Story A Day: Day 5: The Intrepid Reader

The Intrepid Reader by Sojourner McConnell

Vivian Williams sat at her computer surrounded by her cats. Yes, she admitted that she was a closet cat lady with her two starter cats, Mime and Jester. They were her black and white tuxedo cats. The two  were brothers and were similar in looks. They both had little mustaches painted on their faces since birth. Jesters face was black with a white mustache and Mime’s face was white with a black mustache.  She almost named him Adolf, but decided she did not want to think of Hitler every time she called out to him.

Both cats were lounging on the chairs that filled the computer room/den. Was it unusual to have a den when you lived alone? She wasn’t sure so she called it a computer room, just in case.

Vivian had been living alone since her divorce 16 years earlier. It was still a shock when she realized that so much time had passed. Oh well, she thought, it’s not like I am looking for someone.  The last time she had left the house was several weeks back and that was to pick up some groceries, cat food and litter. The necessities of life as a closet cat lady.

Maybe she would go out today, but perhaps not. She wasn’t willing to commit to that when she still had food for everyone and plenty of litter.

Vivian loved being part of the blogosphere. Her best friends lived all over the world and she never had to leave the house or call them to find out what they were doing on any given day. Sometimes she even knew exactly what they were eating and drinking. She wrote her own blog, The Intrepid Reader, where she wrote book reviews and short stories for fun. Reading and writing were the two things she had always wanted to do. Now she did it with fervor.  Day in and day out, she sat at the computer keyboard clacking away.

This morning she looked up her favorite blogger’s page and found a 404 page not found.

“What…? That can’t be right.” The cats looked up when she spoke so she continued her tirade in her head. I was just there yesterday. Looking at her pictures of the new recipe she was trying out.”

Julianne’s blog, Look at Me Now was where she religiously documented her weight loss and new life as a vegan.  It had some interesting recipes even though Vivian was a complete carnivore.

But where was her blog? Vivian typed it in a second time and got the same results.  Not Found! What did that even mean? Julianne would not just take down her blog. She had been building it for the last two years and it was her passion.  Well… that and living the vegan lifestyle.

Something was wrong, Vivian could just feel it. There was a mystery afoot!

Vivian went to one of her favorite forums that both she and Julianne frequented. She put up a post, asking if anyone had heard from the blogger@lookatmenow.com. She did not want to put Julianne’s personal information out on the internet. That wasn’t her place and she did not want to jeopardize her friend’s safety.  She just wanted some answers.

As she waited for a notification to pop up on her screen or in her email, she concentrated very hard on Julianne. She visualized her profile picture and kept her eyes closed.

A vision as clear as a bell came to her. Julianne was standing on a boat, a large boat. Perhaps it was even a ship.  She could see her looking out over the Seattle shoreline.  She recognized the Space Needle in the vision.

A gentle ping sounded and it was just enough to draw Vivian back to her own surroundings.  She looked down at her computer and saw a message icon.

Clicking the icon she saw that she had a comment on her own blog. She pulled up the site with bated breath hoping that the message was from Julianne.  She blew out her breath in a low whistle that made Jester and Mime’s ears twitch.

“Sorry guys” she called out before looking back at the message. It had taken its time loading and she was excited to see who had left a response.

Once the screen fully loaded she could see that it was indeed a post from Julianne. She scrolled down the screen and read the carefully worded message.  Did you get my email? J.

“Email?” She had not seen an email.  She had checked her email inbox first as she always did. There were the usual 50 blogger notifications just as there was each morning.  She once again went to the browser and pulled up her email account.  She saw nothing from Julianne so she clicked the spam box, just to make sure.  There, 4 spam emails down,  just below the offer to send her 5 million dollars ,was her friend’s name.

She immediately clicked it open and read:

Hi Viv,

Going on a cruise with my mother today, Alaska! She planned this for my birthday. Gotta love surprises! Be back in 7 days.  I will have new pictures for my blog.  By the way, the Blog server I use is going to be down for a day or two. They are upgrading their equipment. Will miss you!

Love you, J

Damn spam filter…

Vivian hurried to log into the forum and delete her panicked MIA post. She realized that she had spent the last 4 hours searching for someone who was not exactly missing.

“How did I know she was on that ship in Seattle? I really must be psychic! A psychic detective!”

The rest of the day and well into the night Vivian searched all over the blogosphere for pages on telepathy. She read every post she found on the subject. Until it was time to shower and go to bed.

Vivian told Jester and Mime as they snuggled in around her head, all three sharing the same pillow, “I just love being part of the Blogosphere!”

 

BLOGOSPHEREi

 

The Prompt

Write a story featuring a character very like you. 

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Story A Day: Day 4: Panic

This is day 4 of the Story a Day Challenge. Each day we receive a different prompt.

The Prompt today:

Write a story in the first person

Here is a very unusual item from me.  A first person story.  I hope you enjoy.

  Panic by Sojourner McConnell

 

I could feel the difference the moment I opened my eyes.  The light was filtered so I realized right away that it was very early in the morning.  I am a bit of a night owl, so I don’t always see daybreak.  This morning, however, I did.  I knew something was off kilter.  There was an aroma in the air.  A scent I wasn’t able to understand. I found it hard to breathe and I did not want to move my arms and legs. I wanted to stay in this curled position and go right back to sleep. My heart was fluttering in my chest; I had awoken to the feeling of cold, hard, panic.

Something was drawing me to get up. A thought, ever so fleeting, insisted that I leave this warm cocoon of blankets and pillows. I resisted as long as I could before I hurled myself out of bed. Adrenaline was pumping through my body and mind.

I sped down the hallway to the kitchenette. It was there, I became aware that I was not alone.  There were two cups of steaming coffee on the old red linoleum table which had once been my grandmothers.  I looked at those steaming cups, my mind awhirl but that explained the smell. I was nervously wondering who had placed them there. They were not my cups. They were completely foreign to me.

Why two cups of coffee would be left unattended on the table made no sense to my hyper vigilant mind, knowing I live in an apartment alone.  Totally puzzled at the mysterious cups I fought back the panic.  There was an uncomfortable fear niggling at my brain.

I quietly slid open the kitchen drawer that held a mish mash of odds and ends.  My hands quickly felt what I was searching for. I pulled out my grandmother’s old wooden rolling pin.

Without looking I clasp either end with both hands and began to silently creep down the hall and toward the back of the apartment.  The second bedroom that I rarely enter, beckoned with the door standing ajar. Not too far open. Just open enough to send bolts of electric fear shooting through my body.

I remembered locking my door before turning off all the lights and retiring last night. Yet, I knew there was someone in my apartment. There is someone hiding in my guest bedroom.

I brought the rolling pin high in the air. I wanted to have that momentum to stop whoever was threatening my security.  With the toe of my shoe I pushed the door, opening it just enough to see into the room.  I could see the chest of drawers against the far wall. I could see the mirror that hung over it. I used that mirror to aid me in my attack.  I was staring so intently into that mirror; I did not know when I first heard the sounds.  Those strange sounds, yes I had become quite aware of them by now.  A grinding, whirring sound that filled the room that by all accounts should be empty.

Gritting my teeth and tightly gripping the rolling pin I ventured in.  The first thing I noticed was the window. The single window was completely naked and flung wide open. Open and allowing a breeze and those odd whirring sounds to pour in.

My heart was pounding as I crept toward that open window.  Then a gloved hand appeared clutching the windows sill.  Seeing that large black glove sent chills right through me.

What happened next was so surprising to me I almost screamed.  A face peered in, looking directly into my eyes.  A face half covered by the outside casing, a face that I couldn’t make out through my squinting eyes.  Eyes that I had attempted to close tightly in order to scream.

Then I heard it, a voice.  I heard the clear baritone voice that called me by my name.

“What?” I sputtered “Who the?”  I was muttering to myself shaking like a sign in a storm.  Unclenching my eyes, I took a deep breath, still holding the wooden rolling pin over my head like a club.

“Kimberly. Hey… Kim… it’s just me.  Calm down.  I told you I would fix the screen next time I was in town. Remember?”

“Daddy? Oh my God, Dad… That was months ago!”

Dropping onto the bed, I looked up at him still shaking. All I could say was, “You scared the life out of me!”

Dad being Dad had the nerve to ask… “Did you see I brought Coffee?”

circlesteamcoffee

 

 

 

 

 

Story A Day: Day 3: Dime a Dance

Dime a Dance by Sojourner McConnell

 

11:59 November 1, 1985

The trains had all pulled out of the station.  No more people lounging on the benches or pacing about checking their watches or the clock on the wall.

No, the only person left behind was the elderly man that worked behind the counter.  His dark gray hair covered by a green old fashioned visor.  He walked from around the ticket booth counter and gave a glance around the wide open space.  Litter was always a problem, sure it annoyed him. But what can one man do?  You can’t watch everyone, every moment.

Lifting his glasses off his nose with shaky hands he wiped the lenses on his shirt tail then replaced them. With the clean glasses he was able to see more of the messes that were scattered around the vast room.

Bottles of water propped against the wooden benches were a common find after the last train left each night.  Eleven fifty eight.  The last train always left at eleven fifty eight.  The little stooped man looked up at the big clock over the west end of the terminal.  Twelve ten, yep he was still right on schedule.

Marvin Wilson knew his job better than anyone else.  He had been an employee for the terminal for the last forty two years.  He had started as a young man and never felt the need to move on.  He felt like he was an owner of this massive brick building.

Marvin spent five, many times, six evenings a week in this brick building.  He was always willing to come in when one of the other employees chose not to show.  He never had reason to call in to work stating he couldn’t make it.  He had more pride than the younger generation, he thought, more of a work ethic.

Marvin had no time for the younger men and women. He did not approve of their ungentlemanly manner. Their language was coarse and crude. They did not dress neatly. He always wore a dress shirt dress pants and a vest. He always made sure he looked professional. Marvin managed to cross the terminal while deep in thought.  He reached for the broom that stayed propped beside the lockers on the east wall.  Marvin pushed the broom gathering up bits of paper, pebbles and empty cans and bottles.

Marvin never understood people that tossed their trash in the floor, no respect any more.  He did not understand why no one cared any more.  Surely things had not changed so much. Didn’t parents make their children behave, toss out their trash in official receptacles?

He shook his head as he walked along in a straight path gathering up an impressive pile of rubbish.  Marvin whistled a little it was weak and breathy and the tune was unclear and unrecognizable.  It seemed to sooth him while he did his final tasks.

Marvin had covered almost all of the area that was clear of benches and vending machines. The wide open area where people walk about freely was now swept clean. Without fear of stepping on anyone’s toes.  All he needed to do now was sweep under the benches.

Bending low and groaning with the motion, Marvin brushed the broom under the first bench pulling out a torn magazine and a gum wrapper.  He stood again holding the trash in his gloved hand. Marvin dropped the trash into the bin that he pulled along behind.  Glad that there were wheels on the base.  Some new ideas were an improvement he decided.

Moving along in a small caravan to the second bench he thought he saw something.  He peeked over the edge of the bench and there was a shoe box.  Lifting the lid he peered inside and there was a pair of dancing shoes.

Marvin picked up and examined the right shoe.  He saw it was a brand new shoe, with pristine soles and no signs of ever being worn.  Size seven with a scrolling signature lay inside the foot.  The color was rich and shone brighter than a new penny.

This was not the usual find. The usual find was a teddy bear, a pack of cigarettes or an occasional back pack. Marvin picked up the box of shoes and slowly crept back over to the counter when he placed them.

He would place them in the lost and found when he finished with the cleaning.  The shoes tickled his memory.  They felt so familiar.  The color was unusual; it rang some bells in his memory.  He felt he had seen these shoes before.  Tapping his forehead he mumbled “Think Marvin, think.”

Marvin pushed the broom down each row of benches.  Finding little hidden caches of trash but not acknowledging each find as he had before.  His mind was back in the past.

Marvin heard far off music and remembered a dancing hall that he had frequented as a young man.  He remembered the ladies that would dance for a dime.  With their beautiful dresses and their sparkling shoes the ladies had class.  They made men feel strong and important.

Marvin did not even go into a spiel about the kids today. He was lost back in the good old days. The days where he fit in, before he lost his heart to the dancer in the bronze shoes and the flowing dress.

He stopped dragging the broom and turned before he moved quicker over to the counter. He once again looked at the shoes.  He knew these shoes.

He sat down on the bench that was closest to the counter. The box of shoes in his hand, his thumb rubbing over the name of the shoe store he just sat there.  The store was one he recognized, White’s Shoes. It used to be on the corner of State and eightieth.  It had been gone for years. It burned in the sixties. When there was a demonstration by those anti war people.  He remembered seeing White’s Shoes burn that night.  It was vivid in his mind.  The protesters being arrested and the people torn as to whose side they were actually on. It was a terrible time.  Life had been filled with terrible times.  Perhaps that is why he felt so bitter.  No, he disregarded that theory. He remembered why he became bitter. He remembered it all now.

Lana, the red haired, green eyed, dancer that brought him to life. Marvin always felt happy hearing her tinkling laugh and sweet voice.  Lana, with the beautiful shape and magical dancing shoes.  Lana, who he met on every night she worked, just so they could dance. He saved his dimes; it was like he only worked for those dimes.  He lost his heart on the dance floor in that smoky dance club.

He asked Lana to meet him outside after her shift and she winked and smiled coyly. She promised to be there. Insisted that he wait for her.

“I will be there, wait for me.”

Yes, my love. I will wait.  Marvin had waited until almost morning. He finally gave up hope when the street lights turned off and the morning light started peeking over the building tops.  He left, broken, his heart remaining outside that brick dance hall.  He never went back. He was never the same.

Marvin finished his cleaning, punched his time card and left.  When he fell asleep that night in his little brownstone apartment he dreamed of Lana. Lana appeared in his room holding out her hand to him. When he took her hand he left his body lying in that room.

Marvin felt a moment of love and happiness before fading out of view still holding Lana’s lovely hand and a smile on his young face.

The shoes remain in the lost and found of the main terminal.  No one has claimed them yet.

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The Prompt

Start a story with the last sentence already decided. I chose the sentence: No one claimed them yet.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Story A Day: Day 2: My Father’s Brother

Today is day 2 of the Story A Day Month. I hope you enjoy the short story:

My Father’s Brother by Sojourner McConnell

Roger Banks was an irresponsible man. He had been raised simply and it was only after his father’s death did he find out that there was a very large trust fund.

The caveat was that the money did not come to him unless he could find the funds to finance a half way home for recently paroled men.

Roger felt pretty annoyed to find out that he wasn’t going to just inherit his father’s estate.  He had to gain public funds and acquire personal loans in order to get this halfway home built.

Problem one Roger thought, as he drove home from the attorney’s office, No credit.

Problem two he thought, no resources or contacts to help with problem one.

His father had always given him an allowance even after finishing college with an Art History degree.  He knew beauty when he saw it.  He had always chosen the prettiest women to have at his side. Always chose the most elite paintings for his home.

Was his father really so hell bent on making him a do-gooder? The sick feeling he had in his stomach was only increasing with the limitations on his father’s declaration.

Pulling the car over to the curb he eased his sports car in to the first slot he came upon.

“The least Dad could have done was warn me.” Roger shouted out in his car, he had the privacy of his rolled up windows.  His own voice sounded strange to him. Slamming his fists on the steering wheel he immediately looked around to see if he had been seen.  He was very sensitive to his reputation. He felt stressed and tense.  Roger did not usually feel stressed and tense.  He had a very leisurely life, and he planned on retaining that lifestyle.

“What to do, what to do.” Roger mumbled now as he pulled back into the flow of traffic after his little explosion. He thought it out and he made a decision. He would go to the bank, the bank his father always used. He would explain his plight and plead for assistance in garnering a loan.

Roger pulled into the back parking deck and when he entered the bank he asked for Mr. Elijah Conrad. The receptionist showed him to the lobby and told him to wait. After about fifteen minutes that had only served to annoy Roger even more, Mr. Conrad walked out. Mr. Conrad was a short pale balding man.  The only thing of color on him was the red patch on the top of his head where it looked like he had gotten sunburned recently.  It almost made Roger laugh, but he controlled himself.  He had to remain controlled if he wanted to get the funds needed.

Roger smiled his most friendly smile as he stood to meet the little man.

“Hello Mr. Conrad, thank you for meeting with me. I believe you were my father’s personal banker?”

“Good to see you my boy,” Mr. Conrad said as he shook Rogers outstretched hand.  “I was sorry to hear about your father. He was a good man.  We shared a lot of afternoons together going over his finances. Let’s talk in my office.”

Once they were in the executive office with its leather furniture and large oak desk, Roger sat across from the older man. Took a breath and began to speak. His voice shaky, hesitant.

“I am in need of some advice, and finances. I am here because you knew my father. To be up front and frank with you, Mr. Conrad, I need finances in order to complete his wishes in his will.  He wanted me to continue his good work, and I feel compelled to do my best to accomplish his last desire.”

Roger had a sincere look on his face and Mr. Conrad continued to listen to him.  Interest had crept in as to what Roger might be proposing. Elijah Conrad nodded and held out his hand indicating that he should continue. After a moment Roger began again.

My father had a secret life, a part of his life that he never told anyone about.  He had been born a twin. His twin was not a hard worker like Dad was. Dad and Uncle Carl were as different as day and night. Carl kept getting in trouble as a teenager and young man. By the time he was twenty five he had been to prison for grand larceny. He was given twenty years.  When he got out, he was expected to be reformed and be willing to stay out of trouble.”

Elijah looked at Roger with understanding.  He wanted to know the whole story and how it involved him at all.  Of that he wasn’t clear at all.  “Go ahead, Roger.”

“There was a problem in this. There was nowhere for him to go. My mother did not want him to come live with us. She didn’t trust him.  It was sad, but she believed he would rob us blind.  He ended up homeless and on the streets, supplementing his income with petty thefts.”

Roger shook his head and kept his hands clutched in his hands to keep them from trembling.  He wasn’t even sure how much he should tell.  He gulped then continued speaking.

“As you might have suspected, he was arrested again.  Once again there he was spending more time in the local jail until his court date. Months went by and he was calling collect to the house. Occasionally getting through to my dad, most of the time being thwarted by my mother. My Mother never wanted him to be in her world.”

Roger took a deep breath. “Why I am here meeting with you, is to ask for funds to open this halfway house. Fully funded and supported by a foundation I am to set up anonymously. This was the test my Father has put in place with his will.  It states that I do not inherit enough to live on much less support this foundation unless I can find the funds to complete this project.”

“I have come to you, with no credit of my own, to ask you to fund this project with the understanding that once the home is built and opened, I will have all the funds needed to pay the loan and support the foundation. If I am able to secure this loan from you, then many men will be helped. Taught to read, taught to make their resume, balance a checkbook. They will in essence be given an opportunity to thrive after prison.”

Elijah Conrad looked at Roger with a look of compassion on his face. Nodding along as he kept his hands flat on his desk, trying not to show too much emotion as he listened.

“The project must be done anonymously. I am not even sure if they will appreciate me confiding in you, but I am asking you to respect my confidence. But I need this loan desperately.  My uncle needs it. He is to be released in one year and that is my deadline on finishing the house.”

Elijah stood up and leaned across the desk, clasping Roger’s hand. ” I will see what I can do. Give me a week.  One week to talk to the lending board. I will contact you then letting you know their decision.”

Roger heard the phone ring. He had been at loose ends for the last three days.  He had no plans in the works unless he heard back from Mr. Conrad soon.

“Hello”

“Hello Roger, This is Elijah Conrad.  I hope you realize how much talking I had to do to get your loan approved. I did not tell your story. I assured the board that they would be paid back. I guaranteed that fact to the board.”

Roger took a nervous breath that Elijah was able to hear it through the phone.

“We did it, Roger! The loan is approved and the project can start immediately. I have promised you to help you and I hope you realize that means I will never tell your story to anyone, ever!”

Eleven months later Elijah received a plain white envelope at his office.  There was no return address and he almost tossed it into the trash.

Elijah shrugged and opened the heavy envelope and smiled happily to find an embossed invitation to the ribbon cutting for:

A Home of New Beginnings

Founded by the Father’s Brother Foundation

Elijah knew he would go to the ribbon cutting. He also knew he would never mention any of Roger’s secrets for as long as he lived, and he never betrayed that trust.

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story A Day: Day 1 Tabitha Being Tabby

Tabitha Being Tabby by Sojourner McConnell

When Terry began scrolling through her phone, none of the photos she found were hers.
There  were only pictures of a precocious six year old wearing a pink and black polka dotted shirt. It seemed to Terry that someone had taken her phone off her bedside table and made use of the camera app.

Tabitha was always seeking out the phone, knowing that she could access the camera without knowing the password. Now Terry had over 250 photos of Tabby in her phone. Tabby was always happily documenting those faces that she loved to make.
Picture after picture appeared featuring Tabby. Tabby, as she stretched her lips in wide eerie grins. Grins that morphed into a frown that stretched down to her little pointed chin. One photo that followed showing deep within her mouth. Her teeth and tongue were centered on the screen.

“Tabby? Tabby, come here!” Terry called out to the now missing first grader. She was sure that Tabby was occupied with torturing the dogs by playing keep away.

Meekly Tabby came around the corner. Her white hair caught up in a tight pony tail swinging over her shoulder and her big blue eyes peering into the bedroom. She meekly said,  “Yes ma’am?”

“Have you been playing with my phone, again?” Giving a stern look at Tabby, Terry tried not to smile.

She loved this girl so much. It was hard to reprimand her and stay annoyed with her.
It was just Terry and Tabby against the world. Tabby was her whole world so that made it much easier. From the moment of her birth it had always been Terry and Tabby.

Tabby gave her mother the most adorable grin, the grin that showed all her teeth and her over the top personality. Never had Terry seen such an adorable grin in her life.

The fact that Tabby was so personable was a bit of a surprise to Terry.
She, herself had always been a little shy and socially awkward, until Tabby. The moment Tabby was born; Terry had blossomed into a mother. A responsible person that willingly and happily decided to stand up and make the important decisions that would always come her way. A woman that was now willing to stand up to anyone for her child.

Tabby was the catalyst to Terry’s growth. Together they made a whole, and she had the photos to prove it.

Taking Tabby by the hand she led her to the computer, plugged in the phone and began to upload every picture in the phones gallery into the folder marked Tabitha being Tabby.
The upload took a while due to the number of photos involved. One after the other the little face began popping up on the screen. Filling the folder with the new photos, adding to the thousands of pictures already stored there.

Terry remembered that they had, as a team, uploaded the last set of pictures just a week ago. She knew that if she and Tabby kept this ritual going that she would need a new hard drive, just to hold all the pictures that the camera had captured of Tabby.

Terry hugged Tabby close, pulling her up on her lap where they continued in the weekly tradition. Together mother and daughter started with the first photo, scrolling one by one through the thousands of photos documenting Tabitha being Tabby.