Tag Archives: Short Story

Suburbia

From Free Photos at Pixabay.com

“Did you hear about the new neighbors?”

“New neighbors? No! What did you hear?”

“Well…I heard that their name, Smith, is an alias. It seems they’re in the witness protection program. The guy was a key witness for the Bombino crime bust.”

“I heard about that trial. Cold blooded killers, they were. Money launderers too, but that case happened in New York. What makes you think the Smiths are from there?”

“Well, my Aunt Mabel’s husband’s coworker is friends with the prosecutor’s custodian and he heard that the key witness and his family were given new identities and moved to an old established neighborhood in Pennsylvania. A husband, his wife and two kids, a boy and a girl, school-aged. That description sure fits the Smiths. Husband, wife, two kids, except two boys, but hey, Aunt Mabel might have gotten that part wrong.”

“Certainly sounds like them. I hope they don’t bring criminals here!”

“I thought of that. Contacted the neighborhood association. There’s a special meeting tonight. You’re coming aren’t you?!”

“You bet I am.”

Meanwhile at the Smith’s house….

“So honey, have you met any of the neighbors?”

“Not yet. I saw a few of them at the park. I waved, but they looked away like they didn’t see me. Weird.”

“Give it time. My boss told me this was the best neighborhood to raise kids. Excellent schools. You remember it was a condition of my promotion and relocation. He knows how important you guys are to me.”

“I know. I hate moving. Hey, I overheard them talking about an association meeting tonight. We should go.”

“Great idea! Give me a minute to change and we’ll head over to the community center!”

“Perfect! Maybe it won’t be so awkward if we’re together.”

“You’re gonna love it here honey. You’ll see.”

~kat

Oh to be a fly in the wall at that community center when the Smiths arrive! I will let your imaginations finish this story, dear reader. 😉 This is a short 300 Word Story for Mind Love Misery’s Menageries Sunday Writing Prompt: Truth and Lies.


Mauve Martens – Case Study

Mauve had schooled her share of psych interns. As the longest live-in resident of Elmwood Sanatorium, she was a favorite subject for rounds and more intensive interview sessions. It was a symbiotic relationship. For her ‘performance’ Mauve got an extra 3 hours of tv access and the program of her choice. For their part, the staff gained valuable insight into an intern’s potential. Mauve had a way of weeding out those who weren’t cut out for a specialty in psychology.

She plopped herself at the table, with a gleam in her eye, and studied her next…victim. He shuffled several cards without looking up.

“Hmmm, a hard nut to crack,” she thought, “but I like nuts. After all I am the queen of nuts!” Mauve chuckled. “Humph…those bloody ink blots again. There are exactly ten of them. I know them well.”

And know them she did. She could spin a delirious show for each; one that left most interns disturbed at best. Ultimately they would fail their evaluation, only to be rotated out of the psych ward to the general surgery wing or some other safe corner of the hospital. Yes, Mauve was an expert in ink blots. “This is going to be fun,” she sniggled under her breath.

“Hello Miss Martens. My name is Dr. Stevens. Shall we begin?”

“If we must,” Mauve sighed, leaning back in her chair.

“Alright then,” Dr Stevens announced, as he flipped the first card face up on the table in front of her. “Tell me how you feel about this image, Miss Martens. Tell me what you see.”

“First of all, call me Mauve. I detest being called Miss,” Mauve hissed as she leaned forward to eye the ink blot. “Which one will it be…the bat or the dancing bears?” she wondered.

As she studied the image Mauve grew agitated. Something was wrong! Terribly wrong! She had never seen this ink blot before. Mauve pushed away from the table abruptly.

“Is something wrong, Miss Mar…Mauve?” Dr. Stevens inquired.

“Who gave you permission to call me that? You don’t know me!” Mauve shrilled.

“I’m sorry, Miss. But back to the cards, please. Tell me. What do you…”

“You stop right there! Is this some kind of joke? What do YOU think this fucking card means? Hmmm?” Mauve pounded the table with her fist, lurching toward the doctor, eyes bulging, face flushed red. “Go on tell me if you’re so smart. There are rules Doctor, and you are breaking them! How dare you come in here with your fancy white coat and bother me with your stupid cards!”

Dr. Stevens tapped the card he’d laid on the table and cleared his throat. “The card, Mauve…Miss Martens…What. Do. You. See?”

It was too much! She had nothing. It was a trick. She was sure of it. She started to rock maniacally, humming to herself, eyes squeezed shut as she clutched the arms of the chair.

“Miss Martens?”

The room was spinning growing darker, darker. “Did someone say my name?” Mauve’s thoughts spun. “No one ever calls me Miss…”

“Mauve?”

Suddenly, she collected herself, sat upright in the chair, and tilted her head to the side as she leered at Stevens. “Well, well, aren’t you a looker. What do you say we forget this silly game and get down to what you really came here for. I know what men like you like…” she slurred in a guttural tone, licking her lips.

“Miss Martens…”

She cackled, “Ha! That little bitch? Why waste your time on her, Doc, especially when you have me…”

“And you are?”

“Trixie, Doc. The boys call me Trixie.”

~kat

A short story for Mind Love Misery’s Menagerie Sunday Writing Prompt based on the photo above.


The Man Who Talks to Walls

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Wailing Wall from Wikipedia

People from miles around gathered at the wall. For centuries it had heard their fears, their hopes, their dreams. For centuries it had collected messages and prayers scribbled on scraps of paper and stuffed into its crumbling facade. Some people were true believers in the wall and its power to pass their intentions to the One who listens. Some thought it nothing more than a novelty, a tourist destination, a photo op.

Cyrus was one of the latter. He lived near the wall and hated it. He often laughed at the pilgrims, ‘emotional fools’, he called them, shouting at them from his doorway, “It’s a wall you know! You’re talking to a stupid wall! Can’t you see how crazy that is? Stupid wall…stupid, stupid wall!”

But early every morning, when the streets were empty Cyrus would shuffle over to the wall; to the very same spot each time. He reached into a paper-laden crack and gently removed a folded yellow note, dropped to the ground, tears flooding the corners of his eyes as he read the child-like scrawl fading on the page.

Please don’t take my mommy God. I need her.
Love,
Cyrus

Days after young Cyrus had written that note, his mother succumbed to illness. That was the day Cyrus stopped believing in the wall; in anything for that matter. He felt oddly comforted when he read the note though. Memories of his mother flooded his mind. As painful as it was, he couldn’t stay away.

Year’s passed and it was Cyrus’ time to leave this world. As he closed his eyes, weary from a life of pain and disappointment, he started to feel lighter. His soul rose above his body and drifted through the door of his house and over to the wall where his mother stood waiting for him, holding the yellow note in her hand.

“Momma? Momma, why did God take you away from me?”

“Oh Cyrus, I never left. Don’t you know that every time you came to the wall to read your note, I was right there, holding you. Reminding you of how much I loved you. Did you feel it Cyrus?”

“I did. Yes, I did feel you each time as lovely memories filled my head. That was you?”

“Yes. The wall and your note kept me close to you. Now you and I can both find rest and peace. Are you ready Cyrus?

“Yes. I’m ready,” Cyrus whispered as he took his mother’s hand. Together they drifted through the wall into the starry night sky.

The wall moaned and shuddered as another breach ripped its ancient stone face bottom to top creating another portal for notes from those seeking miracles and little boys, orphaned too soon.

~kat

For MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie Sunday Writing Prompt. This week: “It’s All in the Title” – Use one or more of the titles below to compose a song/story/poem:

A Girl Called Gift
A Night Without Dreams
The Day the Stars Burned
Revenant
Sleep Deprivation
The Mulberry Bush
A Disquieting Haze
A Vision in Blue
The Man Who Talks to Walls
The Fairy Queen


The Castle of Souls

Illustration by Ivan Bilibin

“Who goes there?” Sparrow called to the darkness, as she walked the perimeter of the Castle of Souls.

Sparrow was a demigoddess sent to the earth realm to guard the castle and to spare undue calamity to human-kind by keeping the living outside the gate and “others” inside.

The Castle of Souls, or Purgatory as some call it, has existed since the beginning of time. It is nestled in the remote forests of Death Valley near the steep, rocky banks of the raging River of No Return and, most notably, features a sprawling garden of souls that glow eerily from skulls on bone posts where they reside until they are granted passage to heaven. It is certain death for any human unfortunate enough to witness such a sight, which is why Sparrow was so vigilant this dark, chilly night. 

She heard another sound echoing from the rocks near the river’s edge. “Hello! I know you are there. Identify yourself!” she demanded sternly.

“I’m lost,” a young voice cried from the blackness. “I’m lost an’ I’m hungry an’ I want my Mama, but she fell into the water when our boat tipped over and she never came out. I’ve been waitin’ and waitin’ but she never came…” the voice grew louder and clearer as a child with wild golden hair, shivering, wet from the river, wearing torn clothing that clung to her like skin, emerged into the light.

“Please don’t come any closer, child,” Sparrow pleaded, “I cannot help you. This is no place for a child to be. Follow the river this way,” she instructed, as she pointed down river, “soon enough you will find yourself in the village. Now run along.”

“But I’m cold and I’m tired. It’s dark. Can’t I just stay here with you?”

Sparrow took pity on the child and granted her wish, but only until morning, and only outside the wall of the castle grounds. She made a soft bed of leaves and wild flowers for the child and kept watch from the other side of the gate to make sure the girl didn’t wander inside.

Dawn of day is the time when souls arrive from death to the castle. It is a necessary cleansing of the veil between time and eternity. The presence of too many souls wandering the earth always creates chaos for the living. 

When the souls arrived, floating through the gate, looking very much like fog, many paused to gaze fondly at the sleeping child.  One soul lingered longer than most. Sparrow watched as it hovered over the child. She grew increasingly impatient with the soul, until she realized that it was the child’s mother. 

The allotted time for soul receiving was ending as the sun inched above the horizon. Sparrow urged the mother soul to come inside, but she refused to leave the child. If she didn’t close the gate soon, Sparrow risked a mutiny of the other souls in her keeping, so she made a deal with the mother.

“I see that you love this child more than eternity,” Sparrow said, “so I will grant you three days, and three days only, to stay with the child until she finds her way to the safety of the village. It’s a two day’s walk from here. Remember, three days only and you must return.” Then Sparrow closed the gate.

The booming noise from the shuttering iron gate startled the child awake. She remembered Sparrows’s instructions and set off down river. 

Her mother’s soul followed closely behind. She soon discovered that she could communicate with the child by sending a flutter of wind moving leaves to reveal bunches of tasty berries or by rustling shrubbery to redirect the child if she set off in the wrong direction. 

They traveled along the rocky shore of the River of No Return and through the canyons and salt flats of Death Valley until at long last a village came into view. The child’s pace sped up when she noticed people in the town square. A kind woman with several children of her own noticed the girl and took her in. The mother watched from afar a day longer to make sure the girl was safe and then, as she had promised, returned to enter the castle garden on the third day.

Sparrow noticed something different about the mother soul when she returned. She glowed warmer, brighter than the other souls. And one other thing; she did not wail and moan, which was a common practice that made the garden a miserable place to be. 

Sparrow was so inspired by the peaceful presence of the mother soul, that she declared that all souls would henceforth be granted three days to make their peace with life and the living before entering the the Castle of Souls.

You may have heard that the souls of the recently deceased linger three days, wandering amongst, and making their peace with the living before moving on. It was not always so. Now you know the story of how it came to be that when someone you love dies, you feel their presence ever so near, because my dears, they are!

~kat – 2 March 2017

A strange tale for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange Microfiction Challenge inspired by the painting above by Ivan Bilibin, a Russian illustrator.


Seasoning – Part 28

Seasoning – Part 28

The closing bell that Henry dreaded finally chimed. “I could stop by the pub, grab my dinner there, but…” he argued with himself, “no Henry. Be a man. Support the woman you love and face your sister.” He cleared his desk, grabbed his coat and walked out the door without saying a word.

Charles who watched him pass, glanced at a group of fellow clerks engaged in the latest gossip; namely, Henry and his so-called “housekeeper”.

“What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall at that house this evening!” he chimed in.

Everyone nodded in agreement, snickering.

———————————-

The taxi pulled up to the curb but Henry lingered.

“Am I at the right address sir? Maybe I…

“No, thank you, this is the place.” Henry paid the driver his fee and walked slowly toward the front door.

“Thank you sir. Have a good night!” The cabbie called from the car.

Henry turned with a nod, “Thanks mate.”

As he entered the parlor the aroma of roasting beef, fresh bread and cinnamon hung in the air like incense. Candlelight flickered from the dining room and jovial conversation and laughter echoed from the kitchen. “What is all this?” he wondered.

He walked into the kitchen to an astounding sight. Helen was tossing salad and Hannah whipping potatoes…together! He stood in the doorway, mouth agape for several minutes before Helen noticed him.

“Ha! You’re home Henry!” she exclaimed as she turned around wth the salad bowl. “Be a dear and make yourself useful, little brother. Grab the roast and carry it into the dining room if you please.”

Without thinking Henry complied, with Helen in tow. He had hardly noticed before that the table was impeccably set with the good china, crisp cloth napkins and crystal that sparkled in the candlelight. He placed the roast in the middle of the table and looked up at Helen who was beaming from ear to ear.

“What in god’s name is going on here?” he whispered in dazed disbelief.

“Shhhh Henry,” Helen chided, “it’s been a wonderful day, a magnificent day! Don’t you dare spoil it!”

“Spoil what? I have no idea what is happening here. When I left this morning…”

“When you left this morning…” Hannah interjected, joining them with a steaming bowl of potatoes in one hand and fresh bread in the other, “and I must say I was quite cross at your abrupt departure! When you left, or should I say escaped, I imagine you thought you were leaving a swarming beehive behind. In fact, Helen and I have had a wonderful day. We went shopping and had the most enlightening conversation.”

“Oh good god Henry, shut your mouth and sit down,” Helen chortled.

As he lowered himself into the chair clutching the arm rests for balance he noticed Hannah. She was removing her apron revealing a beautiful yellow dress; her hair was delicately swept up into a cascade of curls that draped her face, slightly flushed. She was stunning.

“Hannah is lovely in that new dress, don’t you think, Henry?” Helen clucked as she joined him at the table.

Befuddled, Henry stumbled over his words, “Uh yes, Helen, lovely.” He gazed at Hannah who posed proudly in her new dress, eyes sparkling as she looked at him for approval. “You, Hannah, are lovely.” His face softened.

Hannah blushed and sat down next to him. “We should eat everyone, before it gets cold.”

Helen reached over patting Henry’s hand. “It’s alright Henry,” she said reassuringly, “Hannah and I talked.”

“Talked about what? Forgive me you two, I am quite confused by all of this,” Henry pleaded.

“I know Henry,” Helen said.

“She knows Henry,” Hannah added, smiling.

“Knows what?”

Hannah and Helen answered him in unison, “the letter.”

____________________________________________

To read previous installments of Seasoning, click HERE.


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