Short Story Sunday: Magnolia

Nobody takes notice of frumpy middle-aged women walking old dogs. Magnolia walked down the path through the trees. She thought of the Hawthorne story Young Goodman Brown imagining when he walked down the path to find his innocent young wife dancing with the Devil. That was an odd thought for an Easter morning.

It had been years since she’d been to church. She hated to be a holiday Christian. She hated going to church, always had. Yet, she loved the old music and certain songs.

Christ has risen.

He has risen indeed.

Someone called her name. She turned around to find her neighbors. They were on their way down to the lake for a sunrise service.

“Come with us,” they said.

She hesitated then decided to join them. Down at the edge of the water they sang traditional hymns she’d known as a child. It was a gathering of joy and love with words of hope. Old people, youngsters, babies and dogs were all there. Even the geese and ducks had come to the gathering by the edge of the lake.

After saying goodbye to a few friends and neighbors she made her way back up the trail towards home. All the dusty file drawers in her mind opened up letting the memories and thoughts flow. She thought of the Easter dresses her mother would sew when she was small. She wondered why people were so fascinated with the sexist patriarchy Duggar family and the freakish sleazy Kardashians. The idea of all of them disgusted her. She thought about how she should have gone to a different college.

She wondered if anything she’d ever done had mattered. What she was doing now mattered, sort of, at least to her kids, but she wondered about the past. Did any of her old boyfriends ever think of her? Could she have ever been the CEO of a creative empire? Could she have won an Oscar? What if she’d gone to Nepal with Mac Andrews or moved to Santa Barbara with Bill Van Pelt? Why had she come back to her parents after she’d backpacked alone across England? Would the kids like a raspberry coffee cake or blueberry muffins today? She’d send the extras home with her brother because she didn’t want them around the house to tempt her later. He said he was going to bring a green salad but she was afraid he’d bring potato salad. At least they’d have wine.

She wondered if life would have been different if she’d had a different name. She was always Magnolia, never Maggie or Nola.

Stopping at the top of the bluff she looked across the lake to the next town over. She was invisible. Women like her always were. A short, overweight, frumpy woman of no consequence. People were always telling her “if I had your talent I’d rule the world” or do something wonderful. That was if THEY had her talent. Her passion had been beaten out of her. She was always up for more rejection and in turn, more discovery, but… maybe she’d take a Zumba class at the gym. Zumba sounded like a lot of fun and if she took it easy she wouldn’t hurt her knee again.

At the end of the trail she saw a man. She smiled. What if he really was a Vampire and offered to take her away, or at least offered her a new life. Would she take it? No, it would be too much work. What if the woods were haunted? Did ghosts of Victorian lovers and Jazz singers dance through the night together. She passed the man, a young man in his 20’s with a large brown dog of unknown breed. Her large white dog of unknown breed sniffed it, everyone exchanged greetings and went on their way.

At home her family was just getting up. The kids gave her sleepy kisses. Her husband had started coffee and was making smoothies for the kids. So much for coffee cake but smoothies were always a good thing. He always put too much honey in them but she never said anything to him about it.

“Did you have a good walk?” Her husband gave her a hug as he asked her.

“It was nice. A lot of birds were out.” She didn’t say anything else. Magnolia was so used to not being heard that it was easier just to be the invisible woman.

Pouring a cup of coffee and went out on her deck. Her husband came out and said, “you’re quiet. What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing really. Nothing that matters.”

 

~end~

IMG_1638

First posted in 2015

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: College Daze

Ninety percent of my time as an undergrad was spent in weird Dr. Harrison’s biochemistry lab. The other ten percent of my time was living vicariously through my roommate Tony, who partied and got laid enough for an entire frat house full of horny guys.

Mavis stood up and stepped away from the keyboard. Earlier in the week she’d dropped her eighteen year old son Axel off at college – the same college she’d gone to. Now she was starting notes for her seventeenth novel in the popular Detective Star Landers Mystery Series.

She didn’t want her son to be like either one of the characters in her novel. She knew he wouldn’t be like Tony, but then again you never really knew what your kids were up to when they weren’t with you.

Axel was the youngest of her three kids. Jared and Zoe were also in college at opposite ends of the state. Axel was in the middle. She went outside with her coffee cup and looked at the backyard the kids had played in for years. Two dogs of unknown breeds were sleeping under the shade of the trees. Both animals were from the county shelter. The kids were helped pick them out. A lot of memories were in that yard and with those dogs.

After making more coffee Mavis sat down at her laptop again. She looked outside through the window and thought of her own college days. She didn’t think about it much. She didn’t keep in touch with anyone. After taking a sip of coffee she started to write again.

He did make time for Darcie. All he had to do was show up at her door and she’d screw him silly. She never expected love. Just friendship and sex. He was always up for that. One night he’d shown up at the little house she’d rented behind a bigger house. It was really more of a shed with a kitchen and bathroom added on to it. Anyway, it was 2:00 a.m. and Darcie was wearing a robe. Her face was red and swollen. It looked like her hands were covered in blood. 

She told him that she’d been attacked by a guy named Clayton Jones. Sure everyone knew Clay. He thought he was God’s gift to women, but slutty Darcie would never sleep with him. Clay called her a whore. She shrugged. 

Darcie had been to a party that night. Clay had tried to get her to fuck him. As always she said no. About twenty minutes after she got home Clay came to call. He beat her up and raped her. When he was done she hit him on the head with a lamp. 

Mavis looked up and rubbed her eyes. Then she started in on her notes again.

He was bleeding. He called her a bitch. She said she’d take him to the hospital. Down the road, behind a warehouse, she covered his car with lighter fluid and dropped a match on it. Poof. It with up in flames with Clay in the passenger seat. She walked home, and that is where I found her, sitting in her robe, covered in blood. 

Mavis saved the file. Then she deleted it.

She sipped her coffee again. Earlier in the week Axel had asked her about her college years. She’d told him it was sort of boring. She liked the classes but didn’t get into the social life part. Then her youngest son asked her if she knew that guy Clay who’d been murdered. She told him no. She didn’t know anything about it.

“You met dad in college. Did he know that guy Clay?” Axel had asked.

“He might have,” said Mavis, then she changed the subject.

She started a new page.

I never told anyone what Mavis did. 

Then she erased that line, and called her husband. Not for any reason. Just to tell him that she loved him. That was all

 

~ end

 

 

 

The Travelers: A Tale of Mystery, Love and Hope

A Christmas Tradition at Vampire Maman

The Travelers

A Christmas Tale of Mystery, Love and Hope
from Juliette Kings

The night was falling on the travelers, Daniel and his son Tad and daughter Ada. They had to stop before the dark of night and freezing snowfalls. The father and his children were finally going home, from the broken dreams of gold to the city where Daniel had found a job in his profession of typesetter and reporter. When his wife had passed on he followed his dream to the California gold fields taking his teenage children with him. For good or bad they’d made the new state their home.

As the snow began to fall they came upon a cabin, the door boarded up from the outside, the windows shuttered. It looked deserted and like shelter for the night. Dan and his son pried the nails off of the boards, which secured the door and went into the two-room structure. Inside was a cozy room with a fireplace, comfortable chairs and a wall full of books. Dan sent Tad out to bring in firewood.

Ada went to the bedroom and called her father. On the bed was a man, still as the night, cold and pale as the snow. In his arms, wrapped in blanket was a tiny girl in a red velvet hat, a scarf covered up most of her small face. She was also still and pale.

Ada’s heart sank. The poor souls in the bed looked to have passed on. But why were they trapped in the cabin? Had they been sick? Why were they not buried with a prayer and the proper respect? The man’s coat was obviously expensive and of the finest materials. His boots were of the most beautiful leather and style. His face was handsome and refined. Ada took off her glove and touched the back of her hand to the man’s face. He was indeed cold as ice and still as death. She called in her father.

“I know this man.” He said. “A fine man. A poet. I heard him read when I was in San Francisco. What a tragic pity to find him here with his child.”

The looked upon the bodies of the father and child when they saw the slightest movement and the man opened his eyes.

“My daughter, please help her,” whispered the man on the bed.

Ada took the girl in her arms. She weighed almost nothing. The child let out a sigh. Ada brought the girl into the other room and sat in a rocking chair by the fire Tad had built. The girl started to move and put her face against Ada’s warm neck. Ada soon fell asleep with dreams of flowers and all things good.

In the morning the poet and child were gone.

The travelers found box covered with red paper. In the box was a golden heart and a note to Ada.

 

Dearest Ada,

This heart belonged to my dear wife who was murdered by villains of the vilest kind. Please wear it knowing that you will always be loved and you will always be a part of us.

TK

 

On the table in the front room was a bounty of food. Where had it come from? There were fresh baked goods, milk and juice, exotic fruits, sausages and chocolates. Under small quilted cozies were pots with fragrant tea and coffee. Another note was slipped under the teapot.

Daniel read the note aloud to his children.

 

My heart thanks you for your generosity.

You saved our lives.

You never questioned who had trapped us or hurt us.

You never judged us.

You never feared us.

The love between parent and his children is burned into your heart like the fires that burn in the heavenly stars.

My daughter and I will never forget you.

Your children and their children and their children will always be safe and watched over and kept from the harm of wicked men. I owe and promise you that.

Never fear the night or the darkness for we will always be watching your back.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas.

~ Thomas Kent

 

As the travelers ate they talked of the sweet dreams they’d had the night before, along with stiff necks they had that morning. Daniel and his children  spoke of Mr. Kent and his precious daughter and wondered why they’d been trapped in the cabin.

Many many years later after a long and wonderful life full of romance and adventure, Ada fingered the heart, which she still wore. As she took her last breath she said, “I have never known fear, only love”.

An ocean away Thomas Kent felt an icy wind, then hope and gratitude in his cold Vampire heart.

 

 

~ 2012 JK

parrish snow

 

Today is the 6th time I’ve published it here. It is also featured in the WPaD holiday story collection Tinsel Tales.

This story is near and dear to my heart. It is my gift to you. I hope you enjoyed it, and paused to think about the mysteries, acts of kindness, and love in your own life.

Merry Christmas everyone and may all of your mysteries be good ones.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Magnolia

Nobody takes notice of frumpy middle-aged women walking old dogs. Magnolia walked down the path through the trees. She thought of the Hawthorne story Young Goodman Brown imagining when he walked down the path to find his innocent young wife dancing with the Devil. That was an odd thought for an Easter morning.

It had been years since she’d been to church. She hated to be a holiday Christian. She hated going to church, always had. Yet, she loved the old music and certain songs.

Christ has risen.

He has risen indeed.

Someone called her name. She turned around to find her neighbors. They were on their way down to the lake for a sunrise service.

“Come with us,” they said.

She hesitated then decided to join them. Down at the edge of the water they sang traditional hymns she’d known as a child. It was a gathering of joy and love with words of hope. Old people, youngsters, babies and dogs were all there. Even the geese and ducks had come to the gathering by the edge of the lake.

After saying goodbye to a few friends and neighbors she made her way back up the trail towards home. All the dusty file drawers in her mind opened up letting the memories and thoughts flow. She thought of the Easter dresses her mother would sew when she was small. She wondered why people were so fascinated with the sexist patriarchy Duggar family and the freakish sleazy Kardashians. The idea of all of them disgusted her. She thought about how she should have gone to a different college.

She wondered if anything she’d ever done had mattered. What she was doing now mattered, sort of, at least to her kids, but she wondered about the past. Did any of her old boyfriends ever think of her? Could she have ever been the CEO of a creative empire? Could she have won an Oscar? What if she’d gone to Nepal with Mac Andrews or moved to Santa Barbara with Bill Van Pelt? Why had she come back to her parents after she’d backpacked alone across England? Would the kids like a raspberry coffee cake or blueberry muffins today? She’d send the extras home with her brother because she didn’t want them around the house to tempt her later. He said he was going to bring a green salad but she was afraid he’d bring potato salad. At least they’d have wine.

She wondered if life would have been different if she’d had a different name. She was always Magnolia, never Maggie or Nola.

Stopping at the top of the bluff she looked across the lake to the next town over. She was invisible. Women like her always were. A short, overweight, frumpy woman of no consequence. People were always telling her “if I had your talent I’d rule the world” or do something wonderful. That was if THEY had her talent. Her passion had been beaten out of her. She was always up for more rejection and in turn, more discovery, but… maybe she’d take a Zumba class at the gym. Zumba sounded like a lot of fun and if she took it easy she wouldn’t hurt her knee again.

At the end of the trail she saw a man. She smiled. What if he really was a Vampire and offered to take her away, or at least offered her a new life. Would she take it? No, it would be too much work. What if the woods were haunted? Did ghosts of Victorian lovers and Jazz singers dance through the night together. She passed the man, a young man in his 20’s with a large brown dog of unknown breed. Her large white dog of unknown breed sniffed it, everyone exchanged greetings and went on their way.

At home her family was just getting up. The kids gave her sleepy kisses. Her husband had started coffee and was making smoothies for the kids. So much for coffee cake but smoothies were always a good thing. He always put too much honey in them but she never said anything to him about it.

“Did you have a good walk?” Her husband gave her a hug as he asked her.

“It was nice. A lot of birds were out.” She didn’t say anything else. Magnolia was so used to not being heard that it was easier just to be the invisible woman.

Pouring a cup of coffee and went out on her deck. Her husband came out and said, “you’re quiet. What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing really. Nothing that matters.”

 

~end~

 

 

Stumped

April Fools Day!

At one time I was the absolute queen of April First. Anyway, no outlandish jokes for you today – just a story. You might have seen this one before but here it is again (no fooling.)

 

Stumped

A Short Story

 

I just got done removing a stump from the back yard and I’m sitting down to a beer and the game when the doorbell rings.

My wife is out shopping and the kids are off with friends. I’m enjoying a little quiet time, just me and the TV.

I answer the door, and there is a guy about my age standing there. He looks like he just came out of GQ Magazine with a jacket, perfect jeans, wearing shoes that costs as much as my house payment. His features are like an Italian Model or a Movie star, that sort of pretty but manly look that women go nuts over. His hair is perfect, thick and silver. He’s wearing a Rolex Submariner. Nice.

He gave me a pretty serious look then said, “I’m sleeping with your wife.”

All right, I wasn’t expecting that one. He then looked me up and down like he was waiting for me to beat the shit out of him. I’m a big guy. Not big and fat, but 6″4′ with fifty inch shoulders and a lot of gym time. I used to play football. This guy wasn’t small but I had a good five inches on him and maybe sixty pounds. He looked like a runner or one of those freaking guys who rides a bike in neon colored spandex shorts.

Honestly I should have beat the shit out of him, but that isn’t my style. I just went numb. Heather and I had been together for 20 years, married 17 of those years. We have two kids and a house and friends and … we were one of those perfect couples. You know, we laugh a lot and say the same thing at the same time. That sort of perfect. We hold hands and … I thought things were fine.

Sure she’d put on some weight and had a hard time dealing with her body image. Sure she was over worked with her job and the kids and with me. Sure she was stressed, but who isn’t? But… this handsome, obviously wealthy guy was standing here telling me that MY WIFE was sleeping with him.

He started talking about passion… her passion. Sure we had passion. That morning I’d almost been late for work because of her passion, our passion. But he got into details of fetish stuff he’d do with her and how he made her scream the way I never could. I had no idea she ever wanted any of that stuff. I sure didn’t want it.

Then, as I stood stunned, he talked about her beauty and how smart she was and how I could never ever appreciate her. He said the kids didn’t need her as much anymore, he said she loved him.

I could feel my body start to shake. My world was imploding around me. My throat was tight. I thought I was going to vomit on his expensive shoes. Finally I said something. “Does she know you’re here?”

Mr. GQ glared at me and said, “I’m taking her away to live the life she deserves.”

“Do you love Heather?” I asked. I had to know. I knew the answer but I wanted him to tell me.

His eyes opened as big as dinner plates. “Heather?”

“My wife,” I said.

“Your wife isn’t Allison?”

“Heather.” I grabbed the wedding photo off of the hutch in the front entryway and put it in his face. “Allison lives next door.”

“Uh, sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He didn’t go next door. He just got in his car and drove away. About 20 minutes later the front door opened and I heard a familiar voice, “Honey, I’m home. Did I miss anything?”

“No, just got the stump out and I’m watching the game. Hey, Heather, did I tell you that I think you’re beautiful?”

“Sure. Thanks for getting that stump out. Will you help me with the groceries?”

I follow her outside and she gives me a little smile, the kind she always does when she has something smart to say. “You know, you’re the only man I ever loved.”

I grab a couple of bags. “Good to know. Love you too.”

 

~ End ~

Short Story Sunday: Perfect in Almost Every Way

It wasn’t enough that she was perfect in almost every way. 

Marco read the first line of the mail he’d received from an old friend he’d gone to college with. “Son of a bitch,” he said aloud. “You finally did it.”

He called 911 and reported the confession.

This wasn’t the way Marco had planned on starting Sunday morning. It wasn’t the way anyone would plan any morning. Holy crap. The problem was that Marco had planned on killing the woman himself. She’d spent years glowing in her own perfection, taunting, teasing, and creating a world where no other woman existed.

On the sidelines was Marco’s wife Helena. Slightly overweight (more than slightly), forgetful, absent-minded, insecure and the object of scorn by her college roommate. She’d also become one of the top female CEO’s in the country. Yes, success is the best revenge. Well, almost the best revenge.

The last time Marco was at his friend’s house he was shown a packet of letters. Most started with the words she never loved you. Marco pocketed the letters. He still had them, locked away in the back of his gun safe.

Helena came into the room with their sleepy small daughter on her hip. “Morning dear husband,” she said.

“I have some bad news. Cassandra is dead. Dave killed her. He cut her face off.”

Helena called their son to come get his sister, then when the children were safely in the back bedroom she poured a cup of coffee and sat next to her husband. The talked about the murder and the horror of it all.

Marco put his hand on his wife’s. “I have the letters Helena. I took them when I recognized your handwriting.”

Helena pulled her hand away, then took a sip of coffee. “I wrote those letters 20 years ago. She didn’t love him. I did. But all the guys were wrapped around her little finger. She had all of you right in the palm of her hand. You know that. You all knew that. You were like a bunch of dogs. Why’d you keep the letters?”

“I don’t know.”

“I lost all respect for him. I moved on but the rest of you never did. Not even you.” She got up and went off to the find the children.

All those years… they all were in love with the wrong girl. Marco sat feeling numb. His wife wasn’t fat, she was curvy and sexy. She wasn’t stupid or shy, she was smart and thoughtful. He hadn’t taken second best. Marco tried to tell himself that but it was too soon to face reality. The fantasy had been too much fun. And in one moment his wife had killed it. A double murder of fantasy and reality. Huh. He’d have to write that thought down for his next book.

Later that day he put the letters through the paper shredder. Helena took the kids to the zoo without him. He wasn’t sure when she’d be back.

At the zoo Helena smiled at her two bundled up children as they marveled at the flamingos.  She smiled thinking of the last letter she’d sent only last week.

Dear Dave,

Casandra is still banging my husband. All of the guys are. It never stopped.

 

She wouldn’t leave Marco, not any more than he’d leave Sheila. Some people said success was the best revenge but that wasn’t true. Funny how things worked that way.

________________________________________

Moth

 

 

 

 

 

OK that was the story I wrote over my own cup of coffee this morning. I’ll work on it some more later.  If you’d like something lighter below is a story I first posted in 2013. It is one of my favorites. ~ Juliette

 

Stumped

I just got done removing a stump from the back yard and I’m sitting down to a beer and the game when the doorbell rings,

My wife is out shopping and the kids are off with friends. I’m enjoying a little quiet time, just me and the TV.

I answer the door, and there is a guy about my age standing there. He looks like he just came out of GQ Magazine with a jacket, perfect jeans, a shirt that costs as much as my house payment. His features are like an Italian Model or a Movie star, that sort of pretty but manly look that women go nuts over. His hair is perfect, thick and silver. He’s wearing a Rolex Submariner. Nice.

He gave me a pretty serious look then said “I’m sleeping with your wife.”

Alright, I wasn’t expecting that one. He then looked me up and down like he was waiting for me to beat the shit out of him. I’m a big guy. Not big and fat, but 6″4′ with 50 inch shoulders and a lot of gym time. I used to play football. This guy wasn’t small but I had a good 5 inches on him and maybe 60 pounds. He looked like a runner or one of those freaking guys who rides a bike in neon colored spandex shorts.

Honestly I should have beat the shit out of him, but that isn’t my style. I just went numb. Heather and I had been together for 20 years, married 17 of those years. We have two kids and a house and friends and … we were one of those perfect couples. You know, we laugh a lot and say the same thing at the same time. That sort of perfect. We hold hands and … I thought things were fine.

Sure she’d put on some weight and had a hard time dealing with her body image. Sure she was over worked with her job and the kids and with me. Sure she was stressed, but who isn’t? But… this handsome, obviously wealthy guy was standing here telling me that MY WIFE was sleeping with him.

He started talking about passion… her passion. Sure we had passion. That morning I’d almost been late for work because of her passion, our passion. But he got into details of fetish stuff he’d do with her and how he made her scream the way I never could. I had no idea she ever wanted any of that stuff. I sure didn’t want it.

Then, as I stood stunned, he talked about her beauty and how smart she was and how I could never ever appreciate her. He said the kids didn’t need her as much anymore, he said she loved him.

I could feel my body start to shake. My world was imploding around me. My throat was tight. I thought I was going to vomit on his expensive shoes. Finally I said something. “Does she know you’re here?”

Mr. GQ glared at me and said “I’m taking her away to live the life she deserves.”

“Do you love Heather?” I asked. I had to know. I knew the answer but I wanted him to tell me.

His eyes opened as big as dinner plates. “Heather?”

“My wife,” I said.

“Your wife isn’t Allison?”

“Heather.” I grabbed the wedding photo off of the hutch in the front entry way and put it in his face. “Allison lives next door.”

“Uh, sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He didn’t go next door. He just got in his car and drove away.

About 20 minutes later the front door opened and I heard a familiar voice “Honey, I’m home. Did I miss anything.”

“No, just got the stump out and I’m watching the game. Hey, did I tell you that I think you’re beautiful?” Then I took her hand and took her upstairs. It would be another 3 hours before the kids came home.

__________________________

Have a fun week everyone and don’t forget to enter the Vampire Maman Love Letter Contest (CLICK HERE for details and rules).

And if you’re missing your Vampire fix click here for a Vampire romance of a sorts: Perfection.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman