photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In the Meantime, Here's a Tiny Excerpt

So I'm taking a few classes at the junior college.

I need 18 college hours of business management type classes in order for me to then study and sit for a test that will put letters after my name and allow me the freedom of doing some consulting work in addition to my regular job. That means security, and a type of insurance. So I'm doing it.

Signed up for college where I've never been and have 2 classes this summer and will attempt 4 in the fall to be done and over with it. I'm 53 years old and terrified. Well, maybe not terrified; more like befuddled.

Anyway. I'll try to keep up with my blogging and my social networking for my books, but have already fallen behind in less than a week so no promises.

I'm assuming I'll also be setting aside the very new story I'm working on but I'm really going to try to keep my hand in that because I've started it and now I want to know where it's going to go.

So here's a tiny preview of it- I'm hoping if I put it here, it'll spur me to keep going even in the face of 'Principles of Management' and 'Principles of Marketing' which are apparently going to be my summer companions.

Like all my other stories, there's no military man armed to the teeth as the protagonist. Our hero this time is a 35 year old single mother with a 5 year old daughter. The working title is

"Unimpressive- the Inelegant Art of Just Getting By"


The leaves rustled imperceptibly. There was no wind to speak of, and the air was heavy with heat.

Fireflies flickered on and off, on and off in a never-ending cacophony of complex communication that only looked like the worlds’ tee-tiniest fireworks.

Suddenly, as if on cue, they stopped and the night was black velvet pierced by static stars, the back drop awaiting the actors’ next scene.

For years people had said, half-jokingly, that Mother Earth would one day just shake us off like so many fleas; shake off the parasites that had pestered her and prodded her and drained her and sullied her.

For years there had been warnings- more storms, more droughts, more fires and more floods. More tornadoes in alleys that weren’t tornado alley, more hurricanes that weren’t following the usual hurricane routes. The weather was shifting and the planet couldn’t adapt quickly enough.

Thunder rumbled in the distance in menace or warning. Or both.

Shayla sat on her porch, rocking and watching the fireflies.

The house was quiet; Athalie had gone to bed and through the open window Shayla heard the air quietly entering and exiting her daughter’s lungs. She saw in her mind’s eye the rise and fall of the light summer quilt, golden brown hair streaming haphazardly across the pillow, one set of pink-painted toes peeking out from the bottom of the covers, the other foot firmly resting on Olive, who snored in rhythm with Athalie’s breathing.

Olive had been dumped by the side of the road. Athalie had been playing outside and heard the car stop up on the bridge, heard the pitiful ‘yipe’ followed by the squeal of tires as they easily outpaced the puppy running after them; so sure there had been a mistake- any minute now they’d realize it and come back.

Running to the road, visions of what would happen if another car came along or if the pup lost its footing on the bridge blocked out any punishment she’d be given for venturing outside their gate. With a radar reserved for mothers and other youngsters, Athalie picked out the tiny ball of dirt-colored fur huddled miserably in the weeds, scooped her up against her chest and high-tailed it back to the house.

Her hope was that there was some rule (like the rule about food dropped on the floor) that lightened the punishment if you were up on the road for less than five seconds. And she hoped for extra points for saving a life.

Shayla just sighed and shook her head. She didn’t have to pretend to be angry about Athalie being on the road by herself; that made her very angry and anxious, and she told Athalie so. But she understood why she did it. She would’ve done it herself today at age 35, or thirty years ago at age 5.

Olive turned out to be a dog of many heritages- part spaniel, part terrier, part hound, part retriever, all heart; and 100% of that heart belonged to Athalie.

“Olive? Why would you name a dog ‘Olive’? You don’t even like olives”.

“Why not?”

There was no arguing with this reasoning because “why not?” was the primary driver of their lives.

When Shayla had announced that she was buying up a little piece of land with no more than a deer camp lease shack on it (calling it a ‘cabin’ would’ve been a huge compliment) her friends and family were appalled.

She had a lovely apartment in town, close to work and all the comforts of a civilized life- movie theaters, grocery stores, restaurants, the mall. There was covered parking, they reminded her- reserved covered parking.

“Why would you give all that up to go live in the woods like a hillbilly?”

“Why not?”

She had tried once to explain it in more than those two words to one of her co-workers; to explain how it made her head hurt to not ever be somewhere quiet, made her eyes hurt to not ever be somewhere dark, made her heart hurt to not ever be somewhere surrounded only by nature no matter which window she looked out of.

He had looked at her like she was kidding him, the start of a smile on his face. When there was no punch line, he stammered something along the lines of, “Well, have fun with that” and beat a hasty retreat, making a mental note to check her name off the list of chicks he was planning on asking out.

Most folks didn’t even know about the cabin at the back of their place.

Their closest friends knew about it and assumed that it was a pastime, a hobby, a type of weekend getaway for them…like a treehouse.

No one would’ve dreamed that they lived there full time.

But why not?

When they’d divorced, Shayla had given up the big screen TV without so much as a raised eyebrow- she never watched it anyway.

She and Athalie made up stories and acted out plays and read books either out on the porch or sitting on the high pine needle-cushioned creek bank while dragonflies wove invisible webs in the air.

If company came out, which was a rare occurrence in the winter without the ready comfort of central heat and an absolute non-event in the summer since there wasn’t air conditioning in either structure and most people thought they would die without it, they did whatever entertaining they did from the shack on the front of the property.

The one with the electricity and flush toilet.

And the refrigerator. Shayla stood up and considered whether or not she was thirsty enough for a cold drink to traipse the few hundred feet through the deep woods in the dark for the pitcher of sweet tea that she’d left in the shack.

The thunder rumbled again, closer and more threatening.

No, she decided; perhaps a drink from the pitcher of water on the kitchen counter would be just fine.

She went into the house and the rocking chair eerily kept rocking for a few minutes, first from the momentum of her getting up, and then from the breeze catching it just right. Finally it slowed and then stopped.

Looked like a storm brewing.

Shayla latched the door even though she knew no one was out there.

Remember- two other stories with nontraditional but believable heroes are "Almost Invisible- a Different Kind of Survival Story" and "American Evolution- Adolescence of a Nation". Also "CancerDance- a love story" which stars my own real hero as the main character.

All available from various sources and in various formats
as seen here --->

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