Blogging from A-Z: K is for Karina (Kifo Island Chronicles)


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The phone was ringing -again? Still? – when Karina walked into the cottage that still smelled like Mother.

“I should have had it disconnected.” She made a face probably better suited to someone a dozen or more years younger. The phone responded by ringing again, as Karina kicked off her loafers and wiggled her newly painted toes against the smooth cool sandstone floor. Maybe it was already too late to pretend she hadn’t heard it, but Karina decided to try. She’d come home with the thought of a cold glass of raspberry lemonade and a long bubbly soak with candles and music, and she wasn’t going to let them rob her of it.

“There’s just too many of them,” she said to Mustafa, as the large grey tabby wound himself around her ankles, purring loudly in greeting. “If I keep answering every time the phone rings, I’ll never have time to do any of the things I need to do – let alone anything I want to do. But why am I justifying myself to a cat?”

She stepped carefully around him, and went to the phone. A quick glance at the answering machine said that there were already three messages – and she’d only been gone an hour or so. Before she could talk herself out of it, she pressed the mute button mid-ring.

The immediate silence was soothing – and a weight she hadn’t gotten used to carrying yet.

Karina soaked in the large whirlpool tub with Enya echoing gently through the cool and soothing space. Mustafa perched in the window, purring and grooming himself.

She tried not to think about the phone, or her siblings, but still ended up leaving the bath after only fifteen minutes or so. As she pulled on her robe, Karina looked at Mustafa, who was now draped along the windowsill, sleeping in the sun.

“Maybe it takes practice to learn to relax.” Her voice was muffled by the towel she wrapped around her head.

Karina tried to ignore the phone, which sat there in silent accusation, and the beckoning of the “5” that flashed like an indictment on the answering machine screen. She poured another glass of lemonade, feeling the warm relaxation of the bath fading into the beginnings of stiffness –

The machine engaged, again – and, after her own calm greeting, a flood of Russian so fast and shrill that Karina could focus only on the voice – Svetlana, again. It was the tenth time, today, at least, and the sun was hours from setting.

Karina glared at the machine until it cut her sister off, the stiffness becoming a hot lightning bolt of pain, arcing up her neck, through her head, and down to radiate across her shoulders. The flashing “6” seemed to burn itself into her eyes, an unspoken curse.

The machine engaged again, and Svetlana picked up right where she’d left off.

“7.” The machine flashed.

And her message again, and, again, that shrill Russian.


Karina put her head in her hands. It hurt to touch it. She felt tears starting, and tried to stop them – it would hurt to cry against the tight band of pain. The greeting, the Russian…


Mustafa came to leap up on the back of her chair and rub against her shoulder. Karina sighed as the machine engaged again. “I was wrong,” she told him. “It doesn’t take practice to learn how to relax – it takes being part of a different family.”

Want to learn more about the Kifo Island Chronicles?

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  1. Whew! I’ve just got caught up here, and wow! these Chronicles are really good!
    I particularly liked the way the Barry “chapter” was written – I was mesmerized by the description of Corinne and Barry moving across the floor toward one another – and also the Corrine chapter, which continued the mood and provided some juicy details and a great conflict.
    Donovan seems a nice chap and precocious Iris intrigued me when she was introduced.
    I enjoyed the Exuberance chapter, and now that I’ve read through to this Karina chapter, I think Exuberance’s name fits well with the spirit-squashing (at the very least) that Howard/Howie, who’s charming at the moment, will probably do to her along the lines of what he does to Iris, or worse…
    And poor, tortured Francois, he’s a good, very necessary character for the view he’ll provide regarding the business of dying.
    The Howard chapter is a great suspenseful build-up to God knows what horror is to follow!
    And thankfully, it seems Iris will begin to use the pluck she showed Donovan to combat the Howard-monster!
    I had a little trouble with the starts of the chapters Ava and especially Gladys, but that’s small beans compared to the overall awesomeness of this story idea and your excellent writing!

    • Miss Alister,

      Wow! Imagine my delight when I read this (and then imagine me with a nine-year-old with poison ivy or sumac on her scalp and over her eyelid, so that I was too exhausted from trying to help her find relief to get back to you sooner….yup, it’s a wild life I lead!).

      I love the feedback you offered, especially since I know just how much more conflict awaits Barry and Corinne, the pleasant and unpleasant surprises awaiting Donovan, how Francois’ life’s work gets shaken up, and what becomes of Howard, Exuberance, Iris, and Gladys.

      I agree that the Ava and Gladys stories didn’t begin as smoothly. I had a particularly hard time finding my way into them…but, with the time constraint, eventually I just have to post what I have. It’s really liberating, in a sense, to know that I will be returning to these people and their stories. I’m thinking maybe a series of novellas, each encompassing a set of intertwining story arcs…

      But first, I think I’ll get through this month!

      I love your comment so much, I plan on sharing it! It’s gratifying to know that the stories are touching others. =)

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