How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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#BlogBattle – Week 25

Check out the originator of this challenge at

#BlogBattle

The rules are easy:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story,put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

~ * ~

This week’s prompt:  Legumes

Genre: General Fiction

Tonight’s Canning

What a life!

“You all can finish up. I’m going to start supper.” With one swipe of a sleeved forearm, Annie wiped perspiration from her brow and shut off the tractor.

She had done it all during her younger days, and thrived on the heat, an aching back and sore muscles. Nowadays, ten hours at a stretch were too long—heck, even eight hours were too much. The extra padding she carried now might have something to do with her discomfort, but then shouldn’t the fact she was now shorter and closer to the ground make up for it?

Weary to the bone, she trudged towards the house. Wide-brimmed hat cast off, she swatted the air to disperse the thicker dust off her face. “You’ve been a stinker today,” she said to the sun. In answer it sagged like an orange-yellow egg yolk down a white-washed, gleaming wall. “This old sack of bones needs a bath and a tall glass of lemonade.” An old border collie raised her head from the floor of the wrap-around veranda, barked once and lowered her muzzle again, eyes hazy but attentive.

“Been a trying day in the shade has it dog?” Annie laughed at her wit, a coarse sandpaper sound, and slapped a knee with her straw hat. Hauling on the wood railing, she hoisted her squat frame up the steps, stopping to pet the old dog. Pepper took this as an invitation. “Come in then. The water in your bowl will be cooler inside.”

With a sigh, she scanned the basket-cluttered counter of legumes: soybeans, butter beans, regular bush beans, all awaiting canning before she laid head to pillow. Pepper swayed on arthritic hips, shuffling towards the tempting water bowl, but slurped with energy and gusto. The old stone farmhouse was cool inside, and shielded its inhabitants from the relentless sun, but not when the oven was on. “Go to it, old girl. I’m going to cool myself.”

* * *

Annie returned clean and refreshed. Sleeves pushed up, she made no unnecessary movements. She had deposited three whopping chickens in the oven on slow heat after lunch. Their doneness fragrant in the air, she smiled and relaxed. Potatoes and carrots peeled, she husked fresh field corn and readied a deep pot. Soon elbow deep in beans and pulses while supper cooked, she hummed a tuneless ditty. The dog snored and passed wind beneath the wooden table. Steam swirled over the stove from the enamel water bath canner. Annie wiped her drenched brow and overheated face with a fresh towel. Dishes and cutlery in a plastic crate, she then set the table outside beneath the maple where the temperature had dropped as the sun dipped lower. Where is everybody? I’m starving.

As if in answer, ten workers—three of them teenage girls—plus her husband and two sons straggled across the yard. Though they had running water in the house, all heads and necks dripped water from the handy water pump around the corner to the house. “What’s to eat, woman?” Her silver-haired husband grinned and exchanged a one-two boxing maneuver with his adult son. The younger of the boys punched his father’s arm and raced to the table where he didn’t sit, but hovered.

The men whistled and hooted and picked their spots, but younger son and the girls followed Annie into the kitchen for the food.

“You all enjoy. I need to finish tonight’s canning. Lots more needs doing tomorrow.”

“Annie. At least take time to eat.” Her husband caught her arm as she swept past. “You need a break. For me?”

“In a minute, okay? The jars need to come out of the bath. I have more two short batches tonight.” She patted his shoulder and proceeded towards the veranda swinging her hips like a much younger woman. Whoops and howls followed in her wake.

Pepper had slipped outside unnoticed. No longer capable of taking the stairs, she poked her snout between the porch’s railings whining for attention from the diners. “Don’t worry, precious. I haven’t forgotten you.” Annie leaned over with effort to pat the black head. “Hold on, girl.” The door slapped behind her. The relaxed comradery around the outside dinner table continued. Someone had plugged in the lanterns against the diminishing light.  “You want pies, come and get them when you’re ready.”

The dog fed and sprawled on the porch outside, Annie focused on her work. She continued to remove the processed jars. The next batch was ready for blanching and freezing this time. Perspiration dripped into her eyes. The tongs for lifting required more concentration now. Her required reach seemed higher and felt heavier with each jar she removed. She swiped a hand across her forehead. Three more jars to go. Her arms leaden and wrists straining, Annie struggled, determined to finish.

A spine-chilling scream quashed the joviality outside. The tinkle of shattered glass. A loose chair sent crashing. The scream other-worldly, never-ending. A heavy thud…

Father and sons tore up the stairs.

The dog howled as if scalded.

The End

What are pulses?

http://www.pulsecanada.com/food-health/what-is-a-pulse

~ * ~

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.


46 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups -Week 157

Check out below, on how it’s done and come on down:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week157-2/

This week’s prompt is … at last we were free… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

A New Page

Trina had to pull herself together. I need a cold shower. She pounded on her roommate’s bedroom door. Quiet as a tomb.

“Sarah. Wake up.” Trina squinted at the clock down the hall. “Come on, kiddo.” She gave the door another whack and proceeded to the bathroom and turned the water on. Then off. Odd. She paused. Blinked. And retraced her steps. “Time to sober up.” She turned the knob. “It’s Graduation Day. Remember we said we were free to start… Sarah…? A new page for the rest of our lives?

“You’re so cold.”

Oh. My. God.

Where’s my cell? “I need an ambulance. Hurry-please!”

The End

© 2015 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles All Rights Reserved


61 Comments

#BlogBattle – Week 15

Originator of this challenge:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

This  week’s prompt is …rage… + up to  1,000 words

Rage

The new neighbors arrived Saturday morning. Four screaming kids exploded out of the beat up van, voices shrill in the quiet street. Harry powered off and leaned on the handle of his lawnmower. He reached for the cigarette tucked behind his ear and lit up. A plump blonde slid off the passenger seat, pouty mouth streaked blood red. As the brood of kids, all under eleven or twelve, tore up and down the lawn and driveway, a reedy scarecrow of a man appeared at the back of the van and proceeded to unload luggage and cardboard boxes.

“Don’t just stand there, Louise. Open the damn door and come back help me.”

“Can I have the key first?” Her hand snaked forward, palm open.

“Oh for crikey sake. I gave it to you already.” Glass rattled in the box he plunked on the ground.

“Nope. Check your pockets.”

“Don’t give me no lip. I said— You must have slipped it into my pocket. Here— You’re ticking me off woman.”

Harry smoked the last of his cigarette, stared at the grass at his feet and then, across the road. The kids huddled together in a tight knot, quiet now, the girl half a head taller than the tallest boy. The squeal of bad brakes shattered the short-lived silence. A box-like moving van lumbered up the street and stopped in front of the empty house. A lanky twenty-something male jumped out of the passenger’s side and sprinted up the driveway.

“We need to back into the driveway, so’s we can get started? Okay?”

“Can’t you see I’m unloading here?” Scarecrow man spit a gob on the driveway, his hands in tight fists.

“I’ll help.” The young man gawked over his shoulder at the driver.

Harry crushed his smoke in the grass, dropped the butt into his shirt pocket and started up his mower. The rusty van drew up in front of his house, but he ignored it. One more pass and he was done. Turning on his heel, he headed to the backyard.

“The new neighbors have arrived.”

“Oh, yeah? What are they like? Any kids?” She stopped weeding and sat back on her heels, shading her eyes against the sun.

“In a word, trouble—with four kids.”

 * * *

After supper, Harry took out the garbage as usual, snapping the lid on tight and secure. The summer sun slid lower behind the garage. A screeching and wailing rent the air over scraping utensils across dirtied plates inside his house. His head snapped in the direction of the ugly noise. The girl pulled on youngest brother, the other two shadowed them out the side door. Hands in his pocket, Harry ambled down the drive as if deep in thought, an eye on the kids. The van still parked in front of his house afforded a clear view up the empty driveway.

“You don’t tell me nothing. You hear.”

Crash. Smash!

“Stop it. You’re hurting me. Let go.” The woman howled like a banshee.

The kids shuffled away from the door as one, the girl’s arms enclosing her brothers. At that moment Harry caught her eye. She lifted her chin high and turned away. Harry marched towards the house as his wife, a frozen grimace on her face and eyes wide, rushed out the door.

“I’m surprised nobody’s called the cops yet. Call them.” No sooner had the door slammed behind them when a siren moaned in the distance and stopped. Then, again. Closer this time. Two car doors slammed shut. Harry hurried outside as had all the residents on the street.

The police cruiser blocked the bottom of the drive. One burly uniform rushed to the door. The other corralled the children to the cruiser. “Stay inside. I’ll be back.” He rushed towards the house.

“What are you doing in my house? Get out!”

“Sir. Calm down.”

“Ma’am, are you all right? Let’s go into the other room.”

“Don’t tell me calm down. This is my house. You get out.” The words exploded in a guttural roar. Harry, as well as the curious on-lookers disappeared inside their houses.

“Your rage isn’t helping anyone. Hey! Put down that knife, sir. I said. Put. It. Down. Now.”

* * *

An officer on either side strong-arming him, scarecrow man in handcuffs tugged this way and that, and screamed obscenities spittle flying every which way. The woman, Louise, flew out of the house brandishing an umbrella and whacked her husband on the head before one of the uniforms grabbed it from her. ”Pick on women and innocent children will you. Don’t you never come back, you hear?”

“Mommy, mommy.” Her children ran into her open arms. “Shh-shh. It’s going to be okay.”

The girl stepped back first. “I can’t live like this anymore. Yelling, screaming, no groceries, always moving in the night. This isn’t a good life for us kids.”

“It’s okay, Sweetie Pie. I have the keys to the van. We’ll leave tonight.”

“I’m not going. I want clean clothes, a clean bed, regular food and a normal kid’s life.” Two fingers of each raised hand wiggled to suggest apostrophes. “We’re not coming with you.”

“That’s nonsense.” Louse blinked and rubbed an eye smudging the already runny mascara. “We need to get some clothes and things. Come on. Help me.”

“I am not going into that house ever again. We’ll wait out here.”

The three boy nodded like dashboard bobble heads. Louise stared at her daughter with narrowed eyes. “I’ll be right back. Forget the junk inside. I’ll get my purse. One moment.”

As soon as the door slammed behind her, the kids hoofed it across the road to Harry’s house. They didn’t knock. They simply slipped inside.

A voice outside screeched. “Where are my children?” Curtains swayed up and down the street. Louise twisted around a time or two, threw back her shoulders and scurried towards the van.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.


40 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #174

Click here to join in

Prompt this week:  …all seven were just arguing amongst themselves… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

Where There’s a Will

As Nurse Nancy dashed in, all seven were just arguing amongst themselves.

“We sell the house first.”

“I don’t agree!”

“Let’s auction everything—”

“You buzzed?” She scanned the silent bed.

Harry frowned; his siblings shook their heads. A thin hand rose, then flopped like a beached trout on the crisp sheets. Nurse Nancy rushed forward; the seven trailed behind.

“Mrs. Mitchell—Annie. What can I get you?”

“Water, please? And a bedpan?”

“Right away.”

Harry froze, paled.

“Your mother needs privacy.” Hands gesturing, she shooed them out.

“I thought she was dead—”

“You were wrong. Call my lawyer.” The voice intensified. “I’m changing my will.”

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #172

To join, click below:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week172/

…when the daylight returned the king was dead…+ 100 words

100wcgu-72

Talk of War

“I forbid it!” Teeth clenched, the queen stomped from the darkening window.

“Forbid? You’ll do as I say. Romp across the country all you like, the boy stays.”

She spun to face him and thrust a crimson, talon-like nail at her husband. “The talk of war puts him in danger.”

“Nothing but talk.”

“Have it your way. I’ll save the next king alone.”

The king tossed back his head and roared. “He’s only eleven, Madam. There’s plenty of time.”

“More fool you.” She heaved the great door, elbowing past the startled guards. Don’t worry. Mother will take care of everything.

When the daylight returned, the king was dead.

#

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


43 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #170

Anyone can join in, click below:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week170/

This week’s prompt:  …the scent was overpowering… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

Smoke

First a wisp, then the smoke billowed denser and angrier.

Boys? Georgie? His mother peered through the doorway across the rolling fields and trees. “Georgie!”

She dashed inside, rang the fire-hall, and face alabaster, charged out again. Two boys hooted and swayed towards her in drunken fashion.

“You okay? How’d the fire start?” The twelve-year-olds howled with ridiculous laughter. She grabbed each by an arm and tugged towards home. “We’ll talk later. Better hope the house doesn’t catch fire.”

The wind shifted and the scent was overpowering. Fire bells clanged nearby. The odor seemed familiar, yet… “Lordy. Someone’s marijuana crop’s burning in our backyard.”

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


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Tailspin (Part 2)

Tailspin Part 1 is here

 

“You ‘usband…gold mine …Mon Dieu…accident…”

The words were muffled. Not an accident like Smitty’s daddy. No. Not my daddy. Please God.

“My Everett? Where he is per favore?”

Médecin d’examiner… I go home, wait news.

Grazie. grazie.” My mother’s voice cracked.

Mrs. Fournier flung the bedroom door hard in her haste towards the front door. I don’t believe she saw me. I reared back though my legs were leaden.

“Ma, Daddy’s going to be okay, right?”

“Shhh, Bella. No worry. Want nice glass milk? Where Caterina?”

“She’s—in bed—still sleeping. Mrs. Fournier put her down for her nap.”

Ma paced from kitchen to living-room to bedroom and back. Over and over again. I leaned on the windowsill, with one eye on the clock and the other on the road. I peeked at Ma now and again. Smitty and Franco were nowhere in sight. The floor creaked and complained in various spots beneath Ma’s endless wandering. I already knew each one by heart.

 

Twenty-eight stomach-churning minutes later, a taxi pulled up in front of our house. I’d only seen one once before. “Ma, why is a taxi here? Aren’t they for rich people?”

She made an awful noise. And then, I saw him.

“Ma’s forehead glistened; her face white as my sister’s new diapers. She grabbed my hand, a strangled cry lodged in her throat. She stumbled for the door like Frankenstein tugging at my arm, but I let go and rushed ahead. I dashed outside and down the stairs. A soon as he unfolded himself from the backseat, I exploded into his arms and almost knocked him over. He swayed against the car to catch his balance. I noticed the cane but it didn’t register. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy…”

“I’m fine. See. Just a limp and a scratch.” He withdrew his bruised arm from the sling. With the other, he leaned the cane against his hip and reached into his pants pocket. I’d forgotten about the taxi.

Nien. No pay, Ev-rrett. We drink some beer soon, yah?” Mr. Schmitt, the driver, winked at me before he coaxed the taxi up the dusty street and out of sight.

Daddy hobbled towards Ma. I hung onto his jacket sleeve as if he’d vanish. Ma sagged against the doorway framework and slid down in slow motion, into a heap of clothing and useless limbs. She might have been a rag doll left propped against the doorjamb.

Her eyes fluttered. Claw-like hands covered her face and she began to wail, the sound sorrowful and lost. It reminded me of the loon’s cry on our lake: eerie and mournful; haunting and tragic. It was the kind of wail that made me feel helpless and more scared than I’d ever been in my whole life.

Daddy patted my shoulder and leaned over Ma. I let go of his sleeve. “Olivia, come inside. I. Am. All. Right.” He leaned hard on his new cane and extended the bruised hand. His voice came out in a hoarse whisper like he’d swallowed sandpaper, each word enunciated the way a person would with a mouthful of cotton. He cleared his throat several times. He reached for Ma’s lifeless hand and tugged. Rivers of tears zigzagged her cheeks; eyes staring, forgetting to blink. Her mouth quivered; hungry eyes devouring every inch of his face.

Caterina began to bawl. What timing. She was the baby and knew nothing about the accident. I knew a little and I wanted to shriek too.

I couldn’t leave yet. “Daddy?” My throat hurt to talk. “You won’t ever go back to that mine again, will you?” I committed to memory this tower of a man with a greed new to me. I don’t think he heard me. I wanted to stay, but my sister now howled. I rushed in to calm her though I had more important worries. I felt older than the eight-year-old girl I had been earlier in the day.

My Daddy had made it home—home in one piece. This time.

Smitty’s Daddy would never come home again. My Daddy made it home. Today, we were lucky.

###

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


76 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #162

It’s a new year and the fun continues. To read the rules and join in, click below:

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week162/

The week’s prompt:   as I put the decorations away I … + 100 words

100wcgu-72

ANGELS

Smash! “I sorry, Grammie.” Beth’s lip wobbled; solitaire-size tears leaked to her chin.

“Sweetie, it’s okay. Come sit.”

“It was a accident.”

“I know.”

Brushing copper wisps aside, she raised watery eyes. “You mad now?”

“At you? Never. Who wants a hug?”

Beth giggled and climbed upon her lap.

Grammie wiped the little face. “Each year, as I put the decorations away, I remember your mom, no bigger than you. One Christmas I dropped and broke her favorite ornament, a glass angel.”

“Did she cry?”

“No. I did. She said we’d buy another one.”

“Did you?”

“Yes. Two. Mine’s near the top—there.”

“Mine too. My tree”

 

© 2015 All Right Reserved TAK


70 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #159

Time for another challenge. To join in the fun, click below:

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week-159/

This week’s prompt:  I need to remember… +100 words

100wcgu-72

HOME SAFE

“Where are my gloves?”

Mrs. K’s fingers combed through her hair. “You’re burning up.”

“Can’t leave without my gloves.”

“They’re tucked into your belt. Here.”

He rubbed puffy eyes.  “I need to remember something. What?”

“Make it back in time for breakfast?”

“No-no. Where’s the new GPS?”

“In the sleigh, dear. Take Nelson tonight.”

Kris pulled on his bottom lip. “Nelson?”

“The doctor treating you.”

“Don’t think so…”

“What if you get drowsy? Or need meds to get through tonight?

“You’re mighty persuasive, Mrs. K. Ho, ho, ho—but no.”

A green and black blur dashed out the door.

Safe home, Kris. Safe home.

 

© 2014 TAK


118 Comments

Shanghai, Day 11, Part 5 – Nanjing Road Shopping and Stories

Tummies full, we left the restaurant around 12:45 and the weather had become humid.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/shanghai/west-nanjing-road.htm (what’s on offer)

The shopping is pedestrian-friendly  with an occasional trolley / mini tour bus. Prominent other than McDonalds and Haagen-Daaz, were expensive big label stores. I wondered how the young couples afforded their clutched brand-named shopping bags.

The English Group 8 turned down (yet another) museum tour which added more (boring) shopping time. This time Sue and I struck out together. Four hours to kill. My poor aching feet.

On a shabby side street a couple of blocks from Nanjing Road, I bought a bottle of Dynasty wine in a grocery / variety store ($10.00 CAD / $8.00 USD). Not one corkscrew was in stock. I borrowed from Sue as I had siphoned all the cash out of my wallet for the silk-filled comforter and pillow before lunch.

If we needed the Happy House, Jackie advised any large hotel would accommodate us. Our choice was the Sofitel Hotel where, upon entering, we found ourselves facing a security guard. Nervous, but avoiding eye-contact, these fine western ladies strutted in as if we belonged and ended up (confused) on the garage level. Ph-ew the gas fumes.

Sue spotted a glass elevator. A tall Caucasian man, briefcase clutched, got on behind us. He had come from Michigan on business eight years before and considered himself a local now, his return to the U.S. doubtful. He pointed us to the closes ladies’ washroom.

Shopping Nanjing Road  (pictures galore)

Out on the street again, Sue spied a Haagen-Daaz restaurant. The timing couldn’t have been better for a good sit with ice-cream. We entered with Sue in the lead. A waitress stopped me at the door and said wrong way. The lineup at the opposite end of the restaurant was where we must enter. Oh? Back out to the sidewalk and the other door we trotted to join hordes of others. It didn’t take long, though, before we were seated.

We waited—and waited some more. Three young girls who’d arrived after us had already been given menus. We waited. With the earlier rush over, I chalked this up to bad service. We wondered about foreigner abuse, as well. A girl finally came bearing water glasses containing lemon wedges and menus. We didn’t touch the water.

At length, a waitress toddled over and took our order. One scoop of ice cream (chocolate with pralines) cost 33 Yuan each ($5.50 USD). We waited and waited for our order to arrive, but I didn’t mind. It was a relief to take a load off and sit.

Our bill took forever to come. I wondered why not go up to the cash with our dish to show what we’d ordered and pay. At home we’d have done this no problem, but Sue, usually brave about most things, wasn’t comfortable doing so. In the end, we did so anyway, but the cashier appeared frazzled. His rhythm had been broken and he made us wait. Again. I now owed Sue 83 Yuan, (not quite $14.00 US).

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Two things I noticed while we window-shopped. Beggars were uncommon. We had been discouraged from interacting with them. I noticed only two: one a disfigured man shortly after the bus dropped us off; the second, a miserable old man who shook a rusty tin can in our faces wanting a donation while we sat in a park. He rattled the meagre contents however we ignored him. He scowled and moved on, but sneered over his shoulder. I hoped he hadn’t put a curse on us.

Except for few citizens over the age of 40 or 50, most everyone on the street appeared to be under 25 or 30.
~ * ~

Next on November 14th, Shanghai, Day 11, Part 6 – Dinner and a Show

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2014 All Right Reserved TAK