There are some people who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take—often with disastrous results.
TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER details characters in life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared. Their methods of coping range from the passive (“The Healer”) and the aggressive (“The Clock”) to the humorous (“Traveling Left of Center”) and hopeful (“Skating on Thin Ice”).
The eighteen stories in TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER depict those types of situations, from the close calls to the disastrous. Not all the stories have happy endings—like life, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.
In these stories, the characters’ choices—or non-choices—are their own. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?
ALICE IN WONDERLAND—Alice is constrained by circumstances and unwanted obligations to live an unfulfilling life. Books are her only way to escape, serving as sustenance to feed her starving soul. But what will she do when there are no more pages left to devour?
ANNABELLE—A lonely young woman, all Annabelle wants is to love and be loved. But she’s fighting by the twin emotions of fear and guilt, unable to let go of the past and embrace the possibilities of a future.
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN—Sometimes, what one fears most comes to pass because of those fears. If Charlotte hadn’t been so afraid, would the outcome have been the same?
BEAUTIFUL DREAMER—For Eleanor, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to tell the difference between being awake and dreaming, reality and fantasy. The boundaries were blurring. Would she be able to see clearly again?
EXIT ROW—He wanted an escape. After all these years, he was ready to go. But could he get away before it was too late?
MISCONNECTIONS—Anna’s recurrent dreams echo through her day, as she attempts to reconcile her inexplicable feelings of loss with what would appear to be a “perfect life.”
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND—Despite being more than three steps over the mental health line, he’s holding fast to his belief in his own sanity. Or is the rest of the world crazy?
SKATING ON THIN ICE—Is it possible to overcome childhood trauma? And, even if you do, are you ever really “cured” or simply skating on thin ice, waiting for it to crack? Sarah is trying to skate across the thin ice. Every day, she makes a new path on the surface of her life. So far, the ice has held.
STILL LIFE—Mirror images of her life: how she wants it to be and how it is. Which one would be her true reality—and does she even have a choice?
THE CLOCK—Everyone has a breaking point. For Harold, it came one fateful evening when the clock once again stopped ticking.
THE HEALER—Cassie didn’t ask for the gift. She didn’t want the gift. For all the good it had done other people, it was killing her. All she wanted was her own healing.
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS—Mona was relying on the kindness of strangers to rescue her. One stranger, in particular. However, thanks to the interference of others, her plans keep going awry. But she’s not giving up yet.
THE SHOP ON THE SQUARE—His attitude of superiority had gotten him quite far in life. Until a chance stop at a small Mexican town illustrated that he had much to learn.
THE STORYTELLER—Connie makes up her stories as much for the children’s sake as her own. But even her stories can’t stop the pain of reality from hurting her listeners—or herself.
THE SUGAR BOWL—Although Chloe’s life story changes with every listener, each time her tale has achieved its intended purpose. Until she chooses the wrong person to tell it to.
TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER—Her mama was forever telling her that, on the highway of life, she was always traveling left of center. She wasn’t a bad girl, mind you—just incapable of looking down the road and seeing where her actions are taking her.
WAITING FOR SARA—Her daughter Sara is gone, and while it was by her own choice, it was a decision ill-conceived and poorly executed. And so Sara’s mother waits, alone and fearful, hoping against hope that someday her daughter will return, safe and unharmed.
Nancy Christie is a professional writer, whose credits include both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to her fiction collection, TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER, and two short story e-books, ANNABELLE and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (all published by Pixel Hall Press), her short stories can be found in literary publications such as EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, Wanderings, The Chaffin Journal and Xtreme.
Christie’s essays have also appeared in Woman’s Day, Stress-Free Living, Succeed, Experience Life, Tai Chi and Writer’s Digest. She is currently working on several other book projects, including a novel and a book for writers.Visit her website at www.nancychristie.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or at her writing blogs: Finding Fran, The Writer’s Place and One on One.