Archive for May, 2011

31st May
2011
written by amber

What the Cats Saw

Something entered their yard, something large. En masse, the cats leapt from the bed and pressed their faces against the patio door. The three shy cats crept from beneath the bed, camouflaged with hanks of fur not matching their own, and hovered in the background, eyes wide, crouched  in anticipation of the imminent need for flight. The solitary cat thumped onto the floor from the top of the cupboard and tried to join the others but Rosey, the eldest, hissed at him.

Burns, one-eared and grizzled, had seen the thing, bigger than the Pontiac and possibly as hazardous, although he couldn’t imagine a trip to the vet in the thing, unless there was a vet in the sky where the thing had come from. The other cats didn’t see the large shiny thing, it had disappeared by the time they arrived at the window. But they all knew it was there, they could sense its massive presence in their yard, they could hear the high pitched sound it made, a sound they had never heard before. Sweet, like birdsong, enticing even, although when foolish Blackie made a move toward the cat door, Rosey snarled a warning at him, despite the fact that the cat door was locked for the night.

When the woman in the white dress arrived to make breakfast for Mum and help her to the bathroom, she fed them and unlocked the cat door. When she was ready to leave, she said, “I don’t know what’s the matter with the cats today. Not a one of them has gone outside yet.”

“Leave their door open,” Mum said. “Marie can close it when she comes tonight. I wonder what’s gotten into them? Every one of them was hiding under the bed when I woke up.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

30th May
2011
written by amber

Dog Piss Rhubarb

For five months, Patricia has lived in the basement suite on 3rd Avenue. It’s dark and dank, but costs only $400 a month. She has two rooms, a bedroom with no window and a kitchen/living room with a tiny dusty window encased in metal bars. She shares a bathroom with a man who works at the abattoir, a man who was furious when he found out that her rent is significantly lower than his. She should never have told him, but she knew nothing of the unwritten rules of renting; she’d lived in her own home for the previous 24 years. Actually, it was her husband’s home, a no-doubt written rule of married life of which she’d also been ignorant.

Her rent is lower because she does all the gardening, and that’s not an onerous duty but a joy, not that she’d admit this to her envious basement-mate. She doesn’t know what his rent is, nor what the couple who rent the entire upstairs pay; she just knows that $400 is all she can afford. Her part-time job is a favour from a friend who knew she was not well enough – emotionally or physically – to enter the workforce, she can’t ask for a higher wage even though it’s nearly impossible to make ends meet. Thank goodness she’s finally able to harvest vegetables from the garden. And the raspberry bushes are looking good. Too bad the rhubarb patch is the one part of the garden claimed by the upstairs people’s dog. He pees on it every time he goes outside.

Brett gives her an allowance, a paltry $350/month, and he claims he’s being overly generous, since he still has to support Carla until she’s finished getting her Master’s degree. He complains about Carla’s expenses, yet Patricia’s opposition to the extravagant and endless spoiling of Carla is one of many issues leading to their impending divorce. For the $350/month, Brett expects many things – he expects Patricia to attend a weekly family dinner at his mother’s house where she is to pretend that everything is still fine between them, he expects her to mend his clothes, brings them along when he drops off the cheque, asking in a wheedling way, “You wouldn’t mind, would you? I asked at the laundry, but they say it takes up to a week.” She doesn’t mind, it’s something to do in the long dark evenings, trying to drown out the sound of her slaughterhouse housemate clashing his barbells to the floor and the incessant barking of the upstairs dog.

But when Brett asks her to bake him a pie to take to an office function, she nearly says no. She can’t afford chocolate but he wants her to make him a pie. Then she remembers the dog piss rhubarb.

 

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

29th May
2011
written by amber

Dog Diary of an Old Man

Mar. 29 Walked the dog.

Mar. 30 Walked the dog.

Mar. 31 Walked the dog. Got all the way to the river.

Apr. 1 Walked the dog. Old Mrs. Watson caught me in the condo’s foyer, asked if I liked the casseroles she sent after the funeral. Asked what I was doing. Dog leash and dog and warm jacket didn’t seem to have given her a clue, but I know for a fact she has 4 cats, no dog.

Apr. 2 Walked the dog. Mrs. Watson asked if she could walk with me today. Told her I’m training for a marathon, so I have to go fast. She’s too tubby to go fast. Then I had to go fast until I got around the corner, in case she was watching. Then I leaned against a fence and wheezed for 5 minutes. Didn’t get as far as the river today.

Apr. 3 Walked the dog. Mrs. Watson in the foyer again, hovering. Pretended to have a coughing fit. She said I’d better get over the cough before the marathon.

Apr. 4 Walked the dog. Marie Stratton waiting in the foyer. She said Mrs. Watson told her I needed a walking partner for my training. She sure walks fast. But she likes to stop for coffee half way through, knew a cafe with outside tables and a water dish for dogs.

Apr. 5  Walked the dog. Marie is thinking about getting a dog herself, asked me for advice. Over to her place in the evening to check out kennels on the internet. She’s going to help me get set up on the internet so I can stay in touch with the kids more easily.

Apr. 6 Walked the dog.

Apr. 7 Walked the dog.

Apr. 8 Walked the dogs. They’re getting along well.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

28th May
2011
written by amber

Five Permutations of Bubblegum

James had no idea that the bubblegum stuck on the bottom of his shoe would have so much impact.

1. In the line up for the bank teller, an annoying little boy fidgeting beside his mother dropped his gum just as James was about to step forward.  He didn’t dare make a fuss, in case it caused people to remember him. Later, trying to flee with his bag of cash, the gum on his shoe slowed him down enough for a cop to catch him.

2. “Hey, dude, ditch the gum,” his best man warned, so James tossed the wad toward a nearby vase of flowers. He didn’t realise he had missed until he leaned toward his new bride for the kiss, but was thrown off balance by the gum on his shoe, causing him to stumble against her so that she fell down in a heap of white lace and un-ladylike curses.

3. James strode into Mr. Barton-Hick’s palatial office for his third interview, a ‘mere formality’ prior to starting his six-figure job, but the gum he tracked across the important man’s Berber carpet nixed the deal.

4. Admiring his reflection in the mirror beside the escalator, James was happy with his hair style and trendy outfit, ready for his first date with a girl he’d had a crush on for months. Unfortunately, he didn’t notice the gum sealing his foot to the moving step until he reached the bottom, was unable to free his foot while his pant leg caught in the mechanism, causing him grievous injuries which ultimately lead to gangrene and death.

5. Instead of placing in the top ten of the marathon as he expected to do, James cartwheeled into the crowd when he slipped on a wad of expectorated bubblegum. He knocked a tiny baby right out of its mother’s arms, but made a huge leap and caught the child in mid-air.  The You-tube video of his spectacular crash went viral and, after appearing on several late night talk shows, he was hired to host a show about sports disasters. The rest is history.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

Today’s first line was suggested by Jose Hamer.  Thanks, Jose.

27th May
2011
written by amber

Pelicans

I can’t believe my eyes….a flotilla of thirty-eight…yes THIRTY-EIGHT…white pelicans are passing before me on my lake. And each and every one of them is scooping up my fish as fast as they can. Damn!

I check my console and discover I left the default for ‘enable birds’ on. Oh well, there’s nothing I can do about it now. Dialing down the temperature a bit – seeing those annoying birds heated me up – I enjoy my cup of coffee on the dock while I revise my plan for the day. Fishing is still on, of course, but I won’t pack a lunch, I’ll spend some time at my desk researching a humane way to eliminate the pelicans.

Keeping an environment in balance is trickier than you’d imagine. The giant trout taught me that. If I bring in super raptors to hunt the pelicans, what will they eat when the pelicans are gone? My fish? When my neighbour engineered a virus to combat mold on his pineapples, the damn thing turned on him, would have killed him if I hadn’t gone over to complain about the peacocks’ continuous screeching.

But, my god, this is fun. Possibly more fun than fishing. It reminds me of the computer games I played when I was a boy, so very many years ago. In fact, I keep expecting to hear my mother pounding on my door, demanding, “Robert, get outside into the real world and turn that fake world off.”

No chance of that now.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

Today’s first line was suggested by Arlene Dahl.  Thanks, Arlene.

Previous