The Squall

after-the-squall

Storms, in the form of know-it-all boors, damage online communities, too…

It came out of the blue, a slight breeze at first —
Surely nothing to cause any worry.
Then thunder rolled; it was such a cloudburst!
Menacing, and not in a great hurry.

Long craved, perhaps: Absolute dominion!
A purlieu over which to run roughshod.
But ‘truth’ unmasked as haughty opinion,
The Squall revealed a brusque, humorless clod.

Despite claims to be caring and witty,
What occurred was blustering about.
Some thought it called for patience and pity;
Ah, but why pity a blathering lout?

At last the maelstrom packed up and moved on.
After all the harm done, we’re glad that it’s gone.

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© 2011 by M.P. Witwer • All rights reserved
Photo: ‘After the Squall,’ © 2013 by M.P. Witwer

Straight or Left

lake-pontchartrain-ksbrooks-creditedBy M.P. Witwer

Taking a deep breath and pursing her lips, Tanya depressed the accelerator. Straight it would be.

Straight away from her lifetime home. Straight into the unknown. Straight onto the longest bridge in the world — ironic for someone panicky about crossing bridges, but that was how desperate her situation had become.

After discovering his great-grandmother’s “collection,” Jesse had immersed himself in the dark arts, over time morphing into a scary and paranoid Doppelganger, the very opposite of the man she had married.

When Tanya confronted him, he claimed it was all in fun, that the bizarre rituals he performed didn’t really do anything. But she knew better, on both counts. The last straw came when she found him, trance-like, mumbling an incantation over their wedding photo. Tanya waited until he’d left, then packed the car and headed for the bridge.

Her fear lifted as she drove. She felt ready to start over, comfortable facing the unfamiliar.

All too soon, however, the “other side” began to seem familiar. Frighteningly familiar. Spotting a Piggly Wiggly store just like the one at home didn’t unsettle her, but seeing the identical twin of their local diner next to it did. An exact replica of Pontchartrain Elementary three blocks away sent her into a cold sweat. Tanya haltingly followed her usual route, dread growing with each well-known landmark. She parked and sat in terrified silence, staring at her house — and Jesse out front, expecting her.

“Welcome home, darlin’,” he drawled, his eyes gleaming red. “Welcome home.

* * *
© 2015 by M.P. Witwer • All rights reserved

Originally published at www.indiesunlimited.com on April 10, 2015. Photo of Lake Pontchartrain © K.S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Book Brief: ‘Lost and Found’

“Lost and Found” (the second installment of the Short Tales series launched with “Writer’s Block“) is now available as an ebook published by Select Stories. The story is an affectionate look at a few of the pitfalls and mishaps faced by Jane and Martin, a couple navigating a new romance. Both have past histories: love, loss and unforeseen changes, but through everything, they’ve been bolstered by their dog and cat, companions as devoted to each other as they are to their people. The appearance of a vindictive ex serves to catapult the two-legged protagonists into action, spurred on by an unexpected development.

Title: Lost and Found: A Short Tale of Dogged Determination
Author: M.P. Witwer
Length: Approximately 2,300 words

Available for free at Amazon.com Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble Nook Books, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords and Inktera, and with subscription at Scribd and Oyster. Coming soon to Flipkart. Also available at all international Amazon sites.

 

The Woman With Nine Lives

By M.P. Witwer

The first time she might have died came at age 17, when a saddle horse reared and threw her, breaking her back.

Over the years, she survived many more life-threatening events, each worse than the last: Guillain-Barré syndrome and its accompanying complete if temporary paralysis, pneumonia, spinal stenosis requiring two surgeries, an aneurysm (two more operations, and yes, they were brain surgery), a stroke, a heart attack, another bout of pneumonia. Resilient and resolute, she snubbed death eight times.

That last morning, she awoke with a little sniffle. By evening she was gone, done in by a common cold.

* * *
© 2013 by M.P. Witwer • All rights reserved

Bernard, a Very Brave Bear

teddybear

By M.P. Witwer

Max was excited. Bubbie was coming over, and Mommy said she was bringing a surprise for him! He could barely wait to find out what it might be.

He thought hard. Maybe it would be a toy truck or a new ball — or maybe even some Legos. Whatever it was, Max knew it would be great, because Bubbie always picked the best presents.

After what seemed like hours and hours, Max finally heard someone climbing the steps. It had to be Bubbie! He ran to the front hall but waited for Mommy to open the door, just as she had taught him.

“Bubbieeeee!” he squealed, bouncing over to his grandmother as soon as she stepped inside. Setting down her purse and the big box she was carrying, she scooped Max up in a hug. This was the best part, because Max liked hugs from Bubbie more than anything else. He felt safe and protected in her arms, and now snuggled against her, for the moment forgetting any thoughts of what she had brought him.

“How’s my favorite grandchild today?” she asked, tousling his already messy hair.

As he always did, Max giggled at the question. He had to be Bubbie’s favorite, since he was her only grandchild.

She lowered him to the floor, then picked up the box. Max studied it with renewed curiosity. It was bigger than a toy truck, not the right shape for a ball, and didn’t rattle like Legos. His excitement started to bubble up again.

“Let’s sit on the couch,” Bubbie suggested. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet.” Continue reading

Book Brief: ‘Writer’s Block’

“Writer’s Block,” an award-winning short story by M.P. Witwer, is now a free ebook published by Select Stories. The story follows a noted writer who hits the wall with her current project and heads to the beach to concentrate on her work, but instead finds an endearing distraction or two. It has been called “magnificently well-crafted,” “clever,” “a charming story, very original and creative” and “a wonderful read.”

Title: Writer’s Block: A Short Tale of Seaside Serendipity
Author: M.P. Witwer
Length: Approximately 4,500 words
Available at: Amazon Kindle Store, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader Store, Inktera, Diesel eBooks, Flipkart and Smashwords

Déjà View

By M.P. Witwer

After experiencing the scene again and again in his dreams, those awful nightmares that drew him here to Times Square, Evan knows every detail before it happens.

A flag twisted by the wind is about to tear free of its anchor and sail away. The Diet Coke ad will morph into a pitch for regular Coke. Someone wearing a red coat on the steps ahead is going to trip but not fall. And at precisely 2:17 p.m., a girl will plummet from the tower.

Quickening his pace, he steals a glance at his watch. He has less than a minute to prevent her death. But how? The dreams haven’t revealed that piece of information.

As he sprints toward an unknown destiny, the events unfold on cue. The flag whips violently. The giant screen changes from white to red. His vision sweeps toward the red coat, but the lettering on the base of the intervening monument catches his eye and stops him short — “Father Duffy,” it reads.

He closes his eyes, envisioning the familiar image. The statue in the dreams depicted another World War I hero, Sergeant York, he’s absolutely certain. If the nightmares had been wrong about that…

Evan looks around, taking in everything. The woman in red glides down the steps without stumbling. The flag miraculously hangs on by a thread. No girl has fallen.

He checks his watch. 2:19. Feeling a mixture of relief and foolishness, he walks away. Time to go home to Kansas.

* * *
This piece was written for and ultimately won a weekly Indies Unlimited flash fiction contest. Please see the original post for details of the challenge and the photo prompt referenced in the story: Flash Fiction Challenge: Déjà View

Perfectly Imperfect

lotion-stand

My lotion stand, may it rest in pieces.

 

By M.P. Witwer

Even though I don’t consider myself to be a perfectionist, I’ve learned that others hold a different view. My daughter has admonished me for it, my mother has teased me about it, and when the instructor of my clay class said there’s one in every group, all eyes turned toward me.

Two things should be pointed out from the start: 1. This tendency, which I will grudgingly admit may (does) indeed exist, extends only to professional and creative endeavors (as those who have observed my housekeeping efforts may attest); and 2. I do not hold anyone else to such exacting standards. Really, I don’t even expect perfection from myself, but it usually is my goal.

Armed with this knowledge, I have been proactively pursuing a plan to pocket my penchant for perfection. I’m also attempting to alleviate alliteration, but that’s another story.

It was with my perfectionism-reducing agenda in mind that I set out recently to make a ceramic tray for a lotion dispenser. I had a rough notion of what I wanted to do, but didn’t take any measurements or create a template for the project. My idea was to craft a rectangular tile with a circular indentation at one end for the base of the bottle to sit in, while the spout perched over the tray so any drips would wind up on the lotion stand and not on the bathroom counter. It didn’t need to be perfect, just functional. Continue reading

The Assignment

By M.P. Witwer

“He would never forget those hands.” Frowning, Karen crossed out the sentence — too ambiguous.

She shifted nervously in the waiting room chair, trying to concentrate on her creative writing assignment to “craft a complete, unequivocal story using six words.”

“Screw you and your impossible assignment.” Probably wouldn’t fly.

Eventually, just one line remained:

“Relief came, then tears: ‘It’s benign.’”

Perfect. With a wan smile, she nodded in faint satisfaction.

Upon hearing her name called, however, Karen’s anxiety returned. She stowed her notebook, rose unsteadily and followed the nurse — clutching a fervent hope that life was about to imitate art.

* * *
© 2013 by M.P. Witwer • All rights reserved