Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘short story competition

Here is my entry in Stevie Turner´s August Short Story competition.

You might like to enter as well. Here is the link https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/share-your-short-story-august-2019/

A Good Day

by Darlene Foster

Erin Arnold cocked her head to one side and narrowed her eyes as she entered the coffee shop. Her favourite table appeared to be free. She bit her lip and suppressed a smile. Good days were rare for Erin. The new medication was working.

Keeping her eyes on the seat by the window, she clutched her handbag and cautiously made her way. She dusted off invisible crumbs from the chair before settling down. Erin removed a wet wipe from her purse and gave the already clean table a swipe. She ordered her regular mint tea and chocolate macadamia biscotti and stared at the people walking by the large front window. The china pot of tea arrived and, after steeping for the full three minutes, she began to pour into the white porcelain cup. She set the pot down abruptly when hot liquid slid down the spout and onto the table.

“Damn, why does this always happen? When will they invent a teapot that doesn’t drip?” Her face burned crimson.

She sopped up the drips with a paper napkin. With a fresh napkin, she dabbed the sweat off her upper lip and began to pour again. The tea continued to dribble. She could feel herself losing it. She clenched her fists and then unclenched them. She wiped the table once more and took two deep breaths. The third time she poured the tea without a drop on the table.

She sighed. A minor glitch in an otherwise good day.

Erin dipped the biscotti in the tea. Biscotti was perfect as it didn’t immediately disintegrate in the tea. She savoured the combined taste of mint, chocolate and macadamia nuts. She felt vaguely happy and satisfied.

The blast cut through her pleasant thoughts like a volcano erupting in a tranquil mountain scene. The teapot jumped from the table to the floor, shattering as it hit the tiles. The biscotti followed, dissolving into mush as crumbs mixed with the brown liquid. The window shattered showering flakes of glass throughout the coffee shop. People shouted and screamed, a child cried.

Erin put her hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. She felt tea running down the side of her face. She lowered her hand and opened her eyes. Blood dripped onto the pristine table.

She knew something like this would happen.

The day had been too good.

This is my submission to Stevie Turner’s Short Story Competition for June. Why not submit one yourself. I’m sure you have some short stories kicking around that you could dust off, polish and try your luck. You can enter here 

This one is non fiction. Let me know what you think.

If the Shoe Fits

by Darlene Foster

It is no secret that my love of shoes is almost equal to my love of travel. A few years ago, when my husband and I visited his parents in Spain for the first time, I was as fascinated by the enticing scenery as I was with the amazing selection of shoes. I purchased a pair of shoes within days of our arrival and, as we were traveling light and on a tight budget, had promised myself that one gorgeous pair of Spanish leather shoes would do.

Later on in the holiday, we rented a car and took a leisurely drive along the Costa Blanca north of Alicante. The cloudless blue sky held only the sun which glittered off the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean sea. Any worries we may have had, disappeared. We came upon the charming fishing village of Altea. White washed houses climbed up the hill. A bright blue domed cathedral sat in the centre overlooking the sea. Postcard perfect. We decided it would be a great place to stop for lunch. As we strolled along the esplanade trying to decide among the appealing restaurants, my husband suggested we stop in at one of the many shoe stores as he was looking for a new pair of sandals.

I had made up my mind not to buy any more shoes but thought it wouldn’t hurt to look. I should have known better. The moment I walked in the door, my eyes descended upon the most exquisite little pair of red, patent leather, needle-point shoes I had ever seen. Those ‘Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz’ shoes were calling my name.

Of course, I had to try them on and of course, they were a perfect fit. At least the left shoe fit. I had slipped on a cobblestone street a few days earlier and sprained my right foot. It was still quite swollen so I didn’t even attempt to try on the right shoe. To make matters worse (or better depending on how you looked at it) the shoes were reasonably priced. I forgot my resolve and convinced myself I couldn’t live without them. The sales clerk quickly put them in a bag and took my Euros. It was two o’clock and she was eager to close the store for siesta time.

We found a great restaurant overlooking the sea and had an enjoyable meal. I was so happy you would have thought I had won the lottery. My husband laughed as I kept looking in the bag to make sure my new babies were OK. I held the package on my lap for safekeeping as we wound our way along the coast back to my in-laws place, two hours away. As soon as we arrived, I ran into the house to show off my newly acquired treasures.

When I pulled them from the bag, my father-in-law noticed the stickers on the bottom and casually said, “Did you realize that one shoe is size 36 and the other is size 37?”

“What! You must be joking!” I looked at the stickers. He was not kidding.

I was horrified. My legs became weak and I felt sick. There was no way I could wear a pair of shoes two different sizes. And we were going back to Canada in a couple of days.

I broke the sad news to my husband who shrugged and simply said, “Don’t worry, we’ll go back tomorrow and exchange it. After all, they now have another pair just like it that they won’t be able to sell.”

What a sweetheart. I remembered then why I married him. He was a man who understood the importance of a fabulous pair of shoes to a girl.

We got up early the next morning, took the much faster, toll highway back to Altea where the store clerk gladly exchanged the size 37 shoe for the correct one. There was no time for sight seeing, as our rental car had to be back by noon. No matter, I had my adorable red shoes, both the same size. I wear them often, and invariably get a compliment.

Then I have to tell my story.

Winners!

Posted on: April 5, 2019

I wrote about my granddaughter’s pet boarding business here and here and asked for votes for her in the Best of Medicine Hat contest. I am pleased to announce that Aunty’s Place was voted best pet boarding in Medicine Hat for the second year in a row. A huge thanks to everyone who voted! She works so hard and cares so much for the pets in her care, she deserves this.

This is what was posted on Aunty’s Place Facebook Page

I could not wait to say a big “THANK YOU” to each and every one of you for voting us the BEST OF MEDICINE HAT in our pet boarding category!!
To be recognized for our hard work and endless love for what we do, by our home town of Medicine Hat has been overwhelmingly amazing! 

Taking care of pets fills our hearts full of love every day ❤️, but knowing that we have the support and recognition from our community is the icing on the cake!

To our community neighbours, pet care professionals, pet businesses, trainers, family members, our faithful clients, pet rescue workers, groomers, friends, and all of you who know that we just want what’s best for ALL pets…. Thank You SOOOO much for Voting for us in 2019!! 

With one of her happy customers

I also want to mention that my story Ghosts in the Attic won runner-up in Stevie Turner’s short story competition. Thank you for all the positive comments on that story. Here is the winning entry and all the others as well.
https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/03/01/share-your-short-story-winner-and-runner-up-for-february-2019/

Stevie is running another competition this month. So why not send in a short story. Writing short stories is a great way to exercise those writing muscles. Here are the details.

https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/share-your-short-story-april-2019/

I hope everyone is enjoying Spring wherever you are or Fall if in the Southern Hemisphere. You are all winners!

This is my entry into Stevie Turner’s Short Story Competition for February. Here is the info if you would like to enter. Why not give it a go.  https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/share-your-short-story-february-2/

photo from Pixabay

Ghosts in the Attic

by Darlene Foster

The attic above the barn sits empty. Some say it is haunted. Others say it is cursed.

The room is possessed with many stories.

When Jim and Alice bought the farm, they decided the attic would be a perfect place for the farm help to live. So they purchased some paint and fixed it up. Then they placed an ad in the local paper seeking someone who enjoyed working with horses.

Mature, buxom Gladys responded first. They showed her the spotless attic room smelling of fresh paint and polished linoleum. Gladys took the job and moved in the next day – with her seven cats. Alice warned Gladys to keep the cats confined to the barn. This was after they jumped up on the picnic table and ate the cream cheese dip she had put out for her croquet party guests. Gladys worked hard and knew her way around horses but had her own ideas about how to do things. After several disagreements with Jim, she packed her meager belongings and left, cats in tow. She left a note tacked to the barn door with a forwarding address to send her last pay cheque.

Gladys seemed unfamiliar with the concept of a litter box. Alice scrubbed the once pristine room thoroughly. Disgusted, she left the doors and windows open for days to get rid of the acrid smell of cat pee. Alice believed she could still smell it years later.

The next ad included, ‘No pets allowed’. Joy, a university student with a love of horses, became the second resident. Young and eager, she did a good job. A light shone from the attic late into the night while she studied. Occasionally a young man spent the night. Jim and Alice didn’t mind. Better than cats. One day Joy told them she was sorry but had decided to move into town with her boyfriend, to be closer to the university.

The attic didn’t take much cleaning. Although the wax on the floor caused Alice to shudder at the thought of candles burning in such a flammable structure.

Against his wife’s advice, Jim hired a writer with a bushy beard. Alice didn’t trust men with bushy beards, or writers. The man slept until noon every day and did only the basics of the job. Days went by without fresh food and water for the animals. He was soon asked to leave. The attic smelled like a biker bar. Crumpled pieces of paper mixed with stale crumbs and tin foil TV dinner containers littered the floor. They took two truckloads of empty wine and liquor bottles to the recycling depot.

Alice didn’t say anything but had that smug ‘I told you so’ look on her face.

Two women in cowboy hats, big belt buckles, and fancy boots drove into the yard one summer afternoon. Jo and Jean had been in the rodeo circuit for a time and knew a thing about horses. They told great stories sitting around the picnic table with Jim and Alice, sharing a cup of tea. One day, Jo approached the house in tears. Jean had left in the middle of the night. Jo sobbed uncontrollably and said she didn’t know how she could go on without Jean. Alice made her a cup of chamomile tea and tried to calm her down. She had never seen anyone so upset. Two days later Alice called the paramedics when she found Jo in the attic, passed out in a pool of her own blood. Alice and Jim hired someone to clean up the attic.

A couple in their forties showed up in a pickup truck with the job posting in hand. The wife, a meek little thing who made no eye contact, let her husband do the talking. He convinced Jim he was capable. Jim gave him the job.
Alice had a funny feeling. “She looks like a battered wife.”
“You watch too much Oprah.” Jim shook his head and walked away.
Things went well. The chores got done and the couple kept to themselves. Jim decided they were the best yet. Perhaps Alice should admit she was wrong.

One peaceful, sunny day while Alice washed dishes, she looked out the kitchen window and detected someone hiding behind the big apple tree. Sure enough, it was a man – with a gun. Alice tensed. Another man behind the car shed placed a megaphone to his mouth. “This is the police. Come out with your hands raised and no one will get hurt.”

The husband emerged from behind the barn and ran toward his truck. The police officers moved faster and seconds later he was in handcuffs. Alice never imagined she would witness an arrest in her own back yard. She needed more than a cup of tea to calm her down.

The plain-clothed police officers explained they received an anonymous call to the farm. The husband, known to them, had two previous charges of assault. After they took him away, Alice made her way up to the attic. The wife held her head and rocked back and forth, moaning. Her swollen right eye was turning an ominous purple. Alice offered to call an ambulance but the woman insisted she would be all right until her sister came to pick her up. Alice couldn’t stop shaking for days. Jim refused to talk about it.

Alice took over the hiring process.

Characters of all sorts paraded in and out of that attic over the years. Eventually, Jim and Alice got fed up and moved back to the city. Except for a few items left behind, the attic has stood empty ever since.

A chipped bookcase, holding dusty paperbacks waiting to be read, leans against one wall. A beaten up trunk remains in a dark corner; one item too many to be allowed on the next journey. A moth-eaten blanket, an assortment of old newspapers and a cowboy belt rest inside. A rusty, wrought iron headboard covered in spider webs, holds secrets of amorous nights and lonely days. Extreme happiness and deep sorrow ooze through the faded walls. A poster of Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ hangs lopsided on one wall surveying the scene with wide-eyed wonder, and silently shrieks.

On windy, rainy nights, some say they hear sobbing. Others say they hear hideous laughter. Children say the attic in the barn is haunted. But don’t children always say that?

photo from Pixabay

It’s good to try writing something different from time to time.


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