The Spot Writers – “In Need” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about a chance encounter. Today’s tale comes to you (a day late) from (the very frazzled) Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series, who is currently teaching full time from home, while also writing, and watching her young kids, and corgis.

***

“In Need” by Val Muller

They. Just. Needed. To. Nap.

Why was that so much to ask? An hour or two a day or silence, without unending questions from a preschooler, without a million consecutive “no’s” from a toddler. Social distancing requirements said nothing about taking a drive, and that’s just what she did.

Why was the universe punishing her for it?

The car ride had been amazing at first. The two of them conked out in about twelve minutes, and Hannah sped through the country roads, enjoying the spring foliage and rolling farms. She cracked her window to let the fresh air wash over her, when suddenly the car was overwrought with stench.

Was it the baby? Had he soiled himself?

Or was it manure from the farm nearby?

There was no way to tell. She slowed a bit and opened the back windows, just enough to let the car air out. They’d be past this particular farm in about thirty seconds, so if it was manure, it would wash out of the car. If it was the baby, well…

The rushing wind did not wake the kids, and she drove a bit longer with the windows open. It was nice. Refreshing. Symbolic. Washing all the stress of the international closures, the pandemic, away. Nature had that habit—of making everything seem fine, normal.

Except that nature had a sense of humor, too. The wind curled the corner of the sleeping child’s favorite blanket and picked it up with just enough force that it overcame her gentle clasp and sent it sailing, like a kite, out the window.

Hellen slowed, but of course—of course—there were two cars behind her. She could not slow or stop on such a narrow road. The two of them saw the blanket fly out—they had to have—but they did not stop. The driver of the sedan directly behind her wore a mask and kept the windows up. The woman—at least Hellen thought it was a woman, wrapped up in gear like that—simply shook her head and kept driving. The truck behind the sedan slowed for a moment, as if pondering what to do, but ultimately decided to plod on.

Normally a blanket is just a blanket, but this particular blanket was a custom job, a quilt made of scraps of Halloween blankets, the girl’s favorite holiday. What’s more, it had her name embroidered using scraps from the household, and each one now had a unique meaning and a unique physical feel for the child. She often lulled herself to sleep running her fingers over the familiar stitching.

To say she would be devastated was an understatement.

There were no side roads and no driveways. Hellen kept going, wondering when she could slow or turn around, and where the blanket would be by that time. Finally, she came to a side road. It was dirt, and narrow, and rutted. Her minivan would never be able to turn around on it. Forget a three-point turn; she would be lucky to complete one in twenty.

So she simply stopped, put her flashers on, and gazed down the road as an unbelievably high number of cars rushed by on both sides. Wasn’t this a deserted road? In the middle of a pandemic? The road she had pulled down was situated at the top of a hill along a blind curve. Backing onto the road would be an invitation for an accident. How was she supposed to turn around?

Her only hope would be to drive down the rutted road and hope for a better place to turn. But how far down this rabbit hole was she willing to go? She glanced in the rearview mirror and imagined telling her daughter about the blanket.

It would not go well. She got out of the car and craned her neck down the road, hoping for a miracle. Couldn’t a gust of wind bring the blanket back to her?

Even if she were able to turn around, there was no telling where the blanket had gone. She hadn’t seen it land.

“Please!” she screamed.

Almost in answer, a deep hoooonk startled her.

Along the main road, a huge truck was coming to a stop. A man in a hat got out and waved. He was not wearing a mask.

“Need help? Broken down? Flat tire?”

Hellen shook her head. “Worse. My daughter’s blanket flew out the window, and when she wakes up, things are never gonna be the same.”

The man’s concerned face cracked into a smile. “Hold on.”

He hurried to his truck and returned, the blanket in his hand.

“This literally hit my windshield while I was driving. I was able to grab it before it flew away. I don’t know why I kept it in my cab. Something told me to.”

Hellen shook her head. “Even with the threat of the virus?”

He nodded.

She took the blanket and hurriedly reached back to cover her daughter. By the time she was finished, the truck driver was already in his cab, waving at her to back up onto the road. She got in the minivan and backed out, heading towards home. She waved a quick goodbye before realizing she never got to thank him, never got to know his name. But he was already gone, down the other side of the narrow road, followed by a line of cars, on his way to deliver more needed goods to more people in need.

***

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 – “Inspiration” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt was created using a random generator. Use these five words in a writing: suntan, paint, waterfall, inflation, exposure.

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

***

“Inspiration” by Chiara De Giorgi

You’ve probably heard of the “writer’s block” before. I’ve never suffered from it. Not one time. My inspiration is always sharp and present, come rain or shine.

Except the one time when it was not.

It was a supremely unusual feeling, and a supremely annoying one too. Where had my inspiration gone? Why play hide and seek then, of all times?

 

I had acquired a lovely cabin in the woods, facing a waterfall. Since it needed refurbishing, I had bought three cans of paint and spent an enjoyable three days painting it anew, inside and out. I hanged laced curtains at the small windows, threw knitted blankets and pillows on the sofa, put a brightly colored, woolen carpet on the floor. I spent the days on the porch and gained a perfect suntan. With no exposure to the media I forgot everything about elections, economy, inflation, and other equally worrisome news from the outside world.

One night I talked to the fire that was crackling in the fireplace. I was cradling a glass, half full with red wine, and moaned. “Where is my inspiration hiding?” I asked.

“It was never yours”, the fire replied.

Since the half full glass was my fourth, the fire talking didn’t bother me in the least. “How do you mean?” I asked.

“Inspiration is a free creature, a living creature. She goes where she wants, not where she’s wanted – or needed, for that matter. You may try and call on her, though. What do you want her for?”

“I’m not sure”, I confessed. “I guess I’m just waiting for her to come to me.”

“And why would she?”

“I don’t know. She’s done that before.”

“Maybe you’ve done something to upset her and now she’s eluding you.”

“Maybe. I’ve no idea, though. But I don’t think so.”

“Maybe you don’t need her, then.”

“Of course I need her! How can I write, without her?”

The fire crackled a bit, before answering.

“Do you remember what the world is like, outside this cabin?”

I grimaced. “I try not to. So many problems.”

“Exactly. And how is it here?”

I smiled. “It’s great! I wake up every day to the smell of pine and the sound of birds chirping and water falling. I love every minute of my days here.”

“So, maybe the people out there need inspiration more than you do. Don’t you agree?”

“Maybe…” I whispered, unconvinced. “But what about me? How will I write again?”

“Well”, crackled the fire, “I guess you’ll have to make a choice. Stay here and live in your dream world, or go back and write about it.”

I pondered its words for a couple of seconds, then gulped the rest of the wine. I didn’t answer.

“So: which one will you choose?”

***

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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“My Support” (even in death)

I spent agonizing hours yesterday trying to compose this month’s poem. To no avail. I left it and came back to it a few hours later, when this poem just flowed. Same topic; just couldn’t write it at that particular time, I guess.

(37 months)

“My Support”

You supported me

When I couldn’t stand,

You were there…

Waiting…

Unknown to me

When I fell

On the third anniversary

Of your death,

When I crawled like a baby—

Or an old woman

Without wits—

Over the icy snow

To reach your headstone,

Where I could haul myself up,

Leaning with my good arm

On your stone.

 

We laughed,

Elizabeth and I,

For it was funny—

Funnily sad—

She had fallen seconds before I had,

Bruising her bum,

And me: breaking my wrist,

My first broken bone—

An old woman

Even older a month later—

A mother

Who just wanted to visit

Remains of her son—

Remnants from a dreadful day

Three years ago—

But unable to accomplish a simple feat

Without mishap.

 

I swear I heard you laughing

And your words, “Oh, Mom!”

And then, “I gotta go.”

Matt hunting

If you enjoyed this poem and would like to read more, check out the book I published on the third anniversary of Matthew’s death.  MY HEART IS BROKEN

Matt book of poems full cover for wp

 

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “Ticky Tacky” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt was created using a random generator. Use these five words in a writing: suntan, paint, waterfall, inflation, exposure.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. In December, 2019, 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/

***

“Ticky Tacky” by Phil Yeats

When I was a young man in university, I imagined I’d make enough money to guard against inflation eroding my nest egg and killing my dream.

And my dream? To sail to a tropical island where I’d live in blissful isolation. Not a coral atoll where the maximum elevation was four feet, and I’d constantly fear exposure to global warming and sea level rise. No, I dreamed about an isolated spot on the flank of an extinct volcano where I could paint a waterfall and maintain an all-over suntan.

It didn’t work out that way. When I awoke from my university dream, I found myself in suburbia with a house, a wife, and two kids. If you want the gory details, you can look up the words to Malvina Reynolds song Little Boxes. It describes my life—the one I lived, not the one I dreamed.

 

‘Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes made of ticky tacky

Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes all the same’

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

 

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Spot Writers – “Childhood” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt was created using a random generator. Use these five words in a writing: suntan, paint, waterfall, inflation, exposure. This week’s prompt comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series.

Like so many, Val is at home in social isolation with her family during these strange times, which serves as inspiration to this prompt. She wishes the best for readers of this post, and for everyone around the globe.

***

“Childhood” by Val Muller

She was on the way to work when she got the call. It was a strange conversation, sounding at first almost like a telemarketer, but the voice on the other end sounded determined, somber. Not the careless, detached way telemarketers often sound.

After she hung up, the words echoed in her mind. Possible COVID-19 exposure. Self-quarantinde for 14 days. The symptoms, shortness of breath, trouble breathing… those were happening now, already. She took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. Those were symptoms of stress, too, and what was more stressful than that phone call?

She was instructed to pick up her children from school, and the man on the phone—she’d already forgotten his name. It had letters in it, she remembered that. Maybe an R? Or a B, perhaps?—was going to call her husband as well to make him aware of the situation.

Her phone buzzed again, and she pulled to the side of the road to get a handle on things. It was a text from the boss. The whole office had been exposed. They had known, hadn’t they? When Mary came in wheezing and coughing… she said it was just allergies. And they believed her, though their nerves had been set on edge.

And what were they supposed to do? Start a witch hunt against anyone who sniffled?

As instructed, she called the school. She was to have a teacher escort her children out of the building and to her car. She was not to enter the school building, or any building, until she had spent 14 days symptom-free.

The kids were thrilled. She shook her head. Boys. They asked if they could order fast food using their app. She considered this. The app allowed payment online. The food would be brought to their car. She nodded in a daze and let them order.

After lunch, they asked if they could spend the day in the basement playing video games. In her shock, she allowed it. On the phone, the school secretary disclosed rumors that schools were likely shutting down soon, anyway, so the boys wouldn’t be missing much in-class instruction. She didn’t tell the boys that, of course. Let them have this day to be carefree. They were old enough now—grades 4 and 5. This event would likely mark the end of their childhood.

And how would she spend today, the last day her boys were children? At first she panicked at the computer, ordering a delivery of groceries while fielding texts from her husband about his preparations for coming home to telework for the next two weeks. Then she cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer. They would be in this for the long haul, it seemed.

Then she headed for the entryway closet. Cleaning always calmed her. It gave her something to do, a goal. She started with the winter clothes. They were likely done for the season. Spring had come early, it seemed. She packed all the hats and gloves and scarves into the plastic sleeve and tucked the sleeve on the top shelf. Something was wedged back there, preventing the sleeve from fitting.

It was the box of paints. She’d bought it for the boys when they were younger, hoping they’d pick up her love for art. But they took instead to video games and sports. She took the paints and closed the closet door.

Outside, springtime acted like the world was not in a global panic. The birds chirped as if they had never heard of a virus. The sun warmed her skin, and she felt the suntan already bronzing her bleached winter skin as she set up the small wooden easel on the picnic table.

The neighbor’s line of pear trees were in bloom, fuzzy white against a clouded blue sky. In their rock garden, they had turned on the little waterfall that pumped a stream of water so that it trickled over a pile of rocks.

This was zen. So she picked up her paintbrush to capture the moment. Tomorrow would bring what it would, but for now her boys were living a peaceful childhood moment.

And as she dabbed at the paper with bits of white on blue, so was she.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

 

 

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My Heart Is Broken – It Needs Fixing

My book of poems (the first three years) memorializing my son Matthew, who died of a rare heart cancer on March 11, 2017, is now published.

 

Matt book of poems full cover for wp

The book is available on

Amazon

or from me.

I am donating all profits from the sale of this book to the Kenzieville Cemetery, Kenzieville, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, where Matthew is buried. Matthew’s GGGG grandparents, who emigrated from Scotland in 1803, are buried there, as well as several branches of the MacKenzie line. The cemetery is run by volunteers and is always in need of funds.

 

 

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The Spot Writers – ‘Kiss this Right’ by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

 

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.

***

“Kiss this Right” by Chiara De Giorgi

 

There’s a memory I chase,

One which times threatens to erase.

 

We were kissing in the moonlight,

It was on midsummer’s night

And the wind blew soft and warm

Who could foresee the storm?

Quick the mist surrounded us,

Sudden chill clung like a mask

To our bodies and our minds.

Still today the terror finds

Its way to my poor, weak heart.

Did I think it would not hurt?

Then the memory gets shattered,

I don’t know what I remember.

It’s like an old-fashioned mosaic,

Like a page with splattered ink

And to this day I cannot say

Why the kiss did break away.

Have I dreamt or have I lived?

Was it real, or have I wished?

 

Once a year’s midsummer’s night

Maybe I can kiss this right.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

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

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

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The Spot Writers – “Locked Room Mystery” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. In December, 2019, 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/

***

“Locked Room Mystery” by Phil Yeats

The dishevelled old detective stood on the suburban patio. Moonlight cast soft shadows, and wisps of mist swirled up from the distant shore.

He pointed at three rectangles of mosaic tiles set in the concrete. “Could they mask a removable panel?”

His new partner, a bright young officer who’d recently graduated from detective school, crouched beside the glass shards that created a blue and green seascape with dolphins and mermaids. She focused her torch on the panels’ edges, then pulled out a penknife and probed a seam.

“Possible. What’s the relevance to a murder victim discovered inside the house?”

“No idea, but it always pays to collect the evidence before reaching your conclusions.”

Later, after the crime scene technicians raised the panel, she stared into an underground passage. “What made you suspicious?”

“Memory of a mystery I once read. An incongruous observation generated the solution.”

***

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 – “Mistaken” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

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

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

***

“Mistaken”

Mist masks
Memorable memories
But moonlight
Magnifies
The mosaic—
Moody,
Muddy.
Mortuarial.

***

 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 – “Echo” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story or poem using the following words or images: memory, mist, moonlight, mosaic, mask.

This week’s contribution comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Find out more at www.corgicapers.com.

***

The poem was inspired by staring at the numbers of the date of this post: 2-20-2020 and the imagery of its repetition.

“Echo” by Val Muller

The moonlight wakes me,

It cuts the night,

Corporeal.

 

What does it want?

What does it know?

How many eons of time in its glow?

 

I sit up in bed,

Bare feet on carpet,

Toes splayed on the mosaic

Of moonlight through trees.

The room is cold,

But I do not shiver.

 

I rise, silent. Déjà vu.

I have done this before.

A memory:

 

Once, at age eight,

I awoke in moonlight.

It called me to the mirror,

And I looked.

Half in dream, I peered and saw myself.

My mind transcended the glass:

 

Someone peering back at me,

Someone old.

Familiar but foreign,

Comforting but startling,

The eyes were the same:

Sadder, more tired, more intelligent,

But mine.

 

I saw myself seeing myself,

And I shivered.

 

Child-thin body staring at womanly curves,

Tangled locks echoing graying ones.

What etched those wrinkles in my face?

What lessons sculpted wisdom in my eyes?

 

I don’t remember returning to bed,

But I must have.

I awoke the next morning

And I was still a little girl.

 

Now, the moonlight invites me.

It lights the night,

A friend.

 

What does it want?

What does it know?

How many eons of time in its glow?

 

In the mirror, it bathes my

My gray locks in misty aura.

My wrinkled brow

Speaks of hardship and victory,

Of disappointment and loss,

Of survival.

 

The gossamer light cuts through the mask.

I slip behind the glass to find, perplexed,

Entranced, a little girl of eight,

Staring back at me like maybe I’m a mother

Or a savior or a ghost.

 

Like somehow I have answers.

 

But instead I bring more questions.

How can I possibly have been that small,

That young, that naïve, that creative?

How could I ever have had that much confidence and energy,

And why on Earth would any of us

Trade it all

For wisdom?

***

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 (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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