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Paula Shablo: April Showers

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

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

April Showers

By Paula Shablo

For Shane, there was never a question of if the spring storms would come. They would come; they always came.

The only question was: when?

Well, that wasn’t entirely true. The other question was whether he’d have enough advance notice to batten down the hatches—so to speak.

Year after year, it was the same: Summer, Fall, and Winter devoted to repair and replace; Spring, watch it all be beaten, battered, and destroyed.

Start over.

Every. Single. Year.

It seemed his every penny earned went into putting back together what Spring storms tore apart. Time after time, he’d have to try to explain his thinking to parents, lovers, children.

Why? Why did he stay?

He’d stand on the shoreline, looking at his house, and ask himself that question every year. He’d resolve to repair quickly, sell the place and move inland—far enough from the shores to avoid this annual mess, but still close enough to come to the beach on a regular basis.

But—”Look at that view!” he’d exclaim. The house and deck, by this time intact and looking good again, fairly sparkled in the sun. Autumn, year after year, brought him a sense of accomplishment. The roof looked great, the siding was new, the deck was stained and sealed. Sitting outdoors, with whomever had posed the, “Why not get out now?” question, Shane would look out at the ocean, ever-changing as the water rolled in to meet the white sand, and marvel.

There was nothing to marvel at today, however. You could only repair a house if enough of it was left standing to work with.

Shane stood with his back to the ocean, tears obscured by pelting rain, and stared at the remains of his home—a home that had been through over a decade’s worth of devastating storms, new roofing, new siding, new windows, new decks, sometimes new interior walls, and twice entire new rooms.

Flattened. A bedroom wall here, a bathroom door there; the refrigerator on its side; the stove upside-down on top of what looked to be the remains of the kitchen island. A lone door—perhaps the one to the master bedroom—stood in its frame as if a sentry looking over its fallen comrades.

A search of the beach and surrounding areas would probably turn up beds, televisions and the like. There were no signs of those things here. Shane supposed they might also be buried under wood and aluminum.

Oddly enough, the deck was almost entirely intact. “The mighty oak,” Shane whispered, then snorted a bitter laugh.

Hearing the “slap, slap” of running feet hitting saturated sand, Shane turned and saw his son approaching. “Landon,” he said, his voice rough with grief.

Landon stopped running when he reached his father, bent at the waist to grasp his knees and coughed. “Jesus, Dad,” he choked. “What are you doing still out in this shit?”

Shane sighed deeply, staring at the deck. “Lan,” he said, “I think I’ll buy a motorhome and park it right there along the deck.”

“Dad—!”

“And when the storms are coming, I’ll just drive away…” Shane’s voiced hitched, and he tried to stifle the sob in his throat before his son could tell he was crying.

Landon, who was nothing if not a good son, ignored the obvious. His father had a right to his grief, even if they had all begged and pleaded with him for years to, “Move, for God’s sake, move away!”

He draped an arm around Shane’s shoulder and turned him away. “It’s past time you learned to come in from the rain,” he joked lightly. “Come on, Dad, there’s a hot coffee in the car with your name on it.”

Shane sighed again. “April showers,” he said. “No May flowers this time, I reckon.”

“You’ll get your flowers,” Landon told him. “We’ll put ’em on the deck in soda cans. You can drive them around in your motorhome.”

Shane grunted in surprise. “Really?”

Landon grinned, pushing his father along to the car. “Why not?” he said. “We’d all feel better knowing you could just drive off before the next storm hits. Melissa will love helping you shop for it. And think of the money you’ll save next year when you only have to rebuild a deck.”

“I was kidding,” Shane protested.

“Too late.” Landon opened the car door and gave Shane am encouraging shove. Shane got in, and Landon shut the door.

As promised, there was coffee. Shane grabbed up the cup and sipped the steaming brew.

Landon got into the driver’s seat, shut the door, and started the engine. “Listen, Dad. If you do that—buy a motor home—you’ll still have that same great view.”

True.

Shane smiled gratefully at his son. “Still,” he said, “there’s a lot of work to do.”

“After the storm, Pop.”

And Shane nodded. “Yes. After the April shower.”

_______________________________________________________________________

***For Shane Thompson

People go through a lot for their beautiful views. It’s worth it to them, even if others can’t understand why they do what they do.

I knew a Shane who never gave up his view. I miss that guy. He was a good one.

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Please visit Paula’s blog and follow her! https://pshablo.blogspot.com

Write the Story: March 2019 Collection








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Write the STory: April 2019 Prompt


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

***** Write the Story April 2019 Prompt ****

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 WU! reserves the right to reject publishing it.

Send the story and link to the site via Messenger to Deborah Ratliff. Put “Write the Story” in the first line of the message.

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.

The April prompt is below… write the story!

Periodically throughout the month, we will post the current prompt as a reminder.

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.

Thank you.

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

 

Paula Shablo: You Can’t Get Into Heaven With Someone Else’s Dog

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

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

You Can’t Get Into Heaven With Someone Else’s Dog

By Paula Shablo

You can’t get into Heaven with someone else’s dog.

Yep. Lessons learned from dreams. So weird.

I crawled back into my bed this morning after taking the dog out. I was cold. I didn’t want to be up yet; I just wanted to lie in bed, toasty warm.

About the time I decided to get up, because I was never going to fall asleep, I … fell asleep!

And, holy cow, such a weird dream ensued.

Molly and I came upstairs and found a big black dog with a white star on his forehead sitting in the kitchen. Never saw him before in my life. But— “Hi, Scout,” I said. “How’d the surgery go?”

He was on a leash, but there were no bandages or anything, so … I don’t know. He wasn’t able to follow us to the living room, though, and that’s where we went next.

Mom and Dad were sitting in their chairs, watching television. I sat down, and a black dachshund jumped up into my lap and squirmed her way next to Molly. I started petting her like this was nothing unusual, although, like the dog in the kitchen, I’d never seen her before.

She was soon joined by two more dogs, a black-and-white border collie and a brown something-or-other with a tail that spun like a propeller with his joy. Within seconds, Scout joined us all, dragging his leash.

None of us seemed at all surprised with this abundance of dogs in the house.

None of us were surprised when my son appeared at the door, ready to take me somewhere, along with all six dogs. Mom and Dad greeted Sam much as if they saw him every day, rather than once every year or so, and waved us all out the door.

At the curb: one hellacious motor home. That thing was gigantic! We loaded the dogs and I took the passenger seat, a comfy captain’s seat that swiveled 360 degrees. Wow!

I turned, expecting to see my daughter-in-law, but instead, there was an old classmate of mine, Tina, and several more dogs.

Wherever we were off to, it had something to do with all the dogs. We drove down the street, turned onto Cedar, and …

… now, we were on crowded city streets. People walking to and fro, lots of traffic. I looked to my left as the motor home took a lurching left turn at a traffic light, and—my daughter was behind the wheel!

What the hell?

“Oh, crap!” she cried, as she straightened the vehicle. “There’s a cop behind me! I hope he didn’t follow me all the way from Grandpa’s!”

“Where are we?” I demanded. Molly was clinging to me like a little monkey.

Suddenly, a little black Chihuahua darted out in front of us, dragging a thick red leash. Sarah slammed on the brakes and swerved, just missing her. “Was that Molly?” she shrieked.

“Molly’s right here,” I said, trying to pry the dog off my neck. “Pull over!”

She parked the vehicle and I leaped out the door to catch the little dog before she could be hit by a car. Molly jumped out of my arms. “Molly!” I yelled. “Get back here! Are you crazy?”

Wonder of wonders, she came right to me and let me pick her up. The other Chihuahua followed and also allowed me to pick her up.

I stood up and looked around, hoping to see someone looking for this little girl. People were hustling through the street in all directions, but no one seemed to be searching for a missing pup.

I turned and noticed a tall building with a crookedly hung wooden door. A sign over the door read: “Enter here.” I turned back to look into the open door of the motor home to tell my daughter I was going to go in and see if anyone recognized the dog.

My son was in the driver’s seat.

Ohhhh…kaaaay.

Tina appeared in the doorway. “Are you going in?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “Maybe someone knows who this little girl belongs to.”

Tina looked over my shoulder at the door. “Uh … all righty, then.” She looked at Sam. He looked back at her, eyes wide, and shrugged.

I shook my head. “Don’t be scared,” I said. “These big bad dogs will protect me.”

I opened the door and stepped inside. The door clapped shut behind me. Molly squirmed and whined, but the other dog was perfectly calm.

I was in a narrow passageway with a long line of people waiting to climb a rickety staircase with half-sized risers. A few people were coming down, but the majority were waiting to make the climb.

I stood on tiptoes, looking up, up, up. I couldn’t see the top. I also couldn’t turn around, as there were now people behind me in this cramped line.

We climbed. Molly tried her best to greet everyone, wagging her tail and stretching out her neck for a pat whenever possible. The few people headed down nodded solemnly, pet the dog and went on without speaking.

The steps were scarily narrow, and I tried to watch my feet while holding a dog in each arm. Not easy.

Finally, we reached the top, and I was overwhelmed to see a path, slightly inclined, with logs half buried in rich, dark soil every few feet. Trees lined either side, and people began the final hike upward.

“Molly,” I whispered to the beloved little black dog, “this is where that photo was taken.”

Molly stared up into my face, just as if she was asking me what photo I was talking about.

“You know,” I told her. “The photo we were supposed to write the March story about.”

The dog sighed.

I didn’t blame her.

The other dog looked straight ahead at the path, and we started the last part of our climb. My mind was racing, trying to make sense of things.

At the end of the path, there was another door. It wasn’t crooked or shabby like the first door, but it was obviously old. One by one, people entered. Once in a while, a person would come back out and start walking back.

At last it was my turn. I went inside, and there, I met God.

Don’t ask me what he looked like. I have no idea.

Don’t ask me how I knew it was God. It was God. I knew it, that’s all.

“What are you doing here?” God asked.

“I found this—” I began, lifting the lost dog toward him.

“That’s not your dog,” God said.

“I know!” I agreed. “She—”

“You have to take her back,” God said. “You have to return her to her owner.”

“Yes, but—”

“You’re not supposed to be here,” God continued. “It’s not your time. Run along now.”

I’m thinking fast during this exchange. What if it really was my time? Molly is so young! She should go back to Mom and Dad.

“It’s not Molly’s time, either,” God said, and I thought, He heard me!

“That’s good,” I said, “because—”

“When it’s her time, she’ll come. You, too. But today is not your time, so off you go now!” And He took me by the shoulders, turned me around, and pushed me gently back out the door.

Now I’m going down, down, down, and wondering if all the others who were taking that same walk were being sent back to life, or if they were being sent farther down.

I decided I didn’t want to know that.

Molly was trying to kiss everyone we passed, and most everyone gave her smiles and pats while avoiding looking directly at me.

Maybe they were wondering the same thing I was about that downward trek.

Finally, someone spoke to me: “The steps are scary.” It was a nice-looking gentleman with a head full of thick, white hair. “Be careful.”

“Thank you,” I replied. “It’s slow going with my hands full—can’t use the handrail.”

“What handrail?”

He was right—no rail.

I picked my way down carefully, my size-six feet feeling enormous on the narrow steps.

I was almost at the bottom when I saw another old schoolmate about to start the upward climb. She was wearing a lime-green visor cap and looked much younger than her fifty-something years. She passed me, saying, “Excuse me, ma’am.”

I turned to watch her climb the steps and called her name, then said, “It’s me! Paula!”

“I thought so,” she replied. “I didn’t want to say anything. Your kids are getting a ticket.”

I was at the door. “What? Why?” I cried, but she was gone.

I went back out into the street. Molly leapt out of my arms and started trotting down the road toward the motor home, which had been moved.

I chased her, the foundling dog bouncing serenely against my breast, watching Molly. “You come here, right now!” I admonished the little stinker. “Are you nuts, Molly? Look at all this traffic!”

Molly sat down next to the motor home and looked up at me. The passenger door swung open. Sam looked relieved as Molly and I climbed in.

“You got a ticket?” I gasped. “Why?”

“Parked in front of a fire hydrant,” Sam replied.

I sighed. “How much?”

“Nothing.” Now my son grinned at me. “We told the cop about the dog in the road, and when he saw you come out that door with the dogs, he gave me a warning instead of a ticket.”

“Thank God!” Tina said.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “You can say that again.”

“What about her? Did anyone know who she belongs to?”

“God knows,” I said. “But He didn’t tell me.”

“Huh?”

And … I woke up!

Now I don’t know if I got the dog back to her owner, or who the owner is, or where we were taking all those dogs, or what town we were in …

Or anything else, for that matter!

But I do know you can’t get into Heaven with someone else’s dog.

So there’s that.

_______________________________________________________________________

Dreams are weird. Have I told you that before?

I’ll probably tell you again sometime.

Until we meet again!

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Visit Paula at her blog! https://pshablo.blogspot.com/

Write the Story: March 2019 Collection




Thank you!

*** Write the Story ***

As we close out the month of January, I want to thank all the members of Writers Unite! who participated in our first month of the Write the Story project. The participation was stronger than we expected for the first month and the stories were excellent.

Thanks also to all of you who took the time to read these fantastic stories and to visit the authors’ pages, blogs, or websites. The focus of this project is to have fun and do a creative exercise by writing a story from a prompt and then sharing the story to increase everyone’s following. I can say that I saw an increase in followers on my blog after my story posted. I hope everyone else did as well.

We are about to do this again! February’s prompt will be revealed tomorrow. Warm up your laptops or open those writing apps… time to write February’s story!

If you are not a member of Writers Unite! on Facebook, you can still participate. Write your story and submit it to daratliff07@gmail.com and include Write the Story – February in the subject line.

If you missed any of the January stories or would like to read them again… you can find them HERE!

Thank for kicking Write the Story off to a successful start!!!