Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Her Time. Chapter One: Out of Focus

I'm excited, once again, to host a Progressive Story Project on this blog. Since I first presented the idea to my blogging friends, this is now the eighth time a group of writers has come together to craft a story.

The project first came to fruition in 2014, and it was a success. Not only was it a fun collaboration for the writers, but my readers tell me that the progression of the story was fun to read as well. 

This is how it works: I start a story, then pass it on to someone to move the story along, it then moves on to the next writers who each in their unique voice and writing style, craft a piece of the tale. The challenge for the bloggers is to have an impact on but not control the story. The end result is expected to be a collaboration on a cohesive piece of fiction. I'm thankful to each of these friends for gifting me their words, and I'm honored to share them with you.

Progressive Story Project, a collaborative piece of fiction written by a number of bloggers | Developed by, run by and featured on www.BakingInATornado.com | #writers #fiction

Our newest story, offered in four chapters and written by eleven bloggers, is called Her Time. As always, each segment's author is listed just above and to the far right of their contribution. I've added a link to their blogs and encourage you to check out more of their writings.

Her Time, a Progressive Story Project collaborative piece of fiction written by a number of bloggers | Developed by, run by and featured on www.BakingInATornado.com | #writers #fiction

Her Time
Chapter One: Out of Focus

Karen of Baking In A Tornado

This was her time.

Time to switch focus, to find a focus really. She was at a point where she could indulge in whatever moved her, had the luxury of pursuing anything and was excited to do just that. Up to this point, her priorities had always been practical or dictated by her life choices. Childhood was for learning to negotiate life, college was about readiness for a future, marriage focused on building a successful partnership, raising kids was, of course, all about them. Those chapters with all of their successes and struggles, were complete.

She was so damn lucky and Camryn knew it, appreciated it. She and Michael had watched their children graduate college, all just starting out on their own, building their careers. And now? She would find a focus and put her heart and soul into it, commit to a passion of her own choosing. But what? Michael supported her unconditionally, always had, but since he still ran his business, she had already determined that it would not be anything political or religious, she would never alienate any of his clients.

No matter, there was so much going on in this country and in the world: socially, economically, environmentally, educationally, just as a start. Maybe something along those lines. Or possibly it would be something less cerebral and more artistically expressive or even a physical challenge. She could learn an art form, or a sport, the options were endless. All she had to do was choose.

Not just choose what but the how. She'd come to realize that the choice itself would be part of the journey. She'd know the right focus when she saw it, but should she actively seek something out? Or let it come to her?

Diane of On the Border
The sunshine felt good.

Camryn stopped, closed her eyes and leaned against the rough wall of the building. Tipping her head back, she let the rays kiss cheeks and chin.  Behind her, the sun-warmed bricks felt, at once, solid and friendly.

All about her, she could hear the sounds of people. Footsteps. Talking. Laughter.

People. Simply being themselves.

She took a deep breath of the warm, salt-laden slightly smoky air and let it out slowly. And now she was free as well. But she had to admit that, with the release of the pressures that had fueled her for so long, she found it difficult to get any speed. 

She felt, for want of a better word . . .  weightless.

She sighed and opened her eyes once more to the bright afternoon. Ahead of her, along Harrison Street, she could see the Bay Bridge shining in the sun.

The water drew her.

She began to walk again, turning slightly to make a detour around a large bundle of rags lying in a careless heap on the sidewalk. She wrinkled her nose slightly as she started to pass by, then jumped as a pair of dark eyes opened in the midst of the tangle.

What she had taken for refuse was actually a person!

She paused, then just as she would have resumed her walk, two kids on long boards skidded past, barely negotiating the narrow space between her and the curb.

"Sorry!" one of them yelled as they disappeared down the street.

"You're gonna get yourself killed!" Camryn shouted after them, her eyes following their agile bodies as they dodged people and pets and vehicles. She laughed. How like her sons they were.

Smiling to herself, she turned back then gasped.

The bundle of rags had fully materialized into a human being and was now standing in front of her, head topped with matted, greasy hair tipped to one side and one dirty hand outstretched.

Instinctively, Camryn clutched her small purse close and stepped back.

"It's you!" the strange person said.

"Excuse me?"

"I saw you. You're the one. You will start it all!"

Camryn stared. "Start what?"

Cracked lips creased into a caricature of a smile, exposing nearly toothless gums. "The Flight. You will start the Flight."

Rena of Wandering Web Designer
and The Blogging 911

"What are you talking about?" even though there was a sense of familiarity somehow. She didn't know him and she certainly didn't know anything about a "flight", but it felt like she should know, like she would know eventually. She wanted to ask him questions with no idea what questions to ask. She decided in that moment to just walk away because she didn't think she was ready for the answers.

She couldn't get it out of her mind though. She had spent a sleepless night wrestling with the covers as she tried to suppress the thoughts and images that were flying through her mind. "What did he mean 'flight'?" she asked herself for the hundredth time. "well, you would know if you hadn't run away like some scared little kid." she grumbled to herself.

She couldn't take the curiosity any longer. Tonight she was going out searching for a pile of rags and the man who would be wound up in them. She ate her dinner as she looked at a map of the city. She had marked where she was when she spotted him and then moved out, block by block.

It was starting to rain. Cold, fat dollops sliding down the back of her neck, causing her to shiver. She had walked for blocks in the foggy evening looking for that familiar bag of rags. She hadn't seen even a scrap. "Of course, nobody's out, it's raining, you idiot," she scolded herself. "I'm going to end up with pneumonia."

She decided that it was time to go home, but she wanted to eat first and maybe warm up a little bit. She didn't think she had been on this block before and as she looked around she saw an Irish Pub at the end of the street. "Just what the doctor ordered," she said, "I have got to stop talking to myself!"

She opened the door and felt like Alice in Wonderland. The room was bright and loud with people talking over the music being played by the group in the back of the bar. She spotted a booth in the corner and slid into it, grabbing the menu that was already sitting on the table.

The bartender made his way over a few minutes later, "Well hello Camryn, I'm glad that you're finally here!"
Apple Pie Breakfast Casserole, prepare ahead of time, then just pop in the oven. Apples, bacon and French toast are featured in this breakfast, brunch or even dinner dish. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #breakfast

Apple Pie Breakfast Casserole
no, it doesn't fit into the story but I'm sticking today's recipe here anyway. 
Apple Pie Breakfast Casserole, prepare ahead of time, then just pop in the oven. Apples, bacon and French toast are featured in this breakfast, brunch or even dinner dish. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #breakfast

Kimberly of When I Grow Up

Her neck snapped up. She didn't think she knew anyone in this section of the city. She was sure she had never seen the man standing in front of her before. Maybe she imagined that he said her name. There was a lot of background noise. Yes, she was sure she imagined it. She attempted a smile, "Hello. What would you recommend?"

"To start, how about a Dublin Donkey? I'd suggest and Irish Mule, but that has mint in it."

Camryn hated mint. She even went out of her way to find toothpaste without the dreaded herb. She took a closer look at his face. He didn't look remotely familiar. "Sure," she said, "that sounds good."

The bartender went off to make her drink and she tried to compose herself. It was a strange coincidence, but that's all it was. The drink appeared in front of her. "So, Camryn, what's next?"

This time there was no mistake. "Excuse me, do I know you?"

"Maybe you do, maybe you don't. But we know all about you. We've been waiting."

At that, he walked away. There were other customers to tend to. She heard him talking to the new arrival at the bar. "Can I get a flight?"

She jumped at the word. Then she realized the man was ordering a sampling of drinks. Looking don a the bar, she took a sip of her drink. She was making too much of this.

"What can I get you to eat?"

A young girl stood beside her. Camryn was too lost in thought to see her approach. She had only glanced at the menu without really noticing what was on it. "Fish and chips," she said, thinking that as an Irish pub, it must be on the menu. The girl went off to place the order. She took another sip of her drink and pulled out her phone so she would look less alone. She wasn't sure she wanted anyone else to try to talk to her.

Just as she settled in to read a new article, her phone beeped to indicate a new text message. 

"We're glad you're here. Only you can start it."

Sarah of Sarah Nolan

Startled at the text message, Camryn said out loud "Start what?" 

"The Flight" a voice said in her right ear.

Turning, she saw a cloaked figure take the seat at her table, uninvited. "What flight? What are you talking about? Who are you?"

A laugh drifted from under the hod, one seemingly normal with a slight wet wheeze to it. The man beneath the cloak made no indication of revealing himself, but Camryn had an almost eerie feeling that the man was somehow disfigured. "I can't tell you what the Flight is. You have to seek it, learn it, embrace it . . . BECOME it," the man said, staring at the very core of Camryn's soul. "Only YOU can start the Flight. You mustn't be frightful of it. Let it happen naturally, the way it is intended. You'll know when it is time to start and only then can it take off."

Tired of riddles, Camryn closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose against a threatening headache.

"Listen . . ." she said, opening her eyes.

Startled, she found the chair the cloaked figure was occupying empty. She looked around, trying to figure out where he'd gone. But he was nowhere to be found.

Instead, there was a plate of fish and chips in front of her and the young waitress beside her asking if she wanted malt vinegar.

"Actually, I'm suddenly not feeling vvery well. Could you please make this to go and bring me the check?"

Shrugging, the girl grabbed the plate and disappeared, returning a short while with a to-go carton and the check.

After she settled her debt, Camryn grabbed her bag and stood to leave.

She didn't feel the crippling pain in her head hitting the floor as she passed out.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Click here to read chapter two, Leader of the Flight ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Apple Pie Breakfast Casserole        

3 slices of bacon
3 apples
3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
7 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp apple pie spice
2 boxes French toast sticks (I used one box of original and one box of cinnamon)

*Grease a 9 X 13 baking pan.
*Cook and chop the bacon.

*Core, peel and slice the apples.
*Melt the butter over medium heat in a saute pan. Add the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook, stirring now and then, until the apples start to soften, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
*Whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup and apple pie spice.
*Place the french toast sticks from one box in a single layer into the bottom of the baking pan. Pour the apple mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the chopped bacon.
*Arrange the french toast sticks from the second box in a single layer over the top. Press down gently.
*Carefully pour in the egg mixture. Cover with tin foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
*Remove casserole from refrigerator one hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the casserole, covered, for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.


  1. I love doing these stories so much and that breakfast casserole french toast is fabulous. See ya next week for part 2.

  2. Ok, I'm hooked. Can't wait to read the next section.

    1. So glad you're enjoying it, I can't wait to share chapter two.

  3. This is SO good!!! This recipe looks fantastic!!!

    1. Thank you for your contribution to this story. And I hope you try the recipe.

  4. As someone who enjoys science fiction/dystopian literature, this had enough to hook me after Diane. Now I have to find out what happens next. I'm thinking how the next author is going to run with the story o far. Oh, andthat apple pie breakfast casserole has also made me so hungry for...dinner. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. Chapter two is almost ready to go.
      And, since I don't eat breakfast, we often have breakfast for dinner.

  5. Replies
    1. I'm so glad everyone's enjoying the story, there's so much more to come.

  6. "The flight" - *scratching my head*
    On a different note: How many people in the world don't like mint?

    1. Well, part of figuring out the flight thing may be up to you, 'cause you get the story next.
      And I don't know how many, but my mom is one of them. I, on the other hand, love it.

  7. Oh I love how this story is going! Off to read part two! (Rena)


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