An Ode to A Friend- #FictioninaFlash #WritingCommunity


Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash

It’s Week #22 of Suzanne Burke’s Fiction in a Flash Challenge

Write up to 750 words on the photo prompt. Go where your muse leads you. Check out some of the fabulous entries and join in here

An Ode to A Friend

It’s strange how empty my world is without you.

I realize now how much I took our relationship for granted. You were always there when I needed you. Offering comfort when I was miserable and laughter when I was down.

I don’t know what I’ll do now- I’m lost.

Alone.

Nothing can fill the void you’ve left behind.

I think back on our life together, all the things we’ve seen and places we’ve been. It won’t be the same without you.

Goodbye, old friend. You were faithful right up until the end.

With a final caress, I cover you up and place you in your final resting place- the same box your replacement arrived in.

Hello, I am your new Kindle. I can’t wait for our journey to begin.

The Long Road Home- #Fiction in a Flash #Challenge @amwriting


Suzanne Burke stimulates the imagination with her weekly Fiction in a Flash #Challenges!

You can read the participants entries and join in here

The Long Road Home

The creak of saddle leather and gentle sway of Maggie’s horse lulled her toward a long overdo nap. Two weeks and still no sign of the men she chased. The ruthless bastards had taken everything from her, she wouldn’t stop until they paid for what they’d done.

When she awoke, the sun had dropped behind the distant Texas hills coloring the sky in shades of magenta, burnt orange, and saffron. The air was cooler, whispering an early fall warning and she huddled into her loose-fitting jacket. She’d lost weight on this trek, lost some of her sanity, as well.

Images of her too-trusting husband swinging from a rope in the shed, face swollen, purple tongue protruding played a never-ending loop in her head. As did the attack from men they thought were friends. Men who’d dragged her to the floor and had their way with her in front of Sam and Jeff. Her boys.

The reason she couldn’t, wouldn’t, give up.

Grunting from stiff, aching, muscles, Maggie dislodged from the saddle and slid to the ground, her grip on the pommel the only thing holding her upright. Pins and needles in her feet assured her she was alive, as did the hunger gnawing at her belly. Didn’t matter though, nothing mattered except finding her sons and meting out the retribution they deserved.

***

A day and a half later, she came upon the cabin. Rough-hewn slats of gray wood made up the walls, smoke curled in a thin ribbon from the crooked chimney, and moss grew in a thick green blanket draping the eaves. A couple of beaten-down horses, she recognized as theirs, stood silently in a pen next to a dilapidated shed. She hurried to place a hand over the muzzles of her own mounts. They’d approached from downwind, but she didn’t want to take a chance on the animals announcing her arrival before she was ready.

It was dark by the time she had everything in place. The horses were tied in a ravine to the west, close enough to get to if she were injured, but far enough to keep them from panicking when the fireworks started. As she’d expected, Sam and Jeff were brought outside to use the latrine before bed. Her tired eyes feasted on their wiry frames. They looked so small next to the monsters shoving them forward. She ached to break cover and swoop them against her breasts, but reconciled herself to waiting until they were safe.

The moment the boys entered the outhouse and closed the door behind them, she set her plan in motion. Hefting a good-sized stone in her hand, Maggie sent it sailing through the air to smack the ground in the pen, startling the horses who reared up and danced away from the unseen threat. The men ducked, then ran for the nearest cover- the shed.

Next, she lit the fuses on the leftover fireworks Conrad had bought for the family to enjoy on the fourth of July. The sparks snaked across the ground and exploded, sending bright strobes of white, orange and red shrieking into the night sky. Not wasting a second, Maggie streaked across the uneven yard and dropped a heavy board over the door to the shed, sealing it closed.

The men realized they’d been tricked, and shouting obscenities, hammered the door with their fists trying to break free. Knowing she only had seconds before the flimsy structure gave way, Maggie turned to the pile of wood she’d carefully arranged near the wall of the building. A strike of a match and the oil-soaked cloth caught, the fire quickly spreading to the dry kindling. A moment later, the wall caught flame, driving her backward away from the heat and destruction. The shouts became screams, then coughing cries for mercy, echoing the weeping in her soul.

Then silence.

Instead of guilt, Maggie felt joy sweep through her chest, pushing all the hate and pain and anger away. A phoenix rising from the flames.

“Momma, Momma,” Jeff cried, his stubby little legs carrying him to her side, Sam following close behind, his eyes reflecting the funeral pyre in front of them.

Maggie wrapped shaking arms around her kids and pulled them close. “Let’s go home, my loves. Let’s go home.”

The City of Dreams- Fiction in a Flash Challenge #writingcommunity #amwriting #flashfiction


Fiction in a Flash Challenge

Suzanne Burke came up with this inspiring weekly challenge. Read more and join in here

The City of Dreams

The iconic Hollywood sign was more garish in the bright California sun than Beth expected. She’d dreamed of this moment for so long, it didn’t seem real.

She reached for her cheap Polaroid camera, hesitated, then shrugged and quickly snapped the photo before the tour bus chugged out of the view point. Her parents might not care, but her young sister, Sara, would. She’d begged to come with Beth, but their father wouldn’t hear of it.

“If your sister wants to run off and get herself into who-knows-what kind of trouble, that’s up to her. She’s old enough to do what she wants. But you ain’t, and I say you’re not going anywhere.”

Yep, that was dear old Dad. Cripes, would it be so hard for him to say something nice? Just once? For as long as she could remember, their family had scrambled to keep food on the table. Yet, now that Beth had been offered a small part in a feature film, her parents acted as though she was betraying them in some crazy way.

Her mother cried buckets when Beth packed up her things. “Something bad is going to happen, I just knows it. You should be staying home, getting married, and raising a family like your daddy and I did.”

She’d wrung her hands and sank wearily onto the old feather tick mattress. “I already lost your brother, what am I going to do without you?”

The guilt had set in then. Beth’s brother, Marcus, had died in a farming accident the year before and it had destroyed the family. Daddy never smiled anymore, and Momma… she was a shell of the person she’d been. It hurt Beth to see them like that. All the more reason to earn enough money to take some of the financial burden off their shoulders. Maybe then they could start to heal.

She opened the camera case and pulled out a stack of pictures she’d taken since starting this journey. Some were obvious tourist shots, like the one taken at sunset on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though it thrilled her to think she might be there one day herself. She held up her latest, and most precious photo- the Hollywood sign. The epitome of all her dreams was within reach.

All she had to do was…

A sudden scream from the front sent Beth’s heart scrambling up her throat. She grasped the back of the seat in front of her and tried to see past all the heads. Was that…? Holy smokes, it was. Some guy stood at the front of the bus waving a gun in the air. He yelled something to the driver, spittle flying from his mouth. The bus lurched like a drunk on a sidewalk as the brakes were applied, bringing them to a dust choking halt on the side of a gravel road.

And that’s when Beth realized they were in serious trouble.

While she’d been looking at her photos, they had apparently left the paved highway heading into the city and were now somewhere in the middle of nowhere with nothing but scrub brush for company. Well, that and the black eighteen wheeler sitting on the side of the road like a hulking shadow.

The screams grew in volume as the front passengers were herded off the bus. That is until the man with the gun shot the driver. Blood, and Lord knows what, sprayed the window by his head. Things got real quiet after that.

Three men stood outside, rifles resting on their shoulders, dark hats pulled over their eyes. Beth kept thinking, praying, it was all a mistake, or better yet, one of those action movies her brother had snuck out to the drive in to watch. But, inside she knew, this was no movie and she was no actress. She was a girl from Alabama who wanted to be home in her own bed waking from a nightmare with her mother’s comforting arms around her shoulders.

~~~

The detective frowned and squinted into the fading light. Three months and three separate disappearances. The traffickers were brazen. They didn’t even bother to cover their tracks this time; the clear treads of a semi were left in the dusty ditch line. Not that it would do them much good. There were thousands of trucks on the road every damn day. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.

He glanced down at the photo in his gloved hand. The Hollywood sign outlined in umber. Close to dusk then. So many came here in search of success. He could have told them Hollywood was the place dreams come to die.

Love’s Tempo- Fiction in a Flash #FlashFiction Challenge #WritersCommunity #amwriting


Love’s Tempo- Fiction in a Flash Challenge #18

This week’s photo prompt for Suzanne Burke’s Flash Fiction Challenge is a mysterious piece of sheet music and a woman holding a rose. You can take part here:

He was at it again. She rued the day she’d allowed him to buy the baby grand. Day and night, he lived for those damn ebony keys. He didn’t even share their bedroom half the time, preferring instead to sleep with his infernal music.

It was their tenth anniversary and she’d worked all day to create the perfect meal; chicken cordon bleu, garlic and chive mashed potatoes, savory roast vegetables, and his favorite dessert, bananas foster. And through it all, he’d played. She’d tuned out the actual melody years ago. It was either that or go stark raving mad. It was the same song, over and over and over again.

At first, she’d tried to take an active interest in his… let’s call it what it was–addiction. She’d join him in the den, offering input into the music. In return, He’d give her a vacant smile and continue the way he was, dark head bent lovingly over the keyboard.

Then she’d gone the opposite direction, ignoring him, going about her day as though everything was perfectly fine. Making excuses for his negligence. Alone, and lonely.

But, tonight was the end. She couldn’t do it anymore. He was turning her into a bitter shrew and she didn’t like it. After dinner, she was going to give him the separation papers.

“Hungry?” she asked with forced gaiety.

“Hmm?” he murmured, penning some notes onto the sheet music.

“It’s our anniversary. I made dinner.” Not quite as cheerful now.

“Can it wait? I’m close to a breakthrough.” He glanced up with a smile.

Her heart did that stupid leap, still affected by him after all these years. “Please.” She hated the entreaty in her voice.

“Sure, babe. I’ll be right behind you.” He turned back to the piano and she slowly returned to the kitchen. Picked up the heavy butcher’s knife, and waltzed toward the den, buoyed by the harmonious chords bursting down the hall.

She was surprised by how easy it was, the cold steel sinking like warm butter into his back. The tune he was playing turning strident, a cry for help echoing in her head.

Then nothing.

Blessed silence as the ivory keys turned red and his precious music died with him.

She yanked the knife free, his body slouched over the keyboard, and gouged deep lines in the shiny black finish. The shriek of steel becoming cries of agony- hers. It was his fault- all of it. He’d destroyed their love as easily as she’d just ruined his beloved piano.

Finally, she circled around to the sheet music, and was about to rip it to shreds when the title stayed her hand.

Love’s Tempo- an pledge to my beautiful wife, who loves me far more than I deserve.

Yours forever, honey

Slowly, painfully, she sank to the floor near her husband’s head and sliced her wrists. As she grew faint, their blood melded into an eternal chorus–the day the music died.

Exploring the Weird and the Wild on #SundayStills #Photography


Aerial shot of helicopter flying over power lines

Weird and Wild Photography Challenge- Sunday Stills

This week, Terri Webster Shrandt challenges to find the weird and the strange in our photos. You can join the Sunday Stills challenge here.

I’m also participating in Becky B’s July Squares challenge. You can check it out here.

I was playing with an app on Facebook and came up with this weird and wacky photo of… Me!

Hello, Miss birdy, why don’t you ever fly away?

This wild hummingbird sat and talked to us for quite a while.

Wild cloud formation

Weird and wild moss hanging off a tree near the lagoon.

Weird and wild car seen on our travels.

My weird and wonderful Mickey dog. He was a 3lb. Mexican Chihuahua with a gimpy front leg, skin that turned pink in the winter, black in summer, and a tongue Gene Simmons would be proud of.

What Draws you to a Book- #FirstLinesFriday #amreading


I came across this fun new challenge via One Book More and thought I’d join in.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book

First Lines:

Roy Donaldson tightened his gloves and adjusted his helmet before giving the WarHawks’ goalie a nod. Time to get down to business. He dropped into defensive position, ignoring the catcalls coming from the Edmonton fans. It was always like this when they played away from home; he’d gotten used to it and actually even kind of liked the anonymous insults and whistles. It only spurred him to try harder. Beat the odds.

Can you guess which of my books this comes from?

The First Lines From Friday Book is… you guessed it- The Player!

Sometimes, love happens when we least expect it…

NHL defenseman Roy Donaldson lives for the game. When an ex-girlfriend/stalker causes trouble for the team, Roy gets benched.

And the only way he can return to the rotation…? Accept help from sassy, sexy PA Patience Kennedy.

Patience is one step away from a junior partnership– all she needs to do is restore a sullen, annoying, attractive hockey player’s image.

Shouldn’t be too hard, right?


What do you think? Did the opening lines catch your interest?

WWW Wednesday #Read #amreading


WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

This looks like a fun challenge, so I decided to join in.

What am I currently reading?

I came across this ebook on sale the other day, and while I have a dog-eared paperback in my library I decided to make the purchase anyway. You can’t have to many copies of The Outsiders!

This book is every bit as good now as it was the first hundred times I read it!

50 years of an iconic classic! This international bestseller and inspiration for a beloved movie is a heroic story of friendship and belonging.

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.

The Outsiders is a dramatic and enduring work of fiction that laid the groundwork for the YA genre. S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was first published.

The Outsiders transformed young-adult fiction from a genre mostly about prom queens, football players and high school crushes to one that portrayed a darker, truer world.” —The New York Times

What Book did I Recently Finish Reading?

If you’re looking for a lighthearted story to rid you of the virus blues, this one will do the job! You can check out my review here.

In search of something ugly…

All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.

With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?

Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.

McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen.

What Am I thinking of Reading Next?

I have two books on my reading list for this category.

I’ve been reading rave reviews for Warning Signs and can’t wait to start it myself!

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?
Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.
Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

Karen Robards is one of my go-to authors. She has an uncanny knack for combining suspense and humor to her stories- I love them!

With her back against the wall, everything’s on the line for Bianca St. Ives. She’s either going to save the world—or die trying.

It took one hell of an effort for the authorities to finally get the jump on master manipulator Bianca St. Ives, but now that they have, it’s far from the capture she expected. Instead of taking her in, there’s an offer on the table, a one-shot deal that would allow Bianca to walk away scot-free as if they’d never found her. And all she has to do is run one last mission—the kind she might never return from. But if Bianca wants to go back to her normal life in Savannah, it’s not like she has a choice.

An intelligence operation is already under way in North Korea, one that’s poised to end the country’s existing tyrannical regime for good. But first, the US need one of their own to go undercover as the female hacker who recently stole top secret intel from NORAD. Enter Bianca. After everything she’s seen, Bianca knows feeding fake information directly into the belly of the beast is about as dangerous as it gets. It could mean torture or endless imprisonment—assuming she survives. But it might also ignite the kind of chaos that forces a revolution. It might just change the world. Besides, if Bianca has to go down, she’s gonna go down swinging…

If we have to stay home, at least we have our fictional (and blogging) friends to keep us company 🙂

squad

Spring is coming- Green #SundayStills #Nature


This week’s #SundayStills Challenge from Terri Webster Schrandt is macro shots of GREEN. You can take part here

Daffodil just before it bloomed with a few strawberry leaves in the background
Corn husk from last year’s crop- fancy hairdo!
Ladybug wandering along the stem of a broccoli- I think?
Clematis after flowering

Share your macro shots- we’d love to see them!

Pacific Northwest- #SundayStills #Photography


Sunset at Esquimalt Lagoon. Can you see the Blue Heron?

This week, Terri Webster Schrandt gives us the challenge of showing our state/provincial symbols on #SundayStills You can join the challenge here.

From the Spirit Bear to towering cedars, British Columbia is a land of beauty and mystery.

Fog lingering after one of our winter rains.
It’s cherry blossom season!
Canadian Navy patrolling our waters.
Inter-island ferry
Our provincial bird- Stellar Jay

Share some of your favorites- we’d love to see them 🙂

Photo Challenge- Early #SundayStills


This Week’s Theme- Early

Terri Webster Schrandt poses the question; what does early mean to you? Check out her post for Sunday Stills here and join the challenge!

Early love
Early morning hockey practice
Early morning ferry ride
Early morning snack
Early flowering crocus

What does early mean to you?

February is National #Bird Feeding Month #Nature #SundayStills


Since moving to the west coast, DH and I have quickly become avid bird watchers. Being in Canada, we know how important it is to have food out for our feathered friends, but I hadn’t realized February was National Bird Feeding Month!

Check out Terri Schrandt’s interesting #blog to learn more and to participate in this week’s #SundayStills Challenge.

Here are some of the many birds we have on the island:

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My #Goodreads #Reading Challenge for 2019


2019

This is my journey in books so far for 2019! Obviously, amazing is my go-to phrase, lol


TOTALS-I read 5,227 pages across 20 books

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Close to the Bone by Kendra Elliot
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 SHORTEST BOOK 83 pages Close to the Bone by Kendra Elliot

LONGEST BOOK 440 pages The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White

The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White

AVERAGE LENGTH 261 pages


MOST POPULAR 14,315 people also read Close to the Bone by Kendra Elliot

Close to the Bone by Kendra Elliot
Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn
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LEAST POPULAR 8 people also read Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn


MY AVERAGE RATING FOR 2019-4.6


Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn

HIGHEST RATED ON GOODREADS Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn it was amazing 5.00 average

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Heartbreak Warfare by Heather M. Orgeron

My first review of the year-it was amazing 
Riveting!

This is not a book for pus-says as Mullins would say. There are so many raw moments, it brought tears to my eyes. Yes, it’s that good.

Katy Scott is proud of her military heritage and is happy to serve her country when she is called upon, even though it means leaving behind the most important people in her life- her husband, the Captain, and her six-year-old son, Noah.

Baghdad is an awakening, but with the help of her best friend, Mullins, …more

MY 2019 BOOKS

Heartbreak Warfare by Heather M. Orgeron

it was amazing

The Contract by John W. Howell
Robyn by Jacqui Nelson
Close to the Bone by Kendra Elliot
Rush by Emma   Scott
The Good Luck Sister by Jill Shalvis
Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward
In Shadows by Sharon Sala
Letters from Peaceful Lane by Janet Dailey
The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White

it was amazing

The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros
End of Day by Mae Clair
Forever My Hero by Sharon Sala
Soul Swallowers by D. Wallace Peach
The Soccer Player and the Single Mom by Kyra Jacobs
Stone Cold Heart by Laura Griffin
Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn
The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery
While the Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle

it was amazing

Unbreakable by Emma   Scott
While the Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle

My last review of the year-it was amazing 
The story of life behind war zones.

Elsie is born in England during a tumultuous period in history- WWII. Her family must learn to live on rations, restricted power, blackout posters, and food stamps while still providing milk to the nearby village.

Elsie understands the threat of war. The fear of German bombers is a backdrop to an everyday life without extras, but the family still manages to enjoy simple pleasures such as summer swims, afternoon t …more

See My Books shelved in 2019

2019 READING 
CHALLENGE

You read 20 out of 52 books. 38%There are still 236 days left! You can do it!