ALONE: A SHORT STORY. A Poweroutage Challenge. #writingcommunity #writingchallenge #shortstory #indieauthor

Here’s the other story I wrote during the power outage a few weeks ago. My image was tons of snow piling up outside. I was home alone as my husband ventured out on the icy roads to get gas for our hungry generator. Left alone, I wrote poetry and this.

ALONE

The drought had left everyone lazy. No one was prepared for the big storm as heavy rains changed over to snow the night before. Lydia had never minded being snowed in. This time when the power, internet, and communications went down, anxiety took over. It was the first time in her life she was fully alone. The emptiness echoed loudly around her, bouncing off the carefully framed photos of happier times. When living in a forest had been fun. Now though, she had to survive what mother nature brought her while a stranger watched her from the tree line.

The stranger’s face was in the shadows, but his build and stance made her believe he was in his late thirties. He wore faded blue jeans, a red plaid shirt, a black vest, and a black stocking cap. This could describe many men in their small community, including her husband Bill. The red snow boots were dated and reminded her of the ones they used to own. Moon boots.

Her heart pumped misery through her body while her husband’s heart struggled to beat. He was fighting for his life at the hospital, and she was trapped here with a stranger watching.

This person had to know she was alone after the ambulance came. Then knew there would be no 911 calls after the power and lines went down right after the emergency vehicle left. She hadn’t bothered starting the generator because she was leaving — or she had planned to.

“Oh, Bill. I wish you were here. I warned you not to shovel the driveway. Pay the money and have the tractor do it. But no, you had to do it and look at what it did to your heart.”

She would not get that image out of him down on his knees, clutching his chest any time soon. All she had been able to do was keep him comfortable as he struggled to breathe. She barely heard him whisper, “I love you.”

Then they had loaded him into the ambulance.

“I’ll meet you there.” She had told the youthful attendant.

“You can come with us. The roads are icy.”

Oh, how she wished she had. But she wanted her car and a change of clothes, just in case. The power flickered off right after she threw a few items and her purse into the green traveling backpack. She checked their landline.

“Dead.”

Lydia slipped on her coat, grasped her things, and locked the garage door behind her. She tossed the backpack on the passenger seat and slipped onto the leather seat in their new SUV. She inserted the key. Click.

“Are you kidding me?” She tried and tried, but the engine wouldn’t turn over.

Panic filled every part of her body. She had to get to her beloved husband. Slamming a useless car door, she stood at the end of the driveway, hoping to flag someone down to help her. No one drove by. Her one close neighbor was sitting on a beach, probably sipping a Mai Tai. The new cell phone in her hand kept telling her there was no network. Sorry.

She stomped back into the house and tossed down her backpack.

“Fine! I’ll walk.”

She layered on more clothes. Her new plan had been to make the long walk to Smith’s house. Nothing would stop her from being at her husband’s side. She picked up her backpack and threw open the door ready for her snowy hike. That’s when she saw him. Fearfully, she had stepped back inside, slammed the door shut, and locked it.

He had been there for an hour now, just standing in the shadows. She captured his picture on her cell phone but his face was blurry. Her camera with the telephoto lens had dead batteries and no way to charge them. The lens wouldn’t work. The binoculars only showed her a blurry figure.

Yet, there he stood like death was watching her, but it wasn’t her time nor was it her husband’s time. They still had places to explore.

Lydia allowed a small smile. “They must wonder where I am. I bet help is on the way.” That idea became her obsession since she abandoned her walk to the neighbor’s house with a stranger lurking outside.

Yet, reality crept back in. She had no idea if she was a widow or not. That thought was a gut punch, but she had to believe on some level, after 45 years of marriage, she would feel it if he was gone.

The snow kept piling up, and no one showed up to check on her. Luckily, Bill had just brought in an enormous stack of firewood a few hours ago. He always took care of her, but she wasn’t there by the time he needed her.

The man was still in his spot. Waiting.

“What are you waiting for?” In frustration, she grabbed Bill’s handgun and threw open the door. “What do you want?”

The man didn’t respond.

“If you come near me, I will shoot you.” She fired a warning shot off to the right. He didn’t know she had never hit the target when Bill insisted she practice shooting with him.

The man didn’t even flinch, which sent chills through her body that even a wood fire couldn’t touch.

That shadowy figure had become the edge of her world. She closed the door, locked it, and started praying.

“Please, God, help me and don’t take Bill from me. I couldn’t bear to lose him. I don’t want to be alone. Send me help.”

She wrapped her fingers around the sapphire and diamond cross Bill had bought her over thirty Christmas ago. This year he gave her a fluffy bathrobe and a new laptop. She got him a plaid flannel shirt and a new table saw. He always put unique jewelry in her sock, and this year was no different. A silver pine tree charm for her already heavy charm bracelet.

They had everything they needed, especially each other, and had never been apart since they met at her best friend’s wedding over fifty years ago and married six months later.

Her only regret was they never had kids. She lost six babies, and they decided it wasn’t meant to be. But with Bill, her life was full of joy and laughter.

She picked up the picture of her and Bill in Italy. They were standing in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and pretended to hold it up just like everyone else did.

“Hang on, Bill, I’m going to find a way to you.”

“Lydia.”

“What? Who said that?”

She rushed to the window, relieved to see the man still standing there.

“I’m hearing things.” She shook her head when pain exploded inside it. Lydia grasped her head and sunk to the ground. “Great, a migraine.”

Too dizzy to stand, she crawled to the couch and pulled herself up. With a loud sigh, she collapsed on her side. Her teeth started chattering. It was like the storm was inside of her. She couldn’t get her left hand to pull the forest brown comforter over her, so she reached with her right hand. Her vision was dimming as it did with the headaches, but there was no burst of colors on the edges, only darkness.

She sucked in air, but it felt like it was coming from a straw. She’d never had a migraine this bad before. Of course, with the stress of Bill’s heart attack, who could blame her? The couch felt so soft, and she tried to shift her body flat but couldn’t. It was probably better she stayed this way until it passed.

The pain was subsiding, and she was so sleepy. Her tongues felt heavy, and there was a burnt smell like a piece of food fell on the woodstove. She could barely hold her eyes open when the man in the plaid shirt was right in front of her.

She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Then it all faded away, and it was only her and Bill. They were together again, and he looked so handsome in the red plaid shirt she bought him this Christmas. Lydia took his offered hand, and she felt his warmth.

“Everything is going to be okay, sweetheart. I’ve been waiting for you. Remember how we never wanted to leave the other alone? Our prayers were answered.”

Together, in their younger versions, they walked toward the beautiful golden light.


NOTE: Watch for special edition blogs this week. You won’t want to miss any of them 🙂

I’ll be working on replacing our DSL Modem in the coming days. All we can get living in the forest. But what I was sent by a certain phone company was worse than what I had, so I went back to the older one. When the old one works it’s decent as long as I don’t move it once I get it going. It has issues with its plug and where it plugs in, so I thought it was time to update it. Boy, was I wrong. So, will be sending the new horrible, even evil, modem back. That lost me a good part of my weekend. I will be trying other things, other than sitting on the phone with the company. During this period I will be down for several hours or perhaps a day or two without internet, although I doubt I’ll have the energy to get to it until after the coming week. We’ll see. If I disappear this is probably the reason. Lesson: New isn’t better.

Embrace your inner child by reading a good story! D. L. Finn

A MAN ON THE PIER: A Short Story Dream Challenge. #writingcommunity #shortstory #shortstorychallenge #indieauthor

Here’s my first short story of the year. This one came from a vivid dream during our power outage a few weeks ago. Although it wasn’t from a word and then chosen image like my past challenges, the dream gave me lots of pictures to work from about an old man, a cage of dead fish, and a pier. So, in that way, it offered me a new dream challenge.

I’m not sure if this story is done with me yet. We will see.

I’ve been adding my short stories posted here into my upcoming short story collection that I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. Not sure if they will all make the cut or not.

A MAN ON THE PIER

On a wooden pier that ended over the ocean, a man carried a thin, long cage full of dead fish. The familiar tall and lean person was dressed in brown cloth pants and a blue shirt with brass buttons. His stringy gray hair was tied back with a slice of tanned leather, and his brown boots were scuffed and worn. The man known as Captain Randall set his contraption across from where I sat on the newly painted white bench.

Maybe nothing would have happened that day if it hadn’t been for someone out jogging.

The jogger in gray sweats and a shiny blue fitted shirt skidded to a stop in front of Captain Randall. Before I could warn him, he spoke, “Hi, I’m Bob. New to the area. What’s that for?”

Captain Randall smiled, exposing a mouthful of rotten teeth as he skillfully sliced open the rotting fish. “Come see. Follow me.” He gripped the cage and jumped into the icy waters.

I leaped up to stop him, but Bob followed Captain Randall into the water with no hesitation.

“Hey! What are you doing?” Bob called out as he swam faster.

I froze at the edge of safety and watched both men swim away from the pier. My heart raced like I was doing laps at the high school pool. That was where I spent most of my free time on the swim team and had been the team captain in my senior year. Right now I didn’t want to cross the finish line but longed to be in that water, too. It took every ounce of my willpower not to jump in.

Then the long cage opened, and all the dead fish floated to the top of the water with their blood seeping out of them. Captain Randall calmly swam back to the pier.

Bob looked around with his mouth hanging open. I knew what was about to happen. I’d seen it all before in my dream and heard the stories told around campfires. There was nothing I could do.

Captain Randall spun around when he got to the pier at the same moment realization flowed over Bob’s face. Black fins appeared on both sides of Bob.

“Help me!” Bob’s hands waved frantically in the air.

Captain Randall calmly climbed out of the ocean. There was no helping Bob as he disappeared under the blood-red sea in one giant tug.

Captain Randall nodded to me. “Guess they are biting today.”

I gulped down any response. I didn’t want to end up in the ocean too.

With a slight smile, he walked off humming a tune that I swear was from that shark movie. I watched the water become inflamed with death.

My dream came back to me. “Never, never speak to him. He’s cursed, Sasha.” A beautiful woman with long black hair and a fish’s body for legs had warned me. “Stay out of the water, no matter what you see. Then I will come to you when there is a victim.”

Too bad no one told Bob that the ghost of Captain Randall fed the sharks every day at the same time. If you were foolish enough to speak to him, and he answered you—your fate was sealed. The frenzy only continued for a few minutes.

I wasn’t really surprised when the mermaid from my dream swam up to the pier when the waters cleared to their crystal blue beauty.

“That’s the evil we battle, Sasha. It didn’t recognize you. I am pleased. Now go back to your land home until you are needed.”

“You battle evil? Why would it recognize me?” I dropped my pink glitter backpack that landed on the dry wood with a hollow thunk.

“When it is time, I will come for you. Go back.” Then she disappeared.

That was three years ago. I moved to the city, and never returned to that pier or the ocean. Thankfully, there had been no more dreams. The only water I ever got into was full of chlorine. But that all changed last night when that dream returned, calling me to the sea. Foolishly, I went to do my morning laps in the pool at my apartment building. It was early, and the pool was usually empty, so I set my white towel down on a blue lounge. I stood on the edge, ready to dive when I saw the mermaid there. She waved, and I ran.

No one can make me go back to the sea again. I just won’t. Even when I ran past Captain Randall carrying his fish in the middle of my apartment lobby. I convinced myself it had nothing to do with me. I threw clothes into my new green suitcase and left the shabbily furnished studio apartment and server job behind.

A year later, I’m still running, but my dreams beckon me every night to come back. I won’t be fooled or tricked into those waters. Nope, not me. I learned you can only trust yourself growing up in the foster care system, and that included mermaids. With no place to go, I moved to the desert. The dreams might come, but let those water people try to find me there. Just let them.


NOTE: This month got away from me for many reasons. My Monthly Newsletter will go out later tonight or tomorrow.

2021 Book Challenge! #readingchallenge #goodreadchallenge #booksread #writingcommunity #whattoread

Here are almost all of the books I read in the Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge. There were a couple I couldn’t find on Goodreads and I forgot to go back and add them in later. Of course, time passed and now I can’t remember which books I couldn’t find.

 

 I was happy to hit 100 again and I reviewed all of them, except Stephen King’s book. I usually only review indie books.

 

The very best of the books I read, I showcase in “Books That Change Me.” 

I’m going for 75 books again in 2022. I’m four into that.

Here are the books that made 2021 a much better year.

Note

Two covers aren’t showing up. They are: “Out of Poland” by Rox Burkey and Charles Breakfield, and “Ella: A Romantic novella” by Marlena Smith.

Embrace your inner child by reading a good book and leave the gift of a review after. D. L. Finn

Writing Challenge—The TBR Pile. @Dwallacepeach #thewritingcommunity #poetrycommunity #writerchallenge #poetry #haibun

Here is Diana Wallace Peach’s Writing Challenge—The TBR Pile. It can be a story or poem. I decided to go with a haibun format. That is the combination of prose paragraph ending with a haiku, or in this case a senyru.

MAGIC PAGES

The magical gift sits next to my bed. Dressed in black leather, it holds the ideas of generations. I gently open the promise of endless entertainment in the two hundred and thirty pages. I can barely contain my joy with so many words that offer knowledge, insight, thrills, adventure, heartbreak, or laughter. It may take more than one lifetime to explore. Yet, it’s never full and always welcomes new editions onto its electronic shelves—even the bad ones. It is my paradise.

add to my kindle

with the best of intentions…

to read every word

#TankaTuesday #PoetryChallenge No. 256. #haiku #nature #poetrycommunity #writingcommunity #poetry

Here’s Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge #256. This week is a Specific Form—haiku. I’m using pictures from our recent storm as inspiration, and the haiku is a 3/5/3 format.

the sun opens
winter’s icy gift…
renewal

January Book Reviews! @Lizzie_Chantree @PatFurstenberg @JacqBiggar @teagangeneviene #writingcommunity #whattoread #whatyoushouldbereading #bookreviews

Dead of Winter: Journey 12, Goddesses

by Teagan Riordain Geneviene

“Goddesses” is an exciting journey. I love the introduction of the Goddesses at this point of the story. This adds in the light, or glow, in the darkness, but it’s not to say it’s all illumination either. I loved being in the moment with Emlyn on the rooftop and the landscape flowing out before her where she could see the veil’s breach. All the characters seem to be where they’re needed now, and I’m eagerly awaiting to see what comes from this impending battle. Another great installment!


A Magical Christmas: A Gambling Hearts Short Story 

by Jacquie Biggar

Madeline haunts the place where she used to be so happy. A little girl, Pippa, goes missing. This woman from the past may be the only thing to find and help this child. I haven’t read any of the Gambling Hearts series, but I will after reading this charming short story. I want to know more about this clan, especially the frantic family searching for Pippa. This was a sweet holiday mixture of the past and present that I thoroughly enjoyed reading!


Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories

by Patricia Furstenberg

“Transylvania’s History A to Z” was a fun way to learn the history of Transylvania, Romania. There were 100-word fictional stories to showcase a certain period, along with a more detailed follow-up and picture. This brought the past to life for me in an interesting way, and I could easily imagine life from the story in a limited word format. The Paleolithic Period, Saxons, Vlad lll, or WWl were some of the time frames covered. I don’t have a favorite because I enjoyed learning about all of it. This also includes where some Transylvanian words came from—which I appreciated. This is a quick read that captured my attention. I can easily recommend it to anyone interested in history.


The woman who felt invisible

by Lizzie Chantree

“The woman who felt invisible” was a fun read with a few surprising twists. Olivia was barely making ends meet working as a stationary supervisor and dog sitter. She is leading an uneventful life, but it isn’t as it seems. Olivia is suspected of being a criminal by a handsome police officer, while her best friend Darius wants more than friendship. Being lonely, she makes a new friend and comes out of her self-imposed shell. I like all the relationships Olivia develops, but it’s the undercurrent that’s woven into the story that makes it so interesting. The plot kept me guessing until the end when all was revealed, but it also left me with a few questions to ponder. I enjoyed getting to know Olivia. This is a fast-paced read with several secrets mixed in and I loved how the main character found her strength.


I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. It doesn’t feel right leaving a review in that case, but I have been known to email the author:) Life is too short not to enjoy every book you read!

Embrace your inner child in 2022 by reading a great book! D. L. Finn

#TankaTuesday Weekly Poetry Challenge No. 255: #Tastetherainbow #tanka #poetry #writingcommunity #poetrycommunity #poetrychallenge

Here is Colleen Chesebro’s #TankaTuesday Weekly Poetry Challenge No. 255: #Tastetherainbow. We pick the color to use and poetry form.

I went with a poem I wrote during our six-day power and phone outage. I was surrounded by four feet of snow, so white is the color of my poem, even though I don’t directly mention the color. Tanka 5/7/5/7/7 is the format.

NOTE: We are lucky to have gotten our phones, internet, and power back so quickly. There are still many who are heading into day nine without— and some without access to heat. There was a lot of damage below us and we are praying things get back to normal soon for them. Like our firefighters, those who go out in these icy conditions to restore our power and communications are our heroes too!

These are the moments when the magical goodness in humanity steps up to help fellow neighbors.

snow fairies rejoice

when mother nature provides

winter wonderland

they can fly amongst the flakes

capturing special magic