Monday, December 8, 2014

Lady With Binoculars by Patricia Crandall



Patricia Crandall's story, Lady With Binoculars, has been published by Clever Magazine. Please check out her story here:
CLEVER MAGAZINE   This is a fun read. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

IT HAPPENED IN BETHLEHEM by Patricia Crandall



Mary
a child in her womb,
fled with Joseph
to Bethlehem.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus.
To His manger
three wise men came,
guided by a brilliant star.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus.
The Infant,
Son of God;
our hope for all eternity.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Monday, November 10, 2014

JUST LIKE THAT by SakunaS (First Place Winner)

She whispered, her voice like a familiar song. Tears crept down her cheeks as she smiled.

"Shawn." Her voice sounded calm-secure, but her expression; her quivering lips and her furrowed brow revealed her pain, her agony. She pressed down a high pitch note on the piano keyboard with her index finger.

Her tears crept down her cheeks. "Beautiful, isn't it?" she said. Her tears were unceasing. She bit her quivering lip. Her tears became a stream. 

I nodded; she still had her focus on the piano. "Beautiful." I said, closing my eyes. She pressed down another key. She played a short melody. When the melody ended, I slowly opened my eyes. She was still staring at her fingers. The piano was in the middle of the practice room and on the sides were couches and guitars aligned like as if it was her silent audience. She stretched out her arm to grab her jacket, and walked around the piano, towards the door.

"Goodbye, Shawn." She turned the knob and walked out.

I took a deep breath and sighed. The saddest goodbye is when you know you'll never meet again.

It's been exactly one year since her disappearance. Just like that, she left. Not telling her friends, college mates or her family. Her disappearance created a huge scandal and I was in the middle of it.

The police put me as the prime suspect after discovering that I was the last to see her. Constant surveillance and questioning for about a month. Once, they had asked if there was any place she would frequently go, but I didn't know. All I knew was that she played the piano in the practice room every day. Then they asked if she preferred a certain type or brand of pianos, but I told them I didn't know. "You keep answering you don't know. Are you nervous or do you really know nothing about her?" The whole thing became tiring. 

Her disappearance remained a mystery. No one knew why. Her family was middle class, and she had close friends. Sure, her family was a bit strict, but she loved them. She was actually a mysterious girl. No one knew what she was thinking or wanted to do. Actually, she didn't know herself. She was stressing over her future just months before our graduation, she was still in the undecided major section. All she was clear of was that she loved playing the piano.

Yeah, no one really knew.

I pulled up my scarf in order to cover my mouth from the icy cold wind. I walked to the nearest cafe.  I pushed open the glass door, stomping my foot on the carpet to get the snow off my boots. The cafe was small. There were only about ten small rounded tables. The lighting in the cafe was perfect, though-not too bright or too dim; perfect for reading.

"For one, sir?" The waitress asked me. I nodded. "This way, please." She motioned me with her hands and led me to the third table closest from my entry.

The employee placed down the menu on my table. Before she turned and left, I quickly gave my order, "Regular coffee with one cream and two sweetener, please."

The waitress spun around, "Anything else for you, sir?" I shook my head. "Just a moment, sir." She took the menu and left.

A lady on my right caught my attention. Weird, I thought to myself. Like the majority of the women in the city, she had dark brown hair and pale white skin. The weird part on her behalf was the fact that she was wearing sunglasses and a thin piece of clothing in this type of weather- it was like negative twenty outside. It looks as if she had just landed here from Mexico. The type of necklace she's wearing and the numerous bracelets on her wrist seemed to say so.

"Could you stop staring at me, sir?" Her voice startled me--ringing in my ear. She didn't look at me and continued reading the newspaper she held in her hands.

"Sorry." I apologized, "you were just too captivating."

"Do you mean the way I dress?"

Surprised of her response, I remained silent. 

She giggled, "It's alright, it isn't the first time people have stared at me since I've arrived here."

"I deeply apologize."

"It's fine. Would you like to sit with me? I haven't had company for a long time." She offered, directing me to the seat across from her. "Please."

"Alright." I slide the chair away from the table, and sat down.

"So," she began, her eyes never meeting my gaze. "It's a cold city, huh?"

I laughed, "Can't you tell? We are in North America."

"Yes." She sipped from her cup.

"What makes you come here?" I try to start a conversation.

"I was born here."

"Why did you leave?"

"Well," she hesitated, "maybe it was because I wanted to escape reality? But it wasn't like I had a dream to live up to. I didn't have anywhere to go in particular. I just wanted to wander around, doing everything possible. Before I die."

I want to be a bird, flying through the never ending sky without a second thought in the world.

"Tch."

"Is something wrong?"

"No, just recalling an old, useless memory." 

"Hm, if it was useless, you wouldn't have remembered."

I laughed it off. "Well, anyway," I changed the subject, "you're way too young to think about death. It's a long way before we die."

Her pink lips curved into a smile. "Who knows? No one can tell the future. Besides, humans die just like," she paused and snapped her fingers, "that!"

She was surprisingly open with me.

"I guess." I mumbled, thinking about her. "How long are you staying?"

"I already stayed for a week. I'm leaving this evening."

"To where?"

She grinned. "Everywhere."

Dumbfounded by her answer, I asked, "when are you coming back here?"

"Never." She lifted her cup by the handle.

"I see." I said. I couldn't hold her back. I'm just a mere stranger sitting across from her, but why does it feel like she was so familiar?

She smiled and took a sip from her cup. "You know," She said, her gaze looking afar, right past me, and at the piano in the corner of the cafe. "I'm a pianist."

"I see."

"Would you like to hear me play?"

"Sure." I agreed.

She set down her cup and took off from her seat, heading towards the stage. There, a piano, guitar, and microphone was prepared. Though her performance wasn't scheduled, they seemed to be always available, as long as it meant offering entertainment to the customers
.

She sat and pressed her index finger on a high pitch note. Her gaze met mine; this was the first time I had a clear view of her face. It throbbed. She smiled. I press my palm against my left chest. Her expression told me that the sound of the piano was beautiful.

She started. Her pale fingertips pressed down the keys and it produced a beautiful sound. The song...so beautiful, I couldn't deny that.

However, of all songs in the world, why did she choose this one? I breathed in and out slowly--like the air around me thickened. She continued to play. My head hurts. It's throbbing. I jumped--the chair scratching the floor. I quickly turned and walked towards the door. My strides are longer and my pace quicker than usual. I heard the melody stop, and the pain also stopped, but the melody continued-lingering in my head.

"Goodbye, Shawn." I heard her mutter.

I pulled open the heavy glass door and walked out. I regained my breath. I was breathing heavily just like the incident before-like clouds floating upwards and dispersing. I watched the wind blow and snowflakes melted upon my cheeks and slid down.

I didn't want to see her again. She left just like that and she came back-just like that. The day I discovered she left, I fell. I fell into a pitch black hole and just like how she disappeared, I died. During my time in the pit, it stopped. My heart stopped. The feelings for her had died just like that. She left me, carrying the feelings I had for her.

I chuckled as I got on the bus. "Goodbye."

TURKEY TREATING by DW GRANT (Second Place Winner)


Sometime close to Thanksgiving, little Milton's family drove off and left him in a dirty gas station bathroom stall,  at a truck stop, just outside of Barstow. 

Eight year old Milton didn't panic. He knew his family loved him, Mom and Dad sometimes missed little details. They would be back, he reasoned, but not before Milton learned a valuable lesson about kindness that impacted all his remaining Thanksgivings.

Instead of crying, Milton went to the truck stop kitchen and tugged on the cook's apron. With just a little quiver in his voice, Milton shared his dilemma with the large sweaty cook who smelled very much like old fish and onions. 

"Ahem!" Milton coughed as he pulled on the blood and grease smeared apron. "Pardon me sir, but my parents have left me, and you smell like old fish and onions!"

"Whaaat?"  exploded the chef, as he turned and looked down on the top of a blonde mop of hair. "I smell like Whaaat?"

The man's voice had a bit of a lion's roar in it, and this scared Milton just a little, so that a little tear leaped from the corner of his left eye. Milton quickly wiped it away with his shirt sleeve, sniffed once, and stood up a little taller.

"First, I asked your pardon, as my parents taught me, so that my following words wouldn't offend you, too much. Then I reported my dilemma, that of being temporarily orphaned in your place of business. And maybe I said something about the flavor of the air I have to breathe in here, but I meant no disrespect."

The chef's responded with a little less volume, but was still scary.
"And what am I to do with you, little mop head? I ain't your uncle!"

Another tear dropped from Milton's right eye, and his nose began to run. Milton wiped both away, and tried to gulp down his fear. 

"Well, I was hoping, just hoping mind you, so that you do not get the idea that I'm asking for anything else, that you might have just one little corner.  I don't even need a chair.  I could stand, and with all appreciation sir, quietly in a safe corner, until my parents arrive."
Suddenly the chef had him in his smelly hands, and had whirled him around and sat him at a small table next to the walk-in freezer.  Milton thought he spotted a tear in the chef's eye, but no,  Milton knew chefs only cry when chopping onions.

"This is my table, where I eat. You like onions and cheese on your burger?"

"Cheese yes, onions no, please," replied Milton with a little shiver, because the chef's voice was still gruff, even in his kindness.  The chef yelled to the dining room, and Milton was soon letting his eyes and his nose, and all his fears, flow out on the apron of a very motherly waitress. 

Milton's parents showed up just as he was slurping up the last drop of a chocolate shake. They hugged him and cried and tried to apologize. His 14 brothers and sisters burst into the kitchen, too, every one of them in tears. The kitchen was all cries and apologies and full of the chaos until the chef pushed them all out into the parking lot with a few roars and a stiff corn stalk broom. 

On the way home Milton looked out the van window and saw a sad and dirty man holding a sign he could hardly read. It said "veteran, hungry."

As they moved through the intersection Milton asked his father "Daddy, what's a vet-er-an?" and His daddy told him. "Why is he hungry, daddy?" His father didn't answer, and Milton was soon deep in thought. 

"I wonder if his family has left him alone, like mine did. How could they forget him?" And another tear dropped from Milton's left eye.

That night Milton began praying for the sad old veteran, and he had a dream too. In this dream Milton was trick–or-treating, and each house door opened to reveal the sad old veteran holding an empty plate. Milton's response was to pull a turkey leg from his candy sack and put it on the plate, but it didn't make the sad old veteran happy, even though he seemed thankful.


His mother laughed when he told it to her. 


"Sounds like you were Turkey Treating!" 


They both laughed, then Milton's mother asked a serious question.


"Did the hamburger at the truck stop make you happy?"

"Well it helped," answered Milton, "but seeing my family is what really made me happy."


"How do you think that applies here?" It took a few days and a little more prayer to figure it out.
The day before Thanksgiving Milton asked his father if they could find the sad old veteran and make him part of their family on Thanksgiving Day. They did bring him home for dinner, along with a young veteran they met in church. They ate dinner, swapped "war" stories, ate some more, and swapped more stories, until almost all the children, and certainly Milton,  had  to be carried to bed. 

The next morning Milton asked what happened to their guests. His father told him they talked a little more, prayed, and then he took the men to their "homes."

"And do you  know the last thing each of them said before they left the car?"

"No dad, what?" said all of the children and mother at the same time.
 "They said thanks for giving us a family tonight. Now we don't feel so forgotten."

"Well," said Milton after every one said a short prayer for each man, "I guess that's what Turkey Treating is for. Can we do it again next year?"

"We can, as often as God puts someone in need of a family on our hearts."





Want to see what DW has been producing? Just Google "By DW Grant" and you should see links to his work! You can also go to www.manifestox.wordpress.com  to read his blog, or to see his publishing successes go to www.dwbookstore.com 




 

WOLF TELLS ALL by MARGARET FIELAND (Third Place Winner)


It was an unusually hard winter, where even the bears were reduced to eating porridge, so when I spotted Little Red Riding Hood strolling through the forest, basket in hand, I accosted her at once.

"Stand and deliver," I growled. I am, alas, addicted to late night movies.

"What do you mean?" Red smiled sweetly and batted her eyelashes.

"Give me the basket, or I'll eat you," I barked.

"Oh, no you won't." Red turned and sprinted down the path to Grandmother's house.  That girl could run.

I turned tail and loped after her, but she slipped through Grandmother's front door ahead of me.  I had my paw on the knob when the Hunter tapped me on the shoulder.

"What's going on here?" Hunter heaved his ax and swung, lodging it firmly in the front door of the house and narrowly missing my tail.

"I was simply enjoying a jog on a beautiful morning." But my attempt at a nonchalant attitude was spoiled by my need to open my mouth, stick out my tongue, and pant.

"He's lying." Red cracked the front door. "He tried to steal my pie."

I took the opportunity to body-slam the door. I tumbled in, followed by Hunter.

"Hey, Wolf, come on outside." Hunter grabbed me by the ruff. "No stealing Red's goodies."

"I'm hungry," I whined. "Even wolves have to eat." I rolled on my back and waved my paws in the air. Red would have scratched my belly, but Hunter held her back.

"I've got rats in the cellar," Grandmother offered as she stumped down the hall to join us. "They're all yours if you want them."

"I still think I should kill him," Hunter said.

"Nothing doing. I'm too damn old to catch my own rats." Grandmother shooed Hunter and Red out the door, then stumped down the hall to a small room with two chairs, a table, and an open fireplace. A large kettle hung from an iron rod over the fire. Flames licked the bottom of the pot. Grandmother grabbed a long wooden spoon and began to stir the contents.

"Uh, I could use a little pick-me-up. Otherwise I might pass out trying to catch rats."

"Nothing doing. Rats first, stew later."

So I ambled down to the basement to catch rats.  After gorging myself on several of the largest, I returned upstairs to discover Grandmother asleep in a chair by the fire. I didn't want to wake her up, so I curled up on the hearth and fell asleep. I didn't even sample the stew.

That set the pattern of our days. Things were good. I ate rats and played whist  or poker with Grandmother. At night, I'd sleep beside the fire or at the foot of Grandmother's bed. At the beginning of April, I ate her and ran off, but she was dead before I swallowed her, I swear it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

WINNERS OF FLASH FICTION CONTEST

The winners of the flash fiction contest are:


FIRST PLACE:

Just Like That by SakunaS

SECOND PLACE:

Turkey Treating by DW Grant

THIRD PLACE:

Wolf Tells All by Margaret Fieland

Their stories will be posted immediate following this.

Thank you all for your participationg.

Linda Barnett-Johnson & Patricia Crandall

Thursday, November 6, 2014

THROUGH A COUNTRY WINDOW (poem for November)




THROUGH A COUNTRY WINDOW
by
Patricia Crandall

Reclining in my favorite,
low rocking chair
inside a calico blue kitchen
scented by pumpkin spice muffins,
I gaze through the window
to a point where sun
strikes leaves of shimmering gold
strung on trees in autumn.
In straw fields
lie orange pumpkin rounds.
Corn stalk sentries
stand tall and erect.
It is time to harvest
and reap in good thoughts.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A WITCH-LINK TO SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS by Patricia Crandall





A Witch-Link to Salem, Massachusetts

I am acquainted with a witch. Not a witch dressed in a long black dress, flowing cape or pointed hat, nor does she flip a wand to zap me into a frog. Virginie Esmor is a present-day witch who dresses in elegant black slacks, vibrantly patterned, silk over-blouses and shapely clogs. Long, red-beaded earrings dangle from her ears to her shoulders. An assortment of twisty snake bracelets ringed by tiny silver stars and occult charms, remind me that she is an ordained witch.
            Virginie owns an eclectic craft emporium filled with exotic tapestries, jewelry, pottery, soy candles, luscious smelling creams and lotions, and sparkling crystals crafted by local artists. Many of those artists are cult friends.


            Amidst of fountains washing waters over smooth rocks and pebbles, I am intrigued by the hand-waving conversations of Eugenie and her friends and associates concerning recent ‘witch-happenings’ attributed to The Pagan Resource and Network Council of Educators. P.R.A.N.C.E., has been instrumental in the reconstruction of the Witch Village in Salem, Massachusetts and has hosted the ‘Witches’ Hospitality Tent’ every year. Located on the Common during Salem’s Haunted Happenings, Prance gives Pagan/Wiccan tourists information and a warm welcome to the ‘Witch City.'
The Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum, and the Witch History Museum take you back to 1692, yet, present-day popularization of the witchcraft hysteria, does not reveal the large number of witches living in Salem today.
 The goal of the Salem Witch Village is to promote religious tolerance and participation in a positive society that encourages growth and acceptance of all of its people.
Virginie and I vacation in Salem - not together! The link we have to each other is our discussions of our own particular interests in Salem, Massachusetts. Otherwise, we travel with our own entourage.
            My family and I enjoy touring Chestnut Street, a registered National Historic Landmark, considered one of the most architecturally beautiful streets in America. It is a showcase of grand antique houses and part of Salem’s McIntyre Historic District.
Other points of interest are the schooner, Fame, at the Pickering Wharf Marina, a replica of the successful privateer from the War of 1812. Fame sails from Memorial Day through September  - weather permitting. Forest River Park offers beaches and picnic areas. Hamilton Hall, built between 1805 and 1807, and designed by Samuel McIntire, is a social center for Salem’s merchant families. This National Register historic landmark remains a unique setting for special functions and weddings.
My special destination in Salem is the House of the Seven Gables made famous by author, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
“God will give him blood to drink!” An evil house, cursed through the centuries by a man who was hanged for witchcraft, haunted by the ghosts of its sinful dead, wracked by the fear of its frightened living….
Four Pyncheons play a part inside the blighted house: Hepzibah, an elderly recluse; Clifford, her feeble-minded brother; Phoebe, their young country cousin…and Jaffrey, a devil incarnate whose greedy quest for secret wealth is marked by murder and terrible vengeance from a restless grave.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works are imbued with a mixture of the actual and the imaginary, and The House of the Seven Gables is an enduring example. The puritanical Colonel Pyncheon is the embodiment of Hawthorne’s own great grandfather, a judge at the Salem witch trials; the gloomy, gabled house with a secret passage, typifies his own depressing home. It is this masterful blending of the spiritual and symbolic that allows Hawthorne’s haunted house to stand firm where many a weaker one has fallen.*
For academic interests and the pure enjoyment of “seeing sites New-Englandly,” Salem gives me the opportunity to tour nearby areas made famous by Henry David Thoreau, the Cambridge of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickenson’s Amherst, and the Orchard House at Concord. Louisa M. Alcott wrote Little Women at The Wayside in Concord, and, of course, there is Boston – the place where powerful and original literary expression in America began.
            Virginie revels in Dracula’s Castle, Salem’s haunted house. Eerie chambers filled with “live spirits” lead to Dracula’s haunted crypt. The Peabody Essex Museum exhibits eerie memorabilia associated with Salem Witch trials, such as the “Witch Pins” used in the examination of witches and a small bottle supposed to contain the finger bones of victim George Jacobs. The bizarre, seemingly inexplicable behavior of two young girls, the daughter, Betty, and the niece, Abigail Williams, of the Salem Village minister, Reverend Samuel Parris, launched the hysteria which led to the trials.
In February1692, Magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hawthorne examined three accused women. Corwin’s home, known as the Witch House, still stands at the corner of North and Essex Streets in Salem. This is the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. Guided tours and tales of the first witchcraft trials are provided there. John Hawthorne is an ancestor of author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Finally, back at Eugenie’s Emporium - at times I feel uncomfortable in the aura of witches, particularly when Jim-bo, a long-limbed Indian sits in a trance in a room furnished in surreal and Wiccan accessories, preparing to tell fortunes. It is my prerogative to leave. I am not a witch.
Other tours and points of interest in Salem:
 Burying Point (1637), Charter Street – The oldest cemetery in Salem. Contains the graves of a Mayflower pilgrim and witchcraft trial judge John Hathorne.

Hollywood House of Wax, Museum Place Mall – Movie stars and monsters from supernatural Hollywood.

Nathaniel Bowditch House, 9 North Street – Home of Nathaniel Bowditch from 1811 to 1823. It is a National Historic Landmark, and is significant both architecturally and historically. The house is being restored.

New England Pirate Museum, 274 Derby Street – Piracy flourished in Salem post 1692. Notorious villains like Blackbeard and Kidd prowled the coast. Relive their adventures. Admission: Adults $6; Seniors $5; Under 14 $4.

Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square – built in 1816 after the land was donated to the City of Salem by John Derby III and Benjamin Pickman, Jr., it was the city headquarters until 1836/37 when the new City Hall was erected on Washington Street.

Salem Common, Washington Square – Nine-acre park which was the public land used to graze livestock and train local militia in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today it is used for concerts and community activities.

Spellbound Museum, 190 Essex Street – Authentic historical, cultural and religious artifacts pertaining to the supernatural world. Experience America’s only “Ghost Gallery!” New England’s only museum dedicated to the supernatural world and its mysteries.


Witch Mansion in 3D, 11 Pickering Way – Salem’s only 3D Haunted House. Located at Pickering Wharf.


*The House of the Seven Gables -  New American Library  1961


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

CONTEST WITH PRIZES (no fee)

CONTEST: (no fee) PRIZES

Hello writing friends. It’s contest time again. We are looking for flash fiction stories under 1000 words, and we’re only accepting the first 30 (thirty) entries. So get your story in right away if you want to be counted. This contest starts TODAY, October 1, 2014.

This is a NO FEE contest. Check your spelling and grammar. The deadline is: October 31, 2014. We won’t take anything after that date. The judging will be done in November and we’ll let the winners know by the end of November. Your story will be posted on Patricia Crandall’s blog for one month. It will stay published on Linda Barnett-Johnson’s blog, unless asked to be removed. It will also be featured on the home page of Long Story Short e-zine. Please put ‘CONTEST’ in the subject line. Please copy and paste onto the body of the email. 

DON’T SEND AN ATTACHMENT. THEY WON’T BE OPENED. 

Previously published work acceptable if you have rights and it has not been published since a three year period.

Here’s what is being given away by Patricia Crandall, author of The Dog Men, Pat’s Collectibles and winner of several short story submissions.

PRIZES:

First: $30.00 and an anthology of short stories

Second: autographed copy of The Dog Men plus a bestseller of your choice valued at $20.00

Third: autographed copy of Pat's Collectibles paired with a bestseller of your choice valued at $20.00

As you can see, this is a win-win situation.  We’d like to suggest no profanity, explicit sex, or abuse of animals or people. Use our good ol’ English language.

We look forward to reading your flash fiction stories. Only one submission per author. 


Thank you and good luck!

Patricia Crandall & Linda Barnett-Johnson 


ONCE UPON A WINTER WALK by Patricia Crandall

Once upon a winter walk down a foot worn path, after a new fallen snow, tree limbs were heavily laden with stark white condensatio...