Free Fiction Thursday – My Father, the Popsicle

Happy last Thursday of the year, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with lots of friends and family and good times.  This week’s story is about a young girl who believes she has no family, right up until she receives a letter that changes everything.

My Father, The Popsicle

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover art Copyright Thierry Maffeis at Dreamstime.com

Jodi thought she was an orphan until one sweltering Thursday night in late June when she received The Letter from Billingsly, Wendham & Owens, Attorneys at Law.

That’s how she always thought of it after that.  The Letter.  Wasn’t that how you were supposed to think about things that changed your life?  Capitalized and important?

At first she thought the whole thing was a joke.  She’d just worked a double shift at Hot Dog on a Stick in the new mall south of town.  She was dead tired and sick of the smell of lemons, corn dog batter, and hot grease.  Her head hurt from pulling up her hair under that stupid striped hat, her shoulders ached from all the fresh lemonade she had to mix, and to top it all off, the air conditioning had been out on the bus ride home.  To say the bus had been fragrant was the understatement of the century.  She was in no mood for jokes.  Her roommate Harry had a pretty twisted sense of humor.  A fake letter from an attorney was just his style, but tonight the joke wasn’t funny.

“I ought to rip him a new one,” Jodi muttered as she opened her front door.  “Hear that, Harry?” she said to her empty apartment.  “I ought to rip you a new one.”

Not that Harry would be home yet.  Harry worked as a bartender at the only gay club in town.  Tonight he was on swing shift.  Whether he could hear her or not, after a day spent swallowing the snappy comebacks she wanted to make to clueless customers whose IQ wasn’t much higher than the hotdogs they ate, muttering about Harry’s lack of humor sure as hell made her feel better.

Still, the envelope did look kind of authentic.

Jodi dropped her keys and the rest of the mail on the coffee table.  It was all junk mail flyers and offers for credit cards neither one of them could afford, so it didn’t much matter where she left it.  She plopped down on the couch she’d rescued from a second-hand store, slipped off her sensible, style-free shoes so she could stretch her toes into the carpet, and ripped open the envelope.

She skimmed through the introductory stuff.  Dear Ms. blah-blah-blah I represent more blah-blah-blah bankrupt estate.  The word assets caught Jodi’s eye, but the word that brought her up short was father.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – My Father, the Popsicle

I’m doing a little time travel this week.  I’m actually typing this Wednesday night before I go to bed, but by the time most of you read this post, it will be Thursday morning.  Or I hope it will be.  Like most time travel experiments, last minute glitches always seem to be part of the equation.

Anyway, I’m doing this post the night before because this week at the Day Jobbe, as Jay Lake calls it, has been a rough one, and I expect Thursday will be more of the same.  Deadlines on a major project mean extra hours writing stuff that’s not nearly as fun as fiction, although my storytelling skills are getting a workout.  Turns out the ability to tell a good story is a valuable asset for more than just writing fiction.

A looming deadline was the reason I wrote this week’s Free Fiction Thursday story.  A few years ago I was invited to submit a story on spec to a themed anthology that had a last minute opening.  I had two days to write the story and submit it. I did a little research on the general subject of cryonics, and in doing that research, discovered a fact that became the device that drove the story. (I love it when stuff like that happens.)  I wrote about a page and a half that first day, let it percolate the next morning, then wrote the rest of the entire story that afternoon after I got off work.  I submitted the story that night right before that week’s episode of Lost aired.  Hey, I was a big Lost fan in those days.  Go, Hurley!

Anyway, two days later, I got an acceptance for the story.  My Father, the Popsicle appeared in the anthology THE FUTURE WE WISH WE HAD edited by Rebecca Lickiss.

Was that the fastest acceptance I’ve gotten?  Not quite, but close. *g*

Okay, enough babbling.  On with the story.  Remember, to read the entire story, follow the link at the bottom of this sample.

My Father, The Popsicle

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover art Copyright Thierry Maffeis at Dreamstime.com

 

Jodi thought she was an orphan until one sweltering Thursday night in late June when she received The Letter from Billingsly, Wendham & Owens, Attorneys at Law.

That’s how she always thought of it after that.  The Letter.  Wasn’t that how you were supposed to think about things that changed your life?  Capitalized and important?

At first she thought the whole thing was a joke.  She’d just worked a double shift at Hot Dog on a Stick in the new mall south of town.  She was dead tired and sick of the smell of lemons, corn dog batter, and hot grease.  Her head hurt from pulling up her hair under that stupid striped hat, her shoulders ached from all the fresh lemonade she had to mix, and to top it all off, the air conditioning had been out on the bus ride home.  To say the bus had been fragrant was the understatement of the century.  She was in no mood for jokes.  Her roommate Harry had a pretty twisted sense of humor.  A fake letter from an attorney was just his style, but tonight the joke wasn’t funny.

“I ought to rip him a new one,” Jodi muttered as she opened her front door.  “Hear that, Harry?” she said to her empty apartment.  “I ought to rip you a new one.”

Not that Harry would be home yet.  Harry worked as a bartender at the only gay club in town.  Tonight he was on swing shift.  Whether he could hear her or not, after a day spent swallowing the snappy comebacks she wanted to make to clueless customers whose IQ wasn’t much higher than the hotdogs they ate, muttering about Harry’s lack of humor sure as hell made her feel better.

Still, the envelope did look kind of authentic.

Jodi dropped her keys and the rest of the mail on the coffee table.  It was all junk mail flyers and offers for credit cards neither one of them could afford, so it didn’t much matter where she left it.  She plopped down on the couch she’d rescued from a second-hand store, slipped off her sensible, style-free shoes so she could stretch her toes into the carpet, and ripped open the envelope.

She skimmed through the introductory stuff.  Dear Ms. blah-blah-blah I represent more blah-blah-blah bankrupt estate.  The word assets caught Jodi’s eye, but the word that brought her up short was father.

What?

If this was Harry’s idea of a joke, it definitely wasn’t funny.  He knew she had no sense of humor when it came to her family, or lack thereof.

She ended up reading The Letter three times in a row, each time with an ever-increasing shakiness in the pit of her stomach, not to mention a growing sense of unreality.

The Letter wasn’t the easiest thing to understand.  Jodi had managed to finish high school — barely — but there’d been no money left for college after her mother died.  She made enough to pay rent and keep herself fed, but higher education was out of the question.  The guy who wrote The Letter sounded like he had degrees up the wahzoo and wrote to impress. Way out of Harry’s league.  But Jodi did understand enough of the letter to realize that she’d been wrong.  She wasn’t an orphan after all.

She did have a father.

# # #

Link to the rest of the story.

Free Fiction Thursday – Night Passage

Happy Thursday, everyone!  I hope you’ve all had a good week so far.  To celebrate this Thursday, the next closest thing to Friday, I bring you free fiction!

This week’s free story features a mother and her rebellious, angry daughter, and the things they learn about each other on a perilous nighttime road trip through the Nevada desert.

NIGHT PASSAGE

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

The road stretched in front of Joleen, a dark ribbon in the darker night. Something glittered on the asphalt ahead of her, but she couldn’t tell if her car’s headlights reflected off pieces of quartz or broken glass. Either one was a possibility. Even this far out in the desert broken beer bottles littered the sides of the road, twentieth century man’s way of marking his territory.

Casey sat in the passenger seat pretending total interest in the ghostly shapes flying by her window. Joleen could tell her daughter still was angry by the tense set of her shoulders and the way she kept her face turned away from her mother.

Joleen steered around the mess on the road as best she could on the narrow, two-lane highway. She hoped it wasn’t glass. The tires on her car were old and worn, and she was afraid glass would go right through them. The bright lights of Las Vegas had faded to a dim glow on the horizon far behind her and Goldfield was at least 40 miles to the north. She didn’t want to have to stop out here in the middle of nowhere to fix a flat, especially not at night. Except for gas, she didn’t want to stop at all until she got to Reno.

“Are you hungry?” Joleen asked just for something to say.

Casey didn’t respond. No one could do the silent treatment better than an angry thirteen-year-old girl.

“Because if you are, we’ve got snacks and sodas in the back seat,” Joleen said, trying again.

A sigh. Not much, but it was a chink in the armor, something Joleen could work with. It would be a long, long drive if Casey decided to stay angry the whole way.

Maybe a little music would help.

“Why don’t you find something to listen to?” Joleen fumbled for the tape case without taking her eyes off the road. “We’re can’t pick up a station out here, and if you’re not going to talk to me, then I need something to keep me company.”

This time she got the rolled-eyes, oh Mom look, but her daughter took the tapes and rummaged through them.

“I know you didn’t want to move,” Joleen said.

“Look, Mom, I don’t want to talk about it,” Casey said, slamming the tape case shut. “Like my opinion would mean anything anyway,” she added under her breath. Thirteen-year-olds always added something under their breath, that first sign of future rebellion.

Joleen took a deep breath. “So what do you want to talk about?”

Casey popped the tape in and turned back toward the window. “Nothing,” she said. “I don’t want to talk about anything, okay?”

So much for that plan.

Rock music blared from the speakers. Obviously one of Casey’s tapes. Joleen didn’t know the name of the band, but at least it might keep her awake. If she didn’t go deaf first.

Thirty seconds later, Joleen reached for the volume control. She actually liked most rock music but that last guitar riff made her fillings vibrate. She glanced down at the tape deck to make sure she found the right knob.

“Mom, look out!”

* * *

Read the rest of the story here.