The Dark Park – Part 1

Grand Opening of the Cherrywood Recreation and Entertainment Park 

The two wealthy residents of Cherrywood, crucial to the project, along with the recreation commission committee members, were grateful that after many months of planning, fundraising, and sweat equity, the project was finally done. They positively bubbled over with pride in their speeches, unveiling the efforts of all involved in the park’s construction. A news crew was in attendance, waiting for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to begin. The townspeople were eager as well, with smiles all around. The atmosphere felt charged with excitement.

Without the land donation, this would have never even gotten off the ground, but thankfully, the Winchesters, one of the founding family’s of Cherrywood, understood the park’s future benefits. For their generosity, the committee memorialized them with bronze plaques embedded in the entrance gates, recognizing their efforts for the community. The descendants would look back with pride on their family’s investment in the park for generations to come.

It was to be the go-to place, one the young at heart of every age could enjoy healthy play and joyful fitness. This park hoped to engage families but also those needing to incorporate more healthy activities in their lives. It would feature the safest, most modern equipment available to date. And the recreation commission secured enough funding through grants for the upkeep and maintenance of the park through 2050. It helped the city avoid raising taxes on the residents; they were mighty happy about that. 

You see, the town of Cherrywood had the unfortunate news-making title of having the highest obesity rate in the United States. They were #1. By providing a way to engage in fun fitness, the town hoped to turn around its reputation and its residents’ well-being. Had the community not pulled together to address their situation, the citizens’ future would have had a bleak outlook. They were dying at much too young an age from this health-crisis. The goal was to help turn the tides, to become the healthiest and fittest town instead. Admirable, if they could achieve it.

So with hope and optimism, each person on the committee and the Winchesters stood ready with their hands holding up the long red ribbon, waiting for the mayor of Cherrywood to take the ceremonial scissors and, with a quick downward stroke, to cut it apart. As soon as they did the deed, the townspeople cheered with jubilation. And the crowd moved forward forcefully, walking right past the committee and into the complex.

Shame the townspeople didn’t know that the land had been used as a dumping site of nuclear waste and other pollutants. An out-of-state company had illegally and secretly shipped in tons of barrels to be buried there for decades. The Winchesters never knew.

Nor did the townspeople ever know the history of the people from the 1400s. The settlement of Cherrywood in the late 1600s by the Pilgrims wasn’t aware the Chenwalk Indians had lived on that land, nor did they know there was originally a burial site there. It added a whole other level to this situation. 

TO BE CONTINUED ON TUESDAY…

The Little Red Suitcase – Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Ailsa’s Apartment – Saturday 3 PM

Without any sound or intrusive movements, Ailsa’s suitcase bubble immediately appeared on her bedroom floor. Once situated solidly, she unlatched the case and stepped out. Gathering her dirty clothes, she lofted them into her hamper. She pulled her black essentials bag out and checked the level of her lotions, perfume, and make-up to ensure there was enough for the next visit. She filled the bottles, dropped the little black bag in the suitcase and then proceeded to push it under her bed.

Ailsa’s head was definitely back in the US as her first thought was that it was time for PJs and a cup of coffee. If only she’d purchased some of the Parisian coffee while she was there. The rich brew was such a highlight during her stay. Oh well, she decided, she’d get some the next time she went to France. Maybe sooner rather than later since it would still be beautiful for the next few months. 

She moseyed towards the kitchen to brew the coffee, which would help combat the mid-afternoon blahs she felt coming on. Once her steaming cup was in front of her, a small snack as well, she pulled out her pencil and travel journal. She wanted to put down some thoughts and details about her visit, then plan the following week’s trip. Flipping to the Paris, France entry she’d created, she proceeded to write everything down. The front of her journal held the long bucket list of adventures, almost a year’s worth of trips planned. It grew every time she ran across information about another exciting place to visit. Her goal was to be able to see every one of those destinations before she died. Ailsa knew that traveling would become a daily event once she retired from her job. That was the only reason she busted her butt so much, sometimes working 60+ hours/week. She anticipated leaving the rat race at 50 years of age, leaving her still healthy and vibrant enough to travel extensively.

Next week’s adventure was a visit to Cape Town, South Africa, but having just talked about her place of conception with the attendant in Paris, she decided to visit the island of Aisla Craig instead. A while ago, she’d found out that it was owned by The Marquess of Ailsa and had become a bird sanctuary. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was leasing the island until 2050. The weather channel indicated that it should be pleasant, but she would continue to check throughout the week. This way if the weather got bad, she’d implement her backup plan. But the possibility of going thrilled her immensely. It would be so peaceful and scenic with it being closed down to the public. Ailsa thought back to the last time she’d camped out. It was fun “roughing it”, as she recalled. Hopefully, everything would fit in her suitcase.

TO BE CONTINUED ON FRIDAY…

Hello Readers – now it’s your turn! Please cast your vote in the comments below for the type of ending you would like to see. Try to have your choice noted by 5PM CST.
Here are your ending possibilities this week:

Fun
Sad
Unexpected

I look forward to writing how the story will end! Here’s hoping you enjoy it! 

The Little Red Suitcase – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

Ailsa slowly woke up after a solid night’s sleep, her wide yawn shaking off the remnants of sweet dreams. With the bed being so comfortable, she debated for just a moment whether to snooze further or push through the usual fuzziness upon wakening. Her sense of adventure determined her next step as she threw her legs over the edge of the bed.

After a quick shower, she quickly packed all of her things in her suitcase and headed downstairs to check out. She asked the concierge to hold her suitcase as she would be sight-seeing this morning and into the afternoon. He gave her a claim stub for her bag, and off she went.

Ailsa had decided to forgo walking to both places because it would take away almost an hour and a half from her excursion. The Paris Metro would be perfect for getting to and from, and who didn’t love taking public transportation? Especially when it was so modern and inexpensive. She wasn’t willing to cut corners on other comforts as she’d dropped a pretty penny on the five-star hotel and their equally rated restaurant, but transportation, yes.

Her first stop this beautiful morning would be to take in the exquisite exhibits at the Louvre museum. She especially looked forward to seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s – Mona Lisa – and Venus de Milo’s statue – Aphrodite. Ailsa was happy to check off two more bucket list places. But first, a Parisian coffee and a croissant before boarding the Metro.

She arrived at 9 AM on the dot, just as they opened the doors. Ailsa estimated she’d spend a couple of hours at the museum but ended up staying there for an hour longer. All the exhibits were fascinating, and she was happy to immerse herself more in-depth in the artwork and history. The time passed quickly, but she still had plenty of daylight to get to the Eiffel Tower.

Aisla looked forward to seeing the fantastic view of Paris from the tower. But just as excited to ingest a glorious lunch at the restaurant located 125 meters up from the ground. She decided to go straight there as it was right about Noon when she arrived. The Michelin-starred restaurant – Le Jules Verne – had three rooms offering a breathtaking view of the Champ-de-Mars, the Quai Branly, and the Trocadéro.

The waiter was happy to give her a window seat as requested. The view was so much more than she had expected! Oh, this trip sure was turning out to be one of the best she’d had to date, she thought to herself. The lunch, another exorbitant expenditure, was definitely worth it!

Ailsa took a deep breath as she looked out over Paris. A few thoughts crossed her mind about Monday, but she quickly pushed those back down into her subconscious, trying to focus only on the joy she was experiencing at that moment.

After lunch, she checked out the other attractions and exhibits, including more artwork and the tower’s history. Ailsa also perused the gift shop, where she spotted a limited edition rivet to add to her collection from her travels. Her trip was complete!

It was almost 3 PM, and she’d seen everything; it was time to go home. The Metro took her back to the hotel. She gave the concierge her claim ticket, promptly retrieving her bag. Aisla went into the lobby bathroom, opened a stall, and was careful not to lock the door. She quickly opened her little red suitcase, stepped into it, and said her goodbyes to Paris.

TO BE CONTINUED ON THURSDAY…

The Little Red Suitcase – Part 2

Part 1

Hôtel Plaza Athénée – Paris, France

Undetected, the translucent bubble carrying the little red suitcase arrived at the hotel. Aisla unlatched the suitcase and stepped out into the lobby. This ingenious device teleported easily and without any disturbance in the new surroundings what-so-ever. It always left her astounded as none of the people in the area seemed to notice she’d just suddenly appeared. It was as if she’d arrived like every other tourist checking in.

Closing the suitcase and smoothing down her shirt and pants, Ailsa walked towards the reception area and checked in with the front desk. She smiled at the attendant and put down her suitcase. “Bonjour, Monsieur, Parlez-vous Anglais?”

“Yes, Madame. I speak English,” the man behind the desk said, smiling and nodding. 

“Oh, wonderful! Thank you for making it easier for me. I’m still learning the language.”

“Are you checking in today?”

“Yes, please. Ailsa Craig.”

“Oh, like the island in Scotland?”

Ailsa flashed a broad but surprised smile. “Yes! Most people don’t know that! My parents decided to name me that as I was conceived on that island when they were on holiday.”

“Ah, that must have been before they closed it?”

Nodding in agreement, she said, “They’d heard it was going to be closed to visitors soon and wanted to visit the sights before it was too late. Mom and Dad packed a picnic lunch, brought some wine, hung out at the old castle, and good times transported them into each other’s arms!” Ailsa laughed, telling the story she’d heard so often before as sweetly as possible.

The attendant laughed with her and, with a wink, said, “Well, it sounds like they had an enchanting time and brought home a wonderful keepsake!”

“Indeed!”

“As per your instructions, we have a table reserved for you tonight in the restaurant at 6:30 this evening. Here is your key. You will be staying in Room 304. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“Please, could you tell me what time the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower open to the public? Also, do you have a transit map for the Paris Metro?”

“Yes, of course. Here’s the map, and the sights are both open at 9 AM.”

“Wonderful! I thank you so much for the information! Au revoir”

“Enjoy your stay, Ms. Craig!”

Aisla turned and headed towards the elevator. The door opened just as she arrived to ring the bell for one. She pressed the third-floor button and looked forward to getting settled in the room. A big, deep breath and a long sigh out escaped her throat. She was beginning to relax now.

After a luxurious bubble bath, she showered off all the soap and wrapped herself in a plush white towel. Aisla fixed her make-up, blew dry her hair, and brushed it all into place. The cute black dress laid out on the bed, just waiting to be stepped into. After a small spritz of hairspray, then checking herself out in the mirror, she decided she liked what she saw. Her hunger beckoned, though; it was time to eat. 

Opening the door of her room, Aisla couldn’t help but say, “Hello, Paris! Are you ready for me?”

TO BE CONTINUED ON WEDNESDAY…

The Little Red Suitcase – Part 1

After dropping the keys on the stand in her apartment’s entrance, Ailsa made her way to the bedroom. She took a long deep breath, happy to be done with the workweek, ready for her adventure to begin. She smiled to herself, knowing it would be fun. TGIF!

Ailsa pulled her little red suitcase out from under the bed, clicking the latch open. She marveled how it didn’t look a day over brand new. Even being at least 50 years old, this precious gift from her parents was barely scuffed. To herself, she uttered – Thank you, Mom and Dad, best present ever! For a moment, Ailsa got sad. She wished they were still with her to share in all the travels they bestowed upon her. It would have made the trips she’d taken even better if she could talk about the joy she experienced. But the tragic car accident two years ago when they were visiting Scotland – their homeland – changed everything. While her travels were still delightful, she didn’t have her parents in her life anymore to relay her stories to. And she couldn’t talk to other people because no one could know about the suitcase. That was the only condition in receiving this gift; Ailsa had promised her parents she would never tell anyone.

A small drop escaped her right eye, and snapping herself out of it, she thought to herself – nope, don’t go there. She forced herself in the direction of her closet to pick out what she needed, then next, packing her clothes.

Her little black bag containing the necessities for an overnight visit lay within the suitcase already. Now, what else to bring, she thought to herself. What does one wear to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre? She decided on something comfortable and casual but nicely put together for the sightseeing on Saturday. Ailsa decided that a lovely little black cocktail dress would do the trick for dinner at the hotel this evening. She’d look quite fetching in it, she decided.

The weather promised to be sunny and comfortable, as all her trips were. Every place on her bucket list had to happen during the pleasant months of late Spring and Summer. She always thoroughly investigated every destination beforehand to ensure it. Cold weather was a turnoff for her. Ailsa had to get her fill of the sun, having given her all to her job. Every day, she conducted her work in a window-less office under the fluorescent bulbs. It was draining, and she was usually exhausted when she got home. So for traveling, this is why a comfortable temperature was a pre-requisite. It’s what gave her back a bit of sanity, leaving her feeling restored.

One last check of what she’d packed and a quick look in the mirror eyeing her lipstick, going through her mental checklist making sure not to forget anything, Ailsa grabbed the last thing she would need – her purse – and then stepped into the suitcase, closing it on top of her.

TO BE CONTINUED ON TUESDAY…

Wine

Photo by Posawee Suwannaphati on Pexels.com

tastings leave me feeling shiny and new
selecting the best, we all win
the atmosphere delightful, taking it all in
friendships cemented over wine, so happy are we

I was inspired to write this after Christine – Stine Writing posted about this interesting form. It’s called an “In One Word Poem” and it is an absolute delight to be challenged to create in this way! My husband supplied the first word and I hope you enjoy what it prompted me to write. 🙂

The rules are:

  • choose a word
  • list words that you find within that word
  • choose words from that list
  • write a poem in which each line ends with one of those words

Have fun if you decide to participate! I hope you do and and look forward to reading what you come up with!

Would You Have Me


soft enough
to be inviting to touch

warm enough
to need me for comfort

wild enough
to make you want me more

coarse enough
to make you want to tame me

should you have me
i beg you, never let me go
because when i’m yours
i’ll be with you always

…unless you shave me. please don’t. sincerely, your beard

Mountains Of Responsibilities

The envelopes piling up on the credenza,
a daily ritual every afternoon
of dumping from the mailbox to the top of the desk.

Out of sight, out of mind, they say.
Having fun, feeling free with friends,
enjoying life to the fullest meant

barely a thought given to the duties of adulthood.
The distraction of coffee, a record playing or a good movie
always drawing her away to a better place than what was around her.

Not that it couldn’t be better.
She didn’t know how or want to acknowledge her inadequacies
staring her in the face each time she walked by the roll top.

She never excelled at math, couldn’t balance her checkbook and
never understood the value of money.
Always being reckless and not knowing she really should save.

Sadly, the day of personal reckoning finally came,
the sheriff’s insistent hammering at the front door.
“Ma’am, you’ve been served an eviction notice.”

Let’s Move!

Inspired by Eugi’s Weekly Prompt – Dancing, Sadje’s What do you see? #27
& VJ’s Weekly Challenge #94 

right now
we need six degrees of separation
from the despair
what a better way
than dancing

come on, give in to the music
let it take us elsewhere
watch the wooden faces
check us out
in awe and confusion

show people
how it’s done
to break free, to let loose
and put our energy
into being deservedly exhausted

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Image credit- Pixabay- Willgard

#Whatdoyousee