Tag Archives: Linda Claire Groshans short stories

Bunny Paw Prints – a short story by Linda Claire

photo by Linda Claire

Years ago, on a summer morning, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. She loved doughnuts and I had brought along a box of Tim Horton’s pastries for the visit.  I also had brought cups of black coffee that were aromatic and steaming hot. I felt so grateful for this fine morning and the company of my sweet mother. Afterall, I was sitting in the company of my mother who was also my best friend. 

Mom and I sat together. We didn’t talk much. We spent quite a bit of our time just looking out the large front kitchen window.  She didn’t get outside as much now, but she loved the nature views out her windows.  

“What kind of doughnut do you want?” I asked her as I opened the box to display our choices. 

She gave me her sweet cute coy smile and said, “Oh, you pick one out for me. I like them all. In fact, I might fancy a taste of each one!” 

I was happy. I got up to go over to the cupboards to collect plates, silverware and napkins. I looked over my shoulder and saw her peeking at the doughnuts just like a little girl excited for a special treat. This simple moment, a cup of coffee and a collection of doughnuts to share with my mother. This was a good day.  I clattered the plates a bit on purpose so that she would look over at me. No matter what I did, no matter how old I got, her gazes towards me were always admiring. I knew that I was very loved. 

“I just hope you don’t want a piece of the long john because that is the one, I picked out for myself” I kidded her. Oh, how we both loved to tease. 

“No, I don’t like that type,” she said while looking a dramatically disappointed. 

“Liar!” I said and then I cut her a big bite of the long john along with some other samples. We are both smiling because our little joke had amused us. 

As we began to eat our treat, we looked out her window. 

“Mom, look…look now.” I urged. 

Right there in the middle of the driveway was a bunny. The morning light was misty, the grass beside the drive was full of dew and a bunny had arrived for our entertainment. The bunny who was obliviously content to sit on the cement driveway of all places! 

“Mom, do you see that bunny?” 

“Yes,” she replied. “It comes here quite often about this time of day.” 

We both sipped our coffees and continued to watch the bunny who now appeared to be frozen in place at one spot in the very center of the driveway. Then, just like that, it hopped away. Gone. 

“Mom, look! It left little wet pawprints on the driveway. He must have been on the wet grass before hopping here.” I was so taken by the visual image of those little dew prints that the bunny had left behind. 

And then in just seconds, I said: “Mom, the pawprints are disappearing!” I felt disappointment for the end of that fleeting scene. 

“The doughnuts are disappearing too.” she coyly stated and smiled at our plates. 

“No Mom, not the doughnuts, the pawprints. They are almost gone they are disappearing so quickly!” I wanted to express how things can disappear, how special moments shared can end too quickly.

The sun was getting brighter and filtering light across the grass and the drive. The sun was erasing the little bunny pawprints. It had also started to dry the dew drops on the grass.  

“The sun erased the prints.” My mother said gently. She reached out to touch my arm and continued talking, “Prints don’t last long, the sun erases them.”  

I continued sipping my coffee as her words played in my mind. My mother was a wise woman. “The prints don’t last long; they are erased by the sun.” 

She is right. Prints don’t last long.

Even the prints in our lives that are our sad mishaps don’t last long. In fact, in the scheme of life, all the prints or moments are fleeting.  

I got up and squinted out the window looking again at the concrete which was now dry and full of dappled sun patterns. The day was turning out to be fine. The birds were starting a morning concert. Our coffee was gone.  

“I love you.” I said as I hugged her before leaving. “Want to have a picnic soon, we could ask everyone over?” I asked her, but I already knew that she would be thrilled.

I got into my Jeep to leave, and as I drove past her front door, I could see her standing there and waving at me. She always tried to make each moment together last.

On my drive home, I thought about how the sun had illuminated the day. I thought about how delicate those little paw prints looked and mostly I thought about how precious my aging mother was to me. 

Years have gone by since she passed away. Every day, she is in my heart and mind. Her gentle nature and joy for the little things and her unwavering love for family. She was and will always be my hero. 

Take A Hike…a short story by Linda Claire

Take a Hike

photo by Linda Claire

It was 1995 and an anti-depressant called Prozac was becoming a commonly used drug. I wanted some. My friends had it, and I needed it too. Afterall, the stress of my on-going divorce while also facing single parenting, handling my spiraling financial concerns, and knowing that I would need to return to the workplace, it was all too much. I was depressed and I wanted to take the pill that would make it go away. No problem, I just needed to go to my primary care doctor. Certainly, he would understand pain and give me some Prozac and maybe some Valium too. I needed my pain to go away. I wanted to stop thinking about losing my marriage, I wanted to stop thinking about my husband every minute. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to go on with life and clearly all those scientists in pharma laboratories had come up with a solution that I needed.

I arrived at Dr. T’s office on a Monday morning. I was guided to the exam room where a nurse took my blood pressure, weight and temperature and recorded the results. There was clearly no test for a broken heart, a failed marriage.

After a brief wait, there was a knock on the exam room door and Dr. T entered with a pleasant smile on his face.  Since I wanted to be convincing about needing the pills, I certainly could not smile back.  It all hurt, so I used a little bit of my drama training and my real pain and twisted my facial expression to one of horrible agony.

“So, what’s going on?” Dr T asked.

I guess my answer spanned several minutes. Afterall, I had been rehearsing this moment for a few days. My voice ended by saying, “So, I must have the pill that makes this all stop.”

“There”, I thought. And I waited for him to type up the pharmacy order. This would be the day that the pain would start to ease.

“Why is he still sitting there?” I asked myself. Dr. T. was reaching for my hand and patting it gently while he leaned forward on his stool.

The moments ticked away. “Come on, get on with it” I thought as I tried to will him to give me the cure.

Yes, “Dr., Dr., give me a cure, I have a bad case of lovin’ him”

Still nothing. The room was silent. I hurt, I really hurt and without using any drama I started to cry softly. The tears dripped down my face and I looked for something to wipe my nose. None of this was funny. My life was a wreck and I could not cope.

That is when he started talking again. “Claire, you need to get out in nature.” He said and he looked compassionate.

“Buddy,” I thought to myself. My unspoken voice continued my response to him silently “I don’t need nature, I told you that I need pills.”

“Take a hike, cut the grass, garden and just be outside in nature.” He said.

My mouth dropped open, it was beginning to appear that the pain was going to continue and would probably last forever.

“I’m paying you”, I thought to myself. “Give me the darn pills. I hurt” I wanted to scream, but I kept quiet.  Did he tell me to take a hike? That was about the same verbiage my husband had used.

I left the appointment with nothing more than some half-baked idea that going out into nature would release me from my agony.

I guess it was a couple days later that I decided to weed a flower bed. I kneeled on the ground and I cried. I cried so loudly that my neighbor came running over. “Dear, what is the matter?” she asked.

“I don’t know which ones are the weeds. I don’t even know how to garden.”

“Oh, that is simple” she replied. “The weeds are any of those plants that you don’t like.”

Then softly, she continued talking to me and then asked me a question,  “Hey, I am going for a little hike around the block, want to come with me?”

I wiped my tears and pulled myself up. “Yeah, I would like that.” I said.

The healing had started…

On the shelf…a short story by Linda Claire

I met Mrs. Schoop only once and it happened 52 years ago. I was a young girl of 14 years old and it happened when I was on a vacation with my girlfriend Mary and her family. I had traveled to Mary’s cottage on Mullett Lake in Cheboygan, Michigan. The word cottage was a not really a good descriptor. For my house guest’s home was truly was a grand lake side home.  

At 14 years old, one of my earned titles was “Book Worm.” I felt pride in that. No hard feelings about the stereotype, just bring me more books.   

On the second day into our stay at the cottage, Mary’s family was gravely disappointed that it kept raining outside. But, because of that day of rain, I had two experiences that have made lifelong impacts on my life. 

The first of those was a found a basket of comic books I found in a window seat. When I earned the name “Book Worm”, it was certainly not because of reading comic books. I read novels, classics, and poetry. I had amazing parents, but they were not parents who allowed comic books in my library. I had seen the funny pages in the paper on occasion, but never a full comic book! While the rest of Mary’s family played the board game Clue, I made my myself comfortable on a soft pillow and grabbed a stack of those comic books. It was a story of true love. I particularly fell in love with Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead. I read the stack and then read it again and again. 

The other event that happened because of the rain that day was Mary’s mother suggesting we meet the woman in the cottage next door. All I knew before walking into her door was that she was a proper old lady who did not like nonsense. “Oh great, an old spinster” I thought.  Yes, words like spinster were very much in my vocabulary thanks to the books Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables.  

Mary’s mother wanted us to dress up a bit for the visit. It had been arranged that Mrs. Schoop would provide us with a full tea party at her home. Mary’s mom had us practice our manners, but I was comfortable in this subject, I even knew how to curl my little finger while drinking.  

As we approached Mrs. Shoop’s home, she stood guarding her back doorway. She perfectly fit the look that I had put together in my imagination. Tall, stately, white hair in a tight bun, a shawl around the shoulders and a cane. She did not smile but offered a little wave instead.  

“Oh swell” I thought, “this is going to be a horrible day.”  

But, once my foot passed over the threshold of her back door, I was in a new universe. One that I would model later in my adult life. I was ever so familiar with the phrase, “do not judge a book by its cover” and this was certainly the case now. Mrs. Shoop was much more than she appeared at the first glance. 

The tea party was set on a table with fancy frilled linen that was printed with a strawberry pattern. There were teacups, fancy china, creamers, and sugar bowls all shaped to look like fanciful strawberries. The wallpaper was a beautiful border of budding strawberries, the rugs were shaped like enormous strawberries and the chairs had a similar pattern on the fabric seats and backs. Of course, the tea party included fresh berries and large strawberry milk shakes. “This is so cool”, I thought to myself while remembering my manners and waiting for Mrs. Shoop to be seated before I sat and placed my strawberry linen napkin into my lap. We had our party. And then, Mrs. Shoop suggested that we might like to take a tour of her home.  

The first room upstairs was a train room. The room was complete with train tracks built around the walls, and little trains chugged past us overhead. The lamps, chairs and all the décor continued the train theme. 

I was beginning to understand that Mrs. Shoop might become one of my favorite people. The amount of creative talent expressed in her decorating had such appeal. It allowed her guests to be in an almost reverent awe of her creative expressions.  

What would the next rooms hold? As it turns out, I would then see a room of pigs…yes fancy porcelain pigs that were large and walking right across the center of the pig room floor. There were flying pigs moved by large fans on the ceiling. From room to room, we continued the tour of themes. 

Many years later, when I became a single woman again after my divorce, I had my own time and place to decorate as I saw fit. I started by making my living room fit for any sea captain. The walls had great nautical art and word art about the seas. A large shipping chest sat in the corner. A sextant with mermaids sat on my shelves. She was a beauty.  

Friends that I entertained, loved the feel of the room. They said that my house gave them the sense that they wanted to memorize and find each of the treasures. I expanded to a family room bedecked with Little Red Riding Hoods…antique illustrated books, cookie jars, all sorts of treasures. The Red Riding Hood art pieces on my walls were both contemporary and classic paintings. 

Eventually, I downsized, and all my theme rooms got packed up for the taking. I have ended up living in a tiny house. No longer in need of so many possessions sitting on shelves anymore. The creativity that I have still finds room for expression in writing, photography and art.  

That being said, ALL of my current artwork in my tiny house is of my favorite animal…Elephants. In fact, a large Vietnamese porcelain elephant is a corner piece in my living room and even my pillows are shaped like elephants.  

I don’t have shelves for display items anymore, but needless to say, if I did have a curio cabinet shelf, I expect you would see a very fancy and fun shelf of elephants on display. 

Sharing a work cubicle (a short story) by L. Claire Groshans

Sharing a Work Cubicle

She arrived at their shared cubicle before him. It was often a relief for her to come to work. Home was complicated. Linda sat in her swivel office chair so she could take off her walking shoes and replace them with the low heels that were “business professional”. On her tidy desk, there was a photo of her with her husband. They had been happy the day that photo had been taken, but that was no longer the case. She kept her marital problems a secret while at work. She was not ready to tell anyone that her personal life was crumbling in spite of her daily efforts to think of any way possible to make her depressed husband happy and engaged again.

“Top o’ the Morning” her boss announced before even making the turn into their cubicle. Linda looked up just in time to see her boss’ broad boyish smile. He was wearing a tailored overcoat. As he took his coat off, he also set his quality leather brief case on top of his desk.

Each morning as he entered the front office doors, Neil carried that briefcase with obvious intention so the statisticians, writers and managers would see him looking very professional, important and hard at work. But, the brief case contained a secret. He had shared that secret with Linda nearly 6 months ago when she had started as his assistant. The secret was that the briefcase contained only a Tupperware container of trail mix. “Top Secret” he had told her when he first showed her these contents. She laughed out loud. And after that one loud office laughter episode, Neil had Linda practice with him to learn a “silent” laugh. Because their cubicle was so closely situated and sandwiched between the more serious work-a-day co-workers, they pledged to do their best to laugh without drawing attention to the fact that they were having fun.

“Do you remember what we are doing today?” he asked as he sat down at his desk. They were facing each other now, but when the work day officially began they would swivel their office chairs towards their desks, so their backs would then be towards one another.

“I remember” she said and then continued, “but first I have to tell you that the custodian is going to rat you out. He left a note.”

“Cripes” he looked at her in a mock horror. “Don’t tell me I spilled some pumpkin seeds out of my trail mix.”

“Living dangerously” she replied and then did the quiet “laugh thing” they had nearly perfected.

“Well, should we get on with it?” he asked. Today was her first employee review with the firm. The Human Resource Department had a deadline and she was actually hoping for a nice raise. Her work was good. Neil was the editor of the business professional periodical they worked on. Linda’s clever use of vocabulary and her artistic eye helped with layouts for the magazine.

“Yes” Linda said.

“Great” he replied. “Grab a legal pad and a pen.”

“Why?” she asked?

He waited while she retrieved a yellow legal pad and a pen. They now faced each other and he made an attempt to look quite seriously at her. “Let’s have fun and play a game.” he said.

“Another game?” she asked. Linda knew her review had already been prepared and was ready for submission to H.R. After all, she had proof-read it herself before typing it up. She liked the games though that he suggested almost daily. She had fun and that was something that was happening at home less and less.

“OK” he said. ” I have been wondering how many phrases we can come up with that describe being inebriated.”

“What the heck?” she said. This was odd, but Neil was odd . “OK,” she replied “Games on.” And at that moment they both twisted their chairs back to face their desks and they began the assignment. Neil set a timer to give them a full 3 minutes each.

The timer made a small ding. “OK, he said, time to read our results and whoever thought of the most original phrases will be the clear champion of the day.”

“Stink faced” she said. He did the quiet laugh while making a face that caused her to laugh too.

“Three sheets to the wind” he retorted quickly while trying to look extremely serious about the assignment.

“Snockered” she said.

“Tipsy” he said using a dainty voice.

“Blotto” she was proud of that one. What a funny word.

“Drunk” he said.

“You can’t use that. That is too basic.”

“OK, how about this one. “Cheers”

Then, he used his hands to make a halt sign and to stop her from continuing the game. “Well, that was what I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell you Cheers and good work. I am so glad I have such an efficient admin working for me. You make me look good Linda, so Cheers, and thanks!”

She smiled. “Speaking of looking good, should we do some actual work today?”

“Not yet. Let’s go to the lake first.”

The Lake was in fact their name for another office game they had created. Some time ago, Neil’s wife had picked out an oil painting of a lake that he had hung on the back empty wall of their cubicle. The game that Linda and Neil had concocted was to “go to the lake” by facing both of their chairs side by side looking out at the never changing view of the painting. Neil had told her that when they played the game, they should imagine themselves years into the future as old folk, sitting on the front porch of the retirement home. “You have to always pretend to be old” he said. “That part is important.”

“Nice day” Linda said with a little feeble voice while staring out over the serene painting.

“Yep” he said. “But these days, the lake is starting to look the same to me every day.”

“Well, that’s because you missed the flock of geese that just went by.”

“Did they honk?” he asked.

Then they both started the silent laugh,

Neil turned ever so slightly in Linda’s direction. She could tell he was serious now. Then quietly he said, “I’m glad I get to see the lake with you. Maybe we can see a real lake together when we are old and in the same retirement home. What do you think?”

“Maybe” she said. But her heart thought, “I hope so.” Then they were both quiet for several minutes before turning back to their desks.