My "free" anthology and poetry books have a cover facelift

>> Sunday, May 21, 2017

Thanks so much to Ryn Katryn who did the artwork for both covers. (She does lovely work, is easy to work with and has very reasonable rates, if you're looking for a cover).

As soon an added bonus, here's the first story from Conjuring Dreams and the only poem that matches from Musings of a Nascent Poet.* This is, in fact, my first short story and one of my earliest poems and they are the only ones that correlate between the two books. 


The room was a quiet one, decorated with faded toys from decades before and home-made quilts, but neat.  Too neat.  The bed was made without a wrinkle.  Every toy, and there were many, seemed "placed" rather than thrown in the half-hazard way that children have.  One of them, a tattered teddy, sat up almost straight on the flawless pillow, dulled by the same layer of dust that blanketed everything in the room.  Even the meager sunshine that crept through the dingy window seemed dusty.

It had not always been so.  Long ago, the sun, that now shone half-heartedly through the neglected window, came bursting, a dancing golden haze that seemed ecstatic to play in a room bounding with unkempt toys.  It waltzed over the then more vibrant quilts and even shone on a bear every bit as tattered as the one alone in the room so many years later.  But the sun never seemed happier, nor glowed more golden, then when shining on Ginny's golden hair.  His Ginny.

She had needed no sunshine but brought her own with her golden hair.  She brought clear skies with blue blue eyes and spread joy with a smile more beautiful than anything else nature could dream up.  Her family called her "Dimples" and loved her for her laughter, but he knew her as Sunshine for that was what she was. 

And, as much as Charley adored her, she had loved him just as much.  Since the beginning of time, he had gladly inhabited that comfy place beneath her arm, had gladly given up his looks for her.  Like most favored toys, he looked ready for the ragbag with one button eye always just on the verge of falling off and one arm not quite the right color.  Mama's hands had mended him times beyond counting, but the worse he looked, the more Ginny loved him. 

And nothing else mattered.

Sometimes, of course, she had to leave him behind.  When she left, she would place him just so and say, "Now, Charley, you just stay right there because I want to find you when I come back.  And I'll be right back."  Then she would tweak his position, which was usually crooked, and leave the room, but she'd always peek back for one last word, "Don't move, because I'll be back.  Wait for me."  Then she would dance away in that peculiar rhythmless dance that children do and grownups can never copy, but makes them feel young watching.

Sooner or later she would come back and say, "Did you miss me, Charley?  I'm glad you didn't leave because I just don't know what I would do if I came back and you weren't here."  She would pick him up and give him a hug that thoroughly crushed his stuffing before installing him under her arm so she could go about child business.

 And he was still there, waiting...

There had come a day when she didn't dance and her skin was red with fever.  She rolled and moaned, shoving Charley up against her chin when the pain was too much.  "Mama, it hurts so bad.  Make it go away."   Mama would wring her hands and In a few moments they would leave and Ginny would look into Charley's sloppy face and say, "Charley, I feel so bad.  Why do I feel so bad?  Will you give me a teddy kiss and I just know it will make me feel better."  And, of course, he would.  All of his kisses were for her alone, for no better purpose than to take away her pain if only for an instant.  For moment, she would smile, but soon she would be tossing, crushing Charley beneath her as she fidgeted through her uncomfortable nights and days.  And Charley was there with her.

Mama and the doctor could leave when her crying hurt them too much, but not Charley.  It was easier for them to close the door and pretend that Ginny wasn't suffering, that she wasn't there.  It was too difficult for Mama, wringing her hands, to listen to Ginny moan, but Charley did.  It was too hard for the doctor to stay and watch a sweet little girl eaten up with fire while he stood helpless, but Charley shared that fire with her.  Someone had to stay with her.  Someone had to give her teddy kisses.  She needed someone...and Charley was there.

Then, one night, she stopped turning, stopped crying, stopped moaning, her skin finally giving up the horrible fever, but no one was happy.  Everyone cried.  They said they would never be happy again, that there was no joy without their "Dimples."  They took frail body away and straightened the room, placing the cherished teddy bear on Ginny's pillow.  And closed the door.

And he waited.  All of the love a child pours into something can't just disappear.  So, he waited.

The rest of the family eventually became happy again, finding joy in a different set of blue eyes, a different set of dimples.  There were always more children, more grandchildren.  For them.

But not for him.  Someone could live without dimples, but without Sunshine?  There was a black hole in him waiting for Ginny.  What if she came back and he was gone?  So, he waited.

Of course, stuffed animals don't have feelings, they're not alive...


They are inanimate objects with no more life than a pair of shoes...

"I don't know what I'd do if I came back and you weren't here."


Teddy bears don't have hearts.


There's no such thing as a living teddy bear.


"You wait here, Charley, because I'm gonna be right back."

The button eye, dangling on its ancient thread hangs like a big black tear with no sunshine to touch it.  There is a single blonde hair on the pillow beside him, but it doesn't shine.


"I'll be back, Charley, so you wait here."

What life is there without sunshine?


Yes, Virginia, there is a Charley bear.

"Wait for me."

So.  He waits.


There once was a girl, young Virginia Dare,
Who, bursting with love, lived to lavish her care
On a rag-tattered critter, Charley the Bear.

So many embraces to his battered head,
So many kisses as they romped on the bed.
"What a sweet twosome," the old people said.

But nothing is perfect and Ginny got ill,
And nothing could help her, not potion or pill.
The grownups around her got terribly still.

Burning with fever, she finally gave in
To the fight for her life which she could not win,
And breathed one last time, surrounded by kin.

But parents and uncles, they have other dears
To bring joy and love, to wipe away tears;
Charley had no one.  He'd been hers all those years.

He could not cry in anguish or scream out in pain.
As all through his existance, he couldn't complain.
Now was no different; he was silent again.

But though he was silent, his heartbreak was clear
To those who would listen, but not with their ears
For his was the torment that no one could hear...

A room in the house, away back in the rear,
There rests a small bed with an old teddy bear.
On the quilt by its foot lays one golden hair.

A bear has no feelings.  It really can't cry
For one little girl who was its earth and sky,
But if you look closely, there's a tear in its eye.

*Note the links above are for Smashwords where the books are available for free. On the box with links, you'll find instructions for installing kindle versions on your kindle or app. If you buy it from Amazon, it will cost you $0.99, but it's free on Nook and Kobo.


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