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Jan. 2018 Writers Challenge

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  • 23 Jan 2018 11:53 AM
    Reply # 5698243 on 5651353
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    I’m so pleased to see the many unique stories everyone has submitted. Sarah, Richard and Gloria, you are each different but each talented, evoking emotions and entertaining readers. Thank you all for your wonderful stories.

  • 22 Jan 2018 6:37 PM
    Reply # 5696625 on 5651353
    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin


    Sam sat before the fire contemplating the quiet of the family free house.  Just then the front door opened and he heard his youngest daughter Megan, age four running through the hallway. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” He heard Megan yelling. “In here little one.”  He replied. She ran in and threw herself into her father’s arms.  His wife, Laura and eldest daughter Candace, age 12 came more sedately into the room.

    “Daddy, we saw Santa Clause at Fisherman’s Wharf and he was dressed like a fisherman. I ran up to him and asked him if this was his secret costume?”  Megan replied. Her rosy cheeks shining.

    Laura told her Sam that “Santa” was fishing with some of his friends at the end of Pier 39.  She told Sam that “Santa” was not surprised when the excited little girl ran up to him and asked to sit on his lap.

    “I get this all the time the old fisherman replied.”  “I am so sorry that she just ran up to you like that,” Laura said. “That is perfectly alright.” He replied.

    “Now young lady what would you like Santa bring you for Christmas?”  Megan thought for a long minute and then blurted out. “I would like a Fire Truck like the one that my Uncle Paul drives all over San Francisco with the fire siren blaring really loud and a Police Car just like Uncle Harry drives. You know he sometimes gives people rides in the back of his car.” She confided to the old fisherman in a small quiet voice.

    “Wouldn’t you like a doll or a playhouse for Christmas.” He asked.  Megan looked at him and said “Dolls are for babies. When I grow up I want to be a Fireman or a Policeman. You cannot be one of those with a dolly!” she told him.

    “And Candace, what would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?” Candace just looked at the old fisherman she leaned closer to the old man and whispered. “I know there is no Santa Clause, but I will play along for Megan.”

      “I would like a microscope and a chemistry set.” She told him.  “I am going to be a veterinarian when I am older.”

    “Well, we must leave “Santa” to his fishing. He has a lot to do tonight to get ready.” Laura said.

    Laura picked up Megan and started walking back to the car.  The old fisherman looked at the young family one more time and winked at Megan, and she winked back.

    When they got home and Laura had finished telling the story to Sam, they could see that Megan’s eyes were starting to close, but she did not want to leave the warm fire and her parents decided to let her and Candace sleep by the Christmas tree in new sleeping bags their grandparents bought them for camping.

    “Come on Megan lets lay out our sleeping bags. I will make us some hot cocoa and maybe sneak a couple of cookies mom made for Santa.” When Candace got back from the kitchen she found Megan sound asleep in front of the fire. 

    Sam and Laura starting talking before they got into bed.  “I did not want to say something to the girls before now, but how did the old fisherman know Candace’s name?  Megan blurted her name out before she got to him, so I can see how he knew her name.”  Maybe he heard you two talking and you called her Candace.”  “I guess that you are right. It just seems strange.” Said Laura.

    Candace was worried that she had not told her parents what she wanted for Christmas.  She had told the old fisherman, but that didn’t count. Not really. 

    She had never confided in her parents that her fondest wish was to become a veterinarian. She was always bringing home sick animals that never made it out of the house.  They had three dogs, two cats, two gerbils and four birds.  She could never bear to let them go and she had the best parents who never told her no.

    Candace slowly drifted off to sleep as she heard Megan making a fire engine sounds in her sleep.  How she loved her little sister and only wanted her to be happy.

    Morning came and the girls scrambled up the stairs to their parents' room.  Mommy, Daddy, it's time to open all my presents.” Megan said impatiently.

    “Give us five minutes to get our eyes open and we will join you little ladies shortly.” “Hurry up, I can’t wait,” Megan yelled as she raced down the stairs.

    Candace tried to calm her sister down before their parents walked down the stairs. “You will make yourself sick Megan.”   She took Megan onto her lap and said Santa could still see them and surely she did not want him to come back and take any presents back.  Megan became as still as a little kitten.

    “Okay girls, let the present opening begin!” boomed Sam.

    Megan jumped off her sister's lap and ran to the Christmas tree.  “Remember what I told you.”  Said Candace, but Megan was beyond all hearing.  She opened the first present and low and behold, she had her Fire Truck.  She turned the siren on and ran the truck all over the front room, kitchen and back again.

    “Candace, why don’t you see what is in that big box behind the tree,” Laura said.  She looked at Sam and raised her eyebrows, asking him if he had put that their last night.  Sam shook his head no.

    Candace slowly looked at the present. No, it can’t be. She thought to herself. She walked around the package before getting up the nerve to open it.  She unwrapped the present and there was the microscope that she had dreamed of.

    See, Santa comes in the strangest guises.  We never know how or when he will appear.  

    So always believe!

  • 22 Jan 2018 4:02 PM
    Reply # 5696376 on 5651353

    Sherri, the story is true to the title. I was wondering when the misunderstanding was going to come in, but you pulled it off well. Good Job. I wonder how many people loose out because of a misunderstanding. 

  • 22 Jan 2018 3:56 PM
    Reply # 5696359 on 5651353

    Richard, I loved this story. You set the mood well. I love how he reflected on the past and the way you twisted the story at the end with the boyfriend's phone. Very moving piece.

  • 22 Jan 2018 3:49 PM
    Reply # 5696338 on 5651353

    Gloria, I liked your story a lot. I got confused a few times because it seemed as thought the person was talking about themselves and then it would switch as if someone else was telling the story. Good story, moving.

  • 19 Jan 2018 8:59 AM
    Reply # 5691075 on 5651353
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    Carrie glared at the phone vibrating beside her. She punched end and slammed it back to the table. Tilting her head against the sofa cushions she tried to ignore it but her eyes kept going to her cell. A text scrolled across her screen, I’m sorry. Yeah, of course he’s sorry, he got caught.


    The Misunderstanding

    She turned the phone over and closed her eyes. Tears slipped from between her lashes and slid down her cheeks. She reached for her coffee, it was cold. Wearily, she shoved the footstool out of her way and shuffled to the microwave.

                Headlights pierced the closed curtains. She cursed. “That lying, cheating…”

                Two doors slammed.

                She shoved the curtain aside and swore. “Oh no he didn’t bring that hussy here.” Seeing her fiancé in another woman’s embrace was bad enough. Having them both show up at her house was more than anyone woman should have to deal with.

                The knock sounded like a shot gun going off. She jumped, sloshing her coffee. She tried to ignore the banging. “Damn it Carrie, I know you’re in there. I saw you looking out the window.” More banging. “Carrie, open the door so we can talk.”

                “I’ve been lied to before Luke. I’m not going through that again.” She set her mug on the table and paced in front of the front door.

                “I’ve never lied to Carrie. Are you going to hold it against me, what other guys did to you?”

                She leaned her fevered brow against the coolness of the door. Her tears streaming down her face. “I learned my lessons well.” Her voice cracked.

                “Carrie, you know me. You know I’m not like the other guys. I love you.”

                They’d told her they loved her too. She wanted to believe him, but she’d seen him. “Why is she here with you?”

                “She came in case you wouldn’t listen to me.”

                “Is she going to lie for you?”

                “No, Carrie, she’s not,” he sighed. “She thought she could fix this if she came and explained who she is but the truth is, either you trust me or you don’t.”

                Carrie held her breath. What did he mean? She swallowed the fear in her throat. Why did she feel guilty when he was the one who was cheating? “What are you saying?”

                The seconds ticked by like the timer on a bomb. She waited for Luke to answer.

                “I’ve never given you a reason to doubt me.”

                Carrie put her hand to the door, her heart aching. She wanted to trust him but she’d been hurt before. Her first fiancé had liked her brother better than her. He was called Charlene now. Her second serious relationship, a lawyer, ended when she caught him disrobing his secretary in his office. She’d felt sorry for him having to work through lunch. She’d prepared a picnic, complete with a bottle of wine and fresh baked bread. But the final straw was finding her husband-to-be wearing panties with her cousin’s initials in rhinestones on the eve of their rehearsal dinner. “Who is she?”

                “You should have asked that before running away.”

                She wanted to scream. “You looked guilty when you saw me standing there.”

                “Because I knew you’d think the worst. Carrie, I’m not those other guys. You know it in your heart, I’d never cheat on you or do anything to hurt you.”

                Biting her bottom lip, she unfastened the deadbolt and opened the door. Carrie stared at her fiancé, surprised to see he was crying too.

                “Carrie,” his voice cracked.

                She looked past him to the woman waiting on the walkway.

                “You remember me telling you about my childhood friend, Jackie?”

                Carrie looked from Luke to the woman. “Jack?”

                The woman answered. “Jacquelin.”

                “You’re in the Army?”

                She nodded. “Captain Jack McCotter.”

                “She’s a woman.”

                Luke nodded. “Don’t let that fool you. She used to beat my butt every day when we were kids.”

                “I can still beat your butt,” Jackie smiled. “I’m sorry, Carrie. I came in for the wedding. Luke asked me to stand up with him. He said he’d told you I’d be his best man?”

                Carrie looked to her fiancé. “But she’s not a man?”

                “But she was my best friend before you,” Luke reached for Carrie’s hand. “She’s the reason I’m still here. If not for her, I’d be dead.”

                Carrie knew the story but she’d always imagined the Jack that had saved her fiancé from drowning, was a boy. “I’m sorry Jackie.” She reached out her hand to the other woman. “Luke never told me, you were a woman, only you were his best friend.”

                Jackie clasped her hand and pulled her into a hug. “I was only his friend but now, you are his best friend and I am okay with that.”

                Carrie stared into the dark, serious eyes of her husband’s childhood friend and smiled. “It is wonderful to finally meet you.” Turning to Luke, she said, “You could have told me.”

                “You should trust me.”

                She sighed. “I do but it’s not always easy to trust myself.”

                Luke pulled her into his arms. “Let’s go inside, it’s cold out here.”






  • 18 Jan 2018 3:05 PM
    Reply # 5690132 on 5651353

    Then the Phone Rang  


    The wind howled and the windows rattled. The thermometer just outside the window read five degrees.  Looking around the room, Sam felt a sense of warmth and security, protected not just from the raging storm outside, but from all the hardships and heartaches of the world. This room with its old heart-pine floor, paneled walls, and exposed beams had been his personal refuge for more than 25 years. A fire burned in the stone fireplace, slowly consuming its oak log.  On the table beside Sam’s chair was everything he would need tonight –reading glasses, his book, and a bottle of good burgundy.  He set his cell phone on the table, just in case his daughter, Liz, needed to reach him. She was driving home from college to spend the weekend with her daddy. Sam and Liz had always been very close. He wouldn’t be taking any other calls.

    Sam was despondent this desolate this winter evening because his divorce had become official earlier that day.  Alone and lonely, he settled in by the fire to read and wait for the arrival of Liz.

    He poured a glass of wine, raised the glass, and viewed the flames in the fireplace. Seen through the prism of the wine in the crystal goblet, the flames were mesmerizing, almost hypnotic, gradually fading into the background, replaced by another image. Transported back to another winter scene, more than 15 years ago, to an earlier, happier time, he saw himself playing in the freshly fallen snow. He was chasing his then ten-year-old daughter, Liz, around the circular path they had trampled in the snow. He let her stay just tantalizingly out of reach, as she ran, screaming joyously. “You can’t catch me. You can’t catch me.”

    Sam’s reverie had to be put on hold while he refilled his glass, anxious to get back to the snow game with Liz. This time though, as he gazed through the crystal and red wine, he was at the beach. Liz, now 18, sat beside him on a beach blanket, while two older boys paraded back and forth, obviously trying to get her attention. It worked. She mumbled something about cooling off in the surf and left the blanket to stroll past the boys.  Sam felt, once more, the same sting of resentment, jealousy, almost panic that he had felt that day on the beach. He was losing his little girl.

    The cell phone rang. Looking at the incoming number, he thought it looked vaguely familiar but couldn‘t quite place it. He just knew it wasn’t Liz.  He ignored it. Minutes later the phone rang again - same number. “Absolutely not.” he said out loud, “This is my night, and whoever the hell you are, I don’t want to talk to you. Call me in the morning.”

    As the glass slowly emptied, the image, once again, faded with the receding wine level. As Sam reached for the bottle to fill the glass again and, by extension, recharge the image to the past, he realized there was only enough left for one more refill. He would need to slow down his drinking to prolong the link to the past.

    This strategy, however, had a counterbalancing effect. The slower he drank the wine, the fuzzier the image. There was a perfect balance of rate of consumption and clarity of image. The re-living of the scenes was a mirror of life itself – you can’t live in slow motion, nor can you re-live in slow motion.

    As Sam raised the glass and looked once more through the wine filter, he saw a new scene, this time a scene with Liz in it, but also his wife, Jennifer. They were together for the last time. Sam and Jennifer were explaining to Liz that they were going to get divorced. Liz was devastated. So was Sam.

    Way too quickly, the glass was empty again. Sadly, but eagerly, he poured the last of the burgundy. Oh Liz, he thought, where will we be this time? I miss you Liz. I’m so glad you’re coming to see me. You’re all I live for now.

    Jolted awake by a loud pounding noise, Sam struggled to collect his thoughts. The fire had burned low, a wine glass lay on the floor, and his watch read 2:30 AM. The pounding persisted, clearly from the front door.

    When Sam opened the door, a state trooper stood there, a clipboard in his hand. “Good evening, sir, I’m trooper Meritt. Is Elizabeth Lawrence your daughter?”

    Liz’s car had slid off the narrow country road, gone down a steep bank, and rolled over on its side, driver-side down. It was impossible for a badly injured driver to open the door.  It had taken more than an hour for the rescue team to locate the vehicle after the 911 call from Liz. She had died on the way to the hospital.

    Sam was back home going through the bag the nurse had given him containing Liz’s personal effects – her clothes, purse, jewelry, and cell phone. Sam didn’t recognize the cell phone. Turning it over, he saw Liz’s boyfriend’s name embossed on the back. Oh, no, he thought. Please, God, no.

    He picked up his phone and listened to the two messages left last night by the caller from the “vaguely familiar” number.

  • 14 Jan 2018 4:58 PM
    Reply # 5682630 on 5651353

    Sherri and Louis,

    Thank you both for your kind words. 

    "Abduction" was a response to the Writer's Challenge. However, due to your responses, it may be the beginning of a next book. I am currently working on a sequel to my published non-fiction novel, Midnite's Journey.

    The protagonist of "Abduction" cares deeply about his wife. He feels that being clinical and removing emotion will clear his head, enabling him to be more objective in his reasoning on how to best approach his deductive and  agent skills.

  • 13 Jan 2018 12:10 PM
    Reply # 5681407 on 5651353
    Sarah Maury Swan

    Gina swore this was the tenth time “unknown caller” appeared on her call screen in less than an hour. Every one of them had come at the wrong time—bathroom breaks or when she had calls on her cell or when she was scrambling eggs. This time she just felt the need to answer the call.

                She waited for someone on the other end to speak, but there was only the usual silence of a robocall. She had her thumb on the “end call” button, when someone on the other end cleared his throat, sighed, and asked, “Are you Gina Dunwitty?”

                Her maiden name. He’d used her maiden name, and though she still used it officially in her book titles, most people just knew her as Gina Cashell, wife of Timothy Cashell. Fifty years she’d been in the Cashell family, fighting to hold on to her personal identity.

                Was this person a scam artist, she wondered. How could he have gotten her name and phone number? Gina swallowed and tried to steady her voice before saying, “Um, who’s asking?”

                “I’m sorry,” came the voice on the phone. “I’m not trying to con you. I’m looking for my birth mother.”

                Gina’s heart staggered in her chest. After all these years, could it really be her son? She’d wanted to reach out to him, but had made up one excuse after another for not looking. Often, she’d thought he probably hated her for giving him up. Or he had a good life and didn’t need her. Or didn’t know how. It had been a closed adoption, after all.

                “I was born on October 16th, 1964, at George Washington Hospital, and given up for adoption eight days later.”

                Gina’s face was now awash in tears. “What was your birth name?” she whispered.

                “Mark Aaron Dunwitty, but my adoptive parents renamed me Mark Charles Greenlaw. They told me my birth mother had baptized me to keep me safe.”

                Joy flushed Gina’s face. Tim and their kids would be thrilled. They were always pushing her to find him. “Oh Mark, I’ve waited so long. I didn’t think I’d ever find you.”

  • 13 Jan 2018 8:19 AM
    Reply # 5681244 on 5663793
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)
    I love your sense of humor and adventure! What a cool story! This was both exciting and humorous, great job! I loved it!
    Michael Worthington Worthington wrote:

    Phone Call Adventure

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