March 13, 2024

During our February 28th meeting, my writers’ club decided to have a homework assignment using the following prompt:

“Write from a wall’s perspective and incorporate American Flag”

Here’s what I composed and shared during our first meeting in March:

Wall

The room is so still and quiet. I remember when it was filled with children’s voices and laughter. But that happened long ago.

Across the room there’s a cream statue with a bright red center. The elderly woman lights a candle then a stick of incense. She kneels on the floor in her daily ritual. Her mumbling words incoherent to me.

I was once whiter than that statue. I was given a bath every spring. Sometimes they painted me. Now I’m forgotten; gray, dingy, and streaked with smoke.

She picks up her cane then uses it to push herself to stand. Unsteady, she collapses into the nearby recliner. I wait until she snores and drool drips down her chin.

I call across the room. “Niche, did she say anything new?”

He hacks and coughs, trying to clear the remaining cloud of frankincense which envelops him. “Youff! Yes. She begged to be taken to heaven. Yack! Now that her younger brother is dead, she feels she has no one left in this world.”

A tiny chunk of my plaster falls as I shudder. “Wonder what will happen to us?”

The next day someone rings the doorbell, knocks at the door, then uses a key to unlock it when the white-haired woman doesn’t wake. As a woman with gray-streaked hair enters the foyer, she calls, “Aunt Mary, It’s Janie. I brought you a casserole.” When there isn’t any response, she puts her dish on the coffee table, crosses the room, and pulls up the shades. “Aunt Mary.” She gently shakes the napping woman’s shoulder. “Would you like a cup of green tea?” When Mary nods, Janie goes into the kitchen. She returns with a tray after the teapot sings and has a roll of garbage bags under her arm.

In a querulous voice, Mary asks, “What are you doing here? How did you get in?”

“I promised Dad I would come clean your house twice a week. He gave me his key.” She smiles. “Thought you might enjoy a cheesy broccoli casserole.”

“Who are you?”

Janie sighs. “Aunt Mary, I told you. I’m Janie. Eugene’s middle daughter.” She swipes a mess of sardine tins, tuna cans, and cracker crumbs from Mary’s end table into a bag. She spoons food onto a plate and sets this next to her aunt who pushes it away.  “Don’t need no mollycoddling.”

“I remember when I hated broccoli.” Janie sits on the sofa and fills a plate. “Your Jimmy double-dogged dared me to eat your cheesy broccoli soup. I tried it and liked it.” She takes a bite. “Though it’s not your soup recipe, it’s similar. You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want.”

She remains quiet as she finishes her meal then picks up her dishes and goes into the kitchen. Janie returns with cleaning tools and supplies. She carefully moves the five American flags from near the niche and places the stack on the couch. “When I come this Saturday, I’ll bring some of that new Woolite product then hand wash these if that’s all right with you. I’ll also do your lace curtains.” When Mary doesn’t respond, she turns and sees her napping.

Janie talks to herself as she dusts and mops. “Tsk. Dang shame for Auntie’s house to be in such shape. Dad warned me, but I never imagined it to be this bad. I know Bill will argue with me, but he’ll come around when I mention all her men lost in the world wars. Uncle Jim and Jimmy in the first one. Then she lost Gene, Bud, and Frank when their sub got torpedoed in the second.” She sighs. “So sad Auntie didn’t have grandchildren. I’ll bring all of mine and put this place to rights. Maybe it will cheer her up.”

She finishes her work. Lighting a candle, Janie kneels. “Sacred Heart of Jesus, please hear my prayer. Aunt Mary has suffered too much grief. May her last days be filled with happiness. May she find joy in my family. Amen.”

I wait until she leaves. “Niche, do you think ‘put to rights’ means we’ll have baths and paint again?”

“Dunno for sure, but think it does.”

February 28, 2024

During our meeting, we decided to have an in-class writing assignment. A member provided us with the following prompt:

“So there I was completely surrounded by elephants”

We were given 5 minutes to write something, then each person read their brief story. I wonder what I might have come up with if I’d had more time. Here’s what I wrote:

Elephants

So, there I was completely surrounded by elephants. My camel reared as the enormous beast blasted it with water. I firmly gripped the reins as she somewhat stepped backward. Bruiser came nearer, trumpeting his anger. My blasted mount defecated. Holding on for dear life, I prayed I wouldn’t end up like a chuck steak, pounded and hammered into a thin strip!

December 13, 2023

When my writing group met last month, we were asked to write a Christmas story for this meeting. I had written a short memoir about Christmas several years ago and thought I would just share it with our members. I wanted to focus on my fourth novel. But…this bizarre story popped into my mind. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. Subconsciously, I guess I wanted to prove to I can write something other than historical fantasy. LOL

Tina

Christmas Day – Age 13

Dear Diary,

This is Tina. Well actually my name is Christina, but my parents call me Chris which I really dislike. My troubles began about six months ago. You could say it started with the onset of puberty. Suddenly, I craved carbs. Cake. Donuts. Pies. Potatoes in any form. I went from slightly plump to a tubby blob within weeks.

Yesterday was the worst one ever. Mom spent all day rolling out dough, lathering it with melted butter, then spreading a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. Expecting ten people for breakfast, she made three large pans of sweet rolls, two loaves of raisin bread, and a coffee cake. The aroma of it baking made my mouth water. Irresistible! I snuck out of bed last night. I was only going to have one roll. Nibbling, one led to another, then another. Before I realized what I had done, every delectable bite was gone!

Mom’s tear-streaked, disappointed face told the story. She didn’t chastise me. Instead, she said, “What can I do? How do I feed thirteen people in an hour?”

“How about your delicious baked apple pancakes?” I rummaged in the fridge for the bag of McIntoshes. “There’s enough here for that. I’ll peel and slice while you make the batter.”

Christmas breakfast was awkward, though Mom didn’t tell them what I’d done. It was our relatives’ comments that upset me. Each one saying, “My, you’ve really put on weight,” as they hugged me. I did not need to be told this! How cruel of them to make such a remark.

We attended church after everyone left. Once home, I sat on the floor next to the decorated tree and broached a subject that had bothered me for months. “Mom, Dad, why am I so different? The other kids tease me. Why don’t I look like either of you?”

Dad is 6 feet 4 inches with sandy brown hair and green eyes. Mom is almost as tall with straight brunette hair and hazel eyes. Curly platinum hair with blue eyes, I stand at less than 5 feet.

Dad looked at Mom then cleared his throat. “You’ll soon have a growth spurt. I was only a little over your size when I started high school. I suggest you ignore their teasing, and they’ll soon stop.”

Mom only nodded. Diary, they are good people, but I just don’t fit in. Today is my birthday, and I hoped for more. More of what I cannot say.

Independence Day – Age 14

Dear Diary,

I am so confused. Nothing seems to make sense. My voice has deepened and sometimes cracks. While I have grown, it was only three inches taller and not any slimmer. Mom gave me an electric razor to shave my legs when my menstruals began last year. But now my cycles have stopped. Today, I used the razor, not on my legs, but on my face! Afraid my long facial hairs would be visible by the light of the fireworks.

I moved all of my dresses to the rear of the closet today. I much prefer wearing baggy sweatshirts and jeans. I guess I had better learn to like the name Chris!

August 2nd

Dear Diary,

Writing in you seems such a girlish thing to do. Today, Mom took me to a specialist who described me as an intersex. The female doctor suggested hormone shots, but I don’t want to be subjected to those. So, I guess I must resign myself to being a boy named Chris.

Labor Day – Age 16

Dear Diary,

I avoid my classmates as much as possible, even eating my lunch inside the janitor’s closet. Sophomore year has been even worse than last year. Last week, I asked Mom and Dad if I could be homeschooled, but they refused. They don’t understand the cruel taunting I receive every day. I hate it here!

Books have become my best friend. I go on many adventures through them. Men have kept journals for ages, so this isn’t really a girlish thing to do, and you’ll be coming with me.

Yes, it’s time for me to venture forth. Something is calling me northwest. Every day the need grows more urgent. I’ve stuffed my backpack with black-and-red-checked flannel shirts, two pairs of wool socks and boxer shorts, plus additional overalls. Yesterday, I bought steel-toed hiking boots. I have saved over $2,000. Hope this is enough to get me wherever I need to go. Thankfully, I could get a NEXUS card to enter Canada using my driver’s license. Unlike a passport, I didn’t need my parents’ permission. They don’t understand and I guess they never will. The disparity in our looks has increased, and I now think they are not my biological parents.

I bought a throw-away cell phone for any emergency. All that’s left for me to do is write a note to them. I’ll sneak out after they’re asleep.

Dear Diary,

I rode a bus from Fargo to Winnipeg yesterday. The border guards accepted my card without any question. I arrived there mid-morning and was surprised by the size of this city. Though it wasn’t yet lunchtime, the crowded streets made me decide to continue my journey. I took another bus and got off in Neepawa. Small enough, it looked a promising place to remain for a day or week, then I’ll head north again.

September 15th

Dear Diary,

I’ve heard, “parley-vous Français?” so many times since I entered Canada that I went to Walmart today and bought a tablet. When I returned to the hostelry, I downloaded the Duolingo app because it was free. I spent three hours using it and love its game-like aspect. I’ve changed my mind and will remain here several weeks, so I can learn more French.

October 1st

Dear Diary,

I asked the desk clerk about internet service in rural areas. He said, “Strigo Mobile is probably the best one.”

I checked online and liked their information, so I ordered a SIM card and mobile device which should arrive here in two days. I purchased their yearly prepaid plan too. Then went back to Walmart and splurged on a better android phone. Now I must curb my spending before I need to find a job.

October 8th

Dear Diary,

I haven’t shaved in over three weeks. I think my beard makes me look older. After binding my breasts, I loaded my belongings into my backpack then departed. Before leaving Neepawa, I invested in a black cattleman’s hat, bedroll, and tent.

I followed Route 5 north then west. Nature’s beauty abounded during days of Indian summer. Red and gold leaves shook and fell with the breeze. Chittering squirrels gathering acorns were everywhere I looked. After several days of walking while using Duolingo, I reached Saskatoon.

Tomorrow, I’ll follow 16 northwest. If I can reach Edmonton before the snows, maybe I’ll be able to land a job.

November 1st

Dear Diary,

No luck working at any of the ski resorts. Not even as a waiter. One manager took pity on me and suggested I apply at the large mall. I did and accepted a position as the department store Santa.

Christmas Day – Age 17

Dear Diary,

I’ve been too busy to write anything here. I truly enjoyed participating in the parade on November 18th. When was the last time I liked being among other people? I honestly can’t say.

I’m so glad I took time to learn French because I was able to understand each child’s wish when they sat on my lap. I like this city. People are friendly and accepting. Is this what happiness feels like? Never in my life did I dream that I’d enjoy being Chris Kringle! It’s been a wonderful experience. This place feels like a pair of warm, fuzzy socks. So comfortable!

October 11, 2023

Members of my writing group read short stories where they have written their partner’s character into a corner. When we finished this, we used prompts from the Writer’s Tool Box to write a short story. My prompts were:

  • My brother did this weird thing with turtles
  • I cheated on my spouse. And it wasn’t the first time.

How to work these two different trains of thought into a short story? Here’s the short story that I wrote. I hope you find it humorous!

Turtle

My brother did this weird thing with turtles. Using an infinitely small tube, he somehow gathered semen from the males. He didn’t tell me when he added some to my rum & coke. He watched me intently while I drank. A few minutes later, he asked, “So, how are you feeling? Are things at work getting any better?”

Confused, I glanced at him. He’s never this solicitous. “Why?”

He doesn’t answer, but still stares at me.

I try to stand up but topple to the floor. Next thing I know, I’m parked outside my house.

My brother texts me the following morning. “Got something you need to see.”

“Too busy today.”

“Make time now, or you’ll be sorry!”

He opens the door and smirks at me. “Wait till you watch this!” He presses buttons and an image of me appears on the TV screen. He forwards the action. “Here, watch close now.”

I am in bed with a strange woman having oral sex.

He pauses the video, then fast forwards it.

I am in bed with a strange man having missionary-style sex.

I scream. “Stop! I would never do that!”

“Are you saying it’s not you?”

“Err yes, no. I don’t know. According to this, I cheated on my spouse. And it wasn’t the first time.”

August 23, 2023

I’m almost a week late in posting. Our writing group continues to work on short stories for our Potpourri Project. A few members read their current stories. Since it’s been over a month since I last posted anything, I looked back through my notebook for something. I hope you’ll find it humorous.

Last July, we used prompts from The Writer’s Toolbox to write a short story during a meeting. Here are the prompts that I received that made me immediately think about Miss Piggy:

    • a completely inappropriate shade of pink
    • the man in the striped pajamas
    • of the way Herb defrosted the refrigerator
    • ripped upholstery

Gold Lamé

Looking in a mirror, I see she has dressed me in a completely inappropriate shade of pink. Didn’t the dressing room know by now I wouldn’t wear this crap? It made my ears look huge! Kermie would laugh at me and that would be unbearable.

“Gilda, I refuse to wear this garbage. Here, take it away. Toss this in the trash! My gold lamé will have to do.”

“If you don’t take chances,” says the man in the striped pajamas, “you might as well not be alive.”

I whip my head around to glare at him. “Gilda! Why did you let him in here? I want nothing to do with that clown!”

I stamp my hoof. “Moe, you know better than to enter my dressing room. Get out! Go see if Larry is dressed. Last show, he streaked naked across the stage behind me.”

Gilda goes to get ice to calm me down. There isn’t any because of the way Herb defrosted the refrigerator. He had forgotten to plug in the appliance before he went home.

She sticks her head outside the door and screeches. “Curly, quick! Run to the commissary and get her a buck of ice.” She turns back. “Moe, get out of here. I’ve got to get her ready!”

My assistant collapses on the ripped upholstery of my couch. Tears stream and streak her mascara. She sobs. “I’m sorry, so sorry! I should have stayed home. My astrology for today told me it would be bad.”

I kick Moe’s butt as he finally heads to the door. Pulling her into my arms, I say, “Oh, didn’t mean to upset you. Not your fault.” I glance at my Rolex. “Oh dear. We’ll be late. Get my dress out.”