“What’s A Miracle?”

Years back a young minister would make the rounds of his parish at random. Being a bachelor himself, he never gave much thought to the time of routines in other homes. He seemed quite unaware of what time most people ate their dinner and that sort of thing. Consequently he was very apt to knock on a parishioner’s door not long before the family was ready to sit down to a meal.

One day he arrived at one family’s home not long before dinner and was invited to sit in the parlor until the man of the house finished up a few chores. Then he was welcome to  join them for the meal if he wished. While he sat there, the couple’s small son came in. After shaking hands and saying a polite the lad looked up at the minister and asked, “Sir, can you tell me what’s a miracle?”

The Minister tried to come up with a simple enough explanation that the lad could understand. Then he asked, “Why are you wondering about miracles?”

“Because when Mom saw you coming up the walk she told Dad, ‘Here comes the minister and it will be a miracle if he doesn’t stay for supper.’ ”

As Grandma used to say: “Little pitchers have big ears.”

It’s YOUR Face

Photo prompt © Roger Bultot

Time for another Friday Fictioneers tale. This group is hosted by the kindly and ever-smiling Rochelle Wisoff-Fields over at Addicted to Purple. As usual she’s presented us with a picture that should unleash our creative energy — and then it’s cut, cut, cut. A most valuable exercise for learning concision. If you wish to participate, check her blog for details. Everyone is welcome to submit a story.

A special thanks goes to Roger Bultot for supplying us with this photo. Since it’s his photo, lent to the group specifically for this week’s prompt, it must not be “borrowed” by anyone for any other purpose without asking permission.

My mind bounced around on this prompt and finally came up with the following 100-word tale:

It’s Your Face

There she is, conceited, backstabbing brat. Hanging out with my former friends. Probably flirting with that server like she does with all the guys in the office. She makes my blood boil!

I feel a hand on my shoulder. “Too much lemon in the drink today,” Mike from accounts-receivable asks.

I nod toward the giggling trio. “If you only knew!”

“I do know… some at least. Yeah, she’s annoying, but let it go. It’s disfiguring your face.”

I hear her laugh and grit my teeth. “She’s so fake!”

Mike shrugs. “It’s your face,” he says as he turns away.

Winnie on Tour

Town Hall

“Awesome architecture!” Raylene snapped another picture.

Winnie eyed the building. “All that brick to whitewash.”

“To achieve such symmetry back in those days…”

Winnie frowned. “All those windows to clean.”

“Oh, well. Help was cheap back then.”

They heard some chatter and the two cousins turned to watch a number of children crossing the street. “Looks like a school tour,” Raylene commented.

“Now there’ll be grubby little fingerprints everywhere.”

Raylene sighed and turned to gaze at the City Hall again. “I think those flower boxes add such a nice touch. Don’t you? The town fathers back then didn’t cheap out when they set up office.”

“Still don’t,” Winnie grumbled. “Just think how much red tape they could produce in an office this size.”

At that second Raylene wished for a roll of duct tape in her hand. She pushed the uncharitable thought away and checked her program. “I see the castle tour is next.”

“Hope we do the dungeon. Dungeons have always fascinated me.”

Raylene rolled her eyes. Somehow that fits. Then another thought flashed through her mind and she chuckled. Her cousin Winnie could probably bring an ‘Iron maiden’ to tears.

Winnie looked at her curiously. “Did I miss something funny?”

“Oh, I was just remembering how the cream on our table at the bistro was sour.”

“Hmph! That’s funny? And our table was the only one with sour cream. Really odd, I’d say.”

“Yes. An odd sort of funny. Let’s go find the rest of our group.”

Victims of Peace

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the gentle and long-suffering Rochelle-Wisoff Fields. And today Sandra Cook, who blogs at castellsarrasin has offered the photo prompt, hoping it will get our creative juices flowing.

My response this week comes from a rather unusual source. Lately I’ve been contemplating one line from a 60’s song:  (House of the Rising Sun)
“I’ve got one foot on the Platform and one foot on the train…”

So which way will this person go? There’s probably a zillion ways a writer could portray this “point of decision” scenario, but I’ve come up with this one. Sorry, no chuckles today.

Ilisius tightened the backpack straps and showed Nakala the cord. “A good hard tug will set off the charge. Mix with the tourists; get into the Council chamber if possible. Take out as many as you can.”

Nakala’s voice trembled. “They say they want peace.”

Ilisuis snorted. “Peace! Never peace nor justice while these fiends rule. We must destroy them. Whenever, wherever.”

Later on the balcony with other tourists Nakala watched the councillors below discussing funding for a zoo. Two children nearby grinned at her, their eyes sparkling.

“The victims of peace,” she acknowledged as her fingers worried the fraying cord.

When Children Divide the Nickels

Back in 1899 a thirteen-year-old Ontario girl named Christina Young kept a diary for that year of her life. One of her entries tells of a day her father had taken her and her sister Annie, two years older, to town when he had some shopping to do.

He gave the girls some money and let them choose some candy from the General Store; to Annie he gave 10¢ and to Christina 5¢ – probably a generous sum in those days.

However, Christina protested that Annie had gotten more. “That’s because Annie’s older,” he explained. And back in those days a child didn’t dare contradict a parent, especially Father.

Nevertheless Christina felt the sting of injustice. That night she grumbled in her diary: “It wasn’t very fair. After all, it’s not my fault that Annie’s older. And I can eat just as much candy as she can.”

Holiday Adventure Surprise

It was all Shanz’s idea that we take this scenic trip through the hills and spend a few days at Pineridge Lodge, a great “wilderness adventure” he’d read about. Boating, swimming, fishing, all gear for rent at lowest rates. Sounded like a great plan! And after all, we guys hadn’t taken time for ourselves or gone anywhere special for at least five years. Time we took ourselves off for a relaxing male-bonding holiday.

Shanz sweetened the prospect considerable by showing us an ad in the Turnbull News Herald where the Barnum & Willsby Railroad was offering a bargain rate. “Tuesdays and Thursdays only, special discount fare to Catfish Bay with connections to Pineridge Lodge.” So Shanz, Lester, Nate and I reserved a “Three-day Lodging-plus-Meals package” and we each bought B&W Rail’s bargain ticket, leaving on a Thursday.

For the next few weeks we carried on like little boys headed for a Disneyland holiday. Sad to say, though, Nate had to cancel out on Monday ‘cause his in-laws showed up for a surprise visit. He almost shed tears when he told us about his change of plans.

The rest of us boarded the train this morning expecting to ride all the way to Catfish Bay. But we found out when we got here that there was some fine print we never read. You see, the Lodge is six miles out of town. And the fare, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, doesn’t cover those last six miles.

The agent said we could wait over ‘til tomorrow afternoon, when the local train that does go out to the Lodge hits town. But by the time we got there we’d almost have to turn around and go home again.

So what do you do if you wanna get there today? Hire a taxi for an additional $50? Nope, not us. We got more energy than money.

Too bad Nate couldn’t make it. He’ll be downright grieved missing out on this adventure.

Walking the tracks

Creature Comforts Indeed!

“Heat the church? Spend money on a stove? Whatever For?”

The little Scottish congregation was divided; some muttered that this was going too far while others nodded in approval when the subject was brought up at the parish meeting. Other churches were installing stoves, so why not. They definitely added to the comfort of the flock — which might well mean more of the flock would come to services on chilly winter days.

Of course this touch of creature-comfort or “catering to the flesh” in the very kirk itself met with resistance from some of the older folks who’d worshiped all their lives without extra heat. You just dress warmer in winter. Any fool knows that.

No one frowned on this indulgence more than one dear old grannie I’ll call Mrs Ross. She was adamant that there was no need to heat the kirk. Her forefathers didn’t have heated churches and what was good enough for them was good enough for her—and should be good enough for the young ones. But she was outnumbered by the more self-indulgent ones in the congregation. A stove was purchased and installed.

Of course the news spread rapidly through the close-knit Scottish community. And the next Sunday was a cold day, so this old Grandmother came to church as warmly wrapped as ever — if not more so.

After the first hymns Grannie Ross removed her heavy coat with a flourish and mutters. After the opening prayer, in another protest against the unnecessary heat, she discarded her thick sweater. When the minister stood up to bring the message, Grandma put on her star performance: she took off her wool scarf, mopped the sweat from her brow and fell over in a faint.

This little act caused the sensation she’d hoped. Several members rushed to assist her. Now everyone could see the dire consequences of having the kirk heated!

As an usher helped her out of the church, he whispered in her ear, “If you’re so hot today, Mrs Ross, how much more will you suffer next Sunday when we actually light the stove?”