‘The Silver Lining Syndrome’ by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “A character faces an important decision” with bonus  points if it doesn’t mention COVID. This week’s contribution comes from Chiara De Giorgi.

Chiara is currently in Berlin, Germany, doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects. Her YA novel “Mi chiamo Elisa” was published in Italy by “Le Mezzelane Casa Editrice” in September 2020.

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The Silver Lining Syndrome

by Chiara De Giorgi

Every cloud has a silver lining. Or so they say.

I’ve focused on silver linings my entire life: no situation was ever grim enough for me not to stubbornly search, find, and hold the silver lining up, like an insignia, for everybody to see. I’ve always been known for my smile, my positive mood, my happiness, my ability to always rejoice no matter what. The “half full” glass kind of person.

There were times when I was feeling incredibly hopeless, or angry, or resentful. Because of people, things, or life in general. But I trained myself to find that damned silver lining, and find it I did. Every single time.

I’ve always been proud of the way I faced challenges and difficulties, refusing to be miserable, rejecting those feelings of desperation that threatened to overwhelm me. I would look into the mirror and just think, Well,  that’s the hand you’ve been dealt. How can you make the most of it?

Now, don’t get me wrong: I honestly believe that this is a great way to go through life.

However.

Sometimes you have to step back, look a situation in the eye, and admit that, hell it sucks and you aren’t going to put up with that shit anymore!

We all make choices. There aren’t right choices or wrong choices. Nor better or worse ones. They’re just that: choices. Choices we make because of some reasons that in that moment somehow make sense. Choices are what make you, you.

I think choices and silver linings may be connected.

Suffering from what I’ve come to think of as the “Silver Lining Syndrome”, at one point I realized that, in the attempt to defend some choices I actually deeply regretted, I fabricated silver linings. Because to disown one of my choices was to disown myself.

Being at war with my choices was being at war with myself. My sky was suddenly dark, with no clouds and no silver linings, it was foggy, impenetrable. I despised both my choices and my silver linings. I hated my unshakable happiness, I wanted to slap everyone who had ever thought me a “positive person”. I wished I could wipe out all my choices and my silver linings.

I had always wanted to see my life as an endless string of silver linings, but life is an endless string of choices. A silver lining is there one moment, and the next moment it’s been swallowed by its cloud. A choice? It stays with you forever. I was aware that, sometimes, I would have to make tough choices, choices that scared me, but I thought, it will be okay, because: what is worse? Sorting out the difficulties that might follow the tough choice I was too scared to make, or living my entire life hiding behind a (possibly fake) silver lining?

So I was finally able to make the decision that would change my world. From that moment on, my life has been a choice, and not a silver lining anymore.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Could He Do It?’ by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month “A character faces an important decision.”

In December 2018, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/. He’s currently working on a saga about the hazards of ignoring climate change.

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Could He Do It?

by

Phil Yeats

Leonard was a lost soul in the heady days of hippie mania, free love, and every sort of relationship. He couldn’t join the culture, living in the moment like so many others. He always worried about the consequences. Loving the one you’re with if you can’t be with the one you love didn’t work for him.

Five years after he graduated from university, an old friend appeared while he sat outside his neighbourhood pub, enjoying a solitary after-work beer.

“I always admired the way you ignored everyone and followed your muse,” Susan said after a brief hello, how are you.

Len stared, bewildered. Since high school, he’d lived in fear of bullies insisting everyone adhere to their narrow definition of proper behaviour. “Nothing admirable about my conduct. I was a misfit who avoided interaction with others.”

She shook her head. “You stuck to your principles, but I didn’t. For years I lived a lie, pretending to be someone I wasn’t. But let’s not argue. I need your help.”

She sipped the glass of wine she brought to the table while he nursed his beer. He’d applauded her bravery when she acknowledged a lesbian relationship during their senior year. Hiding her orientation earlier when it was illegal was sensible, not cowardly.

“What sort of help?” he asked.

A smile brightened her face. “You remember Patricia?”

He’d met her partner in 1969 at their university graduation ceremony. After the diploma presentations, they bypassed the formal reception because he wasn’t comfortable with crowds, and they wanted to avoid bringing attention to their relationship. They sauntered to an off-campus pub for a quiet celebration before he flew away to graduate school. He’d returned when he found a home town job three years later.

“You’re still together, living happily ever after?”

“And we need your help with baby-making.”

Len damn near dropped his glass. “You mean sperm donation?”

She smiled. If he was an imaginative sort, he might have called it mischievous. “Come for supper tomorrow. We can discuss it.”

A few minutes later, she strolled away. He ordered a second beer and contemplated what could become his first serious, open-ended commitment to anyone. Have courage; this may complicate your simple, well-ordered life, but it’s the right thing. And how difficult can it be?

The following evening, Patricia returned to the kitchen after some small talk.

He got down to business after taking a deep breath to build his courage. “So, you want a baby and need a sperm donor,” he said to Susan. “I’m honoured you’ve chosen me. What do I do? Visit your favoured fertility clinic, squirt some into a beaker, and leave everything else to the experts?”

“Not on. In our backward province, the clinics only accept married couples. And a gay couple, no chance!”

“Trip to an out-of-province clinic? Could get rather complicated, couldn’t it?”

Patricia arrived with three glasses of wine. “We thought we could cut out the middleman.”

He hesitated after taking his glass. “At-home, do-it-yourself insemination using a turkey baster?” he asked.

Susan put her glass on a table and snuggled close to him—an intimate gesture and unexpected with her partner standing only a metre away. “Guys have built in turkey basters,” she whispered.

He choked on his wine as he squirmed away. He could handle a sterile, mechanical process in a clinic. Masterminding the manoeuvre in their apartment might also work, but Susan’s whispered suggestion went too far.

He’d only tried twice in his miserable life to establish a relationship with a woman. Both attempts ended in disasters. He was so worried about getting them pregnant, he couldn’t perform. This time, getting her pregnant would be the idea so no impediment, but could he make love to an avowed lesbian with her lover hovering nearby?

Susan disappeared when Patricia nodded toward the kitchen. She turned to Len. “You’re uncomfortable with this idea. I am too, but think back to 1967. Susan in her threadbare tie-died T-shirts and long, flowing skirts, no bra, long brown hair. She was into pushing sexual boundaries, trying anything. She wanted you, even after we were a couple, but you remained aloof, unassailable. Now, if you’re willing, we could have our baby, and Susan could have her old friend from college back. A friend she’s never forgotten. This could work out. We could develop a beautiful relationship.”

“But—” She held her fingers against his lips.

“Think about it. That’s all I ask. We’ll get together on the weekend, and you can give us your decision. Now, we should forget all this and enjoy dinner.”

A few hours later Len wandered to his apartment. He had a decision to make. It could mean very little if he treated it cavalierly with the love ’em and leave ’em mantra many guys favoured during college. Not that he really believed most guys meant what they said. Or it could mean a great deal if he fell into his normal habit of imagining all the consequences. Could he even pull it off? It wasn’t like he had any experience or success in this whole business.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Decisions, Decisions’ by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month “A character faces an important decision.”

Bonus points if it doesn’t mention COVID! (Cathy’s post does not mention Covid! Give her those bonus points, haha!)

Cathy’s novels, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, and MISTER WOLFE, the darkly dark sequel or stand-alone (18+), are available on Amazon. MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series, is scheduled for release in 2022/2023.

***

“Decisions, Decisions” by Cathy MacKenzie

“I can’t do it alone,” I said, gripping my handbag to my chest as if it’d sprout wings and fly far, far away.

Sally’s face turned white. She glanced at me and looked away. Had I said too much? She wasn’t my closest friend. Didn’t know my husband that well, so I felt safe confiding in her, but in that split second, I wished I hadn’t.

Still, I plodded on. “You won’t help me?”

She turned and glared at me as if I were bonkers. Perhaps I was.

Can’t you speak? I wanted to scream my thoughts, but I didn’t. Would only hinder my request, and she was my only hope.

She sighed. “I think this is bigger than me. I…”

I what? I hated when people stopped sentences midstream.

“Dunno,” she said, as if I’d spoken out loud. Was she psychic? She picked up her purse from the picnic table. “I gotta go.”

What? “Yeah, okay.”

She sped off.

Obviously, I’d made a huge mistake, but not ready to give up, I raced after her. “Sally, wait.” 

She stopped and faced me.

Breathless, I asked, “You won’t tell anyone, will you?”

She smiled—albeit a slight smile. “I won’t.”

“I’ll walk with you to Oak Street,” I said. I needed to get inside her head. Why wouldn’t she help me? Maybe I expected too much from her. After all, I’d propositioned murder. Not everyone’s cuppa tea—if you drink tea. I don’t; I prefer the hard stuff: Gin. Vodka. Whiskey. Wine, even. Whatever’s offered.

We walked in silence until we reached the intersection at Pecan and Chestnut, where she gripped my arm and examined my face as if it were full of pimples (it wasn’t). “Are you serious? Really serious?”

“Serious?”

“Yeah, what you want help with,” she said.

“Of course. I wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t.”

She stared into my eyes as if trying to enter my soul. “Okay. Let’s do it. But on one condition.” She grinned.

The shape of her mouth and the baring of her teeth reminded me of Jack Nicholson in The Joker. I rubbed my arms, trying to quell my tremors. “What’s the condition?”

“That we kill my husband first.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Spud’ by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “A character faces an important decision” with bonus points if it doesn’t mention COVID 😊

This week’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, who is in the home stretch of the longest and weirdest year of her teaching career. She wrote this tale while driving (composed via speak-to-text) during a particularly stressful week. If you’d like lighter fare, you can check out her Corgi website at www.corgicapers.com.

Spud

By Val Muller

When I was ten, I had a dream—a nightmare, really. There was this creepy glowing clown. It happened the one time I watched a scary movie from the top of the stairs while my parents thought I was in bed. I swear, as I crouched at the top of the banister to peer at the television, I heard breathing behind me. I never turned to look, and the breathing left me too terrified to return to bed. I only sprang back to my room on an adrenaline rush when I heard my parents coming up for the night.

I’m sure it was the clown breathing behind me, toying with me. He certainly came to me in that dream, where he showed up, laughing maniacally, and told me I would always choose the potatoes.

I was terrified of that clown, let me tell you. I don’t think I can really put it in words. It’s not circus clowns and super-slow kid songs sung off-key. That’s the fun kind of scary. This clown wasn’t the fun kind. He’s sort of like zombies—the idea of being dead but not. Souless, maybe. A monster. The whole something-beyond-mortality… or maybe nothing. The way he said potatoes. I know it sounds comical when I say it out loud. Believe me, if I could erase that dream from my life, I would. And I only wish this were funny instead of pathetically terrifying. When he said potatoes, his voice was the grizzled rasp of death. His assertion—that I would always choose potatoes—was a threat I didn’t understand.

Starting that next morning, whenever I had an option to choose potatoes, I chose them. I mean ridiculously so. It earned me the nickname Tater in school because every day at the cafeteria I would choose tater tots. I mean, I would have potatoes covered in ketchup, tater tots on my salad, mashed potatoes with a side of French fries. If potatoes were offered—on a menu, in a conversation—I took them.

I never actually told anyone the reason for it. Everyone just thought it was my quirk. I can’t tell you how many potato gag gifts I’ve received over the years. Potato figures, t-shirts, plushies. To be honest, I don’t even like potatoes that much. They remind me of a grave—you know, how the dirt kind of piles up and is clumpy but moist. That’s what potatoes are like. A freshly-dug grave.

When I went away to college, I promised myself I would start fresh. But every line in the dining hall has potatoes of some sort. I could hardly disguise my strange choices, and though I managed to shed my “Tater” nickname, my freshman hall affectionately called me “Spud.” Now, after my second year of college, I feel like I’m at that point where something has to be done. Am I really going to let a dream from when I was ten dictate the rest of my life?

Dad came with the SUV to pack up my sophomore year dorm room. I would be living off-campus the next year, and I had fantasies of going grocery shopping and not buying any potatoes every again. But the back of my mind wondered: if I walked past the potatoes, or a box of potato flakes, or a frozen case of French fries, would I have to choose them? I imagined my future apartment’s freezer, packed full of frozen spuds.

Things were becoming ridiculous.

We loaded Dad’s SUV with all my stuff, and then I fell asleep on the way home. I woke when we took a sharp turn off an exit ramp. My dad kind of reached over and kept my whole body from sliding too far to the left on the leather passenger seat. He said “Good morning, sunshine” the same way he said it when I was a kid. And then he offered me the choice.

It was a split-second decision I had to make while still not fully awake. He said we were stopping for lunch. There was a food truck with lobster rolls advertised with hand-written signs along the highway. Then there was the typical fast-food corridor that I knew would be chock-full of potatoes. My dad smiled sadly at me.

“I know you have a thing for potatoes, and since you’re the guest of honor this summer, I’ll let you choose, but I sure could use a good old New England lobster roll.”

“Does the food truck have fries?” I asked.

Dad shrugged. “I need to know. This is our turn.”

We approached a traffic light. On the light post, a handwritten sign pointed left with “lobster rolls” written in permanent marker. Metal signs with all manner of fast-food logos pointed to the right. I looked left, down what seemed to be a country road. Dad hovered between two lanes, and the car behind us beeped: we had to choose a lane.

It was a split-second decision, and I said “Food truck.”

I imagined how the lobster roll would taste—the delicious sweet lobster meat, the friend butter-grilled roll with its subtle crunch. There would be no need for French fries. In fact, I hoped there would not be any.

Dad shifted to the left-turn lane, which had a red light. The right lane, where the impatient car behind us sped, had a green arrow. I watched him turn, and I watched as out of nowhere, a huge truck barreled through the intersection just as the car in the right-turn lane turned right on the green arrow.

I’ll never forget the crunch of that truck hitting the car. Hitting the car that would have been ours if I had chosen the potatoes.

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘We are Artists, You Know’ by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the task is to use the five words: toilet paper, TV, midget, flamenco, dragon. This week’s contribution comes from Chiara De Giorgi.

Chiara is currently in Berlin, Germany, doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects. Her YA novel “Mi chiamo Elisa” was published in Italy by “Le Mezzelane Casa Editrice” in September 2020.

*****

We are artists, you know

by Chiara De Giorgi

We were out of toilet paper. Again. Not the best way to start the day, if I may say so.

I stepped into the shower, brooding. The midget, our newest roommate, spent the day in front of the TV and was always coming up with new excuses not to do his chores.

It was a tough time for artists, and I couldn’t argue with that, but each of us was trying to find a way to fight back, to still express our creativity in a world that was increasingly doing without art. Of course, it has to be said that his field of expertise was quite niche. He painted with his toes and specialised in portraying flamingo rock bands. In the previous years there had been a real boom and the music of famous bands such as “The Pink Feathers” or “Adorable Beaks” was played in all the clubs.

After the record company crisis, though, the flea mafia had taken over and, not too slowly, the cormorant bands had supplanted the flamingos. (I hope none of my friends are listening to this, but the “Cormorant Knocking” are f*ckin’ brilliant!) Anyway, finding a rock star flamingo became impossible, they had all been intimidated or bought off. The fleas were terrible. It was said that their leaders were the most ruthless.

With the flamingos gone, the midget had also lost his job. My partner and I had agreed to let him have a room in our flat because we believed that a gesture of trust would help him get back on his feet. He was a nice guy after all. Unfortunately, however, he had become discouraged.

I sighed again and got out of the shower.

I was immediately aware of the noises coming from the living room. What was going on in there? I could hear thumps, loud laughter and Spanish music blaring.

I quickly wrapped myself in a towel and ran into the living room to see what was going on. I was so curious!

I froze in the doorway. The midget was standing on the armrest of the sofa, inciting my partner to dance a flamenco. The result, between us, was hilarious. Did I mention that my partner is a dragon?  No? Well, I’ll tell you now. He is a medium-sized dragon with blue scales and wisps of silver fur over his eyes. He’s charming. Normally.

Unfortunately, flamenco was not really his thing, and he even had to attach castanets to his front legs because his fingers are too thick.

Because of the confusion, even the family of mice to whom we sublet the baseboards (don’t judge, we all have to make a living), who are generally very tolerant (living with artists always involves some compromise, after all), had come to see what all the excitement was about.

And so, the day had started off unpleasantly, but soon turned into the most fun any of us had had in a long time. In the evening we were still in the living room dancing flamenco together, including the mice, laughing our heads off. Maybe all those energy drinks made from bat liver soaked in alcohol had something to do with it. But then again, we are artists, you know.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘200 Word Story’ by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the task is to use the five words: toilet paper, TV, midget, flamenco, dragon. This week’s contribution comes from Phil Yeats.

In December 2018, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/. He’s currently working on a saga about the hazards of ignoring climate change.

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200-Word Story

Phil Yeats

He woke with a start. It wasn’t anything on the TV that woke him. It was the dream, the dream of being in the grocery store with empty shelves looking for toothpaste and toilet paper.

“Damn COVID dreams!” he said to no one in particular. He was alone, as always. Even the cat was off somewhere looking for mice or birds or lady cats or whatever sparked its interest. One thing was damn sure, the stupid cat wasn’t worried about coronavirus avoidance.

He turned down the sound and settled back, intent on resuming his nap. Soon enough, he was dreaming again. He’d turned the clock back fifty years and entered an orgy from Federico Fellini’s Satyricon. There were giants and midgets, flamenco dancers and erotic pole dancers, and sexual deviants of all kinds. The scene dissolved as a dragon breathed fire on everything and everyone.

“Damn,” he said again. “I might as well pretend I’m actually working for a living.”

He started hammering away on his laptop. Yup, I can do it, he decided. I can turn the Satyricon dream into a flash fiction story for 200-Word Stories. It just needs a little pizzazz to snazz it up a bit.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘A Silly Ditty’ by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the task is to use the five words: toilet paper, TV, midget, flamenco, dragon.

Cathy’s novels, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, and MISTER WOLFE, the darkly dark sequel or stand-alone (18+), are available on Amazon. MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series, is scheduled for release in 2022/2023.

***

“A Silly Ditty” by Cathy MacKenzie

I have a dear friend

Who talks of midgets

And silly sillies, widgets,

Whatever tales she can blend.

*

She spiels many words,

Stories of dragons

And fire-red wagons,

Even bizarre birds.

*

She likes to dance

Flamenco style

Down the grocery aisle,

As if in a magical trance.

*

Once during a crazy caper

She tangoed and twirled

And appallingly hurled,

Cleaning up with toilet paper.

*

If I’d had a camera near,

I would’ve taken photos

For she’d staged such a pose

That made my eyes tear.

*

I said I should film her,

Put the footage on TV

For all the world to see,

Create a comical stir.

*

She changed her ways,

Watches what she does,

Not wanting to create a buzz

For the rest of her days.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘The Corgi Princess’s Streamers of Victory’ by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story using the words TV, flamenco, midget, toilet paper, dragon.

This week’s piece comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. This piece is actually a scene coming from the in-progress Corgi Capers book 4 (slightly modified to fit the prompt). You can learn more about the series at www.corgicapers.com.

The Corgi Princess’s Streamers of Victory

By Val Muller

Sapphie lowered onto all fours, eyeing her people. That box was making noise again. What did they call it, a TV? It usually distracted everyone, but these kids seemed to be paying extra attention to her. She needed them distracted now, now, now! She could see it there through the open bathroom door, the object of her quest: toilet paper.

Glorious.

Chewy.

Pully.

Delicious.

It wasn’t Adam and Courtney. It was the midget, the little one, the one who wasn’t part of the family. What did they call him again? Cousin, that was it. Cousin didn’t have a Sapphie of his own. Cousin only had a Paxton Glen, and that pup was not nearly as cute or amazing as Sapphie. No one was! So of course Cousin couldn’t look away. But it was sure becoming annoying. Sapphie needed a distraction.

Courtney was pushing that thing that made different colors appear on the TV. First, bright, flashy ones. Then, dark, calming ones. Then—a doorbell!

Sapphie, Zeph, and Paxton all skittered on the cold floor toward the front door.

Paws.

Claws.

Howls.

Who, who, who? Sapphie wanted to know. Paxton howled too, his voice becoming more like a corgi’s.

“It’s just on TV,” Adam said over the noise. “Quiet.”

It’s just on TV. Those words were possibly the most disappointing words people ever said. All manner of things were “just on TV.” Cats, dogs, doorbells, beeps, horns.

Still, the command to be quiet was perhaps just what Sapphie needed to regroup for her mission. The people seems calmer now. Cousin was laughing at the commotion. Courtney and Adam had turned back to the TV.

“Oh, look,” Adam said. “A commercial for the new Logan Zephyr film. Let’s watch this one!”

Zeph, hearing his name, trotted over to Adam like the Goody Two Shoes he was. Paxton trotted to the couch, where her hopped up to cuddle with the delighted Cousin. Courtney pulled out her phone.

Sapphie tested the waters, skittering back and forth behind the couch. Like a flamenco dancer, she floated across tiles, eyeing Courtney for a reaction.

None.

She ran to the water dish and dipped her front paws in it, splashing.

No response.

The boys were lost in the TV. The world belonged to Sapphie. She danced her way toward the bathroom, leaving wet pawprints everywhere. And then, next to the toilet, the object of her quandary hung, swaying in the gentle rush of hot air from the heating system.

First, like a mischievous fairy steed of lore, deftly she tiptoed across the tile. Then, like a dragon, she leapt in the air and landed victorious, a soft white square gripped firmly between her teeth. The toilet paper pulled easily off the holder. With no one to stop her, she twisted it around her neck, her collar, her stubby little legs. It just kept coming, a streamer of victory, unending. Her tail wagged a million miles an hour as she ate several pieces of the white fluff.

Yum, yum, yum! she barked, dancing across the floor with her streamers of royalty celebrating her reign as they trailed behind her on the paw-printed floor, reflecting the colorful glow of the television.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Love Poem’ by Chiara de Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme is “All the pretty things.” This week story comes from Chiara. Chiara is currently in Berlin, Germany, doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects. Her YA novel “Mi chiamo Elisa” was published in Italy by “Le Mezzelane Casa Editrice” in September 2020.

Love Poem – Possibly About My Cat

by Chiara De Giorgi

I’ve always known to look for pretty things

Sometimes I catch them with a single glance

Sometimes they just appear out of the blue

But I would never want to miss the chance

To spot one pretty thing when I’m with you.

I lose myself into your lovely eyes

And I forget about the world around

Because of all the pretty things I’ve seen

For me you are the prettiest one, hands down

And I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been.

It’s not that hard to look up at the sky

And recognize how beautiful it is

By day, the sun, the clouds, and all the birds

By night, the moon that shines over the trees

Competes with stars, too elegant for words.

And yet, when I’m with you, I can’t look up

I only hear your voice and feel your heart

It beats with mine, it is a symphony

And it is never right to be apart

The greatest gift for me’s your company.

So let us look at pretty things together

I bet they’ve never looked so nice before

We’re holding hands and it’s spellbinding

The way waves sound when crashing on the shore

Just everything, with you, is more enchanting.

So, to conclude this poem about good things:

I like to spot them when I’m on my own

But what I truly, really love to do

Is do the same, but when I’m not alone:

Watch all the pretty things and be with you.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Where Are the Pretty Things’ by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme is “All the pretty things.” This week’s contribution comes from Phil Yeats.

In December 2018, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/. He’s currently working on a saga about the hazards of ignoring climate change.

*****

Where are the Pretty Things?

Some see the bright side, others the dark.

I tend to the latter, with COVID it’s worse.

Crocuses have bloomed, but now they’re done.

Snow has returned, but it won’t stay.

Spring is coming, it’s here everywhere else.

April in Nova Scotia, what more can I say.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Pretty Things’ by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the task is to use the topic “pretty little things.” This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie. She’s written hidden meanings into this poem—though likely no one will “get it.” She loves to compose rhyming poems even though rhyming poems are passé and her poems lame. Oh well…

Cathy’s novels, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, and MISTER WOLFE, the darkly dark sequel or stand-alone (18+), are available on Amazon. MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series, is scheduled for release in 2022/2023.

***

“Pretty Things” by Cathy MacKenzie

(1)

Oh, pretty things,

Everything life brings

Thrusts us into a role,

Most times in control,

Presenting all that’s fine—

Love, bonbons, wine—

Other times not to win

With lies that spin

And minds as hard

As a mirror shard.

(2)

Pretty things,

Each one clings,

Never letting go,

Though we dull the glow

When we stray

And chant and pray,

Stay, stay, do not leave,

We will grieve

What’s lost

Amid the horrid cost.

(3)

Pretty things,

Ding, dong—many dings—

Who’s at the door

Wanting more,

The monster man

With a plan

And words to spout,

Or the person without,

The quiet one

Who wants to run?

(4)

Pretty things

Are queens or kings,

Come from Hell or a cell,

Live for a spell,

Rugged, clean

Like a stalk of bean

Standing tall

Even when small,

But brave

Until tossed in its grave.

(5)

Pretty things,

Hear the pings?

What’s in store,

Hidden in the drawer,

Money, lies, hate?

Two bods that mate,

Hate, hate, love?

What will fit the glove?

Answers are never clear

In this life so dear.

(6)

Pretty things,

Bangles and rings

Shine bright

In the night

’Til day dawns

To numerous yawns,

Revealing a shine

That’s only a sign

Of sullied spots

And dirty dots.

(7)

Pretty things,

Everyone sings,

Not all that’s pretty glows,

Only God knows

The promises we make,

Ones we don’t break,

The secret ones

That weigh tons,

Plus those hidden,

Forever forbidden.

(8)

Pretty things,

Arms in slings,

Winds rage in a storm,

Taking away the warm,

Toppling all that’s good,

Everything that stood

Strong and brave

Until tossed into that grave,

Waiting for rebirth

Or dead forever on earth.

(9)

Pretty things

Fresh as seasonal springs

Are born, live, then die,

Shy or sly

They reach from Hell

To shake Heaven’s bell,

Souls

Stiff as poles

Filled with hate,

Still try to love and mate.

(10)

Pretty things,

Everyone stings,

Kiss, make up, forgive,

Or continue to live,

Exposed like glass

Or as invisible as gas,

Still can’t disappear

From this crowed sphere,

But hope remains

To re-warm frigid veins.

(11)

Pretty things,

Flimsy as strings,

So pretty in disguise

Though it hurts our eyes

To view the glare

Alongside the flair

Of glitter and gold,

For everything grows old,

And hearts still tarnish

Despite the varnish.

(12)

Pretty things,

See the swings?

Fun in the park

Where babes leave a mark

And adults wheel and deal,

Share and feel,

Ponder life

And strife,

Babes too young to know

Of winds to blow.

(13)

Pretty things,

Grow wings,

Fly far, far away,

There will be a better day

When you can thrive

And survive

And seize the gold prize,

Ignore the lies,

Don a happy face

And live in that new place.

(14)

Pretty things,

Too fast life zings,

Builds up walls,

Throws curveballs,

Muddle and exist,

Endure the fist,

Find strengths

No matter what lengths,

Live fine and strong,

You’ll never go wrong.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘All the Pretty Things’ by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme is “All the pretty things.” This week’s piece comes to us from Val Muller, who is challenging herself to write one poem today in celebration of NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, a convergence of novel writing month and poetry month 😊 You can read the first week’s poems at https://wp.me/p2dkaY-17S . Today’s poem is from April 7:

All the Pretty Things

By Val Muller

I am a crow

Because you always thought

That’s what I would be

Ever since you read

That crows can symbolize

Mystery, Wisdom, or Death.

And so when I came for you,

You saw me

As a crow.

Remember in childhood

You left food for me:

Berries, grains, meat;

And in exchange

I brought you shiny things,

All the pretty things

I could find:

Bottle caps, lost earrings,

Shells, bright bits of string.

You wondered at the mystery

And treasured my gifts

In a box.

You grew and moved

But heard me calling,

Cawing, through all your years,

Knew I was there,

Waiting.

You photographed me,

Painted me,

Wrote of me,

Of all my pretty things:

Claw, feathers, eyes,

Beak, gaze, wisdom,

As you aged into autumn,

Thinking of life lived

And wisdom bought

With time.

And now I’ve come,

Reminding you, before we leave,

Of all your pretty things:

Of love, tears,

Successes, failures,

Family, solitude, travel,

Of treasured things locked

In the box of your soul

As we take to the sky

In search of pretty things.

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Coincidences’ by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the task is a story about “someone finding a bag.”

This week story comes from Chiara. Chiara is currently in Berlin, Germany, doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects. Her YA novel “Mi chiamo Elisa” was published in Italy by “Le Mezzelane Casa Editrice” in September 2020.

Coincidences

by Chiara De Giorgi

“Hey, you look distressed. Is everything okay? Are you ill?”

“What? No, no, I’m not ill. It’s just this stupid assignment. I can’t think of anything original to write.”

“Oh? Maybe I can help! What is it about?”

“Well… No, I can’t talk about it with you. It would be like cheating. I have to come up with the right idea myself.”

“Okay, if you say so… I’m here for you, anyway, should you change your mind.”

“Thanks, bro, I appreciate it. You know, actually…”

“Yes?”

“Maybe if we just chatted away a little, it would take my mind off the bloody thing for a while, and then… Sometimes the best ideas are born like this, when you least expect it!”

“Of course! I have some free time right now, I can brew some tea and sit down with you for a moment.”

“That’s a great idea! But sit down, please. I’ll make tea for us both.”

“As you wish… Erm… I don’t… Hum.”

“Is everything alright?”

“Well, sure, it’s just… I don’t know where to sit. Every single surface seems to be covered in papers and books and pens and… ugh. Socks.”

“Oh, I know. I have been so busy, that I haven’t had time to tidy up before you came. Move some stuff around and make yourself comfortable. It’s not as if you could make a mess anyway, eeh eeh.”

“Fine, I’ll just pick this up, and this, and this… I’ll put that here, and those there. Yes, now this sweater… Hey, where do I put the bag?”

“Bag? What bag?”

“This one: red, small… quite heavy, to be honest. What did you put inside, rocks? Ha Ha!”

“I’m sorry, I might have misunderstood. Did you say you found a bag?”

“Yeah, a bag. It was right here, and…”

“Very funny.”

“Excuse me?”

“No, really, it’s hilarious. You just happened to find a bag, right now.”

“I… don’t understand. What is it with the bag?”

“The assignment! The bloody assignment! Write a story about someone finding a bag. Whoever thought of that? It isn’t even a proper prompt, it is… it is… I don’t know, but it’s not a nice word. And then you come here, you want to help, and you just… find a bag? Come on!”

“I don’t know what to say. I just found this small red bag under your sweater – which belongs in the laundry, if I may tell the truth. I had no idea what your assignment was, but this is a neat coincidence. Is it yours?”

“What? That thing? Nope. I have no idea whose it is.”

“Aren’t you curios? Don’t you want to open it and find out what there is inside?”

“Not at all. Who cares? You found the bag, the story’s told. Let’s go have a drink, and forget the tea, I mean something stronger.”

“You’re weird.”

“Is it a yes?”

“Of course it’s a yes! Let’s uncork a bottle of wine!”

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the task is a story about “someone finding a bag.” This week’s contribution comes from Phil Yeats.

In December 2018, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/. He’s currently working on a saga about the hazards of ignoring climate change.

*****

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

by Phil Yeats

He scanned the three cardboard boxes arrayed on the grass between the sidewalk and the street. Each bore the word free in large black letters. The first box contained a coffee maker and an assortment of kitchen utensils. The second overflowed with paperback books. Box three, a sturdy-looking cloth bag amongst a mishmash of junk.

It was a large computer case with a shoulder strap and a carrying handle. He recognized the type produced years earlier when the first portable computers appeared on the market. Those devices were large and heavy, more like trans-portables than portables. Their carrying bags were utilitarian, constructed from sturdy synthetic materials.

He pulled it from the box and gave it a cursory inspection. It showed little sign of wear. He slung it over his shoulder and carried it home.

He used his newly acquired satchel five days a week for the next thirty years. It carried his laptop, various notes and computations on loose sheets, and documents and textbooks he needed for his active project to and from his place of work. A distinct improvement of his previous habit of carrying a lot of loose material into the office.

On each of those 7500 mornings, he climbed the stairs to his third-floor office in a government office building. Managers come and went as each climbed the institutional ladder. His job never changed.

He investigated technical problems assigned by his program manager and assessed the data before reporting his results. He fed his reports with their supporting documents up the chain of command and took the Queen’s coin. His recompense was adequate to meet his needs, and he lacked the ambition to strive for more responsible and higher paying positions.

After reports left his desk, he rewarded himself with coffees before turning to his next problem. He never encountered a shortage of problems awaiting his attention.

Nothing changed until he submitted his final report on his retirement day. When he did so, no problem awaited his attention. He returned his most recent laptop to computer support and his reference books to the library. Everything else went for recycling. He grabbed his trusty satchel, empty for the first time in thirty years, and descended the stairs for the last time. No one noticed his departure.

In his apartment, he placed the forlorn-looking bag on a hook at the back of his coat closet and turned his attention to new challenges he set for himself. This departure from a routine established thirty-five years earlier didn’t alter his life. He investigated problems that came to his attention and reported the results in letters to the newspaper. After dropping his letters in the mailbox, he rewarded himself with coffees at his neighbourhood café. Complimentary newspapers he read at the café provided the fodder for his next investigations.

Years later, he shuffled off this mortal coil. When the apartment manager cleaned out the old man’s apartment, he found the old computer bag hanging from a hook in his coat closet. It had been hanging there, unused, since his old tenant retired.

He took it down and gave it a cursory inspection. Useful, he thought, as he slung it over his shoulder.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘The Bag’ by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the task is to use the topic “someone finds a bag.” This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie.

Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

MISTER WOLFE, the darkly dark (18+) sequel, is now available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1927529689

MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series, is scheduled for release in 2022.

***

THE BAG

by Cathy MacKenzie

“What’s that?” I ask James, my seven-year-old brother, who just straightened up after picking something off the ground.

“I dunno. A bag of something.” He thrusts it out as if it’s a prize. “It’s pretty, eh?”

“Yeah, okay. I guess. It’s a pretty blue. And brown.” Blue’s my fav colour. I laugh. “Maybe you should open it. Might be jewels you can give Mom.” Our mother’s birthday is coming up in less than a week. We usually make her something special. “Homemade’s best,” Mom always spouts.

Every year, I wrack my brains trying to figure out what to make her. Most times, my self-perceived “treasures” are epic fails, but I’ve never been that desperate that I’ve resorted to picking up discarded bags holding who knows what.

He peers at the small bag, turning it every which way. It’s the size of sandwich bags Mom uses for our school lunches. But those bags are clear.

“Doesn’t look like much,” he says. “Don’t think there’s jewels inside.”

I laugh. “Nah, not jewels.”

He examines it again. “Nothing’s moving. Nothing alive. Kinda lumpy.”

I keep a straight face. “On second thought, don’t open it. It’s bulbs, and they don’t grow very good if they’re disturbed.”

“Really? Do you think that’s what this is? Bulbs?” He looks at me, waiting for an answer.

I smile. “I can almost guarantee it. Can’t you see the dirt covering them? You know how Mom loves gardening. That’d be a good birthday present.”

I can’t resist adding, “I wish I’d found something spectacular like that. You’re so lucky, James.”

He smiles. His eyes light up like icicles shining in the sun in winter. “Really?”

“Yeah. You’re lucky, for sure.”

“You really think they’re bulbs?”

“Yeah, pretty sure. I bet someone lost it. Probably after being at Nelson’s Nurseries.” I point ahead, to the trail winding in between the trees. “You know, now that I think about it, I saw an older lady walking ahead of us a bit ago. She had a whack of them. She must’ve dropped one of them.”

James glances at the bag and then at me. “Ya think? I really want to give Mom a nice present.”

“Yeah, that’s what happened. Let’s go home. I’ll sneak into her stash of wrapping paper and find something pretty you can use to wrap it up.”

His grin takes over his face. “Yeah, let’s do that.”

I cover my mouth to stifle my giggles. They’re more than giggles. Huge guffaws if I let them loose. Stupid James. Does he really think the bag is full of bulbs? It’s all I can do to remain silent.

Carlson County recently introduced a dog bylaw. Everyone must pick up after their dogs. The corner store sells those little blue bags. I thought them cute when I first saw them. Asked Mom to buy some for our lunches. “No, dear,” she said. “They’re for dog poop.”

I can’t wait for Mom’s birthday. I’ll laugh my head off when she opens James’ gift. James is her favourite. He never does anything wrong—in her eyes, that is. I bet she’ll change her tune at a bag of dog poop, though. Ha ha

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

‘Iterations in the back of a minivan during a pandemic’ by Val Muller

Welcome to The Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is “someone finds a bag.” Today’s post comes to you from Val Muller, author of the kidlit mystery series (find out more at www.corgicapers.com). The timing of this is serendipitous, as a year ago today was the last “normal” day before schools closed for nearly a year. 

Iterations in the back of a minivan during a pandemic

By Val Muller

School’s closed.

Online learning?

Maybe. But not today.

The district’s figuring it out.

Me? I’d better drop the kids—

While daycare is still open for business—

And then head west,

Over the mountain,

To the county that hasn’t closed yet,

Where panic is still on its way.

Hit up the Walmart there.

Make sure not to forget anything.

Take the van. That way I can fit everything.

What is “everything?”

I think of feeding family,

Of fruit cups and juice boxes,

Of boxed pastas and shelf-stables.

I think of an apocalypse.

I do not think of toilet paper.

Another customer fills a cart

With 12 gallons of milk

And the rest, Pepsi.

What kind of apocalypse are they expecting?

I do not think

Of sidewalk chalk

Or hand sanitizer,

Of coloring books or boredom busters.

My mind fills with

The Walking Dead,

But without the zombies.

Food, food is what we need.

I’d best head home, unload the van,

And organize the freezer.

In the fearful months,

When no one yet understands,

The van’s automatic door

Becomes the gateway to the world:

Order online, curbside pickup.

“Pop your trunk,” the instructor always says,

From a phone or from ten feet away,

Masked.

With gloved hands, they push the automatic button

To close the door

On our precious supplies,

While my then-four-year-old

Soaks it all in.

School is online now,

But optional.

What student would attend optional school,

During a pandemic,

When the work doesn’t count?

And so I spend days with tots—

Now out of daycare, closed—

And nights planning lessons

And grading papers

For the handful of students

Who pretend things are normal.

Sometimes, when we feel extra risky,

And can’t stand another moment at home,

We buy takeout

And drive somewhere,

Have a picnic

In the back of the minivan.  

The weather temperate,

We venture out,

One parent going into the store.

Who is most expendable?

Who must we watch carefully for the next two weeks

To see if they succumb?

Two weeks of nerves

That will only repeat about 15 days later,

When we must venture out again.

Sometimes we all come along for the ride

On those days when we cannot spend another hour

At home,

When we just need a reminder that the rest of the world

Still exists.

And we pass a restaurant,

Give a little nod,

And order curbside,

Drive to the end of the parking lot,

Pop the back door open,

Our family picnic.

Through that open hatch we watch

Sunsets,

Firetrucks,

Ants,

Seasons,

Our growing children.

We find all the hidden cupholders

The makers of the Odyssey

Must have one day imagined

Could hold all the cups

Of a family

Picnicking during a pandemic.

We find the one cache

The former owners had not cleared out,

Containing a yellow hair tie

And a marble.

The nooks of the van

Become caves and mountains

For puppy figures

And racetracks for cards.

And then we clean it up again

And return home.

The world steps toward Open.

Schools would count this time, this August.

No, make that September—

We need more time.

I will teach from home, but how—

With Little Ones?

Broken heart watches child mask up,

Mask hiding smile,

Skipping back to preschool

Knowing only the happiness of friends

And not the Dangers that worry parents.

Driving home without them,

The first time alone in months:

Zen.

But lonely.

So back to the minivan,

Picnic blanket spread,

This time for the dogs.

Want to go for a ride?

Skeptical at first after all the time home,

They soon expect it, their Daily Ride.

Vaccines and promises:

The world steps toward Open.

Students return,

But is it Safe—really safe—

In the building,

A building older than grandparents,

Designed more for air raids

Than pandemics?

Is the tiny air filter in the corner

Our generation’s Duck and Cover?

At lunch, teachers pass in the hall,

A quick gesture or masked smile

Hiding sadness of memories:

A packed workroom, laughter, stories, jokes,

Sharing of food, the old days.

Then we head to our cars to eat,

Alone,

Or to a closed room,

Remembering that isolation

Is the worst of the side effects.

I take the pillow out of my milkcrate,

Place laptop on milkcrate desk,

Sit.

This is my life now.

Worried and lonely,

A terrible lottery:

Never knowing when my number will be called

To cover for a sick teacher

Or to bring germs home to my family.

As I stop to stretch in a space that seems so large

With just me and a laptop,

I find a bag from that burger place,

The one we went to months ago

For a picnic.

We had gotten the kids each a toy:

Plastic bow and arrows and a monster truck.

He raced the truck around the contours of the van

While she shot arrows into the peaceful bushes.

I ache for my family,

But why, when for so many months

I wished for solitude?

Inside the bag: a pink puppy superhero

And her pink motorcycle.

It has been missing for months.

The kids will be relieved she is safe—

But maybe I shouldn’t tell them.

I place her in one of the cupholders,

Her motorcycle in another.

Maybe soon there will be another picnic,

Another chance to savor the small things,

To take in all the details,

Instead of rushing through endless Daily Grind.

And on that day, they will find their lost pup

And the magic of childhood once more,

In the back of the van.

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/