Today is my youngest's first day of a complete Kindergarten class. The school did a staggered start, so her first day of Kindergarten was with only a third of the class attending this past Tuesday. Today, though, is the first day with the full class – and without any parents tagging along. Drop-off was at the door and everyone waved 'bye' as the Teacher and Teacher's Aide led the line of kids down the hall to their classroom.
As for writing, I'm very excited to dive into my big manuscript and get back to queries next week. This week I finished up the heavy slog of first-round editing on my space novella and handed off the story to my first reader / editor. (Spouses who like reading and who happily provide useful feedback are gifts to Authors and Writers.) And, as you can see below, my serial Short Stories have started again today! I'm so happy to be getting back into sharing words with you. Hope you have a great weekend!
1. Gran's House
Gran’s house smelled odd. Usually she’d have incense burning, so the lack of it left an acrid stillness to the scent of the place. Plus, somebody unfamiliar had cleaned in the kitchen, so an unwelcoming smell of bleach lingered where a tang of vinegar should have been.
“Will you be okay?” Grandma asked, resting a hand on Bissette’s arm.
“Yeah. I guess so.”
“Okay. We’re still all next door when you want to come back.” She kissed her oldest granddaughter’s cheek and hugged her shoulders.
Bissette leaned into the hug and smiled at her grandma. It had been years since she’d seen a lot of her relatives, and the new perspective of looking across or down at adults she’d only known as looking up to had been a jarring experience. Thankfully, her grandma was the same solid as always.
“I don’t think I’ll be too long.”
“Take as long as you want,” Grandma assured her with a final squeeze.
Bissette nodded and watched her grandma walk back along the path to where she lived next door. Gran had been Grandma’s mom. The two yards had become so interconnected over the years with pathways and gardens that it was mostly forgotten by the folks around town that the two houses each sat on their own properties.
Gran’s little house was a bungalow from the nineteen-thirties, built over a dirt crawl space that provided standing access the heat vents and plumbing. The crawl space was nearly five feet tall and had been completely bricked by a Mason in the sixties. Bricks had been easier than lifting the house for concrete, and the Mason was a friend of Pop’s who’d done it for cheap; Gran had paid the Mason in preserves. Pop would laugh and tell the story of the two weeks his friend would come by after work and brick up their crawl space until after dark so Gran had a nice space to put in little shelves for her preserves, and then he’d smile proudly that she’d given the friend the full payment’s equivalent in cherries, peaches, and wax-sealed jams.
“Of course, he didn’t know that she’d keep paying him every year because after most of the kids moved away she didn’t stop making the same amounts of everything,” he’d always add with a wink that made all of the small children giggle.
Bissette closed the door, setting the view of Grandma’s house into the frame of the half-window just above the knob. Grandma’s house was a big two-story with a separate garage that had been built in the nineties with property lines precariously close to the siding. The yard clung around it, gardens sprouting in the narrow gaps between walls and fences to spill over and bloom brightly in the comparatively wide spaces around Gran’s house. All the kids and grandkids had grown up on the paths between houses, visiting at one house and going for tea at the other depending only on where they’d left their suitcases.
Keeping her backpack shouldered, Bissette didn’t bother taking off her shoes. Gran would chide anyone fiercely for wearing socks; shoes or barefoot only in her house because the floors of a home were meant to be touched by soles. Bissette walked the short hall to the single spare bedroom and dropped her bag on the bed.
She was the oldest great-grandchild. Her grandma had been the quick product of a zealous, teenage marriage that had lasted an entire lifetime. Her mom had been a teenage mistake that her grandma had chosen to keep and turn into an adult choice. And Bissette was the first of five kids across two marriages – both happy, the first only ended because her dad got sick and passed away – making her the same age as her aunts and uncles born by her Grandma’s youngest sibling.
Out of all the grandkids and great-grandkids, Gran had left Bissette the house.
It was beyond strange to go from being twenty-six, buried in school debt and unable to make ends meet on three part-time jobs in spite of sharing rent with two roommates, to being twenty-six and the owner of a mortgage-free house. Gran’s will had recommended selling the property to start a life without debt, take any extra and go on a holiday, but nothing except Bissette taking ownership was required. When Bissette had checked the local market for jobs, though, there were three openings she was qualified for. Each one was full time, with benefits, and after sending her resume she’d had interviews for each one. Now she had a mortgage-free house and a really good job offer that would start in two weeks if she accepted it.
Living next door to her grandma would be… interesting. Family that close, when Bisette hadn’t been living close to family for a few years now, would take some getting used to. Then again, she wouldn’t be living there and visiting here like she was right now as everything settled out for the estate, so it would probably be fine. Actually, living here now would likely be not much different than when her parents had lived just up the street when she’d been a kid.
Afternoon sun broke through the clouds and threw rainbows all around the spare bedroom from the fairy drops in the window. Bissette turned and smiled at the many crystals hanging from fishing lines tied to a curtain rod Pop had hung inside the window. Gran had always called them fairy drops. Light refraction off the cut surfaces of a faceted crystal was a lot less enchanting than fairy magic, and Gran had always been enchanted.
Why are Authors crazy? I can't answer that, but I can provide bits of my own thoughts so that you can piece together why I may be.