Other Writings

                                                     The Shoe Fit the Wrong Sister

                                     1st Place - Lynn Hobbs - Flash Fiction Contest

     Greasy wisps of stringy hair caressed the hollow cheeks of Cinderella’s gangly stepsister. At six foot four, she stood erect and giggled.
     The sisters gathered outside the hamlet to try on the glass slipper.
     Dressed in a dusty rose gown, stepsister number two weighed in at over four hundred pounds. A new permanent had burnt her hair, leaving a tight, fuzzy brown covering upon her head. She grinned and displayed three missing teeth, two on top and one on the bottom.
     Shoved aside earlier, long-legged and attractive, Cinderella remained hidden behind the skirts of her ugly stepsisters.
     All eyes were on the Prince. He approached in a carriage pulled by a pair of horses. Coughing, he placed the back of a hand against his mouth. “Do three sisters live here, or is it four?”
    His question hung in the air, and no one answered. 
    A quick leap and he disembarked. He scanned the growing crowd of women and carried a glass slipper upon a burgundy pillow. Heavy blends of perfume assaulted his nostrils, and he sneezed.
    The woman dressed in dusty rose sauntered towards the Prince, and spicy aroma followed. She held her petticoats with one hand and tried to slip her foot into the slipper.
    After several futile attempts, she grimaced and backed away. He spotted Cinderella, wearing brown homespun attire, and she glanced up at him in the same instant. Eye contact held briefly until the tall stepsister pushed Cinderella away from the Prince. "Let me try.” She cackled. Her foot went into the slipper and it fit perfectly. Wide-eyed, the Prince turned pale as the tall sister and the entire crowd gasped out loud together.
     “No, oh no, I haven’t had my turn.” Cinderella whimpered and scurried to the Prince.
     “Too late.” The tall sister yelled, and people milling around took up the chant, and the noise grew in volume. “Too late, too late."   
     Horses reared up on their back legs at the loud commotion. They threw their mouths open in an even louder whinny. 
     Cinderella grasped the slipper, noticed the glare of her stepsister, and tried it on. 
     No, the glass slipper didn’t fit Cinderella’s foot.
     A low hush fell over the crowd as she returned the slipper back to the Prince. The moment was quickly interrupted by another woman. “I’m a stepsister, let me try too.” A woman pranced about, flinging her green skirts to and fro.
     A chorus of “So am I. I’m also a stepsister,” could be heard from women scattered throughout the crowd.
     “Enough. All of you back off.” The Prince ordered. He looked up at the stepsister who towered above him and narrowed his eyes at her. “Your foot fits the slipper. You will be my Princess; however, I do not remember dancing with anyone as tall as you.” 
     Cinderella stepped forward. “It was I who was your dancing partner. My feet are swollen today and I cannot wear the slipper.” She hung her head in obvious sorrow.
     “I have to stand by my word. I had said whose foot fits the slipper will be my Princess. So be it.”
     He motioned for the taller girl and she hurried to stand by his side. “I will display you to all as an example of keeping my word.”
     He quickly turned to Cinderella, grabbed her rough hands, and examined her calluses. “Your hard work has paid off, Cinderella. I will give all of my horses to you as a new business venture.”
    He pivoted to the crowd. “Hear ye, hear ye. Be it known, as of this hour; Cinderella is the owner of the magnificent, Budweiser Clydesdales.”
    Cinderella clapped her hands together and jumped up and down, squealing with laughter. 
     A loud cheer sailed forth and he reached to hold the hand of his potential Princess. He helped her into the carriage, and they drove off amid happy shouts and applause.
                                                                            The End

Enjoy the first two chapters of Eyes of a Neighbor, book one of three in my new Christian fiction American Neighborhood Series...

Meet the neighbors, both old and new, set in a gated community in the older, historic section of Houston, Texas. Targeted recently by the criminal element, turmoil increases. Based on the author's own knowledge of having once lived in the Heights area, the residents created include all age groups who become tangled in a murder mystery. Romance, suspense, intrigue, and inspiration intertwine to offer a fast paced read that is indeed a page turner. Who can new resident Kate Davis trust? Has she chosen the wrong friends? Can the neighbors trust her? Large print paperback, regular print Kindle for all three books in the series. Book two, Heart of a Neighbor, is now available, and book three, Mind of a Neighbor, will be available in late 2018. No profanity, or graphic violence in any of my books.

                                              Eyes of a Neighbor, by Lynn Hobbs

Chapter One
Houston, We Have a Problem

     The summer storm showed signs of becoming endless. As if one long soggy day wasn’t enough, it continued into the night.
     Frantic wind chimes clanged as a violent mixture of rain, wind, and hail increased.
     Kate’s stomach churned.
     The wind is the worse…can’t take the wind…not since Hurricane Katrina…too many memories.
     She peered out the window. At first, it was difficult to see by the dim streetlight. Black, eerie shadows slithered about until a lightning strike lit the sky. An oak tree cracked with an ear splitting explosion. Kate jumped, muttering in anger at being startled; she steadied herself on legs not used to being weak or wobbling. Heavy branches fell, each shaking the ground on impact. She ignored the fluttery sensation in her chest and scanned the area for pending disaster.
     Calm down.
     Then she spotted him.
     A man stood on her neighbor’s porch across the street. Visible under the glow of the yellow bug light; the man knocked repeatedly at the front door.  
     All she could see was his back.
     She studied him.
     Tall, wearing brown pants, and a tan shirt; he was sopping wet.
     No one answered the door.
     He kept knocking.
     Her immediate instinct to search for a vehicle either parked in their driveway, or near the curb proved futile.
     No car or truck.
     Adrenaline raced through her veins as she considered the man again.
     Kate tried not to be frightened. Moving here to Houston, Texas was an answer to prayer. Thankful for all she had inherited from Aunt Mertie Bell, Kate had left her small, rented apartment in South Louisiana weeks ago.
     Shadowood, an upscale, gated community seemed to be targeted by the criminal element. Kate had fallen in love with the well-kept, eighteen century, historic homes Shadowood was known for. An era also preserved with sprawling oak trees and massive azalea bushes in an array of vivid colors. No wonder her aunt treasured her time here in Houston. Yet, dangerous scenarios of what-could-be flashed through Kate’s mind until she recalled her safety training.
     As a woman in her mid-thirties, she appeared short and vulnerable, but the concealed handgun course she passed blanketed her with independence to live alone. She retrieved her weapon, a 9 Millimeter Glock handgun, and scrutinized her surroundings.
     Standing rigid, she gazed through the window at debris scattered across once manicured lawns. A gust of wind scooped white, wicker chairs off the ground tossing them at random. Mesmerized, she watched the chairs tumble mid-air down the road until the wind subsided. Pivoting to check on the man, her strong resolve weakened the moment she spotted him.
     I can’t believe he’s still knocking on their door…
     A bolt of lightning struck the ground as a loud pop sounded from a transformer. Darkness engulfed the neighborhood.
     Kate took a step sideways.
     She inched away from the glass window. Gripping the handgun in her right hand, she laid her left hand on the wall, and felt her way toward the kitchen. Maneuvering around, she finally grasped the flashlight attached by magnets to the refrigerator. She jabbed at the switch. Light and relief flooded the room until Kate heard something strange.
     A scratching sound echoed in the house.
     She shivered.
     Has the house taken on a sudden chill, or is that simply me?
     Hurrying to her bedroom, she seized a long, bathrobe, and slipped it over the clothes she wore. The warmth engulfed her body, and soothed her nerves. Her cell phone lay near her purse, and she thought about her new neighbors across the street; Becky and Ethan Meyers.
     A glimpse at her phone showed it was only nine o’clock.
     She entered Becky’s cell number and waited patiently as the phone rang.
     “Becky, it’s me, Kate. Are you okay?”
     “We are, considering this tornado watch. Thought we’d left tornadoes in Kansas. Didn’t know they are here in Houston, too.”
     “Tornado watch? Right now? That’s news to me, but Texas has them at times.”
     “We’re in the storm cellar.”
     “So that’s why you didn’t answer the door.”
     “What door?”
     Static crackled over the phone, and Kate’s heart seemed to freeze then pound as the call dropped.
     “No.” Sucking in a deep breath, she hit redial.
     No connection.
     Her insides quivered.
     Sweat popped out on her upper lip. She jabbed her finger at the redial button.
     It rang.
     “If you’d like to make a call, please try again.” The telephone company’s automated voice informed her.
     I guess reception isn’t that great if you’re underground…
     Kate’s phone rang.
     She answered and heard the faint sound of Becky’s voice.
     Kate shouted, “I saw some man knocking on your front door.”
     The next wave of audio came a bit stronger.
     “What did he look like?”
     “Tall, brown pants, tan shirt. It was during the worst of the storm.”
     The phone crackled with static again, and Becky shouted over the noise. “Kate, I don’t think it was an intruder. Sounds like the UPS delivery man.”
     “Why didn’t I think of that? You are so right,” she yelled and chuckled, “that is exactly who it was.”
     They ended the call, and Kate giggled at how frightened she was earlier.
     Silly me…
     Kate sat on the side of the bed and reflected on their conversation. Something was not right. Her stomach knotted as she thought about the UPS man.
     Wait a minute…UPS doesn’t deliver late at night, especially during a tornado watch in horrible storms…and there wasn’t a brown truck parked in their driveway…there wasn’t anything parked anywhere…
     She bit the inside of her lip and pondered longer.
     The scratching sound returned.
     Motionless, she listened for a few minutes until the disturbing noise ceased. A sudden flash of light flooded the house, and Kate emitted a shaky laugh.
     Electricity’s back…
     She experienced an easing of tension and had an overwhelming urge to pray.
     Dear Lord, I know faith and fear don’t go together, and the terror in New Orleans of Hurricane Katrina is over, yet the memories remain. Help me pass through tonight’s storm, and get used to my new surroundings in Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen.
     She remained still and concentrated on what she could hear. Thunder rolled less distinctly. The storm had fizzled except for light, falling rain; nothing else.
     I have to stop listening for sounds. I’m getting out of this house before I get cabin fever.
     Changing her clothes, Kate holstered her weapon, and placed it in her purse. Clutching the purse straps and keys, she sailed through the house.
     She yanked at the handle on the deadbolt, flung the door out, and her mouth fell open.
     Kate stared wide-eyed into the eyes of the tall man wearing brown pants, and a tan shirt.
     He approached her front door.
     She froze.
     Speechless, she could hear her heart pounding inside her ears.
     She couldn’t make herself move.
     Sopping wet, he kept coming towards her.
     “Ma’am, my dog ran off. He gets frightened by thunder. If you happen…”
     A dog’s bark interrupted him. They both glanced at the thick shrubbery next to her house.
     There it was.
     Hairy paws stretched through gnarled branches thick with evergreen leaves, and scratched at the metal frame of the basement window.
     “I see him, he’s stuck. It’s okay, Buddy.” The man bent down and untangled the small Yorkshire terrier. It yapped as he held it close in his arms.
     “I’m Steve Anderson, I live two streets over.” He extended his hand. She stiffened her posture and briefly shook his hand.
     “Nice to meet you, I’m Kate Davis. Glad you found your dog.”
     “Me too. Hope we haven’t bothered you.”
     “No, Mr. Anderson.” She narrowed her eyes at him.
     Why didn’t he knock at my door during the storm? My lights were on when he pounded on the neighbor’s front door.
     He nodded, walking to the sidewalk as the little dog wiggled and happily wagged his tail.
    Kate ambled toward her car and climbed in. She removed her weapon from her purse, placing it in the side pocket of the driver’s door.
     Will I ever feel comfortable in this new neighborhood?
     Before putting the vehicle in reverse, she surveyed the area.
     She sucked in her breath.
     Mr. Anderson had vanished.

Chapter Two
You’re Not in Kansas Anymore

     Ethan glanced at his cellphone. Ten pm. The storm had passed an hour ago. Becky must have taken a high powered sleeping pill. Lying on the cellar couch, she wasn’t resting peacefully. A moan escaped her lips, and Ethan cringed.
     The nightmare has returned.
     He ran his hand through his mop of salt and pepper hair and hovered nearby. She lay resembling more of a daughter to him than his wife, and at 55 years old; his growing paunch of a belly didn’t help their twenty year age difference. A sudden scream pierced his ears, and Becky flung her arms into the cushions. Instantly, he lunged to her side.
     “Becky, wake up.” Ethan’s hand caressed her shoulder and gave it a delicate shake. She stirred slightly, and muttered something indistinguishable. He made a second attempt with a firm grasp, and a more forceful motion. Still asleep, she whimpered, moving haphazardly on the couch flopping over on her back.
     “Becky, you are having another bad dream. Baby, there’s no need to hurt…” He gingerly rubbed her neck muscles in a circular pattern.
     “You are knotted up with tension. I feel the small knots.” Ethan paused, “BECKY,” he yelled
with blatant authority shaking her with both hands.
     She shot up from the couch taking short, deep breaths.
     “It’s just me, love.”
     Becky’s arms circled his body. She clutched at him roughly and held on, shaking.
     “It was him, again, Ethan. I dreamed we were back in Kansas, and he was stalking me.”
     “No one has ever stalked you. The police in Topeka couldn’t prove your allegations.”
     “It’s Steve; the guy’s name was Steve Anderson.”
     “I know. Come on, get up. We can’t remain in this cellar forever.” He reached for her arm and helped her stand. Becky followed him to the exit.
     “Kate said someone was knocking on our door during the storm.”
     Ethan stopped walking in mid-stride, turned and met his wife’s icy stare. He noticed the quick rise and fall of her chest.
     “Kate said he was tall. It had to be him.”
     “Becky, I will not have this conversation with you again.”
     Becky closed her eyes. Her face tightened. “I’m sorry, Ethan. I don’t like any of this, and I don’t like what it’s doing to us.”
     Ethan embraced his wife. “We’re making a fresh start; moving forward.”
     “What if Steve followed us here?”
     “Texas is a big state. He is free to live wherever he wants.”
     Ethan kissed his wife on her forehead and gently massaged her temples.
     “Much better.”
     “Good. Let’s get out of this cellar. Grab your purse, and I’ll get the lights.”
     They climbed the stairs; each lost in their own thoughts, and entered their home. Ethan marched straight to the front living room window and viewed the debris from the storm.
     “Is it bad?”
     “We can tackle it in the morning. A lot of work, girl.”
     Ethan laughed. “Ma’am?”
     A sly smile appeared on Becky’s face as she joined him at the window. She did a double take at the fallen tree limbs scattered about the neighborhood.
     “Oh, Ethan. What a mess.”
     “Tomorrow, we’ll knock it out.”
     “Yes, tomorrow.” Becky’s voice sounded strained. “I couldn’t endure an encounter with Steve.”
     “I know.”

Click on title to purchase:
Eyes of a Neighbor

“No Longer Forgotten” by Lynn Hobbs

Drawn to a dilapidated barn, spotted miles away,
Became my quest that windy, autumn day.
Winding dirt roads, pot holes galore;
 I alone traveled to its remote door.
Pausing to admire the object of bygone days,
I stopped my car, drifting back to simpler ways.
A wagon wheel, all worn and frail; greeted me against the weathered wall,
And I thought I heard a man’s voice, thought someone let out a call.
Closing my eyes, I heard it, a faraway whisper of “wagons hoe!”…
And I pictured a wagon train traveling with animals in tow.
Courage and bravery may not have entered the pioneer’s minds;
They simply trotted on eagerly searching for fertile land they knew they’d find.
History no longer forgotten, my imagination continued to soar,
I could no longer remain leaning against old wooden boards.
Hinges creaked as I unbolted the barn door and stepped inside…
Some kind of animal ran to rotting hay...an attempt to hide.
Scanning through cobwebs laced from ceiling to floor,
I recognized an old model-T Ford destined to run no more.
How many stories could it possibly tell?
Oh, if it could only talk, I’d sure sit a spell.
I’d listen as a past era came alive…
Of model T years, over a hundred and five.
Thrilled, I thanked God for this nostalgic day to take,
And I left it all unharmed, for old times’ sake. 

Survival by Lynn Hobbs

        Faded black and white sketches of Caddo Indians remain today in Harrison and Marion
 County museums―a testament of a forgotten people and culture in Northeast Texas. They
survived life doled out from nature’s elements, embracing the food source offered by the now
Caddo Lake and surrounding piney woods. In a spiritually and physically polluted world…and
polluted Caddo Lake…could we recreate the skills Caddo Indians once taught their tribe?
Plagued and choking with acres of Giant Salvinia; is Caddo Lake able to survive manmade
infestations? Are we?
        In 1542, Hernando De Soto had several hundred people in his expedition that was in today's northeast corner of Texas; after his death Luis de Moscoso Alvarado became their new leader. They met the first of several groups of Caddo and other Indians, and called the first Caddo group, Naguatex. The expedition left, heading south while recording many written accounts of the encounter. Between 2004 and 2012, excavations at an archeological site called Pine Tree Mound (41HS15) recovered evidence proving it was the political and social heart of the Caddo province of Nadaco, starting in the 1300’s and continuing into the 1700’s. This site covers an area of about 36 acres in today’s south central Harrison County, and how exciting; its  history connects the Caddo Indians to a living group of Native Americans, the Anadarko Caddo, who survived and make up part of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma today.      
        Caddo Lake, located on the border of northeast Texas and northwest Louisiana, is a maze of bayous and sloughs, and is the only natural lake in Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department completed their annual invasive vegetation survey in August, 2015; listing 2,840 acres of Giant Salvinia on the Texas side of Caddo Lake, compared to the 2014 survey of 2,405 invested acres. Giant Salvenia is a floating plant that mats on top of the water, damaging the natural ecosystem by shading out all sunlight which blocks growth under the salvinia mats, and prevents photosynthesis from occurring. This process creates low oxygen in the water making a lot of areas un-useful to fish and other organisms. Herbicide spraying and Giant Salvenia Weevils that eat the plant are helpful, but unfortunately, due to Caddo Lake’s massive size of 33,000 acres, some salvenia may always be present; but Caddo Lake is surviving.    
        Talk to an Eagle Boy Scout or anyone knowledgeable about survival skills. Yes, it is
possible to learn skills and being prepared is a great motto not only for scouts but for anyone.  In today’s world of hand outs and declining morals, no, I don’t think most could survive as an
Indian did years ago…rob and steal yes, but that’s another story. Thankfully, one can purchase
survival food today that will last twenty- five years. In regards to hunting for food, ammunition
is in short supply across the country, and could hamper your attempt of survival.
        I purchased water-front property on Big Cypress Bayou in 1980 that feeds into Caddo Lake, and unlike today’s brown water; the water was fresh, clear, and blue in those years. One could float along the river in an inner tube and not only feel, but see the tiny fish nibbling at your legs. Modern day attempts of saving Caddo Lake are paying off with many group efforts such as the Greater Caddo Lake Association, the Morley Hudson Weevil Greenhouse, and the Caddo Lake Institute. Survival isn’t scary when one realizes God is in control. He equips us to survive a polluted, non-Christian world.

God's Beauty #5 by Lynn Hobbs, created with my account on Animoto with free music from You-Tube, with pictures of my flowers blooming this year. Enjoy my movie and message... 

God's Beauty  #4 by Lynn Hobbs, created with movie maker
Enjoy my movie and message with pictures of my flowers blooming this year...

Scroll down to read four short stories...
(This story has an eye opening ending...)
Kicking Tires by Lynn Hobbs

     Heat shimmered from the pavement while the scorching sun blazed. The glare on the cars blinded me as we stepped from the grocery store. Scanning the sweltering parking lot for my car, I gave a half-hearted shrug. Squinting, I cupped my hand against my forehead and continued searching.
     “There it is, Ne-Ne. I see the P. T. Cruiser.” Lake, my eight-year-old grandson pointed at the vehicle. It was parked on the next row and looked magnificent. Hand-washed with Turtle Wax Car Wash, the dead bugs came off, and the white paint shined beautifully. The sun-roof was a bonus. Both of my grandchildren enjoyed gazing at the clouds as I drove.
     Today the three of us; Lake, my mother, and myself, had left my home full of energy. After a few hours, though, we were drained from completing errands ― entirely too many stops at various businesses ― the pharmacy, cleaners, Wal-Mart, and now the grocery store. It was still pleasant, but we were done… totally zapped.
     I clicked the remote unlocking the car, and we made a slow advance towards it. Lake walked straight to the front passenger door and opened it for my eighty-year-old mother. She slipped in and sank into the padded seat. “Thank you so much, Lake. You are such a gentleman.”
     “You are welcome, and thank you, Ging-Ging.” He solemnly stated and climbed into the back seat. Busy, he quietly adjusted the head rest and buckled his seat belt.
     I waited as the carry-out employee unloaded bags of groceries into the rear of the car. Beads of perspiration rolled down his face, and he tried to smile. I felt like hugging him for working in dire conditions but refrained. Instead, I helped him set the bags into my car. Ripping open a regular package of paper towels I’d just bought, I handed a sheet to him, and he wiped his wet face.
     “Thank you, ma’am,” he stammered.
     “I know how sweat can sting your eyes. Here, put some in your pocket for later.” I unrolled several sheets and shoved them at him. He snatched onto them, smiled, and left.
     Hastening to the front of the car, I plopped down in the driver’s seat and turned on the ignition. It seemed to take forever before slightly cool air blasted out of the air conditioner vents.
     “It’s getting cooler,” Mom declared. She stretched her legs out and sighed deeply.
     Lake folded his hands behind his head, a half-smile growing―obviously savoring the improved degree of coolness filtering through the car.
     Sensitive feelings tugged at my heart while I observed each of them relax―with no complaints, no rudeness. “Is anyone getting hungry?” I inquired.
     “I am,” Mom blurted.
     “Me too, Ne-Ne.”
     “How about fried chicken?” I backed the car, veered to the exit and blended into traffic on the main road.
     “Church’s?” Mom raised an eyebrow.
     “Sure. I like the crunchy. What about you two?”
     “I’d like the dark meat… mostly legs.”
     “Chicken strips for me,” Lake chimed in.
     “Sounds good, we’ll be there in less than ten minutes.” I changed lanes while I had a chance.
     Traffic moved smoothly. Two blocks away from Church’s Fried Chicken restaurant, my car suddenly made a horrible squealing noise.
     I gasped. Shocked, Mom and Lake looked at me wide-eyed. The instant I drove into the parking lot the sound stopped.
     Quickly, I glanced in the restaurant windows and noticed standing room only. All of the tables were taken with other customers.
     “The noise must have been a fan belt. I remember that’s what it was years ago when Dad’s old truck conked out…sounded about the same…” I frowned at my own summation.
     Making my way to the drive-in window, I dismissed the thought and quickly ordered our meal.
     “It’s too crowded inside; we’ll have to eat in the car. Try not to make a mess but don’t worry about it. I can clean the car, later. At least the A.C. is blowing ice-cold air, now. I’ll leave the car on while we eat.”
     Two weary faces responded with a quiet nod.
     After waiting several minutes our order was ready, and I finally found a parking space. Food and drinks were distributed. We all ate hungrily, crumbs falling about as our appetites kicked into high gear.
     During the meal, I recalled ‘the sound’ first began in my car a week ago. It was frightening to say the least. I called the dealership, and they suggested I bring it to the service department. My neighbor thought it was the main fan belt. Our small town shade tree mechanic mentioned it could be the axel weakening. Neither could understand why it happened but agreed I should wait for another occurrence before returning to the dealership. Not being knowledgeable about cars, I took their advice…in spite of feeling uneasy about it.
     I did investigate other brands of vehicles for gas mileage, etc. My car was recently paid for and in the back of my mind, I knew I’d have to use it for a trade in, eventually.
     Silently debating the issue, I finished eating and passed a bag around for trash and empty food containers.
     “I’m done, Ne-Ne.” Lake threw his individual box into the bag with the others. Mom opened small, disposable, wet towels, and we cleaned our hands. Full and refreshed, we perked up, almost as energetic as when we’d left home earlier.
     “Get ready to leave.” I announced, and everyone quickly buckled their seat belt. I backed out of the slot and left the parking lot. Minutes later, a few blocks away, ‘the sound’ returned worse than ever.
     “Lord protect us,” I said half-aloud and paused. “This is a safety issue. I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I’m going with my first instincts.” I glanced at my passengers and spoke in a steady lower-pitched voice. “We are driving straight to the Toyota dealership to look at cars.”
     “Woo-hoo!” Lake sat up straight in his seat.
     “Good idea.” Mom, with strong eye contact, nodded at me.
     Driving a few more miles on Highway 80, I was amazed when ‘the sound’ grew quieter. Abruptly, it disappeared altogether.
     Searching for the Toyota business, I drove further and decided it was not on this highway. Slowing my car, I signaled to turn. Lake leaned forward.
     “What are you turning for, Ne-Ne? It’s on down the highway.”
     “I don’t remember it being this far.”
     “It is, Ne-Ne. Keep going, we’re almost there.”
     My grandson is eight going on twenty. Smart, and alert; he takes in information like water soaks into a sponge. I knew he was right. He knew what he was talking about.
     “Okay, I’ll keep going straight.”
     Three miles later the tall Toyota sign jutted above all the rest.
     “There it is,” Lake yelled.
     “Thank you, Lake…woo-hoo!” I veered my car into their driveway and passed the many rows of parked vehicles. All three of us looked in a different direction as I came to a complete stop at the main office. Cars, trucks and SUV’s surrounded us in every color currently available. It was an awesome assortment.
     Mom was the first one out of the car. Lake was a close second, and the salesman approached as I exited the P. T. Cruiser.
     “Good afternoon, ma’am. May I help you?”
     “Oh, no, thank you. We’re just looking.”
     “Well, if you find anything you like let me know.”
     “I will. Thank you.” I pivoted to address Mom and Lake only to find Mom intently examining a nearby car. Lake had spotted a small compact car and motioned towards it. I shook my head in a negative response and pointed to the far corner of the lot.
     “We have to find something not so low to the ground. When you get older you’ll understand. It’s hard climbing in and out of anything low whether it’s a couch, a chair, or a vehicle.”
     “All right, Ne-Ne.” He sprinted to the lot I’d shown him.
     “Mom, come over here.” I waved to her, and she eased by several cars to get to me.
     We strolled to the area with Rave 4 vehicles. Lake opened the driver’s door on one and sat inside. He examined the instrument panel and the seat adjustments.
     “What do you think, Ne-Ne?”
     “I like the size. It’s not a low ride close to the ground.” I peeped and took a long, hard look at the interior. “No. I can’t drive a stick shift. Let’s look at some others.”
     “This isn’t a stick shift, Ne-Ne. It’s the way they make them now.”
     I studied his young, serious face and realized he was up to date on the latest models of automobiles.
     I sighed. “What are you talking about?”
     “See? It doesn’t have the H pattern of the old stick shift. This shifts to park, reverse, neutral, and drive is 3-D. There is no clutch.”
     “Well, you are so right. I didn’t notice.”
     He grinned.
     “I know I want a Rave 4. I googled it online. It gets great gas mileage, the price is reasonable, and you don’t feel like you’re sitting on the ground.”
     I glanced at Mom. “Try getting into this car and tell me if you need help.” I stood nearby ready to assist her.
     Mom opened the passenger door and ran her hand along the ceilings edge for the pull down hand grip. She grabbed ahold of it and lowered herself into the car with no trouble.
     “That confirms it. Let’s go in the dealer showroom.”
     We walked in and a brand new, sparkling Rave 4 stood out above the rest. It was super shiny and jet black. We were all over it.
     “Ma’am, I see you found something. Do you mind if I test drive your car in case we use it as a trade-in today?”
     “Oh, you don’t want to drive my car. It’s not clean right now and...”
     He interrupted. “It will help to know what the boss will offer for your car.”
     “Well, it’s not acting right but here you go.” I handed him my car keys.
     Lake narrowed his eyes and studied the Rave 4. Stepping close, he drew his leg back and started kicking tires. Satisfied all was well, he nodded.
     The salesman mumbled as he walked off. “The kid is checking out the tires…those really are new Toyota tires…”
     “Let’s put the back seats down.” We did, and I was hooked. We all were. This was the perfect vehicle for me.
     I meandered to the front of the showroom waiting for the salesman to return with my P. T. Cruiser. Picking up a magazine, I thumbed through it and glanced at the wall clock.
     He’s been gone for fifteen minutes…surely the car didn’t break down somewhere…
     Mom and Lake joined me, and we wandered to the waiting room, complete with coffee and a television broadcasting a popular food channel. They stayed, and I roamed towards the service area requesting the remote. An employee handed it to me. I scrambled back to the waiting room.
     Customers sat waiting for their cars to be serviced. Some read newspapers while others focused on their smart phones. The television was ignored.
     “Do you mind if I watch the national news?”
     “No, go ahead.” Everyone was in agreement so I settled into a chair and changed the channel.
     Got to stay informed…
     I listened to a reverse mortgage commercial and forgot we weren’t alone in the waiting room when I commented to Mom.
     “Can you believe the propaganda? Wonder how much the actor was paid to look and act so sincere?”
     “Mrs. Helen’s daughter talked her into having a reverse mortgage on her home, then got power of attorney, and put Mrs. Helen in a nursing home. The daughter got the money and moved up north. Mrs. Helen can’t play her piano anymore; her daughter sold it, and her home went to the state.” Mom’s face grew flushed discussing her friend and the problems she had with a reverse mortgage, and her daughter.
     “Excuse me, but I believe a reverse mortgage on your home is very helpful to our senior citizens.”
     I glanced at the stranger sitting proud and straight in his chair. He had obviously overheard our conversation.
     “Do you have children?” I asked.
     “No ma’am, I don’t and with prices sky high our seniors are anxiously struggling with their low, fixed income from social security. If they can get the money for their house now, when they need it, who cares if the state does gets the house later?”
     “I’m trying to be broadminded, but I do have children. I don’t know what your spiritual beliefs are. I am a Christian. It’s biblical to leave an inheritance to your children, and it is my plan. Even if it wasn’t biblical, I want my children to always have a home they can go to if the need arises, and I am no longer here.”
     “I think we both understand each other’s views.” He signed heavily. “This economy has us all walking on eggs.”
     Another man spoke up. “Sometimes it’s hard not to throw those eggs.” He raised his eyebrows and chuckled. Everyone seemed to identify with the statement. I was glad the experience wasn’t lost on my grandson.
     “I sure don’t want to be around if that happens.” Lake shook his head and the adults quickly changed the subject.
     I got a cup of coffee and gave Lake money to purchase bottled water from the nearby machine for himself, and my mother.
     Where is the salesman who left with my car?
     The manager approached and invited me into his office. There sat the salesman. I guess he entered through another door. I was presented a terrific contract, and I signed it. Thankful for such a great deal, I could now drive a safe car in warranty.
     Lake and Mom met me in the hallway. Excited, we swiftly transferred belongings from the old car to the new one. The salesman followed and pulled me to the side.
     “Would you believe the kid checked out the tires on your new car?” The salesman grinned.
     “Yes, he’s pretty thorough.” I beamed.
     Taking Lake at face value―the salesman had been impressed with Lake’s actions: a young boy kicking tires― was fine. However, I realized the depth of what he missed by not knowing Lake. He didn’t know the reasoning, beliefs, kindness, character, or values making my grandson the exceptional young man he is. Of course, the salesman didn’t have time, but with anyone it’s a missed opportunity unless you make an effort. As a learning factor in today’s world, it applies greatly to many areas of our daily lives. Unfortunately, it works both ways. Do not be deceived by someone’s actions unless you truly know their motives.
     NKJV: Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”


by Lynn Hobbs - Short Story Published on Angie's Diary - June 9, 2012

     Light as a feather, she took a step off the concrete walkway. Mindful of possible discovery, her eyes glanced in all directions.
     Great, no one is here. I can finally do this. 

     Sheer excitement dared her to walk further, her heart raced from a sudden adrenalin rush… like she hadn’t experienced in years.
     Gusts of wind blew a salty sea smell into her nostrils. Gulls scurried about, their loud screeches increased in volume at her approach. She treasured the moment, enjoying the breeze. It whipped her hair about with a sudden icy chill only the fall winds could bring.
     Proud and still, she stood, absorbed in the bounty of rewards the Texas Gulf Coast offered, until her senses filled. A few steps closer to  white caps of water, licking at the sand, and her desire to return to the ocean was satisfied. Seaweed littered the area…a stringy mass of goop to avoid. She stumbled on a large, half-hidden shell that protruded from the sand, making her footing that much more precarious.  A flex of muscles and generous arch of her back helped, in an attempt to loosen her old aching joints.
      Voices floated down concrete stairs, leading to the beach. Startled by the intrusion of others, her body jerked. Her ears strained, her eyes opened wide, and she tried not to panic.
      They’re close, whoever it is. I have to hide. Can't let them find me. A quick scan across the area did offer relief. Hmm, yes, perfect. In a hurry, she eased herself down onto the sand,  behind a cluster of granite boulders. Weary, she remained silent.
beach with gulls 300x210 stories shortstory     “Jack, come on, let’s wiggle our toes in the sand.”
     “It’s cold out here,” he blurted, and crossed his arms  over his chest.
     “Adventure calls,” Sherry yelled into the wind. Undeterred, she slipped off her shoes and skipped across the water, while waves swept over her ankles.
     “We didn’t even bring a towel, Sherry. You’ll be a muddy mess.”
     “I won’t waste our solitude here.” She gave a mischievous grin.
     Jack grabbed her into his arms, as he spoke in a deliberate deep voice, “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a …hoot…about wasting this beach, either.”
     “Oh, Rhett, that was not how it went in the movie.” Sherry gave her best southern accent followed by infectious laughter.
     He swung her around, laughed, and looked her right in the eye.
     “Alright, we can stay, but let’s find someplace to sit down out of this cold wind.”
     Jack whistled a merry tune while they strolled along.
     “Yes, my de-ah,” his new Southern drawl kicked in, “I bask in the exhilarated elements of our favorite rendezvous.”
     Sherry threw her arms up in the air. “Enough, Mr. Twain, I can’t take anymore.”
     “Okay.” He grinned. “Remember the granite boulders the U.S. Corp of Engineers placed here along the sea wall?"
     “Do I ever. The Corp of Engineers owns the sea wall, an the Galveston Park Board manage it."
     Arm in arm they continued, until the distance between themselves and the  boulders disappeared. Jack helped her sit, first, before he sprawled out. Careful to position both their backs against the natural windbreak, each stretched their legs out on the sand. Sherry leaned her head onto his shoulder as they sat close together.
     “I’m glad you insisted we make this trip, especially after the summer season is over. I treasure this privacy.”
     “So do I, Jack. Galveston, Texas has many fond memories for me. I used to walk across the top of the sea wall when I was younger. We camped here a lot, in those days.”
     “Your childhood and mine are different as night and day. I  think because I grew up in the north,  with all the ice and snow, I can’t get enough of this coast.” He took a deep breath and glanced upward. Sea gulls flew in with their piercing calls, and landed for a brief moment, only to fly further inland. Another flock of shorebirds, the smaller sandpipers, scattered about the edge of the water on tiny legs.
     Sherry sat upright. “I’ve always loved being born and raised in Houston with Galveston nearby. As a child, I’d play games with my cousins on the beach. Wow, those days were full of excited activities and laughter and noise.” She paused, “Mom had sixteen brothers and sisters and everyone was married and had kids. At least four or five of the families would spend the week-end here, during good weather. We’d sing together around a huge bonfire at night, while the men cooked on their portable grills. Later, I was amazed when my uncles wore hip-waders and would simply walk out into the ocean, stand still, and fish.”
     “I think it’s against the law to have bonfires  or camp out here, now," Jack replied.
     “It is, and I noticed the signs warning not to fish off the jetties, or even stand on them.”
     “What’s the jetties?”
     “See the row of boulders coming out from the shore and going straight out to sea for nearly a mile? Well. that is just one of  the jetties, and we used to climb all over them.  It was not so perilous, if you watched the tide. When the tide is in, waves splash water across the top of the rocks, and the green algae  that grows there become slimy and wet. No one can move, without sliding, which could prove fatal. Tides out, the wind dries the algae, and you can walk to the end of the jetties. The top surface is jagged and rough, though, you have to be careful where you step,” Sherry recalled, “but the fishing and the view are so worth it.”
     “I can see why they put warning signs up.”
     “Dad used to bring fresh oysters, still in their shells, home from Galveston. He would have a huge, croaker sack full, and shuck them in our garage. I was about eight years old when he  taught me how to eat them raw. The first one he handed me, I swallowed, and it came back up, completely whole. He laughed and said I had to chew it up. Later, we’d dip them in a horseradish concoction to enjoy raw with crackers, and Mom refused to join us. Now, I wouldn’t dare eat oysters unless they are fried. Yum, such a treat! Yes, this place brings back a lot of good memories,” Sherry gushed.
     From the other side of the boulders, a low moan clearly sounded, as a majestic cold, wind thrust down upon the beach.
     Sherry refrained her reminiscing and froze. “Did you hear something?”
     “No, only the wind.”
     “It was not the wind.”
     “Okay, Miss Imagination. It was a shipwrecked sailor in distress, hanging onto a plank, eighty feet out at sea, and shouting for help.”
     She frowned and turned to squarely face Jack, balled up her fist, and promptly hit him on his arm.
     “Babe, I couldn’t resist.” He grabbed, and kissed her, before she realised what he was going to do.
     Tide began rolling in, and a massive gust of wind, covered them from head to toe, with a mist of salty seawater.
     “Yuck,” Sherry sputtered, as she stood up, and attempted to wipe her face.
     Jack raised his lanky self up and looked at Sherry. He lightly caressed her cheek with his hand, “My, can you ever talk, girl.” He smoothed the windblown hair back from her face, and held her in his arms.
     Disturbed by hearing a long groan, Sherry eased away. I know what I heard, but I'm not about to tell him. “And can you ever whistle. What was that tune a while ago?” Sherry stood aloaf.
     “Two bottles of beer on the wall, two bottles of beer, take one away…”
     Sherry interrupted, “I’ve heard of it. We did something else where I grew up, the name song.”
     “What in the world are you talking about? What is the name song?”
     “Use my name, Sherry. It would go like this: Sherry, Sherry, boe berry, boe nana, fana, fo ferry–Sherry!”
     “Man, what a song.” Jack sighed, and glanced away.
     “Listen to this, we’ll sing it with your name,” Sherry rattled on.
     “No, I don’t want to hear it.”
     “Oh, Jack. It would be fun to sing with you, come on.”
     He kicked sand into the air with his shoe, and danced his fingers across her arm. Raising his eyebrows in expectation, he lightly kissed her on her forehead. “We are all alone,” he mumbled in her ear.
     “Stop it, Jack, big difference between animal instinct and real love. Someday I’ll be married, and it will be special.”
     Jack cocked his head to the side and spoke slow, “You are not loose with your affections, like  other girls I have dated.”
     Her response was halted by another moan. “I hear it again. Jack, something is on the other side of the boulders.”
     “Well, come on, let’s check it out.”
     Sherry beat him around to the other side. “Oh,” she gasped, as a head rose up, and gave her a pleading look. “Oh, Jack,” Sherry whimpered, and a bark could be heard along the beach.
     “What?” he said from behind her.
     “Jack, it’s a cocker spaniel, with auburn hair, and …no collar.” She gingerly picked up the dog and wrapped her arms around it.
     He took the dog from her and circled his other arm around Sherry’s waist. Distant sounds of wind chimes jingled in the breeze, and beckoned them up to the souvenir shops, nearby.
    ”If we hurry, we can make the ferry to Port Bolivar.” He smiled at Sherry and tightened his grip on the dog as it wagged it’s tail.
The End


The Shoe Fit the Wrong Sister
by Lynn Hobbs - 1st Place in Flash Fiction Contest
Published in the East Texas Writers Association's April 2012 Issue of The Roughdraft

     Greasy wisps of stringy hair caressed the hollow cheeks of Cinderella’s gangly stepsister. At six foot four, Fay stood erect and giggled.
     The sisters gathered to try on the glass slipper.
     Dressed in a dusty rose gown, stepsister Olga, weighed in at over four hundred pounds. Her grin  displayed three missing teeth; two on top and one on the bottom.
      Cinderella, long-legged and attractive, had been shoved aside and was hidden behind the skirts of her ugly stepsisters.
     All eyes were on the Prince. He approached in a carriage pulled by a pair of horses. Coughing, he placed the back of a hand against his mouth. “Do three sisters live here, or is it four?”
     His question hung in the air, and no one answered.
     A quick leap, and he disembarked. He scanned the growing crowd of women as his footman carried a glass slipper upon a burgundy pillow. Heavy blends of perfume assaulted his nostrils. He applied pressure with his pinky finger above the corner of his mouth and prevented a sneeze.
      Olga sauntered towards the Prince and spicy aroma followed. She held her petticoats with one hand and tried to ease her foot into the slipper. After several futile attempts, she grimaced, and backed away.
     He spotted Cinderella, in her brown homespun. She met his gaze, and they shared a tentative smile. She looked away, and he kept staring at her. Homespun or not, her presence was noticed. She carried herself as ladylike as a noblewoman. She lifted her eyes, and they shared another warmer smile. Abruptly, Fay, the tall stepsister, shoved Cinderella against the wall of the building behind her..
     “Let me try.” She cackled, and demanded of the Prince. Quite against the insistence of his pounding heart, he bowed politely. "Madam."
     Fay put her foot inside the slipper, and it fit perfectly.
     Wide-eyed, the Prince turned pale as the tall sister and the entire crowd gasped out loud together.
     “No, oh no, I haven’t had my turn.” Cinderella whimpered and rushed to the Prince.
     “Too late.” The tall sister yelled, and people milling around took up the chant, and the noise grew in volume. “Too late. Too late.”
     Horses opened their mouths and whinnied. Their handlers quickly and expertly calmed them with firm commands.
     Cinderella grasped the slipper, noticed the glare of her stepsister, and tried it on.
     No, the glass slipper didn’t fit Cinderella’s foot.
     A low hush fell over the crowd as she returned the slipper back to the Prince. The moment was suddenly interrupted by another woman.
     “I’m a stepsister, let me try too.” A woman pranced about, flinging her green skirts to and fro.
     A chorus of “So am I. I’m also a stepsister.” could be heard from women scattered throughout the crowd.
     “Enough. All of you back off,” the Prince ordered.
     He looked up at the stepsister who towered above him and narrowed his eyes at her. “Your foot fit the slipper. You will be my Princess; however, I do not remember dancing with anyone as tall as you.”
     Cinderella stepped forward. “It was I who was your dancing partner. My feet are swollen today, and I cannot wear the slipper.” She hung her head in obvious sorrow.
     “I have to stand on my word. I had said whose foot fits the slipper will be my Princess. So be it.”
     He motioned for the taller girl, and she hurried to stand by his side. “I will display you to all as an example of keeping my word.”
     He quickly turned to Cinderella, grabbed her rough hands and examined her calluses. “Your hard work has paid off, Cinderella. I will give all of my horses to you as a new business venture.”
     He pivoted to the crowd. “Here ye, here ye. Be it known, as of this hour; Cinderella is the owner of the magnificent roadsters.”
     Cinderella clapped her hands together and jumped up and down, squealing with laughter.
     A loud cheer sailed forth, and he reached to hold the hand of his potential Princess.
     He helped her into the carriage, and they drove off amid happy shouts and applause.

The End


The Song That Changed Everything
by Lynn Hobbs - 2nd Place in Flash Fiction Contest
Published in the East Texas Writers Association's May 2012 Issue of The Roughdraft

     Her scissors clipped across his face as she combed and studied the white, bushy eyebrows. “Be still, you big baby.”Marie shook her head at Rubin and leaned towards him.
     “Handsome baby, you mean, and I’ve sat in this chair long enough.” Rubin squirmed in an attempt to stand. Marie lunged and playfully pushed him back.
     “My, aren’t you something?” He laughed.
     “I think I am. I can cut hair with the best of them.” She grinned and poked him in the ribs. "You old fox."
     Rubin pulled her to himself in one swift motion and rubbed his shaggy mop of eyebrows over her cheek.
     “Ewww. That’s it; those wild hairs have to go!” She cut fast and hair fell over his nose, down his neck, and on the kitchen floor. Rubin sputtered, and Marie quickly glanced at him.
     “Close your mouth, I’m nearly done.” A few well-placed snips, and she finished.
     “There, good as new.” She smiled at her old friend and dusted the loose hairs off of him with a hand towel.
     “I can get up now?”
     “Yes, you can get up now.”
     He stood and stretched his arms and yawned. “My show starts in five minutes. I have a surprise for you today.” Rubin turned the radio on and beamed.
      Marie listened as the theme song played, “The Golden Oldies Hour.” She poured both a glass of iced tea, and Rubin set a deck of cards on the table.
     “Your deal.”
     She shuffled cards and passed them out to play a game of Skip-Bo. “I am grateful the station manager lets you tape your program ahead of time. We can enjoy it together.” She paused. “You go first.”
     He nodded, and gathered his cards. The taped program began, and his voice boomed from the radio. “And a special treat for Marie; here is a song meant just for the two of us.”
     She increased the volume. The smooth melody and a clear, rich voice blended as the words to “We’ve Only Just Begun” sailed out into the kitchen.
     “Oh, Rubin, it’s Karen and Richard Carpenter! I love hearing them sing!” She reached and squeezed his hand.
     “I remembered you did. I wanted to do something special. You've been working so hard on the night shift at the hospital, lately. How much longer will you be on nights?"
     “They are short-handed at the E.R. with qualified surgical nurses. I might be there another month."
     "I don't see how you do it." Rubin patted her shoulder. "Let’s finish this game.” He yawned.
     An hour later, Rubin went to bed,  and Marie dressed for work. She pulled her salt and pepper hair in a bun, applied lipstick, and grabbed her purse. A brisk walk in the night air invigorated her, and she hummed the tune she’d heard earlier. “And when the evening comes, we smile... yes...we’ve only just begun.”
      She arrived at the hospital and when the automatic doors swung open, she was immediately struck with silence.
     How unusual for the E.R. to be this quiet.
     She put her purse in a locker and hastened to a co-worker, Delores.
     "What is this, the lull before the storm?" Marie raised an eyebrow.
     "No Marie. All patients were admitted and issued rooms upstairs. You know, the usual shift change. Oh, wait, follow me; Fed-X  left some packages in the main office."
     They walked down a hall when a young, attractive woman wearing nurse's scrubs approached from the opposite direction.
     "I was told I have a package here."
     "What's your name, and I'll look for it."
     Delores sorted through the various size packages on the counter. "Let's see, this is for Sandy in Admitting, Trish in Maintenance, and she held one in the air. "This is for Marie-Night E.R. Nurse." She handed it to the grey-headed woman. "And this one is for Lena; Day Shift E.R."
     "That's me." The younger woman grabbed her package.
     They both opened them at the same time.
     "Oh, it's from Rubin, an album of the Carpenters!" Marie held it close to her chest and beamed.
     "I have the same thing!" Lena glanced at the card. "And it's from my sweet Rubin." She quickly frowned at Marie. "How do you know Rubin?"
     "He's my husband." Marie scowled and spoke in a voice that rose in volume, "Once a cheater, always a cheater."
     Lena lifted her eyebrows and nodded. "Tell you what, let's put both of our albums in the same package, and send it back to him."
     "Sounds good. How about a cup of coffee?"
     "I can't wait."

The End

Note: Above is the edited version of all three short stories. They were edited for publication in the East Texas Writers' Association Anthology; 'Tis The Season (2013)

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