Calliope Njo: The Mistress and The Servant

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 Mistress and The Servant

Calliope Njo

However unusual it was, a day with nothing to do did happen. All too happy to enjoy the day, I got the servants’ boat to use for a little while. This bit of freedom would never last long. 

The boat did not belong to the king, because it was rather plain looking, and the fact it did not present well with visible patches. The staff kept it to use on their own time and would fix it as the need arose. 

After asking around, I took the boat out to the lake. The sun was bright that day. The long cold nights with snow- and ice-covered land did indeed melt. Perfect day to enjoy. 

I pushed it out far enough so I could still get in without getting too wet. At last, in the middle of the water and all around were trees. As green as could be. They seemed to have grown during the winter season as they poked the clouds. They somehow looked taller than I remembered. If I looked to my left, a cliff stretched over the water. Two people were on it, but too far away to recognize who they were. 

The birds sang their song. A bright tune. Maybe happy that the dark grey skies came to an end at last. 

I turned around when something splashed. I rowed over as fast as I could to take a look. I didn’t want to grab their hair. I knew that pain and I knew it well. I tapped instead and didn’t get a response. I reached into the water and felt for a chin that I could maybe tip up and out. 

I did that and found out it was the king’s daughter. Everybody knew her sculpted face with long raven hair. Why would she end up in the water though? That was a question only she could answer. The better question was how to get her out? 

She had a shirt on, so I used that to tug her along while I made it to shore. It was a long and slow trip back but for the lack of a better idea… 

I dragged her up the shore and rested her against a boulder. After catching my breath, I patted her cheek. No response yet, so I tried a little harder. “Mistress. Mistress.” I sat back and waited after I heard a groan. 

She turned and looked at me. I knew those eyes as I had seen them pointed at me as she yelled for not doing things as she told me to do them. Some said they were the eyes of her mother. Those of us who have been around her for a long time called them evil eyes. 

“You.” She reached back and tried to push off the ground but sat back down again. She turned towards me again. Strange how her eyes turned white. “Someone on my staff tried to get rid of me. I need you to get me a serum. Something to dull the effects until I can get to an apothecary.” 

“Mistress, I need to know what it was.” 

“Isn’t there a general dulling serum?” 

“No such thing exists.” 

She looked at me as her eyes turned black. “How would you know? You’re one of the mindless ones.” 

I gritted my teeth. I would carry that label forever since my prior owner made that lie known. “I am not mindless. If I was, you would not be here. Early in my life, I did serve someone who spent their days and nights mixing serums. He would always laugh when someone asked for such a thing. There was no remedy like that.” 

She closed her eyes and groaned. “All right then. Is there anything you can recommend?” 

“If you can describe to me the smell or taste, I could come up with something that might help. I am in no way trained, but I do know a few things.” 

“Clear liquid, like water. Bitter with a slight flower taste. The most awful thing I ever tasted.” 

It sounded familiar. “It didn’t smell like anything at first, but the more you drank it the more sort of a pungent odor became known?” 

“Yes. You know the remedy?” 

“Yes. However, the ingredients are not here. They would be in the mountains above. It would take time. I’m not sure how much time you have.” 

She gave me a sideways glance and laughed. “Oh, the irony.” She laughed again. “OK then. You better get moving. I’m not going anywhere. If I die in the meanwhile, then maybe the animals here would make a meal out of me.” 

“Mistress?” 

“Go. Go. Go on now. The sooner you leave, the sooner you can get back.” 

“Yes, Mistress.” 

“We will talk more when you return.” She waved me away. 

I may have had strong feelings that pointed to hate, but she needed mercy at that moment. So, I went. 

I knew the trail I needed to take. It would be easier if I had an animal underneath me, but they would need care that I couldn’t spare the time to do. Maybe someone wouldn’t mind a stranger riding with them. 

As luck had it, a family filled a wagon with their goods to go up the same trail I needed to take. I could ride with them as long as I promised to look after their children. I did that and it made the trip a lot easier. 

We parted ways at the first village we came to. I needed to go up farther, but thanks to them, it wouldn’t be such a long way. Taking care of their children wasn’t so bad. The baby needed her mother’s attention, but the older ones I amused with stories and games. 

At the top of the hill, there was a body of water. A river from the sounds of it. Perfect for what I needed. This particular plant grew in rushing cold water. The roots and the stems had something in it that could neutralize what the Mistress took. It tasted awful and felt even worse in the mouth. It did work though. 

After I gathered some, the way back was easier because it was downhill. The sun had set for the night and that meant I couldn’t go anywhere until the sun rose again. With the plants in my hands, I lay down under a tree for the night. Not so cold and the ground was dry. 

Why was it, I had the awful luck of the sun rays poking me when it rose? I couldn’t linger anyway. I needed to get back. 

I was familiar with the flora around the area and picked some wild berries as I went along. It wasn’t much but it could sustain until I got back. Maybe a few extra to help chase away the bad flavor of the roots. 

Once I made it back to the lake, I found her again still leaning up against the rock. I shook her shoulder to get her attention. 

“I thought you forgot about me.” She laughed and opened her eyes. 

“What I am about to give you will taste bad and feel even worse in the mouth. But it must be done. It’s best to eat rather than drink anything I could derive from the plants. It works better that way.” 

She gave me a sideways glance. This time her eyes turned grey. “Oh, dragon’s breath. I think the last time I heard that was when father tried to get me to eat something the hunter’s brought in. He didn’t even know what it was. He wanted me to eat it to tell him about it.” She held out her hand. “I survived that so I’m sure I can survive this.” 

“Yes, Mistress.” She held out her hand. 

I put the roots in her hand and watched as she ate them. She kept making faces as she chewed on them. A hard swallow later she looked at me. “Tell me that was all I had to take.” 

“Yes, Mistress.” 

“Good. I think there’s something you didn’t tell—” She turned around to the other side and threw up. 

That was when I left her to find something to use as a water vessel. Something kept hitting my leg. I looked down and found a cup. It looked like one of the kids’ cups. One of them must’ve tied it on me when I was playing with them. 

I untied it and used that to get some water. When I got back, I put the cup in her hand. “Drink this.” 

“If this is more of what I ate, I will see to it you get the same for the rest of your life.” 

“It is water.” 

She drank the water and held out the cup. Somehow the berries didn’t get squashed at all along my journey. I put them in the cup and gave it back to her. “I hope these will help.” 

She grabbed the cup and put it up to her mouth. She chewed. “These are good. Where did you find these?” 

“Along the same trail as I found the roots.” 

“Won’t Father be surprised when I show up?” She laughed. “Give me a little bit of time before we head back. There’s something I need to do yet.” 

I looked over toward the lake and noticed the sky. “It won’t take long before the sun sets for the day. We can make the trip in the morning. It will give the roots time to work.” 

She nodded before her head dropped back. I didn’t have any blankets with me, but the dry leaves might work well enough to keep the chill air off her body. I piled them on top of her as much as I could before I went back to the water. 

Between a rock and a stick, I was able to make myself a spear. It took a bit, but I did catch some fish. I remembered trying to eat raw fish when I was younger. There was something about it that repulsed me. Having remembered that, I took the time and effort to start a fire to cook the fish. 

I left the innards by the lake for some of the small animals to take. I hoped that would be enough for them to stay away from us. I cooked two. One to have now and one to give her in the morning. I only had a fresh leaf to wrap it in to keep for the night. 

Cooking done, I put aside the morning meal and doused the fire. I put my hand on her leg to check her body temperature and she wasn’t cold. I lay down next to her to get a little sleep. 

As expected, the sun poked me in the eyes. I got up and ran to the bushes. After that, I got the fish and put it in my lap when I woke her up. 

“Let me guess. It’s time to behead the prisoners?” 

“No.” 

“It’s time to poison the kitchen staff?” 

“No.” 

“It’s time to kill the horses so we can get new ones?” 

“No. It’s time to eat. I cooked a fish yesterday so you can eat it before we leave. It should still be all right.” 

“There goes my amusement.” She reached out her hand. 

I gave it to her. She opened her eyes and they were blue. The river roots worked. They did their job. So, all we had to do was get back to the castle. 

I left her to look around and find someone to take us to the castle. I was fine by myself, but with the Mistress, she would demand a better means of transport. 

“So, what are we looking for?” 

I turned around and looked up. For some reason, I forgot how tall she was. “I was looking for someone to take you back to the castle. I can walk back but you must need something to take you.” 

“Since you are walking, so can I. Let’s go.” 

She was the Mistress so I had to do what she told me to do. It was an uphill journey and I thought that since she was well enough to stand then she would be well enough to walk. 

We passed through the village and onto the trail between the trees of the apple orchard. The leaves started to grow back so it shouldn’t be too long before they fruit. I saw the familiar smoke as it made its way up the chimney. It came from the cooking fires of the kitchen. 

I stopped and turned around before we entered through the back. “Mistress, I hope you are well.” I bowed. “I wish you much peace.” I watched the ground to see her leave. Then I could stand. With the guards around, I needed to be careful. 

“You can stand up, you know.” 

“The guards will know.” 

“Guards. Shmards. I know the lot of them and all of them owe me something. So stand up straight.” 

I did that and expected to hear the alert horns. They did sound. It didn’t take long before they arrived. 

“Let me take care of this. This I can do.” She turned towards the guards. “Oh, let me see. The five of you in the back.” 

I heard clanking, which could’ve been their feet coming together. 

“The bunch of you go and find the king’s advisor. Put him in holding. Lock and secure the area before you leave. Let him stand there. Do not pay any attention to him. When you are done, start a hot bath for me, would you? My unexpected journey made me need one. No, I’m not asking.” 

They ran away from the area. 

“The bunch of you in the front. Each one of you had something to do with my unexpected trip away. I never forgive. All of you lost your rank and privilege and will have living nightmares. Let me explain. You will have a nightmare. That is not a matter of if but a matter of when. You will stay in that nightmare until your demise.” She waved her hand in front of all of them and they lost their armor. 

I tried everything in me to keep from laughing. The one time I dared to look up and it happened to be that time. 

“Why are you sorry excuses still standing there?” 

They side-stepped away from the area. I looked back down when she came back towards me. 

“And you, my little servant. I need you to do me one last favor. I know where he got the herb that he gave me. That leaves you to get the herb you gave me. That leaves you to go get it. In the meanwhile, I will let my dear Father know what happened.” She bent down and kissed my cheek. “Now shoo.” 

“Uh… Mistress?” 

“Later. Those awful things now.” 

I nodded and ran up to go get some. They were never hard to find. All one needed to do was look for a river. The only thing that mattered was using them before they dried up. Without water, they tended to do that in a hurry. 

On the way back, I made a detour to go back to the lake to get the boat. Lucky for me it was still there. I put the boat back where I found it. I grabbed the plants from the bottom of the boat before leaving to give them to the Mistress. 

I bumped into someone. Without looking, I bowed. “So sorry for being thoughtless and rude.” 

“I wondered what kept you. If you told me about the boat, I would have sent someone to get it. Besides that, that boat isn’t worth saving.” 

“It is all we have, Mistress.” 

“We’ll talk about that later. The herb?” She held out her hand. 

I gave them to her and went about my afternoon duties. The animals were kept in the back part of the lot. Far enough away so that it didn’t matter which way the wind blew, the king wouldn’t be able to notice their presence. I went to clean up after them and to be sure they were fed. 

On my way back to the cooking area, I received word that the king’s advisor’s assistant needed my attention. No time to clean up, I rushed to his room on the other side of the castle. The corner most room with no sun. It was always shady whenever he sent for me. 

When I arrived, I crouched down on the floor. “You sent for me, Master.” 

“Well. Well. Well. The little bag of nothing saved the dear princess. Her father’s daughter. The one who was destined to take the crown.” He grabbed my hair and lifted me up. “That golden crown of jewels belonged to no one but my master.” He threw me down on the floor. “That concoction was supposed to put her to sleep. While a gentle push would land her in the water where she would drown. The poor father would be so stricken with grief that his little girl perished. He would be so vulnerable to any suggestions made to him. It would’ve been so easy.” 

So it wasn’t the advisor like Mistress thought. What now? Would he end my life? 

“You are looking rather fat. I like my servants small and skinny.” He came towards me and ripped off the clothes I wore. I tried to cover myself but he grabbed my arms before I could. That was when he looked down and laughed. “You’re with child. My child. If anybody found out—” 

He threw me down on the floor. I grabbed my clothes and put them on. I looked around for a way out. I had no idea why because I knew there was no way out. He stood in front of the door. 

He talked to someone, too quiet for me to hear. When he finished, he slammed the door. He came over and grabbed me. We left the room with my arm grasped in his hand. 

I dared to look around and recognized the route we took. It was to the bottoms. A place that was dark, damp, and disgusting. A place where they put people to be forgotten. 

Nothing lived down here. If they did, their innermost persons would not live for long. Trapped in darkness and despair. 

All the way back and as far down as this passageway got, was a holding area. It was a dungeon a long time back. No one told the king about it so we thought nobody knew. Somehow though, this man found it and brought me there. 

No light. No persons. No hope. The last place anyone would be put and expected to survive. 

I was put somewhere and pushed inside before I heard the gate close. That was it. My life came to an end.

Please visit Calliope on her blog: https://calliopenjosstories.home.blog/

Anita Wu: Price of Chocolate

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! 

Images are free-use and do not require attribution. Image by Tapani Hellman from Pixabay

Price of Chocolate

Anita Wu

The light pointed at the apex of the makeshift tent, our blanket tied to the wooden frame of the bunk bed, and cast a soft glow on us as we lay beside each other, pretending that the stars twinkled in the blanket sky and that we were at the lake not too far away.

“I still think the fireflies are friends,” I blurted, still keeping my voice low since the other girls were likely asleep. I did not want another lecture in the morning for waking them again. “I knew my stories before yours. And first impressions like to stick around.” I made excuses.

Ullian grabbed my face and turned it towards her. Her soft hazel eyes, the ones that never appeared to hold the secrets that I knew she kept and the ones that always looked down whenever someone spoke to her, narrowed as she hissed, “The fireflies of the lake took my mother’s life in exchange for her wish. How many times do I have to tell you they are not our friends? Never seek them out.”

Her mouth was a fine line, as it tended to be every time the topic was brought up.

“Yes, yes.” I nodded as I grabbed the last piece of chocolate from under the pillow we were sharing tonight. I held the treasure between my fingertips, proud to have swiped the delicacy earlier when I was cleaning the dinner table. “Have the last bite,” I offered her. 

“Cheer up. I’m not going anywhere,” I promised as my best friend gave a half-smile and accepted her favorite sweet. Sold by my own family a few months ago, I did not have the choice to leave anyways. But I would never betray the trust of this girl I had come to know.

An orphan “adopted” by the family her late mother last served, she experienced more pain than any sweets could hope to soothe. The least I could do was not become another agonizing hole to add to her history.

***

“Stole another chocolate, peasant?” The unnecessary slur pulled me from my trance as I hid a piece of chocolate in my sleeves. I slowed my stride as I entered the kitchen, a tray of empty plates in arm from clearing the lunch table for the Usher Family.

As I fell into step behind the other maids bringing in their dishes, I spied Ullian’s small back in the center of the kitchen, her hair in her usual neat bun. The chef towered over her, his arms crossed and his chest puffed as though he were trying to command more of the room, as if his physique needed help. His chin tilted upwards so that his eyes looked down on Ullian. His sneer had the slightest smirk, and it felt like he had been waiting for this opportunity for too long.

The other maids and I crossed the room, and I could see Ullian’s profile. Her head lowered, her eyes stared at the chef’s feet. Her countenance impassive, she always withstood any lectures in stride. Lectures were a common occurrence, she told me very early on, for those in authority felt the need to exert their dominance lest they lost it. She did not apologize any more than she needed to, which was once, she taught me. But she made sure to always look down, giving everyone else the illusion that they held the power and that she knew her place. 

The other kitchen assistants did not pay them any mind. They continued washing vegetables, chopping meat, and preparing sauces. They did not dare to pause their task, for offering the slightest help could be their own undoing.

“If the Ushers don’t finish their food, that goes into the trash.” The chef smiled, lips curled in plotting satisfaction. “You do not take their offer of morsels. You do not get a single bite of food. You do not take it from the trash.”

Ullian did not rebut a single word, even though she and everyone else knew that one never denied a member of the Family. If they offered food, we had to accept. If the offer was laced with poison, it would merely be our own ill luck. Maids were chosen at random to taste food at a moment’s notice if the Family developed even the slightest suspicions in their household. 

“Pathetic,” the chef spat as he looked down on her like a pest. “Just like your mother.”

I held my breath, knowing that any mention of her mother set her off. I watched as Ullian’s shoulders tensed, her head jerked just the slightest, and her palms curled into fists. She bit her lip, and I swore her cracked lips tore, and blood blossomed. 

I kept my eyes on her as I settled the plates on the counter to wash. Don’t do it, Ullian.

But she did. 

Ullian jumped at the chef, one hand aiming for his throat and the other his face. But the man was taller, larger, and Ullian never stood a chance. Almost immediately, he grabbed her by her collar, pulled her off, and threw her on the ground. I saw the thin line of blood on his cheek where Ullian’s surprise must have succeeded.

He cackled.

“I was wondering when you were going to break. When you would tear off that weak, innocent mask of yours. You’re just as dangerous as your mother with her devil’s tongue, spitting spells in secret. To honor her, I should send you to the witches.” His eyes gleamed, and I could spot the wrinkles beside them. 

Ullian said nothing as she sprawled at his feet, glaring at him, daring to hiss, while her hair fell out of her now messy bun.

“Fyre, send her to the basement. Tell the witch I have a gift for her, and that she can do whatever she’d like to her for the day.”

The girl who was monitoring the oven turned towards the chef and nodded. “Yes, sir.”

As Ullian was escorted out, we locked eyes for a moment before she turned her head away. None of the ten other girls in the kitchen appeared fazed.

***

When Ullian came back to the maids’ room late that night, she was silent. She passed my bunk bed, walked directly to her own in the corner, and dove under the covers. 

I followed and lay next to her. “Hey Ullian, are you okay?”

She offered me a glance, but the light was gone from her hazel eyes, and dark circles surrounded them. I noticed her cheek was red and swollen. She said nothing. 

I pulled the covers over both our heads and offered a different conversation. “Hey Ullian, how about we pretend to camp by the lake again? The crickets are playing your favorite lullaby, and the wind is knocking on our door, asking to come inside and spend the night.” I smiled at her, taking her away from this reality into our dreams, and tapped the blanket to replicate the wind’s knock. “But it’s already really chilly inside the tent, so maybe —”

“Just sleep.” She stopped me and closed her eyes. Her voice sounded cold, far away.

And I wondered what the witch did to her. I wondered why my best friend seemed to live no longer. No matter how tired or angry, she had never cut me off, and she had always taken the chance at dreaming.

“What happened in the basement?” I whispered, mostly to myself. Rumors of torture rooms, potions, and spells peppered the talk of the girls every time someone was sent to the witch, but no one ever seemed to know who started the stories. In fact, whenever Ullian or I tried to find out more, it was always just that: a story. Never confirmed, never “true.” 

“Hey Ullian,” I tried once more. “I actually got another chocolate in the morning. But they won’t find out this time, I promise. It’s just half a piece too, so chef can’t even find out —”

Ullian grabbed my wrist and squeezed, digging her nails into my skin. It sent such pain that I was sure it would leave a lasting mark. Her eyes flew open, her eyebrows knitted together, and her mouth contorted in a hiss. I saw fangs where I knew once held normal human teeth. What had they done to her?

“Stop,” she yelled at me, anger burning in her eyes yet holding no light. No hope. “You’re going to get me killed. What are you risking? Do you even know the price you have to pay? For a stupid speck of chocolate.”

“Shut the hell up,” one of the girls yelled from across the room. “Go to sleep.”

Ullian flung my arm away as if I held poison and glared at me before turning around, showing me only her back. 

***

I didn’t see Ullian the next morning. She had disappeared by the time I woke up, and I did not see her in the kitchen when I took the selection of pastries to the family for breakfast or when I came to grab the roast chicken for lunch.

When I came back with the dishes in the afternoon and the chef was absent, I took a chance with Fyre. “Have you seen Ullian?”

Fyre scoffed at me and kept cutting the herbs. 

“Your chocolate sent her to the witches again,” another girl piped up, almost a laugh. I turned and stared at her as she poured liquids into containers. I thought I saw a smile on her lips.

“No…” I whispered. A second visit to the witch was equivalent to a death sentence. 

We had never seen a girl again after she had been sent to the witches two days in a row. No one spoke of it, but everyone knew this as fact. There would be less talk, just silent walks; and when our eyes would meet one another, we knew someone was gone. A new body always replaced the old before the week was over, and no one was allowed to mention her name again, or they would be met with the same fate. 

I stumbled out of the kitchen, and I could feel the girls’ eyes on my back. They had taken Ullian, the one person I had, and I was alone again. I had promised her I would stay by her side, yet my chocolates took her away. 

In a trance, I walked. I didn’t notice if I passed anyone, but no one seemed to stop me. I brought myself to the hidden trap door beside the stairs that led to the basement. I had stumbled upon a dent in the wooden floor that seemingly felt out of place during my first week here, when I spent every second away from surveillance to explore every nook and when I still dreamed of leaving. Ullian found me that day I planned to leave. 

What’s waiting for you outside this prison? People? Food? Anyone who ends up here usually has nothing left to return to.

It made me pause. She confided in me that she stayed because it was a better choice. Here we were slaves, but we were fed, clothed, and sheltered. The world did not promise the same outside these walls. So she offered me a friend and a reason to stay.

But if my reason was no longer here, perhaps elsewhere was a better choice.

***

Through the darkness, my sight was taken. So, I relied on others. My hands felt the rough concrete until it turned to rock, then to slimy wetness which forced my fingers away. I realized I could not continue without feeling. My ears heard each time my feet slipped on an odd rock, picked up on the constant drip that seemed never-ending, noticed when my feet seemed to splash in water. I felt the cold draft at some point before the light teased me in the distance.

That was when I ran. 

I was met with a body of water. Murky. Pieces of plastic or garbage littered every few feet, and the stench gave my empty stomach the urge to hurl. Along the water lived a mangrove with withering leaves, and I waded along until I spotted something in the distance.

A boat sat anchored where the first set of trees ended and the area opened up. The water was clearer here. Cleaner. Nicer. I spotted a tent on the open space as though someone lived here at night and stared at the sky like Ullian and I often pretended to do.

Ullian would have loved it here.

But she would never have the chance to see what I saw. And it was no one’s fault but my own. If I had not taken the chocolate, would the light still be in her eyes? Would I still have her?

The tears fell down my cheeks, and my body shook as I let the cries escape my lips, as I stood half drenched in water, and as I held onto the exposed root of a nearby tree. My chest throbbed, and I could do nothing but be a helpless shell of a body without an idea of what came next.

“My, oh my…” a light voice pitied me. I turned to my left towards the sound but, through my tears, saw nothing.

“Don’t worry, dear. You’re not going crazy. I’m just too small to see.” The voice was louder, more cheerful, almost like It was laughing. “I shine when it’s dark though, and you can see me from far.”

The fireflies of the lake. 

“Ohhh, so you know of me.” It sounded as though It circled around me, the sound reverberating from everywhere. “That makes it easier.”

Nothing can get easier now. Ullian warned me that the world was harsher outside. Why was I even here?

“Ullian, you say? That name brings back memories.” It giggled. “How about I grant you a wish?”

No, I don’t want a wish. I just want my best friend. I just want to undo everything. 

“Oh, but what are you willing to pay?” The voice perked up. “To have something, you must give up something of equal or greater value.”

Fireflies of the lake. Never seek them out.

The tears welled up in my eyes, and I shut them closed.

“A life for a life,” it sang to me.

Please visit Anita on her blog: https://soreispeaks.wordpress.com/

DR. PAUL’S FAMILY TALK PODCASTS: Mike Kavanagh

Mike Kavanagh, a “Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Coach & Consultant in Well-Being and Human Performance” from Chicago, Illinois, joins host Paul W. Reeves to discuss his books – including the #1 Amazon Bestseller – “COACH’S PLAN” – as well as his training and coaching philosophies.

FROM HIS BIO:

“Kavanagh is also the author of several books, including the #1 Amazon Bestseller—COACH’S PLAN: The Personal Productivity System That Changed My Life, WHAT IS YOUR CALLING? The Journey to Find Work You Love, and THE SUCCESSFUL MANAGER: A Guide to Building and Leading High-Performing Teams.

Kavanagh has two decades of experience training and coaching people on a range of practices for enhancing personal well-being and performance, including formal training as a breathwork teacher, a meditation teacher, a behavior change specialist, and a fitness coach.

​Kavanagh also has 17 years of experience as an advisor to C-level leaders of Fortune 1000 companies and as a C-level corporate executive himself, making a name for himself by helping some of the most well-known names in business develop their strategies, launch new businesses, and build an army of high potential leaders capable of driving significant growth for their companies.”

www.mikekav.com

Listen to the Podcast Here:

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Look for additional Dr. Paul’s author interviews in the coming weeks on the page found on the menu bar. Enjoy!

Impact Radio USA

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Welcome to ​IMPACT RADIO USA, where we strive to provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

As we are continuing to add content on a daily basis, please feel free to click on the “LISTEN NOW” button at the top of the page to hear us 24 hours a day. While you are here, please check out all of our links to our shows, our podcast page, our blog, and learn how YOU can host your own show with us.  Thank you for listening to IMPACT RADIO USA!!!

Impact Radio USA ListenNow

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Paul W. Reeves 

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Paul W. Reeves is an author, radio talk show host, educator, composer/arranger, and professional musician!

Listen to “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA and visit Paul’s websitehttps://paulwreeves.com for more information on his books and CDs.

https://www.impactradiousa.com/

Michele Sayre: The Written Road – An Origin Story

The Written Road – An Origin Story

I started toying with the idea of doing a how-to writing book around the same time as “Breaking Radio Silence” and “Stand or Fall” with some personal experiences mixed in. But then I had a thought one day:

My relationship with writing is complicated.

And as I asked myself why that was, I fell down another rabbit hole like with the other two books and had to take a whirl around the demented Wonderland of my past to answer that question. One answer that jumped out at me and knocked me back hard was this:

Did my father try to use writing to deal with his untreated mental illness?

All my life my father told me he had been diagnosed as manic-depressive, now referred to as bi-polar depression but had refused treatment. I can’t independently verify that diagnosis (as my father is dead and he had no proof to show me when he was alive). But after reading about bi-polar depression… let’s just say he would have checked pretty much all of the boxes for symptoms and behavior.

I was about eight years old when my dad blew an ulcer and in recuperation started writing. He wrote at first on yellow legal pads then hammered away on a typewriter in the bedroom next to mine late into the night. He was obsessive and a major pain the ass about his writing at times especially to my mother (who he raged at in incredibly-horrible ways). And when I began writing when I was about ten years old, I put myself in a precarious position of not wanting to be an asshole about my writing like he was but wanting to pursue it with the same passion like he had.

I’m sure people who knew my father, and even others who didn’t, won’t be comfortable with me referring to him in the ways that I will. But my father, and my mother (both of my parents are dead, by the way), would be the first ones to tell you they weren’t perfect. One thing I’ve read about bi-polar illness is the extreme mood swings people with that illness have and my father had those in full-blown stereo. But my writing journey is about me but he will be along for the ride just like my mother is along for the ride with my ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project.

I was around twelve years old when I decided I wanted to be a full-time working writer. In junior-high I wanted to be a songwriter/lyricist but I couldn’t find an Elton John to my wannabe Bernie Taupin. Then I wanted to be a journalist, then a screenwriter, a filmmaker-director, then a novelist. When I graduated high school I just wanted to write and my dad went to bat for me with my mom (though my mom only agreed to let me live at home and write if I did chores and errands, which I did without a second’s hesitation). Then my dad had his first heart attack when I was nineteen and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was twenty-one. But all throughout my twenties when I was living at home and taking care of them (and later working part-time then full-time), they supported my writing. They paid my writers’ group dues, conference fees, and made sure I had time to write. This wasn’t a popular decision of theirs with other people in my life at that time but my parents asked me not to say anything and I stayed silent to keep the peace. But the damage was done (and a lot of it you can also read about in my book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’).

In the years since my parents died, I didn’t fully pursue my writing and creative endeavors due to the extreme bullshit of my twenties that twisted me into a huge knot of fear. Luckily I’ve worked through that shit and un-knotted that fear and am now pursuing my writing with a passion and determination like never before.

Most of all, I have never taken writing for granted and it’s never felt like a grind to me. And I will never let anyone try to make it a grind for me, or shit all over me for writing. Despite all the bullshit I’ve been through and the time away from it, writing has always been there for me. And yes, it’s been a form of therapy for me, too. My father kept journals that he destroyed shortly before he died so I have a feeling that writing was his therapy, too. Mine is just more public than his, and I’m also not prone to huge mood swings and raging paranoia like him (just anxiety I’ve learned to gain a significant measure of control over).

So I would say ‘The Written Road’ is a memoir of my own writing journey, a conversation with my late father, and any writing how-to I can work in.

About the Author: Michele Sayre

Michele is a writer from Texas who has been writing since she was twelve years old. She writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry with the goal of self-publishing her own works someday. She’s also a single mom to a dog and a cat, and is saving up to buy a van to travel and write in someday.

Please visit Michele on her website: https://michelesayre.com/

SUCCESS PHILOSOPHIES WITH DR. CHUBACK: Episode 22

In our quest to assist writers in becoming the best they can be and remain motivated, we would like to introduce you to John Chuback, M.D. A cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Chuback found his goals waylaid by his lack of motivation.

In a series of interviews with Paul W. Reeves, host on Impact Radio USA, Dr. Chuback continues his discussion of the tools leading to success with his book “Make Your Own Damn Cheese: Understanding, Navigating, and Mastering the 3 Mazes of Success.”

Please click on the link below to hear Episode #22 of SUCCESS PHILOSOPHIES WITH DR. CHUBACK, the first episode in the second series, and start enhancing your journey toward success today.

DR. JOHN CHUBACK, a cardiovascular surgeon from New Jersey, is the author of, “Make Your Own Damn Cheese: Understanding, Navigating, and Mastering the 3 Mazes of Success,” “The Straight A Handbook – The 50 Most Powerful Secrets For Ultimate Success In And Out Of The Classroom” and other books.

DR. CHUBACK joins HOST PAUL W. REEVES weekly to discuss his books, “The Straight A Handbook – The 50 Most Powerful Secrets For Ultimate Success In And Out Of The Classroom” and “Make Your Own Damn Cheese“, each of which explores the human mind and becoming all that you can be.

Throughout this portion of the series, Dr. Chuback will discuss “Make Your Own Damn Cheese“, and the research behind his success philosophies.

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Audiobooks on Audible

The Straight a Handbook: The 50 Most Powerful Secrets for Ultimate Success in and Out of the Classroom Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Written by John Chuback, M. D.
Narrated by Paul W. Reeves, Ed. D

Click for Audible version on Amazon

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Previous Episodes of “Success Philosophies With Dr. Chuback”

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Dr. John Chuback

Picture

Dr. John Chuback was born and raised in Bergen County and graduated from the Dwight Englewood School. He earned his medical degree from New Jersey Medical School at UMDNJ, in Newark. Dr. Chuback then completed a five-year General Surgical Residency at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC). Dr. Chuback is the author of Make Your Own Damn CheeseKaboing, and The Straight A Handbook.

All books are available on Amazon. com. 

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Impact Radio USA

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Welcome to ​IMPACT RADIO USA, where we strive to provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

As we are continuing to add content on a daily basis, please feel free to click on the “LISTEN NOW” button at the top of the page to hear us 24 hours a day. While you are here, please check out all of our links to our shows, our podcast page, our blog, and learn how YOU can host your own show with us.  Thank you for listening to IMPACT RADIO USA!!!

Impact Radio USA ListenNow

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Paul W. Reeves 

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Paul W. Reeves, Ed. D. is an author, radio talk show host, educator, composer/arranger, and professional musician.

Listen to “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA and visit Paul’s websitehttps://paulwreeves.com for more information on his books and CDs.

https://www.impactradiousa.com/

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Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!: COUNSEL versus COUNCIL

Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author, and WU! admin, Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image from Pixabay.

COUNSEL versus COUNCIL

People often mix up the words counsel and council. Although these words sound the same, they have different meanings and uses. This should help to use them properly.

***

Counsel can be a noun meaning advice or guidance, or a verb meaning to give advice or guidance. It can also mean a legal adviser or lawyer. If you are referring to advice or guidance, use counsel.

Examples:

  • He went to the elders for counsel.
  • She counseled him about how to proceed.
  • Good advice and honest counsel can often help.
  • As charges were pending, he needed to find good legal counsel.
  • He wasn’t sure what to do and he asked for her counsel.
  • Although her parents gave good counsel, she ignored it.
  • Part of her job was to offer counsel to those who needed it.
  • His counsel said he would appeal the case.
  • He didn’t know what to do and asked for counsel.
  • She counseled the students about choosing a college.

***

Council is a noun meaning advisory group or meeting, or a group of people convened for advice or consultation. If you are referring to an advisory group, use council.

Examples:

  • The council meets every Wednesday.
  • If you have a problem, bring it up at the next council meeting.
  • She loved going to the council meetings.
  • The council will decide on the matter.
  • He asked the council to meet so they could discuss the issue.
  • She wanted to consult with the council before deciding.
  • The council members took a vote on the matter.
  • The city council decided to delay taking action.
  • She wanted to be president of the student council.
  • He rushed in so he would not miss the town council meeting.

***

If you mean advice or guidance, use counsel.

If you mean an advisory group, use council.

The school council gave good counsel to the students.

***

Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.

***

I hope you find this helpful. These tips and more grammar tips and tools are also on my website and blog, and also in my Grammar Tips book.

Thank you!

Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/
Grammar Tips Book – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N2BQMCG/

Lisa Criss Griffin: Large Marge

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! 

Images are free-use and do not require attribution. Image by Tapani Hellman from Pixabay

Large Marge

Lisa Criss Griffin

The scraping sound of the large green canoe parting the cattail stalks at the edge of the large farm lake surprised numerous napping, unsuspecting frogs. They all plopped noisily into the clear water after squeaking a quick warning to others. Ripples from the disturbance rolled across the surface of the water until they were no longer visible in the morning mist shrouding the surface of the lake.

Grammy quietly pulled her paddle through the water, heading for a secret spot only known to Pappy and herself. She smiled as she admired the iridescent glint of her granddaughter’s long dark hair in the pink morning light. This was eight-year-old Jewel’s first serious fishing expedition on the old farm lake. The girl had caught her fair share of ravenous perch and bluegill ever since she was old enough to operate a simple push-button rod and reel. But this was different and required a new level of skill and patience.

A sheen of tears glistened in Grammy’s eyes as she watched Jewel visually recheck the important knot attaching her carefully chosen, weedless bait. The hook was barely hidden inside the purple, gummy-like worm hanging from the end of her fishing line. A lovely grape smell wafted from the artificial lure, advertised as an additional attractant irresistible to their quarry. Grammy had never been completely convinced of that particular claim, but she found it much more pleasant than the “Oh, SO essential” noxious, smelly attractants favored by other fishermen. 

In a way, this morning was a rite of passage for Jewel. Fishing was a time-honored, generational bond shared between the women of their family. Of course, the boys and men in the family all loved fishing, but this was a sacred bond between the women. Grammy wasn’t entirely sure who had started it, all those generations ago, but it did go back over one hundred years. The most famous fisherman of their family matriarchal lineage was Grammy’s own grandmother, who held the prestigious state record for the largest smallmouth bass ever caught in Minnesota for many, many years. 

Eddies formed in the water around the polished wooden paddle as Grammy slowed and stopped the canoe within casting range of the secret spot. Songbirds were beginning to sing as they flitted about the trees in search of breakfast. Jewel’s striking blue eyes danced with anticipation as she carefully readied her equipment. Grammy nodded her approval, whispering the already well-known instructions to the excited child.

“Any time you are ready, Jewel. Flick it slow and easy to the edge of the peninsula, then let it sink. You will feel it hit the bottom. I usually let the worm sit there a moment before slowly reeling it back towards the boat.”

“How will I know when I have a fish, Grammy?”

“They like to suck in the bait and swim away with it, so pay attention to how your line feels in your hand. If the line starts going a different direction, let the fish take it and wait a moment before you set the hook.”

“What if nothing happens while I’m reeling?”

“Then you will reel it in and cast it again. Remember, these are smart fish. You will be trying to trick them into believing your bait is a yummy worm.”

“Grape is really yummy, Grammy.”

“Yes, it is.” Grammy giggled. “Just remember…it may take a lot of casts before the bait triggers the fish. This is very different than catching perch, sungrannies or bluegill.”

“Okay, Grammy. Here goes!”

The nylon line shimmered in the air. The purple worm plopped into the water, slowly sinking out of sight. Jewel had to force herself not to start reeling immediately. She felt the warmth of her Grammy’s approval as she waited. A large pileated woodpecker intruded on their solitude, insistently drumming away on a nearby tree trunk. 

The purple worm bumped slowly across the bottom of the lake, an occasional sparkle embedded in the bait glinting in the dim morning light. The worm stopped momentarily, then resumed its journey through moss and occasional twigs encountered along the way. A couple of curious fish stalked the progress of the tantalizing creature but lost interest as it wriggled to the surface and out of the water.

“Well done, my girlie girl!”

“But Grammy, I didn’t get a bite.”

“Not yet. But you played your worm very well. Throw it back out there a few more times. One of those fish will eventually hear the dinner bell.”

Jewel smiled and tossed her line back into the water seven more times, slowly and carefully working the purple worm. No bites. The wind began to pick up slightly, causing the light fog floating over the water to twist and twirl past the canoe like tiny tornados. A gray cloud bank was creeping across the horizon towards the lake.

“It looks like we may get some rain, my girl. Do you want to cast a few more times, or go on in?”

“Oh, just a couple more times Grammy. You know fish will start biting when a storm is coming in! Please?!”

“You do know your fishing lore! Go on. A little rain won’t hurt us.”

It happened on the second cast. The line suddenly turned and went in a completely different direction. The drag on Jewel’s pole squealed in protest. 

“Set the hook, baby! Set the hook!”

Jewel leaned back on the canoe bench, setting the hook. She tried to reel in the fish, but the line refused to budge. Her arms began to tremble from the effort required to keep the fish from stripping off more line. 

“Grammy! Grammy! I can’t reel it in!”

“Holy mackerel! You must have hooked Large Marge!!! Look! She’s pulling the canoe through the water!”

“What am I supposed to do, Grammy?”

“Hold on to her, honey! Let her pull us around awhile so she will get tired. Then you can reel her in, and I’ll net her. Lordy have mercy, Jewel! You’ve hooked Large Marge!!!”

Jewel glanced back at her Grammy, her feet firmly wedged against the inside front of the canoe. Her long, dark hair whipped around her youthful face in the burgeoning wind.

“How big is Large Marge, Grammy?”

“I’d venture to say she would be close to twenty pounds by now. None of us have seen her in a good long while. It never occurred to me she was still alive. Only the best, of the very best fishermen, have ever hooked Large Marge!! Wooooo…honey, hold on. I’ve got to try to keep her away from the shore if I can!”

Grammy skillfully used the big wooden paddle to add more drag and keep the canoe away from the bank. She could hear the rain coming. It wouldn’t be long before they would be soaking wet. It crossed her mind that the safe thing to do would be to cut the line and head for the house. She squashed that thought immediately. She refused to rob her granddaughter of this magnificent opportunity to catch Large Marge. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an important part of their family heritage.

“See if you can reel her in yet, Jewel!”

The little girl’s arms shook from the effort. The reel started turning!

“Keep reeling as much as you can! If she fights you, rest, and we will let her pull the canoe around some more to tire her out.”

The rain began in earnest, stinging the skin of the two determined fishermen in the green canoe. Large blobs of water jumped across the lake surface from the force of the rain. And yet, the young girl, her arms and legs shaking with fatigue, continued to reel in the legendary fish of the farm lake…the biggest largemouth bass in the area…Large Marge. Only she was now…Extra Large Marge.

The rain finally subsided, leaving a rainbow and an exhausted eight-year-old looking down into the water next to the canoe. Grammy slipped the biggest net she had under the gigantic bass, instantly feeling a connection with the magnificent creature. Large Marge and Jewel had locked eyes. The big, black, round eye of the monster bass mesmerized Jewel. Neither one of them moved, each assessing the worthiness of their competitor. Grammy had never seen a live largemouth bass of this size, ever. It would be a shame to kill her. Also, she looked like she was full of eggs. They would need to let her go. Grammy hoped Jewel would feel the same way. After all, she was the one who had caught Large Marge. This was a momentous decision that would help form Jewel’s strength of character.

“Grammy, did you bring a phone or a camera or something, so I can get a picture of Large Marge? I didn’t bring a phone.”

“No, honey, I didn’t. I am so sorry. I never dreamed Large Marge was still alive, or that you would catch her.”

“I have to let her go, Grammy. She is full of eggs, and this is her home. And she is as much a part of this farm as all of us.”

“Yes, I agree. Let me get the hook out with the pliers while you hold the net. Then you can say your goodbyes to your forever friend.”

“My forever friend, Grammy?”

“Why yes, honey. You both fought long and hard…and gave it your all. Because you are unselfish and kind, your new friend Large Marge and her babies get to live. And you’ve caught and released the biggest largemouth bass I have ever seen in my entire life!”

“But Grammy. No one will ever believe me. I don’t have any proof other than you seeing Large Marge too.”

“It is enough that you, me, God, and Large Marge know the truth. And we will add this adventure to our family fishing history because it is true. It is amazing and you deserve the recognition of being one of the most outstanding fisherwomen in our family.”

The hook removed, Grammy pulled the net out from under Large Marge. The gigantic largemouth bass hovered next to the canoe for a moment, her fins swirling the water gently to keep her in place. Unexpectedly, Large Marge rocketed away, circled back, and jumped completely out of the water next to the green canoe before crashing back into the lake. Grammy and Jewel quickly grasped the sides of the canoe as it rocked side to side, laughing out loud.

“Let’s go in, Jewel. That gigantic fish has worn me out!”

“We can tell Pappy, can’t we, Grammy? Pappy will believe us!”

“Yes, of course, honey. Of all the people we know in this world, Pappy will believe us.”

***

The two of them found Pappy sitting on the covered deck overlooking the big farm lake muttering to himself. He was holding something with both hands. He looked up, a note of disbelief in his gruff voice.

“It surprises me to no end that these electronic tablet thingies take pretty good videos and great pictures. But I have to ask…are they known for their accuracy? Because…well, I know for a fact…that behemoth largemouth bass I just filmed on here is much, much bigger than our legendary gal, Large Marge.”

Pappy grinned mischievously, his pearly white teeth gleaming under his silvery goatee as he basked in the delighted squeals and damp hugs from both of his beloved fisherwomen.

“You know girls, I think we’d better get a bigger canoe.”

—————

Copyright © 2022 Lisa Criss Griffin
All rights reserved

Please visit Lisa on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlisacrissgriffin

Enzo Stephens: Smokin’ in the Rowboat

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! 

Images are free-use and do not require attribution. Image by Tapani Hellman from Pixabay

Admin Note: The story contains a brief discussion of gender identiy.

Smokin’ in the Rowboat

Enzo Stephens 

“C’mon girl! Put yer back into it already.”

She was lithe and tawny, her dirty blonde hair tied into a sweaty, bouncing ponytail that currently flopped over her left shoulder, partially obscuring the strap of her pink LuLuMon yoga shirt. “I…”

“AM!”

The massive man with the misshapen head sat in the rowboat, fishing out an innocuous plastic rectangular container from his denim shirt that was adorned with a professional football team’s emblem over the right breast.

He flashed her puffing, straining self a bright, ebullient smile, and she smiled back. 

From the plastic rectangle, the man pulled a wonderful little device called a ‘one-hitter’ and not for the first time in the past three months since he’d discovered this wondrousness, Edgar McMichael wished to the good Lord above that he’d been the genius that invented it.

On one end of it was a thin strip of metal that slid along the wood frame, exposing a small, metal bowl that contained a tiny tight-mesh screen.

From the other side of that bowl was a packing box in which the product was stuffed. Closing the packing box meant pressing it against the side of the body of the one-hitter, pulverizing the content, making for a much cleaner smoke.

Tamping the packing box down over the bowl dropped an appropriate amount of weed into the bowl, and pressing a small button compressed it down into the bowl. 

Seems a lot more complicated than it actually was; all told the entire preparatory operation took all of about 15 seconds.

From the body of the wooden frame rested a one-touch, battery-powered glow-coil, which ignited the spleef just fine, lemme tell ya.

The man leaned back and exhaled that first big gulp and stared at the cloud-studded sky. The oars of the rowboat clunked against the sides of the boat; the sensation of a slight rhythmic pull ceased, distracting him from his celestial musings. “Why did you stop?”

“Because it’s your turn.”

“Look, honey. I could probably throw this boat with you in it across the lake, so I really don’t think I need to harsh my buzz with physical exertion.”

“Eggsy, you are a Grade-A Asshole.”

“Happy to share it with you.” He gave her a slight mock bow, complete with a sweeping left hand.

“Happy to stuff my steel-toed boot in it.”

And true enough, the lean, svelte, tightly-muscled blonde woman did indeed have a pair of steel-toed cowboy boots on, and then she had nada-empanada over tanned legs that stretched on forever up into a skimpy, tattered pair of denim shorts. And Eggsy had no misgivings about her capability of planting one or both of those boots up his keester, thank you very much.

She stretched her hand out. “Gimme some. If I’m gonna do all this work, I might as well be buzzed.”

Eggsy handed her the wonderfully-engineered one-hitter. “Know how to work it?”

“Like it’ll take a law degree from the university of eat shit to figure it out, ya big putz.”

“You got some fragging mouth on you, girl.”

She pulled a massive drag that belied her slim stature. Held it. Then let it drift out of her nostrils in wispy streams. “Whoa, shit man, that’s good. What is it?”

“It’s a hybrid of black Kush with some Thai-stick and dash of good ole Kentucky skunk.”

She handed the one-hitter back to Eggsy. “That’s one of the things I love about you, dude. Such creativity. Plus you got a screwed-up head that makes you look like a retard.”

A thundercloud passed over his heavy brow. She pealed with laughter over his expression. Eggsy dashed the ash from the pipe and reloaded; applied the glow-coil and drew lustily. A soft, fuzzy cloud of warmth floated over him and he found himself lying back in the rowboat, head against the back bench seat, and watching the sky.

“Hey, Wendy.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll start rowing again.”

“No, my lil chicka. What do you think about people who are gender-confused?”

“Hah!”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Meaning that it’s a bizarre question.” Eggsy felt the oars bump against the sides of the small watercraft. “I mean, what the hell do you care about that?”

“Well, I don’t. But…why now?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like it’s become prolific over the past ten or twenty years, as opposed to three hundred years ago. Is it something in our food supply? Water? Something in our environment that’s making our hormones go haywire?”

A soft grunt from the front of the boat, which surged forward a bit. “Beats the hell outta me. I’m good. You’re good. No confusion here.”

Eggsy sat up, took another hefty drag, then let the smoke slip out of his nostrils. “I know I’m good, and there’s no question that you’re good — nice rack, by the way. But it just doesn’t make any sense to me, ya know?”

“Maybe that’s because you’ve never had those kinds of questions. I mean, you are pretty one-track.”

“My focus is irrelevant to this conversation. Want another hit?”

“How about a fresh one?”

Eggsy went about the business of loading up a fresh bowl for the lady doing the heavy lifting for the two of them. He handed it over and she applied the built-in ember. 

The woman’s lung capacity was a thing of wonder!

“Your focus keeps confusion at bay. I mean really, how often have you been confused about anything in your life? I’ve not known you for more than a few months, but the word ‘confused’ is not something I’d pin on you, even though it seems like you’re constantly stoned.”

“Being stoned keeps me from being a mass murderer.”

Wendy laughed, but then caught his serious expression and the laughter died in her throat. “You’re not kidding, are you?”

A long pause where the two stared at each other through reddened, bleary eyes. He stuck a thick, meaty paw out. “’Course I am. Now gimme.”

She handed him the pipe, watching him warily. He polished off the bowl and leaned back again to watch the sky.

“How much money you got?”

“You mean in my pocket or in my bank?”

“Your bank.”

“Enough. Why do you wanna know?”

“Weed ain’t cheap.”

“It is when you grow your own.”

“You must have a shit-ton.”

“I’ve got healthy crops.”

“Sell any of it?”

“Nope. All mine.”

“So you can mix ’n match and use that creative genius to come up with new strains of weed.”

“Is that a question?”

The boat nudged forward. A mosquito landed on his coarse forearm. He watched it struggle to bury its proboscis into his flesh but be daunted by the thick mats of fur covering his limb. He chuckled, dashed the ash, and reloaded for another round.

“So, back to my earlier question.”

“Which is?”

“What are your thoughts about people who don’t know what sex they should be?”

“Well, I guess I don’t really understand it either. I mean, if you’re a dude, you look south of the border and you see junk, no more questions, even if the junk ain’t all that.

“Same thing with a woman. When there’s all that physical stuff, where’s the question? A person’s one or the other.”

“That’s a pretty black-and-white perspective there, Wendy.”

“Well, genius, what do you think?”

“I think it goes deeper than just questioning which way a person wants to swing. If you look at the Bible, especially the Old Testament, you can see that one of the most pervasive sins of humanity is sexual deprivation. There’s a lot of references bashing homosexuality. Stories like a bunch of dudes turned down gang-raping a woman in favor of doing the same to another dude.”

“Those peeps needed some better television.” That brought a belly laugh out of Eggsy. Girl could be damned funny when she didn’t try.

“I mean, imagine how bad things must have been for God to blow away just about everything on the earth with a flood. I’ve seen some opinion pieces stating that fallen angels were banging men and women, creating Nephilim.”

“C’mon dude. Quit bogarting.” 

“Later, there are references to ‘impure spirits’ making people do all sorts of sexual filth. Which leads me to ask, what opens a person up to possession by impure spirits?”

“Why? Do you wanna do some sexual filth?”

“Right here. Right now in this boat, baybee! If the boat’s a rockin’…”

“Why don’t we control ourselves until we get to a place where I won’t get splinters in my butt?”

“I can pick ’em out with my teeth. Now nothin’ says True Love like pulling splinters out of your girl’s butt with your teeth.”

She pulled in a hefty draft; let it float out of her nose gently. “Gotta hand it to you, goofy-head. You sure know how to romance a girl.”

“Confusion!”

“What?”

“That’s what I think opens a person up to being possessed. Confusion. More specifically, identity confusion. And I think that comes from some kind of heavy emotional abuse people experience in their adolescence, which is when people come into their sexual identity, ergo, their identity as a Man or a Woman.”

Wendy was chuckling. “You said ‘Ergo.’ Who the hell says ‘Ergo’?”

“Yeesh, Wendy. Try to keep up, wouldja?”

She gave him a loopy smile, then plopped oars back into the water and began pulling. Girl was hammered.

“So maybe that emotional abuse causes people to not have confidence in their sexual capability, ya know. I mean, confidence is shaky enough during those formative years.

“Seems like the devil would see that as an opportune time to swoop in and wreak havoc, and then before ya know it, James becomes Jamie, gets his willy lopped off and he/she thinks they’re in business and good to go.”

Wendy reached for the pipe. “I don’t really get you, Eggsy. Sometimes I think you’re as crazy as a bedbug in an orgy, and then you start rolling out stuff like this. And then I find out that you’re a student of the Bible. I mean, what the hell?

“You’re as chaotic as those people you’re talking about, only yours ain’t about your gender. It’s about everything else, dude.

“I mean look at us right here and now. We’re out in the middle of some big-assed lake in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the day, getting stoned off some hybrid bone you slapped together, talking about people who are gender-confused and Satanic possession. What the hell man?”

Eggsy watched her through hooded eyes. The sun was still beneath its peak, and this trip was supposed to be about fishing with his girl while being stoned, which was in and of itself quite the unique experience, especially without a fishing rod. “Are these musings not to your liking?”

She shook her head in frustration, or maybe it was to slap at a mosquito or something. “It’s just how you think. Increments of your personality. Sometimes it gives me a headache trying to keep up with you, and then I feel like a dumbass when I can’t.”

He was up and over to her side of the boat in a flash, not even giving the little craft time to rock in the water properly. He sat beside her, wrapping his burly arm around her lean shoulders. “I’m sorry, baby.”

She looked up at him, eyes welling. “You should be.”

He smiled, which turned into a savage snarl. “Like hell!” And he slammed his powerful arm right through her chest and out her back and relished the look of dawning shock on her face.

“Wh…”

Eggsy flipped her into the water, hung his gore-covered arm over the side to clean it, upon which he spied his amazing one-hitter lying in the bottom of the boat. Satisfied that his arm was clean, he straightened up, snagged that pipe, dashed the ash, reloaded, and proceeded to relish nature orally, and as the familiar cloud of soft fluffiness washed over him, he was glad that he would no longer have to share his hybrid weed.

“Bogart that.”

He snagged the oars, turned the boat around, and began pulling.

Please visit Enzo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Podcasts: Anna Leonarda

ANNA LEONARDA, from Chicago, Illinois is a breast cancer survivor, who also suffers from sexual dysfunction. She joins “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” host Paul W. Reeves to discuss the “dating app” that she created “to help individuals who struggle with sexual dysfunction find companionship“. 

FROM HER WEBSITE:

“Entwine was developed by Anna, a breast cancer survivor, for people with a low sex drive, celibates, and those who avoid sex due to physical pain. Because of her treatment, sex became uncomfortable both physically and emotionally. After her divorce, she found it difficult and intimidating to re-enter the dating scene out of fear of rejection from those who may not understand her situation.  

She soon realized that many of the dating apps available had similarities; none which offered an opportunity to find someone who had similar sexual limitations.

​She found herself in a space that she soon discovered many others were in –single and looking for companionship.”

www.entwinedating.com

Listen to the Podcast Here:

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Admin Note: Welcome to our newest source of information for authors. “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” radio program on Impact Radio USA offers interesting and entertaining interviews of authors who share their writing journey as inspiration for all writers finding their way. Dr. Paul also interviews individuals who are successful in education, finance, conspiracy theorist, medicine, self-help, motivation, musicians, artists, and more. These interviews give insight into various careers providing writing research and possible character ideas.

Look for additional Dr. Paul’s author interviews in the coming weeks on the page found on the menu bar. Enjoy!

Impact Radio USA

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Welcome to ​IMPACT RADIO USA, where we strive to provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

As we are continuing to add content on a daily basis, please feel free to click on the “LISTEN NOW” button at the top of the page to hear us 24 hours a day. While you are here, please check out all of our links to our shows, our podcast page, our blog, and learn how YOU can host your own show with us.  Thank you for listening to IMPACT RADIO USA!!!

Impact Radio USA ListenNow

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Paul W. Reeves 

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Paul W. Reeves is an author, radio talk show host, educator, composer/arranger, and professional musician!

Listen to “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA and visit Paul’s websitehttps://paulwreeves.com for more information on his books and CDs.

https://www.impactradiousa.com/

Writers Unite Anthologies: Dimensions of Love

WRITERS UNITE! ANTHOLOGIES IS HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE THE NEWEST ANTHOLOGY IS OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS!

Dimensions of Love

Now Open for Submissions — from February 15 through April 15, 2022!

This anthology is a republication of Realm of Romance. We have broadened the theme’s scope from romance to love and encourage members to write about love in all of its forms — romantic love, platonic love, familial love, love of a hobby, a location, a season, and more.

The Greeks have numerous names for the varying types of love, and we hope you will use those words as guides.

The Seven Greek words we offer as inspiration are as follows:

  • Eros: romantic, passionate love.
  • Philia: intimate, authentic friendship.
  • Ludus: playful, flirtatious love.
  • Storge: unconditional, familial love.
  • Philautia: self-love.
  • Pragma: committed, companionate love.
  • Agápe: empathetic, universal love.

Here are the links for further details on how and where to submit your stories. Please read these files for further information — and we look forward to receiving outstanding stories from you! Start writing!

https://docs.google.com/…/1vkFAQMzp1ANa3LqSbN8n7k6aXeL…/

https://docs.google.com/…/1s0iO82R5IuM3U7KobmiNDP1lbNM…/