Selections from the Vault

In over fifteen years of writing, I have accumulated large quantities of scenes, scenarios and snippets that probably won’t ever amount to anything. This page features just a few. For now, since there aren’t many of them, they are all on the one page, but below I provide links to the beginning of each for convenience. The last three were added on 6 July, 2018.

Please note that none of these have been edited and they will probably not be expanded or continued.

On this page:

Plot Bunny

Notes: This first one was inspired by a prompt from one of the very early CWEs. This plot bunny was adopted by someone, but they did not post a story during the time of the challenge. I began writing it, but did not get very far. The idea is not mine and is still available to anyone to write. (See the CWE page at Jix for more details.)

The submitted plot bunny was as follows: An increasingly social conscious Mrs. Lynch is pressuring 22-year-old Diana to continue to date and eventually marry Ben Riker so her family can establish a social tie to the Harts. Although she likes Ben as a friend, Diana is torn between her love for unconnected, poor Mart Belden, and her desire to please her mother. The ensuing pressures cause friction between the Bob-whites as the friends unconsciously take sides in reaction to Di's mixed signals and her usual dramatic coping strategies.

Diana stepped in front of the full-length mirror and surveyed her reflection with an outer calmness that she did not feel. The dress was classy, well-fitting and suitable for the occasion. The strict regime of diet and exercise she had been following for the last several years meant that her figure was enviable. Her hair was perfect – though she felt that her current style, chosen at her mother’s urging, was too short. Her make-up was flawless and understated. Her jewellery accented the dress without being overpowering. Her shoes were enough to make other women jealous.

The twenty-two year old gave a single nod and picked up the tiny handbag she intended to take with her. Head held high, she left her room and walked downstairs to the formal living room, where her parents would be waiting.

“Darling, you look wonderful,” her mother gushed, as she entered the room. “Ben won’t be able to keep his eyes off you. It will be no time at all before he proposes, if you keep this up.”

Di felt a blush creeping up her cheeks. “I wouldn’t say that,” she murmured.

“You do look beautiful,” her father assured her, kissing her cheek.

“Don’t do that, Walter,” his wife chastised. “You’ll mess up her make-up.”

“I can kiss my own little girl if I like,” Di’s father grumbled in return.

Her mother shook her head in disgust. “I am trying to improve our position. Some cooperation would be appreciated.”

Di’s father smiled at Di and gave her arm a squeeze. He offered no answer to the charge. A moment later, any chance of further comment was removed as Harrison announced Mr. Benjamin Riker.

“Ben, you look as handsome as ever,” Vanora Lynch gushed. “You’ll be the most dazzling couple in the room, I’m sure.”

“I wouldn’t go so far, Mrs. Lynch,” he replied, eyes twinkling. “From what I hear, it’s going to be a big party, but we’ll probably make the top ten.”

His hostess gave a pretty laugh and Diana cringed inwardly, while trying to keep her expression from betraying her feelings. Before anyone could embarrass her further, she turned to her boyfriend of almost two years.

“We need to be going, don’t we? It’s one thing to be fashionably late, but quite another to be even later than that.” She gave him an appealing look.

“You’re right,” he answered, taking her arm. “Good night, Mr. and Mrs. Lynch.”

After another round of compliments and well-wishes, the couple went outside to the waiting limousine. Ben handed Diana into her seat, as the driver held the door. He sat next to her, holding her hand.

“We’re not going to be so much as fashionably late,” he pointed out, his eyes on their linked hands. “If we go straight there, we’ll be so early that they won’t have opened the doors.”

Diana nodded, looking away. She felt guilty for being ashamed of her mother. When she allowed herself to think about it, she felt even more guilty about leading Ben on for almost two years. As a friend, he was wonderful. As a boyfriend, he was perfect – but not perfect for her. She was sure he was perfect for someone, but nothing she did made her feel worthy of him.

Blissfully ignorant of her jumbled thoughts, Ben pressed the button to communicate with the driver and suggested he take the scenic route, there being over an hour to reach their New York City destination. He settled back in his seat and made a comment on a movie he would like to see. With a smile, Di abandoned her thoughts and entered into the discussion.

As they talked, she almost convinced herself that everything would be okay. She really could stay with Ben and one day be a good wife to him. She could forget that there ever was another option. She could be happy spending her life with this handsome, amusing, talented man.

A few minutes before they were due to arrive at the party, her cell phone chirped as a text message arrived. Without thinking, she reached for it and read the message, which was from Honey.

‘Have a good time at the party. Call me in the morning when you’re up. BWG business to discuss.’

Diana was jolted from the happy illusion she had been building. She stared at the message with a feeling of dread building within her. The BWG business, whatever it might be, would probably be innocuous enough. Now that they were all grown up, there was seldom much to do with the group. The association of ideas, on the other hand, would mean nothing but trouble for Diana. When she spoke to or thought of her fellow club-members, she could not help but think that she was making some terrible mistakes with her life.

“Hey, is everything okay?” Ben asked in a gentle voice and with a soft touch on her arm.

In that moment, Diana remembered that she had once had an ambition to be an actress. If ever the skills she had learned on the stage were required, it was now. She switched the phone to silent, smiled at him and nodded.

“It’s fine. I’ll deal with it tomorrow and it won’t worry me any more after that,” she promised.

He nodded. The car pulled up at their destination and a uniformed attendant opened the door with a flourish. Her chin raised and she set about playing her part. On the inside, however, Diana Lynch felt the first twinges of fear.

Unidentified Object

Notes: I think this little snippet came from a CWE picture prompt. It was not long enough to qualify for the challenge and did not seem to lead anywhere. As context, Trixie, Mart and Honey are cleaning out the attic at Crabapple Farm when this occurs.

What,” Honey demanded, “is this, this thing?”

Mart looked up and drew his brows together. He took the strange object from her hands and examined it intensely. His expression cleared.

“This, my dear Madeleine, is an intensely important family artefact, dating to the earliest days of the Beldens’ inhabitation of this humble abode. It belonged to my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas M. Belden, who was a man of considerable ingenuity and resourcefulness. You will see a trace of his initials on the anterior side, if you care to look.” He pointed a finger in the general direction. “The precise purpose of this item has been lost to the mists of time, but we are assured that its invention by my esteemed ancestor was a great relief to the local population, who were suffering an undisclosed affliction, which was greatly mitigated by this device.”

“Oh,” Honey answered and put it down again, looking at it with a blank expression.

“Thomas M. Belden,” Trixie mused, grabbing the item and looking at the initials. “What did the ‘M.’ stand for?”

“That, also, is knowledge that has alas been lost in the many years since he lived,” Mart replied, shaking his head with regret.

Trixie raised an eyebrow and tossed the item into the rubbish heap. “You totally made that up.”

“I resent the accusation in the strongest terms!”

His sister shook her head. “You did! Those are my initial, almost twin, and that was one of my grade school art projects, though, even I can’t figure out what it's supposed to be.”

Mart held onto his dignity for several moments, then cracked a smile. “Okay, so maybe I did.”

The Closet

Notes: This one was, I think, an exercise to try to break writer’s block. Whether it worked or not, I can’t remember, but I thought it was interesting enough to join this collection.

Trixie banged her fist against the wall in frustration. The panel broke in half and she lost her balance trying not to plunge through it. In the wild attempt to keep herself upright, she bumped against the other side of the closet, stepped back onto a screwdriver on the floor and spun around. Finally, she fell bottom-first into the closet and thumped hard against the side wall with her shoulder.

“Oh, great,” she moaned, as she rubbed the various sore spots. “Just look at this! I’ve broken two things in as many seconds. The wall of this closet is busted, too.”

“Are you okay?” Jim asked, stepping closer. “You didn’t hurt yourself, did you?”

Trixie shook her head and made to get up. As she did so, something caught her eye and she froze.

“Give me the flashlight,” she directed, in a reverent hush. “I think I’ve just found something.”

Jim strode to the opposite side of the room and picked it up. As soon as it was laid in her hand, she switched it on and shone the light into the hole made by her shoulder. Both of them drew in a shocked breath. In the cavity next to the closet, what appeared to be a human skull was grinning at them.

“When I suggested you might find skeletons in the closet, I never meant you to find literal ones,” Jim quipped, his voice just a little shaky.

“It might not be real,” Trixie answered, while putting as great as possible a distance between herself and it. “I really hope it’s not real.”

Jim fervently agreed. “Still, I guess we’d better call someone. Do you suppose the police will believe us?”

Trixie began to giggle. “Probably not. Just imagine if Sergeant Molinson heard about it!”

“Well, maybe I’ll call for you and we’ll just have to hope for the best.”

He made the call while Trixie impatiently paced. When he had finished, she demanded, “Well?”

“They’ll come and take a look, but they’re not too worried.” He gestured to the closet. “The man I spoke to pointed out to me that skeletons don’t stay upright by themselves – which we should have remembered, if we’d been thinking more clearly.”

Trixie frowned. “Yeah, I guess you’re right; they don’t. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a real skull. There might be something on the other side of that holding it up and we just can’t see it.”

“Well, whatever it is, they want us to leave it alone, so I guess we’d better find something to do elsewhere.”

She gave the closet a longing look, but nodded agreement and followed him out of the room.

When the police finally arrived, Trixie was bouncing with anticipation. She was torn between horror and curiosity at what might be within the wall. When she found that she would not be allowed to watch as the scene was examined, her disappointment was immense.

“You didn’t really expect to be allowed to watch, did you?” Jim asked her, in a low voice.

She turned an unhappy face towards him. “A girl can hope, can’t she?”

From the next room, they heard the sound of laughter, and the pair turned sharply in that direction. A moment later, the door opened and a police officer exited, wearing a most serious expression.

“We’re going to have to wait for the expert opinion,” he told them, “but it very much looks like this is a medical teaching aid.”

“What was so funny?” Trixie wanted to know. “We heard you all laughing.”

A flicker of amusement showed. “Ahem. The specimen is in an unorthodox position.”

Trixie’s brow creased. “Can we see it?”

The officer shook his head. “As I said, we will have to wait for the expert opinion before we can rule out any crimes.”

“So, it’s an old one? A real skeleton?” Jim wondered. “Not a plastic replica?”

“You mean, I was really looking at someone’s skull from two inches away?” Trixie demanded, fascinated.

“That remains to be seen,” the officer interjected. “We will be removing the remains and sending them for examination. We will also need to check the rest of the property for anomalies.”

Diverting Entertainment

Notes: This is the longest piece in the collection. It was written over ten years ago, but for some reason I have never felt the urge to post it. It is a complete story.

[quote is from Gatehouse, p 157 of the oval paperback]

Oh, let’s do have a club,” Honey interrupted. “When I was in boarding school, I was always reading books about boys and girls who were members of secret clubs and had such fun.” She added wistfully, “I never thought the day would come when I might belong to one.”

About fifteen years later…

Jim stood back and admired his handiwork with a quiet sense of pride. It had been a lot of hard work, but it was now being rewarded and the new, larger premises were evidence of it. The shiny new sign which he had just put up stood out nicely, clearly showing the location of the business to all who passed by. He stepped inside the Belden-Frayne Detective Agency with a spring in his step, nodded to the young man at the front desk and went right into one of the offices.

“Sign’s up,” he said to Brian, who was sitting quietly at his desk, working steadily. “Anything else need doing, or can I get onto that new case?”

“Let’s see,” his friend replied, pushing his glasses up on his nose. A quick search of the desk revealed a neat list. “No, I think that’s it. Unless you know of anything else?”

“Not a thing,” said Jim with a smile. “Everything looks great to me.”

Meanwhile, Mart’s plane was just about to land at Heathrow Airport. He had been to London many times before, but it never failed to attract him. This time, he would be there for two days before flying back across the Atlantic.

The familiar sensation of coming in for a landing allowed him to clear his thoughts for a moment. Did he regret the choices he had made? No, he decided. There was nothing like this job. It had helped him to see the world and had broadened his horizons immeasurably.

It would be nice to spend some time at home, though, he thought wistfully. Maybe I should put in for some vacation time.

The regular routine of disembarking began and, putting all thoughts of home aside, Mart began to help the passengers off the plane.

A week or two later, on the other side of the ocean, the bustle of the new school year was in full swing at Ten Acres School. In an office overlooking the grounds, Principal Trixie Belden was in consultation with the school’s visiting doctor.

“I tell you, Honey, I’m so glad that we expanded on the original plans. Opening the school to girls as well as boys has its problems, but it’s been worth it.”

“You’re so right,” Dr. Wheeler agreed. “Girls can have it rough, too, and it’s only right that we help everyone that we can. Just look at the way that they’re responding to the outdoor programs. It’s not just something for boys.”

“We’re having great success with the school farm project, too. Di’s been telling me great stories of how the students are doing, growing things and looking after the animals.”

“You know,” Honey confided, “I would never have thought Di had it in her to run a farm.”

“Neither would I,” Trixie agreed, “but the proof is right here.”

In the fields behind the school, Diana Lynch was busy with a group of students. There was always plenty to do on the farm and she took great pride in helping her pupils be a part of everything. It gave them a new perspective, she thought.

“Is this right, Ms. Lynch?” asked one of the boys, as he clumsily tried to tie up a tomato plant.

“Yes, that’s fine, Toby,” she replied. “Not too tight, remember?”

She smiled at the boy to encourage him, but noticed that he was looking behind her. Turning, she saw someone that she had not seen in years; someone she thought that she would never see again. His dark hair was unkempt, his cheeks bristled with several days’ growth and his clothes were well worn, but not well washed. He looked rough and unfriendly, the kind of man that you did not want to meet on a dark and lonely street.

“Dan?” she asked. “Is that you? What are you doing here?”

“It’s time to settle a few things,” he said, looking sullen. “Time to set things straight.”

“As you can see, I’ve got a class,” she said, waving a nervous hand towards the small group of students. “Can it wait until later?”

“Half an hour,” he said. “Trixie’s office.”

She nodded, watching as he walked back into the preserve.

Di tapped on Trixie’s office door about half an hour later. Almost before she had finished, it opened to reveal a small crowd. Inside the office, contrary to all expectation, were the rest of their old club. Brian, Jim and Mart stood awkwardly against the walls; Trixie sat at her desk, looking defiant; Honey was sitting in one of the chairs, legs crossed. Dan was just inside the room, his hand still on the door handle.

“Come in, Di,” he said, closing the door after her.

She took a seat next to Honey, exchanging glances with the other two women. Honey shrugged, almost imperceptibly. Ever since Dan had left to go back to his old life in the city they had, by common consent, not mentioned his name again. No one had known where he had been all these years, or what he had been doing.

“We’ve had our differences,” he said, shooting a dark glance at Trixie, “but I think we’d all agree that there’s no one like an old friend to tell you when you’ve got things wrong.”

“I don’t see how you would know if we have,” said Trixie, glaring back at him with twice the heat. “You haven’t been around in more than ten years. That’s far longer than you ever knew us.”

“I know that your basic character hasn’t changed,” he countered. “I know that this isn’t your dream that you’re living.”

“It’s become my dream,” she replied. “I’m living a dream, even if it isn’t the one that I dreamed for myself.”

“It’s not the same,” said Dan. “None of you are living your dreams.”

“What about you?” asked Trixie, standing and glaring at him. “Where is your dream?”

“I don’t get dreams,” he said. “I forfeited that right long ago.”

“So, who are you to tell us whose dreams we should live by?” asked Trixie, triumphantly.

For a long time, Dan stood still, apparently lost in thought. No one spoke; no one moved. After a few minutes, even Trixie began to feel uncomfortable. The feeling of triumph faded away, only to be replaced by an uncomfortable feeling of guilt. Her failure to do anything to help Dan all those years ago filled her mind, rising above the justification that she had always used: He didn’t want to be helped.

“Do you remember how it used to be?” he asked, softly. “You were always in some sort of conflict about your plans. Every time that Trixie went off after a mystery, one of you tried to hold her back. Whenever someone else’s career plans got in the way of your own ambitions, you tried to convince them that your way was better. I told you to accept each other’s dreams. I meant that you should stop trying to change each other, that you should be supportive. I never meant for this to happen. You twisted my words and made this travesty.”

“Travesty?” asked Brian, suddenly offended. “I’ll have you know that Jim and I are very good detectives. We have a thriving business and there’s no way that you can say that we’re not successful.”

“I didn’t mean that you’re not successful,” Dan snapped. “I meant that you gave up more than you gained; you made sacrifices, but didn’t claim the benefits that should have come with them. Look at yourselves! Are you happy with your lives?”

“Yes,” said Honey, without the slightest hesitation. “I think I’m a much better doctor than I would’ve been a detective.”

“But didn’t you give up the detective goal because you wanted a relationship that would’ve been difficult to maintain?” he challenged. “Are you in that relationship? Have you been in that relationship?”

Another uncomfortable silence descended. Several people looked at their feet, or closed their eyes. No one wanted to look at Dan, or put voice to the thoughts that were running through their heads. No one wanted to admit that they had been wrong.

“Look, I’m sorry,” said Dan, heading for the door. “I should’ve left earlier. As soon as I knew, I should’ve gone. I just thought that I could help you. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out.” The door was open and he was through it before any of them moved or spoke.

“Wait!” called Honey, springing up to run after him. “What do you mean?”

“You don’t know?” he asked, incredulous. “You really don’t know what I did, why I had to leave?”

“No,” she said in a soft, gentle voice. “Please, come inside and explain it to us.”

“All right,” he reluctantly agreed, “but I’m staying near the door. You remember the time we spent the night in the clubhouse?”

“We had a meeting and it snowed so hard that we couldn’t open the door?” asked Honey, nodding. “Was I ever in trouble the next day!”

“You remember what we did while we waited for someone to come and get us out?”

“We played games, mostly,” she said, smiling in reminiscence. “I really enjoyed those sorts of things.”

“Anything else?” he prompted.

“You pretended to hypnotise us all,” she said, with a giggle. “Actually, it wasn’t long after that night that I decided that I’d rather be a doctor than a detective.”

“You don’t remember what I suggested to you, when you were hypnotised?”

“I wasn’t hypnotised,” she contradicted. “None of us were. It was just a joke. You said some stuff, we all relaxed, but nothing happened and it ended without you suggesting anything.”

Dan slowly shook his head.

“Then, we were asleep,” she suggested. “Really, Dan, you couldn’t have hypnotised us. It’s just not possible. It takes training and skill to suggest things to people and they still have the power to resist them if that’s what they want to do.”

“I don’t know how it happened,” said Dan, “but I really did hypnotise you all. Look at yourselves! You’re living each other’s dreams, but it’s like a nightmare and I’m responsible for it.”

“If that’s true,” said Brian, with a skeptical look, “you should be able to do it again and reverse the effect.”

“I think we should try it,” agreed Mart. “Is everyone else in?”

There was a chorus of agreement. Dan looked deeply worried, but agreed to conduct the experiment. He invited them all to make themselves comfortable, having locked the door.

“I want you all to relax,” he began, leaning against Trixie’s desk. “Just relax.”

The next thing that Diana remembered was Dan’s request that they all sit up. There was a strange feeling in the back of her mind. Something was different. She looked in disgust at her fingernails. How short and grubby they looked. This did not seem right at all. Around her, the others were making similar adjustments.

“I think you were right, Dan,” said Trixie, standing up. “I haven’t been living the life I was meant to live. I think I’m going to be making some changes.” She walked over to Jim, who was gazing in confusion at the contents of his wallet. “You and I have some talking to do. How about you come back to my place?”

“Sounds good,” he replied, still distracted.

Before anyone else could say a word, Trixie had guided Jim out of the office and away. Dan looked around and saw that none of the others had even noticed. They were still too caught up in their own revelations. Honey and Brian were quietly talking in one corner; Mart and Diana were passionately kissing in another.

Dan breathed a silent sigh of relief. Perhaps now his friends would go back to their own personalities. He knew that he should have dealt with this years ago, but perhaps it was not too late.

Out of the silence, Honey’s voice rang, saying, “I’m glad we had this talk, Brian. You’re so right: I have no business being a doctor. I should have been a flight attendant.”


Notes: This is a fairly new snippet, written in 2018 after I decided to revisit some old challenges. It was inspired by one of the pictures from CWE#3 (picture 4, which is on page 1).

“Quick! Hide me!” Honey demanded, as she burst into the clubhouse.

“What? Why?” Trixie asked, as her best friend looked under the table and behind the curtains, searching in vain for a safe haven.

“From who?” Di added.

“Brian! Oh, quick! He’s coming!”

She darted into the storage area and out of sight, accompanied by the sound of falling objects.

“That was strange,” Trixie commented, then turned back to the task at hand, which was sorting through the leftover advertising from their last fundraiser.

“Very,” Di replied. She held up a pile of old flyers. “I don’t think these are any use. They’re all squashed.”

Trixie nodded, just as the door opened. “Turf them. These, too, I think. They’ve been used on both sides, now.”

Brian entered the clubhouse and glanced around. “Honey didn’t just come in here, did she?”

His sister made a show of looking under the conference table. “I don’t see her anywhere.”

He frowned. “Funny.”

Diana ignored the byplay. “What do you want her for?”

“Oh, nothing. I’ll try down by the lake.”

He closed the door behind himself, but Trixie and Diana kept on working.

“Has he gone?” a whisper asked from the storage area.

“Probably,” Trixie answered. “There. I think that’s done. I’ll put these ones away and the rest can go.”

She took the ones to be kept into the storage area and filed them away with others their kind, then stooped to pick up a few things which Honey, in her haste, had knocked over.

“So, what gives?” Di asked Honey, who peeked tentatively around the doorway.

Honey let out an explosive sigh. “He wants to ask me out!”

Both Trixie and Di stared at her in surprise.

“And this is a problem, how?” Di asked.

“Yeah. I thought you wanted him to ask you out,” Trixie added.

“I do. I did. I don’t. I don’t know.” Honey came out of the storeroom and sank down onto a bench. “I just feel … suffocated. Like everything is normal, except me, but I have to act like I am normal, when really I feel as un-normal as I possibly could.”

Di frowned. “I’m not sure if un-normal is really a word, but I think I see what you mean.”

“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Trixie wanted to know. “You can’t hide from him forever.”

Honey’s brow creased. “I could. But I don’t want to. That would be horrible.”

“So, how do we get around this?” Di wondered. “And what is the actual problem? Is it that you don’t want to go out with him, or that you don’t want him to ask you?”

Honey straightened, her eyes widening. “Oh! I never thought of it like that. You know, I do want to go out with him, so maybe it’s the asking that’s making me feel so, so, drowned that I can’t even think straight, but maybe, if he doesn’t ask me, I’ll feel worse, because then we won’t go out, maybe ever, which would be terrible, so maybe I just need to take a deep breath and …”

“Let it happen?” Di suggested, when the sentence didn’t end.

Honey nodded.

The door opened and the three friends jumped in surprise.

Brian’s face creased in consternation. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Honey smiled and got up. “It’s okay. See you two later. Brian and I are going for a walk.”

She crossed to a rather confused-looking Brian and guided him back outside, closing the door after them.

“Ten dollars says she asks him before he can ask her,” Trixie commented, grinning.

Di shook her head. “I’m not wasting my money on a bet like that!”

Several hours later, the three girls met again at Manor House. They hurried up to Honey’s bedroom and closed the door.

“Well?” Trixie demanded.

Her best friend looked coy. “He …”

“Did you ask him yourself?” Trixie interrupted.

Di rolled her eyes heavenwards. “Trixie! Be quiet for a minute! Let her talk.”

A smile broke out on Honey’s face. “We went for a walk.”

“Yes, we knew that,” Trixie snapped. “What else?”

“We talked about … you know, things.”

As Trixie opened her mouth to ask again, Di cast her a quelling look.

“We’re going to the movies on Friday,” Honey admitted. “As a date. An actual date.”

“But did he ask you, or did you ask him?” Trixie wanted to know.

Di rolled her eyes. “Forget that! Did you kiss?”

“Yes!” Honey squeaked, completely ignoring her best friend’s question.

“And?” Di asked, while Trixie rolled her eyes in turn.

Honey smiled and grasped Di’s outstretched hand. “It was nice. Really nice.”

Di pulled her into a hug and they giggled together for a minute or two. Then, Honey turned to Trixie.

“And to answer your question, I let him ask me. And it was wonderful.”

A Solitary Figure

Notes: This is a fairly new snippet, written in 2018 after I decided to revisit some old challenges. It was inspired by one of the pictures from CWE#3 (picture 11, which is on page 2).

A few fallen leaves skittered past, caught by a chilly breeze, as the old man shuffled along the side of the road. He paused at the street corner, gazing up at the sign with a frown, while fingering his warm, hand-knitted cardigan with the hand that did not hold his cane. His wife had made it for him years earlier, in the days before arthritis took away her enjoyment of knitting. His frown deepened.

With a sigh, he chose a direction and continued on. Half a block later, he paused again. There, on the other side of the street, like a red-brick box, stood one of the ugliest buildings in Sleepyside – or, so he had always thought. And yet, once, so many years before, they had formed happy memories there. In his youth, in those days before they married, when they had no more cares than any others their age, they had gone to dances here. Older people had scowled disapproval and chastised his parents for allowing him to go.

He had loved those days. The loud music and the dancing. Holding his girl close in the dim lighting. The forbidden thrill of making out in the back seat of his car afterwards. Those looks she had given him, half inviting and half shy, which drove him wild. And then hurrying her home so she wouldn’t miss her curfew. So long ago.

The old man’s shoulders sagged for a moment, then he looked up and set his sights on the next corner. If he could make it that far and then cross the street, there was a bench he could rest on. He plodded on.

A young couple with a baby passed him and next he began remembering those days when they started their family – a family which expanded rather faster than expected and which took up all of their time for a couple of decades. He watched the dark-haired young man pick up the baby and try to soothe its cries. The blonde mother laughed at his clumsy efforts and took the child in her own arms. They disappeared around the corner, leaving him alone once more. All alone.

After a moment, he noticed that he had stopped without thinking about it and he set off again. He could see the bench, now, and it called to him. He did not often walk this far these days and the effort was wearing on him. He saw a break in the traffic and tried to hurry across, but his old legs weren’t up to the task. A kindly driver slowed to allow him to make it all the way across. He waved his thanks and, a little red in the face, slumped onto the bench.

Once he had caught his breath, he began to look around himself. A mixed group of young teenagers talked and laughed together across the way, some of them sipping drinks or eating … something – doughnuts? He couldn’t tell from here. The sound of their laughter brought back another kind of memory. When their kids were teens, the house had often been filled to bursting with young people. He remembered the way his wife used to look after them – feed them when they were hungry, listen when they needed an adult, step away when they needed their own space. She had been so good at that. He touched the sleeve of the cardigan, smoothing it down, and looked away from the teenagers.

A building had been demolished a little distance away, to make way for something new. Through the gap was visible part of a steeple. His daughter had gotten married in that church. One minute, she had been a tiny baby and the next, it seemed, he was giving her away. His wife had laughed at him on the day they heard the news of the engagement. She had told him he was being silly, that she had seen this coming for years and years. He hadn’t seen anything of the sort. But she had seen it all. He sighed.

And now, that daughter’s children had grown up and had children of their own. His great-grandchildren looked to him with disquiet, sometimes. He knew he was terribly old and terribly wrinkly and not especially good with little ones. But they were precious to him, even if he was not precious to them.

He shook his head. That was taking things just a little too far. It was true that he was feeling his years and feeling very alone, but he knew that his family loved him and wanted what was best for him. He just didn’t like being old and helpless. On the other hand, he did not have the energy to walk back home again and a little help would be appreciated right now.

A car drew up in front of him and the window rolled down.

“Granddad! We’ve been looking everywhere!”

He looked up and saw his very youngest grandchild.

“I just took a walk,” he answered, mildly.

“Do you need help getting in?” the boy asked.

But he was not really a boy. He was twenty-five? Twenty-six? Something like that.

“I do not!” He heaved himself to his feet and tried to stride over. “I’m fine.”

He opened the car door and got in, carefully looking away from the indulgent look on young Andy’s face. He fastened his seatbelt and tried not to show how nervous he felt, not being in control of the vehicle. The young man chatted about inconsequential things through the short journey. When they arrived, he contrived to be there to help, but without being obvious about it.

They walked to the door together, but then Andy murmured something about letting everyone know he was safe and left him to go inside alone.

“Peter!” Helen exclaimed. “Where have you been all this time?”

He looked at his wife of over sixty years and saw the worry he had caused. A surge of guilt ran through him. He had never intended to bother her; he hadn’t thought she would even notice. She had been fast asleep in her chair when he left.

“Do you remember those dances we used to go to? Before we were married?”

Her face softened and he knew that she understood.

“We have so many wonderful memories,” she answered, smiling. “But I think there’s still time to make a few more.”


Notes: While quite recently written, this snippet is a missing scene from a very old story, The Curse of Hundred House. It is not important to be familiar with the story. I only wanted an established relationship between Dan and Di and it fit the bill. It was inspired by one of the pictures from CWE#3 (picture 31, which is on page 4).

This snippet is rated YELLOW STAR for mild adult situations.

The guest room door closed as Dan dropped their overnight bag on the floor. Diana breathed a sigh of relief and crouched down to open it.

“I am so glad our kids aren’t little!”

Dan nodded distractedly, snaked an arm around Di’s waist and pulled her back up and against him, kissing her neck.

“Come here, wife.”

She giggled. “Yes, but in a minute. I have something I need to do first.”

He gripped her tighter. “Do I want to know?”

She shrugged, turned in his arms and kissed his lips, taking the chance while he was distracted to free herself. “I just need to see Honey about something; it’ll only take a minute, then I’m all yours.”

“I like the sound of that last part,” he answered.

She smiled that special smile as she slipped out of the room again and ran off down the passageway, her bare feet hardly making a sound. Dan peeled off his shirt and jeans, turned back the covers and settled on the bed, finding it comfortable enough. He thought back to the tiny hint of new lingerie Di had favoured him with, just before they left home that afternoon. All through the long trip to Maine, the drive out to the house, settling their kids – and Honey and Mart’s – in their beds, being polite to the Beldens’ elderly relative they were visiting, teasing Trixie and chatting with the other Bob-Whites, Dan had been looking forward to this time.

The door opened again and Di entered, giggling like a schoolgirl. She plonked some items on the side table with a clatter, turned towards him and seemed to forget all about them. Her giggles departed, as if they had never existed, and all at once she looked demure, almost girlish and innocent, a wave of hair partly obscuring one eye.

“Show me,” he whispered.

To his gratification, his wife of over a dozen years obliged.

The best part of an hour later, as Dan began drifting off to sleep, Diana wriggled out of his arms.

“Grrmph-mph,” he grumbled, frowning.

“I’ll be back soon,” she answered, in a whisper. “I just have something I need to do.”

Dan let her go. He awoke some time later when she snuggled up against him.

“What are you up to?” he wanted to know, just a little grumpily because he was tired and it was late and he’d been asleep.

Softly, she giggled. “Let’s just say that someone has a surprise waiting in the morning. And, if we’re lucky, a certain case of unresolved sexual tension might finally get resolved and give the rest of us some peace.”

Dan groaned, feeling immensely sorry for Jim Frayne, who would bear the brunt of the repercussions, should the stunt go wrong – whatever it might be – as it very well might.

“You should leave them alone. They’re old enough to sort things out for themselves.”

This time, Diana groaned. “They’re old enough to have resolved it about fifteen years ago!”

He opened his eyes and tried to make out her outline in the darkness. He could just see the difference between her dark hair and pale skin, but no details. He ran a hand down her side.

“Not everyone rushes into relationships.”

Diana snorted, and not only because of the implied comment on their relationship – a relationship which had developed so quickly that it took a lot of people by surprise. Their friends and family had accepted them many years ago now, but every so often they still faced judgement from outsiders.

“She’s thirty-two and she’s known him since she was thirteen. This goes way beyond not rushing.”

He smiled, though she could not see it. “We might have done with a little less rushing.”

“But see how it’s worked out for us,” she answered, gently teasing him. “If we’d taken our time …”

“We wouldn’t be a matter of months away from having a teenager,” he finished for her, with a grimace he could hear in his own voice.

“We’d still have smaller kids – like Mart and Honey do – and have to sleep right next to them, where they might interrupt us at any time,” she corrected, her fingers tickling his side.

Wide awake once more, Dan rolled over on top of her. “Good point.”

“So, you don’t mind that Honey and I–” She gasped as his lips found a sensitive spot on her neck.

“I don’t care,” he answered. “Just keep me out of it when the fireworks start.”

These fireworks?” She touched his chest with the very tips of her fingers.

He took hold of her hand and began kissing those fingertips. “I’ll take these fireworks over the other kind any day.”

“These are the only fireworks there’s going to be,” she answered him. “Now, kiss me here.”

He did not need telling twice.

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