Finished! – #WOW555

The prompt for this week’s #WOW555 challenge is that we have to use the phrase “I’m outta here.” As I thought about that, and the end of the school year – today’s the last day with students for me – I couldn’t think of anything more fitting than a teacher finishing the year. Then I thought, what if she finished her career. (And yes, I used a female teacher instead of me as a male teacher.) What would it be like getting ready to retire. I’ve thought about it and decided to write about that dream.

Mary Alice Everett had given her life to teaching. She looked at the clock and noted that she just had 15 minutes left. Today she was retiring. After thirty three years of caring for elementary students, studying in the summer, dealing with principals, and working with parents, today she could go home, kick her shoes off and plan for the trips she had always dreamed of. She smiled to herself as she thought about her upcoming cruise. When she looked at her second graders who were getting excited about summer break she had to grin more widely. Their mouths showed remnants of the frosting from the cupcakes they had been eating at the going away party. They didn’t realize what “retirement” meant, but they were enjoying the party.

As time got closer for the final bell to ring, a few parents came by to pick students up early. But they stayed. These parents had once been her students, and they had come by not only to pick up their students, but also to say good bye to a teacher they had loved. Ms. Everett, as they still called her, got up to greet them and there were a few tears as they hugged.

The bell rang and the kids, knowing something special was happening, lined up to hug Ms. Everett with sticky hands. She laughed a bit, knowing that it was the last time. More parents came by to say good bye and linger in her presence. Lydia Perez came by to bid her farewell on her way to check in at the office. Lydia had done her student teaching under Mary Alice. The strong recommendation Mary Alice had given Lydia allowed her to get the job that was open on the second grade team that year. The two of them had taught together for the last five years.

Soon, the classroom was empty as students and parents made their way home to begin their summer break. Mary Alice took one last look at the room as she turned out the lights and locked the door. She’d have to come back tomorrow to clean up, but she couldn’t help smiling as she said, “I’m outta here.”

Lydia was heading back from the school office when she saw Mary Alice. Lydia gasped and then ran to her as she lay on the floor outside her door. Lydia knelt down and felt for a pulse, but found none. She screamed for help as she pulled out her phone to dial 9-1-1. EMS got there quickly, but not quickly enough. They said it was a heart attack. Lydia knew differently though. She knew that Mary Alice Everett had given her life to teaching.

Yep…I did go that way. That is, in a sense, a fear that I have that when I do retire, I won’t have that time I want to write, to photograph, or most importantly, to be with my wife. Someone noted that I tend to kill my characters a lot. I guess that’s just the way I roll.

High Class Move #WOW555

One thing most of my friends know me for is my involvement in the chess world. I really haven’t written many stories involving chess, when this week’s #WOW555 prompt was announced, I thought that this would be a good chance to write a chess story. Your prompt for this week is to dive within. And so, we see the story of a man who could really dive within a position, and another who could dive more deeply. The final little twist is an homage to my author and chess playing friend, Mark Marshall, who told us the story of his draw with a young man many years ago who just made his third GM norm and beat another GM in his early chess career. So, make sure you read all the stories that are about to come out at Wendy’s place, and then, start voting on Saturday!

I remember that day. I moved my head slowly to look at him. His steely blue eyes pierced my soul. He must have seen the despair in my eyes. It was over. I had blundered. A win and I had clear first place. A draw and I tied for first place with him. But I had found a way to blunder.

I shook my head, imperceptibly, I thought. There was no way out. I checked and double checked the board looking for a combination or a strategy that would help me. Nothing. My whole game had pointed to this position. I thought the combinations had been sound, but I just realized that the fifth move in the process left my queen hanging. I rubbed my hand over my lips. They were dry from the nervousness. I ran my fingers through my hair and blinked away tears. I had fought for so long to get this far and now I had messed it up with that sacrifice three moves ago.

Recognizing the inevitable, I took a deep breath and began to utter those words that I never enjoyed saying. I stuck my hand out and said, “I….”

Quickly my opponent broke into my pity party with a voice too loud for the occasion and stuck out his hand. “Would you like a draw?”

I stopped. I looked at him with amazement. I moved my hand over to shake his and blurted out “Yes!”

I took my hand back and breathed a sigh of relief. Then I asked him in a hoarse whisper, “Why? I was just about to resign?”

“I know,” he replied. His voice didn’t carry across the playing hall now. “I could see it in your eyes. I would have loved first prize all by myself, but your game deserved better than to lose by a misguided resignation.”

I looked at him and my eyes narrowed. Silently, I went through the moves I originally planned. Then, I showed him that he could take the queen stopping my checkmate plans. I shrugged and whispered, “It didn’t work.”

He shook his head and smiled. “You didn’t dive deeply enough into the position,” he whispered. Then he played the moves he had seen. After taking my queen, my bishop took his rook. When he took back he then played a knight check for me and showed me the forced checkmate that followed. “The only way for me to avoid the checkmate is to take your knight with my queen. When you take back with the bishop, you end up being ahead by a full piece and two pawns.”

I shook his hand and thanked him. I watched as he left after we put the board and pieces away. I remembered that day as I read that he would be challenging for the world championship. Not only could he “dive deeply” into the position, in his words, he was the high class kind of person the chess world needed.

A Break in the Clouds – #WOW555

I’m running late this week with the story, but I finally got it done. We had to include the phrase “It’s a new life” So, head on over to Wendy’s place and check out the stories. The voting will happen soon!

 

I stood up and glanced out the window. The rain kept falling at a steady pace. Great place, this. I can’t even go for a walk. I glanced over at the computer and sighed. Nothing there would interest me: not anymore, not for a while anyways. They wouldn’t let me write. No one to email even.

Then I slumped back into my chair. “It’s a new life,” they had told me. Sure. Those wise guys never had to live like this. The pain from the loss of my wife was bad enough, but then I had to re-live everything in court. They told me they’d take care of me if I testified. Sure, the mob hitman who hit my wife instead of the woman he was supposed to take out deserved to be punished. But now I sit around all day without my love of my life and he’s in prison with friends.

It was fun at first; people wondering where I had gone. My fans clamored for that third book but I disappeared. The contract on me was worth more than the contract I would get on the third book. It didn’t take too long, though, for people to lose interest. Other celebrities got married, or buried. Other celebrities had scandals and soon I was forgotten. Maybe in enough time I’d be the subject of one of those documentaries wondering where I went.

Writing was my life; now, they didn’t want to take a chance that my style would be recognized and they wouldn’t let me write. That last book was ready to be published – but only after I died. They didn’t want to take a chance on the mob finding out that I was still alive. Sure I had enough to live on because the government funneled my royalties to me – but no one to live with. She was gone.

A ray of sunlight broke through the window. I turned to look and the rain was breaking up. I decided to go for a walk. I threw on a jacket and headed into the cool day. Two weeks here and this was the first day I could get out. I walked around the neighborhood checking out hiding places and escape routes. It pays to be prepared. The air, even though it was cooler than home, felt good and I almost began to smile. I headed back to the house with a spring in my step. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad here.

“Rick! Rick Jacobs!” I heard the call and froze. That was my old name. My heart thundered as I began thinking about my escape. The stop was imperceptible to others, but I felt as if I had been motionless for hours. “Rick! It’s Elaine from High School! Everyone thinks you’ve dropped off the face of the earth.” I remembered Elaine from high school. I had to fight the urge to run after Elaine and take her home with me. I just kept walking. As soon as I got inside the house, I called my handler. Maybe there was hope.  Maybe there was new life.

Cascarones – #WOW555

This week I’m doing something different. I’m basing my story on a story someone else told me. (Thanks Norma Olivarez.) The ending is not what I was told and it fits the requirement for this week, in my humble opinion, so I count it as an original story.  Your challenge this week is to end your story with an unexpected twist. Because I’m telling someone else’s story, and I’m making it first person, the voice won’t sound like it’s me. I hope you enjoy it. Check out Wendy’s Place for all the stories

“Easter was always family fun time,” I said. “My favorite holiday. Christmas was socks and underwear, Easter was just fun.”

Funerals were never a happy occasion, but still, we got together with family that we never saw any other time. The nieces and nephews were hearing the family stories. It was part of the rite of passage.

“Tia Norma, what was your favorite story about Tia Margie?”

I chuckled a bit. “Well, I was seven years old and we were at Aunt Margie’s house one Easter hunting eggs.” In our family, cascarones were usually filled with paper. No muss, no fuss when you broke them over someone’s head. “Tio Juan looked at me and pointed at an egg. It was different from all the others. It was really pretty. Just as I saw it, I saw,” I looked around carefully hoping she wasn’t there, “your Tia Alyssa running after it too. I was a bit closer and ran faster. I got there first and before Alyssa could turn and run away, I smacked it on her head.”

I laughed a bit as I thought about the situation. “That’s when I found out that it wasn’t a cascarone. Someone told me later it was a wild turkey egg….and it was rotten! Tia Alyssa was so mad she was sputtering. I was shocked and then I was afraid. Tia Margie was going to kill me. The smell was awful! The egg had run down her hair, onto her clothes and all I could think was that I wanted to find a skunk and make the smell better.”

“What did you do then, Tia?” my nephew asked.

“I ran! I’m not stupid. I ran and hid under the porch. Tia Margie showed up soon, calling my name so sweetly. ‘Norma! Where are you Norma? I’ve got a present for you.’ I knew better. I stayed under the porch. She was so close I could see the toe in her orthopedic shoes tapping and the top of her rolled up knee highs beginning to sag.” We all laughed at the thought. That was pure Tia Margie.

“She never caught me and I was able to stay away from her for the rest of the weekend.”

I hadn’t heard her come up from behind, but my prima Alyssa came up behind me. “You telling the egg story I would guess?”

I turned around, feeling very guilty. I nodded my head.

“I got whipped so bad for that. Mom was so mad that you beat me to that egg. She meant for me to get you with it.”

“Really?” I asked. No one could imagine Tia Margie with that kind of sense of humor.

“Yep, and as her time drew near, she reminded me about that story.” Alyssa pulled her hand from behind her back. She had a wild turkey egg that I saw briefly just before she smashed it on my head. “Mom always wanted me to pay you back,” she said through the stink with a big grin.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

And Now The Voting Really Begins! #WOW555

I just checked the votes at Wendy’s Place. 5 votes – each story has one vote. So, head on over and read all 5 stories, then vote for your favorite. It would be great to get a whole bunch of votes this week! The theme relates to Spring. There are an interesting variety of ways spring is used in these stories… so enjoy!