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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)

TITLE: A Tiny Distraction
By Betty Castleberry


Oh lawdy, Mr. Donovan, Miz Cynthia’s done fainted again.” Teensy peered down at the slender lady lying on the Oriental rug.

Mr. Donovan removed the pipe from his mouth. “Let’s get her to the fainting couch.” He helped Teensy lay his wife across the plush red velvet.

Her eyes fluttered open. “Where is it?” She sat up quickly and drew her feet up underneath her. “Where did it go?”

Michael Donovan smoothed his wife’s hair. “Where did what go, dear?”

“That disgusting rodent.” She shuddered and pointed toward the staircase. “It ran from under there, across the parlor, then headed for the kitchen. ”

Teensy raised her eyebrows. “That thing better not be in my kitchen. Mr. Donovan, you ain’t payin’ me enough to share my biscuits with no mouse. If’n you don’t do somethin’, I’ll be lookin’ for another job.” She folded her plump arms across her chest in defiance.

“I’ll tend to the mouse. Just relax.” He turned his attention back to his wife.

“Yes, do rid us of it. I’m having a very special tea here tomorrow. You know I went to boarding school with President McKinley’s cousin. I’ve received a telegram saying she will be in town and will be able to attend. I simply cannot have a rodent on the loose.

“Teensy, the azaleas are at their peak, so we’ll set up in the garden. Make sure the croquet set is available. Some of the ladies will want to play.

“How are you coming with the refreshments?”

“They’s comin’ along fine, but you ain’t gettin’ no Earl Grey tea. Mr. Perkins down at the mercantile ain’t got none left.”

“Oh dear. No Earl Grey?” Cynthia touched the back of her hand to her forehead and leaned back against the couch.

Mr. Donovan patted her hand. “There, dear. Why don’t you serve some of that lovely pekoe blend Aunt Harriet sent you from abroad? I bet none of the other ladies have ever tasted that. You’ll be the talk of the town.”

“Why yes. I’ll do that.”

Teensy eyed Cynthia. “What you gonna do with Mikey while you’s havin’ this tea? You don’t ‘spect me to babysit him. I can’t serve and be runnin’ after no chile too.”

“Mr. Donovan is taking him over to his Uncle Paul’s on the bicycle built for two.”

Teensy headed toward the kitchen, mumbling. “That Paul gonna fill him full of wild Rough Rider stories, too.”

Cynthia smiled at her husband. “Would you fetch the smelling salts? We should keep them handy.”

Teensy stepped cautiously into the kitchen, expecting the mouse to jump out at her. Eight year-old Mikey sat at the table, a ring of purple around his lips. “Chile, you done been into my jam again, ain’t ya?”

“I’m hungry, Teensy.” He touched a doily on the table.

“Don’t you be gettin’ no jam on your mama’s doily. You gonna spoil your supper anyway. ‘Sides, they’s a mouse in here. Your daddy gonna get it.”

Mikey’s eyes lit up. “It’s in here for sure?”

“I ain’t sure, but it was headed this way. Here come your daddy now with a broom.”

Mr. Donovan began whistling “Hello! Ma Baby,” and rumpled Mikey’s hair. “You skedaddle now.”

“You’re not going to hurt it are you, Dad?”

Teensy steered him out the door. “Never you mind.”

They climbed the stairs. “Your mama’s havin’a fancy tea, and we can’t have no mouse runnin’ here and yonder.”

“Why not? It wouldn’t hurt anything.”

“Oh, them women that’s a comin’, they’s important women. They’ll be mindin’ their manners and be dressed right out of Harper’s Bazaar. We can’t have no mouse around. Them women would go to screamin’, and they’d dump their tea all over their pretty dresses.”

Mikey giggled. Teensy tried not to. She finally gave in and grinned. “Well, it might look funny, but it sure wouldn’t be. It’d be in all the society pages the next day, and your mama would be on that faintin’ couch for a week.”

Teensy turned on the Tiffany lamp in Mikey’s room. “You stay up here till supper.”
She winked at him and turned to leave.

Mikey spied a tiny gray tail darting under his bed. “Teensy?”

“What, chile?”

“I’m really starving. Couldn’t I have just a little snack?”

“What you want?”

“I think,“ he began, glancing back at the spot where he saw the little tail disappear, “I would like a piece of cheese.”

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This article has been read 1308 times
Member Comments
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Lynda Schultz 05/10/07
This is delightful! Fainting couch, no less and I love the very clever ending, though I'd love to know what happened during the tea. Well done.
Sharon Henderson05/10/07
Captivating short story. I can 'hear' Teensy's accent and I love that in a story. And you did a great job 'hiding' that critter at the end of the story.
Teri Wilson05/10/07
He he, Of course I adore this entry. The ending is perfection - a piece of cheese please. I have read quite a few entries so far and it was nice to have a more light-hearted one as a change of pace. I love it!
Martha Helton05/10/07
Love the dialogue and Teensy's accent. What a clever way to end it with the mouse/cheese correlation!
Cassie Memmer05/10/07
A fresh, delightful read. This sounds just like a young boy from this era. LOL! And a fainting couch--her corset must have been too tight. LOL! I really enjoyed reading this.
Joanne Sher 05/11/07
Absolutely delightful. You set the scene beautifully, and your ending is absolutely perfect.
Debbie OConnor05/11/07
Very cute! The characters were very different and entertaining. Love the little boy's plan to feed the mouse. :) My little boy would do that.
Mo 05/11/07
I really liked this one. Great ending! & yes, light-hearted is a welcome change of pace from the others I've read so far.
cindy yarger05/13/07
Oh I like that kid! Great story.
Patty Wysong05/14/07
You captured not only the moment and the dialect differences, but the 'feel' as well. Teensy is a hoot and she's just right. I loved the ending...does the mouse appear at the tea? :-)
Sharlyn Guthrie05/14/07
Between Teensy's voice, and Mikey's childish adventurous spirit, you made this a fun, engaging piece from start to finish. In the midst of many heavier slices of history, this was refreshing.
Rita Garcia05/14/07
Hmmmm,me thinks that mouse just might be attending the tea! Delightful, and sooo well written, you didn't miss a beat...fainting couch, bicycle-built-for-two. Thanks for a great read!
Jan Ackerson 05/14/07
I love all the little historical details sprinkled throughout, and the glimpse of the mouse at the end was delightful!
william price05/14/07
Nobody does this better, Betty. Extremely cleaver, cute and very well written. Beyond kool:)
God bless.
Venice Kichura05/15/07
Great ending & writing, as well, as throughout the story!
Mariane Holbrook 05/15/07
I'm sorry to use the word "clever" like so many others have done, but "clever" really is the most descriptive word I can think of. It's a fun read and it made me feel good all over. Thanks!
Julie Arduini05/15/07
The fainting couch is just priceless but the title, the dialect and great ending just make this a really fun story!
T. F. Chezum05/15/07
very clever and well written story. Great job.
Donald Ford05/16/07
I'd say it could amount to more than a distraction - the mouse that is. Oh and a very good job of keeping all the voices separate along with all the slang and the accents. You did well to give the feel of the era(CIRCA) with the tiffamy lamp and all.
Yes the mouse may be tiny, but he also may become a Mighty distraction.
Quite the period piece I must say. I'm ready for chapter two and I brought along a couple mouse traps for your use in telling the next part.
Donna Powers 05/16/07
This is excellent and amusing! Loved the dialog and the ending. Very good. Thanks for sharing it
LaNaye Perkins05/16/07
Having raised two sons I can sure relate to this mischeivious little rascal. Great story!
Sara Harricharan 05/16/07
LOL! What fun! You must have had a blast reading this! I love the bit with the 'fainting couch' and the last line with wanting a piece of cheese. Wonderfully written! ^_^
Jacquelyn Horne05/16/07
Cute story. We really need to know what happened next.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/18/07
Betty, Your story was a delight. You handled a good dose of history with some humor. Congratulations!