Job Satisfaction

Thanksgiving Day:

Along with the other men in the family, Conlin headed for the living room after the feast. With a deep sigh of contentment, he plopped into his recliner as his brothers and brother-in-law began discussing the perks of their respective jobs. Phil, his younger brother, had been promoted to district manager back in August and chattered enthusiastically about his new position.

Conlin could have put in a few comments about his own job — he was happy enough doing what he did in Human Resources and could tell a few tales out of school — but today he didn’t feel much like talking. Maybe he was too full of turkey and trimmings?

No, that wasn’t the whole picture. At the moment Conlin was sated physically and more or less content with his life, his home, his job. Yet he sensed a void but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He brushed the feeling aside, flipped up his footrest and leaned back. Totally comfortable now, he listened to the others until their voices became a fading drone and his eyes closed.

In a dream he saw a long road that stretched before him as far as he could see, with neither curve or hill to vary the route. My path through life, he thought, nice and easy.

Too easy. Same old, mile after mile, day after day.

Next he was running on a treadmill, round and round, like the gerbils he and his boys had watched at the pet store. They made that wheel spin, but they got nowhere. What a life! Anything would be better than this, he thought. Suddenly he spotted an open door on the side of cage. Yes! He jumped up, grabbed the frame and threw himself through the door. Then he was free falling… The sensation made him jerk.

Phil’s voice penetrated his dream. “Dozing off, brother? Too much food?”

Conlin lowered the footrest. “I guess so. Had a dream — you know those ones where you feel yourself falling?”

“Yeah. Wonder what causes those?”

Conlin was awake now, listening to the conversation, but the dream remained in the back of his mind. He saw himself trudging along the road, then running in the treadmill, going round and round, getting nowhere. Did the dream mean anything? Was his subconscious mind trying to send him a message?

Two days later:

Conlin drove his son to the hardware store the Saturday after Thanksgiving so Tyson could pick up paint and nails to finish his birdhouse. As he stood beside the hardware store counter waiting for Tyson to collect everything he needed, another fellow came along and set four identical light fixtures on the counter.

Conlin nudged his arm. “Hey, Larry. Good to see you. What are you up to?”

The man turned toward him. “Conlin, old buddy. How are you?”

“I’m good. And yourself? Are you doing some renovations at your place?”

“Actually, these are going to be for our new club house. A couple of other guys and I have been concerned about the youth in the low-rent housing in the next subdivision. They have no place to hang out, and you know how it is…a lot of single moms…very few male mentors…drug peddlers and gangs looking for recruits. We figure the boys might need a hand if they’re going to stay out of trouble, maybe a supervised place where they can go after school.”

“Sounds like quite an undertaking.”

“Maybe. We can’t save the world, but we decided to do what we could and half a dozen other guys have offered some volunteer time every week. So we chipped in and got us a small abandoned garage on a paved lot. We’ll fix it up, maybe put up some hoops for basketball, that kind of thing. A lot of these boys have been shifted around from school to school, too, and need help with the basic subjects. Come to think of it, you were always a whiz at school. Maybe you’d be willing to put in a few hours now and then?”

Conlin hesitated. It seemed like a worthwhile project — and it would definitely be a new adventure for him. “Tell you what. I’ll come around and have a look at what you’re doing, then we’ll see.”

Almost a year later:

Conlin’s stomach growled as he leaned over the boy studying the textbook. He glanced at his watch. Supper should have been half an hour ago — no wonder he was hungry.

When his stomach growled again, Manny looked up and grinned. “Better fill it up soon, Mr C, or it’s gonna eat ya alive.”

Conlin mussed the lad’s hair and grinned. “I’ll survive somehow. You’re almost done, Manny. Just finish this page and I’ll drive you home.”

“Sure.” Manny got busy on the last few math problems and five minutes later closed his textbook. “All done.”

“Great, buddy! Let’s go home.”

“Thanks for staying and helping me, Mr C. I really appreciate this,” the boy said as he opened the car door.

Conlin climbed behind the wheel. “Glad to do it. You’re worth it, you know.” Manny gave him a huge smile in response.

As he drove Manny home he remembered. “Hey! Thanksgiving is next week. Is your family doing anything special?”

“Maybe going to my grandma’s,” the boy replied. “I hope so, anyway. She knows how to make great mashed potatoes and gravy. Mom’s are always lumpy and her gravy’s like glue.”

“If that doesn’t work out, let me know. Your family’s welcome to join us.” He gave Manny a big wink. “My wife makes good mashed potatoes and gravy, too.”

Conlin dropped Manny off and headed for his own home. His stomach growled again as he turned the next corner. His mind went back to last Thanksgiving Day, to the void he’d felt and the dream he’d had. He may have the same day job, but he’d escaped the treadmill. Yeah, he thought, glancing at his watch again, I may be late for supper sometimes, but life’s a lot more satisfying now.

Word Press Daily prompt: Sated

Prairie Fire!

Mary Boos was working in the garden that afternoon and stopped to rest as a warm wind blew across the yard. Right about that time one of the little girls said, “Mama, look at that big cloud.”

Mary turned to see where he daughter was pointing. Her eyes widened as she saw the white and grey clouds of smoke billowing up from the fields a few miles from their small farm. Plumes rose in the air and were swallowed in the vast prairie sky.

“Oh no. That’s a fire – and a big one!” she exclaimed as she scanned the horizon.

For an instant her thoughts tumbled between fear and confusion. She and the girls were home alone; her husband Mike had taken the oxen that morning and gone to Ernfold, their nearest town, for supplies. What could she do to save the children? And would the fire catch Mike en route, too?

Like all grassland homesteaders Mike had plowed a fireguard around their farm, but that was a wide line of fire and the wind was blowing it straight towards them. She surveyed the plowed ring around their farmyard and noticed with alarm that the grass on both sides of the fireguard was knee-high and dried from the summer sun. Excellent fuel to receive blowing sparks and flare up. Something had to be done — that narrow strip of bare earth would never protect their yard.

She screamed for her oldest daughter. “Annie. Come!” Then she thought, how foolish. What could either of them do. A wave of hopelessness washed over her. She thought her children, and of Mike. How would he feel to come home and find them all burned to ashes? There had to be something she could do!

In a moment Annie’s head appeared in the door. “Fire!” Mary shouted and Annie looked where her mother was pointing. “It’s still a few miles away, but we have to work fast,” Mary said as she grabbed her toddler and headed for the house.

“God, help us,” she cried as she ran into the one-room cabin. She shouted an order to her second oldest daughter. “Mary, you stay with these little ones. Annie, we have to do something. Molly and Christina, you stay right here with Mary and you all pray that God will help us save the farm.”

“Won’t the fireguard protect us?” Mary asked.

“A fire that size could easily set this side burning, too, with all this dry grass around.”

“But what can we do, Mama? Shall we get buckets of water?”

Mary had no answer. They could hardly battle an inferno like this. Frantically she looked around, all the while praying for some answer.

Her eyes fell on the little tin matchbox holder tacked on the wall beside the stove. A plan popped into her mind. “Come, Annie,” she ordered, grabbing the match holder.

Mary led the way and the two of them ran straight toward the fire. They crossed the fireguard and ran into the thick grass that crackled on their skirts as they ran. They ran half a mile from home, then Margaret stopped and turned to Annie.

“Take handfuls of matches and go that way; I’ll go this way. Light them and throw them into the grass.”

They both turned to face their farm buildings and tossed lighted matches, ran a few yards and tossed more. Little flames burst out here and there. The wind fanned these; soon the grass was ablaze with tongues of fire racing on the breeze toward their fireguard.

The mother and daughter made a wide arc of flames until their match supply was used up, then they ran back toward the house. When they got to the fireguard, Margaret turned and saw the prairie blacken where their fires had already burned the grass. Song birds, abandoning their nests to the flames, rose up here and there. Rabbits, fleeing the fire, dashed across their farmyard.

The small fires they’d ignited reached the fireguard and burned themselves out. Mary and Annie beat out any flames starting from sparks that blew into the yard. At last the weary mother and daughter headed back to the house. They’d done what they could; now they’d gather the children and pray for divine protection.

Mike was hauling a load of fence posts back from town when he realized the danger he was in. Thankfully he was not far from a slough. It took no effort to get the oxen headed toward the water as they felt the heat from those crackling flames. They pulled the wagon into the middle of the slough, sat down and waited while the fire flowed around them, sizzling at the water’s edges.

Mike thought of his family at home. Would they have had any chance to escape? Had his fireguard actually held this inferno at bay around his farmyard? Sitting there soaked with slough water, he berated himself for not making it twice as wide. Would everything he held dear him be ashes when he finally got there?

Once the charred earth was cool enough to travel on he headed toward his farm, his heart heavy with dread. But then he saw a miracle: in the midst of the blackened prairie there were his farm buildings still standing. The earth was black right up to the plowed strip of fireguard, but the buildings on the other side were as he’d left them this morning. Incredible. Thank God!

When he got to the house his family rushed out to meet him and the girls told him how their mother’s quick thinking had saved their lives and the farm. Her little fires had burned away all the fuel so the main fire had nothing to feed on. It had to go around them.

The facts of this incident were written by Emma, one of the younger Boos daughters, in the book From Prairie Sod to Golden Grain 1904-1974, a history of people of Ernfold and Community.

Word Press Daily prompt word: Flames

Story reblogged from Dec 5, 2013

Exotic Beach—Economy Package

This is a reblog from my main site. Hope you enjoy this little conversational tale about a vacation gone so wrong.

Christine's Collection

couple-on-beach

She: The brochure for this “Exotic Beach Scenes” Travel Package didn’t show anything like this. How long do they plan to leave us here?

He: The package included, if I recall, “Three hours of romantic solitude on the beautiful Isle of Santo Innundo. Together you and your sweetheart can explore jungle trails, check out the local cantinas, or just laze on the sunny beach.” So this must be it and here we are. Let’s enjoy.

She: Still, I wish we could have asked that launch driver a few questions before we let him drop us off right here. I’d like to know for certain the cruise ship will be back in a few hours. When he gets back I’m going to jump on that launch so fast.

He: Wish that fellow could speak English or Spanish. I think he’s from one of those Eastern republics like Uzbekistan. He just kept…

View original post 485 more words

Back in the Saddle Again

Hi Everyone!

As you will know if you visit my main site, Christine’s Collection, I started chemo-therapy in April to treat my leukemia. I had my last treatment Sept 9th, almost two months ago. My oncologist is quite pleased at how I responded to the treatment; they feel there are almost no cancerous lymphocytes left and I should have about five years before they build up and become a serious problem again.

So many things fall behind when you aren’t feeling well. then when life starts to return to normal you tray to catch up on the house-cleaning and other pressing stuff. So I’ve left this blog inactive, but it’s time to get back to writing and posting here. Actually I have done a few fiction tales on my main blog and will re-post them here in case you don’t follow Christine’s Collection.

Another thing that’s stimulated my urge to write fiction is sitting in on Jerry Jenkins’ writing classes. Last month my husband joined the Jerry Jenkins Writing Guild and we’ve both been watching the webinars on how to produce quality writing. I’ve learned a lot from his “How to Become A Ferocious Self-Editor” sessions. “Ferocious” is the perfect description as he puts some writer’s first page through his Manuscript Repair and Revision.

Anyway, a few days ago I did an exercise for The Write Practice, then posted it on Christine Composes. You can read it here: Metaphors — Prose & Haiku

Wishing everyone a lovely week. For those of us who live in free countries, let’s not forget on Nov 11th to pause a moment and give thanks for the peace we enjoy and the personal freedoms we have. No, life isn’t perfect, but folks of past generations have sacrificed so much — even their lives — so we can have it this good.

You Can’t Borrow Love

“Something old and something new,” Marielle said as she did up the buttons on the bodice of her gown. “But everything I have on is new. I just can’t think of anything old to add.”

“Well, I can,” said her mother, pulling a small bag out of her pocket. “I brought along one of my grandma’s broaches. Let me pin it right here at your shoulder.”

“Now I need something borrowed and something blue.”

“Something borrowed….that’s your groom,” said Treena.

Marielle heard her mother gasp and saw the glare of reproof she shot at Treena. Her sister had been trying for a humorous note, but there was an unmistakable jab to her words.

Marielle sighed. She supposed Treena was only echoing what everyone was thinking. Marielle lifted her chin in defiance against the gossips. Okay. So she had caught Kirk on the rebound. Renee had dumped him for another, richer, better-looking guy. But Marielle had always liked Kirk and she’d made herself available when he needed a shoulder to cry on. Before long he was returning her affections, then he proposed.

Marielle’s mind went back to the evening she & Kirk announced their engagement to her family. Treena had been sour from the get-go. She’d been less than forthcoming with her congrats and after he’d gone home, Treena had come to her room to talk her out of her plans.

“Can’t you see the obvious, sis? Kirk has been hurt and he may be doing this to spite Renee, but I’m sure he still has feelings for her — if he’d just admit it.”

“So what? I’m going to make Kirk so happy he’ll forget Renee even exists. I love Kirk.”

“Love him as a sweetheart, or love him as a pet project?”

Marielle had scowled at her sister and shooed her out of the bedroom. No one was going to rain on her parade.

She straightened her train and brushed Treena’s snippy remark aside. What happened before doesn’t matter, she told herself for the nth time. I’m going to make Kirk so happy. I’m going to love him so much he’ll forget any feelings he ever had for Renee.

“I borrowed my bridesmaid’s toe ring. And my corsage has a blue ribbon around it. So I’m all set. Let’s be off.”

The next half hour whizzed by and she was climbing out of the car at the church. Next thing she was walking up the aisle to take her place by her groom. Kirk wore a big happy smile as he turned to watch her approach. Perhaps it looked a little forced, a little too bright, but Marielle was confident that his joys would soon be as real as hers.

A couple of hours later they were standing beside the reception table receiving congratulations from an elderly family friend when, out of the corner of her eye, Marielle saw Renee approach. She was alone. What happened to Mr Rich Hunk, Marielle wondered.

Renee paused not far away and glanced toward Kirk, a look of regret on her face. Marielle glanced at Kirk and saw the expression reflected on his face as he returned Renee’s gaze. Then Kirk turned to her again.

She saw a quick flash of dismay in his eyes, then his too-bright smile fell in place again. But in that brief unguarded glance, Marielle recognized the truth.

She’d just make the biggest mistake of her life. You really can’t borrow love.

~~~

I read an account one day of a young girl, about seventeen, who convinced herself that she should marry a young man so she’d have a home for herself and her orphaned siblings. However, at their reception she realized that she’d made an awful mistake, that all her hopes were misplaced. I was trying to capture that feeling in my story.

The Big Bad Pig Reforms

One day my four-year-old grandson was here for a couple of hours while his mom was otherwise occupied, and he was telling me this story:

“At the other grandma’s house we were reading a book. It was a story about three nice wolves and a big bad pig.

“There was a mother wolf and the three nice little wolves. Then the nice wolves had to go and build themselves each a house. And the big bad pig tried to knock their houses down. He did, he knocked down their houses. And the nice wolves ran away.

And the nice wolves ran into a house that was really strong and the big bad pig was going to knock it down, too.”

So what did the big bad pig do,” I asked. “Did he knock the house down?”

“No. He couldn’t. But then you know what happened? The nice wolves opened the door and let the big bad pig in and he became a good pig. Yes! He became a good pig and they were all playing together and everybody was happy.”

I must ask “the other grandma” about this book of hers, I thought. I hadn’t heard this version. No, it sounds very strange indeed. But then my husband went online and found out there is indeed such a book out now. It’s listed on Amazon here: The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.

One little wolf builds his house of cement and the big bad pig comes with a jackhammer. The next one builds his house of bricks and the pig comes with dynamite and blows it up. (Remember we’re living with savvy children these days. No straw and stick houses. No huff and puff.”

Caution: spoiler alert!
Anyway, the big bad pig does knock down all the little wolves houses, but in the end do indeed invite the big bad pig in to play with them and be their friend. He responds by becoming a nice pig. I can see this as the author’s attempt to show children one way of coping with bullies. Make them friends. Not a bad plan at all.

At least it works with some people. While other bullies, hardened and scarred by a life of brutality, would respond to the offer by trashing the house and devouring his intended victims. In this case the wolves. Or, for a really quirky twist, would the nice little wolves end up eating the pig? Wolves might, you know. (Oh, well. I needn’t inject a dose of morbid reality here.)

Some parents will applaud what the Amazon book blurb calls a “delightfully skewed version of the traditional tale. Some will call this approach enlightenment; some will say it’s a disappointment. I haven’t decided, but I do wonder about the long-term effects of turning the traditional villain into nice little heroes and the traditional victims, the three little pigs, into one nasty villain. But if this is the only version the children ever hear….?

What do you think?

Word Press Daily prompt: disappointment

O Molly, I’ll Never Forget!

Hello Everyone,

It’s been awhile. For those of you who don’t follow my main blog, I had my first round of chemo-therapy April 11th & 12th. Each day involved about six hours hooked up to IV. You can read about it here. By now I think I’ve mostly recovered; this week I’m starting to feel more energy and tackle more household tasks.

I may not be doing a lot of fiction stories for awhile, but I still get the urge be-times. Yesterday morning I wrote this scrap of poetry just for fun:

Molly O’Haggerty O’Rourke
my colleen from county o’ Cork
Oh, I’ll soon be sailing
and she’ll soon be wailing
My fortune I seek in New York.

Says Molly O’Haggerty O’Rourke,
“Your colleen from county of Cork
sure, you’ll be forgettin’
as soon as you’re settin’
your eyes on the girls of New York”

I says to her, “Love, don’t be clowned—
a truer love never was found.
I’ll send for you, sweetheart;
sure, we’ll make a new start
and light up the streets of York town.

A Highland Tale

“Oh, it were sich a sorry time for Scotland, ye ken,” the white-haired  storyteller began, “Those were the days of the dreadful Highland clearances, when the English were drivin’ the tenants off their crofts and fillin’ the whole land wi’ their sheep. The highlanders were sorely oppressed. Forbidden tae speak the Gaelic, they were, or tae wear the tartans, or play the pipes.”

Though most of them knew it by heart, the town lads were gathered round him, eager to hear the tale told again of the brave chieftain’s son who died trying to keep his precious bagpipes safe from the British soldiers patrolling the land.

“Down in yon glen is a cave, ye ken, where stout-hearted young Donald was sure he could hide his pipes the whiles, thinkin’ someday the Sassenachs would give up and go home. By the light o’ the full moon he and his best friend snuck down that lane ye’re seein’ there — course it was nae but a wee path then — and stashed his pipes in a safe place inside the cave.”

The local lads squirmed with delight, each envisioning himself as the fearless friend accompanying young Donald down the moonlit trail.

“But some spy had betrayed them…” The storyteller paused to look at his audience with a stern glare. “The lads were but a short way from the cave, headed for home and safety, when they were attacked by half a dozen soldiers. Oh, they were stalwart highland sons and they put up a fierce fight, but they dinna have proper swords and were hopelessly outnumbered. Before long the two were mortally wounded.

“They managed to crawl back intae the cave, but there they died, and there the English left them lie. But young Donald had the last laugh: never did the soldiers find his bagpipes. Legend says his spirit lingers in that cave tae this day, and on bright moonlit nights he comes out tae play his pipes. Many a soul has told of hearin’ them skirlin’ in the night. Some even say they hear the clank of swords as if the lads are still battlin’ the soldiers.”

“I dunna believe that” one young skeptic spoke up.

His friends turned and stared at him, aghast, but he was unrepentant. “There’s nae sich things as ghosts playin’ pipes.”

No one else had words to rebuke such heresy, so the group of boys broke up and went about their business.

That night happened to be a bright moonlit night. A shadowy form made its way down the old lane, taking care to blend in with the shrubs. Soon the old storyteller, a sack in one hand, was entering the cave.

He set down his sack and rummaged around in one of the old shafts until he found a bundle wrapped in old blankets, muttering to himself as he did so, “Great-great-grandpa were a smart man tae make up that nice little tale o’ poor Donald and his friend. Folks needed a bit of superstition tae keep them from snoopin’ here, but it’ll be coming to an end soon enough, I’m fearing’.” He shook his head. “Lads these days are sich skeptics.”

Carefully he unwrapped the bagpipes and carried them outside the cave. He took the instrument in his arms, pumped the bag full of air, and began to play. Soon the wail of the pipes was rolling down the lanes and fields.

A mile back down the lane three lads were creeping along, flashlights in hand. Their leader, the chief heretic himself, was telling the others in low tones, “I know there’s nothing to that old tale.”

A moment later they heard the distinctive wail of the bagpipes. They stopped in their tracks and stared at each other, then all three turned and hightailed it back to town.

After half an hour of playing the pipes, the old storyteller lovingly wrapped them in the blankets and stowed them away. Then, with his sack in one hand and his torch in the other, he made his way along one of the shafts until he found his pick axe. He took it up and began chipping away at the rock around the vein of amethyst.

Very likely someday someone would get up enough nerve to explore this old abandoned mine, but until then he’d carry on profiting from what his great-great grandfather had found.

My response to the Word Press daily prompt: superstition

Over There, They Say

sea.sky
.

.

.

.

.

 

Over there on that island you see the sun is always shining,
the old folks say. All kinds of exotic fruit trees grow, they tell us.
You just have to reach up as you pass and pluck the juiciest fruits dangling in front of you. And the birds, some say, are almost tame.
You can stand and watch as they flutter among the branches all day.
Perhaps even reach out and have one land on your hand if you stay still.

Over there, some declare, are magnificent caves one may explore,
secret spots where pirates in olden days may have stashed their loot.
A vein of silver may be uncovered with just a little digging, they say.
Or gold nuggets might gleam in the streams, just waiting to be picked up.
A man could soon get rich over there.

Ah, if we could only get there, they sigh.

But think of the dangers over there, others remind.
Fierce beasts with razor-sharp claws and teeth, ready to tear a body to bits.
Venomous snakes hanging from every tree and slithering through the tall grass. Moreover,
what if some hostile tribe has already discovered that paradise?

Perhaps, as we stand here gawking, they are busy
sharpening their spears, preparing to defend their island against all invaders.
They’d boil us in coconut oil and eat us for dinner.
And even if they’re peaceable, their customs would surely be bizarre.
Who knows what kind of clothes they wear over there?

So here we linger on the beach, speculating
and dreaming of that land. Imagining its beauties,
quaking over its terrors. For better or for worse,
how can we know, except we go?

Who’ll be the first to build a boat?

Hey! Do I Know You?

quebec-city-202152_640I’m strolling along the quiet alley, soaking in the summer sunshine and glancing into store windows as I pass. In a lot of them I see the same stamped t-shirts, carvings, and miscellaneous ‘Made in China’ key-chains hawked to tourists on every commercial street in every city. We have a few shops back home in Swift Current where I could likely buy the same thing.

But, hey, I’m a tourist here, so why not pick up a few trinkets? I enter one of the tourist traps and come out again with a key-chain for Mom and a stuffed mini-beluga whale for my seven-year-old sister.

If truth be told, I’m not actually a tourist. I came here to Québec City as a summer student after finishing Grade 12 and my primary goal is to become fluent in French. Back in spring I went online and discovered a neat little academy here offering eight week crash courses so I showed the site to my folks.

They were enthused, too. “Learning French will open doors,” Dad said. “If you stay here in Swift Current, knowing French may not be such a big advantage. But if you want to work somewhere else, land a government job, or travel, it’d be a handy thing to have.”

quebec-815376_640So my folks shelled out for the course and lodging, I emptied my precious bank account for spending money, and here I am. I may not be able to afford t-shirts and souvenirs for all the folks back home, but atmosphere is free. So today I’m absorbing the ambience of this historic old town.

Being it’s Saturday and no classes, I decided to come downtown and just mingle. See how much I can pick up from the conversations around me. Get a bit more of a tan on this beautiful summer day. Feels like time to take a break now, though. Sit awhile and sip on a cool glass of iced tea.

I’ve already passed half a dozen little restaurants along this street, with their neat outdoor tables. I come to another with appealing colours — and appealing prices on the posted menu by the door. I get in line and request a table on the patio; soon the hostess leads me to one and I sit down, tossing my shopping bag on the chair.

I catch the eye of the girl sitting alone at the next table and smile. She looks about my age. I wonder if she’s from Québec City or maybe some other part of the province? She definitely looks French. I contemplate starting a conversation, but what if I can’t understand a word she says? Would she be willing to bear with me and help me out if I get stuck?

I suppose a bit about the weather shouldn’t be too hard. I open my mouth, but then shut it again when the waitress shows up with her drink. Anyway, she looks a bit worried. Maybe she has something more important on her mind and hopes I’ll mind my own business?

Then she looks over at me again and sends me a shy smile, like maybe she does want to talk. Oh, dear! What if I really can’t understand a word she says? Come on Emily, I tell myself. Crank up your courage and give it a try.

I begin with “Bonjour. Il fait beau aujourd’hui.”

She nods. “Oui, c’est ça. Est-ce que vous êtes d’ici?”

No, I’m not from here, I mentally answer. Her French doesn’t sound local. Maybe she’s a tourist from some other country? Maybe she’s hoping to make the acquaintance of the locals and here I am trying to take up her time. I’d better tell her the truth.

“No. Je ne suis pas d’ici. Je viens de Swift Current Saskatchewan.”

“Swift Current!” she squeals. “Well, hi! I’m from Moose Jaw.”

“That’s terrific! So close to home,” I exclaim. Then add, “My Aunt and Uncle live in Moose Jaw. I wonder if you know them?”

(Note to non-Saskatchewan folks: Swift Current is about 174 km—108 miles—west of Moose Jaw.)

Using Word Press prompt: precious and Word Press prompt: street