Maria’s Stuff: Flash Fiction

Emma said, “They called him Kevin. ”

As he watched her she appeared to be struggling to speak. A trickle of water leaked from the corner of her eyes. Her small white hand covered her mouth.

He looked at her aghast. He was hopeless at coping with tears. He would rather face a great white shark than have to put his arms around his best friend and comfort her.

The air in the kitchen shimmered.The man before Emma imagined the warm air as an entity. It rushed in through the open back door shook hands with the frigid temperature in the room to kick off the cold wall before racing outside. Along the way he saw it scoop up her distress and carry it away.

If he was asked to describe his feelings he would have said they were as brown as the worn boots on his feet. He struggled to grasp the correct word to comfort. For Emma was more to him than a friend. She was a life line to reality. Without her he would gladly slip into the realm of his fantasies, his characters he wrote about, the stories others believed he struggled to create were an escape route from the nastiness of this world. A world he feared and wanted no part of, without her.
A nudge from Emma made him look at her. Her blonde hair glistened in the pale sunlight, her body shook with tremors. Then he looked at her eyes and smiled. “Go on let me in on the joke. Who did they call Kevin?”
His large hand gently removed her smaller hand from her mouth and the laughter poured from her like water bubbling in a pot, in fits and bits. He sat and waited. He was used to waiting.

When she recovered she said, “The children called the new pet pig Kevin. Because they love the stories you tell them. What do you think of that, my Kevin?”
He pretended to be disgusted then winked at her and said, “Fitting.”
Their laughter bounced and floated through the house. As it moved it warmed every centimeter of the old stone building.

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Bob’s Diary: Tips on training your owner.

I thought some tips would come in handy for every animal on how to help train your owner.

1. LISTEN TO YOUR OWNER

Perfect the – I am listening look – it will win you loads of hugs and praise

IMG_7921

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. BE CONSISTENT

If your owner wants to play ball  – let him. There will always be more balls around or another dog to find them.

ellie playing 4

 

bob with pups

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. TELL HIM OR SHOW HIM  WHAT YOU WANT HIM TO DO

It is important you set some boundaries, and always teach them by example.

Exhausted after receiving award

 

 

circle the wagons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BECAUSE IN THE END IT WILL BE WORTH IT – THEY WILL CATCH ON.

ipp

 

Bob’s Diary: I thought the coast was clear.

It was Tuesday Maria was setting up to start blogging after we had a glorious walk when her phone went ping. She grabbed her coat, kicked me and Ellie outside.

When she arrived back we were not greeted as normal. I got curious.

bob 2 tuesday

bob 1 tuesdayThey were back!

 

robyn playing
This is just ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

they are back

 

 

 

maddie prowlingSomething has to give and it won’t be me.

bob and robyn

Maria’s Stuff: Weddings: Ireland: Today and Yesterday

3

A thought about Weddings.

 

I have two weddings to attend in the next six months. 

This got me thinking about the change in attitude to the event since I was married thirty years ago.

Back then, the wedding was a means to an end. By that I mean most of us didn’t live together until after we were married. 

Today the trend as we know is different. The thing is the planning often takes years. This means a lot more stress over a longer period of time, or am I wrong in saying that?

The more time you have to think and plan the longer the brides list of must do’s and must haves gets. So it mushrooms into a Super Event. This is happening right now. Brides have to have, (I am told) bridal dance to create, learn and plan, the Hen night (a weekend or a week long affair), The Stag night (similar to the Hen night ), the day after the wedding party,  the speeches (often includes a video or photography link) and so on it grows.

One bride to be confessed she is afraid she will be on a downer after the event. My mouth dropped open and was nudged shut by my hubby. Words, for once, were not processed in my brain to reply to her.

For me the wedding is the start of the event: your life together.

I  will end on this note we planned our wedding in six weeks. 

It is true. Please don’t keel over.

We had church, flowers, hotel, and party with live band and oodles of photos. The six weeks came about when we became aware that to get our house loan we had to have a marriage certificate. We needed to give them a wedding date. We asked how long it would take to get the paperwork for the house completed we were told six weeks hence the six week date.  It was a small family wedding with a party afterwards and I loved every minute of it as did my husband and those who attended (or so they say).

 I will add weddings like life, can be as complicated or simple as we make them. But above all they should be enjoyable.

 

Bob’s Diary : Alert Sara has gone over to the other side.

We went to visit Sara

Amadeo's house

And found a mystery

looking

Ellie was doing laps of the house

bob searching

Sara wasn’t there but we smelt a very strange smell

 

bob outside looking in

But Yea…..I found it

 

come and look at this

I called Ellie  because I couldn’t believe it

ellie looking at

neither could she. Check these out for yourselves….

bob and puddy

And we couldn’t believe it.  Our Sara has gone to the other side….

Ellie and puddy

two pudd's

Kitten worse TWO KITTENS.

Ugh!

front door bob

 

I will have to stay here and wait to talk to her. We need to sort this out.

 

Bob’s Diary: I am in this chapter: Moving On. Chapter 2

2. The Meeting

A shout of delight announced the arrival of the third place team across the finish line. Ally noted his happiness and could appreciate how well he had done. She suspected he would have preferred to finish in first place. Taking a deep breath she walked forward in her usual energetic bouncy manner towards Steve. She decided to disregard her stinging hand. She couldn’t prove he had intended to hit her.

Hand outstretched she congratulated him. He ignored her offered hand, saying, “You were lucky this time.”

Ally nodded at him and turned away. She had expected no more from him. She could see the third prize winner breathless and smiling making a fuss of his dogs. He was new to racing but she had the odd sensation that they had met before.

Steve’s next words brought her attention hurtling back to him.”Racing is no place for a woman, but if you were looking for attention to get your dogs noticed. It worked. I’ll take your lead dog off your hands. She is the best of an okay lot. ”

She acknowledged his words with a cool tone in her reply. “I’m not asking for anyone to take any one of my dogs, off my hands, as you so sweetly put it. And they are much better than okay.”

His next words put a chill racing through her, “I’ll wait, you will be glad of the money soon enough but I won’t make as generous an offer the next time. It was a lucky win. You and I know that.”

With his comment swirling in her head Ally said, “Hmm. I suppose it was down to luck that I walked the route earlier and got thoroughly soaked. You should know conditions can change in a few minutes depending on weather and how many races are run before ours.”

His expression became sterner. He moved closer. He towered over her as he began, “now look here.”

He got no further because a smooth warm voice interrupted Steve saying, “I didn’t realise this was a contact sport. If you are looking for an opponent, next time please make an appointment with me. I’d be happy to knock some sense and manners into you, Steve.”

Ally watching Steve’s face recognised the dangerous gleam in his eyes. She looked at the newcomer. She wasn’t prepared for the cold calculating look in his eyes. Turning to Ally he said with a warm smile, “She’s one smart, fast dog and you handled your team like a professional. I, on the other hand, made a mess of the last kilometre especially that bend.”

Steve looked at him and grunted, “Great Tom. You know nothing. Just you remember what we talked about before.” He turned on his heel and left them.

Shoving his sunglasses to the top of his head the man before her said, ‘Now the oaf has left let’s start again. Thanks for a great race. I’m Tom Lynch and I really enjoyed that. It was exhilarating.’

Her cold hand was enfolded in his large warm hand. As they shook hands a ripple of energy coursed through her causing her to let her hand drop from his. Looking up at him Ally discovered she was being watched by the darkest pair of eyes she had ever seen.

“I look forward to racing you again and I hope it will be soon.” Tom said leaning towards her.

Ally felt she might be swallowed up by those eyes. She opened her mouth but didn’t get a chance to reply because the moment was lost as she was surrounded by a group of older men who were loudly congratulating her on her win.

She was aware of Tom standing to one side listening to the murmurs of, ‘well done Ally love,’ and “you have done Sam proud. Good girl.”  Then she forgot everything. The mention of Sam’s name brought tears to her eyes. Ally noticed some of the men wiping their own eyes as they turned away. Ally’s dad, Sam, had been respected and loved in this racing world. She missed him, but racing brought his memory closer to her.

“May I offer my sincerest sympathy?” Tom’s voice was soft but she jumped when he spoke, for a moment she had forgotten him.

The warmth and sincerity in his voice got to her. Ally blinking furiously to dispel the further rush of tears, nodded her head. “Thanks. He got me into this mess in the first place.” All about them people were busy, shouting instructions to others or to barking dogs.

Tom kicked at a tuft of grass at his feet as he said, “Me too. I came to watch a race and met Sam. His enthusiasm encouraged me to pull Mac off the sidelines. He gave me a lot. Tips, advice and his time.”

As he spoke his team had her attention. Ally chewed on her bottom lip waiting for a break in conversation to give him the bad news. She managed to suppress a grin when she saw two of them chewing through their shiny new harness. Her words sharper than she intended, “I think you should rescue your gear. They appear to like the taste.”

Tom glanced behind him and groaned. He was moving towards them as he said, “Thank you and again, I’m sorry about Sam. Watch out for us next time. I’ll be looking for you.”

Ally dripping mud and water looked towards her team who were in a mucky but happy state.  She walked over to them. After giving each dog a hug and praising them Ally became aware that one was missing: Bob.

She hadn’t seen him sitting at the finish line with Bill, her father’s best friend. Puzzled, Ally went in search of her team cheerleader. She discovered he had ditched Bill. Bob was sitting under a golf umbrella, with a lady. Ally noting her grey hair and twinkling eyes and gentle way of speaking to the dog, groaned. He had gained another fan.

The lady was enjoying a drink and a sandwich. Bob, Ally noticed, was being very attentive and appreciative. A sandwich was placed before him. He carefully inspected it, nudging aside the top layer of bread. Thin slices of cucumber and ham were swallowed in a hurry when he saw Ally thundering his way.

“I told you not to go around begging. Bob, what am I going to do with you? Can’t I leave you for a moment? Bill was minding you, what happened?” Ally paused to glance at Bob’s hostess.

“I’m sorry. It’s my fault, I fed him. You look tired and wet. Would you like some tea?” Bob’s new friend sounded concerned.

“No, thank you.” Ally gritted her teeth and reminded herself to be polite. After all, this lady knew nothing about her wayward dog’s love of begging.

“Bill had a job to do. He asked us to keep each other company. I do think you are being a bit hard on Bob.  He has been great fun while my son deserted me to chase some woman or dogs. You know what men are like, always chasing something.” She smiled at Ally. With a flick of her thin wrist she apologized, “Bob reminds me of him. So handsome that you can’t refuse anything he asks. Please don’t scold Bob. He’s a child; look at those soulful sad eyes.”

Ally remembered her manners. “Thank you for minding him. However he’s a bold child. We must go. Come on Bob, up and at ’em.” She didn’t have to say another word, the dog got to his feet with difficulty and lumbered after her. Ally turned to him and said, “I hope the cucumber gives you trouble. You deserve it.”

His loud belch ended the conversation.

Moving On is now on Sale on Amazon.

Moving On – Sample – First Chapter.

E-Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

1. The Race

 

 

 

“Hike on,” Ally shouted, leaning forward against the blast of wind as her team of four Irish sled dogs bounced into top speed pulling her around the steep bend.  Their waving tails declared, to those watching the race, their love for doing this work.

She wondered if they would run well across snow. It would make a welcome change from sludge and muck. Running on snow was a dream. Ally wondered about it for a second while noting the amount of muck on the track. In comparison the countryside around her looked green and beautiful but Ally hadn’t time for artistic appreciation. She was here to win.

Shouts of encouragement mingled with the barking of chasing teams reminded her every competitor wanted to win. Once more she asked her team to accelerate. With their thick double coats gleaming in weak Irish sunlight, they obeyed her shout.

“We are all in this together. I won’t let you down,” she promised.

Despite cold air and dirt being kicked up in her face Ally smiled. Luna was lead dog today. Excited noisy barking behind alerted them, another team was getting closer. Luna turned her head to peep back, her dark eyes gleaming. She didn’t need encouragement from Ally to pull harder.

The last hill loomed ahead, a mere pimple in the distance. The wheels of her rig slid all over the track, Ally knew what to do. She jumped off and ran hard, pushing the rig with all her strength.  The thin wheels of the rig bounced about making it difficult to keep a grip on the bar. It was tough to keep up with the dogs. Far behind she could hear a male voice roaring abuse at his dogs. She flinched, recognising the voice but also remembering how John, her ex husband loved to shout. Ally treated her dogs like most things in her life, with gentleness and persuasion.

“Focus Ally.” she whispered knowing this was not the time to dwell on anything but what she had to do.

It was tough not to think of a portion of her past while she was racing. Sam, her father, had introduced her to this sport when she was a feisty teenager. Moving home, because of his illness, was the best decision of her life. She owed everything to Sam. In contrast, she owed John, nothing. Sam’s death had left her feeling isolated and alone.

The biting wind caused her to shiver and pulled her back to the present. Chewing on her bottom lip, she lifted her head. ‘We need to get up and over this damn hill if we are to win.’  With a roar of encouragement she pushed even harder. Like her dogs, she was prepared to put every last ounce of energy into the race.  Once they gave their best, Ally was happy. Hands firmly on the bar before her, she pushed as though her life depended on it. Her feet slid about on the wet heavy ground, making her feel as though she were carrying two buckets of sludge. Her breath came in gasps leaving her ribs aching as she continued to push.

She reached the top, took a deep breath to help prepare her for the treacherous down slope. Jumping back on, she applied light pressure to the brake with her right foot. Ally encouraged them to hold back. “Slow up, Luna,” she shouted.

Droplets of water splashed her as she brushed against coniferous branches lining the steep path. She ignored the wet patch spreading between her shoulder blades. Ally focused on the track ahead, aware of the mix of human voice and dogs barking behind them as they edged closer to her team. She wondered who was catching them. She smiled, ‘doesn’t matter, we will win.’

Arriving at the bottom of the hill in one piece, she had time to notice grey clouds lifting marginally, the sun attempting once again to shine. Her spirits soared until she glanced behind her.

It was Steve, a rival, who didn’t like being beaten especially by a woman. Behind him she saw a sparkling new rig with a shiny new competitor on board. Though his dogs were big and gaining on her, Ally hoped her experience would gain her the upper hand.

The track was level. The outside of it was hard while the inside track, looked to be in a similar state, but was wet and boggy. Ally knew what to do.  In a minute she would discover if Steve knew the course.

He closed up on her. As his dogs came alongside hers, Ally pulled further right. She was as far to the outside as she could get.

He saw her move and grinned taking the inside track. His grin became a smug leer.

Ally acknowledged his mistake with a small smile of her own. She had just beaten him by her knowledge of the track. Steve didn’t know it yet. He believed she was pulling back, letting the stronger team pull ahead.

She grinned and chuckled. ‘If you think I quit that easily you are a mug Steve. You have a lot to learn.’

His mistake surprised her. She knew he was rough with his dogs, now she added arrogant to the list. Her guess was he had not bothered to walk the track as she had earlier. ‘Well, sometimes the best way to learn is the hard way.’ It was harsh but it was the truth. It reminded her of how awful she had been at making life-changing decisions.

To her surprise the new team were close behind them. They, too, attempted to pull to the inside.   As he drew level with her team, he shouted above the wind and howling dogs. “Thank you, honey. We appreciate being let through.” His deep husky voice carried easily in the wind. She ignored the comment. His sunglasses, she noted were as trendy as his flash clothes.

‘I’m not your honey,’ she thought.  Ally bent her head, rounded her shoulders and dug deep as she encouraged her dogs to give chase.

“Hike on Luna. Hike on.” Luna responded swiftly, as did her team. Ally smiled, thinking to herself, ‘you may be small but you sure can sprint! And he is about to find out how fast we can go.’

In comparison her companion’s dogs were sinking in the soft mud hidden on the inside of the track. It slowed them sufficiently. Ally recognized that the newcomer’s team were fighting each other rather than working together.  Luna sped by her eyes focused on the prize ahead.

Steve’s dogs were tired and sliding on the downhill run. He urged them on with a crack of a whip. Then, as she drew level with him, there was another strong crack followed by a moment of stabbing pain. The whip hit Ally’s right hand.  Tears flowed but she kept her hand stuck to the bar.  The roar of protest from the man behind her drifted away in the wind as Ally continued on.

She raced by Steve hoping he wouldn’t take her victory out on his dogs later. Luna stretched out her thin frame as did the others and both men’s teams were left floundering in the soft sticky ground.

Ally passed the finishing line thinking, ‘we did it, Dad. I hope you were watching.’

She wondered what her other competitors would think about her win. They had been quick to dismiss her chances earlier. At the starting line two of them had looked scathingly at her team of two Siberian Huskies and two crossbred dogs.

A particular comment had hit her squarely between the shoulders. “Aren’t your dogs a bit small, love? Maybe you should go home and leave this to the professionals.”

Ally had ignored them. Eyes fixed ahead of her she focused on listening for the starting horn.

It hadn’t helped her popularity when she crossed the finish line in second place in her last race. The prizes today were vouchers for dog supply shops. Keeping four racing dogs and one chunky one didn’t come cheap. In Ally’s world, every cent counted.

She smiled. It would be interesting to hear what those competitors who dismissed her earlier would say about her now.

 

Moving On is available through Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

 

 

Maria’s: Moving On

E-Book Cover

Illustration by:  Constantinos Thersippos Karentzos –  “Field”, a digital sketch of an original artwork, with model Sofia Doulgeraki

Moving On

 

Ally O’Brien s world has been knocked sideways by the death of her father. The breakup of her marriage leaves her feeling disillusioned about love.  For this romantic Irishwoman being a divorcee is not a trophy.

Ally wishes to move on with her life.

Trouble, she believed had arrived into her life via her inheritance.  Her inheritance consisted of her family home which was in need of repair and her father’s five dogs. Four of the dogs were part of his racing team. Ally returns to the sport of dog sledding, on wheels. She rediscovers the joy of competing and occasionally winning.

Tom Lynch is everything Ally should avoid, handsome and charming, with a different woman beside him each day of the week. He is used to winning. A woman who is indifferent to his charm creates a challenge.

Ally is certain of one thing, love is not for her.

However, Ally is everything Tom has been searching for.

 

It is available on Amazon  in paperback and on kindle.

 

Flash Fiction: Flying Cakes.

 

Dear Kate,

Chris is lying in hospital.

The doctors don’t know what hit him. That is the trouble.

I know you are only 6,000 miles away but it might as well be the moon in moments of crisis.

I could do with a hug or a smack, I don’t know which would be best. You, as usual, would know and administer the necessary action.

How do I do it? I am married the sum total of five weeks, happy at last, and wham: my husband is lying unconscious on a hospital trolley. The fight for a proper bed is constant.

Right here we go, deep breath, the story begins like this.

I have been trying to impress him.

I’ve sorted his house, scrubbed and cleaned it until it has become so clean and sterilized it is a no go area for any insect or germ.  His wheezy chest has vanished. We are both delighted with his incredible stamina and energy. No need for details your vast imagination can sort that area out with delight, no doubt.

To celebrate I decided to bake his favorite, double chocolate fudge cake.

Me, bake? Why ever not? I decided to go for it. I bought the necessary ingredients and cake tin. Then I followed the recipe carefully. Placed it in the oven and went to watch my favorite tv program.

One hour later the smoke alarm woke me. I opened the back door, windows, skylights. I pulled the offending item from the oven. It was double all right, double burnt and hot. My burning fingers begged for mercy so I pegged it out the back door. This was followed by an awful sound.

I raced out. There Chris was, lying flat on his back and the hissing, smoking cake beside him. I called for help.

Checked no one was about then heaved the offending item even further away and there you go. What to do next? Please help.

 

Your loving but needy friend,

Maria

The Sunshine Award.

sunshine-award1

A big thank you from me (and woof from the two four legged bloggers) to Belsbro for nominating our blog for the Sunshine Award.

Here’s how the nomination works:

* Use the logo above in the post.

* Link to whoever nominated you.

* Write ten pieces of information about yourself.

* Nominate ten fellow bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogsphere.”

* Leave a comment on the nominees’ blogs to tell them of the award.

Difficult to remember ten non boring things about myself but I’ll try:

1. I believe in the power of good, everyone is here for a reason.

2. I was born a dreamer, got bullied and in trouble in school because of it and was stubborn enough to cultivate those dreams into stories.

3. I volunteer with several groups because (selfishly) I enjoy it and enjoy meeting like minded people.

4. I am a morning person.I wake early, drive everyone nuts by being up and about and smiling.

5. I used to worry about not having money. Years of not having much has made me learn how to live and enjoy.

6. I was Ireland’s worst athlete but love running and throwing, now I coach schoolkids and enjoy it.

7. I was terrified of everything when I was a child. My parents got a dog, he became a life saver to me, now I would love to adopt many more than the two I have.

8. I love chocolate but it doesn’t like me, leaves me with a headache to rival any hangover.

9. I have a fear of ill health, having nursed my mum I do not wish to travel down the same road so I walk, cycle and attend a weekly strength and mobility class.

10. I have been married for 31 years and Pat is my best friend, corny I know but true.

 

Here’s the list of blog sites I nominate for the award.

Breath of Green Air

At Least I have a Brain

50 is the new 30

Listen Watch Read

Collies of the Meadow

How to be a children s Illustrator

Haley the wonder dog

Live to write – write to live

Violets Veg*n E-Comics

Chronic Conditions and LIfes lessons

Thank you all for inspiring and encouraging me to keep blogging and writing.