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Image of the cover of the book of short stories titled


A Collection of Short Stories

image of cover of the book titled

Heartbeats Across Borders

Two hearts, two countries, one love

A new short story - A Little Mappery

Aug 30, 2022

"Honey, how long are you going to stare at that thing?"

"I'm not staring at it."

"Yes, you are. You've been staring at it for, oh, eight minutes now."

"I'm studying it, sweetie, not staring at it."

"I've been watching you. Your eyes haven't blinked but maybe two times in the last eight minutes, I'm sure. You're lost. We're lost. Admit it and give me the map." Amalia grabbed the map and slid it across the hood of the car so she could look at it without Antony's head in her way.

Amalia looked at the map. Then she looked around them at the landscape. And once more, she looked at the map. Nothing seemed to match. The map showed open land as far as the eye should be able to see, but what she saw around them were mountains. The map indicated a river alongside the road. But what she saw was a wall of trees across from a small clearing and no river. The map showed a 4-lane highway, old but still 4 lanes. The road they were driving on was two lanes, and very old.

"Um, dear, my darling husband, how'd we get here?" She spread her arms out and swirled around in a circle. "This isn't what the map shows. Either you got us completely lost, like in another world lost, or this isn't the correct map."

"Give me that thing, you don't know what you're looking at." Antony took the map away from Amalia, swung it over their heads in a big circle, then laid it back out on the hood of the car. "Now, look at it."

Amalia smiled and said, "Your little whoop-de-do with the map won't change the fact that you got us lost in the mountains. We planned on a drive across the open prairies, ranches, farms, and some rolling hills."

"Just look at the map, my dear." Antony stepped back and pointed to the map.

Amalia breathed out a long and dramatic sigh, and then took one trepidatious step towards the hood of the car. She glanced at Antony and he smiled and waved her to look at the map.

She did.

Then she picked up the map and turned it over. On the other side were a few advertisements, a mileage graph, and a few blown-up city center maps. She put the map back down on the hood.

"Antony," she whispered. "How? Why's it different?" She picked up the map again, and this time shook it around like a bedsheet. Nothing happened except for a small tear in one of the creases. She laid it on the hood again. "This map, Antony, what'd you do?"

"Do you still think we're lost? I think I see exactly where we are."

"What'd you do? You swung it around and over our heads and nothing else. This is some kind of trick, right?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, the map is what the map is, and it shows us where we are, exactly where we are."

Amalia looked at the map, and then she saw it. Right there, on the road on the map, was a car. It was the same kind of car they were driving. She looked at everything the map showed around them, and it all matched perfectly with what she could see up and down the road.

"This is crazy! How can a paper map show our car on a road, in the exact spot where we are?" She ran her fingers over the paper, over the little picture of their car, and it was nothing but paper.

"Crazy, that's a good word for it," Antony continued to play innocent.

"Antony! What the hell's going on?" Amalia was getting red in the face and Antony decided it was time to come clean with her.

"Okay, relax, sweetheart. I'll tell you."

Amalia crossed her arms in front of herself, glared at Antony, and waited for an explanation.

"I can change maps."

"You what? Don't be silly, c'mon, tell me the truth." Amalia wasn't smiling.

"I did. I can change maps. It's something I was born with. My family has a history of mapmakers. Many hundreds of years of mapmakers. Not typical maps, lines on paper stuff, but special maps."

"Special maps? This is nonsense. There's no such thing as special maps, magical maps, nothing like that."

"Well, you saw it, the map was wrong. Now it's right. How do you explain that?"

"I can't explain it. This is weird the map said Rosehill, I saw it as clearly as any of the other writing on this thing. And, back at that last restaurant was a sign for Pinehill. We are supposed to be in Rosehill, so how'd we end up in Pinehill?" Amalia hit Antony on his shoulder and he laughed.

"That's all ya got?" She glared at him. He continued, "Okay, well, it's hard to explain but to begin with, I admit it, I did get us off track."

"Off track?" She hit him again, this time a little harder.

"Ouch! That was better, I hope you don't beat me up. Yes, a little off track."

"If I have to hit you again, it'll be a smack to your mouth."

"Well, by smack I hope you mean kiss," Antony said while backing away one step.

"Don't get smart with me, honey, or you'll soon find out what it means. Now, what are we going to do about being off track?" She sarcastically emphasized the last two words.

"According to the map, as it is now, we can go up to this road and cut over to that road. Then a few more miles along we'll be where we should be, in Rosehill." He had been pointing to the various roads from an arm's length away from Amalia.

"Oh, is that all there is to it? How about explaining the map trick to me?"

"Oh yeah, that. I inherited this ability to make maps change. So, when we found ourselves in the wrong location-"

"You mean when you got us lost."

"and I realized the error of my ways. I could rectify the situation with a little mappery."

"Mappery? Now there's a new word if I've ever heard of one."

"Yeah, I suppose it is, but there's really no word for what I can do. And, it seems I'm the only person in existence who can do it."


He stepped back another step from her and said, "Woah, sweetie. Um, okay, once I knew that we were not where we were supposed to be I could change the map to the correct location. It happened when I swung the map around in a circle over my head. I don't know how it works, it just does. My father could do it, my grandfather, great-grandfather, and on and on. The map didn't match our location, then it did. That's all there is to it."

"That's all there is to it? Seriously? None of that makes sense. Tell me the truth, no more of these fairy tales." Her patience had worn thin. She picked up the map, shook it around, flung it onto the ground, and stepped on it. Then she, put it back on the hood, only to find it was still as it should be. "Nothing! Nothing changed on it, look! There's no second map hidden inside, or on the other side, it's just one map. How'd you do it?"

"I told you, darling. Yes, it's unbelievable, but it's true."

"Then let's go driving and purposely get lost somewhere off the map. And you can make it change again. And I won't take NO for an answer!"

Antony knew there was no point in arguing any further, so he opened her door and let her in, then he got into the driver's seat. She folded the map and put it back into the glove compartment. Amalia glared at Antony and he started driving.

He drove down the road and turned left then right, left, left, right, right fork, left, and so on until they had no idea where they were. It had long ago gotten dark. The moon was shining bright, bright enough for them to see on one side of the road was a wall of trees, and on the other was a drop into a canyon with a river at the bottom.

Amalia got the map out of the glove compartment, looked at it, and said, "There, you've been hidden away in the dark glove box and you know nothing about where we are. So just try to change to this area, I dare you."

"Are you talking to the map, sweetie?"

"Get out of the car, darling, and make the map change," Amalia said with a voice not full of humor at his question.

They got out of the car, unfolded the map on the hood, looked at it, and saw that they were obviously not on any of the roads indicated. Antony stared at the map. One minute, two minutes, three minutes.


Four minutes, five minutes.

"Antony! Stop staring at the damn map and wave it over your head."

"How long was it last time?"

"How long was what?"

"How long was I looking at the map last time?"

"Oh, you were staring at it for eight minutes. Eight excruciatingly long minutes. Now it's been close to six minutes."

"Okay." He continued to study the map. She started to tap her fingers on the hood, and the tapping was getting louder.

"Eight minutes, that seems to be the magic number." He picked up the map, waved it around in a circle above his head, and set it back on the hood of the car. They both leaned forward and studied the map. Then they looked around at their surroundings. They looked at the map again, and then their surroundings, then their car appeared on the map. In the exact spot, it was sitting on the road.

"Holy shit! It changed! Antony, it changed!"

"Yeah, I know, amazing, right? I'll never get over how that works. It's the craziest thing."

"Well, my god, unbelievable. The world has many magicians and illusionists, but this, this is beyond any of that." They stared at the map. Antony was as amazed by this as Amalia was. Amalia continued, "Your father never explained how it works? Or why? Or anything?"

"Nope. He just said that it happens and nobody knew how or why."

Amalia suddenly realized that night had fallen, and it was getting a little on the chilly side. "What time is it?"

"Oh, it's, wow, almost 2 am."

They looked around, and then Amalia said, "There's no chance of us getting home before daybreak. I think we're sleeping in the car tonight. Right here."

They got back into the car, cuddled into the back seat, and got some shuteye. In the morning, they looked at the map and plotted out a route back home.

Amalia asked, "Does it work with any map? Or only this particular one?"

"I don't know. I guess I never thought about that. Maybe, I suppose, that since this map is now correct for where we are, and we go somewhere else, maybe it will change for that new place. And just keep changing to wherever we are. Now that I think about it, I've always only used this one map."

"Well, there's only one way to find out - let's go get lost again!"