Ten O’Clock Scholar – picture prompt

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

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt.

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

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It was the same as always with this site. That’s why Peggy only looked at Pinterest after the boys were in bed for the night. First she scrolled through the new posts. That task always took longer now that she followed more pages than ever before. New recipes, craft ideas, garden inspirations. Quotes that encouraged and motivated. An hour later she was still browsing. She hadn’t even looked at interior design ideas yet.

She pulled the loose tendrils off her neck that had escaped from her massive hair clip and muttered out loud to herself. “Okay. Ten more minutes. And that’s it.” Moving the mouse to the search option, she typed in ‘interior design living room.’

If the countless pins that showed up weren’t enough, additional options were listed across the top bar, giving her the chance to drill down even further: Colors. Warm. Rustic. Staircases. Modern. Bohemian. Small. Traditional. Cozy. Contemporary. Luxury. Simple. The possibilities went on and on.

Feeling whimsical and free-spirited, she clicked on ‘Bohemian.’ The images that appeared caused a feeling a peace to settle across her like a well-worn cloak. She grinned, feeling like she was stepping back in time, back to her younger care-free days – a time before husband and children – a time of fewer responsibilities.

She kept scrolling and looking, even as her eyelids began to droop and her shoulders began to sag. Yet, she couldn’t stop. She felt compelled to keep looking.

The sound of a buzzing alarm from her bedroom filtered through to her consciousness and jolted Peggy awake. She sat upright in the chair where she’d dozed and shook her head, trying to step out of the fogginess of slumber. Lifting her head, she saw the golden orange glow of the sun peeking over the horizon, casting its early morning embers across the sky. She wondered what Derek would say, or if he’d even notice that she never made it back to bed last night.

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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.

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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 – 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.

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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: staple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – cry

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

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

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

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

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

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

They will not make me feel old.

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

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

I am not too old for this!

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

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

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

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

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – life

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then…the morning happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jonathan, where’s your other shoe?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to TUESDAY TALES to read more delicious story snippets.

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Ten O’Clock Scholar – picture prompt

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

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten O’Clock Scholar – lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes. And baked potatoes.”

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

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