The Spot Writers – “Spirit Animal” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about something summery. Today’s piece comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series with several other books in the works. Check out her blog for news about upcoming releases at www.valmuller.com/blog.

“Spirit Animal” by Val Muller

It was the summer without vacations. Two of them cancelled already, and the re-rescheduled one for August not looking good, either. And with Benny being quarantined from friends, it was looking to be a summer to blemish the memory.

I kept thinking of my own summers, the freedom I had to bike with friends, to live outside until Mom called me in for dinner, to build secret campfires and clubhouses out of scrap wood. At seven, Benny was maybe a little too young to do all that on his own, especially without help. Our previous decision to cap the kid count at one seemed like a bad idea this summer. How much better might things be with a little brother?

Instead, it was up to me and Helen to make up for the global pandemic in Benny’s small world. Helen was doing her best, balancing work-from-home with summertime fun. And I’ve basically been on conference calls for the last ten weeks. I came out of the office for a coffee and I saw Benny there, looking dejected. On the most beautiful day in June, just sitting there on the steps staring at the carpet.

So for the holiday weekend, I knew I had to repair Benny’s summer.

We were watching a cartoon, something about spirit animals. Benny asked what that was, and that’s when I decided. “We’re going camping,” I said. “We’re going on a quest to find your spirit animal.”

“Camping?” Helen rose an eyebrow from the kitchen, where she was making dinner. “Where?”

With social distancing, I wasn’t sure campgrounds were even open. Benny looked at me expectantly. I opened my mouth and hoped for the best. “In the back yard, of course!”

So down to the basement I went, searching for my old gear. My tent, the sleeping bags. “It’s a two-man tent,” I reminded Helen, thinking back to our camping days.

“That’s okay,” she said with a little too much relief. “You boys have fun. I’m sure I’ll be okay having the house to myself for a night.”

That night, I remembered why grown-ups don’t camp so much. The humidity, the mosquitos. And, of course, the loss of that “I’m invincible” feeling of childhood and adolescence. Every rustling in the bushes on our three-acre lot, I wondered about our safety. Would a fox attack? Would they smell dinner on our breaths? And what about the bear everyone was posting about on the neighborhood Facebook page? At night, he owned the neighborhood. Even the coyote being tracked down the road would defer to the bear, I’m sure.

“What do we do now, Dad?” Benny asked. He sat on the sleeping bag in the tent, looking at me expectantly. He seemed so little, so young. I rustled his hair and gave him a hug. Sometimes I forget how much of a kid he still is.

“We should go out of the tent,” I said. “We need to find your spirit animal.” I smacked my arm. “And unless your spirit animal is a mosquito, we aren’t going to find it in here.”

“How do we find my spirit animal?”

I glanced inside at the warm glow of the television. Helen was finding her own spirit animal, no doubt. I didn’t know how to answer. I was winging this. I don’t honestly know what a spirit animal is. I’ve never had one of my own. I think it’s supposed to be some kind of vision quest or something. Not something I’m qualified for, really.

“I think a spirit animal has some qualities that you share with it. Something deep down inside of you. It’s powerful,” I hoped aloud.

“How will I know what mine is?” Benny asked.

“When you see it, you’ll know.”

We lit a small fire in the portable hibachi grill. We roasted marshmallows, and I wondered what kind of animals liked marshmallows. While we ate, a small brown toad hopped onto the patio nearby, perching on a damp spot.

“Is that my spirit animal?” Benny asked.

“A toad?” I glanced at its brown, warty surface. “I don’t think so, son. Do you like to eat flies?”

He laughed. “No, Dad, I guess not.”

We waited. In the distance, the crickets chirped, and some nocturnal bird warbled. Late-lingering fireflies blinked under the trees. An owl hooted.

“Am I a cricket?” he asked, moving his arms like a praying mantis.

We both laughed.

“I think you have to see your animal to know it,” I said. I looked at the toad again and wondered if that was my spirit animal. Just kind of sitting there. Being useless except for eating bugs. Maybe it would be good at conference calls. I shivered and shook my head. No. This was not my quest for a spirit animal. Tonight belonged to Benny.

I wondered what kind of young man he would be, what kind of man he would grow into. He was so young, so sheltered. What was this year in quarantine doing to him? Would he know how to socialize? Would he trust others, or be governed by paranoid fear? Would he follow what he was told without question? Would his basis for human interactions be movies? Cartoons where characters go on vision quests to find their spirit animal?

Was I a failure of a father?

At the end of our property, two eyes glowed.

“A fox,” I whispered.

Benny gasped and whispered to me. “Cool, but it’s not my spirit animal.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“I just do,” he said.

We went to sleep that night without an answer to his spirit animal quandary. I woke in the middle of the night to the feeling that something was wrong. My first instinct was to check on Benny. He slept soundly next to me. I dashed to the house to peek in the living room window. Helen was sleeping on the couch, the TV still glowing, an empty wine glass on the table next to her. The glow from the house lights illuminated the camping area in an even twilight, and I turned to inspect the yard.

The humidity was stifling, but still I shivered. Something was off.

I turned around, and that’s when I saw it. The bear, the one everyone had been spotting. So far the neighbors had posted a picture from someone’s bedroom window, far-off and grainy; a picture of its muddy paw prints crossing the road; and several shots of its scat around the neighborhood.

This one was within striking range of me. It was brown—smaller than I thought it would be, but still a terrifying size, one that could tear apart dog or boy or man. And it was sniffing around Benny’s tent.

It’s a parents’ worst dilemma. Being useless to help your child.

I could have easily walked into the house to safety. But the bear was right next to Benny. I thought back to all the documentaries I must have watched, and I realized I knew nothing about bears. I thought I remembered that they like to leave people alone, that they are non-aggressive. But was I supposed to freeze? Play dead? One kind of bear, you’re supposed to raise your arms in the air menacingly to make yourself look bigger, I think.

And in the midst of my son’s life being threatened, I had the awful thought that my phone was in the tent, so there’s no way I could capture what would have been an amazing shot.

In an awful moment, the bear rose on two feet, sniffed the top of the tent, and let out a small groan, a grunt. What was it saying? Was the bear saying “Grace,” pre-dinner? And Benny the main course?

My mind raced with how I would tell Helen. It was then that I decided. I would scream. I would distract the bear and let it chase me. Maybe I would die, but that’s what parents were supposed to do for their children.

Something held my tongue. The bear turned to stare at me. Our eyes locked for an eternity. Stars lived and died. Planets crumbled.

I knew then I was looking at Benny’s spirit animal. Gentle, unprovoked, but with terrifying power beneath.

The bear grunted once, then lowered itself and walked nonchalantly back into the shadows of the yard. I knew Benny would be okay. Tonight and always.

I carried him inside a moment later, though, just to be safe. We slept on the floor next to Helen and her empty bottle of wine. I decided in the morning I wouldn’t tell Benny about the bear just yet. He would discover his power in his own time. For now, I’d let him be a little boy.

***

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 – “On a Cold Winter Night” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to find 5 words in a news article that jump out at you. Write a story using those words.

Here you can find the article I read. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/02/us/asian-giant-hornet-washington.html . The title is: ‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet, and the five words I picked are the following: Spider-Man – dragonfly – winter – night – underground.

This week story comes from Chiara. Chiara is currently in Berlin, Germany, not quarantined anymore but still doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects.

***

“On a Cold Winter Night” by Chiara De Giorgi

Dragonfly-Woman cursed under her breath, then stilled herself in the dark.

After the discovery of murder hornets in the U.S.  that year – following wildfires in Australia, locust swarms in Africa, a very infectious disease that spread all over the world, and other ill-matched catastrophes –  she knew to expect anything, and the giant spiderweb she had just been caught in could mean a lot of things- mostly horrible things.

Her heart sank when she felt the spiderweb move. She closed her eyes and swallowed. Was this going to be the end, her end? Eaten by a giant spider, underground, on a cold winter night? After all she’d been through, after all the people she’d helped and saved… it didn’t seem right.

She opened her big, marvelous dragonfly eyes. She wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Dragonflies can detect so many more colors than humans with their eyes, however they can’t really see anything without light. Dragonfly-Woman had fixed the issue with enhanced contacts, which gave her an owl’s vision. Now she could spot a bulky form slowly making its way towards her, making the web’s threads vibrate, slowly but steadily.

She steeled herself, ready to set her delicate-looking wings in motion. Would she be able to cut through the spiderweb, though? Spiderwebs are incredibly resistant, after all. Maybe I could just cut the beast’s head off, if it comes to me at the right angle, she thought, and smirked. I’ll make sure it does.

“Hey, spidey, spidey spidey? Why are you hiding in the dark-ey?”

The bulk suddenly stopped. Damn!

A surprised voice rose from the darkness:

“Dragonfly-Woman?”

“Who… Spider-Man?” she asked, shocked, as the big bulk came nearer. “What the hell are you doing down here?”

“What am I doing here? What are you doing here! I thought you were dead!”

“Me? Dead? Why?” she asked, surprised, then remembered. “ Oh, yeah… Well, you know how dragonfly females pretend they’re dead when they want to put off their suitors…?”

Spider-Man cracked a glow stick and suddenly a greenish light washed over the walls of the tunnel. It gave his face a gaunt and sick look.

“You pretended you were dead?” he almost shouted, outraged. “To escape my… avances? That’s insane!”

Dragonfly-Woman scoffed. “Was it?”

“I was devastated!” continued Spider-Man. “I roamed with no purpose for months, I almost got killed by a giant murder hornet, and were it not for Lady Bug I wouldn’t be here!”

“Well, I’m sorry, but— Wait, what? Lady Bug? That vapid bimbo?”

Lady Bug jumped into the light, a belligerent expression on her plump face.

“Excuse me, did you just call me a bimbo? Did she just call me a bimbo?”

“Er…”

“You let him believe you were dead, so you clearly didn’t want him. So now what? You changed your mind, you slut?”

“Don’t you dare call me a slut!”

“Or what?” Lady Bug laughed. “Did you forget you’re trapped? What if he left you there? Hey, here’s an idea”, she added, turning to Spider Man. “What if we left her there? She’ll die for real, this time.”

“You would never…”

“Oh, but wouldn’t I?”

“Girls! I mean, insects! Insect-girls! Whatever! Shut up!”

After a few seconds of silence, Spider-Man reached for a blade in one of his pockets and cut the threads that kept Dragonfly-Woman captive, then stood in front of her as she plucked the sticky tendrils away.

“I am over you”, he announced in a tired voice. “I am over everything, actually. I don’t want to go back to the daylight ever again, it’s too depressing. I thought I’d let a rat, or a bat, bite me, but I don’t like the competition, and Rat-Man and Bat-Man were here before me, after all.”

“What are you going to do?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t care.”

“We’ll be fine”, whispered Lady Bug, “just like we were before.” She turned to Dragonfly-Woman and looked at her with sadness in her eyes. “You can go, or you can stay. It’s all the same to me. To us. Our world got dark long ago.”

Dragonfly-Woman’s eyes glinted in the darkness. When she spoke, her voice was resolute. “I will go back outside and check the situation. As the Crow-Man said, it can’t rain all the time. I’ll come back for you as soon as it’s safe, and we can be friends again. No hard feelings. Okay?”

She stretched her right hand out, and Lady Bug slowly reached for it and shook it, a smile blossoming on her lips.

“Okay.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “Can COVID-19 Solve the Climate Crisis?” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to find 5 words in a news article that jump out at you. Write a story using those words.

I picked these words, climate change, CO2 emissions, coronavirus, pandemic, and isolation from a news report commenting on the impact of the current pandemic on carbon emissions. I imagined a conversation between several of the graduate students in the climate change novel I’m working on when they were in high school. My novel begins in 2027, and this story takes place in the spring of 2020 at the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

For information on The Road to Environmental Armageddon, my climate change novel in the making for many years, visit my website (https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com) and read the posts in the Road to Environmental Armageddon category.

***

“Can COVID-19 Solve the Climate Crisis?” by Phil Yeats

The conversation happened via email chat. It was more like an argument than a normal discussion, but this wasn’t a normal time, and we weren’t normal teenagers. We were the four most dedicated members of our school’s environment club and trying to keep things going by meeting online. School was closed and the coronavirus pandemic had everyone in forced isolation.

A newspaper article about decreases in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the pandemic-generating a slowdown in the global economy triggered the discussion.

“That proves the climate change crisis is false, perpetuated by guilt-ridden liberals looking for reasons for self-flagellation and pleasure denial,” John wrote.

I stared at my computer screen, and I’m sure, the others did too. John’s big words and bizarre right-wing intellectual concepts came from reading conservative blogs. Not sites catering to yahoos, but ones favoured by climate change deniers who wanted to give the impression they thought about the problem.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.

“That Draconian solutions aren’t necessary,” John responded. I imagined him assuming one of the threatening poses he often used to reinforce his arguments. “If a natural event like the coronavirus outbreak lowers CO2 emissions by twenty percent and generates pledges for a low carbon path to recovery, it’s not an insurmountable problem.”

“GARBAGE,” I typed. “You suggesting worldwide responses haven’t been Draconian, and anyway, twenty percent is a number some extremist pulled out of the air. It will be like the economic downturn in 2008—emissions will decrease for a few months and bounce up bigger than ever in the next year.”

“Come on Dan, these chats are no fun if you two get into arguments,” Madison said. She was as passionate about the environment as anyone, but hated confrontations. She spent more time defusing arguments, usually ones between John and me, than expressing her ideas. Those attempts at peacemaking often involved touchy-feely stuff to calm John down, but that couldn’t happen when we were stuck in our various houses staring at our computer screens.

Emily, as usual, had the last word. She was our most cerebral member, fascinated by mathematics, and destined to attend some prestigious university on a monster scholarship. “Scientists and engineers have known how to curb carbon dioxide increases for years. It’s not the ability to act, it’s the will. Individuals and their governments, lack the will to act.”

***

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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My Heart Is Broken

It’s thirty-nine months today since my son Matthew has been gone. I woke around 3:30 a.m. this morning, knowing something wasn’t quite right, and immediately knew it was the 11th. And I had no poem! The days are passing too fast–despite Covid.

I immediately started one, but it’s not ready to post. Another day, perhaps.

Instead, here is the book with all the poems I wrote commemorating him over the three years after his death. A purchaser just reached out and said how wonderful the book is; I hope she’s telling me the truth!

So…here it is. Available locally from me or on Amazon U.S. and Canada.

MY HEART IS BROKEN

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The Spot Writers – “Where Is the Love?”

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to choose a news article. Find 5 words in the article that jump out at you. Write a story using those words.

This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon, as well as MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series.

***

“Where Is the Love?” by Cathy MacKenzie

 

I don’t have to look at newspaper blurbs

To find five words

That jump out at me,

I don’t need to see

Ones that’ll stand out.

 

The ones that’ll shout

To me

Are these three:

Covid, social-distancing, death—

Seniors taking their last breath—

And these two:

Health and ICU.

 

This month of June

Couldn’t come too soon

But not much has changed,

The world is still deranged

And crazy.

 

People are lazy

And lackadaisical,

Recognizable,

Ignoring masks

And other tasks.

 

What happened to social-distancing

And outdistancing,

Groups of ten

And wise women and men?

 

Summer is here,

We want to be near,

But without health

What is wealth?

Money or not,

Life can’t be bought.

 

I fear I exist

And co-exist

In a dream,

A nightmare

From which I’ll never wake

To give my head a shake.

 

Despite upheaval

And evil,

Can we pray

For words to say

That won’t hurt

And phrases we won’t blurt

Without thinking,

Without blinking

An eye?

 

I look to the sky

And pray for change,

That we may re-arrange

Priorities

And help minorities,

That peace can prevail

Despite a gale.

 

Where is the love

Once sent from God above?

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

 

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The Spot Writers – “Afternoon Anthropologist” by Val Muller

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This week’s prompt is to find a new article, and choose five words from the article, using them in a story or a poem. This week’s story is from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series.

She chose an article about monkeys attacking humans to steal blood samples from COVID-19 patients, which seemed more to her like the beginning of a Planet of the Apes movie than anything.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/saratabin/2020/05/30/why-would-monkeys-steal-blood/#323fc6777884

“Afternoon Anthropologist” by Val Muller

Midnight Raven mounted the bench, hands on hips, cape blowing in the wind.

So stereotypical.

Her nemesis, Muddy Shark, crouched menacingly in the water below. He roared up at her, reaching for what she clutched so dearly in her hand.

“Mine!” he roared.

“No, not yours.” She held it high in the sky, like a wand. From the safety of the picnic table, the onlooker watched, half expecting her to summon a bolt of lightning with the passion that glowed in her eyes.

“Mine!” the Shark demanded again. He rose from the water, dripping, bright red beads dribbling down his chin. Red as blood.

Anger was rampant in the hot summer sun, and her scowl matched his.

“You’ll never have this!” She stretched her arm impossibly higher. The object she clutched glistened in the sun, shedding bright purple drops that speckled her arm.

A few drops landed on the Shark. Puzzled, his face softened. Tension decreased for an instant, but then he understood, and his eyes narrowed, further enraged.

The battle was impossible. Clearly, the Raven would end it all to deprive her nemesis of a single iota of pleasure. She would end them both.

The onlooked pocketed his phone and put down his lemonade, preparing to rise, preparing for the inevitable.

This would not end well.

The Shark fell back into the water, thrashing before making a final strike. He was airborne, his wet outfit glistening in the blazing sun. His enraged, chubby fists clenched, his guttural scream a nonverbal invective.

“If you’re too stupid to hold onto your own ice pop, there’s no way you’re getting mine!”

And then it happened. The Raven’s purple pop had been exposed to the summer heat for too long. It lost all structural integrity, like the onlooker’s last shred of sanity evaporating. Then it landed—splat—on the patio.

Enraged, the Shark plopped down into the kiddie pool, its water still red from his dropped pop. The Raven, defeated, chucked her impotent ice pop stick at her brother before joining him in the cool relief of the pool, their tears mixing with the sticky-sweet of melted pops and hose water.

The onlooked sat again, relaxing, reopening the book he had been reading on his phone. Disaster was averted for now, and he waited for his pulse to slow again. It wasn’t much as far as superhero plots were concerned, but for a COVID summer day, it was typical. And around these parts, it was about as exciting as things got.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

+++

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

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The Spot Writers – “Floating in a Tin Can” by Chiara De Giorgi

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

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.

***

“Floating in a Tin Can” by Chiara De Giorgi

Never had I ever thought I’d find myself one day floating in a tin can, like David Bowie’s Major Tom, far above the Moon… and yet, here I am! Of course I really hope I’ll keep in touch with Ground Control and make it back to Earth, but for the time being I just want to enjoy the ride, as they say.

It all began during the 2020 pandemic. People were scared, for a while confusion reigned, but in the end, slowly, things went back to normal – with a couple improvements, if I’m allowed to say so, given that so many didn’t make it.

One big change was that private and independent investors poured money into cryonics research. What’s cryonics, you ask? Cryonics is the preserving of a human body at low-freezing temperatures. Why would one decide to be frozen, you want to know? Well, let’s say you’re suffering from a medical condition that science isn’t able to cure. You have your body frozen and then thawed in the future, when doctors will know what to do. Sweet, don’t you think? I thought so and I had money enough to invest in the project. Moreover, I signed my body off to undergo the procedure in case I became ill with the 2020 virus and would die of it. Which happened.

Admittedly, those were quite the chaotic times, so I don’t blame Cryonics Ltd. for forgetting my body was under ice for about fifty years – when an undergraduate looking for the restroom got lost in the labyrinthine basement and found me.

The world I was resurrected into was quite different from the one I had died in. I couldn’t keep my enthusiasm at bay. Not only was I cured, I also became a celebrity and got rich again in a matter of days.

In the years I had slept away, science and technology had improved hugely. I felt like a toddler in a candy shop, I wanted to know everything, and everybody indulged me.

I could have paid for this space trip, but it was hardly necessary, as any ad company in the world is willing to pay me a ridiculous amount of money just for the honor of putting my face on their products. Space travel is quite common these days, although still a bit expensive. Not everyone can afford it, but I’m happy to report that life conditions have also improved hugely for the majority of the Earth’s population. There are of course reasons for it, one of them being that the Moon is being colonized at the moment, and those who accept dangerous jobs up there are the ones who wouldn’t fare well on Earth.

Anyway. As I was saying, space travel is quite common. What isn’t that common, though, is time travel.

I am the willing participant in a research study on time travel – it seemed the next logical step to take.

So if you get this message, please reply. It will be corroborating evidence that it works. Thanks!

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

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The Spot Writers – “The Two Bears Bakery” by Phil Yeats

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

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) has published two soft-boiled police detective stories in his Barrettsport Mysteries series. They’re set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community with very quirky citizens. The Amazon link for the more recent one is: https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

“The Two Bears Bakery” by Phil Yeats

“Never have I ever seen anything like this,” the stranger said as she handed him his change. He stopped with his hand on the handle of the exterior door. “Two-hundred-fifty billion dollars of debt we’ll never repay.” He walked away, leaving the door open, and the shop exposed to the blustery spring weather.

Her husband hurried from the tiny office behind their serving counter. He approached the door and wiped the handle with disinfectant before pulling it closed. The restraining spring hung free, another repair to make before returning to his ovens.

Their first day since the loosening of pandemic-related restrictions that forced them to close their little bakery had been successful. She’d sold almost all their loaves of bread and trays of pastries.

Welcome news because the previous night, as he mixed his tubs of dough, he had no idea how many he should make. Would they see hordes of customers or only a few?

“What was that about?” he asked as he settled onto the stool behind the counter. She’d been there since nine and deserved a rest. He’d mind the store until they closed for the night.

“No idea,” she said as she glanced toward the stairway to their apartment above the shop. “A stranger, so what can I say. Same for everyone who entered. None could resist unburdening little corners of their souls.”

“Everyone’s been alone for far too long. They need someone to talk to.”

“So it seems, and they had strange stories to tell.”

She placed her arms around his shoulders after collecting one of their few remaining loaves. “Been a tough day, we’re out of practice. I’ll make some dinner, and then we can relax.”

“But worth it, don’t you think,” he called as she climbed the stairs. “We belong here. Our regulars will return, and we’ll return to normal.”

He meant what he said. They had a hard life, running a mum and pop bakery in a North America overrun with big-box retailers. They’d raised two daughters who were married with children. One would arrive to help her mother in the morning. The second would be in the kitchen baking cakes to order. And their kids would rush about, causing mayhem, and entertaining the customers without forgetting their mandatory face masks and social distancing. They had everything they desired.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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

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What Is Time?

This poem tied for first place in a small group I belong to. Thing is, only two entries were submitted. The idea is to give a “heart” to your favourite entry. Well, with only two of us entering, the other contestant voted for mine and I voted for hers. Not sure either of us can claim a win, ha ha.

This is the image we had to write to.

time

“What Is Time?”

What is time
But passing rhyme,
Breath,
Death.

Illusion of space,
Running the race,
Limbs that move,
In the groove.

A loving embrace,
A lonely chase,
Hearts that beat,
Friends who meet.

Tidal waves,
Stalactites in caves,
Serenading song,
Ding, dong.

Seconds, minutes, hours,
A dream sours,
Sand in the hourglass,
Thru the looking glass.

A new week,
Straining to seek,
Undiscovered days,
A different phase.

Out with the old,
In with the cold,
Shouldering storms,
Until life warms.

Sweating the heat,
Pluralize cheat,
Open your eyes,
Catch the lies.

Stars in the sky,
Moon hanging high,
The setting sun,
Day is done.

Oh, what is time
But passing rhyme,
Hands on the clock,
Tick, tock.

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

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The Spot Writers “Our ‘New Normal'”

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

This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon! As well as MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series.

***

“Our ‘New Normal’” by Cathy MacKenzie

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

Perhaps it was, for:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many “never-had-I-evers”…

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

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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