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Latest Stories

December 09, 2018
Mystery Stories Wally Smith

Body of Evidence

Crime Scene Tours Ltd. had built their business, some would say, on the basis of appealing to people’s morbid curiosity for grisly acts of murder, and Liz and Colin Stevenson therefore had no qualms at all about conducting tours around the scenes of the most…
December 02, 2018
General Stories John L. Yelavich

Aesthetic Shock

Allie is delicate and gentle, waif-like in her presence. Her luminescent smile frames an image that seems so lighthearted. A sense of reality cannot disguise my enamored, whimsical feelings. I rhapsodize her essence in my affectionate mind excursions. She…
December 02, 2018
Fantasy Stories Vidal Martinez

The Purpose of Life

The front door slowly creaks open just as I reach to touch it with my cold, stiff hand. I stand still, hesitant, wanting to walk away, but finally I peek into the house, and through the darkness of the old Victorian home is a shadow of a flickering light from…
December 02, 2018
Fantasy Stories Pat Tyrer

It's All Relative

Before I get started talking about what I did, and why I did, what I did, I need to explain that Harold was no prize. He retired from John Deere because he couldn’t get along with the guy who worked next to him on the line. Not the supervisor, mind you, but…
December 02, 2018
Crime Stories J.D.Plummer

What Goes Around Comes Around

It was 12:45AM on a Tuesday. The old TV in the corner was playing some idiotic sitcom rerun. The ball game had gone into extra innings, but had basically ended a half hour before. There was a couple sitting at the table in the corner, having wandered in…
December 01, 2018
Crime Stories Nicholas Tomsko

Special Delivery

“BE THERE IN 5 MINUTES”...Tammy hit the SEND button and tossed the cell phone. It made a thud as it bounced off of the passenger seat. She hated the feeling of things in her pockets and never used a purse. Cruising the highway during a mild September…
December 01, 2018
Fantasy Stories Marie Anderson

Epiphany

After the meeting, Leo hurried back to his office and filled his briefcase and pockets with everything that mattered. His company mug brimmed with cold coffee. He poured the coffee over his PC’s keyboard, then threw the mug at a framed portrait mounted on the…
December 01, 2018
Romance Stories James Ross

Bones

‘Park here,’ Leo said, ‘We’re early and I’d like to sit in the sunshine for a while.’ Michael parked the car in one of the empty bays and went to purchase a ticket. When he got back to the car Leo was standing by the door grinning broadly. 'See!' he said.…
December 01, 2018
Mystery Stories Virginia Revel

The Shape I'm In

“Good morning, Mr. McCord.” “Good morning Dr. Porter,” I say, inclining my head slightly in his direction. His answering nod pays tribute to my quiet self-possession. I show him no hostility, but I do not pretend he is my friend. There will be no heartiness…
December 01, 2018
General Stories Jesse McKinnell

Hi, My Name is Mark

The drug store stretched out in front of Mark like a fun house, dizzying in its array of colors and textures and smells. Racks filled with Halloween candy, masks and plastic pumpkins sat in front, requiring shoppers to battle through their compulsions before…
December 01, 2018
General Stories Roger Ley

Harley

“It’s in here,” said Martin as he unlocked the door of the old, dilapidated wooden shed. “My dad lets me use this as a garage.” The shed was sited on the edge of the golf course that his father’s family owned. They went inside. It didn’t smell too bad, and it…
December 01, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Matt King

In Formation

Honking, the geese fly overhead in a giant V as the sky reddens in the late September dawn. Tralley watches them for a moment before continuing to unload the pickup truck outside the transmission tower high on the hill. Rucker fixating on his smartphone in…

 

 

An oak tree stands, static and baked in the airless heat of August.  From the top of the field, Daniel stares at it.  His tears have dried on his cheeks, and he begins to walk slowly down the slope, drawn as always by the tall tree and the promise of whatever adventure there may be to be found.

 

The adventure is always the same, to climb up into the branches and sit, looking out into the Shropshire hills.  To think a little and not to fall, that is his adventure.

 

He can still hear his mother’s voice ringing around the cottage. Daniel knows he is a bad boy.  He knows it is wrong to climb the tree.  But he will anyway.

 

He reaches the old table that has stood against the trunk of the tree since his first ascent some two years ago.  He looks up through the leaves and squints at the sun, and then gives the table a shake, testing it as he always does before climbing.  It has become less stable this year, but it will still take his weight and serve its purpose, to act as a step, as a base camp on the route to the summit.  From there he can reach the low branches, and there will be a scuffle as his trainers scrape the bark and he pulls himself into the tree proper.  He unbuttons his blue shirt, swings it over his shoulder, and begins to climb...

 

-----------------------------------------

 

 

Now Daniel is sitting next to his mother in the waiting room.  His legs swing to and fro, not quite reaching the floor, and he shivers because it is quite cold.  He looks about for his blue shirt, sure somehow that they had bought it with them, but it is not to be seen.  His mother stares ahead, ignoring him, and fiddles with the strap of her handbag, making it squeak.  There is one other person waiting, an old lady who sits across from them, slumped in her chair, and apparently dozing.  Daniel watches the slow descent of her chin as it moves down towards her chest, momentarily pausing with every slow breath.  Her eyes are slits, maybe shut, maybe not.

 

The door opens suddenly making his mother start.  She is frightened a lot these days, not herself, and he wishes he could make her better.  She will be better soon though, she will see that he is really a good boy.  That’s why they are here.

 

A smart young nurse with a clipboard enters and smiles.

 

“Mrs Chesterton?  You can go in now.  Dr Miller is waiting for you.”

 

His mother nods, but does not get up straight away; instead she takes two deep slow breaths and rolls her shoulders.   Daniel thinks he sees the spark of tears in her eyes again and he wants to hug her, wants to make it right. The nurse waits patiently, still smiling, and as his mother slowly rises to her feet, Daniel makes the small jump to the floor and follows her across the room.  As they pass the nurse he looks up at her.  The smile has slipped away and she marks her clipboard with a pen.

 

We are ticked, Daniel thinks, and remembers school.  A tick for a good picture.  A tick for spelling.  Now a tick for standing up when asked.  No more ticks today though, he is naughty.  A bad boy, and they are here to deal with that somehow.

 

It is just as cold in Dr Miller’s office, and it smells of flowers and medicine.  His mother sits in the chair opposite the Doctor’s desk.  She perches on the edge, even though the chair is comfy and made for sitting back.  Daniel stands beside her and regards the doctor. He thinks that the doctor is a young man, but that his thick glasses make him look older.

 

“Mrs Chesterton.  Please sit back and relax.  I want to have a nice long chat about Daniel.  I hope that you will be willing to talk to me today.”

 

His mother catches her breath and glances down to her side.  Her lips move but no words come out.  She slowly eases back into the chair.

 

“Can I call you Brenda?  I’m Michael.”

 

“I..” Mother starts and falters.  “Yes Doctor.  But I told the others.  I.. I can’t.. I don’t know what to say. “

 

She lifts her right hand and Daniel thinks for a minute she is going to take him and hug him.  He wants that, but the hand drops back into her lap, lifeless.   Dr Miller – Michael – Daniel reminds himself, nods and sits back.

 

“No one is going to try and force anything from you Brenda.  The situation seems impossible for you now.  But the most.........”

 

His words become a hum, and Daniel thinks about just one of them.  ‘Situation’.  He thinks he knows what a situation is.  This situation has made his mother sad and his Dad angry.  Daniel knows he is responsible but doesn’t know how to make it right.   The doctor has finished speaking.  Daniel didn’t hear what was said, but he is listening again now.

 

The doctor rests his chin on his fingertips.

“Can you tell me what you feel now about what Daniel did?”

“Oh God I went through all this mind crap with the social.  What do want me to say?  That I told him again and again not to go into the tree and he disobeyed me?  That he was ..naughty for doing it?”

 

There.  Daniel sighs and moves closer.  She used the word.  He was a naughty boy.  What can he do to be good again?  They’re so different with him now, Mom and Dad.  He fears they don’t love him anymore.

 

Doctor shakes his head.

 

“I only want you to say what you want to.  I’m not a social worker and my only concern is for you and your husband.  Just think of some words for me.  Words that express how you feel.”

“So this is therapy is it?  Do you really think it will change the way I think about my son?”

 

Daniel doesn’t understand much of this now and wanders to the window.  He has to tip toe to see over the sill, and expects at any time to be called back to his mother’s side.  The panes are dusty and he rubs to make them clean, but he can’t.  As he screws his eyes against the sun, a large cat eases from the foliage and shakes itself.  It holds his gaze for a few seconds, its fur soft, its body relaxed but its stare brittle.  Suddenly the fur rises and it arches its back, mouth open, giving a hiss he cannot hear.  It dives back into the bushes and they settle to stillness in the sun.

 

“Daniel!”

 

His mother has called and he turns to answer, but she isn’t looking at him.  She has in fact simply said his name aloud as a reaction to something the doctor has asked or said.  He wants to be included now, wants some love.  He wants them to ask him things.  He looks from one to the other.  His mother is shaking.

 

“Do I feel what about Daniel!?”

 

His mother leaps to her feet tipping the comfy chair backwards and Doctor Miller pushes his own chair back, startled.  There is a set to his mother’s jaw that he has seen before.  There is anger to come, anger and tears.

 

“Guilty?” she screams “Oh course I’m fucking guilty.  I..I told him not to go, not to climb.  I stuck my head in a cookery book but I could still hear him messing around in the next room.”

 

She places both hands on the doctor’s desk, and her voice lowers.

 

“Then I couldn’t hear him.  I called and called.   I went out to the garden and to the meadow.  I was just in time, oh yeah.  Just in time to see him fall and hear him land.  That was it Doctor.  The end of his life and the end of mine.”

 

Then the sobs come, short and shrill, as the doctor moves around the table and the door opens to admit the anxious nurse. His mother waves the doctor away.

 

“Two hours later.  Just two hours and the ambulance had gone and all I had left of my son was a blue shirt.  A blue fucking shirt...”

 

 

---------------------------------------

 

Daniel feels different now, he feels less….there.  He knows they don’t want him in that room now, but he doesn’t feel at all bad about it.  He knows where his shirt is now, it’s safe, it’s somewhere his mother has put it.  Maybe he’ll go and look soon, but first he has to go somewhere else.  He knows he has to go to the tall tree and sit for a while in its branches, even though he feels that the tree is somewhere else, and that he has a new adventure.

 

 

Although previously published, Chris Donaldson is now a recreational writer resident in the UK. Most of his short stories contain spiritual/supernatural elements, but these themes tend to drive the story rather than be its subject. He tries to draw inspiration from small events in the world around that he can develop into something entertaining, rather than profound.

 

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