How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


61 Comments

#BlogBattle Week 54 – Feather

To join the challenge, click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Genre: Humor / Fantasy

brandy-402572__180

Part 1    Part 2

SNAGGED

Part 3

“Let’s start again. This is my friend, Maggie, owner of this wonderful bookstore.” The man in shorts spread out his arms. “I love the smell of books, don’t you? You’re right. My name is Zero, but how did you know?” He stroked the Big Ben watch face with a forefinger, one eye on his wrist and the other on her.

“What?” Lisa swung a searching look from Maggie to the man. “This is creepy. I mentioned before, I picked up a book—no idea where it came from—and began reading. Wait. The title said Crow Lake.” She set the cup and saucer on the side table, rubbed her temples, and cricked her neck. “Crow Lake— like this place. You can’t help me?”

“Sheer coincidence, I’m sure.” He stretched across the space between them and patted her knee. “Wouldn’t you agree, Maggie? Maggie? Where are you?”

“Settle down.” The woman in black bent over the table and deposited a tray of glasses and a bottle of brandy.

“None for me thanks. I have a monster headache squeezing my brain.”

“Sorry to hear that. Here. I brought you water.

“You have a cat? I hear it, but where is it?” Lisa searched the floor.

“I do, but—

“Mee-oow.”

“Ow. My head.” Arms raised to grab a lopsided weight spiked to her head, Lisa resisted the urge to scream. Maggie cackled a crone’s laugh, holding her sides, spiked hair weaving. Eyes glazed, Zero bounced out of his chair to lend a hand. The cat hissed. He stepped back, shoved hands into his pockets.

Blank-faced, Lisa’s eyes widened at the unexpected bundle dropped into her lap. “But— But— Mozart?” The white fur cloud stood on his hind legs, raised a paw and patted her cheek, then again with an unwavering stare, and again. His purr grew from a low whirr to a vibrating rumble. She hugged him. Front paws raised, she lifted his light frame like a baby. Head tucked over her shoulder he pushed his nose into her neck, purr steady and deep. “Have you come to take me home?” She drew a jagged breath, silver tears leaking though she blinked to stop them. “What am I saying? How did Mozart get here? How did I?

Zero cleared his throat. He thrust a box of tissues at her. “Handsome cat. I’ve never seen one this affectionate. Maggie’s cat toms around the neighbourhood coming home only when the pickings are distasteful.”

“Watch what you say about Viper. He never took to you either. Brandy?” Maggie poured before anyone answered. Gripping a snifter, she took a large swallow and coughed. Zero thumped her between the shoulder blades. “That’s enough.” She took a smaller sip.

“I don’t understand why I’m here, and my cat? And, how? This is too bizarre.” She stamped her feet, the Tom’s ears twitched; he gave her a sour look. “Sorry.”

Maggie passed her a snifter. “Do you believe in magic?” She searched the depths of her own glass before raising an elegant black brow.

“You’re serious? No. I do not. That’s make-believe for kids and fairy tales.” Mozart continued to purr. She stroked his long silky fur with utmost care. Raising his head again, he patted her cheek and sighed.

“What if I said magic is real? Would you believe me?” Eyes dark, voice humorless, she nodded swirling the glass, studying the gold liquid sway to her manipulation.

“Do you? Can you send us home?

Nervous, Zero sipped the liquor, ears flaming red. “Tell her about Nelda. Tell her.” He paced two steps forward and two steps back in the awkward space. Lips compressed, Maggie shook her head.

“Your sister?” Lisa’s voice croaked

“How do you know that?”

“I told you, from the book I started before I popped into this place. Where is Crow Lake exactly? Show me a map. Where’s your computer?”

Zero hooted. For a man with eyes a girl could drown in, he laughed like a donkey. Lisa’s jaw dropped. Mozart sat up blinking at him like an owl, one eye at a time.

“What’s so funny? I Google stuff all the time. What’s wrong with that?”

“What you call computers are extinct.” Maggie extended a wrist sporting a nautical-type watch similar to Zero’s. Observe. Poking dials and sketching shapes on the watch face with a forefinger, she pointed it towards the wall. A holographic map projected on the wall.

“Wow. How did you do that? No laptops either?

“Nope.”

“What country are we in?”

Maggie snapped off the hologram.” You won’t find Crow Lake on this map.”

Zero glared at Maggie pointing his almost empty glass at her. “Why won’t you tell her?”

“You heard her. She doesn’t believe.”

Lisa and the cat regarded the sparing pair across the room from each other. Left. Right. Left. “What’s this about? Nelda? Magic? What?”

Zero dumped his snifter on the coffee table. I need air. Deal with it Maggie. Once and for all.” He hesitated, turned back, wearing a thoughtful expression. “Excuse me.” He directed an abrupt nod towards Lisa and fled.

A deafening, protracted silence bounced around the mint green walls. Not even the familiar ticking of a clock echoed in the hush. Mozart licked a paw, cocked his head and chose another.

Maggie spoke first. “This hasn’t been my best year. I’m in a bit of a pickle.” She glanced over her shoulder to the back door. Maybe it’s a good thing you don’t believe in magic. I’ve made a couple troubling mistakes of which I’m aware—because of magic…”

“Can you fix them?”

“As my father liked to say, ‘That would put a feather in my cap, if I wore one.’”

To be continued…

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.


65 Comments

#BlogBattle Week 53 – Bun

To celebrate, the one-year anniversary of #BlogBattle we will not be writing a new story for the battle. For Week 53, Rachel at http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/  has suggested the following:

  1. Choose one of your #BlogBattle stories from the past year
  2. Edit it however you would like
  3. Reblog/repost it next week on Tuesday, March 15th.
  4. Make sure you specify the genre and the theme word

Voting will be done from the compilation of awesome stories presented!

Genre: Humor

Theme Word: Bun

bakery-737476_960_720

Bun?

 

Clunk. Sylvie plonked the groceries on the floor by the front door. Shrugging off her coat in a rush, she headed to the kitchen. Halfway, she made an about face, hung her coat in the closet and grabbed her shopping bags.

Her cell spun on the counter, but she ignored it while it vibrated in circles. Purchases stored, she put on the kettle and dropped into a kitchen chair. The Thompsons and Millers were due at seven; she had time to change her planned dessert. What shall I bake special for tonight?

The kettle clicked off. She sighed and rose to make tea. The aroma of herbed roast beef filled the kitchen. Mr. Crockpot, her ever-faithful helper, hard at work again. She peeked through the glass lid and gave it a loving tap. Okay, five minutes—maybe ten—and I’m off to set the table.

***

Half an hour later Sylvie laid out fresh clothes and headed to the shower. She frowned into the mirror, turned this way and that, smoothed faint lines around her eyes and stroked her temples, caressing hints of gray threaded through mousey brown hair. Time for a color. Forty-one in a month. Imagine… Stop!

As always, the front door clicked open and slammed shut at exactly six o’clock. Sylvie smiled and rushed down the hall to meet her husband while inserting an earring. Arms outstretched, she rushed to embrace him.

“George, darling.”

Eyes aglow with pleasure, he let out a bark of laughter, caught her in his arms, and spun them around a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

***

At 6:51 p.m., the doorbell chimed. “I’ll bet my favorite shoes that’s my mom and stepdad. Always first. Always early.” Sylvie arranged pots on the stove in readiness for turning on during cocktails.

“Mom and Dad Thompson. Come in, come in.” George kissed his mother-in-law’s powdered cheek and shook hands with her new husband, the lucky owner of dense cloud-white hair. “Welcome to our home, Frank.” Before he dispensed with their coats, the doorbell announced another arrival. “Mom. Dad. Come in.”

Sylvie tossed her apron into a kitchen chair and joined the families, waving them into the Great Room. The still bare fields and garden were spectacular through the wall of unadorned plate glass windows.

“How are the twins doing at university?” her mother asked.

“They’ll be finished in less than two months and have to face the real world,” George said, a faraway look in his eyes. “How about drinks?” He rubbed his hands with zest. “The usual for everyone?” Nods and echoes of agreement ensued. “What will you have Frank?”

“What?” George made a drinking motion. “Whiskey, neat.” He looked about not knowing the routine.

The parents settled into their established seats. The women sank into the sofa facing the garden and the men into La-Z-boys across from them, footrests popped up at once.

General greetings exchanged, George delivered drinks on a tray and raised his glass. “A toast to our health at this happy gathering.” Glasses extended, nodding and hear-hears resonated around the room. The seats too far apart, only the mothers clinked glasses.

“Excuse me, one moment.” George disappeared around the corner. Upon his instant return, Sylvie sprang from her chosen hard-backed chair and exchanged a glance with her husband. He presented a white plate to the room. “Look what came out of the oven.”

“What’s this about done? Gun? What did he say? His new stepfather cupped a hand to his ear and squinted at his wife.

“He said nothing of the sort,” she said, eyes twice their usual size. One hand grazed Mrs. Miller’s lap. They gawked at each other, then at Sylvie.

“I said, look what I found in the oven.” George grinned wide. The tip of his ears crimson tinged, he tipped the plate several degrees.

His father scratched his chin, wiry salt and pepper eyebrows squished to attention over his nose. He studied the faces around him. “So?”

George set the plate on the coffee table and wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist. They grinned like children with a secret. Sylvie leaned her head back against his shoulder. Both mothers gaped at each other, their husbands, then back at the young couple while their spouses sat with mouths flapping.

George’s father shifted in his seat. “Will somebody say something? What in heck’s going on?”

 Blinking, her mother leaned forward, voice soft, hesitant. Cautious. “How do you feel about this, Sylvie?”

“Mom, I’m fine—ecstatic. Aren’t we, George?” He nodded. They rocked side to side, his arms wrapped around her, chin on her shoulder.

“I need another drink.” His father raised an open palm. “No, I’ll fix it myself. Haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”

“Dad,” George said, his voice subdued. “We’re having a baby.”

His father’s brows shot heavenward. “Why didn’t you say so in plain English?” Empty glass in hand, he hugged his son and placed a resounding smooch on his daughter-in-law’s cheek. “Do the boys know? Bet they’re excited.”

“You’re the first to know.” George said. “I only found out an hour ago.” He suppressed a smile in his wife’s hair.

The grandmothers shook their heads and heaved themselves off the sofa to join the hug-a-thon. “It’s like starting all over again,” said her mother to Grandma Miller. “I wouldn’t want to do it.”

George’s deaf stepfather scrambled out of the chair and raised his glass. “I’ll drink to that. What are we celebrating?”

“We have a bun in the oven,” his wife shouted in his ear over the melee.

“We do? Take it out before it burns.”

The room rang with laughter. He joined in too though he still appeared confused.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.
Image Credit: Pixabay. No attribution required.


62 Comments

#BlogBattle Week 48 – Prompt: Chasm

To join us and / or to meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:  

  1. 1000 wordsmax
  2. fictionaltale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG(no more than PG-13Content– let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Each winner will receive the awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage.

**********************************************************************

Part 1 here

Part 2 here

coffee-667052__180

Image  from Pixabay. No attribution necessary.

Along Came Polly – Part 3

“What is that awful noise? ‘There birds in here?” Raising her bird’s nest bedhead, Grace unglued a puffy eye. “Wha…?“

Frrrrrr frrrrrr frrrrrr frrrrrr.

Blinding light suffused the room. She rolled over, face pushed into the pillow.

“Never known you to sleep this late. Everything okay, baby sister? Here. Brought you coffee.” She plunked a mug on the night table and dropped into the tub chair alongside, already fully dressed in Khaki pants and white blouse. “Polly, talk to me.” She sipped her coffee.

Her sister rolled over; grabbed her glasses. Squinting at Grace, her fingers fumbled for the coffee. “Why’s it so darn bright?” Grasping the pillows, she swooshed them against the headboard, and scooted back, leaned in and sighed. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“It’s past nine—you didn’t answer my question.” Grace lifted her mug. “You look like something the cat threw up.”

“Says you. Truth is I didn’t sleep well, at-all, at-all, at-all.” She slapped a hand to her mouth to stifle a yawn. I fell as if into a chasm at the first hint of day.

“Oh? Do tell.” Grace’s eyes wandered to the window as if she could care less, ever watchful from the corner of an eye.

“Tommy called last night. I didn’t pick up.” Polly turned her cup round and round studying its contents as if reading tea leaves. “Terrific coffee, sis. You’re looking perky. You had me worried last night.”

“Uh-huh. This is news? Boohoo for Tommy. What’s really eating you? Don’t bother fibbing ‘cause you can’t fool me, like you think you’re doing.”

“Duh.” Polly made a face. “Better get up if I want more coffee.”

“Cut the crap already, what did you get into when I went to bed?”

“Nothing.” Hazel eyes innocent and enormous, she bowed to her coffee.

“We’re sisters, but you are trying my patience.”

“You heard any rumours about family secrets—being the older first child—you know?”

Grace’s mouth dropped. “What are you talking about?” Forehead furrowed, she swung her head around like a puppet, blinking, scanning the files in her head. “This isn’t like you. What’s going on? Is Tommy blackmailing you into marrying him?”

Polly snorted, coffee splattered over the lily-white bedcoverings. “Sorry-sorry-sorry.” She bounced out of bed hauling off the stained candlewick bedspread and top sheet. “Forget Tommy. He’s not news.”

Grace grabbed the bottom of the heavy spread. “Laundry tub, downstairs, I think. I’ll start the soap and water. Bring the vinegar?”

“Here. What do you know about granddad and Uncle John?” Polly swished the soapy water while her sister added the vinegar.

“What an odd question. I have no idea what you mean.”

“Uncle John was not to be trusted. Dad worked his fingers to the bone in Grandpa’s business.”

“Oh yeah? What if you’re wrong? How about breakfast. I’m starving. ”

Polly watched her sister through lowered lashes. “Wrong? I don’t understand. Dad was the good son. Worked and slaved—he saved Granddad’s grocery store from ruin. Uncle John was the black sheep. Everyone said so.”

“Or scapegoat. Help me lift this in the tub.”

“What?”

“Let’s play what if. Coming?”

“What if what?”

“Both Dad and Uncle John worked for Grandad, right? What if Dad had a gambling problem?”

“What? No way.”

“What if he had sticky fingers and helped himself to the till and the store check book.”

“I don’t believe you. Is that why—?”

“Why, what? You want eggs or oatmeal? Why, what?”

“Nothing. Eggs. You too? Great. I’ll do the eggs.” Polly opened the fridge.

“Back in a shake. Have to rinse the bedspread.”

“I’ll do it. It was my fault.”

“Thought you’re doing the eggs? Get cracking. When I return, I’ll expect answers. Tut tut.”

* * *

“Grandma’s spread is good as new. It’s in the washing machine now. You still look like last week’s leftovers. Why couldn’t you sleep and why all the questions? Good. I’m starving. Let’s eat.”

“Coffee?” Polly grabbed the pot and poured two cups. “Going to the attic today?”

“Tut tut. Come on. Clean slate. What’s on your mind?”

Her mouth full, the younger woman chewed and chewed. And chewed. Eyes growing by the minute, she swallowed hard. “I found something in one of the boxes last night.”

Eyes narrowed, Grace clutched the mug to her chest, still as a statue. “What?” Her voice gruff, she cleared her throat.

“It’s better I show you. Be right back.”

Lost in thought, Grace jumped at her sister’s reappearance. Polly thrust the paper under her nose. Studying her sister’s impassive face, she dropped into her chair. Arms around her torso, she rocked in place. The air sizzled with tension. Grace fanned herself with the birth certificate. The women stared at each other.

“Anything else in the box you found this?”

Polly blew out a breath. Her body sagged. The words spilled out in a tumble. “Know anything about this?” She gripped her fingers till the knuckles turned white.

Grandpa handed over the business banking to Uncle John when dad’s bad habits surfaced. The checks to cash were for his gambling debts. He paid them off in person, in cash. Uncle John didn’t want a paper trail.

“And the birth certificate? Why was brother Frank a secret?” Her voice, though a whisper, cracked.

Grace exhaled loud and long. “Mom couldn’t kick dad out, but she’d had it with him. He up and disappeared one day. Frankie was born a year before you, but he wasn’t right…died. You came seven years later.

“Before dad left—“

“No. Grandpa lived to see Frankie. Not grandma. It would have broken her heart. Everybody’s gone now. I’m glad I’m moving into a gated retirement community. Too many ghosts here. You should come.”

Polly shook her head, hand up open-palmed. “I don’t understand, then who…? Not Uncle John, of course, because he was…

“I guess he wasn’t.”

“He’s my fa…?”

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


65 Comments

#BlogBattle Week 47 – Prompt: Forest

To join in the fun and / or meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:  

  1. 1000 wordsmax
  2. fictionaltale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG(no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered aroundthe theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainmentvalue!
  6. State the Genre of your storyat the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/orinclude a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Each winner will receive the awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage.

**********************************************************************

chest-371386_960_720 Pixabay

Image  from Pixabay. No attribution necessary.

Along Came Polly – Part 2

Part 1 here

Grace’s eyes swept the attic one last time. Enough for one day. Her sister grumbled, teetering on the ladder, an arm hugging a box and the other white-knuckling the beam.

“You okay, baby sister? What’s the matter? Out of shape?”  She stooped near the top of the folding ladder with a chuckle. Forehead glistening, Polly glared back, face a blistering red. “Going to live to your 60th birthday?” She shrieked with laughter till she choked with a coughing fit.

Polly stumbled to the floor below and released her box. Thump. Folded at the waist, she gasped for air, knees clutched as she heaved. “Make way. Coming down.” Grace sing-songed in a cheerful voice. The ladder quivered and creaked beneath her weight. Her sister already halfway to the kitchen, booted the box down the hall. A tap gushed water. A cupboard door slammed. Arms around her box, Grace peered around the corner. Her sister gulped water as if it might be her last chance to drink. She grinned and whacked the wall with the flat of her hand. Polly spun round, the glass grasped tight, eyes huge behind tiny granny glasses.

“Something in the dust you ate? Settle down, Grace. Aren’t you thirsty and tuckered out?” She grabbed another glass, filled it with water and handed it to her sister, who glugged it too. Simultaneously, the women dropped into chairs eyes locked on each other. Polly broke the stare first. Slamming her glass on the table, she giggled like a school girl. “You should see your face.” Yanking the kerchief off her head, she wiped her forehead. “I’m all sticky. Mind if I take a shower first?”

“Go. Where’s the day gone? I’ll rustle up something to eat. What do you feel like?”

“Surprise me.” Polly, rescued overnight bag in her hand, had made her way half-way to the bathroom, her voice faint.

* * *

 “How many boxes do you suppose there are?” Polly settled on the floor in front of the sofa, slicing the air with her mug. “A couple dozen?” Tucking the fluffy white robe from her sister’s guestroom around her knees, her chin pointed at the ceiling.

Eyes glazed, Grace shrugged in her pink velvet robe and stifled a yawn.

“Did you see the trunk buried beneath the boxes? I’m anxious to peek inside first thing tomorrow. What if it’s locked?”

“We’ll find a way.”

“Grace, are you all right? Too much, too soon? You haven’t had time to recuperate after the flu. Off to bed with you.” Led by the arm, her sister toddled down the hall to her room. “Sleep as long as you like. Don’t you dare get out of bed till you smell the morning coffee.” Polly pulled back the covers and padded the mattress. “First, hugs.”

The boxes in the living-room had lost their appeal. Plunked on the carpet like discarded presents, Polly eyed them with trepidation, but only for a moment. Ignoring her cooling coffee, she tore the top off the nearest box, her curiosity overpowering. Envelopes of bills and receipts bound with disintegrating elastic bands filled the box to the brim. Mouth pinched, she removed layer upon layer of envelopes. Disintegrating rubber crumbled in her hands and onto the gray carpet. On the bottom lay a large record book. She flipped through the pages, stopped and blinked. Wait a minute. What is Uncle John’s signature doing on the checks? The bills were in her grandfather’s name. Some checks were for five hundred and one for a thousand dollars made out to cash. Strange. Why cash and why such large amounts with Uncle John’s signature?

A page floated into her lap, less yellowed than the book pages. Light-headed as if floating in a dream, Polly dropped the book and unfolded the paper, heart clenched like a fist. Unable to focus on the writing, she closed her eyes. Why am I so nervous? This has nothing to do with me. Her head hurt as if gripped in a vice. She peered at the writing. A birth certificate? Still the words swam in a murky fog. She gripped the sheet and brought it to her nose. Too close. Back again, the words became clearer, sharper. Polly dropped the paper as if her hands burned and stared into space. Not possible. She covered her face, rocking against the foot of the sofa.  No. No. No.

Her cell chirped in her handbag on the sofa cushions. Not wanting to talk to anyone, she ignored the phone, but as always her curiosity won. She dug the cell out of her purse.  Tommy. Why didn’t he give up? How many times did she need to explain she liked her singlehood? Re-marrying was not in her future. She chucked the phone to the cushions concerned with more important matters.

This must be some kind of mistake. She planned to do a birth record search online, but not tonight, though tempted. This latest development had sucked the life out of her. Not confident she would sleep, Polly threw the paraphernalia back into the box anyway, shut off the lights, and tiptoed to the guestroom, the unsettling evidence clasped to her chest. She stopped at her sister’s door, her ear to sleeping mumbles. A chilling thought struck her. Sometimes, a forest of trees hides what you’ve always known or thought you had.  

To be continued

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


62 Comments

#BlogBattle Week 30 – Prompt: Reach

To meet the mind behind this challenge click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/orinclude a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Each winner will receive this awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage:

********************************************************************

I’ve decided to expand last week’s story titled Choices. Read Part 1 here.

 

“Sit tight.” He thundered past to turn around. The shake and rattle faded with distance, but not for long.

Oncoming headlights of a single car pierced the shroud of hammering rain against her windshield. The wipers quit upright in mid-sweep as if stunned. Steve’s car howled closer behind her and stopped alongside. Victoria bit her lip, but scurried out of her car into the waiting and open door beside her. The stink of stale cigarettes, wet rags, and rancid grease punched her in the face before she shut the door. Phew.

“Good thing you came around the corner close to the sidewalk. I’d hate to push your car in this rain. ” Where to? His eyes roamed her huddled frame without apology.

“The Bradley Assurance Building downtown. Please.”

“Didn’t your mother never tell ya to look the person you’re talking to in the eye? What a scared little mouse you are.” He hooted and bobbed.

The grating voice in her ear over the earsplitting broken-Mack-truck noise gave her a headache. Purse to chest, she withdrew a hand to press against the drumbeat in her head. She sucked in a deep breath through her mouth, snapped on the seatbelt, and drew herself up straighter in the bucket.

“Let’s not talk.”

“Get over yourself, will ya?” He whipped a smoke out of his breast pocket.

“You’re not going to smoke that!”

He smirked and narrowed his eyes. “My car. My rules. Seems to me I’m already doing you a favor—What’s that saying about beggars and such?” He tapped the cigarette tip on the steering wheel and stuck it into the corner of his mouth.

Victoria sank deeper into the seat. Someone’s horn sounded over the cacophony in her head. She peered out the window. The traffic around them had swelled. Rain still swamped the windshield. Whish-whoosh, the wipers labored. Swoosh-whish. The wail of an ambulance drew closer. Steve eased to the curb with the rest of the traffic. He didn’t light the smoke.

“If ya hafta know, I quit for the third time a week ago. Sucking on these babies calms me down, ya know.” He turned to her with a lecherous grin. “You look like a drowned cat…”

She flinched and sidled closer to the passenger door, forehead to the cool window. The ambulance passed and commuters snaked forward again.

“Touchy-touchy. I’m telling ya like it is so you can fix yourself when you get to work.”

“Where are you going? This is the wrong way.” Victoria hated the shrill sound of her voice.

Eyes ready to burst out of her head, she jerked forward, hands raised toward the dash. The seatbelt restrained her.

Steve withdrew the soggy cigarette and shook with silent laughter. “I knew it. You’re a scared little mouse, aren’t ya? I’m going around the block to drop you in front of the building, not across the street.”

“Oh.”

“About your car? Want me to take care of it?”

“No-no. I’ll call the auto club. You’ve been more than helpful. Your wife must be worried what’s keeping you. Can’t thank you enough.” The front door of her building came into view. Soggy pedestrians with dripping umbrellas high-stepped around each other in squelching shoes.

Steve flicked on his signal and edged to a sloshing stop and flung his hand on the back of her bucket seat. He jiggled black caterpillar brows at her. “Oh, I’m sure I’ll think of something.”

“What are you—sixteen? It’s a figure of speech. Doesn’t mean what you’re thinking.” She wrenched open the door and stumbled into a river of streaming water searching for any opening along the curb.

“Careful now.” He snickered.

Without a backward glance, she slammed the door and sloshed her way up the stairs joining bedraggled employees rushing through the revolving doors. She charged forward, collapsing her umbrella and squeezed into an already crowded elevator. I hope my presentation goes better than my ride with Steve.

* * *

Dry and warm after a long disheartening day, Victoria curled up on the sofa, a tall Spanish coffee on the side table, a book, and Marmaduke in her lap. The now cold rain riddled the windows as if tired from plunging all day. She stroked the cat’s silky head. He leaned in against her palm and purred in a stupor. Now and again he shivered in delight. “Aren’t you my sweet, sweet boy?” One eye opened to examine her, a look of scorn on his face. He gave a heavy sigh and closed it.

“What’s with you, cat? Little Sarah next door said you look like a cow. You didn’t make faces at her.” The Tom shifted and coiled into a compact rope, paw pressed over his eyes. “A cow, she said. Good point, I think.” She poked the fur ball in a shoulder, but he ignored her.

“What a horrible day it’s been. Don’t let me start about our dreadful neighbor. I wanted to reach over and wipe the smirk off his face. Permanently.”

“Shh. What’s that?” Her knees bounced skyward; the cat bolted to his favorite window. Victoria’s heart hammered in her ears. Tiny hair she didn’t know she had, prickled on the back of her neck. Chest tight, her knees turned to water when her feet hit the floor. Rain fell with a lazy trickle now. Someone or something was poking around outside. Thank goodness she’d closed the drapes. No. The silly cat left an open space when he jumped on the window sill. She grabbed her cell, and paraphernalia, and switched off the lights on her way upstairs.

Nobody’s home next door. They’re at the parent-teacher meeting at the school. What on earth did they have to do with anything?

It wasn’t them she meant. It was Steve. She didn’t trust him.

 

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.


36 Comments

Roses (part 2)

Click here for Part 1 (one week ago)

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Roses

April gazed at the flowers, sightless. Caramel somersaulted across the floor like an orange tumbleweed when the tissue kissed the floor. April woke from her reverie and regarded the cat at play. She held the box away. “What shall I do with you? Too pretty to throw away—who sent you?”

The cat gave up on the shredded paper mess. Meow? Eyes luminous black slits, he stared up into her face. An ear twitched and he cocked his head. Meow?

April blinked and squinted at the cat with recognition this time. “How late is it? Haven’t I fed you yet?” Still gripping the box at arm’s length, she spun toward the kitchen. “Come on.” He galloped ahead and pitched into his empty bowl by the fridge. April waved the box back and forth as if glued to it. At last she dropped it on the table with a kerplunk, then rubbed palms on her trousers. The cat wove back and forth around her feet as she filled his dish.

Hands on hips, April studied the table again and nodded.

She arranged the roses in a crystal vase Henry had given her long ago. With the tip of her forefinger, she caressed a stem. Oh, Henry, I—

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony interrupted Caramel’s vigorous crunching. April jumped and retrieved her cell. Leaning against the black granite counter, she pursed her lips. I don’t know who this is. She put it down in a rush as if it had seared her hand.

The cell resounded again fifteen minutes later. Jittery, she picked it up. The same number flashed on the screen. As well, there was a message from her lawyer she hadn’t noticed before.

Part 3 Next Time

 

© 2015 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

 


65 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups

Check this out:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/10”0-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week149-2/

Prompt for this week: …April… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

Roses

Fingers chilled, April worked her forehead hard. Will this day never end? Caramel rubbed against her ankles; she ignored him.

Meow?

Urgent pounding startled them both. April froze, hand splayed at her throat. Miaow! The cat bounced into the air like a Billy goat and tore down the hall. Go away.

Curiosity won. She peered through the peep-hole. A florist’s box? She scooped the narrow box and slammed the door. Yanking off the top, she tore into the tissue. Long-stemmed white roses. Oh, Henry. April’s tears splattered the buds.

No. A drunk driver killed you. Five years, today.

“Then, who? Why?”

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #172

To join, click below:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week172/

…when the daylight returned the king was dead…+ 100 words

100wcgu-72

Talk of War

“I forbid it!” Teeth clenched, the queen stomped from the darkening window.

“Forbid? You’ll do as I say. Romp across the country all you like, the boy stays.”

She spun to face him and thrust a crimson, talon-like nail at her husband. “The talk of war puts him in danger.”

“Nothing but talk.”

“Have it your way. I’ll save the next king alone.”

The king tossed back his head and roared. “He’s only eleven, Madam. There’s plenty of time.”

“More fool you.” She heaved the great door, elbowing past the startled guards. Don’t worry. Mother will take care of everything.

When the daylight returned, the king was dead.

#

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


43 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #170

Anyone can join in, click below:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week170/

This week’s prompt:  …the scent was overpowering… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

Smoke

First a wisp, then the smoke billowed denser and angrier.

Boys? Georgie? His mother peered through the doorway across the rolling fields and trees. “Georgie!”

She dashed inside, rang the fire-hall, and face alabaster, charged out again. Two boys hooted and swayed towards her in drunken fashion.

“You okay? How’d the fire start?” The twelve-year-olds howled with ridiculous laughter. She grabbed each by an arm and tugged towards home. “We’ll talk later. Better hope the house doesn’t catch fire.”

The wind shifted and the scent was overpowering. Fire bells clanged nearby. The odor seemed familiar, yet… “Lordy. Someone’s marijuana crop’s burning in our backyard.”

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


73 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #168

To join in, click below:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week168/

 This week’s prompt is …the blue was sapphire… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

THE RECEPTION

Drink in hand, I skimmed the room. Lights blazed, children squealed, and the discordant orchestra tuned up. Receptions are boring without a date.

A commotion caught my attention. Upswept copper curls bobbed through the crowd. A pale cerulean gown, delicate as angels’ breath, floated towards me. The exquisite creature peered up brows raised, her eyes—the blue was sapphire—like the gem… “Can I help you?” My voice cracked.

“Get me out of here, please?” She drifted forward. Like a puppy after a treat, I loped behind her. The night might not be a complete waste.

“Where to?”

“A drive maybe?”

“Husband problems?”

“Girlfriend.”

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles