Dinner Plans: Short Story by Candice Coates

Dinner Plans

She sat perched on the edge of the table, the tight fold of her interwoven fingers expressed the nervousness that had been concealed in the even tone of her voice and the placid look on her face. Turning fully towards her, he paid closer attention to what she was saying. 

For a brief second he hoped he’d heard her incorrectly, but gazing into her eyes he knew he hadn’t been mistaken. “Hannah, you didn’t.” He, unlike Hannah, didn’t try to hide his nerves, they flashed in the pale grey of his eyes and radiated clear to the tip of the butcher knife in his hand.

“Dad, the knife. The knife!” Hannah hoped off the table and pried it from his hands placing the parsley coated blade on the chopping block. Tanner wondered by her sudden stillness if she felt as if she were on the chopping block. He was certain she did. He had asked her to be at her best tonight, nagged really, and had been doing so for weeks.

It had been eight years since Claire, Hannah’s adoptive mother, died. He and  Claire had only been married for a little over three years. They’d dated for two. When he’d first met Claire he hadn’t thought he was ready to be a father, but Hannah warmed to him so quickly and got into his pores like the best of anointing oils. He loved the girl on sight as if she were his own flesh and blood.

Now she was barely twenty and he felt as if she were his whole life, his precious little girl…his precious little girl who’d gone against his wishes and had been secretly meeting with her birth mother.

He rubbed his suddenly damp forehead with the back of his hand. His gut felt as if it were filled with gravel. He was already extremely nervous about introducing Hannah to the new woman in his life. He needed Hannah to like her. He’d already purchased an engagement ring even in the face of awkwardness.

Hannah had made it clear she had no desire for a new mother and had not been a fan of his dating someone. He suddenly wondered if her going against his wishes and finding her birth mother was a simple act of rebellion. He also wondered if his hopefully soon-to-be financee was having similar problems of her own.

She had mentioned that she had been estranged from her daughter for years but they were making headway into a healthy relationship. She too had wondered how her daughter would react to him.

“I can’t believe you did this, Hannah.” Tanner whispered.

“Dad, why is it such a horrible thing that I want to know my own mother?”

“Your birth mother.” He corrected, suddenly feeling as if he needed to defend Claire’s right-hood to the title ‘Mom’. Hannah rolled her eyes. He touched her shoulder. “Honey, I am not trying to make this a difficult thing for you, I am just worried is all. She may not be good for you.”

“Us, you mean. You’re afraid that she will wreck your plans for a new family, aren’t you?”

He couldn’t resist frowning. “And I suppose that is why you not only contacted her, but then invited her to dinner tonight when you know how important today is for me, for us.” He wiped his brow again. He was already nervous, now he was just petrified.

What if the strange woman showed up at the door, right when his new love did? “Lord help me. Hannah, I love her. And I want you to at least give her a chance. I just want things to go smoothly tonight and if she shows up-”

Hannah took a bite of parsley. “It doesn’t matter anyway Dad. I invited her and she said she couldn’t make it, said she had a date or something.”

“Well, that is a relief that that person won’t be coming,” Why had he suddenly turned so territorial, defensive? He’d seen this behavior in characters in movies, but never thought it would happen to him; jealous of his daughter’s birth mother.

Hannah scowled. “Her name is–”

Ding dong! The front door rang, bringing the conversation to a halt. Again, Hannah rolled her eyes. It was going to be a long night.

“Going to get it, Dad? Wouldn’t want to keep your beloved waiting.” Hannah’s tone was laced with sarcasm and void of the former nervousness that had ruled her demeanor just moments ago.

He gave her a warning gaze before pulling the door open. Right then Hannah continued her previous statement, her tone shifting to shock that laced over Tanner’s joy right as his beloved passed the threshold and entered the apartment. “Her name is…Beatrix?”

Hannah’s face bloomed with a smile as she rushed forward and took hold of her birth-mother’s hands, jerking Beatrix’s delighted gaze away from Michael’s. “I thought you said you couldn’t make it tonight! I thought…you said you had,” Hannah’s gaze shifted between the ashen expression on Beatrix’s face to the even more stricken look on her Dad’s. “…a date…”


I hope you enjoyed what came of this story and the twist at the end. I wish I could have sharpened it up a bit more, but alas we do have a time restraint. I do however wish Dad, Hannah and Beatrix the best of joy and a happy future 🙂 These are my results from MONDAY’S MUSE WRITING PROMPT APRIL 30, 2018.

*Revised post from October 22, 2015.

~Dream. Image. Believe. Do. CONQUER!


There Was Room: A Short Story

The door whispered on its hinges as her fingers gently pushed it open, her stomach leaping as the light from the window washed over the scene inside the room. 

Tiptoeing as not to disturb the scene, Nyla eased forward. She pressed her eyes closed pushing away the tears that had misted over her vision. Cale, her young landlord, lay across her bed, his eyes racing back and forward behind closed lids, his lips framed with touches of a sandy blond beard, just slightly open.

He was sound asleep with Nyla’s baby boy snuggled against his chest, nestled within Cale’s large hands.

Nyla hadn’t been gone away that long, maybe an hour or two. She had to make the rush to the market before the sun dipped below the horizon. They were fresh out of flour and salt, and Nyla needed that in order to get supper ready.

That was part of her living agreement, she could stay on at Cale’s farm, as long as she kept the house clean, took care of the lighter chores in the morning, and kept hot meals on the table for when he came in from the fields.

It was a more than a generous arrangement for Nyla and baby Asher. No one else was willing to give a home to a woman and her fatherless child in exchange for a few small chores and meals. It was nothing short of a blessing for them even though she could tell it was very hard on Cale.

She had only been in the small town for a few short hours when the local gossip let it slip that Cale was a young widower who had lost his wife and son during childbirth in the winter of the previous year. The way that Cale had looked at her and Asher with such pained eyes made it clear he was making a big sacrifice by not only opening up his home to a stranger but opening up old wounds that had hardly had a chance to heal.

Asher was only three weeks old when they came to live on with Cale. Nyla’s Ma and Pa had put them both out without even looking back, told Nyla she and shamed the family for the last time and had done a fine job of it by her 20th year.

They let her stay at home until she was fit enough to move out, and become nothing more than a bad memory for them to think about every now and again. All of it had made Nyla so miserably sad that she couldn’t help but name her babe Asher; happy and blessed. She was determined that no matter what, she and her boy were going to be happy and blessed.

Looking at him now, chubby six-month-old cheeks flushed with the warmth of sleep, and mouth parted open like Cale’s, made Nyla happy in a way she wasn’t quite sure she had the right to be.

Cale was not hers after all. He had made it clear his heart was not interested in opening, and for the first few months Nyla could do nothing short of agree. Yes, she had determined to be happy with Asher, but that happiness did not involve a man.

Now, she just didn’t know what to think.

That wasn’t completely true. She was thinking, and at that moment the one thing that occupied her mind was the curiosity of how soft Cale’s lips might be, and how they would taste should she still a kiss from them.

Throwing precaution to the wind, reasoning that he would never know even though she was certain she would blush beet red every time she looked at him afterward, Nyla leaned forward and gently kissed his lips.

She would have ended the kiss just as quickly as she had started it had Cale’s hand not gently cupped the back of her head and deepened it sweetly. He calmly let her go, sliding his hand down the inner part of her arm, his emerald green eyes gazing curiously and contentedly up at her.

Nyla touched her lips with her finger’s as Cale laced his fingers with those of her other hand. His smile taking hold of her like nothing else had before. His reception had startled her more than her boldness but the welcome assurance of his warmth only served to drive home a point she hadn’t even realized she was aiming for. There was room in her and Asher’s world, room for another to join them in their joy.


Love is obviously back in the air here. But it took five minutes past the 20-minute mark to make its statement. As always, I had a great time writing this. It gave me warm fuzzies! I did edit and add to the last chapter, as the previous ending was kind of abrupt. These are my results for MONDAY’S MUSE WRITING PROMPT APRIL 16, 2018.

*Originally posted July 2nd, 2015.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!


Playing Fair: A Short Story #amwriting #family #story

Truth was, he didn’t want to parent, let alone know how to parent. But staring at her solemn face, eyes ready for seemingly common rejection, he didn’t feel as if he had a choice.

“Are you my dad?” she asked with very little enthusiasm, the ears of her bunny slippers flopping with the same cadence as the grandmother clock on the mantle.

Jared suddenly felt ill. He adjusted the collar of his button up shirt and cleared his throat, his blue eyes, the same as hers, glancing to the window as if that were a way out.

“No,” he croaked. He was stunned at his own tone but she, Lou, Loula Grace, seemed not to notice. He swallowed and tried his answer again. “No, I am not your dad. Dad…Dad, uh, he passed away a few months ago.”

He pressed his eyes closed and forced back the burn of tears. His father’s death was still so raw, the pain of it unexpected although him passing at seventy-four wasn’t. Jared senior took too many risks especially when it came to his health. He constantly indulged and did so with a smile, singing the cliche mantra, ‘you only live once.’

Still, the burn of his passing came when his final will and testament was read. Jared junior, thirty-four, successful in his own right, and heir to his father’s company was not an only child. More shockingly, his father had amended his will.

And so he sat, in the living room of a foster-mother who’d taken in Lou, his unclaimed little sister. He’d been told she was only six, her mother forty. She had been out of the picture since Lou was two.

That made things easier Jared supposed. There was no one to fight him for custody, no one to claim the child in hopes of getting their hands on her trust fund, preventing Jared from taking hold of his own.

If he wanted that, he had to take responsibility where his father had failed. It was a cruel way for his father to say goodbye. Dad played, he played hard, but he never played fair.

Jared choked again, coughed once more. Lou’s dark brow slowly rose. She clearly wasn’t impressed. She was definitely their father’s daughter. She hadn’t known Jared for more than fifteen minutes and already she had judged him as inept. At least he wasn’t after what was hers.

No, he only wanted what was his and in order to get that he had to do what their dad had failed to do and that was to raise her as the Carter she was.

“I’m your brother,” he managed to push out. Lou looked skeptical.

“You’re too old to be my brother.” She finally said after three long minutes that felt more like hours as she took stock of him once again.

“Yeah, well, maybe somebody should have told Dad that,” he thought he said it in a low whisper. Lou’s response proved otherwise.

“I thought you said he died.”

Jared only smiled before standing. If he sat any longer he was going to bolt. Staring down at her gave him more confidence…he prayed he looked confident. “We’ll be alright,” he said. “We’ll make things work without him though.”

Finally, a show of emotion played on Lou’s face. The expression wasn’t promising. She suddenly looked horrified.

“You’re adopting me,” her face was pale.

Jared glanced out the window and then back again. “That’s the plan. We’ll do alright. We-we’re family. We will make this work.” He offered her his hand.

Lou glanced at it and then scooted off the sofa, pulling her dog down from with her, avoiding Jared’s eyes altogether. “If you say so. You don’t look like you know very much about little girls, or dogs.” She walked into the back of the house.

Jared followed her, hating that she was right, but praying that they would somehow be proved wrong. Too much depended on it.


*These are my results for Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt July 24th, 2017. 

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER

He Bought the Farm: Flash Fiction Results for Monday’s Muse April 18th 2016


He Bought the Farm

He wasn’t hiding. He wasn’t the type to do so, but he was the kind to slip away to think. He needed to think.

Milo, his four-legged shadow followed him, nestling close by, gazing back at the house as if he too was weighing his options. Blake scratched behind Milo’s warm fuzzy ears earning himself a grateful dog-grin.

“What do you think, buddy? What should we do?” As usual, Milo had no answer. He only licked his chops, gave a contend yawn, before bedding down deeper into the grass.

Blake smiled. Maybe that was Milo’s answer. He was happy right where he was. Truth be told, so was Blake. They’d, Blake his wife Paisley and Milo, had happily moved out to the quite country nearly five years ago.

Happy may have been an overstatement. They not so simply needed a change of pace, a change in their reality.

Past decisions had caught up with Blake leaving an unrelenting stain on Paisley’s career. Her employers had said as much, she was guilty by association. She needed to distance herself from the blight that was darkening the glow of her pristine name.

In other words, she needed to leave her husband or leave the company. Pressure from the top demanded it.

Praise God, Paisley loved Blake more. She’d made a sacrifice for him, one that he would never forget. The woman truly loved him…and he loved her.

Having that knowledge was what kept Blake on his feet. His past, the stain he’d made was nearly a decade old when it had finally come to light. He’d been a changed man since then, but his grandfather…he just couldn’t let up. He wouldn’t forgive. He cursed Blake with ugly words and a cutting dismissal that left room for no misinterpretation.

If it were at all possible, the old man had fired him from the family. It only burned his Grandfather’s hide to find out that Paisley wasn’t the ambitious woman he’d thought she was. The old man loved her as if she were his own flesh and blood.

Leaning on their fledgling, but solid faith, they took what they had and moved upwind of the city stench, leaving Grandpa and the mistakes of yesterday behind.

They bought a farm.

Life had been sweet and silent for the last few years. Mom and Dad visited regularly and Paisley and Blake’s roots grew deeper. Now it seemed it was all for not because Grandpa had bought the farm as well, just not the kind with acreage. His lot accommodated a pine box and a hole in a stone wall fitted with a plaque that would make him out to be a trophy.

The old man had gone to the grave, had settled his accounts, and although Blake had forgiven him the man had not seen fit to do the same for Blake. Worse, he hadn’t seen fit to change his will either.

Those oversights tend to happen when you swear off a person’s name.

Now the city beckoned again with shiny lights, smoggy air and nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in shares and a seat on Grandpa’s company board. Blake was now one of the majority owner’s. The money and future earnings would be his no matter what he decided.

Leaning his head back against the tin siding, still staring at the house. He knew what he should do, he knew what Milo wanted and with Paisley’s sudden habit to keep her swollen feet in fresh grass slippers, he knew what she wanted. They weren’t going anywhere.

Grandpa had bought his farm, but Blake had one of his own to tend to.


*Flash Fiction results for Monday’s Muse April 18th 2016. To see the original posting and rules, and to give it a try yourself, do so by following THIS LINK.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Man of Grace: A Short Story #Blogbattle Week 27

Taco Tuesday..Errr, I mean Blog Battle Tuesday! This week's word is "Distance." I have deviated from my recent stream of romance and found myself back in my Genres of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. To read more stories by fellow bloggers click HERE!

Man of Grace

The distance between them had grown into a grizzly chasm, almost too wide to leap across even though he sat just a few feet away from her, his large eyes boring into the back of her head.

“Mog, say what is on your mind.” The words sighed from her lips, laden with exhaustion. Grace didn’t want to have this conversation. She had left the issue sit upon the shelf, collecting dust, hoping and praying that Mog would never take sight of it and try to bring it down. Who was she kidding? Of course Mog would reach for it. Grace knew better. Though small for his kind, Mog was still seven and a half feet tall.

Tension only thickened with her words so much so that Grace almost felt as if Mog had shoved her. Slapping the the sodden dishtowel in her hand against the sink she turned towards him, her son, yet he was skirting a very thin line of calling her his enemy. “Well, speak already! Or go wash for dinner, but don’t sit there and silently accuse me!”

Mog growled but turned his eyes away from Grace’s stern gaze. Although he had crushed many of men’s skulls with just his fingertips alone, could have crushed her to dust, torn their house down with just a few thrust of his fist, he still buckled under the weight of his mother’s gaze whenever it had turned dark, and it was brewing with threatening clouds.

“You used me,” He finally said through his large clenched teeth. He forced his eyes to glare into hers. Even beyond the space between them he could see her pupils pulsing and dilating.

Grace stiffened and the room filled with a scent; fear mingled with something else Mog couldn’t place. Fear was not a good sign. Mog drew up as if ready for a battle even from his seated position. He didn’t know what he would do once he had the truth from her lips, besides what he had learned to do during his warring, and that was sit with a confident air.

“Used you?!” His mother finally choked out the words.

“Yes! I know the truth now, Mo-” He caught himself before he called her “mom.” He would never call her that again. Never.

Tears slipped from Grace’s dark eyes. “And what truth is that, Mog? What do you think you know? Spill it so that I can set you straight.”

“I know that you stole me. Raised me as human. Raised me to war against my own people. You used me! Walter told me everything!”

Walter!?” There was a sudden fierceness to her, one Mog didn’t expect. It was completely defensive, more so protective, of him. He’d seen that look in her eyes before, seen it as a child. The look was given to him then. He may have been three then, but it was as the result of an encounter with someone else.

Grace had grabbed his arms, squeezed them so fiercely as she jerked him with each word. “No!” She’d demanded. “You will not be vicious. You will not be violent. Your name means ‘man of grace’, you will be a man of grace!” The only problem was Mog was not a man. He was nothing of man kind. Walter had told him so. Mog had come to know it long before that.

“Yes!” He answered back, suddenly nervous as if he were his three year old self and not a giant of 27. “He told me where I come from. told me why you kept me and why you raised me as if I were your child.” He growled to open up his throat that suddenly seemed to constrict from emotion. “You planned to use me, to fight against my kind, wipe them from Earth!”

Grace shook her head, her color slipping into paleness. “You are wrong,” She sighed, stepping further back, gripping the counters edge.

Mog pushed forward, unconvinced. “That is why you raised me as you did, tried to hide me, molded me into, into,” He glanced down at his hands, the large palms facing upward. No matter their size, he still was stunted in his growth, yet his physical strength was far more concentrated than fully grown giants.

His kind had grown to fear him more so than the men he had hidden amongst. According to Walter, this had been the plan all along.

“This what?” Grace hissed, staring at him as if she were seeing him for the first time as a monster.

“This man of grace, of Grace! Your weapon, your revenge.” The last words took the breath out of him and in tandem Grace deflated but she would not fall even though her knees threatened to buckle underneath her. Mog stood, pointing an accusing finger at the woman he had known as his mother. “Walter said it was all a plan, he stole our eggs. You kept one, mine. And then you hide me and shaped me to love humanity and think the giants wicked-”

“They are wicked!” Grace shot back. “But Walter is far worse. I should have killed him. I should have killed him!” She seethed.

Mog flinched as if those words were proof of guilt. He’d seen Walter’s scars. Walter’d told him about how she’d attacked him. Said she used a butcher knife and tried to fillet him like a sea bass on a Saturday morning. “He said you tried.”

Grace met his gaze again, all of the ferocity gone leaving an eerie calm in its wake. “I did. Liars are deadly poison. Look what he’s done to you and me.”

“He told me the truth.”

Grace punched her knuckles into the counter until they bled. “He lied! But if you want the truth. I’ll give it to you. Follow me.” Without another word, Grace snatched open the backyard and slid into the darkness of the night, leaving behind tiny drops of blood like a bread crumb trail.


Rats! I ended at 990 words or so, but just shy of 1000. I have another document with another start to Mog and Grace’s story. I know this is vague, but obviously it was too much to try and cram into so few words. I am definitely going to share more, at least for my one sanity, with next week’s word. This story comes from a dream I had a couple of days ago, accept I was Grace attempting to raise a giant’s child that I had stolen. Thanks for reading along. I will post the rest of the story soon!


The Waters of Trickle Down: A Short Story

This story takes place on a planet far from Earth, where citizens of Earth-most of them of the elite class-others just the average joe's of society-secretly boarded ships and left the planet. Several rocks where inhabited by the people of Earth, each with its own terrain, struggles, and beauty. This story takes place on the Planet named "Colonia," or "Colony of the Lunatics" as other space traveler's later nicknamed it, the planet had had such an affect on the new denizens. This is the story of one of the founding mother's granddaughter's.

The Waters of Trickle Down

Baby ran. She ran so hard and so fast that the red dust of the ground spit up behind her with each thrust of her pumping legs. She hated to look back, but she couldn’t help herself. The stark contrast between the clarity before her and the blur behind her was too much not to try and take in.

She dared not stop, not this time. The last time she had she ended up caught in their clutches and dragged back to the house, kicking and screaming.

1427913282s7b31She hated the house! She hated Vine Meadows, where she had lived all of her long life, and she had no intention of doing it again.

Her legs kept pumping.

She hardly rounded the bend and entered the shade of the tree line when her breath caught in her lungs, her chest burning with a aching fire with each inhale and exhale that she took. But she suddenly found herself stopping even though she knew she could end up caught again if she did.

The had threatened to put a ball and chain to her ankle if she ran off again. Baby huffed a scowl laden with pricking tears shaped her eyes. This was just payback as far as she was concerned. She was who she was because one of them had run off.

“Dang kids!” She said. Her voice little more than that of a child of 11. She would have cried full on and took off running again if the words of her grandmother didn’t pop in her head.

They had been doing that quite often lately. She had always loved her grandmother’s singing, even if the songs she sang were nearly 100 years old.

Baby started to sing along, “Slow down, baby you’re going too fast. You got you hands in the air with you feet on the gas. You’re ’bout to wreck your future running from your past. You need to slow down baby...”

Tears washed from her eyes with the words. What future?!

She didn’t want to do this all over again. All she could think to do was run. She couldn’t help it. She was running from her past. She was so confused now.

Had she still been 82 and not 11 again she wouldn’t be running off, running from the flashes of memories she couldn’t place, from a pass she couldn’t half remember because of the water that had just about washed her mind clean, surrounded by a family that treated her like she was a burden.

Well, that much hadn’t changed. They treated her like that when she was her proper age. She felt that. She could remember that, but everything else was just as blurry as the red dirt that clouded the dusty road as she ran upon it.

Blake was at fault for this. Her great grandson was just as squirrely as she had been when she was a child…as she was again. “Ah, Blake.” Baby whispered. He had run off having gotten himself chased by a swarm of biting flies. The pain of their mouths had run him south instead of north, south towards the waters of Trickle Down.

Trickle Down, named literally for their effects. One drop from Trickle down would knock a man back a year or two with youth. A cup of the water would give you a decade back. Baby had been baptized, all because she was trying to keep Blake out of harm. And it had worked, she had the youth and he had though scared, was still 9 like God meant him to be.

But dang it all if Baby was going to live again in that old house with her one grands and great grands trying to raise her up. “Not in this life time!” Baby spit with ire. She was going places this time and there wasn’t anybody to stop her.

She took to the path again, kicking up another dusty cloud.

*  *  *

The rocker’s bowed legs squeaked with a steady cadence as Blake senior sipped from his glass of iced tea. “I swear its too hot for this!” He growled looking out at the dirt road clouded with his grandmother’s dust. “I have the mind to turn Nana over my knee this time.”

“She is too old for a spanking, Blake. She didn’t spank us when we were that age.” Blake’s sister kept knitting, her body language a cue that she had no intention of getting up. Blake scowled.

He sister smiled, “I had to get her last time. Besides, your son is the reason she is a child now. Your problem. Your responsibility.”

Blake huffed and stood up from his chair shouting over the porch railing. “Nana! Get back here, Nana! I mean it!” He finally ran after her.

*Lyrics by India Arie


I hope you enjoyed Baby/Nana’s tale, or at least the start of it. If nothing else, I hope it made you curious. The song that she sings in the story is called “Slow Down” by India Arie. If you are not familiar with her or the song, here it is below, for your listening enjoyment. 


It Kept Them Together: A Free Flow Write

“I didn’t hit him, Mom! I swear!”

Eliza felt her dark brown eyes roll sharply up in her head of their own volition just as an exhausted sigh brushed past her lips. Garret and Troy were only six. “They are only six,” She even let the words, now made a mantra come forth, massaging her back into a place of calm…at least mostly.

Troy, whose face was just as twisted in frustration as the crumpled clothing of Garret’s shirt, trapped with in his fist, hollered just as loudly. “Yes you did! Ma, he’s lying! You are such a liar, Garret.”

Eliza would have laughed at the way Troy said his twin brother’s name, unintentionally exchanging the ‘r’ sound for that of a ‘w,’ transforming his brother’s name into something akin to “Gaywit,” but instead she reached forward and pried the two apart, only for them to rush back together again in a tangle on the floor.

It was a daily routine, as soon as she walked in the door, after a hard day of work, pulling the twins apart and off the floor. Soothing bruises with kisses, chastising when the need arose, which was also daily, but receiving and giving hugs wrapped in “I love you.”

It was something that was also needed-it more than anything else.

It kept them together…in a good way.

It had been thirteen months. Thirteen months, sixteen days and nearly eleven and a half hours since their world, Eliza, Troy and Garret’s, had been shattered, when she became a single mom to twins who were not her own, and a widow to a man who had left his sons far too soon. He had left her far too soon.

Thinking about it made the back of her eyes sting and her lip draw inward as she fought off the tears. They came far less often than they once had. Back then she nearly drowned in the liquid that sprang from her eyes.

She hadn’t noticed that the boys had stopped rolling across the floor, pummeling each other, until she felt their warm hands take hold of hers. Garret’s wet lips kissed her palm. “Sorry, Mom.”

“Yeah, sorry, Mom.”

She smiled, hearing yet again the absence of Troy’s r’s.  She knelt down and pulled the boys into her arms and squeezed them until they complained and wiggled out of her grasp, but only after they had exchanged their kisses. They looked so much like their father…and their father’s mother, Dina.

It was amazing how God worked things out, how He could mend a broken thing with something else that was broken.

Dina had never liked Eliza, had made every attempt to voice her opinion about it and her disdain for her son having married her. It had pushed Peter away from his mother and yet it was Peter’s death that pulled Dina to Eliza.

Dina, she was the one who shook Eliza out of her stupor. She was the one who told her she didn’t have a choice but to live, wouldn’t leave Eliza’s house until she had made it clear that she would live again. She was the one who told her she was too young to give up, that love didn’t die and that Peter’s love didn’t die for her.

It was Peter’s loved that pushed them together and Gods love that kept them together.

Dina came out of the kitchen just as the twins ran into the family room and Eliza rose from her knees. She tossed the dish towel in her hands over her shoulder, and just like she had for the last seven months, brushed the hair from Eliza’s eyes, cupped her face and kissed her cheek like only a mother could.

She then smiled at her as she patted her cheeks. “You get those boys a father and they won’t be such a handful.”

And like every time Dina said those words, and every time Eliza tried to refuse the thought, Dina’s hand would press against Eliza’s heart. “That heart is ready for love. It’s love that has kept it together.”


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Molly’s Mantel: A Free Flow Write

“Ingrid, dear, can you throw another long on the fire? My ankles are freezing.” Grandmother, said with a shiver so violent that it nearly shook the dentures right out of her head.

Molly's MantelMolly Henderson, was such a dramatic woman, never missing an opportunity to display her “talent” in theatrics.

Staking the fire with another dry log, Ingrid wondered if her husband’s Grandmother was so over done with her behavior because she was fishing for attention, or was it the many failed attempts at Broadway that made her try to redeem herself?

Stabbing the fire with a poker Ingrid asked, “Is this better, Grandmother?”

Molly, true to character, threw the shawl from her shoulders and leaned back in her old chair, her head to the side and her eyes closed, her tiny mouth hanging open. “I am roasting over here!”

Ingrid rolled her eyes reciting to herself the verses in I Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not provoked,”

“What’s that dear?” Molly slid open one glassy blue eye and peeked over at Ingrid. “Did you say you would love to have a smoke? Honey, those cancer sticks will kill you if you are not careful. Does Harvey know you have taken to smoking?”

She sat back up and pulled her shawl tightly around herself again, picking up the cup of tea beside her. She took a sip, her face drawn as if she were sucking a lemon before sticking out her tongue and gagging. “Nasty stuff!”

Ingrid set the poker down and prayed again, “Patience, Lord, patience.” Having never noticed the tiny pictures on Molly’s mantel she began to look at them, her eyes narrowing to slits as to bring the images into focus.

She hesitated for only a few short seconds before gingerly picking the row of images up in her hands. There were thirteen of them, painted in tiny gilded frames that looked, from a distance, like a train. Upon closer observation, Ingrid realized that what she had always believed to be a train was really art.

“Who, who made these?” Her voice was breathy with awe. The steady silence that greeted her made her turn around and face Molly.

Molly, for the first time, looked less flighty and fit for the stage, and more grounded. Her expression was that of a woman pulled away, back in time, far gone from the present moment. Even the slant of her face and the way the glow of the fire rounded her cheeks like a lover’s caress seemed to take the years away. She was stunning.

“Grandmother?” Ingrid took a step towards her but did not put the treasure down. “Are you alright?”

Molly smiled, her glassy blue eyes, now watered from tears and not time, smiled up at her. “I painted them, years ago, each little image capturing the tiniest of moments.”

Her hands reached for the images and Ingrid relinquished them to her, before dropping to her knees at her side. Molly said, “I learned back when I was your age, that the tiniest moments, those that seem over wrought with monotony, or seemingly misplaced and misused because of lack of order, are the moments that determine who we become. Each of these moments are like the cars of a train all packed with the “useless” stuff that carries us straight into our destines. They matter you know?”

“Yes,” Ingrid answered as she took the train from her husband’s grandmother’s hands carrying it back to the mantel, letting the wisdom of her moments with Molly sink in. Who was she becoming from this time spent with this older woman?

She startled as she felt a swat at her backside. Turning she saw Molly glaring at her.

“You are blocking the fire and I am freezing over here!”

Setting the images down, Ingrid  laughed at the moment.


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Longing For Home: A Free Flow Write

I stare forward, my back to the din of the room. The warmth in the air from laughter and the fragrant touch of spice enveloped me like the heat around the bread in the oven.

I was home.

1420046240fdu46I had been for some days now, but the feeling, the reality of what home meant had not really begun to sink in until now. My mothers, I have seven of them, all of them dancing somewhere between seventy and eighty and none of them willing to tell the truth of the number, huddle in like hens every Sunday to cook a feast…for me.

Mama Gene slides her floured hands over my shoulder’s and plants a wet kiss on my face. The smile lines around her eyes disappear within the folds of her weathered face and although I know she is delighted, delighted for me, I am suddenly less excited about the uncertainty of the tomorrows to come.

I turn around and face my other mothers as Mama Gene resumes her baking, and I wonder how long before my seven Hens huddle together in God’s kitchen baking bread for the angels.

They deserve their days on streets of gold. Six of them had buried husbands, all of them much too soon in life, and not a child to count as the proof of their unions. But mother Gene, the eldest of the hens had never had a husband and not a child either. None of then had until me.

Mama Genen always told me I was the first man she had ever loved besides her father and I was their adopted son, left wondering in front of the sister’s home almost thirty years ago, lost on my own no more than three, longing for a home that I found in the arms of each one of these sisters.

And now I wonder, as I prepare to take a wife of my own, what will become of my hens, these seven sisters, warn with time, and tragedies all their own, delighted to be together until the end of their days. What will I do when the kitchen is empty and no floured hands leave traces across my shoulders. What did Snow White do when she said her last good-bye to each of her beloved dwarfs as time stole them away to eternity?

A damp tall swats my arm. Mama Kay, the youngest of the sisters leans her hip against the counter and looks down at me from the bridge of her long ebony nose. “What’s on your mind son? You are usually all chatter. You sitting her mooning over that girl of yours?”

Kathy Heller, soon to be Mrs. Kathy Hen, is my beloved fiancee. It amazes me how much she reminds me of Mama Kay. Maybe it is because they share the same name or maybe it is the richness of their skin.

I don’t know, but the realization as I take one last look around the den of my mother Hens hits me like the damp dish towel and I pull Mama Kay into my arms and kiss her cheek until she squirms into a fuss, swatting me away and laughter erupts in the already noisy kitchen.

My Kathy, my soon to be Mrs. Hen is just like each and every one of my mothers, some spark of them wrapped up in her and the realization makes me long for home.


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“Will you just take the darn picture already?!” Mylo adjusted the lens of his camera, his teeth and jaw clenching tightly together as an attempt to keep from cursing. He had recently taken up an oath to retire the use of expletives at the behest of his younger sister. “It makes you seem really unattractive.” She had said. “Your eyes always look wild and then no one wants to talk to you.”

Author of Image Kelley  Tom
Author of Image Kelley Tom

Her pale eyes had gazed into his with such pity. Mylo knew she was really feeling more sorry for herself than him. No one wanting to talk to him had nothing to do with him being shunned by his cohort rather him being shunned by his former fiancee, Claire. Claire had left in such a nasty whirlwind, much of it was fed by the winds of Mylo’s creative combination of his choice four-letter words. He was like a ninja when he was angry, throwing around F-bombs like sharp karate chops. Claire had used her own but she left with his at her back and Tabitha had born witness. Even though Tabitha had just made her 11th birthday, she still had a way of thinking with the innocents of a child much younger. Claire had left because of curse words and crazy eyes. She had not only abandoned Mylo but Claire too.

Mylo didn’t mind it most of the time, Tabitha’s innocent deduction of facts. He actually didn’t mind it at all. Her simplicity of thought fed his imagination. Why did things have to be so complicated anyhow? He didn’t remember things being so hard before…back when he was still able to just be a kid, live his life and capture moments with his cameras. But now, 26, fully an adult but still not quite ready to live as one, Mylo was forced to play parent to Tabitha. Dad had spent too many nights and days wet with liquor for Tabitha to stay with him. Dad just had not been the same since mom died.

Tabitha had not taken things well either.  The shine had started to come back to her green eyes a couple of years ago when Claire came around. But now the light had begun to dim a little bit. She had even said she noticed her eyes looked different, but not like his, not like Mylo’s. Mylo’s were like water and when he was angry they were wild, especially when he swore. Tabitha had taken a picture of him once when he had cut his finger making a sandwich. He had sworn like there was no tomorrow.

He swore even more when he saw the camera in her hands but she had proven her point, he did look crazy.

Tabitha. He pulled the camera from around his neck and rubbed his hand across its surface. Staring forward, he watched the cranes standing side by side in the water. The image was so beautiful. He wanted to keep the moment locked in time forever but his camera…Sighing, he put his equipment away and pulled out a pen and a pad. With a hurried hand, he forced ink onto his page until the moment had been captured in a much simpler way. The cranes standing side by side.  The others had long since taken flight leaving these two behind and they seemed to pose for Mylo as if they new what he was doing.

He scratched at his hairline and glanced at his work. It had been so long since he had drawn anything, but the image made him think of himself and Tabitha. The other cranes had flown away but these two had stayed, side by side like him and Tabitha.


This freewrite was, unlike most of the others, inspired by the image of the cranes. I took an extra 5min to finish it since I had wasted (and yes I wasted) a few minutes trying to figure out how to spell a certain word. Spelling is not my strength.  🙂