Yesterday was a bit light on words due to a busy day at work and a fun night with friends. I am only four words above baseline at this point. The good news though, is that today is the first day of my vacation. I don’t have to work again until NaNoWriMo is over, so I feel pretty confident I can get the 50,000 words in. I’m not sure if I can finish the actual story, which probably won’t conclude in 50,000 words, but I think I have a chance at that too.

Marshall Cooper

Day 20 – 33339/50,000 words

Anne continued to look doubtful, but Marshall gave her smile. “I’m fine.”

Catrin came over and put her arm on Marshall’s back. “I heard you like fish, she said to Anne. There’s a really nice place just up Flagler Avenue called the Salt Grotto. They only use locally caught fish, very fresh. It’s a nice place.”

“Sounds good to me,” Charlie piped in. “I’m not sure how the kids will feel about it.”

There was some debate back and forth. Anne’s kids were 12, 14, and 16. They didn’t need to be coddled too much, but Anne was also pretty sure that they would be happiest just staying by the beach. After some discussion, Anne and Catrin settled on the little Mexican restaurant next to the hotel called El Raquero. It was a small, casual place with a reasonable seafood menu and a lot more choices for the kids. Even better, it overlooked the beach, so they were able to sit on the patio and let the kids go back to the beach after they finished eating. Anne texted the kids to come meet them at the restaurant.

They made their way down to the restaurant. Corrine, the youngest, was already standing outside the door. She gave Marshall a hug, Catrin a look of assessment, and then declared “I am starving”. Corrine was a thin girl, with long brown hair dyed green and purple and pink in spots. She wore shorts a white t-shirt that said, “My brain is 80% Song Lyrics”. Her thin exterior was deceptive, because she was an eating machine. She had the ability to put down an entire medium pizza in a single session. So far, it had not caught up to her. Marshall dreaded the day that it did.

Caleb was still wearing damp swim trunks with an over-sized t-shirt that hung almost to his knees. His hair was cut short and he looked like he needed a shave. It was a few more minutes before Cassandra arrived. She had gone back up to the suite to change. Cassandra wore a dark blue summer dress with red and white rose print. Cassandra was already taller than her bother, and busty. Her hair had been long, liker her sister’s hair, the last time Marshall had seen her. That was gone now though, in favor of a pixie cut. She made no move toward Catrin other than to say a quick “hi”.

They at a long table near the edge of the raised patio. They started with appetizers of cheese crisps and queso fundido, as well as a mound of the free chips and salsa. The kids stuffed themselves. Marshall made sure to have some chips and a slice of the cheese crisp. He forced himself to finish them, washing them down with tea. The tea was strong and bitter, which made it the best thing about the meal for Marshall. He tried the queso fundido, but found the texture disconcerting.

Anne and Charlie both drank margaritas. Marshall was pretty sure that one would lead to another for them, and that made him think about his mother again. Anne looked a lot their mother, except physically fit. Gardening had been about the most physically demanding thing she ever done. His mother had been a fairly avid gardener though, mainly growing practical things such as vegetables and herbs. His mother had also liked to cook, and was always proud of anything she made that came out of the garden, although then should also be even more frustrated if the results were bad. Marshall had tried helping her in the garden when he was young, but getting up and down off of his knees had been difficult. In the end he mainly stuck to eating the food.

Marshall excused himself and headed to the bathroom. He went into the stall and closed the door. He shut his eyes for a few moments and did his breathing exercises. He didn’t feel a headache coming on, but he felt like he needed to calm himself. If he stayed stressed for too long, a headache would definitively come anyway. For about five minutes, he centered himself. The beauty of the exercises was that they allowed him to push just about everything else out of his head.

When Marshall got back, they were just putting the food on the table. He had ordered the carne asada plate. It was essentially small chunks of grilled beef with beans, guacamole, tortillas and lettuce. He ate slowly and deliberately. His goal was to always be in the process of eating so that he did not call attention to how much he was actually eating. The important thing was never to look like he had stopped. Marshall chewed very carefully. C. He took a drink everything time he swallowed a bite. He reminded himself that this would be over soon enough.

Catrin and Anne spent time discussing what the family could do while they were in town. Catrin recommended that they go to the galleries, hike one of the trails, and visit the wharf. “We’re actually a pretty relaxed town,” she said. “It is about twenty miles to Deer Point. It’s a nice little mountain tow with about 1000 people. It’s pretty. There’s a hot spring and a few B&Bs up there. There’s a lot of hiking up there too, but the only restaurant is the Brass Lantern.”

Anne thought about it. “Why don’t we all drive up there Sunday? We can make a day of it.”

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