Author Archives: jkostakis

About jkostakis

Author of Paranormal Detective Mystery series and inspirational books.

Anonymous gifts start arriving at the doorstep

This week’s short story:

Topic: Anonymous gifts start arriving at the doorstep

You must include the following in your story: Teenager, screen door, camouflage wrinkle, birch, dive, harmony, pick-up, rifle, sticker

I opened the screen door to grab the morning paper. The neighbors 15-year-old was playing Army with his younger brother Sam who was in full camouflage hiding behind my birch tree. Sam propped his rifle  tight against his shoulder and aimed it directly at his brother’s head.

It was sweet of Tommy to be playing with his younger brother. At his age, I figured he would be practicing pick-up lines on some cute teenager.

I sat on the porch swing to watch them, and my foot kicked a small box. This was the third one this week. The other two were centered right in front of the door. I almost missed this one. Valentine’s Day was a few days away. I felt foolish thinking anyone would be crushing on me. I touched the wrinkle’s on my face and sighed. My heart took a dive. Someone was playing a trick on me.

After my husband died a few years ago, I kept to myself. I had not entertained the idea of dating again until the gifts started arriving. Each box had a “be my valentine” sticker on the package. This one had a cute kitten cuddling a box of chocolates and a card that said Always and Forever from your …  the rest of the card had images cut out from a magazine. It looked like a puzzle. The first image was a child the second was an image of a neighborhood then a piece of candy and the last picture was similar to the front of the card, a kitten holding a heart-shaped box of candy.

Child+hood+sweet+heart.  My childhood sweetheart? I sat up straight and looked around. Was Paul back in town after all these years? I could feel my heart beating against my chest.

“Paul?” I yelled.

Paul stepped out from behind a large oak tree holding a bouquet of flowers. His eyes sparkled, and his smile was just as dazzling. I miss my husband every day, but Paul and I had this fantastic harmony. I dropped the box and ran towards him. I was ready to love again.

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A good reason to be afraid of the dark.

This week’s short story topic: A Good Reason to Be afraid of the Dark

Include:

  • Killer whale
  • Depraved
  • Janitor
  • Bargain
  • Dye
  • Fool
  • Heap
  • Kick
  • Praise
  • Quilt

 

I felt like a fool cowered under my quilt like a scared five-year-old. Only I wasn’t five anymore; I was thirty-five. There was no bargain with mom to leave the lights on; no canned response from mom praising me at what a big girl I was and that I didn’t need the night light.

I took a deep breath. Mom was right, there was no need to check for monsters under the bed, I was tired, and my imagination was on overdrive. A dim light filled the room from the street lamp across the street. The objects in my room took on an eerie shape.  The heap of laundry looked like a baby killer whale; my white t-shirts formed the white underbelly of the Orca. The white pants I dyed black due to a ketchup stain formed the top of the Orca.  Then I heard it again, the heavy breathing from underneath the bed. I kicked off the covers and ran out of the house. I raced over to my neighbor’s house and pounded on the door.

“Someone is in my house, let me in,” I screamed.

She opened the door, pulled me in, and locked the door.

“We need to call the police,” she said. Her eyes were wide with fear.

“I heard heavy breathing underneath my bed. I’m not sure if I imagined it.”

“We are in danger,” she said, “There is a depraved janitor on the loose and he killed his entire family. It was on the evening news.”

She reached for the phone.

“Do you have a gun?” I asked.

“Upstairs in the nightstand.”

I took the steps two at a time. It turns out I had a good reason to be afraid of the dark after all.

The Life-changing magic of tidying up.

I’m reading this fantastic book called ‘The life-changing magic of tidying up.” I’ve done the annual sweep through the house and donate before, but she has a slightly different approach to letting go. Touch it, and if it doesn’t bring you joy, let it go. I cleaned out my office today, and I have to admit it feels better in there.

My husband and I were talking about the book with friends during a birthday dinner and the subject of birthday gifts and Christmas gifts came up with a sigh that it will just pile more stuff into the home that we are trying to minimize.

My husband and I decided from now on our gifts to each other would be towards making memories and not acquiring stuff. We agreed to gift each other a snow-shoe tour for Christmas at Mt. Hood. I’m so excited. We did this last year in Bend, Oregon and it was so beautiful.

I started thinking of all the times my in-laws and sister call and asked: “what is on the list for gifts this year?” This year I want to build a go-fund-me site for the family to add to instead of gifts. The site will be used for vacations. What do you think? I haven’t brought it up. Do you think this would be disappointing for them? How do you feel about it? Should I just say, visa card to be used on vacations?

Let me know what you think!

Time Travel Short Story

I’m behind on my short story! Last week’s story had to be about Time Travel and it had to include the following:

hurricane, email, launder, pastry, garlic, staff, germs, gallery, brace, share
Nora took a large bite of her favorite beef and garlic stuffed pastry. She wanted to share it with her husband, but it was too delicious. Nora took another bite, and a chunk of beef fell on her white blouse. Dang it, she wanted to wear it to the movies tonight and didn’t have time to launder the shirt. She threw a vest over it and had hoped the trapped stain would breed any germs before she got home.

Nora was checking her email to confirm which theater she agreed to meet her staff when the weather alarm sounded. She braced herself in the doorway, but it was too late. The hurricane tore through the house lifting her with such a force it tore a hole in the quantum field. She landed in a Salvador Dali art gallery. At first, she thought she had fallen in a museum until she saw a sign announcing Salvador Dali would be donating his 1933 Atmospheric Chair painting for a charity ball to be held December 10, 1934. She not only traveled through time, but she also landed in another country.

Nora looked up and saw a smoky haze around Salvador Dali’s painting ‘figure at a window.’ She had heard pictures can be openings to other dimensions, but never believed it. She had the same art at home, a print of course. The window in the painting had a shimmery light that was not part of the picture. She reached out to touch the painting, and her hand went through the window as if it were open. She placed a chair underneath the canvas and climbed through the window. She landed in front of her house, or what used to be her house. It was a pile of rubble. Her trip through the vortex had spared her life.

Streaming Sarah Kindle Deal

Link to Kindle Countdown .99!  

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Streaming Sarah, I’ve got a countdown deal going. Always free for Kindle unlimited and this week a countdown deal. Grab your copy for 99 cents.

Doppelgänger teaches Detective to stream the dead.  It’s like “Ghost Whisperer” meets “Fringe.”

In 2035 Portland, Oregon, a Homicide Detective awakens from a coma with the ability to see into parallel worlds. A Doppelgänger teaches her to stream the soul and memories of her Department’s murder victims to bring their killers to justice.

A Mid-li​fe career change

This might be the shortest short story ever!

Include the following in your story: chef* upgrade* monkey* turkey* fashion *team* harden* noon* elevator * baste

I took the turkey out of the refrigerator to make sandwiches for Julie. I wiped off a bit of gel that had hardened around the leg and pulled the meat from the bone and placed it between two slices of bread with a bit of mayo. I tucked it into her Monkey lunchbox.

I folded my ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron and placed it in the kitchen drawer. It wasn’t the best fashion statement, but it made me laugh. I was smiling from ear to ear. At noon, I would be taking the elevator to the top of the space needle. Yes, today is the day I’m going to upgrade my kitchen apron for an apprentice hat. I will be joining the Chef Andrea’s team at the Sky City Restaurant. Now the next Turkey I baste will come with a paycheck. Life couldn’t be better.

Sometimes good is good enough.

I saw a quote on my calendar today, and I have to disagree respectfully. I get where the person is going, but I let go of some of my perfectionism over the years, and it has freed up my task list tremendously. The quote… If better is possible, good is not enough. – unknown-

Sometimes good is good enough. I learned this with my tasks and tasks I delegate.
There is a significant step in delegating that I think most people miss. This applies especially to the perfectionist. When you assign, it should be the same as bringing it down, tying a pretty bow on it, and crossing it off the list. Give it away 100%. When I first delegated, I would keep ownership. I was a hovercraft. I watched over the person I gave it to, making sure they did it right (also known as assuring they did it my way, which was the perfect way, I thought).
I would take the completed task, examine it for perfection, make tweaks, or end up redoing it because the result wasn’t what I had in mind. Dear God, delegating was killing me. It added steps and time to getting ‘er done. Whose brilliant idea was it to delegate?
I was missing a crucial component. Assign to someone and release. Trust the person you gave it to and don’t be a backseat driver. There are plenty of things on your list that has you at the wheel. Everyone grows and learns when he or she empowered to own a task from start to finish. Let it go, shake off the need to have something perfect, and trust it is getting done. In the beginning, it will be hard. Resist the desire to redo the dishes after your teenager washes them. They may not be as scrubbed as you like but will you die of dysentery if the plates can’t be used as surgical instruments?
Pick your times when good is good enough. If I’m creating a report or document for Senior Leadership or a customer facing document, better is the goal. But most days, good works. I’ve also learned that if I haven’t finished everything on my list at the end of the day, I’ve still done enough. There is always tomorrow!