Tag Archives: MacKenzie

The Spot Writers – “The Snow Globe” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story that involves a snow globe.

Snow glob

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

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

***

The Snow Globe by Cathy MacKenzie

For the fourth time that day, Miranda stood in her bedroom. Her mother hadn’t disturbed the room except to clean and move some of her books into Kevin’s room.

She spied her Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland book and Ramona, the over-sized ratty rabbit she’d had since her third birthday, and cradled the soft toy in her arms, inhaling scents of long ago. Stuffing escaped from the seams where the stitching had loosened. One floppy ear hung lopsided where her mother, eons ago, had reattached it, but the ear would never be the same. No one could put Humpty Dumpty together again either, not to its original form.

The stuffed animal’s forlorn amber eyes stared the way Kevin stared at her, forcing her to look away. She heaved the stuffy to the bed and shrieked when she spied the snow globe on the shelf, a gift from her father on his last Christmas. The name tag had displayed both her parents’ names, but he had proudly exclaimed that he had picked it out, so she had always considered the gift from him alone.

She shook the globe. White flakes lifted from the bottom, revealing the bitty brick walkway leading from the log cabin to the edge of the glass. Mesmerized, she watched while the flakes settled and obscured the path.

Why did a cherished object bring forth such horrible reminders?

She sank to the bed, one hand clutching Ramona to her shoulder, letting the threadbare fleece absorb her tears. Too many scenes bombarded her: Paul, Kevin, her parents. What was real and what wasn’t?

How could one object that once held so many fond memories conjure such horridness? And how could one small object be so perfect in its portrayal: a non-descript cabin in the woods, an ordinary path leading to the cabin’s door. Pristine snow.

The more she stared, the more the past surfaced. Memories she wanted to forget were jammed in a plastic object, small enough she could hold it in her hand. Small enough she could toss it across the room, watch water cascade down the wall, and eye fake snowflakes falling to the carpet instead of to the bottom of the globe. She could even crush the trees and the cabin beneath her feet.

She wanted to scream. Wanted to shout to a God she didn’t believe existed.

She shook her head, bringing herself back to the present, and squinted at the innate object in her hand. The scene should be a tranquil one—and it would be to anyone but her—but it showcased where she’d spent six years of her life. She almost hurled the globe as she had Ramona Rabbit minutes previously, but she returned it to the shelf, sliding it behind a china doll.

No matter the horrid memories, she couldn’t trash one of the few treasures she had left of her father.

She must pull herself together. Had it been purely by accident she’d managed to escape the kidnapper’s clutches? Her foggy mind wouldn’t allow her back there, at least not to that last evening. Perhaps God did exist, after all.

She dried her tears, slipped off the bed, and knelt on the floor. “Thank you, Heavenly Father. Thank you.”

 

The foregoing is a passage (slightly revised and with an “ending” to make it more of a “complete” story) from a scene in the book, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. Miranda is kidnapped at sixteen, escapes after six years, and returns home. She and her mother must learn to readjust while constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering if and when the kidnapper will return. Twists and turns will keep the reader turning the pages.

Read this book to discover, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

***

 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 – “Rogue Copies” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places.

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/

***

Rogue Copies by Phil Yeats

 

Yesterday, I saw a copy of Tilting at Windmills sitting abandoned on a park bench. I sauntered by perusing the cover. It was definitely my cover, my title and my pen name.

I’d recently distributed electronic copies of the manuscript, including jpegs of my proposed covers, to eight writing colleagues for final comments before I formatted it for self-publication. I’d also sent the first fifty pages, no covers, to several publishers. But I hadn’t published it.

After sneaking down another path, I approached the bench from a different direction. I stood behind one of the Public Garden’s giant rhododendrons and noted everyone within sight as I tried to understand this strange event.

Had someone stolen my manuscript, printed copies of the book, and placed them for sale in local bookstores? Or had someone left a mock-up of the covers with blank pages where I’d find it? A none too gentle reminder from a colleague telling me I’d taken too long getting this manuscript finished.

I watched for half an hour, but no one approached the book, and no one I recognized loitered nearby. I picked the damn thing up and leafed through it.

Two things were obvious. First, it wasn’t laser printed covers around blank pages. It was a properly formatted and printed versions of my book, one I’d have proudly displayed if I’d produced it myself. Second, someone had sliced out the page that identified the printer.

 

This morning, I looked for a listing on Amazon—nothing. I stopped by two bookstores to see if copies were on their shelves—again, nothing. Finally, I visited the library to search for it in their catalogue.

I saw the second copy on a display table of books by local authors. I picked it up and rushed to the information desk.

The librarian on duty shook his head. “Not ours. Someone must have slipped it into our display.”

I now had two copies of my unpublished book and no idea where they came from. I wandered into the library’s busy café, ordered a coffee, and tried to unravel my little mystery.

A woman appeared, plunked a third copy of Tilting at Windmills on my table and disappeared into the crowd near the café entrance. I grabbed my backpack and chased after her, but realized the futility as I pushed through the crowd inside the café into a larger one outside. I’d only managed a brief glance at the woman, enough to conclude she wasn’t anyone I knew, but little else. She’d been wearing a colourful cape, but she could easily have slipped it off and blended into the crowd.

I returned to my half-drunk coffee slightly wiser. I was now certain someone targeted me with these copies of my book, but I didn’t know why or what to do about it.

An idea popped into my head. I could format the authentic version of Tilting at Windmills and rush it into print. In the meantime, I could write blog posts describing the strange occurrences of rogue copies of my as yet unpublished book. If they caught on, they could form the basis of an interesting publicity campaign.

 

A week later, I passed George Foster, one of my eight beta readers, on Spring Garden Road. “I see your manuscript is finally published,” he said without stopping.

I stared at his retreating back. Was he referring to the e-book version I’d posted on Amazon three days earlier, or more rogue copies floating around Halifax?

***

 The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Notepad” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, is available from her locally or on Amazon, to great reviews.

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

***

The Notepad by Cathy MacKenzie

“Bob, did you see my book?”

“What book?”

“The one I was reading. I had it a few minutes ago.”

“Which one was that?”

Candace and Bernie,” I shouted back, exasperated. “Did you see my book or didn’t you?”

“Nope.”

“I had it a few minutes ago.”

“Don’t know. Haven’t seen it.”

Was I losing it? Books I had been reading had mysteriously disappeared over the last little while. Is this what the Golden Years bring us seniors? Sure, I was forgetful but no more than the average person; at least, I didn’t think so.

I’ve lost other things in the past, like my reading glasses, only to find them perched on top of my head or dangling from the beaded chain around my neck. One time I found them on the bathroom counter, where I’d forgotten them after plucking that unsightly and hard-to-grasp silvery, spidery hair from my chin.

And then there were the car keys. Easy to misplace those. Voila, they turned up on the foyer table even though that wasn’t a place I’d ever leave them. I’m always extra careful to put my keys back into my purse because I’ve returned into the house too many times after forgetting them on the kitchen counter. Once, after looking for hours, I found them in my coat pocket.

But this missing book was another matter, one far removed from the usual, everyday age-forgetfulness. Math has never been my strong point, but this particular book has been lost at least six times—all during the past week. Was dementia setting in faster than expected? And was it dementia—or something worse?

I was into the third chapter earlier in the week when it first went missing, but I later found it in the guest bedroom. The next time, I discovered it in the closet in the side porch. I’d never leave a book in those places, let alone read there, so I was mystified. The third time, it turned up in the refrigerator. I wasn’t aware the book was missing then and had breathed a silent prayer that Bob hadn’t found it first. What would he have thought?

The other places were just as silly. Stupid, silly places.

And now, missing again, and I was positive, as I’d always been, that I had left it by my chaise lounger in the living room.

I sauntered to the bedroom and plopped to the bed. Tears cascaded down my face. Too many instances of misplaced objects lately, and I was sick of Bob nattering at me about being so forgetful. He had put his mother in a home when she developed Alzheimer’s. “I can’t handle her anymore,” he had said. He was an only child; there was no one else. I offered to take care of her since I was home all day, but Bob wouldn’t hear of it. “She has plenty of money. She can afford to go to a home.”

Stashing a human away, never again to see the light of day, was cruel. And everyone’s heard horror stories about those places. Bob’s promised daily visits turned into weekly visits that soon morphed into monthly. The month before she passed on, visits had become almost non-existent. Bob seemed grateful at the end as if he’d been absolved of guilt. And duty.

Would Bob do that to me? I’ve always dreaded going into a senior’s home. We’d made a pact when we married thirty years ago that we’d never do that to the other. Instead, we’d care for each other in sickness and in health—‘til death do us part.

But if I were losing my mind? What then? I’d eventually be unaware of my surroundings, and Bob could easily deposit me in one of those institutions. Without a functioning mind, how would I know?

I dried my tears and picked up the phone. I must see my doctor. Luck was on my side. She had an opening on Monday. I didn’t tell Bob. No sense worrying him. He wouldn’t know anyhow; he’d be at work.

Four months until he retired. We’d enjoy the good life then, travelling, dining out, enjoying each other’s company. Bob was excited and eager for that day.

“Did you find your book?” he asked when I returned to the kitchen.

“Yes.” For the first time in my marriage, I lied to my husband.

Minutes later, I found it in the laundry room on top of the dryer.

Hours later, while trying to concentrate on Candace and Bernie—a not-so-happy life for either of those fictional characters—I devised a plan. I’d keep a small notebook in my pocket and when I finished reading, I’d jot down where I left my book. That way, I’d easily find it. Bob would be none the wiser.

The plan seemed ideal to me (as long as I remembered I had a notepad), yet I shivered despite the hot summer day. Is this what my life had reverted to? Losing one’s mind wasn’t pleasant.

Bob seemed distant in bed that night. When I questioned him, he claimed work issues. I returned to my side of the king-sized bed.

On Monday, my doctor assured me I was fine. “Advancing years,” she said. “I’ve experienced the same issues.” She was ready for retirement, too, but I bet she hadn’t experienced missing books that turned up in odd places.

When I returned home, I decided to start the week fresh. A new week. A new notepad.

The notepad didn’t help. Most of my days were wasted while I continually searched for my book. I felt like a child hunting for Easter eggs. I didn’t get much reading done. But I knew one thing for certain: I wasn’t going crazy; I hadn’t lost my mind. But what was going on?

And then, mid-week at noon (Bob always came home for lunch), I caught him scurrying off with my book.

Aha! The mystery was solved. But why?

The next evening, I followed Bob when he was purportedly going to the Silver Seniors’ Centre down the road. Supposedly, guys played crib there once a week.

But he didn’t go to the Seniors’ Centre.

And then it all made sense. He wanted to get rid of me, probably wanted to commit me to an insane asylum (did such institutions still exist?) or, at the very least, toss me into a home as he had his mother. If it weren’t for my trusty notepad, I’m positive I would have turned into a crazy.

Yep, you guessed it! (Didn’t you?) Bob, my dear sweet (ahem!) husband, was experiencing itchiness.

Bob had found a young thing to cavort with.

I immediately transferred half of our investments into my name, cleaned out our joint bank account, and left him to his sweet honey. He never contacted me. He knew I had the goods on him, so to speak.

I don’t know what he’s doing now, but I’m enjoying my books in my solitude. And they don’t go missing any longer!

Mwahahaha!

***

 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 – “If You Can’t Kill It, Make It Your Friend” by Chiara De Giorgi

The current prompt: News these days contain a plethora of depressing stuff from floods and wildfires and other environmental problems, to mass shootings, to refuge problems and other political and social crises, to whatever you like as your favourite example. Write a story focused on one or more of these depressing occurrences and give it a happy ending.

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.

***

If You Can’t Kill It, Make It Your Friend by Chiara De Giorgi.

Up to 60% of the human body is water. If left without water, a human being dies in three or four days. That’s seventy-two to ninety-six hours. Plants die: a desert is what you have when there’s no water. No water means nothing alive. Water is life.

But water is death, too.

Have you ever noticed how many times water is involved in a natural disaster? Floods, heavy rains, hurricanes, tsunamis… Water can save you from burning in a fire, but then water can freeze and kill you with hypothermia.

After losing friends, family, and belongings to water, in one form or another, more than enough times, I realized I hated it. And yet, the supremely annoying fact was, I couldn’t live without it. I felt helpless when, during a torrid summer, all I could dream of was a lake of crystal clear water to dive into; a frothing waterfall; an iced glass of pure water.

Water had become an obsession. I feared it, I craved it.

I spent years researching ways to survive without this hateful dependency on water, trying to figure out a way to substitute it with something, anything else. I even went so far as designing living beings that were not carbon-based, thinking that maybe it would be possible to operate just a small genetic modification on humans, to make them not water-dependant.

It didn’t work, nothing worked. I was left sad, frustrated, empty-handed, and alone.

Then one day I woke up with a totally different strategy on my mind: if you can’t kill it, make it your friend.

If I could not come up with a way to survive with no water, I’d come up with a way to survive too much water.

My studies changed direction: no more chemistry, biology, and genetics. I turned to myths and folklore.

When I felt ready, I moved to Maldives. There are often hurricanes and tsunamis there, lots of unexpected water, and it’s a lovely place when the weather’s good.

When the rain started falling, and the wind started blowing, and the earth started shaking, and the waves started climbing towards the sky, I was there. While everybody was fleeing to the backland, I ran to the beach. While everybody was wearing a raincoat, I stripped down to my bikini. While everybody screamed for help, I let out a triumphant cry and dove.

See, I am a mermaid, now. Too much water will never kill me, and I’ll never suffer from the lack of it, as oceans are limitless and everlasting. I won’t ever lose my friends and family to water, and it will never steal my belongings again. I won. If you can’t kill it, make it your friend.

***

The Spot Writers – Our Members:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Oh, Dragonfly

Barbasol Championship - Round Two

(September 11, 2018: Eighteen Months)

Oh, Dragonfly

It soars
Up and down,
Over and across,
Swooping like a crow,
Soaring like an eagle,
Small,
Inconsequential,
Its shadow dark,
Larger on ground than in air.

Zooming over the glistening water,
Teeny wings unfolded,
Fluttering,
Almost scraping the water
And then coming toward me,
Wings spread like an airplane—
Or an angel.

Is it trying to catch my attention?
I watch,
Wait,
Wonder.

Even with grandchildren
Laughing, splashing, yelling,
It remains
Unfrightened,
Bold, soundless,
Flying in, flying out.

My vision blurs.
My throat constricts.

Could it be?

They say dragonflies are
A symbol of resurrection,
The deceased returning:
A fairy sprinkling dust
Or an angel planting kisses.

I watch you zoom by,
Disappearing for seconds,
Returning just as quickly
And landing on my knee—
A sign of good luck!

My son, is that you?

Oh, how you loved the pool,
The lounger you reclined upon
Rests in the same place.

I see you there,
Deep in thought,
Eyes closed,
Soaking up too much sun,
But I don’t admonish.

Not anymore.

No matter where you are:
Floating forever in eternity,
Twinkling with the stars,
Sleeping on the moon,
Dancing with the clouds,
Marvelling at mars,
Or returning to earth
If only for moments
As a fleeting dragonfly,
I’ll take what I can.

I’ll grasp every sign:
Every whisper,
Every breath,
Every touch.

Even if not you
I’ll pretend,
I’ll hold memories dear
To my chest,
At my breast,
Within my heart.

I sigh…
Oh, dragonfly,
Where have you gone?

I watch and wait.

You don’t return.

But that’s okay
For I’ll wake another morning,
I’ll search another day.

+++

In memory of my beloved, always missed son Matthew. Gone eighteen months today.

As Matt said numerous times the last too-short eight weeks of his life after we were given the diagnosis: “F*** cancer.” I echo his sentiments. (Can you imagine: two months from diagnosis to death!?)

I’ll miss you until my last breath.

Matt alone (2)

 

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama with elements of thriller, suspense, mystery, romance, and family dynamics. Buy it on Amazon. Also available locally from the author and at other local retailers.

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The Spot Writers – “My Life Beyond the Hills” by Chiara De Giorgi

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 Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

My life beyond the hills

by Chiara De Giorgi

 

“If you want to know what my life will be like, you have to follow me.”

“Where?”

“There.”

The girl pointed to the top of the hill.

By then, I was pretty sure I was dreaming. Where and how had I fallen asleep, though?

 

My friends had wanted to go paddling on the lake, but I had felt such an urge to go explore the woods behind the B&B, that I had quickly packed a waterproof jacket and a bottle of sunscreen  – you never know what the weather’s going to be like in Scotland, after all! – and had started hiking up the hill.

Fluffy, white clouds were scattered across the sky, and a soft, warm wind was blowing, leaves rustling under its fingertips. The air smelled sweet, birds were singing, flowers were blooming all around, and my heart was about to burst with joy. This place was so beautiful, and somehow familiar. Where had I smelled that sweetness before? When had I seen such colorful meadows?

My hike abruptly came to an end when I reached a fence. I glanced right and left and saw no one, but I’d never climb over it: I was too well behaved for that. I squinted in the sunlight, trying to locate the end of the fence: maybe I could just go round it, and find the path again on the other side. I saw nothing promising, though: the fence just climbed all the way up the hill and disappeared beyond the top.

“I can show you a way through.”

Her voice startled me. Where had she come from? She looked about my age, small leaves and grass blades were entangled in her hair, that was long and dark and matted. Her sparkling green eyes made her dirty face look pretty, and she watched me with wariness and amusement.

I didn’t know what to say, I just opened my mouth and asked: “How?”

“Come with me, quick!”

She picked up her long, ragged skirts and started running up the hill, along the fence.

“What? Wait!”

I started after her before I even had the time to think. Who was this girl? Where had she come from? Why was she so shabby? Where was she leading me, and why?

“Okay, stop. Stop!”  I cried.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “We can’t stop now. They’ll catch us! Come on, run, we’re almost there.”

She started up the hill again, and I couldn’t help but follow. I stopped again when she did. I thought I’d be out of breath, but I was not: that’s when I realized this must be a dream.

“Now what?”

“Look”, she said, pointing to the ground. The fence had been wrecked.

“We’re too big, we’ll hurt ourselves. Besides, what’s the point? Why not simply climb, if we have to get to the other side?”

She grinned.

“Let’s do that!”

With one leap she was beyond the fence and had started running again.

“Wait, stop!”

She kept running, so I climbed the fence, much less nimbly than her, I admit, and ran after her.

She finally stopped and crouched behind a big, thorny bush. Sweat was leaving white streaks on her dirty brow and cheeks, her breath was heavy. She looked at me, terror in her eyes.

“What? What is it?” I asked, grabbing her hand.

“Shut up, don’t talk! They might hear us. Oh God, will they catch us? Where are they? Can you see them?”

“Who are you talking about? There’s no one here, it’s just the two of us.” Dream or not, I was starting to feel uncomfortable. “Now calm down and tell me: who are you? What or who are you running from?”

She looked at me with sad eyes.

“Don’t you remember?” she asked.

I gasped. One moment I was myself, the next I was the girl in front of me. Chased by men who wanted to burn me as a witch. By men who had burned down my village, killing or capturing all my friends and family. I was left alone in a dangerous world. Running for my life, but where?

My head was spinning.

“What…”

“Now you remember”, she muttered. “We fled”, she added, nodding to herself, her eyes lost in the distance.

“Did… Did they catch us?”

She shook her head.

“They did not. We ran for days, climbing hill after hill after hill. We were all alone. We shed tears for all the people we had lost. For all the beauty of this place, wasted on evil people. For all the magic that was lost.”

I didn’t dare break the silence that followed, so I stayed still, crouched next to her, waiting for her to speak again. At last, she glanced at me and smiled.

“It wasn’t lost, not all of it, at least. The magic, I mean. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I am you, you are me. That much you know, right?”

I nodded quickly, before my mind had time to process the thought and convince me it was nonsense.

“I am here right now, but you are not. Not really, at least. You are my future. I needed a scrap of hope, and I called out to you. Now I know it’ll be worth it.”

I slowly stood and lifted my eyes to the top of the hill. She did the same.

“If you want to know what my life will be like, you have to follow me.”

“Where?”

“There.”

One heartbeat. Two, three. I shook my head.

“Go on and live your life”, I said then. “I’ll go on and live mine. Come see me some other time, if you wish. Let me know how you’re doing.”

She sighed, but kept on smiling.

“I will. Take care, and be wise.”

She turned and started running again. I stood there, watching her becoming smaller and smaller until she disappeared beyond the top of the hill.

I rubbed my eyes, trying to wake up, but realized I was already awake.

The sun was about to set and I must run if I wanted to be back at the B&B before dark.

 

***

The Spot Writers:

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

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

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

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

 

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The Spot Writers – “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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Dear Matt

(Yesterday’s sad event)

 

Dear Matt,

 

We stand before you, burying you again:

Seventeen months after your death,

One day ahead of the first anniversary of your burial,

And tears are as fresh today as then.

 

I’m not in denial—none of us are,

We know you’re gone,

But like a broken record

So many unanswered questions abound.

 

I’m elated to be with your siblings this weekend,

We’re celebrating in style—not!

That’s only an expression

That came to my inebriated mind.

 

Perhaps we’re in reflection mode,

Enjoying each other as we did

When you were with us,

And, oh, how I wish you were here.

 

Perhaps we think of other things:

Sadness, happiness—who knows.

I’m not privy to others’ minds.

I only know mine.

 

We all grieve differently.

Everyone misses you.

Everyone sheds tears

In their own way.

 

We brought Bud Light with us,

We pray, we speak, we remember.

We won’t forget you.

We never will. I never will.

 

I miss you so much, my son,

My middle child,

My only planned child,

Ironically, the only child I didn’t want.

 

A contradiction, for sure (there’s a story there!),

But all turned out okay in the end:

Your birth, your life.

All was okay until I couldn’t save you.

 

I tried.

I tried so hard. With all my might.

I’d do the same for your siblings,

But I’m not God.

 

This world isn’t all about me;

I know that.

I’m just a peon in the universe,

Feeling bereft without one of my children.

 

Existing with a horrid hole,

Quashing aches within my soul,

Searching for a missing puzzle piece

Lost forever.

 

With every breath I miss you,

I shout to the Heavens,

I shriek to God,

How can this be?

 

I want to say, “Rest in peace, my son,”

But that’s such a cliché,

And who knows, really, what you’re doing

Or where you are.

 

No one knows.

No one knows.

Me?

I just want the impossible.

 

RIP, my son.

Rest in peace.

Matt Headstone Kenzieville

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The Spot Writers – “Land’s End” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. The July prompt: a character finds an object that had been lost. (In this tale’s case, a person!)

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Her first novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, is available. https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

***

Land’s End by Cathy MacKenzie

 Annie dashes across the jutting rocks, her flowing gown clotted with crimson, and pauses to catch a breath. A menacing black ceiling threatens to descend upon her. She balances precariously on tiptoes to grab the sole gleaming gem. The wind hurls wet hair across her face, jarring her to reality.

She glances around. Adam might be following. She shudders in the cold before continuing her trek.

A few more feet. The cave lies ahead, and Adam isn’t aware of it. She told no one about the cave, knowing she might need its shelter and protection against an evil that might befall her someday. 

The cave was her discovery—and her secret.

 ***

Sherry scanned the newspaper article about the discovery of a human bone washed upon the shore at Land’s End the previous day. The beach had been aptly named since it was the last beach of five heading eastward. Steep cliffs and boulders sheltered each individual beach, making them private. The remains of several dilapidated and almost-non-existent huts dotted the landscape. Although one had to be careful traipsing in the brush, that area was half a kilometre from the beach, and most beachgoers remained on the sandy side.

She had trampled through the brush section many times but had never stumbled upon anything of importance nor had she fallen down abandoned wells. She figured the gossip about sightings and strange occurrences were based on legend and folklore.

She usually frequented Turtle Bend, the beach adjoining Land’s End, but the previous day an unknown force had lured her from Turtle Bend to the other area, which was when she discovered the cave. She hadn’t had time to enter it, which gnawed at her. What lay inside?

“Corey, I’m running out for a bit.” She placed the newspaper on the table and waited for an answer. Had she yelled loud enough?

Corey, glued to the TV, relaxed in the den down the hall. If he hadn’t heard, she could leave and return before he even knew she’d left.

If she had more time, she could walk the thirty minutes to Land’s End, but it was almost eight o’clock. She needed to get there and return home before dark.

***

 Shrouded in darkness, Annie crouches on the rocks. Though the night transformed the bloodstains into a patterned fabric, she feels dirty. She allows the soaring waves to rush over her.

Numb from the rawness of the chilled water, yet refreshed and clean, she creeps along the cliff’s edge. Once she reaches the cave, the storm will shield her, and she’ll be safe. The ocean will be her protectress from evil.

If Adam frequented the beach as she did, he might have found the cave, but he doesn’t enjoy the ocean. Despite living near the water, he never learned to swim, but he assured Annie he would be able to save himself if the need arose.

 ***

Sherry traipsed from her car to the beach. The wind had picked up since she left home, but the sun hadn’t fully set. In the distance, black symbols marred the glaring yellow police tape that cordoned off a small rectangular area. The words CRIME SCENE, DO NOT CROSS designating the area where the bone had been discovered became clearer the closer she approached. When she neared the ocean’s edge, she turned left and scrambled over the boulders. She hadn’t gone very far before the water lapped at the rocks. Spray spit at her legs. Salt coated her lips. Just a few more feet.

Exhausted, she finally faced the cave. She dug her feet into the sand, thankful she could do so. The wind had blown her about like a rag doll. What a foolhardy decision. Would she be found if she had an accident? Several times she had almost fallen.

She gathered her damp, tangled hair into a ponytail, wishing she had tied it back before she left home. She searched her pockets for the penlight flashlight she had grabbed before leaving and switched it on.

She shuddered at the eeriness of the cavernous hollow. She advanced a few steps and shone the flashlight, the thin beam threatening to rip apart the abrasive walls. Water, reminding her of tears, dripped hesitantly over the uneven surface. She wiped her face with her sleeve.

She continued toward the back of the cave, where the light illuminated scattered bones. She had never seen human bones previously, but that’s what they were. They had been gnawed and chewed by wild animals.

The longer she stared, the more her tears flowed. Flashbacks gripped her in a vise; her body winced under the pressure. Her own bones constricted, about to snap like frozen vines. She clutched the flashlight, afraid she’d drop it and become stranded as Annie obviously had—Annie from her dreams. Sherry hadn’t known her as Annie then, merely an unnamed female bearing innocent features.

Until the bone washed up on shore. And then Sherry’s dreams made sense.

The remains were believed to be that of Annie Creamer, who had disappeared in 1892. The story still spewed from people’s lips, everyone craving an unsolved mystery. Back then, the townsfolk had accused Adam of her death, but he had denied it. Everyone knew he had beaten his wife on more than one occasion. Everyone knew, but no one had done anything to stop it.

***

 Annie curls up on the cave floor. She ignores her tears. The enormity of what she did unfolds before her as if watching a play at Ulysses Theatre. Is Adam physically able to search for her? Can she return to face her fate? Surely once the truth is revealed, the noose won’t be looped around her neck. Or would it?

What is the truth? Will anyone believe her? Wives are supposed to obey their husbands, no matter what torment men bestow upon them. Will females forever be treated as chattels? Will a day come when women can stand alongside men to be treated as equals? It won’t happen in her lifetime, but she often dreams of herself in a future time.

She falls asleep, hugging herself in the dank cavern.

***

Sherry followed the flashlight’s beam while leaving the protection of the cave. When she emerged, the wind rushed at her face. Glad she had donned a windbreaker, she pulled up the hood before clambering over the rocks to the safety of the beach. While the wind howled like a tormented soul and pelted harsh shards of salt water onto her face, she gazed across the endless ocean.

“Annie. Annie, where are you?” The voice, distinctly male, came from far away, the words fading as quickly as Sherry heard them.

Sherry stood transfixed. Though she wanted to run, she also wanted to stay. Despite her confusion, she remained rooted. What lay below the wet sand and how far could she sink? If she dug her sodden sneakers into the darkened mass, she could disappear into its depths, never to be seen again. She had always felt conflicted about her lapses into the past. Had she lived a prior life? Her confusion intensified after discovering the cave, and the washed-up bone added more mystery.

Having lived in Briarwood since birth, Sherry grew up with the knowledge of Annie’s plight but had always considered the dreams as a result of being aware of the legend. Until that moment, standing before the ocean’s passion and madness, she hadn’t realized she lived the legend.

The moon illuminated wild whitecaps rushing across the vast expanse. Sounds swept in off the water, the waves unleashing pent-up emotions and hushed voices.

“Sherry…Sherry…Sherry.”

A white form appeared. Corey’s unruly hair sprouted from the top, and brown eyes glowed from its centre.

Corey?

Fear coursed through her. No, it was Adam. Adam yelling for Annie. Adam searching for his wife in the dark.

“Annie…Annie…Annie.”

Waves thundered against the boulders, obliterating further sounds.

The ghostly image exploded into red splatters.

Sherry touched her chest. Blood? She couldn’t determine for sure, not in the dark, but an acrid smell wafted into her nostrils.

She stumbled, her feet slogging into the sand.

“No!” Her voice echoed, startling her. Had she yelled that loudly? She must get back to her car. Needed to get away from the voices. Needed to see Corey.

When she reached the car, her heart stopped its incessant pounding. She stood on solid ground again. She swiped her hand across her brow. Had she smeared blood on her face? She unlocked the door and jumped in. After the engine roared to life, she turned on the interior light and pulled the rearview mirror toward her. Her face, though ashen and wet, wasn’t smeared with red. Her hands were clean. No blood on her clothing.

With a fervour she hadn’t experienced while on the beach, a pleasant warmth flowed through her. Corey. She couldn’t wait to see him and regretted not having told him she was going out. If he had discovered her absence, she hoped he hadn’t worried.

She headed home to Corey, who loved and treated her as a man should. Now that Annie had been found, both Annie and Sherry could rest in peace.

***

 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 – “A Christmas Tale” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. The June prompt is to update a legend or legendary character/beast: bring it into the modern world, or add a twist that isn’t consistent with the original legend.

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

***

A Christmas Tale

“Guys, I don’t want to repeat myself, but rules are simple: one story for Christmas, one for Midsummer, one for Halloween. You’re always late, and I find myself publishing scary stuff for Christmas and dealing with the fairy folk in November. Santa and the reindeers are always complaining that, by the time we publish something Christmas-related, it’s almost time for eggs and bunnies. Who, by the way, are pestering me because they want to be featured as well. I mean, come on! Why must you always be so lazy? Use your brain for something useful, for once, and give me something worth publishing at the right time. Shall I remind you, that last year our Winter issue featured a story about Zombie Fairies? A pathetic attempt to merge Midsummer and Halloween, no doubt, and yet you delivered it so late it was already Christmas by the time we managed to print it! I can’t do this anymore. You’re the greatest disappointment and I would close the magazine down at once, were it not for those fluffy reindeers expectantly looking at me. To be honest, I’m also a tiny bit freaked out by all those magical creatures. I mean, they’re sweet and all, but what would happen if they got angry? I don’t even want to think about it. So, please, I beg you: concentrate and write.”

The editor-in-chief left, his unfinished cigarette forgotten in the ashtray, dropping ash on his desk. No one spoke. The clock ticked and tocked, and the faucet in the restroom dripped. Drip. Drip. Drip. Someone had left the door open. Again.

“Well…”

“Yeah.”

“After all, you know: he’s right.”

“I must say, I liked the Zombie Fairies piece, though.”

“At least we always try to be original.”

“You mean ghoulish.”

“I mean our stuff is never predictable.”

“Guys, he’s not complaining about the quality of our work, he just needs us to be on time.”

“Hey, it’s not easy writing stuff about Christmas when you’ve just booked a week at the Bahamas.”

“Why, doesn’t Christmas happen at the Bahamas as well?”

“Yeah, you just need to wrap up some loving feelings in sugary goodness coated with pink little hearts, et voilà! A Christmas story ready to be printed out.”

“That’s not original, though.”

“Nor ghoulish.”

“We don’t really need to be ghoulish.”

Knock-knock.

“Who’s there?”

“Er, hi. May I come in?”

“Sure, Mr… Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

“My name is Santa, you might have heard of me.”

“…”

“I overheard you speaking, and it is my understanding that you’re facing some sort of difficulties because of me and my sweet reindeers.”

“We… er… I mean…”

“I wonder, therefore, if you wish me to be of assistance.”

“Hey, why not? We need inspiration: we have to write a story about you!”

“Ho Ho Ho! What a coincidence! I can tell you some very personal stories about me. After all, I am Santa. I know each one of you.”

“You do?”

“Of course! You, for example, devilish child!”

“Me? What? Why?”

“In a time when finally, finally!, children started being rational and stopped believing in me, so I could seriously consider retirement, you campaigned for me! You convinced all your little friends that the poor old man does exist and loves all the children and the least we can do is believe he’s real! You devilish, devilish child! Me? Loving children? Ha! All I want is to permanently move to a desert island in the middle of the ocean, with a giant drink in my hand and a beautiful, curvy blond by my side, and never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever see a child again!”

“I’m sorry, I guess? I had no idea…”

“Of course you hadn’t! And, by the way, where has all that fierce love you had for me gone now? You aren’t even able to crank out one little story for me in one year!”

“Well, we’re trying to…”

“You’re trying, what?  I remember of you as well, you know.”

“Oh. Ahem. Really?”

“Sure! You’re so smart, in fifth grade you stole all of your classmates’ letters to Santa and signed them yourself, thinking you’d get twenty-five presents!”

“I’ve always been a resourceful kid.”

“A liar, you mean.”

“Come on, children’s lies are not really lies…”

“Is that what you tell yourself?”

“I… No, I actually…”

“What? No words? You? Nice writers you are, the lot of you! But I had enough of this. I am here to put an end to all your Christmas-related issues.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Think of it like the ultimate Christmas present, from Santa himself.”

“Sounds great!”

“Yes, I am great, as a matter of fact. May I have a coffee, please?”

“Sure! Sugar?”

“Two.”

“Cream?”

“A drop.”

“There you go!”

“Mmmmh, smells divine. I’ll just set it aside for the moment.”

“And why’s that?”

“First, I have to eat.”

“Eat? Wait, we should have some crisps somewhere…”

“Don’t bother, I don’t need crisps.”

“…”

“Guys, have you noticed the reindeers? Why are they circling us?”

“I’ve no idea. It looks like they’re glaring at us, doesn’t it?”

“Now that you mention it, it does, yes.”

“Do I sound very stupid if I say that it looks like they’re going to eat us?”

“Actually, yes, you do sound stupid. But I admit I agree.”

“Mr Santa… Are you going to let your reindeers eat us?”

“Not completely, no. I want some bites as well.”

“I’m not sure this is going to help us with the difficulties we’re experiencing regarding a Christmas story, to be honest.”

“But of course it will help you! Didn’t you want a ghoulish tale?”

“…”

“Rudolph, go on: first bite’s for you.”

***

The Spot Writers:

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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