I always dreamed of writing short stories like the Russian stories I fell in love with in high school senior English class. Unfortunately, my idea of a good short story is not what is being published now, so this is the best way for me to share my “shorts.” I had fun writing them, and I hope you enjoy reading them.


Third in line, Gloria waited on the elderly shopper two carts in front of her.

“Can you fill out the check for me and then I’ll sign it?” The old man shook a piece of paper at the cashier.

Pulling her lips tight against her teeth as she inhaled, the cashier said, “Sure!” as she pushed the check through a slot in her machine. She handed it back to the man and said, “Just sign here.” Read more


Fingernails screeching down a chalkboard didn’t bother Sidney. In fact, she rather liked that texture. That’s how she thought of sound, as a texture or layering of individual noises. The particular texture of fingernails on a chalkboard was something most people avoided. They claimed it hurt their ears, set their teeth on edge, and gave them cold shivers. But the people who didn’t like chalkboard scratching loved to hear a piano being played. To them it was relaxing, entertaining, even exciting. Read more


The upstairs bathroom “throne” wasn’t the most glorious place to sit, but she loved it. Tucked back behind the wall, it provided a perfect spot to survey the world through the floor to ceiling window just beyond her feet. A white wide-slat shade hung in front of the window, closed against the intense early morning summer sun and prying nighttime eyes, but otherwise open, allowing visual access to the outside without being able to be seen. Read more


“What’s the matter, sweetheart?” Old Art eased himself onto the park bench beside me. Draping an arm across my side of the bench, he drawled, “You look just plain down in the dumps, like you haven’t got a friend in this world. Come on, you can tell Old Art all about it. I won’t tell a soul, cross my heart. No, ma’am, mum’s the word.” He zipped his lips shut. “Now, what’s troubling a pretty girl like you?” Read more


I’m thinking. At least, I’m supposed to be thinking. Ticks and tocks echo around the room as the frowning wall clock marks off every second I waste. Tick, tick, tick, tick, and I do nothing but think of nothing. I yawn and massage my watery eyes with long slow blinks, tick tick, take a huge swallow of tea, tick tock, stretch my torso as I reach my arms toward the ceiling, tock tock, pull off my glasses and then shove them back on – nothing helps. Read more


Blue and red. Cool and hot. Running to and from, toward and away, always running, running, running. Evil versus good? Who knows? Who cares? Just running, always in opposition, always oblivious of everything but the need to keep running. Read more


Martha shook her head and sighed. It was always about Mary. It had always been about Mary, ever since their parents died. Mary had been nine, beautiful, with large dark eyes and wavy, almost black hair that always managed to escape her head covering. But Mary had an uncanny ability to read other people’s emotional needs. Read more


© 2015 Diana Webster, Designer Nathan Henderson

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Open Spaces

I love ceilings – as seen from lying on the floor. Their clean lines and absence of clutter openly invite thinking. When I was teaching, I was the lesson plan queen, staying late on Friday nights into the wee hours, planning every detail for the next week’s lessons. Since I was usually the only one in the building, I had no problem getting out of my desk chair and stretching out on the classroom floor to gaze at the ceiling as I pondered and cogitated the most efficient ways to present the lessons. I really enjoyed those nights; instead of feeling tired, I was energized, happy, and very creative.

Until last Saturday, I didn’t know that there is actually scientific evidence that people will think more creatively and expansively in rooms with high ceilings or in wide open spaces. I happened to catch an interview with Robert Cialdini on a radio broadcast called Tech Nation. Cialdini has written a new book called Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. One of the things he talked about in the interview was how to come up with creative and new approaches to problems you face. He said you should go to a room with a high ceiling, because people are more creative in big, expansive places. The room’s openness and expansiveness help people to think in big, expansive ways. Moira Gunn, the interviewer (who is from San Francisco) said, “Go to the library.” She must have access to an old, high-ceilinged library with lots of space. Cialdini agreed and said, “Or, go outside.” Perhaps this is why so many authors and composers take long walks out of doors; it helps them think more creatively.

This leads me to wonder: So often when we encounter problems with people, we sit down at a table to discuss the issues. Sometimes we pick public places, like a restaurant, so all parties will be less likely to lose control and cause a scene. Or we choose a small intimate space in an effort to stay focused on our mission.

I wonder if perhaps we set ourselves up for failure, or at least less than optimal results in these small spaces. What if we met in a park, or bounced our feelings off each other over a game of tennis? What if we gave ourselves enough room that none of us felt as if the weight of the problems were pressing in on us? Some people, especially those suffering from PTSD, need a solid wall behind them and open space in front of them, with more than one way to escape from their position. I think of the classic school principal or counselor/student conference – a small private room, often filled with the principal or counselor’s memorabilia, and the student sitting across the desk from the adult. How intimidating! (Yes, it used to be the norm to try to intimidate students into submission, but not anymore, thankfully.) What if we gave our students space so they didn’t feel trapped, space where they could run away if they chose, space where they could think their own thoughts without being afraid? And parents – what if we didn’t get in our kids’ faces? What if we got out of the house or car or shopping mall, found a wide open space that had nothing to do with the problem, and dialogued together to create a workable solution?

I wish I’d known this stuff when I got married, when my kids were small, and when I was a teacher. Now that I’m a writer, I think I’m going to work out my writing problems from the perspective of floor to ceiling space.

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