I'm hoping for some slightly cooler weather soon. It has been getting into the upper 80s all week and I wish it would at least stay in the lower 80s. I'd like the 70s all day, but I may have to wait a little while.
If you haven't requested you copy of The Unexpected Request, be sure you do so. I gave the okay after looking at my proof copy and now my order of books is on its way. And, wow! The book looks so neat. It is hard to realize that I actually wrote that story. How did I do it? I'm not sure myself.
I worked on writing last night and got some written. I still have all kinds of short stories and longer stories as well as other things just waiting in my brain to come out. Sometimes, however, I think there are so many that I can't write because they are crowding each other.:} Such is the life of an author, I suppose.
Today I'll be doing a little cleaning and then working out in the yard for a while. We have a fence that is about to fall down into the ally. The posts are really old and all the honeysuckle that is on the fence is pulling it down and holding it up at the same time.:} We are going to cut the honeysuckle off so that the fence can have new posts to hold it up tomorrow. Then we can let the honeysuckle grow back. The birds love it. For the last several springs we've had nests in it.:) And they love hiding in there in the winter when a hawk comes to the "bird restaurant." :}
This story was written as a Scribbler assignment last year or so. We all wrote a story about the Jones family and started with the same first 100 words or so. (I forgot how many it was exactly.) It was such fun to read the different versions. I really enjoyed writing mine. I hope you enjoy reading it now.
I paused as I came up the sandy beach. To my right the restless ocean extended out as far as my eyes could see in the gathering gloom of the approaching storm clouds. The water was grey with plenty of white caps topping each wave as it washed up the shore. Suddenly the wind began to blow. It was a cold nor’easter, and I turned up the collar of my jacket and bent my head. I only had a few moments to walk before I reached our family cabin, but I began to wonder if I would make it before the storm hit. Quickening my pace, I bent my head into the wind. Try as hard as I could, however, the storm was on me before I reached the porch, and the fifteen seconds I was out left me drenched from head to toe.
I stepped inside trying to find a dry spot of clothing to wipe my streaming face. Someone thrust a towel into my hands and gratefully I used it. When I could see again, I saw the entire family gathered around me staring. Four-year-old Robert was the first to speak.
“You got wet.”
I know it wasn’t the most astute observation, but I managed to laugh though I shivered too.
Mom noticed and sent me to get a hot shower and dry clothes on. I was happy to obey. Alex followed me just to make sure I was all right. I told him I’d be fine when I was dry and warm. Alex is almost nineteen and is doing his pre-med studies. I’m next and just turned fifteen. Dad calls me the family historian. Maybe I’ll write a book someday. Next are the twins, Jainie and Jessie. They are twelve and identical. No one can tell them apart, and I mean no one. When they were little Mom used to keep one of those friendship bracelets on them just in case they got mixed. Robert is the youngest, and he came as a surprise. Except for Mom and Dad, that is the entire Jones family in a nutshell.
When I returned to the living room, which also serves as dining room, feeling much better, the rain was still coming down and the wind still blew. Mom and the twins were setting the table with frequent stops to look out the windows at the storm or listen to the pounding of the waves. Dad and Alex were sitting before the fire reading; one had the paper and the other a medical book. Robert was playing with the cat. Everything was so cozy and pleasant that I couldn’t help smiling. Stepping over to one of the west windows, I peered through the fogged glass and could just catch glimpses of lights in the two occupied cabins. My parents have five cabins they rent almost like a hotel. Not many people come this time of year, however.
“Nate,” Mom’s voice broke into my thoughts. “Could you carry the pot of soup out for me? Your dad and brother would have a fit if I tried.”
I hurried to the kitchen. Mom had strained her back a few days before, and we were all careful not to let her do too much.
Before long we were all sitting around the table enjoying hot soup and fresh rolls while the fire in the fireplace crackled and snapped, hissing occasionally when a drop or two of rain found its way down the chimney. Outside the storm could rage all it wanted, none of us cared. Robert and the twins kept us merry with their talk. When we couldn’t eat anymore, Dad got out the Bible and we had our evening devotions.
Hardly had we finished when a sudden sharp crack of thunder seemed to shake the entire house! The lights flickered, blinked and then went out, leaving us to the glow of the fire.
“Wow,” Alex managed to say. “That was something.”
“Turn the lights back on,” Robert demanded.
“The power is knocked out, Son.” Dad had gotten up and looked out the windows. “It looks like everything is out. Alex, Nate, let’s go get the generator going and check on the guests.”
The girls begged to go too, but Dad wouldn’t let them. It was too stormy.
Within moments, Dad, Alex and I, all clad in waterproof pants, jackets and boots, set forth with flashlights to take stock of the damages. I was sent to the cabins.
The first cabin held an older couple who might be in their sixties. They said they had eaten, but weren’t sure they wanted to stay there in the dark by themselves. I couldn’t blame them. They didn’t even have a fireplace. I told them I’d be back and struggled against the wind to the next cabin.
A middle-aged man was standing in the doorway when I approached.
The first thing he said was “When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather. This is quite a night to be out, lad.”
I leaned against the post of the awning endeavoring to catch my breath. “Storm’s knocked the power out. Head up to the house.” I had to nearly shout to make myself heard.
The man replied something, disappeared inside and then reappeared with a something which he carried under his rain coat. I was thankful there were only two cabins occupied.
The older couple were ready to go when we returned, but the rain and wind were so strong they had waited in the cabin. My flashlight didn’t seem to be more than a pin prick of light in the ocean of darkness. “Come on!”
The lady clutched at my arm with one hand while clinging tightly to the scarf about her head with the other. Her husband followed with the scholar.
I could just make out the light of lanterns in the windows. Things were blowing about in the gale, and I tried to shield the lady beside me.
At last we reached the house and stepped inside. Warmth and light greeted us, for Dad and Alex had just started the generator. Mom and the twins helped us all out of our drenched jackets and established our guests in comfortable chairs before the fire.
Finding my shirt soaked once again (I had forgotten the tear in my raincoat), I stepped back to my room. Alex joined me a moment later.
“What happened to you?” he asked.
I looked questioningly at him.
He pointed to the side of my head.
I glanced in the mirror and saw blood. “Who knows.” I shrugged it off, but Alex had to examine it, wash and bandage it. It wasn’t much though. Didn’t even hurt. Alex seemed to enjoy it so I didn’t put up a fuss.
Back in the living room Mom had turned all the lights off again. The generator will run the entire house, but we like to conserve gas since we don’t know how long we’ll be without power. It was quite cozy in the room with the fire blazing brightly, lit candles here and there and every chair and couch full of people.
Mrs. Turner had somehow managed to bring her knitting and seemed quite content near the fire. Her husband discussed fishing with Dad in a nearby corner. Working on their quilting, the twins occupied the couch while Robert built castles with blocks. Mom was in her chair doing nothing. She smiled when she saw us and motioned us to seats near the other guest who held a large book of some sort which he looked up from to introduce himself as Howard Bartell. In conversation with him I discovered that he had graduated from Oxford and had degrees from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and several other places. It made my head spin to think of it all.
After several hours of talk, while the storm still raged outside, everyone began to grow sleepy. The Turners were given us boys’ room, and with Howard we would sleep on the floor in the living room.
The last thing I remember before drifting off to sleep with the storm in my ears was Howard.
“When tir’d with vain rotations of the day, sleep winds us up for the succeeding dawn.”
I think he’s read too much.
To be concluded next week.
Any thoughts about this first part?