I am ready for a break. I’m not going to get one for a while (my own fault, for scheduling my vacation in September), but I am definitely ready for one. Somewhere quiet, where I can sit to read and write without interruption. Maybe not the beach, at least not this time of year. But somewhere away.
I hate complaining about it, since it can’t be changed, but I am definitely feeling it this year, and my Maine week seems very far away at the moment while we’re insanely busy at the day-job. My brain is tired, so not much writing happened this week. I haven’t even cooked in the past week (yay for prepared salads at the grocery store!). Since I did all the household chores yesterday, I’m thinking about doing some reading this afternoon, some for pleasure, and some for editing, just for a rest. And looking at next year’s calendar to better schedule time off at the day-job.
Before I go dig out my Stephen King from the in-progress reading stack, I have a little snippet from the manuscript I’ll look at later for you.
When her mother’s car pulled into the driveway beside hers, she inhaled deeply, forcing some of the tension from her shoulders and neck. After three days of forced solitude, she wanted to see her family. Very much.
Jason burst through the back door. “Aunt Phila!”
She held out her arms, bracing when he flung himself at her. “Hi, baby.” She scooped him up, even though he really was getting too big for that. She kissed one of his cheeks, then his mouth, then his other cheek, while he giggled. It was their routine for whenever she’d been away. A kiss for each day they’d been apart.
He wrapped his arms around her neck, tight. “I missed you.”
“You know I missed you, too.” She caught sight of her mother coming in the back door and gave her a strained smile. Her mother lifted one eyebrow, and Philomena shook her head. “How was school today, buddy?” She set him back on his feet and unzipped his coat.
He shrugged out of his superhero backpack and his coat, bouncing the whole time. “You know the hamster in our room? Harvey? He got out of his cage during recess today, so we had to crawl around looking for him till Nita found him hiding under the bookcase in the back corner. Oh, and we got a new girl in our class today. Her name is Rose, and she has red hair and a million billion freckles on her face. And Eddie brought a picture of his new German Shepherd puppy with him. Eddie’s gonna train him to be a guard dog to keep bad guys away. He said I should come see him this weekend. Can I do that?”
Philomena relaxed a little more, listening to him while she finished dinner prep, nuking some frozen vegetables and setting the table.
When Jason came up for air, he frowned at the table. “Hey, how comes there’s four plates, Aunt Phila?”
Her spine stiffened a little, and she took a quick breath as she turned away from the stove.
“Because I came to visit, little guy,” Ryder said from the foot of the stairs.
“Daddy!” Jason shrieked and met his father halfway across the room.
Ryder’s grin was as big as Jason’s, and he swung his son around in a big hug while Jason clung tightly to him.
Philomena watched as they greeted one another, doing silly guy stuff, funny handshakes and high-fives, and hugging again, and her heart squeezed in her chest, painfully. She’d never seen such naked delight on her nephew’s face. Or imagined it in his father’s.
“What’s got you so uptight?” her mother asked quietly.
“You should have told me he was coming.” She kept her voice low, too, and shot a sharp glance at her mom.
Agatha Gregory smiled instead of looking abashed. “You needed to come see us anyway. I couldn’t tell him ‘no’ either.” She shrugged with one shoulder. “You’ll have to deal.”
Philomena opened her mouth to tell her mother what she thought of that idea, but Ryder crossed the floor to them, Jason at his side. “Supper’s ready, guys,” she said instead.
“Let me help.” Ryder winked at her.
“I’ve got it.” She moved around Ryder to the stove, shutting the burner off and scooping the beef mixture into a bowl to put on the table. When she turned around, he blocked her way, a dangerous look in his brown eyes. “I’m fine, Ryder,” she said stiffly.
“Yes, you are,” he breathed, leaning closer and cupping the bowl, his hands directly over hers, sending bolts of heat shooting up her arms. “But I’m going to help whether you like it or not.”
“Here. Take it.” She slid her fingers free and let him have the bowl. Somehow, though, she didn’t think he was just talking about supper preparation, and that made her very nervous.
Now I’m going to go pretend I’m reading on a beach, or a cabin porch overlooking a lake, like the one below. Do you have any tricks to get in some down-time when you have to stay home? I’d love some ideas.