Where should this story go from here???

MAGNIFYING GLASS CLUESKindergarten was a lot of fun. I made several friends there. I can’t say that I learned a whole lot because my parents had taught me to read books far beyond my age level and to add, subtract, and count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s long before I walked into the classroom at Harvard elementary school. But the joy of that initial year of getting together five days a week with twenty-five other kids my own age and sharing our thoughts and imaginations — not to mention our lunches — was an experience I still treasure.

That’s why, when Sabrina McKluckey called me last Monday evening and told me she had searched for me on Google and tracked me down because she wanted to reconnect after all these years, I was more than happy to arrange a meeting. Sabrina had been my best friend in kindergarten – from day one – but she and I actually had more in common that that. We had gone through all six grades of elementary together in the same classrooms. By junior high, though, my family had moved to a new town, and I lost track of Sabrina.

In fact, I lost track of all my early classmates. My family moved again before I had finished high school, and that broke some more relationships for me, not to mention affecting my grades during my junior year. When I got to college, I finally stayed in one place four whole years, so I did manage to make a couple close friends who are still close today. But when I picked up the phone and found Sabrina on the other end of the line, she started talking about things that we had done in school together, and, suddenly, years just sort of slipped away, and I was transported to a happier time and place.

Now, it’s not that I don’t have a good life. I guess I’d call it a basically “happy” life — depending on how one defines happiness. But once we get to the age of responsibility — college days are gone, and we’re struggling to make good on that first job so that the landlord won’t kick us out of our first apartment, and so relatives who come to visit will find more than a carton of milk and a can of sardines in the frig — things just aren’t as much fun. And for me, now well past the first job and four years into my alternate vocation (having nixed the nine-to-five high finance job I’d landed right out of grad school), life was a passel of everyday bills and aggravations, occasionally relieved by an evening with friends or a week-end holiday.

So, back to Sabrina: She said she now lived about three hours from me, so we arranged to meet at a restaurant about half way between our homes and catch up on each other’s lives over a long lunch. When I arrived, she was already at the table. I figured I wouldn’t recognize her, but to my surprise, she really did look the same: Long dark brown hair, perky nose with a sprinkling of freckles, and a sunny smile. She was slender and prettier in a mature sort of way, but definitely still looked like the Sabrina of my memory.

My hair was still the ebony color it had always been, but I had worn it quite long in those school years, and now I had a slick, short cut that lay close to my head. My blue eyes were still the same, of course, and I was moderate weight for my size, so I was pretty sure she’d consider that I was still recognizable.

And sure enough, when I was within six feet of the table, she turned her head and saw me, and jumped up to greet me, calling out my nickname. “Tessy!” She held out her arms and hugged me as I got to the table. I was glad there weren’t a lot of other people close to our table, but I did hug her back very briefly and dropped into a chair as soon as I could. “Oh, you look good!” she said. “And you really haven’t changed much except for your hairstyle.”

“I recognized you right away too,” I answered, and at that moment our waitress approached to give us menus.

Over lunch, we reminisced, but during the conversation, I felt Sabrina was a nervous and unsure of herself somehow. I couldn’t think why she should be, so I didn’t ask right away. But by the time we were to dessert and coffee, I was sure there must be something troubling on her mind, so I decided to just be honest.

“Sabrina, correct me if I’m out of line, but I keep getting the feeling that you’re agitated or nervous about something, and I’m just wondering if you wanted to talk to me about something besides our past. Is there anything else on  your mind that you’re hesitant to bring up?”

She looked at me earnestly, nibbled on her lip, looked away, took a sip of water, and then heaved a sigh and looked me right in the eye. “Yes there is, Tess. I wasn’t sure if I would bring it up or not, and after we sat down together, I thought that I’d been foolish to even think about involving you in this … situation, I guess you’d call it … but since I’ve gotten you here and you can obviously see that there’s a problem, I might as well go ahead.”

“If something’s going on that I can help with, please tell me,” I said, not really sure I was all that eager to get involved in someone else’s problems, but feeling more or less obligated to at least act as if I were willing.

She picked up her fork and sort of rolled it around in her fingers as she concentrated on her thoughts and then started to talk. “When I said I had Googled you, it was actually for a little more than just wanting to reconnect and talk over old times. I had heard from some of the other people in town who had kept in touch with your parents that  you are a private detective now. And … well —” She paused and looked me right in the eye again.

“Yes, that’s correct,” I said. “Are you saying you need a private detective?”

She glanced down at the fork she was still twisting in her hands and then back up at me. “Yes,” she said in a rush of breath. “Yes. I want to hire you.” Then she leaned closer and whispered. “I need to find out who’s ……………..”

Please go down to the “Comments” section and tell me how YOU think this last sentence should end. I’ve thought about going two or three different directions with this story, but I cant make up my mind.  I’d like to know what readers think. What direction would you like this story to go?  In your own imagination, what is Sabrina’s problem? Maybe your suggestion will give me the next paragraph — and the next chapter.

 

~~~

 

 

 

Share Your World 2016 – Week 30

Cee’s “Share Your World” challenges are a good way to get to know other bloggers better. If you’d like to participate just follow the link to her site and get the details.

GLOBE WITH SMILEY

Question # 1: Do you prefer a bath or shower?

A shower. I feel much cleaner after a shower than after a bath, and showers are quicker.

Question # 2: If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? 

Well, since we’re supposing/wishing/ imagining, I’ll have to say that the store I would CHOOSE is one that no longer exists. My favorite store in the whole world was a huge department store in Nashville, Tennessee for many years. When I was much younger, my family and I lived in Nashville, and one of our favorite treats was shopping at Harvey’s Department Store.

Naturally, they had some of everything — except foods such as fresh meat, produce, and dairy.They did have food gifts, however. And, of course, they had a ‘bargain basement’ for the shoppers who wanted merchandise that was more economical. We generally shopped in all the departments, depending on our needs or our current financial situation.

In the basement, they also had the most terrific lunch counter. It was a complete square, centered around the open kitchen area so that customers could watch their food being prepared. They had the best chicken salad sandwiches!

There was also another restaurant on the fourth floor, but it was a fairly high class place. Called the Carousel Room, it offered an enormous variety on the menu, and it was famous for it’s special recipe apple pie. The name was chosen because Fred Harvey, the stores creator, had a special love for carousels and carousel horses. In fact the carousel horse was his trademark. Gaily decorated horses, purchases from a number of retired carousel owners throughout the country, adorned the front of the store just above the awnings and also decorated several areas throughout the interior of the store.

Some of my fondest memories with my family are connected with our shopping excursions at Harvey’s, and I wish so much that it still existed so that I could shop there again.

Question # 3: If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what age would that be?

Forty-seven

Question # 4: List at least five movies that cheer you up.

  1. Desk Set
  2. It’s A Wonderful Life
  3. The Bishop’s Wife
  4. Christmas In Connecticut
  5. You’ve Got Mail
  6. My Future Boyfriend

    (I guess you noticed that 4 out of the 6 are Christmas movies. Can’t help it. Whenever I’m feeling a little blue, I generally put on Christmas movies and Christmas music. Cheers me up every time.)

Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week ahead?

I’m very grateful for all the people who have been willing to give me rides to so many places while I am without a car. Even looking for a new car requires help from someone to take me from dealer to dealer. So the generosity of my family and friends is a great blessing right now.

This coming week I am looking forward to trying out a new hairstylist. Normally, the thought of having to change stylists and find someone new who will do what I want and need where color and cuts are concerned would make me a little edgy. But ever since I talked with the gentlemen who owns a new salon in my hometown, I have felt very positive about him. So I’m expecting good things. Who knows: I may actually be beautiful when I leave there!!!

 

 

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Too Hot For Anything But Cinquain

HOT CLIP ART#1
Windy:
Flash summer storm,
The fan I’ve turned on high,
My neighbor in her gossip mode—
Hot air.

#2
Sidewalks
Could fry an egg.
Too hot to walk barefoot.
The asphalt melts beneath car wheels.
July.

#3
The sweat
Runs down my nose,
Forms currents down my back,
And plasters underwear to skin:
Heat wave.

 

~~~

Daily Post Prompt: Unpredictable Eunice

WOMAN W. QUESTIONS
Unpredictable Eunice – her name:
For changing her mind was her game.

She’d start out the day wearing blue;
Then change when the day was half through.

She’d order a meal on a date,
But then, asking the waiter to wait,
She would dither and dather and hop
From entree to entree, then stop
And request her original dish.
That she’d go home was her waiter’s wish.

When it came to the men in her life,
She was asked to be several men’s wife,
But she just couldn’t make up her mind,
And each man did eventually find,
When he looked up the aisle for his bride,
She had run to another man’s side.

Oh, poor Eunice; she wasn’t well liked,
And folks thought her quite curiously psyched.

But each one could predict accurately —
Could bet money and win frequently —
That when Eunice had made up her mind,
She would change it again in no time.

Unpredictable Eunice — her name.
And she’ll never change that: What a shame!

~~~

To participate in today’s challenge, visit The Daily Post.

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5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Life Happier

SMILEY - YEL,ORANGE
A strict definition of the word “happy” would lead us to the root “hap,” which means “chance or fortune.” Because of that most scholars consider that happiness is determined by the chance circumstances of life, whereas joy is something that comes from within, irrespective of circumstances. There is undoubtedly some truth in those definitions, but most people today, when they use the term “happy” are referring to “feeling good, cheerful and positive.” And that definition of “happiness” is what I’m sharing about in this post.

Most of my readers know that I am a consecrated Christian, and naturally, for me, having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the root of all my happiness. It can be for everyone who knows Him. However, there are some things that every individual — regardless of his spirituality — can do to make his life (and the lives of those around him) happy and pleasant. The following list is, by no means, exhaustive, but it offers five suggestions to perk up our everyday lives and give us a greater sense of happiness and peace. They can also make us much more pleasant to be around.

1. Decide that you really do want to be happy.

As ridiculous at it sounds, there are actually people out there who enjoy being miserable and feeling sorry for themselves. I hate to admit it, but I even tried that attitude once — for most of two years in my life. It was horrible, but, more importantly, it was stupid. No one else in my life wanted to join in my pity party, and if I insisted on talking about all the problems I faced and how sad I felt, their attention drifted off to another realm or they just got up and left.

Now, we all need encouragement once in a while, and there’s nothing wrong with letting a good, solid friend know that you’re facing a problem and would appreciate his input or prayers. But once that’s done, we need to focus on working toward the solution and not on continued effort to garner sympathy.

2. Recognize that it is no one else’s responsibility to make you happy

This strange belief that another person should meet all of our expectations and cater to our needs before anything else, so as to make us happy, is one of the primary causes of failed marriages.  Hopefully, we have a marriage partner and/or a few friends who care enough about us to want to see us happy and to want to add to that happiness. However, it is not their responsibility to do so. And once we recognize that fact — and determine to do all that we can to make our own lives happy and pleasant — we will find that we are much more free to actually enjoy the other people in our lives much better than if we’re always trying to get them to make us feel good.

3. Refuse to let circumstances dictate whether or not you are a happy person.

There’s not one human being on the face of the earth who does not face problems — major problems. No two people face exactly the same thing, and no individual faces the same degree of problems all the time. But no one goes through this life without having things happen from time to time that cause him pain or struggle or loss of some kind. And it’s true that some folks seem to get deluged with several big problems at the same time. But those problems — or the lack of them — do not make us who we are.

We must discover for ourselves who we are as a person — what do we believe, what are our standards, what level of morality do we live by, what are our goals, and what do we want to give to the rest of the world as our contribution to humanity? When we know ourselves that well, then we can face the problems staring at us and start planning how to use what we know about ourselves to either fix, overcome, or go around those problems.

And once we determine that we are not going to let the problems dictate our happiness — but rather, we are going to dictate to the problems — it becomes much easier to enlist real help from other sources. We are not crawling to those sources bemoaning our fate, but walking into their presence with confidence that shows we are ready to find solutions and move forward.

4. Smile every time you look at anyone: another human being, an animal, or yourself in the mirror.

Have you ever really looked at the people you pass on the sidewalk, or the grocery store aisle, or the gas station? Most people aren’t smiling these days. And, granted, there are a whole lot of circumstances in this world that are bad enough to rob us of our smiles. But, just as we said in suggestion # 3 above, we must not let the circumstances dictate to us. So make it a point to smile when you look at yourself in the mirror first thing in the morning, and again when you comb your hair to go out, and yet again when you brush your teeth before you go to bed (if you do). Then smile at every person you pass or come into contact with throughout the day.

Now, I admit, that for some of us, our face muscles might feel a little sore after 24 hours of smiling, but, like any other muscles, a little more exercise will get them into shape, and then there will be no pain. Medical science tells us that smiling and laughing have a definite positive effect on the physical health of our bodies — and the emotional health as well. I would go so far as to predict that if you are feeling depressed a lot lately, if you will follow this suggestion and literally smile at everyone all day for about three days, you’ll be surprised at how much better and brighter you feel at the end of that time.

Not only that, but smiles open the doors to conversations, and many times the simplest initial conversation between two people has resulted in their finding so much in common that they eventually became good friends. Moreover, smiling can open the door to encourage people to ask for directions or suggestions if they are traveling or shopping, and helping someone else is one of the best prescriptions for dissolving away depression.

5. Give yourself time and opportunity to do some things that give you real pleasure and peace.

Even if you’re situation is such that you can find only 10 minute segments of time, try to plan for those periods of time and deliberately use them for activities that add to your feeling of happiness. Caregivers and mothers with several children are especially prone to avoid planning time for themselves. I’ve been in that situation myself, and it is difficult to make ourselves plan something entertaining or fun or just restful when the people we’re caring for are so needy. But, in truth, we can give much more to those we care about if we take time for receiving what we need to keep us strong and positive as well.

Some days it may just be taking a catnap. Other times it may be reading for a few minutes. Of course, ideally, having a few hours at a time, will be especially beneficial, but even 10 or 20 minutes of reading something that  you truly enjoy will refresh you and give you a fresh attitude. Maybe your choice is listening to music, or watching  a favorite TV program. Maybe it’s a trip to the lake or the park to just sit and soak up nature. Maybe it’s having lunch with a friend, going shopping for an afternoon, or working with your favorite tools in your garage or workshop.

But make a decision to put real effort into giving yourself the gift of enjoyment. Do whatever it takes to secure those experiences for yourself and then enjoy them to the full. Don’t feel the least bit guilty. When that period of time is over, go ahead and start planning for the next time.

So do you want to be happier?

Putting these suggestions into practice can go a long way to getting there. I honestly believe happiness — the state of feeling good, cheerful, and positive — truly can be a choice. I hope the suggestions I’ve shared here will help a few of my readers to put more effort into making the choice to be happy every day for the rest of their lives. I’m going to be working harder at it myself.

 

 

~~~

 

 

‘Slate’ – My Newest Novel is Now on Kindle

SLATE COVER # 2 - correctedEveryone calls him Slate, and you won’t want to miss knowing him. Rough around the edges, a little slack in his morals, but totally irresistible all the same.

When I started writing this my 11th novel, it was going to be Vanessa Hayes’ story. But, somehow, while I was minding my own business — just sitting at my computer keyboard — quietly putting the story together one chapter at a time — Slate took over. And I’m so glad he did. I struggled with this novel for a couple years, but once Slate came to the front of the story, it flowed the way it was always intended to do.

What’s it about? Well, several of my readers know because they followed the story with me while I posted it one chapter at a time (under a different title) on this site. And they helped it along with their comments and encouragement. But for the rest of you, here’s a short synopsis:

While in Florida looking for her brother Ken, who has disappeared, Vanessa Hayes meets Slate. Owner of Buccaneer Boat Charter Service, Slate is actually better known in the area as the local rake. Moreover, his connections with sources on the wrong side of the law prove more valuable than local law enforcement in helping Vanessa discover Ken’s fate.

But Slate’s attention isn’t fully centered on the investigation. His primary interest is in seducing Vanessa, even though she is engaged to a man back home who’s very much in love with her.

As the investigation heats up, so does Slate’s pursuit of Vanessa, causing her life-long commitment to the Lord to meet head on with temptations she never thought she’d have to face.

And in the meantime, the Lord is in pursuit of Slate. Love on several levels gets a workout in this story, and the resolution will stick with you long after you’ve read the words “The End.”

The book is now available for purchase at the Amazon Kindle Store, and because the contract with Amazon is exclusive, I won’t be able to leave the chapters on this site for free reading. But I hope some of you will hop over and check it out. Even if you read it here, if you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll buy one for someone you love.

And don’t forget. You don’t have to own a Kindle. Amazon offers a free Kindle app for any device. You can download it from the same page where you order the book.

Just follow the link and get to know Slate for yourself.

 

 

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Daily Post Prompt: Desert

DESERT MINE

You say you just can’t trust my love is true.
So I am meditating what to do.
Somehow, I think there’s no convincing you
That I’m the faithful type all through and through.

How to forestall your fears I wish I knew,
I’ve had myself in such a miserable stew.
But I’ve brought it down to this: Here’s what I’d do.
I’d cross the desert on a three-legged mule for you.

And if that’s not good enough, my dear — I’m through!

~~~
Okay, I know it’s a ridiculous poem, but I didn’t get started until late in the afternoon, and it’s the best I could come up with. If you want to participate in today’s prompt, drop in at The Daily Post.

 

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Prompt Nights # 21: Dancing

To take part in this writing challenge, visit “A Dash of Sunny.”

 

THE DANCE HAS ENDED
ANTEBELLUM MANSION - WOODLANDS - BONNIE BLUE PUB  FREE CLIP ART

I wish I could dance in your arms again,
As we did in Richmond and drank champagne,
Before you left for the battle’s fray,
Handsome and sure in your rebel gray,
Proud to be a Confederate son,
Anxious to get the victory won.

I wish I could dance in your arms again
And hear once more the song’s refrain,
And feel your breath on my blushing cheek.
How often my heart those memories seeks.
Those glorious antebellum days
Are gone — with all their gracious ways.

For guns and spears and rivers of blood —
Though all were spent — yielded no good.
And in those brutal wounds of war
The truth at last we finally saw:
Our gallant men and Southland slain.
I’ll never dance in your arms again.

I wish I could dance in your arms again.

~~~

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Blue Publishing Free Confederate Clip Art

 

 

 

Leg-Shackled

 

BALL & CHAIN FREE CLIP ART
freeclipartnow.com

Nathaniel was feeling quite blue.
To his Darling, he’d been quite untrue.
Though he hadn’t been caught,
With his conscience he fought,
And was trying to think what to do.

He could keep it a secret from her.
If she questioned him, maybe defer.
But if someone else told —
Some old gossip quite bold —
Then his Darling would toss him for sure.

What to do, what to do — so distressed.
It was not that he loved Darling best.
But she had lots of dough,
And his coffers were low.
So perhaps he should crawl and confess.

But, alas, he had let time expire.
Darling charged in, her eyes full of fire.
Six feet tall and quite round —
Nearly three hundred pounds —
She immediate repentance inspired.

She said, “Nate, dear, you should be ashamed.
Your unfaithfulness has caused me pain.
But I know how to fix
You and your bag of tricks.”
Round his leg she did fasten a chain.

Now Nathaniel is faithful and true.
After all, there’s not much else to do.
For his Darling learned fast:
If she wants love to last,
A girl does what she just has to do.

 

 

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