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Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RWISA – Fiza Pathan @FizaPathan

The Star Pupil’s Diary Entry by Fiza Pathan

The Star Pupil’s Diary Entry by Fiza Pathan

Dear Diary,

I had a wonderful day at school today. I got a star and I’m going to tell you all about it.

I’m eight years old, but I’m the tallest boy in the class. I, and the other kids in my neighborhood, study at the school down the block. Actually, our school was once something terrible; it was a disgusting Christian church, something called “Catholic.” The school officials tore it down and made it into a proper school for us kids.

So, I went to school today. I was the first one there so I got the biggest teddy bear to do my training with. The kids who were late got teddies that were way too small, the cheap ones that our soldiers stole from the hands of fleeing Jewish kids before they shot them in the head.

My teacher made us do our practice training in the morning. He handed us our daggers. We each checked with our fingers if they were sharp enough. Since I was early to class, I got to demonstrate. I put the dagger on the neck of the teddy and slit it the way my teacher had taught me to do. The other students followed me, but I was the best at cutting off teddy’s head.

“The jugular,” my teacher scolded another student who was cutting the wrong part of the teddy. “The jugular and do it slowly; it should make them cry.”

After dagger practice was over, we all sat and singing practice began. Singing is important; it touches souls and bring them closer to God.

We sang the national anthem. Teacher said I was the best singer and patted me on the head.

“Now, who knows a good English song, a hymn for our nation?” our teacher asked.

Every kid was stumped. They knew plenty of English songs, some of them were American. But you couldn’t sing those songs anymore. They knew “If I Was Your Boyfriend” by that Justin Bieber nonbeliever and “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, another group of nonbelievers—may the devil plague them!

But no one knew a hymn in English to our cause. Not a single kid. Well, everyone except me!

I raised my hand and teacher smiled.

He asked me to stand up and sing in place.

The other kids turned to look at me. They were jealous because they were not as smart as me.

I put my hands behind my back and stood straight like I do when singing the national anthem. I opened my mouth and began to sing:

We for the sake of Allah have come under the banner,

We for the sake of our Caliph have torn the world asunder;

We for the sake of our raped sisters will kill the ones responsible,

We for the sake of our nation will die, but not before we become incredible.

I didn’t know the meaning of raped, but daddy had taught me this song while we were fleeing India to come here, to this land of milk and honey. Daddy taught me a lot of songs and hymns as we fled India. We almost got caught, but our fake passports worked. Daddy is so smart. He is now working as a soldier here.

“Bravo, my son,” my teacher said, and he shook my hand. The other kids clapped, but some spat on the ground with disgust.

“Bravo, my son,” my teacher said again, holding me by the shoulders and looking into my eyes. “You are a gem of a man already. You get a star for this.”

And I did; a star made of metal shining like gold, the ones soldiers put on their uniforms. I was so proud that I couldn’t stop smiling.

The teacher then said it was almost time for prayers, but before that, did any of us kids know who we were deep in our hearts? Many kids answered:

“We are Allah’s blessing in flesh.”

“We are the terror of the Westerners.”

“We are the protectors of our faith.”

“We are true worshippers of the almighty.”

But the teacher said all their answers were wrong. I knew that too, because I knew the real answer. Teacher then asked me, “Tell me, son, who are we?”

I smiled, fiddling with my gold star before answering: “We are men who love death just as some people love their life; we are soldiers who fight in the day and the night.”

My teacher clapped, and so did the other kids, except for the ones who yet again spat on the floor and gave me angry looks.

We spent the rest of the day praying, going to the mosque that was once a church. They called it Lutheran, which sounds so ugly. I then came home, and here I am writing in this diary, which Daddy gave me to record the fun time I’m having here in this new country, the place where Allah truly lives with his beloved people.

I’m so happy to have earned my star. I’ll wear it tomorrow to the next beheading on the main square of those bad men who were trying to escape heaven, this place where we stay. I love beheadings. I take pictures of it on my uncle’s cell phone. I love the blood, snapped bones, and torn veins the best.

Tomorrow, our class will burn crosses at the beheading. I will burn not a cross, but a small statue of Mary, mother of that prophet who sinned against us. I’ve never burned her before, not because I haven’t gotten a chance to do so, but because . . . her eyes, her eyes when they look at me are funny.

Well, it’s time to go for prayers. I shall write later.

Yours always,

Alif Shifaq of the ISIS children brigade,

3 Bel Anif Mansion,

Sultan Saladin Road,

Raqqa,

ISIS Syria,

March 12, 2015.

*

After the fall of ISIS in Raqqa, an American soldier with his entire team were on the ground for inspection purposes. It was the year 2017, and the whole city had been razed to the ground.

The American soldier’s name was Emmanuel, and as he walked over the immense quantity of rubble, he spotted something.

It was a diary. A bit battered due to the bombing, but in good shape.

The hand of a preteen was found holding a pen beside it. The hand only. Not the rest of the body. The body had been incinerated.

Emmanuel lifted the diary and dusted it. He took it along with him, jumping over a pile of dusty teddy bears with their throats cut.

“City of the dead,” Emmanuel intoned, as he opened the diary to read. The first thing he read was an inscription in black ink from a fountain pen. It was done in calligraphy—skillfully done.

 

We are men who love death just as you love your life,

We are the soldiers who fight in the day and the night.

 

Emmanuel sighed and turned a page.

***

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Fiza Pathan RWISA Author Page

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Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RWISA – A. M. Manay @ammanay

Mirror, Mirror by A. M. Manay

“Mirror, Mirror” by A.M. Manay

Set in the world of The Hexborn Chronicles

 

Shiloh stood in her teacher’s doorway, pulling anxiously on the end of a pink braid that had snuck out of her hood. Brother Edmun was in high dudgeon, ranting about insults and ingrates. A wooden crate sat upon the table, straw peeking through the slats. She could feel magic pouring out of it like waves of heat; it wasn’t dark magic, but it didn’t feel like good magic, either.

“Master?” she ventured. “Would you like me to make your breakfast?” She didn’t bother to ask about the box. He’d tell her if he wanted her to know – and, in his own good time, not before.

Edmun looked at her as though she’d appeared out of thin air. He waved her off. “Don’t bother, poppet. I couldn’t eat.”

Shiloh’s eyes strayed to the crate, but she said nothing.

“Go finish your essay from yesterday,” Edmun barked.

Taking her seat at her little desk with her back to the table, Shiloh could hear Brother Edmun unpacking the mysterious arrival. It was all she could do to resist the urge to peek when she heard the sound of a hammer. Under his breath, Edmun muttered a constant patter of unintelligible complaints. At last, she heard him pull out a chair and collapse into it. Carefully scanning the page once more for any mistakes, she stood to present her work to her master.

He looked down at the offering in her little hand, her words marching neatly across the page. Pen in one hand and her paper in the other, the glower slowly disappeared from his face as he read, leaving behind a hint of satisfaction. At last, he nodded, resting his unused pen. Shiloh exhaled in relief.

“Well done. A princess at the Academy could not have done better at twice your age.”

“Thank you, master!” Her smile lit up her eyes, which then strayed over Edmun’s shoulder to a mirror with gilded leaves and lacquered flowers hanging on the wall. The ornate frame looked out of place in the rustic mountain cabin.

“Don’t look in it more than you can help it,” Edmun ordered, calling attention back to her teacher’s face.

“Yes, master,” she replied. “May I know why not?”

Edmun hesitated.

“I can feel that it’s magic, master,” Shiloh continued.

He snorted. “I’m sure you can.” She waited for more, but knowing well enough not to press him.

Edmun heaved a sigh. “A man can give you a gift out of love, to please you. Or, he can send it as an insult, to remind you of errors and to caution you against repeating them. This mirror is the latter.”

“What does it do?” she asked.

“That is none of your concern,” he replied. “And that is all I will tell you. Go get a wand from the cabinet.”

Excitement sheathed Shiloh’s face. “We’re using wands today?”

Edmun glanced down at her from beneath his eyebrows. “Is there another reason I’d ask you to get one? Now, do it quickly, before I think better of it.”

 

***

 

The following evening, Shiloh picked up a clean rag and set about the dusting. Edmun was busy in the temple, preparing for the upcoming Feast of the Father. As soon as she was done in the house, she was to join him there. As usual, the red cabinet took most of her attention. The many books, wands, and magical curiosities inside had to be carefully wiped and returned to their accustomed positions. It was tedious work, but she was pleased that Edmun trusted her with the task.

Her work on the cabinet finally completed, she turned to dust the mirror and gasped. The silver surface had turned to black. A face appeared, and not her own. Shiloh took a step backward.

A man cocked his head to the side, a slow smile spreading across his face. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but Shiloh did not wait to hear the words. She ran, her head scarf flying behind her all the way to the temple doors. She threw them open.

“What?” Edmun demanded, looking up from the altar.

“The mirror,” she panted. “It turned black, and then there was a man…”

Edmun crossed the floor and took her by the shoulders. “What did he see? What did you say?”

“Nothing! I ran as soon as I saw him. I was only finishing up the dusting. Who was he?”

Edmun ran a hand over his mouth and chin and took a deep breath. “The most dangerous man in the kingdom. Silas Hatch.”

“The Hatchet?” Shiloh shivered. “The king’s spymaster? Why would he appear in your mirror?”

“Who do you think sent it? Hatch likely meant to speak with me, to threaten me. The king hates and fears me for reasons you well know.” His brows drew inward. “He gave you a right scare, didn’t he, poppet?”

Shiloh nodded. Edmun knelt to look her in the eye. “Now, if I were a kind man, I’d tell you that you need not fear him. But I’m not, so I’ll tell you the truth. You should be terrified of him. If you ever give him reason to believe you are disloyal to the crown, he will slit your throat with his own hands.”

“Why would I ever be disloyal to the crown?”

Edmun placed a hand on her head. “Good girl. Now, put that man out of your mind and help me ready the temple for tomorrow.”

Shiloh nodded, yet the ice of fear in her stomach remained; as did the look of worry on her beloved teacher’s face.

 

***

 

Shiloh sat on her bed in the loft above her father’s smithy. Upon her blanket lay an array of charms she’d just made for protection against all manner of hexes or ill-wishing.

The look upon the mirror man’s face had chilled her to the bone—something about the smile. It had been predatory. Proprietary. Wary. It had given her the distinct impression that the man’s interest lay not only in her master but in herself, as well. I will not leave my teacher unprotected.

She pinned one charm on the linen beneath her tunic. The others she gathered into an old handkerchief. She tied it tight and placed the bundle in her pocket along with a jar of paste.

She knew Edmun would already be in the temple performing his ablutions for the feast day. She let herself into his house and crossed warily to the mirror. She exhaled with relief to find it clad in its ordinary silver.

Carefully, she lifted the mirror off its nail and turned it face down upon the table. She held the pot of glue in the crook of her elbow and pried it open, then affixed seven charms to the back of the Hatchet’s “gift” to her master, one for each of the Lords of Heaven. She returned the mirror to its proper place and hurried to the temple before Edmun could scold her for tardiness.

 

***

 

At dusk, Edmun sat his tired bones into his favorite chair and looked balefully at the mirror. Given the visitation to Shiloh the night before, Edmun expected to see Silas Hatch’s face, yet as the pink light of sunset faded, the man did not appear.

“Perhaps tomorrow,” Edmun murmured. “I had hoped to get it over with.” He looked up at the mirror and realized that it was just slightly askew. Standing, he removed it from the wall. Turning it over, he found Shiloh’s handiwork.

Edmun smiled and shook his head. “My sweet, clever poppet. Too clever by half.” Sighing, he plucked the charms from the backing and set the mirror on the table, leaning against a water pitcher. Silas appeared in moments.

“Master Edmun, I feared you had forgotten the terms of our arrangement. There was to be no meddling with the mirror.”

Edmun swallowed heavily. “It was a momentary lapse,” he lied. “I thought better of it.”

Silas grinned. “You don’t have lapses. It was the girl, wasn’t it?”

Edmun said nothing.

Silas laughed. “It was. Ha! And what is she, only eight years old?”

Still, Edmun said nothing.

“She must love you as much as I did,” Hatch mused.

“What do you want?”

“Are you really teaching her mirror magic this young?” Hatch asked, brow raised.

Edmun closed his eyes and sighed. “Of course not. Evidently, I didn’t teach you your own well enough, as she defeated you with a handful of charms and some paste.”

The young man’s ears flushed. “Well, then,” he managed, “I shall have to redouble my efforts.”

“You do that. And Silas?”

“Yes?”

Edmun leaned in. “The next time you frighten that girl, it had best be after I’m cold in the ground.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

A. M. Manay RWISA Author Page

NEW RELEASE! Strange Hwy: Short Stories by Beem Weeks is Now Available!

Fresh Ink Group is pleased to announce the release of Strange Hwy: Short Stories by Beem Weeks. This collection of short stories makes a perfect Christmas gift for the reader in your life.

Strange Hwy: Short Stories is available in full-sized trade paperback, dust-jacketed hardcover, and all ebook formats. You can purchase Strange Hwy: Short Stories at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Google Books, and many other online retailers.

Whether you’re into horror, historical fiction, coming of age, or slice of life stories, this collection has something for you.

Blurb:

If you ever find yourself on the Strange Hwy—don’t turn around. Don’t panic. Just. Keep. Going. You never know what you’ll find.
You’ll see magic at the fingertips of an autistic young man,
•A teen girl’s afternoon, lifetime of loss.
•A winged man, an angel? Demon—?
•Mother’s recognition, peace to daughter.
•Danny’s death, stifled secrets.
•Black man’s music, guitar transforms boy.
•Dead brother, open confession.
•First love, supernatural?—family becomes whole!
You can exit the Strange Hwy, and come back any time you want.
See, now you know the way in, don’t be a stranger.

Where to Purchase:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Google Books

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW – Day 6

OUT TO PASTURE

Musings of an Erstwhile Asia Hand

by Ron Yates, RRBC 2017 KCT Int’l Literary Award Grand Prize Winner

 

 

He watched the hawk circling high in an infinite Southern California sky, far above the shaggy brown hills that loomed behind acres of avocado and orange trees. Every so often the hawk would dip as though preparing to dive on its unsuspecting prey, but then it would pull up abruptly, unsatisfied with the approach to its target, waiting perhaps for a better opportunity.

 

He knew this hawk. He had seen it before. There were two patches of vermilion feathers on the underside of its broad chestnut wings that reminded him of the red circles that adorned the wingtips of the Japanese fighter planes he used to see in the Pacific during World War II.

 

He closed his eyes, allowing the warm sun to wash over him. The only sound other than the crisp dry wind that blew up the long pass from La Jolla, was the dull whine of the automatic pool cleaner as it made its programmed passages back and forth in the pool next to the patio. For a moment he could feel himself being pulled back to a time when the heavy coughs of old propeller-driven fighters ripped through the dense, fragrant tropical air like a dull knife through perfumed silk.

 

For a brief moment, he pictured himself sitting at his old black Underwood, pounding out another story of some long-forgotten battle in World War II, or Korea, or Vietnam that he had covered. He could almost see the white typing paper rolled half-way out of the typewriter and he could see his By-Line typed neatly just above the first sentence of the story:

 

“By Cooper McGrath

 Global News Service.”

 

He sighed and shifted his body in the pool-side lounge chair, allowing his growing potbelly to slide slowly to the other side of his frame. “Typewriters,” he thought. “Nobody even knows what they are today.”

 

Then he reached for his binoculars so he could get a better view of the hawk.

 

“Look at old Zero-sen up there. He’s going in for the kill.”

 

“Zero-sen?” Ellen was still puttering around the patio, watering potted plants and trees.

 

“Yeah, the hawk. That’s what I call him. Look at those red spots on his wings. He looks like one of those old Japanese Zeros.”

 

Ellen squinted up at the sky and frowned. “You have a lively imagination, Cooper.”

 

The hawk continued to circle, but it was moving further away. Finally, it dipped below a small rise and disappeared. When it reappeared, it was carrying something in its talons. Cooper exhaled and at the same time pounded his ample belly, the sound of which reverberated across the patio like a hollow drum. Then he pulled himself upright in the recliner.

 

“I always did, you know.”

 

“Did what?” Ellen asked, only half paying attention to what her brother was saying.

 

“Have a lively imagination.”

 

“Oh, that.” She was on her knees pushing sticks of fertilizer into her potted plants. “And as I recall, it always got you in trouble.”

 

“Is it time for lunch?” he asked, rising slowly to his feet. “God,” he groaned. “I’m stiff as a dead tree.” He looked at his watch. It was already one-thirty in the afternoon—way past his usual lunchtime and his stomach was growling.

 

“You don’t get enough exercise, Cooper. I keep telling you, you should enroll in that aerobics class they’re offering down at the clubhouse.”

 

She stood looking at him for a few moments, hands on hips, white, wide-brimmed gardening hat shading her beige face from the hot sun. She loved her brother mightily, but it saddened her to see him in such physical and mental decline. Why had the Global News Service pushed him into retirement? He had given his life to that ungrateful news agency.

 

As he stretched his arms skyward Cooper’s ever-expanding belly caused the bottom of his shirt to pull out of his shorts at the midriff, revealing a roll of untanned flesh the color of boiled pork. Finally, she shook her head and made one of those disapproving clucking sounds with her tongue.

 

“I’ll call you when lunch is ready. Why not take a few laps in the pool, or even better, call the clubhouse about that senior’s aerobics class?”

 

Cooper mumbled some acquiescent reply as Ellen walked into the house. She was right of course. But at 70 he didn’t feel any particular need to jog around a room with a bunch of other ill-proportioned old farts in tights. Hell, he was retired. Why did he have to do anything at all? Hadn’t he worked his ass off all his life? Didn’t he risk his life reporting stories nobody cared about? Didn’t he deserve some time off to do, well, to do nothing? Nothing at all? Hell yes, he did.

 

He sighed heavily, and a bit guiltily. He always did when he remembered the half-finished manuscript in his small office. It sat there day after day on the desk next to his laptop computer—unfinished, unedited and unsold. Sometimes he half expected it to finish itself, to somehow link up magically with his mind, download forty years of journalistic experience and then turn it all into some kind of marketable prose that a big time publisher would snap up without hesitation.

 

But it didn’t work that way. He knew that. Oh, how he knew that. After years of meeting one deadline after another—thousands and thousands of them—if there was one thing Cooper McGrath knew it was that nothing got written until he sat down at his typewriter and began banging it out. Then, about five years ago, toward the end of his career as a foreign correspondent, he had reluctantly traded in his typewriter for a computer. The laptop had been sent over to Singapore by his editors. He would no longer roam the Asian continent as he had for most of his professional life. Instead, he would write a column every two weeks that focused on current events. And that’s what he had done for the past few years. His job, he was told, was to insert his years of historical perspective into dispatches written by less knowledgeable, more youthful correspondents.

 

Cooper knew what was really going on, of course. He was being put out to pasture. Sure, the discipline was the same. You still had to sit down in front of a blank screen and create something worth reading. The difference was the burnout. He felt as burned out as an old war correspondent could feel—like the old iron kettle in which he cooked up his special chili. He had served up so many portions of his life that there just wasn’t anything left to spoon out anymore. It was 1990, and the kettle was empty—empty and caked with rust.

 

Yet he knew he had things to say, stories to tell, history to recount. He was, after all, an eyewitness to some of the greatest history of the Twentieth Century. World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, not to mention more than a score or so revolutions and coups d’état. When he thought about it that way, he could feel the juices stirring and bubbling in the bottom of the kettle, and he would get excited enough to walk into his small office, turn on the laptop and type a few lines. But after a while, an inexplicable gust of arid self-doubt would blow through his mind, and he would feel the passion receding. Then it would be gone—as extinct as that old black Underwood he used to pound on day after day in places like Rangoon, Saigon, and Hong Kong.

 

“Nobody gives a damn,” Cooper would say when Ellen asked him why he didn’t finish his memoirs. “It’s all ancient history. Hell, I’m ancient history.”

 

Ellen knew he was feeling sorry for himself. But she couldn’t bring herself to tell him that. Instead, she guilefully nudged and tugged his ego gently back to its perch above the bleak valley of his self-doubt.

 

“You’ve seen so much, and you have such a gift for describing what you’ve seen,” Ellen would say. “You must write it all down, to preserve it for others. That is your gift to the world. It shouldn’t be wasted.”

 

Cooper knew Ellen was right—if not for the sake of history then for the sake of his own mental and physical health. He needed to be doing something. And he had to admit, when he was writing, he felt like he was contributing again. It gave him a sense of power and purpose.

 

But after Toshiko’s death most of the power and purpose he still possessed deserted him. He retreated emotionally and physically from the world. He gave up the grand old house in Singapore where he and Toshiko had spent the last ten years of their married life. He just couldn’t bear living in it anymore—not when everything in the place reminded him of Toshiko and their life together.

 

For the first few weeks after Toshiko had succumbed to the ravages of cancer, Cooper would sit on the verandah of their house built during the British-raj, drinking one vodka-tonic after another and wondering why Toshiko had to be the first to go. He always figured he would be the first. After all, he was the physical wreck, not Toshiko. She had taken care of herself. Her 5-foot 2-inch body was as lithe and slim as it was the day he met her in 1946 in Osaka.

 

Cooper knew the hours spent on his verandah were nothing more than a boozy ritual of self-pity. But he didn’t care. It was the only way he knew to deal with abandonment. And that’s what had happened. He had been abandoned; and cheated, and irreparably damaged. By dying, Toshiko had deserted him. These were the emotions that had churned in Cooper’s sozzled brain with ever-increasing velocity until late afternoon when he was, as they say, “decks-awash and listing severely to starboard.” Then, with the sun descending past the tops of the traveler palms and tamarind trees that populated his front lawn, Cooper would stumble into the house and collapse on the small bed in the guestroom. Even drunk he couldn’t bring himself to sleep in the bed he had shared with Toshiko.

 

The self-pity finally wore off in a couple of months and so did the appeal of Singapore. After minimal coaxing from Ellen, he left Asia and moved in with his only living relative. Ellen, his little sister, lived in the sunburnt craggy hills just north of Escondido. The house was one of those rambling Spanish-style places with a red tile roof and bleached stucco walls. It had been built by Ellen’s husband just before his untimely death ten years before.

 

Moving in with Ellen wasn’t Cooper’s idea, but he was thankful she had offered. One evening in Singapore during a fierce tropical storm that had forced Cooper to retreat from the Verandah, Ellen had called, and in the course of the conversation, she suggested he come to California and help out with her thirty acres of avocado and orange groves.

 

A month later, after selling off five decades of Asian bric-a-brac, several rooms of teak, rosewood and rattan furniture, half of his oriental carpets and various silk screens, wall hangings and jade statuary, Cooper returned to the U.S. It was the first time he had been back in almost 20 years. When he stepped off the plane in San Diego, he couldn’t help observing how sterile, how ordered, how incredibly mind-numbing it all was.

 

“Where’s the texture?” he asked as Ellen drove him north toward Escondido.

 

“What?” Ellen responded.

 

“You know, the texture. The dirt. The coarseness. The graininess that makes a place look lived in.”

 

Ellen had dismissed Cooper’s outburst as a sign of jet lag or crankiness.

 

In fact, Cooper was frustrated by how little the change in scenery had done for him. He had merely traded the verandah of his house in Singapore for the poolside patio of Ellen’s mountainside villa. There was one huge difference, of course. There was no booze to be had anywhere in Ellen’s house. Just lots of lemonade and cases of those flavored ice tea drinks that were so irritatingly trendy.

 

And so it had gone for the past six months that he had lived with his sister in the hills north of Escondido. He purged the booze from his system, but not the pain. He drank lots of ice tea and lemonade and every so often the two of them took day trips to places like the old missions at San Juan Capistrano or San Luis Rey, or the old stagecoach town of Temecula, or the posh resorts of La Jolla.

 

If nothing else, Cooper was getting to know his kid sister once again and Ellen was rediscovering her brother. Nevertheless, sometimes she thought he would have been better off staying in Singapore. But she was the only family Cooper had left and it distressed her to know he was alone and suffering in Asia.

 

Cooper watched Ellen as she reemerged from the house and moved across the patio with the water hose trained on the hanging plants. He closed his eyes and imagined Toshiko standing on the long wooden verandah of their Singapore house under slowly turning teakwood paddle fans fussing with the bougainvillea and orchids. It was too easy. All he had to do was will her into his consciousness and there she would be, just as she had always been. That was the problem. As much as he had loved Toshiko in life, he found himself consumed with an even stronger love for her in death. Sometimes he thought it was becoming his own personal cancer, and he had no doubt that it was killing him.

 

Cooper paced the length of the patio, spent a moment or two pushing himself up by the toes, then walked back to the lounge chair, eased himself onto its thick foam rubber cushions and closed his pale blue eyes under freckled eyelids.

 

“That’s enough exercise for today. I think I’ll take a little nap.”

 

Ellen looked over at him and shook her head. His tanned legs with their crepey skin extended from knee-length blue shorts and his meaty, liver-spotted hands rested on a half-buttoned red, yellow and blue Hawaiian shirt that threatened to burst open with each of his breaths.

 

“You really are a lazy old bear, Mr. McGrath.”

 

Cooper, muttered an indistinct reply and watched Ellen as she pottered past him into the house. He closed his eyes, yawned, and began drifting away to another time in a vanished world where his personal cloistered refuge awaited.

 

“Tomorrow,” he mused. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll come in from the pasture.”

 

 

The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

 

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Ron Yates RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

Watch RWISA Write: Linda Mims

August is Watch RWISA Write month. Today, we celebrate author Linda Mims!

You Take the Blue Pill, the Story Ends. You Take the Red Pill …

By Linda Mims

 

I was sixteen when I first suspected that I might be the one. I’d seen people in my family striving for excellence all my life. My parents’ friends were creative types who often took time to quiz me about my goals and what I was doing to achieve them. I had been persistently pleading with a leader at my church who had the power to make one of my goals a reality.

 

This woman headed the Womens’ Ministry. Everything from church announcements to annual celebrations fell under her domain. I wanted to be the youth announcer on the weekly, hour-long radio broadcast that emanated from our church, but she was speaking a language that I didn’t understand.

 

“Take some speech lessons and come back to me.”

 

Where in the world was I going to get speech lessons and how would I pay for them? My family knew some people, and the house did overflow from Friday to Sunday with weekend guests, but that didn’t mean we had money. A party costs maybe $25 back then—especially if everybody brought food and drinks.

 

Bottom line, we didn’t have money for speech lessons. Still, I wasn’t going to give up. I was a spiritual youngster, even before I knew what spiritual meant. I told the Lord what I wanted and then forgot about it. While I was waiting, strange, but wonderful things were happening to me. I was voted vice president of my choir and I was chosen to deliver the Youth Day Address. Go figure!

 

One Friday evening, my mother received a phone call. The church maven and her assistant had gone on strike. I was too young to understand everything a strike entailed. I just knew that I was being asked to fill in as the main radio announcer for the broadcast; the very thing I’d wanted in the first place.  That broadcast went out to hundreds, maybe thousands in the Chicago listening area.

 

When she returned from her strike, Ms. Maven kept me on as a junior announcer and she became one of my most revered mentors. That was the year I discovered that I was tight with God. I could get a prayer through! Was I the one?

 

I’m every woman. It’s all in me

 

While in college a few years later, I watched a bold, beautiful young woman, with a voice as big as a brass saxophone, sing on a makeshift stage. It was an impromptu concert behind one of the lecture halls on my university campus. The day was balmy and the sun was bright. We shaded our eyes as we stared straight into the golden orb that bathed her in its light.

 

She looked like a woman and a child at the same time. She wore very few clothes. Just a band around her breasts, a pair of short shorts, ankle boots, and a tall feather stuck in the crown of one of the biggest afros I’d ever seen.

 

We were fascinated, and her voice held us captivated. After the performance, members of the group handed out bills that said their name was Rufus, featuring Chaka Khan. They would be performing at a local club that night.

 

We showed up to the club, but a multi-ethnic crowd had filled the place to capacity. You don’t need to ask for racial diversity once everybody realizes you have something we all desire. Anyway, we couldn’t get in. That day would be the first and only time I’d hear Chaka Khan sing for free. At the time, I wondered if she was also the one!

 

In 1978, Chaka Khan recorded her first solo album, Chaka. One song from that album would define the rest of my life. In it, she sang my truth! I’d always felt that I could do anything, but it wasn’t until Ms. Khan sang the words, that I knew how to describe what I’d always known.

 

“I’m every woman. It’s all in me. Anything you want done, baby, I do it naturally. I ain’t bragging, but I’m the one. Just ask me and it shall be done.”

 

I had a theme song!

 

You may not know the purpose, but know that there is a purpose

 

In The Matrix, one of my favorite movies of all time, there’s the scene where Morpheus gives Neo a choice between the red pill or the blue pill. Neo has been searching for information about the matrix. Morpheus has to convince Neo that he isn’t looking for the matrix, but what he’s really looking for is more. Morpheus believes that once Neo has answers to his questions, he will come to accept what Morpheus already knows. Neo is the one.

 

Being the one is about knowing that you want more. You want to change things. You may not know what your ultimate purpose is, but you know that there is a purpose. You’re so absolutely self-motivated and focused, that God himself delights in your purpose. I told you I’ve always been spiritual, so, I’ll say that I believe when God and the universe delight in your purpose, there’s no stopping you.

 

The Matrix is fiction, so let’s take a look at real-life people who wanted more. One such person was the late author, Janet Dailey. A prolific writer, Dailey thought she could write better than most of the romance writers she was reading. She knew she was the one. When people referred to her as “just a secretary” who writes romance novels, Dailey said the following, and I quote:

 

 “One of the things that to me is the biggest compliment any writer can get is hearing from the ones who say, ‘I used to think reading was boring until I picked up one of your books.’ ” 

 

Between 1974 and 2007, Janet Dailey sold over 300 million copies of more than 100 titles. Not bad for “just a secretary”.

 

Then, there was Steve Jobs. Steve dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon after six months, but he stayed there and audited creative classes over the next 18 months. A course in calligraphy developed his love of typography. Apple and Macintosh computers would be the first to offer creative fonts, including calligraphy, for the consumer’s use.

 

Steve Jobs partnered with his friend, Steve Wozniak, to start Apple Computer, in the Jobs’ family garage. Steve Jobs said, “I want to put a ding in the universe”.

 

I guess he knew that he was the one!

 

Being the one comes with certain responsibilities

 

Many of you have already realized that you are the one; you just haven’t taken the red pill yet. When you’re ready, there are some responsibilities:

 

  1. Toot your own horn
  2. Don’t give up
  3. Throw away false humility

 

First, toot your own horn! You can’t be afraid of appearing to be too much of a showoff. Waiting patiently for others to give you the rewards you so richly deserve, may yield nothing but hurt and disappointment. Individuals will slink away with your destiny in their greedy little hands without so much as a backwards glance for you.

 

A few times, I spoke too quietly in meetings or waited until it was too late to claim my own ideas that I’d shared with others in private. I watched, stunned, as another, bolder individual stole my idea, shouted it out, and received my praise. I had to wise up quickly and realize that there are differences in the way that leaders and achievers talk and present. First, leaders declare that they have something to say. Then, when everyone is focused, they speak. They make sure their ideas are credited.

 

Don’t give up, opportunity does knock more than once.

 

I’ve learned that opportunity knocks more than once. Heck, when you’re the one, you create opportunities. When one door closes, another door really does open. If you weren’t ready the first time, the truth is, you can keep reinventing yourself until your moment comes or until you’re tired of trying.

 

“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” —Steve Jobs

 

Throw away that false humility! It’s okay to hang back while you formulate your plan. Go ahead! Get the lay of the land. If you are confident in the knowledge that you can do anything, take as much time as you need. Just don’t overdo humble. That’s almost as bad as having too much pride.

 

It’s permissible to show pride in yourself and your accomplishments. The 21st Century is begging for your stories, calling for your experiences, and expecting you to step up and lead, in every way imaginable. Women like Oprah Winfrey—women like Taylor Swift—they are leading change with their out-of-the-box ideas and sweeping changes to the status quo.

 

Men like Barack Obama are stepping out of obscurity and into the Senate and the office of the President of the United States. Have the audacity to dream! Wear your mantle of distinction with pride. Step-up, speak-out! You are the one!

Linda Mims, RWISA Author Page

Watch RWISA Write: Joni Parker

August is Watch RWISA Write month. Today, we celebrate author Joni Parker!

ON THE AIR

 

By Joni Parker

 

Good afternoon, this is Mike Evans at iFantasy talk radio in Tucson, Arizona where we love to talk about science fiction and fantasy. Thanks for joining me today. We have a very special guest lined up for you, an iFantasy talk radio exclusive. World-famous journalist, Olivia Richards, is expected to join us via satellite telephone. As you may know, Olivia and her husband, John, were reported missing at sea several years ago, but she’s made contact and will be here in a few minutes. But first, we must hear from our sponsors at Cactus Thumb Nurseries. (run commercial)

 

Mike: Welcome back. We’ve just made contact with world-famous journalist, Olivia Richards. Hello, Olivia, this is Mike Evans. Can you hear me? (static) Olivia, are you there? (static)

 

Olivia: Yes, I can hear you, but just barely, please speak up.

 

Mike: I will. Thank you for joining me on iFantasy talk radio. I’m Mike Evans in Tucson, Arizona. Let me begin by asking, how are you and where are you?

 

Olivia: My husband and I are fine, but for the last few years, we’ve been stranded on this island called Seaward Isle. In 2011, we rented a sailboat in southern France and were sailing to Italy when we were caught in a ferocious storm. It came out of nowhere. We hid in the cabin below deck for hours until our boat crashed on the shores of this island. We survived the crash just fine, but we haven’t been able to find a way off. We’ve met hundreds of people here just like us. That’s how I met Takura. He’s a friend of yours, I understand. He talked me into coming on this program because he was concerned people wouldn’t understand his English.

 

Mike: Yes, I’ve met him and I thought his English was fine. He went to Harvard for his doctorate.

 

Olivia: Yes, I know, but he feels very self-conscious.

 

Mike: How is he?

 

Olivia: He’s doing well. As you know, he’s a geologist and has gathered a group of Japanese scientists to figure out our situation. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough computers or the right equipment to do the job, but at least, he’s discovered that we’re not on Earth and he’s discussed this problem with the Elves.

 

Mike: Say what? You’re not on Earth? Did you say something about Elves? Are you kidding? Say, have you met Legolas by any chance? (Laughs)

 

Olivia: No, but yes, I’m serious. They’re real Elves. This island belongs to them and even they can’t figure out how we got here.

 

Mike: So where are you, if you’re not on Earth?

 

Olivia: We believe that this island is at the end of a wormhole somewhere in space. We don’t know how or where, but here we are. Takura believes the opening is located about six hundred kilometers above the Earth’s surface somewhere near the moon. We ask all astronomers to use their equipment to locate the opening and ask NASA for a rescue mission. That seems to be our only hope.

 

Mike: Attention all astronomers and scientists at NASA! Olivia needs your help. Contact this station immediately if you can provide any assistance. (chuckles) How are you able to talk to us?

 

Olivia: My friend, Ebony Shorter, had a satellite telephone when she crashed on the island. She was in a yacht race that went around the world, but she was caught in a storm and ended up here. Takura and his friends repaired an old generator to make electricity to recharge the phone. He’s also set up a computer network with bits and pieces he’s found.

 

Mike: What do you use for fuel?

 

Olivia: The scientists use alcohol made of old potato skins and grain.

 

Mike: You mean moonshine. Right. Anything else we can help you with today, Olivia?

 

Olivia: No, just please get the word out. We’d really like to get home and see our families. Thank you so much for your help. (static) Our connection is fading…(static)…only a few (static)…Please help…(static)

 

Mike: Apparently, we’ve just lost our connection to Olivia. Once again, let me reiterate her desperate situation. She’s located on an island called Seaward Isle, somewhere at the end of a wormhole and needs the help of astronomers and NASA scientists to locate this opening and rescue them. Hey, maybe we can bring the Shuttle program back to life. Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you for joining me on iFantasy talk radio and join me tomorrow for another adventure into science fiction and fantasy. And don’t forget to send your comments and ideas to our Facebook page. Many thanks to our sponsor, Cactus Thumb Nurseries.

 

*          *          *

 

Mike leaned back in his chair and listened to the program again. Then he pulled out his cell phone. This had to be a joke. But he shook his head when he recalled that his old buddy, Takura, could never tell a joke. He was so serious. They’d met in college nearly twenty years ago when they were freshmen at the University of Arizona with majors in geology. Tak, as he wanted to be called, was a foreign student from Japan and understood more English than he spoke. He also loved the geological formations in the local area, but knew nothing about hiking in the desert. Mike was an experienced hiker and took him under his wing.

They’d remained good friends, but lost contact when Tak transferred to Harvard to finish his doctorate in geology and later returned to join the faculty at the university. Mike speed-dialed the geology department and it rang and rang. Finally, a young woman answered the phone.

“Geology Department, University of Arizona. Bear down, Wildcats!”

“I’d like to speak to Professor Takura, please.”

“I’m sorry, there’s no one here by that name.”

“What? Where is he?” Mike furrowed his brow.

“I’m sorry, sir, I don’t know.”

“Is Professor Lopez there?”

“Hold on.”

“Professor Lopez. Who’s calling?”

“Julio, this is Mike Evans.”

“Mike! What’s up, man?”

“Hey, I was trying to get in touch with Tak, but I understand he’s not there anymore. Where’d he go?”

“Don’t know, man. A few years ago, he went on a sabbatical and never came back. His parents told us the ship he was on disappeared in a bad storm.”

“You mean it sank.”

“No, man. It vanished. No debris, no oil slick, no survivors. Nothing.”

“Weird. I got an email from him at the radio station last week asking for an interview so I agreed. He sent Olivia Richards to speak to me.  She’s a famous journalist who went missing a few years ago. She was on a ship in a storm, too. Anyway, she told me that they were stranded on an island called Seaward Isle, somewhere in space at the end of a wormhole with Elves. I didn’t believe her.”

“Elves? Was she high?” Lopez paused. “You don’t think it’s real, do you?”

“I don’t know, man. They were both lost at sea.” Mike sighed, leaning back. “Thanks, man or should I say Professor?” He laughed and disconnected the call. After a few moments, he scrolled through his list of contacts and called one of them.

The receptionist said, “You have reached the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. How may I direct your call?”

“Doctor Rachel Goodwin, geology division.”

“Hold on while I connect you.”

“Doctor Goodwin speaking.”

“Hey, Rachel. It’s me, Mike Evans from Tucson.”

“Seriously? After all these years?”

“Hey, I come in peace. I apologize for whatever I did.”

“You don’t remember?”

“Not exactly. Hey, have you been in contact with Tak from college? The Japanese guy?”

“You mean the nice guy who asked me for a date and you told him he was nuts?”

“Um, yeah, him. I think he’s in trouble and needs help. Julio told me that he was on a ship that disappeared in a storm, a few years ago, but he just emailed me for an interview on my radio program. He sent a friend, Olivia Richards, the famous journalist. She was lost at sea, too.”

“So you don’t have a regular job yet?”

“Not fair. I want you to listen to it, okay? Just listen and tell me what you think.”

“Okay.” She sighed.

Mike played the program. “Well, what do you think?”

Silence.

“Rachel? Are you there?”

“Yes. Is this a joke?”

“That’s what I thought, too, but Tak couldn’t tell a joke if his life depended on it.”

She paused. “You’re right. Send me a link to your program.”

“Thanks, Rachel.” Mike sighed deeply when Rachel hung up. She hadn’t changed much and still resented that prank, but he’d always found her attractive. Maybe he should try again, someday. Mike shivered when the air conditioning kicked on; he’d been sweating heavily. He emailed her the link and leaned back. What if it’s real? Nah! Can’t be, can it?

Joni Parker, RWISA Author Page

 

Watch RWISA Write: Joan Curtis

August is Watch RWISA Write month. Today, we celebrate author Joan Curtis!

 

A Gift of Silence

By Joan C. Curtis

 

 

The man stood outside the store window, shifting from foot to foot. I’d have probably gone right by him, but as I passed, he looked me straight in the face, sending a chill up my back. Mystified, I found a place in the shadows and watched.

 

He wore a black golf shirt with a Nike swoosh. His black slacks were neatly pressed, but scuffs covered the toes of his dark shoes. As he paced in front of the store, as if waiting for something or someone, his left foot dragged. Maybe that was where the scuffs came from. A girl passed by him without so much as a glance. She wore flip-flops and short shorts. He turned away from her. Why look me in the face and ignore this young girl with long flowing blond hair?

 

After an interminable twelve minutes, he entered the store. I crept to the side window to get a closer view. A saleslady approached with a big hopeful smile. He jerked away as if he might flee, but she persisted. Probably learned that in Sales 101.

 

Peering inside, I could make out the blurry image of the saleslady as she crouched down to retrieve a box. While she bent, the man grabbed an item off the counter. He pocketed it so fast if I’d blinked, I’d have missed it. Gasping in surprise, I nearly collapsed into the window. So neat. So fast.

 

While I recovered from the shock of having witnessed a theft, the man exited the store. He hurried in the direction of downtown. Hands tucked in his pockets and his head lowered, he wove along the sidewalk, avoiding moms with kids, students with backpacks, and cyclists. I followed. What did he plan to do with his ill-gotten gains?

 

My friend, Rose, would give me a lecture. Why didn’t you go inside the store and raise the alarm? What were you thinking, watching, witnessing, and doing nothing? No wonder we pay so much money for our trinkets. Thieves get away with it, and it’s all because of people like you. But, I never intended to tell Rose about this. Not if I could help it.

 

Instead, I hastened to follow the man, avoiding other shoppers and site-seers. My sole purpose was to find out what this strange person was up to. My watch read two-fifteen. I had missed the coffee date with my cousin. She’d forgive me. I’d have to make up an excuse about traffic or something equally lame, but I couldn’t think about her now. I had to see where this man led me. My curious nature would never let me rest otherwise.

 

Moments later he entered the parking deck. He was going to his car. Darn! Once he got in a car, I’d lose him for sure. My Honda was parked here as well, but on the top level. With my luck, his was probably on the first level. It was impossible to imagine we’d be parked close enough for me to follow him.

 

He entered the elevator. The light flashed up to level 4. I raced up the stairs like a madwoman. Huffing and puffing, I reached the fourth level just as the elevator doors opened. I caught a glimpse of his black form walking to a red Kia. I made a quick turn and hightailed it up to the fifth floor to retrieve my car. Then I plowed down toward the exit, round and round, hoping, praying. Eureka! The red Kia was just in front of me, waiting to pay. The Universe was on my side.

 

Mr. Thief drove with caution, obeying all the traffic rules, making it easy for me to keep him in sight. Nonetheless, I stayed one car back, not wanting to risk him seeing me. Maybe he’d remember me from the street! A shiver ran through me. What would he do, this thief? Stop his car, jump out, and murder me? Absurd.

 

The light changed. We moved down the road. A strange thought filled my head. Had the Universe wanted me to witness this thievery? Everything seemed to be falling into place. “Don’t be stupid.” Rose would say and would add I was being melodramatic.

 

We turned into the parking lot for the Hermitage Nursing Home. This made no sense. Why not a pawn shop? Didn’t thieves go to shady establishments on busy street corners with flashing neon signs to hock their merchandise? Not to a nursing home. Maybe he worked here? Maybe he was some sort of klepto and couldn’t help himself? Maybe he had no intention of hocking the stolen article? He pulled into a parking place a few steps from the entrance. I chose one farther away. From my rearview mirror, I spied him getting out of the car and entering the building.

 

Once he disappeared, I made my way inside and approached the information desk where a girl of about twenty had her head buried in a People magazine. When she finally looked my way, her eyes filled with wonder, as if I’d dropped from the sky, “Can I help you?” she said.

 

“The man who just came in. He dropped a five-dollar bill in the parking lot. I ran after him, but I missed him. Do you know where he might be?”

 

“Oh, that’s Jerome. He’s visiting his mom. Comes every day at least once. Want me to give it to him?”

 

I hesitated. She blinked. “Well… I guess it won’t hurt for you to go down to room 212. It’s the last room on the right, down that corridor.” She pointed the direction.

 

I moseyed away as if I had all the time in the world. Once out of her view, I picked up my pace. Conversation came from room 212. Mr. Thief was talking very loudly. Apparently his mom had hearing issues.

 

At the door, I peered inside where Mr. Thief perched on the edge of the bed near an attractive woman with cottony white hair.

 

“You shouldn’t have, Jerome. I know how much this place is costing you,” the woman said.

 

“But, Mom, it’s your birthday. I wanted to give you a little something.”

 

“Just having you here is enough. But, I do like bracelets. You know how I like bracelets. Remember when your dad gave me a diamond bracelet—of course, I didn’t know it wasn’t diamonds then. It wasn’t till later. Remember? After he died and left nothing but bills and debts, I tried to sell the bracelet and found out it was worthless. I flushed it down the commode.”

 

“I remember, Mom. You told me that story. I wanted you to have a real diamond bracelet before… well, you know.”

 

She hugged him. “This is the best gift ever.”

 

I backed away from the room, my heart racing.

 

Back in my car I didn’t wait for Mr. Thief, a.k.a. Mr. Nice Son, to come out of the building.  I started the engine and drove home.

Joan Curtis, RWISA Author Page