Flash Fiction Friday: Puppy Love

Puppy Love

by Kelly F. Barr

Janie rode her bike home from school, but stopped outside the pet shop display window. In the window was a litter of eight puppies – some were black and white, some brown with white spots. Janie put her hand on the window and a black and white puppy waddled over and pressed his nose against the window across from the same spot. Janie squatted down, put her face near the window, and said, “Hi there. You are so cute!”

She parked her bike where it wouldn’t block sidewalk traffic and raced into the pet shop.

“Well, Janie. What brings you into my shop this sunny afternoon?”

“Hi Mr. Walters. I was looking at the puppies in the front window. Could I hold one of them?”

Mr. Walters smiled at her. “One of them caught your attention, huh?”

Janie bobbed her head up and down. “A little black and white one. It came right up to my hand at the window.”

Mr. Walters walked to the front window, Janie on his heels. He opened a panel and let Janie look in and point out the puppy that had caught her eye. Then he reached in, brought the pup out, and handed him to Janie.

The little ball of fluff nestled into her neck and put it’s head up and licked her chin. Janie giggled. “See, Mr. Walters, he likes me!”

“Yes he does. But Janie, a dog needs to be well taken care of. He needs to be fed twice a day. He’ll need to be trained to go to the bathroom outside. You’ll need to take him outside quite frequently until he gets bigger. And he’ll need to be taken for walks. He’ll need annual checkups at the veterinarian’s clinic too. It’s a big job to take care of a puppy.”

“Oh, I don’t mind. I can do it because he’s so cute, and he’ll be my best friend.” Janie paused and wrinkled her brow.

“What is it Janie?”

“Well … first I have to buy him. How much is he?”

“He’s $200.”

Janie frowned. “That’s a lot of money.”

“Yes it is, but it’s not as much as a purebred puppy would cost.”

Janie looked up at Mr. Walters. “What kind of puppy is he?”

“He’s called a Borgi. He’s a mix between a Border Collie and a Welsh Corgi.”

“Mr. Walters, could you promise not to sell him until I can talk to my parents and, maybe, bring them to see him?”

Mr. Walters looked at the puppy, now asleep in Janie’s arms. He rubbed his chin with an index finger. “Well, usually, puppies are sold on a first come, first served basis.”

Janie’s lower lip quivered, and Mr. Walters said, “I suppose … well, you are the first one to ask about him. So, I guess I can wait until … Friday?”

A wide grin spread across Janie’s lips. “Two days? Do you mean it?”

Mr. Walters nodded. “Parents take their time to make such decisions, so, yes. But you have to give me an answer after school on Friday, okay?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Walters. Thanks!” Janie handed the puppy back to the pet shop owner, rushed out to her bike, and pedaled home.

She raced into the kitchen, letting the screen door slam behind her.

“Janie! Where’s the fire?” Her mom placed two chocolate chip cookies on a plate, then poured a glass of milk.

Janie dropped her backpack on a kitchen chair and plopped down in the chair beside it. Her mom placed the plate in front of her on the table.

“I don’t know anything about a fire, but guess what I saw at Mr. Walters’ pet shop?”

Her mother smiled. “I don’t know. What did you see?”

“Puppies! Mr. Walters has eight puppies in the front window. I stopped and put my hand on the window and one of the puppies came right up to my hand. I went in and talked to Mr. Walters. He let me hold the puppy. Do you think Dad will let me get him? Mr. Walters said he’ll hold the puppy for me until Friday.”

“Oh Janie, I don’t know. Taking care of a puppy is a big responsibility, and it costs money. Not just to buy the puppy but to feed it and buy some items you’ll need to care for it. Then there’s the annual veterinarian costs.”

“Mom, I really want this puppy. I promise I’ll take good care of him.”

“We’ll see what your father says. Now eat your cookies and drink your milk, then get that backpack up to your room.”

“Yes, Mom.”

That evening, when her father came home, Janie was setting the table for dinner. She put the stack of plates on the table and ran to greet him. She threw her arms around his waist and squeezed.

“Well, what a nice greeting.” Her dad squatted down to her level and gave her a proper hug. “It’s good to be home.”

“Did you have a good day?”

“It was okay. Why do you ask?”

“I just want to know if you’re in a good mood.”

“Uh-oh. Sounds like you’re up to something. What is it?”

“We-ll.” She told her dad about the puppy. “So, can I have him?”

“Janie…”

“I know. It’s a big responsibility. But I can do it. I promise.”

“I’ll talk to your mom about it after you’re in bed, and we’ll let you know tomorrow at dinner, okay?”

Janie nodded.

“You may have to do more chores around here too, if we decide to let you have the puppy.”

“Because it’s expensive?”

“Yes, because it’s expensive.” Her dad kissed her on the forehead.

* * * * *

The next day, Janie stopped to tell Mr. Walters she’d have an answer for him the next day.

When she got home from school, she went straight to her room to do her homework.

After a while, she heard her mother call, “Janie, please come down and set the table. Your dad will be home soon.”

Janie pounded down the stairs and hurried into the kitchen. She finished setting the table just as her father stepped through the door.

“Hi Daddy.”

“Hello pumpkin.” He bent down and kissed her cheek.

He was in a good mood. She hoped that meant she could have the puppy. She wanted to ask, but knew she needed to wait. Her parents would tell her when they were ready.

Janie pushed her food around on her plate. She couldn’t get food past the butterflies in her stomach. If her parents would just tell her, maybe she could eat her dinner.

“Janie, is something wrong with your food?”

“No mom.” Janie speared a piece of chicken and forked it into her mouth.

Her father grinned and looked at her mother. “I guess we shouldn’t hold her in suspense any longer.”

Her mother smiled and nodded.

“Janie, I’ll be leaving work early tomorrow, and your mother and I will pick you up from school. Then we’ll go to Mr. Walter’s pet shop.”

Janie’s fork clattered as it dropped onto her plate. “You mean…?”

“This puppy is going to be your responsibility, along with extra chores, which we’ll talk about later. As long as you are responsible and work hard, the puppy is yours.”

Janie got out of her chair and ran around the table to give her father a big hug. “Oh, thank you!” Then she moved to hug her mother. “Thank you!”

Janie returned to her seat and finished her dinner.

* * * * *

Friday, Janie struggled to keep her mind on her classes. She kept clock watching, wishing the hours would pass faster.

When the final bell rang, she forced herself to fast walk out of the building, but she really wanted to run. Once outside, she raced down the steps and out the walkway to her dad’s Ford F-150.

Her father drove to the pet shop, and the three of them walked in together.

Mr. Walters looked up and smiled. “Well, Janie. I’m guessing, by the smile on your face, you’re here to take home a certain little puppy.”

“I sure am, Mr. Walters.”

Mr. Walters retrieved the puppy from the front window and placed it in Janie’s arms. Then he helped them pick out the items she would need to begin life with a puppy.

“So, what are you going to name him, Janie?”

Janie looked at the puppy, then looked up at Mr. Walters. “His name is Jasper.”

Thursday writing prompt

Here is the first response to this month’s writing prompt which was posted earlier today. You can find the writing prompt post right below this post. I hope you all enjoy it, and I hope you will be encouraged to try your hand at writing something for this prompt as well.

Stine Writing

20180426_104646

This photo prompt comes from Kelly at https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/11546674/posts/2799580154

Strolling

Through the deep woods we go strolling

Sweetly talking of love and hope

Silent ‘cept the sound of our feet

Although air is humid, we cope.

Yellow lilies bloom in the brush

Waving so softly in the wind

Love blossoms here alongside us

Happily showing there’s no end.

©2020 CBialczak Poetry

View original post

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

20180426_104646

Today is the second Thursday of the month, and if you were here last month at this time, you know that it is time for a writing prompt. This time I have decided to use the photo above as the prompt for this month, in hopes that it will inspire more of you to write something and share with us.

Now here are the rules for participating in my monthly writing prompt:
1) You may write in any genre.
2) Keep it clean — no explicit sex or erotica, no stories that attack a person or group of
     people. Minimal use of profanity and violence is okay.
3) If you are a nonfiction writer and want to participate, I welcome you, but you must
     use the suggested prompt.
4) All stories must be a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 1500 words. (This rule
     may change as participation grows).
I reserve the right not to post any story that doesn’t include/use the writing prompt as well as any story that breaks the second rule.
Here are a couple options for sharing, which I strongly encourage for two reasons — I want to know that people are participating, and I want to read what you write, as I am sure others will as well.
So sharing options:
1) 100 — 300 words, please post these stories in the comments section of this post
2) 301 — 1500 words, please email to me at cre8tiveme07@gmail.com
The reason for the options is that short stories, like the first option, can easily be shared and read in the comments section. Longer stories like the second option, I will post in a special Saturday post simply due to their length.
One of my readers suggested that my deadline be longer to allow writers to ponder longer and not feel stressed by a tight deadline. It was a great suggestion, especially since we have another month before the next writing prompt and the long stories post on a Saturday. So, I hope more of you will participate, and I look forward to reading your creative works.
Deadline for stories for today’s prompt will be next Friday, July 17, 2020.

Timeless Tuesday: History Related to My Novel

The Pony Express route was nearly 2,000 miles long overland. There were about 190 stations along the route, mostly in Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. The route required about 10 days to cover. Never before in history had a letter been delivered over such a distance so quickly, though it was mainly newspapers and businesses that used the Pony Express delivery.

Each rider rode about 75 to 100 miles and changed horses every 10 to 15 miles.

The Pony Express rider, in my story, rides from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Seneca, Kansas, which was 70 miles west of St. Joseph.

Pumpkin Seed Creek Relay Station History Pony Express Cabin ...

The above photo is a photo of a relay station, and you can see at either end of the building, behind it is another building. That is the horse stable, which was usually only a few feet from the living quarters. A relay station only housed two men — a station keeper and a stock tender, otherwise known as a horse wrangler.

The stock tender, or horse wrangler, cared for six horses and had a horse ready, day or night, for the next rider. When the station attendant saw a big cloud of dust coming, he knew it was a Pony Express rider. The riders also adopted a shout, known as the “coyote call”, that they used to alert the station of their approach.

Relay stations were built every 10 to 15 miles apart, and as a rule, a Pony Express rider had just two minutes to get a drink, go the the bathroom, and change the mochila over to the fresh horse.

Rock Creek Station - Pony Express National Historic Trail (U.S. ...

The above photo is a photo of a home station. As you can see, the living quarters are a bit larger than the living quarters in the above photo of a relay station. That is because a home station housed the station keeper, stock tender, and a couple of riders who had come from either end of the route and handed off the mochila to a fresh rider with a fresh horse. Home stations were usually located at a ranch, hotel, or a town livery stable. (In my upcoming novel, my main character lives in a town with a town livery stable and a hotel, but chooses to live in a boarding house. When he rides his share of the route to Seneca, Kansas, he stays at a home station to rest and await the mochila that is coming from west to east.)

Both relay and home stations typically had dirt floors. Furniture often consisted of boxes, benches, barrels, or anything else the ingenuity of the occupants could contrive. Beds were pole bunks that were built against a wall. They had rope frames attached to poles, and the ropes had to be tightened every night. The thin mattresses were filled with grass, hay, or straw, any of which included bugs. Some were filled with horse hair.

 

Perpetual Check by F. Nelson Smith

Perpetual Check by [F.  Nelson Smith]

I received a free ebook copy of Perpetual Check and was asked to read and review it. I was not obligated to write a review. However, this review is my honest opinion of this book.

Perpetual Check by F. Nelson Smith is a mystery that takes place between the decline of the Soviet Union and the dawn of the computer age.

Dani Morden is a young woman who loves and teaches history. To escape her controlling mother, she agrees to take a trip to England with her Aunt Lucy. Dani fully expected to be bored.

However, it isn’t long before a murder victim falls at their hotel room door and they become the prey of unknown hunters who believe Dani has something they want. Dani and Lucy don’t know who to trust and who not to trust.

Dani and Lucy also decide to try to solve the murder mystery on their own.

In addition, Dani is filled with bitterness she needs to deal with, as well as a problem she is not even yet aware that she needs to resolve.

F. Nelson Smith created a cast of unusual characters and a story plot that has more twists, turns, ups and downs than a roller coaster ride.

I must admit the story kept me turning pages until the last third of the book. In the last third of the book I felt the pace slowed a little too much and I believed the mystery could have been solved sooner.

However, near the end, there were more twists and surprises that kept me turning pages, yet again, until the end. I enjoyed how F. Nelson Smith wrapped up the mystery, as well as decisions Dani needed to make at the end of the story.

I give this story a 4-star rating.

 

Special Post Saturday: Short Story Review

The Infinity Order: Changing The Past With Time Travel by [Ben McQueeney]

My normal book reviews are posted on Mondays here on my blog. However, this is a short story that Ben McQueeney requested a review for, so I decided to post it as a Special Saturday post.

The Infinity Order by Ben McQueeney is a short story that is a fast read. It is an interesting twist on time travel. It is an engaging story that keeps your mind active in following what is happening while also contemplating the outcome. Then comes a surprising twist that makes the story quite unique.

You can read this story in an hour or less, but it may keep your brain engaged for an hour or more afterward. If you like time travel, fantasy, and stories with twists and surprises, you’ll enjoy this short story.

Special Post Saturday

54341607. sy475

Reviewer’s Note: I received a free e-book of this short story for my honest review.

This short story by Ben McQueeney is a bit gory for my liking. However, it is well written with an interesting story line. It is a dark fantasy story. The main character is a barber with a strange curiosity that he attempts to assuage during his free time. This story is a bit reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. It is a quick, easy read. If you like dark fantasy, you’ll like The Fae of Darkwood: A Tellusm Tale.

Flash Fiction Friday: Love and Chocolate Part 2

Every once in a while, one of my flash fiction stories just seems to need a little more, so I hope you will enjoy the second part of Love and Chocolate.

thalia-ruiz-Y6z5sGI_Xac-unsplash

Photo by Thalia Ruiz on Unsplash

Love and Chocolate Part 2

Sonnet’s cell phone rang as she slid into the driver’s seat of her car. She didn’t recognize the number and decided to let it go to voice mail. She buckled her seat belt, then started the engine just as her phone rang again – same number. She tapped to answer. “Hello?”

“Sonnet. This is Armand, from The Everything Chocolate Café and Bakery.”

Oh, yes. Armand, hi.”

Hi. We are going to have live music this Friday night at the café/bakery. A female duo, one plays cello and one plays the flute and the violin. They’re mostly instrumental, but also sing a few songs. They call themselves ‘Class Act’. They’ll be performing from seven to nine. I get off at eight and thought I could join you for the last hour.”

Sonnet smiled. “That sounds great. I’ll see you Friday.”

She hung up the phone, still smiling. She pictured Armand in her mind – his chocolate brown work t-shirt revealing his firm pectoral muscles, his biceps straining the sleeve openings, wavy hair the color of caramel, and those slate-gray eyes. She sighed and shoved her phone into her purse, then pulled her car out of its space, and headed for the parking garage exit.

Friday, Sonnet, distracted at work, watched the clock, waiting for quitting time. At three o’clock, Marcy, her secretary, buzzed over the intercom. “Ms. Warren, Brindenburg’s mayor is on line one.”

The mayor? Sonnet lifted the receiver, held it to her ear, and hit the button for line one. “Good afternoon, Mayor. What can I do for you?”

I know this is short notice as Christmas is just over two months away, but Brindenburg’s Christmas sales were down last year. I would like you to plan a couple events that will bring in some tourists and boost our shops’ sales.”

I’m sure I can come up with some ideas. Let me brainstorm with my assistant, and I’ll get back to you Monday. Does that work for you?”

That will be fine. Thank you.”

Sonnet grabbed a pen and tablet and rushed over to Chad’s office. She told him about the phone call and they began sharing ideas, Sonnet writing down the best ones.

She didn’t notice when five o’clock arrived, but glanced at the clock at five fifteen. “Oh, I’ve gotta run. Let’s meet early Monday – seven a.m.? That will give us an hour or two to come up with more before I call the mayor.”

A short time later, Sonnet walked into The Everything Chocolate Café and Bakery. She stepped to the counter.

Armand looked up and smiled. “Good evening, Sonnet. What can I get for you?”

I’d like a white hot chocolate, please.”

You got it. I’ll bring it to your table in just a couple minutes.”

Sonnet sat at a table for two along the wall where she had a good view of Class Act setting up their equipment.

Armand brought her cup of hot chocolate and a plate with a cupcake on it. He placed both in front of her.

She looked up at him. “I didn’t order a cupcake.”

I know. It’s a bittersweet chocolate cupcake with cherry fruit filling and white chocolate frosting.” He winked at her.

You are going to spoil me.”

That’s part of my plan.” He grinned. “I’ll join you soon.”

She smiled as she watched him walk back behind the counter. She savored the cupcake, one bite at a time, and sipped her white hot chocolate while enjoying Class Act’s music. Soon Armand moved the other chair beside her, giving him a better view of Class Act, as they stopped for a ten minute break.

So, how was the cupcake?”

It was delicious, and so is this white hot chocolate.”

I’m glad you liked them. How did you get the name Sonnet?”

My mother loves Shakespeare, especially his sonnets, and she and dad wanted an unusual and artsy name for me.”

I see. I like it. It’s very unique, and it fits you well.” He smiled.

Would you like to know my full name?”

He nodded.

Sonnet Monet Warren. My father is a painter, and Monet is his favorite watercolor painter.”

Wow.”

Sonnet quirked an eyebrow at him. “Wow, what?”

Wow, what a great name. Just like I said before, a beautiful name for a beautiful lady.”

Sonnet’s cheeks grew warm and she covered them with her hands, hoping Armand wouldn’t see her blush.

Class Act returned and resumed their performance, so their conversation stopped. About halfway through this set, Armand reached over and took Sonnet’s hand in his. She liked the way her hand fit in his and how he held hers in a firm but gentle grip. A couple times he caressed the back of her hand with his thumb.

When the performance ended, Armand locked eyes with Sonnet. “I don’t have to work tomorrow. How would you like to visit our arts district with me?”

I’d love to.”

He smiled, they rose, and he walked her to her car. “May I pick you up at ten in the morning?”

She turned to face him, her back to her car. “That would be fine. I’m four blocks down, left on Duncan Street, number 312. The front of the house is yellow with sky blue shutters.”

They stood looking at each other a moment, and just as the silence between them started to become uncomfortable, Armand leaned toward her and lowered his head. He pressed his lips to hers and gave her a soft, brief kiss. As he began to pull back, she leaned toward him, reached up and, with a gentle pull, brought his head down so that their lips met again. This time the kiss lingered, lips pressing more firmly before parting.

I’ll see you tomorrow,” she spoke in a near whisper.

I look forward to it.” He reached and opened the car door for her.

As she drove away, she kept her eyes on him, in her rearview mirror, until he faded into the darkness.

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

you-can-never-get-a-cup-of-tea-large-enough-or-a-book-long-enough-to-suit-me-quote-1

This week I will talk about “the importance of reading, for a writer” and “should a writer read only books in their genre”? This topic was suggested by Christine Wachter. Thank you, Chris, for this suggestion.

I have heard a lot of talk about this subject, and I am actually quite surprised at the first part of the question: is it important for a writer to be a reader?

I recently saw this question posted on Twitter and read the long list of comments to see what people were saying. Most people said, “Yes, it is important for a writer to be a reader.” However, I was surprised at the number of people who didn’t think it necessary for a writer to be a reader.

Personally, I believe it is necessary for a writer to be a reader for several reasons:
1) reading other author’s works can help us to learn what to do as well as what
not to do; what works and what doesn’t.
2) reading can inspire us and give us ideas for our own stories.
3) reading other author’s works introduces us to other writing voices.
4) reading expands our vocabulary.
5) when you read, you naturally discover and learn many of the technical aspects of writing.

Now, let’s look at the second part of the question: should writers read only books in their own genre? I have been told, ever since I became a part of the writing world, that it is necessary to read lots of books in my genre. However, I was never told I should read only books in my genre.

Other writers and writing instructors will tell you to read lots of books in your genre for the following reasons:
1) reading lots of books in your own genre will help you learn what to do or
not to do; what works and what doesn’t in your genre.
2) reading lots of books in your own genre will give you a good idea of what’s
already out there, which will let you know if your idea is new and original
or if it’s been done before. If it’s been done before, you will want to find
a new way to present or approach it so that it isn’t “just like someone
else’s”. One of the questions a publisher or agent wants to see addressed in
your query or proposal is “how is your story different than the others that
are already out there in the same genre”.

I can tell you that I have been an avid reader ever since I learned how to read. I was one of those kids who read everything that had print on it for a long time. Over the years, I remained an avid reader, and I read lots of different genres. I write historical romance. However, I read any romance genre as long as it’s clean. I also read fantasy, mystery, suspense, crime novels — just about anything except sci-fi, horror, and erotica. I also do not read graphic novels or manga. The genres I choose not to read, I do not read based on my personal preferences. I don’t know of anyone who enjoys every genre out there.

So, my suggestion is — yes, read lots of books in your genre, but read books in other genres you enjoy as well.

What about the rest of you — What have you been told? What do you think? What do you read? Leave your answers to these questions in the comments section below and join the conversation. I respond to every comment.