Thursday, August 17, 2023

WEP August Challenge: Choclat

Hello All.

When I decided to write a post for Write Edit Publish August flash fiction challenge titled Chocolat,  I didn't realize what a real challenge this was going to be for me. I forgot to write it over the weekend, so I've been at this for the last three days on the road. With my Samsung Galaxy tablet. No mouse, no keyboard, no works program. I wrote it on my work computer, glanced at the word count, somehow copied and emailed it to myself, and figured out how to copy it here. No small feat for someone still attached to a mouse. Not sure I can post the required links to the host blog here, so refer to my sidebar links to WEP Challenges.

When I started writing this I had a different direction for the story of prejudice to take. Prejudice is my interpretation of the movie prompt. Then I fell down a rabbit hole of research that led me to Romania (I was looking for gypsies) and discovered the Iron Guard instead. As I read this for a final proofing before I hit publish, I'm nearly shocked at the potentially offensive content. It's the first time I've read the story in its entirety. Well, too late to back out now.

I hope you're not too offended, and I really hope it meets the basic concept of the prompt. 

Title: Guarding The Chocolate

Word count: less than 1000

Full critique acceptable 

In 1952, Anita Fontain was 22. Her journey to the US, to Iowa in particular, began at her father's knee as she grew into adolescence in Fascist controlled Romania.

 As he relayed to his daughter throughout her childhood, Anri Fontain had migrated to France to become a member of the French Foreign Legionnaires. As an orphaned 15 year old with little education and less ambition for the labor intensive Railroad or River boat industries of Davenport, Iowa he’d become infatuated with newspaper tales of adventure, romance and of course, riches to be had fighting for the French interests in the Sahara Desert. His parents, and grandparents, were proud of their French military lineage dating back to the French occupation of Saint – Domingue, and Anri had visions of military glory.

 Adventure and romance he’d had, but the riches from war campaigns in Africa and Madagascar never fell into his lap. He’d learned French from his father while growing up, and had become fluent in several languages, including Algerian and German, and was happy enough to be transferred to Romania in 1926 to infiltrate a group of disgruntled Legionaires calling themselves the Leigon of the Archangel Michael. Over the next couple years, Anri immersed himself in the paramilitaryy group’s Orthoodox Christian mysticism, unpopular anti-semetiic, anti-communist views, and abandoned the modern thinking Legionnaires. By 1930 when the Legion had changed its name to the Iron Guard, Anri had become a prominent member of the organization, had married well, and fathered his requisite two children – a boy named Cordrea, named after Anri’s mentor, and Anita, a family name in her mother’s heritage.

Of less importance to the Iron Guard’s cause than her older brother, Anita was allowed the indulgence of education, though her father often remonstrated on the folly of the Intellegencia. Anita learned the art of chocolate making from her mother during the family’s exile in Germany, and later earned a culinary degree in the fine art of pastry making.  Although Fascism had fallen out of favor with the end of the second world war, Anita’s father and brother maintained military and political ties to the Party. Their Nazi benefactors kept them informed, armed, and financially sufficient. When the Party secretly issued the recall of the displaced Iron Guard to return to Romania in 1947, Anri and Cordrea were well equipped to return to their prior life.

 Anita and her mother had remained in Germany until her college graduation. Without the constant barrage of propaganda and limited social connections allowed by her father during the Iron Guards ascendency to power in Romania, Anita found herself increasingly open to the rising tide of remorse within the German population. The more she learned about the “atrocities” committed by her family’s political associations, the less sure of herself, and her place in the larger world, she became.

 In Romania, even as young as 13, she was a gregarious creature, always the center of attention. Parents thrust their children into her life for companions, and many a time she overheard conversations involving marriage between either mother and her society ladies, or her father’s smoking gentlemen. At the time it had pleased her to be so well liked and desired. Her mother had instilled in Anita a sense of pride for their family position, and the obligations that carried, even to the appropriate marriage for both Anita and Cordrea. Cordrea only had aspirations for war and violence; but Anita had her favorites among her potential suiters. She practiced writing her name and title, dreaming of her future children and hosting her own society ladies parties.

 She was destined to be a socialite, and until her time in Germany, she was blissfully unaware of the darkness surrounding her sheltered life. And she wondered: did her mother know of the nefarious activities of her husband? Did she approve?

 So Anita immersed herself in the world of chocolate, avoiding the growing tensions in her family, in world politics, and the increasing amount of bullying she’d started receiving since her father’s return to Romania. Even her mother had become more secluded, eschewing the company of her new German acquaintances in favor of the familiar refugee wives who had journeyed with them to this divided country. Gone were the animated conversations of marriage alliances, of gay spring parties and summer vacations to Switzerland. They spoke in whispers now especially in public, often reverting to French or English to avoid the scrutiny of authorities that their native Romanian language attracted.

 The news of her father’s murder and brother’s disappearance during a political coupe just weeks prior to her graduation was devastating, but not surprising. And came as almost a relief to Anita. She couldn’t imagine returning to Romania now, but also didn’t fancy remaining in Germany. Her father’s friends had discouraged them from returning for the clandestine funeral, and now her mother had begun wearing a green shirt in her mourning. The apparel was drawing too much attention from their German benefactors, whose continued financial support had begun to wan in the last couple years.

 Grasping the reins of an uncertain future, Anita decided to take her culinary talents to America. It took a year to secure immigration to Iowa, the birthplace of her father. Davenport reminded her Bucharest with its heavy French heritage and Catholic Orthodoxy. She was comfortable in their anonymity almost from their first day. Her mother’s strange habit of wearing bags of earth around her neck and the green shirts did not cause the stir it had in Germany. She felt no hatred here, only curiosity.

 “Chocolate,” she asked brightly to a group of young passerby’s at her booth.

 She was determined to make her fortune in this new world, one bite at a time, as she perfected her own divine recipe that would dislodge the dominant Fudge fanatasicm in this city once and for all. Her father would disapprove of her capitalist dreams; but, hadn’t the life he’d made for his family been rich with oppressive hipocracy?


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

WEP - Gone With The Wind


Yeah, its been about 2 years. Had a lot going on in my personal life. And, I'm using a Samsung Galaxy 10 tablet to pack with me on my trips, and I've discovered it doesn't like to do anything but play games. And pay bills. And I'm posting this -  late of course -from a motel room that doesn't like to have plug outlets next to the desk. So I hope I can get this post going.

Yeah, yeah. Excuses . . .

I've decided to post a segment for WEP (Write, Edit, Publish) bi-monthly blogfest. This first post of 2023 is titled GONE WITH THE WIND. Since its February, Valentines, I'm assuming it should be a romance. But, I'm just not there in my mind. So I've taken a different interpretation, and focused on the "Gone" concept. After all, the overall theme of the book/movie is about Loss. Loss of culture, loss of life, loss of dreams. Loss of family.

Anyway, here goes. Full critique acceptable. This is a one-and-done, not part of a larger work.



“I want to talk to Dad.”

“Why, you got something broken at the house?” My daughter never talks to her step dad without something broken at the house and needing fixed. And, Dad. Real trouble.

“Something like that.” And her voice sounded quaverly, hurt.

“What’s up Lori? What’s wrong, really.”

Desperation. “Just let me talk to Don.”

Usually he’d already be out on the tractor or sanding that dead jeep in the garage. But he was moving slow this morning so he was still in the house. He looked frustrated when I tried to hand him my phone.

“Why didn’t she call my phone?”

“You never carry it on you. She sounds stressed, just talk to her an tell me whats up.”

“Yeah.” Then silence. “Uhm, yeah.” More silence, with sidelong glances at me. Then he turned his back on me. “Ok.” Then he hung up and handed me back the phone.

“Ok. So what’s up.”

“Not sure yet. She’ll call again later.” Then he sat next to me on the couch, reached across and tenderly held my hand.

He’s a loving man, but not in an affectionate way. He won’t look at me. I squeeze his hand and stare at him until he looks at me. I’m not affectionate either. I can tell its bad. Really bad was nine months earlier when my middle son shot himself. Nothing else can be that bad. Can it?


“Not sure yet.”

The phone rings and I let his hand go. Its Robert’s best friend. I didn’t even know he had my phone number, but I’m not really surprised. That psychic mommy-vibe has been pinging all morning. Kinda woke me up early for a Sunday.

“Whats wrong Zack?”

“Hey Mom.” All my kids’ friends call me Mom. At least the ones that have been hanging out since grade school. Zack is new to the group, only been around five or six years, but he hangs with Roberts long term friends so just fell into the habit with the rest of them.

“Fu—ing whats up Zack.”

“Ha, probably nothing. Hey, I can’t find Robert. He’s not answering his phone. Jenna is freaking out because she lost contact during a phone chat this morning.”

Of course he was texting and driving. Its barely after 9a. “So, how early were they talking.”

“Well, not talking exactly. She was sleeping, but he sent her a bunch of songs. Love songs, haha. She didn’t get the messenger pings until about an hour ago and the last message cut off mid sentence. He’s not answering, so she called me.”

I don’t hear well on the phone, so I have it on speaker. Oddly, my husband isn’t staring at me with a look that says “get a hearing aid so I don’t have to listen.”

“Do you know where he is.” Stupid question, I know, but I’ve already hit the home button and clicked on Life 360 to see where my son is.

“Well, that’s why I called you. Lori doesn’t know either – sorry I woke her up. And the baby.”

“He’s somewhere in Yuba City. Weird. Not really sure where he is. Been there since about 5:32 am. Who lives in Yuba City?”

Silence. My hubby is looking at me now. Hope in his expression.

“Uhm. Nobody. I don’t think.” 

Zack would know everyone Robert knows. But, since his brother’s suicide, Robert has been drinking himself into a grave, and not all his friends have been willing to follow him down that self destructive hole. Zack is a recovering addict and won’t go everywhere with his best friend in an effort to keep visitation with his seven year old daughter. Zack hasn’t abandoned Robert, but some of his choices have left Zack behind.

“When was the last time you saw Robert?” I asked, trying to be delicate.

“Yesterday. Well, I talked to him on the phone after he left for Sac. He was going to a Rave with some buddies of ours. I couldn’t go, had plans with my daughter.”

“Sure,” I say, proud of Zack despite my growing concern for my son.

“Anyway, people are looking for him on Facebook, and I’m getting worried.”

“I haven’t heard anything,” I said, catching my husbands eyes. He didn’t look away. “I’ll call Lori and see if she knows anything.”

“I called her before I called you. Said her phone was blowing up.”

“Yes, I know.” I’m trying not to sound angry. Anger is better than fear. Isn’t it?

“Look, Mom –“

“I’ll call you when I find him Zack. You do the same, Ok?”

I hung up and pulled up my Facebook account. I’m not friends with many of Roberts clan, but I might see something. “What did Lori want to talk to you about?”

“Well,” My hubby said. Thinking a minute. “She thinks Robert may have been in an accident. His phone hasn’t moved since about 5:32 this morning, and people are calling her because they are worried.”

Just then I clicked on a Newsbreak link Jenna posted with question marks after Robert’s name and asking for info. There was lots of comments telling how he left the Rave. I couldn’t read all the comments because I’m not friends with all his friends. But everything I saw had links to the Newsbreak with updates on the vehicle accident that took a 32 year old Oroville man’s life at 5:32am in Yuba City.

A car pulled up to the gate just as my youngest son crashed through the front door. He lives in a travel trailer on the property. He didn’t even have his shoes on. “Lori called?”

“Yes, and Zack,” my hubby said.

“Zack’s here. We’re going to Robert’s last Life 360 GPS.” He ran out the door, kicking the dog and his ball out of his way.

Four hours later a Sheriffs patrol car pulled through the open gate. It was open because I already knew. Face book told me my son was gone.

word count: 1000