“How’s the Lambda retreat fundraising going?” you ask? I’m glad you asked, because armadillo

llfIt’s going pretty well! There’s still a ways to go, but we’ve got until July 25 to raise the rest of it. If you have a second and are able to, click the logo over there on the right or click this link right here and you’ll be taken to the fundraising page.

As I mentioned, everyone who donates (no matter how much or how little—I’m an unemployed recent grad student, so I understand little amounts) gets a story from me. It’s been fun trying to figure out which ones to send to people, but there’s one in particular that I’ve been sending to a few contributors. It’s a work in progress, and I figured I’d post a (very small) excerpt from it, called “Little Bastard”:

The daisies rustled in the flowerbed. Alan leaned forward as the flowers jerked back and forth. At first he thought it might be a squirrel, though squirrels weren’t in the habit of burying things this time of year. There were no stray cats to speak of out in those parts, either. He and Martin lived far west of the city, and their nearest neighbor wasn’t so much a long walk away as a short drive.

He set his cup down on the table and stood, his chair scraping along the paving stones as he pushed it back. The daisies stopped waving and suddenly, leaping almost straight up, was a gray, round thing. At first Alan wasn’t quite sure what it was—a possum, maybe—until it scurried through the flowerbed and trundled across the yard as fast as it could. At a distance with an unimpeded view, he saw the hardshell back of the armadillo before it disappeared into the trees.

“A what?” Martin asked later when he’d woken up. They stood in the kitchen, Alan on his second cup of coffee and Martin filling a water glass at the kitchen sink. Martin’s hair was still a confused mess sticking out in multiple directions.

“An armadillo,” Alan repeated, sipping his coffee. “He dug up a bunch of the daisies before I scared him away.” Scaring the creature away had been more accidental than deliberate, but Alan didn’t see the need to clarify that.

“What’s an armadillo doing in Missouri?” Martin asked.

Alan scowled. “How would I know? All I know is the daisies are completely messed up.”

“I thought they lived in, I don’t know, Texas?” Martin asked. “Oklahoma?”

“I guess we’ve got one around here that likes to travel.”

This is a story that I began in an informal writing group that my friend Sugar and I ran at Green College, and that I finished drafting for Linda Svendsen’s fiction workshop at UBC. In the writing group, it began with all of us going around in a circle and saying a word at random, and our writing prompt was to write anything that included all those words. The word I contributed was “armadillo.” I don’t know why, I think I had Steel Magnolias on the brain. Anyway, things just sort of took off from there. (As it happens, armadillos really are moving into southern Missouri and have been seen even north of the St. Louis area. Drive cafefully!)

If you’d like to read the rest, I hope you’ll consider contributing. Thanks!