A Sampling of Deborah's writing
by Deborah Elliott-Upton
"Is she coming? Do you see her?" Otis asked.
Jansen craned his neck, searching. He was so tired. His turn as lookout would be over soon. But for now, he must be ever vigilant. "No sign of her yet," he whispered. Jansen didn't know if the creature could hear their voices, but there was no sense in taking chances.
He watched as Otis trembled. Jansen knew the old man was near death. Food and water had been scarce since they'd been brought here. Their captor didn't seem to notice the days when she'd forgotten to feed them.
She'd captured them effortlessly, one by one, and placed them inside this decaying prison. Under her watchful eye, it occurred to Jansen that they were no more than toys. She observed them scrambling to conceal themselves whenever she appeared. Seemingly fascinated by the ways they chose to live, she studied them hours on end. Hiding from her had become their weary way of life.
Obviously, she had no idea of the crimes she committed, kidnapping them that way. Periodically, she added new inmates to the confinement, all the while smiling in apparent glee.
Jansen stiffened. "Here she comes! Hide! Hide!"
The men ran, bumping into each other as they always did in their haste.
The giant ant chuckled at her collection. "This man farm is the best gift I've ever received," she said.
* * *
*THE COLLECTION originally published in Millennium Science Fiction & Fantasy magazine, Fall 1999.
**THE COLLECTION won an Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Honorable Mention in May 1992's Mysterious Photograph writing contest.
Wearing seat belts too important to forget
by Deborah Elliott-Upton
I received my first traffic ticket almost four years ago. Since I clearly remember being 30-something, I count this an accomplishment.
My father and brother compete in car racing, so I fully expected the racing-Elliott gene would someday be my downfall and my first citation would be for speeding. It wasn’t.
At first, I thought the policeman was after someone else. I hadn’t been drinking and wasn’t under the influence of anything stronger than my drug of choice, caffeine. So I’d had a few too many cups of coffee and my bladder was complaining. Was that against the law?
I reacted like anyone who sees a patrol car in her rear-view mirror. I slowed. He slowed. My speed became a crawl. He followed suit. Finally, I pulled to the side of the road, knowing there must be some mistake.
The officer cautiously approached. I tried to look innocent. "Did I do something wrong?" I asked
You’re not wearing a seat belt, ma’am."
Me? I routinely strapped on the insidious contraptions that wrinkled my clothing and cut into my neck at odd moments. I realize the constraint problems protects my life. Still, I’d rather it be my idea instead of another of my civil liberties being revoked by a Big Brother government. Though I disagreed, I obeyed the law. Except tonight – I’d forgotten to buckle up.
All I could make out was the bright light. He shined the flashlight in my face and stayed near the vehicle and slightly behind me. Not once did I get a good look at the man who’d later receive the Police Officer of the Year award. "They didn’t ask for my vote," I said to my husband when I watched the beefy officer accept the trophy on TV. This was the first time I’d seen his features. He was smiling. I wondered if he’d been smiling that night, hidden behind the flashlight’s glare.
Of course, I’d heard his voice. It sounded forceful, like a police officer’s should. He requested my driver’s license and proof of insurance. Then he started asking weird questions, like what make and model was the vehicle. How would I know? All that came to mind was something Japanese.
"Mazda," my sister in the passenger seat told him. I glared at her. Securely settled into her seat belt, Lisa looked smug. Traitor.
I got stuck with the highest fine for driving without a seat belt – 50 bucks. I’m not sure if this was at the judge’s discretion or the police officer’s. It made me mad – and made an uncomfortable dent in my budget. It may also have saved my life sometime, and for that I begrudgingly thank Officer Fletcher.
So am I the only one who’s getting stopped for not complying with the law? I wonder, when I see teens, the elderly and those of my own generation breezing down the expressway sans seat belts. Everybody does it.
All these sightings make me angry. Aren’t they posing greater risks than I was, driving after midnight in a residential area? Why aren’t these reckless drivers shelling out $50 fines?
A month later at a department store, I was in the midst of bemoaning my misadventure when a stranger approached my group. Somehow I knew by the young woman’s demeanor that it took great effort for her to intrude.
Holding her hand was a tiny, fair-haired waif. Blonde and fragile-looking, the child possessed an angelic essence.
"She’s blind because of me," the mother said. "I didn’t use her child’s seat that day."
My heart leapt to my throat and I couldn’t manage a word. Never had I realized how blessed I’d been in my lifetime. I thought of the chances I took before the seat belt law forced me to comply. What’s $50 compared to what could happen?
She touched my arm gingerly. "Please use seat belts every time."
I can’t forget the pain on her face. I remember it when I see an unrestrained child roaming in the backseat. I think of her each time I pop my own seat belt into place.
The worse incident I’ve encountered since my ticket was the grandmotherly looking woman driving a silver late-model car with an open sunroof. She was smiling, obviously happy to have the child with her that sunny day. He stood beside her in the seat. His head propelled through the opening, the car’s top enveloping his neck like a collar. Or was it a noose? His hair billowed behind as the wind kissed his cheeks. My car kept pace with hers, so I imagine she drove the same 45 mph I did.
I try not to think about what would have happened if she’d had to stop suddenly.
AT A CROSSROADS
by Deborah Elliott-Upton
I'm at a crossroads.
Just as I need to be moving ahead,
I think backward.
I make no moves because I am unsure where to go.
In my heart, I think forward, move forward
Quickly before your chance is lost,
But my mind is afraid and I am frozen,
Not able to move my toe an inch.
It is at the crossroads one can become lost forever
whether they go or stay.