Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Other Side (Bonus Content) by Leanne Dyck

 The Other Side was the most popular story I shared in 2021. Each chapter earned more page views than any other story or book review or...anything, by a lot. And of these chapters, the most popular were those about Becky and Mara. And so... To celebrate and in gratitude, I share...

This scene takes place when Mara and Owen are still living in Becky and Tom's basement apartment.

photo by ldyck

The Other Side

(Bonus Content)

The basement grew smaller and smaller. The pile of magazines and newspapers encircling the futon increased in size every day. A collection of dirty dishes overran the counter.

"This place is beginning to look like a pigsty," I spat, to myself--but loud enough for Owen to hear, even through his office door.

The door opened and he came out.

"You keep your office so clean and tidy but..."

He started to hum. Hadn't he heard me?

With a louder voice, I asked, "Owen, don't you think it's time to wash the dishes?"

"Go ahead."

I fought hard to stay calm. "It's not my job. We agreed that whoever works at home would do the housework."

"Well, you're not working today. It's Sunday. See you later," he called from the stairs, "I'm going to the park with Tom and Rusty." 

"Fine, the dishes will still be here, waiting for you," I muttered.

I kicked my way through the clutter to the futon. I shoved a pile of laundry--dirty or clean-- off the futon and unearthed my paperback. The book worked magic and took me far away from the mess.

My reading was disturbed by repeated knocking. Not waiting for an answer, Becky burst into our apartment. "Now that the boys are gone, I thought us girls should have a chat."

"No, I'd like to..." I held up my book.

"It's been so nice and sunny lately. I hope it continues. I love to hang the laundry out on the line on a sunny day. It gives the clothes such a fresh smell. Do you like to do housework?"

"Hmm, well... There's just other things that..."

"You don't." She sniffed at the dishes on the counter and made a face. "I can tell. Soon you'll have rats."

Unkind words popped into my head, I'm staring at one right now. It was very unlike me to have such thoughts and I shoved them out of my head. "Owen does the housework."

"Owen? Owen's a man. Just because you don't like to work doesn't mean you should force your responsibilities on poor Owen." She frowned at me. "Men simply aren't cut out for women's work."

"Owen and I agreed that whoever worked from home would--."

"Owen works so hard to keep a roof over your head." She glared at me. "I would think the least you can do is a few dishes. You do want to continue to have a happy marriage, don't you?"

What did she know that I didn't? "Did Owen say something to Tom...?" Worry drove me off the futon and to the counter. I organized the dishes and turned on the tap. 

"I'm sure you'll feel much better once the dishes are done and after you've cleaned up a little." As I continued to work, I heard her footsteps on the stairs.

Encouraged by the popularity of The Other Side, I plan to share a few longer stories in 2022. 

Happy 2022!

photo by ldyck

Helpful Writing Article...




On this blog in December...

Wednesday, December 29
Podcast: Author Reading
I got engaged to protect something precious to me--my life.


Sneak a peek at 2022 and review 2021...

I began 2021 with a set of goals firmly in my mind. I wanted to complete three book-length

Friday, December 24, 2021

My CBC Radio Christmas Tradition (short story) by Leanne Dyck

This short story was inspired by Alan Maitland's reading of The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth.

photo by ldyck

 My parents' radio is on a shelf in the kitchen surrounded by Christmas ornaments, cookbooks, and potted plants. I turn the knob.

"Merry Christmas from your Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. We present, for your listening pleasure," the announcer continues, "Frederick Forsyth's The Shepherd as read by Alan Maitland."

The next voice is Mr. Maitland's, "While waiting for the control tower to clear..."

I wait for this story each year. It captivates me. I'm in the cockpit. I am that pilot, trying to get home for Christmas. All is well until I hear, "The problem started quietly."

A rush of worry travels from my stomach to my heart. No compass. No radio. The cockpit is transformed from a safe cocoon into a coffin. I'm lost in that endless night sky, facing death's unmistakable call. The plane is going to crash and I'm going to drown in the sea, below. 

Please protect me...

Prayer--that's all I have left. Is it enough? It has to be. But what if it isn't?

Anger replaces prayer

Why did I...? Why didn't they...? I don't deserve...?

Acceptance...

I've lived a good life... In this cockpit, in the plane, this is my favourite place... At least I didn't...

Sadness...

I don't want to die... I have so much left... 

Regret...

Why didn't I...? I should have...? It's too... My life is over...

"It was another aircraft," Mr. Maitland reads. 

And I'm no longer alone. A mysterious stranger answers my prayer and leads me safely home. 

Words... Imagination... For me, it makes a precious gift. One I will treasure all my life.


Thank you As It Happens for sharing this recording for over forty years.

Frederick Forsyth's The Shepherd as read by Alan Maitland on CBC Radio

And  new-to-me story for Christmas...

The Story of Iceland's 13 Yule Lads

And new for everyone for Christmas...

Tiny Reindeer Story Time with Chris Naylor-Ballesteros


Merry Christmas!



On this blog in December...


Sunday, December 26
Bonus Content
The Other Side
Leanne Dyck
As The Other Side was hands down the most popular "anything" I shared this year, I thought you might be interested in reading this scene.

Wednesday, December 29
Podcast: Author Reading
Listener's choice. What would you like me to record?

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Book Review: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride (memoir) by Cary Elwes, published by Simon and Schuster

From auditions to table readings to sword-fighting training to filming, Cary Elwes shares his journey to becoming Westley in the movie The Princess Bride.


From an Independent Bookstore in

Canada

United States

As You Wish: 

Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride

Cary Elwes

Published by Atria Paperback

an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Published in 2016

239 pages

The Princess Bride was one of the first movies my then-boyfriend, now-husband and I watched together. In fact, as a blushing bride, I walked down the aisle to Storybook Love by Mark Knopfler and Willy DeVille. So when my husband brought home a copy of As You Wish I knew I had to read it. And I learned...

Twenty-something, Cary Elwes was just embarking on his acting career when director Rob Reiner saw him in Lady Jane (a movie about Jane Grey) and thought, that's my Westley (one of the two leads in the movie). Carey Elwes was thrilled. He's a fan of the book the movie is based on--having first read it when he was thirteen. 

Many directors--including Robert Redford--had tried to make the movie but author William Goldman was reluctant. Of all his books, The Princess Bride was his favourite. He'd written it for his daughters. As well, directors were warned that the book was too diverse in genre to be a movie.

Rob Reiner managed to get the rights, held onto his carefully crafted vision, persevered and a movie was made.

'We had the right actors, the right crew, the right script, and a sure hand at the helm in Rob.' (p. 114)

People have always loved The Princess Bride. After its first viewing during a Toronto film festival, it won the People's Choice Award.

The challenge was marketing the movie--with such a diverse genre blend which genre should be emphasized? 

Cary Elwes' As You Wish reads like a love letter to the fans of the movie The Princess Bride.



On this blog in December...


Friday, December 24
Christmas Eve
Short Story
My CBC Radio Christmas Tradition
Leanne Dyck
A short story inspired by Alan Maitland's reading of The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth.

Sunday, December 26
Bonus Content
The Other Side
Leanne Dyck
As The Other Side was hands down the most popular "anything" I shared this year, I thought you might be interested in reading this scene.

Wednesday, December 29
Podcast: Author Reading
I got engaged to protect something precious to me--my life.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Walk with Me (short story) (romance) by Leanne Dyck

I got engaged to protect something precious to me--my life.


photo circa the 1950s

 Walk with Me

The bus jerked to a stop, threw me out and I landed in a snowbank. Winter's icy fingers made my entire body numb. My boots couldn't gain traction so I skated from streetlight to streetlight until I slid into my apartment.

"Cold out?" My boyfriend Byron greeted me with a kiss.

"Too."

I slowly began to thaw as we watched TV.

He waited for a commercial. "Would you like to go to--."

I would have gone anywhere with him.

"BC?"

I visualized green grass and heard Hawaiian music. "When?"

"You don't even have to think about it, eh?" Byron smiled. "We'll spend Christmas visiting my parents."

Minutes, hours, days dragged past but finally, it was time to pack.

"No, Leanne, it'll be too cold for flip-flops and shorts. BC is still part of Canada. It's still winter," Byron told me.

Side-by-side, Byron and I walked into the airport. The metal detector presented no problem for me.

Unfortunately, Byron wasn't as lucky. Alarms announced his presence. He removed his belt and tried again but was greeted by the same harsh noise. The security guard frowned as Byron emptied his pockets--dimes, nickels, pennies. No change. The security guards surrounded him and I began to panic. How well did I know Byron? What exactly did he have in his pocket?

Laughter? One of the guards slapped Byron on the back, stepped aside and Byron was free.

"Good luck." The security guard called and I wondered why.

We left our city of snowflakes, flew over Saskatchewan, and caught turbulence over Alberta. It felt like riding a bucking Bronco as one air current bounced us up and another slammed us down. I loved every minute of it.

Byron steered me to the luggage carousel, to a curly brunette with glasses. "Hi, Mom." They shared a hug. "This is Leanne."

"Welcome, Leanne." She greeted me with a warm smile. "Have you been to BC before?"

"Yes, once when I was twelve, but never in the winter."

"Oh, well, you'd better bundle up. It's minus ten and raining."

"Mom, we just left minus thirty-five and snow. We'll be fine." Byron didn't stop to zipper his jacket.

In the parking lot, a raindrop hit my shoulder. As I was climbing into the car, another landed on an eyelash. 

"Liquid sunshine," Byron said, "At least I don't have to shovel it."

The rain stopped, the sun shone but I was glad I hadn't packed flip-flops or shorts. The air was chilly.

Byron's parents took pride in showing us their province. We took a water taxi to Granville Island, a sky train to the Science Centre, and their car to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Byron and I were still gawking at the scenery when his parents crossed the bridge.

"Well, let's go," Byron lead me to the bridge.

I hadn't told him that I was scared of heights.

I focused on the blue sky, the evergreens on the other side. Anywhere but down at the flimsy bridge or the rushing water. 

"This is boring." Someone was behind me. He sounded young, like a teenager.

"No, it's not," said another teenage boy, "It's like surfing. See."

The bridge began to rock back and forth. 

I tightly wrapped both hands around the rope, closed my eyes, and willed myself all the way back to Manitoba.

"Move," the boys yelled, but I didn't care.

"Hey, Leanne," that was Byron's voice. "What's the matter?"

I opened my eyes. "I want to get off this bridge."

"We will. We're halfway over, already."

Half. Way. 

Laughter as the bridge rocked even harder. 

"Stop. My girlfriend is scared," Byron told them.

"Sorry," one of the teenagers said.

"We have to cross the bridge," Byron told me.

"But I...I..."

"Don't look down. Look at me."

I took a step.

"That's right, very good. See, you can do this."

I didn't cross that bridge, I walked to Byron and together we made it safely to the other side. 

"Congratulations," Byron's parents greeted me. "We didn't think you'd make it."

"Neither did I." We shared a laugh.

"Leanne, come with me. I want to talk with you." Byron sounded so serious--and that worried me. Was he going to break up with me--because I'd embarrassed him; because I'd been such a chicken? Would I have to cross the bridge alone? I knew I could never do that. I visualized my death so clearly that it was hard to focus on Byron's words.

He cupped my hands in both of his. "Leanne, we've known each other for several months now. Things seem to be going okay. And I... I... I love you with my whole heart and..." He looked up from my hands into my face. "Leanne, what I'm trying to say--. What I want to ask you is... Will you marry me?"

Well, that blew me away. I threw my arms around him and we kissed. "Can I think about it?"

We laughed and kissed, kissed and laughed.

"Well?"

"Of course, I'll marry you."

The heavens opened, angels sang, doves flew, the world rejoiced, or maybe that was all in my head. 

Byron dug into his pocket and produced a box. "This is the reason the security guards stopped me." 

I opened the box and found a twinkling diamond.

Only one question remained. "With our heads in the clouds, how are we going to make it back over that bridge?"

"Together," Byron told me and we did.

Thirty-one years ago, on December 23, 1990, Byron and I became engaged.


On this blog in December...


Wednesday, December 15
Podcast: Author Reading 
A nice story about my parents' naughty kid.

Sunday, December 19
Book Review
As You Wish:
Inconceivable Tales From The Making of The Princess Bride
Cary Elwes
(memoir)

Friday, December 24
Christmas Eve
Short Story
My CBC Radio Christmas Tradition
Leanne Dyck
A short story inspired by Alan Maitland's reading of The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth.

Sunday, December 26
Bonus Content
The Other Side
Leanne Dyck
As The Other Side was hands down the most popular "anything" I shared this year, I thought you might be interested in reading this scene.

Wednesday, December 29
Podcast: Author Reading

Listener's choice. What would you like me to record?



Sharing my Author Journey...

Bill Richardson was the host of one of my favourite radio shows--Richardson's Roundup on CBC. One day, I heard him request stories answering the question, Why did you marry? In response, I wrote... (what would eventually become the story you just read. If you would like to read the original, please keep reading.)

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Book Review: The Thursday Murder Club (cozy mystery) by Richard Osman, published by Penguin Books

 What's a cozy mystery?

Benni Chisholm addresses this question in her brief article.

I was charmed by this mystery that celebrates the ability of seniors.




Buy this Book

From an Independent Bookstore in

Canada

United States

Published by Penguin Books

Published in 2020

361 pages


In the fictitious town of Fairhaven, Kent, England, there is a retirement village--Coopers Chase--where senior citizens whittle away their days strolling through the gardens, sharing baking, drinking wine, and attending club meetings.

Every Thursday, Elizabeth, Ibrahim, Ron, and Joyce meet to discuss murder--old cases and new. This group of friends is analytical, experienced, capable, and quick--they even outperform the police, they even share their leads with the police.

'"however good the police are, you lot are better."' (p. 217)

They solve case after case, and they find forbidden love, brotherly love, eternal love--and they unearth secrets. Oh, so many secrets.

'"Remember when you moved here, and I told you it was a mistake? I told you it would be the end of you? Sitting in you chair, surrounded by other people just waiting out their days? I was wrong... Your eyes are alive, your laugh is back, and it's thanks to Coopers Chase."' (p. 348)


And the best news yet...

The next book in this series has been published

The Man Who Died Twice



On this Blog in December


Wednesday, December 8
Podcast: Author Reading
Leanne Dyck
A short story about appearing on stage at my husband's office party.

Sunday, December 12
Short Story
Walk with Me
by Leanne Dyck
A trip to BC ends with a near-death experience.

Wednesday, December 15
Podcast: Author Reading 
A nice story about my parents' naughty kid.

Sunday, December 19
Book Review
As You Wish:
Inconceivable Tales From The Making of The Princess Bride
Cary Elwes
(memoir)

Friday, December 24
Christmas Eve
Short Story
My CBC Radio Christmas Tradition
Leanne Dyck
A short story inspired by Alan Maitland's reading of The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth.

Sunday, December 26
Bonus Content
The Other Side
Leanne Dyck
As The Other Side was hands down the most popular "anything" I shared this year, I thought you might be interested in reading this scene.

Wednesday, December 29
Podcast: Author Reading
Listener's choice. What would you like me to record?

Sharing my author journey... 

While bored out on a walk, my dog and I play a game of seek-the-treat. I toss the treat ahead