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The Impossible Statue

Statue

Glenda walked around with her watering can and when she saw the white of the stone out of the corner of her eye she did a double take. There it was, a statue on top of a small mound where yesterday she’d removed a dead flower.
She approached the statue and took a good look at it as some water spilled from the can she now tilted towards the ground. It splashed her slippers but she failed to notice. All she could do was look at the statue, a little boy with no clothing who seemed to be praying. Upon closer look, Glenda saw that he held his hands in a manner that wasn’t exactly praying; she couldn’t decide what he was doing.
A bird landed in her birdbath and startled her back to reality. She looked at the bird, a blue jay, and then returned her gaze to the small statue, which for some reason surprised her by still existing.
She walked over and picked it up. The stone was cold in her hands, which would have been normal had it not been sitting in the sun. It was heavier than it looked, much heavier, in fact. She turned it around and saw it’s little behind, then quickly turned it upside-down to look under the pedestal in an attempt to ignore the blushing of her cheeks.
There was writing carved into the pedestal, but it looked a bit like hieroglyphics. Unsure what to do, she carefully placed the statue back onto the little mound of dirt and continued watering her plants. As the water ran out of the end of the can, she paid no attention to the amount each plant received; instead, her stare remained on the statue.
Once the garden was properly watered, and the bird feeders refilled for her friendly neighborhood avians, she went into the kitchen, where she began to wash the small pile of dishes in her sink. The window above the sink looked directly into her garden, and she could see the little boy’s smile. His face looked so familiar. She’d seen it before, perhaps in a dream, but she couldn’t place it. So familiar…
That night, as Glenda began to drift away into sleep, in those moments in half-dream, half-awareness, she dreamed of her son, a mere boy when he died. The accident was something she tried not to think about in her old age, especially since her husband was gone. But she dreamed of a day on a swing set that may or may not have actually happened; Glenda could not be sure. She saw his face and the smile as she pushed him higher, the grin looking so familiar.
She jumped from sleep and quickly threw on her robe. She knew where she’d seen the face before. It had to be him. She ran through the kitchen to the back door, where she threw on the porch light and ran to the garden.
But the statue was gone.

Statue

A Fall Morning in the Park

There’s nothing like getting to work in the city with time to sit and read in the park, especially on a brisk Fall morning.

A child runs in circles through the leaf piles, enjoying the crunch of his feet on the brown leaves.

Two dogs sniff each others’ butts as their owners catch up with small talk.

Music reminiscent of a Chinese Food Restaurant plays by the George Washington statue as a couple does yoga.

A mom plays with her son in the recently-emptied fountain, watching her son run in circles around the cement wall that holds him in place just as it would a pool of water.

And I sit, reading, looking up every once in a while to watch the beginning of other peoples’ morning. What a lovely way to start a day.

Philadelphia Writers Anthology

Hey all! I’m SO EXCITED to be the judge/editor of an upcoming anthology of Philadelphia area writers. Know anyone from my locale that writes fiction? Then please tell them about this contest.  Here’s the information:

Attention Philadelphia Writers!

WragsInk, a local publisher in the Philadelphia Area, is creating an anthology of the region’s best and brightest authors. How are they doing this? Through a CONTEST. Here’s the deal:

YOU: A writer from the Philadelphia Area, including suburbs.

WHAT: A short story contest. First prize: $50. Two runners-up each get $25.

The skinny: You need to be from the area, and your story has to have something to do with the great city of Philadelphia or the surrounding suburbs. It could be the setting, a main character could be from here, whatever, but it has to have SOMETHING to do with the area. The book will be edited by Dennis Finocchiaro, local author of Capturing a Moment and The Z Word.

The fine print: The three winners will automatically be included in the upcoming anthology, slated to come out at the end of the year. Any other short stories selected to be included in the anthology will receive an author’s copy of the book and will be invited to take part in public readings of your work at some of the many local events run by WragsInk. WragsInk has print and electronic rights to your story for two years, at which point the author may resell the story. WragsInk has the right to use the story in any capacity until the two years are up. By sending your story you are saying that A) It has not been published anywhere else; B) you exclusively own the rights to the story and C) that WragsInk has the right to use the story, if selected, for the next two years.

Also, the subject must say “Fiction Contest Submission” or we will not even read it.

What to send: Send us the story, your name, address and contact information. Please make sure the file is a RTF or Word document.

Where to send the story: Phillyfictioncontest@gmail.com

Deadline: October 31st

Winners will be notified via phone by November 15th.

Ritual

Every morning, Albert woke up before sunrise for his ritual. He climbed from bed right into his work pants, replaced the ribbed undershirt he’d slept in for a fresh, clean one, carefully put on his starched and ironed white button-down shirt, and pulled the suspenders over his shoulders.

Like all men of his day, Albert knew the importance of remaining clean-cut. After a quick visit to the kitchen, where he started the coffee, he headed back through his bedroom to the bathroom.

The bathroom ritual, after actions unmentionable in polite society, of course, included a shave, washing his face and brushing his teeth for three minutes, no more, no less. He would then pomade and brush his gray hair, wipe off his glasses on the special cloth he’d bought from the kindly door-to-door salesman, and then return to the kitchen.

Before Helen passed he’d always walked in to find some form of eggs, toast, orange juice and something from the meat group, but since her death he just couldn’t get the hang of making breakfast. He’d tried for about a year, the eggs were always either burnt or too runny, plus he always forgot to get orange juice at the market. So these days, if he even ate, it was toast and a pear from the tree that Helen planted back when they bought the small, suburban home.

The emptiness of the kitchen always got to Albert when he first walked in. The smells of the past haunted him, and he often forgot about her passing because he swore he could smell the ghosts of bacon frying in a pan. But whenever he walked in with a smile, adjusting his suspenders, his expectations were always disappointed. It was always empty, the sound of the coffee machine the only noise in the house and the counter meticulously organized and clean, just as he’d left it the night before.

And so he would stand with his back to the counter, as if talking to Helen like in the old days, and pour a coffee. But now, instead of sitting at the table, he ate at the sink, letting the crumbs of his solitary piece of toast fall directly into the empty sink. It kept him from having to wipe down the table, and since he kept the place immaculately clean, just as Helen did in her day, it saved him some time.

The final part of Albert’s ritual was to put on his tie, his shoes and his jacket. He walked up to the rack by the door, took his hat off the post, placed it on his head and opened the front door. The sun would just be rising as he turned and looked at his empty, dark home.

“I love you, honey. See you at supper,” he always whispered before he shut the door.

Fulfilled Dreams

“When you find all of your dreams fulfilled, it’s time to think up more dreams.”

She looked up at him. “Huh? What’s that from?”

“Me, I guess,” he said with a large, goofy smile. “My dreams are all fulfilled.”

“Really. How so?”

“I have this house I made into a home. My first book is published. And then there’s you. I love going to work most of the time. I am not starving to death, I have my health, you know. My dreams are fulfilled.”

“And?”

“And it’s time for new dreams. Time to start reaching higher.”

“Like…another book?”

“And maybe another girlfriend.”

“Very funny.”

“I thought so.”

She threw the copy of ReadyMade she was reading at him but he ducked. “See? Everything’s coming up me right now. You couldn’t even hit me with -”

Another magazine hit him square in the face.

“Nice.”

She smiled. “Gotcha! Don’t be so cocky!”

“Hey, can I help it if I’m happy?”

“I’m glad I’m on that list,” she said, getting up and walking over to the couch.

“That doesn’t mean I want to cuddle.”

“Tough. I came over here to cuddle, and cuddle I will.”

“Fine,” he said in his pretend-frustrated voice. He put his arm around her and pulled her in.

“What’s this you’re working on?” she asked, picking up the notebook he had been writing in.

“Ideas. For my next book.”

“Nice.”

“Like I said, new dreams. Not like my first book is doing well. Even the publisher said it wasn’t selling much. Maybe I can use this to get an agent. Or maybe this is the start of something bigger. It just takes the right person to read it, someone like Chuck Klosterman to tweet it, and next thing I know, it starts selling like crazy.”

“Or?”

“Or nothing. I got a book published. It was one of my dreams. I’m happy. It feels good.”

She dropped the notebook onto the floor and it landed on her crumpled magazine she’d used as a weapon just moments ago.

“Let’s go upstairs,” she said after resting her chin on his shoulder.

He smiled. “See? I’m getting everything I want.”

She got up and threw the magazine at his face again.

Setters vs. Pointers?

I stood before the two doors, entrances to the restrooms at a small café known as The White Dog and felt like I was watching a tennis match.

I looked at the left door. Then the right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left.

How in the hell was I supposed to know which one was the men’s room?

Both had a painting of a dog.

To my left, a big white dog with brown spots. Pointers, it said. Pointers? That’s probably for the men, right?

The other side a mostly white dog, similar enough to the other that I really couldn’t be sure. Setters, it said. Setters? That’s close enough to sitters, right? And women sit on the toilet no matter what…so…

I had no idea what to do. I could go with my gut since a peeing guy  would definitely be considered a pointer. But what if I was wrong? And not only did I go in there, use the bathroom, spot whatever sort of feminine stuff was usually in a bathroom and then as I attempt to discreetly leave find a woman waiting to use it? I’d be so busted!

I checked the lower half of the paintings, hoping for some sort of doggie parts that might answer my question. No luck. I would have to take a chance.

I opened the pointers door and relaxed as I saw that the seat was not down.

Success.

Safe in a Zombie Apocalypse

This original print, along with many others, is available on my Etsy. Make sure to check out my new novel, The Z Word, available here.