Wilde's Fire

The exciting first book of the Darkness Falls series!

Wilde's Army

The second installment of Darkness Falls.

Wilde's Meadow

The conclusion of Katriona and Arland's story.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hey, what's that? Shoot it!

Dad and Kris were in the back yard shooting clay pigeons. They used a shotgun or a 22 or something—my knowledge of these things does not run deep. Whatever the weapon of choice was, I was intrigued.

I watched from my window as Kris loaded yellow pigeons into the red, ‘c’ shaped launcher and flung them through the air. Dad waited, gun pointing up at the sky, butt or handle—or whatever the back end is called—resting against his shoulder. He cocked his head to the side, squinted his eye, and squeezed the trigger.

Pow.

The clay disc broke into a hundred little pieces and fell to the ground.

Leaning closer to the window, I tried to memorize everything they did—from the way they loaded the ridiculously named pigeons to how they held the gun. Deep within I felt a great disturbance building. It churned and spread to my extremities like a rumbling earthquake.

I could shoot clay pigeons. I could do it better than them. I wouldn’t miss.

Throwing on some clothes, I zipped through the family room, passing Mom by in a whirlwind.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

I stopped in the kitchen. “I’m gonna go shoot with Kris and Dad,” I said, tapping my foot. She was holding me up.

Mom laughed and waved her hand and I darted through the back door.

“Hey, can I try?” I asked, startling my gun toting family members.

Dad gave me a look that said I’d done something wrong.

“What?”

“Don’t scare people holding guns,” he scolded, then his face softened and he looked at me with a big smile. “Are you sure you want to try?”

“Yep, I’ve been watching from the window.”

Kris laughed and showed me the pigeons and how to load and launch them, but I wasn’t interested; I wanted to hold the gun. “Can I shoot now?”

Standing behind me, Dad held the handle—or whatever—against my shoulder, told me how to use the sight and pull the trigger. I was golden.

“Ready?” Kris asked.

“Go,” I said, shaking from head to toe.

The pigeon soared through the air. I lined my eye with the sight, squeezed the trigger and Pow, I flew back on my ass. The target still broke into a hundred pieces, but not because my bullet connected with it, no, the clay broke when it smacked the ground.

Dad and Kris bent over in hysterics. I cried. My shoulder hurt so bad, as did my pride—and worse my butt!

Running inside, I swore I’d never touch another gun for as long as I lived, but that promise was broken a couple years ago when my husband bought . . . ummm . . . errr . . . a 9mm. So far I’ve avoided shooting it, but I’m sure one of these days my competitive spirit will take over and I’ll challenge him to target practice—at the range.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

The beautiful blue sky turns black as smoke rises into the air. Mothers cry out for their children, husbands for their wives. A shrill scream comes from a child standing alone. Men and women both run for her, but they aren’t fast enough. I watch as the child is torn, limb-from-limb.

“Kate, shut up, please, just shut up,” Brit says, her voice trembling.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guest Blog: 120Socks

I have another wonderful friend visiting from Ireland. Louise Phillips—you may know her better as 120socks—has recently finished her first novel, blogs about everything from romantic poetry to red stilettos and is one of the greatest Twitter friends I’ve made so far.

So grab your coffee because you’re about to be transported to her home in Ireland as she shares her writing rituals with us. You may want to bring a sweater, too; I hear it’s chilly there.


When Krystal asked me to do a guest blog post, I put my mind to work coming up with lots of ideas. One of them was imagining being 20ft tall and describing the world from this viewpoint, the next was a sort of ‘Dear John’ letter, only this time written to me from a favourite piece of furniture, in my case, the Queen Anne chair in our living room. I did write a small amount on both of these angles, but finally settled for something very different altogether.

One of the reasons why I love visiting Krystal Wade’s blog is the way I get to experience a different place, culture, a window if you like into another world. So this got me thinking about my world, and to be specific the place where I do most of my writing. I work from home, so I also write at home. We have a designated office where I often do all the business related work, but for the most part I find myself here at our dining room table. Why you might ask, seeing as how we have a designated office? Well I thought about this and here’s what I came up with.


Firstly the dining room is right in the centre of our house, behind where I write is the living room, to my right is the hall, to my left the doors out to the garden, and straight ahead of me, the steps which lead to the upstairs bedrooms, and the old cottage (built around 1780) up to my left, where we have our main kitchen, snug living room and guest bedrooms. I love the fact that it is in the centre of the house, I can see people as they come down the stairs, or others who call to the door, or Benson our dog who usually sleeps outside wherever I write. I guess even though I like to work by myself, I also like to know when people want to enter my world.

The second reason I like working here is because this is the spot where I started my novel, and after a couple of previously failed attempts to complete a manuscript, this is the spot where I actually completed it (currently being edited). I guess I feel a little superstitious about it, as if some kind of writing spell now exists in this area. Despite being an extremely logical and organised person, to the point where I often wonder why I have any friends at all, I am also a little bit superstitious. Perhaps this comes from having a Mother who read tea leaves. You know the kind of thing, fortune telling, although I am not sure how much fortune was involved, but she never seen anything bad, and only ever did it for our family. Anyhow, I guess I still have a part of my brain which tells me even though there is no real logic in thinking that sitting in a particular place will bring you luck, I still do it.

I once read a piece about how a lot of writers have a writing ritual, probably a means by which they can move from real life into the fantasy/fiction world. One writer I know always plays solitaire on the PC before he starts to write. Others have certain times of day which work well for them, others too can’t write without coffee, whilst folk like Victor Hugo, used to give all his clothes to his servants, telling them, to only return them when he had completed his days writing. Another, Orhan Pamuk, used to say goodbye to his wife in the morning like someone going to work, then walk around a few blocks, before coming back as if arriving at an office. No doubt Victor figured being naked, meant he could not leave and therefore had to write, but he wasn’t the first or only writer to write naked, so maybe there is more to it than one might at first think. I can relate totally to Orhan, as what he sought was to trick the brain into believing that he had left one world, the domestic world, and entering a new creative one.

Considering the above, it is easy to understand why creative people are often accused of being a little eccentric, and I don’t mind if you think that of me as well, but this dining room table is my space, my cocoon to which I visit every day and attempt to write. Some days are good, some not so good, but whatever the output, this is where it all begins.

You can find more of Louise by clicking any of the following links:

Blog: 120socks
Facebook: Louise Phillips
Twitter: @120socks

Check out my post at 120Socks: http://t.co/D9z4HC1

Monday, August 22, 2011

Alligator

School was out and Kris and I were bored. To top it off, we were home alone in the middle of nowhere. Some days life seemed to drag on. Especially this day. The air was hot, the trailer hotter. We couldn’t bear to be indoors any longer, so we decided to go fishing.

Bait was easy; we dug in the mud around the pond until we came up with hands full of mudpuppies. I left it to Kris to secure the squiggly little creatures to our hooks. After attaching my bobber and weight, I cast my line.

My competitive spirit had me jittering from head to toe. I wanted to catch the most fish. Pull them out one right after the other. Say nah nah nah nah nah to my brother every time I had to beg for him to hurry the fish off my hook. My head was full of ideas, but all I got was more . . .

boredom.

The sun bore down on the still waters. Not a single ripple moved on the surface. Sitting down on the bank, my hopes faded away.

“You wanna go in?” Kris asked.

“No, I just want . . . .”

I didn’t know what I wanted. Something? Something exciting, cool, entertaining—

Something was in the middle of the pond. That something was of monstrous proportions. Six-feet long and scaly, this mysterious beast rolled over and over again on the surface of the water, but never once did the thing show it’s human-eating head.

“K-K-risss, l-look at t-that,” I screamed, pointing toward the center of the pond.

His face paled and he reeled his line with lightning speed, which only made me want to run away as fast as I could—faster would have been nice.

“W-what is it?” I asked, abandoning my pole and jogging away.

“Alligator, it has to be.” He grabbed my things and followed me.

I heard alligator and made a decision: I was never going near that pond again.

Pushing through the back door, I asked, “Alligator?”

“I’m going to get my gun. Stay inside.” Kris ran through the trailer, floors shaking with his weight.

He didn’t need to tell me twice. Wait here, stay here forever . . . whatever, I wasn’t going back outside. I turned on the television and watched Duck Tales or something like that, but a few minutes later I heard pop pop.

My brother had taken care of the scary creature—or it ate him.

With legs bouncing wild and out of control, I couldn’t take the stress any longer. I ventured out of the safety of our home and made my way toward the pond. Heart racing, nerves making me wobbly, but I would not allow my brother to be killed by a stray alligator.

Pop pop
.

I stopped. Kris wasn’t dead, but the second round of shots meant kid killer wasn’t either. Abandoning my rescue plan, I bolted toward the house.

Mom and Dad arrived home a few minutes later. The familiar sounds of rocks crunching under our truck were a relief. Dad would fix this, he would make everything safe again.

I met them at the back door. “Kris said there’s an alligator in the pond.”

My dad laughed. “Did he?”

“Why are you laughing? What if it gets out and eats us—or the dog?”

“There aren’t any alligators in our pond, Krystal,” Mom said.

I crossed my arms over my chest. “Yes there are! I saw it, it was big and had spikes on it’s back.”

Dad ran in the house and grabbed his shotgun. “It’s an alligator snapping turtle and the reason our fish are disappearing.”

Staying with my mom inside, I felt like a complete idiot. What did I know? I was just a kid, but my brother could have said the rest of the creature’s name.

A few hours later, Dad and Kris came back in the house with pride on their faces. Together they’d gotten a few of the little monsters and soon we’d be eating turtle stew.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Snoring

Today is Friday. The weather clear and cool. The bright orange sun peeked over the horizon while I wound my way along the country roads. Then I hit I-95 and realized my gas tank needed a fill.

Okay, no big deal.

Stopped at the nearest diesel station, filled my Jetta with stinky, greasy fuel, then made my way to the commuter lot.

There was a line.

Okay, again, no big deal.

I played with my phone, caught up on some blogs, deleted fifty e-mails I received overnight and checked Twitter. Twenty minutes later, a couple guys got in my car. I cracked a joke about how they were late, to which neither responded—Grr! Does anyone appreciate humor anymore?—and got on my way.

The man in the front seat lives on the larger side of life. He had to recline all the way back, but the man behind him didn’t seem to mind.

Life was good—until we got to the first traffic light.

Man in the front seat started playing with his phone. I wouldn’t have cared if the volume was down low, but it wasn’t and every couple seconds I heard clack-clack-clack as he selected different things on his touch screen.

Okay, I’ll let it slide. He wasn’t as bad as Mr. Clickity Clears Throat.

Then heavy-set man in the front fell asleep and snored. Not just a little snore here and there…I mean he SNORED and SNORTED. Occasionally he’d do one or the other so loud, he’d wake up, click his phone—like he was pretending to be awake—then set right back to snoring.

What did I do? I turned the radio up louder and louder and louder and slammed on my breaks every chance I could get. In the end, they were probably dying to get out of my car and that was great, because I wanted nothing more for them to disappear.

Sigh.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest Blog: Michelle Moloney

Irish American Memories

Growing up on a farm near Cashel, Co. Tipperary in the 80s was kinda boring. At least that is what we thought. We lived for the summers, the chance of a fine day, Sunday drives, walks on the beech but the main thing we hoped for was tourists.

Every summer we would see the Americans walk around the town with a cool swagger. We could spot them a mile away, they wore cream slacks (which they called pants), they wore baseball hats and sun glasses (no-one in Ireland ever wore sun glasses in the 80s unless they were famous.) The Yanks were cool, their accents - drawn out with swagger, their wallets expensive and full.

“Do you guys sell French fries?” they would ask us. Not know what they were talking about we would ask “haaah?” If we were in a mischievous mode we would say random thing to each other like; “Is maith liom milseĆ”in.” They would take out their cameras and say to their friends “oh look, the little Irish girls are speaking gaaailgic. Can we snap you?” We would only be too happy to oblige.

A new hobby emerged for us kids....we would go to the Rock of Cashel and watch The Yanks. Over time we learnt:

French fries meant chips,
Crisps meant Taytos,
Soda meant fizzy drinks,
Pants meant trousers,
Sneakers meant runners,
Candy meant sweets,
Football was their version of rugby, (a softer and easier version!)
Baseball was a serious spot there,
And most importantly they all wanted to be Irish while we all wanted to be American.

Of course our absolute favourite pastime was telling them stories of Irish glore, or I – being my father’s daughters, would recite the first verse of “The Double Vision of Michael Roberts by W. B. Yeats.

“ON the grey rock of Cashel the mind's eye
Has called up the cold spirits that are born
When the old moon is vanished from the sky
And the new still hides her horn.
Under blank eyes and fingers never still
The particular is pounded till it is man.
When had I my own will?
O not since life began.
Constrained, arraigned, baffled, bent and unbent
By these wire-jointed jaws and limbs of wood,
Themselves obedient....”

After this part I would get confused and would then turn to my friends and start to talk in Irish, which of course, would result in The Yanks melting.

Here I am all these years later, reading the memories of an American gal and now sharing my memories on her blog. It seems that despite the different; countries, clothes and slang we all have one thing in common...to dream and to work our best to make ‘em a reality.

Michelle Moloney King grew up on a farm in Co. Tipperary. Her lullabies were tails about banshees and fairy forts from her banjo playing poetic father. His last words to her were; “you won’t remember me, your too young,” started her penning down his stories and thus began her creative writing. She has a Bachelor of Science in IT with University of Limerick and recently completed a Post Grad in Primary School Teaching with Hibernia College.

Contact her on:
http://TeacherMoloneyKing.com
https://twitter.com/#MoloneyKing
https://www.facebook.com/MichelleMoloneyKing
https://profiles.google.com/u/1/111599957027520811592

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kid #3

Last night kid #3 did something fascinating—actually it was disturbing, but noteworthy. As I slaved over a hot stove for my family, my throat became parched. Desperate for a cold drink, I rushed to the freezer with my cup and didn’t care when a couple pieces of ice crashed to the floor.

Guzzling my diet coke, I enjoyed every bit of the aspartame filled drink as it washed away the sandy desert in my mouth. (Did I mention I was going a little over-the-top for this story? If not, I apologize; I’m in a nutty mood.)

The piggy little sounds I was making didn’t stop after I slammed the cup on the cold granite. No, there were slurping sounds coming from somewhere else, too. Looking down, I noticed kid #3 at my feet with her face and hands pressed to the tiled floor.

“Clarissa,” I screamed.

She slurped, long and drawn out.

I reached to pick her up, and she turned her cute little chubby cheeks toward me and smiled, revealing every single baby tooth in her mouth and the item on the floor she was so intrigued by . . . a piece of ice.

“Oh, Rissa, that’s gross,” I said.

Wails filled my kitchen—that piece of ice must have felt good on her swollen gums and she wanted it back!

Grabbing a paper towel, I cleaned her mess and cringed at what germs she may have ingested. When she calmed long enough for me to talk, I gave her a thirty minute lecture—she’s 1, guys—on why we don’t eat things off the floor.

I’m one-hundred percent positive she won’t remember the conversation, but next time I see anything on the floor, you can be sure I’ll race to pick it up before she does.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Texas Tornado

The chill released its grip on Texas and gave way to unsettled skies. Thunderstorms rolled across the flat landscape, bringing with them black clouds, lightning and worst of all tornadoes.

At school we’d practice for these disasters by walking into the hall in a single file line and curling into a ball by our lockers. I used to wonder what good this would do; at each end of the hall were double glass doors, but according to whoever was in charge this was the safest place for us to be.

There was no plan at home.

I was with my parents one sunny spring afternoon when a need for tornado preparedness arose. The news reported a storm in our area, then the television lost connection. With my nose pressed to the family room window, I watched . . . and waited.

We lived in a trailer in the middle of an open field; we were asking for trouble—tornadoes are notorious for plowing through poorly constructed homes.

My insides trembled when I saw the first signs of the storm front.

“Mom, come look,” I said.

She stood on her knees next to me on our dingy yellow couch and stared at the sky. With very little trees and no mountains, we could see for miles—and what we could see wasn’t pretty.

“Ken,” Mom said, voice lined with concern.

My father sat on the other side of me and the three of us watched what was sure to be our death coming straight for us.

“What should we do?” Mom asked.

“There’s no time,” Dad replied.

Outrunning the tornado would have been impossible. We didn’t have a bunker, no ditches, no bridges, nothing that would have provided an adequate hiding spot.

My parents prayed.

While they asked God to protect us, I cried. I didn’t just cry either--I threw an all-out temper tantrum as the rain hit the trailer so hard looking out the window became useless. The aluminum ceiling popped and the walls breathed in and out with loud groans.

I wanted to leave, wanted to get in the car, wanted to be anywhere but in that God forsaken place in the middle of nowhere.

The wind knocked our home side-to-side.

Tears rolled down my face in a steady stream. “We’re going to die.”

My parents ignored me, continuing their fervent prayers in a language I’d rarely ever heard.

The pelting rain stopped long enough for me to see the twisting clouds in our field coming straight for us, ready to pick us up and lift us off. Ready to kill.

“No,” I screamed, pointing out the window.

Mom and Dad got off the couch and wrapped their arms around me. I was sure they knew we were doomed. The three of us whispered I love you’s and waited.

As if abandoning its plan for destroying our home, the tornado lifted off the ground, passed over us, then set back down. The corner of our barn wasn’t as lucky, but no animals were harmed and we were alive.

Tears of joy fell down my mom’s face and hugs surrounded us. Whether God is the reason we were all spared that day or whether it was just a break in the storm I may not know until after I die, but whatever the reason I’m thankful.

The next day I went on a mission, one that involved discovering every potential hiding spot on our farm for a future storm--then prayed I’d never have to use one.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

My family was supposed to have a three-day weekend full of fun and excitement. Water parks and NASCAR races were at the top of our to-do lists. Thursday night we were so excited we packed our bags in advance of our trip and could barely sleep.

Friday was a long day, but I left work early to get a quick oil change in my car before our almost three-hundred mile car trip to Pennsylvania. I had a two-thirty appointment. Plenty of time to get in, get out, get lunch and get home before four so we could hit the road early.

Two and a half hours later.

My mood was shot. The dealership’s reputation hung by a thread and I was close to complaining.

Close. But as I made the decision to get up and cause a ruckus, the young technician pulled my car into the covered garage, handed me the keys and told me to have a nice day.

I jumped in my Jetta, threw the car into first and peeled out—okay, I didn’t peel out, but it would have been appropriate, right?

McDonalds was the first place I saw. The fries, they called to me! Mmm. After I finished scarfing down my “linner” (lunch/dinner), I rushed home, loaded our bags and fed the family.

We were still making great time and ready to go before six. Then my husband’s work cell rang. With the family loaded, the car running and everyone excited to go . . . we had to wait an hour for that stupid call to be finished.

Sigh.

By six-thirty we were on our way, but, of course, we hit traffic, the baby started screaming and kid #2 had to pee. My husband and I were not going to allow all this to get us down. We assigned kid #1 baby duty, took kid #2 to the potty and the adults switched driving positions. I’m more acclimated to driving in traffic . . . twelve years I’ve been commuting to DC.

We arrived at my father-in-law’s home around eleven-thirty-ish. Kid #1 and #2 were in good spirits and all we needed to do was set-up kid #3’s portable crib and we were golden. Then I picked up kid #3.

“Oh my God,” I said. “Feel her, she’s burning up.”

Did this wonderful mother pack a thermometer or Tylenol or anything like that? No! My kids were healthy when we left, I swear. So my husband ran to the store and grabbed meds. Her temp was 101.9.

Saturday arrived and the baby was still sick. To make matters worse, it was raining! So much for the water park.

The Nationwide Series race was called on Saturday because of the stupid weather in the Poconos and we were biting our nails over whether Sunday’s Sprint Cup race would follow the same path.

Kid #3’s condition was deteriorating. We were supposed to go out to eat with the in-law’s, but when the baby woke from a nap I realized the only trip out I’d be making was to the Urgent Care. Her temp was 102.7.

After googling Urgent Care’s, we found one that was open and willing to accept young kids. Her temp was up to 103.6. YIKES.

Ice packs, a huge dose of Tylenol, juice boxes, strep tests, ear checks . . . they had no idea what was wrong with her, but sent us on our way with antibiotics. Not exactly a warm and fuzzy feeling.

We ordered dinner from the restaurant we were supposed to visit, had someone pick up the food for us, then put kid #3 to bed with her meds and hoped for the best.

Sunday morning it was still gloomy and the chance for rain high. The boys got up and went to their NASCAR race. They didn’t care what the weather called for; they were going to see cars speed around a track at two-hundred miles per hour. The baby woke with a high fever and didn’t want to get out of bed…as long as mommy was with her. I spent all day of our supposed “girls” day lying in bed. (Not something I’d normally complain about, but we were out of town, visiting family, and I was locked in a room, in a bed not my own.)

After some coercing, kid #3 stayed in bed by herself and I got up to take care of kid #2 and visit with family. The rain was holding off and the race was on. Things were finally looking up.

Kid #1 had an amazing day at the race. He got to meet Jimmy Johnson and ask him questions and even got an autograph. He’s now a #48 fan for life. The baby’s fever broke and she was returning to her normal self.

Till Monday, when she broke out in a terrible rash from head to toe. Roseola, I should have known, this is my third kid.

Our visit came to an end too fast. We loaded up the car with much less enthusiasm than before and drove home. Kid #3 cried the entire way. Kid #2 had to pee. Kid #1 was probably wishing he was born into another family.

Arriving home is always a pleasant experience. We crawled into our comfortable beds, closed our eyes and dreamed of the next vacation we’re going to take . . . hopefully it won’t have sick kids or rain, but you can be sure I’ll pack Tylenol and rain slickers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Apples and Trees

Over the weekend my husband and I loaded up our kids—and his mom—and drove out to the Fredericksburg Fair. It’s a staple of our summer and a small event before the Virginia State Fair in September.

The kids love strolling through the petting zoos. For a dollar the attendant gave us a bag of thin-sliced carrots and we’d stop every few feet to allow some greedy goat to eat one from our hand. Then we browsed through the prize winning chicken and rabbit section, every other cage answering Abby’s request for a new pet the same way: No.

Temperatures in Virginia have not been kind to us this summer. After walking around in 105 degree heat all day, we were ready to cool off. Rumors of a misting tent had been spread throughout the fair grounds. So we went in search of the mythical slice of heaven, and when we found it we were not disappointed. Every one of us ran through. It was cold and refreshing and dried almost the instant we stepped out.

Abby decided to soak herself thoroughly. She jumped up and down in the pool of water under her feet, splashing everyone around her.

No one seemed to mind.

While we waited for Abby to finish her “bath”, three teenage girls approached the cooling tent and my OMG radar buzzed.

All of the girls wore scantily clad clothes, but one of them stood out more so than the others. She fashioned cut off jeans, revealing the bottom of her . . . well . . . bottom. Making matters worse, she wore cowboy boots up to her knees and her shirt was rolled up under her bra. To put it bluntly, she was dressed to impress . . . the wrong crowd.

My mother-in-law and I exchanged glances.

“I’d kill my kids if they ever dressed that way,” I said.

She sipped her bottle of water, watching the future star of 16 and Pregnant out of the corner of her eye the entire time. “They never would. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My guess is her mother doesn’t care.”

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. “Maybe she changed after she left the house. I cannot imagine anyone letting their daughter out like that.”

“I hope you’re right.” Meaning, I know you aren’t.

Grabbing Abby—otherwise she would have stayed in the water all day—I dragged my family away from the ridiculously dressed girls and we visited the cows. They mooed us away—okay, I just wanted to write that. I thought it was cute.

The cows were the last stop before the rides.

Abby’s eyes got all big and round and she tugged her daddy’s hand. “Can we go on the rides now?”

He looked at me for an approval and I sent them on their way. Glowing green wrist-bands glued around their arms gave them an all-access pass to ride everything as many times as they wanted—they’d be gone for awhile.

Since I had the baby, my MIL and I scoped out a shaded area and parked our butts there and chatted. It didn’t take long for the teenage girls to pass us by—it’s a small fair and they were making their rounds—but instead of continuing on, they stopped.

Parents! They were talking to their parents.

My MIL and I exchanged glances again. Dammit, she was right! The “tree” was at least wearing clothing that covered her, but we could tell she was a wild child. She had red hair on top of blonde hair and tattoos everywhere. She smoked, she smiled at her daughter, she had her daughter spin around for her—she thought the girl was gorgeous.

The lot of them walked off together, disgusted looks flashed in their direction from every passerby. MIL and I had a lengthy discussion about what to do if my daughters ever drifted to the “dark side”, then we continued our business of people watching.

We eventually had to find Abby and her daddy; after an hour it was obvious they weren’t going to stop on their own. The dog show provided our last bit of entertainment before we headed home. Abby wore a brand new cowgirl hat on her head and the baby conked out as soon as she got in the car. All-in-all it was a fun and informative day—for my daughters sake’s, I will always choose my clothes wisely.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Thin Ice

It was November and Texas had been overtaken by an unseasonable cold snap. Temperatures dipped into the thirties and below. Sleet was the talk of the week and the thin layer of ice on our pond clouded any good judgment Kris and I had.

Two curious kids—who’d seen way too many cartoons with children ice-skating on frozen ponds—had an idea . . . a dangerous idea. We were going to race each other to the center.

We bundled up in our warmest outfits, told our parents exactly where we were going—just not what we were doing—then walked down to the pond, narrowly avoiding many falls on the ice along the way.

Around the edge of the water, the ice was so thick we couldn’t see anything but white. I grabbed a stick and tried to break through.

It was solid.

“You’re lighter, you try first,” Kris said.

Not one to back away from a challenge, I stepped one foot onto the ice. The sound should have been warning to get off, but I ignored the cracking echoes in the cold air around us and put my full weight onto the thin layer of frozen water.

Looking over my shoulder, I smiled at my brother standing on the bank like a scaredy-cat. “Are you coming?”

Every minute on the ice I got braver—or stupider—and slid further and further away from the edge. With my arms spread out at my sides, I balanced myself and imagined what it would feel like to be an ice-skater flying around on actual skates, stunning a crowd with a triple lutz and all that other stuff.

Kris worked up the courage to join me, taking each step with caution, and together we made our way to the center—there was no racing, both of us were too scared to go fast.

The ice moaned, cracked and split under our feet. We looked down. I could see water bubbling through. We were about to become a statistic and at that moment I knew we were idiots.

“We should go back,” Kris said, his hand sweating even though the temperature didn’t deem it appropriate.

I nodded.

We turned around; the bank looked like it was a million miles away. Cracking rang in my ears. Panic set in and my heart raced. Abandoning all intelligent thoughts, we slid as fast as we could toward the edge. Thoughts of turning into a popsicle flooded my mind and I just knew we were going to die.

But the ice held up long enough for us to make it to dry land again, and when we did we fell onto the bank and laughed our asses off.

“Want to do it again?” I asked even though there was no way I would ever get back on that ice.

“Go ahead.” Kris laughed.

Shaking my head, I shivered; my body wasn’t used to the bite the air had in it. “Let’s go back.”

Kris got up and offered me his hand. “Don’t tell Mom and Dad.”

Grabbing his hand, I stood up and we went back to the house—one more secret shared between us, one more experience to warn everyone in the world not to have, one more memory with my big brother I’ll never forget.

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