Category Archives: Under 300 Words

Hook, Line and Dairy Farming  




Painting by Antos Frolka

Charles was quite pleased with himself. This was the third week that Pastor Smith had complimented him on his dairy farm and mentioned his prize bull, Luther, by name.

“I like that Pastor Smith, Henrietta. Can’t believe I waited so long to join you at Sunday Meeting. Why didn’t you tell he was such a nice fellow?”

“Well Charles, I never had very much in common with him, you know. Not that I don’t consider him a wonderful preacher. But you and he? I declare, you two are like long lost brothers!”

“I know what you mean. Amazing isn’t it?”

“Yes Charles, it certainly is amazing!” Henrietta beamed. Just a month previous, Charles wouldn’t have even considered going to church with her. But Pastor Smith changed all that.

“We’re planning a homecoming potluck in a few weeks ladies. Of course I am looking forward to sampling your wonderful cooking.” Pastor Smith smiled. “Be sure to invite your husbands,” he added, directing his attention toward Henrietta and others who came to church alone week after week. “And one more request. I need you to tell me the one thing that makes your husband most proud.”

Henrietta didn’t know if she should feel guilty for being part of such a ruse. “I suppose the end justifies the means,” she thought, “and it was Pastor Smith’s idea after all.” At any rate, she was thrilled to have her husband by her side each week.

Yes, a wise shepherd knows how to gather his flock before they realize they’re being gathered!

Kat ~10 October 2016
(256 Words)

A short story for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge based on the painting, “On the Way to Church” by Antos Frolka.


Seasoning – Part 7

“Far, far away Soria Moria Palace shimmered like Gold” by Theodor Kittelsen

Hannah followed Helen past the kitchen through a breezeway that flanked the back of the house. She paused to gaze at the garden.

“I hope your green thumbs are up to the challenge dear!” Helen walked back to Hannah. “Breaks my heart to see it like this. You know, back when I was growing up, my grandmother raised climbing rose bushes over there,” she pointed at a weather worn teak arbor. “And my mum, when she had charge of the grounds, filled the raised beds with herbs and plants suitable for teas and tinctures. Our pantry’s rafters were full of drying plant bundles!

Hannah smiled as she imagined the life that once thrived in the weed tangled, overgrown mess. “I love herb gardens. We had one at Waverly, and a vegetable garden too. Every meal my mother prepared included something from the garden. And I remember too, when my sister and I couldn’t sleep, mother would take a bunch of lavender and crush the buds between her fingertips before fluffing our pillows.”

“Ah, your mother was a wise woman. I don’t have any plans for the garden, Hannah. Consider it your special project.” Helen motioned Hannah to the end of the hall.

“Well here you are.” Helen opened the door. “Make yourself at home. Tonight, a surprise! I’m cooking! Dinner is in an hour!”

Henry had retreated to his room after his rude outburst. Exhausted, he threw himself over the bed, soon tossing into fitful, restless sleep, haunted by a recurring nightmare. In it, he was a boy gazing at an elusive city that always glowed just past the horizon despite his attempts to reach it. Happiness resided there. And somehow he sensed his Alice was there too.


This is the seventh installment of a series in response to Jane Dougherty’s Weekly Microfiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is the painting, “Far, far away Soria Moria Palace shimmered like Gold” by Theodor Kittelsen. It is based on a Norwegian fairy tale that you can read by clicking HERE.

Find  previous installments HERE

Seasoning – Part 3


Helen was worried about her little brother. The family hadn’t heard from him in months. He stopped coming to holiday gatherings and never answered his phone. Enough was enough! Being 10 years his senior, she knew Henry’s brooding tendencies quite well. Even as a baby he barely smiled. It wasn’t until he met Alice that his countenance changed.

Helen booked a ticket on the next train ensuring that she would arrive on a Saturday when Henry was home.

As the taxi hugged the curb, she was startled to see that the house had fallen into minor disrepair. The average person wouldn’t notice of course, but Helen knew how meticulous Henry was about his boxwood hedges and lawn edging. She rang the bell three times before hearing movement behind the door.

As Henry opened the door, squinting from the sunlight, he stepped back a stride when he realized who had come to call. “Helen! You’re here!”

“Yes little brother, I am. You look like crap!” She pushed past Henry sending a cloud of dust into the stale air; more dust as she pulled the drapes open. “Get me some tea Henry, will you? I’m parched!”

kat ~ 22 July 2016
(194 Words)

A third installment in the series for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge based on the painting above by Else Berg. Read the first two installments of this story by clicking HERE and scrolling to the story called Seasoning.


Seasoning – Part 2

It had been three winters, three springs, summers, and autumns. The seasons melded together without her light there to breathe life into them.

Henry spent his days working from darkest dawn to waning dusk, the minutes gnawing at his heart, tumbling into hours, days, years. Grief is an unwelcome squatter that has overstayed its visit.

He ate his meals out, avoiding the kitchen when he was home. Dust had settled like a soft wooly sheath on the furniture and floated in the streams of sunlight that slipped through the shuttered curtains.

Henry managed to keep up appearances in public with a ready smile and affirming nod. From the outside he appeared to be getting on with life. The house too held its facade intact with its gleaming white-washed siding and welcoming portico.

Those who ventured past the gate though, realized something was amiss. The garden, once vibrant with fragrant blossoms, had been overtaken by thistles and brambles.

“I must see to the garden,” Henry often mused. In truth, he had grown accustomed to the weeds.

kat – 16 July 2016
(175 Words)

Part 2 of Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge inspired this week by this painting, La Porte by Henri Duhem. You can other Parts HERE.

Seasoning – Part 1

Alice imagined the hush of new fallen snow as she gazed from the warmth of the parlor. She smiled. Winter was her favorite time of year.

Since receiving the news she had hoped to spend at least one more holiday with her beloved Henry.

Hints of cinnamon and sage wafted through the air and the sounds of clanking cooking utensils echoed from the kitchen. Henry was preparing a feast of roasted turkey, sweet butter-creamed potatoes, string beans and warm bread pudding with spiced rum sauce.

Alice rarely shared her kitchen with Henry. Cooking was her passion, but this was an annual tradition, and he loved it so.

“Dinner is served my darling girl,” Henry announced entering the dining room with a perfect gold-crusted bird steaming on a silver platter.


His beaming delight dissolved to dread at the sound of her fading voice. The beautiful turkey and silver tray slipped from his grasp bouncing across the floor in a wet plopping, ear-shattering crash.

He rushed to Alice, catching her as she collapsed.

kat – 15 July 2016
(170 Words)

I am afraid I a a week behind on Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge, but this week’s challenge painting intrigued me. When I read that it was to be the second installment from the previous week, of course I needed to lay the foundation for my story. And so this entry is Part 1. You can other parts HERE.

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