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Happy Holidays, a Short Story and I'm Dashing Update

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Holidays, and joyful celebrations with your families during the holiday season.

This will likely be my last post until 2023, so I want to wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year. I hope your 2023 is filled with love and friendship.

(Friendly reminder: books make great gifts. Please support your local bookstore!).

I wrote this word challenge story seven years ago for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle.

I think you'll be able to guess why I chose to share it with you.

The words I had to incorporate are in italics.

Community Spirit

She could be seen pushing her squeaky shopping cart that carried her meagre possessions in plastic bags, along Brock Street in Uxbridge. People said there was something mysterious, something murky, about her past. Rumours were rampant. So, I decided to ask her.

I found her feeding the feral cats that live under the teetering sheds lining the railroad tracks. She didn't acknowledge me, staying bent over as she stroked one of the cats - which looked more like a monkey with its long tail, big eyes, and heart-shaped face. This one didn't act wild like the others.

"I haven't got it," she said. I could sense stiffness and tension as she straightened her lean, neglected body. I would have offered her a free massage in my chiropractic clinic, but Cloe, my receptionist, would have had a tantrum. The woman was dirty, bedraggled, and exuded a strong musky odour.

"I haven't got the tater. I didn't take it." She must have thought I was there to nab her for stealing, probably shoplifting.

"I don't know anything about a tater." What is a tater, anyway? "I'm just interested in your story."

"I don't have a story."

"I mean the story of your life."

"I haven't got a life. You can see that for yourself."

She didn't sound angry, just broken and sad. So, I persisted.

"Why are you living on the streets of Uxbridge?"

"I haven't got a house."

"How come?"

"I just haven't."

Her non-answers made me feel discombobulated. She had revealed nothing.

"This is a small community and people are wondering how you've fallen on hard times. There are rumours about you, and many of us are concerned and would like to help, in a way that's okay with you. So, I thought I'd ask you directly. But I realize I've been impertinent. I apologize." I turned to leave.

"Well, if you put it like that. Have you heard of Dr. Michael Mulligan?"

I turned back to face her.

"Yes, the pathologist who was disgraced recently because it came to light that the evidence he'd given was often incorrect. Several women were wrongly convicted of murdering their infants. Very tragic."

"Well, I could smash his head in. Not literally, but I confess I dream about it. Not only did my beautiful baby die, but I was found guilty of murder based on Dr. Mulligan's so-called expert testimony. A living hell. And even though I've now been exonerated, I feel the world has permanently marked me as a murderer. I lost everything. I have nothing. I expect you're sorry you asked. And I don't want your pity."

"I don't know what to say."

"I'll have to leave this town now I've told you. I'm trying to be invisible, to forget, to go numb."

Some intuitive niggle made me ask the next question.

"You seem well-educated. What were you doing before all this happened?"

"I was a registered masseuse in a chiropractic clinic."

I'll let you guess the rest. Thanks to the good people of Uxbridge, this story has a happy ending or rather a happy beginning. And if you ever want a great massage, drop into my clinic and ask for Margaret. And, if she's not there you'll find her feeding the feral cats that live near the railroad tracks.

Copyright Vicky Earle 2022

Update on I'm Dashing

I'm Dashing has let us know that he's not all that interested in horse racing.

He tried, but he hasn't inherited the incredible competitive spirit of his mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother!

Thanks to our trainer, Darwin Banach, I'm Dashing has found a home in Alberta and a new career (we heard it could be barrel racing!).

This is a picture of him looking 'chilled' in his forever home.

Although we miss him, we're thrilled that he's gone to a good home with caring people.

He has a great disposition and we're sure that they'll love him!

Enjoy the holidays. Happy reading!!!

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