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September Muse

Sept 2022

“Read, read, read. Read everything  —  trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.” — William Faulkner

Editor's Note:

The Strathcona Writers Muse is a forum for members of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County to provide an opportunity for members to publish their works. Anything published in our letter is eligible to receive a publishing credit. We accept poems and short stories of 1000 words or less normally but longer pieces can be accommodated if they can be published in parts. We are always in need of new items for each month so don't hesitate if you have something we can put into our publication.

Send submissions to care of Henry Martell, editor.

Important Dates

Writers Circle Virtual Sharing Meeting online

Next date September 6, 2022

RSVP on the website and the link will be emailed to you prior to the meeting.

Next Board Meeting: September 13, 2022

Newsletter Submission Deadline: September 26, 2022

Poets in the Park

Poets in the park meets the third Wednesday of every month online.

Reply to the link on the WFSC website

Next scheduled meeting Sept 21, 2022

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Monday of each month

Next Meeting Sept 12, 2022

Reply to the link on our Website

Words in the Park ~ Author Fair & Book Sale ****SAVE THE DATE**** Saturday, September 24th

Back live and in person this year 9:00 am - 4:00 pm in the Sherwood Park AGORA. Watch our website and Facebook page for more event details coming soon. Interested in being a vendor? Submission form available soon!

This Month's Submissions

A New Beginning by Karen Probert His father used to say, "Oh, buck up. It isn't so bad." His mother said nothing. She'd just give him a look that said it all - "Don't upset your father with your little problems. He has enough problems without adding yours." But it was bad, really bad when his skin turned red in huge blotches and then deep purple after the pustules burst to spray the mirror in the bathroom with bloody pus. The scars were deep like pits. That's what the kids at school called him - 'Pits'. Carl stopped swimming. He stopped showering in the school locker room as his upper back and butt were riddled with the same rupturing boils. When he applied for the Junior Camp Leader job his mother had to take him to a doctor to have a medical certificate signed. "I'll wait outside." she said when the nurse called Carl into the office. Dr. Adams examined Carl, weighed him, took his blood pressure and printed out a request for blood work. He read the form from the camp and filled in parts of it as he went along. As he worked he asked Carl questions about what he ate, what he used to wash and shampoo his hair, how he felt about his skin problems. Nobody had ever asked Carl this before so Carl decided to be honest. "Awful. It's disgusting. I've tried eating differently when I can but I have to eat what Mom cooks and puts in my lunch. I bought some special cleanser but it stung and didn't help. I went on the internet to try to find something that would work but I didn't find anything useful." Tears were pooling in his eyes. "Carl, you're fine to be a camp leader so when I get the blood work results I'll have the nurse call so you can come back to pick up the paperwork. It should only take a day or two if you go downstairs to the lab today to have the blood drawn. Do it before you go home." Dr. Adams asked who had brought him to the appointment, then called the nurse who brought Carl's mother in. In a strident voice Dr. Adams asked, "Why didn't you bring Carl in sooner? He's going to have serious scarring if this continues. It'll affect his life now and later. It's treatable. I want to treat him so I need you to sign this permission slip. The drug is tetracycline and may have some contraindications but it will clear up these infections. He's to stop drinking cow's milk. He can have almond or soy milk instead. No soft drinks. Fries and other fried foods only once a week or less, no chocolate. Is that clear?" Dr. Adams waited while Carl's mother blurted out, "We thought it was just hormones and he'd outgrow it." "Well, it isn't. Can you follow these guidelines? And make sure he takes the pills every day with breakfast?" Carl's mother nodded. While she signed the paper, Dr. Adams looked at Carl. "Carl, can you do this? Can you follow these instructions?" With tears on his face, Carl answered, "I'll do whatever it takes. I promise." With a stern look at Carl's mother Dr. Adams said, "Get this prescription filled today. Start the medication tomorrow. It'll take a couple of weeks to see a noticeable difference. Bring Carl back in three months. Make the appointment today before you leave the office." The car ride home and dinner time were as quiet as it always was. Mom said nothing to Carl. She'd had the prescription filled while he was having the blood work done. She stopped to buy almond milk on the way home. Carl's father said, "I hear we have a new regime. I hope it works", before he went back to reading the paper. Carl knew then that his mother had told his father. No one asked him how he felt. No one ever did. Although he didn't say anything Carl felt relief, confident that someone cared, hopeful that his future would be better. Dr. Adams prescription would be just the beginning.

Window Display

It was my dream to become an interior designer when I was at school. I'd been provisionally accepted into the Royal College of Art in London with help from my art teacher, Miss Randall. The plan was to subsidize my living expenses creating window displays in one of the large department stores and giving me an outlet for my creativity. I wanted to explore the traditional and non-traditional styles for displays that would make passer-by's stop and look in wonder. Each department store had rules for the acceptable type of display, but I always wanted to give them a twist or a story. My starting point for this specific window was the purple chair, it sets the era and grounds the scene. A lady's preparation before an evening's entertainment. A soft femininity with the gown and flowers against the contrast of the darker drapes. You look to both sides awaiting her entrance.

Mandy Eve-Barnett


by Karen Probert

A retreating rabbit, a rambunctious puppy, two puffed-up, red-breasted robins squabbling over their territory in the Mayday tree. The vista was all that could be seen from the kitchen window. Angela paused before clutching the edge of the counter where the sink was set in. Her knuckled whitened as the sorrowful spasm jerked through her body.

I will not ruin this day. I will not.

Taking a deep breath and shrugging her shoulders before straightening them she peered out into the sunny yard. The small, black rabbit had gone under the fence into the field behind. The puppy, Toast, was sniffing at the spot where the bunny had disappeared. The robins had flown off singing, each trying to attract a dull, brown mate.

I’ve gotten through Christmas and New Years without being part of any festivities. No one expected me to take part, too dulled by drugs to participate, too often asleep, always just staring into space. Expectations change. Months pass. All around me life is going forward. Spring brings renewal. Spring is a fresh start. To what exactly?

Toast had given up trying to dig under the fence. She whined. She ran, flopping her big feet forward and out as she tumbled over the edge of the sandbox. Shaking her shimmering taupe fur she bounded onto the lawn, then up the steps to the porch where she perched, her head cocked to one side, looking expectantly at Angela through the sliding door.

Angela smiled, her first smile today. Toast was guileless and adorable. Toast was supposed to help her banish the funk she’d been in for months. Her psychologist had told Tim that a puppy might help. He said that Angela had mentioned a dog once or twice. Angela told Tim she didn’t recall ever having mentioned a dog. Tim said, “Let’s try it. Maybe it’ll help. If you decide you don’t want to keep her, we’ll give her away. But let’s try.”

Angela opened the door to let Toast into the kitchen. Toast squirmed while putting her paws on Angela’s knees. Her brown eyes searched Angela’s, then she licked her hand.

Tim watched from the doorway as Angela gently brushed Toast’s long, silky ears, then led her to her water dish. Angela smiled as tears dropped to the floor.

Toast can stay. She’ll distract me sometimes. Tim likes her. We’ll take her for walks now that it’s spring. The pain will stay, too - but Toast can stay.