Category Archives: Rainy Day Stories

Miss Lydia and the Magnolia County Bake-Off Debacle

Miss Lydia watched the woman running down her sidewalk from her kitchen window. If Miss Lydia remembered correctly Clarice was quite the track star in her days at Sinippi Cove High. In fact, Miss Lydia was certain the other woman had run all the way from the library where the fleet-of-foot Ms. Travers worked part-time. A frantic tapping increased in strength until it reached the level of a pounding knock before the octogenarian ambled to the back door. Miss Lydia could have arrived faster, but she liked to frustrate her younger neighbor.

As soon as she started to open her kitchen door, Clarice appeared body part by body part sliding in with the skill of a spelunker through the crevice in a cave. Her friend had a serious case of head-sweating as evidenced by her wet locks and the sodden collar of her dress. Miss Lydia handed her a dish towel which the librarian accepted with a nod mopping with unprecedented enthusiasm at her damp face and neck. It took her guest a few moments to slow her panting enough to speak.

“You will never guess what I just heard at the library,” Clarice crowed throwing the dish towel down on the counter for emphasis.

“No, I don’t suppose I will guess the news. Since I’m in my 80’s and my days are numbered why don’t you tell me, Clarice,” Miss Lydia stated with a wry tone. Unfortunately, her sarcasm was lost on her young friend.

“Well…” Clarice provided a long pause to build suspense (too bad it only built irritation), “You wouldn’t believe who walked into the library this morning.” Feeling another pause in the ready, Miss Lydia made a repetitive circular movement with her hand to get her friend to hurry up.

“Spit it out, Clarice,” Miss Lydia said, her words staccato and harsher than her usual clipped manner of speech.

“Enid Floss,” Clarice whispered the words. The whites of her eyes were clearly visible around her irises.

Miss Lydia opened her mouth slightly with shock for a fraction of a second before snapping it shut hard enough for her dentures to clack together. Miss Lydia never wanted to appear shocked in front of others.

“What did she want?” the older miss hissed like a snake as she uttered the pronoun representing her arch nemesis — the Jezebel of Sinippi Cove.

Trembling like a leaf in a hurricane, Clarice divulged the ultimate betrayal, “Enid Floss is entering the Magnolia County Bake-Off. And if that isn’t enough, she is planning on baking Snickerdoodles.”

Miss Lydia’s signature cookie. She gently tapped her closed lips with the index finger of her right hand as she ruminated on this debacle. Enid was her best friend until they reached the age of seventeen. Miss Lydia had met a nice, young man and had fallen in love. His name was Roy Floss. The rest of the story would have to wait. Let’s just say — although 69 years had passed — Miss Lydia never forgave Enid. Pushing Clarice out the door didn’t prove too difficult, she knew when it was time to leave Miss Lydia be.

It took all of three days and dozens upon dozens of batches of Snickerdoodles before Miss Lydia was satisfied she had the winning entry for the Magnolia County Bake-Off. The day of the big event Miss Lydia dressed in her best church clothes, submitted her entry, and walked past Enid Floss with a triumphant smile. Later, as Miss Lydia accepted the Blue Ribbon for her Caramel Chai Snickerdoodle cookies, she felt like a champion. (On a side note — Enid didn’t even receive an honorable mention for her Snickerdoodles.)


Girl Talk

I suppose entitling this blog “Girl Talk” is a bit of a misnomer because I think guys like getting together without their feminine cohorts and hashing things over with the rest of the testosterone set as much as the ladies do. I lived (as the only female) in a male-dominated household for over twenty years, and at times, I craved hanging out with the gals over margaritas — or any alcohol-based beverage, really — laughing and chatting about topics I’m sure the men in my life would do anything possible to avoid.

Today my sister and I went out for lunch over pomegranate margaritas and chimichangas, we giggled, groused and reminisced as only two women who’ve known each other for 54 years can do.  So what if we talked nonsense about manicures, wrinkles, and old boyfriends, we also caught up on each other’s families, our dreams and our concerns about our mom.

In honor of my bit of girl time, I decided to publish my short story “Girl Talk”.  Hope you enjoy it!


Girl Talk  ~~~ by Kate McGinn

The outdoor cafe was a favorite spot for the young and successful to gather on a Friday afternoon.  Vanessa Wallace sipped on her cup of black coffee nodding at the appropriate times to the buzz of conversation at her table.  She had been meeting the same group of friends on Friday afternoons for the past 8 years.  Their conversation points were essentially the same — work, men, fashion, men, bitchy women and men.  Vanessa’s mind was occupied with something else entirely.

She’d worked her way up the corporate ladder to become a successful financial analyst. Vanessa loved her job, money wasn’t a problem, and she didn’t fret about bitchy women, because she was one.  It was the age-old problem in the city — more eligible women than eligible men.  And just because they were eligible didn’t mean they met her standards.  Vanessa had very high standards.

Her boss had invited everyone and their significant others to his latest dinner party.  No way in hell was she going alone.  Vanessa had one day to find the right date.  Tonight, she was scoping out the possibilities.

“Nessa, are you listening?” Hailey asked.  “I don’t know why you even came tonight if you aren’t going to participate.”

“Sorry, Hailey.  I have a bit of a work problem.”  The group commiserated with her by nodding their heads and making sympathetic comments before heading onto the next topic.  Men.

“Well, you just won’t believe who’s back in town.”  Anita smoothed her skirt, performed a hair flip which she followed up by biting her bottom lip.  Vanessa thought Anita had the simpering female act down pat.  The girls leaned in with their heads hovering over the table to hear the latest gossip.  Vanessa leaned in along with the others, mentally chastising herself for doing so.

“Matt Summers.”  A chorus of “No!”, “You are kidding!” and “What an ass!” followed Anita’s news.

Vanessa leaned back in her chair with a slight smile flitting across her lips.  Matt Summers was a pretentious ass.  A handsome one.  He’d asked Vanessa out multiple times in the past, but she always said no.  He had a reputation, and she was focused on her career.  Maybe he had some potential as a dinner date.  Matt was wealthy and business savvy, so he would be a perfect fit for her work crowd.  She turned her attention back to the girls.

“I heard he might be here tonight,” Anita informed.  Vanessa chuckled as her friends tried, unsuccessfully, to scope out the cafe for the man of the moment.  It didn’t mean Vanessa wasn’t on the watch with her friends.  Vanessa ordered a glass of red wine hoping it would relax the knot in her stomach.

Halfway through her glass, her companions exhibited visible signs of shock.  Their eyes locked on a point behind Vanessa.  She wanted to turn around but forced herself to stay relaxed and face forward.  She felt a touch on her left shoulder as a familiar voice spoke softly in her right ear.

“I was hoping I would run into you again, Vanessa.  Can I sit down?”

“Matt Summers — I didn’t know you were back in town.”  Vanessa had found a dinner date to rival her colleagues’ trophy wives.

My Tribute to Father Bill

Two years ago, I made an effort to begin going to Sunday mass again.  I’d been absent more often than not during the preceding years for a plethora of reasons — weekend work schedules, out-of-town family events, and caring for my mother in her home in another state. Father Bill was the priest on the Sunday I’d returned to join the faithful.

I watched as he entered the church from the sacristy. Walking across the altar was difficult for him, I understood why he didn’t participate in the processional at the beginning of mass.  I lamented the state of the Church, and its continued problems recruiting young priests.  During that mass, Father Bill touched my heart with his thoughtful, quiet homily and the devotion and passion of his voice as he sung the hymns.

On the walk home, I confided in my husband how moved I was by Father Bill’s story which reminded so much of an event that occurred when we attended Midnight Mass in Rome over two decades ago. When I got home, I wrote a short story about that special night.

It has been over a week since Father Bill fell and broke his hip. After surgery, he seemed to be doing well and the hospital staff planned on getting him up to walk. Within a few days, his condition worsened, and Father Bill was called to his heavenly home. He will be sorely missed by the parishioners in our little village.

He struggled to walk, yet he bolstered himself to come and say mass each week even on the coldest winter days. The effort would waylay many younger people. When our pastor Father John spoke of Father Bill, he equated him with characters from stories similar to the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Lord of the Rings. Father Bill was the old king who went into battle when he was needed and fought valiantly in the service of others. Not a single dry eye in the church this past Sunday… Godspeed, Father Bill, this story is for you.


Midnight Song

The dimly lit courtyard held a snaking line of visitors IMG_6562.PNGwhich buzzed with muted conversations, the shuffling of feet, and an occasional entreaty by a youngster to the elders who accompanied them.  The group waited in anticipation to hear Pope John Paul II say Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.  Among the crowd were people of all ages, colors, and ethnicities.  Ahead of us, the melodic cadence of Italian came from an animated troupe while behind us stood a gathering of nuns with dark veils covering their hair and wooden crosses hanging from the rosary beads secured at their waists.

In our group were military families taking a trip to Rome on Christmas weekend.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for my small family.  I had purchased a crucifix to hang in our home and brought my rosary so both items could be blessed by the Pope during Midnight Mass.  Growing up in a Catholic family, my favorite mass of the year was this one celebrated on Christmas Eve.

When I was a young girl, we would get bundled up in our winter coats, boots, and mittens and crawl into our beat-up Chevy for the drive along snowy highways with the moonlight lighting the snow-covered fields until they glowed.  The country church we attended it’s a well-known fact you had to get there early because the church reached its capacity for Midnight Mass. If you arrived late, you’d have to stand in the back and for a young child, it was reminiscent of standing among a suffocating forest of human legs.

The choir would start off the standard hymns I’d learned when my dad would play the Christmas album, “Sing Along with Mitch.”  The voices of the faithful would swell with hope and love infused into their harmonies.  Our song was a prayerful offering to the Creator.

In that dark Vatican courtyard, as we tried to stay warm, stomping our feet and rubbing our hands together, our small military group began to sing Silent Night to keep our minds off the December chill in the air and to pass the time.  The Canadian nuns joined us and soon a trickle of other groups followed, providing a mixture of accented baritones, sopranos, tenors and altos.  Our song grew in strength into something so pure it connected us all at that moment.  One carol followed another until the stone walls surrounding us echoed with our words. Goosebumps popped up on my arms, and I felt a chill deep in my chest as I sang along.  We–the travelers to this place on this specific night–were one in song and in fellowship.

I remember that night like it happened yesterday and not twenty-four years ago.  We connected to strangers with our familiar song.  I haven’t any photos or videos to document the moment but they aren’t needed because the memories are permanently engraved in my mind and heart.  I wonder if the other people remember that evening as fondly.

Birthday Wishes and Dreams

I started writing this short story for the One Million Project’s writing group’s Weekend Write-In Challenge.  This week’s prompt was “Birthday”. I wanted to do something different with the current chapter I was working on for my current work-in-progress — Never Show Your Hand.  The following is the result of my efforts.  I hope you like it!


Over a year has passed, and my heart still bleeds without him. Why didn’t I realize he never felt the same love for me as I did for him? 

Clare’s skis skimmed over the crusty snow as she pushed her body to its limits.  She initially used the intensive training for the Birkebeiner cross-country ski race as a way to burn off all of the anger, frustration, and pain from a broken heart but it became much more than a fitness goal.  It became a challenge to keep her promise to fulfill her destiny, to not look back, and to savor the feeling of being complete.  Not because a man was by her side, but as a result of loving the flawed, stubborn, fabulous woman that she’d become.

Her birthday was around the corner, and although Clare hadn’t celebrated her birthday for several years, she planned to make this year’s a memorable one by participating in the Birke and moving forward without her husband, Wyatt.  She dug into the hillside with her poles as she pointed the tips of her skis out putting her body weight on the inner edges of her skis as she climbed the steep slope, making a herringbone pattern in the snow.

By the time she reached the top, her forehead was beaded with sweat under her stocking cap and her pants formed frosty clouds of mist with each expired breath. The tiny hairs in her nostrils, now frozen, prickled inside her nose, and her lungs ached with the effort of breathing.  She pushed on knowing the actual Birke would be punishing in the extreme and she couldn’t quit because it was too hard.

When she reached the top of the hill, the sunshine reflected off the snow-covered countryside blinding her, and she squinted behind her sunglasses.  It made her a bit homesick and reminded her of the last time she’d cross-country skied with her twin brother, Noah. That day had been sunny and brisk much like the current one.  He would be so proud of her for pursuing this goal.  It had been something they’d talked about doing together.

Shit! Clare wished he could participate in the event with her.  Instead of wishing for things that could never happen she began her strong skating stride and pictured him skiing next to her — her skiing guardian angel — urging her to move faster and taunting her that he was going to whip her butt. Before she realized it, she’d reached the end of her practice run.

Bundling her gear into the Jeep, she headed for home. Clare let her yellow Lab, Max, outside as soon as she opened the door.  She’d finished removing her boots and padded across the floor to warm her hands by the radiator.

Her forehead creased with surprise at the sound of rapping on her door. The hairs on her neck raised when she realized Max hadn’t alerted her to someone’s arrival. Maybe it was Loretta or Dave checking on her. She couldn’t help the sense of trepidation as she walked towards the door. Her body was beginning to tense as her heart rate picked up. Freaking great. It wasn’t the best time to lose it.

Should I ask who it is? Or go for it and be ready to kickbox their ass into yesterday?
Clare went for it swinging the door wide as she positioned her body into a defensive position. Her hands trembled and black spots danced into her vision.
“Clare, babe, are you okay?” Wyatt stood in front of her. He was the last thing she saw before she passed out cold.

The Sound of Silence, NOT!

At eighty-five years of age, Miss Lydia decided to get “one of those new-fangled phones” everyone seemed to be peering at with heads bent.  Several of the ladies in her church group had them, and they talked incessantly about “time facing” and “gaggling it.”  Whatever that meant, it sounded like a bunch of nonsense, but her nephew, Clyde, wanted her to have one for safety reasons.  A bunch of bull-pucky!

The nice young man at the phone store tried to explain the features available on the phone, including why the only user manual was “on the line” and not printed out like normal.  Frustrated, Miss Lydia returned home with her new gadget.  She set it on the table beside her and watched it like someone would keep an eye on a rattler.

Clarice Travers stopped by after getting off work at the library.  She oohed and aahed over what she called a cell phone, offering to help Miss Lydia set up some ring tones.

“It would be nice if a phone rang like a real phone.”  The octogenarian didn’t cotton to changing anything what wasn’t broken.

“I can set that up, and I’ll do a couple of other alerts for texts, emails, and Facebook.  You are on Facebook, aren’t you?”  Clarice glanced up with raised eyebrows, smiling when Miss Lydia made a dismissive wave with her hand.  “I’ll help you set it up another day if you’d like?”

Miss Lydia didn’t respond.  Her head had settled back against her recliner, and her eyes were closed.  She’d fallen asleep.  Clarice finished setting up the alerts and laid the cell phone on the end table by Miss Lydia’s chair before letting herself out the door.

“Be-doh, be-doh, be-doh!”  Miss Lydia sat up abruptly.  What in the world was that?  She listened intently for a repeat of the sound which woke her but didn’t hear it any longer, and she decided it must have been some whippersnapper outside making noise again.  Those teenagers were always driving by with their radios blaring day and night.

Getting up out of her chair took a bit of doing due to her stiff joints and rheumatism, she hobbled into the bathroom.  As she washed her hands, she heard that same “Be-doh” noise.  She stormed out of the bathroom as quickly as a woman in advanced years could manage.  Once more the sound had disappeared.

“Those juvenile delinquents made a loop around the block.  Umph!  Don’t they realize some people take a little rest in the afternoon?”  Miss Lydia knew she needed to…What was it Clyde would say?  Oh, yes.  ‘Cool my jets.’

She approached the recliner looking out the window for the troublemakers.  The sound of a bugle and the rattling of her new phone on the side table had her putting her hand over her heart in shock.  She prodded it with her finger, but it remained silent.

She did remember how to do one thing with her new phone.  Her finger pressed downward on a button at the side of her purchase.  Miss Lydia had an inkling on how to turn it off.


Written for the Weekend Write-In Challenge on May 14, 2017.