Cycle 7 - Stories!!

Posted by Kat 07/16/2020 4 Comment(s) Inanna's Game,

Ready, Set, Write!!

 

We are ready for the next batch of Inanna’s Game stories! What have you created with this cycle's inspirations?

 

This cycle’s stories should be utilizing the inspiration that was posted yesterday. Once you have written your tale and corrected it to make it as readable as possible, please post it here as a reply to this post, so that others can read your work. Make sure to put the snippet, character, and scenario numbers that you used in the top part of the post!

 

Two days before the next cycle starts, comments and voting for the best story will be cut off at 5 PM. The following day, a winner will be announced.

 

Each story remains the copyrighted material of the author posting the story. Please give us the title of the story, the identification of the snippets, characters, and scenes that you attempted to use, as well as any comments you think applicable.

4 Comment(s)

Paul C. Middleton:
07/22/2020, 05:15:30 PM, http://paulcmiddleton.com
Reply

Sorry I bailed for two weeks. Family and other issues. But Hunter's Apprentice is back, with chapters 4 and 5. The inspiration I chose this week was snippet 4, scenario 1, character 3.

Chapter 4 – Snow Trouble
Their first attempt at leaving the cave for Aldrig’s home was a failure. The female cub was able to keep up with the Master Hunter and his apprentice. However, the other two young leopards seemed to be unable to keep up in the deep snows that the thunder-blizzard had left.

Rhodri was already nervous about the prospect of being forced to stay in the cave for the winter. Aldrig was relatively untroubled by that possibility for several reasons. In his experience, a heavy early snowfall cleared quickly, and lead to an extension of the leaf-fall season.

What was worrying him was the unwillingness of the two male cubs to travel far from the cave. Aldrig was no Beastmaster, and his knowledge of how to lead and train animals had come down from his father. That meant it was focused on horses, not the war and hunting beasts that the clans he lived with trained.

Even that knowledge was dusty and unused. No Master Hunter used horses for more than travel along roads, although the Huntmasters and their lodges sometimes did. Any of the equine beasts were too likely to make enough noise to spook prey. For people like Aldrig, a sole man tracking a wild animal, horses were too risky to use.

Between them, the pair of humans arrived at a workable idea in taking the male cubs with them. By skinning their mother before her body began to rot, and using her skin and familiar scent, it might be possible to carry those two timid cats above their backpacks in an attached frame lined with their mother’s fur.

Both the humans worked on the skin, cleaning it, so there was no flesh nor fat to rot it. Tanning the hide was not an option. Nor was any heat treatment other than pressing heated stones onto the inside if they wanted to preserve the smell of the fur. It took an entire night for them to cobble together upper frameworks and clean the skin of all trace of fat or meat.

They tested the contraptions the third day after the blizzard, and the cubs seemed to be happy with them. Aldrig was not pleased with how awkwardly his apprentice walked the pathways with the extra weight on his back, but Rhodri refused to let his master carry all the additional burden.

To quell his concerns, Aldrig decided to teach the young man another hunter’s trick. “There will be times where you find yourself needing a spear and without one. You could choose not to bring one, thinking it unneeded to hunt the beast you have been called to kill. Perhaps, mischance or mishap will destroy the weapon or cause you to lose it. In either case, you should be able to make a substitute.”

“First, you will need to find a reasonably straight branch of six feet long or more. You will want one that is green, springy, and twice as thick as…” The older man paused, comparing his hand’s size to that of his apprentice, “…well, my thumb for this.”

To continue the lesson, Aldrig led them out of the cave. The pair of them patrolled the edge of the woods, with Rhodri pointing out potential branches until they found one low enough on a yew that was the right size and length. Aldrig took his hatchet and quickly severed it at the trunk, before passing it to the lad.

They continued walking the half-circle around the cave, keeping an eye out for the two male cubs. The female kitten was shadowing Rhodri most of the time. It occasionally became distracted by movement in the woods, but as soon as it could not see the young man or his master, it started mewing. This bothered Aldrig, as the behavior was not natural.

As they wandered, Aldrig paused when he spotted the telltale stem and leaf for wild onions and carrots. Once Rhodri saw what his teacher was looking for, he started adding to the collection of roots. Finding some herbs he knew were safe, the young man collected them as well, to hopefully improve the bland flavor of the evening stew.

“Are you sure those are safe?” Aldrig was concerned by his apprentice's enthusiasm. Many plants could be safe to eat in spring, but lethal in the fall. Or the reverse. Eating the wrong plants could result in debilitating sickness. Alone in the trackless wilds, the older man did not want either of them to suffer that problem.

“This is what I collected with my mother in the autumn, and I am still here,” Rhodri sniffed, slightly offended by the implication that he would put his master or himself at risk of poisoning.

Both men avoided all the mushrooms nearby. Harvesting the often delicious foodstuffs was a specialized task, done by initiates of the Horned One, Cerrannos, God of the Wilds. To pick these unusual plants, the uninitiated risked the wrath of that God. That God’s displeasure was often swift, painful, and lethal. Cerrannos was often fickle, and the wise rarely risked his anger.

The Master Hunter paused when he found a tree that had been gouged by something. It had a clump of resin over the wound. Aldrig knew he would need that for this evening’s lesson. He carefully cut it free of the tree, wrapped the sticky lump in a still pliable leaf, and carried it with him.

Having circled the edge of the hollow, they returned to the cave. Aldrig was relieved that there had been no sign of predators around the cave. Once he had started Rhodri working on the final preparations of their travel on the next day, he could begin to check the snares both of them had laid.

Seating himself on a rock in the cave, Aldrig asked his apprentice to restart the fire from the coals. While his apprentice did this, the older man sharpened his hatchet for bark trimming. Finding a burr on the edge of the blade, he scowled, knowing he would have to replace the tool once he arrived home. The hunter resented the expense that would incur over and above equipping his apprentice.

When the campfire was burning, he said, “I need you to strip the bark from that branch. Tonight we will make you a basic spear. That way, you will have something with which to defend yourself while we travel.”
“Surely, you are more than capable of protecting me,” Rhodri said with a blinding innocence that the Master Hunter felt was dangerous in someone his apprentice’s age. Aldrig slapped his apprentice across the face, just hard enough to sting. More startled than hurt, Rhodri drew back in shock and saw the anger in his master’s expression. This was the first time Aldrig had shown any disappointment or disapproval to the youth, and that stung worse than the slap.

“My first job is to teach you to look after yourself in the wild. Any opportunity I have, I will teach you the skills you need.” Aldrig growled. “If a lone wolf attacked you, I would expect you to defend yourself. Against a bear, you are not ready yet, and I would come to your aid.” His tone softened as he finished, “I know your father, and I expect you have been taught the basics of using a spear. That is why we will make you one.”

Rhodri kept his hand away from his stinging face. He could tell the older man was serious. The youth realized their relationship was not what he had initially expected. Most masters were responsible for the upkeep and protection of their charges, but this was not entirely the case with Aldrig.

The Master Hunter had shown a willingness to cover upkeep and was willing to protect Rhodri, but only in some circumstances. There was more flexibility in what the older man would shield his apprentice from. He expected the younger man to have a certain level of capability already.

Some people might have been discouraged by that attitude. Rhodri saw it as a challenge. The youth was sure he was too young and small for some of the tasks his master did. That he was expected to do as much as he could was a declaration of responsibility. All children in the tribe learned that with greater obligations came more freedoms.

“Next, you need to strip the bark from the branch we cut,” Aldrig instructed, handing the youth his hatchet. Rhodri knelt down and gripped the branch between his knees. Gripping the back of the axe-head carefully, he dug the blade through the bark before shifting the angle to continue striping without digging into the wood.

Rhodri found a section of the cave that was raised and would allow him to keep striping the bar with the same method. Without a willing playmate, the kitten had found a ledge about shoulder height on Rhodri and lay down on it, head on paws, watching the lad curiously.

After the older man had seen the boy strip one end of the branch clear of bark, he was satisfied that he could leave the boy to the task. Once Aldrig could see that his charge was engrossed in labor, he rose to check the snares that they had set earlier in the day.

By the time the hunter returned, four rabbits and an exceptionally large hare over his shoulder, he found his apprentice working on the task with a vengeance. Having stripped the bark, the lad had found a cleft in a rock to run the length of wood back and forth along, turning it after every couple of passes. This would smooth the shaft and remove any splinters.

Aldrig smiled inwardly, his original belief restored. The lad had potential, despite some misconceptions. All he needed was to be pushed and corrected, trained and taught. Motivation would not be a problem for the youth he saw in front of him, focused on the task.

Building up the fire, Aldrig brought out the glob of resin he had collected earlier. Placing it close enough to the flames to warm the sticky lump, he peeled the leaf off it, making sure no fragment stayed behind. The last thing he needed was for the resin to burn.

Moving across to the lad, he waited until Rhodri paused in his work. Clearing his throat and holding out his hand, Aldrig gained the attention of his apprentice. Taking up the worked wood when it was offered to him, he scrutinized it. Cleaned, but not smoothed too much, the branch had been cleared of splinters and areas which might cause them.

“That should do well. Now cut the tip into one end.” The master watched and waited while his charge went about the task. Every person Aldrig had seen cut their first wooden spear point made the same mistake his apprentice did.

The inclination to cut a point aligned with the center of the shaft seemed to be a part of human nature until they were taught better. A smile twitched onto the master’s lips as he considered the issue.
Rhodri handed the whittled point back, and Aldrig could not hold in his chuckle. The lad looked offended at his amusement, so the older man explained, “Everyone does this the first time they make a wooden spearpoint. I did. Every member of any hunter’s lodge has. You need the point aligned to the bottom of the branch when you thrust. Show me your form, and I will fix it. Then you can finish the weapon.”

Rhodri found a flat section of the cave floor, took a comfortable grip, and settled into the fighting stance. Stepping forward, he thrust hard forward. “Again, keep the point low. Raise your rear elbow,” the hunter’s voice snapped using an instructor’s tone. “You are fending off an animal, not a human.”

Rhodri repeated the thrust several times until his teacher was satisfied with his form. Taking the spear, and making sure his apprentice was watching, Aldrige took the hatchet to fix the tip, making it more of a wedge to the point. “This is less likely to break, and if it does break, it will probably still leave you with a usable tip.”

Pointing to the now-warm resin, Aldrig ordered the lad to put a thin layer of the sticky substance along the shaft. Once Rhodri was done, Aldric asked, “Do you want to finish the point, or would you rather I do it?”
Rhodri was swaying slightly, and his nerves began to show. “I want to finish it,” He started, “But I think it better if I watch.” The youth yawned, the physical effort and focus he had driven into the task showing the toll it had taken. Aldrig nodded and took both the resin and the spear from the lad.

Making sure there was a thick chunk of resin around the point, Aldrig worked it along the stone floor, careful not to scrape through the resin into the wood. Once there was a thick but even layer, he stepped forward and thrust the point into the heart of the fire. Rhodri took an involuntary step forward, worried that his master was destroying the evening’s work.

A sharp indrawn breath came from the youth, as the older man kept the point in the fire for what seemed to be an eternity, Rhodri started dancing from foot to foot with concern. It was in the flames for less than thirty seconds. Taking it out, Aldrig waited for it to cool. Testing the point, Aldrig nodded in approval.

“A solid point. A workable weapon for the travel. Now lie down while I prepare the food. I’ll make sure we are as packed as we can be for the morrow once you are asleep.” Then the hunter started preparing rabbit for the cubs, and the hare for roasting over the fire.

The warmth of the cave was not matched by the intense glow of pride inside Rhodri from the praise, however faint, he had been given by Aldrig.

Chapter 5 – Unwelcome Return

It took them seven days of travel to reach Briwanon. The village was first spotted by Rhodri, as he saw what looked like a massive rock in the distance.

“What is that Aldrig,” the young man asked as he spotted the top of the structure looming out of the distance.

“It is a dun, lad, a fortified settlement with a broch tower. The home of my Lord Cadog, and the sentry over the village of Briwanon.”

Rhodri had heard the structures described by his father before, but he still frowned. He could not understand how men could make such a structure. To him, especially at the distance he had spotted it, the tower looked more like a thick finger of stone. It was only when they topped the last rise before the village’s fields that he could make out that the building was not a single massive rock.

The young man could see that it was made up of an enormous number of individual rocks, slotted, and shaped to form the structure before him. His surprise caused him to draw in his breath sharply. He had seen stonework before, but nothing on this scale. It had to be at least five or six stories tall.

The tallest manmade structure Rhodri had seen before was only two stories tall. His mind boggled at the broch tower on the hill in the center of the walled settlement he saw. Beyond those walls, more houses spread out and down the mound.

The entire settlement was so different from Rhodri’s hometown that Briwanon felt like he was in a different world. Dalcree sat on the plains and was spread out, unfortified as a trade town between the clans and the horsepeople. Anyone who attacked Dalcree risked the wrath of both peoples. Their connections were the guarantee of safety for that settlement.

As they drew closer, the party of two humans and three kittens was split by their emotions. Four were nervous, but Aldrig was relieved. Rhodri was disappointed that his time in the wild was over but thrilled at the opportunity to see new places and meet new people. The kitten that had bonded to him padded along, happy as long her master showed no fear. Her two brothers were not so calm. They quietly mewed in consternation as the wind brought over a large number of strange odors.

The wind was frigid. It carried flurries on the winter air., Much more snow fell this high in the mountains where Briwanon lay. . As the weather was closing in, more snow fell. Figures could be seen gathering to meet them, but the soft snowfall enclosed the five in gentle silence.

As they approached the village, chickens could be seen pecking at the ground beside the road for grain discarded from any recent threshings. To keep rats away from the grains, the harvest was stored in lofts. Just like Dalcree, threshing was completed slowly over the early winter, providing extra fodder for animals while separating the grains for the daily bread.

All of these sights gave the village a sense of familiarity to Rhodri. The rhythm of the seasons was the same, despite the differences in place and people. Aldrig snuck a glance at his apprentice and saw the tension slowly slipping from his frame.

New locations and people made some people nervous, but that was a problem that Rhodri would have to overcome. No Master Hunter could show more than a wary caution on their travels, lest the local villagers decide they were up to no good.

As the crowd swept around them, parting to let them take the path up to the lord’s hall, both humans could hear and understand their murmurs.

Rhodri heard some details about his master from the crowd. Things like how Aldrig had only taken one apprentice in the past. Someone commented that while the Master Hunter had given the lord’s children some lessons in the past, he had refused to be their tutor in those skills. Another groaned that the boy’s presence would flare up the rivalry that the Huntmaster felt for Aldrig.

The murmuring was blocked out as a tall man covered in furs (and not too clean) pushed his way through the crowd. Grabbing Aldrig into a rough embrace, he said, “It is good to see you, road brother! You are late this year!”

“I told you I was fulfilling an oath to another road brother, Beastmaster Kare. Besides, my new apprentice Rhodri found something along the way. Sehdi’s blood, but all of our skills in that one,” Aldrig replied as he smiled to the Beastmaster.

“I know, I see the kitten padding along behind him.” A frown crossed Kare’s face, “But it seems to be bonded already.”

Rhodri’s mind ran fast as he absorbed the details. Knowing this could be critical, he carefully took his pack off his shoulders and said, “I believe you are right that the kitten at my heels will know no other master. However, the one on my back should be sufficient payment for training the one that is mine.” Then he lifted the cowering kitten from the jury-rigged frame on top of his backpack and glanced at his master, who nodded in approval.

The Beastmaster’s eyes widened at the sight of a second, much more timid, kitten. “It is a wonder that you found two healthy kits.” A broad grin crossed Aldrig’s face as he too set down his burden and reached into the rambling frame. At the sight of a third cub, the Beastmaster took a step back.

The male kittens were terrified. The noise of the crowd echoed against the buildings. They were overwhelmed by the press of the people. Worse, the sour smells of the close bodies were more intense than they had ever experienced. Added to that, the noxious odor was made worse by the various scents some of the wealthier villagers used to cover their unwashed winter state.
“Three cubs. I’ll need the story of this one!”

Sadly, murmurs arose from the villagers at the revelation. “Who will feed the four extra mouths?” came a scornful yell from a cluster at the back of the crowd. “Best take them all out to the forest and kill them!” A harsh chuckle rose from the group as a young man stepped forward.

Kare and Aldrig looked at each other, then turned to face the voice. The crowd parted, clearing room between that cluster. Several townspeople ran up the path to the walls, desperate to find someone to defuse the confrontation.

“Best leash your yapping pup, Heneg,” Aldrig growled. The members of the hunter’s lodge had arrived.

<<<>>>

Rhodri’s blood boiled at the statement that he or the cubs be killed out of hand. He moved to step forward, but a restraining hand from his master held him in check. A deeper voice answered, “I don’t see the need. You refuse to place yourself under me, so you don’t have my protection,” an answer came from an older man holding a large boar spear in his left hand. The man turned to the cluster and said, “Ewenn, since you claim the solution, I leave it to you.”

Then the Huntmaster left the scene. The gathered Hunters and their apprentices spread out. Kare’s eyes narrowed as he saw all of them carried spears, and that the lodge must be nearly empty. Aldrig sighed and ducked down to draw his darts from their quiver.

“Bozel, the pack, Talis, the cubs,” the Beastmaster snapped, and two youths moved in the crowd. One ran to a nearby building, the other dashed forward to gather the three cubs and take them clear of the conflict.
With the Beastmaster standing with the Master Hunter, the lodge looked to each other nervously. The conflict was not going as they intended. Rhodri could feel his companion’s distress at being separated, even temporarily, from her master. Baring his teeth in a furious smile, the young man snarled at the pack of hounds that the lodge represented.

Aldrig knew at that moment he had chosen well in accepting this apprentice. A Master Hunter could not depend on others. Outnumbered and out-armed, they stood their ground. The pack of youths and younger men from the lodge spread out to surround the three in the middle.

Kare drew his knife and let out a three-tone whistle. A baying answered from behind the building Bozel had entered, and three enormous war-dogs came charging from that direction. It was now six against eight.

The crunch of marching boots on the gravel road accompanied a steady clink of metal. A man surrounded by guards in mail approached. “Enough!” the man bellowed over the confusion and shouts from the crowd, who were expecting a fight. Approaching the senior hunter that was facing off against Aldrig, he ripped the spear out of his hands and snapped the shaft across a leg.

“I do not house a hunter’s lodge to threaten any of my retainers, Ewenn. Return to your master and remind him that while Aldrig does not serve him, both of them, and you, serve my father!” The man wore leather armor rather than mail and carried a sword at his hip. His cloak was of the finest wool, with bright embroidery and trimmed in otter fur.

After the shock of the intervention, Rhodri noticed that Aldrig and Kare were both kneeling on one knee and bowing their heads. Awkwardly, he knelt on his right knee and followed their example. Most of the lodge was doing the same, but Ewenn was frozen in shock.

“Go tell your master my words, hunter, before I exile you for a full turning of the seasons.”

“Yes, Lord Fintan,” the hunter mumbled before dashing off like a whipped mutt.

The lordling looked over the rest of the lodge members and said, “This is not a hunting party, but a welcoming committee. Since you seem to want to work, go gather some meat for a feast.” Several of the soldiers drew swords and settled shields as if expecting a fight.

Angry murmurs came from the crowd as they recognized how the conflict could have harmed the village. While the hunters were an asset, having a Master Hunter resident over the winter protected the people from the threat of raids or outside thieves. Those hardy souls were known as manhunters for a reason. The presence of one discouraged all but the most desperate.

Once the hunters had headed out, with half the guards seeing them to the edge of the houses, Fintan approached the Beastmaster and Master Hunter. Snorting at the fact that both of them were still kneeling, the young man said, “Stop acting so formal. Both of you were my teachers, and the judgment is over. Stand up.”

Once they were both on their feet, Fintan nodded to Kare. “Thank you for holding them at bay, but I need to talk to Aldrig.” Kare nodded, whistled for his dogs, and headed back to his house.

Mark1724:
07/25/2020, 08:35:39 PM

I am really enjoying this series! Thanks for letting us read it. My vote is you.

David MI:
07/25/2020, 08:48:06 PM

I like this story. Do you have a book? I liek to read.

Paul C. Middleton:
08/01/2020, 10:26:40 AM

David MI Yes, I have several books published. May I suggest A Mongrel's Curse on amazon? shorturl.at/fkOS6 Or perhaps Through the Veil? shorturl.at/vwHJY

Summer Donnelly:
Reply

S’mores Day Afternoon
Summer Donnelly

Snippet 3, character 2, scenario 3

Chapter 1 – The Library


Twenty-one-year-old Tucker Williams had things to do. The architect student needed to print off his resume for an upcoming externship, but his printer decided to jam up harder than mall traffic in December. He was, as his father liked to say, the victim of the Williams’ Law of Waiting to the Last Minute. In his dad’s mind, this easily surpassed the one codified by Murphy and his unintended consequences.

After emailing the document to himself, Tucker had climbed into his SUV and headed for the library. After the library, he was going to shoot hoops with his best friend before getting cleaned up for a party at his house. Tucker rocked back and forth on his heels at the thought of his next-door neighbor, Annaliese, who had promised to come.
Tucker couldn’t help the hint of a silly grin that touched his lips as he shifted impatiently side to side. They’d been neighbors since middle school, but back then, she was just Anna. A little too young to notice but always giggling with his younger sister Caitlin.

When Tucker had arrived home from college at the beginning of the summer, however, he had noticed that Anna, with the skinned knees and loose ponytail had turned into Annaliese with her exquisitely different colored eyes and long blonde curls. Somewhere over the last school year, the girl next door had turned into a gorgeous knockout.

They’d hung out a few times with friends and, much to Tucker’s chagrin, he found himself utterly smitten with her. The problem was, he didn’t know how to bridge their relationship from neighbors to dating to…maybe more? Hopefully more? He reminded himself they were too young for the “hopefully more” part, but Tucker couldn’t resist dreaming. His heart just beat a little faster when she was in the room.
It was August now, and so far, all Tucker had managed to do was see her in group functions. Girls, he found out, traveled in packs. Culling one to the side to ask her out was a surprisingly difficult endeavor. The two times he’d rustled up the courage to ask her to a movie, one of her friends had busted in and invited themselves along.

Tonight, he vowed, things were going to be different. Tucker was hosting a potluck cookout by the lake in his backyard. Annaliese had said she’d attend, and Tucker was already planning on walking her home. Finally, a chance to get her alone and ask her for a date. He grinned foolishly at the thought.

Annaliese had just turned eighteen, and they were both headed to UNC-Greensboro in a few days. Tucker to finish out his senior year and get his degree. Annaliese to start her freshman year. It would be the perfect time to start a relationship. And, he admitted ruefully, if it didn’t work out, at least Greensboro was a big enough city so they wouldn’t see each other that often.

Tucker shifted and held back a sigh. All of this was, of course, to indicate he had things to do and places to be at, none of which included being behind a ten-year-old girl who was busily lecturing the librarian.
The girl was struggling with a tall stack of books, nearly half as tall as she was. With a groan that came up from her toes, she lifted the books and plopped them on the desk. The mix of paperbacks and hardcovers thunked loudly, and the girl had to peer around the side to see the disapproving face of the librarian.

Librarians, Tucker realized with a bemused grin, hadn’t changed all that much since he was ten. He wondered if there was a class in Librarian College that taught that slightly disapproving, fun is for other people look the woman perennially wore.

“This is too many books, Miss Martinez,” the librarian scolded. “You were told last time that children your age could only take out five books at a time.”

The young girl sighed in irritation. “I can read five books in a day and a half. What am I supposed to do the other six days? My mom only brings me to the library once a week.”

Tucker snorted at the girl’s impertinence but quickly hid it behind his hand. The outspoken Miss Martinez was going to go far in life, Tucker thought.

“Five, Miss Martinez,” the librarian insisted as she removed the top level of books and leaving the girl only five books.

“No! I need that one on top,” the girl protested. “Today is National S’mores Day. That’s a whole book of recipes for S’mores. I had no idea there were so many options.”

The librarian wasn’t impressed by Miss Martinez’s complaints, but Tucker’s eyes opened wide in awe. That’s was it! That was his ticket to taking Annaliese out on a date!

Chapter 2 – Bedroom Mirror

Annaliese Gibson sat on the floor and stared moodily into the full-length mirror in her friend’s bedroom. “I wish I were. I don’t know. Memorable,” she complained to her best friend, Caitlin Williams. “Had a jaw that could cut glass or one of those waspish waists the Hollywood crowd has.”

“Why would anyone want a jaw that could cut glass? That sounds like it would hurt.” Caitlin asked as she looked up from one of the magazines she was paging through.

“Not literally,” Annaliese said with a roll of her eyes. “Just, you know. Look at me. I’m normal. Commonplace. Run-of-the-mill.” Annaliese loved words. She couldn’t wait to start school in a few weeks and begin work on her degree in English.

She had a small but devoted fan base for her Fashion Vlog, where she covered everything from upcycling thrift stores finds to North Carolina Fashion Week. Her college plans were to get a degree in Fashion and Design with a minor in English. She could continue her vlog and, hopefully, as her skills and knowledge improved, turn it into a business.

Caitlin came up behind her. “You’re memorable, Anna. I have no idea what you’re talking about. You have that thing with the eyes going on. No one who meets you will ever forget you.”

“Heterochromia iridium,” Annaliese said. “One brown eye and one blue. It’s a freak of nature.” She put on a pair of sunglasses and turned to face her friend. “See? Now I look like everyone else. Not even you could pick me out of a crowd.”

Caitlin gently slid the glassed down Annaliese’s nose. “Sharp jaws and waspish waists are also rare events. Most of those Hollywood types had to pay for those things. Besides, you’ve been my best friend since we were nine years old. I could pick you out in the dark if you were wearing a hat, glasses, and an old potato sack.”

Annaliese slumped. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I should be happy with the skin I’m in.” The words were spoken by rote as if she were repeating a phrase her mother said a thousand times a day since she was born.
Downstairs, they heard the distinctive whir of the mail truck’s engine. “Let’s get the mail. I always love seeing what Janet includes with the mail. I swear, she’s like one of those Word of the Day calendars only for holidays,” Annaliese said. “Then maybe we catch that new show on Netflix this afternoon before the party.”

“Which Netflix show?” Caitlin asked.

“You know. The one with the hot twenty-seven-year-old actor with amazing abs who pretends he’s sixteen all the while hanging out with other hot twenty-somethings with amazing bodies,” Annaliese explained.

“Oh, that totally narrows it down,” Caitlin said with a laugh. The two girls slide into their sneakers before heading down the long driveway to the mailbox. Annaliese loved coming over to Caitlin’s house. While the Gibson’s had a nice home in the same neighborhood, the Williams’s had a nearly mile-long driveway and a lake on their property.

Of course, it didn’t also hurt that Caitlin had a hunky older brother, Annaliese thought. She thought Tucker had wanted to maybe ask her out, but so far, he’d been radio silence. She hadn’t so much as received a call, text, or even a direct message from him.

“Do you remember when we used to roller-skate down your driveway?” Annaliese asked.

Caitlin chuckled. “I remember Tucker laughing his butt off at the number of times we fell.”

“We didn’t fall,” Annaliese argued as they approached the mailbox. “We landed with style every single time.”

“You remember it your way. I’ll remember it mine,” Caitlin laughed as she opened the mailbox. “Let’s see what Janet included.”

Janet had been the mail carrier on their street for the last year. At first, no one had noticed when their old carrier had retired, and a new one took over, but eventually, life on Lambert Street had taken on a new sense of wonder.

Mixed in with the bills, junk mail, and personal items, Janet included cards and notes that celebrated various historical events. In January, she had given out Happy Birthday cards for Martin Luther King, Jr., and in March, there had been a 'Beware the Ides of March' card. Annaliese was convinced Janet was a frustrated teacher who was determined to teach and inform everyone on her route.

Getting the mail was now something kids on the street agued over. Siblings complained if one saw the cards first. Parents were now obliged to commemorate odd holidays they had never heard of before.

“Last month, we learned there’s a National Sugar Cookie Day, remember?” Annaliese asked.

“How could I forget? You, me, and Tucker were up half the night celebrating by baking cookies and drinking all the milk.”

“It was fun,” Annaliese protested. “And we cleaned up after ourselves. Did your parents complain?” Not bothering to give Caitlin time to answer, Annaliese continued. “Maybe I’ll include all these holidays on my vlog. My viewers might like them.”

“Hmm,” Caitlin said. She lifted a small postcard with a delicious, gooey looking confection on the front. “Happy S’mores Day,” she said.

Chapter 3 – Cookout

Determined not to succumb to the ever-looming Williams’ Law of Waiting to the Last Minute, Tucker had canceled his plans to play basketball and gone to the grocery store instead. He picked up the food he’d signed to bring to the potluck but had taken a detour down the Seasonal Aisle for ingredients for S’mores. A quick glance at the front of the store told him that the American greeting card companies took an appallingly dim view on National S’mores Day. There wasn’t a single card available to purchase.

Instead, Tucker had double-backed to the library to create and print off his own note. Luckily, after the little girl had left with her stack of Judy Blume and Erin Hunter books, the librarian’s mood had improved. Tucker was able to get his color printed homemade card a little quicker than it had taken to get his resume.

Since it was his party, he went down to the lake early to get the coals going for the food. Cars were filing into his parents’ driveway, and Tucker looked to see if Annaliese was among the early arrivals. She spent most of the summer with his sister Caitlin so Tucker was hoping she would be down sooner rather than later.

His breath caught as he saw her trudging along with a little red wagon full of 12-packs of soda. He jogged over to help her. “Looks like we’ll be well hydrated,” he said, lifting two of the cases to lighten her load. He internally rolled his eyes at his own corny greeting. Would talking to girls ever get easier? he wondered with a shake of his head.

Annaliese blushed and looked away. “Is it too much? I mean, I guess it is a lot of soda. How many kids are coming?”

Tucker groaned. He hadn’t meant to make her embarrassed. “Not sure. A few. It should be fun, though. One last party before we head off to college,” Tucker said as they approached the lake. He and his father had built three picnic tables on the shoreline years ago. Last summer, they had decided to put in an outdoor grilling station complete with a refrigerator and an ice machine.

While Annaliese lit the Tiki lamps full of citronella oil, Tucker realized this was his chance. Elation soared through him that he had Annaliese alone, at least for five more minutes.

“I learned something today,” Tucker said when Annaliese approached him to put the lighter away. The halo of the lights backlit her blonde curls. The incoming dusk and privacy gave them a feeling of intimacy.
“Oh? What’s that?” Annaliese asked, her oddly colored eyes lifting to his.

Tucker’s breath caught by the powerful push into his heart. For a moment, he lost track of what he was going to say but then glanced down at the opened the bag of marshmallows. “Today is National S’mores Day.”
Annaliese drew closer and smiled up at him. “Did you see the card from the mail carrier?”

He shook his head. “No, I heard it at the library today.” With a rueful laugh, he told her about the little girl with all the books.

Annaliese hid her smile with her hand. “Mrs. Jones used to give me that same spiel. She hasn’t changed.”

Tucker pulled a marshmallow out of the bag and put it on a stick so he could heat it for her. “I remember how much you liked celebrating Sugar Cookie Day,” he teased with a little grin.

“We had fun, didn’t we?” Annaliese looked away as though slightly embarrassed by her girlish enthusiasm for the silly make-believe holiday.

“I enjoyed myself very much,” he agreed. Tucker ached to touch her, but he hadn’t entirely crossed that bridge with her. “I even made you a card.”

Annaliese accepted the card with an excited squeal. “I love it. Thank you, Tucker,” Annaliese said, jumping towards him and giving him an impulsive hug. As she realized what she had just done, she pulled back and glanced down at her sneakers. Her cheeks were pink, her eyes downcast as Tucker stepped a little closer.

He liked her hugs. A lot. And discovered he wanted more. A lot more.

He swallowed and touched her hair, marveling at its silken texture. Tucker wanted to tell her how beautiful she was, but the words were firmly stuck in his throat. Instead, despite knowing their privacy would be coming to an end soon, he made up the s’more.

The marshmallow caught fire, and Tucker extended the stick for Annaliese to blow out. As she did, their eyes met. And held. A hunger that had nothing to do with food stirred within him. Tucker made up the sweetened confection and held it out to her.
“What is all this?” Annaliese asked. A little line appeared between her eyebrows as she glanced curiously from his face to the dessert in his hand.

“I wanted to celebrate it with you. You know, like we did with the sugar cookies,” Tucker said. He smiled when she took it out of his hands and bit into it.

Tucker’s hand trembled as he wiped at one corner of Annaliese’s mouth. Their eyes met, his silently asking for permission while hers gave it. “You’ve got a smudge of chocolate on your lips,” he whispered.

“Do I?” Annaliese’s voice dropped to a husky whisper, and her body swayed closer to his, as though pulled by an unseen force. They stood apart but curved into each other, drawn together in a quiet dance of attraction.

Using his thumb, he wiped at her chin and brought the sweet to his lips. He licked it clean. Their eyes met, skin flushed, desire coursing, and combining between them. Cautiously, he trailed the backs of his fingers up her arm and smiled when she shivered and broke out in goosebumps.

Tucker bent his head, unable to resist the siren call of her lips. His touch was tentative at first. The sweetness of the chocolate combined with the heady knowledge of their first kiss and both groaned at honeyed tenderness as he kissed her sensitive lips.

“I was wondering,” he began as they pulled back. Their foreheads touched, insulating them in their own private world. His brown eyes met Annaliese’s unusual, heterochromatic gaze. Tucker’s heart kicked into high gear, beating in his chest just a little louder than usual, and his breath caught in this throat. “Would you like to go out next weekend? There’s a drive-in near the school.”

There was a moment of hesitation, and Tucker wondered if he had pushed too far, too quickly. The sounds of approaching guests drifted towards them. Tucker wanted to yell at them to give him five more minutes to properly ask Anneliese for a date, but he knew he was out of time. He only hoped he didn’t botch it too badly.

“Alone? Just us, I mean?” Anneliese asked. Hope and confusion warred within her, and relief crashed into Tucker’s heart.

Tucker felt color and heat creep up his throat, neck, and cheeks. He was close. So close, he could nearly feel her in his arms. “Uh, yeah. Like a date. You and me?” His voice cracked like a boy of twelve, and he chuckled and rolled his eyes at himself.

Annaliese touched his cheek. “Nervous?” she teased.

“A little,” Tucker confessed. “I’ve never felt like this before.”

She dipped her head and peeked up coyly. Anneliese licked her lips, and Tucker felt it in his soul. He wanted to be the one to taste those chocolate-stained lips. She cast her eyes over his shoulder, and recognition shone in her eyes. This was the last time they would be alone tonight.

“I’d like that,” Anneliese said with a little giggle. “But first?”

“Yes?” Tucker asked.

“I’d like s’more,” she whispered before stepping into his arms and deepening his earlier, quietly tentative kiss. She stood on her tiptoes and wound her arms around his neck. After a heartbeat, Tucker pulled her tighter into his embrace and kissed her back.

After all, who cared if their friends caught them kissing?

Paula E:
07/25/2020, 08:40:51 PM

I vote for yours! This was fun and heartwarming. Just the thing I needed this week with my husband in the hospital. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Marj W:
07/26/2020, 09:21:38 PM

I am bummed out, forgot the day so did not put in my vote. I love you stories. Please keep writing.

Cassi M Callens:
07/24/2020, 11:50:00 PM
Reply

Here, Now and Forever
Inanna’s Game: Scenario 1, Snippet 1, Character 1

Faint, panicked voices of her parents yelling, calling her name. That’s all the girl can recall when she wakes. It’s this and the throbbing sensation in the lower part of her body that draws her back to
consciousness.

The pain in her leg is agonizing. She bites her lip in an attempt to prevent herself from screaming. A long cut ran down from the back of the girl’s knee to the middle of her calf. Discomfort grew as she moved, exerting all her strength to stand up. When the young woman arose, she stood dazed, peering at the catastrophic scene in front and around her. Half the neighborhood including her childhood home was now burned and reduced to ash. Her heart ached from the loss of the town and the loss of her home. Taking a deep breath, she wiped her tears and then set off looking for survivors or any of her family members.

One of Jaime’s favorite places, an old bakery stood on the street corner not too far from her home. Jaime hobbled along, grimacing as she stepped all the way to the bakery. When Jaimee reached the bakery she stopped and lingered for a moment. The roof was slightly charred while some of the windows where broken and discolored. This was where Jaimee and her sister would come when they were kids. So engrossed in her thoughts, she barely registered the voice shouting behind her.
“Jaimie is that you?” It was Jane, her sister. She ran and embraced Jaime. “Thank goodness you’re okay!” Overwhelmed with relief, Jaimie hugged Jane tight, not wanting to let go. “I’m so glad you’re here. Where’s mom and dad?” Jane pulled away, her eyes filled with sorrow. “I’m not sure. I tried looking for them but when I couldn’t find them, I came searching for you.” Jaimee closed her eyes and sighed. “We should go back to the house and see if we can find them.” Jane nodded and followed Jaime as they traveled back in search of their parents.

A wave of discouragement hit the girls. There didn’t seem to be any signs of their parents. Jane grabbed Jaime’s arm, snow grazing her skin as she spoke.” It’s time to go. I don’t think they’re coming back.”

As the two girls began to leave, Jaimie noticed a glint of light shining underneath some dirt next to what used to be the porch. Limping over, Jaimie knelt down and dusted the dirt and soot off a pair of round metal bands. They were the rings she had made as a gift for her mother and father. Two sliver bands with turtle doves engraved in the middle of them. Walking back over to her sister, Jaimee put one of the rings in her pocket and placed the other in Jane’s hand. Keeping her hand on Jane’s, Jaimee glanced up at her sister and in a low and audible voice whispered “here, now and forever.” With a wistful smile Jane replied “here, now and forever.”

Kelly C.:
07/25/2020, 10:59:27 PM

Love this, Cassi! The imagery really drew me in. I want to know more!

Dee Morgan:
07/25/2020, 08:37:21 PM

This made me cry and I loved it. However, the typos were annoying. Keep writing please!

Kacey D.:
07/27/2020, 04:18:08 AM

So touching! I agree with Kelly, I want to know more too!! Playing this story in my mind was so vivid! Great imagery!

Kris Endicott:
Reply

This story for Inanna’s Game Cycle 7 is a character study for a possible paranormal cozy.

I used Snippet #1, Character #2, Scene #3

------

The Dragon Wore Sunglasses

By Kris Endicott

The humble, old, baby-blue pickup truck rattled slowly and pathetically down the quiet main street of sleepy Downesport, Maine. Large, almost repulsive patches of rust clashed with the remaining paint clinging hesitantly to the vehicle. A generous soul might have called the look “urban camouflage.” But in Downesport, the truck would have blended in with a few others in town if not for the eccentric exception of the darkly tinted windows.

The tinted glass was startling and peculiar but shrugged off by townsfolk with a weary, indignant, “That’s a Thistledown for ya.”

Inside the tinted windows, Penelope Thistledown rode comfortably snuggled in the graceful bucket seat of a Jaguar XJ. The restful cradle of air-cooled leather was lifted high and forward to allow the four-foot-eleven woman to peer over the dash. Penny had similar difficulty seeing over the wheel of most vehicles.

The only other modern car she thought made for someone of her smaller reach was the Jaguar F-type. But that luxurious indulgence, she hoarded for her city car. She didn’t want to destroy the suspension on her long country driveway.

Penny adored the British automaker. She had been driving variations of the company’s cars since dear William made the first two-seater saloon. Opening the car up on the road for the first time had been even more exhilarating than her first Roman chariot race. She signed with yearning remembering the exhilaration.

She had been no more of a fan of the Romans when they invaded her island than she had been of the Normans when they darkened the shores. But each occasionally had been worth some entertainment, and the Romans were exuberant in their love of chariot racing.

The bespelled vehicle pulled confidently into the parking lot of the graceful brick and stone edifice name for a prior identity of Penny’s. The Margaret Thistledown Public Library.

She tried to remember if that was two or three human identities ago. She thought for a moment, No, four! Margaret, Suzanna, Moonbeam, Joanna, then Penney.

When one proudly enjoyed life for as many centuries as Dragonkind did, curious humans notice if precautions were not taken. Those precautions had become more tedious and exasperating as the centuries went by.

Five years ago, after binge-watching a BBC mystery series she had somehow missed when it first aired, she had chosen her current identity. She became thirty-two-year-old, divorced Penelope Thistledown.

When not on her estate in her natural form, Thistledown liked a human identity that appeared to be in her thirties. It was a look she could keep for at least twenty years before people noticed the lack of change.

In the past, Penny only had to move villages, towns, or cities to keep the inquisitive from seeing too much. Now, with the voracious aid of computers and satellites, hiding in plain sight was becoming frightfully difficult without a lot of strategic planning. Penny had taught the game of chess to some of the masters of the Middle Ages. She adored puzzling out strategy.

A few centuries back, Penny crossed the ocean to what was now the state of Maine. Whenever needed, she repurchased the several thousand acres of forest and mountains from whatever unorganized or greedy entity governed the area at the time. As the state of Maine came into being, she had a lawyer set the land into a trust.

Once a town formed at the base of her mountains in the mid-1800s, Penny took an extra step to protect her secret. Every few decades, she would change her human shape and become the newest relative to live at the Thistledown family estate.

There were periods when the silly humans thought a single woman should not live by herself or decide her own destiny. The absurdity of the thought always made her smile in amusement. The more aggressively opinionated with the audacity to corner her in her own lair was never seen again. Penny could not abide bigots, but they did make tasty meals.

Fools, idiots, and the audaciously curious had always felt the need to interrupt her life. Keeping them at an acceptable distance and away from her secret was becoming more wearisome every decade.

Penny took a long, steadying breath and pulled herself out of her melancholy. Alone for too long, even despite a dragon’s love of solitude, she had been depressingly living too much in the past.

“Enough is enough,” she said out loud to shake out the last of the lingering gloom. Perhaps solving the puzzle of what dragon would dare to encroach onto the edges of her territory would keep her entertained for a while.

Penny fondly caressed the Jaguar’s leather-wrapped steering wheel with its control of the lovely five-hundred-and-seventy-five horses that could tear up the road to cart her around. With a covetous grin of pride, she reverently patted the dash of the XJ then flipped down the visor.

The young woman with her dark hair swinging in a stylish bob looked into the mirror to apply another coat of hot-red lipstick to match her human talons. Satisfied, she smiled at her reflection, and a large pair of round tortoiseshell sunglasses materialized on her face.

Penny slid out of the vehicle and swiftly closed the door to keep anyone from seeing inside. She smiled with selfish pride as she stood in the warm sun and gazed lovingly at the library.

Conventional dragon wisdom said to keep precious horde under lock-and-key where only she could admire it. Penny had never listened to anyone who told her what she should do. Where was the fun in that?

Over the years, she had collected a vast quantity of books on a wide range of subjects. Keeping that wealth of knowledge in a damp cave or even in a dark room of her home, would not have prevented the volumes from deteriorating over time. Back in 1910, she had donated the money to build the town’s first library and set up the fund necessary to keep the printed portion of her horde tended and maintained.

When the old dragon needed to research, like today, Penny entered this sanctuary of learning to caress the luxurious pages in the bound volumes of her youth.

Her heartbeat sped up with excitement as it always did in the presence of her processions so that she was caught off-guard by the surprising arm that reached around her diminutive human form to open the building’s front door.

“Ms Thistledown,” a man’s husky voice said politely.

The dragon half of her shivered with suppressed longing at hearing her true name spoken in such a sensuous way.

Penny did not need to turn around to know that Chief Clark Pelletier stood behind her in his perpetually rumpled police uniform, which did nothing to hide the well-toned muscles underneath.

Inhaling his scent on a slow greedy breath, the woman fought her desire to lean into him. Clark was human, and Penny had dealt with the grief of loving such short-lived creatures too many times. She had vowed decades ago not to do it again. And she had not even been tempted to break that vow until this man had come to town six months ago.

To cover the way his presence made flames of desire lick through her mind, she put a friendly, though polite smile on her face and concentrated on the wrinkled uniform. Everyone in town knew that the man took his clothes to the dry cleaners, so how he could be wrinkled this early in the day was a mystery. But he always was.

With control back in place, Penny turned and dipped a slight bow of her head in acknowledgment of his gallant deed.

“Thank you, Clark.” She had been around too long to bother calling anyone in town by more than their first name. Some townfolk bristled at what they saw as the quirk of an eccentric wealthy family. But since a Thistledown human had been here longer than the town, most didn’t bother her about it.

Penny stepped inside with the hope that the town cop would let the door close as he continued on his way down the street. Her luck was not that good this morning.

The town’s chief of police followed her into the cool lobby of the library. He said with his usual hint of curiosity, “I’m always amazed Ms Thistledown how you wear your sunglasses even inside a dark building like this.”

The dragon in human form smiled cooly though her heart pounded in irrational fear of discovery. “I have sensitive eyes,” she said, her fear coming out in her voice a bit aggressively.

Even in human form, Penny kept the enhanced senses of her native species. But that was not what caused her to keep her sunglasses perched on her nose. Whenever Thistledown changed to human form, there were three things she could not alter. Her gender, her height, and her eyes.

Having one hazel and one violet eye was her second most well-kept secret. She used almost every weapon in her arsenal to keep people from finding out. Only a few close friends who knew her from her previous identity were privileged insiders to this secret. And the circle of those who knew her other secret was even smaller.

He looked at her with an almost possessive gaze that seemed to hold her captive as her heartbeat realigned to the rhythm of his. Penny swayed forward.

A blast of sunlight blazed through the room as another patron walked into the lobby. It was enough to break the spell and had her scurrying for the nearest aisle of bookshelves.

It took a moment to calm her heart down. She cautiously peeked around the edge of the floor-to-ceiling bookcase. He was gone.

Instead of relief, Penny burst into anger. She paced back and forth in front of the newest collection of best sellers and murmured emphatically to herself.

“Remember who and what you are. This is your territory. You don’t run scared from anyone.”

After that pep talk, she felt more like herself and strode with determination to the archive section she came to pursue. In among the scholarly texts was one titled The Joys of the Magna Carta, Penny pulled out the book. When her hand touched it, the glamour dropped, and the book’s actual title appeared on the binding, Dragon Lineage.

Inside the large leatherbound journal, were descriptions of every dragon she had ever met or had heard of even third or fourth hand, including a sketch of the beast’s flying silhouette. She no longer socialized with her kind in person, but the internet was useful for keeping in touch even for old souls like her.

With the book she needed securely in her hold, Penny grabbed a large quantity of random, unrelated books to hide which one held her interest. When the stack in her arms stood taller than she did, the small woman strode to the front desk using her well-honed internal guidance rather than her sight.

She gracefully lifted the heavy stack of books and placed them in front of the check-out librarian. Penny heard a frustrated exhalation of air from behind the desk. The librarian whispered dramatically, “Angelica Marie Carter, what are you doing with—"

The tirade was cut short, and the woman gave a startled gasp when Penny peered around the side of the stack with a quizzically raised eyebrow.

The librarian quietly laughed in amusement. “Oh, Ms Thistledown. I didn’t realize it was you.”

With efficiency probably born of embarrassment, the woman quickly signed out the books to the library’s benefactor without commenting on any of the titles. She smiled sweetly and leaned back in her chair when she finished. The woman had learned a long time ago not to offer a Thistledown any help carrying out tomes.

With the books now in her possession, Penny walked out the door. As she put the volumes into the vehicle through the open passenger front door, a tingling sensation on the back of her neck pulled her gaze up to look around the area. Clark Pelletier leaned on the back of a stone bench, only two parking spaces over. His eyes watched her with an almost passionate intent.

Penny pushed the sunglassed further up her nose and stared back at him, refusing to be intimidated. The man dared to smile with amusement, tip his hat, and stride away whistling merrily.

Penny stood in shock for a moment then laughed her reaction off as an effect of too much heat rising off the blacktop. Disappointed in herself, she went to slam the car door. She stopped when she saw that the stack of books was facing spines out. And the book she had come here to pick up still showed it’s actual title.

Was Clark’s vision good enough to have seen inside the Jag and read the title? Why did it feel like he might know it was not a book of fiction?

Disappointed that she let her imagination take flight, Penny slammed the door more aggressively than she should have. The metal moaned in dismay with the rust of the glamour flaking off as if it were real.

Penny shook her head at how agitated she was over something that was all in her mind. Of course, Clark had not seen the book title or even inside her camouflaged vehicle. He was only human.

A human who had been flirting with her for the entire six months he’d been in town. She paused as she got into the car, letting the comfort and luxury surround her. The old dragon felt a bit of the armor around her heart chip off and fall away. Maybe it was time to break out of her self-imposed solitude and enjoy some companionship again.

Penny’s bright red nails tapped on the top of the steering wheel as she counted out the distance from town. When she crossed onto her land, the glamour of the old truck fell away, her hands gripped the wheel, and her foot pushed the pedal to the floor.

Exhilarated by the acceleration, Penny let out a full-throated dragon roar. The thrill of the hunt rippled through her body and left an exciting tingle behind. The man was not going to know what hit him.

Martha Dwyer:
07/25/2020, 08:39:33 PM

My son is submitting his work for the game directly to the person running it. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to showcase their stories and provide entertainment at the same time. Of the stories this time, I vote for yours. It is lovely and fun. I needed something light-hearted, and this filled the bill!

Susan L:
07/25/2020, 08:49:21 PM

I vote for this one. It is funny and right now all of us could use cheering uop.

MeritageHouse:
07/25/2020, 08:52:08 PM

I wanted to tell you that I have been reading all of the stories to our patients at the home. At least the not sad ones. Even the people that cannot really talk well any longer smile. So thanks for giving us this type of story. We vote for you. Please keep writing. You are appreciated.

Kris Endicott:
07/26/2020, 11:02:46 PM

Thank you for leaving comments. I write what I enjoy and hope that others like the stories too. Hearing from readers that you enjoy my stories, keeps me writing AND warms my heart. Thank you!

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