We’re wrapping up May and while things have remained busy, I’m still cleaning out, which means another giveaway. Today, I have 5 copies of A Matter of Chance for you! All you have to do is comment for a chance to win a signed paperback. Sorry, but I need to limit the giveaway to the US and Europe. I’ll pick a winner next Thursday and make the announcement after I’ve contacted the winners.
Also! Don’t forget to preorder your copy of Confined with Mr. Darcy! Release day is almost here and it will be on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and Paperback! Half of the first month’s royalties are being donated to Jane Austen House Museum’s Covid-19 Survival Appeal, so please give it a read. Also, if you have a bit to spare, please consider donating to the survival appeal.
Also! I’ve started a podcast! I’ve been considering it for a while, but in the first episode, I just talk about JAFF and how I got into writing it, what I read, and there’s a bit about this project. I hope you’ll check it out! https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-b9dz9-dde03f
Okay! Back to A Matter of Chance! I’m posting a short vignette I wrote after A Matter of Chance. This short was based on something that really happened in our house. My daughter had this crafty kit that allowed you to make different animals from puff balls. The children are fictional versions of my own. Our dog Layla was young, and well, you’ll see. This was something that was written quickly and never truly edited, so it’s definitely not perfect, but entertaining.
A Funeral for Lobsty
Elizabeth and Darcy have been married for 9 years, Melly is 12, Ella is 7, Andrew is 4
For a late Sunday morning, Longbourn wasn’t any noisier than it was usually. Lizzy Darcy relaxed in bed with her morning cup of café au lait and her laptop, browsing through the online stores for Christmas present ideas for the children. Her husband of nine years, William was propped up on pillows beside her while he poured over something for work on his own laptop. She had just taken a steaming sip when her seven-year-old daughter, Ella, came running into the room with a four-year-old Andrew following close behind.
“Look what Layla did!” she exclaimed, pushing her cupped hands filled with red fluff and pieces of pipe cleaners in Lizzy’s face. Layla was their nine-month-old Springer Spaniel puppy that they’d adopted from a rescue organization, and she was always getting into something.
Lizzy stared at the pile intently, attempting to figure out what the mass of trash was in her daughter’s hands. “What is it?”
Ella gave an exasperated exhale. “It’s Drew’s lobster!” Her hands thrust forward a bit with each word in an attempt to emphasize scope of the tragedy. The puppy then came trotting in and plopped down beside Ella, panting and looking like she was grinning widely.
She turned back to the mess and looked again, finally seeing the resemblance to the craft project she and her son had made a few months ago. She looked up into his face and smiled softly in sympathy.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. We’ll have to break out the craft kit and make you another animal.”
Drew looked at her sadly. “I want to make another Lobsty.”
“But we can’t,” she began carefully, “there aren’t any more red puffballs and pipe cleaners in the kit. If we find the directions, then you can pick out a new design, and we’ll make that one.”
Little Drew’s face reflected his skepticism of that idea, and Lizzy fought a smile. Suddenly, Layla made a jump for the mass of fluff, and Ella raised her hands to keep it away from her. “Why don’t the two of you go throw what’s left away before Layla finds it again and eats it.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” came William’s voice from behind Lizzy. “We wouldn’t want her to get sick.”
That was when Ella’s face perked up. “We can have a funeral for him!”
Lizzy was sure her eyes widened, but she tried to behave unfazed. “A funeral?” she asked, the doubtful tone that was in her head coming through in her voice.
“Yeah! Let’s go, Drew!” The two of them bounded out of the door, where she could hear the pounding of their feet as they ran around the upstairs.
She looked to William. “A funeral?” He only smiled widely, shrugged, and went back to his work.
Looking back at the monitor, Lizzy began browsing once more while she listened to the voices outside of her door. She was sure she heard the word casket, but most of the time the kids sounded like they were in Drew’s room. Maybe twenty minutes later, Ella and her brother came running back into the room.
“Daddy!” they yelled, “look at the casket we made!” Lizzy’s head shot up to see what looked like a short tray made out of Legos with Lobsty’s remains perched on top.
“That’s nice, but it’s not really a casket,” explained William. After that, she really didn’t hear what her husband was saying since she was too busy staring at “The Casket.” She hoped that he was attempting to straighten out their idea because she was worried they would want to bury the thing. The last thing she wanted to do was to have to dig it up later when Drew wanted his blocks back.
The children disappeared again, but reappeared about fifteen minutes later. “We’re ready for the funeral, come on!” Ella and Drew called out from the doorway.
“Really?” she asked, regarding William warily.
“Really,” he responded before kissing her quickly on the lips. “Let’s go, Mama.” Her husband pulled her out of bed and laced his fingers with hers as they followed the children down the stairs to the kitchen. There were three barstools set up a few feet in front of the pull out that contained the trashcan, and Mrs. Reynolds was already seated in one of them. Melanie, who’d thus far been absent from the lobster saga, was standing beside the cabinet with the “coffin” carrying Lobsty in her hands. Ella and Drew joined her, the latter wearing a Jedi tunic made out of brown felt that he’d gotten at a friend’s birthday party.
“What’s with the Jedi robes?” asked William, chuckling.
“Funeral clothes?” ventured Lizzy. She felt something soft brush her foot and looked down to see their older Springer, Maisy, lay down next to her foot. Layla was standing beside Melanie, waiting for Lobsty’s remains to fall at her feet. One would’ve thought she was holding a steak the way the puppy was sitting and staring at the cotton fuzz.
Ella seemed to wait patiently until they were all comfortably situated, and she raised some pages torn out of an old composition notebook that were covered in a purple crayon handwriting.
“First we will have a speech, then Melanie will dump him, then there will be a prayer.”
Lizzy couldn’t hold it in any longer. The absurdity of it all combined with what her daughter had just said made her erupt in a fit of laughter. She wasn’t alone. Mrs. Reynolds and William were both laughing, and when she looked up, the children were laughing as well. Once their chuckles were back under control, Lizzy apologized.
“I’m sorry, but when you said that Melanie would dump him, I couldn’t help it.” She could hear William beside her now fighting to control his chuckles as Ella raised the papers and began again.
“This lobster was very special to me and my brother, Drew. Lobsty was the best lobster I’ve ever seen. My mom and Drew built this lobster from puffballs, pipe cleaners, and glue. That’s my vulnerable speech.” Her husband snorted from beside her, and she grabbed his hand, squeezing it gently.
“Do you mean venerable, Ella bean?” Her daughter shook her head and furrowed her eyebrows.
“Did you really mean vulnerable?” asked William. She smiled widely and nodded before turning to face her sister.
“Now, Melanie will dump Lobsty,” said Ella in a very official tone as she opened the cabinet. Their oldest turned the tray over into the trashcan, and the mass of red fluff dropped into the white plastic bag, covering whatever Mrs. Reynolds had put in there last. Once the cabinet was closed, they all turned back to Ella.
“Now for the prayer.” She flipped a page and produced a new page also written in purple crayon.
“It was once a pile of puffballs, and a little boy came along. He put the puffballs together, and made a lobster. And then a dog came along and chewed it all up. And that’s what brought us here today.”
During the “prayer,” the three adult spectators couldn’t control themselves any more and began laughing again. By the time Ella had read it all, Lizzy and Mrs. Reynolds were laughing so hard they were crying, and the children had joined them.
Lizzy stood and kissed and hugged each of her children. She looked over her son’s head as she embraced him, seeing William wiping his eyes as he hugged Ella. Beside her daughter, on the counter were the sheets of paper with the purple crayon writing. Lizzy picked them up and read them, finding the actual speech and prayer from the funeral written out on them.
When the hugs were passed all around, Melanie went off to read the latest book she was engrossed in, and Ella and Drew returned to the Legos to his room. Lizzy quickly pocketed Ella’s papers and returned upstairs with William to lounge around with him some more.
When they were once again comfy in the bed, Lizzy called Jane and described the entire event to her, including reading the speeches from Ella’s notes. Jane was giggling madly by the time Lizzy had recited the entire episode.
“They’re so creative,” her sister gushed. “Just like their mom. “You’ll have to scan those pages and email them to me. I want to tell Charles, but it won’t be the same if I don’t have the words right.”
“I can type it out and email it quicker, if you want.”
“That’ll work. Thanks, sis!”
“You’re still coming over this afternoon to grill, right?”
“Oh yeah, we’ll be there,” responded Jane. “Jacob and Sarah are so excited. You know they love playing at Longbourn. Apparently, Netherfield just isn’t as cool.”
Lizzy laughed. “I don’t know about all that. I happen to think Netherfield is a neat house, but I should get going so I can get some work done before y’all come over.
“Okay, Bye Lizzy.”
“Bye,” she said and hung up.
“What did Jane say?” asked William as he closed his laptop and scooted closer to her.
“She said that they’re so creative… just like me.”
“She’s correct, you know.”
Lizzy rolled her eyes. “I think they’ve got some of my intelligence along with you’re massive brains, and we’re going to be lucky to keep up with them.” She felt William’s hand caress up her leg as he leaned over to kiss her softly on the lips. He dipped down, and she felt his soft lips brush her neck.
“I’m thinking that perhaps we should begin working on another.”
Her eyes widened as he lifted up and looked down at her. “Another?” she squeaked. His hand roamed up to stroke her stomach, and she squirmed. “William, the door is open.” She heard and felt his low chuckle.
“Then perhaps you should go close and lock it.”
The words and the “prayer” came directly from the composition notebook pages my kids wrote from Lobsty’s funeral. I still have them packed away somewhere.
Okay! So, we have 5 copies of A Matter of Chance! Leave me a comment below and you’ll go into the draw.