Ten Tales of People Dear

By Alex Carrick

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In this fourth volume of his “Ten Tales” series, Alex Carrick offers 10 exceptional tales of family, friends and the people we hold most dear. This mini-anthology is certain to delight, with insights into the core relationships readers will relate to.

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Chapter titles include: (1) The Size of the Skip; (2) Why’d You Leave Me in the Lurch?; (3) The Mechanized Sorting Day of the Dead; (4) Lenny and Keith Flounder in the Shallow End; (5) In Memoriam, Life Magnifico; (6) The Lord’s Rogue Locomotive; (7) The ‘Oh I Wish I’d Been There’ Club; (8) A Dystopian View on Being Ripe; (9) Copycat Commute Concerto; (10) Undeterred She Forged Ahead

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Mr. Carrick is a critically-acclaimed author whose story “The Size of the Skip” – found in “Three Scoops” Is A Blast! – was short-listed for the 2010 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Award. In 2011, he received another Honorable Mention in the world-renowned Hemingway competition for “Caboose Follies”, which appears in “Four Scoops” Is Over The Top.

Excerpt

The Size of the Skip

**Honorable Mention ~ Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition**

The man, his son and his daughter had a routine when they went for a bike ride. Taking point position would be the son, about to turn age 12, on a medium-sized bike. In the middle would be the daughter, just short of 8 years old, on a small but not too small bike. Bringing up the rear and keeping an eye on the whole convoy, the 50-something man was on the biggest bicycle of the three.

They would ride in tandem down the street that ran past their cottage and up and down the undulating hills that made their community such a pretty place in which to live. White pine, spruce and cedar mainly hid the oak and maple that came to the fore in the fall when the leaves changed color. Multi-hued and variously-sided cottages were set back on sandy soil.

There was one biggish hill they liked to pretend was a monster. They called it San Garganza for no particular reason, except it sounded like the kind of place where the souls of dead bikers might have made their heads-over-heels exits. It was fun to pretend they were scared by the place. The pot-holes on that particular stretch of pavement were a bit of a safety hazard.

Most often, the rides were pure enjoyment with not much to upset the pleasure of the experience. There were a few cars and trucks that would drive past and sometimes annoyance was expressed when it was obvious someone was driving too fast through what was basically a residential community with quite a few kids. All in all, the man knew his children would remember these rides with fondness when they grew up and had families of their own.

It was the spring of the year and the three of them were particularly glad to be out for their first ride. Winter in the city had been medium harsh, with an average amount of snowfall. The father had been working quite hard and while he had not by any means ignored the children, it was easy to underestimate how much they’d grown up.

Leaving their wife and mother behind to attend to some womanly matters, and because she needed time to herself every now and then, the outbound ride from the cottage was uneventful. Including the plummet down San Garganza hill, the journey took twenty minutes to reach the local playground with a swing, slides and other contraptions such as monkey bars at different heights. They each took their turns doing silly things, including the man, although he did also rest on a bench for a while. After half an hour they were ready to head home again.

Something about the moment quietly overwhelmed the man. Perhaps it was the perfection. Not purely perfect but as close to perfect as anything was going to be in this life. Here he was on a beautiful spring day with two of his three children and they were all feeling young and coltish.

With age, the man had come to realize that, at its core, the nature of time is illusory. The body is merely a shell to the mind. Memories are skipping stones with their immediacy undimmed by the size of the skip. It had been only a hand wave ago when each of the children was a baby and needed a good deal more attention than they truly required now.