Short Story Sunday #38

GO

            I am always on the go whether I have to go to work, go to school, run some errands, clean the house, or I have to help someone with something. There is no down time for me. People complain that I am constantly busy. They tell me that I need to calm down and relax. I don’t really know how to relax, though. When I do get a moment of peace, I try to find something else for me to do so that I can keep busy. I don’t like relaxing. It’s boring to me.

Every morning I wake up, I clean some part of the house, I go to work for six and half hours, and then I come back home to do homework. All my classes are online, so even though I don’t have to physically be anywhere, I get a lot of homework. I’m usually up late trying to finish, even though I never procrastinate. There is just too much to do in such little time.

So, it was finally winter break. This is the two weeks that everyone looks forward to the most; myself included. The only problem was that since I was a teacher, I got these two weeks off. So I didn’t have work. The semester ended, so I had an entire month to relax before the spring semester started. So I didn’t have any homework either.

That was pretty much all I did with my life at the time. I woke up, went to work, did homework, went to bed, and then repeat. Now that I didn’t have to wake up early every morning to go to work, I slept in. Now that I didn’t have to worry about getting my homework done by the following week, I could actually sit down in front of the TV and watch a good movie. I could make a cup of coffee and read a good book. I could start and finish reading an entire novel in one day if I really wanted to.

I wasn’t busy anymore and I kind of liked it that way.

“What are up to tomorrow? Do you want to hang out?” my friend had called me the day after Christmas. We discussed how our holidays went and called to catch up.

She didn’t work because she lived at her school, which was out of state. She had just gotten home for the holiday break about a week before and this was the first time I was hearing from her. It was hard to keep in touch when both of us are busy, let alone not even being in the same state.

“Well, I don’t know.” I sighed rubbing the back of my neck. She couldn’t see me, but I was scanning my house with a disgusted look upon on my face. After Christmas, my house kind of got a little disorganized with all the gifts I had received. I hadn’t really been keeping up with the house cleaning, either. I had been too busy relaxing just like everyone always told me to.

“What do you mean you don’t know? We haven’t seen each other since the summer. Don’t tell me you’re too busy to see your best friend.” She sounded exasperated already and we were only on the phone for about five minutes.

“No, it’s not that I’m too busy. Actually, it’s because I’m not busy at all. I haven’t really been keeping up with everything lately.” I explained.

“What’s wrong? You’re not sick or anything, are you?” she questioned.

“No,” I shook my head, “it’s just that I haven’t had the chance to relax like this in a long time. I kind of like it. And because of that, I haven’t been keeping up on my housework or anything else that needs to be done.”

She chuckled on the other end. “You do realize that you have a lot of opportunities to relax… you just never take them.”

“No, I was just saving them. Now I’m cashing them all in at once.”

“Don’t go crazy.”

“Trust me, I’m not. Isn’t that was relaxing is?”

“Let me come over tomorrow. We can relax together. How does that sound?” she suggested.

“My house is a mess…” I sighed.

“So what? I’ve seen it messy and I’ve seen it clean. Besides, you’ve seen my house. I’m pretty sure my house is much worse than yours.” She stated.

“Hmm… good point,” I muttered.

“I heard that,” she deadpanned. “What time would you like me to come over?”

“Whenever,” I shrugged.

We didn’t say much after that. As soon as we hung up the phone, I looked around my house. There were dirty dishes in the kitchen sink because the dishwasher was full of clean dishes that needed to be put away. There were dirty clothes overfilling the laundry basket and were dropping onto the floor because there was still a load in the dryer and another load in the washer that I didn’t feel like finishing. My bed wasn’t made, the living room hadn’t been vacuumed in a while, and the dining room hadn’t been dusted in a long time.

“How in the world have I been living like this?” I gaped at myself.

Needless to say, when my friend came over the next day I ended up cleaning the entire house beforehand. She was in shock, but she wasn’t really surprised. I was brought back to reality when she called me on the phone.

However, I didn’t go back to my old ways. I cleaned the entire house for my friend, she came over and we did in fact relax together. We had some drinks, chatted about school and my work, and even watched a couple of movies. The next day, I cleaned up after our night together and then went ahead and took a hot, bubble bath. It was the best of both worlds.

Short Story Sunday #37

FOUND

            It wasn’t mine. I wasn’t entirely sure who it belonged to, but I found it. If I was the one who found it then that must mean that it was mine, right? If the person who previously owed it really wanted it, then they wouldn’t have lost it. Or maybe they lost it by accident, but they surely would have come back looking for it. Am I right?

I wonder who this belonged to in the first place. I wonder how they lost it. I wonder how long ago they lost it. Seriously, how long has this item been sitting in the middle of the sidewalk? How long has it been missing from its owner? Do they realize they lost it?

My mom always told me that if I found something that didn’t belong to me, I should turn it in to someone. If I found a lunchbox at school, I would have to give it to the teacher or the principal and they would find the rightful owner. You know how some people always ask you that hypothetical question like, “if you found a 100-dollar bill lying on the ground, what would you do? Keep it or take it to the police?”

I always told people I would turn it into the police. I mean, that is the answer they were looking for, right? There was nothing in the question that said I had to answer truthfully. I didn’t swear on the Bible or take an oath to answer a rhetorical question.

So, there I was face to face with this question that was in fact real. It was no longer hypothetical. I was in the situation for real. It wasn’t a dream. It also wasn’t a 100-dollar bill, which I had to admit I was pretty disappointed about. If it were a 100-dollar bill then there would be no question about it. I would pick it up, put it in my pocket, and walk away without another thought.

Yes, I did say I would bring it to the police, didn’t I? I know turning it in would be the right thing to do, but no one is perfect. Not everything does the right thing when they are supposed to. Besides, what are the police going to do with so much cash? The bill’s owner doesn’t have GPS on it. They can’t keep track down who dropped money while they were walking down the street. Why did they even drop it? We can’t figure that out, either.

I’m getting off topic, aren’t I?

How about this: when kids find something they always say finders-keepers, am I right? Can’t that rule apply to adults, too? The item was lost, the owner doesn’t seem like they’re coming back for it anytime soon, and I found it. So that means it’s mine. I think that makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s logical. Kids are so smart these days!

I was still standing in the middle of the sidewalk. I didn’t even bother to pick up the item because for some reason I was thinking so deeply into the matter. I walked over to the curb and sat down with my feet sticking out into the street. The road was quiet as it was in the middle of the day so most people were at work. There were barely any other people walking down the sidewalk, too. I’m sure if there, someone would have picked the item up by now.

I looked to the left and then to the right. A young woman was turning the corner holding onto a little boy’s hand. They were walking in my direction. I turned the other way as I didn’t want to make any eye contact with them. I needed to think.

Should I take the item and keep it? Should I take the item and try to find the rightful owner? Should I just leave the item on the ground and wait for someone else to come along and give them my troubles?

Am I thinking too deeply into this? Would anyone else sit on the side of the road and think about such an item on the ground in the middle of the sidewalk like I am? Would they just walk by, pick it up, and bring it home? Would they just walk by and leave it on the ground not bothering to give it another thought? Maybe other people would walk by and they wouldn’t even notice the item sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. I kind of wish I didn’t notice the item. Then I wouldn’t be so late for work at the moment.

I twisted my neck and peeked over my shoulder. Sure enough, the item was still sitting on the ground. It was mocking me. I felt as though it wanted me to take it home, but then I felt as though it was going to want to go back to its rightful owner. Someone was definitely going to be missing this item.

I turned back around and thought for a few more moments. After thinking and thinking and thinking some more, I finally stood up. I dusted myself off and turned back around to face the item on the ground.

I decided that I was going to end up taking the item home with me. Who knew how long it had been out here? It was only going to get ruined if no one claimed. So, I was going to claim it. Except… it was gone.

I looked left and then I looked right. The young woman with the little boy was turning the other corner, walking away from me. There, in the little boy’s hand I noticed the item.

He didn’t seem to think twice about picking up the item and taking it home with him. I had wasted too much time thinking and now I was never going to be able to get the item. It was gone. It was lost, but it had been found. Then I lost it. And the little boy found it.

Short Story Sunday #36

LATE ARRIVAL

            “Sorry I’m late. I didn’t want to come.” I smirked to the host as soon as she had opened the front door of her home. My hands were shoved into my pockets and my breath was rising into the air with every word I spoke.

“Well? Aren’t you going to let me in?” I winked.

“Oh, uh… sure.” The woman stepped aside making way for me through the doorway.

I stepped up off the porch and into the foyer looking all around the room. I nodded my approval and slid my jacket off my body. “So, how’s the party going so far?”

“It’s going well, thank you.” The woman held out her arms to take my jacket.

“Oh, well aren’t you a wonderful host.” I smiled mockingly.

She glared at me, but brought my trench coat over the closet and hung it up. She closed the double doors and pointed into the next room.

“Myself and all the other guests are in there having dinner. Won’t you care to join us?”

“Hm, depends… what are we having?” I stroked my chin with a raised eyebrow. “You know I don’t like anything too fancy. You didn’t cook lobster or sushi or anything like that, did you? Is there caviar or maybe a little escargot from your trip to France?”

“Michael, don’t do this tonight. Please?” She frowned at me sounding exasperated already and I had only just walked through the front door.

“Mike,” I corrected with a glare, “or Mikey. Remember you used to call me that even though I preferred Mike? I let you call me Mikey anyway because I liked you. And you liked me at some point too, if I recall correctly.”

“Mike,” she sighed, “I know you don’t exactly approve of this, but this is my engagement dinner. Can’t you please just support me and be happy for me?”

“No I can’t do that, Julie. Sorry.” I shrugged.

Julie closed her eyes and rubbed her temples while taking a few deep breaths. I kicked at the ground waiting for her to look at me again. For a moment, I felt ashamed for the way I was acting. Then again, she should have been marrying me… not her new boss!

“You don’t even like any of this stuff.” I stated. “You live in a big, fancy house with a butler, a maid, and a cook. You eat foods that you don’t even like. You go on trips that you have no interest in. Did you even like France?”

“It was… an interesting experience.” Julie stated matter-of-factly.

“In a bad way,” I rolled my eyes, “you two are complete opposites.”

“Opposites attract, didn’t you know that?” Julie commented.

“That only counts with science. This is chemistry we’re talking about.” I growled.

“Chemistry is science.”

“Not when we’re talking about people!”

“Keep your voice down.” Julie glanced into the other room. “I don’t want you to be making a scene.”

“I think your fiancé does a pretty good job at doing that on his own.” I grumbled.

“You’re just jealous because he got to me first.” Julie glared at me. “I invited you because we’ve been friends since we were children. You’re my best friend, Mike. You’re my biggest support system, you always have been. I’m able to tell you everything. I–”

“Then tell me the truth,” I interrupted, “do you love him?”

“Excuse me?”

“Answer the question.”

Julie stared at me with even eyes. It was difficult to read her expression or figure out what she was thinking. I couldn’t tell if she was hesitating because she in fact did not love her fiancé or if she was just trying to get out of answering because she thought I was utterly ridiculous.

“Do you love him?” I prompted.

“Maybe our friendship would have gone on to the next level if you weren’t such a child all the time.” Julie responded.

“That… had nothing to do with what I just asked you.” I said with a puzzled tone.

“Maybe if you had just got the courage to ask me then this engagement dinner would be for you and me. Did you ever think of that?” Julie frowned.

“I am thinking about it now. That’s why I’m asking… do you love your fiancé?” I took a step closer to Julie and stared down at her.

“It doesn’t matter whether I love Jack or not.” Julie looked up at me with a glare. “I am getting married to him and that doesn’t change the fact that you and I aren’t together. Don’t you understand that?”

I kissed her on the lips.

Julie took a step back with a look of horror. “Why did you do that?”

“A kiss usually gets the girl to come to her senses in the movies.” I shrugged and looked down at the ground. “Did it work?”

Julie opened her mouth to respond, but she looked passed me instead. I turned around and saw Jack standing in the doorway. How long had he been there? How much of our conversation did he hear? Did he see the kiss?

“Darling, are you coming back to the table? The guests are asking for you.” Jack looked right through me as he spoke to Julie.

“I’m attending to another guest out here.” Julie replied promptly.

“Yes, I can see that.” Jack glared at me.

“You can go back into the dining room, honey. I’ll be in there in a minute. Michael was just leaving.” Julie looked directly at her fiancé and didn’t dare to bring her eyes back in my direction.

“Good,” Jack stated and disappeared back into the dining room.

I took a deep breath and turned towards the front door. I didn’t have anything else to say to Julie. I didn’t even want to look at her. I put a hand on the door knob and then pointed to the closet.

“That trench coat was a gift from my mother… I’ll just take that with me, if you don’t mind.” I said to the door.

“Mikey,”

I turned and looked at Julie. She was holding my jacket out to me, her eyes filling with tears.

“I’ll have the maid help me pack. Wait for me in the car?”

Without any hesitation, I kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll leave the engine running.”

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.

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.

Short Story Sunday #33

WAITING

            It was three o’clock on a crisp October afternoon. It was raining off and on all day long and at the moment it was down pouring. A woman stood in the middle of her driveway wearing her white raincoat. It was buttoned up to her neck, her hood hunched over her head covering most of her face. Her hands were shoved into her pockets due to the chill in the air, her knees bending up and down trying to keep warm.

Every so often she would lift her chin in order to see over the hood of her coat. She looked to the left and to the right whenever she heard a car pass by. However, the car never was the black pick-up truck that she was expecting. Every couple of minutes, she would take her phone out of her pocket to check the time.

Water droplets covered the screen after being out of her pocket for a brief moment. She wiped the screen on her jeans before putting her phone back into her pocket. It was 3:10. She had been waiting outside in the rain for ten minutes now.

Of course, the weather was terrible. There was bound to be traffic out at that time. People were probably driving more slowly on the roads than usual due to all the puddles. Plus, she didn’t know where this truck was coming from. It could have been ten minutes away or it could have been an hour away. However, it would have been nice if she was told it was an hour away. Then she would go back inside for a little while.

She was told that she was going to be picked up around three in the afternoon, so that was why she was standing out in the pouring rain at that time. She rocked back and forth trying to keep warm, fog emerging out of her mouth with each breath.

“Mom!”

She turned around and looked at the front door. Her teenage son stood in the doorway with his arms folded against his chest. He wasn’t wearing a jacket or even a sweatshirt. He wore a t-shirt with shorts and his feet were bare. He didn’t expect to go very far, but he was standing outside on the front porch.

“I’m sure he’ll beep the horn when he gets here. Or, maybe he’ll even be a gentleman and get out of the car and come up to the door to ring the bell.”

“He’ll be here soon, Don.” The woman raised her voice competing with the distance and the rain.

“He’s already ten minutes late and you’re going to get sick waiting for him. Just come inside and get warmed up. He’s not going to want you sitting in his front seat if you’re wet and soggy.” Don countered.

“If he minded a soggy date then he wouldn’t be this late.” She replied. “The weather is bad, I’m sure he’s just running into some traffic.”

“Mom,” Don sounded exasperated.

“Doesn’t he work on Thursdays? I think he works on Thursdays, if I remember correctly. He might be stuck at work if that’s the case.”

“If that was the case, then he should have the decency to pick up a phone and call.” Don stated.

“Maybe he did. Did the house phone ring at all, Don?” she took out her cell phone and checked the screen. It was 3:20. “I don’t have any recent calls on my phone.”

“No, no one called. Just come back inside, will you?”

“He’ll be here soon!”

Don sighed and went back into the house. His mother stayed outside in the middle of the driveway. She looked up when she thought she heard another car, but it was only the trees blowing in the harsh winds. Her hood flew off her head. She closed her eyes and turned her head in the opposite direction so the wind wasn’t blowing in her face as she tried to put her hood back on.

She jumped when she felt a dry blanket drape over her shoulders. She turned around with a smile and then it faded all too quickly.

“Oh, sorry. I thought you were…”

“Dad, I know.” Don sighed finishing her sentence. “Mom, I don’t think he’s coming. He’s cancelled on you three times and now he’s not even bothering to do that.”

“You don’t actually think he’s standing me up, do you?” his mother looked her son in the eye.

Don checked his wrist watch. “He’s 25 minutes late. I don’t think he’s coming, Mom.”

“But when I spoke to him on the phone last time he said that he might be ready to move back in.” she stared down at the ground tears forming in her eyes.

Don wrapped an arm over his mother’s shoulders and steered her away from the street and back towards the front door of their house. “I know… why don’t we go back inside and talk about it? I’ll make you a cup of tea to get you warmed back up.”

“But what if he comes while we’re inside? I don’t want him to think that I forgot about our start over date.” His mother sniffled, but willingly walked back up the driveway with her son.

“If he actually shows up I think he should apologize for being so late and making you wait outside in the cold rain.” Don explained.

He opened the front door and allowed his mother to enter first. He helped her off with her jacket and sat her down on the couch.

“Let me make you some tea.”

“If he shows up, you’re not going to turn your father away, will you?” she asked before Don could leave the living room.

Don hesitated to respond. He knew his father was never going to give his family another chance. He knew his father wasn’t even going to show up. If he did, Don would have to gather all his strength and will power not to kick his father out.

Finally he sighed and shook his head. “No, Mom. I won’t kick him out for you.”

NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner

Winner

I hit 50k this morning on my NaNo!

I wrote 5,000 words this morning in order to finish before work. I am so proud of myself!

I hit 50,055 words and when I tried to validate it on NaNo, the word count came out as 49,985. So I needed to add in some more words. I don’t know how that worked out. Now Word says I have 50,100-something, but NaNo says I have 50,067. I don’t understand it, but whatever–I hit 50k!

As much as I love NaNo, I am so relieved that it is over. I did enjoy writing the short stories because I didn’t have to commit to one story and I was able to get ideas for new novels. However, I did miss writing a novel. Or, I should say, I missed writing Detective Florence. I didn’t think I would since I was begging for a break from it, but once I was away from it for the first week, I started to really miss the characters and such.

So, now that NaNo is officially over (for me, technically not for the month), I decided that I’m going to go back to working on my edits for Detective Florence 2. Then I’ll outline the third novel, write the third novel, and then it’ll be all editing all the time. I’m excited to work with George and Lilah again.

If you’ve won NaNo, congrats! If you haven’t yet, keep going! The end is near!

Fire And Ice

I wrote almost 3,000 words this morning. My NaNo word count is now 45,050. The end is near… it’s so close, but it’s so far away. I only have another 5,000 more words to write and then I’ll finally beat NaNo.

I have to say that NaNo didn’t go as well as I thought it would. My original plan was to write 1,000-word short stories so that come December I could expand and edit each story. In the end, I would have a decent collection of short stories that I thought I may or may not publish.

Some had potential to be decent short stories. Others I couldn’t see going very far. Most of them I’m keeping as back-ups for Short Story Sunday. Some of the short stories, as I’ve stated in other posts, have the potential to be something bigger than a short story.

For example, I am currently on part ten of something I called Fire and Ice. It’s a cliched title with a cliched pairing. However, it seems to be coming along quite nicely.

I don’t understand where the idea came from (or where it’s going to go for that matter), but it’s basically about two best friends who, on their 18th birthday, discover they have fire and ice powers. The girl, Joan, has the power of fire and the boy, Grant, has the power of ice.

There is a prophecy (I didn’t write this part as of yet, but the idea has been in my head since I wrote the first part) that states that both has a potential evil inside them. In order to kill this evil inside them, they must kill the other. In other words, if Grant wants to rid of the evil inside him, he needs to kill Joan or Joan would have to kill Grant. Like I said, they’re best friends so you can only imagine how devastated they are going to be when they hear this prophecy.

In the end, will Grant kill Joan? Will Joan kill Grant? Will they both decide to stay friends and allow the evil to overcome both of them? Wouldn’t that be an interesting sight… the two protagonists become the antagonists and run amok together.

I don’t know too much about this story idea, but I keep developing it in my head as I continue to write the parts for NaNo. It’s definitely an idea worth writing down to try to develop into a novel at a later time.

I am still going to start working on my Detective Florence series again once I hit 50k words and NaNo is over, so if I do work on Fire and Ice it won’t be for a long while. I’m sure I’ll be jotting down notes and ideas here and there, but what do you guys think of the potential new novel idea?

Short Story Sunday #32

STRANGERS IN A CAFE

            Two men entered Latte Caffeine. One wore a baseball cap announcing his favorite baseball team to the public with an oversized brown sweatshirt. His jeans were baggy with a few rips and tears down his legs. His sneakers were dirty, his left shoe missing a lace. His head was bent down as he looked at his smart phone, both thumbs dancing across the touch screen.

The other man wore a pressed baby blue button-down shirt that was tucked into what looked like brand new jeans. His black shoes shined brightly as though they were brand new. His hands were stuffed into his jeans pockets as he swayed in line looking at the back of the person’s head in front of him.

It was easy to guess which one cared more about what was going on.

“So my wife just texted me asking what I want for dinner tonight,” the disheveled man stated, “what do I want?”

The other man stood in front of him shrugging his shoulders. He didn’t bother to turn his head to look back.

“Josh, stop thinking. You know that’s just going to make you feel worse.” His friend put his phone into his sweatshirt pocket.

“I’m thinking about what drink I want to order.” Josh scoffed looking over his shoulder. “I am not nervous.”

“You seem pretty nervous to me; especially since you order the exact same drink every time we come here.”

“Maybe I want to switch things up this time.” Josh scratched the back of his ear. He took a step forward in the line once someone ordered their drink and stepped out of line.

“Randy…” Josh scowled.

“I’m just saying.” Randy smirked and chuckled.

They waited in line in silence after that. Randy looked all around the café with a smile on his face soaking in his surroundings. Josh was fixated on the menu studying it even though he knew what he was going to order.

When the lady in front of Josh started ordering her drink, Josh turned his head to look at all the people sitting in the café. An older couple was sitting on the couch by the fire sipping on their coffee while sharing a cupcake. A woman was sitting at a nearby table with a large coffee typing away on her Dell computer. Two women and a man were sitting at another table having breakfast and catching up with one another.

There were two empty tables one in front of the other that Josh eyed. He turned around and opened his mouth to say something to Randy, but a voice interrupted him.

“Excuse me?”

Josh turned around and gaped at the cashier in front of him.

“You’re next. What can I get for you?” he asked.

“Oh, uh,” Josh could hear Randy snickering behind him, but Josh did his best to ignore his friend. “I’ll just have a small peppermint mocha, please.”

He handed the cashier a five dollar bill, took his change and stepped out of line.

“Medium mocha frap, please,” Randy stated immediately once Josh stepped out of line.

Josh received his drink and waited for Randy to get his.

“Are you ready? You seem to be really distracted.” Randy questioned in all seriousness. He took his drink winking at the barista.

“I’m fine,” Josh sighed. “Where do you want to sit?”

Randy glanced back and forth between the two tables, both sitting next to a window. Each table had one chair at the ends seating two people to a table. He shrugged his shoulders and finally pointed to the left one.

Josh nodded and sat down at the table on their right. He sat in the chair facing the door of the café. Randy sat down at the left table facing Josh at the other table.

Without another word, Randy took out his phone and started playing a game. Josh held his coffee in both hands gazing out the window. His foot tapped nervously on the ground. After a few minutes, he heard the door to the café open. He straightened his back and stared at the door.

A blonde woman entered. She was petite, but tall with her black high-heeled boots on. Her jeans were dark with a bright yellow blouse. She clutched her handbag tightly as she looked around the café. She stepped in line and ordered her drink right away, as there was no one in line anymore.

“Small peppermint mocha, please,” she ordered.

Josh smiled.

She grabbed her drink and scanned the café with her eyes once more.

“Uh, Gabrielle?” Josh slowly stood up from his chair and raised his hand a little above his head.

“Joshua?” The woman walked towards him.

“Josh,” he nodded sticking out his hand.

“Gabby,” she smiled shaking his hand.

Randy looked up and put away his phone in his pocket. He smiled and gave Josh a thumb-up from behind Gabby’s back as she sat down at Josh’s table. Gabby was good looking and Randy approved so far. Josh tried not to look at him.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Gabby’s voice shook as she spoke.

“My pleasure,” Josh chuckled. He scratched the back of his head and glanced out the window.

“Are you as nervous as I am?” Gabby wondered.

“Is it that obvious?” Josh blushed.

“A little, but I think it’s cute.” Gabby took a sip of her coffee and tapped her fingers on the side of the cup.

“So,” Josh cleared his throat, “according to your profile you like to read?”

“Fantasy all the way.” Gabby nodded with a smile.

“I read a little bit of everything, but fantasy is my favorite too. What is your favorite book?” Josh leaned forward intrigued.

Gabby laughed out loud. “Ask me what my least favorite is. That is a much shorter list.”

Josh laughed at her joke while Randy rolled his eyes. He took another swig of his coffee and peeked inside it. He should have gotten a large.

Short Story Sunday #31

Start with: The hurricane neared…

            The hurricane neared and I was at the house all alone. Both of my parents were at their respective jobs, my older sister was at her boyfriend’s house, and my little brother was at his friend’s house. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I didn’t want to be alone, but there was nothing I could do about it.

The news on the TV was telling everyone to stay inside no matter where they were. Both my parents worked third shift, so they weren’t due home until the morning, anyway. By then the hurricane would (hopefully) be over. My sister called and told me that she was just going to sleep over her boyfriend’s house because she didn’t want to drive in the rain. I asked her to try to come home since her boyfriend didn’t live far away and the rain was not yet bad enough for her to stay off the road. Of course, she told me no because mom and dad would never let her sleep over her boyfriend’s house. This was the perfect excuse to spend the night with him.

I called my little brother to make sure that he was still at his friend’s house or if his friend’s mother was going to try to drive him home. He too was going to spend the night with his friend because they were too afraid to go out in the rain. That was okay with me. He wouldn’t have been able to comfort me if I got nervous with the storm, anyway. As long as I knew where he was and who he was with, that was fine by me.

Now what was I going to do?

A flash of lightning shone through the blinds and a clap of thunder roared immediately after. I pulled back the curtain and gazed out the window. The rain was beating hard against the window pane. It was hard to see out the window with the water droplets covered the glass and the rain was coming down so heavy that it looked foggy outside. However, I was able to tell that the street was beginning to flood. As a pick-up truck drove by, he caused a large tidal wave into my yard and the house across the street; and he couldn’t have been driving more than two miles an hour.

I closed the blinds and draped the curtains closed in every window in the house as I turned on all the lights in the house. It was only six o’clock in the evening in the middle of July. Usually it looked as though it was only two in the afternoon, but between the rain and the dark clouds rolling overhead, it looked as though it was nine o’clock at night.

I sat on the floor in the middle of the living room next to my golden retriever. I brought my two cats into the room with us and they lay next to me and the dog. All three of them slept as I sat up staring at the windows. I could still see bits of lightning coming through the windows and I could hear the thunder and rain pouring down as thought it was right above my head inside the house.

I heard a sudden crack and the lights in the house turned off. The animals didn’t stir, but I jumped from freight. I took another peek out the window and noticed that it wasn’t just my house that lost power, but the entire street. Everything was dark; the houses, the streetlights, and all. I closed the curtain yet again, turning on the flashlight app on my phone.

I rummaged through some drawers in the cabinet in the living room. I grabbed all the candles I had in the house and lit them all. I placed three in the bathroom, a few in all the other rooms in the house, and about ten in the living room along with the flashlight on my phone.

With the dim candlelight in the house and the mixed scents of Christmas Cookie, Wedding Day, Autumn Leaves, and more, I sat back down in the middle of the floor in between my still sleeping pets and twiddled my thumbs. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t want to use any electronics since I wouldn’t be able to charge them again. There wasn’t enough light to read a book. I was just going to have to sit it out. It would all be over by the morning.

Hopefully.

Words: 758

Modified from “The Write-Brain Workbook” by Bonnie Neubauer

Short Story Sunday #30

Start with: I once asked…

            I once asked him if he was ever going to be happy in his relationship. From what I could tell, he didn’t seem to be very smitten with his current girlfriend. I had liked him for a while, but I was too slow in asking him out. Now he was dating some floozy for the past two years and every time he spoke of her, he was never too thrilled. He never seemed to be in a good mood after seeing her.

I wanted to ask him if he thought he and I would be a better match, but I could never get the words out. Despite him being happy or unhappy with his girlfriend, it was not fair of me to ask such a question. I didn’t want to be the reason for them breaking up. I didn’t want to be the “other woman.” Plus, if he didn’t like me back, I didn’t want my heart to break more than it already was. I didn’t want to lose the hope that we would maybe eventually get together.

They were always together. Of course, that was because his girlfriend planned everything out. She knew when they were going to see each other and for how long. Each day was written out in perfect detail except for the dates. That was where he could come in and she would put him in charge of planning those because he was “the boyfriend” and he was the one who “had to pay.” It made perfect sense in her eyes. It didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t think it made any sense to him, either, but there was no telling what he thought. As I said, they were together for two years so I didn’t know if he was too afraid to break up with her or if he actually enjoyed their relationship.

So, I once asked him if he was ever going to be happy in his relationship. It took him a little while to respond as his blue eyes sparkled glancing up at the ceiling deep in thought. His chocolate brown hair shined in the florescent light, his cologne wafted through the air, and his soft thin thumbs twiddled together in his lap.

“I don’t know,” he finally replied with a long sigh and a shrug of his strong, broad shoulders.

They’re married now. I don’t know how he puts up with her and I’m not sure how she convinced him to propose. However, all hope of us getting together is gone. Now all I can hope for is a divorce.

Words: 431

Modified from “The Write-Brain Workbook” by Bonnie Neubauer

Short Story Sunday #29

Start with: If I could stop…

            If I could stop time, now would be the perfect time to do it.

I had been waiting for this moment for years. All of my hard work had finally paid off. From working at a dead-end part-time job to save money only for it to all disappear within the month due to bills and other things. It was extremely difficult to save money when your income was just about the same amount as your expenses.

I didn’t have to worry about that problem anymore, though. As I was sitting among the crowd I realized that this was one less expense that I was going to have to worry about. I was going to have more time so I would be able to get a full-time job; and a decent one, at that. I would be making more money without the biggest expense of all, so I would be able to pay my bills and still have money left over to do what I pleased.

I would be able to go out with my friends, go out to dinner if I didn’t feel like cooking… heck, I could buy regular food at the grocery store and cook healthy meals instead of having instant noodles all the time. I would have money to spare for gas for my car so I could visit my family more often. If I wanted to read a book for fun, I could go to the bookstore and have enough money to buy 50 books!

That was something else I was looking forward to: money aside, I was now going to have more free time to do whatever I wanted. I could read books for fun now, I could hang out with my friends, and I could even lie on the couch and watch TV all day long in my pajamas!

So when they called my name, I walked on stage—holding up my gown so I didn’t trip—and took my Master’s degree from the dean. My family and friends cheered in one section of the auditorium and I stood on stage waving and smiling.

All the attention was on me and I didn’t want to have it any other way. I had worked so hard to make it this far.

I had finally graduated.

Words: 380

Modified from “The Write-Brain Workbook” by Bonnie Neubauer

Short Story Sunday #28

Start with: If you must know…

            “If you must know, I am the woman in charge of this place. You fellows are pretty lucky that I happened to walk by the security room and saw your faces plastered all over the cameras. Do you know what security does to intruders? Security detains them, call the cops, and then the intruders get arrested. Do you know why that happens? Because I told them to do it that way. Do you realize that by having security bring you to my office, I’m breaking my own rules?”

The three men all had their jaws dropped to the floor. They exchanged looks of puzzlement to one another, but none of them spoke. They didn’t even dare to look me in the eye.

I glared at them. “Well?

“We sort of… got lost, I guess you could say. We didn’t even know you worked here, Rebecca. Alan, Shawn, and I were just roaming around until we came across this building. We didn’t think anyone was around.”

“Well, you thought wrong, Matt.” I sighed and rummaged through the things on my desk. I picked up a stack of binders and handed them to Alan. “Hold this; I need a figure out a place to put them. My shelves are so full that I don’t have any room to put anything anymore.”

“Uh,” Alan held out his arms as I dropped four heavy 5-inch binders in his possession. His knees buckled from the weight, but he managed to stay standing.

“You guys owe me big time, you know that? Sit down.” I continued my lecture as all three of them obeyed sitting down on my leather couch on the opposite side of the room.

“Do you know what people are going to think of me? They’re going to think I choose favorites.” I sighed.

“You’re not choosing favorites, though. It’s not like we work here and you’re taking our side when we were in the wrong.” Shawn shrugged his shoulders.

“I mean intruder-wise.” I scoffed.

“But you know us. We’re your friends. Anyone would want to help out their friends. If we were strangers, then you wouldn’t have given us a second glance.” Shawn explained further.

A knock came at my office door. “Now what?” I growled. “Yes, come in.”

“Is everything alright in here?”

“Yes, everything is fine, Lyle. These three are friends of mine who came to visit. They just didn’t know how to get into the building. It was a mistake. Get back to work.” I dismissed the head of security with a wave of my hand.

He dipped his head backing out of my office and shut the door.

I cleared off one of the shelves in the closet and placed those binders and notebooks in a filing cabinet. I grabbed the binders out of Alan’s hands and fit those onto the shelves.

“What is all of this, anyway?” Matt questioned as his eyes scanned the room. Alan shook out his arms now that he didn’t have the weight anymore.

“It’s my office, I told you that.” I sat back down at my desk, turned on my laptop, and opened my planner to the next month. I flipped through the pages, while jotting down some notes in that and on my iPad.

“What do you do here? We didn’t realize you had a… job.” Matt cleared his throat.

I chuckled. “Writing is my job, you know that. I volunteer here.”

“So you don’t get paid to be here, even though you seem to be obnoxiously busy and are in charge in everything.” Shawn raised an eyebrow skeptically.

“I created this place for writers. It’s a big writer’s group for people of all ages. We have security because of the high technology we use here.” I explained. “Plus, there are a lot of writers here who have made big bucks on their novels.”

“How come you’ve never told us about this place before?” Alan wondered. He was now wandering around the room looking at all the notebooks, binders, and books on the shelves.

“I have never told anyone about this place before. Other than these people, I don’t have anyone to discuss writing with. What do you think my friends and family would say if I told them I ran a large community for writers?” I looked up from my laptop as the printer turned on itself and started to spit out documents and articles.

“We would have understood.” Matt nodded his head looking to Shawn and Alan, who agreed with him.

I grabbed a few empty file folders from a cabinet and brought them back over to my desk. “You guys thought this was my job because you didn’t know I had one; even though I am a published author that pays my bills and more.” I took some papers out of the printer and sorted through them, stapling them together and storing them into the folders.

Alan, Matt, and Shawn stared at each other in silence. They hung their heads and didn’t say another word.

I smirked at them, but didn’t dare to explain any further. If I didn’t have any friends or family to support me and my writing, then I needed to find supporters myself and that was through creating a writers group.

Of course, seeing the guilty expressions on their faces, I was sure that they were going to be asking about my writing more often. Maybe they would even read one of my books.

Words: 910

Modified from “The Write-Brain Workbook” by Bonnie Neubauer

I Want To Write

Now that I’ve officially decided what I want to write for NaNo, I’m more excited than ever to get started. Of course, NaNo is still eight days away. It seems so far away, but it’s actually right around the corner. November will arrive before we know it, but I feel as though next week is going to drag at the same time.

Now that I have a new idea, I think I’ve got my muse back and I just want to write all the time and actually have the motivation to do so. It’s a good thing I finished my homework for this week so I can come home from work today and just write.

Tomorrow is Saturday so Kris and I will be going to Barnes and Noble. I’m going to bring Lucy and bang out a few Short Story Sundays. That way I don’t have to worry about trying to write those and my NaNo at the same time next month. Plus, I’m hoping that will get my creative flow going to prepare for NaNo’s short stories to come.

I already came up with two ideas, but I don’t know how they’re going to unfold. I’m just going to let the characters figure it out themselves. I just know how each story is going to begin and that’s it for now. It will sure be interesting.

Again, NaNo is eight days away… eight more days….

New Idea

By the title of this post alone you’re probably groaning saying, “she changed her mind again…?” Yes, I did change my mind again!

Kris and I were discussing writing last night as she filled up a notebook and I… haven’t written anything in a while. So, we were discussing the upcoming NaNo session, writing in general, publishing, etc. This is what I explained to Kris:

I decided to write a novel that was a brand new idea about two college students and writing. I’ve realized whenever I get stuck on my writing I end up writing about writing. Yet if it beats the writer’s block, then why not? The thing is, I’m not really all that into the idea anymore. I still like the idea and will keep it in mind in case I ever want to try it again.

However, I had to read the first half of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien for school this week. I read it in two days and now I’m back on a fantasy high. So I thought of writing Saving Time. There are two things wrong with that. One, it’s the kind of story that needs to be outlined. I have many ideas for it and there are a lot of characters and places in the story. It’s not something I can free write or else editing will be a pain and I’ll most likely lose the main idea. Two, I started it in a notebook and I would like to finish it in my notebook. If for whatever reason I can’t get to a computer, I can still work on a novel. I know some people hand write for NaNo and I love that; kudos to all of you, but I don’t have the time to hand write 50,000 words and then type those 50,000 words to validate it. I might as well sit at my computer and bang out 100,000 words if I can. So, Saving Time is out.

The first draft of my story chapter is due next week for my Fiction class. I’m going to submit the first chapter of Detective Florence. Of course, we all know I decided to take a break from that series and now that I have to focus on the one chapter I’m beginning to realize that I miss writing that series. I still have the third novel to write, but like Saving Time, it needs to be outlined. If I don’t outline it, I’ll be stuck and the series will lose its main idea. So that’s out.

You guys are probably thinking that I’m coming up with too many excuses, but trust me; I’m not good at pantsing. I free write every once in a while, but I need that outline for the most part; especially since I recently discovered a great way to outline that works for me.

So, what am I going to write? Kris and I were discussing my Short Story Sunday and then…

Eureka

I realized what I should write for NaNo. I should write short stories. That way I can write about anything I want, any genre I want. Plus, I think the variety of stories will help me get over my writer’s block. I haven’t been able to write in so long that it’s gotten to the point that my brain isn’t used to it anymore and I’m indecisive about it all.

Plus, it will certainly be interesting to see how well I do within a certain amount of pages/words. We all know I tend to babble on, so if an idea sparks it just might end up turning into a novella… but I think it would be cool to have a collection of short stories at the end of the month. It’s something different. It’ll be a nice change of pace for myself.

I’m excited about it whereas I wasn’t too thrilled with my old idea. So I think I have a better chance at winning now that my enthusiasm has come back.