Ariana sat at the tiny wooden table she was using for a laptop desk in the tiny bedroom they’d converted into an office and booted up her laptop. As she waited, she admired the newly painted walls – pumpkin orange on top and chardonnay on the bottom.
“Okay, Ari,” she said out loud. “No facebook today.” She furrowed her brow and chewed on her lip. “Only editing.”
She double clicked on her story’s icon on the desktop and waited for it open.
Leeni moved her hand from the table to turn the page in book she was reading. Her red fingernail polish…
“Red? Red is boring. What kind of red?” Ariana drummed her fingers on her desk while she tried to think up a shade of red. “Can’t think of anything. To the thesaurus! But no facebook.” She opened her browser and typed in thesaurus.com.
“Bittersweet, bloodshot, blooming…Cardinal is nice. Crimson, no. Florid. Sounds dirty. Magenta, maroon, no and no. Ooh. Wine. Wine is nice. Maybe I’ll get a glass of wine.” She pushed back from her desk and traipsed into the kitchen, pouring herself a glass. She swirled the remaining liquid in the bottom of the green bottle.
“Not enough to leave in there.” Pouring the rest into her glass, it nearly overflowed. “Whoops!” She took a sip and sighed. The wind howled in the darkness outside her window and she opted to wait to take it to the outside recycling until later.
“Well. Shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach. You know what would go well with wine? Cheese.” She rummaged through the fridge until she found a block of sharp cheddar hidden way in the back. The first slice of cheese she cut off went straight into her mouth and as she chewed, she cut off several more slices. Tucking the cheese back into the fridge, her eyes landed on some grapes in the bottom drawer.
“Ooh, grapes go with cheese.” Pulling the bag out, she eyed her wine again. Looking back and forth between the two, she tucked the grapes back into the fridge and took another sip of wine. “What about crackers? They go with cheese.” Digging through a cupboard, she came across half a sleeve of club crackers. She nibbled on one.
“A little stale. Eh, that’s okay. The wine and cheese will cover that up.” She dumped all the crackers on the plate and then went back to the fridge, brought out the cheddar and cut up the rest of the block. Taking a bit of cheese and cracker, she chewed slowly and smiled, then startled.
“Editing! Come on Ari! You’ve wasted 10 minutes just getting a snack.” Grabbing her plate and glass, she went back to her office and settled herself into her chair.
“Okay, red. No, not red. Sure, her nails were wine-colored.” Ariana took another sip of wine and placed a slice of cheese on a semi-stale club cracker and popped it into her mouth, chasing it with another sip of wine. She typed in the change of nail polish and leaned back to re-read the section after shoving another cheese and cracker into her mouth.
Leeni moved her hand from the table to turn the page in the book she was reading. Her wine-colored fingernail polish contrasted with the rough, cream-colored paper.
“If it contrasts, her nails should be smooth.” She added the word and took another drink of wine followed by another slice of cheese with a cracker. Her cheeks flushed as the wine from her now half-empty glass took effect. She took a deep breath and continued.
Fire crackled in the fireplace, the snapping and pooping…
Ariana snorted. “Pooping? Seriously?” She burst into raucous laughter. “What am I? An eight-year-old boy?” Still laughing, she swapped an ‘o’ for a ‘p’ and stuck another cheese and cracker in her mouth. As she chewed, she thought her other writer friends would get a kick out of her mistake.
“Just one second on facebook to share,” she said and clicked open a second tab on her browser. Logging in and finding her writers group, she typed in a quick status.
Apparently the fire in my novel’s fireplace snaps and poops.
She snorted again and was about to close out of her facebook when a notification popped up. Someone had reacted with a laughing face. She cleared out the notification and then a comment came through.
Does the poop smell like burning books?
Ari laughed again and tried to think of a clever reply. Was October too early for a Christmas joke? Surely not.
Maybe a little more like the Nucracker’s chestnuts.
For the next 15 minutes, the comments and replies rolled in, Ariana trying to keep up with the conversation and neither fall out of her chair nor choke on her snack as she laughed. Growling as she realized how much time had passed, she added a final comment.
Guys! I’m supposed to be editing! I have to get out of here!
She closed the window before she could be distracted by anyone else’s replies.
“Dang it!” she cried. “45 minutes and two sentences! Get it together, Ari!” She shook her head and her eyes swam from the effect of all the wine she’d had. She blinked several times to try to clear out her buzz.
Fire crackled in the fireplace, the snapping and popping a calm soundtrack for the intensity of the suspense she was reading.
“She has a book. They know she’s reading. I don’t need to specify that.” Positioning her cursor, she deleted the final few words, nestling the period next to suspense. She reached for another cracker, but her fingers found nothing. She sighed and grabbed the empty plate, walking it to the kitchen and half-dropping it into the kitchen sink when it slipped out of her fingers.
“Whoops!” She turned to look, but the house was still empty. Her husband had taken the girls to see a movie, but she couldn’t remember the title. He’d taken them so she could get some editing done.
“Editing! Focus!” Ariana went back to her desk and drained the last of the wine. She blinked again several times, the words slightly blurring.
Fire crackled in the fireplace, the snapping and popping a calm soundtrack for the intensity of the suspense. Leeni’s breath was quick and shallow, her eyes flicking from one side of the page to the other with increasing speed. A knock came to her door and she jumped, slamming her knee into the table.
“Ow!” she cried.
A knock came to Ariana’s door and she jumped. Eyes wide, she stared into the hallway that joined her office to the kitchen. Whoever was at the front door knocked again. Ariana slowly stood, grasping the doorframe for balance. She wobbled her way to the door and opened it.
“Hi!” A girl stood on her front step. She must have been about 11. “Would you like to buy a wreath for my American Heritage group?”
“Your what?” Ariana asked.
“American Heritage. It’s kind of like Girl Scouts, but different. Would you like a wreath?”
“Um, sure.” Ariana blinked a few times, confused.
“Great. What kind of wreath would you like?” The girl pulled out a catalogue and explained the different kinds of wreaths, offering her own opinion on a few of them. The words jumbled together in Ariana’s mind and she struggled to keep up with the fast talking of the girl on her step. “So, which one do you like the most?”
Ariana stared at the catalogue again. “Maybe this one.” She pointed at a random wreath.
“Are you sure you want that one? Those needles drop pretty fast off that one.”
Ariana laughed. “I thought you were trying to sell a wreath.”
“Well, yeah,” the girl said. “But I don’t want you to hate it and then not buy one next year.”
“Already thinking of next year?” Ariana could hardly think about tomorrow. Perhaps the wine had something to do with that.
“Well, sure. My dad owns a business and he said that the only thing that sets anyone apart these days is customer service. So if I’m going to have good customer service, I need to make sure that my customers understand what they’re buying so that they’re happy with it and will make another. It’s less work to retain a customer than to try to get new ones.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to tell your customers that, though.” Ariana smiled. This girl was spunky. She liked her.
“Everybody knows it anyway, so it’s not like I’m spilling some big secret.” The girl smiled and turned her attention back to the catalogue. “I think that this wreath would look the best with your house. It compliments the firs you already have in your front yard.”
The sound of tires on the pavement and headlights pulled their attention outside. Her family was back.
“Shoot,” Ariana said.
“What’s the matter? Wrong house?”
Ariana laughed. “No. I was supposed to be getting work done and I’m afraid I didn’t get much done at all while I had the chance.”
“It’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Ariana shook her head at the girl. “Why don’t you wait just a second and give my husband the same spiel and see what he thinks.”
When her husband and kids walked up to the house, their daughter Melissa, awkwardly said hi to the girl on the steps before rushing into the house.
“Good evening, sir,” the girl said, seemingly undisturbed by Melissa’s behavior. She then pitched buying a wreath to him.
“Oh, well,” he said, looking through the catalogue. Ariana’s buzz was starting to dim and she was glad to be thinking a little more clearly again. “I think this fir one would probably look the best, don’t you?”
“Of course, sir. That was my recommendation.”
“You have some good selling skills, young lady.”
“My dad owns a business and he told me that the only thing the sets places apart today is customer service.”
“I’ll also need you to fill out this form.” She handed over the purchase form and a pen and waited patiently as he filled out the little boxes.
There you are,” he said, handing it back. “So, do we pay you now or when you deliver?”
“You’ll need to pay now, sir.”
“Of course.” He pulled out his wallet and counted out some bills.
“Not many people carry cash,” the girl commented.
“Cash on hand is always handy.” He smiled as he handed over the bills and she re-counted and then carefully marked him as paid on her form.
“Thank you very much. I’ll be back in a month or so to deliver your wreath.” She waved and hopped down the steps, skipping down their driveway and then up the driveway of the next house.
“So,” her husband said, wrapping his arm around her shoulder as they walked into the house. “Did you get much editing done?”