Flash Fiction Friday Story: Going Home

Suitcases on the Road by Connie Cockrell using Suitcases by Frost_Stock via www.DeviantArt.com Road picture by Randy Cockrell

Suitcases on the Road by Connie Cockrell using Suitcases by Frost_Stock via www.DeviantArt.com and Road picture by Randy Cockrell

Zara cleaned off the end of the shelf where the waitresses kept their personal stuff. Nothing extravagant— her coffee mug, a baggie with spare hair elastics and ties, and her purse. The mug and baggie went into the last. The two other girls sent sympathetic looks in her direction but in the middle of the lunch rush, they couldn’t stop to give a proper goodbye.

Fine by her. She slung the purse strap over her shoulder and made sure to slam the back door as she left. The owner, the nasty little man, had felt her up for the last time. Zara marched out of the alley like a soldier. Head up, shoulders back, eyes forward but her mind was roiling.

She didn’t know what to do. Rent was due in two weeks. Zara expected she’d have to fight to get her final paycheck and it would be short, being fired mid-pay period. She sighed as she stopped at the corner to wait for the light. Running to the big city wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Halfway down the block, hookers, no older than her, were talking to men in passing cars. At least I didn’t get caught up in that. The walk light glowed, and she crossed the street.

She pulled out her phone and called her sister. “Anna, it’s me,” she said when her sister picked up. “I was just fired.”

“Oh no, Zara. How awful.”

“Yep.” Zara stepped into a doorway to get out of the flow of pedestrians and to cut the street noise a little. “I don’t know how I’m going to make the rent, but at least I don’t have to put up with that grabby owner anymore.”

“Come stay with us.”

Zara shook her head. “I can’t do that. You have Bill and the kids to take care of. You don’t need me there.”

“Well, then, what about going home to mom and dad. I talked to mom. She said she’s asked you back over and over. Talk to her, talk to dad.”

“You know I haven’t talked to him since I left.” Zara watched the people going by, everyone with a look of determination on their faces. They knew what they were doing with their lives.

“It was a silly argument, Zara. Make up with him.”

“He told me if I didn’t like it to get out. So I did.” She wasn’t miffed about it anymore. Now it was more a matter of pride.

“You stayed out all night. He was trying to lay some ground rules for your own good.”

“How’d that work for him?”

“You and Dad are too much alike.”

Zara sighed. “Probably. Mom told me he’s still holding my college account open. He won’t touch the money, even when the whole roof had to be replaced.”

“See,” her sister said. “He still loves you. Come home. If you turn your apartment back to the owner clean, you’ll get your deposits back. That’ll give you the cash to find a new job or something.”

It was eighty-five today in Phoenix. It would be cold back in New York. She’d have to get winter clothes. “I’ve got nothing to wear. I left all my coats and stuff behind when I tossed my stuff in the car and left.”

“Mom still has it all,” Anna encouraged her. “Do you need me to buy a bus ticket for you?”

Zara chewed her bottom lip. What did she want to do? Go home? Go to college, at last? She realized she was ready to make up with her father. “No, I have some money set aside. I wanted to use it to buy the kids Christmas presents.”

“Forget that. You’re the best present they could get. Please come home, Zara.”

Zara felt her throat ache and tears form. She sniffed them back. “Then I guess I’m coming home. It’ll take me a couple of days to tie things up here. The car still works. I’ll drive.”

“Hoo, hoo!” Anna cheered. “You’ll be home in time for Thanksgiving. Fantastic. Are you going to call mom?”

“I’m going to call dad.” Zara wiped her eyes. “It’s time.”


The End

695 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

Sharing November! A Monday Blog Post


Bookshelf By Connie Cockrell

I love sharing what’s going on with my writing and my life.

November is an exciting month. As always it’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo. I began yesterday with a nice word count of 2200 words, equally two chapters. I think I have a good start, now to keep it going. On Facebook, it’s thankfulness month. I and several other friends of mine post daily things we are thankful for. I suppose I should be mindfully aware everyday of what I’m thankful for but well, life happens. And I’m thankful for that too.

Special this month, the fair (Northern Gila County Fair), has asked me to go to the Arizona Fair Conference. That will be a first for me and it will suck up four days in the middle of November when I should be writing for NaNo! I think I can get writing in even while I’m gone. But more exciting is that this conference is where fairs can book carnivals and other acts and events for their fairs. I’m really looking forward to that.

I’m also teaching a workshop on November 20th, in Camp Verde, AZ on critiquing. I have an entry for that on my Where Will I Be tab on my website. Also where will I be, I’ll be in Avondale November 14th to sell and sign my books. That’s also on the Where I Will Be tab. It’s a full month for me but I think I’m up to the task.

Thanksgiving will be spent at our friends house. Every year they invite friends over for a big pot-luck style feast. It’s always a lot of fun.

My garden needs to be cleaned for the winter but as you can see from above, I’m busy. However, if I can get out there and just do a little each day, I should be done before we get a hard frost or even snow.

Author Friend Boost! Jamie Raintree She has a web fiction story, The Stretch Mark Club. Here’s a description.

Three women, four babies, one week apart. Shea, married just a few months, is still learning about life as a wife when Zoe is born, and hopes that her husband didn’t marry her just because of the two pink lines. Riley’s ex-boyfriend disappeared as soon as he found out she was pregnant, leaving Riley to raise Alexis on her own. Jasmine, the mother of twins, Xavier and Andrea, has been married to Hector for years but despite his initial excitement to have a baby, he refuses to change a single diaper. Follow Shea, Riley and Jasmine as they navigate the world of new motherhood.

Want a free ereader copy of The Stretch Mark Club? Sign up to my newsletter and send me an email at author(at)jamieraintree(dot)com to request it.

She can be also found at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads and YouTube.

Writing progress: The Zoe Ohale outline for NaNo is done and I wrote two chapters of it yesterday. There is no progress on Mystery in the Woods but if I finish Zoe Ohale early, I’ll pick this up to work on.

Marketing: In addition to my new Gumroads.com/conniecockrell site where you can buy my work directly from me, I’ve been considering adding a blog post a couple of times a month with author interviews. Would that be of interest to you?

Don’t forget Indie Books Direct at http://indiebooksdirect.com/. The site, free to readers, has a tab that lists all of the authors on the site. The reader just clicks on the author’s name and a link takes them directly to the author’s website or sale page. If you want to find authors in a particular genre, click on one of the several genre pages to find authors that have stories in that genre. It makes things so easy for readers! The site is still under construction but we’d love to have you come browse. Let us know how you like the site. Official grand opening is November 1st!

Santa’s Authors Christmas 2015 Giveaway started 1 November. I’ll give everyone the details for signing up to win free books and prizes as soon as I have them. Better yet, follow me on Facebook at conniesrandomthoughts, or Twitter at ConnieCockrell, and you’ll get the details even faster. Mark your calendar because you won’t want to miss out on this.

Writing news. My story After Math, was rejected by Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show magazine a few days ago. That’s the sixth rejection. I’ve sent it out to Asimov’s Science Fiction. We’ll see how long a reply takes. Cross your fingers for me, everyone.

Other writing news. I’ve been working on an on-line challenge on WritersDigest.com. It’s called the October Platform Challenge. http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules. Robert Lee Brewer is the host of this challenge and I started it before I went on vacation. That set me back a long way on completing the daily work but I’ve been catching up. The nice thing is that it’s helping me check my social media platform and I’ve picked up a few things that I should be doing that I haven’t been. One thing is the interviews I mentioned above. Anyway, if you’re running a business, you might want to take this challenge yourself to help you build your social media platform. Robert gives you not only the how, but the why, for each step. I can’t say enough good words about this. It’s really helping me up my game on social media.

I’m totally up on conniesrandomthoughts.com.  I’ve put a notice up on my WordPress blog so my readers can find me. Be sure to follow me at my new website. I stopped posting to the WordPress site (www.conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com) after Friday August 7th.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

I published my October newsletter. Did you miss it? Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blog posts. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, too. Don’t delay.  You’ve already missed out on two great offers. The November newsletter is coming out soon. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords or Gumroads today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

Last Monday in November

Thanksgiving Day, Mom, Turkey

My mom checking out the Thanksgiving Day turkey. Photo by Randy Cockrell

Are you wondering, as I am, where 2014 went? Zoom! It’s gone. Thanksgiving is upon us already. My hubby and I are going to a friend’s house for the big meal. We’re bringing coleslaw. In my family we called it Cabbage Salad and cabbage was grated on an old fashioned box grater along with a carrot and an onion. Miracle Whip was the dressing. Now, since I’m celiac, Miracle Whip is out of the question. But I still make a pretty mean ‘cabbage salad’ and it reminds me of my childhood. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it.

I’m definitely on tap to sign books at the Swiss Village Small Business Saturday Christmas kickoff.  http://conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com/where-will-i-be/. On Saturday the 29th, the biggest day of the three day event, I’ll have a tent set up to sell and sign my books. I have invites out to a few other authors, so I’m hoping there will be four of us there to say hi and sign books. The event starts at 10am and runs until after Santa leaves, probably 9pm. Hope to see you there.

I’m still doing well on my National Novel Writing Month challenge. I’ve passed the 40K  point and to be honest, I’m enjoying the story more and more. Estimated release date? Maybe March. I’ll see how the revisions and editing go.

My book, The Downtrodden, book two of the Brown Rain series is up on Smashwords and I’m working to get it up on Amazon. I’m having a bit of a cover snafu but it will be resolved soon. As usual, I’d love to have some reviews. Sign up for my newsletter and tell me you’d like to do a review and I’ll send you a free ebook. Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link.

I’ve been working on cleaning up my garden from the summer excesses. The compost bin has been cleaned out and two garden beds (I do raised bed gardens here in central Arizona) have been cleaned of dead or dying vegetation and readied for winter. We’ve had several frosts and even the Swiss Chard is lying limp and sad in the garden bed. The sage, however seems to be as healthy as ever. I’ll use fresh sage for as long as it lasts. Then I have an awesome supply of dried to get me through the winter.

I mentioned that I’m getting ready for my mom to come and live with me. I’ve ordered a new bed for her and curtains that have already arrived. We still need to clean the room, paint and put up the curtains and new furniture. We are going to have so much fun.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

The Downtrodden: a Brown Rain Story released November 22nd! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Flash Fiction Friday: Near Miss

Turkey by Randy Cockrell

Turkey by Randy Cockrell

Zalon and his wife, Willow, slaughtered the last turkey from their flock. As he cleaned the axe, Willow held the bird to the feather plucker. The rotating drum with flexible fingers pulled the feathers off quickly. He remembered the first time they used it. Willow had held the chicken too close and the machine pulled not only feathers, but skin and nearly pulled her hands into it.

Their son, Bai, was picking up feathers and stuffing them into a bag. Zalon planned on keeping some of them for his own projects but the rest would be sold. Several artists used the heritage breed turkey feathers for their art projects.

Willow dropped the plucked bird into a bucket of water to clean it. “Last one,” she said as she rinsed her hands. “I’ll keep this one for the feast.”

“How ya doin’, son?”

“Good, Daddy.” The boy held out his bag.

Zalon smiled. Bai had feathers in his hair and stuck to his clothing.

A big grin spread across his  five-year-old face. It was the first time he’d been allowed to help. “I’ve got lots of feathers.”

“Yes you do. Mommy and I are going to wrap and freeze these birds for this winter. You finish picking up the feathers.”

“OK, Daddy.”

Zalon watched Bai squat down to grab more feathers next to the plucking machine.

Willow pulled the turkey out of the bucket and patted it dry. “This one will feed a lot of people. I’m so looking forward to tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast. I haven’t seen my parents or your’s in a month.”

Zalon began wrapping the birds in plastic. “Me, too. It’ll be nice to just relax at a party for the afternoon.”

They finished wrapping the birds and began the process of carrying them into the house where the industrial-sized freezer was. It took several trips as they could only carry a couple of birds each at a time.

They were putting the last of the birds in the freezer when they heard a scream. Zalon was first out of the door and into the yard. There he saw Bai backed up against the plucking machine, a Bashnall, a green and gold lizard-looking creature found on Titan 3, was nosing around the bucket where Willow had been rinsing the turkeys.

Zalon whistled for King, his domestic wolf. “Get a gun, Willow.” He dashed toward the Bashnall. He wondered at a Bashnall so close by. The wolves had begun hunting the Bashnall four years ago. He hadn’t seen one this close to town in a long time. The Bashnall knocked over the bucket, water flowed across the ground. Not finding anything to eat there, the Bashnall turned to Bai, still holding the bag of feathers.

“Drop the bag,” Zalon called to his son.

The boy stood, white-faced and big eyed, staring at the approaching creature, the size of the family wolf. King raced around the corner of the barn and streaked for the Bashnall. Zalon reached the boy, pulled the sack from his hand and threw it at the lizard as he spun around to the rear of the machine, Bai in his arms.

King gave a low growl and launched at the lizard. The Bashnall screamed making Zalon’s blood run cold. The animals were in a tangle, dust and mud flew in the air as each one scrambled to kill the other. Zalon used their distraction to back away then circle around to the house. He met Willow halfway across the yard. He handed her the baby and took the gun. “Get inside,” he told her then moved toward the animals.

It was hard to get a shot. King was rolling over and over with the Bashnall, snarling as he tried to reach the creature’s throat. Zalon followed the pair as they rolled. He wanted to get a shot off before the lizard hurt the wolf. He had his chance when the two broke apart. King crouched for another attack as the Bashnall whirled around to face its attacker. Zalon fired his blaster, the beam passing closer to his wolf than he liked. Don’t move, boy, he thought. The beam hit the predator in the head. It stood for a second as King leapt. The wolf grabbed the creature by the throat and shook the animal. Ichor and gobs of lizard flew in every direction.

“Easy, boy.” Zalon approached the wolf. “You got him, boy. Let him go now.” The wolf gave the creature another shake then dropped it at Zalon’s feet. Zalon stroked the wolf’s head. “Good job, King. Good job.”

The wolf huffed then nosed the Bashnall. He pointed his nose at the sky and gave out a long howl. Zalon chuckled. “The same way I feel,” he told the wolf.

Willow came out, Bai in her arms. “That was close,” she said as she stared at the creature in the dirt.

“It was. I wonder why this one is so close to town?”

“I don’t know. But it’s dead now.” She kissed Bai on the forehead.

Zalon hugged them both. “Thankfully, King was here to help.”

Willow stroked the wolf’s head. “I think a bone will be in order for him tonight.”


The End

867 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

Flash Fiction Friday: What’s It All About

The Briefcase by ChaosBang via www.DeviantArt.com

The Briefcase by ChaosBang via www.DeviantArt.com

Carol juggled briefcase, purse, and paper cup of tea as she hurried through the convention center. She didn’t sleep well last night, a combination of strange bed, strange room and city street noise. The convention center was in the middle of the city. So of course, she fell asleep about 3AM.

She had to work her way through the crowds of people wandering between booths before their seminars started. Naturally, she thought. Three people were standing in front of her space when she arrived, all staring at the graphic on the back wall and looking around for help.

“Hi. Sorry I’m late.” She dumped her stuff on the chair in the corner and pulled open the cabinet sliding door. I don’t know why they give me a chair. I never get to sit in it. She pulled the candy dish of chocolate kisses out and with the other hand, the brochure stand and put them on the counter. “Thanks for stopping by.” She pasted on her brightest smile. “What can I do for you?”

Things slowed a little while the attendees were in class but that’s when the exhibitors went booth to booth. They checked out the competition and collected the freebies each booth had. Since she was alone at her company’s booth, she couldn’t walk around but occasionally a vendor rep would wander by or better yet, a company rep that was interested in buying her company’s product. She garnered four sales leads during the day.

After 5PM she put the candy and brochures away. It was time for the dinner and bar scene. She put extra business cards in her suit jacket pocket and headed for the hotel bar. She stopped in the restroom and freshened her makeup, brushed her hair and checked her teeth. I don’t know why I’m bothering, she thought. I haven’t had anything to eat since the free yogurt the venue provided since supper last night. I’m going to have to order an appetizer if the bar doesn’t set something out. Her stomach growled.

By 9PM she was exhausted and her feet felt like bloody stumps but she had eleven more leads. Carol slumped against the elevator wall on the ride to her floor. One more day, then I can go home. She massaged her temples, a hangover from the three glasses of pinot grigio was already forming. Drink more water tomorrow, she thought as she unlocked her room door.

After her shower she called home. “Hey, Honey.”

“Hi, Babe.” Rick’s voice sounded tired. “How ya doin’?”

“I got fifteen leads today. My feet feel like stumps. Otherwise I’m fine. Kids in bed I guess.”

“Yeah, they have half a day at school tomorrow then it’s Thanksgiving break.”

Carol sighed. I should have called them at five before I went to the bar. “That’s OK. I have a 4pm flight. I’ll be home about 10PM. Everything else OK?”

“Mandy and her best friend are fighting,” Rick told her. “And Nick scraped his knee when he wiped out on his skateboard this afternoon.

A wave of guilt swept over her. Mandy will be heartbroken. “Oh no, How’s Mandy doing?”

“She’s mad. I suspect you’ll get an earful at breakfast day after tomorrow.”

“That’s fine. We’ll talk it through. These things happen with ten year-old girls. And Nick?”

Rick laughed. “He has a big band aid on his knee. He can’t wait to go to school tomorrow and show it off.”

She sighed again. “Thank, Hon. I’ll be home tomorrow night. Kiss the kids for me.”

After he said good-night, she clicked off and sank back against the pillows. Hope I can sleep tonight. She turned out the light.

The next day she got to her booth on time but otherwise it was a repeat of the previous day. She confirmed eight of the leads from the night before and gathered six more by the end of the second day. That puts me ahead of the rest of the sales team for November, she thought as she packed the booth up. That pretty much makes me November’s lead sales rep. Nothing is going to happen between now and December unless someone gets very lucky.

On the taxi ride to the airport she stared out of the window at the grim industrial area they drove through. Looks like every other industrial area in any other city, she thought. Mystery warehouses, factories with pipes running all over and steam escaping. She took a deep breath. Carol was tired, tired physically and tired of the constant travel to cities she never really had a chance to see. She wondered why she was doing this.

It was closer to eleven at night than her estimated 10PM when she pulled onto her street. The leaves had fallen from the neighborhood trees in the three days she’d been gone.

Rick came out to the garage just as she opened the trunk. Carol rested her head against his chest and wrapped her arms around him. She inhaled his scent, warm and familiar, and immediately felt at home. He carried her suitcase into their bedroom while she checked on the kids. Nick was sprawled across his bed, blankets tangled around his little body. She pulled his extra blanket over him and kissed him on the forehead. In Mandy’s room Mandy whispered, “Mom?” as Carol kissed her head.

“Right here, Sweetie.”

“Becky isn’t my friend anymore.” He blue eyes looked up at her mother, full of sadness and betrayal.

“I heard. We’ll talk about it at breakfast, OK?”

The girl nodded and snuggled into her blankets. She was asleep again by the time Carol closed the door.

It’s good to be home, she thought as she stepped into her bedroom. I missed it. The deeper question of why she ever left would be considered another day.



The End

971 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

Flash Fiction Friday: Lesson Learned

Coming Home With Hope by John Tansey-d2yt708 via www.DeviantArt.com

Coming Home With Hope by John Tansey-d2yt708 via www.DeviantArt.com

Once upon a time there lived a great King. He had a son, Prince Alphonse and a daughter, Princess Julia. The Queen, Margaret, loved her children very much. King Archibald loved his children as well but held them to very high standards.

Alphonse and Julia understood this. After all, they were the offspring of a great King. During the summer of Alphonse’s twenty-second year, he won the intra-Kingdom swordsmanship contest. A parade was held in his honor and the people cheered and cheered as he passed by. When Alphonse knelt before the King, his father, to receive the sash of accomplishment, the King held the sash high to the wild acclaim of the crowd. But when he placed the sash over his son’s head, the King whispered, “Your posta longas and thrusts were sloppy, son.” Alphonse bowed his head. His joy at winning was shattered.

That autumn, Julia competed against all of the maidens of the land in an archery competition. The princess out-performed all of the maidens by many points. A dinner was held in her honor. The King held her trophy aloft as she stood next to him and the crowd cheered and clapped. As he turned and handed it to her he whispered, “But you missed two bull’s eyes, my dear.” Julia took the trophy and held it up to the audience but her achievement felt like ashes in her mouth.

The next spring, Prince Alphonse declared he would have an adventure. He gathered a handful of trusted friends and galloped away. For a time carrier pigeons brought news but after a year, no news arrived.

The Queen grew sad but the King said, “He’s on an adventure. He’ll return soon covered in glory.”

The next year, just after her eighteenth birthday, Princess Julia declared, “I wish to sail to far off lands.” She gathered a handful of her friends who were also expert sailors, and they sailed away into the dawn at high tide.

The Queen wept every day. Both of her children were gone from her. The King said, “She’ll return covered in glory.”

A year, then two, then three passed by with no news. The Queen became melancholy. She stopped organizing balls and fairs. The King grew stricter. Nothing his councilors did was good enough. The people of the kingdom received stricter and stricter laws concerning quality, law, and production. He never smiled any more.

After five years the people, crushed under the restrictive laws began to rebel. Mud clods were hurled at the King when he rode through the streets. Lawlessness increased and the once nearly empty prisons filled to overflowing.

“What’s happening?” he cried out to the Queen one night in their apartments.

Queen Margaret looked up at him from her needlepoint. “It’s you. Nothing is good enough for you. You tighten the law until your subjects cannot make a move that’s within the law.”

“I’m looking out for them,” he shouted, red-faced. “I’m helping them improve.”

Margaret raised an eyebrow. “And now our children are gone and the people throw mud at you.”

He stared at her for a moment before his shoulders slumped. He pulled on his velvet robe and left the bedroom.

Two years later look-outs at the edge of the kingdom sent homing pigeons to the castle. Princess Julia’s ship was heading for home port.

The King and Queen hugged when they heard the news. The Queen began preparations for a welcome home ball. The tow of then stood on the castle ramparts most of everyday eager for the sight of the royal ship’s masts. When the ship was sighted, cannons boomed and church bells rang.

When the ship pulled into port, the King and Queen were waiting on the dock. They could scarcely breathe as the ropes were tied off and the gangway was lowered.

The Queen gasped when she saw not only Julia, but also Alphonse, step onto the gang plank and walk toward them. Tears flowed as she ran forward to hug them both as soon as they stepped on the dock. After many tears and kisses, the two siblings stepped toward their father. Before they could kneel, the King grabbed them both into a bear hug, tears in his eyes. “Forgive me, children. I was a fool.”

Julia and Alphonse traded looks of surprise. “No, Father,” Alphonse said as he clapped his father on the shoulder. “You have never been a fool.”

“We came because of the messages, Father.” Julia reached up to stroke her father’s face.

Queen Margaret’s eyes went wide.

“I’ve missed you both.” He held them at arm’s length, filling his eyes with the sight of them. “I was too hard on you. Too demanding.”

Julia hugged him tight. “We love you, Father. Your messages at every port said it all.”

That night at the ball to welcome them home the King made a speech. “Welcome home to Prince Alphonse and Princess Julia. They left home to escape my hard heart. I never took joy in their accomplishments – I just demanded more. When they left, I demanded more and more from my subjects. I’ve nearly brought my kingdom to ruin. I declare tomorrow a day of Thanksgiving. All laws passed since Julia sailed away will be rescinded. Anyone convicted of breaking those laws will be released. A feast will be held at the jousting grounds for the whole town.”

He held his arms wide and beamed at his family. “My children have returned.”


The End

913 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

Flash Fiction Friday: Hiking It Out

Here’s the final installment of my Month of Thanksgiving Stories. I hope you’ve enjoyed them all.

Hiking It Out

Kelly picked up the ringing phone from the coffee table. “Hello?” She didn’t bother to sit up from her position on the sofa where she’d been napping.
“Kelly, it’s Marsha. It’s a glorious day and the weather this afternoon is perfect. Let’s go out to Monroe Lake and take a walk.”
Kelly ran her hand through her short, now graying, red hair. She didn’t want to go anywhere. Why didn’t everyone just leave her alone? “Ummm, I don’t know. I’m kind of busy.”
“It’s gorgeous out, Kelly. I’m dying to get out into the sunshine before winter sets in. Come with me.”
Marsha called every day. Kelly knew her best friend meant the best but sometimes the woman got on her last nerve. “I don’t know. I’m not ready to go.”
“Nonsense,” Marsha responded. “It’s been three months. I’ll be over in twenty minutes. Be ready.”
The line clicked off. Kelly sighed, phone still against her ear, head still on the throw pillow. She opened her eyes and hit the button to end the call. She didn’t feel like moving. Why was Marsha being such a pain?
She pushed up to a sitting position. The living room was dark. She hadn’t opened the curtains since her husband died in the car accident in early July. Kelly stood up. That seemed like more effort than it was worth. But she knew Marsha would be at the door in a few minutes. The woman was a stickler for being on time.
In the bedroom, Kelly peeled off the t-shirt and sweatpants she’d been wearing for the last four days. Should I take a shower? She glanced through the bedroom door into the adjoining bathroom. It didn’t seem like it was worth the effort. Instead, she pulled a pair of hiking pants and a t-shirt out of the dresser and put them on. Hiking socks were in another drawer, rolled up and ready to go.
She and her husband, Jim, used to go hiking every weekend. They loved hiking around Monroe Lake, especially this time of year. The oaks and beeches and maples made a riot of color reflected in the glassy lake waters. Tears began to leak from her eyes. She sat on the bed, socks forgotten in her hand.
The doorbell rang, startling her out of her grief. She wiped her eyes with the socks, still in her hand and shuffled downstairs to the door.
Marsha took one look and rushed forward. “Oh, Kelly,” and embraced her best friend. When they broke apart, Marsha took a tissue out of her pocket and wiped her friend’s eyes. “You need to get outside. Where are your boots?”
Marsha went through the house like a whirlwind. She ran upstairs and found Kelly’s hiking boots and as Kelly sat on the stairs to put them on, combed through the house to find Kelly’s backpack and water bottles. “There,” she said as she dropped Kelly’s wallet in the pack and zipped it up. “You’re ready.”
Kelly nodded, using the banister to lift herself up.
They didn’t say anything on the hour ride to the lake. On their way up the mountain, Kelly stared out of the window as the scenery rushed by. Marsha pulled the car into a small trailhead parking area. It was nothing more than a wide shoulder but there was room for four or five cars.
Kelly stood at the rear of the car looking into the woods.
“Remember when you and I came up here a few years ago in the middle of the week?” She chuckled as she pulled the packs out of the trunk and handed Kelly hers. “It was hot that day and we decided to go skinny dipping in the cove on the other side of the lake.”
Kelly smiled as she put on the pack. “Yeah, those Boy Scouts got a little more scenery than they expected.”
Marsha laughed. “Yes they did.” She closed the trunk. Let’s go.”
She fell in behind Kelly and they stepped into the woods. Kelly kept a slow pace. She hadn’t done anything but lie on the sofa since the funeral. It was cool at the beginning. This area was white pine and shady all year long. She took a breath, drawing the pine scent from the trees deep into her lungs. Around the curve of the hill they came to the lake.
October is the best time of year to go hiking. No bugs, the air is clear and crisp. That’s what Jim always said. Her heart constricted as she brought up the memory of walking with him on this very trail. She took a deep breath in an effort to stop the tears from flowing. The women were walking through the leaves fallen from the maples and beech that grew in this part of the valley. She could smell the earthiness of the leaves and the moist ground under them. The carpet of leaves made a kaleidoscope of color on the ground. She loved the dry rustle as she shuffled through them on the trail.
Every viewpoint on the lake brought another wash of memories of her and Jim hiking here. Halfway around the lake Marsha said, “Let’s take a breather.” She led them over to a high point of rocks jutting out over the lake. “You can see the whole length of the lake from here.” She pulled off her pack and sat on the rocks, her legs dangling over the edge.
Kelly nodded as she sat beside her friend. She pulled a bottle of water out of the pack and drank, wiping her mouth with her sleeve. Marsha handed her a sandwich. As she chewed, she closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face. The iron grip around her heart loosened a little.
“Yeah,” she said to Marsha. “I guess it is time to get out.”
The End
982 Words
Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

End of November 2013

Hoo! Six days left for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! I’m close to finishing my book. It’s the last book in my series, Gulliver Station. This one is titled Revolution.  I’ve committed to putting the first book, A New Start, out in late January. This is my first series. It’s been a real lesson on creating a very long range story arc.

Thursday is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. How can a person not like having all of their favorite food on the table at the same time. This year my husband and I are going to a friend’s house. There’ll be 14 other people there. Kudos to my friend, Diane, for hosting such a large gathering.

Now we’re running into the Christmas season. I have so much to do in December I think I need to make a list. And, in case you haven’t heard, I put together a collection of Christmas themed stories. I released the collection the 17th of November. I had to write a couple of short stories to go into this collection. It’s out now and I’ve put the links below if you’d like a nice read over the Holidays. I’ll put additional links in as the book goes live on those sites.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter where you’ll get first dibs on any promotions, book announcements, and other information. Go to the button on the upper right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up.

Christmas Tales released November 17th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy at: Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon or Smashwords today!


Kobo: Not yet available

Barnes and Noble: Not yet available

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Tales-Connie-Cockrell/dp/1494200570/ref=la_B009O6199C_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385322757&sr=1-5

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/379010

Apple: Not yet available

Flash Fiction Friday: Gulliver Station Thanksgiving

Here’s a story based on my new series, Gulliver Station. The first book of the series, Gulliver Station: A New Start should be released near the end of January. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter where you’ll get first dibs on any promotions, book announcements, and other information. Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up.

Gulliver Station Thanksgiving

Aine McCarthy was packing a lunch for her husband Dillon to take with him to work. “You know,” she said as he came into the kitchen, “Next week it will be one year we’ve been on Gulliver Station.”

He peeked inside the cloth bag she handed him. “Corned beef again?” he grinned.

“Go on with ya,” she smacked him in the shoulder. “It’s your favorite.”

He laughed as he pulled her close. “It is, and you’re my favorite for making it for me.” Then he gave her a long, slow kiss.

When they broke apart, he caressed her hair. “What were you sayin’ about next week?”

She reached up and pulled his hand to her heart. “It’s one year since we arrived. I think we should get some friends together for a little supper.”

He shrugged, “Sure’n that’s a fine thing by me.” He kissed her on the forehead. “I have to get to work.”

She walked him to the door. “See ya tonight.”

Aine contacted her friends. Some she knew and still was in touch with from the ship voyage out to the station from Earth. Some were new friends she’d met after they arrived. They all thought a celebration was a great idea.

The day of the dinner, Aine made a huge roast lamb. Not real lamb, of course. Gulliver Station wasn’t nearly ready to produce actual meat products. She’d had the soi-lamb before and found it to be nearly as good as the real product. As she was beggar poor before she and Dillon came here, she’d never had more than a taste of the real thing anyway. The rest of the guests were bringing the side dishes and desserts.

Dillon finished setting up the dining room table as a buffet and was opening a few plastic bottles of wine and one of whisky. Some entrepreneur from Old Earth Ireland was producing a rough whisky here on the station. Dillon thought it wouldn’t be long before the man perfected the recipe.

The guests began arriving and either Dillon or Aine greeted them at the door. Soon the table was loaded with food.

As drinks were poured and plates filled, they joked with each other about the change the move to the station had made in their lives.

“Aine,” Fiona Scally called out across the room. “Do you remember the first day you and I went to the Level 4 market?”

Aine blushed, “Of course I do.”

“You were so new, you didn’t even know what half the vegetables were in the market.”

The friends laughed good naturedly. It was the same for all of them. Most of them were near to homeless when they’d applied to come to the station. Most of them only ate once a day. “And why not, when I didn’t have a pot to cook them in,” Aine tossed back.  They all laughed again.

“And you, Clyde Bannon,” Dillon called to his friend on the sofa. “You hadn’t held a job a day in your life. I remember having to help you in the Dock Worker classes so you wouldn’t fail out.”

Clyde raised his glass to Dillon. “Very true, here’s to you, dragging me along with ye.”

The guests all cheered and toasted with them.

Dillon put his plate down. He raised his glass again. “Here’s to all of us. The day we decided to apply to come here was the best day of our lives. Gulliver Station, a place where we’re safe, housed, fed and have decent work for decent wages.”

“Here, here!” they all cheered and drank.

The End

598 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

Flash Fiction Friday: Food for Thought

Bel unloaded the butternut squash from the shipping box. A good load today. She picked one and put it in her own box. She and her husband, Todd, hated taking charity but she could volunteer one day a week at the food bank to pay for her weekly box of food.

When she finished she had to run her box home and put it away before she went to her job at the big box store. She sighed. Todd’s job was hardly better. Neither of them worked full time. She snorted. Yeah, Todd’s job was listed as full time, but they only gave him 32 hours. Short of enough hours for healthcare insurance. His pay barely covered sending the baby to the nursery while they worked. Thanksgiving was coming up. She hoped they’d get more hours to cover the holiday rush.


The next week Gail pulled dead squash vines from her garden. It was a gorgeous November morning, the sun shown down out of a cloudless blue sky. She paused to watch a flock of geese fly by.

She felt at loose ends since her last child, Emily, had gone off to college. The house seemed too big after her daughter left. She surveyed the patch. There were quite a few squashes. More than she needed. I should take them over to the food bank. She picked them and put them in her basket.


The first rush of customers after the food bank opened was over. Bel got a cup of coffee and let her mind wander as she waited for the next customer. It would be nice if Todd could get a full time job. He works too hard. We hardly ever see each other anymore.  A wave of sadness washed over her as she thought back to when they were dating in high school. She realized it was only a few years ago. She felt so old.

The door opened and a middle aged woman entered carrying a box of vegetables. “Hi. I’m Belle, can I help you?”

The woman nodded as she put the box on the counter. “Hi there. I’m Gail. It’s just my husband and me now. We don’t need everything I grow so I thought I’d donate it.”

Bel peeked into the box. “We appreciate that Gail. We love to get fresh produce. So much of what is donated is canned or processed food.”

“I’m glad I can help then.” Gail looked around the huge room. Several people were unloading boxes and putting canned goods and boxes of pasta and cereal on the shelves. “Are you all volunteers?”

Bel nodded. “Yeah. I have a job but it’s only part time. Same for my husband. I volunteer to pay for my box.”

Gail’s eyebrows rose. “Oh. That’s too bad.”

Bel shugged. “It’s the economy I’m told. No one is hiring. Not for good paying jobs anyway.” She sighed then put on a happy face. “Thank you for the donation. We’ll get it into boxes right away.”

Gail nodded. “You’re welcome. Have a good day.”

On the drive home she couldn’t stop thinking about Bel. How awful for them. I didn’t ask if she had children. Imagine working and still not being able to afford groceries.

That night over supper she talked to her husband, Evan. “I heard the saddest story today.” She proceeded to tell him about Bel.  “Can you imagine? What if that was us, or God forbid, our kids? I should do something.”

He wiped his plate with the last bit of his bread. “What can you do, Gail?”

She stabbed the last green bean on her plate. “I don’t know. But they’re both working and can’t afford food. That’s not right.” She popped the bean into her mouth and chewed, scowling. “What about your place?”

Evan put his silverware on his plate. “What about it?”

“Can’t you hire them? It’s a big factory. There must be something.”

He scratched his head. “I don’t know. We don’t have any openings right now.”

Gail leaned forward. “No janitors needed, material handlers, some sort of low level position that they can take and then get trained for other jobs?”

He sighed. He knew his wife. She’d pursue this until she got what she wanted. “Let me think about it.” He picked up his plate and headed into the kitchen. “I’ll go in tomorrow and look around.”

Gail nodded. “Thank you, honey.”


The next Saturday Gail went back to the food bank. She didn’t see Bel. “Hi, I met a young woman here last week, named Bel?”

“Oh yes,” the elderly woman smiled. “She’s in the back. Shall I get her?”


A few minutes later, Bel came out to the counter. “Hi again.”

“Hi. I’m Gail, we met last week.”

“Sure, I remember. Is there a problem?” Bel pushed a lock of hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear.

“Let’s talk outside,” Gail said. She led the way out of the door and into the parking lot. She faced Bel. “I have some news.”

Bel became wary. In her experience news was always bad.

Gail grinned. “I talked to my husband this week about you and your family. He’s the manager of the factory over on Glebe Street. Do you know it?”

“Yeah,” Bel said. “They make parts for cars, don’t they?”

“Yes, that’s the one.” Gail beamed. “My husband thinks he has a couple of jobs, for you and your husband.”

Bel stared.

“Full time,” Gail added. “It’s low level work, for now. But you could get trained, get promoted to higher paying jobs.”

Bel’s face crumpled. Tears began to flow. “I…I don’t know what to say.”

Gail pulled a tissue out of her purse and handed it to Bel. “Oh my. I’ve botched this completely.”

“Oh no,” Bell sniffled. “I’m happy.” She reached out and took Gail’s arm. “Thank you. Thank you so much!”

Gail hugged her. “You’re welcome.”

The End

993 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html