Category Archives: Short Stories

I’m moving . . .

New name, new address ~

All new posts will be made on new site and in process of transferring files.
I do hope you’ll hop on the gypsy wagon and ride along!


Single thought


Not a single thought was given when he opened the first bottle just a little past noon, savored the flavor and called it lunch. By three his productivity was lagging and he looked at the clock, wondering if he’d make the five o’clock deadline or just make a quick call and push out delivery till tomorrow.

Not a single thought was given when he stuck one in the drink koozie for the forty-five minute drive ahead, slightly staggering once he reached home. Ten minutes of nonsensical conversation with the wife then stop off at the fridge for another on the way out to the man cave. Half a bottle later and he was done.

Not a single thought was given when his son returned from his date, coming through the back instead of the front, finding him slouched in his recliner, head hanging as if his neck was made of rubber.

“Did you see your father?”
“Yea, he was sleeping.”

She shook her head and asked how his evening went, knowing full well he was passed out cold, but saying so would only incite a defensive leap of denial, so she said nothing instead.

An hour later she went out and looked on him, just to make sure he was still breathing, then returned to her room where she went to bed alone.

Not a single thought was given when he rolled out of bed the next morning, donned his biker wear and headed out for the day on two wheels. Leaving a hole in the screen where the cats could get out, a sink full of dishes she’d been looking at for a week; a courtyard taken over with vines and weeds, empty cupboards with nothing to eat.

She heard him coming down the road not long after he’d left, wondering if he realized there was much to be done and decided to stay and help instead; but he’d only run to the bank, walked in and put money on the dresser, told her he’d be back later, as he turned around and left.

Only a single thought was given when twelve hours later he returned, found her note that said she was done; went to the fridge and got himself a cold one, mumbled under his breath, “Crazy Bitch…”

©2013 jillterry |


He sat in the reclining chair, feet up, air cool, gasping for each and every breath; 19″ color television forever in his range of view, always set to PBS, because there was no satellite hookup or cable; it was an office after all, a place of business, where one lone craftsman struggled to scrape out a living.

Eighty-seven years old and only four people in the entire world that he knew; each and every one of them, going out of their way, following the goodness in their hearts, to help the old man in any way they could.

For years he had done alright for himself; in his old white van with his box of tools; up and down the beach he’d go, taking any odd job he could get, giving it his all, as if his was the most important job in the world; and to him it was; knowing how tight-knit the beach community was and that if he made one business owner happy, chances were he’d find work elsewhere.

He hadn’t always been that bad off, not back in the day when he reported to the mob boss; all his needs and wants taken care of; and at the time, giving up his identity and living off the grid didn’t seem like much of a trade-off at all. Until the day he was forced to flee to the south, his train ticket to Jacksonville leaving him barely with anything left; but the beat of his heart and the air in his lungs.

Two things taken completely for granted, that he lived long enough to feel himself struggle for; praying each night as he closed his eyes that God would show mercy and not force him to wake to see another day.

Then one morning they came for him, just as he knew they eventually would. The craftsman whose office he’d turned into a flop house, stood in the corner with his head hanging down; the old girl Cecelia, who had once gotten him an under-the-table job, who still came to see him on a semi-regular basis, and bought him a cell phone to call if he needed something, stood by his side, arm resting on his chair; then Bob and Mike, flanked by paramedics, who had each taken him in at one time or another, and bought the camper trailor that for five years had sat parked behind the craftsman’s shop.

He struggled and he fought, protesting the entire time; cursing the craftsman for making the call, finally begging as they got him strapped on the gurney, “I’ll clean up your office, boss – I won’t make any more messes. I’ll move back out to the trailor, just don’t let them take me…

It was more than any of their hearts could bear, but he was a sick old man on the verge of death. He was in hospital for nearly three weeks, lasting only 18 hours after they made the decision and turned off the ventilator.

A week later, Cecelia pulled up to the shop on her way to work; explaining to the craftsman that she’d been out of town and had received several calls from the old man’s cell phone, but each time she answered he hadn’t said anything, just sat on the line until she eventually hung up; so she wanted to check if everything was alright before she went rushing off to the hospital.

He shook his head and looked down at the ground, took a drag off his hand-rolled smoke, then looked back up and met her eyes, “No, I’m afraid Pappy passed on early Saturday morning,” he said in his slow southern drawl.

Tears welled in her eyes and she dug a tissue out of her purse. “I don’t understand,” she said as she dabbed at her eyes, “the last call I got was just last night. Do you know if someone has his phone?”

He told her that Bob and Mike had cleaned the office and taken all of his things, including the camper trailor; leaving no trace that the old man had ever been there at all; and that as far as he knew, he always kept his cell phone in his pocket and maybe it fell out on the way or in hospital and someone took it, but that he’d check with them both and let her know.

Bob rode up on his bike that evening just as he was closing up shop. When told about Cecelia’s visit and asked about the phone, Bob said the same thing had happened to him three different times; that he’d received a call from the old man’s phone, but no one said anything when he answered.

They deduced that he’d obviously lost it once they’d taken him from the shop and whoever found it was going through his short list of contacts, making prank calls. Bob said he’d call Cecelia and let her know, so she could get the service shut off before they ran up a fortune and she got stuck with the bill.

Saturday morning came with the rain and though he had no pressing jobs, the craftsman decided to take advantage of the ugly day and go to the shop and reorganized his office, which he hadn’t yet had a chance to do. He stopped on the way for his coffee and newspaper and spent a quiet hour sitting at his desk, in the office that once again was his, completely at peace and uninterrupted.

He finished off his tepid coffee, folded the newspaper and took it out to the recycle bin; went to his truck and grabbed the supplies from Office Depot, went back inside and emptied the bag onto his desk. He unwrapped a pack of invoices, gathered up envelopes and boxes of pens, thinking to himself how nice it would be to have his supply cabinet back, that had been a medicine chest and pantry for far too long.

He walked across the office and opened the cabinet doors, and there on the shelf, sitting next to the television remote, indicator light flashing low battery, was the old man’s missing cell phone…

©2012 jill terry


“Look at all the little shells – why’s the beach all mixed up with shells,” the little boy asked inquisitively; football balloon tied to one hand, a man he looked like he had no business being with dragging him toward the shore with the other.

“The beach is all shells, ground up and washed ashore, called Coquina, ” I wanted to tell him, when his question when unanswered and completely ignored; but remained silent instead, keeping a watchful eye, as something about the situation gave me an unsettling vibe.

The man stood and watched for a while then made his way back up to his rusted El Camino, got in and lit a smoke; leaving the little boy alone, toppling over and under at the force of the waves, coming up smiling and laughing each time, when they just as easily could have carried him away.

The man finished his smoke then made his way back down to retrieve the boy, not saying a word as he excitedly asked, “did you see me…did you see me!?”

Hours later I gathered my things and reluctantly made my exit from the beach; deciding to take the short route back, instead of scenic A1A. I passed the castle house and gazed in awe, which after seventeen years I still always do, then slowly approached the corner with the carousel, tempted to stop and take a lone ride; and that’s when my stomach turned, as he came into sight.

The little boy with his deflating balloon and a cardboard sign that said;
“I’m HUNGRY – Need MONEY for FOOD!” standing alone at the 3-way intersection; and the man in the distance laying in the grass, cigarette dangling from his disgusting mouth, leisurely relaxing under the shade of a tree…

image & prose ©2012 Jill Terry

Glancing back

I thought for a moment, and then told myself no; it couldn’t possibly be. Then the Barista called out your name and you stepped up to get your coffee and when the light over the bar illuminated your profile; granted is now covered with an intricate and deliberate layer of just the right length stubble, I knew that face and remembered it well.

Sitting round the campfire, barely ten you must’ve been; the others off gallivanting and running wild through the woods, and you at my side, paying the others no mind; drawing pictures of George Washington in the notebook I had in my bag, talking about the Civil War; opening and sharing yourself and your interests, wanting to see my reaction more than anything; see if I thought it was silly and dismissed it, or took and interest and actually listened.

And listen to you I did.

When you gathered your courage and asked if I ever have thoughts in my head that I can hear, that drive me crazy and that I can’t make go away; and at that moment, it mattered not where your father was, who he was off playing the attention whore for or with; everyone else at that campground disappeared and for that brief moment in time, you and I connected; not as adult to child, not as a troop leader to one of her cubs, but as human beings. One very much aware and in-tuned with spiritual self, and the other just beginning to figure there was a difference.

You said it drove you crazy that you couldn’t make them stop and you didn’t much like the things they said; I told you I understood perfectly, have them too, and the best thing you could do is write those thoughts down – get them out of your mind and onto paper. And I promised you it would make it better, because that’s what I’ve done my whole life; and you looked at me with that sweet little smile and your eyes lit up as if I’d just given you the secret to the universe.

And then you turned the page inside my notebook and wrote something that I have never forgotten, nor will I ever. You wrote; No matter what thoughts are inside our head, it doesn’t mean we really are who we think we are.

Then you handed me the notebook and watched as I read it; and if I somehow failed to express with words to you at the time, I hope that in some way you realized how moved I was by the profundity of what you bled onto that paper and shared with me.

So young, so innocent, so filled with confusion and questions and self doubt; yet so naturally curious, inquisitive and knowing; knowing there was something more than the trappings of our daily lives and so ready to grasp and understand it.

I told your father what an extraordinary and gifted boy you were and that you needed special spiritual attention; that you were at the point that feeding your soul with the proper knowledge was crucial. He told me your grandmother was a religious woman and you spent a lot of time with her and that he and your mother planned to start going to church on a regular basis, not to worry about it.

I tried to explain to him that religion, organized or not, was not what I mean by feeding your soul, but he either missed my point, which I doubted at the time, or simply didn’t want to hear, which I believed to be the case.

No matter, it wasn’t my place to interfere; I offered what I could and left it at that. But when I went out and bought you a journal and a special pen to write in it, he was very standoffish and almost offended; telling me that he would be the one to buy you a journal and I didn’t have to do that. I told him I knew I didn’t have to; I did it because I wanted to. And so it came to be that I was, in fact, able to give you that gift, from me to you; along with a few Civil War trinkets I’d found while rummaging an antique show at the mall.

I still have the little thank you card that you gave me, with the watermelon, pink and white polka dots and tiny bow on the front; in a little leather box where I keep special mementos. I wasn’t around long enough to know if you ever filled that journal, though I’m sure that you did. And I’d like to think you’ve been keeping one ever since.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw you, after the truth was revealed; we were in Bealls, you were with your mom and I was by myself; you saw me and smiled, made a motion in my direction, as if you wanted to come talk to me; and then your smile faded and a look of sadness and disappointment washed over your face, when you caught yourself and remembered that I was the enemy.

And so the other day when you left with your coffee, got in your car parked right next to mine; no longer that precious little boy who I once shared a special and fleeting bond with, but a grown young man, with a future wide open; you sat there and waited, wondering if I recognized you, wondering if I would acknowledge in some way; but I didn’t, because I couldn’t.

And the reason I couldn’t is because I’ve no idea what thoughts or stories have been put in your head; about me, about the situation, what truths or lies; and the last thing I wanted, was for you to think that my looking in your direction and acknowledging you with even a smile, was somehow inappropriate on my part.

But as I drove away, my own thoughts tormenting my mind as they have for so long now, I thought about what you wrote by the campfire, all those years ago –

No matter what thoughts are inside our head, it doesn’t mean we really are who we think we are.

Thank you for that.

©2012 jill terry


I haven’t seen or spoken to him since the day of her funeral.

We sat at the table with him and he made us laugh, with his stories and orneriness, just being himself. He was a pillar of strength, though the pain was clear in his eyes, he forced smiles for her sake and I found out that day, after forty-four years, he thinks that I am a pretty girl; and silly as it is, I felt about five years old.

I never was very close to him growing up, but over the last several years we’ve become more so. He amazes me with his wealth of knowledge and common sense, from a lifetime of living, lessons learned, mistakes made; and speaking his mind, shooting it straight, because that’s just who he is, when the wall comes down and he speaks his truth.

His knowledge of the world stems from a lifetime of reading and watching nothing but public television, for they never had cable television, or even a VCR. But pick a topic and he can talk it better than most.

I received a card from him today, a simple holiday greeting, inside at the bottom written in bold, underlined three times was one single word…LOVE and I sat alone, in my corner and cried.

For not only have I been selfishly wrapped in my own world, driving myself crazy inside my own mind, but I didn’t even think to send him a card, or bother to call and wish him Merry Christmas, and ask him how he was; his first one without her in nearly seventy years.

He’s lonely; horribly, terribly miserable and alone. Just as I am, but for very different reasons; but he remembered me and he made the effort, when the only person I’ve thought of for months now, is myself.

This was my wake-up call, my reality check if you will; that elements in my world have got to change, or another year, I simply will not survive.

Thank you, Grandpa, for giving me so much more than a holiday card and underlined three times, your love in bold…

©2011 Jill Terry

L I F E . . .

She was sending texts from the hospital, waiting for the doctor; nervous, as this day has been long in coming. I told her to find a Zen spot and focus. She said she didn’t know if she had a Zen spot; I laughed and told her that’s why she needed to find one!

She laughed, nervously, and said she hoped she was able to find one. It’s something she always talked about, then for a while simply gave up on; as the chances were slim and even if, would be high risk. But she’s done so good, right up until just a few days ago. Granted there were times I followed closely down the hall behind her, or caught her doing something she didn’t need to be doing, sent her back to her office and completed the task for her. But through it all she’s been strong, positive, hopeful, and whether she realizes or not, absolutely glowing.

She lost her mother a few years ago and I know that’s been weighing heavy on her heart, wanting her here to share and receive the support only a mother can give. I felt helpless, wanting to do something more for her, but all I had to offer were my words. And so I gave her these…

Just know that every path you’ve ever chosen or followed has led to this moment…

She responded back immediately; “That’s why I needed you…Words of Wisdom,” and I knew then I’d given her exactly what she sought from me and I needn’t worry about not being there to hold her hand, feed her ice chips or help her breathe. My job was done and I knew she was going to be fine.

I thought about her as soon as I woke this morning, walked out of the bedroom and found my own 6’ little man laying on the sofa already ready for school, and was immediately transported thirteen years into the past. I sat down beside him and took him there with me.

The first time I held him, laying in recovery; looking over and seeing my dad walking toward me with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen, carrying that precious bundle of life, gently cradled in his big, powerful arms; walking up beside me and placing him in mine.

My demanding that he not be taken to the nursery, but remain in my room with me, for fear that someone would snatch him away; my hand touching his little body the entire night; his little chest rising and falling, feeling empty, yet fulfilled that he was no longer inside me, but slept peacefully at my side.

Nurse Ratched towering over me, not giving me a chance, not showing an ounce of patience; telling me instead that if I didn’t get him to eat she was going to take him away and make him eat! Immediately called my mom, freaking out, in tears, get here quick I said, you can have your breakfast later. And the relief I felt the moment she walked through that door, came straight to the side of the bed, picked up the bottle, put it to his lips, rubbed his little cheeks and he immediately started sucking.

Thirteen years of moments shared; joy, laughter, tears, fears, amazing accomplishments, life lessons learned; and a love the likes of which I have never known, nor will I again; the love between a mother and her child.

He had tears in his eyes by the time I finished, stood up and hugged me tight, then thanked me for being his mom. I love that more than words can say, but as I stood before him, looking up into those same beautiful blue eyes and that face I so cherish and adore, I couldn’t help but remember those times when I thought to myself, I couldn’t wait till he was old enough to…

And now, as my friend anxiously awaits the arrival of her own son, I wish that I could bundle mine back up and keep him with me always.

© 2011 Jill Terry


The fog was thick in my head, as I bid my husband good day, took my coffee and left the café.

Two miles down the road and I rammed the brakes through the floorboard, to keep from eating the cute little bug I apparently didn’t see stopped right in front of me; my bag slamming into the back of my seat, sunglasses and mints filling the dash, wedged against the windshield, too far for me to reach.

I pulled over and sat for a few then made my way back out into the flow; less than five minutes later it was déjà vu, only this time a giant truck that I probably would have just careened right under.

I got in the slow lane and let the world pass by; ignoring the horns, flying fingers and fists pounding steering wheels. I was going the goddamn speed limit, but everyone was in competition, racing to the red light, on their way to nowhere.

I found an empty lot, pulled over and parked. Sent a few texts then reclined my seat, noted the business sign beside me and wondered what in the hell a Yum-Yum Tree was.

Thirty minutes passed and the dizzy was subsiding, and since my boss’ response was “be safe” I thought it best to head on in to office. I pulled onto University, taking my time; the strip of Jacksonville I’ve come to call, Boulevard of the Bizarre. And even through my lightheaded haze, I was still focused enough to see.

He was 80 if he was a day; in his neon green safety vest, hunched forward, walking slowly, making his way up the median, of the busiest intersection in the entire city. Clutching to his chest, as if the only thing keeping him balanced, the six page Times Union, because that’s what it’s been reduced to, though it will still cost you a buck twenty-five.

He shouldn’t have been there, peddling for survival; he should be out somewhere fishing, along the banks of the river, enjoying himself, leisurely passing what time he has left.

Such a sad state most of us now face; forced to work until we die, after paying our dues the whole of our lives. Somebody should seriously do something about that, while the puppets on strings dance for the masters agenda.

9:00 a.m. and the parking lot already full; men you would think should be somewhere working; stuffing dollar bills watching strippers fuck brass poles. Paying for their egos to be hunched and stroked, and for the right price, taken to the back room, where she’ll do it for you till you cum; so long as you’re a good boy and look, don’t touch.

Two blocks down and the big building sits abandoned. The giant sign now torn in half, whipping wildly in the wind; thanking Jacksonville for 45 years of customer loyalty but sadly Liberty Furniture now going out of business; huge liquidation sale, everything must go.

Another half mile down on the right, they line the sidewalk waving their signs. 7000+ babies murdered by their mothers – Pregnant? Let us Help! And the pastor in his robes leading them in prayer; just a block away from Memorial Hospital, where a newborn was found in the dumpster, its mother long gone, unwanted, unloved, now a ward of the State.

They claim life begins at conception, and terminating a pregnancy is murder, yet they turn a blind eye to all the live children who suffer; continue their rants in the name of God, because everyone is entitled to take up a cause.

At the end of the day, counting the jewels they believe they’ve earned, for their crown of glory, gifted from the Lord. Not realizing that judging, demoralizing, demeaning and damning, will earn them only thorns and a guarantee of nothing.

I shook my head and re-stirred the fog, not to worry, I was nearly almost there. Looked in the rearview and saw the blackened sky, being chased now I was, by a wicked looking storm. I accelerated just a tad, hoping to beat the downpour; for there was no doubt I would crumble and melt away, if the rain were to catch and wash over me this day.

© 2011 Jill Terry


Standing in the waiting line, minding no one’s business but her own, when a voice too familiar spoke out from behind her; “I used to have that all the time,” she heard him say; “It’s even better than it looks,” he finished with a chuckle; as her body tensed and her blood ran cold; knowing full well he wasn’t referring the pumpkin spice latte just put back on the menu.

She turned her head, glancing slowly over her shoulder; and there he stood in all his egocentric glory, with what appeared to be a new country club buddy; who looked her once over with eyes of a predator, having just identified his next meal.

She looked down at her phone, at what moments before she’d been lost in, before the unwanted, calculated interruption; slowly she grinned, taking two steps toward him; then standing center between them, she tore her gaze away, raised her head till her eyes met his, leaned in and softly said…

“I used to think yours was the best sex I ever had, even though you fumbled like a school boy, and never once did you bring me to climax.” She smiled as she looked back down at her phone, took a deep cleansing breath then exhaled the words, “Silly girl…”

Her eyes never once left the palm of her hand; her voice throaty, trembling at times, her thumb once caressed the screen in longing; and it seemed for a moment she spoke to no one but herself –

He knows the softness
The warmth
The feel of naked flesh

The helplessness
The beauty
The need
The sensitivity

All happening inside
Opening to his touch
He whispers deep
Hot on my neck

What he sees
What he wants
What’s coming next

He uses his fingers
His tongue
His breath

He touches
He plays
He makes me beg

And just as I
Reach for him
Ready to

Her words cut short, as the Barista called her name; she raised her voice in unison with her eyes, locking with his while noting his stunned expression, “Make it a Quint and hold the whip…”

© 2011 Jill Terry

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