Hello, beautiful people! Welcome to the second challenge since A Cornered Gurl’s relaunch. What do I have brewing in my mind for you now? Something I truly hope you can get into. We will tackle the task of animating your life or telling me about your life as it is linked to or related to your favorite animated movie, cartoon, claymation, etc. You get the drift.
And how will we do this? We will do so using the 50-word story (or a minisaga).
50-word story (minisaga)
A minisaga, mini saga or mini-saga is a short story based on a long story. It should contain exactly 50 words, plus a title of up to 15 characters. However, the title requirement is not always enforced and sometimes eliminated altogether. Minisagas are alternately known as microstories, ultra-shorts stories, or fifty-word stories.
The challenge: Please tell me about your life, but do so by comparing it or linking it to your favorite animated movie, cartoon, claymation, etc. Are The Flintstones your favorite go-to cartoon? How so? How is it directly related to your life? Dexter’s Laboratory is closely related to who you are and how your life operates — tell us how. The Incredibles directly define you and your family in some sort of way . . . really? Give us the details, but guess what — do so using exactly 50 words.
I was blessed with a quick wit, nearsightedness, and too much useless information packed into my head. I had an oddball gang of friends who didn’t mind carrying on with me. Sarcasm was my bosom buddy and I wasn’t popular, but I was well-known. Daria should have been my name.
Let’s get our thinking caps on, beautiful people!
•Request to be added as a writer by emailing me at acorneredgurl[AT]gmail[DOT]com with “Please Add Me” as the subject line and please include the link to your Medium profile. Don’t want to be a writer in A Cornered Gurl? Simply comment with your response in this challenge post, or create your own post to your profile or in another publication, however, please use the tags, “Challenge” and “Pandemic.”
The challenge will run from Sunday, January 22, 2023, until 6:00 PM, Sunday, January 29, 2023 (with publishing days as Friday, Sunday, and Monday based on ACG’s publishing schedule). Please have “Animate your life 50-word story” as the subtitle for your submission. CHALLENGE SUBMISSION BEGINS NOW!
Let’s explore what we can do with a fun topic that will allow us to reminisce, and hopefully have a great time while we get creative, too.
He lay in the middle of the road, shivering from the intense cold. Darius slows the car down to a stroll. Serena opens the door — tightens the feel of her winter coat around her, and rushes to scoop up the precious thing into her arms.
It is a cold, late autumn night. She and Darius had just left a charity event thrown by her company — a non-profit organization built on the premise of revitalizing their city and finding homes for stray dogs and cats. What were the chances they would land upon a chocolate Cocker Spaniel/Labrador mix in the middle of the road on their drive back home?
She looks into its eyes and rolls it over onto its back, staring past its belly to check its gender — male. She whispers to the drenched ball of fur, “Fate. I think we’ll call you, ‘Fate.’”
She runs toward their car, pulls the door open, and quickly slides onto the heated seat. Darius is thumping his ashy thumbs on the steering wheel. He stares at her intently and says, “Who could leave such a sweet baby to fend for itself out here in all this?!” His hands flail dramatically in front of him.
“I named him ‘Fate.’ I think he will be a great addition to our family, Darius. Sebastian and Nora will fall in love with him. They truly will!”
Darius and Serena had a two-year-old Goldendoodle and a four-year-old Maine Coon cat at home. Both were rescues. Sebastian, the Goldendoodle, had been found in a ditch three miles away from their home on a sunny July morning. Nora, the Maine Coon, had been seen running feverishly out of a burning shed one mile away from their church.
Their home had been a quiet, welcoming spot for both animals. And now, it will be one for Fate, too.
As they pull into the driveway, Serena towel-dries Fate with one of the heavy towels the couple keeps in their car as part of their “emergency kit.” The little thing moves gingerly in her care as if to signal he understands what is going on. She scoops him up and places a gentle kiss on his snout.
Inside their home, Sebastian sits with Nora in their living room — his fluffy bottom faces the fireplace. Nora nestles alongside his chest — sleeping to the sound of his heartbeat.
Serena tiptoes to their kitchen — pulls out a favorite brand of puppy dog food, and sprinkles one scoop into Fate’s bowl. Next to this hearty meal, she fills another bowl with fresh water. She places Fate on the floor and watches his reaction.
The puppy lunges toward the bowl housing the food — hungry for a meal he hadn’t had in days. He swallows hurriedly, breathing in small pants between each bite. He shuffles his furry little body over to the water and sips until his belly pokes out.
Serena’s eyes fill with tears. One slips away and slides down her cold face. Darius stands at the kitchen entrance and gazes upon his wife and their new baby as they bond.
Who’s feeding whom? Who saved who?
As time passes, Fate grows along with Sebastian and Nora. The three of them fill Darius and Serena’s hearts with so much love. The couple watches their three fur babies interact with each other daily. The connection can only be described as “kismet,” — they were meant to be.
And with Fate’s name literally tying the family closer, Serena knows it is time to announce their newest addition. She turns to Darius as he watches the threesome plop around playfully in their backyard, leans closer to him, and nudges his chin. A glimmer in her eyes appears when she says, “Babe, I’m pregnant.”
The news floors Darius. It overcomes him with joy. They had tried for years to conceive and now … they could breathe easier. As the two of them zoom in on their small family, they envision it becoming bigger.
The work they do — the families they connect with when finding the best homes for stray dogs and cats invigorates them.
How will they continue their cause with a baby in tow?
They can and they will.
Someone has to fight the brutal fight of maintaining beauty and comfort in their thriving neighborhood. Someone has to feed the babies of the world — both humans and animals. Someone has to clear the streets of garbage, lost sneakers, and cigarette butts.
Fate brought more to Serena and Darius than just peace — he brought love — deep, everlasting love.
And now, on a chilly night in late November, not only have their hearts bloomed with indescribable joy, they are fed in full.
“How dare that son of a bitch put our daughter in the middle like this?! I hated him before, but now?! Rena, I could gut that fool. I’m so angry right now!”
“I know you are. But we have bigger fish to fry now. Bree isn’t mad at you. She isn’t mad at me. She is still open to making amends and being a part of your life again. Cari, that’s big. That’s huge! The universe will deal with Marcus.”
The universe and everything good and beautiful will deal with Marcus.
The morning light peeks in and kisses Cari gently on her cheek. I look at her as she sleeps — so peaceful. So calm. Last night had been an interesting turn of events. It was Marcus the whole time, behind the crazy ploy of me not attending Bree’s graduation. Why would he even think that would work?
“Good morning, beautiful.”
Cari turns to me, looks at me sheepishly, and smiles. She is full of sunshine and elegance. All the years of drugs and pain and torture seem to disappear when I look at her. Her beauty is everlasting.
“Good morning, my love. Are you ready for today? You are coming with me to get our tickets to Bree’s graduation, yes?”
The thickness of her Dutch accent clutches me — reels me in and takes me hostage. I had been thinking about this, and it seems like something she and Marcus should approach as Bree’s parents. I don’t think I should be there for this.
“I’ve been thinking about this, Cari. Marcus has already shown us how he feels about me. This — this entire issue needs resolving and I think you should go at this one alone. While you’re away, I’ll clean up, pack us a couple of light bags, and after the graduation is done, we’ll take a short trip away from these last few days.”
Cari sits up in my bed, raises herself on her elbows, cups my chin in her hands, and steals my heart yet again with her words.
“I won’t let him make me . . . us uncomfortable. Marcus is a baby in a man’s body with plenty of unsettled issues. I will do this alone . . . this time. If he crosses us again, I won’t do it alone. Understood?”
“I hear you and I understand.”
I watch Cari, as she leaves my place. Everything in me feels like shifting — like maybe I made the wrong decision to let her do this alone, but I won’t waver. I’m sure there will be other times we’ll have to stand toe to toe with Marcus and his antics.
When we first started dating, we had some serious knock-down drag-outs with him, and since then, it has been a blessing — learning to leave anger in the past. Learning to live my life with a more Zen-like approach to things rather than raging through it uncontrollably.
Cari may be recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, but I used to be full of anger — that was my drug. That was my nemesis. I gave it up four years ago with the help of counseling, yoga, and taking on more clients.
Bodywork is where I release. Knowing that I can provide a peaceful and tension-free experience for my clients gives me an incredible sense of purpose — an understanding of how important my work is.
Cari will be okay. She’s got this.
I hate that Rena won’t come with me, but I understand her stance on this. Marcus has always been sly and cunning. It wasn’t until we brought a child into this world that I opened — truly opened my eyes to who he was and how he handled life.
And I hated it.
He was not the man I wanted to raise my child with. He could not be who I wanted — who I needed. He lacked the emotional wherewithal to sustain life with me. And after our divorce, the drugs took over, and he had a field day turning our child against me.
As I approach his home, Bree rushes out to greet me. I park the car, ease myself out of it, and walk over to my child. I cannot believe how much she has grown — how lively she looks — how beautiful she is.
Every inch of my body is shaking. She pulls me into the tightest hug I have had in years, and I step back to look at her once again.
“Bree . . . baby girl, you are so beautiful. I am looking at me!”
“Haha. Dad says that all the time, ‘You look just like your mother.’ I think sometimes it angers him — the fact that I look so much like you. Where’s Rena?!”
“She decided it was best for me to come and do this alone. So, I am here by myself to get the tickets and speak to your daddy.”
“He isn’t here. He’s been gone since I woke up this morning — not answering his text messages, either. I kind of figured he’d do that. I told him you were coming to get the tickets.”
I let out an exasperated sigh. He knows there is unsettled business — feelings that I need to get off my chest regarding how he’d been manipulating our child. What a coward!
“Okay, Bree. I will talk to him. He will know how I feel and also how Rena feels about his actions. Let me get these tickets and head back to Rena’s place so we can get ourselves together.”
I watch her skip off happily in front of me toward their home. We settle into their kitchen, and she retrieves the tickets from her purse. She confirms the money had been received via CashApp. I hug her tightly, tell her I’ll see her tomorrow, and I head back to Rena’s.
“You should have seen her, Rena — all bubbly and tall and gorgeous! God, the child is the spitting image of me!”
“Haha. You’re kidding, right?! Sabrina has always been the spitting image of you!”
“How have I not seen it before? Seriously, babe. She has my entire face!”
“She always had your entire face! She has your heart, too. I think and I fear, though — the more she’s around her dad, the more he’ll attempt to influence her.”
“And that is what I don’t want. I can’t wait to see her tomorrow in her cap and gown. She has been through a lot — I put her through a lot, but she still got good grades and is going to an exceptional university!”
“She’s a brilliant kid, and I can’t wait to see her continue to excel in life. I’m also looking forward to the two of you building a bond once again.”
We settle into the afternoon sun. The two of us sit peacefully on my balcony, sipping iced coffee, and eating danishes. I take one look at this woman — the woman I love — the woman I would lose myself for, and I feel tears escaping my eyes.
We have the rest of our lives ahead of us — working on who we were, who we need to be, and growing away from our past.
I love her without fail and I will always love her until I cannot.
“Cari,” I whisper lightly in her direction. “Will you move back in with me?”
And as I wait for the answer, the silence in the pause causes my heart to race. She pushes her body up from the chair, smiles slyly at me, and whispers right back . . .
“My love, I have always been here.”
This concludes the At 4 am, She Calls for Comfort series. Thank you for reading!
Topher Brocklin stood there, weary-eyed and unfocused on the serious issue building before him. Had he seen Tess or Daphne earlier at all? Did either of them clock in? He scratched his oily head as if to unearth the answer.
“Well, officer … I — I can’t says I have.”
“You can’t say or you don’t know, Topher. Topher Brocklin? Those are two different things, you know?”
“I mean … I don’t recall. I can’t remember.”
Tamara huffed out an exasperated sigh and just shook her head. The officers stood there, flummoxed by the situation unfolding right before them. And the strange old man cried.
Just as the first tear fell, the shadow reappeared.
Officers Bends and Dibbs direct Topher Brocklin to the motel’s lobby. With what could be Tess’s hair sample bagged and tagged, they needed to know where she lives. Topher shuffles his Oompa Loompa’d body back to the lobby hurriedly. The intensity of what could be a harsh issue for the motel settled in his system unwantedly. Officer Dibbs has the first words since they exited the family’s room.
“We gon’ run this to the lab — have the forensics team flush this out. Run it through the database and see if we get any hits. We need a sample of Tess’s hair — DNA purposes and all.”
Topher searches for his address book and lunges toward the desk phone.
“I think I should be the one to call her . . . I mean — I think . . . this could end up being a lot for her. She ain’t the brightest of the three, but I can’t imagine how torn up something like this would make her.”
Officers Dibbs and Bends stare at each other intently. Both think the same thing, but only one will say it. Bends begins . . .
“Now, Topher, if Tess is the one that’s got herself into this mess, how you reckon us confronting her with the possibility of committing this crime is going to be too much for her? If she’s our gal — I highly doubt that.”
“Tess couldn’t do something like this. Had it been Daphne’s hair, I’d probably lean toward an ‘Oh, I can see that,’ but Tess?! She is quieter than a church mouse — lives with her aunt, Hazel, and their three cats, attends Sunday service religiously — both of’em, and has never missed a day of work. I just . . . this ain’t her.”
Officers Dibbs and Bends get the green light from the lab — Tess Lynne Windermere is in their criminal database — but from fifteen years ago. An arson, second-degree charge from back in her high school days. A sample of Tess’s hair isn’t necessary now — they have their proof. The two officers zip over to Tess’s house to make the arrest.
Tamara and Dale say their goodbyes to Topher and they head up the road to find another place to rest for the duration of the night. It is 3:00 AM, and the children have been asleep in their car for the last two hours. The family has had their fill and wants to be done with this town and the creepiness within it.
Dibbs bangs on the door of Tess’s home. Outside are three squad cars, including theirs, and four other officers. Each of them stands armed and dangerous, yet scared shitless after hearing about the story and the weird shadow.
Tess’s Aunt Hazel is the first to wake up. She slips on her robe, slides her feet into her slippers, and shuffles quickly to the door. Tess isn’t too far behind her.
“Who is it?! This time of mornin’, ain’t nobody out but trouble or the devil or both. Ain’t nothing godly comin’ at my door at this time! Who is it?!”
Officers Dibbs and Bends shout in unison . . .
“This is the Bloomfield Police, ma’am. Open the door! We’re here for Tess Windermere!”
Aunt Hazel turns her head sheepishly toward her impish niece, sucks her teeth, and unbolts the door.
Dibbs flashes a shiny pair of handcuffs before her eyes as soon as the door opens. He fancies himself a wrangler of sorts with the small contraptions and is eager to slap them on Tess’s wrists. Bends announces the Miranda rights to the air as if he’s singing them as a celebration. Officer Dibbs clamps the handcuffs onto Tess’s hands and smiles sinisterly in her direction.
“You are under arrest for the murder of one Magda Kowalski. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Tess looks around the room, stares into her aunt’s eyes — sighs heavily — cries into the thick air, “I knew you were comin’. I just didn’t know when.”
Officer Beau Dibbs and Officer Clive Bends escort Tess away from her home, each hanging on to one of her arms, the handcuffs clinging in sync with their footsteps.
The three of them headed toward the arresting officers’ squad car, and the entourage readied themselves to follow behind them.
Bends gently guides Tess into the backseat, checks the handcuffs one more time, and closes the door.
As he turns away from Tess, she winks at the shadow sitting next to her and smiles.
We are tasked with finding another temporary residence while my building undergoes renovations. His parents are kind enough to usher us in on such short notice, but I don’t feel welcome here. I know we won’t make it for the next eight months. That’ll be impossible.
I see the look in Cleveland’s eyes — the intensity — the strain. He wants more than anything for us to be in our own place without the looming gazes of others beating down on our backs.
I want that too.
To say that I am blessed to have Ruthann would be an understatement. She’s been by my side for the last three years, and if I had to do them without her, I don’t think I could. My folks whisperin’ behind our backs. I can hear my father wake up in the middle of the night and press on our floorboards with the weight of his body — pacin’ back and forth. Pacin’ . . .
We ain’t causin’ no trouble. We’re just here — just here, tryin’ to make it. Ruthann’s been searching for a place that’ll house us for the next eight to nine months. We are hopeful her place will be done by then. While she searches and works, I work double shifts at my job and save up some money.
Her pops beatin’ down her cellphone with his text messages. Some of them happy. Some of them sad. Some of them angry. Ruthann just shakes her head, sends a simple and respectful response, and keeps it movin’.
Between the two of us, we’re gonna make it. We don’t need them. We got us.
Cleveland hasn’t been himself lately. I know this struggle — the one of us searching for yet another place to stay is overpowering his strength. He hates imbalance. He is always centered. He is the only man I know who meditates before the sun rises and runs two miles before he showers, kisses my head, and rushes off to work.
When we talk, we have meaningful conversations. He is fluent in expressing himself about various artworks; both literary and visual, music, construction and engineering, and the current state of our roller coaster economy.
Being that I spend most of my days conducting research on authors, science, and the best way to make our library stand out in our city, I love delving deeper into things outside of this realm. Cleveland gives me that.
I think I may have found the perfect temporary spot for us. It’s a place not too far from my oldest sister. She sent me the landlord’s information. I’ll meet with him tomorrow after I talk to Cleveland about it tonight.
I am crossing my fingers and toes for this space. It would be a ten-minute walk to the library and about a fifteen-minute drive to Cleveland’s job. Talk about convenience! Wish us luck!
Before I started dating Ruthann, I dated an older woman named Val. She may have been older, but she was not wiser. And her folks loved me! Her pops took one look at me when I first met him and said, “Now, Val, if you can’t stick with this one, what are you going to do? Come on over here, son!”
Her folks instantly accepted me. I didn’t have to jump through any hoops — didn’t have to mourn my dark skin while I’m still livin’ — didn’t have to constantly prove myself.
We didn’t work out. And it had nothing to do with her folks, nah. She had other plans for the future — plans that didn’t include me cuz she started messin’ around with her mechanic.
After I shook the weight of that relationship offa me, seven months later, Ruthann appeared. And here we are.
It’d be my demise if Ruthann dogged me the same way Val did. That’d be the kinda wound I wouldn’t be able to heal from quickly.
I just got a text message from Ruthann. She may have found the perfect spot for us. She sent some photos my way — place looks great! I’m excited to see it. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be out of my folks’ place soon and into one we can call ours — if only for a little while.
The stink of being unwanted is travelin’ along with us and lemme tell you, it’s not a welcoming stench.