The Maritime Express

Let Me Remind You…
About The Maritime Express: The flagship train that united Eastern Canada.

Maritime Express Postcard taken by an unknown photographer for the ICR

It was only going to be a day’s travel, a far cry from the multiple days in a rickety box, trying to get comfortable in a small cabin with less than meager accommodations. The days it took always seemed longer than they were. Now, it would be like traveling in luxury; a personal cabin with sleeping quarters; a restaurant car adorned with varnished wood and polished silver. A menu to choose from and cocktails while you could look out your window, watching the land pass by. So much green whipping by so quickly it appeared the train was going backwards. When the dense tunnel of forest opened up, you would be surprised with a vast scape of rolling green hills and farm land, or even a mountainous range where the Appalachian trail poked it’s long limbs over the border into Canada.
Although the trains and speed may have changed over the years, the view from the windows going from Quebec to Nova Scotia has not changed much. You can still see what the passengers of one of the first Express trains would have seen as they travelled to see family, or vacation on the East coast.

The road to civilization and building a country is a long one. Or maybe it’s a short train track.
Before the Confederation in Canada, in 1867, Canada was 3 separate colonies. As the population started to grow,  and the government started to dig their claws into the land, a dirt road and carriages were starting to seem to be an outdated way to communicate and travel through the Eastern provinces. Especially during winter storms which could potentially bury the trails. Even train travel during snow storms would become difficult, and they ended up building stretches of snowsheds; long tunnels to protect the tracks from getting piled in multiple feet of snow.

It all started when the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia wrote to William Gladstone (Prime Minister of the UK at the time) with a request to survey a train route through the colonies. Once he got the go-ahead, he started scouting the best places to set the tracks. It took many years and a death of the head surveyor before they finally established a route and could start building in 1868. Leg-by-leg, stop-by-stop, the railway was completed.
Even though it was completed after Canada joined the 3 colonies and became a country, It was still called Intercolonial Railway or ICR.

By the 1890’s people were using the trains to go see family on the east coast, or the reverse: going to Quebec. Being smart business men and knowing what the competition had, In 1891, The Maritime Express was added as the flagship for the ICR, in competition with other “Express trains”. This passenger car would make the 1000+mi trip from Quebec to the far corner of the East coast in 28 hours (If you’ve read Anne of Green Gables, or some of L.M Montgomery’s other books, this is the train frequently taken.)

The ICR recognized the active tourism that naturally occurred with this connection and started marketing it as such; toting the beautiful areas of Nova Scotia. This drove people to start vacationing there even more. Eventually, the combination of travel during the holidays and tourism led them to add more times and railway lines in the early 1900’s.
But even though the Maritime Express could have you at your destination by 3:30pm the following day, it still made many stops and was a longer trip than other express trains the competition had. That’s when the ICR added the Ocean Limited, which could make the same trip in 3-4 less hours.

Pamphlet for “The people’s railway”

The ICR’s direct competitor, The Canadian pacific Railway (CPR) had a train that was making the trip from Quebec to Nova Scotia in even less time. They also had “running rights” from the federal government, organically forcing business to them.
This drove the ICR to try a rebranding tactic. They petitioned the federal government to extend their own tracks and improve existing rails and cars. By 1912 the Maritime was a huge success and even made it on to the $5 bill. The ICR was now dubbed “The People’s railway”. In 1917, the Halifax Explosion took out a large section of the tracks, but this would not stop the momentum the ICR had been building.

Maritime Express on the $5 bill.

Going into the wars, the ICR had an influx of traffic. Afterwards, not so much. They had to cut back a lot and the express trains were starting erode with wear-and-tear that no one wanted to deal with apparently. By the 1960’s the Maritime Express was running local routes and eventually by 1964, the Maritime Express was retired. I imagine with the popularity and availability of cars it just wasn’t needed as much.

To this day, you can still take a train across Canada, or even just short trips. You can even take the same route that was traveled in the late 1800’s. But if you want to go from West coast to East coast, you may have to adjust your schedule and train tickets as the west and east have their own railroad companies and aren’t a fan of each other.
Check out some of the routes HERE.

I would love to hear if you’ve travelled any of these railways. Information was harder to find than I thought, and was conflicting in a lot of places. I would love to hear more personal accounts and fun facts about this.


University of Calgary

As always, please check out my novel The Pecan Trees, a fictional novel set in Hill Country, Texas. Available on Amazon or my website:

Il Morbo Di K; Syndrome K

Let Me Remind You…

Il Morbo Di K…or…Syndrome K

It’s 1943, the fourth year of WWII. Italy was not immune to the horrifying acts that Hitler was carrying out on Jews, and Mussolini, the Prime Minister of Italy, was helping by kidnapping Jews and putting them in Ghettos. Over 10,000 people were sent away with only 1000 eventually returning to their home.

In a small hospital called Fatebenefratelli, on the Tiber, three Doctors were trying to figure out what to call a disease that could only be assigned to the Jewish people. These Jewish people were coming from the ghettos with a highly contagious disease and put in a room with others that were the same. Eventually, Dr. Ossicini went chose the name Il Morbo Di K, or, “Sydrome K”; sometimes reversed: K syndrome. Named after one of the Nazi commanders, either Keppler or Kesselring.
The symptoms of this disease included fits of coughing, convulsions, eventually leading to paralysis and asphyxiation and death.

Fatebenefratelli Hospital

The thing about the disease was that it’s not actually real. It was entirely made up by the head physician at the hospital and his two Doctors assisting him. They named the disease as an F-you to the Nazi commander; they were going to try and save as many Jewish lives as they could.

It all started when a nearby ghetto was raided by nazi’s and the doctors took in the Jews and hid them in the walls of the hospital. Knowing this couldn’t last, eventually they came up with a plan to hide them in plain sight. One of the people in hiding was Sacerdoti’s own 10 year old cousin.

Left to right: Ossicini, Sacerdoti, Borromeo

The head physician, Giovanni Borromeo, joined the hospital after being fired from a public hospital because of his religion. Fatebenefratelli was a 450 year old, private hospital and was not picky about one’s political stance and hired him with falsified papers. This allowed him to hire other anti-fascist doctors, Vittorio Emanuele Sacerdoti and together with Adriano Ossicini, they came up with their plan.
One room of the hospital would hold the “patients” behind doors. They were kept and treated the same, only not for illness.

Giovanni wasn’t dumb though, he knew the Nazis would come searching the hospital, they were already doing raids. And they would probably more than once because of how close they were located to the ghetto.

When this would happen, the doctors would lead them on the tour of the hospital, allowing them to check wherever they wanted—except the Syndrome K room. The patients were trained to cough wildly and moan and groan on cue. When they stopped the search outside the door, the doctors would remind the Nazi officers of the highly incurable and contagious disease and implore them to listen to the coughing fits before exclaiming how traumatic an inevitable death by paralysis and asphyxiation would be. They never entered the room. The staff and patients could breathe a breath of relief.

When the patients were brought in, they were put on patient papers under Syndrome K, indicating they weren’t sick at all, just Jewish. The patients were brought in many ways. One of the ways was through sneaky communication with the Partisans on the outside. The staff found a radio in the hospital that hadn’t been confiscated by the Nazi’s. They installed it and were able to use that to arrange for the Jews to be brought to them.
Eventually the Nazi’s caught on, but not before the Doctors did and were able to throw it in the Tiber river just outside their door.

The Doctors were able to save between 25-100 Jews during the war. Only 5 Polish-Jews were caught during a Nazi raid when they were hiding on one of the balconies, the rest were released in the liberation in 1945.

60 years later would be the first time anyone would find out about this ploy. Borromeo and Ossicini went on to do a few interviews in the early 2000’s. The hospital, Fatebenefratelli was given the recognition of “House of Life” by the Raoul Wallenberg foundation, who is an advocate for Holocaust survivors. The three doctors were also recognized by Yad Vashem, a Holocaust remembrance center. An honor given to men and women who risked their own lives to save Jews during the holocaust.


Half-Hangit Maggie

Let Me Remind You… Half Hangit Maggie

Trigger Warning: child loss, possible infanticide.

The salty dampness of her palms ironed wrinkles into her apron as she twisted and untwisted the linen in her hands. Maggie Dickenson awaited her sentence from the judge. She knew she would be charged, but with what, she wasn’t sure. She thought about the little baby she laid on the side of the riverbank. Her stomach still hurt from the birth just days ago. With no family in Edinburgh and her estranged husband, a fisherman, who didn’t know where she’d gone, she was alone. She couldn’t count on the baby’s father, her employer’s son, to be at the birth—or the trial.
She had tried to conceal her pregnancy as long as she could, which is what ultimately became her sentencing: concealment of pregnancy. In 1724, this was a real, punishable law. But what choice did she have? She would have been run out of town, or at the very least, definitely fired from her job and chastised. After all, she was still married, and the baby wasn’t her husband’s. She just needed some time to save some money and figure things out.

She tried to smooth the wrinkles out of her apron, but it was useless. And what would it matter? Soon she would be hanging from her neck in the Grass Market, in front of a crown of men and women, who wouldn’t even be looking at the wrinkles on her apron. Men and women, who thought she murdered her own baby by drowning it in the River Tweed. What they didn’t know was that she could never do such a thing.* She and her husband already had two children; she would have more, given the opportunity– and a husband that didn’t hit her.

When Maggie arrived in Kelso (a town near Edinburgh), she got a job as a fish and salt vender, but when that wasn’t enough to pay the bills, she took a job at a local inn. The proprietor’s son was younger than her, but relentless, and so charming. Eventually she gave in to him and they had a lustful affair for months before she became pregnant.

No one seemed to notice her pregnancy and up until the end she thought she had gotten away with it. Even up until the moment she gave birth by herself and laid the child, bundled up on the riverbank. She had tried to fling the baby into the river, but she couldn’t, she was too weak. Or maybe she was too weak mentally. No one was supposed to find the child, but they did. And here we are.

Maggie thought she was almost free when they had no proof that she killed the baby herself; It was born stillborn. But the damned physician said that the lungs aspirated water. Even then, the admission of pregnancy that no one else knew about, that was still punishable by death.

She was sweating, her whisps of hair sticking to her forehead. The pounding of blood in her ears prevented her from hearing the judge, but as if it went quiet for just the right length of time, she heard:

“…Death by hanging.”

Her head dropped and a tear fell from each eye. One for her and one for her child. The guards came to her, grabbing her by an arm each, and dragging her out of the courtroom. She tried to walk, but her legs wouldn’t cooperater. Her body tingled with numbness.

A crowd gathered around the gallows as Maggie was brought through the town square. She tried to tell people that she didn’t kill her baby, but it was no use. They didn’t believe her, and anyways, that’s not what she was being hung for. Her throat tightened with each step towards her death, choking her before the noose was even upon her neck. The roaring of foul words and shouting from the crowd deafened her thoughts.

Grass Market, Edinburgh. The spot where Maggie was hung.

The executioner placed the bag over her head and noose was tight but still rested on her shoulders. It was heavier than she imagined. The twine poked and bristled her skin. Soon it won’t matter. She told herself. Without warning, she heard a THWAP and fell until she was dangling from a knot behind her head. The hangman had forgotten to tie her hands behind her back and she reached up and squeezed a couple fingers between the rope and her flesh. The thumping of her artery pressed against her cold fingers. Then the blackness took over.

The physician came to pronounce her deceased. Once he did that, her body was placed into a coffin and hoisted onto a carriage. Her family had fought against the doctors who wanted her body for study, and they won. She would be brought home to her birthplace of Musselburgh, just a few miles outside of Edinburgh.
despite what would be a 25-minute drive today, the men that were taking her body were apparently in no rush and decided to stop for a pint at a watering-hole just outside of town, body-and-all.

Maggie was in a state of delirium. Like that feeling you get after you wake up from a nap. The pain on her neck reminded her of what just happened. Her eyes blinked open to nothing but black. She assumed with the pain in her neck, her throbbing headache and the confinement of the dark space was an indication that she was in Hell. But she could  hear voices outside of the space; men laughing and glasses being placed on the table, the clinking of coins at a nearby card game. That’s when she started banging on the sides of the wooden coffin. She tried to scream, but nothing but a high-pitched whisper was coming from her sore throat. She kicked and punched until she saw a crack of light coming through the lid; three sets of eyes peering in. The men removed the top of the coffin and Maggie propped herself up on to her elbows. Before she could speak, the men screamed and ran off.

Eventually she was taken before the Judge again. No one knew how to handle such a situation and Maggie herself didn’t know what to expect. To her relief, the judge declared that she had fulfilled her sentence: She was hung until pronounced dead and now she was free to continue her life.

Maggie did continue her life. At some point her husband returned to her and apparently turned a blind eye to the whole situation because they continued their marriage and had a few more children themselves, the first coming just 10 months after her hanging.

Within the years to come, the concealment of pregnancy law was laxed, but they did change the wording: “to be hanged until dead” to “Death by hanging” in order to make sure that any future death penalties would result in an actually dead person.

Over the years, Maggie became a bit of a sensation through Edinburgh; a celebrity, you could say. She made money off of just being the woman who survived a hanging, people would send her jewelry and other things so she and her husband lived a very comfortable life. Maggie ended up living another 40 years and even had a pub named after her in Edinburgh. Right in the Grass Market, where she was hung.


*It’s unknown for sure whether she killed the baby, or it was born stillborn. For the sake of the story, I picked one.

***This was written to be a dramatized version of the real story. While the facts are there, artistic license was taken.


Unearthed podcast

The Lost Colony Of Roanoke

Let Me Remind You… About the lost Colony of Roanoke.

It took two and a half months at sea, cramped in close quarters of a handful of ships, bearing the weather of the Atlantic, but in August of 1587, 115  settlers arrived from England and arrived on the shores of what we now call North Carolina. With the summer sun blaring down on them, they finally saw land with a lush, green tree-line and stable ground.
With Queen Elizabeth’s blessing, they had four main tasks: try to discover a passage to the Pacific through inland waterways, mine for gold and silver, Christianize the natives and annoy the crap out of the Spanish, not limited to the use of privateering. As the ship rolled in the waves, they looked at the wooded shoreline, summer sun beating down on them and decided to settle on the long, thin island that was once called Roanoke. It was also said to be a stopping point between the West Indies and England while the English privateers fought the Spaniards. I’m not sure how, since the colony of Roanoke barely had resources for themselves…

A few years earlier there had been two expeditions to North Carolina to scout the land for settlement; one that established a relationship with the natives that inhabited the area, and one that ruined the relationship through deceit and cold-blooded murder of the chief.
The colonists of 1587 had a lot cut out for them, since many didn’t know how to grow the crops needed for survival in this new land. They had brought provisions, but none that would last forever.
Over time, they were able to fortify enough of a relationship with the natives to supplement their resources, but they soon realized that they needed more provisions and more funding from their investors if they wanted to continue their mission.

The main leader of the settlement was a painter, cartographer and explorer, John White. White had tried to employ some other men to return to England to talk to the investors, but they denied and voted that White go himself. Even though White also had a wife, pregnant daughter, and son-in-law, he relented and took sail. Though not before his daughter gave birth to the first English person born in the new land. Named after the queen, Virginia Dare was baptized in the new settlement.

Before White left, he told the people, if they were to have to leave for any circumstances, to go fifty miles inland, off the island of Roanoke. If they were forced to leave because of distress, to leave a marking of the Maltese cross somewhere in view. Again, John White sailed off and another two and half months bouncing through the Atlantic brought him back to England, where Queen Elizabeth had declared war with the Spanish. It was a war that consumed every bit of her navy and she ordered that any functioning boat be used to help fight. This got John White stuck in England, unable to return to the Americas. I assume this also meant he wasn’t able to send word by letter to the colonies to let them know of his delay. What an uncertain time to be in a new world.

Finally, three years later, in 1590, White returned to the shores of North Carolina. They anchored offshore the night they arrived and celebrated their return by playing music and dancing aboard the ship, hoping the people would hear their celebrations. The next morning he deployed the row boats and they made their way to the island. When he stepped off the boat, he was met with only an eerie silence in the crackle of the trees, the crunch of his boots on the rocks and wind rustling leaves overhead. There was not one person left in the area; not even their bones.

White was obviously suspicious, but also curious because everything was still intact. The houses were built in a way to be easily dissembled and taken with them if they needed to move, but here they stood as if everyone just vanished into thin air. Along with that was a new, log fence that was built in the three-year time span he was gone, suggesting they had needed deterrent or fortification from some outside force.

John and his men took a look around for anything they could find and stumbled upon a tree with the words CRO carved in the trunk. There was no understanding of that until they found the word “Croatoan” on one of the fence posts… But no Maltese cross; no distress, just nothing.

South of Roanoke island was another island inhabited by natives who called themselves Croatoans (Now called Hatteras Island). John thought perhaps they went or were taken there. For some reason he didn’t go check himself, but months later sent an excursion instead. Some speculate it was because there was more funding in lost people versus dead ones and he didn’t want to lose the money to further his future endeavors.

No one from the lost colony has ever been found. Despite extensive searches and archaeological digs up until present day, not much has been found in the way of definitive evidence. There has been much speculation, including from the people of Jamestown, which was established in Virginia, 17 years later. They claimed to have seen “light skinned” children and people among the native tribes.

Some main theories to the vanishing of the colony:
-They were absorbed into a local native tribe. This also includes the possibility of the group being split in two and going with two different tribes.
-Some of the Spaniards that trolled the coast from Florida attacked them.
-They tried to sail back to England but their boat was lost at sea.
-They went inland as John White advised. But the problem is that he didn’t suggest a direction, so there’s at least a fifty-mile radius to explore.

In more recent (20th century) archaeological searches, a 16th Century ring was found on Hatteras island along with a few other things like a slate and pencil, an English-style sword and pottery shards called “border ware”: a very specific type of pottery also found at Jamestown.

There is, however, a very promising site, cleverly named “Site X” in Bertie County, North Carolina. This is the location of a fort that once stood there. Many artifacts have been found, but nothing that would specifically tie the Dare family to that location. There is one thing that connects the two though: A map that White drew himself. As a cartographer and artist, he made a map of the area and X-ray photos of it show a small marking that had been patched over on the spot of Site X. This could suggest that this had previously been a spot of consideration for settlement.

Another huge find happened in 1937, when Louis Hammond and his wife were road-tripping and he stopped to stretch his legs. He happened to stumble over a large rock with weathered words chiseled out of the stone. He threw the heavy rock in the trunk of his car, as you do, and three months later took it to Emory University where it was examined and miraculously read

Ananias Dare &
Virginia went
to Heaven, 1591

Any Englishman show [this rock to]
John White, Governor of Virginia[2]:

Father, soon after you
go for England, we came
here. Only misery and war [for]
two years. Above half dead these two
years, more from sickness, being twenty-four.
[A] Savage with [a] message of [a] ship came to us. [Within a] small
space of time, they [became] frightened of revenge [and] ran
all away. We believe it [was] not you. Soon after,
the savages said spirits [were] angry. Suddenly
[they] murdered all save seven. My child [and]
Ananias, too, [were] slain with much misery.
Buried all near four miles east [of] this river,
upon [a] small hill. Names [were] written all there
on [a] rock. Put this there also. [If a] Savage
shows this to you, we
promised you [would] give [them] great
plenty presents.
EWD. (Eleanor White Dare)

Because of another 47, allegedly fraudulent stones that were provided by another man in 1940 (for a reward, of course), It’s hard to say if this stone is real, but a more recent study from an Emory University professor states that it is more likely that this first stone is real.  The story of the Dare stones is an interesting one, which I would be happy to cover if you’re interested.

For now, all we know is that 115 men, women and children disappeared into thin air leaving us with nothing but curiosity and speculation and some great tales.

Online sources:

Encyclopedia Virginia
How Stuff Works
Mental Floss

Unsolved mysteries podcast

The Frank Slide

Let me remind you… About the Frank Slide               

“The mountain that moves.” That’s what the Blackfoot and Kutenai Indians In Alberta Canada called this peak nestled in the base of the Rocky mountains. This did not deter the people who Eventually settled in the little town below it that they called Frank. In fact, they renamed it “Turtle Mountain” after the shape. The original name of the mountain didn’t seem to create any worry for the 600 people who lived there, but in 1903, just 2 years after calling it home, this would prove to be tragic.

At 4am on April 29, 1903, the miners of Frank were already deep in the mountain side. Their wives and children still asleep in their beds below in the town. Ten minutes later, a small rumble turned into a roar as the mountain side– exasperated by the mining– had given way to years of the small movements and completely sheared off, just as the natives predicted.

120 miles away in the city of Cochrane, the roar could be heard echoing off of the mountains, but no one knew what it was. The settlers of Frank, the town named after the Montana miner who founded it in 1901, were not so lucky.
Boulders the size of cars rolled and bounced off one another, flowing as easily as water in a riverbed. Trees, rocks and 80-100 million tons of mountainside debris buried a section of the town in less than 90 seconds. When the mountainside finally stopped moving and there was no more rumbling, the residents were 490 feet below the rubble in a state you can only imagine.

Out of the 600 people that day, 90 people perished in the slide. Out of the 90, only 12 bodies were recovered. There are stories about a sole baby found alone. Her name was Glayds Ennis; saved by her mother, who cleared the mud from her airways. Frankie Slide was another name they gave to some other fictional babies who they claimed to be the “only survivor” of the slide, “found on top a boulder”. Unfortunately, this was just a rumor that many people who survived like to take credit for.

17 miners were trapped after the slide. After many hours they managed to dig their way out where they were confronted with a sight that would make their heart crumble and stomachs flip. Once, where they could look down on the houses where their families lived, now all they could see was rock all the way to the other side of the foothills.  They rushed down to help, searching for their families, now buried almost 500 feet below with the weight of thousands of tons on them. But it was too late. Without modern day tools—and even with them, the effort was regretfully useless.

Not much more is known about the event that day but if you ask any Albertan, they will be able to tell you about it. Driving through the Frank slide gives off a very eerie feeling knowing what lies beneath. Looking up at the mountain side, you can still see the scar where the rock fell.

 In 1906, they built a road through the rubble, and in 1922, during some road repairs, 7 more bodies were recovered, bringing the total to 19 out of 90.
It was known to be the largest landslide in Canada to this day. The mountain? It still moves; about 1cm per year. There is a monitoring system along with an interpretive center on the mountain. They say one day there will be another slide. Luckily, there are no homes in the way now. Buildings were moved, including the Frank Imperial hotel, which now sits in Vulcan, Alberta.

If you go to frank today, you could drive right through, barely noticing anything but a bunch of rock and boulders on either side of the road, but the tale is one that will linger forever.

*Edit: from what I hear, that whole area, for miles, is allegedly haunted.

Online Sources:
Mysteries of Canada
the Canadian encyclopedia




It’s Dark. It’s cold, but it doesn’t bother me too much. There are muffled voices outside and one of them is Henry, my son. I can tell I’m in a box or something, but where am I? I can’t feel anything but it feels like I’m taking up the entirety of what I’m in.

The last thing I remember: I was getting ready to go on my fishing trip with Henry. We were in the Tackle store. My memory is foggy. Why I can’t remember clearly? I see myself now, lying on the floor. It took the clerk a second before she started screaming. I remember now. My heart, it hurt so bad. It was beating erratically and my left arm was pulsing with pain. I see her now, from above, screaming for a paramedic but all I could think about was Julia, my wife. I can’t leave her now. I stopped squirming on the floor after a few minutes. Its foggy again.

Now I see Henry and Julia, how pretty she looks in black. Her long red hair is on fire in contrast. “Not your typical Jew.” My mother would always say about her. They’re sitting at a table next to each other. The window behind them almost creates a halo around their bodies. But why do they look so sad? Both their eyes are red and swollen from crying and Henry is comforting her from across the table. I want to hug her, but when I try I can’t form the motion.

“Don’t worry mom, we’ve already got the fishing boat rented we’ll take it out as planned and if we just cremate him, we can spread his ashes out at sea. It’s what he would have wanted.” Julia nodded and sniffed.

Who are they talking about? Surely not me, I’m Jewish; I can’t be cremated.


I feel myself being pulled from the box, like a breeze through a house with two open doors and I’m spinning above the fishing boat, like a popped balloon. I cant quite gather my balance, so I spread eagle and I start to slow down. I try to look at my limbs, but all I see is a vapor outline, like a smoke. When I look back down, I can see everyone: Henry, Julia and my two best friends, Jim and Rob: the whole fishing crew.

I can’t stop myself from falling slowly, like a feather. I wave my arms like a bird, but I’m spinning and twirling.

As I float past the top deck, it’s as if everyone is watching me sink towards the water. I see Henry dump the rest of the grey powder above me. My ashes.

As I look up, I can’t see anything but a blurry boat with blurry people and a blurry sun. When I look below me, I am amazed. The depth of the sea is vast, but more over, There is a crowd of faces looking at me, coming from thousands of bodies. One of the bodies floats towards me. He’s a man, I think. He’s naked, but has no reproductive parts, so it’s hard to tell. His long blond hair doesn’t help either. For some reason his hair doesn’t move in the water like a normal human’s, it just stays in it’s styled form: sleeked back, only slightly moving like it caught a breeze. He is about my height when he reaches me.

“Welcome friend. I know you are scared. My name is Kai, and you will soon meet the rest of us. You have entered our realm, which we call Sehi. All of us,  have either been poured here–like you– or been claimed by Sehi. Some of us have been here the equivalent of hundreds of human years; or a few months in Sehi time. But some of us are new too.” He put his hand on my shoulder and I could feel no weight or warmth, but I just knew it was there, And I would have known, even if my eyes were closed. I’m not afraid, which might be naïve of me, but something told me he was friendly. “Come. We will show you around, then we will pick you a new name.” The others smiled and turned dove towards the bottom of the ocean, or the bottom of Sehi, as they call it.



“So, tell me again, Wafian: how long have you been here?” I was curious, looking at the old man with white curly hair. He looked like the epitome of Poseidon or Neptune and rumor around Sehi was that he was the captain of Titanic, but he wont ever admit it.

“Piscea, I have told you many times: I have been here a hundred human years. Sehi claimed the bodies of myself and others when our ship sank.”

‘Piscea’, that was my new Sehi name. I was named after fish– plural. “But, which boat was it?” we sat on the edge of a reef looking into the deep blue, where the bottom of Sehi seemed unfathomable and some of the hunters were chasing hammerheads for dinner.

“Just one of many.” He paused and watched Seas drive his fish’s sword through the eye of the hammerhead. “One of many.” He repeated. Wafian, named after the waves, watched the others hunting as he stripped the seaweed off the small Sehi bugs. I didn’t push the subject anymore; I had my answer.

“What about you, piscea?” Wafian looked at me, his eyes were more glazed over than normal, his allergies from the seaweed must be acting up. “What brought you here?”

“I was poured, like some of the others.”

“But what caused you to be turned into ashes?”

“I had, what humans call a heart attack. I died, was cremated & dumped here.”

“You don’t sound too excited about it.” Wafian stopped what he was doing.

“Well, I still carry some of my spiritual ways with me.” He looked at me waiting for a response. “I was Jewish when I had a body, we’re not supposed to be cremated. And definitely not dumped in the sea.”

“Yes, but if I’m correct, you would be buried in a plain wooden box, with no added adornments. And then, once you are buried, you become part of Dritan. There is nothing good about that. There is no life for you there. Do you know what Dritan stands for in English?”


“’Dirt’ Piscea. Literally Dirt. And instead of playing with seaweed, watching the beautiful waves and playing with the fish, you would be pushing rock and melting the earth with your fire, creating havoc on land. Is that what you want?”

“No. Not when you put it like that. But what about my family who will be buried, or worse: cremated without being poured here?”

“if they are buried, they will become part of Dritan. If they are cremated but not poured, then they will stay in the state of unawareness, like you before they poured you: going over and over how they got there, with no answer to where they actually are.


A conch horn blew from afar and the hunters looked straight up. “There’s a new resident of Sehi coming through the surface now. Kai will meet them.”

It had been 10 human days and I hadn’t even thought of any new residents. Before I knew it, a lot of the current residents had gathered near my side. I was now part of the crowd of faces.

When I looked up, it was dark, but I could still make out a beautiful green dress, floating in the current. The green belt around the tiny waist had a gold buckle that gleamed in the moon-light. The front of the dress criss-crossed but was disheveled and revealed one of the woman’s breasts. I quickly looked away until I noticed the long red hair swimming in and out of the moon’s sphere.

When I looked back up, the hair swept away from her face. Julia.


Something in me twitched and before I knew it, I was racing towards the surface to push her to the air. Wafian grabbed my leg and yanked me far enough down to hear him speak. “It’s too late, she’s already gone. All you see now is her Sehi body.” I looked back up at her as Kai was making his way to greet her. She caught my eye and tried to look past Kai, but he blocked her. His interaction with her was the same as I had had with him. He must have done this hundreds of times already.


I didn’t hear anything Kai was saying to her, but I could tell he calmed her. Her thoughts were still occupied by something else though. Me perhaps? He directed her to the right, away from me. Where could be he taking her? He looked at me and he knew she was mine.

“He has to get her adapted before she can see you. Otherwise she’ll panic.” Wafian’s words did not stop the anxiousness I had to go after her.

“What is she doing here, though?” I was so confused. Why had she passed?

“She was still dressed, which means she took her own life by the water.”

“I have to see her. “

“You will my friend. Don’t worry. “


Three days later, I was still perched on the edge of the reef where I was when she came to Sehi. I hadn’t left since Kai took her. As a group of hammerheads were circling below, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Kai, “I have something for you but do not react quickly—you will frighten her; she is still confused.” I nodded and Kai stepped to the side revealing Julia. She was no longer dressed in her green ensemble, but still looked as beautiful as ever with nothing on.

I rose to my feet and turned towards her. Kai backed away cautiously. She stayed in one spot, looking uncertain. It felt like an hour before I was finally in front of her. She reached out her hands. “How…” she asked. “How are we together?”

“You poured me here.” She didn’t respond. “You took your life.” And suddenly it dawned on me: She took her own life. “Why?”

“I couldn’t live without you. It was unbearable.” She looked as if the thought of it was a stake through her heart. “Your mother told me about how the Jewish don’t get cremated. I didn’t know” She shook her head, “I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”

I slowly wrapped my arms around her and she snuggled into the spot in my chest that was practically made for her by god. That was one thing that still hadn’t changed from my human life.

“It’s OK, there is nothing more complete than having you here, right now, forever in eternity.”

We laid down among the seaweed for 2 days and watched the fish making lazy circles above us.

*photo: Tracy Kahn

Short Story: Sick.

This is probably one of my more favored short stories I’ve written. I’m not sure why. Ha!
*These Short stories are a few that I have written on my own, or as a part of a private group. I’ve decided to share them now in an attempt to free them from my computer.



I don’t know why my Mama named me Chastity but it may have explained the dirty looks I got from the people at church. I asked Mama one of the nights she took me to the Pub & Grill with her friends.
Jamal, her boyfriend, took a drink of his beer & said, “It’s something your mom should have kept.” Everyone laughed but I didn’t get it; Mama looked uncomfortable and Jamal got quiet. I saw him trying to catch Mama’s gaze like a fisherman using his big brown eyes as a lure. She started to look at him but caught onto the implication and dropped her eyes back to the table. I didn’t ask any more questions after that.


I loved my Mama. She would have been a great mother if she lived past twenty five, but she died twelve years ago when I was four. Gran called it “The Sickness”, but Mama told me it was cancer in her brain. By the time they found it they said she wouldn’t make it much longer. I was the first one to find out and I still remember when she told me.

“It’s a secret,” she said. “You can’t tell anyone.”


We lived with Gran and Pop, Jamal’s parents and none of them had health insurance. Mama didn’t want to burden them with the cost of trying to shrink the cancer, which is what the Doctor said is all they could do without performing surgery and they couldn’t operate without turning Mama in to a vegetable.
Mama couldn’t ask her parents either because they stopped talking to her when they found out about Jamal, him being a black man and all. Then they found out Mama was pregnant with me and that’s when they fully disowned her. Mama says they were very Conservative and Southern… whatever that means. It’s 2016, I thought we were more progressive than that. Pop says nothing’s changed; that it’s the same as when he was a boy: the discrimination and all, just a different mask.


When your mom tells you she has cancer, that’s not really a memory you forget. Even at four years old. The day she told me she waited until everyone went to church and said she was sick so she could stay home with me. I guess she wasn’t lying. I could tell she was trying not to cry. She looked at me so fiercely and cuddled me into her lap on the bed we shared in Jamal’s old room. She kept kissing me all over and told me that in a couple months she would have to leave me for a long, long time. Forever. She said that Gran and Pop would take care of me and everything would be okay. We laid together for a long time. She braided pieces of my hair & unbraided them after they made small kinks. “Just like a crimper.” She said. She touched every eyebrow hair and held up each one of my fingers to examine the wrinkles and nails on my fingers. She said she wanted to remember every detail of me to take with her. I did the same to her and that seemed to make her happy.


A month later Mama fell on the sidewalk & couldn’t walk straight when she got up. Gran & Pop took her to the Doctor and that’s how everyone else found out. A month after that, we were at the cemetery throwing a handful of dirt on her coffin. Gran said that was a Jewish tradition & Mama was Jewish.

Mama’s parents were at the cemetery– at least I think it was them. They looked just like Mama and both of them were crying a river. After I threw the dirt, they wouldn’t stop staring at me, They looked very confused but I figured it was because their daughter just died.


Gran and Pop kept me like mama said they would. I think Gran felt bad Mama had to die. Pop doesn’t seem to care too much. He calls me “That girl’s babe” or if he’s mad: “The extra mouth to feed”.

Pop gets mad easily. He’s always watching the news in his sticky old recliner that he refuses to throw out. There’s some business guy who is going to be president of the United States and that really gets him fired up. “Damn him,” he says. “He aint nothin’ like that Obama: The FIRST black president. My great granddaddy would have jumped for joy to see a black man use a public restroom, let alone be a president. Damn.” Pop’s mood would go from anger to gratification at the thought.


Since I grew up with Gran and Pop I don’t see race like some of the people at school. See, Mama was as white as a brand new bed sheet. After her parents found out about Jamal, they kicked her out. Gran and Pop took her in with them and let her stay even after Jamal moved out.


When mama died, I found her journal behind our dresser. She wrote one day that she overheard Gran and Pop talking:

“Even in 2001 we’re still dealing with this shit.” Pop said. “They care so much about race they would kick out their own daughter.”

“We live in the South, Honey.” Gran said.

When I was born, that created a tornado of trouble. Grandma and Grandpa disowned Mama and Jamal didn’t want Mama anymore neither.


It all happened this one night, after mom’s shift at Walmart when she was walking home. Gran and Pop don’t live in a bad neighborhood, but they don’t live in a neighborhood like Mama’s parents either. A man grabbed Mama just a few blocks from home and put me in her belly. When Jamal found out, he didn’t know if I was his or not. When I came out red haired and white as chalk, he knew. Everyone knew. Jamal tried his best not to care. Gran and Pop did too.


Jamal left when I was 6. Now he lives just down the street with his new girlfriend Teren. He doesn’t seem very happy though; he’s always hanging out at home, complaining about T-Rex– that’s what he calls her.

But now I’m sixteen. Pop says I have two more years and he’s putting me out, so I better do good in school. I get all A’s, so I’m not worried. I want to go to Boston College then Pop won’t have to worry about me. Gran tells me not to worry about a thing but Pop is getting sick like Mama. I don’t think its cancer because he just coughs a lot and grabs his stomach. He doesn’t want to get out of his chair. That’s the opposite of Mama, she always wanted to walk and didn’t cough at all. I try to help Gran when she’s taking care of Pop, but she just shoos me away.

“It’s just bronchitis,” Gran says, “and a bit of laziness.” She whispers and winks.
Today my friend, Keiran came over. We’ve known each other since we were practically babies and he’s always looking for a partner in crime. We went down to the river. I don’t usually go to the river because of the water moccasins but today Keiran said we would be fine; He had an eye for them. I was skeptical.

He stripped down to his boxers and got in to the river first. I tried not to notice his back when he took his T-shirt off; His muscles have grown a lot since the kid I used to play trucks with. But, I also haven’t seen another back other than Pop’s and his is wrinkly and covered in hairy moles. Keiran’s was smooth and dark like a Caramilk chocolate bar. It was like something inside of me snapped like pop-rocks in my soul and manifested in my stomach. These new feelings suddenly made me hesitant to get in to the river. Regardless, I got down to my tank top and underwear and slid down the muddy bank into the chilly water. I dipped my toes in first and giggled at the chill. Then Keiran grabbed my wrist, pulling me in waist deep. I thought my feelings were inclusive but boy, was I wrong. He still had my wrist and pulled me against him, his warm stomach pressing in to mine and he kissed me.

I’ve never been kissed before. His lips were like little pillows pressing against mine; his breath smelled of spearmint gum and my lips and tongue moved like a dance they have done in a past life. But, as if someone knew, my phone rang. I pulled back. I didn’t want it to end but only Gran calls me. Since we only left a half hour ago it had to be important. I clawed my way up the clay bank, grabbing roots of trees and rocks to help me. I wiped my wet hands off on my bunch of pants and answered,


Gran sounded upset, “Baby girl, can you come home? It’s Pop.”

“Of course, I’m on my way.” I hung up and started grabbing my clothes. I would get dressed in the truck. I looked at Keiran and he was already getting out of the water.

“It’s Pop.” I said.

“Lets go.” he grabbed his keys and didn’t bother to put his shirt on.


We got back to the house and Gran was wearing her Supermarket outfit, Kneeling by Pop. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work, Gran?”

“Yes baby, but Pop… ” She started, “I called the ambulance.”

Pop was lying on the floor clutching his stomach and moaning.

“You have to go Gran! Steve said he would fire you if you called in sick one more time. I’ll take care of Pop, just go.”

“I’ll give you a ride, Mrs. B.” Keiran said.


After Mama’s death, Gran decided to get a job with health insurance. She

hesitantly grabbed her purse and her lunch out of the fridge and leaned down to Pop, “I’ll come as soon as possible if anything is serious.

“It’s OK, I’ll be fine.” Pop moaned.

Right after Keiran and Gran left, an ambulance pulled up. He didn’t stop moaning the whole time. The EMT came inside and helped get Him in to the truck while I grabbed my sweater, Pop’s book, reading glasses and his throw blanket.

We got to the hospital and within a couple hours and Pop was diagnosed with Pancreatitis. They said he only had a minor case of it and since he doesn’t drink too much, they think it was brought on with a combination of Grans southern cooking, sweet cakes, sweet tea and topped off with any beer he is drinking.

I stayed with him all day. I figured he’d be lonely. He kept telling me to ‘go do what 16 year old girls do.’ I just ignored him and got him more ice chips to suck on since he couldn’t eat or drink anything. The pain medication he was on made it feel like he was ‘sucking on a piece of chalk’, he said.

I went down to the gift shop and got a book for me to read while Pop was either sleeping or ignoring me. I also picked up some cards for us to play Rumi when he wasn’t. Pop was hesitant at first, but after a few hours, he gave in. I let him win a few times just to keep up his spirits.


Jamal came by with T-rex for a few minutes, but after some whining out of her they left. Pop was happy for it too. I don’t know if it was the truth or the meds, but he told me that Teren was not the girl for anyone and most days he missed my Mama. My stomach tightened and my face got warm at that, but I haven’t cried since the day after she died. I didn’t then either.

At the end of the day, Keiran brought Gran up to see Pop. She grabbed his hand tight and hugged him as much as she could with all the wires. He patted her on the back and gave her shoulder a squeeze real hard. Their eyes locked in on each other, like a puzzle piece clicking into its match. It was like they were talkin’ through their souls. I felt Keiran’s hand make its way to my shoulder, heavy and warm, like a scarf.

“Thank you, Chastity, for sticking with me and helping to pass the day. It would have been awful boring without you. You take good care of your Gran and me.” He didn’t smile, but he looked at me with honest eyes and that’s all I needed to know that things would be different between us. “Doc says I should be outta here in a couple days. Lord knows this is going to cost us a fortune.”

“That’s why we have health insurance now, Honey. Don’t you worry.” Gran said.

“We’ll figure it out Mr. B.” Keiran said, squeezing me to him.

Gran and Pop looked at us for a second, probably wondering why we were in squished together. I looked at him wondering just how we would figure it out but Keiran had a plan and I would be there with him for whatever it was.

Short Story: Mixed Messages

black chiu

I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror today while I was doing the rounds. For a split second I thought Gremlins were real and I was so frightened I just about went to hide under the bed. Instead I pounced on Teddy, who was in plain sight, staring back at me through the mirror. I won that battle like a champ so I’ll probably get in trouble. Poor teddy’s gonna need an eye patch and a sutured arm. I think I swallowed the plastic eye too. I laughed a little with my tongue hanging out, until I caught myself again in the mirror.

It’s bad enough that my nitwit friend James had to go and turn me into a dog, but you’d think I’d at least look cuter than I did in human form. Not the case. I still have the wiry black, unmanageable hair typical of a witch. My hooked nose translated into my dog form too. Don’t ask me how that happened, but I just have a big shnoz for my little tea-cup frame. In human terms I’d be a very long-haired Chihuahua crossed with something. Fits me I suppose; probably should be a mutt. I don’t think James got to choose what kind of dog he turned me in to.

Last thing I remember, I was telling him what a shitty witch he was and he said something before he called me ‘a little bitch’. Now I’m here, next door to my own house. I don’t think James knows were I am; I saw him wandering around calling my human name earlier in the week. My aunt will be furious with him when she comes over tomorrow.

I really wasn’t expecting Graham and Sasha to take me in, it was just so cold I scratched at their door and when they finally let me in. I was the best dog they’ve probably ever seen. Lassie? Lassie who? They asked me to roll over, I rolled over; “sit”, I sat. So, they didn’t kick me out. But now it’s been over a week and I’m getting a little annoyed at my situation, so I have conveniently forgotten my tricks and Sasha has become very irritated how I prefer Graham’s lap. I did in human form too, but we wont get in to that.

I walked over to the cute little pink bowl Sasha had bought for me. Goddamn, not again: they forgot to fill it with water before they left. I would kill for a glass– or bowl of wine right now. I stared down at the bone at the bottom of the dish willing it to fill with some kind of thirst-quenching liquid. Unfortunately not having opposable thumbs doesn’t allow me to do witch craft. Man I am parched. I heard a whine escape from my shnoz and I stuck out my tongue to lick my lips. It practically got stuck on it’s way back in, it was so dry. A noise caught my attention: it was the plumbing creaking. These old houses, you never knew what was going to make a noise next. This time it was the guest bath. I walked over where the white porcelain vessel was gleaming in the sunlight. WATER! There is water in there!

No! I told myself. That’s like drinking salt water when you’re lost at sea. I just cant. ‘Yes you can,’ I heard a little voice say, ‘You’ve licked your butt, surely this water is cleaner.’ I flopped to the ground. Ok, but how would I get up there? I stood up, unbalanced on my back legs and reached for the toilet seat. My paws barely made it, but at least the lid was open. The cat walked by, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ I murmured in my head. He didn’t answer—because he’s a real cat. He just wandered over to his spot on the arm of the couch.
I was back to the task at hand: water: in there. ‘Jump’ I heard the little voice say. I weighed my options: no water for god knows how long—could be hours! Not an option. Option 2: possibly getting soaked in this heavenly white vessel of liquid nutrition and drinking until I could not drink anymore.

I leaped and in the toilet I landed. NO! Get me out, out, out! Graham forgot to flush the damn toilet again. I slipped and slided until I finally got purchase on the toilet seat and pulled myself out. I landed on the floor and started hacking up whatever may have gotten in my mouth. I was licking everything I could: the doorframe, the tile and the bathmat. All things I realize probably have more bacteria on them than me, but it’s better than having pee in my mouth and shit particles stuck in god knows where.

I needed to get dry immediately. I looked at the couch, where the cat has been watching my little coupe de grace. I ran over to the sofa and jumped straight into the cushions in the corner. I was in the process of wedging myself dry when I heard the cat meowing. I came out of my burrow and joined him on the ledge of the sofa. Sasha and Graham were home. Finally! Go figure the timing. I ran up to the door, trying to open it for them, but I couldn’t reach. I was yelling “hurry, come in, fast. I need water…and you may want new sofa cushions”, but all that came out was a stream of high-pitched barks. Sasha came in first and I bounced at her leg.

“Yappy little thing she is. We’ll have to work on that if she wants to stick around.”

Fuck you bitch. I went to Graham and he reciprocated with some pats on the head. He looked at his hands and rubbed his fingertips together. He looked at my empty water bowl and smelled his fingertips.   That’s right, I bathed in your shit you dirty mother fu–.

            “Um, Graham?”

“Yeah?” Graham replied from the guest bath where he was washing his hands in the sink. I continued to try to get his attention: I could fit in that sink. You could be washing me too.

Sasha came out of the bedroom and was holding up teddy. “Look what that little—What the hell happened to the couch?” I stopped jumping and ran towards the sofa. Since I couldn’t see, I jumped up. They both came towards me together. They looked pissed. Fuck. I tucked my ears back and that’s when I noticed the skid-marks leading right into the little burrow I had built with the cushions.

“SON OF A BITCH.” Sasha dropped teddy, leaving him helpless on the ground. I jumped down to rescue him & grabbed his good arm to drag him with me, but she raised her hand to swat my butt. I was too quick, which just made her angrier. She came after me, but Graham got in between and opened the back door so I could run outside, dropping teddy in the process. I sat looking in through the back door trying to give my most apologetically filled eyes. I was explaining the situation to them through the door. But again, just barking. How infuriating.

I could see Sasha cleaning the couch, tears streaming down her face. Graham was trying to console her, but he also had to watch for her flying backhands. Really, she could give Anna Kournikova a run for her money. Graham was shushing me but I could tell he was giving me sorry eyes as well. I wouldn’t stop trying to plead my case though, so Graham came over to the door. I thought he was going to let me in so I tried to sneak through his legs; I needed to save Teddy. But he just yelled: “STOP” and shut the door quickly. He caught my nail and I yipped. I tried not to make a big deal about it; it just scared me. I know Graham wouldn’t hurt me. I went out into the grass and licked my paw. The nail had splintered a bit so I chewed the excess off. I was good at that—even as a human.

I heard some commotion next door at my house, so I looked up. James was outside. I purposely barked enough that Sasha wouldn’t freak out, but enough that James would hear. It worked. He came towards the fence and I ran over.

“Patricia?” He asked. I barked back. “Patricia if that’s you scratch the fence 3 times.”

I scratched twice and then Graham lifted me with paper towels wrapped around my body. “Oh hey James. I see you met our new dog Trix.”

“Oh yeah, she’s a cute little thing—you know in that way that they’re so ugly, they’re cute?” James laughed. My ears perked up and started to burn a little at the tips. Who you calling ugly? You look like a gothic Justin Bieber with that damn haircut. And obviously still cant do magic worth a damn. James cleared his throat. He heard me. There was no way he couldn’t with the direction of projection I had on that thought. “Where’d you get her? I don’t think I’ve seen one like that before.”

“Oh, she came right up to our door. Wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, so we let her in. Gave her a bath. We thought that might sort out her hair situation, but nothing seems to help. Kinda looks like Patricia actually.” Graham laughed, but I could have given myself away at how quickly I looked up at him. I licked his face trying to give him a facial. Normally he wouldn’t mind, but I think given my most recent bathing circumstances, he wasn’t fond. “Where is Patricia by the way? I haven’t seen her in a week or so. I’ve been wanting to show her little Trix here.”

“Oh, um, she’s staying with her aunt right now, but she’ll be back soon.” James said.

“I thought her aunt lives just a couple blocks around the corner?”

“Yeah, she does, but she’s not, uh, feeling that well so Pat’s been staying over there. Cheaper than a nurse you know.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure. All right James, have a good night. Little Trix here got herself into some shit. I’m afraid a bath is in order.”

“ Sounds like her.” James laughed.

Graham turned to walk back to the house. “What do you think that means?” Graham whispered into my ear. I whipped my head around so I could get my tongue in the familiar place between his lips. Payback.

“What did that weirdo want?” Sasha called from the master bath where she was running some water. “Where’s the other girl weirdo?” I looked up at Graham, pleading for him to say something to her.

“Be nice Sash. Pat and James are different and who knows what goes on in that house, but at least Patricia is nice. You should give her a chance.”

“Not likely. “ She replied reaching out for me. I pushed against her as hard as I could but I wanted to be washed so badly. Just not in the bath: it scared me. I jumped furiously at the edge of the tub. The result was splashing water all over Sasha’s shirt and she definitely wasn’t enthused about that, so I kept doing it.

“Get me a towel would you Graham.”

He handed her a towel and she washed me in lightning speed. I don’t even know if she used soap, but I was sure hoping she’d put some of that conditioner on me again. It smelled like pineapples. She did and I was thankful. I tried to reciprocate by licking the water off her arms. She snuggled me into her chest, wrapped in the towel. I licked under her chin (there was a crumb). It was nice. Despite everything I felt a wave of love blanket us. She let me shake the excess water off and then rubbed me down with the towel. It was fun, I started bouncing around and digging at the towel. They both laughed and left me to get ready for bed.

I laid on their bath mat while they brushed their teeth and washed their faces. When they called me, it was time to hop in to bed. I was too small so Sasha had to lift me. I curled into the familiar nook between Graham’s legs and fell asleep.

The next morning Graham opened the back door to let me out. James was outside watching through the slats of the fence. When he heard the door shut, he got up and unlatched the back gate. Graham and Sasha’s back gate was conspicuously open also. I wandered over to see what was going on and sauntered in to my yard James clicked the gate shut behind me. There was Aunt June sitting there waiting for me. She had her business face on and I could tell she was not happy with James one bit. Her wiry grey hair was almost pulsing with fury.

Aunt June held out my bathrobe and recited a few words directed at me. I felt my bones twitching and pulling. It felt like a deep morning stretch, not just in the muscles but in the bones too. Finally I was almost human again but she wasn’t done: she was still setting a spell. When I hit my full form, Aunt June tossed me my robe. I caught it and swiftly put it on. I looked over at James but he wasn’t there. Closer to the ground, he was a small little puppy, just like I was. The only difference was the nose: it wasn’t quite as big. Aunt June had a huge smile on her face now. She quickly ran over to James, and just in time, picked him up and tossed him over the fence into the fresh garden at Graham and Sasha’s.

“Bad Dog!” Sasha yelled out the door “get out of the garden!.

“Oh hey Patricia. Hi June,” Graham waved. Glad to see you’re back and well. Did you see our new puppy?


*Please forgive the paragraphing. Copying & pasting this jumbled it up.

*These Short stories are a few that I have written on my own, or as a part of a private group. I’ve decided to share them now in an attempt to free them from my computer.

Short Story: The Lady Marina

This short story is one I submitted about 8 years ago to a podcast that was doing a contest during halloween. It didn’t even make it to the top 16, & I’m not sure they even read it. At the very least I hope you enjoy it. I apologize for the grammar and punctuation. I just copied a pasted from the original.

*These Short stories are a few that I have written on my own, or as a part of a private group. I’ve decided to share them now in an attempt to free them from my computer.

The Lady Marina

Captain Charlie Mason could see the Ship’s overwhelming masts and rigging from the street. As he walked towards that general direction a crowd of people were swarming the dock like ants to sugar.

He had been anticipating this day since he was commissioned by the new owner of the Lady Marina two years ago to oversee the restoration before it set sail—or motor rather, since a propeller had since been installed.

This had been his dream since he was sixteen. He worked a lot of positions on a lot of boats and as much as he enjoyed being outside on deck, gaining the satisfaction of a freshly varnished cap-rail, or an acid-washed deck: bringing the proper color of teak back, his real passion was to be at the helm; in charge, just like his father, his father’s father and his great grandfather.

Now, at thirty-two years old, he would finally take the helm of this tall ship along with a skeleton crew including only his wife: Anita, engineer: Jack and green deckhand: Junior. Charlie would have liked to have had at least two more people to do the delivery with him, however many of the experienced, local shipmen had old hearts and were very superstitious: it was not just the hauntings that stopped them, but with Anita—a woman—on board, they did not want to take the job.

He looked at his watch: four thirty five. Three hours and they would be at least three miles off shore with nothing to see but the curve of the Earth and the moon taking it’s watch above their heads; the same view as one hundred years ago when the Lady Marina was first alive. Three more days and the new owner would finally have his baby at his private dock in Florida.


Charlie got to the dock-ramp and waited for Anita and the provisions. He looked towards a small stage set in front of the ship, where a stout man with a dark beard, dressed in a period seaman’s costume pitched the over-told story of the Lady Marina and it’s assumed hauntings. Charlie wasn’t a believer in the ghosts, which is why he was the only one out of 6, highly qualified captains to accept this job.

“Hey you.” Anita snuck up behind Charlie, her long dark hair blowing in her face. She tried to push it away with her shoulder, but her hands were full of grocery bags and the wind kept pushing it back.

It took two years of convincing to get Anita to do this delivery and three years since the accident on the last boat: that incident pushed her to become land-based for good. But she trusted Charlie’s skills and had a secret desire to cruise on this ship in which so many women—especially Spanish women—were not allowed on when it was used for pepper and spice trading in the Caribbean long ago.

Charlie spun around, “hey. Here, let me help you.” He grabbed all of the bags out of her left hand and the full dock-cart out of her right.

“Thanks.” She faced the wind to force her hair off her face and smiled fiercely with her brown eyes into his green Irish eyes. “Well, shall we? The dockhands will be here in fifteen minutes to help us untie. Jack and Junior are already on board getting her fired up and trying to hide from the crowd no doubt.”

“OK,” Charlie could tell Anita was nervous to be boarding another boat. “Don’t worry. I would never let you fall overboard again.” Charlie stood up straight and puffed his chest out, “In fact, as your Captain, I order you to stay away from the railing. Period. and anytime you go past the mid-ship, you must don your life vest. If you go towards the bow, you must have your sea-survival gear on.”

This made her laugh and relax a little, picturing herself waddling around in the full red life-suit. Still, she would never forget what the ice-cold water of the north Atlantic felt like when she was swept over the port-side rail on a deep roll. One minute she was walking along the rail doing rounds for her watch and the next minute, the ice-cold water was forcing her to pull more air in to her already full lungs; the panic sinking in as the yacht motored on and Charlie’s face became more alarmed as it shrunk smaller. But, she owed her life to Charlie for being so quick to throw the life-ring and alert the other crew. She knew she could trust him with her life now just as much as then.


As they neared the boat with the cart, Charlie was thankful he had on his epaulettes. The enormous crowd parted to let him pass, whispering: “The Captain” amongst themselves.

No matter how many times he saw the Lady Marina, every time his breath was taken from him. The size was overwhelming and the wood hull was still in perfect condition; nothing had to be restored; only painted or technologies added. The masts were original and seemed to reach the clouds, every piece of metal sparkled in the sun. It was as if she was made by the gods and taken care of by the universe.


Charlie and Anita walked up the gangplank with full arms of provisions. Jack and Junior were already on deck and made their way towards them. The Storyteller finished his last ghost tale and shouted: “It’s time folks. Stay near ye to see the magnificent Lady Marina leave Boston at last and set away into the sun on her voyage towards Florida.“

Jack grabbed Anita’s handful of grocery bags with one hand and hoisted her effortlessly onto the deck with his other hand. She was thankful of Jack’s strength, but something about the way he looked at her and the scar, like a U, crossing from his left temple, across his eyelid and back up his forehead, made her feel uneasy around him. His long, dark, slicked-back hair and days-old stench did not help either.

Junior nodded to Charlie and grabbed all of his bags to put them in the galley while the Captain prepared to leave. Even though Junior was young and new, he was keen and that’s why Charlie hired him.



An hour after pulling away from the dock, Charlie called everyone up on deck. Very quickly he became aware of how small they were in comparison to the 170-ft Lady Marina.

“I am going to do the first watch tonight starting at seven pm, you guys get some sleep whenever you can. Because there’s only four of us, we’re going to have to do eight hours on, eight off. Anita will be with me and you two will be together. I can’t risk having only one person on at a time. Jack, I’m sorry, you’re going to have to be on call during your eight off too; I don’t know enough about the engines if something goes wrong.

Anita will cook and clean, but try and help keep this place tidy. Just like any private yacht: everywhere but the mess, galley, day-head and your bunk is off limits. For no reason should you have to go anywhere else. God forbid the boss finds a fingerprint out of place. You guys know what a stuck-up, rich guy he is.” Jack snorted through his nose and rolled his eyes, which settled on Anita. She instinctively moved closer to Charlie. “Here,” Charlie passed out a radio to each crewmember and tucked one in his foul-weather jacket. “Keep these on and with you at all times. I don’t care if you’re in the ‘head; it’s on and strapped somewhere on your persons.”

“Just hang out, play cards, do what they would have done a hundred years ago with no TV or electronics. Anita, you’ll have dinner ready by about six?” She nodded.


Anita plated Charlie’s food to take up to him. Through the corner of her eye, she saw a shadow pass by the galley door and heard a small scream in the distance, it sounded like a small girl. I can hear the others talking way over in the mess, she thought, puzzled. She waited a minute to see if she could hear anything else, then climbed the steep stairs outside the galley, up to the helm to see if Charlie was playing a trick. As she reached the opening on to the deck, something wrapped around her ankle. She squawked. Jack laughed and winked at her with his bad eye, “gotcha”.

Anita didn’t say anything and continued to the helm. “Sorry ma’am”, Jack said, “just thought I ‘eard you scream: came to check on ya.”

Charlie was sitting in the chair with the binoculars. “What do you suppose that is? He pointed straight ahead “It looks like fog, but it’s been in the same position the whole time and it’s not on the radar”

“Maybe we’re just following it at the same speed and it’s not thick enough to be picked up?” It was getting close to November and the light was fading early and quick.

“Maybe.” Charlie said, unsure. He took the plate of pasta from Anita. “Thanks.” She sat next to him and curled into his jacket.

“What are the stories of the ship?”

“Don’t worry about that nonsense, “ Charlie replied with a mouthful of pasta, the red sauce filling the corners of his mouth.

“Humor me.”

Charlie swallowed and looked at her curiously. “You heard the guy on the stage: the boat was found adrift in 1902: 3 years after the captain’s last log entry. It was in perfect condition, but all 23 crew gone with no sign of struggle; defying the elements, currents and winds, headed south to what may have been the end of the Earth. It was supposed to be on its way to Boston.” He paused, “Then there’s the women: they don’t talk about that. ”

“I thought there weren’t any.”

“Not any that worked on board. The crew collected women from the islands they visited; promised them a better life in America. Often the men would get tired of feeding the extra mouths, or the women would get sick and someone would be voted to toss them overboard in the middle of the night. They suspect some would be tortured first though; there was a collection of teeth found in one of the bunks. They were from at least three different women.” Anita took a deep breath. “I didn’t want to tell you that.”

“It’s Ok, I wasn’t tossed overboard: I fell. Did no one stop them?”

“No, they would never want to stand up to the captain for fear of being humiliated, lashed, or worse: having the same done to them as the women.” He continued, “By the time they were near Florida, there were no more women on board. By the time the boat was found, near Cape Hatteras, there was no one on board. Except the ghosts.” Anita rested her head on Charlie’s shoulder. “After that, they brought it to Boston and it’s been there ever since. No one wanted to sail it, so it had been used as a tourist attraction–”

“Until now,” Anita finished “I know that the National History Preservation Group couldn’t afford to pay the docking fees and employees anymore, but I wonder why the owner bought it.”

Charlie shrugged and resumed eating his pasta.



As the sun went down and the moon came up, they finally approached the fog. It was so thick; entering it was like pushing the 300-ton vessel through cotton candy. Weird, Thought Charlie, this should have definitely shown up on the radar. He told Anita to keep an eye out and ran below deck to make sure everything was turned on. The radar was now showing a large yellow smudge above them. Satisfied, he started back up the stairs.

“Captain?” Charlie turned around to see whom the raspy voice was coming from. Jack was walking out of the guest accommodations in his boxer shorts.

“Don’ be angry: I hear’ someone. A lady. I saw ‘er too. She was headed towards the master cabin so I followed ‘er.”

“Go back to bed Jack.” Charlie assumed Jack was sleepwalking. “I’ll go check it out and we’ll worry about it in the morning.” Without any confrontation, Jack walked back towards his cabin. Charlie headed backup to the helm, ignoring Jacks vision.


It was now past midnight and the moon was the only source of light struggling it’s way through the fog. The sea was getting increasingly worse. The ship was pitching and rolling. Every other wave caused the bow to shoot towards the sky and slide down the back of the wave, burying it’s bow the next. The tip of the wave would break over the bow and crawl towards the mid-ship before slinking out the scuppers on the next roll. They had been in it for hours now and Charlie was sure it would break soon but Every time he checked the radar, the yellow smudge was still above them and not dissipating.

Anita wished she had taken a nap earlier; her eyelids started fluttering as she watched Charlie pace back and forth. The rocking and groaning of the ship didn’t help her seasickness or her strength to stay awake. It was as if the Lady Marina was rocking her to sleep. Charlie spun around as both of them heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He looked at his watch, “It’s too early for Jack and Junior’s watch.” Anita sat up a little straighter and looked towards the stairs. The footsteps seized. They exchanged glances before Charlie headed towards the opening in the deck. Anita watched the top of Charlie’s head disappear.


Below deck Junior was awoken in his bunk by the sound of his cabin door shutting. He rubbed his shaved head and then his eyes. He squinted his eyes and tried to focus, a figure was stood by the door. “Anita? What time is it? Did I miss my watch?” The girl stepped forward revealing her Caribbean dress and head-wrap. She was holding a long nail. Oh no, one of the actors got stuck on board in Boston. Charlie’s going to kill me for not doing a proper walk-through. Junior thought. “I’m sorr—“ he blinked and the girl was now sitting on his chest. He tried to scream out but nothing came. She squeezed her legs against his torso and pressed on his chest with her hands. He could feel her nails digging in. He tried to move: to push this small Caribbean woman off his chest. He was paralyzed. The girl leaned in towards his face and revealed oozing sores and deep gashes on her face. Tears of blood were rolling down her cheeks, filling the fleshy gashes and dripping into her mouth. One tear rolled off her cheek and hit the side of Junior’s face. He tried to scream, but she squeezed him tighter. He could feel himself passing out. She stopped crying and looked at the long nail in her hand. She dug it in to his chest and scratched it along his flesh in a horseshoe-shape. She smiled wide revealing blood-soaked teeth, which started to fall out, one by one, rolling off his face into his pillow. He faded to black just as he heard her whisper “at last”.



Charlie went below deck and looked in the crew’s mess and in the Galley: No one. He headed back to check the radar one more time. He could see Jack sitting in the engine room watching the radars and fuel levels.

“Everything OK?” Charlie asked.

“Oh, yeah. Jus’ couldn’t sleep. I think them tales of the ghosts and women are gettin’ to me. I saw one in my cabin this time. Lucky I had my flashlight to scare ‘er away.” Jack was clenching his radio with shaking hands, his knuckled trying to break through the skin.

Charlie was disturbed by the way this large man was trembling. “Oh, I see. Well—“

A woman’s voice came through the radio: “Jaaaaaaackie,” then whispered “Oh, Jackie boy, where are you?”

Jack stared at the radio in his hand. As Charlie reached for his, the radios started squealing a high-pitched wail. They both covered their ears. Suddenly the engines stopped, leaving no sound other than the creaking of the boat and the water slapping against the hull. The lights flickered over to the emergency lights.

“What the?” Jack fumbled with some knobs and switches. He grabbed the flashlight and got up to check the engines.

Charlie looked at the blank radar screen. “Jack, I’m gonna go back up.” He shone the flashlight to where jack was. Jack waved back as his head was buried in the parts.


Charlie headed up the steps. He couldn’t see Anita. I hope she hasn’t fallen asleep. He checked the captain’s bench and there was no sign of her. He headed back to the steps to check below but dry footprints amongst the water-soaked deck caught his eye. He followed them. They went around the helm, heading down towards the mid-ship and over to the portside. He finally saw who they belonged to: Anita. Her hair was blowing in her face, twirling in the air like a black waterspout. It took a minute to register what she was doing. “NO,” he yelled and ran towards the port-rail. Anita was throwing her right leg over the side. “ANITA!” He grabbed hold of her waist just as her left leg lifted from the deck.

“They’re calling me Charlie.” She said calmly.

Charlie looked towards the churning ocean below them; just below the surface were hundreds of faces of women peering back at him. Their dark eyes, like obsidian marbles were a contrast in comparison to their pale, bloodless skin. Blood was creating a pool of red around them from the gashes all over their body. Their long brown and blond hair was floating like sea kelp on the surface, tangling together; others had short, cropped black hair, which made it easier to make out their sad faces. They all looked at him angrily, stirring the water as they started to swim in circles. Anita struggled against Charlie’s torso “they’re going to save me Charlie,” her Spanish accent was stronger than he’d ever heard it. He pulled her back over the railing and fell on to the deck. As the boat rolled from port to starboard, so did Anita. Charlie glanced over the side again: the women smiled at him and sunk below the surface, swimming under the ship to the Starboard side. Charlie grabbed the now disoriented Anita and pulled her towards the helm and stairs leading below deck.

“JACK…JUNIOR. ALL HANDS!” He screamed. He grabbed the radio from his jacket, engaged the talk button and yelled: “ALL HANDS”. He could hear the click of a cabin door and saw Junior wide eyed and with blood on his face stumble towards the stairs. “What the…?” Charlie looked him over and noticed ten puncture wounds and a U shape scratch in his chest. “What happened to you?” He shouted, still holding Anita. The ship was now groaning with every pitch and roll, growing longer and deeper.

“I had a dream, man, I couldn’t breathe, there was a woman,” He met Charlies eyes. Charlie could barely hear him through the wind whipping around them, but he could see Junior’s eyes were blood-shot with broken blood vessels sprinkling his eyelids.

“Good god. Please, take her, take Anita below.” He shuffled Anita feet first down the opening. As Junior reached for her the boat pitched and the wave dropped them just before the next one broke over the bow.

Junior fell back and Anita landed on him. “What’s wrong with her?”

“No time; put her in the crew’s mess and find Jack.”

“I’m here.” Jack shouted. He came up the steps to the deck. As he struggled to stand, he was overcome with shock; “Oh, my…”

Charlie spun around and noticed the fog had parted but was fighting to get at them, as if they were in a bubble. Charlie noticed Jack was not shocked by the fog, but by the enormous ship heading straight for them. From the books Charlie read, he knew it was a warship from the 1800’s. He ran to the helm and grabbed the radio, without any time to check the radar or knowing the name of the vessel, he yelled: “Three masted warship, approximately two hundred feet long, please alter course to starboard; we are directly in front of you, we will do the same. Charlie swung the helm to the right but the Lady Marina didn’t turn. And neither did the warship. They were only .2 miles away from the bow now. Charlie could even make out the Captain at the helm, he seemed to be staring straight at them with one eye in the telescope and the other behind a patch. There was a Boatswain standing directly to his side, in the same position Charlie was in.

“Brace for impact.” Charlie shouted. He and Jack dropped to fetal position. After a few seconds, the impact didn’t come. He got up and took a minute to look around. He noticed the large, square sails pushing his boat by the way of the wind, There is no wind, Charlie thought. As he looked past the stern of his ship, the stern of Lady Marina was motoring away from them. He looked towards the bow again and counted fifteen men mewing around on board. I’m on the warship. As he stood up, he noticed Jack getting off his knees too. He ran to the farthest point aft and peered over, where he saw lights coming through the stained glass of the master’s cabin. He also noticed that the water was smooth as glass with no wake coming off the stern.


“Jack? What’s going on?” He looked over to see Jack brushing himself off, a boy ran up to him to help dust him off: “Are you alright sir?”

“Fine boy, carry on with your duties.”

Charlie now noticed he was wearing a dark uniform with epaulettes and gold ribbing. When Jack looked over at him, his bad eye was covered in a patch with the U-shaped scar neatly stitched up.

“Charlie? Are you there? Charlie?” It took a moment for Charlie to realize the voice was coming from his jacket. Anita. He reached for the zipper of his jacket when he felt the round engraved buttons weaved through eyes made of gold rope. As he looked down, he was startled to see he was in full-blue uniform; the same as Jack. He looked back up at the Stern of the Lady Marina getting farther away, now barely making out the silhouettes of Anita and Junior. He worked the radio out from underneath his jacket. “Anita, I’m coming for you. I love you!”

A hand grabbed his shoulder, sending an electric pulse through his body. He felt powerless as the hand alone had enough force to cripple him before he would know it.

“Well, Charlie boy,” Jack said “as my new boatswain, it’s time to give the orders, Great-great grandson.” Jack turned him back towards the waiting crew.

Charlie didn’t know what he was going to say until the words came out of his mouth “Turn the ship around men, it’s time to sink the Lady Marina once and for all.”