I’m impressed with myself that I managed to write another story already this week. Not only have I been trying to keep up with my Goodreads pledge to read 75 books this year, and train for my 5k this weekend, but I’ve been unreasonably busy with trying to break my cats’ bad habits. For instance, one of them has discovered how to reach my out-of-reach stash of scarves and constantly drags them all over the house and leaves them in random places for me to find. As soon as I’ve gathered them all up, I turn around to find another one lying in the middle of the floor. Sigh…
Anyway, here’s a new story, hot off the press. You’ll find out at the bottom what today’s challenge was!
Sitting on the purple leather couch, I don’t know what I ought to be doing. I can remember what we ate for breakfast, how many red cars we passed on the way here, and the cheap, leaden sound of the doorbell. But sitting here now, I can’t recall the reason Mom drove us here in the first place.
Katie turns the dial on Dad’s old TV, hoping for the glint of a cartoon character as she sails past soap operas and paper towel commercials. I creep down off the couch and sneak over to the doorway. Cupping my ear, I strain to sift Mom’s whispers out of the sampling of sounds on the television. Mom told us to wait in here while she talks to Dad.
Katie hesitates at channel 42, intrigued by a baby in a dinosaur costume. When she turns the dial there is only static, and another turn takes her back to the first channel. “You’re back at the beginning, just pick something,” I tell Katie, who surfs again through all of the channels with preserved enthusiasm. When she finally settles on a program about elephants, I let myself relax. It’s not hard to separate the sound of my mom and dad from the gentle narrator on the TV.
Part of me immediately wishes Katie would change the channel to the loudest, most chaotic show she can find. Either a walrus is dying or Mom is sobbing. Worried that Katie might hear, I ask her, “Can you turn it up a little?” Katie stares at me with a finger in her mouth and says, “Why don’t you just sit closer?” Before I can answer, footsteps thump down the hallway like conga drums. I throw myself back onto the couch, but the footsteps pass our room. I return to my post at the door.
From the kitchen comes the musical sound of a glass shattering against the wall. “Jesus H. Christ, Veronica, how many times do we have to do this?” Dad shouts. Katie turns the volume up from 8 to 12. In Dad’s bedroom, where the footsteps had stopped, drawers open and slam shut. Mom is back there, cursing like they do on the DVDs we’re not allowed to watch.
Dad bursts into our room. He’s quiet and only stares at us, eyes darting from me to Katie to me again. Katie wants to cry, I can see it in her eyes. Finally she asks, quietly, “Daddy, did you know Asian elephants can tear down trees with their trunks?”
Behind Dad, Mom appears suddenly in the doorway. She’s out of breath. “Riley, Katie, we need to go. Now!” Grabbing Katie’s hand, we follow Mom down the hallway and out the front door. “What about Daddy?” Katie asks. “How come we didn’t get to say goodbye?”
As Mom ushers us out onto the front step, the smoke detector begins to screech. Katie stops briefly and says, “Is Daddy’s house on fire?” Mom doesn’t answer, she just opens the back door and hurries us into our seats. Dad runs out of the house with the phone to his ear, but by the time he sees us we’re backing into the street.
“Mommy?” Katie asks, turning so she can watch Dad as he fades into the background, “when do we get to see Daddy again?”
“Never,” Mom says. “Now, buckle your seatbelt. Mommy’s about to give this car a whole lot of gas.”
Today’s challenge was: The first letter of each sentence does not appear anywhere else in that sentence, beginning with the second word. So if the first word of the sentence is “Sitting,” the letter S can appear only in that first word and not again in that same sentence.
Now let’s see if I can walk through the kitchen to my bedroom without finding a scarf or two in a heap on the floor…