The first 447 words.

I took a shot at National Novel Writing Month again this year. And just like last year, I got a start and then... stopped. Truth be told, I only sat down to write for one night, and just let some words and story lines fall out of my mind. But I wrote 5,338 words that night. It was fun. I liked it. I still don't know why I give up each time. That's how I roll, apparently. Because I've neglected this blog for a while, I thought I'd share a little bit of the story I started this year. I still don't know where, exactly, I was headed with this novel, but it was fun to create characters again. I particularly liked this one. You'll understand why.

Leslie squinted with one eye, taking an easy peek at the foot of her bed. Bronco, as expected. She rolled over, pulling the covers over her shoulders. Bronco had jumped onto the bed, batting one of many rogue hair elastics he’d swiped from the bathroom counter over the months.

“Bronco,” she whined, glancing at the clock. 5:17 a.m. A quick shuffle of her foot distracted the cat enough to make him tumble from the bed and race down the hall.

“Lunatic.”

Bronco entered her life as a kitten. A year later, he was no more or less insane, she’d decided. And why would he be? Her brother found the tiny meowing pistol in a garbage can behind his apartment building in Detroit. A garbage can. Leslie simply wouldn’t wrap her mind around that.

“Who throws away a kitten?” Leslie screamed into the phone when Thomas called her that night, coddling the hungry kitten in a kitchen towel. “And get him out of that towel, Thomas! Make a bed! Find a blanket!”

Thomas calmly told her to breathe, and from the other end of the line, 2,343 miles away, Leslie laid her forehead on the kitchen table.

“I have to take the kitten, don’t I?” she muttered to her youngest brother, while staring at the half-empty bowl of cat food in the dining room. She had two cats already. Lilly and Linus. Her true loves, if she was being honest. Now, she typically wasn’t one to play favorites, but who was she kidding? Lilly! And Linus! She felt her heart flutter just thinking of the cats she’d had since she was 22. Embarrassing? Yes. But then she remembered she had monkeys on her pajama bottoms that she was wearing at 8 o’clock on a Friday night, and thought better of being embarrassed by her feline love.

“You know I can’t have this cat,” he reasoned. “Devin’s allergic. Our landlord is a dick. And seriously, Leslie, this is you we’re talking about. Of course you’re going to take the kitten.”

She took the effort to lift her forehead from the table only to bump it back down. Twice.

“Yes,” Leslie mumbled. “I’ll take the kitten.”

Dammit, she thought, looking again at the food bowls after she hung up the phone. Like she was going to let a poor, thrown away kitten roam the streets of Detroit. She grew up in Detroit. It was no place for a teenager, nonetheless a wayward kitten. She realized with this logic she’d likely end up with thousands of cats by age 40. She furrowed her brow and considered that a moment.

So many cats…

“Fuck,” she said aloud, to no one in particular.