Tag Archive | gratitude

NaNoWriMo – TGIO

Thank Goodness/Goddess/God It’s Over for another year. I started two novels and wrote a short story to complete my 50K and now I’ve got material to play with.

It’s a funny process. Writing that many words. Since my day job requires writing, it’s not really a stretch to write that many words in a month. Except that they are not all in one main document and they are not (usually) fiction. So fifty thousand words of fiction, many of them related to other words, written in my spare time, is a pretty good start on something.

The first attempt at a novel went well for a week and a half and then I lost interest in them and left them in the woods. Then I had a short story idea that came in and I sat with it for a week and it moved nicely and resolved. And I still had quite a bit of wordage left to go before the month ended. As I typed continuously waiting for the muse to come back, a second novel started working its way through to my fingers. It expanded to fill my remaining time (and word count). Now, I just need to keep it moving even though there is no longer the pressure of a deadline.

For purists, such attempts would not count, since they are not all part of the same novel. However, writing that many words in a month is not an easy task and the muse is often fickle. The whole point is to write without editing and to let it flow. So if they don’t end up in the same place in the end, who cares? I am happy to have them.

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Short Story – Luisa

Story prompt: The story’s protagonist is male and a toymaker. A sceptre plays a significant part in the story. The story is set on a bridge in ancient times. The story is about trust.

*******

Giorgio set his bag down at his feet and looked over the parapet at the water. He wiped his brow with his handkerchief. The sun was still climbing, so he took his time, enjoying the breeze off the water.

“Excuse me, Signore.” He turned at the tap on his shoulder to find a young girl dressed in a simple frock  with an apron and wooden shoes. A scarf covered her hair.

“How can I assist you, signorina?”

Per favore, Signore, my mama is sick. I am to bring back the lemons to help her get well, but il mercante will not sell them to me. He calls me ragazza and tells me to go away. But you look kind. Will you please help me?”

What is your name, my dear?”

“Luisa, Signore. Luisa Cantone. I have the money here.” She shows him the piastras enclosed in her apron pocket.

“And where do you live with your mama, Luisa?”

“Via Veneta, Signore.”

“Very well, Luisa. Let’s go see Signor Mercante and see if we can get the lemons for your mama.” He picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder and took her hand.

As they walked, she chatted happily about her family and the many babbinos at home. Luisa was the oldest and responsible for the others. When they reached the vendor, she pointed him out.

Giorgio approached the vendor, inquired about the lemons. He chose carefully,  sniffing each one and giving it a gentle squeeze.  He made the purchase on Luisa’s behalf then he turned and handed her the lemons.

Grazie, Signore! My mother will be so happy.”  Luisa ran for home.

Smiling, Giorgio turned toward the bridge. Thud! He felt the blow on the back of his head and lost consciousness.

When he awoke with a throbbing head, the sun was low in the sky and his purse was gone. His nose and mouth were full of dirt. His bag was inside out and the contents were strewn on the ground. There were pieces everywhere. With a heavy heart he knelt to gather them. Everything appeared to be unbroken. He breathed a sigh of relief.

“Oh, Signore!” Luisa reappeared at his side.  “Are you hurt? I am so sorry.”

Giorgio stood and examined her distraught face. “Why should you be sorry, Luisa?”

“I should never have left you, Signore. Then you would have been safe.”

“But you needed to get the lemons to your mother…”

“She could have waited until I saw you safely back to the bridge. The market is not a good place for strangers. I am sorry, Signore. You helped me and I left you. It is all my fault.”  She hung her head.

“Now, now, Luisa. Please help me pick up the rest of my things and you can show me back to the bridge.”

“Oh si, si, of course, Signore. I will help you.” Luisa dropped to her knees and began to gather the contents of his bag.

Signore?”

“Yes, Luisa?”

‘What are all these things?”

“What do they look like to you, Luisa?”

She picked up a miniature cabinet and tiny belt and held them toward him.

“They look like toys, Signore.”

“Yes, Luisa. I am a toymaker.”

She continued to pick up furniture and clothing, balls and puppets. She marveled at a small doll in a green velvet dress.

“She is very beautiful, Signore.”

Si, she is very beautiful, Luisa. And she is even more beautiful with her crown,” he placed a tiny jeweled crown on the doll’s head. “And her scepter.” He placed a golden scepter in the doll’s little hand.

“Oh, Signore! She is marvelous to behold. How did you make her so perfectly? Look! She is smiling since you gave her back her things.” She turned to Giorgio in wonder.

“Shh! That is a secret.”

“But Signore, she was not smiling before and now she is. You must be a marvelous toymaker indeed.”

Si, si, Luisa. She is happy now, but it is not because of her things. If you promise not to tell, I will share her secret.”

“Si, si, Signore. I will not tell.” And then her face fell. “No. Do not tell me, Signore. I do not deserve to know. ”  She put her head down and sobbed.

“There, there, Luisa. Don’t cry.” He patted her shoulder.

“But Signore. I let you get hurt.” She sobbed harder.

“Luisa, it is mostly my pride that is hurt now.”

“But your money,” she wailed

“I have my toys. They are my treasure and my livelihood. Please, Luisa. Calm yourself.”

She continued to sniffle. He held out the tiny doll. Luisa wiped her nose on her sleeve. Her jaw dropped in wonder.

Signore, she is crying.”

“She is crying because you are crying.”

Luisa wiped her eyes and took the doll. “You are right, she is not crying any more.” And as her smile grew so did the doll’s until both were grinning from ear to ear.

“She is yours, Luisa. But…”

Luisa remained entranced by the doll’s reflection of her mood.

“But you must promise you will never lie again.”

Shocked, Luisa looked up from the doll’s face.

“If you do, she will tell on you and everyone will know.”

Luisa nodded soberly and the tiny version of Luisa in the green velvet dress with the crown and the sceptre smiled.

*******

With thanks for the story prompt to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.

What do you think? Did I honor the spirit or the letter of the writing prompt? Enter your thoughts in comments below.

Short Story – Concertgoer

Story prompt: The story’s protagonist is female and a midwife. A pair of trousers plays a significant part in the story. The story is set at a concert in the present. The story is about balance.

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Riiiiip! Damn! Why now? What was she supposed to do now? Sophia’s trousers had ripped from stem to stern as she took her seat. She had paid a lot for her ticket. By golly! She was going to enjoy this concert. She would worry about her trousers when it was over. The competing scents of expensive perfumes and men’s cologne filled the air.

The orchestra was tuning up. From her front row perch she could see into the pit. A handsome flautist was trilling and running scales. The first chair violoncello was rosining her bow. A bassist with long dark hair was practicing an intricate section. Sophia examined each member in turn trying to glean a portion of each personality from small gestures and how they prepared themselves. A violinist in the middle of the section was so methodical in his preparations she wondered how he was able to cope. Just then a clarinetist sat down next to him and interrupted his ritual by jostling his music stand and scattering the sheets to the floor. Oh my! The violinist looked like he might burst. He said nothing as he put his violin back in the case, carefully placed the bow next to it, closed and locked the case, and then proceeded to gather the music. Then she caught the eye of the clarinetist and saw the mirth. He obviously enjoyed the distress he caused to the violinist. The violinist began his ritual anew. The clarinetist could hardly contain himself, and his shoulders shook with unexpressed laughter as he put together his clarinet and placed a new reed in the mouthpiece.

Suddenly a ripple went through the orchestra and everyone hurriedly moved to be ready. The conductor walked in to the applause of the audience and bowed. Then she turned to the orchestra raised her baton to cue the first violinist. She stood and played a pure “A” which the rest of the players then used to match the tone of their instruments to hers. When the entire group was playing the same note, the conductor cut them off. The violinist took her seat.

The conductor turned to the stage and began to clap. The audience joined her as the world famous mezzo-soprano, Celeste, took the stage.  Dressed in diaphanous robes and a flowing green velvet cape with her long brown hair flowing down her back. She flowed to center stage. The set was minimally dressed with a green velvet chaise longue  and a single green velvet drape tied with a golden tassel that matched her cape. When she reached her mark, she paused and curtsied low. The audience responded enthusiastically and she smiled broadly as she stood and then centered herself.

The conductor raised her baton and cued the introduction. The orchestra began at full volume then withdrew to allow Celeste her due. She began the aria softly, tenderly, then slowly blossomed into the crescendo and softened again. When it was over, tears were streaming down Sophia’s face. It was so beautiful. The audience was on its feet, clapping and shouting “Brava!” Sophia stood with the rest, oblivious to the tear in her trousers.

Celeste curtsied again. Just as she began to rise, she suddenly crumpled to the floor with a scream. The audience slowly changed from exuberant to confused. Everyone was still on their feet and wondering what to do. The conductor ran out of the pit and around to the stairs that took her to the stage. Others converged from the wings of the stage.  Everyone running to Celeste. And suddenly, Sophia realized what had happened. She had noted Celeste’s pregnancy when she had first taken the stage. Something has happened with the baby. She could feel it. She knew it. Her years of experience as a midwife pulled her from her seat and drove her to the stage. She ran toward the fallen diva, pushing her way through the group of people who now surrounded Celeste. “I’m a midwife, let me through.” And they parted to let her approach. She knelt beside Celeste and took her left hand in hers and placed her right hand under her shoulder. In tears, Celeste turned toward the confident calming presence at her side. “My baby!” she sobbed. Sophia murmured, “Ssh, ssh, it’s okay,” as she looked into the beautiful green eyes. Celeste whispered “Help me,” and Sophia assured her that she would. “May I examine you?” Celeste nodded.

Sophia asked several nearby men to grab the drape and hold it up to create a barrier. She called to a woman to find pillows and blankets. Once the famous singer was cushioned and concealed from the crowd, Sophia pushed the cape out of the way and reaching under the multi-layered skirt, moving aside her undergarments (thank goodness the singer was too uncomfortable to wear pantyhose) and felt her way to the cervix while keeping her eyes focused on Celeste. She questioned her in a low voice, pausing to hear the answers. “Are you having pain?” “Has your water broken?” “How far apart are the contractions?” With her experienced hands and nose she knew the answers before Celeste replied. Beneath the singer’s signature perfume, Sophia could smell blood and the unique scent of amniotic fluid. She was hoping the cervix was not fully dilated until her fingers told her the truth.  Oh dear! The baby was crowning! She would have to move quickly.

Looking up into the eyes of the man across from her, Sophia ordered “Get towels, twine or rope, a sharp knife, and a cigarette lighter. This baby is coming now!”

Startled, the small huddle jumped to obey, and the requested items were quickly gathered.

“Sterilize the knife blade in the flame of the lighter and cut two lengths of twine a few inches long. Bring the towels here, we will need them to catch the baby. Is there something soft we can use as a receiving blanket?”

When everything was done to her specifications, she turned her attention back to Celeste and asked, “Are you ready?”

Celeste simply nodded. “Good,” Sophia replied,”Then get ready to push. I think you’re going to have the easiest delivery in the history of opera.”

With practiced hands, Sophia brought the baby into the world, wiped her off as best she could, checked to see that she was healthy and whole, and handed her to her mother. Someone beside Sophia assisted, handing her what she needed. Then Sophia tied off and severed the umbilical cord, and delivered the afterbirth. Someone placed a warm damp rag in her hand and held a small basin of clean warm water at her side.  She sponged everything clean.

With her tasks finished, Sophia looked at Celeste gazing into the eyes of her daughter. “I’m afraid your gown and cape are ruined.” Celeste smiled beatifically, “I’m sure my cleaners can take care of them. You have taken care of the most important part. Please tell me your name.”

“Sophia.”

“That’s perfect. Thank you, Sophia.”

Sophia moved to the side as Celeste’s retinue produced a wheelchair and packed up mother and child. With the stage clearing and the audience gone, Sophia paused to consider her situation.  Gently, a strong pair of arms placed a coat around her shoulders. Sophia turned to see a handsome gentleman with twinkling eyes and realized he was the one who had assisted with the birth.

“Would you please join me for a cup of tea?”

Sophia smiled and nodded. A cup of tea would be perfect right now.

*******

With thanks for the story prompt to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.

What do you think? Did I honor the spirit or the letter of the writing prompt? Enter your thoughts in comments below.

A Charmed Life

It’s easy to forget to be grateful. Although I try not to, it just happens sometimes. I start ranting and raving and then the reason becomes clear and I stop.  And say thank you. So recently I was reminded again that I lead a charmed life. And I am grateful.

I travel for work. I stay in hotels. Often, the hotel rooms have residual energies. Those energies seem to be attracted to me, especially while I am sleeping or attempting to sleep. I tend to talk to them and tell them exactly what I think of having my sleep interrupted.

In December, I was in San Antonio at one of the newer hotels. I gave up the Emily Morgan after the elevator trapped me for half an hour when I talked back to it. And anyone can feel the ghosts in the Crockett and Menger without even entering them. So I wasn’t expecting any encounters. Monday and Tuesday passed without incident. On Wednesday night I returned to my room about 11pm. I  noticed the note from the housekeeper thanking me for leaving a tip and realized I needed to get change. So I thought about getting a drink in the hotel lobby. When I was unable to convince anyone to join me, I turned on the television. Noting that one of my favorite programs,  NCIS, was just starting, I decided to run down to the lobby and get change and come back and enjoy some guilt-free tv watching. So I got the change, came back, changed into my nightgown and propped myself on the pillows to enjoy the show. At midnight, House came on, so I stayed up to watch. At 1am another episode of House came on and I watched most of it. When I started drifting off shortly before 2am, I turned off the tv and the lights and turned over.

At 2am I was pulled awake by the sound of something sliding down the louvers on the inside of first one closet door and popping it open and then the other door – brrrrrrpppp POP

I started ranting out loud. “All I want is to get some sleep and you can’t leave me alone long enough…” and got up out of bed, walked around the corner and checked the mirror over the sink to make sure there wasn’t anyone in the closet before going over and closing them again. Still ranting aloud, I went back to bed and laid down. And then I smelled it. The aroma of flatulence. And my rant went on “I can’t believe you farted in my room. How could you?!”

Seemingly inspired, I decided I needed to go to the bathroom and went in to use the facilities. I did not bother closing the door, since I had the room to myself. And while I was peeing, I heard it. Someone let a fart rip from the bedroom.

OK, I am NOT alone. Did I freak out? Not in the manner you would expect. I yelled “Really?! Ok that does it now I’m mad” and I flushed the toilet, washed my hands, went over and turned on all the lights and stomped over to the desk chair and sat down arms crossed.

“What was the plan? I don’t think it was a very good one. I’m guessing you think I am rich and you would be right but not in a money way. I have friends and family who love me, a job I love, a warm home and a devoted husband…” I went on in this vein for a few minutes as I mulled my options. I was not about to look under the bed – that’s the last thing you do in the horror movies for a good reason. If I called the front desk, I could panic him and I did not know if he had a weapon. He had to be fairly small to fit under my bed and I was guessing he was young, male and probably Hispanic.

At some point, I heard a rustle from that side of the bed as if he was considering coming out, and I made my decision. I grabbed my wallet and my phone and still talking I headed to the closet and pulled on my jeans, my shoes and a jacket.

“You know what. We’re all human and humans make mistakes. I think you’ve made a mistake. I am going to take a walk and when I get back, you better be gone… for both our sakes.

I unlocked the door and stepped into the hallway. Noting the close quarters at this end of the floor, I headed toward the elevator still debating what to do.  In front of the elevator bank I hesitated until I heard the service elevator activate, so I pushed the button and headed for the lobby. Once in the lobby there were people around. Staff at the front desk. Other guests. I plopped in a chair and put my feet up to think.

As I sat there pondering my next move, a gentleman in a suit came over. “Ma’am? Are you all right ma’am?”

I didn’t respond trying to pull my thoughts together.

“Ma’am? Ma’am? Are you all right?”

Finally, I said, “I’m trying to wrap my head around what just happened to me.”

He sat down in the chair next to me and waited. “What happened?”

I started… “I’m used to having visitors who aren’t human disrupt my sleep. I stopped staying at the Emily Morgan because they wouldn’t let me sleep.”

He replied, “Oh yeah! We get about 15 people a year who come over from the Menger in the middle of the night saying ‘I can’t spend another night there’.”

So I told the story about the closet doors and then smelling the flatulence, because they can manifest smells. But, they can’t fart. They don’t have bodies. They don’t need to fart.

He offered to send someone up to check the room. I accepted.  He gave the instruction and continued to sit and talk with me. He told me a story of a quilt on a plantation in Louisiana that kept pulling up when he pushed it down. He finally kicked it off the bed only to find it neatly folded over a chair the next morning. I knew he understood there are some things that can’t be explained by what we know of physics.

We continued to talk. He offered to have the lock checked for key access. I agreed knowing they wouldn’t find any one other than housekeeping and me. We continued to talk. Finally, he offered to give me a new room for the third time telling me if I didn’t move now it would take 45 minutes because the books were closing. So I took him up on the offer and he went with me to the room with a bellhop’s cart and stepped out while I threw everything on it. Then moved me up to the 37th floor on another tower. By the time I slipped between the sheets again I was stone cold sober and still too keyed to sleep at 4am.

And I was grateful. Gratitude for the spirit guides that protect me and who woke me from a sound sleep to keep me safe. Grateful for the seemingly one-sided conversations I have with those guardian angels that probably unnerved a would-be thief enough to deter him from his task. Grateful to the night manager who talked me through my thought process and moved me to a new room.

I lead a charmed life.

With gratitude

To everyone who has read a post here or liked a post or commented, my sincere thanks.

This blog is an experiment for me. A way to start having my name out in the world attached to my writing. So anyone who helps me as I grow and change and still manages to follow my meandering posts is my hero, and I am grateful to you.

My parents found me challenging, my siblings probably more so. It’s not that I’m trying to be difficult, it’s just that I see things differently than most people and I will point it out. Probably when you least expect it. And you will think long and hard about whether the things I ask you to consider are worth the difficulty of thinking about them. Some of you will give up and leave. And I am still grateful that you gave me what you could.