Tag Archives: Word Count Podcast

BOOKMARK ~ A story for @RBwood’s Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #44 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast was to use these three words in the story: Woman. Book. Fall. 

*  *  *  *

The woman marched slowly on a busy city street. From behind her, you might think she was trying to avoid the sidewalk cracks, but that wasn’t the case. She wasn’t looking at the sidewalk. She acknowledged no one, kept her head down, her strides steady and deliberate.

“Excuse me!” a passerby said. He brushed by her in a huff, swinging his briefcase and almost hitting a child on his way to school.

Though aware of the rush hour traffic noise and joggers zooming by in the opposite direction, everything was peripheral to the mystery novel cradled in her hands. It was the latest book from international bestselling Scottish author, Bill Kirton. His new releases were almost impossible to get in North America until they had been out for almost six months in the UK. She couldn’t wait that long. A friend in England had been able to pre-order it directly from the publisher and mail it to her. It cost her nearly thirty dollars for the postage, but it was totally worth it.

She didn’t read e-books, otherwise it would’ve been a less expensive hobby. She was old school that way, didn’t even own a cell phone. Reading as she walked the ten blocks to and from work every day gave her some exercise, though her leisurely pace was hardly much of a work-out. That wasn’t so important, anyway. The main reason was it gave her time to read. At work, she would be sitting all day on the phone selling life insurance. With all her calls monitored, she didn’t even dare sneak in a few pages. And by the time she got home, the kids and her husband would demand her undivided attention.

No … as long as the weather permitted, this was the only time she had for herself to read.

At the intersection with a throng of pedestrians, she bookmarked her page and waited for the traffic light to change. After the opposing signal flashed amber, a countdown started from ten. A teenager beside her ran across the street when he saw an opening. She gasped and shook her head at his impatience. Why would anyone put their life in danger to cross the street five seconds before everyone else? What difference could it possibly make, she wondered. Even when the light turned green, she made sure the cars were fully stopped before stepping off the curb. Unlike the cell phone users who talked or texted while crossing the road, her attention was always on the cars.

After stepping up on the other side of the street, she eyed a clear path in front of her and cracked open the book again. From here until her office, there would be less people shuffling beside her. It was mainly a boulevard of residential town homes and high rises. She quickly scanned the page and re-positioned her eyes to where she left off, certain the climax of the story was only a chapter or two away. Who was the killer? She had three suspects in mind but could not be sure. In another eight to ten pages though, she would need to stop, but she wanted the mystery to last. If she timed it just right, she’d be able to finish the remainder of the book tonight. That gave her something to look forward to for her walk home.

Something hard bounced off her backpack and crashed to the ground. The impact of the object hitting her sent her stumbling forward. Her book flew out of her hands and skidded under a parked car. She fell to one knee and steadied herself, then whipped around to see what had struck her. A shattered device on the sidewalk next to broken glass seemed the likely culprit. It looked like a tablet of some kind, a Kindle perhaps, maybe an iPad.

Several people were stopped on the street. She caught the stunned look of a young man with his eyes skyward, and then he yelled at her with a horrified expression.

“Lady, watch out!”

 * * * *

6:00 PM News Update

In what appeared as a freak accident, two women lost their lives this morning on Condo Row. A resident fell from her balcony and struck a pedestrian below. Both were killed instantly.

Condo owner and husband of the deceased said his wife was reading outside their unit when she dropped her e-reader over the balcony. She reached out to grab it and lost her balance, falling from their penthouse on the twenty-eighth floor.

Coincidentally, the bystander was distracted reading the same book and did not hear warnings to get out of the way.

In a strange turn of events since this news story broke, Bill Kirton’s novel, Sudden Impact, the book both women were reading prior to their deaths, set a record by topping all bestseller lists in the UK. According to the publisher, it is now being fast-tracked for release in North America.

Thank you for reading and/or listening. Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.



Filed under Short Stories & Poetry

Clowning Around ~ A story for @RBwood’s HALLOWEEN Word Count Podcast

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #43 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.

The prompt for this podcast was to use these three words in the story: Cloak. Knife. Blood.

*  *  *  *

I hate Halloween—with a passion. And every year it rolls around, even in this godforsaken hellhole, I am reminded of why I hate it.

“Ooooh…you’re the clown, you’re the crazy clown!”

I curl up tighter in my corner.

“Clowns! Clowns! The clowns are going to get you!”

And the taunts continue until someone yells for them to shut up. When my back hurts and my bum is sore from sitting on the cold, hard floor, I drag myself to bed and plug my ears with the corners of my thin blanket. There’s no use fighting it. The dream will come, as it has every year for the past ten years.


The teacher asked us to dress up for Halloween. There’d be a competition to see who had the best costume. Everyone in the class would get a vote to choose the winner—twenty-three votes, not counting my own. Miss Drage, our homely grade five teacher would also get a vote. I fretted. I didn’t want to do it, but I had no choice. I was already an outsider, and if I didn’t participate, it would only draw more attention to me. That was the only reason for doing it, as the prize of a basket of candies certainly didn’t entice me. I hated candy, which was another reason the kids in the class considered me strange.

I stressed the entire week leading up to the competition. I threw temper tantrums and snapped at my mom every time she asked me what was wrong. Finally, two days before I had to have a costume, she’d had enough.

“Young lady,” she said, “I’m tired of your sulky behavior. Tell me what’s wrong or I’m not buying you another book this month.”

“No!” I screamed. Books were my only refuge, and her threat was akin to death for me. It didn’t take much coaxing from her before I spilled the story of needing a costume.

“Damn it,” she said, “as if we don’t have better things to spend our money on.”

“I know, Mom.” I wiped tears from my face. “I know we can’t afford to buy a costume. I don’t know what to do.”

Somehow, Mom must have known this meant something to me, because aside from one Scholastic book a month, I never asked for much. Even as a kid, I understood her job as a factory piece-maker afforded us few luxuries.

That night, I went to bed with my tattered copy of Stephen King’s Carrie and reread parts of the book under the covers with a flashlight. “It’s okay to be different,” I whispered as I fell asleep. “It’s okay if I don’t have a costume.” I tried hard to convince myself that I didn’t care about some stupid competition.


“I’m making you a clown suit,” Mom said when I came home from school the next day. She held up flannel material that alternated red, green, blue, and yellow stripes, cut in the shape of a small body. “Come here and let me see if this fits before I sew the pieces together.”

“Oh Mom!” I rushed over and gave her a hug.

Mom wrapped the fabric around me, pinning key areas. “I’ll leave the legs a bit baggy,” she said, marking off the length of the sleeves with chalk. “How does that feel?”

“I love it!” I squealed.

Mom sewed late into the night, so I could bring the costume to school the next day. The intermittent chug-chug-chug of her Singer sewing machine, like an old steam engine, lulled me to sleep. I had a good feeling I was going to win the competition.

And I should have won.

My costume was the best, the most authentic, the one that looked like it cost at least fifteen dollars off the rack of a department store.

When all the kids stood in a circle awaiting Miss Drage’s count of the votes, my confidence quickly diminished. I received one vote, and that was the one I had put in for myself.

Lizzy Kemp won with fifteen votes—the popular girl, the one everyone liked because they were too afraid not to like her. She had a nothing costume cut from a black garbage bag, draped around her neck and secured with a clothespin. Some red food coloring streaked down the corners of her mouth. Countess Dracula, she called herself, flapping her plastic cloak when she won. She pranced around the circle with her winning basket of candies.

“I always knew you were a clown!” she said when she passed me, sticking out her tongue in my face. “Now we all know it’s true!” Some of the kids laughed. Miss Drage uttered a feeble “Now, now kids … be nice.”

Next to me stood Tim Sheppard. He tried to dress up as a pirate, but his costume consisted of a badly constructed eye-patch and rolled up pants. He didn’t have a sword, so he carried a knife—a steak knife. Lizzy made fun of him too, so I thought I’d do us both a favor. I grabbed his knife and stabbed Lizzy in the neck.

Her blood gushed dark and thick. That’s what I remember the most, how dark the blood was, so much darker than the fake blood on her face.

Thank you for reading ♥ and Happy Halloween! 

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.



Filed under Short Stories & Poetry

“Creative States”

You can also hear me read this poem on:

Episode #17 of The Word Count podcast.

The prompt was “It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…”

Creative States

Naked in bed

Slouched over a laptop

Tapping at letters

Banging out words

Plotting and scheming

Writing and editing


An energy shift

The mind drained of thought

The body swept by lust

Impulsive heat

Warm and sticky

Wet with anticipation


Skilled hands

Playing with a firm touch

Exploring every curve

Fingers wedged between swollen folds

Hips lifted off the bed

Writhing for more


Hard frantic strokes

Grabbing at breasts

Squeezing and rubbing

Gasping for air

And a scream of release

Shallow breaths



Filed under Short Stories & Poetry

“Taxi to India”

You can also hear me read this story on:

Episode #15 of The Word Count podcast.

The prompt was: “A Taxi ride late one night in the city turns strange, when…”

This story was inspired by the writings of Les Floyd, an exceptional man whom I met on Twitter. I’d highly encourage you to follow his blog, and on Twitter as @Lesism. He is an incredible writer.

Mike was leaving for another one of his so-called business trips. For some time now, I had suspected him of having an affair, and his latest vague explanation to head to Chicago—yet again, was just another chapter in the ongoing deception.

He had tried to sneak out early this morning, and despite having taken a sleeping pill only hours earlier, I woke up. “What time is it?” I asked, my throat dry and scratchy.

He strode over from where he was getting dressed and gave me a peck on the forehead.

“It’s five-thirty, gotta to leave in twenty minutes. Sorry to wake you, I was just going to leave you a note.”

Sighing heavily, I propped myself up against a couple of pillows. “Another partners meeting?”

“Yeah, damn meetings,” he said as he walked back toward the closet to find a tie.

“Three weekends in a row?”

“Sorry, babe, I’ll make it up to you, we’ll do dinner when I get back in a couple of days.”

I cringed as he splashed on the cologne I had bought him for his birthday.  “How many meetings does it take for a bunch of lawyers to make a decision?”

“Honey, I’m not happy about it either, but you know I’m in line to take over once Ben retires, and I want this.”

And on and on he went, blathering in that awful corporate-speak that he knew I hated—throwing in bullshit lingo to silence me. I was silenced, all right, not by his brilliance, but by my own apathy. I had protested just enough to confirm that my husband was a bald-faced liar. Like an amateur poker player, he had a tell. He slurred his syllables when he lied, as if he were in a hurry, and couldn’t stick around to chat. The worst of it was I didn’t care anymore. I had all the proof I needed of his affair, and yet, I had let him continue to get away with it.

After Mike left, I got up and took a long shower and cried. I sobbed, actually, like I hadn’t sobbed in years. Poetic, in a way, that I could only cry in the shower, as if the very thought of feeling my tears roll down my cheeks was a sign of weakness. As I sat in the stall, hugging my knees to my chest and letting the powerful jets beat down on me, my crying suddenly changed to hysterical laughter.  Roaring like a wild woman, I decided what I had to do.

 * * * *

“You’re going to the airport?” he asked, as he met me at the front of the apartment building.

“Yes, La Guardia.”

“No bags?”

“Nope, just me.”

The cabbie furrowed his brow in surprise and opened the car door for me.

Normally, it was a forty-minute ride to the airport if the traffic was clear, but it was rarely clear in New York City, no matter the time of day. It was a warm spring night, and the city would be coming back to life in the next few months. Too bad I’d miss it.

“What time is your flight?” he asked as he turned down the volume of the radio.

I looked at him in the rear view mirror and saw dark eyes staring back at me. “I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out when I get there.”

“You don’t have a reservation?”

“Nope, I’m going to buy a first class ticket to somewhere, just not sure where yet.”

“You don’t look crazy, Ma’am, but that’s just daft!”

I laughed aloud at his bluntness. He was cute, thirtyish, and had a playful charm about him. “You’re English. I thought I detected an accent. How long have you been here?’

He chuckled. “Long enough, it seems. I never thought I’d be driving a cab when I came here three years ago, but life’s funny.”

“Yes, it sure is.” I stared out into the blackness of the lit-up city, remembering the moment it occurred to me what I had to do. It was perfect, but a part of me wanted to share my plans with someone, anyone. My English cabbie seemed like an empathetic soul, and when I looked into the mirror, I noticed he was staring back at me. It gave me the courage I needed. “I’d like to tell you something that I haven’t told anyone,” I said.

“All right.”

I took a deep breath before starting. “I had an epiphany this morning as I took my shower. I realized I live in a beautiful, expensive condo, and yet, it’s never felt like home. I have my own thriving PR company, but the work is no longer my passion. The worst part? I’m married to a man whom I’ve come to detest because he’s been having an affair for the last six months. I knew that if I didn’t make a change, I’d be lost.”

“So you’re running away?” he asked.

“No. Quite the opposite. I’ve been shackled by all the things in life that people deem important. A house, a job, a marriage. I thought all these things defined me, but they don’t. They’re merely things, and they no longer make me happy. That’s why I’m leaving them behind.”

He was silent, and for a moment, I thought I had made a huge mistake by telling him my story.

“It’s a brave move,” he said finally as he made a turn onto the highway, picking up speed. “Very few people in life would be able to do what you’re doing. Some days, I think of going to India, experiencing the culture my ancestors played a part in, but…”

“So why don’t you go?” I asked.

He let out a raucous laugh. “What? And leave all this behind.”

“No wife and kids?”

“No, haven’t found the right woman yet.”

My mind went into overdrive as we neared the airport. Soon, I’d have decisions to make, but now I had one more question. “How’d you like to come to India with me?”

“What? You can’t be serious?” He craned his neck to try and look at me.

“Hey! Keep your eye on the road!” I said, tickled by his exuberance. “And yes, I am serious. I’m a strong believer that if you pay attention, you’ll make the right choices.”

He pulled into a spot by the departures area, put the taxi in park, and turned to look at me. “And you think I’m part of those right choices? You don’t know me.”

I stared into his eyes and saw someone of gentle spirit. “I haven’t taken many chances in my life, and I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. We may be strangers, but I think we can become fast friends. I’ve been paralyzed to make any important decisions for a long time, but in this short cab ride, I’ve made a decision to go to India, and to invite you to come along. I can’t tell you how good that feels.”

“8M27, 8M27, where are you?” came the call over the taxi dispatch.

He picked up the radio. “This is 8M27, I’m here at La Guardia.”

“What’s taking you so long? A Mr. Thompson is waiting for you at Arrivals.”

His eyes twinkled as he gave me a smile. I smiled back and nodded. “I won’t be picking up a Mr. Thompson,” he said, “and you’d better get someone down here to pick up this cab as well.”

“Have you lost your mind? What the hell do you think you’re doing?” said the voice over the radio.

I giggled to myself as I heard my Englishman say, “I’m leaving for India, boss, I’m leaving for India.”


Filed under Short Stories & Poetry

Inside the Author’s Mind – Suzannah Burke

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Filed under Author & Artist Interviews