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Treasured Objects

June 30, 2023 by in category Columns, Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic, Writing tagged as , ,
Photo by Garreth Paul on Unsplash

When Ryann’s neighbor called her with the news, she hurried the two doors down. It was actually the daughter of Mr. Mallory who summoned her. The elderly Mallory had not been in the best of health for years. And now he was dead.

“I wanted you to have first pick of Dad’s stuff,” Jody, Mallory’s daughter, said when she ushered Ryann into the house. “You took such good care of him over the years.”

Ryann smoothed back a loose strand of hair and waved a hand to deflect the praise. “All I did was fetch his mail for him, and make a grocery run every now and then.” 

“But you were here for him, and I appreciate that.” Jody beckoned to Ryann to follow her farther into the house. “And my brothers won’t know what’s missing. They were never around, always too busy to drop by, Dad said.”

They traipsed through the living room, dim with heavy window drapes, and into the dated kitchen. Ryann had been this far in the house to deliver Mallory’s groceries. The tired décor and dim lighting never enticed her to linger when she visited. She might be a widow, but living alone did not mean one had to stay stuck in a time warp. 

“Anything catch your eye?” Jody turned in a circle in the kitchen, arms outstretched.

Ryann shook her head. “I have everything I need, but thanks.” 

“Then you’ve got to see what I found upstairs. I know you love art, and this is right up your alley.” 

Without waiting for a reply, Jody climbed the stairs to the second floor, Ryann close behind. It was true that Ryann collected art, and proudly displayed several local artists’ works on her walls. Mallory had hung only cheap framed prints of animals and exotic beaches, as far as she had seen. Whatever lay upstairs was likely just a continuation of the mundane.

The two women passed three bedrooms and a bathroom. At the fourth door, Jody pushed it open and entered another bedroom, empty save for a double bed frame holding a set of springs (no mattress) and a brass floor lamp. She picked up a picture frame covered in black cloth, and with a flourish uncovered the art beneath.

“What do you think?” 

Ryann stood speechless . It was a still life, a real painting; she could see the brush strokes. Oil, she guessed. But it was more than the fact that it was not a print: The painting itself captured her interest. Excellent design and color. Clever choice of objects to feature in the setting: a goblet that glinted gold, an exquisite folded cloth, a filigreed chain, a small tiara with a cluster of diamonds across the top. A plate on the frame offered the title: Treasured Objects.

“It’s … astonishing,” Ryann stuttered. 

Jody smiled. “I think so, too.” She held it out to Ryann, who backed away.

“I can’t accept this,” Ryann said. “You should keep it … or take it to an art dealer. I’m sure it’s worth a lot. More than I could afford to pay you.”

Shaking her head, Jody stepped to Ryann. “Dad did not splurge on things. I’m sure this is a yard sale special, so I’m not giving up a fortune by making it a present to you.”

Still Ryann hesitated. She knew the piece was valuable. 

“Okay,” she finally said. “I’ll take it, but I’ll get it appraised, and if it’s worth what I think it is, I’m giving it back to you.”


Ryann propped the painting on the sideboard in her dining room and in the busy-ness of her life – volunteer work, grandkids to babysit, friends to visit – she forgot about it for almost a week. It was when she was tidying up after her daughter’s toddler twins had left that she paused to look at it again. 

 I wonder what it’s worth.

She turned away and then turned back. A hand that she swore hadn’t been there previously lay casually within the still life. The unknown model’s hand and arm faded off to the right in the picture. The artist apparently wanted a hint of something live within the assemblage of inanimate objects on the table.

Why hadn’t she seen that before?

And then the hand moved. Just a twitch. A moment later the hand turned over, palm up.

Ryann fled the house. At Mallory’s front door, she rang the bell and pounded her fist on the panel.

When Jody opened the door,  Ryann tried to compose herself, taking deep breaths.

“Tell me,” she gasped. “If you don’t mind my asking, what did your father die of?”

Jody wiped her hands on her jeans, dust in her hair and grime on her cheeks. “Forgive my appearance,” she said. “I’ve knee-deep in cleaning up this old place.”

“Please,” Ryann said. “It’s none of my business, but I need to know.”

Stepping out onto the porch, Jody closed the door behind her. “We’re not sure,” she said. “How he died, I mean. No one’s found his body, but he doesn’t appear to have left. It’s been over a month since anyone has seen or heard from him, so the family assumes he’s dead.”

“Come with me,” Ryann said. “I think I may have found him.”

You will find more of Dianna’s stories in the following books:

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Room with a View

May 30, 2023 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic tagged as , , ,

The top floor of Brindle Hall overlooks a grove of red maples, the crowns of the trees only a few feet below the windows. Nyla smiles at the leaves in motion below her. It would be like living in a treehouse. A bit, anyway. 

“How much is the lease?” She’s sure the price is beyond her budget, but she has to ask.

The agent names a price that’s a stretch, but the trees outside the windows are calling to her.

He promises the key and the paperwork by tomorrow. She can move in the following week.

Later, sitting on the couch she’s temporarily commandeered at a friend’s house, Nyla considers the floor plan of her new place. Two tiny bedrooms, a kitchen/dining room combo, and the living room with the balcony overlooking the maples. It must do.

Sam helps her move, but not without grousing. “You have too much stuff.”

“You mean books.” She knows that’s where she overbuys and shrugs. “I can’t help myself.”

They load box after box of books onto the handcart and take the elevator up. When he departs, after a feast of carryout pizza and chocolate chip cookies she had stashed for emergencies, she sits on the floor amid the boxes, which take up much of the living room.

She reaches into one of them, lifts out a volume, and opens the cover. Through the sliding glass door to the balcony, the maple leaves rustle. 

Nodding, she checks her phone.

Almost time.

An hour slips past, as she reads several chapters. The darkness of the evening deepens beyond the windows, and Nyla switches a floor lamp on low. 

After emptying her pockets, she lays her phone on the kitchen counter and places her shoes next to the fridge. On the balcony, she gazes down to the sidewalk that runs along the front of her building, four floors down. It’s empty and quiet at this hour.

Overhead, clouds drift past a waxing crescent shining in the east. A slight breeze brings the odor of diesel fumes and—as her nose morphs into a beak—mice and a wandering housecat. She can hear the rodents skittering in the alley. She shakes out her wing feathers, russet brown and soft, and swivels her head to check herself in the window. Her ear tufts stand out against the night’s backdrop. With a brief hoot, she hops onto the balcony railing.

One push up and she’s airborne, skimming above the maples, and then over the nearby streets of the town. 

Dianna’s Books

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Too Much Juice

April 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,
picture of hand with IV inserted

Too Much Juice
Kidd Wadsworth

I suppose there were opioids in my IV. I remember eating a three-foot-long, hot-pink centipede. I was a trifle worried. It was Lent. Does centipede count as meat?

While I chewed—centipedes are a might gristle-ly—there appeared by my bed three women. They “poofed” in; I thought them witches. Like a Hollywood wind machine was in the room blowing only on the three of them, their wild, flaming-orange hair and amethyst robes flowed out behind them.

They spoke, talking on top of each other, one starting before the other stopped.

My southern upbringing immediately identified them. Must be Yankees, I thought.

“Oy vey can you believe…,” said the first witch. 

“Without her hair cut…,” said the second.

“She came to the hospital, and there’s people everywhere…,” said the third.

“…and her hair…,” said the second.

“You can’t cut your hair?” said the third.

“I know a place…,” said the first.

This started such a discussion about which place.

I picked up the small hand mirror Mom left for me on my bedside table.

I do need a haircut.

“My tante Zelda…,” said the first witch.

“What?” said the second witch. “Your tante? Why she’d be better off having her hair cut by monkeys at the Bronx Zoo.”

And the third witch nodded, her bangle bracelets clinking, her crystal earrings casting rainbows on the ceiling.

“Do you have any mustard for my centipede?” I asked.

“Why yes,” said the third witch, pulling a jar from her pocket. “Grey Poupon?”

As I spread spicy brown mustard on my centipede, the first witch called her tante Zelda on the phone, “How’s next Wednesday, Dear?” she asked me.

I hesitated, trying to remember when I was scheduled to be discharged. “I don’t know.”

“You’ve got to go,” said the first witch. “You have some gray, no offense…”

To which the second witch said, “But not to Zelda. Anyone but Zelda.”

I’m a Sci Fi fan—live long and prosper, dude. One of my favorite TV shows features evil aliens with glowing eyes. As I struggled to remember my upcoming calendar, I looked out the door of my hospital room. In the room across the hall, I saw my doctor. He turned toward me—and his eyes glowed.

 “Oy vey, you don’t look so good…,” said the second witch.

I paused a bit of mustard covered centipede halfway to my mouth. As my doctor started walking across the hall to my room, the witches grabbed their light sabers. I dropped my fork and pressed the button on my IV.

Time for more juice.

Title Photo by Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

Kidd Wadsworth’s Books

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The Gifts by Kidd Wadsworth

February 27, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , , ,
 Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

She placed the three gifts on the mantle, each beautifully wrapped: one in gold foil paper with a white ribbon it’s bow a dove, the second in green and white striped paper like a mint candy cane was topped with a green paper pine tree, the third in classic red and white Merry Christmas paper was adorned with three large red bows. Otherwise, the room and house were undecorated. She couldn’t bring herself to carry all the boxes of ornaments and lights down from the attic. Mike used to that. He would shout, “Ho, ho, ho and where’s my hot toddy!” Christmas decorating had always begun the same way with Mike carrying box after box down the stairs and her in the kitchen juicing lemons and then screaming, “I forgot to buy bourbon!”

By the time she returned from the store, he’d have the tree up, Christmas music playing, and strings of lights spread out on the floor. “Did you buy replacement bulbs?”

She turned on the gas fireplace. It was cozy room—a lonely room. She pushed down the yearning inside of her soul. “Don’t go there,” she whispered.

She bulwarked heart with memories of other Christmases. Presents and more presents, how rich her parents had been. And each Christmas morning ended the same way, with wrapping paper strown about and delicious smells of ham wafting from the kitchen, and presents, so many presents and not a single gift she liked: clothes, all in shades of navy and mauve, clothes she would never wear, high-heeled shoes that hurt her feet, make-up—didn’t her mother ever look at her face? She didn’t use makeup. At her church they had a Christmas tree with tags on it: stuffed animal, girl’s coat size 8, mittens, boy’s backpack, etc. Surely her Christmases were like the Christmases of those children. All the gifts bought by people who didn’t know them, who didn’t really understand them. Year after year, she slowly learned. Don’t get your hopes up. No one knows you. You are their daughter, but they don’t see you.

Now twenty-eight years old she understood. She had reconciled her expectations to the reality of the world. It was impossible to really know another human being. So, every Christmas she bought herself presents. All sorts of wonderful things like copper cookie cutters and an antique bookshelf. She cooked what she loved including pumpkin pie with extra cloves. She never offered anyone a slice of her pumpkin pie. That would have been cruel—too, too cruel.

And every Christmas she put Mike’s gifts back up on the mantle and dreamed of what could be inside. Their first Christmas together he had stormed out when she refused to open his present. “Please understand, I just can’t be disappointed anymore. What we have is so special, I don’t want to damage it. I can’t bear knowing that you’re the same as my parents. That you don’t really get me.”

He had come back, of course he’d come back. He’d held her.

The next Christmas she’d put the green and white striped present on the mantle, and their third Christmas the present with the red and white Merry Christmas paper. By then Mike had adapted. He brought home hundreds of small things for her. A new mixer, he’d gotten her the red one to match the paint she’d picked out for the kitchen walls. A cup holder for her car that expanded to hold her giant coffee mug. Caffeine and cloves, yup! He was Santa all year long.

“Someday you’ll trust me,” he’d said. “Someday, you’ll open the gifts.”

But that someday didn’t come—no one is supposed to die at twenty-six. She looked up at the gifts on the mantle. “The last two probably just have rocks in them to make them rattle. I mean he wouldn’t keep wrapping up stuff knowing I wasn’t going to open the presents.”

She turned away and turned back again.

“My memories are all I have, Mike. I don’t want to find out that it wasn’t really as good as I thought it was. I don’t want to know that you were only human. You tried hard. I know you did. And this way, I can keep on pretending that you loved me, that you really understood.”

She sipped her hot toddy.

This is the beginning of a story I’m considering for the Bethlehem Writer’s Group new anthology. By the way, did I mention the Bethlehem Writer’s Group’s short story contest is now open for submissions? Click here for details: https://bwgwritersroundtable.com/

Kidd Wadsworths Stories

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Trash Day by Kidd Wadsworth

January 29, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,
The following story is a repeat of Kidd Wadsworth’s from October 2019. We hope you enjoy it as much now as we did then.

My neighbor, Sterling, complains. It seems I don’t bring my trash cans up promptly. But hey, I’ve got a life, and they’re TRASH CANS!

I’ve got a big brain, too. One morning as I watched Sterling take his trash to the curb and leave for work, I got an idea, a how-the-Grinch-stole-Christmas-idea. I grinned and patted my little dog on the head.

As the garbage truck rounded the corner, I ran down to the curb and drug my neighbor’s still-full garbage cans back up his driveway. When the truck had passed by, I drug them down again.

That evening, eager to see Sterling’s expression, I left work early and returned to find him standing at the curb gazing bewildered at the trash still in his trash cans while mine, and everyone else’s, were clearly empty. The next week, he put his heaping cans at the curb. Quickly, I once again hauled them back up his driveway, returning them to the curb when the garbage truck had passed.

That night, his shouting rocked the neighborhood. “No, they’re not picking up my trash! It’s been two weeks! 110 Paxinosa Avenue!” I felt sorry for the trash guys. Well—almost.

The next week, he had two cans full of trash and three extra bags. It was a trash party! I crossed my fingers, praying he wouldn’t wait around for the truck. He paced on the sidewalk, but after several glances at his cell phone, he got in his light blue Prius, and drove away. I’d barely gotten the trash up his driveway when I heard the truck pull around the corner. On a hunch, I stowed the cans inside his garage and snuck out the back gate.

Wow, talk about dedicated. Those garbage guys actually walked up his driveway and looked around for the cans. They clearly had a note in their hands. They checked his address. Knocked on his door. All this for trash. Impressive.

When they left, I put the cans and the bags at the curb. Took two trips. That night, a volcano erupted next door. I felt a little guilty—not a lot guilty—but a little guilty. I mean, I felt guilty in between giggles.

On trash day eve, nightmares of my neighbor assaulting me with a garbage can lid and a turkey bone rocked my sleep. I woke bleary eyed, to see my neighbor standing at the curb, surrounded by trash. I decided it was time I fessed up. About then, the garbage guys arrived. I ducked behind my window curtains. It was ugly! The shouting, the claims of innocence, “There was no trash!” Shall I speak of the birds shot in the air, the words beginning with … well you get the picture.

About a week later, my neighbor had a backyard barbeque. I brought beer. There were four of us neighbors (right, left and across the street), beers in hand, feet on Sterling’s brick retaining wall, when Sterling told the story.



I thought no one knew. But everyone has windows facing the street. When Sterling went inside for more chips, Frank winked at me. Mark held out his hand. “Fifty, or I tell him now.”

I paid.


Occasionally, I try humor. Let me know if I got it right.

You can find some of Kidd’s stories in the following anthologies.

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