Tag Archives: Chuck Wendig

Five Things I Learned Writing A Place to Start

Chuck Wendig recently announced a new series over on his blog, where writers tell five things they learned while writing a story. I like this idea. I like it a lot. He’s only opening it up to traditionally published writers, and I get that. He has sound reasons for that. And honestly, I doubt the highly experienced crowd over there has much to learn from self-pub newbies.

But since I just finished writing a story, I decided to make a list of my own. Because I did learn some stuff that’s maybe worth contemplating.

I don’t feel qualified to give writing advice, that’s not my intent here, but perhaps some other embryonic writer will stumble across this someday and find it helpful.

1.) Deadlines are more effective with significant consequences

Obviously, not everyone has this problem. But I’m pretty much an expert-level procrastinator. I’ve set writing goals before, with mixed success. This time was different, for two reasons.

First, I publicly promised people I care about that I was giving them something for the holidays (goal: 12-25). Pretty sure they knew it was a story. Since it was supposed to be a short story, I figured I had plenty of time. HA! Writing short is hard and I don’t have the skill for it. I should have known this would be a longer piece, that it would take more time. I started writing it on December 3. What was I thinking? Talk about a ticking clock.

APTS cover pngSecond, I asked one of my sisters, a graphic artist, whether she’d make a cover for me. She not only agreed, she started working on it immediately. Even though I told her there was no rush, because I WAS STILL WRITING THE STORY. But no, she was off and running. Er, drawing. An original hand-drawn creation (and it’s gorgeous) is no small undertaking for an artist who has MG, as my sister does. No way in hell was I going to tell her I didn’t need a cover after all.

Those two things combined were a perfect storm of unacceptable consequences for not finishing. I hesitate to even say this, for several reasons, but I learned that I can indeed write 25,600 words in two weeks and spend a week editing it down to 27,000 words [sigh] and then publish the thing.

2.) Sometimes speed is your friend

I don’t necessarily recommend writing and editing and publishing a novella in three weeks. Really. I guarantee you, there are sensible people reading this right now who are recoiling in horror at the very thought. Hell, I’m a bit horrified myself and I’m the one who did it.

However. If you’re like me and tend to take forever writing a thing and edit it to death as you go and then second-guess yourself into paralysis, this approach might be something to consider.

I didn’t have time to stop and edit. Each day, I’d briefly skim over the previous day’s work and wade right back into writing. At the end of the day, I’d jot a few quick notes about things to come. There were a ton of notes that said “XXfix this later.”

But I learned that my brain is doing things I’m not consciously aware of and that some of the things I would have deleted if I’d had time to edit as I went turned out to be important to the story. I’ve heard other writers say this, but didn’t quite believe my brain was doing that.

For instance, early in the story when Jo was lost in the snowstorm, she thought longingly about finding a loving family who would offer shelter. It was a stupid thought. If I’d had time, I would have deleted and re-written that part immediately. I realized later, much later, that finding a community of loving people who treated her like family turned out to be an important theme. That’s not something I set out to do.

There were a bunch of things like that, so many that it was sort of shocking. Little seeds planted unintentionally that turned out to be significant.

When I decided Jo wrote stories for children and then named the rabbit Steve, I added a note: “XXthis is stupid, fix it.” I had no idea at the time how important that would be. Or that Mac knew how to whittle. And it turns out people kind of liked that stupid rabbit.

And you know what? It was fun. I had a blast writing this story, free from the self-criticism of constant editing.

3.) Editing is SO important

Okay, this isn’t something I learned writing this story. I’ve always known this. But I can’t just not say this, in light of item #2.

I like to think the mechanics of my writing are pretty solid, in terms of spelling and grammar and (unless you’re overly fond of commas) punctuation. I’ve had years of practice. When I say I wrote the story in two weeks, what that really means is it took me a dozen-plus years of writing and studying craft and a lifetime of reading to write it that fast.

With the deadline I’d given myself, and it being right before the holidays, there wasn’t time to find a professional editor who wouldn’t try to have me killed just for asking. Possibly a dumb decision, but in this particular instance (see #4), I have no regrets. At all.

A week to edit a novella? That’s really pushing it. You can’t just run spell check and be done. That’s not editing. I did enlist the help of a very savvy reader friend and she gave great feedback on an early draft. But as a writer there are things I’m aware of, and responsible for, that a reader might never notice.

It helps that I know the type of stuff I tend to screw up. I skip words. Just leave them out entirely. It’s hard to catch that, even when you know to look for it.

I write things like, “She stood up and walked over to the window and looked out and saw…” GAH. That’s fine for a first draft, but you need to fix that crap.

Also, after reading so many romances, I tend to use familiar or clichéd phrases. It’s lazy writing. At one point, I wrote that Jo “wrenched away” when Mac put a hand on her arm. It sounded like he was being physically aggressive. Only he wasn’t. In the final version, she “shrugged it off.” Little thing, big difference.

And since my mind is always in the gutter and I see innuendo everywhere, I changed “he turned his phone on” to “he turned on his phone.”

Word choice, word order. It matters. I spent more time editing in the span of a week than I spent writing during the previous two.

That said, I am absofuckinglutely sure there are still mistakes in it, both large and small. Especially on the developmental, story structure level. I have no doubt whatsoever there are things in that story I’ll look back on in the future, probably next week, and wish I’d done differently or better or not at all.

3-1/2.) A bonus thing, since the last point wasn’t a new thing I learned

It’s a bad idea to publish a 27,000-word story in 11 posts on your blog. What can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was wrong. Don’t do this. It’s irritating and frustrating and breaks the flow and is not the way you want readers to experience your story.

4.) It feels so fucking good to “finish your shit”

Credit to Wendig for that particular expression, but it’s a universal truth. This story isn’t the first thing I’ve finished. It’s not even the first thing I’ve published. But it is the first time I’ve finished a piece of fiction and then shoved it out into the world. (I’m being quite literal here. I’ve never even sent out a query.)

It’s not perfect. It might not even be particularly good. But, you know what, no one died. The sky didn’t fall. No one came to my house and kicked my cat. Well, not yet. Early days.

It feels indescribably good to just be done. I don’t mean “done” as in one more lingering done-but-not-quite-ready dark blot of indecision on the hard drive. I mean irreversibly done. No more endless editing. No more angst about whether to re-write that one part. Or that other part. Again. It’s out there and gone. DONE. I needed that. You have no idea how badly I needed that. Far more than I needed another edit.

5.) I have got to stop taking this whole writing thing so seriously

I struggle with this. Yes, I take it very seriously. Probably too much so. I feel an almost overwhelming obligation to the people who invest their hard-earned money and irretrievable time into the reading of a story. There’s a level of trust there and I’m trying my damndest not to violate that.

Plus there’s that ever present fear of failure. Or success. Or both. Whatever.

But still. It is just entertainment. It’s not open-heart surgery where someone could die if you get it wrong. And it’s as ephemeral as it is eternal. Every story is just one small drop in an endless flow. No matter how good it is, a story will never be so good that a person who reads it will feel like they don’t ever have to read another. They might re-read it, but there will always be another. Always. And I want to be the one who writes it. Now that I know I can. Without, you know, endangering the cat.

I’ll be working with an editor on the next one, so it will take more time. Perhaps not to draft, but definitely in the editing stage where the real writing happens. No doubt I’ll learn more than a handful of new things. Maybe I’ll even learn to write short. Don’t anyone hold your breath.

PS- The story in question is available here:

AMZ | BN | Kobo | Goodreads | Smashwords || Sony & Apple… coming soon

6 Comments

Filed under A Place to Start, self-publishing, writing

Flash Fiction: A Mother’s Love

Another week, another writing challenge from Herr Wendig. [Yeah, I know, I just posted one of these. But that was from the week before, plus it wasn’t fiction.] I’ve been avoiding the challenges over there that provoked something creepy or scary. I don’t enjoy scary stories. They give me nightmares that are far worse than whatever was written. I think that’s what the good ones do: leave something to the imagination. But I’ve sort of been wondering whether I could pull it off. Then Wendig offered up this picture as the prompt. He didn’t say it had to be a creepy story. But how could it be anything else? So I decided to give it a try. Let me know whether you think it works.

Flash Fiction: A Mother’s Love

The cop wasn’t interrogating me, exactly. I wasn’t under arrest. Hell, I’d called them. He just wanted me to tell him everything I remembered about those doll heads.

“I own a small shop down by the river, in the heart of old town. I inherited it from my great grandmother. I sell… oddities. Mostly old hand-crafted items, from another era.”

The cop nodded. “Bessie’s Trunk.”

“I get locals in search of things unique or spooky, even the occult. But mostly tourists looking for a souvenir, something unusual they can’t get at the airport gift shop.”

I paused, gathering my thoughts.

“A man came into the shop last week. He was old, maybe mid-70s. He looked sad. No, more than sad. Beaten down. Haunted.”

I took a sip from the bottle of water they’d given me.

“David Sommers,” the cop said.

“Didn’t give his name. He was carrying an old drawstring cloth sack, the kind children used to keep wooden blocks in. He said his wife had died and he was seeing to her last wishes. She made him promise he’d bring the bag to Old Bess — that’s what people called Gran — that she’d know what to do with it.

“I told him Bessie had been gone for two years and I owned the place now. He stared at me for a long moment. Then he said, ‘So it falls to you. You’ll do.'”

“Those were his words?”

“It was an odd thing to say. He opened the bag and tilted it toward me and inside– ” I drew a shaky breath. “Inside were doll heads. Old white china doll heads. Each with delicately formed mouth and nose and ears. And empty dark spaces for eyes.”

I shuddered as a chill raced up my spine and into my scalp. My throat was dry and I desperately wanted another sip of water but my hands fumbled with the cap. I wrapped them around the bottle to still the trembling.

“He said, ‘These belonged to our daughter. She was a good girl, our Lucy. Didn’t take much to people. But she was one to collect things. After she lost the baby.’ He glanced around as if seeing the shop for the first time and said, ‘She’d’ve liked this place.’ When he looked back at me, he eyes seemed to hold the pain of a thousand losses.”

I hesitated, remembering that unguarded moment of grief.

The cop was relentless. “And then?”

“He told me Lucy called them her babies. And how she made her mother promise to never throw them away. To always keep them together, like a family. I wanted to ask what happened to Lucy, but decided I didn’t want to know.”

I finally got the damn top screwed off the bottle but then twisted it right back on again. Tight.

“Then he pulled the drawstring closed and tied it with a fancy knot that made me think he’d been in the Navy, gave me a hard look and said, ‘I know you won’t break that promise either.’ Then he turned and walked out, leaving the bag on my counter.”

“The Navy?”

“My dad used to make knots like that.”

The cop grunted. “You kept them.”

“Some of my regulars are crafters, always looking for raw materials. As creepy as they were with their sealed lips and dead eyes — I figured they’d sell. I cleared a space on an old roll-top desk and arranged them in a pile on top of the cloth bag. I priced them as a group.”

“How many?”

“What?”

“The heads. How many were there?”

Too many. “Thirteen.”

The cop scribbled a note before he said, “Someone bought them.”

This was the hard part. The part I didn’t want to think about.

“A woman came in two days ago. I watched her because she was carrying several bags. She didn’t respond to my casual greeting, just started wandering through the shop, her eyes not really focused on any one thing. Until she got near the old roll-top.”

This time I did manage a gulp of water before I resumed twisting the cap.

“She gave a startled cry, like she was in pain, and dropped all her bags. She rushed over and stretched trembling hands out toward the doll heads and said, ‘My babies! Oh, my babies.’ And she began to weep.”

I wasn’t sure I could finish this. The cop shifted uncomfortably. “Please. It’s important.”

“By the time I got to her, the woman was holding the cloth bag and gently placing the heads into it, softly murmuring to them. I asked whether she was all right. She turned with a look of such rage on her face that I took a step back. She screamed, ‘These are MY BABIES!’ Then she picked up one of the other bags and threw it at me and said, ‘Take these. They’re all WRONG.’ Then grabbed her other bags and ran out of the shop.”

“What was in the bag?”

“Doll heads. Modern plastic ones. With– ” My hands clenched, crumpled the bottle. “With black marker scribbled on the faces.”

“You never saw her again?”

“Not until this morning. The picture in the paper.”

Under the headline: SUSPECT IN COLD CASE MURDERS RELEASED FROM OAKHILL

“She killed babies? And they released her?”

He answered reluctantly. “The father was told Lucy died years ago. When the mother died, the support payments stopped. She used assumed names. Oakhill had no other contacts. Their police inquiry was… delayed. They released her.” He paused. “You sure there were 13?”

“Why?”

His phone rang. He answered, listened intently. “Good work.”

He hung up and said, “We believe Lucy killed 15 infants before the mother institutionalized her. She came back, looking for the other two heads.”

“Came back? To my shop?”

“Our guys just picked her up.”

“Oh, thank– ”

He interrupted. “Odd thing, though.”

I waited, tense with dread.

“Those other heads? They’re still missing.”

And inside my head, something screamed.

10 Comments

Filed under just for fun

Flash non-fiction: An Unexpected Guest

Chuck Wendig issued another Flash Fiction challenge last Friday: to write about An Unexpected Guest. I wasn’t planning to participate this time because I’ve been busy writing and also doing a non-fic beta read for a friend. But I kept thinking about a post I wrote several years ago — about a time when I had an unexpected guest. And I wanted to re-post it. But it felt like cheating because it’s not fiction, plus it’s 50 words over the 1000-word limit. But it kept nagging at the back of my mind. Then I figured, what the hell, I’m not one to follow rules anyway.

So here it is, again, with its original title. Let me know in the comments about a time when you had unexpected company. Did it end well? Did they ever come back? Did you end up utilizing shovels and a black tarp by moonlight in the back yard?

Tis the Season . . . for Company

I’m probably not the only one who has ever rolled her eyes and groaned at the thought of having out-of-town company, but it’s not always a bad thing. For instance, I’m convinced the only time my house is really clean is just before overnight guests arrive. But why do they always want to talk to you? Isn’t it enough that you’ve supplied clean towels and fresh fruit? Apparently not. They invariably turn on the TV at top volume and settle in for a long chat. Why don’t they ever want to just sit quietly and read for a while?

Of course, there are the horror stories. My mother-in-law was a lovely person, but nothing could summon a sense of dread quite like hearing her say, “Don’t worry about me while you’re at work, I’ll find something to do.” Like the time she did laundry and down-sized three pair of pants and a favorite sweater. Or when she threw away my potato peeler and bought a new one that “worked.” Ahem. I’m left-handed, that peeler worked great. And the time she informed me — after I shopped for all her favorite meat-and-potato meals and had a roast in the oven — that she and my father-in-law had switched to a low-fat, low-cholesterol, no carb diet.

There are those too infrequent visits from my mom, which summon not dread but gratitude — with just a smidgen of guilt. Like the time I came home from work and she said, “I noticed you had a few apples on the bottom shelf of the fridge so I made a batch of apple-cinnamon muffins.” Delicious. Thanks, mom. Or, “Well, I was a little bored, here alone all day, so I washed all the inside window panes.” Above and beyond, mom. Thank you. Or, “Your daughter and I had the best time after school today with her homework project, constructing a scale model of the Coliseum out of toothpicks.” There truly aren’t enough words. Thank you for saving me from that agony.

There’s the sister who visited recently and we had a great time and she managed to leave while we both still wanted her to stay. Incredible timing. It doesn’t always work that way with sisters.

There are the old college friends in town for one night, with whom you talk awkwardly about old times, painfully conscious of how much you all have changed and how seldom you ever think about old times.

There’s the company who makes you want to count the dishes after they leave — not because you think they stole anything, but because you need to know how many dirty plates and cups they left sitting in various odd locations throughout the house.

And then there is the company that comes out of nowhere, with no warning. Last week I got a call from my daughter the day I was to pick her up from college for Thanksgiving break.

“Mom, can you give Susie [not her name] a ride home, too?”

“Sure, no problem.” It was 38 degrees and raining. I was sure her mom would appreciate not having to go out in that.

“And can she maybe spend the night?”

“Yeah, that’s fine.” After all, Susie’s mom lives 15 minutes away from my house and the less time spent driving that cold rainy night, the better.

“And, um, maybe would it be ok if she spent the weekend, too?”

“What?”

“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later, ok? But can she? Spend the weekend? If she needs to?”

“Well, of course, but–” What?

Incredibly, Susie’s mom had told her it would be best if she found another place to stay Thanksgiving weekend. Let me clarify something here. Susie and my daughter have been friends for more than six years. Susie is smart, cheerful, funny and loving. She has a smile that could light up three square city blocks. I’ve helped her get ready for prom, told her when she went overboard with makeup and even curled her hair, for godsakes. This is not a bad kid. I can not imagine her doing anything that would make her mother ban her from home.

So I was stunned.

Wednesday night I found myself sitting on the couch watching football with Susie while my daughter escaped to her room for a private phone conversation with her sort-of boyfriend. And Susie turned to me and said, “I just don’t know what to do about my mom.” And I heard her side of the story.

I’ll be the first to tell you, my kids are far from perfect. They have on occasion caused me to feel extremes of anger, sadness, hurt and disappointment. But I know, way down deep in that unconditional place where mothers know these things, that there is nothing they could do or say that would ever make me tell them they could not come home. So it doesn’t even matter to me what Susie might have done, there is just no excuse for this banishment. Do I sound judgmental and full of condemnation? Imagine that.

Seeing the hurt and confusion on that sweet face, hearing the vulnerability in her voice just broke my heart. And hearing her thank me repeatedly while in the same breath she apologizes for the “inconvenience” of me having to take her in this weekend makes me see red.

Unfortunately, I know her mom well enough to make conversation, but not well enough to call and ask what the hell she thinks she’s doing. Plus I’ve learned that the best intentions are usually the worst reason for doing anything.

When there is nothing you can do, you need to do something else. So today the kids will rake some leaves. If that isn’t penance enough for imagined sins, on Sunday they will help me bake Christmas cookies. I’ll probably force them to eat a few, maybe even insist they take some back to school. That should erase any lingering guilt about accepting impromptu hospitality.

Company. The good, the bad and the can’t-wait-til-they-leave. I thought I’d seen it all. Until this weekend brought a new kind, one not previously encountered. The kind you want to hold close and comfort and yet, at the same time, the kind you hope you never need to entertain, ever again.

4 Comments

Filed under parenting

Drinking games and other stiff shots

I’ve got my head down in what I hope are final edits and it’s possible I might not be posting over here at all lately if it weren’t for that Random Blog Topic Generator Known As Chuck Wendig. If you’re feeling appreciative of these short bursts of creative nonsense, go read his blog. Better still, go buy his new book, Irregular Creatures. I’ve haven’t read it yet but it’s loaded onto my kindle and I have a feeling it’s one of the weirdest and most intriguing compilations of short fiction ever known to man or beast. Just a hunch.

This week’s flash fiction challenge was to write a 500-word story with the title, but not necessarily the topic, being the name of a cocktail:

Tom Collins

“Most of us claimed we never saw it coming, but then most of us were bald-faced liars. We were young and so very full of ourselves, that summer. The summer old Ms. Farley finally went to meet her maker and a new family moved to town, settling into her narrow two-story house as if there were no such things as ghosts. But it wasn’t ghosts killed that boy. It was us.”

The woman paused and focused her rheumy eyes on the eager young man taking notes. “You bring it?”

He nodded and reached down into his backpack. “Wait,” she said, casting a furtive look around the industrial fluorescent-lit common area. “These people are determined we’ll die bored and healthy. Okay, give.”

He did and she tucked the giant-size bag of M&Ms under the blanket covering her lap. She settled into contemplative silence and he prompted her, “Thomas Collins?”

“Tom Collins. Who the hell names their boy after a sweet fruity cocktail? Might as well have called him Mimosa. Tom was different in a way that fit his namesake. Sweet and fruity. We’d never seen the like, so of course we mocked it. Oh, we were cruel, make no mistake.”

“He was gay?”

“I don’t imagine even Tom knew the answer to that, but he might as well have been, far as we were concerned. We judged and convicted him of being ‘different’ and punished him with all the heady righteous certainty of youth. Drunk on our own power, we were, like a beautiful young girl seducing her first married man.”

“You were young–”

“No. Don’t excuse it. You want to tell this story, you tell the truth. We were vicious predators, defending our insecurities. Tom was an easy target, with his awkward manner and coke bottle glasses. We looked at his hesitant limping gait and uncombed hair and two ratty changes of clothing and saw everything we feared. We saw our own potential for vulnerability and we destroyed it. Destroyed him.”

“Police report called it suicide.”

“Report,” she scoffed. “Does the report say how his parents barely spoke English? That they couldn’t afford new clothes or shoes that fit? Does it say anything at all about struggle and sacrifice and suffering? Or does it just list facts?”

The reporter glanced away and back, had no answer.

“Yes, Tom hung himself. But first he took off his shoes. Those are the facts I live with.”

With that, the old woman set her mouth in a hard thin line and turned to look out the window. The interview was at an end.

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said as he packed up his notes. “Enjoy your chocolate.”

“Chocolate.” Her tone was impatient, dismissive. “Can’t stand the damned stuff.”

He watched as she maneuvered her wheelchair from the room. If he hadn’t been paying attention, he’d have missed the hand-off to the man with uncombed hair slapping down trembling cards in a disordered game of solitaire at the far table.

____________________________________

Tom Collins Recipe, the posting of which garners mysterious specious bonus points (valid at some future date for merchandise not yet invented)

2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar
3 oz club soda
1 maraschino cherry
1 slice orange
In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a collins glass almost filled with ice cubes. Add the club soda. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.

 

Note: I don’t like sweet drinks, but even if I did, that episode back in high school involving too much gin and lemonade on an empty stomach in a very short period of time pretty much guar-an-damn-tees I’ll never drink gin again. Ever.

9 Comments

Filed under just for fun

The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written

Truly, this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written. Once again, the Emmy nominated (he pays us to say that) snarly-bearded word demon sometimes known as Chuck Wendig has issued a Flash Fiction challenge. He calls it Baby Pulp. Or Baby Noir. Yes, pulp/noir fiction featuring babies, for godsakes. Because his wife is hugely pregnant and he has babies on the brain. As if that somehow makes up for her having a baby in her belly. I’m not entirely convinced he’s going to survive to see his spawn.

I’ve never read “pulp” fiction but I gather it’s an over-the-top escapist fantasy type of thing that originated back in the early 1900’s when magazines were printed on cheap pulp paper and contained lurid stories with larger than life heroes who rescued gorgeous dames from evil villains. Sort of like the “Guy Noir” episodes on Prairie Home Companion. I think. The language is, um, different and it took a bit longer to write tonight than the last one. Especially since my mom called in the middle of it and I couldn’t exactly say, “Sorry, Mom. Can’t talk now. Writing baby pulp.” Sigh.

I swear I’m going to stop reading that man’s blog.

Just under 800 words this time. Here it is:

Some sick perp was busting preemies out of their incubators before they were fully cooked and someone had to put a stop to it. Since I’d been here the longest, going on seven weeks now, I figured that someone was me.

Who am I? The tag on the plastic crib says Richard W. Hollings, III, but all the crepe-soled dames call me Rick. And I’m the biggest baddest preemie on the 10th floor.

One of the do-gooder apples in this bushel basket of a hospital had gone bad. Worm infested and rotten to the core bad. Could be a nurse or a doc or even one of the lab rats who were all the time running their sadistic tests. They all had access. But my eyes had finally started to focus week before last. I had my suspicions.

Three nights ago they nabbed that cute doll with the flaxen peach fuzz hair and big baby blues. They told the parents she hadn’t survived the night, but I saw the shadowy figures making the switch just before my 3:00 AM feeding. I heard them talking as they swaddled the poor wee stiff they left behind. Bold as brass they were, carrying on as if none of us could hear them.

“Are you sure it’s a close enough match?”

“They’ll be so grief stricken they’ll never notice. ”

“This one will fetch a good price.”

The filthy bastards.

We’d gotten a new arrival today and she was a looker. Soft black curls, pink rosebud mouth and gams that you could tell were one day going to make a man sweat. The whole staff made a big deal over her, but one of them seemed a little too interested, if you get my drift.

They called her Samantha, but I knew she was Sam. I figured she was marked as the next vic. And I had a plan.

I didn’t have much time. My parents were due to spring me from the joint day after tomorrow. But Sam just had a mild case of jaundice and already she was hooked up with the goggles and special lights. I knew these goons would make their move soon.

I watched, eagle-eyed as the staff performed the familiar laconic dance of their late night shift change. Amateurs always pull a heist at night, when no one is around. They think darkness is their friend. But there’s less cover and fewer distractions at night. And no chance at all of disappearing into a crowd.

There he was, the doc with the eye twitch and thousand dollar loafers. Making his rounds. With the blowsy big-haired nurse who paid more attention to him than to her patients.

Like I said, amateurs.

They stopped at Sam’s bassinet, just a couple feet away from mine.

“This one is perfect. Fits the latest order to a T.”

“She’ll bring us a fortune.”

The nurse pulled a bundle out from under her ill-fitting uniform and handed it to the doc. “Quick, make the switch before she wakes up.”

I’d been saving up all day. And I’d long ago perfected my aim on the sour-faced old biddy who always fastened my diapers too tight. I wriggled my way free and let loose with a prodigious stinking stream that soaked the backs of the black-hearted miscreants.

Their cries of surprise and dismay were nothing compared to the screams of outrage powered by my formerly underdeveloped lungs. My pals Ryan and Scott and Jessica chimed in, right on cue. Soon the entire nursery was pulsing with the mighty red rage of babies defending one of their own.

The rest of the staff rushed in and Maggie, my favourite night nurse, the one who sometimes sang to me back in the days when my head was the size of an orange, shrieked when she spotted the partially unwrapped bundle in the clutches of her evil colleague.

“What are you doing with a dead baby in the nursery?!” Maggie has a lovely soft singing voice, but the woman knows how to project when it counts.

It took a while for them to calm everyone down, even after security came and hauled away the twitchy doc and his smarmy nurse. The orderly grumbled as he cleaned up my mess and my diaper was once again too tight. But I didn’t care.

Sam had managed to push the goggles up on her forehead and was staring at me with her melted-chocolate brown eyes. And I swear, just before they turned the lights down low, she smiled at me.

Some might say it was gas. But I’ve been up and down these sterile halls and around the corner to the vending machine a time or two and I know better.

Someday, kid. You and me.

24 Comments

Filed under just for fun