Saturday, February 27, 2010


This is a short-short story based on an actual event. Some years ago, when I was in the convent and traveling to England to see my family, my luggage was misplaced. When one traveled as a nun, one often got unwanted attention. For instance, once a very drunk passenger came and knelt in the aisle next to me begging me to hold up the plane. I wished the flight attendant would do something but she, I'm sure, was only too glad to have him focus on me and not hold her up from her many duties. "The carousel went round and round, empty at first, then a suitcase bumped down, then another and another, as if someone had opened a dam causing a waterfall of luggage to flow into a meandering river. The crowd was close and thick around the carousel; I could smell the tired bodies and the alcohol breath on the more vocal ones. I waited in stillness, long black robes keeping me apart from the others even though I was in the midst of them...I walked to the exit to look for some place to report my loss. There was my bag on the floor and I wished that I had looked around earlier. Then I smiled, allowing myself a picture of the robber as he investigated the name and address on the baggage tag. I shared the joke with God, imagining the thief's shock when he saw he had taken a suitcase full of nun's paraphernalia...Holy baggage, Angels! God works in mysterious ways!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Reception Room

This postcard story is given in its entirety. This is the reception room where I had my first interview with the Mother Superior before entering the convent where I subsequently spent 16 years. The sisters now have a new convent so this is a story that has historical significance. The building is now being used as a Roman Catholic school.
"The reception room was small. It was no more than a bulge at the end of a corridor, for it was here that the original grey stone house connected to the red brick addition by means of a second door. The fireplace with its marble surround cried out for the crackle of logs; and each tick of the brass domed clock on the carved mantle piece held a moment of waiting, as if the room longed for its earlier life.
The window seat, now a shelf for potted African violets in colors of white through pink to deep purple, called for the long forgotten chintz-covered cushions. The oak-paneled wall seemed to anticipate the imminent return of family photographs, while it fulfilled its temporary duty as backdrop to a wooden crucifix and a portrait of the Mother Foundress.
I sat on one of the chairs, their needlepoint seats and backs reminiscent of days gone by, and awaited my appointment with the Mother Superior. The hardwood floor beneath my feet drummed the footsteps of long dead patients, for this had been a doctor’s house. The patients’ ghosts released hundreds of butterflies satisfying their search of a home by invading my stomach."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Happened Here?

This is a postcard story--a story that is very brief. It is a story where nothing actually happens but something almost did. The potential for changed lives is enormous but nothing happened. The female narrator of the story realises what could have happened and is affected by the whole non-event. "'O, my God!' The words came to my lips, drawing in a prayer breath, and holding it in my heart. It took a few seconds, no more, for the car to run the red light. It missed the child, whose outstretched hand pointed her way across the street as the lighted sign instructed..." The narrator wonders what had caused the driver to run the red light. He was apparently unaware of what almost happened. "I'm a little more aware of my actions today," the narrator says, "s little less sure that I'll arrive at my destination, a little more thankful for my life and loved ones. I call my husband when I get to work, just to check in. I say a prayer for the unknown driver and for the little girl. And I say thank you for the guardian angels."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Picnic Table

About 15 years ago I had aspirations to write a book about Muskoka Lodges and, to this end, I went to visit a lot of holiday lodges for research purposes. Some of the lodges are open in the winter time and I visited a particular lodge in the month of February. I did a lot of work on my proposed book but it didn't come to fruition. However, I did get much fodder for short stories and The Picnic Table was one of them. It begins, "I ask for a table by the window. No matter that it's an overcast day in February; I want to see the lake. Through the grey-white opacity of winter-ice rises an abandoned picnic table. It awaits a fresh coat of paint, something to give it value, something to say it's wanted, needed." This is a story of a woman who feels like this picnic table. She has come to the resort to recover memories of her summer holiday with Paul, a man who has promised that he will leave his wife and child to be with her. Of course, this hasn't happened and she feels betrayed. As she drives on the highway, "The drone of the engine gives rise to thoughts I should not allow myself--jealous thoughts of Paul living with his wife and child all those months, while I waited on the side-lines for a crumb of his love." She is distracted and not concentrating on the task at hand. What happens next brings her to her senses.