Browsed by
Author: Sheryl Steines

A Year in the Life of the Tree Beside My Window

A Year in the Life of the Tree Beside My Window

Life – Less

I can’t see much outside my window at work. It’s high on the wall, it tilts inwards, leaving me a view of the sky and of the top of the tree just outside my window.

As a dreamer, I take time outs, day-dream of a story idea, fulfilling a wish and often times my attention turns to the tree outside. I watch with great interest, from season to season, that tree.

From the tiny buds that sprout in the spring, hiding the new bird’s nest, to the lush fullness of summer where the birds hide from the mid day heat, to the bright orange contrasting against the bright blue fall sky.

It’s barren now, with only a few dead leaves swaying in the breeze.

Ice collects on the ledge between the glass and the cement window ledge. Snow collects on the glass only to melt by the mid day sun, even as the temperatures plummet so close to zero. I stare all day at the grayness outside my window, dull and lifeless as I long for the coming spring.

Today I saw something different, unexpected, the first sign of the changing seasons. Several cardinals, several lady birds and their mates, red against the gray sky. They’re pecking at the water that collects near the base of the window, heated only by the heater in my office space. They keep at it for many long minutes, preparing for the gathering storm. I watch with interest as they fly to the barren tree and back again, lapping up the water as if it will be their last for some time.

Surviving Life

A simple act of survival, and I stood there and watched until they flew away.

When they were gone and I was alone in the grayness, I turned and walked back to my desk and waited for the gathering storm.

Queen Victoria – The Strong, Real Women

Queen Victoria – The Strong, Real Women

The Ultimate Strong Woman

I watch quirky, I also watch relatable characters, most recently, strong, real women. I’ve started a new show. You may have heard of it, Victoria on Masterpiece. While I’m a sucker for the dresses, the jewelry, the crowns, I’m wildly fascinated by the role of women in each century. While I realize that writers take liberties, I’m guessing there’s some truth to the portrayal of the Queen, and I’m finding it fascinating to see that a woman’s many struggles haven’t changed all that much.

Queen Victoria

Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 at the tender age of 18.  Almost immediately, she found herself struggling to be heard, to be thought of as the monarch, of a strong leader. It hadn’t helped that she was a petite, delicate flower, considered mildly incapable of doing much more than having children and spending time in the nursery. The life she would most likely have had, had it not been the accident of her birth, to be born as the heir to the throne.

You can hear the frustration in her voice as the young girl fights to be heard, to find her way in a male dominated world, where simply by her sex and stature, she brushed aside as nothing more than a girl.

Our Struggles are Universal

Victoria stumbles along the way, but remains steadfast in her duty, in her desire to make a difference, to rule her subjects with honesty and do what’s right. But she does all this by her own rules, choosing to marry for love, not duty, standing up to those who wish to sway her and push her aside.

Though she’s the ruler of England, a vast kingdom in 1837, she’s still a woman. She suffers postpartum depression, she struggles being heard, she’s jealous, when her husband flirts with a female mathematician. But when Victoria meets the woman face to face, she sees a woman struggling just like her, who is constantly trying to find her footing and prove herself.

The Picking of a Role Model – Real Women

Who knew I’d find a role model in a woman who lived 181 years ago, in a time and place so different from my own. And who knew just how much just being a woman, has not changed. How we still want the same things, and our difficulties are universal. And more than anything, the answer is same. We are the solution to our own situation and only we can make it right or better. We are our own strength and we owe it to each of to be supportive of our choices whether we chose to stay at home and raise our kids or we chose to work outside of our homes.

And just like Victoria, I stand firm in my desire to write, to create, to say something and leave behind a legacy. To help others like myself by sharing my story in hopes I can help someone else find their way.

No matter what, we’re all strong, or delicate flowers, smart and capable and sometimes we stumble.

And Victoria isn’t just the strong female character, it’s not just watching and getting angry by thoughts and ideas I’m not used to, it’s also the dresses, jewels, and crowns. Because hey, there’s still that.

Victoria on Masterpiece

 

 

Bring Back Dirk Gently – Quirky, Fun and One of the Best!

Bring Back Dirk Gently – Quirky, Fun and One of the Best!

Television – My favorite Storytelling Medium

This self-proclaimed television junkie fully admits I love the medium. It’s easy as it comes to me. I can watch in my pajamas, under a blanket while the snow falls and the temperature drops, eating my weight in chocolate.

Movies, while fun spectacles of light and sound in it two-story glory, can’t always tell the full story. Plot lines are shortened, back stories almost non-existent. Television can take it’s time.

Characters and plots can roll out slowly, and meander through a plot, like a river gliding through the countryside.

I like Quirky, I like fun

I like the bizarre characters, good writing, good acting and fresh stories. And there in a commercial I see it. My perfect show. Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency. In my head, it seemed like the best of both worlds. Detective shows (one of my favorite (with quirky characters and fun stories).

I got so much more.

Mixing Genres

Obviously by the title, it’s a detective agency based in a different reality. Here there’s time travel and fantasy elements. Just making it that much better. I was told once you couldn’t mix genres. But this mixing creates an amusing tale that leads the viewer down a twisty, windy road. A little like following the white rabbit down the rabbit hole.

And yes. You can mix genres.

Dirk Gently and Friends- Quirky, Loveable, Intolerable, Adorable

Slightly supernatural in that Dirk the detective, believes “It’s all connected”, and it’s that philosophy that lets Dirk glide from one clue to the next. He knows it will happen that way though he doesn’t know what or when it will happen. He’s adorable, he positive until he isn’t and he walks through the case believing that it will turn out just fine.

Todd Brotzman, his unwilling partner, stubborn, lonely, working a dead-end job, is dragged through the adventure, sharing with Dirk the discovering of each new clue, he soon realizes just how true “It’s all connected” really is.

There’s Farrah, Amanda and Bart and Ken and the Rowdy Three, all quirky in their own manners, their own very different lives and psychic abilities. Each of them roll out to us slowly, confusingly as we wonder what their place is in this murder mystery. None of them are walking billboards for a type of person. They’re all complex, multi layered people, who you love, you hate, you cheer for, you boo, depending on the episode. They’re human, they’re funny, they get frustrated, and upset as their worlds collide, and fall apart and they pick themselves back up, just like the rest of us.

Bring Back Dirk Gently –

I didn’t even mind that I was thoroughly confused each episode, because you were meant to be confused. We were meant to experience the story in a frustrating, confusing way, just like the characters do. I couldn’t wait for each episode just to experience the rainbow of emotions, fun and frustrating in each hour-long episode.

I couldn’t wait for season two. And it didn’t disappoint. They grew closer, they missed each other, they were so determined to find each other and solve the crime. Unwavering belief that “All things are connected”. And then they cancelled it.

Please bring it back. Please let me hide under the covers and wear a smile on my face for an hour as the friends take me on a bumpy ride through another case that will get solved because “It’s all connected”.

 

 

 

The Nobody Girl – The Confidence Game

The Nobody Girl – The Confidence Game

Confidence Comes in Various Ways

Confidence can come by way of kudos from a boss for a job well done, a raise for that job well done, a good book review for a long-awaited book release, a stranger, unprovoked telling me she loves my style and looks forward to seeing what I wear everyday.

There’s a purpose behind that story. I was working on a blog about the Nobody Girl, a reference I make about myself. It’s not intended to be self derogatory, or mean. It was meant to illustrate my place in my life. The girl no one paid attention to, the girl whose teachers always called by the wrong name, even after I corrected them. I was the one who wasn’t picked on, wasn’t noticed, just there.

Where Style and Confidence Collide

I get that fashion isn’t an important priority. There are children who don’t get enough to eat, women who walk miles a day to get their daily water, war, and hate. For now I can only speak to my tiny corner of the world and how clothes transformed, me, the way I walk, talk and carry myself, and why it’s important.

As this nobody girl, my clothes were big, baggy, unfashionable. I was shy, quiet, a with little confidence. Every once in a great while, a great sweater, awesome boots, a good hair cut, could in an instant, turn that nobody, hiding behind anything, could feel fierce, confidence, able to take on the challenges.

The Nobody Girl Finds a Voice

Style, whatever that may be, is a reflection of the person who chooses the clothes and wears them. For me, my life was changed the day I wrote the first word, that led to the first sentence, which led to the first paragraph. It grew to the first page, the first chapter and ended with the first book. It was a transformative experience to achieve the first part of the dream I had since I was seven. It was the start of a growing confidence.

It led to straightening my hair, which changed the way I looked at myself and how I felt about myself. I changed the way I dressed my new self, taking chances, with clothes, shoes and purses, trying on items that reflected a fun, carefree, and fierce individual. What every one else wore didn’t interest me. I wanted to stand out, get noticed, be heard and make sure they always knew my name.

Nobody Girl No More

It was a compliment, that someone took the time to tell me they liked my style. I stood out, I was memorable. That feeling, that feeling that I no longer need to hide, that I will no longer want to accept things just because. I want to be remembered, be heard, make my mark and share my voice.

This is what I want. It’s what I’ve always wanted. I want to write. I want to create. I want to share my voice, my experience. However, I come to that confidence, is important. It just is. Whether it’s a well written book, or a great outfit, I can walk with my head up, my shoulders back and know, some day, they won’t forget my name.

Traditions That Link the Generations

Traditions That Link the Generations

Where Do Traditions Come From

My grandparents immigrated from Glasgow, Scotland in 1948, (The family came from Poland and Russia before that). Eager to become citizens, to become American, they embraced traditions and in that, certain traditions became family traditions.

Early Thanksgivings would consist of the usual: turkey, stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes. And then it happened. The story as I heard it, my grandmother discovered the stuffing recipe in a magazine. It was simple: bread onion, carrots, butter, eggs, and a potato. Yeah. A potato. It is by far, the best stuffing I have ever had.

Growing up, I would come downstairs on Thanksgiving morning to find my parents preparing the stuffing, the same stuffing my mom would help prepare as a kid. The difference between then and now, she’d use hand peelers and a grater; I got a food processor.

Without that stuffing, it just isn’t Thanksgiving. With my parents divorced and my Thanksgiving rotated yearly, I make enough to share with whichever parent I’m not celebrating with that year.

Acquiring New Traditions

Over the years, people have come and gone, sharing the day with us. Everyone brings something to share. And my food loving family, acquired yet another food related tradition. It’s called Aunty Rudi cake. My aunt isn’t allowed in the house unless she brings the moist and delicious cakes, that she doctored and that none of us can get enough of. It’s actually one of those traditions that isn’t just for Thanksgiving, It encompasses any family party. It’s come down to each of us having our own travel case holder in which to carry any leftovers home with us.

As I write this, I realize that all of our traditions are food based. Beside the stuffing and the cake, our family always had a deep love for turkey skin. Yeah, the way we make our turkey is to ensure the skin is crispy, buttery, and heavenly. So much so, we stand around the turkey as it’s being carved. One year, my aunt Shelley stole it out of my hand before I could stick it in my mouth.

The newest tradition started a few years ago. It was the smallest group, only five of us. I stayed in my pajamas as I prepared the stuffing, and wore them as my mom prepared the standing rib roast. Yes. Standing rib roast. Most of us, assembled that day were not big fans of turkey. Rather than making a large turkey, we made a small one and dined on the sumptuous flavor of rib roast. I know turkey wasn’t there for the first Thanksgiving, it is one of our most favorite traditions. My mouth waters thinking about it.

And Your Traditions Are?

And what do you celebrate? Are your traditions food related? Location related?

The Recipe

  • 3 dozen mixed rolls. I use plain and onion rolls. Sometimes I use challah bread. Buy the bread days early to harden them for easy grinding.
  • One large onion
  • 1 bag of cut carrots. Not small, probably large. I process enough to make the stuffing pretty.
  • 1 potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter, melted in 1 cup of water
  • Lowry’s Seasoning Salt

In the food processor, grind the rolls and leave in a large bowl. You’ll need it. Grind the onion, carrots and potatoes. Add to the bread. Add the eggs. Hand mix, adding the water/butter mixture as needed. The stuffing should be wet, and easily form a ball. You don’t want it mushy. Add the Lowry’s seasoning salt to taste. Place in 350 degree oven until hot.

While we don’t add anything else to the stuff, I know others have added cranberries, almond slivers, celery or whatever ingredient that tickles their fancy. As this is our family tradition, we don’t mess with it.

Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Motivation in a Pool of Nothingness

Motivation in a Pool of Nothingness

Motivation

What is motivation? Have you ever been far, far away from your happy place, searching for the spark of motivation to get you past the darkness? Your spark will be different then my spark, a thing as unique as you are.

The things that motivate me can be as simple as a motivation quote, a song lyric, an unexpected note of gratitude. My greatest professional struggle is my attempt to become a better selling author, have a strong following, so that I can do what I love for a living. It hasn’t been an easy road. As I scratch and claw toward this goal, I find myself searching for a motivational spark that propels me forward, that keeps me writing, tweeting, blogging and marketing.

Lately I’m motivated by women succeeding in their life’s work. Specifically, Lorelei Gilmore opening her own inn. Every time I watch that story arc I choke up. I cheer for her, sitting on the edge of the sofa, even though I know that by the end of the season, she’s successful, she happy, she’s free.

Better Things

Yeah, I know it’s a television show. If you know me, you know I’m a self-proclaimed television junkie. I love the medium. Besides books, I think tv is a great medium for telling a full, rich story. There’s time, in several hours, or weeks and even months. You have a chance to meet the characters, get more than a glimpse into their lives. You feel something for the characters even though you realize they’re not real. But for a few hours a week or a night, they are real.

Kids are work, they’re hard and they come with both good times and bad times. I have two. I’m tired, emotionally exhausted as I deal with a child who has crippling anxiety and another with transgender issues. Most of the time I question my decision, feel like a failure because I can’t keep up and it leaves me overwhelmed. And in that whirlpool of emotions I land on activities, books, movies or television shows that offer me a sliver of motivation, that make me feel as though I’m not a failure, like I oftentimes feel that I am.

Currently, my new favorite is Better Things. It’s a story about a working mom, raising three daughters alone. Sam is a working actress, fulfilling her lifelong dream and in the process, she struggles to raise her children, keep her career successful and deal with the unusual issues that her children manage to come home with.

As I watch it almost at times feels as though I’m with a friend and I don’t feel as bad as I did when I start. Maybe I’m not so far from being okay as I sometimes feel that I am.

Being a little unfocused and overwhelmed won’t be able to derail me.

Motivation

My motivation is different then your because I have different dreams, different desires, different needs. I desire to be in a different place, to be a better person a good mom.

I write because I can’t do anything else. It’s who I am, it’s what I do. Better Things, Gilmore Girls, the song Set Fire to the Rain (that’s for another blog), they motivate me. They inspire me to continue forward, to achieve me dreams, to raise successful, happy children. To accomplish that I find my own motivation, different from yours all to the same purpose. Find that thing and run with the spark and never lose sight of the meaning behind it.

 

 

 

Living for the Weekend – Living a Satisfying Life

Living for the Weekend – Living a Satisfying Life

Living for Precious Moments in Time

Why are we living for the weekend rather than the living in the present moment? Is the thing we spend most of our time doing, that distasteful to us, that we long to be any where but where we are?

I don’t enjoy living for the weekend. Living for the sweetness of lazing around, taking my time to drink a tea, watch some mindless television, to not rush awake before the sun rises so that I can get it all in before work. Because realistically, I’m still not getting it all in.

It’s time to enjoy the time in between doing what I love to do.

I Was Born to Write

I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, when I was seven years old. I never once wavered from the dream. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to create worlds of my own making, make my own schedule, feel the sense of accomplishment and freedom you get working from home. It is a great dream and during those periods of time when I’ve been at home, in between full-time paying jobs, I felt that freedom, I experienced the sense of accomplishment as I finished 5 book drafts. As the book series worked itself out.

And then I got a job.

Full Time Writing for Cash

It’s boring. It feels like a time suck and I find myself living for those moments in time, in between being at work where I can finally sit down and write. Where I can feel productive and proud of the work I do. Unfortunately I haven’t fully found my audience and the reality of life was such, I needed to go back to work.

My daily struggle, rising before the sun and rushing out the door al the while knowing that I’d rather be at home being creative, letting that side of myself stretch out and explore. I don’t have that opportunity writing procedures.

I sigh. The dream is still the dream, the book, is still being written. Creativity is my escape from the mundane as I explore options for not letting myself get sucked into the living for the weekends. There is so much time wasted, longing to be where we are not.

It’s time to not live like that anymore. I make a vow to myself.

It’s Okay to Not Accomplish Everything

It’s time to let go of the desire to be perfect. It’s time to create priorities. Yeah, something’s need to get done. Dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, seeing friends. Something has to give, a plan needs to be constructive, sleep needs to be had.

When we let go, not hold on too tightly, we can live in the moments in between where we want to be. Life is too short to work through it, to miss the other moments in time. I forced myself to go to yoga tonight, even though I wanted to come home and write before I became to tired to think. Because I know, I needed that hour and 10 minutes to be alone with myself. To recharge and stretch. Something had to give. Tonight that thing I let go of, laundry.

I can wear dirty pants one more day. Can’t I?

 

 

 

Confidence – Shall We Pretend Until We Believe?

Confidence – Shall We Pretend Until We Believe?

The Greatest Confidence Boost

The greatest boost of confidence that I have ever experienced was writing my first book. The greatest loss of confidence started when I tried to sell the book.

Being confident is like riding a roller coaster. There are so many highs and lows, twists and turns and big ass drop that turns your stomach as you purse your lips to hold in the vomit.

Trying to sell books is that same roller coaster. There’s tiny bits of good luck and lost of down turns. Much frustration and the high when the story comes together in a way you couldn’t predict when you first wrote the book.

The Confidence Struggle

I’m not the only one who struggles to remain confident. Life gets in the way, we all have problems, situations that are so overwhelming, it can attack our total being.

That’s where I am right now. Honestly, my confidence, at this moment is low, I feel as though I’m the worst writer ever, not only as a fiction writer but as a technical writer. I literally feel as though I can’t string words together to form a complete sentence.

It’s a struggle to find something to change the tide of emotion, that one thing to make create that upturn, the path that leads me to a place where readers find me and read my books and get enjoyment from the story.

Though there’s been some positive movement, there’s been much disappointment. So much so, I’ve been researching options in which to find that boost, that change, a way out of this perpetual rut I find myself in. At

At first I thought I’d, try some self-help books. I’m not great at self-help books. They may inspire for a moment, but I can’t carry it through to a conclusion. They just don’t get me.

Next I’ve opened myself to new experiences. This one is a work in progress. I’ve joined writer’s groups. And as my schedule opens up, I plan on participating and trying to glean something from the experience. I hope this can finally convince me that I’m actually a writer. If I keep telling myself that, maybe one day I’ll believe it.

There’s Always Something Positive

As I open to new experiences and as I start to believe the lies I tell myself, I need to remember to acknowledge those moments. Single moments in which I feel confidence. When I feel fierce and indestructible. When I look in the mirror and confidence radiates from my face, in my clothes, in my psyche, there’s no more brushing it off as if it doesn’t matter. It’s time to pretend for the greater good and the more I tell myself I’m confident, the more I’ll start to believe it.

Never Give Up, Never Give In

I keep plugging along because I so believe in myself at times, regardless of the underestimation that comes my way. You can’t win, if you don’t play, you can’t succeed if you don’t try. I can because I do. Join me on the journey, because someday is almost here.

WIP – Book 3 of The Wizard Hall Chronicles – Wizard War

WIP – Book 3 of The Wizard Hall Chronicles – Wizard War

September 1: The Day of First Sun

Cyril B. Stonewell waited patiently for the world to forget Princess Amelie Maxillian of Amborix, but it would take longer than the six weeks he allowed for it. Hundreds of stories had been written, pictures posted to millions of websites; her life story could still be accessed as if she were still living. This was in part due to the lack of closure. Though they knew who killed her, no one outside of Wizard Hall America, or the Wizard Council of America knew why she was murdered. And most importantly, no one anywhere knew what Stonewall was planning to do.
It’s time!

Stonewell dragged the heavy sack across the perfectly manicured lawn. It bounced, and the man stuffed inside groaned as he woke from his magical stupor.

Before reaching his destination, the body inside woke and grew restless, or scared and tugged at the canvas sack he was stuffed inside. When he couldn’t loosen the ropes, he kicked and flayed. Stonewell, not a young or healthy man, stopped, issued a hard kick to the man’s kidney and squatted beside the dirty bag.

“Keep this up and I’ll kill you now,” Stonewell hissed. The man, spoke only German, but he understood the tone of Stonewell’s words; he stiffened into a tightly wound ball and himself be dragged across the dew covered lawn owned by the royal family of Amborix.

With his destination in sight, Stonewell, short and fat, stopped again, and panted in exhaustion; the bag was heavy, even as thin and malnourished that his victim was. It was too much exertion for Stonewell.
I should have teleported!

He picked up the drawstring of the sack and hobbled his way toward the gravesite, where the royal family had buried their only daughter, far from the prying eyes of the world. But she wouldn’t be buried there for much longer.
With each labored stepped, the former high ranking member of the Wizard Council, grunted from the exertion and sweat poured down his cheeks. He wrapped the canvas handle around his hand, and took another step toward the large oak tree at the center of the open land.

Wind carried voices.

Security is here too soon!

Panic filled his gut; Stonewell hobbled as quickly as he could toward the gravesite, where the grass hadn’t fully grown back. A moist patch of dark earth, smooth yet visible lay at his feet.

Stonewell dropped the bag, wiped sweat from his forehead, leaving behind a streak of dirt and leaned against the granite headstone.

The voices, grew closer, yet they were still off in the distance, traversing the large clearing.

I need to move!

Not relishing the thought of being discovered, Stonewell glanced around the clearing searching for shadows of the security officers against their flashlights. When he saw none coming, he waved his palms across the first layer of loose dirt, pushing it to the side of the grave. He worked alone to remove several cubic feet of the heavy earth, and with each sound in the darkness, he’d spin around, anxious security would find him messing with the gravesite. He removed a second layer of dirt, the pile growing enough to draw suspicion.

Flashlights illuminated the thick, dense trees, that circled this open lawn. The harshness of the German grew louder, stronger.

They’re angry. Damn!

Stonewell ducked behind the large oak tree as Amelie’s headstone lit up with streams of light.

The bag!

“There!” Footsteps sloshed across the wet grass. Stonewell, nearly caught, waved his arm around the edge of the thick trunk, and swiped his palm in the direction of two security guards heading to the mysterious bag. Little did they know it contained a half drugged street urchin.

“Help me!” the man shouted. The security officers gained speed seeing the bag move and the pile of dirt beside the grave of Princess Amelie.

Stonewell’s jinx hit both men, they stopped mid step, frozen as living statues. He swished his palm again, knocking the men over; they landed with thuds against the grass.

Poking his head around the tree trunk, Stonewell surveyed the scene, wiped his brow of sweat, slid out from his hiding spot. His first order was a swift kick to the bag, he heard a crack in the man’s ribs. “They’re gone. You won’t be saved,” Stonewell sneered and began to remove the dirt before the security guards woke from their forced nap.

The earth from the grave loosened and floated to the pile easily but the exhaustion seeped through Stonewell’s body as he expended a lot of magical energy to unearth so much dirt and locate the coffin.

I must be close!

Three hours after he began, the cement tomb was finally visible. He wiped sweat and dirt from his face, wiped it on his expensive suit, already covered in mud. He swiped away the final layer of earth revealing the bronze plaque on the cement lid read that read, Amelie Victoria Maxillian, Rest In Peace.

As if he knew what was to come, the victim, struggled inside the canvas bag, closed tightly with a sticking spell and other magical jinxes used to prevent his escape. His moans, grew fearful as he screamed obscenities through the thick fabric.

His legs kicked out as if he could rip through the heavy fabric. Stonewell glanced at the indigent and threw a jinx at the moving mass, immobilizing him.

Standing at the edge of the hole, Stonewell held his palms upward and raised the heavy cement lid, floating it up through the grave and landing it on a clear patch of grass. Shining his light inside, he examined the coffin—still polished, nearly pristine—it lay untouched by air or time. He jumped down, tightly enclosed inside the hole. Adrenaline coursed through him as he raised the lid, unsure of what he’d find.

he silk lining ripped to shreds and covered in streaks of blood.

The newly risen vampire lay still, her expensive silk lining, ripped to shreds, covered in blood. He flashed his light inside, her angry eyes were black holes. She blinked rapidly as she stared at her savior hovering above her.

“What took so long?” she sneered.

“I know, love. It couldn’t be helped.” He smiled and reached for her hand, but the agile, young vampire rejected his assistance. She easily stood and leaped from the coffin, without breaking a sweat or dirtying her emerald green, silk dress.

Stonewell hoisted himself from the hole, slipping in the wet earth, landing in the coffin. Amelie sneered as she watched him struggle from her former prison. He glanced up at the lovely princess, and grimaced. Rather than embarrassing himself further, he teleported to the grass, bent over and sucked in a deep breath.

“I’m famished,” Amelie cooed through purple, pouted lips. Her hair fell wild around her face; her dress slipped from her shoulder. Her fingertips, raw and bloody from attempting to escape had marked up her silk dress. Smudges covered her neck, her cheek, her lips.

A breeze wafted across the clearing, Amelie closed her eyes, felt the wind across her bare skin. Though she no longer felt hot or cold, the breeze still tickled her skin.

Stonewell wanted to run a brush through the golden locks, dress her in the finest of clothes like the princess she was.
With a bath she’d be perfect.

“I’ve brought your first blood, your highness.” He bowed low to the princess as he showed her the bag with the victim squirming inside.

“Don’t call me that!” she shouted. Her voice rolled through the trees.

“Yes. Amelie. Here. Here’s the food I promised.”

Stonewell, once a high official of the Wizard Council, now succumbed to being Amelie’s slave, he untied the strings that held her first victim inside.

As a young vampire she knew nothing about the art of the sensual kill. She pounced on her prey, ripped opened the bag and held the victim to the wet grass. She sniffed him and licked his tender neck. He struggled against her vampire strength; she held him tighter, bound his hands behind his back in one of her delicate hands and pulled his neck backward, giving her room to sink her fangs into the artery. Warm blood passed her lips, she sucked deeply. Her first taste of blood was all she needed to understand the ecstasy in that moment. A slow groan of pleasure escaped her as she writhed against her first victim. As he was drained of life, he no longer struggled against her grasp, she loosened her hold on him until he finally went limp.

She held him in her arms until there was nothing left inside of him and pulled her sharp teeth from his neck. Amelie licked the last drops of blood from his neck, licked her lips of whatever she hadn’t sucked and then tossed the corpse to the ground. She stepped over him, sashaying to the man who saved her from her confines.

“My master,” the vampire cooed. She smiled coyly, averting her eyes from his lecherous stare.

The princess is happy!

Stonewell smirked to himself as he reached for her hand. He shivered at the icy chill that emanated from her skin.
“Did they notice, my dear?”

Amelie shrugged. “I have no idea what happened to me after I died,” she hissed.

It’s unlikely they found the vampire tracks beneath that thick, golden hair at the back of her head.

“They did a fine job. Fine job, indeed.” Stonewell glanced at the mess he created, reached down for the dead homeless man and pulled him toward the coffin. He was still very heavy.

“I’m so hungry,” Amelie whined. She pressed her lithe body against his squat fat bottom.

“I need to clean up this mess. We can’t give anyone a reason to investigate this grave. They will know you aren’t here,” he said as he dumped the body inside the coffin.

“Now,” Amelie said as her breasts and hips curved against him. Heat rushed through him as her every touch aroused him, even the cold chill from her skin felt alive.

“I will find you someone to eat. Now let me finish,” he ordered and lowered the coffin lid on the dead man.
“Now!” she screamed.

Amelie grabbed Stonewell’s fat wrist and twirled him around to face her. Confusion and fear lined his face.
“Now, my dear. I’ll fetch you someone new. Le-let’s go. We’ll go, now,” he muttered as he glanced at the frozen security team feet from where Amelie held his wrist.

But Amelie was no longer interested in the man who freed her from her prison. Pulling him to her like a rag doll, she yanked on his chin pulling his head back, exposing his neck. She could no longer wait for the taste of iron and sank her fangs deep into his neck and let the blood flow.

He cried out, “No! My love, no!”

Stonewell struggled as all victims did when they realized they were about to die. She felt the life slip from him, his muscles went slack, the life faded from his eyes. Cyril B. Stonewell’s body slumped against Amelie as she sucked from him all that he had.

 

Six Months Later

The minute Annie returned home from the Cave of Ages, she went on medical leave. Two injuries in one week was enough to claim compensation time; she gladly stayed in bed past eight in the morning when the sun burst through the curtains, blinding her.

I should find dad’s missing file.

Her mind raced with thoughts of her father, of his missing file, of the Fraternitatem of Solomon who got away with murder. She sighed and felt Cham’s warm body in deep sleep beside her. Not wanting to wake him, she climbed from the bed, threw on a thick sweatshirt and headed for her kitchen.

Zola, always protective, always there for Annie, busied herself in the kitchen, even as she too was recovering from several injuries, to her wrists, ankles and her ripped fairy wings that hung limply behind her.

“Go rest,” Annie said as she took the cleaning rag from Zola.

“I need to stay busy. You know that’s what you’ll be doing too,” Zola remarked and though Zola attempt to show strength, she was glad when Annie shooed her away. “You rest. I’ll know if you don’t.” Zola smiled before teleporting herself to the guest room for much needed sleep.

Annie poured herself hot water from kettle on the stove and dunked a tea bag inside and sat at the table.
So, where would dad hide a file?

Annie fiddled with the warm mug, the tea seeped and the water grew dark brown. She twirled the tea bag.
Basement probably?

She glanced at the open door, left her steaming mug of tea on the table and headed into the damp, cold basement.
Annie zipped up her warm hoodie and glanced around the crowded room, surveying possible locations for a file.
Maybe in the walls or under the floor or maybe the air return vents?

Annie started with the laundry room, a long thin room at the back end of the basement. It was completely unfinished, contained a washer and dryer as well as the other mechanical units for the house.

Immediately, Annie noticed the metal chair leaning against the wall and a single iron shackle that had been left behind when the clean-up team had dealt with the evidence and mess of Zola’s abduction a few days prior.
Why is that still here?

Annie pulled the shackle from the floor, noticed the blood and hair and summoned an evidence bag. With the iron bracelet secure, she began to thump against the walls, assessing the sound for possible voids in the wall. When she found nothing, Annie did a quick search of the area behind the water heater and furnace, but there was no sign of a file or a container to store a file.

With the evidence bag secure, Annie stepped back into the main basement room and scanned the walls, the floor, the boxes, filled with junk.

What was here when dad was alive?

Weary and not wanting to tackle the boxes of junk Annie decided to head upstairs for breakfast, until she noticed the small door to the crawl space, an open area beneath the staircase to the second floor.

Would he hide it in such an obvious location?

Annie had never been in the crawl space, let alone seen what was stored inside, if there was anything at all.
Sitting on the cold floor, Annie pushed against the panel that should have slid open manually. But it wouldn’t budge and use of magic did nothing to dislodge The opening. Annie sighed and summoned a crystal. Holding it over the door, she maneuvered the crystal scanning for magic. It didn’t take long for the rock to glow brightly with white magic.

The magic floated around the crystal, she stared at the old magic.

Eight years old maybe?

“Hey.” Cham rubbed his eyes of the last bits of sleep as he climbed down the staircase. “Whatcha doing?”

“I think I found the hiding spot.” She tossed him the crystal; he stared inside, reading the magic.
“Ah … that’s a really simple spell,” he noted.

Maybe dad assumed no one would ever look here.

“You really think it’s as easy as that?” Annie asked. It surprised her how simple a spell her father used.

“Yeah. I do.” The doorbell rang. Annie and Cham glanced at each other, Annie shrugged. “I’ll get it. You open,” he offered and headed back upstairs.

Annie scooted closer to the crawl space door, casting a reversal spell against the thin panel. It creaked and popped and slid open with an easy touch.

“Really dad?” Annie chuckled. With her flashlight, she stuck her head inside the space. Musty, dusty scents wafted to her; the dirt floor, the cobwebs, a possible nest in the corner. She cringed as the light roamed the small space stopping on the box in the corner.

Is that…

The box had been there for years, covered in dust, and water stains. She backed away not wanting to crawl through the bugs, or snakes or mice that might be living in here.

Duh?

Annie summoned the box, the same that stored the printer paper at Wizard Hall. It easily floated to her. She lay it on the cement beside her, almost frightened to see what was inside.

“You got an unmarked package,” Cham said, handing her an envelope addressed Annie Pearce; it had no return address.

She glanced at the scribbled handwriting, barely legible and felt the package; light and pliable.

“Odd. But guess what I found,” she announced proudly and showed him the box.

“So Jason did hide the file. You okay to look inside?”

I wonder if I am?

Ryan gave Annie his full support to investigate her father’s death. She lifted the box and floated it beside her as she walked the stairs with her unmarked package.

“I don’t recognize the handwriting. I wonder if I should take it to work.” Annie said as she tossed the package on the table beside the box.

“Or you could look for wayward magic,” Cham suggested with half a grin.

“Already there,” she announced as she moved her crystal over the mystery package. The rock didn’t glow.
Annie squished the package between her fingers.

Paper?

She held the mail to the light, but the envelope was thick and opaque offering her no clue as to the contents. Curious, she ripped open the seal and peered inside.

Well that’s not what I expected? She thought as she slipped the contents on the table.

“What the hell? It’s a… a French newspaper?”

The paper was well read, and folded with purpose. The picture attached to the article was clearly visible. Black and white, the red circle was hard to mistake. Annie summoned a magnifying glass and examined the picture as Cham looked on from over her shoulder.

That face!

“Oh crap,” she held the glass and stared into the picture.

“That can’t be.” Annie was stunned as they stared at a picture of Princess Amelie, alive and walking among the crowd.

Baseball, Poetry and the Linking of Time

Baseball, Poetry and the Linking of Time

There’s Poetry in Baseball

There’s poetry in baseball. The movement of the ball as it flies off the bat; the slide into a base; the swing of the bat. Hot summer sun beats against your skin from seats in the bleachers, a permanent fixture since 1937. Animated crowds pack themselves inside for the widest view of the field. And if so inclined turn and wave upwards to the scoreboard operator, the third generation in his family to man the board.

Wrigley Field is the past, it is the present, it is the future. They are all linked by fandom, those of us who bleed Cubbie blue. We were raised by parents, who were raised by our grandparents, and we are linked irrevocably by the love of the game, and the history of our team. Collectively we hang on each hit, each ball carried on the wind. It carries our hopes, our dreams in each at-bat.

Each season ended with immortal words, “Maybe Next Year”. We would slink away and lick our wounds, another season lost to time. 108 years of time.

They rewrote the story, and those of us who bleed Cubbie blue, breathed a collective sigh of relief, only after we jumped up and down, let out energetic screams and some of us even cried.

Baseball Links Us

I watched the series with my grandfather, who died in 1987. HIs picture lay on the table beside me;, facing the television. This he would have loved. That team would have sparked in him the delight of a child. How he loved baseball, how he loved the Cubs.

Live in the moment when it comes. Leave for the sporting goods store, 20 minutes after they win and bask with others as we wait to buy the prized “World Championship” gear. It doesn’t matter that it’s midnight. As “Go Cubs Go,” plays from someone’s car, chat up the next jubilant fan and share the stories. “Where were you when the Cubs won?” For a mere moment, there was no division, collectively we were simply Cubs fans.

It was the fourth largest gathering of humans in the history of the world. They snaked along the parade route to the rally. We packed ourselves into the park. It was a sea of blue, thousands of stories jammed together celebrating for themselves and for those who never got to see what we got to see.

At the rally.

LIke nothing before, we rolled from the rally, stretched out along the avenue, steady and proud in gear. A club of millions.

Michigan Avenue Chicago

This Year is Different

We are now experts in rooting for the champions, we’ve been here before. And yet, my stomach roils with each error, I hold my breath with each swing. We are giddy with excitement, because we know, how few and far between this could be.

I’ve passed my affliction to my children; they are now the fourth generation of Cubs fans and they understand the suffering and jubilance of truly being a fan. I cried today when they squeaked out a win. I will always bleed Cubbie blue.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: