Tag Archives: short story

Twenty-four Minutes?

I’m okay with rejections of my writing. I have a thick skin (most times), and I’ve received numerous rejections.

It’s wonderful to receive a timely rejection because you can move on. You can trash your story, revamp it, or resubmit it to another publication.

I’ve never trashed a story (I’m too vain for that.) After a rejection, I’ve mostly resubmitted it elsewhere. Looking back, I should have revamped instead of resubmitted.

A couple of years ago I wrote a short story. I wasn’t happy with it, so I let it sit. I pulled it out the other day and revamped it. Totally revamped it. It’s now a horror story instead of a mish-mash of useless words (okay, it wasn’t quite THAT bad!).

I had found the perfect market for that story and spent the last three days rewriting it. I was SO happy with it when finished. It was the perfect submission for this particular publication.

I sent it off today at 4:12 p.m.

I expected to hear back within a couple of months—or more—but at 4:36 I received a reply.

My heart thumped with thankfulness. My head exploded with excitement. My wallet (imaginary, of course) bulged with bills. I had a sale! The publication liked my work so much they had to immediately reply for fear I might sell it elsewhere.

My stomach sank. My ego evaporated. My wallet weakened.

No sale!

A rejection!


I was stunned beyond belief. Within twenty-four (24!) minutes I’d received a rejection?

This unknown person from this prestigious publication had crushed my ego within thirty minutes. That’s the fastest rejection I’ve ever received for anything!

Who receives a rejection within thirty minutes?

My first thought, of course, was that my story was so horrendously horrible that this individual had to get rid of it immediately. My second thought, which didn’t come to me right away, was perhaps this publication was on the ball.

People today want instant gratification. No one wants to wait.

Sure, it’s great—wonderfully amazing—to receive a timely rejection so one’s work isn’t tied up unnecessarily. That writing is then set free: free to submit elsewhere.

But still. Twenty-four minutes? That’s gotta be a record in anyone’s resume.

Twenty-four minutes? I’m still stunned.


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A Short Story Contest!

Creative Writing Institute’s Short Story Contest offers a fabulous opportunity for publication, in addition to cash prizes.

Prizes: $200, $100, $50. First place winner may choose a free, tutored writing course in lieu of $200 prize.

Top five winners and ten Judge’s Pick stories will be published in 2017 anthology along with best-selling guest writers and stories written by CWI staff. (Available December.)

Word limit: 2,000 words.

Themed, unpublished story must include this sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.” 

No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.

Contest closes midnight, EST, August 31, 2017. Only five dollars to enter.

Join the fun!

See full set of guidelines and book cover at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. Direct questions to head judge, Jianna Higgins, at jianna.higgins@gmail.com.

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The Spot Writers – “The Lavender Peony,” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month simply: spring flowers. This tale takes a darker twist on that theme and comes to you from Val Muller, author of the YA reboot The Scarred Letter—fighting for the truth in a world that lives a lie.


The Lavender Peony

By Val Muller

Maude Stevenson hated parent-teacher conferences. It seemed teachers wanted to meet about everything these days. She dreaded the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month—conference afternoons, when the teachers cleared satanic little slots in their schedules to call in parents to address the misbehaviors of their children. Not to mention the need for two afternoons of daycare.

The sitter had cancelled, so Rose would just have to come along. “What’s this about, Rose?” Maude asked her daughter.

Rose sat in the back seat, mixing a concoction in a paper cup. She’d been playing in the back yard since school let out, and Maude allowed her to take along the concoction of ground leaves she’d made. “I don’t know, Mommy.” Rose shrugged and then looked out the window, her second-grade mind already distracted by spring’s burgeoning flowers.

“Did you hit someone? Say something rude? Did you forget your homework or cheat on a test?”

Rose shook her head. “I don’t know what this is about, Mommy. I try to be a good girl.”

Maude sighed and pulled into the school parking lot. The clock on the dashboard blinked 2:43. The meeting was for 2:50. Somehow Mrs. Spencer had the conferences timed to the minute like that. 2:50 exactly.

As she got out of her car seat, Rose asked her mother, “Do I have time to pick a peony from the school garden?”

“Are you allowed to pick peonies from the school garden?” Maude asked.

Rose shrugged. “No one will miss just one flower.”

Maude looked at the clock. What else were they going to do for the next seven minutes? “Alright,” she sighed.

Inside, Maude knocked on Mrs. Spencer’s door. A smile greeted her. “Just two minutes,” Mrs. Spencer announced from behind her desk.

Maude looked at her watch. 2:48. Really, now! Maude craned her neck to peek into the classroom. It was empty, otherwise. Rose was busy playing with her peony, which now sat in the paper cup, chanting to the flower. To be a kid again—and be able to lose all sense of time to imagination. Her mind too tired to entertain itself, Maude checked out the artwork lining the hallway. The children had been given a coloring page with spring flowers. Some of them also featured animals—frogs, deer, chicks, bunnies.

“Honey, where’s yours?” Maude asked.

Rose shrugged. “Mrs. Spencer didn’t want to hang it up, I guess.”

Maude didn’t have time to respond. Mrs. Spencer called her in. Inside, the woman sat behind her large desk. She motioned to two chairs on the opposite side. Each chair was meant for a second-grader. Rose sat, her legs comfortably resting on the floor. Maude sat, her knees angled up awkwardly. Her hands hung nearly to the floor.

Mrs. Spencer seemed not to notice.

“I’ve called you in,” she said, without further introduction, “because of some concerns I had for Rose’s flower story.”

“Her flower story?” Maude asked.

Mrs. Spencer kept that same smile. It had all the semblances of caring and warmth, though it was missing those qualities in actuality. The teacher’s eyes reflected that same mannequin-like quality. Maude shivered. “You must have seen them in the hallway. I hung all the appropriate stories out there.” She held up a blank sheet. It contained the outline of a rose garden with an owl perched overhead. She flipped it over. A series of blank lines graced the back side.

“The children were to color the picture and then write a narrative about what is happening in the picture.”

“A narrative?”

Mrs. Spencer smirked. “You know—a story. Some children wrote about a gardener. Others wrote about helping animals or saving the environment by planting more greenery—you know, to offset carbon footprints. All stellar examples of stories.”

“And I take it my Rose’s story was a less than stellar example?”

The teacher’s smile faded. “Mrs. Stevenson, I had to hold myself back from contacting School Counselling about this little tale.” She opened her desk drawer and slapped a sheet of paper onto the desk. On the bottom corner was drawn a red frowny face.

“What on earth could Rose have written about that got you so upset?” Maude asked. She looked at her daughter, and Rose offered a knowing smile. Maude raised an eyebrow.

“This story of hers—The Lavender Peony—is about a flower that—” She glanced toward the door and then lowered her voice—“kills people.”

Maude bit her tongue to keep from laughing. “Just a child’s imagination, I’m sure.”

“Mrs. Stevenson, the level of detail is alarming. She’s got potions in here—lists of ingredients I’d never heard of. I had to Google some of these. Wolfsbane and hemlock. It’s witchcraft, I tell you. There’s got to be somewhere she learned of all this. In the story, the main character makes a potion and spreads it on a flower, and the flower has to thus obey commands. And the main character instructs the flower to kill people. There are three murders in this story, Mrs. Stevenson. Three. Little Rose over there could be the next school shooter if we don’t watch out.”

Maude felt the humor drain from her face. “Mrs. Spencer, I’m sorry that my daughter’s story offended you, but to compare a little girl with a vivid imagination—to compare that to a school shooter is beyond asinine. It’s insulting! What should we do, call the Inquisition, and then the police? Or should we just send her to a shrink? Are flowers now considered a weapon? You know, Mrs. Spencer, I thought long and hard about whether to homeschool Rose, as I did last year, and now I’m beginning to regret my decision to send her to public school. I’d like to talk to your principal.”

The panic registered on Mrs. Spencer’s face immediately. “Let’s not be hasty here, Mrs. Stevenson. Perhaps there was just a misunderstanding.”

Maude allowed her eyes to travel deliberately from the paper on the desk to the hallway. Knowingly, Mrs. Spencer nodded, took four pieces of tape from her desk, and shuffled out to the hallway. Maude stayed seated and watched her hang Rose’s flower story prominently above the rest.

Then she turned to her daughter. “I told you, Rose, not to let out the secret recipes.”

Rose shrugged. “I’m sorry, Mommy. I thought she’d think it fictional.”

Maude shook her head. “You never know who you can trust, Rose. This better be the last time.”

Rose puckered her lips, holding up the peony. “Shall I?”

Maude nodded. Rose stood slowly and placed the peony in the center of Mrs. Spencer’s desk, bits of the leafy concoction clinging to it.

The lavender flower caught the light from the classroom window as Mrs. Spencer watched her two guests exit the room. It was only after they left that she noticed the flower sitting there rather audaciously—as if it had its own personality—a peace offering from a little girl that nonetheless sent shivers down the teacher’s spine long after its pedals had withered and the offending Rose had been promoted to the third grade.


The Spot Writers–our members:

 RC Bonitz: rcbonitz.com

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

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

Tom Robson: https://robsonswritings.wordpress.com/



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The Spot Writers – “How Could he do a Thing Like That? by RC Bonitz

Welcome to the Spot Writers. Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of DANGEROUS DECISIONS, which was released in September and is available on Amazon. The prompt for this month is “how could he do a thing like that?”


I met her six months ago today. Mark, our Clinical Director, introduced her at the regular Tuesday morning Clinical Dept. meeting, one more social worker joining our ranks. Except she was not the typical social worker. Vera Bingham, the most striking woman I had ever seen, late twenties I guessed, flowing light auburn hair that looked like it had been permanently sun-bleached, a perfect figure, and eyes that glowed with life. She knocked my socks off.

He showed up three days later to fill our last vacant social worker position. I made the mistake of calling him Bill and got a curt, “The name is William,” for my trouble. William Rankin looked to be in his late twenties too, was about five foot eight, prematurely balding and generally non-descript.  His claim to fame was that he was working on his doctorate. I was not impressed.

Vera was. As soon as we met I tried to make friends with her. I managed to join her for lunch in the café once and bought her coffee twice, but that lasted all of the three days before Mr. William showed up. The next time I tried to join her for coffee he got there before me. Join her for lunch, he was there. Sit next to her at a clinical meeting, he was there. I began to suspect they were checking with each other before leaving their offices. You know, like, “Want to go for coffee? See you in the café.”

I caught the clues. Weak chin and all, he was numero uno. I capitulated without a murmur of dissent. Can’t fight city hall as they say.

Things chugged right along, getting warmer all the time. Soon they were holding hands at clinical meetings. When he caught some flak for a technique he followed in treating an abused child, only Vera defended him.

The open question everybody on staff discussed ad infinitum was, when would they announce their engagement. Sleeping together we figured was a fait accompli.

Walking down the hall about ten fifteen this morning I met Vera coming out of Bill, er, pardon me, William’s office. Tears streamed down her face and she brushed past me in a rush, shrugging off my brief attempt to stop her.

My medieval knighthood gallantry came to the fore and I barged into William’s office.

“What was that about? What did you do to her?” I demanded.

“Nothing,” he replied, offering me a look of total innocence.

“Come off it. You did something.”

“She’s upset ’cause I told her I don’t want to get married.”

“You broke it off you mean,” I snapped.

He nodded. “She has too much hair on her arms.”


“She has hairy arms. I can’t have that in my woman.”

I stared at him. He broke off a serious relationship because Vera had hair on her arms? How could he do a thing like that? I stared at him for a second, then turned and left his office. I’d have to add that to my “Not For Me” no dating list. No sense getting too involved with a doomed relationship.


DANGEROUS DECISIONS is available now. I hope you enjoy it. RC Bonitz



 The Spot Writers- our members

 RC Bonitz rcbonitz.com

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

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

Tom Robson – Blog pending


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The Spot Writers – “Synced In,” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week’s flash fiction comes to you from Val Muller, author of the young adult novel The Scarred Letter, a book dealing with bullying and truth in a world that lives a lie.

The prompt for this month: Opening sentence: “It’s still not clear what started it all.” Closing sentence: “What can be done to change that?”

Synced In

By Val Muller

It’s not clear what started it all. It may have been the Fitbit craze, the obsession over fitness-tracking watches and smartphone apps tracking movement, exercise, and calories. It may have been people’s use of GPS technology as a crutch, or the constant need to feel connected.

But now everyone at school was Synced In.

Except Charlie.

His parents were old school. Really old school. They’d home-schooled him until the tenth grade, at which point he needed the advanced courses offered at the local high school. When he first got there, he didn’t know how to log on to a computer, let alone use a mouse for that matter.

Not that many people were using a mouse anymore.

Now, the students held their fingers up to the sensor, and they were logged in, able to save their work, able to access countless databases. In gym class (they made Charlie take Gym with the freshmen), students logged into a computer terminal to track their pulses, their activity levels, and their caloric intakes for the day. Charlie was surprised there was no actual physical activity.

Charlie, who had not been Synced, flipped pages on an old-fashioned book with his old-fashioned finger and read about the benefits of cardiovascular work—without being asked to get up from his desk.

In fact, the teachers were all pretty lax compared to the books Charlie had read in preparation for life in public school. The teachers in the books were always sly and sneaky. They all seemed to have eyes in the back of their heads, to catch students sneaking around, and to have all kinds of clever ways of inspiring students into caring just a bit more about life.

Maybe books were art and life was life.

Or maybe life had just become too synced.

These teachers walked around with a small tablet attached to their belts the same way cops walked around with guns in the detective stories Charlie read as a kid. Attendance was taken as the students walked into the classroom—their Sync Chips scanned by each classroom’s infrared sensor. The teachers needed only to input Charlie’s presence manually, a task they did with the subtlest eye roll.

“Charlie, we need to get you Synced,” they would sigh.

They also had to manually enter his grades. With no finger sensor for him to log into the network, he could not complete the online courses the way the other students did. At first, he was met again with eye rolls. But after a while, his physics teacher seemed to enjoy the quaintness of a pen-and-paper activity. In the absence of immediate online feedback, Mr. Bloomton sat down with Charlie to review formulas and problem sets, to talk of theories and the best way to solve each assignment.

With the other kids, he simply checked their progress on his tablet, making sure the data fed correctly into his grading program.

Before long, Mr. Bloomton had spoken with Mr. Frierson, the public speaking teacher. The class couldn’t understand why Frierson abandoned the computer’s speech algorithm one day and asked the students to deliver an impromptu speech—actually standing in front of the class with everyone actually watching and not logged into their computers.

The next day, gym teachers around the school were perplexed at the irregular pulse rate and calorie readings reported from students’ devices, and they, too, spent time away from the automated programs. The students were especially tired that week, and parents came to visit—in person—with concerns about anomalous readings on their children’s devices.

With all the human interaction, teachers were more tired than usual, prompting calls from doctors’ offices calling for actual appointments rather than virtual ones. It made for a crazy week for most, but when Charlie’s parents asked him how he enjoyed being a public school student, he simply shrugged.

“A little different from what I expected at first, but now it seems to be a bit closer to normal. I probably would prefer to remain home schooled, but there is something unique about human interaction that I just can’t get at home. Besides, I need those upper-level science and match classes, so what can be done to change that?”


The Spot Writers–our members:

 RC Bonitz: rcbonitz.com

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

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

Tom Robson: Blog pending


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The Spot Writers – “Mistakes for Two,” by Tom Robson

Welcome to the Spot Writers.The prompt this month required each writer to use three of the five following words: leaned, adjusted, clustered, entitled and smirk. Not wishing to appear inadequate on this first challenge, Tom used all five.
Tom has only recently got into publishing with his patchwork memoir “Written While I Still Remember”. This is available on line at Amazon and 
Create Space has it at  ( https://tsw.createspace.com/title/5088100 ). The Smashwords reference is ( https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/492768).
Currently Tom is working on a collection of Scary Stories created during his teaching career. He has yet another idea for a novel that he is sure is within him and needs to become print before age advances and only gibberish emerges.
Mistakes For Two
     All these women jostling around the mirror. If this line in the powder room doesn’t move he will think that I’ve bailed on him. At least the conversation is interesting. Much more raunchy than when I used to club on a Friday night. I’m too old for this, she thought. She’d even forgotten that powder room visits should be with a girlfriend.
     Finally. A stall became available.
     When she eventually leaned in to to check herself in the mirror, she wondered why she was renewing her lip gloss and attempting to mask her near forty years. As soon as he walked her to the car she was headed home – alone. So what if it was only eleven. Her days of two in the morning bar hopping with the girls were long past. She’d have the condo to herself. It was Jenny’s weekend with her father and his floozie, in Bedford. She’d have to phone her friends in the morning and make up some excuse for abandoning them. She shouldn’t have come in the first place. And what if this man made a move on her on the way to her car.
     No! she thought. He’s not that type. He’s as out of place in this pick up joint as I am. She adjusted her skirt, collected her jacket and went to find him.
* * *
     He hoped she was coming back. Maybe she’d returned to her friends. He’d offered to walk her to her car, and perhaps she thought that he was making a move on her. He wasn’t even sure how he arrived at this crowded, noisy club. He’d had a good meal at the restaurant recommended by the secretary in the Halifax office. It seemed too early to go back to his room at the hotel so, on impulse, he’d turned into Richardsons. As soon as he got inside and squeezed his way to the bar for a drink, he knew he’d made a mistake. This was not a crowd in which he felt comfortable. Any remote ideas he had about meeting someone and —- who knows what ,——- quickly disappeared.
     I’m entitled to look, he thought. No harm in that. He hoped his wife, back in Brampton, was being discrete in her dates with Aaron. The boys were at an age when they would know that their mother was playing around if she wasn’t careful. Knowing her, she would take every advantage of his long weekend away on business to see the man she had told him she loved. Perhaps this was her opportunity to tell their teenage sons
     A couple of abandoned chairs were set in a secluded corner. Like a clubbing amateur he took one, removing himself from the circulating throng of opportunists. To hell with this! One drink and I’m gone! he decided.
     She caught his eye as she detached herself from a group of women clustered by the bar. As she pushed her way through the crowd between his quiet nook and the bar he realized she was headed his way. She was about to talk to him. What was happening? He suddenly felt anxious and sweaty.
     “Is this chair taken?” she asked. “If not, my feet and I would love to keep you company!”
     “Take the weight off!” he responded, looking down at the stiletto heels sinking into the fading carpet. “New shoes?”
     “Too new and too dressy and uncomfortable for these hilly Halifax streets.” she continued as she put her drink on the minute table between them. “I even have to take them off to drive.”
     The small talk continued as he explained what he was doing there, letting her know that he was in unaccustomed territory and he was pleased that she had come to sit with him while he finished his beer.
     The lights, other than those flashing on the dance floor, were not good. Unobtrusively, he tried to take stock of his new companion. He guessed that she was close to him in age, probably a few years younger. She was tall and shapely, with short, dark hair and eyes that he thought were blue behind the fashionable glasses.Her full lips were a little too scarlet for his taste, but what did he know. Her skirt rode up as she sat, to display long, legging-clad legs. He hoped when he stood that she was not taller than him. She was certainly slimmer.
     She told him how an old friend had convinced her to join the girl’s night out. She thought it was going to be dinner and then home, but they’d finished up here and it looked like it was going to be a long night. She shared her discomfort with the surroundings and said she’d love to sneak away early.
     Apparently embarrassed at that turn of phrase, she blushingly tried to correct any impression that she was looking to escape with him, though she did add that she was in the process of a divorce and that her sixteen year old daughter was with her father from this evening through the weekend. The more she tried to explain, the more uncomfortable she seemed to be. She was now rambling and couldn’t stop.
     Sensing her discomfort he told her he was married, neglecting to say that it was a marriage in the process of disintegration. “But!” he added, “I’m enjoying your company, so can I do you two favors?”
     “That depends on what they’re going to cost me.” she responded, smiling.
     “Favors are free.” He smiled back, hoping that his tightening facial muscles hadn’t turned his smile into a smirk. “Can I buy you a drink so we can talk a little longer, and then I’d like to walk you to your car, if you still want to escape early, like me.”
     She accepted both offers. Their conversation became more relaxed and now he was waiting for her to escape the shouting and laughter coming from the ladies room.
     The walk to the car was uphill, away from his hotel. She walked, in the cool fall evening, in bare feet, her shoes hanging by straps from the hand he might have been tempted to hold had it been empty. Offering to carry her, even as a joke, might have been open to misinterpretation as well as laughter.
     At the car she asked where he was staying and offered to drive him there as it was on her way. By now, he did not want to be separated to return to an impersonal hotel room. As he fastened his seat belt she turned and said, “My name is Kate, by the way. And thanks for rescuing me from what was becoming a painful late night.”
     “Glad to have met you, Kate. I’m Brad. And you turned a mistake I made into a pleasant experience. I’m glad I met you.”
     The car pulled up to the hotel entrance. An awkward silence was disrupted by a tap on the window. Kate wound it down and the car jockey asked, “Will you be needing the car before morning, ma’am, and can I have your room number, please?’
     Kate turned to look at Brad. As he opened his mouth to reply she interjected, loud and clear, “No! We won’t be going anywhere until after breakfast. Brad, what was our room number again?”
     Passing the keys to the car jockey she got out of the car and joined the astounded Brad on the hotel steps. Confidently they walked together, into the lobby. Brad carried the shoes in one hand. His other reached out to grasp Kate’s.
* * *
     Why was her heart pounding? She didn’t really know him, but these first moves that she’d made at the hotel entrance seemed so right. And Brad must be wondering what’s going on. Then there’s his wife.
No! Don’t go there. But she should clarify that situation as soon as they reach room 8036.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The Spot Writers – Our members.
Tom Robson Who needs to get with the program and create a blog and/or a website.

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The Spot Writers – “Fly with Me,” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to write a scene involving the moon. Today’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie. She welcomes you to visit her website at www.writingwicket.wordpress.com


Fly With Me

Geraldine glanced around the room before listening at the door. Not hearing anything, she opened the window and inserted the nail file against the edge of the screen. She had tried previously to remove the screen to no avail though she had managed to loosen it from the frame. After several thrusts, the screen moved enough that she could curl her fingers around it.

“Drat,” she mumbled, when she yanked too hard and the screen ricocheted into the air. She stuck her head out the third-floor window. The screen was nowhere in sight, not that she’d be able to retrieve it if she did see it.

Seconds after she had straightened up, Alice entered the room. “Geraldine, close that window. Now!”

Geraldine bit her lower lip, revealing yellowed crooked teeth that complemented the once-white frayed collar of her dress. “I need to see,” she finally said. “It’s so beautiful out there. The stars. And the man in the moon peering down, watching, seeing. Do you know that he’s a nice man, that man in the moon? He’s very handsome.”

The older woman waited for Alice to yell again. Instead, Alice’s voice remained calm. “It’s not dark yet. You can’t see the stars or the moon.”

Geraldine scratched her nose and puckered her mouth into a perfect circle. “Oooh, I don’t mean now. I mean other nights, when it is dark and you can see night things.” She lowered her voice. “The sky is so peaceful, not like here.”

Alice rolled her eyes and grunted. “It could be peaceful here if you’d all behave. Come on, you’re late for dinner.”

When Geraldine didn’t move, Alice grasped the other woman’s arm. “That’s a good girl. Come along.”

Geraldine took two small steps and stopped. She looked back at the window where the flowered curtains swayed. Though the evening was warm, she shivered.

Alice glared. “You can’t be cold. It’s hot and stuffy in here.”

Geraldine scanned the woman’s face. Was she making fun of her, laughing at her?

“Don’t shiver if you’re not cold. It makes you look crazier than you are.”

“Crazy like this?” Geraldine inserted her index fingers into her mouth and stretched her mouth toward her ears. She stuck out her tongue and waggled it at Alice, just as Alice waggled fingers at her.

Alice ignored the antics and yanked her arm. “Come on down for dinner.”

Geraldine sighed and followed Alice to the dining room. After sitting at the table for several minutes, she feigned illness and returned to her room. She was thankful Alice had forgotten about the open window, for Geraldine would incur the caregiver’s wrath had she noticed the missing screen.

After bedtime rounds, Geraldine slipped from bed and stared into the darkness. She watched the sparkling stars, wondering if she should make a wish. The moon stared back. She smiled and patted her growling stomach. Though she was hungry, she had done the right thing by not eating. “Yes, I did,” she mumbled. “I surely did.”

Geraldine had suffered eating disorders in the past. Recently, she had decided she’d love to fly but knew she was too heavy and lumpy. By not eating dinner, she had morphed into a svelte and beautiful woman, and for the first time, she had a man swooning after her. Warmth spread through her veins when the man in the moon twinkled as if he had stars for eyes.

She would soon meet her prospective lover. And fly!

The breeze still jostled the curtains and blew the fabric across her arm. She stuck her head out the window, hoping again to locate the screen, but realized it was futile in the dark.

“No matter,” she said. “They’ll find it when they mow the grass.”

Pressing her dress against her leg, she contemplated changing into her favourite polyester slacks, until she realized the dress would aid flight. She pushed the wooden chair to the window. As were all windows on the second and third floors, the narrow window stretched tall, like a headstone reaching to heaven. In the daylight, the glass shimmered in the sun; when darkness fell, night lights peeped from several windows, camouflaging lives existing behind hollow shadows.

She climbed onto the wider-than-normal ledge, which was a feat at her fifty-nine years, and almost toppled trying to swing her leg up and over. She steadied herself by grabbing the window jamb. Once the other leg dangled over the ledge, she searched the sky. Stars beckoned. The moon gazed.

Geraldine pictured herself soaring through the air, her arms outstretched like wings; her stiff legs would mimic an airplane’s tail, while her billowing grey dress would resemble the hulky hull. She smiled at the image and even felt the winds caressing her like a silk glove.

Geraldine managed to stand on the ledge though she had to stoop a few inches. Leaning against the window frame, she felt safe. She waved at the moon, certain she saw lust in his eyes. And a bold voice whispered in her ears, I want you…

She contemplated taking off, soaring like an eagle up to the moon. He’d be so happy to see her, and they’d live happily ever after. She’d succeed in flight, unlike those poor victims of the Twin Towers on 9-11 who had failed when they flapped their arms.

The sudden rush of air bombarded her before she realized she had fallen. Even had she wanted to flap her arms, there was no time. She hit the ground within seconds but not before glimpsing the missing window screen wedged between low-lying branches.



The Spot Writers- our members.


RC Bonitz



Val Muller



Catherine A. MacKenzie



Kathy Price



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The Spot Writers – “Night Intruder” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to use the following five words in a story: candy, whistle, ferry, ring, and kitchen.

Today’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her books on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/camack.

(Cathy’s print books are available on Amazon/Create Space, and e-books are also available on Kindle.)


Night Intruder

In the distance, Shelly heard the shriek of the ferry’s whistle. Tom, her husband, had been an employee of White Sail Ferry Company for many years, so she was aware of the difference between the alarm bell, which served to alert crew inside the ship, and the whistle, which warned those beyond the cabin area.

She had never heard the ferry while she had been in the house and never had it awoken her from a deep sleep. She lay in bed and rubbed her eyes. Could it have been a dream? No, she was certain she heard it. She hadn’t slept soundly for the past couple of weeks, not since Tom died.

A tear plopped to the pillow. She wished she hadn’t buried him with his ring still on his finger. Women often kept their spouses’ wedding bands, either wearing them from a chain hanging from their necks or wearing them on their fingers. Her own mother wore her husband’s ring on her thumb.

When a noise, sounding like it came from the kitchen, startled her, she stifled a scream. She dried her face with the edge of the bed sheet and listened.

She got up, slipped on her housecoat and slippers, and crept down the hall. Darkness overwhelmed her. She tried to remain calm. But what was it? How she wished Tom were still alive. He’d protect her. He’d tell her to stay in bed or hide in the closet if he thought danger existed. But Tom wasn’t alive any longer.

When she reached the end of the hall, she paused. A dim light shone on the stainless steel refrigerator. The glow reminded her of the headlights from Tom’s truck when he used to pull into the driveway at night.

She advanced a couple of paces and stopped again. What was it? A sound like papers crinkling. Mice, she thought. She’d always been careful to seal foodstuff into jars or store food in the refrigerator. Tom had thought she was crazy, but one never knew when bugs might come out of hiding. Or a mouse.

“We had mice once you know,” she had told him.

Tom had laughed before hugging her tight. “You’re a silly woman, but I don’t want to let you go.”

“Then don’t let me go,” she had said.

But he had let her go. Without warning, he had loosened his grip on life, leaving her to fend alone just as she found herself that night—alone to contend with whatever had intruded into the kitchen.

She rubbed her eyes again. Despite having gone to bed before eleven and immediately falling asleep, she hadn’t slept well. She wished she hadn’t heard the noise, whatever it was, for surely it was nothing, simply a false alarm, something to cause haywire to her adrenaline and make her heart beat uncontrollably.

Just before she took another step, she heard rustling again. Candy, she was certain. She had left a bowl of wrapped caramels on the counter instead of sticking the bowl in the fridge. Mice, she thought. I can handle a home invader more than I can a creepy critter that’ll run off and hide until the next opportune moment. She shivered and pulled her robe tighter.

When the moon seeped through the window, she noticed the missing sparkle from her left hand. She had removed her ring and had forgotten to put it back on after washing dishes.

Her heart thumped louder. Certain the intruder or intruders could hear, she pressed her palms against her chest. Someone stealing her ring spurred her toward the kitchen. She would never forgive herself if it were stolen. The band of diamonds, which served as her engagement and wedding ring, was her main tie to Tom. Again, she wished she had removed his gold band before the burial.

She stomped her feet though the fake fur sole didn’t lend itself to scaring away intruders. She breathed deeply before reaching the kitchen’s archway and flipping on the light. Though the suddenness of the glare blinded her for several seconds, she was positive a whitish shadow floated from the kitchen toward the pantry.

Did she dare follow? She stifled a scream when she realized the alarm hadn’t sounded, which meant an outside door hadn’t opened. How had someone gained entry into the house? No matter how soundly she slept, she’d have heard the tell-tale alarm. And the individual had to still be in the house, for the security system hadn’t sounded at his exit. He had to be in the pantry.

She walked across the kitchen and stepped into the hallway leading to the pantry and the back door. All was quiet. She turned on the light, slithered against the wall, and then peeked around the corner into the pantry.

No looming monster and the exit door was closed.

Puzzled, yet frightened, she returned to the kitchen. The overhead fluorescent light highlighted a crumpled pile of wrappers that lay on the counter. Wrapped caramel candies glittered from the bowl. The crinkled, silver wrappers reminded her of diamonds’ facets. Her ring!

She turned to the sink where she had left her ring the previous night. Her eyes bulged and a scream caught in her throat. Tom’s plain gold wedding band lay beside hers, glowing as if it had recently been polished. She latched to the counter with one hand and touched the ring with her index finger of the other. Warm air swept across her face. She slipped the too-large ring onto her left thumb.

Caramel wafted around her, and her stomach growled. She and Tom had bought a bag of caramels every couple of weeks, allowing themselves one a day. Shelly hadn’t had hers that day. In fact, she hadn’t eaten a candy since Tom’s death.

Curious, she separated the wrappers in the discard pile and counted them: sixteen.

Sixteen long nights had passed since Tom’s death.

She unwrapped a candy and popped it into her mouth. Slowly she chewed and savoured the sweet goodness. Before she knew it, she had her own pile of sixteen wrappers resting beside Tom’s. For it had been Tom, hadn’t it? Who else could have returned his ring? And who else could have played catch-up with the caramels?




The Spot Writers – our members.


RC Bonitz



Val Muller



Catherine A. MacKenzie



Kathy Price




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The Spot Writers – “A Clean Slate,” by Kathy L. Price

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is “New Year’s” and this week’s post comes to us from Kathy Price.


A Clean Slate

The snowflakes continued to drift down through the black, quiet night. She couldn’t decide if the stillness enveloping the woods was a comforting silence in which she could find refuge or if it was simply a brief pause before the next onslaught, a pause which would allow the storm to gather strength. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she sagged against the pillar on the porch. Were they tears of loss or teas of joy? Perhaps a little of both. God knew there had been too many tears of pain in her marriage to Mark.

Her shaking hands caused the ice in her glass to rattle as she brought it to her lips. Smooth and cold, she used it to sooth the cut on her mouth, hoping the cold would keep it from swelling too badly. Throwing the drink back in one swift motion, the alcohol burned her throat but did little for her courage. How could she face the chaos in the living room? In the kitchen? She was going to have to do it sooner or later, so taking a deep, ragged breath, she turned and went back into the house.

In the living room, a cozy fire flickered with the promise of warmth and welcome, but then it crackled and spit an ember out onto the hearth. How very well it symbolized her husband: he had projected a promise of warmth and comfort, but the underlying essence posed a very real potential for destruction if not controlled or contained. She stepped over his body to brush the ember back into the fireplace and looked at herself in the mirror about the mantle. Already the skin around her eye was turning a deep purple and the eye had almost swollen shut. Her lip was bloody but what made her tremble was the amount of blood splattered on her face; clotted in her hair; soaking her clothing. This was not how she had planned for the evening to go. Hours earlier, with hopeful anticipation, she had chilled the wine, taken extra care with her hair and makeup, put on his favorite dress. Now, it was all in ruins.

“Bong, bong, bong . . . “ The grandfather clock in the hallway started to strike twelve. Instead of experiencing the passion of a lover’s kiss for luck and toasting with a sip of champagne to bring in the New Year, Gwen found herself alone, but free. Mark was dead and could no longer hurt her. She decided to take a shower and wash it all away: the blood, the pain, the fear. She would start 2015 with a clean slate.


The Spot Writers:


RC Bonitz



Val Muller



Catherine A. MacKenzie



Kathy Price



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The Spot Writers – “The Bears” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to write about a statue. Today’s contribution comes from Val Muller, author of the YA novel The Scarred Letter, the new release Corgi Capers 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls, and the new release Cora Cassidy and the Craven Corgi.

The Bears

By Val Muller

She knew it was a bad idea, but how many times did she come back to her home town? She hadn’t been back since her parents moved away, years ago. And of all her old haunts, this was the one she missed the most. But it was Thanksgiving break, and all her friends from high school were busy. Or said so, anyway. After all, who went hiking in the middle of winter? But against her better judgment, she posted it on Facebook:

Back in town for a conference. Who wants to check out the Nature Center with me? Now that I have a digital camera, I can capture all my childhood memories…

Her friends were quick to reply:

Out of town.

Busy with family.

Do you know how cold it is?


Why go hiking in this weather?

Come out to the bar instead.

But she was undeterred.

I want to get a picture of that statue. The one of the three bears.

No one responded to that comment. Why would they? It was a private tradition she had kept with her father. They had gone to the Nature Center almost every weekend. Each time, they’d race from the parking lot to see who would be the first to touch the noses of the statue, the statue of the three bears. “Bet you can’t reach the top,” her father would tease.

When she was little, her father had to lift her up to reach the top nose. That is, when he let her win the race. Sometimes he won—just to keep it real. It was a poignant memory, but she had no pictures of it. When she told her father of her plan last week, he laughed it off.

“We moved away for a reason. Bigger and better things. Same as you. Why look back?”

She was only in town another day, and with the snow storm approaching, she knew how crazy she was to leave the hotel. But she didn’t mind the cold. After all, she’d grown up in such winters. And she was leaving the next day—assuming she didn’t get snowed in—so it was now or never.

But hiking alone in the woods… wasn’t that how so many horror movies started? So she was relieved when Ralph responded. Good old Ralph. Her lab partner from eleventh grade. She barely remembered being Facebook friends with him—they had only been casual friends, after all—but here he was, volunteering to be her companion for the day.

He met her at the park. He was waiting as she pulled into the lot. She patted her Chevy’s dashboard as she saw him. She laughed and then sighed, thinking that the car she drove in high school was more reliable than her Chevy. The Impala had been cooperating for months, now. The last time it left her stranded was at the Post Office back home in the heat of July. Something with the ignition, an inconsistent problem that never manifested in front of the mechanics, of course. In fact, she hadn’t even thought about the Chevy malfunctioning until she saw Ralph. But now, it popped into her head. What would happen if they she got stuck here? How awkward would that be? And it would be just like the Chevy, wouldn’t it? To leave her stranded right before a snow storm.

Ralph was wearing a red hunting cap—the kind Holden Caulfield wore—and an oversized winter coat. He’d lost weight since she’d seen him last, and she squinted to get a good look at him under his winter gear.

“Long time no see,” she said. She tried to remember some kind of private joke from chemistry class, but those memories were lost.

He smiled as he approached. “Been practicing your spins?”


His smile persisted. “Spins. Remember? It was the thing you had trouble with in chemistry…”

The memory flooded back. She hadn’t understood that chapter, and their lab teacher made her stand at the board in front of the whole class until she figured it out.

“Talk about repressed.” She laughed it off. “Anyway, thanks for coming.”

“Oh, thank you for inviting me. I didn’t have any plans.”

“No wife by now. No kids?” she asked.

He shook his head and embraced her in a bear hug. She didn’t remember hugging him in high school, not even once, but he threw himself around her with such warmth that she couldn’t help but hug him back.

“It’s been so long,” he said. “I’ve often thought about you.”

She squinted at him. His eyes were eager, his smile genuine. She couldn’t help but remember English class—she had no idea if they’d had that class together or not. The class had been assigned The Great Gatsby, and she remembered discussing the moment Jay Gatsby finally reunited with Daisy after all those years.

This moment seemed just as awkward.

“Anyway.” She held up her camera. “Let’s get this shot while the light’s good.” She captured the bear statue from several angles: a mother bear and two cubs. Ralph took a picture of her, too, reaching to touch the top of the tall bear’s nose—the bear that stood on its hind legs. “I could never reach that as a kid,” she said. “Take another one. Make sure it’s a good one I can send my dad.”

Ralph snapped the final picture just as it started to snow.

“We should probably go back. You know—not a good idea to hike in the snow.” She glanced at the trails waiting near the woods. “But maybe I have time just to glance down them.”

Ralph smiled and nodded. “No rush.” He laughed. “If we get snowed in, we can camp out in the car.”

Car, he had said. Not cars.

She shuddered and made her way toward the Swamp Loop Trail. “Let me just get a few pictures.”

She tried to let the place rekindle her memories, but it looked so different in the falling snow. She and her father never came during the worst of winter. They both hated snow. Maybe her father was right. Why revisit past memories?

“We should go back.”

“Want to grab dinner, maybe?”

She looked at the sky. “Not a good idea. The snow and all…”

“You could eat at my place. If it gets too snowy, you could crash there.”

The idea flashed in her head for just a moment. She hadn’t married either. Maybe this was one of those things. Those magical, holiday, fate, destiny…

“No thanks,” she said. “I’d best get back to the hotel.”

“I remember how you looked at prom,” he said, out of the blue. “The way your golden dress sparkled under the lights. I didn’t have a date. I was hoping to sneak in a dance with you, but you never noticed me.”

She was glad for her scarf; it hid her blush. She didn’t know whether to be flattered or fearful.

“Oh, Ralph. You should have asked me. I would have danced with you.” But she was already fingering her keys, praying to her Chevy to start. She hurried to the car, hopped in, and turned the key.


Stupid Chevy.

“I can give you a lift,” he said.

She shook her head. “I need my car. I’m supposed to drive home tomorrow.”

“I’ll bring you back in the morning.”

She looked up. The lights in the parking lot came on in the darkening twilight, illuminating the falling snowflakes. They had already started to muffle sound. She could understand why some people liked the snow, why some thought it was so beautiful and peaceful and serene.

“I’ve got a fireplace, and a spare bedroom.”

For just a moment, her mind flashed with the possibility. Going back with Ralph. Catching up on old times. Falling in love. Raising children who would go to the same high school their parents did. Just like in a fairy tale.

She looked out at the snow and tried to see its magic. But something else caught her eye. It was the statue of the bears. She saw movement in the snow. It was only a shadow, a memory.

It was a little girl laughing, her father running at her heels.

“I bet I can beat you to the statue,” the wind whispered.

And the girl, running with all her might, stretching her legs, testing her stride, determined to touch the bears’ noses first. Always pushing for more.

“Bet you can’t reach the top,” the wind echoed.

With one final turn, she tried the ignition. The engine roared to life, and she flashed Ralph a smile. “Thanks for coming, Ralph. I’ll see you around Facebook.”

She pulled away before he even started his car, and he watched her, waving into her rear view mirror, as she drove hastily away in the beautiful falling snow.



The Spot Writers—our members:


RC Bonitz: http://www.rcbonitz.com


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


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


Kathy Price: http://www.kathylprice.com

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