Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Spring Cleaning

Musty wet leaf odor fills my nose. I anticipate a sneezing fit before I”m done. Load after load  of molding or crispy leaves laying since last autumn’s fall. Ninety percent oak with generous helping of maple. Salted with leaves from redbud and cottonwood. The entirety dusted with a sprinkle of cedar twigs dropped for pleasure.

I silently curse the dryads for finding it a necessity to place the dead falls a foot deep on my flower beds. It is some hours of rake and splinters and a break or two before I finally see the earth.

Previously hidden puddles seep around the fresh green that earlier today was buried under the warmth of decay. Protected from early spring’s fluctuations of temperament new growth begins.

I continue to work as damp dirt embeds the creases of my hands and gathers under my nails. The air seems suddenly hearty and gloriously fresh. My muscles move smoothly with no ache or strain.

After the chore,  I lean back in a lawn chair to survey the results of my efforts. A temperate breeze alternates with sun on my face as I plot. Need a small pruning here. Reseeding there. Some bare spots require new plantings. The budding limbs of the old oak wave approval of my progress and maples whisper inspiration for future projects.

And I silently curse as I realize, I am the dryad of this urban parkland.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


The cobwebs are thick in this space. So long since I've entered. 
More than two years of life and new responsibilities.
And death.

When I unintentionally abandoned this keeper of my words, I'd just begun a new job. Learning and trying not to stress over new things. Within the year I was fortunate to receive a promotion. More learning; and accepting I will always stress over new things. 

I kept the words in my head. After so long the voices got bored with the wait. They'd start a story, then forget to tell what came next. Not that I took the time to record all they said. Too many other things.

A year of continual car trouble. An air conditioner that stopped working.

Then a year ago my husband of thirty years was diagnosed with cancer. Bone cancer.

We went to all the appointments. Started all the new medications. Things seemed stable.

First part of this year,the furnace broke.

The roof needed replaced.

Those issues were attended to. The words were forgotten before I could write them.

Suddenly things were not so stable. The meds for the cancer not working. Switch to a new one.

The voices kept the stories to themselves.

We stumbled into summer. Saying to each other all the things that needed saying. That we wanted to make sure we said. Every day. Multiple times a day.

The past few months were exhausting for both of us. His pain increased almost daily. 
We cried together. We still found things to laugh about and clung to them. We said "I love you," every day. Multiple times a day.

Watching him in pain and unable to do anything to help was awful. I am eternally thankful to hospice care for the 24 hours nurses that final five days. The family and I would never have survived whole without them.

On August 7th, 2018, the battle ended. My husband passed peacefully at home with my daughter and I at his side.

There was sadness, and relief. The majority of grieving, we did together over the past year.

Now some time has passed. I hear the murmur in my head. 

I'll try now to find the time to listen and let the words return.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Tuesday Flash Fiction Train Challenge Round 4/Part 4

Here I am sliding in at the last minute again for the #TuesFlashFicTrain Challenge with my next take on Gloria's story!

Gloria crept down the hallway in the direction the two intruders had gone. She’d been thrilled to find the invisibility shawl still folded in its original plastic packing. Once beneath its cover she noticed the light was a bit dimmer, and the sound of her footsteps seemed muffled. She hoped that effect would help her get close enough to her quarry to perform the spells she’d decided on.

Working her way through the maze of hallways, Gloria checked each door she passed. So far all had been locked. She had a pretty good idea where the men had been headed. The main security office; it handled the incoming calls as well as keeping the non-witch personnel from accidentally stumbling upon the work that went on after hours. If people found out exactly how the city’s infrastructure was really kept together…well, it would not be good.

Gloria rounded the next corner and nearly ran into the pair of scoundrels she’d been hunting.

“Come on Tom! We won’t have all night.” The deep voice came from a tall, dark haired man wearing a long, black cloak. He wielded an ivory wand carved with symbols that made Gloria’s stomach heave. 

The other man was a foot and a half shorter and dressed in faded jeans and a dirty pocket t-shirt. “This is an art Manny, if you're in a hurry just use that twig you're waving around instead.” He never looked up from the knob he was working with a lock pick.

Manny just scowled at the other man’s back. Gloria knew he couldn’t use the wand to force the door without causing several alarm wards to sound. The designers hadn’t counted on a simple thieves’ trick in this part of the building.

Under the cover of the shawl, Gloria lit a yellow candle and pulled one of the packets and a small marble bowl from her pocket. After measuring the proper amount for a stasis spell she drew a breath and opened her mouth to recite the paralysis incantation. 

But, when she formed the words, no sound came from her throat. Not only was she hidden visibly, she evidently couldn’t be heard either. And if she couldn’t recite the spell, her wand, the candle and powder were useless. 

Gloria silently cursed herself for not reading the packaging completely. She hadn’t grabbed an invisibility shawl, she was wearing a solitude shield.

Friday, April 15, 2016


Tara gave us "south" this week for the 100 Word Challenge. having finally gotten the peas in today (here in the north), this is where I went...

Bitter wind blew, raising goose bumps on the back of her neck. The long running winter had almost broken her will.

The stubborn daffodils, refusing to be held at bay kept her from giving up completely.

She stood in the yard, waiting for the dog to finish investigating the frosted grass. 

Her breath exited in cold cast miniature clouds. 

As she shivered in her light jacket, the dog raised a nose to the wind.

She curiously lifted her own muted sense to sniff the air.

Her eyes widened in delight.

Ever so faint, from the south, she smelled spring arrive.

Tuesday Flash Fiction Train R4W3

I didn't get a chance to play at Kat's TuesFlashFicTrain last week, but Stacy'sentry was perfect. Here's what I came up with to follow.

Gloria backed out of the room never taking her eyes off Harvey’s back. With nowhere else to go, she returned to the supply closet. She ducked inside and pulled the door shut.

She kept one ear to the door as she lit one of the candles she’d just collected. “I don’t know what’s going on,” she whispered to the flickering taper, “but if Harvey thinks he can ‘take care’ of me, he’s got another thing coming.!”

Squinting in the restless light, Gloria scanned the overflowing shelves. “Ah ha!” she grabbed a small pouch tucked neatly between two jars.

“Won’t be quite as powerful without my wand, but it’ll have to do.”

She poured just a pinch of silver powder from the pouch into the palm of her hand.  After reciting a short incantation, Gloria blew the shimmering dust into the air; then walked beneath it.

She exited the closet again, shutting the door with a firm hand. Gloria walked back to the office to see Harvey expectantly awaiting her, having heard the door close.

“There you are, Glo.” Harvey smiled, “I thought I’d catch you before you went on break, get this over with.”

Gloria smiled back, the candles clutched in her hand. “Sure, Harvey. What’s this meeting about anyhow?”

“Oh, just some security measures we need to go over.”

Gloria kept smiling. “Okay, your office?”

“Yeah, that’s perfect!” Harvey grinned as he gestured for her to precede him.

Harvey and his companion exited the office and strolled down the narrow hallway past the supply closet and turned the next corner.

A few minutes after they passed, the closet door opened a sliver; then wider as Gloria stepped out. She ran quickly to her desk and snatched her wand and a book of basic spells. Her pocket bulged with what she hoped would be the most useful ingredients to find out what the two men and her sleazy supervisor were up to. 

She also carried a shimmering invisibility shawl. Before she left the office again, she threw it over her shoulders. As soon as Harvey figured out the ‘Gloria’ he was escorting to his office was actually the janitor’s dust mop, he’d be back.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Without the Letter Before B

Muddled through this week's 100 Word Chllenge without the letter before B. 
100 Word Challenge

None of those. Not here. They’ll throw you out if you do.

I’m serious. Mustn’t do it!

How difficult could it be?

Terribly difficult.

See, words ditto-ing themselves so soon.

But, finished one fourth!

Trying to think thoughts without them.

Mind numbing!

Fingers fidgeting over the keys.

The first to come to mind, must be thrown out.

Shuffling through the options. 

Begin over.

Sighs upon sighs.

Over fifty percent now.

Ooh! Two thirds!

Heh heh, three fourths to the end.

Not much longer, four fifths.

I will do it!

Such silliness to nine tenths.


I’ve found the end.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Flash Fiction Train Challenge R4-W1

Popping into the Tuesday Flash Fiction Challenge with Kat Avila again.  Here's this week's offering.

Gloria hustled to grab her jacket from the locker room, then ran for the time clock. She’d gotten a late start this evening; her keys managing to not be where she’d expected. Ten minutes wasted searching for them left her rushing to be at her post on time. As she rounded the corner she slammed into Harvey.

“Pushing the time limits tonight, Glo?” he asked.

Gloria muttered about the missing keys as she attempted to side-step the assistant supervisor. He anticipated the move and blocked her escape. “Don’t forget to check in on your break tonight. I need a word with you.”

“Yeah, sure.” Gloria made another attempt to pass him.

Harvey grabbed her arm, his eyes bored into hers, “Seriously, Gloria, you need to show up this time.”

She wrenched her arm from his grasp, “Fine, Harvey, I’ll find you.” She stared at him until he stepped aside and let her pass. As she hurried away, she could feel him watching her. Shivers rippled up her back telling her to turn and make certain he hadn’t followed her. She resisted the urge; this time. She supposed she’d better make the meeting, Harvey would make the paranoia worse if she kept defying him.

Gloria punched her card with one minute to spare. The sense of relief she’d gotten from being on time faded as she walked the long hall to her cubicle. At this hour no one else was on duty. The dim night-lights cast eerie shadows along the way. 

She hated the night shift. The old building seemed intent on letting her know she was alone in this section. Random thumps and groans echoed down the hallway. When she reached her department, the only light came from her desk. At least someone had left it on for her. She shuffled to the space as quietly as she could. The rap of her heels only accentuated the empty desks she passed on the way.

Gloria dropped into her chair with a sigh. The screen in front of her was already filling with tasks to be attended. She opened the large drawer in the desk and cringed as it uttered a metallic shriek. Shuddering, she dropped her handbag inside and kicked it shut. She gingerly tested the next drawer, relieved with its hushed compliance. She shuffled through its interior until she located her wand and candles.

After printing out the list of problems to fix, she pulled up a map of the city and zoomed in on her sector.