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PART 23: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 23: “PANDEMIC, OLD AND NEW” | BY BARBARA ERTL The tugging continued at the back of Mary’s mind after she was cleared to leave the hospital. She had been given stern directions as to nourishment and rest, and warned about weakening her immune system further while a pandemic raged. Remembering the meals she skipped and her sleepless nights worrying, she vowed to do better. Grace seemed to have the Golden Sassafras case in hand and John called every day. Sylvia wanted desperately to see her but was always turned away. Mary couldn’t explain fainting the morning Michael frightened her. She was still on her feet when he left. It was when John opened the door to reveal Old Man and Sylvia’s naturespirit mother, Linda, she fainted. Sylvia said they couldn’t rouse her and when they realized how warm she felt, they feared the virus. After calling 911, they followed her ambulance. Fever was the magic word and she was examined within minutes of entering the ER. Read the full story at themonitor.com

PART 22: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 22: “THE MYSTERY CONTINUES” | BY DORA GONZALEZ Mary could hear a soft, yet constant, beeping echo in her ears. Beep, beep, beep. She tried to open her eyes and grab a sense of the sound, but her lids felt heavy. She tried again, moving her hand up to her face to press her fingers against her temple. The sound seemed to get louder yet quieter at the same time, each fluctuation bringing a sharp pain to the side of her head where her fingers touched. Read the full story at themonitor.com

PART 21: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 21: “FRIENDSHIPS GONE AWRY” | BY BRENDA LEE HUERTA As the pounding persisted on the door, Mary rushed to open it. “Wait, don’t open it!” the other three furiously whispered. She stopped in her tracks, turning around. John reached out to hold her arm. “Look through the peephole first.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

PART 20: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 20: “SURPRISE! SURPRISE!” | BY RODA HILENSKI GRUBB Racing up the stairs after slamming her bedroom door to keep Zues and Gidget confined, Mary bolted into Sylvia’s room. Halting in her tracks, she found Sylvia sitting on the side of her bed, fingers to her mouth, frantically signaling Mary to silence. They both listened intently as Sylvia urgently pointed upward towards the ceiling. Read the full story at themonitor.com

PART 19: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 19: “An Unexpected Love Returns” | by Virginia Haynie Gause Sylvia stumbled to the door and peeked through the round spy hole. It was Mrs. Vargas. “Have you seen Michael?” her gray head twitched nervously as Mary’s favorite neighbor stood on the porch in a lacy pink top and chevron patterned yoga pants. “No, I haven’t,” replied Sylvia, shuddering at the thought of the Aussie. Read the full story at themonitor.com

PART 18: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 18: “HELP WITH THE PUZZLE” | BY LYNN CHAMBERLAIN Mary looked at her phone after her dad hung up, transfixed, as if the phone continued to communicate. Throughout her life when she felt overwhelmed, he was her rock. Evenas an adult, he continued to help keep her grounded. At one point, she felt the same way about her ex-fiancé, Johnny, and that’s probably why she had dreamt about him. Suddenly, she felt a renewed energy and focus in trying to unravel everything that had happened. Somehow, all of this was connected, she just needed to put the puzzle pieces together and figure it out. She stood up from the patio table, grabbed the empty carton of ice cream, and walked into the house. Read the full story at themonitor.com

PART 17: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 17: “TIME TO REFLECT” | BY SHIRLEY RICKETT Mary sat up, groggy from the dream, and looked in the direction of her ringing cell, aware now it was John’s face she had seen in the dream. “Hello?” “Mary? My Mah—ree?” Read the full story at themonitor.com

COVID Confessions: Different responses, different results observed from Vietnam

When I stepped into the taxi, the driver shook his head and adjusted his mask a little more tightly. “American?” he asked. “You have more deaths than anywhere in the world! You are lucky to be safe in Vietnam.” I was lucky. As I write, Vietnam has reported no deaths from COVID-19 and only 326 infections in a country of almost 100 million. In January, Hanoians celebrating Lunar New Year gathered along the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, taking pictures in traditional dress and carrying blooming pink peach blossom trees on the back of motorbikes as they hurried to join family celebrations. Read the full story at themonitor.com

COMMENTARY: Remembering Roy Hess, former Monitor sports editor

Legend. Iconic. Giant. Roy Hess was all of these when it came to RGV sports and more specifically journalism in the Valley. For more than four decades, Hess dedicated his professional life to telling the stories of Valley athletes. Even when he decided to change careers and become a nurse in Harlingen, Roy continued to roam sidelines and gyms with pen and paper in hand. Read the full story at themonitor.com

PART 16: Let’s Write a Story!

PART 16 “DE JA VU” | BY MADHAVI REDDY Mary rubbed her temples, trying to make sense of recent events: the freak fatal accident involving Sylvia, followed by the mystery of the Golden Sassafras, Michael, Forest, the nefarious scheme she witnessed at Cine El Rey, the Old Man, and the intriguing nature spirits. Overwhelmed, she had returned home after extracting a promise from Twix and Forest to come to her rescue whenever she needed them. “Maybe I can somehow save Sylvia, or perhaps the whole world, from COVID19, if I can just clear my head,” she thought. “I need a good night’s rest and someone I trust to talk to about all this.” She knew who that person was—Twix had reminded her with the question, “Do you have a boyfriend?” Read the full story at themonitor.com