Tag Archives: Short Fiction

Neighbors #writephoto

Photo by KL Caley

I was walking down a residential section of the city when I stopped to look at the two doors.  I smiled and gave the doors a tip of my black hat.  It was possible I found my man.

Or whatever you call them.

A man walked out of the well-lit Number 4, stole a frightened glance at the darkened Number 2, then started to walk away.

“Sir, one moment,” I said.

The guy jumped.  Then spun around.  I could see beads of sweat appear on his forehead.  People often don’t see me, so that he walked past me without a second glance isn’t surprising, but that frightened reaction, well….

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Sometimes You Just Have to Know Where to Stand

The man had “Art Critic” written all over his face.

He frowned, took a step to the side and squinted.

Mag had to laugh.  He reminded her of that governor who the ex had entertained a few years ago, the one who most likely never drank anything except for Bud and yet pretended to be a connoisseur of fine Bordeaux.  Where was he from, Alabama?  Texas?  No matter.  His expressions were just priceless as he twirled and sniffed the glass he obviously felt was oversized.  He then held the glass up to the light before he almost choked on the huge gulp he downed.  He pretended to love it, but it was obvious he hated every drop.

The art critic’s expressions were even more obvious.

She sighed.

Well, she’d have to rescue this one since he was most likely going to give her a zero-star review in the Times.

“Excuse me, sir.”

He looked her way.

“I believe that you are supposed to stand here.  You know, right on this star.”

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Bridge #writephoto

Photo by KL Caley

“Tom!”

The boy jumped then turned sheepishly towards the voice.

“What are you doing there, young Tom?”

Tom looked down at his feet, as if whipped by the stern words.

“Wasting time again, aren’t you?”

He glanced up at the lady and was surprised to see a smile.

He nodded.

The lady, Anne, moved next to Tom, put her hands on the battlements and stared out.

“It’s just, just, my Lady, it’s just that I wish I could go over there.”  He nodded his head outward.  “I wish I could cross that bridge and go into the village.  I want to see what they are up to.  I want to find children my own age to play with.”

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Stamps #writephoto

Stamps – Image by KL Caley

Although I guess I had always known, it was really at her funeral that I realized how different Mom was from her younger siblings.  Looking down the row of mourners, I thought she might have been even more different from hers than I was from my own younger siblings.

It was brought home even more when I overheard Uncle Pat talking to Aunt Ann at the wake.  I don’t remember everything, but the way Ann said, “She was so much like our mother in oh so many ways,” that struck me.  Pat nudged her after that statement and tilted his head towards me. 

They changed the subject.

Why? What was it about her?

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The Washerwoman

(This story appears in my book, Seasons of Imagination. An earlier version was posted here years ago.)

“Careful, we don’t really need a drink now, do we? Gotta pay more attention.”

Stan stood shivering with delayed reaction as he watched the raging river flow by just below his feet. A week of unusually warm temperatures and pouring rain had melted most of the remaining snow creating a torrent in place of the usual babbling stream.

“They don’t call it ‘mud season’ for nothing,” Stan said out loud as his attention was drawn to the slick spot that had almost tipped him into the rushing water. The bank had eroded into the river taking a good chunk of the path with it. The mud around the cave-in made this collapse doubly dangerous. He’d only just caught his balance in time, his momentum carrying him to the edge of the void.

The reaction of his near fall had shaken him more than he cared to admit so he stood watching the water, waiting until his nerves had settled down. Mount Nodbadigat, which appeared to rise directly out of the river, caught his attention.  He had seen this small mountain a thousand times but never noticed its unique shape. It looked like something but he just couldn’t put his finger on it. Trying to puzzle it out he unconsciously took his jacket off and tied it around his waist. Feeling calmer, Stan shrugged his shoulders and turned down the path away from the river and mountain.

The conditions were perfect for an early spring hike. Technically it would still be winter for a few more days, but how often does New Hampshire see 70 degree weather in the middle of March? Stan had played hooky from work to get out and walk off some of his cabin fever. He loved to see the seasons change and it wasn’t often he got a chance to walk in Nodbadigat State Park quite this early. He was glad he did, for it was beautiful, a monochromatic masterpiece built largely of browns and grays. The pines supplied splashes of green, but it was a dark green that tended almost to black in the distance. Many of the trees were beginning to bud and some shoots were sprouting, all of which added spice and accents to the stark and dramatic play of dark trunks and golden sunlight.

Stan stopped.

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Random Rambling About (My) Short Stories…

I am in the editing stage of a book of short stories.  This will be different from my other two books of short fiction in a number of ways.  The other two were both pretty eclectic, while this is all science fiction.  Seasons of Imagination had 36 stories and totaled about 71K words.  Embers had 22 stories and totaled about 90K words.  This book will only have 11 stories and be close to 75K words, so the average story length, having jumped for Embers, has jumped again.

I like short stories.  I like to read them, and I like to write them.  Although I like the novels and longer novellas I put out, I think my short stories (and short novellas) as given in these three collections are my best works of fiction.  I know this format is not the best if trying to sell books, but…  Both Seasons of Imagination and Embers have sold better than The Old Mill or The Haley Branch and much, much better than my two fantasy novellas, so…  They also each have almost as many reviews (or at least stars) as those three put together.

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Community #writephoto

Community – Image by KL Caley

Notice to all staff members,

We at Corporation believe in Community!  To help create a better sense of community and show the importance of Diversity within Corporation, you are invited to watch the mandatory hour long video on Community.  The lovable animated toys will help you appreciate your coworkers as we make Corporation a better place for all!

HR – Creating a Better Work Environment Through a Better You!

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Tree Man #writephoto

Tree Man – Image by Willowdot21

We called him “The Tree Man”.

I used to beg Mom to pass by the Tree Man’s house all of the time, even though I knew it was many miles out of the way.

Sometimes she humored me and we took that detour.

The house was lost in a jungle of overgrown underbrush and grass gone wild.  All of this was in the shadows of five giant, ancient trees.

Around the yard he had planted strange sculpture carved from tree trunks.  There were several up front with a “For Sale” sign, but most of them hid and creeped through his semi-suburban, semi-rural forest.  Over the years I don’t think one of the “For Sale” sculptures were changed, neither a new one added nor an old one sold.

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Arch #writephoto (repost)

Photo by Sue Vincent

Note – I originally posted this for Sue Vincent‘s writephoto challenge almost exactly 3 years ago, on the 8th of March, 2018. With Sue unable to post new challenges, some of us have been bringing back some old ones to show our appreciation for her inspiration.

No color or chroma reaches my night-dead eye.  The sun sets over the ruined cathedral.  And there is me, awake again, hanging in the middle, with the ghosts of the past on one side and the shadows of the future on the other, dangling between history and destiny, on this arch of time.

The hollow, no longer hallow, walls stretch above me, the marble has been stripped away, revealing broken brick and rubble.

Entering through my secret door, I taste the evening, taste her, taste the world, the world of the everlasting Now.

I walk through the cathedral, once the place of long forgotten saints and archbishops, of king and peasant long turned to dust.  I can still see their faces on the crumbling walls.

How the mighty have fallen, the holy rotted. 

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It’s Cold Outside

Rob paused at the door.  Pa had gone into his special grove, as he did most days.  Sometimes he’d just go in, whisper a few words, and then quickly catch up to Rob.  Other times he might spend a half an hour or more, silently staring at the ground and that little bit of granite.  Or that is what he used to do.  Rob hadn’t followed him back in there in a few years, at least since he was 10.  Now almost 13, he knew better than disturb Pa in his special place.

Satisfied that Pa wasn’t right behind him, Rob put the numbers into the cipher lock. 

Pa had built the little three-room entryway ages ago, just after the Collapse, but over the years, Rob had helped him flesh it out. 

Still not seeing Pa, he let the door shut and lock.  Nobody had ever tried to break in, at least not that he knew of, but there were crazies out there and there would be Hell to pay if Pa found the door open.

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