The Uninvited Guests

The Beach was gone, the sky was gone, the guy with the Frisbee and no one to toss it to was gone and the bad tempered lady who had snapped at my dog when he ran up to her wagging his tail  was gone too.

I hope a shark got her.

Right now, at this very second it was just me and my dog and we were standing in the hallway of a dusty  house  and I hoped an empty house. I was hoping it was empty because it looked exactly like my Grandmother’s house.

Nobody went into Grand’s house without an invitation, not even her family

My Grandmother’s house was not a normal house, which made sense because my Grandmother was not normal. Her house was haunted and cursed and she was the reason for all of those things.

My Grandmother is a Witch, you see. And she’s not one of those friendly witches with an herb garden and a black cat with a cute name like Maggie or Cinders.  She’s the kind of witch with  a black dog with yellow snakes eyes and a black goat named Bixby and the last time someone made her really angry it rained toads and the sky turned blood red for almost a week.

” I hope this place only looks like Grand’s House, ” I said to my dog. ” Look, at the top of the stairs to the right. There’s that green door. Just like at her place. There can’t possibly be two of them. Right? I mean, two people or two house like Grand.”

My dog’s name is Hamish and he stopped sniffing at the wall and looked up at me.

” Let’s hope not. ” he said. ” You know what she does to people who show up in her house uninvited.”

” You can talk.” was my answer.

I know my dog is smart and he most certainly is my best friend that I always talk too,  but he doesn’t bark much, let alone been a candidate for the role of a talking dog. He doesn’t even fetch half the time I throw stuff for him and he’s a Retriever for Pete’s sake.

” And you can hear. ” Hamish’s tail fell and his ears swiveled back  which is what always happens when something confuses him.

We stood there looking at each other, trying to decide which one of us was the most amazed.

But we weren’t standing there in amazement for long   because at the top of the stairs somebody sneezed.

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Bancrost Manor: Stories by Me Week One

Before It Gets Dark

 

” This road looks dangerous, doesn’t it. ” he said.

She was walking slightly ahead of him, a woman in long fitted  black fur jacket trimmed along her collar and wrists with light gray lace shaped like  feathers.  Her head  was protected from the cold and the fog by a fluffy brown scarf.

” I mean, it’s a good thing there’s still daylight. Wouldn’t want to be out here when it’s dark. Look at the shape of this pavement, broken to bits and full of ice. It’s dangerous in full daylight. In the dark, well, one false step and whump. Down you go.”

“I’m wondering.” he asked without expecting her to answer, in fact he preferred she keep quiet- for now. ” Do you know  there’s a lake off the path here. It’s pretty deep, I’ve heard. Nobody knows exactly how deep it is. Anything could be down there. You could hide anything down there and keep it hidden pretty much forever.”

She continued to walk in the same measured stride and she continued to not pay any attention to him.

” Yes, daylight is the time to be out here. Before the temperature  drops and the fog rolls in and not only can’t you see but you can’t even walk fast let alone run if something came up on you. Something not friendly. Because. Whump. Down you go.  You could be hurt and alone all night- providing you lasted that long.” He paused. ” In this cold. Well. ”

To his satisfaction- no- to his pleasure he saw her adjust her scarf and she slowed down. Just a little. But that was enough, that was all he needed. He felt positively warm inside and it made the palms of his hands sweaty.

” This little park is no where to be walking alone, especially when it’s cold and the dark and the fog rolls in fast like it is right now. Once daylight is gone, that’s when it’s worse. That’s when the ground opens up and the monsters come out. At night when  you’re all alone.”

She stopped and he saw her drop her scarf  back with shaking hands on either side of her head. He was delighted to see little puffs of her nervous breath frozen and drifting over her shoulder towards him because they had nowhere else to go.

Those small gestures excited him to the center of his bones.

” Are you sure about that? That the monsters only come out at night.” she asked as she turned around carefully so as not to slip on the icy path. ” Are you absolutely sure about that?

 

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Inspired By The Australian Advent Calander: The Bunyip

Glittery Cards and Edible Bugs

Yesterday I found a sealed  box of unsent Christmas cards in my pantry.

On the front of the card was a cute little  Golden Retriever Puppy covered in glitter snow sitting in front of a crooked wooden fence with his head tilted to the side.

He was wearing a scarf.

Glitter and country road  fence aside the dog was cute, but let’s face it.

The cards never got sent.

However this year, I found the perfect cards to send- thank you Mysterious Package Company!

I’m sending the cute dog cards to some of my friends and family and I’m sending these to the others.

I wonder which  list will have what names on them.

At this point, I see some worried people heading to their mailboxes ( do people even USE those anymore ) because I always manage to get it wrong when it comes to really knowing what is going on inside of the heads of the people I know.

Mysterious Package Co Christmas Cards HERE

Last year I really tried to deck the halls and get into the swing of things- but I’m notorious for getting Christmas gifts that suck and that nobody really likes- I mean if you want to know how to screw up gift cards as presents, just ask me.

It’s not like I’ve given out voodoo dolls or edible bugs, shrunken heads or those little plush toys that look like germs,  maybe I should. Maybe that’s what people expect from me and when I drop the ball and go traditional , maybe it’s a let down.

I don’t know.

Until this minute I hadn’t considered that.

Now there’s a thought.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

This Christmas season I promised myself I would read some Victorian Era Ghost stories ( check ) I would do something creative everyday ( check ) oh and I haven’t done any baking yet but I have eaten some great store bought treats so ( kind of check ).

Do you know what I haven’t done?

Stressed out over the holidays- but I think that finding those cool cards- which I’m using as story prompts so fair warning, got me off to a good start.

So if I can get through this Holiday  without wanting to walk around with a blanket over my head ( as my dog likes to do, for his own reasons ) I would consider that a win.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Now here is a little Christmas music for you to enjoy for you to enjoy as you maybe write out some cards or toss back a cookie or two- or you know A LOT of cookies.

But whatever you do, make sure you do it in your own unique way.

amm

Inspired By Made In Australia Advent Calendar: Christmas Letters From Australia

Confectioner On Deck

A few years ago I stopped baking and I stopped cooking full meals.

It just seemed easier to toss things in the microwave or to order pizza or to just go out and have someone else do the work- and I’ll put it out there with all of my heart- teachers and cooks and chefs do NOT get paid enough.

My point is this: after years of cooking for my family I am OVER the experience.

Sometimes though- when it snows or the weather is bad and I look out the window and wonder what to do, I turn an eye to my kitchen and I bake.

Sometimes I bake from scratch – which to me feels like I’m working in a lab with dangerous chemicals or test tubes full of malicious life forms just waiting for you to make one false move, to add just a smidge too much of this or not put in enough of that and by that carelessness – kaboom.

Yes.

I do love baking from scratch.

It appeals to my inner Abominable Doctor Phibes.

What I love about baking and what I miss about baking are the smells- the scent of vanilla and cinnamon,the beautiful aroma of mulled spices that make their way into warm apple cider and the intoxicating  aroma of cooling pies and cookies.

I made a deal with myself- if the sky is gray and there is a bite in the air this weekend I think I might go a little mad scientist and do some holiday baking.

I have some standby recipes like shortbread- I make a mean shortbread and if it involves fruit and white chocolate I’ll give it a try. And of course I guess I’ll do some Christmas cookies because I’m not a total wet blanket.

Besides, I like to listen to Christmas music when I bake and to double the fun ( for me and to the deep concern of my dog when I do this ) I wear a Christmas Sweatshirt and make my dog wear his Christmas Tree Tiara and I sing along  at the tops of my lungs

Photo A.M. Moscoso

For some inspiration I might try a few of these from The Soul Food Café 2003 Made in Australia Calendar because there is a recipe for a treat where Rice Krispie cereal is called Rice Bubbles.

Rice Bubbles.

Like I’m going to walk away from that!

This month is supposed to be about adventure and experimenting with new ways of doing things and creating things with my own two hands ( as opposed to clicking an icon on my laptop with my own two hands that looks like a shopping cart and sending for it )

I suppose my kitchen is just as good as any museum or symphony hall or poorly lit icy street to embark on this quest.

I just hope I remember to pull the battery out of my smoke detector first.

Kidding.

I’m kidding.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

amm

Inspired By Made In Australia 2003 Advent Calendar: Six White Boomers

The Greens

I used one of the Soul Food Cafe’s story starter prompts as today’s Writing Challenge.

For this challenge I just sat down and wrote without stopping for twenty minutes. I liked the idea that popped up so much I might go back and clean it up for a Halloween story.

It’s based on  the SFC PROMPT: FLIES

 

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

The name of the family that lived on Davenport Road before it abandoned and forgotten by the town and then the rest of the world was Green.

The Greens were a Father, a Mother and their four children.

Somebody at a Fourth of July picnic shared over the pie table  that Father Green may have served time in jail and Mother Green may have had something to do with the disappearance of her baby brother and two of the family dogs when she was a child but that was just talk.

Still- none of the Green Children looked like either one of their parents and all of them had the odd habit of always appearing at the corner of your eye- or you’d see them scuttling away from you and around a corner or through a doorway before you could ever really get a good look at them.

One less then charitable resident of Fletcher- which was the name of the town Davenport Road was part of- compared the way they Green Children scurried around as being rodent like.

Mrs. Parker who was helping at the picnic that day said under her breath to that observation, ” They scuttle around like bugs. Those children give me the willies.”

Everything started to go bad in Fletcher right after the 4th of July picnic- the houses got moldy, the plants and trees and the lawns either dried up and died or they simply rotted.

In addition to that unfortunate state of affairs,  six cats, four dogs, a horse and three children and two infants went missing, the corn caught some sort of blight and was wiped out before you could say, ” what the hell is eating at the crops?”

No one living in Fletcher had it in them to get angry or suspicious or to even pack up and run.

That’s because they simply stopped doing anything except for maybe blink when something hit their eye and some of them coughed when dust ( it was just dust, right?) drifted up into their noses and mouths.

They just stopped where they stood on the day the Sun turned blood red and so did the Moon.

Some of people- like the people at the Pie Table at the picnic were sitting at their kitchen tables or in their cars.  Some of Fletcher’s residents who had an inkling that something was going very wrong  were hiding in their attics or basements when they too, like everyone and everything else just stopped.

They could see a hear a little, some could see and what they saw where the Green Children- scuttling and scurrying, tasting and touching and eating everything and anyone who caught their eyes.

Some of the people, who patiently waited their turn for a visit from the Green Children wondered why they only ever saw four of those children- there were so many of them.

Hundreds of them.

 

 

Whispers

choc_01

Even though they are not my favorite foods, I have decided to open up a little gift I found in the achieves at the Soul Food Café.

It’s a great series of creative prompts called ” The Chocolate Box

The first chocolate  I clicked is called ” The Artists’ Party ” 

There are a lot of ideas in this prompt that you can use to create a mood or a story or a painting or even a photograph.

I decided to go through my photo journal to see what kind of pictures I have taken of trees- did I hug the tree as suggested by the prompt.

I probably should have because the trees I had taken pictures of seemed to be telling a story, or maybe I caught them in the middle of an act or just thinking about whatever it is trees think about.

In other words, we shared a moment.

That was a gift, no matter how you look at it.

amm

 

Photo A.M. Moscoso
Horicon Marsh,
Wapun, Wisconsin
USA

Photo A.M. Moscoso
Amish Farm
Wisconsin, USA

Photo A.M. Moscoso
Fox Lake, Wisconsin
USA

 

Salina’s Garden

Salina was putting the finishing touches, with a little fortification from what was inside of her champagne glass with ” Groom ” stenciled  along  the side in frosty script, on her newly renovated garden when her neighbor trilled ” Toodles   Girlfriend!” at her from the street.

” I thought I’d pop on by and see how you’re doing.”

Cally was the neighbor that inspired the eight foot tall fences and large black dogs ins spike collars to patrol them and at the moment she appeared  at the edge of Salina’s property, Salina’s lovely Spring afternoon came to a crashing fiery mess all around her.

” I’m doing fine, I’m right in the middle of-”

” How did you do it, how could you cope with your world just, ” Cally threw her hands and tipped with her long bony fingers out to her sides ” exploding like that? You know. I get it. Men. Right? That’s what they do.  It’s a shame though.  I mean you were with him for 25 years. ”

Cally did not sound sorry at all. Cally sounded light and bubbly and slightly frantic.

Like a cheerleader on crack.

Salina took a breath and rolled her eyes so far back up into her head she would swear to you she could see her brains.  ” I’m getting a dog. ”

Cally raced on just like Salina thought she would.

Salina could have said ” I’m getting a hit man and he’s going to take you out because right now I cannot take your crazy on top of the insanity that took up residence in my life before you opened your mouth” and Cally would have gone on babbling like a toxic river running wild after the sketchy factory squatting on it’s banks hocked up all of it’s guts.

” Well. Here’s the plus side, now that he’s gone you can get in touch with your inner Crone.  Now you can be the woman the Goddesses intended you to be.”

” Yeah. The Goddesses.” Salina said biting her lip.

It was an odd enough response from Salina to get Cally’s attention for about five seconds. Not liking to be caught looking clueless or unawares for even one second let alone five she wondered if Salina was about to laugh or cry.

When one is in such a delicate state, one can never tell Cally knew.

Cally watched Salina hopefully, if not a little hungrily as she put her glass of champagne down on  her potting bench and reached for her shovel. “Well.  I’ve got to get to back to work, I have a few things left to do and then I’m finished so-”

Cally actually shut her mouth and her thin pale lips turned up in her version of a smile. ” You know, ” she said sounding surprised, ” Your flowers and herbs really do look nice. Especially around that- what is that? ”

” It’s a hitching post, it’s a horse’s head. My Great Grandfather brought it with him from England back in the early 1900’s,”

” Oh.” Cally said with the same kind of practiced smile that most mental health practitioners mastered  before the ink was dried on their degrees. Not that Cally had one of those, she was just familiar with Mental Health services in general.

” Did he? You say he brought it  all  the was from England. ” I see ” Cally said as she made a beeline towards the recently deemed ” maybe ” hitching post.

” Hmmm, are you sure it’s a horse? Say, what is that smell? I smell, what is that? Apples. You don’t have apple trees do you? Where is that smell coming from? ” she stopped mid stride.

” It’s chamomile. See? I put enough down to carpet this area. When you walk across it, it gives off that smell. Nice. Isn’t it?”

Cally  smiled her tight prissy smile. ” Yes. It’s very nice.”

” I must say” Cally said. ” You’ve done so much since your husband ran out on you Salina. That must have been hard. It must have been worse being he ran off with someone else.”

” You know what was really hard Cally? ” Salina dropped her shoulders, her hair fell into downturned face heavy with grief and pain. She even hiccupped a couple of times.

Cally drew herself up and smiled with sunshine literally streaming from her eyes.

She put her hand on Salina’s shoulder and then she patted it. ” No. What? What was the hardest part? I can imagine how terrible it was. I thought you were the perfect couple.”

Salina swung the shovel up and brought it down with enough force on the top of her head to bring Cally to her knees. ” The hardest part was digging that grave in front of  the hitching post deep enough for two bodies. That was the hardest part Cally.”

Salina strolled back to the potting bench  dropped the shovel against it.  Then reached for her glass and  with her face turned up to the now clear and not fiery  blue skies she threw back the last few drops of her champagne cocktail.

When she was done she walked back to where Cally was crumpled up- and then a thought hit her.

A very important one.

What was that drink called again, Salina asked herself   as prodded  a clearly recently deceased  Cally with her toe. Damn. What was this stupid drink called. She pulled her phone out of her back pocket and checked the app where she had found the recipe.

There it was.

That’s what it was called.

Death In The Afternoon.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Inspired by The Daily Addictions Prompt: Cope

My Tombstone

Photo A.M. Moscoso

I took this picture shortly after two members of my family had passed away within a week of each other, my dog had died unexpectedly ( death, no matter how we try to prepare ourselves for it’s arrival is never really ‘expected’, is it? ) and with those  three deaths my world broke apart into a tiny little pieces.

I’ve never been able to find them all again, let alone repair the damage.

I think this picture captures that time in my life and memorializes it perfectly.

It’s a fitting gravestone for a life that no longer exists.

 

The Mark

 

Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge #01

Mark of the Destiny

If she stopped her car right now, if she turned off the engine and got out at this exact moment and went into the diner would she find what she was looking for? Would she find adventure and sin, would there be roadmaps at the counter that were old and full of ghost towns she could haunt? If she got out now and walked into the diner would the moon wink, would the crows scream would she find her ending or beginning if she stopped her car and got out right now.

 

I think we know what our destiny is, that’s what we are afraid to face, I think that’s what holds us back sometimes.