OPUS 22

Stories by Twenty-Two New Authors

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A Rhapsody of Short Fiction

Ever considered driving a piano? No? How about moving one? Or learning to play? The authors of these twenty-two captivating stories explore these thoughts and more, making us laugh, cry, love, and cringe in equal measure. Characters from the past, present, and future pull us through their lives, loves, crimes, and passions. Join children in their games, adults with their busy lives, families in turmoil, and the elderly with it all behind them. Ranging from heart-wrenching to heart-lifting, peaceful to horrific, this anthology of short fiction reaches across genres with one common theme: the piano. This collection presents an international assembly of carefully selected, emerging authors who entertain, enchant, and enrich the world with their creativity and insight. Consider their tales a taste of more to come from a new generation of talented writers.

The Authors

Akira Fuyuno

Well, he finally did it. Or didn’t. It depends on whom you ask. Born 1963, Akira Fuyuno is the pseudonym of a working doctor living in Japan. His first ambition was to become an inventor; his second was to become a movie director. Instead, he is currently working on an improved drug combination for the treatment of cancer.
Akira’s childhood heroes were Leonardo Da Vinci and Thomas Edison and his interests range from anorexia research to zebrawood carving. He has been writing stories in both English and Japanese since the age of 12; however, this is his first published work of fiction. This piece is based on a Japanese language novel he wrote between the ages 17 and 28 that was never published.
His editor probably thinks he should thank her for putting up with his morose and occasionally acidic sense of humor, but instead he wishes to thank everyone involved in his life during this period. That’s fair. They’ve all had to put up with him too.

Paul Toritto

At the age of 62, Paul is diligently working on a career change; he is transitioning away from a physically active career and becoming a different version of himself. His favorite place to be is in the screen house of his home, along with his beautiful wife Barbara, as they spend a quiet weekend together.
Paul is currently working full time, and attending Camden County College part time in pursuit of an Associate’s Degree in English. His current GPA offers him opportunities in the college’s Honors Society, and the Psi Beta National Honor Society in Psychology. During the induction ceremony to Psi Beta, when asked what his goal is, his response was simple, “become a New York Times best-selling author.”

Vickey Bagg

Vickey has been writing since a young age, and had her first poems published when she was thirteen. She now enjoys writing short stories with a supernatural theme. An unusual dream inspired her current work in progress, which is still in its early stages. She hopes to have it completed in early 2018. Vickey has worked in retail for the last ten years. She is a certified meditation teacher and 2nd degree Reiki healer. When she isn't writing, you can find her on the yoga mat, in the garden, or out walking in nature. She lives in the UK with her Fiancé Matt and their dog Bailey.

Mary Grossett

Mary Grossett has always wanted to write and cannot believe that this anthology is for real. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa with her three favourite humans: her loving husband and two very tall sons, as well as their three darling rescue hounds and some tropical fish. Her everyday job involves the software support field and trying not to swear too much. The latter is more difficult than she likes to admit.
A bit of a strange being, Mary believes in dragons and unicorns, fairies, magick, and that (despite too much evidence to the contrary) it will all be okay in the end—somehow. She likes butterflies and rainbows and adores animals. She writes in different genres and her scribblings include flash fiction, a book-in-the-making, and poetry.

Heather Grossart

Ask anyone what they notice about Heather. It will be two things: she talks a lot and she joins groups. She apparently can't stop either. She loves the fact that she is now working with her best friend, Lee Diogeneia, in their company Melius Scripto Press and are producing this book.
A married mother of one, working full time in a job that allows no escapism, she writes humour and fairies and does her best to spread smiles. She hasn't been published before and plans to make it a habit.
Heather wants all her writer friends to succeed and write the stories that their hearts are telling them.

Michaela Eastman McCoin

Like the farmhouse in her story, Michaela McCoin grew up visiting her family’s farm in Michigan, which was originally founded in 1835. Michaela lives with her family in Northern California on a one-hundred-year-old apple orchard. Precious Things is her very first short story to be published.
Acknowledgements: Without the efforts of L.D. and H.G. you would not be reading this story. I am completely grateful for their time and their kindness.
And always, for Tom.

Elaine Manning

Hailing from the rough streets of Paisley in Scotland, Elaine Manning grew up within the bosom of Irish Catholic arms. For years, she struggled to read and write—known in the 70’s as ‘thick as mince’ and today as dyslexic. She wouldn’t trade it for the world; it’s made her a fighter. After earning a degree from Glasgow University and a post graduate degree from West of Scotland University, she headed to the bright lights of London where she soon became a radio DJ, writing and performing her own show—which was thoroughly awful.
Love came along and she soon found herself married with children and headed back to the sunny streets of Paisley to raise them.
Elaine has worked as a Project Manager for fifteen years and is pretty good at it. After years of putting other priorities before her own, she is now on the me-train and writing for herself. A few years back she did a speculative play that won her an emerging playwright award. Spurred on by this success she continues to write in the vain hope that someone will read her work.

Wayne Meyers

Wayne discovered his love for writing at ten years old when he wrote a story about the flowers from his bed sheets coming to life. With a voracious appetite for science-fiction and fantasy, it was only natural he turned his pen toward these genres, creating bold new worlds filled with exciting, interesting characters doing incredible things.
In addition to reading and writing science fiction and fantasy, Wayne enjoys spending time with his family, walking, helping aspiring authors, and volunteering in his community. His latest favorite TV show is Zoo, and if you play one of the Marvel Universe movies, there’s a good chance he’ll stop what he’s doing to watch.
A Brooklyn native, Wayne currently lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with his family and four cats, realizing his dreams one story at a time. He’d love to hear from you at https://WayneMeyers.com, where you can find his social media links and sign up for his mailing list. His next story is just around the corner!

S. C. Jensen

S.C. Jensen is a Canadian writer and science fiction enthusiast. Right now, she’s probably holed up somewhere to escape mosquitos or frostbite. When she’s not hiding from the elements, Jensen can be found creeping around used book stores, pretending to know how to use her digital camera, and experimenting with how much caffeine she can ingest without causing cardiac arrest.
Her first novel The Timekeepers War (Bedlam Press, 2014) is available through most online retailers. She’s currently working on its sequel, The Children of Bathora. If you’d like to follow what S.C. Jensen is reading, writing, and musing on, you can find her at www.scjensen.com

MaFer Glez

MaFer Glez is a student and hobbyist writer, and this is her first publication. She likes yellow highlighters, bullet journaling, and horror movies. She probably wrote this instead of studying for a test.
She lives in Celaya, Guanajuato (Mexico), with her parents, her sister, and her mom’s dog. She was dissuaded from her childhood dream of being a witch only by the idea of becoming a filmmaker, which she hopes to study within the next few years.

P. J. Mayhair

P. J. Mayhair has been writing fiction since elementary school. He enjoys fantasy, science fiction, and above all, horror. He believes that the light and dark side of the human experience are what give it substance and depth. He enjoys writing novels, short stories, scripts, and has even worked with film and claymation.
P. J. Mayhair lives with his wife, son, and two dogs in Southern Maryland. When he's not writing, he enjoys bonfires, playing dinosaurs with his son, creating terrible drawings, and trying to find some way to create a Jellybean whiskey.

Michelle Freson

Michelle Freson is a writer, painter and a mother of teenage boys whom she describes as ‘my favourite people’ when anyone else is within earshot. She can be found either at her laptop or with her nose in a book and woe betide the brave soul who interrupts her reading.
Michelle has had many jobs, including estate agent, tiger fluffer and events’ co-ordinator. She maintains that setting up a wedding in the bush for three hundred guests is great fun, as long as you don’t get shouted at by the father of the bride for forgetting the champagne glasses. She never made that mistake again.
Currently living on a very small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean with her sons and three cats, she knows life is a beach and that suntan lotion is crucial.

Misha Pinkhasov

Misha Pinkhasov was born in Moscow, raised in New York and lives in Lisbon by way of Paris. He is a co-author of Real Luxury: How Luxury Brands Can Create Value for the Long Term (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014). His articles about luxury, culture and socially responsible business have appeared in Vogue, Wallpaper, The Huffington Post blogs and others.
“Sight-reading” is Misha’s fiction debut. The title references a line by Vladimir Nabokov: “It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”
Nabokov wrote these words while on faculty at Cornell University. There, by dint of their similar histories, he might have crossed paths with one Esther Gilodo, a pianist, who inspired this story. Whether the two actually met, however, is anyone’s guess.
Misha’s next project is a novel about the psychology of luxury.

Lee Diogeneia

Writer, editor, and vampire advocate.
That’s my tag. Since much of reality is subjective, let’s not argue about what’s fiction. Deal? Deal.
I’ve been a writer and editor in various industries for thirty years, but my first love has always been storytelling. Stories are how I make sense of the world and my experiences in it. You should try it sometime. Stories are cathartic—therapeutic.
I have Bachelor of Arts degrees in creative writing, communication, and English literature because I didn’t want to pick and because they kept giving me scholarship money to write stuff. Cool, right? That was before the internet, so yeah, a long time ago. Now I write and edit stuff for NASA.
In my free time, I write speculative fiction, study everything writing, and coach writers and editors. I live in Cleveland, Ohio with my family of humans and cats, more books than shelves, and cabinets full of collectible curiosities. My fondest wish is to move to the Isle of Man and establish a writers’ residency there. More specific details regarding my background and projects are available via my website, http://www.diogeneia.com.

Bry Jackson Wood

Bry finds that inspiration comes at the most life-saving moments, like the mind numbing three-hour lectures over your supposed summer break. Despite this however, she holds a bachelor of arts in English and sports studies and a Masters of Teaching (primary).
Bry is the eldest of four and lives in Brisbane, Australia where she has just begun her career as a primary/elementary schoolteacher. In her spare time, she buys books despite her To-Be-Read pile threatening to press charges for neglect. Even so, Bry is proud of the fact that she is, to date, the owner of nine hundred and seventeen books.

Lazarus Gray

Lazarus Gray has been writing stories in one form or another since his childhood in the pre-internet universe. He has written comic books, hundreds of articles, two novels and a teetering stack of short stories and flash-fiction, some of which have been published online and in print.
A former semi-professional musician in the classical, folk and punk fields, Lazarus plays a hand-made classical guitar and sings when all else fails. He has spent much of his professional life designing and creating custom picture frames in Sydney, Australia, where he has also owned art galleries and hosted art shows.
Lazarus is currently working on a series of science-fiction novels and various short stories for anyone who’s game to read them. A range of his other scribblings may be sampled at www.lazarusgray.com

Deacon Gray

Deacon Gray is Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist working for the Army National Guard. From childhood, he was a natural born storyteller, and it’s a habit he just couldn’t put down. These days he can be found listening to audiobooks and writing out those stories, still focused on entertaining and engaging the audience.

I would like to acknowledge Melius Scripto Press for allowing me the privilege of being included in this collection. Also, I would like to thank Heather Grossart, and the whole moderator staff of the Writing Fiction Facebook® Group for repeatedly reading and providing feedback on my story.

Isabelle Yuen

Isabelle Yuen is a Singaporean student who’s currently studying in Perth in hopes of pursuing a degree in Psychology. She enjoys eating (crabs, specifically) and can go to sleep anywhere within three seconds of shutting her eyes which would probably make for a sedentary lifestyle if not for weekly trips to the gym. Isabelle is also a staunch believer in laughing at least 15 minutes a day (burns 50 calories and is extremely good for your health, you should try it sometime). She wishes to someday own a pet snake, but it is quite frankly unlikely.
Joy Ride is her very first publication and while the ride hasn’t been entirely smooth-sailing, it was certainly a joy to be on board.

Shauna Philp

When Shauna Philp was eight, she wanted to be the pink Power Ranger, then a veterinarian, then a cosmetologist, then a pre-school teacher, then a psychologist. After four years of college, Shauna realized she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. That is until writing seized control of her heart and refused to let go. Now, Shauna can be found assisting people with their finances—until she can return home and escape to a magical world where she can explore all the things she wants to be without racking up more student loans. Follow more of Shauna’s work at www.shaunaphilp.com

Eric Wheeler

Eric has been writing for his entire life, though quite a lot of his very early work was derivative of things like “The Alphabet Song” that he was taught in school.
He’s been both blessed and cursed with a severe case of wanderlust, which has often resulted in him finding himself in all kinds of weird and wonderful situations; from trekking the Great Wall of China to shoveling cow poop on a German farm, from diving the Great Barrier Reef to being trapped overnight in a British airport, from swimming an iceberg river in Iceland to losing his shirt in a shell game, and from rafting down the Grand Canyon to cleaning up after drunken idiots in an Irish Pub.
The greatest adventure of them all began with meeting a lovely little redhead on a train to Prague, and offering her a piece of chewing gum. They are now married with two incredible children and living in Germany, where he’s digging through is backpack full of notes and ideas frantically scribbled on bar napkins, trying to make enough sense of them to turn them into stories of their own.

Clint Davis

Clint Davis is a former paramedic and has been in the EMS field for 21 years. He started writing stories as a sophomore in high school, but kept them to himself. He took several classes on how to write fiction over the years, thinking one day he might be able to get good at it. He keeps learning with each new story and wants to share what he has to offer with anyone who wants to read. As far as he knows, he’s the last living relative of the family he grew up knowing. He’s been married and divorced three times and now lives alone with his thoughts. He has seen some of the worst things people can do and still has hope. He’s also seen the best people can offer, yet feels like humanity is devolving. He doesn’t like to talk much, but loves to tell stories. He believes in love but never wants to marry again. Basically, he’s complicated.

Janel Comeau

Janel Comeau is a struggling writer, broke student, and mediocre podcaster from Edmonton, Canada. After graduating from the University of Alberta with a B.A., honours in psychology in 2015, she spent two years working as a mental health worker for Edmonton's homeless youth—a job that was much less glamorous than ``Step Up 2`` led her to believe. She was accepted to Teachers College at Columbia University in the City of New York in 2017, likely due to a clerical error, and is currently studying for a Master's degree in clinical forensic psychology.
Janel currently resides in a closet-sized bedroom in East Harlem, New York City. She spends her free time wandering Manhattan, getting lost on the subway, and buying coffee she cannot afford. Her fiction has appeared in Jenny Magazine, and her non-fiction has appeared on Cracked.com. She can be more thoroughly stalked via her personal website, at www.janelcomeau.ca.

Excerpts from the Book

“We cannot see our memories anymore because there are too many buildings standing in the way.”

Akira FuyunoChocolate Soup

“Sometimes, to take our minds off our bellies and our worries, Mother would sit with us once we were all snugged up in our beds, smelling of baths. She crafted many wild stories, but our favorite tales were always the ones about her and Father.”

Michaela Eastman McCoinPrecious Things

“The piano watched from its corner, its black mass swooping into itself under mountains of yellowing sheet music crumbling across its lid. Our shadows sat at the keys, mind on the bench, legs to short to reach the pedals.”

Misha PinkhasovSight-Reading

“When I was younger, Dad was into explosives. He tried to demonstrate the wonders of his contraptions by offering to drop me off at school in a neon orange rocket ship.”

Isabelle YuenJoy Ride

“Father John started playing a song I didn't recognize. It was about believing without understanding. His angelic voiceoverwhelmed me and I fled fron the building in fear of the recurring vision.”

Paul TorittovFather John

“That’s how the government prevented crime. They baselined your patterns, and if your pattern changed, they paid attention.

Wayne MeyersSonnet of the New Dawn

“He imagined that she craved the moments as much as he, though they were silent except for the dulcet sounds of the piano that was slave to his touch. He wanted more of her; just something more tangible and less like the wind.”

Lee DiogeneiaThe Pianist

“Each note sent tiny dancers bouncing off every surface. The residents watched him, hanging onto each keystroke as if they were being told a story and were eager to hear the end.”

Shauna PhilpThe Pianoman

“Mark didn’t approve of overweight women and it was the one hobby he encouraged. He claimed I was calm since taking up yoga. He had no idea why.”

Michelle FresonThe Final Supper

“It had been her only source of happiness and after the last few years of misery, she wanted it back, wanted to feel the pedals beneath her feet and hear the music as her hands moved up and down the keys.”

Vickey BaggThe Piano at No.64

“There are no pianos in our future. The thing upstairs will be used for kindling, and it won't be missed.”

S. C. JensenCrosses

“It smelled like him. Oils, varnish, peppermint and a hint of tobacco smoke. I half expected him to appear around the corner, old-fashioned candelabra in hand a a sympathetic smile on his face.

Bry Jackson WoodGrandpa's Gift

“They used to say, "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger." I don’t believe that anymore. I think that sometimes those people don't get to lie down when their time is up.”

Eric WheelerThe Here and the Now

“Casey missed Mommy's stories. It had been weeks since Mommy and Casey had shared story tine. She missed the stories, but she missed the cuddles most of all.

Mary GrossettKinrose Manor

“After he'd been quiet for a moment, I turned to see him staring at the empty wall before him, where our family pictures used to hang. It was the only thing that had changed about the music room since my childhood.

MaFer GlezUntuned

“I am no more tolerant to pain than my colleagues. I simply know better than to complain. The procedure is mandatory--orders from high above.

Lazarus GrayThe End of Love

“The stench of gunpowder and blood made his gut churn and the double blast of six-shooters had his ears ringing as he staggered towards the swinging door.

Clint DavisPlay the Music

“He knew he should give himself a talking to. He wanted to tell himself that he was here for his family, not himself; he wanted to shake the selfishness from his bones.

Elaine ManningClosure Masterpiece

“Decades of abandonment had faded the once deep red door. The key stuck but the lock gave way and the door opened. The smoke, the sage--it was all there. Even the biting smell of metal.

P. J. MayhairOne Last Play

“The room was tiny, a booth really but the smoke-stained walls reeked of stale cigarettes and something a little more acidic that she couldn't place. Burning hair?

Deacon GrayReqium For a Liar

“Jessamine was not the sort of person who excelled at navigation. In an ordinary week, she could be expected to get lost in her neighborhood, at her school, at the local shopping mall and, when it was especially dark outside, in her own home.

Janel ComeauParenting in the Key of B-Flat

“Flash started to push and it moved with ease on its wheels. Colin screeched as the piano his some unspecified area of his body, which jiggled as he jumped around.

Heather GrossartHigh-Rise Hopes

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