Showing posts with label Magpie Tales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magpie Tales. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Road to Nowhere

Photo by Mark Haley
Spying an old man
Sitting beneath a tree
I pause and asked him kindly
Just where does this road lead
The man just sat and stared 
Beware the road to nowhere
Was all that he would say

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Winged Woman

Written for Magpie Tales #184.  Click on the links below if you would like to read Eli's adventures up to this point.

The Princess
Eli and the Redhead

Remember Eli?  He's the guy who woke up in a giant bird nest.  As it turned out it was really a dream, but what had precipitated it?  His mother told him fairy tales about giant birds who lived in the enchanted forest.  They even raised a child among the tree tops and made her a princess of their family.
artwork by Jeanie Tomanek 

That was just a fairy tale, or so she said.  She never admitted any different or denied the possibility that it was more truth than fiction.

When we last saw Eli, he had just woken up with a substantial hangover after drinking himself into oblivion over a redheaded vixen named Judy in the Come As You Are Saloon.

With his head throbbing, he stumbled into the bathroom reaching for the alka-seltzer, or pepto or anything else that could slay the herd of elephants stampeding through his head. "Why?" he asked himself over and over again.  "Why do things like this always happen to me?"

He fell back on the couch and drifted off again.  Soon he was dreaming of tall trees and sunlight streaming through to the moss-covered ground.  On a branch just above his head he saw a woman.  She was beautiful with soft brown curls framing her face.  What he noticed then took him aback.  She had the most magnificent white wings.  Was she an angel?  Had he died?  Shortly before he had felt like it. 

"Who are you?" he asked, puzzled that there would be a winged woman in a tree.

"Fear not, Eli" she replied in a singsong voice, "for I am your mother.  You do not recognize me because to you this is a dream.  This is the only way I could tell you the truth.  I know you have wondered for a long time.  I know of your dreams.  I was part of those dreams.  It was my way of bringing you to the truth."

"Mother" he began, searching for words.  "All those fairy tales about the princess...that was really you after all wasn't it?  I felt it in my heart, but knew that logically it was impossible.  Birds are birds and people are people.  People don't fly or live in trees, well except for Tarzan, and he didn't fly." 

As he stood there silently staring up at the woman in the tree, he saw her begin to change.  Gradually her soft features became more angular and her curls changed into sleek white feathers.  The basket she had held in her hand fell to the ground.

"Good-bye Eli."

Suddenly there on the ledge appeared a white bird, and much to Eli's surprise he understood what was being said.  

"Come Princess, it's time to go. He knows the truth now and that knowledge will serve him well."

"Yes" replied his mother, "He will be all right now." 

The Quote of the Week will return next Monday!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beyond the Window

Big Room, 1948, by Andrew Wyeth
Beyond the window he could see her sitting in the garden.  A sad look clouded her sweet face.  He wanted so much for her...would give her the world if he could, but she did not want it.  She never wanted this.  The large house, the servants, the driver who would take her anywhere she wanted to go. Still she felt like a prisoner in her own home.  Long hours spent staring at the clock upon the mantle while she waited for him to return.  He knew she wasn't happy, and hadn't been for a long time.

If we can just make it through the next few years, he would tell her, then things will be different.  Ah, but she had heard that all before. 

As she sat on the bench beside the pond she felt him watching her as she watched the goldfish.  She turned toward the window and pasted a smile upon her face.  She knew he tried.  He knew he failed.  He knew she would be better off without him.  She knew she could never leave.

What happened next would free them both...

Written for Magpie Tales.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Princess

Eli was concerned about his latest dream.  It rang with an eerie reality.  Slowly he remembered...when he was just a lad his mother told him bedtime stories - fairy tales she called them.  He thought they were the same stories every mother told their children.  Ones from a fantasy land, but unlike King Arthur and Hansel and Gretel, her stories were tales of the animal kingdom.

Image source: djajakarta
The tale she told most often was about a princess who was raised by a family of giant birds.  They lived at the top of a huge tree in the middle of the enchanted forest.  They were the rulers of the forest and one day they found a tiny baby whose parents were killed by the beast who roamed the night just beyond the forest's edge.  They took the baby to their nest, cared for her and raised her as their own.  Because she was different, they made her a princess.  For years the princess lived among the tree tops until one day she realized that she didn't belong here, that there was another world below.  She bid a tearful good-bye to her bird family.  Over the years, her family had grown and she had hundreds of siblings.  They gathered to carry her safely to the ground where she began her new life.

But now Eli questioned whether that was really a fairy tale.  It might explain the weird dreams he had been having.  Could his mother be the princess of her tale?  Was she an orphan after all or was she really hatched?

Written for Magpie Tales.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Image Source: image: ParkeHarrison
During the night something strange has happened to Eli.  He stirs to consciousness only to feel all prickly.  His foggy mind is wondering who put all these sticks in his bed.  As he tries to stand up, sticks stab his bare feet.  Ouch!  What? 

It appears that Eli is standing in a giant bird nest.  This is ridiculous, he thinks.  There is no such thing as giant bird nests, or am I losing my mind? 

As he begins to climb out of his prickly confines, he stops to take a look around, and is startled at what he sees.  Tree tops.  Pines, oaks, etc.  How is it that he is standing in a giant bird nest at the top of a tree?

Oh no, he thought, I'm not standing in a giant bird nest.  It's much worse.  I am six inches tall, standing in a normal bird nest at the top of a tree.  Help!!!

When Eli finally did wake up, he found bits of twigs between his toes and a feather in his hair.

Written for Magpie Tales.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What If?

The sun stopped shining?
It would get cold and dark, and we'd all die.

It never rained again and our water sources dried up?
We'd have no food or water, and we'd all die.

You won the lottery?
It wouldn't save you if there were no sun or water.  Be thankful for what you have.

Written for Friday Flash 55 and Magpie Tales.
For clarification,  I am not against the lottery, but know that money doesn't fix everything either.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This sofa once graced a happy home. A young couple sat here enjoying the fire, and contemplating all that life had to offer. Then came the war, and he was gone. Time passed slowly, the letters few and far between. Then, months later, he was returned, but he wasn’t really there. Life didn’t seem to have as much to offer now.

She couldn’t stay – she didn’t want to go. In the end, she took the things she cherished and returned home to be near her family. He sits in a dreary room, day in – day out, most of the time staring blankly into space. He knows she’s not coming back.

Now the sofa, donated and re-donated, sits by the road, soiled and broken. Its cushions long gone to some homeless man living in a cardboard village in a dank alley where the rats roam bravely through the darkened streets.

A fictional story written for Magpie Tales #93.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Write From The Heart

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
Janet threw down her pen in disgust. “Whatever made me think I could be a writer in the first place?” Her cat, curled up on the sofa, barely acknowledged her outburst.

“Just because I wrote a few short stories and dabbled a bit in poetry over the years, I suddenly thought I could write the next great novel?” Never mind that her friends had been reading her stories for years and encouraging her to write more and longer pieces. You’ve got the knack. You’ve got talent. You can do this!"

“Ha! What do they know? No, that’s not fair. They were probably just being nice, and who knows maybe they really enjoyed my scribblings but that doesn’t mean I’ve got any real talent."

While she was ranting to herself about her inability to put any coherent words down on paper, she glanced at a magazine lying on the table and saw a quote by someone whose name she didn’t recognize. It said “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self” by Cyril Connolly.

That struck a chord with Janet. "Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me. I have been so worked up about trying to find the right plot, and the right storyline. What do people want to read?"

"Yeah, that counts for something, but it’s not everything. For a story to be good, you need to put yourself into it."

Finally! She put her pen and paper aside, and turned to her keyboard and began to write. This time from the heart.

Written for Magpie Tales.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Night to Remember

Image Source:  Magpie Tales
I look at the photo of our smiling faces.  We were happy then.  The three of us were on our way to our high school dance.  None of us had dates, but that didn't stop us.  We were filled with a zest for life, and hope for the future.  There was a big beautiful world out there just waiting for us to make our mark.

It was a warm fall evening, and the dance was the first event of our senior year.  Donna was driving her Dad's car.  She was the first one of us to get a driver's license.  She was a happy-go-lucky, up for anything girl.  Ben was the wild and crazy guy, the risk taker and live wire of our trio.  It fell to me to be the level-head voice of reason.

We arrived at the dance to find the the lights bright, the music dull and the dance floor nearly empty.  We had the car and permission to be out until 11:00, so why waste the night here.  Ben suggested we pick up his pal Rick and go hang out at the park.  Where Ben was a bit crazy, Rick seemed dangerous.  Donna and I were a little leery of him, but agreed because Rick could buy beer.  
We swung high on the swings with beer bottles in hand until we could barely walk.  Then we went down to the lake, toting a flashlight, blankets and the last six-pack.  Let's go swimming Rick said eyeing us girls, and Ben piped up a quick second.  "That's crazy" I said.  "It's dark and besides we don't have swim suits."  Donna, more of a free spirit than me, said "That's OK" and started to remove her skirt and blouse.  "Oh, all right," I agreed, not wanting to be the only stick in the mud.  One by one, we stripped down to our undies and waded into the lake.  The water was colder than we expected, and once in about waist deep, Rick and Ben took great delight in splashing Donna and me until we were all shivering. Thinking maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all, we slogged our way to the shore.

Back on dry land, we wrapped ourselves in the blankets and talked of our dreams and how we would take the world by storm.  "To good friends, good times, and having our whole lives ahead of us" toasted Ben as we finished off the beer.  "This is a night to remember."

Now the moon was high in the sky and it was getting late. "We need to get going," spoke the voice of reason, so we headed back to the car.  Donna was sleepy, so we let Rick drive.  That's where things started to go  Fast as in Rick was driving like a madman.  How many beers did he have anyway?  The road twisted right then left and back again.  We were approaching the curve too fast.  Rick lost control and yanked the wheel to bring the car back onto the road.  The car crossed back and then off the other side, crashing through a fence and down into a ditch plowing into a big oak tree.  It all happened in a matter of moments but it felt like slow motion. 

Rick was killed instantly when we hit the tree.  Donna died later from her injuries.  Ben and I were pinned in the back seat for what seemed like hours until we were found.  A passing driver saw the tail lights and went to call for help.

Ben walks with a limp, his right leg twisted as a result of being awkwardly pinned for so long.  I was the only one who escaped serious injury.  I was still wrapped in my blanket when I was removed from the car.  Ben could have had surgery to repair his damaged leg, but he chose to live with the pain and disfigurement as a reminder of that night, and his decision to include Rick in our plans.  The accident wasn't his fault, but he carries the guilt of their deaths with him every single day.

Yes, it was indeed a night to remember.

Written for Magpie Tales #79

For more fiction, please join me tomorrow at Sara Healy's a sharing connection where I will be guest posting. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Time to Go

Summer Evening, Edward Hopper, 1947
It was a hot summer night following the end of World War II.  A woman's voice could be heard above the call of the frogs and crickets.  "Charlie, you can't leave, it would break mama's heart.  She would be lost without you with Daddy gone."

Lauren, Charlie's sister, was trying to dissuade him from enlisting in the Army on his 18th birthday.  

"The war's over," Charlie explained.  "This is my chance to see the world, learn a trade, and make a life for myself.  Daddy would be proud."

"Daddy died in the war.  You think he'd want you running off and leaving mama and me.  To risk ending up like he did?"  Lauren was not only scared for her brother, she was angry.  Angry that he could just up and leave them.  It wasn't mama's heart that would break as much as her own.  Not only was he her brother, he was her twin and her best friend.  Losing him would be like losing half of herself.

Reading her thoughts, as he did so often, he said quietly, "Don't worry, you won't lose me.  I'll be safe.  Daddy will be watching over me.  It's time for me to go."

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Evening in Spring

The sun set over the lake streaking the clouds with brilliant orange and lavender and aqua accents.  Jenny and her mom sat on the back porch listening to the frogs and the crickets.  

"This is a perfect evening" said Jenny's mom.  "Do you know what would make it more perfect? asked Jenny. 

"What's that?" 


Written for Magpie Tales and Friday Flash 55

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Price of Greed

Photo Courtesy of Magpie Tales
Jean Luc sailed the high seas more than 400 years ago under the French flag.  His cargo was gold, precious gems and  brandy.  He was trusted by King Henri to return payment for trade goods.  Jean Luc thought "why shouldn't I get something for my services.  After all I am the one taking all the risks while the King sits safely upon his throne being waited on hand and foot.  His bath drawn by lusty handmaidens, who stood ready to wrap him in soft warm towels.  His large soft four-poster bed warmed by hot stones and an elegant glass of brandy on his night table.  Here I am risking foul weather, pirates and God only know what other dangers.  No, the King could spare some coin."  Stealing from the Crown, however, was treason, so he must come up with a plan.  With pirates roaming the waters, an attack and loss would be horrible but not a crime. 

He, Jean Luc, a French nobleman, would be admired for his bravery as he battled the pirates to protect the Crown's assets.  He would ultimately lose the King's gold to the marauderers, and so the plan was put into motion.  The ship sailed into pirate infested waters and a mock battle ensued, with great damage inflicted on the ship.  Jean Luc's crew, loyal to the end with the promise of gold, carried out the "fighting", sustaining injuries and appearing thoroughly defeated. 

Miraculously, no one was mortally wounded, but the pirates escaped with the gold, or at least that was how it was portrayed to the King.  The King was outraged, and called forth his Navy to track down and kill the pirates and retrieve his gold.  Pirates were killed right and left, but no gold was recovered.   

After Jean Luc's ship was repaired, he and his crew fled France under cover of darkness on a moonless night with their precious cargo, which was stored in a compartment beneath a false bottom in the hold.  When they reached a safe haven, Jean Luc went below to retrieve the chest, and opened it to revel in his fortune, which, by the way, he had no plans to share.  When he lifted the lid, he was first shocked, then angry.  All the chest contained were packages  of salt and one lead crystal salt shaker.  He was so distraught that he murdered his entire crew and threw the bodies overboard along with the salt.

What Jean Luc, in his misery, didn't consider was that the salt, due to the hated salt tax, was worth more than gold, and was thus the payment for goods.  Pass the salt, please.

Written for Magpie Tales.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Restoration

This is a continuation of "The Rose Garden" written for Magpie Tales.

Gerald sat on the old, cement bench at the corner of the rose garden, his face streaked with dirt where he’d wiped the away the sweat.  Robins poked around through the garden looking for grubs where the soil was freshly turned. 

Gerald had moved into his parents’ house the year after his mother passed away.  That wasn’t his plan, since he had made his home in New York, and Louisiana is a thousand miles and a world away.  After coming home for the funeral, though, he kept feeling drawn back, feeling the need to stay and restore the house and gardens.  He’d put weeks of labor into the rose garden, and finally it was beginning to show promise.  Gone were the weeds and brush threatening to choke the life from the roses.  The yellow rose bush bloomed proudly on the anniversary of his mother’s death.

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
The old house wasn’t the only thing calling to Gerald.  Every so often he would find the old watering can sitting on the wall, even though he was sure he had put it away the night before.  When he had first surveyed the garden, he caught a glimpse of someone passing through the garden.  That person so strongly resembled his mother, that he called out, knowing it was impossible.  But was it?

Now he watches for her, talks to her, even though his brain tells him it’s silly, his heart tells him otherwise.

Over the course of his restoration, he had planned to replace the brick walkway to the gardener’s shed with stone.  His father had put that walkway in over 30 years ago, so his mother could walk to the shed without soiling her shoes, as she loved to spend a rainy afternoon working with her plants.  Some of the bricks were broken now, with the dirt coming up between them.  He had already painted and reroofed the shed, and he thought stone would give the garden an elegant finish.  

However, one evening as he looked at the different stone samples he’d picked up, he heard a faint voice upon the light evening breeze.  “Please leave the bricks," it said.  Gerald turned to see who had spoken, but saw no one.  He thought he was hearing things - but there it was again, unmistakable in it’s meaning, “please leave the bricks.” 

Needless to say, the old brick walkway remains.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Two men, hopelessly lost on the mountain, trudging through snow, with night falling soon; one man swears, the other prays.

Photo Credit:  Tess Kincaid

"Why swear?"

"Why pray?"

One man felt fear; the other, comfort.

Suddenly amongst the clouds they saw a sign pointing toward the woods.  The praying man said "let's go".  The other swore.  They were saved!

Posted for Magpie Tales and Friday Flash 55.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sledding Down Memory Lane

Many years ago there lived a little girl, and this little girl loved the snow, but she lived in the South where really good snows were rare.  Still, the little girl anxiously awaited the first snowfall (back then she didn’t mind the cold so much).  She would stare out the window at the field next door and study the sky and how it looked where it met the ground, and how the dried grasses waved with the wind.  She just knew snowflakes were about to fall.  Sure enough, one or two at a time, then more and more until it was really snowing.  She was so happy!  She would watch as it started sticking, piling up until everything was white.

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
 When the snow was deep enough and packed down on the roads around her house, her Daddy would take her sledding.  Not just any sledding, mind you, this was special.  You see, her Daddy made some chains for his lawn mower and fashioned a hitch of sorts for her sled.  The little girl donned her snow clothes, boots and mittens, and out into her winter wonderland they went.  Her Daddy pulled her everywhere, up and down the hills, and all around the neighborhood.  Such fun they had!  He would slow up and then start again, making the sled jerk, and off she slid into the snow, laughing.  The first time was an accident, but it was so much fun, she did it over and over again.

She’s been grown for some time now, but those long ago memories are sweet reminders of how special her childhood really was. 

Written for Magpie Tales #44

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dead Men Talking

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
It is about midnight on All Hallows Eve...we hear Artie telling about how he came to be...

"Dead, I tell you, I'm dead, deceased, departed life, moved on.  Well, not exactly moved on.  You wanna know why I haven't moved on?  I'll tell ya why.  I was killed, offed, whacked, 86'd, took a swim in cement shoes.  You know...MURDERED!"

"How", asked the man on the next stool?

"OK, here's how it went down.  I was taking my share of our "business" profits, and Louie, my "associate", said I was stealing, that I was taking more than my share.  Now, I'm out there busting my chops, taking all the chances, cleaning things up, and I only get 30%.  I just took what I had coming to me, and he said "oh yeah, well now you're really gonna get what's coming to ya."

The kicker is that when he said he needed to discuss a little problem we were having, I thought he'd found out about Claire and me...Claire is his old lady.  I opened my big mouth to deny the affair, and he said, "Artie, Artie, Artie, I wouldn't kill you for that.  Now, stealing from me...that's different.  So he pulls out his 45 and bang, lights out.  He dumps my body into a ravine, where I was torn to shreds by wild animals.  My sister couldn't even identify my body."

Now Artie looks at the guy who had been quietly listening to his story.  "So what's your deal?"

"The name's Sam, and I'm dead, too." came the hoarse reply.

"Yeah?  How'd you go?"

"I was poisoned by my wife for cheating on her with Gina, my cousin's wife, and then strangled by my cousin for the same offense.  Who could blame me?  She was quite the little firecracker."

"Sam, your Gina..she have flaming red hair...sea green eyes?'"

"Yeah, why?"

"It's a good thing you're already dead, or I'd kill you myself.  She's my sister."

"Hey, sorry man!  I've got a sister, too.  Uh oh, it's almost dawn, I'd better be getting back to my grave.  Til next year..."

A work of fiction for Magpie Tales.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Eau du Dimestore

On a recent flight to Rome to join my fiancé and meet his parents, I was seated next to a glamorous woman, with diamonds studding her ears, and a pear-shaped pendant dangling at her throat.  Elegant aqua sleeves peeked from beneath her designer jacket.  I figured her to be a model or something, she was so gorgeous.  And her cologne, my goodness, was like romance in a bottle.  Just one whiff and I was transported to a tropical island paradise of palm trees swaying in the sultry breezes of the Mediterranean.

I was only here because I'd received a last minute upgrade to first class, which definitely had its perks.  I had a long flight ahead, and decided a glass of bubbly was just the thing to relax with.  Plus, now I was dying to know what her cologne was.  Maybe I could work it into the customary chit chat of a long flight.  Somehow it just didn't seem right to start with "Excuse me, but what is that delectable cologne you're wearing"? So instead I tried this, "Hi, I'm Charlotte.  That is a lovely pendant."  "Grazie", she replied, touching the diamond, "I am Carlotta.  I believe we have something in common.  Carlotta is the Italian equivalent of Charlotte." 

We talked about the places we'd been, but mostly she talked about the places she'd been.  I was totally in awe of this woman.  She was educated, well-traveled, and apparently wealthy to boot.  I would have felt rather insignificant in her company, had it not been for her completely down home personality.  She was returning home to Italy from a business meeting in the States.  She was, in fact, the granddaughter of the founder of the famous perfume factory, Acqua di Parma, in Parma, Italy and was working in the marketing and promotions department.  Now I could ask her about her cologne, although I had pretty much guessed what it had to be.  "That would be Acqua di Parma you're wearing, isn't it?  "Sì", she answered with pride.

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
"I've heard of it, such a marvelous fragrance, but at nearly $50 an ounce, I think I'll be wearing Eau du Dimestore for a while yet."

"No, non possiamo avere che" she exclaimed, dismayed that I would be wearing anything less than the finest cologne, the symbol of Italian elegance.  "Here mio caro, I carry these to present to the wives of our business partners", as she reached into her travel bag and pulled out two small bottles.  I stifled a squeal of delight as I thanked her profusely. "Nettare di Dio", she whispered quietly, as the flight attendant brought two more glasses of champagne.  "What a way to fly", I sighed, leaning back and sipping my champagne.

A work of fiction written for Magpie Tales #33

Thursday, September 9, 2010

School Days

Photo courtesy of  Magpie Tales
Growing up in the South in a family of five back in the 1960s, I was the last girl born into the family, with the only boy being my younger brother, Frank.  As we each reached school age, we were sent to the St. Francis Catholic school for our education, and a continuation of our parental teachings.

The school was an old building, built back at the turn of the century and showing its age.  The wooden framing around the windows was weathered, and there were cracks where the brick and mortar had separated.  Inside, the wooden desks were polished smooth with many years of use.  Students had come and gone for generations.  Parents, their children and now their grandchildren were learning the scholarly arts at these same desks.

While some things didn't seem to change over the years, others did.  With the influx of rock and roll, flower children, hippies, drugs and the love movement, the children were subject to all manner of new evils.  The Mother Superior at St. Francis was also the principal.  It was her job to rule the children with a firm hand, and ensure they were able to take their proper place in society.

Being the youngest, it seemed Frank and I were always getting into trouble.  I could hear Sister Maria yelling across the school yard, "Jean, come here this instant young lady."  Frank was usually nearby, egging me on to even greater mischief.  The fact that I was such a tomboy was a continuing source of consternation for Sister Maria.  One day as Frank and I were playing catch, he threw the ball too high for me to catch it, and I cringed as it crashed through the library window.  It just so happened that the principal was in the library at the time, reading.  As soon as the glass shattered, we turned and ran behind some trees.  The Mother Superior heard the crash, saw the ball on the floor, and immediately called for Sister Maria.  She came on the run, yelling at the top of her voice,  "Jean, Frank, come here right NOW".  I swear to this day that even with her back to the window, that woman knew everything that happened and who was to blame. 

A work of fiction written for Magpie Tales #31.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Magic Apple

There was a special tree in the apple orchard - a magic tree.  It was said that anyone who ate the apples from this tree became enchanted with special powers.  Johnny had heard this story ever since he was little, but he'd never believed it.  The science geek in him wouldn't let him believe in magic, plus how would anyone get one of those apples anyway.  The story said the tree was guarded by magic.

Johnny was always getting kicked around and usually ended up being chased home by Saul, the school bully.  Today was no different.  Johnny ran all the way home with Saul hot on his heels.  Slamming the door, Johnny was safe one more time.  His mom usually left a snack for him on the counter.  She had no idea that Johnny was being bullied because he never talked about it - didn't want to show any sign of weakness.  After all he was 12 now, nearly a man in his opinion.  He should act like one, and was embarrassed about letting Saul chase him home every day.

Photo courtesy of  Magpie Tales
Johnny grabbed an apple from the bowl and headed upstairs to do his homework.  While social situations were difficult for the awkward 12-year old, his studies were a place he excelled.  He loved science and figuring out how things worked.  He was all the time doing experiements in the basement, much to his mother's dismay after the last experiment ended rather loudly.

Opening his book, he prepared for an afternoon of scientific delight.  He settled in and took a bite of his apple, while taking notes on a new project he wanted to try.  As he was reading, he began hearing strange sound.  It sounded like a kitten, but they didn't have a kitten.  "That's strange" he thought.  "I'm just imagining things."  But he kept hearing it, so he decided to follow the sound.  He went down the stairs and out the door.  The sound kept getting louder and louder, as he approached the garage.  There, behind the garbage can, he found a small, orange tabby kitten.  Wow, he thought, "I heard this kitten all the way inside, upstairs in my room."  Johnny takes the kitten into the house and offers her some milk and some tuna left over from his Mom's lunch.  "I hope you like this", he said as he pondered what just happened.

The next day after school, Johnny is on the lookout for Saul, hoping against hope to avoid him this time.  But no, there he is by the fence.  There is only one gate out of the playground, and Saul is guarding it.  "Hey, Saul, how about let's make peace?  You know, I stay out of your way, and you don't chase me home?" said Johnny hopefully.  Saul replied with a nasty grin, "Nah, ain't gonna happen.  You see, I don't like punks, and you're a punk" as he strode toward Johnny.  "You gonna run now, or do I have to teach you a lesson?"  Johnny decided that today wasn't the day to test his budding bravery, so he turned to run, as usual.  As he did, he found himself gaining speed, going faster and faster, and the trees he passed became a blur.  What?  "I thought I was getting braver, but I guess not, I'm running faster than ever"  He raised a cloud of dust behind him on the gravel road, and left Saul choking and confused.  As Johnny reached his house, instead of bouncing up the stairs one by one, he leaped to the top in one bound.  "Gee, what's the matter with me?  I can't run that fast or jump to the top of the stairs."  As he reached for the door knob, instead of opening it, he appeared on the other side.  "Whoa, this is too strange."  Could it be...?

"MOM" he called loudly, "MOM, where did you get those apples yesterday?"  "What apples", she asked?  "The ones on the counter.  I had one when I got home from school."  His mom responded with a startled look, "There were no apples on the counter yesterday.  They were out at the store, so I got some yogurts instead.  They were in the fridge."

Now Johnny began to consider what had happened to him.  Where had those apples come from?  How did they get there, and where were they now?  Could they possibly be from the magic tree, if indeed, it really did exist?  So many unanswered questions, but the thing that kept running through his head was..."I guess maybe now Saul won't be kicking me around anymore."

Written for Magpie Tales #30.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shattered Dreams

Photo courtesy of  Magpie Tales
It was a house like any other in this quiet, upper-class, suburban neighborhood...or so it would appear.  With fresh paint and new cedar shingles, it nearly glows as the evening sun dips low in the sky.  On the inside, the setting is spacious and elegant.  It exudes a kind of an old world charm with furnishings from across the globe.  However, in the fall as the trees lose their leaves and the moon is full, the house takes on a different air.  If you look through the windows you may see an eerie glow moving around the room.  It lasts but a few minutes, and then disappears as if snuffed out.

The house was built some 75 years ago by a wealthy man for his young bride.  It was built from the finest materials that money could buy.  The furniture was custom made in England, and was shipped over by freighter, along with china and crystal.  There were Persian rugs upon the polished oak floors and chandeliers that sparkled like a thousand diamonds.  It was a dream come true for the young woman, for her life with her handsome husband to be lived out here.  They would throw lavish parties, raise beautiful children and grow old together here.  

However, fate is cruel, and on a trip to purchase yet more trinkets for his lovely wife, the train he was riding violently derailed.  The cars were nothing but twisted steel and mangled bodies beneath the fullness of the moon.  At home, his bride awaited his return with a candle upon her desk by the window.  All night she waited, alone and worried.  She had received no word, and knew not of the wreck.  The next day a telegram was delivered.  The terse message conveyed only the barest details of the accident, and that her husband was among the dead.  

Clutching the telegram, she sobbed uncontrollably and staggered up the stairs.  She had almost reached the landing when, in her grief, she missed the last step and tumbled back down the steps.  As she lay at there in her last moments of life, her mind returned to the past night when her husband was still coming home to her.  Each fall, around the time of her death, when the moon is full, her candle can be seen as she wanders through the house waiting for him to come home.

After the death of the young couple, the house was sold, fully furnished.  The new owners and their children and grandchildren have lived in harmony with the former resident.

Written for Magpie Tales #29.