How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


#BlogBattle 7 – Prompt: Shine

Find the Rules at Rachael Ritchie’s blog:

Genre:  Folklore

Prompt:  Shine

Words: 700

See No Evil

COUNTRY LIVING HELD NO INTEREST FOR ZELDA, but she changed her mind after meeting Harvey. A red-haired free spirit, she jumped at the chance to attend a party with the well-to-do stranger. Well, they had crashed grocery carts and he apologized by buying her a coffee. Now, the idea was nothing but hard work.

No rain for months, dust stole inside though Zelda had wound the windows tight. Lost was not a place she liked. The gasoline level in the Dodge Dart hovered around a quarter tank. Where was that fancy house Harvey said to meet him at the party?

A thermos empty of water lay on the passenger’s side of the car’s bench seat. Her small purse leaned against it. A white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel numbed her hands but she paid no attention. Where were the farmers or cows?  The only living creatures soared overhead. What were they? Buzzards? No, not large enough. Crows? Why so many and nothing else around?

Zelda passed a dilapidated shack. Hope flared. She slowed. Nobody. Nothing moved in the crushing heat. Parched and sweating, she swallowed to work up saliva without success. The crows swarmed lower, beady eyes scanning the interior of the car as if on a mission.


An enormous lump in her throat brought tears to her eyes. She unpeeled her grasp on the steering wheel and pounded it with the heel of her palm. Had she taken the wrong country road? What if she ran out of gas? A mere three or four hours of daylight remained. What if the crows surrounded her car? Creepy.

Like a shimmering mirage, women in long summer gowns dotted an expanse of velvet green lawn straight ahead. Men in black ties and fancy suits bent an ear to them, swirling filled glasses. A smile as broad as Saturday night replaced Zelda’s earlier sagged cheeks. A Victorian-themed party.

Zelda beeped the horn and turned into the long drive. No one took notice. Puzzled she beeped again, catching a glimpse of her glistening forehead and frizzy hair. She drove to the back of the mansion. Where were the cars? Too hot to think, she snatched the white purse and headed to the trunk for her luggage. “Whoa.”

A David Niven character studied her movements as if memorizing each one. Hands deep in his pockets, his eyes were sharp as a bird’s.

“Harvey. That you? Thought I’d taken a wrong turn. What is this place? Where are the other houses?”

Knees limp as cooked noodles, she remembered his slow smile from the one other time they had met. He snatched her bag. “Come. It’s cooler inside. Freshen up and we’ll dance your cares away.”

And how they danced, he the perfect partner, self-assured and charming. She did not remember how the night ended.

~ ~ ~


By morning, the air had cooled. Zelda’s body ached in all the wrong places. The urge to stretch overcame her before she opened her eyes. She screamed but what came out was the yowl of an angry cat. She noted with horror how she itched from the scratchy grass where she had slept. Outside? In the grass? A compulsion to groom gripped her. She choked on her own black fur. Fur? But it does shine. I’ve gone mad, haven’t I? Where is the mansion?

The rattles and clicks of a hundred crows swooping and calling to each other broke the silence. To the uninitiated ear, it sounded like raucous laughter over a private joke. One called to another and they plunged like bullets for the skulking black cat in the overgrown field.

“Zelda. Come back. Has no one told you the love of money is the root of all evil?”


A mansion had existed one hundred years before. One sad night a meeting of magicians had pushed their luck too far. Someone changed a famous woman named Lady Noir to a black cat and no one knew how to change her back. The magicians dispersed. When asked, they had no knowledge of the lady’s whereabouts.

Every summer afterward, a handsome man invited an attractive woman to a party where the mansion once stood and she too disappeared.


© 2017 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles

Images courtesy of Pixabay


My FIFTH Blogoversary Gala

Join in. All welcome. There’s plenty for everyone. Make yourselves comfortable; a server will hand you a glass of champagne in a second.

drink-730450_960_720 5thBlogoversary

Blogging friends, neighbors, countrymen…

I’ve enjoyed FIVE fabulous years with you, far beyond anything I might have imagined. Some friendships have stuck from the beginning. Wow! Five years. Who would have thought? Not me. Without YOU to read,  comment, and share, I would not be here now.

Many, many thanks for your help, support, and stories shared. I’ve learned new things from each of you and am grateful for the community spirit here. How dare anyone whisper bloggers are not real people. You are all real to ME and I am grateful for your friendships.

* * *

I have another announcement.

School’s out. My grand kids need me and I won’t fib. I also have a pile of unfinished writing I need to attend to and hope to take care of both. See you in September? Have a wonderful summer!  Mw-aah.  XX

I will still be available to anyone with whom I’ve made previous arrangements. and can still  be reached through my  Contact tab—especially if I should I win a lottery.

Comments are currently turned off. Sorry.

Happy 4th of July to my American friends, Monday!


#BlogBattle Week 45 – Prompt: Dive

To join  and / or meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:


  1. 1000 wordsmax
  2. fictionaltale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG(no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered aroundthe theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainmentvalue!
  6. State the Genre of your storyat 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!

Each winner will receive the awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage.




An unusual number of parked cars clogged the street in front of her apartment. Sandy grumbled and turned left twice to the underground garage, at the back of the building. She reached for the remote but it wasn’t on the visor. “Where the…?” An impatient car horn sounded behind her and inched forward closer. She tapped her horn back at him. Wait. The driver laid on the horn again like there was a fire.

Though early spring and breezy, Sandy’s armpits soaked through her light jacket. Blinking in concentration, she pawed the passenger seat, in the crevices, and on the floor. No luck. Her head snapped at the thump on her driver’s window unable to identify the face bent towards her.

“Open the window.” A man’s voice growled the words, and pixel by pixel, she discerned a human face: short clipped beard, mustache, angry brown eyes, nose skimming the glass. “Well?”

She snapped into action and cranked the handle a couple times. “Sorry. I’ve misplaced my remote. Let me in with yours and I’ll be out of your hair.” She wound up the window, forced a smile and set her hands on the steering wheel. Eyes bulging, he threw his hands into the air. Muttering something colorful, he slapped the window again, and stomped off. Heart racing like a thundering locomotive, her focus on the garage door, Sandy gripped the steering wheel. The double-door creaked and yawned open. Without skipping a beat, she lurched forward and around the corner to her designated spot.

Parked, then out in a flash, she noted the remote on the floor on the driver’s side. She dashed towards the trunk, grabbed her parcels and raced to the elevator. She did not intend to share the pleasure of his company in such a cramped space. Before the door slid shut, a hand plunged to the button on the wall outside without success. Muscles tense and rigid, Sandy shrieked and watched the door slip to its final destination. “Yes!”

The elevator stopped on the third floor. Sandy grasped the handles on her shopping bags and backed into a corner. Old Ma Murphy, as the the tenants called her, tapped her way into the elevator, the splitting image of the famous Einstein. “Hello, dear. Don’t you look a fright. Everything okay?”

Sandy raised a clutch of bag handles to her chest and exhaled. “Sure. I’m good. Had a tense moment with a nasty driver.”

“One reason why I never took up driving, especially these days.” The door creaked shut an inch from Ma Murphy’s behind. She poked her cane at the scruffy carpet. “Mrs. Swain is home from hospital. In need of pleasant company, she said. Going to make her tea.”

Sandy glanced at the red floor numbers. Creak. Creak. They stopped on five. Old Ma Murphy pointed the stick at her packages. “Ever wonder if you spend too much money on nonsense?”  She said, “Tsk-tsk,” circled round and shuffled out, shaking her head. “Young people these days.” The door scraped to a close and rocked upward taking its sweet time to the 11th floor.

Her floor was empty.  Already smells of early suppers cooking reminded her she’d forgotten lunch. Dropping the bags in front of 1105, Sandy fished for keys in her purse. She came up empty. This isn’t happening. It’s not happening. Hairline damp, she stamped her foot and tried again. Teeth clenched, fingers fumbled and clawed. They closed around the key ring. A door slammed in the hall, but she didn’t look up. Instead, she stabbed the lock and pushed the door with more force than intended.

Inside, she leaned against the closed door, eyes and ears on alert. Something odd hung in the air. A sixth sense held her back, wary. There couldn’t be anyone else in the apartment. She’d made enough noise to wake up the dead, hadn’t she?

The kitchen on her right, she tiptoed inside. No one and nothing. Why is it, she wondered, when you think an intruder might be in your house you don’t run for help? Instead, you choke on your heart, crossing fingers no one’s there. She grabbed the meat cleaver off the counter and almost called out, ‘Is someone here?’ Stupid question. Would an intruder answer, ‘Yes, me, the intruder.’ Living- and dining-rooms clear. Nothing worth stealing anyway.

Short of collapsing from tension, Sandy crept down the hallway. Had she shut the bedroom door before going out? She turned the knob with exquisite care, and pushed in the door, not allowing it to slam. The hair on the back of her neck prickled. One door left: the bathroom. She listened. Not a sound. A strong aroma of orange blossom bubble bath enveloped her.

Beyond terror now, Sandy wrenched the door open. A body took a dive beneath the bubbles, red-painted toenails trailed in the air. She’d recognize them anywhere.

“Clarisse. What are you doing here?” Hand thrust in the water, she shoved the head down, panting and collapsed on the floor. “How’d you get in?”

The body popped up, short hair clinging to scalp and face, gasping for air. A pale hand swept across her eyes and over her forehead, teeth gleaming like piano keys. “What a way to greet your little sister. Don’t you check your texts? We’re celebrating your promotion.”

“How’d you get in?”

“You gave me a key, silly.” Clarisse arched ink-black brows and rolled her eyes. “I buzzed and buzzed until a cute guy with a beard and mustache let me in.”

Sandy dropped the cleaver and covered her face. “You almost gave me a stroke.”

“Drama queen. Out—and then it’s your turn. We have a double date tonight.”

“Who? Not…”

Clarisse wiggled wet eyebrows.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


Blog Friends, Neighbors and Countrymen

Due to extenuating circumstances (unexpected family and social obligations: i.e. life in the fast lane), I haven’t had enough time to visit you all more often.

November, I spent writing with furious diligence, while  life around me came to a standstill. Still appointments and family visits continue to take much of my time this month. Off and on holiday entertaining and a visit to the west coast for a sister’s 60th birthday also loom large.

When time permits, I shall flit in and out and can’t wait till my schedule isn’t hampered by all these commitments. You’re always on the edge of my mind. I have not forgotten you and miss you and our daily banter.



100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week 151

To find out more about this challenge, click below:

The prompt this week is: …Pink…  + 100 words


The Pink One

“I don’t like this dress!” Like liquid diamonds, huge tears slid down Susanna’s plump cheeks.

“Do you like the Cinderella dress?”

“Yes. Is bootiful”

“Is it the same color as the dress you don’t like?”

“Y-es? I wear it to party?”

“No. This is a birthday party not a princess party.”

The five-year-old’s mouth puckered. “I wanna wear the pink one. It’s girlie-girl. It make circles when I go round and round.”

“Honey, it’s too small now.

“I not going.”

“And miss cake and ice-cream with your friends?”

Her eyes lit up. “Maybe princess dress?”


Sigh. “Okay. I wear it.”


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


#BlogBattle Week 7 – Theme: Cosmic

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.

The originator is here.

Cosmic Neglect

Lights blazed through every window, but there was no party. No music blared; no glasses clinked; no voices droned over each other. No car in the driveway and no garage to hide it. Julie’s father had offered to drive her but it was 1963 and the town was small. Julie arrived on her bicycle. She jumped off and leaned it against the house. Crickets asleep; the silence grew.

A boy across the street called out into the balmy June night. “Hey, are you the babysitter?” An eight- or nine-year-old criss-crossed the road and climbed the driveway, copper hair and freckles warmed by the street light overhead.


“I live here.” An impish grin washed over his face. Julie’s mouth dropped. “My name’s David.” He held out his hand.

“Where are your parents?”

“Gone a couple hours ago. Come on. My sister and the baby are inside.”

“It’s after eleven. Where have you been?”

“Went to see my pal for a minute, over there.”

He dashed ahead, up three cement steps, across the veranda, and swung the screen door open with a flourish. “That’s my sister, Karen. She’s six.”

“Nice to meet you. Why aren’t you in bed?”

“I waited for you,” the girl said, eyelids drooping.

Julie kneaded her forehead and surveyed the kitchen. Not too messy. “You said something about a baby?” She shut and locked the wooden front door.

“Come on, I’ll show you.” The three traipsed down the hall to the parents’ bedroom. The reek of stale pee hung to the air like a blinding fog. Julie’s world shifted. The baby’s been drenched for hours. What have I walked into? Everything is wrong here—it’s cosmic neglect. What if I hadn’t shown up?

“Get ready for bed, you two. I’ll check on you in a minute. Where are the diapers and the linen closet?” The baby fussed but didn’t waken as she washed and changed her—an angel of a girl—probably less than a year old. The runny nose might be teething.

The children in bed and fast asleep, Julie called and woke her mother though it was long after midnight. She needed to talk to a rational human being.


To think she’d considered not showing up. After all, the Swaines didn’t know her. Claudia had talked her into this. Set. Her. Up. With too many babysitting requests, sometimes two sets of parents begged her to cancel the other. Julie had heard of her bidding wars. Either Claudia had a date tonight or a better paying job.

The desperate phone call had come the night before.

“Wanna make some money this weekend?”

“What day?”

“Friday night to Sunday.”

“I’m going to the high-school dance Friday.”

“You’ll just sit there like a wallflower like you always do. Take the job.”

“No, I’m going.”

“I figured as much. Look, I already asked Mrs. Swaine. How about you babysit after the dance?”

“Really? What time are they leaving?”

“When you get there she said so. They have tickets and a hotel room booked and can’t cancel at the last minute.”

Julie swept her shoulder length hair into a ponytail and bound it with a dime-store elastic band. Meanwhile she blew a giant Double Bubble, which collapsed and deflated on her nose. “Okay after the dance, eleven o’clock. I don’t know how you talk me into these things.”


The children behaved better than most. Could they make cookies? Julie said no, but Karen showed her the frozen kind in the freezer you cut and bake. David complained of boredom and begged to visit his friend across the street. The baby coughed now and again and frazzled Julie. She concocted breakfast, lunch and dinner from meagre supplies. The day over at last, the children enjoyed the slumber of innocents. As the previous night, she made her bed on the sofa, but though exhausted, sleep wouldn’t come. What if the Swaines don’t come back tomorrow?

The words ricocheted in her head all day from the moment the baby woke her the next morning. Their pinging blossomed into a headache.

“When are Mommy and Daddy coming home?” Karen asked at lunch, cheeks bruised with color. David glanced at his sister but didn’t comment.

After supper, a new intensity swept through the house. High heels clacked on the kitchen floor. The Swaines had returned. Julie’s heart leapt. She sprang from the sofa where she’d been reading The Velveteen Rabbit to the siblings.

“There you are.” A tall blonde in a knit skirt and sweater set floated in on a cloud of expensive perfume, a hand probing in her purse. She withdrew a twenty dollar bill and thrust it at Julie.

Julie gawked at the money, then at Mrs. Swaine who tapped her high-heeled shoe.

“You slept here didn’t you, and ate my food. I think this is just right.”

Julie backed away, eyes twice their normal size, a horrified howl stuck in her throat. “No thanks.” Her voice came out scratchy as sandpaper.

“Go on. Take it. I guess you earned it—didn’t you?”

Yeah, I showed up—I showed up—and where were you? You were supposed to wait. She stepped back and shook her head. “I don’t want your money.”

“Babysitter will you come again next time?” Karen asked with a lisp.

Julie caressed the little girl’s hot cheek. “The baby’s fed, bathed and asleep for the night. Did you know she has a cold? David and Karen have eaten.” Brother and sister held hands and appeared confused. “Bye kids. Nice meeting you.” With a sharp wave she spun on her heel and rushed for the door colliding with a man toting a bulging suitcase. The last words she heard were Mrs. Swaine’s. “What’s wrong with her?”


© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumble


100-word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #169

To join, click below:

The prompt this week is:  …so what time did you say it was?… + 100 words


Pressure Cooker


“Good. You’re home. Fix me a martini, Sweetie?”

“Frazzled, are we?” Gerald gazed at the kitchen clutter. “What’s all this?”

Pink-faced, Suzanne spun her wooden spoon mid-air. “What’s it look like, genius? Dinner.”


“Glasses in the freezer, vermouth—fridge. Vod—”

“Alright already.”

“What time is it?”

“Six ten. Why?”

Check. Check. Oh-no. The roast’s not in the oven!”

“Here. Sip. Don’t guzzle—sip.”

“So what time did you say it was?”

“Six eleven.”

“Get the pressure cooker, quick.”


“Relax? The McKinleys are coming for seven.”

Gerald checked the wall-calendar and burst out laughing. “McKinleys are next Saturday. The Petersons are tonight.”

“Oh-no. Wrong menu!”


© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


Part 2 to last week’s Tailspin will be published tomorrow (Wednesday).


100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #168

To join in, click below:

 This week’s prompt is …the blue was sapphire… + 100 words



Drink in hand, I skimmed the room. Lights blazed, children squealed, and the discordant orchestra tuned up. Receptions are boring without a date.

A commotion caught my attention. Upswept copper curls bobbed through the crowd. A pale cerulean gown, delicate as angels’ breath, floated towards me. The exquisite creature peered up brows raised, her eyes—the blue was sapphire—like the gem… “Can I help you?” My voice cracked.

“Get me out of here, please?” She drifted forward. Like a puppy after a treat, I loped behind her. The night might not be a complete waste.

“Where to?”

“A drive maybe?”

“Husband problems?”



© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


Goodbye 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, I’m astonished how fast it’s raced by. I say something similar every year, but each draws to a close a little bit faster than its predecessor. Is it just me?

About Me:

This past year, I’ve had the best experiences, met many wonderful people in real life and in the Blogging World and have developed amazing friendships. A little over three years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined how much some acquaintances could mean to me and have great hope for others.

Through a huge quirk over a year ago, a friend mentioned she wanted to travel again but couldn’t go alone. “Where would you like to go?” I asked.

“I’ve been to Europe and back. I’d like to go to Australia.”

“I’ll go with you,” said a small voice. I looked around. There were only we two having coffee.

I was more surprised than she. As soon as the words popped out of my mouth, why not, I wondered? Traveling hadn’t appealed to me for almost 20 years. I now had the itch in a moment. Bad. While checking out tours, we came across an unbelievable package deal for China. As soon as the travel agent assured us everything’s copacetic, I couldn’t wait to go. Me. I traveled to China for 24 days. You can’t believe the miles we covered and  the places we visited. Yes. Me. 


WordPress World:

This year I’ve discovered a virtual water-cooler in the blogosphere. Have you met Christ Graham at Book promos, writing tips, marketing know-how, posting guests gather around and are exchanged here. You won’t meet anyone more helpful than  The Story Reading Ape in promoting your work.

Want to stay on top of health, nutrition, food safety, food pharmacy, pet health and much more? They’re all accessible at Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life. Come meet Sally Cronin. I call this party central because it’s a happening place. Really.

I discovered another interesting blog this past year at I’m pleased to say she is a Canadian, like me. On Mondays she writes about her author journey and on Fridays, she publishes guest posts by publishing industry professionals.

I’ve encountered many interesting and varied blogs and bloggers. Though I want to introduce them all to you, I’ve chosen three of the most diverse from this year.

2014 Ends

Thank you to all who have supported me, followed my posts, read and / or commented—especially on my China trip. I am more grateful for your friendships than you’ll know. How I managed to cross paths with so many wonderful and interesting people, I’ll never know. I wanted to meet like-minded people and I lucked out.

Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year from my house to yours. I shall be away until January 2nd.  Should time permit, I’ll sneak in for a peek. It IS indeed hard unplugging and I’ll miss you. A China post will be up as usual on the 26th.

Tomorrow we’re preparing for 40+ visitors. There’s lots to do before then. Bye till 2015. Mwah.