In the past 2 weeks, I've received four rejections for three different stories, but all were from professional markets, and three of the four encouraged me to submit again. Those stories are awaiting word from six more venues. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
On a sad note, Phat Cat, our deaf, declawed, fat and long haired cat passed. He's been a family member for over six years, the best cuddler, and quietest pet I"ve ever had. He's missed.
Here's my fresh 3WW and #fridayflash.
Sue sliced through the tape of another box and groaned. The movers marked this one "kitchen" but it contained Jake's video game system. At least she found it. If she heard "I'm bored" one more time, she knew she'd scream.
Come to think of it, Jake hadn't complained for over twenty minutes. Her mother instinct screamed too quiet. He was up to something.
From the kitchen screen door Sue stopped on the porch and gazed upon her yard. She never thought she'd be able to purchase a house, never mind a rambling farmhouse with a yard. The price was surprisingly affordable, one could even say cheap. Not quality cheap, but single-mom-with-limited-child-support cheap. Call it a lucky break. The real estate agent never offered a reason why, and despite disclosure laws, Sue chose not to ask the direct question. They both closed that transaction relieved.
Sue followed the wrap-around porch to the dirt yard between the gravel driveway and the encroaching woods. A tire swing lazed from an ancient oak. Squirrels chattered and chased, ignorant of the new tenants. Jake stared at the tree swing, moving in the faint breeze.
"Jake honey? Let me check the rope before you swing."
Jake started, turned toward her but kept his head down, Nikes kicked the dirt. Besides the trees, squirrels and tire swing, the yard held little else. Sue walked to the swing, examined the rope. It looked old, frayed to thin in some spots. She'd have to replace that.
"Hey kiddo, I found your X-Box. Wanna play a video game?" Jake peered at their new home. He cocked his head, whispered sure. A tiny blue vein pulsed against his temple. Sue touched his shoulder. He looked up at her and for a moment, just a tiny, singular eternity, Sue thought brown eyes peered back at her. Jake shivered, smiled and his eyes cleared to blue.
Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are duh-one. Lay your weary head to re-est; Don't you cry no more….
Jake's voice sang pure, carried through the grating above the kitchen. Sue smiled, loving Rock Band and how Jake was learning all her music. She hummed along as she unwrapped newspapers and placed plates in the dishwasher. She tapped her foot in time to Jake's drum beat and bobbed her head to his guitar riffs. A plate slipped from her hand, shattered.
"Damn!" she whispered, wondering where she'd put the broom as her mind repeated, vocals, drum AND guitar? Something sharp pierced her sole. She screeched.
A plate shard was embedded in the ball of her foot. She hopped to a chair, flecks of blood scattered behind her. The music stopped. Sue gritted her teeth and yanked the shard out of her foot. She heard sniffing. She looked above her head at the grate, but saw nothing. "Jake?" she asked.
His voice sounded distant. "How do you unlock 'Eye of the Tiger'?" Jake asked, his voice distant, from deeper in his room and not from above her head. Sue heard a shuffle. "JAKE! Who're you talking to?"
Her son's steps pounded down the stairs. He made enough noise for two boys. Gooseflesh tickled Sue's skin.
"JC says you're bleeding."
Jake stared at the foot resting on her opposite knee. She heard a sharp intake of breath. Not Jake's. "Who's JC?" she asked.
Jake glanced to his left, frowned. "You're right. She can't see you."
Sue ignored his aside. "Can you run to the car and get the first aid kit? I haven't unpacked the bathroom boxes yet." Sue waited for her son to leave the room. Huh, she thought, an imaginary friend.
The move must have traumatized him. JC, that's what her ex had named her pregnant stomach ten years ago. Jake Christopher. Imaginary friends weren't unheard of in these situations, if she remembered her pop psychology from all those parenting books. She'd help Jake adjust to their new home. The car door slammed. Play along, she ordered herself, don't deny JC's existence.
Jake returned with the kit. She opened it, looked for the antibiotic cream when something touched her foot. Licked her foot. "Ew, gross!" Jake said, giggled.
Sue felt pressure on her foot, thought she saw an afterimage. She scrunched her eyes shut, told herself it was her imagination. Nothing was sucking the blood from her foot, probing into the cut, hurting her.
"Hey! Stop! That's my mom!" Sue opened her eyes. Jake yanked a boy's arm away from her. A brown-eyed boy wiped his mouth with the back of his free hand, grinned at her before fading. "Come on! Let's go play," Jake said.
In her head she heard, how 'bout Pearl Jam. Alive and then an echoing giggle.