Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Story-Time Tuesday - Writing Fiction

Jenny Matlock
If you missed where this story started just click here to read it or simply click on the Story-Time Tuesday link at the top of my blog to take you to previous chapters.

Writing Fiction - Chapter 12

Here's where Chapter 11 left you...

I’d gathered him into a fluffy towel and dried him. I thought about cleaning his ears, but I wasn’t sure if dogs liked Q-tips. Then I tried brushing him with an old hair brush, but his fur was kind of wiry so that didn’t work very well.

The bathroom was filled with steam and a wonderful vanilla cookie scent; I decided to take a quick shower too. Opening the door to let out some of the steam, I turned the shower water on, very hot, and proceeded to use the vanilla cookie shampoo all over. As the hot water poured over my drenched head, I realized I hadn’t thought of my husband for at least an hour.

I dried myself off, put on cookie scented lotion and realized I was alone in the bathroom. Completely. There hadn’t been any ghosts in the room telling me I wasn’t washing the little dog right and, since we’d never had a dog, there were no memories casting their sepia melancholy over the evening’s canine adventure. And there was no canine in the bathroom with me. When I walked into the bedroom, though, there he was, doing a wonderful impersonation of a capital letter “C”, curled up right on top of my husband’s pillow.


I fell asleep, dreaming of visiting a bakery filled with vanilla scented cookies, but, at some point during the night, I drifted back to my elementary school days. In sixth grade, there’d been a school-wide contest to memorize the works of famous poets. My mother, God rest her soul, thought it would be a good idea to force twelve-year-old me to memorize “The Raven”, by Edgar Allan Poe. I’d argued and argued with her because I was afraid of that poem, but my Mother, God rest her soul, had said, “Pearl, that imagination of yours is going to get you into trouble one day. Just learn the words and leave the scary stuff out of your head.” That hadn’t worked so well all those years ago and those spooky words had not entered my thoughts in a long, long time.

While dreaming, the words came back to me so clearly:

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,”

My dream continued with me in front of the same packed auditorium I‘d stood in front of the day of the contest. You could have heard a pin drop in the room. The principal’s face morphed into my ‘late’ husband’s and suddenly the stage was filled with ravens.

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."

The rapping and the tapping seemed to grow louder and louder in my dream…

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow…

I had frantically shaken myself awake and when I sat up in bed, anxious to escape the dark imaginings of Edgar Allan Poe, I realized that the room was indeed full of rapping and tapping, but not from a raven.

It was the little cookie-scented dog’s tail beating frantically against the wall right beside my head.

“Awwww,” I thought to myself, “He is kind of cute in a scruffy, mutt kind of way,” and I raised my hand and started scratching his ears. He sort of snuggled in closer to me and then I realized what I was doing. I was becoming attached. I pulled my hand away, and started writing a mental catalogue of reasons why this was not a good idea: Who was going to feed him? Who was going to clean up after him? Who was going to take him for walks?

Rap, tap, tap. His tail continued to beat against the wall in a slightly cute, but irritating sort of way.

“No, Pearl. You do not want a dog. No!”

Tap, tap, rap.

I repeated to myself, “Pearl. Stop it. You cannot have a dog. You are too busy with…” …and there I had to stop myself. Busy with what? Busy avoiding people? Busy thinking of ways to describe my husband’s … ummm… “redemption of his one-way ticket to the Great Beyond”? Busy trying to write a blog that hadn’t gotten off the ground at all yet? Busy making permanent butt indentations in the couch cushions?

Rap, tap, tap.

I put my hand back on his wiry, little head and scratched behind his ears … and then the phone rang.

He jumped. I jumped. I answered it to hear my daughter’s voice.

“Mom? Hey, were you sleeping? You aren’t still in bed, are you? Are you sick? How is…”

Before the interrogation got totally out of control, I interrupted her to say, “Of course, I wasn’t still in bed.”

May I just tell you something here? I always say that, even if it’s 5:00 am when the call comes in. The caller asks me, “I didn’t wake you, did I? You aren’t still in bed are you?” and I say, “Of course not,” like there’s shame in actually being asleep at 5:00 am. My little off on a tangent musing had been interrupted by the tiny, tinny sound of my daughter’s voice coming out of the phone.

“Mom? Are you there? Mom? Are you…”

I sighed and then answered, “Hi sweetie. Of course, I’m here. There was just something wrong with the phone…I guess you couldn’t hear me.”
It was at that exact moment that the little dog decided to bark. I quickly covered the receiver, but not quickly enough, it seemed.

“Mom? What was that noise? Are you okay?”

“Ummm… that was just me…I have a bit of a cough, but everything is perfectly fine here. In fact…”

The little mutt decided it was being ignored again and this time he issued a hail of barks that could not be disguised. “Mom, is that a dog? Do you have a dog there?”

“Yes,” I replied haughtily, “That was Edgar you heard barking.” Edgar? Edgar? Where had that name come from? I did not want a dog named Edgar reminding me of a creepy poem about ravens tapping and rapping.

“Edgar?” came the hesitant reply. “Where did you get an Edgar? I didn’t even know you liked dogs. Why did you get a dog and who’s going to feed him? Who’s going to clean up after him? Who’s going to take him for walks?”

Even though my daughter could not see my actions, I raised my hand imperiously and replied, “Jessie. I’m a grown woman, perfectly capable of getting and taking care of a dog. AND, I certainly do not need your permission to rescue a mangy, scroungy, dirty, ugly, smelly little …” Oops. I’d stopped myself, but it was too late.

“You rescued a dog? From where? How do you know it’s not sick? Or that it doesn’t have fleas? Or that it’s not vicious? Mother! Don’t bring it into the house. Put it in the garage and call a dog catcher to come get it. DO NOT feed it!”

“Are you finished?” I calmly interrupted, “First of all, it was your fault I rescued Edgar in the first place and second of all…” “My fault,” she sputtered, “How could you possibly blame this on me? I wasn’t even there.”

“If you’ll let me continue,” I calmly said. “It’s your fault because both you and your father nagged me over and over again to ‘do the right thing’. When I found Edgar and saw he needed help, that’s what I did…the right thing.

“Mom,” she interrupted again, “I don’t see how you can possibly blame Dad or me for you doing something crazy like this. You hate dogs!” She paused.

I fumed. What did she mean, ‘crazy like this?” Was this crazy? Was rescuing an adorable, sweet, darling little cookie-scented dog a crazy thing? And I certainly didn’t hate dogs. Hate is such a strong word, don’t you think?

She paused longer…and then, obviously having chosen her words very carefully she continued, “Mom, do you know what kind of a dog it is? Is it micro-chipped? Do you want me to drive up there and…”

“Jessie, I’m a grown woman. I think I can figure out how to take care of a dog. I don’t know what kind of dog it is, but it’s obviously a mutt. Right now, Edgar needs to go outside, we both need some breakfast and then I need to call a vet. I’ll call you later. Oh, and Jessie? You can read all about this on my blog. It’s almost ready to go. I hope I have enough time to get things finished up today. Bye, sweetie. Love you!” And I hung up.

Micro-chipped? Crazy?

“C’mon Edgar, let’s take care of some business!” I told him.

And we did.

It was kind of fun actually having a companion to walk out and get the newspaper with me. As he did his doggie business, I looked away and gave him privacy. I talked to him while I made coffee. He slurped down his milk and bread while I ate my toast in a much neater, quieter way. I looked up the number for a vet and made an appointment for later in the morning.

I washed my face and brushed my teeth while Edgar had watched. I tried making the bed while he tried jumping in it. He tugged on the pillows and made growling noises.

I found myself laughing more than I had in a long time.

And I didn’t think it was even a bit crazy to be talking to a dog. He was such a good listener and never once told me I should be over my grief and moving on with my life.

In fact, I think I began falling in love with Edgar just a tiny bit in only a few hours.

To be continued, Tuesday, November 30th.

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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Jeanie said...

Since our dog is a scruffy mutt rescued from the pound I am loving this more and more all the time. I think Edgar will be the best thing ever for Pearl, whether she knows it yet or not.

Viki said...

Loved it, Jenny. Such a nice chapter to read before Thanksgiving. I'm wondering though if she's ever going to get to the blog LOL.

Willoughby said...

I was sure she was going to name him "Cookie"! I really do like Edgar, though.

Another great chapter, Jenny! I can't wait for the next one!

Ames said...

I hope Edgar snuggles his way into Pearl's heart. I have a feeling he has a personality and is just what Pearl needs!~Ames

Susan Anderson said...

I'm falling a little bit in love with Edgar, myself.


Pat Tillett said...

That was really nice! Edgar! What a great name. I wasn't expecting it...

Amy said...

Yay! She is keeping the dog! Yay! She has distraction and joy in her life! Yay! She is spiting her daughter! I love it! And now I want to go out and get a dog just like Edgar!

Jocelyn said...

I agree...Yippee...she is keeping the dog and I love the name....Edgar is just perfect!!!

Can't wait for next week!!!

Smiles!!! :-)

Judie said...

Hurrah for Edgar! If Mulligan can have a second chance, so can Edgar! Pearl, you get that honey micro-chipped right away. Then go buy some Beneful so Edgar will be as cute as that dog on t.v.!!

H said...

Sounds to me like she should remind her well meaning but bossy daughter, who it was who changed her nappies!

I think I'm falling in love with Edgar too :)

The Words Crafter said...

happy happy joy joy happy happy joy joy (butt bounce) happy happy joy joy..... :-D

Mrs. M said...

I had to memorize The Raven when I was in the 9th grade.....this brought back memories. :) Edgar...good name.

Tina said...

This is just so wonderful. I love hearing what's in Pearl's head. And if she doesn't take that dog, I will :-)

Lourie said...

So so so very good. Now for...the next one...and so on until I am all caught up!

Anonymous said...

Just fabulous! Edgar and Pearl are going to do great things together. I knew she was not going to be able to turn her back on that sweet doggie.