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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…

 

 

Snuggled under the covers of her bed in the pre-dawn hours of that late October morning, Annie awoke to the sound of her daddy’s cry. The painful yell and loud thud of his feet as they hit the floor echoed through the long, narrow trailer. Her heart hammered. Filled with terror, she heard the unmistakable fear in her father’s words as he bellowed, “I feel like my head’s going to explode!”

Annie’s head jerked toward the shared room next to hers where her two brothers bound out of their bunk beds, stumbling over each other to get out the door. They hustled down the hallway. She followed close on their heels.

The family now gathered in her parents’ bedroom, fear clawed at her as she watched her daddy press both hands to his temples. She felt the blood drain from her face when soft whimpers escaped his throat. Her eyes darted from Daddy to Mommy’s tear-stained face then flitted over the terrified expressions of the boys; fear hung heavy in the room. The furthest thing from anyone’s mind was that this was the morning of Annie’s ninth birthday.

* * *

Her three-year-old daughter’s face lit up at the sound of the key in the lock. Annie watched Amanda run into her daddy’s arms, noticed smiles on both their faces, watched him lift the toddler into the air and press her little face to his. Heart warmed at the special bond between a father and daughter, Annie smiled.

Two years passed. Annie watched Amanda loop her arm through her daddy’s and smile up at him as if he were the love of her life. Annie’s eyes misted.

Three years later, eight-year-old Amanda enfolded her arms around her daddy’s waist, stepped on his shoes, and swayed as he danced her around the room. A distant memory stirred in Annie. Sadness enveloped her, and her eyes brimmed.

Alone that evening she yanked a notepad out of the desk drawer, face contorted with a rage that masked deep, deep hurt. Annie put pen to paper, hand energized as angry questions flowed. It didn’t matter that the questions were to a father who’d passed away five years ago, twenty years after the five the doctor predicted. What mattered was thirty years of bottled emotions spewed forth – emotions so raw that the angry words almost ripped through the page as she asked:

After you got well, why didn’t you dance with me and twirl me around the room to the records on our stereo the way you used to? Was I somehow to blame; did I cause your illness? Did I do something wrong to make you not want to be close to me anymore? Why did you keep a physical and emotional arm’s length from me during and after your illness? Did you know that your indifference made me feel unimportant, inadequate – invisible? Did you care?


Questions asked, Annie’s writing slowed as the anger and frustration ebbed. Her brow furrowed as memories surfaced, memories of how distant her father was after he came home from his long hospital stay. Memories of how anxious he became as each October rolled around. “Why?” Annie asked into the empty room.

As if she’d finally asked the right question, the answer came to her. His illness struck on her birthday, making her a constant reminder to her father of his imminent mortality. And each time her birthday rolled around, it meant he was one year closer to dying.

Her head spun at the revelation. Hot tears stung her eyes. She stared at the blurred paper as the insight gave her compassion for the man she’d grown to resent over the years. For the first time, she saw things from her father’s perspective. Annie thought about what must have gone through his mind when he’d heard the doctor’s words: did he wonder if he’d recuperate; wonder how his family would survive if he didn’t; wonder if he’d somehow let his family down?

She grabbed a tissue and dried her eyes, washed with a sense of understanding. At long last, the heart that was broken so long ago felt at peace. Her childish fear that she was to blame for her father’s illness and the misery her family endured afterward, she knew, would no longer haunt her. Instinctively, she now understood her Daddy never meant his aloofness to hurt any of them; he’d simply been afraid – afraid to leave his family alone, afraid to die. Detachment, both in the form of emotional distance and in alcohol, made it easier for him to face the inevitable.

Annie blew her nose as she pictured his face, smiling, loving – the way it looked before that fateful morning. She remembered the music from that old stereo and how she use to put her arms around his waist, step on his shoes, and sway as he danced her around the room. She remembered whispering, “I love you, Daddy” and his smiled response, “I love you, too, sweetheart.”

She wished things hadn’t changed.

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