Sunday, March 13, 2016

Song for the Kiddies

Rain is falling down.
Rain is falling down.
Pitter patter, pitter patter,
Rain is falling down...

Imagine yourself sitting in the middle of fifteen to twenty energetic three-year-old children. You raise your hands toward the sky and start to sing, rain is falling down, as you flutter your fingers to indicate rain. (which technically indicates snow in sign language) Then you repeat the action singing rain is falling down a second time. Next you pat your hands together as you sing the pitter patter, pitter patter.Once again your hands go to the sky and you repeat the fluttering of your hands as you once again sing the rain is falling down. Then, you pause for several seconds and finally clap your hands together and sing splash. Several pairs of eyes widen as smiles spread on the faces in front of you. This is one of the memories from my years of working with children.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lost Gravyard

The prompt was to write a story from our childhood.  Although the names are changed, the incident in this story is true.

     Growing up, I remember our family picnics.  They were usually set up in the months between May and September because then we could have them at the park.  After everyone ate their fill of food, we’d get together for a friendly game of baseball.  Picnics were always on Sunday because that was the one day that everyone had off.   
     Since it was my family’s turn to arrange the picnic, we would be the ones to go to the park early in the morning, usually by about six-thirty, and get enough tables together so all the relatives would have a place to sit and for the food that everyone would be bringing.
     At eight, this wasn’t the first time that I went along to save tables.  It varied though as to which of my brothers and sisters would go with.  On this particular day, I went with two sisters and one brother.  My oldest sister and oldest brother were still at home.  My brother, Fred would help Dad with the chores while Susie helped Mom with the cooking.  Carla, Charlotte, and Cal all joined me at the park. 
     Once we got to the park, we all joined in to help move the fifteen tables into position and then we placed our supplies sporadically on them so if anyone were to come we could say they were saved for us.
     On this particular morning, it was a bit chilly.  The wind was blowing through the trees and it was promising to be a beautiful day.  I wrapped up in a blanket and sat on one of the tables as I listened to my sisters and brother talking.  Carla, the oldest of the four of us had just turned fifteen, and whether she wanted to feel important knowing something the rest of us didn’t or she was trying to scare us, she started telling us the tale of the lost graveyard.
     Lowering her voice as if what she was telling us was top secret, she told us how the lost grave actually belonged to Snow White, but she wasn’t called that, instead, the name on the grave was Merriweather.  She went on to tell us that friends from school had come to the park and held a séance to find out where the lost graveyard actually was, and they told her how to find out.
     By now, my eyes were wide and I could tell that Charlotte—who was thirteen, and Cal, who was twelve, also had their eyes opened wide.  All three of us were looking around at the shadows creeping in on us.  Of course, it was just the tree limbs, but to young minds, they could have been any number of things.
     Carla lifted her chin and said she knew how to get the directions…if we weren’t afraid.
     Of course we were afraid, but there was no way we were going to let Carla know that so we told her to go ahead.
     She took a pancake turner and spoke into it.  We all waited anxiously, but nothing happened.  Seeing that she was losing us, Carla suggested it needed to be dark.  So, the four of us got underneath the blanket and once again, she spoke into the pancake turner. 
     An anchor appeared on the back of the pancake turner.  Charlotte screamed and Carla dropped the utensil.  All of us scrambled out from underneath the blanket and ran to one of the tables in the middle where the four of us huddled together until our parents arrived a couple of hours later.
     You might think that this was all just the over-active imaginings of four youngsters…  But there is one more thing you should know.  The area of the park where we were saving tables is an Indian Burial Mounds.  The bodies are no longer in the graves since the area was looted years before, but there is also a cemetery next to the park.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31st, One Last Perfomance

     Today we were to write a story about an ending, and a beginning.  This is what I wrote.

         Rainy Lawson knelt on the ice waiting for her portion of the program to begin.  She’d gone through several songs just to get the right feel, and once that was done, then she needed the perfect costume.  She’d chosen an elaborate white gossamer costume that looked more like a wedding gown than one a skater would wear, and she felt like a fairy princess wearing it with her raven black hair in ringlets falling to her waist. 
     As the opening strains of Send in the Clowns sounded, she unfolded herself as if she were exiting a cocoon.  With the graceful moves of a ballerina, she made the dramatic slow movements that made her look as if she were dancing on a cloud.  As the last words of the song were sung, she came to a stop in the classical stance of a ballerina in a music box.
     She heard the awed exclamations as she held the pose without moving even a fraction of an inch.  She readied herself, pulling in as much air as she was capable of in the few seconds before the second program would start.  This one would be infinitely harder because of the fast pace.  If she didn’t time herself just right she would run out of air and steam halfway through the piece.
     As if by magic, her first movement coincided with the opening note of Minuet by Chopin.  She felt the tempo lure her along as her movements grew faster to match the music.  This was one of her favorite things about ice skating.  She was able to use the ballet that she’d learned as a young child to help her add a bit of class to her routines.  She heard the ending notes and performed the motions without even having to think about it.  They were ingrained into her very being.
     Timing the beginnings and endings was the hardest, and one error would throw off the whole program.  She worked on her routines tirelessly for months before they were ready for the public.  And today was the result of her years of training.  She’d put her first skate on twelve years ago on her sixth birthday.  Now today, when she took off her skates, she would be hanging them up for good. 
    She was incredibly sad about that, because she loved skating with them.  It was only when she was on the ice that she felt truly alive, and these skates had special meaning to her.  They were the skates her father had given to her for her fourteenth birthday just three weeks before he was killed in a car crash.  As they say, though, all good things must come to an end.  And today was that end.
     She paused, holding her pose once more and allowing herself to once again pull in the needed oxygen so that she would be ready for her final moments. 
     A hush fell over the crowd as if they knew the significance of the moment…  Then, finally, the last piece that she’d chosen started to play and she fought back the tears as Butterfly Kisses came out of the sound system and she once again started the movements that were second nature to her. 
     She felt the energy of the crowd as she built to the crescendo and then neared the final moment when all movement would stop.  One last jump that drew a gasp from the onlookers and then she moved into the kneeling position she’d started the routine with. 
     Thunderous applause had her lifting her head to see flowers dropping onto the ice.  She carefully made her way around, picking up as many of the red roses that she could before finally making her way back to her seat where she would wait for her final score.  Nerves kept her from looking.  But the renewed thundering applause had her looking at last to where her score was posted and tears of joy and sorrow fell from her beautiful blue eyes.
     As she walked back to the locker room with the other girls, the melancholy feeling overrode the joy that she’d been feeling.  When she stopped at her locker, she sat down on the bench and removed the skates from her feet.  Carefully, as if they were fine China, she laid them on the bench beside her and quickly changed into her street clothes.  When she was ready, she lifted the skates in her hands and kissed each one. 
     A deep voice from behind her gently said, “It’s time, Rainy.  You should have had new shoes months ago.  We can put those in a special place so that you’ll always have them with you.”
     Rainy looked up at Mark, giving a slight nod of her head.  “I know.  But, Daddy gave me these shoes before he died.  It’s like losing him all over again.”
     Mark moved forward and took her in his arms.  “Dad will always be watching over you, sis.  Just lift your head up to the sky and look for the brightest star.  That’s where he’ll be.”
     Rainy gave a watery smile.  “Can we swing by the cemetery on our way home?”
     Mark grinned.  “Sure.”
     It was quiet as they made their way across town to the cemetery where Logan Montrail was buried.  Mark parked the car and they walked hand and hand to their father’s grave. 
     Rainy frowned as they got closer to where her father’s final resting place was.  There was a large box lying there beside the memorial plaque that had his name, date of birth, date of death, and Beloved Father and Coach.  Below that were the words, The Wind Beneath my Wings.
     Mark lifted the box and handed it to her with a frown on his face. 
     Rainy looked up at him questioningly, but he shook his head and then shrugged.  She opened the box and a sob broke from her. 
     Mark stepped forward taking hold of her forearms as he said, “What is it?  What’s wrong?”
     Rainy turned the box so that Mark could see the beautiful skates that were in the box.  He pulled her into a hug as he scanned the area to see who might have left the box, but there was no one in sight.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30th, Area 215

     Today's prompt was a simple one.  Since there are two hundred fifteen days left in the year, we were to write a story around two hundred fifteen.  This is what came from that.  The following is an excerpt from a work in progress.  The characters and plot belong to me.

     Two hundred fifteen.  That was the magic number.  That was always the magic number whenever Frank set up one of these mysteries.  Now all she had to do was figure out just what that number referred to in regards to this particular mystery.  If she got it right, then she would get out of this damn hellhole in the middle of nowhere, get it wrong and she would have to wait two hundred and fifteen days till the next mystery.  The biggest problem was that she wasn’t the only one trying to figure out the mystery.  No, it couldn’t be that easy.  There were two hundred fifteen other prisoners here all trying to solve the case as well.
     There were rules they had to follow as well, two hundred fifteen of them to be exact.  Everything about this mystery revolved around that number.  There were two hundred fifteen clues, they had two hundred fifteen minutes to solve the case, and somehow, the number two hundred fifteen was the key to solving the whole thing.
     This was the third time that she would take part in the game.  She’d come close the last two times, but someone had beaten her to the answer.  This time, she had a plan.  She was going to leave the phone she had been given on the bed in her room.  Once she had her answers, then she would input the data, starting with the answer to the mystery first.  She would be hindered because she wouldn’t get the same clues as the others, but on the plus side, no one would know how close she was to the answer.
     She checked her phone to see it was two thirteen in the afternoon.  She had two more minutes until the call would come with the information they would need to solve the case.  She took a deep breath and readied herself. 
     Two fifteen p.m., the phone rang and she pressed the button to connect the call.  A mechanical voice spoke, “It is very early Monday morning, two young girls go down to the kitchen to find their mother lying dead on the kitchen floor.  They call the police and learn there is a car in the area that has been dispatched.  When the police arrive, they talk to the girls and then arrange for a family member to come and pick them up.  The girl’s father arrives.  He’s very disheveled and seems out of sorts.  He takes the girls to his mansion where he and his new wife are living and tells the girls to make themselves at home.  After making sure the girls were settling in, the father goes back up to his bedroom where his wife is sleeping.  He falls into an exhausted sleep for the next two hours and fifteen minutes.  When he wakes up he remembers nothing about picking up his daughters or his first wife’s murder.  He goes off to work as if it’s any other day.  When the police arrive at his office, he’s totally confused as to what happened.  The father is arrested for the murder and the daughters are placed with his wife’s sister.  You must find out who is really responsible for the murder as well as what the motive was and how the murder was committed.”
     Siri tossed the phone on the bed.  She wouldn’t need it again until the end.  She was desperate to get out of here and knew what she must do to make that happen.  She faced the mirror and took in her appearance.  Her curly brown hair was tamed as best she possibly could, she wore a blue T-shirt and faded blue jeans with her favorite dirty white sneakers.  She took the necklace she always wore out and clasped the amulet as her eyes closed. 
     A kaleidoscope of colors exploded in her mind as she felt herself moving through the air.  She was rusty at this because she hadn’t done this since her ninth birthday.  She regretted now breaking the promise to her mother, but she was desperate to get out of here and this seemed the only way.  She evened her breathing and let herself see what it was she needed to know. 
     Siri watched as the scene played out like a movie.  She saw the girls go to bed and the mother answer the door to let in her lover.  There was a look of disbelief as a woman joined them.  After a moment she glared and demanded, “What are you doing here, Vanessa?”
     The blonde woman smirked, “I wanted to see who my brother was sleeping with these days.”  She looked at the blond Adonis at her side and let out a forced laugh before saying, “You always did like slumming it.”  She turned back to her husband’s ex-wife.  “You’re a fool for thinking my brother wants you for anything but sex.”  She brought up a gun and aimed it at her.  “You need to go away so I can get at all that nice money.  Two hundred fifteen million dollars… and it’s all going to be mine.”  She gave a sly smile and then said, “Just as soon as I get rid of my husband and those daughters of yours.”
     The two got the victim into the kitchen where Vanessa killed her.  Siri followed them as they left, listening to all of the information she needed to know.  Once she had everything, she made the journey back, floating down into her own body as the kaleidoscope of colors merged into a brilliant blue.  She opened her eyes and went to the phone where she pressed the number that would connect her to the voice.
     When the call was answered, she said, “Two hundred fifteen seconds is the time it takes to solve the case.”
     The mechanical voice spoke, “Continue, winner.”

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29th, Into the Riot

    For today's prompt, we were asked to write about a gathering of experts that Degenerates into a rammy.  The following is an excerpt from a work in progress.  Once again, please forgive any errors.

     Tran watched the view screen as they docked.  This was one conference that he wished he could avoid at all costs.  Whoever planned this must have taken leave of their senses because everyone knew that the Drackma were mortal enemies of the Starlor.  How he’d gotten invited as an authority on both species was beyond him.  Yes, he’d had dealings with both factions and yes, he’d come out the winner on both occasions, but he was in no way an expert.  Of course, he was willing to bet that the other six delegates from Stralos Minor weren’t experts either.
     He stood from his seat and strode toward the lift doors.  “Kreighton, you have the bridge.  Telara, you are with me.”
     The young woman managed to slip in beside him before the lift doors swooshed shut and plummeted them the three floors to the platform that would transport them to the skywalk below the ship.  From there they would make their way to the Parcenon where the delegates were meeting.
     Telara placed her small hand in his and smiled up at him.  He could already feel her magic working as she said, “You worry too much.”
     He allowed one of the rare smiles that he reserved for only for Telara.  She was the light in his otherwise dark world.  Since joining his crew seven years ago, she’d changed everyone’s life for the better. 
     Telara was Arobian.  The people on her planet were divided into three factions, telepaths, empaths, and seers.  It was unheard of for an Arobian to be born with all three abilities, that is until Telara.  Her mother was one of the strongest empaths on their world and her father was the strongest telepath on record.  It wasn’t until Telara was born that they’d learned her father Delor’s own father had been a seer. 
     Telara’s abilities were so strong that not only could they not be adequately tested, but the majority of Delarians feared her.  When she’d reached her seventeenth birthday, she realized that remaining on her own world would not only endanger her life, but that of the rest of her family as well.  She bravely stole aboard a departing freighter and that’s how she came to be with the Shak Paw. 
     When they reached the Parcenon, Telara held up a hand.  Knowing she would not act without reason, Tran stood patiently waiting for her to start moving once again. 
     Her eyes widened and her chin lifted sharply into the air as her nostrils flared.
     Tran leaned closer to whisper, “What is it, little dove?”
     “Danger’s near.  All is not as it seems.”
    He gave a miniscule nod, then tapped the badge on his chest as he said, “Run scans and raise shields.  Keep a lock on us at all times.”
     A deep, gravelly voice replied, “Understood.”
     Telara smiled.  “Kreighton won’t will any jocularity contests.”
     Tran winked.  “I’d rather have him with us, grumbles and all than someone more personable.  He’s damn good at his job.”
     She smiled up at him.  “Yes, he is worth the trouble to know.”
     The two continued into the glass structure.  It looked like they were the last ones to join the group.  Telara squeezed Trans hand as they made for their seats.   
     Chartress, the delegate from Ornithius stood and called the meeting to order.  “The time has come for peace to reign.  No longer can the Drackma and Starlor afford to be at odds.  A new enemy has surfaced and in order to survive, the two must unite their resources for the good of all.”
     Tran studied the delegates just as he knew Telara was doing beside him.  He was good at reading auras, and from what he could see, the only one that believed what Chartress was saying was the delegate himself. 
     He felt the gentle probing that told him someone was in his mind, but he was familiar enough with the feeling that he recognized it was Telara.  He could hear her thoughts clearly, “They want the two factions to continue the war so they can slip in and pillage their world while they are distracted by the Tuparians.”
     Tran knew that name.  The Tuparians were responsible for desolating many worlds…  Then he paused, a remembered tidbit from his childhood came back to him.  Tuparians are always black.  They can’t disguise their true evil intentions.  His gaze ran through the delegates, and there beside the Drackma delegate was an aura he’d only seen a few times before.
     He pressed the badge on his chest and held it till it vibrated, then he did a series of taps telling Kreighton just what he needed.  He felt the answering vibration when Ruffario rose to speak. 
     Out of nowhere a blue beam of light appeared and the black aura rose, screaming in rage as if it’s owner were in extreme agony.  The blue light disappeared and the lighting returned to normal.  The delegates were up in arms, battling what they now knew was the real enemy.  They’d all had run-ins with the Tuparians, and to date, none of their races had come out the victor.
     Pandemonium broke out.
     Tran joined the melee, even though he didn’t hold out much hope in them being able to best the Tuparian.  His attention was diverted because he was worried about Telara.  She was more vulnerable to the creature than the rest of them.
     It didn’t take long for the creature to have them down on the ground trying to recuperate enough to take the fight to him once again.  It was in the third such lull in the fighting that Tuparian rose to his full height of over seven and a half feet.
     The creature roared before saying, “You will all be destroyed.  None of you are a match for us.  And now I mark you all for destruction!”
     The Drackma and Starlor delegates teamed up and got the Tuparian down on the ground.  When they each grabbed the creatures machete, it was like watching two halves of a hole in action and when the blade came down on the Tuparian, a brilliant light blinded everyone in the room. 
     When the light disappeared, Telara gasped.  Tran looked to see what was the matter and they both looked on at the child who was standing between the two.  She was a beautiful child with the Starlor’s features and the Drackma’s coloring.  Her eyes were  a beautiful golden color and when she smiled, a feeling of warmth permeated the room.
     When she spoke, it was as if her voice was amplified yet there didn’t seem to be anything making the sound effect.  “I am Staracklor.  By working together to defeat a common enemy, you have joined our people forever.  In doing so, you have given birth to a new race.  From this day forward, there are no Drackma, and there are no Starlor.  There are only Staracklor.”
     She held her palms face up and as she looked on with shimmering stars in her eyes, she was lifted above all of them and a light appeared again.  This time, when the light disappeared, the delegate from Drackma and the delegate from Starlor had been transformed so that their appearance was similar to the child’s.  She was once again standing on the floor beside the other two. 
     She took one hand from each and said, “You are my mother and father.  From today forward, we are a family.  Let’s go home.”
     Telara placed her small hand in Trans.  “We can go home now.  They will have peace for many centuries, and Ariellis is well in control.”
     She nodded.  The child born of both factions has saved her world by uniting them in a new race.  All that was before is forgotten.  No one on their planet remembers what went on before because only those willing tomake the transformation survived.”
     Tran looked at the child.  “That’s quite a feat for one so young.”
     “She’s up for the responsibility.”
     Tran turned to Telara and cupped her cheek.  “Let’ go home then.”

     The two turned and walked hand in hand back to the teleport that would take them back to their ship the Shak Paw.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28th, Making Christmas Memories

     Today's prompt is to write a story tied to a holiday that takes place in November/December/January/February.  No retelling of Scrooge or many of the other noted themes popular at this time of the year either.  Although A Christmas Carol does make it into my story, it's only because that's one of the memories of Christmas for one of the characters.  This is a very rough draft and I hope that you can make your way through the errors to enjoy the story.  This is an excerpt that I will be working on for a possibly longer piece.

     Jenny Grayson loved going into the city at this time of the year.  It brought back all kinds of memories from the days when she was a little girl and would accompany her mother on the two hour trip.  Today was special, though, the first Saturday of December.  Today was the first time she’d been able to make the trip since her eighteenth birthday, which was also the last time her mother had made the trip.
     Ten years had passed since that day when they’d traveled—from their rural farming community into the big city of Chicago—on a greyhound charter bus to spend the day Christmas shopping and to see the play, A Christmas Carol.  They both loved that play so very much and each Christmas season when they made the journey, it was like seeing it for the first time all over again.
     Jessica, her mother, said that Scrooge reminded her of Jenny’s dad, James.  He’d been very much like Scrooge himself when they’d first met.  Jenny loved hearing the stories her mother told about the romance with her father.  She could just picture the fireworks her mother talked about as she’d told her about the animosity between the two of them when they’d first met.
     She was brought back to the present by the sound of a big bus pulling into the parking lot.  She carefully got out of her Grand Am, grabbing the backpack from the passenger seat then locking the car before limping over to stand in line with the others getting picked up at this location.  There were about twenty people, mostly mothers and daughters, but there were a couple of guys making the trip as well.
     Knowing she would need extra time to get on the bus due to her injury, Jenny made sure to stay at the end of the line.  When she’d made the trip arrangements, she’d let them know about the special provisions she would need.  The woman had assured her that wouldn’t be a problem.
      Stepping onto the bus, she felt the excitement mounting.  Sure enough, there was a sign on the third seat behind the driver that said reserved.  She lifted the sign and sank down in the window seat before arranging her injured leg on the seat beside her. 
     She felt eyes on her as she did this and looked up at the most amazing pair of whiskey colored eyes.  The imp attached to the eyes smiled up at her and Jenny felt an answering smile come to her own lips. 
     A rough baritone intruded into the silence to say, “Sit in your seat Tori, we’re going to start moving.”
     The little person in front of me wrinkled up her nose and sighed.  Without turning to the speaker, she said, “Okay, Daddy.”
     Jenny leaned back against her seat back and closed her eyes, smiling as she heard the little girl’s grumbles that her activities had been curtailed.
     Although she pretended to sleep, she never reached that magic zone.  Still, she had lots of practice in keeping herself still.  It had been a life-saving skill she’d needed over the years.  The only clue that she wasn’t actually sleeping was the smile she couldn’t erase from her face as she listened to the father and daughter duo behind her.
     “Daddy, are we there yet?”
     “Not yet, Tori.”
     “How soon will we get there?”
     “About another hour.”
     Sigh…  There was silence for several beats and then, “Daddy?”
     “What, baby?”
     “Are we there yet?”
     A deep chuckle sounded giving me a warm squishy feeling inside.  This father hadn’t once answered the many beeps alerting him that he had a message, and not once had he let impatience into his tone when he spoke to Tori.  He had many of the same characteristics of Jenny’s own father.
     She must have fallen asleep because the change in speed and the rockier motions as the bus started making more turns woke her.  Her eyes opened and she sat still for several moments while she waited to acclimatize to her surroundings.
     The driver was speaking and she finally registered what he was telling them.  They could either get off at the first stop here by Macy’s or they could continue on to the Clock Tower and get off there, but everyone would need to meet back to this location. 
     Tori was bouncing on her seat.  “We’re here, Daddy!  We’re here!”
     His voice sounded amused as he told her, “Yes, we’re here.  Now, what was it we were going to do first?”
     A giggle sounded before the little girl said, “Oh, Daddy!  You know we’re going to see Santa at Macy’s.”
     A deep chuckle answered the child and Jenny felt an electrical current race down the back of my neck.  She’d never been affected like that before and wasn’t sure she liked the feeling. 
     Standing so she would have a chance to get the circulation flowing again to all the necessary places, she waited while the people from the back of the bus disembarked. 
     Tori went to rush past her when she was brought to a halt by a gentle hand. 
     “Where are your manners, young lady?  You need to wait for this lady to get off first.”
     Jenny felt the heat to her cheeks and smiled, “Oh, no, please go first.  It will take me a bit longer to get off and I don’t want to hold you up.”
     The man looked down at the child, his only direction was a raised eyebrow.
     Tori turned to her and rolling her eyes, she smiled sweetly, displaying the dimples in her cheeks as she said, “We don’t mind waiting.”
     Jenny looked up at the father and time stood still.  She shook herself as she gave herself a mental lecture on ogling other women’s husbands as she carefully stepped out into the aisle and slowly made her way to the front.  She let out a sigh when she felt solid ground under her and turned to thank the father and daughter duo. 
     Tori frowned at Jenny’s leg before lifting her eyes to meet Jenny’s.  “How are you going to walk around town?”
     Jenny smiled gently as she said, “I’m not going to be doing much walking.  I’m just going over to the Christkindlmarket when it opens.”
     The child’s eyes lit up as she turned to her father.  “Oh, Daddy, I’ve always wanted to go and see that.  Can we?  Can we please?”
     Drake Keller felt the hitch in his heart as he looked at the young woman his five-year-old daughter had taken a liking to.  Her tawny brown hair flowed around her shoulders and she had the most beautiful blue eyes he’d ever seen.  He’d love nothing more than to spend their day with the person standing in front of him, but figured she wouldn’t want to be stuck with a widower and his precocious five year old daughter.
     Just as he was ready to give her an out, she reached out and touched Tori’s blond curls.  “I’d love for you to join me, but don’t you and your daddy have other plans for the day?  I’m sure I heard you say you were going to see Santa.”
     Tori hesitated for a second then said, “You can come with us to see Santa first and then we can go with you to the village.”
     Jenny hesitated before asking, “What about your wife?”
     Tori piped up, “Daddy doesn’t have a wife.  My mommy’s in heaven.  That’s why we are getting two pictures today.  One for us to take home, and one for Santa to take to Mommy in heaven.”
     Tears blurred Jenny’s eyes and she had to catch her breath.  She looked up at Drake.  “I’m so sorry.  I didn’t know.”
      He nodded.  “She died the day Victoria was born.  Five years ago Christmas Day.”
     “You must have loved her a great deal.”
     Drake placed a hand on Tori’s head as he said, “She gave me a very precious Christmas gift that year.  So each year we come into Chicago and get a picture of Tori with Santa.”
     Jenny smiled.  “That’s a wonderful thing you are doing.”
     He shrugged.  “We usually get the pictures done first and then get a meal before taking in one of the plays.  You’re welcome to join us if you’d like.”
    She smiled.  “I’d like that.  I used to come here with my mother when I was little.  She used the excuse that we were going into the city to Christmas shop, but like you, we always stopped in to see Santa and get a picture.  Then we would spend a while walking around the market before making our way to the theatre so we could watch A Christmas Carol.  It was our favorite.”
     Drake smiled as he held out his hand.  “Shall we?”
     Jenny placed her hand in his and allowed him to pull her along with them as they headed across the street to Macy’s.  She felt the twinges in her leg as they crossed the road, it always seemed to act up whenever she tried to hurry.
     After the first several steps, Drake slowed to match Jenny’s pace rather than let her continue trying to move at his faster pace.  When she looked up at him, he winked at her and they continued into the store and up the escalator to the toy department where Santa was on his throne giving court.
     It only took fifteen minutes for Tori to reach Santa and within seconds she had her picture taken and was racing back to her father. 
     The woman in the elf costume handed Drake both of the pictures that he’d purchased.  He took them and handed one of them to Tori who ran back to where Santa sat and handed it to him.  He nodded solemnly and put the photo inside his suit.  As Tori ran back to her father once more, Santa put two fingers to his temple and saluted Drake. 
      As they made their way through Macy’s, Jenny was glad to have Drake at her side to ward off the crowd.  It was nearly wall to wall people.  Tori held tightly to her father’s hand as well.  When they reached the main floor, the smell of perfume permeated the air and Jenny was glad the moment the stepped outside onto the sidewalk because she was finally able to get a breath of fresh air.
     They headed a couple of blocks over to where the Christkindlmarket was set up.  The smell of teas, beer, hot cocoa, hot cider, brats, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, Currywust, Leberkäse, assorted roasted nuts, gingerbread, German cookies, and an assortment of German chocolates and candy, Stollen, popcorn, and cotton candy as well as fresh and savory strudels and puffs as well as Schnitzel, chicken sandwiches, German burgers, and ghoulash soup all blended into an incredible aroma and Jenny felt he stomach rumbling telling her it was lunch time.
     They stopped and Drake bought them each a sausage and cider along with some roasted nuts and a German cookie to share.  As they ate, they walked around the village looking at the artwork that each of the vendors had on display. 
     Jenny stopped to admire the cuckoo clocks.  She remembered her mother standing and watching them for quite a long time. 
     Drake leaned in to ask, “Are you thinking of buying one?  You can have it shipped to your home if you’d like.”
     Jenny shook her head.  “No.  I was just remembering how much my mother loved standing and looking at them.”
     “Which one do you think she would like?”
     A soft laugh escaped as Jenny pointed to an intricately designed model.  “No question, that one.  She loved ballerinas.”
     “Why don’t you get it for her?”
     Jenny looked up at Drake.  “She was killed in a car accident two weeks before Christmas ten years ago.  I was in the Marines and we were stationed overseas.  I wasn’t able to make it home until after the funeral.”
     “I’m sorry.”
     Tears pooled in Jenny’s eyes.  “That’s okay.  She loved life and believed every day should be celebrated.  That’s why I’m here.  I’m making the trip for both of us this year.  It’s the first time I’ve been able to do this since her death.”
     “What about your father?”
     “He still lives in the house he built for my mother before they married.”
      Drake’s arm went around her shoulders and she leaned her head against him.  They stood like that for a minute or two more until they were jostled from behind by the mob of bodies all trying to make their way through the market.  As the allowed the crowd to move them along, they took in the rest of the sights, Christmas ornaments, colorful clothing, wood carvings, among other things.  All in all, it took them nearly ninety minutes to get find their way to the sidewalk at the exit.
     Drake checked his watch as they stopped outside the crowd looking to make their way into the market.  “If we are going to see A Christmas Carol, we need to go now.  It will be starting in a few minutes.”
     The three of them headed to the theatre just a couple blocks down and when Drake paid for all three tickets, Jenny protested but she was over-ruled.  Drake placed a finger over her lips and said, “Let me.  Please.”
     She nodded and was pleasantly surprised when they took their seats in the front row. 
     The way Tori’s young face beamed at the action on the stage and her eyes seemed to glimmer with the wonder of what was going on around her gave Jenny more pleasure than she’d ever had before.  She remembered her mother watching her much in the same way she was watching Tori.  As Scrooge was redeemed, she smiled and looked up above her, smiling as she whispered, “This was the best one yet, Mom.  Thanks for coming.”
     Once the show was over, Drake ushered them outside to where a horse-drawn carriage was waiting.  He helped Tori and Jenny inside before taking his own seat and directing the driver where to take them.  They had just enough time for a short ride before they were dropped off where the bus was loading. 
     They waited for all of the others to get on, taking their seats as the driver prepared to head home.  Drake put Tori in the window seat and reclined her seat before taking his own seat beside her.  “Why don’t you recline your seat so that we can talk on the way back?  Unless you’d rather sleep.”

     Jenny did as he suggested and had the best time of her life talking to the man that had made today special for her in so many ways.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27th, Disappearing

     Today's prompt is included in bold at the beginning of the story.  I changed it from third person to first to blend with how I'm writing the story.  Today's excerpt is a scene from The Brotherhood, which is a sequel to The Runaway.  Helen is the property of Janet Evanovich and I thank her for letting us play with the characters of her Stephanie Plum series.  The plot is mine as well as any original character I've added.

     It was cold.  I was climbing a snow-laden mountain with the wind stripping  the heat from me as soon as it radiates out to my skin.  I clutch at my arms. They’re bare!   Where is my coat?  I want to sit down, lie down, but I know that’s the most dangerous thing I can do.  Suddenly, I’m doing it anyway.  But the snow feels wrong under my body.  It’s smooth…hard…and dry, not at all like snow.  In an instant my hip and cheek are aching as if I’ve been lying here for hours.  I can't hear the wind anymore.  I’m still cold but now I know that I’m inside.  In a room?  I open my eyes realizing that I’ve been dreaming again.  Instead of the unending expanse of the world around me, I can see only a few feet to the dirty white wall.  I’m still in the room on the floor.  My chest contracts, but I lack even the strength to curl up in a ball and cry.  I’m still here.  Maybe this afternoon I’ll try the door handle again…or maybe not.  For now I closed my eyes and let sleep take me away from the reality of this locked cell of a room that I’d found myself in.

     I must have slept because I was feeling marginally better, as if my energy had been partially restored.  I was in that in between state of dreaming and wakefulness and found myself wondering how long I’d been here.  The last thing that I remembered was getting off work.  It had been dark, darker than usual due to the fact that there was no moon in the sky when I made my way to my car.  I couldn’t help thinking of the horror movies that I loved watching where the next victim of the killer found themselves in just such a situation.
     I remembered that feeling…as if someone was watching every move I made.  I’d heard a sound and turned.  There was a huge object close and I remembered putting up my forearm to ward them off as I’d opened my mouth to scream.  Suddenly, something white descended on my head and I felt myself disappearing as everything went dark.

     The loud clanging of the metal door slamming shut woke me and I struggled to sit up.  I had to blink my eyes several times and it took a lot of effort to open them.  When I did, it was all I could do not to scream as I got a good look at the man standing just inside the room. 

     We’d all heard the stories about this man.  No one was willing to work with him.  Not since the incident with the three student nurses who claimed the man was a psychopathic monster.  Oh, no one could prove it, and the one person who tried ended up floating face down in the Delaware.  But we all knew it was true.  Dr. Ripley was pure evil and we all knew it.  I made it a point never to go near the man, so what was I doing here locked in a room that he had access to?
     He smiled that creepy sicko smile of his and laughed.  It was a high pitched laugh that gave away the fact that he was crazy.  I felt the hair stand up on my arms and the back of my neck at just the sight of him. 
     “Hello, dear Alex.  I’ll bet you weren’t expecting to see me here.”
     I bit my lip so I wouldn’t say anything, but he didn’t seem to need an answer as he said, “I am in need of you special skills.”
     Frowning, not sure what special skills he was referring to since the only skills I considered of value were my nursing skills.  I was a mid-wife specialized in traumatic births.  Most of my clients were women in their fifties and I’d even had patients in their sixties. 
     Dr. Ripley nodded.  “I see you’ve put two and two together.  Yes, I need your mid-wife skills.  If you do a good job, I’ll let you live.”
     He motioned with his hand and two beefy guys rushed into the room and grabbed me.  They forced me to stand and walk with them to another room where a woman was strapped to a table.  When I saw who it was, I froze.  I knew this woman.  Her photo had been all over the news about eight months ago when she disappeared from a mental institution.  What was she doing here, and from the looks of her, she was nearly full term.
     She glared at the doctor.  “You won’t get away with this.”
     The doctor smiled.  “Oh, dear Helen, I already have.”  He let loose with a laugh that gave me the impression he’d gone off the deep end.  Then his eyes turned to me.  “I want my child out of her…now, please.  You will make it happen, or I will make sure you suffer the same fate as my pet here when she has served her purpose.”
     It was then I got a look in his eyes and knew that he meant every word.  I had one chance at surviving this ordeal, and that was to take the baby from the woman lying on the table.  I swallowed hard as I asked, “Wouldn’t it be safer for the baby if you waited till it was ready to be born?”
     Ripley looked at Helen, his eyes gleamed as he said, “This bitch took my baby girl from me, it’s only fitting that she give me a replacement on my little Jeannie’s birthday.  She would have been 31 today.”  He turned to me and said, “Take my child from her womb, now!”
     I turned to the woman on the table. There was a look of horror on her face as she whispered, ‘That’s why you did this to me, you monster?”
     Ripley sneered.  “Why dear Helen, I’m not the one who tried to murder my own child.  I would never do that.  My children mean the world to me.  All three of them.  And with this baby I will have a fourth child.”
     Ripley turned and walked to the door where he stopped long enough to say, “You have three hours.  Cut my child out of her if you have to.  Just get it done.”
     With that, he walked through the door and all I heard was the sound of the door being locked.