Tag Archives: short story

Yield (SIGNS: #AtoZChallenge)

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YieldWhat they had on their table was the bounty from their small garden. It was just enough for the two of them.

Helen took a red tomato, biting into it. She closed her eyes and smiled as she chewed, letting out a small “mmmmm”, throaty, deep.

Jim watched her, noticing red juice drip out of the corner of her mouth; Helen’s tongue reaching out to lap it up as it started to wander down. He reached for her hand, pulled it close, and took a healthy bite of the fruit as well.

They shared the tomato to the last bite.

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For the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge, you will find a story a day (except Sundays) from me. A to Z: Staring with A on Tuesday, April 1st and ending with Z on Wednesday, April 30th.

Signs is my theme for this year’s outing. Road signs, building signs, warning signs…Signs alert us to a multitude of messages. My plan is to use the alphabet through Signage, but not to stick to what the sign was originally intended to convey. So, the genre of story writing, and styles, of the posts will vary as my mood and interpretation sees fit. Possibly a poem or two. We’ll see.

I’m also trying something more of a challenge: each post will be a Drabble. A Drabble is 100 Words Exactly.

Hope you enjoy the stories.

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Came The Wind

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leavesThe golden, brittle leaf brushed over the top of her shoe, resting  in mid air for a moment. Another gust blew, picking up the leaf and spiraling it away, under a sky filled with darkened clouds. Alice shivered in her coat, the hem overlapping her knee high skirt. She bunched the top together, clutching it closed, having already pulled up the collar. She stared down at the marble and stone work that lay around her, the past staring back up at her. More leaves blew past her and the others, milling around for a moment, then taking off to skitter across the grounds.

The side comments seemed endless to Alice. A few suffered in silence, getting hugged, heads leaning against shoulders for support, comfort. Alice drifted from one group to another, paying attention to the tone of the voices more than the actual words. The elder set, the few who could barely walk, stayed by the cars. They huddled near the aunt who always needed to be the center of attention, her husky voice talking about anything but what lay before them. A few tears, clutched tissues, and a dreary day filled them all.

The service done, the discussions turned to who was following whom, where they were going, who had to leave. Hugs and kisses were passed around, and the car doors opened, and then closed. One by one, the cars pulled away.

Alice looked on. As the last car left, a vortex of leaves swirled together in the spot left vacant, a mini tornado of golds and oranges and browns. Alice turned to watch the receding tail lights pass through the gates.

The leaves dropped to the ground.

Chromatic Labyrinth

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Piano-Wallpaper-music-24173621-1280-800Carlo, Prince and Count, imagined his wife in bed with another man. Not just any man, but his friend, the Duke of Andria.  Carlo noticed the Duke’s eyes always found the figure of Donna Maria more than pleasing. He noticed this look too often from the Duke, and he felt that the looks were too often returned . While Donna Maria protested her innocence, Carlo knew, in his heart, that she had already betrayed him…and would continue, this most vile of betrayals.

Unless…

These thoughts assailed Carlo as he pushed himself to compose. Music was his life-he knew that-but it, too, betrayed him.  His madrigals were politely received in court but ultimately…they were misunderstood by most and dismissed, mostly behind his back, but oh, how gossip reaches even the most closed off of ears!

He locked himself in his music room, the only living space he would occupy until he had finished this composition. Receiving food intermittently from his servant,  barely touching any of it, Carlo would not lie down to sleep, only dozing at his piano.  Nothing came out of his demand on the keys, tinkering, chords splitting into discordance instead of magnificence. Four days, and his mind wandered away from the task he set for himself.

Exhausted and light headed, it was on the latter part of the fourth day (although that was later told to him, as time had lost all meaning to him inside his cell) that the visions came. Donna Maria, nude, appeared to him. He stared across the room where she stood, and all his feelings for her rose to a grand level: lust, hatred, love, agony, pain, ecstasy…and rage. Word-paintings came to him. She sprawled, ever  so close, just beyond his reach. He used the keys of his instrument as knives, slashing down, sliding, pounding down until his fingers nails cracked and broke, leaving droplets of red on the ivory.

During all this, Donna Maria cavorted around the piano. She laughed in his face, touching herself, gliding across the room, behind him, leaping over or crawling under his piano. She would reach out to him, then pull away, her long black hair fanning out over the keyboard where he would try to grab a hold, only to have it whisked away. She twirled, and he played, and lost himself in his fury.

Every path he took drew him in deeper. He would sidle into a melody that would change, taking him in a new direction: most of them ending in a frustrating blockage, where he would only be able to retrace what he did, and go another way. And another. And another. Lost, in a place where meter and structure had no more sense, no meaning, and left him more desperate with each stroke of the keys.

Carlo was later told he unbarred the lock on his room and flung himself into the main foyer. Glassy eyed, he stalked past his ever waiting servant. Down the hall he  went, banging open the door to the armory, coming out with a saber in one hand and a gun in the other. The servant tried to talk to his master but was gutted, as witnessed by one of the maids who had come out to the main hall at the noise being made.

Cowering behind one of the marble columns, the maid heard her master rush up the stairs, a door bang open, and then another series of bangs as the gun went off, and screams from her mistress. She recounted that she heard sharp swishing noises, too many to count, her mistress’s cries loud and piercing, then fading, and then nothing.

Someone had summoned the constables, and the Sargent Major, known to all as a stable and strong man, could not report what he witnessed without feeling ill for quite awhile. Yes, he had seen battlefields, but the frenzy of the Count was like unto a butcher’s den. The Countess Donna Maria, and the Duke of Andria…

Carlo, Prince and Count, would stand trial for what he had done, but, in the end, he was freed. Money and ranking took care of that. He exiled himself from the city, trying to leave blood feuds and vendettas behind him. He withdrew more into his music, more into himself, and while he was lost in a complex labyrinth of creative madness, he composed.

And Donna Maria…she twirled around him for a very, very long time.

Papers of Pain

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Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.

Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.

“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never.  Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?

Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.

And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.

Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag.  He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds,  and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.

The Flavor of your Reply

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Her kiss left traces of apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and sugars, both dark brown and white. That is what Avrum remembered most of their first kiss. He relished that nights’ memories, but it was the flavor that was transferred to his lips, his breath, that still penetrated deepest, remained clearest, that still brought a smile to him, both inside and out.

It was a short walk outside of her parent’s house, where they could still be viewed for propriety but still…private enough. He had been working up the courage all day to ask her to marry him, and it almost faltered when her father went off on one of his tirades, but looking in Sarah’s eyes reestablished his resolve.

The ground was crunchy with fallen golden and brown leaves. Sarah grasped the top of her coat, tugging on the scarf wound around her neck, when a northern wind whipped across the yard. He took her hand and rubbed it back and forth. She smiled and thanked him, glancing back quickly at the house to see if either of her parents were watching them. No one at the window, Sarah clasped his hands in hers tightly.

Avrum was on his knee proposing before he knew it. Tears welled up in Sarah’s eyes, a large smile and a nod, and she said “yes” without having to think. They kissed, then, in the yard, with the window drapes pulled back and eyes watching. All the mixtures of pleasure and happiness, of the meal they had just finished still on their lips, the future they would share…it was all there in that moment. Her reply was all he had hoped for, and he would relish it for as long as he lived.

Hand in hand, they walked back to her parents house, the front door already opening to welcome them in.

 

Nyctophilia: #defythedark contest

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Well, I’ve been away for over a month. During that time, I’ve started writing a number of things, but all of it was working towards story ideas I’ve had rolling around for a bit. All of them are in different stages…and almost every piece is for a future novel, or novella. Hence, not for Tale Spinning.

My SO brought a Figment contest to my attention that actually intrigued the two of us: the Defy the Dark New Author Contest. I had given up on submitting anything to Figment because of the usual  “heart (like) my story & I’ll like yours” mentality, which rarely ever translated into the merit of the story. Yes, I did that last year with Birdsongs: The Virtuous War. I learned my lesson and stayed clear of that type of “whoring” for votes.

What’s different about Defy the Dark New Author Contest? The likes/hearts don’t mean a thing: there is an actual YA editor (Ms. Saundra Mitchell)  who will read and judge the work on its merits. This is for eventual publication in an anthology by HarperCollins. Combined, the two things got me writing a just under 4,000 word short story entitled Nyctophilia.

FYI: Nyctophilia, as defined by Dictionary.com, is: a love or preference for night, darkness.

My description/”blurb”:

On the coast of the British Isles lies beautiful Bournemouth. At the turn of the 20th Century, it is a quiet, peaceful destination. A retired London Chief Inspector makes his home there with his wife, their house cared for by a local towns girl, Miranda. By day, most agree that the views of Bournemouth are spectacular. By night, the Spectacular views Bournemouth in an unsavory way…an old “friend” of the inspector comes to visit, and he  very much prefers all that the night has to offer.

Please CLICK HERE to take you to my newest story, Nyctophilia. If you with to leave comments, you can do so either at Figment or here on Tale Spinning.

Lisa Vooght entered the same contest with an extremely compelling tale called Rain’s Gonna Come.  Very powerful, a story you will be glad you read.

Thanks one and all for sticking with Tale Spinning. I hope I’m not gone another month before posting something new.

Connect The Dots

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Her little index finger went from point to point, moving along the surface as she went. Eyes wide, laying still, her tongue slightly pushed out as she worked at the image.

“A butterfly!” Amy said, retracing the pattern she saw.

“Um huh,” her mother murmured, smiling as she stroked her daughter’s hair.

Amy continued to explore, finding another pattern, and then another. Shifting positions only when asked to, Amy found images as she went along.

“A star!”

“Pony!”

“Fish.”

“A dragon!”

“Dragon?” her mother asked?

“Yup. Dragon. Big, scary dragon. Roooooaaaaarrrrrrrr!”

Katie laughed as she hugged her Amy. She got a hug back.

Amy went on tracing  what she saw in the dots, naming them at will, giggling at the made up things. The late afternoon sun streamed through the bedroom window, lighting and warming up the bed they were laying on. Amy drifted off to nap time, finger still on one lone spot.

Katie held her daughter, feeling Amy’s breathing change. She was nappish herself, closing her eyes as they nestled together.

Just before she, too, drifted away, Katie smiled, thinking: “Why did I ever hate my freckles?

 

…I Blamed It On The Dog… (#100WordChallenge)

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I set fire to the house, watching it burn a safe distance away. Flames lept up into the night, licking up the side paneling that I no longer had to worry about painting. The gutters melted, the tarred shingles smoked; it all came tumbling down, bit by bit, ashes to ashes. The chimney was the last thing to fall, having never been set right in the first place.

Neighbors surrounded me, many of them holding onto their spouse or children. They looked at me, wondering where Margaret was. She screamed then. They knew.

Later, police handcuffed me. Asked me “Why?”

I blamed it on the dog.

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100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week #48

The Rules from Julia’s Place:

This is a weekly challenge for those who are over 16 and enjoy challenging themselves with writing. Each week you are given a prompt. It may be a few connected words, a selection of individual words or a picture.

You have 100 words (or the number that have been set for that week) plus the prompt to write a creative piece. If you have a blog, post it on your blog then link the URL of the post (not the blog) to the link that is at the bottom of that week’s challenge.  You can right click the badge above and copy the image URL into your post.

This weeks challenge:

… I blamed it on the dog…

Your pieces should be 106 words long (the prompt plus 100). Please make sure you visit to comment on others and do leave a link back here for others to find us.

Overlooking The Past By The Sea

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Read Right! What you know! for what this story alludes to…or not.

Emma stood in the doorway of the kitchen, wringing her hands in silence. Frederick had been in such a state that she had not witnessed in years, ever since that note was found slipped under their front door. She was the one who found it, and as she held the sealed envelope addressed to Inspector Abberline it took all of her resolve to just tear it to bits and toss it into the kitchen fires.  Emma was dreadfully sorry she had not done so.

Her husband stood by the bay window, right hand raised, holding himself upright and away from the glass planes. His left hand was behind him, and in it he clutched the letter he would not let her read. His mood was betrayed by his stance: taut, tense, and far, far away in thought. Emma had seen Frederick like this all too often, in London, in the days of the Ripper. Try as she would, he wound up sharing nothing with her, placating her with gentle brush offs that “…nothing was wrong, nothing to worry about…what’s that delicious smell, dear?”

The papers told her all that her husband as Inspector did not relate. It was all a gruesome, horrible business, and Emma had thought they were both done with it after leaving Scotland Yard,  London,  and the Pinkertons behind.

“Frederick, dinner is getting cold. Please, dear,” she entreated, only to be met with silence.

She approached him, sitting on the window seat, trying to take his left hand in hers. Shifting slightly but not looking at her, Frederick tucked the letter into his jacket pocket and placed his hand in hers. Even with the fireplace roaring his hand was cold to her touch. She placed it on her cheek to it and rubbed it to warm him, as best she could.

Evening was upon them and Frederick finally settled down. His sleep, when it came, was marred by tics and pulling the sheets out and winding them about him. Emma was awake through all this. “This was how he was like during the worst of it,” she thought, “and I can’t let him go through this again.”

She crept out of bed, found his jacket, and took the letter out of the pocket. Walking into the front room, the embers in the fireplace were playing off the last of their heat. They were also still hot enough to reduce the letter to cinders. She knew he would be upset, and a week would be full of awful silent recriminations, but she also knew it would pass.

Emma stopped at the bay window. By moonlight and reflected fog she saw a figure, shadowed, standing up the slope, by the copse of trees that separated their land from the neighbors. She saw nothing but the shadow, but she knew it was a he, and she knew he was staring at the house, at her.  A cane was in his left hand, and a gentleman’s top hat sat upon the figure.

Emma held her breath to the point of hard labor. Sweat drenched her where she stood, and stand fast she did for she was unable to move. They remained that still, together, until the tip hat was doffed in her direction followed by a slight bow.

Hat back in place, the cane slashed from left to right. Noticing only those movements, Emma did not see the figure fade into the night.

Frederick found her lying on the floor by the window in the morning. She was so chilled that he called for the doctor; he remained at her side, ministrating to her needs for the rest of that day. No mention was made of the missing letter, nor did he press for what disturbed her so.

That evening, at the Black Dog Inn, a stranger bought the locals a round. They cheered, swarmed around the bartender, and forgot all about him as they drank to his health. A working girl was appraising him as she drank her pint of bitters, her eyes smiling in his direction.

“Cheers,” he said to her, and then he tilted back his Black and Tan and drank heartily.

Leda and the Swan: National Flash Fiction Day

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Man Ray: Leda and the Swan

A swan walks into a bar…

No, not really.

A God walks into a bar…actually, the once King of the Gods…well, Greek Gods…and not King for a pretty long time…

…and it’s not really a bar, per se, but the bar in a disco, The Metamorphoses.

He’s not really Zeus anymore, either,  having given up that name for quite a while.  Too many just don’t believe in him and his anymore.

Zeus took flight and has  lived a long time as Mr. Swan.

So…A Swan does walks into a bar…

Mr. Swan saunters to the Metamorphoses bar and his burps dissolve into the loud music; his gastrointestinal expulsion is showing  his appreciation of a fine meal. He had just come  from the Olympus Diner, where he had:  an appetizer of Spanokopita; a generous helping of Lamb Souvlaki with rice; and he followed all that by two large slices of Baklava, dripping with extra honey (the waitress was enthralled, naturally, without knowing why). His stomach was happy, well sated. But…the diner had no liquor license (he’ll fix that in the morning). Swan wanted to get drunk…and he was looking for a little bit more pleasure.

The dancers were staying alive on the multicolored lit floor, the pulsating music swarming around the enclosed room. He scooped up a double Ouzo the bartender (a lithe blonde he intended to revisit) had set down, snorted a line of coke that was offered to him, and settled in. Swan scoped the place out, dazzled by the gyrating young flesh moving to a beat that stirred him in a number of ways. Sipping his drink, a smile playing around the rim of the glass, Swan found what he was looking for.

His eyes locked on a tableau: she was tall, curvy, long legged and teased out brunette hair. She had stylish (“for this age”, he thought) earrings, was not chewing gum, and best of all…she was alone. Downing his Ouzo and taking the replacement glass that was immediately in front of him, Swan boogied on down the steps of the bar/lounge area, across the dance floor, and up to his prey’s high top.

Chatting her up wasn’t all that hard, music blaring or not. Her name was Leda, she was a Broadway wannabe, and just had a fight with her boyfriend, Ty. She came with her girlfriends to let off some steam, and why was she telling him this and more, but Leda could not stop, nor could she refuse the copious amounts of Ouzo that Swan ordered for her. They talked, she laughed, he flirted, and they took it all to the dance floor.

If you ask anyone who was there at the Metamorphoses that night, no two stories would be the same, except for one thing: that night was magic. Everyone spilled out onto the dance floor, hours upon hours of drinking and drugging and sweating and laughing, taking things to an extreme that had never been experienced before.

And sex. There was a lot of sex that night.

Leda found herself with Swan in a ladies room stall. She wasn’t the only one that evening, but she was his main event.

Mr. Swan walked out in the early hours of the next morning bedraggled but beaming. He kept the music alive in his head and an arm around the blonde bartender, heading back to the Olympus Diner for some eggs, disco fries, ambrosia,  and the still enthralled waitress (her shift was over when she paid for his bill). The three of them had a fun morning.

Leda found Ty sitting in front of her apartment door. He as ten times ten apologetic, taking all the blame and asking her not only to take him back, but to marry him. He was an idiot, he admitted, and…and…and…

Leda said yes later that afternoon, after the two of them got out of bed and got dressed. They went for lunch at the diner (missing Zeus..um…Swan drop off the waitress by minutes) then got in his car and eloped,  driving to New England.

Nine months later, they had twin girls: Poly and Helen. Leda never questioned, Ty never knew, and the both of them loved to love their babies.

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From the UK comes the first ever Flash Fiction Day (National should become International, but that’s for another time).

What is Flash Fiction? Well, you can read about it HERE or HERE or even HERE.

My working definition: It’s a very short piece of work, not normally considered a short story (which usually has word counts under 7,500 words). Flash is basically considered anything from a few words to one thousand (give or take). It cuts out meandering sentences, extra words, and run on sentences, as you, as the writer, are forced to focus on being as concise as you possibly can. Unlike this explanation. 🙂

Most of what I write here on Tale Spinning has been Flash Fiction (without my announcing or championing it). I really discovered what FF is thanks to Lisa Vooght, author of the aptly named blog, Flash Fiction. She’s also the one who let me on that there was a National Flash Fiction Day. There are many others out there, and it’s been a pleasure finding them, bit by bit. Might be a blog post just on other FF blogs to find, but again…that is for another time.

You have 16 more days to read my Swan Rise series before it comes down on June 1st. Click HERE for all the links to the 26 stories. (and no…this story is not part of Swan Rise).