Ten O’Clock Scholar: staple

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. In this snippet, we jump ahead in the story to Peggy’s first day of class.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘staple.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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The woman tucked a few stray, silver tresses behind an ear and leaned in closer. “Hi, I’m Wanda.”

Peggy held out a hand and introduced herself. After comparing notes about what brought them to this class, she was pleasantly surprised to find that the two had a lot in common, despite the age difference. Her new friend was not the curmudgeon she appeared to be at first glance. And, while Peggy was returning to school after a ten year hiatus, she learned that Wanda was returning to the classroom after forty years. She had just celebrated her sixtieth birthday and starting the interior design program was her present to herself.

Maybe she’s just as intimidated as I am right now.

Before she could question Wanda about it, the instructor clapped her hands at the front of the classroom. The chatter that had been filling the room with a soft buzz came to an abrupt halt. The teacher stood in a regal stance, her gaze shifting around the room to make sure she had everyone’s attention. “I’m Mrs. Stone. I’m your instructor for most of the classes in the interior design program. I’m also the program chair. Before I begin, I want to cover a few ground rules for my classroom. First of all…no cell phones. If you have your phones with you, please turn them off, or silence them during my classroom time. If your phone rings during class time, I’ll ask you to leave for the remainder of class.”

Every student in the room scrambled for cell phones, either tucked in pockets or sequestered in purses. Rapid movements from everyone reflected a mass of students scurrying to comply with the teacher’s request.

After she waited a few moments for phones to be silenced, Mrs. Stone continued with her standard rules. “Also, I do not tolerate tardiness. When it’s time for class to begin, I lock the door and no one may enter after that. There will be a signup sheet stapled to the bulletin board next to the door. If you arrive late and the door is locked, sign up on the sheet and you’ll get partial credit for the day.”

Peggy gulped. Being on time was not an attribute she possessed. It was hard enough getting herself ready and out the door on time. When you added two boys to the mix, it made her run even later. Getting to class on time, for every single class, would be a challenge. She leaned over to whisper a comment to Wanda, then caught the teachers glaring look in her direction. Sitting back straight in her chair, she decided it was best to keep quiet. She certainly didn’t want to earn the teacher’s ire on the first day.

Movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She glanced off to the side and saw Wanda slipping a note towards her.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – Mother

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. In this snippet, we jump ahead in the story to Peggy’s first day of class.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘mother.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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Peggy expected a semi-conspiratorial grin from the one other student that was older than the youngsters surrounding them. Instead she got a glare revealing which side of the bed the woman had woken up on. And it wasn’t the pleasant, optimistic side.

Feeling rebuffed, Peggy shifted her gaze to the concrete walkway and shuffled a dried oak leaf around with the tip of her sandal.

Her mind wandered and bits of motherly advice she’d often heard in her past came back to haunt her.

“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

“Don’t let others reactions make you feel less than worthy.”

Breathing in a deep breath, Peggy filled her chest and straightened her shoulders back.

I’ve got this. I may be older than the giggling gaggle around me, but I’ve got the determination to succeed and the strength to finish what I aim for. Besides, I have ten years of experience that these youngsters don’t.

She giggled softly to herself as the next thought crossed her mind.

And, I certainly won’t be spending my time here partying and trying to meet boys. Leaves me lots of time and energy for study!

The line of students quieted as a tall, willowy woman walked up to the door and unlocked it. Propping it open, she stepped inside and the queue followed her and began plopping into seats. Peggy aimed for a seat in the rear of the room, her favorite location in venues with a lot of people she didn’t know. She was surprised when she glanced up and saw the grouchy looking older lady grab a chair next to her.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – cry

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. In this snippet, we jump ahead in the story to Peggy’s first day of class.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘cry.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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Once she was away from a clingy youngster and the confusion of getting two boys dressed and to Mary’s house, Peggy felt the stressed feelings peeling away like layers of an onion. With each mile getting closer to the campus, she felt her excitement rise. Even Derek’s sour mood over the past week couldn’t dim her enthusiasm. Feelings of pride and accomplishment over this huge step in her life swelled in her and caused her to set up straight in the driver’s seat.

Empowered was the word that came to her mind. After all the years of submitting to Derek’s desires and wishes, for once she was taking action towards something that would expand and enhance her life.

TT studentsPeggy’s feeling of pride deflated as soon as she rounded the corner and saw the line of barely-twenty-somethings waiting to enter the classroom. The students – mostly girls, but not all – giggled and twittered in their clustered groups. Most wore skimpy clothes that revealed a lot of abdomen and back – certainly far more than Peggy was willing to display of her post-two-children body. She caught herself as a brief moment of wanting to cry passed through her.

They will not make me feel old.

I will not allow myself to be intimidated by these youngsters.

I have every right to be in a classroom learning too.

I am not too old for this!

The thoughts ran in a jumble through her brain as she tried to banish the unworthy feelings and tried to gear her thoughts towards a positive mindset.

She stood in line, leaning up against the brick wall, feeling too timid to speak to anyone around her. Two more girls, looking just barely out of high school fell into place behind her, chattering away to each other as if they were lifelong friends. Another lady joined the line and Peggy sighed with relief when she saw the short gray hair and wire rimmed glasses.

Whew! Someone older than me. At least I’m not the oldest woman in class now.

She smiled at the newcomer over the heads of the youngsters between them, but wasn’t prepared for the reaction she received.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – life

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. In this snippet, we jump ahead in the story to Peggy’s first day of class.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘life.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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An early morning August sun blazed across southern California in celebration of Peggy’s return to school. The memories of a childhood mid-September first day of school, with an early fall chill to the morning air, were something from the past. Life had changed in the twenty-five years since Peggy was a student, ecstatic with a new dress to wear to a new grade. Now, the academic year began earlier – right in the middle of the dog days of summer.

Knowing that the air conditioner in the car wasn’t working right then, Peggy dreaded the drive home, knowing it would be over a hundred degrees by the time her last class ended. But the afternoon heat was the least of her worries. Her nerves had kicked into high gear earlier in the week, and the lack of sleep the night before as she tossed and turned in an insomniac daze was reflected in the dark shadows lining her eyes.

first day of schoolShe’d planned on leaving the house early, leaving her plenty of time to try to find a parking spot and get to the classroom long before the scheduled start time. She’d even packed her satchel the night before, relishing the new supplies that filled it. Notebooks, legal pads for notes, new pens and highlighters – she had everything she thought she’d need, plus a little more.

And then…the morning happened.

“Clifford Anthony Taylor! Why aren’t you dressed yet? We’re leaving in ten minutes!”

Five minutes later, Cliff still sat in the middle of the bedroom floor surrounded by regurgitation of a giant Lego monster – minute multi-colored plastic blocks in various piles and an oddly constructed contraption in the midst of being built.

She bit the inside of her check and counted to ten, knowing that what was headed out of her mouth at the moment wasn’t language meant for a child to hear. Even if it was a hardheaded, obstinate, noncompliant boy.

“Two minutes! Get it in gear…now! Or your Lego’s are gone for a week!”

Cliff looked up when he heard the calm iciness of her statement. Realizing that now mom meant business, he reluctantly left his building behind and moved towards the clean clothes his mom had laid out on the bed earlier that morning.

Peggy grabbed the pile of clothes on Jonathan’s bed and headed to go change him. She knew she’d find him parked in front of the television, enraptured by his favorite children’s video. Seeing only one shoe on the floor, she began looking for its mate. Nothing under the bed. No shoe around the toy box. She didn’t find it in the closet either. Feeling more frazzled by the moment, she frantically set out on a search mission throughout the house.

“Jonathan, where’s your other shoe?”

No response. Deep in a musical wonderland, the two year old hadn’t even heard her.

Ten minutes later, she finally found the canvas mate tucked between cushions in the sofa. Finally, the toddler was dressed and ready and she almost dragged both boys out of the house a full twenty minutes later than she’d planned on leaving.

The boys bickered in the back seat the entire way to Mary’s house.

Mary threw open the front door as soon as they pulled into the driveway and headed out to greet them. “There you are! I was starting to worry.”

Peggy grimaced as she pulled a bulging diaper bag from the front seat. “Oh my lord, you have no idea what a disaster this morning was.” She handed the diaper bag to her friend and leaned in the back to unfasten car seat buckles.

As she followed Mary inside, directions and cautions spewed out of Peggy’s lips.

An impish grin flashed across Mary’s face. “I think I’ve got this. I have had children, you know. Grandchildren too.”

When Cliff realized that he and his brother were staying with Mary and mom was leaving, he started crying.

Peggy gathered the sobbing boy in a giant hug. “It’s okay. I’ll only be gone a few hours.”

Her words didn’t reassure. Cliff just clung to her tighter.

“I don’t know what’s up with this. I know he loves you and he always enjoys when we come visit you.”

The gentleness of a grandmother’s understanding shone from Mary’s eyes. “Yes, dear. But we’re usually just visiting here. Or going to lunch. Mom’s never gone off and left him with me before.” She bent down to the golden head tucked into his mother’s side. “There are some fresh chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. I was going to save them for after lunch…but I bet your mother wouldn’t mind if we go have one now.”

The mention of cookies – especially at breakfast time – caught his attention and Cliff stopped his crying. A few remaining sniffles later, he loosened his grip on his mother and followed Mary to the kitchen. Jonathan had heard the ‘cookie’ part and had already wandered in there, in search of a treat.

Peggy took advantage of the break and dashed outside, in a mad rush to the campus.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – picture prompt

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In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt.

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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By the time the next weekend arrived, Peggy wondered if the weekend away was even worth it. It was easy for Derek to agree to the trip to Big Bear. All he had to do was come home from work, load the ice chest into the car along with the bags that were already packed…and take off.

It was Peggy who spent most of the past two days shopping for groceries, washing and packing clothes – in general, making a list and checking it twice. She’d been up well past midnight the night before working on last minute details. But, even thought it was a lot of work, a change of scenery would be a nice treat.

The boys bickering in the back seat didn’t bother her. As most mothers can do, tuning out siblings arguments was an acquired skill and one that she had to put into play all too frequently. About the time the nitpicking started to screech through her numbness and get on her last nerve, she turned to reprimand the two and caught Jonathan’s head drop to his chest in slumber. Motioning to get Cliff’s attention, she held a finger in front of her pursed lips. “Shhhh. Leave him be and let him sleep.”

With no little brother to pester, Cliff soon settled down and started playing one of the games on the tablet they saved for the boys to use while traveling.

Peggy turned her attention to the scenery, watching the landscape change as they gained in elevation, getting higher into the mountains as the SUV turned on the switchback road like it made the trip every week. Thoughts of the pine scented forest that waited for them at the cabin tantalized and Peggy’s thoughts roamed to luxurious walks alone in the wooded trails around the lake.

Ten O’Clock Scholar – lake

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘lake.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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Peggy walked her sister out to the car and wrapped her nephews up in a gigantic hug. Al, the quieter and more compliant one of the two, submitted to the affectionate kiss from his aunt. Ed squirmed, trying to get out of the embrace. Peggy laughed, enjoying her nephews embarrassment, before returning to the house, her mind already shifting to making a decision about what to have for dinner.

She debated about throwing a cookie sheet full of fish sticks in the oven, but remembering Derek’s sarcastic reaction the week before, she chose not to go that route. The past week had been difficult enough without throwing more ammunition onto the flames of their feud. Deciding to make a meatloaf and baked potatoes instead, Peggy stopped at the television to start a DVD. She almost couldn’t bear to hear another round of ‘the wheels on the bus’, but she knew that Jonathan’s favorite would keep him occupied while she chopped onions and scrubbed potatoes.

But Peggy didn’t make it to the kitchen right away. The open laptop sat on the desk, beckoning to her in a come hither manner. One quick peek, she thought, then I’ll get to dinner. She almost didn’t stay when she saw she had 68 new emails. But the lure of unseen messages is stronger than the drudgery of the kitchen. Scrolling down the list an email from the college caught her attention. Her gut tightened and a ball of tension tightened in her throat. With a mixture of dread and excitement, she opened the message.

“Hooray! They accepted me!” she shouted to the room.

Jonathan looked up with a puzzled look, then turned his attention back to the musical rendition on the screen in front of him.

Giddiness swept over her. Not only was she accepted and enrolled in her first class, her student loan application was approved too. She only had to show up at the office with documentation to secure the financing for the upcoming semester.

With a grin plastered across her face, Peggy shut the laptop and scurried into the kitchen. Now the task of making dinner – once again – wasn’t as formidable as it had been just a few minutes earlier. She hummed as she bustled about chopping, and slicing, and dicing.

The aroma of a sizzling meatloaf filled the house when Derek and Clifford arrived home. Clifford, in his typical five-year-old enthusiasm, dashed into the house chattering up a storm. He was full of tales of the evening and bounced with joy when he reported on how he got to fly on his dad’s training cord.

Peggy glanced at her husband to gauge his mood. She noticed a smile on his face, an uncommon occurrence lately. “You seem pretty chipper tonight. What’s up?”

“I’m a hungry man. Could smell dinner when I stepped out of the van. Meatloaf?”

“Yes. And baked potatoes.”

“Great. I’m ready.” He rubbed his stomach to emphasize his words. “Oh, by the way, my brother called tonight. Wants to know if we want to go up to Big Bear with them next weekend. They’ve got a lake house for three days. Says there an extra room we can stay in.”

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – number

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘number.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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“Sure. Come on by. Only Jonathan’s here though. Derek took Cliff with him.” Peggy scanned the living room to see what messy remnants remained littered about.

“Of course. It’s the weekend. They must be out flying. Guess I know my brother-in-law by now.”

“Yep. They headed out early. A van full of planes and an ice chest full of beer.”

By the time Liz’s orange Mustang pulled up in front of the house, Peggy had already done a quick pick up. Piles of discarded dirty clothes were stuffed in the hamper. Dirty glasses were placed in the sink, somewhat out of sight. A fast dust with a spritz of lemon cleanser at least made the room fresh and clean smelling. She’d thought about running the vacuum, then decided against it.

The flurry at the door when her nephews, Ed and Al, came running in made vacuuming a moot point. Keeping up with debris from tiny boy’s sneakers was an impossible task. The boys, just a year and two older than Cliff, dashed off to the boy’s bedroom, looking for their cousin.

TT_sodaWith the three boys busy at play, the two sisters had a chance to sit down and catch up. Grabbing a cold soda for each of them, Peggy dropped ice cubes in two glasses and filled Liz in on her latest feat. She also reported how angry Derek was over her bold move. “And still is,” she added. “Although…the house is a lot quieter when he’s not speaking to me.”

“Better than him yelling and throwing a tantrum.” Liz paused, thinking of her own past experiences with an angry, abusive husband. “Been there. Done that. Have no desire to go through that again.”

“Well…we had a bit of that the first night. When he first found out. But at least there’s no new holes in the wall over this.”

“Yet. You haven’t actually started school yet. Let’s see what happens then.”

A trio of three young boys ran up, stopping the conversation momentarily.

“Can we go out back and play?” Ed, the younger of the brothers, was the unofficial spokesman of the group, speaking up more easily than his quieter, older brother.

“Sure. Go ahead. Watch out for one of the swings though, the seat broke…”

The sliding glass door was opened and the boys dashed out back before the rest of the words were out of her mouth.

Liz laughed. “Good thing we both stopped at Boy Number Two. Don’t know what we’d do if we had any more.”

Peggy groaned and nodded her head in agreement. “I know. Some days I wonder how Mom did it all, with three of us.”

“Especially with Butch. He was a little stinker when he was younger.”

The two sisters began reminiscing about their brother, now thousands of miles away in Iowa, and not able to defend himself.

“Remember in Arkansas when I went in the house and he took my lawn chair and tied it up in a tree?”

“How about the time he cut my arm, playing with Dad’s ax?”

“And how he always messed up the top of our hair?”

“Tattle telling! Remember him standing on the balcony at the two-story house, spying on us?”

The afternoon in conversation with her sister, as the three boys ran in and out, soothed Peggy’s spirits and eased her worry. Somewhat. She knew she still had a difficult road in front of her and she wondered if she’d be able to accomplish her new goals. But for now, for these few hours, she could relegate her concerns to the back of her mind and enjoy the sisterly comradery.

As the shadows visible through the kitchen glass door deepened, Liz pulled out her phone and checked the time. “Sorry. I’ve got to go. Don’t want to be here when your hubby gets back – if you know what I mean.”

“I don’t blame you. Hey…I don’t want to be here when hubby gets back.”

Ten O’Clock Scholar – dice

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘dice.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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A knot the size of Gibraltar lodged in Peggy’s stomach. “It’s my application to go back to college.”

The scarlet flush that rose up Derek’s neck wasn’t from his afternoon in the sun. “What? College? You’ve got two boys to take care of.”

Peggy hesitated, trying to choose her words carefully. “I know. I fully realize that. It’s only two afternoons a week.”

“And what are the boys going to do while you’re off gallivanting around? Stay here and take care of themselves?”

Peggy shot a frosty glare across the room. “Not hardly. Mary said she could watch them.”

“That old broad you used to work with?” A bitter laugh followed.

“Yes. The lady I used to work with. She’s not an ‘old broad’.”

“Ancient enough. One foot in the grave. How’s she going to take care of them? It’s like rolling the dice. What happens when she plops over dead from a heart attack while she’s watching the boys?”

“She’s only sixty-five. Just retired. I sincerely doubt that will happen. Besides, she’s looking forward to having a few hours with the boys every week.”

Derek’s clamped jaw jutted out in defiance. “And she’s doing it for free?”

“No. I’m going to pay her. Not much, but it will help her out too.”

“With. What. Money?” The clipped response was icy and deliberate. “We don’t have the money for it. I’m not using the money I work so hard for go for you to play around with.”

Peggy closed her eyes tightly, took a deep breath, and reopened them. “I know. Your money is only for giving away to the hobby shop. Or the gun shop. Or the motorcycle shop. For your ‘play.’ But don’t’ worry, I applied for a student loan and it will come out of that money. I won’t use your precious money for my pleasure. Even if the schooling will be something that enables me to get a better paying job in the future.”

The headaches that started to envelop Peggy in its tight embrace was enough to stop her involvement in the argument. She didn’t know what was worse – trying to stand up for herself and enduring the battle that ensued, or meekly backing away and letting hubby walk all over her wants and desires.

She threw her hands up in the air. “Whatever. I’m going to bed.” She turned to the sleeping boys on the couch and picked up the smallest one to her shoulder.

After getting Jonathan tucked into bed, she returned for Cliff. Derek was already stretched out in his favorite chair, alternating between munching on the fish sticks he despised and tossing back another brewskie.

The frigid silence from his side of the room was only a sample of what she received over the next few days.

Maybe it’s a good thing he spends most of the weekend away from the house. At least that’s time I don’t have to put up with his moods and the silent treatment he loves to give me.

tt laundryPeggy went about the household business, trying to keep up with the laundry, whack down a few weeds in the yard, and supervising the boy’s arguments. Her hands were busy with the routine chores while her mind whirled away, making plans on what had to happen for her to return to school. She mentally planned out when she’d do her homework and what supplies she’d have to buy. She made a mental list of what she’d have to pack for the boys to take to Mary’s house. Since Mary didn’t have any children or grandchildren, there wouldn’t be a handy stockpile of toys or activities to occupy them there.

Sunday afternoon as she was folding a load of the boy’s clothes, Peggy’s sister, Liz called. “You home today? You free for a visit? The boys are wanting to see their cousins. Thought I’d drop by for a bit. If it’s okay.”

Ten O’Clock Scholar – tree

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘tree’.

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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Peggy scrolled through the application, filling in the pertinent information. Name, age, birth date, social security number; it was all the same routine information most applications requested. The toughest part was when she got to the page where she needed to fill in what classes she wanted.

She looked down at the catalog page where she’d marked the possibilities. Her mind returned to the back and forth she struggled with earlier. Fortunately the two classes I took years ago, before the boys were born are still good – Introduction to Interior Design and Textiles. I’d love to take the Management class, but I don’t have all the prerequisites for that yet.

That narrowed the available classes down. Unfortunately it also presented another dilemma. Some of the classes were Tuesday and Thursday classes, and others were on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. After more contemplation, she punched in two numbers and continued to the payment page.

After pressing ‘submit’, she printed the confirmation page. As soon as the paper dropped into the tray, she picked it up and looked at the black and white results of her courageous act. In bold print in the middle of the page were two classes; History of Western Architecture and Interiors I and Introduction to Lighting.

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There it is. Done and sent. Now, to see if I’m accepted.

Hearing a noise behind her, she glanced over her shoulder and spied Jonathan stumbling down the hall, rubbing his eyes. She dropped the copy on the desk chair and turned to wrap the sleepy toddler in her arms. “C’mon, honey. Let’s go sit on the couch for a bit.”

The two sat and snuggled while Jonathan gradually got perkier and more attentive. When he started jabbering in the language of two-year-olds and eased off of her lap, Peggy stood and stretched. “You hungry? Let’s go get some dinner started.”

The rest of the evening was peaceful and quiet. With full stomachs, mother and son spent the next few hours watching movies on the sofa. Jonathan alternated between watching the screen, dragging toys from the bedroom, laying on the dog and trying to pull the cats tail.

The little tyke ran out of steam and finally collapsed on the sofa, lying beside his mother. Peggy thought about taking him to bed and tucking him in. But she sat, watching his angelic slumbering face instead.

It was close to ten o’clock before Derek came in, carrying a sleeping four-year old on his shoulder. He laid him on the couch next to his brother.

Peggy glanced up and bit back the retort that was on the tip of her tongue. As irritated as she was about the late hour, she also enjoyed having an evening of peace. She settled for a safe topic of conversation – Derek’s latest obsession. “The new plane fly okay?”

He grunted. “Yeah. ‘Til it hit a tree.”

“Ouch. It still flyable?”

“Nope. Totaled.”

“After all those weeks of work? And you only got one night of flight out of it?”

“Now don’t go giving me any grief over it. It’s not your time or money that smashed into smithereens.” He stared at her, as if challenging her to say anything further about it. “What’s for dinner?”

“Fish sticks. Mac and cheese. They’re in the microwave.”

“Of course. Fish sticks.” A sarcastic tone dripped from his words. “As if the night couldn’t get any shittier.”

He turned to head towards the kitchen. He glanced down at the chair by the desk and picked up the sheet of paper laying on it. “What’s this?”

 

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – air

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘air’.

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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Peggy sighed as she perused the popular magazine that showcased the top-notch sophisticated interiors. She glanced around her own living room. The Taylor’s décor was not even in the same league as the ornate displays in front of her.

She looked at the room with an eagle eye. Frayed, worn carpets filled the small, boxy house. The Taylor’s home had three bedrooms and two baths, but being just over a thousand square feet, it felt more like a cube with walls in it. The dining area of the kitchen barely had enough room for a small round table and four chairs. When the boys were smaller and still in a high chair, it was shoved in a corner with barely any room around it.

The previous owners had painted and wallpapered before they’d purchased the home when Clifford was a baby. But now, several years later, the tones and design were already dated, showing that they belonged in the previous decade.

It will be different when I’m designing gorgeous interiors for clients. That will give me my ‘fancy fix’ and I won’t be so unhappy with my own surroundings.

Peggy hoped that that’s the way it would happen. She thought if she repeated the thought to herself often enough, it would make it true.

Her ringing cell phone interrupted her wandering thoughts. Looking at the display of Sami’s smiling face, Peggy grinned. “Hey stranger! Long time, no talk.”

“I know. Right? You in the middle of cooking fish sticks?”

“No. Derek and Cliff went out to the airfield. I’m sitting here being a lazy slug while Jonathan naps. We’ll eat later, when the urge hits us.”

“I just wanted to hear what happened when you told Derek the news.”

Peggy laughed in reply to her friends query. “About school? Haven’t told him yet. He barely stopped at home long enough to gather his gear and beat feet away from here. Besides…I may not tell him yet. I’ll send in my application first. Then he can’t argue. The application fee isn’t refundable, so I can’t waste the money and not go then.”

“You have the fee?”

“Not yet. I’ll have to juggle a few things. Maybe pay the electric bill on next week’s paycheck instead of this one. It’s either that or pluck it out of thin air.”

“Better than plucking it out of…you know…other places.” Samantha’s laughter echoed through the phonelap-top.

Not long afterwards, Peggy clicked ‘end’ on their conversation and picked the school catalog back up and leafed through to the application page. Yep. She was going to do it. Right now.

She stood and moved to the small desk tucked in the corner of the room. Opening up her lap top, she typed the schools website into the browser bar and spoke aloud to the silver beast. “Here we go. It’s now or never.”

 

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