Ten O’Clock Scholar – sticky

This snippet is written for Tuesday Tales, where a group of authors write to a word or picture prompt each week. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘sticky.’

Enjoy the snippet here, then go check out the other delightful tales you’ll find at Tuesday Tales.

Pulling her attention back to the teacher’s lesson, for the next hour Peggy immersed herself in antiquities. While she thoroughly enjoyed the lecture and found the facts about historic time periods fascinating, she also wondered what role that played in current interior design.

After all, it’s not like I’m going to be creating a living room to look like the inside of a pyramid, she mused quietly in her head. After Mrs. Stone’s earlier rebuke at the start of class, she certainly wasn’t going to speak the words aloud to Wanda. She stifled a giggle and tucked her bookmark in the current page on the textbook as the teacher wrapped up the lecture.

Mrs. Stone shut her laptop with a solid click, bringing the slide presentation to a close. As she stood and unlocked the classroom door, the students rustled about, picking up belongings and scurrying towards the door in a hurry. With only ten minutes between classes, with the next class sometimes being clear across the campus, there wasn’t time to dally.

Peggy felt a rush of relief, knowing that she had a free period between her Introduction to Interior Design and her Mechanical Drafting 101 class. This brief respite between classes gave her either time to study or catch up on reading – or, if she needed to doze for a few minutes and catch up on her missed sleep, then she could merely sit in the car and close her eyes. Today was probably going to be a day where she did the latter.

Before she could zip her tote closed, Wanda tapped on her shoulder. “Hey, on the museum tour day, you want to ride together?”

Conflicting emotions tore at Peggy. Rather than waffle about, she decided to be honest and direct, a lesson that she was finally learning how to do in life. “I’d really love to. It would be fun to drive together and chat. But with getting the boys to the sitter first, it would be too sticky for me timewise. By the time I drop them off…if my babysitter can watch them early, I’ll barely be able to make it to the museum in time.”

“That’s alright. I understand. Maybe I’ll check with the girl that takes the bus to class. If she doesn’t find anyone else to drive with, she might not mind taking a trip in with an old grandmother like myself.”

“Psshaw! You’re not that old.”

“How old do you think I am?”

Peggy hesitated. On this one, she decided she’d best pass on the honest and direct mode. She squinted her eyes and tipped her head, making a big play about looking closely at her classmate. “Hmmmm…hard to tell. I’m guessing older only because of the gray hair…fiftyish?”

A hundred-watt smile lit up Wanda’s face and she raised a palm to high-five Peggy. “Off by a mile! Sixty-four next month.”

A grin flickered across Peggy’s lips. Seeing the pleasure on Wanda’s face, she vowed to never admit she’d fudged on her answer.

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Dear Arlie – box


Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘box.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.


dear arlie_3 friends on the fence.jpg


Although the heat was rising, it didn’t slow the group of six friends down. They were on a mission to reach the cool shade of grove of trees lining the meadow. Only the girl’s silliness gave them occasional pause, as they stopped along the way when their giggles overcame them as they frolicked in front of the camera lens.

Millie took the camera from around her neck and held it out. “George, come get the camera and take a photograph of us girls.”

“I don’t know how to use that new-fangled contraption. Last time I shot a photograph it was still the old box type.”

“You can do it. It’s a snap. Come here, I’ll show you what to do.”

After a two minute instruction on the workings of the Kodak, George seemed satisfied that he could operate the device. “Besides,” he countered, “if you two girls can do it, then a strapping fellow such as I should be able to.”

Arlie snickered. “It’s not the brawn that will take a good photograph. It’s the brains that matter for this.”

George looked up at Arlie with a twinkle in his eye. “Then I guess I’ve got the brains too. After all, I’ve got enough smarts to know that I want you for my girl.”

A hot blush rose from Arlie’s neck and tainted her cheeks scarlet. She opened her mouth, but not a word came out.

“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” George teased.

Alla’s raised voice from behind them shattered the moment. “Come on you two. Arlie, get over here with Millie and I so George can take our picture.”

Reluctantly Arlie turned to go join her two friends. She rather would have stayed and pursued the conversation with George. A Cheshire grin lit up her face as they posed for the camera.

He likes me! He wants me for his girl!

As she settled in on a wooden step between Millie and Alla, Millie rose up and started acting like she was going to climb over the makeshift ladder contraption set over the barbed wire fence.

Arlie’s grin widened, even though she tried to sound outraged. “Millicent Arnold! What in the world. Get back down here before you show those young men more than they need to see. Sit down properly so George can get a good shot of us.”

The click of the camera echoed across the space and the girls knew that Millie’s shenanigans were captured on celluloid. “I get this one. It’s my birthday so I get this picture to put in my scrapbook.”

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Dear Arlie – silver

I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘silver.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.


As raindrops started pelting the glass, Arlie threw her hands to her cheeks and moaned. “Nooooo! It can’t rain.”

“Don’t think you have any say in the matter.” Millie was nothing if not matter of fact. “It’s gonna rain whether you want it to or not.”

“But it will be too muddy!” Arlie stomped her foot on the oak plank floor and crossed her arms across her chest in a pout. “And I want a picnic for my birthday.”

Alla shook her head slowly. “Oh…waaa…waaa…you get quite maudlin sometimes, Arlie. Do you think everything in life is going to go your way?”

A look of shock flashed across Arlie’s face. “Now that you mention it, dear…why…yes. I do believe that circumstances should favor my needs.”

“Your needs…and your whims…” Alla didn’t look very sympathetic.

“Oh poppycock. Needs. Whims. Wants. Whatever you want to call it. I do believe life should go according to my desires.” The firmness set in Arlie’s jaw compounded her intent.

Millie turned from where she stood watching the rain cascade down the bay window. “If you two would stop your snipping with each other and think logically about it, you’d realize that Arlie’s birthday isn’t for another week. It’s not likely that it’s going to rain for a solid week. It will be dry by picnic day.”

“You think. It’s rained for a week at a time before. Sometimes even two.” Arlie wrung her hands and began pacing the length of Millie’s bedroom.

“It has. But not during summer thundershower season. That usually happens in the spring.” Millie gracefully eased herself back down on her vanity seat. “Besides, as my Granny always says, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’ And she should know, with all the years she has behind her.”

Alla nodded her head in agreement, but didn’t add to the conversation.

Arlie scoffed in protest. “What silver lining could there be with this rain?”

Millie took a deep breath and appeared to be searching for patience. “Why dear, you know how low the creek gets during the summer. Some years it’s barely running by now. This rain will refresh the springs and it should be a nice wading depth for us in a week.”

Arlie didn’t look convinced. But when she awoke the next morning to the brilliant rays cast through her bedroom window, she knew that her friends were most likely correct. And they were. The rest of the week passed with nary another drop and the day of her party promised to be dry…and hot.

Saturday morning she sprung out of bed, wide eyed and bushy tailed. She could hardly get her corset tightened fast enough to run downstairs and check on the picnic preparations. When she scurried into the kitchen, she saw that Cook already had everything under control. An opened picnic hamper sat on the table, with a checked tablecloth folded beside.

Cook stood in front of a sizzling pan, turning pieces of fried chicken in the spattering oil. “Go on, girl. Get yourself some breakfast. You’ll have to wait on yourself this morning if you want this food ready before your friends arrive.”

“I do believe I’ll just have a piece of toast this morning.”

“Toast?” Cook snorted. “That won’t give you sustenance until the midday meal. You’ll waste away before you get to the meadow.”

“Okay. Toast with a bit of apple butter…and maybe a piece of fruit. I’m too nervous to eat much.”

Cook tried to suppress a smile. It didn’t work. The grin showed from ear to ear. “It’s that George fellow, isn’t it? You’re all atwitter over him going on the grand adventure with you today.”

Arlie smiled back at the sassy woman that had been a feature in their kitchen since she was a sprite. “Maybe…”

“Twaint no maybe about it. I can see what happens every time he’s around. You light up like a Christmas candle on a Christmas tree. That you do.”

Arlie cut a slice of bread from yesterday’s fresh baked loaf and popped it in their new-fangled contraption. Before it popped up ready to go, Alla and Millie arrived with a Kodak camera dangling around each of their necks. The girls giggled together while Arlie ate her light meal. Cook placed the containers of food in the picnic hamper, with plates and utensils laid in on the side of the basket. As she closed the lid, a knock at the side door announced more guests.

Arlie threw open the door to see George, William, and another boy standing on the porch.

George spoke up first with a slight blush rising up as the three stepped inside the kitchen. “Morning, Miss Arlie. This is Eddie, Williams’s cousin. You don’t mind if he tags along with us today, do you?”

Arlie cast her eyes down and simpered. “Why, not at all. It’s my pleasure.” She turned to the new fellow and held out her hand. “Eddie, so glad you could join us today.”

Millie looked up, appearing excited to see a third male guest. With a quick glance she acknowledged Eddie and then turned and dismissed him.

Alla made her way across the room towards where William stood inside the door. She hesitated as she passed Millie and murmured. “Not your cup of tea?”

Millie whispered back. “Not hardly. Too young and fresh faced. But he’ll be good company for the day.”

Chattering a mile a minute, the six friends left for the meadow. They moved as a group, taking turns carrying the wicker hamper until they reached the railroad tracks where they broke into pairs to traverse the portion they needed to walk along to reach the path that led to the meadow.

Millie hung back behind the others, hoping to capture a few photographs without her friends knowledge.

dear arlie_walking down RR tracks

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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.


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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September 2022

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