Ten O’Clock Scholar – stone

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 ‘stone.’

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

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Sure enough, his footsteps padded down the carpeted hallway, right past the dining room table without a pause to stop and say goodnight. A brief moment of elation filled her with joy. She wouldn’t have to deal with his bullshit tonight. Almost as suddenly as the happiness descended, it fled, leaving in its place a well of sorrow and sadness.

Tears welled up behind her eyes, her vision clouded and sobs threatened to spill out. She caught herself and stopped the emotions from overwhelming her. She didn’t want him to hear her break down crying.

We can’t keep going on like this. I need to make a decision. I’ve got to give him an ultimatum. But…what if he takes me up on it? I don’t have any money. I don’t have a job. I have no earthly idea what I’d do then.

Reacting in a manner that had served her well her whole life, instead of dealing with the critical situation in front of her, Peggy tamped down her emotions and her thoughts and turned her attention to an action unrelated to the dilemma that left her feeling confused and helpless. She flipped through the pages of the opened textbook in front of her.

TT_stone bedroom.jpgA photograph of a peaceful, serene bedroom caught her eye, making her gape in awe. A rush of desire flooded through her. I want that room! The light neutral colors were soothing. The bed linens were plush and inviting. The beige stone wall behind was the perfect accent, lending a natural, but not rustic, feel to the atmosphere.

She turned the page to find another photograph depicting different stone varieties for interiors.

And here I thought stones were only used for walkways, or maybe some countertops.

She ran her finger down the list; marble, field stone, limestone, granite, slate, river rock, pebbles.

TT_stone.jpgI can see there’s going to be a learning curve in this class. There’s ideas here that I’ve never even thought of using in a room. I’d better start opening my eyes and checking out the possibilities. Maybe I’ll text Wanda tomorrow and see if she wants to meet up and go visit some model homes with me.

The grandfather clock on the wall ticked on as Peggy spent the next hour browsing through her brand new copy of The Fundamentals of Interior Design. After perusing through the end of the book, she returned to the first chapter and began reading. The Design Process. Yellow marker in hand, she highlighted sentences and sections that she wanted to make a note of. At some places she picked up a red pen and underlined words and ideas that she wanted to remember. On a legal pad she made notes of words to look up, and ideas she wanted to Google for more information. By the end of the chapter her mind whirled and tumbled with new data and facts. One more thought crossed her mind. She closed the book and set it aside, then pulled her laptop closer. Opening it up, when the screen appeared, she clicked on a favorite icon. Pinterest.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – hug

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 ‘hug.’

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

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Reaching for the note, Peggy kept her eyes on Mrs. Stone. After the teacher’s admonitions about tardiness and cell phones in the class, Peggy didn’t think that passing notes to one another would be an allowable action, even though she hadn’t specifically spoken against it. Even though many years had passed since Peggy sat in a classroom, she instantly felt like she was back in Junior High, passing notes to her best friend. Although, in this current technological age, it felt like old times. What the kids would call ‘old-school’, she supposed.

Looking at the piece of paper in her hand, she saw it was a phone number. She gave a thumbs up motion to Wanda, to acknowledge it. I’ll have to ask her if she texts. My parents do, but Wanda looks older – more like my grandparents age. They carry cell phones, but don’t know the first thing about texting.

Before she could worry more about Wanda’s texting abilities, she turned her attention back to the instructor, who was pacing back and forth across the front of the room during her introductory discourse. “…you’ll need to have your laptops with you every day.” She picked up a stack of papers from her desk and handed the pile to the corner seat. “Here is the syllabus for the quarter, along with instructions and passwords to log onto the online course items. We will have two mandatory field trips. One to the Pacific Design Center and one to the Gable House in Pasadena. The dates and times are in the syllabus.”

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Field trips? Clear to Pasadena? And the Design Center in LA? How am I going to work that out? I hope Mary’s up for a few longer days than I anticipated.

wallpaper samples.jpgBut she couldn’t dwell on that. Mrs. Stone was off in another flurry, opening the cupboards that ran the full length of three sides of the class. “…samples are in here…textile samples…wallpaper books…paint chips here…”

Even though the work seemed overwhelming, Peggy was enthusiastic to start learning. A ripple of excitement coursed through her soul as she imagined immersing herself in the hundreds – or thousands – of available samples.

By the time she left class, Peggy’s head was whirling with the massive assignment list the students received.

Wanda caught her elbow as she gathered her belongings. “Call me and we can compare notes about the class.”

“OK. But I don’t have a lot of time to chat during the day. You know, two young boys and all. You text?”

“Naturally.”

“Great. I usually text. But don’t take it personal if I don’t reply right away. Sometimes I’m in the middle of things and can’t answer then.”

A wistful smile filled Wanda’s face, smoothing out the crevices that lined her face. “I remember those days. Vaguely. Now my grandchildren are having children and I’m an old woman with nothing to fill her days.” A gleam in her eye replaced the look of longing. “Until school. Happy 60th birthday to me. Now there’s an agenda to my week and a purpose to get up and get dressed.”

Peggy chuckled and held up a palm for a high five. “Good for you! We’ll chat. But I’ve got to run and pick up the boys now. They’re not used to being left with a sitter, even though it’s a friend that they know.”

Dashing to the car, Peggy felt like dancing with glee. I needed this! School and learning. And making new friends. Topped off by giant hugs from the boys when I pick them up. Life doesn’t get any better than that.

It was when she was in the car, fighting traffic on the congested 10 Freeway that she thought of Derek and wondered what mood he was going to be in that evening.

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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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Ten O’Clock Scholar – love

Welcome to my Tuesday Tales post. For Tuesday Tales, a group of authors write to a word prompt. Once a month we spin a scene around a picture prompt.

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college and get 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 ‘love.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful reading.

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Derek hopped out of the van, a perpetual cigarette dangling from his lips and headed towards the garage door.

Peggy readjusted a sleepy toddler on her shoulder. “You’re home early. You finish the last house today?”

“Naw. We’ll finish it up Monday. If it doesn’t rain.”

“I thought the boss wanted all the wiring done this week. Wasn’t that what his big rant was earlier in the week?”

Lifting the heavy, unautomated garage door, Derek shrugged. “That’s what he wanted. But I’m done for the day. I’m meeting Kirk the airfield. I want to try out the Mustang that I finished last night. See how it’s gonna fly.”

“You and your damn toys. If it’s not the planes, its guns or motorcycles.” Peggy muttered under her breath as she turned her back and stomped towards the front door.

“I’m going with Daddy,” Cliff hollered. He followed his father into the garage, set in his plan to go with his dad and hang out with the big guys.

Peggy stopped and called out over her shoulder. “Is he going with you?”

tt-mustangDerek reappeared from the depths of the garage, carrying a black and silver radio controlled plane in one hand, RC control in the other. “Yeah. Grab a jacket for him though. We’re gonna be out there till dark.”

Biting her lip to keep her retort unspoken, Peggy went inside to lay Jonathan down and look for the leather bomber jacket they’d gotten Clifford, dad’s little mini-me, for Christmas.

Luckily for Peggy, the little one closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep as soon as she laid him down. Retrieving the garment from the closet, surprised it was even hanging up where it belonged, Peggy took it outside. She knew that Derek wouldn’t take the time to come in for it himself.

She stepped outside in time to see another plane added to the back of the van, with the empty ice chest going in last. She knew that they’d stop at the QT on the way out of town to fill the cooler with ice and beer. Lots of beer. Then they’d be off to the mock airstrip where the men gathered in the evenings and on the weekends.

Derek grabbed the jacket from her and headed towards the driver’s door without a backward glance, nor a goodbye. At least Clifford came running back for a hug and kiss before he rushed to the passenger side to join his dad.

Peggy headed back inside with her emotions torn. This left her Friday afternoon husband-free and quiet, which was a good thing. But, yet, she fumed about Derek spending every Friday night, Saturday and Sunday in his recreational pursuits.

Thoughts rolled through in a turmoil – While the grass grows knee high, the house paint is peeling, and there’s still a hole in the wall that need patched from the latest angry punch. God forbid he’d have to spend the evening here in family time – let alone any special time for just the two of us. Whatever did I see in the man?

A slideshow of snapshots drifted through her mind, memories of happier times. As she remembered specific events – motorcycle rides to Big Bear, four wheel driving in the desert, shooting rifles at the local range – it dawned on her that the time they spent together revolved around Derek’s favorite activities. Always.

“There was a time I was in love with him. I know there was.” She spoke aloud to the silence surrounding her, as if trying to convince herself of the fact.

Looking around, she contemplated which task to tackle first – a sink full of crusted dishes, a mound of soiled clothing begging to be washed, a pile of mail needing sorted, or a stack of letters and cards needing answered.

Choosing to do none of the above, she grabbed a cold soda from the refrigerator, plucked the college catalog out of her purse and sat down on the sofa to browse through the interior design classes that were scheduled for the upcoming quarter.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – metal

Welcome to my Tuesday Tales weekly post. Tuesday Tales is a group of authors writing in a variety of genres. Each week we write to a word prompt and once a month we spin a scene around a picture prompt. Picture prompt weeks are limited to 300 words, so reading that week is quick.

For the next few weeks, I’m stepping away from romance and working on something new, Ten O’Clock Scholar. In this story, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college and get 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 ‘metal.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful reading.

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“You haven’t told him yet?” Samantha’s eyes opened wide and her hand flew over her wide open mouth.

“Nope. Not yet. You know how he is, you’ve been around long enough.” The frown furrows around Peggy’s eyes deepened and her irises darkened as her anger flared. “You know he’s not supportive of what I try to do. All he does is tear me down and find fault. He’s the first one to point out why I can’t do something or why I’ll fail or why it won’t work. Unless…it comes to his model airplanes…or whatever his hobby of the month is. That’s a different story.”

“Yeppers. I’ve seen him in action. I have to admit that many times I’ve gone home wondering about how you’ve even stayed married to him all these years.”

playground.jpgPeggy’s eyes strayed over to the playground area and she pointed at her youngsters at play. “Two reasons. Right there. The boys, and the fact that I’m not working. That in itself limits my options.”

“That’s true. I’m glad that George and I have a good marriage. Most of the time at least. I wouldn’t know what I’d do if I had to support the girls as a single mother.” Samantha glanced at phone in her hand. “Arghhh. I’ve got to go. Mom in law is coming for dinner tonight and there’s tons I need to do before she pulls in the driveway.”

“She still a picky eater? What are you fixing?”

“We’re going out. Then I don’t need to try to cater to what she’ll eat or can’t eat. Or is allergic to – as she claims. So I really just need to do a major, thorough cleaning before she and her white gloves appear.” She stopped long enough to call out to her girls who were intent on the swings, each trying to pump their little legs harder to be the one swinging the highest. “Denise! Linda! We’ve got to go.”

As Samantha began gathering up sweaters, loose shoes and all the other mothering paraphernalia that goes along with an afternoon at the playground, she asked Peggy, “So…what are you fixing for dinner tonight?”

fish-sticks“Fish sticks.”

“Oh yeah. It’s Friday. Hey, are you Catholic or something? What is it with you and your fish on Friday?”

Peggy chuckled and rubbed her hands together with glee. “No, not Catholic. Fish sticks are cheap. And easy. But…best of all…Derek doesn’t really like them. He says they’re not a ‘real’ meal. It’s my little passive-aggressive way to get back to him for being such a butthead sometimes.”

Samantha laughed as she stood, shoved her phone in her back pocket and held her palm high in the air. “High-five, girl! You’ll have to keep me posted about the school thing. Who knows…maybe he’ll be okay with it this time around, and at least compromise with you.”

“Ha! I doubt it. There’s one way in the house. His way.” Peggy patted the bench she sat on. “He’s as rigid in his opinions as this seat is.”

By the time the boys were latched into their car seats and Peggy made the mile drive home, the knot in her stomach felt like one of the cast iron metal balls used in shot put competitions. She carefully eased a sleeping toddler out from under the straps, intending to take him straight to his bed for a continued nap.

Rambunctious four-year-old Cliff had other plans for his little brother. “Jonathan…wake up! We’re home.”

“Shhhh!” Peggy hushed Cliff, then glanced down to see a pair of tiny eyes peeping open at her. She grabbed for the diaper bag, trying not to drop her purse in the process, then groaned as she heard an engine and looked up to see Derek’s red work van coming to a stop in front of the house.

A Second Chance – TT ‘steel’

TT_bannerHere’s another snippet from A Second Chance, the prequel to My Wildest Dreams, the first book in A Growing Wings series.

In A Second Chance, Jenny suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and is grappling with a flurry of thoughts and emotions about it. This scene takes place several months later as she and three friends, two of them psychic, spent several weekends in a row trying to find the body of a murdered woman. This week our prompt is ‘steel’.

For more fascinating story snippets from the wonderful authors in the group, return to TUESDAY TALES here.

*****

The alarm rang much too early for a Sunday morning, my one guaranteed day off. “This is the third week in a row. Ugh, this is getting old,” I grumbled to myself. I hit snooze, thankful for another five minutes of slumber before that obnoxious ringtone would interrupt me again.

Four snoozes later, I groaned and finally rolled over and sat up. I debated about skipping my morning shower. If this Sunday went anything like the past two, we’d all be filthy and sweaty by the end of the day. I headed towards the shower anyway.

There’s something about wanting to be clean and fresh for a girls day out, knowing that at least two of the four of us would be dressed to impress, especially Nancy. I don’t care how casual the outing was, Nancy always looked like she’d stepped out of a fashion magazine. Carla, well she’d be in her typical tie-dyed t-shirt and jeans. Her attire never wavered. With Gail it was hard to tell. Sometimes she dressed in nondescript slacks topped with a nice ordinary blouse. When she was trying to prove how ‘psychic’ she was, she’d morph into Wanda the Fortuneteller, complete with crystals draped around her neck and bangles filling her arms.

I opted for my own off-duty uniform. Blue jeans, of course and my favorite gray t-shirt with dragonflies flitting all over the front of it. When I opened the door and realized how chilly the morning air still was, I returned to the bedroom and added an open Levi shirt with rolled up sleeves.

By the time I pulled into the parking lot where we all were meeting, I saw I was the last one there. The other three were standing around Nancy’s BMW chattering as if it had been years since we’d seen each other, instead of the single week that had passed.

“Hello!” All three called out to me. There was a brief pause in the conversation giving us time for hellos and hugs, and then Carla started talking again as if my appearance hadn’t happened. “I was thinking we could drive around the lake first to see if you pick up on anything, and then go to the old barn again.”

“Yes, the lake,” Gail broke in. “I was talking to some friends about it and it kept coming up that’s she’s buried under water. Under a bush.”

Her phrase caught my attention and I looked up to see if anyone had noticed it. ‘Talking to her friends’…hadn’t we all agreed that we weren’t going to mention our informal investigations to anyone else? Weren’t we going to keep quiet, until we found something concrete?

No one else seemed to notice. All three were talking fast and furious, as if each were trying to monopolize the discussion. My head bobbed back and forth, listening to all of them, with an occasional nod or ‘Uh huh’. Which wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I have a lot of thoughts and opinions, but when others dominate the conversation, I quiet down. This wasn’t a new occurrence with this group of friends. I’ve always been like that. The more animated the rest of the people get, the less I interject. Especially this early in the morning. I’d be perfectly happy if morning occurred, say, around noon.

TF_old barnHowever, even when I’m still half asleep, that doesn’t mean I don’t realize when I get cut off in conversation, nor does it mean it doesn’t bother me. We’d been together for several hours as we first walked around a cove area at Lake Lewis, and then moved to the old barn. After repeatedly being talked over, my aggravation level was increasing from a slow simmer to a rolling boil. We sat in the old barn, eating sandwiches we’d picked up at the sandwich shop where we’d met.

Gail was peering off in the distance, consulting with her ‘guides’. “She’s in here. She’s buried in this barn.”

Hmmm, I thought she’d been telling us how she was buried at the edge of the lake and was now under water. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut anymore. “But…what about the…”

“No. She’s here. They’re telling me that he buried her in here.”

“But Gail…didn’t you…”

“I know for a certainty.”

Carla wrapped her trash up and pushed it in the plastic bag. “Where in here though? This is a big barn.”

I tried again. “But I thought…”

“I brought my pendulum. Let me see what I get with it.” After digging in her pants pocket unsuccessfully, Gail stood to retrieve her divination tool from her slacks.

“Gail, didn’t you say…”

She turned her back on me and started pacing the length of the barn.

Clamping down the rush of steam that threatened to explode from my ears, I rose and stomped out of the barn. I didn’t trust myself to open my mouth right then, or something ugly was bound to pop out of it. Standing in the bright sunlight I closed my eyes and basked in the warmth, away from the chattering magpies inside. I let the angriness subside and seep out of my limbs into the earth beneath me.

Nancy’s quiet voice spoke beside me. “What are you doing out here by yourself?”

“Trying to calm down.”

“Gail? She can be a bit dramatic sometimes.”

Rustling footsteps behind us approached as the other two joined us in the neglected field surrounding the ramshackle barn.

“The dramatic doesn’t bother me. It’s repeatedly being talked over and interrupted.” I spoke louder at the end of my sentence, making sure that the others could hear me as they got closer.

“But you never speak up,” Gail said. “You’re always the quiet one and the rest of us are so loud, we just tend to take over.”

“I can be loud too,” I protested. “Next week I’ll be the noisy one.” I spoke with steely regard. I was going to be too. Next week, I vowed, I’d talk up a storm and rule the group with my chatter.

On the drive home I was already contemplating the hat I was going to make that week. Maybe even a t-shirt…I was going to proclaim my noisiness to the world, or at least to those at our next outing.

TF_Acceptance signMy newfound plans lasted until I crawled into bed and picked up the book I’d been reading. In One Man’s Love Story, Jason Hughes had a statement that stopped me in my tracks. “…it is about feeling a oneness and unity between body, mind, and soul, and perfectly accepting ourselves just the way we are.”

Ouch!

Just the way we are.

I am not the noisy one. To think that I could suddenly transform myself into a talkative, boisterous woman taking control of the group and not letting them get a chance to talk is disregarding myself. It means I am not accepting myself just the way I am.

Despite this revelation, I did proceed with my plans to make a special ball cap to wear the next week. When we met at our usual parking lot the next Sunday, I was sporting my newest creation. Topping my head was a black ball cap, embellished with paint and rhinestones. ‘I’m the QUIET one & PROUD of it!’

TF_acceptance quote

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