The Spot Writers – “The Trophy” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. March’s prompt is to use these five words in a story: builder, chance, trophy, glory, unexpected.

Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Her one-woman publishing company, MacKenzie Publishing, has a submissions call for stories for an upcoming anthology titled TWO EYES OPEN, which call ends March 31, 2017. The theme: thriller, mystery, horror. Check out MacKenzie Publishing’s website for further particulars. www.mackenziepublishing.wordpress.com

***

“The Trophy” by Cathy MacKenzie

Pete stared at the unexpected snow piled outside the window of his front-room office. The wind had abated, leaving huge drifts. Could he even open the door? Although he detested winter, he’d take a chance at the snow, which was preferable to staring at a blank screen—though both were glaring white canvases, daring him to choose: write or shovel.

Once a builder, Pete had aspired for his own construction company but had given up on that dream.  The glory he sought would surely come when he wrote a Pulitzer-prize winning novel, but that dream had never materialized either. Suddenly, he was left with nothing: no job, no novel.

Even his wife had left him. “You’re too much a dreamer,” she had screamed before slamming the door in his face.” Later, he laughed. Good thing you had an escape. His belly would have hurt even more watching her fat butt waddling through a tunnel of packed snow, which had been the case the previous year when there’d been so much snow they’d only been able to access the side door. And even then, it had been a literal tunnel. Truth be known, he was glad she left because, by leaving first, she had voided the pre-nup they’d signed several years previously. Not that he had anything to give her in a settlement.

When he stepped outside, he found the snow to be light and fluffy. The newscaster had forecast colder temps, so the snow would harden overnight, but he’d worry about that later. For now, he needed a drink.

He ambled to the local bar, a place he frequented often. The guys there knew him. No one admonished him. No one nagged. No one made him feel guilty. Yes, he was glad for the umpteenth time that Alice had left. And of her own free will, too. He was one lucky man!

He and Joe commiserated while they drank. Joe, on marriage number four, had one too many whiskeys while Pete consumed several beer.

A shadow covered Pete before he realized the room had darkened. Joe, in his stupor, was oblivious to the change.

A voice bellowed. “What are you doing?”

Pete looked up. Alice. “What are you doing here? This is a men’s establishment.”

“You’re my husband. I have a right to be here.”

“No, you don’t. You left, remember?”

Alice held firm. “And now I’m back. Like Arnold.”

“Arnold?”

“Schwarzenegger. The actor. The governor of California?”

“Right. Him. Yeah.”

“Come home now, Pete.”

“I need another drink.” Pete slammed down the empty beer can, motioned to the bartender for another, and eyed his friend. “Joe, you awake?”

Joe tilted his half-empty glass on the counter. “What do you want?”

“Are you awake?”Pete repeated.

“Of course I’m awake. I’m here, aren’t I?”

“And Alice is here, too.”

Joe glanced at Pete and then at the hovering figure. “Hey, Alice. How’re you?”

“Fine, Joe. You?”

“All’s good.” Joe slugged another mouthful. “Yeah, all’s good.” He stared at Alice a moment before speaking. “So, what’s this I hear? You left Pete?”

“No, I did not leave Pete.”

“Pete said you did. He’s been gloating about his freedom.”

“Oh, you don’t say. Pete? What say you?”

Pete gripped his beer. “Hmmm?”

“Come on, Pete. Time to go home,” Alice said.

Joe giggled. “Pete, you have a trophy. Hold it high.”

Pete frowned.  “Trophy? Alice?”

“Alice is a trophy, yes. She’s twenty years younger than you. Isn’t that a trophy bride?” Joe snickered.

Pete stared at his drink. Trophy? He didn’t think so. But he hadn’t much success at a job or a novel or…nothing. Yeah, he’d better grab a trophy—any trophy—while he could, even if she did have a fat butt. “Alice, sweet. So good to see you.” Was that enough? “I’m sorry. I appreciate you so much. Let’s go home.”

Alice smiled and latched to his arm. “Come on. Home it is. Snow is in the forecast. You may have to shovel in the morning.”

***

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/

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

TWO EYES OPEN!

Two Eyes Open FB

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! Submit your stories!

DEADLINE MARCH 31

MacKenzie Publishing is accepting fiction submissions for its second anthology, stories for 18+, titled TWO EYES OPEN (horror, suspense, thriller, mystery, etc.).

Submission deadline: March 31, 2017

Payment: $10 Canadian per story, paid via Paypal

Word count: 2,500 to 5,000 words
Publication date: August 1, 2017

MacKenzie Publishing does not accept material that has been published previously, either online or in print. By submitting to MacKenzie Publishing, you are assuring you hold the rights to the work and grant MacKenzie Publishing the right to publish the submitted work. MacKenzie Publishing will require exclusive rights to the stories until December 31, 2017.

To Submit:
Paste info and document in the body of an email (no attachments) in this order:
-Title of story, your name, email, word count
-Story
-Bio (up to 150 words)

Email stories to MacKenzie Publishing at: TwoEyesOpenAnthology@gmail.com

Put the title of your submission in the subject line.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “Toddler Glory” by Val Muller

Welcome to March! This month’s Spot Writers’ prompt is to use the following words in a story: builder, chance, trophy, glory, unexpected. This month’s post comes to us from Val Muller, author of the YA novel The Man with the Crystal Ankh, a story about the power of music to tap into our subconscious side—even if it means opening our mind to the supernatural.

This month’s story, however, is inspired by a toddler, who came to mind immediately with this particular combination of words.

***

Toddler Glory by Val Muller

There’s Mom. Sitting at the This-Is-Not-For-Babies again. Tap. Tap. Tap. Those keys are so cool when Mom presses them. She’s so fast. They sound like this: TapTapTapTap. TapTapTapTapTapTappedy Tap.

They make an even funnier noise when I press them because Mom screams in between each tap. Like this: Tap. This. Is. Not. For. Babies. Tap. Tap. Tap. WaitINeedToSave! Tap. Tap. NoUndoUndoUndo! Tap. Tap. Tap. NotWithStickyHands! Tap.

See, I have to pause in between each tap for dramatic effect.

And then I usually get placed on the carpet with some crunchy snacks. Crunch. Crunch. They make a funner sound than the keys, so I eat them for a while.

But only just a while.

Because Mom is back at the This-Is-Not-For-Babies.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Mom keeps eyeing me, like she knows what I’m thinking. I have to throw her off guard, so I pick up my Mega Blocks. I squeal and smack the blocks against each other. Then I stick two together. Mom smiles. “Good job, my lil builder,” she says.

Motor skills. They always manage to impress parents.

We make eye contact. The room is all smiles.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Her guard is down. Now is my chance. Going on two feet is suspicious, so I crawl a little bit, then sit down again. Mom raises an eyebrow. I smile and coo. I’m still holding the MegaBlock sculpture. I wave it in the air like a trophy. Nothing to see here, Mom. Nothing to see here.

She lowers her guard. Something in the other room attracts her attention, an unexpected ringing. I like the sound, but I like an unguarded This-Is-Not-For-Babies even better.

I toddle to Mommy’s table and pick up the glowy mouse that Daddy taught me how to use. Daddy is always so proud when I learn to use technology. Glowy mouse has its own sound: Click. Click. Click. The screen changes with each Click, and I squeal. Click. Boring. Click. Boring. Click. Finally, there it is. The red and white picture. Daddy calls it the “YouTube.” Mommy calls it the “Not now.”

I click click click until I see her. My hero. My love. Now I push some keys. Tap. Tap. Tap. And she starts singing.

Peppa Pig.

The familiar bars of her theme song come on just as Mommy re-enters the room. She takes one look at me and shakes her head. But it’s okay because she’s smiling. She’s smiling because she knows:

The This-Is-Not-For-Babies is for babies after all. Just like Peppa Pig. And just like everything else.

And that’s why the room is all smiles.

***

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/

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “The Language Addict” by CaraMarie Christy

Welcome to the Spot Writers! This February’s prompt: Pick up the two books closest to you (a mandarin textbook and A Court of Mist and Fury). For the first book: copy the first 3 words of the book. This is how your story will start. For the second book: copy the last 3 words of the book. This is how your story will end. Fill in the middle. As an added challenge, turn to a random page in each book. Choose the most interesting word on each of those pages. Include those 2 words in your story. Interesting words from these: humanities and wrath.

This week’s post comes from CaraMarie Christy, the young-un of Spot Writers. Visit her blog on Word Press at Calamariwriting and check out her book from when she was twelve, Fairies Fly. Bonus points if you ask her about her book photography.

***

The Language Addict

Essential phrases: Hello. That’s it. A one word list of everything I need to remember to make people like me. The only thing you ever need, in any language, is that one word. My mind whirs, as only an old woman’s can, with thoughts, ones from the past cluttering the new ones, popping behind my eyes as I consider what to do to entertain myself. I’ve got four more hours left on this flight. Hanging into the third-row aisle, I have a nice expansive view of my companion choices. That’s all us old women ever think about anyway: who to talk to. There’s the couple arguing in Dutch at the back of the plane, the French flight attendant that keeps narrowly avoiding my elbow, and the man in the black coat sitting suspiciously next to the exit. But my eyes have been especially wondering toward the woman across the aisle from me. Her eyes are dark and there’s a faintly square shape to her chin. I want to ask her in… No.

Because if I reach across this aisle, and assault this woman with a two-week’s course of her supposed native tongue, it would be an invasion of her space, much more than a simple smile and the phrase “guten tag!”. And if she doesn’t speak German, then she can smile, nod, and go on reading the book in her hand. And if she does speak German… Bam. Friend. But for her, this could be a connecting flight to lord-only-knows where. Or she could be a tourist like me, which would be just as swell as a real German. Even if she is a German citizen, only 78% of Germans natively speak German. She could be an immigrant. And that will get us nowhere.

In the pleather seat in front of me, there is a sewn pocket overflowing with textbooks. I’ve stuffed them there. The wrath of the young gentleman to my right, when earlier I elbowed him six times while trying to flip through every page for how to say “spinach” (turns out it was just “spinat”), was enough to set me straight. Read like a chicken and be glared at or keep my arms to my side. I chose to keep him happy. I’d be interested in his language, but his flippant way of sneering at my books and penny loafers made it abundantly clear–American. Definitely. I don’t know why, having lived and worked in U.S. elementary education all my life that now, in retirement, I’ve grown to dislike “American”. I’ve got a taste for other types of humanities now, other ways of speaking. They seem much more fun.

The thought chills me and I want to edge away from this young man. I scoot further into the aisle, my hip gouging into the arm rest. It’s the woman on the left who is interesting. There’s a world of possibilities with her.

English, French, Chinese, Spanish… She could speak one of them. The big guns. The chances of that were high. And I knew plenty of words from the big languages.

I’ve convinced myself of it, when I find myself leaning across the aisle, smile pasted on, and give her a good, “Guten tag! Sprechen sie deutsch?”

WRONG. Three words too many come out and I can feel my ego soaring while the rest of me, the part of me that knows how to weave around a social interaction, comes crashing around my ears.

“Eh, sorry…” Laughs the woman. Her eyes twinkle and she never loses her smile as she says, “Ah… Español?”

Yes. A big gun. One of the biggest. Three weeks with Mr. Harviar at Northern Virginia’s Sterling community college. I know this one. The old and new thoughts collide. In my attempt to find something, anything to say… I pull out the first phrase that comes to mine. I can’t hear Mr. Harviar saying it in my head. Instead, it sounds like a little Hispanic girl selling soft and hard tacos.

Porque no los dos?”

My ego crashes down to the floor, where the rest of me had been scattered. The woman forces a laugh at the old, overused joke, then makes a point to ignore me, leaning back in her chair, reading a novel that I can’t even translate the cover of. I slink back into my own seat, scooting toward the right, to remove myself completely from teetering into the aisle, then pull out an Amazon catalogue from the pocket in front of me. The American man’s eyes are on my neck, as I ignore my travel guides and my books.

***

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/

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “A Road of Anthracite” by Dorothy Colinco

Welcome to the Spot Writers, bringing you a weekly dose of flash fiction. Today’s prompt involves a bit of fun: Pick up the two books closest to you. For the first book: copy the first 3 words of the book. This is how your story will start. For the second book: copy the last 3 words of the book. This is how your story will end. Fill in the middle. As an added challenge, turn to a random page in each book. Choose the most interesting word on each of those pages. Include those 2 words in your story.

This week’s story comes from Dorothy Colinco. Check out her blog for fiction, books reviews, and book news.

***

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – First three words: It was 7; Bonus word: Wellington

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk – Last three words: road of anthracite; Bonus word: transatlantic

***

A Road of Anthracite by Dorothy Colinco

It was 7 years after that first meeting that we spoke again. The first time was initiated by me, but chance had its hand in our second meeting.

In the moments when I thought about my good fortune, the bounty of my life, I was sometimes checked by a sudden realization, a miscalculation of the good and the bad, and I’d remember, “Oh yes, I have a brother who has rejected my very existence,” and I would read a doorstop of a novel or paint or review the taxes of the small business whom I worked for until I no longer remembered.

I remember walking along 7th Avenue, perfectly content in this city that was supposedly overdone and stale and gentrified and no longer the center of the universe, though it still was to me. I was headed to the restaurant, the one he suggested after I requested a meeting. I didn’t have to explain who I was. He must have known by my name on social media, but even without that, my picture gave him clues The end of my nose, my hooded eyelids, the fullness of my top lip.

I remember reading the menu posted outside the restaurant, entrees I had never hear of at the time – beef wellington, niçois salad, escargot. I was about to give the hostess my name when I saw him at a small table in the corner of the room. I had never seen him before, but I too had clues: his hairline, the arch of his brows, his cheekbones, so like my own. The resemblance to a face that was forever lost to me hurt.

As I sat down, he looked up, and I thought I saw him startle as he too registered the resemblance before he took on a neutral air.

He reached into his briefcase and took out a checkbook.

“How much do you need?”

“What? I don’t – That’s not what I-” I stared at the pen hovering above the table. “That’s not what I wanted.”

He seemed confused, and then, irritated.

“What, then?”

I suppose I wanted to tell him that I was angry at being rejected for no reason, that I was sad about our father passing, that I was again angry that I’d been deprived of someone who had access to memories of him. But at 23, I didn’t know all those things, or at least I didn’t know how to say them out loud.

And so I left. I didn’t want his money. I didn’t even need it. I was doing very well for myself. My modest flat was exactly that, but it was also paid for each month, on time.

I was 30 when we met again. This time, I was not a discarded half-sibling licking the wounds of rejection but an accountant at a law firm who published short stories in little-known magazines in her spare time. I had moved into a different but still modest flat, and my tendency toward everyday simplicity afforded my occasional luxuries, like the transatlantic cruise we had unknowingly both booked; I was with my close friend, and he was with his wife. It was at the piano bar that we found each other. My friend Claire had found a beau on the ship who invited her to dinner, so I sat alone at the bar while listening to Piano Man. In another setting, it may have been too on the nose, but floating on the Atlantic Ocean with strangers whom I’d see for another 7 days, it was pitch perfect.

It was then that the bartender brought over a drink paid for by “the gentleman over there.” I almost waved it away, but I noticed a tilt of the head that was not unfamiliar, the bar lights glinting off cheekbones that were like the ones I brushed highlighting powder on earlier that evening.

I didn’t touch the drink for a while. Condensation was slipping off the glass when I finally picked it up and brought it to my lips. It was bitter, with an underlying current of something sweet and bright, like citrus.

I couldn’t discern what this drink was – an olive branch? A bridge? A door, perhaps, opened after being shut forcibly and for so long.

As I stood and moved toward the seat across him, I decided it was a road, though not an easy or pretty one. It was rough and hard and unforgiving. It was still a road, though it was a road of anthracite.

***

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/

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Call for Submissions – “Two Eyes Open”

Submissions Call: TWO EYES OPEN
MacKenzie Publishing is accepting fiction submissions for its second anthology, stories for 18+, titled TWO EYES OPEN (horror, suspense, thriller, mystery, etc.).
Submission deadline: March 31, 2017, or when anthology is full
Payment: $10 Canadian per story, paid via Paypal
Word count: 2,500 to 5,000 words
Publication date: August 1, 2017
MacKenzie Publishing does not accept material which has been published previously, either online or in print. By submitting to MacKenzie Publishing, you are assuring you hold the rights to the work and are granting MacKenzie Publishing the right to publish the submitted work. MacKenzie Publishing will require exclusive rights to the stories until December 31, 2017.
To Submit:
Paste info and document in the body of an email (no attachments) in this order:
-Title of story, your name, email, word count
-Story
-Bio (up to 150 words)
Email stories to MacKenzie Publishing at: TwoEyesOpenAnthology@gmail.com
Put the title of your submission in the subject line.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “Festival of the Matches” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers, bringing you a weekly dose of flash fiction. Today’s prompt involves a bit of fun: Pick up the two books closest to you. For the first book: copy the first 3 words of the book. This is how your story will start. For the second book: copy the last 3 words of the book. This is how your story will end. Fill in the middle. As an added challenge, turn to a random page in each book. Choose the most interesting word on each of those pages. Include those 2 words in your story.

Today’s tale comes from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter, The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and the Corgi Capers mystery series.

Note: My first book happened to be Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, so my opening is “On an evening…” My second book is The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, so my closing is “…had a price.” My random words are “vexation” and “cabinetmaker.”

Festival of the Matches

By Val Muller

On an evening in May, the last evening in May, the sounding of the bell summoned Erin to the town square. She left home bedecked in white, the flowing white dress her mother had been making for the past year, little by little, as time allowed. Her bare feet padded along the dirt path, and she adjusted her crown of flowers, the one young Ella had made her yesterday.

Little Ella, only five, her eyes so full of dreams as she wove the daffodils and daisies and counted the days and months and years until her own Festival. Little Ella, only five, her eyes still full of hope. Erin looked back, only once, to see Ella standing there, mum’s arm around her, gazing longingly at Erin. At the fork, Erin joined three others on the path. The quartet fell into step, their white dresses sweeping the packed dirt.

The evening’s festivities would decide her fate. It seemed so strange, for so much to rest on a single evening. But this was the way. This had always been the way. Besides, the Matchmaker was never wrong, was she?

Erin padded heavily, trying to hide her breathing. She had to remember to stay calm. Confident. Sweating was a bad sign. She wanted the Matchmaker to see her for who she was. For the Choosing. It wouldn’t be long now, just over the bend.

There.

Another line of young women joined them at the town square, forming a group of seven.

Seven. A lucky number.

On the other side of the square, dressed in white tunics and white shorts, stood the seven young men from the neighboring villages. They all looked the same, a blur of nerves and hair and skin starting to bronze from May’s early sun. As tradition demanded, they joined the women and formed a circle around the well, where the Matchmaker, bedecked in capes and robes and flowers, sat in the wicker throne that had been erected the day before.

She clapped her hands, and behind her, the musicians filed in, taking their places around the gathering and struck up a melody. It was hopeful and sad and excited and worried. The melody held all the emotions Erin tried to keep inside on this day of her Festival. Its melody climbed with the hopes of the future and fell with the pain of nostalgia.

She curtsied, and on the other side of the well, the seven young men bowed. Relying on muscle memory, Erin fell into the Dance of Choosing the way she’d been practicing. She focused on their eyes. Her mother said the eyes told all.

Some were dim, some nervous. But one. They sparkled like the stars, they glowed like the sun, they held the mystery of the moon. It was everything mother told her to look for.

He was the one.

The Matchmaker would know.

When they danced together, when their hands touched, his skin set hers afire. She’d seen him before, now that she thought of it. He was the blacksmith’s son. He’d shoed the family’s horse once or twice. He was strong and kind and…beautiful.

Erin glanced at the Matchmaker to make sure she knew, but she was looking away, clapping to the music and smiling at the musicians. Maybe she knew already. Maybe that’s why she wasn’t looking.

The partners changed, and she curtsied to the next young man, a nervous chap. Erin focused on her breathing. In. Out. Just breathe. The Matchmaker had to know, right? She’d matched mother and father, after all. And they seemed happy together. Most of the time, anyway. Except the days when mother seemed so full of vexation that she left for long walks hours at a time. Long walks Erin followed her on once or twice, long walks that ended at the riverbank at a picnic lunch with the miller from the next village.

A picnic Erin left them alone to finish.

But still, the Matchmaker knew.

And so when the festivities drew to a close and it was time for her to announce partners, Erin held her breath. Everyone from the village arrived, all holding torches and candles and flasks of wine for the celebration after the weddings.

When her turn came, the Matchmaker took Erin’s hand and presented her to the crowd. “And this young woman will find her true happiness with…”

The blacksmith, Erin thought. The blacksmith. The blacksmith. Across the flickering torches, his eyes met hers. He stepped forward even before the Matchmaker made her announcement.

“With the cabinetmaker.”

Two hearts sank, and the cabinetmaker’s son smiled and stepped forward to claim his bride. Erin shuddered as she took his hand, her eyes locked with the blacksmith’s. With those eyes that reflected summer evenings and skies ignited by stars and love and hope and the future.

And then she looked away, to the eyes of the cabinetmaker, now her fiancé.

Her mother held up a picnic basket full of celebratory wine and snacks she would serve Erin and her new husband right after the wedding. The music swelled as the ceremony drew to a close, and the couples stood at the town center for the group wedding ceremony. It was a happy but efficient affair. The seven eligible couples from the four surrounding towns would now be wed without incident and become productive members of their respective towns.

Erin looked up at the stars for the last time as a single girl. Then she took the hand of her husband as the ceremony ended and reached for a glass of wine. Efficiency had a price.

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/

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Spotwriters – “A Wait with Gabriel” by CaraMarie Christy

Welcome to the Spot Writers. We’ve all been waiting for 2017 to start and now it has! Waiting is rarely the most fun topic to cover, but for this prompt, we have to write a scene/story that’s whole premise is around waiting in a line. And try to make it as interesting as possible.

This week’s post comes from CaraMarie Christy, the young-un of Spot Writers. Visit her blog on Word Press at Calamariwriting and check out her book from when she was twelve, Fairies Fly. Bonus points if you ask her about her book photography.

***

A Wait with Gabriel

This didn’t look like the bank. It had to be the bank, because she had parked her 2001 Civic outside of a bank, but as Melanie Court had walked through the familiar squeaky double doors, something felt different. The fluid in her stomach swirled and her head ached till she was sure that she was fainting, dropping like a rock toward the ground. When her vision cleared and her headache eased, there was something different about the room she was looking in at. Her TD Bank, in Melderstown, MA, a town where bank tycoons knew they didn’t have to spend much money facilities, was a gray place, with motheaten chair and rusty chandeliers. This bank felt so much bigger, but no… It couldn’t be a new one. Someone would have gossiped her ear off about the jobs brought in by the construction. It was just somehow… incredibly renovated since her last visit. Now her bank was decadent, covered in gold trimming and mahogany booths.

And the line.

She was about to head back to her car, when she saw the number of people leaning against the tills and plucking at the red velvet ropes meant to section off one line from the next. They were packed in, almost side by side, but no one seemed to be looking at one another. They all just stared at their hands, some with theirs clasped in front of them, almost as if in prayer, and Melanie felt awkward being the only one staring, so she looked down at her own, chipped pink paint nails.

They were such a wreck, that she dared to look up at the lines again. A young man, in a pressed suit with deep amber skin and a winning smile, was making his way up and down every line, with a small tray. It seemed awfully too small, Melanie thought, for the number of coffees he was managing to give away. Almost no one refused him, and he gave the young boy that did a different cup, with darker liquid, and a big smile. After a few rounds, he stopped at Melanie.

“Coffee?” His smile might have been the most beautiful she had ever seen. “Bit of a wait to get through without coffee.” Her tongue went numb and she couldn’t form words, so she blushed, and tucked away a gray strand of hair. “I could get you some cocoa if that is more your taste? Or wine. Definitely no shortage of wine around here.”

Wine at a bank? Just before she was supposed to drive home? As uneasy as she felt by the offer, Melanie’s chest felt warm and comfortable in line. She was in no rush and had already moved up three people. It would be waste to leave now.

She held out an apologetic hand for the coffee he had offered. “I guess I haven’t been to TD in a while. Didn’t know it got this busy.”

“TD…? Aw! TD Bank?” The man closed his eyes. She could see them roaming gently beneath his lids, like he was searching for something. Then he opened them with a smile even more dazzling than his last. “They really should have fixed the bricks holding up their sign. It was a real shame. Not many people don’t see it hitting them like that. Maybe a shame and a blessing though. A blame? No, that’s already a word… how about… a shessing? Whatever it is, I’m glad you’re not nervous.”

It didn’t matter that he spoke strangely, Melanie decided, or used “they” instead of “we”. This man was dazzling. Whoever made the dimples in his cheeks was a genius. She had made great progress in the line while he was occupying her. She wanted to wrap her arm around his and hold on to him for a while, she would probably never get a chance to speak to such a handsome young man again. Not at her age. They would reassign him to a different bank soon, for sure, somewhere more crowded. Melderstown was never really like this. Today had to be some mistake.

“When did your sign break? Are they going to make you fix it?” No, they would give that job to someone else. Tom down the street or someone from Larry’s construction. This man, in his white shirt and flawless dark skin, was too clean-cut to be outside. He was a jewel and needed to be locked up in a treasure trove. Melanie blushed again.

He half-smiled at her. “I’d guess it broke half a second before you stepped through our doors. And me? No, I’ll stay here. My name is Gabriel, I just like helping around this place. Especially the dog room.”

More people had filed in through the doors. Gabriel flashed her one last smile before he gestured with his free hand for her to look forward. They had slowly walked so far, and talked so long, that she had made it to the front of her line, stepping up to the woman at the till without thinking about it. The young woman was almost as beautiful as Gabriel. She looked Melanie up and down with a stern, icy gaze.

“Go up the staircase to the left behind me and pass through the gates at the top.” The woman opened the door to her booth and Melanie was sure she shouldn’t be allowed in such a high security area. This was where all the money was kept! And other people were stepping back too. The woman pressed her, “You can head up now, Mrs. Court.”

Mrs. Court did what she was told. When she was halfway up the stairs, she stole a look back at the bank, and could have sworn that the man in the suit, carrying the silver tray, had bright, feathery wings on his back.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “Promissory” by Dorothy Colinco

Welcome to the Spot Writers, bringing you your weekly dose of flash fiction. This month’s prompt is to write about waiting in line, making it as interesting as possible.

This week’s story comes from Dorothy Colinco. Check out her blog for fiction, books reviews, and book news.

***

Promissory by Dorothy Colinco

She pretended not to feel the eyes that were examining every inch of her. She could feel their gaze on her slightly scuffed shoes and no longer white-bright but still neatly-folded socks. She remembered the fraying hem in the back of her skirt toward her left side. Before she could stop it, her right hand flew to her left elbow, feeling for rough bumps but instead feeling smooth skin, thankful that she remembered to put lotion on this morning.

Most of them tried not to gape and whisper, though she almost wished they would so she would have some reason to feel the righteous indignation she felt. Some stared with dreadful pity in their eyes. She couldn’t blame them — of course they were curious. This was the line for students who couldn’t take final exams because they hadn’t paid tuition or book fees.

Why was she standing here? If she had been in their shoes, wouldn’t she gape as well?

It was natural to wonder why the daughter of the founder of the very school they attended had to, one, pay tuition in the first place, and two, miss exams because she couldn’t afford it. It was unjust, yes, but mainly bizarre. She was the main attraction in this circus of an act in which students were summoned in the middle of taking an exam to stand in a long line of shame. It was all too third world. If she were back in the States, teachers would be severely reprimanded for mentioning that she had free lunch provided by taxpayers.

They were to either bring a check to the registrar or sign a promissory note. “I promise to pay X amount on X date.” Her classmates joked about that English word. “Promissory – it means I PROMISE I’ll pay; Sorry!” She didn’t even have a check to fidget with for the benefit of her peers.

Through most of this, she held her head high, intently studying the health advisory poster on the wall covered in a sheet of protective plastic.

Some of her peers couldn’t filter their reactions. “You have to pay?” What was worse were the reactions of the ones coming to her rescue. “She’s just like one of us.” What they meant was that she was down-to-earth, that she didn’t see herself as above them. But what she heard was an indictment. She heard that she was a fraud, carrying the founder’s name but not having the bank account to back it up.

The first time this happened, she thought it was a clerical error. Surely someone would catch it, or at least after she waited had waited in that excruciating line, they would see her and say, in a slightly panicked voice, “Oh, what happened? You weren’t supposed to be on the list!”

But when her turn came that first time, because she always waited her turn, never using her name to cut corners, skip lines, or —apparently— avoid paying tuition, the registrar saw her and, with a veiled expression, asked her to sign a promissory note, never once making eye contact.

That first day, she waited until she was home to start crying from shame and embarrassment, begging her Nanna to please pay her tuition on time. “Rice comes before tuition, Anak.” That word of endearment for a young child made her think of her father, a great man, rich in character and virtue but poor in silver. He had chosen a Spartan life for himself and, consequently, for his children.

After the promissory note was signed, the pink copy for her Nanna stuffed into her pocket before, she hoped, her peers could see, she made her way out of the registrar’s office, walking past everyone else still in line. She was careful not to run, but she still walked quickly to avoid having to stop and talk to anyone. She arrived back at her desk, where several of her classmates raised their heads before focusing their attention back on the exam.

She took her pencil and picked up where she left off. Now that her eyes were on her paper, she felt other classmates steal one last look at the founder’s daughter, back from delaying the payment of a debt.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “Long Lines” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. We’ve all been waiting for the New Year, which is now upon us. And waiting is rarely the most fun topic to cover. For this prompt, we have to write a scene/story that’s whole premise is around waiting in a line.

Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her anthology, OUT OF THE CAVE, horror stories for 13+. Great for youth AND adults. Twenty-one stories by twenty-one authors. Available on Amazon and Smashwords. Makes a GREAT gift!

https://www.amazon.com/Out-Cave-stories-Stephen-Millard-ebook/dp/B01ICAWBVU/

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/648922

***

Long Lines

My feet are killing me. I eye the line ahead of me that is so long I’m not sure how I’ll stand it—to use a pun, haha! Everyone leans against overflowing carts while I hold three small items in one hand. Surely everyone can see I’m without a basket or a cart. Isn’t there one Good Samaritan who will let me in?

It’s a new year, too. Has everyone’s joy and happiness and do-good-unto-others mantra vanished already? You’ve barely finished your turkey, I want to scream, but I don’t because I’m not the type of person who desires limelight—especially not bad limelight!

I live in obscurity. I didn’t even have to wonder, like those preoccupied posters on Facebook, how to defrost a 24-pound beast of fowl. Why would I cook a turkey for one? I don’t need a week’s worth of leftovers, except in my case leftovers would have equated to a month’s worth. I reconsider—no, the turkey would have lasted a couple of days at most. I would have trashed the turkey after two meals.

I shift, moving left to right, right to left. I rise on my tiptoes. Wiggle my toes. I take a quarter step forward, one inch backward. I brush against someone’s arm and bump another person’s boot, but they ignore me. My back kinks. One leg cramps. We’re barely moving toward destiny: the cash register.

Christmas is over. Why’s everyone shopping? Ah yes, gift certificates and gifts of cash are ablaze in their britches. Or they’re replacing abhorred gifts with items they’d much prefer.

Me, I received no gifts. Nary a one, but that has advantages. If I don’t receive, I don’t give. Life’s sometimes easier when you’re alone. You can do what you want, live as you like.

I get lonely often, though, and that’s when I head to the local Walmart and stand in line at the busiest times of the day. I enjoy people-watching. I also like to complain, but who can I complain to if I’m sitting home alone?

Of course, I’m not talking to these jokers, complaining or otherwise. It’s simply fun to pretend I know them, that I belong, that people are kinder than they look. To satisfy my gripes, I’ll purchase an object, mar it, and then march to Customer Service and let loose!

“Ma’am, I see you only have a couple of items. Would you like to go ahead?”

I catch my breath. What’s that? Someone talking to me? I focus on the male before me and then eye the chocolate bar, notepad, and pen I’m clutching. Would have been cheaper—and faster—had I gone to Buck Branch, but it’s not as busy as Walmart. Not nearly a bit.

I smile. “Thank you so much, kind sir.” He’s alone. I glimpse his naked left ring finger—that supposed declaration of eternal love—not that a ring-less finger means much nowadays. But you never know. After I manoeuver in front of him, I pat him on the arm and ask, “And how are you today?”

***

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/

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized