#FridayThoughts: #HappyNewYear! And now, “In with the Old”

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Wow, posting my annual New Year’s Eve story, I looked at my intro from last year, and as surprised as I was by the Year We Shall Not Name, 2021 held some very sad surprises. Still, hope always springs on December 31.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the story, whether it’s your first read or now a habit for you as well, and I wish you a 2022 that makes up for all of the wear, tear and hard times behind us. Here’s to happiness, hope, prosperity and health in the new year!

And, in what is now firmly a tradition, here is a short story from my collection, Better Living Through Gravy and Other Oddities:

In with the Old

“It’s nothing personal,” she said as kindly as she could muster, “it’s just time.”

“But I’m not nearly as used up as they said I would be,” the other one said, “not nearly at all. I’m not wrinkly, or old – I’m kind of in prime time.” She gave herself an once-over, careful not to break her bond with the contraption behind her.

“Unfortunately, we really need the machine.” She sighed and tapped her pen on her clipboard. “We only have a few more hours.”

“We?” said the woman in the machine. “We only have a few more hours? You’re going to install that thing,” she gestured with her head toward the giggling baby making faces at the man in the white coat at the other end of the room, “and go on with your routine. You think don’t have it down by now? Daily dial turnings, just one click. Then you, with that pretend-serious look, yanking that lever. You think I didn’t notice you enjoy those lever pulls? Well I did. And you do.”

“Now come on, Wanda, there’s no need to be this way. You can go out with dignity.” She shot a look across the room to her coworker. He was too enthralled with the baby to get her message for a little help.

“What am I supposed to do now? I was huge, I was everything.”

“You’re sounding like a bad movie.”

“They don’t tell you what you’re supposed to do when it’s over.” She relaxed her grip on the copper handles inside her chamber, her visible gears going slightly slack down her arm toward her shoulder, the teeth just a bit looser. The worker took that as a good sign. She quickly tamped down her encouragement, in case Wanda saw.

“There are always retrospectives,” the woman said. “You know, ‘Best ofs.’ And there’s still plenty to do in the first few months, while people are getting adjusted. You know, rent checks, 18-month calendars, that kind of thing.”

“And then what?” said Wanda. “Then what happens? Where do I go? What do I do?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” the woman said, finally able to return to her script. “You see, we have this lovely facility, all of you go there, you know, when you’re finished. Here,” she slid a glossy folded paper from beneath the clip of her board and held it toward Wanda. “There’s even a brochure.”

The pictures were bright and multicolored, with others sitting and laughing, eating, strolling by the water, the patina of their clockwork innards glinting warmly in the setting sun. It didn’t look too bad. She nearly let go of the handle to take the brochure, to open it, to see what kind of crafts there were, as promised on the cover, when she remembered.

“No,” she said.

“Wanda,” said the woman, her tone sharpening, gaining hardness around the edges, “I’m afraid you haven’t got a choice. It’s time.”

She shook her head as much as the chamber allowed, which wasn’t much. “I’m not going.”

“But what are we supposed to do with him?” She pointed her pen at the baby, who turned, stared at them and burst into a full beam, his tiny gears engaging as he reached his arms toward Wanda. “It’s his turn now. Don’t you want to give him his turn?”

Wanda closed her eyes. It wasn’t fair, she thought. It went by so quickly, her lifetime of usefulness, her purpose, and now she was supposed to retire off with the rest of them, with some anonymous body of water and a dining hall and crafts. Though crafts are nice. But still, this was her machine, it was hers.

The worker had moved away, but she could hear her talking softly, her sentences interspersed with the cluck of her two-way handheld.

“No, no, I’m telling you it didn’t work.” Something unintelligible garbled through from the other side. “No. Clamped on, completely. Like a vice.” Again, soft electronic murmuring. “It’s like Oh-Three all over again.” More garble. “What? She can’t hear me. I’m away from the chamber.” Indistinct chatter. “Fine, fine, Trinity. Like Trinity all over again.” She waited for the response. “That would probably be best.” After a long interlude of murmur, the handheld fell silent.

“Umm, Wanda?” said the worker several minutes later, the ice in her voice retreating. “I’d like you to meet someone.”

“Not interested,” she said, her eyes still closed. She knew the truth, the worker had practically said so herself, with the conversation she thought Wanda couldn’t hear. She was only a number to those people. Oh-Three indeed. “What do you call me when you’re out of the lab?” she said, her eyes still completely shut. “When you’re talking to your buddy over there at lunch or wherever it is you go?”

“Wanda,” the woman said, her discomfort obvious even to Wanda and her closed eyes.

“What do you call me? One-One?”

“Wanda, really, there’s someone here you should meet-“

“Or Eleven? Do you call me Eleven? A number to you, that’s what I am after all this time.”

“I thought she couldn’t hear,” she said to someone, though Wanda wasn’t going to bother to open her eyes to see who it was. “I swear, I wouldn’t have used the technical–“

“Technical?” said another voice, a new voice, a male voice. “Technical? Really? Is that how you’re describing it?”

“Well-“

“Her name is Wanda, you know,” he said, his tone both relaxed and oddly engaging despite the rebuke. Wanda couldn’t help herself, she opened her eyes a crack.

“I’m Oden,” he said with a half-smile. “I’d shake your hand, but I understand your position. Obviously,” he said. His gears were slightly rainbowed with a healthy dose of age. Wanda thought they made him look distinguished.

“Oden,” she said. “So I?”

“Replaced me, yes.” He took a step toward the chamber, careful to keep a distance. “Flip of the switch and it was me in there. And you over there,” he said, and smiled at the baby, a real smile, not a put-on one.

“What did you do?”

“I went,” he said. “It was time. It’s how it works, you know.”

“I know,” she said, looking at her feet, so comfortable in the only spot they’d ever known. She glanced up and met his gaze. “I know,” she said again.

“The place really looks like the brochure,” he said, offering her his hand to help her to step out. She considered it, but didn’t lessen her grip on the handle.

“What about the crafts?”

He took the hand he’d been holding out and dug into his pocket, his gears gliding smoothly along. He pulled out a wallet. “I made this,” he said. “Stitched it myself.” She took in the uneven stitches and frowned. “I’m not a very good crafter,” he added quickly, “but they are fun to try.”

“Hmm,” said Wanda. She glanced at the worker who looked at the clock on the wall and back at Wanda, her face full of cautious hope. Oden set out his hand again.

“The sunsets are every bit as pretty,” he said, “and the best part is there are no more dials, no more levers. No more chamber.”

“But I like the chamber,” she said, scooting back to be further back within it.

“You like the chamber,” he said, “because all you know is the chamber. Take a leap.”

“No, no,” said the worker, “that’s him.” She pointed at the baby.

“You understand you’re not helping the situation?” Oden asked her.

“I do, yes, realize that now.”

“So what do you say, Wanda?”

She gave her chamber and the lab a final look over. She could probably make a better wallet. She could certainly make a better wallet. Maybe they’ll have pottery. Slowly, she released first her right hand and then her left, and placed it in Oden’s outstretched palm. The machine beeped behind her while the worker anxiously watched the clock, the man with the baby leaning, ready to place him.

She stepped out of the machine.

The woman grasped a crank on the side of the box and turned it furiously so that the chamber got smaller and smaller and the arms shorter and shorter. The man, watching the clock rather than her or the baby, placed the baby where she had been moments before but where she would never fit now. The baby giggled.

Without looking back, Wanda took Oden’s arm, and together, they headed toward the door. They reached it and disappeared into the flash of sudden white light.

The worker leaned against the machine, her hands shaking. “Happy New Year, everyone,” she said weakly.


Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.
Check out  my full-length novels: 
Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   
Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 
Her Cousin Much Removed
The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s quick and weird!
Peruse Montraps Publishing

#ThursdayThoughts ten word photo prompt: Ghostly

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Photo by Faruk Tokluou011flu on Pexels.com

It’s Thursday! That means it’s time for our #ThursdayTen.

Using the image above as a prompt, write a ten word story.

EXACTLY ten words.

Yes, it is nearly New Year’s Eve, and no, today’s isn’t really on theme but eh, what I can I say. I liked the photo.

Ready? Here’s mine:

When they found it decades later, it was still running.

#WednesdayWisdom: You never know what the day holds.

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It snowed yesterday, heavily enough to coat the roads and the parked cars, everything like the inside of a snow globe. Today, it’s all gone

No trace, just muddy brown grass and bare trees.

There seem to be plenty of clouds so you never know what the day holds.

Well, I sort of know what today holds, we’ll be checking out a facility for my mom. Here’s hoping for the best.

In a stretch of time when everything is weird, every day feels like a scary door. You open it because you have to open it, and you can’t know what you will see.

Sometimes you don’t want to know what you will see.

But sometimes, there are surprises. Like the vanishing snow or the changing sky.

And with that, I am off. Have a great Wednesday.


Check out  my full-length novels: 
Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   
Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 
Her Cousin Much Removed
The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s quick and weird and FREE!
Peruse Montraps Publishing
Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

#TuesdayThoughts: So much about the present moment

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Here is my Mom Update, given it’s Tuesday. It was a rough week leading into another rough week.

Fun times.

It’s gloomy today, and it could snow and rain, and that combo is always the worst. Oh well. I can’t start trying to control the weather too.

It’s weird not being able to visit my mom at all, knowing she’s there. I hope she gets why we can’t see her.

I hate so much about the present moment.

Anyway, that’s it for me today, all my writing went into the update. Have a great Tuesday.


Check out  my full-length novels: 
Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   
Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 
Her Cousin Much Removed
The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s quick and weird and FREE!
Peruse Montraps Publishing
Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

#MondayThoughts: If the fate of humanity rests on humanity…

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All that’s left ahead for the year is New Year’s Eve. Can you believe that?

And here we are, exactly back where we were, numbers up with an extremely contagious variant of the virus. Once again, a situation that was entirely avoidable.

If a bunch of people had done anything to avoid it.

But they couldn’t inconvenience themselves enough to bother to pull a mask over their noses, or wear one at all, or to keep their distance or to refrain from going out when they know they’re positive or suspect they’re sick so we’re here and people can’t visit people in the hospital anymore.

Again.

If the fate of humanity rests on humanity, clearly we won’t make it.

And on that cheery note, I’m off. I hope you have a great Monday.


Check out  my full-length novels: 
Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   
Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 
Her Cousin Much Removed
The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s quick and weird and FREE!
Peruse Montraps Publishing
Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

#FridayThoughts: Merry Christmas if you celebrate and Happy Friday if you don’t.

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For those of us who don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s a strange time of year. It surrounds and permeates everything. In the past it felt even more exclusionary, but these days the very fact that it’s everywhere for so much longer than it used to be kind of mellowed it out to some extent.

To some extent.

But that said, I still wish everyone celebrating the most wonderful of celebrations, the kind that Hallmark movies are made of, if that’s your thing.

Besides that whole Christmas Eve vibe, I was able to visit my mom yesterday. For me, her eyes were closed, but I told her about the sky, the kind she likes with glowing gray clouds, and when I came back after my dad’s turn, she was facing the window.

Eyes still closed.

Though she did open them for my dad, he told me. So maybe she looked outside while I was gone.

We’re back to one at at time. Hopefully she’ll return to rehab before they cut it down to one per day.

Anyway, that’s it for me. Have a great Friday (or Christmas Eve) and a wonderful weekend (or Christmas through Boxing Day).


Check out  my full-length novels: 
Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   
Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 
Her Cousin Much Removed
The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s quick and weird and FREE!
Peruse Montraps Publishing
Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

#ThursdayThoughts ten word photo prompt: Decisions

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Photo by A Koolshooter on Pexels.com

It’s Thursday! Which means it’s time for a #ThursdayTen!

Using the above image as a prompt, write a ten word story. EXACTLY ten words.

No problem!

Ready? Here’s mine:

Helda never knew how to use pumpkins out of season.

#WednesdayWisdom: Same speed as always.

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It’s another sunny day but cold, 25 F. Not as cold as it could get but cold enough to be clear it’s winter.

Which makes sense, since it is.

I’ve still got this cold, not that serious a cold, but enough to make me not visit my mom. Hopefully this is the last day of it. No worries, the COVID test was negative and I’ll retest before I visit.

I really wanted to go today, but sometimes, you just have to give it one more day.

Patience is difficult, especially in this world where anything you want to know you can know within seconds, where delivery windows get shorter and shorter, where everything is basically a click away.

It may feel like it’s moving faster, but the Earth is spinning at the same speed as always.

It’s OK to give things a little more time.

And that’s that for this Wednesday. Have a wonderful day.


Check out  my full-length novels: 
Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   
Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 
Her Cousin Much Removed
The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s quick and weird and FREE!
Peruse Montraps Publishing
Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

#TuesdayThoughts: Aren’t we all.

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First things first. Given it’s Tuesday, here’s the latest Mom Update. I’m a little under the weather, so I can’t promise brilliance today.

Honestly I’m not sure I can promise brilliance any day.

But still we try, don’t we? I guess?

Anyway, I’ve taken to getting silicone covers for my keyboard. They wear out, fading around the A and the E and the S and the I and the Enter and the Shift, rendering them illegible, and then they’re all difficult to read and then the smallest of holes in the middle, and then it’s like a touch-typing exercise.

Good luck to me.

Sometimes the covers are clear, but I’ve found as they wear they also render the keys anonymous somehow. Besides, I like to add color.

It’s fun and impermanent.

Given I am prone to beverages and snacks while typing, it’s really the best for all involved and by all involved I mean my computer. I hear they don’t like crumbs.

I recommend them if you can find them for your keyboard, they’re model-specific. Yes, they are ephemeral, but aren’t we all.

Have a great Tuesday.


Check out  my full-length novels: 
Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   
Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 
Her Cousin Much Removed
The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s quick and weird and FREE!
Peruse Montraps Publishing
Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

#MondayThoughts: Closing in

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It’s sunny today and chilly, though not too chilly. It’s still pretty mild.

So far.

We’re closing in on the end of the year and it’s difficult to believe. It’s also depressing knowing that COVID is going nowhere, as people continue to help it flourish for reasons I will never understand.

It hasn’t been my favorite year.

That’s for sure.

But there’s an Agatha Raisin Christmas special so that’s nice, if you’re looking for a silver lining. Well, it may not be your silver lining but I’m enjoying it.

Anyway, that’s it for me this Monday. I hope your day is great and the start to an amazingly wonderful week.


Check out  my full-length novels: 
Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   
Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 
Her Cousin Much Removed
The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.
And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s quick and weird and FREE!
Peruse Montraps Publishing
Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.