Divine Justice

Divine Justice

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. The photo this week is one I took while on a cruise excursion. The couple in the photo look nice and cozy. There is nothing nice and cozy about this story. 

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

For residents of the Carolina’s, Hurricane Florence embodied death and destruction. For Annie, Florence was divine providence. In all things, Annie accepted her fate as the will of God. How else could she have endured the past ten years?

The police pleaded: evacuate. Ray, her captor, affirmed they would stay.

The officer turned to Annie, thin with lifeless eyes.

You can leave, he said.

God wants me to stay. Annie closed the door.

For hours, rain and wind whipped the white frame house. When the electricity went out, Annie never felt safer. The rising water swirled around her ankles.

It is time.

Annie pulled a plastic bottle from her bedding. Inside, a note.

What is that, demanded Ray.

Your death sentence, Annie rejoiced. Written in secret, the note named Ray for the monster he was; chronicled the atrocities Annie endured at his hand.

Annie raced toward the basement, filling with water. Ray followed in pursuit.

Him or me, she prayed.

The sound of a slamming door was lost amidst the howling winds.

After the storm, rescuers spotted someone standing on the roof of the white frame house.

Anyone inside?

A man in the basement, said Annie.

It was God’s will.


In the story, Ray is named as ‘her captor.’ I will allow the reader to decide how literal to take the take the label. Annie may have simply been trapped in a loveless marriage, in which case, her actions would then be considered murder. Or maybe ‘captor’ should be taken literally, giving justification to her actions during the storm. There were, however, three events this week where I took inspiration. First, the hurricane itself. I wondered, how easy would it be for someone to kill another and blame it on the storm? Second, Wanda Barzee, the woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart, will soon go free. This revived Elizabeth’s horrific story.  Lastly, I learned this week that one of my “neighbors,” a known sexual predator who preyed on poor black woman who could not pay their rent recently died of colon cancer. Death was too good for Ray.

Memory Unleashed (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Memory Unleashed (Sunday Photo Fiction)

A little late for last week but the story has been floating in my head so might as well give it a home.  A little dark and disturbing, so consider yourself warned.

photo credit @Mixed Bag

“Make yourself comfortable,” the doctor says.

I lie down on the overstuffed couch, listening to her soothing voice and the tick-tock of the pendulum clock on the wall. As she speaks, the years of my life pass like a film in reverse.

“How old are you?” the doctor asks?


“And, where are you?”

“At the carnival. Mommy took me and Charlotte because Daddy was mad.”

“What do you see?”

I smile. “The merry-go-round. I climb into the Viking ship and wave at mommy. The music starts and I am going around and around and up and down. Mommy is laughing and waving.

“Where’s Charlotte?”

I frown. “She is in the carriage.”

“What happens next.”

“I yell ‘Mommy, watch me!’ But she is looking at Charlotte, laughing.

“Continue Michael, what happens next?”

“I don’t want to.”

“But you must.”

“Mommy is screaming, Charlotte is not moving; her face is blue and I am crying.”

“Why are you crying Michael?”

“Because mommy loves Charlotte more than me. “

“Michael, what happened to Charlotte?”

I killed her you bitch, what do you think happened.


I open my eyes and smile.

“Michael is gone. It’s just me now.”


Sunday Photo Fiction April 9, 2017




 The Widow and the Watchmaker

 The Widow and the Watchmaker

Time stood still at the old watch shop on the corner of 7th and Broadway. From the street, the vintage store front showed little change since it was built in 1920. The faded red façade facing the street needed a new coat of paint, and soot and grime glazed the large display windows. A large sign hung above the door, welcoming all to Milo’s Watch and Repair.

Yanno parked his dull yellow taxi in front of the shop. He quickly ran to the other side of the cab and opened the rear passenger door. Taking Yanno’s extended hand, Mrs. Henry Emmerson of Signal Hill exited the cab.

“I will only be a few minutes if you don’t mind waiting,” she said.

“No problem Mrs. E. I’ll be here when you come out.” Yanno lit a Lucky Stripe cigarette and leaned next to the cab while he waited.

Inside of the small shop, time was frozen as well. Along the outer walls, old glass cabinets held hundreds of watches from every era. There were railroad watches, military watches, chronograph, and quartz. On the walls, antique clocks ticked-ticked-ticked to an unchoreographed melody.

Behind the front counter, Milo Schwartz hunched over a cluttered table as he worked on an old pocket watch he found at a garage sale. With a little effort, he knew he could get it working as good as new. These days, Milo spent most of his time repairing watches he had picked up along the way. Everyone has a smart phone now, he was known to say. No need for a good watch. Which is why he quickly stood up and smiled when Mrs. Emmerson walked through the door. She was not just a customer, she was a dear friend, and he had not seen for quite some time.

“Mrs. Emmerson! What a surprise! How can I help you today?”

Reaching into her black coat pocket, she took out a small bundle wrapped in an old blue handkerchief with the initials “H.E” embroidered in the corner. Inside was a pocket watch.

“This was Henry’s and I’m afraid it is broken. It hasn’t worked since he passed away. I thought you could look at it and see what is wrong. “

Milo gently took the watch as if it were a delicate flower. Such a beauty, he thought to himself. As he examined the watch, he could see that that it was German made, with a slightly tarnished case. There was a long chain attached with a small key at the end. Milo opened the back and found an inscription, H. Emmerson, Berlin. The Emmerson’s were originally from Germany and Milo guessed Henry must have received the watch as a young man. Old as it was, the watch was in excellent condition. A watch like this should last a lifetime. Milo reached into a small candy dish and popped a peppermint into his mouth.

“I am sorry for asking, but how long ago did your husband die?”

A look of sadness momentarily crossed Mrs. Emmerson’s face. “It’s been almost a year now. It was such a shock. Have I ever told you the story of how he died?” Milo invited her to go on.

“It was a Saturday night, and Henry and I had just arrived at our favorite restaurant. A lovely little Italian place, called Luna’s. We had been going there every Saturday night for as long as I can remember. Our grandchildren use to call it our ‘date night.’ Every week we sat at the same table, next the window so we could look out across the ocean and watch the sunset.”

“We were drinking a glass of wine when largest man I have ever seen walked in. You could tell he was in dire need as his clothes were well worn, and a bit dirty. We overheard the man ask the owner for a meal, but the owner does not allow panhandling of any type and ordered the man out. My Henry was always such as pushover for someone in need. He walked over to the man and offered to buy his dinner. The man was so grateful that he grabbed Henry in a bear hug, saying Thank You, Thank You.”

Henry was not a large man and had a bad heart. I guess the man just hugged him too long because when he let go, Henry fell to the floor. By the time the ambulance arrived, there was nothing they could do to save him.”

“Such a terrible story,” Milo said. “What happened to the large man?”

“He felt horrible of course, but I have to admit I wasn’t very nice too him. For the past year, I blamed him for what happened and it has been eating away at me. But now it is time to move on. That is why I brought Henry’s watch to you.”

Milo inserted the small key at the end of the chain into a small hole on the inside of the watch and gave it a few turns. He placed the watch by his ear, then with a smile handed it back to Mrs. Emmerson. For a moment, their hands touched.

“All it needed was to be wound. See, it is good as new.”

Mrs. Emmerson listened to the watch then shook her head. “Well imagine that! I feel so silly. Every time I looked at that watch it reminded me of Henry’s death and how time had stopped for me as well. Just think, I could have started it any time I wanted.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself Mrs. Emmerson. Everyone makes mistakes.”

Mrs. Emmerson smiled at the old watch maker. “Please, call me Clara,” she said. “We have been friends for a long time, and I don’t see a need for formalities.” She paused for a moment. “I hope that man will forgive me for being so awful.”

“Mrs. Emmerson…. I mean Clara. Would you like to have lunch with me?”

They planned to meet later that week at a small diner up the street. True to his word, Yanno was waiting for Clara when she walked out the door. As the taxi drove off, Milo noticed an old clock on the wall that had not worked for many years. As if by magic, the brass pendulum was swaying back and forth. I guess time has started for me too.

This story was inspired by a writing prompt from Creative Writing Now (http://www.creative-writing-now.com/short-st), using the words Broken Wristwatch, a peppermint, and a hug that goes too far.

Total word count is 1080.


Writing101 – Day Eleven

Writing101 – Day Eleven

Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

The year was 1969. A lot going on that year. Richard Nixon took the oath of office as the 37th President of the United States and Neil Armstrong leaves the first human footprint on the moon. A new counter-culture took shape with Woodstock and the Beatles break-up ended a musical era. It was a year of unbelievable atrocities, of Charles Manson, the Vietnam War and My Lai.

And for me, 1969 was the pivotal year between childhood and teenage. It was the year I turned twelve. Read more

A Life too Short

A Life too Short


Rose Lillian Thompson Brown

When I think of mortality, I think of people whose lives are cut short due to illness, accidents or violence. Like my mother, who was only 32 years old when she died of cancer in the late 1950’s.  Her death came much too quickly, less than a year from the time she received the news until the time she died.  I was much too young to have first-hand knowledge of the events surrounding her death, but I can imagine what it must have been like for her. The fear she felt must have cut her like a knife. Read more