Break Time–or, a Story Called “Cat Nap”

Tonight’s writing challenge is…

Actually, there isn’t a challenge for tonight’s story.  As much fun as my extreme writing challenges are, sometimes a girl just wants to write with no constraints.

I’ve been asked before why I torture myself with my restricting challenges.  I always give those people the spiel about how they teach me about the flexibility of the English language and help me to convey single ideas in an endless number of ways.  But the truth is, most of the writing I do isn’t constrained like it is in my stories here.  I want to share a story I would write without any limitations.  So, enjoy.  Next post will be business as usual.  😉


There is no better napping place than Her stomach. Especially on the days she wears those wool sweaters. Nothing beats the moment she grabs a book and sits on the seat built into the window. The sun hits her just perfectly and I’ll lie on her stomach from the first page to the last.

It’s always been this way. The day she brought me home, she set me on her abdomen and introduced me to a warmth I’d never known. It was a drug I never gave up. Even when I grew and I could only lie on her stomach with my paws on her chest, reaching for her face.

Things changed, though. At first I couldn’t complain that her stomach was warmer than usual. Extra heat, yes please!

When my favorite napping place began to morph into a mound not fit for comfortable sleep, I grew a little worried. Was it a punishment? Did I eat one too many leaves off of the fern in the front window? Had I left paw print evidence of my midnight adventures on the kitchen counter?

Before long, her stomach was so big and round it wasn’t only uncomfortable, but it was impossible to lie upon it. When I tried, I either rolled right off or the lump in her shirt would kick me. I resorted to sleeping in the fresh laundry, no matter how much she scolded me. Fair is fair.

I barely noticed when her belly returned to normal. The return of my napping refuge came at the price of a new creature invading my territory. It was my size and kept low to the ground like I do, but it smelled suspiciously like a bath and elicited screeches that could break a deaf cat’s ears. The creature was almost permanently affixed to the warm belly I once napped upon. I was left to perch myself on the back of the sofa and look down upon the squealing thief in my spot.

For several years I endured the inconveniences of the creature’s presence. It stole my mousie toys and for a brief period even helped itself to my food. Only after it was locked in its bedroom was I free to curl up in my usual spot on her stomach, and only if I could catch her on the sofa before she found something to scrub or sweep or dust.

I accepted this new lifestyle eventually—against my will, of course. The creature began to grow, and the larger it became, the more belly time I seemed to procure.

On a winter night, she was cooking in the kitchen and the creature sat calmly in front of the television. Approaching with caution, I surveyed the creature as I cursed the cold air that had seeped in from the outside. The creature’s stomach looked almost big enough to lie upon. It was a risk, but it was one worth taking.

There is no better napping place than Her stomach. But in a pinch, the creature is just as happy to have me on his.


Extreme Writing Challenge #21: “One Week”

It might be Monday, but at least I’m kicking off the week with a new story!  See if you can detect the challenge in today’s post, and don’t forget about my 50-Word Writing Contest!  There are still three days to enter and you can submit as many as you like!  Now, without any further adieu:


More than anything, I just didn’t want her to ask me what I was thinking about.

“Can I give you some time to consider it?  A week, maybe?” she pleaded.

I stared at the newspaper in front of me, where only half an hour ago I had little on my mind other than the solution to the Jumble word puzzle.

“I don’t know, Jane,” I told her.  “Honestly, this feels a little like a joke.”

Jane picked up my pencil and doodled on a blank corner of the paper.  She scribbled a Kanji symbol.  It could have meant anything.  Heartbroken.  Jerk.  Fooled you!

Jane left and surprised me with a kiss on the head as she walked by.  The jingle of the bell on the glass door startled me, as if it woke me up from a bad dream.

I paid for my juice and pancakes and slipped out of the diner with the newspaper tucked safely under my arm.  I was smothered by the July heat, the kind that coats your skin with an instant mist of your own sweat.  By now, Jane could have been ten blocks away if she’d walked, and miles away if she’d come in her Jeep.

I was startled to find her just around the corner, sitting on the curb in front of the Jack in the Box.  I ducked behind a trash can and debated whether to join her or run the other way.  No matter what I decided now, I couldn’t escape judgment day in a week.

“Do you want a ride?” I asked her.

Jane peeked up at me through her Maui Jim sunglasses, the ones she said were her last big splurge before. . .well, before.

It was a five-minute drive to her father’s house.  In the front yard, her dad joyously raised a pair of shears as he waited for me to admire his freshly-trimmed juniper shrubs.

“Jared!” he called as his daughter stepped out of the car.  “Stick around for dinner?  We’re having tilapia,” he said with an emphasis meant to make it sound extravagant.

I glanced at Jane, who pretended to pick cat hairs off of her shirt.

“Thanks for the offer, but not tonight, Mr. Hill,” I said.

With a shrug, he returned to his shrubs.  Jane leaned in through the window, her eyes jolting me with guilt.  “See you in a week?”  I nodded and slowly pulled away.

At home, I looked up the Japanese character she’d jotted on my paper back at the diner.  Family.

The next morning, I phoned Jane.  “A week is not long enough for me to know how this will feel nine months from now or nine years from now.  But I don’t need a week to know I’m going to be there for both of you, no matter what.”

Through the phone, I heard her smile.


The challenge was:  In 500 words or less, I used at least 20 unique words containing J and 20 unique words containing K.

Side note:  Scrabble can go ahead and add some more J’s and K’s to the mix.  I’m ready to rumble!