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The Red Barn

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The Red Barn
By
Ursula Wong

As a woman in a weathered raincoat and loose jeans walked past the curve in the road, a magnificent barn came into view. Its structure was grand and imposing against the turquoise sky. It was red, as most barns are. The roof was black with asphalt shingles. A wooden door rimmed in white led to a loft under the triangle forming the roof.

The woman sloughed along, observing the barn’s detail as she came closer. Some planks showed weathered paint and others were missing paint altogether. Weeds grew around the foundation. Rusted shovels leaned against a wall. The barn doors were open, the inside black like a toothless mouth mocking her.

The woman pushed her hands deeper into her pockets wondering who owned the barn and where they lived. She wondered if it was a family like her own. She wondered if this unknown family had a son whose heart had failed giving him a place in heaven, or if they knew the joy of having a healthy child.

Tears fell to her cheeks as she picked up a rock and threw it at the black mouth. Damn it all!

A golden hair collie ran out of the barn, barking. She froze, as running was pointless. There was nowhere to go; no place to hide; no safe haven to seek. She clutched the collar of her slicker hoping the dog wouldn’t bite.

The animal jumped on her, his front paws on her shoulders and his face inches from hers. She closed her eyes as she tried to push it away, preparing for the worst. The collie leaned in and licked her face.

The woman smiled as she rubbed his neck, enjoying feeling a happy life in her arms once more. “You’re a friendly one, aren’t you?”

The dog bounded back into the barn and the woman continued her walk, the shadow of a smile on her face.

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Gloucester Morning

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                                                               Gloucester Morning
maine-2446045_1920.jpgBy Ursula Wong

Teresa sat on the dock, stretching her toes into the water, trying to imagine herself as a teacher, a politician, a wife, a businesswoman, a . She had just graduated college, and the indecision of what to do next felt like a curse. She hadn’t been happy in weeks.

Gulls flew up singing their cul-cul-cul song as a woman came down the dock, looking scruffy in old sneakers, jeans, and a faded denim shirt. Her gray hair was loosely piled on top of her head. “Hello,” she said.

Teresa smiled and nodded, hoping the woman would keep on walking and let her get back to worrying about the rest of her life.

“I’ve lived in Gloucester for a long time,” said the woman.

Teresa suppressed a moan. This is going to take forever.

“My husband died a few months ago.” The woman brushed away a tear.

Teresa shifted uncomfortably, but motioned the woman to sit down.

She said her name was Mary, and she talked about running barefoot through the village in Sicily where she was born, taking the first steps of love with a man who would become her companion for the next 60 years, and then settling in Gloucester, where her husband had relatives. She spoke of the little darlings who were her children, for she had been a teacher.

“You knew you wanted to be all those things?”

“It was an arranged marriage. I didn’t have a say. As for teaching, it was the only job I could get up here at the time.” Mary looked out over the sea. “I had to learn to love many things in my life. You’re lucky to have choices. I always wanted to be an artist, but never had the chance.”

Teresa smiled. Maybe she was lucky.

The Singing Ghost

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Jen crossed the floor and put another piece of wood into the pot belly stove that radiated warmth and the feeling of comfort. Uncle Alex had lived a long life in the old house with its rafters that smelled like time itself. He had never owned a TV or even a radio. He had even cooked his meals in a cast iron skillet on that stove.

She turned back to the job of sorting his papers. Uncle Alex had stored everything in boxes. Jen opened one and pulled out cancelled checks, a pile of old family photographs, and a discarded sock. In the bottom lay an envelope with her name on it. The note inside read simply, Be nice to Christopher.

She had wanted him to move in with her during those last years, but he had refused, saying he’d miss his friend Christopher too much. Jen had never met Christopher and didn’t know how to contact him, so she had been the only mourner at Uncle Alex’s funeral. She wondered why Uncle Alex had felt the need to tell her to be nice to his friend. She wished she knew how to get in touch.

She missed Uncle Alex with his stories and laughter that had filled every crevasse. She hummed a few bars of an old ditty she had learned in grade school so she wouldn’t feel so lonely.

Someone was singing with her.

“Who’s there?” she called as she picked up the scissors and clutched them in her hand as a weapon. She sprang to her feet.

Uncle Alex had always said there was a ghost in the house. He hadn’t told her it could sing. Who else but Uncle Alex would have a singing ghost. Jen chuckled at the thought.
She hummed a few more bars. No voice joined her this time, and oddly, she felt disappointed. The house seemed colder and lonelier; somehow emptier. Uncle Alex had lived alone there, but had often mentioned how he had never felt lonely. Then, Jen knew why.

“Will you join me, Christopher?” said Jen.

She hummed some more, and there was the voice again. Jen smiled. It was good to have company.

Stanley’s Surprise

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Amber Wolf got a facelift!  Available now, on Amazon. Amber front cover_Kindle

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Stanley’s Surprise

By Ursula Wong

Betty opened the door. “Get out of here!”

As soon as Stanley stepped over the threshold and onto the front porch, she slammed the door shut.  She waited, counting the seconds.  “Twenty-one, twenty-two.” It was a rough neighborhood and he wasn’t supposed to wait this long. Perhaps he was planning something more than their usual make-up-sex.  She felt a tingle run up her spine.  Oh how she loved that man. She opened the door and peeked out.

No one was there.  Leaving the door ajar, she walked down the steps, half-expecting him to jump out from behind the bushes. What was he planning?

“Stanley, are you there?” She curled her toes. This is going to be good.

The wind stirred the leaves, but Stanley didn’t answer.

She went around the side of the house and even looked in the backyard. Her elusive lover had vanished. Had he run out for some whipped cream?

Annoyed, Betty stomped back inside. Two can play this game.  Who does he think he is making me wait? As she walked down the hallway, an arm grabbed her around the waist.

This is it! Sex with a burglar. “Oh Stanley,” she cooed.

A gloved hand covered her mouth. Her eyes filled with the look of terror. This isn’t Stanley.

Deception

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My new tale of Peru called The Baby Who Fell From the Sky is Free until 5 February. Download a copy and enjoy the read. As always, I’d appreciate it if you left a review.

 

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Deception
By
Ursula Wong

Jack quietly pressed against the door until the lock clicked shut. He took off his camel hair coat and sniffed, noticing a trace of her Chanel, and remembering the explosion of satisfaction that still filled him.  He hung the coat up next to Mary’s, sure that she wouldn’t notice the scent. Sadly, she never noticed anything anymore.  Still, he kicked off his shoes soundlessly, and crossed the floor to the stairs.

Jack froze at a voice coming from inside the bedroom. He pressed his ear against the door and listened.

“He was out ‘till after midnight a few days last week, too.” Mary’s voice.

She noticed I was gone. She missed me, thought Jack. She still cares. A second passed.

“Okay. But I need to be home before Jack gets in.”

Jack grinned. She wanted to be home so she could wait up for him. He felt warm and loved. He realized how much he had missed that feeling. He had been so stupid. She loved him after all. He resolved to be true to her this time. Only her.

“I suppose you’re right. Jack won’t even notice if I’m gone. If he does, he deserves a little pain. He’s given me enough.”

His smile faded.

“I love you, too,” said Mary. “Sweet dreams.”

Jack closed his eyes to a feeling of utter emptiness. When he opened the door, the room was dark and Mary’s form lay still on the bed.  He undressed in the bathroom and quietly crawled in next to her. He put his hands behind his head and fell asleep wondering how it had all come to this.
 

The Inheritance

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The Inheritance

By Ursula Wong

 

Belle went into the kitchen to find Sissy wedging a pry bar behind the cap running along the wall above the wainscoting, sweat running down her cheeks.

“Leave that alone!” Belle said.

“Why? It’s going to be mine eventually. I can do what I want,” said Sissy.

“Grandpa left everything just so, and that’s how I want it to stay as long as I’m alive,” said Belle.

“But this stuff is so old and boring.” Sissy gestured at the honey-colored wood and the stove with blue flowers painted on the enamel. She wiggled the lever against a stubborn nail.

“Didn’t you hear what I said? You leave this house alone and if you don’t like it, well there’s the door. You and Tom can find someplace else to stay.”

“You know we have no place to go.”

“I mean it, Sissy. I don’t want Ed’s handiwork destroyed because you think you have better taste.”

Sissy’s knuckles turned white as she clasped the lever. A chill seized Belle’s back.

Then Sissy giggled and put it down. “I do have better taste.”

Shaking off the discomfort and telling herself that it was just a family quarrel, Belle climbed the stairs to the landing and the rocking chair Ed had made. She sat and gripped the arms, wondering where that girl gotten all her damn nerve.

In a few minutes, Sissy came up carrying a cup of tea and a butter cookie. It was Belle’s best China.

“Thanks.” Belle smiled and took a sip. Maybe Sissy was trying to apologize and had finally gotten the message that she was serious about the house.

“Are you going to be home all day?” asked Sissy.

“Far as I know,” said Belle. As she took another sip, her eyes grew wide. She grabbed her throat. “Did you put something in the tea?”

Sissy giggled.

Belle dropped the cup and saucer to the floor.

Sissy’s voice sounded far away. “It’s okay, Tom. Get the tools and let’s start working.”