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Karen's blog is about life, love, and the pursuit of writing well
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2626. Wordless Wednesday - #46

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Want to play?

Age Limit: 85

_____________________________

Baby Blues 2311 Win a 2008 Baby Blues desk calendar - read this post for details.

5 Comments on Wordless Wednesday - #46, last added: 10/31/2007
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2627. Baby Blues Calendar Giveaway

And here we go … yet another off-the-wall giveaway.

Or should I say, on-the-desk? :D

I went to the mall yesterday (I can’t really tell you WHY I was there because a certain someone *ahem* reads this blog and I’ve been sworn to secrecy) and while there, I ran across a calendar kiosk. And while looking around, I saw that the 2008 calendar was out for my favorite comic strip of all time:

Baby Blues 2008

So of course, I had to pick one up. I’ve had a Baby Blues calendar on my desk for the past three years. And every evening, as I’m winding things down for the day and am turning off my computer, I pick up my calendar, tear off the top page and read the comic for the next day.

And it never fails to make me smile.

If you’re unfamiliar with Baby Blues, it’s a comic strip by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott. They’ve been drawing Baby Blues since 1997 and I remember when they first became syndicated - I was so happy to see a couple of funny, good-old fashioned family men make it to the big time.

But anyway, back to the purpose behind this post. As I was cuddling examining my 2008 Baby Blues box (because I have a thing about not opening my calendars until January 1st) I had a thought.

Well, I had more than one thought, but that’s beside the point.

The thought that concerned you guys was:

“Wouldn’t it be fun to give a 2008 Baby Blue desk calendar away for no apparent reason?”

And then I answered myself,

“Why yes. It WOULD be fun.”

So, fun desk calendar + desire to give things away = fun opportunity for you!

If you would like a chance to win the 2008 Baby Blues desk calendar, come back Monday, November 5th (mark it - mark it now or you’ll forget!) and tell me what makes you laugh. Leave one comment, leave twenty comments - it doesn’t matter how often you enter, just tell me something different that makes you laugh each and every time. The more times you enter, the better chance you have of winning.

Then, on November 9th (my birthday! Why yes! I’m giving YOU the gift), I’ll pick one lucky commentor and he/she will win a 2008 Baby Blues desk calendar!

Pst … did you mark your calendars? November 5th. That’s Monday. This coming Monday. I’ll be checking to see if you marked it later.

4 Comments on Baby Blues Calendar Giveaway, last added: 10/31/2007
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2628. Joke: Halloween Party

A couple was invited to a swanky masked Halloween party. She got a terrible headache and told her husband to go to the party alone. He, being a devoted husband, protested, but she argued and said she was going to take some aspirin and go to bed, and there was no need for his good time to be spoiled by not going. So he took his costume and away he went.

The wife, after sleeping soundly for about an hour, awakened without pain, and, as it was still early, decided to go to the party. In as much as her husband did not know what her costume was, she thought she would have some fun by watching her husband to see how he acted when she was not with him.

She joined the party and soon spotted her husband cavorting around on the dance floor, dancing with every nice chick he could and copping a little feel here and a little kiss there. His wife went up to him and being a rather seductive babe herself, he left his partner high and dry and devoted his time to the new stuff that had just arrived.

She let him go as far as he wished, naturally, since he was her husband. Finally he whispered a little proposition in her ear and she agreed, so off they went to one of the cars and had a good time. Just before unmasking at midnight, she slipped away and went home and put the costume away and got into bed, wondering what kind of explanation he would make for his behavior.

She was sitting up reading when he came in and asked what kind of a time he had. He said, “Oh, the same old thing. You know I never have a good time when you’re not there.” Then she asked, “Did you dance much?”

He replied, “I’ll tell you, I never even danced one dance. When I got there, I met Pete, Bill Brown and some other guys, so we went into the den and played poker all evening. But you’re not going to believe what happened to the guy I loaned my costume to!” null

1 Comments on Joke: Halloween Party, last added: 10/30/2007
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2629. A Message From Above

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2630. Weekend Snapshot - Tropical Paradise

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Share your weekend snapshot.

Tropical Bathroom

It’s official. We now have a tropical bathroom. We found this picture, and two others, at Hobby Lobby over the weekend. We really like how the colors pop against the mushroom-colored (oh yes, you read that correctly, mushroom) paint.

The hubs put the white trim up as well and I must admit, I’m liking it a lot better. I have finally decided what to put on the wall by the mirror - a basket full of tropical foilage with one large orange flower and one large red flower to offset the pictures we just hung.

My in-laws came over for pizza Saturday night and I could tell by my MIL’s reaction, she truly liked what we had done. This made me feel a tad better about where we were going with this bathroom and I have to admit, it IS different.

I think I can live with this mushroom-colored bathroom - at least, until we host the next Thanksgiving dinner. :)

So folks I’m curious - what did you do this past weekend? Do you have a picture? Let’s see it!

5 Comments on Weekend Snapshot - Tropical Paradise, last added: 10/29/2007
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2631. Funny Monday: Dancing Baby

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Feel like being funny?

Is anyone else thinking a young George Constanza here? :D

His chubby arms kill me!


1 Comments on Funny Monday: Dancing Baby, last added: 10/30/2007
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2632. NaNoWriMo Excerpt - 2006

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From my NaNoWriMo 2006 project entitled: Reality Check

Need to catch up? Read the first, second, third and fourth installments.

______________________________

Clarke studied her for long moments before responding slowly. “Y … yes, someone was hurt. Pretty badly.”

“Who? Oh my God! Was it Mr. Garrison? What about Diane? Her kids didn’t get hurt, did they? I would never forgive myself if I caused a child to die. Am I under arrest? Oh God, am I going to jail?”

Clarke shifted uneasily. “Ms. Foster … uh … who are Mr. Garrison and Diane?”

Brenna blinked owlishly at him. “The people in my apartment building,” she spoke slowly, her expression transforming from apprehensive to confusion.

“The people in your …” he paused. “Ms. Foster, what is today’s date?”

She blinked at him again. “Uh … well,” she whet her lips nervously. “How long have I been in here?” She gestured toward the hospital room.

“Three days.”

“Three days? For second-degree burns? That … that doesn’t sound right. I mean, second-degree burns are serious but … three days serious?”

“What is today’s date, Ms. Foster.” Clarke continued to watch her.

“Well, if I’ve been in here for three days … and geez,” a nervous chuckle escaped, “that seems weird for burns, then that would make it … Tuesday (1).”

“The date. What’s the date?”

She shot him an impatient look. “November 3rd.”

“Right, November 3rd. What year?”

She laughed. “You don’t know what year it is?”

He frowned. “Just answer the question, please.”

She shrugged. “Two thousand five.”

“Shit,” he muttered under his breath. “I’ll be right back.” He straightened from the bed so fast the railing rattled.

What was the big deal? She thought. Why was he acting so weird? And where was he going? She watched him walk to the door and peer around the corner. She heard the timbre of his voice but she couldn’t make out what he was saying.

He came back moments later with Dr. Donnelly trailing him. He looked grave.

“What’s wrong?” She felt panic bubble up in her gut but she refused to give in to the feeling.
Dr. Donnelly took out a penlight from his pocket and shined it into her eyes.

“Okay, what’s going on you guys, you’re freaking me out.”

Dr. Donnelly placed both his hands on her head and began to examine her skull. His expression was concentrated and serious.

“Ow!” She pulled back as he touched on a bruised area just above her left ear.

“That’s sensitive?” Donnelly asked in absent tones. He left her and reached for the chart hanging from the end of the bed.

“Yeah, it’s a little sensitive.”

“Do you have a headache right now?”

“Sort of.”

“What do you mean sort of.”

“I mean, it hurts but I’ve had worse. What the hell is going on?”

Donnelly faced Clarke. “Did anything fall on her?”

Clarke whipped out his notebook and examined notes. “I … don’t have anything about that, but I can ask the fire chief. It all happened so quick and the were desperate to get her out of there …”

“Right, right.” Donnelly waved his explanation aside and turned toward Brenna again. This time he appeared more relaxed and he smiled. “Well little lady, it appears you’ve had a head trauma.”

“Okay …” she said slowly. “What does that have to do with him asking me …” she stopped. “What IS the date?”

Clarke looked to the doctor for permission to proceed.

He nodded, his mouth set in grim lines.

“November 3, 2006,” Clarke answered her.

“Pardon me?”

“November …”

“Never mind,” Brenna held up a hand to stop him. “I heard you the first time.” She turned toward Donnelly. “Why do I think it’s 2005?”
“Why don’t you tell me what you remember,” Donnelly said.

“Well …” Brenna ran her knuckles across her lips while she considered the question. “The … last … thing … I remember …” She spoke slowly, distinctly. “Was watching TV and eating an apple.”

“What was on TV?” Clarke asked.

“Um … an episode of “Lost”, I think.”

“Season two or three?”

“There’s a season three all ready?” How could she have lost a year of her life? People lose shoes, car keys, even children, but they don’t lose time! Her heart began to beat faster and she was having trouble breathing.

“Whoa … it’s okay, Brenna. Relax,” Dr. Donnelly said as the machines by her bed began to beep. “Let’s slow down.” He continued to smile at her, but his command was aimed at Clarke.

“Right, sorry. Continue, please.”

“Um … well, I watching “Lost”, season TWO apparently,” she shot Clarke a disgusted look, “eating an apple, drinking bottled water … It had been a stressful day at work. Our clients, I’m an art director at Liberty Advertising,” she stated matter-of-factly, “didn’t like our proposal and were being difficult. I remember feeling depressed and so tired. I was even thinking about quitting – though it would never come to that. I’m always thinking about doing that.” She shrugged. “Marcus was supposed to come over later …”

“Who’s Marcus?” Clarke asked, pen poised above his notebook.

“My boyfriend.”

“Marcus what?”

“Marcus Waters.”

“Marcus Wa …” Clarke blinked at her. “Marcus Waters. He wouldn’t happen to be a lawyer would he?”

Brenna glanced between the two men. “Uh, yeah. How would you know that? Do you know Marcus?” She sat up straighter as a thought struck her. “He’s okay, right? He wasn’t hurt in the fire, was he?”

“No, no … it’s just that Marcus is …”

“It doesn’t matter right now, Brenna, please continue.” Donnelly said. He gave Clarke a warning look.

A frown line creased Brenna’s brow. She made a mental note to ask Clarke what he was going to say about Marcus later. “I was … smoking a cigarette.” She blushed. She had always been ashamed of the habit but it helped soothed her nerves, especially after stressful days. They were all stressful days, now that she thought about it. “And … and I guess I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I know, I’m here and you guys are looking at me like some weird science experiment gone horribly wrong.”

The men were quiet. Dr. Donnelly continued to study her while Clarke made notes in his pad.

“I … didn’t cause the fire, did I?” She swallowed. If she were responsible for the fire, or worse, responsible for having someone get hurt, she would never forgive herself.

Silence.
______________________________

Thanks for reading, everyone! This was the last excerpt I planned on posting from my 2006 project. The next NaNoWriMo excerpt that’s posted will be from my 2007 project (tentatively entitled: Broken Silence) Stay tuned!

3 Comments on NaNoWriMo Excerpt - 2006, last added: 10/29/2007
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2633. Sunday Scribblings - Hospital

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Feel like scribbling along?

Hospitals are strange, wondrous and sometimes scary places. They’re almost magical when you think about them. There are medicines that can cure, humans that are trained to fix our problems, and miracles happen every time a new baby is born. People’s lives are transformed whenever you visit a hospital.

You go in a certain way; you come out different.

You might go in broken and come out fixed.

You might go in healthy, you might leave sick.

I have a love/hate relationship with hospitals. I love that they were able to extend my mother’s life for two more years, but I hate how they couldn’t completely fix her; she died last month.

At least the doctors were able to drug her into a blessed void.

Hospitals are designed to take your physical pain away, but what about your emotional pain? How can hospitals take away the anguish, the worry, the despair, the utter devastation when someone close to us expires?

I should have been able to help my mother. I was in a position where I should have been able to make the doctors work a bit harder, to make the staff care about her a bit more. Why did this have to happen? We’re in an amazing age – we are making incredible medical discoveries each and every day – why couldn’t any of this wonderful technology save my mother?

I can’t handle dashing people’s hopes anymore. I’m not strong enough to look grief in the face and dodge it’s ugly accusations. I should stop and simply walk away. I would, if only I hadn’t promised my mother that I would do everything in my power, everything that was humanly possible, to help save just one more life from the cancer that took her away from me.

“Denise, are you all right?”

I didn’t bother to glance up. Was I all right? I didn’t feel all right. In fact, I felt pretty lousy. How were we expected to go on when so many around us were suffering? Something bobbed to the surface of my stomach and my heart began to flutter. I swallowed it back down my throat and forced a smile.

“Of course.”

“You don’t look all right. Have you taken your …”

“I don’t need pills. I just need to,” I closed my eyes hoping that by doing so I could ignore the guilt that had attached itself to my soul, “deal with all of this.”

I sensed, rather than saw, Stacy’s nod of agreement. No one knew what to say around me anymore. I didn’t know what I wanted them to say anymore.

“Why don’t you go take a break.”

“I just had a break.”

“Go take another one.”

I opened my eyes and made the mistake of looking at my co-worker. This was the person I had trained under. She was my mentor. She was wise and well meaning, but suddenly, I hated her simple life and her caring demeanor.

“I’m fine,” I replied and I was quite proud of myself, for though my voice was strong, I knew, deep in my heart, I was not.

Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

“I’m making my rounds. If Dr. Wilson shows up in the next ten minutes, please let me know.”

“Right.” Stacy nodded and transformed her face into a mask of professional indifference.

I returned her brusque nod and fed off her stolidity. We were trained, from the very beginning, to assume an impersonal persona when it came to dealing with patients. We weren’t allowed to become personally involved. For if we gave our hearts and sympathies to each and every patient, then we would simply not have any left over to live our lives.

I began walking down the corridor. I had been employed with this particular hospital for the past fifteen years, but had only started walking down this specific corridor for the past three years. I resented the fact that I had to frequent this wing of the hospital at all and I would have continued to avoid it – if it hadn’t been for my mother.

“Oh nurse. I’m so glad to see you.”

I stopped myself, just in the nick of time, from snarling at the young, worried looking woman standing by the bedside.

“My father,” she gestured helplessly to the pale, shrunken man in the bed beside her. “He’s in so much pain. Can you please give him something?”

My eyes shifted toward the man in the bed. He was the latest cancer patient. He had been admitted only that morning and I knew, just by looking at him, he was in the last stages of the disease. The chemotherapy hadn’t worked – the cancer was winning.

“I’m sorry. I can’t administer medication without the doctor’s approval.” Is what I found myself saying. “And it wouldn’t do any good anyway. He’s too far gone. The medicine won’t affect him at this point.” Is what I thought to myself. I knew this. I had experienced this stage with my mother and though every fiber of my being knew I needed to comfort this young woman, I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it.

No one was there to comfort me.

The woman began to cry. The only sound she made was a small, pathetic whimper; her eyes began to blacken as mascara bled down her cheeks. She looked so lost, so forlorn and though it was my job to reassure her, I simply couldn’t do it. I had nothing left in my hopeful reserves to offer.

I turned and walked back out the door.

3 Comments on Sunday Scribblings - Hospital, last added: 10/28/2007
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2634. Song of the Week - #13

I love music. I love unknown musicians. I post a song from an unknown musician every week. Support your local musicians, won’t you?

This is from the electronic genre. I have a “thing” for dance music. It soothes me and sort of blends into my background so that I can concentrate on other things. It also energizes me when I’m feeling sluggish.

I like this one. It’s exotic and sounds mysterious.

Song of the Week:


Album description:

An electronic album with an exotic and sensual flavor. A film score without the movie. Somewhere between Enigma and Prodigy.

I also post a daily comic strip from Baby Blues. Life is tough - take a moment and laugh, won’t you? :D

null A new Blog Talkers question was posted today. If you’re looking for something to blog about this week, check it out! A new question posts every Sunday. (THANKS to everyone who has been playing!!)

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2635. It’s a Question of Scruples - #18


View results here.

Care to elaborate? Why did you vote the way you did?

Me? Thanks for asking. I voted no. I think this is a situation where all parties involved agree to disagree. Just because your son/daughter disagrees with you doesn’t mean you need to compromise your beliefs in order to please your offspring. In fact, what sort of message are you sending to your son/daughter if you give in? That’s it’s okay to crumble under pressure and conform? My husband and I are fully prepared to disagree with any future choice our sons might make. They know our beliefs; they know our opinions. If they choose to follow a path we can’t endorse, then that’s certainly their prerogative. And they will need to respect our right to disagree with them. The trick is to disagree peacefully so that it doesn’t damage our relationship. Hopefully, we won’t have to work through any issues like that.

1 Comments on It’s a Question of Scruples - #18, last added: 10/27/2007
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2636. Saturday Photo Hunt - Pink

PSHunt
This week’s theme: Pink

Considering we have two boys, we don’t DO pink.

However, my sister and her husband went to Graceland a few years ago and took a picture of Elvis’ “pink” room, so luckily … I was saved from posting a picture of Pepto-Bismol. Actually, this room sort of looks like the inside of a Pepto-Bismol bottle.

Pink Room at Graceland
Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.
Photo Theme. Join the blogroll. Visit participants.


5 Comments on Saturday Photo Hunt - Pink, last added: 10/27/2007
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2637. Friday Fill-In

Want to fill in your own blanks?

1. The last good thing that came in the mail was my oldest son’s coat from Lands End.

The black one.

Even though the boy refuses to wear a coat to school (mainly because it’s not “cool” - exactly who decides this stuff??), what kind of mom would I be if I didn’t buy him a coat?

2. This week I’m grateful for new business.

I had a meeting with a high school yesterday about their website. It went very well and I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into the project. I love my job!

3. Chocolate is the most delicious thing ever.

Especially when you have deprived yourself of having any in a while. Hello?! YUMSVILLE!

4. Other people’s secrets inspire me.

5. I’m most happy when I have my family around me.

I always walk on pins and needles when GD is at his school, MK is at his is school and the hubs is at work. I actually jump when the phone rings.

6. And all the roads we have to walk along are the result of choices we’ve made.

So choose wisely, grasshopper.

7. As for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to watching “Next” with my husband , tomorrow my plans include scanning and choosing family pictures to put in frames and Sunday, I want to get this bathroom together so I don’t have to think about it anymore !

2 Comments on Friday Fill-In, last added: 10/26/2007
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2638. Friday Craft - Spooky Party Treats

Looking for cool snacks to serve fun-loving Halloween party guests?

Serve up a bowl of these creepy peepers. Recipe makes 24 eyeballs.

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RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
3.4-ounce box vanilla pudding mix
Jelly beans
LifeSavers Gummies
Plastic eggs
2 empty egg cartons

DIRECTIONS:
1. Prepare the pudding according to the package directions. For each eye, fit a jelly bean into the center of a LifeSavers Gummies candy and place it in a plastic egg half.

2. Fill the egg cup with the pudding, then place the egg halves in an egg carton in the freezer until they’re firm (about 3 hours).

3. Remove the egg halves from the freezer and let them sit at room temperature for about 3 to 5 minutes.

4. With the back of a fork, gently press down on the edge of the pudding, rolling the frozen ball out of the egg cup. If you’re not serving them right away, place the eyes in a freezer-safe dish in the freezer until you’re ready.

Watch a step-by-step video demonstration of this recipe.

_______________________________

Most kids won’t eat a worm unless that worm is gummy. So we put them in this “rotten” punch to make it extra yummy.

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RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
Apple cider (adjust the amount for the number of people you plan to serve; we suggest at least 1 gallon)
Five 1/2-cup containers (we used Pyrex glass dishes; other small containers or cups will also work)
Red and green food coloring
10 to 15 gummy worms
Punch bowl

DIRECTIONS:
1. Pour apple cider into all 5 small dishes, stopping about 1/2 inch from the top. Add 2 drops of red and 1 drop of green food coloring to each dish and stir until the colors have blended.

2. Hang 2 or 3 gummy worms around the edge of each dish and place the dishes in the freezer. If you use more than 3 worms, the rotten apples won’t float as well. Freeze until the rotten apples are solid.

3. Just before serving, slip the frozen wormy apples out of the dishes by setting them briefly in a few inches of warm water in your sink.

4. Float the rotten apples in a large punch bowl filled with untinted cider. For added creepiness, drape the gummy worms over the edges of your serving bowl.

5. Tip: Do steps 1 and 2 the day before serving the punch.

Watch a step-by-step video demonstration of this recipe.

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2639. Jump Into Life, Feet First

Jump into Life Feet First

I’m getting ready to jump into my NaNoWriMo project.

What are you getting ready to jump into?

I believe this picture came from the Kodak Picture of the Day Site.

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2640. Flash From the Past - Water Ride

Water Ride

My family went to Silver Dollar City one year and me, my nephew, sister, brother-in-law, brother, and sister-in-law all rode the water, uh, log thing. We all had a blast, though I’m not too sure about my nephew (he’s the one who looks like he’s about to throw up).

We were all pretty soaked but heck, who cared? :D

This was taken about five or six years ago.

3 Comments on Flash From the Past - Water Ride, last added: 10/27/2007
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2641. NaNoWriMo Excerpt - 2006

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From my NaNoWriMo 2006 project entitled: Reality Check

Need to catch up? Read the first, second and third installments.

______________________________

Brenna felt as if she were flying. She was weightless, as light as a feather. And like a feather, she gently swayed, twisted, and flipped with each gust of wind. The sun shone brightly and she had to squint to see past the haze and dust particles sparkling and twinkling like tiny diamonds carelessly tossed into the air. She smelled flowers, the scent both intoxicating and overwhelming at the same time. She slowly opened her eyes to mere slits: petals of various shades of purple, pink, yellow, red and white danced before her eyes. She blinked in an effort to bring them into focus. Her vision was blurry, fuzzy around the outer perimeters, where were her reading glasses?

“Doctor, she’s awake.” A low voice rumbled next to her and she started with surprise. The voice sounded kind and understanding, though held an underlying thread of authority.

“I can see that.”

Brenna blinked harder in an attempt to bring the man bending over her into focus. He was wearing a white coat; his stethoscope came dangerously close to knocking her in the nose. She pressed back against the pillows in an instinctive gesture to avoid being thwacked.

“Oops, sorry about that.” The man tucked the instrument between his lapels with an apologetic smile. “Good morning, young lady. Or should I say good afternoon?” He peered intently into her eyes for long moments before snagging her wrist between strong, cool fingers. “We were beginning to wonder if you would wake up today.”

She continued to study him curiously. He appeared to be in his late 50’s. He had a full head of salt and pepper hair, dove gray eyes and a dimple just under his lower lip. He continued to time her pulse, his expression thoughtful, but not serious. She noted the nametag pinned to his coat – Dr. Nathan Donnelly. Dr. Donnelly noticed her stare and offered a kind smile.

“How are you feeling, little lady?”

She couldn’t help it. She grinned back at him. Her father used to call her that. “A bit groggy. Where am I? Why am I here? What time is it?” Her voice cracked and sounded like a bullfrog.

Dr. Donnelly raised a brow. “You … don’t know why you’re here?”

“No.” One simple word and yet she wanted to ask so much more. She had the feeling she didn’t really want to know more.

“You’ve … been in an accident, my dear.” The doctor gestured toward her bandaged arms.

Brenna tried to glance down, yet couldn’t. A momentary stab of panic coursed through her body. The doctor, noticing her alarmed expression, placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“Relax, Brenna. You’re going to be all right. You’ve sustained second-degree burns on most of your body. Your arms were the worst. They said the towel you were holding caught fire and adhered to your skin …”

“I’ll take it from here, doctor.” It was the man’s voice again.

Brenna tried to turn her head in his direction but was unable to get very far with her bandages. The man, sensing her need to see him, stood up from his chair and leaned into her line of vision. He gave her a stiff smile.

She gasped and nearly choked on her saliva. He looked like Tom Cruise.

“What is Tom Cruise doing here?” Brenna’s eyes darted back to the doctor in alarm.

The doctor chucked, the man did not. “That’s not …” the doctor sputtered out with amusement. “That’s Detective Clarke. He’s here to ask you a few questions about the accident.”

She could feel a slow blush creeping up her neck and pooling into her cheeks. She hoped the men wouldn’t notice it or just attribute it to her injuries. “Oh, of course. I knew that.”

She turned back to study Clarke. She felt foolish now that she was getting a good look at him. He did indeed resemble the actor, but he was more … rugged looking, a little more rough around the edges perhaps. His hair was cut close to his head, like a buzz cut, only longer on top and spiky and the color of charcoal briquettes. She noticed the points were shiny with hair product and she nearly smiled at his vanity. His eyes were so dark blue they looked purple, his eyebrows thick and bushy. He had a boxer’s nose, misshapen and slightly crooked, grooves extended from either side of his nostrils and curved around to the corners of his mouth; they deepened as he smiled.

She offered a tight smile in return. “Hello Detective.” Why did she sound like a squeaky mouse? She cleared her throat and tried to hold on to her composure.

Clarke nodded, “Ms. Foster.” He turned his beautiful grape-colored eyes to the doctor. “Is she okay to question?” He glanced doubtfully back down at her.

Brenna bristled under his gaze. Okay, so she may be feeling weak, burned, disoriented and a tad self-conscious in front of this gorgeous man, but she was tougher than he thought. She bobbed her head in determination, only the bob, restricted by bandages, appeared more like an involuntary jerk. “I’m okay, ask away.”

The doctor’s voice sounded far away. “She’s the boss. I’ll be by later to check on her.”

Clarke pulled his chair closer to her bed and sat down. “Right, thanks doc.”

“Would you mind?” She didn’t bother to disguise the irritation in her voice.

“Mind what?”

“I can’t see you down there. Would you mind sitting up here?”

“You mean, on the bed?” He sounded horrified, as if she had just asked him to empty her bedpan.

She smothered a chuckle and forced her voice to remain impassive. “Yes, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course.” He sounded like he minded very much, but was too polite to refuse. He stood up, lowered the bed railing and sat down on the edge of the bed. The mattress sank under his weight and her body tilted toward him, her outer right thigh pressed against his jean-clad leg. “Oh, pardon me.” He shifted uncomfortably away from her.

She smiled. She discovered she liked making him uncomfortable. “Do I make you uncomfortable, Detective?” She couldn’t resist teasing him. He blushed and she felt triumphant, and that puzzled her.

“Not at all, Ms. Foster. Can we get on to the questioning?”

“Of course. Ready when you are.”

“Tell me about the fire.”

“There was a fire?” Panic seized her heart. And then she remembered the doctor had said her injuries were burn related. She nodded, “Yes, let’s talk about the fire. What happened? Was it arson? Did an appliance melt? Or …” a sudden thought occurred to her. “Was it my fault? It was my smoking, wasn’t it. I caused the fire. Did I burn the place down?” She gasped. “Oh my God, was anyone hurt?”
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Thanks for reading! Last excerpt Monday.

1 Comments on NaNoWriMo Excerpt - 2006, last added: 10/26/2007
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2642. C’mon, You Know This!

C'mon, You Know This!

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2643. Thursday Thirteen - Moments in Time

Thirteen Pictorial Moments from this Past Week

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

1. Practicing
MK practicing his saxophone.

2. Putting it Back Together
The hubs, putting all of his books back into his bookcase after our new (replacement) carpet had been installed.

3. Going to School
GD’s school STARTS at 7:50. So the hubs takes him to school so I don’t have to break my neck (and speed limits) to get MK to school on time. SOMEONE looks too tired to drive. Hhmm … maybe I should just break my neck and take both boys to school. lol

4. Waking Up
The boys, eating breakfast and trying to wake up before school. Hhmm, SOMEONE looks grouchy. :D

5. Forcing a Smile
GD is a serious kid. He doesn’t talk much (he says he doesn’t have anything to say) and he doesn’t smile very much (he says there’s nothing to smile about). So, I make it a mission to MAKE him smile. I know I drive him nuts. I LOVE to drive that kid nuts.

6. Putting in Landscape Lights
The hubs spent a good portion of his weekend putting in landscaping lights. He put a spot light on each of our six rock columns and it looks AWESOME!

7. Painting Bathroom
Ah, the infamous painting the bathroom a sickly mushroom color episode. We’ve decided to keep the color. Let’s hope I can find some decent accents to offset that off-the-wall color. (Or I suppose, it in this case it’s ON-THE-WALL).

8. Putting in Bamboo shades
The hubs is putting our new bamboo shades up. If you look carefully, you can see our new bamboo shower curtain. Do you notice a pattern here? The last three pictures? Of the hubs working his tail-end off? Yeah, I worked the man to death this past weekend. lol

9. Candy Corn Vampire
My candy corn vampire man. I think he was so tired from doing so much around the house this past weekend he sort of, um, freaked out on me. I turned around and there he was with candy corn stuck to his teeth. What’s the first thing I do? Take a picture and post it for the world to see. lol

10. Auditioning for Honors Band
For those just tuning in, MK made jazz band. This made him so confident that he decided to make a recording and audition for honors band. Cross your fingers for him!

11. After School Snack
The boys do this every day after school. They sit down at the kitchen computer, watch funny YouTube videos and eat a snack. Ah, to be young and carefree once again. (Note to self: CLEAN THE CABINETS YOU PIG!)

12. My Secret - Post Secrets
Yes, I finally broke down and bought the new Post Secrets book. I’m desperate to steal ideas for my NaNoWriMo project. And folks? This book is OOZING with ideas.

13. Brainstorming
I’m brainstorming for NaNoWriMo. And I’m embarrassed to say … it hasn’t helped much. *blush* Sshh … I must go back to thinking now.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

tags: thursday thirteen

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2644. Menu Plan Monday - October 22

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Pick up more recipe ideas here.

On the menu this week:

Monday: Smothered Steak

I got this recipe from a gal I used to work with at Wal-Mart. It’s incredibly fast and easy and the guys love it.

Ingredients:

Round steak
1 Green Pepper (cut into rings, don’t dice it)
1/2 onion (cut into rings)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce

Brown round steak, (don’t add oil. It makes it’s own juices), both sides, in electric skillet. Turn heat down to simmer. Pour stewed tomatoes (with juice) on top of steak. Pour can of tomato sauce on top of steak and tomatoes. Place green pepper and onion rings on top.

Cover skillet and let simmer all day.

And that’s it. The meat will soften and fall apart when you pick it up, it’s so tender. And the flavors … YUM.

We usually have this with mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes and hot, fresh yeast rolls. It’s a favorite in our house and I love it because it’s so gosh-darn easy to fix. :D

Tuesday: Nachos Supreme

Wednesday: White Chili

Thursday: Beef & Broccoli

Friday: Go Git (family tradition)

Saturday and Sunday, we usually either go out for lunch or dinner and whatever meal we go out for, we eat in for the other meal. For example: Saturday we’ll stay home and eat frozen pizza for lunch and then go out to dinner. Sunday, we’ll out to lunch and have tacos for dinner (something fast and easy because you know how I feel about the whole cooking thing). We do this to save money and time. Who wants to slave over a hot stove all weekend long? Not me!

So readers tell me: What’s for dinner tonight?

3 Comments on Menu Plan Monday - October 22, last added: 10/23/2007
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2645. I Didn’t Do It, I Swear

I Didn't Do It, I Swear

Poor little wet puppy. (No, he isn’t mine).

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2646. NaNoWriMo Excerpt - 2006

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From my NaNoWriMo 2006 project entitled: Reality Check

Need to catch up? Read the first and second installments.

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“There, all done now. Does that feel better, champ?” There was no response, puzzled, she glanced down; he was fast asleep. She smiled again and as gently as she could, carried him to his room. She slowly lowered him to his crib. The child stirred, turned onto his side, curled his fist under his chin and sighed in contentment. Brenna felt an overwhelming wave of pure love wash over her very soul. He was so precious. Her son had been her beacon of light in her emotional turmoil these past months. She wasn’t sure she would have recovered without him.

She pulled his Thomas the Tank Engine blanket over his prone body and tucked it in around his body. Ethan had always loved to be swaddled. She had carried him close to her body in one of those baby slings until just a few short weeks ago. He was getting too heavy for her to handle. Her baby boy would have his first birthday in two weeks.

She shook her head in wonderment as she gazed down at the dark-haired boy. It was only one year ago that she gave birth to the little tyke – it seemed only yesterday. She remembered the nurse handing her baby boy over to her, her face wreathed in smiles, her eyes twinkling with pleasure and something else … wisdom perhaps?

Brenna gently swiped strands of hair from the boy’s forehead. Marcus had been there, though he had shown up late. He had promised to be there for her whenever she went into labor. It was the first of many broken promises.

She couldn’t believe she had been so naïve. Friends had tried to warn her, she had ignored them. She was so sure he was the one, that he loved her. She had loved him. In fact, she had been close to giving him that one special piece of her heart, the part she had never given to anyone else ever before – and now never would.
“Bastard,” she whispered under her breath. She lightly traced Ethan’s ear with the pad of her finger. He stirred and whimpered slightly.

Brenna exhaled a long breath and watched the steady rise and fall of his chest for long moments. She would die for this child, for he had certainly saved her. She turned on the 15-watt lamp next to his bed and exited the room, pulling his door closed behind her, but not shut.

She made her way to the kitchen, her stocking feet swishing against the cold tile floor with each step. She made herself a cup of hot cocoa, idly staring at her reflection in the window over the breadbox. Where had she gone wrong? How did Marcus slip through her defenses so easily? How did she not see him for what he truly was? How did she miss the signs? “You’re an idiot,” she said to herself in the glass. She frowned.

Hooking a finger around the handle of the mug, she made her way back to the living room. She sank down into the deep sofa cushion. She felt so old. Was 30 old? She took a cautious sip of the hot brew and stared at the branches swaying in the wind. She needed to stop feeling so sorry for herself. She was healthy, she had a beautiful, intelligent baby boy, she had a nice house, albeit small, she had been promoted to art director … she … she didn’t have anyone to share it with.

She groaned and placed her mug on the end table. She was so tired. So tired of trying to balance her professional life with her personal life. Tired of worrying whether Ethan was all right at the daycare center, tired of worrying about whether a client would like their designs, tired of meeting stringent deadlines, tired of being alone.

“Stop it,” she muttered. “Quit feeling sorry for yourself. You can do this. It will get easier.” With determined resolve, she closed her depressing thoughts, her hurting heart and her tired eyes.

She awoke with a jerk. What in the world? She blinked sleepily. What had wakened her? She stared up at the ceiling, fingers of dark shadows from the tree limbs outside danced and swayed seductively with each puff of wind.

She listened. Everything was quiet. The air was heavy and still and smelled faintly of diaper rash ointment. She glanced toward the clock. A moonbeam slashed across its face – 2:53. She snuggled deeper into the couch and sighed. She really should go to bed and she would, she just needed to lie there for five more minutes.

She could feel herself succumbing to the comforting darkness again … she was falling … falling … falling into a thick, soft cushion of delicious nothingness when she smelled it.

She sat bolt upright and immediately felt dizzy and disorientated. She lifted her nose like a bloodhound catching the scent of it’s prey – yes, it was definitely smoke.

She rolled off the couch so fast she bumped her leg against the coffee table. “Shit!” She scrambled to her feet and ran toward the kitchen. Only as she reached the doorway, she could tell the smoke was not coming from that room. She veered away from the kitchen and turned toward the hallway. She stopped dead in her tracks.

Thick, black plumes of smoke billowed out of Ethan’s room. She would recall later how the smoke curled, coiled and rolled against the ceiling, almost caressing it with long ebony fingers of destruction. She heard a loud hissing roar, like the sound that emits from smoke stacks at a coal factory. A sharp crackle sounded and Brenna knew without a shadow of doubt that it was the sound of Ethan’s crib snapping into bits.

She screamed. The sound was ripped from the depths of her soul and disappeared into the dense blackness now rolling toward her with increasing speed.

“Ethan! Oh my God, ETHAN! ETHAN! BABY, WHERE ARE YOU?” She continued to scream as she ran toward his doorway. She kicked the door open and blinked in utter astonishment. She was staring down the throat of hell. Flames so hot they were a brilliant white were snaking their way up the walls. Bright blue wallpaper sprinkled with tiny boats began to peel, curl and slide down the walls – it looked like a waterfall, strips of liquid paper cascading down the sides and pooling onto the floors. Stuffed animals were ablaze and vaporizing before her eyes.

She continued to scream her son’s name as she attempted to enter his room. The heat was so intense she could feel her eyebrows singing. Her cheeks, lips and earlobes felt as if they were made of wax and melting onto her shoulders. She didn’t care, she had to get her son out of there.

She strained forward only to be pushed back by a wall of intense heat. She stumbled and fell back into the hallway, gasping and coughing, desperate for fresh air but frantic to rescue her son. She crawled toward the bathroom her legs unable to support her. Blood roared in her ears, her brain felt like a lump of white-hot coal in her head, searing all rational thought. When she finally reached the bathroom, she grabbed two towels and frantically soaked them under the bathtub spigot. She wrapped one around her head and carrying the other one, she staggered back toward the bedroom. She couldn’t see past the tears, sweat and blood in her eyes. It was becoming increasingly difficult to breathe but she still moved back toward the inferno. In a small room at the back of her conscious mind she thought she heard sirens. She couldn’t stop to see if she was right. She had to save her son!

She beat back the flames now greedily licking the doorframe. A wave of nausea coursed through her body as the fire looked almost sexual in its desire to consume everything in its path. She beat her just past the doorway. She was in!

“ETHAN! OH GOD, ETHAN WHERE ARE YOU?” She thought she heard a cry, just to her right. She lifted the towel in front of her as if it would somehow push the wall of fire back to hell where it belonged. She strained to make it past the molten pillar of fire that used to be the rocking chair. The towels, now bone dry, caught fire and she was forced to drop them. Her hands were blood red and stinging but she forced the pain to the darkest regions of her consciousness. She could smell her hair burning and still she pressed forward.

She croaked out an animal cry of pain when she saw the spot the crib used to occupy – it was a pile of red, glowing kindling. Brenna sank to her knees and covered her face in her hands. She no longer cared if she lived or died, her son was gone.

Brenna’s insides felt hot and crusty. She could feel her heart desperately knocking and beating against her chest, like a bird desperate to escape its cage. Her lungs felt small and tight in her chest, choking and squeezing the life out of her body; her breathing became shallow. She knew it was only a matter of minutes before her clothes caught fire. She would be burned alive. She didn’t care. She deserved to die; she wasn’t there to save her son’s life. What was the point of living without him? She welcomed death.

Hell beckoned to her with open arms.

Brenna allowed it to embrace her.
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Thanks for reading! More on Thursday.

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2647. Baby Spinach

Have you ever fixed, or improved, something around your house only to step back later, look at it and think, “this looks like crap?”

I mentioned, in Saturday’s video, that the hubs and I were getting ready to paint our front bathroom. It has been six years since we’ve done anything to it and as you can imagine, between the hairspray, moisture from the showers and various other disgusting flying vapors, the walls looked pretty nasty. And the ceiling was even worse.

We have a popcorn ceiling. I know. How 70’s of us. But honestly folks, I rather like it. I can’t imagine having plain, smooth ceilings, I really can’t. And I like to burn candles. Lots of heavily scented candles because one, it disguises the disgusting smells oozing from said bathroom and two, it makes the whole house smell nice to boot. Only, burning candles comes with a price – it leaves soot everywhere. Our ceiling and walls were covered with soot. And we must have a small water leak somewhere because there were a few water stains, too. So, the hubs patched and painted our ceiling and it looks awesome.

I found a shower curtain at JCPenney’s home store. But I had looked around quite a few places (though had forgotten Bed Bath and Beyond, DOUBLE DUH!) before settling on this one particular shower curtain. The hubs and I took the shower curtain up to Lowe’s last weekend, matched the paint and got everything ready to go for this weekend. (Though we inevitably forgot a few things – who doesn’t, right?)

The window and door in that room were a dark brown. And we knew our paint, which is a mushroom color, wouldn’t go together. So, I started painting the window and door white, while the hubs began trimming the room with our new paint.

I finished the first coat of paint on the window, turned around and gasped. The paint was DARK. I mean, darkdark. And this was only the first coat!? I suggested we stop and re-evaluate because I wasn’t sure I LIKED the color after all. Our bathroom is long and narrow, which means it doesn’t get a lot of natural light to begin with. So I’m thinking dark paint + dark room = cave. Please, dear guest, go pee in our cave.

But, we always sort of freak out when we first put new paint on the walls, so we decided to go with it and see how it turned out.

We finished applying the second (and in the case of the window and door, third coat) of paint late Saturday night.

We were not impressed.

But, we were tired so we would sleep on it and see what it looked like in the light of day. (Or, what little light there would be considering this particular room is a cave).

We slept. We slept soundly. We woke up, peeked into the bathroom and …

didn’t like what we saw.

The first words out of the hubs’ mouth? “It looks like baby spinach.”

Well thanks, hon. Now I will always think of baby spinach when I use our bathroom.

But being the optimistic people that we are, we raised our chins and said in determined tones, “it’ll look better when we put the white trim in there. And we’ll put some white-framed pictures on the walls. It’ll brighten things up.”

So, we spent ALL DAY Sunday driving from store to store looking for junk, er, stuff, to put in our bathroom. At first, we thought we would go with a beach theme. Then we decided to do something with palm trees (since our shower curtain has palm trees), but we didn’t have much luck finding anything like that – anywhere.

We ended up back at JCPenney’s Home Store because all of the towels we bought that we thought would look great in that room? Were dark green and COMPLETELY clashed with our paint. So, I returned them. And in the process, we stumbled across another bamboo-ish looking shower curtain that was white-ish which we thought would lighten up the room. So we forked over another small handful of cash and bought ANOTHER shower curtain.

Okay. Now we have a bamboo shower curtain. Which means our décor just morphed into bamboo. We went to Pier 1 and saw some pretty cool stuff there, but nothing that would look good in our spinach/mushroom/olive bathroom. We went to Target. Nope, nothing there. We went to Wal-Mart and found some beach pictures (I know, I know. But I was desperate by this time to find SOMETHING for the walls. So now? Our theme is a bamboo/beach. Doesn’t that sound pretty? *snort*)

We also found a really cool tall bamboo vase and we bought some white birch branches to stick in it and I’m going back to Pier 1 to buy some green bamboo stalks to mix with it today so that takes care of the corner. *takes a breath*

So, we get home, set things up, step back, look at each and both of us crinkle our noses. It really doesn’t matter how you dress up the room, it still looks too GREEN. I honestly don’t think we’re going to be able to live with this color. It PERFECTLY matched our first shower curtain, but too much so. It was just too dark. And our second shower curtain does indeed brighten things up and it looks better, but still, it’s GREEN. Putrid green. Seventies green. I-just-threw-up-peas-for-dinner green.

We’re going to give it this week and then we’ll decide Friday night whether we want to repaint or not. Maybe it’ll grow on us, who knows. But somehow, I’m thinking it’s not going to.

This is such a bummer. This means, we’ll be spending the majority of our Saturday, moving things out, painting, waiting an hour, applying the second coat (and heck, it might take three coats to cover the DARK GREEN), and then putting everything back so we can use the dang room. What a major pain in the butt.

So readers, tell me. Have you ever done something around the house and then later thought, “What in the world was I thinking??” Tell me your stories. Cheer me up, please.

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2648. Wordless Wednesday - #45

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Want to play?

We're All Waiting

What are YOU waiting for?

From Post Secret

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2649. Elevator Moods

Elevator Moods

I have no idea what the purpose behind Elevator Moods is, but it’s fascinating. I’ve always had this weird interest in elevators - the fact that people never look each other in the eye, for instance.

I’ve actually had this link in my links folder for two years - I was pleasantly surprised to see the site was still active. If you have a few minutes to kill, I would recommend visiting each floor; you’ll see all sorts of interesting things. Number 3 is actually my favorite, I think. It’s just so off-the-wall.

Maybe I’ll incorporate an elevator in today’s Three Word Wednesday - stay tuned.

A word of caution: Floors 12 and 14 are not kid friendly. Twelve is a bit risque and fourteen is downright creepy. Make sure you have your sound turned up because you don’t want to miss that blood-curdling scream.

Mwahahahaha.

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2650. Three Word Wednesday - Broken Silence

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Bone, from If You Only Read One Blog This Year, has challenged us to write a story using these three words: Care, Unexpected, Weekend

Here’s what I came up with:

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Broken Silence

Janae stepped onto the elevator and ran the palms of her hands down her black, conservative trousers. It was her first day on the job and she felt like she had swallowed the grapefruit she had for breakfast – whole.

“Good morning.” She nodded to the other occupants and promptly turned around to face the front of the elevator. After a few more people slipped past her, the doors closed with a quiet whoosh.

She had taken great care with her appearance today. Even though she had tried on seven different outfits and tried four different hairstyles, she still felt underdressed and shoddy compared to the somber and briskly dressed people surrounding her.

Janae tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and glanced at the person to her right. It was an older lady, about her height, perhaps a little more slender, and wearing a very expensive charcoal gray business suit. She noticed the woman’s jaw clench and she assumed it was because she was aware of her curiosity.

She cleared her throat and more out of a desire to put the woman at ease and not have her think she was some lesbian with hot designs on her, she offered a quick introduction.

“Hi. I’m Janae. This is my first day and I’m pretty nervous.” She shrugged and tried to fight the rush of heat she could feel climbing up her neck. She knew that if she didn’t control her embarrassment, her ears would turn the color of a vine-ripened apple ready to be picked.

She patted her carefully coiffed hair back into place and wished she had had the foresight to wear it down so she wouldn’t have had to worry about blinding her co-workers with her neon-colored ears and clueing them in that she was nervous and more than a little terrified of doing her job.

The woman almost turned her head but stopped just short of fully looking at her. She grunted some sort of response but kept her attention riveted to the numbers that lit up on the control panel above their heads.

Too late. Janae could feel her ears growing warm and she bit her lip in an effort to stop the sudden rush of nervous tears. She stared at herself in the reflective surface of the elevator walls and blinked the moisture back. She would not cry. She would not cry. What sort of investigative journalist did she hope to become if she couldn’t handle being brushed off?

She was just nervous. She would soon settle down and find the pulse of the company. She pictured a clock in her mind – a clock that read 5 o’clock. She would probably laugh at how nervous she was when she went home tonight.

Maybe.

She took a deep breath and feeling ready to face the world again, she turned to the companion on her left.

“Is the elevator always this slow?” Her mouth stretched into a smile and she flashed her dimple. She knew men liked her dimple and thought she was cute whenever she allowed it to show.

The man definitely noticed her dimple, but he did not return her smile. Instead, his smoky gray eyes dropped to her chest, settled for long seconds before they moved back up to her face. His facial features were set into a stony mask of boredom and disinterest. He arched one thick black brow at her before turning his attention back to the numbers on the panel.

Four, five, six …

Somehow, his dismissal hurt more than any words might have.

Janae quickly turned her head back to the front of the elevator car. She could feel a small pebble-like lump in the back of her throat and she felt like she couldn’t breathe. If this was any indication of what her co-workers were going to be like, she already hated her new job.

Resigned and feeling dejected, she lifted her eyes to the numbers on the panel.

Seven, eight, ni …

The car shuddered, bumped and then ground to a screeching halt. The sound bounced around Janae’s eardrums and she winced. The unexpected stop momentarily caused the occupants to lose their balance and she could feel bodies swaying behind her. The woman to her right stumbled in her three-inch heels and grabbed Janae’s arm.

“Whoa there. Are you all right?”

“Of course,” the woman mumbled and quickly regained her balance. She blinked, as if coming out of a trance. Finally, she looked at her. Really looked at her for the first time. Janae smiled.

The woman stared back.

“What the hell is going on here,” the man on her left said.

“I think we’re stuck,” said a female voice from the back of the car.

Janae turned around to try and locate the voice. She hadn’t really noticed, but there were about ten people packed tightly behind her. And even though there were a lot of people, everyone was very careful not to touch anyone else. She couldn’t help but bite back a chuckle at the sheer absurdity of the situation.

“This isn’t funny,” said the woman on her right. “I’m claustrophobic.” She began fanning herself with a perfectly manicured hand. “I can’t breathe. Is anyone else having trouble breathing?”

“We’re running out of air!” A man with a pencil thin mustache in the back sputtered out.

“How long do you think we’ll be in here?” said a woman with thin lips. Her hair was so tightly bound behind her head her nose looked almost flat against her face.

“I’m sure it won’t be long,” Janae offered in a quiet, calming tone of voice.

“It better not be,” said the man on her left. “I have an important meeting in less than five minutes.”

Everyone nodded as if by staking their claim to the nine o’clock hour, it would somehow exempt them from the situation of being stuck in an elevator.

“Hi.”

Janae turned around and looked at the husky, somewhat handsome man, standing behind the man on her left who addressed her.

“Oh, hi.” She smiled.

The man caught sight of her dimple and his own smile deepened. “I haven’t seen you around here before.”

“No. This is my first day.”

“Ah. Which would explain why I haven’t seen you around before.” His eyes twinkled with humor and Janae liked him immediately. “I bet your name is Janae?”

She blinked in surprise at him and then chuckled. “Why yes. That’s right. How do …”

“I’m Vance. I think we were supposed to hang out today.”

She nodded. “Right. You were the person I was supposed to ask for when I reached the fifteenth floor.” She switched her handbag and her briefcase to her left arm and stuck out her hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“You, too.” He shook her hand. His grip was firm, but not a death grip. He smiled again and his whole face oozed charm and warmth.

“So, does this happen often?” She laughed and nodded toward the elevator doors.

“This is the first time,” responded the woman on her right. “I’m Susan. Your boss.”
Janae swallowed and turned her full attention to her new boss. Susan was smiling, but her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Hello. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Likewise.”

“And I’m William,” said the man on her left. “But everyone calls me Bill. And I’m,” he nodded toward Susan, “her boss.”

“Ah. The plot thickens.” Janae smiled. Bill didn’t return her smile. She looked at Susan, who was looking at Bill. Susan looked like she could smile, but was taking her reactionary cues from Bill. Janae looked at Vance. He was not only smiling, he was having a hard time keeping his laughter inside. He winked at her and she relaxed.

She was starting to get a feel for the office politics now.

She could also feel people relaxing around her and a quiet buzz began to sound as people began turning to each other and making small talk to pass the time.

“So. You’re taking Renee’s place,” Susan said. “She was a very good journalist. You’ll have big shoes to …”

The car shuddered once more and with a bump and a jolt, it started its upward climb once more.

It was as if someone had flicked off a personality switch because all of the voices stopped, in unison, and a dead silence descended on the car so thick Janae could almost swear she saw it pressing against the elevator walls. Susan never finished her sentence. All bodies had turned to face the doors once more and all eyes were fastened on the numbers above them.

Janae blinked. Had she just dreamt they had stopped and exchanged pleasantries? Why did she feel like she had stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone? She glanced over her shoulder and noticed Vance was watching her. His eyes were moist from mirth and he was biting his lips to keep from laughing out loud.

She smiled in relief. It really had happened. She hadn’t imagined it. She gave Vance a questioning look. She was dying to ask him why everyone suddenly stopped talking and being friendly the minute the elevator had started back up, but she was scared to break the heavy silence. Encouraged by the fact that Vance apparently shared her amusement at the situation, she crossed her eyes at him. Hey, if people couldn’t take a joke, then this wasn’t the place for her.

Vance, not being able to hold it in any longer, coughed out his humor.

The car finally stopped at the fifteenth floor. The doors opened slowly and the occupants began filing out in an orderly, but very impersonal manner. Janae was one of the first to step out, but she moved off to the side; Vance joined her. Together, they curiously watched their co-workers file out of the car in a zombie-like state.

“And people say no one cares anymore …” Vance muttered under his breath.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Nothing.” He turned to smile at her. “So, are you ready?”

She took a breath and nodded. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.”

“Great. Let’s get started. Your desk will be over - ”

They were both jostled by an over zealous, twenty something freckle-faced girl. “This just in, Vance. Susan wants one thousand words on her desk by the end of the day.” The girl stumbled out of sight just as quickly as she had appeared.

Vance turned to her and sighed. “Weekends are WAY too short.”
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