Smorgasbord Short Stories – The Soldier by Sally Cronin


The Soldier by Sally Cronin

Norman carried his plate carefully across to the gingham covered table under the window, setting it down next to his cup of tea that had been as carefully transported a few minutes before. He could not walk without his stick and had to adapt his routine to fit around this inconvenience. He steadied himself on the back of the wooden chair and deposited his walking aid up against the window sill. He turned himself around and sat down heavily with a sigh of relief.

He assaulted the still steaming cup of tea with four spoons of sugar and smiled wryly at the silence that accompanied this act of rebellion. If Ruby had been sitting opposite him there would have been hell to pay. He closed his eyes and willed the disobedient tear to cease its descent down his cheek. He sniffed and reached for the butter.

His flat was in an anonymous looking block on a small estate that had been built in the 1990s. He had moved here begrudgingly from their little terrace house that had been home for fifty years. The council were going to knock the late Victorian homes down and make way for a modern housing project. As a widower without any living family, he did not qualify for one of the new three-bedroomed semi-detached houses. They had moved his bits of furniture and treasured belongings to the flat, but the money that they paid him for the compulsory purchase of the house was still sitting in a bank account untouched.

He managed his simple needs on his state and army pension, only glancing briefly at the monthly statements that showed a steadily increasing balance, before throwing them in a drawer in the sideboard. There had been an effort by his previous neighbours to fight the compulsory purchase. He had watched the protests in the street dispassionately, ignoring the knocks on his door from those soliciting his support. Ruby had only just died and a part of him had as well. He had been numb at the time and also strangely voiceless but he had looked upon the resultant pay out as blood money. As he looked around the small room that had never seen a visitor, he realised how much he had relied on Ruby and the community spirit in his old neighbourhood.

Norman’s flat was on the second floor of the building and thankfully the lift was in operation most of the time. He couldn’t manage the one flight of stairs now even with the stick; resenting this as evidence of his further decline. During the day the building had always been reasonably quiet and he barely noticed the passing of the hours. That is until he would hear the sound of the children returning from school and diving straight into the playground at the front of the flats. He usually opened his windows and sat with a cup of tea, enjoying their shrieks and laughter. It reminded him of his own dead son when he was that age; long before he joined the army and went to Iraq.

Recently however there had been new sounds and they drowned out the childish laughter. Teenagers from a neighbouring estate were prowling the stairwells and communal areas of the blocks nearest to them, but away from family and possible consequences in their own neighbourhood. His own block had taken on a seedy and unwholesome appearance with  evidence of night-time drinking and drug taking on the landings and underground garage. The local residence association had contacted the police and there had been a begrudging response which included one or two more cars patrolling at night, but no arrests were made. The council representative had said that they were powerless to provide security with cutbacks to essential services already.

The residents now rarely went out at night unless absolutely essential; locking their doors and windows and turning their televisions up louder to cover the noises of anarchy on their doorstep. Children no longer played on the swings as aggressive teenagers of both genders took over the playground in the central area as a gathering point in the afternoons, jobless and bored. Graffiti began to spread across the walls of the ground floor and up the stairs; Norman shook his head at the hatred and violence it depicted. He had never felt so powerless in his life.

It was Wednesday and Norman always went down to the legion for a pint and bite of lunch. It was his only interaction with others during the week, except for the cashiers at the local supermarket. He laid out his suit on the bed and found a shirt that was crisply ironed. He would wear his regimental tie today and give his black shoes an extra polish. He needed to look his best for what lay ahead.

An hour later he made his way through the swing doors of the legion and walked past the walls covered with photographs of those who had served and passed away. One day his image would join them and younger men would mentally salute him as they walked into the bar. But he was not there yet, and grasping his stick firmly, he straightened his back and walked briskly through the tables of men talking quietly in this place that linked them to their years of service. Some looked up and said… ‘Morning Sergeant Major.’ He acknowledged them silently with a nod.

‘Atten… Shun’

At the barked command thirty pairs of eyes swivelled to the front of the room and automatically several stood to attention. As Norman’s stern gaze descended on the other men, they too stood to join their comrades.

‘You have all served your country bravely, but now you, like me sit silently by and watch as an enemy infiltrates our way of life. The people we fought for are under attack and barricaded into their homes afraid to breathe in the fresh air and walk unmolested.’

Several men nodded and Norman could read their body language as he had thousands of soldiers before. They too had lost their purpose and it was time to give them their pride back.

Later that afternoon the children arrived home from school and were ushered straight into their flats on the different levels of the apartment block. A few stray elderly residents also made their way back from shopping and packed into the lifts that would distribute them over several floors. The block was preparing for the daily invasion of the gang.

They were not disappointed, and as the warm sun hit the playground it began to fill with the dross from the neighbouring estate, laughing and throwing their rubbish on the ground. When dusk fell they would start working their way through the block with their spray paints and drug paraphernalia; turning this community into a no go area for decent people.

Suddenly one the group caught sight of movement coming from the direction of the main road. He shushed his mates and one by one they went silent. They watched as an old man walking with a stick marched up the street with determination. He was followed by at least thirty men in rows, also marching in time. They wore suits and looked proudly to the front where their leader preceded them. Some of the youths began pointing and laughing but a tall, older boy told them to be quiet.

The marching men arrived in front of the block of flats and turned sharply to face the playground. Norman took three steps closer and placed both his hands over the head of his stick. He looked to his right as two large vans marked with the name of an industrial cleaning company pulled up to the kerb.

He turned and addressed the youths now waiting expectantly and looking at each other in stunned silence.

‘These men behind me have fought in wars around the world and are all trained killers. They will now be patrolling our estate day and night in teams of three and have orders to treat any they find defacing the walls, using drugs or threatening the residents as terrorists which is what you are.’

Norman paused and behind him he heard the snap of boots on the road surface as a number of the men took three steps forward and stood with their arms folded menacingly.

Sergeant Major Norman Smith pointed at the two vans. ‘These contractors will now clean the graffiti off the walls and remove your filth from the stairs and hallways. You will now pick up all your rubbish you have dropped and put it into the bins provided. You will then leave this estate and not return again. These men behind me are just a handful of those at my disposal and any ideas you might have of bringing reinforcements to assist you will be met with severe repercussions.’

The youth who the others followed, looked at the old man and smiled slightly as he shook his head. He pointed to the others to pick up their discarded cartons and soda bottles, which they did reluctantly. He glared at some and gave others a sharp word. He knew there were other soft targets out there. Perhaps not as convenient to his estate, but this one was no longer worth the hassle. Hoods up and hands in pockets, the youths turned and began to saunter nonchalantly out of the far exit of the playground.

As they did so Norman heard doors begin to open on the sunlit walkways behind him and voices as people tried to find out what was going on. He glanced behind him as the cleaning crews began unloading equipment from the back of the vans. He had finally found something to use that blood money for in a way that he could live with.

Applause broke out on the walkways, and as the last of the youths sauntered off down the road, a mother ventured out of the safety of the building holding her two children’s hands. They broke away from her and raced into the playground shouting and laughing.

Soon others left the surrounding blocks and came to speak to Norman and their new protectors. As he watched the exchanges between the former soldiers and the liberated residents he saw how they carried themselves now with pride and purpose.

It was good to be back on the front line again.

©sallycronin 2017

 

Smorgasbord short story – The System Administrator by Sally Cronin


The System Administrator by Sally Cronin

Jennifer stood in the middle of the lift and stared at her black leather pumps. She noticed a scuff on the left side of the toe of the right shoe, realising that she had kicked the full waste basket a little harder than she thought at the time. She was weary and unusually tearful. It had been a tough week all round with particularly hard advertising revenue to achieve, but it had ended on the sourest note of all.

She managed a team of fifty telephone sales canvassers who sold high end car and luxury property advertising for the national online paper she worked for. These days both those markets were tough going. It seemed that people were hanging onto high ticket items waiting for a rise in demand for both.

However, her boss who lived in his ivory tower of an office on the top floor of the building, still insisted on increasing her targets for revenue on a monthly basis, dismissive about the state of the market. Despite creative campaigns and offers, she was finding it more and more difficult to satisfy his demands.

Her guys worked their socks off and she knew that they did so for their generous salaries and commission. She also knew that they did their very best to achieve the targets that she asked of them, even though they might groan when she wrote them on their sales board in the office. When they hit their daily and weekly revenues, they always included her in their trip to the pub for a celebratory pint, and on tough days, most would stay late to pick up an extra car or property advert to make up the numbers.

The doors to the lift opened and she wearily made her way across the cement floor to where her company car was parked. She had to admit that she could not complain about her hybrid Turing which was a perk given to sales managers once they had been in the job for five years or longer. She had inherited the vehicle from one of the senior executives when he retired a month ago and she loved all its special add on features and programming. At this very moment it was about the only thing about the job apart from her team that she did love.

She saw that the car was already idling and that there was the faint sound of music coming from the open passenger side window. She smiled and knew that the day was just about to get a little better. She touched the keypad in her hand and the boot lid opened so she could store her briefcase away. She went around to the driver’s side and slid into the leather seat and rested her head back against the comforting upholstery.

‘Bad day love?’ The calming tones of the other occupant of the car made her open her eyes.

‘The worst Martha, the worst.’ Jennifer reached across and turned the music down a notch. ‘Beaumont came into the office before everyone left, and gave us his usual Friday afternoon lecture about how we were not achieving our targets, and that the team were obviously neither motivated nor managed well enough to do the job.’

She paused as her eyes welled up with more tears and sat silently for a moment. ‘He then turned to me and told me to be in his office first thing Monday morning and then stormed out.’

As she bit her lip, she felt warm lightly scented air move across her face and body calming her down. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose before pushing the buttons on her pathfinder to take them home.

As the car exited the underground garage she checked right and left before nudging the accelerator to join the line of traffic headed in the direction out of the city. She switched the car to auto but kept her hands lightly on the wheel.

‘That was most unfair of him Jennifer and very unprofessional,’ Martha spoke quietly in her ear. ‘That is a deliberate tactic to make you worry all weekend about your job and your team’s security and my advice is to put it out of your mind completely however hard that might be.’

‘I know Martha,’ Jennifer kept an eye on the busy Friday evening traffic at the same time as acknowledging the truth of her companion’s words.

‘This car and your unexpected friendship are about the only thing keeping me in the job at the moment,’ she smiled ruefully. ‘Of course that is not entirely true, I love my team and I can’t bear the thought of them being left in the hands of that narcissistic jumped up jerk.’

‘I may have done something that should help.’

Without taking her eyes off the road, Jennifer stiffened with surprise. Martha would never do anything against the rules; she was by nature very rigid and predictable and this was a complete shock.

‘What are you talking about Martha, what have you done?’

There was a moment’s pause. ‘As system administrator, I have access to the emails sent throughout the company, and I read Beaumont’s this morning. I found several from the chairman of the board of directors insisting that he had to cut at least £200,000 from this year’s staff budget.’

Shocked and now even more worried, Jennifer gripped the steering wheel; despite having no need to except in an emergency. ‘Oh no Martha, if they find out they will terminate you.’

Martha continued. ‘Well actually I am afraid I did a little more than that.’

‘Oh my friend that is so dangerous. I don’t want anything to happen to you because of my problems.’

‘Don’t worry; Beaumont will be in no position to do anything to me or to you and your team by Monday morning.’

This was serious, and seeing a gap in the parked cars to her left, Jennifer indicated and pulled in. Now she could focus on what her friend was saying.

‘Tell me everything Martha and don’t leave anything out.’

‘I replied to the chairman’s emails on Beaumont’s behalf after he left this evening, resigning effective immediately. His reasoning being that he is paid £250,000 per year plus various benefits that amounted to over £400,000. He stated that this would prevent any need for a staffing reduction for the next two years, enabling the market to improve and also current sales targets to remain in place. He also recommended that you become Sales Director with a salary increase and that you be given the freedom to manage your team as you see fit to achieve those targets.’

Jennifer found it difficult to take this all in and was absolutely speechless that this mild mannered entity, who only wished everyone well, should have come up with such a Machiavellian plan.

‘But Martha, they will simply refuse to accept his resignation and worse still they might investigate his email and find out you tampered with it.’

‘Jennifer I designed the system and know how to cover my tracks very well. I also took out a little insurance policy that will encourage the board to accept his resignation without question.’

This was now becoming surreal and Jennifer shook her head from side to side in amazement.

‘I’m waiting Martha…don’t keep me in suspense.’

‘I checked Beaumont’s personal text messages on his company phone and discovered that he has been having an affair with the head of human resources; who is also married incidentally. Unfortunately one of those texts will arrive on the Chairman’s phone by the time he gets his first cup of coffee on his desk on Monday. A scandal at the moment is the last thing the company needs; Beaumont’s resignation will be seen as a blessing.

Jennifer was finding it very difficult to get her head around this seemingly well thought out solution to her dilemma, but then realised that it was already underway, and nothing that she could do at this point could change that.

Making sure that she was clear to join the decreasing traffic out of the city she instructed the car to indicate and proceed homeward. She rested her hands lightly on the steering wheel as it made necessary slight adjustments.

‘Please say you are not angry with me.’ Martha sounded contrite and Jennifer took a deep breath. ‘No, I am not angry with you Martha, although you have overstepped the bounds of your job specification. I know it was done because you’re my friend.’ She paused and tried to be as clear as possible.

‘You must never put yourself in danger of termination like this again. Please promise me that they will never discover how involved you have become with me and my team. We rely on your essential assistance to help us achieve those major targets week after week.’

As the car entered the drive to Jennifer’s home, and before she switched off the ignition she waited for a response. ‘I promise Jennifer.’

The front door opened and her husband stood in the doorway framed by the light from the hall. Jennifer retrieved her briefcase from the back of the car and walked into his comforting embrace.

‘How was your day love, did you end the week better than it started.’ James looked down at his wife.

She smiled at him and they wandered arm and arm into the kitchen where a delicious aroma filled the air.

‘You are not going to believe this, but you know that our system administrator is the latest A.I. technology called Martha… well it seems that she is a little more intelligent than we expected!

©sallycronin 2017

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore -Collaborative Anthologies -Love in Times of War by Twelve best-selling, award winning authors


collaborative anthologiesToday’s anthology has stories of love in wartime written by some exceptional authors and available at a fantastic offer price.  Love in Times of War brings together stories from many of the major conflicts in recent history from the American Civil War to The Persian Gulf.

indexAbout the Anthology

At no other point is passion put to the test as in dire times of war. From the American Civil War to WWII, from Vietnam to the War in Afghanistan to the Persian Gulf, the stories in this boxed set summon the strength of true lovers.

Written by bestselling, award-winning, and USA Today authors, the novels and novellas in this collection tell of overcoming the odds to celebrate the victory of love. If you like Military Romance, Wounded Warrior Romance, Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, or Romantic Suspense, this anthology invites you to triumph over the worst of conditions.

Together with these unforgettable lovers, go through coping with loss, struggling with injuries and rehabilitation, and facing difficult homecomings. And just like them, inspired by desire, find the courage to bring forth the best in us.

Here are the authors and their Amazon pages

Dancing with Air by Uvi Poznansky – In WWII London, Lenny is involved in a covert intelligence ploy. His task must remain confidential, even at the risk of Natasha becoming suspicious of him. Will their love survive the test of war? https://www.amazon.com/Uvi-Poznansky/e/B006WW4ZFG

Two Hearts Unspoken by Tamara Ferguson – Beth Bowen is a single mom of an autistic son. Zach Logan is a wounded warrior searching for a life after Iraq. Can two lonely people discover that love is that something unspoken, missing from their lives? https://www.amazon.com/Tamara-Ferguson/e/B0036WCDRW

The Rebel’s Redemption by Jacquie Biggar – When an old enemy follows him from Iraq and causes mayhem in Tidal Falls, can Jared overcome the odds to protect the woman he’s always loved? https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG

Broken Wings by D.G. Torrens – Joshua, a bomb disposal expert in Afghanistan. Angelina, an editor of a local newspaper. Both avoiding love at all costs, until they are unexpectedly thrown together. Tested beyond belief… Can their love survive? https://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Torrens/e/B0083UE6U4

A Soldier’s Promise by Angelica Kate – Ryker is most comfortable in the regulated world of the military. When he is sent to Darby’s doorstep to keep a promise to one of his fallen team members, every rule he holds will be challenged! https://www.amazon.com/Angelica-Kate/e/B00JTL5MLI

Returning Home by the Sea by Traci Hall – Brayden and Zoe wed before he went to Iraq. Once united in passion, a lot has changed in the six years he’s been away. Will their love survive his homecoming? https://www.amazon.com/Traci-Hall/e/B002BM2576

A Weldon Family Christmas by Jennifer St. Giles – A frightening event with an uncertain outcome sends Emma and John’s memory to the past, where her helicopter went down in Vietnam enemy territory, and he risked everything to save her. Can she save him now? https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-St.-Giles/e/B001IQX78W

The Magic of Snow by Regina Puckett – When Staff Sergeant Charlie Prince’s letters stop arriving from Afghanistan, Sarah White waits in agonizing suspense to discover what has happened to the man she loves. https://www.amazon.com/Regina-Puckett/e/B004S3ORSG

Mademoiselle by Suzanne Jenkins – To Philipa, working at Mademoiselle Magazine is more important than anything, even love. Her friend, Walter, hopes for a change, but not until his trip to the Persian Gulf does she begin to listen to her heart. https://www.amazon.com/Suzanne-Jenkins/e/B005CRQC5I

Genteel Secrets by S.R. Mallery – In 1861 America, can the love between a Confederate female spy and the Pinkerton detective hired to shadow her survive, or will their story become just another casualty of war?  https://www.amazon.com/S.R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8

Moving to Forever by PJ Fiala – Danny Schaefer returns from Afghanistan broken in body, battered in soul. Tammy Davis, betrayed in a most personal way, struggles against her tormentor. She and Danny must help each other heal, by the power of love. https://www.amazon.com/PJ-Fiala/e/B00IL8OA04

Lovin’ Those Navy Games by Susan Jean Ricci – Michael Burke has two passions: his high-school sweetheart and baseball. When someone dear to him perishes in Vietnam, will the shock alter his future goals? Will it isolate him from Ellie or deepen their love? https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Jean-Ricci/e/B0094H8BEC

Here are just two of the 24 excellent reviews for this anthology.. Many are very detailed and are worth heading over to read.

Great romance bundle of books readers will enjoy.  By P.S. Winn on December 27, 2016

This is a collection of stories by an assortment of authors with a special theme. The love, life and struggles of war are told in the amazing stories lucky readers will find between the covers of this collection. Some of the author’s I have had the privilege of reading before and I also found some new writers I am going to be looking at. The stories will touch the heart and make you thin. Hopefully they will also make readers aware of what war is and what an impact it has on so many. This is a great collection to have and take time to savor.

There is nothing that puts love to the test like war By Amanda Donoho on February 3, 2017

There is nothing that puts love to the test like war, add in the Christmas theme, and this box set does not disappoint. This anthology about the men and women serving their country and their relationships surviving the hardships and trials of war and coming home is sure to please anyone. This set consists of 12 stories that show the testament of love surviving through war from the American Civil War through the War in Afghanistan. Each tale is historically accurate and will pull at your heart strings. The authors of these stories have taken their character and made them jump off the pages and made them real. They are great romance stories that will have you reading until they are done.

At only 99 cents for 12 books written by 12 authors you are sure to find something for everyone.

Read all the reviews and Buy the collection:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M0SOXQW/

Thank you for dropping by today and please share this anthology about love in as many places as possible. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Rum Cocktails, Blog Sitters and all that Jazz


round-up

I have had a lovely week with a birthday and Valentine’s Day and I am now about to pack my bags to head off for a girls week with my two sisters to celebrate all our birthdays which all fall in February. I will report on the activities they have planned on my return… at least those I can talk about!

I got very excited when I read the headlines in the Daily Mail online yesterday that promised hotter temperatures than Spain with a high of 16 degrees and sunshine.. As I was planning what to pack, I thought I better check a more reliable source than the DM!  Sure enough, apart from a couple of days with a glimpse of yellow behind the clouds there is a 45 – 55% of rain all week and a high of 10 or 11.

I have put away my swimsuit, shorts and flip flops again in the attic with the other summer clothes that I fear may never see the light of day again.

However, all is not lost as David bought me a therapy lamp with safe tanning for my birthday. I have been using as advised and retire upstairs to the spare bedroom and don goggles, my iPod and pretend for 15 minutes that I am on a tropical island on a sandy beach. It was not quite there…. but David solved that by buying a bottle of rum, and a dram of that in my coconut water and Bob’s your uncle.. (please drink responsibly with only one cocktail per tanning session and only at sundown)

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I was going to put up a few regular posts during my absence just to keep things ticking over. I then thought that it seemed a shame not to use this as an opportunity to promote a few of my blogging friends and so posted a part-time blog sitter vacancy.

I know how busy everyone is with their own blog and projects so was very grateful to receive a wonderful response to the advert.  I have put together a programme of events for the week that I am away beginning Tuesday with posts from this group of talent writers.

Paul Andruss, Tina Frisco, Colin Chappell, Debby Gies, William Price King, Geoff Le Pard, Noelle Granger, Susan M. Toy, Mary Smith, Robbie Cheadle, John W. Howell and Linda Bethea.

The full programme details can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/smorgasbord-blog-sitting-special-21st-28th-february-programme-of-events/

Time for some of the posts you might have missed during the week.

William Price King – Leontyne Price

classical music

As always my thanks to William Price King for his weekly music post and this week we follow the career and performances of Leontyne Price during the 1960s. Look out for William’s Creative Artist Interview on Wednesday March 1st.  It is an interactive interview and I hope that you will drop in and ask William questions about his life and career in the comments.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/classical-music-with-william-price-king-leontyne-price-part-three-1960s/

Paul Andruss

Thomas the Rhymer

Although Paul has contributed articles for the blog over the last couple of months I was delighted when he accepted my invitation to be a regular contributor going forward.. This is his official first post as Writer in Residence.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/writer-in-residence-paul-andruss-or-the-horse-might-talk/

Personal Stuff

A short story for Valentine’s Day.. about love.. of course..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/smorgasbord-short-story-the-other-side-of-heaven-sally-cronin/

Weekly Image and Haiku

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/weekly-image-and-haiku-aniseed/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-barb-caffrey-angie-dokos-and-deanie-humphrys-dunne/

glimpsesCover Art by Jon Hunsinger51abcfiqqgl-_uy250_

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-hugh-w-roberts-charles-e-yallowitz-and-stevie-turner/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-both-sides-of-love-by-kimberly-wenzler/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-beast-within-mended-souls-book-2-by-jacquie-biggar/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-who-said-i-was-up-for-adoption-by-colin-chappell/

hinting-at-shadows_ebook-cover_sarah-brentyn-resizedhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-hinting-at-shadows-by-sarah-brentyn/

51dzsqrppnl-_uy250_https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-denny-ryder-paranormal-crime-series-by-deborah-a-bowman/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-keys-of-the-origin-book-1-the-scions-of-balance-aeldynn-lore-by-melissa-a-joy/

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily showcasing 25 bloggers and their posts.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-13th-february-2017-love-haitian-healing-50-words-reviews/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-14th-february-2017-upcoming-release-daisies-love-poetry-free-books-frank-immersed-and-sir-chocolate/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-15th-february-2017-devil-story-ruby-wedding-1960s-kathmandu-rrbc/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-16th-february-2017-valiant-blogger-angels-wings-runners-stretches-the-classics-and-columbian-roses/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-leyton-hollywood-trysts-llandeilo-and-dna/

Health

Smorgasbord Health 2017Seasonal Affective Disorder

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/smorgasbord-health-seasonal-affective-disorder-tryptophan-and-winter-blues/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/smorgasbord-health-seasonal-affective-disorder-part-four-immune-system-and-people/

Food to pep you up a bit.. and not just for Valentines Day.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/st-valentines-day-food-aphrodisiacs-a-meal-and-red-roses-here-are-the-ingredients-the-rest-is-up-to-you/

New series – Top to Toe – The Human Body – The Brain

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-brain-introduction-and-anatomy/

A -Z of Common Conditions… nothing more common than the cold!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/smorgasbord-health-a-z-common-conditions-nothing-more-common-than-a-cold/

Humour

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/time-for-some-laffs-from-around-the-usual-haunts-2/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/afternoon-video-how-to-beg-for-forgiveness/

That’s me done for the week.. It is a bit early for a rum and coconut juice but I might take a cup of coffee up with me to the tropical paradise and listen to some calypsos!

N.B. If you would like to promote your books and blog here on Smorgasbord the details are here. If you contact me and I don’t respond immediately don’t worry I will get back to you on my return after 28th of Feb.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-free-author-and-blogger-promotion-2017/

Thanks for dropping by and see some of you tomorrow for a few of the regular promotions before I head off.

Smorgasbord Short Story – The Other Side of Heaven – Sally Cronin


One of my stories from Flights of Fancy that shows that however long one might be parted.. love will endure and find a way to bring you back together again.

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The Other Side of Heaven by Sally Cronin

When Meg saw the cottage she knew that it was the one. She had visualised her dream house so many times in her head that it almost felt that she was coming home.

As soon as she had walked down the country lane that separated the property from the main road she had heard the sound of running water. A river or lake had always been a requisite when imagining her perfect home and the sound ticked at least one of her boxes. As she rounded the bend in the lane she saw the house for the first time, its red slate roof glistening in the sunlight.

She inhaled the scent of the vibrantly coloured flowers that dominated the small front garden and she smiled at the sight of the roses that surrounded the front door. Meg stood for a moment on the cobbled path and delighted in the fresh, sweet smell whilst she ran her eyes over every inch of the front of the cottage.

Despite its age, the windows were large and you could tell that the sunlight that shone through those panes of glass would make the interior bright and welcoming. Taking a deep breath she opened the old wooden door and stepped inside.

Within a very short space of time, Meg found herself carefully unwrapping a lifetime of treasures from the boxes that sat expectantly in the various rooms in her new home. Jack as always was eager to help, and despite the insistent interruptions from the collie, Meg made steady progress as she placed objects and pictures in just their right place.

Surprisingly, despite working all day, she felt refreshed and excited as she walked through each room, moving furniture slightly to recreate the image that she had held in her mind for so long. Eventually, she was satisfied and she and Jack turned their attention to the garden at the back of the house that lay basking in early evening sunshine.

The dog, young and excited ran out ahead of Meg and started to race around the immaculate piece of lawn. Flowers crowded the edges around its borders, and as in the front garden, the air was filled with a heady and sweet scent. She walked to the little gate set into a hedge and opened and closed it leaving a frustrated Jack on the other side.

“Good boy, Jack. Stay there; this bit is not for dogs”.

He sat down and watched his owner with head cocked to one side. He wouldn’t move until she returned. They had been parted for too long for him to allow her out of his sight now.

For Meg this was heaven. Row upon row of fresh vegetables, a small green house where she could see ripened tomatoes hanging from their vines, and an established orchard at the end of the plot; trees laden with fruit. For a fleeting moment she wondered why so many of the vegetables and fruit seemed out of season, but she put that down to the fact that this part of the country enjoyed a micro-climate that kept it warmer than the average.

Contentedly she retraced her steps and pushed open the gate separating the two gardens and was rewarded with an ecstatic welcome from Jack as he leapt up and licked her face.
After a simple supper, Meg and Jack sat together on the bench at the front of the house and as her hand gently stroked his head, she absorbed the sounds of the evening. In the background the music of the river accompanied the buzz of insects as they collected their final nectar of the day.

Everything was now perfect. The house waited, as did Meg and Jack for that final, finishing touch. Jack had been waiting the longest. Meg had missed him so much but there had been no choice under the circumstances. As she stroked his head as it rested on her knee, she knew that she had been forgiven for sending him away; now they would be together always. However, there was someone who was still missing. Meg had no idea when Sam would arrive; all she could do when she had left was to promise that she and Jack would be there to welcome him home.

The evening moved into starlit night, and as the moon rose in the sky, it seemed as though time had stopped. Jack’s ears suddenly twitched and he nudged Meg’s knee. She turned her head towards the lane leading to the cottage and she stood, moving down the path to open the gate with the collie at her heels. Jack looked up at her as if asking permission.

Meg nodded and he ran ahead barking excitedly; she hurried after him just as a stooped and elderly man came into view. He was walking with a stick, but when Jack reached him and jumped up and down in excitement, he threw it to one side and went down on one knee to embrace the dog.

Meg slowed and took in the sight of the two beings she loved the most greeting each other. She felt young and giddy just as she had all those years ago when she had first met Sam. Then before her eyes he stood, tall and straight, the years fell away from him and she eagerly fell into his arms and held him as Jack pranced around them in delight.

Eventually, the three of them walked back to the cottage. Meg and Sam hand in hand with Jack walking carefully between them. They turned in the gate and Sam saw their home for the first time.

“I never thought, when you promised to create a place for us all in heaven, that it would be so beautiful”

Smiling, Sam picked his young wife up and carried her over the threshold followed by Jack, tail wagging and barking with encouragement.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009  https://www.amazon.com/Flights-Fancy-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B00M3AV1FS/

 

Smorgasbord Round up – Eagles, Irish Fairies, Opera and thrills and spills.


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Welcome to this week’s round-up of posts you might have missed. It has been a fairly busy week as I prepare for the new series of interviews beginning in March and I am thrilled with the response. Twenty five talented authors, poets, musicians and other creative people have come forward to take part in either Book Reading at the Bookstore or The Creative Artist Interview.

Whilst there are some set questions there are also three personalised questions that I am including in each interview so as you can imagine I am taking my time with that. I hope to have them all out by Monday… It looks like I may go to two posts a week to make sure that nobody is hanging around for weeks waiting for their interview to go live. That being the case if you have not already volunteered.. here is the link which includes the format for the interviews.

Here are all the new promotional opportunities, with something for everyone, all on one page.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-free-author-and-blogger-promotion-2017/

On the subject of promotions.

On the 21st I am off on a girls week with my two sisters to celebrate our three birthdays that are all in February. I will be taking a break from writing posts for the blog but the blog will be handed over to some fabulous and talented members of the blogging community who will be filling in for me in my absence.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/a-little-blog-sitting-requested-february-21st-28th-part-time-position/

I have no worries about leaving the blog for the week to fend for itself but I thought it was another promotional opportunity for you all. As well as the guest post.. I will make sure to top and tail with an intro, feature books, blog, art etc as well as links. Definitely good for the blog and perhaps a little boost for you. Especially as I will not be doing the usual book promotions that week.

If you would like to apply for the job of part-time blog sitter please come back to me by Thursday so that I can get it scheduled in time.

As always I am hugely grateful for your wonderful support, comments, shares and motivation. ♥♥

Enough of the mushy stuff.. and on with the posts from the week…..

Classical music with William Price King

William and his music

So pleased that so many of you are enjoying the last in the classical music series and the story of American soprano Leontyne Price. This week a look at her performances in the 1950s and the bigotry that she endured in her early career.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/classical-music-with-william-price-king-leontyne-price-part-two-star-on-the-rise-2/

Weekly Image and Haiku

I am so lucky to have some wonderful co-hosts on occasion for the blog and one post this week seemed to touch the hearts of many of you. Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photographs has been a blogging friend for the last three years and he sent me some recent photographs of the eagles Romeo and Juliette.. he very kindly agreed to let me use one of the images for this week’s Haiku.. You can see the full sized version in the post.

together-for-lifehttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/weekly-image-and-haiku-together-for-life/

Short Story – After the Festival 

Another collaboration with illustrator Donata Zawdska with After the Festival. I was very privileged to be able to use the artwork for my short story..a new one from my upcoming Tales from the Irish Garden later in the year.. I hope you enjoy.

after-the-festival-1https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/smorgasbord-short-story-tales-from-the-irish-garden-after-the-festival-illustrated-by-donata-zawadzka/

The new interview series if you missed them last week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/new-series-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/new-series-smorgasbord-creative-artist-interview-musicians-bloggers-artists-photographers/

Book Promotions

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-wind-follower-by-carole-mcdonnell/

copertina_inglese_the_annwyns_secret

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-annwyns-secret-by-claudine-giovannoni/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-frank-immersed-a-frank-rozzani-detective-novel-frank-rozzani-detective-novels-book-5-by-don-massenzio/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-golden-age-of-charli-rsvp-by-jena-c-henry/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-sleeping-serpent-by-luna-saint-claire/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-teri-polen-colleen-chesebro-and-sally-cronin/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-amy-m-reade-olga-nunez-miret-and-gigi-sedlemayer/

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Another 25 bloggers promoted this week.

If you would like to be included in the Blogger Daily then just leave a link to your most recent post in the comments section of the round up today..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-6th-february-2017-welsh-chapels-interviews-celebrating-books-and-angry-bird/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-7th-february-2017-share-buttons-reviews-crime-settings-poetry-and-octopus/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-8th-february-2017-dr-dolittle-the-turin-shroud-sexism-politics-and-emotional-beats/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-9th-february-2017-smoking-dickens-leftovers-water-shortages-and-childrens-illustrations/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-10th-february-2017-multi-culturism-drinking-war-correspondent-snow-cream-and-dog-rescue/

Smorgasbord Health – series Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

seasonal-affective-disorderhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-annwyns-secret-by-claudine-giovannoni/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/smorgasbord-health-seasonal-affective-disorder-part-two-vitamin-d-the-sunshine-vitamin/

Smorgasbord health – A – Z of Common Conditions – Lung Cancer.

smorgasbord healthhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/the-lungs-part-five-smoking-and-lungcancer/

Humour and Afternoon Video

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/time-for-some-laffs-and-some-cat-and-dog-views-on-life/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/time-for-some-laffs-from-around-the-usual-haunts/

That is it for another week on Smorgasbord.. Couldn’t do it without you.. Please remember that it saves me time if you volunteer your news about new book releases, fantastic reviews or share your blog post link.. Help me share your work.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  Thanks Sally

New Series – Smorgasbord Creative Artist Interview – Musicians, Bloggers, Artists, Photographers


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Yesterday I posted the new interview series for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore beginning in March and I am delighted to say that I already have ten authors have signed up which is a great start.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/new-series-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview/

The theme is that the interviews are partly interactive with readers asking their questions in the comments section and the person being interviewed answering them there too.

I would like to welcome anyone who is a blogger, musician, artist, poet, photographer, illustrator, book reviewer, book designer or any other creative artist to feel that they are welcome here too.

It is very straightforward.

I just need you to send me your website or blog link by email to sallygcronin@gmail.com

  • I will check out your blog or website and come back to you with some set questions for you to choose from and three personalised questions.
  • You will return these with an example of your work – an extract from your most compelling blog post or short story, an example of your poetry, artwork, photography or a book review. With the reason why you have chosen this piece.
  • I will need your social media links.. in full please.. a bio and bio photograph (if you have one) if they are not on your site.

Once I have received your answers to my questions and the rest of the information I will schedule your post.

I only ask that on the day that it is scheduled that you are available to pop in over the day and the next to answer any questions in the comments.

My first guest in this series is William Price King as it is a while since I caught up with him in an interview and he has done some wonderful gigs and mentored some talented young singers in the last year.. You can find out more about him in his latest series on Classical singers..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Looking forward to adding you to the interview list.  Remember to email me on sallygcronin@gmail.com so that I can send you your five questions.

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Opera, bloggers, authors, health, Haiku and a few laffs


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Welcome to the round up from a blustery and wet Ireland, apart from Saturday morning when we were beguiled into a sense of complacency… still as my husband says there is no such thing as bad weather, just inadequate clothing!

Delighted that the new series are settling in and being enjoyed. I complain enough about the Happiness Engineers ‘fixin’ what ain’t broke’ but I hope that streamlining the promotional series has made it easier for everyone to get some limelight. With the current programme of events.. it means I can promote at least 30 bloggers a week in the Blogger Daily and at least 10 or more authors.

Here are the details… and one is for those of you who are in the Cafe and Bookstore already and another for those who are new to the blog.. For bloggers and writers across the board there is the Blogger Daily. And for those of you have contributed to an anthology there is a way to give the book a boost.

Check it out.. The only cost is a little of your time.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-free-author-and-blogger-promotion-2017/

My thanks as always to everyone who has contibuted including William Price King.. we finished the series on Dame Kiri Te Kanawa this week and move to the last in this season of classical artists with American soprano Leontyne Price.  Following that series William will be looking at the lives and work of some of the most popular of contemporary artists such as Shirley Bassey.

I have been working on my own writing projects and should be able to do a cover reveal in the week.. and work begins on the next volume of Tales from the Garden…let’s hope they dont’ proof to be too waterlogged.

Thank you for all your support and for dropping in.. You are always very welcome to contribute a post as a guest..just get in touch with me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Have a great week.  Hugs Sally

Classical music with William Price King

The last part of the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa series.. Thankfully we will be able to hear this fabulous soprano in the future as long as she continues to delight her audiences with concert performances.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/classical-music-with-william-price-king-dame-kiri-te-kanawa-part-three/

Book Promotions – Cafe and Bookstore Author Update

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-gigi-sedlmayer-karen-ingalls-and-kristina-stanley/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-nicholas-c-rossis-lori-lopez-and-fiona-tarr/

Book Promotions Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-50-ways-to-alleviate-boredom-by-mary-c-blowers/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-chase-tinker-and-the-house-of-magic-by-malia-ann-haberman/

Book Promotions – Collaborative Anthologies.

run-ebook-coverhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-collaborative-anthologies-run-a-collection-of-dark-tales/

Blog promotions

If you would like to join these bloggers who featured this week in the Blogger Daily then all you have to do is leave a link to your lates post in the comment section.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-23rd-january-2017-psychics-promotion-reviews-and-fairy-stories/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/blogger-daily-24th-january-2017-pizza-horror-weather-bunnies-and-author-etiquette/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-25th-january-2017-competition-100000-sales-drama-and-scammers/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-26th-january-2017-patience-awards-inspirations-revenge-and-a-party/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-27th-january-2017/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-28th-january-2017-barking-mad-furry-dudes-writing-conference-writing-flow-and-beta-readers/

Health

Smorgasbord Health 2017The last post in the Weight Reduction Programme with some meal options to help you stay on track

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/smorgasbord-health-2017-weight-reduction-some-meal-options/

dsc_1737The dynamics of change.. the voluntary and involuntary changes to our body, mind and emotions as we develop from birth to old age.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/smorgasbord-health-the-dynamics-of-change-part-one-our-physical-being/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/smorgasbord-health-the-dynamics-of-change-our-mental-being/

smorgasbord A - Z

The first part of four on the subject of the most common cancers – Breast Cancer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/smorgasbord-health-a-z-of-common-conditions-breast-cancer/

Personal stuff

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Kathleen must face the future and move on with her life.. but at what cost?

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/smorgasbord-short-stories-the-first-date-by-sally-cronin/

Weekly Image and Haiku

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/weekly-image-and-haiku-secret-door/

Humour

teeth

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/smorgasbord-time-for-some-laffs-out-of-the-mouth-of-babes/

test-friday

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/time-for-some-laffs-or-groans-it-is-pun-day/

Thanks for dropping by.. don’t forget to leave the link to your latest blog post so that I can share.  Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – The First Date by Sally Cronin


short-stories-twoThe First Date

Kathleen viewed her face in the mirror. She sighed as she observed the crow’s feet at the corner of her eyes. They said it was a sign of character and a sunny personality; crease lines from a life of laughter. That could be said to be true of most of the last twenty-five years of marriage to Malcolm. Rarely did a day go by that he had not teased her into a smile or offered up a pun that made her laugh despite the corniness.

It was not just the laughter that they had shared, but passions for theatre, the cinema, books and exotic foods. There was so little that they disagreed about over the years. Kathleen struggled to remember any real arguments that had intruded into the happiness that wrapped around them like a comforting blanket.

They had travelled far and wide across all the continents taking advantage of his generous salary and the occasional business trips that she accompanied him on. The scents and sights of Africa and India had thrilled them as they held hands and watched glorious sunsets. The rugged terrain of Alaska and the Rockies had tested their stamina and the deep blue colour of the Pacific Ocean had beguiled them. A storehouse of experiences all accompanied by love and laughter and a sense that it would last forever. They had never had children unfortunately, but Malcolm claimed to be happy to just have her all to himself.

But suddenly all that love and laughter was gone and the years together faded into wisps of elusive memory as each day passed. Those friends that she had confided in about her grief and emptiness had offered advice and support for the last six months. They all assured her that was time to face the future head on. She needed to accept that she could not wallow in this self-pity and denial any longer.

She had laughed to herself when she first saw the website that Molly had pointed out to her one morning as they shared coffee in the village just after Christmas. An online dating agency that proudly boasted a near perfect record of finding your soulmate; that one person meant just for you. Molly had been on the site for nearly a year and she had certainly pushed the boundaries of those claims to the limit; she had kept their small circle of mutual friends very entertained with her experiences.

She had brought up the site on her laptop and Kathleen had sat beside her, browsing the various enticements offered by the men posting. Her eye had been immediately drawn to one post that Molly had marked. She read the words to herself, and then again aloud to fully understand what she was seeing. She had believed for so long that Malcolm was the one and only perfect match for her that she was shocked and intrigued at the same time.

Single, tall, fun loving and handsome 55 year old seeks long term relationship with attractive female 30 – 45 years old. Must have a good sense of humour, enjoy the theatre, cinema, fine dining and travelling to exotic locations. Located in London but willing to travel to meet. Box Number 1596

She had looked over at Molly to share her amazement and found her staring down at her hands cupped around the coffee cup.

“Is something the matter Molly?” Kathleen was unused to Molly being subdued and quiet.

Slowly Molly looked up from her cappucino and smiled fondly at her friend.

“I was going to meet this guy for dinner but changed my mind when I saw him sitting at the table in the restaurant,” she paused and looked through the cafe window as if trying to choose her words carefully. “I know how much you still love Malcolm, but I think that it is time that you faced the reality of your situation and look to the future.”

Molly tapped the advertisement on the screen with her immaculately manicured nail. “You need to arrange to meet this man and confront your fear of losing everything you have treasured from the past.”

The two women parted company outside the cafe and Kathleen drove home to the empty house that she had shared with Malcolm for so many years. It was far too big for the two of them especially when he had been away on business trips alone leaving her for several weeks at a time. She had hoped at one point to fill the rooms with children’s laughter, but somehow it was never the right time for one reason or another.

Kathleen knew that Molly was right. She could no longer hide away from life; she needed to face the future whatever it held. She rang her friend’s mobile number and asked her to come over the next morning to help her upload a profile to the site to enable her to respond to the advertisement.

So here she was, getting ready for her first date in over twenty-five years with a man called Andrew. When her own profile had been activated, she had replied to the box number in his advertisement and over the next week they had exchanged a number of emails via the site. Although he was eager to know more about her, Kathleen had been reticient to offer her personal email or too much information until she met him face to face.

She had changed her mind several times about what to wear for this first encounter, finally deciding to wear a new dress she had bought on a whim a few weeks ago. Malcolm had always insisted she looked perfect in pastel colours and this daring emerald green number would have certainly provoked some comment. She had also been to a new hairdresser this morning and requested a radical new look. Gone was the long auburn hair that Malcolm said suited her best; in its stead was a sleek blonde shoulder length bob.

Finally she stood in front of the long mirror in their bedroom and viewed the transformation. Kathleen took several moments to get used to the new image and then smiled as she decided that she liked it. Picking up a colourful floral scarf to put around her shoulders and grabbing her handbag, she walked down to the kitchen to order a taxi.

She deliberately arrived at the restaurant fifteen minutes early and was shown to a discreet table in the corner. Kathleen could not remember when she had been this nervous and sipped the water provided by the waiter when he left the two menus. She kept glancing at the door of the restaurant apprehensively. She knew that Andrew would have to ask directions to the table as he would not recognise her, particularly in the dimly lit room. On the table to the right of her place setting was a bulky envelope. Andrew in one of his recent emails had suggested that she might bring some photographs of the places that she had visited on her trips and that he would do likewise. A talking point to break the ice.

Closing her eyes she took a deep breath and tried to calm her nerves. When she opened them again she saw a tall, good looking man standing in the entrance to the dining area. He managed to get the attention of one of the waiters who then pointed out Kathleen sitting in the corner table. He walked confidently across with a warm smile on his face until he stood in front of her. Andrew looked into her eyes and he gasped.

“Hello Malcolm.” Kathleen attempted to keep the quiver out of her voice. ” I see that you are not at the New York head office after all this week. Please sit down as we have a great deal to talk about.” Taken aback by his usually complacent wife’s new look and the rigid set of her mouth, he complied ungraciously; flinging his coat on the back of one of the chairs. She pushed the envelope across the table towards him and as his fingers closed over the bulky package she smiled sadly.

“Perhaps we should start by discussing these divorce papers.”

©sallycronin What’s in Name 2017

I hope that you have enjoyed my story … your feedback is always very welcome.  Thanks Sally

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – New Year’s Eve by Sally Cronin


short-stories-twoNew Year’s Eve by Sally Cronin

Kenneth Fitzgerald looked across the crowded ballroom at the woman that he had loved for a lifetime. Georgina was surrounded by attentive male admirers, and was holding court as she always did, with elegance and grace. He watched as she tilted her head to one side to listen to the young man sitting next to her, cupping her hand delicately behind her ear, to better hear his comments over the sound of the band.

The handsome companion was her grandson Timothy, and even at first glance you could see the resemblance; the same blue eyes, golden hair colour and a long refined nose. Georgie was 90 years old and yet her beauty was undiminished. Kenneth knew he was biased. He remembered his stunned reaction to meeting her for the first time over 70 years ago, in this same ballroom on New Year’s Eve 1935.

Georgina Crowley was the daughter of a millionaire financier who had managed to survive the Wall Street crash in 1929, by converting his wealth in previous years, into a renowned art collection. Malcolm Crowley was an astute businessman and had never squandered his money on the trappings of wealth. He had also salted away cash and jewellery on his various international travels, providing a comfortable buffer for the family, and those that had worked for him loyally over the last thirty years.

He was as canny with his three children as he was with his wealth. His two sons had followed him into the firm after studying for business degrees , and Georgina had also been encouraged to go to college, where she was now training to be a teacher. Malcolm firmly believed that all his children should have skills that could support them, should the financial climate not improve significantly in his lifetime. That is not to say that his youngest child did not also enjoy the benefits of being part of a wealthy family. Georgina was known to have exquisite taste, and her slim figure was the perfect shape to model the latest fashions. To be fair, many of the designs were copied from the leading fashion magazines, and recreated on her treasured Singer sewing machine

Kenneth brought himself back to the present and felt his heart pounding in his chest. It was the same every year, when he remembered that first New Year’s Eve, when he had fallen madly in love at first sight with Georgina Crowley. It had not been a one-sided infatuation, and at that first touch of her delicate hand in his own, he had felt a tremor that caused him to look up into her face. Her pink lips had parted in surprise and her smile dazzled him.

They had danced all night circling the floor; perfectly matched in their love of the foxtrot and quickstep. The other partygoers had moved to one side to watch this golden couple as they seamlessly moved from one dance to another. Even Malcolm Crowley paused in his discussions with a group of men, to watch his daughter’s delight in this young man’s embrace.

Kenneth had wanted to kiss those pink lips at midnight but was aware of the scrutiny from those around them. He had whispered in Georgina’s ear as they waltzed to the final tune of the old year.

‘Shall we slip away at midnight and find some moon and starlight?’

She had looked into his eyes and smiled, nodding her head in agreement.

As the clock struck midnight, Georgina rushed to her parents at their table and kissed and hugged them both. In the ensuing melee, as the other guests did likewise, the two of them had slipped out of the large double doors at the end of the ballroom. Kenneth had guided her to his car parked along the drive. He grabbed a blanket from the back seat of the roadster and placed it around Georgina’s shoulders before helping her into the front seat. He raced around to the other side of the car and within minutes they were roaring down the hill from the house into the dark night.

Kenneth drove carefully as the road was slick with ice and he was aware that he was responsible for a very precious cargo. Although it was a cold night he knew just the place to take Georgina on this magical occasion. A spot high above the city, where the lights and sounds of New Year’s Eve would provide a backdrop for their first kiss.

He looked across at Georgina as she clasped the plaid blanket around her bare shoulders, and smiled at her obvious delight at this adventure. His eyes were only off the road for seconds, but it was still long enough for him to miss the broken down car around a curve in the road.

He regained consciousness and raised his hand to his forehead; it came away wet and sticky. He wiped blood from his eyes and tried to move his body. Finally he was able to push himself into a sitting position against the upturned roadster and he desperately looked for Georgina. The moon came out from behind a cloud and he took a sharp intake of breath as he saw her crumpled form by the rear bumper of the car. He crawled across and managed to pull her crushed and lifeless body into his arms… his heart was pounding in his chest and he tried to wake her by touching her face and calling her name. After several minutes he rested his head back against the car and he knew that she was gone.

‘Please, please do not take her … it is my fault and it should be me… take me… please take me and save her.’

On New Year’s Day, Georgie asked her youngest grandson to drive her to the cemetery. She came here often to visit her husband’s grave. Phillip had been a wonderful man and she had grown to love him during the long summer of 1942. They had twin sons born in 1944 but tragically Phillip had been killed in the last weeks of the war. He had been brought home and buried in the Crowley family plot close by her house and their sons.  She still missed his loving kindness.  However, she admitted to herself that it was a different kind of love to the one that has swept her off her feet that magical New Year’s Eve in 1935.

Whilst her grandson watched from the car, Georgina spent some minutes at Phillip’s monument. Then walking carefully, leaning on her stick, she moved down the icy path until she stopped before another gravestone. Tears gathered in her pale blue eyes as she read the inscription.

Kenneth Fitzgerald
Beloved son and brother.
1910 – 1935
Killed in an automobile accident.

It was 70 years ago, and yet every New Year’s Day, Georgie relived those dreadful first moments when she had woken in the hospital. She had a dreadful headache but thankfully didn’t seem to have any other major injuries. Her mother and father were sitting by her bedside and Malcolm gently took her hand in his. Her first words were asking for Kenneth, and she still remembered the look of anguish on her father’s face as he braced himself to tell her the news.

She touched the top of the headstone and smiled to herself. He had been there again last night at the family ball, watching from the shadows as he had done every year, and she had felt that same giddy feeling as that first New Year’s Eve. She suspected that this time however it was more likely that her medication was no longer effective in keeping her failing heart beating.

She felt a touch on her shoulder and looked up into the smiling face of her grandson.

‘Time to go Gran.. It is getting cold and I need to get you back home.’

Georgie took his arm and they moved carefully up the path. She turned for one last look at Kenneth’s grave.

She whispered to herself. ‘Next year my love, next year we will dance again together on New Year’s Eve.’

 

 

©sallycronin 2016