The Smallest Acorn – FTS October #1

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The Smallest Acorn

Alice loved collecting acorns and chestnuts with her grandfather. They would spend hour after hour walking through the woods beyond their old log cabin collecting and talking about this, that, and nothing in particular. Even though she was only twelve years old, Alice understood time with her grandparents was getting short. She overheard her mother crying one night and telling her father that it had come back. Alice didn’t know what it was that came back, but she was happy when her mother asked if she wanted to visit her grandparents.

On this particular trip through the woods, her grandfather led her down a new trail rather than their usual one that went down by the lake. It didn’t take her long to figure out why. The entire trail was lined with oak trees as tall and as thick as she had ever seen.

“These trees been here as long as I have,” her grandfather said, sitting on a fallen log to catch his breath.

“They’re wonderful,” Alice said, looking at all the colors that blanketed the clear, blue sky.

Alice started looking around along the ground for more acorns while her grandfather began telling her a story about these woods. She was really only half listening, but when the words magic, healing, and acorn reached her ears, she stopped and started listening. However, it didn’t take her very long to become distracted by the smallest acorn she had ever seen.

This acorn was perfect in every way, except it was only a third the size of a normal acorn. When she picked it up, it felt electric. As if some energy flowed out of the acorn and up her arm. It tickled and made her giggle.

“Whatcha giggling about,” her grandfather asked.

“This little acorn,” she said, holding it up so he could see it.

Her grandfather began to shake with joy. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It was the exact acorn he hoped she would find. He knew she wasn’t listening all that carefully, but finding that particular acorn was the goal. The longstanding oaks surrounding them seemed all at once closer to him. Alice didn’t seem to notice the oaks were closer, almost sheltering them both. She handed the acorn to her grandfather. He closed it in his hand and his smile grew big.

Alice noticed a change in him, it had been a while since she saw that broad smile he used to have when they played together. “Did it make your fingers tingle, grandfather?” She looked more closely at him.

“Yes, my child. Your finding this littlest acorn is the best thing!” He looked around him and up at the trees.

What Alice saw next was not anything she could have ever imagined. Not only did he have a broad smile on his face, but there was a twinkle in his eyes that she’d never seen before. With the small acorn still gripped tightly in his fist, her grandfather stood up and actually started to do a little dance.

“Grandfather,” she said, her voice a mixture of amusement and concern. “Maybe you should sit back down on the log.”

“Nonsense,” her grandfather said. “I haven’t felt this good since I was a much younger man. I have so much energy and I’m feeling a joy I haven’t experienced in years. I know that, thanks to you, my dear child, thanks to your having found this small acorn and given it to me to hold, that the cancer has left my broken, old body.”

“I don’t understand how that’s possible, grandfather,” Alice said, a confused and worried look on her face.

“Let me tell you a story, Alice,” he said, sitting back down on the log next to her. “You’re going to find this a little hard to believe, child, but I promise you that it will explain everything.”

“Once there were many oak trees upon this land. Lodge pole pine, quaking aspen, sugar and red maple trees, and many others, as far as the eye could see. Then man began to develop the land. Use it, as it is intended, to sustain us and provide food and shelter. The trees began to disappear. Pretty soon there weren’t many left, except on private land like this is.”

Alice shifted a little impatiently. She loved her grandfather and his stories, but sometimes it took him a long time to get to the point. And she was very curious indeed about the tiny acorn.

Grandfather, perhaps realizing he was losing his granddaughter’s attention; continued. “Yes some people held parts of the land and didn’t allow others to come in and continue destroying the earth. You, Alice, are the last in a line of very special people. Because you see, you have a great gift, one I’ve not seen on this earth in my whole life until now.”

“Me?” squeaked Alice. “Grandfather, I’m just ordinary..an ordinary little girl.” Alice was secretly embarrassed by her very short stature and her petite frame.

“No!” Her grandfather spoke sternly, more than he ever had to Alice. “You proved yourself when you found this acorn. See how tiny it is? It’s a Quercus phellos or ‘very small’ acorn. It’s a baby in the span of acorn and oak lives. Sort of just like you, Alice.”

Alice was indignant. “I’m TWELVE!” she sputtered, “I’m not a baby!”

The old man’s face was glorious with love and amusement at his granddaughter.

“Let me explain.” Grandfather said, “You have the power of healing. This acorn is just the focus point you needed for your gift to express itself. Always keep this little nut close to you. And when you need your gift, as you will many times in your life, just hold it. Wait for that tickling and tingling to run up your arm and into your body. Then let it all out again. Because you and your acorn are still so young, your power is all the more potent.”

He continued, a bit more gently: “I know this is a lot to absorb, but as you said yourself, you’re no longer a baby. You are ready to become what you ARE…do you understand?”

Alice thought quietly for a while, and then holding the tiny acorn in her hand, but not too tightly, began to understand her Grandfather’s words. “Okay, Grandfather, I think I know what you’re talking about. I’ll do my best to make you proud.” She slipped the acorn into her pocket and smiled.

“Good.” Grandfather reached down and took Alice’s hand. Together they started home. “Good. I’ll teach you what I can while there’s still time.”

Alice stopped and pulled her hand from his. Colored leaves fell around them as she stared at her grandfather in dismay. “But, I don’t understand. I you said the cancer was gone.” Her lip trembled and tears filled her eyes.

Grandfather knelt down in front of Alice and took both of her hands in his. “Listen to me child and understand. Healing does not mean defeating death, because death cannot be defeated. It comes for us all. Healing means to take away the pain of an illness. The cancer your little acorn cured will make my time here much better, but it will not make it very much longer.” He stroked her hair and wiped the tear from her eye. “You have to be strong like the tree that will surely come from your acorn.”

“But Grandfather, please. I don’t understand. Why bring me all this way? Why help me find the acorn? Why teach me anything at all if you’re only going to die in the end?”

Grandfather sighed and sat back on his heels. He gestured to the forest surrounding them. “These trees we’re under, whose glory we admire. They are only here because someone before us planted them a long time ago.” He stood up and reached for her hand again. “I brought you here, child not because I wanted to be cured or even in the hope that you would find your acorn, though I’m glad you did. Initially, I just wanted to spend time with you.” They started again towards home. “However, to answer your question: Hope, my child, comes when one plants a tree under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”


This story was brought to you by:

The Haunted Wordsmith
The Bag Lady
This, That, and the Other
Sparks from a Combustible Mind
Patience of Willow

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The Black Family Murders

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Everyone in town knew about apartment 3C. At least they thought they did, and they delighted in telling the new kid all it.

“The original owner of the house, Mr. Black, was married and had three small children. One day he went insane and killed his wife in the study –”

“It wasn’t in the study, Sam.”

“Shut up, Angela. I’m the one telling the story.”

“Then tell it right, dimwit. Mr. Black murdered his wife in the greenhouse. He murdered their maid in the study.”

“Whatever, miss know-it-all. Anyways, one day went insane and killed his wife in the greenhouse, then killed the maid in the study while his children slept in their beds. He chopped up his kids and threw them out the window –”

“He did not, Samuel Link! He smothered the littlest one, cut the throat of the middle child, and bashed the oldest with a sledge hammer.”

The lunch bell rang and the kids returned to their class for the rest of the day. Sam and Angela showed Brian everything he needed to do after lunch. At the end of the end of the day, they showed him all the little shops around his school, and pointed out all the best places to eat and where to avoid unless he wanted to meet the Bowery boys and their gang.

Brian seemed to be inquisitive, not afraid of anything, and overly polite. Sam and Angela saw an opportunity to have a great laugh after taking him on a tour of the cemetery.

“They say that if any child knocks on the door to apartment 3C, they will die a horrible death by morning,” Sam said.

“I don’t believe that,” Brian said.

“Then prove it,” Angela taunted.

“Why?”

“Chicken?”

“No, it’s just an urban legend. Every town has one. Every town has that one haunted place that will kill people.”

Sam and Angela began making chicken noises, but Brian just ignored them.

“Besides, I am familiar with the legend you told me, but you have it wrong.”

“Oh,” Sam said, “listen to the new know-it-all. I think you’ve got some competition, Ang.”

Angela’s smile twisted into a wicked grin. “If you think we have it wrong, new boy, then what’s the right story?”

Brian sat down on a headstone and smiled. “First of all, the Black family didn’t have a maid, nor did they have only three children. Second of all, Mr. Black also died that night. So who killed him?”

Sam and Angela looked at each other. He was right, Mr. Black was found the following morning by his butler, but how did he know this?

“Go on,” Sam said.

Brian sighed. “The Black family had four children and the legend states that three children must knock on the door to summon the spirit of Edward Black.”

“Who’s he?”

“Edward Black is their eldest child. A child born after Mrs. Black held a seance in the front parlor late one evening. It is said that the child was not of human creation, but rather than of the demon they contacted.”

“Whoa,” Sam said, gulping. ” I don’t believe you though.”

“Hey wanna come to my house tomorrow after school,” Angela asked, trying to change the subject.

Brian laughed. “Now who’s chicken? I dare you to go with me and knock on the door.”

“Why would we want to do that? It’s just a joke, man. You’re cool. Let’s just meet up after school tomorrow and go to Ang’s house.”

“Chicken.” Brian made chicken noises knowing he would eventually get them. “I double dare you.”

“No. We’ve done it before. We don’t have to do it again.” Angela shifted on her feet.

“I triple dog dare you.”

That did it. Sam was never one to willfully lose face when triple dog dared. “Fine. We’ll do it just to make you happy.”

On the walk over there, Brian started laughing. More like a cackle than a laugh but neither really wanted to ask him what was so funny.

“So, Brian, um, where are you from anyways,” Sam asked.

“Around.”

He was so open all day at school, but now evasive. Angela and Sam both shivered. Had they just made a deal with the devil?

The former mansion was more oppressive than they ever remembered it. Every time they had been by the old place there was always activity. Children running and playing, mom’s putting out their washing to dry, or workmen going in and out as they got their supplies for the renovation of the attic.

The trio made there way into the main hall and started up the staircase. As they approached the third floor, Sam began to shake. Angela was beyond terrified, but refused to show it.

“Hey, wait, where are we going,” Sam asked as they passed the third floor and started walking toward the attic entrance.

“They were not murdered in the third floor bedroom, silly. They were all murdered in the attic.”

“How–how do you know that? I’ve always heard it was in their bedroom.”

Brian started laughing. “Don’t you think I would know where I slaughtered my entire family?”

Sam and Angela screamed bloody murder, ran down the stairs, and out the front doors. They didn’t stop running until they were on their block and only after they made sure Brian was not following them.

Brian’s dad opened the attic door and slid his hammer back into his tool belt. His son’s laughter made him laugh. “Why are we laughing, kiddo?”

“Oh, I was just having some fun with my new friends who think the place is haunted.”

“Oh.” His dad laughed harder. “It’ll cost us a fortune to fix the old place up, but it is certainly not haunted. What do they think happened here?”

“They think great-grandpa murdered his family in apartment 3C.”

His father laughed so hard he started to cry. “Good lord, where did they ever come up with a story like that?”

“Don’t know, but it is kinda cool to finally be a part of an urban legend.”

“Yeah, I guess it is.”


This was inspired by the daily writing challenge prompts.

Finish the Story — October #2

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Winnie’s Cookies

Winnie lived in a large, three-story Victorian on a dead end street. Even though she kept the inside of her house immaculate, the outside was falling apart. It was exactly how she liked it. No, it would be more appropriate to say that she loved it that way. She went out of her way to invite spiders to set up home on the porch and bats under the eaves near the roof.

In general, Winnie was a quiet person who loved to do things for others, but no one ever asked for her help. It was a lonely life, but she was still happy. She had her cat, Wilbur, and that was enough. The only visitors she ever received were the local children begging for candy and then grumbling when they get handed homemade cookies.

“Well, would you look at that, Wilbur,” she said one afternoon in mid-October, “the mailman actually stopped here.”

Wilbur opened his eyes, meowed, then went back to sleep near the fireplace.

Winnie went out to retrieve the mail and was shocked when she opened the mailbox and found …

To be continued


I am tagging Powered by Robots to provide the next part.

To participate, read the story as you receive it, then create the next part, and pass the story onto someone else until the story is finished. Please either pingback or post a link to your contribution in the comments of the original post.

Tom and Toodles

Tom loved sitting in the middle of the fence. It was warm and the sun always shone, but that wasn’t why he loved sitting up there most. He would sit on his backyard perch and watch the dogs on both sides of the fence jump, bark, and try to get him. But they couldn’t. The dog owners abided by the adage that good fences make for good neighbors, so both had very tall, very sturdy fences.

So, Tom sat in the middle of the fence, cleaned his face, and laughed to himself at how silly the dogs looked until one day he saw something scurry under the fence and into the yard on the left side of the fence, then over to the right side. It was small, brown, and looked quite tasty. He watched as it scurried between the two, and as he watched his mouth watered thinking of how it would feel to catch that brown ball of energy.

He couldn’t make up his mind if he wanted to risk jumping down, since both dogs were out in there yards as usual, so he sat in the middle of the fence and watched…and drooled.

Now, the funny thing about sitting in the middle of the fence, is that unless you make a decision for yourself, someone else may come along and make it for you. And that is indeed just what happened. Toodles also saw the delicious morsel running between the yards…and she saw Tom just sitting there watching. And well, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. She decided for Tom. Unfortunately, for Tom, it was the wrong decision.

As Toodles ate the reward of her decision in the middle of the fence, she watched Tom learn why it’s not good to be indecisive when sitting in the middle of the fence.


This short was inspired by FOWC and Fandango – fence