Little Red Hen: I’m going on record right now as being against this completely. It’s just not the best way to go about it at all. It’s bad manners.
Dr. Rubber Duckie: For the tenth time Ms. Hen, it’s called an ‘intervention’. Happens all the time. People need them. And the people who know them need them. Some situations just cannot be allowed to continue. And the three of us being in limbo because of that lawsuit is one of them. I haven’t slept for weeks. I have patients to attend to. You keep hen’s hours, what would you know about such things?
Little Red: [Ruffling feathers] Are you suggesting my work ethic is not what it should be? I’ll have you know I do more work than most people I know. She said this with a stern glance at ( ) who was peering around the corner of the computer room doorway.
( ): ( WILL you two keep it down? She’ll hear you! Shhhh…. Here she comes.)
Our intrepid author shuffles into view in the darkness, wearing her robe and newly knitted socks of garish colors. She entered the room and crawled under the computer desk to flip on the surge protector power button that lay on the floor. Just as she was backing out she heard the door slam. This caused her to crack her head sharply on the desk.
Me: Ow! What the? Oh it’s you three. Up early are we? Join the club. Look at that, five in the morning. Isn’t that precious? To what do I owe the honor?
I rubbed the bump on my head gingerly.
( ): You are under computer room arrest. We aren’t letting you out until you write another story about that horrid little burgh.
Me: Are you out of your mind? You can’t FORCE someone to be creative. Everyone knows this. These things take time. They take inspiration. They take credible characters. [I said this last with a curled lip looking straight into ( )’s vacant space.]
Dr. RD: Now let’s just calm down and let me try to explain.
He cleared his throat which was always comical to hear. Sort of like a two year old playing with a duck call.
Dr. RD: My dear girl, there has been some … unpleasantness emanating from a certain acquaintance of yours. A Mr. Thaddeas Gromwell.
Me: That person is a fictional character doctor.
Dr. RD: Don’t we all wish it were true.
[Here the other two nodded in glum agreement.]
Dr. RD: We have been ordered to see to it that you write at least a few more stories about those unfortunate, I mean interesting people. They have sustained certain . . . losses due to your neglect. And we promised to encourage you to continue to write.
Me: Are you three suffering from some mass delusion? Bogwillow is a pretend place. Pretend. Made up. Fictional.
( ): (This is such a waste of time. I TOLD you she would be difficult about this you quack.)
( ) frowned which of course made him have to stand on one side. This was always a source of embarrassment to him because the other half of him was of course smiling. It was particularly annoying when he was really mad. People never took him seriously.
Dr. RD: You will just have to trust us this time Leibling. And we are not letting you out of this room. It’s for everyone’s good.
Me: [Eyeing them with my arms crossed.] Dr. I am very surprised that you would go along with this kind of thing. Really. You know how wrong it is to indulge a patient’s ah…delusions. Even if they are fictional delusions. Besides it’s very early in the morning for you all to be so annoying to the very person you want a favor from.
Little Red Hen: Well, maybe this will make you feel better dearie.
She stepped aside and lifted a cloth that had been covering a teapot with an adorable knitted cozy adorning it. There were four cups, and a plate piled high with little tarts and rolls, sitting next to a pot of jam which looked very much like apricot. My mouth began to water.
Me: Looking warily at the feast…What kind of tea?
Little Red waved her left wing in a broad stroke.
Little Red Hen: Why Golden Chai, your very favorite.
( ) made a face that looked something like this… <//
The doctor busied himself cleaning his glasses trying to look nonchalant.
They didn’t fool me. I could see they were nervous. And so was I by now. Did I need my medication adjusted again? Here I was, at five in the morning being held hostage by my own literary devices. But those little rolls looked delicious and with a nice cup of tea….
Me: All right I’ll give it a shot. Pour me a cup. Have you any milk? I said, narrowing my eyes. I take milk in my tea.
Little Red Hen: Of course I have milk! Are you saying my tea service isn’t what it should be?
Dr. RD: Here, let me help you Ms. Hen. Shall you have a cup too? Did you make the jam homemade? [Hen looks down her beak at him] Oh! Of course you did! How delightful, and how lucky we are to have you around to attend to these things.
( ): ( We didn’t have to feed her. The door is secure. You two are such rubes.)
I sighed. Dang. I had to compose the story at the computer. Well, at least I wouldn’t have to dither about what kind of pen and paper to use…. I rubbed my hands together to warm them up.
Me: Well here goes nothing….
( ): (You can say that again.)
Ivy’s Morning Out
Ivy stood looking at her reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Her hair was a constant disappointment to her, truly.
Today it stood out at all angles, or as far out as its short length would allow it. It was as if it was trying to escape her head altogether for greener pastures elsewhere in the world of hair.
There was a particularly odd bit at the back that really did look like a cow had walked up straight behind her and licked her on the head. It stood up that way almost every morning because Ivy slept like a ballerina.
Oh she started out nicely arranged on her side with one hand demurely under her chin. But by morning, she would awaken flat on her back with one arm gracefully arched over her head on the pillow, and one leg akimbo, foot resting against her knee as if she had been snatched from a somnambulant pirouette.
This was slightly embarrassing to Ivy who in the waking world would never in a million years consider herself ballerina-like. But her sleep habits did ensure that the back of her hair was always smashed and sticking up with the cow lick in the morning.
She sighed, and dunked her head in a sink full of water to erase the bovine coiffure.
On the way into the bathroom, she had thrown on a dress, the oldest and most unflattering in her closet. But while drying her hair with a towel, suddenly had the idea to go into town and do a few errands that she had been putting off. Of course the second thought right after that, was that she would have to change her clothes. This dress was not fit to be seen outside her front door. Truth to tell, it wasn’t fit to be seen by herself either. But it was still in one piece, and it didn’t seem right to throw it out just yet.
She stood with a pout on her face. Ivy just hated changing her clothes. It was enough of an annoyance to put them on in the first place, but then to change them just put her over the edge. During the course of her life, this unfortunate habit made it certain that many times Ivy was dressed inappropriately for her surroundings.
A half hour later, she stepped out the front door of her little cottage, having changed into a much newer dress that she had sewn herself not a month ago. It was a cheerful shade of yellow, with a white collar that had given her fits to get set in properly, but at this moment, she was glad she had taken the time to rip it out twice to get it right.
She had a basket over her arm with a blue napkin folded in the bottom and a large bundle of lavender that she had cut just that morning wrapped in a swath of white cloth.
She set out for Twyla’s . Ivy was one of several people who grew and picked lavender for Twyla’s famous lavender fudge. She had a modest little business of selling it to bed and breakfasts, gift shops and restaurants in Bogwillow. Ivy rang the bell on the wide porch of Twyla’s house that was painted a rather disturbing shade of peach.
Twyla came bustling down the hallway wearing her apron.
“Oh Ivy. Good morning. I am just about to take the thermometer out of a batch, come on in. You can put your lavender here on the bench. Isn’t it a nice cutting! What DO you feed it for it to grow so tall?”
“Nothing much really.” Ivy fibbed. She had a silent competition with the other growers and fed hers a secret concoction of fertilizer that she mixed up in her garden shed like a mad chemist. “I guess I must have inherited good garden soil.”
They walked back into the kitchen and Twyla waved Ivy to a white kitchen chair. There was a pot steaming on the stove and the air was filled with wonderful chocolate fumes.
Twyla checked her thermometer and decided. Off the heat and into a cold water bath went the pot.
“Well, now I can relax a minute.” She said and sat down with Ivy.
“Oh, I am having such a good day today! Have I told you that I have been seeing that new psychiatrist downtown? Dr. Sydney Sneezewort. That’s a funny name isn’t it Ivy? But I for one don’t care what his name is. He’s just a fabulous doctor. And you should see him. He’s so handsome he almost makes me swoon!”
Ivy looked at Twyla with a kind of sideways glance.
“Are you sure you are not confusing the doctor’s appearance with his psychiatric abilities?” She said with a skeptical tone. “I for one think psychiatry is highly overblown. Such an inexact field, honestly Twyla. Really, how is one supposed to sift out the quacks from the competent? By the time you find out that you have a quack on your hands, you have already paid them a king’s ransom to tell you that what you need is to get out and find some friends and a hobby or some other thing anyone with a whit of common sense could have told you over tea and cookies for free!” “Shrinks! What a bunch of charlatans!” She finished out of breath.
Twyla, realizing she did not have a sympathetic ear, decided to drop the subject altogether.
They sat without talking for an awkward moment or two looking down at the tablecloth that was embroidered with little daisies. There were about a million french knots in the centers of all the daisies. Ivy never had mastered the art of a good french knot and looking at them made her cross.
“Well, I have some more errands this morning and I want to get home before it gets too hot. I hope your fudge turns out nicely today.”
She left Twyla stirring her pot of fudge with a dreamy look on her face. No cranky Ivy Walsey was going to ruin her day. She stood remembering Dr. Syndey’s wonderful blue eyes and longish curly hair surrounding his tanned face and sprinkled a handful of dried crushed lavender blossoms into her fudge.
Ivy walked briskly down the street to the Bogwillow Journal offices. There at the front desk sat Clarissa Pendergast looking regal with her hair all pinned up in a bun of formidable size. She was dressed in a dark red frock with long sleeves.
Clarissa frightened Ivy. She was just so overwhelming.
Ivy took a deep breath.
“Good morning Ms. Pendergast. I have an ad here for the next meeting of the Bogwillow Entomology Society that we would like to be included in this week’s edition please.”
She pulled the scrap of paper out of her pocket and slid it across to Clarissa who picked it up and examined it closely.
“Hello Ivy. You smell of lavender dear, isn’t that lovely. Been to Twyla’s have you?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Well, let’s see if we can clean this up a bit for you Ivy. She started making bold marks with a blue pencil on Ivy’s ad.
“Punctuation. Mustn’t forget it. Things can get very confusing without the proper punctuation can’t they?” She said looking rather sternly over the rims of her glasses at poor Ivy.
“Oh, I’m afraid I’m just hopeless with punctuation Ms. Pendergast. It’s always seemed a lot of fuss and bother. But I realize it is your business to know these things here at the paper. I’m afraid I’m too much of a free spirit to have cared much about punctuation. After all, it’s the words that really matter, not so much the little marks around them.
I remember when I was in school, I used to put the apostrophes in very ambiguous places , hoping they would look like I had just been writing a little to fast to place them exactly where they belonged.”
Ivy tittered in what she hoped was an endearing way.
Clarissa pursed her lips and gave Ivy a look that left no doubt how she felt about such tactics.
“Well, we’re out of school now Ivy aren’t we and we have to put them in their proper places don’t we?”
Ivy nodded obediently.
“I will write this up for you and get it in the paper. We don’t go to press for two more days so there’s plenty of time. Thank you for stopping by.”
Ivy felt, and in fact had been, dismissed.
She hurried outside and got a drink at the fountain just a few steps down the street. She was wishing she had just stayed in her frayed dress and within the confines of her own home.
Ivy had only one more errand that morning. She was picking up eggs from Essie Tansy. Everyone had been telling her how good they were. And she had decided that she wanted to try some herself. This would take her to the very edge of town. It was beginning to get warm but there were lots of shade trees on the way and it was a lovely morning.
Essie was out in her garden when Ivy arrived.
“Oh, hello Ivy. I was expecting you today. How many dozen do you want dear? I’m afraid my hens are a little off their game these last few days. It must be the heat.”
“Do you have two dozen to spare?” Ivy asked thinking of the angel food cake she had planned for tomorrow’s quilting bee.
“I think so.” Said Essie. “Come on in.
It was a relief to be inside out of the glare of the sun. Essie had a bowl full of eggs on the kitchen table.
“I just gathered them a little bit ago.” She said.
She counted out two dozen into Ivy’s basket. Ivy picked one up and turned it over and over. It had a bit of… well what looked very much like chicken poop on it. Not wanting to start off with a comment about that, Ivy instead ventured,
“They look a little smaller than I thought they would be. And Essie, what are these kind of. . . wrinkles in them?”
“Now Ivy, remember I told you that the eggs at the store have been sorted. They don’t sell imperfect eggs to the public. This is what eggs look like sometimes. It’s normal. You are just not used to ones that aren’t exactly perfect yet. They come in all sizes. Why sometimes I get eggs with two yolks, that are enormous. And of course they will need to be washed with a little soapy water before you put them in your refrigerator. But trust me dear. You will love the way they taste. There’s nothing like fresh eggs.”
Ivy looked doubtful. Some of the eggs in her basket were wrinkled. They were of various sizes. They needed to be washed, and besides all that, now there was chicken poop on her nice blue napkin.
Essie sent her on her way. By now the sun was close to high noon and Ivy was glad to be headed home. Really, this had not been the best day ever, so far.
Maybe she should have stayed in bed and kept that cow lick hair do.
I pushed my chair back from the computer a bit.
Me: Okay, all done. Can I go get dressed now?
I looked around and there they were, all sound asleep.
( )’s teacup flew, the doctor’s day planner fell off his lap and Little Red shouted, “More tea?”
Me: I’m done. 2700 words. Is that enough to secure my release?
Dr. RD: Well, there now, that wasn’t so bad, was it? We knew you could do it!
( ): [Under his breath] (I’ll bet it’s crap.)
Little Red Hen: I’ll just clear this up and be on my way. I have SUCH a list of things to do today, you would not believe . . .
Me: Anybody want to read it?
Dr. RD: I don’t think that will be necessary. Do you?
He glanced at his cohorts.
Shaking of heads.
Me: As you wish.
I smiled and waved at them as they hustled off.
Ignorance is bliss.
Or so they say.
And revenge is sweet.