Count, Down

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Amelia stared at the remains of her yarn basket contents now shredded, pulled, destroyed, with bits of unidentifiable ick mixed in for good measure. The kids promised to put all of the crafting supplies away before breakfast.

“4, 3, 2, 1! Step right up or all is done!”

She put her hands on her hips and listened for the pitter patter of panicked feet or the mournful moans of a munckin in misery nearby. With neither forthcoming, she repeated the warning then started her search.

Amelia found the old feline curled up under the furthest corner of the bed.

“Count, Count, Count. How many times are we going to play this game?” Amelia shimmied under the bed as far as she could go and began to coax the gray and white cat. The fact that he didn’t claw her worried her.

“I suspect you found something the kids left behind, huh?” She sighed. Last thing she wanted to do was go to the vet. But, if Count was down, she had no choice.

Sunday Slow Start

Cover of a yet-to-be-titled NaNo Project by Tam Borgia

Well, just squeaked by to the necessary word count of the day. Not the doubled (or tripled) total I had hoped. However, it is a start.

A wonderfully social Sunday that included following along and participating in NaNoWriMo’s Double-Up Day, a chance to lead a mid-day kick-off session for a few who dropped by, and leading my first ever NaNoWordSprints session (SUCH ducky fun!!).

Good news, I’ve a start and a snippet. First, the start:

Tennyson Swan gripped his worn coffee tumbler, in part preservation of the last perfectly brewed cup of coffee, and part reflex as he read who sent him the over-stuffed envelope.

It was just another name for trouble.

And now (thanks to Syaffolee’s sprint sessions) a snippet:

(Warning, I am not exactly a linear writer – I’m a Plantser, after all!)

Tennyson led Roland to the boxed-filled living room, grabbed a worn, patched-up duffle bag from the far corner. “I keep the valuable stuff in here.”

“Of course, you would,” Roland said. He removed a cloth bundle from the side. “What’s this?”

“It’s a math book from the 30’s. Nothing special.”

Roland removed the many handkerchiefs used to wrap it. The faded dark green cover fared better than the text. Surprisingly, the scent of it was not the moldy or mildewy smell he would expect. The corners were frayed, and the edges of the pages darken by smudges of pencil markings. Other than that, it looked fairly dull.

Roland thumbed through the pages filled with notes, answers, and other markings. “This is what that dufus is annoyed about?”

Tennyson sighed. “It’s childish to keep it, I suppose. Maybe things wouldn’t have been so problematic.”

Roland stared at him. “Say that again?”

“It’s childish to-.”

Roland shook his head. “The second part. Repeat the second part.”

Tennyson’s eyes grew large as he came to the same conclusion as his older brother. “Maybe things wouldn’t have been so problematic.”

Two Sides, One Coin

(Today’s snippet from Swim, Swan, Swim is inspired by the One-Minute Writer and the Daily Prompt.)

Kai Addison stared at the latest postcard from her brother, conflicting emotions a perfect fit to the playful fighting between two of her children outside.

She chose to teach her children at home, all of the topics that were deemed ‘unnecessary’ in school – music, art, physical education (dodge ball included!), and penmanship. She missed her own school days when there was time for the non-tested topics and plenty of time for play. Now…

And where was Tennyson? This time in Rome, fixing his Italian as broken as the Coliseum; helping students strengthen their English better than the Leaning Tower. It wouldn’t be long before he probably wandered on to some place new.

Kai Addison taught to offer her children the stars. Their uncle seemed fit to travel just as far.

Their love of language, of words, kept them together. For that, she knew she hadn’t lost her brother. Yet.

Monday Motive

Thanks goes to Winney, aka SnoValley Hobbit, aka the wonderful Vicky Bastedo for this prompt:

Give us one of your descriptive paragraphs that set the tone, illuminate the world or a character’s idiosyncrasy.

He did not like not knowing what was going on, the hushed whispers behind closed doors when they thought he was asleep, the garage door closing but no sound of a car, the late night talk show hosts sounding louder, not funnier, on the television below. It got worse after Kai Addison’s parents died, the grown-ups saying they were not old enough to understand. Curled up in the cupboard, his father’s coat wrapped around his shoulders like a blanket, cup of hot chocolate in hand, Tennyson strained to hear what the after-dinner talk contained.

-years later-

It became harder and harder for him to find a hiding place, especially after giving the best ones to his sister. The one place remaining, that she respectfully never asked about nor sought – as far as he knew – was the cupboard once in the dining room, now in the garage.

The formal room became a second visiting room, used now for book club meetings, poker nights, planning hunting trips and the once a month checking writing nights for bills. Other changes happened throughout the house over the years, but the formal turned informal was the most uncomfortable for the teen.

Tennyson wasn’t running away from the possible responsibilities, not that he would be asked to participate. His parents knew he had a busy schedule – the times gone at least, not how they were spent. He had his own monetary obligations and escapes. The only games he cared for were the ones he and Kai played late at night when neither could sleep. And his book club…

The cupboard was the only place he could fold himself into to finish the book of poems Lydia loaned him, without worrying about his mother finding him or his father hounding him. (Honestly, the man should have realized that Tennyson would never stay in his room if was expected to be found so easily for something as stupid as stringing worms on a hook just to sit by a stream to shiver and suffer for nothing.

No, Tennyson quite preferred Longfellow and Wordsworth. He even enjoyed Cisneros, Hughes and MacKellar. No, he loved MacKellar, especially “The Open Sea.” He longed to find that kind of freedom someday, to cross whatever sea to be found.

Balancing the cup of tea and book on his knee, shoulder and neck keeping the flashlight in place, Tennyson twisted his arm about to feel for the world map he folded and tucked away between the boots never worn and the broken umbrellas never tossed.  Unable to find it, he panicked.

He gave up his search at the sound of his sister’s voice. The coast had to be clear for her to call.

Securing what stayed in the cupboard, Tennyson carefully crawled out; his back popping as he stood straight. He closed the door just as Kai opened the garage door from the house.

“You hide in there?”

He shrugged. “What? It’s bigger on the inside.”

-What does this say about Tennyson? What drives him to want to run away, to be unseen? Was it really the ‘grown-up talks’ overheard or something else? He is a restless soul, swimming in search of  or running away from something.

Friday Ficlet

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It’s amazing what happens when one sets a timer before bed to just write. No web wandering, book borrowing, game gathering, LO lulling – just writing. Granted, “Write or Die” helped…

“You look downright ragged,” Kai Addison said, gesturing to her boys to take their uncle’s bags. “What, did you forget to get a decent sleeper car like you promised? Settled for a broken chair?”

He rubbed his eyes. “Given the scenery, who could sleep? The ride through Portland was spectacular. We could all go sometime. Not that far of a journey really. Takes you right along the coast in some spots, too.”

“And what reason would we have to go to Portland? Not the Rose Festival; Lucas’ allergies. Not basketball. No one wins like the Sonics did. And not baseball.”

“Oh, I don’t know. There is a lot to do there, Sis. The library, the arts. That one band you like has a show coming up in a few weeks.”

“Probably sold out,” she told him.

“Actually, yeah.” He made a sorrowful face, one she immediately interpreted to mean the opposite.

“What did you do Tenny?” She buckled Madison into the car seat even as the youngster insisted she could do it herself. The boys knew better than to fight for the seat behind their uncle, each child thankfully grabbing their chosen reading material before strapping in.

“Tenny,” she asked again.

“Played the lotto.” He leaned against the window, hair in his face, looking as though he might fall asleep as soon as Kai turned the engine. “Played the lotto and won. What do you say, Kai? Wanna go see ‘em? We could catch up with Lydia and the kids can have their fun and-.”

“Garcia? The first girlfriend you said wasn’t a girlfriend? She’s married. You’ll die at the hands of her husband. Didn’t she marry a football player?”

“Lydia? With a football player? Don’t be stupid! She’s smart, a genius. She married a music major.”

“A music major that would give you a proper tuning, I’m sure!” While Kai didn’t care what time Tenny came in, she regretted the fact that construction projects, not rush hour, would slow their way home away from the city. “I don’t know. Lucas might have to work that weekend, whichever weekend it is and-.”

Tenny yawned. “At least ask him first. Maybe we’ll be lucky and it will be a proper holiday for you guys. You became a more problematic workaholic than I first imagined. What happened to you?”

“Family,” she said. She smiled, seeing her three children engrossed in their words. It was as if they were a small bee’s nest, waiting, humming, before exploding with the rapid fire questions that always came about whenever their favorite uncle came home.

Wednesday Mischief

So, what happens when one finally gets to escape to an evening at Writers’ Cafe when sleep would have been logical?

A word war that involves the challenge of including the words “pizza” and “soar.”

Tennyson hummed as he stuffed things into his backpack, including the script needed for the read through in the park. He loved ‘Wordy Wednesdays.’ The hours alternated between one-act plays- right now J.M. Barrie, and various poems from Wordsworth, Longfellow and the Bard.

He didn’t mind the times when someone brought in a piece from one of the foreign language classes. Granted, his ability to speak without stumbling in some of them irritated him. Kai was fluent in tongues he never believed he would ever master. Then again, he was great with gibberish.

Tennyson continued getting dressed, trying to straighten his tie in the mirror as he sang. “If the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s a-,”

“Migraine,” Kai hollered out from down the hall, their code word for ‘shut-up’ or ‘warning.’  If their parents were home, one of them would have reprimanded the teens for yelling, but they left to go east of mountains for the day hour ago. She stood in his doorway in no time, hair pulled back in a ponytail, backpack on her shoulder already. “Honestly, when Mrs. O. said let your voice soar, I don’t think that’s what she meant. Oh, no. A tie? Tenny, Tenny, Tenny…don’t tell me you fell in love again? Which witch should I be ready to-?”

He sighed. “I’m not aiming to be a Casanova or the heartbreak kid, Kai.” He turned to her for a quick inspection.

“You’re just trying to make up your mind on who to ask to the dance?” She shook her head, indicating the tie was wrong. “Keep it up, Mom and Dad will have gray hair before we start junior year.”

“Who says they don’t already? Cover for me?” He held up the two remaining choices, not surprised when Kai indicated the blue.

She set her bag down and readied the tie so he could just slip it over his head. “From the folks? Only if you work double-shift at the shop on Saturday for me.”

“Deal.”