venerdì 23 agosto 2019

Fair Treatment?

Welcome to The Spot Writers. August’s prompt is to use these five words in a story or poem: besides, fishes, inn, owing, born.

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. Last December, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.

Fair Treatment?
 by Phil Yeats

I sat in the country inn waiting for my co-conspirators. Did anyone besides me harbour doubts about our plans for the evening? Our target was beyond redemption, a privileged individual born to wealth but no more than a petty criminal, a conman owing money to everyone. And his latest scheme, if it succeeded, would destroy the town and impoverish all its citizens. We’d exhausted all other options, but was it right that tonight he would sleep with the fishes?

giovedì 15 agosto 2019

Go Fish

Welcome to The Spot Writers. August’s prompt is to use these five words in a story or poem: besides, fishes, inn, owing, born.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon.
MISTER WOLFE (the sequel) coming soon!

Go Fish
by Cathy MacKenzie

Amber looked up toward the large blue-shingled house, which was so unfamiliar to her. What little they’d moved into the house two days previous was in disarray. The bulk of their furniture and other possessions weren’t due to be delivered for another week. Until then, the family would sleep at the Riverside Inn and spend days at the house.
According to her mother, there was plenty to do at the new house. "Dad has to mow the lawn, and I have to clean," she’d said. "You kids can organize your rooms.” She had smiled. “And play, too. Summer will soon be over.”
Right, Amber thought. Organize our rooms? What is there to organize?
She was thankful she didn’t have to deal with school the same time as the move. But Labour Day would soon be upon them, marking the end of summer vacation. Luckily, her parents had bought a house in the same neighbourhood, so she and her brother, Julien, would still be attending the same schools. 
Her mother couldn’t understand why it had to take so long for their furniture to be packed up and delivered. “Spencer, why don’t we rent a truck and move ourselves? This is ridiculous,” she had spouted. “We’re less than ten blocks away, for Pete’s sake.”
Apparently, the end of July was the busiest time for movers in their area, and Amber’s father wouldn’t admit he had procrastinated calling the moving company. She knew he had messed up when she overheard him arguing on the telephone with the company. She was glad he’d apologized or they might never have gotten a moving date.
Amber liked their new house, which was much larger than their previous one. The grounds were more spacious, too. Numerous colourful flowers grew alongside the house, mostly all foreign to her, although she did recognize the daisies.
And, of course, she was familiar with rose bushes that bordered one side of the fish pond.
But what good was a fish pond without fish?
“I can't believe there’s no fish,” she said, glancing at her brother.
“Yeah, according to Dad, the previous owner said they died.”
“I don't know why we can't get more.”
Julien sighed. “Mom can't be bothered. She figures Dad won't help out and then it'll all fall on her. In the spring she said we can get some. She hates the thought of them in the cold all winter. You know her.”
“But goldfish are supposed to survive over the winter. Though I don’t know how.”
“You're supposed to make sure there's a hole in the ice so the fish can breathe while they hibernate.”
“If they hibernate, why do they need a hole in the ice?”
Julian glared at her. “I don't know. Just what I've read.”
“Dad says you read too much.”
“Yeah, well Mom says you daydream too much.”
She ignored him and stared into the pond. She shook the unopened container of fish food, which she had grabbed off the shelf in the garage.
“I'm going to sprinkle some food on the water. Maybe if the other people had fed them, they’d still be alive.”
“No sense feeding dead fish,” Julien said.
Ignoring her brother, she unscrewed the lid and sprinkled flakes on the water.
“It’s probably old. That’s why they left it,” Julien said. “Outdated. Not good for anything. And you know what? If the owners said they hadn’t fed the fish for two years, it’s probably more like five. Everyone lies.”
The flakes floated together for a few seconds and slowly separated.
“The poor dead fishes,” Amber said, swiping at her eyes with her left hand. She'd been teary lately, which was unusual for her, probably owing to the stress of the move. She was only twelve, but her hormones would be raging sooner than later. And more tears, she figured.
She shrieked. “Look! What’s that?”
“What’s what?”
“There.” She pointed. “Isn’t that a fish?”
While she watched, another bright orange fish swam alongside.
Another appeared.
And a fourth.
The last two were a paler orange. Almost translucent.
“I don’t believe it,” Julien said. “They can't have survived for this long.”
“Look, they’re jumping at the food. We have to go tell Mom.”
“No, we can’t tell her. She’s got enough on her mind. Besides, if you tell her, she’ll freak about them all winter long.”
“What, then? We don’t tell anyone they’re here?”
“We’ll just come down and feed them every day. Then, over the winter, we’ll make sure there’s a hole in the ice. We can surprise Mom in the spring, once the snow is gone.”
“Mom wasn’t born yesterday. Don’t you think she’ll find out?”
“How will she find out? Besides, once she knows these fish survived, she’ll be more receptive to getting more.”
“What about Dad? Should we tell him?”
“No, Dad’ll only tell Mom. They don’t have secrets, remember.”
“Yeah, right.” She’d heard her parents talk enough about how marriages shouldn’t have secrets, no matter how small. She giggled. Her father hadn’t shared the moving van story. “Okay, it’s our secret? No one else’s?”
“Yep, it’s our secret.”
“Oh, I love secrets,” Amber said, already anticipating telling her mother. She might even tell her the moving van secret.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

venerdì 2 agosto 2019

The tree of Dorian Gray

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is a story about a tree of (any type of) significance that is cut or falls down.
This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

The tree of Dorian Gray
by Chiara De Giorgi

Do you remember the first time you acted badly? I mean consciously. Like, for example you told a lie and were aware that your lie would damage another; or you stole something with the clear purpose of hurting someone. Me, I think I was seven, and I did both.

I was angry with Toby, my neighbor and class-mate. We had spent a whole afternoon together at his place, working on a school project. It was about ecology. We built a model of a landscape with pebbles and leaves, I think it was really cute in the end. The following morning, Toby fell down the stairs while he was carrying the model. He broke his arm, and the model. Miss Brown was very sympathetic and gave us another week to bring in another one, but I was upset. He should have been more careful. So I planned my revenge.
A few weeks later, it was Laura and Mindy’s turn to present their project, I think it was a pyramid or something, I don’t remember. Anyway, during lunch I stole it and hid it inside Toby’s schoolbag. Then I went to Miss Brown and told her I had seen Toby steal and hide the girls’ model. Toby was punished, both by Miss Brown and his own parents, and I felt bad. Not enough, though, to gather enough courage and tell the truth.
I was ashamed of myself for what I’d done, and ran to the woods, screaming and crying. I stopped by a large tree and told it everything. When my speech was over, I realized I could blame Toby: hadn’t he crushed our model, nothing would have happened. I felt better at once, and I went back home.

After that, I got used to going to the large tree every time I did something that bothered my conscience. Soon I noticed that the tree was slowly rotting away. The more the tree decomposed, the less my conscience bothered me, until one day I realized I could do anything I wanted and not be bothered at all.
By then I was older and read “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. How I loved that book! I named my tree “The Tree of Dorian Gray”, and felt completely free for the first time in my life. I could be and do whatever I wanted, the tree would rot and I would stay spotless. Incredibly, none of my malfeasances caused people to dislike or accuse me. It was always somebody else who paid the price in the end.
I should have known that it couldn’t last forever.

When the first injunction reached me, and then the second, and the third… I realized something must have happened. I went to the woods and saw: Where so many tall trees used to grow, concealing “my” tree from the view, now was a construction site. There were no trees anymore.

I know what awaits me now: injunctions will keep coming and coming, every wrong I’ve ever made in the dark will be exposed.
It’s over.

The Spot Writers—Our Members:
Val Muller:
Catherine A. MacKenzie:
Phil Yeats:
Chiara De Giorgi:

venerdì 26 luglio 2019

Our big old Chestnut

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is a story about a tree of (any type of) significance that is cut or falls down.

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. Last December, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.

Our big old Chestnut
by Phil Yeats

I checked the caller ID after my phone chirped. “Hey Sis, what’s up?”
“Damn tree, it’s broken another window.”
I sighed, unsurprised by the abrupt announcement without as much as a hello, how are you. That’s how our minimally communicative family behaved.
“The old chestnut, I suppose.”
She snorted. “What else. It’s old, rotting, and too damned close to the house. A bloody limb broke off, but Mum won’t let us cut it down.”
I checked my appointment calendar. “Two meetings this morning that I can’t avoid. I’ll head out as soon as I’m clear.”
“Here between five and six?”
“Looks like it.”

At one, I left the city that had been my home for two decades to the town where I lived as a teenager. My formative years hadn’t been easy ones. We lived in an isolated off-the-grid house that complicated most activities, but the real problem was my father’s strange beliefs.
He’d sit for hours reading his bible but didn’t attend church. We didn’t belong to any known Christian congregation, but he based his life on the insights he gained from his readings.
He never tried to influence me, or expect us to follow his example, but it made us different, outcasts from society. I followed my own muse until my eighteenth birthday. On that morning, my almost non-existent father announced that his bible reading taught him it was my duty as his son to leave home and never return. He didn’t just kick me out. He provided a substantial nest egg that would, in his view, provide for the college education I needed to find my calling.
And what about my mother, you might ask? She was an enigma, seen but seldom heard, and never known to express an opinion. And my little sister? She was only twelve when I left.
Ten years later, I returned to the family home. My father had died, and I thought my mother and sister, now twenty-three and living at home, would need me.
My first homecoming was a strange event. Mother didn’t acknowledge my presence and my sister appeared incapable of dealing with the bizarre situation. But we made contact, and she eventually learned to approach me when dealing with our mother become too difficult.

This time, I bought a new window pane at the nearest glass shop the evening I arrived. In the morning, I climbed the tree and removed the broken limb. I discovered our chestnut was beyond hope, so soft a screwdriver sunk in to its hilt.
After installing the window pane, I found my sister tidying the already spotless kitchen. “You’re right about the tree. It’s unsafe, it must go.”
“But Mum won’t agree. It’s her house, she pays for everything and well, she makes all the decisions.”
I sighed, dreading the confrontation I couldn’t avoid. I’d been home two or three times a year in the decade since my initial return after my father died. During those trips, she never appeared. If I needed to discuss something, I visited her private sitting room. The meetings never went well.

“Come in Jacob,” she said when I knocked on her door. I was taken aback because she didn’t bark in her normal fashion. In fact, she sounded almost pleased to welcome me.
“Come stand by the window,” she added when I hesitated inside the door. “I watched you trying to repair our old chestnut. You’re here to tell me it must go.”
I nodded, and she continued before I said anything. “I remember watching with trepidation as you climbed into the highest branches, and Margaret with her dolls in the shade below. She was so timid, afraid to climb to the lowest branch. They’re among my few fond memories.”
She abandoned the window and strode to the door. “I assume you and Margaret will dine before you return to the city. Tell her I’ll join you.”
I stepped through the door. “And she should contact the arborist before that sickly old tree does any additional damage.”