Carving Out 99 Words at a Time

working-template-for-ff-challenges-1.pngCarrot Ranch prompts… at first I have nothing. (Really? Chisel?) If I’m lucky Kid and Pal get something going and that’s fine, a Ranch Yarn will do. But I’m noticing things often come in threes, including responses to the prompt. Here’s another treble, or triple, or trio, whichever you prefer, in response to the Carrot Ranch March 14, 2019, prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a chisel. Use chisel as a noun or a verb. Think about what might be chiseled, who is chiseling. Be the chisel. Go where the prompt leads!”

My first take was to utilize and incorporate the last nine Carrot Ranch prompts; the second is a follow up on Marlie’s homeschooling; and finally, Marge is feeling a little nervous since the last Six Sentence Story. It would appear there’s a couple of serials happening. I guess. Neither was planned and are not planned. They just appear in response to the prompts. Let me ask you this: Do you mind that three stories get posted together? Is it times three or times 1/3 ?   

The Renovation

Looking back, she saw clearly what had appeared such an enriching adventure, to leave everything behind and move into an old beach house with her new love.

‘It was worth you selling your house and property,’ he’d said. ‘We’ll fix up this bungalow together, our love nest.’

Everyday he called her his Valentine. Everywhere were signs they only interpreted as good. Wobbly weather hewn porch supports were colonnades. The damp, clammy sea mist was romantic.

Going for lumber, he took her bankcard. ‘Just for back up.’

Another night, sleepless and alone, the only sound mice chiseling in the walls.

###

Learning Curve

“What did you say Marlie?”

“Basswood. Google said it was a good carving wood, and then I learned we had it in our front yard, except we’d been calling it Linden, and I cut a piece of it to carve. Daddy taught me how to carve, Mommy. Mommy! You’re not even looking at my carving.”

She wasn’t, either; she was looking quizzically from Marlie’s bandaged hand to Marlie’s quiet father.

“Daddy taught me how to be real careful with the knife and chisel, but that was after I’d used the limbing saw. That’s when Daddy taught me about first-aid!”

###

Necessity

“Jeez, Marge, you’re turning the trailer upside down these days.”

“It’s needing a good spring cleaning, Ernest.”

“Now with a hammer and chisel?”

“Ending the ice age in your freezer.”

“That’s a brilliant solution, Marge.”

With a sculptor’s eye Marge placed the chisel and hammered out great chunks of hoary frozen food while Ernest looked on.

“We should name our kid Invention. Get it?”

 

Marge told Ilene about it on their walk.

“Ha! Good one. You, the mother of Invention.”

“Ilene! I don’t want to be a mother! Damn it. Things were so good.”

“Go talk with Ernest, Marge.”

###

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Marcia Meara, How D’ya Do?

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This week I am pleased to bring you Marcia Meara of  The Write Stuff. I came across Marcia’s site when I was only a very few months into writing in the blogosphere and Marcia generously offered to post poems from my books in her #ExcerptWeek. Marcia is a poster girl for kindness and generosity, and the caption reads “sharing is caring”.

How d’ya do, Marcia? Welcome! Marcia, what part of the world do you live in and what should the rest of the world know about your place?

I live in central Florida, just north of Orlando, and I’m actually a Florida native. Yep. (There’s me and some guy up in the panhandle, I think.) Let’s see. I suppose most folks know Florida is hot. And humid. We’ve already had temps in the high 80s and one day in the low 90s, and it’s still early March. This is a thing about Florida I really hate. Once it’s above 72 degrees outside, I tend to stay inside in the air conditioning.

Central Florida has some of the most interesting birds and wildlife in the United States. This is a thing about Florida I love! I’ve been a birder, canoeist, and nature lover all my life. If I can’t live in the mountains of North Carolina (my favorite place in the world), at least I can spend some time on the river watching fantastic birds and interesting wildlife. Even my backyard birdfeeder is endlessly entertaining.

Maybe your banner says it all, “Writers helping writers, with Marcia Meara and Friends”, but could you tell us about yourself and describe some of the goings-ons at your blog?

I’m a 75-year-old writer (though I didn’t write my first book until I was 69), married to Mark for 33 years. The kids are grown and gone with kids of their own, but we share our house with 4 big cats and 2 ancient dachshunds.

I’ve had three blogs over fifteen years or so, but the only one I’m actively using today is The Write Stuff, which I began shortly after I wrote my first book. It really is focused on writers, and unless I’m sharing news about a local wildlife event I’m doing, I usually don’t post about nature on the blog. That shows up more often on my Facebook pages. I do, however, change the header weekly, and often feature wildlife in my images there.

When/ how did you decide to take your blog in this direction? What do you enjoy most about opening up your blog to others?

When I wrote my first book, Wake-Robin Ridge, I decided I needed a writerly blog. It was going to be focused on whatever I was working on at the time. I knew by Day 2 that really wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to have a kind of writer’s open house, where we could learn from and support each other. If The Write Stuff had a theme song, it would be the one from the TV show, “Cheers,” since it’s a place where everybody knows your name, and new arrivals are always welcomed.

While I’m on the subject of the blog, I’m very happy to announce that many of my regular features from before Real Life got in the way are coming back as I continue to catch up with all my other projects. Features such as #ExcerptWeek, #ShareAReviewDay, #WhyWriteWrong, #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger, and #InspirationBoardSunday will be coming onboard again over the weeks ahead. Many of these will focus on the wonderful writers and bloggers I’ve met over the last six years. Hope you’ll all consider taking part in some, as you see what they entail.

What has been your most powerful or memorable post?

I think I’d have to ask the good folks who’ve followed the blog for a while. I really don’t know the answer to that. I hope a lot of them are memorable, though.

And I hope that your followers chime in on that one! What is something you have learned from your collaborations?

From my own blog and those of others, I’ve learned that writers are the most generous and supportive people in the world, and that we are all learning and growing with each book.

Describe your writing style. 

I write at home in my library, every chance I get. I’m surrounded by books, and Inspiration Boards full of pictures of my locations and characters. (Or at least people that look the way I imagine my characters to look.)

For five years, I started work every day about 7:30, cup of Earl Grey tea in hand, dogs and cats fed and lounging about the room. Sometimes I’m in my nightgown, but more often, I’m in a pair of comfortable shorts and t-shirt. That routine got upended a bit over the last year, but I’m working on getting back into the groove.

I do everything on the computer. Every. Thing. Notes, files, digital bulletin boards and story boards, research, drafts, editing—the whole shebang. It would take me way too long to write anything by hand, plus time has rendered my handwriting nearly illegible. Typing is a better plan.

I work in Word, using the same template for each book, so I don’t have to mess around with margins and headings with every new one. I’ve tried Scrivener and various other programs, but I get too distracted by all the bells and whistles, and the next thing I know, the morning’s gone. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Time’s a-wastin’! At my age, I’m very aware of that. Heck, at my age, I don’t buy green bananas! 😊

I want to get the stories in my head told as quickly and as well as possible, and fooling around with other stuff doesn’t help me do that.

Which of your characters is a favorite?

It’s a tie. When I meet with readers, which I do 2 or 3 times a month at various public venues or private book clubs, I always ask them which of my characters is their favorite. Rabbit wins hands down. (He’s the main character in A Boy Named Rabbit, who managed to usurp my entire romantic suspense series by the 2nd book.)

I love him, too, because I’m always astounded by everything he tells me. But tied with Rabbit, I have to say I most love Hunter Painter, from my 2nd Riverbend book, Finding Hunter. He’s just the quirky, off-the-wall kind of sensitive—even angsty—guy I would have fallen for way back in my misspent youth. And he’s funny, always a big plus with me. 😊

Have you ever gotten into trouble with one of your characters, suffered a disagreement?

Never! I wouldn’t dare disagree with any of my characters. They are who they are, and they tell me everything that’s going on in their world, especially Rabbit. Plus, they expect me to write it all down exactly the way they dictate. And really, who am I to argue? The stories belong to them, after all. I’m just the go-between. 😉

I hope that folks have enjoyed this interview as much as I have, Marcia. Below they will find your bio and links. I have only read the Wake Robin Ridge series (so far) and recommend it for its enduring and appealing characters, engaging stories, and of course the beautiful setting.

Marcia has published six novels, two novellas, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon:

Wake-Robin Ridge Series

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Wake-Robin Ridge Book 1https://www.amazon.com/Wake-Robin-Ridge-Marcia-Meara-ebook/dp/B00ET2QR1Q

On a January night in 1965, death came calling at an isolated little cabin on Wake-Robin Ridge. Nearly 50 years later, ex-librarian Sarah Gray has moved into the same cabin, planning to write her first novel. Plunged into an unexpected night of terror, she and her reclusive neighbor, MacKenzie Cole, discover what a heart is willing to sacrifice for love.

ABNR cover at 50%.jpgA Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Named-Rabbit-Wake-Robin-Ridge-ebook/dp/B00SQ4PID6

When his dying grandmother, gifted with The Sight, sets him on a quest to find the Good People, Little Rabbit must make his way out of the wilderness, alone. Rabbit crosses paths with Sarah and MacKenzie Cole, and none of their lives are ever the same again. The extraordinary little boy has the power to change the world for everyone he meets.
Harb 60% cover sized for memes.jpgHarbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3https://www.amazon.com/Harbinger-Wake-Robin-Ridge-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01GGXAJOG

The wine-red trillium that carpets the forests of the North Carolina Mountains is considered a welcome harbinger of spring—but not all such omens are happy ones. An Appalachian legend claims the Black Dog, or Ol’ Shuck, as he’s often called, is a harbinger of death. If you see him, you or someone you know is going to die.
But what happens when Ol’ Shuck starts coming for you in your dreams? Nightmares of epic proportions haunt the deacon of the Light of Grace Baptist Church, and bring terror into the lives of everyone around him.

Riverbend Series

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Swamp Ghosts: Riverbend Book 1https://www.amazon.com/Swamp-Ghosts-Riverbend-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00K0QXLCS

Wildlife photographer Gunnar Wolfe looked like the kind of guy every man wanted to be and every woman just plain wanted. He and Eco-tour boat owner Maggie Devlin discover that the most dangerous animal in the swamp walks on two legs. A serial killer is on the prowl in the sleepy little town of Riverbend, Florida.

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Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Hunter-Riverbend-Book-2-ebook/dp/B014Q8F1UU

Hunter Painter’s darkest fears have shaped his offbeat personality all his life. Only Willow Greene sees beyond his façade. When his worst nightmares become reality, they culminate in a tragedy threatening to destroy not only their love, but Hunter, himself. The story of a lost man’s desperate struggle to make his way home again to the one woman who can save him.

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That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3 – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072LCVP6M

“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”
~Hunter Painter~

 Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever? Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.

The Emissary Series

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The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075Y2T3CL

An angel’s work is never done—that’s part of the gig. But angels hadn’t been created to deal with such a vastly over-populated planet, rife with misery, suffering, and general chaos. Helping souls in peril has become a nearly impossible job, and even angelic tempers are frayed.

The archangel Azrael has had enough. He believes he’s found a way to ease their burden while saving jeopardized humans, too—hired help.

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The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody – https://www.amazon.com/Emissary-2-Love-Somebody-ebook/dp/B07JDP2B3D

They’re back! Jake and Dodger, the first (and so far, only) Emissaries to the Angels, are on the road again.

They’re looking for mortals about to take a wrong turn. People on the brink of making a mistake that could send them down that wrong road and jeopardize their mortal souls.

Jake and Dodger are fully committed to making a positive difference, even as they struggle with issues of their own. Will Dodger get over losing his chance to learn what true love is all about? Will Jake survive the grueling angelic equivalent of Boot Camp? Will Azrael ever finish the Official Emissarial Guidebook—including the chapter titled Do Not Even Think About It?

Join Azrael’s Emissaries on their journey to find the answers.

Poetry

 Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love –   https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Magic-Poems-Life-Love-ebook/dp/B00FNBLIPC

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

You can reach Marcia via email at marciameara16@gmail.com or on the following social media sites:

The Write Stuff: http://marciamearawrites.com/

Twitter: @marciameara

Facebook: www.facebook.com/marcia.meara.writer

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marciameara/

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Her belief in the redemptive power of love is a unifying factor in both of her popular series and her poetry. Today, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!

March Mathness

th.jpegToday is March 14th, or as we abbreviate the date here in the states, 3/14. Pi Day! I thought I might simply reblog last year’s post (check it out, it’s a good one) but then I decided to try what Kat Mryman has been up to for the month of March. She has been writing and posting  a daily Pi-Archimedes poem, a non-rhyming six lined poem, the number of words in each line matching the first six digits of Pi, 3.14159…

th-1.jpegIf you check out my post from last year you’ll see that I have played with Pi before, but this is my first Pi- Archimedes poem. I was delighted to see the form at Kat’s site and have been enjoying her poems in this unique form. Yes, there will be a Pi-etry station  in my math classes. Anyway, here is my attempt:

 

Winter leads, Spring

follows

in its own time

measured

in temperature and daylight

repeating themes, rise and fall; songs on the wing.

 

International Women’s Day

Dang! March 8th has come and gone, International Women’s Day, and what did I do about it? Not much. I went to work as usual, traveled for work with women friends over the weekend, a fun event out of the ordinary. Maybe that distraction is why I didn’t think to post anything. I certainly thought about that day. I always will. I will always remember that three years ago on that day a strong woman- a friend, neighbor, and colleague- celebrated her last radiation treatment. I know because I celebrated with her on the radiation ward. My own celebration was three weeks later, a year after losing a friend to breast cancer.

On the ward and on my way to and from the ward, I heard the stories of women. That March 8th, after my treatment, I wrote this poem on a scrap of paper while waiting at the airport for the fog to clear so I could return home. This poem is now hiding in plain sight in my book of poetry, For the Girls. So, four days late and a dollar short, here is my International Women’s Day share. We are a Universal power, y’all.

 

March 8; International Women’s Day

Some women

Some women had their last treatment today

Some their first

Some were untreated.

 

Some had heart attacks, some died

Some lived.

Some women felt dead inside

Others felt vibrant and alive.

 

Baby girls were born today

borne of women become mothers

While others became aunts, mentors, friends.

Today, and yesterday, and tomorrow.

Some will feel joy, some will feel sorrow.

 

Some women were betrayed today

Some endured violence and pain

Fell down, got pushed around

Got up, tried again.

 

Women endured today.

Some were supported, some were supportive

Some felt hate, some were hated.

Some gave love, some were loved.

 

Around the world, women endure

Some fall ill, some rise cured

Some are able to feel the hope and the good

Of a worldwide sisterhood.

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Welding #Six Sentence Story

I swear, I did not see this one coming. I mean I knew that the Six Sentence Story prompt word from GirlieOntheEdge this week is “flash”. In fact I wrote a six sentence story for that prompt a couple days ago. This is not it. 

Welding            by D. Avery

Ernest leaned against the open door of the garage watching Marge work the welding rods, sparks leaping around her, until finally she flipped up the shield of her welders mask to look critically at her work.

“Marge, I didn’t know you were an artist.”

“I’m not, Ernest, but it’s Wednesday, what else is there to do? In addition to her course work, Ilene’s joined a writing group to do more of that flash fiction stuff, Lloyd’s disappeared into one of his poetry writing streaks, and Kris has Nard off doing ‘pints and paints’, and all this on what used to be our poker night, so the hell with them, I’m a goddamn sculptor.”

Marge abruptly slammed her face shield down and went back to welding so Ernest took up art too, hammering and grinding a bit of discarded brake line until it was smooth and shaped to his satisfaction. He then pulled Marge’s gauntleted leather glove off before slipping the ring onto her finger, hopefully, expectantly, looking into her eyes that now glistened underneath the awning of her upturned shield, taking a blow to the forehead as she tried to kiss him with her welders mask still on.

***

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The link up for Six Sentence Stories is Thursday, which often means Wednesday. Join in to read and write. It’s just six sentences.

For Ernest and Marge click CLICK.

Here’s the six I was going to post; it’s from a whole other story:

Risings                                                        by D. Avery

Dan watched the western sun flow like lava over buildings and treetops, its lingering orange-red embers backlighting the view from his third story fire escape. With the darkening sky came cooler air, but Dan remained for the encore without going in for a jacket. He watched as the moon rose, the golden crescent a benediction. How many of these settings and risings had he missed, he wondered, taken for granted? Inspiration flashed like the stars overhead. Tomorrow he would watch the sun rise; then he would quit his job and take up living.

Seashore Weekend Writing Prompt#96

wk-96-seashore.jpg The thing about Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing prompt is that you never know what the word count will be. (Be sure to come by for my How D’Ya Do? blogger interview series May 3rd to find out more about Sammi) This week the challenge is to use the word “seashore” in exactly 59 words. I did and because the word count was so low I also modified this entry so that it would fit the twitter based challenge. If youhave a story in 269 characters or less and use the  hashtag it may be chosen for publication in their annual anthology. I encourage you to try this fun twitter flash challenge in addition to your usual favorites. I have found that toggling back and forth between one challenge and another makes for better revisions of both. In working my original 59 word response down to the requirements of the twitter flash, I feel that I improved both pieces by attending more to word choice and focus. Here then are my 59 words. 

 

Go beyond the shops, now closed for the season. Go alone, when it is gray with fog. Go when the waves rake the coarse sand at water’s edge, before curling and hurling it back, the stinging wind kiting salt spray gusting aloft. Go when the gull is silent, hunched and waiting. Wait with that lone bird at the seashore.

Think Twice About Mice

working-template-for-ff-challenges1.pngSome people are afraid of mice. Or mice give them the heebie-jeebies. Or something. I
suspect many find them appealing, cute and charming. Mice have certainly been appealing characters in many children’s books. Remember Ben and Me, by Robert Lawson? There is Elizabeth Spires’ mouse’s eye view of Emily Dickinson, The Mouse of Amherst. Beverly Cleary’s classic The Mouse and the Motorcycle is still read. There’s also Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux; Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, by Robert C. O’Brien; Tucker Mouse in George Selden’s Cricket in Times Square… mice obviously have literary appeal. One of my all time favorite books is Abel’s Island. Its author, William Steig often used mice as characters in his books and drawings. I know there are many more. Where can we find your favorite mouse characters?

I only think of this because of Charli’s prompt this week, March 7, 2019: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a mouse. It can be real, imagined, electronic or whiskered. Go where the prompt leads! Go to Carrot Ranch to write or read. Come back here on Friday April 5th for the How D’Ya Do Buckaroo interview. 

Peace Offering

It had to be done. I won’t have them on my countertops.

In the hardware section she reached for the wooden Victors. Can’t improve on those. Very effective, though she didn’t like setting them, flinched if they snapped, worried about her fingers. At least it’s just my fingers…

She moved on to the toy section. There, little doll dishes, perfect. She took her purchase home to do what had to be done.

She cleaned her counters. The doll dishes, filled with tasty morsels, she set on the floor. We can share the food. But please stay off the counters.

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Six Sentences, 269 Characters

It’s Six Sentence Story time once again. The prompt word this week is “novel”. Go to GirlieOntheEdge to read six sentence stories or to share one of yours. You’ll note that this week’s entry is quite short compared to my usual stretched and strained sentences. I don’t have a story in mind, yet- I may be back with something, I never know. But, such as it is, I am also going to submit this 208 character flash to at Twitter. If you have a story in 269 characters or less and use the  hashtag it may be chosen for publication in their annual anthology. Go for it, y’all. (yep, I’m in the 2018 Anthology- twice) 

And, here’s big breaking good news: our Six Sentence hostess with the mostest, Denise, is going to be interviewed here on April 19th. That’s a fine How D’Ya Do

Anyway, here’s six sentences in 208 characters:

Discovery

“What’s new?”

“Thinking of writing a novel set in a small town with a storied past.”

“A novel idea! Do tell.”

“Actually I have no original ideas; just the same old stories, retold. Recovered stories.”

 

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Mad About Metaphor- Cotton Candy Words

I thought it’d be fun to try the Saturday Mix- Mad About Metaphor challenge from Sara at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The prompt is “cotton candy words” in poem or prose. I went short and over the sweet. 

***

It was all a carnival of lies. Cotton candy words, spun sugar in unnatural hues, had become a melting, sticky mess. The sweet had become nauseating. What had she been thinking? When would she learn? She wanted off this roller coaster. She’d been too long at the fair.

Back Up Up Up

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Meanwhile, back up in the upper U.P. …             We joke about being without our devices but imagine if your phone and your computer crashed and burned at the same time. Now imagine that they do this in the midst of a mammoth blizzard. Immobilized and isolated, Charli Mills has somehow kept the Ranch going and is digging out. Find out more at Carrot Ranch. This week after a post about the vital practice of backing up your files on your computer, Charli is back with the February 28, 2019, prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have a backup, just go where the prompt leads!” I have three; if you don’t like one there’s backup, keep reading, maybe there’s something for you. If you’ve enjoyed Marlie, the girl with the Destiny Doll, she’s back. I recycled a story from last week’s “intermittent challenge” about being buried in the snow. And something new just for fun. Go to Carrot Ranch for more fine fun flash.

***

Traditional Does Not Equate With Destiny

“Honey! I could use some backup.”

Marlie’s dad came out of his office. “Yes?”

“Our first grader has figured out that she no longer needs to attend school.”

“I can read and my teacher says if you can read you can learn anything. But we don’t have time at school.”

“What about math?”

“We keep doing the same things over and over. I’ll do math here by baking and using your tools to fix things.”

“You did tell her that was real math.”

“Let’s let her try it. I work from home, she can work from home.”

“Some backup.”

***

 Fire in the Hole

Dusted by the unremitting snowflakes, the explorers carefully made their way across the glacier.

“They say each snowflake is unique. No two alike.”

“Are they still saying that? That makes this landscape even more diabolical, a conspiracy of snowflakes of astronomical proportions.”

They stopped to take a GPS reading. “Here we are. Standing over downtown. Welcome to Houghton, Michigan.”

“Back up! A crevice.”

They took another reading by the crevasse and checked their notes.

“Down in there, that’s where the CFC used to be. Is.”

“Listen! Hear that?”

“Yes. This means…”

“The Continental Firehouse Company is open! Let’s go!”

***

Best Laid Plans

“Mom, Dad. Sit down, I have something to tell you.”

They sat, exchanging wry smiles. They weren’t naïve.

“I have struggled with this but really have no choice.” Their child fell silent, swallowed nervously. They held hands under the table. “You need to know that I am…”

“You can tell us, Dear. It’ll be okay.”

“I- I’m a writer.”

Now it was they that blew out their breath. This they hadn’t expected. Perhaps they were naïve.

“But what about money?”

“I’ll write a book.”

Damn. A partner might have meant income, security.

“Tell us you have a backup plan.”

***