My Stories and Poems · Uncategorized

The Book of Knells

Knell: A bell toll, usually for death or a funeral; a lament; signaling the end of something.

I thought, why not create a play on words associated with the Book of Kells? This could easily be developed into something longer. Maybe one day…*adds to list of projects*


They fear the gruesome spectre

should she appear nearby;

a book within her withered hand,

the sight will raise a cry.

What most don’t know when she appears,

she comes to take, not spread;

the fears she gathers in this book

are things that all men dread.



copyright Stephanie Ascough


My Stories and Poems

In the Garden of the World


I hear your footsteps best

in a forest,

a garden,

a quiet park.

I found one today.

My shoes were not meant for this surprise.

Dirt and gravel

got into them,

so I took them off,

the earth reminding me

that hope is not tidy

but gritty.

It gets stuck

between toes

and scratches soles

as I walk in

the garden of the world

listening for footsteps.

And when I hear them,

those footsteps,

I realize they were there all along

and that hope-

I could brush it off,

be tidy,



I could kneel

next to the Gardener

and be surprised.

For maybe you have ceased your footsteps after all

to tenderly talk to plants

to hold the earth in your hands.

Come, you say, beckoning with dirt-lined fingers,

come be surprised.

My Stories and Poems

A Triumph

I loved the Anne of Green Gables series, but was saddened/disappointed with Anne’s lack of writing opportunities later in life, though hardly surprised by it. Even given the limited writing and publishing opportunities for women of that era, I couldn’t let Anne’s ambition and skill come to nothing. This fanfic for her and for everyone who wanted more for our favorite redhead. And for me, because it gives me a chance to indulge in the purple prose popular in Montgomery’s day. The characters are from the later books in the series, but I borrowed some things from the original movies. 🙂 

Anne was tending her summer garden that day when Miss Cornelia marched down the lane. Dainty white and pink blooms floated in a sea of green that swam around the burnished bronze of her hair. The sun’s new warmth released a heady fragrance that seemed to hang about Anne’s head like a wreath. She filled her lungs with glory, kneeling in the dirt like a pilgrim who has at last reached her destination. By the time Anne looked up and and saw her friend, Miss Cornelia was quite close, and the good lady nearly gasped at the sight of Anne’s flashing green eyes.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she was a girl of fifteen again,” Miss Cornelia said to herself. Indeed, if she had guessed half the reason for Anne’s happiness, she might have thought her declaration to be true.

“Good morning, Miss Cornelia!” Anne flew to unlatch the gate. “Join me on the porch won’t you? It’s too glorious a June day to be indoors.” Miss Cornelia assented with unusual silence and the two women settled themselves on the wicker chairs.

“Thank you, Susan dear,” said Anne as that industrious person laid a tray of sumptuous dainties before them.

“You’re welcome, of course, Mrs. Doctor dear. Miss Cornelia.” Susan nodded to their guest with a bit less warmth than to Anne, for it was a well known fact that she and Miss Cornelia did not wholly approve of each other. Miss Cornelia nodded stiffly in reply. Then, when Susan had gone, she descended in to what Anne had been waiting for: town gossip.

“Well, my dear, you’ll never guess the to-do,” she began. “The whole village is talking of it. A story of the most romantic nature has been published, by an anonymous local, no less, and everyone of us is dying to know who could have spun such a yarn.” Anne smiled into her tea.

“How interesting,” she said. “Do you know what it is about? Not that, for a moment, I would assume that you had read such a thing.” Miss Cornelia pursed her lips and her cheeks reddened. Anne failed to check her laughter. Miss Cornelia attempted to maintain innocence.

“I hear…from others, of course…it is a romance of a most unusual nature…a heroine who refuses her true love at first, and both of them have the most outrageous mishaps. Why, she nearly drowns, and he nearly dies of illness! Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

“I may have,” replied Anne.

“Not that,” Miss Cornelia continued, “It is written without skill. In fact, some who read it say they have rarely found a story so well constructed as this. A frivolous romance, without the ridiculousness. I dare say I don’t know how that can be, but that’s not my word, but theirs.”

“And has anyone guessed who the author might be?” Anne asked. Miss Cornelia frowned.

“That’s the trouble. There are no guesses that make sense. Oh, some people have guessed that Miss Clearwater might have done it, but she’s lived here for ten years. I’ve read one of her books and I can tell you my dear, she doesn’t have it in her. It’s a puzzle, a real puzzle.”

Anne silently pondered as she listened. She was just about to say something when her guest rose from her seat.

“Well, I must be going, Mrs. Blythe,” she announced. “I am sorry for such a short visit, but I have urgent errands in town. I just couldn’t let another day pass without telling you the news.” With that, Miss Cornelia bustled down the lane and out the gate, leaving Anne surprised at the abrupt departure.

“Perhaps next time, my dear friend,” she said.

Late that night the doctor returned. The house was still, but Anne had waited up. As she approached the study she heard a soft chuckle. Dr. Blythe stood at his desk, his back to the door, the local newspaper in his hand. Anne smiled.

“Now what is a story like this doing in our local paper?” The doctor spoke but did not turn around. “It must be the work of a strange out-of-towner, perhaps by the name of… Cordelia. Or is it Elaine?” He turned then, and his eyes had that impish gleam that reminded Anne of a dark haired boy in a country school from years ago.

“Surely you would not read such frivolousness,” Anne said. “ I seem to recall you saying once that such rubbish was-what was it? Mumbo jumbo?”

Dr. Blythe chuckled again. “Ah. Well. I think perhaps I, and the person who wrote this, have greatly improved in wisdom and understanding since those words were spoken. However,” he added. “There is one thing of vital romance that is missing from this story.”

Anne arched an eyebrow. “Oh? And what is that, in your esteemed estimation, doctor?”

“Why my dear, spirited girl.” Dr. Blythe swooped Anne into his arms, eliciting a shriek from his unsuspecting wife. (“Susan is sure to complain about this tomorrow” was the general thought, quickly dismissed.) “There is absolutely no mention of a slate breaking upon the hero’s skull at all.” Anne, laughing, freed herself and faced her husband with mirth and mischief in her eyes.

“Oh Gilbert,” she laughed. “Any author knows that you cannot fit an entire novel’s worth of material into a single short story!”

My Stories and Poems

A Funny Story and… a Story

 Microcosms is a weekly flash fiction contest of sorts that provides writers with a character, setting, and a genre. Participants must complete a story using the prompts in 300 words or less. I was so excited to have the chance to jump on board last week. Well…despite having read the submission rules, I missed the deadline: it runs for 24 hours every Friday, NOT Friday to Friday! And this I discovered after I posted my story on the website a full three days late. Ha!

It seemed to fly under the radar…so, I thought I’d post it here. And remember, when you’re about to submit a piece- read and reread the guidelines!

The prompts for this one were: Setting: Transylvanian castle. Genre: Memoir. Character: Father. My word count: 287

Letters Past

Rain lashed Cynthia as her aching legs climbed. How appropriate that Transylvania, her father’s home, would be just as dramatic as she remembered him. What little she did remember of him, that is.

“Dear Cynthia, I do not know if we will meet in time, but if you are reading this, then you did not ignore my first letter.”

Ahead, the guide gestured towards the distance. Cynthia saw a castle rising in the gloom like a grim giant. One window flickered orange. Cynthia’s heart dropped to her feet.

“The sickness has taken me at last. I can no longer escape it, and there is therefore no hope for our reconciliation.”

The guide, muffled from head to toe, dropped Cynthia’s bag at the huge, ornately carved doors and left without a word. Cynthia shivered from the cold and because she knew what was inside. Or did she?

“Not that there ever was. I make no efforts to rebuff the lies your mother undoubtedly told you about me. It is not entirely her fault that she believed them.”

Her fingers shook as she pulled the large key from her soaking wet pocket and jammed it into the lock. Above her, the gargoyle’s hideous face split in two as the heavy doors swung inward with a groan.

“Instead I invite you to read this book. Having travelled this far, I do not believe you would now ignore your curiosity.”

The cold air inside smelled of death and something metallic. Cynthia mounted the dark, sweeping staircase before her.

“If you have made it this far, know that I am grateful.”

Behind the door Cynthia opened, a pale man had collapsed at his desk, a letter and a book splattered with ink.

My Stories and Poems

An Autumnal Tanka 

Sweet October day

Lengthen beguiling beauty

In your flaming leaves.

Your enchantment flees too soon.

Linger in the gift of time.


This tanka is for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai‘s Linkup. The prompt was to create (or distill) a tanka or haiku based on Robert Frost’s poem October. What fun! I’d forgotten what a Tanka is, so this was a delightful new exercise. I enjoyed finding other bloggers through the Linkup too. If you enjoy Japanese poetry or want to try your hand at one form or another, I highly recommend Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. And yes…this is one of the same pictures I’ve recycled from two years ago. Fall foliage is somewhat hard to come by here, but my pictures are in good supply!

My Stories and Poems

Stair Steps

Charlie always found strange unnoticed things, and that day they found him. The tour guide’s voice droned on as tourists snapped pictures of the crumbling ruins that reached toward the sky like skeletal fingers. Charlie saw the worn steps leading nowhere. The words on the signpost had long disappeared. Maybe they were never there to begin with. It was the laughter that caught his attention, laughter that fluttered beyond the steps. The stones were cold and crackling with mystery beneath his feet. Charlie didn’t mean to disappear, but he did. The group heard the tour guide say, “Be careful around here. Folks who don’t stick to the path get lost.”

stair steps

Photo by J. S. Brand

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, week of July 18th.

My Stories and Poems


Amelia looked in the mirror and moaned. Unlike the flawless model on the box of hair dye, her hair was not a vibrant red. It was a dull, sort of blonde. It was decidedly brassy.

She’d followed the directions! Why did her hair insist on defying her dearest wishes? Her mother would be furious, no doubt. And how could she bear more teasing from classmates? Why on earth had she bragged to everyone about dying her hair?

Amelia flopped down on her bed. A book on her nightstand caught her eye. She picked it up and flipped through it. After half an hour, a smile appeared on her face.

There’s something about finding your heroine in a similar predicament. Amelia’s hair wasn’t red, but it wasn’t green, either. She left her bedroom without a trace of remorse.

This was for The Daily Post‘s daily prompt some time ago. I didn’t finish it in time, so I thought I’d share it here.  




My Stories and Poems

Fridays with Flora Felda 8

Read all Fridays with Flora Felda here

July 9th, 2017

Well, dear reader, when last I wrote, Lily, James and I had been swept out of the Abyss towards what destiny we knew not. Even the Charm of Charmaine faded from our thoughts. We knew where clothes went-and how few Pollys ever returned from that fate.

“Help!” yelled James. To my horror, I saw him slipping down a sock. Lily screamed as we both lunged after him. Then the wind was in my ears (yes, I have ears) for what felt like hours until-thud-we hit the hard, cold floor.

“What’s this?” The Authoress’s voice rang above us. “Oh, I’ve told them to put my PollyPockets back…” In a second, she had scooped us up. We heard the familiar scrape of our drawer opening. Suddenly we were back with our friends. As the drawer shut, Lily, James, and I were surrounded and peppered with questions.

“One at a time!” I said. “We’ve just been to the Abyss and back. My head is spinning!”

“Did you find it?” someone asked. “Did you find the Charm of Charmaine?” Silence followed.

“I’m afraid,” said James, “It was lost.” He hung his head.

“It was a valiant effort,” sniffed Lily. “What an adventure we had.” That was when I froze.

“Look!” I gasped. “The Charm! It’s in my pocket!” Cheers and gasps erupted in our drawer as we all peered at the object. Lily, James and I hugged. It hadn’t been in vain after all!

“Now the question is,” said James,”does it work?” Sunlight spilled through the crack in the drawer above us. I grinned.

“Only one way to find out.”

These days I’ve overheard the Authoress and her daughter talking about a funny dream they sometimes have. In this dream, they hear the sound of music from some tiny corner of the house. It’s a different corner every time, but it’s the same music. They have this discussion when they are arranging us and our houses on the table. One day the daughter looked into my face.

“Maybe it’s not a dream,” she said. “Maybe they really do it, Mommy.”

“Well,” said the Authoress. “I suppose so. Who knows what happens after dark?”

Dear reader, I have never been so happy to be without a face, because I was laughing so hard when they said that, one look would have given it away!

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a batch of dandelion tea to prepare for tonight. Farewell!