-free, cash-only profit, to hungry middle schoolers.

Problem was, it was starting to become a bore. He needed something else, something more than money. Something exciting.

“…power,” his teacher said, summarizing the lecture. “The church enjoyed power and influence during the Great Awakening. Remember this. The test is on Thursday.”

In the hallway, all the kids buzzed about the weather.

“It’s supposed to snow like four feet,” someone shouted.

“And it’ll start Wednesday night. That means no school Thursday.”

“Or Friday!”

“Four day weekend!”

“At least!”

“No history test,” someone cheered.

“It’s not certain. Could be a bust.”

“We all have to wear our PJs inside out.”

“And flush ice cubes down the toilet.”

“Yes, spread the word!”

Taylor shook his head at the childish superstitions that held even in the eighth grade. But then he had an idea.

He wore a light blue button-down shirt and his father’s snowflake tie. His navy blue suit was accentuated by shimmery blue boots. The outfit spoke of Jack Frost and snowy mornings. The mutterings began as soon as he reached the bus stop. Taylor gently placed a huge hiking pack on the ground, and the crowd of middle schoolers gathered round. A few had already taken out their money.

“You’ve heard of inside-out PJs,” Taylor said. “And flushing ice cubes down the toilet.” He did his best to capture the power and passion of a revivalist. “But the most effective way to encourage snow is none other than through the stomach. That’s right, there’s nothing Old Man Winter loves more than a snowball!”

Here, he flung open his pack to reveal a stash of those god-awful pink coconut snowball cakes. He’d gotten three cases of 30 at the warehouse. The two-packs wholesaled at 80 cents a piece. Retailing here at $2 a pack would earn him a cool $100.

“Bring on the snow,” he shouted as he took their money. “Cancel quizzes, cancel tests, cancel school. Will winter never end!”

The kids were still talking about it when the bus filled in, their hands sticky with the pink mess. The bus driver must have radioed ahead about the disturbance: Principal Stanley was waiting for Taylor, hands on hips and toe tapping at the front entrance.

For an instant, Taylor saw his entire endeavor fail in the flames of detention and a phone call home, a young entrepreneur put out by The Man. But then he saw it. The flash of nostalgia in the principal’s eye at the sight of the pink fluffy treats. Taylor knew he was safe. A little graft never hurt anyone.

“Principal Stanley, can I interest you in a snowball?”

The principal was a minute late for morning announcements that day, and he left a sticky pink smear on the intercom system.

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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