2019 Writing Year in Review

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A lot of writing happened this past year, and a lot of good work toward my writing goals both generally and on specific projects.

I made a Get Your Words Out habit tracking pledge of 240 days for 2019, and missed it by 17.  Considering I’ve gone months without writing in previous years, I think that’s pretty fantastic.  I’ve made the same pledge for 2020, and have confidence I can push through and make it this time.

I spent a good deal of time working on the second book in my series as well.  I spent almost as much time on revisions for that as I did on my November novel draft, which is pretty impressive since I spend most of my free time working on the novel in November.  I also spent almost as much time on book three.  That leaves book 2 very close to ready for final copy-edits and book three ready for a major revision similar to what book 2 has been through.  I’d like to release them fairly close together and if I’m able to really focus on the project during the first few months of the year, I’m confident I can get things much closer to publish ready sometime this year.

I experimented with planning before drafting this year, both with the major revision (basically full rewrite) of book 2 and my attempt during NaNo to have a plan and outline before writing my first draft.  These had varying levels of success.  Book 2 is so much better for it (and all the wonderful feedback I got from beta readers).  The NaNo project is a bit meh at the moment, but it’s also not finished, and I didn’t manage to stay with the outline the entire month.  But the two attempts left me feeling confident enough that planning can work for me that I’m trying to develop an outline for book 3 so it will come out better than book 2 did pre-outline-driven-rewrite.

I worked on 19 different projects over the course of the year (with smaller things like the blog’s image prompt responses counting collectively as a single project).  Most of these were novel drafts of some form or another.  Many were in the same world as Strong Fort Spathí.  I spent over 200 hours on my writing over the course of the year (at least as far as rough tracking goes).  I’m willing to bet that’s more time than I’ve spent on writing in a single year since before I got a full-time job.  I’ll be curious to see if my total will be significantly different for this coming year, especially if I make the 240 days of writing goal.

Overall, I’m proud of the work I’ve done in 2019.  But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to rest on my laurels and not keep working.  My priority goal for 2020 is book 3, so that I can polish up books 2 and 3 and get them published sooner than later.  I’d also like to continue trying out planning and outlining before I write or shortly after I start to see if that improves the quality of my first drafts.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing bits and pieces about both of those goals as the year unfolds.

Do you have any writing goals for 2020 you’d like to share?

Image Prompt 060 Response – Familiar

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I chose the picture of my black cat, Locke, looking out the kitchen window for my story prompt this week.  This is the product of a twenty-minute sprint and a quick copy-edit.

Familiar:

Midnight had her paws up on the kitchen windowsill so she could see outside.  Amanda smiled as she got out of the car and saw her familiar watching for her arrival.  She hurried to grab the bags out of the trunk but walked carefully up the steps.  It had snowed again today and she needed to clear them off again, maybe put down some more salt to keep things from getting slippery.

Amanda unlocked the door and pushed it open.

“Hello my lovely,” she greeted Midnight, who was now sitting on the counter right beside the front door.

Midnight meowed happily, brushing her head against Amanda’s arm since her hands were full.

Amanda chuckled and set her bags down, petting Midnight with one hand as she closed and locked the door.  “All’s well?” she asked.

“No callers or intruders,” Midnight informed her.

“Good,” Amanda replied, stroking Midnight one more time before turning to deal with her bags.  “I’m glad no one bothered you today.”  Some days there would be salesmen, or someone looking to hire Amanda would find out where she lived.  She didn’t like when they came to her home and bothered Midnight while she was gone.

It only took a few moments for Amanda to put away the groceries she’d picked up on the way home, and set her work bag and her little backpack by her desk in the second bedroom.  She came back to settle on the couch and Midnight jumped up to sit beside her.

Amanda stroked Midnight’s soft fur and sighed happily, relaxing into the cushions.  It was good to be home.  She missed Midnight on days she couldn’t take her familiar with her.  Some clients just didn’t understand the bond between a witch and her familiar, so they requested she leave the cat at home, like it was just some kind of pet.  At least this job had only taken a couple days and was close enough she could come home each night.

Sitting here with Midnight beside her again, Amanda could finally relax.  It was stressful on both of them when she was away.  Maybe she’d stop taking jobs that asked her to leave Midnight behind.  She could change her contract, make it state that Midnight was to be allowed to accompany her for all portions of her work instead of having a question asking if Midnight could accompany her.  Work was pretty steady now, unlike when she’d first started out.  She didn’t have to take every job she was offered just to make ends meet.

Amanda looked out the back window, watching snow begin to fall again, the swirls of snowflakes lit by the streetlamps.  The world was hushed and quiet now that night had fallen, the blanket of snow muting any sound there might have been.

“Tomorrow we leave for the next job,” Amanda said softly.

“We’re helping someone ward their home, correct?” Midnight asked.

“Yes,” Amanda replied.  “A very nice family,” she added.  They’d been very gracious about the entire thing.  They’d even asked if they needed to keep their own cat sequestered while she was there.  It was rare for anyone to even think to ask about things like that.  It was much more common for a client to ask her to keep Midnight sequestered or on a leash or something equally ridiculous.  Midnight would be at her side where she belonged.  “I think you’ll like them,” Amanda told Midnight.  “And if you’re feeling frisky, they have a cat you might be able to entice to play.”

“That would be nice,” Midnight replied, nuzzling Amanda’s leg.  “It’s been a while since I had a chance to play with another feline.”

Amanda smiled.  She’d amend her contract.  There was no reason to be so accommodating of those who didn’t understand her bond to her familiar.  If they wanted her services, they’d just have to accept that Midnight came too.

Image Prompt 059 Response – 3 a.m.

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I chose the picture of my apartment in grad school for this week’s writing prompt.  The usual twenty-minute sprint plus some copy editing.  I hope you enjoy.

3 a.m.

Kelly started awake, sitting up in her bed, heart pounding.  She looked around, wondering what had woken her up.  She jumped again when someone pounded on her apartment door.

Grabbing her robe from the chair beside the bed, she slid out from under the covers and pulled it on, shivering as she crossed the room in her bare feet.  It was winter and her electric baseboards just couldn’t keep up with how cold it got here.

She crept to the door, managing not to jump when someone pounded on it again.

She paused beside it, not sure if she should push the curtain aside to look out or just ignore them.

The pounding came again, a little quieter this time.

“Come on,” she heard a muffled voice say.  “You have to be home.”

Kelly reached up and pushed the curtain aside a little, keeping herself a bit back and to the side so she wouldn’t be clearly visible from outside.

There was just enough light from the streetlight at the corner for her to make out Mark’s features.  She hadn’t seen him in six months.  Not since she moved out of the house she’d shared with him, his sister, and their cousin.  She flipped on the light and reached to unlock the door.

“What the hell?” Kelly asked as she opened the door.

Mark had one hand braced on the doorframe and the other was raised like he was going to bang on the door again.

“You’ve got to let me in and close the door,” Mark said quickly, glancing over his shoulder.  “I promise I’ll explain.”

“Come in,” Kelly said, stepping back.  She watched behind Mark too.  He wasn’t the nervous type.

“Thank you,” Mark said, hurrying past her.

She closed the door, flipping the bolt out of habit.  “So what’s going on?” Kelly asked, glancing at her microwave.  “It’s three in the morning.”

“I think Melody’s dead, and Veronica tried to kill me.”

“What?” Kelly said, taking a step back and bumping into the door.

“I don’t know for sure about Melody,” Mark said quickly.  “She could have gone home to see our parents, but her room was a mess and there was all this sticky stuff splattered everywhere and I think it might have been blood.”

“Did you call the police?” Kelly asked.  When you couldn’t find your sibling and though there was blood in their room, you called the police.

“No, I ran,” Mark said.  “I got home late and I just poked my head in to see if she was there, and I didn’t even have time to decide what I though the sticky stuff was before Veronica showed up.  She was crazy.  She kept trying to grab me and she was talking nonsense, so I ran back out to my car.  She ran after the damned car.  I’ve never seen her run when she wasn’t being chased.”

“Okay, slow down,” Kelly said, taking a deep breath.  “You need to explain everything in order and you need to include all the details.  Why don’t you sit down?”  Kelly pulled the chair over from her table, putting it facing her desk and then sat in her desk chair.

Mark sat down, taking a few deep breaths.  He was still in his work clothes, black slacks and a polo with the restaurant logo on the breast.

“Start at the beginning, and go slowly,” Kelly urged him.  Then she sat back and listened.

Mark told her about getting out late because of a huge party in the private room.  He hadn’t even turned on the lights coming through the house, but he’s gone to check on his sister.  She was usually still up at two in the morning.  He’d noticed how much of a wreck her room was and turned on the light.  It looked like someone had torn through the place looking for something and maybe had a brawl while they were at it.  And there were drops and splatters of something dark reddish brown that were tacky when he touched one.

That’s when Veronica had shown up.  She’d yelled at him for being in Melody’s room.  He’d said Melody didn’t mind, and asked what happened.  Veronica wouldn’t answer any of his questions.  She kept saying that Melody had stolen from her and Veronica hadn’t meant to do anything, just get it back, but then Melody opened it and she tried to grab it and it was everywhere now.  Mark had tried to back away but Veronica grabbed him, her grip tight on his wrist.  He held it up to show her the red mark that said he’d have a bruise by morning.

“And her eyes seemed to glow in the dark,” Mark said.  “I was freaked out, so I ran.”

Kelly sighed.  “Mark, I think I know what happened, or at least part of it.”

“What?” Mark asked, looking so eager for an answer.

“Veronica got infected, and they gave her a supply of blood in case the craving hit when she was home.  It’s pretty typical.  My guess is Melody took her supply.  I have no idea why.  The blood you saw all over the room was from the supply that Melody opened and Veronica fought to get back.”

“Infected?  You think Veronica’s a vampire?” Mark asked, his eyes getting really big.

“It would explain how she could hold you so tight it’s going to bruise, and her chasing after you.”

“Am I safe here?  Have I put you in danger?”

“Vampires are only dangerous if they aren’t getting proper meals,” Kelly explained.  “I’m majoring is Preternatural Biology, remember?”

“But what about Melody?” Mark asked.

“Did you call her yet?” Kelly asked.

“Shit, I was too freaked to even think to,” he said, pulling out his phone.

Kelly sighed.  This was probably some weird family dispute or Melody freaking out about Veronica getting infected.  Hopefully she would answer and then Mark could go home and Kelly could get back to sleep.

Image Prompt 058 Response – Welsh Dragon Tour

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I chose the image of the field viewed from inside a ruined castle in Wales for my twenty-minute prompt this week.  It was going well, so I ended up writing for more like 30 minutes on this one.

Welsh Dragon Tour:

Kyle crouched against the crumbling stone castle wall, the weathered surface rough through his t-shirt.  He had not just seen that, had he?  He lifted his head just a little, craning his neck so he could see over the wall while hopefully not being noticed.

There was a little grove of trees just below the wall, and then several green fields of sheep on either side of the stream.  Beyond that there were more trees and the farm buildings and then the rolling hills, or maybe small mountains.  He saw the mountains first, then the farm buildings, then the fields as he slowly inched upward out of his crouch.

It was still there.

There was a dragon in the field.

It was eating sheep.

The river seemed to be turning to steam, leaving a hazy cloud of water vapor around the dragon.  It didn’t seem to care, but Kyle figured if it was causing the river to turn to steam by standing in it, then it didn’t mind heat or humidity.

Kyle wasn’t sure how big the dragon was, since he was so far away, but it was eating the sheep whole, so it’s head had to be at least three times the size of a sheep.  It had a long sinuous neck, letting it turn to look a full 360 degrees around itself.  Its legs were short, so its belly almost touched the ground, but they were thick and strong looking.  It turned, facing away from the castle to get more sheep, so Kyle chanced grabbing his phone to take a picture.  No one was going to believe this even with a picture, but he wanted to remember, or leave some evidence behind if it ate him.

He snapped a few quick shots and then zoomed in to get the best image he could of the full dragon up close.  Its big leather bat-like wings were spread out wide, and seemed to be glistening slightly, like they were wet maybe.  Its tail was long and shifted back and forth as it moved, like it was using it as a counter-weight or something.  The end looked like it was a ball with spikes.  As if the giant jaws weren’t scary enough, Kyle was pretty sure one hit from that tail would kill just about anyone.

Kyle crouched back down again.  He looked over at the other people on his tour.  One of the guides, Melody, was holding Rachel, the French girl, who was still crying.  The other guide had gone down the other side of the ruins to see if it looked safe to get to their bus.  Ryan, the Kiwi, and Ellen, the Canadian were hugging each other.

“What did you see?” Ryan asked.

“It’s eating sheep,” Kyle said.  “It’s still there and it’s eating sheep.”

“What do we do?” Ellen asked.

“Gary called 999,” Melody said.  “If it looks like it’s safe for us to leave, we’ll leave.”

“The bus would be visible from the field if we drove off, wouldn’t it?” Ryan asked.

“Probably,” Kyle said, peaking up again.  “Yeah, definitely.”

“I’m sure the emergency response folks will let Gary know what they want us to do,” Melody said.

“Are we safe here?” Ellen asked.

“As long as it’s down there eating sheep, probably,” Melody replied.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t run out of sheep then,” Ryan said.

Kyle whole-heartedly agreed.  He peaked back up, doing a quick count.  There were at least a few dozen sheep left in the closest field.  Maybe ten in the two further out where the dragon had been eating.  It didn’t seem to be eating anymore.  Kyle hoped it didn’t get full either.  But maybe if it wasn’t hungry it wouldn’t be a danger to them?  They were probably small and insignificant to it.

Gary came back, moving in a crouch along the wall.  He came to a stop next to Kyle.

“Alright, there’s a back way out we can take that should keep the bus from being visible from the fields,” he said.  “They’re sending people to check out what’s going on and figure out how to keep everyone safe, but right now, they just want us to be away from here.  Pretty sure they only believed me because the farmer down there had already called in a pissed off panic because he’s losing sheep.”

“We can get to the bus without being seen?” Melody asked.

“There’s a short stretch were we might be visible, but I figure if we run it in pairs we’ll be fine.”

“It’s looking the other way right now anyway,” Kyle said, peaking up again.  “We should go before it turns around.”

“Agreed,” Gary said.  “Let’s go.”

Kyle followed Gary.  They stayed in crouched until the walls got high enough to run a little more upright.  When they got to the entrance, where they’d have to run across the gap to the bus, Gary stopped.

“Melody, take Rachel across first.  Be ready to start the bus and drive off as soon as the rest of us are on.”

“Understood,” Melody said, getting a good grip on Rachel’s hand.  “Ready?” she asked.

“Yes,” Rachel said, not sounding confident at all as she held onto Melody’s hand.

They ran across the space and up into the bus.

“Who’s next?” Gary asked, looking at the rest of them.

“You two go,” Kyle said.  He was on the track team, so if anyone had to run faster, then he should be the one.

“You sure?” Ryan asked.

“I’m fast, I’ve got this,” Kyle assured him.

“Okay,” Ellen said, grabbing Ryan’s hand.  “Let’s go.”

Ryan nodded and they ran the whole way and right up the steps onto the bus.  Kyle could see them move down a few seats and then disappear, probably crouched in the foot space rather than actually sitting.

“Ready?” Gary asked.

“Ready,” Kyle said.

Gary started off and Kyle kept close behind him.  They were half way across when he noticed movement in his peripheral vision.

“Oh, crap,” Kyle said as the giant, clawed, four-toed foot came at him.

Kyle tried to speed up, but he just wasn’t fast enough.  That foot wrapped around him, pinning his right arm to his side as he was lifted off the ground.

“Go!” Kyle shouted as Gary looked back.

Gary made it onto the bus and the door closed behind him.

Kyle’s stomach lurched every time he was jerked higher, the heavy beats of the dragon’s wings taking them upward.  He watched the bus drive off without him as the castle came into view below them.  This was not the kind of Welsh Dragon he was expecting when he booked this tour.

Image Prompt 057 Response – Best Roommate Ever

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I chose the image of my cat Locke in a shopping bag for this week’s twenty-minute sprint.  I had to go a little bit longer to wrap up of the scene, so this is maybe closer to twenty-two minutes or writing, but close enough.

Best Roommate Ever:

Kara heard the sounds of paper crinkling from the corner of the living room.  She walked over to investigate.  They’d had a couple mice get in last month and a few lizards over the summer.  Apparently the lizards could crawl in through the air conditioning system somehow because they always came out of the vents.

Kara laughed when she reached the corner.  There were a few empty boxes and a paper shopping bag, which currently contained her roommate’s black cat.  He was turning around in the bag and pouncing at the corners.

“Hey sweet boy,” Kara said, just to make sure he knew she was there.  He could get snappy if you startled him.

Coda looked up at her with his bright yellow eyes and meowed his tiny little meow.  He was huge, a healthy fifteen pounds according to the last vet visit—which Kara had taken him to since her roommate got called into work last minute that day—but his meow was so tiny and high pitch, almost like a kittens.

“Having fun?” she asked as she reached down for the bag.  She picked it up, just to see what he would do.

Coda was sitting up when she did and he barely moved as she gently lifted him up to waist height.  He just stared up at her and then meowed again.

“Why don’t you come hang out with me?” she asked, carrying him to the couch and setting the bag down.  Kara sat down at the other end of the couch and laughed again when Coda leapt neatly out of the bag without even hitting the top.  He padded over and curled up against her leg.  He never seemed to want to sit in her lap, which worked out pretty well since fifteen pounds was a lot of cat to have in your lap.

Kara gently stroked his back.  He was the softest thing, with long fur that sat sleekly against his body.

“You’re such a good cat,” Kara told him.  “Such a sweetheart.”  She didn’t even end up turning on the TV as she’d intended.  She just sat there stroking Coda until her roommate got home.

“Hey, I’m back,” he called as he closed the door behind himself.

“Hey Mason,” Kara called out.

Coda meowed in greeting too.  Normally he was at the door waiting for Mason even when Kara was home.

“You two are getting along well today,” Mason said, smiling fondly as he walked through the living room.

“Yeah,” Kara said.  “I’ve always liked cats, but Coda is a real sweetie.”

“He likes you, too,” Mason assured her before heading into the kitchen.

Coda meowed.

“Yeah?” Kara said.  “You like me, huh?”  She reached down with both hands and rubbed his cheeks.  Coda purred, pushing his whole body against her thigh.  “I like you, too,” she said.  “If only I could find a guy I liked as much as you,” she murmured softly.  It had been a lonely several years for her.  Her high school boyfriend hadn’t wanted to continue when they went off to different schools and she’d never found anybody she liked enough in college.  And here she was, in her first job after graduation and she’d still not met anyone worth dating.

Coda meowed again, purring happily.

“Have you made any dinner plans yet?” Mason asked as he came back in sans work bag.

“Not yet,” Kara said.  “I was thinking about it but then got distracted.”

She smiled up at Mason, hoping he didn’t think she was a total flake.  He was an amazing roommate and she didn’t want to do anything to mess that up.

“He’s very distracting,” Mason said, coming over to stroke Coda’s side, his fingers brushing against Kara’s hand along the way.  His skin was warm, but Kara just shifted her hand, petting Coda’s head so she wouldn’t be in Mason’s way.  Dating a roommate was just a bad idea, even if he was the nicest guy she knew in the whole city.

“Yeah,” Kara agreed softly.

“Want to come out to dinner with me tonight?” Mason asked.  “It was kind of a crap day so I wanted to treat myself, and this is the longest I’ve ever had a roommate without a huge fight, so that seems worth celebrating too.”

“You don’t usually get along with your roommates?” Kara asked, frowning.

“I’ve just had bad luck,” Mason said.  “I never had a friend that wanted to live in the same room back in school, so I was always with random people and kept getting someone that didn’t agree with me about something big like cleaning or rules about who can be in the room when or something, which usually turned into a fight because I’m stubborn and a few of them had some serious testosterone poisoning going on.  I’ve only had three since college, and the other two were random online connections.  I figured you were going to be a great bet because a human being I actually knew recommended us to each other.”

“My first college roommate was horrible,” Kara said.  She understood about random roommates.  “She had a boyfriend, and he practically lived in our room.  It was kind of awful and no matter how many times our RA tried to help work it out she’d just break the new rules.”

“I had one like that,” Mason said.  “I got him moved out.”

“My RA never offered that as an option,” Kara said.  “I applied to be an RA my sophomore year so I’d never have to deal with another random roommate.”

“Just everyone else’s,” Mason said with a laugh.  “Come on,” he added, holding out his hand.

Kara gave Coda one more head scratch and stroked down his back before reaching up for Mason’s hand.

Mason pulled her up easily, smiling the whole time.

Coda meowed in protest.

Mason laughed.  “You have to share buddy,” he said to Coda.  “It’ll be my treat tonight to thank you for being an awesome roommate,” Mason said.  “Let’s go.”

“Thanks,” Kara said, squeezing his hand before pulling hers away.

Mason smiled over his shoulder at her and Kara thought really hard about how much of a bad idea it would be to date a roommate, but she still followed him out to his car to go to dinner.

Image Prompt 056 Response – Silver

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I chose the image of a figure built out of Magnetixs, which was dubbed the Magnetix Kid at the time.

Silver:

Silver settled into the form on the black satellite chair with a soft shudder.  It had been a while since they’d inhabited any sort of physical form.  As a pixie they were usually ethereal, a barely there wisp of magic that most humans couldn’t detect.

Silver carefully shifted the little skeletal body they’d found.  The joints seemed to move oddly and the entire thing felt slightly precarious.  Silver used a little magic to make sure the body retained its form and no joints or connections let loose while Silver was inhabiting it.  If the thing broke with Silver in it, they’d be trapped inside it until it was repaired.  Humans couldn’t be relied on for that sort of thing these days.

Silver watched the humans as they moved around the room, shutting off the big box with the moving pictures in it, gathering cups and plates, and generally cleaning up.  It was a relief when the humans finally went off to their beds for the night, two into one of the rooms further inside the place and the other out the door to find their own dwelling.

Once it had been quiet for some time, Silver carefully stood up.  The joints were definitely odd, but functional.  Silver was able to stand and walk to the edge of the satellite chair with fairly little effort.  The little arms were short enough to be practically useless, but Silver didn’t mind.  It was the legs that were important.  Moving around in a body was good for a pixie every so often.  Kept the mind sharp and the magic used to controlling such objects.

Finally at the edge of the chair, Silver looked down, gauging the drop.  It wasn’t too long, perhaps three times the height of the little body Silver had found.  Their magic would hold the body together for that small of a drop.  The useless arms made it harder to get over the lips at the edge of the chair.  In the end Silver became impatient and simply let themselves fall against the edge, then pushed with their feet so they flipped over the edge to fall on the floor.  The impact was jarring, Silver’s magic having to tense around all the joints to make sure nothing popped out of place.

They lay on the floor for a few moments letting everything settle back to normal equilibrium.  Then Silver worked on standing up.  The little arms got them part way there and they crawled over to the base of the chair, using the metal tube of the frame to leverage themselves up to a standing position once more.

Silver explored the room, looking at all the furniture and the slim little books on the shelf under the big box of moving pictures.  The shelf seemed to be made out of a material Silver had never seen before.  It was textured like wood but didn’t feel like it came from a tree.  The couch was recognizable and the tables.  The chair they’d been on was different from what they were used to, but there were normal chairs at the table and the kitchen was recognizable even if they couldn’t figure out where the fire belonged.

Silver started down the hall, curious what else was in the dwelling.  It had been a long time since they’d been physically inside a human dwelling.  Everything looked different when Silver wasn’t inhabiting a physical form.  Now that Silver was in the little figure, they could see again in a way they were told was very similar to how humans saw.  Down the hall there was another open area with a sink.  Perhaps that was where bathing happened.

Silver was just stepping out of it again when they heard the noise of a door opening.  They stopped, not sure if the sound meant a human was coming.  When there was no additional noise, Silver moved again, heading back toward the chair.  Surely they’d be able to figure out how to climb back into it, or position themselves as if they’d fallen off.  Humans tended to believe that sort of thing even when it seemed unlikely.

“Oh my god,” someone said behind Silver.

Silver froze again.

The human walked around to the other side of Silver so they could see her.  Her eyes were wide, but instead of fear, her expression was full of wonder.  Silver had never seen an adult human react with wonder before.

Image Prompt 055 Response – Unexpected Call

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I chose the image of a woman trying on a wedding dress for my twenty-minute sprint this week.

Unexpected Call:

Melody stood smiling into the mirror, her mother behind her taking pictures.  This was it.  This was the dress.  She loved how simple the lines were and the subtle beadwork that added texture without being frilly and over the top.  She turned around, smiling at her mother.

“You look beautiful, sweetie,” her mother said.

“Thanks, Mom.”  Melody was excited to finally be done with the dress shopping portion of wedding planning.  There were only a few details left which meant less things to stress over.

Her mother helped her out of the dress and they filled out all the paperwork for ordering it.  As they walked out of the shop, Melody sent a message to her sister.  They were done earlier than expected, so they’d be able to make it back in time to see her for lunch.

They were half way back when Melody’s phone rang.  She didn’t recognize the number but with all the vendors she’d been working with she answered anyway.

“Hello?”

“Melody Shafer?” a woman asked.

“This is she.”

“You were listed on an emergency contact card for Michael Davidson.”

“Is he okay?” Melody asked, her heart racing at the idea that something might have happened to her fiancé.

“He’s been in an accident,” the woman said.  “He’s stable but hasn’t regained consciousness.  If you could come to the hospital the doctors have some questions.”

“I’ll be there as fast as I can,” Melody said.  “Is there anything you need to know now?”

“Does he have any drug allergies?”

“No, but he’s allergic to latex,” Melody said.  “Please call me back if anything changes.”

“I will, ma’am,” the woman said.

“I’m going to call his family.  Should we just come to the ER?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Thank you.”

Melody hung up.

“Michael was in an accident,” she told her mother.  “We need to go to the hospital.”

“Did they tell you anything?” her mother asked, immediately speeding up.

“He’s stable but unconscious,” Melody said.  “I have to call his parents.”

Melody didn’t even remember what she said when she called Michael’s mother.  His mom was going to call his dad and they’d meet her at the hospital.  It took Melody and her mother another twenty minutes to get there.

“Go on in,” he mother said, pulling right up to the entrance.  “I’ll park and find you.”

Melody hurried inside, glancing around to see where she needed to go.

Michael’s mother was there, hurrying over and hugging Melody tight.

“He’s going to be fine,” his mother said.

Melody burst into tears.  She’d been so scared.

“His dad’s with him,” his mother said, holding her tight.  “It’s just a broken leg.  No head trauma.”

“Can I see him?” Melody asked.  She needed to see that he was alright.

“I’ll ask them to take you back,” his mother said.  “He can only have one visitor at a time, but they’ll just send his father back out.”

“Thank you,” Melody said.  This was just one more thing that showed how wonderful they were.  They’d welcomed her with open arms before she’d even started dating Michael.

His mother found a nurse and Melody was escorted back to the little bay where Michael was lying in a hospital bed.  His eyes were open and he was talking to the nurse.

“Here’s Melody,” Michael’s father said, stepping back from the bed.  “We’ll be in the waiting room,” he said to Melody as he stepped out of the cubicle.

“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Melody said, taking Michael’s hand.

“I was worried I wasn’t going to be,” Michael said, his hand gripping hers tight.  “It all happened so fast, but there was this moment when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to avoid it.”

“I love you,” Melody said, the tears starting up again.

“I love you too,” he said.  There were tears in his eyes too.  “Stay with me?”

“Always,” Melody said.  They might not be married yet, but she’d always be there for him.