Tag Archives: short story

Honor – #writephoto

knight - honor

Photo by Sue Vincent

The way the sun rose sluggishly that morning; the way the mist clung to the tree branches, refusing to let go; the way the birds wouldn’t roost or stop to eat at any of the feeders, restlessly flapping from place to place with no rest; the way the light turned from a pleasant dawnish yellow to an ugly violent violet; the way a slight breeze made the ancient tower of the ancient church sigh and moan; the way the shadows seemed to dance and move instead of lying peacefully on the ground; the way that bark of the dog thudded dully, swallowed by silence instead of sounding bright and coppery, echoing through the streets; all of these things and more told the people of the village that this was no ordinary day, that things were going to happen, perhaps unpleasant things.

Penelope rose, sniffed the air and went back to bed.  She never did that; she was always the first to greet the day with a smile despite having nowhere to go and nobody with whom to share the day.  William’s car wouldn’t start, no matter what, and so he was late to work for the first time in over 30 years.  Bruce, who usually walked ever so boldly down the street, slunk with his head bowed down, casting frightened glances over his shoulder as if he thought a band of demons was on his tail.  And perhaps there was.

Lisa got out of bed, dressed herself all in black, as usual, though nobody that she knew had died recently, and looked out of the window.  Her mood, forever Halloween, her mind forever romanticizing a past that would in actuality horrify her with its distinct lack of indoor plumbing, she was just they type that on looking out on the day when the sun rose in that certain way, and shadows danced in the way that they did, actually smiled, her first smile in weeks.  She knew that things were going to happen, perhaps unpleasant things, and it made her happy.  Yes, there are girls, or perhaps I should say young ladies of 19, who are like this, just as there are boys, or perhaps young men of 19, who are like that in ways, but in some ways the exact opposite without a romantic bone in their bodies. Continue reading

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Indian Summer – Short Story

Note – This was the first story I wrote as part of my rediscovery of writing.  I originally wrote it in November of 2009, almost exactly 9 years ago.  I wasn’t very happy with the end, but I had thought about expanding it to novel, or perhaps just novella, length.  I never did and haven’t touched it since February of 2010.  I hope you enjoy!

****

Mitch Longing was up early, well before 6, and witnessed the golden rays of sunlight as a new day unfolded across the crisp, stark November landscape. A whiff of Indian Summer was in the air.  It will be a beautiful day.

The little nook on the second floor of Mitch’s house was a perfect spot for breakfast, a perch that overlooked the whole village, letting him see the people, following the sun’s invitation, start to stir and buzz around town.

Mitch’s across the street neighbor, Jim Hawton, who looked as if he had been lost trying to navigate through his mid 30s and had only recently been found wondering about in the territory between his late 50s and early 60s, was standing looking at the remnants of his garden.  You would be excused if at first you mistook him for an old scarecrow waiting patiently for its owner to take it down for the winter, his back arched up as if on a pole, dark eyes staring across the garden.  He stood unmoving, hoping somebody would come by to ask him what he was doing.  He so much wanted to say, “Watching the frost sublimate”, but nobody asked, so Jim continued to stand and stare, his 20 foot shadow slowly shrinking down to 12 feet.

It’s not that Mitch could read Jim’s actual thoughts; it’s just that Jim’s thoughts were very predictable.  If he wasn’t watching the frost sublimate, he’d be watching the pumpkins oxidize or be thinking of aerating his garden’s soil, though on a day like this Mitch bet on the sublimation of frost. Continue reading

Spectral – #writephoto

Photo by Sue Vincent

The memory was vivid, though very monochrome.  The details sharp, even if the picture in Ed’s mind was one of a landscape shrouded in mist, a ghostly image of a spectral place.  The memory came up randomly, but was usually ignored, just another picture from Ed’s past.

Only it wasn’t.

Ed knew the memory wasn’t real.  It was a location he had visited only in his dreams.  He often wondered if the memory of the ruined castle on the hill was from some old movie, perhaps something about vampires, that he had seen in his impressionable youth.  ’Often wondered’, though, was too strong of term.  He thought about the memory briefly perhaps once every three or four years.  Mostly it was forgotten until it popped up again, a quick, spectral vision of a place he’d never seen. Continue reading

Track – #writephoto

passage

Photo by Sue Vincent

“This way.”

“Are you sure?”  Merle was pointing down a dry stream bed with his walking staff.  Or perhaps “up the stream bed”, since the direction went against the flow of water.  The path looked torturous and I couldn’t imagine anyone trying their luck there, least of all Brad.

“I’ve been doing this since before you were born.”

“I don’t know, Steve.  I guess we have to trust him,” Val said.

I nodded and let Merle lead us into the gulch.

It was more difficult than I imagined.  Though mostly dry, there was still some water and a few deep pools, but it was the boulders and the downed trees that were the worst.

I paused after scrambling over a log about 30 minutes in.

“This is next to impossible,” I said.

“If he took an easy path, they would have found him by now,” Merle said.  He shrugged.  “If he really wanted to be found he should have just sat it out.” Continue reading

Stone – #writephoto

Photo by Sue Vincent

“What is that?”  L stopped and pointed.  They had just passed through a swampy area and were on dry land once more, though it was obvious that they were approaching the sea.

“Nobody is quite sure,” J said.  “It was put there many thousands of years ago by an ancient civilization.  All of the landscape around here was formed and shaped by their hand.”

“It doesn’t seem possible that a primitive civilization would be able to move such a heavy stone.  And carving the land seems beyond their basic skills.”

“No, no, this civilization was very advanced.”

L studied the huge standing stone that towered over the path.  “We are the pinnacle of civilization.  It couldn’t have been done.” Continue reading

The Summit – #writephoto

summit

Photo by Sue Vincent

I trod the ancient path towards the summit.  Each step on the well-worn flagstones was an effort.  An effort that we both had to make to meet here alone to talk, to discuss our differences.

She would be following a similar path up the other side of the hill.  She would also see the crenellated walls of the mighty fortress ahead and above.  She too would study the overgrown road in front of her.  She too would find it a labor to crest this mountain and meet in the castle at its peak.

I stopped just beneath the grey stone wall at the summit and turned to look out across the landscape.  Grey clouds were rushing in, almost scraping the structure above me.  Was the dark a story of the past or a foretelling of the future?

It was the past that stretched out to the horizon.  Every injury I had suffered.  Every slight she had given. Continue reading

Wishes – #writephoto

Photo by Sue Vincent

“Are you the Wish Master?”

The man in front of Yashri was in the finest silks and covered in the most expensive jewels.  “Yes,” he answered.

“Good, then you will fulfill my wishes,” the jeweled man said.

“I am sorry sir, but there are proper procedures and protocols to go through.”

The jeweled man’s face turned red.  “No!  You will grant my wish now!  Look over there.”  He pointed to a haze on the horizon.  “I have 10,000 soldiers.  If you do not grant my wish, I will send them in to kill all in this village.”

Yashri frowned.  “What is your wish?”

“To conquer the world.” Continue reading

Midnight’s Flower

rose

(Note – I wrote this in 2010.  You’ll see references to things from that era.  Back then I did not write poetry.  Ever.  So the poems in here are, well, they are supposed to be written by high school kids, so…  This is unedited, just as I “found” it.)

“What’s this?”  Zachary Wooldridge picked a spiral-bound notebook out of the weeds.  He was sitting on a rock in his favorite hiding spot, a small open area hidden from the main path that ran through the patch of woods behind his house.  Situated near the top of a hill the little private zone afforded a view out over town, though with the residential trees, the nearby river and more distant hills as a backdrop he often imagined he was a million miles from the nearest person instead of smack-dab in the middle of town.

Zack turned the notebook over in his hands a few times.  The front cover was an unadorned black.  The back was what drew his interest for a rose was inked in by hand, a rose all in black with the lines being created by un-inked areas of cardboard brown.  Care was taken to make every petal stand out, contrasting with the crudely drawn oversized thorns.  One thorn near the bottom had a large ink-black drop which Zack guessed was supposed to be blood.

Leafing through the notebook Zack found it to be full of poetry written with the same black ink.  The print was small and plain, but was tight, exact, somehow creating a sense of urgency or pain.  Because of the neatness Zack could only imagine a female hand creating the print, thinking of his own sloppy, spidery text.  In his mind he saw a tall, thin girl dressed all in black holding a black pen with a hand fringed with black fingernails gracefully sharing her innermost thoughts with the notebook, occasionally brushing raven black hair out of her eyes.

Zack read through a few poems at random.  He was amazed at some of the imagery and multidimensional facet of the poems.  For instance, “Forgotten Skin” seemed to be about walking around “dressed” only in bones – “When I went out today; I forgot my skin.”  The poet though, stays invisible – “Bony hand holds the door; he doesn’t see or care.”  And yet, to Zack, it seemed to say so much more, to cry out for attention. Continue reading

Sisters – Season’s Version

Sisters

(Note – This is a more finished version of two stories that I posted here several years ago.   It is in my book of short stories Seasons of Imagination.)

The bustle and buzz emanating from the hall announced the arrival of the kids long before they’d actually entered the classroom. They usually drove together from the high school, arriving en masse, a little gaggle on their own. The energy level of the room rose even though the small tribe was still in the hall.

Paul glanced over at the other students. He wasn’t sure if it was the early time of day or just the nature of the class, but all of the others were retirees. The five of them, Margret, George, Shelley, Ellen and Marilyn, though friendly enough, seemed to keep to themselves, their easels huddled to one side of the room as if afraid the high school kids had some type of contagious disease.

Paul, a young computer programmer and so a member of neither group, set up in the middle of the room, a firewall between the volatile youth and the more sedate retirees. Sarah Graudot, the drawing instructor, was Paul’s contemporary, give or take a few years, but was different. She had the ability to treat all equally and the instinct to understand who needed her help.

“Hey Mrs. G, guess what?” Paul turned to the door to see Shawna entering followed by her groupies. “The academy accepted me! I’ll be going to New York next year.” Continue reading

Arch – #writephoto

arch

Photo by Sue Vincent

No color or chroma reaches my night-dead eye.  The sun sets over the ruined cathedral.  And there is me, awake again, hanging in the middle, with the ghosts of the past on one side and the shadows of the future on the other, dangling between history and destiny, on this arch of time.

The hollow, no longer hallow, walls stretch above me, the marble has been stripped away, revealing broken brick and rubble.

Entering through my secret door, I taste the evening, taste her, taste the world, the world of the everlasting Now.

I walk through the cathedral, once the place of long forgotten saints and archbishops, of king and peasant long turned to dust.  I can still see their faces on the crumbling walls.

How the mighty have fallen, the holy rotted.  Continue reading