The Rider and His Horse

Prickly wind struck his face repeatedly like razors and sweat stung his eyes as his horse zigzagged down the steep mountain. With every frightening turn he clutched the reins that were wrapped tightly round his raw and bleeding fists. His partly bare knees ached as they gripped firmly against the saddle, still his horse hurtled on further with sweat dripping from every inch of its petrified body.

The rider hung on frantically. With no power of control, they careered toward the valley below. He forced his head to turn to see the blazing inferno that threatened to overtake them and felt the searing heat insulting their already over heated bodies. The air was thick with blinding smoke but his horse continued to pursue an unknown trail heaving deep wheezing breaths as they went.

Rocks skidded from under foot causing the horse to lurch sideways and slide forward for a number of stomach-churning seconds. With stability regained the horse veered sharply left but the terrifying ordeal of the incline was not over.

Just as they plunged into the openness of the green valley a stampede of wild horses threatened their safety. The riders horse swerved to avoid collision. Regaining control, the rider eased his horse to a slow trot to allow its heartbeat to ease gently. But with the rapidly descending flames still raging toward the valley he needed to act fast.

Immediately the stampede had past, the rider steered his sweating horse toward a shallow stream. Without wanting to stress his faithful horse further he gently steered the horse with the reins toward a rugged landscape located on the opposite side of the valley. Once there he dismounted and led the horse through a maze of rocky crevices.

Above them a cloud of thickening smoke rapidly blocked out the sky. The ground beneath them altered from the luscious valley grass to a rocky path leading into a partially hidden opening in the side of the valley wall. The cave-like passageway was dark and damp as they edged forward to the echo of his horses hooves on the rocky surface. The horse’s wheezy breath gradually eased closer to a regular breathing pattern.

A gentle breeze carried a fresh earthy fragrance as they made their way through a tunnel that seemed to have no end. The man touched the wall and the ceiling above to find their way. Following a bend slightly leftward a faint light filtered in. Within moments they stepped out once again into the valley now blackened – burnt to ashes. A hundred yards further on, the stench of burnt flesh insulted their nostrils. The horse tried to push the man away from the scene but they couldnt avoid the hundreds of carcasses of wild horses that were scattered across the valley floor.

The riders horse reared and snorted. In awe and wonder the rider mounted and rode away from the valley of death.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Short Fiction

The Mystery of Keats Missing Endymion Solved.

Historian Albert Winslow sat at his desk in a sparsely furnished London office. Using two large wooden tweezers, he gently unrolled the manuscript. Faded calligraphy on tea coloured paper revealed its age and fragility. With a magnifying glass he studied the almost illegible signature confirming the author, John Keats.

Winslow peered over the top of his wire-framed spectacles. He studied the gentleman sitting opposite, who repeatedly wiped his balding head with a handkerchief. ‘Sir, where did you say you found this manuscript?’

I didnt exactly find it. Its part of my inheritance.’

Removing his spectacles, the historian studied the gentleman sitting on the other side of his desk fidgeting in his chair. ‘What did you say your name was?’

‘Kent. Michael Kent.’

Mr Kent, this signature doesnt appear to resemble a Kent.’

‘It was handed down on my mothers side. My mother changed my surname when she remarried.’

‘I see. Leave it with me, Mr Kent. Ill have it valued for you by tomorrow. Leave your details with my secretary on the way out.’ He rose and shook his clients hand.

Winslows secretary entered his office the following morning. He looked up as she reached his desk.

‘Miss Harwich, could you please place a call to a Lord David Keats of Hampstead? Give him my name and switch him through to my office. Give me a few minutes though, I need to talk to Scotland Yard.’

‘Yes, Mr Winslow.’

It took just moments for Lord Keats’s voice to be heard.

‘Lord Keats?’

‘Yes, this is he.’

‘I believe I have in my possession your great grandfathers missing manuscript, Endymion.’

The line was quiet for so long that Winslow thought he had been disconnected when suddenly Lord Keats continued.

‘How can that be? It disappeared after he died, in 1821?  Its been almost a century?’

‘Yes, I know. I also know that your father, Lord Alfred Keats, passed away last week, my condolences.’

Thank you, but how do you know and what does his death have to do with my great grandfathers manuscript?

‘Your father paid me to know. You see Im a historian and a private investigator. Your father visited me here in London on December sixth last year. The manuscript had apparently resurfaced and he hired me to investigate its location. I sent him a wire last Monday about my findings before his heart attack. Did he mention it to you?’

‘No, and Im not sure why he would hire anyone. Until Christmas my father and I had been investigating the mystery disappearance together for almost a decade.’

Winslow carefully chose his words before proceeding. Perhaps, Lord Keats, your father discovered he hadnt been told when someone had found it. That someone decided to use it for his own financial gain.

‘What are you implying, Mr Winslow?’

‘Let me refresh your memory. Two years ago, your cousin, Michael Kent, inherited a meagre bequest. While clearing out his mothers writing bureau, Kent discovered a key to a safe deposit box that contained a letter from his grandfatheryour grandfathers younger brother. With that letter was your great grandfathers manuscript. The letter described in detail how your grandfather cheated him out of his share or their fathers estate. Your great uncle stole the manuscript after your great grandfathers death in 1821 before he could have it published. Are you following me Lord Keats?’

‘Continue, Mr Winslow. I find your hypothesis intriguing.’

‘Late last year, your cousin decided it was time to show his hand by attempting to blackmail your father. Because your father didnt want his conniving nephew to get his hands on his money, he came directly to me. We thought it was an open and shut case until I discovered that Michael Kent had an accomplicesomeone who wanted revenge for an unrelated incident years before. Unfortunately, that piece of information inadvertently killed your father. The accomplice was you. Am I right Lord Keats?’

‘Youre very clever, Mr Winslow. Theres one thing you havent explained. How did you get your hands on the manuscript?’

‘That was the easy part. After your fathers death, you and your cousin-initiated plan B: to sell the manuscript to a publisher and split the profit. However, your cousin decided to have it valued first. Unfortunately for you both, he came to me. I advertise my professions separately and I only display my name on the door.’

There was another notable silence followed by a murmur of voices at Lord Keats end of the line. ‘Youll have to excuse me, Mr Winslow. Apparently, I have visitors.’

‘Ah yes, my friends from Scotland Yard. Blackmail is a serious crime. Good day to you, Lord Keats.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Authors Notes:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

English poet John Keats, born October 1795 in Moorgate, London, died in February 1821 at the age of 26 from tuberculosis. His works had been the target of much abuse including his last epic poem Endymion. John Keats never married, which should indicate that the contents of: The Mystery of Keats Missing Endymion Solved set in the early twentieth century, is completely fictional.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Cindy

‘Dont just sit there Cindy, talk to me,’ Steve pouted.

‘Humph.’

‘Dont you think you are being just a wee bit selfish? I mean this place has a lot of potential. It has everything you need. Look at it.Your old place is gone Cindy. This is your new home.’

Cindy looked around. Her arms remained folded; her head held aloft. She puckered her lips and blew raspberries at no one in particular.

‘Youre not being polite. A lot of thought went into your new environment.’

‘Humph.’

‘Please, Cindy. Look at me. Talk to me. Im supposed to be your best friend. What kind of conversation can we have if you wont even look at me?’

She turned to face Steve and tapped on his watch with her long fingers.

‘Its almost noon. Are you hungry?’

Her reply was instant – and loud.

Steve was laughing now. ‘With all the dozens of words you understand, you must know every one relating to food.’ He stood. ‘Why dont we see whats to eat?’

They walked hand-in-hand to where Cindys siblings sat sniffing and feeling fruit.

‘See Cindy’, Steve pointed out. ‘Thats the way Ive been showing you how to choose the best fruit. Only, I dont kiss mangoes before I eat them’, he teased.

Steve moved toward Oliver and Tracy but Cindy pulled back.

‘Hi you two’, Steve said with a smile. He patted the top of Cindys head. ‘Its okay. I promise.’

The pair didnt look up from their meal.

With a flick of her free hand Cindy turned and marched away pulling on Steves arm to follow. She lowered her head to face the floor. Hands faced up and wiped her eyes and nose on Steves trousers.

He crouched down and spoke quietly. ‘I know this is all new to you地nd you havent seen your family for a while, but you will settle in. Things can only improve but this conversation has got to stop being one way. He paused and cupped Cindys face in his hand. Look at me and tell me what makes you so sad.

In one huge lunge Cindy wrapped her arms around him and kissed his face, then danced around on the spot. She stopped suddenly and grabbed Steves shirt and tugged hard.

Taking the tiny wrists in his hands, Steve began to whisper. ‘I wish you could talk, Cindy girl. This is no sign Ive ever taught you. What is it?’

She fell limp in his arms.

‘Oh, I get it. You dont want me to leave.’

The reply was the slowest of nods with a bottom lip that would trip up a python.

‘Cindy girl, you have been the best chimpanzee I have ever had the pleasure to work with.’

He gently lifted his little friends chin with two fingers. He looked into her misty eyes. ‘But, its time to be just thata chimpanzee. Youre the best. You deserve the best. No more bananas for a trick. No more peeled grapes for signing a new word. Youre free.’ He paused. ‘Well, as free as the government will let you.’ He smiled and kissed his girl.

With that, Cindy strode in her cute swaying way to the table. She grabbed a banana and took it back to Steve, planted a kiss on his cheek and headed back to her family.

Oliver and Tracy looked up at Cindy shaking their heads and puckered their lips. They squealed in unison.

Cindy blew raspberries at her siblings and kissed a mango.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faith’s Adventures

From the Archives:  Faith’s Adventure – All 8 Stories

Faith to the Rescue
Faith Loses a Friend
Faith Goes on a Holiday
Faith’s Christmas Surprise
Faiths Close Encounter
Faiths Discovery
Faith Becomes a Mother
Faith – Thats my Blue Eye
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Partly true, partly fictional. 8 very short stories about Ken and his dog faith. Suitable for all ages. Please note: story “Faith Loses a Friend” may need parental guidance for younger children.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Dont Call Me Grumpy

Jessie stared wide-eyed at the freckled face of the checkout operator whose hair was as green as a florescent frog on high beam. She took a deep breath, reloaded her shopping trolley and headed to the back of the store where she plonked down the leaking carton of milk and retrieved a replacement before wandering along aisle after aisle until she felt ready to face another checkout operator.

The older woman wore a badge with the name Heidi printed in bold lettering. She was pleasant and the process went more smoothly than her earlier encounter. How was your shopping experience today?

It went OK, Jessie lied. Thank you for asking. She tapped her credit card, loaded the grocery bags into the trolley and returned to the basement parking area.

After loading the boot of her SUV, she sat in the driver seat before bursting into tears. I didnt need that. I didnt deserve that.

It wasnt until a car full of teenagers pulled in beside her that Jessie started the engine and reversed out of the car space. Taking a deep breath, she drove home.

Colin? Jessie asked that over their evening meal, am I grumpy?

Her husband of four years looked up; a surprised look on his face. You mean in general or this evening?

Well圯ither, I suppose.

Not to my knowledge. You seem quieter than usual but I didnt think you were grumpy. Why do you ask?

Today was a trying day at work and I left late. I still needed to get the groceries on the way home. I must have caught every traffic light red and I had to drive around the car parking station for twenty minutes looking for a parking space. It really didnt take long to collect the items I needed but I hadnt realised until I unload the groceries at the checkout that the carton of milk was leaking and dumped a third of it’s contents on the conveyor belt.

That would make me grumpy, Colin chuckled.

I did groan a little. I asked the cashier if someone could bring another carton and perhaps something to clean up the mess.

What did she say?

Now thats the part when I almost lost the plot. She said, I quote: Im the checkout operator, not your maid and dont get grumpy with me or Ill call security. I found myself just staring at her bright slimy green hair that looked like it hadnt been washed in a month. I just put everything back into the trolley, including the milk and went back to the dairy section.

Jessie continued the story while Colin sat opposite and listened quietly. He reached across the table and took her hand. That was just plain rude. You should have reported her.

What good would that do. She sighed and a tear ran down her cheek. I wont be going through her checkout again, thats for sure. The worst of it is, I think I convinced myself that I must have been grumpy.

I dont think so Jessie, you shouldnt either.

She poked at her food for a few minutes before speaking again. I feel like Ive been stabbed through the heart. I hear her words in my head over and over.

Well, lets change them.

What do you mean?

Jessie, you are too sweet a person to be called grumpy. I think you should stand up to those nasty statements.

How? Do I go back and tell her shes a freckled face, slimy green frog? Thats not me either. She paused. That would get security onto me, she added with a chuckle.

They both laughed at that.

I could tell her, and my head, that Im not grumpy.

How about: Dont call me grumpy. Im not grumpy.

OK. Dont call me grumpy!

They smiled at each other before finishing their meal.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – January 2020

FICTION NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in:
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

Police Embarrassment

‘This is the Police. Come out with your hands in the air!’

Three police cars parked strategically around the front of the gas station. The alarm had been activated and the police were called in. There had been a spate of break-ins and they had finally caught the culprit in the act. Firearms used in the previous two robberies made the police nervous. They guarded themselves behind their cars where the faint smell of body odour and heated engine oil mingled. Neighbours awakened by the early dawn invasion, gathered cautiously outside their homes to observe the commotion.

‘Do you hear me? This is Police Officer Brody. Come out with your hands up!’

The door opened slowly, revealing a small laced-up boot. The officers dropped down behind their vehicles, guns cocked.

‘Please dont shoot’, a quiet trembling voice responded.

The door opened a little further and an elderly woman hobbled out. She was stooped low and walked with a cane.

‘What the? Please step out into the open and put down yourcane.’

She dropped the cane and raised her hands as far as her skinny arms would allow.

Officer Brody stepped forward to access the situation. He motioned Police Officer Mandy Walters to carry out a search. Brody steadied the shaken old lady with his powerful hand under her elbow. Officer Walters placed the crooked walking stick back into an arthritic hand. She obviously didnt want to embarrass the startled petite woman any further by searching her.

With an indignant expression, the woman faced the officer in charge. ‘I think there has been a mistake. You see, I left my keys in the bathroom and when I went back in, I noticed I had grease on my clothes.’ She rubbed at the spot on her weathered skirt.

‘I tried to wash it, but I had to take it off because the skirt wouldnt reach the faucet. I locked myself in so no one would disturb me. Unfortunately, I think the nice man at the counter must have closed up for the night and didnt realize I was still there.’

‘Where is your car?’

‘Sir! I dont own a car. Thats my motorcycle.’ She lifted her cane and pointed with her bent fingers past the police cars and confused police officers. A Harley Davison that sheltered under an ancient oak tree glistened in the morning sunlight.

‘I find this all hard to believe. Tell me how you were in there all night without triggering the alarm?’

‘Well, you see. I sat on the toilet seat to adjust my tights and I slipped off into the corner. I was stuck and didnt have the energy to get up until this morning. When I left the bathroom, I was aware that I couldnt get out so I shook the door. That pesky alarm just kept screaming at me.’

Brody scratched his head, completely mesmerized while she shuffled towards the Harley across the road. She mounted the motorcycle with a little difficulty, but unwavering. She placed an opened-face helmet over her greying, outdated hairstyle.

Using her key, the engine started up with a roar. Poking the cane into a side pouch, she flipped the kickstand up and drove off in one smooth movement. Officer Brody glanced at a smug-faced Walters before replacing his gun into its holster.

‘What are you looking at? You can do the report when we get back.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

The Dragon and the Princess

Everyone except Thomas Creighton-Smiths granddaughter, Ada, knew Rosie was more than just a pig. Adas ideal retirement for Rosie was to explore the ancient land of dragons by day and visit the kitchen for under-the-table dinner scraps in the evenings before dreaming by the fireplace.

At breakfast one dank April Friday, Grandma had suggested they have roast pig for Sunday lunch complete with the traditional three vegetables and brown gravy made from the juices of the roasting meat. It was while Grandma chatted on about where she would insert the large rotisserie rod that Ada ran from the kitchen with Rosie close at her heels. ‘It will help tenderise the old sow’, Grandma was saying without acknowledging she had heard the back-door slam.

Thomas put down his morning paper. ‘I just wanted to take the pig to the abattoir to recoup some of our losses. After all, this is a working farm’. He muttered as he left the house in search of Ada.

His eyes scanned the landscape for a sign of the two gallant explorers. In spite of himself, old Thomas didnt envy the little girl. He had grown up in Beatrix Potter country and the fantasies she created. The stunning Lake District would have been more practical for Adas school holiday imagination. He shook his head. Maybe we should have stayed in Ambleside and taken up trout farming.

It was two days before St Georges national holiday and Thomas needed to take that fat old pig for a road trip but Grandma was fixed on having tough pork and bacon. He stood at the garden gate and looked around. Where are they? He squinted into the fog that settled over the bogs as he recalled his mothers favourite story that dated back to the 6th century. What was it again? Oh yes. St George rescued a young maiden by slaying a terrifying fire-breathing dragon. He slipped his hands into his warm pockets and headed for the main road.

So she wouldnt fall over, Ada held up her long flowing medieval princess costume as she marched down Old Kent Road. Rosie trudged slightly behind with cardboard toilet cylinders on her pointy ears and three black ribbons tied onto her limp tail.

They stopped near a red telephone box just beyond the intersection where the road-signs crisscrossed on a wooden post. ‘Oh Rosie, how could Grandma say such horrid things? I wont let them eat you.’ Ada stomped her foot splashing slops of mud over both of them.

She lifted the old play dress above her waist to search the pockets of her faded jeans beneath. With a silver coin in her hand she stepped into the telephone box. Finding the correct number from the list beside the chunky black phone, Ada dialled and waited. Rosie grunted, shuffled and squeezed in until she jammed herself tight between Adas knees.

‘Hello!’ Ada shouted into the mouthpiece. ‘Please help me. Theyre going to kill Rosie!’

 

Approaching the end of the lane where it met the road, Grandpa looked left then right. Their farm was located two miles due east of the abattoir between Dover and Holyhead. He sniffed the thick foul air. This neighbourhood is likened to the lowest-priced property on the English Monopoly board. A few moments later he decided Ada would have headed away from town so off he trudged.

Minutes later he heard an ear-piercing squeal followed by a shout from young Ada. He quickened his stride. The telephone box, a little way past the next farm on the opposite side of the road, seemed to be alive as it shook and groaned. Grandpa stopped in mid-step; his neck craned forward. There was someone, or something, in the telephone box. There were too many legs to count. He saw what looked like horns and a tail with blades. There was a lot of banging and bumping going on behind the grime and moss streaked glass.

‘Oh my, it looks like a dragon!’

Ada screamed again jolting Grandpa from his trance. Manoeuvring the door open to avoid swishing his granddaughter, he grabbed Rosie by the tail and dragged her squealing from the booth.

Later, after the local Bobbies had their explanation and had a good laugh, Grandpa and Ada sat down to rest at the nearby bus-stop.

‘Did you know Ada, only forty-five to fifty percent of animals at the abattoir can be turned into edible meat products, fifteen percent is waste, and the remaining forty to forty five percent is turned into by-products like bath soap, candles and glue? He paused. You know, glue suits her.’

‘But Grandpa’

‘Its OK. Id rather like rescuing my little princess from dragons. Come on, lets go home and break the news to Grandma.’ He winked at his granddaughter. ‘There will be no more talk of bacon and roast pork.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

PIRATES, HIDDEN TREASURE AND …

Fourteen-year-old Electra sat perched on the edge of her chair facing the small group that sat cross legged on her bed.

‘It happened a long time ago’, she began, ‘but it seems like yesterdayprobably because Ive told the story so often. The only reason why I tell the story is because its why my family is the way it is. You see, we are a family with roots. Oh, you think your families has roots too? Okay, let me explain what REAL ancestry means.’

Electra put the empty popcorn bowl on the floor before continuing.

‘In 1801, mygreat, great, great, great grandfather, built this house. He had been a pirate ever since he ran away to sea and became a captains cabin boy. The ship was called the Black Raven its captains name was..’

‘Electra! Will you please stop telling that tale.’

‘Aw刑ad. Why not? It sure beats the real story.’

‘Theres nothing wrong with our familys history, or your family home. And, dont forget the reason why you were named Electra.’

Sandy, one of the girls at the pyjama party, bounced off the bed. ‘Tell us, Mr Chapman. We really want to know about your house and your family.’

The other girls joined in the pleading.

Electra stood and took the freshly made popcorn from her father, pointed the bowl toward her chair where she had just been sitting, and motioned him to take over the narration.

‘Electra was right about the year. Thats when the house was built, but thats where the truth of her story finishes.’ He waited for Sandy and his daughter to join the other girls on the bed. Electra passed the popcorn round before he continued.

‘Basically, my father wanted to save this house from being bulldozed. The locals wanted it demolished for safety reasons. He pleaded his case and renovated it. Its been our family home since I was a boy. There are a few rooms that have never been restored but its stable.’

Sandy stared at nothing in particular. ‘You mean those rooms could be haunted?’

Electra burst out laughing. ‘You must be kidding.’

‘Please continue’, one of the girls requested, her eyes focusing on Electras father and ignoring his daughters outburst.

‘No, the house is not hauntednot that I know of. The rooms have just never been needed. Theres no great mystery, only the history gets a bit confusing. A few generations back the family lost most of their fortune and the house was left empty for years.’

Sandy looked puzzled. ‘Is that it? Electra, I think its a great story. Tell us Mr Chapman how did Electra get her name.’

‘Its not all that interesting,’ Electra commented casually, wriggled back against the bed board and stuffed popcorn into her mouth.

Her father paused and took a moment to continue. ‘Electras mother was beautiful. She had red hair’

‘That explains your hair,’ Sandy teased.

Electra pushed Sandy playfully off the bed, causing Sandy to squeal and the others to laugh.

‘She died in child birth’, he continued unperturbed. A hush filled the room before he continued. ‘I didnt know what I would do or how I would bring up our little girl on my own. I brought her back here to my family home where my parents helped until they passed away. Not only was Electra born with red hair but she looked like she had a shock that caused her hair to frizz. Her grandmother named her. Over time her hair lost its frizz but the name stuck. Her hair still reminds me of her mother.’

He stood and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

The girls remained speechless. Electra climbed off the bed and placed the popcorn on her desk before anyone spoke.

Sandy followed Electra and stood behind her, hesitating before speaking. ‘Youve never told me the real story. Why wouldn’t anyone like the true story about your family and this house?’

Electra turned; her eyes glistened with tears. ‘I wish I knew my mother but I do know a lot about her. Dad and my grandparents made sure I knew everything about her. Every birthday I tell my pirate story so I dont get sad. I guess I didnt realize, until today, just how sad my dad gets.’

The girls gathered around their friend for a group hug. ‘Your family sounds wonderful,’ Sandy exclaimed. ‘Your family home is beautiful. Why dont we ask your dad to show us around?’

Electra smiled and wiped her eyes. ‘Thats sounds like a great idea. Maybe well find some pirate ghosts or some lost treasure’, she added with a giggle. She took Sandy by the hand and led the girls from her room in search of an adventure.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Younger Teens

One Hundred Twenty-Two Steps to the Floor of the Rain-Forest

One of the short stories I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t edited any of them but I thought I might share some of my old writing. I’m finally learning how to use WordPress blocks so this is also a practice post.

One Hundred Twenty-Two Steps to the Floor of the Rain-Forest: the sign read at the beginning of the narrow track.

Joe looked at his cell phone. Are you sure about this? Theres no reception up here, so I doubt if there is any at the bottom.

Ill be fine. We can stop and rest as many times as I need. We have all day. Look! Theres a rope handrail. Honest, Ill be fine.

OK, he sighed. Ill go first. If you fall, Ill save you.

My hero. I laughed and tightened the laces on my walking shoes and adjusted my leg brace.

The descent was steeper than I thought and the steps carved into the dry crusted earth, twisting over exposed tree roots and around broad tree trunks and small boulders. Using the rope to steady myself, I made my way down the sloping path. My encouraging husband restrained his usual pace and stayed close.

Deeper into the bush it was shady and cool. The steps dropped away at sharp angles and I noticed the overhead canopy had thickened. An old stump that had split lengthwise made an ideal resting place near vine entangled trees. The silence was intriguing.

Can you hear that? I whispered.

Hear what? Its so quite here.

“Exactly!”

We continued silently, stopping once to let me catch my breath beside a trickle of a waterfall. Stepping onto the forest floor, we came upon a sign that gave information regarding a bushman who once lived in the area. I wiped the sign to read the remainder of the text.

Wow! Imagine living here. Its so peaceful.

Dont touch the leaves of the red nettle treethey sting, Joe warned, reading a small rusted sign by a mysterious tree with an enormous red trunk.

My curiosity about the bushman increased when I observed a wooden structure beyond the red nettle tree. The fireplace and chimney were entwined with thick vines. Three walls remained standing, although I wondered if there was an original fourth wallor a door. Located near another path, the huts open section faced a dried-up waterfall and stream. A memorial plaque erected above a crude water tub detailed the life and death of this bushman of the wilderness.

Joe wandered around the immediate area, taking snapshots. Wait here. Ill see where the other path goes.

OK, I replied, studying the hut in more detail. Sitting on one of the two tree stump seats, I leaned back against the simple wooden table and closed my eyes. The sweet bird calls resounded through the bush as I breathed in the clean, crisp air. I wonder what it was like to live here.

The sound of whistling and running water interrupted my thoughts. On the path where Joe had left minutes before, a young bushman entered the small clearing. He ceased whistling, removed his weather-beaten hat with a row of corks hanging from the brim, and stood staring at me. Gday Maam. Um, whered you come from?

Without taking my eyes off the bushman, I pointed to the other path. Where did you come from? I finally managed.

Maam, this is my home. I was going to make a billy of tea. Would you care to join me?

Yes, thank you. Sorry, I didnt think anyone lived here anymore, Mr … er …

John Wilson, Maam. He dipped his head before replacing his hat.

He filled an old billycan with water from the waterfall, which had suddenly begun to flow freely. Weird. I watched in a dazed silence as he placed the billycan on an open fire.

How long have you lived here, John?

Oh, since early 1890, I suppose; I came down here looking for me horse and fell in love with the place. I never did find me horse. I go back into Vacy every three months or so to get some supplies.

John placed tin cups on the table and poured in the hot tea. We talked about the town of Vacy and his home under the canopy. The afternoon air seemed to tug at my eyelids. Crossing my arms on the table, I listened with interest to his friendly talk.

Hey, wake up sleepy head. We have to start the climb back if we want to get back before dinner. Joes voice drifted down the path. I got some good photos for your journal about John Wilson. He paused. Are you OK? You look like youve seen a ghost.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Authors note: This story is mixture of non-fiction and fiction but the Australian history details are fact. Vacy is a locality of the Dungog Shire local government area in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia

Wounded Hearts

Another short story I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t edited any of them but I thought I might share some of my old writing.

WOUNDED HEARTS

Carrie, you have wounded my heart. Why do you keep saying hurtful things? 

Carrie rolled her eyes. Oh please, youre so melodramatic, Sandy. Get over it.

Youre always insulting me in front of my friends. Why?

Why, why? Always, why? Sis, you just dont get it. Read my lips. You安ill好ev宅er吁ING. Stop embarrassing yourself and I wouldnt have to come to your rescue.

Rescue?

Growing up in a family of five girls, Sandy always felt stuck in the middle. It wasnt easy. She was the plain sister. Her hair was plain. Her face was plain. Her nose was plain. Sandy looked in the mirror. My whole me is plain. But匈 can sing, she protested at the image. “I know Im not perfect but from the moment I wake each morning, I wanted to sing.

Sandys sisters constantly teased her about her singing. Carrie was the worst. She was a year older than Sandy and seemed to find joy in wounding her sister with her words. Carrie couldnt sing. Actually, she hated singing. She would scream at any of her siblings for playing a record or if they hummed as they worked or played.

Just after Carries seventeenth birthday, there was a huge argument between the five girls over the record-player disappearing. Carrie finally admitted shed thrown it out. She stormed from the family home and moved up state with her boyfriend. Sandy never saw Carrie again. Marsha was the only one who kept in contact with Carrie在esides their mother. The teasing continued from the others but not as often or as cruel. 

After high school, Sandy worked as a secretary for a pastor in a big church. One day, he heard her singing along to their churchs latest CD. She was busy typing the monthly newsletter and didnt see him enter the church office. Usually the place was empty on Fridays so Sandy could sing to her hearts content安here no-one would make fun of her. Pastor Lloyd was just standing there, leaning on the door-frame. It gave Sandy the fright of her life. Her face burned with embarrassment.

Sandy and the Pastor had a long talk that day about her voice and experience她r rather, lack of. Within a few weeks, Sandy was singing back-up on Sundays and shortly after, the music director allowed Sandy to sing her first solo.

That was nine years ago. Sandy finally got over the hurt she grew up with她r so she thought.

Sandy and her husband, Geoff, had not long arrived home from church, when Geoff went to the study to put his Bible away. Sandy was preparing lunch when the telephone rang. with her hands in water, Sandy let Geoff take the call and kept working. 

Honey, its your sister列arrie. 

Gingerly Sandy accepted the phone. Carries taunts echoed in her head宇hey still hurt.

Sandy squeezed her eyes shut and tried to focus. Hello.

Sobs and hic-cups muffled the words. Sandy多ic Marsha gave me your多ic number. Whats your address? I need to see you.

Sandy’s eyes sprang open. Carrie, where are you? Whats wrong?

“Stans left me圩or another woman多ic地gain. But多ic thats not why I called多ic. Please, Sandy.

Sandy gave Carrie their address and hung up. Geoff knew of Sandy’s years of her sisters’ relentless insults. There was nothing Geoff and Sandy didnt share. She admitted mixed emotions about seeing Carrie and Geoff prayed for wisdom and peace. Sandy was so afraid she would be wounded again.

Carries arrived shortly before two oclock the following afternoon. She talked non-stop and seemed genuinely happy to see Sandy and Geoff. Her frail figure worried Sandy though. 

Carrie, are you okay? You said yesterday that Stan had left you,” she paused. “Youre also looking守nwell.

Carrie burst into tears. Geoff left the women alone. Sandy wasnt sure if it was Carrie’s bawling which made him feel awkward; as it did her, or if he thought it was best for the sisters to sort it out themselves. They were still talking when Geoff returned a few hours later.

Geoff, Sandy said quietly. Please sit for a moment.

Carrie filled him in on some general pieces of conversation before Sandy continued. Geoff, Carries kidneys are failing,” she said her voice quiet. “Without a donor, she could die. Marsha, Eleanor and Sophie, arent compatible and shes asked me to be tested. We do have the same blood-type. What should we do?

Geoff took his wife’s hand. What do you think you should do, Sandy? Its your call.

Sandy searched his eyes, trying to see his thoughts, and then turned to see Carries tear-stained face. Sandy took a deep breath and looked into her sister’s pleading eyes. She felt her anguish. I think its time for wounded hearts to heal.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Faith’s Adventures

From the Archives:  Faith’s Adventure – All 8 Stories

Faith to the Rescue
Faith Loses a Friend
Faith Goes on a Holiday
Faith’s Christmas Surprise
Faiths Close Encounter
Faiths Discovery
Faith Becomes a Mother
Faith – Thats my Blue Eye
1924250_36118412313_7426_n-imp

Partly true, partly fictional. 8 very short stories about Ken and his dog faith. Suitable for all ages. Please note: story “Faith Loses a Friend” may need parental guidance for younger children.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Wisdom in the Midst of Valentines Day Cards, Mush and Romantic Songs

Another short story I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t edited any of them but I thought I might share some of my old writing.

Wisdom in the Midst of Valentines Day Cards, Mush and Romantic Songs

Anthony and Gladys were quite a couple who loved each other dearly. After my own parents died, my husbands parents became more than just family, we were friends. Michael and I valued their wisdom and their guidance, especially on marriage. Gladys passed away a few years ago and Anthony died shortly after. I loved them both, and the memories of Gladys in particular, still make me smile.

I remember one special occasion like it happened yesterday. It began when Gladys and I went shopping for Valentines Day. I found what I wanted fairly quickly but nothing was good enough for her Anthony. We read cards for hours but she wanted that perfect card. She wanted a Valentines Card with the perfect words.

Youre the only love in my life,

Youre the only one I love

When was the last time I said I love you?

When was the last time I said I care?

It may have been last Valentines Day

But I could never be untrue?

If I tell you that I love you,

If I tell you Ill be true,

If I tell you youre my sunshine

Will you be my Valentine?

Even when words are unsaid,

Youre forever in my heart

Youre forever in my head,

We can never part.

I give you my heart,

I give you my all

Just never let me go,

Let me be your Valentine.

Oh, please. What a lot of mush, Gladys concluded in desperation.

It was the fifth store we had visited and we had read dozens of silly poems, listened to romantic lyrics and trudged through mazes of red hearts and balloons. I had had enough. Gladys had given up. She replaced the last Valentine card back in the rack and we leftempty handed.

I tell Anthony all the time that I love him. He tells me all the time. Well no… thats not quite true.

We laughed together and left arm-in-arm to the exit and out to the car.

Glad and I were sipping tea on her patio a few days after Valentines Day. Her eyes sparkled as she shared some moments from their Valentines dinner. Gladys always had a way of weaving teaching and wisdom together with life experiences to tell a story地s well as making it fun. This is what she shared:

The aroma of roasting beef filled Anthonys senses the moment he entered the house just after six oclock圯xactly how I had planned it. Our favourite romantic songs played quietly in the background, and two simple taper candles flickered in the gentle breeze from the fan rotating above an elegantly set table for two.

Something smells good, Anthony said. It was his usual greeting, followed by a peck on the cheek. Looks good too. Anthony opened the oven door to take a long sniff.

I had even made a lemon-meringue pie for dessert, and told him so as he continued toward the bathroom to shower and change.

My diamond ring still holds its sparkle, and for the evening, I had let my hair fall over my bare shoulders. Theyre more like old prunes these days, but he never seems to mind.

Gladys and I laughed at that.

Gladys continued. The softness of the satin evening dress Anthony had bought me for Christmas, matched my mood of the evening.

Anthonys after-shower look made me smile. Always has. He looked relaxed after his long day and the scent of his favourite cologne drifted across the table and a wet strand of hair stuck to his forehead. He wore a shirt to match his hazel eyes, which twinkled in the candlelight.

I smiled at her words. They were still in love, and it showed.

The music changed as if on cue. Remember this song? Anthony had whispered, like he was trying to avoid drowning out the words.

Yes, I smiled. It was the song on the car radio the night you asked me to marry you.

Anthony looked into my eyes and said, I love you more now than I can say. His boyish grin still captivates my heart.

Gladys admitted her throat constricted many times that evening.

I thought about those mushy greeting cards a lot. All I could get out was that I loved him too. Anthony admitted he hadnt bought a Valentines card either. They were all so色

Mushy. We finished the sentence together.


After 40 years of marriage, they didnt need a card to say how much they loved each other.

No, I guess were mushy enough, Anthony had declared. He had stood and took me by my hand and led me outside where, in the light of the silvery moon, we old mushies danced the night away.

I miss Glad, and I miss her guidance she gave as the older woman. Yes, Gladys was my mother-in-law but most of all, she was my friend. Our shopping trips were always special. Her wonderful stories will stay with me forever. Perhaps one day, Ill have a daughter-in-law of my own to whom I can pass on Gladyss stories and share similar ones of my own.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Stellas Plight Chapter Three

Chapter Three

It didnt take long for the coroners report to come through. Ryan died from a burst aneurysm in the brain. His funeral was held a week later and he was buried beside his Uncle Rick. The uncle who left him the property. Stella added for Teresas benefit. The next day I was called to our solicitors office for the reading of Ryans latest Will. It was straightforward enough. The property and house were to be left to me. Everything except for the few head of cattle he had been breeding. Apparently, they were on loan from Uncle David so Ryan could breed and start his own herd. Unfortunately, there had been only four calves born at the time of his death. Once they were old enough to be separated from their mothers the loaned cattle had to be returned.

Why wouldnt this uncle David leave them a little longer so you could have an income?

Stella was about to answer when she noticed a man through the window of the doors leading to the next carriage. He was leaning slightly forward speaking to one passenger after another.

I think Sarah needs her nappy changed. Stella stood to retrieve the bag she had put in the overhead storage earlier.

At the same moment the guard came through the rear door. Theres a small table in the guardroom if you would like to use it and a microwave. I wont be using the cabin for a while.

Thank you, she smiled and let him pass before reaching for the baby.

She had only just closed the door of the guard cabin when the man entered her carriage from the other end. She stepped aside and peered through the stripped security screen that allowed the guard to see out but no one could see much if they looked in. Muffled voices kept her alert. Sarah stirred. Stella rocked her gently. Ssshhh奸ittle one.

Stella risked a glanced through the window. She drew in a sharp breath. David?

Finally, David moved out of the carriage and Stella could see him move from the next carriage through the door at the other end.

Lets get you cleaned up, Stella cooed at Sarah her big blue eyes gazing back.

Minutes later she returned to her seat. I should have bought a baby carrier before I left Sydney.

Theresa stretched out her arms. That would only make things more difficult for you.

Once settled back into her seat, Stella looked up to see Teresa looking straight at her.

What was that about? Teresa asked directly.

What was what about? Stella replied before looking away. Sorry. That man was Ryans Uncle David. She turned in her seat slightly to face Teresa. I was about to tell you what happened after David came for the cows.

Stella kept her voice low even though there were only two other passengers at the front of the carriage since the train stopped to embark and disembark passengers at Katoomba. The bull Ryan bought was lame after stepping into a hole in his enclosure. I had only been filling the food and water troughs through the fence since Ryan died. I was no way going to go in there, pregnant or not. I was about seven months along by then and Ryans only income was from the land he leased out to another property owner. David said he would pay to have the bull treated by a vet and then buy it from me at a fair price that included the vet fees. That was fine until the bull up and died. David demand his money back after I had already spent it on feed for the calves.

That doesnt seem fair, Teresa interrupted.

Well, I dont know much about whats fair but Kath, Davids wife, was upset over his treatment of me. She had come to stay with me after Ryans death until after the funeral. Shes a real sweetie. Anyway, from what I heard over the radio gossip line and in town that David beat her and she up and left him. I didnt see her again until I came to Sydney a month ago. I was having problems with fluid around my ankles and Doc Stone insisted I go to Sydney until after the birth. Friends from another property offered to look after the place until I returned.

Stella was tired. She hadnt slept properly since Sarah was born and the gently movement of the train made her sleepy. She almost dozed off when Teresa spoke.

How did you find Kath, or did she find you?

Stella squeezed her eyes closed before blinking repeatedly. Kath found me. Her voice cracked. Doc Stone told her where I was. She asked him not to tell anyone else, not even David, because she thought I was in danger. I guess he believed her because of what happened to her. She turned to Teresa; tears streaming down her cheeks. He broke her arm and her nose for standing up to him – for me.

Teresa sat quietly and looked out the window for a few minutes. Her heart broke for Stel and her baby. She lifted Sarah and kissed her forehead then turned to Stella. That man just now, your Ryans uncle, he asked if I had seen a woman with a baby. Im sorry色 Her voice drifted off.

Stella sat up straight and looked down the carriage through the door. What did you say? I dont understand. Why didnt he stay or go into the guards cabin?

Teresa turned back to Stella and gazed into her eyes. I knew something wasnt right. I answered him in German, my second language. I knew it would come in handy one day. She winked. I didnt lie. I couldnt lie. I wont, but he had no idea what I said and he just left.

Stella stared at this beautiful woman that had befriended her. She didnt know whether she should laugh or cry. After a few moments, she smiled. Thank you.

So, tell me what happened in Sydney.

After a long sigh Stella continued.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Stellas Plight Chapter Two

Chapter Two

Stella began her story from the day her life changed forever. She had awoken early New Years Day with a dry mouth and covered in sweat. Nothing unusual for this part of the world but what was different was that Ryan wasnt in bed and there was no evidence that he had. A wonderful husband of three years and a baby on the way, Stellas only longing was for a relief from the heatwave and yet another drought.

Peeling back the damp top sheet Stella sat up on the side of the bed; her head groggy from a restless night.

Making her way down stairs she headed to the refrigerator for the jug of water she had place there the evening before. She peered out the kitchen window and noticed the door of the tractor shed was open. Thats strange. It wasnt open before I went to bed. Maybe Ryans tinkering with the engine, she spoke into the empty room.

Stella looked around the kitchen for a sign that Ryan had eaten breakfast early. Nothing. Heading to the back door she pushed opened the fly screen door. Ryan often left the back door open to allow any breeze that might stir in the sweltering night air.

It wasnt until she reached the tractor shed that she realised how quiet it was. Ryan, where are you?

Flo, Ryans Blue Cattle Dog began to bark. Stella turned to see that Flo was still in her fenced off area near the house. Since a recent pack of wild dogs had been seen roaming the surrounding properties at night, Ryan had made sure Flo didnt wander and so the dogs couldnt ambush her. No way would he leave Flo in there if he were here.

A sudden chill rushed through her. She stood in the wide doorway. Ryan! There was no reply except for Flos constant bark. She approached the tractor and looked around. Where are you? It was then she noticed a dull glow of light coming from the small doorless room at the rear of the shed where Ryan used as an office of sorts and to clean small tractor parts.

Stella felt like she was walking in a dream only for the constant barking from Flo. There sitting on a stool slumped over a newspaper that lay open on the wooden bench was Ryan. A moment of relief that Ryan must have dozed off while working past through her. The lantern was struggling to keep alight. With no power to the shed, Ryan had kept an old kerosene lamp ready in case of an emergency.

Placing her hand gently on his shoulder she jerked it back. It was cold, an impossibility in this heat. She moved to where she could see one side of his face. His left eye looked back at her. Ryan! She gently shook his shoulder but he remained silent and cold.

Stella heart pounded as she ran back to the house. Letting the screen door slam behind her she rushed straight to the radio in the front room. She forced herself to concentrate on the user instructions. Even though Stella used the radio on occasions, it was Ryan who usually operated it.

Almost immediately the operator came over the line. Youre on air early, Ryan. How can I assist you? Over.

Maggie its Stella, she sobbed in relief. Over, she finally remembered and released the button.

What is it, Stel? You sound panicked. Over.

Its Ryan. I think hes dead, she blurted out and released the button without the over.

Calm down, Stel. Doc Stone is over at Davids place visiting Ryans grandmother. Ill contact him there. Stay calm. Over.

Stella gulped down air. Ill try. Tell him to hurry, please. She sat staring at the radio and took long deep breaths until she heard Maggies voice again.

Stel, Dr Stone will be there in about twenty minutes. David is driving him over in his off-road utility. Over.

Thanks Maggie. Over.

Ill call you later, Maggie signed off.

Flos yapping was beginning to annoy her so she went back out to the shed and closed the door but not before looking in the direction of back room where she could barely see Ryan through her tears. Then she let Flo loose, giving her a long hard hug.

Oh Flo安hat will we do without him?

It took less than twenty minutes for Doc Stone to arrive but to Stella if felt like hours. She had managed to change into a cotton house dress that had seen better days but she didnt seem to notice.

David, who was also Ryans Uncle, raced ahead of the doctor. Where is he? What happened?

He was full of questions but Stella could only point. She was shaking and her eyes hurt from rubbing away the constant tears.

Hes in the tractor shed, she finally blurted.

David put his arm around her shoulder and tried to soothe her. Im sure hes fine. Lets go with Doc and see what he says.

By the time David and Stella had reach the shed, Doc Stone had already squeezed through the door so Flo wouldnt follow.

David, I cant go back in there.

OK, stay here and hold Flo. Ill see what Doc has to say.

Moments later David and the doctor returned to where Stella waited. They both looked sad and pale.

I think hes been here since possibly late last night. What time did you find him, Stel? The doctor asked gently.

It was just after five this morning. I woke on Ryans alarm and headed to the kitchen for a drink. I guess it was only five minutes later when I noticed the shed door was open. She finished in a sob. What happened to him, Doc? she pleaded.

The doctor gently turned Stella back toward the kitchen. Youre in shock.

Shes shivering, David added running ahead to open the door before heading into the front room for a throw rug.

After the doctor gave Stella a mild sedative, he sat beside her at the kitchen table while David brought glasses of cold water.

Stel, Doc began quietly. ‘From what I can ascertain without an autopsy,’ he coughed apologetically. It appears to be a natural death.

But hes only thirty-four, Stella gasped.

We have to wait on the coroners report. He sipped from the glass that David had placed in front of him. I need to use your radio.

David pointed to the front room and the two watched the doctor leave the kitchen. Stel, Ill get Kath to come over. She can stay as long as you need.

Oh David, she has too much to do to bother with me.

You forget I make enough money to pay for a housekeeper to help my wife. He sighed heavily. Look, I know I havent been close to Ryan since. since my brother left the property to him instead of leaving it in my fathers family. To me匈m mean, Im sorry.

Stella looked up as if she didnt hear him correctly.

Only hearing bits of what Doctor Stone was saying in the other room, she waited. Her shaking had eased but she couldnt stop the tears.

Another few minutes passed before Doc came back into the kitchen. The authorities will be here as soon as they can. Theyll question you. Its routine but Ill stay until they take Ryan away.

David rose from his chair and gulped down the rest of his water. Ill head back and send Kath over in the Jeep. You can use the Jeep Doc until I can get to town to collect it. I need to get those antibiotics you prescribed for mother anyway.

The doctor nodded and sipped at his water.

The train lurched as it rounded a curve in the rails. Stella sighed. I can remember that morning like it was yesterday, she said looking over at her baby asleep in the arms of Teresa. Teresa had become a comforting traveling companion. You know, I didnt even ask how Davids mother was. She died a few months later from complications after a long illness色 Her voice trailed off.

Im so sorry to hear that you went through that. So, the little one is fatherless?

Stella nodded sadly. Thats only half of it, she whispered before continuing her story.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Stella’s Plight Chapter One

Chapter One

Stellas thick black hair momentarily obscured the unpaved footpath. Another April gusty breeze sent the fringe in the other direction but not in time to avoid the muddy puddle. Conscious now of a stain that would ruin her best pantsuit she avoided looking down. She wouldnt have been able to see much past the bundle in one arm and the heavy khaki carry bag over the other anyway. Can my day get any worse? she mumbled.

Oblivious of the people bustling around her, Stella again focused on one thing宇o get onto thattrain; her only escape.

Entering a short, almost empty tunnel the clicking of her heels on the concrete floor motivated her to walk faster. She dared a quick glance over her shoulder. Feeling only slightly easier, she turned a sharp right onto a crowded platform. Side stepping suitcases and groups of passengers that chatted and laughed, she kept going until she found an empty bench seat at the far end of the platform where she would be able to embark closest to the guards carriage.

The bundle stirred as Stella sat and eased the heavy bag from her sore shoulder. Not long now, little one. She reached into the bag for a pacifier. Sucking was instant. Stellas attention returned to her surroundings.

In a few short minutes, everyone had hushed and turned to face the approaching train. Returning the bag to her shoulder she stood carefully so not to lose grip of her precious bundle. Once the train had stopped completely, she stepped forward to board the carriage. Someone touched her elbow. Panic filled her until she realised that it was a short, pump woman dressed in very plain old fashion clothing. Around her neck hung a chunky cross on a simple chain.

Let me help with that. The woman took the bag without waiting for an answer.

Thank you, Stella answered as calmly as she could before she stepped across the gap and followed the woman to a seat at the rear of the carriage. Thank you, she said again before sitting beside her.

Stella moved the baby to the other arm to relieve the ache that had reached the point of stiffness and also to let the kind woman see her baby. Thank you, she said, knowing she had repeated herself again.

The warm smile made Stella feel more relaxed than she had been since the day before but still kept alert of what was happening around them.

Im Sister Anna Teresa, but you can call me Teresa. Its actually what my father called me.

Its good to meet you Teresa. Im Stella or Stel for short, she added with a smile.

Such a sweet baby. The words were tender.

Would you like to hold her, Stella asked.

Oh, could I? Teresa handed Stella the bag and reached over to accept the baby. Shes so tiny. Must be a newborn.

Stella searched the bag for the items she needed to prepare a bottle. Yes吁arah is a week-old today.

A whistle blew and the train began to move.

Teresa watched as Stella mixed the powder. Such a shame色 she said. I mean色

Thats all right. Im fine about not being able to feed her myself, was Stellas simple reply. Would you like to give her the bottle?

Teresas huge grin was all Stella needed to hand over the little bottle and remove the pacifier. She watched as Sarah sucked furiously bringing laughs from both women.

Looking up, Stella saw the guard making his way through the carriage. She closed her eyes and sighed heavily.

Do you have to travel far? Teresa asked carefully.

As far as the train goes, Stella answered without thinking. I mean匈m heading back to Bourke.

Such a long trip on your own with one so little. Her eyes now fixed on Stellas.

In that awkward moment she leaned forward and looked down at the blotchy brown marks at the hem of her slacks. She cringed slightly and studied the other passengers in their carriage. Some were involved in conversations, reading or preparing for a snooze. Stella took a deep breath and released it slowly before making an effort to respond. I am alone, she whispered. Its a long story.

We have plenty of time and Im a good listener夷f you want to share.

With a sense of relief, Stella slowly began her story.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Faith and Blue Eye!

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impWOW this little guy has one blue eye, Ken exclaimed.

Luke took the pup from Ken. ‘”Heterochromia Iridis.” Its rare. It occurs as a result of too much or too little melanin in one eye.Can happen in humans too. He studied the pup further before reviewing the eyes again; a torch in hand.

‘So what does that mean?

‘Well, nothing we can hope. Its certainly striking. You may have problems selling him but I wouldnt worry about that just now.

Ken reach for the pup. ‘What do you think, Faith? Shall we call this little one Blue Eye?

Faith licked her pup.

Thanks for coming around, Luke. Much appreciated.

I see you built two new kennel yards. Great size.

Ken led the vet through the rear door. Yes, it seems to be working well. I bring Faith out onto the verandah with two or three pups at a time before bringing Shield out. Hes certainly clumsy. He almost squashed one on of them trying to play with it.

As if on cue, Shield barked and jumped at the fence.

Its sounds like a plan. Faiths area is large enough for the next few months if you dont sell them all by then but let Faith and Shield out together for an hour or two every day. Just watch his behaviour though. He looked beyond the enclosed area to the rest of the small acreage and chuckled. A good place to wear them out as they grow, and believe me, theyll grow.

The two laughed and shook hands.

Call the clinic when their ready for their vaccinations. If its easier, bring Faith in at a different time. Luke left by the side gate.

Ken released the catch on the Shields cage. Hey, Boof! How about a sprint around the acreage? He started the three-wheeled farm buggy and sped off.

Shield leapt out of the enclosure and chased after Ken while Faith and the pups looked on.

On a sunny day five weeks later while the pups were exploring the back yard beyond their enclosure, Ken released Shield for the first time with his whole family.

Ken mounted the buggy and turned the key. The buggy rumbled to life. Lets go! Shield, Faith.

Faith turned to her pups and barked a couple of times before chasing after Shield who had already bolted after the buggy.

It wasnt until Ken sped past the litter on his first lap that the three bigger pups joined the chase. On the second and third laps all but one pup had joined the game.

Faith slowed and plodded over to the little one that just sat staring out at the paddock. Aw圭ome on little Blue Eye. She nudged the little one but he remained staring. She woofed gently before she turned and ran to follow the last of the slower pups.

Blue Eye leaned forward. His eyes focused only on the buggy.

Again Ken sped past. COME ON BLUE EYE! YOURE MISSING ALL THE FUN!By the time Ken had passed Blue Eye the pups were spread around the full lap of the paddock.

Still Blue Eye sat and focused on Ken and his buggy. ThenOne, two, RUN!With an awkward leap forward, Blue Eye raced directly out across the worn track almost colliding with his youngest sister. With eyes focused straight ahead he ran faster than he thought his little paws could carry him. He crossed the centre of the paddock just as Ken made the bend to take the back straight.

Blue Eye yapped and slid sideways into the dust cloud that had formed behind the buggy. He was now leading the pack ahead of his father. Yap Yap Yap

Ken glanced behind. Howd you do that? 76007BD7-imp

Ken steered into the final bend toward the start place with Blue Eye yapping close behind. He glanced over his shoulder as he approached the turn to begin a new lap. Blue Eye had slowed and returning to the same spot to sit and stare as he had before.

Ken watched Blue Eye in amazement. You must be kidding me, he said out loud to himself when Blue Eye again dived out to cross the paddock. Hes figured this out. He laughed. Go Blue Eye!

Again Blue Eye skidded in behind the buggy and yapped loudly. This time however, the others were slowing, including his father. Ken slowed to let Blue Eye pass but to his surprise the pup came up beside him and slowed to match the speed of the buggy.

The two continued side by side until Ken stopped and turned the engine off. Well Ill be安e have one smart pup here, Faith.

The proud mother didnt need to be told. She was all ready smothering him with licks. Shield however was not so pleased and bared is fangs.

Shield! Thats enough!

At Kens pointed finger, Shield returned to his enclosure.

Well, Faith, Ken said. I think we had better get these pups cleaned and fed.

While Blue Eye enjoyed a few moments praise from his mother, the rest of the pups headed to the back porch. Ken approached Shield where he had waited at the entry of his enclosure. Ah Shield. Dont be jealous. You should be proud of Blue Eye…all of them. You have a great family. Try to get on and dont be so rough. He patted Shield before filling his food and water bowls. Leaving the gate ajar, Ken headed over to feed the rest of the family.

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穢 Chrissy Siggee 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Faiths Discovery

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impAsh threatened to gag her with each breath she took but Faith continued to sniff the charred ground around her. The smell of burnt flesh occasionally assaulted her nostrils and smouldering debris quickened her steps. Small puffs of smoke drifted upward here and there. It was a dismal aftermath.

Mind your paws, Faith, Kens voiced in a raspy whisper. He cleared his throat before continuing. I dont think theres anything out here but death, he added and knelt on one knee beside the burnt carcass of a small wallaby.

Faith nuzzled Kens elbow. He lifted his arm and drew her near. Theres always life after a fire. We just have to keep looking. With her head held low she continued her search.

Kens radio crackled to life. Hey you guys. Did you find anything?

Not yet, Chief. Mandy and Steve are searching along the creek then up to Wattle Road. Faith and I are moving in the same direct along the top of the ridge. Hopefully, we can cover more ground this way without walking right past any life. The air is still thick in places. Oh, and theres been a few spot fires we had to extinguish too. Ill check in when we meet up with the other two.

OK, Ken. I know its not the best job but someone has to do it. Later.

Come on, Faith. Lets get moving.

Faith thought about the conversation Ken had with his fire fighter friend Joe earlier today. Poor Joe. He found that old man in that burnt-out shed this morning. Not much left of him. Faith shuddered. Counselling, Chief had told him. I think I would need it too. A high-pitched whistle broke into her dismal thoughts.

Looking around, Ken whistled back. Faiths ears pricked up and shifted back and forth. The whistle came again and they both turned toward the sound in a hurried walk.

Whats up, Ken shouted as they approached two figures slumped over a mound on the ash covered ground.

Looks like a backpack but theres no one around here, Steve said. At least not in the ten-metre circle weve searched.

It could have been here for months, Mandy added poking at the pack with her fire fighters axe. We can take it back for further investigation.

The guys nodded in agreement and continue toward the road that was just within their hazy vision. Faith led the way with her head close to the ground. No one spoke until they stopped in the middle of the deserted street. They all walked slowly in a small circle just staring. Three burnt-out cars smouldered on the side of the road. They appeared to have been heading north out of harms way. Ken approached the closest vehicle and peered inside before moving to the other two. Faith stayed by his side.

Well, at least the occupants seemed to have escaped, Ken said to no one in particular. He removed his hat and wiped his sweating brow with the sleeve of his filthy jacket.

This has been a day of deaths and sadness, Steve said quietly. Down right depressing it is.

Steve and Mandy dowsed what flames they could. Dark puffs of dark clouds formed and died above the cars.

Faith began to walk in circles sniffing the ground.

Ken crouched on the warped bitumen. What is it, Girl?

She barked and headed up the road with Mandy, Steve and Ken following close behind.

Most of the houses on both sides of the road were burnt out; some still burning.

Anyone here? Ken shouted.

Hello, Mandy and Steve called in unison.

Faith barked.

Silence. Except for the crackling of nearby flames and the shifting of rubble, it was eerily quiet.

Well split up. Faith and I will check out these two houses. Mandy, Steve, take those two, Ken pointed across the road opposite the burnt-out cars. Dont go in unless you see someone在ut call for us first. He removed Faiths lead. Ill call for you if we find anything.

Steve nodded. All right. Be careful, Ken.

Faith looked up from the steps she had been sniffing to see Ken jog through the charred remains of the front gate. Nothing here.or is there? With ears twitching back and forth she listened.

Hear anything. He stood beside her and waited.

She wagged her tail and proceeded to circle the entire house before returning to Ken and looked up. Nothing. Lets go. She bolted through the side fence while Ken took the long way around.

The second house revealed nothing as well. They returned to find Mandy and Steve putting out spot fires near an outdoor BBQ and gas bottle. Nothing? Ken asked.

Nope, Steve sighed.

Faiths ears snapped to attention. There it is again. Something

Faith?

She looked over her shoulder at Ken and woofed.

The three followed her around to the rear of the house to what appeared to be a workshop or garden shed. As they neared the opened door they heard a faint cry. Faith was nudging a shelf that had collapsed.

Lets see what we have here, Ken said quietly. Faith moved out of his way and sat beside Mandy who patted her gently.

Oh my. How did you get stuck in there? Steve, give me your rake.

Steve obliged and placed his firemans rescue rake into Kens hand.

A few minutes later Ken stood up with something in his hand.

A flower pot? Mandy gasped.

Ken turned the pot around to reveal a little bundle of fur. A kitten, to be exact.

Faith whimpered and Ken placed the kitten, still in the pot, under Faiths nose.

She gently licked the ball of fluff. Hi cutie. Im sure glad Shield is spending the day in training. Hed eat you alive.

Smart dog, Steve finally reacted and moved outside with the others close behind.

The three fire fighters laughed. Faith barked. The Kitten meowed. Their depressing mood had suddenly been lifted. Mandy took out her water bottle and removed her glove. The kitten lapped from her opened hand.

Just above the commotion the chiefs voice was heard. Hey, whats happening out there? We havent heard anything for some time. Whats happening, Ken?

Ken handed the kitten over to a jubilant Mandy. Were fine Chief, he yelled. You wont believe this.

The cheering rose and Faith jumped up and down barking excitedly.

Ken?

Everythings OK, Chief. We found a kitten. Hes alive! Again, cheers went up.

The chief responded with a chuckle. Im glad for you guys. Its been a depressing day. Oh, and another search and rescue team found a backpacker. Hes all right. He was dazed and wondering around. Says he lost his backpack in the fire somewhere by the river. He paused. Return to headquarters. I think you all need a break.

See you soon, Chief. Were bringing in the kitten. Mandy’s already named it. He laughed. Lucky, I think. We also have the backpack. Hope that makes the owners day.Over and out.

Faith bounded over to Ken at his call. Lets go home.

穢 Chrissy Siggee 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

Faith Loses a Friend

Parents please note: Because this is a story about drug detection this particular fictional story about Ken and his dog Faith, may require parental guidance for your child or younger teen.

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impThe day began with rain setting in just after dawn. The roof over the back porch where Faith slept leaked with a constant drip echoing through her dreams. Breakfast was unappetizing. She washed it down with mouthfuls of water from her bowl.

Ken met her at the gate and opened the front passenger door of his twin cab utility. His Australian Border Security uniform looked impressive as usual but it somehow saddened her this morning. She sighed heavily.

Come on girl, youd better sit up front today, I left the back window open last night.

Faith kept her opinions to herself during the fifteen-minute drive to work. She just stared out the front window oblivious of the usual excitement of the windscreen wipers swishing back and forth.

OK, lets go.

Faith and Kens responsibility was to track down drug couriers, find hidden narcotics sent through the mail and check newly arrived shipping containers at the wharf. Today was different somehow. Faith wondered why Ken held her back from the work truck parked behind the security police offices. Instead, they headed into the lunchroom where she greeted the other officers. They joked together and tossed a ball around when the telephone was quiet. Faith particularly liked Jonesy who always brought biscuits.

Ken knelt down and rubbed Faith behind her ears. Were not going out today, girl. Sorry.

Chief Barrymore stuck his head around the door-frame.

Ken, Faith, he called out. My office.

Faith followed Ken obediently into the office before the chief closed the door.

Ken, Barrymore began, its a sad day when I have to keep you two from your work but this is important. He motioned to Ken to sit before handing him a file.

You are aware that we had stored those drugs from last nights bust in our unused vault here for safekeeping.

Ken nodded his reply but didnt look up from the file opened in his hand.

Some vault. The stuff vanished overnight. Its the last time I listen to Headquarters.

Ken head jerked up. ‘ You’re kidding?

No, I’m afraid it’s no joke but somethings strange about this whole thing. He paused Like there had to be a tip off. How would anyone know that it would be stored here until Headquarters could pick it up this morning?

Ken closed the file. What do you want us to do, Chief?

I want you and Faith to track down the culprit. Our overnight visitor didn’t leave any clues that I can see. Come with me. He stood and led them out the door and down a long hallway to the vault.

After Barrymore open the safe Ken peered inside and examined the dark chasm.

Theres no damage to the front of the safe but theres seems to be another room… or space behind it.

Yes, that is odd. I thought the rear of the vault was the outside wall. Hard to tell in these old buildings.

Its too small a gap for me. He turned to Faith and clicked his fingers at the opening.

With the light of Barrymores torch, Faith moved forward and crouched down onto her belly to crawl the short distance. She started to whimper and paw at the rear wall. Suddenly, there was a thin strip of light.

Stay girl.

Ken and the chief raced outside and around the building where they saw a couple of bricks laying on the ground between their building and the next.

As they approached, Faiths pushed her nose up against another brick causing it to fall at their feet.

Ken rubbed his finger along the mortar line around the immediate area then pulled a few more bricks aside and helped Faith through.

Good girl, Faith. Ken said before giving her a hug.

Clever, the chief said. They must have balanced the bricks after removing the mortar to give the appearance that it was still intact.

Thunder rumbled overhead as Faith sniffed the ground around them before heading back up the path. Barrymore diverted toward the rear door of the building where a few old umbrellas leaned against the wall before following Ken and his dog.

Alerted senses led Faith to the cracked concrete car parking area before circling a place where signs of fresh oil mingled with rainwater. The murky liquid dribbled on to an area where a car must have recently parked for some time. She continued to sniff around a small puddle of oily water.

Ken appeared behind her. What did you find, Faith?

Without waiting for his pat she continued on, her nose close to the concrete. It was still raining. In fact, it was becoming a heavy downpour.

Ken wiped his hand across the top of his head and followed.

Barrymore came up behind them with an umbrella held high and shrugged. Its got to be too wet for色 he yelled.

In the next instant she had raced off towards a car that was parked opposite the police vehicles.It was Jonesys car. Faith was all over the old Ford V8 in seconds. Chief Barrymore and Ken hurried over to the rear of the car where faith was barking and scratching at the boot lid.

Ken twisted his penknife into the keyhole before kicking it with the heel of his work boot. Concealed inside were the missing bags of heroin. Chief Barrymore turned and raced as fast as he could against the driving rain toward the rear door of the offices. His umbrella turned inside out with a violent rip, flew from his hold, and lodged into the fence, narrowly missing Ken struggling with the duffle bag.

In the confusion, Faith noticed Jonesy creeping around the side of the building toward one of the police cars. She bounded after him, leaving Ken to deal with the now-soaked bag.

Faith dived onto Jonesy, bringing him down hard onto the concrete. Chief Barrymore and two other officers arrived as he hit the ground. Jonesy was handcuffed and taken back inside.

Ken called to Faith as he passed carrying the duffle bag over his shoulder.

Once inside, and the drugs guarded in Barrymores office awaiting armoured collection, Ken wiped his face with a towel then dried Faith.

You did great, he said.

Later, when they were finally home, Ken put in an extra handful of dried biscuits into her dish and gave her a pat before heading inside to get out of his wet uniform.

Faith ate her tea hungrily and wandered off to her bed where she dreamed of biscuits that she would no longer get at coffee breaks. She would miss them and her friend Jonesy.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2018
This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Faith to the Rescue

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impThe sand was soothingly warm. A gentle breeze kissed her face. With a sleepy yawn, Faith watched seabirds glide silently over a distant wave. A solitary, early morning board rider, paddled out across the sandbar in search of the best. Sunbeams danced on the surface around him. A shipping tanker seemed to glide across the smooth far-away horizon while the sound of waves crashing ashore filled the air.

It was Faiths first day on the job as a lifeguard. Ken, the head lifeguard, slouched high on the lookout tower, binoculars swinging from the arm of his deck chair. Faith was happy to stretch her long legs on the beach below. She watched a young mother dressed in red, chasing her small child around a sandcastle they had sculpted in the wet sand. The little one was wearing a bright yellow shirt and bathers. Faith blinked drowsily, shifting her slender body into the shade of the tower.

Help, someone, please help!

The scream jerked Faith to attention. Ken almost fell off the tower as he took the steps two at a time. Faiths gaze fell on the young woman in the red bathing suit screaming hysterically at a small yellow object bobbing in the waves. A quick assessment alerted Faith to a crosscurrent. Seizing a short-coiled rope, she raced down the beach and plunged into the breakers.

Wait for me! Ken yelled.

She turned her head momentarily and saw Ken dragging the life raft behind him. Her strong legs kicked through the waves. Tolerating her aching limbs, Faiths eyes remained focused on the tiny head that kept disappearing below the surface. It felt like an eternity of great effort. Her eyes and throat stung from the salt.

Training had not prepared her for the fear she saw in that little pair of eyes of such a small child. Closing the distance, Faith could see the little boys eyes wide with fright and gasping for breath. His lips were tinged with a thin blue band. Just a few more yards. Hang on, little one.

She held one end of the rope tightly between her teeth, causing the rope to trail behind, but as she advanced forward it gave her full use of her tiring limbs. Short wheezing sounds escaped her lungs as she convinced herself to breathe.

Thats it, Faith. Let him take the rope, she heard Ken calling as he approached from behind her.

The small child gripped the rope briefly then lunged forward, wrapping his little arms around Faiths neck. Gasping from the pressure, Faith twisted awkwardly with every rise and fall that attempted to consume them. She swam with determination to the nearby raft.

Ken reached over the side and picked the boy up by his shirt sleeve.

Faith began to tread water for a few minutes while Ken rubbed and patted the little ones back. He gave a choking cough and vomited seawater all over Ken.

Faith turned and swam back to the beach.

By the time Faith reached the dry sand she was exhausted but relieved the child was safe. Faith gave a few hoarse coughs before returning to meet Ken and help pull the raft ashore. The boys mother raced to retrieve her toddler from Kens arms.

Thank you! He was so quick. I only turned my back for a moment to get the towels.

Dont thank me, thank Faith, our newest lifeguard. Its a trial program and I think she passed with flying colours. Ken grinned.

Faith barked at hearing her name and shook violently, spraying salty water over everyone. Ken and the woman laughed. The child struggled from his mothers embrace and wrapped his little arms once more around his rescuers neck.

Say thank you to Faith, Ethan.

Good doggy.

Faith barked with excitement and licked the little boys face until he giggled with delight.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2016

This is a work of fiction. Except for the name of Ken & his dog Faith, all other names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace