The Test

November 30, 2009 - 2 Responses

It was Friday afternoon, just after 4 o’clock, and on the long, well scrubbed wooden kitchen table sat a very fat cookie jar with a note taped to the lid.  The note said, “No cookies inside.”  The kitchen smelled of warm peanut butter and brown sugar. From a half open cupboard door the eye of a security camera gleamed.


The family came home, one at a time, from school, and football practice, and dance class, and work. As each one passed through the kitchen, they saw the note, smiled or laughed, and picked up the lid of the cookie jar just to check.  They all knew their Mom. She kept the cookie jar full, no matter what.  After feeling around the bottom of the empty jar, the smiles slowly faded away.


The last leaves were falling from the sweet gum tree in the front yard as the sun went down. The kitchen table had a bowl of apples, which sat next to the cookie jar. This time the cookie jar had a note that spelled out “EMPTY.”  The back door began its usual evening chore of letting the family in, one at a time.  The older boy had been at basketball practice, the daughter came in chatting with her best friend on her cell phone; while the twins had been at Girl Scouts.  Every one opened the cookie jar with their right hands and felt around with their left hands, only to come up empty again.  No one noticed the half open cupboard door.


Halloween came on Saturday night and the weather was perfect, with the sky clear and cool and filled with the light from a Harvest moon overhead. The children came tearing into the kitchen, full of plans about trick or treating, and costumes, and scary jokes. The cookie jar, large and plump with its face carved like the world’s best pumpkin, smiled at them while the note on the lid said, “Don’t Open!”   Of course, they did open the lid; each and every one of them, but no cookies, peanut butter, or chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin were inside.


Christmas Eve had the family gathered at the foot of the Christmas tree, staring at all the packages underneath, and trying to figure out how their wished for ice skates, or  hiking boots, or a Shetland pony fit into the small rectangles of wrapped paper that covered the floor.  Before they could start to whine, Mom turned on the television set and started to play the tape she had been working on all fall.  The silence was broken by giggles as the family recognized the pictures on the screen, then they started laughing, and finally broke into howls.  At the end of the tape, Mom said, “This was a test! Now go ahead and open your presents.”  And there were big books, small books,  red books, green books,  funny books, sad books, and there where even cook books with lots of cookie recipes.



Barbara Relyea

November 28, 2009 - 2 Responses

Welcome to my Blog Spot.  I have some Friday Flash

 stories and will add other gems as they occur.  My writing

buddies, Josie and Harry are here to see that

everything is English and furry and fun.

A Word Of Advice

November 27, 2009 - 3 Responses

            “I don’t know why you have to wear pants all the time?” Millie grimaced and raised her coffee cup, only to discover it was empty..  “It makes you look like you want to be a man, but with that behind, no one is ever going to believe it!”  Millie tapped the inch long ash from her Marlboro light into the half full ashtray, and looked around for another target.  Her roving eye soon spotted the philodendron, much the worse for wear, sitting on top of the aged fridge.

            “You might as well toss that dead weed in the garbage if you can’t manage to keep it watered.  And toss everything in this kitchen right along with it so you can see your countertops.”  She stood up slowly and hobbled over to the fridge and pulled out a diet Coke.  ‘My God, there are five different colors of mold growing in there.  It’s lucky you don’t have food poisoning, the way you live. She carefully brushed off the top of the can on her grungy jeans before opening the top. “As soon as I finish my Coke, I’ll sweep up your kitchen floor.  That will be one step toward a clean house.”  She checked the corners of the small kitchen carefully.  “Don’t tell me you don’t have a broom?  How do you expect to clean anything if you don’t have the right tools for the job? How long have you lived here, anyway?”

             Millie looked around the kitchen again, and then opened the door to the hall closet and returned with a dust mop that was covered with long white dog hair and clumps of dust.  She stepped out the back door and shook the mop until she was satisfied that most of the hair and dust had left to settle on the dying grass in the back yard. Then she began to listlessly sweep first one corner and then the next, until she had a pile of dust, and dog hair, bits of crumpled paper, and an occasional beer can heaped together in the center of the floor.  “Now, don’t tell me you don’t even have a dustpan?  How am I supposed to pick up all this junk and put it in the garbage?  What do you mean; sweep it out the back door?  Is that what you have been doing? No wonder the back yard looks like something died there.”  She began to move the pile of trash towards the open back door.

  “Your mama would be turning over in her grave if she could see this dump.  I know she taught you to keep house better than this.  Herbert always used to tease her that you could eat off her floor, it was that clean. And she lived on a farm with all the kids tracking in mud when they forgot to take their shoes off on the back porch.  I always wished my mama had been half as hard working.”  She shook out the dust mop again, and returned it to the hall closet.  The floor was cleaner, but that wasn’t saying much.  There were stains and splotches that needed to be mopped and scrubbed, but that was more than Millie could manage to do.

“Oh my, it’s almost four o’clock.  Herbert will be home soon, and I need to get supper started.  I am going to make meatloaf and mashed potatoes tonight.  He does love my mashed potatoes!  He told me once that was why he married me, just to get a lifetime supply of homemade mashed potatoes.”   Millie looked around the room again, and then sat back down at the table and pulled out another Marlboro light.  “I’ll peel the potatoes, just as soon as I finish this cigarette.”

Food Diary

November 27, 2009 - Leave a Response

Dolly Schwartz grabbed the purple notebook from the stack on the table full of  Back to School supplies at Target.  It was just what she needed for her food diary. She had never tried keeping any type of diary, but the counselors at Super Diet Systems promised that keeping her own record of what she ate every day was the key to successful weight loss. At 259 pounds, it was time for her to get her weight under control. She knew she could do it; all she had to do is to find the right way to diet.


At 7:15 am,  the traffic on Washington Street was heavier than usual. Dolly hadn’t managed to have breakfast before leaving for work this morning, so she slid her Honda into the drive-through lane at Hardee’s.  She looked over the choices on the menu board for the best choice for her new diet. She was supposed to choose something with protein for breakfast.  The sausage, egg biscuit  had two kinds of protein. That ought to work just fine.  She ordered a diet Coke and felt very virtuous because she passed on the fried potato chunks.  While she waited for her order, she carefully wrote down her breakfast choice in her new food diary.  She didn’t know what the calorie count was, but she could look that up when she got to work.  This diet thing wasn’t so hard to handle after all. She smiled as she took a large bite of biscuit.


Lunch time was hectic, with a general meeting of all the project managers called for 11:30, so Dolly had her admin assistant run out and get her a salad.  Salads were not her favorite food, but she knew they were on her food choice list, so she ordered the takeout special with added cheese, bacon bits, hard boiled eggs, and the blue cheese dressing.  . She asked her assistant to check for the calorie count on the salad when she picked it up at the restaurant.  She carefully put salad down in her food diary. Then during  the meeting, she told everyone about her new approach to weight control. Since she wasn’t the only one overweight in the meeting,  the others were interested and asked about costs and meeting times.  Even Harrison, the CEO,  looked interested and wrote down the phone number of Super Diet Systems.  His wife had been after him to lose weight for months.


When Dolly rushed through her front door at dusk, she knew she was late for the weekly dinner with her best friends at the Mexican restaurant they all loved.  She pulled on a fresh sweatshirt and clean jeans and sneakers and headed out the door, almost laughing as she got back in her car.  They would be so envious of her new diet.  She would be down to a size 16 in no time. Then she could get new clothes for her vacation to Cancun in July. Life was just too good to be true.  She found her buddies gathered around a table for four at the Cantina staring at the six page menu and discussing what choices sounded best.  Dolly looked carefully through the menu and chose the pork fajitas and the guacamole and chips for a starter.  While they were waiting for the food to arrive, she explained the wonderful new diet to Alice, Jeanette and Raina.  Alice was the only one who never had to worry about her weight.  She had been born with a metabolism that burned up anything she ate.  Normally, this would be a case for extreme jealousy but since Alice ate everything she could get her hands on, the others forgave her for being a size 10.  Jeanette and Raina both weighed more than Dolly, and were very happy to listen to the details of this great new attempt at healthy living.  They also ordered the pork fajitas and shared a platter of nachos.  Alice went wild with enchiladas, tacos, and a burrito along with the guacamole and chips.  She was planning ahead for the flan for dessert, or maybe the sopapillas and ice cream, she wasn’t sure which sounded better. Maybe she would order both and offer to share with the others.


It was close to ten when Dolly got home again, put on her p.j.s, caught the ten o’clock news and popped a bag of popcorn in the microwave for her late night snack. She remembered seeing popcorn on the approved list for snacks.  After finishing off the bag, Dolly crawled into bed and remembered she hadn’t put her dinner or the popcorn in her food diary. “No problem she thought.  I will record them in the morning before I head to work.”  Then a frown appeared between her browns. She hadn’t put in the calorie count for breakfast or lunch, either.  It had been busy at work, and she kept putting it off until she had more time. Unfortunately, she had never found a minute of extra time for record keeping.  “Oh well, tomorrow is another day!,” she thought, as she closed her tired eyes and fell into sleep.


On her second visit to Super Diet Systems, the following Tuesday, Dolly was practically bouncing as she came in the door. Her diet counselor signed her in and asked how her week had gone.  Dolly handed over her food diary with a happy smile and eagerly got onto the scale for her weigh-in.  She was so pleased with how easy the diet had been working.  She couldn’t understand why her counselor was frowning. Then she stared at the scale in astonishment.  This week the scale registered at 264. Something was wrong!

Maybe this diet didn’t work as well as she had thought.  Then her counselor started to look through the food diary. 


“Um, Dolly, about the calories you have listed for the meals you ate? Are you sure you checked portion sizes?  I think we need to go over menu choices again.”



November 27, 2009 - 8 Responses


The wolves appeared out of the dark woods running together silent as the frozen night.   I could hear them panting and running along the open grassland behind my horse. Looking over my shoulder, I saw the five wolves were running spread out in a wide curve… 


The escalator stretched from the main floor up to the second floor.  The steps flowed up in a continuous silver stream, gleaming in the overhead lights.  All I had to do is to step onto the first step, hold on to the slowly moving hand rail, and I would arrive safe and sound on the next floor, but my legs were locked stiff. I could see myself stepping onto the moving steps, but my legs would not move forward. A shout from behind me caught my attention, and I looked behind me to see a masked man in a black skin suit carrying an AK-47 was running directly at me. I was standing in front of the escalator which was his real goal. My legs would not move. A shot rang out. Behind the armed man, the pack of wolves surged through the crowd, fangs gleaming as they surged towards me.


The armed man pushed me aside and leapt on the escalator. I began to fall. The wolves were circling, closer and closer. The mall disappeared and all was dark, except I could still see the wolves falling with me, snarling and snapping whenever they came close . Somewhere in the distance, I could hear my mare whinny in fright,  as though she could see the wolves. I arched my back and tried to force myself farther from the wolves, but I could not move. Every muscle was frozen.


The Mustang responded to my every move. I gunned the gas pedal and it sped down the freeway as though there were no limits.  Ahead I could see the white  topped Rockies, rising from the high plains, and behind me, behind me there were flashing lights, red and blue fires in the rear-view mirror, and the wolves snapped and snarled, closer and closer. In one part of my mind, I knew I was safe because I was inside my car. But the sirens and the wolves all promised instant death. That was wrong, so wrong. Policemen are friends, helpers, the ones we look to when things go wrong, but everything was wrong, so wrong.


In the sky above the freeway, I saw a large helicopter.  Perhaps this was help. Surely a copter could handle wolves and police cars.  It came closer, and I saw the black skin of the copter, and there were no numbers painted on the craft.  As it began to hover over my horse, the sirens stopped, and there was no sound from the wolves.  My horse and I rose in the air toward the opening in the belly of the ship, while strange  impossible faces peered out at us. 


We were falling toward the ship, no longer a copter, but now a huge, silver craft with lights flashing and sounds whipping through the air. Falling, horse, wolves, myself and the Mustang.  All were falling toward a future I didn’t want to know, and falling away from a past I knew far too well.