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Monday Memoir: The Matriarch

 

ONE FINAL GIFT

Scatter me not to the restless winds
Nor toss my ashes to the sea.
Remember now those years gone by
When loving gifts I gave to thee.
Remember now the happy times
The family ties are shared.
Don’t leave my resting place unmarked
As though you never cared.
Deny me not one final gift
For all who came to see.
A simple lasting proof that says
I loved and you loved me.

(by D.H.Cramer)

 

 

Not many days pass that I don’t think of my grandmother. I’ve always considered her a kind of matriarch for the maternal side of my family.  Geraldine Anna May Hart Furnia was a slight woman, but her size was quite deceiving because underneath that smallish frame was tremendous strength and courage.

She was born on December 20, 1920.  Her young life was hard as I’ve been told.  She married my grandfather, Paul Furnia who was six years older, when she was sixteen. She married young so she could get out of an abusive family situation.  I never learned what went on though.   Life with my grandfather wasn’t much better,  but she loved him and the family they made together.   Early in the marriage they had four children; then World War II began and he enlisted in the Army and spent part of the war up in Alaska (Kodiak Island). She was left to care for the four children in a home that wasn’t much more than a shack. After the war, three more children were born; one of them my mother.  Grandfather became a logger which he worked till his retirement at the age 67.

They bought a house on Grove Rd next to the Ausable River.  For many years, they grew their own food and didn’t have plumbing until my mother was a girl.  They still lived in the same house while I grew up.

I spent much of my childhood with my grandmother.  I often considered her my surrogate mother as my own worked full-time.  They didn’t have daycare centers during the seventies so family members or friends were often the ones called upon to help watch me (and eventually my brother and sister).

Most of my fondest memories as a girl involved my grandmother.

She was a great storyteller and a self-taught musician.  I literally spent countless hours listening to tales of the past or to the tunes of the banjo or accordion.

She was a devout Catholic and would take me to the Saturday mass each week.

She loved spending time outdoors tending to her large garden, or filling buckets of juicy blueberries.

Most of all, she loved having her house full of family members.  No matter how scattered her children or grandchildren were, we always found our way back to her house a few times a year for huge gatherings.   Storytelling, music and games were the highlights, and each time she was the center of them all.

She was the magnet that kept drawing us back, the glue that bonded us close together, and the heart that continued to beat in all of us while we were apart.

It was heartbreaking to see her pass away on February 22, 1988.   She was only sixty-seven.  Her body gave out long before her spirit wanted to let go.  Emphysema may have claimed her life, but the memories of her will always live on.  Even though we don’t gather together as often as a family, we will always be linked no matter where we are because her heart still beats within us.

Friday Fun (A Story Prompt Challenge #6)

 

 

Using this image, write a story in 25 words or less .

Post your story in the comment section below. The one with the MOST LIKES will be featured in a future post.

Challenge will remain open until 11:59pm Monday.

Have fun! 🙂

 

In hope of garnering more readers for the stories, I’ve opened them up to voting which can be found here.  Be sure to spread the word!

Guest post: The Dawn Visitors

A guest post I wrote recently recounting a frightening experience I had as a girl.

A safe space for curious minds

This story is shared by Carrie Ann Golden. You can find her on her blog “A writer and her sentimental muse” and through her social links: Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

Something happened to me as a girl that still bothers me. Was it a paranormal or a supernatural incident? I’m unsure.

I’ll tell you what I remember.

View original post 443 more words

Monday Memoir: Unforgettable

 

At the age of ten, I discovered there was another way of intermingling with my imaginary friends, and that was through writing.  A new world was suddenly opened to me where I can create and bring things to life on paper. Because of my hearing impairment, my overall understanding of grammar was a bit lacking to say the least, and I knew this.  And because of this, I kept whatever I wrote hidden away.  I wasn’t ready to share with the world.

Not yet.

In the meantime, I struggled with insecurities, and with the belief that I was inferior to the other kids. I felt I wasn’t good enough in anything.   As a result, I stayed pretty much a loner with perhaps one or two good friends.

Later on in the same school year, one of the school’s teachers, Mr. Hathaway, announced that the school was going to compete in its first (and only) track meet with other private schools in the area. I signed up for three events: 100 yard dash, 200 yard dash, and 400 yard relay.

I’ll need to clarify that my school’s sport program when compared to the area public schools was more intramural at best; especially given the fact that my entire school population had only seventy students in all (grades Kindergarten through 12th)! And because of the small size, most of our sports were played with co-ed teams.

You get the idea.

Photo Credit: Acclaim Images

 

I was excited, and I was also nervous. I’ve never done track before. We had no coach, or any training. I wondered just how bad I was going to be.

The track meet was held on a warm spring day at another private school (almost as small as my school); the school’s parking lot was converted into a track.  For my first event, the 100 yard dash, I found myself competing against girls who were two and three years older than me, but age or size didn’t matter as I flew past them and finished in 1st place.  The same thing happened in the next event, the 200 yard dash, where I again finished in 1st place. In my last event, 400 yard relay, I was put in as the last runner, and as a team, we placed 2nd.

I never thought that running and competing could be so much fun.

Summer came and my parents placed me in a summer day camp which was sponsored by one of the local public schools. None of the kids from my school were there, but that really didn’t bother me. The kids that were there were from other public schools, ages that ranged from five all the way up to sixteen. I kept to myself as always while occasionally conversing with a few who were close to my age. One whom I do remember was Kari Lynn Nixon. She was a few months younger than me, but I was amazed by her. She was pretty, outgoing, and popular. I can remember one particular day when she involved me in one of the activities she led: how to put on makeups.

Here I was, eleven years old at the time, a tomboy learning how to apply lipstick and blush to my sweaty and dirty face. I must have been a comical sight when I got home later that day.

I remember one specific day over any others though.  It was late morning when one of the camp leaders announced that there was going to be a race.  Anyone who was interested was to come to the baseball field and stand in a line next to the home base. I didn’t think.  I just went. As soon as I stood in that line with at least twenty other kids, doubts filled my mind and butterflies jumped in my stomach.

What was I doing?

Most of these kids were athletes.  A few of whom I actually knew were  star baseball and softball athletes.  What kind of chance would I have against them?  A girl like me who went to a small private school against these other kids who went to schools that were at least ten times larger.

I must be insane.

I seriously considered stepping out and away from the line, but that would mean the entire camp would see me chickening out.  There had to have been about one hundred kids sitting in the bleachers behind me.

I had no choice, but to compete.

Must of the race was a blur to me.  I remember running as fast as I could.  I remember this one boy athlete racing right along beside me.  Then I remember seeing the home base ahead of me as we rounded the last section of the field.  I could hear the kids cheering in the bleachers. I can remember my legs feeling like rubbery leads.  You know what was amazing about that race?

I finished first.

I finally found something that I was good at. Something that apparently I was better than many of the kids from the local public schools.

It all felt quite surreal.  I never had so many people cheering for me.  Congratulating me.

It felt good.

I almost felt…normal.

 

Run With the Wind

Cool breeze sweeping by

the landscape all but a blur

my feet take me home

Story Saturday: Something in the Fog

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

This story is taken from the prompt created by Liam J Cross Writing & Editing:

There is a lot to learn from inquisitiveness. And as you look through the binoculars, you find out just how much.

***

It was just a stupid dare.

I was visiting a friend who lived near the coast.  Crissy.  We hadn’t seen each other since high school.  I was on break from college, and she had a day off from work.

We were on our way to town when she took a detour out in the middle of nowhere.

“Hey, where are we going?” I asked.

“There’s someplace I want to show you first.” She said.

And pulled off the graveled road.  All I saw was this open grassy meadow only I couldn’t see very far as it was covered in this heavy fog.  In the distance I could hear a low roar.

“Is that the ocean I hear?” I asked.

“Yep.” Crissy replied.

“So, why are we here?”

“There’s this local urban legend about this place.” She said.

Oh, great.  She hadn’t changed much at all since high school.

“Crissy, I don’t want to do this.” I remembered all too well the last time she did this to me.

“No worries, Bec.  I promise you won’t end up in the ER this time.” She smiled.

I rolled my eyes at her, and then let out a loud sigh.  “I give up. What’s this local urban legend?”

“Some years ago, twenty I think, police picked up a man roaming this field.” She began. “He was shoeless, and mumbling about a girl haunting him.  After further prodding, the police learned that a year prior this man had kidnapped a girl, raped and then killed her, and dumped her body into the ocean nearby.  He claimed that every night since she would climb up out of the ocean, and go after him in his dreams.  He returned to look for her body, but couldn’t find it.  He begged the police to help.”

Crissy paused, and looked over at me.

“Did the police help him?”

“Yes, they called in a crime unit to search up and down the coast, but they never found a body.”

“And what happened to the man?”

“The police had him committed to a psyche ward.” Crissy said. “He died a few months later. He was found in bed, strangled to death.”

“Creepy.” I said.

“Yeah.  They say that if you come to this place on a foggy day, and look towards the ocean, you may see a girl climb up from the ledge, and then disappear in to the fog.”

“Oh?”

“Here.” She handed me a pair of binoculars. “I dare you to look.”

“This is crazy, Cris.”

“I double dare you.” She said with a grin.

I yanked the item from her hands. “For the record, I didn’t want to do this.”

“Be a good sport.” She said.

“Whatever.” I muttered and looked through the binoculars.  All I saw was this thick white mist, and nothing beyond. “I can’t see a thing.  Now, can we go?”

“You didn’t even really try.” She said. “Scared you’ll actually see something?”

“No, just bored.”

“Try harder.”

This damn girl…if she wasn’t a friend…

“I hate you.” I said, and stormed away and out in to the meadow.

I walked until I was completely enveloped in the mist.  The roaring now much louder.  I dared not to venture any further for fear of falling off the ledge.

Crissy loved doing these sort of things to friends.  She get off on them mostly by our reactions.   Being the only child, I’m sure she did these kinds of stuff for attention since her parents rarely paid any to her.

I took a deep breath, and looked through the binoculars once more.

This time the fog diminished just before the drop off to the expansive ocean where the rolling gray water spread as far as the eyes could see until it met the sky.

I saw nothing else.

Yet, I couldn’t remove the binoculars from my eyes as I continued to stare out towards the horizon.  Morbid curiosity pulsed through me as I remained rooted to the spot.

I closed my eyes for a moment.

One more look and then I’ll head back to the car.

Opening my eyes, I scanned the view ahead.

Oh, crap.

A pair of dirtied hands appeared on the ledge, grasping at grass and dirt.

Something in the Fog photo-1503925802536-c9451dcd87b5

Photo Credit: unsplash.com

 

My god…oh my god…

My hands shook as the binoculars shuttered on my face and the view blurred.

No, I don’t want to see her face.

I spun around and jogged back to the car.  Crissy sat on top of the hood. I could see a smirk forming on her mouth.

“See something?”

I shove the binoculars at her. “Yeah. Now it’s time to go.”

 

 

 

Friday Favorite: Captain Kirk (Quote)

 

I’ve long been a fan of the Star Trek television series and films, and out of all the Captains, James T. Kirk has always been one of my favorites.  Although I do enjoy the version by actor Chris Pine, the one portrayed by William Shatner will forever be the best.

The most memorable quote by Kirk (Star Trek V The Final Frontier):

(The full quote: “Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!“)

This quote resonated with me on so many levels both personally and as a writer.  Our painful experiences deepen and enrich our lives, and make us the individuals we are.  Without painful experiences, how else are we able to sympathize and empathize with others?  They make us human.  Our painful experiences also enable us to be better writers.  To create real characters that our readers can identify with.

For me, on a personal level, I’ve decided to keep my pain instead of seeing shrinks to help ease them.  Not (just) to punish myself (yeah, morbid), but they help me craft better poetry and disturbing stories.

Sounds so Stephen Kingish, eh?

This is probably one of the reasons why I write dark stuff although lately I’m attempting to write Romance (but of course they’ll have some dark qualities in them).  Life is real, and it’s hard.  Life isn’t all roses and sweet.  But, it does have moments of hope and love and laughter.

Being human is complicated.  Full of layers.  Both good and not-so-good.

Like Captain Kirk.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite quote that resonates with you?

 

 

#ThursdayThoughts: Beethoven

Ever wondered where some of the greatest musicians get ideas for their masterpieces?  Ludwig van Beethoven shed a little light on his creative process below:

 

 

Even for Beethoven, the creative process was a bit of a mystery.

Where do ideas come from?

The Divine?

From some unknown source in the deep recess of our minds?

Wherever the ideas truly come from, I welcome them!

Monday Memoir: An Eccentric Outsider

 

I was almost six years old when I was diagnosed with nerve deafness.  I received my first behind-the-ear hearing aid shortly after the initial visit with Ms. Audrey.   The device helped as I was finally able to hear the sounds around me more clearly.  I could finally hear myself talk as well as whoever was trying to talk to me.

I was now able to understand and learn in school.

It certainly was not a “cure-all” as I was still very much a loner.  An outsider.

I spent the next two or three years attending speech therapy at a distant school.  About twice a week, a transportation vehicle would come and pick me up at the tiny private school I attended, and took me fifteen miles away to a moderate size elementary public school where I met with my speech therapist for our one-hour sessions.   Then I would board a public school bus with kids I didn’t know which took me home.

The speech therapy sessions helped, but I still spoke funny.

My accent was odd.  Out-of-place.

People, kids looked at me with strange expressions.

I felt very much alone most of the time.

Imaginary friends helped me through this period, as they would throughout my life.  Even as an adult, I still have imaginary friends.

Does that make me strange?

An outsider who’s not quite all there?

Hmm…yeah, I guess so.

And you know the funny part about all this?

I’m fine with it.  Totally and completely.

Why?

Because I have an excuse to be strange and odd, and what’s that word that a coworker once used to describe me?

Eccentric.

However, by the time I was eleven I’d developed a slight problem with having imaginary friends.   I started to act out some of the things they wanted me to do or where they wanted me to go.

Adventures in other lands.  Or, more like misadventures.

Like this one time when I was playing with my various superhero friends when one of them convinced me that I was Wonder Woman and could leap over a line of six chairs.   I almost cleared them all.  I ended up straddling a rocking chair and spent that evening in the ER.

When I was eleven my best friend was Melanie.  She was a red-head with a fiery temper.  I can’t remember what sparked the idea but she put out a challenge to see who could write the best short story.  I took the challenge and wrote a story about a haunted house where a girl went in to explore and found a decapitated head in the fridge.  Pretty morbid, but this particular challenge altered my life forever.

That day I learned there were other ways of participating in adventures with my imaginary friends; not to mention, much safer.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the writer within me was born.

Story Sunday: The Moments Before

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

 

 

The fire is consuming the world.

Yet, here I stand, in a place still untouched.

I inhale the sweet breath of nature.  Not a scent of smoke or sulfur…for now.

The sun rays dash between the gray billows of the reddening sky.   I spy a pair of sea gulls interweaving with one another near a calm lake.

It’s the silence before chaos.

My legs are quivering.  The need to flee filling my essence.

To where?

Flames and oceans of lava are bludgeoning everything, and soon even this tiny haven will be claimed by their instinctual desire to burn all to ashes.

Of all the ways to die…

Oh, to fly high like the birds, to outrun the hell that’s swiftly coming my way.

It’s not death that I fear.

No, it’s the thought of the agony of my flesh melting and sliding off my bones while I’m still alive.

For days, I have tried to outrun this terrible destiny, but now there is no where else to hide to.

A gentle breeze caresses my wet skin, cooling on contact as I stifle a shiver.  Closing my eyes, the melodious cries of birds drift through me.

Have mercy…let it be quick.