short story, The Brown Family

All You Need is a Pink Tutu

If people listened to me, everyone would be happy, thought six-year old Annabelle Brown, as she pirouetted in front of the bathroom mirror in her favorite, pink tutu. The place smelled like toothpaste, but she didn’t care. As the layers of her skirt swirled around her, she pretended to be a butterfly. She twirled and she twirled and she twirled, but no matter how many times she twirled, she couldn’t get rid of the anger storming inside her.


“Why can’t I go fishing?” she had said to her father.

He picked her up and gave her a kiss. His spicy aftershave made her nose twitch. “Cause you’re wearing a tutu,” he said.

“Fish don’t care what I wear.” Do they?

“Maybe another time honey.” But she knew his voice meant, never.


Annie stuck her leg into the air like the ballerinas do on TV and held her nose high. Who cares about smelly fish. Her leg hurt, so she put it down again.

The problem was, she did care.

It wasn’t fair that her farty brother, Benjamin, got a special trip with Daddy. It wasn’t fair he got to fish and she didn’t. She heard two car doors close and the engine roar to life.

Annie frowned at herself in the mirror, and stuck out her tongue. She needed her own adventure. She opened the door and peered both ways down the hallway. The coast was clear.

As she tip toed to her bedroom, she imagined all the wild things she could do. Most of them could only happen in her imagination, but they still warmed her heart.

She needed to be practical, so she took out her knapsack and filled it with underwear because Mom says you always travel with extra panties, and a fishing lure she had borrowed from her father’s stash. Once packed she slipped out of the house.

Annie hadn’t escaped unnoticed, though. Fritter, their puppy, named after an apple fritter, chased after her.

Once they had walked a block she stopped and looked back towards her home. She was free. Totally free. Now what? She wished she had thought of taking money, because then she could go to the store and buy candy, but she hadn’t. The puppy jumped up on her leg wanting to play and that gave her an idea.

I’ll go to the park. That will be fun. Maybe not as much fun as fishing, but fun.

As she skipped along with Fritter at her side, she felt better and better. She noticed the colors of the flowers and smelled the freshly-cut grass. A flock of Canadian geese flew overhead in a V formation and she spotted a squirrel. The world seemed “extra-specially” wonderful.

None of her friends were at the park, but that didn’t stop her from entering. There were about ten kids spread out between the swings and the climbing stuff. She ran around the equipment with the puppy barking close at her heels and when she got tired of that, she took to the swings and pumped herself as high as she could, imagining what it would be like to touch the sky.

Kids came and went and Annie kept playing. It was fun to be on her own. Exciting in a way she had never imagined.

But as the day wore on, she got bored. No one she knew came by and the bigger kids weren’t interested in playing with her.

Is it because I’m wearing a tutu?

She sat beside a tree and held Fritter close. She could still smell the shampoo Mom had used on him in the morning, after he had rummaged through the garbage and rolled in the salmon leftovers.

A man she didn’t recognized came up to her. “Are you lost, little girl?”

“Nope. I live over there.” Annie pointed towards her home.

“Would you like me to walk you home?”

“No, thank you.”

“You are alone, aren’t you?”

Annie’s gut did a summersault. How many times had her mother told her not to talk to strangers? But he looked normal. Do bad guys look normal?

“That’s a nice puppy you have.” The man reached for Fritter and the puppy growled. A deep sound, she had never heard him make before.

Annie held Fritter tighter and glared at the man. She yelled in her loudest voice, “Get away from me. I don’t know you.”

Everyone in the park looked at her. A couple older kids ran over. One of them started tapping on her cell phone.

The man turned red in the face and ran away.

It didn’t take the police long to come, but Annie wouldn’t let them take her home, because she didn’t know them either. She did tell them her phone number though, because they wore police uniforms. Her Mom arrived within a couple minutes.

The nice police lady told her Mom how brave Annie had been. They managed to catch the man a couple blocks away and sent him to jail.

She said the world needed more Pink Tutu warriors.


The following Saturday, Annie went fishing in her tutu.

©Jo-Ann Carson



Photo from Pixabay

Meme created on Canva

If you like this story, check out last weeks: A Dog of a Story for Monday

short story

A Dog of a Story for Monday

Twelve-year old, Benjamin Brown wanted to be a good boy, most of the time, but being good was hard work and not always fun. When he accidentally drew a naked woman on his bedroom wall with black, permanent marker, he decided he better do something “extra-specially” good, before his mother found out.

I was just doodling, after all.

Having no money was his first hurdle, but refusing to be detoured from his goal of achieving peace on the home front, he borrowed four looneys (i.e., Canadian bucks) from his Dad’s wallet and headed to the closest Tim Horton doughnut shop. It was a warm spring day, the kind one dreams of through the long Canadian winter.

The creative drive inside me makes me do weird stuff.

His mother liked Boston Cream doughnuts, his father Maple Dips and his sister Powdered Sugar. He figured a half dozen doughnuts would get him out trouble. Three for them and three for him. His would be apple fritters. That was his plan.

All great artists doodle and Mom and Dad will  understand this when I explain the creative process over doughnuts.

Benjamin Brown had lots of artistic plans. The biggest and most secret one being that he would become a rock star called Jamin Brown, drive expensive cars and have lots of girlfriends, by the time he turned sixteen. He hadn’t decided if he would rap or sing country, but he would be the best. As he stood in line to make his order, he imagined how cool he would be.

Maybe I should have taken more money and bought a dozen?

Ahead of him stood four kids in soccer uniforms, two men talking curling, a guy with a toque pulled low over his eyes who smelled of weed and a woman with ear buds bobbing her head to music only she could hear.

I didn’t mean to be bad.

The human form was something to be celebrated and that’s how he would start his talk with his parents. He remembered his father saying that, or was it the bald guy on the infomercial selling diets? Whatever. A woman’s body, everyone had to agree, was something to celebrate.

I’ll never do it again.

He left the store with his mind swirling with excuses. “I thought it was washable ink? I didn’t think you would mind. It is my wall.” But nothing sounded like an excuse they would want to hear.

“Hey, sonny, what’s you got there?” The slurred voice of a homeless man sitting on the park bench broke his reverie.

“Uh, doughnuts.”

The man’s eyes widened. The guy had no shoes. It was May, but he had no shoes. Or socks. Just bare feet covered in dirt. And his big toe looked bruised and swollen. Jamin Brown swallowed. “Want one?”

The man took an apple fritter. That was okay, because he still had five left, and Jamin continued on his way.

He could see home when he ran into Alice, the girl who sat at the front of his home room class, the girl with the long blond hair who told everyone her bra size last week, the girl every guy he knew wanted to hang out with. His palms got sweaty and his throat thickened. She did that to him. But then he thought, maybe she would like a doughnut and maybe, just maybe, that would help her remember his name.

It was fun watching her smile as she ate an apple fritter and the best part was when she licked her lips afterwards. Some moments he wished would last longer.

Four doughnuts left. He would tell his parents he had done his bit to stop hunger in the community and foster a sense of sharing. Squaring his shoulders he walked a bit easier, confident that everything would work out and that he had impressed a girl.

That’s when he heard a familiar voice call his name. “Hey, Benjamin, you got to see what I got.”  Al, a good friend of his, had a big cardboard box in his bike carrier.

When Jamin looked inside it his heart stopped. There were two little, puppies with floppy ears, big paws and round eyes making mewing and . whimpering sounds that called to him. Al said they were a Heinz variety. He’d never heard of a Heinz before, but they sure were cute.

Jamin spent some time playing with the puppies at the side of the road, and to make a long story short, he gave the four doughnuts he had for one of the puppies. A good trade to his mind.

He knew his six-year old sister would love to have a puppy and together they could talk their parents into just about anything. Of course he should probably tell them about the wall first. If they hadn’t already discovered his art work, or the missing money.

It had been an interesting day, thought Jamin as he opened the front door of his home. And it was about to get a lot more interesting.

©Jo-Ann Carson


Photo from Pixabay

Meme created on Canva





10 Year Cancerversary – They Call me a Survivor #MondayBlog

Today is a very special day for me. Ten years ago I had my first breast cancer surgery. There were more, but it was my first.

I am presently cancer free.

Why did I get cancer? Why did I get to survive? I don’t know the answer to these questions, and even though I’ve spent hours contemplating them, I know I never will.

What I can tell you is that I am grateful for these ten years and intend to never take being alive for granted again.

Facing death does that to you.

The ten year milestone is significant. They say that after ten years any cancer you get is not related to the first cancer. I am finally out of the shadow of the big C. I am so lucky.

So on this milestone day, I’d like to thank all the doctors and nurses who treated me with gentle care and dignity, as if I were the only person to ever have the disease. I’d like to thank the researchers who continue to look for answers. All these people are saints in my book.

But I especially want to thank my husband and daughters who stood by me through it all and my friends and siblings who cheered me on. And I thank God.

In honor of this occasion I’ll share with you the first entry in my cancer journal, Dancing in the Jaws of the Dragon.

“I’m afraid it’s not the news you wanted to hear,” said the surgeon over the phone. He paused, “You have breast cancer.” He didn’t actually say the word, “cancer.” He used precise medical terms, but no Latin word endings could soften the impact of what he was saying. My brain registered: I have cancer … I could die. I gave my husband the thumbs down sign and struggled to follow the details from the pathology report being explained to me. It was hard to breath. The doctor stopped talking, and I heard myself say that I would come into his office the next  day and that, yes, I would bring someone with me. It was maybe a three-minute call, but time stopped for me that night. I had been dealt the “Cancer card,” and my life would never be the same.

My grown daughters had been anxiously waiting for six days for news about my pathology report, and now I had to tell them that it wasn’t good. I didn’t want to disrupt their happy, young lives. But I had no choice. Life was not giving me, or any of us a choice. I knew that cancer doesn’t affect one person in a family. It affects everyone in a family. You board the cancer roller coaster together not knowing where it will take you and you hang on. I held on to the hope that we would get through this, whatever “this ” turned out to be, together. I phoned. They were supportive, loving and  … hurt.

That night was long, unbelievably long. Time does that. It stretches with fear and worry. In the darkness of my bedroom I was tormented by an overwhelming sense of helplessness and crippling fear. I tossed and turned, and tossed again. I had maybe two hours sleep by sunrise. I tried deep breathing, meditation and mentally kicking myself in the butt, techniques that usually worked for me, but nothing worked that night. I couldn’t relax. The “what-ifs” would not let me go. I’m someone who likes to feel in control. Cancer stripped me of that comfort, and I felt more bare-naked than I had ever felt in my entire life. I felt like I’d been tossed into the wind with no idea of where I would land, like a dandelion seed in a storm. I thought the night would never end, but it did.

A week later I had my first breast removed. Later I would lose the second and have reconstructive surgery. They call me a survivor, but I don’t feel brave, or noteworthy. I feel extremely fortunate.

There’s no moral to this story. It’s just a slice of my life.

In the last ten years I retired, reunited with my brother, traveled to Europe, which was something I had dreamed of doing all my life, and best of all, have been blessed with five (perfect) grandchildren.

I think it’s important to not let a disease or misfortune claim me, or define me in any way. I don’t want to be known as a survivor, or one who endured “whatever”, because let’s face it, we all struggle in life. I’m not different from anyone else. We are all survivors.

But still, today, for me is sacred.


Cat Picture – Pixabay

Meme created on Canva 




Cover and Trailer Reveal: Too Many Women in the Room

Joann Guidoccio has another Gilda Greco cozy mystery coming out soon. I can’t wait. The last one, A Season for Killing Blondes, was delicious, filled with Italian pastry, complex characters and a subtle humor.

Joanne Guidoccio

I’m thrilled to share this cover and trailer with all of you!



When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

Coming Soon!

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A Video Review for A Viking Ghost for Valentine’s Day!!!

I am so excited to share with you my first video review because:

  • It’s my first!!! Did I mention that?
  • It’s from Lisa Siefert at the Paranormal Romance Review
  • I’m reviewed along with two other authors established in my genre (Abigail Owen and Ainsley Evans).

Flash #Free Book – A Viking Ghost …

I decided to go free for a day (March 1st only) and this is what’s happened:
#17 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Paranormal > Ghosts
#27 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Holidays
Link to free copy, today March 1st, only:


Gathering Gratitude Party

Gathering #Gratitude in February #MondayBlog #Inspiration

What are you grateful for?

J.C. McKenzie

This February I’m filled with gratitude knowing my youngest daughter is returning to live on the coast at the end of the month. She’s been living in a small, border town in the middle of the country miles and miles away. (i.e., Saskatchewan and we live in B.C.)

I hate it when my kids are far away. Yeah, I know they’re both all grown up, independent, strong women with good partners and families of their own, but they are still my babies and I always will be. I rest better knowing they’re close.

The two of us at the InD’tale conference in Palm Springs

I cherish the opportunity of becoming a greater part of my grandbabies’ lives. I also cherish that my girls will be closer to each other again and their families will grow up with cousins near by. I have great memories of playing with my cousins in Sault Ste Marie. Never a dull moment!

So my big gratitude statement for this month is one about family.

Whenever I think about JC’s upcoming move my heart swells and a sense of overwhelming peace flows through me.

I am so blessed and grateful beyond words.

JC Catching her first fish on the Haida Gwaii
JC Catching her first fish on the Haida Gwaii

Your turn.

gratitude-buttonIf you would like to write a post about what you’re feeling grateful for, or about how gratitude has changed your life, feel free to link it through the linkz below. You can also, simply comment below.

The Linkz will be active until Friday March 3rd. The next Gratitude Gathering will be on the last week of March (26-31).