Tag Archives: Short Stories

Guest Author #SallyCronin ~ Grace, a Christmas Story from What’s in a Name?

I am so pleased to feature author Sally Cronin during this Holiday Season. Sally’s generosity in promoting fellow authors on her blog, Smorgasbord Invitation, is well-known, and I am delighted to reciprocate. 
Sally recently released the double-volume of her book, What’s in a Name? available in paper on Amazon UK. 

What's in a Name Vols. 1 & 2 by Sally Cronin

Buy the book HERE 

The e-Book and Volumes 1 & 2 can be purchased separately on Amazon US HERE 

Sally is sharing with us today a lovely Christmas story from What’s in a Name? Volume 1. This story exemplifies the true spirit of the season: love, compassion, and gratitude. 
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Grace
It was Grace’s fifth birthday and the staff at the council run orphanage had made sure that there was an iced cake for tea and some small wrapped presents beside the plastic yellow plate. The children sat at tables for ten boys and ten girls and meal times were expected to be conducted in silence. This rule was however broken on birthdays, when all fifty children would stand up and sing Happy Birthday enthusiastically in the hopes of receiving a thin slice of the oblong sponge cake.
Grace sat in silence as the noise erupted around her and gently fingered the blue and white wrapping paper on the nearest present to her. From the shape she could see that it was a book. It would not be new; a hand me down from one of the older children. Still, in this home of abandoned children, a gift was always treasured. A tear rolled down her flushed cheeks and slid into the corners of her mouth. She wiped them away hurriedly; being a cry baby was frowned upon. Gratefulness for the charity that put a roof over your head and food on the table in front of you was drummed into the children from a very early age.
The energetic rendering of the song ended and there was a scrapping of wooden chair legs as all fifty children sat down at once. Silence resumed as slices of bread and butter were grabbed and placed onto plates with well-scrubbed hands. There were four small dishes of jam around each table and the youngest children would wait their turn knowing that receiving a small spoonful would be an unusual bonus. One of the serving ladies, a local girl called Alice, took away the oblong iced sponge cake to be cut into thin slices. After Grace had been served one of the pieces; the large platter moved around the dining hall watched eagerly by fifty pairs of eyes.
Picking at the cake with trembling fingers, Grace managed to eat a few morsels before a coughing fit overtook her. The matron came across and slapped the child firmly on her back and offered her the beaker of diluted orange juice.
‘Come on girl, buck up,’ the stout grey-haired woman looked down at her sternly. ‘There is many a child here who would be delighted to have these treats’
Grace tried her best to smile knowing that being labelled ungrateful brought consequences, and having been disciplined twice recently, she was in no hurry to repeat the experience. It was not seen as cruelty to stand a child in a corner for an hour at a time or to send them to bed without even this meagre supper. Grace had felt the pangs of hunger more than once since her best friend Hope had left the orphanage.
The thought of her friend waving goodbye as she had left in her smart new tartan coat, made Grace catch her breath. To stop herself crying she pinched her arm as hard as possible. She hoped that Hope had not forgotten her now that she had a real mummy and daddy. The two girls had been brought to the orphanage within days of each other at only six weeks old in the winter of 1953; as toddlers they had become inseparable. They were so very different that no-one could mistake them for sisters. Grace had straight red hair that frizzed at the slightest dampness and freckles sprinkled her nose and cheeks. She grew rapidly into a gangly five year old whilst Hope, with her curly blonde hair and blue eyes, remained petite and doll-like.
It was always hoped that the babies who arrived at the orphanage would be adopted into a good home. Although there had been some interest initially, by the time the two girls reached four years old it was becoming more and more unlikely that this would happen.
However, a few months ago a couple had arrived and immediately taken to Hope and started the proceedings to adopt her. The two small girls had known nothing but this regimented environment and never imagined that one day they might be separated so devastatingly.
The matron rang the large brass bell on her table. The children stood ready to file out to the games room for an hour before bedtime at seven o’clock. Grace trailed behind the other girls from her table clasping her three gifts; as yet unopened. As the older boys played with some wooden toys in the corner, some of the smaller children clustered around Grace and begged her to open the presents. As expected there was a dog-eared picture book of fairy stories which was passed around and admired. One of the other packages contained a small packet of sherbet sweets that were eagerly sampled and in the third was a woollen scarf in a bright red colour. Grateful for its warmth, Grace wrapped around her neck and sat until bedtime looking at the pictures in her new book.
Grace had barely eaten since her birthday and the head teacher at the primary school in the village had rung matron to say that the child was becoming more and more withdrawn. Although strict and somewhat fierce looking, the matron was not an intentionally unkind woman and she called in the doctor from the local surgery.
He was a gruff looking man with a shaggy mane of greying hair. The children adored him because he always arrived with pockets filled with boiled sweets. He sat on the edge of Grace’s bed and having examined her carefully, he took her little hand in his.
‘Well little Grace what a pickle we are in,’ he smiled down at the solemn child. ‘It is nearly Christmas and you will miss all the fun if you don’t start eating soon and you will have to stay in bed.’
The child turned her head away and whispered into her pillow. ‘I only want Hope to come back home for Christmas.’
The doctor returned downstairs and met with matron behind the closed door of her office. Reluctantly at his request she made a phone call and proceeded to have a lengthy discussion with the person on the end of the line.
Having left instructions that Grace was to be fed every two to three hours with some chicken broth and a little toast and jelly if she would eat it, Doctor Baxter left to continue his rounds. He promised to return on Christmas Eve in three days to see how the patient was doing and also to carry out his annual duties as Father Christmas at the children’s party.
Grace did sip a little of the broth and nibbled at the toast and three days later she was carried downstairs and sat on a chair near to the Christmas tree. The children had made all the decorations and what they might have lacked in expertise they had made up for in bright colours and glitter. Fairy lights flickered through the branches of the tree that had been donated by the villagers along with a present for every child in a sack placed by a big red arm chair. The presents were to be distributed before they would sit down to unusually overflowing platefuls of sandwiches, jelly and as a very special treat, Christmas cake. The boys and girls were not sure what they were looking forward to most.
Hearing tyres on the gravel of the drive the children rushed to the windows of the dining hall and started clutching each other in excitement. Santa Claus sat in the back of a large open topped black car and when the vehicle stopped; he opened the door and stepped out to wave to them all. They were so focused on his progress as he walked to the front door that the three other passengers in the vehicle went unnoticed.
Ten minutes later Santa was sat in his large comfortable chair and the children came up one by one to sit on his knee and were given a present wrapped in festive paper, tied with either a blue or pink ribbon. Grace watched the proceedings quietly on the side lines until there was just one present left. Alice put down the jug of juice that she was serving to the children and came over, picking Grace up and depositing her gently on Santa’s lap. The white faced child glanced up into a pair of twinkling eyes that looked vaguely familiar, but it was difficult to tell who was behind the big white bushy beard.
He leant down and whispered in her ear. ‘I hear that you would like something very special for Christmas, is that right little girl?’ he winked at her. ‘I hope that I’ve brought you what you wished for.’
At that moment Grace’s eyes were drawn to three people who had suddenly appeared at Santa’s shoulder. For a moment she froze in place, then pushing herself off his knee, she wrapped her arms around the small blonde girl standing in front of a smiling man and woman.
The two girls remained huddled in each other’s arms sobbing uncontrollably until the woman knelt down beside them and wiped their faces with a clean white handkerchief. Satisfied that she had managed to stop the flood of tears, she reached out and took each of their hands in her own.
‘Hope has missed you dreadfully Grace and we have heard so much about you,’ she smiled at the bewildered Grace. ‘We were all hoping that you would like to come and live with us too; as Hope’s sister.’
An hour later the group of adults watched as the two girls sat side by side at a table. They were talking non-stop except when selecting and eating another sandwich or a piece of cake.
Even matron could not hold back a smile at the change in Grace now that she was reunited with her soul mate. As for Santa, he scratched his face behind the itchy beard and wished that he could capture this moment for ever.
Happy Christmas Grace…
©SallyCronin What’s in a Name? 

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What's in a Name Vol. 1 by Sally Cronin

One of the 5-star reviews for What’s in a Name? Volume 1
A highly recommended read. This is a gift for the soul.
on October 7, 2017 
What’s in a Name by Sally Cronin is an absolute gem of a book. Cronin is a gifted storyteller, and readers are sure to be moved  and intrigued by this collection that was inspired by real-life occurrences. These are stories that will move you and stay with you long after you finish. I read through this collection in one day and have revisited it many times since. A book so enticing is a true testament to the skill of an author. To keep a book near, allowing one to relish in the many emotions it is sure to evoke, ultimately speaks to the treasures held within.
The characters come to life, and it’s impossible not to think of similar people we have met along our own journeys. I laughed and cried, found solace in heartfelt reflection.
A highly recommended read. This is a gift for the soul.
Also by Sally Cronin 
Books by Sally Cronin

All books available at  Amazon US  and  Amazon UK

About Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin

I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another ten books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

Connect with Sally on her social networks and follow her blog and on Amazon:  Blog   Moyhill Publishing   Goodreads  Twitter  Facebook  LinkedIn   Google+   Amazon US   Amazon UK   

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I hope you enjoyed Sally’s heartwarming story and are making beautiful memories during this magical festive season. 
Namaste, my friends ❤ 

Featured image by Pixabay CCO 

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Satin and Cinders

If you love animals and relish requited love, this short story by Jan Sikes will make your heart swell ❤ #Recommended

Writing and Music

SATIN AND CINDERS – A SHORT STORY

For many years, I’ve stood in the protection of the forest watching, longing. She is the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen with her satiny white coat, long silky mane, and tale.

The humans care for her, brush her and feed her only the sweetest hay in the glen. But, me, I live wild and free in the forest. I nibble grass and weeds. My dark coat doesn’t glisten or shine and I’ve never felt a human touch.

There is something about her that I can’t explain. When the rest of the herd moves south, I stay, year after year. I can’t stand the thought of being so far away from her. And she knows.

Now, with winter approaching, I stand at the edge of the forest and shiver. I watch until the cottage sits cloaked in darkness before I approach the barn…

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Welcome Back #Author Andrew Joyce

I’m thrilled to welcome author Andrew Joyce back to my blog. Andrew recently released his short story collection, Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups, and I’m pleased to help him promote it. 

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups by Andrew Joyce

Buy the book HERE

BLURB

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against the author’s better judgment. If he had known that one day they’d be published, he might not have been as honest when describing his past. Here is a tome of true stories about the author’s criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though the author is sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as he keeps coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.

Comprised of 218,000 words, you’ll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. This is a book to have on your night table, to sample a story each night before extinguishing the lights and drifting off to a restful sleep.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

BIO

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.

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You’ll be delighted to know that Andrew brought Danny along (actually, I think it’s the other way around 🙂 ). We’ve missed you, Danny!

Danny the Dog

And now, over to Andrew and Danny … 
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Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce. I’m here today to try to sell a few books. I have a new book out entitled Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. And I thought it might help if I brought my dog along because he’s a bit more articulate than I am. We’re here to discuss a few of our favorite things. But first, I’d like to introduce you to Danny the Dog.
Say hello, Danny.
Hello.
Could you be a bit more enthusiastic?
Could you get on with it? You dragged me away from a Lassie rerun. She was just about to save Timmy, who fell into a well. I wanted to see how she was gonna do it, seeing as she has no opposable thumbs. You never know, I might have to save you from a well someday. Then you’ll be sorry you didn’t let me finish watching my show.
Okay. Let’s just get down to it. I’ll say my favorite things first and then you can tell the nice people about your favorite things.
Why do you get to go first?
It really doesn’t matter to me, Danny. Do you want to go first?
No.
Boy, oh boy! You are something else. I’m sorry, folks, but Danny seems to be in a mood today. I’ll start the ball rolling by telling you some of my favorite things.
Make sure they’re not too sappy.
Be quiet, Danny. Okay, here goes. I like getting up early to see the sun rise out of the ocean. I like rainy days when I can stay inside and read a good book. I like a good cup of coffee, and happy endings in movies. Now it’s your turn, Danny.
Whoa! Are you kidding me? What are you trying to do, fool these poor people? I’ll tell ’em what you really like.
No need to do that, Danny. I’m just trying to sell some books here.
Hush. If you want to sell books, then be honest with the people. It’s my turn and I’ll use it to tell the people what you’re really like. Andrew’s favorite thing is vodka. Then there’s his obsession with beer. You should see him when he has a snootful. He’s just like Hemingway. I don’t mean he can write like Hemingway, but he sure can drink like him.
Thanks a lot, Danny.
I’m not done yet. Sunrises? Andrew hasn’t seen a sunrise since I was a pup. And coffee? Of course, he loves coffee. He puts three shots of vodka in every cup. I will admit he does read a lot, rain or shine.
You are a bad doggie, Danny. Alright, you blew my cover, but we still haven’t heard about your favorite things.
I thought you’d never ask. I love to sniff where other dogs have peed. I love our walks in the morning when it’s just the two of us. I love it when, after our walks, you give me those treats. But do you want to know what I love the most?
I’m afraid to ask.
I love you. I’m hard on you because I’m trying to keep you on the straight and narrow. An impossible task, I think. But I’ll keep trying.
Aww shucks, Danny.
Can we get out of here now? There’s an old Rin Tin Tin movie on TCM that I don’t want to miss.
Sure, Danny. Let me just thank Tina for having us over.
Thank her for me too. It wasn’t so bad.
Thank you, Tina. 
You’re most welcome, my friends! It was my pleasure to host the dynamic duo of the blogosphere 🙂 
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I hope you enjoyed visiting with Andrew and Danny. You’ll find Andrew’s other books HEREBooks by Andrew Joyce
Learn more about Andrew and Danny, and be sure to get your copy of Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups
Website   Blog   Amazon   Facebook   Danny the Dog   Twitter   
Thanks so much for stopping by 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name! – Volume Two – Xenia | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

A post I had intended to reblog, before getting waylaid by having to republish my first novel, was Sally Cronin‘ short story, “Xenia.” Sally asked us to choose a story beginning with the letters Q V W X Y or Z to introduce her new collection, which would be published in her latest book, What’s in a Name Vol. II

What's in a Name Vol. II by Sally Cronin

Find all of Sally’s books HERE

I love Sally’s short stories; and as many of you know, she consistently supports authors and bloggers in several ways on her blog, Smorgasbord Invitation. If you’re not familiar with Sally, I think you’ll find her writing most compelling and hope you’ll visit and follow her blog.

Her short story “Xenia” touched me deeply, and I’m pleased to share it with you now.

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Your name is Xenia, after your Greek grandmother, whose wrinkled complexion smelt of roses and almond oil. I remember the hot summers of our visits as we played on the rocks beneath her stone house; working up an appetite for the platters of goat’s cheese, olives and warm bread. The loaves were taken straight from the wood stove; handled carefully with well worn hessian rags, and served up on the rough wooden table in her wild garden. I remember being fascinated by her hands as they sliced thick warm chunks with an ancient serrated bread knife. They were blackened from nearly 80 years in the sun, with dark-rimmed nails from digging into the soil for home grown vegetables.

She was still a beautiful woman, who loved to have her long black and grey hair gently brushed in the twilight; sipping delicately from her glass of rose pink wine. Happy sighs filled the scented air; encouraging continued effort. We dreaded her tears as we left to catch the ferry at the end of summer, with her whispered goodbyes and pleas for us to return again the next year, remaining in our minds for weeks afterwards.

But one summer only my father made the journey, to stay just a week to bury his beloved mother, with her silver backed hair brush and a small bottle of almond oil resting in her hands.

That was ten years ago and I have been saving up her name to give to you, my first child.

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Source: Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name! – Volume Two – Xenia | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

 

Again

A powerful story by Andrew Joyce depicting the carnage of war, and drawing similarities between what led to the Nazi takeover of Germany and what is occurring now in the United States. Who or what is the enemy? Could it be our own lack of insight? Could it be that we have placed fear at the helm of our consciousness? This is a story that will stay with you for months, if not years ~ if not the rest of your life… 

Andrew Joyce

I went off to war at the tender age of sixteen. My mother cried and begged me to stay, but my country needed me. I would not see my mother again for four very long years.

Due to my age, I was assigned to field headquarters as a dispatch courier for the first two years of the war. However, by the beginning of the third year, I had grown a foot taller and was shaving. And because men were dying at an alarming rate, I was sent into the trenches.

They say that war is hell. I say hell is peaceful compared to living in a muddy trench with bombs exploding around you at all hours of the day and night. Though there were periods of respite from the shelling. Those were the hours when the enemy had to let their big guns cool or else the heat of firing…

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy Anthology – Trust by Sally Cronin

A story of grief, trust, and solace, beautifully written by our supportive friend and blogger, Sally Cronin. Need I tell you, Sally, this is my favorite and most likely always will be? Unlike all the tears I’ve shed over the past four months, these were welcomed ♥♥♥

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Here is another of the stories from my first story collection.. Flights of Fancy.. This time the story of a woman and a dog who come together on a harsh Welsh mountain.

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TRUST

The house was quiet. The men had left a few minutes ago and already she felt alone. The ticking of the grandfather clock in the hall intruded into the silence. Time was passing slowly and each minute felt like an hour.

Claire stared out of the kitchen window at the gathering gloom. It would soon be dark, and she would be unable to see the mountain rising above the house, harsh but fiercely beautiful. It was this mountain that had attracted them last spring, the lower slopes covered in lush grass dotted with the cotton wool white of the ewes and their lambs. The craggy rocks of the mountaintop jutted up into a cloudless, blue sky…

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