Category Archives: Uncategorized

Erin Crocker: We all Fall Down

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png




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

We All Fall Down

By Erin Crocker

“Ashes, ashes! Ashes, ashes! Ashes!”

Little Serenity’s shrill voice carried with ease through the living room and into the narrow kitchen of the two-bedroom home. Ed rubbed his wrinkled forehead and added more vodka to the mug of orange juice that sat alongside piles of neglected plates and glasses that lined the countertop.

“We all fall down!”

Ed guzzled the alcohol-infused mixture until it was empty.

Serenity entered the kitchen, arms spread wide. “No, all of us fall. I’m the queen. I command you!” She turned her large light blue eyes to Ed. “Daddy, you too. Fall down!”

“No, no. Not today,” he managed.

Serenity’s foot was this narrow, tiny thing, but that day it could’ve been the foot of a velociraptor as she slammed it against the white tile floor. “Fall down!”

Ed’s nose flared. “I’ve had about enough of you, girl.” He pointed to the fragile screen door that separated the kitchen from the neglected backyard. “Out with ya.”

Her arms folded across her stomach in a pout. “Fine. Stupid Daddy.” The words faded as she exited. “Stupid Daddy. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

When Ed’s eyes caught sight of a fresh presentation of chocolate-chip-sized deposits trailed across the floor, he grumbled. “Damn things, back again.” A saucer fell and broke as he reached past a pile of plates to grab the box of rat poison. He shook it just to make sure there’d be enough to kill the sickening invaders.

***

Serenity hopped around the yard and eventually settled at her mother’s garden. Flowers blooming in spring, well, they’re a sign of new life, Serenity’s mom had told her daughter the prior year while rubbing her growing belly.

“Like your baby?” Serenity had asked.

“Our baby.”

But the small girl in her jean overalls and fairy princess shirt had never thought of the intruder as someone to be included. Worse yet, as her mom’s belly got bigger, she could no longer play games. Fall down, Serenity had demanded.

“I just can’t, baby.”

Soon after that afternoon, the young girl’s mom had fallen down, along with her unborn baby brother who her parents were going to name George. Serenity’s mother and George had both fallen down, for good.

Serenity skipped around the square flower box. “Water them, care for them, show them a lot of love, and in early spring they’ll grow with help from sun from above.” Her thin lips curled into a smile as she continued her song. “Sing to them, talk to them, they’re safely in their beds. Then, silently, quietly, rip off their little heads.” Her fingers ripped off the white bloom of a daisy, and a familiar buzz filled her stomach.

The sun that escaped the barrier of trees and branches that lined an old path through the forest caught the girl’s attention. She dropped the dying flower and used her ripped up Sketcher to kick it into the dirt. “Time to go see Maria. She’ll play with me.”

The bumps along the unsure path reminded Serenity of the weary sidewalk outside of her aunt Gerry’s home. Serenity never knew why her mom had decided to send her away, but she was awfully glad her dad picked her up just days before her mom fell for the final time.

As she continued through the opening, the trees thickened and imprisoned the sun. Serenity appreciated the darkness as much as she appreciated seeing the mix of purple and black that circled Justine Harrelson’s left eye. The stupid little thing had approached Serenity on the playground, flipping her shiny blonde hair, displaying her marshmallow white teeth, like a hungry lion, a stupid little hungry lion. Weirdo. The girl let out this merciless laugh before continuing. I heard your mom died. Your mom is dead. Your mom is dea—”

Justine didn’t have a chance to do much more after that but scream. Students from all corners of the playground ran toward the chilling cries for help just to witness Serenity’s little hand come up with a fist full of hair before charging back down to the girl’s face. The next time, her hand came up covered in blood. She’d managed to do a number on Justine before a teacher arrived to stop the scene.

Remembering that darkness excited Serenity in a way she’d only known one other time. She took careful steps along the surrounded path until she came upon warm lights that glowed and outlined a mobile home. Serenity grinned and approached the front door.

“Hold on, hold on.” Maria peered out the door. “Oh, it’s you.”

Serenity took note of the rollers.

She motioned for the little girl to come on inside. “I’m not busy, just settin’ my hair.”

Serenity crinkled her nose and ran her fingers through her own short, black hair. “Sitting on it?”

“I put it up in these rollers here. It stays rolled up for a week. I got it off one of those mailing catalogs. Don’t know if you all see the mail truck comin’ out here.”

Serenity shook her head and took a seat on the couch and swatted away a line of cigarette smoke.

“What are you up to today?” Maria shuffled into the kitchen area and stirred a deep pot before covering it. “I’m making up some stew here. When I finish, you can take some back for you and your pa. How’s that?”

“Thanks.” Serenity took in a noseful of meat and spices she hadn’t noticed when she’d first arrived. “I want to play ashes, ashes, let’s fall down.” Her little eyes flickered and lit brighter than the flame on Maria’s lighter as the woman flicked the spark wheel to light another cigarette.

“Can’t today, button.” She gestured to her head. “Gotta keep these suckers still.”

Serenity huffed. Her face reddened and burned and the fire seared her stomach all the way to the bottoms of her feet. The girl balled her hands into threatening fists as she tried to put out the flames.

“Tell you what. Why don’t you go out and look for frogs in my yard? I’ve seen lots of those things out lately.”

***

Ed poured more orange juice in the navy mug and filled it the rest of the way with vodka. The powder trail of poison blurred and danced when he studied it. “Dumb little shits,” he grumbled. “That oughta do it.”

It had done it for Laurel and his unborn son. Done it to the point the cops had hauled his ass down to the station until he proved he hadn’t been home the night his wife had poisoned herself. When the dumb fucks released him, they’d said, “Darn lucky the little girl didn’t eat them cookies.”

Ed had agreed at the time. At least he had his little girl, the porcelain, innocent face with wide almond eyes. He was damn fucking lucky. After a few weeks, he noticed how loud she was. She never shut the hell up, ever. Talk, talk, talk, talk, sing, sing, sing. She was Laurel’s job.

He took another sip; he could’ve put her in that dress. That one dress, the navy one with bright yellow sunflowers and those dirty, white saddle shoes. He could’ve polished them up real nice. Paired them with white frill socks from the dime store and a big poof of a hair bow. He could’ve appreciated the little girl then. Her still, slim body resting, motionless in a shiny, wooden box, her doll-like hands sleeping against her chest. He could’ve cried, kissed her forehead, and said a prayer before sending her to a silent sleep.

The bottle of vodka was empty. Ed reached for the Jim Beam.

***

A sharp cry caught Serenity’s attention. She walked toward the noise and saw a fragile creature. “Hey there,” she cooed at the baby sparrow. “I guess you lost your mommy.”

She reached for the bird and cupped her hands to cradle it. It sat still, beak opening ever so often to elicit another squeak. She studied its wide, black eyes. A few feathers had started to grow. The thing’s desperate screech irritated Serenity when she tugged at one of the attached feathers. She pressed the top and bottom of its infantile beak together and noticed how its eyes widened with fear. Her stomach twisted and tumbled, so familiar. The thrilling satisfaction nearly doused the fire.

“Here you go.” She sat the little creature on a bed of grass and grabbed a nearby rock. “We all fall down.” Her hum was peaceful as she tossed the stone and watched it crush the infant’s fragile skull.

“Serenity?”

She hadn’t noticed Maria open the trailer door.

“Over here.” Serenity stood and moved away from the dead bird.

“Soup’s ready. Bring the bowl back.”

“I’ll return it full of cookies just like me and my momma used to make.”

Maria extended the plastic tub to Serenity, purplish-red painted lips stretched into a smile. “I’d like that very much.”

***

Ed had enjoyed Maria’s soup. It’d been a long time since a woman cooked him a meal. A long time, indeed. And then, to follow it up, Serenity had left him with a plate of cookies before rinsing the tub and returning to their neighbor with a few cookies inside.

Maybe she was doing better than he thought. His hand shook as he reached for the bottle of Wild Turkey and took a drink. “Time to bait those fuckers again,” he mumbled and grabbed the box of rat poison from the table. He shook the container. Had he used that much a couple of days ago? Maybe. Hell, he couldn’t remember. Ed bit into a still-warm cookie.

***

Serenity skipped up the uneven path. Even the trees that lined the walkway seemed lighter that day. She sang her favorite song, the one her mom had taught her. This is our song. It will always be our game. Nothing will ever come between us. But something did.

Liar, Serenity thought. “We all fall down. We all fall down. We all fall down. All fall down.”

***

“I don’t know how he did it, but that sick bastard did it.”

That’s what Sheriff McAllister had said when police had finally arrived on scene and found Ed’s body surrounded in an eruption of fluids that ranged from frothy vile around his mouth to moist stools near his waist and feet.

Thank God that little girl didn’t eat any. See if the neighbor lady heard or saw anything.

Maria was nowhere to be found.

Her property sat in silent isolation for days until buzzards started to circle the roof of her trailer. Their never-ending honks caught McAllister’s attention. Hours later, they hauled Maria’s body from the residence.

McAllister glanced at the sun that danced through the forest’s branches. He thought of the innocent tears that had plagued little Serenity’s face. “She is the sunshine in all of this,” he’d said. That trash of a father she had. It’s a wonder the little girl is as stable as she is.

***

The years weren’t kind to Serenity. The trail of death that seemed to stalk her reminded her of the dark, uneven path of her old home. As soon as she reached adulthood, she moved back to that home. She needed familiarity.

And it was while she was clipping a rosebush that a head of light blond hair appeared at the end of that old path. “What you doing?”

Serenity took in the little boy’s cheeks that had not yet shed their baby fat. He was in red shorts and a blue and white striped top. A strand of hair fell down his forehead and his lips exposed his white teeth when he gave her a chubby smile. She motioned for him to come over and spent the morning explaining all of her flowers to the boy.

“Go home. I go home,” he finally said.

“Did you just move in?”

“Me, sissy, Momma, and Dada. Just move up there.” His chunky finger pointed at the trail.

“That’s so wonderful.” That feeling surfaced in Serenity’s stomach. It tossed and tumbled through her body with freedom. “Run along home, now. Tell your mommy to have coffee ready. I’ll stop by with sugar cookies.” Serenity’s excited grin made the boy chuckle. “You like sugar cookies?”

He nodded his head.

“Okay, run on home. I’ll be over soon. I promise.”

Serenity’s eyes followed the boy as he toddled up the path and disappeared in the clutches of its darkness. Her grin spread wider across her face. She sang, “We all fall down.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

Visit Erin’s website and check out her fantastic writing… https://authorerincrocker.com/

Write the Story: March 2019 Collection




Advertisements

Write the Story: March 2019 Prompt!


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

Here’s the plan:

You write a story of 3000 words or less (doesn’t matter, can be 50 words or a poem) and post it on the author site that you want to promote. Please edit these stories. We will do minor editing but if the story is not written well Writers Unite! reserves the right to reject publishing it.

We have chosen not to do full-editing. This project is based on the writer attracting new readers with their work. Therefore other than common grammar error editing, we will not edit content.

Send the story and link to the site via Facebook Messenger to Deborah Ratliff or email daratliff07@gmail.com. Put “Write the Story” in the first line of the message or subject line.

WU! will post your story on our blog and share across our platforms, FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. WU! will also add the story to the Write the Story page on our blog…where it be for all to read along with the other stories.

We do ask that you share the link to the WU! Write the Story page so that your followers can also read the works of your fellow writers.

The idea is to generate increased traffic for all. May take some time but it will happen if you participate. The other perk of this exercise is that you will also have a blog publishing credit for your work

DO NOT post your story to this prompt. The idea is to have your story or poem published on your site, the WU! blog and shared to gain followers for your writing. We will not accept a one- or two-line caption. For the most part, we are fiction writers and poets…. please write a story or poem, not a caption.

If you have any questions regarding this, you may ask the question in the comments. Please note: you do not need to be a member of the WU! Facebook group or follow the blog to participate. If you want to join us, however, that would be great!

Thank you.

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

Now… go Write the Story!

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

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

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

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

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

(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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

Please visit Doug’s blog and follow him! https://smithandscribe.wordpress.com

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Kelli J Gavin: The House in Maine

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

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

The House In Maine

By: Kelli J Gavin

My husband asked if I wanted to take one last look. One last look at the house, the remaining contents, everything I was leaving behind. I wasn’t sure I could. Could I walk back into the home where I grew up and not be blasted by every beautiful, every breathtaking, every heartbreaking occurrence that took place within those walls?

The trailer was packed, and so was the car. Only enough room left for the two of us in the front seat. I sifted through everything in the house as quickly as I could, leaving donate piles, garbage piles and clear instructions of what furniture should be sold and what should be loaded onto the trailer that would return to my home. I carefully packed keepsakes and treasures myself. I located the wooden crate in the back closet next to the fireplace in the living room, which contained my grandmother’s journals which she had begun keeping at the age of ten. That crate would be loaded into the car. I found her beautiful costume jewelry and scarves and handbags, and pulled a special few to be packed away for me. Treasures of which I had used as a child when I liked to play dress up. Such a simple time. When all that mattered was that my diamond earrings sparkled and that my handbag matched my shoes.

My mother and I moved in with my grandmother when I was seven. Mom said cancer in her bones would take her within the year, and she wanted to make sure that I was well taken care of. Where would this cancer in her bones take her? I didn’t understand but also didn’t ask any questions. I had never met my grandmother before. She lived in Maine. What was Maine? I was told it was a state very far away from Chicago where we lived. My mother never spoke of my grandmother and only mentioned her name when I asked my mother if she had a mother. She smirked at me, “Vera, everyone has a mother. Some are just better than others.”

We arrived at the worn-down home in this odd place called Maine that smelled of fish and mold. Everything seemed dirty, and boots were needed just to walk outside as the rains had turned the ground to thick mud that you would sink into if you didn’t keep putting one foot in front of the other. Grandma, or Gran as she requested to be called, was short and thin with beautiful white hair. She wore sweater sets with matching shoes and brooches and pearls. Gran looked exactly like what my seven-year-old mind thought a grandmother should look like.

We were welcomed quickly, ushered in swiftly and tucked into our quarters immediately. I do not believe that Gran was slow at anything. Everything was done in haste as if there were bigger and better things to do next. Always something to be done. Something to be accomplished. Gran never sat still. She polished silver, she organized the china hutch, she folded and re-folded linen napkins. She applied lipstick and smoothed her skirt that didn’t need smoothing. She smiled larger than necessary and poured more tea even when it wasn’t requested or had already been refused. Gran was a nervous force to be reckoned with.

My mother slowed down quickly after we moved in. She began to request meals on a tray be brought to her room two weeks after we arrived in Maine. Gran and I were happy to oblige. Constance, the housekeeper, arrived every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp. She cleaned and cooked and did the laundry and often left me Butter Rum Life Savers if I helped hang the laundry on the lines. She was kind and sweet to my mother and hummed hymns as she worked.

Mom died six weeks after we arrived in Maine. She passed quietly in her sleep. I lay next to her for half a day before going with Gran to the kitchen. My grandmother arranged everything with her local church and funeral home. The funeral would be in a couple days. I sat with tears in my eyes looking at Gran as Constance poured us both a cup of tea. “What happened with you and my mother? Why didn’t I know about you until now? Why have I never met you?”

“Vera. I loved your mother very much. She was my only daughter. I hurt your mother a number of years ago and she was never able to forgive me. I told her last night that I loved her and how sorry I am that we wasted all of these years away. I told her how enchanting you are and how I was learning to quite enjoy being a Gran. Vera, I am sorry. I will love you like you are my own daughter. You can live here as long as you like. When it is time to go to college, everything will be taken care of. This is where you can call home.” Gran leaned over and gave me an awkward kiss on my forehead.

My young mind couldn’t figure out how Gran had hurt Mom years ago. I thought about it for a number of years but then I eventually stopped caring. Gran and I developed a great relationship. She enrolled me in school, helped with my homework, and encouraged me to get involved with extracurricular activities. She had Constance drop me off at church on Wednesday nights for Youth Group, and a local mom brought me home. I made friends, I enjoyed school, and I learned to like living in Maine.

I always missed my mother. Nothing could fill that void in my heart. I started writing and found that stories of my mother and Gran were what I enjoyed the most. I went to the local college and majored in Creative Writing. I received my Masters in English with a focus in Literature. Gran couldn’t have been more proud. She began to decline in her later years and Constance had passed away when I was an undergrad. Lucille came to clean our home and take care of Gran. I would go home on weekends. To visit and smile and read to Gran. Our time together was nothing short of magical.

When Gran passed, I found it difficult to return home. I should have rented the home out. But I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else living there. I married the love my life and we enjoyed living in New York City. My husband told me it was time to sell the home as it had fallen into ill repair. We hired a team and it took us three days. The project was complete. And the final clear-out enabled the home to be put on the market as is. I prayed for some amazing home improvement lover of broken homes to come along and restore the home to its original glory.

After walking the perimeter of the home, I went in for one last look. “Are you leaving that chair, ma’am?” one of the movers asked as I was startled.

“Oh yes, just for a few minutes please.” I approached the chair next to the fireplace and gently sat down in Gran’s chair. Gran had always liked this chair. It wasn’t particularly comfortable. But I came to find out it had been her father’s chair. Gran said she felt close to him when she sat in it. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I could swear that the house still smelled like Gran’s perfume and Constance’s chocolate chip cookies. I savored these smells, these memories, and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to remove myself from the chair anytime soon.

I heard a heavy shuffle of feet behind me and a gentle placement of hands on my shoulders. “I have made a mistake. I need this chair to come with us, honey. Can you find some rope and figure out a way to strap it to the top of the car? This chair can’t be left behind.”

My dear husband. After I finished making my rounds of each room of the house, I found him outside with rope in hand securing Gran’s chair in place on top of our car. I smiled as tears poked the corners of my eyes. Yes. Now I had everything I needed from the house in Maine.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

Visit Kelli’s blog to find more of her writings and be sure to follow her! hehttps://kellijgavin.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-house-in-main.html

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection

Kenneth Lawson: Things Best Left Forgotten

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

February 2019 Prompt


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

Things Best Left Forgotten

by Kenneth Lawson

The fire had long ago burned out. There was nothing left but ashes.

I turned toward the door, forgetting about the lone chair in the room, and tripped, sprawling across the floor. I got up slowly, right knee stinging, but kicked the chair out of my way. The grating sound it made as it scraped across the wooden floor was satisfying. Damned chair.

I grimaced as I gave the chair a wide berth and walked to the door. I turned the old worn knob, its luster long gone. Hell, the door and knob, even the chair was older than me. In another time I had sat in the chair reading by candlelight and the glow from the fireplace. Music from a long-ago era had filled the room. Now the room was only the remains of a life I had known decades ago.

Returning to my grandfather’s dilapidated homestead had been a mistake. As I walked into the entry hall, memories crept into my mind. Grandma baking cookies. Grandpa playing cards. The hours I spent with him learning to hunt and fish. His old shotgun still sat leaning in the corner next to the entry door. I picked it up, cracking open the double barrel and the breach. Sure enough, it was loaded. The brass ends of the shells were now corroded from years of sitting in the gun untouched and uncleaned. He would have been appalled. Grandpa never let anything get dirty, least of all his guns. I put it back.

I pushed open the front door and exited the house. The porch once held a hanging swing where I’d spent many an hour listening to him tell tall tales while we drank lemonade. It was now barely recognizable, lying on the rotted deck in a broken heap. The once beautiful lawn he’d kept was now a sea of overgrown weeds and hay, dotted with the occasional flower that managed to eke out an existence in the tall grass and weeds.

Plowing my way through the weeds I found his old truck. After a bit of a struggle, I pried the door open. The interior was covered in dust and junk. The tools he’d used last were still sitting on the passenger side of the bench seat. He’d died in this truck—heart attack hit him, and he was gone. Grandma died a month later from a broken heart. I shuddered, the memories were becoming overwhelming. Slamming the door shut again, I spun so fast I was dizzy, but I had to get back to my car and away from this place.

“Robert!! Wake up!! You were dreaming again.”

I blinked from the glare of the sun streaming through the window and sat up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

She sat on the edge of the bed. “You dreamed about the farm again?”

I nodded. “Yes. this time I made it to the truck.”

“But you didn’t see the box?”

“No, I didn’t see the box. I don’t know where grandpa hid the money.” I threw the covers back and got out of bed. “All I have are these nightmares from the damn drugs. They aren’t helping me remember what happened all those years ago.”

“You told me there was a box of money. You saw him hide it.”

“I was sixteen years old when he died. I thought I knew where he hid it but when we searched the place it wasn’t there. I just can’t remember where it was. Damn it, Charlene, it’s been nearly twenty years.”

“But baby, no one’s been there since your grandparents died but us. We’ve gone over and over the place. The only way we’re gonna find out where he hid the box is for you to remember.”

“All the damned drugs you’re shoving down my throat are giving me a headache and flashbacks to things I don’t want to remember.”

“But baby, it’s a lot of money.”

Those baby blue eyes of hers were misty as she gazed at me.

“Okay, I’ll keep taking the drugs until we find the money.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

Visit Kenneth’s blog and follow him! http://kennethlawson.weebly.com/

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection

Me? Market My Book? Part Two:  Prepare for Launch

twitter-292994_1920

Part Two:  Prepare for Launch

 It is never too early to prepare to publish your book. When your muse taps you on the shoulder and suggests that it is time to write, you should begin to create the tools that you need to market yourself and your writing.

Publishers and agents prefer to deal with an author who has a strong presence on the web or other marketing venues. If you are planning on self-publishing, those marketing outlets will be crucial to connecting with buyers for your book.

In this era of social media, there are numerous avenues open to make vital connections to potential readers. Novice writers are often unknown entities within the literary world. Unless you have acquired a public persona in a career field or some other endeavor, your social media reach may only be your family and immediate friends. You need more.

In this article we will discuss those pathways in general, addressing each of these social media platforms in greater detail in later articles.

text_divider_pz

Blog/Website

Having a blog or website is akin to having a home address on the internet. This is where you, your thoughts, your work, and links to your sales platform and media appearances reside. Blogs at one time were highly necessary in the competitive world of traditional publishing. Agents and publishers only took blogs with a high number of followers seriously. Years ago I read a statement by an agent who declared unless an author had a minimum of 10,000 followers, she didn’t bother with reading their submission. The opening of self-publishing has reduced that need, and while a following is still essential for all authors to be successful, a huge following is not as critical.

This is the internet presence you should start as soon as you consider writing. It takes quite a while to build followers as well as establish your presence on the web.

Facebook

Well, it is Facebook. Love it or hate it, this social platform is imperative to establishing yourself as a writer. Not necessarily for your credibility, and it can help there, but for name recognition.

The largest social media group in the world, Facebook gives you a global presence. You should as an author establish an author page, join not only writing groups but in some cases, depending on the genre you write in, there are pages/groups for the readers of that genre, and post—often.

While not every post is going to be read by everyone, Facebook can be a valuable tool for a writer. The key is to be active.

Twitter

Twitter is unique.  You can follow anyone or any group you choose at will, and they may or may not follow you back. With the incredible number of accounts on Twitter, finding like-minded Tweeters is not difficult. Twitter recommends accounts with similar interest.

The key here is Tweet, Tweet, Tweet. It is how you gain followers and retweets, which increases your exposure. Not sure what to tweet about, tweet about everything related to your writing or interest in writing and reading. Tweet out links to your blog posts, short excerpts from your work, where your next book signing is, something about your favorite author.

Instagram

This social networking app (owned by Facebook) allows you to post images and videos from a smartphone. Gaining in popularity by the second, many ‘experts’ think Instagram is overtaking Twitter. It is indeed quicker to send a photo or video, but it can also be used to post quotes from your writing. If you have access to programs such as Gimp or Photoshop or can add simple text to an image, you can display an image and promote your work.  The key to Instagram is to be repetitive and, as with Twitter, post, post, post.

Tumblr

Tumblr remains a bit of an enigma. There are conflicting opinions of this site, but those who love it, love it a lot. The site is a bit like Facebook and a personal blog in that you can post links to articles, images, videos, gifs, and quotes, etc. It offers you a simpler version of a blog site.

YouTube

That YouTube is popular is a given. I doubt a day goes by without any of us viewing at least one video on YouTube. There is a growing sense that the video medium will soon be the most valuable outlet for promotion.  Having your own YouTube channel allows you to post book trailers, which are now becoming a favorite promotional tool, read quotes from your novels either using video or audio only and, as we discussed, drive traffic to your main platform, your website/blog.

Google+

Google+ is a Facebook-style social community. There are pros and cons to this site due to the forced interaction it requires for all of the Google platforms. However, there are some excellent writing groups there, but while it has many users, it is not utilized as much by the members. That said, Google is trying to improve the site and if you have a blog, posting your blog posts, etc. into a Google+ community can be accomplished with a click of the mouse.

text_divider_pz

These social media sites can be used to promote your brand from the moment you begin to write. After publication, the work you have done to put these tools into place will be invaluable to you. The consensus is that it is never too early to begin to present yourself to your reader.

We will be addressing these platforms in greater depth and other avenues available to you to promote your writing in future articles. In the meantime, start setting up those profiles and keep writing!

 

arms-3556673_1920

 

text_divider_pz

Words of Ray Bradbury

Writing-Quotes-rb2-1024x499

 

Ray Bradbury was an American fantasy and horror author who rejected being categorized as a science fiction author, claiming that his work was based on the fantastical and unreal. His best-known novel is Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian study of future American society in which critical thought is outlawed. He is also remembered for several other popular works, including The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury won the Pulitzer in 2004, and is one of the most celebrated authors of the 21st century. He died in Los Angeles on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91.

divider-2

Resources:

https://www.biography.com/people/ray-bradbury-9223240

Lynn Miclea: Comparisons? Stop Comparing!

christmas-2411764_1920

 

Comparisons. We all do it—we compare ourselves to others. Does he write better than me? Is she more successful than I am? And we find that we’re not as good as some, and we are better than others. Or so it seems.

However, this is misleading at best, and dangerous at worst. What we perceive is not always what is really there. And what we compare ourselves to might be an incorrect image built up in our minds, supported by fear and self-doubt.

First, it’s important to understand that each of us is on a different path, our own unique journey. Someone else is on a different path. We have different skills and abilities, we write in different genres, and we aim for a different audience. We have different writing styles, different stories, different characters, and a different voice. So a comparison is not helpful at all.

Second, what we usually end up comparing is our inner insecure selves—our fears and self-doubts, with the perceived outer performance of someone else. However, what we see is the mask they show the world—the accomplishments that they share. That is not a fair comparison. We do not see their inner fears and doubts, which we all have. And we do not often acknowledge or appreciate our own accomplishments, which others may look up to. It’s not an equal comparison, and it never can be. You can’t compare the hidden inner world of one with the visible outer world of another. It just doesn’t work.

And even if someone else is more accomplished than we are, or has published or sold more books, remember that you don’t see how they started. We all start at the beginning—and they most likely started exactly where you are now, and it took many years, struggles, difficulties, and hardships for them to get where they are. No one is an accomplished, successful author at the beginning. So it’s not an equal comparison there, either. You can’t compare a beginner to an experienced person—we all start as beginners. And we all can work our way up to being experienced and successful.

Third, the only person we should compare ourselves to is who we used to be. We are not here to be better than anyone else, but to be better than who we were before. We should strive to improve—and to take pride in that when we do. Have you written a short story or poem? Wonderful! Have you outlined a story in a fantasy world? Excellent! Appreciate and love that! Take pride in it—in every step and accomplishment.

So as for comparisons—they are either inaccurate, inappropriate, or unhelpful. Or all three. My best advice is to let all comparisons go, and simply work on being the best that you can be. And support everyone else in being the best that they can be. There is room for all of us to succeed and do well.

And the best way to get there is to learn as much as you can, keep improving, and take pride in where you are. Enjoy the entire path of writing and publishing, every step along the way, and appreciate each moment. You deserve to be happy, no matter where you are on the journey.

You have unique abilities, unique stories, and a unique voice. No one can tell your story or do it the way you can. You fill a niche no one else can.

So let go of comparisons. Believe in yourself—because you truly are amazing.

Comparisons? They can bring you down. Forget them.

Know that you are awesome!

compare-643305_1920

divider-clipart-divider_line_med

About The Author:

LYNN MICLEA grew up in New York and moved to California while in her twenties. A certified hypnotherapist, Reiki master practitioner, and musician, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she has held many jobs but has always loved reading and writing stories.

After retiring, Lynn further pursued her passion for writing, and she is now a successful author with many books published and more on the way.

She has published numerous books of nonfiction (memoirs and self-help guided imagery), and children’s stories (animal stories about kindness and helping others), and is currently publishing several books of fiction (thrillers, paranormal, and romance).

She hopes that through her writing, she can help empower others and add more joy and love to the world. She asks everyone to be kind to each other as we all share this journey through life together.

Lynn currently lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and two dogs.

Please visit her website at www.lynnmiclea.com and her blog at www.lynnpuff.wordpress.com.

 

Copyright © 2018 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Quote from Terry Prachett

be2b8682ab723e6c378be95e132e89a4