Tag Archives: Short Story

Short Story Challenge

by Marion J. Smith


The short story challenge: Some years ago the collective gave themselves the challenge of completing a short story on a postcard. This is a great way of getting straight to the point. I find this a good exercise for cutting and editing unwanted words. Sometimes one word can be found to replace two or three others just by rewriting the sentence.

July 1908.
Dear Mama,

You will be so proud of us. Yesterday morning nearly a thousand ladies assembled on the Southwark bank of the Thames. As Big Ben struck nine we marched. It was an amazing sight to see the suffragettes in their white dresses with green and purple sashes, marching across Westminster Bridge toward the houses of Parliament.

Mama dear, I wish you could have been there to see how our movement of “Votes for Women” has grown in the past ten years.

I was honoured, not only to be a banner barer but, to walk right along-side Mrs. Pankhurst herself. That brave lady suggested I be one of the team of suffragettes to chain our selves to the railings of the Parliament buildings.

This I gladly performed along with ten other ladies fighting for our great cause.
Quite a stir ensued when we were arrested. The police used cutting tools to free us from of our chains. We were herded into a Black Maria and brought here, to Holloway goal where we spent last night.

We are presently awaiting trial for trespassing and public nuisance. There are other suffragettes here who have been in the jail for some time. They are on hunger strike. The awful thing about that is they are forced fed through rubber tubes. I’m praying I will be free before I get to that stage.

A policeman and jailor are now here to take me to the courtroom. Wish me luck and don’t worry we will take care for each other and ourselves.

—c. 2012 Marion J. Smith.

Marion has been a member of the Cambridge Writers Collective for almost 18 years. She enjoys writing short stories and poetry. Marion has published “After Sunset” a selection of her poetry. Other work has been published in various anthologies. Marion is also a lifelong thespian and watercolour artist.

Princess Margaret

by Lee Anne Johnston

Photo by Simon Howden; freedigitalphotos.net

I walked slowly beside my Dad along the 14th floor corridor to the vast windows overlooking the Creating Memory garden. I caught my breath in delight at the life-sized steel sculptures running, jumping, dancing. Their bodies were stiff in joyous motion. Flowers embraced them, blooming promiscuously in a riot of pinks, purples and crimsons.

“This is wonderful Dad!”

My gravely ill father who had scared the shit out of me all my life, stumbled on his stick thin legs. I held him tenderly, afraid to bruise his translucent, papery skin.

“This place is full of cancer. Take me back to my bed, Lee Anne.”

Lee Anne Johnston is a devoted member of the CWC and writes historical murder stories as well as varied flash fiction.

Complicated Coffee…I Just Want A Medium Black

by Barb Day

photo by Marcie Schwindt

It was morning, and I needed my caffeine. The long and winding line of rumbling metal snaked from the drive-through window across the parking lot. Why do people wait in this never-ending lineup for coffee when they could simply make a pot at home for a fraction of the cost? I counted fifteen cars in front of me. Better than yesterday, when there were eighteen. This was a dangerous place to be. What if a car broke down? Once in that line up, there’s no getting out. You’re blocked in by cars and concrete curbs. I wouldn’t want to be the one to have the breakdown, when behind me were a bunch of grouchy people who haven’t had their morning coffee and are now wedged in with no escape and no caffeine. I patted the dashboard of my old Chevy. Keep running, baby. We’re almost there. My thoughts were interrupted, as a crackling voice took my order. “That will be $1.52 for a medium black. Drive forward,” the crackling instructed.

A mechanical window opened, and a hand reached out of the window. I gave the hand a five dollar bill. The hand grabbed the money, and the window closed. No personal touch, no smiling face, this was an assembly line. The window came up, and the coffee came out, but no change came out of the window.

“And my change?” I inquired.

Suddenly, the personal touch appeared. A face to be feared poked out of the window.

“I gave you your change” the miserable face snapped.

“No, I didn’t get my change!”

What a racket, rumpus, commotion, hullaboo, uproar, fuss, upheaval, ado, bother, kerfuffle…just for a coffee! I was steaming, more so than the paper cup in my hand, as I sped away.

The next day I decided I had had enough of the drive-through. I decided to try one of those upscale coffee shops. I will strut around with my paper cup in my hand. A status symbol! I’ll be a somebody!

As I waited in a line-up to the door, I glanced at the intimidating board with all its extravagant selections. I fumbled through my pockets. I was definitely going to need more than $1.52 this morning. Wow, this place wasn’t cheap! I was confused. I am not a coffee connoisseur. I have limited knowledge. The selections on the board became more daunting the longer I stared at them. I was getting close to the front of the line, but still didn’t have a clue what to ask for. I could hear a lady ordering.

“I’ll have a Café Mocha, hold the syrup, add white chocolate, triple shot of expresso, non-fat steamed milk, lightly sprinkled with cocoa powder to go.”
It suddenly felt very warm in the coffee shop. I started to sweat. Don’t worry, I told myself. She’s a regular.

Next up was a man. “I’ll have a Chocolate Chip Frappacino, extra chocolate, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.”

Would you like a coffee with that, I wondered, as I desperately searched for additional change.

The customer ahead of me was ordering now. “Half café, grande, soy, double shot on ice, and make it quick I’m in a hurry.

I was next in line. I panicked! Should I memorize something impressive or embarrass myself by ordering a medium black? “Do you have herbal tea?“ I mumbled.

The young man at the counter appeared as if he had just stepped out of the pages of GQ and into his uniform with adorable matching cap. He was very dramatic as he rattled off the selections. “Cranberry, Black Cherry, Echinaccea, Eucalyptus, European Blueberry, Cinnamon, Mandarin, Ginger, Ginsing, Jasmine, Peppermint, Pomegranate, Peach Passion or how about a Wildberry Zinger!”
I bolted from the establishment. In my car, I sped to Walmart to buy a coffeemaker. I will join the ranks of Martha Stewart, June Cleaver and Susie Homemaker. I will make my own damn coffee! I am woman. Hear me roar! But there will be no roaring until I’ve had my caffeine, of course. Medium black!

Barb Day, current CWC President, lives in Paris, Ontario with her husband and daughter. A Writing for Publication graduate of Mohawk College, Barb’s short stories frequently appear in local publications like “Daytripping”. Come out and see her on the third Friday of every month as she hosts an open mic poetry night at Coffee Culture in Brantford.