Dear Toddler, I Have A Problem With You

Dear Toddler,

I see you.  You’re standing there with your big eyes, little feet, and sticky Hobbit hands, flashing that impish grin at me.  You know that you’re adorable, but guess what?  I’m not falling for it.

I’ve got a lot of problems with you and now, you’re going to hear about them.

You’ve had two years to figure this shit out.  Two.  A person can get an Associate degree in two years.  So, what have you been doing with your time?

Let’s start with an obvious one.  Diaper changes.  We do this EVERY SINGLE DAY, several times a day.  Nothing about it should come as a surprise to you.  So, why do I need an exorcist every time I put you on the changing table?  I CAN’T CLEAN YOU UP when you arch your back, kick me in the face, and scream bloody murder.

If you hate diaper changes that much, then here’s an idea:  COOPERATE WITH POTTY TRAINING.  According to meme studies supplied by online strangers, you’re already behind your peers.  This is your own fault.  You lack focus.  It’s not that hard to aim and drop something into a toilet.  You’ve done it with my phone.  And people train cats to do it.  I know.  I’ve seen videos of cats flushing a toilet.  I’d like to believe that what I begat is smarter than a cat.

Speaking of cats, let’s apply some common sense here.  A tail is not a penis.  Please don’t yank it. And coating the cat in maple syrup and flour will not turn him into a pancake. It will not make him like you. Do you see anyone else doing that?  Don’t be a pioneer. Either pet the cat or ignore him.

Did I just mention pancakes?  Let’s discuss meal time.  Being a toddler is hard.  People always tell you when to play, snack or nap.  It’s a rough life.  But when your Highness experiences meal fatigue, could you please leave the plate ON the table instead of whipping it across the room like a drunk?  You’ve mastered signing AND saying “All Done.”  Why don’t we put these newfound skills to work at meal time?

Now, let’s talk about these tantrums.  I’m going to be brutally honest.  You get upset over stupid shit.  And I know that you think I’m a god, but I can’t control certain things.  Like cloud coverage.  I’m sorry that the sky is too blue for your Majesty.  And I don’t know why the neighbor decided to drive HIS big, red truck to work today without consulting you. But none of these offenses justify your strip show at Target.  I don’t care if you’re a boy or a girl.  Trampy toddlers come in either gender.  Have some self-respect.  Stop flashing your pull-ups in Produce.

Speaking of Target, and the Starbucks attached to Target, and the drive-thru attached to the Starbucks nowhere near Target, let’s talk about coffee.  Being a Mommy requires coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  I gave up caffeine AND booze for both of you during pregnancy.  That’s a grand total of TWENTY MONTHS.  I’m a saint, so I don’t need your howler-monkey protests now that I’m hitting the ‘BUX again.  Do something constructive while Mommy caffeinates.  Read Dickens.

One last thing.  Do you remember the time you spotted that Calliou doll at your aunt’s house?  And how you asked me for one?  No.  Just, no.  I’ve heard about this bald-headed bastard.  He’s the gateway to whining.  I’m not letting him near the house, so watch PBS instead.  Learn math.  Get a STEM job.

Well, I hope this helps you get your shit together.  Here are some GMO-filled Cheerios.  Or maybe they don’t contain GMO’s anymore.  I don’t know. Just eat them and fend for yourself for a few minutes without falling down the stairs. Mommy needs to hide and stuff her face with gluten-filled goodies.

With much love,

Your adoring underpaid servant

Day 9: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 9.  Two dwarves.  One mission.  To make a special delivery to a realm called Earth.  Let’s see how this scene from Charlie Weaver goes:  (The italicized portion is from the Day 8 post.  I needed a running start……)

“I would have much rather stayed at home and tended my garden.  But did I?  No.  Instead I’m here, risking my life for you.”  Sherbert turned her back to him and jumped down from the step.

“Well, I don’t need your help,” Herbert snapped.  “I’ve been on plenty of missions.  I could have done this one by myself.”

Sherbert scowled. “Fine.  If you don’t want me here, then I’m leaving.”

Before she could storm off, the thick, wooden door swung open.  A baritone voice cut through the silence of the night.  “Great horny toads!  Who the dickens are you?  And why are you bothering me in the middle of the night?”

Both dwarves stopped talking and stared at the curious figure on the porch.  A large man with long gray hair, bushy dark brows and a grizzled beard bent down and scowled at them.  Was this the Guardian that they were seeking?  He bore no resemblance to the dignified persona each dwarf had envisioned.

“Your caterwauling is going to wake up the entire neighborhood,” he boomed, waving one large, beefy hand at them.  “Move, critters.”

Herbert barely squeaked out his question.  “Move?”

“Yes.  MOVE, critter.  MOVE,” the man bellowed, waving one large, beefy hand at them.  “Quit yammering and move inside the house before someone spots you.”

Completely flustered, Herbert picked up the basket and walked into the house without protest.  Even Sherbert, who was normally unruffled by anything, failed to point out the sloping landscape that surrounded the house.  The closest neighbor was at least one mile away.  Intimidated, she followed her brother inside.

The man waved them into a large room.  Embers crackled in the fireplace, giving the room a warm, cozy glow.  Tan walls were decorated with colorful tapestries.  There was one large sofa and an arm chair by the fireplace.  Herbert and Sherbert exchanged uncertain glances.

“Well, don’t just stand there gawking at me like a bunch of pop-eyed toads.  Sit down,” the man boomed, pointing to the sofa.  “Sit, sit.”

Gingerly, Sherbert climbed onto the sofa.  Herbert gently placed the basket by the arm chair, before started his formal introduction speech.  “Greetings Sir,” Herbert started, squaring his shoulders.  “On behalf of the Elders Council, allow me…..”

“Elders Council?”  The man guffawed, reaching into a box on a table next to the arm chair.  He pulled out a pipe.  “What the hell is an Elders Council?”  The man struck a match, lit the end of the pipe and puffed three perfect rings of smoke before glaring at Herbert.

This wasn’t how this first meeting was supposed to go.  Not at all.  Especially not when such an important delivery was at stake.  Herbert had no idea how to proceed when a recipient didn’t follow protocol.  Floored, he looked helplessly at Sherbert.

Sighing, Sherbert hopped down from the sofa.  It was time to take charge.  “Sir, it would help if you didn’t yell at us.”

“Yell?” The man bellowed in a voice that echoed from the rafters of the house.  “I’m not yelling.  Quit stalling and get to the point, Missy.  Who are you and what’s your business here?”

“Lanka is under attack,” Herbert blurted out and immediately regretted it.  So much for following protocol and gently approaching the recipient about the delivery.

Well, that news silenced the man.  He actually appeared stunned for a moment, as he processed Herbert’s statement.

 

Day 1: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

What’s the deal?  Why another 30-day challenge?  I made the 2016 New Year’s Resolution to complete my first manuscript by the end of this year.  Despite many red ombre cup sacrifices on the altars of Starbucks and Barnes and Nobles, no progress has been made.  This book just isn’t writing itself.

Why not?  Well, let’s be blunt.  Because I’m a slacker who needs a swift kick in the rear.

I’m not sure what it is about 30-day challenges, but they definitely motivate me to write.  I’ve had this character walking around in my head for a while and over the holiday, she temporarily evicted Charlie Weaver and Shivani Roy.  I am not certain about her name (although I have one idea), but I AM certain about what she is.

She’s a Sanctimommy.  

????  What the hell is a “Sanctimommy?”

According to Wikipedia, a sanctimommy is “a portmanteau of two words, sanctimonious and mommy. The word is a colloquialism used to refer to a person, usually a female, who has very opinionated views on child rearing and presents them upfront without any sense of humility.”

Last week, I actually wrote out and posted one of the scenes that has been swirling in my head for a while.  (“A Sanctimommy Visits The Mall.”)  I received positive feedback from friends, family AND my husband.  This is big, since my husband, a nonfiction reader, isn’t really into the genres that I write about.  He actually laughed.  A few friends asked me if I had more stories like this.

This is the first time anyone has actually asked me for MORE stories about one of my characters……

I want to use this challenge to write out as many “Sanctimommy” stories as I can over the next 30 days.  I don’t know if this will be anything, but I feel compelled to follow it.  So here goes:

Over the weekend, as I patrolled a neighborhood on the other side of town, I spotted several minivans parked beside the curb of a house.  There was a sign in the yard.  It said “Open House.”  I pulled my minivan over to the side and observed the driveway with interest.  There were several families walking into the house.  Many of them had small children.  I couldn’t spot any glaring errors in parenting, but I stepped out of the car.  I was certain that if I went inside, someone would need my help.

I unstrapped my precious guppy from his car seat and gently placed him in my carrier.  I did a few squats on the sidewalk to make sure he was safely secured before walking across the street and inside the house.  At first glance, the foyer appeared somewhat clean.  But when I looked up, I spotted a single cobweb thread hanging precariously from the chandelier.  The owners obviously felt that hygiene wasn’t important.  Inwardly cringing at the filth, I reached into my bag to assure myself that I had plenty of hand sanitizer and antibacterial liquid soap for later.

Determined to save the other unsuspecting families, I followed them into the bowels of the house.  A woman was speaking with a couple when I entered the kitchen.  She interrupted her conversation to smile and greet me.  “Hi, I’m Kathy.  Feel free to look around.  I’m going to help this family upstairs for a moment, but I’ll be right back if you have any questions.”  I nodded and she left the room with the other family.

I nervously searched the kitchen for more errant cobwebs.  It appeared tidier than the foyer, but when I spotted the jars of baby “food” on the counter, my senses went on high alert.  If parents are lax about food, they’ll be lax about other things, like safety.  I immediately walked over to the large island in the middle of the kitchen.  Sure enough, the first drawer I pulled opened easily.  It was filled with utensils.  I gritted my teeth at the sight of all those uncorked forks.

I quickly unzipped my diaper bag and rifled through it.  With a sigh of relief, I pulled out a large back of corks and placed it on the counter.  I grabbed the tray of forks and dumped it on the counter.  Grateful for my nimble fingers, I methodically corked each fork and placed it back in the drawer.  That last fork was corked just as the real estate agent returned from upstairs.

Kathy watched me place the last fork in the drawer.  She tilted her head to one side and asked, “Uh, what are you doing?”

I scowled at her and slammed the drawer closed.  “Do these people have children?” I demanded, crossing my arms.  I couldn’t keep the anger out of my voice.

Kathy’s eyes widened in surprise.  “Who?  The owners?”  When I nodded, she looked past me to the jars of baby food.  “Yes,” she replied slowly.  The uncertainty on her face was apparent.

“Do you have any idea what’s going on in this house?”  I frowned at her, and slammed my hands down on the counter.  “Any idea at all?  Or are you too busy making your sale?”

“What are you talking about?” Kathy asked, raising her eyebrows.  She remained where she was standing.

“This is an ugly situation, Kathy,” I opened the drawer, pulled out a corked fork and waved it at her.  “A very ugly situation.  I have friends at the CPS who would be very interested in what’s going on over here.  Very,” I stressed the last word so she would understand the gravity of what just happened.

“Miss, I don’t know who you are,” Kathy began, as she held up her hands in front of her.

“Have you ever heard of the CPS?  It stands for Child Protective Services,” I told her, and put the fork in my diaper bag.  I was proud of my own foresight.  The CPS could use it as evidence in this case.

“Hey, you can’t take that,” Kathy frowned and took a step towards me.

I pulled my phone and aimed it at her.  “Come any closer and I’ll include you in my report as an accessory to their crimes against children,” I said evenly, as I held up my phone.  “What did you say your name was again?  Kathy what?”

 

 

A “Sancti-Mommy” Visits The Mall

Earlier this week, I took my little one to the mall for our daily morning stroll.  As we passed the playground, my gaze fell upon a small girl child.  She was wandering around like an aimless urchin.  Maybe she was an aimless urchin.  I don’t know.  I didn’t have time to dwell on that possibility.  One of her feet was bare and there was a vending machine only ten feet away her.  Before chilled air could wrap flu tentacles around the little tyke’s foot, I rushed towards the playground.

The only adult in the play area was a woman sitting on a bench.  Her eyes were on a book instead of her child.  She looked up as I approached.  “You’re doing it wrong,” I told her kindly when I spotted the missing sock next to her.  I grabbed it and quickly placed it on the small child’s foot.  There was a large diaper bag beside the woman.  I took the initiative to rifle through it and pull out a hat.  I gently placed it on the little girl’s head.  My chest swelled with pride as I walked away.  I could hear the woman’s expletives of gratitude echo across the playground.  After all, a covered child is a happy child.

Buoyed by my random act of kindness, I searched for more opportunities to help strangers with children.  Fortunately, the mall was crawling with unfit parents.  I spotted a pair of them pushing a wailing baby in a neglect buggy.  Happy children do not cry in public places.  Mine never do, so this couple clearly needed my help.  I tightened my arms around my precious guppy, before marching in their direction.

They stopped talking when they saw me.  I knelt down beside the baby and buggy.  “You poor little hugless child,” I murmured in a soothing voice, gently stroking his hair.  “I’m sure someone loves you.” Neither person moved when I unbuckled the little boy and picked him up.  The infant stopped crying and looked at me.  “Perhaps your child would cry less if you carry him,” I suggested, before handing him to his mother.  The couple stared at me.  The woman’s cheeks flushed crimson with embarrassment.  “It’s okay,” I assured her in a confident voice.  It masked how uneasy I felt leaving the hapless mite in their care.  “Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”  The man sputtered something unintelligible as I continued to patrol the mall.

My mind whirled as I scanned my surroundings.  So many people needed my help.  But who would reap the greatest benefit from my intervention?  Suddenly, the stench of cinnamon hit me like a brick wall.  Of course.  The food court.  What weak-willed parent can resist the lure of the nugget?  I pulled my scarf over my nose and headed in that direction.

I wasn’t surprised by what I saw.  Rows of tables littered with trays of garbage.  My stomach sank.  So many parents were shoveling GMO’s into the open mouths of their unsuspecting children.  I walked past a few gluten peddlers before spotting a dire situation.  A helpless adult male sitting beside a shrieking child.  I looked around, but there wasn’t a mother in sight.

My pace quickened.  The man obviously needed help to defuse the tantrum.  The little girl stood next to the table, red-faced, fists clenched, howling at the top of her lungs.  I couldn’t blame her.  She was probably protesting the nuggets.

“Hi Sweetheart,” I said softly, kneeling beside the little girl.  The man looked startled, but then visibly relaxed when I winked at him.  He know that I was there help.  “Why are you sad?”

“No eat,” the little girl stamped her foot and shrieked.  “Me no eat.”

“You’re such a smart little girl,” I cooed, as I tousled her curls.  “You know that your daddy is trying to poison you.”

“What?” The man sputtered, while the little girl stuck one unclean thumb in her mouth.  Her eyes lit up with interest.

“Well, I’m going to help you, sweetheart,” I smiled at her and picked up their trays.  “Let’s put this where it belongs.”  I walked over to the trash can and threw both plates in.  I pulled out my hand sanitizer and squirted some into my palms.  “Garbage belongs in garbage.”

The man gaped at me, while the little girl smiled and clapped her hands.  I grinned back at her.  Sometimes, children know better than their parents do.

Parenting is hard for some people.  It takes a village for these people to raise a child and I am a part of that village.  Because when you know better, you do better.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  This is satire.  It is fiction.  Please do not verbally torpedo me for the actions of a fictional character.  Thank you.

 

 

Day 13 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Once the Starbucks red ombre cup catastrophe died down, I realized that I could actually help others out by creating a list of legitimately offensive things in 2016.  You’re welcome.

Here’s a list of offensive things to start 2016, in no particular order:

OFFENSIVE THING #1 – MCDONALD’S:  I get offended when I buy a hot fudge sundae at McDonald’s and rush home before it turns into a soupy mess, only to discover a gumdrop smattering of fudge in the cup.  It’s heartbreaking to reach the middle of the sundae and find nothing but the uninspiring swirl of vanilla soft serve.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #2 – STARBUCKS:  I get offended when I wait twenty minutes in the Starbucks drive-thru line and order a non-fat, no foam vanilla latte, only to reach home and discover that there is a 3-inch layer of foam and no vanilla syrup in my cup.  That’s a plain cappuccino, NOT what I ordered. What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #3 – VERIZON:  I get offended when the guy at the Verizon store sells me a freaking IPHONE and guarantees that I purchased enough memory for all of the videos that I want to take, only to discover after 3 months of usage that I can’t take any more pictures, film any more videos, or buy any more music, because I don’t have enough memory.  I have to send things to “THE CLOUD.”  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #4 – MACY’S:  I get offended when the lady at the makeup counter of Macy’s sells me “age-defying” foundation under the glow of the store’s fluorescent lights.  So, I take it home and slather it all over my face with enthusiasm, only to discover that there’s nothing age-defying about it.  There is only a thick, tan paste caked into the creases of my face.  And the paste doesn’t even match my skin tone in natural light AT ALL.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #5 – RECIPES:  I get offended when I find a recipe online, buy all of the necessary ingredients, actually follow the instructions with engineering precision, and only end up with 1.5 dozen cookies instead of the promised 5 dozen.  I’m not baking for chipmunks.  I’m baking for human beings, so I didn’t use a thimble to apportion the cookie dough.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #6 – PANYTHOSE:  I get offended when I buy a pair of “control top reinforced” pantyhose, take them home, and stuff my parts into them, only to discover that there’s nothing controlling or reinforcing about them.  Things that moved before, continue to move after inserting them into nylon mesh.  What’s up with that?

(NOTE:  Item #6 really applies to any form-fitting flesh containment system.  I think the Jedi knights from Star Wars were on to something.  We as a society need to move to long, flowing hooded robes.  It would solve a lot of problems.)

OFFENSIVE THING #7 – WASHABLE MARKERS:  I get offended when I am badgered by my 4-year old son into buying markers at the store, grudgingly agree to it when I spot “Washable” markers, and let him color with them at home, only to discover that there is nothing washable about the markers once they have been liberally applied to walls, sofas or any other clear surface in the house.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #8 – MILKY WAY:  I get offended when I purchase a bag of “fun-size” Milky Way chocolate for my secret stash, rush home to hide from my family, and pull one out of the bag to eat while crouching under the bed, only to discover that there is nothing “fun” about them.  They’re barely a bite of chocolate.  I may as well lick the glass on the pastry display case at Starbucks, because I’d get more of a sugar high from it.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #9 – JET’S PIZZA:  I get offended when I order a super special pizza from Jet’s Pizza, they ask me if I want a round or square pizza, and I order the square pizza, only to discover that the pizza doesn’t even remotely resemble a square.  It’s a RECTANGLE.  What’s up with that?

OFFENSIVE THING #10 – HUMORLESS PEOPLE:  I get offended when I read an online article, carefully craft a delightfully snarky comment, and post it for the masses to admire, only to discover a coven of humorless people who get offended by anything.  The internet is no place for humor.  What’s up with that?

Well, that’s it for now.  I’m sure if I put my mind to it, I’ll find other stuff that offends me.  Happy New Year!

Day 12 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Ah, yes.  After riding this Donkey Kong vibe for what seems like FOREVER, we finally have a monkey in the story.  So what on earth should I do with it?  Let’s try this:  (NOTE:  I need a running start, so the portion in italics is from the previous post.)

“Charlie, we have to get out of here.  That’s an Asura,” Aryana stepped out of the cave to grab my arm.  She tugged me in the direction of the tunnel.  “Run, Charlie,” she screamed, pulling on me.

I’m no Asura.  

The stranger stood outside of the cave and pulled back his hood.  Aryana and I just stared at the stranger in shock.

It was a monkey.  A very tall, dark-haired monkey draped in a long, black cloak.  He tilted his head to one side and studied me with surprisingly human eyes.    

Hello, Charlie.  I’ve been expecting you.

“Wh-Who are you?” I stammered.  My heart beat wildly at the sound of the deep baritone voice.  I could feel a rivulet of sweat drip down the back of my neck.  The monkey had to be at least six and a half feet tall.

Don’t you remember who I am?  

The monkey took a few steps towards us.  He bared his teeth.  I had the strange feeling that he was grinning at us, but since I couldn’t tell with certainty, I placed a hand on the hilt of my sword.  “Stay away from us,” I warned him, and stood in front of Aryana.  “I’m a Warrior.  I’ll fight you if I have to.”  It wasn’t a complete lie.  I wasn’t technically a Warrior, but I had watched Shivani and Ryan in enough fights with Asuras to get the gist of things.  I’m a strong guy.  How hard could it be to handle a sword?  Just swing and slice.

A strange sound came out of the monkey’s mouth.  He clutched his stomach and bent over at the waist, convulsing.  I thought he was having a fit, until it hit me.  “Are you laughing?” I demanded, while carefully rearranging my features to look stern.  My scowl did nothing to intimidate the monkey, since he continued to laugh.

“Who are you talking to?” Aryana asked, obviously perplexed.

“The monkey,” I replied automatically.

“You think you’re talking with this creature?  Charlie, it’s a monkey.  He can’t talk,” Aryana glanced at the shaking monkey and back at me.  She shook her head.  “I think we need someone to talk a look at you.  You’re hallucinating.  Let’s leave before you get worse.”

Of course I’m laughing.  You’re no Warrior.  The idea of you fighting me is absurd.  I could knock you down with just a flick of my tail.  

Something moved under the rear of his cloak.  I assumed that it was his tail.  Water streamed out of the the monkey’s eyes.  If he had been human, I would have said that he was laughing so hard that he was crying.

“Come on, Charlie,” Aryana said, as she wiped beads of sweat from her forehead.  The heat from the forest fire was getting stronger.  Tugging on my sleeve, she said hoarsely, “Get in the tunnel.  The fire is too close.  We can’t leave the cave now.”

The girl is right.  You have taken too long.  The fire is all around us.  Climb on my back.  I’ll have to carry both of you to safety.  

The monkey squatted down on his haunches.  He squared his shoulder and leaned over.

“I’m not going anywhere with you until I know who you are,” I replied sternly.

“Oh, for goodness sakes,” Aryana rolled her eyes, reached out and grabbed my shoulders.  She shook me gently.  “Charlie.  I am Aryana.  You aren’t thinking clearly.  Please listen to me.”  She said each sentence very slowly, as if speaking to a small child.  “The forest is on fire.  We have to get out of here.”

If a monkey could roll his eyes, then that’s what this monkey did.

Enough of this foolish banter.  

He raised a paw and stared at us.  His eyes changed color.  Brown to gold.

The dizziness hit me like a wall.  I gasped and tried to grab the side of the cave to support myself.  My limbs felt heavy.  I could feel my knees buckle under my weight.  I tried to crawl towards Aryana, but it took me a few moments to figure out where she was.  Turning my head in her direction took a lot of effort.

Aryana was still standing.  Before I could call out her name, her eyes rolled backwards.  I watched her hit the ground a few moments before I collapsed on the ground next to her.  The last thing I remember was the monkey standing over both of us.  And then there was nothing.

Day 11 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Day 11.  Time to ratchet up the level of absurdity in this story.  In the first chapter, Charlie Weaver “spoke” with telepathic “Yoda” cows.  I think Charlie needs to tap into this ability again.  Here goes:

Aryana and I stood at the cave entrance.  The ground beneath our feet rumbled, but neither of us moved.  We both just stared in wonder.  Even though I grew up on a farm, I had never seen so many animals panicked at the same time.  Bears, monkeys, lions, tigers, water buffalo, deer, and other wild animals rushed by the mouth of the cave.  My body tensed because they were uncaged, but none of them glanced in our direction.  After a few moments, I relaxed.

My eyes started to water.  The big clouds of dust caused by the rush of animals reached the cave.  I coughed and waved a hand in front of me, trying to clear the air.  A herd of water buffalo raced by us.  Their stampeding hooves echoed through the valley.  “Where are they going?” I asked loudly.

“They must be heading for the river,” Aryana replied.  She sniffed the air again and shook her head.  “I don’t want to leave without Paw Paw, but the fire is getting closer.  We have to get someplace safe.”

We finally agreed on something.  I nodded.  “Yeah, but where do we go?”

Follow the animals, Charlie Weaver.   

“What?  Did you just say something?” I turned to Aryana.  Despite the gravity of our situation, I couldn’t help thinking how pretty she looked.  All of those long dark waves and golden brown freckles made me forget my question for a moment.  I could have just stood there staring into her big blue eyes for hours.

“No,” Aryana shook her head, loosening a few dark curls.  I fought the urge to brush back the tiny tendrils around her forehead.  “Nothing other than we need to leave.  Why?”

Follow the animals, Charlie Weaver.  There it was again.  I pulled my gaze away from Aryana and looked outside of the cave.  That voice.  It sounded familiar.

I picked up my backpack and slipped the straps over my shoulders.  I squared them and hoped Aryana noticed how broad they were.  “We need to get out of here,” I said, deepening my voice.  I liked how authoritative I sounded.  It was time to start using this voice.

“I just said that,” Aryana said, picking up her backpack.  “Honestly, do you ever listen to anything I say?”  She rolled her eyes.  It was a perfect imitation of Shivani Roy.  Obviously, Aryana had been spending way too much time with my sarcastic sidekick.

Stop gawking at the girl, Charlie Weaver.

I started and looked around me.  There it was again.  The voice.  And it obviously wasn’t Aryana.  After a moment, I swear I heard the voice mutter something about always getting the slow ones.  It continued.

For the last time, Charlie Weaver, follow the animals.  They will lead you to safety.

“Who are you?”  I asked out loud, craning my neck to search around us.  There was no one else in the cave with us.

“Who?”  Aryana stared at me, confused.  She watched me look around the cave.  “Who are you talking to?”

Take the girl and follow the animals.  Do it now or be engulfed by the flames.  

“Let’s follow the animals,” I repeated, grabbing Aryana’s hand.  She pulled it away from me.  I shrugged and stepped just outside of the cave.  After spending so much time inside the dark cave, my eyes weren’t used to the light.  I squinted in the bright sunlight.

“Are you insane?” she asked, backing away from me.  “Those animals will trample us to death if we leave the cave.”  She pointed behind her. “There’s a tunnel.  Let’s follow it and see where it leads.”

No harm will befall you from the animals.  But Asura flames are almost here.  

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  I turned away from Aryana.  My gaze fell on a dark figure approaching us.  My first instinct told me that this was the creature I had seen on the cliff, but I dismissed the thought.  It was someone wearing a dark hooded cloak.

I don’t know why I didn’t immediately run into the tunnel with Aryana.  I just stood there, staring at the hooded stranger.  Whoever it was seemed to glide towards us.  I watched in amazement as it walked right into the stampede without losing pace.  The animals didn’t trample the stranger.  They continued to run, but left a wide berth around it.

“Charlie, we have to get out of here.  That’s an Asura,” Aryana stepped out of the cave to grab my arm.  She tugged me in the direction of the tunnel.  “Run, Charlie,” she screamed, pulling on me.

I’m no Asura.  The stranger stood outside of the cave and pulled back his hood.  Aryana and I just stared at the stranger in shock.

It was a monkey.

Day 10 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

It has been WAY too long since the last time I wrote something on this blog.  The New Year is approaching and I want to get back into writing fiction.  Well, to be more precise, writing “snarky” fiction.

For some people, this comes without effort.  For me, it takes work, which is strange, because in real life, most people would tell you that I’m a sarcastic person.  But how do I translate that into writing?  How does someone write an ENTIRE NOVEL filled with snark?  I won’t even call it satire, because I think that’s a little too cerebral for me.  I’d like my first book to be borderline “Sharknado” fiction (i.e. so absurd that people think it’s funny).

Well, time to stop procrastinating and start practicing.  Let’s get back to the Donkey Kong vibe, Charlie Weaver and whatever else pops into my head.  Here goes:

“Is that a monkey?”  I stared out of the cave.  It felt like we were being watched.  A movement caught my eye.

“What monkey?”  Aryana asked, as she rummaged through her back pack.  She pulled out two flash lights and handed one to me.

I took it from her.  My gaze settled on the cliff across the valley.  There was a figure lurking in the shadow.  When it moved again, I tapped her on the shoulder and pointed.  “There.  Do you see it?  I swear that it’s a monkey.”

“I don’t think that’s a monkey,” Aryana replied, squinting at the figure.  She pulled out a knife from her back pack and strapped it to her leg.  “It’s too big.”

I frowned.  Paw Paw had been gone for at least thirty minutes.  He said he wanted to scout the area before we moved ahead on the path, but it shouldn’t have taken this long.  I had a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach that the figure had something to do with his absence.

“We can’t leave,” Aryana replied, frowning at me.  “Paw Paw hasn’t returned.  He’ll be back momentarily.”

I winced at her tone.  She thought I was being a coward.  But I wasn’t.  “We can’t stay here if that’s an Asura.  What if that thing is the reason Paw Paw isn’t back yet?  He may need our help.”

“He told us to stay here until he returned,” Aryana said.  Her voice was firm.  “I’m not going anywhere without him.”

The ground beneath our feet started to rumble.  “What is that?” Aryana asked, eyes wide.

“Earthquake,” I yelled and pushed her to the ground.  I threw my body over her, like any good hero would do.

“Get off of me,” she shrieked.  Her small hands pushed against my chest.  The rest of her words were drowned out by the loud noises coming from just outside of the cave.

“No,” I yelled, and brushed a stray strand of dark hair from her face.  A surge of pride shot through me.  I was using my body to shield this poor, defenseless girl against falling rocks.  It was something a hero would do.  I placed one hand on each of her cheeks and looked into her deep blue eyes.  “It’s okay.  I’m saving you.”

The next thing I saw was her scowl.  Suddenly, I felt nothing but pain.  It took me a moment to realize that Aryana kneed me in the groin.  Whimpering, I couldn’t resist her when she pushed me off of her body.  “Why did you do that?” I asked hoarsely, doubling over in pain.  “I was trying to protect you from the earthquake.”

Aryana dusted herself off and stood up.  Her look was scathing.  “There’s no earthquake, you simpleton,” Aryana snarled, and pointed outside the cave.  “That’s a stampede.”

She walked over to the cave entrance.  After a few moments, I limped over and joined her.  Sure enough, hundreds of animals were running across the valley, towards the cliff.  “What on earth,” I muttered, confused.

“I smell smoke,” Aryana whispered.  Her pert little nose wrinkled, as she sniffed the air delicately.  “I think the forest is on fire.”

 

 

 

Day 9 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

Well, this is starting to get interesting.  I’m kind of digging this Donkey Kong vibe.  On Day 8, I ended with the group of heroes getting attacked by something flying through the air. Were they fireballs?  Were they flaming barrels?  And how does a monkey fit into this?  Let’s move to the scene after the Asura attack and see how this goes:

“The Asuras are getting stronger,” Serenity said softly.  “It’s a good thing that Shivani was with us.”  The worry on her face was obvious.

“I agree,” Paw Paw nodded.  “We wouldn’t have defeated them without her.”

“Hey, what about me?” Ryan exclaimed, putting a hand on his hip.  I didn’t know him very well, but I already recognized mock outrage on his face when I saw it.  He lifted up his sword and slashed at the air.  “I was amazing in battle.  I knocked off at least ten Asuras all by myself.”

“Yes, yes, you’re very amazing.  We’ll give you a cookie later,” Shivani muttered.  When Ryan raised an eyebrow at her, Shivani raised her hands defensively.  “Okay, I admit it.  You’re a much better warrior than I expected you to be.”

“Such glowing praise,” Ryan replied, putting his sword on the ground.  He placed his hand over his heart.  “I’m overwhelmed.  Thank you, sunshine.  You’re not a bad warrior yourself.  For a girl.”

Shivani scowled.  Before she could say anything, Director Fussybottom said, “I have to return to the castle.  The Asuras will be back.”  He and Paw Paw exchanged glances.  “And now that they know about Shivani, they’ll use more force.”

Paw Paw exhaled in frustration.  “We need help.  But who?” His dark eyes surveyed the land before us and suddenly gleamed.  “The Vanaras.”

“Who?”  I asked, glancing at Shivani.  She shrugged.  Neither one of us knew who Paw Paw was talking about.

Aryana’s blue eyes widened in surprise.  She shook her head as her dark brows knit together.  “Surely you jest,” she said.  “They won’t help us.”

Director Fussybottom nodded.  “The girl is right.  They keep to themselves.”

“What are Vanaras?” Shivani asked.

“Forest dwellers.  They aren’t a part of civilization,” Professor Pedantic sniffed.  There was contempt in his voice.  “They prefer to live in the woods like animals.”

“The Vanaras are far more than that,” Paw Paw sighed, shaking his head.  He squared his shoulders and looked right at Aryana.  “Do you want to save your princess?”

“Of course,” Aryana said indignantly.

“Then we’ll need their help,” Paw Paw replied simply.  Aryana opened her mouth to protest, but then remained silent when he held up his hand. “The Devas are no match for the Asuras right now.  We’re outmanned and outnumbered.  If we can convince the Vanaras to fight with us, then we may have a chance.”

“If you can trust them,” Director Fussybottom muttered.

“There is no reason to distrust them,” Professor Serenity said mildly.  “I’ve only met a few, but the ones I knew were honorable.”

Paw Paw smiled slightly.  His eyes met hers.  “Perhaps you should be the one to lead a group to ask for their help.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Director Fussybottom frowned.  He looked at Serenity.  “You should come back to the castle with me.”

Serenity ignored him and nodded at Paw Paw.  “I’ll go, but I’ll need help finding them.”  She looked at the rest of the group.    “Who will come with me?”

“You’ll need at least one Warrior, so I’ll go,” Ryan said, smiling at his mother.

Serenity returned his smile, before raising an eyebrow at the rest of us. “Anyone else?  Shivani?  Charlie?  I could use another Warrior.”

“I’ll go,” Shivani nodded slowly, before shooting a wary glance at Ryan.  “But your son has to stop trying to make me mad.”

Serenity’s face broke out into a smile.  Her mischievous grin startled me.  She looked so much like Ryan.  “If he so much as breathes on you inappropriately, he’ll have to deal with me.”

Both women looked at Ryan.  He held up his right hand and placed it over his heart.  “I promise.  I will be on my best behavior.”

“What about the rest of you?” Serenity asked.

Paw Paw shook his head.  “I need the others to help me.  The Elders will need protection on their journey home.  But after we see them safely to the castle, we’ll catch up to you.  Are you headed for Dandaka Forest?”

Serenity nodded.  “Yes.  That’s the last place they were spotted.  We can start there.”

Day 8 of 30: Write 15 Minutes of Absurdity

For those of you who are new to this blog, I’ve been trying to write 15-minutes of absurdity a day.  For a while, I was doing really well.  During that wave of snark momentum, I began a story called “Charlie Weaver and the Prophecy of Doom.”  It’s a satire that mocks the entire young adult fantasy genre.  The two main characters are Charlie Weaver and Shivani Roy.  Charlie Weaver is a likable, incompetent hero who stumbles ass-backwards into good things.  Shivani Roy is intense, sarcastic, and saves Charlie on several occasions.

I know that I’m going to age myself with this one, but for some reason, I’m feeling a Donkey Kong vibe.  I need a quest.  And a princess.  Maybe some fireballs and a barrel or two?  I’m not sure.  Let’s start this and see where it goes:

Ryan tossed the apple in the air, caught it, and grinned at us.  “Well, there’s nothing like a good quest to start the summer.”  He took large bite and started chomping on it loudly.  “So, what’s all of this about?”

Shivani rolled her eyes, before turning her attention to Aryana.  “What do you need us to do?”

“We need your help,” Aryana said, pushing a long strand of dark, wavy brown hair over her shoulder.  “The princess is missing.”

“What princess?” I asked gently, looking down into her large blue eyes.  They were framed by the longest eyelashes I had ever seen in my life.  She looked so sad that I wanted to pick her up and hug her.

“Is she hot?”  Ryan asked at the same time.

Aryana shifted her eyes towards him.  She looked confused.  “Hot?”

“Really?  Hot?”  Shivani shook her head in disgust.  “What does that have to do with anything?”  She placed her hands on her hips and stared at him.

“Now, Vani, don’t get upset,” Ryan replied.  I could almost picture the steam coming out of Shivani’s ears at the name ‘Vani.’  He grinned at her and continued.  “You know that I think you’re hot too.  In an angry sort of way.  But I need the information for this quest.”  He leaned against the side of the cave and looked at Aryana.  “So, you were about to tell us what she looks like?”

“She is a lovely person,” Aryana said, her voice wistful.

“Oh, for the love of,” Shivani muttered.  “You don’t have to answer his questions, Aryana.”

Ryan ignored Shivani.  His brow furrowed.  “Does that mean she has a good personality?”

“Oh, yes,” Aryana replied, nodding her head.  One dark curl escaped from her hair band.  “The princess has been wonderful to my family and me.”

“Well, that’s great that she’s a nice person,” Ryan said, before taking another bite of his apple.  “But how does she look?”

“She has an alabaster brow,” Aryan began.

I interrupted.  “What’s an alabaster brow?”

Aryana frowned at me.  “I’m not sure, but she has one”

“Enough,” Shivani shot Ryan and me a look of disgust.  “Will both of you please be quiet and let her finish? ” she snapped and turned towards Aryana.  Her face softened.  “Aryana, please continue.”

“Princess Poppycock is the most beautiful Bharatian in the land,” Aryana replied in surprise.  “I thought everyone knew that.”

“Princess Poopcup?” I repeated, confused.  I had never heard of her before.  Was she the leader of the dwarves?  Or Aryana’s people?

Shivani choked, covered her mouth with her hand, and turned away from Aryana.  Ryan saw her and grinned, but he quickly changed his expression to look serious.  He nodded at Aryana to continue.

“Princess Poppycock,” Aryana repeated.  She didn’t notice Shivani’s shoulders shaking.  “Her hair is the color of a raven’s wing, her lips are as red as cherries.  Her skin is as soft as a lotus petal and her eyes sparkle like jewels.  She is so beautiful that birds sing on her approach and small, woodland creatures offer her flowers when she crosses their paths,” Aryana turned her serious gaze on us.  “Men have died for her.”

“She’s that good-looking, eh?” Ryan’s eyebrows raised.  He tossed the apple core away and slapped his hand on his thigh.  “Well, then by all means, count me in.  I’ll find your hot, I mean, your princess.”  He picked up his bag, threw it over his shoulder and took a few steps before stopping.  “Oh, by the way, does this princess have money?”

Shivani’s dark brows knit together.  Before she could retort, the fireball landed just a few feet away from Ryan.  “Asuras,” he shouted at us, and pulled out a sword.  “Run for cover!”

Shivani dove into Aryana just as another fireball landed a few feet away from the cave entrance.  She scrambled to her feet as I ran over to them.  “Charlie, get her into the cave,” Shivani shouted at me, and pulled Aryana to her feet.  She pushed the two of us towards the cave, before pulling something out of her pocket.  It was the necklace from Big Bucks.  She slipped it over her head and looked at us.  Her eyes changed color.  They were topaz.  The color of the Asuras.