Happy Saint Patrick's Day

In celebration of one of my favourite holidays, here's a little story for you. :-)

What the Leprechaun Said

Fiona sat in her favourite spot under the whitethorn tree, her back resting against its gnarled trunk. The tree grew from the center of what her Gran considered the wild garden, the part of the garden reserved for the wee folk.

It was going to break her heart to have to say goodbye to the place. The letter from the bank had been a total shock; this property had been in the family for generations. She was just glad Gran wasn't around to see it come to this.

"Fee? You out here?"

"Over here," she called back, hastily wiping away her tears.

She was joined by her friends Tammy and Gillian, who sat down, one on either side of her. They'd been friends forever. Even after they grew up and went their separate ways in college - Gillian into finance, Tammy into teaching, and Fiona into art - they'd stayed close.

"I don't know why you love this old tree so much," Tammy said. "It's so scraggly looking." "Gran's Gran planted this tree the day she arrived from the old country. Gran told me she used to meet the wee man under this tree."

"Your Gran met him, or your Gran's Gran?"

"Both of them," Fiona said with a ghost of a smile. "The 'sight' skips every other generation. Apparently you need the 'sight' to see them."

Tammy and Gillian looked at each other over her head.

Nobody spoke for a few moments until Fiona couldn't stand it any longer. "Well?"

"I'm sorry, hon," Gillian said, voice laced with regret. "It looks like your Uncle Sean started siphoning off funds from the trust account about ten years before he died. Between the falling interest rates and the rising taxes, the trust fund just couldn't keep up."

"So that's it," Fiona said duly. "I'm broke."

"Maybe Gillian and I--"

"No. Absolutely not." Fiona was adamant. "I'm not taking money from my friends to pay the back taxes. There's got to be another way."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

That night, Fiona dreamed of her Gran in the garden. "Remember the wee man," she said, and then walked right into the whitethorn tree. Fiona woke with a start.

From her bedroom window she could see the whitethorn tree bathed in moonlight. Tammy was right, it did look a little scraggly. She was really going to miss that tree, and the garden.

She remembered that Gran used to keep Guinness around to water the tree with once a month. And didn't she leave oat cakes or soda bread or something like that as well? For the wee man who lived there, she'd said.

Before Fiona could stop to think about it, she'd pulled on her jeans and a sweat shirt and was checking the cupboard under the stairs where Gran used to keep her liquor. There was no Guinness, but she found a bottle of Jameson's that was three-quarters full. Shrugging, she carried it into the kitchen and snagged a box of oatmeal cookies on her way out the back door.

Midnight found her sitting under the whitethorn tree, the moonlight streaming down on her.

"Here's to you, Gran," she said, waving the bottle in the air before taking a sip. She choked and coughed as the liquor burned its way down. "And here's to your wee man - I hope whoever ends up living here next will treat him right."

"Now ye would'na be thinking of pouring that good whiskey on the ground now, would ye?"

Fiona yelped, and almost dropped the bottle as a tiny man dressed in green appeared beside her.


"'Tis a good thing yer an artist instead of a writer. Now just pour a wee drop in here." He held out a tiny cup.

"You . . . you're a leprechaun!"

"Aye, it's observant she is." He tipped back the cup and then held it out again. "Did your Gran ne'er tell ye the story of how I came over on the boat with her Gran? 'Twas more than eighty years ago an' I been guarding her treasure ever since."

"What? Wait. What treasure?"

"Why the treasure the first Fiona O'Shea brought with her from the Green Isle," he said, polishing off another cupful of whiskey. "She saved me life, you know, from that flea bitten ship's cat. And in return I promised to guard her gold until she had need of it."

"Tell me more about my great-great-Grandmother and her gold." Fiona settled back against the tree. "And would you like a cookie to go with your whiskey?"

"Thank ye kindly," the leprechaun said. "But would ye happen to have any pipe tobacco on ye?"

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

"I can't believe your great-Grandmother buried a fortune in gold in the garden," Gillian said as they sat on the patio enjoying a glass of wine. "And your Gran knew about it and never said a word?"

"It was my great-great-Grandmother, and Gran never said anything because as far as she knew there was no need, she had plenty of money already."

"Until your Uncle Sean got his hands on it," Tammy said darkly. "But how did you know exactly where to dig?"

Fiona smiled as she looked over to the base of the whitethorn tree where she'd left a pint of Guinness an ounce of the finest pipe tobacco she could find. "I just followed what the leprechaun said."


A Valentine's Treat

Here's a special story written just for Valentine's Day. It ran a little long, but sometimes stories do that. Hope you enjoy:

Forever Love

The park was almost empty as Laurie hurried along the cobblestone path. A couple sat on a bench, heads together, oblivious to the world. An old man with a cane stood on the stone bridge spanning the brook, staring into the water as if looking for answers to life's mysteries. A woman walked quickly along the path in the opposite direction, pulling a reluctant terrier behind her.

Laurie held her breath as she reached her destination. Was she too late?

"I was beginning to wonder if you was gonna show up, missy."

Letting her breath out slowly, Laurie looked up at the old caretaker. "You, more than anyone, know how much I live for this."

A smile crackled across the old face. "Aye, you be one of the special few, that's for sure. Hop on up, missy."

With an answer grin, Laurie jumped nimbly up onto the platform, touching smooth carved heads as she circled around to her favourite, the most life-like of the horses, the dappled grey. She seated herself sideways on his back and held on to the post securing him to the carousel.

Soft music filled the air as the carousel began to move, not the harsh, blaring sound of the calliope, but something softer, gentler. Laurie's grip on the post tightened as the carousel spun faster and faster; her eyes closed and she leaned back as the magic filled her.

At last the carousel began to slow, but her eyes stayed closed.

"Come live with me and be my love, and we will all the pleasures prove." The words caressed her neck from behind in a breath of warm air.

"Tristan." His name came out as a sigh and Laurie turned her head to receive his kiss.

"Come, I have a picnic awaiting us." He took her hand, pulling her off the horse and into his arms for a quick embrace before leading her away.

"Impatient are we?" A very unladylike giggle slipped out before she could prevent it.

He grinned over his shoulder at her. "Our time together is so limited, I don't want to waste a second of it."

There was a blanket spread out by the brook, a picnic basket waiting for them and a bottle of wine chilling in the water. They ate and laughed and made love and as they lay entwined together after Laurie felt she'd never been so happy, nor would she be again. A sigh escaped.

"What is it, my love?"

"I wish I could stay like this forever."

He held her close and buried his face in her hair. "As do I, love. As do I."

Later, when they were dressed again and the picnic things put away, he walked her back to the carousel.

"Did you know that the carousel was originally a combat preparation exercise and game played by the Turkish and Arab horsemen late in the twelfth century?"

"No, I didn't." Laurie smiled up at him. "Your point being?"

"My point being, I want you to know that if fighting is what it takes to keep you here with me, I will fight any battle to do so."

"Oh, Tristan." Tears pricked at her eyes and she held him close. "We'll find a way. There has to be a way."

"You'd better go," he said, reluctantly loosening his hold. "Already I can feel you fading."

Laurie shivered, remembering the time when she thought by ignoring the pull of the carousel she could remain. The carousel pulled her back into her world anyway, and it had taken her days to recover.

He stood on the ground beside the platform, eyes locked on hers as the carousel began to move.

"I'll be back!" she called out to him. "Just as soon as I'm able."

"And I'll be here, waiting." His voice was fading but she heard him add, "I will wait forever for you."

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

"There's something that needs saying," the caretaker told her when she dismounted.

He looked away, towards the trees and then at the ground before looking at her again. Laurie felt a chill of unease curling in her belly.

"The city has decided to shut down the carousel. Too old fashioned, they say. Kids aren't interested in such a tame ride."

"What are you saying?" The unease blossomed into fear at the solemn look on his face.

"There be only enough time left for a handful of rides. "

"No!" A terrible grief filled her. "It can't be true."She gripped his arms as tears spilled down her face. "There has to be something I can do, some way of sending me across forever."

"It's only your spirit that crosses through the portal, not your body. I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do."

Laurie let go of his arms and took a step back. "Why didn't you tell me earlier? You must have known what was going to happen to the carousel for weeks now."

He looked at her sadly. "I thought you already knew."

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

"The caretaker said it's only my spirit that crosses over," Laurie said, as she lay in Tristan's arms. "Does that mean you're a spirit too?"

"In a sense. I crossed over many, many years ago."

"But how--"

"I died, my love. At least my body died in the earthly realm. My spirit remained here."

"And you've spent all this time alone?"

He sighed and sat up, pulling her up beside him. "Love is nothing, if not honest, and I need to tell you that I was not always alone. I have had visitors, from time to time, but," he put a hand under her chin to turn her face up to his, "None have I shared myself with as I have you. And none hold my heart, save you."

She melted into his embrace and he eased her back down to the blanket again. But her thoughts were not entirely on their love making.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Clutching a small vial in her hand, Laurie hurried along the cobblestone path to the carousel. The caretaker was waiting for her, sorrow lining his face.

"This be your last ride," he told her sadly. "They're dismantling the carousel tomorrow."

"At least I have a chance to say goodbye," Laurie said. In more ways than one. Impulsively she hugged the old man. "Thank you for being such a good friend."

He stared at her in surprise, and a little concern, as she released him and jumped nimbly up on the carousel platform.

"Now let's get this show on the road! The moon is full, it's Valentine's Day, and my true love awaits."

Shaking his head, the old man started up the carousel. As the horses began to move he saw her raise a hand to her mouth, swallowing something she held. He might have been able to stop her, might have stopped the carousel and called 911, but he did none of those things. Instead, a smile crossed his face as the magic of the carousel took her away.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

It was different this time. No, she was different. Laurie didn't dare get her hopes up so soon.

"Tristin? Where are you?"

Had her planned worked a little too well? Had she been spirited away to some other realm instead? No, there he was, hurrying towards her.

"It's been weeks! I thought I'd never see you again." He held her in a bone crushing embrace. "I didn't even get a chance to say a proper goodbye."

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. There were things I needed to do. But I'm here now."

He kissed as though he could drink her down, and then led her to their spot by the brook where they made love with a fierce passion, and then again with a gentle desperation.

"I want you to promise me something," he said as they lay basking in the dappled sunlight.


"That you will find someone on the other side, someone who will make you happy. And children . . . you should have children."

Laurie rolled over onto her side, propping herself up on one elbow so she could look down at him. "And what about you?"

He still refused to meet her eyes. "I will continue on as I have, there is no other choice."

"Tristin, do you love me?"

He sat up suddenly, nearly bowling her over. "What kind of question is that? You know I do! You are my heart and soul."

"Good." She sat up to face him. "I just wanted to be sure. Eternity is too long to spend with each other if you're not sure."

" What have you done?" His voice came out in a whisper.

"What had to be done." She took his face in her hands so she could stare into his eyes. "You once said, "Come live with me and be my love." Life without love would be no life at all. It was my choice to make, and I chose you."

He could see the truth in her eyes. With an inarticulate cry he gathered her into his arms, holding on as though he'd never let her go. His face was buried in her hair and she heard words like love and sacrifice and eternity, before he loosened his grip enough to kiss her fiercely.

"This world is amazing, and I finally get to show it to you," he said, pulling back. "I don't know where to start."

"Well," Laurie said, laying back down on the blanket. "I believe you also mentioned something about "we will all the pleasures prove." I'd say that would be a good place to start."

And prove it they did.

** The poem quoted is The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, by Christopher Marlowe and can be found Here.


The Time Has Come . . .

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--"

~Lewis Carroll

When I first created this blog, it was because there just wasn't enough room on a single blog for everything I wanted to post. However, it didn't take me long to figure out that I was spending more time on blog posts than I was on any other writing. No wonder I was getting nowhere fast.

For more than a year now, I've solved the problem by posting duplicate posts on my two blogs while I procrastinated as to a permanent solution.

It was clear one of my blogs had to go. After much debate and waffling, I have decided that I will no longer be posting here at Random Writings.

I appreciate the fact that I have more followers here than over at my other blog, but I get more traffic to the other one so . . .

For the time being I'll keep this blog active, but if you'd like to see any new content, you'll need to come on other to: Carol R. Ward, Author.

Can't wait to see you there!


What I'm Reading

Like my header? It's only one of my fourteen bookcases. :-)

You'd think with me spending so much time sick last week I'd have got more reading in, but frankly I really couldn't focus well enough to read. But I did get some reading in . . .


Okay, I have a confession to make. When I included Electronic as a reading category, it was under the assumption that I would resume my daily reading routine. AKA reading my Kindle while riding the exercise bike. However, I've been sick so this did not happen. So I have not yet started The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian. Incidentally, it's free on Amazon right now if you want to get your own copy. It looks like it's going to be really good - it's a fantasy set in an alternate Renaissance based world.

I did read a book on my lap top last week though. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. While I've read many of Chuck's articles before, this is the first of his fiction I've read. It was . . . interesting. It centers around Miriam, a foul-mouthed young woman with a special gift that she neither asked for nor wants. Her main source of income is robbing the dead. The language and violence are pretty graphic, so it's not for the faint of heart. Still, the story pulled me in and you can't help rooting for Miriam as she tries to change the future.

Tree Books

I finished reading Black Creek Crossing by John Saul. It was a long book. And pretty creepy. As I said last week, the story centers around Angel Sullivan, whose family has just moved into the house at Black Creek Crossing where a man stabbed his wife and daughter to death. Angel is a bit of a misfit, as is her only friend, Seth. The bullying these two undergo seems really extreme, but maybe I'm just being naive. And there's a scene where the bullies kill a cat . . . yeah it was a ghost cat and it reappears later, but it was a bit stomach turning, especially to a cat lover. I liked how the cat appeared at opportune times to help the kids and lead them to the spellbook, but I'm puzzled as to why it didn't just disappear when the bullies attacked it. The ending was both graphic and a little surprising. That was not the way I saw it going. To be perfectly honest, I'm just happy I made it all the way through.


I've only managed to read two more stories out of the Sword and Sorceress anthology. There's a reason for this, of course. It's my downstairs bathroom book. What? You don't keep books in your bathroom? What's the matter with you? I read the entire Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov in the bathroom. Took me forever, but I did it. :-)

An interesting bit of trivia, regarding the Sword and Sorceress series. Vera Nazarian made her first sale to Marion Zimmer Bradley for this series.

I'm just a font of interesting facts, aren't I? ;-)


Earth - Chapter Six

This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!

Ch 1 ~ Ch 2 ~ Ch 3 ~ Ch 4 ~ Ch 5 ~

Chloe rested her head against the closed door, breath coming out in a shuddering sigh. What had she been thinking? Hiding the ship, hiding the pilot in her own home . . . If Gannon ever found out she had anything to do with their disappearance, they were all dead. Or worse.

There'd been many things that crashed on the surface before, and many of them Gannon had never found. But he'd never done a house to house search before. Not even when there'd been an escape from the mines.

It had been so close. And what happened to Zephryn?

Making sure the door was locked, she pushed away from it and headed back to her room.

"Zephryn?" she called out tentatively.

"Is it safe to come out?"

His voice was muffled and she looked around curiously, unable to pinpoint the source.

"Yes, they're gone. At least for now."

Her bed shifted slightly and she watched in shocked amusement as he began to wriggle his way out from under it. Halfway out he suddenly stopped.

"Damn it! I'm caught on something."

Chloe gave a strangled laugh. How had he ever managed to fit under there in the first place? "How did you know to hide?"

He gave a jerk, grunted, and the bed hopped in place. "Intuition." Another tug and he was free. "I believe this is yours." He rose to his feet, holding aloft an undergarment she'd lost weeks ago.

Face aflame, Chloe snatched it out of his hand.

"Now, I think we need to talk," he said.

"I--" The sound of a bell's chime cut her off. "That's my mother. I'll be right back."

Chloe hurried down the hall to her mother's room. Just her luck he wanted to talk. This just kept getting worse and worse. What was she supposed to tell him? She hoped her mother was lucid enough to tell her what to do.

Not only was Tierra awake, she was reasonably alert. "What by all the stars is going on, girl? Who was that man that invaded my bedroom?"

"Are you all right?" Chloe tried to straighten the blankets over her mother but her hand was slapped away.

"Stop fussing and answer me."

She sighed and sat on the edge of the bed. "Gannon's doing a house to house search for the pilot of the ship that crashed."

Tierra's eyes narrowed. "How does he know it was a ship?"

"He doesn't, but he's wants me out with the search crew tomorrow. Mother--"

"You hid the ship and brought the pilot here, like I told you?"

"Yes, but why--"

"I'd like to know why too," Zephryn said from the doorway.

Chloe gasped and turned so fast she nearly fell off the bed. "I told you I'd be right back!"

"I've never liked waiting," he said with a cheeky grin.

Tierra eyed him, a frown on her face. "You'd be Wind, from the looks of you."

"Yes ma'am. Zephryn WE-02-47-03, at your service." He gave a slight bow.

"Too bad," Tierra muttered. "We can't hide you in the cave."

"Why not?" Chloe asked, utterly confused by the turn the conversation had taken.

"Wind Elementals are notoriously claustrophobic. We'll have to see if Granny knows some place we can hide him."

"Wind Elemental?" Chloe looked from Zephryn to her mother. "What's a Wind Elemental?"

"Show her, boy."

Zephryn fixed his beautiful grey eyes on her. Suddenly, Chloe felt a breath of air, like a ghostly hand caressing her face. When the caress started to move downwards, she shook it off, jumping to her feet. "Cut it out!"

"Sorry," he said, looking not one bit sorry at all. "And actually ma'am," he looked towards Tierra. "Caves don't bother me at all. I was pretty much raised in a cave."

"Excellent. Chloe can show--"

"You're Earth Elementals, aren't you?" Zephryn asked abruptly. "I don't know why I didn't see it before. How did--"

"Stop it! Both of you!" Chloe had had enough. She glared at the pair of them. "Nobody says another word unless it's to answer my questions."

Her mother was shocked into silence while Zephryn was back to looking amused.

"First of all, how did you know it was a ship that crashed?" she asked her mother.

"The earth told me." Though Tierra said it in a decisive tone, she plucked at the bed clothes and wouldn't look at Chloe.

Chloe's eyes narrowed. There was more to it than that, but for some reason her mother was being evasive. "All right. But why was it so important to hide the ship?"

"Use your head, girl. We wouldn't want Gannon to find the ship."

"But what difference would it have made to us? No offense," she added with a glance towards Zephryn.

"None taken. But I agree, what difference would it have made if anyone found my ship? Under the articles of space--"

Tierra made a rude noise. "You think Gannon cares anything for any law but his own? He would have confiscated your ship and you'd spend the rest of your life so deep in the mine you'd forget what the sun looked like."

"Surely--" Chloe began.

Her mother cut her off with a decisive gesture. "We need that ship more than Gannon does."

"Whatever for?"

"Why to escape, girl."


Wildcard Wednesday

Welcome to the first (and perhaps only, I haven't made up my mind yet) Wildcard Wednesday.

You know, this seemed like a really good idea at the time, but I think I was drawn more to the name than anything else. I have a thing for alliteration, in case you hadn't noticed. When you think about it, this is pretty much just my Random Rambling moved from Friday to Wednesday. And I was already struggling coming up with topics for Fridays. So I really didn't think this through fully.

Anyway. I was in the kitchen last night, bagging up chili for the freezer and trying to think of something to write about for today, and it suddenly came to me. Chili is one of my comfort foods. I could write about comfort food.

Chili isn't so much a comfort food as a food-to-eat-on-a-cold-and-snowy-day. That's not my chili picture above, but it's close enough. My chili takes about three days to make. I start with dried kidney beans and soak them overnight. Then I cook them for a day before I start adding the rest of the ingredients and it simmers for another few hours until it's done. But you can't eat it right away. Everyone knows you have to have to let it sit for at least 24 hours (in the fridge) before it's any good.

Normally I have my chili with some grated cheddar cheese, the sharper the better. My sister likes to serve it with rice and Tostitos, and while I've been known add some rice to my chili to stretch it out or tone down the heat, Tostitos just seems like over kill to me. :-)

Tomato Chowder is one of my all time favourite comfort foods. It's hot and soothing and cheesy . . . yum! The link is to the recipe from the picture, which is actually the original recipe I have from my aunt who made the best Tomato Chowder ever. I, of course, have tweeked the recipe slightly (because that's what I do), but there's nothing like a nice bowl of this creamy, cheesy soup to warm you up on a cold winter's day or to perk you up when you're feeling down.

But my all time favourite comfort food is Cream Tuna On Toast. The recipe is simple: take a can of flaked tuna and drain the juice into a bowl. Set the bowl on the floor for the cat. Empty the tuna into a pot. Then pour a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup into the same pot and stir it up. Don't get cheap on the soup - none of that generic crap, it has to be Campbell's. You can add a little milk to thin it out if you want, just don't add too much. Now at this point some people might be tempted to add peas to it, and I have just one word for them - DON'T! Just . . . don't. It is so wrong on so many levels.

Now, while your soup and tuna is heating up you can make your toast. My mother used to push fresh bread into a muffin tin and toast them in the oven to make little toast cups, but that's because she was awesome. Purists will ladle hot cream tuna over their piece of toast and use a knife and fork to eat it in a civilized fashion. I, on the other hand, cut up my toast into bite sized pieces and pour the cream tuna over it in a bowl. But I still eat it with a fork. ;-)

Getting hungry yet? What's your comfort food?


Myrmecoid Monday

myrmecoid ~ antlike

Wow. Back to another Monday. Where did the week go? Oh, that's right. I pretty much sleep it away. ;-)

The sinus cold I had last weekend stayed with me pretty much throughout the week. And then just as I started feeling better I got hit out of the blue with a stomach virus on Sunday. NOT COOL! I'm really hoping all that bad stuff is out of my system now and I'll be able to catch up on all the stuff I've fallen behind with.

But I learned something new last week. Know what's worse than grocery shopping when people are panic buying for a (non-existent) impending storm? Shopping in the afternoon when there's a dollar sale going on. Scary!

It warmed up here on the weekend and we've been having rain off and on for the last couple of days. Rain on top of ice makes for some incredibly slippery footing, but the ice is slowly giving up. Hopefully it'll be gone and the ground will be dried up a bit before the next freeze hits. Which is scheduled for about Wednesday. *sigh*

Blog Stuff
Tuesday: The signs of the Zodiac series is finished and I think for the time being I'm going to give myself a bit of a break and not post on Tuesdays for a while.
Wednesday: Here's where we come to another change. I've already changed by not posting hunks any more, but I'm going to shake things up a bit more, I think. I'm moving my reading post to Friday, and today will be Wildcard Wednesday. This could be a flash story, a snippet of something else I've written, a poem, maybe even a picture or two. It will be as much a surprise to me as it will to you. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter six of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: What I'm reading.

Other Stuff
Despite hovering around death's door last week, I did manage to get one of the three stories I have to edit (for someone else) done. She writes very cleanly, so it shouldn't be any problem to get the other two done ASAP. And that's first up on my list.

Next on my list is to finish a couple of presents that didn't get done, one of them not being the afghan I'm doing for my daughter. It's not that I wouldn't like to get it finished, and I did work on it over the weekend, it's just that I've run out of the medium brown wool again and I won't be able to get any more until next week.

After that it's full steam ahead on the edits/rewrites of Water. I'm really getting impatient to get it done and out to my readers. Then it's back to work on the sequel to Magical Misfire, which is entitled Lucky Dog.

It would really help if the sun would come out to play this week, but I'm not counting on it. Maybe I could stick a couple of 100 watt bulbs in the light in my office. That would really help with my productivity. :-)

Now, where can I get a hazmat suit to keep those pesky germs away from me?