June 3rd and 10th Prompt–

As a change from our usual prompt when the group meets we took one of the prompt suggestions from the July/August Writer’s Digest. It was choose a country you’ve never been to and spend some time researching it. Now use your research to write a scene or short story set in this country. Here are the surprising results from those who did it.

*****

Skalitsa, Bulgaria, who would have thought I would have ended up here. All I know about this town was from the stories my mother told me as a child. Her parents came from here. Now after becoming a widow last year, I decided to seek out my history.

From a small village when my great-grandparents grew up, the city had exploded since the war to about seven million subjects . Skalitsa lies in southeastern Bulgaria and was now a tourist destination for skiers on the 300m slopes in the winter and visitors to the Black Sea on the eastern coast.

My great-grandparents were wanders, farmers, and when the wars began, they immigrated to America.

I walked through the market square admiring the local vendors wares when I spied an unusual object on one of the tables. It was two stones wrapped up together with a tag that said Healing Stones.

“What are these?” I asked aloud.

“Healing stones for your aches and pains, very good medicine,” the proprietor said in halted English.

“How do you know that?” I asked with skepticism.

“Go up near the mountain, follow the signs to where the large stones lay. This town is well known for them. See for yourself, then come back to me and buy these to take home.” He finished his promotion with a toothy grin.

What could I lose? I had the time. Following the signs marked Famous Healing Stones, I left the market area.

After walking to what seemed to be about three miles, I saw the large flat granite stones soaking up the afternoon sun rays. Upon one was an elderly man who had just sat up and crawled off.

“Do they work?” I asked him when he came toward me on the path.

“I feel 100% better, try it,” he said, then walked on.

I noticed a small sign nearby that said, “Magnetic Stones. The only place of aside from Mexico where the stones magnetic field cross.”

I’m not sure if it was the magnetism or the heat from the rocks, but after thirty minutes of laying there, I felt no pain. I think I will buy those rocks from the vendor. He deserves something for letting me know about this.

Nancy Nation

 *****

A LIFE’S DREAM

It was twilight on Christmas Eve as The Hunter 44 gently edged closer to the glowing white of Malaspacua’s sandy beach. We were fulfilling a lifelong dream to sail the South Pacific. Peg and I had left Cebu City, Philippines this morning and had bucked a northerly swell which delayed our arrival at the sheltered cove on the Northwest corner of Malaspacua Island We had our scuba gear and planned to join a dive party the following morning.

I could see the lights of three or four other boats tethered to anchors in the lagoon. As I dropped our hook and backed against it to make certain it would hold in the soft seabed, I saw Peg shed her clothes. I still marveled at the beauty of her body and with a “last one in…” taunt she sprang over the rail and a soft splash followed.

After stripping too, I stood at the rail and called to Peg to locate her. There was no answer. I called again. Silence.

“Peg, this isn’t funny”, I exclaimed. More silence.

With the help of the other boats we shined lights on the water and searched all night. We found no sign of Peg.

The rising sun illuminated a sheet of plywood, standing on edge on the beach. Written on it was one word: SHARKS!!!

Malaspacua received it’s name from early Spanish sailors. Roughly translated the name means “Bad Christmas”. Mine sure was!!

Robert Kelly

*****

Julian stepped out in the street. It was true Prague was one of the most beautiful cities he had ever been in on his many globe-trotting jaunts. Spires had dotted the skyline, including the prominent pair of St. Vitus cathedral and last night the many bridges over the river had been ablaze with lights. How lucky that every year the International Advanced Training for Orthodontists was held in Prague and he was an orthodontist and his associates had selected him to attend.

It felt like a once in a lifetime chance for him to visit this city where his great-great-great grandfather had been born. This of course was when the area was called Bohemia and was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

One of his great- aunts, a spinster, had always maintained that they were related to Kafka the famous author whose writings had created an adjective Kafkaesque. She said there link back to him was from a child born out of wedlock to one of his many encounters with the opposite sex, although no documents could be found that proved this relationship. She said her great-aunt had been said woman and had in her possession a paper which the author had signed agreeing that he was the father of said child.

Julian was so intrigued by his aunt’s assertions that he had read everything written by Kafka going as far as studying German and Czech so he could read them in the original language Kafka had written them in.

He hailed a passing Ricsha a mobile devices that looked like a fancy golf cart. “Take me to the Mala Strance (Old Town) he said as he folded his 6’ 4” frame into the vehicle.

The driver grumbled something in Czech that Julian didn’t understand. Probably some swear words he thought to himself. It was a fifteen minute drive and when the Ricsha stopped. Julian was greeted by narrow cobbled streets lined with small houses. He walked along until he found the street he was looking for Golden Lane. It took him less than five minutes to find the address he was seeking number 22 Golden Lane. Kafka had lived and written her for more than two years.

Julian approached the door and raised his hand to knock but to his surprise the door swung open. “Hello, is anyone here,” he called. He stepped in the place was very small only a foyer and two tiny rooms. He continued into the house he could touch both walls of the foyer if he extended his arms. He walked on and looked in the rooms. He thought he saw someone or something move in one so he continued on and walked into the room. The door slammed behind him and now he was in a small dark, place. Startled he reached for the door knob but was unable to grasp it. “What is happening to me,” he cried, “I’m changing.”

Christine Howard

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