Saturday, 27 November 2021

Guest Author Miranda Oh.




 Hello my friends. 

Welcome to this week's post where you will meet Miranda Oh. She is sharing the good news of the third installment in her current Chin Up Tits Out series. Some words about herself. Plus, the synopsis and Prologue of Just Breathe. 

Read on. 

 

 



Chin Up Tits Out – Just Breathe

 

The third installment of the Chin Up Tits Out series reconnects you with Hadley after the devastating disappearance of her husband. Hadley takes you on a wild ride of hitting rock bottom when life throws her a few too many punches in the face, yet she somehow encourages herself to keep pushing forward, even though the next move seems impossible. This twistedly real journey embarks on how to heal and find balance when life is seemingly unfair. Hadley reels you in with humor in her darkest thoughts. It is the end of the fairy tale from a completely different perspective. Hadley embraces her tribe of loved ones, battles with her devious inner voice, drips with sarcasm, but still manages to find hope and exude love.



Book Two in the series.


 

A WEE BIT OF TELLING ON MYSELF

 

You know those moments when you tell yourself that you are totally right in your thinking, and you attempt to convince yourself, but really, truly, you know you’re wrong? The first week after Riaan left, no one could convince me that he wasn’t coming back. No one even dared. 

Honestly, after he left, no one around me could handle it either, or at least that was the way I perceived it. They took one look at me and started to cry, not believing the fact that Riaan literally walked out after everything that transpired over the last five years. I didn’t believe that he was gone, I didn’t want to. Therefore, in my mind, I was convinced our love would prevail and he would come back somehow, some way. 

I knew that I was wrong in believing that, but I couldn’t accept it, otherwise that meant I failed. How do you take marriage vows, until death do you part, fight so hard to be together, and then watch that person walk out willingly? He was still alive—we kept him alive—and I was just supposed to accept these circumstances and stop loving him? I was supposed to stop believing in a future with him? I was just supposed to give up? 

My family remained silently supportive, but despite how mad and hurt I knew everyone else was, no one could understand the inner battle of love and hate in that moment more than I did. It was like a kick to the teeth, realizing that love isn’t easy and that you can’t love someone enough to make them happy. Obviously love isn’t enough! 

Stupid Disney…I used to believe in fairy tales. 

Let me tell you, realizing all this sucked big hairy sweaty balls; at any cost, avoid those.




 

PROLOGUE

 

I awoke slowly, struggling to become aware of my surroundings. I forced my eyes open and tried focusing on a small blurry square-shaped hole in the wall as I lay in bed. I blinked a couple more times trying to get my eyes cleared of the haze and blurriness that refused to subside. As I worked to gain visual focus, a sharp pain stabbed at my right temple, causing me to squeeze my eyes shut again. 

Take a deep breath, Hadley. 

I inhaled deeply until my lungs were filled to capacity, the way they teach in yoga class. On my exhale I opened my eyes once again to the hole, the pain in my right temple refusing to subside. This time, the pain made my stomach spiral as bile crawled up my throat. Afraid of throwing up in bed, I shot up into a sitting position. 

Holy crap, Hadley…what have you done? 

My head felt like someone had a jackhammer on my temple, my stomach was turning, and I once again tried to lock my gaze on that hole in the wall. I tried to focus, but a migraine had taken away my clear vision again. I reached for the wall to make sure it was real; feeling the hole with the tips of my fingers, I forced myself to focus. It was square(ish) in shape…OMG, it was a hole from a stiletto heel, but not mine. I looked down to my left and saw a sleek, muscled naked body passed out next to me. The stark contrast of my pasty white skin next to all this black muscle jolted me back to my reality. 

Well, I guess I could cross that off my to-do list. My therapist kept telling me that at some point, I would be intimate with another man. I didn’t think it would ever happen, at least not like this, as the thought of being intimate with someone other than my husband was still raw and hurt to think about. Actually, come to think of it, what did I expect? Prince Charming on a strapping stallion carrying me off to a bed full of rose petals, romance, and chocolate-covered strawberries with champagne? I used to believe in fairy tales… WTF, guess I’m going to have to look to Disney for other wisdom. How on earth did I ever get to such a horrible place in life? 

The pain in my head was agonizing—imagine an ice pick slowly slicing deep into your temple, and then as a sick joke, being pulled back out and then pushed back in over and over again. The pain was stifling and made it hard to breathe. All I wanted to do was climb over this unconscious body, find a bathroom, and vomit without humiliating myself any further.

I struggled to maneuver and find a way to get up, attempting to very gently step over all the sleek muscle of my date from the night before. He slid his leg out to the side just as I made my tentative step over him, and I successfully planted my foot on his junk.

 

Yup, his junk. As if this couldn’t get any more awkward… Seriously, you just had to move. I land right on it, the ONE place I shouldn’t step. Honestly, I think this is the cosmic universe’s way of punishing me. Hadley, get yo’ act together! 

My date jumped up howling in pain—all that muscle and he screamed like a girl, go figure. It was high-pitched and painful to my ears, and especially to my poor sensitive head. I really couldn’t do much but hop down, gag once or twice, then full-on dry heave, as I ran out of the room hoping to find a bathroom nearby. 

Seriously, they never talk about this stuff in fairy tales. Well that wasn’t remotely graceful… I’m sure I will think this is hilarious at some point in my life…just not now. 

Once I finished hurling my guts out, I rinsed my mouth and ran my fingers through last night’s hairstyle in an attempt to make myself look less psychotic. As if that was even possible. 

With my head still aching, I look up at myself in the mirror…CUTO (chin up, tits out), Hadley, just go in, collect your shit, and find a way out of here. ASAP! Be kind, smile, and find an excuse to GTFO (get the fuck out). 

I cleaned up the bathroom a bit, took a deep breath to help compose myself, and walked back to the room with a new-found grace that sure as hell wasn’t there a couple minutes ago. There he was with all his muscles, bright-eyed, big smile, a genuinely kind human. He looked completely oblivious to my inner struggle. 

Which I managed to keep on the DL the entire time. Self-high-five moment! 

This was a bittersweet moment. It was an amazing feeling to see him look at me like he truly cared and was happy to see me, despite the “junk” incident five minutes prior. Unfortunately, the moment was fleeting; all of a sudden I felt like my mind was hovering above my body and staring down. It was like being in a bad sci-fi movie, except it had become my reality. I felt completely disconnected from him, from my body, and from my mind. Try as I may, I could no longer bring the two separate entities that I had become together. If I couldn’t connect myself and feel whole, how the hell could I connect with someone who was kind and gentle but had instantly become a complete stranger?

Imagine a big hole inside your chest. No feelings, just a vast empty hole devoid of emotion. Like seeing the world with no color, taste, or smell. Everything you thought you knew ceases to exist the way you remember it. You don’t know why, but somehow you no longer belong anywhere. 

“Hey! Sorry about earlier, you know those morning pees. Sometimes you wake up and just need to go!” I giggled shamelessly, trying not to blush too much, praying to all the higher powers that he didn’t hear my retching and mini meltdown in the bathroom. 

“No biggie, it happens, we just moved at the wrong time. I do know how you can make it up to me though,” he said, biting his bottom lip and reaching for my hips while still in bed. 

Instantaneously fear gripped me and I pulled back and met his grabby hands with mine, squeezing them tight. “Sorry, I have to get going. I promised my cousin I would go to yoga with her this morning, and I completely forgot until I woke up. I mean, I didn’t expect to end up here last night.” At this point I was blushing, which I’m sure he found flattering. I had for sure turned redder than the life-size Manchester United flag pinned up to the wall behind me.

 

He politely smiled, pulled himself up, leaned in for a kiss, and nodded in agreement. “Did you need a ride somewhere?”

I smiled and nodded, finally feeling a bit of relief at the thought of escaping, the most relief I felt since I opened my eyes that morning. 

“Alright, I’ll let you make it up to me another day then.” He rolled out of bed, squeezed my bum cheek, bit his lip, shook his head, then walked off to get his things. 

I remember when Riaan was like that with me. He would look at me with so much love that I could not help feeling adored. Having Riaan by my side gave me fearless confidence. It was a strange feeling to have another man appreciate the naturalness of my body. It was also weird as shit to have a man I didn’t really know look at my body like that in general. Goddamn, so conflicting! 

We gathered our things, and I texted my cousin Amanda to explain the situation and tell her I was getting dropped off at her house and we could still go to yoga. I also told her I needed a water bottle, yoga clothing, and the strongest pain meds she had in her cupboard. I hadn’t brought my migraine medication and was desperate for anything to help subside this throbbing pain in my head. Migraines have plagued my life lately, but as bat-shit crazyas this sounds, I couldn’t help feeling like it was some form of punishment. 

Amanda, being the amazing woman she is, met us at the door of her condo with all the yoga stuff requested in tow. God, I love this woman. 

My date winked at me, leaned in, and kissed me goodbye. 

“Goodbye, Hadley, I had a really amazing night. Let me know when I can see you again, okay?” He smiled big with his eyes while smirking slightly. 

As kind, gentle, and amazingly sexy as you are…hell no, this ain’t happening again! Hadley, you are not a masochist! Ha, um, nope. But thanks! 

I smiled wide, closed my eyes, and nodded extensively, until he pulled my face in again for one last kiss. What. The. Hell. 

His sweet sincerity was like a double-edged sword. I should have been flattered, yet this only caused me physical pain and anxiety, as I truly could not understand how someone could want to be with me. So I again closed off my heart to prevent any more pain.

 

Yes, pain is what happens when you love...

 

Book One

 

 

*For more of Hadley’s adventure visit: www.mirandaoh.com


Thank you, Miranda,  for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your writing.



Monday, 22 November 2021

A Short Story from A Box of Memories.





Welcome to the November 22nd edition of the Scribbler.

This week, you can read the first story from the best-selling collection of shorts.

A Box of Memories.



More information HERE.



Reaching the Pinnacle

 

Jeb Davis is almost out of breath. The last half a kilometer up the mountain had been at a twenty-five degree angle. And it was starting to get steeper. Mount Carleton in northern New Brunswick is not for cream puffs. He stops where the trail evens out for a meter or so near the exposed root of an enormous birch tree that has to be as old as his great grandparents would be if they were still alive. The bark on top of the root is rubbed away from countless soles. With one hand on the trunk, he stoops over to catch his breath. He adjusts his backpack with his other hand, hefting it a bit higher, and looks up the trail to check on his granddaughter. Thirty meters farther up, she is going full steam. He chuckles. It has always been so. Mindy Kane does everything at full throttle.

She doesn’t know he’s not behind her and she’s still talking. He can’t make out what she’s saying, but her voice comes back to him like vapor through the trees, a rhythm that’s part of the forest. A chorus of black-capped chickadees with their two-note song provides a natural harmony. Breathing deeply, he inhales the scent of damp, dying leaves that only autumn can bring and watches her as she hikes under yet another huge birch tree with a canopy of crooked limbs. Yellow and lime-colored leaves cling to more than half the outstretched arms. The stream of early morning light passes through the half-naked limbs, dappling her lithesome body and bulky pack. She must’ve asked a question and realized something wasn’t right when silence ensued. She stops and looks back. Jeb can see the teasing twinkle in her eyes even from this distance. She yells out, “Whatsa matter, old-timer? Can’t hack it anymore?”

He’s smiling when he scolds her.

“Watch your mouth, young lady. Respect your elders. Listen, Mindy, you said breaks every thirty minutes. We’ve been chugging up this ruddy hill for almost…”

Standing upright, he checks his watch.

“…forty-five minutes. Now get down here and give your Gramps a break.”



He looks around and sees another root growing out from the other side of the tree. It forms a knuckle about a meter and a half across, perfect for two regular sized bums. The ground is littered with fallen leaves – creating yellow and orange flooring. The sun shatters when it hits the tree, creating an inviting tumult of rays and shadows. He has to climb a small embankment about hip high, made of hard-packed dirt and smaller roots. When he finally plops on the exposed wood, he wiggles out of his pack.

Mindy drops hers, pulls a chrome water bottle out of a side pocket and jogs back down the hill. Scooting up the lip in a skip and a jump, she rounds the tree and spies the makeshift seat.

“Shuffle over there a bit, Grampy.”

Before he can reply she offers him the water.

“Ah thanks, Mindy, my mouth is as dry as the bark on one of these trees.”

Sitting, their sides touching, she leans into him as he takes a long swig.

“I’m glad you decided to do this, Gramps.”

Wiping dripping water from his chin with his forearm, he switches the bottle from his right to his left hand and gives his granddaughter a sideways hug.

“I’m so pleased you asked. It’s been a long time since just the two of us have been on an overnighter. What…maybe seven or eight years? You were at university.”

Jeb drops his arm to sit forward. He sets the water bottle on the ground, leaning against the root. Mindy huddles forward, placing her elbows on her knees. Her head is in a narrow ray of sun and she appears golden.

“Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long. That was when we went to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. That was an awesome trip.”

With her chin in her hand, she turns her head toward Jeb, her wide smile radiates happiness. Jeb is sitting similarly, elbows on his knees. They’re about the same height, so they’re eye to eye. Jeb melts under her stare; she’s looked at him that way since she was a baby. He knows her. Fine lines crinkle his temple when he scrunches his brow.

“You’re up to something, aren’t you, Mindy?”

She frowns back.

“Of course! But you have to wait until I’m ready to tell you.”

Jeb is ready to offer a guess when she cuts him off.

“Don’t even try to guess or I won’t tell you at all.”

He stares at the ground, defeated.

“Okay.”

Changing the subject as he offers her the water, he says, “So, what do you think? Another hour to the top, right around noon? We’ve been at this for almost three hours now, and it usually takes an old duff like me about four or five, but you… you’re almost running uphill.”


They both laugh at his worn-out joke. He can see she’s raring to go. He’s amazed at her stamina – always has been – but as a police officer, she has to remain fit. He deems himself in damn fine condition for his seventy-one years, but he’s no fool and knows he can’t keep up.

“You take off, Mindy. Do the home stretch like you enjoy. I’ll meet you at the campsite. After we’re set up and eat, we can do the last half a kilo to the top. I think the old forest ranger’s station is still there.”

She jumps up, brushes a couple of vagrant leaves from her behind.

“Okay. You’re sure you don’t mind?”

“I haven’t minded before. I’m good. I might stop once in a while to admire the splendor and beauty of our natural surroundings.”

She nods at his formal delivery, knowing she’s just been told that he’ll be taking his good old time. Ever since he’d seen The Lord of the Rings, he was always quoting Gandalf about how he “means to arrive when he should.” She, on the other hand, thrives on pushing herself. The solitude of the forested hillside absorbs her stress and she forgets about upholding the law. Truthfully, she doesn’t like putting the tent up with Jeb; he’s too slow. She can have it up in ten minutes on her own, whereas with him “helping” it usually takes a half hour.

“Yeah, you do that, Gramps. Watch out for killer squirrels!”

“Oh! And I have something to tell you, too! But…!”

He wags his finger at her, reminding her she knows the rest.

“You crafty old dog!”

“Don’t call me an old dog. Now get outta here.”

He turns back to the leaf-covered vista before him, where he sees the downward slope of the terrain through the thinly scattered trees. The brush is kept trimmed on each side of a narrow brook that flows on the other side of the trail. The path follows the rill for another fifty meters before it twists northeast on its way to the pinnacle. He pushes his pack out of the way, rises and turns on his seat so he can watch her go uphill. She’s already halfway to the large tree where she left her pack, at a serious strut. The way she carries herself reminds Jeb of her father; she has the same physique. Of course, that vision is from when he was younger; they haven’t seen him for twenty-five years. The lovely oval face and cinnamon-colored eyes that can be so intense are from her mother, Heather – Jeb’s daughter. The determination and grit are her own. Watching her shoulder her pack and latch the loose nylon straps, he can only think how proud he is of her.

Jeb’s mind drifts as he stands to shoulder his own pack. Thoughts of Mindy’s father trouble him even with the passing of time. He wonders where he is. The family hasn’t heard from him for such a long time. Couldn’t stay off the bottle; probably drank himself to death. As Jeb climbs down the short bank to head up the trail, he can still remember the last time he saw him.

Norton Kane was a self-employed carpenter, living in a rooming house down in the east end of Moncton. He’d work for seven or eight days and go on a bender for two or three. A highly skilled craftsman when he was sober, he was always in demand. All he owned was an old Ford truck, his tools and enough clothes to fill a medium-sized suitcase. A year earlier, Jeb’s daughter had had enough. Caring for two boys, aged six and five, and Mindy, only two, she had thrown him out for good.

Norton had stopped at Jeb’s place early one morning, a Saturday that was gray with an overcast sky. The first day of spring didn’t bode well. Norton’s knock on the door woke Jeb up. Opening the back door to admit his son-in-law, he had to step back from the reek of cheap booze. His hair and clothing were disheveled, his manner pleading and his swollen eyes filled with despair. He needed two hundred dollars. He was starting a new project on Monday, a set of stairs in a new house by the golf course, he’d pay Jeb back next week. Jeb knew he’d never see the money again, but he didn’t dislike Norton, who had started out an honorable young man. He gave him one hundred dollars and wished him an abrupt goodbye. Norton didn’t even say thanks.

Two days later, Heather got a call from an angry homeowner demanding to know where his carpenter was. The gentleman had arrived at his house late afternoon to find the work site empty. Norton’s truck was parked in the driveway, rear hatch and driver’s door open. Tools were set up in the garage, with the wide doors rolled up. Sawdust and building materials were lying about. The door to the house was open but Norton was nowhere to be found.

No one ever saw him again.

Jeb begins to speculate anew what might’ve happened to Norton when the skitter of a squirrel overhead disrupts his thoughts. He stops to look up. Standing under a large maple tree that has already shed its reddish leaves, with only a few here and there reluctant to let go, he finds it easy to watch the clever brown acrobat dart from limb to limb, chattering. Jeb soon loses sight of the critter when it darts up the trunk of a neighboring spruce tree. Turning his gaze uphill, he contemplates the sharp rise. He tugs on the straps of his pack, tightening them across his chest. Sniffing the cool air, so clear he can smell the trees, he pauses a few moments longer. Pleased with his situation, he heads out to rendezvous with his granddaughter.

Photo by Ramon Arizmendi

 

***

Eight hours later, Mindy and Jeb are sitting on a fallen log three meters from their tent complaining about their overworked muscles. Jeb is reminded of some he hasn’t used in years. A large fire crackles in front of them in a makeshift pit they made with odd-sized rocks. The surrounding trees provided the wood. A slight breeze from the north moves the sharp smoke away from them. The pleasing aroma of burning pine is therapeutic. The clear sky is black with a million pinpricks of light. It’s down to twelve degrees and both have donned heavy fleeces. The flames flicker in the dark, throwing off a welcome heat. Mindy uses a long slender sapling as a poker to prod the wood into flames. They talk about their day in gleeful rapport.

- How Jeb had bragged about his famous salami and Gouda sandwiches, which he’d made for their lunch, only to discover he’d forgotten to pack them. They’d had dry gorp and granola bars instead.

- Their astonishment when they had climbed above the tree line – nothing but gray, cracked stone the last two hundred meters – and discovered the whole valley and sister mountains to the south were visible. They both loved the sensation of height and had remained silent for many moments.

- The abandoned Ranger’s station at the very top of the mountain – a four-by-four square meter structure with a double-hip roof. Guy wires of thick twisted steel braced all four corners to solid rock. The fierce winds that streamed across the mountaintop at times would otherwise carry it away. Jeb scolding Mindy for trying to climb the structure with her exclaiming that the apex of the roof was actually the highest point in New Brunswick.



- The kettle of bald eagles that coiled about the sky on hidden thermals – updrafts created by the mountainsides – and how majestically they had soared. They had left Mindy wishing she could fly.

- The vivid orange and ovoid globes dotted with yellow patches: amanita flavocona – a poisonous mushroom they had found attached to red spruce the species favored at high elevations. Jeb showing off, telling Mindy the common name was “yellow warts.” Ugh! was Mindy’s response.

They shift into silent spheres on occasion, one pondering what the other has said. Jeb asks about her boyfriend. Is he taking the job out west? Is that what she wanted to tell him? No answer! So he talks about her experience testifying at court as a member of the RCMP’s Firearms and Tool Mark Identification Section. Her knowledge of firearms is extensive.

Jeb tells her how many of his acquaintances passed away in the last year. They argue about which team will win this year’s Stanley Cup. Even though they haven’t won a championship in her lifetime, she refuses to turn her back on the Maple Leafs. They touch briefly on the dead body she found last year. She chatted about the new Glock 19 Gen 4 handgun she purchased. Jeb told her about the marvelous young woman of sixty-eight he had met at dance classes, and asks if Mindy minds?

They both stare at the flames and become quiet. Jeb has a closed mouth smile; Mindy has a smooth brow and glad eyes. Yet they look uncannily alike.

Jeb’s stomach rumbles and he breaks from his trance.

“Time to eat, my dear. Open the wine if you don’t mind.”

He jumps up, hastens to his pack just inside the unzipped tent and removes two heavy tin foil plates – like supermarkets sell their pies in – each wrapped in a thin thermal towel. Mindy already has the wine, plastic glasses – his neon green, her’s bright pink – and the cork screw. She had taken them out when she’d unpacked her sleeping bag before dinner. With a practiced hand, she slits away the top foil, twists in the corkscrew and opens up the grape.

The coals are pushed into a heap, with two pockets shaped on top, into which the heavy tin plates fit. The coals glow with heat, manifested by pink, white and red flares. A lick of blue flame erupts around the edges, where the heat finds something solid. Jeb puts on his hiking gloves to place the plates on the fire and the heat singes the loose threads on the end. The burnt nylon stinks.

Once the homemade roasters are sizzling, with aromatic juices of garlic and butter scenting the air, Mindy says, “Oh, Gramps, those smell good. How long?”

“Probably twenty minutes. Why?”

Jeb can see her smile in the light of the flames. It couldn’t be any bigger

“I want to tell you my surprise now.”

Jeb is jubilant. He’s been thinking of every possible scenario since she informed him she wanted to tell him something earlier.

“Excellent.”

He grabs his neon green wine glass and tips it toward the wine, noticing she brought a bottle of Jacob’s Creek Select, one of his favorites.

“Good choice, young lady.”

“Yeah, I know how much you like it.”

“Must be something special.”

“Definitely.”

After filling their wineglasses, she touches the edge of her glass to his. Mimicking fine lead crystal, she chants, “Pa-tinnnnnng. Here’s to the best Grampy ever.”

Jeb blushes and clears his throat, soaking up the comfortable vibes.

“To my favorite granddaughter.”

“Hah! I’m your only granddaughter.”

“Okay then, my favorite grandchild… and don’t tell the boys I said that. I love your brothers just as much.”

Mindy winks at him and takes a sip of wine. The firelight makes the blonde highlights stand out in her short curly hair. He has a hard time seeing her as a cop.

“Well?”

Mindy balances her glass on the log beside her and reaches into her jeans pocket to withdraw a small bag the size of a book of matches. She holds it up so he can see it. It’s too dark to see it’s made of gray velvet and silk tassels as she tugs the puckered opening apart. Reaching in with two fingers, she withdraws an original Vera Wang engagement ring. The one-carat marquis diamond encased in an ornate band sparkles in the glow of the fire. She slips it on her left ring finger.


“Darrick asked me to marry him.”

Jeb can see how happy she is. He can read it in her eyes, the way they widen in delight. Jeb’s good with this turn of events. After all, Darrick’s a solid man who dotes on his granddaughter.

“And you said yes, of course.”

She happily nods her head while concentrating on her ring for a moment, the facets teasing her eyes when she turns her hand toward the firelight.

“That’s wonderful news, Mindy. I’m so happy for you. Congratulations!”

‘Thank you, Grampy”

They both stand to hug. Mindy gives him a loving squeeze. By Jeb’s reaction, she knows she’s made the right decision. He backs off and holds her at arm’s-length.

“What did your mother say?”

“I haven’t told her yet. I wanted you to be the first to know.”

“Me?”

Mindy is shy now and breaks away from her grandfather. Pointing at the roasters, she says, “I think those might be done now.”

Jeb turns to eye the sizzling platters, steam escaping from the holes he made in the tin foil with a fork.

“A little more will be okay; I cut those potatoes kind of thick. So, you didn’t plan this trip just to tell me that did you?”

“No, there’s more. C’mon, sit down again.”

She rests upon the dead tree and when Jeb sits beside her, she holds his arm close to her and leans her head on his shoulder.

“I want you to walk me down the aisle.”

Jeb stares at the embers as she tells him. His elation is complete, a pulsing sensation of love and happiness. The coals turn all bleary as he tries not to blink. His reaction confuses Mindy and she asks gently, “Well?”

Jeb can’t talk, scared he will blubber. He offers her a gentle wave, asking her for a moment. She leans forward and sees the gleam in his eyes. She knows he will say yes.

The glowing embers and tin plates fade away. In their place a little girl walks from the living room and approaches him in the kitchen. Jeb is standing with his back against the cupboard, arms crossed as he munches on an apple. Mindy stops three or four steps away. He stops chewing and looks down. She’s almost eighteen months old and only thirty-one inches tall. The face that looks up at him is a perfect oval, the eyes uncertain. Jeb can’t think of anything dearer. After a few seconds she blurts, “Panky!”

That was the first time she tried to say his name. The boys called him Gampy then because they couldn’t pronounce Grampy and that was the closest she could get. Jeb glowed with adoration, thinking nothing could make him happier.

Until the same little girl grew up.

Jeb untangles his arm and hugs her close.

“Thank you for this, Mindy. I guess I’m just about the happiest Grampy in the world right now. So… when’s the wedding?”

She replies nonchalantly, “In four weeks.”






Thank you for visiting the Scribbler. Do you have a favorite short story you would like to tell my readers about? Please leave a comment.

 


Sunday, 14 November 2021

Six Great Books – Recommendations from the Scribbler.

 Welcome to this weeks post - Book recommendations. 




But first......... 


Before we get start, I just want to say….

Thank you!

Thanks to all you fantastic visitors and readers for supporting the Scribbler – You’re the reason we exist.

I check my stats regularly and on average I have between 170-200 page views per day. Do they all stay for a while and read everything? Probably not.

Some come here via Google or Bing search and discovered it wasn’t what they were looking for and then there is – YOU.

You came here by accident and decided to stay or you came here intentionally. So Thank You, once more.

 


Here are six books I’ve had the pleasure of reading and enjoyed tremendously.


1. Amid the Splintered Trees by Heather McBriarity.



 I had the opportunity to read this novel in its early development and I was wowed by the story. It was recently launched on November 6th. This is a terrific novel by a New Brunswick author. A great follow up to McBriarity’s debut non-fiction novel – Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front. Read Heather’s interview on the Scribbler HERE.

Review by Darrell Duthie, author of the Malcolm MacPhail series: From the author of Somewhere in Flanders comes a novel of love and loss during the First World War. "Dazzling in its historical details, and written with a spare beauty, "Amid the Splintered Trees" brings to life the First World War and the impossible romance of a young man and a young woman caught up in it." 

From Goodreads: August 1914 - Emma has dreamed of becoming a doctor all her life, not an easy task for a woman. Will wants Emma as his wife, but she is worth waiting for. They both imagine a life together, a family, and a future of happiness - someday.

But suddenly, the conflict in Europe erupts into war, and they are asked to sacrifice everything. Nothing could have prepared Will for the death and devastation he faces in the muddy trenches of the Western Front. As his losses mount, he struggles to remain the man Emma knows and loves. Emma is forced to tackle her own obstacles as a woman in a man’s world of medicine, alone, without his support. From her patients to her classmates, it seems no one truly believes her capable. Just when she thinks things cannot get worse, a devastating explosion levels her city, and Emma is called to her own front line.

From the blood-soaked ground of Ypres, the Somme, and Vimy to the 1917 Halifax explosion, each of them are tested in ways they never could have imagined. Wounded in body and soul, can they find a way back to each other or will their future be destroyed by the Great War?

From the author of Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front comes a sweeping novel of love, loss, and redemption during the First World War.

Buy it HERE.




2. April on Paris Street by Anna Dowdall.



This novel is getting a lot of attention and rightly so. It’s an enjoyable read. Dowdall, a Canadian author from Montreal, is a storyteller you’ll want to add to tour book reading list. Anna has been a guest on the Scribbler – read her interview HERE. She’ll be back on December 4th.


Review by Author Denis Coupal: Author Anna Dowdall gives us a rollicking, cross-genre mystery, featuring smart and irreverent Private Investigator Ashley Smeeton, as she unwinds a bird’s nest of a case. Bubbling with quirky, funny and dangerous characters, April on Paris Street is Sex-in-the-City and Murder-She-Wrote in Paris and Montreal’s Pointe-Sainte-Charles.

From Goodreads: 49th Shelf Fall 2021 Top Ten Recommended Mystery. Your basic damsel-in-distress gig sounds perfect to private investigator Ashley Smeeton, who’s got her own personal and professional struggles in Montreal. Against the backdrop of winter Carnaval, the job first takes her to Paris where she’s drawn into an unsettling world of mirages and masks, not to mention the murderous Bortnik brothers. When she returns to Montreal, a city rife with its own unreasonable facsimiles, the case incomprehensibly picks up again. Convinced she’s being played, Ashley embarks on an even more dangerous journey into duplicity. In a world of masks behind masks, it’s hard to say where the truth lies.

Buy it HERE.



3. Death Between the Tables by Alexa Bowie.




This is Book Two in the Old Manse Mysteries by noted New Brunswick storyteller Chuck Bowie, under the pseudonym Alexa Bowie. This is Chuck’s successful venture into cozy mysteries. Like the first one, it is an entertaining story and you won’t be disappointed. Chuck has been one of our most popular guests. See one of his posts HERE


From Amazon: Book 2 in the Old Manse Mysteries cozy series. Emma Andrews, newly returned from Toronto to her small childhood town, has confirmed her ownership of a Victorian-era Manse, newly converted to an arts and culture center. While hosting a house warming for the town's dignitaries, police and fire station teams, the entire group witnesses a woman dying by poison. Or did she? Of course Emma is viewed by the police with suspicion, but the Creatives at her center: the artists, musicians and chefs all vow to keep her out of jail, or keep her well fed in her cell, at the least. But Emma, with her best friend and aunt-namesake, will get to the bottom of things, no matter what the risk.

Buy it HERE.



4. The Sister’s Tale by Beth Powning.





Powning is one of New Brunswick’s preeminent authors. Her stories are captivating and highly entertaining. I discovered Powning’s writing when I delved into The Sea Captain’s Wife – a spellbinding novel. She carries on the tradition of historical fiction with A Sister’s Tale. You WILL NOT be disappointed. The Scribbler has been most fortunate to have Beth as a guest. read her interview HERE

Review by Genevieve Graham: “The Sister’s Tale” is an impeccably written, mesmerizing tale of loss and betrayal, and of the strength required not only to find hope amid the ashes, but to rise from them. Using pain-staking and what must have been heartbreaking research, Beth Powning’s lyrical style both soothes and disturbs. I found it very difficult to put the book down. Highly recommend!

From Goodreads: With murder dominating the news, the respected wife of a New Brunswick sea captain is drawn into the case of a British home child whose bad luck has turned worse. Mortified that she must purchase the girl in a pauper auction to save her from the lechery of wealthy townsmen, Josephine Galloway finds herself suddenly the proprietor of a boarding house kept afloat by the sweat and tears of a curious and not completely compatible collection of women, including this English teenager, Flora Salford. Flora's place in her new family cannot be complete until she rescues the missing person in her life, the only one who understands the trials she has come through and fresh horrors met since they were separated years before.

Reconnecting with characters of Beth Powning's beloved The Sea Captain's Wife, The Sister's Tale is a story of women finding their way, together, through terrible circumstances they could neither predict nor avoid, but will stop at nothing to overcome.

Buy it HERE.





5. Autumn Paths – An Anthology by Nine Authors.




This has been a wonderful project by a collection of storytellers who are united through the love of writing, with an introduction by James Fisher of The Miramichi Reader. Following the same them of Autumn Paths, each story is unique in its telling and the response has been fantastic. Read the Scribbler post HERE.

Review by Author MJ LaBeff: The short stories in this collection are a mix of genres, including mystery, romance, historical, sci-fi, and adventure. They share a common theme regarding life’s paths either taken or to be taken. Don’t let the turns Autumn Paths mislead you! These snappy, well-written tales are sure to delight no matter the season.

From Goodreads: Nine writers from both sides of the Atlantic, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have created this miscellany of stories.
These tales of family, mystery, intrigue, adventure, and suspense will take you across continents, through time and space in this world and others. With a linking theme of autumn, discover new landscapes, encounter new and intriguing characters, uncover secrets and lies, and witness the resolution of old enmities.
Take the first step on this roller-coaster of an emotional journey, and you won't be disappointed.

Buy it HERE.




6. On Being Welsh by Roger Moore.





An award winning novel by a distinguished award winning New Brunswick author. I truly enjoyed this and if you haven’t read Moore’s stories or poetry, this is a good place to start. Roger has been a welcomed guest on the Scribbler several times. See his interview HERE

Review by LB Sedlacek: Stories that seem true or maybe even memoir make up this winsome and often dark turn of tales in this new offering by Moore. Each story contains stories within the story. They start off in one direction, but you won’t be far into it before it turns in a completely different way. These stories take detours. These stories take moments and turn them into heartbreak and shocking discoveries.
Moore’s writing style is tough, tense, but welcoming. His approach is straightforward leading you right into what he wants to say. These stories go right to the edge, facing each character head on.
You can savor each story in separate readings or all in one sitting. They are brilliant and taut, nicely executed. Moore blends well-directed plots into multi-layered stories. His book offers insights into the trials, pain, and often what seems to be an incomprehensible family history.

From Amazon: No doubt, here in these poems we are impressed by the ease and strength of the rhythm. Several of these poems show the passionate flight of profound imagination. The poems have poignant force of true feeling. All poems are irresistibly powerful.

Buy it HERE.



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