Happy Friday Firefans!
In the spirit of a late summer weekend…
Today I decided to share something that I wrote simply because…are you ready? It makes me happy. Yes. Writers can be happy too.
I don’t think this story is epic. I don’t think have any delusions that the writing here is stellar. The plot is light and probably predictable. And I haven’t spent hours obsessing over it or become an existential train wreck because of it or its origins.
I started it as part of a prompt for a short story contest. I ended up missing the deadline, but was so in love with the premise that I decided I’d keep it on file and go back to it someday. I love the characters and the possible scenarios of what might happen between them. I love the setting and the story and the animals and the slightly askew yet amiable small-town ideals.
This story is something that I often forget writing is supposed to be: FUN. Yes! Did you know, our group has lots and lots and lots of fun? We do! Even though of late, we haven’t shown that side of ourselves here.
And yes, you called it. You know me well. There is, of course, music that goes with this scene. See? More fun! Unfortunately this artist is so up-and-coming you can’t find the song on YouTube. So you’ll need Spotify to play it. (Emerging writers supporting emerging artists. That’s how we roll here at WTF.)
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. As always, I welcome your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
(here’s the song)
* * *
Cats and Dogs ~ Chapter One, Opening Scene
Lizzie sat on the window ledge, pulled back the lace curtain and peered outside. Squinting, she surveyed the contents of the black convertible in the driveway next door: A camera, a map, and several brown boxes filled with books. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that satisfied any suspicions of either normalcy or scandal.
Gracie, with her little orange tail pointed straight up, jumped onto the window ledge and boldly nosed her way through the curtain. Lizzie took the kitten into her lap and pulled back the lace. She didn’t want to be accused of spying. And anyway she wasn’t spying, really. That would be perfectly ridiculous.
Mary, the librarian was the first in town to spread the news: Nathan McDaniel, the famous and recently divorced romance novelist was moving to the seaside town of Trinity Cove. Lizzie couldn’t have cared less about it, until she heard Mary casually mention that he was buying the house next door.
She’d had to sell literally hundreds of her murals to save for the down payment on her 1906 Victorian cottage, and in the three years she’d lived there, she’d been working her fingers to the bone to restore and maintain its charm. She was near certain a celebrity author was not going to appreciate the historic character of the neighborhood. Nor was she sure that she wanted an egotistical, overpaid, overindulged, celebrity romance writer living next door.
She had read a few of Nate McDaniel’s books, or she’d tried anyway, and she couldn’t help finding his writing bland and overly cliché. She’d rolled her eyes at the way his books followed such a formulaic plot, young Caucasians in love and separated or unrequited in mind-numbingly stereotypical ways. She was sure he hadn’t a clue the way people really felt, or talked, or acted when they were smitten over someone. And maybe she was no expert, but she was pretty sure that real people didn’t act like the cardboard cutouts he seemed to use as inspiration for his characters.
She straightened her spine and watched cautiously as a slender man with tousled, walnut-colored hair appeared behind the truck with a handcart, wearing a dress shirt rolled to the elbows and loose-fitting jeans. He pulled a few medium-sized boxes down and stacked them on the cart, then put his hands behind his head, stretched and gazed with a warm smile around neighborhood. Lizzie ducked behind the curtain.
“That’s Nathan McDaniel?” She said out loud without meaning to. Gracie mewed in response, butting her head against Lizzie’s arm. She stroked the kitten’s soft fur absentmindedly and peeked out again. The man was effortlessly lifting giant boxes down and stacking them in neat rows. Strange. She had pictured him older, heavier, messier, more… bookish: Sweater cardigan, squishy abdomen, double chin, withered cigar hanging over a five-o-clock shadow. Not that she’d spent any time thinking about it, but wasn’t that what middle-aged romance novelists usually looked like? She pulled back the lace again and leaned forward slightly to get a better view.
After a long bout of silent staring, a horrible thud, followed by a clawing, scratching noise brought Lizzie back into focus and painfully aware that she’d been resting her forehead against the glass. Damn. She was caught. The man in the driveway jerked his head in the direction of Lizzie’s front window.
Gracie dug her claws into Lizzie’s thighs and before she had a chance to cry out in pain, a giant, jet-black, slobbery face appeared at the window. The horrible creature barked so loud, Lizzie felt the window vibrate. Gracie clawed her way across Lizzie’s right arm and dashed under the sofa.
“What on earth was that awful thing?” Lizzie whimpered, rubbing the tiny scratches on her thigh.The doorbell chimed.
She froze, thinking briefly of her ripped shorts, paint-splattered shirt, and the dirty-blonde strands of hair falling out of the messy bun on top of her head. She closed her eyes and hoped that the quiet meant whomever was at the door had gone. But a friendly knock- with a little more-than-the-usual enthusiasm broke into the silence.