Short Story: A Children’s Nightmare

The children could have spent all day looking at that tombstone. It was the most foreboding piece of marble in the cemetery. But for the children, the size of that tombstone brought along pictures of giants and monsters. And the fact that it said “Better Dead Than Alive” under the name “Jake Hawkins,” couldn’t help but make them think that it was good he was dead. Did he terrorize a village with his footsteps? Did he steal maidens from their wedding days? Did he eat people? Whatever he did in life, there was a celebration in his death.

It might have been that problem that confused Lisa the most. For Lisa did understand death. She understood the concept at least. Her Grandmother still tells the story of Lisa when she was three and they were at the park across the street from Matt’s house. Lisa was playing on the swings and her Grandmother was talking with her Grandfather about who they knew buried in the other graveyard beyond the playground.

Now her Grandfather grew up in a strong religious background and from time to time he would try to convince people of that fact. Especially in his old age he seemed to go back to those studies as a form of support for the coming end. It also seemed to give possibility (when he truly allowed himself to believe) for a hope, feeling and moment of happiness for the people gone.

But her Grandmother was exactly the opposite of her Grandfather. She was an atheist of the strongest kind (actually she had an opinion about everything and every opinion of hers was strong). Her husband and she would spend days arguing about things like a game perfected over the decades of holding hands in their little time.

Well, on this day her Grandmother wanted to take Lisa and go over the hill and visit the tombstones to pay respect to their old friends. Her Grandfather did not like this idea because of two reasons:

  1. Lisa was just a three year old and he didn’t want to take responsibility for what that experience could do to her precious young psyche.
  2. The second (he said) their spirits have moved on so it would be only a waste of time. They were in heaven or wherever. Of course, there was probably a little of his own fear of death associated with that difficulty.

His wife grabbed this argument and sunk her teeth into it like a shark with raw meat. Her argument to number one was that the sooner Lisa is introduced to the problem the less difficult it would be for her as she grew older. It would help her maturity. She also said that she would “If given the opportunity teach her about sex.”

Now while she went on to argue against the “silliness” of number two the mention of the work “Sex,” awakened the Grandfather to a new understanding of reality. Little Lisa will grow up. Little Lisa will fall in love. She will have children. She will have a life and there is a good chance that he won’t be around to see her and the life she creates.  The concept took his breath away. He just never pictured everything going on without him and it was very stunning. Lisa’s children. Lisa’s children’s children. All that time and ages that will go on and on without him. Maybe even someday he will be forgotten? Lost in the eternity of time. And these little moments of perfection with his wife (playing their game) and Lisa laughing on her favorite swing will slip slide away into a growing void. Her beautiful child laughter. Disappearing until it’s gone….

He fought back a tear. If he allowed it to fall, he would never have heard the end of it from his wife. Over the last few years she has had a hard and harder time figuring out what is the game and what is the reality. Oh well, it made them happy; it made her happy. Continue reading

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Short Story: Under The Angelic Glow Of Dusk

“The Time has been catching us off guard,” she said to me and I, still reeling from the wind and the parties, only laughed at her notion and called her mind a good hangover waiting to happen.

She did not like my comments (typical) and shunned me for the first two days of our assignment. This probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much if we weren’t supposed to be wife and husband in this little life moment. On Friday, I got sick of her little games and in a dark corner in a dark moment after breakfast (which consisted of coffee or tea (decaffeinated), corn flakes (dry), and milk (cold).) I confronted her about the so-called importance of our assignment.

As she angrily argued back at me her wings rustled under her silly white dress. She hated me.

I laughed at that and reminded her small mind that she wasn’t capable of hate. Her and her little angels and their white hair and white eyes and white gleaming teeth never hate- Even those easy to. She then said it may not be hate but it was the closest she had felt to it. I had to laugh at her honesty, even though just the sound of her voice annoyed me.

She then stated that she was very sure she hated the sound of my laughter (it is a dark loud, booming laugh that echoes with screams of those inside) and then went and compared it to angry bells banging against the side of her ears. All the noises of lost times.

We had two days and she was going to use them. “For what?” I asked comically (I already knew the answer).

“To spread a little happiness,” she said….

…So Hope spent her days sprinkling the hollows of the Retirement Community with her magical daydreams, moonbeams and silly wishes of joy. I, I being of knowledge and reality and logic pure, wallowed in the dark corners talking with the spiders under my robes. Continue reading

My Christmas Story “Kris and Me” is on Green Spot Blue

Mele Kalikimaka readers!

My Christmas short story “Kris and Me” is being showcased on GreenSpotBlue.com for the holidays (and if you haven’t visited that site before, you should. It’s an interesting mix of literature, parenting, and hip finds on the internet). Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the story:

Let’s get this out of the way first. Kris has always had a magnificent beard. Even as a freshmen, when the rest of us were dreaming for just the hint of a stubble, Kris had a full rich beard. Yes, the girls would giggle about it behind his back, but all of us boys were jealous, because we thought it made him look rugged and a little dangerous.

I once asked about his beard. “How can you stand it, Kris?”

“What do you mean?”

“Doesn’t it drive you a little crazy? Isn’t it scratchy? Don’t you want to shave?”

He merely shrugged in response to it. “I like who I am.”

Strangely, that response made me a little jealous too.

You can read my entire story here. I hope you will check it out!

Kris and Me: A Christmas Story in 3 Parts

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Let’s get this out of the way first. Kris has always had a magnificent beard. Even as a freshmen, when the rest of us were dreaming for just the hint of a stubble, Kris had a full rich beard. Yes, the girls would giggle about it behind his back, but all of us boys were jealous, because we thought it made him look rugged and a little dangerous.

I once asked about his beard. “How can you stand it, Kris?”

“What do you mean?”

“Doesn’t it drive you a little crazy? Isn’t it scratchy? Don’t you want to shave?”

He merely shrugged in response to it. “I like who I am.”

Strangely, that response made me a little jealous too.

Mountain man was the best way to explain Kris’s look in those early days with his heavy and muddy boots, black pants, and thick red coat. He always dressed as if it was winter, even during the warmest days.

Kris and I were locker buddies. This was not out of friendship at first, but because our last names were close together, my name being Stewart Kristin. Only two people in my life has ever called me Stewie though. The first was my grandmother who I loved dearly, the second was Kris. The first time Kris did it, I blinked a little surprised.

“Is it okay?” he asked. He almost sounded nervous, noticing my reaction.

“It’s fine,” I said and for some reason it sounded good coming from him.

With the approval Kris laughed. Kris always had a deep, rich laugh that came right from his belly. And Kris would laugh a lot. I mean, seriously, alot. He laughed at every bad joke, and he told many; usually ones that were far too clean for a high schooler’s taste.

The only thing he would not laugh at was another’s misfortune. He was always the first to stop a bully or a fight, being there before even a teacher or vice-principal had a whiff of it. His stern and disappointed look would immediately cool the situation. No one wanted to be on Kris’s bad side… ever. Continue reading

Only a few days left to win an autographed copy of ME STUFF (the new book)!

On July 15, two readers will win an autographed copy of my new book, ME STUFF. Have you signed up yet? What are you waiting for?  Click on the link below; it is just calling to you, man!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Me Stuff by Scott D. Southard

Me Stuff

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends July 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

ME STUFF is a collection of 40 personal and fun posts from this site. Here is the description from the back cover:

Thieves, psychics, evil poets, mad men, car companies, literary greats, tornadoes, models, vasectomies, bankers, children, Satanists, princesses, truckers, comics, rock stars, strippers, superheroes…

Me Stuff is a collection of some of the most popular blogposts from Scott Southard’s writing site “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard.” Made for both the fan and the newbie, Me Stuff has something for everyone… Well, except for those who don’t like entertaining stories. This book can’t help those people.

Since I created it for my followers on this site, I made it extra-affordable, only $1.99 as an eBook (here) and $8.99 in print (here).  If you want to know more first (kick the literary tires), I shared an excerpt from the book recently, this link. It is called “Poisoning the Genius.” It’s about that awkward moment we all have experienced… when you poison a professor who is also a literary legend.  (Oh wait, was that just me?)

Good luck to all of the entries!

Book Review: From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury

When Ray Bradbury died Entertainment Weekly listed some of Bradbury’s books that their readers might not have read. These were not the classics, but more like hidden gems for readers to discover. From the Dust Returned was one of the books listed, which is what drove me to pick it up.

From the Dust Returned is the story of a house filled with ghosts, the undead, and other supernatural creations. There is one human living with them, a young orphan boy named Timothy, and it will be his fate to write about them.

For me, upon my reading, I had two reactions. First, I am not sure why Entertainment Weekly listed this as one to discover. I could have easily named a handful that would have fit more perfectly into that distinction (Did they just call the publisher? Did they just Google?). The second is the untapped potential for the work, leaving me with the feeling I read the shadow of a good book; not the good book itself.

Ray Bradbury stated that he had spent fifty years working on this book, but with an imaginative mind like Bradbury I really have no idea what that means. He was always creating, always generating works. Chances are, for me, when a book is not being moved forward it is for a good reason, I am waiting for that lightning bolt to truly ignite the creation with a Frankenstein scream of “It’s alive!” Continue reading

Upon The Ground: Progress

Well, this is it. The last story from my collection Upon The Ground. It is a stream-of-consciousness literary piece entitled “Progress.” I am pretty proud of it, and if you have been reading the collection, it ties in quite a few of the other stories as well (Not that you need to know that to enjoy the story).

Here is the beginning of the piece:

“Progress”

…death sneaks in like a viper slithering in the mud of existence aching for some flesh to bite into, reeling it’s way into your body, up and up past your slowing heart past your feeling lungs, your paling face and eating into your brain. it takes your memories and sinks you into it’s life. oh god, i’m dying. i can see it in her eyes. she has beautiful EYES. they are so blue. i’m looking up at her and trying to smile. she is holding my hand, so sweaty. she is trying to talk to me…. shhh….. shhh…. her lips are shaking. why is everything white? is this a hospital? i’ve never been to a hospital before. ironic that the one time i go to a house of healing is to die. i’m dying. i felt fine yesterday. such a wonderful day yesterday. all my family was there and i cooked outside. the sun was a bright red and i held her close to me. such a perfect day.  the sky was colored with red, purple and blue as the sun set and her skin felt so soft. it slipped away so fast. so, so very fast. death is not a fair creature. it is hungry only, fangs glistening. i can feel it taking my body. i feel so weak. i can barely keep my eyes open. i want to look at her. i want to see her. fight this. you can fight this. you’ve fought so much. you’re better than this. you want to live. i want to live. i can fight this. she looks at me concerned. she can see the pain in my face. i need the pain. i need to stay. the pain is what make me mortal. the pain is what makes us mortal.

I want to thank GreenSpotBlue for choosing my book to share with their readers. Their support for my writing has always meant a lot to me. If you would like to check out the book, the link are up at the Upon The Ground page on this site. Thank you for reading!

Upon The Ground: Under The Angelic Glow Of Dusk

Today is the penultimate short story from my collection Upon The Ground, which is being shared online via www.greenspotblue.com. Today’s story is entitled “Under The Angelic Glow Of Dusk.” Take from it what you will.

Here is the beginning of this little strange tale:

“Under The Angelic Glow Of Dusk”

“The Time has been catching us off guard,” she said to me and I, still reeling from the wind and the parties, only laughed at her notion and called her mind a good hangover waiting to happen.

She did not like my comments (typical) and shunned me for the first two days of our assignment. This probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much if we weren’t supposed to be wife and husband in this little life moment. On Friday, I got sick of her little games and in a dark corner in a dark moment after breakfast (which consisted of coffee or tea (decaffeinated), corn flakes (dry), and milk (cold).) I confronted her about the so-called importance of our assignment.

As she angrily argued back at me her wings rustled under her silly white dress. She hated me.

I laughed at that and reminded her small mind that she wasn’t capable of hate. Her and her little angels and their white hair and white eyes and white gleaming teeth never hate- Even those easy to. She then said it may not be hate but it was the closest she had felt to it. I had to laugh at her honesty, even though just the sound of her voice annoyed me.

She then stated that she was very sure she hated the sound of my laughter (it is a dark loud, booming laugh that echoes with screams of those inside) and then went and compared it to angry bells banging against the side of her ears. All the noises of lost times.

You can read the rest of the story here. You can also catch up on the previous stories from Upon The Ground via the links on this page. Thank you for reading!

Upon The Ground: The WOMB Story

The twelfth story from my collection Upon The Ground is up at www.greenspotblue.com.  It is called “The WOMB Story.” On a side note, part of this was inspired by something Ray Bradbury said about his memory.  I’ll just leave it at that.

Here is a snippet from the beginning of the story:

“The WOMB Story”

I can recall EVERYTHING.

I remember being three and chasing clouds with my dog and being one and being rocked to sleep by my mom (“Hush little baby don’t say a word. Momma’s gonna buy you….”), but, more amazingly, I can remember being in the womb. I remember it because it was the safest I had ever felt in my life.

It was warm.

My mom’s heart was always there and I could feel connected to it (Thump. Thump. Thump.). I was connected to nature. Life in its purest moment. I could feel hands touching the stomach. I remember kicking and the taste of my thumb and the cord and the echoes of the voices outside laughing and talking.

Those memories are what warp my dreams today.

I can’t tell my wife. She won’t understand…. Well, she will claim to understand, but she won’t. It was my wild imagination that attracted her to me in the first place. She’s a Kindergarten teacher (“You’re like a grown child.” “How am I supposed to take that?” “As a compliment. You treat everything as a new experience. I love to watch your eyes.”).

You can read the rest of the story here. And in the Upon The Ground page you can find links to the other stories already from the collection. Thanks for reading!

Ray Bradbury

It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed. Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer.

-Dandelion Wine

I apologize if this sounds overly dark, but the last of my childhood writing heroes is gone.

One by one, as I get older and older, they slip away. I remember when I heard of Kurt Vonnegut’s passing. I was backing up my car from the driveway… and it was a normal day, nothing special about it. It all felt so very bland. And all they had to say on Morning Edition was “So it goes” and I knew what they were about to say. I parked my car in front of my house and hung my head. It was about ten minutes before I restarted my car and the rest of my day felt slow.

Growing up though Ray Bradbury always felt like more than just an author. He felt like a mentor, a friend; and with his vast library of work, He always felt “available” to me—if that is the right word to use—because there was always something new to discover. Continue reading