Bemused~~John Nedwill

I was in the bathroom getting ready for work when she walked in. “Hey!” she said and sat down on the toilet. I grabbed for a towel to cover myself up.

“Don’t you knock?” I asked, trying to make up for lost dignity with indignation.

“No,” she said. “You know I don’t. Now, I’ve got an idea that I’d like to discuss with you.”

I waved my foam-covered toothbrush at her. “Can’t it wait? I’m a bit busy right now.”

She sighed and stood up. “Alright. I’ll catch you later.”

And, with that, she vanished.

The next time she showed up was when I was on my morning commute. I was in my car, waiting for the lights ahead of me to change. She walked up to my car, opened the passenger door and got in. “We need to talk,” she said. “About this idea of ours – remember?”

“I remember.” I drummed my fingers on the car’s steering wheel. “It’s just it’s a bit awkward right now. Can we – ?” I was interrupted by someone in queue behind me sounding their horn, letting me know that the traffic light had turned from red to green.

“Later?” she asked in a disappointed tone, then vanished.

Later turned out to be when I was sitting in a meeting. The room was full of too many bodies, giving off too much heat as the Chief Engineer droned on about quality assurance and budgets. My attention was drifting, so I didn’t notice it when she let herself into the room.

“Can you get out of this?” she whispered in my ear. I shook my head. “Not even if there’s an urgent appointment you just remembered?” I shook my head again. “You’re no fun.”

I didn’t see her again until much later. I was in bed, asleep, when I was woken by somebody shaking me. “Good,” she announced as I turned on the light. “I’ve got you all to myself.”

I fumbled for my glasses and looked at the clock beside the bed. It was after midnight. “You want to talk about your idea. Now?”

She gave me a grin that was full of teeth and mischief. “Yes, I do. And I’m not going to let you sleep until we’ve sorted it out.”

“Fine.” I levered myself up and searched for the pen and notebook that I had left on the floor by my bed. “Where shall we start?”


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Praise to Raise~~Christine Larsen

Dear Mum,

It all began outside the back door admiring the growth of our tomato plant – once again planted in the same spot. Ten years in a row now. It’s totally against best advice from experts, but even they might reconsider if they saw the stunning results, year after year. It’s probably due to the North-facing wall soaking up all the sunshine during the afternoon and staying warm for much of the night.

But you know me, Mum – always choosing an alternative view, especially if there’s a touch of mysticism about it. I love imagining those tomato plants grow so well due to all the attention they always get from everyone who comes to our door and find themselves unable to resist a comment about the glorious size and beauty of the current plant. And that thought centred all my thoughts on you.

Do you remember that quite fabulous daisy bush at the back door of our dairy farmhouse? Uhrr, did I say bush?… more like a small tree. As if you could ever forget those armfuls (or more accurately, bucketfuls) we would pick for you to take back to the city after another of your little farm getaways.

What a picture you made, sitting in the back of our car with a mass of daisies seemingly sprouting out of the floor around your knees. We often debated who had the brightest face – you, or any one of those white beauties with their cheerful yellow centres.

How your neighbours in the block of elderly citizen’s units loved to be given a share, along with fresh milk and parsley and farm-fresh eggs. Like a breath of fresh country wafting into the city, they said, stirring many faraway and long-forgotten memories. For some, it was farm holidays when they were young enough to embrace every moment, every chore. For others pleasant picnic outings into hills or rural surrounds.

But I’m wandering off the subject. Back to the daisy ‘tree’ at our door. How often, as we harvested our generous bounty, would we talk about the amazing growth and size of those glorious blooms? And chat about my belief that the constant praise of visitors was the reason for the spectacular growth – as though that bush preened and grew some more, just to prove worthy of its admirers.

When I heard of research proving human praise promotes plant growth to an unbelievable degree – and when we were appreciating our flourishing tomato plant, I smiled as I remembered that daisy bush. My imagination took flight, thinking how absolutely this applies to the human race.

Even the tiniest of babies – human or animal – respond incredibly in growth, both physically and emotionally, in an atmosphere of loving approval and caring calm. Constant kind talk and gestures of approval build a degree of self-respect and esteem that can rarely be seriously dented in that child’s future.

I came full-circle to wonder if you ever knew what a gift you and Dad gave me. I don’t think so. You both simply mirrored and magnified your own happy nurturing, without thought or deliberation. I think being who I am is a testament to you both – but especially you, Mum. We had so many more years together than I had with dearest Dad.

Many desire or imagine lost parents as Guardian Angels, hovering near, always watching and protecting. I have a different view, Mum. I see you and Dad free of ALL earthly cares, never looking down to witness much that would cause you pain when compared to the world you knew.

This was what you strengthened me for with your love and unswerving belief in me; to face my own battles with courage and a stoic belief in myself and my own abilities. I am the epitome of the saying,

what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’

… thanks to you!

Love always,

Christine


OMP Admin Note: Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:
ceedee moodling (Christine’s website)
Christine Larsen, Author


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Head Elsewhere~~Mark Huntley-James

Wherever I am, my head is often elsewhere – a book I’m reading, a film I’ve just watched, and most often completely else, strolling through a story I might try to write. Pay attention, watch what you’re doing, keep your eyes peeled… sorry, no-one in at the moment, please leave a message after the daydream.

This particular train of thought started when I was digging a hole – not metaphorically, but literally, with a spade, moving dirt from A to B, flat ground transformed to lump and matching dip. The aim of the hole digging was planting a tree, but for most of the time my head was elsewhere – not entirely healthy with a sharp-edged tool so close to my toes, and at some point it occurred to me that not only was my attention elsewhere but that this is almost my default state. Doing the laundry, loading the dishwasher, brushing my teeth, or planting a few hundred meters of hedgerow – it doesn’t matter where I am, it’s where my head is that matters.

I am never really alone when my head is elsewhere. Whole worlds open up, wondrous characters drop by for a chat or, on a bad day, the most fantastical bore leans on the door frame to talk me into hell. I could go back to reality, but seriously, is that any better? And what might I miss if I do come back early? Even a fantastical bore has a place in a story, perhaps even a central place depending on the tale. It’s tempting to think that head elsewhere is an essential mindset for being an author, although my suspicion is more that I am an author because my head so readily tours elsewhere.

However, I am not alone in being not alone when I’m on my own… Let me rephrase: I am convinced that I have known similar people over the years. There is a certain look and feel to them – the lights are on, someone is in, but you don’t knock on the door because you just know they are in conference with the aliens, translating Mum’s recipes from the original goblin, or disposing of a body (and there’s always room for a second one). This is only speculation, mind you, because I’ve never dared approach one of these potentially kindred voyagers and pop the question: excuse me, but is that your head, or is it elsewhere?

It’s tempting to think of the strange virtual world of the web as being elsewhere, but it’s not. Online is a different group reality, full of social communities or wild groups shouting at each other in ferocious arguments safe in the knowledge that they don’t have to look each other in the eye. Roving elsewhere, on the other hand, is a solitary exploration, no matter how densely populated elsewhere might be.

The thing about elsewhere is that it’s my fake reality. I like it there and I don’t take guests. Being an author means I that might then write about the places my head has been, either carefully sanitised (cleaned for general consumption and the really nutty bits removed) or in toe-curling detail because I feel like it and want to see eyes go wide, but whether I report it light or heavy no-one ever sees the full scope of my journey.

A few years back, on a drive home from Plymouth, in the dark (my wife was driving) I had an idea. It wasn’t much, but night driving needs concentration and, with no conversation, my head went elsewhere. I kicked the idea around, decided that it was growing on me, and wrote a story, told it to myself while I was elsewhere, edited it in my head, told it again, ran it by a receptive hedgerow. The trouble with having your head elsewhere is that even the worst drivel can sound good, but the next day I wrote it down as well as I could recall, toned down the crazy, changed the names to protect the insolent and won first place in a writing competition. Yay for me, but don’t think for one moment that the published story is really what happened when my head went wandering. It just wrote the bits that made a good story, edited for decency and skipping over the dull bits, and leaving out the embarrassing conversation with… Never mind. That’s for another story.

It’s a private business being elsewhere, full of technicolour wonder and companionship, so absorbing you can get lost for hours, only summoned back by those unstoppable forces of nature such as that cry in the distance the cat is eating your lunch, or the old-fashioned dial-up line back to reality that sends the occasional alert such as spade incoming, move your foot now.

Elsewhere. You can’t beat it, and there is so much to see. You ought to at least visit, perhaps get a season pass, and explore the boundless oddities. If you’ve got a minute I could give you some pointers to the best sights…

Sorry. Have to go. Reality calling. It’s time to put the chickens away.

My head will probably be in some other elsewhere by the time I get back. Maybe see you there. A more interesting you, of course, but that’s the nature of elsewhere.


OMP Admin Note: Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.

He has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC ) and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS ) – and is working on a third.

He can be found online at his blog http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

The Words No One Wants to Hear

The Words No One Wants to Hear

If you ask almost anyone what is the one thing you don’t want as your diagnosis, a large percentage will say, “Cancer.” In the hospital, we simply referred to it as ‘CA’. Over the years, I’ve watched patients deal with their new diagnosis or the return of the dreaded disease in another part of their body just when they believed they’d won the fight.

It is a fight. A battle against mutated cells generated in our own bodies that overpower our immune systems and sometimes even destroying the body’s ability to build the white blood cells needed to combat diseases. It can hitch a ride using our bloodstream or lymphatic system to travel throughout our bodies.

It is a terrible enemy without mercy attacking young and old alike. I hate cancer. I want to see it made as innocuous as polio is now.

My family has — and is — dealing with cancer. And wouldn’t you think having been a nurse for over 30 years, I’d be immune to its ability to wound my heart and soul. The answer is no. Even in the hospital setting, I remember heading to the bathroom, running water and flushing the toilet repeatedly to hide my sobs when I couldn’t deal with the hurt and pain I’d witnessed moments before.

I’m old enough to remember when people would whisper the word ‘cancer’ as if saying it aloud may bring bad luck. Back in the mid-twentieth century, it was often a death sentence. Today, modern advances in treatments and surgical procedures have reduced mortality rates for many forms of cancer.

It is a good feeling to personally know so many long-term survivors of breast cancer and other cancers among my family and friends. I can only pray I would be as strong and appear as fearless as my loved ones if I would be diagnosed with CA.

This is why I support the One Million Project’s efforts to raise money for Cancer Research UK (CRUK).  Their research has aided in helping develop treatments such as immunotherapy to specifically target cancer cells throughout the body and reduce the ill effects other types of cancer treatments have had on surrounding healthy cells during the treatment process.


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers and in the One Million Project Fiction Anthology. Her books EXODUS  and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KUKTYFQ

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

https://www.katemcginn.com/

No Time Like Now — by Michele Potter

No Time Like Now — by Michele Potter

Well, this week another friend passed away from rotten miserable cancer. I hadn’t seen her for quite a while but kept in contact through social media. A little over a month ago, she notified everyone that she had stage 4 liver cancer. She didn’t ask for anything, as was her usual, just that everyone knew and would think about her.

I wish I had gone to see her and talk to her one more time.

Regrets, we all have a few. For everyone I have known who has passed away too soon, I have regrets: that I didn’t visit, I didn’t do this or that, I made excuses, etc. And now they’re gone, and procrastination won’t help a bit. Too little, too late. And here I am feeling sorry for myself instead of having empathy for her family. Someone kick me, please.

I suppose as I get older (which is a better alternative than not having any more birthdays!), this scenario will play out even more frequently. And, at some point, it will be my turn to share the bad news. I’m hoping to just pass away quietly in my sleep after I reach the 100-year mark, but we don’t always get what we want, do we? Perhaps I should get my affairs in order, so to speak. But then what? Just sit around and wait? No, I don’t think so.

I want to put the word out now. If I suddenly kick off, everyone left will have to set it up. And I don’t want one of those “celebration of life” things sometime down the road. Get right on it, no waiting around. I want a wake, with some party atmosphere—don’t be all solemn, please—because you know I love a good party. Serve some booze, wine and beer are fine, maybe ham sandwiches, too. Don’t forget chips. And music. Not that whiny stuff, something more Led Zeppelin-ish. And for God’s sake, mix it up a bit. Tell jokes. Talk about all the stupid reckless crazy things I did in my life. I wouldn’t mind a few motorcycles in the funeral caravan, either. Someone could even ride mine, I guess.

If there’s time, for example, if I suddenly get stage 4 liver cancer, I will plan it out myself. I’m not terribly afraid of dying, but I am afraid of not living enough. Every single friend or family member that passes away before me is a kick in the stomach; it’s not something that I will ever get used to. At the same time, every single one reminds me that there are still things to do and life to live.

We all have to go sometime. Let’s enjoy the time we have now. If you were thinking of visiting an old friend (like me!), make that a reality, not just a thought. There is no time like the present. Literally.


OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.

Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime, her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction anthology BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.

https://www.amazon.com/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=la_B00CBFLI1W_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095358&sr=1-4

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095546&sr=1-1

Family Ties or Otherwise

Family Ties or Otherwise

By Michele Potter

Having recently attended two family reunions, I have been thinking about the power of blood ties. I was lucky enough to grow up close to extended family in the Midwest. Picnics in the summer, holiday gatherings, and sleepovers at cousins were all part of my childhood. At the time, I thought everyone had the same kind of experience and completely took my family for granted.

Once out in the world, it came as a bit of a shock that many people, because of distance, dysfunction, separation, or loss, had little or no family. The people I met shared stories that hurt my heart. One girl told me how she had found her father, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot; she said she felt nothing but disgust. Another said her parents’ bitter divorce and long custody battle had effectively made her feel like an orphan.

My family had their differences and disputes, but we always knew deep down that we were there for each other. I remember my teenage years as a perpetual war of wills with my mother, but in the end, we called it a draw.

Through the years, we have lost members, a sad time for gathering together and sharing. At my age, I have attended too many wakes and funerals for people close to me. Where once I considered such rites maudlin and unnecessary, my views have changed. Being the person in the receiving line accepting condolences changes one’s perspective.

I think of all this because a dear family member is dying. Cancer is making its final assault, and his days are numbered. Throughout the long process, he has made every effort to see and talk to everyone, attend reunions, and keep a positive attitude. “There’s always someone worse off,” he often says. I think of the many times I’ve wallowed in the “pity pot” and feel ashamed.

He has stayed with us longer than the doctors predicted, which I believe is due to the support and love from all sides. I cannot imagine coming to the end of one’s life and not having family ties. Recently, he asked me to gather some funny family stories to tell at his funeral. He wants people to laugh.

I hope we can all laugh through the tears.


OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.

Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction antholgy BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.

https://www.amazon.com/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=la_B00CBFLI1W_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095358&sr=1-4

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095546&sr=1-1