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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FREE BOOK: Following Your Dreams

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Are you following your dreams?

Are you chasing the life you desire with every fiber of your being?

Do you know what your dreams are?

Get a FREE COPY of Following Your Dreams.  Reflections, Affirmations, and Workbook Exercises help you focus on achieving a life you dream of.

Here’s one of the reflections and affirmations that’s included.

Commitment leads to action.
Action brings your dream closer.

Marcia Wieder

Dreams are destined to remain mere wishes, briefly flitting through our consciousness, until we take action to make them a reality. That’s why so many unwritten novels remain unwritten tomes, living forever in the minds of the author, but never making it to the page.

Ask anyone what their dreams are. Ask your friends, your family, or your co-workers. Almost everyone will have an answer for you. And then…ask them what they’re doing to make their dreams a real part of their lives. That’s where you’ll see the gap. Many won’t have an answer for that question.

Until we commit to our dreams, until we vow to take action, they will stay in the nebulous netherlands of ‘Someday’.

Make the first step towards an unrealized dream. Take the step of commitment.

Affirmation: Today, I commit to following my dream of _____________.

(Fill in the blank with one of your dreams.)

Get your FREE COPY of Following Your Dreams here!

beach vacation

Ten O’Clock Scholar – purple

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 ‘purple.’

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

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Nerves tingling with excitement, Peggy couldn’t wait to dive into her schoolwork once the boys were in bed. She was so anxious and ready to start her reading, she started the whole run the bath and lay out the jammies process thirty minutes earlier than usual. Not that the boys were that happy about it. But they were never excited about bath and bedtime, so their reaction was nothing new.

Neither was Derek’s. His behind was firmly attached to the sofa cushion and would remain there until he headed to bed. TV blaring, empty beer cans leaving wet rings on the coffee table, cigarette butts piling up in the ashtray; that was his usual nighttime routine. Peggy had tried getting him to help out with the boys at bedtime. His rote response did nothing to endear her to her husband. “Nothing doing. That’s your job. I work all day.”

As if I sit on my tush and eat bon bons all day.

But tonight nothing would erase the shimmer of anticipation that rippled around her.

Finally the boys were tucked into bed and Peggy headed for the kitchen table with the stack of books she needed for her classes. Opening the book for the Interior Design Basics class, she stroked the cover page lightly and silently admitted to herself – there’s nothing like the fragrance of a brand new textbook with its slick pristine pages, crisp to the touch.

Perusing the table of contents, the chapter on color theory caught her eye. “Page 178.” She muttered softly under her breath and flipped through the pages until she found the section she searched for. Skimming through the subheadings, she turned the page and stopped at the full size color wheel. Finding her favorite color, she read off the list of corresponding names.

purple colors“Violet. Boysenberry. Lavender. Plum. Lilac. Grape. Periwinkle. Eggplant. Iris. Amethyst. Orchid. Mulberry. Wine.”

Who knew there could be so many different colors and names of purple?

The sudden silence in the living room announced that Derek was done and headed for bed. She halfway wondered if he’d even come in the kitchen to say goodnight. She knew he wouldn’t make the trip in to throw his own empty cans away. A small part of her missed the old days of their marriage when they seemed happy to be around one another and would spend time in the evening cuddling and being intimate. The larger part of her was so disgusted with the current state of their relationship, she didn’t care at all if he came in to say goodnight – she almost preferred that he keep his distance and let her enjoy this small slice of quiet time. She had so little time for herself that she’d almost forgotten what it was like.

Return to TUESDAY TALES to read more delicious story snippets.

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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.

Return to TUESDAY TALES to read more delicious story snippets.

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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.

Return to TUESDAY TALES to read more delicious story snippets.

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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 – picture prompt

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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 a picture prompt. Picture prompt weeks are quick reading, as we’re only allowed a 300 word snippet.

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

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Textiles, History of Western Architecture, Space Planning, Lighting, Design Studio; the class requirements for an Interior Design major beckoned from the inky pages. Peggy ran her finger down the list, stopping at the classes that appealed to her. She couldn’t wait to get to some of the fun classes. But, she knew that she’d have to start with the preliminary classes first. “Introduction to Interior Design,” she read aloud and groaned. “I want to get to the good stuff.” She spoke aloud as if she weren’t sitting in the living room by herself.

A few of the classes were intimidating. Introduction to Lighting and CAD for Interior Design were two programs she’d love to skip. Unfortunately, they were both subjects she’d need to have knowledge of it she wanted to pursue this career field.

Could she do it? Could she complete the entire program while taking care of the house and her family? She wasn’t entirely sure. It was one thing to have a dream and the desire to follow it. Knowing whether or not she could achieve her dream was something else entirely.

She flipped to the pages tucked in the back of the catalog. One sheet outlined the courses she’d need – forty eight units if she took the required and the recommended classes. Another page had the general education requirements, another eighteen units. Did she want to go for the whole Associates Degree, or just tackle the classes for her certificate and get out of school quicker?

Unable to decide at that moment, she dropped the school catalog down beside her and reached for the Architectural Digest laying on the table next to the sofa. Leafing through the glossy pages, she browsed through the elegant rooms full of polished parquet floors, stunning stained glass windows and ornate stairways.

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.

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