A Bloomin’ Short — Blossoms & Bears

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Flowers in buckets annie-spratt-210740-unsplash.jpg
Annie Spratt, Unsplash

Welcome, everyone.   As you know, I worked on the second novel in my Atonement, TN universe for several years before recently publishing Atonement in Bloom.  Forgive me if continue to celebrate the completion of that endeavor — my head and my heart are still in my quirky fictional town.  So, I decided to write a very short story related to “Bloom.”

This story would have happened “off camera” during Flowery Backfire, Chapter 8 of Atonement in Bloom.  Bethany and two minor characters, the brother and sister — Marge and Tracey Tipton get the spotlight.

Blossoms and Bears

Goth black boots just legs jan-szwagrzyk-574827-unsplash.jpg
Jan Szwagrzyk, Unsplash

Bethany shivered and turned up the heater in her purple Volkswagen Beetle.  

The little car was crammed full of flowers.  Azaleas were arranged in the seats.  Dahlias draped across the dashboard.  Sunflowers stood up from the sunroof.  Petunias protruded from the windows ― hence the Goth accountant’s shivering.  She stuffed so many flowers into the car that she couldn’t close the windows. 

She had offered to help Ralda Lawton get rid of the bombardment of blossoms.  However, the flowers were so beautiful that the Goth hated to just throw them away.  Bethany decided to take them to the nearest nursing home.

A short distance down the road, Marge Tipton’s old red pickup truck was parked on the roadside.  Bethany took her black booted foot off the accelerator when she spotted Marge and her brother Tracey.


The spot wasn’t far from the diner Marge owned, L-O-L-A Lola’s.  Of course, it would be farther to drive there.  Yet it wouldn’t be reasonable to tromp through that thicket to walk to the restaurant. 

“What in the world is she doing?” Bethany muttered.

Marge stood holding a long stick and glaring at her brother.  Tracey seemed frustrated, but to the Goth’s relief he looked sober.  More than once she had helped Marge get him to act reasonably when he went on a bender.

As Bethany pulled the Beetle onto the shoulder, their voices drifted into the open windows.

“Walking tall and carrying a big stick only works if your name’s Buford Pusser and you’re in a movie!” Tracey told his sister as she poked her stick into the underbrush.  “Do you think that stick’s gonna help if it’s in there?”

Marge at LOLAs
Marge Tipton at LOLA’s

That comment was so strange that Bethany couldn’t help getting out of her car to investigate.

“If nobody will do anything about that bear then I’ll have to do it myself!  I don’t think they even believe there is a bear.  Well, they can just kiss my foot,” his sister retorted and moved to the next bush.

Bethany already knew Marge thought she had seen a bear prowling around the diner after dark.  She wouldn’t touch that conversation with a ten-foot pole ― or a long stick.

Marge repeatedly stabbed the stick into the bushes.  A quail flew up, making quite a commotion.  Everybody jumped and exclaimed words that weren’t necessarily fit for mixed company.

Quails, Wiki Media Commons

Tracey bent to pick up the stick his sister dropped when the bird startled her.  He kept it on pretext of scraping mud off his boots.

“What brings you out here, Miss Bethany?” Tracey asked, straightening his cap.

He tended to act a little nervous around the dark-haired woman.  Bethany thought it was because she was a Goth.  Marge thought it was because he was sweet on her.

“I’m taking some flowers to the nursing home out on Highway 41,” Bethany explained.

“Would it be too much trouble to drop me off at the Rowdy Rooster?  It’s not far out of your way,” Tracey asked with an impatient glance at his sister.

Marge narrowed her eyes at the mention of the redneck bar. 

“Not even my own brother believes there’s a bear,” she muttered.

“I’m sorry, Tracey.  My car’s running over with flowers,” she said and received an eye-roll in return for her excuse.  “No, honestly it is.”

They turned and saw the flowers sticking out of the Volkswagen’s windows and sunroof.  Perplexed expressions painted the faces of the Tipton siblings.

“You know, I could really use some help.  You’ve probably scared the bear away,” she added, pretending to give Marge the benefit of a doubt.

♣ — ♣

purple and pink flowers
Anton Scherbakov, Unsplash

The three of them carried double arm-loads of blossoms into the nursing home.  The staff gathered every imaginable container for the blossoms.  There were enough flowers that Marge, Tracey, and Bethany put a bouquet in every room and each common area.

“Tracey Tipton, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen you,” a woman wearing a white coat exclaimed.  “They’ve really missed you coming to play for them.  But I don’t see your guitar,” she added in a disappointed tone.

Marge and Bethany turned in surprise toward the woman.  A name tag identified her as Dr. Mary Sue Leggett.  She stopped an orderly and whispered something.  A moment later he returned with a guitar.

Before Tracey had time to do more than murmur a vague objection he was herded to a common room where a dozen eager faces smiled encouragingly when he sat down with the guitar.

man playing guitar inside room
Jacek Dylag, Unsplash

While many of the residents were elderly, the facility also housed people of all ages with varied reasons for being there.  Bethany wondered if Tracey had ever been admitted as a patient.

Dr. Leggett spoke quietly as Tracey played and sang.  He seemed to enjoy himself every bit as much as his audience appreciated his music.

“I’ve never seen this side of your brother,” Bethany told Marge.

“Tracey could use a purpose in life,” Dr. Leggett suggested.  “If we could get him on a schedule to come out here even once a week, I think everyone would benefit from it.”

Marge turned sad eyes toward her brother.  Her mouth became a determined line.  It was the same expression she’d worn when trying to find her bear.  Bethany knew Marge had been through tough times with her brother.  It was no wonder she looked like she was bracing herself to poke a bear with a stick.

A hearty laugh came from Tracey as he agreed to play another song.  Marge smiled.

“I haven’t heard that laugh in years,” Marge commented in a bemused voice.  “I’ll do everything I possibly can to make that happen,” she promised.

Bethany shook her head wonderingly as she walked out of the building.  The sounds of a sing-along followed her as she got into her purple Volkswagen and drove away. 

♣ — ♣

The end.  Or perhaps a new beginning for Tracey Tipton.

I hope you’ll join me Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day and another chapter of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers.  The random “things” driving the next episode are One Lone Dandelion, Free Verse Poem, and Candle Wax.

I’ll be looking for you at the station!


Now some shameless self-promotion.

Atonement in Bloom

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The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

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Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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86 thoughts on “A Bloomin’ Short — Blossoms & Bears

  1. I love these little side stories that give a glimpse into the background of a character. No character is all good or all bad and it’s nice to read about the other side of a flawed character like Tracey.

    … not to the mention the image of a purple Beetle stuffed with flowers! 🙂💐🌷🌸🌻 You’ve left me with a wonder image on this dark and gloomy morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, thank you so much!
      As for the thought of the Beetle stuffed with flowers — my pleasure. You have me a huge smile by saying that, because it’s dark and gloomy this morning here too. It’s been that way a lot. Finally yesterday we had a beautiful autumn day — and I thought we were going to have the same today. Wrong! I was disappointed when the “sun” finally came up and revealed another rainy day. Sunshine super hugs, my friend!


    1. Thank you so much, Rob. I hope I never produce a story that feels “moralizing” or in any way like a Sunday school lesson, because I deplore those. But at the same time, I didn’t want the Tracey character to seem like the stereotypical town drunk…
      Thanks for revisiting this post. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh, I thought you were editing, and pulling together the poetry book. But that would require some writing too.
              You could try picking a “theme” (sort of a prompt) That would work for either writing or editing. I mean a theme for a section of the collection, or a series of writing prompts on one theme.
              Or two “opposite” things and how you are making them work together. Lava Boy & Shark Girl. Sense & Sensibility. Ma & Pa Kettle. LOL.

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Just a silly story, Rob. A little extra for the Tracey and Marge characters. I don’t mean it to be a deep insight or a commentary. Just a story.
      Who knows what supernatural secrets Tracey has seen during his years in Atonement. He might have a larger role in the next book, now that he is taking fuller shape in my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love it, Teagan! Music fixes everything and I have a feeling that is exactly what Tracey needed. I just finished Atonement, Tennessee and the review will go up today. Now onto Atonement in Bloom, while the characters are still fresh in my mind! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jan, I’m honored that you read the first book. I hope you enjoyed your visit to my quirky #UrbanFantasy town. I really do appreciate it.
      And I’m delighted you enjoyed this little blossom. Hugs on the wing.


    1. Do you really like it, Jennie? I almost didn’t post it, fearing it was either boring or sappy, or both. However, I enjoy adding to the “Atonement universe.” I appreciate your encouragement and the time you spend visiting.
      The leaves are suddenly beautiful here (it seemed to happen over night last week), with the sun shinning through them. Have a sublime Sunday. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did like it, Teagan. It was not boring or sappy. Really! Your stories are some of the best. The leaves here are finally beautiful here when there is no rain – which seems to be happening most days. Not our best fall.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Really, Jacquie? That makes me feel a lot better. I’m so used to being the Cliffhanger Maven that I worried. LOL, I’m having a problem with Tracey — now I also want to know the rest of his story. I’m wondering if he’ll work his way into book 3…
      Huge thanks for taking time to visit. Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you thought so, Mary. That means a lot to me. I almost didn’t post it, because it wasn’t exciting. I always have fun adding to the minor character of Marge. I didn’t expect to focus on brother Tracey, but I really enjoyed developing him. Suddenly he’s more than just the reason Marge came to Atonement. Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! You packed a lot if intrigue and emotion into this short story – I love it. It’s funny how we, well at least I don’t think of the hundreds of backstories that must be going on in a town like Atonement. This was a great side trip and I could handle more developing from this. Of course, that’s just what you need, another way to go 🙂 And, I don’t want to start trouble, but a guy playing a guitar…ok, nuff said.

    Teagan, have a wonderful weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dan, thanks for giving me a chuckle about the guy/guitar. You’re right about the multiple backstories. Chip (the delivery boy) and his muscle car — my imagination could get a lot of mileage from that too. Oh-oh… now I’ve gone and done it. I really need to put on the breaks. Supernatural girlfriend for Chip… automotive magic. Help!

      I’ve (totally unexpectedly) had so much fun writing the shorts that develop the background for Marge. When Bethany popped into my mind for this story, Marge and her bear sightings were right behind. However, I was a bit surprised to find myself focusing on Tracey. (Hmmm… maybe he had a past life with that magical lute… Make me stop!) I’m really happy that you enjoyed it. Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Geoff, I started sneezing just writing it. 😉 I suddenly wanted to post a new short story, but after a particularly difficult workday, I didn’t have the energy to write anything exciting. So I had fun developing the Marge and Tracey characters and hope everyone enjoys it. Thanks for visiting. Have a satisfying Saturday. Hugs.


    1. You are so kind about the books, Fraggle. Whenever you get to it, I hope you enjoy your more in depth visit to Atonement, Tennessee. I’m happy that you enjoyed this little tale. It’s fun to develop minor characters whose story doesn’t contribute enough to the novel’s plot to include them. Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, Olga. That “how” question had been slowly gnawing at the back of my mind. So yesterday when I suddenly decided to write an “off camera” short story that was where my imagination went. Marge and her “bear sightings” came up right away… and there I went. Many thanks for visiting and for sharing. Mega hugs!


    1. You are so kind, Cindy. I thought of you and your photographs yesterday, when donating a stack of Smithsonian magazines to a school. (I was keeping them to use the pictures to go by — intending to start painting again… but I never did.) I need to visit your blog. Your photos are utterly inspiring. Huge thanks for your visit and encouragement. Hugs on the wing!


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