Posted in The Writing Corner, Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesday – A Year of Butterflies

img_1375

It was right after her grandmother passed away. That’s when she began to notice the butterflies. They were everywhere she looked.

Over by the kittens’ house, there abounded a kaleidoscope of blue butterflies. Red-spotted purple butterflies they were called, but they were actually beautiful shades of blue with a a few orange-looking spots near the top tips of their wings. The dotted lines that spanned around the edges of their wings made them look like cutouts from a child’s coloring book. Beautiful flying creatures that God had cut out of the clouds and gently sent off his hand to flutter down to comfort her.

red-tipped purple butterfly

Down by the swimming pool, she saw yellow butterflies. Pure yellow with maybe a few little orange markings on them that she couldn’t see unless she held still enough for one to land close to her where her wide eyes would gaze upon its papery thin, lemony yellow wings. Cloudless sulphurs.

cloudless sulphur butterfly

Someone once told her that seeing yellow butterflies meant the spirit of a deceased love one was near. She didn’t know, but it was a lovely thought. A yellow butterfly greeted her down by the pool every day that summer. It’d flit back and forth over the pool as she floated atop the crystal clear water on her pink floatie, gazing up at the clouds through her sunglasses, daydreaming of days gone by and things to come in the afterlife. She knew it likely wasn’t the same butterfly every day. The average lifespan of a butterfly was only a month, but she liked to believe that for that month it was the same one – a kindred spirit that’d taken a fancy to her and checked up on  her every day. Hello, my dear friend. How are you holding up today? 

Once it even shared her floatie with her. Landing gently by her foot, it perched and floated along for the span of a minute or two before fluttering prettily along its way. She didn’t feel so alone in those minutes, and her heart was lightened. Thank you, my dear friend.

Flitting about the rest of the yard, she observed orange and yellow monarchs with their beautiful contrast of bright colors amidst their dark outlines. Had there always been this many butterflies across the yard every summer, or was she just now taking notice of them?

When her birthday rolled around, one of her dearest friends from across the country sent her stationary decorated with beautiful images of butterflies along with some 3D butterfly stickers. She loved to watch the wings of the stickers flutter, as if a real butterfly had landed upon her page.

Butterflies…

Posted in The Writing Corner, Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesday – Trixie Gets a Sister

img_0869

Trixie’s ears perked up as she heard the slamming of something outside. She’d bet her last bone it was her humans back from wherever they’d been. She stood, gave a long yawn and took a luxurious stretch on the rug she’d been laying on in the kitchen while she’d waited for them to return.

Her tail gave an expectant wag as she stood still, ears perked, listening for the sound of footfalls coming up the steps of the porch on the other side of the door. Yep. There they were. She heard them clomping up the steps and talking.

“Just wait until Trixie sees,” the mom said. Wait until she sees what? Oh boy. Trixie’s tail began to wag more. Maybe they’d bought her a new kind of treat.

“Oh my gosh, I wonder what she’s gonna do,” Trixie heard the daughter say. What’d she mean what was she gonna do? She was going to eat whatever it was.

“Y’all let me see Trix first.” Her tag wagged emphatically at the sound of her name coming from her favorite human’s voice. Trixie was touched that he wanted to see her before anyone else. She felt that way too.

Just then the door opened, and there he was. Trixie jumped up and down, barking at him enthusiastically to let him know just how much she’d missed him. He scooped her up in his arms and started petting her, telling her what a good girl she was. Yes, I know all that. Now where’s the new treats? She peeked over his shoulder to look back at the two female humans and then stilled at what she saw.

Instead of a bag from the store, in the daughter’s arms was something that looked like…Wait a minute…was that fur? As if in answer, the bundle stirred and gave a soft “yip.”

Trixie sniffed the air, and her suspicions were confirmed. Another animal. No, not just another animal. Another dog. Her heart dropped within her. Why had her humans gotten another dog? Were they replacing her? Had she done something wrong?

She put her paw on her favorite human’s shoulder and reared back to peer into his face, looking for answers. How could you? 

She began kicking to be set down on the floor, and he obliged while saying soothingly, “Now, look, Trixie. It’s just another puppy. We still love you.”

The daughter walked towards her, holding the black fur out to her. Trixie saw the creature’s eyes looking at her curiously, and she reared back as its scent assaulted her. Stinky thing. It certainly did not have the good, clean dog smell that Trixie so prided herself on. “Trixie,” the daughter said proudly, “meet Mixie.”

Trixie jerked her head back around. Mixie? What? They gave this mutt a name almost just like hers? The daughter held the black furball out more, moving her closer to Trixie, and Trixie voiced her displeasure with a low growl.

“Aw, come on, Trix,” the daughter pleaded. “Don’t be like that.” Trixie growled again, lower this time. It was bad enough they brought that thing into her domain, but to give it a name so similar to hers? Talk about adding insult to injury. Trixie didn’t know what the insipid human expected her to do with the pup, but she swore if she put that thing close to her again, she was going to…

“Okay, that’s enough,” the male human said, moving to take the black fur from his daughter’s arms. She watched as the pup reached up to lick his cheeks.

That did it! Trixie turned tail and went underneath the table where she laid down and glared out at the four of them. They began to beg and plead with her to come out. No, no. They’d made their choice. She wasn’t enough for them. They had to bring in an intruder. Well, she was having none of it, especially after her male human had let that impostor lick him when she herself hadn’t even done so yet.

Trixie cut her eyes as she sized it up. What was it anyway? It wasn’t any sort of breed she recognized. Certainly not of the royal Pomeranian line she came from. I mean, look at its fur – if  you could even call that matted up mess fur. It didn’t look fluffy like Trixie’s, and Trixie bet it wasn’t as luxuriously soft as hers either. Its fur hung limply down its back in straight lines. It looked more like human hair than animal fur. Trixie wrinkled her nose as she was assaulted by its smell again. Putrid. Trixie didn’t know where they’d gotten this thing, but it was going to stink up the whole house with its revolting scent. None of them would be able to stand living there after long.

The daughter placed it on the floor and oohed and ahhed over it as it pitter-pattered around on its tiny paws. So it could walk. Big deal. Trixie fumed.

“Who’s the cutest little yorkiepoo in the world? You are! You are!” the daughter crooned to it.

Trixie thought she was going to be sick, and then her brows furrowed as what the human called it registered. Yorkiepoo? Yorkiepoo! She was right then! It was a mutt! A filthy half-breed. Trixie narrowed her eyes as she thought of ways to eliminate the intrusion on her happy life. There was only room for one dog in this house, and that dog was going to be her.

“Come on, Trix,” the daughter tried again to supplicate to her. “She’s your new sister.”

Sister? Sister! Trixie ran out from under the table barking furiously. That mutt would never be related to her. To even suggest that it was on the same level as her was ludicrous! It didn’t even have a pedigree for crying out loud!

The puppy started skipping up to Trixie, it’s tongue hanging out of its mouth stupidly. Before it reached her, the daughter grabbed the mutt up in her arms and held it to her chest while the stupid thing tried to get down. Trixie guessed the human was afraid she’d bite the dumb mutt, and good thing she’d grabbed her because Trixie just might have.

She watched the pup continue to struggle to get down. Moron. The stupid mutt obviously didn’t realize yet that Trixie hated it. That was okay.  Give them time to make their proper introductions, and she’d make  her intentions known.

“I think we need to just give her some time and some space,” the mother human said.

Trixie huffed. They could give her all the time and space in the world. That mutt would never be her sister. In fact, she decided that from that moment on she would refuse to acknowledge the mutt’s existence. She wouldn’t get anywhere near it or have anything to do with it. To heck with introductions. She wouldn’t speak to it. She’d simply act like it didn’t exist, and she wouldn’t be the same happy dog that her humans were used to either. She knew they liked for her to wag her tail and be a good girl, but until they got rid of that mutt, she was going to ignore them all.

They would have to make a choice. It was her or the mutt. Let the games begin.

Posted in The Writing Corner, Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesday – Trixie’s Family Comes Home

img_0742

Trixie laid on the soft kitchen mat where she could keep an eye on the backdoor her family always returned home through. She hated when they left because she never knew how long there were going to be gone. She glanced over at her food and water bowls. She had plenty of sustenance to last her a few days, especially when she found it hard to eat much when she was filled with worry. She didn’t understand why her humans couldn’t just stay in their home with her where she could keep an eye on them and make sure they were safe.

She inwardly fumed at their insensitivity. How dare they leave her here all alone this long! She had no idea how long they’d been gone, but it seemed like forever. Okay, she knew it hadn’t even been a full day because she could tell by her biological clock that it wasn’t nightfall yet, but still. The point remained. She had no lap to lay in, and they knew she slept better when she was warm and curled up with one of her pack.

She stared at the door forlornly. She wasn’t going to forgive them for a while this time. When they walked in that door, they’d get no enthusiastic greeting from her. No wagging tails. No jumping up and down. She’d look at them, stick her snout in the air and present them with her tail as she walked away. It would serve them right and would let them know in no uncertain terms just how she felt about being left alone so long. They’d have to come to her, begging her affections back. Maybe after they coaxed her with a treat or two she’d relent. Her mouth watered at the prospect. She hoped they had plenty of those Little Caesar treats she loved left. Small, soft and meaty, those things were delicious. She wished they’d just fill her food bowl with those instead of those dry balls of dirt they called kibble.

Click. Trixie’s fluffy, cinnamon-colored ears perked up. She heard the doorknob turn and stood to her paws. Her tail gave a wag, and she caught herself. No. She said she wasn’t going to show excitement.

She heard the whoosh of the door as it was pushed open and counted her humans. One, two, three. Her tail began to wag with abandon. Oh, who was she kidding? She couldn’t stay mad at them when she was so happy they were okay. She ran over to them and began jumping up and down, barking. Hey, just because she was so happy to see them didn’t mean that she couldn’t give them a good chewing out for leaving her alone for so long.

Her humans laughed, and her favorite one, the male, scooped her up in his arms. She planted licks all over his face while he walked them to their chair. It was her favorite spot in the whole house. Her male human would sit there, and she’d sit on his lap. He’d watch some box called “the TV” (She had no idea why humans were so enamored with that box. She looked at it sometimes, but for the most part it was boring. Most of the time it just showed a bunch of super tiny humans moving around on it, but sometimes it showed other animals, which Trixie found curious. How did they get in the little box? It confused her to say the least, so she chose to ignore it. Besides, she had more important things to do.) while she napped and kept watch for intruders.

Her second favorite human, the male one’s mate, walked over to the cabinet where Trixie knew her treats were kept. She stood up on her human’s thigh and wagged her tail. Could it be? Yep, the female human turned around and said the words she longed to hear, “Trixie, want a treat?”

Trixie gave a jump and barked. Her favorite human winced as she jumped on his leg. Oops. She turned and placed a paw on his chest and she reached up to give his cheek a lick. Sorry. He patted her head, letting her know all was forgiven.

She turned back around to her other human holding out a couple of the tasty little treats she’d been dreaming about earlier. She gingerly took one in her mouth, laid it on her human’s knee and then took the other proffered treat and did likewise. Then she settled down to savor the little morsels. Trixie refused to scarf them down like some common mutt. After all, she did have a pedigree.

As she munched (Mmm…delicious. They were a mixture of chicken and something else she couldn’t identify. Heavenly…), she glanced over at the third human. The younger one, the offspring of the other two. She walked up and patted Trixie on the head. Trixie accepted the recognition graciously even though she was chewing. She looked up at the curly-furred human and gave a couple tail wags before turning her attention back to her treats.

All her humans were home, and she had treats. Life was good again.

Posted in The Writing Corner, Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesday – The Yellow Butterfly

img_0580

Tears stung her eyes as she floated around the pool, the floatie leaving soft ripples in its wake. She gazed up at the robin’s egg blue sky dotted only by a few cottony clouds. The sun shone down upon her exposed skin, kissing her with warmth and making the droplets of water glisten. Yet despite the warmth of the beautiful summer day, she felt cold inside.

Her chest felt tight as memories of other summer days when the sky looked just like this assaulted her. The treetops swayed just so, the same tempo they’d exhibited so many years ago when those who’d passed on where still living. The feeling in the air was the same, and yet it wasn’t. There was no way to describe it but bittersweet nostalgia and saudade.

She wondered about where they were now. It pained her to think that they had merely faded into a state of nonexistence. Surely there was something more. A heaven, perhaps, where there was joy and peace forevermore. She liked to think that, but sometimes doubt crept in, tormenting her.

A lump gathered in her throat. She couldn’t breathe. Although she was floating atop the water, she was drowning – drowning deep inside the depths of her soul that was muddled with confusion and pain.

Please…show me a sign…something to let me know that they are okay, that there’s something after this life. The plea ran through her mind unbidden, torn from her bleeding heart.

She took a deep breath, willing herself to breathe, to calm, and opened her eyes. There in her peripheral vision was a brilliant yellow butterfly the likes of which she’d never seen ’round these parts before. It flitted over in a zigzag to hover directly above her in her direct line of vision, fluttering steadily in place, as if it had paused to look down at her.

She stilled and stared up at it – its bright yellow wings unmarred by any other color or markings she could see. The seconds ticked by until in the strangest phenomenon, it swooped down directly in front of her eyes for just a millisecond before rising up and fluttering away across the yard.

She floated in a stunned silence, contemplating the strange appearance of the yellow butterfly. When a yellow butterfly appears, a deceased loved one is near.

A soft smile lit her face. Coincidence? Perhaps, but she had just enough hope to believe the odd yellow butterfly was the sign she’d so desperately prayed for. The lump in her throat subsided, and peace filled her soul again as she was filled with a rekindled faith. Thank you, her mind whispered to the divine source that had sent the fluttering of hope.

Posted in The Writing Corner, Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesday – The Masked Calico

In an effort to vary up the writing on this blog a bit, I’m launching what I’ve dubbed Writing Wednesdays. As the name implies, these are short writings that I’ll submit on Wednesdays (when my time commitments allow, that is). They’ll typically be short stories that will vary in nature, and I might occasionally include excerpts from my books. Anyway, on to the first one…

img_0401

A male calico crouched in the bushes where he peered out at two white kittens. Brothers. They were jumping and rolling, tails swishing in their playful frolicking. The calico noted their crystal blue eyes and unmarred fur, as white as the driven snow. Their bright coats stood out in stark contrast to his dark patches, and he sneered (well, as much as a cat could sneer). Good luck blending into the grass with that fur, he thought.

In contrast, his fur consisted of beautiful patches of gold, cream, brown and black, and his eyes were a startling shade of gold. Fortunately, he possessed more black than any other color, and one entire side of his face was covered in black, giving the appearance that he was wearing a mask. As a male calico, he was a rarity of his breed. Only 1 in 3,000 calicoes were males, and he happened to be one of the chosen ones – an honor he didn’t take lightly.

He watched the kittens run up the wooden porch that led to the humans’ dwelling. One brother pounced on the other, effectively knocking the tackled brother off the porch. Clumsy. He wasn’t many months older than these kittens, and he already knew how to fend for himself.

Of course, he’d been born in the wild. Instilled in him from birth were the ways of survival. He’d had to claw his way through life (literally), but not too long ago, he’d landed a sweet deal here near where these humans dwelt. They frequently threw out tasty morsels of food (wasteful creatures, humans), and plenty of mice congregated near their dwelling, so he’d set up his own dwelling in an old shed out back. The humans here didn’t bother him.  He knew at least one of them had seen him before, but they didn’t try to catch him and trap him. Still, he kept his distance.

Now here were these whippersnappers running right up to where the humans lived. Didn’t they know they were supposed to sneak up and look for scraps with stealth? He shook his head.

Just as he moved a paw to step out from his covering and school the kittens in the ways of the world, he saw the door open. Uh-oh. Human. He quickly pulled his paw back and retreated further into the bushes. Just to be safe.

The human with the thick, curly mane of fur on its head stepped out and crouched down. “Tom, Jerry, what are you two up to?” she crooned at the little blue-eyed kittens. To his horror, the kittens ran right up to the human, rubbing their entire bodies along its ankles, purring. Shameful behavior. The human laughed, a light, tinkling sound, and scooped them up in her arms where they vied for her affections, rubbing their heads along her chin.

Cats with names. No respectable cat went by a name. The calico had no name. If anything, he was simply referred to as the masked calico, but cats didn’t needs names. They went by their senses. Cats knew one another by their scents. That’s when he realized what the two little white, blue-eyed kittens were. House cats. Even if they didn’t live in the house, house cats were any cats that threw their lot in with humans, allowing humans to run their paws along their bodies and submitting to all kinds of handling – and purring throughout the entire awful experience no less!

There was no way the masked calico would ever allow a human to touch his fur. It was just unnatural.

He continued to watch the exchange between the kittens and human. She ran her paws from the tops of their heads down to the tips of their tails while they arched up into her paws like…well, he didn’t want to say what they looked like. Suffice it to say their behavior was disgraceful.

When they finally rolled over onto their backs, exposing their underbellies to the human, the masked calico had to look away in disgust. Just like dogs. These kittens had obviously never been instructed in the ways of feral etiquette. There they were exposing their most vulnerable spots to the human! All it would take is one bite or one swipe of its paw, and there they’d be.

When he turned his head back, his eyes widened. What was this? He watched as the human crouched down and placed bowls in front of each of the kittens. He could smell the contents all the way across the yard…

The human was giving them food! And they didn’t have to sneak up to get it! Soooo…that’s why they submitted to all the handling. The masked calico’s tummy rumbled with hunger. Sure looks good…maybe those kittens are onto something…

No. He shook his head as if to clear it. That’s how they draw you in. He knew better than to trust a human. The last one he’d let touch him had caged him up for days until he’d finally outwitted it and broken free. No. Never again. No matter how hungry he got.

He laid down on the grass, still watching the scene played out before him. He’d wait for his scraps like usual. No need to get greedy and risk his freedom. He’d rather go hungry than live in a cage.

He watched the human stand back up from her crouched position. She tossed her mane over her shoulders and looked in his direction. He sat very still. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought she’d spotted him. He started to bolt, but then he relaxed as she went into her dwelling.

He’d just relaxed again when a moment later she reappeared with another bowl of food. The masked calico eyed her warily from his position in the bushes. He was sure she saw him, and he tensed his haunches in case he’d have to make a run for it.

The corners of her mouth lifted up, and she walked very slowly towards him. Was she stalking him? He really didn’t understand the ways of humans. They were odd creatures to say the least. For instance, why didn’t they walk on all their paws? They could run so much faster if they would.

Now he knew for sure that she’d seen him, so he dropped all pretenses of hiding and stood up, still taut and slightly crouched. She stilled in response and then crooned to him, “Hey, kitty. I’m not gonna hurt you. Just brought you some food.”

He watched as she kept her eyes on him and slowly lowered the bowl to the ground. He crouched lower and considered growling, but didn’t, saving it. He was going to have to bolt. He just knew it.

But in a surprise move the human backed away. Again, slowly – just like she’d come. He blinked. She kept her eyes on him until she’d taken several steps backwards, and then the most miraculous thing happened. She rose to her full height, turned and walked back into the dwelling.

The masked calico continued to half-sit/half-stand in his crouched position. Was that is? She was gone? No trying to catch him? He waited what seemed forever before he finally relaxed. Did the human just give him food without asking for anything in return? He put a cautionary paw forward and looked around to make sure it wasn’t a trap. Another paw. And then another. It seemed the coast was clear, so he made his way to the food bowl and took a bite.

Heaven. It was meat! Oftentimes the humans threw out mixtures of plants. He was lucky to find a scrap of meat in the mixtures sometimes, but this…this was pure meat!

He sat before the bowl and dug in, savoring the life-sustaining taste, and despite himself, he purred. Maybe humans weren’t half bad