Stories by Mail, Day 42 – The blue goddesses will see you now



When she hears the overhead bell announce your entrance, the shopkeeper looks up from her crochet and gifts you with the most welcoming smile you’ve received in recent memory. Her rumpled white jacket more closely resembles a lab coat than an artist’s smock, and her wavy chocolate curls swim in all directions, as if Medusa’s snakes were friendly and wanted to invite you in for a cookie. “Welcome to the Nena Sanchez Gallery,” she says in a Dutch Caribbean-tinged accent. “I am the current Nena, and I specialize in grandmother services and color consulting.”

She gestures to her right, where you notice several other women. Their appearance is remarkably similar to Nena’s, but they range in age from twenty to sixty. “Every Nena has her own artistic and personal area of expertise. Are you interested in something specific today?”

“I don’t…what?”, you sputter, eyes darting from one Nena to the next. “But your sign says–”

“It is a common misunderstanding.” She chuckles. “My paintings are visible throughout the world. They do not require another gallery. Please, sit! Perhaps you would enjoy a cup of tea?  Our excellent life coaching and mural painting courses are twenty percent off today.”

With pride, she hands you a price list and heats the kettle.


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Stories by Mail, Day 27 – Natural beauty has a price



Since her first mug of cinnamon hazelnut coffee that morning, Haley Middleton had done only two things: munch vegetable sticks that were not an acceptable substitute for edible food, and illustrate the smorgasbord of tiny creatures that lived in her backyard.

The text message arrived from an unfamiliar number as she was sketching a garden snail, the tips of her pencils waltzing slowly, faithfully replicating every intricate detail reflected into her eyes. “Things are getting worse. Please send chocolate,” Haley read aloud to the snail. “Well, whoever this is, I agree with their philosophy.” The snail said nothing. She resumed shading its shell, her gaze shifting between the sketchbook and her indifferent subject. An hour later, another text appeared, identical to the first.

Haley raised an eyebrow. ” Sorry, but you’ve got the wrong number,” she typed, and then pressed SEND. She reached for her auburn-colored pencil when the phone buzzed again, still in her hand. “No, Haley. I did not agree to model without proper compensation. Chocolate, please.”

She glanced up from her phone in confusion. The snail stared at her expectantly.

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Stories by Mail, Day 21 – Thank you for shopping with us today



They captured Jared’s attention on their third trip through the snack aisle. In most cities, he would have been a relatively perceptive Assistant Manager, but living in Vegas had reconditioned the part of his brain that measured eccentricity. He squinted as the tallest among them–about four feet–grasped for a can of Pringles, its turquoise-tinged hand straining to reach the shelf. All five wore white sequined jackets with holes perfectly sized for their additional set of arms.

“Folks, I can assist you down here,” he called out when they approached the checkout line. They gathered near his register and regarded him suspiciously. “Where is game?”, one asked in an accent Jared had never heard before. He thought perhaps it was Portuguese.

“Game? Well, uh, there’s plenty of games outside,” Jared replied, pointing in all directions. “This is a CVS.”

The tourists simply blinked.

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