Thursday, June 25, 2015

No flash fiction this week, sorry.

Just a quick note to let you know that there won't  be any flash fiction this Friday.
I'm having adventures in healthcare, instead. ;-P  I hope to discharge to home today, but will be traveling for medical care out of state in the next few days, so it's possible that I will miss next Friday as well. I'll try to leave a short update here mid-week.
Now that we have discovered the source of the problem (an ovarian cyst pretending to be a 4th of July firework), we have a good treatment plan in place & my pain is vastly reduced. In other words, it's against the rules for anyone to worry. Instead, send me warm thoughts and energy, please. ;-)
I'll be back to writing and wreaking mischief in no time!


Friday, June 19, 2015


It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in intelligent life forms elsewhere in the universe. With all the endless numbers of galaxies and star systems out there, it seemed silly to imagine Earth was the only place life had stumbled into existence. No, what Eleanor didn’t believe in, was aliens. She didn’t believe in grey-skinned humanoids with oversized heads. She didn’t believe in monstrous insects intent on invading the planet. She didn’t believe that aliens were an imminent threat and, most of all, she didn’t believe in alien abductions. She’d grown up listening to Uncle Danny’s paranoid ramblings about alien abductions, but the day he told her that the holocaust hadn’t happened, Eleanor had stopped believing anything he said. From then on, whatever Uncle Danny believed, she learned to believe the opposite. This approach had served Eleanor well. It had launched her interest in science, and set her on a path that would carry her through high school and college. It was an approach that had never failed her. Until now.  
Eleanor didn’t believe Uncle Danny’s stories, but that didn’t mean she’d forgotten them.  She remembered how the stories had gone. Most people who claimed to have been abducted said they’d been taken from their homes, usually while asleep in bed. Occasionally someone reported being taken from a quiet field or lonely country road. She was certain nobody had ever reported being abducted while stopped at a traffic light on a busy Saturday morning. She was going to be the first, she realized as she watched the metal ship hover closer, and saw the beam of light that stabbed down from the bottom of the disk-shaped hull.
Eleanor shifted her car into park and turned off the ignition. Just because her childhood nightmares were coming true was no reason to cause an accident. When the beam of light lit upon her through the front windshield of her car, Eleanor took a deep breath, straightened her shoulders and tightened her grip on her purse. She’d want that later, she suspected.
Her exit through the roof of her car, up into the air, and then into the flying saucer was painless and, aside from the embarrassment she felt when her left shoe fell off and landed on the hood of a red sedan, comfortable.
Eleanor arrived in an empty room. Well, at least it was empty until she arrived, she thought. The walls, floor, and ceiling were made of a smooth, white material. There were no fixtures, yet the room was evenly and brightly lit. She waited patiently for at least ten minutes, and then, checking her watch, began to wait impatiently. After an hour, she sat down against one wall and closed her eyes. The unbroken whiteness of the room exhausted her. Something as momentous as an alien abduction shouldn’t be boring. Eleanor sighed and soon drifted off to sleep.
When she woke, Eleanor noted that the room had grown a doorway. Blinking her sleepy eyes into focus, she stood up and approached the door. It led to another room, larger and distinctly NOT white. This was a relief and Eleanor stepped into the larger room. Everything within the new room was green. Every tint, shade, and tone of green covered the walls, floor and ceiling. It was at once comforting, like a verdant forest scene, and overstimulating by dint of the sheer number of competing greens.
Aside from five green chairs gathered around a green coffee table, the green room was as empty as the white room had been. Eleanor strode to a chair and sat down with a quiet huff of disapproval. This was not the way abductions ought to be conducted. Hosts should never leave guests unattended in such a manner. This was outright neglectful and rude!
She shifted in her chair and realized that it was at once lumpy, and over-soft. She snorted. Hosts. That was the wrong word. Instead, captors. Yes, that was more apt. Captors might be neglectful and, given the implications of being a captive, she felt a current of relief wash through her. Neglectful captors were far preferable to captors who lavished their captives with attention. The latter sorts of captors could also be called tormenters. She was grateful that there hadn’t been any nonsense about probes, surgical tables, or experiments.
Eleanor contemplated her feelings of boredom and gratitude until she fell asleep again. This time, when she woke, the new room was yellow. The next was purple. Then, red, black, blue, brown, pink, and orange.
Eleanor, using her watch and the small calendar she carried in her purse, kept track of time. In all, she spent ten solitary days on aboard the UFO. Never, during her captivity, did she feel the need to eat or void. She spent the long hours thinking, filing her nails (she was glad she’d had the foresight to bring her purse), napping, and humming to herself.
On the morning of the eleventh day, Eleanor woke to find herself in the office of the local Chief of Police. Eleanor was dismayed by her indiscreet return, having hoped to keep a low profile. The chief was equally as dismayed, but for somewhat different reasons. Eleanor’s supine form had appeared across his desk only moments before his wife stormed into his office hurling accusations of an affair.
There were a few days of small town furor over the entire incident, with the paper and radio wanting interviews, and ufologists from around the country competing for Eleanor’s attention. Truth being the best policy, Eleanor repeated her story without embellishing or dramatizing it in any way, though she always withheld one mortifying detail. Most people who heard the story thought it a lie. Either Eleanor had fabricated the entire abduction experience, or the aliens had somehow altered her memories. There was nothing titillating about Eleanor’s story, nothing to make it newsworthy or even believable.
No witnesses ever came forward to corroborate her story about the flying saucer or the ray of light that had lifted her out of her car at the stop light. It seemed none of the other drivers had seen the UFO or the bright light, though the police chief himself had been the one to find her car in the intersection. Plenty of folks had seen her abandoned car, of course, but that was hardly evidence of aliens.
Three years later, Eleanor and the chief were married in a small civil ceremony and, afterwards, they drove the chief’s sedan to the next town for a weekend honeymoon. That night, the chief gave Eleanor a package. It was about the size of shoebox and wrapped in plain brown paper. He’d attached a sparkly silver bow to the top and she was careful to save that. Inside the box, was her missing left shoe. 

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Friday, June 12, 2015


This week on Facebook, I posted the photo below and held a contest! The fifth person to correctly identify the flowers shown (cow parsnip), would get to select the topic for my story today! Feel free to join me over on Facebook, you never know when you might have an opportunity to suggest a writing prompt, name a character, or support some other sort of fun! There was a lot of suspense, some great guesses, innovative attempts at cheating my system, and a whole lot of fun! The topic selected turned out to be, "...browsing on the internet...or wasting time on facebook when I am supposed to be working...well...not" If that's not a universal theme, I don't know what is.   :-)


After all this time, folks are still nattering on about the Library of Alexandria and the fire that demolished it. Sure, it was a magnificent place, but it wasn’t the only great library of the ancient world. There was Ebla, the Library of Ashurbanipal, the Library of Pergamum, the Imperial Library of Constantinople, and hundreds of others. I visited all of them. Alexandria was my only accident. Everyone makes mistakes. Of course, once the council finally concluded its investigation of that one little conflagration, they banned me. Can you imagine? Here I was, immortal, learned, and with a passion for knowledge, but barred from all libraries for the remainder of eternity.
To make matters worse, I just happened to own the bakery in London that started the Great Fire of London. After that mishap, the council insisted I stay here. In this metal domicile. They said I’m “accident-prone”. Really? In all these millennia, two fires qualify me as accident-prone? Of course, there’s no arguing with the council. It may take them hundreds of years to investigate an infraction and determine a sentence, but once they do, it’s more permanent than mountains.
To keep me busy, they say, I am required to act as their secretary and general assistant. I take all the council meeting minutes, organize and publish the agenda, and manage incoming and outgoing mail. Now that the age of the internet is upon us (thank the heavens above!), most of my duties are digital in nature, and so I spend many hours at my computer. I have a strong satellite signal, in spite of the metallic nature of my home. It was a very long time between my last library visit and the development of the great and glorious Internet. Once again, though, the knowledge of the world is at my fingertips, and it’s all perfectly safe. I couldn’t burn down the internet, even if I tried. What? No! Of course I wouldn’t try. I told you, those were accidents. 
The council expects me to work, work, work, almost every waking hour. None of them have ever been on the internet, however. They’ve no idea how little time I spend doing my job and how many hours I while away happily running down rabbit holes and talking to friends on social media who are so far away that they’re halfway through tomorrow while I’m still muddling through today. It’s a small insubordination, really, but it is my sole pleasure. After all, what else can captive djinn do while sealed inside a metal lamp? 

As always, thank you for all of your support!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Schooner's Song

Trent bought Schooner from a backyard breeder when he was a sophomore in college. Five years later, I dated Trent for eight months until the day he broke Schooner's leg. That day, we split up. As break-ups go, it was a good one. Trent got a concussion, two black eyes, and a death threat, courtesy of my big brother, while I got a protective order, a $500 vet bill, and a hundred and ten pounds of stick-obsessed, cat-chasing, beer fetching black lab.
Schooner and I had a deal. For my part, I promised to make sure nobody ever hurt him again, I promised never to ask him to bring me a beer, and I promised to throw sticks for him every single day for the rest of his life. Even when they were covered in slobber. Even when they were almost as small as toothpicks.
For his part, Schooner promised to love me and keep me safe by farting whenever I had company, sleeping across my legs, and by ruthlessly hunting down and killing every fly, mosquito, and spider that ventured inside our house.
There wasn't anything I wasn't willing to do for that dog. Special food? He got it. Walks in every kind of weather? You bet. Play dates with other dogs, dog-oriented vacations, toys, treats, personalized collars, his own sleeping bag for camping, specialty shampoos, and holiday photos with Santa. With me, Schooner led a life of luxury. I think he knew it, too. There was never a sweeter tempered dog. As much as I was willing to do for him, he was willing to do for me. When I was sick, he snuggled with me. When I cried, he licked away my tears. Schooner always seemed to know when I needed to laugh, when I needed to be distracted from my human worries, and when what I really needed was for him to stand next to me and look big and scary.
Only one thing marred our, otherwise, perfect relationship. Schooner had a terrible singing voice. And he lovvvveed to sing. He sang when I listened to the radio. He sang when I played an album. He sang along with the TV, the doorbell, ambulance sirens, and the ringtones on my phone. Schooner even sang when I hummed under my breath. Schooner could no more hold his peace than he could carry a tune. I tried listening to my favorite music on headphones, but Schooner had keen hearing and sang along. I tried putting him inside my car, inside the garage when I watched TV, but Schooner knew, and he howled along to the nightly news with as much dissonant cacophony as he did when I tried to watch a classic musical.
I tried teaching Schooner to sing on command, which he seemed to enjoy. Then, I tried teaching Schooner to stop singing, at my command. He refused. I tried clicker training, but Schooner loved singing more than treats, toys or even sticks. I hired a trainer who succeeded in teaching Schooner to dance when he sang, but who couldn't teach the dog to be quiet. One friend suggested I try an electric collar but that would have meant breaking my promise and I wasn't about to do that. Someone else suggested surgical debarking, which seemed to me, to be at least as cruel as the shock collar.
At last, when I had exhausted every other reasonable solution, I hired a voice coach. Yep. I hired a voice coach for my dog. If he was going to sing, at least he could learn to do it well.
Schooner took voice lessons twice a week and for six months, I waited and listened while nothing seemed to improve. If anything, Schooner was singing more but he wasn't getting any better. His high notes vibrated the windows in the house, and his low notes made the peach fuzz on my arms stand up straight. The voice coach urged me not to give up. I suspected her motives; after all, I was paying her well. Still, I was desperate. I paid for another two months of lessons and I waited.
Seven and a half months into voice lessons, Schooner began singing recognizable songs. At first, he was limited to Twinkle, Twinkle and Mary Had a Little Lamb, but each week he learned a new song. A year later, Schooner performed at the Alaska folk festival and from there, his career took off.
Schooner probably could have gone on the road, after that, but I wasn’t willing to let him go without me, nor was I ready to give up my career in social work, so we compromised. Every good relationship involves compromise. We stayed in Juneau where Schooner recorded a new CD once a year and played local gigs twice a month, while I continued in my nine-to-five job. It was a good life and, while Schooner never did stop singing along with the TV and radio, I learned to live with his passion for music.