A Weepy Couple of Days

So, I had too much vino yesterday. Not that it affects me THAT much. But I wrote this (untitled) poem while under the influence:

 

It’s a never-ending day of tears.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day.

 

I clutch my glass of wine,

Afraid someone will steal it.

 

But I’m alone.

 

The elusive sun beats down on me.

I should have applied sunblock

But today is the second day of summer

As far as temps go,

Surely one day—or two—won’t hurt.

 

I replenish my glass.

The wine soothes my throat

And my soul.

 

I lean back,

Absorbing the sun,

Trying to ignore the empty space.

 

We arranged the chairs last week

Around the bubbling pool,

I moved one away from the spot

Where he used to recline.

 

He loved the sun,

Loved the peace and quiet

That was so elusive his last few months.

 

My eyes can’t help but dart there

As much as I don’t want to see,

But maybe if I look

I’ll see him,

Maybe it’s all a nightmare in my head

And maybe he’s still here.

 

No…

 

I look:

The space is empty.

Yet, if I look and imagine,

I can see him:

His body stretched on the lounger,

His head leaning back

Enjoying the sun and his thoughts—

 

No!

I’m taken to the past

To another sight:

Him in his coffin,

Stretched out,

His head back.

 

It didn’t look like him.

His colour was off,

His neck—

I’ll never forget that neck.

Too thick.

Not him.

 

And his eyes—

No…shouldn’t be closed.

 

I couldn’t cry that day.

I wanted to.

I should have, right?

That was my son in the burnished rented coffin—

Couldn’t buy real. Why?

Not with cremation the next step.

 

No, I couldn’t cry that day

Despite the slideshow of

His past and present.

No future—

But I couldn’t cry.

 

People cried around me.

I was surrounded by tears.

None were mine.

 

I couldn’t even force myself to cry.

Tears were hidden. I had to be strong.

I WAS strong.

 

For that one day.

 

But I should have been weeping

And screaming

And shrieking.

 

He was my son.

I should have cried.

 

I should have draped myself over his casket and never let go.

 

I should have cried.

 

I didn’t.

 

But ever since that day,

I’ve cried.

 

I have to be strong.

But why?

 

I’m not strong.

I’m weak and helpless.

I want my son.

 

Every passing day makes life harder.

There’s little signs.

Not much.

Nothing I believe in.

 

I held my wine glass in the sun today.

The sun blinded me

Despite my sunglasses.

 

I thought I saw a dragonfly.

I thought I saw a sign.

 

No, it was only a mirage:

Him sitting in the recliner.

 

A distant memory.

 

Tomorrow is Father’s Day.

 

I think of him

 

And my father.

 

I think of my mother.

I think of all those who’ve passed.

I can’t stop shedding tears.

+++

I’m sober now (somewhat!). Kidding! I am. I don’t drink as much as I let on. (Or do I? Does it matter?)

So, today is Father’s Day.

On Facebook, I posted “Happy Day” to my son-in-law and my son, along with my deceased son. I do that every year. The three are (my deceased son was) great fathers. The best. I love them all.

my three boys crop

 

My father, too (another post for him). A great man. Not too communicative, but us five kids could always count on him. It’s been twenty-one Father’s Days that he’s been gone. Where have twenty-one years gone?

 

And where have the last three Father’s Days gone without my son here to celebrate? His poor children. I can’t imagine their pain.

So, I’m signing off.

Happy Father’s Day to all the world’s fathers.

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The Spot Writers – “Promise” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week’s prompt is “a cat always stares at something behind its owner’s back. What does it see?” Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of The Girl Who Flew Away (https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Flew-Away/dp/1941295355) and lots of other works for children and young adults.

***

Promise by Val Muller

Meowser always ignored me. Always used to, anyway. He had his own existence, and I had mine. I kept him fed, he kept me company. That was the deal, until my sister was able to take him home again.

Ellie was off for a three-year stint in Italy. Her husband was put on temporary duty there. Rehoming the cat, with all the required paperwork, quarantines, and the like, wasn’t up her alley, so she pushed the cat onto me.

I always pictured myself as a dog person, if I had a pet, that is. I mean, if I had one of my own. But here I was, just out of college. I couldn’t even keep a girlfriend for more than a month.

Ellie handed Meowser over right before she left. “He won’t be any trouble,” she said. “I promise.”

Ellie didn’t say goodbye to Meowser. That always struck me. I guess she didn’t want to cry about it. No need to make goodbyes more sentimental than they need to be. We fell into our ways, Meowser and I. Ellie couldn’t get back at Thanksgiving, so I sent her a picture of the cat sitting on the coffee table eyeing the ample feast. Ellie always got a kick out of things like that. She liked coming up with captions that assigned all kinds of human thoughts to the cat. I probably sent her a picture once a week or so. She posted them on Facebook, too, as if the cat still lived with her.

To me, though, a cat is just a cat. Meowser couldn’t care less about me except when it was feeding time, or if I got lazy cleaning out the litter box.

Ellie made it back during Christmas. Steve flew home to Minnesota, and she flew in to BWI to visit us. She stayed at my place, not Mom and Dad’s, and we all knew it was for Meowser. I don’t really buy the whole animals-have-emotions thing. Didn’t, anyway. But as soon as he saw Ellie, Meowser was a different cat. It wasn’t just that the two were inseparable. They anticipated each other. Meowser would hop off her lap ten seconds before she finished eating. When she’d get up for a glass of water, Meowser was already waiting at the kitchen counter. He was there when she went to the bathroom, to the door, to the couch. At the time, I told myself they were both just really good at reading body language.

Meowser turned psycho the morning Ellie left for Italy again, right after New Year’s. He hissed at shadows in the hallway. He clawed my face—I’ll bear his mark for life, three slashes on my right cheek. And he even bit Ellie. She cried, then, looking at Meowser like he’d betrayed her. Something in Meowser—a look, a feeling—made Elli’s face flush with guilt. “I’ll be back, Meowser. I promise, promise. I’ll come back for you.”

She pressed her forehead to his and paused for several moments. The cat seemed to calm. Then he went about his way, not bothering to watch as she left the apartment. Her promise had calmed him. We lived on, the two of us, for three more months of him ignoring me and me feeding him, waiting until Ellie could take him again.

It wasn’t until last night that Meowser stopped ignoring me. He was sitting on my chest when I woke up. I can’t tell you the adrenaline spike caused by the penetrating green eyes of a cat. Only they weren’t penetrating me. No, they were focused behind me, like on my pillow. Fixated. A focused stare and a blank stare all at once.

I knocked him off me and padded to the kitchen to feed him. But the usual tinkle of food into his dish had no impact. He sat instead on the counter, staring right behind me. We sat there until dawn, him freaking me out and staring and me being freaked out and staring back.

When the sun rose, I left the kitchen to get dressed, and he followed. Freaky cat. I bent down to pet him, and he raised his head toward my hand—but he missed. Only it seemed intentional. He was raising his head to be pet, only he was raising it at something directly behind me. I turned around, half expecting someone, but of course there was no one.

Freaky cat.

I pushed him away with my foot and closed the bedroom door to finish dressing, but his insistent meowing unsettled me. I opened the door to shush him, but his let out a wailing cry at the empty space behind me.

I turned on the TV to drown out the caterwauling. It was a commercial for an HVAC company, a terrible and memorable jingle. I sang along. It silenced the cat, but still Meowser stared behind me.

I thought I saw something walk across the room behind me, a reflection moving across the mirror. But when I turned, I was still alone.

A pizza commercial came on, but my usual appetite sparked by those kinds of commercials had diminished. I didn’t even want breakfast. I picked up the phone to call Mom. Something came over me, and suddenly I had to get Meowser out of my apartment. Surely Mom and Dad could keep him for Ellie.

The phone rang before I could dial, making me jump half out of my skin and drop it on the carpet. Meowser didn’t even flinch. Just kept staring.

It was Mom.

“Baby, turn on the news,” she said.

The news was already on—the pizza commercial had dissolved into a breaking story of a terrorist attack in Paris. A coordinated attack of vans and trucks driving into crowds. The confirmed death count was twenty-two and counting.

“I called Ellie as soon as I saw,” Mom said. She was sobbing. “She didn’t answer. Steve, either.”

“Mom,” I said. “Ellie’s in Italy. Paris is in France.” My mind briefly relaxed, worried only about Mom possibly having a senior moment.

“No, honey. Ellie’s there. Steve is on leave, and the two of them went to France. They were touring the city today and tomorrow.”

“They could still be out touring,” I said. “I mean, do their phones even work in France? I think calls are super expensive. They probably have their phones off. You know, so they can concentrate on their tour.”

But even as the words left my mouth, I knew the worst was true. I knew it because Meowser knew it. The cat’s eyes softened as the realization hit me. Ellie was no longer in Italy. She was no longer in France. Meowser meowed again and ducked his head toward the shadow behind me. His beloved Ellie. She always kept her promise.

***

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 – “Who’s That Girl” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “A story that involves someone, not a stranger, standing on the edge of a precipice.”

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.

***

“Who’s That Girl?” by Chiara De Giorgi

I was quietly walking, lost in thought.

At some point I looked around. I was surrounded by a thick, white fog, I could barely make out the tree lines at both sides of the road. Where was I? I thought back, but couldn’t remember what my destination had been when I’d left home. Weird.

I kept on walking, hands in my pockets, white puffs of breath leaving my body and mixing with the fog.

Slowly, the fog dispersed and I realized the sky was turning dark.

This isn’t good, I thought to myself. I did not know where I was, and with the darkness it would be impossible to make sense of that place.

I stopped  and took a good look around. It was a forest. There were trees everywhere, but it was eerily silent. What forest is that silent?

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, I spotted someone walking far ahead of me. Luckily, they had a red coat on, otherwise I might have missed them.

Knowing I was too far away for them to hear me calling, I started running in order to catch up with them.

When I was almost running out of breath, the person luckily stopped, so I slowed down and kept walking briskly towards them.

Wasn’t the coat red? I though. It was clearly blue. I shrugged. It wasn’t important. Now that I was getting closer, I could tell that she was a woman with long, dark hair, falling neatly over her shoulders. There was something familiar to her shape. Did I know her? I was still too far from her to be sure.

I was about to call out to her, when I realized she was standing over a precipice. A cold hand gripped my heart and I closed my mouth. Was she about to jump down the cliff? What was a cliff doing here, by the way? And where was ‘here’ anyway?

I slowed down, my eyes glued to her back.

Suddenly I was standing next to her. I turned my head and looked at her. At first, I couldn’t see who she was, then realization kicked in and I gasped. That was me! How was that even possible?

She – I – slowly turned her head to look at me. She had a smirk on her face; her eyes – my eyes – were clean and clear, not a trace of concern in them. Her skin was smooth, no frown lines marked her face. She was me, but a neater, more defined version of me. She looked confident, brave. It looked like she was in charge and she knew it.

“Are you going to jump?” I whispered.

What if I fall? – Oh but my darling, what if you fly!” she replied. That was one of my favorite quotes, but I honestly wouldn’t be willing to put it to the test, not literally at least. I was about to tell her just that, when she opened her arms and took a step over the edge.

My hands ran to my mouth and I stifled a cry. She disappeared under a thick layer of white clouds. Not a sound could be heard.

Seconds ticked by and the sun rose from behind the mountain facing the cliff.

Suddenly she resurfaced from the clouds with a glorious cry, the sunlight was painting golden shades on the white sea and on her face. Her arms were wide open, her smile was big and pure, her coat was blindingly white.

I smiled. She’d done it. And if she could do it, well…

*****

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 – “Perspective” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “A story that involves someone, not a stranger, standing on the edge of a precipice.”

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. Last December, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

“Perspective” by Phil Yeats

The sun remained high in the late afternoon sky as Alan climbed from the village to the cliffside path. That morning he’d found work processing the kelp harvest. Those twelve hours of hard labour would fund three or four days pursuing his dreams.

While strolling along the track to his hovel in the adjacent cove, he spied the local squire staring to sea from the cliff edge. Why was he standing on the brink? Did something in his lord-of-the-manor life lead him to the precipice?

The squire turned as Alan approached. “I have a job for you. Fifty pounds for an hour’s work.”

Fifty pounds was a fortune, more than he’d made during his day processing kelp. “Fine, what do you need?”

“Someone to deliver a bear cub to Miss Vanessa’s Animal Hospice.” The squire pointed toward a small copse some metres back from the cliff. “It’s there, and my estate’s in the car park. If you deliver it now, the fifty pounds is yours.”

Alan stared at the furry brown animal. “Is that a North American black bear? Vanessa won’t accept such a foreign beast.”

“All arranged, Vanessa will find it a home. Deliver the bear, return the car, and give the key to Mrs. Morton. She’ll give you fifty pounds. One last thing. Don’t mention how you came by it.”

Alan took the bear’s chain, and the squire strolled to the village. The cub was playful and rambunctious but not difficult. It climbed into the Range Rover after a little persuasion. Thirty minutes later, Miss Vanessa accepted the beast with no questions asked, and Alan was on his way to the manor house.

He parked by the garage and wandered into the kitchen. Mrs. Morton offered him five ten-pound notes and a bowl of steaming stew in exchange for the car keys.

Alan slowly shook his head as he counted the notes. “What’s this about?”

The normally loquacious cook offered no explanation as she resumed her task of preparing supper for the family.

Alan pondered as he ate. The secrecy was meaningless. Miss Vanessa and anyone else would realize the bear arrived in the squire’s estate car. It must be a pretense, a fabrication that would allow Vanessa to claim ignorance without outright lies. That allowed only one explanation. Martin, the squire’s mentally challenged third son, had acquired the cub by less than honest means, and the squire had to deal with it. Everyone knew the old gent had a soft spot for animals. He couldn’t bring himself to kill the beast, so he entrusted it to Vanessa.

After finishing his stew, Alan strode to Martin’s rooms in the estate’s gatehouse. He’d be missing the bear and eager to hear what happened to it. He’d also be incapable of prevaricating. Martin was a decade older than Alan’s twenty-seven years but like a child constantly in need of reassurance and friendship.

Alan found him crouched in his front garden feeding the squirrels. “Howdy Martin. Beer sound good?”

Martin, like his father, was a devoted animal lover. He spent his waking hours looking for wild animals to befriend. Martin also liked beer. He wasn’t an alcoholic. He kept no booze in his apartment, and if pub patrons offered him a drink, he never had more than a pint or two of lager. But he loved his pint. If the landlord let him, he’d share it with little critters he usually had hidden in his oversized anorak.

“I took your bear cub to Vanessa’s wildlife refuge,” Alan said after they’d settled by the fire in the pub.

“Thought you might have. She was getting too big for me, but I couldn’t leave her with the gypsies. They were mean to her.”

“Vanessa said she’d find her a good home.”

“Miss Vanessa will be good to her, but I think Winnie will frighten the other animals.”

“Winnie?” Alan asked.

“I named her after Winnie-the-Pooh. It’s my favourite book.” He pulled a tattered copy of the old version of A. A. Milne’s masterpiece with the E. H. Shepard drawings from his anorak. “Have you read it?”

“Yes Martin, I read it a long time ago. It was my favourite book too.”

He extracted a mouse from another pocket. “I read it to my animals.”

Alan lingered over his beer because Martin liked to take his time. He became anxious if he thought others were ready to leave. When Martin finished his beer, Alan bought him another. Two regulars sat at their table and offered to see Martin home.

Alan took his leave and walked to the waterfront, across the river, and up the path to the cliff top. He strolled past the place where the squire waited for him, then the copse and car park, and on to his home. Tomorrow, he’d wander the seashore looking for bits of driftwood and other beach debris. He’d turn his discoveries into sculptures he’d sell to the tourists when summer finally arrived.

He’d solved the mystery of the bear and had a pocketful of cash. With no pressing worries, his world was unfolding as it should.

***

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 Edge” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “A story that involves someone, not a stranger, standing on the edge of a precipice.”

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

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

MISTER WOLFE (the sequel or stand-alone) coming this summer!

***

The Edge by Cathy MacKenzie

Lucille pondered the path before her. The road would be an easy one, effortless and without any pre-planning. No sales to wait for, no tickets to purchase, no suitcases to pack. No mad tear to wake up at ungodly hours, no stress with eyes barely open while wondering if taxis would arrive on time, no boring three-hour waits at airports. No throngs of people mashed together like potatoes behind roped barricades, itching to reach the ticket counter before the next person. No dragging of suitcases or tripping over feet while moving too slowly through the maze.

Although at one time Lucille enjoyed flying, airport travel had become horrific, what with delays and terrorists and crashes, not to mention hassles of added security and other rigmarole. In the early days of plane travel, one could arrive thirty minutes ahead of a flight and still board. One used to be able to carry shampoos and hairspray and face cream in carry-ons. Once upon a time, one didn’t have to worry about the number or weights of suitcases.

Lucille and her husband had travelled frequently, spending winter months down south until he died and left her to travel alone.

But she wouldn’t travel by plane any longer, nor would she take any more road trips despite preferring—even enjoying—driving over flying. Never again would she have to ensure the car was in perfect running order or fill up the gas.

No, there’d be none of that on her trip. Peace would prevail, which is how travel used to be before the world changed. The only worry Lucille had was the lack of light, for there’d be no light until the end—if one believed myths and suppositions.

But the journey would be peaceful despite the black. As if confined in a windowless train zooming down the tracks, the predestined trip would be without an end in sight. Time and space would take over while barrelling along, enclosed in darkness, a metal time capsule let loose like a bullet aiming for its target.

What would she see when she arrived? The fabled pearly gates, the white-robed greeters, the happy reunion with long-deceased relatives? Would endless time permit one to do endless things, or would nothingness exist—a void similar to sleeping when one didn’t dream or have any sense of life? She’d suffered those nights—too many of them when she hadn’t dreamed—and when she opened her eyes in the morning, she realized if she hadn’t awoken, she would never have known she had died. For if you’re in that state and never wake up, how would you know?

Such strange and crazy thoughts that she could never share; no one would understand.

She wasn’t so special that Mr. Death wouldn’t call; she wasn’t that naive to think he’d forget her. No, death loomed in her future. She once prayed it wouldn’t happen too soon. She had wanted to remain on earth where she felt secure, wanted to breathe in smog so she could cough and gag, wanted to cry when peeling onions, wanted to laugh at nonsensical funnies. She once wanted to take the good with the bad for that was life. But life brought death. That was the bad in the good. People had no choice.

She watched clouds rolling by. She enjoyed searching for faces—Jesus or other famous people who appeared in fluffs of white. Photos of clouds were posted as mind games on Facebook—faces others easily saw but ones she never did until she wracked her brain and examined them more closely. Even then, she didn’t always discern a face, but if she concentrated and allowed her imagination to run amok, she could see what she wanted: endless peaks and valleys, smoky ranges, bursts of sun, vast oceans—even faces.

What a waste of time though she enjoyed the puzzle. And what else would she do if she weren’t peering into clouds?

Life had gotten the best of her. Nameless life with nameless faces much like clouds. Those nameless, breathing souls were real yet as distant as the ones high above.

She looked up and saw fluff piled high upon seas of foam. Blue like the ocean or as black as night. Or virginal white marred by dirt. Send me Your love, for Your love shines down upon us all, does it not? Tears hit some; others are lambasted with hail and snow. Cover your face; close your eyes! Capture those daydreams. And see those faces.

There! Was that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?

Did certain individuals exist within that narrow sphere between light and dark? Was there a slight groove where bodies were caught, a trap from which they’d never extricate themselves? Lucille pictured a narrow roadway between life and death, one minuscule and easily invaded where an unsuspecting person could easily find oneself, on the rim looking down and not having the opportunity to decide whether to jump or flee; falling simply happened. One would not know how or why. Later, one might wonder how the fall could have been prevented, how the event couldn’t have been foreseen—for it was an event, was it not? The end of a breathing soul, the end to whatever a person believed in.

Who actually believed in Heaven and Hell? Who truly believed they’d burn endlessly in a bottomless pit or float through fluffy clouds surrounded by angels? Perhaps that’s how cloud faces evolved—nameless faces not so nameless after all: remnants of dead souls who had nowhere else to go.

Would she know when she arrived? Would she be one of those faces leering at earth, filling up lonely lives by providing them with guessing games to pass the time? Who would know it was her except for family and friends? The rest of the world would pretend to recognize her as someone she wasn’t. For the remainder of her days, she’d be one of those nameless faces peering down.

She looked again. Brad was gone and so was his famous ex-partner. Despite intently studying the moving formations, she saw no other faces. She was sure someone in the world would, though. Didn’t the same clouds hover over every facet of earth, no matter what country one lived in?

She gave up examining the sky. Her neck hurt, craning as she had. Besides, she had better things to do.

She clutched her cloth handbag against her side, metal pressing hard against her skin, the unmistakeable chill seeping through the thin fabrics.

She sauntered down the dirt road. How had she ended up in the deserted countryside? She had hopped the bus at Winchester Avenue and stayed on despite various stops—most of which she had never seen before—and when the bus lurched to a stop, she hardly paid attention when she alighted.

She was so confused some days she didn’t know if she existed in life or in a foreign state from which she couldn’t extricate herself. She hadn’t known then of the edge.

After getting off the bus, she found it, although pondering fate while examining the clouds had lessened its relevance, relegating it to the back of her mind. Sauntering through the countryside had brought it back to the forefront.

The edge.

The long road before her wound like a large snake meandering through the landscape. Sections were hidden behind themselves as if construction crews hadn’t wanted trespassers to view the entire road, but she saw through the plan.

“We must go on adventures to find out where we belong,” she mumbled.

Clouds skimmed along as if they had a destination. They had the task of remaining over earth, moving or still, white or black. What could be more concrete than that? Options, seemingly at will. Options she didn’t have. Her fate was predestined; she was positive of that.

The edge. It was there, ahead of her, waiting…

Dust swirled around her feet. Teeny natty flies swarmed about her face. She swatted them away, but they persisted. She ran a few feet trying to escape. It worked.

For a while.

***

I think back to my story of Lucille. The truth still eludes me. I was never very religious. Sure, I believed—and still do—that some higher being exists, but really, who knows? No one—until death actually happens—can know with any certainty, and then, of course, it is too late. Who has ever returned to earth after dying—really dying—to fill us in on details? Does anyone really believe those who travel the tunnel—the real tunnel—to reach the other side come back to earth?

Studies have determined those people who travelled the tunnel and returned—those who saw the bright lights or hovered over their supposedly dead bodies—were never actually dead in the first place. In those instances, brain waves interfered or dreams took over.

While we’re living, we don’t know we live on the edge. We don’t know if we’re going to be hit by a car or murdered by a crazy. Or develop a lump and be told, “You’ll be fine. We got it all,” and a month later informed your life is ending; the doctors were wrong—they didn’t get it all.

We all live on the edge. The edge of today; the edge of tomorrow.

All of us are on loan to the world. When you die, however, you’re relegated to a six-foot-deep plot you’ll own forever unless you’re scattered to the winds where specks of ash will float and meld with the atmosphere, living on throughout time, for where would the ash go except exist forevermore, whether in the air or falling to earth? Each part of us remains though not in our earthly form.

I’ll always remember my fictional character Lucille. I’m a writer, you know, and I remember all my characters. Despite numerous individuals with varied ideas, opinions, and thoughts, I still don’t know what’s true or false. I never have, never will.

I remember stories I’ve written, stories about life and death and characters in my head who never gave up until I did them in or they did someone else in. Everyone has repressed anger! I don’t like killing off characters, but sometimes it’s fun. I can’t—and won’t—kill in real life. My parents taught me the difference between good and bad.

I could have saved those characters had I wanted.

And now it’s my turn.

I didn’t save Lucille before she travelled the tunnel, so how can I expect anyone to save me? Not that anyone would. Or could. Death happens.

Lucille reached her end. She saw the pearly gates, the white-robed greeters, the angels flying strong. Everyone needs an angel. I do, too, but there are none for me.

I see the edge, the precipice. The space. My today and my past. I don’t see my future. Nothing exists below or beyond. I don’t see gates or bright lights or masses of white. I don’t see anything except a dark, cold void. A black, blank canvas, a mass of nothingness threatening to suffocate me.

And it does.

My earthly journey has ended. I won’t return to earth. I won’t be able to tell you what happens next.

The edge beckons. I jump. I fall for what feels like an eternity.

And I land.

 

***

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 – “Goodbye” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story about “Someone, not a stranger, standing on the edge of a precipice.”

Today’s story comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. You can learn more at www.CorgiCapers.com.

***

“Goodbye” by Val Muller

The wind whipped her hair. It whirled past her ears, crisp and brutal, just the way it would sound in a movie. In fact, that’s just how she felt—like one of those wives in a movie, the ones waiting at the top of the hill to catch a glimpse of her husband’s ship coming in after months at sea. The wife of a whaler, maybe. Or a colonial bride waiting for her lover to return from a jaunt to England.

But that wasn’t what she waited for, was it? Her toil was quite the opposite. No one was coming home. Certainly not Greg. How could he come home to her if he’d never been hers in the first place? Her brain itched with the questions.

Her hand twitched, eager to type them out, to allow the angst to flow through the keyboard onto the screen. She needed to create more words, words, words.

No. Dr. Moore told her she’d written enough.

She clutched the pages in her hand. They tattered in the wind, and her hand threatened to let go. The words were sentient, like little beetles dotting the page. Size 9, single spaced, beetles, confined in margins as wide as the printer would allow. She’d done what her therapist said, after all: She’d printed them out and deleted the files. All those months of journaling, hundreds of pages condensed into a hundred and ninety-seven double-sided pages. Each page a saga. Each page wrinkled and tear-stained. She’d read the whole manuscript—that’s what she called it now—once over before coming out here. She’d touched the words, surprised they didn’t stab her fingers as they’d done to her heart, spoken each one aloud. And then she’d driven here.

She had to let go, Dr. Moore said.

And so she’d driven here, to the overlook, the site of her one and only date with Greg.

It was only once, Dr. Moore had told her. One date didn’t constitute true love.

True love didn’t need any dates, she’d told him. True love was true love, and Greg was her true love, plain and simple. The problem was that Greg didn’t yet realize that it was true love. She’d gone to Dr. Moore to ask how to make Greg aware. How to wake him up, to make his heart sentient.

But Greg was married now. She’d had to admit that at her last session. She’d used her alternate account to view his Facebook page, as she did every day and when her insomnia hit, and her heart sank when she saw the big announcement. There it was, posted by his wife. She could barely think the words—his wife! His wife? That was her! It was supposed to be her. But it wasn’t her in the flowing white gown, arm strewn around Greg. Greg, so handsome in his midnight black tuxedo.

And the comments. People had the audacity to congratulate him. Congratulate him? On what? On finding the wrong woman? On taking a step away from true love? And some of the subtleties, asking about children? Babies? Those were supposed to be her babies!

The wind whisked her tears away as quickly as they could come. This type of thinking was not productive, Dr. Moore had said. She needed to move on.

Move on.

Move on.

She peered over the cliff. It was so far down. If she were a bird, she could leap and soar across the ocean, find a new continent and a new lover. But she wasn’t one.

The wind licked the first page of her journal, and she loosened her grip. It was the page describing the first time she saw him, walking into the deli at college. His eyes had caught her immediately, though he didn’t see her. He was like a supernova. How could she look away?

Dr. Moore said he was more like a black hole.

The beetles on the page protested. They did not like being trapped on the page. The wind called to them. They wanted to be free. Free, just like she should be, Dr. Moore had said.

The page loosened and hovered in the air in front of her. She caught only frantic phrases. “Eyes like stars.” “His name is Greg.” “He’s majoring in biology.” Then the page lost its battle with the wind and was whisked out into the air.

Its journey to the sea took eternities. She wanted to jump out after it, to rescue it from its watery fate. The wind seemed strong enough to hold her, after all. But she knew what Dr. Moore would say. That would not be healthy.

So she stood firmly at the precipice, watching the page fall impossibly far out to the sea. She could barely make it out in the glossy sun on the water as it finally hit.

She released the breath she’d been holding. With the exhalation, her grip loosened, and more pages took flight. One, two, ten, two dozen. More, more, more. The thirty pages written about the night Greg told her it just wasn’t working. Her musings about how wrong he was, how he could not possibly know it wasn’t working after just one date. Her frantic sonnets about his knit hat and how it fell over his brow. Her haikus about each beautiful curl on his head. His wife would never appreciate him with that level of detail: she didn’t deserve Greg.

All that beauty, captured in words, now flew out to sea like a flock of birds. They landed peacefully on the waves. Her fingers twitched, thinking of what to say about that, about her urge to follow them.

But that would not be healthy. She could hear Dr. Moore tell her so.

So instead, she sighed once into the wind and mouthed the words as she returned to her car to find a way to move on, somehow, with her life minus her soul mate. “Goodbye, Greg.”

***

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, avail

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Drought” by Chiara de Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme: awakening from a bad dream or, even worse, a nightmare. 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.

***

The Drought by Chiara De Giorgi

The alarm went off. Half awake, I tried to sit up as I heard the news on the radio.

The drought had lasted for so long, that Gap Lake had dried up, revealing a body. After the necessary examinations, it appeared that it belonged to a young man who had gone missing fifteen years ago. There was evidence that he had been killed: someone had hit him on the head with a hammer, or something similar. Then the murderer had dumped the body in the lake. The police stopped considering the young man as missing, and started investigating his murder. The reporter never mentioned the dead guy’s name, but he didn’t have to bother, I knew it was Liam Hunter.

Who would have thought that the lake would eventually dry up? How long would it take for the detectives to come knock on my door?

***

We had been dating, Liam and I, that summer of fifteen years ago. It was really just a fling, I was twenty years old, for God’s sake!

I used to work the late shift at the pub overlooking the lake, and he used to jog for an hour every night after work, before stopping by for a beer. He was always alone, as was I, so of course we started talking, then he started waiting for me to end my shift, walking me home… One thing naturally lead to another.

We were both only temporarily staying at Gap Lake City, that’s one reason why I considered our relationship nothing more than a summer interlude. My hometown was miles away, as was his. We would just be there for a couple of months, to work and save money for our ambitious projects. He wanted to go study law in Paris; I wanted to become a singer. A famous one, I mean. Most people can be decent singers, if they try, but to be extraordinary, well: that takes work. And money. Money for singing lessons, money to support yourself while you tour to find the right agent, money to maybe bribe someone into giving you a chance… If you have money, life’s so much easier.

Anyway.

One time the condom broke and I got pregnant. I asked him to split the doctor’s fee, to get rid of the baby, and he flipped. He claimed I couldn’t do that, it was his baby, too. He wanted us to get married, give up our dreams, and settle down at Gap Lake City, which was the perfect place to raise a child and start a family, with the woods, and the lake, and the friendly community. I could keep working at the pub, he would keep doing whatever it was he was doing at the time (I honestly do not remember), and we would be a happy family.

When I told him I’d do nothing of the sort, he threatened to reach my parents and tell them. I said that I didn’t care, so he promised he’d ruin my career as soon as I had one, telling everyone who would listen what an awful person I was, to put an unlikely dream before my own child and love.

I didn’t mean to kill him, I just wanted him to shut up. Or maybe I did want to kill him. After all, that was the only way to make sure he’d shut up forever.

I hit him on the head with a hammer I found on the pier, he fell into the water and stayed there. I tied a rope to his chest and filled his pockets with rocks, then took a small boat and dragged his body across the lake. When we reached the middle of the lake, I let go of his body. He’s been resting in peace for fifteen years, and I’ve become a famous singer. What would happen now?

***

The alarm went off and I woke up. I listened to the radio, but the reporter never mentioned a drought, or Gap Lake, or the dead body of Liam Hunter.

I called the studio and cancelled all my recording sessions for the week, then took my car and drove all the way there, just to make sure.

The lake’s still there, I am safe.

*****

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 – “Achievemephobia” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “Awakening from a bad dream or, even worse, a nightmare.”

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. In December, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

*****

Achievemephobia by Phil Yeats

 

Alan awoke with his heart pounding. Had lightening or thunder disturbed him, or was it a noise in his apartment? He lay in bed listening as his heartbeat slowed. The electric heat ticked, the fridge hummed, and somewhere, water dripped. Outside his windows, the night appeared benign.

Did a dream wake him? He only remembered the vaguest details of dreams, and those details invariably surfaced slowly.

Alan thought back to the previous evening. He’d sat in bed finishing the first draft of a chapter for his new book, then checked his email, his social media sites, and did some web surfing.

He lifted the lid of his laptop and tapped the space bar. It didn’t come to life. He hadn’t fallen asleep while surfing. He’d shut it down, not abandoned it to go into sleep mode.

An image of the cover of his first novel flooded his consciousness, emerging like an old Polaroid print on the very popular ReaderGuy blog. An annoying flashing banner pronounced it mystery novel of the month. Was that the problem? Had the ReaderGuy discovered his totally obscure self-published novel?

If he did, the notoriety and attention it brought would be a disaster. It would bring sales, the ReaderGuy trumpeted the fact his book of the month designations increased sales by hundreds, even thousands. They brought many struggling writers a lifeline they really appreciated.

But Alan didn’t covet sales. He desired nothing more than publishing the book and giving or selling a few copies to writing colleagues and the odd stranger. And he detested thoughts of media attention. The last thing he wanted was a reporter from the local newspaper interviewing him. And the possibility of a book review in the Globe and Mail—God forbid.

As his sleep-befuddled brain activity improved, he realized the flaw in his logic. If he’d seen such a posting on the ReaderGuy’s site, he would have remained awake all night worrying.

Alan grabbed his laptop, fired it up, and Googled Amazon.com books. When the Amazon site came up, he entered Tilting at Windmills in the search bar and hit enter. He scrolled down the thumbnail pictures of books with the same title until he found his familiar cover picture.

On the electronic version’s page, he scrolled down to the sales rankings and checked its position. One million, six hundred and eighty-five thousand, four hundred and twenty-three—what he expected for a book that hadn’t sold a copy for several months. When he checked, the paperback ranking was equally dismal.

He sighed as he returned the computer to the nightstand. No sales meant it was a dream, a real nightmare, but nothing that actually happened. He could sleep without worrying about reporters calling at all hours.

*****

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 – “Great Aunt Jessie” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme: awakening from a bad dream or, even worse, a nightmare.

This week’s story is from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, available on Amazon and other retailers. www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

***

Great-Aunt Jessie by Cathy MacKenzie

I felt—maybe sensed—hot breath against my cheek. I pretended to be asleep and tried my damnest to keep my breathing even and quell my fierce urge to jump out of bed. My arms lay across my chest, my right hand gripping my left wrist as if hanging on for dear life.

The whispers by my right ear were undecipherable. I remained even more still, playing possum as if dead in my coffin. Perhaps I was; I wasn’t certain, not at ten.

Slowly and deliberately, I opened my eyes. And when I did, I saw her: my great-aunt. Sitting at the foot of my bed as if she had every right to be in my room.

“Naughty Mikey,” she said, wagging her index finger at me.

An orangey-yellow glow radiated around her, highlighting the threatening finger that continued to move up and down as if robotized. Funny how I usually detected light burning against my closed eyelids. But not that night.

The curtains swayed against the open window, revealing the pitch blackness of night.

I shrieked.

And shrieked.

Mom’s thuds came down the hall from hers and Dad’s room, but I feared I’d be dead before she arrived.

Then, magically, the ceiling light illuminated my bedroom the same instant a voice cried out.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Mom plopped beside me, rubbing my clammy forehead. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

The room swirled. “Mom…” I glanced about. No eerie glow. No Aunt Jessie.

“Mom, Aunt Jessie was here.”

She scanned the room. “No one’s here.”

Did she really expect to see someone?

“She was here, Mom. I saw her.” I pointed. “At the bottom of my bed.”

A wasted effort.

“Just a bad dream, Mikey. A nightmare. Go back to sleep.” She gently pushed my head to the pillow and tucked the sheet and blanket tight under my chin.

“Didn’t you see it?” I asked. “The light. Bright and yellow and orange.”

“Bad dream. Bad, bad dream.”

I clenched my sweaty hands beneath the linens. I was a big boy and couldn’t admit my fright.

Mom switched off the light, bringing darkness to the room. I waited for the glow to reappear and prayed Aunt Jessie stayed away. I could handle the light better than I could her.

Great-Aunt Jessie, a spinster, scared the bejesus out of me. Droopy eyelids covered half her eyeballs. Flabby jowls. Saggy breasts that no bra could ever contain—not that I knew much about bras. Her skin, wrinklier than my grandmothers’, was mottled with brown and white raised marks. Spindly veined legs—what could accidentally be glimpsed beneath her dark skirts, dresses, or long pants—always reminded me of Dad’s many creased roadmaps, his blue-penned lines delineating various vacation routes. Her flapping finger followed me everywhere. “You dratted hellion,” she’d bellow. She didn’t like me—or any kids, for that matter. “Children must not be heard or seen,” she’d say. Whenever she visited, I wasn’t allowed to have friends over. Instead, I had to play quietly in my room with my make-believe friends. I was grateful she didn’t visit often. She passed on when I was six, and I was relieved the crotchety ancient thing was gone. Gone forever, to wherever old souls disappeared to.

Eventually, I fell asleep.

 

I stir when sunlight enters through the open window and onto my closed lids. I’m groggy as if I didn’t sleep well. The incident haunts me. I’m almost certain it’s an actual event resurfacing from my youth. Or could it have been a fresh dream, even a remnant of a past dream that springs back to life? If it was a dream, it seems it returns often, but that’s the way with dreams: difficult to distinguish if they’ve occurred once or several times during one slumberous night.

After getting my bearings, I open my eyes. I’m in my childhood bedroom in my parents’ house, visiting for the long weekend, my single bed long ago replaced with a queen bed. My wife, Cynthia, breaths peacefully beside me, one leg draped over mine. Our two children are in the next room.

After breakfast, Cynthia and Dad take the boys outdoors, leaving Mom and me at the table. She gets up and refills our half-empty coffee cups. I watch the steam rise until it vanishes.

“Mike,” Mom asks, “do you remember that night years ago when you woke up screaming about Aunt Jessie being in your room?”

My stomach lurches. The taste of bacon and eggs surges to my throat. After several seconds, I croak a feeble “I do” as if I’m that scared kid from twenty years ago.

“That light you said you saw? I saw it, too. As soon as I opened your door, I saw it.”

“You did?” I swallow, unsuccessfully purging the taste of breakfast, hoping I don’t embarrass myself by barfing. “You saw her? Aunt Jessie?”

“No, just the light. It was strange. Bright yellow. Almost orangey. It freaked me out, probably more so than you. You were so scared I couldn’t let on that I saw it, too.” She rubs her eyes as if awakening from a deep sleep. “I don’t know what made me think of it this morning. So odd…”

***

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 – “Paperwork in the Sand” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to write a story involving “”awakening from a bad dream or, even worse, a nightmare.”

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter, a young adult reboot of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece, available in paperback for only $5.75 for a limited time!

***

Paperwork in the Sand by Val Muller

It was a classic nightmare, one you don’t realize you’re having until you wake because it seems so real. Miriam was standing in front of the entire staff—front and back office. Dave had just introduced her, and all eyes pierced her body. It was obvious she was supposed to be presenting on some important topic, but she could not for the life of her remember what it was. Was it a financial report? Something about the new auditing policy?

The answer didn’t matter: soon everyone gasped and laughed. She looked down to discover the quintessential nightmare situation. She was naked. With her worry, her breasts bounced for all to see. They were too large to hide behind her arms. Dave scoffed and pointed. Bill pulled out his phone. Miriam’s thighs jiggled as she backed away, the rolls on her stomach squashing around to the delight of Jenny and Kim, who both did yoga and kickboxing after work and ate carrots and humus for lunch.

In the background, computers beeped and monitors flashed. The fax machine sang its cacophony of tones, and the computer played percussion. Miriam escaped to her cubicle, where her paperwork shielded her naked body. It towered over her, unending. She’d be working overtime for weeks, wouldn’t she?

She saw it all stretched before her: the long hours, the air-conditioned office ice cold on her skin, warming up with endless cups of coffee, a water fountain to refill her bottle whenever she got bored, filling up with donuts left over from the morning’s meetings…

Miriam’s phone rang. The called ID told her it was Alison Jenson, the boss’s boss. You only got a call from Ms. Jenson if you messed up real bad or did something amazing. And Miriam certainly hadn’t done anything amazing lately. She took a deep breath and reached for the phone. In her most professional voice, she answered. “Accounting, this is Miriam.”

Miriam’s eyes popped open. The sunlight blinded her pupils back into hiding. She rolled over, feeling that the sand had stuck to her sweaty skin. What time was it, and how long had she been asleep? Her heart sank. She reminded herself to breathe. So she wasn’t back, then. Not in the chill of the office. Not under the stacks of paperwork. She was still—here.

Here.

Waves lapped the shore. Turquoise. Teal. Azure. One of them was the right color to describe it. She couldn’t remember. Just another instance of missing Google. The color was miserably beautiful. If she survived this, it was a color that would haunt her dreams.

Her half coconut sat on the stone table beside her. How long had she been sleeping? Her skin pulsed a bit, red. Her heart skipped a beat as she remembered her pasty skin from the nightmare. She stood and examined herself. She wasn’t naked anymore—but close to. Her pants—shorts, now—barely covered her thighs. And those thighs that had been so plump in her dream—why, the hunger had eaten every last ounce of fat, every small dimple of cellulite. Even Jenny and Kim would be jealous. She sighed as the afternoon sun glared at her.

It wasn’t the golden glow of the afternoon sun back home, the one that welcomed you into its arms and eased you into evening. Here in the tropics, the sun seemed to go from high noon to night all at once. It would soon be evening, her chance to scavenge for shellfish.

She shook her head in admonishment. She hated when she fell asleep during the day like that. Those were her chances to spot a ship or a plane. She’d have to do better tomorrow.

That night, she breathed a word of bitter thanks. She had survived another day, she mused as she added an 87th tick mark to her tally along the rock embankment. The small crabs she had caught made for a pitiable meal, and as she laid down on her bed in the sand under the remains of her deflated life raft, she hoped that if her rescue didn’t come that night, she would at least be blessed with another nightmare about the never-ending paperwork in the air-conditioned office.

*

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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