Tag Archives: stories

The Spot Writers – “Midnight with Shakespeare” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about a chance encounter.

This week story comes from Chiara. Chiara is currently quarantined in Berlin, Germany, and doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects.


“Midnight with Shakespeare” by Chiara De Giorgi


Ever since I watched “Midnight in Paris” I’ve been fantasizing about meeting the object of my own devotion, the greatest poet of all times: William Shakespeare. Impossible, you say? Maybe so, but a girl can dream.

This is the story of how my dream came (sort of) true. More accurately: this is the story of how my dream within a dream came true, to say it with Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.


I woke up on a sunny morning and entered the kitchen, yawning like a hippopotamus.

“Good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter[1]”, said my father, handing me a cup of black tea.

I smiled and accepted the kindly offered beverage. I sighed. I really needed it, I had a day full of work meetings ahead, and no desire to attend any of them.

As I left home, headed towards the bus stop, my neighbour waved at me. “Nothing will come of nothing[2]!” she shouted, an encouraging smile on her face.

Still wondering about her words, I later entered the building where my first meeting was going to take place. I was about half an hour early, so I asked the secretary where I could go get some coffee.

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late[3]”, she said. “Just turn round the corner, there’s a bagel seller whose bagels are the absolute best, and the coffee is also good!”

I happily followed her advice: I love bagels! I found the place, a small take-away shop, bright and clean, and I put in my order for a bagel with strawberry cream, and a coffee. The guy behind the counter licked a spoon of cream clean before setting it aside and serving me. I must have looked astonished, because he smirked and winked at me. “Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers[4]”, he whispered.

Holding my bagel and my coffee I made my way back to the meeting, which lasted almost three hours and left me drained. A long discussion had brought to no end result, except I had to prepare another report, with more figures and nonsense.

“The fault lies not within the stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings[5]”, said my colleague, in an unusual spout of wisdom.

“Yeah”, I sighed. “An underling I may be, and yet I must rush to the next meeting! Adieu!

I decided to take a cab, so I could rest a bit. I must have dozed off, because suddenly I realized we were stuck in traffic. I was going to be late. Not cool.

“What’s the matter?” I asked the cab driver. “Can’t we go a bit faster?”

I saw the man shrug, then he looked at me in the rear-view mirror and said: “Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day[6].”

Oh, well. He was right, after all. There was nothing I could do. I called a colleague and let her know I was running a bit late, then checked my Smartphone to pass the time.

Finally the cab dropped me in front of the building where the second meeting of the day was taking place. At the entrance I almost tripped over a cleaning lady, who was on her knees, furiously rubbing the floor.

“Out, damned spot! Out, I say![7]” she was muttering. Such an odd day, that was, and I had not seen the last of it, yet!

I knocked at the meeting room’s door and entered, making my apologies, then reached my seat and sat down, opened my files on the tablet and prepared to discuss the subject at hand. The discussion lead to a nasty disagreement with one of the guys from another Company, which left me irritated. As I was putting all my stuff back inside my bag, wishing my work day was over, someone hit me.

I heard a voice near me: “Gosh, I’m sorry. Let me help you pick everything up.”

Of course the most embarrassing items in my bag had fallen out: my comb full of hair, a picture of my cats, a handful of tampons, a Mickey Mouse pencil. I lifted my eyes to see who it was, and of course he was the guy I had quarreled with just minutes before. He handed me my things, then he held out his hand. “We haven’t started on the right foot, have we? Let me introduce myself.”

We shook hands. He was smiling warmly at me and I found myself smiling back at him.

“So, do you have time for coffee?” he asked me.

I checked the watch. “I have about twenty minutes, then I must go attend another meeting”, I replied. “Are you sure you want to have coffee together? We almost ate each other less than ten minutes ago in this very room!”

He took my hand again and put a gentle kiss on it – he did, I kid you not.

“My dear”, he added, as if it were the most natural thing to say at that point, “Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps[8].”

I’ll be honest, here: the rest of the day passed in a blur, I don’t remember much. When I got home, I was exhausted and collapsed on my bed, instantly falling asleep. When I opened my eyes, the alarm-clock on my night-stand read 00:00. Midnight.

Around me all was dark and silent, then I heard a whisper. No, it was many whispers, coming from different directions, overlapping, confused. At last, I recognized some words: “If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend: If you pardon, we will mend[9]…”

Around me, tiny fairy lights were dancing in the dark, I could smell jasmine, and I could hear the sound of jingle bells… I laughed, long and happy.


[1] Measure for Measure, Act 4 Scene 3

[2] King Lear, Act 1 Scene 1

[3] The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 2 Scene 2

[4] Romeo and Juliet, Act 4 Scene 2

[5] Julius Casear, Act 1 Scene 3

[6] Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 3

[7] Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 1

[8] Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3 Scene 2

[9] A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5, Scene 1


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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The Spot Writers – “Consignment Sale Santa” by Val Muller

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


“Consignment Sale Santa” by Val Muller


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

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

They’re both aggressive.

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

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


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

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


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

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

Really, it was amazing. I deserve a trophy.

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

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

It was nice what she did, though.

Mrs. Claus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

All the kids except Charlie.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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


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


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The Spot Writers – “Shut Up and Listen to Me” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to use the following words or images in a story: whirlwind of leaves, wizened old man, lonely call of an owl, crackling fire.

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


Shut Up and Listen to Me” by Chiara De Giorgi

Now, just because I’m a wizened old man it doesn’t mean I can’t tell a story. Oh, the stories I can tell! Sit here with me by this crackling fire, and listen.

Do you know I’ve met a fairy? She actually lived inside my pocket for a good while. She wasn’t beautiful, on the contrary. She was pretty ugly, in fact. She had a fat, crooked nose, and eyes the size of a pinpoint. She also did not smell good. But she had stories to tell that I could in turn tell others, so here I am.

When she wanted me to listen to her, she called me. The sound she made was like the lonely call of an owl. A great sadness came over me as soon as I heard it, and it didn’t leave me unless I listened to the fairy’s tale. She would tell me of huge monsters, bloody and truculent wars, terrifying calamities. She would scare me to death, and soon afterwards she’d tell me about graceful creatures, acts of extreme courage, unbounded love. It was an emotional roller-coaster, but I was addicted to it.

One day she left me forever, in a whirlwind of leaves. I begged her not to go, but she wouldn’t listen. I was devastated, but at last I found a way to survive: I tell the stories she taught me. If I didn’t, I’d go crazy.

So, you see, my encounter with the fairy was both blessing and curse. It was a blessing, because she was a magical creature who freely gifted me with her magic. At the same time, though, it was a curse, because I’m compelled to revive her memories over and over again in order to stay sane.

Will you therefore please just shut up and listen to me?


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

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The Spot Writers – “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.



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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The Spot Writers – “Lady Marian and the Kids” by Chiara De Giorgi.

Welcome to The Spot Writers.

The current prompt is a story about a character who finds an object that had been lost. 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.


 Lady Marian and the kids

It had seemed a good idea, to bring the cat along.

They planned on travelling through France with their motor home during the Summer break for their family holiday: it would take them three weeks to go as far as Paris and come back.

Their usual cat-sitter wasn’t available, and the replacement they had found had asked double the budgeted amount. So there were only two choices, really: shorten their holiday, or take the cat to Paris.

She had sighed, loaded the motor home with food for two adults, four children, and a cat, and they had left.

Their first stop was Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc. There was a huge parking lot at the edge of a forest. It was quiet, it smelled good, it was cheap. They stopped for the night, and as she sat stroking the cat and reading a book, the kids chased one another right outside the motor home, running in and out the forest.

Her youngest suddenly opened the door.

“Mom! Can we play with Lady Marian outside? Please?”

“I’m afraid it’s not a good idea”, she replied. “Our Lady here is used to staying in, she might get frightened outside.”

“Just a few minutes! I want to show her the woods!”

Kid number Three jumped in, sweat and dirt clinging to his cheeks and hands.

“Yeah, can you imagine how she’ll love the tree trunks? Sooo many huge scratchers!”

The kids laughed and clapped their hands. They made her laugh, too.

“Please, mom, we’ll be careful.”

“We’ll protect her!” cried the youngest, puffing his little chest.

She sighed and turned her head: the cat was actually showing a bit of curiosity for the world outside the door. Lady Marian had been with them for five years: she probably trusted her humans enough to allow them to take her for a stroll outside.

“Okay”, she said at last. “But!” she added, raising her voice over her kids’ enthusiastic hurras. “Bring your brother and sister. I want them to be with you at all times.”

Kids number Three and Four found number One and Two, who were exploring a big woodpile, and Lady Marian was finally brought into the big big world outside the motor home.

Her eyes were huge, and her tiny nose twitched like crazy: wood, pine, snow, wind, grass… so many new smells!

The kids brought her to the woodpile, and Lady Marian was happy to touch the logs’ bark with her pads. Laughing excitedly, the kids and the cat played together, jumping up and down the logs.

Until at one point the kids lost sight of the cat.

They searched all around the parking lot, they entered the forest with a torchlight, they called, pleaded, offered treats… the cat was nowhere to be found.

They stayed one day longer in Chamonix, but Lady Marian didn’t come back.

Everyone was crying, by the time Mom and Dad decided to leave the cat behind and go to Paris anyway.

“She’s a proud feline, you don’t have to worry”, she said, trying to reassure the kids, but it didn’t work. She felt so terribly guilty.

Twenty days later, they were back in the parking lot at Chamonix, on their way home.

As soon as Dad parked the motor home, the kids ran to the woodpile.

“They’re going to be disappointed all over again”, said Dad.

She sighed.

“What would you do, forbid them to go out?”

Dad shook his head.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have stopped here.”

“I think we should go with them”, she said suddenly. “I feel guilty, I should have kept Lady Marian inside.”

“And they would have been angry at you, you know that. They would have tried to convince you to let her out every single day of our trip!”

She sighed again.

“You’re right. And yet…”

“Mom! Dad! Come!”

Kid number One was calling them with all her voice.

“Oh my God, what happened?” she cried, worried sick in an instant. When her girl called, it was always for a good reason.

“It’s Lady Marian! We found her, but we can’t reach her.”

“What?” Mom and Dad asked together, jumping up from their seats. “Where?”

“She’s hidden somewhere under the woodpile! Do you think she’s stayed there for all this time, waiting for us?”

“I really don’t know”, she answered, getting the torchlight.

“She’ll be so hungry!”

She hold the light for Dad, while he tried to reach the cat. The kids were holding their breath. She could hear Lady Marian’s feeble meows coming from under the tree trunks.

“She’s here! I can see her!” Dad finally said.

They all stared down a crack between two thick logs, and Lady Marian’s yellow eyes blinked back.

Dad called her, stretching a hand through the crack: “Lady, it’s us, come on!”

After a while, Lady Marian gathered enough courage and stretched her forepaws forward.

“I can touch her,” Dad whispered. “Just a couple of inches… There! I got her!”

Dad sat, withdrawing his hand from the logs. He was holding their beloved cat. Lady Marian was purring and rubbing her head against Dad’s hand, while everybody else was cheering, crying and laughing at the same time.

“It was a good holiday”, said kid number Two the following night, as she tucked him in. “Do you know what I liked best, mom?”

“What? The Tour Eiffel? The boat ride along the River Seine? The fireworks at Versailles?”

“That our Lady waited for us and made us find her again. That was the most beautiful thing that happened. And the woodpile was really cool, wasn’t it?”


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 – “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.


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


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


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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ANOTHER SEGMENT—OR TWO. Will it ever end?

Today is Good Friday, supposedly a day of relaxation and to remember “whatever.” For me, it’s remembering my mother who died on Good Friday in 2016. Of course, she didn’t die two years ago today since the date of Good Friday changes every year. I thank Facebook for reminding me of her death on March 24 cause I’m horrid with dates. I’ll never forget Mom died on Good Friday, but I won’t always remember the 24th.

We have family coming for dinner on Sunday. EEK! Thirteen people, now that I count; that’s unlucky and I don’t need more bad luck, so I’ll set a place setting for Matt and put his photograph on the chair. This will be our second Easter without him.

For the past few weeks, I’d been searching for my high stool that magically disappeared. The only place it could have been was in our large, walk-in linen closet that was stogged so full you couldn’t see the floor or the shelving. I asked Hubby to help me organize it. He’s always eager to throw stuff out, so perhaps he had the wrong impression re my request as he was most accommodating.  We got a few things moved out, and low and behold: my stool! Sadly, I’d accused Hubby of taking it and forgetting where he’d put it; I had even gone as far as saying “someone must have stolen it.” (Who, I didn’t know.)

And then I saw them: turds. Oh My Gosh–to put it mildly. In my linen closet?! Never, ever have they been in the closet. I needed to remove everything. Long story and job that was, so I won’t even start that tirade.

Needless to say, it was more than a morning’s work. And then I had to wash numerous precious items, most of them by hand. And NOT how I wanted to spend Good Friday–or any day, for that matter. I needed a drink (or two) badly, but 11 a.m. was a bit early, even for me.

So, now I have an extremely (for me) neat linen closet.


Okay, so it doesn’t look THAT neat, not in the photo. And it’s way bigger than it looks, too. It’s very deep and long. Six (or more) people can easily fit in it, not that THAT matters!

But, GAH, mice in my linen closet? What the heck! And where are they coming from?

After that, we tackled the TV cabinet. [If you’ve read my earlier post(s), you’ll understand.] Hubby removed all the electronics. GAH: more peanut shells. He was great, though, he dusted like crazy. First time I’ve seen him dust–or clean!


Once the linen closet and the TV cabinet were clean, I tackled the office (where I spend my days writing stories no one ever reads). It wasn’t in that bad a shape, but the surfaces needed organized and books replaced back on shelves. It’s also my library.

So, I opened the bottom drawer of Hubby’s desk to stog stuff into it.

Low and behold: peanut shells and turds.

Oh my! What has my life become?

I had kinda been joking in earlier posts when I said how I constantly look over my shoulders, but you know what? I need to. They’re everywhere. And who knows where!

It’s now 4:44 p.m. Time for a drink, right? (Maybe two…maybe three…)

And this is how my Good Friday went. I hope yours is/was better.

“Happy Easter,” says Oliver the Rabbit.

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The Spot Writers – “The Vampire” by Cathy MacKenzie

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

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

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

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


The Vampire by Cathy MacKenzie

Nancy jumped. What was that?

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

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

Dark. Quiet. No—what was that?

A shadow. At the end of the hall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’ve seen vampires?”

“Well…just one. Last night.”

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

“No, Granny, I saw one for sure.”


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

“Oh, Nancy, you silly girl.”

“No, Granny, I saw it.”

“It’s not nice to tell fibs.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He glared at her. “Shut up, Nancy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was she crying?  She looked sad.

“You missing Grampie?” Nancy asked.

“I am, sweetie.”

“Sorry, Granny.”

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


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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


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The Spot Writers – “Transcendental Beauty” by Val Muller

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


Transcendental Beauty by Val Muller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The air grew dense.

“Are you taking drugs?” Mom asked.

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

“Make eggs?” Mom asked.

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

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

The blush rose to my ears.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“James!” Mom scolded.

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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


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The Spot Writers – “Needle in a Stack” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story that takes place in a library. Today’s post comes to us from Val Muller author of The Man with the Crystal Ankh and The Scarred Letter. Val just finished up a blog tour for those two young adult books. You can find the full tour here, where you can learn interesting tidbits about her childhood, her writing career, and her works: http://www.valmuller.com/2017/10/25/writer-wednesday-my-blog-tour/

Author’s note: The following story may or not be inspired by the fact that I cannot think of the perfect wedding gift for someone very special to me who may or may not be reading this post and whose wedding may or may not be less than a week away.

Needle in a Stack by Val Muller

Fun facts:

  1. On Fridays, the Westfield Library shuts down early–at 5 p.m.
  2. On Saturdays, it doesn’t open until 10 a.m.
  3. Driving from Westfield Library to Thomasville takes three hours. Add another twenty to get to the east end and to find parking near the chapel. Leave time for last minute hair and makeup before the photographer shows up, and that means I’d have to leave the library no later than 9:40 to make it to the pre-wedding photo session on Saturday.
  4. 9:40 is twenty minutes before the library even opens.
  5. The library has a security system at the front and rear door that’s activated an hour after it closes—when the librarians and custodians leave. The system does not monitor movement within the library during the night.
  6. The custodians leave the supply room unlocked all the time.

I had the perfect wedding gift chosen for my sister: a sterling silver heart wrapped with the infinity sign. After meeting with my mom to put finishing touches on the centerpieces, I returned the heart to the store. It cost me a $5.50 restocking fee. Luckily, I hadn’t gotten it engraved yet. That was Thursday night.

For years, since Dalia was still in the womb, Mom has been recording her thoughts, tidbits of our family history, milestones of Dalia’s life, in a handwritten, black leather journal. And now the journal was ready to become Dalia’s most treasured wedding gift. While Mom was loading the centerpieces into her SUV, I snuck a peek at the journal. I read enough to get the brilliant idea, the idea for a gift my sister would value as much as Mom’s journal. Perhaps moreso.

When I was too young to remember, my grandfather used to take Dalia to the library in Westfield. They have a children’s section painted in whimsical murals, and the entrance to the children’s stacks is guarded by a life-sized paper mache dragon. Dalia loved the library but had always been hesitant to read, so my grandfather apparently drew cartoons all throughout the children’s library books. His drawings featured a cartoon rendition of Dalia dressed in a princess costume. It was the way he got Dalia to read. She’d read through the pages looking for the pictures of herself.

Mom mentioned in the journal that she wished they’d kept one of the books, or taken a picture at least. Grandpa kept this up for over a year before the librarians caught him and made him stop defacing the books.

Of course that was two decades ago, but some of the books have to remain. They’ve got to. It’s what I’m banking on. Just one book, just one is all I need.

More fun facts:

  1. Sometimes on Friday nights, the custodians hang out in the lobby, having a drink.
  2. Crouching behind a stack of industrial-grade toilet paper and paper towel rolls while you wait for the custodians to finish drinking can really get to the hamstrings.
  3. There are no emergency lights in the library. If you don’t have your own flashlight, you have to rely on the flashlight app on your phone to search the stacks.
  4. When searching a library in the middle of the night, it would be wisest to arrive with a fully-charged phone. Or at least a charger.
  5. Because you can’t really leave once you’re locked inside with the system armed.
  6. You’d think you could identify old books by how worn their spines are, but you’d be wrong. Some of the oldest books hold up the best. Some of the newer ones are the first to fall apart.
  7. You have to open the books to check the copyright dates.
  8. Sometimes, in the darkness, a life-sized dragon made of paper mache can really get the heart racing.
  9. If you try to remove a library book without checking it out, the red light will flash, even if the library is closed.
  10. If you try to leave the library before the system is disarmed the next morning, it will cause a loud alarm, which summons the police officers who are stationed right down the block.

None of this will matter when I see the look on my sister’s face. It’s three hours to Thomasville, and I’ve got something better than a journal, and just in the nick of time.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Dorothy Colinco: www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/



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