Camp NaNoWriMo


Apparently 5.5 years is all it took for me to forget the pain and anguish of my last NaNoWriMo attempt. I ran across the beginnings of a novel from many years ago recently and I still like the idea enough to want to take a whack at it. A brief excerpt from the 2682 words I’ve strung together so far…


“Mondays are your day.” Sam’s father, Max, grabbed a coffee cup and slammed the cupboard door. On the other side of the table, Karen pushed her oatmeal around with her spoon. Karen hated oatmeal, especially when, like this morning, Mom forgot to add the raisins.

“I know, but there’s a shipment coming in to the nursery this morning.” Sam could sense a combination of frustration and guilt in his mother’s voice. “Eat it, don’t just stir it around, Karen,” she added.

“But, Mo-om —”

“Don’t argue with your mother, Kare-bear.” Max raised one eyebrow at his daughter until she sighed and took a bite. Then he turned back to his wife. “Mondays are always your day. You know this.” Dad’s jaw clenched in irritation. “So why do you always schedule shipments for Mondays?”

“It’s not something I have a lot of control over, Max.” The guilt had burned off, leaving only the frustration. “They don’t consult me about their delivery routes. They just bring the stuff when they bring it.”

As his parents continued arguing, Sam went to the pantry. He found the honey bear on the third shelf, where Karen couldn’t reach it, and brought it back to the table. Her eyes lit up and she wiggled a little in her chair as he squeezed honey all over her oatmeal. “Hurry up and stir it in,” he whispered, “before they see how much I gave you.” He took the bear back to the pantry before returning to the table.

“Fine,” Max said as Sam took his last bite. “Whatever, Jennifer. It’s not like I have a choice. They have to go to school. Obviously, I’m going to take them. Just like last Monday. And the Monday before that.”

And the Monday before that, thought Sam, but he kept quiet as he took his and Karen’s bowls to the sink. He knew better than to get involved. He caught Karen by one pig-tail and pulled her toward the front door. “C’mon, twerp. Get your shoes on.”

“Mo-om! Sam pulled my hair!” Karen wailed. She threw herself on the living room floor.

“Sam! Hands to yourself!” Jennifer rushed into the entryway with her keys in one hand and her coffee in the other. “Karen, get up. That’s not how a big girl would act. You’re almost five years old, remember.” Karen sat up to contemplate this. “Come put your shoes on and show me how ready for school you are,” her mother prompted.

Ten minutes and one melt-down later, everyone was finally packed, dressed and walking out the door. Jennifer kissed the kids, said a warm thank you to Max and headed off to the nursery in her work truck. Max held open the door to the back seat of the family sedan. “Hop in, everybunny!” Karen giggled and hopped toward the car.

“Hurry up!” Sam shoved her just enough to knock her off balance. Before she could start wailing again, Max scooped her up and plopped her into her car seat.

“I don’t like the baby seat,” Karen pouted. “I’m a big girl. I want to sit like Sam. On the seat seat.”

“I know, Kare-bear,” Max said. “But Sam is almost twelve. He’s a lot bigger than you. We’ve got to wait until you are as heavy as a box of rocks, remember? Right now, you’re just a box … of … pebbles!” He punctuated each word with a tickle.

“Sam is a box of rocks!” Karen giggled.

Sam rolled his eyes and pulled a book from his backpack. “Shut up, twerp.” His father gave him a pointed look. “What? She started it. Geez.” He slouched in his seat.

Max slammed the door and climbed into the front seat. “You’re the big brother, Sam. It’s your job to look out for her.” Sam had heard this lecture before, more than a few times. “You have to be the one she can always count on.” His father looked over the back of his seat. “All buckled up back there?” He backed the car out of the garage.


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