Friday, March 17, 2017

Just My Luck. . .I'm NOT Irish

by Shirley Hailstock

Everyone is Irish today. I'm in the Northeast and I hear New York City carted the snow off Fifth Avenue for the parade today. Don't ask me where they put it.

I'm not Irish, but I'm decked out in green and celebrating with all those who are.

I do not have a book out this month, but since this is a blog designed for readers, I have a gift for you. Lots of blogs and social media post will center on the creation of St. Patrick's Day or the way the holiday came into being. (Yep, I know that. I researched it.)

But I'm not doing that.

I have a story for you. Surprise, it's a St. Patrick's Day story. So enjoy.

The Magic Touch
A Tale From Blythe Cove Manor

Another St. Patrick's Day, Donahue thought donning his green tie covered in shamrocks and tying it around his neck. Shamrocks were a sign of luck and he needed all the luck he could get today. His shirt was green and his jacket a darker version of the same color. He had to wear this color or people would clap him on the back or grab his arm, demanding to know why he wasn't saluting the Irish holiday.

It began at midnight. And would be with him until another midnight released March 17th into the next day. He would like to spend the day relaxing in his room, staying away from the revelers and binge drinkers. But past years had taught him that didn't work. People would knock incessantly on his door. Most didn't even know why they were doing it. They'd apologize as soon as he opened it and they got a good look at him. So he decided to handle the day by making his own choices.

The first was breakfast.

Blythe, owner of Blythe Cove Manor, had a full array of breakfast foods available to celebrate St. Patrick's Day; green muffins, green tea, green milk shakes, even green eggs and ham for the kids. Donahue refused to even think about how Blythe turned the ham green. But from what he'd heard the manor's owner was a food-wizard.

Donahue needed to be careful. He didn't want to touch anyone, bump into anyone and he didn't want anyone offering him a hand to shake. He wore gloves, but he couldn't eat with them covering his hands. He poured hot coffee into a paper cup and set it in a protective corrugated heat-sleeve. Lifting a muffin with a napkin, and balancing the cup with the tips of his fingers, he left Blythe Cove Manor by the back door.

The garden was empty, its flowers straining for the coming spring. Going to one of the tables set in the sun, Donahue took a seat, even though the Massachusetts breeze off the Atlantic had yet to release it hold on the season.

Setting his breakfast on the table, Donahue turned his face toward the sunlight. He drank in the feel of it despite the air temperature. He was alone for several minutes, thinking is solitude a blessing. Then someone asked, "Aren't you cold out here in this wind?"

Turning, Donahue watched as a woman approached him. Her hair was sunshine yellow and almost disappeared in the eastern light. She, too, was dressed totally in green and she carried a cup and a plate of matching green food. For a moment he thought she was a female version of himself. Her cup was ceramic with a shamrock along the side. The liquid inside steamed in the cool air.

"Not necessarily," he finally answered her question as the ocean wind ruffled his dark brown hair. Unconsciously, Donahue patted it down.

"I'm Sloane Gallagher," she said.

"Donahue O'Dwyer," he introduced, taking a drink from his cup and replacing it on the table.

"Pardon me if I don't shake hands," she said. "Both of mine are full at the moment." She looked down at the coffee and muffin filling both spaces.

Sliding onto a seat opposite him, she said, "I hope you don't mind me joining you."

"You like the cold, too?" he asked by way of consent.

"I grew up in County Mayo. This reminds me of home."

She looked out on the Atlantic. Ireland was well in the distance, County Mayo or Mayo Abbey stood on the northwestern side of the Emerald Isle.

Donahue stared at her. He'd grown up in the same county, yet he was sure he'd never met her. Mayo Abbey was the third largest country, so it was perfectly plausible that they had never seen each other. Donahue had been a hell-raiser in his youth and his reputation covered a large part of the county. Sloane Gallagher didn't appear to have known him, but how coincidental was it that she joined him for breakfast and that they were both on Martha's Vineyard during St. Patrick's Day and staying at the same B&B? Although she looked to be in her late twenties, the same age as he was, he decided to tread carefully until he could determine if all this was due to the universe laughing at him – again, the way she had laughed at him when she gave him his. . .gift.

"Are you new to the Vineyard?" Donahue asked.

"I come every few years, but not often at this time. More in the summer or early fall."
"Are you here for St. Patrick's Day?"

"There isn't much of a parade here, not like in New York City, Chicago or Savannah, Georgia, but it is the end of the rainbow."

Now why would she say that? Why use that particular phrase? He laughed, hiding his concern.

"Is there really a rainbow end?" Donahue asked.

She nodded. "And a pot of gold."

"You're not going to tell me you're a leprechaun, are you?"

She shook her head. "Like you, I'm a Transferer."

"A what?" he asked. He'd never heard it called that before.

"A Transferer. My touch transfers powers – temporarily, but they happen." She announced this as if she was asking him to pass her a napkin.

"What kind of powers?" He leaned forward feigning interest.

"That's the rub. I don't know, but you understand all this. We're the same kind."
"Kind?" he repeated.

"Our touch on this day passes our magic on. It's temporary, but whomever we touch shares in our magic until the stroke of midnight."

Donahue hadn't acknowledged that he had any magic, but he asked the question. "What happens if and I said if, we both have this gift," he paused. "And we touch each other?"
She took a moment to think about that. Her brow furrowed and her face changed into a frown. "I don't know."

"How many other people have you met with this magical ability?"

"You're my first," she said.

"And how do you know I have it?"

She opened her hand. He only saw the green gloves she wore. Removing them, she turned her hands palms up. At the end of her longest life line was a small dark blemish in the shape of cauldron. It was light green, but clearly visible.

"At first I thought it was a birthmark as I'm sure you did too. Remove your gloves." She didn't exactly ask it or command him. Her comment was somewhere in between.

Donahue hesitated. After a second, he pulled the gloved fingers free of his own, and showed her his hands.

She gasped.

There was nothing there, no mark, no blemish. She glanced toward his other hand. He repeated the procedure with slow, deliberate movements. When he presented his hand, again, there was no blemish, only the definition of lines intersecting other lines in his palm.

"I. . .I," she stammered. "I don't understand." She pulled her own hands back, gathering her gloves and slipping them back on. "I apologize," she said standing up. "You're not the one."

She made no attempt to touch him, to impart her magic as she walked away. Donahue watched her hurried steps as she crossed the grass, went up the few steps and into the back door of the B&B.

She'd left her breakfast behind. Donahue reach over, using his bare hands to hug her steaming coffee cup, pressing his palms against the warmth of the liquid that penetrated the cup. The coffee warmed his hands.

As he released his hold  and opened his palms, images appeared, identical twins of a pot filled with a leprechaun's gold.

Donahue watched as the cool air touched his skin and the images disappeared.

The End

Good luck today. I hope you enjoyed the story.  Remember the luck of the Irish is passed from person to person. So offer your own magic touch and enjoy a wonderful day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Unknown Author

By Shirley Hailstock

I want to be an unknown author.  I went to Barnes and Noble last night, admittedly to buy a new book by one of my favorite authors.  And of course, I came home with more than the one book.  As any reader knows, books are like potato chips – you can’t buy just one.  So I was walking around the superstore, scoping out the books and looking at the guys to see who was just there to hang out.

There were a lot of tables and free standing book carousels and I found myself looking at the titles and authors.  I’m a sucker for a good title, so I look at those first.  These are the tables that publishers pay money to have the titled featured.

I consider myself fairly well read and well informed about books – all books not just romance or women’s fiction.  But what I noticed on these tables were books by people unknown to me.  Of course, I can’t know everyone, no matter now hard I try, yet on many of those tables, I didn’t recognize a single name.

I did recognize the publishers.  And I decided that is who I want to be.  I want to be one of those names that people come in the store find.  My book and my name prominently displayed.  I want to be the books they go home with, spend the night in bed with, and read from page one to The End.