by Dan Keeble
Morning light streamed through the stained-glass window. It bathed the white leather in a kaleidoscope of colour. Anita loved the chair that had been her dream for so long, but didn’t sit in it. Instead, she glided around the room, taking in the magnificence of the home Jeff had converted from the abandoned village church.
Being an architect, Jeff insisted the small window depicting the Resurrection of Christ remained as a testament to the building’s former life. In return, he agreed to Anita bringing a 1960s tub style bucket chair from a local junk shop. It looked shabby but was a must have. For ten days since bringing it home, Anita spent each morning in the lounge admiring her purchase.
Time and reality scrambled.
Visions of elm and oak coffins paraded before her. They lay on a marble bier where Jenny’s dolls’ house now stood. Next to the fireplace, a wrought iron stand bearing an over-sized picture of the deceased would appear, recapturing some better moment. Mourners and a choir, seemed immersed in the cushions of the unit furniture that stretched the length of the natural brick walls. She could hear them singing. Sometimes a hymn. Another time, a joyful song for the radiant bride at the altar, now obscuring the TV cabinet.
Today there was a baptism at the front, not two feet from her presence. A minister was nervously holding a baby. It screamed so loudly Anita wondered if the neighbours could hear it.
The mornings brought a hazy parade of celebrations of life and death to her new home. She wished Jeff could share her daily experiences.
After collecting her from the after-school club, Jeff stood with Jenny beside his wife’s chair. He ran his hand slowly over its soft curvature.
“I wish mummy could have sat here,” he said.
“Has the other driver gone to heaven too, daddy?”
Jeff raised his pained eyes to the stained-glass window
“I don’t know, darling.”
Bio: Dan Keeble (79) hails from the furthest point East in the UK, and has enjoyed many successes with online and print publications of poetry, short stories, humour, and more serious articles. He has appeared in Fiction on the Web, Everyday Fiction, Turnpike Magazine, Scribble, Flash Fiction Magazine, Agape Review, and many others on a long journey to a stubby pencil.
by Linda Thornton Peterson
“Marcy, glad you came over. Tonight, Mama’s going to her first writers group since covid and bringing all eighty-five cupcakes she made for her birthday. She claims she’s an ‘expert baker’ ── since when?” Jake shook his head.
“Jake, will you go?” asked Marcy.
“I think it’s best if I go with her. She’s doing well enough, but does get a little confused when more than a few people are around her. I was just going to get changed.”
“Okay, I’ll check on Mama.”
Marcy went upstairs. “I came to see if you needed any help? Oh, Mama, you look great. Turn around, lemme me see. You should dress up more often. Jake’s getting ready to drive you.”
Mama tilted her chin, and dramatically made a circle. “See, I’m all set. Glad he’s taking me. I didn’t want to bother anyone for a ride. He might as well come in and listen to our stories.”
Jake grabbed the book bag and called out. “Okay, Mama, let’s go; I have everything.”
“I’ll get your coat,” Marcy offered.
“I’m warm enough with this sweater. It’s easy to take off if I get too hot, like I always do. Please make sure he has tonight’s story.”
Marcy followed them to the door and took Jake aside and said, “Let her hold onto your arm to and from the car.”
“Yeah, I know.”
When they arrived at the meeting, everyone was busy greeting each other after a two -year absence. Jake found seats in the front row, while Mama carefully arranged her eighty-six cupcakes (lagniappe) on a side table.
Jake was absorbed in the variety of stories once the readings began. Now, it was Mama’s turn. He had no idea what she’d written. As she walked toward the podium, the whole room suddenly erupted in a loud gasp. She froze, then turned, and saw Jake jump to his feet and race toward her. Confused, she looked at the members and saw a wall of startled faces with their mouths open. Jake grabbed her and franticly jerked the sweater and covered her chest.
Rushing up to the podium, she’d gotten hot, but had been so focused on reading her story she’d unbuttoned the front of her blouse, believing she was unbuttoning the front of her sweater.
Could anything worse happen── probably? He wasn’t taking the chance. “We’re leaving,” he told her and went straight to their chairs. He grabbed everything, including Mama, who adamantly protested all the way to the car that it was her turn to read──not to mention the coup de- grâce, to light all eighty-six candles on those, purrfectly baked, chocolate filled cupcakes.
Bio: Linda Thornton Peterson, a Louisiana native, retired from Northern Illinois University as a psychotherapist and teacher. Her short stories have appeared in The Greensilk Journal and Flash Fiction Magazine. Poetry publications include: The Greensilk Journal, The Hanging Moss Journal, the Western Colorado University Journal and Northern Illinois University Journals. She won an NIU faculty poetry award and is a founding member of three DeKalb writers’ groups. She was an Associated Press stringer photographer and an art teacher; she continues to exhibit her art and write.