The Rough Draft: Part I

NaNoWriMo Blog #4

National Novel Writing Month: write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Life in the woods requires strong coffee and an even stronger lap

Good morning!

It’s a rainy day today in the Pacific Northwest (but of course!), a good day to snuggle away in fable.

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So get yourself a nice cozy spot, a snack or drink, and let’s lose ourselves in story.

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Part I

This will be a two part blog, ending my final on my #NaNoWriMo series (as the month is ending in two days), but not my final on writing. In further blogs we’ll go over editing and the OTHER necessary parts of writing.

  • If you missed it, my first blog in the series follows what we need for characters. You can find this here.
  • My second installment touching on outlining techniques and ways to drive and use your antagonist’s motivation to drive the story is here.
  • The third is about family and beginnings, on how to start the story off. You can read all about that here.

Today we’ll get to build Part I of the rough draft, piecing everything together, similar to honing a clump of clay into a cup on the pottery wheel.

We’ll see what happens to Cath and Fors. Will Grandfather be able to guide his daughter through the choices she should be making? Or will his past get in the way and cloud his vision?

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And here it is, without further delay: The Rough Draft

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*Magical Poof*

The Rough Draft: Part I

The tempest of his grandchildren’s feet announced their presence before Ashley and Jessica’s voices, excited about turkey and cranberry sauce, reached Pat’s rusty eardrums. On their tails, Cath, their haggard mother, keys in mouth, dumped her armload of mail on the already heaped pile. As usual, she missed the coat hook, jacket and purse landing with a thud. She stepped over these in her typical distracted shuffle, not noticing her father until she nearly bumped into him. The jangling between her lips and wide, surprised eyes reminded him of a Chinook salmon sporting a Grand Slam lure.

“What’ve we got here, a Blackmouth?” he asked and pointed at the black keys. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger net, boys!” he hollered at the kids.

Cath’s dark eyes slugged him with a disparaging look.

The girls stood, hands on hips. The taller one’s hair as dark as coal, while her younger sister’s hair glinted almost translucent, the color so blonde. A telling difference of their personalities.

“We’re not boys, Grandpa!” Ashley said in such a big girl tone Pat had to do a double take to make sure his granddaughter was still seven and not 27.

Jessica, the toddler, echoed her sister’s sentiments: “Nah boys, g’pa!”

Pat’s heart melted and he scooped the four year old up. Her speech was stunted, years behind where she should be. Casualty of what they’d been through, he supposed, and gave her an extra squeeze.

“I see nothing but a couple harbor seals! You can tell ’cause their bellies make this sound,” he said, lifted the toddler’s floral shirt to reveal the cutest little Buda belly he’d ever seen, and promptly blew a drawn out farty raspberry on it. The girl’s squeal of laughter and squirming drove him to keep going. “I’m a killer whale chasing two yummy seals!” he chased the girls through the living room, his bum knee keeping him from crawling up on the sofa after them.

“Have I told you the tale of why killer whales chase seals?” he asked, sitting down with a huff and a puff.

“Yeessss,” Ashley groaned in overdramatized boredom.

“Tory! Tory!” Jessica cried out as she snuggled up on her grandpa’s lap.

“Do you wanna hear it or not?” he grumbled.

“Okay, yes, I do,” Ashley admitted and sat to his left.

“Long, long ago,” Pat began in his low, storyteller voice. “Frigg, the goddess of motherhood, watched over a special group of her children, mothers with hair of marbled black and white. These mothers were the sacred daughters of Skadi, a giantess and a goddess of the mountains, and Njord, a god of the sea. The daughters debated where to give birth, as being from both mountain and sea, no two daughters could agree. Frigg watched with concern, as she knew their time was growing desperate. They decided to make a compromise. A small island that barely classified as a beach bordered the two kingdoms of land and sea. Seeyal was a slick sea captain that promised to see the mothers safely to shore. Seeyal had a weakness for salmon, especially smoked with honey. What they did not know was that this was during a mighty feast that Aegir, a larger sea god, was throwing. The smell of the honeyed salmon wafted up as Seeyal crossed the sea with the mothers. Seeyal couldn’t stand it, promised the tide would carry them on until he returned, and dove overboard. Drunk on honied salmon, he joined a lively dance. His exuberance flamed the dancing party to cause such a ruckus, it spun the current into a whirlpool, waves taking over the ship, and sucked the mothers into the sea. Frigg had just enough time to change the mothers’ forms to half sea creatures before they drowned, forever trapping them between land and sea. The goddess was so distraught by the loss that she changed Seeyal’s form as well, to be eternally chased by the drowned mothers.”

The two girls sat in stunned silence, letting the story settle in their minds.

“Great now they’ll have nightmares,” Cath bellyached from behind him.

“Seal belly!” Pat cried out and levied another raspberry on Jessica’s tummy.

“Grandpa, you’re silly,” Ashley’s little voice giggled and he knew he had no place else in the world he’d rather be.

“I’m silly?” he asked with surprise. “I’d say a seal is more silly than a silly ol’ me,” he said and blew another raspberry on Jessica’s tummy.

“You’re going to make her wet herself and then I’ll have to clean it up,” Cath muttered.

Pat stopped and nodded at his daughter. “So they let you have Thanksgiving off this year?”

Jessica wormed out of his arms and away towards the toy chest.

“The motel, Black Fish did,” she answered as she looked through the mail. Each envelope wore a stamped LAST NOTICE and she threw them down with a sigh. “I still have to work at Briny’s tonight, you know, one of their top diner nights, not everyone has a family to spend the holiday with.”

Pat looked at his daughter but said nothing.

A crash and a wail interrupted the silence behind them.

“Oh jeeze now what,” Cath lamented wandering towards the noise. “Hey! What’s going on?!”

Pat winced as he stood and hobbled into the kitchen. He couldn’t see anything through the charred oven window, another thing he meant to get to. Groaning, he hefted it open, the air reminding him of an engine room on a summer night. The juices bubbled and steamed in the bottom of the pan as he carefully ladled them over the roasting bird, glad that at least his grandkids would get a good Thanksgiving dinner.

The wailing got louder and he knew someone was in trouble.

“I have to get ready for work, I can’t do this, can you?” Cath fumed past him and began violently scrubbing her hands in the sink.

“What’s going on?” he asked, noting she’d picked the phrase up from him, and peered over her shoulder. Her hands were dyed blue. “What-” he began to ask again.

“Ashley went through my old cake boxes, found my dye set, and thought it would be fun to dye her sister’s hair. FOOD dye, dad, FOOD DYE!!” She burst out crying, raising blue hands to her face.

Pat saw the potential result of this and grabbed her hands before they touched and spun her into a hug. His flannel didn’t matter. “Sweetie, you’re working yourself to the bone,” he poked at her pronounceable ribs under his embrace. “What happened to that idea anyways, your cake shop idea?”

She shook her head against his shoulder. “I can’t even afford to keep us in this house, not to mention the cost it would take to put into a new business. It just isn’t possible.”

Pat sighed and gathered her closer. “All I want is for you and the girls to be happy. They never get to see you, you’re working too much.”

“You can’t work, with your leg and all,” she said and pulled away, returning to the sink. “It’s more help having you here with them than paying for daycare, trust me,” she said, her back occluding her expression.

It was the same old fight they’d had with her since he’d moved in to help out. He couldn’t work or afford to live where he was at, it just made sense at the time. It was a symbiotic thing, really.

Pat opened the pantry, grabbed the bag of potatoes, and hefted it onto the counter. “Have you tried calling him?” he asked, knowing her answer.

Her back tensed and she stopped scrubbing.

“He said he was going to throw some money your way, you just needed to let him know when, right?” he asked, scrutinizing each potato as he removed it.

She cleared her throat and began scrubbing again. “I’m not asking him for anything. If he happens to send some money, great. But I am not begging from him.”

Pat put the last unacceptable potatoes back and dug for two larger ones. Tuber dirt flaked onto the counter through the mesh bag. He had a flash of nets and seaweed falling through while the catch shifted. There was always something unexpected in the net, something he couldn’t see until it was dumped on deck. Black hair and white skin against green and silver.

“Do you hear me?!” Cath demanded and spun around. “Do not ask me again!”

Pat regarded her hair turning from embers to ashes and wondered where the time had gone. He nodded. “Just trying to help.”

“And can you deal with them? I’m going to be dealing with enough whining about ‘my steak’s not done right’, ‘my potatoes are too soft’, ‘I can’t find my napkin’. I’ve had it with them!” she sputtered and pointed towards the girls’ bedroom. She looked at her blue hands and sighed, back bowing. “Please?” she asked softly and returned to the sink.

Pat kissed his daughter’s hair and made his way back to the girls’ room. There sat baby Jessica, hair bright blue with little blue streams cascading down her face as she cried, wiping teal across her face.

Ashley pouted, nose in the corner of their bedroom, the designated timeout spot, timer ticking away.

“Blue, oh so lonesome for you,” he sang and cradled the hiccupping toddler. She snuggled against his chest, her wet hair scent mixed with stale graham crackers. He didn’t care if he got stained blue. He’d stain his whole body blue if he had to for these girls.

“G’pa,” she mumbled, her sobs now quelled.

“Are we having a blue Thanksgiving, girls?” he asked.

“I wanted to make us mermaids, is all,” Ashley glowered. “I told her she couldn’t see until I was done, but she wouldn’t listen and tried climbing up to see the mirror, and I told her momma doesn’t like us to climb up there, and I tried to keep her from climbing, and I tried, and then she fell.” she babbled.

“Did you bonk your head?” he asked Jessica.

She nodded and pointed to her right temple. “B’nk.”

Pat lifted her hair and saw a good goose egg forming. No blood. He looked at her pupils. She smiled. She was okay.

“Okay, no more dying your sister’s hair, ya hear?” he instructed Ashley.

She nodded.

“Okay, you can reduce your sentence to two minutes,” he said and pointed at the timer on the bench in the corner ticking five minutes remaining.

“That’s not fair!” she whined.

Pat looked at her seriously and dropped his tone. “Do you want to increase it by ten?”

She shrunk back, turned the timer down to two minutes, and jutted her lip into the corner .

“I’m gong to check on you in a minute, I’d better not find you away from the corner,” he said.

She nodded.

Pat carried the toddler back to her mother. “We’ve got a silly goose with a silly goose egg,” he announced. “Maybe we should have silly goose instead of turkey?”

The toddler squealed in feigned alarm.

Cath checked her daughter’s head, wiped the area, and kissed it. “All better!” she said and smiled at Jessica.

“Ah bah-ah!” Jessica laughed.

Cath kissed her forehead. “Did you know that tomorrow is your birthday? You turn five!”

Jessica gasped in the magic. “My?”

“I’ll get a cake after work,” she said.

“You could bake one better than any store bought,” Pat said.

“I know, I just didn’t have enough-” Cath checked her watch. “Crap. I’d better get to work.”

“I know you said you didn’t want us to have Thanksgiving early for you,” he said. “But I cooked a little piece of turkey early so you could have some with us before work.”

She smiled. “Dad, you didn’t have to.”

“That’s why I did it,” he said, in his usual response. “Ashley, you can come out now!” He pulled a small foil-wrapped package from the oven and set it on the counter. It steamed as he opened it. Inside, a brined turkey leg waited to be devoured.

The small family enjoyed a taste of turkey together. Ten minutes later, Cath left for work.

Pat spared no expense, went all out on a lavish Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. Vegetables were a hard sell, but the pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce were a hit. He wished he could bake as well as he daughter and would have attempted the toddler’s birthday cake with the rest, but didn’t want to step on her mother’s toes. It was her place, after all.

That night the girls fell asleep with bellies full and minds swimming with tales.

The next day, Pat awoke to his usual aches and pains. His knee barked a little louder today. He moaned before he got up, groaned as he moved, griped as he stood, and grunted as he ambled towards the back porch, muttering to himself about his dang prostate.

The day looked to be a good one to be a duck.

Rain poured and streamed down everything, collecting in little rivulets and rivers.

He missed this kind of weather on the deck of a boat. Raincoat in place over layers of warm clothes: any weather could be comfortable.

The sound of a car pulling up cut through his memories.

Pat frowned.

They lived on a dead end road, far out in the boonies. People only ended up here if they meant to or were lost.

He hacked up the rest of his lungs, closed the door behind him, and shuffled towards his shotgun. Cath would have already been back and gone from work, now at her motel job. She shouldn’t be home until at least noon. He glanced at the clock. 6:42 am. He’d slept in.

As he made his way through the kitchen he noticed a store-bought cake on the table next to a plate with dried gravy and turkey bones. Ah good, she’d gotten dinner, he noted as he grabbed his Smith & Wesson and opened the door.

His daughter’s Toyota Sprinter sat there, and a middle-aged man Pat had never seen, stood next to it.

“What have you done with my daughter?” he asked, raising the shotgun.

The man’s dark eyes widened in surprise. His dark hair and light skin reminded him of something. A memory.

Pat cocked the gun.

“Dad! Jeeze!” Cath said and stood up from the passenger door. “I’ll explain everything, get inside. You don’t need that. Go sit down.”

Pat hesitated and dropped the muzzle to the ground. He eyed the stranger. The man was almost a head taller than his daughter, muscular to the point of nearly bulging out of a blue crushed velvet sweat suit. The guy looked like he bench pressed Volkswagens for fun. She showed up with some crazy stranger and expected her dad not to be on alert? He didn’t un-cock it and remained where he stood.

“I think you’d better tell me that story now.”

He watched his daughter sigh in frustration. He didn’t care. He had two sleeping little girls to protect in the house behind him that mattered more than someone’s, even his daughter’s, momentary irritation.

“I found him washed up on the beach, I saw him out the window as I was changing a pillowcase,” she said, looking back at the man with concern. The man had a dazed look about him, like he didn’t quite know where he was.

“The police,” she continued, “took him to the hospital, he’s okay, just has amnesia and some exposure symptoms, ‘nothing a hot meal and warm blankets can’t fix,’ the doctor said,” she caressed the stranger’s arm.

“What’s his name?” he asked.

Cath turned to the man. “Do you remember anything yet?”

The man looked at her, then shook his head blankly.

“How do we know he’s not just some axe murderer?” Pat asked, assessing the man’s reach and throw and calculated the muscle behind it.

“He said I was beautiful,” she said with hearts and rainbows.

Pat rolled his eyes. This is a chemical thing. “Well, I’m not setting this thing down until I know what we’re dealing with here.”

Cath shrugged. “Let’s get him into the house. We can heat up some dinner.”

Pat backed up and allowed them entry, keeping his eye on the stranger.

The man’s feet, a little too large for the hotel slippers, rocked on the edges, making it appear like he didn’t know how to walk. Pat sneered at the idea of a man so useless as he hobbled up after them.

Cath sat him down at the kitchen table and began doting on the man, first with a blanket, then followed by, snacks, a steaming hot cup of cocoa, and water laid out around him. The man’s glassy eyes looked at the items like he didn’t know what they were. Pat was reminded of a tubeworm on a piling.

“Are you hungry? Or thirsty?” Cath asked as if he were one of the girls.

The simply sat there.

Pat remained standing, sure the man was going to fly into a murderous rage at any moment.

“This is a hot drink, this is a cold drink,” she said and pointed to the two.

The man finally seemed to register something. “Why would I want a hot drink?” he asked, the question leaving a puzzled wake across his face.

Cath looked stumped, then to her father for help.

“Cause it warms you up from the inside?” Pat suggested.

The man nodded as if Pat had offered deep philosophical advice on the meaning of life.

“So how did you end up with him,” Pat asked.

“I found him on the-“

“I know, that’s what you said,” Pat looked at Cath. “But why didn’t the police or hospital keep him? Why did you end up with him?”

Cath looked uncomfortable and grabbed the dirty plate she had left the night before. “Because of the holiday, they were having trouble reaching the department of whatever so I offered to help for a couple of days.”

“You offered,” he repeated. “Are you staying home with him, too?”

She shrugged. “The hotel said I should take a couple of days to regroup, I guess I kinda freaked out a bit when I found him. I thought he was dead at first,” she said and chuckled uncomfortably.

“And what about the steakhouse?” he asked.

“I guess I could give them a call,” she said and began rinsing the plate under the faucet. “I mean, I know I-“

The man whipped around and stared at the sink. The sudden movement had Pat training the gun on the stranger. The man failed to notice or didn’t’ care. Instead he stared at Cath as she froze, plate in sink water, watching the stranger.

“You have the power of The Wave in your home?” he asked in amazement.

Cath looked in surprise at her father and motioned for him to lower the barrel. “No, it’s not the ocean, it’s fresh water. Like from mountain streams?”

The man nodded. “Good fishing where the two waters meet.”

Cath smiled at her dad. “See? You guys do have something in common!”

Pat lowered his gun and wiped his face. “You’re a fisherman. You probably fell overboard and hit your head.”

The stranger thought about this. “All I remember is waking up to this beautiful woman.”

“Yeah, been there,” mumbled Pat, then cleared his throat at his daughter’s expression. “I’m just gonna put this back over here,” he said and wandered out of the room towards the gun safe. He used this opportunity to remain close, but listen to the kids talk.

“What are you doing?” the man asked. Pat could detect an accent. Was that Norwegian?

“Just doing what I should have done last night, but I was too tired,” Cath said. Pat could hear water splashing.

“Did that sponge cause you some offense?”

Pat paused as he heard his daughter do the same.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“You keep grinding it’s head against that rock and bloating it with freshwater. I can only assume it lobbied the most foul offense,” the man stated with such careful selection, Pat wondered about this man’s background. It wasn’t Norwegian, but something else.

“Um, no, this is washing dishes,” she said and laughed uncomfortably. This was Pat’s cue to step back inside, still armed. Cath squeezed out the yellow sponge and showed it to the man. “See? It’s not alive. Never was.”

“That is an actual sea sponge,” Pat admitted. “It was, at one time, alive.”

Cath looked at it in surprise. “This lives in the sea?”

“My best friend is a sponge,” the man lamented.

“I have one of those, too,” Cath nodded.

Pat regarded the man. He didn’t think he was using the word as a metaphor. “Would you prefer raw fish?” he asked.

The man perked up at the idea.

Cath glared at her father in bewilderment. “What are you doing, dad?”

Pat uncocked the gun and leaned it in the corner. “We always keep some on hand,” he said and walked to the chest freezer. He removed a large tubular bundle. “It’ll take a bit to thaw,” he said and unwrapped a whole king salmon.

The stranger’s eyes grew wide and he licked his lips. “Where is your Grandmother? Surely, she should get the first bite?”

Cath looked at her father uncomfortably. “I don’t think anyone knows.”

“She left without saying a word,” Pat said sadly. “And a year and a half later, I found you on the deck of my houseboat, no note, nothing. Just swattled in seaweed and foam.” He squeezed his daughter’s shoulder.

“What was her name?” the man asked. “Maybe it’ll help me remember mine?”

“Beskee,” Pat said, thinking of her now. Her soft skin contrasting against his rough, weather-beaten, and her dark hair falling into his sun-bleached. He felt as if they had been the two parts of yin and yang, completely merging, becoming one. That one night with her decades ago changed his life. He knew he would gladly do it again. He hoped to, one day.

The stranger gasped. “I do remember my name. Fors!”

Cath looked at her father. “That’s a name I’ve never heard!”

“Do you remember anything else?” Pat asked.

Fors thought a moment. A lock of his dark hair fell into his face. He bobbed his head, looked up in frustration, and smoothed his hair out of his face. “I remember it being easier to keep my hair out of my face.”

Cath found one of the girls’ sparkly hairbands and lifted his hair out of his face. “How’s that?”

He shrugged. “That works.”

Pat cleared and rinsed the sink, blocked it, then filled it with cold water, floating the stiff fish head side down. The tail bobbed as if it were waving a them.

Fors immediately stood, crowding the sink.

“Whoa, what?” Cath stepped back.

Fors slinked back and forth like a cat studying a mouse in a hole.

Cath and her father exchanged glances. “Wait. What is it you’re not telling me?” she asked her father, suspicion narrowing her eyes.

Pat looked at the almost indiscernible stain of color that followed Fors’ hair line down his neck and below his collar, out of sight. The same was detectable on his temples.

Pat gave a resigned sigh and turned back to Fors. “Do you normally live in the sea.”

“Mm-hm,” Fors replied distracted by the salmon.

“Like, underneath, within the sea?” Pat probed.

“Mm-hm,” Fors repeated.

“As in you are in your human form now, but you’re not always in this form, correct?”

“Dad, what?” Cath looked between the two men. She hesitantly laughed. “You’re pulling our legs, right?”

Pat smiled sadly.

“Mm-hm,” Fors replied again.

“See, he’s not even listening, you’re just trying to get him to respond,” Cath said, crossing her arms.

Without warning, Fors began kicking at the sink counter.

“Wait! Stop! What are you doing?!” she shrieked at him.

Fors stumbled back, looking lost. “I’m sorry, when we’re underwater, that’s what we do. I guess it’s different on land.”

Cath looked to her father for an explanation.

“You see, killer whales use their fins to kick fish around, kinda like soccer,” Pat began to explain.

“You and killer whales again! Enough with the orca tales! I don’t care!” Cath blew up. “What in the hell is he talking about, dad?!”

“I’m trying to tell you, if you’d only listen!” Pat yelled back, irritated by the day’s events.

“Mama? G’pa?” little Jessica said, standing a few feet from the arguing adults. “I skawd.”

“Oh baby, I’m so sorry, we didn’t mean to wake you,” Cath apologized and scooped her blue daughter up for kisses.

“Yeah I couldn’t get all the dye out,” Pat admitted sheepishly.

Cath rocked her toddler on her hip as if the last four and a half years had disappeared and she held her new baby in her arms again. Pat remembered holding Cath that way.

“She’ll be my poor Baby Blue, from now on,” Cath said into her hair.

“Hoo? Hoo?” Jessica asked, tipping up each time she pointed at Fors. “Hoo? Hoo?”

“That’s our new friend, Fors,” Cath introduced.

“My? My?” Jessica excitedly grasped fistfulls of her mother’s uniform.

“Yes, it’s your birthday!” Cath said with an excited grin.

The toddler pointed at the man.

Fors smiled. “Hello, little podling! Are you also hungry for salmon?”

The little girl smiled and hid her face, to the delight of the adults.

“Well, now that you’re up, do you want breakfast?” she asked Jessica.

The girl pointed to the telling white bakery box.

“No, you can’t have cake until after dinner tonight,” Cath said and opened the refrigerator instead. “Let’s see. We’ve got a couple eggs, some milk, and some cheese. How about scrambled eggs?”

Jessica nodded excitedly.

“I know, do you want to wake your sister?” Cath and Jessica giggled deviously and the little girl scrambled off to pester her sister.

Cath broke eggs into a bowl, poured milk, and began whipping the eggs into submission.

“Okay jokes aside,” she began, followed by feigned laughter. “Fors, you’re from some seaside town?”

“No,” he chuckled along with her. “I’m from under the sea!”

“Okay,” she paused stirring. “Like, you work in some undersea habitat thing?”

Fors considered her words. “I don’t think I understand the meaning of that question. I live undersea, with my family. We follow the salmon. Our grandmothers teach us the Way of the Wave. My sister, Yayga, is the fiercest huntress of them all, this side of The Great Chasm.”

“You certainly have a lot of awesome women in your family,” Cath speculated. “Do you remember how you ended up here?”

Fors thought for a moment. “I don’t. Last I remember, we were making our preparations for our travel southward for the winter. I was going to see my friend, the sponge. Then…I woke up. To you.” He smiled.

“This, isn’t some kind of Candid Camera thing, is it?” Cath asked and looked back and forth between the two men with narrowed eyes. The smile she’d brought with him now faded on her face.

Pat shook his head. “Not on my end, it ain’t.”

“A candy what?” Fors now looked between them.

“Never mind,” Cath dismissed. “You keep watching that salmon, I’m going to talk to my dad over here…”

Fors nodded happily and went back to taking possession of the salmon, dribbling back and forth in front of the sink.

Cath pulled her father out of the room towards the front door, where he had moments ago been spying on them. “What is going on? What are you not telling me?”

“You’ve heard of mermaids,” he lead, gesturing with a prompting motion. “But orcas.”

“Killer whale mermaids?” she looked between her father and the man treating her sink like a soccer goal.

Pat nodded and prompted again.

“And your mother,” he said, hoping that it would be all he needed to say.

“I’m stumped,” she said, not even trying. She studied him and crossed her chest. “I thought you always made that up because you were too drunk to remember or she was too horrible, or something. Not… wait… are we related?” she gestured towards the kitchen.

He shook his head. “Not that I’m aware of. Why, you wanna breed with him?” he asked, elbowing her as he winked.

“Dad!” she squawked in a way he hadn’t heard since she was a teenager and he had the audacity to be in her room.

“I think the salmon is nearly thawed!” Fors declared in such an excited state, Pat nearly grabbed the shotgun again. He eyed it just to be sure it was in reach.

Before they had a chance to respond, a horrified shriek ricocheted throughout the house. “JESSICAAAAAHH GET OUUUT!!!!”

“Well, the girls are up!” Cath cheerily joked. “I guess I’d better start scrambling those eggs.”

“Before they scramble our brains!” Pat crossed his eyes at his daughter.

“Too late!” She laughed, crossing her eyes back.

The thundering of small feet rounded the corner to reveal a distraught Ashley with a little sister barnacled to her left ankle, weighing her gait into a classic horror monster leg drag. Pat expected her to demand brains. Instead, she shrieked, “Moooommm!!!! She gave me a hickie!!!”

Pat could see little pink spots on the girl’s face, arms, and now leg.

“I should never have taken her to daycare before you moved in,” she chided as she found her younger daughter’s mouth, slid an errant bill firmly and slowly between the two, until the parasitic daughter successfully detached.

“It wasn’t daycare,” Ashley sneered. “It was Channel 9. We watched a show with grandpa on leeches.”

“How informative,” Cath looked at Pat with accusational daggers.

“You can also use salt,” Ashley informed. “But that’s not very nice for the leech.”

“Do we even have leeches around here?” Cath demanded.

“You never know,” he shrugged.

“Okay, you girls play quietly and I’ll turn cartoons,” she offered.

The two celebrated loudly for a moment until they hushed each other and ran into the living room.

“I tell ya…” she began but followed the two girls without finishing her thought

“I need coffee,” Pat said to himself and eased ahead to the other side of the sink to fill his pot.

Fors backed up and looked about the room. “Where is it the podlings ran off to? Is there a school of fish for Grandmother to train them on?”

“No,” Pat shook his head, remembering sad memories. “Did you know Beskee? She would have been pregnant, about 37 years ago,” he looked back towards the living room. “Another one of your kind?”

Fors shook his head. “There’s a lot of us and a lot of families, it’s hard to keep track of everyone.”

The explosion of animated shenanigans and swelling orchestras made it hard for Pat’s rough voice to be heard. He cleared his throat and tried speaking over the din. “Are there a lot…a lot of your kind that walk like this amongst us?” Pat asked, both terrified and intrigued by the possibilities.

“We can only do this with help,” he said, lowering his voice. “Help from people who exact extreme revenge if crossed. Payment can be steep.”

“What kind of payment?” Pat asked, not caring that the coffee pot was spilling over in the sink.

A knock at the door interrupted everything.

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Duhhn duhhn duhhhnnnnn….

Tune in for Part II to find out the exciting conclusion….

Thanks for pretending with me! See you next time!

Take Care,

❤ K

Published by karaluna

Kara was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, in a tiny town, Sequim, Wa. The closest mall was two and a half hours away in Silverdale, Seattle a ferryboat ride away. She spent her childhood playing in the woods, exploring her imagination, and learning to be a mechanic from her father. Creative writing was always an outlet. She started a career as a motorcycle mechanic, to later find she wanted to try something else. After several career changes, she finds herself yet again on the road with only the journey ahead. She writes whenever she can. She has been published in her previous work’s newsletter, The Healthy Heron.

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