Monica lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two foster dogs. She taught parents how to raise their toddlers for twenty-five years before retiring in 2015 to write. The secret to toddlers is to make sure you get enough sleep. Monica hasn't found the secret to writing, yet, but is diligently working at it. See her on-line stories in the profile links.
While suitors climbed the glass mountain where the golden apples grew, the princess searched Google for profiles. Golden Boy, who climbed in heavy gold armor, was revealed as a serial philanderer and bigamist on the site, “Knights to Avoid”. She sent her eagle out. His talons were like a can opener.
Next came the warlord. That’s how she thought of him because he was interested in annexing her kingdom. The eagle tore him into pieces and left each limb in a different conquered territory. The torso it ate.
The farmer’s son was a different story. A happily ever after story.
I’ve always wanted to find a hidden passage behind a bookcase or though a trap door in the floor. Wonderland or Narnia. A priest hole would work. Maybe that’s why British mysteries hold such appeal for me. So when Rosie the Roomba mapped a passage from my study to the street, I was ecstatic, if confused. Was the opening hidden under the rug? Had we covered the exit to the street with a raised bed like we did the clean-out for the sewer?
My husband says the new room is a mapping error from Rosie getting stuck. I hope not.
I send my mother cards because she has trouble answering the phone. Today’s is a Hungarian landscape from World War II. It’s remarkably free of destruction and death, unlike what we see in war photos from the newspapers.
The place in Texas where she’s living resembles the card’s frontpiece. There’s a lake. There are houses. The hills are a dull green, shot through with bare soil. A year ago, when she hated where she was, my mother threatened to move to Czechoslovakia. Next to Hungary. Close to Ukraine. I’m glad she didn’t. Here, she imagines escape without confronting the reality.
In 1975, I biked my dog to Stanford campus. At Tressider Union, I drank coffee. He rested under the table. Afterwards, we stopped at Lake Lag. Cas retrieved sticks, swimming murky water. “Two-thirds what it was,” the old timers said.
In 2012, my niece moved into a dorm that backed onto a weedy, muddy shadow of Lake Lag. I expected it to fill with rainy season water. No luck, dry like this year.
Hundred year drought we’re in. Arsenic blows off a drying Great Salt Lake, a hazard to fish and people. Climate cycle, climate change, it’s too damn hot.
Rosie is our new Roomba. She’s a little ADD. Childlike, each day a new adventure. She wanders off course though I’ve set a map and a schedule. On her trial run I followed like an anxious parent noticing the places she missed, wondering how to help.
Our little black dog was much more chill. He relaxed on the rug watching while I said, “I think you should move.” He thought her harmless until she ran into his foot. He made a reluctant retreat. But he came back, ears perked. He’s right to think that Rosie is no threat to him.
Can you find the hidden alligator lizard? Imagine squatting in an iris bed, pulling unwanted grass. The grass is what you see first. But before you reach in, ready to tug, a pattern emerges and then a snout and then the wary lizard, eyes unblinking, body unmoving. What a cutie!
Not everyone has that last reaction, but I do. They have personalities, these reptiles. Two fence lizards who lived in our backyard were inseparable, protective of each other, the Romeo and Juliet of lizards. Great extroverts, they enjoyed relaxing on their backs, exposing the blue line that bisected their tummies.
Ready or Not– This is my first published story using characters from an unpublished collection of linked stories that I’m writing. The Palo Alto Weekly awarded this story an honorable mention in their 2022 Short Story Contest.