The Daily Prompt, 2016: One Note

The Prompt from: The Daily Prompt 2016 by J. C. Cauthon

Use the following items to create a scene:

A Post-It pad, a nightstand, a wedding dress, a ballet slipper

One Note by Sojourner McConnell

Sylvia stood in the doorway, looking back and forth at the small furniture. She stopped panning the room when her eyes fell on the lone ballet slipper that was lying next to the dressing table. The frilly lace cover almost blocking that small sliver of pink from view. But Sylvia saw it and it made her smile. A forlorn smile that spoke volumes about her emotional state today.

Sylvia, again looked across the room, her mind filled with visions of her little Tracey carrying her ballet slippers into her bedroom every Monday night. Always with the little bun on the back of her head and the pink leotard with flouncy skirt. Her memories were so vivid she could almost touch that golden hair stiff with hair spray and gel.

Blinking back to the present she stepped farther into the room and her eyes lit on the white lace dress placed carefully on the foot of the bed. The white in sharp contrast to the pink and black stripes of the comforter. Reaching out a hand she touched the crisp lace and her hand gently smoothed the material.

Her mind floating back to earlier in the day when that golden haired woman had entered the chapel her face bright with emotion. Her eyes filled with love looking only at the handsome man standing by the alter.

Sylvia wanted to make eye contact with her little girl one more time before she became a married woman. A woman that was starting out life in a different direction. A direction away from her doting mother. Sadness was there, but oh, so much pride. So happy that her beautiful daughter had found the man that she would love, cherish and assist through their life together.

Sylvia never got a chance to look at her, nod in approval and smile with all the love that enveloped her heart when she looked at that dear face. Tracey was focused on the man that had stolen her heart.

Stroking the material, she sat down on the bed next to the long white beaded dress. Her eyes next noticed the small wooden nightstand that typically held her little ballet dancer lamp and the book that she wanted to read before bed. This room had been empty for the last five years while Tracey went to college and then moved into the city to work. Five years since her  girl spent more than a night or two in this room. Today there was only the lamp and a yellow post-It pad.

Sylvia did not remember a Post-It pad being in here the last time she dusted. Reaching for the small pad, she saw her daughters small fine penmanship and she read, Mom.
With tears in her eyes she continued to read the quick note on the little yellow square.

Mom,
You taught love.
Now, I’ll teach love.
I’ll love you always!
Tracey

A smile crept across Sylvia’s face. Perhaps her daughter did have room enough for her new husband and the mother that loved her so much.

“Don! Don! Let’s go out to dinner and celebrate our daughter’s happiness.”

Standing she went downstairs to the comfort of the living room where she knew she would find her husband. The husband that had always shared her heart with their daughter.

Sylvia remembered that her own heart had expanded to make room for the people that she loved. Both when she left her Mother to marry Don, so many years before, and yet again when she gave birth to Tracey.

Sylvia only needed that one note to remind her.

The Daily Prompt 2016 : The Second-Hand Hero

The Prompt from: The Daily Prompt 2016 by J. C. Cauthon

Take the following words, and use them in a short story or poem:

new, subtract, amused, escape, second-hand

The Second-Hand Hero by Sojourner McConnell

I woke up this morning in the mood for something new. I had known right away what it had to be. So I grabbed my checkbook and began to subtract the debits from my checking account. To assure I had the funds for my mid week escape. When I wake up in this type of mood, there is no other place that cures what ails me like, Susan’s Second-Hand Rose. That store amused me like no other. There were vintage clothing and shoes. I have always loved a good nineteen forties Dress.

It made me happy to dress like an actress in some of my favorite movies. The Egg and I, My Favorite Wife, I remember Mama. Oh, I do love a good nineteen forties movie. I loved wearing a dress that made me feel like Irene Dunn. Sure, I looked nothing like her. I for sure don’t speak like her. I am a country girl from Alabama with straight blond hair. I couldn’t pass for the beautiful Irene Dunn, if I tried. But I sure feel like her when I am in one of those dresses.

But today, I wasn’t interested in those dresses, or Irene Dunn. Today I wanted to find a well loved book. One that had been read by a sensible woman from the middle of last century. I wanted to fall in love with a man that had caused another woman’s heart to flutter in her chest right after the Second World War.

But not just any man. He had to be one of those handsome young men that felt the call to arms. A man that had enlisted with vim and vigor. A man that had written to his family regularly telling them of his love of God and country. A man that had stood up bravely on the shores of Normandy. A man that had loved deeply and was now afraid he would never love like that again.

I knew that he had come from a farming community somewhere in middle America. A man that would come home a little different than when he left. A little wiser, a little jaded and perhaps a little broken.  I  needed to find this man and mainly I needed to read his story.

Today, I needed to be the woman that saw him as he returned home, a hero. The woman that saw him as the only man she could love. The  woman that could acclimate him back to civilian life. The woman that made him able to love again. The woman that made him feel unafraid of loud clashes of thunder and vivid lightning. The woman that made him whole again.

Today, I needed to be that woman. I wanted to read myself into her words and see myself in her clothes, wearing her sturdy shoes. I wanted to read myself in her actions. I needed to be the woman that had sacrificed her own sleep to make sure that he was able to sleep through the night again. Today I needed to be the woman that loved that soldier.

I had only been inside the shop for a moment when I was approached by the owner. Susan always greeted me with a smile and called me by name, today was no different.

She asked, Lillian, what are you  looking for today, I have several nice dresses that I  just acquired.

I shook my head and told her “today I had something else in mind.”
I walked to the back wall where the second-hand books were stacked neatly on the floor to ceiling bookcase. I began to cull through the books hoping to find what I needed so desperately.

There were plenty of books on that large oak shelf that were about the war. The hard surfaces faded and the corners curled, but I did not find what I was seeking. I brought over the footstool that Susan kept for short people like me, to reach the higher shelves. I climbed up the first rung. There I was able to see what treasures were housed just above my head.

The faded greens and grays with the occasional pale orange and blood red bindings were a delight for my eyes. My nose was also twitching with excitement at the aroma of those books, some almost one hundred years old. My fingers felt thick with the ages old dust and oil of other people’s hands. Yet, I was in heaven. I had slid my fingers over every title written on the side panel of each and every book. Then I saw something that made my heart flutter. I took in a deep breath and smiled.

The title was Come Home My Darling by Dorothy Napier, the cover was deep blue and the letters were embossed. My fingers traced over the letters and I pulled it off of the shelf. I did not even step off the stool, I simply opened the book and read.

The train pulled into the station and the soldiers began to cover the cement platform like ants marching in green wool. Men in all manner of military garb stood shoulder to shoulder, duffel bags on their backs and nervous grimaces on their faces. Every eye was shifting back and forth as they looked desperately for familiar faces. One by one the grimaces became smiles when they found there was someone that loved them waiting at the station.

I watched hoping to find the one face that would respond to my smile. I wanted to be there when he came home, his welcoming wife. If he is not on this train, I will be here for the next, and the next. I will be here to welcome him home. No matter how many smiles I have to muster.

I sighed. Yes, in my hand was the book that had called me here. Here was the woman I needed to read about. I would wait with her on that crowded platform, waiting for him, our hero, to come home. I had found exactly what I needed. I took that blue hardback book to Susan. I paid in a hurry, ready to escape to my own home, to my own bed. To read the second-hand book that had so urgently called to me today, to meet my second-hand hero.

CNCementCityDepot[Dobronski]

Story A Day: Day 15: For the Greater Good

Prompts

Rewrite your First Person story from Week One

 

For the Greater Good by Sojourner McConnell

 

I have been a banker since graduating High School. I attended Night school while working at the bank to get my degree in Accounting. I was used to sad stories, stories of the downtrodden, the hopeful and the unworthy. It was one of the duties as a personal banker that I did not like. It was a normal day when I had the meeting with Roger Banks. I knew his father well, and I knew more about him that he might imagine. I was sorry to hear that Mr. Oliver Banks, his father and one of my clients, had passed away. I knew that it would be hard on the son as the trust fund would not transfer over to him. I had heard some unsettling news of his sense of entitlement from his own father’s lips. O

liver Banks always felt like he had failed his son by not making him more financially astute. Oliver was always embarrassed by Roger’s belief that he did not have to work hard for anything.
When young Banks showed up at my office this morning I was not surprised. Even thought he had never felt the need to come to me before, I expected him to come find out about his inheritance. I knew he had been given an ample allowance by his father. I had set up the trust fund originally.

 

When I saw young Roger in the lobby, I prepared for begging and pleading to release more funds. I did not relish the thought of explaining to him that he had been basically cut off without a penny.There were details that I was not privy to in the will. Those were not under my scope as personal banker.

 

I welcomed Roger when he was reaching my office. He looked sad, angry and a little bewildered.
He held out his hand and said, “Hello Mr. Conrad, thank you for meeting with me. I believe you were my father’s personal banker?” I shook his outstretched hand as I told him, “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.”
We entered my office and I motioned for him to take a seat. “I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I enjoyed working with your father. Oliver was a wonderful man.”
He began to speak with a shaky voice. “Thank you for seeing me, I am in need of some advice, and finances. I am here because you did know 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.”
I listened to him and when he slowed, I encouraged him to continue.
He took a breath, his eyes were cast down and his head bent. His tone was quiet but sincere. “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.”
When he stopped speaking once again I prompted him to tell me more. I wasn’t sure what this had to do with me, but I was indeed curious. I simple said, “Go ahead, Roger.”
Nodding his head, gathering his thought he did speak again. “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. 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.”
I could see he was nervous. His hands were fidgeting in his lap and his voice was raw with emotion.
“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.”
I tried to not let him see that his story was affecting me greatly. I kept my hands on my desk as he finished speaking.
“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.”
When he concluded, I nodded to him showing that I understood what all he had shared with me. I felt honored that he had confided in me and I assured him I would do my best with the board. I asked him to give me one week. I went to the board and without sharing the details of his conversation, I guaranteed his loan personally. I assured the board that they would get their money back if we were to back this project. It took almost three full days, but I was able to persuade them to agree.
On the afternoon of the third day, I called Roger. I could tell he was anxious, I could hear it in his voice and he had picked up on the first ring. When he said his expectant “Hello” I responded.
“Hello Roger, This is Elijah Conrad.” I could hear his breathing heavy and rapid through the phone. I went on eager to tell him the good news. “I hope you realize how much talking I had to do to get your loan approved.” I took a breath and could hear his own intake of breath.
“ I did not tell your story. I assured the board that they would be paid back. I guaranteed that fact to the board. 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!”
I ended the call after a few more moments. I felt that deep satisfaction that comes with doing something for the greater good. I heard from Roger on occasion over the next several months. It was almost one year later. I believe it was eleven months, to be exact, that I received a letter in the mail.
The letter had a sturdiness to it that comes from card stock. I saw there was no return address and I grew very curious. Once I opened the envelope I could see that it was an invitation to a ribbon cutting. A smile began to crawl across my face. I read the words once, then once again.

A Home of New Beginnings
Founded by the Father’s Brother Foundation

A sense of pride came over me. I knew at that moment that I had made a good decision indeed. It was with great happiness that I attended the ribbon cutting of the halfway house that Roger had successfully opened. I knew I would never tell anyone the secrets that Roger had shared. The house would open just in time for his Uncle to be released from prison. I felt confident that with the support of his family, it would be for the last time.

The Daily Prompt 2016: Blackberry Bushes and Applesauce

The Prompt from: The Daily Prompt 2016 by J. C. Cauthon

Blackberry Bushes and Applesauce by Sojourner McConnell

I remember the Summer we went to my Granny’s to live. My brother and I were staying with my neighbor, Mrs. Clarke. We went there everyday during the summer and after school in winter. Will and I played with her little boy, Matthew. We were there, as usual, when the policeman came to the door and told Mrs. Clarke some bad news. It was only after the police left and my Granny came to her house that they told us what had happened. My parents were gone. There had been an accident on their way home from work.

I was scared and confused. I was only 11 years old and Will was only 5. I was always close to my little brother Will, I felt like I was the only one he had left, other than Granny.

We had visited Granny’s farm before as a family. Mom and Dad, Will and I. Now it just didn’t seem right, it wasn’t a vacation. It was to be permanent. I can remember the first night with the crisp line dried sheets on the bed that smelled of sunshine and bleach. It was a smell that made me miss my mom even more.

I was lost in memories of coming here with her to this farm and picking apples. Not just picking them, but going into the kitchen and helping her and Granny make applesauce. Will was just a baby and Mom would place him in the high chair that had been hers as a baby.She would feed him the fresh applesauce, still warm from the stove. I could almost smell the apples in the air as I remembered those moments with my Mom.

Then I closed my eyes and shifted deeper into the sheets and I had another memory. It was the day my Mom and Dad and I left Will with Granny so that we could go out to pick blackberries. The sun was high over heard and I remember my Dad warning me about snakes. I was scared at first to put my hands in to the blackberry bushes, but I finally did. I did it and I was rewarded with blackberry preserves that next morning for breakfast. I was never so scared as I was that day. Listening for snakes and tentatively sticking my hands into those prickly bushes. I remember how proud my Dad was of me.

I felt the tears start to fill my eyes. My Mom and Dad would never be proud of me again, I thought. There would never be moments with applesauce and blackberry bushes ever again. Mainly I cried for Will. He did not have the memories of Blackberry bushes and making applesauce with Mom and Granny,  like I did.

Before I fell asleep, I promised myself that I would make those memories for Will. We would go out tomorrow and pick the ripe red apples from the trees in the pasture and ask Granny to make some applesauce. Then we would make the trip to the shrubby area by the trees and pick blackberries. I would use my most serious grown up voice and warn Will about the snakes. We would make new memories that would go hand in hand with the old ones. I would make sure that Granny and I made Will some wonderful memories to hold onto.

Now we are here at Granny’s once again. This time to say goodbye to her. Will and I sit on the back swing gently pushing off with our feet. Funny how that motion comes without even thinking about it. It is like the muscles know what to do and automatically do it. As we swing, Will and I recall all the times we sat here before watching the sunset in the horizon. We talk about the memories we have growing up here. The main ones we both share have to do with blackberry bushes and applesauce.7c2ea5b5-d896-4710-ab9c-423960bd35cf

 

The Daily Prompt 2016: Faces

The Prompt from: The Daily Prompt 2016 by J. C. Cauthon

Take the following words, and use them in a short story or poem: rule, point, sharp, scrawny, beef

Faces by Sojourner McConnell

My name is Esmeralda, let me get straight to the point. The last time I had beef, I was a preteen.

I decided that as a rule, I would cut all meat and anything with a face, from my diet.

I am against anything where you have to use a sharp object to take the life from a creature.

Maybe a cow is not a creature, but it is not a scrawny little animal to be bullied and tortured this way.

When I became twelve and saw that a cow was used for dinner.

I rebelled.  No meat for me!9f4218f0-8abe-4a0c-aeec-ab9f74ce0317

Daily Prompt 2016: Dream Girl

Prompt from The Daily Prompt: 2016  by J.C. Cauthon:

 

Use the following sentence as the opening line of a short story:
He was stunned–the stranger in front of him looked exactly like the girl he had been dreaming about.

 

Dream Girl by Sojourner McConnell

 

He was stunned–the stranger in front of him looked exactly like the girl he had been dreaming about. The same long brown hair, same bright blue eyes, everything was exactly the same. The only difference he could see was the setting. She did not belong in this time, she belonged in the small town that he had grown up in. Not here in the city.

When he dreamed about her, she was always near a creek. Wading in and then rushing out of the cold water. Her face was always smiling and looking at him with the most beautiful loving emotion shining from her eyes.

Today, she had nothing but anger showing from her eyes. He got that a lot. As an agent for the Internal Revenue Service, he was pretty much public enemy number one. He had accepted that as his fate, but today, he did not want to accept it. He wanted her to look at him with those old familiar soft, gentle and loving eyes, just as she had last night and the night before.

Instead he was looking into eyes filled with animosity. “Miss Ketchum, Thank you for coming in. How can I help you? I am Tony Page.” He stuck out his hand wanting to show her he wasn’t the bad guy. She briefly clasped his hand and her grip was firm. He liked that.

“I am here, Mr. Page, because of this.” Caty slapped the wrinkled letter on his desk.
The letter looked like she had wadded it up, stomped on it,then straightened it out again, he thought to himself a little taken aback.

He tried not to curl his lip as he picked up the letter that had certainly seen better days. He held it in front of him by one corner and glanced over it. The form letter was familiar to him. He saw these all the time.

“Miss Ketchum, Have you been adjusting your dependents on your W2 at work?”

Caty looked a little nervous and bit her lip before she spoke. “Only on bonus checks. That’s the only time. I swear!”

“That changing dependents on the W2 has caused you to accrue debt, debt that you do not appear to have addressed.” He looked at her to see if she understood what he was talking about. It was obvious that she knew all about the large debt. She showed no surprise in anything he was saying.

“There is a quite substantial amount due and it is delinquent also. Did you forget that you signed an agreement to pay it back in payments?”

He stopped talking and looked at her hopeful that she would have some reason to have this much debt to the IRS. He also hoped that she had a reasonable excuse for not having made any of the twenty four payments she had set up a year before.

“Mr. Page, I remember setting up the payment plan in this office a year ago. I did not, however, foresee a lack of sales that made my bonuses less than expected. So how was I to pay back a debt when my bonuses were so small?” She looked across the desk at him with unblinking eyes.

Tony looked away before he had stared at her too long. He had met with her last year? His mind took this news and rolled it round and round. That was how he knew her, that was why he was dreaming about her. He must on some level remember her. Somehow he must have expected this official office call.

He shook his head quickly and using his most professional voice asked, “How do you plan on paying this sum back? You do acknowledge it has to be paid back, correct?”

Caty rolled her eyes at him as if he had made the most preposterous statement to her. She spoke with some heat in her voice.” Of course I know I owe it. You explained too me last year what would happen if I didn’t make the payments. But that was before my bonuses went down. You can’t expect me to keep a bargain that was based on bad information can you?”

Tony rubbed his hands over his chin in total confusion. She seemed intelligent, but somehow she thought this could just be swept under the rug.

“Miss Ketchum, why don’t you tell me what you think we should do to resolve this now that we have all the correct information.” He was extremely curious as to what she would suggest.

Caty sat back swinging one leg over the other deep in thought. “Hmm… I guess we can set a smaller amount for a longer time. Yes, that’s what would work best for me. How does that sound to you Mr. Page?” Once again piercing him with those unblinking blue eyes.

“If I make a new agreement with you, will you honor this one? I mean, I trusted you last year. Didn’t I?”

“Oh Mr. Page, I meant to make the payments, I really did. But when I saw that little bitty bonus check, I just knew that you would understand how it was impossible to make that payment. You seemed so nice and understanding. That was why I got so angry when you wrote me that hateful letter.”

Her eyes filled with moisture and Tony was afraid she was going to start crying on the spot. She took a breath, swallowed and started speaking again.

I was so shocked that you would be so mean, after all we did seem to get along so well. I was kind of hoping that you would call me after we met last year. Maybe that was why I was so hurt, when you did finally contact me, it was about this.”

Tony did not know what to say. He remembered now writing the letter that initiated this interview and probably the dreams of her. But he wasn’t about to ask someone that he was working with out on a date. He knew that was breaking rules that would risk his job. He too took a deep breath before speaking.

“Miss Ketchum, although I think you are a very nice lady and I am sure you would be a fun person to go out with, I can not in any way have a relationship with you. Not while you have a payment plan in place. It would be a terminating offense. You understand, right?”

He looked at her with sympathetic eyes so that she would understand that he would if he could, but he wasn’t allowed. He did not want to make her angry, again.

Caty flipped her hair back over her shoulder and shook her head in a flippant manner. Her back was straight and her leg was kicking the air in front of her more than just swinging as it had been before.

I don’t think I want you to call me any more. I told you, I didn’t like the mean letter. I admit I was hoping you would call. But when you didn’t, I forgot all about you. I would never go out with you now. There is too much water under the bridge now. You lost your opportunity.”

“I understand Miss Ketchum, it is truly my loss. Now lets get the numbers figured out on the new repayment plan, shall we?”

100326irs1

Story A Day: Day 12: Meeting of the Minds

The Prompt

Write a story with the flawed protagonist

Meeting of the Minds by Sojourner McConnell

Ronald Jackson had always been a man that wanted to be successful. He had attended the local college and was happy to report each semester that he had made the dean’s list. He was proud of his 4.0 grade point average.

Ron, as his friends called him, was popular with people his own age and usually was popular with his Mother’s friends. Until he opened his mouth and blurted out exactly what was on his mind. No matter how inappropriate that thought was. His mother had tried to teach him to keep some thoughts to himself, but it never quite took. Ron did not even realize he did this.

He did not realize it, even after his mother pointed it out to him that he had hurt Joyce Cloverton’s feelings when he saw her in braces for the first time. He had blatantly told  her “You look like a rabbit chewing through its cage!”

When Ron was being social, his parents and friends would cringe when he would blurt out some random idea. They had a lot of opportunities for him to embarrass them. Yet, it never seemed to embarrass him. He always acted as if he were doing someone a favor by speaking out.

Ron walked into the conference room, dressed professionally and looking his best. He noticed a few people already seated at the large oblong oak table. He proceeded to his own chair on the far end. Pouring himself a glass of water he straightened his papers and sat down. Glancing around he saw that there were two new people that he had not seen before. He looked from one to the other trying to figure out why there were new people in the monthly meeting.

“Who are you two and why are you here? His voice was not harsh, but it did come across as brash and simply rude.

The woman in the blue skirt, crisp white shirt and blazer, looked up at him and responded. “ I am Gail Bentley,  your new Marketing Director. She pointed to the man next to her in the white shirt and blue and black striped tie.  This is Brad Singer, your new Financial Director.”

Gail raised one eyebrow at Ronald. ” We haven’t had the chance to meet you face to face. She applied a polite smile to her face and gave him a slight wave. “Hi.”

Ronald looked at her with a shocked expression, “I didn’t hire you. I would have remembered if I had agreed to new Directors!”

Gail looked at him directly, “Surely, you remember sending us an employment packet, Right?” She asked with a little lilt encouraging him to see the humor in this misunderstanding.

He pushed his light colored hair back in a frustrated motion before asking. “What are you two about? I am calling security!”
Ronald reached around and picked up the phone on the edge of the table behind him and pressed several buttons. Gail and Brad could hear the security officer through the phone as he answered and assured their boss that he would be right there, to remove the trespassers.

Ronald Jackson, mumbled in a louder voice than necessary before hanging up, “I will not be made a fool of by these two upstarts.”

Gail and Brad, looked back and forth at each other, quite confused and bewildered. Neither said a word but Gail fidgeted with her badge. Her officially provided badge, she thought. The badge handed to her personally by the head of Security, she remembered. What the heck is going on. Is the President of Manufacturing mental? She asked herself.

Her mind racing in confusion and she felt herself getting a little ticked off. “I am not sure I would have agreed to be come the new Marketing director if I knew that the President of Manufacturing  was insane” she whispered to Brad. He let out a little laugh that he immediately tried to cover with a cough. It didn’t really work that well and he could feel Mr. Jackson’s eyes on him, once again.

Brad spoke quickly trying to defuse the situation that was rapidly escalating. “Sir, I am sure there is no need for security. I have my badge right here, it shows my name and title and a picture too! Would you like to see it? Show him your badge too, Gail.

Gail rolled her eyes and pretended she did not hear Brad. She wasn’t about to show this nincompoop her badge. How dare he act like she was a trespasser. She had been working here almost a full month and was not about to be made to feel like an interloper.

“I’ll just wait for security!” Her tone made Ronald glance back at her with a scowl.

He kept ruffling his short hair with one hand while aggressively tapping his fingers on the desk with his other. He pounded his hand on the desk decidedly and stated.  “I would never hire a woman for the marketing position. Especially a pretty woman. Why, that’s just asking for trouble!”

At the sound of muffled footsteps everyone looked over to the door where Ronald’s brother Jonathan stood.

“Ron! I see you have met our newest employees!” Jonathan nodded to both Brad and Gail before coming in and slapping Ronald on the back. “We were sure lucky to get these two. We had to get a headhunter involved to sweep them up before anyone else could. I can tell you, we had our work cut out for us. But they agreed and now we  just need to make sure they stay happy here. I can count on you, can’t I, Ron?”

Ronald was looking a little green as he sputtered his agreement. “ye ye  yes.” composing himself he added.  “Well Jon, to tell you the truth, I didn’t know we had hired anyone new. Maybe someone should have told me. I may have prematurely , called security. We might need to cancel that call.” Ronald mumbled loud enough to be heard by the entire room, ” I still say someone should have told me.”

Gail looked at him with fire in her eyes. “I did tell you, Mr. Jackson. Remember? Right before you called me a trespasser.” The look she was giving him said that he could play nice or she would tell all.

Ronald decided he would play nice. He gave her a brilliant smile. “That you did. I should have listened. I am sorry. He looked down for a moment then looked up with a gleam in his eyes. “But you didn’t have to be so rude about it. Did you?”

“Look who’s calling the pot black.” Gail blinked that she had actually spoken the words. It was not like her to blurt out thoughts like that. For some reason this man pushed all her buttons and made her behave badly.

Ronald looked back at her bemused face and smiled. “Perhaps you are right. But I did say you were pretty, didn’t I? Surely that counts for something.”

Jonathan cringed when his brother said that out loud.  Is he trying to get us sued? This is incredible, she is as blunt as he is. Does he even notice it?

Jonathan almost laughed at that moment, because he could see the future and it included two outspoken people, working closely together maybe even starting to like one another.

Oh, just wait until he told his mother.

57cc0e2a-3f3a-49df-9c87-65a257cb1e2c

Story A Day: Day 11: Little Matey

The Prompt

Write a story in which the setting is key

 

Little Matey by Sojourner McConnell

The worm, moist, droopy and slick, hung from the hook as I tossed the line back into the green water. The little dollop sound that the hook entering the water made was the only thing breaking the silence. The sky overhead was the most vivid blue with little marshmallow puffs of clouds floating about changing shapes every few minutes. The breeze had the vague scent of lavender wafting across the boat.

I looked at my one man crew on the tiny rowboat and realized that the day was just about perfect. My grandson with his blond hair standing straight up in a little crew cut, was perched on the far end of the boat. In vivid contrast to the river, his bright orange life vest was secured. He looked so frail with that large stuffed vest around his stomach and chest. His eyes darting across the top of the water skimming all around for a fish of any kind. He was a mighty fisherman for a little tyke.

Mica took it upon himself to be in charge of the chest containing the river water and the fish we had already caught. It had been a productive day out here in the great outdoors. As always we kept our eyes pealed for water moccasins and snapping turtles. The rules were that no one dangled any appendages in the murky water. The water had a bit of a fishy smell that kept my nose curling when I caught a whiff. The aroma of fish drowned out the lavender every time.

The sun was warm on our skin and succeeding in making us drowsy with its magical relaxing properties. If someone bottled a warm sunny day, no one would ever have insomnia again. The little rowboat was floating in small circles making bullseye designs on the still top of the water. The only sounds were of bull frogs croaking on the chore and an occasional duck or goose that would fly overhead. The hawks that we could see dotting the sky made no sound at all as they soared high above.

It was days like today that made me happy to have this little guy in my life. Even if it was only for one weekend a summer. It was all worth it.

fishing-1-1

Story A Day: Day 10: Help, Police!

The Prompt

tell a story using the Hansel & Gretel story structure

Help, Police! by Sojourner McConnell

 

civic

Julia was stunned! Her car had been stolen! She had only parked here for a moment while she ran into the bank. Storming around the parking lot she knew she needed to call the police. She also knew that she had left her phone in the console. What a bloody mess.

“I know I locked the car, I always lock my car.” She fumed as she stalked into the bank. Taking a look around she found a window that did not have a huge line and stepped behind the woman with the lime green pant suit. The teller could call the police for her.  They always were so friendly and helpful, they would call for her.

It was only a moment later that her eyes began to water and her throat felt like it was closing on itself. She politely coughed once, twice, then a third time before realizing that she must be allergic to the perfume of the woman standing in front.
Gasping she stepped out of line and while wiping her eyes, Julia got in line behind a tall thin man that did not seem to be wearing any loud offensive cologne. She looked over to the woman in the lime suit and saw that she was already at the teller.

“Darn it” Julia muttered. “This line is not moving at all. I wasn’t even in here this long last time.” Julia became aware of the fact that she was mumbling out loud and people were watching her. She just wanted to crawl away and bundle up in a ball and cry.

She basked in the self pity for a moment then straightened her spine. Julia, in a loud voice proclaimed, “ I need someone to call the police. Now please. My car has been stolen. Does anyone have a cell they will use to call them, please?”

Julia added on the please, even thought it wasn’t in the polite tone she would normally use. It came out as a bit sarcastic and for that she was sorry, but no one was responding to her pleas. As she lifted her hands in aggravation, the tall slim man in front of her pressed a phone in her hand.
“Just dial 911. It is unlocked.”

Oh! Thank you! Thank you! Julia barely had time for the second thank you before the emergency operator answered.

“911, What is your emergency?” The puny voice cried out in her ear and she almost laughed at the man’s voice. He sounded so weak and frail. But she remained straight faced as she reported that her car and her phone had been stolen.

“We will send a unit as soon as one becomes available. What is the address?” She asked in her loud clear voice for the address of this branch, and was met with silence.
The teller that was now available in the other line said, “I only know the P.O. Box, sorry.”

“All I know is that it is the branch on the corner of Main St. and Castille Ave. Surely that is close enough to an address, isn’t it? Julia was starting to feel her face heat up, she knew she was about at her breaking point.

She stepped outside the bank and wandered over to the parking spaces on the side of the building. Sitting on the curb she waited for the police to arrive.

“What kind of car is it?” Julia looked up and there stood the tall slim man from the bank. She wondered for a moment how he looked so cool standing outside in the heat in his suit coat. He reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a narrow wallet, flipped it open and showed her his detective badge.
“I’m Detective James Ralston, sorry I wasn’t able to help more in there. I am on a case and can’t really be much help. But I can put in a word with the officers when they respond. If I have your information.”

“Um ok, sure. That sounds great. It is a Honda civic. Silver with black interior. Do you think that is enough to help?” Julia swung her hands between her knees in a nervous manner waiting for the police to arrive. The detective wandered around while he waited with her.

Detective Ralston said, “Miss, what’s the tag number?”
Julia looked confused for a moment then nodded and told him, “125”
“SMK” Detective Ralston finished for her. Once again Julia looked stunned.

“Yes, exactly! How did you know?”

He pointed over to the adjacent parking lot, where a silver Civic with the license plate 125SMK sat facing away from them. Julia jumped to her feet, raced across the square lot and across the walkway.

“Oh my god, oh my god,” she kept repeating as she ran. Racing into the other oblong lot straight up to her car. The Detective was right beside her, with a smile on his face.
“I take it, this is yours?” Julia nodded at his words, still overcome and almost unable to make coherent sentences.

“How did I miss my car. I mean I walked all over that lot over there.” Julia ran her hands lovingly over the roof of the car before sticking the key into the lock and opening the door.
“I will cancel the call for you. You have a great day, Ma’am.”

Julia looked up at him and stammered, “Th…th thank you! I can see now why you are a detective! You are a miracle worker!”

Detective James Ralston laughed once then shook his head. “Nah, just observant. Glad you got your car back.” He walked back toward the other lot as she climbed into the drivers seat.

Julia cranked the car then grabbed her phone after he walked away.

“Mom, you are not going to believe what just happened to me.”

 

Story A Day: Day 8: Our Journey

The Prompt

Write A Story With a “Cinderella Story Structure”

Our Journey by Sojourner McConnell

Today makes three years since this journey began. My story is simple but in order to explain why I am where I am today, I need to start at the beginning.

Four years ago, I married my Prince Charming.  Daniel McGregor was a man that I met at the university and we had so much in common it only made sense that we get together. We knew it was love.

When I introduced him to my parents they were concerned that he was Catholic.  My parents had been very adamant about raising me agnostic. They never tried to convert me to any one God or religion. They also did not try to convince me that he did not exist. God simply was never mentioned one way or another. We hoped and wished, but did not pray. Now I had found this lovely man that was a practicing Catholic. My parents were afraid that I would be brainwashed. They tried to talk me into finding another man.  They tried to talk him into accepting me as agnostic without converting me. The pressure was intense. His parents always were inviting me to go to mass with them and my parents insisting that I not blindly follow them into a decision about religion.

Daniel and I played the game with our collective parents until it became a point that looked to break our relationship.  I took a few weeks away from Daniel in the summer months to get my head together.  I went to a friend that was studying psychology and was planning on opening her own office in town.  I spoke with her and poured out my heart to her. She had me look inside myself and see if I was so set on making my parents happy that I would push away the man that I said I loved.

I took that and examined myself for weeks.  The pain was real and being away from Daniel was what made my decision for me.  He wasn’t forcing me to convert he was willing to love me just as I was.

One week after I returned to Daniel at the college we decided on a civil ceremony, invited both sets of parents and had a simple wedding.  It became a day of love, without the pressure of a religious ceremony.  It was perfect for us.  Or so we thought.  Our parents became unruly and rude to each other at the small reception and said terrible things to each other.  Things were said that could never be unsaid, or forgotten.  Both sides had alienated the other. Our own parents had effectively placed Daniel and I right in the center of the conflict.

Daniel and I faced this problem together as a solid, united front. We became estranged from our parents.  They refused to see that they had caused this by being stubborn and opinionated in something that was not their battle.

From that moment we kept our own company. We spent holidays at our own apartment sending cards to both parents but not agreeing to choose one set of parents over the other. That has worked for the past two years. Our marriage is strong but we miss having our extended families in our lives.  The years apart were painful, but it felt like the only decision to make.

One year after we were married Daniel and I made the decision to start a family.  It was an exciting time for us.  We had a small house with the perfect little room that we planned to use as the nursery.  Each month we felt the disappointment that was growing each and every month.  After almost one year, we went to another doctor, a specialist. He ran several tests and came to the conclusion that with fertility drugs we could probably conceive in a matter of months.

15 months after the wedding we began the fertility treatments.  They were not overly complicated, but it did involve medicines, calculations, charts and timed responses.  It was a stressful time for both of us.

For me it became a time that I wanted my mother to confide in and to lament the losses, the sadness and the hopelessness that I occasionally felt. They had caused a breech that I couldn’t in fairness to Daniel cross. So I went through this struggle without the support of my mother.

She had not reached out to me in this time either.  Both sides of this awful predicament stayed firmly ensconced on their own side of the battle. Never once did anyone contact us offering to a meeting of the minds.  Daniel felt the same pain about the distance with his family.  We only had each other and we hurt.

The month that we did conceive we were elated. That joy only lasted for nine weeks before we dealt with the loss of our baby.

Daniel and I grieved in silence for six more months before the specialist, Dr. Wilson, offered a procedure that would hopefully allow me to conceive and carry a baby to term.  We had been traveling back and forth to the hospital for almost five months when the first signs for hope emerged.

I was sick quite sick for days.  At first I didn’t even bother to talk about it. Then I had this little thought in the very back of my head.  As the days went by, that tiny little thought turned into a hope.  I shared that hope with Daniel.

Daniel did not know what to think, he was afraid to believe I was pregnant. We had been so disappointed in the past, more times than I care to mention.  Days when we had prematurely thought we might be expecting had only led to disappointment and extreme sadness. Daniel and I rarely even spoke about children now.

We took a trip to the drug store in town and picked up the self test kit.  No way could we wait until later. We had to know, now. Daniel and I agreed that we would not be upset if we were not expecting this time.  We promised that we would hold it together.  The doctor would not keep treating us much longer. We were running out of money and insurance was no longer an option.

With test in hand I went into the bathroom and Daniel waited right outside.  No way was he leaving me now he said. He was as invested as I was.  With the five minute wait ticking slowly by, we sat on the side of the tub, little tester in hand.  Finally there it was a vivid strip showed up in the center.

“No freaking way!” One of us said it; I am not sure who it was. It might have even been both of us at the same time. We often did that anyway.

I accidently dropped the tester and it clacked to the floor. I didn’t even care. I was so excited. This meant s much.  Now my work was just beginning. I had to safely carry this baby to term.

Dr. Wilson had been giving me injections that would assist my body in carrying a baby to term, so we felt a little glimmer of confidence this time.  For weeks, I ate well, resisted anything to drink other than milk and spring water. I was feeling more confident, more hopeful.

At Dr. Wilson’s office the day of the ultrasound, I was nervous and Daniel held my hand. He was always there, supporting and encouraging me. Daniel was always allowing me to lean on him when I felt breakable.  Today, I felt very breakable, and he could tell. He held my hand as they lubed up my stomach with the cold gel before sliding the wand over the tight skin.

The grey screen began to contort and change then the technician said there is the heart.  I could see the little fluttery thing on the screen.  It was difficult to make out, but as she pointed out more and more parts of this tiny life that was growing inside, I could recognize my baby.  Head, legs, fingers, nose.  One by one they came into view and I was overwhelmed. I suddenly missed my mother. I missed that she was missing this.  I missed Daniels mother was missing this.

I realized I would reach out one more time to them both.  I would make it my responsibility to stop this war.

With pictures of each little part labeled, I told Daniel my plan. I told him what I was compelled to do.  He once again said that he would accompany me and support me.  I expected no less of him.  That is who he is.

Once I reached my parents house, I walked slowly up the stairs holding tightly onto Daniels warm comforting hand.  My heart was beating so erratically in my chest; I worried about my health and that of the baby.  I knocked on the door. I knew that my parents would be home. They were creatures of habit and this was always when they were home watching the news together.

I was not disappointed when my Mother opened the door.  She looked shocked to see me. But there was a light in her eyes.  A glimmer of something I hoped was happiness to see us.  I knew she did not know I was pregnant. We had not shared any news until we were sure that I was far enough along to safely deliver.

I could see the moment she recognized my belly.  Her eyes widened and tears formed instantly.  She called out to my father and he walked into view.   We still stood on the stoop. She had not invited us in. I was unsure of my reception at this point. Yet, I was still determined. Daniel continued to hold my hand and had not said a word. He simply had a polite and friendly smile on his face.  He wanted this to work out as much as I did.

My mother stepped out and pulled me into her arms. The tears fell unchecked down her cheek now and mine mixed with hers as we hugged cheek to cheek. She kept crying “My baby, my baby.”

Daniel was watching, I could see him through my tears as he stood to one side waiting, wondering how this was going to end.  It was only at that moment that my father slapped Daniel on the back and said “come in, son.  Let’s go in where it is warm.”

The next three hours went in such a rush of memories, hopes, fears and apologies, that I was shocked to find it had grown so late.  We left with the promise from them that they would make right what they had said on our wedding day.  They wanted to be a part of this baby’s life.  They apologized for being so hard headed and hard hearted.  We accepted them at their word.

Daniel talked all the way home about the change of heart with my parents and we agreed to confront his the following day.  He wanted to have reconciliation also.  He wanted his parents to be as happy as we were about the baby.

The next morning we went about our regular daily schedules and met after work.  On the trip to his parents house we again discussed how important it was for them to be willing to apologize and forgive my parents.

When we pulled up in the driveway at Daniel’s parent’s house, there was a familiar car in the drive.  I was puzzled as was Daniel.  We got out of our own little sedan and walked together to the door.  Again Daniel was supporting me and comforting me with his reassuring hand in mine.

As Daniel reached up to knock the door swung open and there his parents stood.  They were both looking at us strangely with eyes red and damp but a wide smile on their faces. My own parents were standing behind them.  My first reaction was that they had told Daniel’s parents the news about the baby, until Ramona, Daniel’s mother screamed and reached out to my stomach.  She cupped my belly with both hands and stood there screaming for several seconds.  It was pretty obvious that she had no clue there was a baby on the way.

Daniel was grabbed up by his father and surrounded by his big beefy arms.  It almost took Daniels breath away to be squeezed in such a manner.

“Forgive us Daniel, Forgive us Lisa. We have been fools. Stubborn opinionated fools.”

Mr. McGregor stopped speaking and Mrs. McGregor took over. “Lisa your parents came here tonight to tell us they were sorry.  We are the ones that are sorry. We were unforgiving and wrong.  Now we see there is a baby. Can we please be part of your lives again?”

Daniel and I stood there, crying for a second day on a row happy delighted tears.  We cried for the missed opportunities and for the future. We cried mostly for the family that this baby boy we had decided to name Ethan was going to have four very loving devoted grandparents in his life.

Today, I am lying in the hospital maternity wing. Ethan is in my arms and Daniel is sitting beside us on my bed. Standing around the bed are four very exhausted grandparents that have been here all night waiting to greet the little angel.

Ethan waited until the day before his due date to arrive and he is a healthy seven pounds.  Today I feel like we are the happiest people on the planet. Through all the bad, the pain and the heartache we all now have Ethan to brighten the rest of our days, together as a family.