Trying to Avoid Grandma #ItsSixSentenceStoryThursdayLinkup #Excerpts #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Six-Sentence Story Thursday Link Up. This week’s word is “lost.” Here’s a six-sentence excerpt from my latest book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me.

It’s Halloween night, and the nursing home, where sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother lives, is having a party. Children are invited to trick-or-treat. Residents are given candy to hand out, and staff and volunteers facilitate games for the children. In this scene, Natalie is trying unsuccessfully to get out of taking her ten-year-old sister there, since their grandmother no longer recognizes Natalie. As the scene opens, the family is at the dinner table, and Natalie’s mother is talking to Sarah about the party.

***

“I can’t guarantee they’ll have butterscotch, but I’m sure they’ll have other flavors you like.”

Sarah brightened, and Mom said, “Natalie, you promised yesterday. Please? After tonight, I promise you’ll never have to see your grandmother again.”

I looked to Dad for more help, but he only shrugged. “Whatever,” I said, turning my attention to my spaghetti, although I’d lost my appetite.

***

Thanks to Girlie on the Edge for inspiring the above with her six-sentence prompt for this week. You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ six-sentence creations. If you live in the United States, I hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

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New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Visitation #Friday Fun Reads #Fiction

Carrie was fourteen years old and lived in an apartment with her mother in New York City. A year earlier, her father wandered into traffic one night while drunk and was killed by an oncoming bus.

He hadn’t always been drunk. Carrie remembered many times as a child when he picked her up after school while between jobs and took her to the park where they flew homemade kites, and he pushed her on the swings and waited for her at the bottom of the slide. When she joined a softball league at school, he bought her a used glove, ball, and bat and showed her how to pitch, catch and throw. He occasionally took her for ice cream.

As she grew older, his drinking bouts increased in frequency. He rarely took her places after school and was hardly ever home when she went to bed. She often found him sleeping on the couch in the morning.

Her mother, Dianna, constantly berated him. He kept saying he was sorry, that he would stop drinking and get a job and keep it. He never quit drinking, and he never kept a job for long.

Dianna worked as a secretary at a Baptist church. Carrie was used to getting by on the meager salary her mother received. Most of the time, it was their only source of income, barely enough to pay the rent on their small, shabby apartment, let alone buy food.

On the night Carrie’s father died, when he didn’t come home for supper, her mother packed his clothes and other items in a box that she left outside the apartment door with a note. He never claimed his belongings.

During the following year, Carrie and her mother were forced to move to an even smaller, shabbier apartment, and Carrie had to switch schools. Dianna threw herself into the many projects at the church to help those in need. These took up a lot of her time, and Carrie was often left to fend for herself when she wasn’t in school. She didn’t attempt to make friends because the squalor where she lived embarrassed her, and she never kept in touch with kids she knew from her previous school.

One day after school, she boarded the bus, resigned to yet another evening alone with the cockroaches and leaking roof. She hated riding buses, since her father was killed by one, but on this cold Halloween evening, it was getting dark, and she didn’t want to walk alone at night. As she’d done many times, she’d stayed after classes to study in the library where it was warm. Now, as the sky gradually darkened, she found a seat in the back of the crowded bus and stared out the window at people and buildings, as it bumped along, stopping every so often to pick up and drop off passengers.

Someone sat next to her. A hand fell on her knee, and a familiar voice said, “Hey sweet pea.”

She jumped and turned to see a man who looked just like her father, wearing baggy blue jeans and his favorite plaid shirt, the clothes he wore the day he died. She detected no acrid stench of booze but a whiff of the cologne he wore when he was sober. Thinking he was just another pervert who happened to look, smell, and sound like her father, she turned back toward the window. “I know you don’t believe it’s me, princess, but it is,” he said, taking her hand.

Princess, that was one of the many names he called her. “Leave me alone,” she said, jerking her hand away and moving closer to the window. People turned and stared, and she wondered why.

“Honey, nobody can see me. I’m a ghost.”

“You’re nuts,” she said, turning back to him.

“So are you,” said a man across the aisle.

This couldn’t be real, she thought, as her face grew hot, and she stared at the man sitting next to her. She shook her head and blinked several times. “Carrie, you’re not going to get rid of me that easily.”

She turned back toward the window. She was nowhere near her stop, but she had to get off this bus now. Without a word, she reached for the bell to signal the driver to stop. The man’s hand shot up and grabbed hers. “You’ll have a long walk home if you get off now, bug-a-boo.”

How did he know where her new home was? This was ridiculous. “Besides, sweet pea, you really don’t want to go back to that fucking apartment with those god damned roaches, do you?”

Carrie smiled in spite of herself. She always thought it funny when her father used such colorful language when talking about things that didn’t appeal to her.

“Now that’s what I like,” he said. “a smile from my little girl.”

She looked around, wondering if she could move to another seat, but they were all taken. “Honey, I know I haven’t been the best of fathers lately, but I’m clean now. I haven’t touched a drop of liquor since last year, and I won’t ever again. I’m going to make it up to you. From now on, we’re going to have the best of times, just you and me.”

Just you and me? What did he mean? Was she going to die right here and now? She remembered something her mother said. The preacher at the Baptist church believed that people like her father went to Hell, a place that was always on fire, where there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. Was that where her father was taking her? She pictured herself being consumed by ugly, yellow flames.

“No, I don’t want to go to Hell,” she screamed, trying to stand and pull herself away from him.

He squeezed her hand. “It’s gonna be okay, honey. Daddy’s right here.”

He said those exact words the night her appendix nearly ruptured when she was seven, as she lay in the emergency room, tears streaming down her face, gripped by pain. He told her everything would be all right, and it eventually was. It was one of few kept promises.

A squeal of breaks brought her back to the present. She felt a jarring crash, then nothing.

***

The above appears in the Samhain edition of The Writer’s Grapevine, a magazine featuring stories, poems, articles, and news by authors and business owners who are clients of TELL-IT-TO-THE-WORLD Marketing. You can read past issues here and subscribe by sending a blank email to:  writersgv+subscribe@groups.io  This story was also published several years ago in Magnets and Ladders, another magazine, featuring work by disabled authors.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Celebrating Halloween #Wednesday Words

Growing up in Tucson, Arizona, during the 1960’s I went all out for Halloween. At the state school for the deaf and blind, where I endured the first five and a half years of my education due to my visual impairment, we dressed up and went from classroom to classroom trick-or-treating. We sometimes had a party.

At home, my mother dressed me up and took me around the neighborhood and to the homes of friends, where I collected candy, which I never ate. My favorite Halloween activity, though, was handing out treats to others who came to our door.

When I was twelve in 1973, we moved here to Sheridan, Wyoming. Often, by Halloween, snow was on the ground, and, at night, it was too cold to wear more than masks when going out trick-or-treating. None of the schools here had any festivities that I can recall.

I outgrew trick-or-treating. My parents were no longer interested in accompanying me, and my night vision wasn’t that good. So, I preferred to stay home and hand out treats.

When I was in the eighth grade, our church’s youth group hosted a Halloween party for the younger kids. I decided to dress up as a witch, and my paternal grandmother loaned me one of her dark wigs, which I wore with a mask and long dress.

My attire scared some of the little ones, who weren’t used to people wearing masks. Otherwise, the party was fun. I played music on a chord organ to accompany a cake walk, which the kids seemed to enjoy.

When I was a student at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, during the 1980’’s, my choir put on a haunted house one year to raise money. This time, I was Grandma Kimball, not necessarily a witch but apparently not a nice old lady, either. I wore a gray wig with a black skirt and sweater and sat in a rocker. When people came into the room, I gave an evil cackle. Again, I scared a few little ones, but I suppose that was all in a night’s work.

During the fifteen years I was a registered music therapist in a nursing home, the facility had a Halloween party every year. Children from the community were invited to trick-or-treat and play games. I wore a variety of costumes and performed various functions such as directing traffic and providing music for a cake walk.

One year, we had a haunted house, and I volunteered to conceal myself inside a box and stick my hand out the top from time to time in an attempt to scare anyone walking by. I don’t remember what costume I wore, and I’m normally not claustrophobic, but after about twenty minutes in that box with little air, I was sweating and having difficulty breathing. I stuck it out as long as I could until finally, in desperation, I leapt free of the box with a mighty cry, which, I think, scared everyone more than just my hand popping out every once in a while.

After I got married, my late husband Bill enjoyed watching me hand out treats to the neighborhood kids. After he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side, he couldn’t do that himself.

We didn’t have many kids, but that didn’t matter to him. Every year, during the six years I cared for him at home, he insisted that I buy a huge bag of Halloween candy and hand things out to the few kids who came to our door. Then, he ate the rest.

Now that Bill’s gone, I don’t celebrate Halloween. Since I don’t eat candy, I don’t see the sense in buying it, only to have maybe one or two trick-or-treaters. I lock my doors, make sure my outside lights aren’t on, and do what I normally do in the evenings: read a book or magazine, listen to podcasts, or watch a movie. That’s what I’ll do this year.

I was recently inspired to write a young adult novel by a quote from Erma Bombeck. “Your grandmother pretends not to know you on Halloween.” Having worked with nursing home residents suffering from dementia, I’ve come to this conclusion. Your grandmother may not be pretending not to know you any time of the year. The working title is Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, and I’m hoping to publish it next year. So, stay tuned.

***

What about you? How did you celebrate Halloween when you were growing up? What will you do this year during this time of uncertainty imposed by the coronavirus?

Thanks to this week’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt from Stevie Turner for inspiring the above. You can learn how to participate by clicking here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Website  Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Glorious Fruit and Pumpkin #Tuesday Tidbit #Poetry

I’m not a fan of fruit dishes. Sure, I’ll eat cherry, apple, or peach pie or cobbler if it’s offered to me, but they’re not my favorites, and forget smoothies!

I prefer straight fruit: fresh bananas and frozen strawberries and peaches from Schwan. I sometimes eat canned fruit if fresh or frozen isn’t available, but I understand fresh and frozen fruit are more healthful.

I also don’t particularly care for pumpkin. I can tolerate its taste in pies, but the smell often reminds me of times when I was a kid and had to clean out the inside of a pumpkin before it was carved for Halloween.

The following poem explains how things came to a head between a pumpkin and me. The poem was published several years ago in Magnets and Ladders. You can click the Play button below to hear me read it.

Halloween SICKNESS

 

In the fifth grade classroom,

topless pumpkins sit on our desks.

Still recovering from stomach flu,

while others laugh and chatter over their pumpkins,

I grit my teeth,

stick my hands inside mine, grasp slimy innards.

The stench fills the air.

“Please, may I go to the bathroom?” I ask.

“I have to throw up.”

“No,” the teacher answers.

“You need to finish your pumpkin.”

My stomach heaves, mouth opens.

Amid exclamations of disgust from classmates,

the pumpkin, desk, floor, teacher

are soon covered with my own innards.

How about you? What kind of fruit do you like? Are you a fan of pumpkin, especially during this time of year?

The above is in response to Stevie Turner’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt for this week. If you’d like to participate, click here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Halloween Sickness #Poetry

With Halloween just around the corner, here’s a poem I wrote that was published in this month’s issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, a publication of Tell It to the World Marketing. You can click on the title to hear me read it. I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween.

***

Halloween SICKNESS

 

 

In the fifth grade classroom,

topless pumpkins sit on our desks.

Still recovering from stomach flu,

while others laugh and chatter over their pumpkins,

I grit my teeth,

stick my hands inside mine, grasp slimy innards.

The stench fills the air.

 

“Please, may I go to the bathroom?” I ask.

“I have to throw up.”

 

“No,” the teacher answers.

“You need to finish your pumpkin.”

 

My stomach heaves, mouth opens.

Amid exclamations of disgust from my classmates,

the pumpkin, desk, floor, teacher

are covered with my own innards.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.