Hi, all! I'm running rather late with this update today, but it's for a good reason I promise :)
I got to volunteer at my kids' school this morning, helping out at their Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser activities. Talk about a super fun morning! The classes each came through two or three at a time, and us volunteers had stations all around the gym for different skip rope games and challenges.
As for the rest of my week, well... I've had a chronic repetitive strain injury in both my right and left forearms and wrists for getting close to thirty years now. Since leaving my day job and becoming an at-home mom and full-time writer two years ago, which means being able to dictate my own schedule and activities most hours of the day, my pain levels have dropped significantly. So significantly, I started to wonder if I might just be able to get pain-free one day and still have full use of both (or at least one) of my hands.
My doctor took my confession of pain seriously and, after some encouraging tests (x-rays showed no visible joint deterioration, and nerve test results came back as fully functioning in both arms), I started physiotherapy two weeks ago. I've had three appointments so far, and I have to say: OUCH! Yes, this stuff hurts lol. It's not as awful as I expected so far, however, and the awesome physiotherapist I'm seeing listens to what I'm saying. We use the exercise log I'm keeping to adjust and modify my at-home exercises as needed, and I make sure I do my exercises so I have progress to use for adjustments and modifications. I don't know if this will help (previous attempts had negative impacts), but if it does there's hope of recovering at least partially, and if it doesn't I have record of why not.
It's so foreign to dream about one day not having pain, but what an amazing thing to ponder. Hope you have a great weekend!
2. The Best for Last
The prints that described the rest of the mine were impressive. The area that had been rented for filing, the top section of rooms, was the smallest square footage. Looking down through the earth, with the main shaft at the center and imagining the mine’s levels fit into four equal quadrants of a circle, the top level wouldn’t have filled one quadrant. The second level, at a lower elevation, was about one and a half quadrants. The lowest level filled the remaining almost-half of the circle. Due to maintaining structural integrity, none of the levels overlapped. Dillan’s initial description for the levels as being ‘stairs’ made sense in how they stepped in dropping elevations around the central shaft. Ventilation tunnels and other points of access for regular use and emergencies were all noted on each level on the blueprints.
“Okay, so you bought a really nice hole,” Terry finally admitted. “Why am I down here though? I don’t see any diamonds.”
“This was a mine for stone or some kind of ore, not diamonds. And you’re here because of this,” Dillan said, leading her to the next table that was full of paperwork… for a spa?
Per the plan that he’d come up with, the entire top level would be a dedicated health and beauty spa, complete with hiking trails and a picnic area outside. So far, he’d already garnered interest from three wellness companies who wanted more information about the location and development progress.
The second level was being billed as a hotel. Dillan had been in and out of the hospitality industry for the past twenty years, so the spa and hotel plans were detailed, smart, and – even Terry had to note – surprisingly good. The hotel would also boast a unique banquet and event hall in the largest room, making the hotel and spa an interesting destination for both corporate and personal occasions.
“This part is a joke, right?” Terry asked, squinting at the plan for the third and lowest level as she tried to find a reason for it even existing.
“Nope. This is actually the part I’m most proud of. I got the idea when I stumbled onto subterranean farming articles while I was researching.”
Dillan proudly showed off the stack of blueprints for water recycling, rain capturing, walking paths… the whole third level was intended to be a greenhouse. Due to another large entryway to that level from outside, and the majority of worker facilities being there so already having the necessary plumbing to begin from, more than half of the third level was redesigned in the plans to become a working hydroponics farm for strawberries and spices. There was a necessary partition – complete with sound dampening – that would be built between the working farm and the rooms nearest to the hotel. Those rooms would be converted into public gardens and parks, accessible to hotel guests or through certain spa packages, and available individually as rental event destinations or mock-outdoor exercise class locations.
The hotel portion included the gardens on the third level and had five interested chains, and one interested private party. The farm already had fourteen interested clients and the mining company’s investment came in the form of onboarding and overseeing the corporation selected to run the commercial farm – the partnership with Dillan providing them a low-risk way to experiment with converting closed mines into more profitable options than file storage sites, as well as a potentially large public image boost.
Terry straightened and stretched her back. She looked around the room they were in through the ideas Dillan had about it and found herself seeing much too easily what he wanted to create. Her career contracting in commercial development, however, left a heavy sigh waiting in the center of her chest. What he wanted to do wasn’t possible on her half of the inheritance from their dad passing away. After liquidating assets, the numbers looked big in personal bank accounts, but they were very small numbers in the development world.
“I knew you were going to get that look, so I saved the best for last,” Dillan said. He was almost skipping (something her fifty-five year old eyes didn’t need to see) on his way to a lonely file cabinet standing against the nearest wall. The blue folder in his hands when he came back to where she was waiting had taken on his trembling excitement as he held it out to her.
The sigh inside her chest hissed out between her teeth as she took the folder. She expected to read a lot of not much in the pages it contained. Dillan often used her to review his contracts because she was better at the legal wording than he’d ever practiced to become, and often the first draft contracts he procured based on ‘interest’ were awful; lots of fancy wording that amounted to him footing all the cost and them receiving all the profits. After her reviews and provision of counter offers, ninety percent of the ‘interest’ would disappear. Dillan had scraped by on the ten percent of his ideas that got funded.
Inside the folder was not what she expected. At all.
Why are the kids sick again? I'm actually asking. We just got past the icky virus a week ago, so what's up with the underage yuck in our house again today? And, yes, I am asking these questions as my hubby hits the first recovery day of the cold he's had all week...
I'm not sure where my better half picked up this latest virus, usually the kids bring the illnesses home from school and he and I get sick after they do. (Our previous neighbor was a teacher for grade three and grade four students, and lovingly referred to her classroom as a petri dish.) So far I haven't started on symptoms yet. Do you think this cold would skip me if I hid all weekend? No? Well... humph. It was worth asking lol.
It was my birthday last week and I'm now officially 40. Maybe strange to a lot of people, but I was legitimately excited for this birthday, and I actually enjoyed the day. That's likely due in a large part to my current circle of people being awesome and there was no worry this year about anyone attempting to "make the birthday special". No surprises, no forced large-scale socializing, no expensive outings, just a nice day and some well wishes and a lot of smiles. I even ended up with a migraine in the evening, and my good mood remained while hiding in a dark room on enough pain medication to know I was completely unfit to operate heavy machinery.
For the writing side of things... depression and anxiety are still steadily eating away at my creativity. I've been able to thumb my nose at them and get some editing done, but this week hasn't been great. It really would be lovely to have a switch where my internal Voice of Can't can be shut off. At the very least, a volume knob that could be installed so I can turn it down. This week, rather than writing, I often changed the internal radio station to the channel for hanging out with kids and working on things to help out family. For the writing side, getting editing done works for me, for now.
For the knitting side, I figured out how to read a pattern! Not just a knit stitch / purl stitch beginner's pattern, but one with slip stitches and pretty shapes! Not cording yet, or double knitting, I'm just entering into the medium-difficulty range. The hard stuff still confuses the heck out of me lol. Hope you have a great weekend!
1. A Very Nice Hole
“Oh good. You bought a hole.” Terry was less than impressed, if the look on her face and the tone of her voice could be used as gauges.
“A mine, yes. One that was recently abandoned for mining and is up to the latest safety codes.” Dillan ignored his sister’s lack of excitement, he was easily excited enough for both of them.
“Great. Instead of just any hole, it’s a large one. Good investment for your half of the inheritance.” She covered her face with her hands in a way only ever used to hide rampant disappointment.
“I did actually put in a lot of research on this, and the company I bought it from is interested in investing in my idea.”
“If?” she asked.
“You bought something they didn’t want anymore, so their interest is only there if…?”
Dillan laughed. “No ‘if’ this time. They’re legit interested. I just need one more investor to make it work.”
“Oh, for… this is why I’m standing in front of a gate on a dead-end road? You want my half of the inheritance to sink into your hole?”
“That sounded really naughty,” he said, smirking. She smacked him in the back of the head, just like when they’d been kids, and he laughed as hard as he would have at thirteen. “Come on, at least let me show you what I’m planning before you decide to write me off.”
The keys jingled as he took them from his jacket pocket and shook out the one he needed from the rest on the ring. The lock clicking open echoed through the metal tubing it was built into and then Dillan pulled the gate just far enough for both of them to walk through.
“If you throw me off a cliff in there, I’m haunting you like a poltergeist.”
“There are no cliffs, and the river exposures are covered with steel mesh so I can’t drown you either,” he said, holding out a flashlight to her. “Besides, Doug should be your beneficiary by now. You guys have been married long enough that I doubt I’d get anything.”
“True,” she admitted, taking the high-powered light with a sigh.
Dillan beamed a thousand watt smile at her for even considering looking at his latest innovation, and she glared back at him with twenty years of experience behind each of his previous ideas barely keeping him financially independent. None of his ideas had failed, really, but none had ever taken off well enough to individually support him the way that he’d imagined. Unfortunately, his unsinkable optimism about every new idea based on the partial successes of his previous ones persisted. That meant Terry got dragged along for the journey with him on at least half.
Having an engaging, excitable, and charming little brother could be a pain in the ass. However, she’d never suffered from being convinced to invest. At least with the risks he took, she always got her money back.
At least, that’s how it’s been in the past, she thought, dubiously shining the beam of the flashlight around at the tunnel entrance.
“Okay, so you know, this place is completely safe. It was rated as bomb shelter approved by the city in event of emergencies, and the company I bought it from had been renting some of the higher rooms as secure file storage before deciding to sell.”
“That’s comforting,” Terry replied, not at all comforted at the thought of going underground.
Dillan clicked on his flashlight and shone it toward a specific point, searching that area of the wall for a moment. The switch-box and connected cabling looked like some kind of strange, mechanical spider bolted to the cut stone.
“As well,” he said, walking over to the switch box. “I called the power company last week just after I took possession.” He pulled all the levers, one at a time, and bright LED lights flared to life along the tunnel. Dillan clicked off his flashlight and smiled at his big sister. “The lights only extend to the rooms used for file storage, but that’s only how far we have to go. I have a map in case you want to check out more, though.”
The dark intimidation of the spacious tunnel evaporated under the lights. Terry clicked off her flashlight and followed her brother deeper into the mine. He babbled about rooms and pillars, ventilation, a main shaft, and what he called staired levels (because he couldn’t remember the actual term) as they went.
The lit rooms that had been rented for file storage still contained tables and chairs which Dillan had purchased along with the mine. Scrapes on the floors showed where the file cabinets had been. The rooms were a great deal larger than Terry had expected and, despite being underground and humid, the environment was comfortably cool and felt unrestricted. They turned into the last room that had lighting, the tunnel continuing darkly away into complete shadow. Rather than bare furniture, these tables were covered with paperwork.
“Welcome to my orifice,” Dillan said, gesturing widely for Terry to walk with him toward the nearest table.
5. Storm Wall
“Thank you again,” the stranger said, his eyes following Canna’s motion as she straightened. His smile shrank back to an upwards turned arc and he touched the tips of his fingers to the brim of his hat.
Dally didn’t know what to say. He was going to miss having Reduke around. Canna leaned into his side and sniffled quietly.
The stranger didn’t wait for a reply. One moment he was facing the couple, the next he was facing the street. Reduke pranced the first few steps away with him and then bounded back to get a final scratching from Dally and Canna. The man waited, still and silent, until the dog returned to his side and they set off beside the road together.
Dally and Canna watched them go, the oddness of the pair somehow matching together well. Neighbors watched them go as well. Almost everyone had been looking outside when the wind started, and they’d all seen the strange man come to collect his odd dog. The further the man and dog walked away, the harder the gusts of wind became.
The TV beeped out the news station’s warning sound and a live update interrupted the droning interview. Dally and Canna rushed in, slamming and locking the door behind them, and perched back on the couch in front of the TV. A gust of wind hit the house as the woman reporting the weather excitedly announced that the storm had started moving again. Dally and Canna whooped and jumped up to first check the living area window was shuttered tightly and then ran to the sleeping room to make sure the shutters in there were tightly closed. They crouched together in the middle of the house after confirming that everything electronic was turned off, and listened with relief as the noise of the eye wall drew closer.
“What do you think of this?” Canna asked. She’d been studying the old coin the stranger had given them in the glow of a flashlight.
“I think I liked having Reduke around more,” Dally said. Canna chuckled and then sniffled. She tucked the old coin into her pants pocket and snuggled closer under Dally’s arm.
“Maybe we should get a puppy after the storm passes?” she asked, her question loud in a sudden quiet outside. It was something they’d never talked about before, but now seemed like a really good idea.
“I think we should get at least one,” he agreed. He squeezed her tighter for a moment and then smiled up at the ceiling when a particularly strong gust shook the house. Thunder filled any quiet that Canna may have used to reply.
They huddled together for the night, dozing between watching the flashes of lightning until the worst the storm had to offer passed by and they could finally sleep. The pounding rain and the leaking roof were the sounds they woke up to, the main body of the storm seeming to be moving at the same pace that the first half had gone over the islands. If it was going the same speed, it would be a full two days from the eye to the outside of the hurricane.
The electricity was down for the house, so the TV and lamps didn’t work, but the radio ran on batteries. The weather forecasters estimated that the storm would be clear of the islands by tomorrow evening, leaving days of rain and cloud in its wake. It was the best news Dally had heard in weeks! He and Canna celebrated with cooking and eating a meal that filled them both. They talked easily about the stranger and Reduke, the coin, and included adopting puppies into their plans for what to do after the storm passed.
Canna wrapped up the leftovers in wax paper, and Dally put the package into a plastic bag that he hung from the knob for the front door. It was still too windy right now, but later today he should be able to go outside and take the extra food to Ida’s house. He and Canna fell asleep listening to the radio and the weather experts who were being interviewed now, waking a few hours later to the sounds of the storm diminishing like a proper hurricane should after the eye has passed. The batteries on the radio had died.
Dally held the food tightly and delivered it to his friend’s family as Canna replaced the batteries and found the spare flashlight. Dally was soaked through to the skin before he’d even reached the street on his way to Ida’s house. Ida barely cracked the door, only enough to accept the bag, and then Dally was on his way home again. Movement against the wind caught his attention.
Tucked behind garbage caught on a stone, two small, dark shapes huddled. They moved out of sync with the gusts. Dally unbuttoned the top half of his shirt and knelt in the mud, lifting the two puppies one at a time into his shirt. They were crying and shivering, their short fur soaked and spiked out with mud. He hurried home, cradling them one in each arm.
Canna tended to the puppies as Dally cleaned up, dried off and changed clothes. One puppy was brown and the other was grey, and both were drying to be almost impossibly fuzzy and soft. She had them wrapped together in a blanket in her lap, both of them yipping and playful, their sweet brown eyes crinkling at the corners as they smiled up at her. Dally joined her on the floor and took over crushing the rice and fish together. They laughed as the pups poured out of the blanket to wiggle around and around the bowl of food, spilling just as much as they lapped up.
“Should we make posters?” Canna asked. Both young dogs stopped eating and looked up at her, their soft eyes shifting to stare at Dally, their faces the same blunted triangle shape as Reduke’s.
Dally picked up the silver coin from the table and turned it to look at one side and then the other. He sighed. “I don’t think we’re meant to make posters,” he said.
Canna smiled at the coin and petted each of the puppies. “I think our neighbors won’t like our new puppies. They didn’t like Reduke.”
“We talked last year about moving off the island. Maybe we should now?”
Dally and Canna both smiled at the thought. There would be lots of work doing repairs wherever the hurricane made landfall on the mainland. That would be as good a place to start new as anywhere else might be. She leaned forward over the puppies and food bowl and kissed Dally, the moment interrupted by the pounding of helicopters. They broke off to smile and each cuddle a puppy. Tomorrow, supplies would return to the islands, and they could join the mass of people applying to leave. With their new dogs.
Hello! Hope you're having a happy Friday!
I know this is a universal thing for all parents, but I have to say it anyway: multiple kids living in the same house, cared for by the same adult(s), should not be able to be sick at the same time. The adult(s) caring for the kids should also not be capable of catching the same virus at the same time that the kids are still sick. (This is a summary of my week, by the way.) An achy fever hit our house. The 8-year-old got back to school on Wednesday with just some lingering sniffles, I've got lingering sniffles, but the 5-year-old... I have to know, should 5-year-olds be physically capable of producing this much snot? Is this really a thing? Because, honestly, this much snot trying to escape a head this small all at once is simply mean, Universe.
Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done. I did finish an editing round yesterday that I'm really happy about. One of my stories couldn't decide if it was a novelette or a short, and it had a really slow, dragging beginning that I couldn't figure out how to fix for the longest time. Yesterday morning the way to fix it popped into my head. The new starting point deleted 4k words off the beginning! I finished the needed rewriting in the remaining 12k words to fit in a few points previously woven into those 4k useless words, but hacking off the whole front made the story's pacing so much better. Now I've got a 13k word story to happily hack-and-slash in the next round of edits; this is definitely a short story now, not a novelette. Yay! Time to get the word count down :D
I hope you have a great weekend!
4. Changing Winds
“Did you hear the wind gust?” Dally asked, swinging the door closed with one hand and picking up the remote for the TV in the other. He and Canna perched on the couch, watching the news intently to see if there was any report of a change in the storm, hopeful for any change. The live interview with some weather expert continued, uninterrupted.
Another gust of wind slammed into the house. Dally and Canna smiled at each other. Dally had never believed he could be so excited for a hurricane eye wall to hit the islands as he was in that moment. They both scratched Reduke and included it in the hug they gave each other. The interview on the TV droned on, the conversation the same one as every day for the past week, only the interviewee ever changed.
A third gust hit the house and continued blowing fast enough to make the corners of the roof whistle. Dally couldn’t tell if the air was charged by what had to be approaching lightning, or if it was just his and Canna’s excitement. They released from the hug as the wind dropped off and stared at the TV expectantly, but the interview just kept going.
“I’ll check outside,” Dally said in a rush. He spun up to his feet and reached for the door.
Someone outside the door knocked politely. Dally glanced back at Canna and she only shrugged, as surprised as he was. Reduke was staring at the door as hard as it had stared at the eye wall before coming inside.
Dally straightened his shirt and opened the door. A tall, white-skinned, slim man in a crisply white suit was standing there, complete with a grey – or maybe brown? – shirt that looked like silk, a shining cane topped with a ball of smooth silver, and a formal white hat tilted slightly to his right crowned his slickly combed silver hair. He’d been looking toward the direction the gusts had been coming from but snapped to face Dally as soon as the door opened. He smiled widely, but the older appearance of his face didn’t crinkle. It almost looked like he was… stretched into a smile. The way his bottom jaw dropped slightly open exposed all of his teeth.
“Hello,” he said smoothly. His voice had a breathy quality to it. Inside, Reduke yipped like a puppy. The stranger’s smile remained in place as his head snapped into a new position, allowing him to look further into the house than just where Dally was standing. “I saw this at the dock. I believe you found my… dog?” the stranger continued. The movements of his arms were dramatic, as if he was performing a magical act by taking a folded paper from the inside pocket of his suit coat. His long fingers gracefully unfolded one of the posters that Dally and Canna had made, presenting it to be seen and smiling his large smile at Canna.
“Can you… can you provide any identifiers not included in the poster?” Dally asked hesitantly, stepping into the strange man’s line of sight. The stranger’s focus snapped to Dally, his smile dimming to an upturned arc of closed lips as he scanned the poster for the provided information.
“Her name is Reduke, as noted on one of her tags. The other tag used to have my”– he paused, eyes glancing up as if he was looking for the words he meant to say next on the door frame –“contact information, but it wore off a few years ago and I’ve forgotten to replace it. Her collar is plain leather, brown, and she loves having her left ear scratched in a delicious way that makes her back leg shake.”
Canna let go of Reduke’s collar and the beast of a mutt bounded in one leap over the couch to dance and wiggle like a small pup around the strange man’s legs. He jerked down to a squat and hugged the dog. Canna came around the couch laughing at Reduke’s antics, and then wiped her eyes as she smiled at the dog snuggling with the stranger. His impeccable suit was still perfectly creased when he stood up. He folded the poster and tucked it away into his suit coat pocket again, and then held out his hand toward Dally.
“Well, this is just superb! Thank you so much. I was terribly worried about her,” the stranger said. His fingers felt as smooth as the silk shirt he was wearing looked when Dally shook his hand.
“She’s a great dog,” Dally said.
“We really enjoyed having her here,” Canna added, hugging one arm around Dally and using the other hand to scratch at Reduke’s ear. The stranger’s stare snapped down to look at how Canna was patting the dog – and the dog’s obvious enjoyment of it – and then slowly lifted in a full assessment of Dally and Canna. His wide smile with too many teeth spread across his face after a moment of blank staring.
“She is wonderful,” he agreed. His head snapped forward to look at the dog, and then back up to look at Dally and Canna, his smile fixed in place. He finally released Dally’s hand. “I want to thank you for taking such good care of her. A reward,” he said. He blinked each time his head snapped to change which person of the couple he was looking at. Dally noticed his eyes were a grey shade of blue when the stranger looked at him, but when he looked at Canna his eyes were… Dally decided to think of it as not blue.
The stranger tossed his cane from one hand to the other, his stare taking on a distance as if he was looking over a large crowd, and then reached into his pants pocket with his now empty hand. With a flourish, he held up a shiny, silver-colored disk pinched between his thumb and index finger, the rest of his fingers splayed widely. It was an old fashioned coin, polished to a shine.
“For your trouble, and your kindness,” he said, holding up the coin for them to see. “It’s silver. I’m afraid it’s all I have on me of any value. I hope it’s enough.” As he was speaking, his hand twisted and the coin danced over the backs of his fingers before flipping into the air, flashing as it spun, and landing heavily in the center of the stranger’s palm. Dally and Canna both chuckled at the trick.
“No. She was no trouble, so that’s too –”
“But I insist,” the stranger interrupted Canna’s polite protest, his wide smile growing impossibly wider. Reduke yipped and licked the man’s outstretched hand and then nuzzled her nose into Canna’s stomach.
Canna bent over and planted a kiss on the top of the dog’s head. “For you, I’ll take the reward.” Canna held the dog’s face as she spoke to her. Reduke yipped and her tail wagged. Dally accepted the coin.
You know those days where you just want to burn everything down and walk away? But then you know if you do that, all the good stuff burns down too and there's way more good stuff than crap? Why is there not a way of doing controlled burns? Forestry does that in parks to limit exposure of areas to invasive pests and to create breaks intended to aid in fighting forest fires during fire seasons.
Or did I just describe 'adulting' in an overly-simplified way?
I propose a new definition for Successful Adulting: skillfully managing metaphorical controlled burns to eliminate the garbage parts of your life in order to maintain the well-being and diversity of the healthy areas.
In case you're wondering, yes actually, the crap things going on in my world are kinda stressful lately lol. The annoying part that led to the internal screaming and rage-y / burn-y thoughts this morning is that I can't tell if the crap things are causing the anxiety spike leading to insomnia, or if insomnia is causing the anxiety spike that's making the crap things look so bad. It's a fun cycle... not. But the idea of controlled burns to get the crap stuff out of my world led to the imaginary movie-poster image of my extra-petite and mostly mild therapist as the hero wielding a flame-thrower against my anxiety monsters under the banner I'M A PROFESSIONAL, so that provided a giggle for me. :)
My crap aside, are you doing all right? Eating enough? Sleeping okay? Got out of bed and didn't stab anyone with office scissors ? Successful adulting sticker achieved for today if you can answer "yes" to at least two of these questions.
Writing accountability update... meh. This week I got When it's Not Right up in Wattpad. After that, a quick update to my website – book news! Check out my Home page if you're interested – and then I jumped into editing on short stories because I like posting stories in my Blog, but not the first drafts. ;) Hope you have a good weekend!
3. One Gust
Since the storm had stopped, Reduke spent its days outside and nights indoors with Canna and Dally. Canna laughed hard when it tried to get onto their little couch with them a couple nights ago, and that was the first time Dally and Canna saw Reduke smiling. Its lips pulled back just enough to show hints of impressive teeth and its eyes crinkled at the outside corners. Dally and Canna had both cooed at how cute and dopey the big dog looked and then laughed together as they tried to fit all three of them onto seating made for two people.
Dally had gotten everything put away and just sat down to watch TV and wait for Canna when her keys rattled in the door. Dally turned the TV back off and met her coming in. Well, trying to come in. Reduke was shoving her this way and that, excited as a puppy, as she laughingly attempted to get around it to put the first water jug down. Putting the jug on the floor got her face on level with Reduke and she was instantly drowning in slobbery kisses. She hugged the mutt and then straightened up to wipe her face on her sleeve and say hello to Dally. The two of them got her car unloaded as Reduke dutifully stood guard, eying the street in all directions seemingly at once. A car that had followed Canna and then parked nearby – but didn’t belong to a neighbor – quickly drove away after Reduke stared at the two men inside for a full minute.
Canna scratched Reduke’s chin and congratulated it for keeping her safe once they were done getting the water into the house. The big dog followed them inside, already impatiently waiting for them to finish making and having supper so that they could all sit together on the little couch. They still didn’t know what Reduke ate, but none of the local pets (or their owners) were missing, so Canna and Dally assumed whatever it did eat was mostly harmless.
“You wouldn’t believe the waves today,” Canna said, setting her plate on the table before sitting down to eat with Dally. “Some of the rogue waves were even moving the big cruise ship enough to see the tilt from shore. It’s worse than last week.”
“What about the flooding?” Dally asked, between bites of fish.
“It’s getting worse,” she answered through a mouthful of rice before swallowing. “The water level is half-way as high as the storm surge.”
“In line today, I heard that the relief soldiers moved to the few good farms. That they’re protecting the new crops, now.”
“That’s ridiculous. There are no more crops,” Canna stated, frowning across the table at him.
“Maybe. But, still, there were only two soldiers when I got rations today.”
“There were seven at the dock. I heard in line there that yesterday someone tried to incite a mob for fresh water. Guns were drawn to calm down the problem people.”
“Tourists?” Dally asked, expecting the nod of agreement that Canna gave him.
Reduke whined quietly and rested its head on the table half-way between them. They each smiled at it and reached to scratch its ears at the same time. The big dog’s mouth lifted into a wolfy grin and its eyes crinkled happily in the corners. Reduke had a way of easing the tension and worry out of the room.
Dally and Canna finished their small meal quickly. While Canna was tidying their kitchen, Dally packed half the leftover rice into wax paper.
“Come on, Reduke,” Dally invited, patting his leg. Reduke cocked its head to one side, questioning the change in routine. “Rations are small this week. Ida’s family is still big,” Dally explained to the dog.
Reduke came outside and immediately walked over to roll in the garden. Dally laughed at the antics and continued on two houses away to politely knock on the door. Ida had been a friend since childhood, and his house was one of the lucky ones which hadn’t been too badly damaged in the looting. Their food had been well hidden, but some of it had been found and stolen, leaving both parents and the four children short on rations every week.
Ida was carrying the baby when he opened the door enough to see out. Dally held up the package of cooked rice. Ida looked around Dally’s legs and then over his shoulders out into the street to confirm Reduke wasn’t nearby before opening the door any further. Ida’s kids loved the mutt, but Ida and his wife definitely did not.
“Rice. Made fresh an hour ago,” Dally said.
“Thanks.” Ida took the package. The baby lunged forward and reached chubby hands for it. Dally smiled at the sudden juggling act Ida was expertly performing. The rice package stayed closed and away from the grasping fingers, and Ida was still holding both the baby and the rice perfectly balanced in a new position. “You and Canna are next,” Ida warned, looking pointedly at his youngest son and then at Dally.
“We’re trying, so I guess we’ll find out,” Dally said with a smile. They weren’t trying, but he knew from many conversations over the years that this was the response he was supposed to give. “Have a good night,” he added, turning to leave.
A burst of wind fluttered leaves and flattened littered paper against the nearest surfaces. The gust tumbled a few toys in yards, making things jingle and thump as if they were being played with. Dally and Ida both turned hopefully into the wind and stared toward the storm’s eye wall.
“Does it look any closer to you?” Ida asked after a moment.
Dally spun to compare the distances between where the gust had come from and where it was going. “No. But the news will tell us. I should get home.”
As if to reinforce the statement, Reduke barked once and distant thunder replied like an echo. It was standing on full alert in the middle of Dally and Canna’s garden, staring in the direction the wind had originated from. Ida shuddered after a glance at the dog, then stepped inside and closed the door. Dally hurried home.
“Hey there, Reduke. You okay?” Dally asked the dog. Reduke’s stiff posture folded into worried pacing around Dally’s legs as they walked to the front door. It whined quietly when Dally scrubbed gently at its ears and then trotted the few paces to Canna to include her in the tight steps as soon as Dally opened the door.
“What happened?” she asked both the dog and Dally.
A blog with quick updates about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and where I can vent my short stories weekly for everyone to read for free!