Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘short story

I am sooo pleased to announce that my story, As The Crow Flies, won runner-up in the September short story contest run by Stevie Turner. Check out the winning story, it is so good, and all the other wonderful entries.

Stevie Turner

Thanks to everybody who submitted their lovely stories this month.  It was hard to pick a winner and runner up, but here goes:

The winner for September is Kelly Wallace-Artieri with her rather touching story ‘I Rang the Bell’.

https://www.kellyartieri.com/single-post/2018/09/16/I-Rang-the-Bell

Congratulations Kelly, you can use this laurel on your website:

SHORT STORY LAUREL WINNER SEP 2018

And the runner-up is Darlene Foster with her horror story ‘As the Crow Flies’:

 https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2018/09/26/as-the-crow-flies/

Congratulations Darlene, and here’s your laurel to use:

SHORT STORY LAUREL RUNNER UP SEP 2018

Do check out all the other great submissions below.  I enjoyed reading them all:

 

Lady Pamela Rose – Petals in the  Wind:  http://achronicalofhope.com/2018/09/03/petals-in-the-wind/

 

Lilly Orchid – Of Dreams and Flying Things:  https://inthesilenceoftheday.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/of-dreams-and-flying-things/comment-page-1/#comment-41

  

Merchant Writes Again – Lips don’t Lie:  https://merchantwritesagain.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/lips-dont-lie/comment-page-1/#comment-518

 

Patrick Walts – With New Eyes:  https://patrickwaltsfiction.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/with-new-eyes/  

 

Phil Huston –  Evan Who?  https://philh52.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/evan-who/ 

 

Robert Kirkendall – The Hill:  https://robertkirkendall.com/2014/10/17/the-hill/comment-page-1/#comment-765  

 

Tallis Steelyard – Sometimes One…

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Stevie Turner is running another short story competition for the month of September over on her blog. The deadline is September 27, so there are still a few more days to enter so why not give it a try and submit something. Here are the details.

This is my entry.

Inge's Denmark photo

photo by Inge Bessmann Norris

As the Crow Flies

by Darlene Foster

A multitude of crows sprang from the misty marshland like bullets fired from a Winchester rifle. Their sorrowful caws fell on deaf ears. The smell of death rose with their nefarious wings as they vanished into the low-lying, ominous clouds.

Leasha absently followed the familiar path. She could have walked it with her eyes closed like she did when she was a child. When she danced happily along the path she loved so much, making up stories in her head and believing her handsome prince would come around a corner any minute.

Before her mother went missing and her father went mad. Before her brothers went to college and her sister moved to the States. She alone remained on the home farm tucked in among the fenlands.

Someone had to be there in case Mother returned.

She looked up at the darkening sky to see crows swarming. She ducked as they whooshed over her. Never before had she seen so many at one time. Trying to recall the collective term for crows, she bent down again, holding her hands over her head as they zoomed by once more.

The crows flew into the marsh, landing in a cluster. Leasha stared at the black mass with raised eyebrows. A whiff of decay drifted her way. She left the path and crept closer.

Feeling her way in the soggy bog, her heart thundered and her breath caught in her throat. She was never allowed off the path. But the crows summoned her.

The crows shrieked louder. The dank, fetid smell grew stronger. She drew nearer.

Images of her mother flashed before her. That last day. Her mother at the sink washing the breakfast dishes, so pretty in her red and white checked shirt-waist dress. Leasha shook her head to erase the image from her mind. It hurt too much.

“I’m going for a walk,” she shouted as she skipped out the door.

“Be careful and stay on the path,” her mother warned, as always.

“Don’t worry. I will.”

She got caught in a sudden rain shower and found refuge by a large rock. When she arrived home everyone was waiting for her. Everyone but her mother. Her lovely mother who had gone to look for her but never came back.

Leasha squeezed her eyes shut and brushed a tear from her cheek. She opened her eyes and saw it. A piece of red and white checked cloth in the beak of a wicked crow.

“Where did you get that?” she shouted as she stumbled after the pilferer, her water laden hiking boots heavy and cumbersome.

She fell face first in the slimy mud. She reached for the reeds to hoist herself up. They parted revealing the myriad of crows. Crows resting on bones. Bones partially covered with a grimy ripped red and white dress.

Leasha choked back a scream.

Mother had returned as she knew she would.

She remembered the term.

A murder of crows.

 

 

I am submitting this story to Stevie Turner´s Short Story Competition  You may want to submit one as well.

This story was inspired by a visit to Clifford´s Tower in York.

Terror in the Tower
By
Darlene Foster

The tower ruin overlooks the city from high on a grassy mound. Angela pulls her sweater tighter around her as she glances up. She experiences the same chill every time she walks past the site.
When she was seven, her mother took her up to the old stone keep. From a small window, she saw a girl looking out at her through iron bars. Fire blazed behind the child. It had frightened her so.
“Mommy, we need to help that little girl,” exclaimed Angela.
Her mother took her hand and said, “There are no children in there. It must be a trick of the sun reflecting off the water.”
The sad, terrified and helpless child appeared very real.
Angela shudders as she recalls that day. She rushes to work.
***
It was the feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol. Instead of the usual tables overflowing with food, around her lay the dead bodies of friends and neighbours. The smell of fresh blood and smouldering wood filled the thick air. Ester searched for Jacob and Marta in the crowded tower. She witnessed parents slitting their children’s throats and then their own. Terrified, Ester tried to look away, but it was the same everywhere.
Since she didn’t have any parents, she stayed with old Jacob the moneylender and his kind wife, Marta. For her board, she cleaned the house, made meals and ran errands. Ester stumbled in the smoke-filled keep looking for the only family she knew. Eventually, she found them, dead in each other’s arms on a bed of straw soaked with maroon blood. A curved butcher’s knife lay beside them.
Did they forget about me? Did Jacob slit his wife’s throat and then his own?
The flames and smoke of the burning wood tower closed around her.
A growing mob outside yelled, “Come out, you dirty Jews.”
Why is this happening? We were promised safety in the tower.
She peered through the iron bars of a low window. Angry people outside the tower waved swords, scythes and pitchforks. It was safer to stay inside. It was better to die by your own hand. That is what the Rabbi said.
In the crowd, she caught the clear blue eyes of a girl her age. A girl dressed in fine clothing. Maybe she can help me. Ester mouthed the word Help.
The girl pointed to the window and said, “Look, Mother, there is a little girl in the tower. It is burning. We must help her.”
Ester saw an elegant woman take the child´s hand and pull her away. “There are no children in there, Angelina. Let us go away from this awful place.”
Ester coughed from the thick smoke and fell backwards. The flames engulfed her.
***
Nine centuries later Angela feels the eyes of Ester pleading for help as she hurries past Clifford’s Tower on the way to her Hebrew lessons. One day she will stop and help the child.

Stevie Turner is running a month-long short-story contest on her blog. You may want to enter. Writing short stories is a good way to get inspired to write. Here is the link https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/novembers-share-your-short-story-competition/

Since we are getting close to November 11th, I thought this would be an appropriate entry.

Home Fires
By Darlene Foster

Carol tried not to think of him. It hurt too much. She never thought loneliness could be so painful. The farm chores kept her busy. She promised him she would look after the farm in his absence and keep it thriving. In a trance, she went through the day-to-day motions of feeding the kids, the livestock and herself.

The children stopped asking where their daddy was and when he was coming home. There had been no letter for months. The neighbours helped when they could, but they had lost two sons and reminded her of unpleasant things.
What did she know about farming? She was a city girl before she met John. Her parents begged her to move back to the city with them, but she had made a promise. She convinced herself if she stayed and kept the farm going, he would return.

The baby cried. Carol held her close, inhaling the sweet smell of baby powder. Poor little thing, she doesn’t even know her daddy. How could he leave me with three young children? He said he had to do his duty. Wasn´t his duty to me, the children and the farm?

Carol shook the thoughts from her head. She didn´t wish to be angry. Of course, he had to go. She was proud of him.

He looked so handsome in his uniform the day he left. She wanted to hold him one more time. Hold him and never let go. But with his buddies all around, he wouldn´t have liked that. She kissed him quickly, smiled and made her promise, “Don’t worry. I´ll look after the farm until you come home.”

The baby slept. Carol laid her in her cot. Did she look like her father? She wasn’t sure. She couldn´t quite remember what he looked like anymore. All the pictures of him were put away in a drawer, even their wedding picture. An unbearable pain pierced her heart every time she looked at them.

Some things she would never forget, like the way her body responded to his and how she felt safe and secure in his arms at night. With him there, nothing could hurt her. With him gone, everything hurt.

“Mom, Mom! Come quick. There’s a fire in the barn,” John Junior shouted as he ran into the house.

Carol sprang to action. She ran to the pump, picked up a bucket and filled it with water. She handed it to her son and said, “Quick! Pour this on the fire and come back for another.” She filled a second bucket.

She couldn´t let the barn burn down. It had to be standing when he came home. She had promised to look after things. Carol ran into the smoke-filled barn and dumped water on the smouldering hay. The smoke filled her lungs and made her eyes sting.

Grabbing a horse blanket, she beat the flames while the children brought buckets of water to douse the hay and wood floor. The flames died, but she kept beating and beating.

“Mommy! Mommy! You can stop now. The fire is gone.” Her daughter tugged at her sleeve.

She leaned back against the barn wall and slid to the floor, exhausted. Holding her head in her blackened hands, Carol sobbed, for the first time since she said goodbye to her husband.

Thanks for reading. The Amanda in New Mexico giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Melinda who won the package!

 

Stevie Turner has a new feature on her blog site called share your short story. I encourage you to submit a story   https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/new-category-share-your-short-story/     Here’s mine!

Prize Winner

By Darlene Foster

We were close to being a perfect family and we didn’t need anyone else to disrupt things. Mom, good at family planning, spaced the three of us out evenly. Three years apart seemed just right, as far as I was concerned. A sister would have been nice. But in spite of the fact that little brothers could be annoying, I felt happy with the way things turned out.

I was not happy when I heard another baby was about to join our family. At almost sixteen, I didn’t relish the idea of looking after a little kid and missing out on parties and fun stuff. Why did mom have to have another baby? Couldn’t she be more responsible and think of the rest of us? Besides, wasn’t she too old to be lugging around a small child? Angry at this turn of events, I decided not to speak to her ever again.

Mom explained that she hadn’t planned this and it disrupted her life too. “Things don’t always turn out the way we want but we have to accept them and make the best of the situation,” she said.

I didn’t care how Mom felt and refused to look up from my book as she spoke. My life was about to be ruined.

Mom looked awfully tired at times, and although I was not speaking to her, I tried to do as many of her chores as I could. I had a packed schedule with school, choir practice, drama club and Canadian Girls in Training. There’d be no time for the extra work a new baby in the house would entail. What if the child cried and I couldn’t do my homework or study for exams? Could we even afford another mouth to feed?

February arrived, soon time for the annual Valentines Day dance at school – and I had nothing to wear! Mom had a piece of burgundy baby-wide corduroy in her sewing chest and we bought a Chanel style suit pattern the last time we were in town. She promised to have the suit made for the dance. After doing all the farm chores and cooking meals, she was always too tired to start the project. I would die if I had to wear something old to the dance. We had no money for a store-bought dress.

Besides being a good seamstress, Mom was a great cook and baked mouth-watering desserts. She often entered her recipes in contests, attended the bake-offs and won prizes. That year she entered her Apple Cottage Cheese Pie recipe in the Medicine Hat News Recipe Contest. She passed her love of baking and cooking on to me and we enjoyed trying different recipes together. Once I entered a recipe contest and won a Five Roses Cook Book for honourable mention.

Mom also taught me to sew long before I took Home Economics in high school. I had already made a few things for myself: a shift dress, a couple of pop tops and a pair of shorts. By the time I took Home Economics, the obligatory pot holder and apron were a piece of cake for me. I ended up assisting the others with their sewing projects which was much appreciated by the overworked teacher.

The new baby was due mid-February. Mom finally cut the suit out of the corduroy and assured me it would be completed for the Valentine’s Dance. During the night of February 9, Dad woke us up to say he was taking Mom to the hospital as the baby was coming – and would I look after my brothers.

I mumbled, “Sure,” while I snuggled deeper under the warm quilt.

My third brother was born on February 10. Dad reported mother and baby doing well. The news didn’t have much effect on me except that mom would not be home until after the dance, and she had barely started on the suit.

I moved the sewing machine out of my parent’s bedroom into mine, studied the fabric pieces and sewing instructions, and with much care, made the A-line skirt. I admired the finished product in the mirror. It fit just right and actually looked store bought. I had never made anything as difficult as a jacket. I followed the instructions to a T and took my time. After a couple of frustrating hours fitting the sleeves so they were smooth, the jacket was finished – the night before the dance. Even the buttonholes looked good.

I felt like Jackie Kennedy in that suit. I received many compliments and didn’t sit out one dance. My town friends, in store-bought dresses, asked me if I could make them a suit just like it. It was my shining hour.

There was still the issue of a new person soon to inhabit our already crowded home, and I was not looking forward to it. They better not think I would babysit or help out in any way because I just wouldn’t. I had too much too much to do already. This baby wasn’t my concern.

I began to put things away in Mom’s sewing chest and considered sewing myself something else after the success of the suit. Mom had lots of pieces of material that she never got around to sewing. In my search through the fabric, I came across a large piece of canary yellow flannelette and a package of baby patterns.

An idea started to form. The sewing machine was still in my bedroom and it would be a couple more days until mom came home. I spent the entire weekend sewing a baby bunting bag for my new little brother. It turned out so cute. I looked forward to seeing him in it.

On Sunday I gave the house a good cleaning since Mom was coming home the next day. First, she had to go the Medicine Hat News office to collect her prize for the Apple Cottage Cheese Pie recipe and get her picture taken. Dad took the dress she requested when he went to pick her up from the hospital. He also took the bunting bag.
Dad, Mom, and baby arrived home soon after we got home from school. Mom beamed as she handed me a cute little person in a canary yellow, flannelette bunting bag. “Thanks for making this for your little brother.”

I held the precious bundle and fell in love. We had lots of room in our house and our hearts for this little guy. He would be fun to look after.
The following weekend Mom’s picture appeared in the Medicine Hat News. With a big smile, Mom held her prize-winning pie in front of her. No one could tell she had just had a baby and could not do up the zipper in the back of her dress.

Mom may have won an electric frying pan for her prize-winning recipe but I got the best prize – my wonderful little brother!

Featured in the anthology, In the Moment – Inspiring Hope 

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Dad and my three brothers.

DSCN0059

Lunch with my youngest brother and my awesome website designer.

My story, Terror in the Tower, is in this Friday FANTASTIC Flash. Thanks aliisaacstoryteller for including me.

aliisaacstoryteller

Friday FANTASTIC Flash Writing Challenge. www.aliisaacstoryteller.com Friday FANTASTIC Flash Writing Challenge.
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

Last week I challenged you to write about a building. Here is the prompt…

Tell me about a building which is important to you; are its walls ancient and crumbling, or modern shining glass and cold steel? Does it mean home to you, or prison? What happened here? Why do you care?

First off, I’d like to welcome a newcomer to Friday FANTASTIC Flash, Darlene Foster, who submitted this stunning story…

Terror in the Tower

Angela glances at the tower ruins that overlook the city from high on a grassy mound and pulls her sweater tighter around her. She experiences the same chill every time she walks past the site.

When she was seven, her mother took her up to the old stone keep. From a small window, she saw a girl looking out at her through iron bars. Fire blazed behind…

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