Monday, March 26, 2012


A writing prompt: Start the story with the following sentence: She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.The music swelled as she slipped into the back row.

Some of the signatures in the book had been easier to read than others: her sister’s, her mother’s. What would they say to her now? Had it really been five years since she stormed out of the house with her backpack and suitcase, screaming at her father, “I hate you; I’ll never set foot in this house again.” Hateful, hurtful words. James had been waiting and they drove for two days to lengthen the distance from her disapproving family. 

“You’re too young Kelly; you’re only 18,” her father said. “Plus he’s a hoodlum, just like his old man.”

He had been right, of course. Jailed twice for theft and DUI, James had been undependable.

“I feel trapped in this apartment, in this relationship,” he said, leaving her after the first year with only a few possessions and substantial debt. But she didn’t have the courage to go home, so she got a second job and applied for financial aid to enroll in the local community college.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

She opened her purse and pulled out the torn newspaper clipping she’d received in the mail. Her sister wrote, “Come Home. Miss You” at the top. She had no idea how her sister knew where to find her. 

“I miss you too, sis,” she whispered.

“For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

She worked tirelessly to be a good employee at her two jobs and a good student at school. It had all paid off; she finally completed all of the requirements and passed the Certified Medical Assistant exam. During that time she bonded with one classmate who became a special friend. David listened to her story, dried her tears, kept her positive, and encouraged her to return home.

“Mend the bridge Kelly,” he said. “Before it’s too late.”

But it was too late.

It took the handwritten note from her sister to give her the courage to be there today. She had waited until all the guests entered the building before she walked into the vestibule. She stood listening to the murmuring of people inside the chapel before she approached the memory table and the book.

The pictures tore at her heart. Laughing pictures, family pictures, pictures of her and her father.

Now from her seat at the back of the room she could see the bowed heads of her mother and sister, and the casket, stately displayed, covered with flowers. Would she be able to tell them how sorry she was that she hadn’t been there these last five years? Hadn’t been there when her father passed away. Hadn’t been there to tell him she really did love him.

"Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life."

 Not for me, Kelly thought. I don’t deserve any goodness or loving kindness.

When the service concluded, the first row of family was escorted down the aisle. Kelly held her breath and studied her mother as she walked past, unseeing. The look of unmistakable sadness and loss was palpable, and tears coursed down Kelly’s cheeks. Her sister followed behind, her eyes darting from one side of the aisle to the other, then resting on Kelly. A brilliant smile lit her face as she rushed to embrace her. 

“I knew you‘d come.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bella and Her Person

Ann’s Galumping Prompt:
 Make up a story using the following sentences:
The top shelf in the corner kitchen cabinet, the one that’s hard to reach.
A small, glitter-covered, red and yellow bird
A blank check mistakenly thrown into the trash. 
A step ladder with no third step.

Bella licked her paw and feigned indifference to the goings on in the kitchen. Her person was spring cleaning, and not paying the least bit of attention to the pink and white ceramic food dish that sat on the floor empty.

“Meow, now,” she tried again.

Her person turned, balancing on the top of a step ladder with no third step. She was cleaning out the top shelf of the corner kitchen cabinet, the one that was hard to reach.

“Just a minute, Bella. Can’t you see I’m busy? I don’t want to fall off this worthless piece of.. .  never mind, here I come.”

After her person filled the food dish, she opened the cabinet under the sink to toss the empty can into the garbage.

“Oh no, did I do that again?” she said pulling out a piece of paper from the garbage, whacking her head with the heel of her hand.

Bella looked up, licking the remnants of tuna treat off her whiskers. That’s the second time this month she’s mistakenly thrown a blank check into the trash. No skin off my nose as long as she keeps a roof over my head and the cat food coming.

She moved to the family room to complete her post-postprandial bath, just far enough away for privacy, but close enough to keep an eye on her person. She was tottering on that step ladder again, reaching into the depths of the top cabinet.

Out of the corner of her kitty eye she saw her person produce a small glitter-covered red and yellow bird.

“Oh, look at this, Bella. It was my Aunt Beth’s,” she said stepping down and missing the third step, tumbling to the floor.

The red and yellow bird flew across the room landing several feet away.

This is more like it, thought Bella assuming the pounce position. Now you have my attention.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Story from Ann's Plotting Challenge

Plotting Challenge:
Here are some basic facts about Loretta.  She is 49.  She is left-handed.  She lives Taos, New Mexico.  Her favorite color is red.  She wears wedgie sandals, of a style she discovered in 1978, when she ordered a dozen pairs.  She works as a part-time librarian and Home Health Aide.  She has a two bedroom bungalow with a mortgage she can barely afford.  She lives alone.  One of her eyes is glass.
Give Loretta a plot.  Conflict?  Struggle?  Resolution?


She replayed the message Myron left on her phone. “There was a fire at the jail complex, and in the all the ruckus he escaped, Loretta. You need to be on high alert.”

She threw down the phone and sank into the red upholstered chair beside it. Now what was she going to do.  Her contact from the Witness Protection Program was her only connection to her past life. She’d made sure to erase anything that could trace her to Taos, New Mexico.  She had even changed careers, dyed her hair, and wore glasses, even though she didn’t need them. 

 She took off the red framed glasses and rubbed her left eye, remembering why it was not her own – why she now had a glass eye. He’d almost killed her that night. She’d discovered his connection to the drug cartel when she overheard a conversation on the phone. She had picked up the extension in her apartment bedroom at the same time he answered the phone in the living room and had listened long enough to hear the delivery date for a shipment of cocaine and the plan for a murder. 

She had tried to act nonchalant, but her boyfriend, Demetri, had heard the click when she hung up the extension and had confronted her. That’s when the violence began. He had beaten her to within an inch of her life and left her to die. When she hadn’t shown up for work at the County Library the next day, her friend Mona had come to her apartment, found her, and called 911.

She had found out later that the police had been following Demetri for the last year and were now hoping to talk to her. They stationed a guard outside her hospital room while she underwent several surgeries to repair the damage to her face. She’d lost her left eye and now had a metal plate in her head, but would recover.  She gave the police all the information she heard, which put Demetri behind bars. It would cost her the life she currently lived, but with no family and at the age of 48, she was fine with it. Lynette disappeared into the Witness Protection Program and became Loretta. 

In Taos, she bought a small two bedroom bungalow and began training as a Home Health Aid.  She worked at the local library on the weekends, just because it was her first love. Money was tight but she was getting used to the new arrangement. Her only regret was leaving behind her best friend Mona without an explanation
Now a year later, she had a job as a Home Health Aid for an adult foster home and was settled in, but she never let her guard down. She picked up the phone to return Myron’s call. 

“H..h..hello.”  The woman was crying. “Who, who is this?”

“Ah, I’m calling for Myron,” she answered, stunned that someone had access to his private phone. 

“You’re too late. He’s dead,” the woman wailed.

Myron was her only contact. It would now be up to her to protect herself. She tried not to panic. She was resourceful, she was a quick thinker. She had to figure it out. Should she go to the police here? No, there was no one to confirm her identity or her predicament.

Loretta was scheduled to work the Friday evening shift, so she dressed in her usual red scrubs and red wedgie sandals . This was the last pair of a dozen she had bought thirty some years ago, the only thing she brought with her to Taos from her past. That and the can of Bear Spray that Myron had given her.

Her assignment that evening was Miss Ellen, a 92 year-old sweet lady who was wheelchair-bound and attached to an oxygen tank. Miss Ellen’s handsome son Robert came to visit her every evening.

“You know Loretta, my Robert is a widower and has a good job and a nice car. He’s only 55 and he should get married again. Maybe you’d like to have coffee with him.”

“Thank you Miss Ellen, but I’m not ready for any attachments right now,” she said, blushing as she looked up to see Robert at the door.

“We’ll have to see about that. Perhaps dinner tomorrow?”  Robert said giving her a friendly smile.

“She’d love to,” said Miss Ellen, “wouldn’t you dear. The Cozy Corner would be perfect. She’ll meet you there at 6 p.m.”

“Ah, well, okay then,” Loretta responded. She did think he was handsome and their brief conversations over the past several months had been pleasant.

But all evening Loretta was distracted, worrying about her problem. She knew she didn’t want a gun. After her surgery she had suddenly become left handed and was not as adept with it as she had been as a right-hander. She’d have to make room in her big bulky purse for the Bear Spray. It would now accompany her everywhere. Just in case.

Saturday morning she dressed a pair of red slacks and a red floral blouse. She fumbled with the strap of the red wedgie and cursed her clumsy left-handedness. Checking herself in the mirror she straightened her hairdo, gave it one more shot of hairspray, and grabbed her heavy purse, ready for work.

It was a quiet morning at the library. There were several students at the computers and a dozen patrons wandering the aisles. She was manning the check-out desk, when a man approached and tossed a note on the counter.

“MEET ME OUTSIDE NOW” was printed in bold letters.

She looked up into Demetri's eyes.  He grinned maliciously, opening his jacket to show the gun in his hand. He jerked his head towards the side door.

She couldn’t believe how fast he’d found her. Poor Myron.  Shaking, she grabbed her purse from under the counter and headed for the door. Once out the door, she slipped one hand inside her purse and grabbed the can of Bear Spray. She spun towards him and squirted it in his face. He dropped the gun, screamed in agony and fell to the ground. 

He writhed on the ground trying to wipe the dripping foam from his eyes with one hand, and groped for his gun with the other. She kicked it as far away as she could with her toe-less red sandal. The side door had locked when they exited, so she sprinted to the front door to call the police.

When she was assured they were on their way, she ran back to the front door just in time to see Demetri get into a black Ford Mustang and drive haphazardly through the parking lot. He gunned the engine when he got to the street and moments later she heard a loud crash and saw flames shoot towards the sky.

By the time the police and fire department arrived, the car was totally engulfed in flames. After she had given them her statement, they told her the man at the wheel had died. 

Free. She was free.

Loretta took the rest of the day off and headed towards the downtown mall. A new slinky red dress and some spiked red heels were on the shopping list for her date tonight. The red wedgies were going in the garbage - the last symbol of her old life.