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 Fiery Trials

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LoriV
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PostSubject: Fiery Trials   Sat Jul 19, 2014 5:32 pm

The heat wave started in the center of Addie's chest and spread like a wildfire to the rest of her body.  Small rivulets of perspiration ran down her back as tiny droplets dotted her face. The hair at the back of her neck was damp with the moisture springing from within. If only she could fly out of her own body, but her skin held her prisoner.

Addie stood in her sunny kitchen as Cash came in from the garage smelling of gas fumes and motor oil.  She stared at her tall, still handsome husband as he washed the grease from his rough, dirty hands.  Grabbing one of Addie's new kitchen towels, he wiped off the water and left over grease.  Cash's bright blue eyes sparkled as he let loose a whirlwind of information about his motorcycle project.  As far as he could tell, she was hearing every word he said.  

Addie was getting good at her listening illusion since the power surges happened so frequently now.  Still, she didn't know how much longer she could hide this feminine phenomenon.  It completely pulled her attention into its fiery world.  

Cash adjusted His greasy brimmed baseball cap. "So, do you think it's a good idea?"

"Uhh-" Addie tried to rewind their conversation.  Staring with saucer eyes, she hoped her brain would remember something and speedily send a good response to her mouth.  She imagined words running along her tongue then diving off the end to make a beautiful splashy answer.  But it was no use.  The heat was rising.

Addie shifted her middle age weight uncomfortably as her husband stood waiting at the kitchen island.  After an awkward pause, Cash took a few steps toward her.  Avoiding an uninvited hot hug from her sweaty husband, Addie matched his choreography with a few skittish steps backward.  She could see the obituary now...  

Addie Rae Jackson, age 52, died June 8th 2014 by means of spontaneous combustion. Her ashes were swept up from her kitchen floor and will be spread over the petunias at the village library as soon as her grieving husband is released from the burn unit at the county hospital.

Addie took a karate stance. "DON'T TAKE ONE STEP CLOSER!"

"Gahhh!"  Cash jumped and raised his arms in protection. "What's WRONG with you?  You scared me to death!"

"I do NOT need a hug!"

"O-kay!  I won't give you one,"  Cash held his position with the exception of one hand which he used to point beyond her, "but do you mind if I walk over to the sink to get a glass of water?"

Addie planted one hand on her hip and with the other brushed her hair back from her face. "Oh.  Okay."

With the heat reaching its apex, Actress Addie sashayed past her wary husband to the opposite side of the kitchen.  It was the opening scene of a short play she often rehearsed entitled, Refrigerator Refuge.  Addie pulled opened the freezer.  The frosty blast was heavenly as she hid behind the door smiling in icy sweet relief.  In the nicest voice she could muster Addie called from behind the door.  "Would you like some ice for your water?"

"Sure, that'd be great."

Moving closer into the freezer, Addie took several ice cubes from the hopper and then glided back to her thirsty husband.  As luck would have it, she landed directly above a floor vent that blew cool air up the leg of her boot cut jeans.  Strategically dropping the cubes one at a time, Addie hovered over her husband's heavy water glass in hopes that some of the cold water would "accidentally" splash onto her face.  Dropping in the last cube, she noticed Cash's curious smirk as he studied her movements.

"Are you feeling okay, Addie?"

Addie stood back from her hovering and tried to gracefully dab the moisture from her misty face. "Why, do I look like I don't feel well?"  

"Well, you kind of look..."  

"What?  I kind of look like what?

Realizing he had backed himself into a "pick the right words" corner, Cash's eyes darted from side to side.  Seeing no escape, he chose his words carefully. "You kind of... Well you have some- uhh- er- you're- glistening.  Yeah, glistening."

"Glistening?" Addie's raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms.

"Yeah. Yes.  Glistening."  With a nervous smile, Cash pointed in a circular motion toward his wife's face. "Right there-ish."

That was the last straw.  Addie stomped over to a kitchen stool and plopped down hard.  "When will this end!"

Cash blew out a breath of relief.  Seeing he wasn't headed for the doghouse he ventured ahead. "Addie, what in the world is the matter?"

Addie thrust her arm into the sleeve of her sweater and jerked it up to her shoulder.  "These ridiculous hot flashes!  I can't take it any more!"

"But if you are hot, then why on earth are you putting on a sweater?"

Addie spoke through gritted teeth. "Because the breeze from the air vent that I relished just a moment ago is flowing over my clammy body causing me to feel as if I've been trapped in the meat freezer at Piggly Wiggly."

Cash scratched his head and paused.  He shrugged his shoulders and said, "First world problem."

"What?" Addie bristled as Cash kissed the top of her damp head.

"First world problem, as in 'you could be living in a third world country with much worse problems' problem."

Addie sat staring at her husband.  He was right of course, but right now in Addie's real world, she was desperate.

Facing Addie, Cash rested his hands on her shoulders. "And besides," said Cash, "it's the way God made you wonderful females.  If I were you, I'd take my complaint up with my maker."

Addie glared at her husband.  She had hidden her problem well from him and now it was coming back to haunt her.  He clearly didn't get it.  
 
Face to face with his glaring wife, Cash grabbed his oily wrench from the counter and made a hasty exit.  Addie let out a sigh as she picked up an armload of dirty dishes left from breakfast.  She was half done loading the dishwasher when she was interrupted by a knock at the back door.  It was her neighbor, Myrtle.

Addie groaned at the sight of Myrtle's stern wrinkled face bobbing and peeking in the window.  Addie opened the door and Myrtle shuffled her way into the kitchen.  

Addie faked a sunny smile.  "Good morning, Myrtle.  How are you today?"

Sitting at the kitchen island in her floral muumuu, Myrtle raised one eyebrow and toured the untidy room.  "The question is, how are you?  I figured with the way yer flowers beds were goin' ta pot, ya must be sufferin' from some illness."

Addie took a deep steadying breath.  "No.  No illness.  I've just been busy lately.  I was hoping to get outside today."  

Wishing she could swiftly kick her critical neighbor back out the door, Addie reached down deep and gathered up some grace. "Would you care for a glass of sweet tea?'

"No. I don't want no tea.  It activates my reflux."

Overlooking Myrtle's bad grammar, Addie poured a glass of tea for herself and sat down across from her nosy neighbor.  At the sight of Miserable Myrtle's scowl, Addie felt the warmth begin to rise at the front of her neck.  Evacuating her sweater, Addie picked up a large birthday card from the countertop and began to fan herself.  Myrtle immediately recognized what was happening.  

"So.  I see yer experiencin' the fires a hell."

Addie pulled in a sharp breath and paused her fanning.  She had heard hot flashes called a lot of different things, but my oh my, this was a new one.  Fanning now in double time, Addie averted Myrtle's eyes. "If you are talking about hot flashes, then yes Myrtle, I am."

"Call it what ya want girly, but I'm tellin' ya it's a warning.  A precursor."

"A precursor?"

"That's right, a precursor.  The heat yer feelin' is earthly punishment ta get yer attention; ta give ya just a tiny taste of what hell will be like.  I'd say ya need ta do some soul searchin'.  Ya must have some sin in yer life.  Better repent, girly."

Addie couldn't believe her ears.  She stood speechless and used a dirty plate as an excuse to walk to the sink.

"Let's see- it could be yer laziness.  Or maybe ya missed more than yer fair share a Sundee services.  How bad have the fires been?  If thur real bad it could mean yer not saved a' tall."

Addie spun around with sparks flying just as Cash called from the garage.

"Addie, can you give me a hand for just a minute."

The interruption gave Addie a few seconds to reign in her tongue.  "I'm sorry Myrtle, but Cash needs me outside."

"Don't worry bout it, girly.  A woman needs ta help her husband.  Besides, it will give ya a chance ta work on that lazy factor.  It might calm them fires a hell."

Without a good bye, Myrtle stood up and waddled to the door.  Addie was glad to her neighbor's wide backside exiting her home.  As the door closed, Cash called out again.  

"Never mind Addie, problem solved!"

"You can say that again," Addie mumbled.

Donning her sweater, Addie finished up her work in the kitchen.  The clock on the stove glowed out eleven thirty.  If she hurried, she could still be on time to meet her friends for lunch.  

At noon Addie was sitting in Cathy's Coffee Club Cafe with her friends, Brandi and Cory.  She was only in her chair for a minute or two before she had to shed her sweater.

"Oh Addie, you poor darlin',"  said Brandi in a long drawn out accent.  The southern belle crinkled her button nose. "I am so sorry you have to endure those unlucky hormonal fluctuations."  

Hidden behind her menu, Addie rolled her eyes and cringed.

With her straight posture and holding her cup and saucer elevated, Brandi said, "Do you know that I haven't had even one of those nasty, sweaty things.  I am positively sure that it's all the exercise and organic food I eat that keeps me healthy and cool."

Brandi's passive accusation crept under Addie's skin.  She wished her friend would have forgotten about their lunch date. Addie raised her menu to shield herself from Brandi's barbs.  As she retreated behind her menu, her friend Cory piped up.  

"Oh Brandi, stop it.  Can't you see you're making Addie feel worse."  

Addie lowered her menu to see Cory's warm smile.

"I can totally relate to your problem, Addie, and I have some exciting news."  Cory's ponytail swished as she bent to reach into her extra large purse. Gingerly lifting out the prize, all eyes focused on a jar that contained what looked like black gooey sludge.  

Addie scrunched up her face.  "WHAT IS THAT?"

It's just the question her eager friend was waiting to hear.  "I've been working on a home remedy to alleviate my 'fire drills',"  Cory beamed.  "I've named it, Fire Extinguisher.  I thought you might like to give it a try.  All you do is stir a tablespoon into your morning coffee and voila', hot flashes gone."

With wide eyes, Addie folded her menu and laid it on the table. She leaned forward, "Are you saying it worked for you?"

"Wellllll yes, but..."

Addie didn't wait for her friend to finish.  She reached across the table and grabbed the jar.

"Wait!" Cory thrust forward to try and retrieve her concoction, but it was too late.

The horrific smell from the open jar hit Addie like a tsunami.  Still leaning across the table, she felt her appetizer coming up to the back of her throat.  She grabbed for her napkin, but it was too late.  Addie's appetizer, along with the breakfast she had eaten earlier that morning, landed on the cafe table and splattered all over the front of Brandi's blouse.  Cory and Addie looked in horror at the mess, as Brandi made a mad dash to the ladies room.  Addie felt another heat wave begin. This time she prayed for spontaneous combustion.  

After a clumsy attempt to clean off the table, a disgusted waiter politely excused Addie from the job.  The embarrassed party made a beeline for the door, and said awkward goodbyes in the parking lot.  

After she arrived home, a mortified Addie lay in a heap on the couch.  How would she ever be able to show her face at the cafe again?  Addie groaned under the weight of her embarrassment and pressed herself deeper into the sofa as tears of humiliation ran down her flushed cheeks.

"Addie?"

Addie started at the sound of her name.  "Mom?  Is that you?"

Adie's mom stepped into the living room.  Her silver hair shimmered as it reflected the light from the window.  Seeing tears, she set aside the basket of homemade bread she was carrying, and spryly closed the gap between the two of them.  Addie sat up and embraced her very best friend.

"Oh Mom, you will never believe what happened today."

Addie's mom listened as Addie poured out the saga of her lunch debacle.  In great detail she told her mom about the hot flash elixir, and it's effect on her olfactory nerves and stomach. "I don't know what was worse, the smell of the hot flash elixir, or my own contribution," Addie covered her face with a small sofa pillow and moaned.  The pillow muffled her words as she forged ahead.  "And the cafe owner was none too happy with me since I practically cleared out their entire establishment!"  

Addie smashed the pillow back into her lap and the two sat looking at each other.  In stark contrast to the story just told, silence, along with the smell of freshly baked bread, hung in the air.  Several quiet seconds passed when a little giggle escaped Addie's mom.  Trying to suffocate it, the giggle turned into a laugh, and the laugh into full out hilarity.

Addie sat in dismay as her mom guffawed at her story.  Then she felt it; the laughter building up inside her, too.  Addie let out a giggle.  The giggle turned into two and kept growing until she was laughing right along with her mother.  

Addie's mom slumped in her chair with her head back as Addie slapped the sofa cushions, both in a happy uproar.  Cash rushed in at the commotion and the look on his confused face only elevated the mirth for the two out of control women.  Tears streamed down their faces as they howled out rows and rows of laughter.  Cash left the room shaking his bewildered head.

After several attempts they caught their breath and settled down.  With a twinkle in her eye and a tender smile, Addie's mom brushed the hair back from her daughter's face just like she used to do when Addie was little girl.

"Oh Addie, I remember going through this stage of my life and I thought it would never end.  While you were telling me your story I was remembering a verse in Isaiah, 'When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.'  It's a verse I used to say to myself during my own 'personal summers'.  It helped me to keep my sense of humor and reminded me that God was in the 'fire' with me."

Addie's mom picked up her daughter's well-worn sweater from the floor and laid it across her chair. "It's hard to keep a positive and gracious attitude through these 'fiery trials'.  But whether it's hot flashes, or any kind of fiery trial you have to endure, you can be sure God is in the furnace with you."

Giving Addie another hug, she lifted her daughter's chin.  "Now, how about I go to the kitchen and start dinner for you while you rest for a few minutes."

Addie smiled in gratitude as she watched her wise mom make her way to the kitchen.  Picking up the orphaned basket of bread, Addie's mom paused and snickered  "On second thought, maybe I could use your help in the kitchen.  The oven needs to be preheated.  Think you could fit in there?"  

The pillow Addie threw only missed her by an inch.

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PostSubject: Re: Fiery Trials   Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:51 pm

Great improvement! The only thing you can do is remove any adjectives and adverbs you think you can do without, and look for the areas where you switch POV. Since you're writing from Addie's POV, I shouldn't be aware of the other characters' internal thoughts, feelings, or understandings they have about their environment. You can only use body language to express that.

These are nit-picky things, however, and like we talked about before, it's up to you when you feel you've given all you're willing to give to a story.

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PostSubject: Re: Fiery Trials   Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:27 pm

Thanks Lora! I will give it a few days and go through it again. I took out several adverbs. I don't know why it is so hard to cut them!! I am afraid people won't catch the characters thoughts... Gahhhh! I keep working at it.

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