Miss Cookie’s Word Play and her Photo Challenge from SethSnap provided some much need inspiration for a new story.  Here is what I thought of as I looked at the Photo Challenge picture titled “Rain“:

Miriam hurried along the narrow sidewalk, struggling to keep her umbrella aloft and her grocery bags secure.  Her aging moccasins were getting soaked and she still had a good block to go before the bus stop came into view.  She stopped to straighten up her many layers and pushed forward, through the rain.  The algid winds blew right through her and threatened to topple her over – either by upsetting the umbrella or offsetting her grocery bags.  She sighed and stared into the street.  The rain waters were rushing down the gutters, making all kinds of bubbling sounds.  It could only be heard whenever there was an unlikely break in the traffic. The cars didn’t seem to notice the malevolent weather and continued hustling occupants from this end of the street to the other.  Miriam would steal glances at the cars every now and again.  The faces either seemed bleak about the prospects of their destination or contorted in anger or frustration at the passenger or other drivers.  There weren’t any happy drivers anymore.

Miriam was getting closer to the bus stop.  She stopped again to set all her layers aright.  She didn’t own a proper winter coat.  Rather, she would put on her circulation socks, polyester pants, thermal top, sweater, etc.  She giggled at the thought of flopping in the wet street due to a heart attack.  The poor paramedics would need gardening sheers to cut through all her layers.  It was alright to giggle at such things at Miriam’s age – it was considered having a good outlook on the inevitable.

Finally, she reached the bus stop.  It was a proper bus stop, with a bench that was surrounded by plexiglass, framed in rusting metal bars.  She sat on the cold, metal bench and sighed relief.  Miriam used to own a car.  Hell, she used to own a winter coat and a decent pair of shoes.  It is difficult, these days, with her husband and children gone.  There isn’t as much to go around and it’s getting harder and harder to stretch what little there is.  But Miriam never liked to dwell on such things.  She found that whenever she got to thinking about the past, about the memories, she became happy and then deeply sad. Her heart was a lagan, a reminder of the past emotions that were vast and deep, lying beneath the surface.  Whenever Miriam tugged at it through her memories, it dredged everything up from the deep sea, from the past.  Miriam sighed and patted her bags of groceries that were next to her on the cold bench.  She looked over them briefly.  Potatoes and raw vegetables for vegetable stock and other soups.  Some powdered milk and canned meats.  Miriam had splurged and bought some baking chocolate.  She had just enough sugar and flour at home to make some brownies.  The thought tickled her tongue and she giggled again.  It had been quite some time since she had anything so extravagant.

There they were again, the mental and emotional memories trying to break through.  The reminder that things were not always this difficult.  She used to get chocolates all the time from her husband, before he died.  Afterwards, her children would buy them for her on special occasions.  It seemed like everything slowly began to trickle away after.. They were relentless this rainy day, the memories.  Thunder struck and Miriam jumped.  She looked around at the metal posts of the bus stop and prayed the bus showed up a little early today.  She knew it wouldn’t, though.  Albert the bus driver was always lackadaisical about his work.  He took his sweet old time, as if everyone else was on his personal time zone.  Miriam became frustrated and began rummaging through her bag.  She found her yarn and needles and nestled as comfortably into the bench as she could.  Maybe some knitting would take her mind off things.  She ran her fingers down the rough yarn, trying to get the right tension to begin.  She began to click-clack her needles and slowly, a scarf began to emerge.  It never took her long to finish a knitting project, she’d been knitting for years.

Her mind wandered back to when the kids were little and she used to knit them socks for Christmas as a special present.  When her husband passed, she knitted the socks out of necessity and with a much cheaper yarn.  The children didn’t seem to look forward to wearing those socks as much as the others.  She let her mind wander back to all the things she had knitted for her children in the past: scarfs, mittens, caps.. blankets, wash cloths.. Eventually, it seemed like everything in the house was home made.  Miriam never minded this, but her children often complained about how they didn’t have some new-fangled thing like the neighbors or other school children did.  Miriam sighed and put the yarn away.  Apparently, it wasn’t working too well.  Nothing seemed to be taking her mind off the past, today.

She looked about the street through the old, warped, and fogged up plexiglass.  It all seemed blurry with the rain alone, or the plexiglass alone, but both together.. She could barely make out much of anything.  It’s a good thing the city hardly replaced the brakes on the buses, their squealing could be heard blocks away.  It was often how Miriam knew she had missed a bus, by the sound of it’s brakes protesting to come to a stop.  She stopped to listen for several minutes, but could not hear the squeaking brakes.  Another sigh escaped her and she closed her eyes.  Thoughts of all the rough times she went through, especially recently, began to take hold and Miriam was overcome with great sadness.  A rolling thunder could be heard in the distance, growing closer.

She opened her tear filled eyes and stammered out a firm, “NO.  No I will not be like one of those old fools who sits around and mumbles to themselves.  They’re always complaining about how hard life is and never see the good in anything.”  She wiped her tears off and began a determined mind exercise to think of the good things in her life.  She closed her eyes again and thought of the happy times her husband and she had spent.  The vacation to Florida, the weekly “date nights”, the time spent alone talking and laughing in the kitchen after the children had gone to bed.  A smile overcame Miriam and she opened her eyes again. The rain seemed to have stopped and she wondered how long she had her eyes closed.  Had she fallen asleep?  She wiggled her toes in her moccasins.. No wait, she was wearing nice leather shoes.  That was odd.  She was sure she didn’t have any shoes like that.  Her feet fell warm and when she stood up, everything seemed to melt away.  She didn’t feel the age-old pains that she had grown accustomed to.  She felt.. alive.  She looked around at everything.  It all looked brand new again.

Miriam jumped as the bus pulled up and stopped.  It’s brakes hadn’t squeaked and it caught her off guard.  Maybe the city finally fixed them, Miriam thought to herself.  She went to grab her bags to get on the bus and found none.  That was odd, she was certain she had just come from the store.  An older man with white hair poking out from under his hat and a long, white beard smiled at her and said, “Coming, Ma’am?”  He wasn’t Albert. Maybe Albert had gotten a new route.  Miriam shrugged and went up the bus stairs, finding that she did not have to struggle with them as she normally did.

She looked up at the driver as she felt in her pockets for her boarding pass.  She didn’t seem to have anything on her at all.  The bus driver laughed and said, “It’s free of charge today, Miriam.”  She was startled that the bus driver knew her name but she smiled just the same and thanked him.  She looked about the bus.  There were a few others on there as well, they all seemed to be as perplexed as Miriam was.  She walked back to a seat in the middle of the bus and overheard an older man saying, “I don’t remember seeing this street before.  I wonder if he’s taking the wrong route?”  Miriam sat down and looked out the window as the bus hissed and the door swung shut.  It started forward and the outside seemed to just blur together.. just like looking through the plexiglass bus stop at the rainy day.  Only, this blur was full of color.  There were green streaks and purple and yellow blobs every now and again.  Before Miriam knew it, they had come to a stop.

“This is your stop, Mr.Jameson.”  The bus driver was smiling at the man Miriam had passed earlier.  The man stood up and started walking towards the front of the bus.  “I don’t think this is the right pla..,” he began.  He stopped mid sentence as he reached the door of the bus and just stood there, staring.  Miriam looked out the window.  It looked like a lovely yellow house with a white picket fence and well tended rose bushes.  A woman in an old-fashioned dress was standing by the gate, waving to the man.  Miriam watched the man get off the bus.  The old man with the cane on his arm slowly descended down the bus stairs, where the bus seats obstructed Miriam’s view of him.  When he came out the bus and back into her view through the window, however, he looked 40 years younger!  Miriam blinked and looked back at the front of the bus.  The bus driver was shutting the door.  The bus hissed and started up again.  Miriam swung her head back around to look at the window, inaudible sounds escaping her lips, and she caught a glimpse of the young man with a cane in his arms hugging the pretty lady in the old-fashioned dress.  She gasped and the streaks and blobs of colors came back into view.

She started and quickly looked around at the other passengers.  There was an older lady with her eyes closed, humming to herself in a deep, throaty way.  She had her arms crossed and a smile on her face.  Behind Miriam, another older man sat cleaning his spectacles.  By the looks of things, Miriam guessed he was as puzzled by the things he was seeing as well.  She thought about asking the bus driver what was going on but when she looked up at him, she saw him looking back at her in the mirror above his head.  He winked and said, “Don’t worry today, folks.  You’ll all reach your destinations.”

The bus stopped again and the bus driver turned and looked at Miriam.  She knew he said something, but she didn’t remember hearing it.  She looked around and slowly got up.  She shuffled to the front of the bus out of fear and wonderment.  She went to go down the stairs and the driver opened the door.  Miriam gasped and started to cry.  There, right before her, was her husband.. her old house.. They were there.  She looked back at the driver and he smiled and winked at her again.  “Your stop, Ma’am,” he said.  She took a step off the bus and her husband darted towards her and whisked her into the air.  She couldn’t believe it, she had to be dreaming.  She was back in their old home and she was young again.  He was young again!

She looked back to the bus and it was gone.  Her husband took her hand and stroked her hair.  “You look beautiful as ever, Miriam,” he said before gently kissing her cheek.  She looked down and was in her favorite dress and her skin.. it was glowing.  She hugged her husband and he took her hand as he turned to go inside.  Inside.. she slowly stepped into the house.  It was their home.  It wasn’t just some replica.  It was the real thing.  Everything was where it should be..

“The kids..,” Miriam trailed off as she slowly walked around.  “They’re with their own families, now,” her husband said.  “I’ve been waiting her for you for a long time, Miriam.  Now we can finally enjoy some time together.  No more long business trips, no more late night meetings.. just you, me, and eternity.”  He smiled, held her in his arms and began dancing her around.  Tears flowed down her cheek and she began to laugh.  She couldn’t remember the last time she felt this wonderful.  Slowly, Miriam stopped dancing and looked back at her husband. “It’s.. a dream..,” she said as she stepped away from him, looking perplexed again.

“No, my dearest,” he said, “this is Heaven.”

This story is © Chelsea Roush


Word Play: One and Incoherent



Will loved to skate.  Whenever he couldn’t be found by family or friends, they always knew to check down by the small pond.  If it was cold out, and it was cold out nine months out of they year, then he could often be found ice skating around the pond.  Just going round and round, not doing much of anything.  Sometimes he would do some fancy jumps, sometimes he would bring his harmonica and play as he went round and round.  Mostly, he just stared at the sky and let his mind wander.  Round and round.

Will often wondered how people in other states lived.  How is it that those people in Florida looked so happy being on the beach?  There was no way you could ice skate on a beach.  He saw pictures on TV of people rollerblading down boardwalks, but it just wasn’t the same.  He had tried roller skating at the local roller rink once.  He just didn’t like it.  The wheels grated against the ground and there wasn’t any fluidity to it.  You had to keep pushing yourself against the skates.  Ice skates, on the other hand, were like gliding on clouds.  They seemed to want to propel you along on the ice.  Maybe it was the fresh, cold wind in his face.  Maybe it was always being outdoors.  Whatever it was, Will preferred to ice skate.

He started his day just like any other person, although he preferred a more strict routine.  He would get up at a specific time and take a shower.  He usually ate a small breakfast: an egg and some toast.  Maybe some juice or coffee.  His mom would often fix a large lunch for everyone so he didn’t want to overdo it.  Ice skating on an overly-full stomach never felt right.  Then, he’d put on his scarf and hat, tie up his shoes and shove on his winter coat.  With his ice skates thrown over his shoulder, he’d bound through the snow, making snowballs and throwing them at no one in particular.  The thought of ice skating always made him happy.  Sometimes he’d stop and make a snowman or fall to the ground to make snow angels.  You’d think he was nine, the way he acted, instead of his proper age of 24.  You’d think he would be out with his friends, getting into trouble.  Maybe he should be out with some girl getting into trouble.  His parents often asked him about these things.. why wasn’t he interested in any girls?  Did he like boys instead?  “No,” he’d always reply, “I just like to skate.”

He did well in school and held down a part time job.  He never had any desire to go to college.  He was happy being a sack boy at the local market store.  All of the regulars there knew him by his hobby more so than his name.  “Hey, ice skater”  “It’s the skate boy!”  “Going skating today?”  They’d always have a million and one comments or questions for him about ice skating.  He was always happy to oblige them with answers.  One might think this would upset the boss, but he was glad that the locals were building up a good relationship with his staff.  He even took up a collection to help buy Will a new pair of skates that year.

Today wasn’t any different than the rest, except perhaps a little colder.  Will had showered, ate breakfast, and was getting ready for a day filled with ice skating.  He’d had the same skates for what seemed like forever now.  They pinched his toes, but he never minded.  His toes usually went numb from the cold this year anyways.  But today was special. Today he opened his present from “All your friends at the market”.  A new pair of skates!  The skates glistened bright white and were lined with special fabric that would keep his feet warm.  A thrill overcame him as he thought about how much longer he could stay on the ice.. how he could be more concerned about actually skating instead of his cold feet.

He threw his skates over his shoulder and headed for the pond.  It was frozen over, as it was most of the year.  It was colder this year, so he grabbed his ear muffs on the way out. The old wooden dock leading out to the pond had long since decayed and fallen to pieces.  All that was left were posts sticking up that Will liked to skate between.  In the summertime, his brothers would come down here to fish but in the colder months, Will would chase the little fish around with his skates.  It always amazed him how they could still swim under there.

Will plomped onto the snow and took off his boots.  He breathed in a lung full of cold, fresh air and and smiled up at the sun.   He exhaled and watched his breath almost turn to ice in the air. It was a good day for skating.  Everyday was a good day for skating, but some more so than others.  He didn’t like the days it rained when he had to come in from skating early, only to face his parents anger at him catching a cold.  Today though, he could skate and skate for hours in the sunshine.. and with his new, warm skates.  He slipped the new skates onto his feet and laced them up.  They felt like a dream.  He wiggled his toes around and found he had plenty of room.

“Woohoo!” he yelled, to no one in particular.  He was happy and didn’t need to share it with anyone.  It was good enough just to be happy.  He stood up and pushed off onto the pond.  The skates slid across the ice so smooth, Will thought he might be moving faster than usual.  He smiled at this thought and bent over to pick up more speed.  He pretended he was a speed skater and flew around the ice in a circular path, round and round.  He stood up and opened his arms, smiling and laughing.  The skates were awesome.  The pond was pure ice this year, with no residual snow hanging around and this just made Will glide on it with little to no effort.

Will didn’t get home until late that night and his parents were worried sick.  They knew where he was, they knew it was no good to try to drag him off that pond, but they still worried.  They still hollered and nagged at him when he came in the door, well past Midnight.  He ignored them and headed for the kitchen, making up some hot chocolate before he headed to bed.  He sat in the LaZboy in the living room, his new skates in his lap.  He had wiped them down with his scarf after skating.  He was going to take good care of these skates.  He sat there and stroked them while he drank his hot cocoa.. it was like he was still out there, the air blowing past him..

The next morning, Will was up even earlier than usual.  He woke up and headed straight for the pond.  Breakfast could wait.  His mother had to trunch down to the pond to yell at him, he was late for work.  Will didn’t want to go.. he told his mother that he had gotten the day off.  This just made her more angry and she headed back for the house.  Will was out skating late again, round and round.  He discovered that the skates worked even better for fancy jumps and he had taken to doing them more often now.

He finally came back home around two in the morning, scarfed down some leftovers in the fridge and then went to bed.  He slept in his new skates, they had become one.  The next day led to the same thing.  After a week or so of it, the market called.  The boss was worried about Will, he hadn’t shown up to work all week.  His mother was livid.  She knew that when Will was ice skating, he became incoherent to reality, but she had hoped he’d grow out of it.  More than hoped, she had expected him to grow up.  He obviously hadn’t. She tramped through the snow down to the pond, cursing with each step.  When she got there.. Will was no where to be found.  His scarf was beside the pond and there was a well worn ring around it.. as though he’d been skating.. but no Will.

She began to call out his name, convinced he was off playing in the snow somewhere.  Thirty minutes passed.  She was getting worried now and her throat was sore from yelling his name.  She ran back to the house and called her husband at work.  He told her not to worry, Will was out in the woods playing and they’d look for him when he got home.  She called everyone she could think of asking, “have you seen Will today?”  No one had.  No one had seen him all week.

They didn’t find Will that night.  They searched for hours and eventually called the police.  The search dogs couldn’t find him.  They kept circling the pond and the police assumed it was because that’s where he last was, circling the pond himself.  They thought any other traces of him had long since vanished.  All that was left was his scarf, lying by the side of the frozen over pond. People searched all winter long.  They put up fliers, made pleas on TV, and even held fundraisers.  Nothing. No word from Will or anyone who might have taken him.

It wasn’t until the pond thawed that they finally found Will, or what was left of him. The fish had gorged themselves on his flesh and he was just a skeleton dressed in clothing, wearing ice skates.  He had fallen through the ice into the pond. He had worn a deep groove into the outer rim of the pond and caused the whole thing to flip, just like you see on the cartoons.  As soon as the whole thing flipped over, it started to freeze over again.  He hadn’t thought to try and break the ice with his skates – taking them off wasn’t something that would have ever crossed his mind.  His mother was beside herself with grief.  His father had the pond filled and the skates mysteriously vanished.  The brothers stopped talking about their fishing stories.  The whole town was filled with grief over losing their ice skater.  And guilt.  Guilt that if they hadn’t bought him new skates.  .


This story is © Chelsea Roush.  Any unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is prohibited.

Word Play: Empty

Word of the Day: Empty

It was a winter Saturday afternoon and Sarah was getting ready to do what she always did on her days off.. paint.  She set up her old, wooden easel.  It was a great junk store find this past summer.  Her ex-boyfriend had bought it for her.  She may not have held onto him for long, but she hoped to hold onto the easel forever.  She rummaged under the bed for the old briefcase that held her paints.  Another junk store find.  It held all of her paints and brushes perfectly, even latching closed to prevent them all from tumbling out.  She propped the briefcase on the table and opened it, inhaling deeply.  She loved the smell of the musty, wooden case and the paints.. acrylics, oils and watercolors.  She fingered the various tubes and decided to go for the watercolors.  She still wasn’t sure what she was going to paint, so she got out her basic colors: primaries and a few oddballs she had premixed.

She used an old, broken china plate as a paint palette.  She had used her dremmel tool to grind the edges so that she wouldn’t cut herself.  Sarah took delight in refurnishing the old and broken into new, wonderful things.  That’s probably why she went through boyfriends more quickly than she did paintbrushes.  She seemed to gravitate towards the old or “broken” people to try and remodel them.

Sarah sighed and set her pad of paper on the easel.  She was using watercolors today so she set to preparing her paper.  Her thoughts began to wander back to her various ex-boyfriends. The latest one, Tom, was a fairly nice fellow.. if you overlooked his drunken behavior and sloppy hygiene habits.  Sarah thought that if only Tom could see the wonders of living then he would embrace life and put aside his foolish habits.  It didn’t work.

Sarah looked back at her blank paper.  Odd.  She usually started painting when her mind was off daydreaming about what not.  It was going to be one of those days.  She didn’t like to force her muse to work, it felt.. fake.  But she liked the routine of painting every Saturday.  She started to dabble her paintbrush in a few of the paints and held it an inch or so from the paper, waiting for a spark to ignite her imagination.  Nothing.

She flopped her hand down to her side and turned her head around the room.  Her eyes fell on all the trinkets and projects around the room.  The broken mirror she turned into a mosaic picture frame.. that held a picture of her and her best friend.  The dream catcher she made out of a couple of pieces of broken jewelry that now hung over her bed.  She had to admit, she hadn’t been having any bad dreams.  Come to think of it, she hadn’t been having any dreams lately.  Her eyes scanned the room and then returned back to the canvas.  Empty.  It was still empty.  The room was full of finished projects that engaged her senses and emotions but this canvas.. it was depleting her.

She sat in the old, wooden chair next to the easel and put her chin in her hands.  Her apron felt cold to the touch, it’s oilcloth splotched with years of paint stains.  It was still pretty early in the afternoon, but when the muse doesn’t come calling.. it’s time to find ways to call the muse.  Sarah got up and headed out to the kitchen.  She started looking around for the various bottles of wine that she kept around when friends came calling.  She liked to use the empty bottles to make fun things like nite lights and what not, so why not help that process along a little?  She could use another empty bottle to start another project.  Sarah got an old wine glass down from the cupboard and poured herself a glass of rose red wine.  She felt her body relax and her mind stopped wandering on about her past.  She stopped fretting about painting as if it were just another project to finish.  She just enjoyed the wine, glass after glass.

She stared into the glass and smiled at the way the wine reflected the light.  What a great painting.  She headed for the bedroom, wineglass and muse in tow.  She spilled a little on her old, stained apron while fumbling back towards her bedroom but just giggled it off.

Sarah stood in front of the easel and held her palette up, searching for the right colors.  She wasn’t sure… red or.. she couldn’t decide.  She found herself moving about the room while she tried to figure out which colors to use.  She stated twirling and singing.  She was dancing.  Her foot caught on the rug re-purposed out of old t-shirts and she went flying.  She fell at great speed towards the easel and landed with a loud “THUD!”   It took a few minutes for her to even realize what had happened, her mind still in a wine induced stupor.  A few minutes later, it took a while for the shock to wear off.  She was able to lift herself back onto her feet, wiping tears from her eyes.  Her day was ruined.  All she had wanted was to enjoy her day off with her muse and paint something wonderful.  Now, she was drunk and her room was a mess.

Sarah felt like throwing an all out tantrum, but she surveyed the mess instead.  Her wine glass had fallen on the rug she tripped over and it now had a rather pretty red tinge to it.  She shrugged, c’est la vie.  It would make a good story at least.  She bent to pick up her easel and she set it aright.  She flipped her pad of watercolor paper back to the one she was working on and was shocked to see.. a painting.  She flipped through the pad a few times.. no, this one was new.  Sarah’s hand went to her chin and then her chest.. as her mind tried to understand how this could have happened.  She immediately pulled her fingers away from her apron.  The wine had loosened some of the paints in her apron and Sarah’s hand was covered in a mess of smearing colors.. jsut like what she saw on the paper.

She laughed.  When she had fallen, she had imprinted her apron’s stains onto the paper.  And it looked awesome.  She picked up her wineglass and headed to the kitchen for a refill.  Maybe this muse thing wasn’t so bad afterall.

© Chelsea Roush. Unauthorized reproduction and/or redistribution is prohibited.

Word Play: Boisterous

Okay folks, Miss Cookie’s word play of the day is Boisterous.  This is another story that had been rolling around in the back of my mind during work.  It’s just a vague idea so far, let’s flesh it out!

Jimmy wiggled his toes into the warm, green grass.  He loved being outside.  He stared up at the sun and smiled, his freckles crinkling on his cheeks.  He inhaled the warm air and looked around. He loved being outside in his back yard: it became entire new worlds.  Sometimes he was on the moon, saving the planet from an onslaught of green aliens that could only be damaged with “magic crystals” (aka, salt).  Yesterday, he was a famous archeologist digging up dinosaur bones only to stumble upon the mysteries of the Universe.

Today… Jimmy looked around for clues.  What could he be today?  He saw his race car and frowned.  He was tired of being a race car driver and he got in trouble the last time he tried to be a stunt car driver.  He rubbed the bruises on his right elbow.  His Mom got pretty upset when he jumped from the top branch of the tree, even though he was really riding the largest ramp in the world.  She said that Jimmy was always a little too boisterous for his own good.  Jimmy sighed.  He didn’t think he was too boystrust. He needed something fun that wouldn’t get him into a lot of trouble.  If he got grounded then he couldn’t play outdoors again.  Jimmy wandered around the yard, coming close to the wooden fence that encircled it.  He put his hand up to the fence and peeked through one of the tiny holes that time and weather had created.  It was the neighbor’s yard.

Their yard was immaculate.  Jimmy’s mom would often comment about it, saying how she wished her yard looked so pretty.  She wanted rose bushes and stoned walkways.  She would always look at Jimmy and sigh when she said this.  She was stuck with a yard that was littered with toys and had patchy areas of crab grass.  Jimmy was too young to understand this so he usually just smiled back at his Mom’s agitated looks, which usually saved the day.

Today though.. there was something different about the neighbor’s yard.  The bushes near the house looked squashed down, as if someone had walked all over them.  Mom would be really upset if those were her flowers.  Jimmy went back to his yard and kept looking for a toy to play with.  He spotted his old plastic airplane and picked it up, flecking the dried mud off of it.  It’d been a while since he’d played with it.  He decided to try it out.

Thrusting the plane through the air, Jimmy made engine sounds.  He tried to imagine himself in the cockpit, flying a jet airplane for the ARMY.  He was the best and only pilot that could save the day.  He made arcs with his arms in the shape of eights, flying the plane in upside down and sideways.  Only Jimmy the Ace could fly a plane as high into the sky as they needed to go and not lose control of the plane.  He went up, up, up… Oh no!  Jimmy looked down.  He was in the tree again.

He looked around to make sure his mom didn’t see him.  She wasn’t at the kitchen window.  He sighed relief and leaned back against the trunk of the tree.  It was kind of nice off the ground.  He glanced around the neighborhood from his new viewpoint.  He looked back over to his neighbor’s yard – the window was broken.  The window above the squashed rose bushes had broken glass strewn everywhere.  Jimmy leaned closer to his neighbor’s yard.  He could see the glittering glass in the rose bushes.. see the torn curtains blowing in the wind.

“Jimmy Allen Brown!”  Oh.. No…  Jimmy whipped his head around and saw his mother standing at the back door.  “Get down from that tree this instant!  How many times do you have to get hurt before you learn..” Jimmy stopped listening to exactly what his mother was saying, her tone was enough.  He started to find the safest way to climb down.  He found a good grip on a branch and his foot fit nicely into a hole in the trunk.  He could hear his mother yelling at him and asking if he was ok, it seemed all at the same time.  He started to climb down and then noticed the man coming out of his neighbor’s back door.  He was dressed in black, from head to toe.  Only his eyes showed, one of them blue and the other brown.  Jimmy thought he looked like a ninja.  The man didn’t see Jimmy, he closed the door behind him and walked across their yard.  He headed towards the alley and disappeared.  Jimmy’s mom started yelling again.

He started climbing down again and made it safely to the ground.  He was awaited with both a spanking and a hug, his mom angry he climbed the tree but glad he got down safely.  She picked him up and took him inside, telling him he was grounded and had to stay indoors for the next three days.  Jimmy sighed.  No more airplane rides.

Jimmy sat with in the living room for the next two days instead of playing outdoors.  His mom was busy around the house or was talking on the phone.  He flipped through the channels, trying to find something to watch that would hold his attention.  “Funny, fun time with Bumble the Bear..”  “Try this new product at home, free of risk!” “..found at the home were tramped bushes..”  “New toy with added stickers!”

Wait, Jimmy knew that house!  It was the one next door.  He flipped back to the channel and watched as they showed pictures of the trampled rose bushes and the broken window.  “An unknown assailant,” the newscaster began, “broke into the home through..” Jimmy remembered now.  He remembered the broken window and the man that walked into the alleyway..  he began to try to remember exactly what he looked like…

“Jimmy!”  He turned around to see his mom standing in the hall, her hands on her hips.  “What are you watching?  Only cartoons, buddy.”  She switched the channel back to cartoons and Jimmy sat in front of the tv, obediently.  He couldn’t wait to get back outdoors and play in the sunshine.  His thoughts went back to the airplane and the race car.  He was tired of his old toys.. maybe he could ask his mom for that new one.  Jimmy put his face in the palms of his hands and settled down to watch his cartoons.

© Chelsea Roush. Unauthorized redistribution and/or reproduction is prohibited.

Word Play: Charismatic

It’s that time again!  Word Play, yay!  I have to admit that I look forward to writing these little shorts.  I think up of all kinds of stories throughout the day.  I wish I could spend all of my time at my computer writing, but I have to pay the bills.

The word play challenge for today from Miss Cookie is: Charismatic. Alright, here we go!

Mister and Misses Davenport were always busy working.  That was just how they were raised, work hard to provide for your family so that your children can have a better life.  They were good at it.  Mr.Davenport was an attorney for a small law firm in a medium sized town.  He enjoyed the work and never complained to his wife about the long hours.  She, in turn, never complained to him about the long hours.  Instead, she took care of the house, as her generation was want to do.  They had two children, at first.  A girl, Melody, and a son… David.

David was a bright boy, always curious.  Too curious.  He passed away in dreadful circumstances, wanting to explore places that little children should stay away from.  The Davenports decided to have another child to soothe their grief.  They automatically assumed they would have another son.. they had a daughter instead.  Melody was a beautiful bundle of joy.  She was always getting compliments on being so bubbly and just downright cute.  Her charismatic ways usually allowed her to get what she wanted with most people.. except her parents.  They tried their best to love their little girl, but it just wasn’t the same.

Mr. Davenport would buy Melody things for Christmas like BB guns and Cowboy hats.  She would cry.  She had wanted a doll that you could feed and would wee itself.  Mrs.Davenport would discipline the child for crying and they would go on about their lives, little Melody feeling as though she didn’t quite belong.  That is how it was growing up.  She tried to please her parents, but her father was never really home.  All she got out of him was the strong sense that Melody ought to be a boy and that her mother would never challenge this idea.  It was difficult, to say the least.

When Melody left for college, she finally felt free.  For a time, but the demons of her childhood soon caught up with her and she fell quickly into Depressive swings, often needing hospitalization.  The Davenports didn’t understand Mental Illness and often put it down to her being a girl.  Melody was fortunate to find a group of supportive friends and was able to move away from her parents.  She found a job she enjoyed, and started going back to school for nursing.  She wanted to help others because of the way she was not helped growing up.  Melody was blossoming.

And then the Davenports received the phone call.  Melody’s body had been found on a hiking trail just outside of the town she lived in.  The trail led up to a pretty high mountain and it seemed to the police as though she fallen off the cliff.  The police seemed to put a certain emphasis on this last part, as if they knew of Melody’s past.  As if she hadn’t really fallen.. the Davenport’s knew the truth as well.  They hadn’t heard from their daughter in years, but they knew.  They knew she jumped.  She had done just what her brother before her did, gone somewhere she shouldn’t have and..

It wasn’t easy for the Davenports after that.  Mrs.Davenport got a part-time job outside of the house to keep busy.  It seemed like every little thing in the house reminded her of her two lost children.  Of the son she never had a chance to know and the daughter she .. It was often too painful for her to think of the way she had treated her little girl.  Her mind was always flooded with “what ifs” and “if only”s.  She stayed busy to keep the thoughts and feelings at bay.  She volunteered at the local church and ran some charities.  People were always commenting on all of the wonderful things she was doing for the community, but this just made her feel worse.  She wasn’t doing it for them, she was doing it to forget. To forget the horrible ways she treated her own daughter that made her take her own life.

Mr. Davenport threw himself into his work, at first.  He saw the effect this was having on his wife and came to a realization, hew as going to have to hold them together now.  No more playing house.. it was time to get down to the nitty gritty.  He made some changes in his work habits and tried to be home more.  This often backfired as his wife was hardly ever home.  He even tried to take time off for some vacations, but this led to more arguments.  They were always arguing.  It would start with something small like a dish being left out in the living room but it would always come back around to the crux of the matter: the children.  Mrs.Davenport blamed her husband.. for not being there.. for not helping to keep an eye on their son.  And why was he always trying to turn their sweet little girl into a boy when she was fine the way she was?  Why did she never tell her how beautiful she was?  Why didn’t they try harder to keep their daughter from killing herself? This often led to slammed doors and crying.

Mr.Davenport did everything he could to try and keep the marriage together.  He would buy gifts out of the blue, take his wife on surprise dinners.. but nothing fixed the problem.  There was always a lingering sense in the background, a tension that kept any form of intimacy from occurring.

When they had to go identify the body of their daughter, the police had given them her belongings.  They had hired someone else to go in and sell off the belongings in her apartment, but they had kept the old backpack.. kept it in the back of a closet. Every now and again, Mrs.Davenport would threaten to get it out.  She would want to go through everything of her daughter’s, but Mr.Davenport wouldn’t let her.  He had to hide it.  He put it in the attic, moved it to the garage.. anywhere his wife wouldn’t find it.  He was afraid of the unspeakable, afraid she would lose herself in those belongings and end up just like Melody, just like their son.  It was like some deadly secret he had to keep from her, as if it contained a contagious plague that made anyone who touch it kill themselves too.  He thought of burning the thing, but couldn’t bring himself to do it.  Instead, he just told his wife he had.  This did not go over well.

Finally, time passed and so did Mrs.Davenport.  Mr.Davenport should have felt alone now, but he felt relieved and fulfilled.  He had worked his whole life to keep his family together, and he felt as though he had succeeded.  He stood in his living room at some point after the funeral, staring at a picture of his wife.  He had taken to speaking to this picture as though it were really her.  In it, she was smiling, something he hadn’t seen her do much of in years passed.

“Well Missus, it looks like another sunny day…”  he turned and looked out the window, looked at the garage.  His thoughts wandered to what was inside.  The backpack.  He looked back at the picture.  “I guess maybe it’s time to put everything to rest, at last.”  He put his drink down and went outside.  He was able to locate the backpack easily, it was hidden behind a panel in the wall.  He pulled it out and dusted it off.  He dare not bring it in the house.  Even with Mrs.Davenport gone, he still felt as though he would be yelled at for bringing so much dust indoors.

Instead, he knelt down and put the zipper between his thumb and forefinger.  He stayed like that for a few minutes, kneeling on the hard, cold cement.. the zipper in his fingers.  It was as if it were a forbidden treasure chest.  He wasn’t allowed to open it.  He finally exhaled, not realizing he had been holding his breath and tore the zipper open.  A flurry of dust took flight.  Mr.Davenport coughed and sneezed, waving the dust away.  He didn’t know what he expected to find, he didn’t know why he was surprised by what he did find..

Inside was a camera and a tripod, a lightweight jacket – purple – and a journal.  The journal had drawings in it, mostly of nature.  He wondered if his daughter had drawn them, it seemed unlikely to him, for some reason.  He took out the tripod and examined it, then set it aside.  He slowly took out the camera.  Images of what he might find on it flooded his mind.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to see..

He took the camera inside and hunted around for some batteries.  He still wasn’t sure he wanted to see what was on it, and every now and again, he’d stop and stare at the thing as if it would answer his questions.  He finally put batteries in it and pressed the power button.  The little screen blinked blue and said “Powering ON”.  Worry flooded his veins.  He almost turned it off out of sheer fear.  Then, it started playing.

It was a wonderful day for a hike.  Melody adjusted the heavy backpack and made sure she had her balance before continuing.  The hot sun beat down and a warm breeze blew.  She stopped to stare up the sky and absorb some of the Nature’s remedy: sunshine.  She felt like a completely different person than she had just a few short months ago.  She used to spend her time hiding under the covers, thinking of all the ways people had done her wrong.  Life wasn’t fair and she used to wallow in it as if it was some kind of drug.  It took a lot of hard work, but through therapy and perseverance, she was able to start enjoying life again.

She put her backpack down and opened it up, looking for the camera.  This view was too good to pass up.  She set up the tripod and put the camera on top, making sure the camera got the entire view.  Suddenly, she had a wonderful idea.  She set the camera on “video” and pressed start.

“Hi Mom and Dad,” Melody began, “it’s me, your daughter.”  She turned and looked at the gorgeous view again.  “I know you’ve been worried about me lately, so I just wanted to send you this video to let you know that everything is fine now.”  She smiled and posed for the camera, shifting her weight a little.  “I’ve been working hard and slowly coming out of my Depression.  I’ve gotten a new hobby, as you can see.. HIKING!”  With those last words, Melody flung her arms wide open as if to embrace the whole view entirely.  That’s when you saw her foot go over the edge, her face contort, and her arms flail wildly.  She had slipped.  She was grabbing at air, she was screaming inaudible noises.. she was falling.  Mr.Davenport just stood there, staring at the screen.

She slipped.  Slipped.


© Chelsea Roush. Unauthorized redistribution and/or reproduction is prohibited.

Word Play: Tempestuous

I couldn’t post yesterday’s “Word Play” in time so I’m going to be a day behind until the weekend. I blame my work schedule (I’m a second shifter) and the fact that a snowstorm knocked out my Internet. Not a huge storm, just one with a large blanket of clouds that made satellite signals apparently impossible to penetrate. That’s a tongue twister!

Alright, so onto the Word Play! According to Miss Cookie, the word challenge for today is: Tempestuous. For more information on the word or the challenges themselves, see Miss Cookie’s Word Play page. Let’s see what story we can come up with now.

Antonio was working late, again. It wasn’t that he minded, really. It was just that he didn’t seem to have much else going on in his life right. In fact, there wasn’t anything else going on right now. He looked around the quasi-abandoned kitchen and sighed. The pizza parlor was home, even more so than the apartment upstairs.

He looked down at his hands, knuckle deep in dough and flour. He kept kneading the pizza dough and thinking. He always got to thinking when he was working with the pizzas. People always commented on how well he worked, on what a good job he did.. But it wasn’t the job he was loving, it was where his mind was taking him while his hands were working.

He began to daydream and his mind slowly left the stainless steel and wood kitchen behind. He was suddenly a sailor on a pirate ship. What would it be like to sail the Seven Seas, fighting for territory and glory? He imagined himself with a hearty beard, a shocking black beard. A gold sash adorned his chest and he would wave his sword at his foes with elegance and tenacity. He pretended to be fighting a band of soldier sailors. His hands were tossing the pizza dough in the air, making a round form. In his mind, he was thrusting a sword with each toss of the dough, attacking a would be assailant. He was a King among Pirates, known as well for his story telling as his sword fighting. He would go down in valiant way – in a storm trying to protect his ship from the hands of the treacherous Crown. His ship would be forced into a rocky harbor and smash to pieces in the tempestuous waters. People would visit the site for centuries, telling stories to tourists about the King among Pirates that died to save what was rightfully his.

Antonio was putting the finishing touches on the pizza now and put it in the freezer. He only had to make a dozen or so more and then he could lumber up the stairs, crawl into bed, and sleep for a few hours before the shop opened. Pizza was his life now that he inherited the pizza shop. He had employees, but there was no way they could keep up with demand if Antonio didn’t work long and hard hours. He was used it, he’d worked like this his whole life. It was all he know. There wasn’t much else to life it seemed.

He put the pizza on a rack in the freezer, next to a few others and suddenly felt as thought he were in the Arctic. He would be an explorer, known for his brazen sense of adventure. They would call him the “Ice Man” because he could withstand temperatures that would make normal men freeze. When the compasses misbehaved so closely to the Pole, his uncanny sense of direction would always steer the exploring party in the right direction. One cold, tempestuous night, the exploring party would get trapped by a monster storm. It would be a storm unlike any ever seen. It would kill off half the party before the survivors could find shelter amongst the ice caves. Even inside, the temperatures and cracking ices would continue to dwindle the party down until none was left but the Ice Man. He would continue, deeper into the cave. He’d run out of food long before he ever froze, even taking off the furs that would keep a normal man warm so he could travel faster. They would find his body centuries later, frozen in a statuesque stance.. It would be preserved in special freezers and shipped to Museums across the World.

Antonio closed the freezer doors and returned to his work. His mind took him to Ancient China, Mars, the Age of the Dinosaurs, and even places never before seen until he had created them. When he finally finished his last pizza, his arms ached. He turned all the ovens off, wiped down the counters, and turned off the lights. It was time to sleep. Antonio didn’t look forward to sleep. He didn’t remember anything that happened while he slept. He just laid down, fell asleep, and then sat up again. It was as if he had been caught in some strange time warp. As soon as he laid down and closed his eyes, hours passed in the blink of an eye. Antonio turned the apartment key and drudged towards the bathroom. A quick shower and a quicker bite to eat. He headed straight for his bed. It wasn’t that he was looking forward to sleep, it was just that his body ached and he needed a reprieve.

He turned the lights out and pulled back the covers. As soon as his head hit the pillow he could feel it start. That heavy feeling that tried to pulled him out. He always fought it. He didn’t want to sleep, necessarily, he just wanted to rest. Inevitably, he would wake up to his alarm clock ringing some time long before the sun itself awoke.

He never dreamt, never remembered any of it. It all happened in the blink of an eye. Four hours, just like that. Lay down, close your eyes, and it’s all over.

Antonio sighed. It was time to start another day. He grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed downstairs to the pizza shop. The frozen pizzas needed to be cooked. More than that.. Antonio needed to dream. To live.


© Chelsea Roush. Unauthorized redistribution and/or reproduction is prohibited.

Word Play: Empurple

It’s that time again, time to write a short story based on the word given out by Miss Cookie.  Today’s word is: Empurple.

According to, empurple means to turn purple or to flush.  That seems pretty straight forward, but the challenge is to use the word in a unique way.. or a way that one would not usually think of it as being used.  Now comes the difficult part.  Why difficult? The word “empurple” is pretty straightforward.  I mean, there are only so many things that can “turn purple” or “flush”.  I suppose things such as reddening cheeks and ripening fruit come to mind.  However, I think this just makes for more fun.  We’ll have to see how I do because as I type this, I have no story in mind: I make it up as I go along just as I always do.  Hang on, folks, it’s going to be a wild ride!


Lily licked her melting lollipop.  She held her mother’s hoof in hers as they both walked on their hind legs through the zoo.  It was a holiday, so every animal was out and about today and they seemed to have brought the whole herd.  The Lions were out with their prides, the male stuck in the middle of bickering children and gossiping wives.  Lily felt sorry for him but Mama always said that he got what he deserved.  She wasn’t sure what that meant, but she kept looking over the other animals.

There were Hippos with their layers of sunscreen and hats on: they didn’t like to be out in this heat for very long but their children seemed to be dragging them onward.  The parents looked as though they would melt just as Lily’s lollipop had but the kids seemed oblivious as they wailed from giant mouths.  “I wanna see the humans!” they would scream.  Lily shuddered.  She couldn’t imagine what it must be like to live in such a noisy family.

Her family was larger.  She had a great deal of uncles and aunts that always lived nearby and kept in touch.  They always seemed to travel together as well.  This often confused people when they were looking for just one of them, the individual lost among the stripes of the group.  Lily’s Mama told her this used to be necessary eons ago, when Humans ruled the world.  That always made Lily laugh.  How could silly Human rule the world?  They couldn’t even feed themselves.

Lily watched her lollipop drip down her black and white striped arm, empurpling her fur.  Purple and black, now.  She was staring at it when she ran into the backside of her cousin.  He turned around and stuck his long, pink tongue out at her.  She stuck hers out right back and made a funny face to boot.  Lily got along with most of her cousins but Claude was a pain.  He was always trying to annoy her on purpose and seemed to go out of his way to make her days miserable.  He would usually pester her on and on, throughout the day until Lily’s mind empurpled and all she could see was red.  She was usually the one that got into trouble by then.

They must have stopped to look at one of the exhibits because a large group had gathered around.  Lily pushed her way between some of her relatives and peeked out.  It was a group of Humans, sitting around a rock in the shade of a tree.  They just sat there, looking at all the animals who were watching them.  Lily wondered if they ever thought about anything.  She always marveled at their furless skin, especially when it changed colors if they were in the sun too long.  How did they do that?

One of the males was walking around, his finger in his nose.  This made a lot of the youngsters in the crowd giggle and prompted adults to take pictures.  The flashing cameras startled him and he began to yell and throw dirt around.  The zookeeper, a gruff Gorilla, had to come out and remind the crowd to turn their flashes off.  The Humans startled easily and the Zoo could not be held accountable if they were injured from them hurtling dirt or.. other things.

Just as he finished his sentence, a large clod of mud and grass beaned the back of his head.  Laughter erupted from the crowd but the Gorilla just snarled.  He turned and let out a thunderous roar as he beat his chest.  The crowd hushed into silence and the Humans retreated into their fake cave.  He turned to the crowd to let them know that only the most primitive forms of language were understood by the Humans.  He apologized for scaring the children, some of whom were now crying, and walked back inside.

Lily felt a hoof come down on her ears and turned to see Claude.  He was sticking his tongue out again.  Lily just taunted him.  “I bet you were one of the babies crying when the Zookeeper roared, Ccclllaaauuudddee.”  She drew his name out in a sneering tone.  Before he could respond, Lily’s Mama yanked her back to her side.  She didn’t like her to be out of her sight for very long.  She gave Lily a look that said two things: stay by my side and leave your cousin alone.  Lily sighed and they followed the crowd to the next exhibit.  Her hooves were getting sore and her mouth was dry.  She protested to her mother and was surprised when she agreed to go find some shade and a nice drink.

They found one of the vendors and sat down, between a giraffe family that was arguing over who got the last slice of veggie pizza and a sloth family that seemed oblivious to everyone around them.  Lily sighed and drank her soda, being sure not to spill it on her polka-dotted sundress.  Her Mama made it especially for the Zoo visit and she would probably get into a lot of trouble if she got it dirty.  She looked around at all the kids laughing or running around.  Lily didn’t get it.  This just wasn’t fun.  Who cared how the Humans lived?  They never bothered the animals..  Lily would rather be swimming or out playing basketball.  Silly Humans.

“Now Lily,” her Mama said, “It’s important that you learn how the Humans are.  We must never go back to living the way we did eons ago.”  But Lily didn’t get it.  She didn’t think they ever were ruled by these puny Humans.  Even if they were, they certainly couldn’t go back to being that way.  The creatures couldn’t even feed themselves!  They just walked around all day long, their fingers up their noses.

Lily had a friend at school whose parents were rich.  They kept Humans at home, which wasn’t exactly legal.  Lily had seen them a couple of times.  The parents had dressed the Humans up in funny costumes and taught them to bring them food and drinks from the chef in the kitchen.  It was kind of spooky and Lily shuddered.  So Humans could be trained to do simple things, that doesn’t mean they could think.

Lily sighed and drank the rest of her pop.  Silly Humans.. animals ruled the world now.

I tried to use the word in the straight forward and not-so-straight-forward way.  Hope it worked and I hope you enjoyed the short.  BB.

© Chelsea Roush. Unauthorized redistribution and/or reproduction is prohibited.