Category Archives: pleasant memories

One More Thing: #FridayFictioneers

Standard
caged-liz
PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

One More Thing

My ex walked out.

She cheated on me. Twice!

Got fired from a job I hated.

Car repossessed.

Bought a cheapo replacement.

Crashed it. DUI.

New job: nervous breakdown.

Got fired.

Fell off a curb; broke my leg.

Got addicted to Fentanyl.

Tried a twelve step. Fell off at #3.

Had a cat. It ran off, after scratching me all over.

Caused an infection.

Bandaged from head to toe. Sent home.

“Friend” thought it’d be funny to lock me in a cage for Halloween.

Scared the kids. Police arrested us both.

~
~
~

I really like you. Care for a second date?

************************************
Author’s Note:

It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time, as always created and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted To Purple.

The rules are simple if you’d like to do this:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt (goes up on Wednesday).
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.
  1. Add the InLinkz button (below) so your readers can find the dozens of other bloggers who have taken up this challenge.

Advertisements

His Time Capsulated: #FridayFictioneers

Standard

russell-working

PHOTO PROMPT © Connie Gayer

His Time Capsulated

Everyone thought Russ was a gardening savant. Thought that of himself at times, but he knew the real reason why he took up this “hobby.” It wasn’t to please Connie. An excuse, embarrassed to admit he had buried a Time Capsule in his backyard when he was a teen.

Embarrassed he forgot where it was and what he buried. Forgotten all about it.

Damn getting old.

Finally finding it, he knelt, creaking. Waited a moment, hoping he’d left words of wisdom that would spread; maybe some treasured thing from the past.

Inside, just a note:

Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30!”

********************************************

The above is a photo prompt challenge from Addicted to Purple by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields that she calls Friday Fictioneers . The rules for this prompt are simple:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt.
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with a beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.

A lot of people join in; the variety of the personal takes on the prompt is what makes this fun. Take a look at what the others wrote, and maybe join in on the creative fun.

Epilogue: Zephyr, A Caress: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

Standard

** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Please check back on Monday, May 7th, for my Final Reflections. Thank you.

zephyr

Epilogue: Zephyr, A Caress

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Grief lasts as long as it will last. There is no timetable when it should end, no scale for how deep it should be. Nothing to say grief won’t return. It is its own living thing, and it either eats away at you or strengthen your resolve to go on, to mourn, to let go.

The Shopkeeper embraced hers as an inner sore: on the outside, she presented herself as was her norm. A freshly starched white buttoned blouse, the top button fastened, her fingers assuring her of this fact. She smoothed down the black fabric of her ankle-length skirt. Putting on her apron, she winced, tying it a touch too tight. She left it as it was, as she had done every time since…

In the many weeks since the incident, the Shopkeeper took her time getting to know all the new dollhouses. They appeared, without ceremony, taking residence in the places of the ones that had been destroyed. Malcanisen remained by her side as she ambled about. She still found some of the debris scattered in the most unlikely of places around the shoppe; but, once found, they simply faded away once she wasn’t looking.

This new crop of minature replicas had wants and needs, just as the previous tenants of her shoppe had. When the opportunities presented themselves, they murmured the same “mine, mine, mine” as the ones now absent. But, things were not status quo as before. Far away enough that it brought something new to the Shopkeeper: worry.

There was a balance shift with the new: more unhappiness, more anger, more depravity. These dollhouses outnumbered those that exuded more peaceful memories and needs. The Shopkeeper did not like this new shift at all. Yet, there was little she could do about the denizens about her. Only another upheaval could, hopefully, tip the balance in the other direction, creating a more harmonious setting.

What she could do, she did. Once she had the feel of the new she began to rearrange the placement of the houses. The darker abodes were situated near lighter natured dollhouses; when she could cluster them, she did. There was a stabilizing effect for a short while, but distinct grumblings permeated the shoppe after the first reshuffling. Twice more she shifted locations around the shoppe; on this third try, the houses seemed to accept their lots. The Shopkeeper was pleased, but not entirely happy.

The window display took on a whole new life. A magnificent replica of the Castle of Goeie Hoop stood there, majestic in scope, taking the whole of the display space. Many called out for their due when the new door chimes tinkled; sometimes many hushes from the Shopkeeper was needed to silence them. Occasionally, when she was at her counter, waiting, sounds of gunfire could be heard. The Shopkeeper would look over with a scowl; the noise ceased. Always.

She had begun to avoid the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée best she could. The Wall of Skulls underwent a thorough cleansing of what had been displayed before. All forty-two specimens were new, with new nameplate labels. She had glanced at them early on, missing a few, especially Sigurd. She felt them all yearning to tell their stories, their need overwhelming. It disturbed her deeply; she kept it locked, a drastic change in her dusting duties.

It was one skull in particular that had her in knots. While she was privy to some ghastly knowledge from many in her care, there was that one: she wasn’t ready for it, wasn’t sure if she would ever be ready to hear the telling of this one’s tale.

The label only read “Child.”

Duster in hand, she busied herself around the shoppe, doing her best not to glance towards the empty far corner.

*** *** ***

The soldier only vaguely remembered the incident. He had a new scar that was painful if he placed any real weight on it. He had no concrete awareness of how he got this scar or even the when or the where. All he knew was it ached at times, and was only one of many scars all over his body. He carried it like the others.

There was a stiffness in his right hand, the outer two digits especially. His EMT buddy said it was probably a bad case of Trigger Finger since they sometimes get locked into a bent position. He was able to release them, so he didn’t bother checking out a doctor for it.

“Look, Tom. A Zayat ahead. I could use a rest stop.” His companion, Mary, tired easily, but he was more than fine with that. Her recovery from her stabbings was labeled a miracle by the nurses that tended her. His EMT buddy thought so too, having read Mary’s charts, even though he wasn’t supposed to.

Tom had awakened one day at the hospital, sitting by Mary’s side, no idea how he had gotten there. He remembered tracking Mary’s assailant, and that was it. The next thing, he’s by her side, an aching scar, stiff right hand, and an awake Mary staring at him. Her smile filled her face when she saw he was awake.

The nurses had told her all about the guy who had brought her in, most likely saving her life. They said he sat by her side more days than they kept count, talking to her comatose form, keeping on eye on her while she was out. He disappeared for a bit, and they all thought he had given up hope, but-surprise-he was back, and just after she, also, was back.

They talked for a long time, first about her attack and the aftermath. Mary was upset that her assailant had not been found, but was also relieved that there had been no further sightings or attacks. Tom was a reassuring presence for her, and she wound up being the same for him.

After her discharge, they got closer. Close enough to the point that he easily asked her to come with him: he needed to travel, come to some peace in his being with the loss of his brothers, and the guilt he still felt for falling asleep while on sentry. She agreed, without a second’s thought.

The Zayat was simple but more than sufficient, as all the others they had stumbled upon. They rested, found fresh food and water, and stayed for a few of the religious occasions that happened around them. Mary had an idea that Tom readily agreed to: they were given permission to stay and help tend this particular Zayat, for the time being, keeping it clean, helping with any chores that needed doing, and welcoming other travelers seeking shelter.

Their lives, for the time being, was enriched by this Zayat, the Jivitandana Sangha, and they enriched it, finding peace and love.

*** ***

The Shopkeeper was resting in her back room, fresh scone devoured, a second cup of tea steaming by her side on the table. She had closed her eyes, leaning into her padded chair. Malcanisen was at her feet; on her feet, more accurately, snoring away. Cleaning around the shoppe, tending to those who entered, the houses that wanted: it all still left a hole in the whole affair.

She had thought with the death of the murderer, the vengeance sought and achieved, that she would be released from her binding. As the Unfolding Doll seemed to have been. There had been nothing left of it from the fire that consumed Muirhouse and its woodshed. There had been no shimmering from the far corner, now less shadow filled than it had ever been. She was left, and it was gone, and the pain in her heart was so severe at times, the grief that subsided but rose again, and again.

Something prevented her from moving on. She racked her memory of everything that happened after that night at the Carousel, her then grief turning into a burning pledge of hatred and revenge. Promises made, from her and…promises made, but not kept, it seems, for her.

Collecting herself, she began to breathe in deeply, hold the breath, and let it out slowly. She continued this, calming herself into a single path of breath. It eased through her, a wind of her own making. It carried out a host of inner turmoil, a monsoon of sadness. She rested for a long time.

Until.

She came awake instantly. The Shopkeeper wasn’t sure if she had dreamed it, or…but, no, there it was, slight but there. A tap, tap, tapping…and it was near, so near.

Malcanisen bounded out of the back room. The Shopkeeper jumped out of her chair and ran through the threshold into the shoppe. Stopping suddenly by her counter, she looked around the entire area, looking under, behind, around; no one was there. Malcanisen sat down, eyes on her.  Tears that she thought she had been finished shedding started to well up once again as her heart shattered once again.

Until.

She glanced down. On the top of her counter was a knife. Long and sharp looking, it had a sheen that caught the light in the shoppe and sent spiraling of colors into the air, a prism of steel. She took hold of the hilt of the blade and brought it up, level with her heart, and held it there.

Looking in the far corner, it was again clouded in the deepest, darkest shadow.

And it was unfolding.

*****************************

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

Here we are: the end of this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge. During the month of April 2018, the challenge required that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. On Monday, May 7th,  there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers. If you travel back to the main page of the AtoZ Blog Challenge, you’ll find other blogs that participated. Many, I’m sure, will pique your interest, as many did mine.

On May 7th, all of the participants of the AtoZ Challenge are asked to post a reflection on the month’s process: afterthoughts, explanations, frustrations/elations, and whatever else may come to mind.

****After you read the Z post on Monday, April 30th, I will be asking YOU for questions, ponderings, or suggestions you might still have. I found a number of editorial mistakes when I copied and pasted the stories into a Word file (thank you, Grammarly) and already did some (minor) editing. So, if you’ve been with me all along, or just finding your way into The Abysmal Dollhouse, April 30th will be a good time to pose what’s on your mind. I will do my best to answer/address all on the reflection (mentioned above).

Any queries must be posted by Friday, March 4th.

As to what happens next with Tale Spinning &/or The Abysmal Dollhouse…time will tell.

Thanks for reading along.

Take Care: The Abysmal Dollhouse (Reblog Sunday)

Standard

** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

Wheelchair

Take Care

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The storm clouds had moved along with the wind, leaving behind a still, grey day. The heavy downpour had come down on a slant, washing the dusty windows of the shoppe. The glass glistened as the headlights of passing cars fractured off the puddles, the brief flashing of light creating a strobe effect on the items on display. Dollhouses littered the shelving: Victorian, Tudor, Colonial, Craftsman, and an Abbey. All stood at a slant, showing the open side, the rooms, staircases, floors. The placement also allowed the outside features to shine, the gables, balconies, bay windows, and wrap-around porches, adorned with miniature plants, rocking chairs, and welcome mats.

The bright reflective bursts caught the eye of Mark, who was passing by but at a slow steady pace. His head had been turned to the ground, hands in his pants pockets, shoulders taught. The light drew his eye to the display, and his feet followed. He studied each house, taking in the details, admiring the color scheme of some, others the aesthetic beauty of the architecture. Mark’s wandering eyes and feet led him to the door to the shop. It was a plain glass door, wooden frame, with nothing to announce the name of the place of business. He found his hand reaching for the door handle, but he really couldn’t figure out why.

Behind the glass, behind the dollhouses, The Shopkeeper had been watching Mark as he viewed her safe houses, appraising him, the way he observed, his slow steady examination of her wares. She checked the dark corners of the shoppe and let out a wistful sigh. Some of the houses hungered, and she wished them appeasement, yet this man was not for them. The Shopkeeper shushed them before Mark had completed turning the door handle and entered, the action causing the hanging doorbell to sound.

The Shopkeeper took in his appearance, which through the window gave him a yellow/sepia hue. Inside, things did not change all that drastically. While he took a few steps in, looking around, she observed his color choices were dull, and his clothing, while well kept, was far from being stylish. He looked lived in and comfortable in what he wore, but his body language suggested more.

“May I help you?”, she asked.

Mark looked up from the Carriage House he was staring at. “No, thank you. I…I’m just looking, I guess.” He paused, his shoulders frowning, turning his head to the left, away from the Shopkeeper. “I’m not even sure why I came in. Dollhouses,” he swept his arms, palms up, around the room, “are not really an interest of mine. My ex was into it, and my daughter. Mom, too.” Mark shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry. Not sure why I’m telling you any of this. Is it OK if I just look around?”

The Shopkeeper nodded, picking up her duster, for there was always dust in the shop. The flakes swirled in the sunbeams as they slanted through the windows. Today, they weren’t visible…until it settled down on top of the many surfaces. Mark brought in his own dust trail, and he was leaving it around the shop as he went from dollhouse to dollhouse. She followed him out of the corner of her eyes, marking where she had to concentrate on dusting, later.

She heard him stop walking. His shoes had been making a tap,tap, tapping as he walked; when he stood still to look, and he bent down, the shoes gave a little squeak, adjusting to the new stance. This time, it was a full stop. No noise from his shoes. No “hmmm” or “huh?” or just regular breathing. Stillness. The Shopkeeper turned and looked at Mark.

He was frozen in front of a traditional style dollhouse. Two floors, an attic with dormer, wide porch, shutters on the windows, wood detailing, the front door with two windows on either side and five windows on top, with the middle window directly above the door. The house in pristine white paint. Mark was staring hard. He gasped for air, realizing he had been holding his breath.

Turning the house around, he let out another slight gasp. “My house. This…is my house.” He stood up, looked around, found The Shopkeeper. “How? This is my house.”

The Shopkeeper walked over to stand by his side. He followed her as she bent down to look inside the house, adjusting it so they faced it squarely on. Mark began to point out some of the details to her. The layout was the same. The decor, the same: paneling in the dining room, the soft blue scalloped floral pattern wallpaper that ran from the front door to the kitchen, up the stairway to the halls on the second floor, the wood floors with its various rugs and runners. The tables, chairs, sofa: same as it ever was.

Mark forced himself to look at the bedrooms, the ones on the second floor, and the den that had been converted to one on the first floor. He reached into his room, stopping to look at The Shopkeeper, waiting for permission. She stood, did a light dusting sweep of the houses’ roof, and moved back to the front of the shop. Mark bent back down and touched the bed. It felt soft and inviting.

His eyes and hands traversed through each room, taking in the memories each invoked. The kid’s room, converted from the guest room after his divorce, was as they had left it after they both stopped coming, college then marriages, ending their obligations to be there, to be with him weekly. His parent’s bedroom, full of his mothers’ things, which she valued above anything else most of the time. The walk-in closet crammed with her clothing, shoes, pocketbooks, hats. Her cane leaning against the nightstand.

Mark kept his eye on the cane for a short while. He started to reach in but stopped, closing his eyes, his right hand locked just outside of the room. He breathed in deeply, letting the air escape slowly. Three times. Opening his eyes, he moved his arm.

Piece by piece, Mark removed items from her room, placing them down on the side of the dollhouse shelf. The dressers, the rocking chair, footstool, pictures hanging on the walls, the bed, night table, the cane. He emptied the closet of all the clothing, making neat piles on the shelf next to the furniture. He was looking at an empty room, save for the wallpaper she loved. Mark stripped that off carefully, leaving the white walls underneath without blemish as best he could.

The kid’s bedroom was next. It was easier to strip away everything in there, things that would never be used again. Removing everything on the second floor, leaving his room alone. Marks’ excavation, of digging down to the basis of the home, continued downstairs. He methodically removed the items and decor from the living room, foyers, kitchen.

The bedroom nee den stopped Mark dead in his tracks. His eyes got blurry, wet, forcing him to wipe his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. Leaning against the back wall was another cane, next to a walker, next to a wheelchair, next to an oxygen tank. The hospital bed was in the center of the room, which had been denuded, sterilized down to its bare bones.

Mark knelt on the floor, slightly rocking back and forth on his heels. “Sorry, Dad,” he whispered, as he cleansed the room as he had done with the others. When he finally took the hospital bed out of the room, he held it up, examined it, had trouble putting it down, but he eventually did.

While this last task was going on, he had faintly heard The Shopkeeper moving around him. Looking down once the room was emptied, he noticed that all of the familial life pieces had been removed. In their place was new furniture, the stuff one fills a house and makes it a home. Mark wasn’t too surprised to see that it all was in his tastes, design, and color.

He filled up the house quickly. Mark moved his things into his parents’ room, adding a few new things that he found left for him. The kid’s room was returned to guest room status, and he transformed his own room into a second. He moved to the first floor, laying down wall to wall carpeting, then bringing in the chairs, tables, sofa, big comfy chairs with big comfy pillows, large screen TV and fixings.

Mark took his time when it came to refurbishing the bottom bedroom back into a den. Executive office chair, desk, computer, stuffed full bookcases and shelving. It was comfortable, and he finally relaxed.

The doorbell rang. Mark got up from the padded chair, walking towards it in his socks only, not wanting to mar the new carpeting. As he got closer to the door, he noticed a familiar face peering in through the left side window at the door. Mark stopped short. He hadn’t seen her in years, lost touch with her, missed her all this time.

He reached out and opened the door.

“Donna.”

She smiled at him, bottom teeth still slightly crooked, head tilted to her right, eyes shining. She had on the red dress and white stockings with red hearts on them, the same as she wore that one Valentines Day.

“Are you going to invite me in?” she asked.

Mark did, watched her walk a few steps down the hall and into the living room.

“I really like what you did with the place,” she said, whirling around. “Feels like home.”

Mark smiled deeply and went to join her.

The Shopkeeper turned the dollhouse around, the front facade facing out towards the aisle. She gave them the privacy they both deserved.

*******************************************

Author’s note: I thought this would be a nice piece to put after yesterday’s Y post for the AtoZ Blog Challenge.

Monday, April 30th, brings the final post, Z, which will serve as an epilogue.

On May 7th, all of the participants of the AtoZ Challenge are asked to post a reflection on the month’s process: afterthoughts, explanations, frustrations/elations, and whatever else may come to mind.

****After you read the Z post on Monday, April 30th, I will be asking YOU for questions, ponderings, or suggestions you might still have. I found a number of editorial mistakes when I copied and pasted the stories into a Word file (thank you, Grammarly) and already did some (minor) editing. So, if you’ve been with me all along, or just finding your way into The Abysmal Dollhouse, April 30th will be a good time to pose what’s on your mind. I will do my best to answer/address all on the reflection (mentioned above). Any queries must be posted by Friday, March 2nd. 

As to what happens next with Tale Spinning &/or The Abysmal Dollhouse…time will tell.

Thanks for reading along.

The Candy Striper: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

Standard

** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

The Candy Striper

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The old man took his time entering the store. Stooped over his cane, his face drawn and blotchy. His cap was low on his head; it was easy to tell that the only hair on his head came from his ears.  His glasses were thick, even with the progress in the eyeglass industry. The Shopkeeper took this all in, waiting for him to cross over into the shoppe. The door chime tinkled a little longer than usual.

She smiled at him. “May I offer you any assistance?”

“If it’s OK with you, I’ll just look around. Yes?” he asked. She nodded. “Good. Thank you. This is a very…interesting shop you have.”

“Thank you. Please let me know if you need any information…or help,” she offered one more time, and one more time he refused.

The Shopkeeper went to stand behind the main glass-encased counter. She had to shush a few of the Dollhouse’s pleas of “Mine, mine, mine,” excusing their desperate cries as just noise from outside when she noticed the man’s raised eyebrows.  He turned to look out the window; what he could see was the same empty street he had been ambling along. He smiled, shrugged, and began to look around.

The Shopkeeper studied him. He was gaunt, with sunken eyes, hollow cheeks. She noticed that every few steps a grimace would mar his face. He was short of breath, and occasionally he wheezed.

He examined many of the Dollhouses, reading the legends neatly handwritten on their display placards. He made a few small grunts if he bent over too far on some, a harsh rasp escaping his lips.  The Shopkeeper noticed a sharp, horrid look on his face as he stood in front of the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée. She hurried over to his side, grabbing her broom along the way.

The Unfolding Doll was approaching him from behind, out of the corner shadow, knife in hand. The Shopkeeper spoke a few warding words under her breath, placed her hands in a pattern on the broom handle, and brought the broom down, separating the space between the doll and the old man.  The Unfolding Doll stopped in its tracks. It canted its head to the right, button eyes focused on the Shopkeeper.  It brought the knife up to waist level, but let it drop. Gliding backward, The Unfolding Doll oragamied itself into the shadow in the corner. All this happened in the few seconds it took for the man to get his composure back.

“I would like to show you a special Dollhouse. I think this is one that would be of interest to you,” she offered to the man. This time, he allowed her help.  He followed her to the opposite wall, nearer to the front windows. She stopped him in front of a double-floored straight line designed dollhouse.  The man stared, took a step back like he wanted to retreat out the door, but The Shopkeeper went over and opened the front of the Orange County Hospice.

He stared; just…stood there and stared. The beds lined the long ward, separated with colored drapery.  Some of the beds were occupied, chairs as well. At the end was a large picture window, sectioned off by a frosted glass wall. It was exactly like the one he had just left, unsettling him so that escaping from there seemed preferable.  His aimless walking led him here.  It was sterile clean, bright and open. He hadn’t been ready-not yet-to surrender when he had left the hospice with such heaviness. This…this was different.

He noticed a young girl walking towards him, a closed book in her hands.

“May I sit with you, Charles?” she asked. “I looked for you at your bed, but John in the next bed told me you were out here in the sunroom.” She looked out the window as she sat. “Such a beautiful day, isn’t it?”

Charles nodded at the Candy Striper. She was wearing her candy cane red and white striped pinafore, a natural smile on her face that continued into her eyes. He looked at the book she was holding.

Her smile broadened. “Yes, I have your favorite. I borrowed it from my brother. “She began to read; Charles found himself relaxing and settled back into the chair.

They traveled together over the clouds, hand in hand, flying with Michael, John, Peter, and Wendy…Wendy Lady. The adventure took him to Never Never Land, fighting pirates, living in a hollow tree, saving Tinkerbell’s life. He relished the reading, the escape into a world he loved, and in this… he forgot how much pain he had been in before.

Charles had nodded off at some point. A deep snore woke him up. The candy striper was still there, but the book was closed, bookmarked for a future read. Her smile was addictive, a similar one he felt beginning on his face. On the small glass-topped table in front of him was a tray of delight: baked goods, and all ones that Charles loved.  Chocolate Eclairs, Napoleons,  and a large mound of chocolate covered Rainbow Cookies that he and his father had loved. “Take what you’d like, Charles,” she said. He sampled and ate, and was more than sated. It had been a long time.

When he patted his stomach and sat back in the chair, Anne, the Candy Striper, tilted her head back to the ward. “Mr. Roman says he could beat you in a wheelchair race. Are you up for the challenge?” she asked, the excitement in her voice was evident.

“You bet. I am ready for any challenge!” he exclaimed. Anne helped Charles to his wheelchair, Mr. Roman already waiting.  They nodded at each other, wrapped their hands around the tops of the wheels.

“Ready! Set!…” called Anne.

The Shopkeeper approached the dollhouse and closed the front. She smiled as she heard laughter and friendly shouting noises from within. “Good,” she said out loud, moving back to her counter and picking up her duster. She was speaking to the shadowed far corner. “Good. This one will never be yours.”

The Unfolding Doll was surrounded by shadow. The knife in its hand glinted of its own accord. It could wait, as its wielder could wait as well. Both thirsted for the Shopkeeper but knew this was not the day. The Unfolding Doll crept from the far shadow into The Serpent House, the dollhouse closest to its corner, to play.

*****************************

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

This story is an edited version of one that appeared here on October 22, 2011. If you want to read & compare the two, click on this link: Candy Stripe Ward: A Tale of the Abysmal Dollhouse. 

I rewrote this more to fit my current voice with The Abysmal Dollhouse. Not a major reworking, but one I am happier with. Hope you like it.

Real Neat Blog Award: Peachy Keeno

Standard

real_neat_blogger_award

So, second time in two weeks, I have a blogging award. Never heard of this one before, but it was created by Dear Kitty: Some Blog in 2014.

I was nominated by someone new (to me) who I discovered, again, through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. The blogger behind A Creative PTSD Gal is busy busy busy. She writes from the heart, and it has been a pleasure to discover her. Two blogs, a whole big family, life…and she does it. Not everyone can. Since she writes a bit more personal items, I don’t think it’s in my wheelhouse to go deeper into her reasons. Check out the above link and I think you’ll be pleased you did. Thank you for the nomination. I hope I can remain neato keeno.

Here come the rules:

The Rules:

  1. Display the award logo: DONE
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog: DONE
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you: See Below
  4. Nominate 5-10 bloggers: See Below Below
  5. Ask them 7 questions: See Below Below Below

PTSD Gal’s Questions for MOI:

  1. What is the most difficult part of your artistic practice? I try not to write during the day because of interruptions (phone calls, mail, meals, life). I usually like starting about 11:00 pm EST.
  2. What has been the most difficult thing to date that you have written about? My one man play based on my father. He was a survivor of Auschwitz.
  3. Do you limit yourself to edits? Not sure how to answer this one. I hate editing, but I know it has to be done. I’ve gotten better as I’ve aged, like a fine cheese.
  4. Snack or no snack when writing? Beverages always; snacks only when my taste buds cry.
  5. What or who encourages you to keep posting to your blog? Right now, I push myself. It keeps me from negative things.
  6. What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A scientist &/or a comic book writer.
  7. Do you have a writing buddy? (Dog, cat, fish, snake etc…) Nope. I’ve got dust. Does dust count?

Bloggers I nominate are:

Seven Real Neat Questions:

  1. What car would you own if money is no question?
  2. What author would you like to sit down with and pick their brains?
  3. What is your favorite story about Winter?
  4. If you had to “Kill Your Baby” (talk to Stephan King) in a book/story you’ve written, who are you most sorry you had to do in? If you haven’t, who should get the axe?
  5. What book have you read more than once?
  6. One of these is real: Magic (Paranormal) or UFO’s. Which one, and why?
  7. What is YOUR favoriteist blog posting from your blog(s)? Please copy and paste your link here

What We Hold Onto: The Abysmal Dollhouse (reblog Jan 2, 2012)

Standard

What We Hold Onto

The Abysmal Dollhouse

January 2, 2012

The late December air outside The Abysmal Dollhouse smelled like snow; it was either a pleasant promise or a horrible threat, depending on how you felt about this turn of the weather. The Shopkeeper had been busy decorating, dusting, and defending herself inside the shop. Most of the time was spent puttering around, but there was just as many times when she had to… sidestep mishaps.

She had already frosted the windows, hung garlands of greens, reds, and silver. The blue and white lights twinkled on and off, in various patterns and in complicated loops throughout the store. Many of the dollhouses were opened wide, reveling in the joyous patterns that were presented for all of them. Many, but not all. Those… Those are not ones that even the season allowed them to join in.

The front door opened with a tinkling of bells, and a heavily bundled older woman entered, closing the door behind her, checking to make sure it was firmly closed. The shop was warm and cozy, allowing her to undo her knit scarf, unzip her parka, and take off her gloves. She left her hat on, just in case.

Looking around the store, she smiled broadly. It was transformative, that smile, and The Shopkeeper could not help but smile broadly too. It was infectious.

“Can I help you, Mrs…”

“Miss. Miss Singleton.”

“Oh, but you…”

“Miss…Singleton,” she said, losing part of her smile, as she glared at The Shopkeeper.

“Of course,” acquiesced The Shopkeeper. “Welcome to my shop. How may I help you?”

“I’m not sure. I was just on my way home, and I noticed the dollhouse in the window, and the lights, and…oh, you did a marvelous job decorating. I assume it was you. Was it?”

The Shopkeeper nodded. Her smile returned, enjoying the compliment.

“Wonderful. All these dollhouses…so many different styles. I was never interested in such things when I was a child, or even as I grew older. Do you mind if…”

The Shopkeeper lifted her hand, palm up, an invitation. “Of course not. Stroll around, and if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them for you.”

Miss Singleton put her gloves in the pockets of her parka, and in an unconscious way tugged her sweater down. She ran her fingers through her fine white hair as she took her time studying the miniature displays. She said “Thank you” as an afterthought, transfixed as she was by not only the delicate craftsmanship but the stories the placards told.

The variety of the houses captivated her. Some, Ms. Singleton sensed, were not “right”, so those she avoided in as wide an arc as she could in the cramped store. She noticed some houses behind glass, against the back wall, and these radiated more ill ease. She shook her head, laughing a bit at herself. “They’re just dollhouses, silly old woman,” Ms. Singleton said to herself in a whisper.

The Shopkeeper walked around and shut a few of the dollhouse exteriors. Ms. Singleton thought she heard voices from those being closed…all sounding like “No!” or “Mine!

“I’m sorry to distract you,” said The Shopkeeper. “I should oil the hinges of these. They make such awful little noises.” Walking over to the back wall, she drew a heavy looking black curtain across the displays.

Miss Singleton’s attention wandered back to the open dollhouse in front of her, offhandedly remarking that it was all right, she understood. She was bending over an antebellum-style Southern mansion: the Nottoway Plantation, the placard mentioned. “At any given time, 200-300 slaves worked the fields. Many died and were buried outside the plantation grounds. During the Civil War, Mr. Nottoway took 200 slaves to Texas. None made it back.”

With each dollhouse, Miss Singleton noticed all the details, the furnishings that looked just right. The craftsmanship was uncanny, and she deeply appreciated the work that went into what she saw.

She was most enamored of le Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée, with its Wall of Death. Miniature skulls of differing shapes and sizes, and a magnifying screen so she could read the mini signs, each describing how the death occurred. She covered her mouth when she began to laugh out loud at “Death by Stupidity,” and ended up chuckling to herself, wondering about all the stupid things she saw in her long life that could have caused someone to die from it.

The Death by Stupidity skull’s jaw began to move…

“Shhh!” The Shopkeeper tapped the dollhouse, surprising Miss Singleton. “I’m sorry to intrude, and I did not mean to startle you. I think there is a dollhouse you should see. Follow me, please?”

Miss Singleton let herself be led away. She looked back, once, and thought she saw tiny movements from the Wall of Death and thought she heard tiny sing-song voices coming from the dollhouse. She shook her head and looked away, back to where The Shopkeeper was taking her.

“Here, Miss Singleton. I think you might appreciate this dollhouse.”

The Shopkeeper gestured, and Miss Singleton stood stock still.

“That looks like the house I grew up in,” she said. “How…oh, look.” Examining the exterior, she was filled with memories of climbing out of windows, running in and out of the doors, anything to play wild outside. She turned the dollhouse around, inspecting all the sides.

She stood up and made eye contact with The Shopkeeper.

In a whisper: “This IS my house!”

The Shopkeeper bent over the house, touched a part of the roof, and the house opened up.

Every room was identical to what Miss Singleton remembered. Details in miniature were exact, from wall coverings and paint colors to the furnishings. She explored every room, one at a time, picking up items from each location, and then carefully putting them back.

“My room…” and it felt, to Miss Singleton, like it had been forever since she had been so happy, so free, as her eyes wandered around “her room.” Bed, books, desk…all there; and, lying next to the bed…

He rose up on his hind legs and barked at her, waiting for her to get off the bed. She dove off the mattress, giving the large German Shepherd a huge hug, driving her hands into his fur. He huffed and tried to wiggle out of her embrace, but the dog was no match-this time-for the strength of a girl who loved her dog.

Wiping away tears, she got up, looked out the window, and noticed what a beautiful day it was outside. Dressed all ready for it in tee-shirt, shorts, and sneakers, she opened the door.

“Come on…let’s get out of here!”

The dog bounded after her, as she ran past her sister’s room (knocking on it really hard), flew down the stairs and bolted out of the front door. Her laughter was mixed with her companion’s barking the whole way.

Catching up with her, he ran circles then between her running legs. Down she tumbled, her smile broader and her laughter deeper, and they wrestled together on the lawn, and she didn’t care if she got grass stains on anything. She was happy, and she was with her dog. The dog.

The thing she loved most of all.

The Shopkeeper had been watching all of the joy and merriment happen to her. She heard the squeals of giggles and barks…straitening up, she knew she was not alone.

Turning to her right, The Unfolding Doll was motionless, fixated on Miss Singleton’s escapades. The Shopkeeper noticed there was no knife present, and she relaxed a bit. She had never seen this behavior before from the doll, and never had felt this sense of…calm, either.

They stayed like that for a short while. The Shopkeeper’s attention was brought back to the dollhouse with a slamming of the front door, and she noticed the young Miss Singleton now seated in the dining room, her companion lying at her feet, and she doing her best to put her feet on him. He grumbled and moved; she did as well.

More than satisfied, she closed the dollhouse, snapping it shut. The Shopkeeper had kept The Unfolding Doll in her line of sight. The doll’s head turned slightly, its glass eyes locked onto The Shopkeeper’s, who was expecting the worst. They stood that way for close to a minute, neither moving.

“I…,” began The Shopkeeper, but the moment she spoke The Unfolding Doll faded back into the dark parts of the store. The Shopkeeper was alone. She patted Miss Singleton’s house, and before she walked away, she heard the sound of feet running up stairs-both human and canine-doors being knocked on and then slammed…and always laughter mixed with barks.

Going to the front of the store, The Shopkeeper looked out the front window. It was snowing; that deep heavy looking all white snow that covered all outside. She smiled, enjoying the silent pleasure before her, and the pleasure that she had experienced, and shared. It brought back her own memories before she took over the duties of overseeing the shop. Good memories, mainly, and know that she found comfort in her life, then and now.

“Well, that was a start,” she said, turning away from the window, speaking to the back shadows of The Abysmal Dollhouse. “If you can hear me, you can have pleasure too. It does not always have to end in violence. You can have what she has.”

No answer. She had not expected one.

But, as she said, it was a start.

*****************************

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Author’s Note: Wow. Six years ago. My life, and head & heart were in a very different space then it is now. I have not edited this piece, even though I see, now, that it def does need it, especially if I want it to fit into what I am currently putting out. I just hope you enjoy it. Still means a lot to me.

Gluten for Punishment: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

Standard

** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

(CR) Barbara Heimoff Lardizabal

Gluten for Punishment

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Nothing looked familiar, but that seemed to be the way things went nowadays. Arthur felt he was in the right place, was sure of it, but then, again, in the next moment, he was just confused. Arthur paused before the facade of a place with no sign, old but not decrepit, a large window display whose interior was obscured by the glare of the sunlit reflecting off of it. He wasn’t sure anymore of what he was hoping to find. “No way to know if I just stand here,” he thought.

The doorbell tinkled as he entered, and again when he closed the door. Looking around, his shoulders slumped and he let out a soft sigh. Arthur took in his surroundings, finally turning to the woman who was watching him, waiting. No one else was in view, even though he thought he heard some muffled words in the distance. She looked the part of a store employee: fastidious white shirt, black skirt, and a gray apron. Prim, came to his mind.

“Do you work here?”

The Shopkeeper smiled and nodded. “Can I be of any assistance?”

Arthur, eyes wandering, let his feet follow. Dollhouses. Row upon row of dollhouses, all different styles, all, he noticed immediately, with such details.

“Um, yes. Yes. I was looking for a place that I could have sworn was in this location. Could have sworn. But,” his eyes raised to meet hers, “nothing seems to be where it should be, anymore.” He paused, looking at the walls and displays around the shoppe. “No, nothing is the same.”

The Shopkeeper joined him by his side. “Tell me about what you are searching for. Maybe I can be of help.”

“Um, well, yes, maybe.” They continued walking, stopping, he contemplating the dollhouse in front of him, she contemplating him. “Maybe.”

Replicas of houses began to have mixed in other structures: theaters and museums; hospitals and castles; motels and stores; places of pleasure, of memories, and some…some that just did not feel right to Arthur. Those, he passed by quickly.

He thought he heard brushes of conversation, laughter, animal barks, crying, screams, but looking around, no one else was there with them. “It is all right, Arthur. Everything is all right.”

Standing up straight, Arthur faced the woman. He did not remember telling her his name and was about to say so. But, something startled him, to her right and just over in the next aisle. He left her side, walking to what caught his eye. Joints cracking as he bent to look, Arther’s face became radiant. The Shopkeeper smiled and returned to her counter.

The bakery. His memories swirled of all the tastes of the freshly baked goodness. The smell gladly assaulting his nostrils, breathing in the aroma, closing his eyes to add to his sense of smell, taste.

The service counter was just as he remembered it. Cookies of all types, pastries, cakes, pies. Special delights, like his favorite, a Charlotte Russe, paper sleeved cake filled to the brim with fresh made whipped cream and topped with a Maraschino cherry, with the stem.His dad’s favorite Rum Balls. His mom’s favorite anything sweet. Danish and crumb cakes, strudels, Strawberry Short Cake, and Black & White Cookies.

Arthur was drooling.

“Hello, Arthur,” Mrs. Glibert called to him, behind her place at the counter. “Rye bread is fresh, as your mother likes it. Here.” She handed him a slice of the loaf. The texture was perfect, soft and flavorful, with the crust having that golden baked perfected crunch.

“But, but, um, it’s gluten. I break out in a rash. My stomach tumbles. My…”

“Hush, here. Try it,” she insisted gently.

Arther tentatively took a bite. It was heaven in his mouth. Then another-to hell with getting sick from this. He finished the slice, licking his lips, searching for any stray crumbs. He wanted more.

Mrs. Gilbert handed over a large Black & White; the cake-like cookie still warm and soft, the chocolate and vanilla icing gooey. Arther took it over to one of the small tables with their wire-backed chairs and set about to polish off this treat that he hadn’t had in way too long.

The door opened. “Hey Artie,” the guys called to him as they came in. Ricky, Eugene, and Steve ran to the counter, errand running for their moms but also looking for their favorites.

“Boys, boys, one at a time,” Mrs. Gilbert smiled as she fussed over them.

They brought more of the smell of the bakery swirling around them as they joined Arther at the table. He was almost finished with his B&W and thinking about another. Neighborhood kids in a neighborhood place that had the feel of home. Arther was happy to be here.

The Shopkeeper looked around her empty shoppe,  taking in the memory of freshly baked goodies. She walked to the shoppe door, locked it, turned the sign to read “Closed for Lunch,” and went to her back room for a chocolate chip scone and tea.

*****************************

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays, since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

The G & R Bakery in the photo above once existed in the Bronx, NY. The photo was taken by Barbara Heimoff Lardizabal; you can find more of her work at Bronx Pictures 92.

Now I want a real Black & White!