I think some of these pics could be self-contained short stories, but they need to be longer short stories. My students tend to act shocked when a short story is longer than three pages. “Teacher! It’s too long!” Well, how long can a short story be and still be a short story? I’ve seen different numbers batted around, but it seems that for Story-a-Day, most folks aim for the shorter side.
My students also tell me they like reading only short things. And when they say this, they invariably hold up their fingers in a gesture that illustrates the point. And which I take to mean they only want to read things one paragraph long.
In any event, my stories here aren’t so long. Not yet. Thanks for reading.
For Time Travelers, Witches, and Saints: A Compendium of Lesser Known Time Travelers and Other Terrors.
Seventeen-year-old Natalie Bishop finally decided on sainthood class for her senior elective. Her twin sister, Jen, chose lacemaking because “the tests are easier and I can do the homework while watching TV.” Lacemaking was also easier to get into.
Terminer High School accepted only girls and it was all the rage for families wanting their daughters married or otherwise protected. The school ranked best in the state, and the Bishop girls knew to be thankful for their position. They saw what happened to girls who went to lesser schools.
The first week of class, Natalie learned how to hold her hand over a flame without flinching. “Look what I can do,” she exclaimed to her sister. She’d been the first in her class to master the skill and was still beaming at the teacher’s praise. “You’re a natural saint, my dear,” Mrs. Corwin had said.
Jen watched her sister light the candle on the kitchen table. “Why not just avoid the flame?” she asked. “Like don’t stick your hand in a fire.”
Natalie blew out the match. “You don’t get it.”
“I learned about bobbin lace and two basic stitches.” She took a piece of lacework from her bag. “That’s the honeycomb pattern. Mrs. Osborne said I was a natural.”
Natalie shrugged. “That looks easy. You know, they say anyone can get into lacemaking class.”
Jen was admiring her handiwork. “I’m going to make lace for mum. Something she can wear and the neighbors can see. What do you think? A lace scarf for Christmas maybe?”
“Showing off is a sin. You do remember the punishment for that, don’t you?”
“But I wouldn’t be wearing it, would I?” Jen handled her work like a newborn bird though her face flushed with anger. “And what about look what I can do? That wasn’t showing off?”
“I was sharing!” Natalie snatched the candle from the table splattering hot wax. The flame went out.
Without thinking, Jen jumped forward and wiped the mess up with the lace in her hand. A streak marred the table’s smooth surface. The lacework was twisted, wax sticking the threads together. “Better clean up what’s left,” Jen said. “Before mom sees it.”
Natalie nodded and dashed to the counter to get a paper towel. But she needed to use her fingernail to scrape up the dry wax. “Sorry,” Natalie whispered, keeping her eyes on the flakes of wax.
“It’s nothing.” Jen pitched the lace into the trash. “Let’s just get our homework.” She sat down at the table and took a notebook and several textbooks from her school bag: Physics of Eden, History in Psalms, and A Girl’s Guide to Lacework. Once she had her notebook, her textbooks, and her pens in place, she looked up at her sister, who hadn’t moved. “How much work do you have? I have to write an essay on what the way of the righteous means to me.” She sighed. “I wish I could use the one I wrote last year. After all, it’s not like my ideas have changed. Nattie?”
“I’m in the sainthood class.”
“Yeah. I know.”
Natalie twisted her mouth and focused her attention on the table. No hint of the wax remained and she’d returned the candle to its rightful place. “I don’t have to do any of the other homework.”
“I thought you knew. We’re to put all of her energy into sainthood class,” she said. “And because the tests at the end are so hard, we’re excused from all other assignments.”
Jen’s frown faded. But she didn’t smile. She didn’t speak.
“So, I’ve got to go practice my prayer.”
Jen continued to stare at her, expressionless.
“And you know I’m going to say a prayer for you, right?” Natalie attempted to smile at her sister. Her muscles seemed not to want to do what she asked of them. “I’ll be in the chapel room for a while. I might even miss dinner.” Her voice turned loud and awkward. “Sainthood takes a lot of sacrifice.”
“It’s all right,” Jen said, picking up her pen and opening her lacework guide. “I’m sure you’ll get used to it.”