The Inscription

IMG_4348/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

I was reading to a room full of people, when someone interrupted with a question about my first short story. I said something about being a novice writer and how I have grown ever since. When I resumed reading, the words fell out; the printed words rolled and fell out of the book. Some scattered on the podium, some on the floor, some fell on my clothing. I tried to resume the reading, but there were no more words left. I turned the pages back and forth in panic. The book had emptied out and the empty pages mocked me, ‘You built a career on stolen words, now the words got stolen from you.’ Continue reading “The Inscription”

Story Jumper – The Birthday Gift

I recently published a children’s story on the Story Jumper website. If you have children or grandchildren or nephews or niece between the ages of 3 and 6, this would make for a good bedtime story about friendship.

cover for Birthday gift
The Birthday Gift

Clicking on the image or the link, takes you to the web-link, where you can read the story for free. Hope you give it a try and pass it on to your friends and relatives.

Cherry Blossoms

cherry-blossoms

Fall

The last leaf of autumn yellowed, curled brown blew in the wind and rustled on a driveway in suburban Virginia. Ramesh stared at the fickle leaf absently for a few interminable seconds. Then he deliberately stepped on it, crunched it under the sneakers before going for a run around the neighborhood.

The trees stood bare, with skinny arms raised up to the skies in lament. The sun yawned lazily at the beginning of a crisp Sunday in early November. The neighborhood was slowly stirring to life. As he jogged through the sub-division he wondered, how many couple would be staying in bed, having breakfast as they made lazy conversation.

That was how it was for him until the final Sunday in summer, waking up lazily next to his wife, with the morning sun streaming through the bedroom windows. Right in the middle of that week, she announced that she was leaving him.

Ramesh was stunned by the bolt from the clear blue sky. Continue reading “Cherry Blossoms”

A Day at the Beach

beach/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

She scanned the landscape through a small window in her office. The world was a desolate white as far as the eye could see. All the ground was white, trees were bare brown. Icicles hung frigidly from the roof tops. It has been an exceptionally long winter with record breaking snow-storms.

She walked to the chair behind the desk and sat down. She reached for a magazine from a pile that was stacked neatly on one corner of the desk-top. She thumbed through the glossy pages of the gardening magazine for a glimpse of summer flowers and spring blooms. She dreamed of warm blue skies decorated with long strands of white, wispy clouds as they curved down to meet the ocean at the horizon.

After a while, she put away the magazine and pulled out her appointment book. Most of last week’s massages were cancelled on account of the storm. The roads were still treacherous in the aftermath. Continue reading “A Day at the Beach”

The Novelist

man without qualities/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

I have been trying to find a large chunk of undisturbed time with little success. Last week, I hit upon an idea for a novel. I need at least a few weeks of uninterrupted time to work on this idea. But this was not to be. Just this morning, when I finally had some free time to work on my story, my sister Ruth called. She calls me three or four times a week to discuss her everyday life.

Until last year, she called our mother. After her passing I have been cast in that role. Since she is my kid sister, I could not bring myself Continue reading “The Novelist”

Mr. Fix-It-All

clo1/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

When Mr. Fix-It-All opened his store sharp at Eight in the AM, a long queue of creatures were waiting in front of the store window. The first one held an old electric oven. The next one brought a broken heart. There was a man who waited in a ramshackle car, followed by a dog with a broken leg. As always, Mr. Fix-It-All tended to their needs with a pleasant smile and gentle touch.

He fixed the electric oven in fifteen minutes. He took the broken heart from the woman examined it and said to the her that she will have to return the next day, because the heart needed some serious nursing and he would have to mix a healing potion. The man in the car had his transmission fixed in half an hour, while the dog with the broken leg needed a little more time to be mended.

At one point he looked at the clock and saw the time was half past eleven. He stood up from behind the counter and walked to the waiting queue. He stopped by a young tree that held a broken branch and dropped a red ribbon behind it. The crowd waiting behind the ribbon, sighed and dispersed quietly. Continue reading “Mr. Fix-It-All”

Nation Dysfunction – The Magnanimous Minority

Golconda forts, hyderabad.
Image by Shelly Paul

When the economy began to self-destruct, the government of the nation of Dystopia took drastic actions to mitigate the catastrophe. It resorted to well touted austerity measures.

A majority of government funds were diverted from various departments to stem the financial hemorrhage, which resulted in a budget crunch. Since a balanced budget is paramount, after much deliberation marked by tormented debates and emotionally charged discussions, the elected members to the parliament decided with a heavy heart to stop funding essential services to the public.

Since the public needed these services at any cost, the government made the inevitable decision to privatize core government services. Everything from schools to prisons was contracted out to private entities. To pay the private contractors, taxes were raised on the majority of the population. The billionaires and the zillionaires were shielded from any tax increase, since Continue reading “Nation Dysfunction – The Magnanimous Minority”

Happiness

hh/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

That morning Kannamma felt the weight of seventy years of life, on her thin frail body. She made a final check on the contents in the large bamboo basket. The green bananas to one side, small, tall and fat yellow bananas spread round the rest of the basket. Between the green and yellow there were one dozen red-bananas. Those were special delivery for the bungalow-lady. Even the thought of the bungalow-lady brought no smile to her face that morning.

After inspection, she pulled the long free end of the old frayed cotton saree, rolled it into a bun and placed it on her head. Habitually she reached for the basket, when her hands caught her attention. She stood back staring at them. She examined the open palms closely then turned over her hands as ran her eyes ruminatively over the sinewy veins through the infinite creases on the withered brown skin.

Memories flickered through her mind and reflected on her face. She clasped her hands together tightly unable to let go. Finally she released her hands, sighed heavily as she bent down carefully to pick up the heavy basket. She lifted it with all the might of an ant, Continue reading “Happiness”

Planet Primitive – Neutralization

balinesecouple/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

….While, on Planet Primitive, in the nation of Dysfunction, it was the year 140 BTLM(Before The Lone Man). A hundred thousand men had gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the passing of a bill into law.

The throng of protesters gathered around the parliament building, spilled on to the adjacent street flowing to the other end where the wrought iron fence surrounded the Presidential palace.

The protesters chanted slogans and banged on the fence from time to time expressing discontent. The placards and banners they held, cried out the deplorable state of men in the matriarchal nation of Dysfunction. Any minute now the parliament would finish voting on the ‘Neutralization Bill’. The air was thick with tension.

Within the compounds of the Parliament and the Palace stood a barricade of the Women’s Elite Police force armed with taser and guns, ready to go off at the slightest provocation. A tall wrought iron fence separated the mob from the police. The clamor was growing, the police tense and braced for the uproar. Continue reading “Planet Primitive – Neutralization”

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