Hot summer sand met cold ocean froth. Two little girls in sunglasses and hats with buckets and towels, digging and giggling. I would bring a book and never open it, preferring to watch my children’s fun and the turquoise waves tumble in, one by one. The hours moved slowly but the time went so fast. Grandma came too with lunch in a cooler. She’s gone now and soon my time will be up, the next decades sure to pass even faster than the ones before. Each year’s bubbles crash in, spread out with a susurrus, and disappear back into nothingness.
Tiger sprawled on her pillow in exhaustion. Today had been so crazy! Gatsby had chased her four times and there was a leaf on the floor from someone’s shoe. A leaf! Naturally, that had to be shredded to bits. Maybe now she could rest. But no…
While in the middle of her nap, Tiger heard a buzz. She knew she must investigate and leapt off the sofa. Aha! A honeybee zipped around the kitchen, making a terrible racket. There was only one way to keep it quiet. Tiger swatted and pounced at this irritating intruder over and over until she captured it. Now what?
“I’m certainly not eating a bee,” she thought as it wriggled on the floor, all broken. So she meowed for Mommy, very loudly, as Mommy was quite deaf like all humans. Mommy walked into the kitchen and saw the bee, which had finally quit moving and buzzing.
“Did you kill a poor little bee?” Mommy tore off a paper towel and made the bee disappear into the garbage can. “Silly Tiger.”
No, it wasn’t silly! Tiger trotted regally back to her pillow. Mommy didn’t understand that buzzy things needed to be terminated.
“I understand,” Gatsby said as he jumped on the sofa next to her.
“Go away!” she hissed. “I’m way too tired to deal with you now.”
“Fine,” he said. “I’ll sit all the way over—oh look, Tiger! A little string from the blanket!”
“Ooh!” She felt a renewed surge of energy. “Let’s kill it!”
1 ~ Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver. Simply the greatest collection of short stories ever written. Ray is the king of the form. It looks so easy, but it is not.
2 ~ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is a classic for a reason. It’s an absolutely perfect story, and so beautifully told.
3 ~ The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forché. You may not have heard of this excellent poet, but it’s not too late to begin reading her work. This particular collection is from her travels to El Salvador and it is compelling and brutal. Margaret Atwood, another wonderful writer, helped get the book published.
4 ~ Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami. Another fabulous short story collection! I couldn’t decide which was my favorite of his novels, so I chose the shorts. So good.
5 ~ The Cat Who Went to Paris by Peter Gethers. Even if you’re not into cats, or animal stories, I dare you not to love this heartwarming tale. It’s not only about a special kitty, but also relationships in general.
6 ~ The Poetry of Robert Frost. I don’t really have to explain this one, do I? Simply the best.
7 ~ The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Yes, I occasionally read non-fiction. This book taught me so much about business and relationships. It may seem full of math, but it’s really about human psychology.
8 ~ The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. This book has been on my favorites list since the moment I began reading it back in college. It was the first time I experienced a story told in a deliberately non-linear manner with variable outcomes. Plus it’s stuffed full of interesting philosophy and politics. Just because I dislike arguing politics on the internet doesn’t mean I am not interested.
9 ~ The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. A must-read heartbreaker about growing up and the reality of love.
10 ~ Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. Yep, I am including a romance novel. First, this one is particularly good even if you don’t care for them in general. Jen writes the best dialog ~ I have learned so much from reading her stories. I also attended one of her in-person workshops. Second, it’s a contemporary, not a traditional “bodice-ripper,” so it’s actually relatable and fun. Third, the slightly sarcastic narrative voice is a character in itself. This was a game-changer for me. I’d wanted to write romance for a long time, but my natural writing voice is not super serious. I can’t take romance seriously! Or anything really. So when I saw that you can get romance published without droning on and on about carriages and ballrooms, I was psyched. It’s all because of Ms. Crusie that I had the confidence to write my own romances. Getting them traditionally published however is another matter entirely…
I use everything in my writing, like a depression era cook. Nothing goes to waste. While juicy bits might be served immediately, scraps and fat are not tossed out, but flung into the pot on a slow simmer. Bones and beaks will be cycled back in someday–wait and see.
Feathers float around the stove whispering poems as I stir the plot. Little feet line up on the windowsill awaiting their turn as I sweep broken shells into a corner.
Oh, I haven’t forgotten what you’ve done. You’re just lucky my weapon is a pen and not a gun.
Written for the Carrot Ranch [99 words]. Image source unknown.