Just Peachy Keen

Growing up, Suzanna was embarrassed by her mother's use of down-home expressions in front of her friends, things like "peachy keen", "fixin' to", "hissy fit", and "drier than a popcorn fart"; it was okay if they were home alone, but she thought her mother was way too much of a country hick to impress her popular friends.

"Please, Mom" she would beg, "don't say anything dumb when my friends are around, their mom's don't talk like that." 

Suzanna's mother would just smile and respond, "Suzanna, I was raised a country girl, and that's just who I am; friends you have to change your ways for aren't much worth having."

Years later Suzanna found herself missing her mom who had recently died, and even those silly old-fashioned expressions that were so much a part of her; stopping at a roadside stand to buy some fresh peaches one summer afternoon, she suddenly felt sad for all the times she'd criticized her mother.

Just then a peach tumbled from atop a basket and landed squarely at her feet; bending over to pick it up she could almost feel her mother smiling.

 "That was peachy keen, Mom" she said, laughing through tears.

 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "peach"
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

Time Passing

Well, well, well, would have thought that the girl who couldn't wait to see her tiny town in the rear view mirror would one day find herself growing nostalgic about those years of her life?  She had always said that she would never return for a class reunion, noting that she "didn't like them then and had no desire to see them now"; and yet she finds herself forty-five years later setting up a class Facebook page and talking to people she barely spoke with back then... or was it that they barely spoke to her?

Admittedly, she was a stand-out in her class of 100, the largest class her rural Midwest school would ever have; she kept to herself mostly, dressed a little differently, and tended to promote what was then considered to be radical thinking but would be mild by today's standards. She even threatened to blow the place up a time or two, not seriously but wishfully; that would have landed her in deep trouble in today's atmosphere of violence in schools.

This weekend many of her classmates will be returning home for the 45th class reunion; she is surprised to find herself wishing that she would have made plans to join them, and even more surprised at the number of people who wished she was going to be there.

Now there's talk of meeting up at the 50th; though we all started in the same place, life has taken us many directions and most of us have mellowed considerably, and we find that the shared memories have grown sweeter with time passing.

 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "well"
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

The Missing Link


Carlo Pacelli was the father of two sons, Carlo Jr. and Angelo; he was extremely proud of Carlo Jr., who had graduated from college with honors and was pursuing a legal career, and very disappointed with Angelo who had several minor run-ins with the law, dropped out of college, and travelled about the country bumming off friends and relatives with no real plan for his future.

After a particularly ugly scene in which Carlo accused Angelo of stealing money from his aged grandmother, Angelo had stormed out of the house shouting that he would never return as long as his father was alive, leaving his mother heartbroken.

Not long after that Carlo was dressing for a formal dinner and was stunned to find that one of his favorite monogrammed cufflinks was missing; he was unsure whether his wayward son or the household help was to blame for the theft, but assumed the intent was to pawn it for its 18K gold value since only one was taken.

True to his word, Angelo ceased all contact with his family; his father spent years and large sums of money hiring private investigators to try to find him to no avail, and when Carlo died only one son was present at his funeral.

A year later Carlo's wife became gravely ill, and Carlo Jr. placed ads online and in many newspapers begging anyone who know of Angelo's whereabouts to tell him to come home, that his mother desperately wanted to see him.

Not long after, Carlo Jr. answered the door one evening to find what appeared to be a homeless man asking to speak with him; Carlo Jr. attempted to turn him away and threatened to call the police until the weathered man in ragged clothing stretched out his hand and handed him a single monogrammed cufflink.

 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "link"
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!


Lord, lift us up from the muck and mire where we find ourselves dwelling so often these days. Remind us not to stoop to the level of those who promote mockery, hatred and destruction. Grant us the wisdom to choose our words and our actions wisely. Help us to seek ways to build up rather than tear down, to promote good rather than focus on evil. Clear our minds and refresh our spirits when we feel lost and defeated, and remind us that hope is eternal. Guide us to a higher place where we live in harmony with each other and with all living things.
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "lift"
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

In Charge

"Where's the manager, who's in charge here?" bellowed the large man dressed in a business suit that occupied the same table every morning at the Manny's Coffee Shop. 

Everyone stopped in their tracks and stared as the young man waiting on him grew pale and was visibly shaking; he tried so hard to satisfy his customers, but apparently had done something to displease the man he knew to be the president of the city bank.

The manager scurried over to the table to quell the disturbance while the other staff shot glances at each other and waited to see what would happen. "How can I help you Mr. Jameson, is there a problem with our food or service?" he asked.

In a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, Mr. Jameson said "Sir, I come here every morning for breakfast and most of the staff who wait on me are inefficient, unconcerned and sometimes downright rude, and show no pride in their appearance; but I've been watching this young man, and every time he waits on me he is courteous and respectful, dressed sharp, pays attention to detail, and makes sure to get my order in and out quickly no matter how busy he is. This is the kind of person I want working at my bank, so I'm informing you that today is his last day here, I'm making him my new assistant!"
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "charge"
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

Master of Disguise

She was a master of disguise and the mistress of malevolence; yet outwardly she appeared to be the nicest friend anyone could ask for, kind and caring, and above reproach.

There was another side to her, very dark and discovered only by the few who got close enough to really know her. Out of view of the public eye her kindness would turn to relentless criticism and emotional manipulation, leaving those who tried to befriend her off-balance and confused.

Woe to anyone who dared to call her out on such behavior; she would feign shock at their accusations, then switch from denial to attack mode in a heartbeat and systematic character assassination would ensue.

Acquaintances who thought they knew her would sympathize with the pain purportedly caused her by such a "hateful, heartless" person, never suspecting who the perpetrator really was.

But life has a way of has a way of coming back around full circle, and one day she found herself abandoned by everyone, alone in the bitter company of her own smug self-righteousness.

 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "master"
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

One Choice

Fresh out of school and flushed with the excitement of receiving the first paycheck from his new job, Jack headed out to local bar for a Friday night celebration with his coworkers. He had too much to drink but chose to drive home anyway, colliding with another car and killing the driver.

Jack spent the next six years of his young life in the state prison with plenty of time to think about how one very bad choice not only altered the course of his own life, but ended another... that of a man who was someone's son, someone's husband, and someone's father.

Finished with his prison sentence, Jack has been released and is slowly rebuilding his future; he's about to become a father... with the rest of his life to think about the child who lost his own. One choice made all the difference.*

*This is a true story, details have been changed to protect his privacy.

This was written for In Other Words where Patricia has asked us to  
write a story or poem of 5 Lines or Less using the word fresh.
Come and read more stories and share one of yours!

As If On Cue

~Image Source~
Shana couldn't believe they were arguing yet again; it seemed like that's all they did lately.

Justin's voice grew increasingly loud and his face began to redden.
As if on cue, Shana's dog left her side and walked cross the room to where Justin was standing. Lifting its leg, the dog aimed a stream of warm urine directly at Justin's pant leg. 
Firing off a string of expletives that ended with "That's the last &%#@ straw," Justin stormed out the door.
Shana collapsed onto the floor in laughter, partly at her dog's perfect sense of timing, and partly in relief that the relationship was over."
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "cue"
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

Shake It Off

People criticize you... shake it off
 You feel misunderstood... shake it off
Life has treated you unfairly... shake it off
Others do it so much better than you... shake it off
Put an end to your self-pity party
 Pick yourself up, shake it off and move on
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "shake"

Come and read some great stories and poems and share one of your own!

Reflections on the 2017 A to Z Challenge

The A to Z Challenge for this year is over, and there has been a week to relax and recharge from the busy pace.  Each year, about midway, I consider making it my last year of participation due to the time involved to do it well, and yet before the month ends I find myself thinking about what I will take on as my theme for next year. :-)  I think that says it all about how much fun it really is, and also how good it feels to participate in a group effort and see it through to completion. 

This year saw me undertaking my most ambitious theme yet, the writing of six-sentence stories each day that were connected by their membership in a ladies church group in a small Midwest community. It is familiar territory to me from my own upbringing, so the story telling came easy, and finding something for each letter of the alphabet was simply a matter of choosing the name for the next character.  However, I realized early on that it was going to be impossible to provide full bio information for each character and still weave the stories together with only six sentences to use, so I opted to go with abbreviated biographical info and provide more of a storyline which, based on the comments I received throughout the challenge, worked out very well.

My stories weren't of great literary merit but I think they were interesting, or maybe it's more that  the characters seem familiar. In the small town of Cottonwood Creek most people look out for each other and support their community, despite a few with problems and issues. I used the stories to convey the message that good things can happen when we work together.

The biggest concern at the beginning of this year's A to Z Challenge was how not having a master sign-up list was going to work.  I had my doubts, as did many.  However, I have to admit that once we got the hang of the linkup html, it worked out very well, with a much more manageable list to review than the massive sign-up list of previous years.  If you were further down on the old lists, you didn't get a lot of visitors, this way there were plenty of visitors and the blogs you took the time to visit actually had a current post. 

I really liked the people who added something about their theme in their daily comment/link, and I think this needs to be encouraged. It enabled me to choose blogs that I might enjoy and relate to, rather than ending up spending a lot of time running through blogs that weren't in the scope of my interests. I visited more blogs this year, and had more visitors on mine than in previous years, which was great!

The very best part of the A to Z each year as far as I'm concerned, along with sharing the experience with bloggers you already know, is discovering new bloggers that write awesome posts and soon become friends that you will continue to follow long after April is gone. I met some really great people this year, and some wonderful writers and storytellers. I also encountered a variety of clever and creative themes that made it fun. You can find a link list of some of my A to Z  favorites in my sidebar.

I plan to be back for next year, and I'm already pondering theme possibilities. As I say each year, I intend to have at least some of the posts pre-written. Maybe next year will be the year I actually get it done! :-)  I've even contemplated doing a "Return to Cottonwood Creek" series for next year's theme, continuing the stories of some of the characters I introduced this time around. We'll see!

Many thanks to everyone who stopped to visit, read, and comment, April was an awesome month! :-)

Drop by the A to Z blog to check out what other A to Z participants had to say about this year's challenge.