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Three days passed before they found the body.

It had been a crazy night. What was supposed to be a fun night with my brothers and sisters had turned into a night of bringing up old wrongs and old hurts. Before anyone knew it, there had been too much drinking and too many accusations. Meg couldn’t figure out how things had gone wrong. She tried to salvage the evening by changing the subject to happier times. She thought that would make a difference and bring them all together again but it didn’t.

Meg’s sister brought up the year that the two of them had each gotten a Chatty Cathy doll. Meg’s had been a brunette with a blue dress and her sister had wanted it because her blonde doll with the pink dress didn’t look like her. She wanted a doll with brown hair and brown eyes, like she had but she was only five and didn’t know how to say wht she wanted so she was stuck with the doll. She didn’t like it and had left it in the box and had not played with it. Two weeks went by and Meg’s doll already had smudges on her face and a tiny rip in the back of the dress because she took the doll everywhere with her. She slept with it, ate with it, took it in the car and was never seen without it until one day when Meg woke up and Chatty Cathy was gone. She looked all over for it until she began to cry. Their mother helped her look and soon, the whole family was looking for Chatty Cathy. It was gone. Just gone.

Three days later, when they were walking back home from the park around the corner, Meg saw her doll. It was in one of the trash cans that were sitting at the curb waitng to be picked up. The eyes had been punched back into the head and there was red marker all over her arms and face. Chatty Cathy’s dress had been ripped to shreds. Meg started crying when she saw her treasured doll. She pulled her doll out of the neighbor’s trash can and cradled her in her arms as they walked home, tears flooding out of her eyes. Her sister put her arm around Meg’s shoulder and told her she could have her blonde Chatty Cathy. Meg thought it was so nice of her sister. She didn’t see the smug look on her sister’s face.

 

 

 

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I was happy for her. I was also sad that she was leaving but I knew that she was headed for new things, new places, new people. A fresh start. How many times had I wished that I could get a new start, only to continue the same daily struggles? No, not her. Not my girl. I prayed she would never live a life like mine where she was my only happiness. She was headed for college; a bright future. I was sure of that. Even the heavens were smiling on her as she boarded that bus bound for Happiness!

Word Count: 100

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Friday Fictioneers is a weekly blog hop hosted by Rochelle. She posts a photo prompt then challenges readers to write a 100 word story inspired by the prompt. It’s a fun challenge. Give it a try! Check here for the info then write your story and post it, link up and enjoy the other stories!

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© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Some vacation!  Others go south to warm, sunny places..They go back to school with pictures and post cards; souvenirs and stories of the places they visited. Suntans. Sunburns. They might even go back to school with new romantic interests. Others have adventures on their vacation.

Me? I went north. I get to sit in a motel, watch the rain, and wait for you to come see me.  That’s what I get on my vacation: minutes with you; a view of the parking lot; rain. It’s my fault. I’m the one that settled for the stolen moments, tucked away like this.

Word count: 100

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This is in response to Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneer photo prompt. Each week she posts a photo prompt and challenges her readers to write a 100 word story.  It’s fun!  Give it a try!  Go here to get the rules and link your 100 word response.  

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© Marie Gail Stratford

© Marie Gail Stratford

She did it right there.

For several years she had been emailing an old beau from a previous lifetime. He had found her at a moment when she was feeling alone, unwanted. The email subject from the strange address read “Is that you?”

It was. That was the start. That relationship had made her smile and feel wanted. For years.

It took a long time and a lot of excuses but she finally realized this was no relationship. So, right there, in the middle of the library, she clicked on “Delete Forever”. The entire “relationship” was gone.

Word Count: 100

Thank you to Rochelle for the photo prompt at her weekly Friday Fictioneers post. She gives a photo and challenges readers to come up with a 100 word story to match the photo.  Give it a try.  It’s fun!  

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This originally appeared in February of 2008 in response to a weekly meme I used to participate in, 3 Word Wednesday, in which we were given 3 random words and had to write a story with them.  A bit long but I think it’s kind of fun.  The 3 words were t-shirt, unravel, and punch. See what you think…

I walked into the house and without looking at her face, I knew Karen was staring at the Slayer t-shirt I was wearing and wondering what the hell got into me. She knew I would never buy a shirt like that. And the micro mini-skirt I was wearing was totally not like anything I would ever wear. At least not in this century. I could feel her staring at me but I wasn’t going to explain. Karen wouldn’t understand. I made a beeline for my bedroom, pulled out some clothes and walked to the bathroom to shower. I had to get that clothes off of me.

I locked the bathroom door behind me and as I reached for the faucet, I heard Karen on the other side of the door. “Hey Mom. So what’s with the clothes? It’s a little early for Halloween!” I could hear her giggling.

Rolling my eyes, I couldn’t quite decide if I would acknowledge the question, let alone answer her.

“Go away. I’m taking a shower.” On came the water before Karen could even giggle.

I let the white Slayer t-shirt drop to the floor at my feet along with the micro mini skirt, the black bra and panties I had borrowed. I never wore a black bra with a white t-shirt but Sherry had only offered the black one so I had no choice. Well, I did. I could come home wearing no bra but that would be worse than having my teen daughter tease me about the clothes I waswearing.

As the steam began to fill the small bathroom, I relaxed against the cold shower tiles, closing my eyes. How did all that mess happen? It had started out so well. Just the two of us. Nancy and I were going to have a nice dinner, go to a movie, and then go for drinks. This was the one night a month we allowed ourselves to have fun. Single moms have it hard. We’re all alone. There is no one to help with the daily stress of raising a teenager. No one to help with the housework or paying bills or mowing the lawn. It is all on our shoulders. We never get to go anyplace to unwind. So Nancy and I go out once a month just to unwind. When we did, our kids were sworn to a quiet evening at home. We would spring for movie rentals, soda, and junk food and they would swear to stay home and keep out of trouble.

That didn’t happen tonight. Instead, after the movie when we both reached into our purses to turn on our phones, Nancy’s phone beeped repeatedly, letting her know she had a missed call and maybe a voice mail. She listened to the voice mail as we walked to her car. We were supposed to meet some of the others from work at Hank’s for a late, unofficial “happy hour” as we sometimes did. I heard her gasp. “Oh no! This can’t be happening!” Jumping into the car with the phone glued to her ear Nancy said we had to go straight home. There was trouble. The neighbor had called.

When we got to Nancy’s house, we couldn’t find a parking space. The street and driveway were lined with cars. Music was blasting and teenagers were all over. Nancy pulled her car onto the lawn, causing a dozen inebriated teenagers to scatter. Inside the house, we found kids packing every room, the staircase, and the kitchen. There wasn’t even standing room. While we looked for her daughter, Sherry, a very drunk young lady bumped into me and spilled her “potent punch” all over my white ruffled tuxedo shirt. Just what I needed. This was the first time I had worn the shirt and the girl didn’t even excuse herself. She just continued to bump into everything and everyone in her path.

Finally, Nancy and I restored order, got rid of most of the sober teenagers and contacted the parents of the drunken ones to come retrieve their youngsters. Sherry had been locked in her room, afraid to come out and face her friends and all the people she didn’t know. She explained that she had only invited four girls but they had each text messaged their friends and soon their friends had text messaged their friends and before they knew it, there were dozens of teenagers eager to have a good time without adults. Her daughter hadn’t been able to get rid of them. She had called the neighbor and asked for help. The neighbor had tried to break it up but his efforts had all been futile so he had called Nancy.

When everyone left, Nancy and I started to throw out the trash and straighten up. Nancy told Sherry that the clean up was her responsibility but some of the cleanup had to be started tonight. On my hands and knees, picking up some of the larger pieces of trash before running the vacuum cleaner, I snagged my skirt on a piece of broken glass. I didn’t even notice it until I kept moving and realized that my knit skirt had unraveled beyond repair. I was left in nothing more than my slip. Nancy is a full five or six sizes larger than I am but her daughter is my size. Sherry went upstairs and got me some clothes to wear home. I had two choices. Wear my punch stained tuxedo shirt and my slip or her SLAYER t-shirt and micro mini skirt!

But would my daughter believe me? No, it was better to just play deaf. I decided to let the shower run a long, long time before having to face her.

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The first time I died, I was nineteen years old, and resigned to my fate; the second time was a different story.  The first time I was leaving a horrible situation.  I didn’t care to stay any longer, even though it meant my demise.  That was okay.

But then, I found myself in paradise and I never wanted to leave it.  I could see the deep blue water from the high point on the island.  The palm trees shaded me from the hot sun and let me hear their fronds tickling each other as the winds made them sway coquettishly.  A gentle breeze.  Just enough to move the air around.  There was so much fruit every where.  I would never feel the rumblings of my empty stomach on this island.

Every so often I would have a flashback to the life I had left the first time.  I fought those flashbacks.  I didn’t want to go back there, not even in my memory.  That place had been a pure hell filled with evil.  No wonder I left it so willingly.  But this place.  No way did I want to leave it.

The day came for me to die.  I tried to find a way to fight it; a way to escape it; a way to cheat death.  But because I didn’t know how my death would come, I couldn’t figure out a way to save myself.  I was careful in everything I did but I was scared.  How would it happen?  Would it hurt?  Who would do it?  What would do it?  And exactly when?  If I could figure any of those out, If only I could figure out just one of those, I might have a chance.

The first time I died, I welcomed it.  I didn’t fight it.  Why prolong the agony of the so called life I had?  I didn’t deserve to die that time.  I didn’t deserve to die the painful death that time.  But then, after I died, I was born again, here in this heavenly spot and I led a wonderful life.  A happy life.  A full life.  And now it’s time for me to die again.  I don’t know how.  I haven’t figured it out yet.  I just know it will be soon.

Will I go on to another place?  A better place?  I think that’s what I deserve.  I haven’t hurt anyone here. I’ve been productive.  I should be going to a better life, or at least an equally good one.  Is that the way it works?

Filled with questions, she was lost in her own world of thoughts.  She didn’t realize it was happening until it was too late.  She kicked.  She reached for something to hang on to.  But it was no use.  The wave took her away.  Even a strong swimmer would have been lost, let alone a weak one like her.

The next time she died, she hoped it would be quick and painless.  She hoped she wouldn’t know.  Not even for a few seconds.

This post is in response to Mel’s Midweek Menagerie.

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Short fiction.  Writing from a prompt.  Part 1 here.

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Emily explored her new cookbook, reading through the recipes page by page and taking time to think through the ingredients and procedures.  She was looking for something that would pop out at her…some special recipe that did not remind her of any other recipe she had ever seen or tried.  She was so consumed with reading through the book and deciphering the many notes, some of which appeared to be in different languages and in different handwriting that she forgot all about the competition she had applied to enter.  As she sat with the book in her hands, feeling the vibrations of those that had used it before her, it grew dark outside and before she knew it, she had to get up and turn on the lights.  As she got up, she placed the book on the table.  Coming back to the book after flipping the light switch to the on position, she noticed the pointy corner of a faded pink piece of paper.  She hadn’t seen it before but it was there now.  She tugged at it gently.  It appeared to be stuck between the back board and the endpaper of the cookbook.  It was in there tightly and Emily realized that it could not have gotten back there by mistake.  It was intentionally hidden there.  She wondered why as she finally freed the paper from its hiding place.

The paper was old and the edges were not in the best shape.  The outside of it was more faded than the inside.  As she unfolded the paper, Emily saw what was definitely feminine writing with a lot of loops and flourishes.  It was a letter which read: “Beloved niece, this is what you asked me for but I warn you that it is to be used only on the young man that you are sure is the perfect mate.  You must be one hundred percent positive that the young man is the one you wish will adore you til the day he dies; the one you will honour and cherish all the days of your life.  Once consumed, there is no turning back and the two of you will be bound together forever.  So be very careful and choose wisely.  If there is any doubt, do not use it.  Wait until there is not a sliver of doubt.”

Intrigued, Emily read the few lines to the recipe: “Philtre d’amour–dittany of crete, banana leaves, boil in water then add to chocolate. Administer mixture as a drink every night during the waxing moon. While you boil and prepare the ingredients, you must think only of your beloved and imagine seeing him/her in their natural state and cherishing them every day of your life.  To be prepared and administered with the greatest of caution.”

Giggling at the silliness of even the idea of a love potion, Emily folded the paper and returned it to its secret hiding place.  She continued to browse the recipes in the book and finally came upon one that intrigued her.  It was for a simple, yet very appealing banana chocolate cake.  She marked it so she could prepare it the next day just in case she made it to the competition.  She might just need a new recipe for that occasion.

In the end, Emily was accepted into the competition and not only did she win in her category, she also fell absolutely, totally in love with one of the judges.  His name was Romero and he had paid special attention to Emily throughout the competition.  When it was over, he had asked her if she would like to go on a date with him.  Three dates later, Emily had found the one man that was her true love; the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.  She remember the faded pink paper in her chocolate cookbook and knew that it was put there and meant to be found by her so that she could win the heart of her true love, Romero.  She pulled it out of the cookbook and began to look it over so she could get the ingredients and make the love potion.  She would have to hurry as the moon would be entering its waxing stage in just three nights.  She studied the paper carefully, eyes full of dreams of her future.

The prompt: A woman purchases an old cookbook at a used bookstore and discovers a note tucked inside its pages.

Source: The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction, by the Staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, put out by Writer’s Digest Books.

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Short story.  Writing from a prompt.

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Emily was nervous and when she was nervous she would leave the house to distract herself.  Her favorite thing to do was to go to antique stores and to thrift shops.  She always got wrapped up in the little treasures that had belonged to other people.  They made her think and wonder and imagine who might have had any particular item.  Like one day last August she had found a fan…one of those delicate paper and tortoiseshell hand fans.  It had been displayed behind glass, fully extended to show off the delicate hand painted design full of colorful flowers and tiny butterflies against a cloudless light blue sky.  The little card next to it read: “Spain, 1894. Ecru parchment, tortoiseshell.”  It had sent Emily off on an imaginary trip to 1894.  She made up a story of two young lovers, Emilia and Rogelio, who were forbidden from seeing each other.  Rogelio had bought the fan for Emilia and had persuaded Emilia’s chaperone to give it to her for him.  He had given it to the chaperone in a box with a handwritten love note hidden under the tissue paper that folded over the delicate fan. Two days later, Rogelio heard from one of the servants in Emilia’s house that her parents had found the love note in Emilia’s things and had sent her away.  She was bound for the coast, to Cadiz, to board a ship. Rogelio could not even find out where she was being sent.  He departed for Cadiz as soon as he heard to try to find Emilia before she left his world but he was too late.  Even before he arrived in Cadiz, he had run into one of the house servants that worked in Emilia’s house.  He had just left her at the port where she had already boarded the ship.  All he could tell Rogelio was that the ship was headed to America and had already departed.  Broken hearted, Rogelio returned to the village where he lived near Cordoba.  He had been so dejected, so hopeless, that he had stopped eating and soon fell ill.  Without Emilia in his future, Rogelio had no reason to fight for his life and so he succumbed to his broken heart.

Thinking about the competition to which she had applied, she left her apartment to find a distraction from the worrying and waiting to hear if her application would be accepted.  She wanted to be in this competition.  It would make or break her.  Winning, or even placing in this competition, would give her the publicity she needed as she prepared to open her one shot at fame and happiness–her own bakery.  She headed for the antique store but instead, something led her into the thrift shop around the corner from the antique store.  Sherry, the clerk at the thrift shop greeted her, “Hey Emily!  Listen, you might be interested in this box.  I was just sorting through them to price them.  They’re all cookbooks.  Interested?  If you want any of them you can have them for a buck a piece while they’re unsorted.”  Emily thanked Sherry and started to rummage through the box. She found one book with chocolate recipes.  Emily had a lot of chocolate recipes already but this one was an old book with a lot of handwritten notes and recipes clipped to the pages throughout the book.  It made her smile, remember how her grandmother’s favorite cookbook looked just like this one, full of her Nana’s own recipes, corrections, and notes clipped and taped to the pages.  She decided one could never have enough chocolate recipes and if she found even one recipe within the pages, it would be worth it.  Emily grabbed the vintage cookbook and paid Sherry for it and headed home to look through the new to her recipes, in search of a new treasure.

Part 2 here

The prompt: A woman purchases an old cookbook at a used bookstore and discovers a note tucked inside its pages.

Source: The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction, by the Staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, put out by Writer’s Digest Books.

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She wore her glittery red dress as he held the door open for her to enter the diner.  She smiled and thanked him, noting how well dressed he was and how tall!  She loved tall men but she was not the type to strike up a conversatiion with a stranger so she walked into the diner and sat at the counter.  She usually sat at the counter when she was alone.  She didn’t like to take up a table that other larger parties could use.  Even when it was a slow night, you never knew when a large party would come in and need the table.  She had been a waitress for many years and this was the diner where she had first waitressed.  It had been several years since she had worked there but she still felt at home and when she was there, she always took a seat at the counter.

Although she hated going out alone, tonight she had done just that.  She had gone to the Museum of Art to catch her favorite painting before the exhibit closed in a couple of days.  Her favorite was Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.  There was something about it that drew her to it.  There was a sense of mystery and of lonliness, maybe even sadness, in the painting.  She also loved the way the darkness of the night and the building was illuminated by the light inside the diner.  The light made it possible to see the figures in the painting.  It was like they could not hide, even if they tried.  She asked for a cup of coffee and a piece of pumpkin cheesecake and as she waited for Philly to bring her order, she took out the print of the Hopper painting from the bag.  She had bought a small print for the wall of her new apartment.  She had wanted one forever but had never had the right spot to highlight it.  Until now.  She had her own apartment now.  No roommate to bug her about what she put on the wall.  She felt like it was a new beginning for her and she had bought the print to celebrate this new stage in her life.

“Hi.  I couldn’t help but notice the Nighthawk print.  It’s my favorite print.” It was the man in the grey pinstripe suit that had held the door open for her.  He looked at the print she was holding as he sat next to her at the counter.

“I hope you don’t mind if I join you.  It’s not often that I find a beautiful young lady sitting at a diner counter all alone and holding my favorite piece of art.” He smiled at her as he sat, not waiting for her to answer, not that she would have objected.

“I don’t know what it is about that painting.  It just gets to me.  See how it’s general a dark painting but the light inside the diner lightens it all up.  If these people have anything to hide, they’re sitting in the wrong diner because there’s nothing they can hide here.  It makes me wonder what they’re doing in there.  How about you?  What do you like about it?  Or maybe it’s not for you.  Maybe you’ve purchased it as a gift?” Suddenly he looked uneasy as he realized that he might have guessed wrong about her being all alone.

She looked around and couldn’t help but notice the similarity of this diner to the one in the painting, right up to the fact that she was only one of three customers in the place, and the only female.  This man sitting next to her was a total stranger.  Should she get up and walk away?  She she sit there and wait until he left before she left?  Suddenly she began to feel a little uneasy.

“I’m sorry.  If you’d like I’ll leave you alone.” He began to get up.  “I hope I didn’t alarm you.  I’m not a stalker or a serial killer.  Heck!  I haven’t killed even one person!  I’m sorry if I bothered you.  I was just drawn over here when I saw the Hopper print.  I thought we might have something in common.

She hesitated a bit then said, “No, it’s okay.  You don’t have to leave.  Please stay if you’d like.  The print is for me.  It has always been my favorite piece of art, too.  I guess we do have something in common.” She tucked her red hair behind her ear as Philly brought her coffee and cheesecake.  He looked like a nice guy but she would not take any chances.  She would sit here all night long if she had to.  She wouldn’t take the chance that he was a wack job.

They chatted about the exhibit they had both attended.  She had been there that night and he had been there a week before.  Before long, she was on her third cup of coffee and they had discussed Hopper’s Nighthawks and some of his other work.  They were both enjoying the evening, or rather the “after evening” and had forgotten that they were actually strangers to each other.  They chatted away, laughing and joking and enjoying some deeper insights into art and reality.

(This was inspired by a challenge to write about the Nighthawk painting…what’s the story behind the people in the painting?  I changed it up a bit and made the prompt mine.)

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What I really mean is fiction or non-fiction reading. Which do you prefer? When I was in grade school and first learned the terms fiction and non-fiction, the way I remembered which was which was by substituting “fake” for “fiction” because I didn’t readily remember what fiction meant but I knew what fake meant! I think I was in third grade!

I’m definitely a fiction kind of person but I find that when I read fiction, I am looking for the non-fiction in it, that is to say that I look things up that interest me in the fiction to learn more about those things as well as to make sure the author didn’t screw up on their facts! Recently, I’ve read about four of Daniel Silva’s series with Gabriel Allon. These books are filled with facts and fiction based on fact and they send me straight to search for the facts or to learn more about the subjects. I’ve read about the Holocaust (there’s always so much more to learn about it than what we know or think we know), about conflict in the Middle East, about the works of Caravaggio, just to name a few topics. It’s not just his books that do that to me. It’s almost every book. If an author mentions a type of plane used in WWII, I go look it up. If the name of a museum is mentioned, I’m off to find out more about it. As far as checking “facts” presented in fiction, I’m talking about dates and chronology. For example, if an author writes a scene in which a character stays at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and presents the date as 1992, I know they are wrong. I know that the hotel closed to guests in the 1980’s and I will go online and look for the dates to make sure I’m right. I am. Closure date was 1989. I then chalk it up to sloppy research and the rest of the book is tainted by it.

I read a lot about WWII and those books inevitably send me to find facts. Novels which make reference to art or music will do the same. Novels that reference specific locations with which I am unfamiliar will send me off to discover more.

I do enjoy reading some non-fiction but it has to be about a subject I am already interested in, or the memoirs or biography of someone I have previously hearing about in the past. One example is the Kennedy family. I am interested in all things Kennedy and have read extensively about them and books by them. In fact, my very first e-book when I got my Kindle in 2009, was True Compass by Ted Kennedy.

I just finished book #68 of an 80 book goal for 2014. I must say that the books next up on my list are all fiction but there are a few memoirs that have made the list so I might just load one of those on my Kindle. In fact, I had better run off and do that now so it will be ready to start up first thing in the morning!

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