Tag Archives: short story

2014 In Review: Writing

Oh, writing. :/

 

Work, both my real job and my side jobs, kept me so incredibly busy in 2014. So busy it hurt my brain. So busy that when I did have free time, work had sucked all my creative juices dry. That means this years word count is a sad number and there were no short stories this year, even though I had two I wanted to work on. I literally went months without writing a single word. MONTHS. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve written something new, I’m not even sure how to throw myself back into it. Like Victoria Schwab says, “I’ve forgotten how to book.” But I will figure it out again and soon, I promise you that.

 

And it’s not all sad news to report this year. Even though I’m disappointed in only writing 29,415 words this year, I can proudly say that I actually finished my first novel in 2014. And I don’t hate it. In fact, I like it so much I hope that 2015 is the year I shop it around and publishing becomes a real, achievable dream. Another thing worth noting is the writing workshop I attended this year. Even if I couldn’t be producing new words, I still made sure to finally start learning what it takes to be published. Prior to my novels completion, I’d sort of avoided it like the plague. You know, no sense in learning about a future that can’t even be a possibility without a finished manuscript. I’ll be facing 2015 with some valuable information now!

 

Last year, I only promised myself I’d write and that’s all well and good, but this year I really do hope to achieve more and so as a guideline or reminder when I’m starting to drift from it again, in 2015 I’d like to:

 

  • Start looking for an agent with a finalized version of Dreamsters
  • Write at least 1 short story
  • Move Crack the Sky towards completion 

 

If I try extra hard and track my progress with the sticker method, these could be feasible goals. Just so long as work doesn’t steal my life again. *Fingers Crossed*

 

The Christmas Ban

Believe

 

 

Attics can be very mysterious places. Scary, too, and that’s why you’d never find Ruxin in one at night. Given the gray daylight, though, he didn’t much mind his mom sending him up on a mission to find sweaters in theirs, even if it might take all day.

 

Ruxin knew that when his mom said she was sure they were up here somewhere, that it was very likely there were no sweaters up here at all, but he had nothing better to do and he enjoyed watching the snow fall from the tiny octagon attic window at the highest point of their house.

 

Everything was covered in white for as far as his eyes could see and it just kept coming, a relentless sheet of snow burying them deep this winter. The heater struggled to actually keep the house warm, leaving the attic even colder than usual.

 

In his search Ruxin found all manner of blankets and scarves, but still no sweaters. He’d wrapped two mismatched scarves around his neck and draped a wool blanket over his shoulders like a cape to keep warm. It made him feel like some sort of winter superhero.

 

Hidden behind a tower of withered boxes, Ruxin discovered a tiny door, only large enough to crawl through. After prying it open, he found an old wood trunk inside. It had filigree carved edges and a winter scene similar to the one outside his house etched into the lid; tall pine trees, an old farm house, and smooth snow covering it all. In the yard there stood a man with a deer by his side. Ruxin ran his palm over the design in admiration, brushing aside the film of dust before tugging the trunk out of the cubby hole and unlatching the lock to lift the lid.

 

A musty burst of air escaped the trunk and he coughed for a second to clear his lungs. Dust motes trickled down around him like glitter floating to the floor as Ruxin reached into the trunk. His hand closed around the first item it touched and pulled out a long, white velvet cap with silver snowflakes embroidered into the fabric, and an edge lined with fur. It was a long sort of cap, the kind that’d hang down past your shoulders, and at the very tip, a matching fur ball dangled from its end.

 

Ruxin couldn’t resist the urge to slide it on his head, but it fell down over his eyes, far too large for a child. When he pulled it off, he noticed embroidery just inside the fur edge so he turned it inside out to find the name Nicholas Claus sewn in red cursive. The name intrigued him; it was unfamiliar and that told him this trunk didn’t belong to his family.

 

Holding the hat in his lap, he reached into the trunk again and pulled free a photograph set in a crystal frame that looked like ice. In it, a woman with cherry red hair kissed the nose of a man wearing the cap Ruxin held in his lap. Their cheeks were pink with the winter chill. Ruxin didn’t quite understand it, but there was something peaceful about the couple, something warm and inviting – an aura of happiness strong enough to emanate from a photograph. He also couldn’t help but notice his house in the background and the same pine trees that lined his yard’s borders.

 

He’d popped the back out of the frame before he’d thought better about potentially damaging the photo, but he’d seen old pictures in his mother’s photo albums and knew it was common practice to write facts about the snapshot on the back. Sure enough, written on the back in the same cursive as the cap, it read: Nicholas & Noel, Christmas 2013.

 

Ruxin thought, Christmas? What’s that? (more…)

In Pursuit of Jenna Mae

I’m not exactly sure what classifies a person a nerd, or who it was that came up with the title, but according to everyone else, Jenna Mae is one. I, on the other hand, am not. In fact, I’m as popular as it gets in our school. Now, you’re probably thinking –Wow, Trevor, cocky much?—and I’m sure that does sound cocky, but I’m just stating the facts. If Jenna and I were being rated on a scale, we’d be on completely different ends of the curve, with me soaring to the top and her sinking to the bottom.

 

I’ve known Jenna for a long time, though. Her family moved across the street from me when we were ten so it made sense that we’d mingle in the beginning. Popularity doesn’t matter when you’re kids; anyone can be friends. But high school adds a whole new level of social status once you cross those front doors and like I previously stated, Jenna and I are on opposite sides of the bar. Naturally, at home, we drifted apart as a result. Still, I’m cordial with her and have taken a secret pleasure in watching her grow into a body better than any of the popular girls could ever dream of having. It’s just one more reason her nerd stigma is so strong; girls can be such jealous things.

 

The Valentine’s dance is a week away and I intend on crossing the border that separates us socially to ask Jenna to the dance. Most would say this was cause for social suicide, but it won’t apply to me. It’s senior year and there are only a few months left of school. It’s highly unlikely I’ll even see half of my supposed friends after graduation, and besides, part of the reason I’ve always been so popular anyway is because I just don’t care what other people think. I dictate what’s cool and people follow.

 

Now, before you go judging me and assuming this attempt to take Jenna to the dance is just another one of those stories where the popular guy asks the dorkiest girl in school to the dance just to humiliate her, think again. This won’t be Carrie, there are no bets. The truth is, I actually like Jenna Mae – nerd or not.

(more…)

Playlist: In Pursuit of Jenna Mae

I don't typically post playlists for my short stories. Sometimes there isn't one, or it's just a lone song that lived on repeat while I wrote it and that's usually stated at the end of the post. But this particular story used three songs to write itself and so I thought it'd be fun to share ahead of the story in case you wanted to listen while reading! 

Arctic Monkeys – "R U Mine?"

The Black Ghosts – "Anyway you chose to give it"

The White Stripes – "Fell in love with a girl"

Do you sense a theme here? You should. 😉

Click HERE to read In Pursuit of Jenna Mae!

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October: In Review

For the first time this year, I’m not actually surprised that October was over in a flash. In fact, I’ll be surprised if the next two months don’t pass by just as quickly, if not faster. It’s just the nature of holiday season. This sucks for me since the beginning of fall marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year, but I try to not waste time moping about its fast nature and just soak up as much of it as I can while it’s here.

Writing: Even if the weather wasn’t an indicator of the changing season, I’d be able to tell it’s definitely fall because the writing bug is alive and well within me. Thank you, Autumn!

The month started off with me completing my Halloween short story. If you missed it, click HERE to read Intrusion! I’m rather fond of it and mostly because it came from a dream and while I often draw inspiration from dreams, stories rarely ever present themselves from start to finish the way this one did.

Since I finished my short story earlier than expected, I got to working on Dreamsters. After outlining the better part of the book I decided that the first two chapters I had written just didn't work so I deleted over 4K words. I haven’t added them all back yet, but I’m working on it.

Towards the end of the month we were hit with Hurricane Sandy, which left us without power for 48 hours. I used some of this powerless time to finally read my printed Crack the Sky manuscript (27 chapters worth) and see where I needed to pick it back up. It’s been a while since I read/wrote anything for Crack the Sky (like since March O_O), so I definitely needed a full read through before I could move forward. I was surprised to find that there was little to nothing I wanted to change at all, in fact I found myself captivated by the story which I hope can only be a good thing. But as I reached chapter 25, I shook my head in disturbed amusement over the remaining chapters. It is obvious to me that I must have written them when I still drank because they were horrible. The idea is there, but the execution is laughable. Needless to say, I’ve decided to can the last three chapters (3K words) and try again, not intoxicated.

So, where does that leave me for overall word count for the month? 3,895 words for October. Maybe you’re not completely wowed by that number, but I’m pretty okay with it considering it’s more than the month before. Plus, I’m hopeful that November will be even better.

Reading: For the most part I read the books I’d hoped to read this month. I am still in the middle of one unfortunately because it’s not really that good. Luckily I was smart enough not to let it keep me from other books and was able to read 7 books this month as a result! The titles of each below the picture are links to my Goodreads reviews on each book, if you’re interested.  

October Reads (Smaller)

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Gatekeepers (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 3) by Robert Liparulo
Timescape (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 4) by Robert Liparulo
Whirlwind (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 5) by Robert Liparulo
Frenzy (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 6) by Robert Liparulo
Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 by Matsuri Hino

Photography: I tried to take pictures of more than just Gideon this month. It’s fall, after all, which in my opinion is the prettiest time of the year. Because of this, I have lots to share this month! 

Gideon Pumpkin Patch
Gideon at the Pumpkin Patch

Milburn Orchard
Milburn Orchard

The Huff's
The Huff Family

Hurricane Sandy
Flooding in my walkway during Hurricane Sandy

If you’re wondering why there aren’t pictures of Gideon on Halloween, the reason is sad. As Hurricane Sandy struck Maryland, Gideon was rushed to the hospital with a 104 degree temperature and a potential meningitis scare. After several tests (including the all-painful spinal tap) they discovered an infectious sac in his neck obstructing his breathing and mobility. They decided to transfer him to the University of Maryland’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and attempt aggressive antibiotics before deciding if he needed surgery or not. Luckily, the antibiotics seem to be working, however he is still in PICU. This situation made the hurricane even worse than it already was. Halloween was nearly forgotten in the grand scheme of things, not that we could have celebrated it the way we’d intended to anyway. 

Music: It seems strange to say I don’t really have a lot to report in this area this month, but it’s sort of true. It doesn’t mean that music didn’t make me happy and that it wasn’t played non-stop like usual, it’s just that I spent more time listening to things I’ve already posted before than anything new, and mostly because Dreamsters playlist lived on repeat A LOT! But the one band I did listen to TONS was Relief in Sleep. And you’ll never believe what characters they woke up from a year long nap: The Cleaphytes. 😀

Relief in Sleep – “Collide”

Misc. Other: For anyone following my weight loss journey, I’m now officially in a smaller size of pants and at a total weight loss of 18 lbs. It’s a slow journey, I realize, but I didn’t gain the weight overnight and I won’t lose it that way either – at least not if I plan to keep it off (which I do). I’m impressed mostly in this past month to have still maintained a successful loss despite my seasonal favorite – pumpkin – being in everything. I even baked every weekend this month, but felt no obligation to keep the baked goods and found more reward in sharing them with others. I’m feeling rather proud of myself for this.

So, what kind of accomplishments did you have in October? What do you hope to achieve in November? Sound off in the comments!

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September: In Review

It really shouldn’t surprise me how fast September seemed to pass, but here I am marveling at the fact that it’s October already. I’m not all that disappointed as we’ve officially entered my favorite time of the year, but still, time really ought to slow down just a little. Anyway, what was I up to in September? Well, let’s see…

Writing

I don’t have some magnificent number to report. I’m hoping October and November are the months I wow you with a hefty word count since I’m statically more apt to write a lot in the fall, but I do have a number and one I’m not ashamed of. In fact, I’m quite excited about it because it’s for a short story I hope to share with you by the week of Halloween (for it’s “scary” nature). I wrote 2,188 words in September, which is about 2/3 of the way through the short. Can’t wait to wrap it up and then start working on my novels again this month!

Reading

Surprisingly I read quite a bit this month considering I also spent my free time writing. It feels nice to have a healthier balance, where usually one side of these two things suffers when the other is flourishing. Anyway, at the beginning of the month I made a list of at least 10 books I wanted to read before the years end and if those 10 books were the only books I read then I’d be okay with that, since I am more apt to write in the fall and holiday season always translates to less free time to do these things. But, I’ve already read 4 of those 10 books this month so I’m feeling even more confident I can beat my own personal goal and maybe even sneak in a few other books just for fun like I did this month. In September, I read 6 books as shown below (clicking the titles will take you to my reviews on each book):

September Reads

Time Untime (Dark-Hunter, Book 17) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Guardian (Dream-Hunter, Book 5) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 1) by Robert Liparulo
Foxfire (Other, Book 3) by Karen Kincy
Hidden (Firelight, Book 3) by Sophie Jordan
Watcher in the Woods (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 2) by Robert Liparulo

Photography

     All of my planned photo shoots this month fell through. My sister got a new job and her schedule was so busy there just wasn’t time for them. But Gideon got his first haircut this month and sadly no longer looks like a baby, but a little boy instead. It had to happen, his hair was getting so long, but it’s a little sad to say goodbye to baby Gideon and hello to little kid Gideon. 
     

gideon 1

gideon 2

Music

As usual, music was mighty good to me in September.

Envy on the Coast – “Head First in the River”

The drummer of Artifex Pereo turned me onto this band this month and I totally fell in-love. To the point that picking a favorite is impossible, but there were a few that got more plays than others, this being one of them. 

Good Charlotte – “In this World (Murder)”

I’m no stranger to Good Charlotte. They grew up near me and I was very active in watching them climb to fame, but I lost track of them for a lot of years between then and now. Heather got me interested in them again and I’m so glad I’ve caught up because I missed so much great music. I’m sure this particular song will continue to get a lot of plays it will be perfect to write Crack the Sky to! 

Sleigh Bells – “Demons”

I’ve already posted a Sleigh Bells song before, so this isn’t new to me this month, but it got a ton of plays because it’s the song I’m writing my Halloween short story to. While the story doesn’t have anything to do with demons, the song definitely has the sound my characters would listen to. Imagine a bad ass walk sequence to this. :)

The Birthday Massacre – “Looking Glass”

I’m still a little baffled that my dad can take credit for me getting into this band this month. I would never imagine my dad giving this band a shot, but his new obsession with listening to Pandora on his iPhone has turned him onto all sorts of bands I’d never expect. Anyway, I like to describe this band as a merging of Evanescence and Depeche Mode, and really, that sounds pretty awesome already, don’t you think?

So, friends, how was your September? What great achievements did you have? What do you hope to achieve in October? Sound off in the comments! :)

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A Pill for Bravery (A Short Story)

After slurping up the remaining milk from her cereal bowl before school one morning, curiosity got the best of Heidi’s tongue. “Maw Maw, what are those?” she asked her grandmother.

Maw Maw held the blue plastic case in her wrinkled hands for a long moment before opening the door labeled “T” for Tuesday, as she’d already explained to Heidi the previous day. “These are my pills,” she said, and she took five tablets from the Tuesday slot and swallowed them with a swig of water.

Before she could tuck the case away Heidi asked, “What for?”

Again Maw Maw waited a minute before replying, carefully deciding how to explain medicine to a five year old child. Finally she said, “I take them because each of them makes me a better person.”

Eyes wide with intrigue, Heidi wondered, “How so?”

“Well,” Maw Maw said, removing the pills from the Wednesday slot to use as an example. She pushed a red one forward, away from the bunch, and said, “Take this one for instance. This one gives me hope.”

With Heidi completely captivated Maw Maw continued, pushing a blue one up beside the red one, “And this one makes me strong.” She did this with each of the pills, pills that gave her patience and kept her focused, and then she came to the last pill, a purple one larger and longer than the other round tablets.

Maw Maw took a deep breath before pushing it forward with the others. Heidi sat on the edge of her seat longing to know the last pill’s purpose. At last, Maw Maw said, “And this pill’s for bravery.”

Heidi eyed the pill with a sudden hungry desire for it. She thought about the day before when Tommy had knocked her down on the playground, how all the boys laughed at her when she cried. She wished she’d had a pill for bravery herself.

Her little hand reached across the table for it, but Maw Maw caught her mid-stretch. “Oh, no, Heidi, these pills are only for grownups.”

“But, Maw Maw, I need that pill,” Heidi begged.

The two of them held each other’s eyes for a full minute, Heidi’s pleading, Maw Maw’s calculating. Finally, Maw Maw released her hand, but swooped up her pills before Heidi could reach for them again.

Heidi’s bottom lip jutted out and she crossed her arms over her chest to pout. And her grandmother scolded her for it. “That’s no way for a young lady to act just because she didn’t get her way.”

Heidi sat up straighter and sucked up her disappointment. “I’m sorry, Maw Maw, it’s just that the boys at school are really mean to me sometimes and I’m too scared to stand up to them. I could really use that pill for bravery,” she said.

Maw Maw tapped her pointer finger on her lips a few times in thought and got up from the table as an idea took hold in her mind. She rummaged around in the cupboard and returned to the table with an empty pill case and five baggies full of colorful tablets that were really just confectioneries in a sugar shell that Maw Maw made candies with on special occasions. Heidi was none the wiser. She watched, bubbling in anticipation.

“Now, Heidi,” Maw Maw started, “This must be a secret between you and me, okay?”

A squeal of excitement escaped Heidi’s lips and she nodded her head. Maw Maw laid out all the separate baggies and pulled seven candies from each, one for every day of the week, and filled the plastic case with them. Heidi was nearly bouncing in her seat, eager to have pills of her own, pills that gave her all the great qualities her Maw Maw’s did.

“Here’s a set of your own,” Maw Maw said as she pushed the case across the table. “Be sure to only take them once a day, Heidi, and only the ones allotted for that day. If I catch you taking more, I won’t refill it for you at the start of each week,” she added sternly.

Heidi marveled at the slender pink case in her hands. She swept her finger across the labeled doors and spoke the days of the week aloud as her finger passed them. Slowly, she opened the Tuesday door like she’d watched her Maw Maw do and poured the pills into the palm of her hand.

Suddenly panicked, she looked up at her Maw Maw for instruction. “Do I have to swallow them? I don’t know if I can swallow them.”

Maw Maw chuckled. “No, love, yours are chewable.”

Heidi worried they’d taste bad, but her yearning for bravery was too great, so she popped them all into her mouth at the same time just in case. To her surprise, a clash of sweet and sour tickled her tongue and she smiled with delight over how easy it had been. Surely there should be a higher price to pay for bravery alone.

Maw Maw reached across the table for Heidi’s pill case and told her she’d keep it safe with hers in the cabinet. There was no argument from Heidi. She swore she could already feel the effects of them working in her body. Was she already stronger? She flexed her muscles. They seemed bigger. Heidi couldn’t remember the last time she felt so revved up to go to school.

“All right, child, we better be on our way or you’ll be late for school,” Maw Maw announced.

Heidi was out the door and waiting by the car before Maw Maw could even grab her keys. She smiled to herself over the innocent gift she’d given her granddaughter. Part of her wished the story she’d told about her own pills was actually true.

***

Heidi came home from school one day to find her parents pacing in Maw Maw’s kitchen, her mother desperately trying to hold back the tears fighting to escape her eyes. “What’s wrong?” she asked, confused by their behavior.

Heidi’s father sat her down at the kitchen table. “Sweetheart,” he started, but found himself struggling for the right words that wouldn’t send an eight year old child into hysterics. “Honey,” he tried again, “Maw Maw is very, very sick.” He put a lot of emphasis on the word ‘very’ but Heidi was already up out of her seat, charging up the stairs to her grandmother’s room to see for herself, before he could explain further.

“Maw Maw?” she asked, her voice betraying the disbelief of what her father had just told her as she peeked into her room. She crept towards her grandmother unsure, taking in her colorless skin and sagging face. All of the tubes and machines connected to her. Heidi couldn’t wrap her brain around it. Her Maw Maw was supposed to be strong. That’s what the pills were for. What happened?

“Don’t be scared, Heidi,” Maw Maw said in almost a whisper. She beckoned Heidi closer with her outstretched hand until Heidi took it in hers. The warmth her Maw Maw’s hands had always held now gave her a shiver.

“Daddy says you’re really sick. That can’t be, right? He’s mistaken, isn’t he?” Heidi asked, willing herself to be as sure as her words.

Maw Maw’s entire face frowned. “I’m afraid not, love. I am very ill.”

Heidi shook her head, refusing to believe it. “But you’ll be okay, right? Everyone gets sick sometimes.”

Sadly, Maw Maw replied, “It’s not that kind of sickness, Heidi. You don’t get better from this kind of sickness.”

“But our pills, all our pills…” Heidi just didn’t understand.

“Sweetie, those pills are the only reason I lasted this long. It’s my time. We’re not invincible, after all,” Maw Maw explained with a strained smile etched on her face.

Tears threatened to leak from Heidi’s eyes, her lip shook struggling to keep them from falling. Maw Maw reached out for her, her frail body exerting far more energy than it had, to pull Heidi up into the bed with her. Heidi refused to cry, but she wrapped herself around her grandmother like a koala bear with all her might, like maybe if she held on tight enough she wouldn’t lose her.

Maw Maw ran her fingers through Heidi’s hair long into the night, until Heidi had fallen asleep and Maw Maw’s hand grew tired. Her parents offered to move her to her own bed, but Maw Maw insisted she stay. Heidi’s parents finally fell asleep against each other at the foot of Maw Maw’s bed, mourning over their daughter’s reaction and fraught with pain over what they knew was to come.

When morning arrived, warm sunlight kissed Heidi’s face. She was the first to wake. She had dreamt of better times, when Maw Maw was younger and more agile and they would play together in the backyard on hot summer days. A smile crept into her cheeks as her eyes came open and before she thought better of it, she happily began recounting the dream. But there was no reply from Maw Maw and now that Heidi paid attention, no movement beneath her cheek where she lay on Maw Maw’s chest either.

She pushed herself upright, hovering over her grandmother’s face. “Maw Maw?” she whispered, scared of what she already knew to be true. Maw Maw’s hand lay over her heart and her lips turned upward in a permanent smile. She looked peaceful even in death.

Tears finally broke free from Heidi’s eyes as she stared down at her grandmother. She wondered if Maw Maw would be mad if she took two pills for bravery that day, even though it was against their rules, because Heidi was sure she’d need them. A chorus of sobs took over the room as her parents came awake.

In the days that followed, everyone was so busy planning viewings and the funeral that it almost made them numb. But when it was time to bury Maw Maw for good, Heidi’s mom fell apart. Heidi couldn’t imagine how much worse it’d feel to lose your mother if it hurt this much to lose your grandmother.

The day after the funeral, Heidi found her mother at the kitchen table, a steady stream of tears racing down her cheeks. She went about her normal breakfast routine, pouring herself a bowl of cereal and retrieving her pills from the cupboard her Maw Maw stored them in. But instead of taking the pills herself, she rounded the table to her mother’s side and said, “Here.”

Her mother sniffled, trying to reign in her tears. “What’s this?” she asked, skeptically eyeing the medicine case in her daughter’s hand.

Heidi popped open one of the doors and dumped the pills onto the table. She pushed each pill towards her mother, explaining their purpose, and finally she pushed the large purple pill towards her proclaiming, “And this one’s the most important. This one’s a pill for bravery and I think you need it a little more than me now.”

“Where did you get these?” Heidi’s mom’s voice cracked.

Heidi wandered back to the cupboard and emerged with baggies of what her mother knew to be the candies Maw Maw used to make sweet treats. They were candy and not medicine after all, but clearly Heidi had no idea. As she dropped them on the table, she said, “Maw Maw gave them to me. It was supposed to be our secret, but it could be ours now. And, Mom, you can only have one a day of each – Maw Maw’s rules.”

Her mother picked up a baggie and eyed it thoughtfully, remembering all the times she’d baked with these very things beside her mother. She’d miss those moments terribly, but maybe it’d be something her and Heidi could do together once Heidi was ready to grow out of the pill idea.

The first smile in days reached into Heidi’s mother’s cheeks as she scooped today’s pills up off the table and dropped them on her tongue. She cringed over the sweet and sour explosion erupting inside her mouth and she was crying again, but they were happy tears.

She pulled Heidi into an embrace and whispered, “Thank you, Heidi. I already feel braver.”

– Squirrel Territory –

This short story is based on the squirrels outside of my house and they aren’t just your average squirrels. While I don’t truly know what goes on inside of their little minds I like to imagine it. (I’m a huge fan of people talking for animals.) The actions depicted in this story are all true. I wanted to include pictures of them both for the story, but the pictures I have of Chipper are older and I haven’t seen Baby in a few days. Hopefully I’ll have some for the continuation.

Initially I intended on this being funnier, but I realized that it’s really only funny from my point of view. For them, life’s not exactly easy in reality so it’s doubtful what I find funny about their interactions with other squirrels is even close to funny to them.

———–

“Baby, get out of the road!” Chipper shouted. “Don’t you know those cars will kill you?”

Baby scurried towards Chipper, unaware of what cars were or what it meant to be killed. He asked, “What’s that mean?”

Chipper replied, “It means your life ends. Humans ride around in them and if one runs over you, that’s it for you, you’re dead.” Chipper watched Baby’s head move back and forth rapidly following each car that passed. “Just stay out of the road, okay?”

“Okay.” Chipper could tell Baby didn’t truly understand the levity of cars and the damage they caused. He hoped over time he’d get it and wouldn’t get himself killed in the meantime.

Baby didn’t have parents and typically when another squirrel entered Chipper’s territory a fight ensued, but he felt too bad for the lone squirrel and decided to allow him to be his apprentice. Baby was difficult to teach though, too innocent and naive still to grasp the dangers of their world.

“Now Baby,” he said, “The human that lives here will be home soon so we need to get ready. I want you to do exactly as I do.”

Baby mimicked Chippers stance beside him and waited. His foot tapped anxiously. Chipper said, “Relax Baby, you’re so hyper.”

Baby frowned to himself. He didn’t want to let Chipper down. He was grateful that Chipper was willing to take him under his wing, but he was just a kid. He had all of this energy and didn’t know how to tame it.

Across the street two pudgy, obviously well fed squirrels peered at them. Chipper knew their kind. They were “tough guys,” the kind of squirrels that lurked around corners when they knew food was coming and bullied other squirrels for that food, almost always winning because of their size advantage. Chipper worried that now that he’d taken on being a mentor, it’d be more difficult to protect his yard and Baby at the same time, but he himself wasn’t scared of “tough guys.” He peered back at them, as a warning. His eyes bled, “Not Welcome.”

The “tough guys” weren’t fazed and Chipper could tell that today he’d have to defend their meal, possibly even duke it out with one of those fat suckers. He hoped not both though. Just then, a car pulled into the spot in front of them. The owner of the yard Chipper claimed as his territory. Chipper wanted to keep the “tough guys” in sight, but now the car blocked his view.

“Straighten up,” he told Baby. And the two of them sat up on their backsides in the walkway that lead to the houses door.

The human smiled at them both as she passed them and said, “I’ll be back out in a minute with some food guys,” and she entered the house. Baby followed after her and waited on the patio. Chipper didn’t move. He eyed his surroundings knowing that at any moment those “tough guys” would appear out of no where to take their dinner.

When he heard the door open back up behind him he glanced around again once more before retreating towards it. The human crouched down on the ground with her hand extended towards Baby holding a peanut. Baby backed away from her though, scared of her enormous height even in her squatted position.

Chipper said, “Go ahead Baby, take it from her hand. I do it all the time. This one’s nice, I promise. But hurry before anyone else shows up.”

Baby timidly reached out his little paws to grab the peanut and then backed away again to eat it as quickly as he could. The human reached out towards Chipper with the second peanut. She made a ticking sound with her mouth to grab his attention. Chipper took the peanut and also ate it quickly; keeping his back to her and his eyes on every angle they could be bombarded from.

The human sat down in one of the chairs on the patio and waited for them to finish their first peanuts. The humans in this house always give them at least five each which is far more than they truly need, but Chipper likes to save them up in case food becomes scarce. It’s hard to carry five peanuts though, so he often times eats them all right away. Today he intended on doing just that because he didn’t trust the lurkers. Something told him as soon as the human left they’d suddenly show up.

Baby took a lot longer to get into the peanut shell than Chipper, but he ate the peanut itself just as quickly as him. Baby was starving before he met Chipper and eats everything with haste as if it will be his last meal. Feeling braver around the human now, Baby hopped up on the chair beside her for his second peanut. Chipper, of course, was still on guard.

After they’d each finished two peanuts the human scattered a handful of peanuts in the grass near the tree Chipper and Baby lived in and went back inside the house. Chipper wished she wouldn’t do that. It just put their food closer to the “tough guys.”

By the time Chipper and Baby reached the tree the “tough guys” were moving in on them. Chipper ordered, “Baby, get up high. Take as many nuts with you as you can.” But Baby’s so small, carrying more than two at a time was impossible and Chipper knew that they’d likely lose the rest if he had to fight off both of the intruders.

Baby, suddenly scared because of the change of tone in Chipper, tried to gather three peanuts and dart up the tree. He dropped one on the way up which fell, briefly startling Chipper.

Chipper moved towards the “tough guys” defensively, his stance strong and serious. He nearly growled, “There’s nothing here for you! Get Lost!”

The fatter of the two “tough guys” laughed and said to the other fat squirrel, “Awe look, Chipper thinks he’s tough.”

Chipper wondered how he knew his name, considering prior to the humans at this house he never had one. They had named him and Baby. He figured, the fatties had been watching them for some time now and must have overheard the humans.

Baby shook in fear, wishing he was big enough to help Chipper. His panic knocked another peanut to the ground. Now they only had one to share if they lost the rest to their uninvited guests.

Chipper stood his ground, his tail fanning out like a peacock to give him a larger appearance. His attempts at intimidating the “tough guys” were useless. They continued onward forcing him to finally make a move.

It all happened fast, so fast that Baby’s head spun. Chipper lunged at the least fat squirrel first, thinking it wiser to take out the faster of the two fatties. But, to Chipper’s surprise, the other squirrel didn’t make his way for the nuts. Instead he ganged up on Chipper with his fat friend.

The three of them scuffled about, rolling around in a quarrel. They circled the base of the tree, stumbling over the peanuts, in an all out brawl. Baby cringed from the treetop every time Chipper squealed, worrying that he’d once again be alone if they took Chipper down for good. Somehow, suddenly, he understood death.

And then the door opened and a male human stepped out onto the patio. The three of them froze momentarily, like statues in fighting poses. Chipper saw this as his big break and before the other two were willing to move in front of the human he once again launched himself at one of them, biting his teeth into him so hard the squirrel actually retreated to the edge of the street to recover.

But the largest of the two squirrels remained, now enraged that Chipper had beaten them down to one. The large squirrel thrust himself into Chipper’s back, throwing him against the trunk of the tree. Chipper tried to shake the blur out of his eyes, but the fat squirrel was on top of him now, pulling him away from the tree with his claws digging into him.

Finally the human called out at the two of them, “Hey!” And he pitched a peanut at the fat squirrel pegging it in the butt. It startled and stung the fat squirrel so much that he leapt into the air, all four paws off the ground. Before he’d even fully landed he was in motion towards his friend. First retreating to the edge of the street, and then finally both of them crossing it back to the side they’d come from.

The human walked towards Chipper to make sure their meal had not been stolen and watched while Baby and Chipper took turns racing their peanuts up the tree. On the last trips worth of peanuts Chipper lingered on the ground with his mouth and paws full facing the human, wishing he was capable of saying thank you. Knowing that had he not arrived, him and Baby would have gone without food for the night, and knowing that he was lucky to maintain territory in such awesome humans’ yard. But since there was no way to show his gratitude he made his way up the tree and the human turned back towards the house.

Baby said, “I thought they would win. I was so scared, but I guess you were right about those humans. They are nice.” Chipper just nodded in agreement.

He glared at his enemies, who waited across the street. They might be brave enough to enter his yard, but there was no way they’d attempt climbing his tree. For the night they were safe, but he knew that they’d be back tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that until they finally got what they wanted – Chipper and Baby’s gold mine of peanuts. And they were sure to tell other squirrels about this land and Chipper’s humans too. He knew that eventually there would be even more to ward off and he just hoped Baby would be capable of helping by then or that at least his humans would come to the rescue again.

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