Thursday, February 21, 2013


 It is day 21 of the 30 minus 2 days of writing hosted by Nicky and Mike of We Work For Cheese. Today's prompt is "The Last Train".  Visit Nicky's post to see who else is participating in today's train ride.

Jeannie stared at the pile of papers littering her desk. The blank computer screen was agonizingly bright as she rubbed her tired eyes. The deadline loomed, and the old clock the wall went tick, tick, tick... The newspaper was an unforgiving beast and, like the mail, it too has a schedule to maintain.

Image Source:  bbusschots
She pulled a paper from the pile. "Dear Jean, my son is engaged to a lovely girl. She's smart, funny and well educated. The problem is that she is Jewish. Our family is Catholic..." We are okay with it, but her parents are threatening to cut her out of the family if she marries my son. How should we handle this? Signed Distressed in Duluth."

Another one reads " husband is planning an surprise 40th birthday party for me. I am not fond of surprise parties. My cousin let it slip the other day, and it is apparently an elaborate affair. I love my husband, and don't want to disappoint him. Should I say anything or try and act surprised and happy? Signed Party Pooper."

Jeannie ponders these and other letters, searching for the right mix for reader interest. She's been a columnist for 10 years, and had noticed that while the times have changed, technology has advanced, and life grows more complicated, people's problems remain the basically the same. Relationships blooming, relationships falling apart, children, bullies, money problems, he-said, she-said, and who's fault it is.

Finally she chooses two letters, one about a young man who finds out his fiance is actually his half sister, and the other about meddling grandparents.  She dishes out sound advice from her many years of experience, insight and imagination. Yes, columnists must be creative and imaginative to keep from giving out cookie-cutter advice. Each response must be fresh and individual.  Some days this is a struggle.  "Have I been doing this too long?" she wonders to herself.

The sun is now setting, glowing golden against the wall behind her. She finally taps out the last words, hits save and sends it to the Lifestyle department. Done!  It is Friday and the weekend has begun. She glances at the clock. If she hurries she'll have enough time to meet Seth at the bar for a drink before catching the last train out of the city. 


  1. That was a very interesting take on the prompt today. Have you been talking to Laughing Mom?

  2. Good one. Nothing worse than NOT making the deadline and having to work late, especially on a friday.

  3. Excellent idea for today! I hope she didn't miss her train!

  4. What a great little story, Linda! An original and refreshing take on the theme. :)

  5. What a nice story Linda, now I want to know- what advice did she give the Catholic Mama? :)

  6. Yeah... I want to know what she said to the guy with the half-sister fiance. Awkward, that.

  7. I loved this slice of life, Linda. It was like I was in her office, watching her every move and knowing her every thought. Wonderful!

  8. This is excellent, Linda. I love how she reflects that for all our advancements, our problems never really change. Really great piece!

  9. what a terrific piece of writing, Linda!

  10. I could so do that column...but I'd be a snarky smartass about it. ;)

    I would love to entertain the thought of "Advice to Alabamians from a Jersey Girl" - not sure it would go over well here...seems that "sarcasm" is a recessive gene...and with all that inbreeding they've done here...they've gone and bred it right out.

    See? I told you I'd be snarky.


  11. The life of a newspaper person... deadlines and rushing to a bar.

  12. I liked this take on the prompt and you did a great job creating the stories she could choose from. It's nice to see you writing fiction again. I always enjoy your stories and your characters.

    BTW Jeannie might be a good person for a series. You could write a brief about something in her life and leave a letter she has to respond to, but let the readers write the response... Just think about it:~)

  13. Hey Linda! Yep, not repeating ourselves is a dilemma for anyone who writes for a living. *fingers crossed* Indigo x

  14. Deadlines are the worst, especially when you're worried about not repeating yourself. Do you hear that, Nicky and Mike?

  15. Dufus- Actually, I didn't think about that.

    Mike- There were always deadlines in my job, and staying late to finish one was never fun.

    laughingmom- Well, there was always Seth. ;)

    Ziva- Thank you!

    life in the mom lane- I purposely avoided giving out any advice.

    Paula- Hey, you never know when my characters will make another appearance.

    Talon- Thanks, I am so glad you enjoyed it.

    Nicky- Thanks. I heard that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Guess it's true.

    Meleah- Thanks so much.

    Mariann- I wish I felt free to put more snarky smartass in my writing.

    P. J.- Really? I hadn't thought about it.

    Sara- You know my characters pop up from time to time when I need them. I'm glad you liked this. I appreciate your encouragement.

    Indigo- Yes, it is, although my writing doesn't make a living.

    KZ- That's why they call this a challenge. ;)


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