“It was a dark and stormy night.” I considered my choice of opening sentences carefully. Yuck! Too banal. Besides, I’m pretty sure an English teacher took twenty points off my assignment before she’d read more than the first line the last time I used it.
“Thunder rolled across the North Georgia mountains; it sounded like little men bowling in heaven.” I got up to get a drink of water and hopefully to shake loose whatever was stuck in my head. Too Rip van Winkle. I don’t want to have to apologize to Washington Irving.
I sat back down at my computer and backspaced until I was left with a blank screen. Maybe I shouldn’t start with the weather. “Pansy wasn’t beautiful, but men seldom noticed.” Great balls of fire! Now I’m channeling Margaret Mitchell.
It’s a bad writing day when the delete button gets more of a workout than the rest of your keyboard. Maybe I’ll go throw a load of laundry into the washer. The dishwasher needs to be emptied, too.
I sighed and positioned my hands above the keyboard in serious typing pose until my arms started to get tired.
“Once upon a time, there was….”
Did I really want to write a fairytale? Maybe. OK, then.
“Once upon a time, there was a woman who dreamed of being a published author. Unfortunately, she lived with her stepmother and her two stepsisters, who kept interrupting her while she was writing. They made her do chores. She scrubbed the laundry on a rock at the creek. She washed the dishes and mopped the floors. Her hands were terribly red and sore.
But she didn’t lose heart. Ella had her dream and it kept her going. She sang while she worked, and the birds, the rats, and the little white poodle followed her around. Her favorite song was Paperback Writer by the Beatles. The puppy barked the rhythm and the birds twittered the back-up. The rats squeaked and applauded when they finished.
One night, her stepmother and stepsisters were invited to a party. There was supposed to be a handsome prince attending, and her stepsisters hoped that he was planning on bringing a bunch of his friends along. It had been a long time since they’d had dates.
Ella was excited that her stepfamily was going to be gone for an entire evening. She’d have lots of uninterrupted time to write! She waved goodbye to them and headed for her laptop computer. She turned it on, propped her feet on the coffee table, and started to write.
Her first attempt was deplorable. ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ was quickly deleted. The opening line about thunder was deleted just as quickly. Ella was depressed. She had all this free time to write, and she couldn’t think of anything to write. She put her laptop down and wandered out to the garden.
A tear ran down her cheek. She’d never be a published author if she didn’t actually write anything. Writer’s block now? That was so unfair.
Lights twinkled, and all of a sudden there was an elderly lady sitting next to her. ‘Great,’ she thought. ‘This is just what I need.’
‘You’re crying, my child,’ the lady noted sympathetically in a honeyed drawl. She wore a velvet green dress that looked just like the one Scarlet O’Hara had made out of the parlor drapes.
‘I’m having a pity party for myself,’ Ella answered. ‘And I don’t remember inviting guests,’ she added in a mutter under her breath while flashing the elderly lady a half-hearted smile.
‘You want to go to the party with your family, don’t you?’ The question was obviously rhetorical, because by the time Ella opened her mouth to answer, she found herself dressed in the dress Scarlet O’Hara had worn to the picnic at Twelve Oaks. It was so tight she couldn’t breathe, much less speak. The next thing she knew, she was in a chauffeured limo heading to a party.
‘Bruno? Is that you?” The chauffeur with the curly white hair raised a hand and growled at her. Now that was freaky. Her dog was driving a limo. Who was that elderly lady anyway?
The limo arrived at a house so large it looked like a palace. She would swear it even had battlements and gargoyles. She got out of the limo with some difficulty; what sadist had invented these ridiculous hoop skirts?
Loud music blasted from the open double doors at the top of a long stone staircase. Ella headed up the stairs, wincing as the whalebone corset dug into her ribs. Finally reaching the doors, she stopped to take in the explosion of energy in the room in front of her.
Scantily clad young people were dancing to hip hop music. The bass shook the room, and Ella put her hand to her forehead. She was getting an enormous headache. She was dressed for a costume party, and this obviously wasn’t one. It was downright embarrassing. If she ever saw that old lady again, she was going to have a few choice words for her. She turned to leave.
‘Wait!’ A man dressed in black jeans and a black silk shirt open to the navel to display his heavy gold jewelry chased her down the stairs. She was dressed in 1850; he was dressed in 1970. Maybe it was a costume party.
She slowed down impatiently and turned to face him. ‘What?’
‘You’re not leaving already, are you?’ he asked.
‘Can I get your phone number?’ His face pleaded with her. ‘Please?’
‘No.’ She pulled the limo door open and started the precarious process of getting in while wearing a hoop skirt. One of her shoes came off and landed in the street. She ignored it, closed the door and told Bruno to get a move on. He took off like a greyhound chasing a rabbit out of the starting gate. Glancing out of the back window, she saw the 70’s dude holding her white satin pump to his chest as if it were a precious possession. ‘Now that’s just creepy,’ she thought, shuddering.
Back at home, Bruno turned back into her beloved poodle and Ella found herself dressed in her jeans and t-shirt once more. She ended up having to search for a pair of sneakers, though. She was still wearing the one satin shoe she hadn’t dropped.
She looked at the clock. It was midnight. That old woman had made her waste her precious writing time, although admittedly she hadn’t been using it effectively. She still had a few minutes before everyone else got home, though. She booted up her laptop and got to work.
An hour later, her stepmother and stepsisters came home. Ella had written 1200 words, and they actually seemed to be good words. She was happy. Perhaps her outing had stirred her creative juices.
‘Hey Ella!’ one of her stepsisters called. ‘There’s a guy here to see you. He says his name is Prince and he’s got one of your shoes? He says he’s in love with the owner of these shoes, if you can believe that. He’s nuts, but he’s kind of cute.’
Ella groaned. ‘Um…that’s your shoe. I borrowed them when you were out. The other one is on the hall table.’
‘Really? It doesn’t look familiar,’ her stepsister replied.
‘I swear that you own those shoes,’ Ella lied. ‘That guy is all yours if you want him.’
‘He is kinda hot.’
Ella grimaced. ‘Go for it. I’m going back to my writing now.’
‘You’re always writing,’ her stepsister complained. ‘It’s so boring. You never go out and have adventures. I don’t know what you even have to write about.’
Ella just smiled."