A Novel Romance #FridayFictioneers

Photo credit @Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields

If you missed the story of Mr. Edwards and his stumble into a new century you can read about him here. For more entertaining flash fiction please follow the link to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, the weekly host of Friday Fictioneers.

Genre: Novel Time Travel
A Novel Romance
by Tracey Delaplain

Mr. Edwards, having recently jumped to the conclusion that life outside of his novel would be more rewarding than living within its confines, had miscalculated the consequences of empty pockets and limited word resources in this new century. Continue reading

Saving Happiness

Friday Fictioneers

Copyright Claire Fuller

Casey handed the death certificate to the vault matron in exchange for the safety deposit key. Baffled, her father was not the type of man to have secrets, she allowed a few tears and sorted through his memories: two sets of dog tags, an unused train ticket to Denver dated June 4, 1943, a tiny gold wedding band and a photo of her father in dress blues smiling and embracing a beautiful stranger in an Army Nurse Corps uniform. Casey smiled at his happiness, glad that there was no one left to ask. She closed the box on his past and wondered if she ever really knew her father.

For more flash fiction @Friday Fictioneers drop by the library of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields here.

When We Are Just Doctors

I write about health and wellness, life and death, and human suffering through fiction and narrative medicine but this post is profoundly personal and was painful to share. My family has suffered many losses in the last few years. Both of my parents and my oldest sister have passed away in the last three years. My parents died peacefully at home with the family at their bedside. In contrast my sister recently died in a local hospital and this is my experience in the last hours of her life. Hospitals are terrible places to die. There is no peace or dignity in a hospital death.

This is a photo taken with my dear sisters eight weeks before my oldest sister passed away.

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When We Are Just Doctors

“I’m just the night doc,” you said. You said it with emphasis as if that explained everything and dismissed your incompetence, your lack of compassion, your failure to care. Unfortunately my sister was “just the patient”, who lay suffering hours before her death and the RN was “just the nurse” withholding the morphine that the daytime doctor had ordered for air hunger and agitation. The nurse called you in to manage me when I asked her to give my sister a touch of morphine; she was crying out in pain from her hypoxia. A civilized, yet ridiculous argument ensued about the dangers of respiratory depression in a patient who was clearly dying. You and I, physicians and colleagues, were arguing over 2 mg of morphine when you said, “I’m just the night Doc”. I’m still shaking my head over the absurdity. Instead of assessing the situation you felt the need to pass the buck until morning. Does no one die on your watch? You were so busy, not being a physician, that you must have missed the oxygen saturation in the 70’s and the flipped T waves predicting my sister’s imminent demise. The life and death stakes were not high, the end result would have been the same. We both knew that, so why did you feel the need to distance yourself from your decision to withhold medication with a just statement? “I’m just” means that you are under no obligation to act. You were telling me in essence that you were a just an overnight placeholder in the ICU. When we are just doctors we are not our best selves.

A more honest, although equally lame statement would have been, “It’s not my job”. However that declaration begs the questions as to whose job is it to orchestrate patient care after dark? Having been a doctor for three decades I can’t remember a time when my obligation to care for patients stopped at dusk. That implies that patients can only expect our best selves in the daylight hours. Did I miss the memo, has medicine gone so far away from patient care that this shift work mentality is the norm or were you “just an ass”? What if you’re only a Wednesday doctor but you’re working on Friday, will you wait until Wednesday to treat? The absurdity boggles my mind.

I don’t blame you for my sister’s death, everyone knew she was dying. She had asked for resuscitation measures to be stopped. However, in saying I don’t want extraordinary measures she never said, “I welcome a painful, oxygen starved, horrible death.” I had promised to be there with her and I had explained the likely outcome. She trusted me to watch over her as a sister, not as a physician and I couldn’t do it. My real anger is directed inward and I can’t forgive myself for leaving the hospital. I let you drive me away in the last few hours of my sister’s life, because I was angry and powerless. I couldn’t “just be a sister”. Everyone of us as healthcare professionals that night had a duty to care and we all failed due to our individual arrogance.

I used your lack of compassion as my excuse to avoid facing the last three hours of her life. We wear many hats as physicians but can we ever just be family members? The family relies on us, to translate complex medical speak, to help them understand the big picture and to act as liaisons with other healthcare providers. We usually do this willingly and in my experience, it unfortunately also allows us to keep our distance from our own very painful human experiences. I know that I am much stronger in a medical crisis when I am in “doctor mode”. You, the night doc and the night nurse wouldn’t let me be a doctor that night, thus the power struggle at the bedside. I would love to give you credit for urging me be the sister instead of the doctor, a much healthier way to grieve, but that wasn’t your intent. You made it clear that there would be no team decisions despite the fact that I had been there all night, knew my sister’s wishes intimately and had watched her oxygen saturation plummet and the T waves dip. If I hadn’t been a doc, would you have been more compassionate towards my family? Were you practicing defensive medicine because I was there? Who better to understand compassionate palliative medicine than me, your senior colleague?

As we kept our distance from death by arguing a moot point, my middle sister ignored us and kept her promise to my oldest sister. She prayed, “Hail Mary full of grace” softly in my sister’s ear, a comfort to both of these women of faith. She did not distance herself, she immersed herself in the process of helping another die. If we had set our collective arrogance aside perhaps we could have acted as a team and stayed in the moment with a suffering fellow human being.

Patients are never just patients; my sister was a vibrant and brave mother, sister, wife and friend. All of us failed to recognize what a profound privilege it would have been to assist another to die with dignity and grace. None of us were there three hours later when my sister passed away with a team that included a kind nurse, a compassion physician and my sister with faith. I can’t forgive either of us for being “just doctors”, there’s no dignity in that.

Halibut in Burst Tomato Wine Sauce

Halibut in Burst Tomato Wine Sauce

Halibut in Burst Tomato Wine Sauce

Fish is a fabulous source of low fat protein and omega 3 fatty acids. It’s perfect for a healthy lifestyle. I’ve added a vitamin rich white wine sauce of heirloom tomatoes, lemon and capers for a burst of color and incredible fresh flavor. This dish is fancy enough for company but easy for an “any night” meal. And fancy enough for my pals at FiestaFriday.net

Halibut In Burst Tomato, Wine Sauce

Ingredients:
16 ounces of Halibut cut into 4 pieces (any firm white fish would work)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons butter
1 cup heirloom “cherry” tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons capers drained
3 slices preserved lemon or fresh lemon slices
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet. Salt and pepper each side of the fish and add to heated oils. Sear fish 3 minutes per side, remove from pan and set aside. Deglaze the pan with wine and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer until tomatoes burst about 8 minutes. Return fish to pan and simmer 5 minutes until fish is opaque and flakes. Don’t over cook the fish.
Serve fish with sauce.

If your diet allows, serve with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

The Gutter Sprite’s Oasis, #BlogBattle Week#23

This is a continuation of the adventures of Etoile the fairy and the Gutter Sprite.
Here’s the beginning of my flash fairy tale. I’m combining two flash fiction challenges today #BlogBattle and Sunday Photo Fiction. It isn’t Ground Hog Day, I did post the Sunday Photo Fiction story but I felt that Etoile needed a few more words to really bring out her sparkling, mischievous personality. Enjoy

Sunday Photo Fiction

Etoile urgently traced a pattern of stays and sheets with her willowy hand. The indentured firefly was bound to her index finger being made one with the artist and her masterpiece. She outlined the rigging of the great frigate, bringing it alive with sparks of luminescence, creating a mirage that appeared to sway against the rough sea.
The mural would cost Etoile dearly, for the tiny gossamer fairy had bartered with the moon and coerced the wind, risking the currency of her soul in order to raise the life-sized ship from the thin night air. With a finishing touch she spun the sounds of clanking halyards and the snap of sails.

“Let the Gutter Sprite top that,” she threw down a challenge vowing to win this year’s top prize at the Annual Fae Arts Festival. Careless to a fault, her debts would come due, but she refused to accept a hundredth defeat at this her last competition.

The Gutter Sprite’s Oasis
By Tracey Delaplain
Genre: Flash Fairy Tale

I shall pixelate you, Etoile” shouted Luna as she sunk beneath the horizon, yielding the day to the sun in defeat. “You promised,” her voice being swallowed by the mountains. “I didn’t actually promise, fairies can’t lie, I just implied that I would pay for the extra illumination,” Etoile answered and flitted beneath a rose petal where the last moonbeams couldn’t reach her. “No one will make a pixie out of me,” the tiny shimmering fairy announced with a huff of bravado.

“Firefly, come, we have but fourteen hours of sunlight and we must find a way to repay the moon. She did not much like my fairy gold and she can be so crabby at moonset. Pixelate indeed!  She wouldn’t do it, would she?” The firefly lazily buzzed out of the amulet at Etoile’s waist, “Hmm? Yes, I believe she will. You are broke and you seem to be confused as to what constitutes a truth versus a lie. I’m afraid you are the Gutter Sprite now and you’re a sore loser too.” Etiole frowned remembering her defeat at the hands of her frenemy. Not only had she lost the outdoor illumination division but she had borrowed the moonlight to fuel the illusion without permission, leaving the moon in a snit.

“You have to admit that Fleur’s art project was stunning this year. She deserved to win, again,” Firefly continued adding fuel to the fire. He loved to see Etoile seethe. Her wings would pucker and her tiny brows would furrow giving her the look of a water nymph.

“Any fairy can conjure up an oasis; a couple of palm trees, a bit of blue water and a few fish. I created a Man o’ War out of sea air.”
“Your ship sunk!”
“It was the winds fault. He promised a fresh breeze last night and delivered a squall.”
“His word is apparently at least as good as yours. Even fairies can’t control the wind. You should have adjusted your sails.”
“Whatever,” she fumed remembering Fleur’s winning entry.

The oasis had been surrounded by a legion of humans wearing swirling silk gowns and bejeweled turbans. Some sat astride strange golden animals with humped backs while others lounged on the backs of snarling ebony colored cats. Waterfalls spilled from thin air into a pool of shimmering silver. There were fish in every color of the rainbow.

Firefly interrupted her thoughts, “The fairy judges really enjoyed the feast of sugar threads spun into puffs. Kind of a dirty trick I’ll admit, but what a great idea; clouds of pink sugar.”
“You aren’t helping, Fly. I will get even with her but first we must deal with the moon.” Etoile declared.
The firefly yawned, “Let me sleep while you scheme.” Fireflies are known to lose interest quickly.
“Wake up. If I am pixelated then you, my sparkly friend, will be made a common house fly.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“I have a mind to do it anyway.”
“Fine, I’ll help, what’s left in our stores?”
Etoile unzipped her tiny backpack and emptied the contents onto the dew speckled grass. She picked through the bits and bobs: goose fluff, one antenna, a mouse ear, pixie snot, a tiara and a kitchen sink. Her tiny fairy brain whirled and sputtered finding no simple solution. “Hmm, we may need to borrow a few elements,” scratching her fairly tiny nose.  “What does Luna want, besides my head on a pixie’s body?” she asked.
“What does any moon want, fame, fortune, love, beauty?” he suggested, flitting around Etoile’s left ear making it twitch. Etoile batted at the firefly making him laugh and buzz away.

“The moon is cold, aloof and….. VAIN!  That’s it. We will give her the illusion of beauty, she’s so jealous of the Sun’s set. Tonight when she rises the sky will be red and we will weave the clouds, draping her in gossamer threads of gold and silver. We can borrow a few illusions from the Gutter Sprite’s oasis. She won’t notice, besides she will be off gloating at the Fairy Art Ball. The wind will help; he has a short memory and is easily fooled. We will adorn the evening sky with new constellations of panthers and camels, you can paint those.  Do you think lightening would be over the top? Does Lightening owe us any favors?”

“Uh, no but when has that every stopped you?”

“Oooh, I bet Luna would love those pink sugar clouds. I just know that all will be forgiven.”  Etoile laughed, her eyes shining with revenge, “The oasis will be destroyed and the Gutter Sprite will finally be defeated.”

Firefly sparked and sighed, “What could possibly go wrong with that plan?”

To Challenge a Gutter Sprite

Sunday Photo Fiction

Etoile urgently traced a pattern of stays and sheets with her willowy hand. The indentured firefly was bound to her index finger being made one with the artist and her masterpiece. She outlined the rigging of the great frigate, bringing it alive with sparks of luminescence, creating a mirage that appeared to sway against the rough sea. Continue reading

An Emptiness – Friday Fictioneers

Friday fictioneers

Photo credit @Madison Woods

An Emptiness

Max lie awake, restless, the campfire crackling, sending sparks towards the clouded moon. He wondered about the new kid’s story, “Idiot, nearly got his self killed falling off a west bound.”

Max gathered stories and every hobo had one, it always came down to gnawing hunger. Truth be told, an empty belly wasn’t the only hunger that put a drifter on the rails but it sure enough would stick with ya.

“A man gets starved for permanence: a warm bed, a soft woman, a kid, anything that he can call his own; leaves ya with an emptiness that no amount of grub can fill.”

For more Friday Fictioneers visit @Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields here.

The Reluctant Prophet

Hill of Cashall

#BlogBattle brought to you by Rachael Ritchey, author of the Beauty Thief

The prompt this week is prophet.
Genre: Fantasy YA
Word Count: 1000

The Reluctant Profit
By Tracey Delaplain

Moiré lifted her cloak and stepped over the beckoning puddle, hesitating just long enough to catch her reflection. “Don’t look. Do not look,” she chided in the direction of her reflection. Failing to heed her own advice, her gaze locked on the water which was now swirling in the stagnant air, a vision taking hold against her will.

The small boy was ashen with rasping breath, sweat dripping from his brow and his life light fading. She had seen this child in the village but didn’t recognize the woman kneeling at his side wailing. The mother’s grief, however, was unmistakable and universal.

Moiré reached a hand toward the reflection but the vision cleared and the child disappeared leaving her spent and bereft. Falling to the damp ground Moiré begged, ” Why me Auntie? What good is a vision with half the pieces missing? Why?” The air was thick and fetid; Clara, cold in her grave, did not answer.

A fortnight had passed since her Aunt’s death and Moiré’s visions had increased in magnitude every day since. Thinking their time together would be endless, she had skipped out of her lessons with Clara more often than not. All the pleading in the world couldn’t compete with Moiré’s reluctance to carry the mantle, “I am no prophet,” she had insisted pushing back at her beloved Aunt.

The silence of the burial ground was breached by the snap of a twig and a vaguely familiar voice. “A vision was it?” the traveler extended his hand offering assistance, “May I?” Moiré shook her head no and rose from a crumpled heap of skirts and cloak with as much dignity as possible, swiping at a tear.

“Do I know you Sir?”

“Did you not see me coming?”

“You have me at a disadvantage I’m afraid, my head was down when you approached, I did not see you.”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it. I have frequented your dreams many times, Moiré. “I am at your service ma’am,” not offering his name. He extended his hand palm up in the same manner he would approach a skittish horse. The man was dressed in a dusty black cloak, his boots scuffed and well-worn; a costume of sorts she sensed. He was too tall and broad for an ordinary traveler. He was out-of-place in space or time; she wasn’t sure which and was convinced that she could care less.

“You have the look of a bard,” turning away dismissing him with the insult, “your tale does not ring true. Good day Sir.” His handsome face and piercing violet eyes were perhaps familiar but she did not dream. Dreams were pleasant escapes for other people, a charming manifestation of ordinary wishes. She had been cursed with visions. “You know nothing of my dreams,” her voice cracking with a deep sadness, for she had once dreamt of a normal life with ordinary thoughts and every day challenges.

He continued as if he’d read her mind, “You aren’t normal and it’ll do you little good to deny your destiny. You’ve scarcely learned anything, wallowing in your childish rebellion.” Moiré kept walking, her heart pounding, “How did he know my name, only Clara called me Moire?” she wondered.

His voice softened, “Are they not painful Little One, the visions?” Her steps stuttered and he knew she was listening, “The visions will keep coming, as will I. You can learn to control them.” Under his breath he whispered, “If you weren’t so pig-headed.”

“I heard that. Be gone,” she commanded and waved a hand in dismissal.

“Call me when you grow up, Sweetheart, if there’s still time. I fear your gift may well destroy you.” He could not walk away despite his anger. Clara had warned him that she would be his greatest opponent.

She will test your patience but you are the only Teacher who can reach her. Our people will be lost without a prophet. I have failed, my love was too protective. She needs your warrior’s strength to succeed.

He reached deep for a weapon she would understand, “Silence, let the lessons begin. You will learn or perish.” Showing no mercy for the willful Priestess, he bent his visions in her direction, firing in rapid sequence. As he suspected she was helpless against the onslaught.

Her neighbor, Mrs. Fitz, crying and rocking alone in silence where Mr. Fitz should be.

Mick lying face down in the mud, a hoof print on his back.

Her best friend, Kate, lying in a pool of blood, an empty baby blanket clutched to her breast.

Images of death and secrets and vile crimes whipped in and out of her head leaving her breathless.

“Stop, please make them stop,” grabbing her throbbing head she collapsed under the burden. “I can’t help them; I’m nothing in the face of their suffering.”

Her despair tugged at his heart. He reached for her and she accepted his hand in temporary surrender. “Moiré, we mortals suffer, it is known. You can’t stop the suffering but you can learn to control what and when you see. Together we will set boundaries. You were born to bridge the gap between man and the Gods. Without limits your visions will destroy you. We do not ask this of you.”

“You see things and invade my dreams. Why don’t you play the Prophet?”

The traveler lifted a brow, pleased, “So I have not broken your spirit, I see. You have a warrior’s blood and I will show you no mercy,” he promised.

“More fanciful tales, Bard?”

“Enough, Moiré. You must learn to close your mind to our people’s daily lives but open yourself to receive the messages from the ancient elders and to translate the prophecies of the stones. Our ordinary burdens are made lighter with guidance from the ancestors. You are the channel. I can not go where you go. You alone can save our people. Let me teach you, for it is written, you are The Prophet.”

Whiskey For My Men

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PHOTO PROMPT © G.L. MacMillan

Whiskey For My Men

“Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses,” a sleeve against his mouth Max swallowed the fire and reached for his guitar. The usual camp noises were muffled: a rustling of bedrolls and saddles, the horses chewing on the day’s events, a soft bellow from a calf. The bottle passed wordlessly from man to man, their shared grief masked by the slow burn of whiskey and the soulful guitar notes. Continue reading

6 Emotional Stages Experienced With An Unsuccessful Blog Post #blogger #blog #writer

Tracey@WhatsforDinnerDoc.com:

In no way should this influence (aka blackmail) my friends and family who occasionally “like” my posts on Facebook but can’t seem to find the “share” button. It’s not as if I obsess about it or anything. ;-)

Originally posted on Blondewritemore:

You excitedly tap out a blog post. In your head you see this post as the one which will catapult you into the blogging hall of fame. Your blog notifications will go into meltdown. Cue big grin, cheeky wink at a passing loved one and an air punch as you press publish!

Here are the emotional stages experienced as this post tanks:

1. Optimism – You remain hopeful despite your stats tool flatlining. You happily check the clock to see whether international readers are awake (always assume their lives revolve around your blogging schedule), check google for world holidays, festivals and celebrations. There must be another reason why your amazing post has tanked. Always remain positive. Those international readers could be having a cheeky lie in!

2. Denial – You ignore the fact that your post failed to attract readers and do what I do – put it down to…

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