“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”
G. K. Chesterton

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Notes from the author:

I learned a new word! Ani, a black, long-tailed, heavy-billed member of the cuckoo family. Also one of my writing prompts this time around. The ani does not share the habit that the cuckoo family is best known for, that of laying its egg uninvited in other birds’ nests. Instead, it supports a sort of nest cooperative with several other mated pairs who hatch and tend their chicks in common. Regardless, this fictionette features a common cuckoo, and not an ani.

ANI is also an abbreviation for automatic number identification. Which has more to do with automatically charging callers for long-distance service than with household caller ID, but what the heck. You get caller ID in this fictionette anyway.

Freewriting prompts aren’t about dictionary accuracy.

That damn cuckoo was back. Sally recognized it easily as the same cuckoo that had been pestering her for weeks. One of the front toes on its right foot was missing, and so was the bird’s left eye. Sally’d had a lot of up-close and personal with that cuckoo, more’s the pity. At first it had seemed cute, like a Disney cartoon come to life, the fearless little bird tweeting away in her open windowsill like it thought Sally was Snow White or Mary Poppins. But then Sally had discovered the eggs.

The first one she found, it was nestled among the spoons in her utensil drawer. There’d been a spoon on the floor, too; the cuckoo had doubtlessly kicked it out of the “nest.” Sally had no idea how the bird had got the drawer open. Later an egg showed up in the hole where a brick was missing just above her double oven. Then there was one balanced inside the handle of her fridge. Sally began to have a horror of smashing one unawares, or, worse, finding one too late, just a bit of shell and dried yolk remaining while the chick was off getting into God only knew what. Sally woke when the house made its nightly settlesome noises, sure for just a moment that she was hearing the cuckoo chick invasion.

Really, she should just close the window. But it got so humid in the kitchen when she closed things up. A smell of mildew would develop and persist no matter how many loaves of mediocre bread she baked. Besides, if she wanted to leave her window open, it wasn’t up to some random brood parasite to tell her different. And besides that, she was afraid that if she did close the window and the cuckoo eggs kept appearing, she might just go around the last bend.

So the window was open, and the cuckoo was back, standing there on the sill like a burglar casing the joint. Sally rushed the window, waving her arms and shouting “Shoo! Scat! Git outta here!” The bird let her come well within arm’s reach before deigning to take wing. Sally sighed. “In what way does my house resemble a warbler’s nest?” she muttered, then “Drat,” as she discovered she’d splashed her shirt with coffee in her haste to put the cup down.

That was when the phone rang.

This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for February 12, 2016. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (917 words) from Patreon in PDF or MP3 format depending on their pledge tier.

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