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

Friday, August 20, 2010

Night Terror

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
It was late, and darkness filled the room like death creeping in through the cracks in the old wooden floor.  The only light was that from a candle on the vanity. The silence screaming inside her head was deafening.  She suddenly had a strange, creepy feeling.  Barely breathing, she moved her eyes left and right, peering into shadows.  "I'm alone", she kept telling herself, "I'm alone.  I locked the doors and closed the blinds before I came up here." 

The old iron tub was quite the challenge to get up that narrow stairway.  The workmen were cracking jokes about rich gals and bubble baths as they lugged it up the steps.  She and her husband had bought the old house to restore, and the tub was one thing she insisted on.  Now, alone in the house for the first time since they moved in, she thought she would enjoy a long soak in her tub. 

But now she felt a chill even through the warm water.  It was then she heard the first creak.  It's an old house she thought, it will crack and pop from time to time.  It's OK.  In the hall, the floor creaked again.  Fear began to settle into her heart.  Maybe I'm not alone!  She looked around the room, trying to see anything that could help her.  There was no phone, and nothing to serve as a weapon.  She had refused to keep a gun in the house.  Only the innocent get killed with their guns, she had said.  Now here she lay, naked in her bubble bath in a dark room, in a big empty house, with a psycho killer on the other side of the door.  Maybe it's just a robber and if I stay quiet, he'll take what he wants and leave.  Please, God, don't let him find me.  Her heart was beating so loudly in her ears she was sure he'd hear it.  Then there was a footstep just outside the bathroom, and the rattle of the old glass door knob as it turned.  The door squeaked as it opened slowly.  Eyes wide open, she stared through the dim light toward the door.  As a dark figure entered the room, something glinted in the light from the candle.  It was a knife, the blade long and thin. The killer waved it menacingly at her.  This was it.  She would die here in her tub.  Now, oddly detached, her last thought was "I'm glad I had a pedicure".  She screamed one hoarse scream and slumped back into the now cooling water. 

"Lily, wake up.  Wake up, you were screaming."  It was her husband, gently calling her back to reality.

A fictional story written for Magpie Tales #28

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Beach Cottage

Photo courtesy of  Magpie Tales
"Francine, do you realize we've been coming to this same cottage for 20 years", cackled Edith as her sister turned into the sandy driveway and past the mermaid mailbox?

"Has it been that long," Francine pondered?  "Um, now that I think about it, I guess it has.  We started coming here right after Chester passed away.  He would have liked it here - you know he always loved the beach.  I don't think it's changed much over the years, do you?" 

"No, I guess just they patch the shingles and slap on a new coat of paint every couple of years.  I wonder how they get the color matched so perfectly after all these years."

Edith yawned, stretched and pulled her suitcase out of the trunk.  "I don't know, I guess it's all that new technology.  As the kids are always saying, 'there's an app for that'.  So, do we cook or go out?  I say we go out.  It was a long ride, and I'm tuckered. There wil be plenty of time to shop for groceries tomorrow."

Francine, agreeing that they should let someone else do the cooking tonight, said "OK, I think I'll go for a swim before dinner just to relax a bit.  Want to join me?"  

"Sure" Edith answered from the hall, "but I'd like to get a few things put away first.  Edith began to put her stuff into the drawers on the left side of the dresser.  Francine always used the right side.  It's funny how little things become habit after so many years.  The dresser's faded finish showed its age just like the old faucet out back where guests have been rinsing the sand from their feet for decades.  The storms and salt water are hard on the pipes.  They are rusted and showing some patina, but like the sister's reminiscence upon arrival, not much had changed over 20 years, including the old rusty water pipe.

This was written for Magpie Tales #27

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Rose Garden

This magpie is building on last week's poem "Through the Door" and is a work of fiction.

As my cousin Gerald and I were reminiscing about the past, Aunt Abigail came to mind.  Gerald spoke lovingly of his mother, but with much sadness as he related his recent visit to his childhood home.  I had known her well when I was younger, but like most of us, I grew up and drifted away.  She was tall and thin with wispy white hair, and always wore an apron.  For all her apparent frailty, she had the vim and vigor of someone nearly half her age.  She worked in her garden every morning before the heat of the day, weeding her precious roses.  Some of them were descendants of roses from the Royal Garden of Queen Elizabeth, which had been sent to her over 30 years ago. She had tenderly cared for them all those years.  Her most prized bush was the yellow rose, called the Spirit of Freedom, that was presented to her by her husband (known to everyone as "the Duke"), the year before he died. 
Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales

Gerald had moved up north after graduation some years ago.  Now with both his parents gone, he was the sole heir to the house and grounds, and had returned to dispose of the property.  Her garden is hidden behind a high wall, and the gate has been locked since her death last year.

He took the rusty key and slowly opened the lock, stiff from exposure to the elements. 
He opened the gate and stared into the garden. It was overgrown with vines, and small trees sprouting from nuts buried by squirrels.  There upon the stone wall leading to the gardener's shed sat his mother's old watering can.  It was half full of water just as if she were tending her precious roses, her solitary companions these last years.  Gerald glanced around the garden and spotted his mother's yellow rose bush among the weeds.  It had one beautiful yellow blossom that shone with beads of water, creating a miniature rainbow in each drop.  As he turned, he saw a fleeting figure with wispy white hair and an apron freshly smudged with dirt.  


Friday, July 30, 2010

Through the Door

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
An old door with
Weathered wood and
Peeling paint
Aged and pitted
The lock
Cranky and stiff
Accepts the key and
Slowly opens
Beyond the walls
Lay hidden a garden
Long neglected and
But for a single
Yellow rose

Written for Magpie Tales #25

Friday, July 23, 2010

Frannie and Steve's Summer Vacation

Here are some bits of their conversation as they get ready for their long-awaited vacation.

Frannie:  I am so ready for this vacation - those lazy afternoons by the pool, cold drinks on the beach, and I can already feel the sand between my toes, so peaceful.  Have we forgotten anything?

Steve:  Let's see, two suitcases, your big bag of girly stuff, my shaving kit, a half dozen beach towels, his and hers flip flops and three kinds of sunscreen.  Um, two fishing rods, tackle, knife and cooler - check.

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
Frannie:  Laptop, camera, assorted techno gadgets - check.  Gotta have that-you never know where you'll find good blog material.  Did you pay the electric bill?
Steve:  You mean you'll have it for checking in with your blogging buddies, don't you?  And yeah, bills are paid.
Frannie:  Bobby's going to come every day to look after Skipper, right? 

Steve:  Uh huh, at $5 a day it's cheaper than the kennel, the kid gets some pocket money, and Skipper has some company.  Mail?  Newspaper?

Frannie:  All taken care of.  I went on-line and put a hold on the mail and the paper. The mail will be delivered the day we get back, and we'll get a paper the next morning.  Gotta love the internet.

So, what else?  Windows closed and locked, lights on timer, A/C set...oh, honey did you get beer?

Frannie:  Of course.  Like I'd forget...along with nuts, chips and dip and soda.  After all what's a vacation without a little junk food. 

Steve:  Let's load up the car.  Ewwww, is that garbage?

Frannie:  Oh, can't leave that here for a week. Can you take it out?  I think they're gonna pick up tomorrow because of the holiday.

Steve:  Done!  We're on our way, and tonight we'll be sampling shrimp and munching on mahi.

...Two hours later.

Frannie:  Uh oh, we forgot something.

Steve:  What?  Not the beer?

Frannie:  We forgot to make the bed.

Steve:  [sighs]

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Of Flames and Faith

Edited to include: The following is a work of fiction written for Magpie Tales.

Flames snapped and crackled, and sap sizzled from a tree too near the heat. The brilliance of the fire lit up the night sky for miles around. As the crowd gathered, people began to speculate as to what caused the old building to suddenly go up in flames. It had been abandoned for twenty years or so, ever since the mill closed. The owner had died shortly before, and when they closed the doors, many of the towns people were left with no income.  Lately, though, there were signs that someone had been living there. It was assumed to be a homeless family, and given the hard times, no one thought anything about it. Live and let live, they said.

The fire department was on the scene quickly, but the dry timbers burned out of control. “I hope there was no one in there” said the chief. “There’s no way they could have gotten out after the fire started”. Acrid smoke filled the air and stung the eyes and burned the throats of the fire fighters, and the intense heat pushed them back. All they could do now was to keep the fire from spreading.

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
After hours of raging, the fire burned itself out leaving smoldering chunks of wood and twisted metal of the machinery left behind. When it was deemed safe to investigate, officials walked through the ruins. Fortunately, they found no bodies, although no cause of ignition was determined.  What they did find startled them.  Among the ashes were the burned-out remnants of a family's makeshift home, and the only things to miraculously escape the searing flames were a well-worn Bible, a gold cross and an old fire extinguisher.

Written for Magpie Tales #23.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Conversation in the Tomato Patch

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales
They're coming for us today, you know.
Who said?
I think it was the squash or maybe the cucumbers.
No, they couldn't have.  They grow so fast there's no one left.
Do you know what they do to tomatoes?
No, what?
I heard it from the corn.  They're always keeping their ears open.  You know they have to hide from the deer every night now.
They slice us up with big, sharp knives, and slather us with this thick, white gooey stuff...yuck.
No, they put us in hot water until our skin comes off, then they cut us into little pieces and call it salsa.
No, you're both wrong.  They put us on the grill until we're fire-roasted, and then we're canned.
I believe I heard it from the potatoes, they're here until fall.
Nah, not them, they can't see a thing with all that dirt in their eyes.
Uh oh, here they come.  Look, they've got baskets.  I think they're taking us to market.
C'mon guys try to look pale and pasty, they only want the really red ones.  Dang it, I warned y'all about the sun!
Ow, watch it will ya!  Hey, quit yer squeezing, I bruise easily.

This was written for Magpie Tales #22.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales

Higher and higher
Riding into the night sky
Exploding with grace

Cascading colors
Celebrating a nation
Happy birthday, USA

This was written for Magpie Tales.  Click above for more stories and poems.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Written for Magpie Tales

 Teeth brushed
Feeling rushed
Out the door
Wanting more

For more magpie tales, click the link above.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Wishing Knife

One day the old man's grandson spotted the knife, old and worn lying on his dresser.  "What's that" he asked?  "That's my wishing knife."  "Why do you call it your wishing knife, Grandpa?" now more curious.  "I'll tell you why" the old man replied.  

When I was a lad about your age, my dad was working long hours in a factory that made propellers for planes.  He worked long and hard for little pay because of the War overseas.  Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before we would need those planes in the air.  We could not hold out much longer before would have to get involved in the fighting.  There was an even more pressing need for men to join the service, and there had been discussion that Dad might be among those men.

To a boy who didn't understand the violence and devastation of war, but only saw the wonder of uniforms and mock battles played with toy soldiers where everyone lived to see another day, this was wonderfully exciting.  "Go Dad", I said, "Go and bring me something back."  My dad felt-duty bound to enlist, though not because of anything I had said.  To him it wasn't exciting or glamorous; he knew the dangers, but felt he owed his country this service.  Then Pearl Harbor was attacked, and attention was drawn to the death and destruction there.  This was it!  We were at war!  

I was excited and proud that my dad was going to be a soldier.  As he boarded the ship that would take him far across the ocean, the crowd cheered, and I cheered right along with them.  He was going to be based a world away in France, but spending much time aboard ship.  He was a seaman in the Navy, patrolling the waters just off the coast.  While there was much action in the Pacific, we were all relieved Dad was overseas just doing patrols.  This was still a frightening time, with long periods of silence, and letters from Dad were scarce.  The ones that did get through were filled with hope and courage, and reassurances that we shouldn't worry.  He was not among those doing the fighting.  He was just on patrol.

Six months later we got the call.  There had been a surprise attack on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean, and it had been sunk.  They didn't have any more information at that time.  Another ship in the area picked up all the survivors, and we awaited word.  The survivors had been identified, and Dad's name was not on the list.  I cried for days.  It was all my fault, I had wanted him to go.  I was so proud that my dad was in the Navy, fighting for his country.  Now he wasn't coming home.  I could not be consoled.

A Magpie Tale
When his body was found and shipped back to the states, along with his belongings there was a shiny new knife with a polished wooden handle.  It said "Made in France".  With it was a note that read:  To my dear son, may this knife always remind you of Freedom.  Love Dad.

I've kept this knife with me always, and everyday I look at it and wish that I could take back those words,  "Go Dad", I said, "Go and bring me something back."

Please click beneath the picture for more magpie tales.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Battle Begins

Another Magpie Tale

My weapons are honed
Awaiting the light of day
Let us now begin

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Friday, June 4, 2010

I Sing No More

My songs are scattered
From shore to distant shore
Here I stand - alone

My dreams are shattered
I am done - I sing no more
I have turned to stone

Please visit Magpie Tales for more stories and poems.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memories: Magpie Tales #16

A Magpie Tales post.
The old oak boards, scarred and dusty, are now silent of footsteps.  Many generations had come and gone, walking or dancing, working or playing their way across these planks.  As I stand here staring at the floor, memories of a time nearly forgotten flood my mind.  I remember my grandmother, her work done for the evening, taking off her apron and hanging it neatly on a wooden peg next to the sink.  By the soft light of the lamp, she sat writing in her journal as she did every evening, recounting her day, sharing her thoughts on life, her children, her grandchildren.  

My grandfather had passed away some years before.  All the children had all married and moved away, and she lived alone in the house they had shared for so many years.  We would come to visit during the summers, and the house was alive again.  It was great fun to visit Grammy.  My cousins and I running in and out, banging the old screen door until it was nearly falling off its hinges.  We would drag our toys across the wooden floor leaving marks and scuffs, each adding to the scrapbook of life written upon the boards.

Grammy has been gone for many years, and the house now stands empty.  The boards upon which we played are dusty from disuse.  The only things left are Grammy's apron on the peg, and her shoes by the door.