Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Max Gets a Bath

Snicker. The blog is named after him.

          by Valerie L. Egar

            Robbie and Amy overheard Mom talking to Dad.  “The only thing I still need to do is give Max a bath.” Max was the family’s black lab. He hadn’t had a bath all winter because it was too cold.
            “That will be a handful,” said Dad. Though Max loved plowing through puddles, running in the rain and swimming in the near-by lake, Max hated baths.
            Mom sighed. “I know, I’m dreading it. I guess I’ll do it first thing tomorrow.”
            Robbie and Amy decided to surprise Mom by giving Max a bath when she and Dad were outside in the garden. How hard could it be?
Robbie ran warm water in the tub.
“Where’s Max?” Amy asked.
            Robbie and Amy looked on his dog bed. No Max.
            They looked under the kitchen table, where he liked to lie when they ate. No Max.
            They searched every room in the house.
        “I found him!” Amy yelled.  Robbie ran upstairs. Max was hiding his head under Robbie’s bed, but the rest of his body didn’t fit.
            “We see you,” Robbie said.
             Max thumped his tail.
            “Doggie biscuit,” Amy said.
           Max squeezed out and Amy gave him a Beefy Bone. Max crunched and wagged his tail.
            Amy held another in front of Max and walked into the bathroom. Max got as far as the doorway and stopped. Baths happened in bathrooms and he could smell water in the tub and shampoo.
            “Come on, Max,” Amy said. “Mmm, Beefy Bone.”  Max stepped forward. Beefy Bones were delicious!
            Robbie clicked the door shut as Amy handed the bone to Max. 
“Come on boy, jump in the tub!” Max sat.
            Amy tugged on Max’s collar and urged him to jump in.
            Max stretched out on the floor and rolled over.
            “Look, water!” Robbie said. He tried to sound excited.
            Max stood. Amy pulled his collar and Robbie pushed from the rear. Max jumped into the tub with a big splash.
            Robbie lathered Max’s neck first, taking care not to get soap on his face or in his eyes. Amy soaped his back and his long tail.
            “Doesn’t that feel good?” Amy said. Max wagged his tail throwing suds against the wall.
             All of a sudden, Max decided he’d had enough.  With one leap, he jumped out of the tub and shook, exploding water and soap everywhere.
 “You haven’t rinsed off yet!”  Robbie and Amy tried to get him back into the tub, but Max resisted.  He’d had enough of bath time.
“Maybe we can wipe the soap off,” said Robbie.  Amy wet few towels and they rubbed the soap off Max. Then, Amy grabbed more towels and they started to dry him. Max thought it was a game. He shook again and again until the bathroom floor was soaked.  Robbie and Amy were soaked, too.
“Maybe we should take him someplace else to dry,” said Robbie. He opened the bathroom door.
            Max flew out, leaving a trail of wet paw prints down the stairs and into the kitchen.  Robbie and Amy ran after him leaving a trail of wet shoeprints.
            Robbie took four rolls of paper towels out of the cabinet and they finished drying Max.  Then, Amy took another roll of towels and she and Robbie dried themselves off.
            “Mom is really going to be surprised,” said Amy.
“She sure is,” said Robbie.

            Copyright 2016 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author. If you enjoyed the story, I invite you to like my Facebook page, Valerie L. Egar and to visit my webpage,

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Secret Cat

Shh! I only tell tales about cats when Phoenix is asleep.

                                                                         by  Valerie L. Egar

When Uncle Tasher said he was bringing her a cat he’d found in Egypt, Julie wondered how he managed to bring it home on the airplane. Then, she wondered how he persuaded her parents to allow a cat in the house. She’d asked for a kitten over and over and they always said, “No!”
 Julie couldn’t wait to see it, but when Uncle Tasher arrived, all he carried with him was a small painting of a ruddy colored kitten with large green eyes. Julie thought she might cry. It wasn’t what she was expecting at all. She wanted a real cat, not a picture of one.
“Let me hang the picture for you,” said Uncle Tasher. Julie pointed to a place on the wall in her bedroom. While he hammered the hook into the sheetrock, he explained that he bought the painting from a mysterious man in crowded bazaar. “He assured me it’s magic, “ Uncle Tasher said. “Just wait until tonight.”
Julie rolled her eyes. Uncle Tasher was always making jokes.
            That night, when the moon shone on the picture, the cat’s eyes seemed to glow. Julie thought she saw its head move, but maybe it was a shadow from the tree outside her window. She stared at the painting and watched, fascinated, as the kitten stood and stretched. Then, with a great leap he jumped onto her bed.
               “Oh my!” Julia said. She scratched him under the chin and he purred happily.
            “Do you need something to eat?” she whispered. She wasn’t sure whether magical cats needed food and water. She sneaked into the kitchen and got a tiny cup of water and a piece of cheese, but he didn’t want any.  Instead, he explored the room, rolled a few pencils off her desk and batted at the cord hanging from the blinds. Then he settled on the windowsill, bathing in the moonlight.
            “You need a name,” said Julie. She tried to remember some of the Egyptian names Uncle Tasher mentioned. He’d talked about kings, queens and ancient gods and goddesses, but Julie couldn’t remember any of them. She loved his description of a boat ride on a river called the Nile, and that’s what she decided to call the kitten.
            When Julie woke up, Nile was gone. Julie glanced at the painting. There he was, still and quiet.
            Never had Julie been so anxious to get to bed as she was that night. She didn’t ask for a second bedtime story. She didn’t say she was thirsty.
            When she put the light out, she stared and stared at the picture. At first it seemed like nothing was going to happen. Then, Nile’s tail curled and he yawned.  A great leap and he was on the bed, purring and rubbing his head on Julie’s face.
           Julie wiggled her toes and Niles pounced on them. Julie giggled.  She fell asleep with Niles curled beside her on the pillow. When she woke, Niles was gone, back inside the painting.
Every night Julie and Niles played and enjoyed each other’s company. Every morning, Niles was back inside the picture frame, silent and still.
One day as Mom vacuumed the bedroom carpet as Julie dusted. Mom noticed what seemed to be cat hair on the deep blue rug. She was puzzled. “Can’t be,” she said.
Julie looked at the picture on the wall and the mysterious little cat winked. Julie winked back at her special, secret cat.

Like the story? Share the story with your friends on Facebook and visit my author's page, Valerie L. Egar on Facebook. Copyright 2016 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author. Published May 8, 2016 in the Sunday Journal Tribune. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Gift of the Countess

Snicker. The blog is named after him.

             by Valerie L. Egar

            Louisa Sophia Beck told Larissa she was a Countess, from a country no one remembered.
            Momma said,  “Sorry Larissa, but a real Countess wouldn’t live down the hall from us.”
            The Countess knew which vacant lots grew the best flowers and she took Larissa to gather them. They arranged them in jelly jars and coffee cans and crowded them around the old woman's apartment. Then, Larissa and the Countess sipped tea and watched sparrows fly in the open window for breadcrumbs the Countess spread on the rug.
           “The royal gardens had peacocks,” said the Countess, “but today, sparrows will do.”
           Larissa told her mother the sparrows were tame enough to eat from her hand.
          Momma chopped onions and never looked up. “Set the table, Larissa. It's silly to have birds flying around inside.”
          On rainy days, Larissa and the Countess dressed in fancy clothes from an old trunk. The Countess showed Larissa how to waltz and curtsy to a princess.
          When Larissa showed Momma, she shook her head. “That will be the day when we see a princess around here.”
           At night, Larissa stayed awake until she heard her mother shut the television off.  She ran to the window and watched the Countess walk past the darkened windows of the thrift shop towards the river. 
            “The lights are beautiful reflected in the water,” the Countess said. “If I turn my head just right, I see a castle.”  
            “No, you may not go with her some night,” said Momma. “The only thing you'll see is the paper factory and that stinks!”
         When Momma left for work each morning, she said to Larissa, “Maybe you could meet some nice girls your age at the playground today.” The presents she bought at the end of the week were always playground presents— a ball, kite, skateboard.
          Momma said, “Why don't you go upstairs and visit Carmen? You could play with the new baby.” But as soon as Momma left, Larissa ran to see the Countess. The Countess changed dry crackers into a tea party, the neighborhood market into an exotic bazaar. 
            One night, the Countess did not wake from her dream of gardens and moonlit castles. When the sparrows came to the window, it was closed tight.    
            Larissa stayed in her room. She remembered the Countess pouring tea from a pot silvery as the moon. She remembered dressing up in fancy clothes and laughing. 
          Momma made cookies, but Larissa didn't want any. Momma bought a new game, but Larissa didn't want to play. Larissa missed the Countess. She heard the train and wished she was on it going far, far away.      
            Momma poked her head in the door one night. “Would you like to come with me?” she asked. “I thought you might like to take a walk.”  Larissa shrugged. She found her sweatshirt and followed Momma down the stairs.
            They sat on the bench near the river for a long time. When Larissa squinted a certain way, she saw a castle shimmer in the water.
            “Do you see it Momma?” she asked.
            Momma looked and looked and thought maybe, just maybe, she did.

Copyright 2016 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author. Published May 1, 2016 , The Sunday Journal Tribune.   If you like the story, I invite you to LIKE my  FACEBOOK  author's page, Valerie L. Egar. You may also contact me through my website,