Making a Difference ~~ by Sebnem Sanders

Making a Difference ~~ by Sebnem Sanders

In the wayward, icy wind, blowing the city fumes in all directions, Miss Plenty tucked in the errant locks that had escaped from her wool cap and pulled it tightly over her ears.  Warming her freezing hands, framed in fingerless gloves over the heat of the fire, she scrutinized Mr. Nothing. “I see a pensive look in your eyes. What’s up?”

“Sometimes, my thoughts drift to the past, but what’s done is done.”

“This is our reality. Your memories belong to a life that is no longer yours. Or one you left behind for your own reasons. No point in slipping back into something that’s gone.”

“I know. Still, acceptance or not being acceptable bugs me.”

“Acceptable, hmm,” she said, watching her warm breath turn into white vapour in the cold night air.

“I betcha,” she said, with a smile, “we can make a difference.”

“How so?” Mr. Nothing asked.  “The only difference we make is they run away from us as if we carry the plague.”

“Yup. But what if we meet them on their terms? Other than that stark discrepancy we conjure when we walk down the high-street.”

“You mean dress like them, and mingle with crowds without anyone noticing us?”

A mischievous spark gleaming in her eyes, she answered, “No. That would be against our philosophy and decision to live on the streets. Something more clever and subtle.”

“Hmm,” he said thinking. “By staying the same and beating them at their game?”

“You’re getting there,” she said, fumbling through the pockets of her over-sized, shabby coat. “You got a fag? I must have smoked the last one.”

“Yeah,” he said, digging beneath the layers of clothes on his slim torso to extract a crushed pack. “Here,” he took one out and stuck it in her mouth, then dipped a twig into the fire, lighting hers and one for himself.

“So, what’s the plan?”

“I’m thinking,” she said, as Wino approached the barrel, with a flask in his hand.

“Evening, guys. The nice lady at the bar gave me some mulled wine and magazines to read. Want some?”

“Why not,” Miss Plenty replied. “Keeps you warm. What did you do, sweep the shop front?”

“I carried some stuff for her.”

The temporary warming effect of the spiced drink invigorated their bodies, as the homeless settled into their corners, watching the lives of the homeful spread out on the pages of the glossy magazines. An article about a socialite triggered Plenty’s attention. A Costume Party Fundraiser, with a reward for the winner. Tickets $65. How to get the tickets … do I dare?

The following morning, Plenty ambled to the pay-phone and made a collect call to her best friend.

“Hi, Sandy, I need a favour.”

“Where are you? When will I see you?”

“Don’t know, yet. I’ll call you. Please do me favour, get me two tickets to the fundraiser…”

“Why? Are you into the benefit events?”

“Don’t ask questions, and please have them delivered to The Mayflower on West Street…”

“I’ll do anything for you. Just promise not to go AWOL too long. I miss you.”

“Promise. I miss you, too. Thanks.”

Two days later, Plenty picked up the envelope containing the tickets from the local bar.

Back at the homeless settlement beneath the bridge, she looked for Mr. Nothing. She spotted Wino, stretched out in his corner, fighting with a crossword puzzle.

“Good to see you sober for a change, Wino. Where’s Mr. Nothing?”

“Crosswords keep the mind active,” he said, with a big smile, exposing his missing teeth. “He wasn’t feeling well, maybe pissed out of his mind. I saw him going to the bushes down there.”

She found Nothing asleep behind a tree, by the embankment. His face appeared flushed. She put her hand on his forehead. It was burning. “Wake up, wake up. You’re going to get hypothermia here. You have a fever.”

Nothing opened his bloodshot eyes and moaned. “I don’t feel well. My tummy is churning.”

“What did you eat again? Didn’t I tell you not touch anything thrown in the garbage bin? Especially, after the last time.”

“It was only leftover pizza in a box.”

“You don’t know how long it’s been there, do you? Or whether it’s been contaminated. Get up, we’re going to the shelter for some soup.”

She dragged him along to the homeless shelter. After serving him a bowl of soup with a generous squeeze of lemon, she gave him a paracetamol tablet from the first aid cabinet and made him drink it with lots of water.

“For the next two days you’re having nothing but soup, and my mother’s remedy.”

“I didn’t know you had a mother.”

“Everyone has one. Hot lemon juice mixed with fresh mint is the best. You’d better get well soon. We’re going to a party.”

“What party?”

“A costume party.”

“What? Are you mad?”

“I’m not. It’s a fundraiser with a reward.”

“Where do we find the costumes?”

“We won’t have to.”

Plenty kept an eye on Nothing for the next two days as he recovered.

They arrived at the venue of the Fundraiser and mixed with the crowds stepping out of their cars at the entrance.

“You’d better turn on your best accent, Nothing. I betcha, you’re some kind of academician with your knowledge of literature.”

“I’ll try,” he said, grinning.

The event was televised live by a local channel working with the charity website. The homeless couple was photographed at the entrance, along with the other guests in fancy costumes. Kings, queens, knights, Cinderella, Snow White, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Don Quixote, Long John Silver. Dracula, Superman, Brigitte Bardot, Marlene Deitrich, George Sand, Madonna, Rita Hayward, and many diverse characters and icons.

Awed by their sumptuous surroundings and the publicity involved, Plenty and Nothing tried hard not to look out of place. Once they settled into the ambiance, they scoffed as much as they could eat and drink from the buffet. They danced and chatted to the other guests.

A couple of hours into the event, the highlight of the evening came as the votes began to pour in. Plenty and Nothing watched themselves and the other contenders on the screen. The session closed down at the end of the hour.

A presenter mounted the stage to announce the top three winners: Brigitte Bardot 950 votes, Dracula 1240, The Homeless Couple 1350 votes.

Heads spinning, legs shaking, Plenty and Nothing made their way to the stage. Nothing took a deep breath and thanked the audience. He coughed and continued, “We won’t be able to accept the award because we didn’t make the effort to prepare our costumes. These are our regular clothes, second-hand gear from charity shops. We’re real homeless people.”

The presenter took the microphone, as a commotion rose from the audience. “I invite the Charity President, Mr. Smith, to the stage.”

Mr. Smith climbed up the steps and greeted the homeless couple. “There’s nothing I like better than genuine stuff. The cheque for $1000 is yours to do as you please. We’re happy with the results.”

Dodging their way through a sea of photographers, Plenty and Nothing managed to leave the venue. They ran down the streets, taking shortcuts via narrow alleys, between blocks to lose the press on their tail. They hid in a derelict building near the settlement and waited to make sure there were no reporters around.

Back under the bridge, they called the members of their clan to make a decision about the cheque.

“Cigarettes for everyone.”

“Wine for everyone.”

“Burgers and pizza for everyone.”

“Give it to the shelter for everyone.”

The shelter won, by the majority of votes. Plenty and Nothing, accompanied by Wino, as the witness, took the cheque to the manager of the Shelter from the Storm. “With our compliments.”

On the way back, Plenty nudged Nothing with her elbow. “See, we make a difference.”

This story first appeared in Ripples on the Pond, my debut anthology of flash fiction and short stories.

https://www.amazon.com/Ripples-Pond-Sebnem-Sanders-ebook/dp/B077XCK3SD/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546758746&sr=1-1&keywords=ripples+on+the+pond


OMP Admin Note:

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently, she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have been published on the Harper Collins Authonomy BlogThe DrabbleSick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, SpelkFiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, and CarpeArteJournal. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child.  Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. Her stories have also appeared in two Anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

 

Ripples on the Pond

https://www.amazon.com/Ripples-Pond-Sebnem-Sanders-ebook/dp/B077XCK3SD/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546758746&sr=1-1&keywords=ripples+on+the+pond

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17427985.Sebnem_E_Sanders

https://www.facebook.com/sebnem.sanders

https://Twitter.com/sebnemsanders
https://Instagram.com/sebnemsanders
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sebnem-sanders-b3593263/


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

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myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

 

 

 

Little Things ~~ by Kate McGinn

Little Things ~~ by Kate McGinn

Diseases can leave their mark on the human body in unique ways at times, but they can also mimic other medical conditions making a differential diagnosis more difficult to obtain especially in the early stages. Cancer is one of these diseases. In nursing school, I was instructed on the “Seven Warning Signs of Cancer”.

  1. A sore that doesn’t heal
  2. A persistent cough or hoarseness
  3. A change in bowel or bladder habits
  4. Unusual bleeding or discharge
  5. Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
  6. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  7. Changes in your skin such as an obvious change in a mole or wart

The warning signs were drilled into my fellow nursing students and me, and I hate to tell you that I’ve ignored a symptom or two in the past. This list is very basic and many times these changes can be attributed to another cause, but only your physician can tell you for sure if you have something to worry about or not.

October was the month for mammograms and dutiful nurse that I am, I posted on Facebook reminding my friends to get their mammograms while ignoring to schedule one of my own. I had good intentions but I let life’s everyday minutiae get in the way.  In December, I received a Christmas card from an old friend.  She wrote that a daughter had been diagnosed with breast cancer that year and two months later, my friend had the same diagnosis as her daughter. The news blew me away, and I said a prayer that their treatments would prove successful.

The next day I stepped out of the shower and although I don’t usually look at myself naked in a mirror (at 58 years of age it isn’t something I relish seeing), on this day I noted something that gave me pause.

Remember the list above is very general and doesn’t list all of the manifestations of these signals. Number five above doesn’t address one of the other changes that can occur in a breast — an inverted nipple. This is the first time I’d ever seen this happen to either of my breasts. I made a call to the hospital that same day and scheduled my overdue mammogram.

The day after Christmas, I had a mammogram. I’m thrilled to say it was normal. Thank goodness, because my story could have had a hugely different ending. Little things can signal the beginnings of diseases that can change your life and the lives of your family.

You know your own body better than anyone. If you notice something, even if it seems too small or insignificant to matter, ask your physician or speak to a nurse about it.  Please do not panic if you do have one of the warning signs, only a physician and medical testing can give you a diagnosis. That being said, I will give you two examples that show the importance of seeking knowledgeable professionals about changes that concern you.

My husband’s family has a history of skin cancer. They spent a lot of time outside playing golf, camping, and swimming. Not too many people in the 1960’s-1970’s used sunscreen as frequently as they do today and my husband was one of the people who didn’t. I check him for any changes to moles on his body periodically and refer him to his doctor when I see something I’m concerned over. On one occasion, I noted white patches on his upper ears. They turned out to be pre-cancerous and were removed.

I have a college friend who had an irritated rash which would sometimes bleed in a very sensitive area of her body. I did not look at it, but asked her questions concerning it — when she noticed it, did it ever heal, had she brought it to her medical provider’s attention? She told me it was a constant irritation over several months.  Because of its location, she asked someone that she felt comfortable with when she decided to speak about her concerns. Number one on the list is a sore that doesn’t heal. My friend took my advice and talked to her provider. She was treated for cancer to the area. I thank God every day she felt comfortable enough to speak out and that I was able to convince her to seek help.

The little things can make a difference between life and death.


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 Clare Thibodeaux Series, which include the suspense books — EXODUS, WINTER’S ICY CARESS, and NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND, is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

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/


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

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myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Took ages to find him. I’d ask at writer’s conferences, libraries, weird old book-stores. Searched online. Most said Thoth quit, he’d died, never existed. Or sold out to Amazon, was running a bed-and-breakfast in Thebes. I gave up. One more god crossed off the list.

Then at a bus stop I notice this bag lady reading ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’. I don’t usually talk to strangers, but that book? It’s like the first fantasy novel game-manual. We chatted, she dropped a few crazy hints, then trundled her shopping cart away. The wheels squeaked like harpies giggling.

So I found the god of writing. In New York, in the alley back of the Random House offices. I don’t think that was irony. The spot happened to be sheltered from the wind, with a good steam-vent and dumpsters stuffed with slush-pile rejects you could read or toss into the trash-barrel flames. Pretty sure one of those manuscripts was mine. I always print my submissions on ivory paper; expensive but gives the MSS an old-scroll feel. Not that editors even send a reject email. Snobs.

Thoth was a tall guy in a couple of coats, a ragged hoody, long beak of a nose sticking out. He wasn’t alone. Fellow homeless stood around, warming hands, debating the worth of what they found in random pages of manuscripts before tossing them to the fire. A lady wearing ten sweaters hummed in Greek; she might have been Thalia, Muse of Poetry. But mortal or deity, we stood together staring into the flames, listening to city sounds: sirens and cars, trains, planes and the eternal wind.

At length I asked Thoth: how did it all begin? Not what was the first story; but why had some lunatic made up that first tale? He took his time answering. As the gods do, when they answer at all. At last he spoke, in whisper low and sing-song as the wind.

“It began just like this. A circle of lonely eyes staring into flames. Hunger in the belly, fears for the dark beyond firelight’s edge. A circle of survivors who saw no story in life but this: eat till you are eaten. And then, and then… some conjunction of thought and sound and heartbeat came. I remember far-off a wolf howled, while fire-wood shifted, sending sparks to the stars. And a sick child coughed. And some man or woman began talking to the flames. Someone who felt suddenly filled with wonder, yet drowning in worry. Wonder for the joy that is this life, and worry for the sick child. Who’d feed them, fend away the wild dogs? And when it became their own turn to be sick, to fall behind in the hunt? What then?

“And so the first story came. Words out the mouth. With plenty of hand gestures, I recall. I forget the tale itself. Some tangle about a forest, a spear and a monster that could only be defeated by a tribe working together. A hunter, a farmer, a pot-maker, and a funny dog who kept stealing the scenes. A mess that needed blessing from the Muse of Editing. It seemed an absurd waste of breath to those practical survivors about the fire. And yet… the idea stuck. Caught, as fire does. They had a vision of a united tribe, caring for one another. Life as a tale finding meaning not in surviving, but in helping to live.

“You ask what was the seed of that first tale? Caring. At least concern. But give credit to the dancing flames, the circling dark and the wolf-howl wind. Most of all to the heart’s cry that life must be more than sparks rising, vanishing, gone.”

I stood there silent, weighing Thoth’s words. Not the first time someone has claimed the origin of storytelling is in the heart’s tangles, not the brain’s wrinkles. Nor that the highest stories turn our heads from the pages, to look at one another with new eyes, with opened minds. Bit old fashioned, I suppose. I’d expected something more grim-dark, but perhaps that’s a style for a darker age.

I was just about to ask the God of Literature if he’d review my new work-in-progress but the cops came, blowing whistles. They put out the trash-barrel fire. Arrested the Muse for being an illegal, confiscated my manuscript though I explained it hadn’t even had a chance to be tossed to the trash yet. My third tazing over a review this year. The rest scattered. Haven’t seen Thoth since.

But I like to think he has a high opinion of the One Million Project.


OMP Admin Note: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.


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

Scars by K.V. Wilson

Scars by K.V. Wilson

Abby’s dark bangs scattered as she glanced over her shoulder, scanning the market for the source of the voice.

“Is this yours?” it persisted. An elderly man emerged from the crowd. In one hand, he cradled a shiny cerulean item.

“Oh, ye—” Abby’s voice broke as she glimpsed the state of her mother’s gift.

“My wife saw it fall from your bag. I didn’t think I could catch you—you’re so fast!” he panted, clutching at his side with his free hand.

Abby had eyes only for the bowl. It had split into three—no, four!—pieces.

Tears collected at the corners of her eyes and she reached up a sleeve to blot them away.

The bowl was blue and mottled like a robin’s egg. When Abby had first glimpsed the vessel, she knew she had to have it. She had saved up the lunch money her father had given her—every day that month—to finally purchase the little vessel for her mother’s birthday. Her mother was still in the hospital and had been for months. Abby hoped the bowl would cheer her up.

“Are you alright, child?”

She shook her head. “Thank you, but it’s nothing now.”

The elderly man squatted in front of her. She recognized his features, she realized: cropped dark hair, kindly eyes and small, ovular glasses. He was usually the one at the tiny shop offering the sesame balls and other treats.

Her mother – who was half-Japanese – adored the sweet desserts. She used to bring them home for Abby and her father—rewards for a long day at work and, in Abby’s case, middle school.

The man smiled kindly. “You’re one of Hina’s daughters.” It wasn’t a question.

Abby nodded. “It was for her. The bowl,” she choked out.

“I have something to show you. I think you’ll like it.”

Abby gazed up at the elderly man. A sparkle twinkled in his eye, causing her curiosity to pique. “I really don’t have money,” she admitted, “or else I would’ve bought all your desserts like mom used to.”

The elderly man chuckled. “It’s been a while since we’ve spoken, your mother and me.”

“She’s…in hospital.” Abby stared at the ground as she followed the old vendor. She didn’t know why she was following him. Perhaps it was because she had nothing else to do now that she had to come home empty-handed on her mother’s birthday. Perhaps it was because she wanted to know what the elderly man wanted to show her. She hoped he had good intentions. The summer street market was bustling with customers and tourists, however; if she had to, she would cry out.

“Your father told me a few months ago. I am sorry, Abby. I wish her a safe recovery.”

“Thanks,” she mumbled, too quietly for him to hear.

“You’ll have to wait here for a few minutes. My wife isn’t as spry as she used to be.” He chuckled again.

Abby glanced at him in confusion but he was already disappearing into the shop. She turned and smiled as she watched the lanterns bobbing in the breeze.

After a few minutes, the man’s wife emerged from the back of the shop, a small bottle of what looked like paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. She passed it to her husband as he came up beside her.

“May I?” the elderly gentleman asked, indicating the shards of blue porcelain.

Abby’s brows furrowed but she nodded. The man popped the lid of the paint bottle and dipped the brush in. He coated one edge of the broken bowl with an ample coat of paint and then pressed it onto its companion. He repeated this with the other portions.

“Kintsugi, they call it, Abby.”

He held up the completed bowl. Webs of intercrossed golden paint held together the pieces of porcelain.

“An old Japanese tradition. The art of precious scars.”

“I have something, too,” the vendor’s wife added, and before Abby could reply, she’d disappeared into the shop again.

The gentleman excused himself to help a customer. Abby used this time to examine the bowl. It was still beautiful, she realized, despite the fact that it was broken. The gold lacing was rather pretty.

And then the man was back at Abby’s side, gently testing the paint with his thumb. “It needs a bit longer to dry, but you must have to go soon.”

“Yeah.”

“You’ll need this, too. Put it in when the paint’s dry.” The elderly woman smiled, handing Abby a paper bag. “Tell Hina happy birthday from us.”

Abby beamed. “I will,” she said, peering inside. To her delight, the bag contained four sesame balls. “But I don’t have anything to give—”

“There’s no need. And look,” the old woman said gently, pointing at a vase in the window of the shop. From its mouth sprouted a couple of white lily buds, their stems intertwined.

As she took a step closer, Abby realized the vase was decorated with the same lines of golden paint, delicately applied so as to prolong the vessel’s life.

The gentleman said softly, “People are like this vase and bowl. They are delicate, but they are strong. Your mother will recover, especially when she has you and your father by her side.”

Abby left with the porcelain bowl and the paper bag. She couldn’t help but compare her family to the repaired bowl. By remaining together, they could conquer anything.


OMP Admin Note:  K.V. Wilson is a fantasy author obsessedkvwilson with mythology and culture. Born in Alberta, she currently lives in British Columbia, Canada, where she spends her spare time playing the piano, hiking, songwriting, and reading and writing stories. She is honoured to be a part of the One Million Project as an author and editor.

 

Website: http://www.kvwilsonauthor.ca/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spirits.kvwilson/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16644289.K_V_Wilson
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/kv_wilson

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/K.V.-Wilson/e/B06XVZ3VPK/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

The first raindrops hadn’t registered in her ears or mind; so light and far between were they. Little more than a soft breeze drove them… at first.

Rachel peered out the window – even opened it slightly, hopeful of a welcome freshness. A cleansing, she thought. God knows how much we need that. And she imagined luxuriating in a hot shower instead of that hated yet strangely welcome ‘basin bath’. OK for Josh, with his typical young boy aversion to soap or anything that smelled clean! But not Penny. At this age, she’d take a contrary stance to Josh on anything and everything… and to most other boys as well.

The surrounding gloom dragged Rachel’s heart and soul down, deepened by the earliest light of day remaining hidden behind a vast, solid-looking wall of clouds. A quick glance at her old, trusty watch confirmed daylight was near. She smiled. You never let me down old friend.

A deafening clap of thunder drove all else from mind as the gentle thrumming abruptly changed tempo. Impossible to tell whether huge raindrops or hailstones were battering the bitumen stretching emptily away. Rachel’s mental meanderings washed away as cleanly as layers of dust from her family car.

I’ve always loved hearing rain on a roof, she thought. Always. But  I never thought we’d be hearing it quite like this.

 Her sadness and despair deepened. He’d threatened to take everything many times but she found herself refusing to accept a Liam so cruel, a break so brutal. This was not the man she’d married; the life they’d planned to build and share.

“And the children?” she’d asked, and heard her voice wearing an unfamiliar cloak of desperation. Surely parental love would sway him? But this stranger with Liam’s face refused to acknowledge feelings, reasoning, logic. Nothing moved him. He simply didn’t care.  His rejection was just as final for these children he’d fathered.

“They’ll be fine,” he continued as if having an everyday chat about shopping, or taking Josh to football practice, Penny to ballet class. “You’ll see to that. You always do.” Now his voice held an unexpected venom, as he grabbed her chin and shook it threateningly. An unpleasant, coppery taste filled her mouth, nearly quenching that newly found determination. You won’t hit me again… not now, not EVER again.

“You’re so bloody good at EVERYTHING, right?” But she wasn’t.  Especially when she discovered all their important documents bore only his name. Everything except clothing. Hers and their children’s.  Only a fraction of their possessions could come along to their gypsy-like existence – sleeping in the car, night after endless night as they waited… and waited for that  ‘emergency’ housing. Hmmph… some emergency! Tears of anger threatened the iron reserve of her public face. Alone whilst Penny and Josh slept through restlessness and an odd moan breaking through, she could drop her guard.

Abruptly, beads of sweat pearled Rachel’s lip as a shadow loomed outside the fogged up windows. Previously she’d left back windows open only inches to avoid giveaway signs of occupancy within their darkened car; a forlorn hope to not alert security guards. Last time, they were kind enough, but it was their job to move squatters on – even in the middle of a lonely night.

Now, Rachel dared not wipe the smallest peephole for fear of what she might discover only inches away. Elbows pressing into her sides, she tried making her body even smaller in a desperate attempt at concealment. Her grip tightened on the knife beneath her pillow, never slackening even when that shadow melted away. Had he really gone?  A major distrust of men now haunted her.

At last, Rachel’s eyes were forced into a kind of lockdown, after tearing up once too often from strained staring at elusive shapes that were mostly her imaginings. Her rest was never complete, always grabbed in fits and starts until the next foreign sound set off her personal alarm. Like little Josh’s beloved teddy bear, she figured –

‘Someone’s got to keep their eyes open all the time.’


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 IMG_7208to 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

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


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

 

“What Comes Around” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

“What Comes Around” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

Some decades back, I was offered a research fellowship, funded by a precursor to Cancer Research UK.  Sadly, although it was a hugely tempting invitation, my personal circumstances meant that I turned it down. Maybe if I’d taken it, I might have made some ground-breaking contribution to cancer research.  More likely, I would have made a tiny contribution, all part of the satisfaction of helping to piece together a larger puzzle. None of that happened, but on the other hand, had I taken it I wouldn’t have met my partner, so no regrets.

As it turns out, whilst I declined my chance, one of my relatives joined a clinical trial around about the same time. It’s a story which has only come to light in the last few years, and perhaps only now because my ageing relative has survived cancer twice, and that second occurrence presented some peculiar circumstances.

Family, supposedly, is where they have to take you in.  By my definition, family is where I have the strangest conversations, and think it perfectly normal. A few years back, I received a phone call at oh-god o’clock on a Saturday morning – a friend called to let me know that my ageing relative hadn’t felt well the previous evening, took a taxi to hospital, and had been diagnosed with appendicitis.  Strictly speaking, the first diagnosis was cancer – something about a blob like that on an x-ray in a patient that old must surely be cancer, and the other symptoms didn’t quite fit with appendicitis.

So I phoned and  had a conversation which went something like:

“Hi, so how’s the appendicitis?”

Apparently, this is not entirely normal, but it’s the way things work in my family.

The answer was, “Fine, fine, but my sense of taste is off and I can only eat the vegetarian option.” By definition, that’s pretty much the end of the world. Then I got the natural counter-question. “So, how are your heart tests?”

“Oh, fine, just one more to go.” (Which came out as all clear!)

And finally, the kicker:

“That’s good.  Did you ever see the pathologist’s report on your mother? She could have died of a heart attack at any moment.  By the way, they found pre-cancerous cells when they took my appendix out.”

Really, that sort of conversation is normal in my family.

So, from surgery on a seriously inflamed appendix, my ageing relative was also diagnosed with an almost-cancer and put on a course of chemotherapy. A few years on, and those pre-cancerous cells have recurred occasionally and been knocked back down with yet more oral chemotherapy. Equally importantly, they are monitored regularly with a simple blood test.

Now, it emerges, said relative also had cancer twenty-five years previously – a benign tumour that could be removed with some minor surgery.  However, instead of getting treatment immediately, my relative joined a clinical trial – the tumour was benign and easy to monitor, therefore perfect for assessing drugs to shrink tumours. After eighteen months, the now-shrunk tumour was finally removed, and my family had made a small contribution to the development of cancer treatments.  Twenty-five years later, other small developments have come together to stop pesky pre-cancerous cells in their tracks and watch for any recurrence with simple blood tests.

It’s easy to focus on the horrendous impact of cancer, both on the sufferer and on their family, whilst forgetting the positives, the advances in treatment and the patients who volunteer to be a part of that process. All of those major break-throughs and revolutionary treatments are built from countless tiny steps and small contributions.

Thus far, I am part of the fifty percent of my immediate family not diagnosed with some form of cancer. Should that day come, and a physician says ‘we have this experimental treatment…’ I  hope I have the courage to sign up and make my own small contribution.


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 (writeedge.blogspot.com), 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

Courage by Michele Potter

Courage by Michele Potter

Recently I toured one of the last fully operational landing ships from World War II. My father was a WWII veteran, and I was always interested in the history of that era.

I walked into the bay area, where tanks and other military equipment were once off-loaded. Incredibly, after more than a half-century, I could almost feel the presence of the young soldiers who had occupied the ship. I walked through the spartan, 4-hammock-high berth area and could easily imagine them resting, playing cards, smoking cigarettes, and passing the time “in between.” On the top deck, IMG_9926I gravitated to the big gun mounts strategically arranged. Through the sites, I could see the steeple of a church downtown. Each gun was manned by five men, the guide explained, and each had a specific duty. Imagine the terror of trying to aim and shoot effectively while being shot at, the sounds of screaming and explosions all around.

Courage under fire. Maintaining one’s inner fortitude while trying to stay alive. Most of us, thankfully, have never had to experience that kind of horror. But could we have survived? Would I?

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. I suppose it comes from growing older, losing people, and coming to grips with my own weaknesses or strengths. One of the ultimate tests of courage is that shown in life-or-death situations. People who put their own lives on the line to save others, such as fire and rescue workers, law enforcement, emergency medical techs, etc., have my utmost respect. Would I put myself in danger to save a loved one? Yes, of course. But would I do so for a stranger? That I’m not so sure of. I’m not all that selfless.

Some people I’ve known, many of them gone now from this earth, had a different kind of courage. Despite being in pain, debilitated with disease or illness, they exuded awe-inspiring grace and bravery. I think of my mother, who suffered from multiple maladies that she didn’t discuss, yet always worried about how I was doing. Selfish as I was, I seldom asked how she was doing. Of course, she wouldn’t have told me the truth if I had. Or my uncle, who told jokes at his own expense right up until the bitter end. He loved to make people laugh and planned his own services with that in mind. How tough does one have to be, to know death is near and basically laugh at it?

I think of other relatives and friends who smile, don’t fuss or whine, while they suffer from the misery of cancer. They look forward to each day as a precious gift. While I, in decent health, often look at the darkest part of life, bringing sadness to myself when I should be happy. And glad to be alive.

I think I need to say, out loud if necessary, that I am glad to be alive. And like the Wizard of Oz lion, I know I have courage inside me. We all have the will to survive, sometimes against great odds. Sometimes it takes a great deal of strength just to get up and face the day.

Stay strong, my friends. Be like the lion if necessary.


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


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