Espresso

           “Emily, your lover the professor is here,” Amy sang out.

Emily’s popped up from where she was focusing on restocking the teas to see the tall lanky frame of her favorite customer. Today he was in check slacks and brown jacket with actual leather elbow patches, adorable. His brown hair was messy and his briefcase had bits of paper sticking out of it.

“He looks frazzled,” Amy remarked, serving black coffee to grumpy customers.

Emily ignored her. She was busy making her professor a double espresso.

“Jake!” she called and held her breath.

Her professor’s eyes slowly came to life as he smiled brilliantly at her. He took the cup she placed on the counter. Their fingers grazed one another over the cup. Emily’s heart raced.  Normally the tips of his ears would turn pink, he would keep smiling and beat a hasty retreat without saying a word. Emily would hum happily for hours afterward. Brian and Amy would laugh at her insisting she had scared him off but not today.

He opened his mouth to speak. Emily stopped breathing. He worked his jaw a few times and managed a breathy, “Thanks, Emily.”

Emily let out her breath in a whoosh as he slipped out of the coffee shop.

“He spoke!” Amy shouted startling Mrs. Clayton who came in every morning for an English Breakfast. “Hey, Brian! The professor spoke!”

Brian popped out from the kitchen covered in flower. “Emily’s Professor?? What did he say?”

“Thanks, Emily,” Amy repeated.

“He knows her name? It’s only been a year?” Brian said as an alarm went off in the kitchen. “BREAKFAST SANDWICHES ARE UP!”

A ragged cheer came from the line. Emily turned back to Amy. “It’s been a year?”

Amy nodded. Emily sighed. “A whole year?”

 ❤ ❤ ❤

“I talked to her today,” Jake said.

Diane stopped organizing her boss to gawp at him. “Coffee Shop Girl?You did? Did you ask her out?”

Jake flopped into his leather chair. “She uh, called out my name and I ahem, I ah, thanked her for the espresso by her name.”

Diane sighed in desperation. Her boss was a certified genius but he was painfully shy. “At this rate, you’ll be married in one hundred years. How did she react?”

Jake turned a brilliant shade of red. “I sort of… I um…”

“You ran away?”

“Maybe.”

“I love working for you,” she muttered. “But I can’t take this anymore. You go there every day. She makes you a drink; you come here to tell me how much you love her, and then you NEVER ASK HER OUT.”

Jake sighed. “She’s beautiful.”

“Oh, I know,” Diane remarked. “But enough is enough. Either go ask her out after work or I go in the morning and tell her I’m your girlfriend.”

Jake blanched. “What? No, you wouldn’t do that to me.”

“Damn right, I would. I will. You have twenty-four hours.” It was cruel. It was necessary. Jake needed a push.

❤ ❤ ❤

Emily wiped the tables down, humming to herself. Amy had gone to lunch and Emily was glad for the reprieve. Amy hadn’t stopped teasing her about her professor since he had first walked into the coffee shop and ordered his first espresso. Emily had remembered him, his name, and his drink. He hadn’t ever needed to speak. His smiles had been enough. But he had a nice warm baritone and Emily would have loved to hear a full sentence.

Someone cleared their throat behind her. Emily spun to face the customer ready to explain the difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino. Her professor stood there looking extra frazzled. His large dark chocolate eyes brimmed with emotion, although half those emotions seemed related to panic. He tried to speak for a few seconds before he started to retreat. Emily panicked and reached out to catch his arm. His eyes widened, flicking from her face to where she was touching him. He swallowed.

“Emily,” he began in a funny high pitched tone. He coughed and tried again. “Emily, I ah, don’t like espresso.”

“What?”

He grimaced. “No, I did that wrong. Emily, I don’t like espressos, I like you.”

Emily didn’t know what to say. Luckily, once started, her professorcouldn’t be stopped.    “I’ve been coming in here every morning for a year to get a drink from you that I don’t like because I can’t get enough of your smile. So if you don’t feel the need to call the police, wouldyouliketogetadrinkwithme?”

“Yes! She says yes,” Brian shouted from the kitchen.

Jake’s grin was blinding. “Tonight? I know it is short notice. Only I’ve wasted so much time being timid, I don’t know when I’ll get the courage to ask again.”

“Yes, I’m free after six,” Emily told him shyly, still holding onto his arm.

“Okay, great, okay,” Jake stammered. “Great.”

He moved away and right before he broke contact, she said his name softly. When he turned to face him, she reached up and pressed a kiss to his lips. He froze long enough for Emily to panic but before she could pull away his warm, strong arms had looped around her waist, securing her to him. The soft scent of his cologne surrounded her. His lips were warm against hers, as responded to the kiss. Pressing her luck, Emily deepened the kiss, exploring her professor’s mouth. Kissing him was like sinking slowly into a warm bath.

She broke the kiss to see his eyes slowly flutter open, his skin flushed and pupils were blown wide. Emily’s heart was racing. She glanced away. Embarrassed she had kissed him at work. Amy had reappeared and made it worse by clapping.

“So six?” he asked voice squeaky.

Emily nodded and he surged forward to kiss her again. His hands cradled her back and he kissed her with an intensity that sent shivers down her spine and left her fingers and toes tingling. Amy snorted. Emily pulled back, her face flushed.

“I’m sorry I made you drink all those espressos,” Emily told him.

He laughed. “I’m not.”

The End.

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Green Eyes

Eli’s eyes popped open. A skittering sound had dragged him up from the darkness to peer at the leftover glow-in-the-dark stars on his ceiling in confusion. Blinking sleep out of his eyes, he struggled to free himself from tangled bed sheets and ended up slipping off the bed to crash into hardwood floors. Stilling, he listened to the quiet house and the comforting snores of his grandmother down the hall. The woman was a terror. Waking her from her well earned ‘beauty sleep’ would have earned him a tirade. The skittering sound repeated as his phone lit up.

Crawling to the nightstand, kicking his way loose, he snatched his phone off of it and spotted Isaiah’s name. He answered, “Izzy, my grandma is sleeping. Are you trying to get me murdered?”

“Come with me to the beach,” Isaiah said, his rich baritone shaking and breathy in Eli’s ear.

Eli ran a hand over his face. “I’m already grounded for going to the movie with you. Izzy, I get in trouble again and we’ll never see each other again.”

“Eli, we’re never going to see each other again, anyway. Not after tonight,” Isaiah replied.

Eli’s blood ran cold. In seconds he was hopping back into last night’s jeans, stumbling to the window and popping it open. Cool salt-laden air hit him in the face. Isaiah stood in the spotlight created by the street light. He had a rucksack and his posture was unnaturally stiff as he waved. Eli pulled on a light jacket while jamming his wallet into the jeans and stepping into his flip flops. He couldn’t risk the stairs, so he shimmied down the oak tree. It wasn’t something he hadn’t done a million times before to spend extra time with Isaiah.

Isaiah caught him when he slipped. Eli reveled in the comfort of Isaiah’s hands on him. He spun in his arms to make it a real hug. Isaiah’s hands gripped him tightly in return. The rich scent of Isaiah’s cologne surrounded him. It was woodsy but also grassy. He took a deep breath but all too soon Isaiah let go. He grabbed Eli’s hand. Eli let Isaiah lead and it reminded him of the first time they had met. Eli had been the leader then because Isaiah had been new in town and so adorably lost. Eli had been lost too. He just hadn’t known it yet.

For several minutes they didn’t speak. Isaiah was quiet by nature, more thoughtful and observant. Eli constantly teased him, calling him a space cadet. Isaiah said he was observing the world and learning its secrets. They raced down the street and crossed over to the sand dunes. Once they were passed the playground and running on open sand, Eli stopped. It was too much. He felt too out of the loop, too surreal, and too alien.

Isaiah tugged but Eli dug his heels. Isaiah’s wide green eyes pleaded with him to move. Unable to resist him, Eli kicked off the flip flops, they weren’t helping his anyhow, and bare feet were faster on sand. He sank into the cold sand and kicked it up as he moved. Isaiah’s hand was sweaty in his. Eli wished he would speak. He trusted Isaiah with his life but Isaiah was the calm, steady one. If he was upset, there was a good reason, and his mind was going a million miles a second trying to figure it all out.

In a large empty stretch of sand where large rocks blocked the view of the town, Isaiah stopped. Eli was in good shape, Isaiah was in better but both boys were out of breath. Panting, they leaned over to catch their breaths. Isaiah stood slowly, scanning the sky, and turning to face Eli. His gaze was intense, full of emotions Eli couldn’t untangle.

“Izzy, please tell me what’s going on,” he begged.

“Last week Mr. Parker noticed. I thought I was okay but then Emma started following me around. She accidentally cut me in class. I knew. Eli, I am so, so sorry but I had to send the signal. I didn’t want to but some people dropped by my house.”

“Noticed what?” Eli asked.

Isaiah gave Eli a fond complicated look and murmured, “What you refuse to see, Eli. When I came to town I couldn’t even figure out clothes. I was so confused. I was… I am… I’m not normal.”

“Yeah right, you’re not normal,” Eli scoffed even as a weird chill raced up his spine. An image of Isaiah needing help with buttons bobbed to the surface and he has tied a tie around his arm, thinking it was a decorative band. Dozens of other memories bobbed up and Eli swayed.

“How not normal?” he asked, “Emma said the same thing to me. She said…”

Izzy puffed out a breath and asked, “What did Emma ask you?”

Eli stood up and regarded the purple black of the night sky. Stars decorated it all like diamond dust. There was no moon to obscure the view. Eli was an astronomy major. The sight calmed him as he cast his mind back to yesterday. Emma Parker from math class had grabbed him in the gym and asked him, “What’s wrong with Isaiah’s eyes?”

Eli tilted his head to stare into Isaiah’s eyes. The same vibrant, grassy green that he loved seemed to glow slightly in the low light. Isaiah turned his head a bit and it was as if they had a sheen. “She said your eyes were like a cat or a dog’s the way they reflect light. She said it wasn’t normal. But she was high. She’s always high.”

“Dilated pupils, Eli,” Isaiah told him. “She could see it. Why can’t you?”

They regarded each other. Eli was chilled by the ocean, the wind, and by the fear, he saw in Isaiah’s eyes.

“When you look at me, what do you see?” he asked and his eyes swirled again with intensity.

Eli frowned. He saw a lean boy, taller than him with muscled arms, natural hair, great big hands good for holding and his lovely green eyes. “I see you, Isaiah.”

Isaiah laughed, a choked and bitter thing dying halfway through. “You do, you really do, don’t you, Elijah?”

“Are you mad at me?” Eli asked.

Isaiah smiled and his eyes glowed a bit brighter. “No, I’m just surprised at how much I love you.”

“That’s stupid. You can’t love me half as much as I love you,” Eli teased.

“No, I bet I can’t,” Isaiah said with a grin. “I just wanted to try.”

His eyes watered. Eli pulled him into a hug. Isaiah’s breath hitched. Eli squeezed, even as icy fear slipped down his spine. Isaiah had just admitted he loved Eli for the first time and it didn’t feel like a happy romantic moment. It felt like an ending. Eli wasn’t sure he could go on like everything was okay if Isaiah left him. Isaiah made his living situation bearable. Isaiah made school tolerable. Isaiah made life better because Isaiah kind of was his life.

“C’mon stop being cryptic. Why are you leaving? Where are you going?” Eli asked, trying to be brave.

“Home,” he whispered.

Isaiah stepped away from Eli and pointed up. Eli was confused. “North?”

“I’m not… I’m,” Isaiah began and trailed off. He took a deep breath and murmured, “human. I’m not human, Elijah. Parker found out. That guy is retired FBI. He knows about all of it, Area 51, the visits, the stuff in Canada. He knows. So he knew who to call and he knew who would believe him. I’m in danger. I can’t stay.”

“Can’t stay? Alien? You’re not serious,” Eli said, denying all the memories that were congealing into a very strange mess with Isaiah at the center with eyestalks.

“El, my eyes glow. My blood is a bit pink…” Isaiah said flatly.

“I thought you were anemic.”

Isaiah grinned. “My skin is cooler than yours. When I got here last year I had no idea what basketball was and I thought baseball was the one with the paddles.”

“I thought you were homeschooled,” Eli said, feeling stupid and fighting against what felt true.

Isaiah touched Eli’s face. “You’re an idiot, sometimes.”

Eli felt heat flood his face. “I just, you were hot,” he replied with a shrug.

Isaiah looked up and grinned. “Well, I thought you were hot, so we’re even. I just, I didn’t want to leave without telling you goodbye,” he choked on the word ‘goodbye’ and Eli felt his heart cracking.

“No,” he protested.

“No?” Izzy replied.

“No goodbyes. I don’t want to be left behind.” Eli knew what he was suggesting.

Isaiah’s eyes were blazing a beautiful, unearthly green now. “What do you want?”

“To be with you,” Eli replied. His glowing eyes were strange and different and Isaiah’s. Who cared if he wasn’t human if he was still Isaiah?

“Who’s being dumb now? We belong together.” Eli told him.

“You can never come back.”

“Don’t care,” Eli told him. “We belong together. Unless,” he trailed off, doubt coursing through him.

“Unless?” Isaiah asked looking nervous.

It had been a really great year. Eli had always been a fringe character with his telescope and lack of friends. He had spent the three summers previous to Isaiah alone, reading. With Isaiah, he had still read but out loud to his new and only friend. Eli wasn’t sure who was more surprised when he was brave enough to kiss Isaiah. He should know Eli couldn’t give him up. But maybe Isaiah didn’t feel the same?

“You don’t want me to go,” Eli responded.

“Oh,” Isaiah breathed, grinning. “I didn’t think you’d want to come. It’s different.”

“Different can be good,” Eli replied. “Besides, I love aliens.”

“All aliens,” Isaiah teased.

Wind raced across the beach and the sky filled with lights. The two boys glanced up as a blueish beam lit up Isaiah. His eyes widened in panic and his hand reached out for Elijah. He took it. Eli was pulled into the circle of light.

“Are you sure?” Isaiah asked.

Eli pressed his lips to Isaiah’s. Isaiah’s arms slipped comfortingly around him, to hold Eli in place as they were taken into the air. It was going to be one hell of an adventure. He just wished he had kept his flip flops on. He couldn’t imagine spaceship floors were any more comfortable than wet cold sand. Not that it mattered as long as they were together, nothing did.

the end.

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Muddy Prints

(Written for my friend Amy B. The character names are her irl children and dogs. She asked me to write a fun story including her dogs and this is the fun result. – K)

“Lash is out,” Ralph whispered, giving his sister, Charlotte a poke. “Wake up Char, c’mon.”

The sky outside the window was silvery gray. Morning was still a long way off and Lash was out. The Siberian husky had a habit of getting into trouble if Gomez, their golden wasn’t there to watch him. Ralph shook his sister again. This time she grumbled a bit before opening her eyes.

“S’morning?” she asked, rubbing at her eyes.

“No, Lash is out,” Ralph repeated. “C’mon. We gotta go get him.”

Charlotte tossed her covers off and slipped into her trainers. Ralph was in PJs, so she didn’t bother with clothes except for her jacket and her tiara. It was sparkly with a pink boa around it and she was convinced it was lucky. Besides, a princess would never be caught out of bed without hers. She pulled the covers farther back to reveal Gomez.

“Wake up, Gomez. We have to go out,” Charlotte told the dog.

Gomez got up and beat both children out of the room. Ralph stuffed a tiny Charmander into his pocket for luck and followed his royal sister. The house was silent except for children and dog out of bed but still, they kept quiet. It would go better for everyone if they caught Lash themselves and got everyone back into bed before breakfast.

Slipping out the back door, they stood and stared at the thick mist creeping up over everything. The trees seemed haunted, the slide seemed even more haunted and worse, there was no sign of Lash. Ralph whistled. Gomez’s floppy ears perked up but there was no answer from the husky.

“C’mon Char, he can’t have got far,” he whispered.

Charlotte adjusted her tiara to give herself a moment to think. “Wait Ralph, Gomez can find Lash. He’s a good tracker. Right?”

Gomez sneezed.

“See? He says he can,” Charlotte insisted.

Ralph started walking. “We don’t have time to mess around.”

Charlotte knelt down next to Gomez. “You are a big, good dog and you can find Lash, can’t you?”

Gomez huffed in her direction. Charlotte pet his head. Ralph rolled his eyes as the big dog sat down. Charlotte gently took hold of Gomez’s ears to get his attention. “There’s a treat in it for you.”

Gomez didn’t budge.

“Okay, two but that’s all I’ve got in my pockets,” Charlotte said, standing up.

Gomez sniffed the air before taking off down the road. The look Charlotte gave Ralph was very annoying. But he followed his sister as she took off running after Gomez. The air smelled wet like rain was coming but Ralph thought it felt too still. He couldn’t hear a single thing rustling. All the animals were asleep still, or gone. He put on a burst of speed to keep up. There was no way he wanted to get left behind when everything was so eerie.

Gomez didn’t stop at the edge of their property but dove headlong into the trees. Charlotte had grabbed his tail to keep him from getting too far ahead. The dog took this with a limited amount of dignity, occasionally stopping to give the human puppy an annoyed eye roll. Charlotte would roll her eyes back and he would be off again.

“We can’t go too far,” Ralph said.

“Can too, if Gomez says so,” Charlotte replied. “We’re already in trouble.”

“What’s a little more?” Ralph replied, snorting as his sister shrugged.

Gomez stopped. He stood stock still and the twilight bleached the yellow out of his coat, making him look for an instant like a stone statue. He stood before a circle of mushrooms, tail low and straight. Ralph pulled Charlotte back before she entered the ring. In the center of it were two large pawprints. Ralph pulled Charlotte back to see where the pawprints entered the circle.

“Lash went that way,” Charlotte said, pointing to the opposite side of the ring.

Ralph shook his head. “No Char, Lash went in this way, but he didn’t come out the other side. There’d be more prints.”

“Dogs don’t just disappear Ralph,” she said and moved forward.

Gomez growled and Charlotte turned to comfort the big dog. Ralph examined the ring from all angles. It was wide enough for a bunch of people to have a picnic inside. It smelled like mushrooms and wet grass. Gomez growled when he touched a mushroom, warning him away.

“Lash is in there,” he told his sister and dog. “It’s a fairy ring.”

Fairies are nice,” Charlotte said. “Like Tinkerbell.”

“Right, are you sure?” Ralph asked Char because he wasn’t convinced.

“Mm-hmm,” she said, bobbing her head. “‘Sides, I’m a princess. They especially like princesses.”

Ralph didn’t know anything about fairies. He liked nice normal things like numbers and video games. Charlotte was good with animals and fairies were a sort of animal. Plus, he trusted Charlotte.  “Okay, but we go together. Hold hands.”

Gomez disagreed. Rumbling, he wouldn’t move, going so far as to sit flat, facing home. Charlotte took Ralph’s hand and led them into the center of the ring. At first, they just stood in the center of the grass but the air shimmered and Lash appeared. Lash barked and crashed into them, knocking them to the grass.

“Down boy!” Charlotte exclaimed while high voices giggled around them.

Ralph got Lash to sit and spotted a boy with dragonfly wings sitting around the dog’s neck. The boy has pointed ears, bright green eyes and wore a pair of jeans and a Minecraft Tee. He also had a tiny gold crown on his head. In the air around them, more fairies were fluttering around the circle. They were all colors and wore normal people clothes.

Charlotte was mesmerized. “Wow!”

“Dance! Play,” a girl fairy commanded.

The circle expanded and they couldn’t see poor Gomez in the grass anymore. Instead, they spotted a square for dancing next to a horseshoe pit. Beyond the pit was a fire where several strange creatures with hooves for feet were roasting marshmallows on sticks. Ralph saw groups of fairies carrying large hoops and dipping them into soap to create giant bubbles.

“Look! That’s why Lash ran in here! Silly dog can’t resist bubbles!” Charlotte squealed as Lash jumped and popped bubbles.

Gales of laughter escaped the fairies. Charlotte jumped and popped a few herself as Ralph watched nervously. This was cool but if they couldn’t see the ring any longer, how could they get back to Gomez? How would they get back home?

“All dance and play to honor the king!” the girl fairy commanded.

A ball landed in his arms. It was small but the right size for kicking, so he kicked it back to a group of tiny gnomes in red or green hats. They beckoned him over. Not wanting to be rude and seeing the girl fairy still hovering, he joined the game.

They played for hours. Charlotte found herself and Lash draped in flower crowns while Ralph was shown how to play ten pins. Fairies were good fun and had loads of sweets on offer. Charlotte ate a fluffy frosted purple cake. Ralph stuck to the weird sour hard candies and Lash ate whatever no one else wanted.

Breathing heavy after another round of horseshoes, the kids sat on the grass and grinned at each other. Fairies started curling up in balls around them. Some snored softly while others quietly talked to one another while drinking dandelion tea. It was clear that the party was coming to an end.

The boy in the crown bowed low before Charlotte. “Your majesty,” he said, “you have honored me. But the party has ended.” He winked. “I love a princess at my parties.”

“Your majesty,” Charlotte said and bowed low. She kicked Ralph in the shins until he bowed too.

The king grinned and disappeared.

The girl fairy who had commanded them to play appeared. Her long pink hair floated in the breeze her glittery dragonfly wings made as she hovered near them. She smiled brightly. With a bow, she waved a wand around the circle. They blinked and spotted Gomez, still sulking in the tall grass.

Lash barked. Gomez flicked an ear. Lash barked again. Gomez hopped up and spun to see the two children and the Siberian Husky. He huffed very disapprovingly at them. Lash licked his ear and set off toward home, not worried at all about the trouble he had caused.

Gomez, with a dignified sniff, herded the children back down the path where the mist was lifting. Charlotte looked at the sky. “How long were we gone, Ralph?”

“Hours,” he replied.

“Still dark,” Charlotte whispered back.

They reached the house and the lights weren’t on. Lash was by the back door, waiting with bright, knowing eyes.

“Could be the next day?” Ralph wondered.

“Mom would have called the police,” Charlotte argued.

“Yeah,” Ralph agreed. “Should we tell them?”

Charlotte grinned at her brother. “No.” To Lash, she said, “Thanks for letting us meet your friends.”

With an eye roll, Lash went inside. Gomez did not follow. He did block the kids way back inside. Charlotte tried to go around the dog but he wouldn’t budge.

“Move! We can’t get in trouble now!” Charlotte growled.

Gomez growled back and nosed her pockets.

“You owe him two treats,” Ralph reminded her.

“He’s going to get us in trouble,” Charlotte replied.

“Not if you feed him,” Ralph said.

“Oh, alright,” Charlotte agreed. “I did promise.”

She handed the dog the treats and he inhaled them before Lash could turn up. Dropping his jaw in a doggy smile, he let the human puppies return to their beds. He joined Charlotte under the covers.

In the morning, they got grounded. Muddy footprints had given them away and parents don’t believe in fairies.

The End.

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Rabbit Catch

The prompts:

Pet
Outside
Strawberries
Love story

The story:

“Stop that rabbit!”

James blinked. “What?” he asked as he turned to see a rather large white blur race past his sneakers.

James had two seconds to decide if he wanted to help. Sighing, he jumped into action by sticking his ice cream bar between his teeth and chasing after the blur. It streaked left before slipping under a stone park bench.

Dropping to his hands and knees, ice cream melting between his teeth, James reconsidered his heroism. He was only in the park because he had wanted to treat himself after his disastrous job interview. He made a beeline to the tantalizing ice cream truck. One delicious lick of his ice cream bar and now he was kneeling on the ground in his best suit. The hot day meant chocolate was dribbling down his chin as he peered under the bench to see one large brown eye. He let the ice cream drop in favor of being able to call the animal.

“Hey, come here you silly bunny,” James murmured.

The bunny thumped a back leg loudly against the concrete. James scooted back a bit in alarm. Someone dropped to the ground beside him and he caught the scent of strawberries. The hands on the ground next to his were delicately tipped in shiny red nails. He wanted to look but he was afraid to take his eye off the prize, erm bunny.

The same voice that had shouted at him, now whispered, “I’ll come from the left if you go from the right and we should be able to catch her between us.”

“Am I going to get bit?” he whispered back, thinking that a rabies shot would be the cherry on top of his terrible day.

“No, well, you might get scratched,” she told him, sounding amused. “Strong guy like you can handle it,” she teased.

James snorted and chanced a look at her. He was rewarded with a flash of sparkly hazel eyes and a smirk before she moved to catch the bunny. James held his hands wide to keep the bunny from escaping. The scared little ball of fluff frantically searched for an opening and kicked out, but the woman was faster and caught the animal in her arms with minimal fuss. James on the other hand, bonked his head on the bench as he moved out from underneath it.

A giggle escaped the woman beside him.

James sat back on his heels. “Well, that was exciting!”

He turned to face her and was stunned by the gorgeous woman beside him. She was dressed simply in jeans and a fitted tee with cartoon animals on it in the shape of the word, “Pets.” Her long auburn hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail. The rabbit looked content to rest in her arms and James felt a pang of jealousy. He took a breath to say something charming or clever when she burst into gales of laughter.

“I am so sorry! But have you seen yourself?”

James ran a hand over his face and it came away covered in chocolate and nuts. She subsided into giggles as he licked his palm and just made things worse. She stood up and reached for his cleaner hand. He let her drag him to his feet and over to a water fountain.

“Stay here,” she told him and disappeared for a minute.

James rinsed his face off the best he could in the water fountain. The woman returned with the rabbit safely tucked into a crate and a handful of napkins. She wet a few and instead of handing them to him, she tugged him down by his tie, gripped his chin, and cleaned his face.

“Thanks for helping me,” the woman said as she tossed the napkins into the trash. “Lulu was in to get groomed and she made a break for it. Her mom is one of my best clients.”

His face still tingled from where her fingers had touched his chin. James grinned at her. “Lucky I was in the park today,” he told her.

She grinned. “Very lucky for me,” she agreed. “I’m Sandy.”

“James,” he replied.

“James, I’m sorry about your suit and your ice cream,” Sandy told him.

“What’s wrong with my suit-Oh!” James looked down to see chocolate, mud, grass stains and a tear up the right leg and the left was worse. “No problem. I won’t need a suit anytime soon. It’s fine.” He was thinking of tossing the suit anyhow. This was the third interview he had bombed and he had to blame something, so why not the suit?

“It’s not,” Sandy argued. “You’re a mess because of me.” Sandy touched his arm. “Let me make it up to you?”

“You don’t have to do-” James trailed off. What was he doing? If he said it was nothing and she left, he might never see her again. He was hardly in this part of the city. “Well, alright.”

“Great,” Sandy said. “I’ll start by buying you a new ice cream.”

James grinned. Today was looking up. “And then?”

“Got any pets that need free grooming?” she asked.

No, but by tomorrow, he would.

end.

Knitting a Tenth Doctor Doll

IMAG0524(Tenth Doctor in Yarn, having Soft Adventures through Yarn Space & Knitted Time?)

I can’t crochet.

Most people I meet say that when it comes to knitting or crochet, you only get one. You can’t have both dang it, no matter how many times you successfully make a chain only to howl in frustration as you cannot make that braid into anything other than a knotted up mess to be tossed with great enthusiasm across the room. I ust wanted to make cute Doctor Who dolls!

I was trying to create a magic loop. I keep thinking if I watch enough videos and I try hard enough that someday I will pick up the skill of crochet. I love the patterns. I love how fast they are and I love how many tiny dolls can be made in literal minutes. I want that. Knit takes days. Knit takes years. Crochet is fast.

I never made that magic loop.

I watched a video fourteen times in a row. I tried. I cursed. I tried again. I cursed some more. In a fit of rage, I threw everything against the wall and gave up. I just wanted to make tiny dolls. My frustration was real. So I gave up on crochet and turned to my only skill: Knitting.

Guess what? Knitting has its own form of the magic loop which I failed to master as well. But I am stubborn. If I can’t do it the right way, I’ll just make it up as I go along. So a month after the hook incident, I was sitting in front of the PC looking at cute crochet dolls, and some knit dolls of the Eleventh and Tenth Doctor. They were fantastic and I wanted them. But there were no patterns.

Fine. I was willing to buy a pattern but it wasn’t on offer. But my knitting skills had been growing and I decided if I can’t but a pattern: I’ll make a pattern. Or wing it. Yes, I’d wing it. I had DPN (double pointed needles) and enough stubbornness for days. I also for some reason had a ton of ecru yarn that could pass for pale people skin. So I took the needles, cast on a few stitches and by increasing and decreasing, in no time at all, I had a head and shoulders. Flush with success, I stopped because my hands looked like claws and my eyes were crossed.

IMAG0525(Oh so mitten-y mitten hands!)

The next day after work, I worked out how to leave arm holes by switching to two needles and knitting each side flat before going back to knitting in the round. The legs were made by separating the stitches into left, middle, and right. Legs became tubes and shoes were created by switching yarn color and adding stitches in the front to get a shoe-ish shape. When the legs were done, I made arms.  I didn’t count any of the stitches until after, so I am sure one leg is longer than the other. And I had no idea how to make hands, so my hands are sort of mock mittens that I used the ends that needed to be weaved in to shape them into more mitten-ish mittens.

IMAG0523(Cream Chucks, complete with Blue Star and Red Seaming because it’s all in the floss.)

I did manage to learn a seam that was invisible for when I pieced together the Doctor’s jacket. Also, I insanely hand pinstriped him for no good reason. I just wanted to see if it could be done. The blue is too cyan. When I make my second one, I am switching to a medium blue. The tie, however, is an actual tie. I knitted it and had my friend Chris tie it for me. He even knew what knot the Doctor wears… so authentic as heck.

Brown button eyes, embroidered smile and a painstaking process of making doll hair from yarn ensued. Dayna upstairs helped me make and style it. But it’s a bit floppy but nice and messy. It’s all in details and that mad twinkle in his eyes anyhow.

IMAG0520(Relaxing between adventures on my messy bed that is too red for good photos.)

Eventually, I am going to add eyebrows. I keep saying that and I keep not doing it. But I think he looks like he’s having fun. That hair though…

I still can’t crochet but I don’t think I care anymore. I’ll just wing it in knit. Also, immediately after finishing the Doctor, I started right in on a Rose Tyler. I’m a sucker for love and the Doctor needs a hand to hold.

Details/Materials: 

-I used size 5 DPN (double pointed needles)
-All the yarn was Red Heart. I doubled the yarn to make sure the weave was tight enough for stuffing.
-Two brown buttons were used for the Doc’s eyes.
-Felt embroidered with a blue star was used for shoes.
-Metal snap for his jacket
-Red embroidery floss

He’s a big boy and stands over a foot high, and is perfect for cuddling.

I Made Exploding Bon Bons

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 Getting in over my head is one of my favorite things to do. I’m impulsive and excitable and when I’m bored, I make things. Since 2017 marks 20 years of Harry Potter, my house has been going into Potter overload. It means wands (hand carved from sticks,) leather working with magical themes, and knitting various house gear. To date I have knitted fingerless gloves in various house colors, two Ravenclaw Scarves & one Newt style Huffelpuff scarf.

It was time to branch out into snacks!!!!

I used this recipe: Three Baking Sheets to the Wind

First stop was the local Walmart to get supplies. I zipped up and down the aisles picking out dark chocolate, heavy cream & melting chocolate to coat. I spent a half hour in the candy aisle looking for PopRocks. They are supposed to explode. I needed explosions. But no such luck. PopRocks was extremely popular when I was a kid and it is out there (I even saw it in candy shops in the UK in the American section) but Walmart said nope. 

Fortunately my Walmart is Mall adjacent. Unfortunately, it was 90 degrees outside and along with my Exploding Bon Bon ingredients, I had also treated myself to chips, salsa annnnd ice cream. I was on the clock.

Slipping into the mall I made my way to FiveBelow which used to be a toy store called KB ToyWorks in the ’90s and someone I know (me!!!!) had worked there for a decade and had made lifelong friends. Still weird to see no one I know in there. Jackpot though… They had all the PopRocks a mad chef could want for chocolate science projects.

The woman behind the counter was dead inside. I can’t blame her. Retail kills. Say thank you people. Say it!!!! She seemed shocked by my overly aggressive friendliness. I made eye contact and told her I didn’t need a bag with a David Tennant style, “Nope!” (Yep, popped the ‘p’ and everything.)

Quick detour into the FYE store to see if there were any Capaldi Doctor Who Tees (Nope. Damn.) and off to the car. I raced home and cursed at the people who had double parked to pick up their kids at the school on the corner and then it was baking time.

Actually I took a half hour fanfic reading break. I love fanfic. Love it.

Then I made the ganache:

 

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This part was easy peasy lemon squeezy. You pop a bunch of dark chocolate into a bowl. Simmer some heavy cream then dump on top, wait a minute and whisk. At first it turned a weird pale milk color and I was worried. But I persevered (panicked and whisked faster) and it turned into this lovely, glassy, delicious chocolate goop. 

It needed to chill for three hours in the fridge. I retired to the living room to write fanfic. I really love fanfic. Also to read some fanfic and work on a ghostwriting project that has been fun but challenging. 

The website I stole this recipe from recommends watching a Harry Potter film. I watched MTV’s Catfish. I’m single and this makes me feel better because everyone is a damned fool liar!!!! (Yet I am still a hopeless romantic.) A walk, a bunch of writing, a knitting break and a Strongbow later, I was ready to move on to the fun part.

The delicious goop was probably not as chilled as it was supposed to be. I made a home for the PopRocks and dumped out Cherry, Tropical, & Strawberry. It was a messy job but I enjoyed how any little bit of moisture set the PopRocks off. It was a very noisy kitchen!

This is what these bad boys looked like before I popped them into the freezer to firm up.

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So… I chilled them for ten minutes in the freezer and did some dishes, taunted Dayna with the promise of snacks and wandered off. The timer brought me back and I melted a bunch of chocolate waffers in the microwave. I did not burn the chocolate and am now a hero.  When I was dipping them, they snapped and popped again. It is a silly process!

I rolled them in chocolate, dropped them on parchment paper and sprinkled them with leftover PopRocks. Here is the finished product:

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And here is Dayna happily enjoying them:

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They taste fantastic! The dark chocolate centers stay soft. The PopRocks maintain their ability to pop surprisingly in your mouth and the fruit flavors really blended well with the chocolate. The only complaint I have is that they are super duper sweet. 

We also washed them down with homemade butterbeers. (They were kind of a bastardized version: Cream Soda, Butterscotch Schnapps, & whip cream.) 

I would definitely make these again. I think they taste fantastic. The process is easy as hell. Mine weren’t fancy and perfect. The balls were lumpy and misshapen but the melting chocolate smoothed them out. The PopRocks garnish makes them festive af.

I thought this was going to be harder but the process was simple. Do this! It is magical when you eat it. It does feel explosive. It is definitely a magical recipe. Do it now. Let me know if you would change anything & if you do change anything, tell me how it worked out. Add liquor. Add newt. Add fun.

Sick…

So I have been a completely useless lump this week.

I enjoy excellent health as a side effect of having horrendous allergies. But this week my allergies combined with a new office work environment to murder me very slowly with congestion, weakness and a lovely hacking cough. This shit super storm happens every once in awhile and knocks me on my ass for a week. Luckily this means no more illnesses for me for like a millennia. So there’s that.

Unfortunately it happened right after I had a huge mental sit down with myself about getting my poops in groups and working on my nano novel from last year. I spent a night destroying and rebuilding the plot. I saved nothing but the main character, her love interest and her dog. The rest of the story went into the chipper shredder because it was garbage. Armed with my new shinier and more logical plot line, I sat down and banged out chapter one. Excited to begin chapter two, I went to sleep and woke up in a brain fog.

I lost a week of writing time to the fog.

I’d like to say I’m exaggerating about the fog, but I literally, not figuratively, drove past my work, ended up in a neighborhood I had never heard of and had no idea how to get back for fifteen minutes. I pulled into a gas station and sat there not comprehending how to work my phone’s GPS. It was a full on ‘sun downing’ moment. I was terrified until Google Maps reminded me that it knows where everything is and took me to work where I pretended to um, not be experiencing dementia.

Now it is clearing up and I can’t waste anymore time. Well, I can waste a few more minutes writing this nonsense. But then it is back to the MS Word to make chapter two happen. Although I am considering never, ever getting sick again, or at the very least getting a bracelet that tells strangers to call my mom in case I am found wondering around in a fever dream.