Friday, August 25, 2017

A Summer Story - Part 4

Good morning FFFs!
Well, it's about an hour later than I usually get this posted. But I'm on vacation. Just be glad I remembered it was Friday at all! ;)
My mom, sister, and I are spending a week at my grandparents' which has been fun. We've gone out to eat, helped clean out some things, watched several games of the Little League World Series, watched the eclipse from the driveway, and have enjoyed our time. We head back home tomorrow afternoon. Back to the business of life, of teaching, writing, publishing and planning a blog party. :)

And, since I am on vacation, I'm not going to write more here. I'll let you read the next part of this story. Enjoy!

A Good Summer
Part 4

    Off the shoes and stockings came in a flash and Kathleen sighed, “It’s cooler I’m feeling already.”
    “Come on,” shouted Patrick, racing to the barn with Kathleen and Angelina at his heels.
    Stopping in the shade, the three children began whispering.
    “Let’s see if the blanket is still in the loft,” Pat suggested.
    “Tis the pump we should check first,” Kathleen countered.
    “T’would give him more time to hide entirely,” objected Pat.
    “Tis not a long time we’d be taking to see if he’d been at the pump,” Kathleen persisted.
    Then Angelina said quietly, “How do you know it is a he? Perhaps it is a she.”
    The twins looked first at Angelina and then at each other. A girl? Neither one had thought of that. “But thieves are always men.”
    Pat gave his sister a disgusted look. “And it’s not certain you are that this one is a thief.”
    At last Kathleen ran off to check the pump while Patrick and Angelina softly entered the barn. The contrast between the brilliant world outdoors and the dusty darkness of the barn was greater than it had been the night before. Kathleen soon joined them, reporting that there was no sign of anyone having used the pump recently.
    Beckoning to the others to follow, Patrick led the way over to the ladder and climbed up. Since all three children were used to going around without their shoes in the city, the hayloft caused no problems.
    “Over here,” whispered Kathleen, pointing to where the blanket had showed the evening before.
    It was gone. They dug in the hay but found no sign of it anywhere.
    “Oh dear,” Kathleen wailed, sitting down, “tis certain we’ll never know who it was now.”
    Sitting in a dejected bunch, the children were silent until Angelina suddenly turned around, her dark eyes scanning the farther side of the hay loft. She didn’t see anything, but she again felt as though she was being watched. “Come along,” she breathed, her eyes wide and half frightened.
    Wonderingly, the twins followed her down the ladder, out of the barn and across the grass until they were under the sheltering branches of a tree. There they stopped breathless and Angelina shivered.
    “Why did we come out here?” demanded Patrick panting from the run.
    “Aye,” Kathleen echoed.
    “Someone else was in the barn,” Angelina gasped.
    “Did you see him?”
    Angelina shook her head. “I felt the eyes on me. He or she was on the other side of the loft.”
    The twins looked at each other. Then all three children looked back at the barn. Who was hiding in the barn and why?
    It was Patrick who broke the silence. “It’s hungry he must be living out there.”
    “If we could only feed him . . .” Angelina sighed. She couldn’t help feeling pity for this stranger who had to live in a barn loft, hiding away from others.
    “Ah, tis a grand idea entirely! I’ll run and ask Aunt for some cookies.”
    “Kath,” Pat caught her arm before she raced away, “don’t tell her.”
    “I won’t,” she promised and dashed off.
    Soon she was back with a hand full of cookies and the three children ran back to the barn. Slowly, looking about everywhere, they entered. Cautiously they climbed up the ladder and all felt relief when nothing looked changed. Patrick pulled out a clean handkerchief from his pocket and on it they placed the cookies and Pat said, “I hope this tells him or her that we want to be friends.”
    Then, as though their own actions had frightened them, they clambered down the ladder quickly and rushed out of the barn as though afraid the mysterious person was chasing them. Nor did they stop running until safely under the sheltering arms of the tree.

    Not one of the children ventured back to the barn until after supper when Uncle was ready to do chores. Angelina, more timid than the twins, again remained behind and helped wash the dishes. It was rather late when the chores were finished and Aunt Nancy sent the children off to bed.
    After they had been tucked in and Mrs. Cutlass had gone back downstairs, Patrick again tiptoed to the girls’ room.
    “Come quickly, Pat,” Kathleen beckoned. “We must tell Lina the new clue.”
    Sitting on Kathleen’s bed, the twins told Angelina about finding the cookies gone and the handkerchief folded neatly.
    “I only had time to shove it in my pocket before Uncle came up.”
    “Aye, it was a narrow escape just,” his twin sighed.
    “What Kath doesn’t know,” Patrick went on quietly, “is the note in the handkerchief.”
    “A note!” exclaimed Kathleen, but her brother slapped his hand over her mouth and glanced towards the door.
    Angelina hugged her knees and everyone sat still. Had anyone heard them? At last, after several minutes of waiting, they were satisfied that Kathleen’s involuntary exclamation had gone unnoticed.
    “What did the note say?” Angelina whispered.
    “It said, ‘Thank you’.”
    “Nothing else?”
    Patrick shook his head. “That was it entirely.”
    None of the children could decide what to make of the note and after praying once again for the stranger, Patrick returned to his own room and all fell asleep quickly.

Who do you think wrote the note?
Would you have fed the mysterious person?
Did you get to see the eclipse at all?

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Good Summer - Part 3

Hello, Faithful Friday Fiction Fans!
Even if you don't read it on Friday. :) I hope you are having a good week. I'm having a disappearing week. You know, the kind that starts out with a relaxed Sunday, you go to bed, and then suddenly it's Friday. I think there were some days in-between that, but it sure feels like I'm missing several days.

Right now the windows are open and the sun is up in the east. The birds are pretty quiet except for a Bluejay. I saw a squirrel in a tree, but not the "baby boing boing" as my 2 1/2 year old niece, Ti-K calls rabbits. :) I think it's supposed to get warm again, so we'll enjoy the open windows while we can.

I got "Finding Joy" corrected! Now I have to divide it into chapters, print it and take it to a test/beta reader on Sunday. I'm hoping to be publishing it some time in October with a blog tour, so if you have a blog and want to be a part of this new release, leave a comment, or sent me an email and I'll put you on the list.
Speaking of releasing new books, I'm hoping to release "Dylan's Story" next month. If it doesn't get released then, I might do a double release with both "Dylan's Story" and "Finding Joy." What do you think? Should I release them separately or together?
And I still need to get my Christmas stories finished. I seem to work on them here and there with days or even a full week between times. I have made progress, but it's just rather slow. I did get the synopses written for the rest of the stories I am publishing this year, so that's good. That means I can do the covers. These are going to be so much fun to release! I love Christmas stories!

Okay, okay, I'll let you get back to this mystery, and I'll get on to other things. Happy reading!

A Good Summer
Part 3

    Patrick, Kathleen and Angelina scampered and soon Aunt Nan came up, and after listening to prayers, kissed each one and tucked them in saying, “God bless you and keep you safe through the night. Sweet dreams.”
    After she had gone downstairs, Kathleen bounced up in bed. “Lina,” she whispered, “isn’t it such a quiet as you’ve never heard?”
    “And tis still light outside.”
    Angelina sat up. A rosy gleam from the setting sun seemed to make their pink room glow with a soft light. “It is so pretty here,” she breathed.
    “Yes,” Kathleen agreed, “but you remember that pump?”
    Angelina nodded but didn’t reply as a step outside their room was heard, the door softly opened and Patrick’s red head looked in.
    “Sure tis you’re wanting to talk about the mystery too,” Kathleen whispered and motioned to her bed.
    Patrick tiptoed across and perched on his sister’s bed. “Sure,” he replied softly, “tis a mystery for us all.”
    “When Pat and I went up in the loft, we saw a bit of a blanket in a corner, like it was thought to be hiding just, but—”
    “I asked Uncle all he keeps up there and he said hay,” Patrick finished.
    Sitting in bed with her arms clasped about the sheet around her knees, Angelina listened with wide eyes.
    “What do you think of it, Lina?”
    For a moment the girl was quiet, then in a whisper so soft that the twins crept closer to hear, she told them about seeing a movement and the feeling of being watched.
    “Ah, tis indeed a real mystery,” sighed Kathleen in delight. “Could it be just a thief or a desperate character?”
    Angelina shivered. The room had lost its glow and was growing dark. “I don’t think I like it,” she whispered.
    “For shame, Kath,” Patrick chided, “Tis not kind to say such things. Like as not tis someone in need of a friend.” Patrick’s imagination wasn’t as dramatic as his sister’s and preferred thinking the best of people and situations.
    “But,” Kathleen protested, “if it’s a friend he needs, why does he hide?”
    Patrick shrugged and the trio in the dark bedroom sat in silence for a full minute.
    “Whoever it is needs a friend sure,” Patrick at last broke the silence, “and a better friend he could not have than Jesus Christ sure. Why don’t we pray for him?”
    “Tis the right thing just,” Kathleen agreed and the three children slipped to their knees and prayed for the mysterious person.

    The sun was barely above the eastern horizon when the children rose. All were eager to see what the day held and hurried with their clothes. The twins, as soon as they were dressed, dashed down the stairs while Angelina remained behind. Being the second child in a family of eleven, Angelina had early learned that neatness and order were important, therefore, she made her bed and that of Kathleen and hung up their clothes before she slipped down the stairs.
    Aunt Nancy greeted her in the kitchen with a smile. “The twins are out helping Uncle Dan with the morning chores,” she told her young guest. “Would you like to go out too?”
    “May I set the table?”
    To this Mrs. Cutlass readily assented, delighted to have about her the quiet, helpful girl.
    By the time Mr. Cutlass came in with his two helpers, breakfast was ready to be served as soon as they washed up.
    During the meal, Uncle Dan asked what the children had planned for the day.
    As usual it was Kathleen who spoke first, “Ah, tis a mystery—”
    She stopped short as her twin kicked her under the table and finished for her, “for we haven’t talked with you.”
    Uncle Dan laughed. These youngsters were so amusing. “I haven’t any plans for you unless you want to learn to ride the horses this morning before it grows too hot.”
    An excited squeal came from Kathleen, all thoughts of a mystery vanishing at once from her mind.
    “It’s sure we would be liking that, Uncle Dan,” Patrick replied, eyes sparkling.
    “And what about you?” Uncle Dan turned to the still shy girl at his right. “Would you like to learn to ride a horse too?”
    The girl’s dark eyes looked eager, but she spoke hesitatingly, “If Aunt Nan doesn’t need me—”
    “Not at all, Child,” Aunt Nancy interrupted. “You’ve helped this morning and there isn’t much more that needs done. You go along. Uncle Dan could use a quiet person like you around for a bit. You can help me later.”

    It wasn’t until after lunch that any of the children thought about the mud under the pump or the corner of a blanket hidden up in the hay loft. Uncle Dan had gone off to work elsewhere on the ranch telling the children that after a few more days of riding he’d take them out and teach them to mend fences and bring in the cattle. Aunt Nancy was settled on the shady porch with her mending basket and when Angelina offered to help her mend, saying that she did it at home, Aunt Nancy said, “I’m sure you are a help to your mother, Dear, but I don’t have that much mending right now. You just run along with the twins and play. You can help me mend another time when Pat gets holes in his trousers and— Goodness, children!” Aunt Nancy exclaimed, “Take off those shoes and stockings! There is no need to wear them now!”

Is your imagination as wild as Kath's?
Would you prefer to run around barefoot or with shoes?
Have you ever ridden a horse?

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Good Summer - Part 2

It's a rainy, rumble-y morning. Quite delightful and restful. I'd love to just curl up in a chair and read this morning, but alas, I must get this posted, do some other things, and then clean the house. Perhaps the rain will stick around all day.

Guess what I did yesterday? No, don't bother guessing. I'll just tell you. I published the Bike Trip book! After about 2 years of working on it, it's finally finished! I thought I just had corrections to make, but Grandpa remembered a bike trip that wasn't in the book at all! And it was the longest solo trip he had taken–1500 miles! But it's done. And it's available on Amazon here.
If you haven't worked on a project for that long, you don't know what a delight it is to have it finished! :D

This week was also the first writing classes of the school year. I have five students this year in three classes. And they vary in ages from 9-15.

I haven't written this week besides editing more Christmas stories. I just can't seem to get back to it. I thought this would be a better month for writing than July was, but so far it hasn't been. Perhaps if I were to actually try to write I might get somewhere. :P I've been letting myself get distracted with other things. Hopefully that will change. Maybe I need to get an accountability partner. :)

Anyway . . . I hope your week has gone well. Enjoy this next part of this story. It was so much fun to write with three different accents. :)

A Good Summer
Part 2

    Upon their arrival at the ranch, the twins jumped quickly from the truck and began asking questions eagerly, hardly waiting for answers.
    “Where do we sleep?”
    “Is it many cows you have?”
    “Can we feed the chickens?”
    “Do you have a dog?”
    “And gather the eggs?”
    “Where are the horses?”
    “Don’t you have any neighbors?”
    At last Uncle Dan dropped the bags on the porch, put his hands over his ears and called out, “Nan, I reckon its a good thing Mary sent along one quiet child. We’re going to need her!”
    Mrs. Cutlass laughed, putting an arm around Angelina’s thin shoulders, “Come along, Dear. If those two decide they want answers, they can come too; I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping.” She led the way inside.
    Up the narrow stairs were two rooms opening into the short hallway. Mrs. Cutlass opened the door on the right saying, “This will be the girls’ room. I know it isn’t very large for two girls, but—” she got no farther, for Kathleen, who had hurried after her aunt, burst forth.
    “Oh, it’s lovely! And the walls are the shade of a pink sunset just!”
    Two beds were nestled under the eves on one side of the room while an old fashioned dresser stood opposite. A window with plain muslin curtains looped back with a bit of faded pink ribbon looked out over a field empty of cattle but full of tall grasses.
    Mrs. Cutlass turned and opened the door on the other side of the small hall saying, “This room will be yours, Pat,”
    The room was nearly identical to the room the girls were staying in only the walls were a pale yellow. Patrick set his baggage down with a thump and raced to the window.
    “I can see the barn!” he exclaimed. “Uncle Dan, can’t I help with chores?”
    “Sure can,” his uncle chuckled, having set the girls’ luggage in their room.

    The rest of that first day flew by, for the children at least. The twins were eager to explore every place around the house and barn while Angelina, too timid to be left behind, followed quietly after them. The house didn’t take too long and soon they were outside.
    “It’s hot for sure out here,” Patrick remarked.
    “It is just,” his twin agreed while Angelina only nodded. “But not like the city.”
    Scampering around the barn, Patrick pointed, “Hey look, a pump!”
    “Does it work?” Kathleen asked.
    “It must for there is mud underneath it.”
    “Why is there mud?” Angelina asked. “Was someone using it?”
    Patrick scratched his head. “And who would be a-using it? Uncle Dan has been in the house, and he told me they don’t have anyone else around.”
    “Tis a mystery now, I’m thinking,” Kathleen breathed, her green eyes sparkling with adventure.
    “Maybe the pump drips,” shyly offered Angelina.
    But the twins shook their heads. “It hasn’t dripped since we’ve come, so tis not likely seein’ how the sun would dry it up if it took too long,” Kathleen stated.
    “Let’s go explore the barn.” Patrick had turned from the pump and was heading for the open barn door.
    The girls hurried to catch up with him, Kathleen chattering about maybe finding a clue in the barn. Angelina didn’t say a word,
    It was dim in the barn after the brightness of the late afternoon sun outside and it took some time for the children’s eyes to adjust to the darkness. Then, just as they were about to begin exploring, the sound of a bell was heard and Aunt Nancy’s voice called, “Supper!”
    At once the twins turned and dashed for the house, all thoughts of exploring vanishing in the thought of food. As Angelina turned to follow them, she thought she caught a glimpse of something moving in the hay loft. Quickly she glanced up, but on seeing nothing, she hurried after the twins. As she left the barn she had a feeling that someone or something was watching her.

    Pushing back his chair, Uncle Dan stood up, “Who would like to help me do the evening chores?”
    “I would!” Patrick shouted, springing up so quickly he knocked his chair over with a crash.
    “Isn’t there something I can help with too?” Kathleen asked.
    “You can stay and wash the dishes,” Patrick began.
    But Kathleen looked at her uncle with such pleading eyes that he grinned. “I could teach you to milk a cow,” he stated after glancing at Mrs. Cutlass.
    “Oh, tis a fine milker I’ll make, sure,” Kathleen was all smiles.
    “And what would you like to do, Angelina?” Mrs. Cutlass turned to look at the quiet girl who had scarcely said a word all through the meal though she ate everything that was set before her.
    In a voice quite soft and almost timid, she replied, “Mama said I wash dishes well.”
    “Very well,” Aunt Nancy declared standing up, “Dan, you take those two chatterboxes out to the barn and let this child and me clean up the kitchen.”

    The sun was beginning to set when Mrs. Cutlass called outside, “Come along you young’uns, Uncle Dan and I have to get our sleep so it’s off to bed with you now. You’ll have the rest of the summer to spend outdoors. And nothing will run away during the night. Now tell your Uncle good night and scamper up to bed. I’ll be along shortly to hear your prayers and tuck you in. Up stairs with you now.”
Would you like to find a mystery when you were visiting?
Have you ever milked a cow?
Will you be back next week?

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Good Summer - Part 1

Good morning FFFs!
It was cloudy when I got up this morning, but now it looks like the clouds might be breaking up. We have windows open and a breeze is stirring the trees. It's been quite a week since last Friday. You want to hear about it? Okay . . .

Friday: Usual stuff like cleaning the house and then working more on organizing and such.
Saturday: My mom and I spent much of the day doing a lot more organizing, moving some shelves around, cleaning out some things, and getting rid of stuff. I went to bed tired.
Sunday: Early Sunday morning the phone rang. My sis-in-law was in labor and could someone come get the kids? It was about 3:00. While Dad went to get the 5 kids (oldest niece got to stay), Mom, Sis and I got beds put together. Thankfully everyone fell right to sleep when they got here. Well, except the adults. I just couldn't get to sleep.
We took the kids to church and everyone was excited about the coming baby. He was born during church. And weighed 9 lbs and 2 oz. We took the kids to our house for naps, and then we went over to see the baby. Brought Sissy home with us. The kids all spent the night.
Monday: Took the kids to the park for at least 2 hours in the morning. My aunt came by right after lunch for an hour or so on her way home. After supper we took the kids home and got to hold Baby.
Tuesday: I was so tired that I could hardly function. I don't do well with not enough sleep.
Wednesday: Much more awake this day and actually got things done. Plans for writing class made. I start teaching next week.
Thursday: I worked on the covers for some of my Christmas stories, wrote, read, and did some other things.
Today: My grandparents are coming down late morning to see their 7th great grandson and visit with us.

And that, my readers, is that. 

As I was looking through my archives trying to find something to post, I saw this story. It is published in "Pirates of Rocky Crag Bay and Other Stories" but I liked it and figured that most of you probably don't have that book. And if you do, oh well. I'm out of "new" short stories and have hardly written. So I hope you enjoy this Summer story.

A Good Summer
Part 1

    Red. It was all around. Wispy clouds blanketing the sky were glowing with it, the fields stretching out behind the ranch were aflame, even the distant hills appeared hazy with a hint of crimson. Only the southwestern horizon relieved the feeling that the world was on fire. There the strip of brilliant white sky, which almost hurt ones eyes to look at, hung suspended beneath the yellow-tinged burning clouds. Black fence posts stood in the foreground like sentinels silently silhouetted against the scarlet pasture. Swaying the grasses, the evening breeze felt warm, bringing no relief from the oppressive summer heat.
    As he turned away from the barn door, Mr. Cutlass sighed and wiped his forehead with his large bandana. “This heat’s enough to suck the life out of anyone or anything. The cattle sure are feeling it, and if we don’t get rain soon the water in that back pasture will dry up and we’ll have to bring the herd closer and pump their water. It’s sure looking like another hot, dull summer.” The lean rancher shook his head drearily at the very thought, glancing towards the pump. Then he looked again.
    “Strange,” he muttered. “Who’s been using the pump?” He had noticed a small mud puddle underneath.
    Slowly, through the red-glow of the sunset, Mr. Cutlass stalked to the ranch house, up the porch steps and into the kitchen. A supper of cold meat and cheese sandwiches, potato salad, watermelon and one of Mrs. Cutlass’s cherry pies, had been eaten earlier and now Mrs. Cutlass, having finished the dishes, was pouring two glasses of lemonade.
    “When do you think this heat will let up?” she asked, setting one glass down beside her husband.
    “I wish I knew.”
    Silence fell as the cold drinks were slowly sipped and the night descended outside. At last Mrs. Cutlass spoke. “Do you remember, Dan, that Mary is sending the twins here for the rest of the summer to escape the heat of the city?”
    Mr. Cutlass snorted. “Escape the heat. Don’t know which will be worse.” He was silent a minute. “When are they coming?”
    When the clock struck eight, the couple rose. It was time to head to bed. As they moved slowly down the dim hallway, Mr. Cutlass remembered the mud puddle.
    “Nancy,” he asked, “were you using the pump out behind the barn this evening?”
    “No, why?”
    “Someone had been, there was mud underneath it that wasn’t dry.”
    “Well, it’s too hot to worry about it and I won’t begrudge water to anyone in this weather.”

    The old pickup truck, covered with dust, rattled to a halt before the small train station and the Cutlasses got out. They were a few minutes late and the train had just pulled out again leaving three children on the platform eagerly looking around.
    Spying the couple approaching, one of the children, with red pigtails flying, suddenly darted forward crying, “Uncle Dan! Aunt Nancy! We’ve come!”
    “So we see, honey,” Mr. Cutlass grinned as the young pixie flung her arms first about one and then the other.
    “But who is with you, Kathleen?”
    The girl looked back at the platform where a boy with equally red hair was trying to urge forward a slight girl of about eight. The girl, evidently of Italian descent with straight black hair, was clinging to a small handbag and looking half frightened and shy. “Sure tis Angelina, the girl Mama asked about sending in the last letter.”
    Mr. and Mrs. Cutlass glanced at each other. What last letter? The last one they had received had said nothing about an extra child. But no matter. There was plenty of room.
    “Come on, Pat,” Kathleen called. “It’s sure Angelina won’t be coming if you push her.”
    At this advice from his sister, Patrick left the small girl and ran over to his uncle and aunt exclaiming, “It’s glad I am to be here just!”
    “Let’s get your bags and head on back to the ranch,” Uncle Dan suggested, clapping his nephew on the shoulder.
    As the two menfolk lifted the bags to the back of the truck, Aunt Nancy stepped over to the shy child still standing alone on the platform. “Your name is Angelina?” she asked gently.
    The girl nodded.
    “Well, I’m Aunt Nancy or Aunt Nan. I’m sure you will have lots of fun out here, but you must be tired from your trip, so lets head over to the truck before they leave without us.”
    Angelina looked up into the kind face, saw the friendly hand held out, and after hesitating a moment, slipped her own small one into it and followed.
    “You kids hop in the back and hang on,” Uncle Dan instructed. “I don’t want you to bounce out and us have to come back looking for you.”
    Patrick and Kathleen laughed gaily as they clambered into the back of the truck.
    “Come on, Lina,” Kathleen reached down for Angelina’s hand, but Uncle Dan lifted her in and set her down beside his niece.
    As the truck began to bounce down the road with the twins laughing and squealing in the back, Mr. Cutlass glanced at his wife. “That girl needs some meat on her bones. Why she doesn’t weigh as much as new born calf!”

Have you ever stayed at a relatives house for the summer?
Has anyone stayed with you for the summer?
 If you lived in a big city, do you think you'd enjoy a summer in the country?

P.S. If you have a blog and had added my button and it now looks strange, copy the code again because I had to change some things.