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Monthly Short Story Contest > April is not for Foolish Jokes...lets get serious here

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message 1: by Christene (last edited Mar 27, 2018 04:56AM) (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments A big hello there to all of you great Writers,

With the year fast flying past we are already at April…and that’s no April Fool’s Day prank.

Time to put on your thinking caps and dig into the archive of your memories: to write a first person story about the most memorable person in your life: this can be a teacher, relative, friend etc. Tell us about a specific episode that springs into your mind and why or how it will stay with you always.

3 Elements to be included in your story:
• This is your own secret hero/heroine that you can’t or haven’t shared with anyone
• A real life story or at least make me think it is true to your life
• A sense that prompts you to remember this episode is it a song, word, perfume, taste or even a hug?

Setting – In your earlier childhood pre-teen years anywhere in the world.

Plot – your choice

Length: 500 to 1,000 Words

Submission deadline: Midnight Friday 27th April 2018.

Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Crime, Comedy, Romance, or a mixture (BASICALLY, anything but erotica)

Purpose -
Some fiction writers are looking to win a short story contest, keeping in touch with making deadlines, and/or simply sharpening the skill of writing fiction. The main purpose of this contest is to sharpen plot and character skills, collect your own short stories, receive good feedback, make a good connection with other writers, and take a short break from your current novel to get a fresh view when you return to it.

Rules and Directions -
* Type in English - a minimum of 500 words; a maximum of 1,000 words; no erotica, no profanity.

* Post your title, by line, and word count total in the first line of your story posting.


* ONE entry per person. It must be writer's original work, a final revision, and a new piece of writing. Please do not delete and re-post since this becomes confusing to the readers. Try to post your final revision.

Judging: The story will be judged on creativity, proper grammar, good punctuation, and overall good quality for story.

Voting: Please vote for first, second, and third place. Votes are tallied as follows:
First place: 3 points
Second Place: 2 points
Third Place: 1 point

You are not allowed to vote for yourself. If posting this month, you MUST vote, in order for your story to remain eligible.

Please send your votes to me c/- cbrittonjones@hotmail.com

Contest opens 1st April, 2018 and closes on 27th April, 2018.

Entries must be submitted by midnight on 04/27/2018. Voting will begin at 12:01am on 04/28/2018 and will close at midnight on 04/30/18. All times are Eastern Standard Time. Winners will be announced 05/01/2018

message 2: by Lynette (new)

Lynette White (lynettewhite) | 309 comments oh my. I have so many heroes. It is going to hard to pick just one.

message 3: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments One Hundred Apple Boxes 945 words

In 1950, I was eight years old. In Sonoma County where I grew up, apples provided the county’s major industry. My mother worked in an apple-processing plant while Daddy worked as a carpenter.

Our parents felt that even young children should be industrious. Therefore, in addition to babysitting me, my teenage sister and brother worked in the apple orchards, picking up apples for five cents a box. On a good day, they earned $5.00 to $10.00. With their earnings, they bought their own school clothes in the fall.

In spite of my age, Daddy thought it unreasonable that I should play all day when there was work to be done. He suggested that I pick up ten boxes of apples each day and earn 50 cents.

Most days, I brought my dolls to the apple orchard and spent many hours stacking apple boxes on end to make my house.

Sticks and leaves and clumps of dirt were imaginary plates and dishes. Being a spoiled and willful child, many days I played with my dolls late into the afternoon and my sister’s reproach in mid-afternoon fell on deaf ears. Day after day, I fell short of Daddy’s expectations and I returned home without completing my assigned task.

My parents believed in the biblical admonition, spare the rod and spoil the child, but it was rarely required in our house. One night, Daddy told me if I didn’t meet my work quota of ten boxes the next day, I would get a spanking.

As I had no recollection of Daddy ever spanking me before, his threat was met with total disbelief.

The next day, my sister’s scolding was to no avail and I dawdled at my work. Ignoring Daddy’s warning, I played until time to go home. By 5:00 P.M., I had only three or four boxes of apples to my credit.

When we returned home that evening, there was no mention of my disobedience to Mama or Daddy. I began to play, confident that my assessment had been correct and Daddy had no intention of following through on his threat. So much for that problem...

In those days, we didn’t get many toys from a store. Certainly none came with a sound chip and or an interactive computer screen attached. With imagination born of necessity, we created our own play things. On this particular evening, I found an empty oatmeal box and with strings attached long enough to hang around my neck, I had a fine drum. A couple of long sticks from the yard became the drumsticks

Pounding my way around the house with my new toy, I chanced to pass Daddy. He towered over me as I marched along with my drum. “Did you do as I said and pick up your ten boxes of apples today?” Daddy’s serious expression stopped my drumming.

“No. I forgot.”

“Then, I’m sorry, but you disobeyed me. I warned you that you’d get a spanking if you didn’t mind.” He took one of my drumsticks and applied it to my ‘seat of knowledge’. (Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. Proverbs 13:24 NIV )

Daddy definitely loved on me that day. Using my own toy against me was far greater humiliation than the spanking. With the absolute idiocy of childish logic, I screamed, “You’ll see. Tomorrow, I’ll pick up 100 boxes.” That would show him!

I worked all the next day and was nearly exhausted by quitting time. My sister helped me late in the afternoon and together, we finished the last fifteen boxes to complete my goal of 100 boxes, an astonishing accomplishment for an 8-year-old. I had earned $5.00 for my efforts!

Victory! Wouldn’t Daddy be sorry? Wouldn’t he regret punishing me? Hadn’t I shown him? Thus, thought the child, yet to learn the lesson he was trying to teach me.

Oh, I remember how, with such smugness and indignation, I announced at the dinner table that night, “I picked up 100 boxes of apples today. So, there.”

Did I expect Daddy to fall down in shock and remorse, apologize and vow to never again accuse me of being lazy? Maybe. He replied, “I knew you could do it. Now, I expect you to do that every day.”

I recall this event so clearly, but I can’t recall my response. Disbelief? Shock? Tears? How my pride had backfired. Now, would I have to complete this backbreaking task every day? (Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 NIV)

Of course, Daddy relented. “You did great, honey, but I think ten boxes every day is enough for a little girl.”

Every day thereafter, I brought my dolls to the apple field. I built houses out of apple boxes and made dishes out of clumps of dirt and leaves. However, I was careful to pick up the required ten boxes of apples before the day ended.

Daddy taught me a hard lesson that day, one I never forgot. He never again challenged my ability to live up to his expectations or my own. I learned that day about obedience and work ethics and how pride can make us do things we soon regret. All it took was a hot day in an apple orchard, 100 boxes of apples, an oatmeal box, and a stick. That day, Daddy’s lesson was the first of many that developed my character and my work ethics.

(Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

message 4: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Elaine, that is a wonderful story well told, and a lovely way to start the month.

message 5: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Thanks, Rebecca. Glad you enjoyed it.

message 6: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Elaine,well done.. You pulled it together nicely.

message 7: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Its' funny how small events can stick in your mind and the details of the rest of your life are pretty much forgotten. But this one sticks in my head. LOL

message 8: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 580 comments Mod
Elaine, I think you have touched on some principles of discipline that are not used enough anymore. Enjoyed the story.

message 9: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Congratulations Elaine on being the first to submit a story; I shall read it later when all are submitted as is my usual habit, that seems to get my head in the right place for comments;...well done dear lady!...Lynette is already thinking about a plot I can almost hear the wheels turning over here...and then there is Terry's interested also this is shaping up to be some very good reads for this month.

message 10: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments I just completed reviewing a book on Amazon. There is a field on the review page where you can add a link so I added the link to "The Power of Forgiveness (A Collection of Short Stories)". Suggestion: add a review and populate the link field to your book or another book of your choosing.

message 11: by Todd (new)

Todd Folstad | 102 comments I apologize for the long absence, but I'M BAAAACCCKKKKKK!!! To many bits of drama and family stuff to get into here - I'm getting back to some form of full health and will be more actively engaged again - damn it feels good to be back. I've been watching from the sidelines and reading the stories for the past few months - some very excellent offerings. I'll be posting my return shortly.

message 12: by Todd (new)

Todd Folstad | 102 comments Mario and Me – by Todd Folstad – 890 words

Most folks that know me know that my life is driven by two major forces, writing and singing, though the former less so than the latter. I’ve been chronicling items and stories for many, many years, but I’ve been singing since probably before I could even speak. Odd melodies would form from the sounds that came out of my young mouth, less intelligible than the word sounds that formed there, but often, they were first. It does not come as any kind of surprise to me than my first heroes were not police, or firemen, or athletes, but those disembodied voices that rang out from the jukebox at the bowling alley that my father managed when I was a child. My first big favorite hit of the day was a Bobby Goldsboro gem titled, Honey. I still know and can sing every word and to this day I get misty eyed when the title character dies in the song. I know that somewhere down the road I should have married together my two great loves and become a songwriter or at least a lyricist, but alas, I’m just another interpreter of other people’s songs.

Don’t get me wrong, I do it quite well. I’ve been singing for the better part of 50 years in some choir, ensemble or solo endeavor and I’ve made a few dollars at weddings, funerals, mall openings, city functions, sporting events and even in the world of opera. That’s right sports fans I even studied opera for a time. I’m no Metropolitan ready vocalist, but I do have a strong voice with good character and a wide range, which is a useful tool to have in the singing world.

The reason I tell this opening is to give you some background into my life and why the person I’m about to tell you of has such importance in it, though the person never knew and never will. The first time I ever saw this person was on a late night TV movie back in the 70’s.

I lived in northern Minnesota at the time, less than 100 miles from the Canadian border, so we watched a lot of programming from Canada on the CBC Broadcasting Network. The movie was from 1956 called “Serenade”, staring Mario Lanza. I’d never seen the film or heard of the man by that point of my life. I was enraptured.

Something else you need to know about me, in 1977-78, we had moved to Blackduck, Minnesota, Chicago, Illinois, due my father looking for something more than the corporate world and a better place to raise his family. I was less than thrilled. I was playing city league football in Chicago with ex-professional players for coaches and learning the game exceptionally well. I was sure that my playing days were over heading into the great white north. In 7th grade, I was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed in at 175 pounds – I was a handful for even the most seasoned senior high-school player. So this move was a step backwards for me and I needed new avenues, so back to the story.

Watching Mario come on-screen, big and bronzed, looking every bit as menacing as any pro linebacker, suddenly made singing look okay, not quite cool yet, but not nerdy. If he could do this, maybe it wasn’t so bad. As I watched that film, I became entranced by the overall movement in the film, the acting, the other actors and singers, but mostly by Lanza. When he sang Torna a Surriento (Return to Sorriento), WOW! I knew that my second stop on Monday morning, after the locker room, would be to see if I could audition for choir.

I auditioned and made it on my first try. I started in the senior choir which was not easy to do for a non-singer, but probably had a bit to do with the fact that I did read music as I played the saxophone. Within my first year I made it into the 3rd men’s quartet and even went to state competition where we took a bronze. After that, it was 1st quartet for the rest of my time and nothing but gold. Football went much the same, we went to state in my sophomore and senior seasons, going undefeated in my senior year, but losing in the state quarterfinals.

My travels took me to the University of Minnesota @ Duluth, where I started for the Bulldogs at right guard and sang in their varsity choir (not the top group as football was my ticket to school). I still listened to music that most of my teammates considered “long-haired” (classical / opera), but it didn’t bother me, that is where I found myself and my peace. I’ve since built a complete collection of the works of Mario Lanza. It’s taken me many years to do, but I have most of his releases on CD’s, a few on vinyl and all of his films. Most of my friends can’t understand why Lanza, why not Pavarotti or Caruso. I just smile and tell them that only Mario and I know of those long nights on the CBC in northern Minnesota and even though he was long gone, he was there with me and I was there with him.

message 13: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Such a nice memory and so well shared with the group. Good for you that you followed your dream. Well done.

message 14: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Welcome back Todd its good to see you here

message 15: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 580 comments Mod
Greetings Todd. I am fairly new here. Hoping to learn a thing or two about writing from all of you. I would have loved to be in my HS band but just didn't have the right connections. Good it worked out for you. Loved your interesting story.

message 16: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Dang! I just finished my story, but I totally missed that it was supposed to be pre-teen. Oh well, I'm out this month.

message 17: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Would love to read your story Rebecca...Just a thought...can you revise and adapt it to a memory in time, one looking back on those earlier years maybe?

message 18: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 580 comments Mod
by terry turner 831 words

My story is not one I like to think about too often. Some of it I would like to forget as much of it was painful but also laced with a lot of love. I find it impossible to erase the bad without destroying the whole and those endearing memories.

In the 40’s and 50’s life was a bit different than today in regard to child rearing. Corporal punishment was widely accepted as a way to keep children in line. Even today I hold to the belief that a spanking is the best way to teach a child as long as it is followed up with love and an explanation for the purpose of the spanking.

Having said that, there is such a thing as “taking it too far”. Many times my father didn’t know when enough was enough. Looking back on our family life so long ago I can not help but think my father was simply a product of his upbringing. His father may have disciplined him that way or maybe even worse. I don’t know because he and I did not talk much when I was growing up. Now days there is more awareness and education about parenting; which is a good thing but it came too late for us kids in the 50’s.

I don’t believe I would have made it had it not been for my older brother. He often took the blame for my slip-ups, purposely diverting the wrath of the rod away from me. I realized years later that was his way of showing his love.

When this group was asked to write a story about a childhood hero, my older brother was the first person that came to mind. The story centers around the railroad tracks that ran through the neighborhood in our little town of Cardiff, Mississippi in 1956.

The Mississippi Delta trains that passed through daily presented a hazard for animals running loose and small children. There was one part of the tracks that was considered especially dangerous where the rails ran through a narrow gap that was cut through a nearby hill. Without much room on either side of the tracks to maneuver, anything caught in the gap when a train came along would be in serious trouble.

We were told by the adults never to go into the gap; and especially beyond where the rails traveled through the woods and close to an occasional strip pit.

The older boys concocted a tale in an effort to keep us small tots away, about monsters that lay in wait for anyone who dare pass through the gap. I must admit, through child eyes, the landscape beyond the gap did seem darker; the thunderstorms more severe; the fog a little denser. It was years before I realized the untruth of that story.  But even then it was hard to shake off that terrible feeling that filled me with dread. When the older boys proclaimed they saw something evil moving through the trees beyond the gap, I saw it too. It was a place I never wanted to go. During the night, from a nightmare cry, my older brother held me. He made it okay and I felt safe.
One day, a few years later as a teenager, I stood near the tracks with my older brother as we both laughed when I recounted that lie from those early years. 

He was tall and lanky; lolling lazily against the railroad crossing sign at the edge of our modest one acre homestead; looking like one of those Greek gods you read about in school; tanned skin with long blonde hair shimmering in the sunlight.
Shirtless, the beads of sweat rolled over his finely tuned muscles.  My older brother was all I ever hoped to be.

He took the straw he'd been chewing on from his mouth as he turned to look down the railroad tracks beyond the gap. 
I thought he had spotted something interesting in the distance for a moment but then realized he was just thinking; his mind far far away.

"Hey, what you thinking?"

Still looking down the tracks, he seemed suspended in time as I think back on that day. I wondered if he had heard my question but finally I heard him whisper, "I`m thinking about finding out where these rails lead to and what is beyond the gap."

Smiling I said, "Come on, let’s head to the house. It’s about time for supper. Mama will be mad if we are late."

Without looking in my direction he said, "Go ahead, I'll be there shortly."

It has been 47 years since I last saw him.  I think about my hero every time the road I travel crosses railroad tracks. I know that childhood story that scared me so many years ago was not true but every day since, I have wondered what monstrous place beyond that gap took my brother away.

message 19: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Christene, I wish it was appropriate for make it looking back. I do reference a younger version of the character, so maybe I will post it and leave it to the readers to decide if it adheres to the rules closely enough :-)

message 20: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments She Talked with Angels (998 words)

“Here we are,” Christopher said unnecessarily as he pulled to the curb.

The house was a typical 1950’s vintage California bungalow with sunny yellow stucco, red tiled roof, arched windows and a wide porch. The yard immaculate.

Christopher rang the doorbell while I tried to think of a plausible reason to turn and run. Too late. A tiny Latina woman I assumed was Marie opened the door and embraced my friend.

“Christopher, you naughty boy, you’re early.”

Not waiting for a reply, she took my hands and studied me. “Oh, yes, I see we have much to talk about.”

Again, not waiting for a response, she turned back to Christopher, “Be a good boy and sit here on the porch while we get to know one another.”

Christopher shot me an inquiring glance to see if I was good with that plan. When I nodded, he settled in the old-fashioned swing, pulled his baseball cap over his eyes and said, “I’ll just take a little nap.”

Marie led me into her home, which was as immaculate as the yard. We sat at the kitchen table, an original mid-century chrome and Formica beauty with a white bloom floating in a bowl in the center. The scent of gardenias still brings back memories of that day.

She looked me steadily until I began to feel uncomfortable. Finally, she patted my hand and said, “I’m glad you didn’t go through with it.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m glad you didn’t take your life. That never solves anything.”

I gasped, “How did you…? I never told Christopher.”

“Of course, you didn’t, dear.”

“I don’t understand. How did you know?”

“It’s written in your heart.” Her answer didn’t tell me a thing, but before I could question her further, she, said, “Now, tell me, why are you here?”

“I’m miserable and Christopher said you could help, but I don’t really believe in all this mysticism stuff.”

Marie’s eyes crinkled with merriment. This is about love, not mysticism. God loves His children and sends angels to help them. I’m merely their assistant.”

“Angels?” What had Christopher gotten me into? “Is that a joke?”

“Of course not. Angels are everywhere.”

I was skeptical, but since I was there, what the heck. She had me place my chair in front of the bare kitchen wall, so, as she claimed, she would be better able to communicate with the angels who, apparently, hung out in her kitchen. Maybe they were the ones who kept it clean. If that were the case, I had to figure out a way to get them to come to my house.

Once I was positioned to her satisfaction, she said, “There now! Let’s see what they have to say.

I watched as a beautiful calm came over her face, erasing the decades. She continued to look at the wall as though there was a wonderful movie playing. I don’t know why, but as I watched her, I began to feel better about my life than I had in months. Oddly, I began to believe in angels… angels who cared about me.

After several minutes she broke the silence saying, “You will come through this. You are stronger than you think.”

As I fumed to myself about not wanting to have to be strong any more, Marie fell silent once more. She nodded her head and shifted her gaze from the wall to meet my eyes. “Did your parents ever tell you that you were an accident?”

“What? No! I was planned.”

“You are much younger than your sibling, yes?”


“Your parents tried for more children after he was born, and finally a little girl was conceived.”


“No. Sandy or Sandra.”

“Yes, they almost named me Sandy,” I said, wondering how she could possibly know this. Maybe there really was something to this angel thing.

“No, there was a miscarriage very early. They didn’t know their baby was a girl, but they sensed it. She would have been Sandy.”
This was something I never expected to hear, yet oddly, it caused some pieces of my life to fall into place.

Marie returned her gaze to the wall and watched the images visible only to her for a few moments longer before returning her attention to me.

“Is there someone new in your life?”

When I assured her there wasn’t, she said, “Good.”

“Why is that good.”

“Because there will be. There is someone with a very old soul who is waiting for you to be ready for him. He doesn’t know it yet, though.” She watched the wall a bit more, then added. “Oh, I see. You haven’t met, but you will when the time is right.”

“Great! I’m trying to figure out how to cope with the end of one relationship and you’re telling me to expect a new one?”

“I just pass along the things the angels feel you need to know. They think it’s important for you know you will meet him once you have healed. God will let you know when it’s time.”

She shrugged her shoulders in response to my question, “How?”

“When God wants you to know something, He has a way of making sure you get His message.”

I must admit, I left feeling renewed. I never got the chance to visit with Marie again because she died not too long after our meeting. I know she went joyfully into the next world, but she left a hole in this one. I’m grateful to the tiny, peculiar woman who helped me to find light in the darkness.

As for the message from God about the old soul I was intended to meet; that happened. I was taking a guest on a tour of the plant where I worked when I felt as though I was being pushed from behind, a message loud and clear in my head, “This is the one.” I argued for a while, but finally relented. We’ve been married for nearly 20 years.

message 21: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments I am so glad you did post your story Rebecca I am looking forward to reading it soon...and Terry I am so impressed how your writing has come ahead in leaps and bounds in the past year its such a joy to see. Four great stories already this groups participation is certainly heartfelt.

message 22: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 580 comments Mod
Rebecca wrote: "She Talked with Angels
Excellent story Rebecca. I enjoyed every word. Thanks for sharing. T....

message 23: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 580 comments Mod
Thanks for the encouragement. I think these monthly challenges are helping.

message 24: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Thank you Christene and Terry. I agree with Christene, Terry. You've really grown in your writing. This group is a great way to make continuous improvements.

message 25: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments Sister's Accident. Word Count: 744
Author: Patricia Fuqua Lovett

I cringed as I thought about writing this story. Although buried in the recesses of my overactive mind and sharing it went against my will, I thought it about time. I thought that it would be cathartic much like releasing a butterfly into the wild, a balloon into the atmosphere or a dove into symbolic yonder. And so it begins.

Cold weather and the dead of winter often time remind me of the accident my sister experienced. When I was 8 or 9 years old and my sister, who is 15 months older, spent an unforgettable weekend with our paternal grandmother, Mary. Dad, a widower, was self-employed and worked long hours so frequently we stayed overnight with our grandmother. During the winter months, it was typical for the three of us to huddle in grandmother’s cozy bedroom and huddle around her pot belly stove. She kept it filled with seasoned wood and chunks of coal. If the unit got too hot, she’d adjust the damper located in the front door of the stove.

After a restful night, I awaken to the smells of breakfast wonderment. What greeted us was fresh hot biscuits, sausage patties, grits, and cinnamon stewed apple slices. As an ode to the Caribbean God of the Java bean, Grandmother’s breakfast was not complete until she’d slurped down a tall cup of black coffee. Her charges not to be forgotten, she made sure we had ample amounts of fresh milk and citrus juice.

During breakfast, on this albeit ordinary morning, she announced that she had errands to run. She needed to drop bills off at the post office, buy a few grocery items and make a trip to the in-town five and dime store to make some other purchases. She instructed us to close the stove’s damper if we went next-door to visit our aunt and uncle. She pretty much knew that we would go there because she didn’t have a television, neither did we and that was a luxury we enjoyed when we left the countryside. We thoroughly enjoyed watching cowboy movies, funny clown shows or sappy family sagas. It wasn’t something we did every day on the farm where we lived so we were not about to miss out on a good Wagon Train reel.

After cleaning the breakfast dishes, my sister and I decided to walk over to Aunt Nellie and Uncle Dave’s house. I reminded Mimi that we had to close the stove’s damper, which was something we’d not done before. We bravely went to my grandmother’s room and once there Mimi decided that the stove was too hot just to close the damper. So she opened the metal disc located on top of the stove that was used to push wood and coal down into the belly of the stove. She poured water down the opening that my grandmother kept on top of the stove. The water immediately vaporized, and the resulting steam was forced back up onto my sister’s face. She jumped back but not quick enough to evade all the volcanic-like eruption.

As painful as that experience was, we bravely made our way over to my aunt and uncle’s house took a seat and began to watch our show. Of course, neither one of us can remember what show was featured. My aunt who worked at the local hospital immediately noticed that my sister’s face was beet red and ask what had happened. After we relayed the story, she immediately telephoned my dad who rushed over and took my sister to the hospital. There they discovered that she had sustained severe burns mostly on her tender cheeks and forehead. The doctor assured my dad that overtime and following his instructions her face would heal and she would have a healthy skin tone and coloration.

As soon as my grandmother heard the news, she rushed to the hospital and assessed my sister’s condition. We didn’t know it, at the time, but my grandmother knew a lady in the community who supposedly talked fire out of burn wounds. She summoned the lady to come to her house to administer her version of healing.

I saw my sister go through the painful healing process and it took several weeks for the skin to repair itself. Years have passed, but I still question who’s medicine healed my sister: the Healing Woman’s, Ms. Nonie, the well-trained medical doctor’s or was it my family’s prayers and the passing of time.

message 26: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 580 comments Mod
Patricia wrote: "Sister's Accident.
Great story Patricia. Glad it was not more serious.

message 27: by Mirta (new)

Mirta Oliva (mirtaoliva) | 362 comments Heartfelt stories... all of them great:
1. Elaine: One Hundred Apple Boxes
2. Todd: Mario and Me
3. Terry: Beyond the Gap
4. Rebecca; She Talked With Angels
5. Patricia: Sister's Accident

message 28: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments TERRY wrote: "Patricia wrote: "Sister's Accident.
Great story Patricia. Glad it was not more serious."

Thanks, Terry. She is a beautiful woman who bears no signs of her childhood accident.

message 29: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Five super stories so far that is so great to see... Elaine: One Hundred Apple Boxes...Todd: Mario and Me...Terry: Beyond the Gap...Rebecca; She Talked With Angels...Patricia: Sister's Accident

message 30: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake Ambushed by absence

There are but few memories of the eight years I knew him. One day everything was as it should be. Then at night I woke, hearing a knocking at the door. A policeman. ‘Go back to bed’. I didn’t sleep. Then not long before dawn, people arriving – my parents’ closest friends, up from London. I could sense something was not right, and my mother told me. “Daddy’s not going to be coming home …”

Somehow this strong man, twenty years in the army, who fought in North Africa, Italy, and Germany, who witnessed the liberation of Belsen concentration camp, died on a roadside when his heart simply gave out.

Ambushed by absence, somehow we move forward. In our case, like many in those days, by never speaking of him, or only a little. Always fearful of upset, of emotion exposed too raw. For some thirty years we never spoke of him, except for three or four funny stories my mother would recount. Perhaps she wanted us to pick up the thread and ask about him. But without the words, without a lead to show us the way, we could not.

Considered too young to be allowed to the funeral, his passing was both real and unreal. I would look for him sometimes. A neighbour took me to football matches, and I would spend time looking through the crowd, hopeful of seeing him, but knowing also it was a forlorn hope. Then I would construct fantasies about him being called back into the army, sent on secret missions, so secret not even the family could know. Grief had been side-lined, and closure a concept not yet invented.

Memories are always part reconstructions. Sense impressions held in a framework of connections to sound, colour, smell, affection, time - and then conjured up, often with a good helping of imagination. False connections are made. Second-hand accounts fuse into one’s own recollections. Fragments of dreams can be woven in, or previous imaginings. And in my case, the foundation material comes from the mind of a child. In children, imagination and feeling overwhelm the limited experience we have as we encode our memories.

And yet – I do have scattered memories I wish to trust.

Every morning he was the first to wake. I was usually the second. Or sometimes, lying awake, waiting for him to move. He would prepare the house for the family. Light the boiler and start a fire in the hearth. I remember shivering on cold mornings as he showed me how to do this, rolling newspaper to start the fire, place kindling and coals; the smell of the matches and the smoke as the fire took.

Then he would polish the shoes for the whole house. As a military man, unpolished shoes were unthinkable! He showed me what I have believed ever since to be the correct technique. It was something I always did until I discovered in my college days the insouciant cool of scruffy footwear.

Every morning he would bring my mother tea in bed, a duty I later took over. I remember one time while the kettle boiled, he carried me to the bottom of the garden. I must have been about four years old, and he held me high, so my head was slightly above his. My left hand held onto the back of his neck. It was a misty morning, chill, and must have been springtime. We could barely make out the woods beyond, and my father pointed in the direction of the birds he heard singing through the mist. We heard the first cuckoo of the year, as he said, and he explained about where cuckoos lay their eggs, and I was angry with the cuckoos.

Another early morning, I awoke to the sound of hammering. My father was making a wooden slide for my sister’s birthday. It would become a feature in our garden, and wickedly I would taunt my sister that I slid down it before she ever did.

I have scattered memories of his taking me to football games – he coached the works team. He had risen from lorry driver to transport manager, and even on Saturday would call in to supervise the maintenance of the delivery lorries. I remember him talking with the mechanics, lifting me down into the pit to see underneath the lorries. The smell of the workshop grease, fuel and metal are still with me.

My memories of him, though, are sparse in the year or two before he passed. He changed jobs to manage a petrol station and workshop. He worked long hours, 12 hours a day or more, and I was often on my way to bed as he returned home.

And then – he was gone. I often wonder, what were his expectations, his dreams, his hopes for himself and his family? I have no knowledge of the man as one adult to another, and no way to ask.

I know I have followed in his footsteps in some respect, not least in being the first up and preparing the day for the household. I took an active interest in football almost from the day he died, as if somehow to establish a bond

Yet mostly he remains large in my imagination because of the void he left behind.

And then I think again. The void must have been so much greater for my mother, yet she took on the role of mother and father for her three children. Enduring hardship, refusing social benefits, taking responsibility entirely on her own shoulders, putting money aside so I could go to college.

The power of my father’s absence, the salvaged and unreliable memories, are really a backdrop to the enduring care and unbroken memories I have of the unbreakable parent who remained.

[967 words]

message 31: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake Hi! How is everyone?
Long time no see :-)

message 32: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments Great story!

message 33: by Mirta (new)

Mirta Oliva (mirtaoliva) | 362 comments What a moving, engaging, well written story, Andy! Your vivid memories of childhood helped you appreciate your father for who he was to you and his family. You were blessed and you know it.

message 34: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Welcome back Andy....nice to meet a newish face.

message 35: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake Thanks, Christene - though I'm afraid it's many years since I had a newish face :-)

message 36: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake Mirta wrote: "What a moving, engaging, well written story, Andy! Your vivid memories of childhood helped you appreciate your father for who he was to you and his family. You were blessed and you know it."

Thanks, Mirta!

message 37: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake Patricia wrote: "Great story!"

Thanks, Patricia!

message 38: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Hey, Andy. Back to your tricks, huh? Showing all of us your amazing talent for storytelling. Welcome. And thank you for sharing such a poignant memory with us.

message 39: by Rebecca (last edited Apr 18, 2018 03:16PM) (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Andy, I loved your story. And what a great, underutilized word...insouciant. Very nice.

I'm caught up now. These are good stories. Thank you all for sharing.

message 40: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake Thanks, Elaine.
I've seen the prompts over the past few months but not had the time till now to put pen to paper. This prompt brought a lot of things to mind once I started to reflect on it.
I haven't written much fiction recently - lots of writing for business projects and running around the country to meetings - but hopefully over the next few months I'll be able to get back into the swing of it.

Now i'm looking forward to reading everyone else's stories. I always remember what a friendly and supportive atmosphere there is in this group, and it's good to be back :-)

message 41: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake Rebecca wrote: "Andy, I loved your story. And what a great, underutilized word...insouciant. Very nice.

Thanks Rebecca.
Maybe we should all try to give opportunities to underused words in our writing :-)

message 42: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 580 comments Mod
Andy wrote: "Ambushed by absence
Loved your story Andy. Being a bird and animal lover, I like how you did not explain where the Cuckoo lays it's eggs and wonder why you were angry. Made me think.

message 43: by Elaine (last edited Apr 20, 2018 02:42PM) (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Andy: . It is fun to plug 'interesting' words into some of our writing. 'Insouciant' is a word I used in in my second cat mystery, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer (when Thumper first meets Noe-Noe (Angel). "Her eyes, midnight slits peeking through golden moons. Her sensuous tail coiled 'round her nose, rising and falling in a hypnotizing rhythm, matched the thud of his heart. She was not a gossamer dream, but a lissome feline goddess. She stared down form atop the shelf with total insouciance - a living, breathing challenge to his masterful art of 'woomanship'." Maybe a monthly challenge some day would be to list 3-6 'interesting' words and make the author use those words in his story.

message 44: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Some very nice stories submitted so far and with less than a week to go this is the current list...

1. “One Hundred Apple Boxes by Elaine…945 words.
2. “Mario and Me” by Todd Folstad…890 words.
3. “Beyond the Gap” by Terry Turner…831 words.
4. “She Talked with Angels” by Rebecca…998 words.
5. “Sister's Accident” by Patricia Fuqua Lovett…744 words.
6. “Ambushed by Absence” by Andy…967 words.

message 45: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake TERRY wrote: "Andy wrote: "Ambushed by absence
Loved your story Andy. Being a bird and animal lover, I like how you did not explain where the Cuckoo lays it's eggs and wonder why you were angry. Made me think."

Thanks, Terry!

message 46: by Andy (last edited Apr 21, 2018 12:32PM) (new)

Andy Lake Elaine wrote: "Andy: . It is fun to plug 'interesting' words into some of our writing. 'Insouciant' is a word I used in in my second cat mystery, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer (when Thumper first meets Noe-Noe ..."

Elaine - I really like your use of language in that brief extract you put in there, particularly the almost-rhyme of "rhythm" and "lissome", with "gossamer" in-between also having the consonants of "lissome" which all gives a poetic flow. Very nice.

message 47: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Thanks, Andy. Hope you will read one of my seven published books one day. Three cozy cat mysteries, two WWII humorous mystery/adventures and one book of short stories about cats. You might enjoy my stories.

message 48: by Andy (new)

Andy Lake Just downloaded Mrs Odboddy #1, Elaine :-)

message 49: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments The Round Schoolhouse
By Shelly Heskett Harris
Word count 797
North Korea Fires Rocket Capable of Reaching US Mainland [3/;2018]
[March 1950] ]The school was new. Built in the early 1950’s; it had a red brick exterior covering four-foot, thick walls. There were no outside windows and the building was in a complete circle.
It was the very latest in design to protect the students from an atomic blast. It was a time of uncertainty, an aftermath of WWII, as the economy grew so did the fear of nuclear war. The destruction left by the two bombs dropped on Japan, was still fresh in the mind of the nation. We were involved in a “cold war” with Russia who had missiles pointed our way.

We lived White Sands Missile Range, 50 miles north of our home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and was considered a prime target by an atomic bomb. Students were given daily exercises

Peggy Ann Harwood was a fifth grader in the round school. She smoothed her skirt and shyly looked back over her shoulder, two rows over and one seat back. She jerked around. Benny Jackson was looking right at her. He turned away as quickly, but he had a satisfied little smile. Peggy’s cheeks were pink. Through her embarrassment she could hear her name being called.

“Peggy Ann!,” Miss Andrews raised her voice a notch. “Are you in lalaland?”

“No, ma'am,” Peggy’s face was now bright red and a glance around the classroom at her snickering classmates did nothing to help her feel better. Worse of all was Benny laughing along with all the rest. She forced herself to hold her head high by thinking of some way to get back at him. ‘I hate him’, she said to herself. ‘Hate, hate, hate’.

Miss Andrews, after 21 years of teaching, sensed something was going on but decided to ignore it. “Peggy, it’s your turn to pass out the new Bert comic books. Bert was a turtle A comic book character invented to teach children how to protect themselves if they were caught outside when an atomic bomb exploded. T’blast

Dutifully, she rose from her desk, collected the books and started down the first aisle. Tommy Olsen hid his laughing face in a open book. Joyce Nagar giggled and so on down the line. The next row began with Don Forrester, who wasn’t in on the joke, but acted like he was by guffawing as Peggy walked by.

Miss Andrews could see she needed to stop little Peggy Ann’s embarrassment, but how to distract them without making it worse? She picked up her stopwatch.

“Duck and cover,” the teacher yelled and clicked the watch.

The class jumped into action. They scurried under their desks, hands protecting the back of their necks. Johnny Gobel, who was in detention at the back of the room, couldn’t get to his desk in time so he scrunched against the base of the wall. Peggy dropped the remaining comic books and dove for her desk.

“45 seconds,” That’s an alright time” Miss Andrews said, but several of you lost your big toes.”

This was worth a giggle or two and Peggy resumed handing out the comic books unencumbered by classroom antics.

The boys were busy watching a centipede high step it’s way along the floorboard. Several students leaned over their desks and began poking the poisonous insect with pencils. Alerted to danger, it fled toward the darkness of the ceiling high bookcase.

“What’s that you have there?” Miss Andrews said hearing commotion in the back of the room. She made it in time to see the multitude of legs disappear in a crack.

“It’s just a big worm,” Don Forrester, who was always one step behind the rest of the class, said with authority.

.”Was not, stupid,” Tommy Olsen’s voice was cutting.

Miss Andrews saw the tempers flaring. It is almost lunchtime, and the animals are testy ,she thought to herself. How do I defuse this one? Don was half way out of his seat.

“Tommy Olsen, step to the front chalkboard.,” she said. “Sit,” she pointed to Don Forester, and used an extended finger to emphasise her command. Forester was a big kid and easy to take offence.

“Why are you at the blackboard?” she asked Tommy.

“Cause I said stupid?”

“Right, write ‘smart’ until the lunch bell rings.

Finally, the bell rang. “Thank, God,” she said to herself, and it wasn’t a saying, it was a sincere prayer.

[editor’s note] Miss Andrews was a wonderful teacher, especially since it was a time of unease. Possible war with Russia overshadowed everything we did. People built fallout shelters and the government stockpiled missiles. Teachers sought to give children stability, by keeping the classroom ordinary in abnormal times.

message 50: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Shelly wrote: "The Round Schoolhouse
By Shelly Heskett Harris
Word count 797
North Korea Fires Rocket Capable of Reaching US Mainland [3/;2018]
[March 1950] ]The school was new. Built in the early 1950’s; it ha..."

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