Stories

Sunshine and Lemonade: A Valentine’s Day Short Story

It’s Valentine’s Day! I wasn’t going to write anything for the occasion, as I find it hard to write romance stories; I prefer a good, solid love story. However, this story came to me two days ago only I didn’t have the time or the energy to write it. Honestly, I’d given up on getting it done until something clicked and Poof! I got it out. The inspiration? A few weeks ago, I told my friend, Adrianna Joleigh, that I wanted to write something inspired by one of her paintings. I love trees and nature visuals so I chose this one (which, BTW, she is giving away! Contact her at the link above if you are interested):

Painting by Adrianna Joleigh
Painting by Adrianna Joleigh

 Only, I didn’t have a story to go with it. Then, two days ago, on my way to work a story hit me. Only, the story turned out vastly different to what I had originally planned, which is fine since I like this much better. So, I’m happy to present my quickie Valentine’s Day story, Sunshine and Lemonade. I include the next picture with it because, though it’s a little different that the story, it sums it up quite well. And the couple is just so darned adorable.  🙂

Sunshine and Lemons

Photo from old-photos.blogspot.com
Photo from old-photos.blogspot.com

Arlo watched the children as they spilled out of the cornfield. Their hurried steps were light as spectres’ upon the grass, and, in unison, they hummed children’s songs as they skipped across the lawn towards the oak tree. Bathed in the canopy’s shadow at the base of the tree, the lively spirits sang as they circled the massive trunk. From the porch, Arlo watched them through a thick cloud of pipe smoke, enjoying the magical sights and sounds as much as he loathed them. Until the sun burst through the clouds and dashed the vision to pieces.

Isn’t that how things go in this life? he thought as he reached over to squeeze his wife’s wrinkled hand. Here today and gone tomorrow? He’d always believed that cherishing the people and things he loved, and keeping them close, was the most important thing a man could do. The vision confirmed it.

May glanced up from her magazine, Knitting Today, and smiled at him. Her face was as lined as her hands, but every crease and fold had been carved over the years from being a farmer’s wife as well as a mother of ten. In them, Arlo saw devotion and heart. Love. He lanced over at the old oak tree. Like it, May had stayed rooted by his side, bending and swaying under the press of life’s storms as they came, steadily, one after the other. He squeezed her hand again.

‘What are you thinking about so hard?’ she asked. ‘You know it’ll only hurt your head.’

He smiled at the old, old joke. ‘At least I still have enough sense left in there to think with. How many eighty-five-year-olds do you know who can say that?’

May laughed and went back to her magazine. Then, seeming to notice the growing heat as the day wore on, she made as if to get up. ‘You want some lemonade? I know you like it on a hot day.’

‘Yes, but I’ll get it. You…you just stay here in the sunlight. It always made your hair luminous, like…well, like the sun itself.’

May shook a fistful of hair at him. ‘You mean this straggly, grey stuff? You must need glasses.’

‘I have glasses!’

‘Thicker ones, then. I’m old and dried up, just like the bag of prunes in the cupboard.’

‘Nah,’ he answered from the screen door. You’re as beautiful today as you were when we met.’

She batted her eyes at him. Even after nearly seventy years, those blue eyes still made his heart flutter. ‘And what about these wrinkles?’

Swallowing back the lump rising in his throat, Arlo slowly swept his eyes back over to the tree. ‘They just make you more beautiful.’

A commotion sounded from the house, and startled, Arlo stepped back from the door to let out a stream of spectre-children. Laughing and singing, they pushed past him to traipse along the worn porch slats. Arlo’s gaze followed them as they danced across the grass towards the oak. Its boughs swayed lightly in the wind, in time with their song.

You are my sunshine, My only sunshine–

‘How about that lemonade, hon?’

Sweating, Arlo nodded, wiped his brow and ducked into the house. Inside the kitchen, he pressed his hands together to make them stop shaking, then shook them to get the blood going. Trapped heat made the room almost stifling hot–the windows were still closed, but he refused to open them. Even so, he could still hear the children’s voices loud and clear.

You make me happy when skies are grey–

From the porch, May’s rocking chair creaked in a steady rhythm, like a heartbeat.

What had he come inside for again? Arlo glanced around the kitchen for help. He ignored the piles of dirty dishes and the clotted milk gone sour and still sitting on the counter. Last night’s TV dinner remained half-eaten on the kitchen table, beside a half-empty bottle of whiskey and an empty glass.

‘Lemonade!’ he almost shouted, as he came back to himself. He crossed the black and white tiled floor in two quick steps, picking his way around the dust bunnies and pieces of garbage which always fell to the floor from the over-stuffed wastebasket, and opened the fridge.

The light was burned. A wave of reek from the darkness inside hit him full force in the face.

How could he have forgotten? There were no more lemons.

He ran back to the porch. ‘May! I’m so sorry. I-I can’t make you lemonade.’

She waved a hand at him and smiled, causing every one of her creases and wrinkles to smile as well. ‘Silly man. I’m fine. What do I need lemonade for, anyway?’

Pressure built in his chest. Around the tree, the ghost-children still sang. Their voices piped through the air, accompanying Arlo as he went to his wife and knelt beside her chair.

‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You never know, dear, how much I love you—‘ He couldn’t finish the song.

May took his hand in hers and gently squeezed. The children’s voices rose above the rush of the wind and the rustling of the leaves. And releasing his hand, she opened her mouth to do what he could not.

Copyright@ 2014 by Dyane Forde

Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog

Author Interview: Adrianna Joleigh, Psychological Horror Writer

Adrianna Joleigh, writer, blogger and promoter of other writers
Adrianna Joleigh, writer, blogger and promoter of other writers

I have no idea how to properly introduce today’s psychological horror writer. Literally, the entire multi-verse knows of Adrianna Joleigh, and if some sorry dimension out there doesn’t, well they soon will. 🙂 I guess I’ll just have to make it up as I go, lol

Adrianna’s quickly become an extraordinary friend, always ready to engage in some crazy shenanigans–some of you know what I mean, lol. Irreverant yet dear, thoughtful and lovable, she’s one of my favorite people around. As you’ll soon see, she has many talents and so much potential–she may actually rule the world one day, and soon. But it’s her drive and talent for writing which caused me to interview her today. So please stick around to find out more about this fascinating lady, what writing means to her and why she’s so passionate about it.

Welcome, Adrianna!

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Oh goodness. I’m 25 years old (cough-hush-cough). I was born in the USA, and now live in Eastern Europe. I’m a published author and travel editor for STeeL Magazine. The ocean, no matter where I am, is my favorite place to visit.

I’ve always been an ambitious and impulsive person. When I do something, I go all the way without hesitation, sometimes drowning myself, lol. I’m an ex-model, ex-firefighter, rescue specialist and pilot, among a few other things. I’ve gone to school for Criminal and dabble in International law. I enjoy reading or theorizing physics. And I can make a man cry just by looking at him. 😛 Talk about talent!

Hmmm. You might have to teach me that last trick, Adrianna.

photo (8)

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?

Yes! I am interested in painting. I’ve this craving to take up painting. I’m eager to see what I can do with the strokes of a bush. My writing career fits in between my running around after my twin daughters. They are a lovely handful, so I find it a challenge to write. But when I do write, it’s at night while they are sleeping. My motivation for writing would have to be my daughters along with my need for sanity. My writing, whatever form it takes at that moment, is my therapy. I think many people out there can sympathize with that. I was at a very dangerous point in my life last year, before I began a diary, and once I started to write, I felt the pieces of me heal a bit at a time. So, I continued. Little did I know I’d be where I am today.

Congratulations on your hard work and determination paying off!

What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, essays, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

I’m still getting use to the craft, and what it has to offer. There are so many options. I’d like to try all of them at least once to see if it’s something I’m interested in. Right now, I enjoy writing long stories and poetry. I call it poetry, but there are times when I view it as a unique prose, perhaps.

I cannot see myself writing non-fiction. I’ve thought about a memoir, but then I’d only end up giving myself some tragic ending so it would at least seem appealing to read. Lol. I can ALMOST not see myself writing comedy or romance. I’m not saying that I won’t try, but I don’t see me successfully executing that project. I’m a gloom and doom kind of gal. Sure, I’ll put a man and woman together in a story, but I can tell you this, one of them will lose a limb, their mind, or just shoot each other in the end. Lol. My cynical view of love perhaps shines through my writing.

My poem Victims of War  won an honorable mention for poetry in the Darker Times Fiction Magazine.

As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

To me, a good story pulls the reader in and allows them to develop a relationship with the main character. Without that, my mind will go to sleep. I need immediacy. Lingering descriptions make me want to rip my leg off and hit myself with it. Give me the information. Give me the action and make me feel every bit of it. I’ve read some bad published books and I’ve got to say that the biggest no-no, and usually irritates me to no end, is a book that calls for an active voice and ends up in passive.  

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Real characters. Make them believable and able to sympathize with. I hope that’s what you were asking for. My weaknesses are abundant. I have a quick mind. I can’t focus well. So, when I write, it’s quick and confusing. What takes a person probably an hour to write, takes me a week. It’s frustrating.

Strengths? I’m not sure. I would say it’s my imagination. It’s vivid and odd. If only I could grab it and write proficiently. If I can manage to hammer myself down to a chair to sit still and focus, I can write a pretty descriptive scene and make you uncomfortable. I could probably manage the same outcome by just staring at you. 😛  

Too true. You’re making me squirm right now! (Lift cue cards to cover my face)

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

Edgar Allan Poe. He was the first poet that I seemed to understand, and the most complicated. His symbolisms and wording of sentences, to give you a different meaning with each read-through, is impressive. When I write, I keep him in mind, and hope I succeed in executing my stories with such talent. Also, Jane Austin. The way her stories unfold and how she has you falling in love with the characters from the beginning takes my breath away. I’ve not read anything of hers that I didn’t like.  

What draws you to write in the horror genre? Why do you think it’s so popular?

I didn’t choose the genre. It chose me. Something that I don’t speak about is my imagination. I may give a general idea, but no one knows what truly lingers inside my head. I live in a constant nightmare, but only inside my mind. On the outside I’m completely different. I sat down to begin a diary, and out came a lot of scary thoughts. Things I forgot happened. So, I continued to write. The more I wrote, the more I saw a story that had to be told. When asked what genre I write, I had to sit and think about it, and then it hit me. I write psychological horror. I think it’s a popular genre often because many do not experience what they see in films or read about. It’s usually their greatest (unrealistic) fears coming to life. That tease, and thrill or adrenaline of being forced to the limit of fright and terror is like a drug for some.

Can you tell us about your book? What other projects are you working on?

Well, it’s titled Nadia. It’s a psychological thriller. Some have gotten a glimpse of it but I’ve kept the writing hidden for some time now. Nadia experiences something horrific as a child, losing both her parents right before her eyes. After finding her father dead, she loses her mind.  Twenty years later in an asylum, she wakes up frightened and not sure why she is there. A voice in her mind drives her to do horrible things to others. Between the horrific treatments she undergoes, and the demon within, taunting her constantly, she grows weaker and slowly deteriorates. On a desperate journey for a solution to stay alive, she understands more about herself and her demon, learning to cherish the evil with the good. In the end she realizes that the only way to live is to kill the only person to ever really care for her. I will leave it at that.

I do have other projects waiting for a beginning, another psychological thriller but through the eyes of the demon. I have a tragic love story that I’m always mapping out as well. Who knows! Could I possibly be a romance novelist?

You also like to promote other writers on your blog. Why is that so important to you?

It’s a great marketing technique. I see new writers that have much talent, but are either too shy or inexperienced to promote their own work, so, I thought what better way to help than to feature them on my page. In the end they get the attention and more people learn about them and their work at the same time. Not to mention when someone is featured, the readers tend to want to read others.  

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Not to edit while writing is difficult for me. Prior to joining the writing groups here on G+, I didn’t know anything about writing or editing. I just wrote from within and managed to write a chapter a night, at times. Now that I know what to look for and the ‘dos and don’ts’ of writing, I’m my own nightmare. I catch myself editing while writing, and it hinders my ability to hold a thought and just write without distractions. I’m still learning how to cope with it. I try to just sit and not think too hard but watch the film in my own head and write as it comes. Or have some wine. 😉  

Girl, wine is an underated miracle! Cheers! *clinks glasses* 

Who are your favourite writers and why?

As mentioned before, Jane Austin. Her writing style is unique and timeless. Again, writing styles. King is blunt and to the point. Screw what others may think of what he writes, he writes for himself and lets his unique twisted ideas out without hesitation. I hope one day my ‘unique’ mind will be that much appreciated and accepted.  

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the horror or suspense genre?

Oh dear. Um… don’t ever be too afraid to be you. Write from within and just let it go. Don’t listen to others as to what is ‘normal’ and what isn’t. Cherish the crazy ideas and know that no one out there is anything like you. If you are eager to learn more about how to write, read a lot, ask questions, as for constructive criticisms and take from it what you need to progress, and toss the rest to the side.

I must say, that writing Horror/Thriller/Suspense, takes a lot of guts. No pun intended. To admit that you think about murders, deaths, children kidnapped, emotional stressors that no one would willingly admit even to their shrink, takes guts. To be able to write it and put it out for the public to read and see your soul on paper, takes guts. The chance that you may be committed for it…. Awesome guts! Lol. 😉  

Covertly reaching for the phone, thumb hovering over 911…

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How can readers get into contact with you?

You are more than welcome to visit my site http://adriannajoleigh.com/

Email : Go to the author page on my site and click ‘contact’ at the very bottom.

Twitter@Adriannajoleigh

Facebook- Adrianna Joleigh  

STeel Magazine (travel section in STeeL Magazine) 🙂

Adrianna, it was great to have you with us today. I feel I got to see another side of you through this interview, and I hope our Readers also felt that way. Readers, please swing by her site and pages and get to know more of her work; it’s unique and well worth the time. 🙂

See you next week!