Lamplight Symphony By John Pink

A tale of hope to warm the cold winter nights by John Pink

John’s story The Fall of Charon was shortlisted in the Fall Writing Contest sponsored by Shorting Fiction Break & Becoming Writer!


Lamplight Symphony

By John Pink


Based on Kansas’ 1975 single, Lamplight Symphony


In a candlelit room, the light of the full moon romanticized Arlo Gates’ boudoirs. The glare spanned across the vast yard and crystallized the scenery of topiary bushes and shrubs, the light snow, and the shape of the blowing wind. A winter’s night, cold and bright, with the stars shining resplendently.

In the uppermost room of the estate sat a lonely, old Arlo. Broken down by the lack of the thrill of business, the unforgiving pace of age, and loneliness. Sitting on a bench with an open book

reminiscing about those loved and lost. Perseverance had made him a hard man for Nature to kill; neither age nor disease had sealed his fate like it had for so many of his friends. His desire to live was

always stronger than his willingness to accept whatever destiny had in store for him: a quality he now regrets ever having. He had no energy, company, or joy to help speed up his days.

Yearning for a life gone by, he shone a lamplight on the pictures of faces of the past. Faces that made his childhood innocent; others that inspired him to be the ambitious young man he was always remembered for; many who also helped his business flourish; and others that influenced his life in other ways. He recalled events with strangers and allies alike. Memories are now his one and only joy.

He finally turned the page to his favorite part, the single-most thing that gave his life more meaning than any business or any friend: Anne. The muse for his inspiration and the drive for his

ambition. A companion, a friend, a lover. Sorrowfully, she wasn’t there to make his heart race any longer. There was no more flare, no desire, no more whiskey-driven revelries, or late-night

conversations. Arlo remained alone with nobody to warm his bed.

The old man saw a picture of him and Annie in their youth; her pushing him on a swing. Their complexion was innocent, their eyes full of life, and their smiles brimmed with happiness. A single tear fell from Arlo’s eye. Forgotten dreams flashed through his weary mind.

Next, he saw a picture of their wedding night, Anne alight with a white and silver dress. Her face shone with serenity, and he remembered her delicate march down the aisle. Though they had met at an early age and had known each other for what seemed like forever, their faces still glowed with new-found love.

Turning to the next page, he saw a memorable event. A grand ball that had taken place in China. He had been invited there as part of a gesture for completing a business venture with the Chinese. They were both gallant and splendid that night. They shared the euphoria of taking the Gates name to new heights, the chivalry of breaking the world’s expectations for modern business, the excitement of being together and having what the rest of the world only dreams of having: each other. Amidst the festivities of the night, they both managed to elude their host and his security and scurried into a little alley. The excitement proved too much to resist putting their hands on each other. Hidden and silent, they made love against the wall of the alley. That night, he was sure: they had conceived their first son.

Lastly, he saw a picture of one of the last of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus shows before ole’ P. T. Barnum kicked the bucket during a performance. No freak, atrocity, or spectacle could best the innocence in Anne’s eyes as she expressed fascination one act after the next. The light in her eyes was a reminder that she would always occupy a place in Arlo’s heart.

The only place Annie occupied now was a small grave in the backyard of his family estate, on the access to the cold and chilling forest. He took his lamplight and placed it near the window to gaze

at the humble gravestone that marked where her lifeless body lay. The slumbering wood made the visage somber. He put his hand to his heart as if reaching for something he couldn’t find anymore. A

sudden flash of how the love of his life was whisked away from him in an unexpected instant appeared vividly before his eyes, a memory too painful to recall; he brushed it off.

Instead, the old man remembered how stubborn she was when he asked for her hand, how she completed him, gave purpose to his actions, how he had known her since they were children, and his

life with her was clear the moment he made contact with those piercing hazel eyes. More tears flowed across his cheeks.

“Oh, what I would give”, he said in a soft voice. A once successful businessman who acquired quite a fortune. He placed his family name in a prestigious echelon; he had servants who catered to his every whim; he could afford every comfort known to man, yet, he would have gladly given it all away to be reunited with his wife. He would have given anything to raise the one who lies beneath the snow.

Arlo took a chug of the last bottle of whiskey he had received as a gift upon selling the company. He sat on his bed, a cold and dry reminder he would fail once again to get any sleep. He beheld the picture of the swings and gave a small whimper, which then turned into a sob. He looked to the side and pretended Annie was still there, comforting him and guiding him through the dark and

lonely night. Tired of crying, he threw the empty bottle into the fire, causing a fiery crash that quickly dissipated. He laid on the bed and was able to close his eyes, with the lamp still lit, placed on his


In a sudden fit, he aggressively awoke from his restless nap in the middle of the night, short of breath and delirious, as if waking up from a nightmare. The lamp was still lit, though only the last drop of oil-fueled its fire. Arlo sat up and placed his feet on the hardwood floor and found it freezing and pleasant at the same time. Chills went up his spine, and he was prompted to stand. Bent over and trying to regain his composure, he caught a glance of the picture he took to bed.

Startled, he grabbed it for study. He saw himself as a young lad, he saw the swings and the black-and-white grass, he saw the clouds and the sun, but there was no one pushing him on the swing. His younger-self was looking behind him, laughing at someone, but there was no one there. Perplexed, Arlo ran his hand down his mouth.

Arlo stopped breathing and experienced horripilation as he felt another presence in the room. Suddenly, he was called by the echo of what seemed like a beast awakened from its slumber. He lifted

his gaze and saw a celestial apparition. The room was grey and the light emitted from the ghost created no shadows, only a peering glow ran across its shape. Arlo’s frail lips trembled; he was simultaneously amazed and appalled at what he was seeing. The ghost came closer and the lonely old man knew not what to do; he froze. As the specter became clearer, he could recognize familiar traits; characteristics that made him lose his fear and become indulged.


Standing before him, the vision seemed to have peaceful glowing eyes. The ghost wore a long thin dress, was barefoot, and had her hair down, completely still. The shapeless aura that adorned its silhouette made it warm against the cold of the night. It was clear to see: her lips, her eyes, her complexion, unmistakable and unforgettable features. It ran its fingers through the old man’s right hand, which he was hesitantly holding up attempting to touch the phantom of his wife. The blowing of the snow became as audible as the man’s bewilderment. Filled with fear but fueled by joy, he

gingerly embraced the ghost of his wife and was impelled into a music-less dance.

After a short waltz, akin to the dance on their wedding night, the ghost caressed the old man’s face, smoke protruding from her fingertips. “I’ve come to soothe you”, she whispered. Their eyes

locked, and with a sigh of relief, their mouths pulled closer to each other. As soon as their lips touched, the lamp oil ran out and the flame went, along with the old man and the ghost.

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The Gift by Rocco Marinelli

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The Gift

by Rocco Marinelli


The gift had traveled a long way to get to its final destination. Wrapped tightly within its package, it had flown for hours through the cold December air before it finally landed on the rooftop. The building didn’t have a chimney, so the large man carefully carried it down the elevator.

10-year-old Tommy had been waiting for this present long before Christmas. He no longer believed in Santa, it would truly be a miracle if he received the item he wished for this year. But he still had faith that such a miracle could happen.

His mother desperately hoped his package would arrive on time as well. She knew the busy Christmas season often delayed the arrival of presents for many and she prayed it wouldn’t get lost in the holiday madness.

Before Tommy went to sleep that night, he asked his mom, “Do you really think it will come?”

With tears in her eyes, she hugged him and answered, “Yes Tommy, I do believe it, and you should too.” He smiled as he drifted off to sleep.

The gift was going to need some careful assembly before it ran, but at least it didn’t need batteries. The most important thing was that Tommy had to truly like it in order for it to work.

There was a strange mixture of excitement combined with an air of calmness in the room as the gift was removed from its wrapping. Everyone marveled at the complexity of such a rare and wondrous present.

After several hours of meticulous construction, the group of people huddled around Tommy anxiously waited to see if it was the right gift for him. Fingers were crossed and prayers were said.

Tommy awoke, a little groggy and asked, “Did it come, Mom? Does it work?”

Everyone in the room had smiles on their faces and tears of joy in their eyes. “Yes Tommy,” his mother said clutching his hand, “It’s a perfect match.”


What do you think the “gift” is? Comment below


About Rocco-

Rocco resides in the Adirondacks of Upstate, NY, working primarily as a content writer, but he likes to explore his creative side as well. Rocco has had some of his creative works published by “NY Literary Magazine” and he’s the featured writer in an upcoming anthology by “RumbleFish Press”. Rocco has many other short stories and poems patiently waiting in the shadows for someone to bring them to light. Find him on facebook at

Rocco also blogs at



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Charlie’s Christmas Carol

Another fun Christmas book kiddos of all ages will love!

Charlie’s Christmas Carol

Twelve-year-old Charlie is having a difficult time getting into the Christmas spirit as he’s facing his first Christmas since his mother’s passing. His father and sister buy a Christmas tree and try, unsuccessfully, to get him to trim it with them. Charlie seems destined to miss out on the Christmas spirit altogether until his scout troop spends an evening at a nursing home singing to the residents and playing board games with them. When Charlie meets old Mr. Henry and a young girl named Carol his perspective changes, as comes face to face with the needs of others.

CCC Cover Front


What you’ll find inside:

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Pick up a copy for all the munchkins on your Christmas list

Need to buy in bulk (12 copies or more, tax & shipping may apply), contact


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Miki the Reindeer Learns About Love

Looking for a great kids book to give to all your favorite munchkins for Christmas? We’ve got it!



Filled with fun critters living on a farm in Alaska, Miki the Reindeer learns about Love is a heartwarming tale of a young reindeer who learns the vast and varied meanings of love!

Miki is fun at Christmas time when the world is white with snow, on Valentine’s day when everyone is thinking about love, on Mother’s day when the world is celebrating the love our Mothers give and any other day throughout the year when you need to remember what love is all about!

Grab a copy for each of your little critters- $9.95 each at Amazon

Need to buy bulk quantities? (More than 12, shipping & taxes may apply) Contact


About the Author

Taia Joy Flake grew up on a 700-acre ranch in Northern Arizona. Her imagination and creativity were well fed in the fairytale type environment. She moved all around the western United States before finding a home in the city of Mesa, AZ where she currently lives. As a devoted and active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Taia’s goal is to bring joy and happiness through her stories to children of all ages throughout the world.

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Daddy’s Home by Carol Palmer Nugent

A short story to honor our Vets on Veterans Day! Thank you for your service and sacrifice. We salute you!


Daddy’s Home

Spring, 1968

Momma said my Daddy’s coming home today. He’s been gone a long time and I miss him so much. When he sees me, I know he’s gonna throw me up in the air, catch me in his strong arms, and hold me tight.

I love having Daddy home. We wash the car together. We feed our dog, Max, and go to the barbershop to get our hair cut. Daddy keeps his real short ‘cuz he’s an Army guy.

When I grow up, I want to be an Army guy too. I’ll have ribbons and medals on my uniform and a rifle to practice shooting.

Daddy flies on an airplane with the other Army guys to help people in a place far, far away. Momma always cries when Daddy goes. That makes me sad, and I cry too, but when he comes home, Momma still cries. She says they are happy tears, but when I see him, I’m just gonna smile and hug him ‘cuz I’ll be so glad to have my Daddy home.

We’re going to meet Daddy at the church. Momma says all Daddy’s friends will be there, and Grandma and Grandpa too. Momma dressed me in my nice shirt and pants, ‘cuz she says we have to look our Sunday best.

When we arrive at the church, I run ahead to try and find Daddy, but I can’t see him anywhere. Then Momma takes my hand and we walk to the front of the church. That’s where I finally see my Daddy, lying very still, sleeping, I think, in a long wooden box.

“Daddy,” I shout and run to him, but he doesn’t wake up. Something is wrong with Daddy. Mommy is crying now and holding me tight.

“Wake up, Daddy, please wake up.”

“Your Daddy’s gone to heaven,” she says

“No, no, no,” I reply, but I know Daddy isn’t going to wake up. I start to cry, knowing my Daddy will never again grab me under my arms or throw me in the air. He won’t catch me or hug me tight. My Daddy is really gone.


Present day

I can still feel the pain in my heart when I remember back. I have missed my Dad every day since his death. Nothing can replace him and the place he holds in my heart. It’s like there’s a hole there, so big, that the wind can blow right through. Nothing can fill the void, but there is something which has replaced the flood of bad memories, and that’s when I come home from work each night and my little boy runs to me, yelling, “Daddy.” I grab him under the arms, throw him into the air, catch him, and hug him tight.

by Carol Palmer Nugent

About the author-  Carol Palmer Nugent is a member of Word Weavers of Northern Arizona and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two dogs. She enjoys gardening, reading, writing, and learning something new each day. She has had short stories published in Good Old Days and Ruby for Women Magazines, a true story in A Woman of Wort Anthology, and two stories in Little CAB Press’s Christmas Collection Volume II. In addition, Carol received an honorable mention in the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.


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Simple Ways to Promote Your Book on Facebook


  1. Take a pic of you and your book, make that pic the cover photo on your Facebook timeline.
    1. After you’ve changed your cover photo, click on the cover photo and then click on “add a description”.
    2. Put the buy link to your book in the description and add 1 or 2 “blurb” sentences about your book, (give people an exciting reason to click the link and check out your book).
  2. Find something exciting once a week to post about your book and add the buy link into the post.
    1. Post can be as simple as: Awesome lady I met at the hair salon bought my book last week and called me today to say how much she loved it! Made my day!!! (then add buy link)
    2. These should be real experiences, not made up, but make them sound super exciting and cool!
  3. Take your book on a photo tour! Post photos of “Me and my book, making friends at: the library, the park, the theater, the grocery store, the zoo, etc.” The photos can be of you and random strangers, have the stranger smile and hold up your book. (Not dangerous looking strangers obviously!) Have the stranger sign your book, (have a copy for the purpose of collecting others’ signatures, a book signing in reverse where the reader/potential reader gets to sign rather than the author) and give them a sale page or some type of promo item of the book in return, (perhaps they’ll buy your book online).
  4. Ask your local library to let you host a reading or book talk. Take pictures of yourself with the book and the attendees and post (with their permission) to Facebook- say something fun, like, “Had a great time reading my book to these awesome new friends!” Post the pic and the buy link to your book. Give out promo items to attendees, sale sheets, bookmarks, anything to help them find and buy your book.

Have fun with your book, get creative, post frequently, and always, always, always add the buy link for your book in every fun post you make about your book!

What are your fun ideas for promoting your book on Facebook and social media? Comment below.


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Samurai by Night—A Halloween Hero


I originally wrote this short story (previously titled Samurai by Night) for the fall 2017 writing contest at The Write Practice. Though my story did not win, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the other writers and reading their stories. I learned so much from the other writers in the contest that I would encourage all writers, beginner and experienced, to enter such contests and receive the invaluable feedback which serves to improve writing skills. I thank the awesome writers who read my story and offered valuable critiquing for its improvement! I wish each of you happy writing and much future success!


Samurai by Night—A Halloween Hero

By  A.P. Maddox

© A.P. Maddox 2017 (YA/NA fiction, Rated PG-13, Word count: 1515)


Emily stomped on her brakes, rush hour traffic wasn’t moving on the Phoenix freeway. “Of course,” she complained while sending a quick voice-to-text to her boyfriend. “Brian, I put my costume on at work. On my way to the party. Stuck in traffic. Will be late. Happy Halloween!”

“Oh look, traffic is moving again,” she said, picking up speed as traffic began to clear. “Should I let Brian know I’ll be there soon?” She considered it before answering, “Nah, I’ll surprise him!”

Once off the freeway she made her way down the surface streets and pulled into the dimly lit parking lot of Collins & Thorpe Accounting, where Brian was a junior accountant. The Halloween costume party would be the second office party she’d attend with Brian since the pair began dating five months ago, the first being the Independence Day bash.

The parking lot was full, so she parked near the back, next to an empty lot with some brush and trees on one side. She put the car in park, slipped off her flip-flops and pulled on her boots. She hopped out of the car, punched the lock button and quickly made her way toward the office building, looking swashbuckly in her pirate costume—excited to see Brian all decked out in his pirate gear too.

The main entrance of the building was a large oval foyer with hallways leading to the individual offices. Chairs had been cleared to make way for the party decorations. Cobwebs with plastic spiders were strung about, jack-o’-lanterns with tea lights were placed on countertops and near hallway entrances, and creaky, shrieky music filled the air. Tables were laid out with cauldrons of orange and purple colored punches and ghoulish snacks: treats made to look like bloodshot eyeballs, bat wings, spiders, and ghosts.

Emily’s eyes searched for Brian. She saw an Egyptian queen, a knight in shining armor, superheroes, cartoon characters, and the traditional black cats, Draculas, and Frankensteins. Finally, her sights landed on her handsome pirate. He had let his whiskers grow out a few days to look the scruffy pirate part. A patch covered one eye but there was no mistaking the deep green of the other and the thick black eyebrow it peered out from under.

She smiled thinking of the flirtatious things she might say as she approached him. She started in his direction but froze in her tracks when she saw a French maid come to his side. “Jenny,” she said under her breath in a bit of surprise. She suddenly felt as though she were a peeping Tom, spying where she had no business, yet Brian was her boyfriend. Her stomach wrenched as she watched them tease and giggle at each other and she began to feel sure there were inappropriate flirtations going on.

What was she to do, walk gaily over, pretend she hadn’t seen anything and hope they were engaging in innocent, coworker party behavior? Her gut told her there was more to it. She thought of the Independence Day bash when Jenny acted so coldly when she met Emily as though Emily was an intruder. She remembered how she kept catching Jenny staring at Brian and talking loudly whenever they’d pass near her and then mumbling something about needing another drink.

She tried not to worry about at the time but it had always gnawed at the back of her mind that Jenny might have feelings for Brian. She hadn’t wanted to let herself consider, however, Brian might return those feelings; after all, why would he be dating Emily if he were interested in Jenny.

Emily saw Jenny lean in, whispering in Brian’s ear. What was she saying? Her stomach turned and her chest heaved with panicked breath when she saw Jenny take Brian’s hand and lead him to an empty office. Brian peeked down the hall in both directions as though hoping to go unnoticed before they disappeared behind the door.

Emily was lightheaded as she tried to catch her breath. Her legs felt like jelly underneath her and she thought she might vomit. She wanted to scream and storm into the room, fists flying, but hot tears spilled down her cheeks and she turned and left the building.

“I can’t believe it!” she exclaimed, wiping her tears futilely as others quickly replaced them.

Her feet felt heavy as she walked. She remembered back, before the Independence Day bash and how Brian had told her, “These parties are always so boring. You won’t have anyone to talk to. My coworkers are stupid and would annoy you.” She realized now, Brian hadn’t wanted her to go in the first place. Was Jenny the reason why?

“How did I not see it?” she asked herself.

She continued through the parking lot, wrapped in her anger. As she approached her car, she saw two figures: one thin and short and another taller and thicker. She gasped but reasoned—they were headed to a Halloween party too.

They started at her and her instincts immediately warned—they meant harm… serious harm! She ran to the car, but they caught her; the larger man covering her screams with his hand. They dragged her toward the bushes. She swung and felt her nails scratching away at flesh as she tried fighting her way out. She kneed, kicked, flailed and screamed, but her screams were muffled and soon, still struggling, she was pinned down with a knife to her neck.

She knew she was about to be violated and she begged God in silent prayer to deliver her. The next moment something white, like a shining light appeared behind the man on top of her.

It was another man, dressed in some sort of white costume. He grabbed the man on top, yanking him off and punching him. As the first man stumbled back, the man in white grabbed the smaller man—punching him square in the jaw and sending him unconscious to the ground. The larger man got to his feet and came at the man in white but was quickly kicked in the chest, knocking the wind out of him and sending him to the ground as well.

“Stay down,” he warned, pulling out his cell phone to dial 9-1-1.

He went to Emily and extended his hand to help her up. “Are you okay Miss?”

Emily couldn’t answer—she was shaken and trembling. She came to her feet but stumbled.

“Maybe you better stay seated. I’ve called for help,” he said, gently setting her back on the ground. He inspected her. “There’s blood on your neck. Looks like the knife cut you, but it doesn’t look life-threatening.”

Emily’s eyes grew wide on her tear-stained face. She motioned behind him. The larger man had gotten to his feet and was scrambling away.

“No, you don’t,” the man in white shouted, chasing after. He tackled him, rolled him over and punched him in the face—knocking him out.

“The cops will be here any minute,” he said, coming back over to reassure her.

“Thank you… for coming to my rescue,” she slowly muttered.

“Of course,” he said, smiling.

“Were you here for the party?” she asked.

“Yeah, my sister works here and invited me. I was late though, obviously.”

“Lucky for me,” Emily said with a grateful sigh of relief before adding, “Please tell me your sister’s name isn’t Jenny.”

“Nope, it’s Alyssa.”

“Thank heavens,” Emily said, sighing.

“Do you work here?” he asked.

“No, I was here with my boyfriend.”

“Well, where is he now?”

“With Jenny.”

“Oh, I see,” he said, drawing out his words in understanding.

“Is that some kind of Ninja costume you have on?” she asked.

“Nope, Samurai,” he answered. “By the way, I’m Jared. What’s your name?”

“Emily. How did you learn to fight like that?” she asked.

“I own Liberty MMA downtown. You should come take some classes; learn how to defend yourself against guys like that.”

She nodded. “That’s probably a good idea.”

The sounds of sirens approached. Jared pointed out the men to the cops and told them what happened as they cuffed them.

The EMTs attended to Emily as the cops took statements.

“I don’t need to go to the hospital,” she said.

Jared took her hand and encouraged her. “They’ll need to examine you for evidence, to build a case against your attackers.”

She nodded as the EMTs loaded her into the ambulance.

“Wait,” Jared said, “maybe I should get your number. To check on you and make sure you’re okay.”

Emily hesitated. She didn’t usually give her number to strangers, but this man had been an answer to a prayer—a literal Godsend to save her life. He had a gentle smile; not to mention his boyishly handsome face atop a mountain of muscles and the inherent kindness he had shown after rescuing her, made her feel safe. Besides, if Brian gave her any trouble over the breakup—Jared could kick the trash out of him! The thought made her smile, and she gave him her number before the ambulance doors closed.

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