Short Stories

Short Stories

If you'd like to read more of my stories, you're in the right place. Here are a few I've written for fun, about writing of all things...


Tough Choices


Trudy wiped away crumbs from the cookie pans. She spread a fresh cloth over the round table near the window. Although she couldn’t always trust the weatherman, maybe the sun would shine today. A week trapped in the house reminded Trudy how much she missed her husband.

She placed a tray with the cookies at the table’s center. A double batch with chocolate and butterscotch morsels piled high enough grabbing the wrong cookie could bring the entire stack crashing down. The aroma made Trudy smile. She’d never met a problem her cookies couldn’t fix.

As if on cue, the door opened and Debra took her usual seat at the table.

Trudy pointed at the tray. “Take a cookie, my dear.”

Debra eyed the cookies. “Not today.”

“You love my cookies. That loose t-shirt tells me you’ve been dropping weight. Are you eating enough between classes? You should enjoy your time at college.”

“Yes, but I’m not hungry.”

With a sigh, Trudy looked out of the window. “I was hoping for sun today but the rain won’t seem to stop. It fits with my mood.”

Debra followed her gaze. “Maybe if you felt happier, it would stop.”

“I can’t feel happy while I’m worried about you. Debra, you have an important choice to make.”

“I know, Mama.”

“You came for my advice.” Trudy reached across the table and patted her daughter’s hand. “Kevin Haas isn’t rich like Paul Wentworth. He can’t make your dreams come true.”

Debra laughed to herself. How could her mother be so blind? “Kevin can provide for me. We’ll live on his income along with mine.”

“Nonsense, girl. Just because it’s 1985 doesn’t mean you must get a job to support your family.”

“I’m getting a business degree.”

“We both know you didn’t start college with a career in mind. You wanted to find a rich man and a program in business helped you meet Paul.”

The words caught in Debra’s throat. “You still think I should choose Paul?”

“I think you should choose whoever will make you happy. If only we could see into the future…” Trudy laughed. “I don’t need to see the future to know Paul can make you happy.”

“What happens when his obsession with my pretty face wears off? One day I’ll wake up and he’ll be on a plane to Belize with his secretary.”

Trudy raised an eyebrow. “You’re too young to think such things.”

“But old enough to plan my future?”

“You’ll make the right choice. When I married your father, I knew he was the one.”

Debra glanced around the room. Most days she could handle this story, but not today. “You redecorated.”

“Glad to see you noticed. Your father hung those skillets when you were a child; they reminded him of his mother. I always thought hanging a useful frying pan on the wall seemed ridiculous.”

“Kevin is a good man.”

“You don’t need to convince me.”

“But you’ve already decided, you…” Debra leaned back in the chair. “Kevin is a genius with computers.”

“Paul has a job waiting for him on Wall Street. His family has money older than you and I put together.”

“You’ll never let me decide for myself, will you?”

“Hardheaded like your father was,” Trudy said. “Life is all about timing — the sooner you learn that the better.”

“It would help to know I’m making the right choice.”

“Like I said, you can’t see the future.” She lifted the tray of cookies. “Are you sure you won’t try just one? It might make the rain stop.”

Her mother had strange ideas about the weather, but Debra couldn’t deny the statement was probably true. She reached for a cookie and brought her hand to her mouth. “Tastes just like I remember.”

“Kevin is good with books, but that won’t take his career to the next level.”

“Computers will change the world,” Debra said. “With his knowledge of coding, he’ll revolutionize the gaming industry.”

“If you say so. Sounds like pure voodoo to me. But Paul… you can’t knock a sure thing.”

“Paul won’t make me happy. Tell me you trust my decision.”

“Saying the words would matter?”

“Yes, Mama.” Debra took a deep breath and leaned over the table. “I need to know you trust me enough to make the right decision.”

Trudy chuckled, but the shadows on her daughter’s face brought the conversation into focus. “I offer my opinion as a guide. That’s what I’m here for. I trust you to make the right decision for your future. Lord knows one of these days I’ll be trusting you to decide for me.”

Debra stood. “I need to go now, Mama. I’ll come back tomorrow.”

“I’ll be working on a new story. One of these days your crazy mother might also get something published.” Trudy reached for a notebook to her right and opened to a page half-filled with her cursive handwriting. “Come back next week.”

“You love creating your own worlds.”

“It’s the only thing I was ever great at.”

With a smile, Debra hugged her mother and opened the door. “Call if you need anything. You have my number.”

Trudy pointed across the room, already drifting into her story. “It’s hanging on the icebox.”

“Goodbye, Mama.” Debra pulled the door closed behind her. She took another deep breath and looked down the hall. Miles of ceramic squares stretched to either side. The antiseptic smell tickled her nose. She wiped the remains of the sticky sugar on her suit jacket and swore as she realized what she was doing. God help her if she ever got this old.

Two doctors watched her mother through the glass. Trudy sat at the table with a notebook in front of her. She hummed an old disco song from the seventies. Four walls surrounded Trudy, each as white as the outfit she wore. Other than a bed, the only furniture in the room was the square metal table and two chairs.

There was no window splashed with dreary rain and no cookies.

“The new meds are keeping her calm.” One doctor handed Debra a stack of notebooks. “She spends every day writing now.”

“She always loved to write,” Debra said. “Mama was good at many things, but she didn’t lie when she said she was great at creating her own worlds.”

“Did you reach a decision?” the other doctor asked.

Debra watched her mother’s hand glide across the page. The woman wrote for years before she lost her grasp of reality. Twenty-six books in all; Trudy Nix was a worldwide bestseller. She wrote every one of those books after Debra’s wedding.

Years ago, Debra followed her mother’s advice and bound herself to Paul, a disaster of a marriage that failed within a year. At least Paul was smart enough to stay in Belize.

As for Kevin, she found him building gaming tech out of his basement a few months later. Together, they engineered a multi-billion-dollar company. Her shrewd business skills led them to one of the highest initial public offerings on record. Life truly was all about timing.

“Should we stop the protocol?” the first doctor asked. “Bring her back to reality? Next time she sees you, she’ll know over thirty years have passed. I’m sure she’ll be proud of your accomplishments. Few of our patients have children topping lists of the rich and famous.”

The word ‘reality’ punched Debra in the gut. Trudy spent her happiest days writing those books before her mind began to slip away. “Don’t stop. If this protocol keeps her writing, we’ll stay with the medicine. I want her to be happy.”

The doctor opened one of the notebooks. He held it up for Debra to see the first page titled Tough Choices. Her fifth book. Tears swam in Debra’s eyes. From page one, it seemed as if the woman was writing the book word-for-word.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“My mother created this world and now she’s living in it.” Just as Debra had shaped hers and now enjoyed her happily ever after.

“Don’t you think — ”

Debra held up her hands. “I might not understand my mother’s obsession, but she made sure I had the strength to make this choice.”

The doctors exchanged a glance. “Then your choice is…”

“To let her write.”