I got an idea at The Green Bathtub. The idea is to write a short story a week and post it to the blog. I’m going to give it a try. I hope that it will sharpen my writing skills and help keep me in the habit of writing. Not to mention being a good outlet when I have writer’s block! I will definitely still be working on my novel, but NO ONE is allowed to read that work in progress!

In any case, let me know what you think. Now, without any further delay…

A Scientific Break

Oxford sat patiently, bowl held firmly in her mouth, pleading silently with her rather pathetic puppy dog eyes. The sight would have reduced the most hardhearted to a puddle. Marie however, had grown used to the antics of her grey Terrier.

“Patience Oxford,” Marie admonished, “I’m nearly done, and then I’ll fill your dish to the brim with kibble.”

She spared the fluffy pup an affectionate smile before returning her full attention to the maze of beakers, glass tubing and Bunsen burners spread out before her. She pulled a pair of glasses with thick black frames out of the pocket of her grey cardigan and slipped them on. Examining the readouts on various gauges and instruments she scribbled notes in a thick notebook with worn edges and multiple tea stains marring the white pages. Pausing to look at the clock on the wall she once again scrutinized the labyrinth of chemistry before her.

“And now, for the final component,” she explained to Oxford, who didn’t understand and really wouldn’t have cared anyway, as she carefully added exactly three drops of a bluish liquid to one of the assortment of glass containers.

The reaction was nearly immediate. The contents began to bubble, readings changed and Marie dashed about excitedly.

“Yes! YES! This is incredible! I’ve done it! Finally done… it…” she trailed off abruptly.

Oxford’s ears perked up, and his tail gave a ghost of a wag at his mistresses excitement. He had the impression that dinner would be forthcoming. The change in the tone of her voice that came next sent him scurrying behind the ancient corduroy couch in the corner.

“..Oh no. Oh No! No, no, no, no, NO!!!!”

Having at least the presence of mind to tuck her notebook under her arm and grab her favorite mug, she threw one last glance at the chemistry set of impending doom. Test tubes shuddered and a beaker cracked, smoke billowed ominously from another. Sprinting for the couch in the corner, her right foot barely touched the seat cushions as she leaped over the back and hunkered down next to her faithful dog and trusty fire extinguisher. Gathering Oxford close she tucked her head into his soft fur and used the oversized notebook to shield the back of her head from any stray debris that might happen to rain down. The pops sounded almost like a bag of microwave popcorn she noted with interest as one by one the small test tubes shattered. It was silent for a long minute, and she had the fleeting thought that perhaps it wouldn’t be quite the catastrophe that she had envisioned…

The following BOOM and resulting cloud of smoke and broken glass that DID rain down on the notebook over her head proved otherwise. After waiting what she felt was a prudent interval, she poked her head up from behind the couch, reaching instinctively for the fire extinguisher.

“Well Oxford, at least there’s no fire this time,” she coughed, removing her glasses and tucking them safely in the pocket of her cardigan.

Waving her arms at the thick smoke and vapor she slapped the garage door opener controls. As the door rose slowly, the air cleared slightly.

Next door, Mr. Smith was watering his small garden when he heard the sound of Marie’s garage door opening.

“What color is it this time, dear?” Mrs. Smith called to him from the open kitchen window.

“Just plain gray this time. It’s clearing off now… No need to ring the fire department this time…” he sighed and shook his head, turning his attention back to his roses.

Back in her garage/lab, Marie surveyed the damage.

“This is going to take a while to clean up,” she remarked grimly to no one in particular.

Oxford recovered his dish and dropped it at her feet with a quiet whine.

“All right,” she laughed, “I suppose it is time for tea. I’m sure this will still be here later,” she gestured towards the pile of rubble on the long white table.

Picking up the empty dish she wandered into her small kitchen, followed closely by the oxford grey terrier. Filling his dish, she placed the dry kibble on the floor and the small terrier attacked it with obvious pleasure.

She peered at the inside of the mug she had saved from her lab accident. Giving it a quick rinse under running tap water she filled it and plunked a tea bag in the cold water before putting it into the microwave. Ninety seconds later, when the microwave beeped, she removed her mug and discarded the tea bag. Settling down at her paper-coated kitchen table, she shoved a stack or two aside to make room for her notebook. Cracking it open and sipping her tea she spoke to her happily munching furry friend.

“Let’s see if we can figure out what went wrong this time, eh Oxford.”

He looked up from his dish and answered with a short little bark before finishing his dinner, and quite literally, licking the bowl clean.