Monthly Archives: November 2017

Fiction: Days Off (662 words)

A little bird chirped outside the window, and Crissa all but sprung out of bed.  It was spring. There was the smell of flowers on the wind.  And she had a free day today. It was going to be a good day.

She slid on her slippers at the side of her bed, and spun herself over to the cupboard, swinging the doors open wide.  On one side, there were the bright blue robes of the sisterhood, what she would have put on if she were heading to the temple this morning for her regular routine. But it was her break day, so she turned to the other side instead, where her sundresses were waiting for her. The dreaded winter wool dresses were already packed neatly and stored in the trunk at the foot of her bed.  She would wait as long as possible before taking them out again.

But that was a thought for a late fall day. Today was spring.  But—still early spring, Crissa admitted to herself as she flipped through her handful of sundresses. So—she opted for the black knee-length dress with big pink roses all over it. A little bit dark, a little bit spring. A good mix.

Crissa put on the dress and pulled her dark hair into a long plait.  She didn’t have to worry about gathering any of her other things today, so she made her way down to the dining hall empty-handed and feeling free.   Only then did she start to think about what she wanted to do with her free time today.

She flumped down hard on the bench near the table, causing her skirt to poof out and settle down gently around her. Maisie and Briar looked at her, with minimal disdain. It wasn’t her fault that they were spoilsports on such a beautiful spring day.

“Free day today?” Maisie asked. She was still dressed in the bright blue robes and had dark circles under her eyes. Crissa thought that probably meant that she had been up with the early group, meditating before dawn.

“Yep. I thought I might go shopping in town.” Cassie turned to look at Briar, who was in a pair of blue slacks and a green blouse. “You’ve got a free day too, Bri?”

“Yes.” She stabbed half-heartedly at the eggs on her plate while Crissa got her own breakfast off the communal plates. “I have no idea what I am going to do with my time though.”

“Well, then obviously we are going to go for a walk down to town on this lovely day,” Crissa informed her cheerily, “Maybe we’ll get a drink. It’ll be fun. It’s beautiful out.”

“Oh no,” Maisie sighed, offering Briar a smile, “It’s officially spring. Crissa is going to be utterly unbearable until there is frost on the ground again.”

“Don’t be mean,” Crissa laughed, shaking a piece of bacon in Maisie’s face. “What are you up to today, Miss Maisie?”

“A nap, first of all,” she groaned, resting her head on her hands, “Then I’ve got some one-on-one classes today. I’m most excited for Hana Shelton coming up from town, though. She’s a very talented girl, and I’m going to try another pitch to get her to join The Sisterhood today.”

“Never going to happen,” Briar interjected, “She loves that farm too much to leave it in the care of hired help.”

“But, she has so much potential.  She would make a great sister. Just think of all the things we could learn.” Maisie whined.

“If you convince her to join the Sisterhood, I will take every single one of your morning shifts for the next five years,” Briar countered, “That’s how sure I am that she will never leave that farm.

“You’ve got yourself a deal,” Maisie threw out a hand and briar shook it. “Crissa, you’re our witness.”

Crissa laughed, taking another bite of her eggs. It was going to be a good day.

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Posted by on November 9, 2017 in Stories


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Fiction: Fortunes Told

Linea and Eli were not allowed to speak to each other. Minutes ago, the two eleven-year-olds had been at each other’s throats, screaming at each other with a ferocity too strong for children of their age. Now Sallie, the young woman who had been hired to watch them while they were out and about, had each of her hands around the wrist of one of the children and was blatantly refusing to let them say anything else until they were back with their mother’s. They made quite the angry little procession down the main street, and people were quick to get out of the way of the determined woman and the sulky children.

All except one woman. She was the oldest woman either Linea or Eli could ever remember seeing, with a bend in her back, covered in a dark purple shawl. She stepped out right in front of the three of them, forcing them all to stop in the tracks to avoid bumping into her or knocking her down. “Excuse us, Ma’am…” Sallie started to try to get around her, but the woman stepped into the path again.

“They are going to fight until the day they die, those two. It’s in their nature.” The old woman smiled, pointing between Linea and Eli.

“Oh, no, they aren’t siblings,” Sallie tried to correct her, “Their families are just friends.”

“Oh, I know sweetheart,” The woman crowed, “They are in love. That’s why they fight like that. They are too young to understand it any other way.”

Linea and Eli looked at each other with looks of disgust. Sallie raised an eyebrow. “Ma’am, they are seven. They won’t even be thinking about love until they are twice their age again. They fight because they are children.”

“Mark my words,” The woman waggled a finger in Sallie’s face, “They are soul mates and will spend the rest of their lives picking fights and making up. Nothing you do is going to be able to stop that, Missy. If you are going to have to care for them in the future—Then prepare yourself for that.” With a final point of the finger at Sallie and a smile to each Eli and Linea, the woman shuffled back to the chair at the side of the road she’d been sitting in before.

“She was weird,” Eli offered.

“You can’t say that! She’s your elder, and you have to respect her!” Linea cried out.

That seemed to shake Sallie out of the stunned silence the woman had left her in. “Oh, be quiet, the both of you,” and with a gentle tug on each of their arms, they were off down the road again.

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Posted by on November 6, 2017 in Stories


Legal Theft: Visiting Dad (1141 words)

Marcus waited patiently for Lewis to arrive. He should have known better. Lewis, in the entire twenty-one years of his life, had never been on time for a meeting even once. Why would he expect him to start showing up now? Not like this was a hard day for Marcus and he could use the support of having a concrete schedule or anything. Nope. Lewis always moved at his own pace.

When Lewis came around the corner with a pack of fried dough in his hand, and a piece to be handed to Marcus—her forgave Lewis completely. It was the basis of their friendship that Marcus always forgave Lewis completely because it was the only thing that kept Lewis forgiving Marcus when he messed up.

“Does your mom know you’re here?” Lewis asked as a greeting.

Marcus laughed out loud. “She’d kill me. Then she’d kill you for good measure. And then probably kill me again.”

Lewis took a thoughtful bite out of his dough. “Fair enough,” he conceded through his full mouth.

Marcus made a disgusted sound, which was only doubled when Lewis laughed open-mouthed with the bread still there.  “I hate you.”

“Course you do,” Lewis grinned, throwing his non-bread carrying arm around Marcus’ shoulders. “Lead the way.”

Marcus did just that. They walked in silence, chewing on their bread.  About a half hour later, they were leaving the outskirts of the town, making their way down the path through the woods, passing the occasional clearing where people had set up little camps. Some of them were the more permeant camps of people who worked in the city but couldn’t afford to live anywhere else inside the city limits. Others were the temporary camps of people who were traveling by but didn’t want any official record of them staying here.  It was one of the latter camps that they were looking for.

It had been almost seven years, but Marcus still recognized him as they approached the camp, as easily as if they’d seen each other the week before—although neither Marcus nor his father looked anything like the same as they had on that night seven years ago.

He finished the last bites of his bread and turned back to make sure Lewis had done the same. Together, they stepped into the little clearing, both of their hands half-raised, fingers spread, so he could easily see that they didn’t have any weapons in their grip.

“Hey Dad,” Marcus called, trying not to startle him.

The old man looked up from his little campfire and gave his son a small smile. “Markie.” He stood up and shook his son’s hand. “And Little Lewy. Well, I never.”

“Oh, sir, no one calls me Lewy anymore,” Lewis chuckled, shaking the hand offered him.

“Well, I’m sure no one calls him Markie, and certainly no one calls me sir,” he laughed, sinking back down onto the log he was using as a bench at the side of the fire. “So—let’s agree. Lewis. Mark. And Dad or Jameson as our respective relationships dictate?”

“Sure, Jameson.” Lewis offered because Marcus didn’t seem like he had anything he wanted to say.  Lewis and Marcus sat down on a log on the opposite side of the fire.

“So—“ Jameson prompted, but no one picked up the thread, “Well. Uh, does your mother know you’re here?”

Marcus didn’t find the question as humorous this time around. “You’re not in shackles, are you? Do you really think that my mother is at all aware you are in the same country, let alone the same town?”

“That’s…a fair point,” Jameson replied. “I know I’ve told you before, but I feel the need to tell you, again and again, I never meant to hurt you and your mother that way. But I can’t choose who I am and I can’t change my nature. It was foolish of your mother to think I could and it was foolish of me to try.”

“I know, Dad. I’ve heard it before, and you haven’t changed the song,” Marcus answered, softening despite himself. He hated his father and unconditionally loved his father all at the same time. It was such an awkward position to be put into. “Why did you ask me to come out here, Dad? This can’t be the first time in seven years you’ve been in the area. Why now?”

“I found something.” Jameson’s hand went to a charm that was hanging off his neck. “It was your grandfathers—and then it was mine for a while before it was lost. And—I figure that it should be yours. You’ll keep better care of it then I ever could, and you can keep it in the family if you decide to have a family of your own.”

He pulled the cord off from around his neck and handed it over to Marcus at the side of the fire. It was a silver disc, about half the size of Marcus’ palm, tied to a piece of leather cord. “It’s supposed to be good luck if you believe in that kind of nonsense. Your grandfather certainly did, and I know your mother does—I’m not so sure. But I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.”

Marcus turned the circle over and over again his hand, trying to figure out what the appropriate response was to a random piece of metal. “This is it?” he finally settled on. “You wanted to see me because you had a necklace to give me.” He could feel the anger starting to rise in his blood, and tried to stamp it down as quickly as it had appeared. His father was the one with the temper—and Marcus did all he could to try and hide the fact he had inherited that.

“Well, yeah,” His father looked a bit deflated, “It was your grandfather’s, and I thought it was something you might like to have.”

Marcus considered tossing the necklace into the fire—but that was the temper talking.  That was something his father would have done. Not him. Instead, he slipped the circle into his pocket and gave Lewis a look that said it was time to go.  “Thanks, Dad,” he offered, starting to back away from the fire.

“Will I see you again while I’m in town?” Jameson asked.

“I don’t know, Dad. I don’t know.”  Jameson didn’t press for a more concrete answer, so Marcus turned on his heel and walked away.  Lewis caught up with Marcus quickly, throwing an arm around Marcus’ shoulders again. “I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea,” Marcus confided.

“Well, at least we got some good bread out of all this,” Lewis offered with a grin. “That’s not nothing.”

Marcus laughed, suddenly remembering why he had invited Lewis to this. “Yeah, that’s not nothing.”

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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories


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Fiction: Cousins Story [Part 1] (915 words)

It was a rainy day in March when I came home to find too many cars in my driveway. Our neighborhood of townhouses didn’t leave much room for on the street parking, so I had to drive back out into the next neighborhood over to find a spot, gather my school bags in a way that was going to make sure nothing important was going to get wet, and triple check that my car was locked since I wouldn’t be able to see it from the house.

So, I was already in a bit of a mood when I finally made it into the house. This was not helped by the sound of my mother yelling. I knew there was only one person in the world who could make her yell like that, so I dropped my bags by the door and headed towards the living room to find my proof.

Sitting on the couch playing Xbox was my cousin Aria, the oldest daughter of my mother’s twin brother. I sat down hard on the couch next to her, turning up the TV volume a few more notches to help drown out the yelling. Aria silently handed me the second controller. We played in the sulky silence that only two seventeen-year-olds can probably manage for a few minutes before I sighed. “Were we expecting you guys?”

“Madison left,” Aria sighed back, going for a rather impress kill shot, “And from the sound of the earlier yelling—she took all his money.”

I let out a slow whistle through my teeth. “This might be the worst one yet.

“A-yup,” Aria agreed, “Dad really messed up this time.”

Aria’s mom had left when she was only seven-months-old. In the sixteen in a half years since, my Uncle Tom has lived with seven different women, encouraging Aria and later her half-brother to consider each woman like their new step-mother. None of them ended well.  This one, Madison, had been bad news from the beginning in my humble opinion but had given Aria a half-sister and there was no talking Uncle Tom out of it, especially not with a new child involved.

Mom said it had a lot to do with abandonment issues. Uncle Tom had really loved his first wife, Aria’s mom, and now he felt desperate to cling to each new love, no matter how unadvised that love was.

Despite the Xbox, we heard the end of the argument. We knew it well at this point.  It started with “Okay, Tom, I can’t finish this with you right now.”

“Oh, come on, Holly.”

“No, Tom, I need some air.”

Aria paused the game and we both looked towards the stairs.  My mom appeared around the bend, pinching the bridge of her nose. After a moment, she realized the room was silent and looked up to see us watching her.

“Oh, hello, lovely ladies,” My mom grinned, coming the rest of the way down the stairs. “Having fun?” Aria and I just kept staring back at her. “Okay,” Mom clapped, “Melody, I need to talk to you in the backyard for a second.

“Mom, it’s pouring out,” I protested.

“Mel, now.” My mom said curtly, already half-out the back door.

“Nngh,” I groaned sinking boneless-ly into the couch.

“I’ll keep it paused till you get back,” Aria offered.

“Nah—I’m just bringing you down anyway.” I stood up and stretched, “When you’re finished, can you try to unlock the new sniper rifle for me?”

“Ten-four, cuz.” Aria was already sucked back into the game.

When I got into the backyard, I found my mother standing with her face turned up to the rain. “I hate my brother,” She said when she heard the door close. “I love my brother, but I hate my brother.”

“I know,” I answered.

Mom turned and looked at me. “Oh, I wish your father was here.”

“I know,” I said again. My dad had been around until I was fifteen months old. I was eleven months old when he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma—a fast-growing brain tumor. After he died, mom hasn’t even looked at dating as far as I could tell. I think Mom had some abandonment issues of her own.

“Melody, I’m going to need you to make a couple of sacrifices in the name of the family,” Mom smiled in that slightly sickeningly way that meant I was about to have to agree to something that I didn’t want to agree to.

“The cousins are staying here for a couple of days, aren’t they? While Uncle Tom goes and sorts this all out?”  I sighed, thinking of Aria’s air mattress taking up most of my bedroom floor.

“Not quite,” Mom gave me a look—before launching into the usual over explanations she always had prepared when she was going to ask me for something we both knew was going to be unfair. “Madison took everything, Mel. All his money, the TVs, Aria’s video games—anything that could be of value—she stole it. Your uncle has five dollars in his bank account, $40 in his wallet, and nothing he can even sell to pay the rent.”

I let this information process before what my mom was trying to say fell into sharp relief. “Mom. No. You cannot be saying what I think you are saying.”

Mom put on her best ‘making good of a bad situation’ smile. “Your Uncle Tom and cousins are moving in with us for a while.  Won’t that be fun?”

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Posted by on November 1, 2017 in Cousins Story


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