How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week 155

This challenge is open to everyone. Check out the rules below:

This week’s prompt:  … as time passes… + 100 words


Another Broken Heart

Samantha’s mother held her hand, breathed deep.

“My Granny Gracie prayed with each phone call and mail delivery. The letter arrived with good news five years too late.”

“What happened to her, Mom?”

“She died of a broken heart. Granny held on till the letter’s arrival, but she already lay at death’s door. For some, as time passes, love fades like a summer rose, but not for her.”

“Where had great grandpa gone so long?”

“They thought he’d drowned on the Titanic, but he’d sustained a brain injury and suffered with amnesia for years. Her funeral almost finished him.”

“Another broken heart.”


The End


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




#BlogBattle Week 9

Rachael Ritchey is the originator of this challenge

The prompt is …bun…

To join in click:


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

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 weren’t due until seven, she had time to change her planned dessert. I should bake something special tonight, but what?

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 pat. 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 caressed her temples, covering 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 inserting an earring on the way. Arms outstretched, she rushed to embrace him.

“George, darling.”

He let out a bark of laughter, eyes aglow with surprise, and caught her in his arms.


At 6:51 p.m., the doorbell chimed. “I’ll bet my favorite shoes that’s my mom and dad. 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, who had been blessed with a head of dense cloud-white hair. Before he’d dispensed with their coats, the doorbell announced another arrival. “Mom. Dad. Come in.”

Sylvie tossed her apron on a kitchen chair and joined them, waving them into the Great Room. The still bare fields and garden were spectacular through the entire outside wall of 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. “Same as usual for everyone?” Nods and echoes of agreement ensued. The grandparents settled into their established seats. The women sank into the sofa facing the garden and the men into Easy Boys across from them, foot rests raised 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 grandmothers clinked glasses.

“Excuse me one moment.” George disappeared around the corner. Upon his immediate return, Sylvie sprang from the hard-backed chair of choice 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? Her step-father 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 both stared at Sylvie.

“I said, look what I found in the oven.” George grinned from ear to ear tipping the plate several degrees.

His father scratched his chin, wiry salt and pepper eyebrows squished together. 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 grandmothers gaped at each other, then back at their children while their spouses sat perplexed.

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

“How do you feel about this, Sylvie?” Her mother leaned forward, blinking, voice soft and hesitant.

“Mom, I’m fine—ecstatic. Aren’t we, George?” He nodded and they rocked side to side in unison.

“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 forehead. “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.

Both grandmothers shook their heads and heaved themselves off the sofa to join the hugathon. “So, it’s like starting all over again,” said her mother to Grandma Miller.

George’s deaf step-father scrambled out of the chair and raised his glass. “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.”

They all roared with laughter. He joined in too though he still appeared confused.


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


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


100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #142

To join in the fun


This week’s prompt is  do you have to make that noise+ 100 words



“Newcomer neighbors. I’ve enough!” Lizzie stomped to the door in pink terry housecoat and slippers. She grabbed the broom from the closet and snickered. What good is this?

She slammed her apartment door hard and something splintered. Doors behind her burst open; cold-creamed seniors gaped. She pounded her neighbor’s door, stepped back and bristled, rubbing tender knuckles. No response. She whacked again with the broom handle. The door cracked open.

“Do you have to make that noise? I’m trying to sleep.”

“What? Sorry.”

“The party—kill it.”

“No party. Granny couldn’t sleep. We’re watching Woodstock documentaries.”

“Quiet down. Give her brandy instead.”

“Join us?”

“You have brandy?”


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:


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.


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.


Flash in the Pan – Backward

Annabeth crossed impatient arms, apple cheeks drawn-out. “I can do it myself.” At five, she knew everything. She had the fashion sense of a diva, and precise ideals. Her trademark: blonde hair cut short at the back and longer at the sides. At the moment, it rose like a tangled mulberry bush.

“Grandma, I’m coming in a minute.”

“You’ve overslept. Mommy will be home for lunch soon and you haven’t even had breakfast.”

“I know that.”


“Mommy, Mommy.”

Hugs and kisses ensued; the dog barked.

“Come, Grandma’s set out lunch.”

“I didn’t eat breakfast yet.”

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

“That’s okay. I won’t tell.”

Annabeth giggled into her cupped hands. “That’s backward. Breakfast comes first.”

“Fine. Have cereal then.”


“See you later. Eat up or no snacks until supper.”

She nodded. Candid blue eyes blinked once.


“Grandma, I’m hungry.”

“What did Mommy tell you?”

“It’s not me. It’s my stomach. It wants food.”

~ * ~

The word limit for Backward is 150 words. I used all 150.

For the rules to join the New Summer Quarter of Flash in the Pan, check out:


Freedom Daze

Both grandkids are in school all day as of this week. The younger one is in Grade One now.

All summer as I babysat, I felt I accomplished nothing and began to dream about this fall. The extra time I’d have to myself had me levitating. Lunch or coffee with friends any time I want as long as I’m at the bus stop when school’s out.

So far, this week’s been a mirage. Monday was a holiday; Tuesday, the first day back to school. Wednesday was my bookstore shift. I had a meeting Thursday and had to rush for the bus. That was the same day my dental office called to change next week’s appointment to Friday (today) at 9:00 a.m.  Of course the school bus was late this morning, as was I. Then, the dentist pulled a White Rabbit act from Alice in Wonderland.

Hurry up and wait.

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

I finally straightened up my house for my granddaughter’s sixth birthday this past Sunday. I hadn’t noticed the accumulation of books, notebooks and paper. Mountains of the written word everywhere: on end tables, on my small writing desk in the kitchen, the coffee table and all over my eight-foot dining-room table. I promised I’d tackle the job this week with all the extra time I’d have. I planned to file and trash. I’ve managed none of the above.

Who was I kidding? Have I begun to knock down Paper Mountains and de-clutter piles of junk? Not yet. I’m still having trouble resurrecting my hidden treasures in preparation for the birthday party.

This is a new week. What have I accomplished today? I read blogs and commented. That’s my full-time job now. Oh, I managed to make two pots of coffee and grabbed some lunch. I didn’t go out but came straight home after my last-minute rendezvous with the tardy dentist.

I haven’t even had time to catch up on any reading all day. I did manage to entertain Lady Gaga, my cat, when she insisted on my attention. We played peek-a-boo for which she has an extraordinary fondness. And she likes me. How could I refuse when she sprinted onto my lap and pressed her check against mine, inviting a hug?  I adore my little fur-ball so we sat and mused together for a while.

This buzz of freedom might not look any different than it did before both grandchildren were in school. Even if I don’t accomplish any more than a hill of beans with this extra time, maybe I won’t feel so whacked at the end of the day. I must reserve energy for more than going cross-eyed reading posts all day. Maybe I’ll accomplish something for a change: finish projects, read a book, write something interesting.

For the past seven years since I retired, the hours in my day are shorter than ever and it’s not because I have time to nap.


Flash in the Pan – Regress

“Sorry I’m late, Mom. How’s my baby today?”

“Great mood and dry. Mind if I rush to the store before it closes?”

Ellen nodded. “I’ll get Lulu ready.”

“My big girl went potty for grandma today.” Boisterous smooches greeted her.


Copyright Free Public Domain

Copyright Free Public Domain

“Back so soon? You look frazzled.”


“What’s all this stuff?”

“Ellen, don’t—”

“These aren’t Lulu’s…”

Her mother’s face blanched, then blazed scarlet. My life has begun to regress to that of a child. 

~ * ~

The word limit for Regress is 75 words. I used all of them.

For the rules to join the New Summer Quarter of Flash in the Pan, check out: