This month I participated in Camp NanoWrimo. This event is similar to the regular NanoWrimo, except that instead of writing 50,000 words in a month, you get to pick your word count. I chose 25,000 words, because I thought that was a reasonable goal, achievable, and it would get me a bit ahead on my current project. Also, since I didn't quite beat Nano last year (for the first time!), I felt like I needed another challenge.
I was less consistent about writing every day than I like to be, but I was able to make up the difference on a regular basis anyway. During Camp, they put you together with a group of other people who are also writing, called your cabin. Our cabin didn't do quite so well.
As you can see, I still have a couple of days left to write, and I very well might. I ended at 25,753 words this morning, and it would be great to get a couple thousand more in before the weekend. After all, the book's not done yet!
But, since I have accomplished so much this month, I'd like to share a little bit of that with you. Without further ado, please welcome the first ever, rough draft excerpt of my next project which is as of yet unnamed:
A red splash of ketchup streaked across the vid screen; a bright green grass stain now blossomed across the bottoms of the white curtains, and each shelf in the room boasted one yellow fighter jet. Ripped shirts, a spilled cup of cranberry juice, crayon markings on the walls--it was a work of art, also known as a horrendous mess that needed to be cleaned up in… Jade glanced at the clock. Less than 20 minutes.
Sighing, Jade sprang to her feet and began to race around the room, grabbing fighter jets and throwing them in the toy bin, squirting the walls with a rather noxious cleaning solution, and slipping the torn shirts into the laundry where hopefully they wouldn't be noticed. She stopped to stare woefully at the grass stains on the curtains--how had that even happened?--and decided to let the maid deal with it. After all, cleaning was their job. Her job was children.
A door slammed, and Jade jerked her head up, holding some sort of toy sort awkwardly. She was home.
She took a deep breath and surveyed the room. Even though she knew they would hardly notice any mess, she still felt the need for it to be perfect.
"Jade!" Natasha's high-pitched voice rang out. "Yoohoo! I'm home!"
She was home early. Jade flopped into one of the big stuffed living room chairs and responded, "I'm in here!" She hoped that she hadn't missed any major catastrophes in the kitchen or bathroom, but there wasn't much she could do about it at this point.
Natasha sashayed into the room wearing very fitted white jeans, a loose shirt slathered with pink and yellow stripes, and gaudy earrings that hung down to her collarbone. If the loud jangling from her five thousand arm bracelets didn't alert you to her arrival, the blinding glare from the perfectly polished hardware on her designer purse certainly would.
"Did I tell you?" Natasha jumped right into her end-of-day storytelling. "Tina 1 went on a second date with that lavish young man she met at the opera last week, and she found out that he actually is an accountant! Can you believe it? That explains the money!" She laughed, a tinkling peal that mimicked a banjo pick pulled over harp strings.
"Good for her," Jade exclaimed pleasantly, willing her exhausted body to sit up a little straighter in front of her employer. "Did you have a nice time playing tennis today?"
"Oh yes! Of course Tiffany B. and Tiffany K. won--they always do--but Tina 1 and I always have more interesting chats!" She fluffed her already fluffy hair and sat down on the couch. "How were my little darlings today?"
"Angels," Jade responding, inwardly criticizing herself for lying. Unfortunately, she had tried telling the truth a few times, and it only made things more awkward. Of course, how could she think that Natasha's little darlings weren't perfect? They were made from Natasha's DNA after all! "We went to the park, played with fighter jets, and er…" she glanced up, catching another streak of ketchup on the ceiling. "...had hot dogs for lunch. They're at Mike and Tina 2's house right now, playing with their boys."
"Oh that is just perfect!" Natasha exclaimed. "I am utterly exhausted. Thank you so much for helping out today. Here is a little tip to get you through the week until you get the check. You deserve to relax tonight! Then, in the morning, Todd and I want to have a little chat with you. Say around 9?"
Jade froze for a moment. A talk? What on earth could this be about? She tried not to panic and put a pleasant smile on her face. "Of course, 9 will be perfect." Then, like a robot, she reached out for the $100 bill that Natasha held out. "Thank you."
"Alright dear!" Natasha stood with a flourish. "See you in the morning!"
Through the living room, past the kitchen, and out the side door Jade walked in a fretful worried daze. A faithful employee for three years, she logically deduced that she had nothing to worry about. But what if… what if they found someone else? A long lost relative. A more qualified nanny. A… dingo. Natasha was definitely the type to hire a wild dog to watch her children if there was an article somewhere that recommended it. Jade shook her head, trying to loosen the fear and wildly imaginative scenarios playing out in her head.
She entered her abode, a three-room apartment above the garage. It had a massive bedroom with a huge king-size bed and a walk-in closet, a kitchen/living room combo that included a dishwasher and dining room table, and a bathroom with a jetted tub. Just this apartment was worth the terrors of the little children next door. Scratch that. Just this tub was worth the terrors of the little children next door.
Taking a deep breath, she locked the door behind her, lit some candles, and began to fill the tub. In a few hours, it would all be over and either she would be living on the street (unlikely given the savings from this well-paid gig) or still employed.
The hot water was just below scalding and she sighed with relief as she immersed herself. This should be a requirement for all nannying jobs, she thought, particularly when she was responsible for boys like Chase and Wire. Twins, rambunctious, and always ready to rock and roll. She enjoyed her job, but it was exhausting.
With that thought, she drifted off into a calm doze.
The next morning, Jade dressed up a little. It wasn't that she thought they would care what she was wearing, it was that wearing one of her nicer shirts, her skinny jeans, and heels would make her feel more confident. She threw a pair of flats into her purse though, because she had a feeling the boys would be just as wild today as they were yesterday.
She strolled through the garden between her luxurious nanny's apartment and the massive main house, and waved at the gardener. Leroy was an extremely kind older gentleman who had worked for Natasha's parents before he worked for them. He kept the gardens looking beautiful and he always had something pleasant to say, but Jade had wondered more than once if he also buried bodies on the property.
When she strolled into the kitchen, she could hear the boys playing a video game in the other room. She sighed inwardly, because whenever Natasha let them play video games in the morning, that was all they wanted to do for the rest of the day and it put them in the mood of little angry badgers.
Natasha and Todd sat at the table eating bacon and eggs that Rinaldo had cooked, and looked up as Jade walked in. She grimaced a little.
"Morning!" she said, trying to sound cheerful and not like the little knots in her stomach were actively trying to convince her to throw up.
"Oh there you are, dear," Natasha exclaimed, a broad smile washing across her heavily made-up features.
"We just had a little something we wanted to ask you." She dabbed at the corner of her mouth with a hideous yellow napkin that matched splendidly with the other hideous yellow things in the kitchen. "Sit down!"
Jade sat down, feeling a little less nervous. They didn't seem upset or angry.
"We're going on vacation," Natasha continued without pause.
Jade let out her breath. That was all. They wanted her to watch the house or keep the kids or something while they were gone. Easy enough. Relief filled every bone.
"We're going to the Leffington Orbiting Resort on Madsen."
Jade's eyebrows shot up. She knew they had money, but this? "Wow."
"Oh, I know!" Natasha practically glowed. "It's going to be wonderful! An absolutely unforgettable experience. Todd for one can't wait to go no-gravity golfing! They say it's very dangerous!"
"Anyway, we'd like you to come with us!"
Jade's jaw dropped. She was sure she looked like an idiot, just gaping and not saying anything. "You… you…" she took a deep breath, "...want me…?"
"Well, we were talking about it," Natasha began what was likely to be a very long explanation, "and we thought it would be a great experience for the boys--one they might never have again, in fact! But personally, I would like to enjoy my time in the space station and not have to worry about them running off, getting into things, or just being stressed in general. And we thought, you've been a wonderful nanny, that maybe you would like to go with us! We would of course pay for lodgings and the time spent watching the kids, and we would schedule a few nights off so you could explore the resort as well, but that would allow us to take a family vacation without the stress! Oh, and we also decided to give you an allowance to buy some new things for yourself for the trip--bathing suit, cocktail dress, whatever you need. We don't want this trip to be a burden on your finances."
A family vacation without the family part, Jade thought wryly to herself, but she was still too shocked by the invitation to dwell on it.
"So, will you come?" Natasha grinned at Jade, and Jade knew that she knew that Jade was going to say yes. After all, how could she say no? The phrase, "trip of a lifetime" described it perfectly.
"Yes," Jade responded simply. "Just let me know when you want to go."
"Oh wonderful!" Natasha exclaimed, clapping her hands. "I'm just thrilled, you know. The boys will have so much fun. It's going to be wonderful."
It crossed her mind then that if she had said no, the boys would be staying here. Jade mentally shook her head. If only she could find a way to communicate to Natasha what it meant to be a family. But that wasn't her job. Her job was to keep the boys alive and happy, and that was what she intended to do.