Flash Fiction: Doctor’s Office

The already cramped doctor’s office is packed. Seriously? I check in and grab a seat near the window.

A copy of In Style magazine with an attractive blonde on the cover catches my eye. I flip past Lose 10 lbs fast! to the recipe section. That’s always the best part, anyway.

Whispers distract me. I glance up. A little girl with dark hair that hangs in her face and ragged clothes that have seen better days, sits directly across. She’s barefoot, feet grimy and scabbed. I hide my disgust. How did they let her in like this? She quietly talks in the ear of the elderly woman beside her. The woman puts her hand to her head, moans, then grabs her stomach.

“Beatrice!” the nurse says from the door.

The elderly woman fights to walk to the nurse, hunched over as she shuffles.

I bite my lip. That was…strange. Whatever. The next recipe calls my attention and I ignore the room around me for another minute.

Until those whispers return. Those whispers.

My gaze jets around the room.

The girl has changed seats. She sits near a young man, now. He wears ear buds, his chin bobbing up and down to the beat of his music. The girl leans in. Whispers. His eyes glaze then crinkle as he grabs his chest, his side. The guy pulls the ear buds out and leans over, elbows on his knees, hands on his head.

“Jeremy!” the nurse says.

She stands at the door with a clipboard in her hand. He struggles to his feet and lopes after her, his jaw flexed the entire way. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This is weird. Too weird.

Once more, I shove my nose back into my magazine but I keep an eye on the girl and her movements from behind the pages. She moves from one person to the next. Each time she whispers. Each time the person reacts like they’ve just been stricken with sudden illness. Yet, no one comments on her presence, or even acknowledges her, for that matter. Not a single person looks in her direction.

Like she’s not real. An apparition.

I suck in a breath and my stomach clenches. I’ve had enough of this. It’s time I told the receptionist and got this girl kicked out of the office.

I toss the magazine on the table, grab my purse and—

The girl sits beside me. I can’t see her eyes from the way her stringy hair covers them. I cringe. A scent of something rotted drifts over, something sour and moldy. I cover my nose and lean away.

She whispers. Words I don’t understand. Can’t comprehend.

Pain lances across my forehead, shoots through my gut. My muscles go weak and my throat lights on fire with heat.

“Linda!” The nurse calls me.

I look beside me.

The girl is gone.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit LL Zimmerman

Caffeinated Speculation: “Games of Thrones”: The Return of a Favorite Character?

Okay, before I go any further, if you are a GoT fan and have NOT watched the most recent season, do NOT read any further. I do not want to be held responsible for ruining your week/month/year just because you weren’t aware that a favorite character may not have survived last season! So, without further ado: SPOILERS! (There. Fair warning.)

Now, on to my speculation. So, my oldest daughter and I are fairly big (read: ridiculously geeky!) fans of Game of Thrones. (I will admit, my daughter more so than I. She watches every possible fan-made video and researches all theories on the subject. No lie.) And I can also say, our most favorite character of all time was the beloved Hodor, who bit the dust in the most tragically romantic way in season 6. (Well, sort of romantic. The whole Bran-vision/past-being-future thing was sort of surreal, if not crazy heart-wrenching. It took many minutes–hours–to come down from that cry-fest when we finally got around to watching the episode.) And yes, we are among the many fans who noticed that, although Hodor did what he was told to do (“Hold the door!”), and despite the fact we saw many a White Walker hand punching through the door to take him to a disgusting grave, the audience didn’t actually see what really happened to him. No, we aren’t hopeful enough to assume he survived the attack (although, that would be cool, right??), but we have long discussed the idea that maybe we will see our adored character come back as the dreaded White Walker. *gasp* Continue reading

Caffeinated Convo: What is Your Favorite Travel Music?

Finally! Another Caffeinated Convo! Did you miss me? *wink, wink* If you haven’t guessed, my family is still. homeless. *Sigh…* But, the good news is, we just got final approval yesterday for the loan on our house! As of May 5, I might–just might–be able to get back into my regular schedule! *crosses fingers and wishes on a star* Our family has been traveling all over the country, as we’ve been patiently (or not-so-patiently) awaiting the day we would move in to our new home. We’ve visited exciting destinations like: Tahlequah, Oklahoma (Capital of the Cherokee Nation!); Kannapolis, North Carolina (birthplace of Dale Earnhardt Sr.–and our new home! *cartwheel*); Camden, Delaware (neighbor to the Dover NASCAR track!); Yardley, Pennsylvania (home of my sister and a really good Starbucks!); and Lititz, Pennsylvania (our home-away-from-home, and where Wilbur Chocolate and Tomato Pie Cafe are located–enough said!) Aren’t you jealous you’re not on this road-trip with us? (Actually…don’t answer that. *winkie face*)

Sooo, all this traveling has included lots of music. Which brings me to this week’s question:

What is your favorite travel music? 

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Photo credit Unsplash by anja.

Continue reading

Caffeinated Convo: What are your Sleeping Habits?

Over the past few weeks of travel I’ve slept in various locations–hotels, family guest rooms, the bedroom of a college student. Each time we’ve moved on I’ve had to be sure I grabbed all the essentials. But when it comes to essentials, sometimes they go beyond just a toothbrush and underwear, amiright? Essentials mean sleep! 

I’ve got a good friend who cannot sleep without a fan on. She literally has a fan in every bedroom of her house and she owns various sized fans specifically for travel. When I first met her, I thought she was the exception. I’d never met anyone who couldn’t sleep without a fan before. But over the years, I’ve found countless people just like her–all must have white noise to fall asleep. Which begs the question:

What are your sleeping habits?

Do you need white noise to fall asleep? Does your iPhone work overtime at night by playing sounds of the ocean or rainforest? Or maybe gentle music is just what you need to catch a bit of shut-eye?

For me, I must have the most completely complete silence on earth possible. Even the sound of a car driving down our street or a cat meowing by our window will certainly spell disaster for Mr. Sandman and me. (Luckily I don’t have a husband who snores!) Therefore, I’ve become good friends with earplugs over the years. Yes, they can be annoying at first, but once the vacuum of noise has been sucked away, my brain sort of sighs and does a few cartwheels, then settles in for a good night’s rest.

What about you? Do you need white noise to get through the night? Or are you able to fall asleep in any situation? I’d love to take a poll and see just how many white noise people there are verses people like me! Please leave a comment below, friends! 

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Photo credit Unsplash by Kalegin Michall

ACFW New Releases–April 2017

Don’t miss out on this month’s new releases from fellow ACFW authors! Pick up a new book to read over spring break!

April 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:
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Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

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Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

General: Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: The Neighbor

Anya slid her fingers through Fabio’s thick curls, marveled at his broad chest. How had it only been twenty-four hours? The love of her life had swept in, whisked her away to paradise—

Jessica snorted and tossed the paperback on the sofa before she headed to the kitchen for coffee. Ridiculous. Romance novels were all the same—perfectly plain heroine meets perfectly chiseled hero and they fall in love immediately. Not reality.

She leaned against the counter, sipped her beverage and sighed. Then again, who was she to judge, right? She hadn’t had a date in over a year. Apparently perfectly plain Jessica wasn’t perfect.

Charlie, her cat, rubbed along her leg. She picked him up and nuzzled him. “You would be the perfect man if you were human, wouldn’t you?”

If only finding a man was as easy as picking a cat. Heck, she didn’t even need a six-foot-four model named Fabio with jet black curls that fell to his shoulders, thick biceps and straight alabaster teeth. She’d take Mr. Average with a dad-bod, who was balding.

Jessica showered, got ready, unloaded the dishwasher, and folded a load of towels. Maybe someday Mr. Wonderful would appear.

“Have a good day,” she whispered to Charlie before she headed out the door of her apartment.

As she locked her door, she heard bangs from the new tenant as they moved in across the hall. She turned to leave and—

“Hello, beautiful. I’m new here.” A man with dark curly hair, the broadest shoulders she’d ever seen, and a smile that would put Jake Gyllenhaal to shame, towered before her.

Her jaw dropped.

The man smiled. “My name’s Fabio. I’d love to get to know you.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Pixabay by Olichel

Caffeinated Speculation: Have you seen the trailer for “It”?

All right, where are my Stephen King fans? Are you obsessed with his books? Love his movies? If so, this post is for you!

So, this week the brand new trailer for Stephen King’s “It” came out. (You can watch it here, if you’re brave enough!) I have a confession—I probably wouldn’t have even known this movie was coming out if it weren’t for my teenaged girls. See, we happen to be pretty big “Stranger Things” fans. (Like we have a countdown for season 2 in flashing neon lights dead center of our living room. Just kidding! The colors are in glitter, not neon. *winky face*) Anywho…just as any teen likes to do, my girls particularly enjoy following their favorite actors on every form of social media possible. (“Watch this clip of Gaten Matarazzo falling, mom! It’s hilarious!”) Naturally, they know every single detail of every star of the show and regularly tweet to them. (*Mom hides face in palm*) My middle daughter even bought the same ring Millie Bobby Brown wears because, duh! That makes her just like Millie!

I digress. Back to confession: Okay, so the only reason “IT” was on my radar in the first place is because Mike from ST (Finn Wolfhard—And yes, my “middle” also owns the “Finn Wolfhard” T-shirt!) happens to be in “It”! Are you following me? (Phew. I think I need to sit down.) So, my girls have been waiting eagerly for this trailer to come out and this week their heads exploded into a million pieces because it did.

The end.

Okay, maybe not. But they did get super excited and have watched the thing a billion-and-one times already, if that’s a thing. But here’s the sad part—their writer-mama has never even read this book. (*Writer-mama runs and hides in corner*) Yes, yes. I hear you guffawing but really, I like horror just as much as any other girl, but I haven’t read this book. Because, CLOWNS!

Ack! Are you kidding me? I’ve never wanted to read the book—or certainly never see the original movie—because I don’t have a death wish of clowns. But here’s the thing: I think I’m going to read it now. For real! I’m geared up and ready to hit the library today so I can grab me a copy of the SK-man and read up on some scary scary clownage. And the weird part is, I’m sort of excited about it.

This begs the question: Will I be in the theater in September when this baby hits the big screen? Answer: If I can get through the stupid book, then yes. I’d like to see how the movie compares. One thing is for certain, though. I’ll be sitting alone in that overly crowded theater watching Pennywise scare little children because neither of my girls will be with me. They’ve watched the trailer a hundred times but have already said they’re too afraid to see the movie. Because, ya know…

CLOWNS.

What about you? Have you read the book? Seen the original? Plan to the see new installment? What are you thoughts on this classic horror novel and where is your excitement level in this whole thing? Feel free to share below! I’d love to find someone who’s just as scared of clowns as I am!

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Freaking scary poster for the freaking scary movie.

Caffeinated Convo: “Beauty and the Beast”–Original or New?

“Tale as old as time, true as it can be. Barely even friends, then somebody bends, unexpectedly….”

Oh, my heart! Love this song!!

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Okay! Who’s seen the new “Beauty and the Beast”? I was super psyched to take my girls (ages 15, 12 and 6) this past weekend and let me just say—that movie did not disappoint! Fantastically done! Woo! *cartwheel*

Which got me thinking…between the original Disney cartoon version and the newer live-action flick, which one do I like better? So, without further ado, I bring you this week’s Caffeinated Convo question!

Do you prefer the original cartoon “Beauty and the Beast” or the new Emma Watson caffeinated version?

As inclined as I am to choose the original—who doesn’t love a good cartoon?—I think I have to side with the new live-action film! Maybe it’s how incredibly spot-on Emma Watson got the character of Belle? Maybe it was how eloquently Dan Stevens portrayed the Beast? Possibly because the all-star cast literally knocked the Beast off his feet?! All I know is that I wanted to jump through that stinkin’ screen and start dancing and singing and become best friends with LaFou! Eee!

I will admit, as much as I love the Harry Potter movies, I was a little reserved before the movie began—How would I feel about Hermione playing such an iconic role? But then Emma walked on screen and started singing and…holy crow! The girl’s got lungs! I just LOVED her dramatic interpretation of the songs!! I literally teared up during the opening song. And, maybe it’s just me, but somehow I feel like this movie might mean more to those of us who were young when the original came out? (Okay, by young, I mean high school, but still….) But when that theme song played while the Beast and Belle danced around that ballroom—sorry. Total tears! So beautiful, people!! Ack!

So, what about you? Haven’t seen it yet? GO! NOW! Already gone and ready to see it a second time? (As my 12 YO has already done.) Then please join in the conversation! Which movie do you prefer, the old or the new? Or is there an even balance you’d like to strike between the two? Let’s talk, friends!

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Gas Station

The GPS was dead.

There was no cell service, either. Fifteen miles had passed without any connection with the world.

“Think we’ll find a gas station soon?” Ben said.

Maryann cringed. “How low are we?”

“Let’s put it this way…once we’re out of fumes, we’ll be walking.”

“And you’re sure this isn’t the right road?”

“Positive.” He ran a hand through his hair, gave a futile glance in the rearview mirror. Not a single car had passed by in the last hour. “Maybe this road-trip through the desert wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Well, at least it’s cloudy so it’s not so hot.” She stifled a smile.

“For now,” he grumbled. “With my luck—”

“Hey!” She sat up. “Is that a gas station ahead?”

He squinted. “Huh. Maybe my luck is changing.”

The car rolled into the vacant station and stopped in front of the pump, chugged, then died.

“Whoa.” Her eyes were wide.

He began pumping. “Hey honey, check this out. This thing looks like it could be from the 1950’s or something. It’s one of those old style pumps.”

She bit her lip and looked around. Where were all the other patrons?

Once done, they went inside to pay. A bell rang over the door and the two stopped cold.

“Wow,” she said. “This place takes the vintage thing to another level.”

She ran her fingers over the varnished wood counter, eyed the jars of penny candy. Norman Rockwell paintings covered the walls. Signage for Texaco and an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes that said, “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed” sat on the counter.

“Check this out,” he said.

He stood next to an ice-filled red chest labeled Coca-Cola. An hourglass shaped glass bottle of purple liquid fizzed in his hand.

“Grapette?”

“Ooo, grab me one,” she said.

“You folks ‘bout done?” A man with white hair stood at the register.

“Just need to pay for our fill up. How much is it?”

“Cheapest price in town. Twenty-five cents per gallon,” the man said.

Their jaws dropped.

“Excuse me?” she said.

“That’s impossible,” Ben added.

The man held one hand up. “Sorry. Can’t go a penny lower.”

“He takes this old fashioned thing seriously,” Maryann muttered.

Ben smiled. “No problem. Also, we’ll take these sodas.”

“They’re a nickel a piece,” the man said.

She guffawed but Ben threw a five on the counter and turned to leave.

“Wait!” she said. “We need a map.”

“That’ll run you a dime.”

“How in the—”

“Great!” Ben said. “We’ll take it.”

Once in the car, they pulled onto a side road and stared straight ahead.

“Did that just happen?” she said.

“Yep.”

“How does he stay in business?”

Ben shrugged.

She frowned. “Maybe I should’ve used the bathroom. Mind if we run back?”

“Sure, we—” His mouth fell open and he froze, his gaze behind them.

“Ben?”

“Where’s the station?”

She turned to see nothing but desert landscape.

“Maybe this was our lucky day, after all.”

 

© Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Original artwork by Anthony L. Croman

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Original artwork by Anthony L. Croman