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The Spot Writers – “Perfect People” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. April’s prompt is based on a Stephen Hawking quote: “The universe does not allow perfection.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s one-woman publishing company, MacKenzie Publishing, has published two anthologies: OUT OF THE CAVE and TWO EYES OPEN, two collections of short stories by authors around the world, to read during the day…or at night, as long as two eyes are open. Not “horrific horror”…more like intrigue, mystery, thriller. Simply good reads.

TWO EYES OPEN: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1927529301/

OUT OF THE CAVE (milder stories for 13+): https://www.amazon.com/Out-Cave-stories-Cassandra-Williams/dp/1927529298/

***

Perry, a writer friend, used to read my work. He lived down the street and popped in whenever he had writer’s block. Seemed he had writer’s block more often than not. Did he have ulterior motives, something more than curiosity at a fellow writer’s writings? He was a dear friend, so close he could have been my husband, but I was happily married to the perfect guy in the perfect marriage, so I didn’t need Perry.

Perfection, right? Or was it a matter of perception?

Perry had fawned praise upon my writing in the past, given me 5-star reviews, sometimes 4 stars. Once in a while, he’d tell me a story was crap, comments I took in stride, for I’m a writer, and writers must have thick skins. And sometimes my stories were crap!

Praise is nice, when it’s warranted. I’ve always asked for honesty.

He was a self-proclaimed editor, too, and edited my work in the past. Edited miserably. I’ve found numerous errors and inconsistencies in stories he previously said were perfect. But I never said anything, not wanting to rile him up, for I was certain he’d be upset I caught things he’d missed. But that was okay. They were my stories, and he edited out of the goodness of his heart. You get what you pay for, right?

Right!

So perfect little me never said anything.

“Let me read a book of your short stories,” he said one day.

“Yeah, okay,” I said. “I’m working on a book now, in fact.”

I was happy someone wanted to read works that might be hidden from the public forever. “But be honest,” I said. “I want honesty.”

“You’ll get it.”

I emailed my book of twenty-two stories to him.

A few days later, he sent me his two-page critique. Two stories were trash (crap!), despite the fact both had been previously published in publications, which meant others had enjoyed them. Four stories were 5-star; eight were 4-star, seven were 3-star, and one was a 2-star.

I didn’t totally agree the two stories were trash, but I deleted them from the file. I had another I could add to the book that I would send for his quick review.

He told me what was wrong with the non-5-star stories. All opinion, of course. I was a tad upset with his comments on the 2-star story, which I thought was one of my perfect stories, but after sleeping on it, I realized he was right. The ending didn’t make sense, and neither did happenings beforehand that resulted in the ending. I revised it “to perfection” and thanked him profusely for his perception. Perfect perception, to be honest.

According to him, several of the 4-star stories could be 5-star stories if I did “this” or “that.” I reread each one, his comments forefront in my mind. I concluded I liked most of them as they were. They would turn into different stories had I revamped them. In one story, the main character would be an evil person had I followed his wishes, which was totally not the gist of my story.  I didn’t even understand his comments as they pertained to a couple of other stories. It was as if he hadn’t read them carefully enough.

I incorporated most of his other suggestions, the mistakes and inconsistencies, which would up the level of the 3-star stories (according to him).

I hadn’t realized Perry was God until I emailed him, advising him of my changes and non-changes. I gave explanations. I perfectly profusely thanked him.

They were my stories, after all, and the author is ultimately responsible for her stories. It’s the writer’s prerogative to accept or reject an editor’s changes and suggestions. Not to mention, in this case, that he was a friend; he wasn’t a paid editor. Besides, every reader has different likes and dislikes, different opinions. No story is perfect to each person.

I’m not perfect, but I am a perfectionist. I agonize over each word choice, check each comma, double-check each spelling. Despite that, my stories will never be perfect.

He lambasted me in a reply email because I hadn’t “obeyed” him one hundred percent. I was stunned! Umm, gee, I had incorporated the majority of his changes, even deleting two stories! Who was he? Perfect Perry? Yup, apparently so.  His opinion obviously ruled.

Who was Perry to say this story needed “that” or that story needed “this”?

Yes, all you writers and editors: I realize a writer is so close to her own work that she can’t see the forest for the trees. (And yes, I know clichés are a no-no. I’m trying to make a point, and sometimes a cliché, an already established statement, brings out the point better than a made-up phrase.)

As I said, I was shocked at his reaction. I politely emailed back. I explained my reasoning. Aren’t I entitled to my opinion? Opinions are opinions, are they not? And who’s to say his opinion tops another individual’s? I also didn’t realize I had to accept his every comment/change.

I expected him to apologize for his abruptness. He could be having a bad day. I’ve lashed out in the past, later regretting words said in anger from an unrelated incident. In fact, he recently lambasted me and seconds later apologized.

But there were no apologies. (Perfect people don’t apologize. What need do they have for apologies?)

He replied again. And again. Both times telling me where to go, telling me to f***off (stopping a smidgen short of using that exact phrase), something along the lines of: “You’re so perfect, carry on. You don’t need me! You need someone to spout praise when it isn’t warranted. Try to sell your books to a universe that yearns for perfection. I’m done.”

I was more than shocked; more than pissed. He didn’t deserve the satisfaction of a further reply. He’s perfect, remember? Nothing I can say will satisfy him (not that I need to satisfy him). I even said I was sorry in my first email. I was sorry? For what?

I wanted to ask: Is your opinion perfect? Are you Perry Perfect? Is that your middle name or your last?

I wanted to say: A little politeness would go along with your so-called perfection. And you’re not a full-fledged editor; you’re a writer, as I am.

I hadn’t realized he expected me to take his every word as gospel. I never expected his offer to read my stories would hurt our friendship—end it, actually. I miss his unexpected visits. I miss his conversation. He had an opinion on everything. Had run-ins with others, too, now that I look back, due to his self-claimed perfectionism, but this was my first battle with him. I should feel special it hadn’t happened before.

Anyhow, life proceeds—for perfect people and for us peons, the non-perfect humans. Perfect Perry has moved on, to a more perfect neighbourhood. To more perfect people, I guess. I’ll be around. He knows where to find me, but those pigheaded perfect people live in their own perfect glass bubbles.

Ironically, the last story I emailed him, the one to substitute the two I had trashed, was titled “Perfect People.”

I’m still a lowly writer, trying to find readers. And who knows, Perfect Perry may be right about my stories. The universe will reveal that in good time. But even the universe must allow differing opinions. Even Stephen Hawking would agree, wouldn’t he?

Perry: I hope you’re happy in your perfect world.

Stephen Hawkins: The universe may not allow perfection, but certain people living here think they’re entitled to it. It’s an entitled world now, you know.

RIP Stephen Hawking. RIP.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Millicent Hughes: https://www.danburyonfire.com/

 

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Millicent Hughes: https://www.danburyonfire.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Vampire” by Cathy MacKenzie

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

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s one-woman publishing company, MacKenzie Publishing, has published two anthologies: OUT OF THE CAVE and TWO EYES OPEN, two collections of short stories by authors around the world, to read during the day…or at night, as long as two eyes are open. Not “horrific horror”…more like intrigue, mystery, thriller. Simply good reads.

TWO EYES OPEN: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1927529301/

OUT OF THE CAVE (milder stories for 13+):  https://www.amazon.com/Out-Cave-stories-Cassandra-Williams/dp/1927529298/

***

The Vampire by Cathy MacKenzie

Nancy jumped. What was that?

The book she’d been reading, A Nightmare of Vampires, lay beside her. Had she fallen asleep? “Darn, now I’ve lost my place,” she mumbled.

She tiptoed to her bedroom door. Carefully she opened it and peeked into the hall.

Dark. Quiet. No—what was that?

A shadow. At the end of the hall.

Was that Nathan, her seventeen-year-old brother?

Once Nancy’s eyes grew accustomed to the dark, the shadow morphed into a vampire—a real life vampire. A female vampire! Heading to Nathan’s room!

She wanted to keep watching, but she was a fearful. Vampires were bad creatures. They sucked the blood out of you and where would you be then? But that’s why she wanted to be a vampire. She wanted control: control of her destiny, control of others.

She liked the look of blood, the thick red, coppery scent. She’d tasted blood previously, when she cut herself, sometimes on purpose, so she could lick her skin until she had lapped up all the red. The taste wasn’t bad, actually, but not as sweet as she had expected. She worried—if her dream to be a vampire came true—whether she’d be able to stomach strange blood. That was perverse and unnatural, wasn’t it?

But it would be fun to haunt the night, to soar through the sky—vampires did fly, didn’t they? She considered herself a people person, at least that’s what her teacher had recently said. At the time, Nancy thought “people person” was a label for yapping fools who didn’t shut up, but she later learned the connotation was desirable. People were supposed to be sociable, talkative, and interested in others. Nancy was all of those: all the requisites for a female vampire.

She hesitated. She’d love to confront the vampire in the hall and converse with it, but she snuck back to her bed.

Katherine Krimmins was an excellent writer, and Nancy immersed herself in the story again, picturing herself as Vanessa the Vampire. She was aware most vampires were male, but this was the twenty-first century. Couldn’t she be whatever she wanted?

The next morning, she met her grandmother, who was visiting for a couple of weeks, on the stairs, and told her that she wanted to be a vampire when she grew up.

Granny’s eyes grew wide. “What! A vampire? How do you know what a vampire is?”

“I know what they are. I’ve seen them.”

“You’ve seen vampires?”

“Well…just one. Last night.”

“Oh, you must have had a bad dream. A nightmare.”

“No, Granny, I saw one for sure.”

“Where?”

“It was going into Nathan’s room.” She pointed behind her. “I saw it.”

“Oh, Nancy, you silly girl.”

“No, Granny, I saw it.”

“It’s not nice to tell fibs.”

Nancy pouted. “I’m not. And that’s what I want to be when I grow up.”

Her grandmother hugged her. “Oh, sweetie, if you want to be a vampire, you can be a vampire. You can be anything you set your mind to, but you’re only twelve, so I’m sure you’ll change your mind dozens of times before then.”

Nancy relaxed. Even if her grandmother didn’t believe her tale, she had, at least, agreed she could be a vampire. Her mother, though, would have a different opinion.

“Let’s go eat breakfast,” Granny said.

They entered the kitchen. Her mother, busy at the counter, greeted them. Nathan appeared seconds later.

Nancy couldn’t help but notice his flipped-up collar. “Nathan, your collar is skewered.”

His face flushed. Up to no good, she thought.

He glared at her. “Shut up, Nancy.”

Their mother wagged her wet fingers. “Kids, behave.”

When Nathan sat at the table, his collar flipped down.

Nancy gasped and whispered to her grandmother. “Granny, see? Vampires do exist. They suck the blood outta you, just like one did to Nathan last night.”

“Sweetie, what are you talking about?” Granny asked.

She motioned toward Nathan. “Look at Nathan’s neck. See the red blotch? That’s dried blood. That’s where the vampire got him. Sometimes they don’t kill you, you know. It all depends how sharp their teeth are.” Nancy figured she’d be a good vampire. Suck up enough blood to satisfy her urge but not enough to kill.

Nathan, his face even redder, yanked up his collar. “What you guys looking at?”

Their mother growled again. “Kids, hush. Sit down, Nancy and Granny. I have eggs and bacon.”

Nancy ignored her mother and whispered to her grandmother again. “See, I told you I saw a vampire.”

Granny leaned in to her. “I believe you, sweetie. I saw the red mark. But let’s keep that our secret.” Her eyes glistened.

Was she crying?  She looked sad.

“You missing Grampie?” Nancy asked.

“I am, sweetie.”

“Sorry, Granny.”

“Life goes on. Companionship is a good thing. I think being a vampire would be a good occupation when you grow up,” she said.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Millicent Hughes: https://www.danburyonfire.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Transcendental Beauty” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about why or how a young person decides what career or path to follow. Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the poignant coming of age tale The Girl Who Flew Away (https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Flew-Away-ebook/dp/B06XKDFXTZ).

***

Transcendental Beauty by Val Muller

“An egg candler? You mean, as in candles?”

I nodded and smiled, but Mom’s brow was doing that thing again, that squinty thing it does when she’s mad.

“An egg what, now?” Dad asked. He peered over the folded edge of his newspaper. “A handler, like as in, a packer? You want to work at a factory, son?”

I shook my head. How could I make them understand? “Not a handler. A candler. Remember that old cartoon we watched at Uncle Mike’s house? The one where the farmer holds up all the eggs to a candle until he finds the egg that has the chick in it?”

My mom’s brow was now a map of the Grand Canyon.

I swallowed a lump in my throat. “Well, that’s what I want to do.”

Dad’s newspaper fell to the table. “So you want to spend your life holding up eggs to candles? Am I hearing this right? You’re taking five AP classes so you can hold an egg to the candle?”

The air grew dense.

“Are you taking drugs?” Mom asked.

“No!” I felt my face flush. “It’s just—” I tried to picture the German classroom, to picture the beauty of it in a way that my parents would understand. The way Frau made everything soft and welcoming. Even the German language sounded like soft poetry the way she spoke it. “For Easter, Frau Beckham let us make eggs.”

“Make eggs?” Mom asked.

“Who the hell is Frau Beckham?” Dad asked.

“His German teacher,” Mom said. She lowered her voice. “I think he has a crush on her.”

The blush rose to my ears.

“Aren’t you supposed to be learning German in that class?” Dad asked. “Is it a cooking class? Home Ec is for girls.”

“We’re learning German,” I insisted. “She was giving us the directions in German.”

“The directions?” Dad asked. “On how to be an egg candler?”

“No, the egg candler wasn’t Frau’s idea. She had us decorate Easter eggs. We blew the yolks out and then decorated the eggs. Now they’re hanging on a tree on her desk. Mine is the one right in front.” I swallowed a smile. “It’s pink with a purple heart in the center.”

“You blew the yolks out? In the classroom? On desks where kids sit?” Mom asked. “She could give someone salmonella that way.”

“You just make a little hole on each side,” I explained. And then you break the yolk and then blow it all out into a bowl. If we were in Germany, we would have used the eggs in the bowl to cook something.”

“Good thing you were in a public school classroom, then,” Mom said. “That all seems rather unsanitary.”

“She had the desks all covered. She brought these little table clothes, and she set them each with lots of napkins and even some chocolate eggs. And her dress matched, too. All very spring-like.”

Dad rolled his eyes and picked up his paper again. “Looks like our son has spring fever for this Frau.”

“Maybe I should call the school,” Mom said, her voice so much less dismissive than Dad’s. “This all seems rather unhealthy. And an egg candler…” She scrolled through her phone screen. “The median salary is laughable, James. This is not the job for a son of ours. Not one who is bound for college.” She put her phone down and squinted at me. “I think I will call the school about this Frau, planting ideas in your head of making you a bum.”

“Yeah, son. A factory job is no place for you.”

“Mom, an egg candler is not a bum.” I turned to Dad. “And you don’t know what my place is, anyway. Besides, it wasn’t Frau who got me thinking about that kind of a job.”

My parents looked at me, my dad’s eyes glaring over the paper.

“In English class, we’re discussing Existentialism. The idea is that nothing really has meaning until we impose it. So this whole idea that we have to go to college…”

“James!” Mom scolded.

“…and work fifty weeks a year just to spend tons of money on a two-week vacation…”

“You’re on thin ice, boy,” Dad said over the paper.

“…and work to exhaustion at college just to find a competitive career that will make us sleepless at night and stressed during the day…”

My parents exchanged glances. I, in the middle of them, felt their impact as if I were caught in a firing squad. But I couldn’t stop myself.

“So instead of sitting behind a desk all day, or stressing about clients, or worrying about competition, why not find something amazing, like the simple beauty of an egg? Why not look inside the beauty of nature every day? It’s very Transcendental, actually. Emerson and Thoreau would—”

But that was it. Their looks had killed me. I swallowed hard, like swallowing over an egg stuck in my throat, before getting up to do the dishes. I had to hurry: I had lots of work to do for my five AP classes if I had any hope of getting into a good college.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Millicent Hughes: https://www.danburyonfire.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Clark’s Memorial” by Millicent Hughes

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to use these five words: riot, tear, leaf, bread, nurse.

Today’s post comes from Millicent Hughes.

***

Clark’s Memorial by Millicent Hughes

Real nice to see you this morning, sir. Haven’t seen you since … well, you know…. My own boy, Clarkie, Clark Hamilton … fallen like a leaf from a tree. Well, our boy, our Danbury boy, ain’t that right, sir?

Yes, the pain of his death has worn off a bit, thanks for asking. The official notice was just a deadly shock. But since I got that letter from Richmond, the real letter, from that officer, I truly do feel better.

A thinkin’ person wants an explanation, you know. Just some answer as to how a little wound ends up to kill a man when doctors do battlefield amputations and the men live. ‘Course, I s’pose all the docs nurse them officers like they was Queen Victoria, don’t you think?

Died real noble in battle, you say? That idea might satisfy some, but it didn’t satisfy me!  I wanted the real truth and nothin’ but the truth. I knew my boy was not a victim of another young man, a boy with a gun just like his’n.  I wasn’t turnin’ a blind eye with some twisted idea of ‘glory in the grave.’

What say? Oh, what you heard is true, all right. Clarkie was wounded at Cedar Creek there in Virginia. but it ain’t where he died nor what he died of. Not by a long shot. I had the report he was taken to Richmond, so he must have come off pretty good to survive the battle and go on the cars to that prison.

No, that ain’t a tear! Why you think that, hey? No, sirree, bob!

Say, rather than tell you about it, I’ll let you read that letter for yourself. I carry it in my billfold. Nice enough that that officer cared to send it, let alone tell his mother and me the actual fact of the matter. Here, did you want to see it?

No, don’t refuse like that, sir. It ain’t real personal, like you say. I want to publish this letter to the world. That’s why I carry it ever’wheres. I want to show people that ain’t a drop of humanity in them Confederationist devils. Why the decent population down south don’t riot agin ‘em, I don’t know.

And one man dared to tell me the truth. He wrote me this letter, sir, namin’ it plain. My son, Clark Hamilton, met with murder, murder by starvation. Starvation by the fools in them Confederate states.

No, that officer din’t have nothin’ to do with our boys, just happened to be there is all.

I’m sorry you ain’t got the courage to read it. I’ll just put it back in my moneyfold for anyone who’s interested.  P’rfaps next time you’ll see fittin’ to take a look.

Nice seein’ you again, sir.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Millicent Hughes: https://www.danburyonfire.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Hungering for a Nude” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “hunger” (the hunger does not have to be literal).

Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who is diligently finalizing her novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. Coming soon! (No, it’s not about werewolves and vampires!)

***

“Hungering for a Nude” by Cathy MacKenzie

About ten years ago, when I was taking art lessons in Mexico, Dimitar, the instructor, asked if he could paint me—nude!

Immediately, I’d been aghast. The dirty old man! But I gave him leeway; he was in his eighties, after all.

But he had to be joking. Who would ask to paint me, a fifty-plus-year-old woman? And what fifty-year-old flabby female (like me) would agree?

He was serious!

Hmm… What would posing for a painting entail? Would I have to pay him for the privilege? Would he pay me for my time (and embarrassment)? I would want the painting (good or bad), but would he keep it?

I had shaken my head—literally. Silliness to even contemplate such an idea. “No!”

I took painting lessons from Dimitar for several years while wintering in Mexico, managing to produce several “masterpieces,” mostly of my grandchildren (so, of course they’re works of art!). One day he chastised me: “I suspect you used a ruler,” words I’ll never forget. I kept the ruler hidden behind my pastel paper or on my lap under a paint rag, confident he’d never see it. I enjoyed painting but needed the basic image first, and for that I used a ruler, measuring wee eyes and noses and lips and then doubling, tripling, or quadrupling them onto paper.

We didn’t go to Mexico in 2013, and when we returned the following winter I discovered Dimitar had died in February of 2013, at ninety-three. I was saddened. He truly was one of the old masters, and the art world would be darker without him. He’d also been a magnificent teacher; he taught me, and I don’t have a smidgen of talent.

We are back in Mexico this winter, and Hubby doesn’t waste time nattering that I should have accepted Dimitar’s offer.

“You lost your only chance,” he says.

I had for sure. “I know,” I reply.

“We could have had a painting of you by a real master.”

“Yeah, but I’m not sure I could have posed naked.”

“Your private areas would have been covered. He would have painted them from his imagination.”

“Oh, really?”

“You’ll never look as good as you looked back then.”

Another non-compliment. But Hubby is right. Even though I looked gross back then, I look grosser today; most of us don’t improve with age. But I continued to waver whether Dimitar had been serious, not that it matters now.

Hubby continues to drone on about the lost opportunity.

I glance in the mirror and sigh, regretting my decision back then. “Yeah, I wish I had.”

(RIP Dimitar Krustev. I miss you.)

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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