Friday, May 1, 2020

Past Due: Chapter Three, The Past is Present

Today I'm sharing chapter three of our current Progressive Story Project.

This current story is the 9th time a group of writers have come together to create a piece of fiction. This project is part collaboration and part challenge. Each blogger moves the story along with their own voice and in their own way, but in keeping with what has been written before them.

Progressive Story Project. one story written by multiple bloggers | Developed by and presented on | #fiction #MyGraphics

This story, told in 4 chapters is called Past Due. Before you read the segments written by this group of writers, be sure you've read:
Chapter one: Five Days
Chapter two: Jester's Canyon

Above and to the far right of each section you'll find the name of the contributor and a link to their blog. I recommend you visit the sites of all of my talented friends.

Past Due, a Progressive Story Project, one piece of fiction written collaboratively by 10 bloggers. | Graphic designed by and property of, and story presented by | #MyGraphics #Fiction

Past Due
Chapter Three: The Past is Present

Lydia of Cluttered Genius 

The sky was pitch black, and the car was moving quickly. Emily held on to Sue in the back seat of Josh's car while she listened to Eddie. "Go faster, Josh! You've got to get closer to their rear bumper!"

It had just begun to rain, and Amy and Betty's car was swerving every now and again as the other four followed them just too close to be really safe. Sue was laughing, but Emily had a sinking feeling something bad was going to happen. Every few moments, she shared this fear.

"Maybe we should stop, guys," she said. "I think we've made our point." Sue laughed her off and patted her arm.

"There's no making a point with Amy and Betty.  We have to show them that they can't be complete jerks to everyone and get away with it," Sue told her.

"Yeah, Emily," Eddie said impatiently, "Get over yourself. We're just messing around." Emily sighed and held on just a little tighter to Sue, who was still making googly eyes at Josh. Sue had pulled her into this mess. She wasn't a fan of Amy and Betty, but she didn't mean to get in a car and chase them in the dark.

They rounded Jester's Curve, and suddenly Amy's tail lights disappeared. Where had they gone?

"They flew over the edge!" Josh screamed. "They went over the damn cliff!" He pulled the car over quickly, and the four of them got out. The rain was coming down in sheets now, and the four of them huddled together.

"What are we going to do?" Emily screamed. "We have to help them!" Josh moved closer to her and put his arm around her shoulder.

"They're fine, Em." he said. She looked up into his face but not before she saw Sue glaring at her. "I'm sure the brush down there broke their fall," Josh continued.

Suddenly, hands appeared at the edge of the cliff.

Betty pulled herself up over the edge. She was covered in mud, and the right side of her face had a few scratches. Emily and Josh rushed to help her to her feet. "We saw you go over!" Emily said. "I'm so glad you're alright."

"Amy," Betty gasped out. "Amy's still down there. I think she'd dead."

After the cliff edge disintegrated, a wall of rocky mud broke away and fully covered the smashed car, they all leaped back.

Even though they were in shock, they all seemed to agree that there was nothing that could be done, especially considering the fact that the steering wheel broke, and a bent part impaled Amy's chest. According to Betty, she was bleeding profusely. On top of that the landslide must have made it impossible to escape the crushed car.

"This is bad. We can't be associated with it. Our futures would be ruined." Josh bravely said what everybody else was secretly thinking. "Let's make a pact right here and now to never, ever talk about it. We were at the movies, Amy said she had to be home by 10 pm and left on her own. We went for ice cream, and we cruised along the river (which is in the opposite direction), then everybody went home."

They tried to regain some composure, took deep breaths and left with heavy hearts. 

It was pitch dark, and Emily, Betty, Sue Eddie and Josh were too preoccupied to notice he guy who was walking his dog, standing by he coves, a mere 50 yards away.
Dawn of Spatulas on Parade 

Em looked around the room. Pulling from an inner strength that she rarely could find, she said "okay, then why are we here? We all know what happened and we know there is no way (cough) that anyone could survive such a thing. So who thinks this is funny? Josh? Eddie? Who sent the notes?"

Josh looked at her, stunned. "Seriously, Em, you think I sent the notes? You are a piece of work. Miss Goody Goody, how do we know it wasn't you?"

Everyone nodded in agreement. Oh great, now hey were turning against her again, just like in high school. She hung her head and remained silent once more.

When they were all silent, a noise, like a muffled laugh came from somewhere in the house. Looking at each other, Emily had a sinking feeling, jus like the night of the accident. The lights flickered and no one knew how, but there, in the middle of the floor, lay a note. They all stared at it but no one moved. Finally Betty stood and walked over, picking it up and opening it.

She read it aloud as the others turned white. "I know what you did and it is time to pay your dues. Four days left now."

They all sat stunned, scared, and in total shock. HAD Amy lived after all?

Like rats leaving a sinking ship, they all left and went to their homes, jobs and activities. Each one determined to stay silent and also to live past what was now FOUR days. That is, if guilt didn't drive Emily completely insane first.

Emily paced back and forth across the kitchen as she prepared dinner that night. It wasn't until she had burned the sauce and the powerful, pungent smell pulled her back into the now. "Shit," she said as she picked up the smoking skillet and dumped it unceremoniously into the sink.

"Mom! You said a bad word," 8 year-old Meghan said from the kitchen table where she and her brother were doing their homework. "I'm telling daddy," 4 year-old Max said, giggling at the thought of his mom in trouble.

"Well, how about I buy your silence with a pepperoni pizza," she said grabbing her phone. She then realized that her joke wasn't funny, especially after the day she had. "Just kidding Max! But you can still have pizza." She was never going to tell another lie as long as she lived!

She hadn't wanted to tell the first one, but hadn't had the guts to stand up to the crowd back then and she didn't have the guts to stand up to them now. She looked around her kitchen and thought "I will do whatever it takes to protect my family including standing up to whoever thought they knew the truth, and the others. 

She should have gone to the police, she repeated for the millionth time since that stormy night. Now that she had children of her own, she realized what was truly at stake. Nothing from back then had any bearing on her life now. Her children shouldn't have to pay for her mistakes.

"Honey? I burned dinner, can you stop and pick up a pepperoni pizza for dinner? I'll call ahead," Emily said when her husband answered his cell phone. 

"You burned something? Martha Stewart herself?" he laughed, "of course." 

"Honey," Emily said, "I love you."

"I love you too," he said. 

She stared at the phone for a long time after they had hung up.

Kimberly of When I Grow Up

Dyson pondered what to do. A large envelope ha been left leaning against his front door. At first he though it was from his girlfriend. She liked to leave him notes and clippings of articles she knew he'd enjoy. She was special. She came into his life unexpectedly, almost from nowhere. Somehow she knew him, on a deep level. He hadn't had anyone in his life since . . .

He knew he'd have to shut down this line of thinking. Her loss was too much to bear. He hadn't said her name since that night. He couldn't bear to have anyone in his life who had even known her. He moved away and cut off contact from his friends and family. Starting over was the only way he knew to survive.

He opened the envelope mindlessly. Inside was a single sheet of paper and a photo. He saw the name and he couldn't speak, or even think. His face paled and he began to shake uncontrollably.

Diane of On the Border

Dyson crumpled the paper, then clutched the picture in nerveless hands and sank to the floor, unable to look away.

A young woman trapped in the front seat of a wrecked car. Blood everywhere. Her pain-darkened eyes staring imploringly up at the photographer out of a bloody, wrecked face.

His breath came in little gasps as he stared. Surely not. It couldn't be . . . her. All smashed and broken. 

He didn't know how long he sat there, drinking in every detail. Her long, blonde hair lying all about her. Her blood soaked clothing.

His eyes moved to the interior of the car. Long forgotten and still familiar. Blood had spattered everywhere, but he could still see the burn mark from his and Amy's disastrous first attempt at smoking a joint.

Finally, after what seemed hours, his eyes turned to the paper. he smoothed it and started to read:

"My Dyson . . ." it began.

His eyes filled with tears and he scrubbed them away impatiently and kept reading.

"It has been so wonderful to reconnect these past few months. You have been, as you always were, amazingly kind and considerate and I am grateful to have had these stolen moments together."

Dyson frowned. What on earth?

"But I'm afraid (to resort to the mundane and over-used and abused), all good things must come to an end. My preparations are now completed and this is where you and I will forever part company.

Simply put: I will not have you follow where I must go.

The truth is about to be trumpeted from the housetops and you and everyone else will know what your cousin and her former friends have done.

And what their long-awaited sentence had to be.

Please forgive me - at least a little. And know that I loved you.


Mary. AKA: Amy"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Read on for the conclusion of Past Due ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

And before you go, here's today's recipe:

Ham and Brown Rice Casserole includes ham, rice and cauliflower baked together in a cheesy casserole. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner

Ham and Brown Rice Casserole
Ham and Brown Rice Casserole includes ham, rice and cauliflower baked together in a cheesy casserole. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Ham and Brown Rice Casserole        

Printable Recipe

2 cups cauliflower florets, cut small (can substitute broccoli)
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 TBSP stone ground mustard
2 tsp dried chives
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked, chopped ham
6 oz chopped smoked provolone cheese
1/4 up seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 X 11 casserole dish.

*Partially cook the cauliflower in the microwave for 2 1/2 minutes. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese, sour cream, mustard, milk, chives, salt and pepper.
*Gently mix in the cauliflower, rice, ham and provolone. Spread into the prepared dish.
*Top with the bread crumbs and mozzarella, cover with foil.
*Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.


  1. I can't wait to see how this one ends!

  2. A great comfort dish. I love it.

  3. Wow.
    This is really building!
    I can't wait to see where it leads!

  4. An excellent and suspenseful tale, and already proof that honesty is the best policy.

  5. What a fun car adventure! I've had my fair share of car adventure stories including one this week where I had to track down a customer from accidently removing an item from my car. Lots of detective

    1. That doesn't sound like a good adventure to me. Hope you got back whatever they removed.

  6. I'll be waiting for Tuesday and how your authors work out the survival of Amy andher revenge. Or maybe something different, with Emily trying to safeguard her family. Will they all pay for a teenaged prank gone wrong? Or will this have a twisted happy ending? I'm not betting on the latter. Alana

    1. I'm enjoying hearing about how you're thinking this through.


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