From my WEbook.com group's all-but-abandoned literary science fiction project: Jaydo's Orb of Peril :
If you'd like to contribute to this story: click on the link, read the prologue and then contribute away!!
JAYDO'S ORB OF PERIL
Ch. 1: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
My chapter contribution (to be read after the Prologue, but it kind of stands alone):
On the other side of the world, a different storm was brewing. The kind with lightning strikes and charging stampedes of thunder.
Five-year-old Bianca stuttered her ABC's into the moist windowpane like Nana taught her, trying to make Nature's war outside less troubling.
With her daddy on a very long business trip across the sea, Bianca's nightmares had started up again. There was only so much that Mommy could do. She didn't know how to sing the bass parts to Jericho: "And the walls came a-tumblin' down!" Only a man as big and strong as Daddy could do it properly.
So Bianca waited by the window, watching the torrents of rain like one child watches another's tantrum. Watching and waiting.
She could hear Mommy talking to Nana on the phone in the kitchen, but only muffled syllables that all sounded like, "mmm hmmm..." in different octaves. It was a song, but not a happy one.
The tension inside matched the storm outside. Bianca wanted to cry, she missed Daddy so much. He'd been away for business before, but never this long. It was several weeks, at least. He did send her a package on her birthday, just after he'd been called away. That was December, and now it was March. Her fingers tapped against the dark, cool glass as she counted the months in between.
"Bianca," came her mother's soft voice. The little girl whipped around. She'd been so absorbed in the thunder--and getting to Z--she hadn't heard the phone call end. Mommy's face looked sorry. "Dinner's ready, honey."
As troubled as Bianca felt, the mood wasn't a conversation suppressor. As always, she had plenty to say, and plenty to ask.
"Is Nana coming for St. Patrick's Day? Are we gonna do cookies with green frosting?"
Mommy smiled, but not with her teeth. "Sure. It's tradition, isn't it? Eat your food, please. Don't play with your peas."
"What about Father's Day. That's next month, huh?"
"No, sweetie. Not till June. There are two months in between, right?" Mommy was always quizzing her.
"Oh yeah! January, February, March, April, May, June!" It felt good to have the right answer, especially on nights like this when nothing felt quite...right.
Mommy was back to brooding in silence, twirling spaghetti much longer than it needed.
The phone rang, and Mommy jumped up to answer, leaving Bianca at the table, her mouth still open mid-question.
Bianca stewed, scratching the food around her plate. Scritch. Scritch. Scritch.
Nobody poked a head back in to reprimand her, so she set her fork down and slumped. Mommy had darted into the front room this time--any room Bianca wasn't in. That seemed to be the phone rule these days.
Bianca slid out of the high-backed chair and crept across the dark wood floor to the open door frame--the only door frame in the house without an actual door inside. She liked how open it was, especially now.
"A what particle? Slow down, sweetheart." Mommy took a deep breath. "Okay. What should we do? Can we come there?"
Bianca had to strain to hear as the words went from clear to muffled to clear again. Pacing, pacing.
"What difference does that make!? If it blows, it blows! Damn the world! I want to be with you!"
She didn't mean to give herself away, but a sharp gasp came out just the same. Mommy never swore. Well, aside from dang and crap, and Daddy said those didn't count.
For a second, Mommy made eye contact with Bianca, her face wrinkled and tight. Then the harried woman marched into her bedroom, and locked the door.
Stunned and hurt, Bianca charged off to her own bedroom, throwing her face into the puffy blue pillow. When she came up for air, her skin streaked with tears that felt hot like acid. Her eyes rolled back in her head as she sobbed, then came to rest on her birthday present: a winking monkey. She pulled him in and squeezed. He wasn't soft like her old giraffe, but he won her heart the second Mommy read the card from Daddy.
A monkey for my little monkey, to join in your monkey business. I love you, Bianca.
Keeping her eyes wide open against the threatening nightmares, she sang to herself, "Joshwa fit the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho. Joshwa fit the battle of Jericho, and the walls came a-tumblin' down."