Tag Archives: short story

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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Island #writephoto

Island – Image by KL Caley

“Avast, Matey!”

“Come on, Tom…”

“Captain Tom!”

“…Captain Tom, your honor, sir, I know Matt has been getting pretty fat lately and must out-mass an elephant by now, but isn’t calling him “vast” a little mean spirited?  I mean, just asking…”

“Shut up Kyle.  OK, let’s launch the ship…”

“The SS Sinker.”

“…The Dread Pirate Ship Black Skull!”

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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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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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Deeper #writephoto

Photo by Sue Vincent

It had been a hard day.  I went straight to my room and flopped down on the bed.  I didn’t even take off my jacket.

Deeper and deeper into the abyss. 

I didn’t try to sleep, just stared at the ceiling seeing nothing.

Black, only black.

My cell rang.

Swirling water, a whirlpool, sucking me down.

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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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Derelict (Re-Post) #writephoto

Photo by Sue Vincent

This was written for Sue Vincent’s writephoto challenge on May 25, 2017. As Sue is taking time off of posting new challenges, Willow has had the great idea to re-post old stories created for the challenge.

I crested a small ridge and the countryside became familiar.  It wasn’t anything that could be seen, not any feature or landmark, it had to do with the scent of the air, the feel under my feet and the quality of the sunlight.  I inhaled deeply and knew that I was almost home.

I was but a child when I was ripped from my parents’ arms and given an unbalanced spear and loose fitting leather cap.  I was told to kill or be killed, that king and country depended on me and my fellow farm hands that were rounded up to be shipped to distant lands to fight for noble arguments none of us understood.

Within weeks I was the only person from my village left alive.  Within months there was no other surviving commoner from within day’s walk of my childhood home.  The local lord, who had taken me from my fields, died within the first year.  His lord, a baron, was dead within three.  Ten years of constant battle and we had taken the enemy’s capital.  Another five and I was sent home, dressed in fine silks and fine mail, a bag of gold and silver at my hip and another tied to my saddle.

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Stones (repost) #writephoto

Photo by Sue Vincent

(This was originally posted on April 6, 2017 as part of Sue Vincent’s writephoto challenge)

“See here,” wise Beandor said to his young pupil, Therry, “This arch, though appearing so weak, is very strong.  Although the walls may crumble, unless the keystone is disturbed, the arch will stand and bear weight.”

Beandor used his staff to tap the keystone of the arch.

“This arch has allowed people into this temple for over a thousand years, protecting our town of Kernsh from every attack.  Look at this ancient place, overlooking the mighty ocean, it appears weak, and yet it is so strong, like our people.  Our fair country, Aladia, seems fragile, and yet it is just these points that keep it whole.”

Therry studied the arch.

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