Kay’s Story (Jeff’s Turn) (Part Eighteen)

Looking for the beginning of Kay’s Story?

Sunday couldn’t come fast enough for Jeff. All week, as he went about his ongoing job search, he saw the mirage of Kay’s face everywhere. Each brown haired girl he saw reminded him of her and any time he heard a baby’s cry he’d scan the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of her bright eyes.

His life in Vermont was really quite lonely. The minute he opened his mouth, his accent branded him as a flatlander. It continued to amaze him that the simplest pronunciation of a word could turn the most welcoming smile into a frosty look of caution in a millisecond.

So far, Jeff had applied for dozens of jobs with not so much as a single interview. Rather than the reverential awe his qualifications usually garnered, here they seemed to only summon up a scornful cold shoulder. All he could think of was the cliques and bullies that had dominated his years in the public school system. Now, he was sitting in the parking lot after yet another fruitless round of trying to impress a supervisor. Frustrated, he smacked the steering wheel of his truck with an open hand. Why am I always on the outside looking in?

He turned the key in the ignition and the engine revved to life. The road unwound before him, like a picturesque scene from a postcard. The last rays of golden sunlight flitted between the tree branches, making playful ghosts dance on the passing cars.

He mused as he drove, talking half to God and half to himself. What am I doing here, anyway? He’d left Massachusetts with the glowing hope of a fresh start. Vermont. The Green Mountains. It had all seemed so promising and new, a place without old memories. Somewhere without so much pain. But what appeared idyllic from a tourist’s eyes was quickly beginning to emerge as a dead end with a nice façade.

Jeff turned onto the back road that lead towards his house, newly graded rocks pinging up on the underside of his vehicle. By the time his headlights lit the front of the small log cabin, the first star was shining steadily in the sky. Shoving the door open, he paused, listening to the still sounds of the forest all around him. Crickets chirped and somewhere nearby an owl hooted, followed by the call of a lone coyote. This moment. This makes it all worth it. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, taking it the heady sense of pine and cedar. The only thing missing was someone to share it with. He smiled in the darkness. Maybe I should get a dog. A scruffy loyal mutt would be perfect. The smile quickly became a grimace as a familiar nagging voice filled his head. Yeah, right, Jeff. And maybe a job, would be nice, so you can afford to buy food for yourself, never mind vet bills and dog food.

He might not have a dog or any family, but he had this land. It was his, ten whole acres, from the decaying fence post that marked the property line to the east, all the way down to the trickling creek on the west side. Impulsively, he flopped down onto the soft uncut grass and began to count the stars, as each one blinked into focus.


Kay (Part One)

Ordinary. That was the word that came immediately to mind upon meeting Kay for the first time. Nothing about her stood out and screamed “individual”. She wasn’t ugly, she wasn’t pretty. Just normal.

Today was a day like any other. She was on her way to work, walking at a steady pace and due to arrive ten minutes early, which was her habit. She cut through the narrow gap between two decrepit brick buildings and came out in the back of Harrimon’s Groceries and More. She held her breath as she passed the overly full dumpster and made her way towards the back door.

Years ago, someone had spray painted “Employees Only!” across the top in bright pink letters, mainly as a joke. No one thought it was terribly funny, but then again, nobody bothered to repaint the door either. This entryway would be bustling with penny-pinching customers out to buy a case of overripe oranges or day old bread by midday. All the townsfolk knew that the back way was where the bargains lived.

Eaaayyyyyaaaaaa! A rather indignant wail pierced the air and startled Kay enough that she tripped, falling right into a rather dubious puddle. Oh great! Stupid alley cats! she exclaimed.

Kay scrambled up, trying to brush the mud from her uniform. If there was one thing her boss Brian hated more than tardiness, it was messy employees. She might not have much to show for her 24 years, but at least Kay had a steady income and her own place. Keeping her job was a must.

Then, a second cry filled the air, this one more like a sob. What in the…?? It was most certainly coming from the fragrant dumpster. She might as well take a look. Her shirt was already full of mud, anyway.

To be continued…

This story was scribbled quickly as a writing exercise and for my own amusement. I will continue the story soon. I hope you enjoy it!

Please forgive any errors, grammatical or otherwise, as this is a rough single draft story.

can’t run away… by Toni L.A. Cross

scuffed pink saddle shoes
dangling down
kicking against
a frilly white bedspread

an open suitcase
tossed to one side of
a distraught and determined
little girl in pigtails
the contents
spilling out
into a jumbled heap
of girlish necessities

in her lap are
her two favorite dolls
she sniffles
looks back and forth
between them
trying to decide
who to leave behind

she remembers
when she got
Nellie Sue
with her porcelain face
her pretty blond curls
the look
on her Daddy’s face
when she reached up
to hug him
squealing "thank you"

and she pictures
buying Anna May
when Mama took
her shopping
just the two of them
counting out the money
from her little purse
and mother smiling
proudly and saying
"you are growing up…"

she looks at
her attempt at packing
her diary
her locket
her favorite clothes
a book of poems
an apple
some bread

a strangled cry
a whimper
and then come the tears
a rush
a gush
a violent flood

she cannot go
she must stay
so the road
is forgotten
for another day
and passion
and rage
and longing
and then
she is homesick
in her very own room
til another day

Helga the Hedgehog: An Alliteration Nonsense Tale

Helga the Hedgehog

happily hummed

as she hobbled

 here and there

heartily hoping

her hedgehog husband

had helped himself

heating hamburgers

in their humble hamlet.

Her honeys,

Hebert, Hanna, and Hosea

happen on hunger always.

New Life on a Frozen Morn: A Short Story, Written by Toni L.A. Cross 12/25/09

Her breath hung in the air for a millisecond before seemingly shattering into an icy shower. Everything was white, stark, and elegantly harsh.

   Footsteps crackled and a fine cloud of snow puffed up from her boots. GRRRRcccrrreeeaakk! The barn door slowly slid open. A tiny mouse skittered away from the light, a kernel of stolen corn between its sharp teeth. Inside, it almost seemed balmy compared to the frigid outdoors. Suddenly, a small weak cry came from the corner, answered immediately by the soft throaty voice of a mother goat. The girl hurried over to peer into the pen. A new kid! Shivering and wet, its mama nudged it with her nose. Frantically, she licked, trying to dry her young before it froze.

The spell of morning was broken. A whirl of straw-colored hair and parka flew into the house. Towels! Iodine! Hairdryer! Warm water! Pandemonium reigned in the farmyard as everyone bustled about like EMTs at a head-on collision. Every second counted.

Towels rubbed matted goat fluff, iodine sloshed the brand-new bellybutton, the racket of the hairdryer filled the small space, spooking the hens and making the new mom naa nervously.

Soon baby stood on wobbly legs. Tentative kid-lips tasted a swollen nipple. And then, a cautious suck, a first swallow. Little brown eyes came alive! Food! A little white tail flagged for the first time. Mama goat mumbled her encouragement and nudged her baby’s bottom, almost knocking it over in enthusiasm.

All the humans slumped in relief. The winter afternoon grew still again, but now, somehow warmth had stolen into the day.