I went to the store.
That big one that has everything.
You know which one I mean.
The one that sells anything you need from truck tires to frozen waffles.
I was tempted to buy that two-gallon jar of green olives with pimentos.
It was on clearance. It was hard to resist.
The store was large and filled with hazards.
I felt like Odysseus on his 10-year journey back to Ithaca.
I was just there for some toothpaste and deodorant.
My dog needed some treats and some pee-pee pads.
But dark chocolate and cookies lured me into tempestuous seas.
The cookies would go great with the lotus nectar.
Aphrodite came to me, and saved me.
I escaped the store with her help.
My burden secure, with lusty sinews
I stemmed the tide of relentless humanity.
A mechanical minotaur made one last attempt on my life.
I dodged a cyclops, and I was free.
I bought the wrong deodorant because I couldn’t read the fine print,
And respite from your life ableak
So carry me home that I may spring forth
The love from ancient days
I carry the secrets of the winds
And those beyond the grave
I picked up my treasure ever so carefully
Accepting its gifts from on high
To cradle it home to live in peace
And love and faith with me
Morning light brought a rustling and
a thumpety thump thump thump
As my astonished eyes fell on the scarf
erupting a billow of bunnies from out the silver bowl
I laughed with joy as they scampered to me
Jumping ‘n snuggling ‘n cuddling and nuzzling
My heart and spirit inhaled their warmth,
And their downy softness pierced my soul
Then as quick as a blink the bunnies hopped back
nestling into the silver bowl
But before covering themselves with the scarf
Looked back at me with a fluff, wuff and wiggle
I laughed again and when I looked,
no longer were they there
Yet they had carved their images into the inside
and the outside of the bowl
Strangely familiar they all looked to me,
ever watching o’er me as I would find
To emerge thumpety thump thump thump when’er needed
to give me their soft warmth and love, forever mine
Mary Pat Cashman grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois. After moving to the beautiful state of Utah where she raised her family, obtained a law degree at BYU and practiced law, she has come full circle back home to Park Ridge. Upon discovering the amazing Kelly Mayer’s Writing Class, she has since developed a passion for prose, poetry and mythological fiction. When not pursuing her many business and legal interests, she is the voice to paper of our angels, fairies, giants and fluffles of bunnies.
John Everman trembled with excitement when he discovered the foundling on the beach. Ten years married, unable to conceive, and their prayers answered. Wobbly legs carried him back to the Malibu cottage and Marsha. She’ll love this golden-haired beauty.
That was yesterday. Today he slogged to the shoreline with the…child. Marsha’s voice reverberated through his head — Get rid of her or never come back. Shading his eyes, he searched the horizon. How could she be so insensitive, he wondered, his heart sinking like footsteps in sand.
Tears dripped from his cheeks adding to the salt of the ocean as he placed the little one at the water’s edge. You’ll be safe here, he cried. He rose and hurried away. Stopping after a few steps, he turned to see the large fish tail behind the golden locks propelling the little mermaid out to sea.
Wally is a retired engineer and longtime Park Ridg-ian. In the past, he could have been seen acting with the Park Ridge Players, performing with Those Were The Days Radio Players or reading his stories at the Twilight Tales at the Red Lion Pub in Chicago. He has written and published some of his horror stories in obscure anthologies. These days he pursues his avocations with the Park Ridge Library Writers group or reading scripts at Senior Center in Park Ridge.
The Dragonfly Birthday Present
"Hi " said Timmy, as a dragonfly settled lightly on his extended finger, and flapped her wings in greeting. "I'm stuck at home sick today" he whispered to her.
Timmy, sitting in a white Adirondack chair in his backyard, was home sick again this afternoon, while all the other neighborhood kids were in school, or playing in the warm sun during recess, or doing finger painting or book reading, right now.
Timmy wished he could join them, but on his last visit to the doctor, he learned that he had something called COVID-19 (whatever that is, he thought to himself) and must stay home from school for a month.
Through the open window, he could hear his mother and father banging away on their computers. Dad was trying to write another chapter for his book; Mom was trying to compose poetry.
The dragonfly flirtatiously waggled her wings to get Timmy's attention again - which brought a smile to his sad face.
"I wish Mom and Dad weren't so busy every day, and had time to play with me." Timmy sniffled as she flitted to his fac
e to sip his tears. "I'm glad you had time today for me." Suddenly, all was quiet.
"Happy Birthday" sang out his Mom and Dad, who suddenly appeared and sat on the dark blue and violet Adirondack chairs on either side of him.
"But it's not my birthday!" he protested.
"Any day is a birthday if it makes us feel better" they replied. "I see God sent you a present", pointing to the dragonfly lovingly sitting on his extended finger.
"Yes, she's the best birthday present I didn't know I needed, today!" Timmy answered as his 'birthday present' suddenly fluttered away.
Ralph Dellar grew up in Park Ridge and never left (except to attend college). He joined the virtual Writers Group in July 2020 with an idea for a crime novel, and stayed for the writing exercises and encouragement received from all the friendly members. A retired software quality assurance test engineer, his other hobbies/activities include family history/genealogy and 27 years as a Des Plaines 1645 Toastmasters club member.
“This is so beautiful.”
Hearing the words aloud startled me. The sound of my own voice pulled me from my daydream and back into my element.
Staring at the sparkling blue water and listening to the wave crashing to the shore made me drift off somewhere outside myself. A gentle breeze from the sea enveloped me and blew through my hair. I brushed a strand out of my face while the other hand held onto the wood railing. The beach had always been my solace from the craziness of the world. All my life it has been my peace.
Stuck inside my apartment of only 950 sq. ft. due to a worldwide virus gave me a real change from me job, a few good friends and getting to make all my own decisions. At 22, I felt like a real adult. Who knew some weird disease would change the entire world.
I knew why I came to the beach today. Daily I talked to myself and made this decision with the help from my second self, my best friend who listened to me complain every day and never passed judgment. Life is filled with many choices and sometimes I didn’t pick the right one. When I’d argue with myself, the more logical sensitive part of me won every time.
As I walked down each rough wooden board, I remembered some of the steps in my life while I ventured on the road of living on my own and far away from my father. Drilled into my head before every one of the few dates he allowed me to have while in high school would be a list of questions about this date: where are you going, with whom, what will you do? When I’d build up enough courage, I’d ask my friend to spend the night so my date didn’t have to experience a list of questions from him.
Just before this virus hit, I’d had a last date with someone I thought could be ‘the one’. One drink too many found me in his bed. New feelings and exploring each other’s body… wow, this felt exciting. When I sputtered out jumbled words of ‘this is my first time’, he did slow down a little. A different kind of hurt and pain and then a wonderful feeling overwhelmed me.
When my menstrual period didn’t arrive the first month of this horrid lockdown, I looked up the information I needed on the internet. Oh no!
Sharing this news with him via emails, phone calls and texts didn’t any response. Here I am, only two months in, making the only decision I can handle.
Walking down the last few steps on the wood staircase gave me no pause in my thinking. Each step in the sand brought me closer to the glistening water. Going deeper and deeper, pushing each leg into the water, I shivered.
The last thing I heard, “Hey lady, stop. What are you doing?”
Blue-green water covered my head. I breathed my last and just let go.
Sandee Drake is a retired high school French and Spanish teacher whose very first story written in a creative writing class won first place in the university writing contest in 1996. After retirement, she wrote her first novel, Greenebriar’s Garbage under the name S.M. Drake, and the children’s books Where Are We Going? Short Stories for Girls, and Short Stories for Boys. She has just finished the third and final book in this trilogy, Short Stories for Teens. She and her husband have lived in Park Ridge for four years, moving from Flagstaff, Arizona.
Baseball is Lost in The Ivy
It’s a hot muggy afternoon for June, and I am out in the sun and the blue heaven sky, on my Dad’s 70’s web chair with my transistor radio and sunglasses in place, getting ready to listen to the 1:20 Cub game.
The Bleachers at Wrigley Field – YES, I made it back
. Sitting in the stands next to my best friend, drinking our first beer of the season, I look around the park and hear the crack of the bat and the resonating sounds of shouting fans, laughing and whistling to the players, “Hey throw the ball to me!”
One of the best parts of Wrigley Field is hearing Wayne Messmer sing the National Anthem; my hero performing a song my dad loved.
As he walks onto the field, the crowd jumps up, erupting in cheers, and then settles in to hear him raise his booming voice to the heavens. The man needs no introduction. A quick look around and I notice a code of silence as he renders the song. Every time I hear him sing, it’s like the first time. With such emotion, my eyes well up with unmanageable happy tears.
As the game begins we get another beer, the moisture and sweat running down our mugs so we have to drink it quickly as it’s a clear blue sky day and the sun is beating down on us.
To my surprise, a cicada comes whizzing past my face, and at that point I realize I’m only listening to music on my radio. As I take in “Radio Silence” by Thomas Dolby, I’m transformed back into the reality with the heavy weight of the sun on my face and my legs feeling numb on the webbed chair. And, because of this pandemic there is NO baseball or Opening Day. The baseball season I know and love will definitely have to wait “till next year.”
Francine Grossi has lived in Park Ridge for 13 years. She made the move temporarily but ultimately that turned into a permanent stay. She suffered a severe illness that almost cost her life. She is a now disabled/retired and working on her memoir. Francine bounded back but with many struggles and challenges along the way that will remain permanent.
She joined the Park Ridge Writers Group in 2020 with the idea to write “her story” and is ever grateful to have found the workshop and very appreciative of the critique & commentary from its members.
Sunshine and rainbows
Trapped inside a clear box
Something we cannot see or touch
What is inside?
Our beliefs, truths, taken voices
By this democracy within
We would rather call hypocrisy
Instead of facing truly what is within
A hateful world trying to come in
Virus clouds, killer hornets
Floating over our heads
No faces to be seen
On or off
Like it or not
A sure sign of defeat
Sorry we’re closed signs
Only one per customer
Capitol Hill trying hard to stand tall
By all those trying hard to make it fall
Fall to its knees
It just may
but we will rise up
Like we always do anyways
Dark clouds will fade
Letting us take on another day
A new day to crush
That invisible clear box
But wait that rainbow and flower were always standing there
Never trapped never harmed
It was our hearts and opinions
That were so far gone
Writes reflective poetry, children's poetry and short stories
Starting my first writing group in California Laguna Niguel
Now writing with the Park Ridge Writers Group
Follow me on Instagram @poetry_nicole_suzette
I was running barefoot in the meadow behind my house, smiling so widely that laughter poured out. A clear blue sky and orange sun were overhead, soft Kelly-green grass underfoot. My heart pumped my movement, and the wind graciously cooled my hot summer skin.
I ran until my feet reached the end of the meadow and the beginning of the forest. It was here that lived the most beautiful flower imaginable. Strong green stems and bright yellow petals; she stunned against the canopy of dark green forest trees. Seeing her yellow petals elated me, as though she were the treasure at the end of the rainbow, known only to me.
I named her Happiness because of how she made me feel.
I promised to visit her every day.
My promise was kept the whole summer going into my fourth-grade year. Sometimes, the visit was in the morning, when she was just waking up and glistening with dew. We’d sit together and share secrets. Morning is a good time to talk with friends, because no one else is around to eavesdrop. Sometimes, the visit was during the day. I’d bring a sketch pad and pencils to draw and write about adventures and stories percolating in my mind. Some stories made her sway back and forth as though applauding in the wind. Some stories made her lean in closer and droop.
Always, I’d visit her at night. My mom’s call to head in for supper was my cue to respond, “be right there” and my legs would sprint to the end of the meadow to see Happiness once more. Visiting her just before dark hel
ped her feel safe at night, since she was alone and different from all the other plants around her. I understood that feeling.
School started in late August. Fourth grade meant a total commitment to homework and extra-curriculars. I told Happiness, I’d still visit, as often as possible.
But I didn’t.
As the days got shorter and busier, visiting Happiness stopped being a priority. School, sports, music, and friends to keep, all of which seemed to be harder to deal with than before, took the foreground.
A week passed.
A month passed.
In early November, frost hit for the first time of the season. The day that it did, I forgot to turn in my homework at school, got in a fight with my brother at home, and was sent outside to rake the leaves as punishment.
Sulking at the work, I looked around me. The rainbow of colors that had filled my backyard during the summer, had browned and grayed. The wind was no longer gracious, but cold. The sky darkened quickly now, eager to cloak the light.
My mom called out from the kitchen window, “Time to come in for supper.”
My voice started saying “Coming,” but was interrupted by an excited, familiar, “Be right there!”
Frantically, I ran towards the end of the meadow to the edge of the forest. Once there, I looked around desperately for Happiness but there was nothing yellow outside anymore.
Maybe I was too late.
As my head dropped in disappointment, my eyes followed my feelings down to the cold ground. When, suddenly, I saw something. Lying on the ground was a pencil, one of my pencils.
Instinctively, my body lowered and put me at eye level with the browning plant now before me. There was my Happiness. But she was different. Something other than the changing seasons had hurt her. Maybe someone stepped on her not knowing she was there? Maybe an animal ate her petals? Maybe someone made a promise to her and didn’t keep it?
If she had any chance of surviving, it wasn’t in the wild. It was with me. Even wounded, maybe especially so, she was loved.
Carefully, my cold hands dug into the hard dirt and lifted her out of the ground. I held her in my palms, brought her close to my face, and kissed her gently, tears falling from my eyes.
When they landed, her stem glimmered, like the dew she wore on summer mornings. There was still green within her.
She, like me, had some challenges with growing up and she, like me, was not giving up.
In the evolving, uncertain world surrounding us, I knew the next step forward.
I took Happiness home to bloom again.
Diana lives in Park Ridge with her family. She recently joined the Park Ridge Writers Group and already is grateful for the motivation and inspiration it brings. She loves creating worlds and hope through words. Her pet peeve is condensation on cups.
In the Sewer
I was half asleep, standing in Mr. Hedrix’s back yard. Another day working for Marty as a plumber’s helper.
Marty made the introduction, “Mike. This is Bill. You’ll be working with him today and probably the rest of the week.”
“Hi. Nice to meet you.”
“You’ll be rodding the drains at the Harting’s Corn Beef plant on the near west side of Chicago. Seems they’re backed up.”
Bill and I climbed into the van and drove to the assignment.
This was my favorite part of the day, driving to the worksite. I usually hoped for a long drive, to rest before taking on the labor of the day. It was quiet. We engaged in a little small talk about the Cubs.
Upon arrival, we entered the basement. I flinched. The stench was overpowering. The basement of the meatpacking plant was flooded with reddish water, fat, and other rancid meat byproducts.
“Oh God! We gotta stand in that?!
“No problem, we have waders.” Bill said calmly.
We dressed the part and entered with various plumbing apparatus and tools.
“What was that?” I asked.
Bill responded, “Sounded like one of the rat traps just tripped.”
The thought of sharing a pool of water with swimming rats gave me the “shivers”.
We struggled with the “snake”, as we rodded the drains. The job took 4 days, until a whirlpool confirmed our breakthrough and a job completed.
We exited the dark dungeon and entered the bright prairie fire of late afternoon; took off our waders and put away the tools of our craft.
“Wow. I’m parched!”
Bill responded, “Me too! Let’s hit a nearby tavern for a couple of “brewskies”.
We entered the “dump” around the corner. We were in skid row, a dilapidated section of Chicago and home to bums, bar flies, alcoholics, and others down on their luck. A quick look around at the clientele affirmed the geography. The dark, cool room revealed about 15 haggard, threadbare, unshaven inhabitants, some drinking beer, others whiskey. Across the bar there was a guy named Tom. Tom’s teeth were missing, putting less between him and his brew, as he sucked down his draft, smacked his lips and grunted with pleasure. This was soon followed by gasping and a coughing fit.
“What’s your pleasure?” asked the bartender.
“Two beers, make it Budweisers.” Bill responded.
“Pay up front.” the bartender stated. Bill dropped a ten, the bartender returned with his change and the two drinks.
We gulped down our first mouthful. The beer was cold, and the bottle was wet.
“Ahhh! This hits the spot!”
“Sure does!” I responded.
As I tried to step back from the bar, I felt the soles of my boots sticking to the floor; much like this place seemed to hold the souls if its patrons close to their addictions.
We engaged in casual conversation until Bill brought it to a different level. “I was curious. We’ve been working together for 4 days. You never asked about my face?”
Bill had no face.
He had been burned beyond recognition.
I responded, “I was curious. But I thought it would be better to let you determine if you wanted to discuss it.”
Bill paused, reflected. “I was at a Bar-B-Q at the Hedrix’s. Marty had all the guys and their families over. I was working the grill, trying to get the coals going. I sprayed the coals with lighter fluid. The stream ignited, the fire traveled up the stream and the can of lighter fluid exploded in my face.”
“Oh my God.”
“That was four years ago.”
“Was there anything you could do? Plastic surgery?”
“There was. My wife and I discussed it. She was all for it. But it was awfully expensive. We have three daughters; all were approaching college age. We couldn’t afford both the college educations and the multiple surgeries. I insisted. We chose college.”
Our bottles ran dry, we ordered another.
The bartender said, “No. That’s it! You need to leave.”
A quick survey of the place revealed the ‘bums” had left our section and were congregating at the far end of the bar. One made a gesture, pinching his nose with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. The group around him exploded in laughter.
“Out with ya! Now.” the bartender insisted.
Bill picked up his keys and change and we left to the bright sun of the sidewalk outside.
“Man! Did we really stink that bad?” I asked.
“There’s one for our grandchildren!” Bill exclaimed. “How many people can claim they’ve been bounced out of a skid row bar?”
We rode home in silence and said our goodbyes.
I never saw Bill again. But I remember him, the kind man behind that mask of horror, who yet, was so unaffected.
Mike McGovern is a long-term resident of Park Ridge where he lives with his wife Susan. He is a retired Human Resources consultant who worked for local companies including Abbott Labs, Navistar, Tribune, Amoco, and the Chicago Transit Authority.
Mike joined the Park Ridge Writers Group and began writing flash fiction to “maintain his sanity” during the COVID pandemic. To date, Mike has written fifty-four short stories. He credits his wife Sue for encouraging him to commit his “stories” to paper and is grateful for the support and feedback he has received from his colleagues in the Park Ridge Library writers group.
we were not born dead
but the spark of life was somehow soon extinguished
and we moved like wraiths among the living
not noticed and not desired
detached observers never belonging
searching and never finding
always at pains to understand
while filling time with that which was at hand
until eventually never having lived we died
Francesca N. Pieraccini was born in Italy and studied both there and here. Her interests are cosmology, mathematics, writing, evolution, paleontology, and ancient civilizations. Most of all, she is a proud mother.
I have no idea why I am still here. I can’t believe that I did all of this in the last part of my life. Come on, it wasn’t that hard. Surely, someone else must have come up with the same idea, just put all of those other ideas together, and it will work 1,2,3! I am not that smart. I’m Just a technician. All of that high tech science I got from the lectures and website about physics. It just seem so easy. I can’t be the only one?
Oh, here comes that nurse again. You would think that she had other patients around here. No, I guess not. I am the only one. Her special project.
“Morning, Mr. Silva, and How are we doing this morning? It’s a nice day outside. Maybe we can take a stroll later. I think you would like that, wouldn’t you?” She said all that and still smiled.
Yeah, that would be nice. I had to be careful, we’re related, a third cousin I think. It would be a chance to get out for once. I just smiled up at her and nodded “Yes.”
“Do you need to go to the bathroom? Your breakfast will be here in a minute. Yes, here it comes now. Hmm, looks good. Oatmeal, juice, fruit, and half a cup of coffee.”
“I need two cups!” I said as I look up at her with disapproval on my face. What ever happen to “Steak and Eggs.” I don’t even dream of that food anymore. I am losing it.
“Please, I don’t need any help feeding myself,” I said as I picked up the fork and knife. She gave me a sad face, and padded my cheek. Hmm, are we related? Most of the people here are relations. Almost all of the engineers are, I paid for their education. The project was really doing well. With the help of my brothers, we made more than enough money to afford to give all the families’ children a college education and then some.
Ah yes, here comes my doctor, my nice Katy, My Brother Rene’s daughter. She was in her fifties, and didn’t show it a bit. She took care of her grandfather in his last years. I was still older than he was.
“Hey, uncle Hank, how are you feeling this morning?” Dr. Hernandez said.
My mouth was full with oatmeal, but I smiled and nodded “Yes.” As, I swallowed, I ask “Hey, think I can get “Steak and Eggs, Sometime?”
Katy just smiled and replied, “Maybe, but only if your levels are good, OK?. Then I’ll make an exception”
She stepped aside and talked to the nurse, as she made annotations on my clipboard.
I ate more oatmeal, and a bite of fruit, I was going to save my coffee for last. I couldn’t hear a word they were saying. It’s when they laugh, that I knew something was up. I so did enjoy my coffee.
After breakfast, I got out of bed, and walked around. I picked up the few newspapers that were still being printed. I sat in a chair by the window. The news was never good. I often wish I could make a major change, but that was against the rules I setup a long ago. Major changes will cause the “timeline” to be lost. If the “timeline” is lost, so are you. Have to stay on your “timeline.” I never left mine or tried it, but the early test I did, just didn’t give me any assurance that a new “timeline” would be the same. I thought about it long ago, “timelines” are being made all the time. “Do something or not do something” Timelines. “Turn right or turn left” Timelines. “Time Travel” cannot be played with. Once you break out, you can almost never get back. Yes, that’s right, I said almost. Some lines, if not all, are “one way.” I just never had the time or resources to find out. Maybe the new section will find out. Maybe they will find that the line they come back to, will find this lab under government control. Take care kids. Now stop it. You’re going off on tangents. The last time you did that it was time for bed. Don’t waste your day. Remember you may go outside today.
It was a bright clear day. Looking out of the windows, and Down into the courtyard, yes the same area that the junkyard was located. The flowers and the birds made a great scene. The cameras were always running. There was always the chance that some of us might appear in that special space.
That nurse came in with a wheelchair. Good, good.
She walked up to me and put a thermometer in my mouth, and picked up my wrist. I could see her head bounce side to side as she watched her wristwatch. She dropped my wrist, and waited another minute and looked at the thermometer. She smiled as she made annotations on my clipboard. Once she was done, she said, “Ok, hop abroad, and let’s go for a ride.”
“No. not that proctologist again!” I whisper.
“Stop it. Besides, he isn’t here this week.” She sapped.
“I remember you! You’re the rotten kid; you’re my cousin Bob’s grand-daughter.” I said pointing my finger up at her.
She so smile at me as she replied, “Yes, and you are mine now.”
“So Helen, how are your grandparents doing out in California?” I smiled to her.
I couldn’t wait to get outside. Off we went. Through the doors of the clinic, and I did wave to Katy. Down the main hallway of the main floor. Meeting today. Status and Discussions of Procedures, and their Trials. I do hope we don’t lose anyone. They are all family. The elevator, and down. First floor, turn right and right again, and out to the garden. The air smelled oh so fresh, and the flowers were so colorful. I was acting like a kid. I asked the nurse for a hand, as I stood up. I started to walk slowly. I wanted to enjoy the garden. It was June, a birthday was around the corner. 2047, and I will be a hundred. John is in charge now, that guy worked behind the scenes to observe and make sure things worked right. I never saw him, but he was always there, on my six. A few more steps and I looked up to see planes from Midway fly over. The air was great out here. I held my hand out, and the nurse came with the wheelchair. She helped me sit. I said “Thank you.” She asked if I was ready to go in. I said “Not just yet.” She did take me back; I had fallen asleep just a few minutes later.
“Afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I now call this meeting of Emit to order.” The meeting was being chaired by Sara Wilson my granddaughter. She is good at this, just wished she wouldn’t call me “Papa” when I raise my hand.
I was still dosing on and off. The meeting had members of department heads, theoretical planning, and action teams. The techniques of time travel have leaped well into the twenty-first century. All travelers now carry the entire device with them. It’s about the size of a laptop. Up behind the speaker are the words:
We can’t go forward, 'less we study the pass.
We just can’t go forward in time, it doesn’t exist yet. So we adjust the pass. Since the company was over fifty years old, we had over fifty years to adjust and that just put money in our kitty. That was our business.
Henry C. Silva Jr. grew up in Chicago. He served in the United States Air Force from December 1967 to May 1988 in computer operations. He worked for the State Of Illinois, Industrial Commission, as a Network Engineer and is now retired.