New Website Alert!

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My new website is now live! I’d be excited if you’d check it out. Along with it comes a new and improved blog, and links to my current and future projects.

http://www.ShaneKroetsch.com

I have more news coming soon. You can subscribe for updates on the new site, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Chocolate

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The aftermath of dinner service covered every available flat surface. Saute pans had been stacked up on one side of the range top. Smoke from the broiler billowed and twisted under the harsh fluorescent hood lights, the temperature maxed to burn off bits of meat and fat.

Sam piled up empty containers and food stained utensils to move them to the dish pit. On the way back he slipped on the red clay tile floor where a bowl of soup had been dropped and not cleaned up properly. Sam stretched an arm out, looking for purchase, but only managed to bump the faucet on the bain-marie as he crashed down to his knees.

He stood with a groan, pushed the faucet back, then swore to himself. Chef was warming chocolate for the dessert course. The bowl was now half full with water. Sam swore to himself again. It was ruined. He wiped his hands on his apron, then ran to the back storage room to find more.

 

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Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

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This started as a prompt from a writing group that I attend put on by the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society. We were asked to write down ten things about chocolate. I did, but also had a scene come to mind from my previous life as a chef, so I used it to write this piece. Another aspect to the prompt was a scene building map, this is something I’m going to go into more later, but I can see how it helped bring this to life and I’ve added it to my writers toolbox.

Now to some not so good news. I hate breaking promises, but unfortunately I will have to today. The plan was to have my new website ready to launch this week, but it’s just not there yet. For the sake of what I have going on in my life at the moment, like finishing William for the CBC Short Story Prize, developing the first of a series of three books we’re launching in the spring, and that I am likely starting a new job next week, I am pushing the launch back to November 1, 2019. This is a big deal for me, and I want to do it right. I’ll also be relaunching my social media presence, or maybe just having more of a focus on it, and I’ll have details on a new collection of short stories that you can get for free in December. So, long story short, the freight train isn’t really slowing down, the journey takes a little longer to complete sometimes than you think.

Speaking of social media, in case you didn’t know, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram. Maybe see you there?

 

William

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William rocked forward in his seat as the horse’s footfalls slowed and the streetcar came to a stop. He lowered himself down to the dirt road and waited. When the streetcar pulled away, he shuffled across Yonge Street and headed east along Upper Gerrard.

With the noise and confusion far behind him, William slowed his pace. He focused on the rows of narrow brick houses. Some had their curtains drawn, others let in what dreary daylight was available. One had the window glass on the main level pushed open, letting the smell of cooking vegetables waft down the street.

William left the sidewalk and limped up to one of the brown painted doors. He leaned a hand against the frame and looked to the window beside. An old woman sat in a plain chair with a pressed wood back. She worked two knitting needles in slow and precise movements. William faced forward and lifted a key from his pocket. He set it in the lock, turned it, and pushed the door open.

He stopped in the doorway of the parlour and removed his hat. His landlady set her knitting on her lap and looked up over the frames of her glasses.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Doyle.”

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Summerhayes.”

“I trust your journey was successful?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Your leg acting up again?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Mrs. Summerhayes pursed her lips and returned to her task. William turned, reached out for the banister, and eased himself down the stairs to his room.

 

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Image by Verone Solilo

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William was my response piece from this years Voice & Vision collaboration. 15 artists and 15 writers are paired together and tasked to create something unique based on each other’s work. You can learn more about my contribution and a lot of other amazing artists and writers here.

I was very fortunate to be paired with Verone Solilo this year, when I saw her piece, Victorian Row, I fell in love instantly. You can see more of Verone’s work here, I look forward to seeing Victorian Row hanging on my wall very soon.

I had more to share with William’s story, so I’m developing a larger piece to submit to this year’s CBC Short Story Prize. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Life has been busy this week, and on top of it I’ve got a bit of a cold slowing me down. That means all the exciting news I have for you gets pushed back another week. Only one more week though, I promise. Stay tuned!

 

A Very Short Story About a Fence Post

Another day and the sun rises, like it has countless times before. A spider crawls out from the crack that runs to my top. It strings a thread down to the highest line of rusty barbed wire reaching out in line with the ditch. Soon a perfect web glistens in the sun, awaiting something that looks like breakfast.

The cows are out early. I notice the fat one eyeing me up. It ambles over, its mouth grinding back and forth with a stray blade of grass sticking out one side and drool cascading down the other. I look for any sign of intelligence in its wide, dark, eyes, but once again find nothing. I think it’s going to pass me by, but I’m wrong. It turns and¾Oh no, not the ass end.

I’m nearly ripped from the ground as it pushes a massive thigh back and forth across me. On the field side I’ve lost most of the dried lichen that took years to build up, and I’m becoming smooth and irregular in shape. The others say it’s not a problem, but I hear them snicker when they think I’m not paying attention.

Stupid cow. I can’t wait until she’s taken off in the big long trailer like the rest of them. Then I can get some peace and quiet, for a few months at least.

***

At a recent writing session, we were asked to write for 10 minutes about an inanimate object. This isn’t something I normally enjoy, mostly because I don’t think I do it well, but then the image of the cow rubbing up against a screaming fence post came to mind and here we are.

In case you missed it, I have a big announcement coming soon. Very, very soon. Websites and newsletters and books, oh my! Stay tuned.

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Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

The Most Important Things

The most important things are the hardest things to say. That would be why I’m sitting here staring at my hands while you talk about your day. I nod and try to smile. I even ask a question or two to keep things moving, but it’s for no other reason.

I’m trying to work up the courage to tell you any one of the things that should have been mentioned long before. That I want you to take your sunglasses off so I can see your eyes, or that you have a drop of ketchup on the end of your nose.

What I really want to say is that I’m confused and scared. I feel the need to remind you that I love you and I don’t want you to move four hours away. That maybe we can find a way to make it all work out, here, together. We could, I know it, if only you felt the same way that I do.

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This story came from a quote by Stephen King that I was given as a writing prompt recently. You can see the full version here. To be honest, the quote is something that has been with me for a lot of years, I’ve had it written down in one form or another since I was a lot younger than I am now. It resonates, I suppose you could say.

I hope you’re not too depressed now, because I want you to be excited about something that I will have ready to show the world in a few weeks time. I’m building a brand new website. Writing My Way Out of Here has served me well, but it’s time for the next step. I have some new features planned, and some exclusive content if you’re willing to sign up for my monthly newsletter. I’ve also been working hard on writing, and have a few new books scheduled for the new year. By a few, I mean four, and I’m nervous and excited and maybe a little terrified. Here comes the freight train! That’s me by the way…

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Smile

“Smile,” Thea said.

My hands clenched tight enough that I could feel my pulse. The heat from the horse’s breath washed over my neck and made me shiver. When it shifted a foot behind me, I almost had a bowel movement.

“Come on, get in a little closer.”

I didn’t move. I couldn’t. “Just take the picture. Please?”

Thea grumbled and set her eye at the viewfinder. She turned knobs and pressed buttons. I bit my lip and looked to the pen across the way, at the small flock of sheep that had recently been sheered. They milled about and chewed at the air. I counted them to distract myself. Maybe if it had put me to sleep it wouldn’t have been the worst thing.

I heard the click of the shutter and ran to Thea’s side. She watched me for a moment and frowned. “You alright? You look a little green.”

“I’m fine,” I said. I stretched out my hands and looked at the indents my fingernails had made. “Maybe we can go in for lunch now? I think the sun is getting to me.”

 

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Hello friends. I wanted to take a quick minute to let you know that I have some big news coming soon. A new website with new features, a newsletter with content you won’t find anywhere else, and books. An ambitious amount of books. I hope you stay tuned.

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Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Beyond the Divide: Part 27

Liz leaned back and stretched her legs out in front of her. She looked up into the sunshine, it was warm on her face. Birds chirped and flew from tree to tree in the park behind her. A butterfly flew along the sidewalk in front of her. Liz tracked it as it bobbed up and down and out of sight.

For no specific reason, she felt content.

Evie sat down on the bench and folded her hands on her lap. “Hello, Liz.”

A narrow smile formed on Liz’s lips. “Hey, Evie.”

“You seem to be in a good mood.”

“I am.”

Evie looked away. “I am happy for you.”

Liz turned to Evie and her smile faded. “What’s going on?”

Evie shrugged and faced forward. “I have much on my mind.”

“Okay.”

“You made quick work of the hound, I hear.”

“I did. I’m surprised you didn’t stick around.”

“I would only have been a distraction. I was and am confident in your abilities.”

“Thank you?”

Evie looked at Liz from the corner of her eye. “Do not be that way. You are special. There are not many who can do what you do.”

“Oh? What is it that I do then?”

“Face the darkness and win.” Evie swept her hand in front of her. “Not go crazy in all of this.”

“I didn’t know that was a big deal.”

“It is a much bigger than you know.”

Liz nodded and looked to the tips of her toes. “Okay.”

“Would you do it again? If you could?”

Liz shrugged. “Sure.”

“It is an important role to play. To provide balance.”

Liz twisted in her seat and leaned an elbow on the arm of the bench. She looked to Evie and waited.

“You might expect a flowery speech, or for me to explain in minute detail the reasons for my decision. If so, I will have to apologize in advance.” Evie pulled at her skirt and smoothed it with her hand. “It is time for me to move on. It has been time for a long while now, but I felt I had to wait until there was someone who could take my place.”

Liz pulled her legs in and straightened her back. “Does that mean you want an answer right now?”

Evie stared, but did not speak.

“Right.” Liz faced forward and ran her hands down the tops of her thighs. “Okay. I’m in.”

“Are you sure?”

Liz nodded.

Evie lowered her gaze and gripped the edge of the bench. “Thank you.”

“So that’s it then?” Liz said.

“It is,” Evie said.

“I hope it works out for you, whatever comes next.”

“It will, I have no doubt. It will be an interesting journey, finding myself again.”

“Good.” Liz looked up the road in front of them. “Listen, I’m not the best at goodbyes, and I should be going anyway. I need to see Mark.”

“Absolutely.”

Liz and Evie stood together. Evie moved in close and wrapped her arms around Liz’s waist.

Liz smiled and set her arms over Evie’s shoulders. “Bye, Evie.”

Evie stepped back. She attempted a smile. “Goodbye, Liz.”

 

***

 

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

 

 

99 Words #33 – The Safebreaker’s Daughter

Her daddy worked with the Overton crew. Best safecracker on the west coast is what they said. It was like a magic trick. He did it all by feel. Never left a mark.

She worked the same way, except it wasn’t money she was after. When she’d touch you, it would last just long enough. She’d look at you, and you’d forget about anything else. Before you realised what happened, it’d be too late.

Her daddy always told her that if you’re gonna do something, do it right. What she knew how to do, was break a man’s heart.

 

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This piece is in response to the August 29 Flash Fiction Challenge from The Carrot Ranch.

August 29, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the safebreaker’s daughter. Who is she, what did she do, and where? Go where the prompt leads you!

August 29: Flash Fiction Challenge

Photo by Gabriel Wasylko on Unsplash

 

 

 

Beyond the Divide: Part 26

“Drop your weapon and put your hands in the air!”

Sonja lowered her gun. She looked from Mark to Christopher. The flashing lights and shouting disoriented her. Thoughts of what her future looked like ran through her mind and tears formed in her eyes. Sonja let out a sharp breath and then raised her gun toward the flashing lights. Three sharp pops sounded over the melee, and Sonja fell to the ground.

 

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Image by Kaleigh Kanary

 

 

Beyond the Divide: Part 25

Liz tumbled and came to a stop on her back. The darkness twisted free and the form of the dog landed on all fours a short distance away. It sighted on Liz and pounced.

Liz rolled away as the dog came down. She spun and came up on her knees. The dog slid on the bare ground, turned on its claws, and then steadied itself. It’s jaw dropped and it let out a guttural roar. Liz stood with her arms straight by her side and screamed back. The dog pushed forward and drifted apart. The swirling darkness surrounded Liz. She held a hand up to her eyes as the smoke and ash swirled around her. A sick pressure weighed in her head and on her skin. The mess in front of her eyes cleared and the world went dull.

The shadow wrapped itself around Liz’s thoughts and slowed her movements. It pushed her toward defeat. One knee buckled, but she caught herself and held firm.

Liz closed her eyes and focused in on the dog. She saw the outline of it within herself, how it was fighting to gain control. She pushed back against it. The outline tightened. The dog struggled, but had nowhere to go.

Cracks of light broke from Liz’s closed eyes and hard clenched fists. She pulled her right hand back like she was about to throw a baseball. Instead of out, she brought her arm around and down. The light at her hand erupted and shot into the ground. A shockwave of light filled energy pushed away from her and dissipated well out of sight. The air settled and what was left of the dog twisted and spun in on itself on the ground in front of Liz. The shadow form flickered, attempting to hold itself in this world. 

“You’re done here,” Liz said. “Go.”

The air crackled and twisted, then a shock of light swallowed the shadow and the dog disappeared.

Christopher shouted something at the woman he arrived with. Liz blinked and moved herself directly in front of him. She studied his face. It made her angry. The smugness and apathy.

Liz plunged the pointed fingers of her right hand in between Christopher’s eyes. She curled her fingers and twisted her wrist. Christopher’s face tensed, his teeth clenched, and then his body went limp.

 

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Image by Kaleigh Kanary