D. A. Ratliff: Family Remembrance

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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Family Remembrance

By D. A. Ratliff

I first saw her leaning against the rough, brick wall about a block off Bourbon Street.

She wasn’t particularly beautiful, but the word lovely kept creeping into my mind. Thick black hair pulled off her face, curled tresses tied with a purple ribbon cascaded down her back. I assumed she was a street performer, her purple and green striped dress and velvet shoes seemed at place in the French Quarter. I’d seen my fair share of burly guys in pink tutus and blue wigs wandering the streets. She was a pleasant diversion.

A large hand grabbed my forearm and spun me around. Liam Bronson, all six-foot-four of him, leaned over so we were face to face. “Listen, mate, we have two whole days before Fat Tuesday. That’s a lot of drinking to do. Let’s go.”

I sucked in the warm New Orleans air, then regretted it. The musky smell of the Mississippi River only a few blocks away, along with the smell of stale beer was a bit overwhelming. I followed Liam but not without a glance back to where the lovely woman was standing. She was gone.

My best friend, Dan Parker, fell in beside me. “Liam is going to kill us all. No one can keep up with him.”

I snickered. “You better not try. Don’t worry, he’s always ready for the game.”

It was Dan’s turn to snicker. “He only plays for the afterglow.”

I laughed as Liam turned, hearing Dan’s comment. In his thick New Zealand brogue, he replied, a huge grin on his face. “Alcohol and all those women, partying after the game.” He spread his long powerful arms out. “It’s why we play rugby, isn’t it?”

Indeed, it was. My buds and I were members of the Los Angeles Rugby club and were in town to play a charity exhibition match with the New Orleans club on Fat Tuesday. We arrived a few days before Mardi Gras with the sole intention to party.

It was humid and unseasonably warm in NOLA as the natives called her, and we hadn’t walked a block before the heavens opened up. Liam ducked into a bar and we followed. Lucky to find a table, along with an efficient server, we had beers in front of us within a couple of minutes.

Liam downed half of his beer, putting the heavy glass mug down with a thud. “I like this town. Got character.”

Dan tipped his mug at me. “Bert, didn’t you tell me you had relatives who lived here?”

“Yeah, where my name came from, it was my great-grandfather’s. There was some sort of tragedy and he headed to California where an aunt lived. I don’t know much about them.”

As he motioned to the server for another beer, Liam shook his head. “You’ve never been here, mate?”

“No. Never had the chance.”

“Foolish not to come here. I like this town.”

Dan was searching on his phone. “Just checked the weather, going to rain for the rest of the afternoon. I was thinking, the chick at the front desk was telling me about a tour of haunted bars and saloons. I just did a search. The next tour leaves in fifteen minutes not far from here. Wanna go?”

Liam smiled. “Got some haunted places back in Auckland, mum and my auntie took me with them once when I was a lad. And my uncle owned a pub, and I grew up in it. I’m in, mate.”

An hour later, traveling in the covered horse-drawn carriage that had been touring us around the French Quarter, we were in front of the third of six stops. Liam and Dan loved the tour. The first two haunted bars were open and provided free beer.

Ducking under the carriage awning as he stepped onto the sidewalk, Liam frowned. “Bugger, no skulls in this place. Better be a ghost.”

Dan turned to me. “I cannot keep up with Kiwi talk. What’s he going on about?”

I slapped my friend on the back. “Skull means drink.”

Dan wrinkled his nose. “Bugger.”

The bar was an old shotgun duplex located on the fringes of the less commercial area of the Quarter. Three sturdy steps with a railing led to a worn porch that ran the width of the house.

“This place could use a coat of paint.” Dan meant his words for us, but the tour guide heard him.

In a lilting Cajun drawl, the guide, a retired history teacher she had told us, responded. “That is part of the charm, young man. But this is the best stop of the tour. Lots of my guests have seen the lady ghost here. Now follow me and watch your step.”

We entered the building to find that the front half of both duplexes had been combined into one enormous room. Like the outside, the place could use a coat of paint. The last color painted on the walls was a teal green, but where the paint had worn off, a creamy yellow was revealed.

An ornate wood bar that looked like cherry to my untrained eye extended across the short side of the room. Behind it was a mirrored wall lined with several dusty shelves containing a few empty liquor bottles. Liam and Dan immediately headed for the bar, along with the twelve other people in the tour group, but I was drawn to the fireplace.

A fireplace sat off-center of the room in one side of the old duplex, the fire brick was old and stained from so many fires over the years. The only other furniture in the room was a straight-backed wooden armchair with one of those woven seats.

As I walked toward the fireplace, the guide began to speak.

“This bar known as Angel’s Tavern was owned by the Cormier family around the turn of the century. Oh … the twentieth century.”

The others were laughing at her feeble joke, but the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. My last name is Cormier.

It was hot and humid in the room, but as I approached the chair, it became noticeably colder. Each step seemed to lower the temperature until at the fireplace, it was downright frigid. I began to shiver but, rooted to the spot, I listened to the guide tell the story.

“Angeline and Bertrand Cormier were descendants of an Acadian family who were deported from Nova Scotia to France in the Expulsion by the British in the mid-1700s. Their ancestors were recruited by the Spanish to migrate to the Louisiana area that they now controlled. Many had family in the western area of the territory, but the Spanish forced them to live along the Mississippi. They wanted settlers to thwart the British from claiming the land. Not much is known about the Cormier family history before opening the Angel’s Tavern, I’ angle in French, in 1898.”

I was mesmerized by the story and only when she took a breath, did I realize Dan and Liam were staring at me, mouths agape. Yeah, mine probably was as well. I tried to take a step to get out of what I decided was a draft, but I couldn’t move. Adrenaline flooded my body as panic set in, but the guide began to talk, and I was lost again in her words.

“Angel’s Tavern was very popular. Only the finest liquors and wines were served, and the place was known for its gin fizzes! Angeline played the piano, and on weekends, the place was packed. Locals in Vieux Carré, as the Quarter was often called then, would pack this place. They were at the height of popularity when tragedy struck. A cotton merchant from New York arrived in New Orleans and took a fancy to Angeline. Bertrand tried to protect his wife from the man, but one night the merchant entered the bar and found Bertrand sitting in a chair next to the fireplace. He demanded Bertrand release Angeline from her marriage vows. Bertrand refused, and the merchant drew a dagger from his coat and stabbed his rival.

She stopped and pointed to the chair I was standing beside. “Some believe that was the actual chair that Bertrand died in but no way to be certain. But many who get close to the chair feel a slight chill which indicates the presence of a ghost. I don’t know if that is true. What is true is that the tragedy deepened.”

The guide turned back to the others. “Angeline, who had been playing the piano at the time, rushed to her husband’s side and pulled the dagger from his chest. Vowing she couldn’t live without her beloved, she plunged the sharp blade covered in her husband’s blood into her chest and died instantly. It is said that her ghost roams the French Quarter looking for her son.”

A woman in the group spoke. “What happened to the son?”

“No one knows for certain. The only mention of him was in the newspaper article about his parents’ death and in their obituary. He was 17.”

My voice quaking, I asked the guide a question that I wasn’t sure that I wanted the answer to but had to know.

“Do you know the son’s name?”

She flashed a smile, phony in my opinion. “Why, yes. His name was Fabien.”

My grandfather’s name was Fabien. I grabbed the back of the chair for stability. The wood was cold. I remember an episode of that ghost-hunting show I watched with a girlfriend. The temperature was supposed to drop around an apparition. No, not believing that. There are no such things as ghosts.

The guide began to lead the group through the remainder of the structure. There was a commercial kitchen, put in by a previous tenant who ran a restaurant here for a while. My friends started to ask questions, but I waved them off. Didn’t want to talk, too unnerved.

As we left for the next stop, I glanced one last time toward the bar and in the mirror was the reflection of the dark-haired woman in the striped dress. I nearly broke my neck looking behind me to see where she was. She wasn’t there. When I turned back to the mirror, she had vanished.

No, I will not believe in ghosts.

Monday morning, we were up far too early to practice on the rugby pitch. I had a hangover, and Dan was positively gray. Only Liam was cheerful. I hated him. I fully intended to go back to the hotel and sleep before we hit the streets to watch more parades. I showered after practice and was getting dressed when the guys joined me.

Dan sat on the bench next to me. “Man, I still don’t understand it. You never had any idea about your great-grandparents?”

“I told you a thousand times last night, I didn’t. Not even certain my dad knows.”

“Just wild, I mean you have the same name as your great-grandfather. That you didn’t know and then them dying like that. Just wild.”

I honestly wished he would shut up. My head was spinning and not just from the alcohol. Something more than coincidence was going on and I was not afraid to admit to myself that I was weirded out. Just wasn’t going to admit it to anyone else.

Liam slapped me on the back. “Come on, Coach is taking us to breakfast and then we can go watch some of the parades.”

I stood and grabbed my bag. “Okay, but after breakfast, I’m going to sleep.”

A hearty laugh roared from Liam. “We’ve got curfew, you can sleep then.”

Afterglow was in full swing. I had played a lot of sports but must admit, rugby players partied like no other. Rivals on the field, now both teams were in the same locker room, drinking beer with wives, girlfriends and random gals. No other guys allowed, just women. I still wasn’t used to running around naked or just in a towel in front of all these women, but it was part of the game. But I was preoccupied with Angel’s Tavern. I kept seeing the mysterious woman in my head and felt like she was luring me back there.

Trying not to attract attention, I got dressed and was attempting to slip out the door when Liam caught me. Towel barely wrapped around him, beer in one hand and both arms wrapped around two gals, he bellowed.

“Where do you think you’re going, mate?” He grimaced. “These NOLA boys are tough. Kicked me right in the acorns but we won and NOLA’s paying for the beer. Get in here and party.”

“I’ll be back.” Before he could say anything else, I left.

I caught the trolley to the French Quarter and walked to Angel’s Tavern. Standing in front of the door, I had to admit, I was shaking. I didn’t want to go inside, but I had to know.

When I first tried the doorknob, it wouldn’t budge, but as I was thinking of course it was locked, it turned in my hand. I swallowed a gulp of air and went inside. As if I had no choice, I headed straight for the chair, the temperature dropping with each step.

I touched the chair, and for a moment, the room became warm from a fire burning brightly, voices murmuring, the tinkling of piano keys, but then it was gone. The room dark, only pale light through the front windows and still cold.

“He let you see it as it was.”

The voice seemed to echo throughout the room. I instinctively looked toward the mirror and saw her reflection. Whirling to see behind me, I nearly fell to my knees. She was standing before me.

“Who are you?”

She reached out to run her fingers along my cheek. I felt the chill but not her fingertips. “I am your great-grandmother, Angeline. I have been waiting for you to return and sensed when you arrived. I know you are not him, but you are of him.”

“You said, he let me see. Who is he?”

“Your great-grandfather. He cannot come into this world as I can. He has joined the other side, but I have remained in this plane to someday find you.”

My voice cracked, and I could barely take a breath. “Why are you waiting for me?”

She smiled, and for the first time, I realized how transparent she was. It was as if she was there but not there.

“I was waiting for you. The tavern is yours. No one has ever known where the deed was hidden but I will tell you, and you claim it. I would hope you would want to open a tavern here and laissez les bon temps rouler.”

“Mine, but how … I can’t run a bar.” I said that, but the wheels were turning. Paid my way through college tending bar. Could I do this?

As if she read my mind, my great-grandmother’s ghost responded. “Bertrand and I loved this tavern. I know you will love it as well. The deed is in a box under that slate tile in the right back corner of the hearth.”

I knelt on the wood floor and pried up the tile. In a small crevice, I found a steel box and inside a wax covered envelope. My fingers shook as I pulled the document from the box and stood up. I turned to her, but she was gone.

A couple of hours later, Dan and Liam found me. I was sitting in the chair. It was no longer cold, and I knew my great-grandfather was gone. My buddies didn’t say anything, waiting for me to speak.

“Don’t ask me how I know or how I found this, but I think I own this place. If I do, I’m going to reopen Angel’s Tavern.”

Dan pursed his lips. “Move to New Orleans. Funny, we were talking about how we didn’t want to leave and go back to the craziness of LA.”

My pulse raced a bit. “You guys would stay here?”

Liam grinned. “I told you, my uncle owned a pub … worked there from the time I was twelve. Besides, the NOLA rugby dudes are begging us to join them, and they could use us.”

I stood up. “Then we do this together?”

The slap on my back from Liam almost knocked me over. “You got it, mate.”

Dan agreed and they started talking about what we needed to do. I glanced in the mirror to find the image of my great-grandmother smiling at me. As her image faded, I knew I would never see her again but her words, laissez les bon temps rouler, echoed in my head.

Yes, time for the good times to roll again at Angel’s Tavern.

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Please visit Deborah’s blog and follow her. thecoastalquill.wordpress.com

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


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Courtney E. Taylor: Ashes

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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Ashes

By Courtney E. Taylor

What had been a morning filled with the sweet, lemony smell of magnolias turned into an evening of dust and smoke. Every road was filled with soldiers, nearly every home too.

Already it had been a hard year. Only sixteen, young Master Cummins had gone off to join the Confederate States Army, following in the footsteps of his father who had been victim to the first conscription two years earlier. The missus had wept as she praised their courage and demanded that they win the war and be home by Christmas.

They were nowhere near December, but the end of the war didn’t feel close either. They had heard that Mister Sherman and his horrible army were marching across the state, that they would destroy every town they passed. Yet the citizens had little choice but to continue with life as normal.

The missus, her children, and most of the slaves had left barely a day earlier on the last train out of town to hide with a cousin in South Carolina. Those very tracks were now twisted beyond use. Ruthie wondered how they’d ever come home.

She had been left alone to protect the property. The army had poured into town midafternoon. Ruthie had screamed as the men burst through the front door, but they didn’t lay a hand on her. They were only three, yet they searched the house with the vigor of twenty. Not a drawer went unopened, not a pillow still filled. The missus had taken the gold, but what jewels she had hidden were gone. The kitchen and cellar had been ransacked. The garden had been overrun too, only a few rotting vegetables left to keep Ruthie’s hunger at bay.

Ruthie knew not if the family would return. If they had sent a telegram to their soldiers, the men might ride north after the war. Ruthie wondered what would become of her.

That didn’t matter. The house must be ready in case they came home.

She had cried through the night but spent the next day restoring the main room. Much of the furniture had been damaged. The rocker had been destroyed, the table was broken, and all but one of the chairs were in pieces. She had swept, dusted, and scrubbed, attempting to return the space to its former glory. She had dragged the wooden remains out to the slave quarters in case Mister Kitch could fix them in his workshop.

She needed to tackle the bedrooms while evening light still poured through the windows. After dark, she would build a fire and start on the kitchen, lest they arrive hungry. Miss Abigail wouldn’t tolerate a dirty workspace for preparing the missus’ meal.

Ruthie sighed, straightened the bow in her black, tightly-curled hair, and reached for the broom.

When would they come home?

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Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Stephanie Angela: The Pinto Without the Beans

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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The Pinto Without the Beans

By Stephanie Angela

Weekends spent at grandma’s and pawpaw’s were always a blast. I remember my small rocking chair in front of the fireplace. My cousins and I all had one and loved to rock together.

At their house, warming in front of the crackling fire, I’d often think back to when I was a small child. My mom was ill, mentally ill, and her illness flared whenever a family member died.

As a small child, I was left alone quite often while my mom worked or hung out with friends. Life was erratic then. Sometimes we lived in mom’s old, blue, hatchback Pinto. It was like a new journey every night scoping out dark areas of gas station and grocery store parking lots to camp in. To me, at seven, it was very mysterious and exciting.

While mom worked during the day, I had the whole car to myself and the entire area was my playground. I took extra special care to not mess up her car so she wouldn’t be angry.

During the hot summertime, she would park in the shade and bring me bagged ice and fresh cold water to stay cool with. As refreshing as it was, it was sometimes not enough even with the windows rolled down unless there happened to be a breeze which I would be thankful for.

I retreated at times to lying on the passenger floorboard under the glove box with my bagged ice because it seemed cooler there, I suppose because the air circulated enough through the cold engine to make it cooler.

During the wintertime, I’d be bundled up like an Eskimo with the windows rolled up parked in the full sun which I prayed would shine every day. Mom brought me hot meals and hot chocolate to drink. It excited me to see those coming, and then I would rest on the vinyl seats which always seemed to me to keep my body warmer, and then I would resume my playtime with dolls and toys in my own blue winter wonderland.

My favorite time was when we would have enough money to rent an apartment. We would have an actual bed to sleep on and a bathroom with real towels to use. I still shiver thinking about those god-awful cloth towels in the public bathrooms that you had to crank to get to a clean area of towel.

I still shiver at a lot of what happened then. Baths were difficult. We’d dry off the best we could and sometimes we’d use the the air hose that people aired up their tires with to dry our arms and legs. That air hose in the winter with semi-wet clothes on, still damp from my bathroom sponge bath, felt like a snowless blizzard being blown dry with it.

I loved being in our apartment where I could stay either warm or cool depending on the season. While mom was at work, I had entire rooms to walk around and play in. She did give me rules of what not to touch, and I obeyed them because I loved my free time and didn’t want to lose my freedom.

However, I did disobey one time. I skipped my happy self down to the pool and, of course, my big toe found the only broken glass piece around.

Ouch!

Mom was at work, but fortunately for me, a resident couple took me to the hospital. Unfortunately for my mom, she got in trouble with my dad and a loud policewoman for leaving me alone.

While the doctors stitched up my big toe, I shut out the arguing and my thoughts reverted back to our apartment. I didn’t want to lose living where I had room to imagine anything I wanted. Whenever mom had guests over, I was shifted to a smaller area—bummer—where I would imagine the apartment to be a whole community of neighboring cities.

I loved the bathroom the most. The bathtub was my ocean and the bathroom sink was my luxurious restaurant by lakeside where I could make as much instant coffee as I wanted and ate from my pudding cups, chips, and sandwiches from the cooler, also filled with those plastic drinks with the foil lid. There were different colors. I loved the green ones the most, and I could have as much of those as I wanted because they were very cheap back then.

It saddened me when the days came for us to pack up and move back again into the old, blue Pinto because I knew reality would hit me that I had been downsized. The fourth time this occurred, I remember feeling sorry for my mom who fell into a deeper depression each time. At least we never ran out of gas stations or grocery stores back then to sleep at because there were plenty, even if some of them didn’t want us back.

Still, mom tried her best to keep me fed and safe, and it was then I began to notice her expressions go more blank with hopelessness each passing night. She would give me doses of Creamulsion Cough Syrup so I’d go to sleep. She could think. I will never forget the look on her face as she watched me fall asleep on my favorite old pillow.

Then it happened, the tap on the window and the cries from mom as the Birmingham police picked me up and placed me in the police car.

My world shattered and my mom was gone.

I was taken by strangers with badges to dad. I knew it was ok and I’d be alright. Everyone asked me all kinds of questions, but all I wanted for them to do was to take me back to mom’s old, blue Pinto or our apartments.

I didn’t live with my mom anymore after that but I did get to see her some. We spent a lot of time together with my Aunt Adele who lived down the road from my pawpaw Brand, who we also visited a lot. My pawpaw still had my comfy rocking chair sitting in front of the cozy fireplace, and even though I was getting bigger, I still loved to rock in the tiny chair.

My sweet Aunt Adele—she was a wonderful woman and the sister of my grandma Lela, and she loved me like her own grandchild. It was at her house where my mom introduced me to something very addicting—a newspaper, silly putty, and how to smoke a cigarette.

Aunt Adele was a precious woman but not a smoker. My mom was not allowed to smoke in her house so we went on many walks. I treasured those moments, mom and me walking up and down Murphree’s Valley Road. We shared an imagination and both loved writing, and we would talk—we discussed my novice writing and her writing. Writers smoked, she said. So we smoked.

The fireplace and my small rocking chair are long gone but my memory replays those moments from time to time. I spent many sleepless nights rocking in front of that old fireplace remembering my life in the Pinto without the beans.

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Stephanie does not currently have an author page but you can find her on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/tjdsam

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Lynn Miclea: Returning Home

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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Returning Home

by Lynn Miclea

I glide into the room

Frosty coolness permeating the air

I circle around the chair

Trailing wispy, ghostly fingers

Along the seat and the back

Where I had taken my last breath

My body choking and gasping at the end

It had been a tough life

Remembering the heart attack

That finally set me free

Releasing me from my sick, earthly body

Floating weightless in misty light

A deep sense of peace

Greeted by my wife’s open arms

Warmth and love radiating from her

She had been waiting for me

Now one last good-bye to the chair

And I return to vast fields of flowers and euphoria

In a place of indescribable joy

And my wife’s warm embrace

Brilliant light

Endless love

Infinite peace

I am healed

I am whole

I am finally home

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Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Please visit Lynn’s blog, like the poem there, and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-og

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


D. L. Tillery: The Room Within

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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The Room Within

By D. L. Tillery

I guess the previous owner must have forgotten to lock the door. I enter even though a chill runs down my spine upon crossing the sill.

Wow! I can’t help but be impressed. Solid oak floors are what I find under my booted feet…hmm, the pictures had marble tiles throughout. I guess they were replaced for some reason. Everything is covered with dust, yet shockingly not much, considering it’s been empty for years.

“Beautiful. I can’t believe he let this go for only ninety grand.”

As I walk into the foyer, two carved pillars, framing the archway into the next area of the house, grace my sight. How romantic.

The curtain-less windows give me a little light to see, but not enough, I grab my flashlight from my left coat pocket. Damn it’s dark. I should have had the power turned on before this little visit. Walking under the archway the flashlight helps me see better, so I continue on.

Ahead I make out a large spiral staircase that goes up three flights with a landing on the second floor. Shining my light upward, I make the first step when that chill down my spine returns.

“Welcome.”

I quickly look toward the sound of the voice, to find no one. I know I heard…someone.

“Hello?!” I yell. Waiting, I receive no answer. It was a soft and feminine voice, I’m sure of it. I shine my light every which way yet I find no one. Must be my mind playing tricks on me.

Making my way up the long, spiral stairs, flashing my light all around, I find even in the dark this house is breathtaking. Amazing designs of angelic carvings and antique paintings hang from every wall on my way up. Soon I find myself on the first landing; the long hall that’s lined with floor-to-ceiling sized windows feels both ominous and inviting.

On this level I find silk, cream-colored drapes that hang to the floor. I could tell they have been hanging for many years as they are dusty and yellowing. I continue down the long hall until I come to a green door; turning the knob, I enter. I’m immediately met by a hail of dust. Coughing and waving my hand helps to avoid inhaling the rest.

“Thank God there’s a window here.” I try to open the window but it won’t budge. “Damn.”

Giving up, I walk toward the old hearth and a single chair that sits near it. I guess I know why the door was green. Taking note that the entire room is the same color as the door I entered. Part of the room is illuminated by the daylight streaming in from the window, but the rest is dark. Aiming my light around the walls, I spot another door on the other side of the hearth. I approach and attempt to turn the knob.

“Welcome… who might you be?” Says the same soft, feminine voice I heard earlier. Jumping away in surprise, I drop my flashlight, which I quickly retrieve. The voice is coming from the other side of the door. I wait … and wait, but I don’t hear anything. I press my ear to the door … still I hear nothing. Stepping back, I chuckle.

“Did I say something funny?” she asks in shock.

“Who are you?” I ask the disembodied voice.

“I asked you first, if you recall,” she replies in an annoyed tone.

“I’m Daniel Elliot and I own this house. Excuse me, why are you here? Who are you and where are you?”

“Ah, yes, a very likable name … Daniel. I’m locked in and can’t leave.”

The doorknob starts to jingle. Eyeing it, I step back. “I’m sorry but this is nuts, and clearly I’m nuts for talking to myself. I need to get out of here … like now.”

“Please … don’t leave me. I have to get out before he comes back! I’m being held against my will … please,” she begs. The pleading in her voice stops me.

“How’s it I can hear you as if you are right next to me?” I ask, stepping closer to the door again.

“I’m speaking to your mind … it’s odd, I know, but it’s something I could always do,” she says calmer.

“Odd? Yeah, ’cause that’s the word I’d use. Listen, I’m not doing anything until you tell me who you are? And who is ‘he’?”

“I’m called Dalidah,” she replies.

“Okay, and how’d you get here, telepathic Dalidah?”

“I was put here against my will … only you can free me, Daniel,” she says.

I feel hazy and out of sorts … something’s wrong, I want to open the door … to free her with no more questions asked. My hands move of their own accord, turning the knob. “What the Hell?!” Pulling away, I land flat on my backside.

I feel overheated, my mind still hazy. I pull off my coat and sweater, only my long sleeved black shirt remains, but I feel relief by lightening my burden.

“What did you do to me?!” I yell at the door.

“I don’t know what you mean … I have done nothing. How could I? I’m trapped,” she says, emotions choking her.

Shaking the odd feeling off, I come to my feet. “How would I get you out even if I wanted to? There’s no keyhole … not that I have a key. And what of the past owner … Is it the ‘he’ who put you here?”

I know I should run … everything in me says to run … but what kind of person would I be?

“Please Daniel …”

Grabbing the knob, I turn and pull. Nothing happens. Not that I’m shocked. I try again and again.

“I can’t get it open!”

“It’s held by a stronger force than either of us … believe me, you will never get me out by physical means.”

“What does that mean?” I ask in frustration.

“Simply that you must find another way to release me.”

“Let me think a minute.” I sit in the only chair available. I try to think of what to do. So many thoughts run through my mind. Why would the previous owner sell to me but leave her here to be found? Maybe I’m imagining it all. It’s all so bizarre … Dalidah, this house, the old owner. I really do want to save her; if I had my cell I could call for help. The only other option is to leave and come back with help.

As I am about to do just that, everything is darker … I can no longer see anything. Then, as if they have always been there, I’m surrounded by lit candles, the room all ablaze in firelight.

Jumping out of the chair, I look around. The room looks the same except for all the candles. No, no, no. The window’s gone. I run over to feel the cold wall where it once was. My mind screams to find a way out. The door! It’s also gone!

“What the hell is happening?!” I scream, banging both fists where the door should be. Heart racing, I turn all about the room … and there I see a woman’s figure standing in the far corner. The only part of the room shrouded in shadow.

I walk toward her. “Dalidah?”

Her head is down, but as I get closer, I can see she is watching me. From beneath her waist-length, cold black hair that looks like silky ink, a pale small hand reaches out to me. I don’t take her hand. Something feels wrong. I step back instead.

Her head comes straight up and she steps into the firelight. I can see her eyes now, they are as black as her hair and as cold. Her cream-colored dress hugging her frame, yellowing … much like the curtains from the hall.

“Where are we,” I ask, stepping farther away. “This isn’t the same room … it can’t be.” I look around for a second, my eyes coming to land back on her face.

She smiles, yet it’s sinister, and I know I’ve made a grave mistake in not running fast and far.

“He makes me feed …” she says, stepping closer still.

“No … stay back!” I yell, yet she continues her advance.

“Though I do love the taste of your fear …” Her tongue darts out, licking her lips very slowly as if she can taste my fear on them.

“My father … you met him. He sold you this house, or at least that’s what he made you see. He’s much like me you know … making people see things … so I can … eat.”

She’s so close now and I can no longer move. I can see the hunger in her eyes.

I attempt to run but can’t move. It’s as if my feet are encased in stone. She lays both hands on either side of my face looking into my eyes. I can’t look away no matter how hard I try.

“Please. I was trying to help you.”

She laughs. “You are helping …” Leaning in until I can no longer see her face.

I feel something like hot iron cut through my left shoulder. I grab for her hair, to stop what she’s doing, but to no avail. She grabs my wrist — fire and pain, I can hear the sickening sound … of my severed hand hitting the floor. Ripping, tearing, now my screams only bounce off the walls. The realization that I am dying hits me as she slides me to the floor.

Above I see my own blood dripping from what looks like fangs protruding from her mouth. She slides down my body, continuing the feast. The pain is too much to bear, yet I find the strength to scream one last time. I only wanted a place to call home, to build a family. Now I will never have it.

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After you get your breath back, please visit D. L’s website and check out her other work…. https://authordltillery.wixsite.com

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Susan Staneslow Olesen: Lost

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Lost

By Susan Staneslow Olesen


The truck arrived
And took your things
But not the chair,
The one you promised me
When I was six
And didn’t know nice people
Didn’t talk about death
Or ask for people’s treasures
While they were still alive.

The paneled maple walls
And hand-hewn floors
Echo with your voice,
Your shuffling footsteps.
Your house that was
Your grandma’s house,
That was her grandma’s house,
The one you’ve left to me.

Some might restore the floors
Paint the walls
Tile the fireplace
Reap that market value.
I want the room as it is,
History-etched walls,
Your chair by the yellow-warm fire,
Waiting for your tea.
What is worth restoring
If I can’t restore you?

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Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Rylee Black: Macy - A Lindsey Sayers Cold Case #1

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Macy

A Lindsey Sayers Cold Case #1

By Rylee Black

Detective Lindsey Sayers contemplated the idea that her new boss hadn’t been totally forthcoming about the remoteness of the address she needed to visit as she eased her old sedan up the narrow dirt drive at a snail’s pace. She winced each time a branch scraped against the faded paint or the car bottomed out in one of the deeper ruts. The aging vehicle had served her well for almost ten years and had been up and down almost every street and alleyway in the city, but this was the first time she’d taken it on an unpaved road. Either her new department was going to have to issue her more appropriate transportation, or she would have to invest in something better suited for this type of travel. It was a fact that forays into places where roads weren’t in the best shape would happen more often now that she’d been assigned to the cold case division in a smaller rural station. Some of her peers at her previous station house had intimated that they thought the transfer had been a demotion. In a way it had been, and she understood why they’d done it. Lindsey didn’t see it as a bad thing, in reality it was probably the only thing that would have worked. At any rate, to her, the thrill of solving cases that had stymied her predecessors and left loved ones without closure was far more fulfilling than any of her prior positions had been.

She brought the car to a stop where the dirt road ended, turned off the engine, and leaned forward to peer out the dust-covered windshield at the dilapidated old house. The case that had brought her to this desolate location today was the disappearance of Macy Stapleton. A twenty-five-year-old wife and mother of twin infant daughters. Macy had vanished just over sixteen years ago. This house was the last place anyone had seen her. Her husband’s interview transcript stated that she’d been busy cleaning house and caring for the children when he’d kissed her goodbye before leaving for work. She hadn’t told him of any plans to go anywhere that day. When he’d come home later that evening, he’d found the children alone and inexplicably hidden in their bedroom closet and his wife nowhere on the property. Macy’s body had never been found, but investigators had dredged up enough circumstantial evidence to convict her husband. That evidence included an affair Macy had been engaged in with an unknown subject and her husband’s history of anger issues and infidelity. He was currently serving life in prison for her death. He claimed he was innocent. They all claimed they were innocent, but Lindsey believed Paul Stapleton’s claim. His eyes had been too haunted, and the tremble of the hands he’d scrubbed back through his hair over and over again during their interview too real to believe otherwise.

Her own hands trembled slightly as she shoved open the car’s heavy door and stepped out onto the hard-packed dirt of what had probably once been the front lawn. The squall of the car’s old hinges as she pushed the door closed sounded unnaturally loud in the quiet. She pressed her hands into the small of her back, then bent back over them to stretch out the kinks of the three-hour drive, then straightened to survey her surroundings. The scene seemed serene. Trees waved their thick, leafy branches in the gentle breeze, and the tall grasses that surrounded the old house rustled softly as they swayed to and fro. Multitudes of wild flowers in riots of different colors filled the air with soft fragrance. If it weren’t for the tingle of death that danced across her skin, she would have been captivated by it all.

Her gaze shifted to the house where the vibe was much different. Wooden walls, devoid of paint, had faded to a dull silvery gray. Unadorned windows stared out at her like eyes full of accusation and reproach, and the old front porch sagged in a frown of disapproval. The screen-less screen door banged listlessly against its frame with each puff of wind. It felt as though the house itself blamed her for the long stretch of time that had passed before she’d shown up to release the secrets it held. Frustrated by the sensations, she shook off the building apprehension and made her way carefully up the rotting porch steps.

One hand hovered over the doorknob while she gave herself a few much needed seconds to mentally prepare herself for what was to come. No one but she and a very open-minded psychologist knew how she’d suddenly gotten so proficient at solving these old cases. Hell, no one would have believed her if she’d tried to explain it to them.

It had all begun a little over a year ago, shortly after she’d been shot while responding to a domestic call. She’d died and been brought back twice during the subsequent trip to the hospital and emergency surgery. The changes had started slowly as she recovered. First it was just feelings. She’d felt death. Felt danger. Felt things normal people couldn’t — or shouldn’t. Then came the visions. Quick snapshots. Pictures seen so briefly she’d thought she’d imagined them. Touch a knife, see who’d wielded it. A gun and see a victim. When she’d gotten her first full-on immersion into the past, she’d thought she was going insane. It had taken time, and a lot of experimentation, but she’d eventually come to understand what was going on. She was experiencing a crime that had been committed from the perspective of the victim. It didn’t happen for current cases, only the old cold ones.

With a shake of her head, she pulled herself from her memories. Then, because she knew that if she paused too long and gave herself too much time to consider what she was doing that she’d never do it, she shoved open the door and stepped inside. It took a couple minutes for her eyes to adjust to the change in light. Once they did, she looked around. The house was small, four or five rooms at most. She’d entered into what had once been the living room. A quick survey of the rest of the house yielded an eat-in kitchen devoid of everything including appliances to the right, and two bedrooms and a tiny bathroom to the rear. The lack of furnishings and personal items worried her. To see what had happened, she needed to find just the right object to use as a conduit. The only item left in the entire house was a single straight-back chair sitting in front of a small fireplace in the front room.

Avoiding the inevitable plunge into fear and death that would come if the chair worked, she walked back through the house. She moved slowly from room to room, taking the time to run her hands over walls and countertops. Memories absorbed by the structure flickered around her. A petite blonde woman smiling from where she stood by the stove in the kitchen who had to be Macy. The babble of small children in one of the bedrooms. The more she gave herself over to the house, the more she saw. She knew when the house had settled into the day it had happened because she felt the eagerness of its desire to release it all to her. It was only then that she made her way to the chair. With trepidation, she lowered herself into the seat and closed her eyes.

Sensations slammed into her with so much force she cried out. Fear. Panic. Pain. Sorrow. Then the memories came and shoved her unceremoniously into the mind and body of Macy. Events began to unfold around her. She heard the crunch of tires on the drive outside. Felt the confusion about who it could be. A trip to the window and a gasp of surprise that quickly morphed to fear. The mad dash to the bedroom where her girls slept peacefully in their cribs. Frantically lifting them from their cribs and putting them into the small closet praying they’d stay asleep and quiet and out of harm’s way — he hated them so much. The soft click of the closet door as she eased it closed was followed closely by the bang of the front door against the wall as it was kicked open by the intruder. She made a mad dash out into the living room where she took a defiant stance with manufactured bravado and faced down the man who came toward her with rage and lust-filled eyes.

He stopped close enough for her to smell the sweat and alcohol and feel the spittle that flew from his flabby lips as he berated her. They’d had a deal. He could do to her what he wanted in exchange for his not arresting Paul. She’d denied him long enough using the excuse of childbirth. He wanted payment. She squared her shoulders and planted her hands on her hips while she told him the deal was off. She’d asked Paul about his supposed crime and he’d denied it. Given her proof that he hadn’t been involved. She no longer owed him anything.

The fist came out of nowhere and sent her sprawling. She scrambled on hands and knees away from him but was too slow. He caught her and was poised with fist raised again when Lindsey’s eyes flew open. Her breath came in ragged gasps as she tried to disentangle herself from Macy. This was the first time she hadn’t had to experience the death. The one time she needed to so she could find the body and the proof she needed to exonerate Macy’s husband. She now knew for certain that Paul was innocent, and the guilty … oh God, the guilty.

Her head swung toward the sound of tires on gravel outside. Unlike Macy, she didn’t need to go to the window. She knew who was here. There was only one person who had any knowledge of her being here. One person who, while he didn’t understand how she did what she did, knew about her near-perfect track record for solving cold cases. The man who’d killed Macy. The same man who’d given her directions out here to the Stapleton homestead. Why had he sent her here knowing she’d figure out what he’d done? Had it been a test? Why was he here now?

The door swung open and slammed into the wall and a huge man barreled into the room. Macy moved to Lindsey’s side as she upholstered her service weapon and ordered the man to freeze. Listened with her as he raged about what he’d heard and seen on some camera he’d installed in the empty house. What had he’d seen and heard? Did she act out what she saw when she became the victim? When the intruder charged and Lindsey pulled the trigger, Macy screamed and then went silent, and Lindsey briefly wondered if the death of her murderer had allowed her to move on.

After the county came and took away the body of Sheriff Hadley, and Lindsey had answered all their questions and given her official statement, she noticed Macy standing next to the chair beckoning to her to come and sit back down. This was new. Never had she seen the victim after the crime had been solved. Then again, while the perpetrator had been found, Macy’s remains had not, so only one piece of the puzzle was complete. She waited until the last of the emergency personnel left the property before she went to do as Macy requested. Would she have to relive the death to finish this? She hoped she wouldn’t, but even if she did, she couldn’t deny Macy or her family the closure they needed, so she sat.

The exhumation of the body of Macy Stapleton from the back yard of the sheriff’s house took place on a warm and sunny day in August. Not only had Macy been able to point Lindsey to her body, she’d been able to help her locate enough evidence to back up claims that the sheriff had been her killer and Paul was innocent. Lindsey had pulled some strings and called in some favors, and that was how Paul and his girls were able to be there to witness the disinterment. They’d invited her to the funeral set to take place in a couple weeks. Her therapist said she should go, but she wasn’t sure she’d have time.

It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go, not really. The thing was, free hours were scarce these days. That straight-back chair from Macy’s house now sat in Lindsey’s living room, and she wasn’t sure requesting to take it had been such a good idea. All day the chair sat empty. A silent reminder of how close she’d come to death and how precious life was, just as she’d intended. The evenings were a whole different story. As each day ended and the dying light spilled across the chair, a figure would appear, seated on the chair. The first had been a man from Nogales Texas. He’d been murdered and the wrong man had been arrested for it. She’d ignored him for three days before she’d gone to Texas. Finding the truth had taken two weeks. The evening of her return home had brought the spirit of a teenage girl whose death had been ruled a suicide. It hadn’t been. Sheriff Lindsey Sayers was currently at the local high school questioning the girl’s best friend about exactly what had happened to her friend. With any luck, the spirit world would give her a break long enough to bid farewell to a young mother who’d died too soon. She wondered if Macy would be able to help with that.

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Please visit Rylee’s website and follow her! https://www.ryleeblackbooks.com/

Quick note: Rylee’s website chose the most inopportune day to crash. Hopefully, it will be live soon! Keep checking!!

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Zakia Sultana: Price of Sacrifice

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

Price of Sacrifice

By Zakia Sultana

Standing behind the glass window, Sam was looking at his own reflection. He looked tired. The dark circles were very much visible under his eyes. He needed sleep, but unfortunately, he couldn’t even take a nap right then. He was directing a very important meeting that morning. And that’s why he had ordered his assistant not to disturb him during the meeting at any cost. “It’s going to be a long day,” he thought to himself.

Work had always been his first priority. All his life he had known nothing but work. When he first moved to this city, he was not so well off like today. He was a very brilliant student with absolutely zero money. He needed a job. He didn’t have a home. He used to stay at his friend’s house. One day he got a job here, in this very company. He worked very hard. And as they say, hard work always pays off. He grabbed the eye of Mr. Smith, the owner of this company. Mr. Smith asked Sam to marry his daughter, Jean, who was his only child, because he thought Sam could perfectly take care of his company and his daughter. So now, after six years of marriage, Sam was taking care of both Jean and the company. Everything Sam had ever wanted had come true.

­Angelia, Sam’s assistant was working at her desk when she first heard the footsteps.

“I want to meet Mr. Sam,” someone told her in a very serious tone.

But it didn’t matter how serious he was because Angelia didn’t want to face the wrath of Mr. Sam. So she politely replied without even looking at the man, “Sorry sir, but Mr. Sam is busy right now. You will have to wait until he is done.”

“I am police officer Samuel. I need to see Mr. Sam right now. It’s important,” that man said.

This time Angelia didn’t just look at him but also stood up from her chair. She said, “I am truly sorry, sir. Actually, it was my boss’s specific instruction to not disturb him during the meeting. That’s why I told you to wait. Just give me a minute. I will inform him about your presence.”

After saying this, she called Sam. “Sir, there is a police officer. He wants to meet you right now. He said it was important. OK, sir. Yes, I will inform him.” After ending the call, she turned to the officer and said, “Sir, he will see you in five minutes. Let me take you to his room. Follow me, please.”

After exactly five minutes, Sam entered the room. “Hello officer, how can I help you?”

“Hello, Mr. Sam. I am sorry that I had to disturb you during your meeting. But you have to come with me right now,” the officer said to Sam.

Sam replied, “Right now? Where?”

The officer continued, “You will see when we reach there. But for now, you just have to wait.” So Sam didn’t have any other choice but to go with the officer.

When they were in the car, the officer handed Sam a letter.

“What is it?” Sam asked.

Officer Samuel replied, “This is for you. Once you read it, you will understand who has written it.”

Sam didn’t say anything, just stared at the letter. “Who could write him a letter?” he thought to himself.

“Mr. Sam, pardon me for asking, but you are living in this city for how long?”

“Ten years, sir.”

“I see, ten years. And within these ten years, you have never once visited your home village?” the officer asked again.

Sam replied, “No, I was so caught up with business work that I couldn’t manage the time. But I did once, actually. I went to my village once in these ten years.”

“You don’t have any family members back there?”

“No, only my mother.”

The officer asked again, “Why didn’t you keep your mother with you here in your house?”

Sam didn’t have an answer to this question. He never had.

But the officer’s questions didn’t end there. He continued, “You and your mother, you two talked, right? I mean during these years?”

To this Sam replied, “No, as I have told you earlier, I am a very busy person. We didn’t talk much.”

“When was the last time you two met?”

Sam replied, “It was five years ago. That was the last time I saw her. After that, we didn’t actually properly talk.”

The officer then said, “OK. I know you must be thinking why so many questions. Well, you are going to get your answers soon enough. Please read the letter I gave you. You will understand.”

Sam looked at the letter for a moment. Then he opened it.

Sam my boy,

How are you? How is your health? Are you eating properly? Remember when you were a boy? You wouldn’t even eat until I fed you. You always kept bugging me to feed you with my own hands.

As a kid, you always wanted to eat good food. After your father’s death, I was really struggling. It was getting really difficult for me to manage those that you were fond of. But you kept complaining. You were never really happy about our condition. After your father’s death, we were not so well off. That used to bother you a lot. But I didn’t mind as I understood that you were a little boy who didn’t understand the reality. So I tried to do my best. I started a job. I used the money I earned from the job to buy food and clothes for you. There were nights when there wasn’t enough food for us at home. So I used to tell you, “I am just going to cook for myself now. You don’t have to wait. You eat this and go back to your studies.” But I never did cook. There were not enough ingredients to cook, in fact. And you didn’t notice. You never noticed the nights I spent without eating anything. You never even asked whether I ate or not.

I thought once your studies were over you would be able to get a job and then our condition would get better. All my pain and miseries would come to an end. So I always gave priority to your studies. But the expenses were increasing. So to maintain your educational expenses, I started working a part-time job as an office clerk. But I didn’t tell you about it. You always complained about your friends having better toys than you. You were always upset that you didn’t have a car, but your friends came to the school in their cars. One day you just came to me and said, “I want an expensive phone. All my friends have one. I also want one. If you don’t buy me a phone I will not sit in the final exams.”

The next day I went to my boss and requested him to lend me some money. He asked me why would I need so much money all of a sudden? I told him I needed that money to buy books for you, which was not true. But just at that exact moment, you entered the room. I didn’t know you had an appointment at that office. I was just clueless. I was not prepared for you to see me. So I hid my face.

My boss told you, “Sit down, Sam. My son told me all about you. You are a very bright student. I will see what I can do for you. I will try my best to find a job that suits you. You see, nowadays finding a job is really hard.” Then he looked at me and told me to get you a cup of coffee. When I was about to give you your cup, hiding my face with my scarf, you unfortunately and accidentally saw me. You just looked at me once and then left the room.

You were so ashamed of the fact that I was doing such a small job. A job is a job. I didn’t understand what’s wrong with me doing a small job when that’s what was paying for your education. But then I also understood why you felt angry and ashamed. So I followed you. I ran and ran and ran. But you didn’t stop. I called your name but you didn’t listen. You crossed the road. I also followed you and tried to cross the road, but just then a bike hit me. I fell. I cried out your name. I was in so much pain. I just wanted you near me. But you never came.

I had to be in the hospital for a couple of days. They had to plaster my leg because I broke my leg. After almost fifteen days, I was released from the hospital. They prescribed me not to do any heavy lifting. When I was at the hospital, I always thought you would come looking for me. But I was so wrong. When I returned home, you were not there. I asked our neighbors. They informed me that you didn’t come home for the last few days. Due to the condition of my leg, I couldn’t do any work. I was suspended from my job. Even at home, I couldn’t do anything. My life was miserable. There was no one who could at least cook food for me.

Do you remember the chair in front of the fireplace? I used to sit there day after day. I used to wait for you by sitting there quietly. I had this faith that you would come. But why did you never come, Sam? Why? Were you so angry with me that you just left your mother there all alone? Because of my health, I couldn’t cook and eat. So my health condition got worse.

You remember when you were little, you used to wet the bed. It was me who used to change your clothes and then make sure you slept peacefully. I never did let you sleep on that wet mattress. I was always afraid that you would catch a cold. You were the apple of my eye. You were my only son.

The day you came in a big car wearing all new and good clothes with your wife, I felt so happy. It was almost six years ago. The memories of that day are still so fresh to me. You came, true. But your entry was not exactly the way I wanted it to be. You didn’t even sit beside me and hold my hands. You just came by covering up your nose. Your wife didn’t really wish to be at our place any longer than she absolutely had to.

You said, “Mom, this is Jean. She is the daughter of my boss. I have my own home now. But I can’t really take you there. So I think it would be better if you live in a retirement home. Living alone here all by yourself is really not a good idea. I can’t take you with me. You see Jean is also a working woman. She is always so busy herself.”

I was so shocked after listening to you. Never in my dreams did I think this day would come. I felt so worthless. So I just gave you a little smile and replied, “Oh, don’t think about me. I will be just fine. You guys take care of yourselves. I don’t want to leave this house. I want to live here in this house. This is your father’s house. I won’t have any problem here.” After hearing this, you left with your wife. I thought once you calmed down a little bit you would come to me. But that never happened.

My son, today I am 65 years old. I want to live for 100 long years. I really want to because then I will be able to wait for you longer. I have heard that your wife has given birth to a baby boy. When your child will be about your age and you will be like me, then your son will also want to take you to the retirement home. Your child will treat you the same way you treated me. Then you could come to me. I have bought your favorite perfume. I have carefully kept it on the top shelf of the almirah. When you will come I will give you that.

I will sit in the chair in front of the fireplace. You will sit with me. We would talk our hearts out. We would talk about everything. Sam, do you remember this fireplace? It was your favorite spot in the whole house. You used to play with your train set in front of this fireplace. At night when you used to study, I would sit in that chair and watch you read. There are so many memories here. This room, this fireplace, this chair.

I have left the door open for you. Whenever there is a crackling sound at the door, I think of you. Then I shout out loud, “Sam, are you here finally? Have you come? The door is open. Come inside.” But after a few minutes, I realize that it’s not you.

Sam, I am really tired. I have had a fever for a couple of days now. I can’t keep my eyes open. I am keeping this letter by my side. If I can find someone, then I will send this letter to you. After reading this, you can come and wake me up from sleep. Then we will talk about everything that has happened in your life. Take care, Sam, take great care of my son. Remember your mother is waiting for you. She has always waited for you, dear.

Love you always,

Mom

When Sam finished reading the letter, he just couldn’t stop crying. “Mom, please forgive me. Please forgive me, mom. I have made a great mistake. I have failed you miserably, mom. I am such a pathetic son,” he said.

Just then the officer informed Sam that they had reached their destination. The officer said, “Yesterday a few of your neighbors went to the police station. They said they were not getting any responses from your mother. They knocked on the door. But no response came. So they got scared. That’s why they came to the police station. When the police came, they found your mother dead. This letter was found beside her. I kept the letter. Your mother’s neighbor gave me your address. That’s why I came to your office.”

Sam was half listening to all this. He just wanted to see his mother. He suddenly stopped on his feet in front of the door. Someone was calling him. He clearly heard it. Someone was calling out his name. Suddenly he realized that it was his mother’s voice.

He clearly heard, “Sam, my boy, you have come at last? I was waiting for you. I have kept the door open. Just come inside. Come to your mother.”

Just when Sam had opened the door, he felt like a cold breeze had passed, touching his body. It was just like his mother’s touch. He clearly heard the officer saying, “The body is at the morgue. You have to come with us, Sam.”

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Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Caroline Giammanco: 1472 North Sycamore Lane

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

1472 North Sycamore Lane

By Caroline Giammanco

The winter of 1945 warmed with a jubilance no bitter frost could touch. We had won the war, and our boys returned from the battlefront eager to regain a normal life. War brides returned with some soldiers while childhood sweethearts wed in simple ceremonies back home. No one felt the need for folderol. After all, the dark days of the Great Depression were still fresh in the minds of everyone, and instead of postponing nuptials for elaborately planned displays, many couples preferred to embrace the simplicity and excitement of a new era. Such was the case for Ellie and Emmett Fields, the newlyweds who moved into 1472 North Sycamore Lane on a brisk December morning. Their short honeymoon to the coastal Carolinas was over, and now Mr. and Mrs. Fields were content to settle into their new life.

Their life together was new, but their surroundings were not. I had known Ellie since she was a newborn. Her parents moved into the family home, built by the Caster side of the clan just after the Civil War. Always a bright and cheerful child, she could be found picking daisies in the backyard or playing hide-and-seek with her friends in the expansive rooms of her beloved home.

“I’m never leaving this house,” she told her mother at breakfast one morning when she was a mere five years old.

“Oh, really, young miss? What happens when Prince Charming arrives on his white horse to take you to his castle?” her mother, Sarah Caster, asked with a smile.

“I won’t go.”

“You won’t go if Prince Charming wants to marry you?”

“No, he will have to live with me here on Sycamore Lane.”

Sarah gave her daughter a peck on the cheek and tousled her hair. “You know this house stays in the family, and heaven knows your brother has no interest in living here after he finishes school, so you are welcome to this castle.”

Ellie grinned, and her missing front tooth revealed a pink tongue. She was delighted at the idea of making this her castle, and she never let go of that dream.

Ellie spent her childhood days imagining she was a character inside the elaborate, imaginative tales she spun as she played or sat watching the fire in the living room. She read books by the hour and wiled away sunny afternoons in the woods found just past the boundary of the backyard. Don’t get me wrong. She was social, too. Friends were numerous, and Ellie was invited to her fair share of parties. That’s how she met Emmett.

He was a fine looking young man, two years older than she was. He attended school in the neighboring town of Alton which was why they hadn’t met sooner. In those days, young people didn’t travel any great distance from home. Jake Olsen’s 18th birthday party brought them together one April evening. It was love at first sight, as the saying goes, and those two were inseparable until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and Emmett answered the call to defend our country. Emmett Fields was a good man.

After the war ended, Ellie’s parents moved to Chicago to be closer to her brother, Dale, and his wife, Laura, and their two young children. The war had separated Dale and Laura too, and now that Dale attended the university under the G.I. Bill, and they planned on having a third child as quickly as possible, Ellie’s parents, Sarah and Henry, decided it was time to be closer to the grandchildren. Sarah and Henry had tired of the same routine and believed a change of scenery would be good for them. Dale, who was always Henry’s favorite, appreciated their help around his place. Ellie didn’t take offense to her parents’ departure. It meant, after all, that her castle awaited her and her prince.

Years passed as Ellie and Emmett settled into a life of their own. Children came. First, little Raymond arrived, followed closely by blonde-haired Lucy. Emmett opened a lumber and hardware business to accommodate the booming housing market, while Ellie maintained the home and raised the children. She volunteered generously at the veterans’ hospital, always thankful that Emmett had returned from the war unscathed. Ellie also chartered the town’s first Garden Club.

The yard smelled divine throughout most of the year. Jasmine, clematis, honeysuckle, as well as several varieties of flowering trees and shrubs, decorated 1472 North Sycamore Lane. Ellie was known for her exquisite rose bushes, and she grew a vegetable garden that could have fed a dozen families. The extra produce she shared with the wives who lost their providers during the war. Unfortunately, that number was high in our little town. Platoons were made up of young men from the same community, so when a platoon took a hard hit, say at Iwo Jima or the Battle of the Bulge, a generation of young men was wiped out all at once in a small town. The names of all the boys we lost will forever dwell with me. War is hell.

Ellie and Emmett had the normal ups and downs. Some years were happy ones; others were sad. They celebrated birthdays, Christmases, and other happy occasions. There was sadness too, as they lamented the passing of both of Ellie’s parents. The children grew, and while they brought much joy, they also brought stress and anxiety to Emmett and Ellie. When Raymond left to go to Vietnam, I thought Ellie’s heart was going to break. She stopped eating, and Emmett even took her to see Doc Harris. Those were some tense days as we waited for Raymond to return, but return he did. Life moved forward with the passing of time.

Grandchildren arrived. Lucy gave Ellie and Emmett a brood of youngsters to dote over. Her husband, Hal, an electrical engineer, provided an ample living for her and their six children. They lived a few blocks away on Hyacinth Street, and most days were filled with the children’s laughter and play. Raymond added three more to the mix. He lived nearby as well.

Oh, how Ellie enjoyed the sound of little feet running through her expansive three-story home. Her favorite place to spend time with them was in the living room with its fireplace. She spent hours reading to the grandchildren. Ellie was a good storyteller herself. She spun yarns of far-away places with castles and dragons. The fire crackled and the children’s eyes widened as Ellie concocted one tale after another.

Sometimes, she couldn’t believe her good fortune.

“Who would have thought?” she said one night as she nestled into bed next to Emmett.

“Who’d have thought what?”

“All those years ago when we met at Jake’s party… Who’d have thought that today we’d be where we are.”

“I don’t know, El. It seems to me you always knew you were going to be here.” Emmett winked.

Ellie gave him a gentle slap on the shoulder. “You know what I mean. Of course, I always wanted to live in this house. I mean who would have thought we’d have built such a fine life with a house full of beautiful grandchildren always running in and out? Our children are happy and successful, and sometimes our good fortune just brings tears to my eyes.”

“I knew what you meant, dear. Yes, the Lord has truly blessed us. Now let’s get some rest. We have that big day of shopping and checkups at the doc’s tomorrow.”

A quick hug and kiss, and the lovebirds were sound asleep.

Many good memories were made on Sycamore Lane, but not all were happy. Sometimes heartache hits even the happiest of homes. I loved Emmett as much as I loved Ellie, even though I’d known her since the day she was born. The news Emmett received that next day at the doctor was worse than any of us could have imagined. He passed before the next Christmas came. Ellie was devastated.

Raymond and Lucy both asked her to come stay with them.

“Mom, it’s not good for you to stay in that drafty old house alone. What if something happens to you?”

“I’m not leaving my home. I miss your father terribly, but that house has been my heart since I was a child. I’m not leaving it. I never feel alone as long as I’m there.”

Persistent requests for her to move were ignored.

“What if you fall, or what if the weather turns bad and the power goes out, leaving you with no heat?”

“I’ll be fine. There’s wood on the back porch, and I have my fireplace. I won’t go cold. You don’t have to worry about me.”

Ellie proved them right. She had frequent company and was never alone. Members of the Garden Club visited, and her kindnesses to the war widows were never forgotten. Someone was always checking on her, making sure she wanted for nothing. The grandchildren continued to visit, and young Elisa was as fond of the old house as Ellie had been as a child.

“Grandma, I want to live here someday.”

“I’ll tell you what, little one—”

“Grams,” she interrupted. “I’m fifteen. I’m not that little.”

“Well, you’ll always be my little Punkin’.” Ellie and Elisa exchanged a hug. “Since none of the other children have any interest in living here, I’ll make sure you get it when it’s my time to go.”

“Let’s hope that’s not for a long time, Grandma.”

“I’ll go when the good Lord wants to call me to his home, Elisa. Until then, you focus on your studies and become that nurse you’ve always said you wanted to be.”

Elisa and the other grandchildren beat a steady path to 1472 North Sycamore Lane. Even as they grew up, moved away, and began their own lives, they never stayed away from their grandmother for long. Ellie’s home was where everyone went to feel safe and relaxed.

Time passed, and slowly Ellie’s health declined.

“Mom, it’s time you move in with us or go to a nursing home,” Lucy told her.

Stubborn as always, she refused to abandon the place she loved. “I’m not going to leave my home. Just stop that nonsense.”

During Elisa’s last year of nursing school, Ellie passed peacefully in the night.

Now, here I am, alone. Elisa isn’t moving in until May, and I sit empty for the first time in decades. Some of you may have heard that expression, “If this old house could talk, what would it say?”

Now you know.

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Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Doug Blackford: The Menagerie

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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(Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)

The Menagerie

By Doug Blackford

It was a room, but it was as if whoever had built it had done so from a picture or painting with no idea of its purpose or what was outside of it. Actually, that was exactly the case.

It had four walls, a ceiling, and a floor, like most normal rooms. The forest green paint on the wooden walls was faded and peeling, revealing the sea green of the previous color, and the gray primer beneath that in places. The floor was bare pine, worn yellow with age. Its faint scent had disappeared long ago. The traces of hardened resin that had once sealed the nails gave silent testament to the passage of time.

One of the walls had a door and a fireplace set in it. The door was functional, as far as the function of a door was concerned. He chose not to think about the door whenever possible. It looked much like the rest of the wall, but with hinges on one side and a knob on the other. Same color, same fading and peeling, same … normal. It was what lay beyond the door that caused him to ignore it. As much as he hated this room, he hated beyond the door more.

The fireplace, however, was not functional. It was made of red brick, the mortar crumbling in several places. A single log of unburnt wood, either oak or hickory, rested within. There was no mantle to speak of, but a stone hearth was inset in the floor before it. Although the inside of the fireplace was soot-covered, and the hearth appeared touched by heat and flame, there was no scent of wood or smoke to indicate any kind of recent use, much like the pine flooring and sealing resin — much like the entire room.

It wasn’t so much the lack of scents that bothered him as much as it was the wrong ones. They weren’t strong, but they were there — antiseptic, metal, plastic. At least, that was the closest his brain could make of them. It wasn’t their fault really. They had no comparison for him, and without them, he would probably be dead by now. He wasn’t entirely sure he wouldn’t prefer that option, but they made sure he never had that kind of opportunity.

The only other thing in the room was the chair — wood and wicker, dark cherry and reeds. He hated that chair. The words to explain and express how much he hated that chair did not exist in any language he knew, and he knew a few. He contained the sum knowledge of his species, or at least as much as had been able to fit in his head. Language, music, art, history — there had been many like him sent out to the stars. They had been a last effort to preserve the species — to say, “We were here!” He had no way to know how many of them reached other civilizations, or what had become of them if they had. He didn’t even know how many years, or centuries, or longer, had passed while he drifted through the void of space in suspension. He only knew his own fate. The chair.

They had let him keep the picture, or rather, a facsimile of it. He took it out and read the caption.

A room is what you make of it.

He understood that the room stood for more than just a room. It was his mind, his life, everything over which he could exercise some control — everything that allowed him a choice. Being in this room was like being inside a representation of his will, and a reminder of how few were his choices.

He put the picture away and sat in the chair. It was better than incurring their wrath. He heard the not-quite-silent glide of the wall behind him as it opened to reveal the area on the other side. An orange ambience came through, created by the red and yellow suns in the sky. It gave the room a glow almost like a sunrise or sunset. It was strange and unvarying, but almost familiar and the sole thing that made the chair worth the effort. It was the only sunlight he ever saw, but he had made a choice that it would not be the last sunlight he saw. He didn’t know how he would resolve that choice, but he stood by it … every day.

He just sat there as the gawkers passed by, paused, then moved on. Some were more insistent and tapped or banged on the transparent wall but he didn’t acknowledge them. They seemed to be of all shapes and sizes to his untrained eyes. There were bipeds, quadrupeds, tripeds, tall, short, thin, wide, spidery, cyclopean — all sorts. The few cages he could make out opposite his own were just as varied, and at least one seemed to possess more than just an animal intelligence. He had tried communicating using his world’s universal sign language, and more primitive forms of conceptual signs, but to no avail. They were all just part of some great menagerie — some sort of zoo as far as he could tell.

Today was just another day like every other day. They wouldn’t give him anything with which he might be able to injure himself, but he had to do something to pass the time. That typically meant talking to himself, though he did it by reciting what he knew. He would speak about history and art, speak in different languages, sing songs, whatever he felt in the mood to hear out loud. Today, a way out would present itself. Today, he felt like Shakespeare.

If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

Malcolm smiled. It was not a pleasant smile, but they wouldn’t know that.

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Write the Story: February 2019 Collection