A high school English teacher is home on summer break with her two teenage daughters, two dogs, and one kitty.
Each June, the teacher brainstorms various plots for her summer writing endeavors. During the first week of this break, she started journaling snippets from life that could become stories. She couldn’t decide if her next piece would be YA fiction, psychological thriller, memoir, self-help, Greek tragedy, or all the above.
Here are the bare bones of the first five days of her journal:
Day One is relaxing, rejuvenating, and resurrecting. The sun shines, girls swim, house sparkles, and pets get extra tender loving care.
Mom reads a mindless magazine, organizes junk drawers, and completes three Sudoku puzzles.
Dad gets off work early and cooks. The Family eats together and ends the day with a friendly game of badminton.
As Zac Brown would say, “Life is good today!”
The next day isn’t as sunny and involves some strife. This is to be expected since the household needs to readjust as a unit, sharing the seasonal time and space together.
Mom spends the morning cleaning nooks and crannies that get neglected during the school year. She wields her telescopic duster and sweeps away clouds of dust bunnies from ceiling fans. Between sneezes, she conquers cobwebs from corners and lamps.
Mom cleans out the refrigerator and purges ancient leftovers, rotten lemons discolored like limes, and plastic containers full of unidentifiable spoiled objects. She’s proud of her pristine fridge and keeps opening it to cool off and admire her scour power.
While Mom acts like Cinderella, The Teens play like Hansel and Gretel, leaving behind a trail of waffle crumbs, wet towels, and strands of blonde and brunette hair.
Blonde-Teen barges into the house after using the swimming pool but neglects to use a towel (probably because she left them out in the overnight rain). She drips all over to find Mom who assumes this must be an emergency. Perhaps, it was to the girl who urgently needed to know where the new pool floats were. Mom blows up on Blonde-Teen who has a nervous laughing condition and can’t stop giggling. Mom kicks sopping hyena out of the house.
Blonde-Teen finds and inflates a flamingo float, relaxes in the pool, and snores louder than the rap music she blares out there.
Pets enjoy their humans being home. They have more freedom to wander, explore, and cause havoc.
Kitty gets to hang out upstairs, but jealous puppy poops behind the couch and tries to get family to think it’s Kitty. The golden retriever sized, conspiracy poo proves otherwise. Behind the couch happens to be cranky older dog’s favorite place to hide. Older dog hates Puppy.
Kitty scratches his nails on the screens and lays on the pub table! That’s right. Orange tabby on table. (This will probably end up being a horror story.)
Brunette-Teen rises at noon. She grunts when asked to vacuum and do her laundry. She overloads washing machine and ruins the gasket.
Kitty climbs into dryer. He is safely replaced with a dryer sheet.
That evening, Teens and Parents discuss household responsibilities, chores, and attitudes. Teens concede to a verbal agreement to try harder on all counts.
Mom doubts things will improve and considers getting a summer job or two. She completes online applications to sell beaded jewelry and taffy on a boardwalk on the coast in North Carolina. Northwestern Pennsylvania doesn’t have access to the ocean and is too close to potential domestic tornadoes.
Brunette-Teen actually wakes before PM and asks to go shopping with her friend and her mother. Mom says yes before reminding teen of verbal agreement.
Mom enters Brunette-Teen’s room and sees candy wrappers and yet another wet towel on the floor near a pile of clothes, near a pile of crumbs, near a partridge in a pear tree.
Mom feels good about taffy application.
She scolds Brunette-Teen to clean room upon her return but to take care of kitty litter before leaving. It was too late to ground her for breaching the verbal contract since her ride was already on the way. Why punish another mother?
Mom takes trash outside. She walks to the end of the driveway and checks to see if the garbageman came yet.
Mom makes a dirty discovery.
Brunette-Teen dumped kitty litter into an eighty-gallon garbage can after the garbageman left. She did not put the soiled litter in a bag. Litter fertilizes the bottom of the just-emptied can. Teen’s ride arrives. Teacher Mom pleads with Shopping Mom to keep the girl until she is an adult.
Mom goes into the house and cries. She just wants some peace and sunshine but not when it will beat down on her extra stinky garbage can for the next week.
Mom tries to lighten up. After all, the kitty litter guarantees to remain odor free for up to seven days.
Mom gets a text from the kitty litter culprit:
Brunette Teen: i’m sorry about the cat litter, i was unaware i couldn’t do that. it won’t happen again. would you like to go on a date tonight? my treat
Mom: I have to check my calendar…
Brunette Teen: k
Mom: It turns out that I’m free.
Brunette Teen: lovely. the kid and dad can come too. but i can only pay for you cause i’m broke
Mom sleeps in and wakes to a TGIF scene. In the laundry room, a basket of folded, dry towels sits next to a misplaced broom that must have gotten used. The floors are swept, the pets are fed and watered, and the dishwasher is empty. The Teens nap together in the sunroom snoring like bear cubs.
Mom sits down with coffee and her laptop to write. She skims her journal for plot twists, conflicts, and resolutions.
She drafts a piece that begins: It’s not always sunny on summer break. Weather is unpredictable, but the sun’ll come out tomorrow. It might not always shine directly on your house, but it can be imagined on boardwalks, viewed in clean refrigerators, and inhaled in towels folded by young, sometimes helpful, paws.