Classic Art Series, Short Stories

Classic Art Series: 5 – Freda


Camille Pissaro, “The Artist’s Garden at Eragny” 1898 – Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

Freda pulled another weed from the garden and then stood to rub her back. Another long hot day… I’m ready for some lemonade. I wonder if the painters are too?

She picked up her weed bucket and headed toward the house. She dumped the weeds in the trash receptacle, dropped the bucket next to the step below the kitchen door and entered the shady coolness. Freda gathered some lemons, sugar and a pitcher and proceeded to squeeze the lemons. That’s a good day’s work. The pain in my back proves it and should help me sleep well tonight. She hummed to herself as she worked. I wonder how Jeb’s doing. I’ll drop the lemonade off to the artists and then bring him a glass. Might even get a hug for my effort.

Freda stopped to chat with the three artists in residence for the week as she poured them each a glass of the cool tart lemonade. When Jeb had retired from his English professorship at a university upstate, they bought this small bed and breakfast. It had been a financial struggle to repair everything broken or run down when they moved in. Not quite in the city, and not quite on the coast, they had few guests registered those first few years.

One day, as Freda had been perusing a literary magazine, she had an epiphany – to advertise it as a quiet country residence for writers and artists. Since then, word had spread like wildfire and they kept a steady business – especially in the summer. They usually booked out their rooms by the week, nine or ten months in advance.

Freda and Jeb offered a clean quiet home with a full breakfast and an hors d’oeuvres cocktail hour every evening. Often, guests would call a cab or borrow their bicycles to ride the ten minutes to town for lunch or to see the sites if they didn’t have their own vehicle. Guests were lucky to taste the rich vegetables that Freda grew in the garden, which was her pride and joy. 

Both Freda and Jeb considered themselves lucky, now that they had a steady business. It afforded them an opportunity for a weekly vacation away every year, and also allowed Jeb the free time to paint, which had been his dream since boyhood. Freda walked to the studio now with a glass of lemonade, taking in the sun reflecting off the windows and wiping her brow.

“Hello, my dear,” said Jeb, when she opened the door. “My, but you are a welcome sight with that lemonade.” He picked the glass from her hand and took a long swallow. “Mmm…just what I needed.”

Freda studied the portrait on the easel. “Who is that? And why have you painted her into a mermaid?”

Jeb chuckled at Freda’s sarcastic tone. “Don’t worry, love. It’s just a mermaid – no one in particular.”

Freda let out a long sigh. “I’m not sure why you think it necessary to paint all those fantastical portraits you paint. Why can’t you just paint the landscape. There’s so much beautiful land and country here, and the scene constantly changes with the seasons. You can even catch different creatures like deer and raccoons to put in the paintings.”

Jeb laughed, “Oh, Freda, there’s not much imagination in that, now, is there?”

Freda looked abashed. I don’t know why he so greatly values imagination, but it makes him happy, so I’ll try to be understanding. She pecked his cheek, gave a small wave and headed back to the kitchen.


“Freda,” said Jeb, six months later. “Let’s open presents.”

Freda laughed. “Oh, Jeb! You’re just like a little boy at Christmastime!”

She picked up a gift box from under their large Christmas tree and went to sit in her rocking chair in front of the fireplace, holding the gift in her lap. Jeb followed suit, sitting next to her in his own rocker. They both sat quietly for a moment, listening to the pop of the fire and admiring the twinkling lights on the tree. They never booked guests over Christmas week, instead keeping their pretty property quiet that one week per year for themselves.

“Well, I guess I’ll go first,” said Freda, handing Jeb the box. He opened it slowly and carefully, savoring the amount of preparation that had gone into the pretty packaging.

Lifting the box top he exclaimed, “Oh, Freda! These are perfect!” Jeb lifted three fine paint brushes. “They must’ve cost a pretty penny; however did you afford these?”

“I’ve been saving a little here and there this year. They are sable,” she answered shyly.

“My love, you always manage to surprise me. They are so soft, they almost feel too precious to use.”

Freda laughed. “You’d better use them! That’s what I bought them for, and I know you’ll take good care of them, just like you do of me.” Jeb stood and hugged her.

He sat back down in his chair and then pulled his gift box up from the floor where it had been leaning against an end table, and handed it to her.

She studied the wrapping paper and asked,”Did you paint this?” At his nod, she added,”It’s beautiful.” She stroked the paper intently.

“Open it, Freda.”

Freda slid her hand under the tape on the back of the package. She could tell it was a frame from the way her fingers caught on a wire. She gingerly slipped the paper off the edges and let it fall to the floor. Very carefully she turned the frame over.

She lost her breath for a moment. When she regained it she said, “Jeb, this is beautiful.” Tears sprang to her eyes and her hand flew to cover her mouth as she tried to regain her composure.

The painting was a landscape of their bed and breakfast, taken from the angle in front of the garden. In the picture, Freda stood turned toward the sun with a blissful smile on her face.

She continued, “I guess you did find a creature to paint, after all!”

Classic Art Series, Short Stories

Classic Art Series: 4 – August Part 2


Paul Cezanne, “House of Pere Lacroix” 1873 – Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington


There, in all her glorious dark hair, stood Pila d’Arezzo. August lost his voice. The two men looked at each other, one sick from guilt, the other sick from love.

“Hallo, Jackson.” She waved at the barkeeper. “Can I get a beer?”

Eduardo whispered, “What’s she doing here? I never seen her come in here before!”

“Me neither.” August moved to the other side of the booth for a better look.

Pila looked around the room, caught August’s eye and smiled. His throat went dry, but he managed to smile back at her. She thanked Jackson, picked up her mug and walked toward them. August looked swiftly around the room, noticing the lack of patrons.

“Hallo, Eduardo. What’s your friend’s name?”

Eduardo stuttered, “Hallo, Pila. This is August. August, this is Pila.” He looked at August with wide eyes and a slight shake of his head.

August caught Eduardo’s meaning and put a radiant smile on his face. “Won’t you join us?” He slid closer to the wall and she sat down next to him. He could smell her perfume.

She studied him a moment. “Don’t you walk the path every day?”

August’s eyebrows shot up. “Uh, yes I do. I, uh, like to get my exercise.” She’s noticed me.

She nodded. “Yes, that’s good. Say, have either of you seen anyone messing with my garden?”

“That’s an interesting question, why do you ask?” said August.

“Today someone was digging again. I know you do our gardening, Eduardo, but this was on the north side where you don’t work. Bitzy, mi amor perro, found it and almost fell in! I’d hate to have to put up a fence, but I can’t have my baby getting injured. This was the last straw for my parents and they want to put up the fence. I told them I’d come to the village and see what I could find out.”

August looked pointedly at Eduardo. Eduardo shrugged and said nothing.

She continued. “I don’t know what else to do. We may have to put up the fence, but I’d hate it if you couldn’t walk the path, August.” She looked at him with doe eyes.

Eduardo let out a big sigh. “Oh, okay. It was me. Some guy from the city paid me fifty dollars to get this flower for him.” He held the flower out to Pila. She stared blankly at it.

“Have you been the one cutting our flowers, Eduardo?”

“No, but I know who’s doing it. That guy hired a couple other guys to get this flower before he asked me. They didn’t know what they were doing and kept bringing him the wrong flowers.”

Pila just stared at Eduardo. She didn’t say anything.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am. I can give you the fifty dollars.” He looked sheepish. “Please don’t call the police.” His head hung low.

She looked at August. He shrugged a shoulder.

“Do you think this is done, Eduardo?”

“I don’t know, Ma’am. If the guy doesn’t get the flower, he may come back.”

She didn’t say anything for a moment and then, “I’ll tell you what. If you help me catch him, I won’t tell the police you took it first. Just plant it back where you found it and then call him and tell him you’ve changed your mind, but that if he wants it, he can get it himself. Tell him we will be gone this evening. I’ll call the police and they can wait for him.”

Eduardo nodded.

“August, will you walk back with me?” August nodded. They stood up, said goodbye to Eduardo, waved at Jackson and left the bar.

“So…” began Pila. “How do you like the pond?”

August felt his face flush. “It’s lovely. The scenery around it is so pretty this time of year.”

“I’m not usually forward, but do you think you’d like to have a coffee with me some time?”

Butterflies erupted in August’s stomach. “Yes. Yes, I’d like that very much.”

Classic Art Series, Short Stories

Classic Art Series: 4 – August Part 1


Paul Cezanne, “House of Pere Lacroix” 1873 – Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

August peered over the pond. What is she doing now? I can’t see her through the trees anymore. Autumn needs to come fast so the leaves fall. I need to see my beloved again.

Every day August strolled the walking path that tread from the center of the village, to the outskirts of town and then across the d’Arezzo estate. The d’Arezzo family had allowed villagers to walk the path into the forest for almost a hundred years, but August had recently heard they may soon revoke the privilege.  Destruction of the estate’s large gardens had occurred on several occasions and even with complaints lodged to the village council, the desecration had continued.

August walked the path to try to see the d’Arezzo’s daughter, Pila; but he also wanted to keep an eye out and perhaps even capture the criminals. If he did, Pila might think him a hero and take notice of him. He walked the path every day, yet she had only waved to him once. I wonder if she knows I walk to see her. I walk to protect her.

As he stared across the pond, he saw a rustling in the small scraggly trees on the opposite side of the pond. His heart leapt. Might she be walking to the pond? How should I stand? Should I lean against this tree? Should I pretend I don’t see her? 

A red plaid covered elbow came through the tall grass. August ducked behind a bush. The rest of the man soon followed the elbow through the scraggly trees. He carried one lone flower, roots and all. He walked along the edge of the pond to where a wheelbarrow rested, constantly scanning the area. The man put the pink flower in a tan mesh sack, laid it gently in the wheelbarrow and covered it with some other foliage. Then he picked up the wheelbarrow and whistled as he pushed it back through the scrub.

What was that about? August hurried deeper into the trees further along the path, to where he could look down the estate’s long driveway. He kept himself hidden in the trees and waited. Within a few minutes an old rusty truck with a bunch of gardening tools in the bed drove out from the main house. As the truck passed, August saw the driver – Eduardo! What is he doing?

August headed back toward town on the path, thoughts roiling around in his head. He was thirsty from the walk, so when he was back in the center of the village, instead of going up to his flat he stopped at the pub for a beer. When he walked in, he felt eyes on him.

“Hallo, August!” Jackson, the barkeeper, called. August nodded and took a seat at the bar. “You wanna pint?” Again August nodded.

Jackson watched him take a long pull from the mug. “You alright, hefe?”

August surveyed his surroundings. The few patrons paid him no attention, but his head paused mid-swing at the two men in the corner. “What’s Eduardo doin’ over there?”

“Dunno.” Jackson shrugged, drying a glass. “Why? Why don’t you go ask him? You’ve known him since primary school.”

“Who’s the guy with him?”

“Dunno.” Jackson shrugged again and put the glass up on a shelf. “You want me to go ask him?” Jackson laughed and shook his head. “It’s no my business. I keep to myself.”

August stared at Jackson. Maybe I will go ask him. For Pila. He stood up, nodded at Jackson, picked up his mug and walked toward the table.

“Hey, Eduardo! How’s it goin’ man?” August clapped a hand on Eduardo’s back and slid into the booth next to him. He held his hand out to the man across the table, dressed in fine clothes. “Hallo, what’s your name, amigo? You no from around here, eh?”

The man looked at August’s hand but did not take it, so he let it drop. The man glared at Eduardo.

“Hey, August. I’m kinda busy,” said Eduardo, his smile not quite reaching his eyes.

“Yeah,” August said, nodding and smiling. “I see you made a new friend here.” August saw the mesh sack sitting next to Eduardo on the booth bench. “What you got there?” He pointed at the sack.

“Oh, that’s nothin’. Just something I picked up at work today.”

“Oh yeah? Where you workin’ now?”

“Uh, I work up at the big house. Doin’ a bit of gardening.”

“That right? I didn’t know that. How long you been workin’ up there, man?” August turned to Jackson. “Hey Jackson, bring us a round, will you?”

Eduardo raised his hand and waved at Jackson. “No man, I got to go.” The other man glared at Eduardo, got up and left the pub.

“Hey, August, you gotta let me out, man.”

“Eduardo, we been friends a long time, no?”

Eduardo nodded and shrugged. “So?”

“Did you take something that does no belong to you?”

Eduardo’s eyebrows shot up before guilt covered his face. He squinted, quickly recovering. “What you talkin’ about?”

August glared at him. “I saw you take something up there and put it in your barrow, man.”

Eduardo’s eyes closed and he let out a long sigh. “Aw, man. You did? You saw me?” At August’s nod, he continued. “That guy out there,” he threw a thumb toward the front door, “he paid me fifty bucks to get him this flower. I figured, hey, what the heck. It’s only one flower, right?”

“Eduardo, if that guy is paying you fifty bucks, it’s probably worth a lot more than that, right? I mean, he looks like he’s from the city. He’s got those expensive clothes and not a nice face.”

The bell above the door jingled. August watched Eduardo’s face pale as he saw who entered the pub. August turned.

To be continued…


Classic Art Series, Short Stories

Classic Art Series: 3 – Roderick


Claude Monet, “Woman with a Parasol” 1875 – Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

“Thank you, Ma’am, for letting me sketch you. I will take my sketch home and paint it out. It should be ready for you to pick up by next Wednesday.” The woman nodded. Roderick handed her a note card with a fake address on it. He bowed formally to her and then watched her walk away with her son. He pocketed the coins she gave him.

That was quite convenient. Maybe I should sit in parks during the afternoon more often. She wasn’t rude to me at all. And she didn’t slap me just for offering. He looked at the sketch. This should build up my pocket just fine. I’m sure I can copy it several times and sell it as I walk through the rest of Virginia. Ladies and gents are usually sympathetic to a man who’s lost his dear dear wife and son.

Roderick put his sketch book and cedar pencil in his breast coat pocket as he stood up. He straightened his hat, pulled at his lapels and began walking. He had a tent on the outskirts of town and needed to change from his fancy clothes before they began to stink. It was another hot day. Oh, I can’t handle this heat all summer. He tugged at his collar.

Maybe I should head north after I pick up more pencils in Tennessee. I hear it’s cooler up there. He put his hand in his coin pocket and jangled it. It has been a productive week here, but I think it’s time to go. Never too long in one place.

“Hey there! You!”

Roderick turned around slowly, placing a big plastic smile on his face.

“It’s me! James Merriwether. I wonder how you’re coming along on my wife’s portrait?”

“Oh, hello, Mr. Merriwether. Well, it’s a good thing you spotted me. I’ve had an issue with my paints and I am missing a particular yellow that I need to finish it. I was actually just on my way to the general store to see if they carry it. Seems this is a pretty big town and I shouldn’t have to order it.”

Merriwether nodded in understanding, but raised an eyebrow. “Aw, that’s too bad. I was hoping to come by your house and get a glimpse?” He nudged Roderick with his elbow.

“Yes, that is indeed too bad.” Roderick put on his sad face. “Well, it’s been good to see you. Perhaps you could give me ’til Tuesday to finish? That is, if the shop has the paint.”

Merriwether looked at the ground. “Why, that is distinctly disappointing. But, alas, what can I do. I will come by Tuesday lunch to pick up the portrait.” With a lift of his hat and a nod he walked on.

I’d better get a move on. I really do need to get to Shelbyville for pencils. I’m getting a little too old for this game. Maybe with all the traveling I do, Zeb will give me some to sell. Humph. That’s it. I’ll try to sell the pencils. Maybe try to make an honest living for a change. 


Classic Art Series, Short Stories

Classic Art Series: 2-Cicely


Paul Cezanne, “Harlequin” 1890 – Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

Cicely held her paintbrush aloft as she stared at the model dressed in the harlequin costume. Hmm… What scene should I put him in? I can’t believe I’m having so much trouble with this assignment. It’s been at least twenty minutes and I haven’t thought of a thing. It must be his eyes… they’re so sad.

He glanced at her. She blushed, quickly averting her eyes to look at her blank canvas. Oh, he caught me staring! That is so embarrassing. What do I do now? She tapped her brush against the easel. Mr. Kanton cleared his throat. She stopped tapping and peeked around her canvas. The model was looking back at the floor again.

Whew. What am I so worried about anyway? Staring at the model is what we’re here for, right? To look at and paint the model. Well, maybe not stare at the model. And maybe do some actual painting. She chuckled softly.

“Something funny, Ms. James?” her teacher croaked, arching a furry eyebrow at her.

“Um, no, sorry, Mr. Kanton.” She blushed again, and stared back at her blank canvas.

Cicely parked her brush between her teeth, folding one arm under the other. I wonder if he does this a lot. How can he stand there for several hours in the same position? Do his legs cramp up? I wonder if he has another job? Maybe he’s a student too, like me. The model caught her again.

This time she did not look away. Instead, she stood a little taller and dipped her brush in paint. She glanced at the canvas and made a black stroke. Then she glanced back at the model. Harlequin winked. She made another stroke on her canvas, this one smearing sideways. She grabbed a paper towel and tried to swipe away the paint. Her face burned. Did he just wink at me?

She peeked around her canvas again.

“Ms. James?” said Mr. Kanton from behind her. She jerked, putting another glob on her canvas. Holy cow, I didn’t even hear him walk up behind me! “You seem to be having a problem today. Can I help with anything?”

“Um, no thanks. I’m just trying to figure out which scene to put him in.”

Mr. Kanton cleared his throat. “Well, from the look of this canvas, it appears you’re going to be sacrificing him on a cross.” He raised his eyebrow at her.

Quickly thinking while trying to save herself some humiliation she answered, “Yes, yes, I am.”

She glanced at the model. Harlequin smirked at her. She dropped her brush. Paint spattered across the floor.

“Ms. James. Why don’t you go ahead and pack up for today. You are causing quite a distraction to my other pupils. We will see you again on Thursday.”

Cicely dropped her brush in the mason jar half filled with water, and then wiped up the paint from the floor. Her face blazed as she packed up her paints. Wasn’t even any reason to unpack them today. What is wrong with me? She could feel all eyes on her, especially Harlequin’s. She dare not look at anyone as she walked to the locker wall where she stored her items. She turned the lock back and forth until it clicked open, thrust her apron and paints inside and clutched her bag. Turning abruptly around, she smacked into Harlequin. He slipped a card into her bag.

“Mr. Thomas! Get back into position!” roared Mr. Kanton.

Harlequin winked at her and turned away.

Cicely fled.

Classic Art Series, Short Stories

Classic Art Series: 1 – Sarah


Auguste Renoir, “Oarsmen at Chatou” 1879 – Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington


“Don’t go out again!” Sarah called, as she stood on the bank stomping her boot, hiking up her skirt. She looked at her boots and tried to kick the mud off.

“Oh, dear, leave the boy alone,” said Daniel, her husband, waving at the boy to go ahead. He winked at her. “He’ll be back in time for dinner, and the exercise is good for him.” Daniel stuck his hands in his coat pockets, searching for his tobacco pack.

“Don’t fret so, Sarah, the boy is proud of what he’s made. Can’t say I’m not a little bit pleased with it myself.  He was fair easy to teach,” her father said, watching the boy paddle further from the shoreline. “I’m sure she’s water tight and he won’t have any problems.”

“Yes, but Dad, he’s too young to be going all over the river on his own. You should have made it a two-seater, then you or Daniel could have gone out with him.” She saw Daniel shake his head and turn back toward the house. She stared after him.

“He’ll be fine. Why, I was what, half his age, when I went down to the river fishing on my own. My mother never fret so.” He patted her shoulder. “Now, now there. It’ll be alright, my girl.” They both turned and started walking toward the house.

“Well, if you think so.” She sighed. “I’d better check on dinner.”

“This ole’ man has built up an appetite!” Sarah laughed as he patted his belly.


Sarah heard shouts. She dropped the hot dish she had just pulled from the oven onto the stove top and ran to look out the window. Several men were gathered at the river bank. Daniel ran down the hill toward the crowd and her father trotted after him. She quickly untied her apron, threw it on the table and followed them, slamming the screen door so hard it opened back up and stood slightly ajar.

Sarah ran. Oh that boy! I knew something would happen to him. I just knew it!

Coming upon the group of men, she pushed her way through, relieved when she saw her son. She clutched him to her chest, squeezing him tightly.

“Ma! Let go!”

Sarah pushed him back and searched his face. She held his face tightly, cheeks squishing through fingers in both hands.


“Sarah, let the boy go,” said Daniel, pulling her hands away from their son’s face. “He’s fine. But look what he found.” He pointed at a huge fish laying on the beach. She looked at it, then around at all the men, confused. She looked back at the fish and noticed it had fins on its top side.

“What is that?” she asked incredulously.

Her father was the first to answer. “Why, I do believe it’s an old bull shark. I seen them down in Louisiana when I was traveling around selling insurance. I don’t know how it got so far north, though.” Her father shook his head, still studying the creature. It’s tail flapped, smacking the sand loudly.

“Can you eat it?” she asked.

He shook his head. “I don’t think you’d want to. How you gonna filet it? It’s too big. Look at its teeth. It could bite ya.”

She laughed nervously. “Well, I’m not going to filet it.” She turned to her son. “How’d you catch that anyway?”

“I didn’t. It followed me in my boat. It made me nervous, so I paddled back to shore. Luckily, I got back first and was able to jump out and pull my boat up; but Ma, the thing threw itself right at me. That’s how come its on the shore!”

“Oh, my…” Sarah threw her hands to her face. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yes, Ma. What should I do with it?” They both turned toward Daniel. He lifted his pipe and shrugged. All three looked at Sarah’s father.

“Anyone got a hammer? We could try to eat it. I figure if we all hold it down, maybe we can all have a bit.” The few surrounding men started mumbling in agreement.

“Oh my, dinner!” Sarah turned and ran back to the house. When she walked into the kitchen, there stood a sheep. She screamed, “Daniiiiieeeellll!”

HL Pic Series, Short Stories

HL Pic Series: 12 – Hannah


Hannah strolled amongst the flowers, brushing her hand across soft petals as she walked on route to the market. She knew she was late for her shift, but she also knew Rolf would not fire her. She had been late almost every day since she began working there the previous summer.

Rolf loved her. She could tell. She smiled at customers all day as she handed out samples of new products. Every time Rolf came by, he smiled at her. His eyes would not leave her face until he had to turn the corner. He made her giggle.

His attention made her feel pretty, so sometimes she dressed up. On those days she wore heels, even though her feet needed ice packs when she arrived home after work. One day, maybe I’ll ask Rolf to give me a ride home on his Vespa. Then I will have a reason to put my arms around him.

She held her arms out in front of her in a circle, pretending they were sneaking their way around Rolf’s belly. It wasn’t small, he had a paunch. She swayed from side to side. She didn’t mind.

She didn’t mind that his brown hair with silver slices was thinning on top, either. Or that sometimes she would spot a bit of mayonnaise or gravy on his tie. Those things didn’t bother her. She worked hard to take care of her invalid mother and bedridden aunt, and she knew those things happened with age. She wouldn’t mind when he began to complain of creaking bones or aching joints either. I could take care of him.

She spun in a circle, dreamy thoughts taking over. We could go for a walk holding hands. Maybe he will take me to the beach. Or to an Italian restaurant where we feed each other spaghetti. Or he may take me for ice cream. I will wipe away the little bit that drops onto his chin.

I just have to finish this last year of high school.

Realizing she was almost to the market door, she shook herself. She knew she shouldn’t think about him like that. He was married after all.

But his wife was mean. Maybe he will leave her.

She plastered a smile on her face and entered the market.


HL Pic Series, Short Stories

HL Pic Series: 11 – Laney


Laney backed slowly away from the birch patch, keeping her eyes upon the wolf. She knew the pack was probably close and did not want this mama to feel threatened and begin howling and growling. If she alerted the pack, Laney would surely be their lunch.

She had glimpsed four pups suckling mama before the wolf had spotted her and stood. I am very lucky the wind wasn’t coming from the other direction or the whole pack would be here by now.

Laney wanted to be a park ranger. This camping trip had been an experiment for herself and a test for the ranger service. She needed to know how to leave the park in the same condition it was in when she had arrived by helicopter drop, find her way out and most especially, survive. She had received a diploma from an online ranger school before the acceptance letter into a national park training course arrived in the mail. The course taught her a few emergency service procedures, how to interact with local wildlife species, low-level plant biology and survival techniques. All this, so that she could host tours through the mountains.

After four nights in, she had about reached her limit. Her hair was limp and tangled, she was getting low on water, and she stunk. I didn’t sign on so that I could be alone. I want to be with people. In nature. Yeah, sure, I learned about bears, raccoons, wolves, mountain lions and such, but I did not expect to see them all during this week! I guess they are just as curious about me as I am about them.

She looked at the wolf again. The wolf stared back at her. Laney felt an unusual sensation. Laney’s steps slowed and then stopped. As their eyes stayed glued upon one another, Laney felt the wolf acknowledge her. The wolf recognized that she was another living creature to be respected. A woman. A breeder. A mother. A sacred creator of life.

Laney’s eyes welled with tears and she sniffed. She nodded at the wolf and sensed the wolf’s relief when it began to lay again for her pups. Laney finally turned her back to the wolf. She ventured in a wide arc around the little family, checking her compass as she went. Her steps were lighter.



HL Pic Series

HL Pic Series: 10 – Kami


Kami stared out the window overlooking the park and sighed.

Another hazy day in the city. I just want to get outside and go for a walk. When will this rain ever quit? Twenty-three straight days of rain. I want to go meet up with the crew at Timber’s and I would rather ride my bike than take the subway. Jackie will probably be there. I should text her and tell her to bring my jacket, that would at least help protect my clothes from the drizzle. If I don’t get some exercise soon, I’m going to explode. If I were still back home in Pensacola, it wouldn’t be so rainy, but then I’d have to deal with humidity six months out of the year anyway. Well, maybe it would rain, but it wouldn’t be so dreary.

She sighed again and put on a sweatshirt, then she texted her friend as she left and locked her apartment. She walked down the hallway and pushed the elevator button. As she stood there waiting, the red-lit exit sign at the end of the hallway caught her eye. I could take the stairs. It’s only 15 floors and it would be good exercise.

Making the decision, she started down. By the second set of steps she began to feel woozy and sick. What did my ballet teacher say? Pick a point on the wall and stare at that to help against the nausea. 

When she had descended eight flights, waves of nausea overcame her. She had to stop. She sat on the bottom step, leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. She heard one of the doors open and slam. Her eyes shot open. Her heart skipped a beat and her stomach jumped. She slowly stood up and looked up but saw nothing. She looked down and saw a man wearing a knit cap and hoodie jogging up the steps.

Kami panicked. She first looked one way, and then another. Her mind froze, and so did her body. The steps grew louder. Her stomach heaved.

Kami bent and emptied the contents of her stomach onto the platform. The steps stopped. She heard a muttered, “Oh, gross,” and retreating steps. She swiped at her mouth and breathed a sigh of relief as she sat back down on the stairs, pulling out her phone. She texted her friend. I’m not coming.

Kami caught a whiff of the vomit and her stomach heaved again. She picked herself up off the step, opened the door and cautiously peered around it before entering the carpeted hallway.

She walked toward the elevator and pushed the button, scanning from side to side as slowly as possible because her head was pounding. She wanted to make sure no one had seen her enter. Nobody needs to know that I vomitted in the stairway.

Ding! The elevator doors opened. There stood the man in the hoodie and knit cap. Kami’s vision darkened.

When she awoke, she was staring at a dirty hall wall and her head was groggy. She shook it, then clutched at her stomach again.

“You’d better sit still for a bit. You took a nasty fall,” said a velvety voice.

Kami turned to look into the darkest brown eyes she had ever seen. She could not find her voice so she nodded as she continued to stare.

The man squatted on his heels and shifted his weight from one to the other, fidgeting his hands. He looked around. “Well, I, uh…”

Kami put up a hand and waved him away. “It’s ok… I’ll be fine.”

“You sure?”

She nodded. He stood up, looked at her doubtfully and pressed the elevator button. She tried to get up. He grabbed her elbow to steady her, looking skeptical as she stood.

Ding. They both entered the elevator.

“What floor?” the man asked.

Oh, crap! Should I tell him? Is he a murderer? Kami’s stomach lurched again and she grabbed at it. “Fifteen.”

He looked at her funny. “That’s my floor too.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Really? I’ve never seen you up there.”

“I work nights over at the Marriott. I’m night manager there, so I sleep mostly during the day.”

“I stay up late to paint.”

“Walls?” he asked.

She laughed. “No, I paint landscapes.” Ding. The elevator doors popped open and they both stepped out. “I’m Kami.” She held out her hand.

He just looked at it. “Um, I think I’ll pass on shaking. I saw you in the stairwell; I don’t want to catch anything.”

Kami’s face burned.

“I’m Ben. I’ll see you around.” He turned and walked to the opposite end of the hallway, opened a door and entered.

Watching him the whole time, she suddenly realized she was no longer nauseous. Dang anxiety got me again! She shuffled slowly back to her apartment and laid down to take a nap.

HL Pic Series, Short Stories

HL Pic Series: 9-Sheila


Sheila grasped her sweater around her shoulders and her stomach grumbled as she stared out past the dock. Randy was not home on time again. The crab legs she made for dinner were already cold. Good thing I snuck a couple while I was cooking.

The wind was picking up and the light was disappearing on this cloudy day. Not too long before, the weatherman had said a storm was only about thirty miles off shore. I wish he’d get home. Probably down at Sami’s having a drink. I hope he calls me for a ride and leaves the boat.

Sheila went in the house to call the pub.


Sheila recognized Jessica, a young lady working over her summer college break.

“Hi, Jessica. Is Randy there, at the bar?”

“Sorry, what? I can’t hear you. The wind is knocking our shutters closed. Hold on just a sec.” Sheila heard the bumping of the phone and then several bangs.

“Ok,” said Jessica, returning. “What can I do for ya?”

“Jessica, this is Sheila Parks. Is Randy at the bar there?”

“Oh, hi, Mrs. Parks. No, he was here earlier, but he left awhile ago.”

“Do you know how long? He was going to be home by six, but hasn’t made it yet.” She stretched her neck to see out the front window, but snapped her fingers as she realized she had already closed the shutters.

“Oh, hmm… Maybe forty-five minutes or an hour ago? I’m not really sure, sorry.” Sheila could almost see the brunette’s head shaking from side to side. She was a nice kid, but not real good with detail.

“Oh, alright. Thanks anyways.” As Sheila hung up the phone, she heard the front storm door slam closed. She walked around the partial wall and saw a disheveled Randy pushing hard against the wooden front door. Glimpsing the bending palms through a crack before the door closed, she ran and threw herself on her husband, just as the door clicked.

“I’m so glad you’re back. I was worried.”

Randy chuckled and leaned back. “You’re not the only one. It was starting to get a little hairy out there, but, hey, I like this reception.” He winked at her and they both laughed. He glanced at the table then and saw crab legs falling from a bowl. He bowed his head sheepishly. “I’m sorry I’m late. I see the crabs didn’t want to stick around.”

Sheila turned to the table and laughed in surprise as she saw the crab legs. They looked like they were crawling out of the bowl.

“I guess the wind knocked over the bowl!” She squeezed him again. “I’m really glad you’re home. Let’s eat.”