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By the Light
“The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window,” I whisper. I begin my story as the tape recorder spins the vinyl slowly from one side of the deck to the other. My dictation has been perfected over the years. My ritual is the same. The archaic device’s hum fills the silence in the car. I place the recorder in the passenger seat, its microphone facing towards me.
Tough as nails and as quick witted as I’ve ever known is the man I call my father. My dad has worked hard his whole life. At eighty two years old, he still works. Not out of necessity but out of virtue. We’ve had this discussion many times. He reminds me, ‘If you ever just sit around all day, you’ll be dead in a year.’ And I believe him. He can out work me. Sedentary life is no life at all. Not really.
June, July and August – these summer months bring the heat and the fun. The sunshine gifts longer days, temperatures rise as the sun hangs high in the sky. Opportunities to go fishing and while away the late afternoon hours. Set a cane pole and watch fireflies dance at twilight. Enjoy an ice-cold beer to quench your thirst after you mow the lawn. Enjoy another cold beer as you watch your favorite Boys of Summer baseball game. Go Braves! It’s the season for floating in swimming pools, river boat riding, and kayaking in the creek. Any water activity offers an ideal destination to beat the heat. The days when the hickory aroma of roasting meat off the neighbor’s grill makes your mouth water.
Enter the Dragon
There weren’t always dragons in the valley. Once the war began all kinds of creatures sought refuge in the quiet hamlet of Moepe. First came the trolls. Displaced from their lands, the trolls fled north on foot in legions, leaving gigantic holes in the ground as they trampled their way to safety. Wizards and fairies came next. The wizards were the most startling appearances to the mortal villagers. They had the power to concoct spells. Their magic allowed them to transport to places with nothing more than a brisk flair of their hand, appearing out of thin air in purple poofs of smoke. The shade of the smoke varied. The deeper color smoke meant the more powerful the wizard. The fairies, fragile creatures, preferred to travel in the cover of darkness. These small beings weren’t an inconvenience for the villagers. Many fairies could fit into the tavern unnoticed.
It’s been almost ten years since I heard your voice, longer than that since I saw your smile. A real smile, like the kind when we’d stumble upon a ‘real find’ at a yard sale, your favorite store. I still go 'junkin' but not as often. It’s just not the same anymore, not without you. Whenever someone compliments my teak coffee table, yeah, it’s still in my living room, I share our story how you found it at an estate sale buried in a pile of old clothes- and bargained for it for a measly ten dollars. What a deal. A memory.
April 11, 1912 Queenstown, Ireland – the last port of call for Titanic’s maiden voyage “Mallory O’Conner! Climb out of that tree right now before you break your wee neck!” Siobhan O’Conner’s red hair shimmered in the morning sunshine as she reprimanded her youngest child. Hands squared on her hips, her tattered apron flapping in the cool breeze, the mother’s breath clung to her lungs as she watched her rebel daughter descend the oak branches with fearless abandon. Nine children she had labored, each a gift from God and each more daring than the prior. It was as though common sense evaporated with each child. Siobhan folded her hands in front of her, thankful at least the children obeyed. If they weren’t so bent on rule breaking. That trait they inherited from their father.
WHERE THE SUNFLOWERS GROW
March 9, 2022 excerpt from Social Media post. Names intentionally withheld for safety concerns. “We are still here, the town is mostly under the control of the Russians. We have no gas, electricity or water utilities. The mobile internet is very weak and only works for a few minutes at random times during the day, but glad we have a connection.
The Curse of The Keep
It's been a millennium since that night, the first time I died. Perched high in the turret I had fair warning. A storm was approaching, its thunderclouds loomed in the distant sky. As it neared, the black cloud ate the moonlight as its mass dominated the horizon. The rain began, at first a drizzle, then fell in haphazard drops. In mere seconds the rainfall pooled on the roof, then poured down the walls of the castle to the parched earth. This past summer had been miserable, the heat, the humidity. The crumbling dirt had cracked under my boots, and sweat fell from my brow as I commanded the soldiers on the training fields of Ecatur, known as the keep by the river. That river had provided for my people. Long, hot summer days depleted our resources and did not ease the fear of the ill-tempered villagers.
My Dog Skip
On any given day Paulita Cofever felt most people were worth more dead than alive. As a second-generation bounty hunter, this philosophy did not keep the cupboard stocked with her favorite Earl Grey tea. It was the constant deceit, the betrayal of humanity that she was commissioned to hunt that molded this belief. This job used to be easy - finding the missed court date, child support in arrears kind of people. Somewhere along the way the crimes escalated, the threat increased, but the pay stayed the same. If there was any pay. So often the hours of surveillance and stale truck stop coffee was all she got. Forty years in the people hunting business and all she had to show for decades of commitment were drooping eyelids and for the most part, ignored hypertension.