Author Archives: Nelly Black

Julie: The Artist.

Julie sat down on the brown couch in the lobby area. TV’s were blasting the news, latest things the crazy president was doing, the stock market crash, the murder in some small town with enough mystery to keep the nation captivated. The magazines on the coffee table in front of her showing happy scenes of housewives decorating the perfect summer themed parties with their husbands in a ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron and grilling spatula, the latest star and their tragic on screen romance turned real life love story, and a children’s magazine.

It seemed out of place for the office setting, maybe a client brought their child or a secretary brought her son to work. Her meeting was pushed back half an hour, they were thoughtless-only telling her after she had already walked through the door. Julie picked up the children’s magazine and flipped through the simplicity. The activity pages had been scribbled in red and yellow crayon, perhaps the child was not appropriately aged yet. She kept flipping until she got to the main article, it was short but the message was powerful. A child wouldn’t understand the moral but it made Julie think.

What was she doing here? Pitching her big idea to some soul sucking corporation? Was she selling out? Was this the right decision? Her husband might have thought so-if he had stayed around long enough for her to finish the concept drawings. She took out her portfolio and stared at her drawings. She glanced back at the magazine.

Julie stuffed her drawings and the magazine back in her satchel got up and walked towards the front desk. She told the secretary to apologize to the men she was to meet with today, but she wouldn’t be coming back.

“What ever it is that you want to do, do it for yourself. Happiness comes from your own success.”

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The Empty Trolley

I entered a contest where they give you a plot and you write about it, I didn’t win. But that’s okay there’s always next time. I thought I’d let you all read my submission anyway. The prompt was “Mystery titled The Empty Trolley.”

Legend has it you can still see a lingering trolley in the middle of Leosville. It has been decades since they were in use and according to officials, they have all been decommissioned and tore apart.
Of course, no one really gets a good look at this trolley, it seems to disappear quickly. And none of the stories ever quite matched up. Frank swore he saw it one day and turned to his wife to tell her, in the instant it took her to look the trolley was gone. Young Jeramiah and Thomas were playing in the street when a police officer jumped out to save them from being ran over by the trolley once, but the other people walking on the sidewalk just laughed at the officer. Jimmy told his tale about slamming on his breaks one afternoon in fear that he would hit the trolley, no one got hurt he would say. But no one believed any of them.
The local paper, Leosville Argus, had one reporter who was always set after the ones who believed they had seen the trolley to tell their story. The article he had written about the trolley stories always got stuck in the section of the paper no body liked to read with all the advertisements. His name was Jackson Fernell and while he thought himself to be a decent reporter for the paper was only referred to as “The Trolley Man” as a joke by his coworkers.
One day Jackson decided to do a little more digging into the story of the disappearing trolley. He found contact information for the three witnesses he had spoke too before and gave them each a call.
The first witness Jackson spoke to was Frank Beauregard. Frank and his wife Suzie were expecting their first child in a short few days but had just a moment to recount his day seeing the trolley. “Clear as day, it was right in front of where that arcade is on Main Street, me and my wife were headed to the movies but decided to walk a little downtown first. Beautiful spring day it was.” Jackson wrote down all the information that he could in his little notebook and called his next witness, the police officer.
“Well, those kids had just come out of the arcade on Main Street, goofing off. I was just patrolling the town like usual and there that trolley came clear as day. Looked like it wasn’t going to stop for them kids and I jumped out and pushed them to the sidewalk. I had a lot of strange looks that day and a lot of laughs back at the station.” Officer Evanston was more than happy to tell someone his side of the story maybe because Jackson seemed genuinely interested in what he had to say.
The third witness was Jimmy. He was tough to get a hold of, turns out his wife had taken a turn for the worst and spent most of his days at the nursing home. Jackson decided to do an in-person interview and met Jimmy and his wife, Mariann, at the nursing home. They were a sweet old couple, married for 54 years.
“I was driving by the old flower shop.” Jimmy smiled.
“Such a shame Julie had to close down.” Mariann put her hand on Jimmy’s.
“Yeh, yeah, poor girl. Well so I was driving by the old flower shop. I couldn’t remember where the new one was, so I hoped driving by the old would jog my memory. And there it was, that old trolley in my damn way!”
“He got home that night with flowers for me, he’s such a sweetheart, and told me all about it. I thought I read in the paper a few years ago that they tore all those apart. Really nice of the town they made them all into benches for the parks. Anyway, I couldn’t believe it when he said he almost ran into it!” She wheezed.
“So, Jimmy, the old arcade…that used to be a flower shop.” Jackson was intrigued now. That was two witnesses that had walked by that arcade-old flower shop who had their women on the mind, but what did the officer have to do with it?
“Oh yes! Our neighbor Julie had the best blooms in springtime!” He chuckled.
Jackson got the information he needed from the sweet old couple and headed to the common place of the trolley sightings. He was missing some big information. The trolley seemed real to these people. These people mostly had romantic intentions during their sighting. Except for the cop… what had the cop have to do with it? He picked up his cell phone and called Officer Evanston again.
“Officer, I know we spoke about the children of that day, but do you mind if I ask a more personal question?”
“Uh…sure I guess.” The Officer sounded apprehensive.
“What did you do for the rest of that day?” Jackson opened his notebook to the other interviews.
“Oh. Well, I finished my shift. A pretty boring day really. Had a few phone calls.”
“Anything else?”
“I had anniversary dinner with my wife. We’re celebrating this weekend, but I surprised her with flowers and dinner.” Officer Evanston smiled.
“Bingo!”
“Excuse me?”
Jackson was embarrassed. “Sorry, I think I’ve figured out why people see the trolley! All three of the witnesses had seen the trolley outside of an old flower shop turned into an arcade. And all three of the witnesses bought their wives flowers that day!”
Jackson hung up the phone and stood there staring out into the street from the sidewalk. What did the flowers have to do with the trolley!? Just then, he saw it.
Clear as day, a big trolley with the cables and the train tracks below, it was empty. But there was a ghostly glow about the trolley as well. He stood there, amazed and pondering. A cold breeze seemed to flow from the door of the old flower shop to the trolley and Jackson concentrated. A transparent man, a ghost! A ghost had gotten onto the trolley with a bouquet of flowers.
“Who are you?” Jackson yelled out, not sure of what he was doing.
The ghost just smiled, and the trolley disappeared.
It was two weeks’ worth of more research before Jackson could but together more of a story. He researched the flower shop but didn’t get anywhere with that lead. He investigated anything he could find about trolleys. It wasn’t until he searched death records when he found the name of Paul Ramos. Paul’s obituary told the tragic tale of a trolley accident, he was on the way to propose to his love, Holly.
Jackson decided not to publish his findings in the paper he worked for. He thought it was a perfect story that didn’t need explaining. One of love and romance, hopefully a reminder to all those that see the mysterious empty trolley that their love is precious and fragile.


Flash Fiction: Hot Day

She lifted her left leg out of the car carefully. The skin on her thighs had stuck to the leather seat in the old beat-up car her father swore was a good deal. It was, he was right. He was always right.

She slowly lifted her right leg and stood up. The air conditioning in that tiny car hadn’t worked for a week but she wasn’t bothered enough to fix it. No, the windows did just fine. She was able to let her hand feel the breeze, much like her younger self. Hand out side of her parents station wagon, a giant plane taking the same road they did… if she squinted and imagined hard enough.

She made the journey down the path to the old farm house and reached the old screened door. The house had seen better days. She placed her hand on the metal door handle and stood. The moment was lost. She should have phoned to say she was coming. She used to just walk right in. Judgement got the best of her.

She knocked, instead, on the door of the house she grew up in. Waiting for her mother she hadn’t seen in fifteen years.


Chrysanthemums.

Trevor and Theodora had been dating for quite sometime, he was madly in love and planning a special engagement. He was ready to marry her, she had no idea but was blissfully happy anyway.

Tragedy struck when Trevor’s grandmother fell ill on the day he meant to propose. Theodora was of course willing and happy to be at his side at the hospital. The next few weeks were hard for Trevor but he managed to get by with Theodora’s warm embraces. He eventually took out the ring in a hospital waiting room, after talking with his grandmother he realized life was short and he knew he wanted this woman for the rest of his life.

The day of the funeral was full of tears for Trevor and Theodora stuck by his side all morning. The reached the funeral home and Theodora halted to a stop at the front door. “What’s wrong, my love?” he managed to say.

Theodora looked on in horror at the flower pots by the door. “What are those?”

“Chrysanthemums, they were grandma’s favorite. She always used to say they kept the witches out. Come on, we better get in there.”

“I…I can’t go in there Trevor.”

Trevor stood perplexed. Questions began to rise to his mind, how could his fiancé not go to his grandmother’s funeral. It was only a moment when the reality came to his mind and all the things his grandmother said about his beautiful woman rushed on to the tip of his tongue. His jaw just about dropped. “You’re a witch!?”


A dragon’s breath

“Well I was out eating vegetables.” Druk said as he hiccupped again.
“Vegetables?” Avina was puzzled, it wasn’t like her husband to eat anything but animals he found in the woods. But even then, he would bring home at least a small deer for her.
Druk hiccupped again. “Slim pickins’, my dear.”
“Pity.” She looked over the medicine cabinet once more. “Sorry love, fresh out of the heartburn medicine. You’ll have to go into the town and take some.”
Druk groaned, he hated bothering the villagers. They didn’t like him too much. “Well did you need anything else while I am out?”
“Not now dear, we have some meat stored in the back cave that will last us a while. Unless you stop by old Mrs. Damforth and see if she’ll let me borrow another book?”
“You disintegrated the last one.” Druk walked out of the cave with a smile on his face. Mrs. Damforth wasn’t likely to let Avina borrow another book but he’d still try. Maybe he could talk one of the other townswomen into it.

Druk made it to the town down the mountain, about an hours-worth of walking. He wanted to look ‘normal’ coming into the town, because otherwise it would scare the children if he flew down the mountain. A truth he had found out the hard way a few years ago. Edmund and Karyle never got over that one morning they ran into Druk and had to leave town as soon as they were of age, no one had heard of them since.
Druk sneaked into the sleepy Sunday village and found a house that seemed to have some movement. He tapped on the door with a claw, if he had knocked he would have tore down the door, something he also learned the hard way. He waited a short moment and tapped again. He heard a thud behind the door, which meant the person most likely fainted upon sight of a dragon outside their house and he would have to move on.
He needed to work quickly though, news would spread in the town and he would be ran out by the toughest men there was.
Druk walked a few houses down and tapped lightly again. He waited a moment and was about to tap again when the door opened. Behind it was a small child, about the age of four in a little pink dress. Druk panicked, small children usually ran crying to their mothers.
“Hi.” A tiny squeak came from the little girl. She smiled big.
“Hello, miss. Is mommy or daddy home.” For the first time he felt a sense of relief.
The little girl giggled. “Dragon.”
“Yes, I am.” He smiled back at her.
“They say you big scary. No. You cute.” She giggled again.
Druk smiled, he had never been complimented from a human before. And he thought about it, the last time Avina called him cute was when he was courting her. “My name is Druk. What is your name?”
“Anabelle.” She smiled again and grabbed for his hand.
“No, no Anabelle, I won’t fit in your house!”
She stepped back with a frown. Anabelle stared at Druk,
In a moment a woman showed up at the door. “Anabelle, we told you, Dragon bad!”
“No mommy! Druk nice!”
The mother looked at Druk. “Well you haven’t burnt down my house yet.”
Druk couldn’t help but chuckle. “No, Ma’am. Just in town looking for medicine. Modern times but we still haven’t quite figured out how to do the sort of healing that you humans do.”
“Medicine huh? Why not try a doctor?” She crossed her arms and leaned against the doorway.
“It’s best to try my luck with the people first.” He smiled. “Perhaps do you have heartburn medication Ma’am?”
She stood with a puzzled look.
“In turn I offer services. I can annoy your pesky enemies, or do some heavy lifting, or protect your home. Possibilities are of course limited to what a dragon can do.”
“Fly!” Anabelle smiled and looked at her mother.
“No Anabelle, not safe.”
“Ma’am flying is completely safe, I would guard Miss Anabelle with my life.” The truth was Druk had never given a human a ride, but he had known other dragons to. It couldn’t be so hard.
“You’d give Anabelle a ride for some heartburn medication?” Anabelle’s mother said inquisitively.
“A life time of rides, Ma’am.” Druk was hopeful.
“Okay.” She disappeared into the house and returned with two large bottles of pills. “I can always get more so I’m giving you what we have.”
Druk smiled. “The missus will be so happy I won’t have to come to the village for these any time soon. I do thank you. As for the rides for Anabelle, I know it is getting late so how about I come back tomorrow for her first ride? Do you mind taking her to the edge of the forest so I won’t need to come too close into town?”
“I’d be more than happy to. Say around 10 o’clock.” The mother smiled.
“10 o’clock it is!” Druk took his bottles and began to walk way when he remembered the other thing. “Oh! The missus, Avina loves novels, you mind letting her borrow one?”
“One! I’ve had a whole box I’ve been meaning to take to the library, but I’m sure your wife would love them!”
Not too long and Druk was walking away with a large box of books and the medicine he needed. He smiled and thought what a lovely happenstance that he was able to meet such a generous woman and happy little child. He was over joyed at coming back the next day to take the little girl for a ride. He knew Avina would be proud that he didn’t terrorize anyone this time. As he started his journey home he heard the mother talking to her little Anabelle.
“I never knew dragons could get heartburn! So fascinating, I hope he comes back!”


Momma

The phone rings as Jeff takes a long sip of his Tennessee whisky. He hesitates, not wanting to ruin his lazy Saturday afternoon. The downpour meant he couldn’t go fishing, getting drunk was the next best thing.

The phone rings again. He picks up the handle, “What?” He mumbles.

“Jeffery Daniels?” The other man questions.

“Yeah, what you callin’ me fo?”

“Sir this is Captain Solders from Colby State Penitentiary. We’re calling on behalf of your mother.”

Jeff hung up. He didn’t want to deal with this today, he took another sip and stared out at the storm clouds.

The phone rang again. And again. And again.

“Man, I don’t know what kind of trick you tryin’ to pull here but my mom died twenty years ago. I ain’t got time for your pranks.”

“Uh, Mr. Daniels, we have your mother here. She’s well alive, we have her set to be released today and we’ve had a heck of a time trying to find you. She said you’re her only relative.” Captain Solders said in a concerning voice.

“It’s raining.” It was Jeff’s only concern. Mostly because he never really believed his mother died, they never even had a funeral for her. He was curious to actually see who this officer was actually releasing.

“Uh, yes sir it is.”

“Alright. But if I was fishin like I was supposed to be y’all would have been shit out of luck. Where do I need to go?” He sipped his whisky again.

The officer on the phone sighed in relief. “Thank you. What you’ll need to do is head to the main gate, tell the gatekeeper that you’re here to pickup an inmate. They’ll direct you where to go from there. You’ll need an ID.”

Jeff hung up the phone, downed the rest of his glass and grabbed his keys.

After signing the necessary paperwork and leaving the penitentiary, Jeff and his mother started the long drive back to his house on the lake.

“You don’t need to give me the silent treatment, Jeffery.” The frail woman sat in the passenger seat and looked at the trees passing by.

“They said you were dead, ma. Then out of the cloudy gray sky some police dude called from some upstate prison said you were alive and well just sitting there waiting to be picked up by your only relative.” He stopped the truck on the side of the road. “You care to explain any of this before I take you back there?”

“Just wanted to protect you baby. It’s a lot easier growing up thinkin your momma’s dead instead of the truth.”

“And what was the truth ‘momma’?” Jeff gripped the steering wheel. While most children would be happy seeing a long lost parent, he was angry. And for good reason too.

But she didn’t answer. Just stared out the window, tears in her eyes.

“Come on, I’ll take you home.” He started driving again.

“Could we do something first?” She waited for an answer but could tell he was in a bad mood. “Could we get a real meal? Something hot, and not mushy?”

“You remember that steak place we went to when I was 10?”

“For your birthday?”

“It was the last time I saw you.”

“I’m sorry, Jeffery.” Her tears welled up in her eyes and slowly rolled down her cheeks.

“It’s alright, ma. Let’s go there.” They drove in silence.

At the restaurant they caught up on all the things she had missed during his adolescent years. Jeff indulged his mother, telling her about graduating school and the job at the factory and the girl who almost-was. About how he struck up a good amount of money and bought his house and the lake and his new business. All the while the question still grew in his mind until he couldn’t take it anymore.

“What did you do momma?”

“I…”

“You can tell me momma.” He gave her a stern look.

“I told the cops that I was the one that killed the man in the park, honey.” Her tears began to fall again but she didn’t sob.

“The park?” Jeff was confused.

“Yeah baby, the one over on pine street.”

He fell silent and stirred food around his plate. “But they said he had a heart attack?”

“No, baby.”

“You killed him?” The memories rushed to his head. He wished he had been able to fish. Or maybe he hadn’t answered the phone. Above all, Jeff wished he had still been sipping on his wisky. He looked up and noticed his mother’s face and all of the memory hit him at once. “….I killed him.”

Mrs. Daniels, with tears in her eyes, nodded her head.


Sir Bowlsworth

Sir Bowlsworth is a small restaurateur in the south side of France. He serves mostly soups, and is widely popular in the area.

The people in France look past his American heritage and appreciate him for his knowledge of basic knowledge of bisque, chowder, and soups. (Of course, no one really knew the difference)

Sir Bowlsworth was even knighted for is servitude to the French by the Queen of England, which no one had ever received such an honor by a foreign dignity for such a small act.

The only soup not popular in Sir Bowlsworth’s line up was what he called “Tomato.” To the French people he served this was a disgusting soup which they likened to liquefied ketchup. An American condiment they never used, made to go with the American popular-French Fry.

His customers never asked for the soup but it remained on the menu, and he still made it hot and fresh everyday in hopes someone would give it a try.

One day, Sir Bowlsworth decided to put a new item on the menu. A grilled cheese sandwich, to complement his unpopular tomato soup. His customers were outraged. “Why would a soup restaurant sell a sandwich!?” They cried. The idea was totally preposterous! They wouldn’t even give the sandwich a try.

It was months before a very curious customer came into the shop. She was holding a French translation handbook and had a cassette tape with headphones draped over her shoulders. “Puis-je avoir la soupe au fromage grillé et à la tomate?” She said very slowly in a near perfect accent, glancing at her book ever so often to get the sentence right.

Sir Bowlsworth looked confused. He had waited for this day for a very long time. He said “Oui.” and guestured for the lady to take a seat anywhere she pleased while he prepared her meal. The French customers were equally confused, who would order such an American abomination?

He brought the lady a bowl of his unpopular tomato soup with a plate of goey grilled cheese sandwich.

She said thank you in her best French accent and began to tear her sandwich into pieces and dip them into the soup.

The other customers were in complete outrage! Who would do such a thing! They all stared at her, including Sir Bowlsworth. No one had ever treated his soup with such carelessness.

“Ma ‘dam, you must be American.” He said.

She looked at him, “Yes, you sound American too!” She smiled brightly as if this was the first American she had seen on her trip.

“Oui, Ma ‘dam.” Sir Bowlsworth smiled.

“I’ve been looking for something like this! It reminds me of my mother and home!” She asked him to sit down.

He was so happy to have someone to talk to that appreciated his tomato soup. It was indeed his mother’s recipe, and much like this young lady, it reminded him of home. In fact, it was all he had eaten for the past few months. He didn’t want it going to waste either since none of his regular customers would not touch it.

Sir Bowlsworth and the lady sat and talked all day long, with him occasionally serving his customers.

From that day on the French customers enjoyed the soup as the lady had, with tore up grilled cheese pieces in their tomato soup. The lady even went on to be Mrs. Bowlsworth, and everyone was happy and lived happily ever after.