Category Archives: short stories

A Haunted Headstone?

haunted headstone

In keeping with the spooky atmosphere of the evening, I give you one of my short stories. The cemetery I based this story around is located just west of my hometown.

I chose the particular headstone because it’s set off by itself on a bit of a hill surrounded by trees.

I hope you enjoy this seasonal piece.

A Halloween Tale

Brian and Emily clambered off their bicycles in front of a large three-storey, red brick house in the western end of the city. A huge sign bearing a wildcat and the words B&B hung from a post in the yard. “Is this the place?” he asked.

“I think so.” She slid her heavy rucksack off, dug into its small outer pocket, and pulled out the confirmation e-mail. Scanning the document, she checked the house and guidepost. “Yes. We’re here.”

Emily slung her pack over one shoulder. They walked their bikes to the side of the house and leaned them against the wall before going to the door. She reached out to ring the bell. At the same instant, the inside door opened. Startled, she jumped back.

“You’re the Wolvertsons? I’ve been expecting you.” The grey-haired, bespectacled woman craned her neck to see past them. “Where is your car?”

“We rode,” he said.

“Come in, you must be exhausted. Your room is this way.”

Hands clasped, the young couple accompanied the proprietor to their room.

“Here you are. Breakfast runs from seven to nine o’clock. You’re on your own for lunches and suppers but the town has a number of places for a good meal.”

“Thank you, Mrs. …, ” he began.

“Griffin, but you can call me Miriam”

Meanwhile, Emily had walked to the window. The street below bustled. “We passed a couple of cemeteries west of here.” She turned to face Brian and their hostess. “What can you tell us about them?”

The woman’s face went pale. “Y-you don’t want to be going to the necropolis on the south side of the road. Rumor has it, it’s frequented by spirits.”

“We do. I think my ancestors are buried there and that’s why we came. We’re researching our family tree and want to take some rubbings of the ancestral slabs and photograph them for the book we’re writing.”

“If you think you must go, go early in the day so you’re out well before dark.”

She dropped to the bed and ran her hand over the white duvet. “Tell us more. This sounds intriguing.”

“Two hundred years ago this Halloween that Emily McPherson went away. My, but your name is Emily, too, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Please go on.”

Brian sat down put his arm around Emily’s shoulders.

“The story goes a young girl lost her fiancé – an infantryman – in a dreadful accident in the first part of the war of 1812. His ship was carrying a load of dynamite and it exploded. The blast killed everyone on board.”

“What does that have to do with the churchyard?”

“Well, they say she visited his entombment every day until her disappearance and was there as always when a terrible storm blew up and folks never saw her again. A blood curdling shriek was heard over the crashing – and then nothing. Silence. The disturbance cleared as quickly as it had formed. Alarmed by the horrendous noise that came from the direction of the graveyard, some men sprang into action. When they reached the location where the poor, bereft young woman spent most of her time, she was gone. No indication of a scuffle. No suggestion someone dragged her off – just the bluish phosphorescence surrounding the headstone. From that night on, no one had ever set foot in that corner. You understand why it is imperative you’re out of there before dark.”

“What a tragic, yet romantic tale. We must find that grave.” Her eyes sparkled.

“We will but in the morning. Today, we scope out the town.” Brian stood and helped her up from the bed. “Thanks for sharing that. Em, here, well she’s a pushover for a burial ground and a love story.”

***

Outside, Emily wrapped her arms around Brian’s waist. “I wish we didn’t have to wait.”

“Come on. If anything untoward is going to happen there, it will be tomorrow on the actual day. Not today.”

“I suppose you’re right,” she muttered.

Brian took her hand and they walked tothe town’s centre, stopping first at the local repository where the genealogical society housed its archives.

Emily scanned the floor to ceiling shelves lined with books, binders, maps and the society’s own publications. If the young woman’s exodus were such a big deal, then there had to be something written about it. She discovered a notebook of newspaper clippings dating back to the commencement of 1812, sat down at one of the tables and flipped through it. Emily ferreted out the piece about the detonation and couldn’t believe how much detail the press included on the crews’ injuries. Still, she removed a page and made a photocopy. A few pages later, she found the other including a photo of the alleged sinister chamber. haunted headstoneWhile she perused those, he busied himself with the old charts. Two older women came down the stairs as she photocopied the article. They spoke in hushed tones about the anniversary of the McPherson girl’s departure. Armed with the information she wanted, Emily and Brian left the museum and went to a nearby pub for lunch. Over a pint and burger, they shared their findings.

“According to the one, Emily’s engagement occurred on June 1st and her fiancé died the second,” she said, taking a sip of beer.

The longer they stayed, the more uncomfortable Emily became. The people pointed and stared at her, like they were comparing her to the long-since missing girl. “Let’s leave. These people are creeping me out.”

“If you want.” Brian picked up his glass and draining the last of it.

After exiting, they wandered in and out of some of the more eclectic stores on the main street. In a second-hand shop, Emily bought a cherry amber pendant. Another young couple entered, talking about the city of the dead as she fastened the clasp.

“They say that tomb is haunted.”

“Yeah, I know. Even in the daylight people don’t go near it.”

On their return to the B&B, she emptied the contents of her backpack on the bed ensuring she had everything she needed for their trek. Camera, extra batteries, blank newsprint, and charcoal sticks in a baggie. She added the photocopies to the essentials and repacked her bag.

***

The next morning, Miriam begged them to reconsider visiting the ossuary. “It’s just all the talk about how the unfortunate girl vanished and this being the bicentenary,” she moaned, wringing her hands.

“We’re leaving as soon as we’re finished eating so will be back long before it gets dark,” Brian reassured her. “If it makes you feel better, we’ll stop here before we go to supper.”

Emily slipped on her leather riding gloves and heaved her pack on her back. “Don’t worry. We’ll be back late this afternoon.” Hesitating by the front door, she turned back. “Bye. We’ll see you later,” she called cheerily as they exited.

It took about five minutes to reach the cemetery’s entrance. After dismounting, they walked their cycles down the winding road and parked them against a bench near the river. She took her Canon out and shot a few wide angle shots of the area for comparison later on.

Since they hadn’t gotten away as timely as they would have liked, Emily decided they should split up so they could cover twice as much territory. She gave Brian some of the sheets of printing paper and a couple of the anthracite crayons. He had a point and shoot Kodak so could take pictures as well as rubbings.

A row of white tombstones, beginning with two substantial memorials followed by some smaller, all of the same design, caught Emily’s eye and she walked to them. It appeared to be parents, and their ten children. She carefully photographed each one planning on looking into the family at a later date. Emily glanced over her shoulder. Brian had worked his way out to an earlier section adjacent to the highway.

Walking along the narrow road, she spotted a flight of stone steps leading to a spot sheltered by trees. As she climbed them, she noticed a small marker next to a bathtub-like sarcophagus. Up on the rock about four feet higher than the terrain where she stood, a solitary tribute occupied the plot. Emily pulled the copied articles out of her holdall. This matched the one in the copy. The thick canopy of poplar, pine, and maple trees kept the space in darkness even at his time of day. A gust of wind rustled through the treetops overhead and a leaf fluttered to the ground, landing on the covering of brightly colored autumn leaves. What was once a stately oak stood guard over the site; its trunk and remaining branch denuded of bark and pocked with woodpecker holes.

haunted headstoneUp close, the tombstone didn’t look menacing. Emily walked around it, feeling its roughness under her fingertips, and read the epitaph. It told the sad tale of a young man who expired away tragically in a ship’s explosion. She took a picture of the wording.

“Brian, come quick.” She turned and swung her arms to get his attention. “I think this is the monument.”

He lifted his head and waved back but made no attempt to approach.

When he didn’t respond a second time to her calls, she scampered off the crag, pausing to take more photos then ran to him, stumbling over the uneven ground. Breathless when she reached Brian, Emily found it difficult to tell him she had identified the cenotaph of the young soldier.

“You’ll remember where it was? I’d like to get some rubbings of the ones in this precinct. Let me finish up here and we’ll head over.” He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead.

Another one with a worn but interesting inscription soon held their interest. They were engrossed with it – Emily with her digital SLR and Brian with the paper and carbon. They were so preoccupied they didn’t notice the skies darkening.

haunted headstoneNot wanting to leave without a final visit to the shrine, she ran off towards it, with him following. It was dusk when they reached it. They drew nearer and the hairs on the back of Emily’s neck stood on end.

Suddenly, the sky turned black. The intensity of the city’s streetlights no longer visible. Emily couldn’t see him, yet they were only arms’ length apart. A brilliant flash of lightning and a simultaneous, deafening clap of thunder frightened her and she screamed. The pungent smell of ozone filled the air. The tall masterpiece now bathed in that ominous cerulean glow, made her entire body tingle.

***

The next day, when the owner of the B&B raised the alarm after they had failed to come back the night before, a search party went to the funerary grounds to look for them. Just as it was when Emily McPherson disappeared all those years ago, there were no signs of a struggle, no trace of the couple at all. At the stone’s base, one of the rescuers found a necklace – the same one the young woman was last seen wearing when she and her partner left for the cemetery. On the back was a message which read, ‘to my Emily June 1st, 1812. All my love B.W.’. The searchers looked at each other incredulously, then at the gravestone. B.W. – Brian Wolfe. Were these two people the ghosts of Emily and Brian?

*****

And here is the row of headstones belonging to the family near the haunted one on the hill.

haunted headstone

Strange phenomena? Coincidence? Or were Brian and Emily really the ghosts of the couple from long ago?

Cole’s Notes ~ a #short #story

Originally, Cole’s Notes were student guides to books in Canada. Their distinctive black and yellow striped covers stood out on the shelves and covered everyone from the works of William Shakespeare, to George Orwell, Harper Lee, JD Salinger on the literature side to guides to French, Spanish, using a slide rule, and Economics.

This version of Cole’s Notes is a bit different. Have a read…

Cole's Notes

Cole’s Notes

Cole pulled the heavy, oak door closed behind him. Gunmetal grey clouds gathered in the sky. A storm approached. An icy blast picked up the fallen, dried leaves and swirled them into the air. Not yet the middle of October, but the weather had been unseasonably cold this autumn. The hot, dry summer now a distant memory.

After he put up the hood of the fleece he wore beneath his worn, bomber jacket, Cole cupped his hands and blew to warm them. After, he zipped up his coat, shoved his fists into his front jeans pockets, and jogged down the steps.

At the intersection of Union Street and Bon Accord Terrace, the damp wind from the North Sea hit him like he walked into a granite wall. The tall buildings concentrated the gale and he pressed through the headwind. Would the storm hold off until he reached Starbucks? To beat the fast moving inclement weather, he quickened his pace.

A few steps short of his destination, the skies opened and the deluge began. Beneath the sheltered entrance, Cole yanked his wet hood down and shook his jacket, sending out a spray of droplets.

The queue formed in front of the counter and snaked through the shelving units. The narrow corridor between displays stocked with bags of coffee, ground and beans, mugs and travel cups, made him claustrophobic and he fidgeted while he waited his turn. Sweat gathered around his collar. At least the stools near the entrance remained vacant. The one at the end on the right he considered ‘his’. A cold trickle ran down his back as he counted the people ahead of him. No one could sit in his place.

“First, please,” the female clerk announced.

Not realizing she meant him, he twisted from one side to the other, and shuffled to the service desk.

“Your usual, Cole?”

Embarrassed, he cast his eyes towards his scruffy shoes and nodded. Jeannie was attractive and friendly. Sometimes if she had a moment when she wiped off the bar at the large, plate glass where he always sat, she spoke to him. His shyness prevented him from saying much in response, other than please, thank you and keep the change.

“Go get your place by the window and I’ll bring your drink over.”

Only one seat remained along the high counter-his favorite one. “Th-thank you.” He turned, mumbled and walked away.

A few minutes later, Jeannie placed his steaming hot, latte in front of him. “Enjoy, Cole.”

Her big, blue eyes sparkled like the sun on the North Sea. Her teeth were perfectly straight and white. Save for a single dark mole high on her cheekbone about an inch below her right eye, she had a flawless complexion. The beauty mark gave her an air of mystery and glamour. Still, she complained to co-workers and female customers about having surgery to remove the blemish. The discolouration made her unique.

If only he could work up the nerve to ask her out on a date so he could see the full length of her tresses. Unable to imagine her appearance with her hair falling around her face and possibly past her shoulders, he thanked her for the service.

After Jeannie left, Cole removed his grotty, black leather bound notebook from his inside breast pocket. The moleskin fell open to the page marked by a shabby, blue silk ribbon. People walked by the coffee shop, some carried umbrellas, others sheltered themselves from the rain under their briefcases or newspapers.

Next, Cole pulled out his Bic pens-red, black, and blue-and lined them up in precise military fashion on the worktop. After some deliberation, he chose the blue one, removed the cap, stuck it on the plug end, and chewed before putting pen to paper. Soon the ink flowed, and he worked furiously pausing briefly to sip his latte.

While she cleared away plates, mugs, and napkins from the vacancies left from the other customers along the counter, Jeannie asked, “What are you writing?”

Cole slammed his journal closed. The book belonged to him. For his eyes and no one else’s. Only he could read the words on those pages. “N-nothing.”

“You can tell me,” she said as she slid on the stool next to him. “I won’t tell anyone.”

“No.” He jammed the top back on his pen, and stuffed his belongings inside his jacket before he pushed his way past her and out the door.

***

A week passed since Cole’s last drop in and his absence made Jeannie worry. Never had he been gone this long between his regular visits. A family visit elsewhere? Worst case scenario home sick with a cold or the flu.

Each time the door opened, she hoped to see him in the entrance. Every time someone else came in disappointment washed over her.

After closing one night when they cleaned up, her co-worker, Rick, discovered something. “Jeannie, come here.”

“What did you find?”

“Doesn’t this belong to your ‘boyfriend’, Cole?” He held a leather-bound book up in his hands. Some of the pages were beginning to fall out.

“Give me that!”

He lifted the folio higher. “What a weirdo. More than the rest of us, you should know that,” he taunted, waving the object in front of her beyond her reach.

Yelling in protest, she lunged towards him, and dislodged the jotter. The book landed on the tiles and Jeannie scrambled for it . “Now back off. What’s written in here is none of anyone’s business. I’ll drop by Cole’s place on my way home,” she said as she shoved the loose pages back inside.

“How do you know where he lives?”

“I’ll find out.” She stuffed the notebook into her apron pocket.

Later in the afternoon while on break, Jeannie pulled the worn possession out and turned it over in her hands. Beyond repair. What remained of the leather cover was brittle and cracked, so she handled the fragile item with care.

The last time she saw Cole, he fled from the coffee shop panicked because of her question. Certain he returned the moleskin to his pocket, and surprised Rick found it near his stool disturbed her. The contents were personal, but she wanted to open the diary and see why the man had been so secretive.

Did he drop the cherished object on the floor? She would have chased after him if she noticed. Should she peek inside the front cover? The information she needed to take back the property might be written there. If she found his address, she would stop her search and return his diary after her shift ended. Otherwise, she would keep the prized possession in her gigantic handbag until Cole returned.

***

After some serious thought, she opened the book. Nothing to identify him written in either location, but there in pen and ink, a sketch he drew of her, hair down, stared back from the pages. Descriptive text about her surrounded the image. Jeannie – kind, beautiful, friendly were a few recorded. Now intrigued, she turned the page.

Some of the sketches she recognized as people who frequented the coffee shop and snickered at the words chosen to for them.

Cole immortalized Rick between the worn covers, too. Unable to suppress her laughter at what he thought of her co-worker, she giggled. Pompous and arsewipe were her favourite adjectives.

Another sheet turned and Jeannie regretted her action. The person portrayed was a stranger to her, but labelled ‘Mother’. The word choice shocked her… ‘bitch, dark places, locked up, men, hooker, slut, hate you.’

All she wanted was to locate the information needed to return it, but didn’t find a name, address or telephone number. Curiosity piqued by the drawings and descriptions before her, Jeannie continued.

“Thought you weren’t going to look inside?” Rick sneered.

Startled by his voice, she slammed the notebook shut and shoved it back into her apron pocket. “Only looking for his address. Hoped he would have written something down near the front.”

At the end of her shift, she placed it in her huge handbag and went home to her flat. Murphy, her ginger and white cat greeted her with a hiss and a swat to her leg.

When she tossed her purse on the small dinette table, a resounding thud echoed through the compact space. Once in the kitchen, she opened her fridge, and peered in. An open bottle of Riesling stood in the lower shelf in the door. Pulling the wine out by the neck, she pushed the door shut with her hip and turned to get a goblet from the rack affixed to her upper cabinets.

Seated at the table, she poured herself a glass, took a sip, and worried about Cole. A watch could be set by him and his predictability. Every day, the same time, the same latte, the same stool by the window. Yes, he was a bit odd but there had been customers come into Starbucks far stranger than he.

Jeannie pulled the notebook out and put it in front of her. With the palm of her hand, she rubbed the surface. In places the jacket was worn so thin, the paper backing on the inside showed through.

Opening it to the location marked by the ribbon, revealed another sketch of her but without her beauty mark. Out of habit, she reached up and touched her face. ‘must keep mole, glamorous, beautiful, not Jeannie without it’ surrounded the picture.

Until now, she didn’t realize he had such a strong opinion about her having the blemish removed and it scared her.

Was Cole some kind of control freak? Would he hurt her if she went ahead with the surgical procedure?

The words on the page made her feel dirty and cheap so Jeannie slapped the cover shut and pushed the book away. Bottle and her glass in hand, she checked the deadbolt and hooked the chain, headed for the bathroom, and secured the door behind her, too. Soon the tub was filling with hot, steamy water. A few drops of Green Apple bath and shower gel formed a sea of bubbles and floated on the rising water; the room fragrant with the fresh scent. Jeannie flipped the switch on her heated towel bar.

Whilst she waited for the water to reach the desired level, she moved her caddy towards the taps, topped up her wine glass, and placed the goblet in the specially designed holder.

Once stripped down, she climbed in, turned off the faucet, and dipped below the bubbles.

Immersed in the hot, soapy water Jeannie let her mind wander. Perhaps she worried too much about the mole on her face. It was tiny, smooth, dark and been there for as long as she remembered. No appointment was made for the procedure. Maybe she wouldn’t bother.

Her thoughts returned to the place in Cole’s diary where he had described his mother in such an unflattering way. She took a sip of wine and sank back under the surface wishing she turned up the heat in the room before getting into the bath.

***

Loud banging on her apartment door startled her. Jeannie leapt out of the water, almost knocking the caddy and glass flying. There was no time to grab one of her warmed towels so she yanked on her long, pink, fleece dressing gown.

When she reached the door, she still struggled with the tie belt.

Her cordless phone was in the base so she grabbed the handset. On the other side of the peephole, Rick stood in the corridor. What was he doing at her home at this time of night? “What’s going on?” she asked when she pulled the door open a crack with the chain still on the latch.

“Can we come in? It’s important.”

“We?”

“Yes. Let’s not stand here all night debating this.”

Jeannie removed the shackle and opened the door the rest of the way to receive Rick and whoever was with him.

“This is Dr. Baird. She’s weirdo’s shrink.”

“Psychiatrist,” the well-groomed woman corrected.

“Wh-why are you here?”

“Can we sit down?” the doctor asked.

“Yes.” She escorted them to the table, picked up Cole’s notebook, and shoved it into her handbag. As she showed her guests a chair, she tossed the leather satchel on the peninsula counter.

“I came in to coffee shop looking for you.” The physician nodded towards her. “Cole missed his last two appointments which isn’t like him. One I could see due to illness but not both.”

“Wh-what does it have to do with me?”

“During our sessions, he always spoke of you. It was apparent, he thought you were an exceptional young woman.”

Jeannie blushed.

“You’re no doubt wondering why I insisted your friend bring me here.”

“The thought has crossed my mind.” She didn’t try to hide the sarcasm in her tone.

“There’s no easy way to tell you this. Cole is dead. His body was discovered in his flat earlier today. He’s been deceased for about a week. The police contacted me when they couldn’t find any next-of-kin information. My number was by his phone.”

Jeannie’s heart pounded so hard it hurt. The time span worked out right after she asked what he wrote in his book. Initial shock passed, she wailed, “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t sat down beside him and asked what he was doing…,”

“Cole was a disturbed young man. No one could have predicted he would do this, let alone when.”

The words were of little comfort. Now the sketch started to make sense.

“It’s only in the past year he has been living in his own lodgings. After he murdered his mother when he was twelve, he was sent to a borstal. From there, he moved to a rehabilitation unit. When I deemed he was no longer a danger to anyone, we procured an apartment for him.”

Overcome by nausea, Jeannie bolted for the bathroom, hand over her mouth. Dropping to her knees in front of the toilet and threw up again and again, retching until there was nothing left. Tears ran down her cheeks. Cole was a murderer.

Not close, but she considered him a friend. Was he? Had he been sizing her up to become his next victim?

When she picked herself up off the floor, she reached for the Listerine. The reflection in the mirror had dark mascara streaks down its face. Removing the cap from the bottle, she took in a mouthful and rinsed hoping to eliminate the bitter taste.

Devoid of emotion, she rejoined her guests and dropped on one of the hard dinette chairs.

Dr. Baird took an envelope out of her handbag and slid it across the table to Jeannie. “He wanted you to have this if anything ever happened to him.” The psychiatrist turned to him. “You’ll stay here with her. She’s too upset to be here alone. I’m sorry but I must go. I’ll be in touch with the funeral arrangements. Don’t bother getting up. I’ll let myself out.”

Jeannie followed the doctor’s exit with her eyes. Her hand touched the envelope and she recoiled.

After the doctor left, she drew her knees up to her chest and planted her heels on the

chair, wrapped her arms around her legs and cried.

Rick tried to comfort her but he couldn’t. “Let’s get you into bed,” he said and helped her up from her seat. A brotherly arm enveloped her shoulders. He walked her to her bedroom, and reached for the switch.

“Don’t leave me, please, I don’t want to be alone.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I’ll get a blanket and make myself comfortable on your sofa for the night.”

Jeannie pointed to the closet and waited while he opened the bi-fold doors and pulled down a comforter from the upper shelf. She turned down her duvet and was about to untie her dressing gown when she realized she was naked under it. Instead, she climbed in with it on.

Rick stopped by her bed. “I’ll switch the light out on my way to the lounge.”

“No. Leave it on.”

“Why don’t I turn on a couple of these small lamps? They’re not as harsh and you won’t be in total darkness.” He walked around the room switching on the other lights.

“Don’t close the door, please.”

He nodded, switched the overhead light off and went into the other room.

For hours, Jeannie lay and stared at the ceiling. The information passed on by the psychiatrist about Cole unfathomable.

Dr. Baird didn’t say he killed himself but it sounded like he had.

What had she done that day in Starbucks to drive him to it? Wanting to see inside his notebook wasn’t extreme, was it?

Eventually, she fell into a restless sleep.

***

The next morning, Jeannie was up before the sun rose. Rick stayed on the sofa, snoring in ignorant bliss of her torment. While she waited for the kettle to boil, she got a mug and the instant coffee from the cupboards and the milk from the fridge.

When he groaned from the lounge, she called out to him, “Coffee’s up if you’re interested.”

When he threw the comforter off, he was clad only in his boxers and socks. His pants and shirt draped over the arm chair went unnoticed. To allow him a moment of privacy to get dressed, she turned away.

Jeannie sat down at the table. The letter remained where she left it the the previous night. The handwriting matched the style in Cole’s journal and she picked it up and examined it.

The words ‘To Jeannie at Starbucks… to be opened after my death’ spooked her and she dropped it like it scalded her.

What was so important he couldn’t tell her when he was alive?

“You not got into that yet?”

“N-no. I’m not sure I want to see what’s in it.”

“It’s got to be something vital I would think. Why else would he have left you a letter?”

“Don’t know.” She laid it down.

“Don’t be such a wuss. Open the damn thing.”

Jeannie picked up the envelope, walked the kitchen and tossed it into the wastebasket. “Can’t do it. Don’t want to do it.”

“You’re making a mistake. If that missive goes out in the rubbish, you’ll be kicking yourself in the bum from here to Sunday and back again.”

Unable to stop herself, she started to giggle. The words pompous and arse wipe from Cole’s notebook came to mind. She couldn’t look at Rick and not laugh.

It was a relief when he left for Starbucks. Alone in the flat, she could go through her normal morning routine. Cold coffee poured down the sink, she opened the cupboard door. The bin was still there but the letter was missing. Panic set in. Where did it go? Wheeling around, she found it on the peninsula work top.

This message would haunt her until she read it. Jeannie turned it over, stuck her thumb under a loose corner of the flap tore it open. She pulled the paper out of the wrapping and let the latter flutter to the floor. Carefully, she unfolded the sheet and began to read.

My dearest friend,

Jeannie,

If you’re reading this, then Dr. Baird has passed my letter on to you and you’ll know I’m dead. There are many things about me you will never comprehend. I don’t understand some of them either.

Did the doctor tell you I murdered my mother?That is true, I don’t deny it, but you deserve to know why. From the time I was a little lad, she was a prostitute. Quite often, she left me alone overnight while she went out and shagged blokes for money. Not to support me but her drug habit. Social services were always around. Every time they threatened to put me into care, she pleaded with them saying she would mend her ways and promise to be a good mum.

Her idea of that was bring her tricks back to our dingy flat. She locked me in the closet or the chest at the foot of her bed. I knew what she was doing. The men coming into the bedroom, grabbing at her and her clothes. I heard them shagging. Sometimes, those blokes would beat the crap out of her and steal what earnings and drugs she had.

What I did was wrong. In the beginning, I don’t think I meant to kill her. After I stuck the knife in her the first time, I couldn’t stop. They say I stabbed her over thirty times. Even after she died, I kept sticking the blade into her.

I think I killed her out of some misguided loyalty. If she was dead, she was off the drugs. The blokes couldn’t beat her almost to death. She got aids either from the dirty needles or from letting the johns do her bareback. Do you know what that means?

You were always kind to me, Jeannie. You never mocked me. Never tried to use my weaknesses against me. I couldn’t show you the notebook because I had drawn so many pictures of you. I didn’t want you to think I was some sort of freak or stalker. I know some of the people you worked with did. I would have been proud to step out with you on my arm. You’re a beautiful, young woman. You must have many decent blokes queuing up to take you out. I would never have stood a chance.

Don’t grieve for me. I’ve been dead inside, except when in your presence, for a long time. My topping myself was the final act. Remember, though, I appreciated the kindness and friendliness you always showed me. No matter if I’m in heaven or hell (and I don’t particularly believe in either), I love you and always will. I wished I could have told you to your face.

Cole xo

After reading the letter he left for her, she leafed through his notebook from the first to the last page used. The sketches were amazing. His talent for capturing the essence of people, as well as their features, shone through each drawing.

***

The funeral came too soon for her liking. Jeannie didn’t want to go but knew she had to. She persuaded Rick to go with her. Since the night she found out about Cole’s death, he had been there for her.

Jeannie’s hair fell loose on her shoulders. The way Cole sketched her many times.

Glad to have a friend with her, she stood bravely by the graveside with the psychiatrist and the few mourners who attended.

When it was over and the casket lowered, she leaned over the chamber and released his grotty, leather notebook into the grave.

A resounding smack on the wooden surface of the coffin echoed through the air. “Goodbye, Cole. Your notes will always be private now,” she murmured, more emotional than she expected.

Her tribute to his life and what might have been was a long-stemmed red rose. She dropped it beside the journal. It landed silently beside the man’s prized possession. She whispered, “I love you, too. I wish we could have told each other our feelings.”

She turned away and sobbing, buried her face in Rick’s chest.

 

 

 

 

June 2016 ~ Prescott (ON) Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market

June 2016

My first month at the market (not even a full month – only 3 Saturdays) was a success so I looked forward to June 2016 and what it would bring.

June 4 – our first outing with the tent we had to buy after the previous weekend when the one corner jammed… Back-up Blue I call this one. Not nearly as sturdy as “Wonderful White” but at least all 4 legs work and this one has a side panel.

June 2016

June 2016

I love the spots on this side of the market where you can drive through. The vehicle is handy and all of the totes I cart stuff to and fro in can be stowed in the trunk and out of sight rather than have them on the pavement under the table.

When the panel is on the back side of the tent, I have to lock the car because I can’t see it, but I keep my keys on one of the hooks on my bag tree so if needs must, I can get into the car as and when.

So on this Saturday, I sold 1 copy of Tim’s Magic Christmas, 1 copy of The Secret of Hillcrest House and 2 copies of A Shadow in the Past.

June 11 – This Saturday was an exercise in creative ways to keep dry. It was cloudy when we unloaded and set up (you’ll notice the panel is on the side not the back this week).

June 2016

Unfortunately, about an hour later, the rains came down.

Tables pulled further into the tent. Plastic drop sheet over the tables and books.

Then the rain stopped so the drop cloth came off – wet and dirty around the edges. If the rain didn’t start up again shortly after that. Well, I couldn’t put a wet, dirty drop cloth over the books so I moved all of them to one end of the table and hung the drop cloth from the canopy leaving a “doorway” into the tent so people could still come in and browse. It kept the books dry which was the main thing.

June 2016

Because of the bad weather there weren’t many people out and about. I had also said that I wouldn’t be there if it rained but when it wasn’t when we left the house and didn’t start until later, I was committed. At least the rain stopped when it was time to tear down and call it a day.

I sold 1 copy of The Secret of Hillcrest House but like I said, no one was out and about. Even the vendors were few and far between.

June 18 – Wonderful White was back in service this week. The parts we ordered had come in and she was reassembled. The drive-through spots were few and far between thanks to construction in the parking lot but, I managed to get a spot on the side I like. It meant unloading then moving the car and backing into the spot behind the tent but that’s a minor detail in the grand scheme of things.

I used the side panel from “Backup Blue” and put it silver side in and tried a different layout with my tables. Still an L shape but a more inviting one … I think so anyway.

June 2016 IMG_1945 1280x1479

I didn’t have my hat this week so tried to stay under the canopy where it was shaded rather than out and about in the sun. My story is the bear wouldn’t give it back to me. She’s my hat rack, you see … LOL!

June 2016

When the day was over, I sold 1 copy of Tim’s Magic Christmas, 1 copy of The Secret of Hillcrest House and 1 copy of A Shadow in the Past.

June 25 – This week there was some big ‘do’ going on in the parking lot for the town of Prescott so it was a bit crowded. Still got my drive through parking space but the back end of the car shared space under the canopy. The back half of the parking lot was roped off, a huge marquis set up and stacks and stacks of tables and chairs.

There were even two porta-potties and a hand wash station but they weren’t there for the benefit of the market vendors. They were brought in for the party later. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t use them.

June 2016

Table still laid out in the inverted L this week and the panel up on the side. I brought my poster board for Hillcrest House with the cut out windows and lights but ended up having to take it down because it was just windy enough that the foam core board kept blowing over.

June 2016

Even while the market was still going on, the volunteers had arrived and started setting up tables. One by one as the vendors left, their stalls were filled with tables!

Being a stubborn sort (I hear you gasp in surprise), I decided when it was time to tear down, I was going to go as slooooooowly as possible. And so I did. Tables, chairs and another tent were set up around my stall. When everything was packed and loaded, I had to back under the tent they had set up in front of the centre court to get out of the parking lot.

When all was said and done, I sold 1 copy of The Consequences Collection, 1 copy of The Secret of Hillcrest House and 1 copy of A Shadow in the Past.

In the seven weeks that I’ve been going to the Prescott Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, these are my results…

  • 4 copies of The Consequences Collection
  • 1 copy of Tim’s Magic Christmas
  • 6 copies of The Secret of Hillcrest House

and

  • 6 copies of A Shadow in the Past

I’m looking forward to July and August to see what they will bring!

 

May 2016 at the Prescott Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market

After only having done the market once in 2015 (invited by a friend for Christmas in July), and having fun at the event, I decided to contact the “head honcho”, “grand poobah”, “big cheese” about becoming a regular this year for at least the Saturdays when I’m not already committed elsewhere or it’s not raining. Even with a canopy, books and rain don’t mix.

The first Saturday I went was the grand opening of the market for the season – May 14th.

I swear my car is like Mary Poppins’s carpet bag. You pop the trunk and more and more stuff keeps coming out – plastic totes of books and accessories, weights for the canopy legs, tables. And then there’s the canopy that rides cross-ways in the back seat along with the chairs. See why I refer to my car as a magic carpet bag?

May 14, 2016

May 14, 2016The tartan cover on the table to the left is the one hubby scored in the silent auction at the Friendly Circle Showcase in Long Sault on May 7th. It’s very pretty and if a body had to wrap up in it on a chilly morning, it would be lovely and warm. One small problem tho’ when it’s on the table and there are books and what-not on it… I’ve not quite mastered yanking a table covering out from under what’s on the surface without disturbing things… LOL!

So, on my first outing I sold 1 copy of The Secret of Hillcrest House. I only sold a single book at Christmas in July the previous year so I wasn’t disappointed. It’s fun. It’s social and selling books is a bonus. Mind you, I’d be happy making back the 2016 registration fee.

Things picked up the following Saturday – May 21st.

May 21, 2016

May 21, 2016

I didn’t get the same drive-through stall as the previous week but got the one next to it. I love these spots! They’re so handy for unloading and setting up… and tearing down at the end of the day.

People seemed glad to see I was back (and not just a flash in the pan). And more asked if I would be there all summer. By the time this event came around, I had my bluetooth debit/credit card reader. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times I’ve heard ‘if you only took debit’. I have a Square but here in Canada it’s only credit card transactions – and it saved me a few otherwise lost sales over the years.

So this second week at the market, I sold 1 copy of The Secret of Hillcrest House, 1 copy of The Consequences Collection, and 1 copy of Tim’s Magic Christmas.

In the first two weeks of being a regular vendor, I made back the cost of the annual registration. Happy girl!!!

Moving along to the last Saturday in May – May 28th.

Construction work on the light standards in the parking lot meant the loss of a minimum of 4 stalls. But as they’re on a first-come, first-serve basis, I still managed to get one of my drive-through ones.

By now the banner I had created at Vistaprint (a cross between my website header and my business card), my new bookmarks (more like the website in that my picture is on them) and my matching tartan tablecloths had arrived.

May 28, 2016

May 28, 2016

This was a good day, albeit a scorcher. My boots almost match the tablecloths. I wearing the vest bought along with the long one (mid to lower calf length) that I wore at the Long Sault event.

Sales were event better on this day. I sold 2 copies of The Consequences Collection and 2 copies of A Shadow in the Past. So I made my registration fee twice over now! Woot! And I’ve still not used my debit/credit card reader.

The only downer on the day was when we attempted to take down the canopy, the left front corner wouldn’t come down for love nor money. But with help from the vendor next to us, a screwdriver and hammer from another across the way and a Swiss army stocking stuffer, we managed to get the blasted thing down and packed into the car. Now to source just the parts we need for it. Only used 6 times and the plastic centre post cap is twisted as are some of the plastic parts in the roof braces.

Bought another one the following day – less money and comes with a side curtain. We’ll see how much better (if any) it performs. Surely, we’ll get six uses out it. The old one is currently relegated to home use where it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t want to fold down – everything we need is at hand.

Fingers crossed that all the Saturdays in June give us good weather even though we need rain desperately. Overnight and Monday to Friday are my choices, although I don’t have a lot of say in the matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2015 season has ended…

The Merrickville Christmas Craft and Concession Show marked the end of the 2015 season, well for me anyway. There could be others this weekend or next but I’m so far behind in everything, I think I’m ahead… I’m not exaggerating.

December 12th – Community Centre, Merrickville, ON

appearances

My display with multi-coloured battery operated LED lights to make it look festive.

This was my last event of the 2015 season. It’s hard to believe it’s less than two weeks before Christmas. Yikes! Where has the year gone?

It was a good day on the sales front for me starting before the official opening time of the show when I sold 1 copy of A Shadow in the Past. Before the day was finished, I added sales of 1 copy of The Consequences Collection, and 4 copies of Tim’s Magic Christmas.

I’m looking forward to the 2016 season and hope to attend even more events next year.

 

Bath time! and not in the tub

Ho Ho Ho! Yesterday was the Christmas Bazaar and Silent Auction at the Bath Public School

Bath**********

It was a great day in Bath yesterday. Cozy in the primary hall but lots of foot traffic nonetheless. Because of the width of the hall, it was difficult to get a good picture of my display. Some of the things that are visible in this photo are usually hidden by the magic of camera angles.

Bath
my display
Bath
Me with my display looking festive (?)

Another thing with it being so cozy was anything close to the edge of the table had to be constantly straightened up. But that’s a minor detail. I did get lots of compliments on my display which is always music to my ears.

So how did I do, I hear you ask. Could I have a drum roll please…

Day 1

I sold 7 copies of A Shadow in the Past and 7 copies of Tim’s Magic Christmas! One of the sales of Tim was using my Square credit card reader.

We weren’t to pack up until after 3:00 and if we did, we wouldn’t be invited back next year. I couldn’t have packed up at that time if I tried. I still had customers at 3:00. One was a young man who stood quietly in front of the table so as not to interrupt the woman who was buying a copy of A Shadow in the Past at the time. He was very polite and asked a lot of questions about writing and publishing a book and wanted to know if he could buy a copy of Tim’s Magic Christmas. This young man was in the target age group for the book (his mum was at the table beside me) so with money he got from his parents and grandparents, he bought the book which I gladly signed for him.

I’ll be back in Bath next year and I hope I run into this polite young man again. I’d love to know what he thought of Tim’s Magic Christmas.

Oh, and I even managed to stay on track writing every day for #NaNoWriMo. It was longhand and I didn’t get it typed up until this morning but I managed 316 words.

 

 

McDonalds Corners ~ Oct 25th

Today, I took part in the Annual Fall Craft Show at the McDonalds Corners Agricultural Hall. I did a show here in the spring and had fun at the event (and good sales). The battery-operated LED fairy lights put in an appearance again today and my easel and poster board (after repairs were done) showing the inspiration behind A Shadow in the Past came along, too.

McDonalds Corners
My display
McDonalds Corners
Me holding my “book babies”

BTW, this is a different red top but in the lead up to Christmas (okay it’s before Halloween), I think red is far more festive… not to mention it matches with my table cloth and tartan topper.

I love doing events like this. I meet so many interesting people. It’s great to connect with prospective customers and re-connect with those I’ve met before.

From what I’ve been told, this show is usually busy from start to finish. But the weather was gorgeous today so people probably stayed home and got outdoor chores done before the snow flies. Will it deter me from taking part in the future? No way!

By the end of the day, I sold 1 copy of The Consequences Collection.

Like I said, sales were soft but it was still a fun day… and enjoying life is what’s important.

Brinston show ~ Oct 24th

Today, I took part in the Brinston United Church fall craft show. I did this show last year and enjoyed myself, not to mention did well. Since it’s getting close to Christmas I brought my strings of battery-operated LED fairy lights with me and wound them around my displays of books.

Brinston
My display
Brinston
Me with my display
Brinston
Me with my display

I love doing events like this. I meet so many interesting people. It’s great to connect with prospective customers and re-connect with those I’ve met before.

By the end of the day, I sold 2 copies of A Shadow in the Past,  and 2 copies of Tim’s Magic Christmas. I also donated a copy of Tim as a door prize.

Tomorrow, I’m going back to McDonalds Corners where I did well in the spring.

 

Prescott, ON Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market ~ July 25, 2015

Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market ~ July 25, 2015

Prescott, ON

The canopy was brought out for the first time this year for the Prescott Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market. No time to linger over my morning coffee, checking Facebook, Triberr and my own blog stats. We had to leave the house about 6:30 in order to be there for 7:00! It’s a good thing, I live within 20 minutes of the venue.

Prescott
my display

My 6-foot table display usually looks Christmassy, or Scottish with the red table cloth and tartan topper but since this was #ChristmasinJuly, I decided to bring out three of my nutcrackers who stood guard and performed their duties admirably.

Prescott
my display

This was the first time I brought my 4-foot table to use in conjunction with the larger one so I put them together in an L-shape. Having a tartan tablecloth (had to go on a quick hunt before we left the house to find it) that almost matches the topper perfectly, that small table made a great place for two of my nutcrackers and a wonderful place to stash my boxes out of sight and still have plenty of leg room under the main table.

I sourced some funky bags (polka dot and zebra stripes for books and the lettered one for calendars – 2016 not available yet) last year in two different sizes but never had any place handy to put them. Usually they were under the table stacked on top of a box and most inconvenient. So I asked my hubby this week, if he could make me a bag tree. I told him roughly what I was thinking of and this is what he came up with.

Prescott
my bag tree

My bag tree isn’t finished yet. It will have a proper base under it and we’re going to get a ball post cap for the top. Still it worked well in its initial stages. This isn’t where it spent the day. It was in the inside corner of the “L” but this location was more photogenic.

The soldiers from Fort Wellington were there and this one was persuaded to pose for a photograph with my nutcracker whose uniform was the same colour.

Prescott
Fort Wellington soldier with my nutcracker.

There were a number of cardboard hats from the Fort at the event and my husband took my nutcracker in the red jacket over to their table and they modified a hat to fit him. If you click on the photo and zoom in, you’ll see the modified head gear. To get a better look at it, the person in front of the blue canopy in the photo is wearing one.

Networking is always a good thing and today was no different. I’m looking forward to doing something with Fort Town Treasures in the future.

If you look closely in this picture by Fort Town Treasures, you can see my bag tree standing proudly in the “L”.

 

 

 

It’s #Christmasinjuly Eve! Tomorrow, July 25th is the big day!

#Christmasinjuly!

#Christmasinjuly

Tomorrow!

I can’t wait! I’m almost as excited about #ChristmasinJuly as I was about the real Christmas in December when I was a child. What was I getting? What would Santa put under the tree? What would he put in my stocking?

 

#Christmasinjuly

July 25, 2015

 

In Prescott, Ontario in the parking lot next to the clock tower at the corner of King and Centre Streets on Saturday, July 25, 2015, The Prescott Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market presents #ChristmasInJuly!

I’ll be there with my three books and would love to sign one for you or that special someone on your Christmas list.

For the person who likes mystery and suspense with romance…

#Christmasinjuly

When a contemporary teen is transported back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.

Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head on then suffers the consequences.

When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

~~~~~~~~~~

For those who prefer short stories…

#Christmasinjuly

The Consequences Collection is an eclectic compilation of twelve stories ranging from non-fiction through creative non-fiction to pure fiction, in prose and poetry.

The story of a Scottish Home Child is based on fact and told from the child’s point of view; The Mystery Woman of Kinettles is a non-fiction article on the appearance and subsequent disappearance of a woman’s body near the Wellington County House of Industry (Poor House) in 1879 Southwestern Ontario.

Some of these stories are lighter than others, and some might even beg you to leave the lights on.

~~~~~~~~~~

And a middle grade Christmas novelette…

#Christmasinjuly

For Tim Frost, Christmas 2011 is a washout. No Santa. No presents. Nothing. His father lost his job when the mill closed and now the family is on the verge of losing their home.

A chance encounter with Nick Kringle, a modern-day Santa Claus teaches Tim that the greatest gift you receive is the gift of giving.

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Hope to see you there!