Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

drama queen finis

Well. We put down Abby yesterday. And I cannot stop sorrowing. She was with me for nearly eleven years- my brother found her in a tree on the farm when the rest of us were off in Toronto. I was eighteen then and I'm twenty-eight now. She always chose to be around me, preferred my lap, my bedroom, Me. So when I married, of course she came along! And she was always my darling pet, very pretty, very floofy and quite funny. And now…she doesn't sit in my lap when I pull out my knitting. Nor will she watch from her perch on a kitchen chair when I'm cooking. Nor will she watch me write or try to lie on my paper while I write. She was constantly around me, she followed me through the house nearly all the time. She tended to be wherever I was and she picked up funny little habits and then dropped them every few months or so.

And she's gone! My brain is having a devil of a time parsing this. We chose to put her down partially for the expense and partially because of her terrible reaction to the vet's the first time a month ago. I mean…she stopped eating for awhile afterwards and I just wonder…well, anyway. It's over. Her suffering is over (because she was suffering. She was drinking constantly and had bad diarrhea) but…is it? What is on the other side of this life? I can only hope, so quietly, very quietly, that she doesn't disappear into nowhere and nothing. She doesn't become blackness, blankness, nothingness. That's she's off somewhere else without her ailing, dying body and that someday…I'll get to see her. Because we were friends. Excellent friends and connections like that just don't die. Not even with pets, I so quietly hope.

So here's to my tender little friend whom I loved and love so much. I wish you didn't have to go, Pud, and well…goodnight, sweet princess, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

 

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How to Get Through a Big Book

How to get through a Big Book and have a little fun too.

  1. Make and eat food mentioned in the book (big books always include food, usually in meticulous detail).
  2. Read a little bit each day.
  3. Make a soundtrack.
  4. Dress like a character from the book for a day. Or a week. Or a month if it really grabs you.
  5. Ten minutes to kill? Daydream about the landscape or what the characters are seeing as they move through their day.
  6. Read passages you enjoy out loud. If you’re in the right mood, record yourself reading passages and share it (Instagram is great for this). Include illustrations if you like (thank you, Shirin).
  7. Whip out a highlighter or some sticky tabs for those great parts.
  8. Pace yourself and remember, reading gigantic books isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. Might as well bring along snacks, good drinks, great lighting, and enjoy the ride.

How to Search for Story Settings

A big city not far from mine has a casino. I’ve heard a few stories from friends that have worked there. Most center on being treated badly by a customer and revenging themselves by throwing the customer’s car keys into the Fox River. Karma is enacted on a regular basis at the casino.

There’s something about that river, flowing by, murky green during the day and black at night, a bottomless pit for car keys.

The river divides the city in half, east to west. The Fox flows along the old warehouses, limestone and brick, built back when the city had manufacturing plants and industry. Now the warehouses sit sturdy and silent, crumbling ever so slowly. Their roofs are flat and give the illusion of brick walls running straight into the sky. Some were built like prosaic wedding cakes, higher and higher, until the final topping is small square with tiny windows. Industry has never been about aesthetic needs and wants.  And yet by some miracle, these old turn of the century warehouses have achieved it just the same.

I observed the warehouses from the back deck of the riverside café, clutching my cup of earl grey and wishing I had put sunscreen on. It was the first time I had ever been to this café and I came because I needed a new setting for a fiction story I was working on. None of the cafes I remembered from the past were working for me. I needed this kind of café, one that hung out in an old manufacturing city where there wasn’t much industry left. There was, at least, a casino and many local businesses and this café hung on, here at the water’s edge.

A little further up was the casino where my friends had thrown those keys into the water. From my point on the deck, I could see the grimy metallic white heel of the building jutting out. Another friend told me that he goes there regularly to play black jack. It relieves stress and earns a little extra cash for his family.

The wind picks up a little and despite the sun, it’s chilly. Spring plays these tricks on us.

There is no sign of life in the warehouses all around me. We’re all boxed in together and the light plays off their empty windows, open and blank to the sun. I sip some tea and play “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin just to see if this café will work for my story. It only takes a few bars of listening to the song and I know that this place is perfect. This spot on the river is perfect for many stories. It’s  been perfect for all the stories I know nothing about and the ones that I’ve caught the smallest glimpses of.

A mallard suns himself in the weeds that line the water’s edge. The river moves fast and sure and I turn off the music. No need to for further noise. The song is already there.