Love, Love, Love: I’t s All About Love

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Love, Love, Love: It’s all about love. No matter who you are — no matter where you are — living is about loving — on many different levels.

For a great variety of inspirational reading that’s filled with LOVE, visit my page on Amazon.

And Happy Valentine’s Day!

 


 

 

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During the Lecture

WINE BOTTLE AND GLASS - WolfBlur -- PX

The lecture finally came to an end about 9:20 p.m.  That was almost an hour longer than it should have lasted. I hadn’t realized that there would be so much time in which to carry out my plan, or I would have gone about things much more leisurely.

Professor Thomas Crenshaw was known for being windy, of course, but I didn’t want to count on that fact, so after I’d slipped unobtrusively from my seat on the last row and exited the lecture hall, I literally ran to my car and changed into my disguise.

Black is so non-committal, isn’t it? Especially at night. One can sneak between parked cars and through alleys and even private yards without being noticed.

I didn’t have to drive, since Smith lived just a block off campus. I slipped into the alley that ran behind his house, making my way silently. I guess I wasn’t completely silent — or else my human scent caused an alarm — because a dog sent up some noisy yapping as I passed one residence, but as soon as I was twenty feet way, he want back to his normal nightly business.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for executing this little maneuver so well. I’d even played the good neighbor and offered to bring over my WD40 and oil his back gate that squeaked. When I’d been there for the staff barbecue last week and realized how it squeaked, I knew I’d have to take care of that little problem before I could carry out my plan successfully. But a few little squirts, and problem solved. I have to laugh now when I think how profusely Smith thanked me for being so thoughtful.

And, of course, he thanked me profusely again when I presented him with that expensive bottle of burgundy today as a birthday gift. That’s the thing about old Smith. He did everything rather profusely — even his drinking. And that’s what I was counting on. The old sot! How anyone could believe he was fit to be made the Chair of our department was beyond me. The choices had come down to him and me, and I was positive I’d be their pick. But when the university President told me that the board was swinging heavily toward Smith instead, it was all I could do not to unload a torrent of curses right there in the hallway of the administration building.

No matter. My little maneuver tonight took care of everything. As I approached the back door, I was fully confident that the bottle of burgundy was empty and Smith snoring like the pig that he is — well — that he was. I’d been right, of course. I’m surprised his own snoring didn’t wake him up. The man was a disgrace to our university, and it was past time someone did something about it. One little jab of a needle, and the quick-acting poison I’d chosen took care of old Smith for good. And I quietly and sedately slipped back into my seat in the lecture hall in plenty of time to hear the last thirty minutes of Thomas’ mind-numbing lecture.

Now, as I sit here at my own desk, listening to the digital recorder I had left in my lecture seat — along with the reserved sign so no one else would sit there — I’m diligently making notes on the lecture. When the authorities question me — as they undoubtedly will — I’ll have my name on the sign-in sheet and the sign-out sheet for the lecture. And I’ll have the notes I’ve taken, proving that I heard every single word Professor Crenshaw spoke from 7:30 to 9:20 p.m.

THE END

 


Daily Post Prompt: Lecture

 

 

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Belated Goodbye

Copyright Sandra Crook

 

“This was your family’s restaurant?” Erica asked.

I nodded, silent, reliving that horrible night: My fiance Haydn’s pushing me into the cellar and commanding me to keep silent, no matter what.”

Erica understood. “You never saw him again?”

I shook my head. “Two survivors said he’d been captured. But I never could find out.”

“Look!” Erica grabbed my arm. “Someone’s in the upstairs window — looking at us.”

“Some scavenger,” I said, brushing away tears. But then I looked more closely, catching my breath.  “It can’t be,” I whispered.

“What?”

“It’s him!”  I waved frantically: “Haydn!”

He waved, smiled, and in the same moment, vanished. I looked at Erica. Her shocked face assured me I hadn’t imagined  him.

“Finally … after all these painful years … we’ve said goodbye.”

 


Friday Fictioneers writing challenge

 

 

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Don’t Blink

KENT - RED SHIRT - EYES ONLY

 

“Remember, Ronnie. Don’t blink. If you blink, it’s all over.”

Those words pounded through my brain right before I took a seat in front of the webcam, preparing to look into the eyes of the most evil scientific mind on the planet. But I knew I had to cleanse those words from my brain. My expertise in the field of mind control and the organic manipulation that can emanate from it kept me from allowing those words to have power in my psyche. What I had to do instead was forget about the suggestion of blinking all together and focus on my opponent instead.

Liam Sigurdsson was well-known for his advanced studies and experimentation in mind control. But he hadn’t been heard from for three years. News media speculated about him, but the only thing anyone knew for sure was that he was holed up in a home he’d built for himself and his staff in Iceland.

Four days ago, all of that secrecy came to an end — a dramatic and terrorizing end. Sigurdsson suddenly came out of hibernation with the news that he had managed to plant powerful bombs in the capitals of six major western nations. He further stated that they were set to go off at exactly the same time unless he got complete cooperation from the UN, and each of those individual nations in making him supreme dictator over their entire geographic areas.

The President of the United States, as well as the leaders of the other five nations — Canada, England, France, Germany, and Italy —  had all tried to reason with him. But to no avail. That’s when the President called me in.

I’m Ronald Bridgeport, American scientist and mind control expert. I’ve made some amazing discoveries concerning mind control and using the mind to manipulate the body.  Those subjects used to be considered part of the paranormal fringes of science, but my work has proven that they may have some very genuine, solid scientific foundations. I’ve won my share of awards for my research and for being able to prove a good many of my theories over the years. I’m well known internationally, of course, but not held in the kind of scientific esteem that Sigurdsson has acquired over the past couple decades.

Two days after Sigurdsson’s brutal announcement, I found myself sitting at a conference table across from several leading congressmen and two of the most celebrated scientists of our day, with the President just to my right at the end of the table. The heaviness in the atmosphere of the room when I’d entered had caused me to take a seat without saying a word. There was a bottle of water in front of me, and I reached for it because my nerves were so stressed that my  mouth was already dry. As I swallowed a couple mouthfuls of water, the President cleared his throat and spoke.

“Ronnie, I’ve known you for years now, and I can say without reservation that you’re one of the coolest men in a crisis that I’ve ever met. We need that cool head today.”

I looked at him as he spoke, and I could see the tension in every fiber of his body. “What can I do for you, Mr. President,” I asked.

“You’re aware of the world-wide threat coming from Liam Sigurdsson,” he said in a half question.

“Yes, sir. I’ve been following the news coverage of the whole thing. Is there more to it?”

“Well, for the most part, the news media have let it all out of the bag, but the one thing we know that the news boys don’t seem to is that you and Liam Sigurdsson have a long history.”

I nodded. I wasn’t sure how much the President knew, but I was willing to bet he had all the data at his fingertips. Such was the nature of our government surveillance and investigative forces.

He continued: “I understand that the two of you competed in a number of scientific projects during graduate school and then competed for two prestigious international awards in later years.” He looked at me with a question in his eyes.

“That’s correct. He won exactly half of those competitions in our school years, and he won one of the awards after we were both in our professional careers.”

“But you won the other award, which he coveted very badly, and you went on to be selected for the position as head of the Bon Homme Mind Manipulation Project that got world-wide acclaim.”

“Yes, sir, but I don’t see what that has to do with this situation,” I said, honestly confused.

“We know from dealing with the man that Sigurdsson — although a genius in his field — is also mentally deranged. And he has the largest ego the world has ever known. He doesn’t believe he can be defeated — well — let’s say he’s evidently convinced himself that he cannot be defeated — ever again. The only competition he’s ever had that brought him defeat has been with you.”

The President looked me in the eye, and I did the same to him, but I didn’t speak. He continued:  “So, playing on that theme, we’ve managed to infiltrate Sigurdsson’s privacy enough to suggest to him that if he wants the whole word to believe that he’s worthy to rule the six major nations in the world that have been the bastions of freedom and democracy until now, he needs to be able to defeat his greatest peer once and for all.”

My mouth fell open slightly, and I’m sure my eyes must have bugged out, because the congressmen and scientists across from me — who had remained totally silent up to that point — began to shift in their seats. I could literally feel them holding their breaths.

Finally, I found my voice. “I still don’t understand. You want me to do some kind of combat with Sigurdsson? Something physical or scientific or what?”

“We’ve offered him a challenge in his field of expertise,” the President answered. “We’ve challenged him to pit his mind-control and biokinetic abilities that he’s so proud of against yours. And whoever wins that battle will determine what happens with the bombs.”

I just looked at him. Looked him in the eye. I couldn’t look away. Inside my head, I could hear myself screaming “What! Are you crazy!” But I couldn’t speak a word out loud. I just looked at him. And the other people in the room held themselves so rigid waiting for my answer that I could feel the tension from the other side of the table.

I finally spoke — in a surprisingly quiet voice: “And what did he say to your challenge?”

“He agreed.”

Again, I could hear shocked questions pounding through my head, but I didn’t speak them out. As I sat there silent for a few moments, I realized that I wasn’t really surprised at all. Liam Sigurdsson was deranged. It’s true he was a genius. So was I for that matter. In fact, we had exactly the same IQ. But the man could not live with a challenge to his ego. He felt compelled to rise to such a challenge, and he wouldn’t even think beyond that feat to what the possible repercussions might me. Of course, he was not even entertaining the idea of failure on his part.

“And you think you can actually believe a man who is so deranged, Mr. President?”

He nodded his head. “We’ve secured a mediator that is acceptable to both Sigurdsson and to us. Sigurdsson will give him the details concerning the bombs, and the mediator will be locked away in a secure place until the contest is over. When he’s notified of the winner, he’ll either turn the information over to us … or … in the event … ”  He stopped and took a deep breath. “In the event that Sigurdsson wins, the mediator will simply hand the information back to him.”

I took a deep breath as well. And the men and women on the other side of the table finally took one too. A few of them leaned back in their chairs, obviously glad the worst of the story had been related. I glanced at them and then back to the President.

“And when is this challenge supposed to take place?”

“Tomorrow at noon.”

“And how long does it last?”

“Until one of you blinks.”

“What?” I shook my head to clear it, certain I’d heard wrong. I glanced at the people across the table, saw shock on their faces as well, and realized they hadn’t been told the details yet either. So I looked back at the President. “What did you say?”

“The contest will last until one of you blinks. That’s the challenge. Both you and Sigurdsson have developed a large following for your research and proven theories in the areas of mind control and organic manipulation. That’s the arena he wants to defeat you in. To prove that he has developed in those areas to a much higher degree than you have. So that’s the challenge he has chosen to accept. You’ll sit and stare at each other via webcam, and whoever blinks first … loses.”

As wild and off-the-wall as the whole strategy sounded, I couldn’t refuse my commander-in-chief. Besides, what other option did we have? We could send in military power and annihilate Sigurdsson, but we couldn’t shut off the bombs.  So I went home to “get some rest” — the President’s words — not mine. That was about 7:00 last night.

As I prepared for bed, I found myself going over in my mind the Bible story I’d known from childhood about David and Goliath. I picked up my Bible and began reading the story again. It was inspiring, to say the least: a young, apparently defenseless, youth standing up to the biggest bully of his day — and winning. To be sure, there had to have been some supernatural help involved.

So as I lay my head on my pillow, I whispered, with all the vulnerability of a child, “Lord, it seems the fate of the whole free world is resting on my shoulders — or rather on my eyelids — tomorrow. Sir … I’d just like to say … I could sure use some of the same kind of help that You gave that shepherd boy.”

That brings us to this morning, 11:50 eastern time, when I took a seat in front of the webcam set up at the White House. I had requested that I be left in the room alone once the camera came on. So everyone else began filing out, and that’s when the President leaned over to me, gripped me by the shoulder and whispered, “Remember, Ronnie. Don’t blink. If you blink, it’s all over.”

 


Daily Post Prompt: Blink

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Leonard Takes Life by the Antlers

 

ARNOLD HEARING BIRDS - WHITE SPOTLIGHT
“Nicholas, is something troubling you this evening?” asked Lydia Claus, pausing in her embroidery work.

“Hmmmm?” Nick made the sound without shifting his gaze from the flames in the fireplace.

“I asked what’s wrong, Dear. You haven’t been your jolly self for almost two days.”

Nick sighed, finally looking across at his wife in her chair. “It’s Leonard, Mama.”

“Leonard? Leonard, the elder deer?”

“Yes.” Nick sighed again, but didn’t continue. He seemed lost in his own thoughts again.

“Nick,” Lydia said, putting down her embroidery and sitting up straighter in her chair. “Is Leonard sick?”

“Hmm? Oh … oh, no, he’s not sick … not exactly.”

“Well, what on earth does that mean?”

Nick reached to a little table beside his chair and picked up his pipe. He lit it, and the sweet-scented smoke curled off into the air. “Leonard isn’t sick, Mama. He’s just old … very old. And I’m afraid he can’t do any real work around here any longer. He just sort of stands around watching the younger deer – or worse – sometimes he just lies in his stall and doesn’t even get out for exercise. He feels useless I think.”

“But his son Rudolph is still your lead reindeer, and I know that’s always made Leonard so proud. He’s the one who trained Rudolph to fly and to maneuver so beautifully. In fact, he trained almost all of your teams, didn’t he?”

“Oh, yes. He’s been more valuable to me than almost any other deer in our herd, but he doesn’t feel up to training the younger deer any longer. I’ve had to turn that job over to his younger cousin Archibald.”

“Oh, dear. I wish there were something I could do.”

“Me too,” Nick said, rising and heading toward the kitchen. “But perhaps I’ll think of something soon.”

(Next day. In the stable.)

“Leonard,” said Gladys Reindeer, “I wish you wouldn’t feel so sad. After all, look at all the teams of reindeer you’ve trained for Santa over the years. You should feel proud and just enjoy your time of rest.”

“Rest! Bah! I have to sit by and watch that whippersnapper Archy take my place as Santa’s right-hand. It’s degrading … humiliating … and worse … it’s terribly depressing.”

“But you can still give the elves rides and help with hauling the smaller toys from the toyshop to the warehouse for storage. It’s not as if you don’t do anything.”

“It’s not the same, Gladys. There are scores of other reindeer on the place who can do all that. And they do. In fact, they can do it all faster, and most days they’re already on the job before I can get my old bones and muscles moving. I just wish there were something I could do again that was special.”

“Well, my dear” – Gladys nuzzled his nose – “you will always be very special to me – and to Rudolph. And just think of our son. He’s become so famous, and he’s so good at what he does … and he gives you all the credit – rightly so, I might add.”

“Oh, he’s a source of pride, all right. It’s gratifying to see how well he’s done. But it doesn’t change my feeling of uselessness now.” Leonard plodded out of the stable, his head hanging low.

“Where are you going, dear?”

He sighed. “I don’t know. I think I’ll go for a walk in the forest. I do always feel a little better when I listen to the Redbirds sing for a while.”

Leonard walked slowly through the forest, stopping now and then to rest and listen to the sounds of all the other creatures he’d come to know and love. He hadn’t heard any Redbirds in song today, but as he moved farther into the woods, he heard a cacophony of bird voices that troubled him.

He followed the sounds to a huge Spruce tree where one of his favorite Redbird friends had her home. But something strange was happening today. Several men in hard hats were surrounding the tree, examining it. Off to the side sat a huge truck with a long flatbed on the back. Suddenly, one of the men pulled a lever on the machine he held in his hands, and the machine started groaning loudly enough to hear it on the other side of the forest.

At that moment, Leonard’s Redbird friend swooped down toward the man, screeching and acting as though she would attack him. A couple of her friends did the same. One of the other men picked up a large stick and started swinging at the birds.

Leonard couldn’t believe his eyes. He hurried over to the scene and called out to his friend. “What’s wrong?” He asked. “Can I help?”

“Oh, Leonard,” the Redbird cried, flying over to him, “I don’t know what to do! These men are going to cut down my tree and use it for the Christmas tree in the center of town. But my nest is there, and my little babies are just about to hatch. I can’t let them cut down my home and kill my babies. But I can’t get them moved to a safe place without building another nest, and that will take too long. What can I do? What can I do?’

The chainsaw had stopped momentarily, while the men talked together, but now it started up again. Leonard thought quickly. “I know!” he said. “I will come and lift your nest onto my antlers and carry it away safely.”

“That’s very kind of you, and it would get my babies out of the tree, but where can I put them? It will take me at least three days to build a new nest anywhere – and that’s if I can find the materials. Wild animals will find my babies and eat them before I can get it done.”

“No they won’t. I will keep the nest in my antlers until you build another nest. You can sit on your eggs in your nest, and when your babies are hatched, you can feed them and take care of them just the way you always do. I have nothing else I have to do these days, and I will enjoy being useful.

“Oh my, what a great friend you are. How can I ever thank you?”

“There’s no need. In fact, I’m the one who’s grateful. I was feeling rather useless lately, and it’s a wonderful thing to know that I am not useless after all. I can be a help to my friends. And, in fact, when you have your new nest built and have moved into it, I think I’ll go walking through the forest every day looking for other friends to help. There must be many things I can do for them if I just set my mind to it.” He grinned at Redbird. “You’ve helped me see that I have a future with unlimited possibilities.”

The chainsaw had stopped again, and the men were measuring something. “Come on,” said Leonard, “let’s hurry and go around to the other side where your nest is. I’ll burrow my way between the branches and lift off the nest, and you can make sure it’s settled safely. Then we’ll go back to Santa’s stable, and you and your babies can enjoy Christmas with Gladys and me. She will be so pleased to have guests for Christmas Day.”


If you enjoyed this story, think about checking out my Christmas anthology: Stocking Full Of Stories.  It includes this story as well as 10 other stories for the season. It’s available from Amazon in digital or paperback.

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‘Stocking Full Of Stories’ – now in Paperback! Yay!!!

STOCKING AMAZON COVER - front

IT’S FINALLY HERE in PAPERBACK!

Why not buy yourself an early Christmas present this year? My Christmas anthology, Stocking Full Of Stories, is just what you need to add that extra little sparkle to this year’s celebration.  Stories about love, challenge, hope, faith, and ridiculously funny stuff as well.  There’s 11 stories in all.

It’s also a great stocking-stuffer (no pun intended).

$5.50 at Amazon. Just follow this link:

 

 

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How About a Glass of Wine?

photo copyright: Sarah Ann Hall

 

“What the heck are they?”
“They look like candle holders to me.”
“Hmmm, I don’t see any candles. Hey this one is open down to the bottom … and so is this one. Maybe they’re fancy vases.”
“Well, they sure wouldn’t hold many flowers. Wonder why Aunt Enid left them to us.”
“Honey, you know Aunt Enid. When she’d had her daily wine quota, she was liable to do almost anything.”
“That’s it!  That’s what we’ll use them for.”
“Huh?”
“At our next dinner party, we’ll use them as wine glasses.”
“Well, that’s one way to start conversation. Let’s get ’em washed.”

 


Friday Fictioneers Fun.

 

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The Journey – Friday Fictioneers 9/8/17

FF - DANNY BOWMAN LANDSCAPE
Copyright: Danny Bowman

 

Created by feet of Shoshone buffalo hunters, the trail had eventually become a stage coach road. But today, Hiram Baker plodded it alone – hungry, thirsty, bone-weary. His horse had given out two days ago, and all that kept him going was the love of a blue-eyed woman waiting for him beyond that mountain range. Cecilia had promised to marry him as soon as he was released from prison. Eight years could change a woman’s heart … but he knew Cecilia. Her heart could feel his, and those blue eyes would see him as he crossed over the summit.


 

Follow this link to participate in this week’s Friday Fictioneers and share your own 100-word story.

Weekly Smile 85

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make our life happy. Each time I look at this picture of the donkey, I find myself smiling. I wrote this story some time back in response to a flash fiction challenge, but I found myself thinking about this picture as I pondered my “smile” this week, so I decided to share Clover’s story here.

DONKEY

Clover nuzzled the sweet-smelling ground cover that had inspired her name. She lived here now, on Old Jake’s homestead, having stumbled onto it by accident – or by Divine intervention – after being beaten by her previous owner and barely escaping. Limping through the stormy night, she’d eventually collapsed  in this sweet-smelling field.

Next morning, Jake had found her, huddled in pain and traumatized by her injuries. He’d bathed her wounds, fed her, petted her, and made her his own. She had the run of the farm, but her favorite spot was this field of sweet clover where she spent quiet days being grateful to Old Jake for his love.


 

To participate in ‘Weekly Smile’ visit “Trent’s World.”

 

 

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Friday Fictioneers 7.28.17: “Love On The Line # 2”

This week’s Friday Fictioneers picture prompt reminded me of a delightful and heart-melting true story that I read about several years ago. It took place during WWII, and involved a real U. S. serviceman, the woman who was the love of his life, and a tender-hearted, romantic telephone operator. I was so touched by the story that I told it (changing names, etc.) in a poem on this site about four years ago. That poem, however, in order to tell the whole story properly, took much more than 100 words.

But when I saw the picture today, I just couldn’t get away from that love story, so I’ve tried my best to squeeze it into the requirements for our FF challenge. I’m still 14 words over the limit, but if your romance outweighs your legalism, you might enjoy it anyway.

Today’s thought-provoking prompt comes to us from J. Hardy Carroll.

 

LOVE ON THE LINE

“Operator, I’m calling Susan Wheeler, St. Louis.”
“This blizzard may interfere with connection, sir.”
“Please try, my 2-day leave is almost gone.”

“Hello.”
“I have a call for Susan Wheeler from Bill Meadows in Boston.”
“This is Susan.”
“Hold please. Go ahead sir.”
“Susan! Sweetheart!”
“Oh, Bill, I was getting worried.”
“Honey, the blizzard’s too bad for me to get there, but I must ask you something important.”
ZZZZmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
“Sorry sir, we’ve lost your connection.”
“NO! Please. I’m trying to propose!”
“It’s no use sir.”
“Noooooooooo!”
“But she can hear me. Shall I relay your question?”
“Yes, please; I have to know! Ask her if she’ll marry me.”

“Great news, Sir. She says yes!”


If you’re interested enough to get the more complete version, here’s a link to the poem.

 

 

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Friday Fictioneers: 7/14/17

To participate in this week’s Friday Fictioneers, visit Rochelle’s site. The picture prompt below is the property of  Janet Webb.

 

BETRAYED BY TECHNOLOGY

He’d done it. He smiled at the perfect job. He’d left her lying across the bed with the pill bottle in her hand. And she hadn’t even suspected that he’d doctored her drink.

She did love to drink, and that had made it so easy. He smiled again as he leaned back in his easy chair savoring his success. Leaving the lone candle burning was an artistic touch. And his fake alibi was so tight, he’d never be suspected.

Now, to call Bernard and report his success. Reaching into his pocket, he froze. Where the hell was his cell phone?

 

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Daily Post Prompt: Jangle

The jangling of the bells gradually seeped into Garret’s unconsciousness and began to nudge him into a little clarity.  He listened for several moments before trying to open his eyes. When he finally lifted the heavy lids, the light seemed blinding and pain shot through is head at the entrance of that light. He immediately shut his eyelids again and groaned.

Unfortunately, the groan itself caused more pain in his head. He was lying flat on hard ground, and he tried to lift his right arm to touch his head and see if he could determine what was wrong. He did manage to get his arm up, but it felt so heavy, he didn’t bother to take it all the way to his head.

The jangling sound was coming closer, and he wondered why the sound itself didn’t cause him more pain. Maybe because it was very low-toned and rhythmic. It reminded him of something, but he couldn’t think what.  In fact, he felt as if he couldn’t think much of anything.  That scared him, but before he could delve into that problem, a gentle voice spoke to him, and a soft hand touched his shoulder.

“Mister, are you alive?”  The voice sounded young, but masculine. He opened his eyes again and, in spite of the pain, managed to roll his eyes to the side enough to see a young boy — perhaps twelve or thirteen — kneeling beside him on the ground. He spoke again. “Oh, you are alive. Thank goodness. Can you move?”

Garret put all his strength into slowly moving his head toward the boy and forcing out the words. “A little.”

The boy heaved a sigh of relief. “You’re not far from my house. I’m on my way home with our cows now, and I will tell my father. He will come for you and help you.”

Garrett gave a small nod of his head, but stopped immediately. Too much pain. So he croaked out his thanks and closed his eyelids again. The young boy patted him on the shoulder and rose, calling to his cows.  As he did so, the jangling sound, which had been intermittent during the conversation with the boy, now began its rhythmic music again as the herd evidently obeyed the boy’s command.

During the wait for the boy’s father, Garrett slipped in and out of consciousness, but his periods of lucidity were longer now and more clear. The pain had dulled a little, and when he heard an engine approaching, he took heart and even lifted his head slightly to look that direction. Pain seared him, but he took courage when he saw the old truck.

The farmer had his young boy with him, as well as another grown man. They stooped down and the second man spoke. “I was a medic in the army, sir, and I’m going to try to check you before we try to get you up.”

“Thanks,” Garrett managed to whisper. The young man began to feel Garrett’s arms and legs and press on his abdomen, checking for broken bones or internal injuries. As he worked he reported that he was fairly sure Garrett had a concussion, and that one leg was broken and a shoulder dislocated. But with the help of some splinting materials he had brought along, he felt it was safe to get Garret up and into the truck. They had already phoned the doctor before leaving the house, and he’d promised to come out to the farm when he was finished with hospital rounds.

During the transfer to the truck, Garrett lost consciousness again, but when he was finally lying flat and had a cold cloth on his head, he came to. “Can you tell us your name, Son,” the farmer asked, as he sat beside Garrett in the truck bed for the trip.

Garrett opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He couldn’t find a name — no name at all. He couldn’t find any identity in his conscious mind. He turned fear-filled eyes to the farmer.  “No sir,” Garrett said.  “I don’t know my name … I don’t know who I am ….”



Daily Post Prompt: Jangle

 

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‘After the Storm’ – Friday Fictioneers 6/16/17

Photo Prompt:  Copyright Dale Rogerson

 

AFTER THE STORM

“Ouch! Hey, watch where you’re stepping!”

“Sorry. I was taking pictures of the moon breaking through.”

“What’s the big deal? The moon’s out every night.”

“Not bursting through the center of heavy storm clouds. Aren’t you glad that vicious storm’s over?”

“That storm destroyed my home and killed my dog. The moon won’t change any of that. Now move!”

He shoved past, and she froze, remembering how, years before, Hurricane Katrina had robbed her of her home, her husband, and her son.

Suddenly, she looked up and refocused her camera. It was important to remember that storms didn’t last forever.


To participate with your own 100-word story, visit Friday Fictioneers host at this link.

 

 

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Friday Fictioneers 6/9/17: ‘The Gardener’

It’s been a while since I’ve had opportunity to participate in Friday Fictioneers, but this week’s photo just pulled this little tale right out of me. If you’d like to join in the fun, visit Rochelle at the link above.

This week’s photo is courtesy of Sarah Potter. There was no link for Sarah on the host site. Sorry. But her photo is below, and my story follows that.

summer house

Photo © Sarah Potter


THE GARDENER

There it was: the jar labeled plant food. Just as I’d left it when they’d handcuffed me and carted me off. It looked innocuous amidst the heinous overgrowth of Hilda’s desk-top garden. Everyone knew plants were her life, and a jar of food drew no attention at all.

The police finally released me; no trace of evidence I had poisoned her. The doctor identified the fatal stuff with some multi-syllabled word, but nothing pointed to my having any of it.

Now … to mix a drink for these damned plants with the rest of that powder.

 

 

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Releasing the Creative Writer in You – Lesson 9

 

For previous lessons, click on “Creative Writing Class” in the navigation bar above.

releasing-the-creative-writer-in-you-coverLESSON 9: INTRODUCTIONS – FIRST LINES, FIRST PARAGRAPHS, FIRST PAGES

 

Without a doubt, the first and primary job of your introduction to your story is to GRAB the reader’s attention and interest – and HOLD them securely. People sometimes consider attention and interest to be the same things. They are not. You must get the reader’s attention first. He has to pay enough attention to what your words are saying to read through more than the first few sentences. From that point on, you must have him interested enough to keep turning pages.

Once you have written a story, always go back to the first chapter and ask yourself, “Is there anything in this first chapter that is holding up the presentation of the really important characters or their action?” If so, delete it and get right into the “story” part of the story. If there is necessary information in the material you deleted, work it into the story later – perhaps through dialogue or even a character’s meditation.

Try your best to avoid prologues. In general, readers do not like prologues because they feel the material in that section of the book is keeping them from actually getting into the story itself. Occasionally, a prologue may be necessary, but the all-important operative words here are “occasionally” and “necessary.” In almost every novel, any material presented in the prologue can be worked into the first chapter of the book through dialogue and/or character meditation as the chapter flows along.

There are almost unlimited possibilities for great introductions – as many possibilities as there are writers. But most of them will fall into 4 main categories.

Intros beginning with ACTION.

This type of intro is almost always sure to get attention, and assuming the reader has picked up the book because he already has some degree of interest in the subject it covers, this plan is successful most of the time. However, be aware that if you begin action that is part of the main plot of the story, you may have to work your reader back to a place of beginning somewhere along the way, and you don’t want too much use of flashbacks, since they don’t move the story forward. Plan carefully so that most of the time you can avoid the need for flashbacks or the need to stop and give backstory information.

Intros beginning with DIALOGUE.

This type of intro is almost always a winner, as long as you can make clear who is speaking – and as long as the conversation is an important element in the story as a whole.

Intros beginning with SETTING.

These introductions are the hardest to use successfully because many readers are anxious to get to characters and action. However, settings that provide really strong appeal to the senses or emotions can work very well. Settings that immediately start building suspense or romance are often successful as well.

Intros beginning with a CHARACTER SKETCH.

Beginning with a strong character and presenting him/her in terms that immediately capture the senses and/or emotions will usually work well – mainly in character-driven stories, of course.

MAN TYPING HUGE PAGE - w. textAnd remember: always double-check your first chapter after the story is complete. That’s the time when you’ll know for sure whether you have the very best beginning possible.
More than once, I’ve changed my first chapter — particularly the first three paragraphs — in order to get the reader right into the important issues of the story, rather than just stuffing him with information.

I remember well the day I realized that the third chapter of my novel Quenton’s Honor should actually be Chapter 1 instead. I was sitting, thinking about offering Chapter 1 for a free reading on a couple different Internet sites. I caught myself thinking that I wished I could offer Chapter 3 instead because that’s where the real action of the story starts. Suddenly, I had this “light bulb” moment and realized “DUH!  If that’s where the action starts, then that should be Chapter 1 instead of Chapter 3.”

And so — I made it Chapter 1. However, it was not nearly as easy to do it as it was to decide. I was working with a change in location throughout the story — from St. Louis, USA, to Karachi, Pakistan. As I went back and forth with the plot, I had to keep reminding myself and making allowances for the time change — particularly since a good deal of the conversation in some chapters took place on computers between two people who were located literally a half a world away from each other.

Beginning the book with Chapter 3 — and allowing for all the time differences — put me in the position of actually losing 12 days of activity in the story that were important to the plot —  but not attention-grabbing enough to start the story with. So I had to find a way to let the reader know about everything that happened in those 12 days. I finally decided to use a very short flashback. As I mentioned above, it’s important not to use flashbacks often or for any long sections of the story. They don’t move the story forward, and that’s what readers want to do — keep going forward to the climax and conclusion. But once in a while a short flashback can come in handy, and if it means a much more  compelling beginning chapter, then it’s worth the risk of using it later in the story.


This lesson will be the final lesson in this series. I will try to post a few more later in the year. Also, when I get the online creative writing course set up — so that students can read the lessons and do an assignment which they turn in via e-mail — I’ll be letting my readers know about the details. It’s been fun sharing with you the same kinds of things I share with my students in the college classes. I hope they’ve been beneficial. Whatever you do, keep writing and keep having fun doing it!


* Releasing the Creative Writer in You, © 2013 by Sandra Pavloff Conner

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