Shorts for the Weekend — Lemon Trees at Sunset, featuring SR Mallery

Altered Pixabay image

Saturday, September 10, 2022 

Hello everyone, and welcome back to this casual series of “Shorts for the Weekend.”  They’re written by yours truly, but illustrated with images created by and/or supplied by the featured guest.

Today’s images were provided by an author you’ve gotten acquainted with here, S.R. (Sarah)SR Mallery Tender Enemies Mallery.  She took the beautiful orange sky photo while out on a walk one evening, and she found the amazing mystical book image at Pixabay.  Then I chose her novel Tender Enemies (Universal purchase link: as the third inspirational image.  The icons on the book cover got my imagination started, but my story didn’t go in the same direction, and has nothing to do with hers.

How could I not share one of Sarah’s marvelous books, when she just did a huge feature for me on her stunning newsletter?  You can see it, and her quality work here and you can subscribe too:
Thank you, Sarah, for offering these illustrations. 

I suppose my story is rather… esoteric.  I hope everyone will enjoy it.

Lemon Trees at Sunset


Photo by Sarah Mallery
Photo by Sarah Mallery

Sunset seared the sky, casting an orange glow on my notebook.  I sat beneath the lemon trees and breathed in their scent, enjoying the calm of the evening, and not doing my homework.

My bare toes dug into the grass.  I flexed my toes making a pop-pop-pop with the middle three toes.  Then I wiggled all ten, enjoying the sensations.

It was a long-ago time, when assignments were written in cursive with ballpoint pins.  Books were printed and bound.  School libraries were constructed of brick and mortar.  Cars and planes belched odors from their fuel.

And when misfit girls sat alone under lemon trees.

Rousing myself from a long daydream, I was only vaguely aware that the sun was on its way down the horizon.  I looked at the book in my lap.  My assignment had been a report on World War II.  However, when I went to the library to collect the four required “sources,” I also picked up a wartime romance book.

I gave a little smirk, thinking of the delicious way the story made me feel.  Then it faltered to an odd frown.  My dad hated it when I smiled that way.

Either smile or don’t, but get that foolish look off your face, he would say.

My mind filled with iconic images from the story, the Statue of Liberty, the swastika…

“No matter how horrible, war always managed to return.  Humankind never seemed to learn from it.  I wonder if mom and dad have stopped arguing yet,” my thoughts rambled.


The teacher wouldn’t accept the romance book as a source.  I spread all the library books in front of me.  Only then did I notice a book that didn’t belong.  I was certain that I had not taken that one from a shelf.  I wasn’t likely to forget such a book.

It smelled musty and looked tattered and not just old, but ancient.  The title wasn’t written in English or any language that had a familiar look.  Strange emblems were on the aged leather cover.

“Maybe the librarian was trying to be helpful.  The expression on her face was disapproving when she saw the romance book I was checking out,” I thought.  “She was talking about symbols and the swastika having been something good before the Nazis corrupted it for their own use, but I wasn’t listening.”

I clicked my pen and opened my three-ring notebook.  The light had not started to fade enough that it bothered my eyes.  Staring blankly at the books, I wondered what to title my report.

The report had to be given aloud to the whole class.  Everyone would make fun of me before I finished the first paragraph.  The classes changed, and so did the students, but the ridicule was there every year.

“That never changes,” I mumbled.

Knowing that, the title had to be perfect.  I made a sloppy start, misspelling a word.  Angrily I tore the page free of the notebook, getting a paper cut in the process.  I stuck my finger in my mouth.

When I glanced down, a tiny lizard sat on the old book, gazing up at me.

“Get off!” I yelled, startled.

Scrambling to my feet, I picked up the book and caused the lizard to flee.

Robert Waghorn Pixabay
Robert Waghorn at Pixabay

At the sound of a plane overhead I looked skyward, wistfully.  I imagined the varied people on the plane, the exciting places to which they went, the romance, the comradery.  Friendships.  Acceptance.

Distracted, I stumbled on the uneven ground.  I dropped the book, which fell open on the grass.

With my left hand I shielded my eyes against the light.  My right hand hung at my side.  I didn’t realize the paper cut was still bleeding.  I still gazed after the plane and watched the vanishing contrails, imagining faraway places and people.

The moisture of the blood on my finger and the burn of the cut finally displaced the daydreams.  When I looked down, I saw a deep red bead of blood.  Moving at an impossibly slow speed, it dripped onto the open page of the book.  With a tiny splash, the blood landed in the center of a star symbol inside a circle.  It was a pentagram surrounded by other strange emblems that I didn’t recognize.  On the opposite page was a picture of a sun, overlaid by a line drawing of an eclipse.

I heard mom’s voice, calling me to dinner.  Their yelling would transfer from each other and be redirected at me if I didn’t hurry.  Clipping my ballpoint pen to the notebook, I stacked the library books on top.

When I turned to pick up the old book, I was fascinated by the way the setting sun cast light on the pages.  It seemed to make the book glow orange.  The drop of blood in the center of the pentagram glittered ruby red.

My blood.


Trying to pick up the book without bleeding on it anymore, I lifted it one-handed.  However, it was big, heavy, and too awkward to manage with just my left hand.  I held the right side, but the left dangled vertically.  The droplet ran downward, making a red trail to the drawing of the eclipse.

As the blood connected the heart of the pentagram to the eclipse, the orange light of sunset shone on the pages.

The scent of the lemon trees filled my nose.  Light blossomed all around me.  It was so bright that brilliance overwhelmed sight and even hearing.  Yet I could still smell the lemon trees.

My grip on the book went slack.  The heavy tome landed painfully on my toes.  I jumped backward with a curse that would have angered both of my parents.

As the blinding light receded, I cast an accusatory glare at the book.  However, it was gone.  I beheld a pair of feet, that were as bare.  The toes flexed, making a pop.  Hearing the sound, I automatically made my own toes pop the same way.

Being so dazzled by the burst of light, my reaction was belated.  I looked at the bare feet.  Blinking away the last of the glare, my eyes took in a long airy skirt, then waste-length hair, and then a vaguely familiar face.

“Do I know you?” I asked suspiciously.

She looked a little like my mother, I realized.  Although that wasn’t exactly what made me feel I should know her.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you for quite a while yet,” the woman said.

A breeze rustled through the lemon trees.  Their scent came to my nose again, but it was different, clearer, cleaner.  Abruptly something seemed off to me.  I looked up, thinking it was about time that another plane would pass overhead.  However, the sky was empty except for birds and fluffy white clouds.  I turned toward the nearby highway, even though it would be out of view.  I listened, and then I listened harder.  There were no sounds of horns or engines.

I looked at the woman uneasily.  She returned my gaze with a little smirk.  That expression seemed familiar to me too.

She scrutinized me as if gauging my age.  Then she nodded to herself.

“The bullies at school… mom and dad fighting all the time.  Never feeling good enough?  Dreading every new week before the weekend is even over?” she asked although it was clearly not a question.

“How—” I mouthed the word, but nothing came out.

“You’re right.  It never really changes.  The people who make life seem unbearable never change.  Mom and dad will argue as long as they both live, and they’ll never give you the relief of splitting up either,” she said, astounding me that she could know those things.


“All you can do is cope with it as best you can.  Lose yourself in your books.  Sit under the lemon trees and dig your toes into the grass.  Whatever gets you through the day.  Then, as soon as you are old enough, you walk away from everyone who wants to break you,” the woman added.  “You can, and you will.”

“You don’t get it.  You don’t know what it’s like!” I cried.  “Who are you?  How could you know what I can or can’t cope with?”

She gave me that smirk again.  Then she popped her toes as she had done when she arrived.  As I had popped my own toes…

She was only a couple of inches taller than me.  I looked at her lips, lifting my hand toward her face, but stopping.  Instead, I put my fingers to my own lips.  Finally, I understood what was familiar about the woman.

“How do I know you can cope, survive, even thrive someday?” she asked.  “Because it is-was-will-be.  Because you can-did-will-do.”

Suddenly the brilliant light engulfed me anew.  When it dissipated, the noise of a jet overhead filled my ears.  My notebook sat open under the lemon trees, and my books spread across the ground as I had left them.

However, the ancient leather book had disappeared.

The end.

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  The Armadillo FilesArmadillo Files anime style cover by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

If you missed any episodes of my latest blog serial, The Armadillo Files — or if you’re lonesome for Fang and Dilly, the book version is available.

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Wishing you a wonderful weekend.  I love to hear from you, so friendly comments are encouraged. Hugs on the wing!

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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 © 2022 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or used with permission, or from free sources.

60 thoughts on “Shorts for the Weekend — Lemon Trees at Sunset, featuring SR Mallery

    1. Thanks, Denise. I had gotten as far as the blood on the book and the blast of light… then I had no idea what to do except make it a bigger story than I wanted (and continue it for more episodes). I didn’t want to continue it, so I put it aside. The next day, the future-self popped into my head. I hope your week is off to a marvelous start. Hugs on the wing.


  1. A great story, you have a wonderful imagination! An interesting story, I especially enjoyed the lemon tree! I have looked through the MANY comments and there is nothing that I can add, only you must keep up the good work! ! Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you are so very kind, Ms. Frances — thank you. The geek in my woke up for this story as far as quantum physics and time theories when I used the “is-was-will be” lines. Theories about time are fascinating, but too much pondering of it will give one a headache! 😀 Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved the story, Teagan! I’m such a “Twilight Zone” fan, I particularly appreciated the end’s twist of how the meeting of such a smart, badly-treated girl’s future self will help her face her present life. And all of this with your deft, descriptive imagery. Wow. I was impressed at your taking little things that were from my provided pictures and incorporating them so well into your tale. As a matter of fact, I’m going to try that with my WIP! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Sarah. I’m delighted you enjoyed it and grateful to you for collaborating. Funny that you should mention the Twilight Zone. It was probably my earliest writing influence.
      I’m flattered (re your WIP). Little details do help push me forward when I write. I hope it helps you as much as it does me. I’m looking forward to whatever you have next! Hugs on the wing.


    1. I’m delighted to hear that, Resa. I’ve written blog serials for so many years, that I’m still a little uncomfortable with the idea of doing weekly short stories. So what you said helps a lot.
      Thanks in advance about the pictures. I look forward to seeing them. Hugs winging back to you.


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Robbie. So far no one has picked up on the little detail that I hoped would interest people — the “is-was-will be”. It’s a bit of theoretical physics about time.
      Have a beautiful weekend. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah… that could have been really useful, John. I was actually inspired by a theory of time that has kept my analytical-imagination working for decades — the “relativity of simultaneity”. It suggests that there is no unique present, and that each moment can have a different set of events that are in its present moment. Or that every moment happens at once, past present and future. So, my “is-was-will be” line. Never mind. I think I just gave myself a headache. LOL. 😀 Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Pat.
      Autobiography, barely a hint if that. Characters who are perfect, without difficulties tend to be one dimensional and even boring. The protagonist’s problems are the kind to which most people can relate, and that helps the reader root for the character. If I wrote a character that was truly autobiographical 99% of people wouldn’t believe it.


      1. I have a friend whose personal stories leave me on the cusp. Which would be worse for the stories to be true (like attempted sexual abuse by her father) or for it to be a lie?


  3. A lovely and hopeful story. And great images. I love S. R. Mallery’s stories, although I haven’t managed to read any in recent years. Thanks to her for the inspiration and the images, and thanks to you for bringing light and a bit of magic to our weekend. Stay well, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

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