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.”

 

Return to TUESDAY TALES to read more delicious story snippets.

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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!’

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