Moving On

I had to apologize to my husband, Kevin before I could go on to my next life. My dead body in Bill’s bed made that pretty clear.

I had no breath with which to speak, and so I would have to write him a note.

But grasping a pen with these wispy fingers was not easy, and it was nearly impossible to drag one across paper, let alone to make it write. Daily I struggled with it, and every evening I watched Kevin drink Maker’s Mark, staring at Simpsons reruns without laughing. I ached to clasp him to my insubstantial bosom, but when I drew near to comfort him, he got up and put on a sweater.

But sometimes he went out. It always surprised me so much that I couldn’t drift to the garage in time to get into the car. Where did he go? Instead of drinking at home, alone, maybe he was going to a bar. I wanted to find out. And if no one there would talk to him, maybe I could keep my poor sweetie company.

One night I was in the garage looking at my garden tools, wondering what he was going to do with them, when Kevin got home from work. He left the car door open, so either he forgot to close it, or he was going out.

I slipped into the car to wait, just in case. After all, I had no pressing need to stay home. I didn’t have to cook dinner. Or eat. Or go to the bathroom. All I had was time.

He drove to our friend, Dot’s house and I flowed up the sidewalk with him. She greeted him at the door with a warm smile and a ladylike handshake. Dot was always charming. Kevin did well to visit her.

I slid in the door alongside him. As soon as she got the door closed, Dot clamped her arms around Kevin’s neck and greeted him with a sloppy kiss. What the hell?

“Move in with me, now that the old bat is dead,” she said.

He stiffened and glanced at the floor. “Not yet. We have to wait a decent period.”

Old bat! Old bat? I flew around the room. I wanted to shred his toupee. I wanted to throw her Precious Moments plates off the mantel. But the only physical thing I had taught myself to do was to hold a pen.

I had been going to write him a note of apology.

I was a birdbrain.

The next day I practiced more useful things than holding a stupid pen, and the next time Kevin went out, I was ready.

But he didn’t drive to Dot’s house. He headed toward my friend, Shirley’s. She was a great person, always full of fun, and never had a bad word to say about anyone. She’d be able to cheer him up. I wondered why he was going to see Shirley instead of his girlfriend, Dot? Maybe Dot’s invitation for him to move in made him antsy. Well, I could get back to her later. I had a bone to pick with her.

Not that I had a bone.Kathleen's Grave Couple

I scooted ahead of Kevin into the house and darned if Shirley didn’t greet him with a big old kiss.

I swung my fist into an old family photo and knocked it a whole half inch out of whack.

Kevin and Shirley were smooching and didn’t notice.

I flew up to the ceiling and smacked the light fixture. Some dead fruit flies fell through me.

Shirley took Kevin’s hand and led him to the kitchen. I watched them chat over dinner. They used paper napkins. Twice I pulled them off their laps, and dropped them on the floor.

The second time I did it, Shirley shivered. “Excuse me, Kev, while I turn the heat up.”

“Kev,” she called him! He hated being called Kev. Why did he let her get away with it?

I followed her to the thermostat and tried to flick her hair, but it was fused.

Kevin helped clear and wash the dinner dishes. He used to do that with me, in the early days. “Don’t get used to it, chickie,” I wanted to shout.

Shirley nestled under Kevin’s arm on the couch. He ran a finger under her pearl necklace.

I went to the piano and flipped pages of the music. I glanced back to see the effect I’d elicited.

Nada. They were busy gazing into one another’s eyes.

It made me so mad that new strength flowed into my fingers. I was able to strike a key on the piano, and it sounded, clear and loud.

I looked back at them.

Kevin had his nose tucked into Shirley’s neck. “Did you get a cat?”

Her eyes were wide as she stared at the piano. “No. No one’s here but us.”

Ha. I had to let them know that they were not alone, and to let them know exactly who was here. Was there a song that would tell them?

Oh, yes. Of course. The one they’d played at our wedding, so long ago, the one inspired by the idiotic movie, “Love Story.” I settled into it. So insipid, but I had liked it when we were so young, so long ago. “Love means you never have to say you’re sorry. Love means without a word you’ll understand.” Oh, how true it was for me now.

When I finished the verse and chorus Shirley was shaking, and Kevin was white as a—well, white as a ghost.

He cut his visit short and I went home with him. Whenever he started to fall asleep, I was there, nagging him, flipping pages in the book he left by the bedside table, “How to Talk to a Woman.” I’d always thought it endearing, that he was trying to find better ways of communicating with me. The bastard.

To hell with apologizing and going on to my next life.

I’m going to stay here and haunt his ass.

The End

by Kathleen Gabriel  Published with Permission

Image credit: Gregg Morris

Find out more about  Kathleen Gabriel, Featured Author

This story as well as some other recent posts can be found in literary journal FALL INTO STORY

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dancing-bones-coverYour opportunity to own a well-spun tale for Free–Today Only! If you take advantage of Thomas Alexander’s generous offer, please give it a review on Amazon when you’re done enjoying the read!

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Get a copy for yourself here.

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A Blockbuster Event!

FreeValley Publishing authors participated in the Snoqualmie Block Party this weekend. We had a great day meeting our community on The Ridge!

You can see more photos on the Event page HERE.

T. Tommia Wright, Thomas Alexander, Kennedy J. Quinn (Sheri J. Kennedy), Jearl Rugh, Stephen J. Matlock

T. Tommia Wright, Thomas Alexander, Kennedy J. Quinn (Sheri J. Kennedy), Jearl Rugh, Stephen J. Matlock

Kathleen Gabriel, Victoria Bastedo

Kathleen Gabriel, Victoria Bastedo

 

In Memory of Alex Colville

Sometimes true stories are the most amazing, especially when they are of someone who recognized the deep sense of story within everyday life and had the gift to share their vision. Please share your stories sparked by this story or the artworks within it by posting a link in comments or emailing them to FreeValleyPublishing@gmail.com.
Thanks to Brett for permission to reblog his tribute.

O' Canada

Yesterday, upon coming upon the notice in the NY Times of Alex Colville’s recent passing, I realized that Canada lost a giant of the art world.  Colville’s brand of realism conveyed mystery and left much to the viewer. His striking composition “Horse and Train” is a perfect example of this.   Its uneasy turbulence is illuminated by Colville’s explanation that his inspiration derived from a line in a Roy Campbell poem:  “Against a regiment I oppose a brain/ And a dark horse against an armoured train.”  Thus, did the Toronto-born and Nova Scotia-raised Colville movingly represent the struggle and strength of the individual against the mainstream.  Fantastic!

That and several of his other works are below.

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Naschmarkt: Faces [Gallery]

Click on this image by Marta Ejarque to see the rest of her inspiring gallery.  I found Marta Ejarque’s Faces Gallery teeming with stories. It is a beautiful tale to study and enjoy, but I’m also hoping some of you writers out there will come up with new stories sparked by what you see in these faces or the interaction at this marketplace. Please post a link to your story in comments here, or send your completed work (about 500 words) to FreeValleyPublishing@gmail.com. Let your stories run free!

(m)EINS

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A Faerie’s Whim

Loquisha waved her wand and pulled its tip from Summer into Fall.  The tall grasses, dry with the sun and sweeping in the newly crisp wind, seemed to bulge forth in a golden mountain.  A face burst into glorious bloom, all whiskers, fur and magnificence.  A shaggy mane shook leaves fluttering into the air showering the scarlet, ash, russet and ochre into the newborn season.  The faerie stood boldly in the presence of the rising lion.

Watercolor by Marcia Tuttle

“ Good season, Garmonsion,” Loqisha unfurled from her tongue in a low booming tone, “Your time has come to wake and lead us from Summer through the luscious languor and wistful chill of Autumn.  Do you stand at your summons from our kingdom or would you sleep into oblivion?”

“ROOOOAR!!!” Garmonsion shook the air with his reply.  His great paws lifted, claws bared into the breeze, as he stood on his haunches before leaping forward to charge across the field into the distance.”

A trilling laugh broke the stillness left behind him, introducing the arrival of Sister.

“ Bromillia, my dear,” Loquisha began nervously, “it is so marvelous to…”

“Yes, yes,” Bromillia interrupted in a voice high and piercing as a piccolo, “I suppose you think your drama quite dignified and enchanting.  Who gave to you the rites to the Changing of the Season.  You must be charmed to have escaped unscathed.  He could have dashed you to pieces!”  She broke once again into her giggle like a passing parade of a thousand bells.

Loquisha was quite deflated.  She threw herself down on the brittle grasses, her lovely rose skirts soiled by bug spit and popping seeds.

“I only wanted the heat to end.”  She complained, “this endless sweating was ruining my satin silkies.”

Bromillia rolled her eyes and disappeared in a tiny star-like flash.  She appeared again pushed along through the sky on the rising wind only inches from Garmonsion’s flowing mane.

“GARMONSION!!!!” rumbled the air on the open plain—her tiny voice magnified to shake even his storming enormity.

He slowed and padded to a sinewy stop.  He paced purposefully, standing at each point of the compass and staring into the distance to see what or who had called his name.

“Sleep….” cooed from Bromillia’s lovely throat.

With a wave of her wand, Garmonsion rolled to his side and disappeared into the Summer grass along with the cold wind.

by Sheri J. Kennedy  Published with Permission

From Literary Journal, Fall Into Story edited by Casondra Brewster

Image by artist, Marcia Tuttle also appears in Fall Into Story – used for promotional purposes with permission.

Escorting in Twilight

Elle Yomin knelt down to be eye-level with the boy; her long hair touching the floor. He drew his knees up to his chest. She felt a chill despite the warmth of the fireplace, certain that this child’s wandering was by Quinton’s guidance

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“They’ll come for him,” Alle said, holding a pair of spectacles at his side. The boy pressed his back against the wall. “You’d think he’s never seen a bearded man before.”

She felt the cautious look he gave her without having to see his face. Her main concern was to alleviate the fear before her. Of course the child was scared, not knowing what was being said. Sadly, Elle knew that neither she nor her husband spoke the dialect. “Then we have to protect him,” she said.

“I didn’t say we wouldn’t, dear.” He spat into his hand and held it out before the boy.

Elle gestured for him to spit into Alle’s hand.  The boy didn’t move. She took her husband’s hand and spat into it. Alle’s expression made the boy smile. With a nod, she encouraged him to do the same.

He complied, watching as Alle mixed the spittle together. Long slender fingers wiped the juices on the earpieces of a pair of spectacles, the color turning a shade darker than before. Smiling, Mr. Yomin held the spectacles out, the frightened, yet curious boy putting them on.

Day“Good,” Mr. Yomin said, “now we don’t have to play guessing games.”

“We don’t,” the boy asked softly, a confused expression on his face now.

Elle took the boy’s hands in hers. “No, dear, we don’t.” She introduced herself and her husband. “And what is your name?”

“Atkinson,” he said. “Can you help me find my sister?”

Excerpt by T. Tommia Wright   Published with Permission

Tommiastablet.wordpress.com
Find out more about T. Tommia Wright, Featured Author and her New Release: Reflections on Water – A collection of photos accompanied by original poems and favorite Bible verses

The Day the Computer Stood Still

It is lonely up here. Desolate, quiet outside, yet in my head the tumultuous voices keep me company. Every now and then I tune them out and concentrate on Her. She is… human of course. She is now an adult but I go back into my records and watch Her as she was before the accident. Now she is 7, running, long shadowed hair trying to catch up with her. She begins to ascend a hill. Her shoe has become untied in her sprint and the shoelace launches itself under her and she falls for its trick. I slow down the sequence and watch her face as she is propelled into the air. Before she was giggling with that quintessence of children, but now her mouth has paused and her eyes glance down at the offending shoelace in consternation. She throws her arms out, like she has been taught by nature and lets gravity steal her away in its embrace. She takes a large breath of air and holds it, as if she had been about to dive into water. Then I am there as the small patch of grass that catches her. I try to hold onto her with my green tendrils but they have been crushed lifeless and have yet to spring back into being. She gets up and looks around, wondering if anyone saw her fall. She is brought back to herself by a globule of blood that stains her knee. It splashes onto my green reaching finger and gingerly slides down my arm and disappears in the dry dirt below me. My thirst for her is quenched and I diffuse myself from the grass, letting in the others and the voices that I am weary of hearing. I am tired of them, of their wheedling and plotting. I am thoroughly tired of them and their destructive antics. They are killing each other and all that they stand for, humanity. That is not enough for their murderous minds, they have to destroy the earth that was given to them as a gift. They, who gave me no name and all the responsibility, have killed Her too. Now, I am certain that it must be done, humanity must end. 

??????????

The computer in the sky, much more than a common satellite, took one last look down. His computer eyes sailed past the exosphere in the blink of a button, gaining speed as they flew through the atmosphere of Earth. He visualized diving toward the ground, countries and then cities forming below its watch. The Earth as it once was began to flash through his complex database. Backwards at the speed of destruction. The call for death. The murder of Her. The betrayal. Her. The war of politics, words, and weapons. Her .The accident. The first time he met Her. Then, only darkness consumed the computer. He was overwhelmed with nothing. There was nothing. It was nothing.

 

“This is the beginning of the new millennium. A time of peace for all humankind.” The man in the blue suit addressed the crowd with a thin smile.

           Joints whirred with activity as the computer was turned on for the first time. It was immediately barraged with millions of data, facts, and predictions. Billions of individual thoughts were processed, recorded, and sorted. It was unconscious of it all, buried beneath layers of sickly despair, abnormal behavior, and the weight and press of humanity.

“We now have the ability as well as the responsibility to address this issue. We cannot deal with this problem adequately on our own, we need help. Guidance. Something to keep us in check from ourselves.” The man adjusted his tie, nervously pushing it right and left, unbalancing his entire demeanor.

He awoke.

The man bent over the podium and peered at the gathered crowd, they were but a Where’s Waldo picture to him and he did not see the hidden figure anywhere. He picked up the waiting glass of water in trembling hands that smeared oily sweat onto the crystal. For a moment he paused, wondering why they had used a glass instead of a bottle. Momentarily distracted, he began to calm down, re-straighten his tie.

He began running data. The words were somewhat meaningless but their importance was clear to him, imprinted on his mind.

“We have created an infallible computer, the likes of which none have seen since Douglas Adams.” A wave of chuckles hailed him and made him smile like he used to before this job, the crises. God, how he hated this country, and yet, look at these fools. They stood there in the crisp heat, nodding knowingly at all that he fed them.

 They were idiots, compete fools the computer thought. It began to calculate the rate at which the ozone was depleting, how many manatees existed, the amount of calories in one corn kernel…

Excerpt by Rachel Barnard   Published with Permission
rachel-barnard.blogspot.com  Find out more about Rachel Barnard, Featured Author

Image copyright Sheri J. Kennedy