My Mustang purred smoothly, the engine not even noticing the hills as it crested them and zoomed around curves.
Until it died.
A cough from beneath the hood was the first indication of trouble and of course it couldn’t happen in a worse place. Miles from the last town and probably more miles from the next one. Civilization, such as it was in that remote area, wasn’t much anyway, towns consisting of a handful of buildings, half of which were empty. The other half were all too often closed.
That first ominous car cough was followed by a couple more that were louder until a last one was followed by silence. Dead, complete silence. My beautiful Mustang, a gift from my parents, was dead.
The sudden, unexpected death of my Mustang reminded me of how I’d got here, and the memory had me fighting tears as I stared at a sparkling lake surrounded by evergreens that was so close to the road I was on that I could be in the water in a few steps.
But I didn’t see those things. Instead I saw every single detail of my recent life as the reason that led to my being here came roaring back.
I remembered the death of my parents in a plane accident, followed by the numbing news that their business – the one that had given me a good education, a lovely life, an expensive sports car, and everything that goes with all of those things – that business was broke. Totally, completely insolvent. I’d inherited no money at all and nothing of value beyond the Mustang.
“There’s enough to pay the bills if we sell everything they owned,” their lawyer said from across his desk. “And I’ll find enough to keep you going briefly.”
“Are you sure?” How could they not be rich? We’d lived as if we were rich, and I’d always thought we were.
“I talked about it with your parents. The money thing. That they should put something aside for a rainy day. But they said they wanted to give their child – you – every advantage so they said the rainy day would just have to wait.”
He reached across that desk and took one of my hands in both of his. “Then the rainy day arrived and it was all they could do to keep afloat.” He shrugged eloquently. “They were poised to come out of it okay. To get back to where they’d been. Except the accident happened. And now I’m afraid you are broke.”
So I sold the house and everything else they’d owned, paid every single bill to keep their memory unsullied, gave most of my personal things to Good Will, stuffed the rest of my things into the trunk of the Mustang and what wouldn’t fit there I dumped into the back seat of my beautiful classic car in a cloud of depression and grief.
Then I took off for parts unknown. Pedal to the metal with no concern for what people I’d once considered my friends might think of my unseemly exit because they weren’t my friends once they learned I wasn’t rich after all. Never mind, I’d thought. I’d make new friends. Somewhere. Somehow.
And here I was. Definitely somewhere unknown, totally alone and on my own, without friends and with a car that had just died without warning, just like my parents had died also without warning, with both deaths leaving me very suddenly in a very bad place.
I couldn’t help what happened next. It was all I could do to let the car drift to the shoulder of the road until it stopped moving. When it was completely stopped, I put on the parking brake, dropped my head to the steering wheel, and cried.
I sobbed. Absolutely wailed. I cried loudly and I didn’t care how loud because I was all alone in the wilderness. No one for a hundred miles at least. No one to listen and judge me. I simply clutched the steering wheel and let the tears fall fast and furious.
The October free short story — Escape To Tranquility — will be published here and on my Facebook author’s page in a week or so. Just letting you know.
It’ll be a romance but, as you know if you know me, there won’t be any heavy breathing or explicit anything because I have a hard time writing when I’m laughing. And, yes, writing sex scenes does that to me. Makes me laugh. Or at least giggle.
Maybe it’s an age thing.
Anyway, haven’t you ever wanted to escape to tranquility?
Well, in this particular story, my heroine does exactly that.
The cruise was supposed to be fun. You know, dances with great-looking guys, never-ending platters of gourmet food served by great-looking guys, live shows every night featuring great-looking guys and day in and day out tons of great-looking guys hanging over the railings looking for someone to talk with. Someone like me.
Didn’t work out that way. Not for me, anyway, and even though I knew the complete failure of what I labeled ‘cruise happiness’ was because of a bad attitude – mine – that didn’t change the fact that I felt cheated.
I suppose I shouldn’t have blamed the cruise line. I should have put the blame squarely where it belonged, on my newly ex-husband and his equally new wife, aka his former assistant, who was half his age and half my size. I wanted to squish her between my thumb and forefinger and could have done so without breaking a sweat if I’d tried.
But I was nice so I simply smiled as I took my half of our accumulated net worth and laughed all the way to the bank while my ex tried to figure how to support his new wife on half of what he’d expected from the divorce. She loves expensive shoes, purses, and just about everything else that costs big bucks and he’d thought he could afford her and he could have if he’d gotten everything. But I had a great lawyer, which was actually more important than guys on cruises who look great. But I’d hoped to have both.
When my great lawyer handed me that beautiful check, I went straight to the bank and then to the travel agency and booked a cruise. After looking through brochures I decided to sail across the Caribbean and soak in the sun and run along sandy beaches and swim in the boat’s pool and enjoy myself if it killed me. I figured the great-looking guys the travel agency hinted at would help.
I expected to come back from the cruise a new woman and get on with my life and laugh at my ex’s failure to satisfy his very young and very expensive wife. Actually I wouldn’t laugh because I’d be too busy being a new, gloriously happy me to even remember who he was.
That was what I expected. The reality was a tad bit different.
Read the rest of this and eleven more stories in THE WOMEN OF FLY-OVER COUNTRY.
Episodes 1 and 2 are online in Kindle Vella, Amazon’s newest way to read stories, one episode at a time. Since the first 3 episodes are always free, you can start reading CONVERGENCE for zero cents to see if it’s your kind of story.
Here’s what it’s about:
New planet. New home. New life. Pray things go right because calls for help trillions of miles from Earth don’t get answered.
There’s the pollen. Pollen is harmless. Isn’t it? And there are the whisperers who followed the colonists to this new place. Are they from Earth? They must be. Unless they aren’t.
But these colonists traveled between stars to start a new civilization on this particular world and they don’t intend to let anything stop them. They’ll fight for their new home. Problem is, winning is never guaranteed.
And here’s an excerpt:
The first team to the planet’s surface wasn’t expected to survive so no cameras were allowed. Without a record of whatever disaster befell them, it could be hushed up. The powers that be could come up with a logical explanation for dead or missing team members, a tragic fall, perhaps, or some other story. But that wouldn’t work if there were pictures.
They planned that if that happened – and they were pretty sure it would – they’d suitably mourn those lost, wait a while, and then send down a second team. If that team suffered a similar fate, they’d send a third. And, if necessary, a fourth. And so on.
Because this was the place they’d been heading towards for generations. This particular, specific planet. Not the next planet or the one after that. This planet and no other. They would stay here. They would colonize it no matter what. Danger and death be damned.
I’m looking to create a street team for my stories on Amazon’s Kindle Vella.
If you don’t know what Kindle Vella is, you’re not alone. Amazon did little to nothing in the way of promotion. I suspect their reasoning was to give authors free reign to do whatever they choose and Amazon will then follow by doing those things that are most successful. In the meantime, every author is on their own.
So I’m thinking of creating a street team and together we’ll strategize how to publicize something new. The kicker is that you can’t even read Kindle Vella on your Kindle. Not yet anyway and don’t know if they’ll ever do it. Instead you read it on your phone, computer, etc. Just like social media, in short episodes of 600 to 5,000 words each.
Mine normally are between 1,000 and 2,000 words each and the first 3 episodes are free, which is nice, and you can purchase ‘tokens’ to read the rest at greatly discounted costs, and every new subscriber is given 200 tokens free. So the cost is nothing or minimal if you keep reading.
Anyway, if you are interested in helping me publicize my stories and figuring out how to publicize a new story medium, contact me at email@example.com (the email I use for writing, not my personal email address) and we’ll go from there.
And just to have a picture to show with this post, here’s the cover for my second Kindle Vella story, titled CONVERGENCE. I chose a warrior woman because I remembered that faces are the best covers of all and I liked her expression. That’s one tough woman who is also feminine. My kind of cover.
“These are beyond their prime,” Lola said with a frown. Lola being my boss at Flowers4U, the best flower shop in the city according to the customers who kept us in business. “Do what you want with them but do not use them in anything that is for sale.”
I examined the flowers, red and white and still pretty, though, as Lola had said, past their prime. “I’ll bring them home with me.” Which she knew I’d say because it was what I always said when she decided flowers were past their prime. “They’ve still got some life in them and my apartment could use a bit of cheering up.”
“Humph,” Lola said in the faux grumpy voice she uses sometimes. “That place could use a few windows is what it could use.” Referring to my two rooms and a bath on the second floor of an ancient apartment building overlooking a tiny yard featuring grass with flowers around the edge. But the only way I could see that lovely piece of nature was to stand on my tiptoes and stare out my single, tiny, living room window. So flowers in vases scattered throughout my apartment, even those past their best days, were a welcome addition to my at-home life. I brought home all the blooms from Flowers4U that would otherwise be tossed.
I kept them alive as long as possible in vases and jars filled with water and all the best nutrients Flowers4U had on their shelves, complements of Lola who loved flowers and wanted to know they’d lived as long as possible. I’d care for the flowers and remember my grandfather’s farm and the flowers he grew for my grandma. Red flowers were her favorite. Red like the ones I was looking at now.
When there was no life left in the drooping petals that were past their prime, I’d toss them into the can for composting that was beside the dumpster that was beside the gate that led from that tiny spot of natural beauty to the great beyond, otherwise known as the bustling center of our small city.
I loved the city. I’d moved there from that beloved farm so I could visit museums and art galleries and restaurants featuring food from everywhere on Earth. I couldn’t do that in the country. So I chose the city and missed the flower garden and my grandparents but they were happy for me as long as I visited occasionally.
So now in my city apartment, I considered those red flowers that would eventually be so far gone that even I would have to say goodbye to them. But I never knew what happened to them after they were tossed and had never been curious until now. I presumed they went to the landfill along with the rest of the apartment building trash. Of course they did. Where else could they go? Where else could any trash go?
Hmmmmm. What would you do with old, faded flowers?
Read the rest of this and eleven other stories in THE WOMEN OF FLY-OVER COUNTRY, available now on Amazon.
Inspiring, adventurous, and wholly relatable as we contemplate the stars and beyond! Witkop, true to form, has again demonstrated her mastery of story form. Makes me eager to explore space!
The Space Between The Stars received 5 star reviews because it’s a good, readable story about real, relatable people who choose to board a starship and colonize a distant planet. Who’d do such a thing? Lots of people. Scientists. Homemakers. Adventurers. Rebels. Those with paranormal abilities. And more. Read it and meet some interesting people as they travel between the stars.
The colonial starship Nova One leaves Earth on mankind’s first journey beyond the solar system to colonize a distant planet on a trip of many years. These are the stories of the colonists on that starship. Ordinary people on an extra-ordinary journey. One woman starts a journal to record her life on Nova One. Others continue it with their own stories. Funny, romantic, heart-warming, tragic, and always human. The stories of rebels, peacemakers, entrepreneurs, scientists, those born with paranormal gifts, and more.