Monthly Archives: March 2020

Amanda’s New Life

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Amanda’s New Life

This is a Flash Fiction story from my book Shirley’s Shorts and Flashes. A book of short stories with genres from romance to the supernatural. There is something for everyone to enjoy. amzn.to/15HB87j I hope you enjoy this little piece. It’s something beside Covid-19.

by Shirley McLain     4245 Words

The bed was empty, but Amada knew it wouldn,t be empty long.  Jasper would be sure she met her quota for the day.  This endless, meaningless sex was not what she had planned for her life.  If it weren’t for my asshole stepfather and spineless mother, my life would be different.  I couldn’t stay there and let him continue to use me.  My mother didn’t believe me when I told her what was happening.  I think she knew, but she didn’t want to stay by herself.  She let that creep stay around, so I didn’t.  I’ve learned how to take care of myself, and she could’ve learned also.

The sheets on the bed were changed and Amanda took a quick shower.  She felt little of the filth on her was washed down the drain.  She was just getting out of the shower when the doorbell rang.  She knew it would be her next customer.  With the towel wrapped around her body, she opened the door.

What a surprise, there was a child about six years old standing at her door.

“Hi there, what can I do for you, sweetie?”

“Are you Amanda?”

“Yes, my name is Amanda.”

The child reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope and handed it to Amanda.  Amanda’s name was written across the front of the envelope in an unfamiliar handwriting.

 “What is your name, Darling?”

“It’s Annie Lynn.”  The child kept shifting from one foot to another, looking around.

“Well, Annie Lynn who brought you here?  Come in so I can close the door.  Standing in the doorway in a towel doesn’t look too good.  So how did you get here?”

“I was put in a taxi and the driver was told to bring me to this address.”

“Where are your parents?”

“I don’t have any.  I lived with my Nanna until two weeks ago, when she died.  I stayed with a friend of hers until today, and she sent me here.”

“Let me read this letter, and maybe it will tell me why you were sent to my door.”  Amanda opened the letter and started reading:

               Dear Amanda Thomas, you do not know me, but I was a friend of Frances Jones, who was the adopted grandmother of Annie Lynn.  This is going to come as a shock to you, but Annie Lynn is your daughter who you adopted out at birth.  She no longer has any living relatives.  Before Frances died, she told me to contact Mr. Andrew Paul, her attorney when she died.  I did as I was requested to do and was mailed a letter, with instructions only to read it when Frances died.  I received the letter two days ago.  I was informed you were Annie Lynn’s mother and your address.  I was also instructed to send Annie Lynn to you.  That is what I have done.  Enclosed you will find the birth certificate showing you are Annie’s mother and no known father.

at the Don’t bother trying to find me, because you won’t. The child did not know me, and I do not live within two thousand miles. Annie is a sweet girl, so take loving care of her. You are all she has.
“Annie Lynn, do you know why you are here?”
“Nanna’s friend said I would be living with you from now on.
“I can’t explain everything right now, but I will explain as soon as I can. Right now, let’s put your suitcase in the bedroom, and I’ll get dressed, so we can get something to eat.”
Amanda knew she’d to get out of her house before the next john showed up. She had to be able to think and decide what to do. She couldn’t believe someone could just send a little girl to a stranger. I guess I did that very thing when I gave her up for adoption.
Amanda quickly dressed in a pair of blue jeans, tee-shirt, and tennis shoes. She and Annie Lynn caught the subway to Amanda’s favorite Italian restaurant.
“Do you like spaghetti, Annie? It’s one of my most favorite things to eat.”
“It’s my most favorite thing. I like it with garlic bread. Can I have bread with it?”
“Certainly, I’m going to have some myself, along with some big fat meatballs.”
Annie didn’t talk much. She would answer a question when asked, but otherwise, she sat and looked at Amanda. Amanda smiled at her and tried to make lighthearted talk, but Anne Lynn didn’t want to engage in conversation.
“Tell me about your parents, and Grandmother, Annie.”
“My Nanna told me my mama and daddy were in a car wreck and went to see Jesus. I was just a baby. I stayed with my Nanna, and that’s all I know. I do have a picture of them that Nanna gave me. My mama was pretty. She had dark brown hair like mine, and it was long too, just like mine.”
“I’m sure she was because you certainly are. I think you and I aren’t staying at my house tonight. We are going to buy a pair of PJ’s and a toothbrush and then we are going to a hotel. I think we will have an adventure tonight since we are getting to know each other. What do you think of that idea?”
“Ok, whatever you want to do.”
Amanda knew she couldn’t go back to her house because of Jasper. He would be waiting for her, and there is no telling what he would do. It wouldn’t matter in the least if there were a child around. She couldn’t have Annie hurt.
They finished their meal and made their way back to the subway. Amanda knew of a hotel they could stay at that Jasper knew nothing about. It would give her time to think and decide what to do. They got off at the mall entrance and walked to JC Penny’s buying clothes for the next day and some PJ’s. They went on to CVS Pharmacy and bought toothbrushes and toothpaste. They were ready for the night. They got back on the subway and rode to the station closest to the Twin Towers Memorial. She had a friend who lived in China town. Ming owned a small hotel. She would give Amanda and Annie a room for as long as needed.
Ming had once been one of Jasper’s girls, but she got lucky and was able to get away from the business. She went home to her family, who accepted her back with open arms. The hotel once belonged to her parents, but since their death, it’s hers.
Amanda opened the front door to the hotel, stepped into the small lobby with Annie right on her heels. Ming was sitting at the desk looking at a magazine. When she looked up and recognized Amanda, she immediately ran out with open arms to hug Amanda.
“Hi Ming, How are you doing?” It’s so good to see you again, my friend.”
“This is a surprise, Amanda. I am so glad to see you. Who is this pretty young lady?”
“This is Annie Lynn; she is living with me now. I’m wondering if you could put me up for a couple of days. I have to make some decisions, and I need a quiet place to think.”
“You didn’t even need to ask. Let me take you to a room with two beds. We need time to talk a little later. I am on the night shift tonight, so just give me a call anytime. She took a key off the hook behind the desk and walked them to the elevator. You are on the third floor in 312. It is one door down from the elevator on the right.”
“Thanks, Ming, you don’t know how much this means to me. I can’t thank you enough.”
“You don’t have to, that is what being a friend is all about. I will talk to you later.”
Amanda and Annie Lynn found their room without any problem. It was nice and clean with two queen size beds plus a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee pot.
“We will have a fabulous time camping out here and getting to know one another. Are you tired, Annie? It has been a busy day for you. Let’s get you a bath and put your PJs. Then we can watch some TV until you get sleepy.”
Annie Lynn went into the bathroom and started running water for her bath. Amanda made sure she had a towel and washcloth. Annie climbed in the tub and tried to lean back, but she was too small to hit the back of the tub. Amanda laughed and turned the water off and handed her the bar of soap.
“Let me know when you want me to wash your back. I’m going to be watching TV while you are in the tub. Amanda left the door open to the bathroom and sat down on her bed. She took her cell phone out of her purse. She had twenty-four messages. “I’m not even going to look at these things. I am sure most of them are from Jasper, wanting to know where I’m. This is the end of that life for me.” All of the messages disappeared with a push of a button, and she felt relieved not to have to deal with Jasper anymore.
Annie Lynn finished her bath, and Amanda helped her dry off. After Annie put her PJ’s on, they both laid down on one of the beds and started watching Finding Nemo on the TV. Annie Lynn seemed to enjoy watching it.
Amanda couldn’t keep her mind on the TV. She kept running the words from the letter repeatedly in her mind that this child was hers. Amanda never thought she’d see her again. She remembered seeing the little, tiny bundle held in front of her, right after delivery. How small her hands were, and her large dark eyes were trying to focus in the light. Then they left with her, and that was it. She never saw her daughter again. She left the hospital two days later and went to her friend’s house. That friend was the one who introduced her to Jasper.
After her recovery from giving birth, things started to change at the friend’s house. It got so bad she couldn’t stay there anymore. Jasper was there to take her to his place, and she could stay there. I was a sixteen-year-old girl who’d just given her baby away, was abused at home, felt unloved, and unwanted. Besides that, I didn’t have a choice without money.
One thing led to another, and Amanda finally started turning tricks for Jasper, to keep him from beating her. Over the last six years, she’s made a lot of money. She gave Jasper what he thought his cut was, but he didn’t know what the john’s were paying her. She saved enough money so that she could support her and Annie Lynn for a long time. She could go back to school to get her education.
Annie Lynn had drifted off to sleep. Amanda left the bathroom light on, turned the TV down low, and went to the lobby to talk to Ming.
“Hey, Ming, can you talk now?”
“Sure, come on behind the desk and sit down. I appreciate the company. I was beginning to get sleepy. Let me get us a cup of coffee. It has been a while since you and I have gotten to visit.” Ming walked over to the counter in the breakfast area and fixed two cups of coffee. When she sat down again, she turned and looked at Amanda.
“Why are you here, Amanda?”
“Ming, Annie is my daughter. I had her adopted out at birth, but the adopted family is now dead. She arrived back to me today. I can’t go back to the life I had. I have to decide what I’m going to do. I have a lot of money saved in an account Jasper doesn’t know about, so I don’t have to worry about money.”
“If you had money, why did you continue that life?”
“What else was I going to do? I couldn’t go back home, and turning tricks is what I know. I was making a substantial amount of money, and most of the time, I wasn’t unhappy. I just need time to think about what I want to do now.”
“You know you are welcome to stay here as long as you need to. Jasper might be in New Jersey, but you know as well as I do if he wants to find you, he will.”
“Yes, I know Ming. I won’t be here but a couple of days. By then, I’ll know where I’m going. I do appreciate your help.”
“I told you before, that is what friends are for.”
“I’m going to go back up to the room. I don’t want Annie Lynn waking up and not finding me there. I will talk to you tomorrow.”
Amanda went back to the room, and Annie was still sleeping soundly. She put on her PJ’s and turned off the TV and bathroom light and crawled into bed. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to go to sleep or not.
She tossed and turned most of the night. She kept running everything over in her mind and trying to decide what to take. The clock on the bedside table showed three A.M. when she finally drifted off to sleep. She then started dreaming of her mother and father.
Amanda’s eyes popped open at eight the next morning. Annie was sitting up in bed with the TV playing on low and was watching cartoons.
“Good morning,” Amanda said. “Did you sleep well?”
Annie just looked at her and nodded her head up and down.
“How about we get dressed and go get up some breakfast. Do you want to do that?”
“Sure, I like pancakes.”
“Then the pancakes it will be. I’ll find out the address of the nearest IHOP (International House of Pancakes). They make a great pancake breakfast. I hope you have a large appetite.”
They got up and got dressed, brushed their teeth, and headed downstairs. Ming was just getting ready to go off duty.
“Good morning, Ming. I hope your night went all right. Where is the nearest IHOP? We want a pancake breakfast this morning”.
They got the directions they needed and left the hotel. It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky and warm sunshine. The IHOP was not far, so they walked and enjoyed the sun.
Amanda chatted away while they walked, but Annie Lynn was quiet. Amanda was hoping as Annie gets to know her, she would open up a little bit. Stop pressuring yourself, Amanda; this is only her second day with you. Give her time to adjust.
They had a fabulous breakfast and walked down to the waterfront to watch the boats coming and going. As they sat on a bench looking out at the water, Amanda had the urge to talk to her mother. She took out her cell phone; looked the ringer was turned off, so it couldn’t disturb her or Annie. She had twenty messages. She deleted every one of them without listening to the first sound. She hoped her mother would be living in the same house, and that ass she was married to wouldn’t be home during the day. She dialed the number she remembered. The phone began to ring. After the fourth ring, Amanda was about to hang up when a female voice said, “hello.”
“Hello, I would like to speak to Martha James, please.”
“This is Martha James, how can I help you?”
“Amanda felt this lump begin in her throat. She wasn’t sure she could speak. “Mama, its Amanda.”
She could hear her mother scream, “Oh my precious girl. Where are you? How are you? I can’t believe I’m finally getting to talk to you.”
“Mom, I’m in New York right now, and I’m doing well.”
“Amanda, will you come to see me?”
“Mom, I can’t come back there as long as your husband is around.”
“Oh, Amanda, he hasn’t been here for six years. He left not long after you did. I’m living here by myself. Please come home. We have so much to find out about each other. I love you, and I don’t want to lose touch with you again.”
“Mom, I love you too. I will be home in two days, and I am bringing someone for you to meet. No, there is no husband. It’s going to be a surprise. I will see you as soon as I can.”
Amanda hung up the phone and turned to Annie Lynn. “Annie, we are going to Oklahoma to visit my mama. We may even stay there.”
“Are there Indians there?”
“Yes, but not like the ones you see on TV, our Indians look like you and me, except their skin is darker. I think you will like Oklahoma. There are many lakes, rolling hills, cows, and horses. It’s a lovely place to start a new life. How about us starting a new life in a new home?
“Can I meet the Indians?”
“You certainly can, sweetie.” She gathered Annie Lynn in her arms and held her close. She said a silent prayer thanking God for sending her daughter back to her, and giving her a chance to reunite with her mother.

18 Common Word To Leave Out of Your Writing

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18 Common Word To Leave Out of Your Writing

It’s a familiar scene: you’re slumped over your keyboard or notebook, obsessing over your character. While we tend to agonize over everything from structure to backstory, it’s important to weigh how you write something too. A perfectly constructed world is flat on the page if you use feeble, common words. When you’re finished constructing your perfectly balanced world, do your writing a favor and take another pass to weed out these 18 haggard words.

Good

High on any list of most used English words is “good.” While this word may appear to be the perfect adjective for nearly anything, that is precisely what makes it so vague. Try getting more specific. If something’s going well, try “superb,” “outstanding” or “exceptional.”

New

Another of the common words in English is “new.” “New” is an adjective that doesn’t always set off alarm bells, so it can be easy to forget about. Give your writing more punch by ditching “new” and using something like “latest” or “recent” instead.

Long

Much like “new,” “long” is spent, yet it doesn’t always register as such while you’re writing. Instead of this cliché phrase, try describing exactly how long it is: “extended,” “lingering” or “endless,” for example.

Old

“Old” is certainly one of those common words that means more to readers if you’re specific about how old a subject is. Is it “ancient,” “fossilized,” “decaying” or “decrepit”?

Right

“Right” is also among the common words that tends to slip through our writer filters. If somebody is correct, you could also say “exact” or “precise.” Don’t let habit words like “right” dampen your writing.

Different

Here’s another adjective that falls a bit flat for readers, but can also easily be improved by getting more specific. Saying something is “odd” or “uncommon” is very different than saying it is “exotic” or “striking.”

Small

“Small” is another adjective that is too generic for writing as good as yours. Use “microscopic,” “miniature” or “tiny” instead. Even using “cramped” or “compact” is more descriptive for your audience.

Large

Just like relying too much on “small,” we tend to describe large things as, well, “large.” Specificity is a big help with this one too: could your subject be “substantial,” “immense,” “enormous” or “massive”?

Next

Whenever we describe something coming “next,” we run the risk of losing our readers. Good options to make your reading more powerful include “upcoming,” “following” or “closer.”

Young

Another case of being too generic is what makes “young” a problematic adjective. If you want your writing to be more captivating, try switching “young” out for “youthful,” “naive” or “budding.”

Never

“Never” is also among common words to use sparingly. Not only is it a common, stale descriptor, it’s also usually incorrect. For something to never happen, even one instance makes this word inaccurate. Try “rarely,” “scarcely” or “occasionally” instead.

Things

“Things” is another repeat offender when it comes to worn out words. Another word where specificity is the key, try replacing “things” with “belongings,” “property” or “tools.”

All

Just like “never,” “all” is an encompassing, absolute term. Not only is “all” unoriginal, it’s not usually factual. Try using “each” and “copious” instead.

Feel

“Feel” is also in the company of common English words. Try using “sense,” or “discern” instead. You can also move your sentence into a more active tense: “I feel hungry” could become “I’m famished,” for example.

Seem

“Seem” is bad habit word we are all guilty of using. Regardless of how well you think your sentence is constructed, try switching “seem” out for “shows signs of.” “Comes across as” is another good option to give your writing more power.

Almost

Another easy adjective to let slip by, “almost” is a wasted opportunity to engage your readers. “Almost” is more interesting if you say “practically,” “nearly” or “verging on” instead.

Just

“Just making” it or “just barely” affording something isn’t very descriptive. To truly grab a reader, we must do better. Try “narrowly,” “simply” or “hardly” to give your phrasing more weight.

Went

Last but not least, avoid using the common word “went” to describe your subject. “Went” is a word that lacks traction. Try using “chose,” “decided on” or “rambled” to truly grab your readers.

My Top 10 Favorite Books and More

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By: Shirley McLain

My top 10 favorite books to read you are going to cause you to think that I am taking the easy way out when I tell you what they are. I’m a very eclectic reader as well as a writer. One book may be a mystery and the next a fantasy. It’s just whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

My most favorite books are the series by Diane Gabaldon “Outlander.” I could list every book and tell you about each one, but I won’t. The main reason is there are eight of them, so I’ll list the titles. I fell in love over and over with every one of them.  If you haven’t read the books I highly recommend them.

Outlander (1991)

Dragonfly in Amber (1992)

Voyager (1993)

Drums of Autumn (1996)

The Fiery Cross (2001)

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)

An Echo in the Bone (2009)

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (2014)

Right now there is a series on TV based on the book series. The books are better, but I continue to watch the series because it brings back those books so vividly to my mind.

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My next favorites are the “Harry Potter” series. This series contains seven books by J.K. Rowling. This is a series of fantasy books that shows you how good overcomes evil (very simplistic view). I liked the fact I was able to watch Harry grow from a baby to a young man with children of his own in the movies, but it was more fun letting my imagination run wild while I was reading the books.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the U.S) (UK release: 26/06/97; US release 9/01/98)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (UK release: 2/07/98; US release 6/02/99)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (UK release: 8/07/99; US release 9/08/99)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (UK & US releases: 8/07/00)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (UK & US releases: 21/06/03)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (UK & US releases: 16/07/05)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (UK & US releases: 21/07/07)

Since I’m so into gothic times I loved the architecture of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It would be a great place to live and explore all its hidden rooms.

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My next favorite is the “Thorn birds.” Some may think it’s an oldie (1977) by Colleen McCullough. Set primarily on Drogheda—a fictional sheep station in the Australian Outback named after Drogheda, Ireland—the story focuses on the Cleary family and spans the years 1915 to 1969.

There was a TV Series made from this book that I enjoyed also but as with Outlander the book was much better.  I loved the depth of the characters especially, Maggie Cleary and Father Ralph de Bricassart. If you ever get the chance to read this book, I believe you will enjoy it as much as I did.

I have read many books over the years, some more than others. To be honest most of them I can’t remember their names. These I’ve mentioned above are recent memories. If you’re not enjoying the book you are reading, stop reading it. There are too many for anyone not to find something they enjoy reading.

I have published an eBook on Amazon called Princess Adele’s Dragon which is a young adult, fantasy. Check it out at this link: http://amzn.to/25lUOYM  If you like what you see, it’s free if you belong to Kindle Unlimited.

My latest book is out but only in hard and soft cover at this time. It’s called “Thomas Gomel Learns about Bullying.” I am waiting for the eBook to come out. I was told it would be five of six weeks after the hard copy books were published. This book was written to appeal to both the parent and child in dealing with abuse.  Check this out.    amzn.to/2PcneDv