No Promises

No resolutions for 2023. If the past three years have taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. The joy of today can be quashed in a heartbeat by unanticipated, sometimes horrific reality. No, I have not abandoned my faith and Pollyanna approach to life; like you, I’ve just seen one reality-check after another in these days of Covid, inflation, RSV, flu, insane politics, wars everywhere, travel meltdowns, homelessness in ever-increasing numbers, devastating natural disasters… GASP! GASP! GASP!

What we have also seen is the generosity of one human toward another. Strength beyond imagining in people who lost homes and livelihood to fires and flood and war and more, people who, despite their own challenges, stepped in to help neighbors. We are not past the impact of devastation. Therein lies a whole other hill to climb and hopefully overcome. In the case of the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire and subsequent flood, will insurance provide the means by which loss can be recovered? How or will FEMA help or hinder? What resources are available to get reliable answers?

The onslaught of lawyers promising the moon is mind-boggling! I’m not sure lawyers are the answer. Here is the link to FEMA if you don’t already have it:

Click below to open a two-page brochure with helpful information. The timeline extends into April 2023.

Below is my end-of-the-year poem. It is intended to be hopeful and maybe a wee bit helpful as we head into 2023. And really, when you think about it, January 1 is just another day. Be at peace with yourself and others, day by day.


There is reality in today,
hope in tomorrow.
Lean into the promise,
rest in the certainty
we live one day at a time
as best we can.
Let that be enough.
Some days will be wonderful,
some make us wonder –
how will I survive and thrive?
May the darkness of doubt
flee before the rising sun of hope
always on the horizon.

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Writing: The journey continues

Hello, Writing Friends and the Merely Curious:

Write Now

My Personal Poem a Day Challenge is only in its sixth day, but I’m pleased to say, I’ve written a poem every day since May 1, after having written – along with a bunch of other writers – 30 poems in April. The May 6 poem was inspired by the aroma of cut grass and dandelions that wafted through the window as I drove home from town.

The smell of cut grass
shot color into my world
and my whole self smiled.

Being inspired in this way reminds me of the recent Dreams and Creativity seminar featuring Jan Beurskens sponsored by the Las Vegas Literary Salon. Writing inspiration comes from many experiences. Dream symbolism is something I’ve been trying to explore since the seminar, but I have yet to remember a dream after the fact.

Sight, smell and emotional response to something seen or experienced is more likely to get my brain firing with ideas.

Mary Rose Henssler, one of the Lit Salon team members, wrote a great “kick-in-the-pants” article on the Salon website. Sometimes, that’s what we need, a little jog to get our writing out of a self-created rut.

Prompts are great ways to stimulate one’s thinking. You might not even use the prompt, but it’s food for your fertile brain so you can come up with something more, something different. If you are stuck, Google ‘writing prompts’ or ‘poetry prompts’ and be ready for the deluge of websites that have tons of them.

Here are a few links to get you started:

700+ Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire You Right Now
500 Writing Prompts to Help Beat Writer’s Block
125 Of The Best Poetry Writing Prompts For Poets | Writer’s Relief
101 Poetry Prompts & Creative Ideas for Writing Poems

I know, daunting, isn’t it? But when you run through these, you see they represent a myriad of life experiences or ideas you’ve probably already had. It becomes doable to give the basic idea legs by adding your own experiences or creative thinking to the mix.

Writing is most often spurred by simply sitting down, and going at it. Writing is work. The more time you put into it, the better you get. You can spend a lot of time getting down the basics of grammar, plot development, character profiles, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad girl (or vice versa), but until you sit down and pound away at the keyboard, all that know-how will be for naught.

The greatest deterrent to writing is – I hate to say it – being afraid your work will never see the light of day, or laziness, only you can decide.

So, write, but after that – or in the process, look for outlets for your work. I have a writing friend who doesn’t believe writers should give their work away, that payment represents validation. “If you don’t value your work,” she says, “how will anyone else?” She has a point. And her next point is as important: getting published is hard work and you have to work hard at it.

Why am I writing a poem a day for 365 days? It’s writing practice, but my plan is to indie publish the best of the poems in a collection. Entrepreneurial publishing is gaining ground and I already have experience in the field. See my author page on this site. Click on the Books tab in the menu for links to the books I’ve written.

It matters not what you’re writing – fiction, nonfiction, poetry – the satisfaction you derive from creating a work from start to finish, is a reward all its own. Avoid apologizing for what you’ve written after the fact. You did it, maybe you made some errors or your work didn’t get the recognition (sales) you hoped for, let it be. Move on. Learn from your fumbles so your next project is an improvement over the last. Every new book, or article, or poem, or short story is its own creation.

There is a book on the market called Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success). I’m not recommending this book because I haven’t read it, but I like the title’s message. Write. Publish. Repeat.

What are your writing tips and tricks? What fires you up for writing. Enter your thoughts in the comments and I’ll share them in a follow-up post.

Happy Writing!

My Town – Las Vegas, NM

Eighth Street - Las Vegas, NM

So, what would you like to share about Las Vegas – NM that is? I’ve decided to be more intentional about posting information about my home town, a little community with amazing potential. In the middle of a pandemic, people stepped up to help each other, to make masks, to encourage one another, to make the most of a bad situation. Now we’re getting back to business and hopefully on the road to normal as defined post-COVID-19. I’m a one-person operation, so I rely on you to contact me if you would like your story posted here.

Here are links to articles posted so far:

The Las Vegas Economy: MSLV Initiatives Attack the Virus
Tortillas, donuts and more, Oh My!
Skillet Casting its Culinary Magic
Las Vegas NM Community Foundation
Small business, big heart: Unikat Fine Jewelry
Semilla Natural Foods, a nurturing environment

I welcome you to be a part of this series. Articles will be posted as responses to questions are received. Reserve your spot now. I’m looking forward to sharing news about you and your business, nonprofit or organization.

There is a mix of content on this site. I am, after all, a writer, so you will continue to see poetry, essays, short stories and whatever else I decide to post. If you have a Las Vegas, NM, article idea, share it with me at and I will follow up.

Please become a follower to receive updates when new content is posted. Thanks for reading, liking and sharing this post.


Day 132


Abigail rose from the tangle of blankets, wringing wet. The bedding reeked with her sweat. She staggered to the window, chilled less by a limp breeze, more by what she would see when she looked out.

The barren street mocked her.

She rubbed her thin arms and turned away from the emptiness: empty cars that would never go anywhere again; empty benches where no one sat; empty sidewalks devoid of walkers. The worst? Lack of noise. No screaming sirens, wailing babies, horns honking aggressively, people arguing, the swish of skirts and click of high heels; coughs, snorts, sneezes and wheezes. Laughter. Nothing.

Simply silence.

She grasped the handle of a pan and threw it across the room just to hear the sound as it hit the wall. It thudded unsatisfactorily and clanged unconvincingly when it hit the wooden floor.

Abigail had selected the apartment for the view out the window. The pandemic that wiped out the world population, apparently leaving her the single survivor, had driven people from the neighborhood looking for safety somewhere; anywhere. The stench of death didn’t hover here, as it did in many places she’d encountered in her search for other survivors.

She was it. There were no others, not one.

She picked the pan up from the floor and returned it to the counter, setting it down with more force than necessary, just to hear the sound.

She’d had her pick of places to settle in. The complex she’d chosen wasn’t fancy but it was well-maintained. The studio apartment was on the second floor, facing the street. The higher you went, the better the view and the more expensive the rent. That didn’t matter anymore.

Her selection of the studio apartment came down to one thing – apart from the view; it was the only apartment on the second floor facing the street that stood open. All the other doors were closed tight and locked even tighter. Whoever had lived in 227 B had left in a hurry.

In her wanderings, before arriving at 227 B, Abigail had seen a perplexing mix of evidence that humanity was crazy as hell. She had heard – when communications networks were still functioning – that as bodied piled up in make-shift morgues, people went nuts, burning, looting, killing. Entire neighborhoods were decimated by violence. If the creeping, killing virus didn’t get you, the guy next door might, probably would, and then he’d steal you blind, rape your wife, kill your kids. You gave up trying to decide who was friend or foe. Survival meant you trusted no one.

Now there was no one left. Trust was no longer an issue, was it?

Abigail had plenty of food, most of it in cans with tab-top openers. For the cans that didn’t have tab tops, she had found a manual can opener at a trashed hardware store. At first, she left money on the counter when she took something, until she ran out. By then she’d come to realize she was the only one left.


It was a recurring and unanswerable question. Everyone in the world – as far as she knew – was gone. Dead. Until she’d come to this town, this neighborhood and settled in 227 B, the stench of rotting corpses had clung to her hair, her clothes, her body. She’d left death behind and was glad to be rid of it.

In her heart she believed – hoped – there were other survivors, but where? In this town, state, country? How did she find them? In the beginning, she’d taken cars abandoned along roadways, driven them until they ran out of fuel and then commandeered another one, searching always, honking the horn, hoping someone would run into the streets to flag her down; to say, “Here! Here! I’M HERE, YOU’RE NOT ALONE!”

But it hadn’t happened.


She hadn’t given up hope.


And if she came upon someone? What then?

Trust no one. Her mother’s dying voice rang in her head during the day and haunted her dreams at night.

The apartment, at least for the moment, had running water and electricity. The appliances were electric and in working order. If she didn’t know bone crushing loneliness, she would be fine. How long everything would continue to function was something Abigail chose not to think about. She was okay for now, and now was all the mattered.

The apartment also had the advantage of being small, which suited Abigail very well. Despite knowing she was alone, she was terrified of potential unknowns that lay beyond her door. When she was in the apartment, she set the deadbolt and for insurance, lodged a chair back under the knob to prevent anyone from entering. For added protection, she kept an archery set close by. She’d found it in a sporting goods store and taught herself how to use it. It was a skill she practiced every day so it became an extension of who she was.

Abigail went out every day, bow and a quiver of arrows strapped rakishly over her shoulder. She did not walk openly in the empty streets. She skittered down back alleys, looking for anything she could use to survive. Stores of any kind that had battered down doors were fair game. She pilfered from a Walgreens, stocking up on bandages, over the counter meds, makeup (why makeup she didn’t know; she never used it), paper goods and nonperishable foods, books, magazines, batteries, anything that she could use to make her life bearable. There was also a neighborhood grocery store, not one of the chains, but well-stocked, although the fresh meats, fruits and vegetables had long ago gone bad, the bread products moldy or rock hard. She took sparingly from the freezers, hoping they would last as long as the food in them did. She stocked up on clothing that spanned the seasons, sensible shoes, practical and sturdy. She took what she could, day-by-day, stacking it up outside the apartment when she ran out of space inside 227 B.

How much would she need? She didn’t know, but she didn’t want to find out by not having enough.

Some days she would ask herself, “Why bother? Why not just roll over and die, take the still-functioning elevator to the top floor of her 24-story building and fling herself off the roof? She didn’t know why, but she was determined to survive.

Her restless night clung to her as she put on distressed jeans, found in a trashed boutique; $200 price tag, more than she’d spent on clothes in a year in the time before. She slipped a hoodie over her T-shirt and stepped into her favorite tennis shoes. It was a chilly day, early signs of fall in the air.

As she walked along, she wished she’d stayed in the apartment as she trundled her pilfered shopping cart down the alley, packed full of her finds. She hummed some half-remembered song from her youth to keep herself company.


Abigail froze.


Where was the voice coming from? Abigail darted her eyes side-to-side, not looking for the owner of the voice; she sought instead a place to hide.

Male? Female? She couldn’t tell. The voice was raspy, raw from yelling, as hers had been when she screamed and screamed the same unanswered greeting for days on end.


The voice was coming closer. Trust no one.

Abigail quaked. What was she to do? She scurried down the alley like a frightened mouse and hid behind a dumpster that had never been emptied; its sour smell stagnated by time.

Footsteps approached, the sound plodding and dreadful.

Trust no one. Abigail swallowed a gasp of fear  and squeezed her eyes shut, as if she could shut out approaching doom.

“Well, well, well. What have we here?”

Abigail swallowed a sob and opened her eyes expecting something – someone – to be leaning over her.

“Looks like somebody’s been shopping.”

Abigail dared to peek around the edge of the dumpster. A woman, if the long brown hair was an indicator. Still, it could be a man, which worried Abigail. A man would take over. Steal everything, leave her with nothing, maybe not even her life.

The figure rummaged around in the cart and pulled something from the carefully arranged stacks. A Payday. Abigail’s favorite. For one foolish second she thought to leap from her hiding place and snatch the candy bar from the intruder.

Intruder? Isn’t this what she’d hoped for, another survivor, someone to share the burden of survival with her? But she remained still.

“What do you think of that, Chloe?” The voice asked.

Definitely a woman. Who the heck was Chloe? Abigail leaned further around the edge of the dumpster to see if there was another person there. No one, just the woman eating her candy bar.

“I think we found home, Chloe. What do you think?”

Dead silence.

“I agree. Now we have more provisions to add to the store we already found. Let’s go home.”

She started pushing the cart quickly down the narrow alleyway.

Trust no one.

Abigail knew then that she’d been found, that this greedy woman was taking over her life. She wasn’t about to let that happen. She rose from her hiding place, an arrow already notched in place and let it fly just at the woman turned and fired a gun point blank at Abigail, as though she’d known all along where she was hiding.

I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at,, Amazon Author Central


The Christmas Gift

Merry ChristmasPenny was a trifle worse for the wear. Not terribly – but lovingly – shabby. Annetta held her close. This would be the last time Penny would be with her. She’d done her job; she’d protected Annetta and absorbed her tears when she was alone and afraid. Now it was time for Penny to be there for someone else, someone more alone and afraid than Annetta had ever been. Annetta still had Mom and Kit. Samantha had no one. Yes, there were grownups around her, including her mother, but they paid Samantha no mind except to order her around or tell her to get lost or… Annetta didn’t want to think what else Samantha had to run from when her mommy was too out of it to protect her.

Annetta’s mom was going to the do the hard thing, the right thing. Today she was going to take Sammy into state protective care. Annetta wasn’t sure what that was, but she knew it had to be better than the life Sammy was living now. Annetta shouldn’t have known about it, but she was an observant little girl, and a bit of a brave one. She had been the one to tell her mom of her worry about Sammy, who often came to school limping, or with bruises or burns. “From falling down,” Sammy would say. “From the stove,” she would say.” Annetta didn’t believe it.

Annetta didn’t know exactly what her mother did, but she knew her job was to protect kids.

She sat Penny on the bathroom sink and retied the bow she’d put in her yarn hair. Daddy had given Penny to Annetta the Christmas before he went to Heaven to be with Jesus. She knew in her heart that Daddy would not be mad at her for giving Penny to Samantha. She placed Penny in the shoe box, kissed her cloth face and tidied the blue gingham dress before putting the lid on the box. She wrapped it carefully and tied red ribbon around it.

“Hurry up in there,” her mom said impatiently from the hallway. “Your breakfast is on the table. You need to get a move on before it gets cold.”

Annetta opened the bathroom door, the wrapped package under her arm.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a gift, a gift for Sammy.”


“Samantha, the girl in my class I told you about.”

Her mother got that look she sometimes got when she didn’t know how to answer one of her children’s difficult questions, like, “Can Daddy see us from Heaven?”

“Christmas is tomorrow. I want you to give it to her. She will need Penny more than me.”

“Penny? You’re giving Penny away. But your dad…”

“Mom, Penny is for Sammy.”

“How did you know I would be seeing Samantha today?”

Her mother wouldn’t like what Annetta was going to say, but she couldn’t lie. “I heard you talking to Mrs. Kennedy on the phone. You said there was no other way to protect Sammy but to put her into state custody or foster care until her mother could get better.” Annetta chewed her lip. “What if she doesn’t get better? That’s why I want Sammy to have Penny. She needs someone to love. I have you and Kit; Sammy has no one.”

Annetta felt bad when she saw tears in her mother’s eyes. “Mommy, I didn’t mean to make you cry!”

“Oh, my darling child. These are not sad tears. Samantha is going to a safe place, and I have the best daughter on the planet. I’ll make sure your gift gets to your friend.”

Annetta grinned and skipped off to have her breakfast.

Kit stood in the doorway to his room looking at his mother in befuddlement.

“Mom, she loves Penny! Why would you let her give her away?”

She regarded her son in silence for a moment, thinking deeply about his question before answering.

“Because, Annetta isn’t giving away a doll, she is giving away her love. What better Christmas gift can there be?”

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Text two-step

>I know you said not to text you, but we need to talk. Meet me for lunch, Packer’s.

apple applications apps cell phone

Alice frowned. She’d never told Elise, her BFF, not to text her. What was that all about? And then she realized the phone in her hand wasn’t hers; it was Joe’s, her loving husband of twenty-five years.

A ball of ice formed in her chest. Her guts went watery.

The car behind her honked, joined like a flock of irritated geese by several others.

Alice swallowed the peach pit sized ball of alarm in her throat and accelerated through the light. Why would Elise be texting Joe? And why would they need to talk? Talk about what?

Alice was tempted to pull over and go through Joe’s text history and see if there were more messages to her husband from her long-time friend, but traffic was heavy, she was already late and she had a presentation to give at ten o’clock.

That’s what she should be thinking about, the presentation. She ran nervous fingers through her carefully arranged hair. Damn! The engagement ring from her wedding set got caught in a tangle. Driving one-handed, she tugged and tugged but could only manage to free her finger from the ring leaving it stuck in her hair. Crap, crap, crap, carp, crap!

Alice clutched the steering wheel with white-knuckled determination. Focus! This was her chance at a major promotion. She’d been working toward this for three months, since the V-P of marketing announced her plan to retire.

Maybe that’s why Joe was talking to Elise? Maybe he felt like Alice had left him out, not been paying enough attention to him? But he said he understood. He knew how important the promotion was to Alice; he’d said so many times. But did he mean it, or was it a cover for chasing after someone more attentive, more available?

The message revolved around in her head, stealing away her concentration on the upcoming presentation.

Elise and Champ were going through a nasty divorce. Maybe Elise was using Joe as a shoulder to cry on? That kinda made sense. With her all-out effort to get the V-P job, Alice hadn’t been available to Elise at a time when her friend needed her. But Elise had said she understood. “You can’t do anything but listen to me bitch,” Elise had said, when Alice apologized for being so busy. “And I’m trying to save all my rage for that asshole I was married to.” She had laughed bitterly. “Don’t worry about me. You do what you must do. You’re the right person for that job.”

Her husband and her friend were so supportive! And now this? But what was this, or was it anything at all?

Alice wrangled her car through the parking garage and pulled into a space without hitting anything or running over anyone, which was a mercy given how rattled she was. This was not a time to be distracted! Something slid against her cheek and she almost jumped out of her skin before she remembered the ring tangled in her hair. She jammed it into a clump of curls and breathed in a calming breath. She would untangle it when she reached her office.

Winded and anxious – despite using her time on the elevator to regulate her breathing and reach deep for the last shred of calm she could find – Alice stepped into the lobby of Able Analytics with a smile and cheery hello for the receptionist.

“Good morning, Alice,” Sally said, and tipped her head in that bird-like way she had. “Are you okay? You look a bit frazzled.”

Leave it to Sally to see beneath the pasted-on grin.

“I’m fine. Bit nervous about my presentation.”

“Well, you never mind about that! You have the veep job in the bag.” She winked and answered the gentle tinkle that indicated an incoming phone call.

Alice hurried to her office. “Hold my calls, Scott,” she said to her admin as she sailed by. “I want to go over my presentation one more time.”

Scott raised an eloquent eyebrow. “Are you all right? You seem a bit…”

“I’m fine!”

She fished Joe’s phone out of her handbag. “Run this up to Joe. He’s probably going nutso without it. And see if he has mine. I think we accidentally switched this morning.” She was babbling and knew it. Normally Alice didn’t ask Scott to run non-job related errands, but Joe was partner in a venture capital company that occupied a suite of offices on the top floor of the building, so it wasn’t a big deal and wouldn’t take long. She wanted to make sure her husband got his phone. He had to see the message.

Inside her office, she dumped her briefcase and purse in the middle of her desk and pulled a mirror out of a drawer.

Shesh! No wonder everyone asked if she was okay. Her face was flushed. Her hair looked like she’d been tackled by a tornado. There was a definite ‘v’ between her eyebrows that indicated she was mad, worried or thinking. She drew in a breath and relaxed her face. The ‘v’ smoothed out. Light flashed off the diamond ring caught in her hair. She began untangling it hoping she wouldn’t have to resort to scissors.

A plan had been hatching in her head. She wanted Joe to get Elise’s text message. It was the only way for her to find out what he would do. Meet her BFF – Alice stuck her finger in her mouth and made fake gagging noises – and – and what? She didn’t know, but she was for damned sure going to be there!

Right now, she had a hair emergency to resolve and a presentation to make.

Alice was a serious contender for the V-P position because of her ability to focus and perform under pressure. By ten she was ready. At ten forty-five she walked out of the meeting with a lock on her dream job, which gave her plenty of time to get ready to spy on her husband (maybe not for long), and her best friend (gag, gag).

She was in a hurry to leave, but a bit disappointed there were no well-wishers waiting in her office to toast and roast her. Everyone had been so supportive. Where were they now? She shook her head. She needed to leave anyway. The phone on her desk buzzed.

“Hunky husband on line one,” Scott said.

Damn! He would want to know the outcome of the meeting. How thoughtful. Unclenching her teeth, she picked up the phone.

“I hear celebration is in order. Congratulations!”

“Yes, well, it’s a good thing in more ways than one.” Did she sound a bit bitchy? Yeah, probably, but if she found out he was cheating on her…

“Hugs and kisses ‘til this evening. We’ll go out to celebrate!”

Sure, Joe, you bet, depending on what happens at Packer’s!

She told Scott she had an appointment she’d forgotten about and left with her gym bag over her shoulder. In the lobby, she ducked into the public restroom where she changed into workout clothes she kept at the office for those times when she actually went to the gym. Something she hadn’t done in months, so fortunately they didn’t stink. She jammed her hair under a cap and donned a pair of sunglasses. Nobody would give her a second look.

“Have a nice day, Mrs. Foster,” the security attendant said as she scurried by.

Three more people said, “Hi, Alice,” as she emerged from the building, which she managed to pretend she didn’t hear, and another said, “Have a good work out, Alice. See you at the gym!”

So much for nobody giving her a second look.

Her cellphone sang her daughter’s ringtone as she power-walked with her head down. Yes, Scott had made the switch. She had wanted to ask if Joe acted nervous or strange when the switch happened, but that would seem strange, wouldn’t it?

“Hey, beautiful girl!” she said to her daughter.

“Mom? Are you okay? You sound a bit, I don’t know, winded, like you’re running or something.”

“Oh, uh, no, no, I decided to work off my excitement with a walk. I got the job!”

“Amazing! I knew you were a shoo-in. Listen, I was wondering if we could meet for lunch. I know it’s short notice, but I was in the area and wanted to see how things went and maybe celebrate with you.”

Alice bit her lip. “Uh, well,” she stuttered. “I, mmmm, have an appointment, uh. I’m running late. We’ll talk later, okay? Bye.”

A boatload of guilt washed down on her when she broke the connection. She was the absolute worst liar!

She sped up. She had to arrive in time to get seated before noon, hopefully in a strategically located spot, a vantage point from which she could watch the door.

She arrived at eleven forty-five. Packer’s was already busy, not unusual for mid-day in an area surrounded by offices and retail shops.

She took a quick look around to see if she saw Joe or Elise, but there were too many people milling around waiting to be seated, many of them from her office. Several waved.

This wasn’t going to work. What a stupid place to have a secret meeting or to spy on people having a secret meeting.

Right. A very stupid place. If this was an assignation… a rendezvous… a romantic hook up… Aaaargh! Nothing she could think of fit. Her husband with another woman? Her BFF with her husband? It didn’t add up. What was she thinking? Noon on a workday at Packer’s was the least likely place for them to meet privately. The chances of the two being seen together was astronomically high. Then why didn’t they say anything? Why hush hush?

“How many?” the hostess asked, jerking Alice’s attention back to the moment.

“Uh, I, one.”


Alice blinked. “Miller. Sally Miller.”

Shit! What if Sally decided to come for lunch here? Worse, what if Alice didn’t get seated before Joe and Elise showed up? What if she was seated somewhere at the back where she couldn’t see anything?

Alice searched frantically for a place to wait inconspicuously. She sidled over to stand behind a spreading fichus and felt like an idiot. She should leave. Instead she sat on a cushioned bench next to a hyper toddler whose mother looked ready to fall off her seat from exhaustion. Those were the days. Alice thought back when the kids were small. Marissa three, Caleb four and baby Andrea, eight months – Andy Pandy, they called her, waiting to be seated at an Applebee’s. Alice had just wanted to go home and sleep for a week. And then suddenly, they were teenagers and didn’t need her as much. That’s when she got the part time job at Able Analytics in the public relations and marketing department.

The mom and her toddler left to be seated. Alice, head down and trying to avoid making eye contact with anyone she knew, scooted over to make room for a woman wearing spectacular Jimmy Choo’s. Hmmmm. Did they look familiar? The shoes made her ratty trainers look even more grotty. A man sat on the other side, his grey slacks sharply creased, his black brogans polished to a high shine. This was not possible. Not friggin’ possible!

She bit her lip and ducked her head lower.

“Alice Foster, party of thirty-six,” the hostess said.


The familiar scent of citrus and the unique smell of her man assailed Alice’s nostrils as Joe whispered in her ear, “Gotha!”

The tinkling laugh that was signature Elise washed over her from the Jimmy Choo’s – or at least the woman wearing them.

“We decided the only way to surprise you was to get you here under false pretenses. I knew you couldn’t ignore the possibility handsome here was seeing me behind your back.” She giggled and winked. Alice wanted to slug her. Instead, she embraced them and cried, grateful they had gone to such lengths to make her day even better. Now that she was looking up and not down, she saw all three of her children, her co-workers, people from Joe’s office, her parents, Joe’s parents and several friends. If the hostess was right, thirty-six people all gathered to celebrate her promotion.

She’d known all along that the very idea of Joe and Elise together was ridiculous. Wasn’t it? Alice slipped a possessive arm around Joe’s neck and gave him a thorough kiss, which – after a few seconds of surprise – he returned enthusiastically.

“Eeew!”Marissa said. “Save it for later!”

With that they filed into Packer’s events’ room to the sound of popping corks, laughter and Cyndi Lauper belting out Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Image: Tracy LeBlanc on

I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at,, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at Thanks for reading and sharing this post.

Works in progress

The writer

Caro Miller didn’t want anyone to question her mental health, which her mother would, if she learned her independent, successful daughter had spent the last two years with an anti-establishment, passive-aggressive creative writer, a never-published author whose piles of drivel crowded shelves, drawers and several boxes. He printed everything out, but never threw anything away.

Did she keep him around because she was afraid of being lonely, of not being loved? This thing with Wick Parker was not love. A man who loved a woman didn’t use her, tell her lies. Didn’t bring “assistants” in to type his precious works in progress. “Word processors,” Wick said. “Frees up my thinking, makes my writing more spontaneous.”

Caro had believed him, until now.

What got her attention was the skimpy panties she found under the sofa. Wick’s bizarre explanation? “Caro, love, I had to run out to the store. Maybe something weird happened when I was out.”

“Like what, Wick, some stranger came in and banged your assistant while you were gone?”

The expression of hurt on his face almost got to her. “Don’t you trust me?”

His cajoling whine was too much. Suddenly she was so angry she could hardly speak. How in hell had she allowed a culture of deceit to thrive in her home? The bitter taste of regret sickened her.

Wick, clueless as usual, went down to the pool.

Caro pulled a drawer out of the dresser. She staggered under its weight as she headed to the balcony overlooking the pool, four stories below. Wick was flirting with some girl. A light wind sent the papers she tossed over the side into a swirling spiral. The pages wafted down like leaves, falling off trees. Caro went back to get another drawer, this one full of Wick’s clothes.

This is a writing exercise from Crafty Writer in which you create a 16-line poem and a 300-word short story about something unusual seen or heard during the course of a day using 20 words based on what you heard or saw. A friend said he’d come across a link where you could see photos of people shopping in Walmart stores. It was a test of my mettle to get through the assignment (you can read the poem here). What do you think? The 20 words are: bizzare, expression, weird, mental, health, taste, mind, creative, speak, aggressive, passive, man, woman, attention, lonely, afraid, anti-establishment, angry, clueless and culture.

The Eggplant and Superman

Ms. EggplantShelby thought she was oh so original. Why would anyone else in her right mind show up at a Halloween costume party dressed as an eggplant? Yet, there she stood, long of leg, slender of arm, wearing an exact, exact duplicate of Shelby’s costume. In her mind, the second Shelby saw the other purple veggie, she dubbed the dubious duplicate Evil Eggplant.

One of Evil’s delicate hands held a glass of red wine, which she sipped through a straw while she stroked the arm of the man in front of her with the other. The costume was not designed for food consumption, as Shelby had learned when she tried to eat a chip with guacamole shortly after her arrival. And now, looking about as ridiculous as Shelby felt, there was her twin having a high old time with – unless she was very much mistaken – Shelby’s objective for the evening.

Jared Fields. Her boss in the workplace, the man of her dreams in her night time fantasies. He was dressed as Superman and had the pecs, abs and overall physique to carry it off. No padding on that bod! The fake black-rimmed retro glasses did nothing to conceal his square-jawed good looks. Clark Kent didn’t hold a candle to Jared Fields.

Evil Eggplant had him laughing at something she’d said. Shelby edged closer, hoping to be inconspicuous in the crowd of witches, goblins, ghouls, the undead, superheroes, jack-o-lanterns and miscellaneous other identifiable and unidentifiable Halloween freaks and geeks.

Jared the amateur gardener seemed quite taken with Evil Eggplant, which – of course – had been Shelby’s plan all along. Not for Evil to have him enthralled stealing Shelby’s thunder, but for Shelby’s quirky costume to captivate him with curiosity if nothing else, which she hoped would lead to something else.

With no other plan surfacing in her mind she stepped up beside Evil and accidentally bumped her wide bottom half. The result was Evil grabbing for any stabilizing body or object to keep from falling over. Superman reached for Evil just as Shelby stepped in front of him giving the appearance she was trying to help, and she was, really. Kind of. More or less. Of course she was limited in her ability to assist, given she had the same limitations that afflicted Evil, bottom heavy weight distribution and four-inch lime green high heels.

Damn! Her doppelganger had copied every aspect of her costume right down to heels, matching tights and the glittered stem sitting atop her “head” like a couture hat.

The hat now lay on the floor flattened and skewered by a buxom witch wearing ruby slippers with hooker heels.

Two ghouls and Green Lantern helped Evil up and retrieved the hat. Evil batted it away and turned on Shelby.

“You bitch! You did that on purpose!”

“Did what on purpose?” Shelby asked calmly. Inside a fuse had ignited.

“Bumped me! You did it on purpose!”

“I most certainly did not. I tried to keep you from falling down.” Calm. Calm. Calm.

“Ha! AND you stole my costume idea.”

Shelby fumed but kept her mouth shut. She now knew the identity of the real thief in the room and the knowledge pierced her heart. Caroline Hopper. Her workplace rival and after work best friend. She should have known. They relentlessly competed for everything on the job: promotions, projects, perks, benefits, raises. Was it any surprise her friend would compete for the big prize?

But Jared wasn’t a prize to be won. He was the love of Shelby’s life, or she wanted him to be. Yes, she had a wild and crazy crush on Jared, who wouldn’t? Just look at the man! But it was more than that. She admired his dedication on the job and how he spent his time away from work. They’d stood shoulder to shoulder at soup kitchens, spent frigid hours distributing blankets to the homeless on cold winter nights, and many a Saturday sorting through thrift shop donations culling the good stuff from the crap. Caroline had no time for such nonsense, as she put it. “Lazy bums need to get a job and stop being victims!”

And then there was the time Jared tricked her into going roller skating after volunteering with the women’s shelter and another time he’d convinced her to spend an afternoon working with him in the south side community garden, which turned out to be way more fun than she ever imagined it could be.

Shelby regretted all the times she had confided in her best friend about how much she admired Jared and wished he would think of her as more than an employee or as a good friend with off-the-job mutual interests. Of course she had shared the eggplant costume idea with Caroline.

Instead of responding to her friend’s accusation, Shelby turned and walked away. She could never compete with Caroline, who was more than a match for Jared in looks and business savvy, charm and wit, class and sophistication. Shelby was smart and creative so vying with Caroline on the job was a piece of cake, but in terms of physical attributes, Caroline was in a league of her own. Besides, “winning” wasn’t Shelby’s goal. She wanted Jared’s unconditional love, bells and whistles, hearts and flowers and happy ever after. And at least three kids. And a dog.

By the time she had said her thank yous and goodbyes to her hosts (as her mother taught her to do come what may), and had reached the elevator, she desperately wanted to rip off the stupid costume so she could dry the tears streaming down her face. The most important competition of her life and she was just walking away? But it wasn’t a competition, was it? If she had to fight for some guy, did she even want him for goodness sake!?

“Absolutely!” she said aloud. She whirled around just as the elevator arrived and walked right into Superman’s “S” and his strong open arms. He backed her into the elevator and as the doors closed, whispered, “You know, Shelby, eggplant is one of my least favorite vegetables, but I’ve always been kinda crazy about what’s inside this one.”

Image: with a bit of creative intervention

Short Fiction

The Music of Life

RoseI hate to dance. Period. That’s it. Today is my sister’s wedding day. She’s three years younger than I, which means I’m the spinster sister, although I’m a mere twenty-six. What does one have to do with the other? Nothing really, but it does contribute to me hiding out in the house while the bride and groom, and everyone else, twirls with abandon on the outdoor dance floor my father paid an arm and a leg to have installed just for the occasion.

My sister’s wedding.

I won’t be missed. Everyone knows I don’t like to dance. I’ve tried it, don’t get me wrong, even had dance lessons. My instructor kindly told my mother I was hopeless. If I was told to go right, I went left; if I was told to twirl, I stumbled; if I was told to dip, I dropped.

Let it be said, this put quite a damper on my social life.

A dancer I am not.

I wandered into the kitchen and dodged the caterers as I put together a small plate of food and filled a champagne flute with OJ. So much more elegant than just any old juice glass.

Flute and plate in hand, I plopped into an armchair in my dad’s home office. It was as far from the music as I could get and still be inside, away from notice.

I had helped select the menu for the dinner, so I had no problem plowing through the food on my plate. I should have gotten more, but dared not make a foray into the kitchen for another run. It would be just like my mother to be in there making sure the caterers knew what they were doing.

The froth of my dress, yes, it’s one of those too, too much in every way dresses brides force their bridesmaids to wear so we look ridiculous while she looks amazing. Fortunately for me mauve complimented my fair skin and chestnut hair. The sweetheart neckline and fitted bodice was okay. The mutton sleeves I could do without, as well as the miles and miles of silk and tulle worked into the skirt. We all looked like pudgy Swan Lake ballerinas on speed, even those of us with a slim figure.

I love you Sis, but some of your friends don’t need extra bulk around their butts and thighs. Just saying.

I jumped when the door opened. The most handsome man I have ever seen in my life stood there grinning at me.

“There you are! Joe told me to look for you in the most unlikely spot.”

“Joe?” I queried stupidly taking in the specimen before me with palpitating heart. Yeah, I know, treacly word, but my, oh my, my heart was stampeding like a herd of wild ponies.

“Yeah, Joe, your new brother-in-law. About my height, dreamy green eyes…”

He palmed the air when I raised my eyebrows at the dreamy green eyes comment. “That’s Pam’s description, not mine!”

Pam is my sister and Joe does have dreamy green eyes.

“So, come on. They’re wearing out the dance floor. Pam told me to come get you.” He put his hand out and expected me to take it. It’s the hardest thing I ever did to look at him like he was certifiable. I tucked my hands under my butt like a little kid to avoid temptation that might lead to something like dancing.

“Who are you?”

Let me see. How many witty opening gambits are there for meeting a hunk and half? Surely anything would be better than, who are you.

He gave a hokey sweeping bow, “Jake Morrison, at your service.” He straightened and that grin was back. “Joe’s friend. We grew up together.”

I did not remember Joe mentioning a Jake Morrison, and as one who poured over the guest list with razor like precision because it kept growing like weeds after a rainstorm, I knew Jake Morrison’s name was not there.

“I’m here as a surprise. I’ve been out of the country, but I had to be here for the most important day in Joey’s life.”

One, only Pam called Joe Joey, and two, had this man just read my mind?


“So, how about it. Let’s join the party.”

The music I hadn’t been able to hear, at least not very well, seemed to drift into the room. His hand hovered in front of me, palm up. Not clear exactly why I did it, I took his hand and let him help me up. I actually made it to my feet without falling on my face. As if it were meant to be, he brought me close, into a dancer’s embrace, my right hand in his left, his arm gently around my waist, and for reasons beyond my understanding, I placed my left hand on his shoulder (and a mighty fine shoulder it was) to steady myself.

“You are as beautiful as Joe said.”

I gulped. Nobody called me beautiful. Ever. Pam, well, she’s just a knockout. I’ve never minded. I’m okay, I mean my looks, don’t get me wrong, but beautiful?

He twirled me in time with the distant music, and I didn’t trip. Now that made my lips turn up in surprise, and maybe a touch of happy.

“And you have a lovely smile.”

I blushed.

“I hear you’re quite the artist, too.”

Painting, my guilty pleasure.

“How do you know about that?”

“Pam, she brags on you all the time.”

See, the thing is, my sister is my biggest fan, so I wasn’t surprised by his comment. However, my dabbling was just that, and I told him so as we dipped and swayed around Dad’s office, which seemed to have taken on dimensions I’d never realized before. Of course, when you know how to dance, and how to lead, it doesn’t really take that much space, I thought.

“What type of artist are you?”

“I just told you, I’m not an artist. It’s a hobby, that’s all.”

“You don’t think much of yourself, do you?”

Now I took offense at that statement. It’s just that I know my limitations.

“If you have limitations, you put them on yourself.”

Did I say that out loud? No, I did not.

“Let go, Anna, dance to the music of life.”

“I don’t dance.”

He grinned. “You are dancing,” he said, and spun me around, then caught me in a feather light embrace.

A slight frown marred his countenance. Abruptly he let me go and stepped back.

“Excuse me, I have to take this.” He pulled a cellphone from the pocket of his suit coat.


I fidgeted and wished we could get back to doing that thing I don’t do: dancing.

“Now!? But I’m at my friend’s wedding.”

He turned away from me and nodded his head to whatever was being said on the other end of this annoying conversation. “Yes, I know you said I shouldn’t, but…” When he was done, he slipped the phone back in his pocket and turned to me, disappointment written all over his handsome face.

“Sorry, I have to go.” He smiled with such warmth and kindness, I smiled in return, even though in my heart I suspected I would never see this man again.

“Remember what I said, Anna, dance to the music of life.”

“I don’t dance!” I yelled as he walked out and closed the door.

I sat back down in the chair and wondered what the heck just happened.

“Here you are!”

I startled awake to find my sister, wedding gown still sparkling, wrinkle free and gorgeous, leaning over me.

“I found her!” she shouted, as if I was at the North Pole.

Alex, one of Joe’s groomsmen poked his head around the door. “Can I come in?”

What was I going to say? No?

“Listen, Anna, no hiding out. I may be the star of this show, but you’re my best supporting bridesmaid. Everyone’s asking where you are.”

“I got this, Pam,” Alex said. “You better get back before Joe starts to wonder if you’ve already come to your senses and left him.”

Pam punched him in the shoulder hard enough to make him wince. My sister, in addition to being runway model beautiful, is a black belt in karate.

She left me with Alex who turned to me with a dazzling grin and put his hand out to help me up from my chair. I surreptitiously pinched myself on my underarm to be sure I wasn’t asleep and dreaming. I mean, really, what are the odds two gorgeous men would be paying attention to me when there were bevvies of beauties out on the lawn just dying for a flirt fest?

I took his hand and stood up gracefully despite my frou-frou flounces of fabric. I must have looked a bit pensive because Alex’s smile disappeared to be replaced by concern.

“You okay?”

I realized he was still holding my hand and it felt darned good. I took it back and smoothed the fabric of my dress.

“Of course. I… I was wondering what happened to Jake.”

The expression on Alex’s face could only be defined as stunned. He visibly shook himself, or maybe shuddered, and smiled a ghost of a smile.


“Morrison. Jake Morrison. What happened to him? He was…”

“How did you know Jake? Joe and Pam just got together two years ago.”


He looked at me with a mixture of bewilderment and distress. “Sorry, it was just such a surprise to hear his name after all this time.”

I knew I didn’t want to hear whatever he had to say and lifted my hand in a useless gesture to stop him.

“I thought everyone knew. Sorry to be the one to tell you. Jake died in a skiing accident three years ago.”


He looked at me and swallowed. “He would be here today, if he could. In some ways…” He glanced around and then back at me. “In some ways, I think he is. Wherever there was music, there was Jake, charming the ladies and spinning them around the dance floor.” Alex drew in a deep breath and blew it out. I sensed he, like I, was on the verge of tears. “His mantra was dance to the music of life.”

He knuckled a tear from my cheek I didn’t know was falling.

“He swore he would dance with the most beautiful girl at the party when Joe got married. He can’t be here, but would you do me the honor of allowing me to fill in for him?”

As we walked into the hallway, I looked back. I swear Jake Morrison was standing there grinning at me. I blinked, and he was gone.

I hope you enjoy this little bit of romantic fantasy. Be sure and drop by my booth (59) at People’s Faire on Saturday, Aug. 27. I’ll be selling signed copies of my books.

Short Fiction

Hope Springs Eternal (or) Opportunity Knocks

BoutiqueAllie Edwards went to the mall. She didn’t know why. It’s not like she had money to spend. She couldn’t even pay her rent, much less buy something she didn’t need that would, in the end, make her feel guilty as hell.

No job. No prospects. No skills.

One thing she did have in abundance, was hope. Life had been less than fair to Allie, but as her old grandma would say, “Get used to it Miss Allie, life’s not fair, so get over yourself.”

She figured that meant there was no point in having a pity party.

She couldn’t even be mad at Mr. Hernandez for firing her. Business was down, she was the last waitress to be hired and therefore the first to be fired. Plus, in all honesty, she wasn’t too good at the whole waitressing thing. People who ate in restaurants could be downright demanding and mean. And balancing trays loaded with food, and knowing who was supposed to get what? Harder than she ever imagined.

But the job had allowed her to move out of her grandma’s stuffy apartment and into a place of her own. The thought of losing that bit of independence was enough to make her sad, but what could she do but move back with Grams if she didn’t have money coming in?

The mall’s bright interior lifted her mood. The stores with cheerful window displays made her smile. The air conditioning cooled her skin. Tempted by the food court, she almost bought an ice cream cone, but didn’t.

She stood before the window display of Winsome, a shop that catered to women “of all ages,” a bit optimistic in her opinion. You could not be all things to all people, especially when it came to women’s clothes.

“They should rethink who they want to sell to,” she said.

“I beg your pardon?” said an older woman who was also studying the window display.

Allie didn’t know why she spoke out loud, but that was her nature, saying what she thought, speaking when she shouldn’t.

“Sorry, I was thinking out loud. I do that sometimes.”

“Please, go on. What do you not like about the display?”

“Oh, the display is fine, it’s just that ‘women of all ages’ means any woman of any age would be interested in buying any one of those items, and,” she shrugged, “that’s flat out not the case.”

“Please, go on.”

“Well, take that cardigan for instance. The color is nice; most women look good in teal, but the style, well it screams skinny and young. The pants? Can you really see that cut on any woman under twenty-five? I don’t even know what to say about the dress. If it sags on a human female the way it sags on the mannequin, no girl I know would even want to try it on.”

“My, but you do have strong opinions.”

Allie shrugged. “Gram would agree.”

“What do you do, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Allie’s skin flushed. “Nothing right now. I was a waitress for a while, but to be honest, I wasn’t much good at it.”

“Have you ever done sales?”

Allie laughed.

“Why is that funny?”

“Gram says I’m too cheeky to work with the public.”

“Being a waitress is working with the public.”

“Yeah, and remember that part about me not being good at it.”

“How would you like to work for me?”

“Excuse me?”

The woman pulled a small poster from under her arm and showed it to Allie. It read, Help Wanted, Hiring Immediately.

“This is your store?”

The woman nodded.

Allie scrunched her face in confusion. “But I’ve never worked in, well anything like this.”

“My dear, you have shown more savvy than anyone I’ve hired in the past. Let’s call it a trial run. Ninety-day probationary period. What do you say?”

Allie started to tell her why this couldn’t possibly work, but for a change, kept her mouth shut until she built up the courage to say, “Thank you, I would like that. When do I start?”

I hope you like this bit of short fiction. There will be more :). The image is from, the story is mine.