Tag Archives: Short story

Ring Around the Rosie – Jen Wylie

18 Apr

Aaron is a normal boy fascinated with music. He loves playing his flute so much he doesn’t even mind lessons over summer break. When he meets a strange boy at the park who seems to be just as obsessed they spend summer days entertaining children in the parks woods. But friends often have secrets, music can be magical, and even the most innocent of children’s games can be more than they appear.

Ah, the creepiness! The mystery! The spine-tingling GOODNESS of this short story. I mean, from the beginning I was all like, “WHAT the heck is going on?” I knew it was something devilishly good, I had a sneaking suspicion, and I was kinda right, but I was also way, way off. Which I LOVE when reading creepy stories like Ring Around the Rosie.

I loved how right from the get-go I had an uneasy feeling about the boy in the park and I wanted to scream at Aaron to STAY AWAY! Not that he would have listened, though. He was as entranced with the boy as the children in the park were. Have a mentioned how creepy this story was? I have? Okay, I just wanted to make sure. Cuz it was CREEEEEEEPY.

And the ending! Oh, it’s one of my favorite endings, I think. I won’t ruin it for anyone, but it was pretty cool. And like the rest of the story, there wasn’t any over explaining or filler. That’s the thing I liked most about Jen’s writing. It was tight.

This was just a great YA short story. I rarely ever read YA short stories, but I think I need to start delving into this genre more.

Thanks so much to Jen for the review copy.

The Magnificent Steam Carnival of Professor Pelusian Minus:First Flight by Sean and Connor Hayden

3 May

Publisher: Quake Books
Released: March, 2011
Genre: MG steampunk, short story
For review from author.

When Professor Pelusian Minus’ steamsmith dies, he needs another one quickly. He sends his giant henchman out to complete the task. The professor is not at all happy when Abraham Lincoln brings back two small twin babies. Soon though, he discovers they are just what he needs; he just has to wait for them to grow up.

For years, the twins, Dade and Paige, have been slaves to Professor Minus and his carnival. Now, the professor wants them to build him an army of minions, they just want to escape. With some clever planning, they build what the professor wants–kinda.

Then, Dade finally comes up with a plan for their escape. They think they have it all figured out. But things go terribly wrong and now Dade has to put aside the escape to save his sister’s life. Has Professor Pelusian Minus finally found a way to keep Dade and Paige at his Magnificent Steam Carnival?

From Quake website

OMG I loved this story. I am in no way a young or a reluctant reader, but if you are or know one you should totally get them First Flight. I was hooked from the get-go and can’t wait to dig into the second story in this series.

I don’t read a lot of steampunk, but I think it is a genre I need to become a lot more familiar with. The steampunk elements in this story, though, weren’t what I loved the most about it. That would be the characters.

Dade and Paige are just great characters. Smart, resilient and funny, I think they are both amazing heroes for young readers to look up to. And the professor! So, evil! So nefarious! So much fun to read! His ego-centric plans had me all a giggle and I love how the twins were constantly thinking of ways to outsmart him. But just when I thought things were all clear, bam! the authors introduced a twist that I didn’t see coming at all.

This was just a really interesting, fun read. I think adults and kids a like will love it. And the fact that Hayden co-wrote this with his young son, Connor? Well that’s just sweet and awesome all at the same time.

Wednesday’s Words

25 Aug

Here’s a short I’ve been working on

The Leaving

He shifts the truck into drive and I’m immediately reminded that the shocks need replacing. We bounce along for about fifteen minutes, neither of us saying a thing as we pass the local chipwagon, town limits, and then the National park. The comfortable silence between us halts and changes, like a drop in temperature. I shiver and breathe out, half expecting to see ice form in my breath. Tommy clutches the steering wheel harder, back molars grinding slightly. I flick on the radio. Leonard Cohen singing about broken Hallelujahs. I turn the radio off, sit on my hands so I don’t fidget. The stale silence is killing me but I refuse to be the one to break it. After showing so much humility, so much of my core in the past 24 hours, I refuse to give in.

After another five minutes, Tommy finally breaks down and speaks. Although once I hear the thought slip from his mouth I wish he had continued shutting up.

“You wanna leave, fine. I don’t care.”

I want to tell him that I know that. That I remember the exact day and time that he stopped caring. It was a Monday after supper. It was snowing and we ended up stormstayed for days.  I knew before he had even said the words that he’d stopped really caring.  But I let him have his say. Let him feel better about himself while crushing me further and further into the ground.

I have no idea if I’m supposed to answer him, because he really didn’t ask a question. I don’t think I could have answered even if I wanted to. His tone and my memories feel like poutine in my mouth. Chewy and sometimes hard to swallow.

I take the elastic out of my hair and run my hands through my curls, enjoying the slight sting of static. I wrap the band back around my hair, not really caring about neatness. Tommy’s seen me with spiked hair, permed hair and after sex hair. A sloppy ponytail wasn’t going to turn the tide either way.

“I’m not going with you.”

“I know”.

“It’s like I told you, I can’t.”


“I want to, I think, but –“

“I know, Tommy, I know.”

I don’t want to hear his reasons again, his list of why. Why it’s not right for him. Why I’m not right for me.

Some women in my shoes would try to convince him. Jack up their boobs, lower their lashes and voices. I had thought about it for a second before realizing I would never do that. I don’t think I could pull it off.

But just now, just for a moment, I feel a twinge of doubt. Maybe it would have worked. Maybe instead of being in this truck we’d be home, curled up on the couch watching TV, or at the kitchen table playing Scrabble, laughing and sharing a Bloody Caesar. Maybe.

I put my feet up on the dashboard and try to squish myself into a ball. Look at my worn hiking boots and sigh.

“We did our best. Still do, I guess.”

“I know, Cady, but if only –“

“If only’s a dangerous game.”

“I didn’t know she’d come back.”

“But you wanted her to.”

In his silence I get my answer.

Her coming back was sudden. I blinked. A second slipped by and there she was in front of me, flowing blond hair perfectly mussed up despite the high humidex. Layered gypsy skirt blowing in the breeze. I stood outside the hardware store in paint splattered cutoffs, hair shoved under one of Tommy’s baseball caps. I watched her approach, gliding across Main Street on silver strapped sandals, and before he came out and saw her, heard her voice sweet like a butter tart, I knew I had already lost. That maybe I had never really even been in the game.

We continue driving, going forward even when our thoughts are leading us behind. And even though we’re in the truck together, we’ve already started living our separate lives. I know he’s thinking a bit about me, but mostly about her and how to make her happy. Make her stay. I concentrate on breathing and stare out the window. Watch the sun glint off of the trees, sparkly from the latest silver thaw. Breathe in. Out.

I look at him out of the corner of my eye, scrunching his nose and pulling his toque down, and realize despite the months that have passed, the hurt and anger are still fresh.  They haven’t had enough time to shrink in depth.  I turn my eyes back towards the window and watch something less hurtful.

The bus station appears to our right. Tommy blows a breath out as he rolls the truck to a stop. I have my door open before he has the key out of the ignition. I grab my bag from the back and head toward the ticket book. I’m nervous, shaking, and my steps are those of someone impaired. I hope he stays in the truck. I hope he gets out and comes after me. Tries to stop me like he means it, not because he feels guilty. He gets out of the truck at half speed, like he’s walking through chocolate pudding. He’s next to me by the time I have my ticket in hand.

“This is stupid.”

“To you, maybe.”

“You don’t have to go.”

“Yes, I do.”


“Don’t Tommy, please.”

I watch his eyes frowning and pleading. Oddly enough I don’t feel like crying, but he does. I can see him suck in his lower lip, a tell-tale sign of how upset he is. He reaches out a finger to touch my cheek and then seems to remember I’m not his to touch. Not anymore.

“I still love you.”

“I know.”

I walk away. There’s nothing more to say. I know a part of him still loves me. It’s why I’m leaving.

Wednesday’s Words: Back Alley Beauty

7 Jul

I’ve recently starting mucking about with flash fiction. I can have a bit of a short attention span and find that the short pieces are great to not only get me writing, but get me thinking about larger projects. This is one of the first pieces I wrote and it’s my first time sharing. So go easy on me!

I thought about telling him the truth. For one whole second. I swear I did. Then I looked him square in his beautifully beady eyes and it dawned on me: I haven’t known him but a minute. No way to figure out how he’d react to the truth, all the truth and nothing except the truth.

He leaned against the alley wall, resting his foot on an old can of baby blue pant and blew smoke out his nose and his thin, parted lips. I could hear the traffic behind me, steady and normal.

I moved out of the sun, hoping the make-up covered my black eye. Not that he’d ask. Or care. I leaned in and grabbed his cigarette. Took a drag. Pulled up my bra strap and stuck out my chest.

“So, about the money…..”

Dust to Dust: Stories by Timothy Findley

26 Aug

Published by HarperPerenial Canada, 1997

In Timothy Findley’s collection of short stories, Dust to Dust, the theme of death flow through each story, intertwining with the theme of creativity. While these are two very contrasting themes, Findley presents them in such a way that they end up Dust_to_Dustcomplementing each other and often switching places, with death representing life and creativity representing an end.

Findley is my favorite writer and what I love most about his writing is its diversity. Even though the short stories in this collection all had common themes, each one was uniquely written. The volume also includes stories in several different genres, including murder mystery (Abracadaver, The Madonna of the Cherry Trees), love (A Bag of Bones) and horror (Hilton Agonistes, Americana).

While most of the characters were flawed, they were flawlessly written, their love and hate and lives jumping off the pages. There wasn’t one story in this collection that I didn’t enjoy, and quite often I was left wanting to know more about the places and people and situations Findley wrote about.

This was a great read, as all of Findley’s books are. If you haven’t read any of his books, Dust to Dust is a great place to start.

Click here to find out more about Dust to Dust.