Short Story Sunday #35

CATS

            Oh, to be a kitty on a snowy day. It’s one thing to not have the responsibility of anything in the world, but to have the actual opportunity to relax whenever and where ever you want was a blessing in my eyes.

Cats had it so easy. They didn’t have to go to school, they didn’t have to go to work, they didn’t have to worry about money; they didn’t have to worry about anything that us humans have to worry about. The only things cats had to worry about were where their litter box was, who was going to fill up their food dish, licking themselves clean, and where to sleep. Oh, and maybe they worry about when they have to go to the vet next.

However, that doesn’t seem like a lot. I would love to sit around all day taking naps, only to wake when I was hungry. The most stressful thing in my life would be going to the vet.

It was the first week of November and snow was beginning to fall from the sky. It was the first snow fall of the season. People complained, but for once in a long time Mother Nature was actually being appropriate weather wise.

I had to go out in the snow. I had to go to church and teach my Sunday school class. When I left the house, it was cold, rainy, and raw out. I had a puffy winter, water-proof coat with my hood over my eyes as I watched the ground while walking to the car. I didn’t like the cold weather to begin with and adding rain to it was just making the day worse.

Of course, while I was at church snow began to fall. As the hour went on, the rain officially stopped and the snow continued coming down harder and harder. The flakes were a decent size, but none of it was really sticking to the ground. That meant there was going to be a bit of slush on the ground which, to me, was just gross.

I gazed out the window with a sigh. Today would have been the perfect day to sleep in and stay home all day. I would have loved to stay in my pajamas, make a cup of hot chocolate, and curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and a good book or even watch a good movie. It would even be nice to take a long, hot bubble bath. I had too much to do that day, though. Relaxing wasn’t going to be an option.

When church was over, I drove in my car with the windshield wipers going on medium speed as the snow smacked into the windows. The backseat windows were completely covered in snow making it hard to see as they fogged up.

When I made it home, I was completely chilled to the bone. I made myself a large cup of coffee to warm up and also to keep myself away from all the other things I was going to have to do that day.

I entered the living room with my cup of coffee steaming in my hands and I noticed my cat lying on his back in the middle of the room on the brand new carpet. I took a sip while snickering to myself. He looked as though he had keeled backwards and died; especially when his right hind leg twitched suddenly.

Placing my mug down on the coffee table, I kneeled on the floor beside my cat and rubbed his belly. Most cats don’t enjoy getting their bellies rubbed, but my cat loved it. I startled him and he meowed at me as he shot his eyes open. Once he realized it was only me, he rested his head back down on the floor staying rolled over on his back and allowed me to continue rubbing his belly.

“It must be nice to be a cat; especially on a cold, raw day like today.” I sighed.

His long fur made him feel so warm. Add that with the carpet and the fact that he was sitting right next to the heating vent; he was probably so toasty warm that he must have felt like he was sitting in front of a fireplace.

I stood up, glancing out the window. I looked back down at the cat who was now sitting upright right next to my leg. He looked up at me with wide eyes and let out a soft meow and then purred. I bent down to scoop him up in one arm and I grabbed my coffee mug with my other hand.

I brought him up the stairs and into my office. I set him down on the couch where he laid back down and fell straight to sleep. I put my coffee down on the coffee table in front of the couch and exited the room to go into my bedroom. I changed back into my pajamas and grabbed a couple of blankets off of my bed. I brought them back into my office.

I searched my shelves for a long movie and decided on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a long enough movie to keep myself occupied for a few hours. I turned it on, curled up in the blankets on my couch, and my cat snuggled up close to me. Together, I watched the movie while sipping on my beverage and he fell back to sleep again.

Oh, it must be really nice to be a cat; especially on snowy, cold days. Of course, it wasn’t that bad to be a human on those kinds of days, either. Every once in a while it was nice to just sit down, relax, and enjoy the company of the cat.

No More School

I hope everyone had a great weekend and a good Monday yesterday. I had a busy weekend with my church’s annual Holly Fair. I work the raffle table every year. It’s fun and I do it with my family and friends from church are there so it’s a good time. Tiring, but fun. I also wrapped all my Christmas presents, so that’s out of the way. In addition to that we got our Christmas tree. The holidays are finally arriving!

Needless to say I did not get any editing done. That’s something that I really need to pick back up again this week, but guess what?

I finished all my homework! The semester officially ends on Saturday, but I completed all my assignments I’m all done with school. I am pretty excited about that!

Instead of waking up, doing homework, going to work, then coming home to potentially write/edit or work on more homework… I can wake up, edit/write, go to work, come home and write/edit some more! Or you know, get other things done, but the time is there if I need it.

I’m still going to be busy, of course. I still have two weeks of work before the break and the holidays aren’t going to let me slip by so easily. I have quite a few Christmas parties this year. Most of my weekends are pretty filled up. It will still be a lot easier without homework in the mix, though.

With that being said, I expect to get a lot done between now and Christmas writing-wise. This morning I finished my homework and then worked a bit on this blog for next year. I’ve been working bit by bit on the blog every day so I’m ready for New Year’s.

That’s where I stand for now. Now I’m off to get ready for work and then come home and… get stuff done, whatever I have to do.

Happy Tuesday!

Short Story Sunday #34

STRAWBERRIES

            “Sorry, I’m allergic to strawberries.” Maggie Henderson smiled sheepishly.

“You… are?” her elderly neighbor frowned. She looked at the counter in the kitchen and stared at the food set out as a buffet.

“Yes…” Maggie frowned now as well. She didn’t mean to upset the old woman.

“Oh, dear,” her neighbor sighed, “if only I had known. I am so sorry.”

“No, please don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault.” Maggie shook her head trying to defend Mrs. Ravens.

Mrs. Ravens had a prize-winning garden in her backyard. She was never married and she didn’t have any children of her own. So, once she retired, she took up gardening as her hobby. It ended up becoming more than a hobby, but the sole reason of her existence. When she wasn’t able to garden in the winter, she hibernated because she didn’t know what else to do with herself.

When Maggie received an invitation to go to Mrs. Ravens’s “Garden Party” she assumed all the food would be from her garden. This would include lettuce, carrots, corn, pumpkin, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, and many more; including strawberries. However, Maggie just figured she wouldn’t eat the strawberries.

Apparently, unknown to Maggie, Mrs. Ravens decided to experiment with strawberries and only strawberries that past summer. Everything in her garden, aside from flowers, and the occasional vegetable to accompany dinner, were strawberries. Mrs. Ravens discovered how the Internet worked at the beginning of the summer and decided to challenge herself through her gardening.

She found recipe upon recipe for strawberries through the Internet and because of that she wanted to try them all out. She started looking up recipes that used pumpkin so she could grow only pumpkins next summer and have a pumpkin party. This would continue on with different fruits and vegetables for summers to come. Unfortunately for Maggie, this summer just happened to be all about strawberries.

Everything served at the party had strawberries in it; real strawberries, too. Mrs. Ravens didn’t bother to use strawberries flavors or anything artificial in her cooking. She only and always used natural ingredients in her food.

“I wouldn’t have invited you if I had known, dear.” Mrs. Ravens was pouting. She didn’t blame Maggie, but she blamed herself.

“Don’t feel bad, Mrs. Ravens. I’m sure everything is delicious. I’m just sorry that I’m not able to try any of it.” Maggie looked around the kitchen. She watched her other neighbors wander from dish to dish, scraping food onto their plates as though they were at a buffet. The food looked good. The food smelled good. Maggie wanted to try a taste, but she couldn’t risk it.

Mrs. Ravens scratched the back of her head. “Well, I would still like you to stay for the party. I have milk in the fridge and I have some cookies. I made strawberry cookies, but I have Oreos as well. You can have that for dessert, if you like.”

Maggie opened her mouth to agree, but Mrs. Ravens continued to rummage through her kitchen to find other things.

“For dinner… I don’t know what I can give you for dinner.” She murmured to herself. She opened a cabinet and smirked hopefully at her young neighbor. “Peanut butter and jelly? I have fresh home-made bread.”

Maggie frowned and shook her head slowly. “Uh, I’m allergic to peanuts… sorry.”

Mrs. Ravens sighed and let her shoulders droop. “Were you always allergic to these things? I watched you grow up next door. How did I not know any of these things about you?”

“Well, I’ve never eaten at your house before.” Maggie shrugged. “Don’t worry about it, though. It’s all okay.”

“But what am I going to feed you?” Mrs. Ravens asked in a panic.

“I can eat when I get home. I would love to have some Oreos and milk, if that offer still stands.” Maggie suggested. She wanted to make Mrs. Ravens feel better, but she didn’t know how to go about that.

Mrs. Ravens nodded her head with a smile. “Of course you can still have cookies and milk, dear. I just feel bad that I can’t give you anything else.”

“Don’t worry about that. I just appreciate you inviting me to this party in the first place.” Maggie attempted to make her elderly neighbor feel better.

“Well… are you allergic to anything else? I plan on having a party like this at the end of every summer, but just with something different I’ve grown in my garden.” Mrs. Ravens explained cautiously.

“I am only allergic to strawberries and peanuts.” Maggie confirmed.

“Next year I plan on using pumpkins in everything.”

“Pumpkins are fine,” Maggie nodded even though she didn’t like pumpkin all that much. However, she was willing to try it for Mrs. Ravens.

“So you’ll be able to come to my party next summer and you can actually eat?”

“Yes,”

“Wonderful!” Mrs. Ravens clapped her hands together and walked over to the cabinet again. She took out a cup and poured a glass of milk for Maggie. Then she took out the Oreos and handed Maggie the entire package.

“Eat as much as you want,” she explained, “You know where the milk is. If there is anything else that you would like to eat, just let me know and I’ll tell you if it has strawberries or peanuts in it.”

Maggie chuckled. “Thanks, Mrs. Ravens.”

Mrs. Ravens patted Maggie on the shoulder with a smile and disappeared into the other room.

Maggie poured her glass of milk down the sink drain and placed the empty glass in the sink. She took out three Oreo cookies and stared at them.

A young boy who lived a few houses down the street stared at the cookies in Maggie’s hands. Maggie put the package away and handed the three cookies to the boy.

“Do you want some?”

He nodded and took the cookies with a smile.

“Don’t let Mrs. Ravens see.” Maggie explained and watched the boy eat the cookies quickly right in front of her.

Maggie sighed. She didn’t have the heart to tell Mrs. Ravens that she was allergic to milk as well.

30 Pages

The third day of December was shot due to a headache when l came home from work. I ended up sitting on the couch too exhausted to do anything. Needless to say l did not edit 10 pages yesterday.

Lucky for me l had the day off from work today due to parent/teacher confrences. Kris and l decided to go to Barnes and Noble, but we both felt kind of crappy when we woke up. We both have colds and hope we’re not coming down with anything else.

So we stayed home.

I ended up editing 30 pages though. 10 for yesterday, 10 for today, and 10 for tomorrow. So l went above and beyond.

So that’s where l stand as of right now. Tomorrow is Friday and l’m barely going to be home. However, l finished my homework for the week so l can edit before work.

Cutting Out Extra Words… Or Pages

I typed up about 12 pages of the second draft of Detective Florence today. That puts me in a small lead since I’m supposed to do ten pages a day. I keeping thinking it would be nice to do extra pages and I probably will every once in a while, but… today is not that day.

I ended up doing two extra pages because three of the pages had the note written on them: “Simplify or take it out!”

Would you like to know what the three pages were about? Well, it was George laying out all his notes about the current case he’s working on. In other words, he summarized the entire novel from start up until that point. Um… why do we need a summary when we just read it all? There is no good answer to that question.

I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo 2013 so it’s obvious that I was stuck and just needed the extra words. That certainly worked at the time, but now I need to think about quality over quantity.

I ended up “simplifying” instead of taking it out completely. My mind may change in later drafts, but as of right now I think it’s a good move.

George was writing notes in am attempt to organize the events of the current cases (yes, there’s two mysteries going on). He added in a lot of extra stuff that no one needs to be reminded of, not even him. So I reworded it all so that he made a list of questions. You know, the standard who, what, where, when, why, how. He answered the ones he could and left questions blank that he didn’t know.

This definitely helped me keep everything in check. It was kind of like writing a list of plot questions that I need to remember to answer by the end of the book. I’m sure it will help keep the reader focused and organized as well. Plus, I’m sure real detectives sit at their desks and organize their thoughts like that all the time. Mysteries are a big headache.

Rewriting that bit took me from three pages to about four paragraphs which is just shy of a full page. So… yeah, I was clearly trying to boost my word count for NaNo.

I’m on page 156 in the second draft which is about 20 pages shorter than the first draft. It doesn’t seem like I cut out much, but I’m sure there will still be more cutting left; especially in later drafts. I’m sure there will even be some scenes that get cut, then brought back, then cut again.

Like I said, I reworded that scene because I think it’s a good idea now. However, when I’m on my Nth draft I may think it was a stupid idea and end up cutting it completely.

One just never knows.