Archive for January 2013

Casting Apparitions

Every week a photo is posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields provided by her, or someone else for the benefit of inspiring writers from all over the globe to submit their own 100 word story based on the photo prompt.  Below is my story. It is pure fiction in the literal sense, entertaining, but never autobiographical of any experience I, or anyone I know, have experienced. My characters, plots and locations are those of my own creation, and from the world of ‘make believe.’ They are not indicative of my own beliefs, or perspectives, necessarily, but of their own, real or imagined. You may find all my prior 100 word stories under the category of Friday Fctioneers, Flash Fiction, or Short Fiction if you are new to my blog and wish to go back and read any of my older stories. I welcome you to come along with me to my imaginary world of ‘make believe.’

Joyce E. Johnson

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Casting Apparitions (Friday Fictioneers Flash fiction, Jan., 31)

“Your piece is shaping up, nicely. Add a little more detail here though. Who are they?” My art instructor asked.

“They’re my ancestors.”

“Oh, yes. Your other passion. Family history.” 

“Right. One is Robert Walpole from the British parliament, the other, Ludwig Van Beethoven.”

“Oh! Really?”

“Seriously.”

Their images shared the space with other old family documents.

They came to her that night again, while she lay sleeping.

Two white apparitions; Beethoven, performing symphony #9 on the piano.

And Walpole; pounding his gavel on the old, rustic, withered white bench. “Guilty as charged!”

Music to her ears.

She slept.

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Joyce E. Johnson

Portrait of Beethoven in 1815, two years after...

Portrait of Beethoven in 1815, two years after the premiere of his 7th Symphony.

English: Robert Walpole prime minister of Brit...

Robert Walpole

British Parliament


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Priorities verses Procrastination

Priorities verses procrastination.

Priorities: to pick or choose what is most important to me, then make time for it, whatever else. There is often not enough time for it all.

Procrastination: there are often too many things and projects that are left undone, or put off for another time, or day. Then I have to go back to determine what is most important with the time I use for that which I have put off.

Does anyone else have a problem with this? Setting priorities, then keeping to a routine that works to balance all those important to your life? There are days when I waste time I should have utilized better; when every moment and hour counts, but I don’t count them all important enough to do what I put off.

Then, there are times when I want to crowd more projects or things into a day, when the 24 hours to a day does not seem adequate enough. We are the stewards of our time. Trying to be a good steward of my time means setting priorities, aside from those that are essential (like allowing an adequate number of hours of rest and exercise to maintain good health). The remainder of my day is adjusting that which is left to things that are important to my fulfillment, as a person and as a writer. Balancing all means no more procrastinating of those priorities.

But, time can be too structured, leaving little for the flexible. Allowing for the flexible means adjusting time allotments where I don’t have to feel guilty when I fail to meet my own expectations. Those include times when emergencies or other unscheduled things come up that take priority over everything else. Especially, when it involves my family. For those things there is no adjusting to a secondary agenda. For my girls and my grandchildren, I make those moments count.

That leaves my writing: a personal priority I deem most important, allowing that time for projects, yet unfinished, works in progress, and those I have only ideas for, but not started. Fiction heads the list in this priority category, and my longer stories of novel/book length heads the ‘fiction’ category. What follows after that are the shorter fiction or flash fiction pieces, 100 word stories that I am using to turn into longer pieces of fiction. That includes stories, ideas, plots to map out, and characters to create. That is fun, but is a lot of work, so needs a lot of time. Again, the organizing of projects, fitting in time sequences to allow for work on each, and finishing each to its final, edited draft with no more procrastination on any.

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Joyce E. Johnson

 

Posted January 28, 2013 by Joyce in Writing

Tagged with

“I Do, Take Thee…” – (Flash Fiction, 100 word count stories, Friday Fictioneers), Jan., 23

Every week a photo is posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields provided by her, or someone else for the benefit of inspiring writers from all over the globe to submit their own 100 word story based on the photo prompt.  Below is my story. It is pure fiction in the literal sense. My characters, plots and locations are those of my own creation. You may find all my prior 100 word stories under the category of Friday Fictioneers, Flash Fiction, or Short Fiction if you are new to my blog and wish to go back and read any of my older stories. I welcome you to come along with me to my imaginary world of ‘make believe.’ And as always, feedback and comments are welcome.

Joyce E. Johnson

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Palms swayed. Wind blew off the Keys. The surf was up, the tide coming in. The sun was high and bright, a beautiful day.

It has been over forty years since we declared our love to one another on Valentine’s Day, our wedding day, here. Today, we will renew our vows. But, will he remember any of it? Alzheimer’s has claimed his mind, his memory, our time left, and our love. I cannot think, or hope beyond this day.

I pushed his wheelchair onto the old, creaking boardwalk, our children walking beside us.

Will he remember any of it?

_______________________

Joyce E. Johnson

The Daily Post Writing Challenge, The Devil is in the Details

I guessed him to be about five feet, eleven inches, with chocolate-brown eyes that drew me in. I could not help but stare. A lock of hair, the color of bronze fell stubbornly over his forehead. A man with skin color like Russian Amber, as if he soaked up the sun at Odessa’s Black Sea Resort Club had me wondering how many women he had trailing in his wake.

His English, although fluent enough to understand left me asking him to repeat things. It was I who was embarrassed, trying to focus on the interview. His ancestry was Russian. His dialect was Ukrainian. And his dark pinstriped suit, impeccable.  At the age of thirty-eight with a PhD in political science and cultural studies from the University of Odessa, Russia, one did not question his credentials or qualifications to the appointment as Consulate of Domestic and Foreign Affairs in Ukraine.

His charm was electrifying, irresistible even to those who disagreed with him, or criticized his work ethics. Could I trust him to advise me? As handsome as he was, his manner refined, polished and practiced I held back.  What was behind that teasing – almost sexy – smile? I was a novice at this kind of business, a thirty-one year old single woman, an American in a foreign country. I was his guest. He was my sponsor.

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Joyce E. Johnson

“Missing” – Friday Fictioneers 100 word story – Historical Fiction, Jan. 16, 2013

“Sasha. I told you before. You cannot color on mama’s pictures. They are very old, very special.”

She picked up the crayons, handing them to him. “Here, you go color on the paper I gave you.”

“Yes, Mama.”

Irina set out fresh candles for the menorah, gleaming from a recent polish.

The phone rang. She was too busy to talk, but answered.

Maybe it is Jacob. Why is he so late getting home?

“Irina? It is I, Isaac. Jacob did not report for work. Some of the workers were roughed up, outside the factory. Jacob was…”

“No!”

Not my Jacob!

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Tranquil Reflections

Misc 005

It was Autumn when I took this picture. My husband and I, and our dog did our usual walk that day. This is a popular walking trail, along the Big Thompson River. On that day the water was calm. The air was still with little wind. Squirrels were out at play, crows and woodpeckers could be heard all along the trail. It was one of those tranquil moments one can only capture on film. It is why I like to have my camcorder or camera with me for just these times: instilled serenity, where I can go back and view it on film or photo. I’m waiting for warmer weather again to have more of these moments. But, then there are more people and dogs out on the trail too, more noise, and less of the quiet. So, we enjoy these times when they are warm, tranquil and calm, lazy and slow.

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Liquid Gold

Misc 008

My husband took this picture when he and I, and our dog were out on one of our daily walks along the Big Thompson River in Loveland in the Autumn of 2012.  The reflection from the green-gold colored hues of the river made the photo all the more beautiful to me although it may seem like the water had turned rancid or slimy from the continual runoff over the rocks.I have found the river walks comforting and a consoling place to be.

On longer drives up through our canyons and Rockies west of Loveland we often stop and picnic by the river and enjoy the rippling sounds the water makes when it is running low. It can be very peaceful and soothing. The landscape changes from season to season and we have seen the rivers and lakes around here flowing over their banks when there is flooding from too much rain or runoff. Then, it is like the rapids, and roars through the canyons with a vengeance if full with high water. It has the strength and force of nature to wipe out everything in its path: village properties, resorts and canyons, as did the Big Thompson River Flood in 1976 that killed 144 people.   

But, we have also seen the water levels so low, from drought like we had last year that they nearly dried up completely, looking scorched, the ground baked and cracked. That is when the wildlife and birds leave to go find water elsewhere. The Big Thompson River and the Cache la Poudre River were running very low after a very dry season without rain, or adequate snowfall. When we took this picture we had recently received a good rain, refilling and replenishing many of the river basins. Colorado is still way under the required water levels needed to adequately provide for and serve the needs around these regions. When the country – not just our state – experienced the devastating wildfires last year, much of the water to fight those fires had to be drained from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. The High Park fire last year came too close to our own four-acre lot in Glacier View Meadows. But, it was spared. 

I hope things will be better this year and we receive the needed amount of moisture, whether it is in the form of snow, or rain. And hopefully the number of wildfires will be decreased substantially. We can only hope and pray we have enough and don’t experience another year like last year. It is why I call this ‘Liquid Gold.’ It is how I see water with a new perspective. 

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NOW, AND FOR ALL-TIME


NOW,  AND FOR ALL-TIME

“Here we go again. Julie! Get over it. You’re overreacting.” He whispered, so the others wouldn’t hear.

Julie pulled back. “Overreacting? Is that what you call it?” She countered back, angry over his indifference.

“Yes! You keep insinuating that I have done something to encourage her. I haven’t.”

“Rob! Haven’t you noticed the way she comes around asking questions about your registration, and sessions you signed up for? When we checked in, she even came up and asked what room you’re assigned. She pretends to not even notice I’m there.”

“I don’t think she is deliberately trying to avoid you, Julie. She’s just busy seeing to details, I guess. It’s her job as the company conference coordinator. What else would you expect from someone in her position?”

“Oh, she does her job real well. Hospitality, and all. I know she’s your friend’s wife, but doesn’t her flirting around bother him? Well, maybe not. He’s not exactly lacking in social skills, either, I’ve noticed, so doesn’t seem too lonely. They don’t exactly qualify for the couple of the year award.”

“Neither do we, unfortunately.” He said. “She’s just a friend, a good listener. That’s all.”

“Yes. I bet she is”.

“Look, I know you don’t like these things, but can’t you just pretend to enjoy yourself this week? These people are my business associates. The conferences are important to my career advancement. If you have a  problem accepting that, then we have a real issue in our marriage, with little else holding us together. Expecting me to avoid all the Serenas out there isn’t going to change it.”

“Maybe not, but… never mind. I’m going for a walk, to work out my tired muscles. The trip up here took forever.”

“Don’t go far. There is a weather alert posted for tonight. A storm front is moving in. All of the Rocky Mountain region is included.”

“I’ll be fine. You go on to the fireside charades thing, or whatever they’re calling it over there. I really don’t feel like socializing right now. If they ask where I’ve gone, just tell them I had a headache, and went up to our room. I’ll see you later.”

“Julie, wait.” he pleaded. “Let’s talk.”

“Not now.” she said, waving him off, and turning away. She was unable to shake the images of Rob and Serena together.

Exiting the conference center through a side door, she headed for a trail. She paid little attention to the  signs at the trail head warning of, “Steep terrain. Watch for falling rock.” Another one, with pictures of deer, bears, and smaller game,  described the “Wildlife Presence,”  seen in the region.

She hiked a mile when a cold drizzle intensified, turning the ground messy as she navigated the narrow trail. Moisture seeped into her shoes and socks, and down the neck of her jacket, chilling her. The air turned colder. The wind grew stronger snapping limbs and pine-cones off trees.

When the moon emerged it slid behind billowing dark clouds. With no flashlight she could barely see a visible path anymore. Sleet formed ice crystals on much of the foliage where leaves and brush remained.

Rob is right. I have allowed things like jealousy and mistrust to come between us. 

She could remember every detail of that day, seven years earlier when she and Rob stood pledging to love and cherish one another before God, friends and family. They vowed nothing, or no one would ever come between them. “Now and for all-time.” they each promised. Metaphorically, maybe they had separated long ago. It was like a gradual pulling away,  losing trust and respect for the other when they could not address the issues concerning their marital differences.

I am insane to think I could hike up here alone, without my husband who I know loves me. I acted more like a spoiled child than a mature adult.

When she turned around to start back wind gusts slammed into her with such force it threw her off-balance.  She screamed when a tree cracked, breaking on impact, sending large limbs crashing to the ground, missing her by inches.

Oh, God! How am I going to get out of this mess? I have really made things worse in my life, and Rob’s.

Snowflakes fell, swirling around in all directions as if caught in a whirlwind on their descent to earth.  The blizzard made visibility difficult for her to see the trail markers she’d passed earlier. She was not certain she was still on a path anymore.

Why didn’t I have the sense to bring a pair of hiking boots, and parka instead of these Nikes, and fleece windbreaker? The cold and snow has chapped my skin.  My bones and joints ache from the frigid temperatures.

Everything is so dense up here.  I may be walking in circles instead of on the marked path where I started. If I could just find a shortcut down from here, but, I can’t see anything through this blizzard. Unless the storm lets up…Well, I just won’t think those things.

She stepped carefully around the broken tree limbs. Sharp rocks protruded through an already thick layer of snow, and ice. All of it made her attempt to descend the ridge safely nearly impossible. Braced against a tree studying the clearing from where she’d come, she considered her options trying to determine which way to go.

She pulled out her cell phone and speed dialed Rob. It was useless. There was no signal. She was too far from any towers, if there were any around. Seven forty-eight her cell phone read. She had been gone over three hours.

The wind died down. She no longer heard the howling sounds from before. The storm was letting up, moving on, south into the Rockies.

The ground cover with the precipitation in the atmosphere lit up the mountain ridge making everything turn misty and bright. She stood under a tree, shivering, looking out over the mountainside at the beautiful sight. It looked like a picture postcard. The peaceful scene enveloped her in spite of her situation.  The brightly lit landscape before her would give her the needed light to find her way back.

She climbed carefully over the fallen tree, then began to work her self  down, stepping over slippery spots to place her feet firmly down into the ground cover.

She stopped. A noise not made by her own steps became louder when it came closer. It was then she noticed a small beam of light moving sideways, back and forth, then up and down probing the ridge she’d climbed hours ago. After a few moments it stopped, focusing its light towards her direction.

“Julie! Julie!” a voice called out.

Her heart raced. “Rob! Over here. I’m over here.” She said aloud, barely getting the sound out over her squeaking, hoarse voice.

She would never find a word to describe the sweet relief that sent her soul soaring and heart pumping when she heard his voice. Rushing to get to him she tripped, twisting an ankle, and tumbled several feet, A large boulder stopped her roll. Whimpering like a bruised pup, she leaned over to inspect her injured ankle, then carefully stood up, waiting for Rob as he drew near.

His arms grabbed her up, squeezing her near frozen body till she let out a painful grunt from his vise like grip. There was only a brief silence between them for the first few moments.

“Thank God, I found you! When the storm moved in I went looking. But, I didn’t know which way you’d gone, so started checking the trails. I thought you would just take a walk around the perimeter, not really hike up one of these trails, alone. You had me so worried. I was sure you’d gotten lost or hurt.”

“I strayed off the trail at some point losing my direction. Then, there was that huge tree that fell. I stumbled, tripping, and sprained my ankle, but I’m OK. Rob, I’m sorry for acting like that, and for the things I said. I had no right to accuse you of… and Serena too. Well, you’re here. That’s what matters.”

“Julie, listen. Trust me. No one, nothing will ever come between us. Believe me. I’m sorry too if I gave you reason to doubt that. You never lost me, Julie. You have always had my heart. I love you. Now, and for all-time. Remember?”

“I do. The words we pledged to each other the night we were married. ‘Now, and for all time.’ And I, Julie, pledge my love to you, Rob, now and for all-time.”

“You know, that hearth fire in the lobby would sure feel good to me about now.” She added, shaking.

His mouth came down on hers stopping her quivering lips and chattering teeth. His arms and firm chest felt as comforting as a thick wool blanket on her, she wanted only to snuggle in.

“We’ll do that, later. But, first we’re going to get back to our room, get these wet clothes off you, warm you up, and get your circulation going. Then I have plans for us, that include a bottle of Chardonnay, and a fire of our own, you and me, alone.”

“Really? I love it.” she said.

“Let’s get started then.”

************

Story by: Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

“Cheers” (Genre – Drama, 100 word flash fiction for Friday Fictioneers, Jan. 2, 2013)

The below story is fiction. It is my submission for this week’s Friday Fictioneers 100 word story hosted and led by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, based on a photo prompt provided. Any comments or feedback are always welcomed.

For those reading my stories, my characters and what they experience are all fictional.  They live in fictional locations, unless otherwise mentioned.  My stories do not refer to anything I (or anyone I know) have experienced, or a situation I have gone through.  But, they could be real people, or about real experiences, if I make them convincing enough. Again, that is a part of the creativity I strive for, as a writer, fictional characters experiencing things that might happen to them, or those in their lives. My characters and their stories are not based on any particular perspective, or viewpoint I have on the subject, only the perspective needed to tell the story. I believe that a truly creative and effective writer of fiction can create all different kinds of characters and situations in their imagination. But, in creating my own stories I like to leave an impression or image that will resonate with the reader. One that is as real as these experiences are, or can be in my characters’ lives, will leave the impression that there can be hope in a situation, or experience, not always one of despair. In real life it can turn a situation around for them to the positive. I hope you will come along with me to my imaginative world of ‘make believe’ and maybe you will feel like you have known that character in my stories you have read about. One you can cry with, grieve with, sympathize with, laugh with, or just be entertained by them.   And for those just coming along for the first time to a Friday Fictioneers story of mine, you can catch up on all my past Friday Fictioneers stories from 2012, and any other of my longer fiction stories posted by going back to my category listing on ‘Fiction’.

Thank you, and a Happy New Year to all the Friday Fictioneers, bloggers, readers and writers following my blog in 2012.

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BOOM! Colors exploding in the sky.

Pink, purple, hues of all kinds.

Party hats rushing. Whistles in my face.

SHOTS! BANGS!

From where did they come?

People shouting.

“Where do I go?”

“Where can I hide?”

I can’t stop the ringing in my ears.

Like bullets pinging off my brain.

My hand clutches a ticket, but a ticket to where?

Images of things spinning around.

Don’t remember anything.

Dark cloaked shadows stalking my head.

All turning black.

There’s a beautiful face looking down upon me,

Smiling, with the kindest eyes ever seen,

His arms reach out, receiving me.

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One final note: The story above, is in tribute to victims (and their surviving families) killed through tragic deaths this last year, and prior committed by one who was bent on destroying the lives of others, through mass killings.

Joyce E. Johnson


Snowfall

I took this picture from my front porch of a recent snowfall. The tree is one of our two Blue Spruce trees in the front yard, and always looks so pretty when the snow falls on it so decided to use one of my poems (below) to go with the picture.


Like Snowflakes That Fall

Tiny crystals of frosted lace

Fall unhurried, quietly to earth.

Each unique, unlike any other:

Too soon they melt,

Disappearing forever.

Like snowflakes that fall

Weightlessly to earth

We enter this world

All different in ways

Uniquely created by

The Master of art.

Taking this journey,

Passing through life:

It is what we are

That makes us distinct,

What marks our page,

History, or book.

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Poem by: Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

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