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Frankie's Wining Room

Drinking wine while writing, reading, crafting, and whining

Month

February 2016

Lent 2016 Day 14 -Bess’ Nightmare

Bess blinked and found herself in the boat. It was wider than it had looked. She could lie down and have room to sprawl if it weren’t for the boards nailed to the top. Seats? Ribs? She didn’t know boats.

She scanned the countryside for her mother, but saw only growing shadows and morphing hills. The outlines shifted as if worms were wriggling atop one another in a mad game of King of the Hill.

The waters had cleared though. They were the brightest blue she remembered seeing and sparkled as if catching stardust. Frowning, she took a seat on one of the boards, gripping the wood tightly. A mast grew from the bottom of the boat with a groan that was almost painful to her ears, and a golden sail snapped as it caught the wind.

She sailed down the winding creek, the wind tugging at her long, brown hair. The scene didn’t change much, remaining all shadows and worms. Sometimes, she passed by tall mountains of them, other times, buildings and structures.

The boat didn’t stop and the creek didn’t widen.

“Why are we stuck?” she asked the air.

She’d been with River, trapped in the dream net, for months. She’d picked up a thing or two about Dreamland, things he probably didn’t realize she knew. Then, when she’d possessed him, slowing the progression of his illness, she’d learned a great deal more about Dreamland.

She knew she was in a nightmare pod. She knew a nightmare, a person, was somewhere in this pod with her. She knew there was a message.

She knew she wasn’t alone.

“Hello. Nightmare. Where are you?”

The wind continued to blow. The boat creak as it went around a bend. The hillscape shifted into the two towering mountains in the distance again.

“I am here.”

Bess jerked and stared at the board in front of her. A man sat there, dressed all in black. Silver adorned each shoulder, but she couldn’t make out what they were in this light. The gold light from the sail glinted off his bright, red hair and made his freckles take on a sheen.

But the thing that caught her off guard was that his eyes glowed black.

A dark expression floated over his rather angular face. “I should not be here, Bess.”

“Then why are you?”

His Adam’s apple bobbed. “You are a special case.”

She nodded. “Because of what happened on the river boat.”

“Yes.”

The captain of the river boat had been a dream killer, a failed nightmare who had been shot out of the Sea of Dreams to wander without purpose or means. He’d discovered the riverboat and had started collecting others the Sea of Dreams spat out. They fed the motor, the roaring heart of that white and red beast dreams.

Her dreams.

Her hopes.

River had said he’d seen dreamers kill themselves after their dreams were eaten by the dream ships. He’d even come to see her, wanting to know how she was, ready to talk her out of suicide if the thought crossed her mind.

But she was still here.

“You know Dreamland, how She works.”

“Is that why I’m stuck on a boat going nowhere?”

He tipped his head to the side, his brow furrowing as he let out a sigh. “No. The boat is going nowhere because that is where you’ve chosen to go.”

She took off her wire-rim glasses and rubbed her eye. Symbols. Always symbols. “Mom told me to get in the boat.”

“Repeatedly.” That word was laced so much meaning, the air grew thick with it.

“Okay, fine. She repeated it repeatedly, and, yes, I know that when someone special comes into a dream and repeats something, it needs to be noted, but I noted it, Nightmare. I noted it.”

“And ignored it.”

“She told me my girls were in the boat, but it’s an empty boat.”

“And now it is not.”

“Look.” She cleared her throat and slid her glasses back into place. “Dreaming of having a life with my daughters is what got me here in the first place. It’s the reason my dreams were out there to be caught. It’s why I’m stuck in a dead-end job. It’s why I can’t get out of this financial rut I’m in. It’s the reason I can’t move forward. Why, when someone asks me what I like to do for fun, I have no freakin’ clue because I don’t know. Fun? I’ve been afraid to have fun.”

The nightmare’s expression slid into cool stone.

Bess grabbed the base of her ponytail and flipped it, gesturing with her hand to the scene around them. “What?”

“Nothing. I’m listening, Bess. No one has heard your side of your story. You don’t tell it. Everyone changes it for you. So I’m just listening.”

She raked her teeth along her bottom lip and stared at the morphing shadows. “Worms? Really?”

“You conjured them. I merely gave them shape.”

She fingered the wood edge. “What am I doing here, Nightmare?”

“Finding peace, I think.”

“This is peace?” She gestured to the shadows and looming gloom.

“For you, yes.”

She ran her fingers along her lip, her emotions churning inside her chest. She wanted to let go of the suffocating sorrow, of the assaulting grief. She wanted to release the stabbing betrayal, the shooting pain of broken trust. She wanted to forget the emptiness of loving people with all her heart . . .

. . . who refused to love her back because she hadn’t earned it.

“I don’t want to talk about it, Nightmare.”

“Then change our course.”

She shook her head. Her heart had nowhere to go. Her mind lacked direction. Her every waking moment for the past ten years had been to create a life for her and her daughters.  Acknowledging that would never happen had stripped her of the one thing she had left.

Will through reason.

She’d always been the type of person who created goals and then met them. But now? Those goals just slipped right by.

She should have a full collection of artwork ready for the gala scheduled in a few months. She should have three sculptures complete. She should have her Etsy store open, taking in new customers a normal brick and mortar store couldn’t reach.

Without purpose, though, without reason, she had no will to make any of those things happen.

“I don’t know where to go.”

The nightmare breathed, his chest rising and falling the darkness. “My name is Danny.”

A surprised ghost of a smile lifted the corner of her lips. “That’s not a terrifying name.”

“I’m not here to scare you.”

“Then why are nightmares so terrifying?”

“To make it easier to deal with you real life by comparison.”

She raised her eyebrows and leaned to the side to see what the shadow worms were doing next. The setting had changed. Instead of the tall building coming up next, they built what appeared to be a pedestrian bridge, crossing the two banks in a wide arch. Her heart skipped a beat. “We’re safe in the boat, right?”

He lifted one shoulder.

She gripped the side of the dinghy as her heart raced. “They’re building a bridge.”

“Why should that concern you?”

“What if they get in the boat?”

“Then you are no worse off than if you had stayed.”

She let out a frustrated breath. “Why did you want me in the boat so bad?”

He looked up at the golden sail, glitter raining down on his cheekbones, accentuating the shadowy glow seeping from his eyes. “I didn’t tell you to get in the boat.”

“My mother is dead.”

“You called up the image of your mother.” He propped his booted feet against one side of the boat and folded his hands behind his head, leaning against the mast. “All I did was open the dreampod.”

The worm bridge drew closer. The muscles in Bess’ neck tightened as she shied away from that, away from—

—away from the black hole inside her, sucking every last dredge of life she had.

The bridge grew further away as if they’d back peddled.

The isolation. She’d pushed everyone away, protecting herself. This did feel like relief, this break from the wearying anguish. She didn’t trust people, didn’t want them around.

Her soul was already filled with the shadow worms.

As one, they raised their heads. Tiny beads of light shot from their little, worm heads as though they had eyes as they stared at her.

She didn’t want to . . . She didn’t want end up like that, without emotion, without meaning, without . . . without.

Danny opened one eye and peered at her. “You know what I always liked about you? You’re a quick study.”

The shadow worms slithered into the ground and disappeared, leaving only rolling hills of muddled earth.

“That’s going to come in handy.”

She looked around him and the sail, trying to pierce the darkness beyond the glare of the sail.

He sat up and slapped his palms against his knees. “I have a proposition for you.”

The shine from the sail grew, piercing Bess’ eyes with daggers of pain. “What?”

“Come with me. It’s a locked and protected dreamplane. Months there will be mere hours on Earth.”

“Why?”

“The Red Queen has a program for people like you.”

Bess opened her eyes to mere slits, blocking out the sail glare with both hands. “Like me?”

“Broken. Failures.”

“Thanks.”

“She has a place for you. You can grow there.”

“You said months in Dreamland?”

He nodded.

“I have obligations on Earth.”

“That you won’t miss.”

Her heart trembled. A chance? To be someone? To be something? To be someone to someone else?

Danny set his warm hand on her bare knee. “Bess, please. Do this.”

“If I don’t?”

He licked his lips and dragged his gaze to the surrounding landscape before returning it.

She swallowed hard. “And if I fail?”

He smiled. “We all fail, Bess. It’s what we do afterward that defines us.”

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Lent 2016 Day 13: My Wildest Nightmare

So, um, I missed a few days. Mr. Dork and Things 1 & 2 were moving in, I was editing a book, and working on a few websites, while working the new job (with the longer hours and no additional pay), and getting a book launch organized. So, um, yeah. I missed a couple of days. And I’m okay with that.

So, today marks the first day of historical/fantasy romance. The key word here being “romance” because I’m not really good at that. But, anyway. Here it goes.


Her gut fell as the glass and metal elevator lifted her to the upper floors. Bess sighed, knowing what would be on the other side of those doors depending on the floor it stopped on. If it opened in the basement, she’d be stuck in a maze of rubble, following cries of people she thought she recognized, but could never find. If they stopped on the fourteenth floor, she’d get a promotion, a big cake, and Godzilla tearing down the building. She’d wake up falling, having been tossed out the window of the skyscraper.

The sixteenth floor had a band of wild monkeys tearing up the engine room of the spaceship taking her away, as far away from Earth as it could. But shortly after the doors would open, and after only a few frantic moments of trying to re-wire the engines, chill would sink in, and she’d awaken frozen and unable to breathe.

This was the elevator to her nightmares. Which one would it be tonight?

The roof.

With a quick frown of surprise, she checked the numbers at the top of the elevator cab again. She twisted behind her to look out the glass. A wide, green, hilly landscape went on for as far as the eye could see.

That was the sign she was safe.

But this was the elevator to her nightmares. She was never safe in her nightmares.

The elevator dinged at her, but the doors didn’t close.

She needed to gather all the symbols she could so she could write them down when she woke. Bright beautiful suns, a large, blue moon, blue sky, green hills. Singing trees. Fuzz balls in the rainbow colors of her yarn collection floated in the air.

She narrowed her eyes and turned to the door as it dinged again.

Her mother, Jean, stood in front her, looking so young. Her blond hair fell almost to her lower back. Her green eyes danced with mirth as if she’d just heard a fantastic joke. Her large bosom was covered in a many-flowered shirt that fell well-past her wide hips. She cupped Bess’ cheeks and whispered, “Bess.”

Bess jerked and swallowed. When her mother had passed away, they hadn’t been the best of friends. They hadn’t liked each other at all, practically. She didn’t dream of her mother. Ever. She’d sided with Aiden when they’d split. She’d told Bess to give up on her girls, to find a new life.

Sure. She might have meant well, but she hadn’t realized what she was advising or what she was telling Bess. She’d basically told Bess that she wasn’t good enough, that Aiden would be a better father than Bess would be a mother. Sure. He had the better job. Sure. He had a great support system in his family, and by great, she meant scary good. But she’d had her mother and her brother.

She’d taken it as a personal affront. She’d lost her daughters. Her heart had been ripped out of her chest, and to add salt to the insufferable, agonizing wound, her mother had told her point blank that she wasn’t a good mother.

So why was she here providing love now?

Her mother didn’t offer any answers. Sunlight glowed, shining a halo through her hair as a soft breeze played through it. Her green eyes softened and she took a step back. “I’ve come to tell you to get on the boat.”

“You told me to leave my children, to get therapy to make it easier, to get a new life.” Tears of anger and betrayal and hurt surged to the surface as Bess balled her hands into fists, her voice rising in level, lowering in tone. “You helped him take my children. You lied in court!”

Jean flinched and looked away, her lips flat.

“Why—why would I do anything you told me to now?”

“Bess.” Her mother raised her face to the sun and drew in a Jeanp breath through her nose. “I was wrong not to believe in you. You were wrong to listen to me instead of to yourself.”

“I was alone! And terrified out of my mind!” Bess’ nails dug into her palms as she fought to keep her emotions under control. “You said you’d be there! You said you’d help me, and then . . . ” A chest-wracking sob stopped her words.

“I know,” her mother whispered. “I know.”

A tear-filled giggle escaped Bess’ lips. “You know. After all this time, you come back from the dead to say ‘you know’.”

“Bess, get on the boat.”

“No.”

Jean bit down on her lips, rolling them out. She held her hands palm out on either side of her. “I wish I could take it all back, but I knew the fight would be too much for you. You’re not a fighter, Bee. You never have been. I knew he would provide a good life for your daughters. I didn’t realize he’d—” She took in a ragged breath and blinked away tears.

“He erased me, made my girls fear me.”

“He did.”

“I’m not following your advice again.”

“Well.” Jean pressed her fingertips against her closed eyes and turned away.

The elevator was gone. Green sprawled around them in waves of tall grass. Blue wild flowers beckoned on a far hill. A long, slender creek wound its way through the grass, vivid blue against the bright green. If this was a nightmare, she’d accept it.

“Don’t.” Jean dropped her hands, desperation shooting from her eyes as she took two steps to grab Bess’ hands. “Don’t. This is a trap. This sense of ‘relief’ or whatever you’re calling it, it’s a trap. It looks great because the pain is gone, but you were so close.”

“Close?” Bess shoved her mother away. “Close? You want to know what my great victory was the other day? Jemma initiated a conversation with me. You call that close? Mom, she’s seventeen! Close isn’t anywhere near where I’m at with her. I’ve lost ten years. Ten years.”

“And you’re okay with just giving up?”

“I didn’t give up, Mom! My dreams were destroyed.”

They’d actually been consumed by a ship that sailed the Sea of Dreams. For two months, I’d moved through life without the heavy weight of all of my failed dreams, dreams I’d never had a hope to attain. They’d all rested on Aiden coming to his senses and allowing me in, allowing me to see my girls by myself, allowing me to talk to them, allowing I-love-yous back into our conversation.

For two months, I’d felt light.

That is the trap, Bee.”

A rowboat appeared nestled among the grass along the banks of the creek.

“All this is yours.”

Bess shook her head with a puff of breath. “I accept. Sign me up!”

“But where are the people?”

People hurt. Those she’d loved with all her heart had spat her out as if she’d never existed, and to them, she guessed, she probably hadn’t. They brought her out, noticed her, called her when they needed something; money, food, their house cleaned. People used the things you loved most and twisted them so you’d never find joy again.

There was a lot of . . . sunlight in this meadow. Sunlight wasn’t joy, but it could be.

“You’re not the kind of person who can survive by herself.”

“I listened to you,” Bess roared, her blood beating with rage. “You said I was weak. You said I’d never survive. You said I needed help. I don’t, Mom! I don’t! I don’t need anyone ever again. I provide for myself. I keep myself fed, housed, clothed, bathed. I fix everything. I take care of everything. I provide. And I do that while giving half my income to Aiden to support my girls, and I do that while supporting you and your son!”

“I’m dead, Bee.”

“And I’m still paying for you because no one else will.” The rage left as quickly as it rose, leaving Bess spent. Her shoulders sagged as she stared at the soggy earth. “I’ll take this, Mom. This is so much better than anything else I’ve had. The grass is green. The Earth is wet. The water is clear. The sky is bright.” All those symbols meant good things in a dream. Good things. “This is good, Mom. This is better.”

Jean gestured behind her. “Your girls are on that boat.”

Bess leaned to the side to see around her mother. “Really? Because all I see is an empty boat. My boat is always empty, Mom. It will always be empty, and for once, I’m finally okay with that.”

“Your girls are on that boat, Bee.”

Bess shook her head sorrow swimming to the surface of her chest. “They will never be in my boat. I just have to accept that.”

“Your girls are on that boat.”

“Stop repeating that,” she screamed past the pain in her throat. “No one is in the boat!”

“Jemma.”

The name was like an arrow in Bess’ chest.

“Jacki.”

A sob ripped its way out as tears filled her eyes.

“Are in that boat.”

“No, Mom,” Bess said around her guilt and sense of failure. “That boat is empty.”

“Get in the boat, Bess.”

She shook her head. “The grass is green here. I’m okay with here.”

Jean grabbed Bess’ arms and shook.

Bess fought, trying to regain some ground.

Jean stopped moving, her green eyes dim.

The sun dimmed.

The ground filled with wriggling worms.

The grass drooped and turned brown.

The water of the creek browned and muddied.

Jean’s eyes lit up as she bared her teeth. “Bess, get in the goddamned boat!”

Writing Everyday – Reality or Not?

The Lent Writing Challenges, like all of my writing challenges, leave me with one very strong stresser.

Writing every day.

A lot of the really great, fabulous, amazing writers say to write every day. They follow that up with something that my mind translates into, “Stop coming up with so many excuses! If you want to be a real author, you’ll write EVERY DAY and you’ll stop WHINING about it!”

I’ve tried. For eleven long years, I’ve tried. But the other things get in the way. The kids. The significant other people. The house. The pets. The plants–sounds stupid, but, yes, the plants. The other job.

I’ve failed. In every write-everyday-challenge, I have failed.

And I’ve come to one conclusion.

These authors are so amazing, and they’re so fabulous, and they’re so lucky that WRITING is their full-time job. It’s the only one they have.

I’m a project manager who can’t get promoted to full-on PM because I lack “the qualifications”. I fight every day to get those “qualifications” to make me a better PM, but the boys who aren’t as capable, apparently, have those qualifications. Because they’re getting the promotions. That is a 10+ hour a day struggle.

Then I come home, and I’m a writer, and an editor, and a graphic artist (which I need to get back into and show you what I’ve learned!), and a publisher, and promoter, and a webmistress.

And I’m a step-mother, and an almost-wife. And I’m potty-training a cat. And I’m bringing plants back from the dead.

Life has to be balanced. If writing that post or that chapter or whatever is the thing that’s going to throw you out of balance for the day, if your day is so chaotic and exhausting that the thought of applying words to cyber-paper makes you even more exhausting, then don’t. The writing challenge, any writing challenge, is to make you a better writer.

I’ve determined that writing EVERY DAY isn’t what makes you a better writer.

Making sure that your off-days don’t stretch out too long does though. And when you have the time, you put your butt in the chair, or on the toilet, or on the counter, or wherever, and if you say it’s time to write…

…then you write. 

One day, I am going to be one of those great authors. I will. My writing is pretty good. It’s not awesome. There are some authors out there that are AMAZING! One day, I’ll be ABLE to write every day–because one of these irons I have in the fire will be gone. Hopefully, it’s not family. I really like them. Hopefully, it’s the job that frustrates the crap out of me.

But even if I don’t, I’m still going to write when I have the chance because I enjoy it.

 

Lent 2016 Day 8 -Tesla and the Things Do Yarn

As the days passed, Tesla learned more and more of Frankie-human’s words. Those strange things that didn’t make a lot of sense, that he would never be able to make, but that she seemed to use fairly often.

Some of those words? Thing 1 and Thing 2. The two smaller humans.

They were girls, and as such, smelled weird.

But they enjoyed doing something he loved. Playing with yarn.

Tesla Yarning

Frankie-human got a thing that changed the shape of the yarn. She called it a “yarn winder,” something she repeated often as if saying it out loud changed something. Though, Tesla could never understand how or what.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 would pick yarns, and together with The Dork, they unwind the yarn, letting the skein bounce and twirl on the floor, while the thing yarn winder whirred.

Playing with the yarn as it danced on the floor and listening to Thing 1 and Thing 2 giggle and call his name made him feel like he was a part of making the “cakes,” as the young humans called it.

Each “cake” got a different name, and while Tesla didn’t always understand the human words, he got the general meaning. They named each cake by the color, which was really weird. Well, for Tesla, anyway.

However, he loved it when Thing 1 and Thing 2 were home because it meant everyone would be playing with yarn while Frankie clicked and tapped on her computer. Yarn nights were wonderful nights.

Lent 2016 Day 7 – Frankie’s Yarn

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When the Frankie human brought Tesla home, she’d given him free reign of the house. Of course, as he became more agile, certain areas became off limits. The working table. The eating table. The junk table. The yarn table. The plants.

Frankie-human liked to bring out toys only she could play with. Her clicky box with the glowing screen. The red mouse she moved around. Glasses of water that needed to be thrown on the floor.

And yarn.

Tesla was obsessed with the stuff. It came in so many different colors and it moved. When Frankie-human got it out, it moved all the time. It wasn’t like the other toys she would get out and play with for a few minutes, laugh to herself as if saying she’d done a great deed in playing for three minutes, and then leave. No. She would play with the yarn for hours.

The only thing, Frankie-human didn’t appreciate it when he would play with her. He’d try to attack the flashing hook. He’d try to snag the yarn itself. Sometimes, he would wrap up in the yarn with her, trying to help her created whatever she was making at the time.

Only, then there’s a lot of yelling.

So, note to self: practice yarning when Frankie-human is at work.

I’m Over The Walking Dead

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I was late to the scene for the walking dead. I binge-watched three seasons in one week. I was hooked. Addicted. I was a part of the Walking Dead watch parties–and by “a part” of them, I mean I joined via Facebook as I watched it Sunday night from my own home.

However, the last two seasons, watching them one episode every week, was a drag. And then, the last season, with as long and drawn out as it was–after over a month, we still hadn’t made it past one day, and then it took FOREVER to find out of Glen even LIVED?! I was done.

I have it recorded on my DVR. I’ve read the posts of what happened. *shrug* I love Michonne. I’m glad they’re following the comics, kind of, sort of. But I don’t REALLY care because I never actually read the comics.

But, with as busy as I am, I don’t think this is one show I’ll return to. I just don’t have time to watch it. I mean, I have to fight for my TV time, so it had better be good, you know?

So, yeah. I’m letting The Walking Dead go. Sorry, guys. I still have my apocalypse bug-out bag. I still have my zombie apocalypse plan. And I’m still looking forward to some zombie killing time–for as long as I can remain among the living, but I’m done with the show. It was good while it lasted.

Tesla Teaches the Man Human How to Use the Light Switch

Tesla soon learned his human’s name was Frankie. He learned that because it was the one thing the two smaller humans repeated. A lot.

He discovered a lot of other things, too. Like, not to dig his claws into his human’s face. They were very fragile.

Canned cat food came out after he pooped in the toilet.

Tables were the best place to play, but always got him into trouble.

He learned other things, too. Like how to open doors when the man human tried to keep him out of the sleeping room. He only did that when he wanted to lick the Frankie human, and Tesla was pretty sure the Frankie human didn’t like it. She screamed. A lot.

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Tesla had to protect his Frankie human from the man human.

Man human went by several names, but the one he went by most often was Dork.

However, the more Tesla tried to get between his Frankie human and the Dork, the more mad Frankie became. At Tesla.

At the same time, the Dork tried to be nicer. He would let Tesla lick his face in the middle of the night, and shove his neck under the Dork’s nose for warmth. They showered together. They peed in the toilet together.

Tesla figured out that the Dork wasn’t necessarily the enemy. Though he still didn’t understand why the Dork continued to close the sleeping room door and made Frankie scream. It didn’t make a lot of sense.

One day, the Dork brought in several boxes of stuff that smelled like the Dork. For whatever reason, the Frankie human turned hostile, and, not for the first time, Tesla was thankful the Frankie human didn’t have claws.

The flip switch that made the lights come off was a particular issue.

With either of the two smaller humans or the Dork forgot to turn off a light, Frankie would pull her head back and yell very loudly in Human, a harsh sounding language that doesn’t make a lot of sense. They invested a lot of effort into make lots of sounds, but they never really said much.

Except, when Frankie yelled, the human words came out, but her face and body yelled as well, to the point where even Tesla understood what she said.

Turn off the light.

One day, Frankie left, leaving the Dork and the two little humans at the home. Tesla didn’t like it when Frankie disappeared from the house. He enjoyed spending time on the couch while she worked on the weird box that her fingers made click-tap-click-tapping sounds on with the glowing screen.

But when the Dork stayed at home with the two smaller humans, the TV came on and Tesla tended to be very bored.

That day, was no different, except that the two smaller humans seemed to need to be in every room and every light was on.

Tesla had been practicing his jumps. He could attack the cooking cloth Frankie human wore when she made the kitchen smell weird. He could grab onto the coat the Dork wore when it was cold outside.

And he could leap up, hook the light switch with his claw and pull it down as he fell back to the floor.

Tesla had been turning off the lights for them for several minutes. Well, it could have been longer. Frankie human had tried to teach him time, but it wasn’t like using the toilet like a human. The only thing he could make out was the colors and the lines, not what they meant.

The three humans could not figure out how to leave a room and turn the light off behind them.

So, Tesla went to the Dork and pawed at his leg several times.

The Dork didn’t look up from his phone, the TV playing in the background.

Tesla tried again, using his claws this time.

The Dork something in Human, his tone saying he was mad.

But at least he was looking.

Telsa ran to the back door, staring up at the light switch.

The Dork sighed and got out of the chair, saying something about “Frankie.”

With his chance in hand, Telsa leapt up, hooked the flipping switch with his claw, and brought it down as he fell.

The Dork stopped in the middle of the sitting room, then barked with laughter. He called the two smaller humans and turned the light back on, gesturing for Tesla to do it again.

Tesla glared at them, but decided it would be best to show the humans how easy it was to turn off the light.

He spent several minutes while the three humans turned the light on so he could turn it off again.

But after that, the Frankie human yelled a lot less.

Because the other humans remembered how to use gravity to help turn the lights off.

Lent 2016 Day 6 – Tesla the Orphan Cat

Tesla was a pretty kick-butt kinda cat. He lived under a trailer. He had an endless supply of trash. He only really had to fight off the other cats. The raccoons, on the other hand? Yeah. Those were a different matter all together. You didn’t mess with a raccoon. Especially, if he was in the garbage bin snacking on some thrown-out chicken scraps.

He had a routine. It worked out well for him. Basically, it all came down to not dying through starvation or cold or someone else’s claws.

The trailer he lived under had  a lot of humans. They were noisy, too. They didn’t stay the night like a lot of the other humans in the trailer park, but when they were there during the day, they actually helped make his sleeping space safer. He often slept more during the day than at night because the other cats didn’t like going near their trailer.

Several of the male humans threatened Tesla, yelling at him when he crept out from under the trailer, or boarding up the holes so he couldn’t get in again.

But one human–a woman–offered him food.

Well, she offered all the cats food, and if he was really, really lucky, he would get some of it.

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He wasn’t sure because he didn’t speak human and they were terrible at communicating without words, but it seemed like she actually knew he existed. Sometimes, she’d wait outside the hole to his sleeping space with the bowl of food next to her. He thought maybe she waited for him, but his instincts told him to hide from her. Also, the other cats warned him against humans. Not that they were really looking out for him. They weren’t. They were mostly making fun of the fact that he was still alive because that particular human had seemed to take notice of him.

Yeah. He was thankful for the food when she brought it, but he could take care of himself. Thank you very much.

As the nights grew longer and colder, and as the days grew shorter, and as the food grew scarcer, Tesla found it harder and harder to survive. The other cats did, too. Each day, one or two or, sometimes, more would be missing as they all scrounged around for food.

The older cats were a lot tougher than Tesla and better able to fight for scraps. They would mock him for not having a Momma Kitty, knowing that even she had abandoned him. And when their words didn’t bring the result they’d been looking for, their teeth and claws did.

Tesla worked each day to sharpen his teeth and his claws and his reflexes, but as the food supply dwindled with the older cats maintaining the lion share of it, his reflexes grew slower, his coat grew shaggier, and his teeth grew soft in the mouth.

After surviving the coldest night of season, shivering, alone, huddling in the dirt, cuddling close to the human’s purr unit, he fell asleep.

He didn’t wake up when a human invaded his sleeping space under the trailer until his hands were wrapped around Tesla’s mid-section, dragging him out.

Not that Tesla had a lot of energy to fight back. He didn’t. He did have his claws and he used them, but the human’s funny-smelling, removable hands were too thick, and Tesla’s claws didn’t penetrate.

The man put him in a box, and then took him inside the trailer with the humans. Tesla could hear them speak, but couldn’t understand anything they said. Fear ran through him, but he was so bone-chillingly cold, and so desperately hungry that even the fear powering through him did little to help his cause.

The box moved. A human carried it. Tesla didn’t know where they were going. Was he being taken to one of the great moving boxes with the black crushing wheels? Would he disappear like so many of the other cats had, entire litters at a time?

The box stopped moving finally, and the lid rose. A single human face peeked through.

The human woman who stood guard at his hole.

He wanted to run. He wanted to claw at her face, to get out of there as soon as possible. All he needed was to get back to his sleeping space, curl up against the human’s purr unit. All he needed was to find a scrap of food, maybe some of the stuff the woman brought occasionally.

She lifted him out of the box and tucked him tight to her, wrapping her arms around him.

The mottle-colored alley cat had wrapped his arms around Tesla one time and hand shredded him pretty bad. Over a chicken bone.

Tesla growled low in his throat, releasing his claws into her arm.

She pressed his nose into her cheek and met his growl with one of her own.

A human that growled.

She brought her strange legs up, wrapping him in warmth, but kept her hands firm around him. Firm, but not hard. He could still breathe. He could break free if he wanted to.

The shivers died away. The warmth she offered finally started to seep through his mangy grey coat.

The growls and other sounds she issued softly in his ear comforted him in a way he’d never experienced before.

The feel of her teeth as she gently bit his ear after he’d attacked her face. Gentle biting. Foreign.

Without releasing him, she shoved something inside his mouth. He had no idea what it was. The thing tasted like a dirt encrusted butt.

Milk poured from it.

Warmth. Food. Kindness.

Tesla didn’t know what to do with those three things. He wanted them, but was scared of them at the same time.

But this woman, this human woman, refused to let him go. She raised her head and spoke empty human words to the other humans that came in, but she never let him go. She made sure he had enough to eat, and then, when he’d stopped shivering, she wrapped him in a blanket warmer than the purr unit. And it didn’t smell like dirt.

It smelled like…her.

He didn’t know when she would throw him out to the cold again. He knew it would happen one day. Humans didn’t keep cats. Not really, anyway. At least, he hadn’t met a cat a human kept.

But for that moment, that one day, his belly full, his limbs warm, he’d stay.

Just for a little while.

Just for a little while.

How the Universe Works – Great for Kids!

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Things 1 & 2 have a TV in their room.

I’m opposed to this. I don’t think they should have a TV in their room. When they’re in there, they should be doing their thing, and if they get bored, they’ll figure out how to entertain themselves. Their form of entertainment is usually the complete annihilation of the other sister, but…whatever. I’m the Wicked Stepmother. I can allow them to kill the other off. We’re fine.

So, most times, the TV remains unplugged.

Remember? Wicked Stepmother, here.

However, there are times when the yelling and the screaming and the apartment-wrecking madness is too much and I need a little quiet time. Not quiet I’m-going-to-entertain-you time. Frell that. No. The Wicked Stepmother needs time to work at home. After work. And between dishes and all the other stuff that Mr. Dork is helping on, but needs help with the helping. Whatever. No. I’m not going to do arts and crafts with them and read to them ALL THE TIME.

So….occasionally…I allow the TV to babysit.

We don’t have a yard. We have a parking lot and a street. A very busy street. So, glare elsewhere, perfect moms. When we grow up and get a Big Kid House–that no one can frelling afford right now–then I’ll throw them outside to play….out there.

However, Thing 1 has taken such a liking to How the Universe Works, which is one of Mr. Dork’s and my favorite shows–because it’s amazing!–that she now wants to be an astrophysicist. AND she’s doing her 1st grade science fair project on quasars because How the Universe Works made the concept of quasars easy to understand and FUN!

So, just a note to all the busy moms out there, all the busy dads out there, and all the busy half-moms and half-dads out there: if you need a spare 45 minutes, How the Universe Works is the way to go!

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