The GUFP Part 5

Here is Part 5 of the Great Untitled Fiction Piece. Note the fiction. Fictiony-fiction. Opposite of fact. Fiction. Imagniary. Made-up. Mostly. Loosely inspired by an actual life. Mostly mine. If you’d like to read parts 1 – 4 (or any combo therein) go here.


A child is at my elbow.

“Yes, honey?”

“Where do we keep the motor oil?”

I look up from the computer. Mostly I hate when that happens, the looking up. It means that something unusual enough to disrupt my multi-tasking has just been said, and as much as I would love it if those things were “Mom, I just need to tell you how great you are,” or “Mom, I have some serious things on my mind,” Or “Tess, can you explain dating to me?” They almost never are. They are invariably things more along the lines of “Did I tell you my tooth fell out at school yesterday?” Or, “Dad said I have to ask you about bringing home the science room snake over spring vacation,” or my personal favorite, “I have to make a scale model of the Parthenon for history class….tomorrow.”

Despite the infringement on my work with the up-looking, I have to confess that I like this one a lot, in that it suggests not only that we have motor oil handy, but that this is such a household staple that it requires a place to be kept. But behind the amusement in the broad confidence the children have in our ability to meet absolutely any need, is the concern…why does this child need motor oil?

I pause in my response, because I’m trying to decide if I want to remark on the presumption of a household stash of motor oil, or jump straight to the interrogation.

Oh, what the hell. “And you need motor oil for…?”

“English class.”

“Of course,” I say. “What fun is reading The Red Badge of Courage without motor oil.”

“We finished The Red Badge of Courage.

“Then what’s the motor oil for,” I ask.

“We’re doing discussion groups on how the Industrial Revolution changed American literature, and my group is talking about the invention of the automobile.”

“Can’t you just bring in a Match Box car?” I figure I’m mostly off the hook, so I’ve started typing again while listening.

No.” (There needs to be a special font that captures the sound of a teenager simultaneously sighing and groaning when expressing maximum disdain and imposition. It could be called “Angst New Roman.”)

“So why does it have to be motor oil?”

“Because of the war.

I have to stop typing again. “You have to bring motor oil to your English class to discuss post Industrial Revolution American literature because of the war?

Yeah.” (Typed in bold, italicized Angst New Roman.) “The war is all about oil.”

“But you’re talking about literature around the turn of the century, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“We didn’t get much oil from the Middle East then, you know.”

“We didn’t?”

“Nope. Pretty much none, I think.” I start typing again.

There is a pause at the far side of the desk. Then, “Well what should I bring then?”

“You tell me.”

“I’ll have to think about that a bit.”

“Good idea.”

I am able to work for about twenty more minutes before the same child is back at my elbow. “So how about a spare rubber tire?”

“I don’t have a spare rubber tire, we could probably pick one up at the auto yard. When do you need to have it by?”



  1. I followed you here from Taming Insanity (not in a stalker-ish fashion. ok, maybe just a little stalker-ish) and I’m so glad that I did! Funny stuff!

    1. This little except is part of a bigger piece that I’m working on and I’m making people who read my blog act as guinea pigs.

      But only on Wednesdays.

      Other days of the weeks were all hamsters in the wheel together.

    1. It isn’t finished, or I’d consider it although I don’t know how anyone actually earns anything for all the writing that way.

      I mean, who on earth would buy this?

    1. As of this morning my door is still fully intact.

      I’m hoping one of my readers will marry a famous publisher and mention it.

      I’m also hoping for a rainstorm of Hershey’s kisses.

      I am the eternally optimistic and unreasonable sort.

  2. I am so taking back what I said yesterday about rating you in the top ten.

    The top ten bloggers, IN MY OPINION, would have the imagination and forsight to KNOW that a spare tire may be needed for just this type of occasion.

    WHAT were you THINKING?

    1. You are a silly moo! (Or is that silly mu? I don’t know how to spell that.)

      This is a fiction piece and the heroine is CLEARLY unprepared.

      I, on the other hand, have a full stock of everything from spare rubber tires to fully articulated scarecrows to meet any urgent child need.

      So can I make my way back into the top ten?

  3. I look forward to this little tale of everyday life. I love your voice in this. I can relate to her. She gets my life. I want her to write a book. OK? No pressure. I’m just looking forward to part 6.
    You are a talented writer. How you didn’t end up doing this for a living I’m not sure, but theres nothing like the present. Yah I know the business your starting. but, but, you’re a writer.
    And thats my final word on the matter,
    until the next time I feel like giving my final word.

    1. I have only very very recently said to people who ask what I do, “I’m a speech therapist…and a writer.”

      But I’ve actually gotten PAID to write some things so that makes it all official, right?

      1. Very very official. I’m drinking a hot chocolate right now and toasting to your writing success. Wish you could join me. I might even throw in a marshmallow because I’m just feeling that crazy.

  4. How great if this portion was MORE than “loosely based on real-life,” because what a great conversation to have! I love the paragraph about the “up-looking” — flows well, realistic, funny, good examples.

    I’m so curious about this book. Also, I’m wondering if you’re presenting the sections in the order they will appear in the book, or simply as they come to you (to be pieced together later)?

    Looking forward to next week~

    1. At the moment they are being presented in the order I wrote them, which moves back and forth through the protagonists’ timeline.

      What I haven’t sorted out yet is an elegant way to cue the reader to where in her personal timeline each snippet exists, except to actually describe it in the very beginning of each “chapter”.

      I worry about readers getting dizzy.

      And those are very kind words. Thank you!

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