"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sample Sunday

In my attempt to both be a social butterfly and to meet people who might like to read what I write, I do the social networking thing, like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is pretty easy and I find myself updating my status often. Twitter is harder for me. I just can't think of that many interesting things to say every minute of every hour of every day. Most of the time, I just re-tweet things that interest me, or I reply to other people's stuff.


In my deepest, darkest, most dastardly dreams, I'd like to tweet "LOOK AT MY BOOK! BUY IT!" I'd include the link and keep re-posting it until someone replied, "SHUT. THE HELL. UP." Then I'd know I'd hit my saturation point. But I digress...

Sundays, on Twitter, are now "Sample Sundays." You post a sample of your work on your blog, then you point to it with a Tweet that has a hashtag of "#SS". (For those of you who don't Tweet, putting a hashtag in front of a word or abbreviation lets everyone find all the Tweets with that hashtag.

So here's my sample for #SS. It's from my short story, Clean Sweep, now on Kindle and Smashwords, for only 99 cents.

* * * * *

Either Grant Franklin was getting better with his aim, or he hadn't been using this toilet for at least two days.



Peri pushed a strand of blonde hair from her eyes and looked around the bathroom. The jaunty seaside d├ęcor seemed at odds with the teenage boy who used it. It also seemed unusually clean. She recognized the wispy swipes from her towel that remained after she sanitized the room two days ago. The faint smell of Lysol still clung in the closed space.


A small sigh escaped her as she pushed herself to a standing position, her right knee creaking like a rusty hinge. The beveled mirror was to her left, but she avoided looking at it. That reflection was never correct, anyway. Today she would see a face that looked younger than her muscles felt. On other days, when she felt young and sassy, the creases around her eyes and mouth reminded her that she was forty-eight, not twenty-eight. Mirrors were useless.


I know what I look like, she thought. Blonde, blue eyed and getting too old for this job. Gathering her bucket of towels and cleansers, Peri headed downstairs. As she entered the kitchen, she heard the garage door open and a hearty engine rumble to a stop.


"Oh, good, Peri, you're still here." Mrs. Franklin plopped two grocery bags on the counter. "I just went to the gas station, Good God, the pump actually stopped when it got to one hundred dollars and my tank still isn't full but I wasn't about to re-swipe my credit card." The tall brunette sighed. "You are so lucky to drive a smaller car. My Hummer just sucks the gas down as fast as I fill it up."


"Yes, I'm quite lucky," Peri told her, choking back her desire to say she wasn't stupid enough to buy a four-wheeled Goliath. "Do you need help with the groceries?"


"No, thank you, dear. It was only these two bags." Mrs. Franklin began taking items out and setting them on the island in the middle of the large kitchen, her hands flitting like small birds. Juice from the free range New Zealand steak seeped out of the packaging, onto the dark granite countertop Peri had just cleaned.


The housecleaner sighed. She knew she'd have to wait until Mrs. Franklin put the groceries away, then re-wipe the counter. Skylar Franklin wasn't really into cleaning up after herself.


"Peri, dear, I need to give you a check today, and I'm afraid I've lost your card again." The homeowner dug her checkbook out of her purse and began scribbling. "How do you spell your name again?"


"M-I-N-N-E-O-P-A."


She looked at the check before handing it to Peri. "Min-ew-paw?"


"Minn-ee-oh-pah."


"My goodness, dear, it's such a mouthful. Perhaps you should change it."


"Perhaps." Peri smiled and changed the subject. "So, where's Grant these days?"


"He's around." Her voice sounded light, but Peri noticed a momentary rigidness in her employer's toned shoulders, and the muscles in her slender neck strained for a heartbeat.


"Oh, I thought he was gone. His bathroom was so clean."


The brunette laughed a high, nervous twitter. "Maybe he's just growing up, getting neater."


Peri looked at her, one eyebrow cocked. "Boys or men, they never grow up that much. There's always a little 'aimlessness' around the toilet, if you know what I mean."


Mrs. Franklin blushed, but her narrowed eyes and tight lips told Peri to back off. "What time will you be here on Friday?"


"Ten, if that's all right."


"Oh." Peri saw a look of near-terror cross her employer's face. "Could you make it eleven? Grant likes to sleep in, and the vacuuming bothers him."


"Not a problem, Mrs. Franklin."


Peri threw her cleaning supplies back into her car trunk, then opened the driver's side door. She looked at the Franklin house for a moment. Two stories of Orange County magnificence, with a large front yard and the hint of an even bigger backyard, always kept beautifully maintained, from the rooftop down to the flowers. Beams of warm April sun erupted from the clouds, making it look like Heaven smiled on the Franklins.


And yet, something seemed out of place.


* * * * *

Like it? Go buy the rest of it! I'd stay and discuss it more with you, but I've got a date with Twitter.

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