A LIttle Ditty About a Dog Named Ellie

Ellie

Ellie

The past couple of weeks have been busy with Mid-Terms, studying and presenting my paper at North Georgia Arts and Letters Conference.  Everything is running together in my head, so I decided that I would pull out a little story I wrote for my friend Carlene, featuring her little dog Ellie.  So for your enjoyment, here’s a little tale (ha punny – get it) about what our dogs do when we’re not home. 

Ellie

The door was wide open, not a good sign.  Carlene carefully tiptoed up the four steps leading into her small cabin.  Her breathing rapid, she was afraid of what she may find as she pushed the door further ajar.  Who broke in? Was her pet okay?

“Ellie?” she called for her beloved little friend, her voice shaky and fearful.  Vision of thieves and robbers filled her thoughts and she became anxious.

A jingle caught her attention.  It was the familiar sound of Ellie’s collar, as the tag chimed in happy unison with the metal on the clip.  Carlene rounded the corner and sighed with relief.  There in the kitchen sat Ellie, her head bowed, eyes shifting side to side as she hid beneath a birthday hat.  The strange sight caught Carlene off guard.

“What in heaven’s name are you wearing?”  she questioned her furry friend.

Ellie wagged her tail as she walked to the edge of the kitchen opening.  Carlene’s eyes darted around the modest home, noticing now the colorful balloons, pink paper streamers and cake crumbs which littered the floor by the trash can.

“What’s been going on here?”

Carlene dropped her briefcase on the nearest chair and turned to close the door.  Placing her hands on her hips, she eyed her pet in disbelief.  The house was in shambles.  She couldn’t image thieves breaking in, just to have a party, and including the dog.  There was something more to this, and she was going to find out what it was.

Her little dog pushed at the hat with a paw until it fell to the carpet.  Giving Carlene the best ‘puppy dog’ look any animal could have mustered, Ellie lay on the floor and scooted on her belly until she was at Carlene’s feet.  Rolling over, tongue hanging out, she smiled and panted in a happy fashion.  Carlene bent down to stroke Ellie on the head and then began to take the streamers off the chandalier.   A sudden movement out of the corner of her eye caused her to look outside.  Through the large bay window she saw a large group of canines making a bee line for the road.  Each possessed a similar party hat to that of Ellie’s.  Turning to regard her little friend, she was speechless.

Ellie sat up and tried to look innocent, but wasn’t fooling her owner.  Carlene thought back to other times she found things amiss at the house when she got home.  Trash cans overturned, things out of the refrigerator and the bathroom….yes, it now made perfect sense.

Looking at Ellie with a disapproving frown, Carlene shook her head.  “And to think…I thought it was just you drinking out of the toilet!”

Sci Fi Short Story – Different take on “The Last Man on Earth.”

Luckers and his Sad Face

Luckers and his Sad Face

I took out an old story from one of my writing groups.  We had to use the last man on Earth prompt.  I added some things and took away some things from my original version, and created a little something different.  Hope you enjoy!

It was the last night for the last man on Earth, and he sat quietly on the edge of his cot, contemplating the world and his existence in it.  Morning came too quickly, and was abruptly interrupted by a sharp knock at the door in front of him.  The sound firmly forced the knowledge of his demise to slowly seep into his thoughts, as he viewed the stark white padded room around him. Sighing deeply, he told himself it would be over shortly, there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

“Mr. Williams, it’s time.”  The feminine voice, with her soft words filtered through the voice box from the other side of the door in a peculiar fashion, tantalizing but exacting all at the same time, without care or compassion.

Slowly he stood up, he eyes watering for some unknown reason.  It wasn’t feelings or anything like emotion, he told himself.  At least that’s what he said to convince his conscience.  He walked methodically to the suit hanging on the hook by the door and donned the environmental garb. This simple motion had been done so many times in the past three months.  He looked at the second skin like an old friend, the only thing that allowed him access to an outside world he was no longer welcome in. Zipped into the contraption like a piece of unwanted garbage, he waited before answering, savoring the last bit of fresh air before placing his helmet on and snapping the oxygen lines together.

“Are you ready?”  The woman’s voice questioned as the locks turned, releasing the six-inch steel door from its frame.

Breathing erratically, he mumbled his acknowledgement to the two females who greeted him.  Dressed in white uniforms, they led the man down a long corridor, his machine pumping his life to him.  Stripped of any recognizable emblems, the dull gray walls blinded him, as he shuffled behind his guards to the end of the hallway.

Pausing briefly, before pushing on the door hardware, the blond-headed woman on his left smiled slightly.  “It will be over before you know it.  She said it wouldn’t be a long trial.”

Stepping over the threshold as she held the door open, the man stood quietly for a moment, drinking in his newfound fame.  His presence, spotlighted in the piercing lights of cameras from the local news, caused a stir within the audience, as the females whispered and pointed at him.   He raised an arm to shield his eyes, as he glanced around the courtroom, his stare finally resting on the matronly Judge.

“This way Mr. Williams.”  The blond guard motioned towards the benches situated before the judge.  Mr. Williams regarded her with mixed emotions.  Any other time, he would be the first to flirt, but now, male egos had no place anymore.

He stumbled again, awkwardly making his way to the seat beside his attorney.  Careful to pull his oxygen lines from around his body, he stood until the Judge smacked the gravel, signaling for the courtroom to an observed quiet.

The elderly Judge furrowed her brow, her face contorted with misgivings.  Her piercing brown eyes squinted slightly as she sized up the lonely man in front of her.  “Mr. Williams, you are on trial today, not for what you have done, but for what all men have done to this earth, do you understand?”

Mr. Williams nodded slowly.  “Yes ma’am.”

“Because of men striving to constantly control every aspect of life here on earth through war and corruption your kind created the greatest injustice.  By seeking to destroy life through man-made disease, your kind only managed to kill off itself.  I guess this trial is to determine whether or not we should allow the male part of our species to continue.  And you, being the last man on Earth, I ask, can you give me any reason why men should be allowed to continue to exist in light of the fact that this was your disease you spawned Doctor?”

Swallowing hard, Mr. Williams stood.  “Men help to procreate our human species.  Without us, life would not continue.”

The courtroom burst into laughter.  “Mr. Williams,” the Judge smiled, “women can use science to procreate.  We’ve mastered many ways to create life, and with all the sperm banks available, we have just what we need.  Anything else?”

“Who will you fall in love with?”  He stammered his heart caught in his throat.

“Well, you may have a point there, but it still doesn’t disguise the fact of what men do.  War and money seems to top the list, and yes, let’s not forget, you abuse the power God gave to you, but putting this world in a constant state of dysfunction, by material things, and the lack of common respect for others, especially those of the female persuasion.  How can men overcome that?”

Bowing his head, Mr. Williams realized the Judge was right.  From the time history could be written, men seemed to always be at war, murdering and destroying in the name of some pretended injustice, or conquering others just to have their lands and wealth.  He was at a loss; he raised his eyes and shook his head.  “Your honor, I don’t have an answer for that.”

The courtroom became quiet.  “Without any fallible reason then, for this court to sustain your remaining days here on Earth, you will bear the punishment of all those before you…” the Judge began.

“Wait!”  The word was spoken loudly from the back of the room.  Mr. Williams struggled to turn his helmet to see who had come to aid in his defense.

A small girl of about twelve stepped through the crowd of women, pushing her way forward.  “Wait, I have a reason.”  She cried, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“And what is that reason, child!”  The Judge demanded.

“Without men, we don’t have Daddies, and without Daddies, we don’t have butterfly kisses, someone to buy you milkshakes when days don’t go right, someone to help you ride a bike for the first time, someone to keep the monsters out of the closet and someone to hold you when your mom can’t.  Please Ms. Judge, don’t take away Daddies.  Kids need Daddies just as much as they need Mommies!”

The Judge leaned back in her seat, contemplating the young girl and her words.  The mental pictures of her father, helping her learn to ride her bike slid into focus, and she thought of her times with him.  She smiled.  “Out of the mouth of babes…”  She murmured, her eyes filming with salt water.

“Mr. Williams…in lieu of what has been said in your defense; you have been sentenced, not to death but to life, a life of greater meaning, as a teacher.  You must build and teach the next age of men, to find that part of themselves which nurtures and loves, so that our world doesn’t have to be thrown into masculine war and turmoil.  You must re-write History as the first Adam of a new age, a new time and new thinking.”  Looking at the young child, the Judged added, “and teach others how to be Daddies and fathers who regard their children just as preciously as they should be.”

The court adjourned and Mr. Williams made his way back out towards the hallway, his life-giving suit filled with sweat and the stale breath of a saved dead man.  The young girl ran to his side and grasped his gloved hand, her innocent eyes looking towards the enclosed face.  “I love you Daddy,” she whispered.

“Love you too baby girl.”

“Silence” / A Sci-Fi Short from the Desk of Constance Wallace

When I dream at night, it is usually in major motion picture color, with added 3D clarity, which brings the visions to a striking realism.  Minus the booming effects that my boyfriend Kevin Henderson can add, with his ever so wonderful knowledge of Home Entertainment Systems, I sometimes find some great short stories from these particular nights.

Here is one called “Silence.”

The world was quiet.  All the anxious fear had been silenced, and the only sound right now, was the gentle washing of the sea, as it pulled at the sand in front of me.  I ran my fingers through the warmth of the small crystals, letting the granules slip through the opening between my fingers.  Is this how God feels, contemplating creation? A brief moment of absolute clarity, and then the moment vanishes?

I can’t make the screams go away.  I didn’t like this feeling of being a creator, chosing life and death, placing the value of human existence upon a scale that I must weigh.  It was wrong to me.

The department was my responsibility, its experiments I oversaw.  All pre-cautions were put in place.  How did they breach the system?

I can’t make the screams go way.

“General, you must blow the sector!  If you release it, we’re all doomed!”

That sentence replayed itself like the emotions on the other side of the monitor, as I watched my friends and co-workers claw at the sealed doors, asking for release.  I could not make the vision go away.  It was my creation, a viral mutation that could silence the whole world.  They needed to be released, their anxious fears muted.

“General, your command?”

Did I say the words?  I don’t remember.  All I remember is the silence.  A weight of quietness, which hung about my shoulders, its heaviness equal to my burden of creation.  I can’t make the screams go away.

“Grandma?”

The gentle touch of little fingers brought my vision to the present.  I turned to view the innocence of my grandchild.

“Yes, dear, is it time?”

The small blond head nodded quickly, her smile beaming away the dark cloud which veiled my thoughts.  Rising from the warmth of the sand, I grasped the beautiful fingers as she led me back to the island temple.  Our sanctuary from the silence of the world.  Our place of regeneration, my creation.  A people who knew no war, no fear, no hunger, no disease, no strife.

I could not make the screams go away.

Whispers in a Library – In honor of Halloween’s Horror Time

Just thought everyone could do with a bit of scary fun!  Beware Librarians.

Whispers floated from the back of the building, the soft words emanating from the office of old Ms. Pemberton.  Clare squinted at the closed
door.  Shaking her head, she flipped the lights back on in the main room of the small town library and briskly walked down the corridor.

Kids, she thought to herself, can’t let an old woman’s things alone.  This was the third time this week she had to get them out of the Librarian’s office.  Teenagers goofing around, thinking that it would be fun being locked in the library all night.  Little did they know, she laughed quietly. Taking the keys from her purse, she slipped the metal into the lock and turned the knob.

“What are you two doing in here?” she demanded as she stepped into the office and turned the light on.

Tommy Totherow and Frances Ledford both looked up in surprised.  “Ms. Ridgely…is it closing time?”  Frances stuttered her eyes wide like a doe.

“You both know it is.  It’s almost midnight. Why are you hiding back here?”

“We were just trying to find out if it’s true,” Tommy stated gallantly.

“Find out what?”  Clare lowered her head and raised her eyebrows.

“If the ghost of Ms. Pemberton actually haunts this place,” he finished.

Clare regarded the two in contemplation.  Ever since the body was discovered in the office one morning, rumors flew around the small Georgia town about her ghost haunting the library.

Smiling to herself, Clare motioned for the teenagers to get out of the office.  “There are no such things as ghosts.  Come on you two, it’s time to go.  I’m sure your parents are wondering where you are.”

As she escorted the young people out of the library, Clare realized she forgot to lock the office door.  Waving farewell to Tommy and Frances, she quickly secured the main entry before anything could escape.  Walking back to the Librarian’s office, she noticed the air had begun to chill, her breath hung briefly as she grew closer to the end of the corridor.

She really needed to be more careful, she thought to herself, or they would get out and then everyone would know.  Nearing the door, she saw a pale wisp forming at the threshold.  Smiling, she looked at the ghost of her reflection, the eyes wide in terror.

“Thank you dear for giving up your body.  This is just what an old woman needed, a fresh new start in this century.  Have fun with the others, nothing above a whisper though, ya hear?”

 

Short Story – Grandma’s Blackberry Patch

It’s been one of those days.  Here is a little short story which the emotions decided to write.  I do not know why, but I cried while writing it.  I guess it was because the emotion which wrote it was sadness. A work in progress which will be submitted to this year’s Prose contest for the Corn Creek Review here at Young Harris College  

            Grandma Tinning died on a stormy Saturday night last fall, right before my thirteenth birthday.  I was there with her, as well as my mother, and I remember the smile she gave to me as she drew her last breath.  The release of her soul was peaceful, her face relaxed as she left this realm, and traveled to the place where grandfather waited for her.

I remember mother being very upset, her world upside down, tears flowing freely, without any regard for proper appearance in front of the doctor and others who gathered with us, as they covered her mother with an old quilt kept on her bed.  While the rest of the family held mixed emotions concerning grandma’s death, especially one of my aunts, for me, it brought deep sadness to my heart; the only child of the eldest daughter, her death marked the progression towards the hollowing and aging of my soul.

Grandma and I were very close, and often when I visited during the holidays or summers, we would steal away from the rest of the family.  Tired of the formal attire, and attitude, to which our family adhered too, we sought the uninhibited flowers and trees, which coaxed in both of us, the wanton desire to mix with the inhuman, and converse with those who lived among their branches.  Grandma loved walking down to her gardens and talking about the wildness of youth, and what she did as a young girl to quiet her untamed heart.  Even though she was my grandmother, she seemed to understand what flamed a girl’s secret desire, and spoke of love with such a passion, that it kindled in me a fire which could only be extinguished once we reached the secret gate behind the blackberry patch, and entered into the magical world beyond.

Back behind grandma’s blackberry patch, there was a secret opening to a hidden refuge she created long ago when grandfather was alive.  It was a place she always talked about with love, as they both shaped it to be their own hiding place from the rest of the world.  The place held mystery in my eyes, and as she opened the wooden gate, it was almost as if we stepped from this earth into another world not visited by humankind very often.  Grandma Tinning
would tell me about the fairies that lived back in the dark corners of the garden, and how she visited with them every month when the moon was full.  The fairies first appeared before grandfather died, marking a strange pact for both of them, she told me. Only after his passing, as grandma became alone, did she find a new friend to keep her company.

“Before I had you Lucille, the fairies were my companions,” she whispered with a smile.

She still conversed with them from time to time, she confessed, and during the light of the full moon, the fairy prince would become human just for her, and whirl her into waltzes, to music played by the numerous grogs and frogs that formed the night time band. As a child, I believed every word, and watched as the dusk would come, and the lights would fill the garden and the blackberry patch, and grandma would pointand say, ‘there, Lucille, there  under the willow trees, behind the blackberry patch, there is where my prince and I will dance next time the moon is full.’

Watching them lower her into the frozen ground, away from the beauty of light, and fairy magic, caused something within me to die as well.  Her stories, which were once clear, began to fade, and my memory refused to hold on to them.  It was only after the funeral came and went that I began to understand why there was so much mixed emotion about her passing.

“Celia, mother was getting senile.  All those stories she told Lucille about fairies living in her garden were plain nonsense.  Why, she was eighty plus years living in a child’s world.”

That was my Aunt Estella, the youngest of grandma’s daughters, but she thought herself the wisest.  Aunt Estella did not marry like my mother and her sister, Maggie, instead choosing to continue her education through graduate school.  She was actually a PhD, but my mother did not like calling her doctor, because she felt Aunt Estella went to school just to get the title so she could look down on others.

“Stella, there is no reason to badmouth mother in front of Lucille.”

That was Aunt Maggie.  A middle child, Aunt Maggie faired the best of all of them.  Quiet and aloof, shy and mild-mannered, she married a very handsome doctor, whose practice thrived in the rural mountains of Tennessee because of his and his wife’s gentleness and caring.

“Mother loved her gardens, and if they were magical to her, and made her happy, then that is all that matters to me.  You need to stop Stella, before we say something each of us will regret.”

That was mother.  Always the mediator, never wanting to fight, but would if she felt a wrong being committed.  She was also the divorced woman, whose decision to take her own life into her own hands, instead of allowing her husband to control it for her, ended a fifteen year marriage.  She was happier now, more so then with papa.

“Both of you need to realize the woman was living in a dream world towards the end of her life.  I bet if you look at her will, she made changes, leaving everything she owned to this supposed fairy prince.  I bet there was some man who came every month pretending to be this wonderful lover, and got her to change her will.”

Aunt Maggie sighed, the sound heavy and impatient.  “Stella, is that all you care about, mother’s will?  I think this is the umpteenth time you have brought it up.  Really, sister, you disappoint me.”

“Mother’s will was locked up after father died.  She has not touched it.  All she cared about after dad’s death was her garden that he built for her.   I handled her money transactions.  She did not want to bother with any of it, she told me,” my mother replied.

I kept quiet, sitting alone by the large window overlooking grandma’s blackberry patch.  Did any of them know what lay behind it?  Had grandma taken any of them to the secret gate into her world of magic?  I wondered if they even knew how wonderful the fairy lights were at dusk.

“Well I still want the will read out by my attorney.  I do not want any unforeseen obstacles to probating the estate.”

“For God’s sake Stella, the woman’s not been in the ground more than a day, and all you can think about is mother’s will and things.  It is just stuff, no bond of love, or word of comfort, will come from it,” Aunt Maggie retorted angrily.  I could see Aunt Estella was getting to her nerves again.

“I do not want to stay here any longer than I have too,” Aunt Estella snipped briskly.  “I had enough of this manor when I was younger.  Mother never took to me like she did you and Celia; there was never any ‘love bond’ between us.  I rather not dwell on unpleasant memories.”

I watched Aunt Estella march from the room, her shoulders thrown back, black suit starched to stiffness, never giving way to creases or touches.  I always found her to be very sad.  She was so smart, but not smart enough to realize what she needed to do to belong in a family.

“Celia, that woman cannot be our sister, she is like a dragon, her fire scorching everything it touches.”

My mother took a smoke from grandfather’s old cigar box.  It was one of her hiding places in the manor.  When things became tense, she would puff on about half of it and then gag, often voicing her wonderment at why she ever picked it up.  This time I saw her hand shaking, and she drew a breath longer than normal, her eyes watering.  But whether from the smoke or something else, she refused to allow the liquid to escape its captivity.

“I have never understood Stella.  She always seems to think only of herself.  Mother left the estate to be divided equally among us.  It is almost like she is afraid of being left out,” mother murmured as she exhaled the cigarette smoke.

Aunt Maggie said nothing.  Her eyes wandered around the room until they caught me in their study.  Nodding, Aunt Maggie smiled lightly, the motion brief, as her eyes reflected sorrow that her heart could not contain.  I could tell she was deeply affected by grandma’s death also.

“Well, tomorrow it will be over and done with.  Let her attorney read it over, for pity’s sake, so at least she feels in control of something.”  Mother stamped out the smoking cigarette in
the ash tray at the corner of the desk, her lips drawn into a frown as she punished
the piece of tobacco, twisting it and mashing it until it was just a small piece of white pulp.

I stayed at the window long after they left the room.  The evening breeze was picking up and the sound of the rustling leaves was comforting.  It was like grandma’s voice, soft and
assuring. I could hear her whispering in my memories, to come and follow her out to the blackberry patch, leaving the unkind world behind, and seeking the solace of magic, in the secret place beyond.  The manor was deathly quiet, and I suddenly felt that I could not take its silence any longer.  The sun was still above the horizon, and I needed to find our place once more, before all was abandoned as youthful things are most often discarded, into the back of a box, and they allowed grandma’s secret garden to become overgrown and forgotten.

Escaping from the crowd which was congregating down below, I slipped through a side door and into the freedom of grandma’s yard.  Running towards the blackberry patch, I was delighted to see the fairy lights already peeking in and around the green leaves and dark crimson berries.  Her magic had not faded yet.

Following a half hidden stone path, I quickly darted around the edge and squeezed through the thorny branches, as they tried to keep me from the secret gate.  Grandma was back there, I could feel her hand reach for me, and I wanted to be with her, for just one last time, to hear her tell me of her fairy prince, and the midnight waltzes under the silvery full moon.

Squeaking with irritation at being burdened with opening, the hinges to the gate finally gave way and allowed me entrance.  I crossed the threshold, and stepped into grandma’s fairy world.  It was as I remembered it, the color flowing like an endless sea of flowers, the scent intoxicating.

Her fairy lights darted quickly, hiding themselves from view, uncertain of the visitor which suddenly intruded into their kingdom.  The frenzy which I felt earlier, dissipated as I walked to our stone bench by the lily pond.  Cottonwood seed floated on the gentle wind as I place myself on the center of the cold seat, and I sang the calling song, which grandma taught me many years ago, the hum of the words seemed so forlorn now, more so than before.

And I waited.

The ticking of time passed more rapidly than I wanted and I sang again, this time with more urgency.  Yet, the fairy lights stayed within their shelter and refused to show themselves.
No matter how hard I sang, none came forth, venturing to visit like they did when grandma was here.

Then as the sun settled at the edge of the earth, the shadows filled the garden, and the vibrant colors begin to wash from their places in the petals.  Once in awhile I saw the brief glimpse of fabric behind one of the azalea bushes, or passing behind the dogwoods and crepe myrtles, but the movement was gone before I could clearly see the pattern of the dress.
Now as I think back, it seemed to me to resemble the gay frock that grandma used to wear.

As the sun laid itself to rest, the full moon rose, and I stayed, my hope to see the fairies one last time powerful, and unyielding.  I glanced at the orb above me in the night sky in anticipation.  Would her fairy prince come out now, to dance with me like he did with grandma?

Time waned, and the air became colder, and the cottonwood stopped their dance, and the flowers lost their colors entirely as the light of moon bathed them in quiet sorrow, and washed them of their life.  I shivered.  Grandma’s prince did not come.  And as the silvery glow became obscured behind thick, dark clouds, it was then, that I realized, grandma’s magic had said its farewell.  The garden behind the blackberry patch became just like every other ordinary garden, and I was alone.

Sci-Fi Short Story – A Long Winter

It had been half a day of trudging through snow and ice at a pace any normal person would have already succumbed to.  This was my purgatory, I was sure of it.  I wondered who I pissed off in my other life to be detailed so far away from the green and blue of home.  All I could see was white and more white on this forsakened planet, and the far distance speck of the demon that pursued me.

I really could not understand why he was so upset.  It was not like she meant
anything to either one of us.  She was just something to hold on to when this endless winter chilled you to the very marrow of your bones.  Her death was trivial compared to what we had to endure here.  No warmth, no comfort, no one but us until the supply ship comes in six months.  It was hell so far away from Earth, and I really did not care about her passing.

The speck was gaining distance, and I was not making much headway in the wind.
The gap was closing quickly, and even though I mustered a reserve of energy, the brute still caught me.

“How could you do it mate?” he thundered above the gale, shaking me until my teeth rattled.  “She was me one and only.”

“She was nothing!” I screamed, as I clawed at his fist.

“She was like me bride,” he countered roughly drawing back his hand as he prepared to strike.  “Now what am I supposed to do the nights when I be off watch?”

I glanced down at the electrical cord  tightly gripped within my grasp.  “For God’s sake man! She was just an electric blanket!  I’ll buy you a bloomin’ new one!”