When I started telling stories, I promised I’d never try to sell you folks anything or shove ads in your face unless I wrote a book.
Well, I wrote a book.
You can snag a copy over here.
It’s a story of a boy and a girl growing up in a small town. They go to school, they have merriment, and teenage hijinks. Typical life for two kids that care about each other.
Except that one of them is invisible. That tends to complicate things.
So yes, if you’d like to give my book a look at, please do. I’d appreciate it. And just for fun, here’s chapter five especially for you WordPress folks.
“I just feel tired of everything sensible and I’m going to let my imagination run riot for the summer.” -L. M. Montgomery
“Explain to me why I’m going off to work?”
Laura Evans kept looking at her stack of papers and called out her reply. “Because it can be rather difficult to manage a recreational store if no one opens the door and lets prospective customers poke their heads into the fancy tents or explains the features of the high-quality bicycles.”
“Don’t get me started on the bicycles,” Robert Evans said as he took his keys off the countertop. “Those ERT guys only want the most expensive, overly-fancy ones. Any old bike would do for the one or two times a year they use them. It’s maddening.”
“Just think,” Laura said, “you will get some nice gal coming into your store today who is looking for a solid pair of hiking boots. She will want to embrace nature, have her own quiet time, and get a break from her husband. And you will be able to help her.”
“I think you’re spoiled by having this house all to yourself.”
“Excuse me, I am not in charge here. I am at the beck and call of King Charles the First. I must devote myself to his noble reign. That is a highly-demanding occupation. Plus, I still have a few more lessons to get ready before the quarter starts up.”
“You and that cat,” Robert retorted.
“I have told you before,” Laura countered. “When you run a country terribly, make illegal demands of your people, and go down in history as a key factor in revolutionary history, then I shall name a cat after you. Then you can occupy a fancy pillow, berate your constituents, and get fatter and lazier with each passing day.”
King Charles the First sat in the front windowsill. He heard all of this, and like much of nobility, was not amused. Yes, he had put on a pound or two. But he felt that only added to his majestic presence. These humans could not be trusted to rule themselves. They needed someone above them to meow edicts at them. Granted, he could no longer hop on top of the refrigerator due to his immense stature. However, one could look at colorful human beings from a warm ledge and still convey an air of disdain.
“Anything I need to know about?” Robert took his coffee from the kitchen and put his hand on the door.
“Nothing today,” Laura replied. “Tomorrow is a Gerald-day. I thought we should be nice and boring today to prepare for it.”
“Works for me. Love you,” he said as he leaned down to kiss her on top of her head.
“Love you too,” Laura replied. She looked up from her stack of papers and admired her husband. Robert no longer went for long bike rides or hikes every day. He had cut back on his weekend excursions. Kids and the life of a manager had a way of taking up one’s time. However, he hadn’t changed too much. He was self-deprecating. He played with his son. The grey temples worked for him, even if he was rapidly losing the battle on top of his head. Laura still missed him when he was at the store.
After his car pulled out of the driveway, Laura went back to her stack of papers and her notes. She had plenty to do. Mornings had to be productive. The quiet had to be taken advantage of. No kid ever ran home at eight a.m. with a broken arm. That sort of problem didn’t pop up until at least ten a.m. She could ignore the phone, hold off on chores, and focus solely on finding new ways to make history interesting to her students. Laura constantly tried out material on her family to see what grabbed their attention. If she could get her young son to see how interesting the past was, then there was hope for her class as well.
What Laura really wanted at the moment was a good swim. Terrane had one pool. The mornings were reserved for senior citizens or kids’ classes. There was technically room for her to do laps on the far side of the pool. Yet, Laura was constantly worried that she would bump into a stray child who was trying not to drown, or that all the elderly women jumping up and down would make things too wavy for her tastes.
She tried swimming in Lake Bedrock. Then Walter Hart, in his infinite desire to hunt game, aimed his rifle and shot a duck that was flying overhead. It died instantly and plummeted down into the lake, narrowly missing Laura as she swam by. The loud noise, the sudden death, the surprise of the corpse that almost hit her; it had all been too much. Laura would never be able to swim in that body of water again. For years afterwards, Laura’s heartrate would go up at the sound of a duck call.
One trip to The Styx had cured her of any notion that she could swim there. The water in that area was overly suspect. Mystery blobs appeared to be working overtime to create disturbing new forms of life. Laura was not keen to give any extremophiles a new home in her physique.
Robert could still go for a bike ride whenever he wanted. There were plenty of trails and quiet roads about. The family would hike together now and then. For Laura, a decent swim was a thing of luxury. She missed the college life. The student activities center had been so quiet first thing in the morning. Only the most dedicated of students were up for five-a.m. laps. She had sacrificed sleeping in every morning for the sake of a serene swim. Laura had become friends with the gals on the swim team and those that partook in crew.
The thing that really drove Laura was her thirst for learning. When she saw things happen, she wanted to know the story behind it all. Her desire for knowledge never ceased, especially in history. The stories that had played out centuries ago were as fascinating to her as anything that happened in the present. She loved being surrounded by books and others that couldn’t stop learning. Laura appreciated Terrane. It was home. College, though; those had been some of the best years of her life.
She leaned back in her chair, ready for a break. Her hands fell to her stomach and she lightly patted the little pouch that had taken up residence there. Her physique in college had also been the best of her life. If only that kid knew what he did to my body, she thought yet again. It was one more reason she wanted to exercise more. The drive lessened each year. She saw her students in their revealing tops and their tight clothes. Laura was content to not be that age again.
For Laura, her family came first. Cole needed a mom. Robert needed a wife. Her teaching came second. All the memos, the grading, and the revising of lessons meant the world to her. She ate well. She had enough vim and vigor to get through the day. She could race after Cole, though the disparity in their speeds was growing. Laura did not consider herself middle-aged just yet. If the worst thing she could say about herself was that she had an extra ten pounds? So be it. The little padding could build an annex on her property. She’d deal with that after every other thing on her list was scratched off.
She poured a cup of water from the sink and caught her reflection. Laura liked her face. It looked friendly. The little wrinkles fit in well. She was constantly smiling and the edges of her mouth showed it. The corners of her eyes had their lines. They were outshone by her brilliant green eyes. Robert had told her that on their first meeting, he had been entranced by her eyes. The creases worked as arrows, pointing toward the main event. The face that looked back at her conveyed happiness. Her coworkers teased her that no one should be able to come across as chipper while describing the guillotine or Pearl Harbor. “Even on the direst parts of our history, you find ways to make it okay.”
Laura sipped the water and saw Cole running across the grass. He was heading towards the house at full speed. He is running, so he cannot be too badly hurt, she thought, brushing away a parent’s constant fear. He is not crying. Oh, he is smiling. Annnnnd he is holding something. Yikes. That boy needs a haircut. Okay. Time for some morning excitement. Laura took a drink of water, leaned against the kitchen counter, and prepared herself for the effects of Hurricane Cole.
“Mom!” Cole hollered as the front door burst open. “Mom!”
“Yep,” Laura said as she sipped again. “Right here.”
“Mom!” Cole ran into the kitchen and thrust his fist up to his mother’s nose. “Look!”
“I am looking,” she said. “I am looking at a boy who could stand to wash his hands more. You do understand that you do not have to bring home all the dirt you find, yes?”
“No, Mom,” Cole said as he danced about excitedly. “Look! It’s a hair! Bonnie’s hair!”
“Context, Cole,” Laura reminded him. “I need more context here.”
“Bonnie’s hair! It is invisible when she has it on her head. When it falls off you can see it. Her fingernails too!”
Ah. This again.
Bonnie knew that every child was different. She knew that each kid had their own specific set of quirks. In the past year, Cole had developed a new one. He spent all his time with his imaginary friend. Bonnie was Cole’s distraction from the more mundane parts of real life. Like true chums, they spent all day together. Laura had a stuffed polar bear as a girl that she talked to all the time. She thought Cole’s interactions with his “friend” were cute. Mostly.
There were days when she thought Cole was too committed to his imagination. She would watch as the chair at the dinner table moved as if Bonnie was sitting there. Laura knew that Cole was really dragging the chair with his leg so he could pretend Bonnie moved. And he would always take an extra sandwich with him when he went outside. She wished he would say he was hungry. She also wished he would stop taking twice the cookies he should. “But, Mom, the other ones are for Bonnie.” Sure they were.
He was dedicated, she had to give him that. The way he talked with his mouth closed and made his voice sound like a little girl’s was impressive. Cole probably got it from his father. Laura knew Robert had his hidden pockets of theatricality about him. She and her husband had talked about it. It was harmless. For now. He played with Danny on occasion and he was a nice enough boy. If Bonnie kept Cole from making more real friends, or if it went on, then Laura wanted to have Cole sit down with someone.
“We were talking about toenails.” Cole stopped hopping back and forth on his feet. He was firmly planted, ready to make his case. “How I don’t like cutting my toenails and it seems dumb. Even when you do it for me. And how I don’t have to keep my arms or ears from falling off, so why should fingernails and toenails be any different? Why can’t they just stop? Then she was talking about how she liked cutting her toenails. I thought that was super weird. But guess what, Mom?”
“Oh, do tell.” Laura held the cup close to her mouth. She pretended like she was going to take another drink. In truth, she was hiding the smile that was quickly overtaking her face. This boy…
“So, when Bonnie cuts her toenails, they become visible! Like her body keeps everything invisible when it is on her. But if she loses something? Like if she clips a toenail, it becomes a plaque!”
“Opaque. I think you mean that it is opaque.”
“Yeah, that too!”
“Which explains this single hair in your hand… how?”
“Mommmm. I wasn’t gonna grab Bonnie’s toenails. That’d be gross.”
“I am glad we agree on that,” Laura said, barely containing the snicker that threatened to respond to her son’s annoyance.
“So, I was, I mean, I asked her if her hair did what her toenails did. And she said it did! So, she pulled one. And she handed it to me. And it turned visible! And it’s still visible! See!”
“I do see.” Laura hoped that she would not get any related phone calls. “Hi, Laura? This is Jeanette from two blocks over. Listen, your son ran up to my little Angela and grabbed hold of her hair.” I hope he found it on a bench or something. “May I take a look at it?”
Cole uncurled his fingers and let his mother pick the hair out of his hand. It did not appear to be one of hers. It was far too long for that. Someone had let their hair grow out for a long time. A horse hair, maybe? That might explain it. It does not look like a horse hair. Not that I am an expert. It is probably some random hair. He found it and it made for a fun story. Okay. I can support that.
“So? Don’t you think that’s super neat?”
“It is a very nice hair. I am sure the rest of her hair looks very lovely on her head.”
“But Mom, I can’t see the hair on her head!”
“Oh, that is right.” Oops. “Well, how about this. I am going to keep this hair. We will put it in this drawer right here. That way you can look at it later. Does that work?”
“I guess. I thought it was cool.”
“Cool enough to make you want to actually eat breakfast?”
“No, we gotta go. Bonnie wants to go look for raccoons today. She thinks they might have platypus friends she could talk to.”
“Sounds like a full day. I will put this hair away.”
“Okay, bye Mom!”
Laura turned away from Cole and opened a narrow drawer. The junk drawer had one more occupant. It would mingle with its new bunkmates. It would get jostled about, curled up here and wrapped around there. Along with the scissors, the bread ties, and the screwdriver; it would serve the purpose of filling up space. That is what junk drawers are for.
Laura heard a, “Bye!” as the door finally shut. He is so committed. He used, “Bonnie’s,” voice. That kid. She made her way back to the table and her eyes went to the linoleum floor. Is that a footprint?
Laura tried to analyze the muddy shape. It could have been a shoeprint. It certainly looked like a footprint. What is he, running around in his bare feet, putting his shoes on to come home, and then getting dirt all over the floor when he arrives? We are raising quite the little weirdo.
Laura went to the counter. She tore yet another piece of paper towel off the roll that she had replaced only two days ago. Parenting used up many resources, cleaning supplies key among them. She wiped up the floor, shook her head, and went back to her piles of notes. An hour later, she had already forgotten the episode.