How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


#BlogBattle 6 – Prompt: Cowboy

Find the Rules at Rachael Ritchie’s blog:

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Prompt:  Cowboy

Words: 990

The Devil is in the Details

Anita picked up the cordless and counted down the speed-dial list with a finger. No wooing, nor scheming, nor monetary enticements had worked. She had made the effort each time with high hopes. Nothing had changed in five years. She drew in an unsteady breath. The phone chirped in her ear. Once. Twice. And again. A tired female voice answered.


“Hello, Grandma, that you?”

I’m not your grandma, darnit. Simmer down, Anita. She rolled her shoulders and pasted a smile on her face. Everyone knew a smile traveled through the telephone and out the other end. “That you, Sylvia? How are you? How are the boys? What about Emma?” Her face hurt but she maintained the smile though her jaw quivered and her eyes leaked.

A pause and an impatient sigh. “Everyone is fine. To what do I owe the pleasure of your call?”

“You’ve been on my mind. Miss the kids like crazy.” Anita bit her lip. There, I’ve said it. “Haven’t heard from them in ages. Something wrong with your Skype? I guess everyone has things to do and places to go.”

“Grandma, they’re busy with homework, baseball, and ballet. You know how it is.” A door slammed. Rowdy arguing followed; a girl’s shrill voice sliced through her brothers’ booming power struggle. The sounds muffled a moment. “Quiet. Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” A muffled drone filled Anita’s ear, then the sound of footsteps clomping on ceramic.

“Are you there, Sylvia? Can I talk to Emma… please?” Anita’s heart thrummed. How can she refuse? I know Emma’s there.

“It’s just—alright but make it quick. She has ballet in a few minutes.”

“Before you go, I have an idea. It’s been so long, I thought I’d come up to see you all for a couple days. Save you fare and travel time. Don’t want to be any trouble. I’ll stay in a hotel. How about it?” She ran a sleeve over her eyes, the smile cemented in place.

“I’ll have to talk to Phil. See what his plans are.”

“I don’t mind staying with the kids, if you have special plans—save you a babysitter.”

In the silent pause, Anita pictured her daughter-in-law’s eyes roll. “They’re teenagers and Emma is ten now. Here she is.” A hushed drone and a young voice gushed through the miles between them. “Hi, Grandma. How are you? I miss you.”

“Bless your heart. I miss you too, and your sweet face. We haven’t Skyped for months. How about this weekend?”

“Maybe. Gotta go, Grandma. Mom’s waving her car keys at me.”

* * *

“She offered to visit again, Phil. I can’t manage it: me working, you never home, the kids with their lessons and friends.” Sylvia paced before her husband, each point punched onto the pads of her fingers with a lacquered nail.

Her husband threw his arms in the air. “What do you want from me? The guilt of turning her down is killing me. Guilt over making extra work for you is too. Can’t keep putting her off forever. Figure something out that works. Get it over with, okay?”

“She’s your mother and a lonely old woman. I’m not up to playing nursemaid. I work all day, too, and have a household to run. Will you at least be around to help out?”

Phil pulled out a chair. “Sit. You’re making me dizzy.” Hands shoved in his pockets, he paced.

* * *

Separated from foot traffic, a bird of a woman sat in a wheelchair. Dark, wraparound glasses too large for her, covered half her small face. She clasped a red carry-on on her lap. The airport attendant behind her held up a sign with two words: Anita Martin. Phil rushed through the Arrivals door, his wife took her time behind him.


“Mother? Are you all right?” Sylvia crashed into him at his abrupt stop. The attendant nodded and melted into the crowd.

“I’d recognized that voice anywhere.” Anita raised a hand for a shake. “That you, Sylvia? Good to see you both. You still have those cowboy boots you bought in Texas. The hesitation of your left foot since you busted your knee in football has always been a dead giveaway.”

“What’s with the chair, Mom.”

“Those are some ugly glasses, Grandma.” Sylvia made a face. She always spoke before thinking.

His mother-in-law ignored the affront, offering a weak smile instead. “It’s a long walk in today’s airports, sonny.”

“Gotcha. So… are you walking or riding?”

“Riding if you don’t mind. Too many people around and I’m slowing down these days.”

“You’ve lost weight haven’t you, Grandma? You’re not sick, or anything?” Sylvia studied her mother-in-law’s slight frame with a frown.

Anita clenched her teeth. “Don’t you worry about me. Let’s roll, sonny. Can’t wait to see Emma and the boys. Will they have classes tonight?” Leaning forward, she pursed her lips and hugged the case in her lap closer. “I can’t believe I’m here. The flight attendants took good care of me. Did you know they don’t serve free meals anymore?”

* * *

A supporting arm beneath his mother’s elbow, Phil guided her through the open door Sylvia had keyed open.

‘Powder room, Grandma?”

“Call me Anita. Please. Your timing is wonderful. Where…?”

“Around the corner and down the hall, first door to your right.”

The older woman toddled forward, a hand on the wall as if for support. Sylvia watched and sucked her teeth. She elbowed her husband’s ribs. “Something’s wrong with her eyes.”

“She’s fine. Just tired and shaky after the flight.”

“I believe she’s going blind, Phil. We’ll be stuck with her forever now.”

“Hush. If that’s true, we have to do right by her.”

Sylvia’s jaw dropped.

“Your mom and dad have each other. She can’t live alone—and so far away.”


“She’s my mom, Syl. Oh my god. It just hit me. Being an only child is a curse.”

The End

© 2017 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles

Images courtesy of Pixabay


#BlogBattle Week 53 – Bun

To celebrate, the one-year anniversary of #BlogBattle we will not be writing a new story for the battle. For Week 53, Rachel at  has suggested the following:

  1. Choose one of your #BlogBattle stories from the past year
  2. Edit it however you would like
  3. Reblog/repost it next week on Tuesday, March 15th.
  4. Make sure you specify the genre and the theme word

Voting will be done from the compilation of awesome stories presented!

Genre: Humor

Theme Word: Bun




Clunk. Sylvie plonked the groceries on the floor by the front door. Shrugging off her coat in a rush, she headed to the kitchen. Halfway, she made an about face, hung her coat in the closet and grabbed her shopping bags.

Her cell spun on the counter, but she ignored it while it vibrated in circles. Purchases stored, she put on the kettle and dropped into a kitchen chair. The Thompsons and Millers were due at seven; she had time to change her planned dessert. What shall I bake special for tonight?

The kettle clicked off. She sighed and rose to make tea. The aroma of herbed roast beef filled the kitchen. Mr. Crockpot, her ever-faithful helper, hard at work again. She peeked through the glass lid and gave it a loving tap. Okay, five minutes—maybe ten—and I’m off to set the table.


Half an hour later Sylvie laid out fresh clothes and headed to the shower. She frowned into the mirror, turned this way and that, smoothed faint lines around her eyes and stroked her temples, caressing hints of gray threaded through mousey brown hair. Time for a color. Forty-one in a month. Imagine… Stop!

As always, the front door clicked open and slammed shut at exactly six o’clock. Sylvie smiled and rushed down the hall to meet her husband while inserting an earring. Arms outstretched, she rushed to embrace him.

“George, darling.”

Eyes aglow with pleasure, he let out a bark of laughter, caught her in his arms, and spun them around a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.


At 6:51 p.m., the doorbell chimed. “I’ll bet my favorite shoes that’s my mom and stepdad. Always first. Always early.” Sylvie arranged pots on the stove in readiness for turning on during cocktails.

“Mom and Dad Thompson. Come in, come in.” George kissed his mother-in-law’s powdered cheek and shook hands with her new husband, the lucky owner of dense cloud-white hair. “Welcome to our home, Frank.” Before he dispensed with their coats, the doorbell announced another arrival. “Mom. Dad. Come in.”

Sylvie tossed her apron into a kitchen chair and joined the families, waving them into the Great Room. The still bare fields and garden were spectacular through the wall of unadorned plate glass windows.

“How are the twins doing at university?” her mother asked.

“They’ll be finished in less than two months and have to face the real world,” George said, a faraway look in his eyes. “How about drinks?” He rubbed his hands with zest. “The usual for everyone?” Nods and echoes of agreement ensued. “What will you have Frank?”

“What?” George made a drinking motion. “Whiskey, neat.” He looked about not knowing the routine.

The parents settled into their established seats. The women sank into the sofa facing the garden and the men into La-Z-boys across from them, footrests popped up at once.

General greetings exchanged, George delivered drinks on a tray and raised his glass. “A toast to our health at this happy gathering.” Glasses extended, nodding and hear-hears resonated around the room. The seats too far apart, only the mothers clinked glasses.

“Excuse me, one moment.” George disappeared around the corner. Upon his instant return, Sylvie sprang from her chosen hard-backed chair and exchanged a glance with her husband. He presented a white plate to the room. “Look what came out of the oven.”

“What’s this about done? Gun? What did he say? His new stepfather cupped a hand to his ear and squinted at his wife.

“He said nothing of the sort,” she said, eyes twice their usual size. One hand grazed Mrs. Miller’s lap. They gawked at each other, then at Sylvie.

“I said, look what I found in the oven.” George grinned wide. The tip of his ears crimson tinged, he tipped the plate several degrees.

His father scratched his chin, wiry salt and pepper eyebrows squished to attention over his nose. He studied the faces around him. “So?”

George set the plate on the coffee table and wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist. They grinned like children with a secret. Sylvie leaned her head back against his shoulder. Both mothers gaped at each other, their husbands, then back at the young couple while their spouses sat with mouths flapping.

George’s father shifted in his seat. “Will somebody say something? What in heck’s going on?”

 Blinking, her mother leaned forward, voice soft, hesitant. Cautious. “How do you feel about this, Sylvie?”

“Mom, I’m fine—ecstatic. Aren’t we, George?” He nodded. They rocked side to side, his arms wrapped around her, chin on her shoulder.

“I need another drink.” His father raised an open palm. “No, I’ll fix it myself. Haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”

“Dad,” George said, his voice subdued. “We’re having a baby.”

His father’s brows shot heavenward. “Why didn’t you say so in plain English?” Empty glass in hand, he hugged his son and placed a resounding smooch on his daughter-in-law’s cheek. “Do the boys know? Bet they’re excited.”

“You’re the first to know.” George said. “I only found out an hour ago.” He suppressed a smile in his wife’s hair.

The grandmothers shook their heads and heaved themselves off the sofa to join the hug-a-thon. “It’s like starting all over again,” said her mother to Grandma Miller. “I wouldn’t want to do it.”

George’s deaf stepfather scrambled out of the chair and raised his glass. “I’ll drink to that. What are we celebrating?”

“We have a bun in the oven,” his wife shouted in his ear over the melee.

“We do? Take it out before it burns.”

The room rang with laughter. He joined in too though he still appeared confused.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.
Image Credit: Pixabay. No attribution required.


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:

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



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


100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #152


To join in the fun, click below

Prompt this week: +100 words

100-word Pants and shoes


“You sure, Grandma?”

“It’s all true, Lilly-bit.”

The ten-year-old gawked left, then right. “I don’t know. Sounds like a tall tale.”

“Not at all. It was a ghost on Halloween that did it.”


“The old farmer lived alone. A rowdy ghost came poking around looking for treasure she’d buried. When he investigated, she scared him out of his stiff and grimy pants and shoes.”

“Where’d he go?”

“Whoosh, vanished into thin air.”

“And the lady’s shoes?”

“Don’t need them where ghosts live. Only here.”

“And the treasure?”

“Not sure.”

“How do you know this?”

Grandma’s chin dropped; she grinned.


© 2014 TAK


Can You Handle a Surprise?

February 26th I had the sweet opportunity to attend the launch of Time and Place, a cultural quarterly. Nervous as a cat (cliché, I know, but I was nervous), I swallowed hard and went into neutral mode—think the idling of a car while you wait for a green light. This was a two-fold occasion. I also read a story I’d submitted! Yes, me.

Each submission required the significance of time and place regarding origin of story. (Noted at bottom of page.)

photo (4) Time and Place Cultural Quarterly


It has begun…my worst nightmare. Myrna-Jo Bourke blinks and stares into the gas-lit fireplace. Nail-bitten fingers smooth her creased forehead. She frowns at a rap at the door.

A lanky girl, cinnamon hair streaming, soars through the finished basement to the Easy Boy and her grandmother’s arms. “Why are you sitting in the near dark?” The girl squints and pulls back for a better look. Her small hand brushes the rough cheek. “Grammy, are you okay?”

“Of course, I’m all right.” Myrna-Jo offers a fake smile and plunges closed fists into her lap.

Thin lips clamped, Lilli slips out of the light embrace. “Your cheeks are wet. Why?” Stepping away and examining the room, she flicks on the light switch.

Grammy’s glance drops and rises. The half-lie slips out between wobbly lips. “I’m happy to see you.”

The young girl leans in again and lays a warm satin cheek against her grandmother’s. Arms steal over rounded shoulders and circle her neck. “No-one hugs better than you.” Lilli breathes in the baby-powder scent of her grandmother’s neck, sighs, and tightens her embrace.

“Can I help you?”

Giggles tinkle like tiny crystal wind chimes. “I almost forgot.” Her nose scrunches. “Mum wants you to come to supper Saturday. For your birthday.”

Myrna-Jo’s eyelids flutter. “Birthday?”

“You didn’t forget did you, Grammy? Wait till you open my special surprise.” Lilli rocks on stocking feet, hands twirling at her sides.

“Such excitement over a little birthday…”

“But it’s your seventieth.” Pink-faced, bunched hands rise and slip underneath her chin.

“Seventieth?” The voice cracks. A spotted hand pats the bun. “Seventieth. And you are how old?”

“Stop teasing, Grammy. I’m eleven. Remember the hot pink dress you gave me last August?”

Myrna-Jo’s eyes wander. Time rushes headlong with a mind of its own. If only I could slow its….

Lilli grins. “You’re coming, right?”


“For supper Saturday, didn’t I just say?” She searches the drawn, clouded gaze of the woman in the recliner. “Grammy?”

Eyes dart left and right as the woman claws her throat. “Who’s my most favorite grandchild in the whole wide world?”

“Silly, I’m your only one.” Fidgety, Lilli caresses the cloud-white hair. “What will you wear?”


“I know—your green pantsuit—makes your eyes look like emeralds.”

“Oh… Come and help me dress, will you…?”

“Okay, an hour before supper. Gotta go. Mom is setting the table.” She plants a kiss on the cold cheek and scurries away. At the door, she hesitates. “Grammy?”


“Love you. See-ya-bye.” Slam. Thump. Thump. Thump. She avoids a collision with her mother on the landing.

“There you are. Thought I’d have to come down. Wash up.”

“Mum, is Grammy all right?”

* * *

Myna-Jo listens to chairs scrape overhead and buries her face. How long before I end up like my Aunt Sylvie. Can I lay this burden at my family’s door?

Another glance ceiling-wise, then she gazes into the rhythmic flames as if answers are written there.


A short time ago, while working on another short story, I rummaged around in my head for a particular phrase. My brain refused to cooperate for a moment. Because of my age, this made me wonder about memory / word loss and its beginnings. What happens when you are aware of what’s happening to you? What if you loved writing?This story is the result of those meandering thoughts, somewhat abbreviated due to word limit.


This has been printed with the permission of Ninth Floor Press ISBN 978-0-9919730-0-2

Editor: Ed Shaw. Submissions:


Flash in the Pan – Soldiers

A shoe-box-size package almost tripped him while exiting the front door. The wrapping appeared worn and pre-used. His name and address were scrawled in shaky handwriting. Intrigued, Maximillian dropped his attaché and checked his watch. Ripping the paper, he tipped the tissued innards. Countless soldiers he’d long ago painted with his grandfather tumbled out with a note.

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

Your grandfather is gone. Enjoy with your children. / Grandma Wallace

Tears blinded him, family lineage long-halted by now.

~ * ~

The Winter Quarter of Flash in the Pan is here. The theme: Boys and Their Toys. For the rules and how to join, click:

The word limit for Soldiers is 75 words. I used every last one.


Truth or Dare?

Your baby is sick. Without hint or warning, his or her temperature soars from normal to 103 degrees. Remember the panic, the sense of helplessness?

By the time your child is in grade school, he or she is able to describe what doesn’t feel right. You listen and a solution is thrashed out.

Kids are like sponges. They listen to everything around them and soon learn about symptoms: stuffiness, sore throat, tummy ache. Maybe they heard you tell your spouse how you pulled a fast one at work: you weren’t sick, but certainly not 100 percent either and left early. Little ears hear everything. Their antennae is in high gear even when you think they’re asleep. Some parents believe their children would never pull a fast one.

morgueFile free photos

morgueFile free photos

Here’s a story. The names have been skipped to protect the blameless or not-so-innocent.

Mom is sick all weekend. She spends two days in bed but on Monday morning makes an effort to go to work. One of her kids cries half an hour before school. She doesn’t feel well.

“No, I think you should go to school. You’ve no temperature.” Mom’s voice is stern.

Half an hour after Mom arrives at work and her child arrives at school, the dreaded phone call comes.

“Your child doesn’t feel well. Please arrange to pick her up.”

Enter grandparent. The child is made comfortable, allowed to watch TV but not allowed her iPad. Grandma is busy making pots of soup. The house smells marvelous.

“Is the soup ready yet? Can I have some?”

“Sure. Coming right up.”

The ill child snacks all afternoon, second helpings, lots of crackers and no upset stomach. Hmm…

The next morning, the child says she’s still not well but this isn’t an issue. Minus 40-degree temperatures, with wind chill factored in, have put the kybosh on school attendance. She eats better than usual and looks the picture of health.


How do you handle the slippery slope of separating truth from dare? Do you err on the side of caution? How much? How much would you as a grandparent butt in?

The problem is a kid can become hot / raise his or her temperature when agitated because she believes in what she’s selling. She made up her mind she wants to stay home.


Christmas, Borrowers, and Squirrels

Our traditional Polish celebration called Wigilia has changed since 2010. That year we had a funeral for our Mom on the 24th instead. Since then, we cannot replicate Christmas Eve without her, and I do not want to try. I share a house with my daughter and her family. They live on the main floor and I live in the finished apartment in the basement. We often accommodate large gatherings in my large open space.


This year, our third Christmas Eve without Mum has been the least traditional: an open house instead of a sit-down dinner. About 30 or so family members attended. My family is small, my son-in-law’s is not. The eight-foot table in my dining-room (area) sagged creaking beneath the weight of various finger foods: meat balls, devilled eggs, pizza bites, veggies and dip, turkey and ham cucumber and cream cheese roll-ups, antojitos, veggies and dip, bruschetta, a pickle / olive platter, cheese and kielbasa tray,  cabbage rolls, and pierogi to name a few. Many items didn’t make it to the table; there was too much food. After eats, the Polish kids (six grandchildren) opened gifts with squeals and mumbled thank yous. The rest of the guests watched, intrigued. My family had travelled and hour and a half to attend and the adults exchanged gifts as well, which is the norml on this night anyway. As happens when you have a large crowd of people in one area, various small groups form. Two of my sisters with their husbands and myself hung around the island in the kitchen. Not uncommon in my house, the subject of books came up. My six-year-old granddaughter had been holding court in another part of the room but wandered over to see why we were so excited. She whispered, “Babcia, did you tell them about The Borrowers (I had given the girls a copy a week previous). “Ah…no. You tell them.” “No, you.” “I believe they’d like to hear it from you. It’s your book,” Lily sprinted away. We adults continued our lively discussion about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (by Rebecca Skloot). Lily returned, flashing the heavy book over her head with both hands. “Have you guys read this book about The Borrowers?” The adults stopped and shook their heads. “It’s about tiny people who live under the floor and steal things because they can’t buy them and believe they are borrowing, not stealing.” She handed the book around. The adults oohed and awed. Then, she grabbed it back and disappeared, eyes aglow, pleased she had enlightened the booklovers in the room.


“What just happened?” someone asked. No explanation was necessary though. Everyone knew about our dramatic Lily. As the evening wound down, guests collected their paraphernalia and the room emptied. Lily came back downstairs dragging a green garbage bag. “I came to get my stuff.” I watched her, half-curious. “Why isn’t your sister helping you? That bag looks heavy.” She shrugged and threw the bag over her shoulder, staggering beneath the weight of its contents. “Need some help?” “No, I got it.”

* * *

Before I crashed for the night I’d noticed one of my gifts was missing, a red sweater from one of my sisters. Lily must have squirreled it away in her bag because she found my box in the vicinity of her Christmas stash. What’s hers is hers even when it isn’t because she likes to stockpile her belongings in her bedroom away from prying eyes and roving fingers. That’s our Lily. Do you have any squirrels or borrowers in your family? What event(s) colored your Christmas?


My Hidden Scrooge

December is my least favorite time of year. To-date, I have crammed my freezer with food within a quarter inch of air circulation. The real crazy shopping hasn’t started yet. I’m limbering up for the big ordeal in grocery stores where people don’t usually run you down–almost never.

I don’t bake much these days to avoid yet another cookie slipping past my lips to take up comfortable residence on my hips. Now I bake enough for company and my grandkids and send left-overs home with anyone who will have them. No matter how well I’ve avoided sweets, my hips appear wider and softer, but also stiffer and less cooperative than in the recent past.

Back to my main topic. December isn’t a month with thirty-one days, it’s one long convoluted commercial, drowning out reason. Spend. Spend. Spend. Bloated Christmas lists are written and re-written. All the latest toys are at the top. These are not ‘needs’ but ‘must haves’. Mom and Dad buy every item on the list. Extended family members don’t have access to this stipulated compulsion, and must fend for themselves: more non-essential items; hard-earned dollars wasted. Grandparents are left to give gift certificates. ‘Tis the season for absurd spending.

Cars tailgate each other everywhere, roads and mall parking lots are crammed. Drivers, irate and impatient, circle round like vultures creating a new spot out of necessity. Inside stores, it’s a crash-cart bonanza; no apologies needed. Muttering customers resist eye contact; their mission is of utmost importance; nothing else matters

morguefile free photos

morguefile free photos

Long cash lines creep forward an inch and then another, whether there is room enough or not. Cashiers steal furtive glances at the time and wear pasted smiles. All this anxiety for one marketable day with plans already for another battle Royale come Boxing Day.

I read this morning Black Friday transactions outnumbered brick and mortar stores. Maybe the same will occur for this December’s gluttonous spree.

What’s happened to the true meaning of Christmas? I recall December 25th was about a special birth not a riot of envy to amass a mountain of presents underneath the tree.

In closing, I’d like to tell you a true story I heard some time ago about a different kind of Christmas. Young and old, you will shake your heads and sputter but, but…

A widower had six children of various ages up to fifteen; three girls and three boys. There was no extra money for gifts but the father makes a deal. They will have to do without something else, but they can have one gift. Smiles and elbowing ensue. The desired gift for all six: ice skates. Names go into a hat. Who will win? The pink team or the blue team?

A girl’s name wins the lucky draw. One pair of skates, mid-sized, is promised, which the girl must share as they don’t belong only to her. Next year, it will be the boys’ turn to choose, if the money can be found. They too will share one gift among them.

My heart melts as I watch the wonder in small children’s eyes: the glow of colored lights, the excitement, the anticipation, the innocence. I’m old fashioned enough to wish they would stay that way.

Blissful shopping to all and early Merry Christmas. May your credit cards survive the clink of Cha-ching, cha-ching. 


Is This Gossip?

The following story is true. A six-year-old, Laurie, (not her real name) and an almost ten-year-old, Jenna, (also a fake name) are sisters. The older one lords it over the younger, but Laurie is, well—Laurie.

~ * ~

“It’s true, Jenna. Seriously.” Laurie tucks soft butter-blonde hair behind an ear and twirls hands in the air as she relates her story.

The girls are in the front hall at home. Grandma has just brought them home after school. Big sister sets her jaw and shakes her head. “Are you making this up?”

“No. I am not. Michael told me he’s not coming to our school soon. He’s moving far away.” She bounces back and forth in her stocking feet.

“So where are they moving to?”

Laurie stretches taller and grins as wide as she can. “He’s moving to Toronto.”

“How do you know all this?” Jenna plays with a strand of whiskey-blonde hair, tastes it and studies the wet ends.

“Aren’t you listening, Michael told me. His father gots a new job.”

morgueFile free photos

morgueFile free photos

“When are they moving?”

Laurie waves the air. “I don’t know.”

Jenna sighs. “So, is Michael still your boyfriend?”

“Well…I still love him; he said he doesn’t love mebut he likes my voice.” Blue eyes glow and seek direct contact with her sister’s.

“He told you that?”

“Seriously!” Laurie ups her tone. “I’m not lying.” Both wrists twist at her sides, back and forth in half circles, fingers squirming about. Schoolbags lay dropped on the ceramic floor.


Laurie frowns and tilts her head. “His bother Lucas is in your class, right? Do you love him or something?”

“N-O. Of course not…remember my friend Giada in my class? Her family is going to the Bahamas for ten days. She has to bring homework to do in the hotel room while the rest of them go swimming. That sucks.”

“That’s so not fair. Seriously. ” Fingers churn the air again. “Is she gonna do it?”

Jenna lifts a shoulder and lets it drop. “Come on. We better unpack our lunch bags before Daddy gets home.”

~ * ~

Meanwhile, Grandma eavesdrops around the corner in the kitchen. Her face is blood red and distorted from lack of oxygen. Pffh. She lets out a lungful of air and grabs the counter. A hand is clamped over her mouth to stifle her laughter.