A to Z Blog Challenge – O is for Oscar


Oscar figured he had just about enough time to get a short run in before dinner. He laced up his sneakers and put his key ring coil on his wrist. He locked up his apartment and set off down the stairs. It was pretty nice out that afternoon – not too hot and not too cold so he thought he’d make a good distance that day.

He jogged across the building lobby, nodding at the super, Lou, on his way. He opened the door and jogged across the park, bypassing the pathways to avoid the moms with strollers. Once out on the sidewalk, he headed East on Market Street.

He had a good run and made it as far as the old factory on the outskirts of town before turning to head home. He was a little winded and sweaty but he felt great.

He was several blocks from home when he nearly collided with an older man walking along gazing up at the buildings. He had to do a quick sidestep and grabbed the old gentleman’s arm to steady the guy when he wobbled in his tracks.

“You okay, man?” he asked, but the old guy just gazed back at him, in a fog.

Oscar shrugged and set off again. He glanced back and saw the old guy hurry across the side street. Even though he looked a bit confused, Oscar figured he knew where he was going and forgot about him. He was almost home when he heard the commotion in the park outside his apartment building. Some lady was crying, and there were others gathered around her, trying to help her out.

“I only took my eyes off of him for a minute!” she was crying, “I had to go inside to make sure I shut the stove off. He was sitting right here!”

Oscar recognized her from his building. She lived a few floors below him.

“What’s going on?” he asked one of the people in the group.

“She’s lost her Dad,” a lady told him, “He has Alzheimer’s, and he wandered off.”

“Wait a minute,” Oscar said, “Older man? Balding? Was he wearing a blue jacket?”

“Yes!” the distraught woman shrieked, grabbing at Oscar’s arm, “Did you see him?”

“Yes, he was several blocks from here, East on Market Street,” Oscar said, “He was looking at all the buildings. He looked a little lost, and he almost ran into me. I asked if he was okay, but he didn’t answer, and he kept walking.”

“That’s him!” Chloe cried, running towards Market Street. Everyone ran with her.

“What’s his name?” Oscar asked.

“Barney,” Chloe said, “I don’t think he’ll answer if we call. Dad! Dad! Dad!”

Oscar increased his pace and took off at a run, heading back to where he’d seen the old man. He ran up and down several times and tried some of the side streets near where he’d last seen Barney. The others were also looking and calling out Barney’s name. Oscar was sure that together they’d be sure to find one lost old man.

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A to Z Blog Challenge – B is for Barney


Barney had no idea who the little girl was, but he liked her smile.  He liked that she brought him ice cream nearly every afternoon.  He liked to sit in the park.  He liked the sunshine on his head, and he liked to listen to the birds in the trees.

He looked down at the little girl again as he licked the chocolate ice cream cone.  She was holding his hand as she sat beside him and watching the birds flitting around in the trees.

“Is it good?” she asked him.

He wasn’t sure what she meant, but he smiled and that seemed to satisfy her.

“I could have gotten pistachio instead, but I know you like chocolate,” she continued.  “You do like chocolate the best, don’t you?”

He smiled again.

“Pistachio is green,” she said.

“Green,” he repeated, and she nodded.

Barney liked the way the sun glinted off of her brown hair and the way she kicked her feet like she was doing now.  She had freckles across the bridge of her nose, and she was missing a front tooth.

“My Mommy said a pistachio is a nut,” she told him. “My friend, Darla is allergic to nuts.  Well, allergic to peanuts.  Do you think she’s allergic to pistachios, too?”

He smiled again.

“I saw a girl with a puppy today.  Do you like puppies?”

“Puppies,” he repeated, and he nodded.  She smiled, and he smiled back.

“It was a cocker spaniel,” she told him.

He finished the ice cream while she told him all about how cute the puppy had been.  She was still chattering away when the side door on the building next door opened, and a woman hurried out.  She stopped when she saw the two of them sitting together and she looked a little startled.

“Well, hello,” she said, as she joined Annelise and the old man.  “Do we know you?” the lady asked.

“I’m Annelise,” Annelise said, “This is Grandpa.  Well, he’s not really my Grandpa, but he’s nice, and he likes ice cream.”

“Oh,” the lady said, “So you’re the one who brings him ice cream.”

“Yes, he likes chocolate the best.”

The lady smiled and said, “His name is Barney.  He’s my Dad, and he has Alzheimer’s.”

“He has what?” Annelise asked, scrunching her nose up at the unfamiliar word.

“Alzheimer’s,” the lady said.  “It’s a disease that confuses his mind. He doesn’t speak too much anymore.”

“He’s a good listener,” Annelise said, “My Mommy said that’s important, too.”

“Yes, it is,” the lady said.  “Where is your Mommy?”

“Oh, she’s there.”  Annelise pointed to the building on the opposite side of the park.  “I live there. That’s how I found Grandpa.  He looked lonely sitting here so I started sitting with him.”

“That’s very nice of you,” the lady said, “He likes to come out here in the afternoons.”

Barney smiled as the nice lady sat down on the other side of the little girl, and they began to talk.  Barney watched a squirrel sniff at the discarded napkin from his ice cream cone.  Barney liked watching the birds and the animals in the park. It was a beautiful day.

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A to Z Blog Challenge – A is for Annelise


Annelise could never decide if she liked chocolate or pistachio the best. She stood with her small nose pressed up against the glass display case, gazing at the large round containers of ice cream. The chocolate looked so rich and thick and fudgy.  But the pistachio was such a lovely shade of green. Green reminded her of spring and grass and flowers.

“Come on, child, I don’t have all day,” the man behind the counter said. “Although you are my prettiest customer, I do have others waiting.”

“I’ll have the fudge ripple,” a stout man huffed from behind Annelise.

“You can wait a moment, Bill,” the clerk said, “Annelise was here first. What will you have, my girly?”

“Pistach… NO! Chocolate!” she decided. She waited patiently while Mr. Stevens scooped out a large round scoop of the rich chocolate ice cream. Her eyes widened as he carefully packed it into a waffle cone wrapped in a paper napkin. He bent down to give the ice cream cone to the little girl, and she handed him her handful of tightly clutched change in payment.

“Careful, don’t drop it,” he smiled.

“I won’t. Thanks!”

She turned to skip out of the store, proudly holding her prize. She turned right as she left the store and started down the sidewalk. She was careful not to step on any of the broken pavement. She didn’t want to drop the cone.

She noticed a group of boys hanging around outside the newsstand so she hurried to catch up with a mom pushing a stroller with two little babies inside. She walked just behind the mom, pretending she was with her. She saw one or two of the boys turn to watch her pass, and they eyed her ice cream enviously, but they left her alone.

A bit farther on, she saw another girl walking a puppy on a red leash.

“Is that your dog?” she asked, stopping to give his fluffy head a pat.

“Yes, he’s a cocker spaniel, and he’s called Fred,” the girl said.

“Hi, Fred,” Annelise said. She was careful to keep the ice cream out of Fred’s reach.

“Is that your ice cream?” the girl asked, “It’s going to drip.”

“I have to go!” Annelise said, hurrying away.

She continued on down the block, passing stores and buildings until she came to an open grassy area. The large vacant lot in between buildings had been turned into a neighborhood park years ago. There were trees, and flowers bloomed in the spring and summer. The town had put out a few benches, and the neighbors had made a twisting walkway that wound between the flowerbeds.

Annelise skipped down the path, stopping for a moment to watch a squirrel climb a tree. She felt the ice cream drip onto the back of her hand so she hurried on. As she turned the corner, she saw a solitary figure sitting on the bench up ahead.

The old man turned to watch her approach. He smiled as she came closer.

“Here you are, Grandpa!” she said, holding out the ice cream cone. “I got your favorite today!”

The old man smiled and hugged her close.

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