in the middle of the night

I’m awake again.  Why am I awake again?  It’s dark.  It’s very dark.  I can sense that mom and dad are nearby but they aren’t moving.  I hope they are okay.  What if they aren’t?  That.  Would.  Be.  Terrible!

*whimper whimper*

Oh, okay they are stirring, so they are okay.  But, they still aren’t awake.  And I’m still awake.  Why am I awake?  Why aren’t they awake?  Something must be wrong.  Something must be horribly awfully wrong!


Oh, they are okay.  Mom is comforting me now.  And Dad has rolled over completely so he’s okay too.  And they are both awake.  That’s good.  Everything is good.  I feel okay now.  I’m not sure why I’m awake.  I guess I could go back to sleep.  Maybe I’ll just close my eyes again…


Uh oh.  The little hairless kitty is awake again.  How come the two big hairless cats aren’t better at telling when he is awake.  I can tell.  I know my sister can tell too.  I think the big hairless cat that pets us can almost sense when he wakes up, but not like we can.  The big hairless cat that feeds us is pretty much useless.  But, he’s always up first, and he always makes sure we have food and clean water, so I guess he’s not entirely worthless.

Though, if one of them doesn’t wake up soon, the little hairless kitty is going to start screaming.  He has already started squirming and making that weird mewing sound.  He sure doesn’t sound like a cat.  But, then neither do the big cats most of the time.  But, that’s off point.  One of them needs to get up now, or…  Too late.  There he goes.



*licking paws*

*slinking off the bed to disappear into the darkness*

I think I’ll find someplace else to sleep for a bit.  I’ll come back so I can snuggle up with the big hairless cats again after they get the little one settled down and sleeping again.  I wonder where my sister is?  Maybe I should go find her.


This bit of silliness brought to you in part by the Weekly Writing Challenge, my ten month old son, and one of my two cats.  The challenge this week was to “consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes. Leave your moccasins and bunny slippers at the door, and tell us a tale from a fully-immersed perspective that is not your own.”

I opted to tackle the challenge using a combination of two of the suggested prompts: I picked a family member (or two) and went with split perspectives.  I probably went a bit sillier with the whole thing than was being asked for, as I didn’t really dive all that deep into how my characters view the world around them.  But, I did offer a glimpse into how they could see the very specific occasion of my son waking up the house in the middle of the night.  So, hopefully it’s close enough that nobody will call me on it.

What about you?  Did you link up to this week’s writing challenge?  Are you normally adept at seeing things in your life from different perspectives?  Do you think I stayed within the guidelines of the challenge?


 Photo by Michelle Weber.Photo by Michelle Weber.

She watched and waited for everyone else to leave the playground.  She knew she should run and play with the other kids, she knew that she might even enjoy doing just that, but she didn’t want to risk breaking the magic.  She didn’t want to risk upsetting her other friends, the ones that only came around when she was by herself.

She sat much like she had the first time they had come out for her.  Having just moved to the neighborhood, she’d perched on the neglected merry-go-round and watched the other kids skip and race, slide and swing, laugh and squeal the afternoon away.  She had wanted to join them but was too shy to approach any of them.  She had hoped one of them might reach out to her but none of them ever did.

One by one they went their separate ways or were collected by their parents.  She’d hung her head, tears welling in her eyes, lonely, confused, and angry with herself for not having the bravery to stand up and ask the other children if she could join them.  After forcing the tears away, her mother would have been proud, she found the strength in her legs to push away from the apparatus.  It was then she’d heard a voice behind her say hello.

In her shock she’d fallen onto her behind as she twisted around to see who had managed to sneak around her.  And there had been no one there.  Then the horse had spoken again, “I do hope you haven’t injured yourself young lady, are you okay?”

She could still remember how it felt when her eyes had gone wide and her heart had started racing.  It was impossible.  She knew it was impossible.  Yet, it had happened.  The horse had talked to her.  She had seen its mouth move.  An initial jolt fear had been immediately replaced by a sense of wonder and joy.

“I’m okay,” she’d mumbled, and then dragged herself out of the dirt, using the edge of the merry as leverage.  Then the horse’s head had turned to look at her, and it had smiled.  She’d nearly fallen over again at that point, and very well would have if she hadn’t still been clutching the edge.

“Would you like to play with us?”

Us?  She’d thought, delirious in her excitement, as one by one the other animals around the toy swiveled to face her.  The poles slid away and they were free.

“I would love to…”

And so they had.  They’d frolicked, and danced around the empty playground.  Playing one game after another until she’d realized how late it had gotten.  She apologized profusely and told them she would come back and visit them every day, and then she’d sprinted home.  Happier than she’d been since before she’d moved.  Happier than she could ever remember being.

Every day after that she returned to the park and waited patiently for the other children to leave so she could play with her new friends.  Every day they came back to life for her.  They were free from their daily chore, free from their structured servitude.

But then she’d had school commitments to see to, and her mom had gotten sick and needed taking care of, and she hadn’t been able to join her new friends in the park.  She hadn’t been able to experience that magic and she had worried that perhaps when she did return the spell would be broken.  She didn’t know what she would do if that happened.

So, she didn’t want to do anything else to risk damaging the enchantment she had found.  She didn’t run and play with the other children.  She didn’t even make eye contact with them for fear that might entice them to come and start talking to her.  She just sat there, singing a song, one of the rabbit’s favorites, and digging her toy in the sand.

It wouldn’t be much longer.  The numbers had already started to dwindle and night was quickly approaching.  Soon, she’d hear the rabbit’s strong voice join hers, and she feel the horse nuzzle her shoulder, and watch the frog bound over her head.  She’d play tag with the tiger.  She’d go for a ride on giraffe.  She’d rub bears tummy the way he liked ever so much.

The playground would be theirs to do with as they pleased.  They’d be the ones laughing and squealing, skipping and racing, swinging and sliding, and she’d feel whole again, complete in the company of her friends.  Then when the last light of the day faded away she’d run home.  But she’d be back the next day and the day after that.

She would always return to play with them.  Because they had reached out to her.  Because they had seen how much she needed them.  And because she knew that they needed her to.  They were perfect when they were together.  And that’s how it supposed to be with friends.


Word Count: 836

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words.  Do you have a story to go with this picture (fiction or otherwise)?  Write it up and link to the challenge.  Go on then, what are you waiting for?!

the sauce

Photo courtesy of Michelle Weber.

Roberto prepared to spoon on the sauce.

This wasn’t just any sauce, mind you, it was his special creation: the culmination of his years of experience and expertise, his signature dish.  But, it couldn’t stand alone.  It needed something to be drizzled over to truly be complete.  Thus, he waited.

Carlo carefully plated his own masterpiece.  He took his time to make sure the presentation was perfect.  It simply wouldn’t do to have a single item out of place.  Genius cannot be rushed.

The two brothers, Roberto and Carlo, chefs extraordinaire, were known across the land as the finest cooks one could ever have the pleasure of being served by.  Their restaurant, Intingolo, had started humbly enough with the two of them working every shift on a shoestring budget and barely making ends meet.  Over the years word of the food had spread and the customers and rave reviews had poured in, allowing them to expand, hire help, expand again, and finally look around and feel like they had made it to where they wanted to be: working on their specialty dishes and leaving the rest of the business in capable hands.

Life had been good.

Then famous customers had started coming in, politicians, actors, sports stars, and the pressure to create works of art, pleasing to all of the senses, mounted.  Roberto and Carlo scrambled to find something that would define them and their restaurant, something that would appease the masses but also appeal to the more discerning palettes of their upper echelon clientele.

It was Roberto who had stumbled onto the sauce, and its secret ingredient, late one evening after the doors had been closed and the last of the staff had gone home for the night.  Carlo had worked countless hours after that to create a dish to compliment the sauce his brother had created and he too finally stumbled onto the right combination of flavors and textures.  They combined their creations, and, voila, they gave Intingolo a dish that would be raved about, craved, obsessed over and sought after through the country.

Roberto was clamored with request after request to give out the secret of his sauce.  The public wanted to know.  His peers wanted to know.  The world wanted to be able to at least attempt to make the delicious gravy in their kitchens at home.  He always refused.  He smiled, a knowing, sad and tired, smile after each attempt at getting him to divulge the ingredient list, but as long as the brother’s continued to garner fame and attention, as long as their restaurant was the one on the tip of everyone’s tongue, as long as they were the darlings of the kitchen, Roberto knew he couldn’t share the secret of his sauce with anyone other than his brother.

Carlo knew the truth of it, of course, he had been there the night Roberto had created it.  Plus, they were brothers and they shared everything anyway.  Roberto would have told Carlo how he had come up with the sauce even if Carlo hadn’t been there in those fateful late night hours.  Just as Carlo had shared the secrets of his dish with Roberto once he had perfected it.

They knew the “how” and the “what” of each others’ signature creation but they never once attempted to make them.  They were a team, they each had a role to fill, and they were okay with that.  It was as it was supposed to be.

The years passed, the restaurant thrived, Roberto and Carlo were offered guest appearances on several cooking shows, were asked for critiques on up-and-coming chefs, and were afforded every opportunity to thrive and grow their business, but every afternoon they returned to Intingolo and made sure they were on hand to create their dish whenever it was ordered.  It was their passion, their calling, their true love.

Eventually the truth came out.  When someone, or two brothers to be specific, has a secret that other people want to know they will find a way to discover the truth of that secret.  Staff members at the restaurant were bribed, money exchanged hands, hidden cameras were set up to record the brothers’ movements and after several weeks of having to move the cameras around to capture the right angles and the right settings of every step of the process, the entirety of the steps and ingredients to create the sauce and dish were caught.

It took less than 24 hours for the news to go public, for the restaurant to get shut down, and for Roberto, Carlo, and a third, unidentified, man to get hauled off to jail where all three were held without bail for their crimes.  In hindsight it was a marvel that the secret had lasted as long as it had.  Expose after special after investigative report was thrown together to track how they brothers had gotten away with it for as long as they had and to ensure that other famous restaurants and chefs weren’t employing similar tactics.

Due to the overwhelming and damaging evidence, all three men plead “nolo contendere” to the charges leveled against them.  As first time offenders, despite the overall mass of their crimes against humanity, the brothers were only sentenced to ten years in prison.  The public was outraged that the sentence was that long as the two chefs were still generally beloved by all.  The third man, received his third strike, and was sentenced to life in prison with the first possibility of parole in ten years time.  Though it was still his third strike and the Judge could not overlook that, it was statements from the brothers claiming the man’s innocence as to the purpose of the drugs he had been dealing Roberto for the past several years that the court factored in to being slightly lenient on the man.

The drug dealer truly hadn’t known the mdma (ecstasy) he’d been selling the elder brother was being used in creating the world famous sauce.


Word Count: 1,000

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge.
“This week, tell us a story based on this photo”

Pictures truly are worth 1,000 words.

step into the…

Something was wrong.  I knew that straight off, from the moment my eyes opened and I laid awake trying to will myself to get up.  I didn’t know what had been wrong though until much later when I reflected upon it and realized that I had been woken because I could no longer smell the strawberry fields.  But that is not part of today’s story.

I glanced at the clock and saw that I still had an hour to sleep before my alarm would go off.  Unable to sleep, and knowing that something didn’t seem right, I flipped the switch to turn off the alarm, to keep it from beeping at the appointed time, and flung back the covers.  I’d be early, it was early, but I’d grab some coffee on the way and that would waste at least a few minutes.

Showered.  Dressed.  Breakfasted.  I climbed back upstairs to brush my teeth and was hit by the same nagging sense that something was very wrong.  I brushed it off as just the odd feeling of being up so early.  The sun had not yet risen into the sky, and while that was normal for me, the time left until that would happen was not.  Teeth cleaned and breath freshened I grabbed the few odds and ends I’d need for the day and headed out the back sliding door onto my postage stamp of a patio.

The sky was overcast, normal for living near the beach, I could tell that even though it was still dark.  The chill of morning ate at my exposed arms.  A slight breeze tickled the hairs on the nape of my neck.   Shivering, just a bit, it took an extra try to get the key in the lock after sliding home the door behind me.

Three steps across the patio and I was unlocking the door to the garage.  If I had been paying attention in those three steps of being outside but still being “home” I would have noticed that beside the lack of smell from the strawberry fields the reason I could tell it was overcast was because there was a orange glow pulsing on the western horizon.

The sun rises in the east.  I live on the west coast.  The only thing west of me was the ocean.

I was not paying attention.

I stepped into the garage, happy for the brief reprieve from the morning air and happy to see that the garage door was still down.  I didn’t live in the best of neighborhoods and I was always a little concerned that someone might break into the garage at night.  Therefore, every morning I went out to find the two cars right where they had been left was a little win to start the day.

My hand slid up the wall and pressed the button to open the door.  The wheels and chain creaked and groaned in protest.  I didn’t blame them.  I didn’t want to have to work either.  But, we all must play our part.  We all must do what we are meant to do.

I passed between the two cars, intending to head down the alley to where I had parked my work truck, but the instant I crossed the threshold, leaving my garage behind and stepping into the alley, my world changed.

More specifically, I guess, my time changed.

The keys in my hand disappeared.  The clothes I had donned for work changed.  The alley in front of switched from well-kept asphalt to a broken and disintegrating mass of tar and dirt.  Weeds, years and years of them, had split through the surface and reclaimed the driveway for their own.

The first thought I had as my eyes finally opened to see, to truly see, what I had stepped into was “the world has moved on.”

The wall across from my garage was in shambles.  Entire sections had crumbled away to nothing, and only those pieces directly next to the stretches of iron lattice work stood whole.  My gaze would have normally had to lift over the wall to see the business park beyond, but in the absence of the normal obstruction I could see that the buildings were matching the wall in their state of disrepair and neglect.  Little more than the framing remained.  The signs that once adorned the rafters of each business had disintegrated away to nothing.

The pulsing orange glow I had missed earlier finally caught my attention and my swung my head to the west.  From the corner of my eye I could see that the rest of my complex also matched the wall in it’s state of decrepitude.  Essentially it no longer existed at all.  I resisted the temptation to slide past the orange glow entirely and turn in a half circle to peer back at the condo I had just left.  That visage, whatever it would be, would wait until I had spent at least a few minutes marveling at the glowing horizon.

There was no set cadence or tempo to the throbbing light.  It pulsed quickly then slowly, in brighter and then softer bursts.  The color remained constant though: day glow orange.  It wasn’t quite neon, but it was brighter than Halloween pumpkins.

I couldn’t see the source.  The whole horizon seemed to pulse with the light.  I couldn’t see all the way to the water, but there were fewer buildings in my way than there should have been.  Finally I turned back to face the garage I had exited moments before.  The door frame stood solidly but everything else was gone.  The cars I had just squeezed between were gone.  The back of the garage was gone.  The framing to my condo was gone.  The entire second story, where I had woken earlier in my bedroom, was gone.  A few beams from the framing remained in place, but not a single one was still wholely intact.

It was at that exact moment I realized that I was no longer holding the keys to my truck in my right hand and that I was no longer wearing the slacks and button-up I had put on after my shower.  In place of my typical Monday through Friday garb I was wearing some sort of grey jumpsuit.  It wasn’t anything I recognized from my closet.

My mind reeled.  My vision blurred.  My legs gave out and I sat down before I fell.

I sat there for a long time.  I’m not sure how long because I couldn’t see the sun behind the cloud cover, and I didn’t have a watch or a cell phone (both also having disappeared when I crossed over into this when).  It was long enough for me to feel like I could stand again and then what felt like 30 minutes more, but was probably only 5.  Time is tricky like that.

Regaining my feet, I immediately stepped back through the open garage door, hoping that I could return to my time by backtracking.  I continued through the garage, noticing that my clothes hadn’t changed, passed where my two cars should have been, out to the small patio on the other side, and into the wreckage of my condo through the spot the sliding door would have stood if the glass hadn’t shattered and turned to dust years before.  I stood in what had been my kitchen, still without my car keys, watch, and cellphone.  Still not dressed in my work clothes.  Still wearing the grey track suit I had never seen before.

I rummaged through the remains of what had been my home for any clue as to what had happened.  Questions flooded my mind: was this a dream? what year is it? what is the orange glow off the coast? where did everyone go? why did the world move on?  But there was nothing left in my condo to answer any of these questions.  I went back out to the garage to search it as well and also came up empty.

With no idea of what I should do or where I should go, I turned west again and started walking towards the coast.  Perhaps if I could get a clearer picture of what was causing the pulsing light I would understand what had happened to me.  I searched everything I passed for some hint, some clue, that could help answer the questions that were plaguing me but continued to find no trace of anything useful.

It was only a couple miles out to coast, a trek that normally would have taken only 30 minutes, but it took me several hours to get there.  Stopping to search homes and office buildings that still stood delayed my progress.  Plus, things were not as they had been in my when.  The landmarks I normally would have used to navigate the streets were mostly missing, and the streets themselves were all but gone as well, and occasionally littered with debris so completely that I had to change paths to continue heading west.

I eventually broke free of the commercial areas entirely and entered what had been the luxury homes lining the coastline.  At least that’s what I pictured in my head.  The visage in front of me was starkly different as where the multimillion dollar beach fronts homes had stood nothing at all remained except the foundations, and in some places even those had disappeared under the encroaching beach sand.  I saw a pole with a sign still standing in what should have been the middle of a street that ran perpendicular to the coast.  I walked up to it to see if it was still readable.

The letters were cracked, but the pole was still in somewhat decent shape, especially considering the carnage all around it.  I could make out the words, barely, but I could read them: Danger – Volcanic Activity and Tsunami area.  Do NOT Enter.   – Danger

My eyes flitted up to peer into the pulsing orange glow.  I wasn’t sure if my mind was just making it up or if I really could see something way out in the distance bulging into the heavens… something in the shape of a cone, with orange and red streaks streaming down its sides.  Was that cloud cover overhead or ash built up in the atmosphere?  Could I smell a faint hint of burning being mostly overpowered by the smell of the ocean?  Could that pulsing light be caused by lava spewing out of an active cauldron?

My eyes returned to the sign, and in the bottom right hand corner I saw the following: Trespassing here is against the Federal Safety Act of 2313.

My eyes returned to the ocean and the hint of the volcano on the horizon.  At least I knew it was sometime after 2313…

I turned from the beach and headed north.  There was a river that had run through the city in my when and I would need fresh water if I was going to survive.  I would need shelter too, but that could be built.  I would need food, but that could wait until after I had secured water.  Water, above all other needs, was most important.

As I walked I thought about all the things I would need to survive… and I also thought about the wife and child I had left behind in my when.  Did I wish they had stepped through whatever time portal I had crossed through that morning?  Or, was I happy they were safely back in a when that didn’t have a super volcano that had wiped out at least the entire coast if not more…?

I missed them already.

I pushed those thoughts aside.  There would be time to dwell on them later, hopefully.  I needed to figure out how to live first.

I didn’t give myself good odds on that…


Written in response to this week’s Writing Challenge – Door:

The door to your house/flat/apartment/abode has come unstuck in time. The next time you walk through it, you find yourself in the same place, but a different time entirely. Where are you, and what happens next?


What would your story be?

can you see it?

She sat alone on the windowsill, the sun streaming through the slanted wood blinds and warming her black fur.  Her right paw was stretched out between the two bottom most slats, resting against the screen, and the other three paws were tucked neatly under her body.  Her lids were only half open, squinting against the brilliant light, but still she saw everything going on beyond the large bay window barrier.  The ledge she sat on was only just wide enough for her, but it was five times over again her length.  Her tail, with just a dabble of peach in a circular splotch a few inches from the tip, the only blemish in her midnight coat other than the white of her paw pads, hung off the edge of the windowsill and twitched lazily.

In the warm afternoon light, her black fur blended almost seamlessly into the dark brown mahogany of the window blinds where her paw passed between them.  The screen bent every so slightly outward under the pressure of her extended foot.  Her owners learned long ago to only crack the glass pane a few inches to let in the fresh air or she would attempt to climb the crisscrossing mesh that kept her safely locked indoors.  She yawned in a wide grin, exposing her sharp fangs for a second, and then leaned her head down to rest gently on her right paw.  Her nose came to a rest just breaking the plane of the nearest reaches of the blinds.  Twitch, twitch, twitch went her tail.

She contemplated sticking her head in between the blinds to get a better view of the world beyond, she ever so much did enjoy that, but the luxurious warmth in her current position dissuaded her from further movement.  The shadows cast by the filtered sun spread out behind her on the carpeted floor.  Soon enough she would jump down from her perch and stretch out in a warm spot on the speckled carpet but the time for that had not yet arrived.  When the evening marine layer started to roll in and assault her crack of fresh air with a gentle cool breeze, only then would it be time to abandon her current spot.  She kept her eyes half open, peering out the window, daring the world to take notice of her.  Twitch, twitch, twitch went her tail.