Turning Tales Week 1: Cinammon Sugar – Bite-sized stories

Welcome – Turning Tales begins!

This week’s writing topic: Settling into the mood…


Describe a meal from your childhood. It can be one you loved or one that still makes you throw up a little. School lunch in a brown paper bag, disturbing clumps of butter below the baloney. Dinner at your grandma’s house. Chinese takeout for the whole family, everyone gets to choose their favorite. Cinnamon sugar on buttered toast on a Saturday morning. Coming in from the cold for a hot cocoa. Let your readers taste and feel.


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• On top, we’ll give away another year of Papyrus Author+ by random to one of the participants.
• Here are the details for the writing season: Turning Tales.

Have fun! :star_struck:


After hibernating for almost sixteen hours, Deena could no longer crouch under her covers with comfort. Her belly growled for the tenth time, reminding her that she already skipped dinner before bed, and she would not win another battle with her biological defense mechanism.
Her scrawny legs dragged her body into the dark kitchen. The fridge was nearly empty. Her choices were scarce. Water boiling, she cracked an egg into the hyperactive bubbles and swirled the water around with a ladle, forming a perfect round shaped cloud in the middle of the pot. When the poached egg finally solidified, she drained the water and poured milk into the pot, adding dashes of sugar, and waited patiently for the mixture to heat up again. She hovered her face over the dancing steam and took a deep breath. It was Mum’s scent–creamy, sugary, and pleasant–unlike the muggy bleach smell she could not stave off now when she visited Mum in the asylum.
One bite into the rubbery egg white, she almost burnt her gum. She spit it out with instinctive speed and blew breaths of cold air into the pot. Steam danced a misshapen form straight at her face. She could almost see Mum dancing around in the white long robe in the dark distant hallway, waving at her, laughing. She smiled back at the illusion and took another bite. The firm yolk collapsed in her mouth, like Dad sprawling in a pool of redness at 4am in the morning that day, Mum standing behind him with a knife in hand.
“Ouch!” She bit her tongue and squinted her face with the sharp pain. The sweet smell vanished, and a taste of blood filled her mouth. She could almost smell that day, her body now urging to throw up. She sighed and glanced at the wall calendar. The big red circle on today’s date striked her cloudy brain that a trip was due to see Mum again. She whispered to herself, “maybe today you will recognize me. I miss you, Mum.”


My mother recently passed away. It didn’t come as a shock – she was in the late throes of dementia; her outlook a few weeks at most when the doctor gave his final prognosis. I stood to inherit the house that I grew up in – my childhood home.

After all the legal proceedings and paperwork, I was handed the keys on a Tuesday afternoon. I took the short drive across town and into the suburbs. Passing by all the new developments made me feel uneasy - something about the symmetrical designs, the plain patterns and the perfectly manicured lawns didn’t suit the neighbourhood. I brushed off the feeling and continued towards the cul-de-sac where I grew up. Pushing the key into the lock, I heard the familiar sound of the deadbolt disengaging out of sight.

It was filled to the brim with memories – and the musty smell of dust – accumulated on every surface. I spent the rest of the week cleaning from top to bottom. In a way, it was cathartic – clearing away the years of idle neglect. It wasn’t my mother’s fault. She just forgot to clean, and most days (especially towards the end) she could barely leave her room. As I was clearing the loft, I found a box of old tapes, each labelled with a specific date. The oldest of the tapes would have been from when I was around five, and the majority were from my teenage years – when the technology of handheld cameras was a lot more affordable to the common folk – especially a single mother.

I don’t remember much of my childhood. Many of the memories I do have are of neglect and abuse from my father. I don’t even remember him leaving, just waking up one morning in December to find out he was gone. I was exuberant at the thought of watching these old videos and seeing the brighter side to my lonely adolescence.

Luckily, whilst clearing out the loft, I found a VHS player, which would allow me to watch the videos. I didn’t fancy spending a stupid amount of money on a restored or ‘vintage’ one on Amazon. I waited until later that evening to watch the contents.


“Alexa, dim lights,” I called. The living room bulbs faded and left me sitting in a warm orange glow. I didn’t waste any time changing all the existing bulbs for smart ones. The TV flickered with a slight static and there I was. Sat in the very same living room as I am now, except I was five – and playing with a large dollhouse. My mother called my name and I turned to her and smiled. I had already lost my first tooth by this point and I couldn’t be prouder of the gap in my front gnashers. In the background, I saw a black curtain. Not a set, just the one. Now, like I said, I don’t remember too much of my childhood, but I definitely don’t remember mother having black curtains, let alone just the one. She was a more ‘floral and decoratively ornate’ kind of lady. I brushed it off and continued to watch myself play with my new birthday present. After the video ended and VHS player spat out the old tape, I was feeling slightly anxious about that black curtain still.

“Alexa, goodnight,” I said.

The lights turned off and I was bathed in darkness. I took a quick glance over my shoulder towards the window, and to my relief, both curtains were still the same flowery pattern they had always been. I’ll replace them soon, I thought to myself.

After I finished work the following day, I made my home, quickly stopping off at the local home and hardware store. I bought the first set of cheap curtains I could find that would fit the gap in my living room. I didn’t have any plans on the purchase, but I just felt the urge to do it – there and then. When I arrived back home, I grabbed the tool box and rummaged around for a screwdriver. I took the rod from the wall and replaced it with the new one, carefully sliding each ringlet onto the pole. After a almost an hour of choice swear words, the final clip that help the fabric to the ringlets was in place. I sat down in front of the TV and pulled the box of tapes towards me. I went to grab the first tape that I had placed back on the top of the pile yesterday, but to my surprise, it wasn’t there. I was certain I had put it back in the box. Maybe I hadn’t? I questioned my own sanity, and in a way, I wondered if I could too have dementia. A little shaken up at the thought, I pulled out the next tape.


I watched as my face appeared on the screen once more. I was dressed head to toe in black, with a frilly skirt, black pumps, and a black wig. My face was painted white and I had a small black spot on my nose, and matching black whiskers upon my cheeks. This would have been my first Halloween that mother allowed me to go trick or treating on my own. Father would never have let me go out in the evening alone, let alone during Halloween.

I was sat at the dining room table eating my dinner. I say dinner, but Mother had a tradition to allow me to have whatever I wanted for dinner on Halloween. So, being an eleven year old, I chose my favourite dessert – to have as my main course. Pumpkin Pie. A recipe I still use to this date – something my mother handed down to me were all her recipes. I made my favourite childhood dish the other week actually. The house was filled with beautifully sweet aromas – the earthy scent of cloves and nutmeg, sweet smells of cinnamon, and a subtle hint of ginger filled the kitchen as it baked. My mouth began to water at the thought, amplified with the sight of it on the TV. After finishing off my mammoth portion of pie, my mother escorted me to the end of the driveway to see me on my way. I skipped away with my empty bag, ready to fill it with chocolates and sweets galore. The video didn’t end there though. Mother turned around and began to head inside. She was fumbling with the camera, which must have been new, as she tried to figure out how to stop recording. In the background of the now sideways video, I could see that same black curtain in the living room window. It’s Halloween, it’s just a decoration… at least that’s what I wanted to believe.

Somewhere, deep within my own consciousness, I knew that wasn’t true.

I made sure to place the tape back in the box this time. Checking twice that I actually completed the task. I stood up and made my way out of the living room and up to bed.

“Alexa, goodnight,” I said, as I passed the threshold of living room to hallway. The lights faded and once again I was enveloped in darkness. I turned to peer over my shoulder, the new curtains were still the same colour as they had always been.

Now, I’m not a superstitious person, but when I discovered that yesterday’s tape was also missing, I began to feel like someone… or something, was playing tricks on me. I had checked, multiple times that it was in the box, and there’s no one else in this house apart from myself. Before watching the next video, I made another impulse purchase, on Amazon this time, for one of those home video doorbells. I felt like I’d have more peace of mind whilst at work if I could see any potential intruders. It wasn’t that I lived in an unsafe area, but something about that black curtain, and the missing tapes was really upsetting the balance of thoughts in my mind.


New Years Eve. I would have been fifteen when this video was taken. I vaguely remember this night. Not because of repressed memories of my childhood, but this was the first time I got drunk. My mother, my poor mother – all that vomit. It couldn’t have been past the countdown yet, because the light fixtures were free of party popper streamers. I think my mother had realised that I had been drinking at this point, and was filming my actions to embarrass me when I was sober. Or older. One of the two. I watched on and laughed as I stumbled slightly over my own feet. Then, lurking in the background of this video, was that black curtain. Expect… I squinted and leant closer to the TV. It wasn’t a curtain, but a woman, dressed in all black walking just behind me, like a shadow. The dress she was wearing was black, and the same fabric as the curtain.


I almost jumped fresh from my skin when the oven timer in the kitchen went off. I’d been so caught up in the video that I almost forgot that I’d set myself a Pumpkin Pie to bake. I quickly dashed to the kitchen and removed the pastry from the oven. My nostrils were assaulted with that same sweet smell that I always loved.

I went back to remove the tape from the VHS player and stopped in my tracks. The screen was blank, just a blanket of static on the screen.

“Is there someone here?!” I called. Silence. My pulse quickened and I could feel the beading of sweat building up on the back of my neck. A shiver travelled down my spine. I had a thorough search of the house, and when I was one hundred percent sure that there was no one else here, I decided against my best judgement to watch the final tape.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. DON’T WATCH THE TAPE!

I’ve watched ‘The Ring’ and countless other films, and I always do the same thing. I shout at the character to not do the exact thing I was about to do. But, just like the impulse purchase of the curtains and the doorbell, I felt like I had to watch the final video.

I pulled the last tape out and examined the label. The date seemed to be smudged, as if it had been freshly written. I couldn’t make out anything coherent and decided to put it in the tape-player anyway.

I wasn’t in this video, unlike the rest. It started at the end of the hallways, facing the door at the end. This specific door led to the basement. I very rarely ventured down there, something about it always gave me the creeps – that much I can remember from my childhood. I watched on as whoever was filming – it must have been my mother? I could hear a faint sobbing coming from beyond the basement door. As the latch was flicked and the door creaked open, the sobbing became louder. There was also the faint sound of a lady screaming in the distance. The distraught lady burst through the door and the kid cried harder. The screen went dark momentarily as the camera adjusted to the darkness of the basement. I could hear footsteps on the creaking steps, and then… Screaming. The screen came back to life and that same lady from New Year’s Eve came into focus. She looked at the sobbing girl who was curled up in a tight ball on the basement floor. She was seemingly oblivious to who I can only assume was my mother behind the camera and took whatever blunt object she was wielding and bludgeoned the child. The crying ceased after the first hit. The lady, who turned out to be my mother, gasped as she realised what she had done. A violent scream erupted from her mouth. It was guttural and heart wrenching. I couldn’t watch any longer. This couldn’t be my mother. And even if it was, then who was filming? I slammed my finger onto the eject button, but the tape continued. The lady, my mother, walked beneath the dim light of the basement, revealing the same black fabric dress as the curtains. I begin to sob, trying everything I can to stop the video. I unplugged the TV from the wall, but the scene continued to unfold. In tears, I watched as my mother drew a length of coarse rope from a shelf and tied a slipknot over the rafters. She hung herself and the tape ended and spat itself out of the machine.

With trembling hands I fumbled around the living room searching for my car keys. I couldn’t stay in this house tonight. I would have to forget my Pumpkin Pie and the delicious mouth-watering memories it would bring.

When I finally found my keys, I heard the unmistakable sound of another tape being loaded into the player. It began immediately and I was glued to the spot, enthralled. The footage that began was of me, watching the first tape. My heart began to beat double time in my chest and I didn’t stay to see what would happen. I didn’t even bother to lock the door. I got in my car and drove off as fast as I could. When I was far, far away from that cursed place, I pulled over in lay-by on the side of the road. My adrenaline had worn off and my hands had finally stopped shaking. I couldn’t prevent the onslaught of tears that continuously escaped my eyes. As I sat there in the darkness, uncontrollably sobbing at the memories of my mother, which are now tainted by whatever I just witness, a passing car’s headlights illuminates my rear view mirror. I quickly went to adjust it so I wasn’t being blinded by their stupidly bright beams and that was when I saw the lady in black sitting in the back seat of the car, an ear to ear grin plastered across her face.


What a creepy story, Robert! Well done!

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Childhood is always a troublesome topic for me as I don’t remember much of it. One thing I do remember is cinnamon sugar toast. It reminds me of my grandpa, my Papa. When I was three or four, my grasp of time (especially now) has never been the best, my mother would drop me off at my grandparent’s house so she could go to work. My Papa would offer me toast and I always said yes, I will always say yes to toast, especially how he makes it. He’d sit me at the table and I’d listen and wait as his beautiful creation in the kitchen came to life. It always felt like he’d sped through the process and yet it was perfect every time he presented it to me. A plate with floral details around the rim and perfectly cooked toast with beautifully melted butter. The cinnamon sugar was always a welcomed guest. My grandpa would sit down at his desk that was a couple of feet from the dining table and read his news on the MSN website. No matter the number of memories I lost or failed to remember, I will always remember my grandfather and his delicious toast. Even now, as a twenty-year-old, I enjoy cinnamon sugar toast on a cold rainy morning like this one. The scent of the rain, grass, and wood of the patio brings me back to the dining room table at my grandparent’s old green house in the west end of town.


A perfect autumn evening

With a sigh, I close the front door behind me. Finally weekend! I shake like a wet dog, leaving a puddle on the wooden floor with my soaked coat. It’s pouring rain outside. A typical North German autumn evening. Time for the leisurely part of the day, which I’ve been looking forward to since getting up. We have a special motto for Friday evenings in October. Halloween! But not in the spooky way one might think. No, we try new delicacies. These are then celebrated by candlelight and a Harry Potter film. As every year, we start today with “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. Our absolute favorite.
“Honey, I’m home” I call out exuberantly through the hallway, and a scene from a film named Pleasantville immediately comes to mind. A grin spreads across my previously tense face. I would never have thought to call out this sentence in the same way. My feet make their way into the kitchen where I find my wife stirring in a saucepan. Excited I suck in the air, what will it smell like? Dark and yet sweet at the same time, the aroma creeps into my nose. Hot chocolate! And not just any. I close my eyes and continue to absorb the smells. My darling added Christmas spices. The spicy scent of cloves and cardamom mixes with the heavy aroma of cocoa. I can already taste the dark intensity seductively on my tongue.
“There you are at last” my sweetheart beams at me. “Our hot chocolate is almost ready, will you whip up the whipped cream?” she asks in the next moment and I nod happily. Is there anything tastier than steaming, flavorful cocoa with a mountain of cream and cinnamon on top?
Armed like this, we stroll into our living room shortly afterwards. The rain drums tirelessly on the window pane and now and then you can hear the wind whistling. I feel incredibly comfortable in here now. Quickly lit the candles, and we’re already snuggling up with the bulbous mugs between the cushions of the wide sofa.
How I love the Harry Potter movie theme! I sip the hot chocolate for the first time. The creamy cinnamon cream combines on my lips with the heavy spiciness of the cocoa. Neither too sweet nor too tart and with a slightly spicy note. Heaven on earth for me!


The nuns were not sure about pleasure, it made them uncomfortable, caused anxiety which showed on their naked faces which stood out stark white against the black of their habit. It seemed for this reason that the mashed potato was deeply anti-pleasure: instant, and yet still inexplicably lumpy, saltless, tasting only of the water that reconstituted it. Sitting alongside the wafer thin slices of fatty beef the colour of dirty pavements, the meal was, always, a penance.
So getting home to Nans was a howling orchestrated symphony of delight: Nan-made jam tarts, melting and sweet, oozing jam and flaking into crumbs with each bite; roast potatoes that tasted of potato and butter; soft melting salty beef that slid from fork to mouth as if it was in a hurry to be tasted; gravy that coated the food with scintillating peppery juices that sang in the mouth and created hymns in the belly. And there was Nan, red faced from the kitchen, singing tunelessly but happily, and wearing my favourite pinny covered in tumbling flowers and a dusting of flour, as colourful and cheerful as the nuns were drab and anxious. This was food, real food, and real love and happiness. It was almost -–almost - worth enduring the convent meals, which were definitely a few Hail Marys and a couple of decades of the rosary in penance currency, to understand the enveloping, saintly, joyful, life affirming Ode to Joy that was mealtime at Nans. Never to be forgotten. Either of them.


The smell of burned pancakes permeated the air when I pulled the car door handle.

Grandma was cooking.

I reached into my backpack and shoved the last few bites of my sandwich into my mouth, unsure when I would have my next edible meal.


It’s four in the morning and we’re up and raring to go to the state Special Olympics tournament. As we sat around the breakfast table, I turned and asked my twelve year-old son,
“Alex, do you really understand what Prader-Willi Syndrome’ is all about?
As he slammed down the last of his waffle and without missing a bite, “Yep, makes me fat, Dad”.
“What else,” I replied back just as quickly.
“Makes me mad,” the boy continued.
“Anything more to know,” I kept prodding while I cleared the table.
“Nope, Dad; I’m good”
Damn, the kid’s got it down. That being said, we grab our coats and head out the door. The family has a three-hour drive ahead of us and once again, it will prove to be an interesting drive of a lifetime.


Funny! Made me chuckle when I read it. how cute!

It was inspired by my husband’s grandmother! hahaha She burned everything.

On the school bus home one evening in October of 1978 with my sister Jan, sitting who knows where. I didn’t care we didn’t get along that well together. We love one another we couldn’t stand to be together for very long before she would start picking an argument with me. For one brief moment, we had agreed on one thing for sure. We were always hungry by the time we got off the bus. I know my stomach was growling. We hurried up the driveway and into the kitchen, surprised mother had a big pot of spaghetti on the stove. The woman never cooked.
Jan and I got a bowl of spaghetti before we flopped down in front of the T.V. We took a bite of the stuff as we looked at each other in horror. We were sure mother was trying to kill us with rotten hamburger meat she cooked up in the sauce.
After we got over the sickness and cleaned up, mother pulled into the driveway.
She asked us what was wrong. We still had shocked, horrid looks on our faces.
I raised my voice as I asked her if she was trying to kill us!
Mother nearly rolled on the floor with laughter. She said, " That isn’t hamburger meat. It’s a diabetic recipe with beef liver."
There’s no point in crying over spilled milk. Jan and I couldn’t help but laugh with her and at her.


The steam swirls from the top of the cup as the floral tang with a hint of bergamot hits my tongue and the smell of Earl Grey penetrates my nostrils. The pattering of rain can be heard from the windows surrounding me as the lightning cracks across the sky brightening my window as I sat the cup back on the window sill. I take another bite of the buttery English muffin enjoying the cool tingle of the mint jelly as I chew it turning the page of my book.
Nancy has just reached the bottom of the stairs when she hears a low creak down the hall. Knowing that Ned’s unmoving body lays just a few feet away she looks for anywhere to hide from the possible murderer lurking in the shadows.
The boom of thunder startles me from the images being painted in my mind. With a hand on my chest I turn towards the comfort of my tea cup just as another flash of lightning strikes. For a moment in the light of the storm it seems that the steam has taken on the shape of a women’s face. With high cheek bones and hollow eyes that looked deep into her soul, then as quick as the lightning stick the face was gone.
I shake my head grabbing the cup allowing the warmth to run from my mouth down through my body before closing my book, deciding that perhaps today I will just take a nap.


I hate the food that shares my name: Shepherds Pie.
Now, my last name is Sheppard, but people don’t care about that. They say “tomayto”, “tomahto”; however, it’s just not the same thing! Especially when you’ve been typecast as a shepherd, or as a sheep, for every Christmas pageant in your childhood.
But! It’s not just the name that makes me pause putting spoon to mouth. No, there’s a certain deception of the meal itself. Under the glorious smell of melted cheese and golden mashed potatoes there is something akin to spoiled baby food: soggy and filled with mysterious clumps.
So, word to the wise, ask if someone wants to be a shepherd during the Christmas pageant or if they like Shepherds Pie. Never assume.


Is that a Nancy Drew book you’re reading? If so, I wanna read it. :joy:


It was Christmas, it had to be. The faint, yet notable smell drifting into my bedroom from the kitchen below told me so. Only on Christmas morning Granny made cinnamon buns. My mouth salivated thinking of the warm bite of cinnamon nipping my taste buds before the sticky sweetness of creamy thick icing coated my entire mouth. My tongue swiped across my lips as I threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. In a rush I shrugged on my bathrobe, gave my teeth a quick brush and scooped my hair into a messy bun piled high on my head. There was no time for much else, not after the delicious aroma of dark roasted coffee beans swirling in the grinder permeated my nostrils with the burning tang. Most people dreamt of the presents, the stockings, images of carved Turkey on the table, surrounded by bowls of buttery mashed potatoes and spicy stuffing, plumes of steam swirling into the air. But there was nothing that said Merry Christmas to me like a fresh hot cup of brew and an enormous sticky cinnamon bun warm from the oven. As I drew closer to the kitchen, to the combination of smells, the sudden din of voices grasped my attention. Clearly my brothers had had the same wakeup call and beat me to the kitchen, all three I imagined. Stepping through the kitchen threshold I immediately noted the empty pan in the center of the table and four empty coffee cups. No way, I had missed it all, damn me for brushing my teeth and bothering with my stupid threadbare robe. I mean, what did it matter, it wasn’t as if I was partaking in refreshments with the Queen. With a heavy hearted sigh my shoulders slumped forward, disappointment welling up inside and the threat of tears watering my eyes as I turned to leave, maybe I’d go back to bed. Through the sudden silence a throat cleared causing me to turn back to find my granny smiling. With an extra large mug of steaming coffee in one hand and my favorite dessert plate, the one with hand painted blue bells along the edge in the other, sat a lone cinnamon bun. The icing, due to the warmth was slowly drizzling down the side, a trail of dark cinnamon in its wake and a tiny sprig of holly had been added for effect. Yes, this was Christmas.



I couldn’t have been much older than kindergarten age, when the battle of wills began. My family had supper at a cousin’s house, and that is when the sweet peas were put on my dinner plate. I remember having eaten everything else served to me, but not these green little balls. I’m not sure exactly why, but it likely had something to do with their mushy consistency and sickly color. Not very appetizing.

As I sat there looking at them, I remember thinking that I could give them a try. But before I could, my dad said, “You’re not leaving this table until you eat those peas.”
Well, that did it. I was doubling down and now there was no way I was going to eat those things that rolled around on my plate. I sat there, looking at them while everyone else left the table and went about their business.

My cousin, the one who cooked the meal, said to my dad that he was teaching me to be stubborn. I hate to say it, but I was already stubborn, and so was my dad, if I do say so myself. Anyway, I sat there for a long time, looking all sweet and innocent. There was no way I was loosing this battle. I knew I could win, and I did.

Now, decades later, the little pea-green balls are one of my favorite foods, especially when eaten straight from the garden, or frozen. They have a fresh, healthy flavor, even if they are difficult to chase around the plate.

~ Connie Myres


It was a Nancy Drew reference I used to read them all the time when I was younger. I don’t think this is actually a scene in any of the books (not that I can remember at least) but those were the first names I could think of.

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Me too!!! You should look into writing a mystery story. I’d read it. :blush:

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I’ll be honest this is the first thing I’ve written in about a year (if not a bit longer), but now that I’m have more free time I’m hoping to get some actual writing done. I haven’t thought of trying to write a mystery story before but I may try.

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