How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


Story in a Flash


Swollen blueberries begged to be plucked only in sporadic patches. Soon Rita stripped all the fruit and wandered away from the railroad tracks in search of more. Birds twittered over each other and heat bugs whirled and clicked fast and loud as if anxious, and stopped—dead quiet. Stilled a moment, they began again. Craving quiet time, Rita had chosen to go picking on her own for the first time. She gazed about the perfect August morning: the sun edged higher,  cloud-stripped, the sky expanded. No humidity pressed against her.

Credit: Microsoft Clipart

Credit: Microsoft Clipart

A magnetic energy pulled her further. Stones and twigs crunched beneath her runners. Tall grass tickled her bare legs. She didn’t give her car a second thought. Amongst the trees, an extraordinary mirage emerged. Streaked crimson ponytail stock-still, Rita crept forward. Charming. Is it real? Her eyes squinted and rounded without her consent. In a compact clearing surrounded by a thicket of trees an enormous barrel lay on its side: weather-beaten and sun-bleached, but solid. She breathed in the fragrant scent of ferns even though the enormous tamarack and stately birch obscured the sun. A smaller than average door graced the barrel’s upright lid. On top, a rusted chimney pipe stuck out like a tired blossom stuck into a hat.

Head tilted, Rita circled the structure and listened. She discovered windows on either side, but too high to peek inside. In the back a drowsy vegetable garden snoozed, plants stretching towards the sun.

Am I dreaming? Rita halted and waited, but for what? Swallowing hard, she gripped her half-filled basket, sidled up to the door and knocked as if afraid to disturb the occupant.

“Hello, is anybody there?” No answer. She waited a beat, turned the knob and peaked inside. Wow—Ohmygawd.

She stepped inside, up onto the wide-planked floor. A shelf-like bed hung supported by chains beneath one window, a thin pillow and blanket in place. Beneath the other window, pressed to the wall and on its side, a large cable spool gleamed in the sunlight. A Tale of Two Cities lay open and face down on top. Impressive. Two thick tree stumps, well sanded, had been hallowed out like club chairs. Against the inside lid at the back of the barrel, hung row upon row of floor-to-ceiling shelving. An assortment of mismatched plates, chipped pots and pans, tattered books, colored stones and woven-grass baskets populated the long planks of wood. A scarred pot-bellied wood-stove stood guard over the humble room, its chimney pipe cold and crooked as a one-legged spider.

“I’m lost and hallucinating.” Rita peered right and left and back once more. The logical thing is to sit and wait. “Whoever lives here must come back—sometime.” She munched on her berries, eyes heavy, and climbed onto the bed. Maybe a nap…

* * *

A dark silhouette crossed to the bed with the stillness of a ghost. “Hmm.” A Cheshire smile widened, eyes hooded and akin to a Black Widow with a fly.


Is It Too Late To Follow The Dream?

I am pleased and honoured to share with you the following guest post.

Angela Ackermanis one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.  Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with seventy-five different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion. She lives in Calgary, Alberta, in the shadow of the Rockies, with her family, dog and one slightly zombie-like fish.

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How many times have you run into someone, and when it comes out that you’re a writer, they say, “You’re so lucky. I would love to write a book someday.” Or maybe a spark lights up in their eyes as they tell you this great idea they have for a story, or their hands get all animated as they describe a novel they read, falling right back into that world.

What you’re seeing is Passion. It might be only a glimmer, or a full-out flame, but either way, there’s something big going on inside them, if they only knew how to set it free.

I’ve run into a lot of writers-in-waiting:  people who love books and to read, who have big imaginations and who enjoy the lyrical nature of how words fit together. Maybe they journal, or fiddle with poems or haikus, or create jingles in their mind as they watch cheesy TV commercials. The point is, they are writers in all but name. Oh, if only they knew!

Sometimes when they tell me I’m lucky to be a writer, I’ll ask them, “Well, why don’t you become one too?”

Often than glow that lit them up only a second before clouds over. They say things like, “Oh but I couldn’t. That’s just a dream. I don’t know a thing about writing.” Or, “I don’t have time between work and the kids and the gardening and the house. In fact, did you see the peeling paint on the fence? I have to get on that soon or the whole thing will rot away…” and the conversation becomes a list of chores needing to be done, work waiting to fill the hours.

It makes me sad, because that writer-in-waiting is still inside, wanting to be let free. It wants to be more than a dream. It wants to make the journey.

Being a writer (or following any dream for that matter), takes courage. We come into it knowing little, but passion sustains us and then bit by bit, we learn and grow. Sometimes it’s about waiting for the right time, but mostly it’s about MAKING TIME.

Our world is so busy and frantic. There are bills to pay yes, and housework and meetings and kids circling like piranhas asking about dinner, but there is also passion. Make time for it. If you want to write, pick up a pen. Apply to paper. Let the words flow. No matter where you are in life, how old or young you are, it’s never too late to turn a dream into a reality.