“Grandpa, you said you’d tell me a story about my momma.”
“Yes, Dolly, Here goes.”
Old Man Red saw everything. He sat on the fence, behind the well box and within sight of the backdoor. He dominated his territory. Those cats that live around here sometimes tried to bother him and he scared them away.
What really bothered him was the girl. He remembered when she was young. She was only just fifteen. Almost every night, when they didn’t know he was sitting on the fence, she snuck out the back bedroom window. He didn’t know where she went. She came home right before he woke up in the morning.
Today, he couldn’t wait on her. He woke up and crowed. The sun was coming up. She wasn’t home yet. She came running in and I caught her around the waist. I sat down with her, held her, and talked to her. Old Man Red had done something good. The girl never snuck out again.
“Grandpa, what do you mean that he crowed?”
“Dolly, Old Man Red was a rooster.”
“Oh Grandpa, roosters don’t think like people!”
The little Blenheim spaniel ran to greet every visitor that came into the old bookstore. Josie bent down to pat her. Josie had one book she wanted to find and she was told she might be able to find it here.
She started down a row of books marked “Fantasy.”
“Odd,” she thought to herself. She didn’t recognize any of the books. Some smaller books were lying on the floor around a stool, so she sat down and started reading. Later, she realized two hours had passed and she was almost finished with the book. The shopkeeper walked up to tell her he was closing for the day, but she could come back the next day and read.
As Josie walked home, she mused on what a wonderful book she’d just read, but she didn’t recognize the title or the author. She read a lot of fantasy.
She went back to the bookstore the next day. She only had 20 pages left to read in the book she read yesterday. She started reading and the same thing happened. Two hours later, she was still reading the book. The book was growing longer, and even better, every day. A real-life fantasy.
She couldn’t wait to get dressed and go for her run. She didn’t run in the city where she lived. She ran in the country. Her run every day kept her emotionally healthy. She needed it now more than ever.
It was a short drive and in 15 minutes, she was there. She parked her car and ran to the dirt road that was her track. It felt so good to be here. The road was two and one-half miles, so she ran five miles total.
Suddenly, she heard footsteps near her. She looked around and there was Murphy, her German Shepherd. But, Murphy had died a year ago. It seemed to be a pale copy of him running along beside her. There were footsteps on her right. It was her dad who had died five years ago. It was also a pale copy of him. He smiled at her. She felt great peace.
The three of them kept running. She knew they were there to help her. Her mother had died one week ago. She felt they were there to tell her everything was all right. When they got to the end of the road, they disappeared.
“We have to establish a fire break to keep this fire from jumping the highway,” Roger said to Jeff, who was fighting the fire along with him.
There were 30 firefighters trying to hold back just this section of the fire near U.S. 41 in South Florida, but they were having little luck. It was hot and dry, with winds at 30 mph.
The Chief radioed in and told the men two firefighters were trapped in their section. They were asked to try to get to them. Roger and Jeff looked at each other, then at the roaring flames in front of them. They knew there was no way to get to the men. To try would be suicide. They would have to hope their fire blankets would save them.
As some of the men kept piling up dirt near the highway and others were using the hose, two men came running out of the flames, covered by their fire blankets. Everyone cheered! In the arms of one of the men, under the blanket, was a small, black creature. A tiny Florida panther! Separated from its mother and saved by the firefighters even while they were saving their own lives.
She sat at the table, looking at the bottle of poison left for her there. Her friend, Colin, supplied it. She had been so miserable. Her husband had tormented her for years. Years of subtle, and not so subtle, mental and emotional abuse. She had always confided in Colin. He knew she was about to crack, that she could not take it anymore. That she had come to this place. That she was really considering poisoning her husband, shocked her. She couldn’t wait to do it.
Her mind wandered back to all the years before. She had been ambitious at one time. He had nipped that in the bud. He wanted her home, where he watched her. Monitor every phone call. Every visitor. He had broken her spirit. She hated him.
Now, she had to figure out how to do this. Colin said the poison was tasteless and colorless. Undetectable to the police. Tonight, she would make vegetable soup. She would put just enough in his bowl. That thought made her heart beat fast. She was shaking.
She started to get up from the table. Thoughts poured through her head. She turned, picked up the bottle, and drank it herself.
Hassan watched the soldiers as they went through their drills near the house in which he and his mother were staying. He remembered another house. He was with his mother, father, and baby sister in that house. Now his father was a soldier and seldom came home. As for his baby sister, she was just gone. When Hassan asked where she was, his mother just cried. Hassan was seven years old. He lived in Aleppo, Syria.
All Hassan knew was that his ears hurt. He wished for quiet. It was never quiet where he lived. Hassan was also hungry, but he tried not to cry.
One day his father came home and told them to get ready. They were going to escape. They left the house and ran into the country, hiding all the way. His father said they had to get to the border. Hassan was so tired, so his father carried him. Suddenly, there were bright lights and men with guns. When Hassan woke up, he was on a cot with his mother smiling over him. They were safe now, she said.
Hassan knew she was right. It was quiet now.
The doctor didn’t know how he was going to get through the day. The same way he got through the other days, he supposed. He hated these people, these patients, that came in to see him. So needy. So many of them.
It was 8 a.m. and the doctor was already in his office, going over charts for today and filling prescription requests from yesterday. Too much was expected from doctors now. The money just wasn’t worth it.
A knock at his door. The Director of the Practice came in. He was fired! He told him to clear out his office. Patients had been complaining for months, he said. He didn’t examine them. Some were having complications. They got incorrect prescriptions.
He wouldn’t be able to support his life. His wife had left him. His children were grown and gone. He didn’t need the big life, the big house anyway. For the first time in his life, he could do what he wanted on the little bit of savings he had.
He went home, packed a things, and hit the road. He was free and the happiest he’d been in years. He would make it.
“Patrick!” Rebecca cried. “What a wonderful thing to do! Look at that beautiful tray of food.”
“It’s the least I could do for us tonight. You had a long day of shopping. I had a long day exploring London.”
Rebecca and Patrick were on their way back to the States after a month in Europe. It was the first time they had been there together. They explored France and then took the train to Switzerland where Patrick had business. They had just finished a day in London. They were staying a wonderful old hotel in Trafalgar Square.
Patrick was ready to have a break from Rebecca, but she didn’t know that. She thought he would miss her as she would him. She also didn’t know he was visiting another woman today in London while she was out shopping.
They drank the wine and ate the lovely Stilton cheese from the tray, saving some of each for later. Then they took a late night walk in the Square. London was beautiful by night. It was a night Rebecca would never forget.
She cried when they parted the next day. By the time Patrick boarded his plane, he had already forgotten her.
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