Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘short story competition

Stevie Turner is running one more short story competition and here is my entry. I thought I would submit a young adult story this time. This will be the last time she will run this competition, so if you have a short story you would like to share, here is the information. https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/share-your-short-story-february-2020/  The winners will be included in an anthology. Don’t miss this great opportunity.

TAKING ORDERS
by
Darlene Foster

I have a problem. It’s not a big problem. In fact, I don’t even think it could be called a problem. It’s just I have this weird sense of humour. I can’t stop playing jokes on people and sometimes it gets me into trouble. My Mom says that for a fourteen-year-old, I should start taking life more seriously. Well, she needs to lighten up and laugh a bit more in my opinion. Honestly, she doesn’t have any sense of humour. So, the way I see it, the actual problem is that most adults just don’t get my jokes.

Our phone number at home is almost the same as a local Chinese Restaurant except two numbers are switched around. We constantly get calls for Chungs Restaurant and it gets very annoying. One day when I was home alone, the phone rang. I grabbed it expecting it to be my best friend Melissa who was going to tell me something about this hot new guy in class.

“Hello, I would like to place an order please.”

Not another call for Chungs. I was so tired of those stupid calls. So instead of saying, “Sorry you have the wrong number,” I said, “Yes, what would you like to order.”

The woman placed a large order for take-out food and I pretended to take it down. I giggled as I put down the phone. What a great joke. That will teach her for dialing the wrong number.

I went back to watching American Idol, eating taco chips and waiting for Melissa’s call. She finally called and told me everything she knew about the new guy. I forgot all about the lady and her order.

A few minutes after we hung up, the phone rang again. I was sure it was Melissa with something she forgot to tell me.

“Hi, Dude.”

“Hello? I placed a take-out order almost an hour ago and it hasn’t arrived. How much longer will it be?”

Oops!

“Oh, I am so sorry, but we are running behind tonight as we are short-staffed. Two people called in sick. We will get it to you as soon as possible.”

“OK, thank you. I would appreciate it if you could get it here ASAP as my kids are hungry.”

“I’ll see what we can do.” This was turning out to be some good joke.

I put a bag of popcorn in the microwave so I could munch on it while I watched Desperate Housewives. Who knew when mom would get home and make dinner?

Twenty minutes later, the phone rang again. The same lady, but this time she sounded pretty stressed.

“Where is my order? We are all so hungry. My kids are driving me crazy!”

“I must apologize. We sent your food out with the delivery guy and he just called to tell us he had an accident and is tied up waiting for the cops.”

“I don’t believe it. What are you going to do about this?” She sounded POed.

“We’ll send someone else out to pick up your order and get it to you.”

“Thanks and please hurry.”

“OK, bye.” I started to feel bad. It didn’t seem quite as funny anymore. I wasn’t sure how to get out of the situation without getting into trouble. Why did she keep calling our number? She should have realized she had the wrong number by now. Served her right to be so stupid.

Fifteen minutes passed. I kind of thought she had figured it out. The phone rang and I hesitated to pick it up. It could have been Melissa again or maybe Mom. She was working late again.

“Hello, may I ask who I am speaking too?”

“Um, ah… Brittany.”

“Can I speak to your manager?”

“I am the manager.”

“No, you are not! I don’t believe you. Something funny is going on here.”

Busted.

“Is this Chungs Restaurant?” Her voice got louder and she sounded really mad.

“Well, um.., it…it’s not. You have the wrong number.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?” She screamed into the phone. “Can I speak to your mother?”

“She’s not here.”

“I’ll call her later; I have your number you know. I will tell her what you did you terrible, horrible girl.”

“I’m s-sorry. I guess I got tired of everyone calling here for Chungs Restaurant. I thought you would call the right number the next time. It..it was just a joke, er I mean a misunderstanding.”

“Well, it’s not funny. Wait until you have three screaming, hungry kids waiting for their dinner. see if you think it’s funny!”

She was pissed alright.

She called Mom later and told her what I did and of course, Mom got mad. I had to go to the lady’s house and apologize. I met her bratty kids so I understood why she was in such an ugly mood. Like, I am so never having kids. I also had to promise Mom I would stop playing jokes on people.

When I told the kids at school what I did, they thought it was funny. The new guy laughed when he heard about it and now he kind of hangs out with me. He’s OK but not as cool as I thought. He’s kind of boring actually, just like my life is now I can’t play jokes on people anymore.

I am thrilled to announce that my story, The Bright Lights of Christmas, won the Stevie Turner Christmas short story award. What a wonderful Christmas gift! Pop over and read the other entries. https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/12/24/share-your-christmas-short-story-winner/

Thanks also to Stevie Turner for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award:

Here are the Rules:

1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

2. Write a post to show your award.

3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.

4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.

6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

How My Blog Started:

When I eventually found a publisher for my Amanda Travels books, she suggested I start a blog as part of my social media presence. That was almost 10 years ago. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so I checked out the blogs of other writers to get ideas. Since my tag line is, dreamer of dreams, teller of tales, I decided to make dreams the theme of the blog. On June 19th, 2010 I published my first post and this is what I wrote: “This blog is for writers, readers, travelers, dreamers and other interesting people of all ages.  I hope you enjoy my blog and I welcome all comments, suggestions and ideas.” You can read the rest of the short post about a hotair balloon ride here.  I had three likes and three comments. After writing a couple of posts, I found it was fun and I soon gained great followers, many who have become good friends.  

Give Two Pieces of Advice to New Bloggers:

  1. Have fun with it. Don’t get too serious, people can get serious stuff from TV and newspapers. The world needs positive, funny and uplifting things to read online.
  2. Include pictures and write lean. People are busy and there is only so much time to read blogs. If the post is too wordy, they won’t read it. And always engage with those who comment. 

Select up to 15 Bloggers:

It was difficult to pick but I have chosen these bloggers because they are good writers, have interesting blogs and have supported my blog and writing endeavours. Some have already been nominated for this award, but that’s OK. Do check out their blogs if they are new to you.

  1. Sue Vincent https://scvincent.com/
  2. Annika Perry https://annikaperry.com/
  3. Pamela Wight https://roughwighting.net/
  4. Marcia Meara https://marciamearawrites.com/
  5. Mary Smith https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/
  6. Jacqui Murray https://worddreams.wordpress.com/
  7. Teri Polen https://teripolen.com/
  8. Joy Lennik https://joylennick.wordpress.com/
  9. Jacquie Biggar https://jacqbiggar.com/
  10. Bette Stevens https://4writersandreaders.com/
  11. D. G. Kaye https://dgkayewriter.com/
  12. Colleen Chesbro https://colleenchesebro.com/
  13. Barb Taub https://barbtaub.com/
  14. Diane Peach https://mythsofthemirror.com/
  15. Marian Beaman https://marianbeaman.com/
  16. Robbie Cheadle https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/
  17. Ritu Bhathal https://butismileanyway.com/

OK, I have 17 but I could have had 30.

Stevie Turner is holding a short story competition with a Christmas theme for the month of December.  You might like to submit a story as well. https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/11/30/share-your-christmas-short-story-or-poem/  

This is my entry. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!

The Bright Lights of Christmas by Darlene Foster

Ten presents this year, the best year ever. Cory Henderson’s eyes sparkled as he dropped to his knees and studied his precious pile of parcels wrapped in festive paper. Santa Clauses, reindeer and snowmen smiled back at him as he pulled out his gifts and lined them up. His mother wanted him to go to bed, but he continued to count his gifts under the tall Christmas tree covered in a profusion of bright lights and glittering ornaments.

“Just a few more minutes, please Mom,” he begged, excited as most nine-year-olds on Christmas Eve.

He counted the packages once more while arranging them under the tree with care. One from Uncle Bob; he always gave good gifts, usually something to do with sports. Two from Grandma and Grandpa; always the best because they seemed to know exactly what he wanted the most. One from Mom and one from Dad; since he´d thrown some pretty good hints around the last two months, some super stuff from his list were sure to be in those packages. One from his older brother, Scott, away studying in China; he always sent cool stuff. The old couple across the street, who he did errands for, dropped off a small package. One from Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joe, another from his cousins Jim and Jeff and an odd shaped one from his best friend, Jerry. Yup, ten presents for him to open tomorrow morning.

He wasn´t sure he would be able to sleep at all when his mother finally convinced him to go to bed. But, a bright light in his window woke him up from a dream of opening hundreds of presents. At first, he thought it was a light from Santa’s sleigh. Then, he thought a space ship might be nearby. Getting out of bed and tiptoeing to the window, he could see it was not Santa’s sleigh or a spaceship causing the bright light. Flames engulfed the house next-door. Never having seen a fire that close before, he found it scary and exciting at the same time. Mesmerized, Cory stared at the brilliant flames leaping out of the roof.

All of a sudden, he remembered that two little boys lived in that house. The family moved in two months ago. They came from another country, spoke with an accent and kept to themselves. The boys were younger than him, about five and seven.

Maybe the people were still in the house. His tummy did a flip-flop. Just as he heard the wail of fire trucks, he saw two hooded figures run out of the front door. As they reached the sidewalk, he realized two adults covered with blankets, carried a child each. The blankets appeared to be wet when they dropped to the ground. The family stood shivering in their pajamas, staring at their home ablaze.

Cory ran out of his room calling, “Mom! Dad!”

His parents, already up, frantically pulled coats out of the closet.

His dad threw a jacket his way. “Hurry, put this on and go outside. And stay well away from the fire.”

By the time they got outside, the fire department arrived. In no time, long hoses sprayed water onto the flames. Cory’s mom handed out warm coats. He noticed the little boys wearing his parkas from last year and the year before. Even with them on, they shivered.

Heavy smoke filled the air. It smelt weird. Kind of like the time his mom burnt the chicken and the smoke alarm went off. Soon the fire was under control and it started to snow.

“Mom,” said Cory, “maybe we should all go into our house and get warm.”

His mom nodded and motioned everyone to follow her.

She made hot chocolate and put out gingerbread cookies they made the day before. The neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Zafrani, spoke quietly. The boys, Omar and Jamal, didn’t say anything. Their large brown eyes stared at the big Christmas tree covered with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. Beds were made up for everyone, the little boys in his brother’s room and their parents in the spare room. As the boys were about to go to bed for the remainder of the night, they took one more look at the tree and cried.

“There, there,” said their mother as she hugged them. “Don’t cry. At least we are all safe and warm.” She thanked Cory and his parents and they all went to bed.

Cory felt a sick feeling in his stomach. Christmas Eve and their tree and all their gifts probably burnt. They would have no presents to open in the morning. How awful. He tossed and turned in his bed. How would he feel if it happened to him? Now he really couldn’t sleep and no longer looked forward to the morning either. How could he open all those gifts when they had nothing?

Then, he had an idea, jumped out of bed and put on the light. He pulled out some coloured paper, a pair of scissors and Christmas stickers from his desk drawer. Two gift tags made, he wrote Omar on one and Jamal on the other. He stopped for a minute and then made two more. Tiptoeing into the dark living room, he pulled out four of his gifts from under the tree. Without looking at the tags, he replaced them with the new tags. Corey went back to bed and fell asleep with a smile on his face.

The next thing he heard was his mom saying, “Wake up. It’s Christmas morning. Omar and Jamal are up already.”

Cory never slept in on Christmas morning. He ran into the living room. Dad had plugged in the lights on the tree and turned on the fire in the fireplace. The room looked cozy and warm. Jamal and Omar stared at the tree as if they had never seen one before. Cory reached under the tree.

His mom gasped and said, “Maybe we could wait to open the gifts.”

Ignoring her, he handed a gift to each of the spellbound boys.

The oldest boy read out his tag. “To Jamal. From Santa.” His eyes grew wider.

“Open it,” said Cory, hardly able to contain his excitement.

Jamal carefully removed the wrapping from his gift as if he were undressing a baby. His round face beamed when he discovered a PlayStation.

His dad looked at Cory and raised his eyebrows. He turned to Omar holding onto his gift like it would disappear if he loosened his grip. “Don’t you want to see what is in your package?”

The young boy ripped the package open and produced a huge smile as he pulled out a baseball glove. “I love to play baseball!” He slid his left hand in and punched his right fist into the mitt.

Cory’s mom looked over at her son with tears in her eyes. “I think you deserve to open one of your presents, dear.”

Fun and laughter filled the rest of the morning. Cory loved all six of his gifts, but he would never forget the smiles on the faces of those little boys as they discovered gifts under the bright, shiny tree for them.

He learned the real meaning of Christmas that year.

This is my entry into Stevie Turner’s short story competition for the month of October. The story was inspired by this photo I took during my travels n Spain. It was suggested I write a story about this scene when I posted it recently. Let me know what you think. And why not enter a story yourself.

https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/09/28/share-your-short-story-october-2019/

Three Sheets to the Wind

by Darlene Foster

Stan woke with a terrible taste in his mouth. Trying to stand up, his head spun and he slumped down beside a large container.
“I swear, I´ll never drink again.”
He wanted to retch.
“My God, what is that awful smell.”
He rubbed his eyes. Through the dim early morning light, he could make out he was in a back alley leaning on a barrel filled with rotten vegetables. He glanced down.
“What the hell am I wearing?”
Instead of jeans and a T-shirt, he wore a baggy pair of pants that stopped at his knees, a wide sash and a loose shirt.
He couldn´t remember being at a costume party.
Two heavy-set men appeared out of the mist.
“Here´s another one,” said one fellow with a heavy accent, wearing a similar outfit.
They picked him up under his arms, dragging him along the cobblestones. “Captain said we should collect as many able bodied men as we can. We ship out tomorrow and need more crew.”
“What the…?” Stan struggled.
They tightened their grasp. “Shut up your mouth. You are now in the service of the Queen.”
***
He lay in his bunk feeling seasick as the boat left the dock. Perhaps it wasn’t the motion of the ship, but maybe the putrid smell of boiled cabbage, urine and stale air that was making his stomach churn.
He wandered over to the porthole. Looking out he saw two other ships. On the side of the one closest, he made out the name, Nino.
“What is going on? It must be a re-enactment of some kind, or a film set.”

He thought back to the previous day, the start of a holiday in Seville, Spain, where he was taking in all the sites. He met some other young guys and they had a few drinks at what used to be an old tavern. But that´s all he remembered. A knock on the door took him out of his thoughts.
“Time to swab the decks.”
The boat lurched as he climbed the stairs. He stumbled.
“You best get your sea legs.” The sailor behind him slapped him on the back and presented a toothless grin. Even though he spoke English, it wasn’t any dialect Stan was familiar with.
“These guys are really taking this serious,” he thought.
The rest of the motley crew sported beards, eye patches and even the occasional peg leg. He thought they did a good job with the costumes but why was he still clean-shaven and all in one piece?
A bearded sailor handed him a mop and a bucket. Stan shook his head. “Excuse me. I think there has been a mistake.”
The sailor stared at him and walked away.
He shrugged and began scrubbing.

“Wait ‘til I tell them back home that I ended up on a replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship.” He stopped and looked around as the land disappeared behind him.

“At least – I think it´s a replica.”
***
A dazed and disoriented fifteenth-century sailor wandered the streets of Seville. Everything appeared strange to him.
“Perhaps this is the afterlife,” he thought. “Probably hell.”
Large metal objects hurtled down the streets. Should a horse and rider happened along, they would both be killed. People dressed in a very odd manner. Men and women wore tight trousers and tiny tops that didn´t cover their arms and stopped at the waist. Just like the ones he found in the alcove by the cathedral.
He glanced away when women walked by looking immodest.
He had to put something on as he had lost his clothes sometime the night before. It was his last night before going with Captain Columbus to find India. He had been promised riches if he survived the journey. A humble sailor, he could only dream of wealth. After many drinks and fun with the whores, he stumbled out of the tavern and fell asleep in an alleyway. He woke up stark naked. After a wander up to the cathedral, he found clothes neatly rolled up in an alcove. They fit but he felt strange in them, until he saw everyone else wearing the same uniform.
He had to get to the ship or he would miss his chance.
He noticed a man with long hair and tattoos approaching. “Pardon, kind sir. Where is the port the Santa Maria is sailing from?”
“You mean, where did it sail from? It sailed from Palos de la Frontera.”
The sailor had trouble understanding the man as his accent was strange. But he understood the words, Palos de la Frontera.
“I must make haste and get there before it leaves.”
“I´m sorry mate, but you are 500 years too late.” The man laughed and walked down the street shaking his head.
The sailor ran his hands through his hair. “This must be hell, but when and how did I die? I should not drink ale again.” He tugged at his shirt hoping to cover more of his torso.

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!


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