Storyteller and Children's Literature Author

Turmoil in the Dining Car People's Choice Winner ACFW (2015)

Robin Densmore Fuson

Turmoil in the Dining Car

“Jennie, what has arrested your attention?”
I hadn’t realized I’d been staring. I turned my smile toward my mother. “A young mother has her hands full with an active young boy about four years old, a toddler, and an infant. The boy is all over the place. First under the table, then sitting on the seat and cutting the table cloth with his butter knife, then sticking his finger in the butter and licking them clean. She’s pulled him down from crawling up the chair three times in as many minutes, while holding her infant and occupying the other child. I don’t see any other adult helping her.”
The dining car swayed and hummed its clickity-clack in a comforting way. The uniformed waiter with starched napkin over his arm and a tray laden with plates stepped to our table.

“Ah, here’s our food.”
The waiter distracted us with a wonderful aroma of our hot breakfast of eggs, ham and biscuits. My father surveyed the meal over his notes in his hand, as it was being served, then turned his attention to the young man. “Could we have some more coffee?”

The waiter nodded to Father as he stepped away.

Mother smiled at my father. “Charles, please set aside your notes for the duration of the meal.”

“Sorry my dear Elizabeth, I’m going over them to have them firmly in my mind.”

“You have said that five times a day for the last four. You will have them eating out of your hand with your powerful and persuasive words.”

“I’ll put them away.” They gazed at each other as he folded his papers and slid them in his breast pocket. I detected the twinkle in my father’s eye as he winked at her. “I’m not the one who will sway them, it’ll be my beautiful wife and daughter.” He included me in his smile.

I loved my parents and the way they showed their love for each other even in public. They weren’t stuffy the way older couples were, in this dawning era of the 1920’s.

Father wasn’t as sure of his abilities as everyone else was, which made him more approachable as a husband, father, man, and pastor. His humble attitude was as real as the smile he readily gave. No pretense with either of my parents. I smiled at them and grasped their hands. Father’s prayer was short and to the point.

We had started our tasty meal when my attention was drawn to the small boy in the back of the car. “The boy is scrambling up the back of the seat again. You two should sneak a peek, it’s quite humorous. Oh, look, I think he has gotten out of her reach. She’ll need to stand to reach him across the table. What has gotten his attention?” I frowned and jumped up. “Oh no!”

The boy’s hand curved around the emergency chain stop. The mother was too late. She managed to reach his trousers to bring him back down when his hand tightened. As she tugged him down, the train lurched while we evidently rounded a curve, her pulling on the boy brought him off the side of the seat. He didn’t let go of the chain.

Immediately, the whistle blew as the brakes engaged. We were thrown forward, which meant backwards to me. Chaos ensued as people, dishes, food, the whole lot were scattered. The screams, squeals, and crashes were deafening.

All of a sudden, everything came to a stop.

I opened my eyes to an eerie silence. I found myself plastered to the window covered in food. I looked up to see the sky through the opposite window. We must be on our side. I became aware of a weight on my stomach and upper legs. It was my mother! “Mother!” She didn’t respond. I moved her down so I could sit up.

“Mother.” I removed her hat that had gone askew. Blood came from a cut above her eye. I slid out from under her and grabbed a part of my petticoat. I ripped a piece off and pressed it to her head. “Mother. Sweetheart, please wake up.” Her pulse was strong. Breathing fine. I whispered in her ear. “Mama.”

I looked around at the mayhem. Those legs were familiar. “Father!” He was under a table that had come unbolted from its anchor on the floor and landed sideways on him. I needed to go to him, yet I should keep pressure on this cut. What should I do? I shook her again. “Mother.”  

This time, she moaned and moved her head. “Mother.” Mother opened her eyes. “Mama, we have been in an accident and you have a cut on your head. Can you hold pressure here? I need to go see to Father.” I put her hand on the petticoat where blood was seeping through. She nodded and obeyed.

I crawled over to my father. “Father.” I tried to lift the table. It wouldn’t move!

Crunching sounds met my ear as someone walked on broken glass behind me. “Ma’am, are you alright? Do you need help?”

“Yes. Can you help me move this off my father?”

Together we moved the table. I crawled to him. Later, I would be pulling glass shards out of my hand, but for now my only thought was for my father. I shook him and said his name, but there was no response. With the man’s help, I gently turned him over. I felt for a pulse. “No! Not you!” I fell in anguished sobs over my father’s lifeless body.

“Wait, let me near.”

I got out of the way as he leaned over Father. He whispered something into Father’s ear. Father gasped and coughed. I was stunned. I threw my arms around Father, but this time with tears of joy. I looked up to thank the man. He wasn’t anywhere in the car. He had vanished.

Cold and Calculating ACFW Finalist (2015)

Robin Densmore Fuson

Cold and Calculating


Most think I’m dead but they’d be wrong.  I’m alive, moving, growing, yet sometimes shrinking and losing part of myself. My aim is complete dominance. Power. I possess complete power over him. I stretch and spread my crackling beauty, penetrating every crevice of his life.

The light is what I fear most. It and only it can bring me devastation. Light brings warmth and my being cringes and moans in its presence.  I feast and rejuvenate in darkness especially while the wind blows across my body.  That’s when I’m most alive!

Today, I’m spreading my icy fingers over his eyelashes. I move slowly so he is unaware of my progress. Stealth is my ambition. I grow gradually without his knowledge. In his way, I conquer him.

My movements are sluggish and unobserved as I cover his sightless eyes. He is still. No breath comes and his heart has stopped. I won. A calm pervades me as I realize his struggle is over. To make sure, I thicken my hold. Every second I increase in strength.

My life is lonely. Only two do I call friends—wind and dark. I cling to them to stay alive.

Then a finger of light flicks over the horizon. No! The light stunts my growth and my grasp on him. The sun is raising its ugly bright head. If only I can hold out until the dark. I must lie as still as possible.

Clouds! Clouds are the answer. I wish for thick beautiful ones to block the sun.

The clouds breeze in and cover the orb. A whipping of air shivers delightfully over my body. The wind blasts cold and soon snow follows.

Snow. I love the snow. She blankets me in chilling delight. I increase in strength. I am elated. I won another round with the sun today. How many more? I need to go on!

The night came and brought with it its freezing tranquility. Not even a moon. The blackness seeps in my being. I’m almost giddy with pleasure. I have accomplished my goal of encapsulating my prey and have also conquered another day. But—what is this? The darkness is waning. Too soon! The nights grow shorter—I can sense it. Too soon!

The sun reaches high in the sky. Its gruesome display spreads its warmth and touches my body. I shrivel. The time is slipping away. A short time now. Oh, if only…

The night was long in coming and it didn’t heal me like it normally does. Already another heart breaking day full of the sun’s rays. Another and another. Day after dreadful day. They bake me and I slide farther away.

Oh no! He twitched. His tremor was unmistakable. Breath. The dreaded breathing began. That was a heartbeat. It can’t be! Alas, it has begun.

He will survive and I will not. I have become weak. The sun is doing its hideous job of breathing life into the world and sucking it out of me. I’m melting quickly.

He moved! Not long now. He blinks and a dry tongue licks my precious body. A part of me slides down his throat. I’m dispersing. I drip away into nothingness until next year, for I am the ice that covers the Alaskan wood frog while he hibernates.


The Infirmary in Moonlight ACFW Finalist (2015)

Robin Densmore Fuson

The Infirmary in Moonlight


Jake is in restraints, bruised and broken. The contraption was a sling designed to minimize movement and he supposed, pain.
He wasn’t sure how he got there. The last thing he remembered was searching for the enemy when the floor gave way. Suddenly, he fell into the black abyss.
Jake tried to move again, wishing he could release himself from the bands. He looked around the room as well as he was able. The room was on the small side, with only four beds and another sling hanging from the ceiling. He had never been in a place like this.
Where was Paul? Thinking of Paul made his heart rate rise. Paul was his partner. They had been together when he fell, with Jake leading the way, as usual.
Two people came through the door, pushing another patient. She didn’t move. Was she dead? Jake didn’t think so because they were gentle when they moved her to the bed and adjusted her. They spoke softly to her and said kind encouraging words.
I wonder what happened to her. Looks like her leg may be broken and her head is wrapped in a bandage. Sniper? Or did she fall into a trap like I led Paul into?
Jake and Paul were partners for the last five years. They ate together, worked together, and bivouacked together. He should have sensed the trap. He let Paul down. Jake felt responsible for Paul and would give his life for him.  Paul felt close to Jake and told him many of his personal struggles. They were more than partners—they were friends. Jake tried again to escape his bonds.
“There now buddy, don’t struggle. You need to stay in the sling for a while. If you are worried about your partner, he is doing fine. They have him at a local hospital. He cracked a few ribs, fractured his right leg and foot, and right wrist. Sounds like you two like to do things in tandem. You need to relax and let the healing process work. I wish you could tell me how you are doing.
Jake tried to speak but there was a contraption holding his mouth shut. Do I have a broken jaw?
The man walked over and adjusted the female patient’s IV bag as he had done with Jake’s. Then he turned her over to face Jake.  Jake watched him bend over and rub her head, and then heard him murmur to the patient. He only caught a few words: lie still, better, good.
Jake liked the view. The moonlight danced across her form. She was beautiful. In spite of the bandages he sensed she was breathtaking. He hoped, when she opened her eyes, his eyes would be the first thing she saw. He tried to stay focused on her, but drug induced sleep overtook him.
The female patient’s name turned out to be Chelsey. Chelsey had opened her eyes after that first night and they had gazed at each other. He sucked in his breath. She had the most beautiful deep chocolate eyes, with long lashes, he had ever seen. There seemed to be an understanding and bond between them even though no words were spoken.
Days turned into weeks. Jake got stronger and was able to take short walks. It felt strange to have the cast so he kept his leg up, off the floor. Paul came in for visits and talked about discharge and what life would be like for them both. Jake was afraid of the unknown because Paul was his only family and he had no one else. Paul became aware of the attraction Jake had for Chelsey. He smiled to himself and started scheming.
Jake awoke to an empty bed across from him. Chelsey was gone and she didn’t return. His heart was about to break. His happiness was wrapped around his roommate, Chelsey, and Paul’s visits. The future looked dim to say the least.
One day, Paul came in with a huge grin on his bearded face. “Hey buddy, guess what? I have two surprises for you. Are you ready? First, would you like to come home with me? I worked it all out. I got the docs to release you to my care. We leave in a few hours. Second, we will have a traveling companion.”
Paul stepped aside and Chelsey sashayed in!
Chelsey! She’s more beautiful than I could ever have imagined! Her soft brown eyes are smiling into mine! My traveling companion? Paul did that? Amazing!
As the two dogs nuzzled each other, Paul reached down for both leashes.  “Come on Jake. You and your lady friend can get more acquainted on the ride back to the States. The three walked out the door together—a man and his two dogs.