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.
A weekly blog updating on Saturdays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!