Category: Stories

original short stories by your’s truly

Mr. Babbage’s Cabbage

Mr. Babbage’s Cabbage

Mr. Babbage was world-famous for his skill in vegetable cultivation. World famous in Freesaw County, that is. When it came time for the Freesaw County Fair, you knew the whole world and their kittens would turn up to see Mr. Babbage’s latest vegetable monstrosity.

Last year Mr. Babbage’s giant potato was late to the judging tent because the workers took it to the rodeo ring because it was stubborner than a bull to move, and larger than one too. The year before that, Mr. Babbage unveiled a colossal carrot, so big Jenny and I mistook it for a moon rocket from the space exhibit. And the year before that, Mr. Babbage wheeled out a tomato so ginormous that the mothers of Freesaw County made three-hundred and three-quarter jars of tomato sauce from its hulking mass.

I had no doubt in my mind that Mr. Babbage was fixin’ to win first prize at the fair this year with a new behemoth, bigger and badder than any of our most terrible vegetable nightmares. Except this year was different. This year the Fergusons were fixin’ to win too.

The Fergusons moved into the Ichabod House on Redrick Street on Halloween last year. Everything about that house spelled bad luck. They say old man Ichabod was murdered in that house and that his soul still moans around the house and you can hear his ghost creakin’ about most any night of the week. The kids at school said that you got bad luck for two weeks for lookin’ at the Ichabod House for more than seven seconds and, if you did, you had to wear your shoes on the wrong feet the rest of the day to fend off the bad luck. The bigger kids would dare each other to put things—apple cores, leaves, or eggshells—into the mailbox. They say that the next day, all that was left inside was ashes and cobwebs. Jenny and I always avoided the Ichabod House at all costs, if we could. And then the Fergusons moved in.

Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson, the most pinch-faced, strict-lawed, spindly-legged, grey-haired screech owls I ever met. And they were obsessed with winning. They would tell anyone sorry enough to listen that, “That batty old Mr. Babbage won’t stand a jellyfish’s chance in the desert in the fair this year if I can have anything to say about it!” They stayed indoors most of the time, which was fine by me, because whenever they were out in town they snapped at us kids for playin’ marbles and red rover and “dressing like young ruffians”. By their account, you’d believe we were a bunch of pyromaniac circus performers set to bring the whole county to ruin with our foul language and shenanigans.

But this story isn’t about them. Yes, they’re in it. But this is about Jenny and me, and Mr. Babbage, and taking the long way home, and a vegetable of relative largeness.

“Can we please, please, please, take the long way home to see if we can see into Mr. Babbage’s garden? I bet we could find a peephole this time.” Jenny was milking her brown-eyed puppy-dog-face again. Each year the kids in town would do their best to see into Mr. Babbage’s garden to find out his latest plan, but the fence was always too tall or Mr. Babbage would catch you just startin’ to stand up on your best friend’s shoulders.

“Seriously. That face only works on Dad, and you know it,” I said, brushing my hair out of my eyes.

“Pretty, pretty please with a mountain of cherries on top. Come on, Sam. Just this once…”

I pretended to think it over. “Well, I don’t know. It’s getting’ pretty dark. And Mom’ll be waitin’ for us.”

Jenny kept her act up. She knew that I wanted to go too. “Oh, all right,” I finally caved, “but just this once!”

We set out down Redrick Street, the October leaves crunching across our path. I knew we were passing the Ichabod House, so I picked up my pace staring pointedly at the ground.  “Look!” Jenny said pointing and tugging on my arm.

“Jenny! Are you crazy! Stop looking! Do you want bad luck for the rest of the year?”

“No. Something’s moving back behind the Ichabod House!”

I tugged the sleeve of her green jacket, forging ahead. “Come on. It’s just the dusk playing tricks on your eyes. Stop looking. You’ll ruin the rest of the month!”

“Sam.” She stopped walking altogether. “Look.”

I stole one glance at the house. And then I was full-on staring. Mouth open. Tonsils showing. Staring.

In the ghostly light of the half-risen harvest moon I could see the silhouettes of the Fergusons, thin and bony, rolling the most enormous, most gigantic, most hugo-ginormous onion around the back of the house.

Jenny and I looked at each other, looked back at the silhouettes, then back at each other. “What do we do, Sam?” I was still processing what I had just seen, not quite believing it when Jenny whispered, “Do you think that was Mr. Babbage’s onion?”

“No. It was an onion from the moon.”

“Really?”

“Of course it was Mr. Babbage’s! Who else do you know that grows vegetables bigger than livestock?”

“Oh.” Jenny said in a quiet voice, slipping her hands into her pockets. “The Fergusons keep saying they are going to win this year. Maybe they grew it?”

“Jenny. Look at their yard. Do you see anything resembling a live plant?”

“No.”

“They are not the kind of people who grow things. Anyone could tell you that.”

Jenny looked at me, worry in her eyes. “What should we do then?”

“We have to tell Mr. Babbage. He will know what to do. Come on.” I grabbed her hand as we hurried down to the other end of Redrick Street and Mr. Babbage’s house. The moon was nearly all the way up over the edge by the time we reached Mr. Babbage’s house. It was hidden from the street by a huge mess of plants which stretched up to the sky… We fought our way through the jungle of his front yard and knocked. Mr. Babbage opened the door. He was a small, mousy old man who smelled like leaves and walked with a light hobble. “Come in! Come in! It’s getting too late and too cold for sprouts such as yourselves to be out on the streets!” We entered, following Mr. Babbage down a creaky, wood-floored hall to a small room with a crackling fire, worn rug and a mushy couch. “Sit down! Sit down!” He said, settling himself into a rocker by the hearth. “So what brings you two here? Tell Mr. Babbage! He doesn’t bite. He doesn’t even have”—here he spit them out on to his hand—“real teef.”

“Oh!” I said. He slurped his dentures back in, pretending not to hear. I continued. “I hate to be the one to tell you this, and you might not believe me, but I just saw a giant onion rolled back behind the Ichabod House.”

“Ah.” said Mr. Babbage in one short syllable, not upset, surprised, or angry.

“Ah?” said Jenny.

“Yes. Ah.” said Mr. Babbage looking into the fire.

“It was your onion, wasn’t it? The Fergusons. I saw…” Mr. Babbage held up one hand.

“Thank you for visiting me, young Sam and Jenny. Would you like some hot chocolate? I always like hot chocolate in October, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I said, a bit confused. “But Mr. Babbage, the Freesaw County Fair is in two weeks! What will you do?”

“What do you mean what will I do? I will go to the fair as usual. Is there something the matter with that?”

“No.”

“Good. Now which one of you sprouts wants some hot chocolate?”

Mr. Babbage walked us home that night under the light of the harvest moon. He told our parents that we had been helping him and he was sorry that we were late for supper. Jenny and I didn’t argue or say otherwise, so we got off the hook. Still, we wondered night and day and lunchtime too about Mr. Babbage, the giant onion at the Ichabod House, and the Freesaw County Fair.

Before we knew it, the day of the fair had come and we were all gathered in a big tent. Nearly the whole town was crammed into that tent. There was a buzz going around about the Ferguson’s entry. They wheeled it in on a cart with a blanket covering it. Some said it was a giant turnip. Others thought it was another pumpkin. One particularly blind old lady was certain that it was an asparagus. “Edna, it can’t be an asparagus. No asparagus was ever shaped like a ball like that.”

“It’s an asparagus. I never smelled a smell I hate so much as that asparagus smell. It brings back terrible memories of my childhood.”

“But you had no childhood.”

“Ah well, yes. You got me there, Helen.”

The announcer was in front of the crowd now. The Fergusons wheeled their screechy cart into the center of the tent. “Next we have the Fergusons!” the announcer cried, “with their entry: The Giant Onion!” In one swift movement, Mr. Ferguson grasped the blanket in one bony hand and unveiled the mega-onion and the crowd cheered. The Fergusons wheeled the monster onion away and the announcer was shouting over the crowd. “And last, but certainly not least, last year’s champion: Mr. Babbage!” The applause was loud, but died quickly as Mr. Babbage hobbled on stage with a covered silver platter. “Mr. Babbage has submitted for you this year, the world’s largest Brussels Sprout!” He lifted the lid. The applause was uncertain and unenthusiastic. Turns out I’m not the only one who avoids that specific vegetable.

“Arg!” The old lady called Edna cried. “The asparagus! It’s nauseating.”

“It’s a Brussels Sprout. Not an asparagus! How deaf are you Edna?”

“Ninety-seven. Thanks for asking. But oh, that stench! I may die here and now!”

The announcer was talking again. “Our judges will have their results in a few moments.”

And then the buzz was back. I looked over at Jenny. She had one eyebrow raised, not quite sure how to respond. “Do you think Mr. Babbage has a chance?” I asked, not wanting to get my hopes up.

“Probably not. Did you see how puny that thing was compared to the onion?”

“I just don’t think it’s fair. How come the Ferguson’s get to win, when they stole that onion from Mr. Babbage!”

“We don’t have any proof, though.”

“Is there anything we can do?”

“I don’t know.” Jenny said shaking her head. “I don’t know.”

Just as quickly as he disappeared, the announcer was back. “Results! Results! I have the results!” he called over the crowed. There was a hush. “In third place we have… Mrs. Edna Green with her giant asparagus!” The old lady wobbled out with her cane to accept her ribbon. After a polite applause, she to her place.

“I told you I was sick of that smell. It’s been growing for five years now, and I don’t think I could

stand it much more. And you thought I was crazy!”

“I’m sorry Edna! I didn’t realize you actually brought an asparagus. Congratulations!”

“Yes. It is really too bad I had beans for dinner, but ah well. The past is past, eh Helen?”

“And in Second Place we have…” The crowd stood silent. “Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson!” The crowd couldn’t believe it. Murmurs spread. It wasn’t right. But how? Was there a mistake? I looked and Jenny and she looked at me and we both laughed not sure what to do. “Which means that our first place winner at this year’s Freesaw County Fair is Mr. Babbage!” The crowd cheered, unsure whether they had been cheated or seen a miracle. The winners lined up with their vegetables and ribbons while the man from the newspaper snapped a bright picture. The Fergusons looked especially uncomfortable. And Mr. Babbage just stood there, smiling into the camera.

After everyone had moved on to see the other exhibits at the fair, Jenny and I approached Mr. Babbage.

“How did you do it? How did you win?” I asked Mr. Babbage as he was packing up his cart to head home.

“Sprouts! I wondered when I might see you again.”

“But how?” Jenny asked.

“It’s all in knowing the rules,” he explained. “The competition is judged relatively; how large is your vegetable in relation the second largest specimen produced that year. The onion the Ferguson’s turned in was only twice as big as my usual onion.one of which I kindly donated to the judges for reference. However, the cabbage I entered was twenty times bigger than the largest Brussels sprout they could find.”

“It was a cabbage? Not a Brussels sprout?”

“It’s all a matter of perspective, you know. A Brussels sprout and a cabbage are really the same thing. And when you have to deal with unscrupulous people, well, what’s the difference anyway?”

“Nothing, I suppose.”

“No. Everything. The difference is everything and don’t you forget it!” And Mr. Babbage finished packing up his cart and rode off into the autumn sun. “Life is fairer than you think—it’s all a matter of relativity.”

And, in a way, I believe that Mr. Babbage was right. Life is fairer than you think. It just takes a bit of perspective to see it that way.

 

-M.M.

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Christmas Light

I generally write in Third Person omniscient. To challenge myself (as dirrected by the Weekly Writing Challenge) I chose a new point of view. One I have never written in, and only seen published once. First Person Omniscient. I hope you enjoy this short holiday story.

Christmas Light

 I find myself on the outside of things too often. I can’t help it, you know­­—it’s in my nature. But one day I decided that I should challenge myself. Try getting inside for a change.

I saw the train far below, whizzing along on its shiny steel tracks. A perfect target. There was just enough smoke to make it difficult for me to get through to the train, but not too much to obscure my progress. It was decided; the challenge to get inside of the train.

I shot out of the sky, dodging smoke, until I was at eye level with the window. I had no trouble keeping up with the train, although swerving to avoid low-hanging snow-covered branches interfered with my concentration. Beyond the rattling pane of glass sat a man in a grey trench coat with his head bowed. The lines of his mouth were tightly folded shut, holding in whatever emotion was trying to break free.

He didn’t notice me. Humans never do. They take me for granted, but that’s fine. They notice me when it matters.

I reached out one finger toward his hand, hoping to console him. Then I noticed an envelope, peering out of the pocket of the leather bag he had stowed beside his feet. An envelope inside of a bag inside of a train. A double challenge.

I pulled hard, pushing back the darkness in agonizing slowness. Each inch stretched me thinner and thinner, until I gently brushed the edge of the envelope.  Please notice me, I prayed, or at least notice this envelope.

As if the man had heard my plea, he reached one tired hand down into the bag. “What’s this?” He pried the envelope effortlessly from me and slipped one finger under the flap. He gently removed a piece of paper and began scanning the lines scrawled across the page. I leaned in closer, illuminating the words.

Dear Harold,

Though we are apart this Christmas, I know that you are doing what is best for our family. The children and I wanted to find a way to show you our love this year. Little Samuel came up with the idea.

Light touches the outside of everything. The trees, buildings, and even people. Even you and me. So, in a way we are connected by light. As you work in the candle factory this Christmas, I want you to think of how much we love you every time you see light. The light of the sun, the light from the candles, the light from the stars, and the light from our hearts. Let the light dwell inside and outside of you and let our love do the same. We love you.

With hearts full of light,

Your Loving Family

P.S. Merry Christmas!

The man set the letter down in his lap and a tear slid down his cheek. The lines of his mouth softened into a gentle smile. “Thank you,” he mouthed to the air. “I love you too.”

I was overcome in the moment. Forgetting myself, I burst into the room getting in the man’s eyes causing him to squint. But he didn’t turn away. He closed his eyes and smiled, drinking in my warmth. I felt him relax for the first time and I practically smiled myself.

I will never forget that day on the train. The day I truly got inside—inside of the heart.

-M.M.

I Wish I Were

Weekly Post Challenge: I Wish I Were

I’d always heard of people spacing important dates- birthdays, anneversaries, and even President’s day- but I’d never considered forgetting something so fundamental as today. I suppose it all began when I decided what to wear today.

In the spirit of spontinaety, I reached into my closet, fishing around for a surprise t-shirt. My hand closed around some soft cotten folds, and I withdrew a grey “A Charlie Brown Christmas!” shirt from the depths of the closet. “Why not?” I thought. “What could possibly go wrong?” I hadn’t worn the thing in about a year, and it was sure to get noticed by my friends. I slipped it over my head and floated to the kitchen for a hearty bowl of Cheerio’s.

When I got to school my friend, Gary, a football guru, was sporting an Angry Birds t-shirt and a matching red cape. “Under-achieving as usual, Joseph?” Gary said, elbowing me. I thought nothing of the jab, though I should have noticed at that point.

Clueless as ever I floated into first period. “Hey J!” called Samantha as soon as I crossed the threshhold of my physics class. “Forget something today?” I glanced at the board. “Pumpkin Chunkin’ Lab today!” was scrawled across the whiteboard in the usual orange expo marker.

I actually hadn’t forgotten the lab. I sat down at my desk and as Mr. Victor walked by.

“Nice costume, Joseph!” he said, clapping me on the back. “I love your premature enthusiasm.”

It took a couple seconds to sink in, but it did.

Seeing my blank face, Samantha said, “What? You didn’t forget Halloween did you?”

I wish I hadn’t. I felt my face turn Angry-Bird-red.

I wish I were wearing a real costume today, instead of a Christmas t-shirt.

 

-M.M.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/weekly-writing-challenge-i-wish-i-were/

The Library d’Seave

The Library d’Seave

                Molly and Eric looked both ways before crossing the deserted street. Before them the Library d’Seave stood, stately and stoic, its greying stone pillars supporting its massive slab of a roof. They dashed up the steps, flung open the doors, and rushed inside nearly toppling a stack of dusty volumes. A small, old lady with huge watery eyes and golden-rimmed glasses peered around the tower of books. Molly and Eric paused, blinking in the musty dimness as the door shut with a soft swoosh behind them.

“Welcome to the Library d’Seave,” said the old lady, slowly and deliberately. “Can I help you?”

Molly grabbed Eric’s arm, skirting around the old woman’s stack. “No, um, we’ll be fine. C’mon Eric.”

“If you need anything, I can help.”

Eric managed a short, “Thanks,” as the two kids quickly backed away. They darted down a dingy isle of books and rounded a corner, trying to distance themselves from the old woman.

“This place gives me the creeps,” Eric whispered to Molly.

“Yeah, let’s find that story as quickly as possible. What was it called?”

Eric pulled a crumpled slip of paper out of his jean pocket. “Mrs. Readings said it was called “The Purloined Letter” by some guy named ‘Poe’.”

“Let’s find it and get out of here. I need to get home soon. It’s getting dark outside.” Eric shoved the slip back in his pocket and looked up. Molly’s blonde braid was already bobbing away down another row of books.

“Hey! Wait up!” he called, trying to keep his voice down.

The silence pressed in as the duo wound here and there scanning shelves and stacks of books, new and old, with only the occasional squeak of their sneakers on the dark tile to keep them company. After a few minutes of frantic scanning, Eric broke the silence. “Shouldn’t we try to figure out how these books are organized? That might speed this process up a bit.”

“I was just thinking that,” sighed Molly, “but look- the books aren’t in order by author.” She ran her finger along one row of dusty books and began listing the authors’ names. “Connell, London, Conan, Lee, Goldman- these names are definitely not in alphabetical order.”

“Are they arranged alphabetically by title?”

“Only if The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn comes after Falling Up and before The Witches.”     Eric tried again. “How about the subject?”

Molly gave Eric a half-incredulous side glance. “Do you really think Frankenstein would be next to The Cat in the Hat and The Fellowship of the Ring?”

“Well then, how are they arranged? By color? By length? By height? This makes no sense. Maybe we should go back to that weird lady and ask.”

“No!” whispered Molly emphatically, “Mrs. Readings said we needed to do our own work.”

“I don’t think she was talking about finding our homework when she said that.”

“C’mon Molly. Please.”

“Let’s keep looking for a few more minutes. It has to be in here somewhere.”

Twelve minutes passed. Faintly, the town clock tolled the hour.  Molly finally gave up. “Ok. Let’s find that creepy lady.”

“Which way?” Eric looked around, panic slowly rising in his chest.

“I thought you were. . .” Molly rubber her palms together. “This is not good. Not good at all. Let’s stop and think. How did we get here? That way right? Or was it down that row?”

“Looking for something?” Molly and Eric nearly jumped out of their sneakers. The tiny old lady appeared, like an unwelcome ghost, from around yet another stack of books.

Molly gulped and Eric took a deep breath. “We were, um, looking for  this story.” He jammed his hand into his pocket and held out the crumpled sheet.

The woman adjusted her spectacles and held the paper close to her nose. “Ahhh. Poe. Yes, yes. That is a good one. Mrs. Reading sent you? She was a favorite visitor of mine a few years back.” On tip-toe, the woman reached and snagged the top book from a nearby shelf. “This is what you are looking for, yes?” She held the unassuming black book out to Molly.

“But this says The Book Thief. This can’t be the right-” The old woman raised her hand in silence.

“Do not judge by the outward appearance of the thing, for diamonds may be taken for pebbles if coated in mud.”

Molly flipped it open and to her astonishment, printed in bold letters along the top of the first page were the words, “The Purloined Letter by E. A. Poe”.

Then Eric stammered, “But how did-, but it says-” He trailed off as the old woman again raised her hand. “Long ago, I switched the covers of all the books in the library to introduce people to new literature they would never have discovered on their own. I always intended to switch them back, but you know,” she waved her hand in the air, “It was too much fun. Now I am the only one who knows where the stories actually are.”

Eric and Molly didn’t know what to think. Clearly, the old woman was a loony. Molly spoke next, “Thanks, Ms. um,” Molly faltered.

“Veda” The old woman finished for her. “Follow me, and I’ll get that book checked out for you.”

Soon enough, Molly and Eric were hurrying back down the steps of the Library d’Seave, heading home through the ever deepening dusk.

-M.M.

*Photo courtesy of http://aidsource.ning.com/page/resource-library

Blame it on the Cats

In reading the first quarter of Pride and Prejudice this week, I came across a myriad of rich words. Some are old friends long forgotten, others are new friends not to be discarded. I have attempted to properly incorporate a majority of the following words into a mini story, which can found towards the bottom of this post. How many of these words do you know off the top of your head?

caprice-     a sudden, unpredictable change, as of one’s mind or the weather

ostentation-     pretentious or conspicuous show, as of wealth or importance; display                          intended to impress others

candor-     the state or quality of being frank, open, and sincere in speech or   expression

supercilious-     haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, as a person or a facial expression

piqued-     to affect with sharp irritation and resentment, especially some wound to pride

insipidity-     without distinctive, interesting, or stimulating qualities; vapid

effusion-     the act or effusing or pouring forth

tete-a-tete-     a private conversation or interview, usually between two people

indolent-     having or showing a disposition to avoid exertion; slothful

witticism-     a witty remark or sentence

piquet-     a card game played by two persons with a pack of 32 cards, the cards from deuces to sixes being excluded.

panegyric-     a lofty oration or writing in praise of a person or thing; eulogy

celerity-     swiftness; speed

expostulation-     remonstrance; earnest and kind protest

alacrity-     cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness

approbation-     approval; commendation

propitious-     presenting favorable conditions; favorable

laconic-     using few words; expressing much in few words; concise

filial-     of, pertaining to, or befitting a son or daughter

obsequiousness-     characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference; fawning

 

Blame it on the Cats

                 Mrs. Harmon was just dusting off an old grandfather clock in the hall which read one o’clock when she heard a rap on the front door.  Mrs. Calder, a life-long friend of Mrs. Harmon’s, had arrived on the doorstep of number 8, Ashwood Park, dressed in a multicolored, light cotton dresses. Though prone to occasional effusions of thought, Mrs. Calder was generally an amiable woman whose general insipidity allowed her to fade into the humdrum background of life. At least that was what most people who knew her thought. Not Mrs. Harmon. Mrs. Harmon knew that Mrs. Calder secretly led a very interesting life.

                Mrs. Harmon invited Mrs. Calder inside and led her to the backyard where a table with a yellow, striped umbrella was set for four. Would she like some lemonade? Of course she would- lemonade was a favorite. Why must she even think of asking? How was her health? Same as ever- healthy and uneventful. The tete-a-tete continued until Mrs. Harmon nearly choked on her glass of lemonade.

“You can’t be serious.”

“Oh! but I am,” replied Mrs. Calder knowingly, taking a slow sip from her glass, “and it’s all my fault.”

“Mr. Bronston! In the hospital of all places! By your actions! I always considered him with general approbation. He seemed such a fine, healthy salesman. What can have happened?”

“That is precisely what I hoped you would ask.” Mrs. Calder’s chair creaked as she leaned back and began her story.

“As you know well, I have had the propitious privilege of taking care of my mother’s seven cats this past week. She has a filial bond with them, and the cats respond with alacrity to any whim of my mother’s. However, I have observed that they have no such love of me. They are full of caprice. They stalk my home indolently; I have never observed a more supercilious display of ostentation in my life. They lounge wherever they choose- on the sofa, on the table, in the closet- and glare at me as I walk by.”

“After breakfast today, I decided to try to make amends with the little scoundrels. I procured seven leashes, left by my mother for the sole purpose of walking the cats, a notion I found utterly ridiculous. I told my mother so when she gave them to me, but she started in on one of her panegyric lectures, extolling the health benefits of ‘cat-walking’.”

Here, Mrs. Harmon interjected. “That is ridiculous! I’ve heard of walking a dog, but walking a cat! The thought! Let alone seven of them!”

“Yes, I couldn’t agree more.” Mrs. Calder adjusted herself in the chair. “The leashes immediately piqued the cats’ interests. Before long, all seven of them were gathered around my legs, purring and rubbing against my ankles with obsequiousness. I harnessed each one, and as soon as I opened the front door, the cats bounded outside with such celerity that I nearly lost my grip. We zipped out onto Sheffield Street and rounded the corner onto Carrol Road.”

Mrs. Calder paused, squinting in the afternoon sun. “Would you be a darling and adjust the umbrella for me? Thank you, Helen.”

As Mrs. Harmon stood to adjust the umbrella Mrs. Calder continued. “The cats seemed to know exactly where they wanted to go. They made a bee-line for several ragged heaps of old blue carpet on the curb. The cats scratched and clawed and stretched and meowed all over the heap. I chided them with gentle expostulation, but the cats were obliviously blissful by that point. Since the carpets were clearly trash, I didn’t mind much.”

“Once the cats were done basking in the glory of those ratty carpets- a good fifteen minutes mind you- the cats seemed completely satisfied to follow me home, and they have been most kind to me ever since. As I locked the front door of my house I heard the distant siren of an ambulance, but thought nothing of it at the time.”

“And…” prompted Mrs. Harmon.

“And it was all my fault!” Mrs. Calder looked sheepish. “It turns out that Mr. Bronston is a very successful carpet salesman who happens to be deathly allergic to cats.”

Mrs. Harmon shook her head. “Poor Mr. Bronston. Will he be well soon?

“Of course he will. I called the hospital and they assured me that he is going to be fine and probably home, safe and sound, in an hour or two.”

“Are you going to tell him what happened?”

Mrs. Calder shrugged and answered with a final witicism. “I do not intend to, but if he does ask, well … I’ll blame it on the cats.”

 

-M.M.

 

*Photo courtesy of the WordPress Blog “Eco-Mentalism”

The Girl at the Window

There stands the girl: strong, brave, and thoughtful. She gazes out the window taking it all in- the sunset, the warmth, the forest, the shadows- the multitude of tiny details which, for snatches of seconds, steal away her attention. A light breeze rustles across her dress and toys with loose strands of her hair. What she wants more than anything is to be happy. This is her beginning. But first, she must make a choice.

Perhaps she should continue to stay within the bounds she knows: the wood, the stone, the comfort, and peace of home. She could raise a happy family here. But if she does choose to stay, she might grow old in the rocking chair by the fire and never experience the adventure of living outside the lines. Maybe the outside world is a beautiful place where flowers bloom and the air is fresh and your worries leave you behind. Maybe there is peace out there too.

Perhaps there is also sadness outside, maybe even tragedy. Are the words they speak out there as kind as the words of home? Is there a way to be happy outside the weathered door? Maybe it is impossible to find joy in the wide world.

But no, the girl shakes her head, that cannot be so. How can the sunset be so radiant if happiness is unavailable out in the wild world? How do the animals chirp and cheep so cheerfully? Maybe there is hope in the world.

Perhaps there are others out there, outside the wooden window frame. Maybe they want to drag others into sadness and ruin. Maybe they want to help and serve others. Maybe they need to be with someone else because they feel lonely. Maybe the girl can make a difference in the world.

So what should she do? She can stay and hope that someone finds her, or she can leave and hope that she finds someone. Or maybe while she is out, someone will come looking for her and she will miss them and, thereby, the adventure and happiness of a lifetime. Regardless, the choice looms ever nearer.

The girl watches the sun set, slowly sinking into the horizon. There is a world out there. She turns away from the window and draws the violet velvet curtains closed. There is peace in here too. Then the girl has a realization. She smiles and looks up toward the sky. Whatever she chooses, she will be happy, she decides, because only she can determine her happiness. And with peace in her mind, the girl, escaped to her dreams.

 

-M.M.

 

Smiles in the Sky

The name of this site is taken from a poem that I wrote. I felt that this poem was very emotional and powerful. I like to think of the people who read this as my smiles in the sky. I cannot see the smile on your face but I can feel your happiness, just like the woman in this story. Let this be a reminder to smile a little and share some sunshine. (more…)