Writing Wednesdays #25

Image Credit: inspiremykids.com

Image Credit: inspiremykids.com


Welcome back! Happy Wednesday!

Today is a bittersweet day. This Writing Wednesdays post marks the last section of the NaNoWriMo novels.

However, this does not mean the end of the Writing Wednesdays posts!

As I start to revise the first draft of my 2012 novel (finally, I know), with the working title of “Experiences at Camp,” I will be sharing the new material, several pages at a time, just like I have here for the last 25 posts.

I’m excited, albeit a little nervous. These three novels are the first ones that I am fully committed to editing and finishing (meaning that I want all three to have an ending, and that ending to land around 50,000 words, which is the ultimate NaNoWriMo goal).

I’m looking forward to this journey!


And now, the conclusion (for now) to “Discussion of Differences.”


That first Skype session charged the six of them. There was pure motivation to get this adventure planned and set in motion. Everyone was electrified, and no one wanted to lose that steam anytime soon.

In between wedding planning, Anabelle’s graduate school work, and looking for a house, Bill and Anabelle set to work on their adventure assignments – Food and groceries, and the general itinerary. Unknowingly, Bethany had essentially married their loves together – Food and travel. Almost every night after that first Skype session, Bill and Anabelle themselves were on Skype, pointing to a huge map of Europe and using all of the Internet resources to put pins and stars on the map – Multi-colored pushpins for traveling, and stars indicating the best food regions, wineries, and more.

Lizzy made it through her finals by the skin of her teeth. She aced all but one of her exams, and her final grades were decent.

Hunter saw the relief in Lizzy as he helped her move out of her LT apartment for the last time. She was finally finished with school – Possibly for forever. She hadn’t breathed a word of graduate school or any further kind of study. Her field was tricky – Double major in microbiology and chemistry – but she was determined to find some sort of job. She knew that it was likely going to be minimum wage and retail, in the beginning anyway. Lizzy did know one thing – She wanted to get that job and save up enough money so that she was out of her mom’s house in the least amount of time.

She was seriously considering moving closer to Hunter – There were more opportunities there, both for entry-level jobs and possible work in her field. There were three major universities within 100 miles of Hunter’s town. She started to entertain the possibility of starting graduate school at one of them and being either a grad assistant or a research assistant while studying – It looked like a win-win. But, for this moment, she wanted to be making money. She wanted to save every penny she could and be back on her own as soon as humanly possible.

In the midst of everything going on with Bill and Anabelle and Lizzy and Hunter, Will was planning his proposal to Bethany. He’d had this tradition of giving her jewelry every Christmas since they’d started dating, and he wanted to give her the ring around that time as well.

He’d already sat down with Bethany’s parents and asked for permission – They said yes.

Mission number one, accomplished.

Now he needed to plan what he considered to be the perfect proposal. They had started talking about engagement and marriage several years prior – Will had basically promised Bethany that his proposal to her would be as romantic and sweet as possible – and he wanted to deliver on that. The problem was, how romantic and sweet could it be around Christmastime? Christmas was such a common time for marriage proposals – Will wanted to do it right, for Bethany.

It got to the point one night where Will was truly stuck. He had tried to think of everything creative, witty, funny, heart-melting, and all of that had basically gotten him nowhere.

He essentially put his head on his computer desk and sighed. (Don’t worry – Bethany was actually with Anabelle, working on her wedding).

The little voice in Will’s head started cheerleading, “Come on, think! You can do this. You love Bethany so much. What would she be blown away by?”

Will started pacing the wood floor of his bedroom, but his own steps were driving him crazy.

Finally, he flopped on his bed on his stomach. Groaning, he rubbed his temples and closed his eyes. He lay there for a few minutes.

He then remembered that his phone had buzzed with a text from someone an hour ago.

Hey, buddy. How’s life treating you in Virginia?

Will smiled. It was his best buddy, C.J. They’d been friends since second grade. C.J. had gone into the military several years earlier and had been shipped off to a base in Arizona. Will had seen C.J. twice in the last four years, so hearing from him was always a treat.

Will typed slowly, Hey, bud. Life’s good. I’m stuck though. I’m trying to figure out how to propose to Bethany.

C.J. laughed. He had married his wife, Carrie, almost two years earlier.

Excited for you, man! That’s great. Bethany’s a great girl, and I’ve seen how happy she makes you. All I can say is – Make this moment something you’ll both remember forever.

Will smiled. All the worry started to clear away. He began to think about their very first date, nearly four and a half years earlier, how Bethany brought that up in conversation a lot, and how so many people thought it was literally perfect.

Thanks, buddy. I feel better already. Miss you. Hope to see you soon!

C.J. chuckled and shook his head.

No problem. Hey, I’m getting out of the force soon. Moving to Wyoming in January or February – You know how stupid the force can be about letting people leave. Once we’re settled, you two should come out and visit! Can’t wait to hear when the engagement’s official.

Will smiled and cleared his messages screen. He saw Bethany’s smiling face back at him. He knew now what to do.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #24

Image Credit: hdwpics.com

Image Credit: hdwpics.com

Happy Wednesday!


Everyone swallowed simultaneously.

“This was really hard for me. I don’t like assigning things to my closest friends. So I wanted to make it as fun as possible, so I thought I would give everyone a topic or topics that suited their interests.

Hunter – Since you mentioned castles, I want you to research and plan our living arrangements.”

Hunter gave a fist pump. “Alright! I’ve already started looking. This is going to be awesome!”

Bethany smiled and felt a little bit of relief.

“Bill – You’re our resident expert on food. You worked at the grocery store for many years, and I think you’d be great for this task. I want you to find out as much as you can about restaurants, markets, grocery stores, and so on.

Anabelle – Since you’ve traveled so much here in the U.S., I want to you to be the main planner of the itinerary, including transportation.”

Bethany paused to catch her breath. She glanced at the monitors – The smiles were all she needed.

She turned to Will next. “Baby, I want you to help design this trip. I think it’d be awesome if you’d be willing to photograph and take video of our adventure.”

Everyone nodded. Bethany took a deep breath – Only one person remained.

“Lizzy. I saved you for last for a reason. I wanted to get to know you first. I think you’d be great in helping us with languages. You’re one of the smartest people in this group. I want you to help us with our Spanish, English, French, German, and any other languages we may need to learn along the way. Are you okay with that?”

Bethany focused on the screen that showed Lizzy’s face. It was hard to read her at first; her eyes were downcast.

Suddenly, her head popped up. Bethany caught a glimpse of a smile at the corners of Lizzy’s mouth.

“Well, B., I thought you’d never ask. I guess I should probably share this with everyone – Did you know that I’m tri-lingual?”

Everyone cheered. The plan was officially in place.

As everyone started chattering away, exactly like the other meetings had gone, Bethany flopped back into the pillows and sighed. She couldn’t believe her luck. She had worked so hard, for so long, to try to delegate as best as she possibly could. And it appeared that everyone not only approved of the entire plan, but everyone was thrilled with it.

All the worry, anxiety, tension – along with that constant pit in her stomach that had taken residence over the last two months – just melted away like after-dinner mints did in her mouth.

She just watched with content as the Skype session stretched into the fourth hour of non-stop talking and excitement. There was no immediate indication of worry over money, or their jobs, or their current livelihoods in that particular moment – It was just pure joy. Everyone was excited about their tasks at hand and they couldn’t wait to get started.

The conversation died down a little, and Hunter noticed Bethany wasn’t speaking.

“Bethany? Hello? Anybody home over there?”

Hunter knocked on the computer screen to get her attention.

Everyone fell into silence, except for the faint clearing of throats.

Bethany flushed a rosy pink.

“Um, hey.”

She waved her hand.

Hunter looked puzzled and a tad worried. “Everything okay over there? You’ve barely said three words in the last hour.”

Everyone’s eyes focused on hers.

Bethany swallowed, struggling to get the right words. She felt tears coming to her eyes.

Will released her hand and put his arm around her shoulders.

“Everything okay, baby?”

Bethany nodded. She sniffled a couple of times, and then looked directly into the camera and smiled.

“I’m good. I’m just – I’m just …”

No one spoke.

Bethany swiped at her eyes.

“I’m just proud. And excited. And overwhelmed.”

She sniffled again and asked Will for a tissue.

“I’ve been so worried over the last several weeks. I wanted to make this fun. I don’t have a lot of experience with management, but I didn’t want to make this feel like a job, either …”

She sighed, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath before continuing.

“Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m so happy that y’all are happy. I tried so hard to make each of your tasks fun, something that you would enjoy, and make sure everyone was contributing equally.”

She took another deep breath. She couldn’t contain the grin on her face.

“So, now let’s plan the biggest adventure of our lives – Together!”

Everyone let out another cheer.

If that weren’t any indication of the excitement, the Skype session went on for four more hours …


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #23

Image Credit: The Writer's Circle Facebook Page

Image Credit: The Writer’s Circle Facebook Page

Welcome back!

Happy Wednesday!


B&W again. Skype works for us. It’s definitely not preferred, but Lizzy’s right. At least we’ll get to see each other’s faces while communicating. We’re in.

Bill and Anabelle went next:

Skype has always been interesting to us, though we’ve never used it. Let’s try it and see what happens!

Lizzy and Hunter brought up the rear:

Same here. It’ll be like a six-way phone call, but being able to see each other’s faces!

The planned Skype session also allowed a bit of flexibility for the group – It didn’t have to happen on a Saturday exclusively. This made it slightly easier to schedule.

As they started discussing potential dates and times, Bethany’s mind continued to wander.

“I didn’t want to do this, since we’re meeting over Skype this time. But, I can’t wait much longer, either. If I wait until our next face-to-face meeting, it may be too late.”

“I guess I should talk to Will about this – Get his thoughts on it. This is a predicament. It won’t be easy. I don’t like telling people what to do.”

As Bethany continued down the rabbit hole of worry and concern, everyone else was getting excited. It was actually really nice to be able to plan a meeting on a different day other than Saturday! Of course, it would most likely turn out to be a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon, since most everyone worked from roughly 8-5. And even though Anabelle and Lizzy weren’t officially working, those hours were basically dedicated to school. So their options came down to evenings and weekends.

Everyone liked a switch of pace though. The thought of using Skype and how it had worked for Bethany and Will in the beginning of their relationship was encouraging to Anabelle and Bill, and Lisanna and Hunter. The four of them knew that saving money was becoming essential, and if they got good at Skype, then this little service could potentially save a lot of gas and time for them.

Unbeknownst to Will and Bethany, the other two couples started practicing with Skype. Over time, it grew on them. Within a few days, Anabelle and Bill were using it almost daily. Hunter and Lisanna were Skyping a couple of days per week, and it instantaneously improved Lizzy’s mood and helped bridge the two-hour distance.

Within a week of the Skype suggestion, everyone had blocked out Sunday, December 14th. That was the test day, to see if this idea would work with six people.

Skype was also improving more than the distance. Hunter and Lisanna started getting creative with it, and quickly. It wasn’t nearly the same as Hunter being in the room with her, but she was in the privacy of her apartment bedroom. The first couple of days, she kept her shirt on. She did like to pull surprises on him, so one night, she sat at her desk in just a bra. Hunter salivated at the sight when he first saw her on the screen.

“I could definitely get used to this,” Hunter thought as his eyes focused on her chest.

“Maybe this long-distance thing won’t be so bad for a little while longer.”

Anabelle and Bill weren’t getting that creative, but it didn’t stop Bill from having similar thoughts and desires. However, he knew he shouldn’t push anything. Their argument that happened on Thanksgiving Day still smarted a bit. He didn’t want to push her away any further. Besides, he wanted her to take control of that ship, at first. They were trying to wait to have sex until their marriage, but since they had gotten engaged, it was becoming increasingly difficult. Bill desperately wanted to take it to the next level.

Bill whispered to himself, “Oh, Anabelle, if only you knew. I’ve held you and caressed you, but I want you. I want to make love to you. So badly!”

Anabelle was trying to put those thoughts out of her mind. She knew that when a camera was involved, anything could happen. She wanted to go farther with Bill. Sure, they’d definitely made out a ton, and let their fingers wander below their belts a couple of times, but Bill had never seen her naked. The closest thing was one day at the beach – Bill had had his shirt off and Anabelle had been in a bikini. Either way, she still flushed beet-red at the memory. She was already trying to mentally prepare herself for their wedding night. She knew sex was coming, but she didn’t know when that first time would happen. Ever since Bill had proposed, those thoughts had definitely increased. But, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to go all the way with him prior to their wedding. She wanted to honor her faith, but she knew that both Bethany and Lisanna weren’t virgins.

As Bethany tried to climb out of her imaginary rabbit hole, Will was trying to get her attention.

“Hello?” Will mimics knocking his fist on her forehead. “Anybody in there? It’s like you disappeared.”

Bethany shook her head back and forth, to make the rabbit hole go away. “I’m back. I did disappear, in a way. I got lost in a hole with my own thoughts. It felt like I kept falling deeper into darkness, so much worry. Fear. Anxiety. With every new meeting we plan, it only increases. That’s bad – I just know it!”

Will embraced her. “Shh, it’s okay. We keep saying how big of a deal this is.”

Bethany looked at Will with big eyes. Will sighed and continued, “Baby, I promise it’s alright – It’s perfectly normal to feel fearful, anxious, scared, worried. This is a big step, for all of us. This is why we haven’t told anyone else yet. We need to basically have the whole plan in place before word gets out.”

Bethany swallowed hard, but said nothing. Everyone had kept the secret safe, so far.

“I know you’re scared. I am, too. This is a major change. But – You’ve done a great job planning so far. I have the utmost confidence that we are going to come up with a great plan. But, until then, this stays under wraps. I know you know that though.”

Bethany looked up at him. Will’s lips met her forehead.

She swallowed again. “It will be a great plan. But we just need to take it one day at a time.”

The Sunday Skype session finally arrived. The multiple two-way tests of the system had been wildly successful, and that was putting it mildly. Even Bethany and Will had tested it a couple of times, even though they were only six miles apart from each other.

There wasn’t a set start time, just whenever all six of them could join in. Everyone was on edge; it was going to be interesting to see how a six-way conversation would turn out.

Bethany and Will realized that they could join the session together, so really it would be a five-way conversation rather than six.

Maybe that would help, they thought.

The green phone started ringing and vibrating. Will clicked a couple of times, and Hunter’s face appeared in one corner of his monitor. Hellos were exchanged and then the phone rang again – It was Bill. The ladies brought up the rear – Anabelle joined in and then Lisanna was last, with an apology about unpacking and the mess behind her. Everyone laughed.

Bethany held the journal up to the camera so everyone could see it.

“I’m so glad that Skype’s working so far. I don’t think we’ll meet this way every single time, but this is a nice alternative to using gas.”

Everyone laughed and heads nodded. Money was top priority and was at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Bethany continued, “Since last we met, the journal is now complete!”

Everyone clapped and cheered.

“It is exciting. I’m so happy that we all worked together to fill this book. But, I do have an announcement to make.”

No one said anything. It was as if everyone was holding their breath, even Will sitting next to her.

“One of the reasons I started this journal was to explore everyone’s interests. I want everyone to participate in this adventure as equally as possible. So, I wanted to give everyone a job, of sorts.”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #22

Image Credit: The Writer's Circle Facebook Page

Image Credit: The Writer’s Circle Facebook Page

Happy Wednesday!


Anabelle sighed. She covered his hand with her right hand. “Bill, I’m sorry. It hurts me to see you upset. I’m just overwhelmed. I know you want to help, but I’m just not sure how you can help me.”

Bill looked at her. “Sweetheart, you can talk to me. I will literally help you in any way that I can. I can’t do your schoolwork for you, but I’ll keep you accountable. I’ll help you with a schedule. Besides, I want to help with this whole wedding thing of ours.”

He smiled, trying to meet her eyes. “After all, we’re marrying each other. It’s only fair that we plan it together, right?”

Anabelle nodded, lifting her head and finally looking him in the eyes. “You’re right, sweetie. I think I’ve been closing myself inward, ever since you proposed. I just thought I could do all of this by myself. But, now I know that I can’t do it all alone. I don’t want to do this alone. I want you by my side, every step of the way …”

Anabelle didn’t say anymore because Bill’s lips were on hers. She sank to the couch and they feverishly made out for a few minutes.

Once the last kiss ended, they couldn’t stop looking at each other. Bill secretly hoped that she would stay the night before heading back to Dolphin Resort – He just wanted to hold her all night long and tell her that everything would be okay.

After Thanksgiving, Christmas was well on its way. The six of them had agreed months earlier that they didn’t want to exchange the traditional gifts as they had in years past. This year was the beginning of Europe, and everyone wanted to squirrel away as much money as possible.

The one main money saver was everyone was living at home with their parents already, except for Lizzy – But that would change as soon as she left LT.

By the beginning of December, though, everyone was restless. Thanksgiving had not gone very smoothly across the board, mainly due to stress. Everyone was stressed about money, primarily, but there were other factors as well. Anabelle and Bill had their wedding, Bethany was worried about her future engagement ring and wedding, Will was agonizing over how to propose to Bethany, and Lizzy and Hunter were figuring out how to deal with Lizzy’s impending final exams.

But, just days earlier, a relief mission had begun to take shape.

Over the Thanksgiving meal, Will and Bethany had been passing a scrawled note on a napkin back and forth. They felt like kids, but no one else at the table knew anything about Europe, and it needed to stay that way.

Will started it off. “I think we need to consider a joint bank account.”

Bethany was confused, but excited. “Are you proposing to me?”

Will shook his head and feverishly wrote, “Not yet! Haha. What I meant was to set one up for the six of us, to save for Europe. It doesn’t do us any good to have six separate buckets for the same adventure, right?”

Bethany nodded. “Of course. Sorry that I jumped to conclusions! I think it’s a great idea. But, what will the group think?”

Will considered that before writing his response. “Not sure, honestly. I think the best way is to ask them. Let’s call another face-to-face meeting, after Lizzy’s exams. Deal?”

Bethany nodded, but this time with a smile. “I think that’s the perfect way to handle it. We’re all mondo stressed out right now, and I think that will help. You got it, dude!”

True to their word, the FlixenFlaxen lit up with Bethany and Will’s profile pictures after the big meal but before dessert.

Hey guys! Happy Thanksgiving – Although we’re pretty sure it wasn’t the happiest for everyone. We know it’s become much more stressful since last we met. We have an idea, but we want to meet face-to-face again before sharing. Lizzy, when’s your last final exam?

Lizzy’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She knew she shouldn’t look at it at the table, so she excused herself to the restroom.

The corners of her mouth turned upward as she read the most recent message. Seeing the words last final exam were exhilarating.

She could barely keep up with herself, her fingers were flying so fast on the keypad:

New ideas are great – I’m so in. I’ve been dreaming about Europe as a means of escape recently, and it’s really been helping alleviate the stress. My very last final exam, EVER, is scheduled for Thursday, December 11th. Is everyone available to meet up that weekend? I’ll be moving back home between Thursday and Friday, and I’ll need a break from that by Saturday. Let me know – Hopefully it will work out!

Lizzy crossed her fingers after tapping Send. The waiting game had begun.

Happy Thanksgiving! Bill and I had a slight disagreement earlier today, but we’re okay now. We definitely want to meet up again. As of right know, we’re good to meet on Saturday the 13th. Hoping everyone else can make it! Can’t wait to see y’all again soon.

Bethany and Will pulled out their phones and scrolled through the calendar. They both sighed with relief – Will’s company Christmas party was the first weekend in December.

Good news! Bethany and I can make it on the 13th. Woohoo! We’re excited to meet up again, and so soon. Enjoy the rest of the weekend – I’m sure we’ll talk again shortly.

Even though everyone was separated at that moment, the six of them all had smiles on their faces. Nothing could bring them down.

The next day, the FlixenFlaxen was buzzing again.

Uh, sorry guys. Bad news. This is Bill, by the way. Since I’ve requested off work so many Saturdays in the last few months, I’m required to work the 13th and 20th of December. I’m so bummed about this! Is there anything we can do?

Bethany frowned, tapping the corner of her phone against her teeth. Will looked at her quizzically, until Bethany showed him the message.

Will extended his hand, and Bethany gave him her iPhone. After a few moments of contemplation, he started to tap on the screen.

B&W here! Bummer, Bill. Sorry about that! No worries though. We can do a Sunday if need be. In fact, why don’t we turn it into another sleepover? Only this time it’s pushed back a little bit – Start it on Saturday night after you get off work and then go into most of Sunday. We have some vacation built up as well, so we can go into Monday if we want. Just let us know – We’re flexible.

Bill smiled. But Hunter frowned.

Hey, it’s Hunter. Saturday into Sunday works, but I have to work on Mondays. Sorry!

Will and Bethany sighed. This clearly wasn’t working. They could feel the anxiety rising. Could a compromise be reached?

Suddenly, Lizzy finally felt like she had the answer.

Lizzy here. I know everyone must be really frustrated by now. So – What if we do, like, a Skype session? I know it’s definitely not the same as everyone being together in one room, but at least we’re all communicating and seeing each other’s faces while doing so …

Everyone considered Lizzy’s proposition. They’d never tried Skype before. It worked for other people, all over the world. Heck, Will and Bethany had used it several times when they first started dating, when Bethany was still a student at LT. It wasn’t the same as being all together, but it sounded like a good idea, on paper.

Everyone mulled over it. It was different, and honestly, no one was too keen on it. But, if they couldn’t meet up face-to-face again until after New Year’s, something had to give. They needed another meeting to settle the period in between, and this suggestion may be their ticket.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #21

Image Credit: Facebook

Image Credit: Facebook

Welcome back! Happy Wednesday!


“What’s wrong, baby?”

Bethany looked up, startled. She softened as Will glanced at her, flecks of concern and worry in his beautiful brown eyes. She hated to see him worry, but she also wanted to be honest with him.

“I’m not quite sure, to be completely honest. I’m euphoric that this weekend went so well. I know we were so worried, and everything went as smoothly as it could be …”

Frustrated, she held the journal between her knees as she ran her fingers through her chest-length hair. The tangles from the blustery day didn’t help matters.

“Ouch! I need to find my brush …,” she muttered. She forgot about the journal and went for her purse. She thought that getting the tangles out would help.

“Baby, talk to me. I can tell something’s wrong – You can’t deny it. You were so happy all weekend long. Something’s changed since we got in the car, and I just want to help.”

Bethany stopped hacking at her hair long enough to process what Will had just said. She was so incredibly grateful for Will. It seemed like he always had the right thing to say, the words just floated to her ears and made things right with the world. Today, though, his words offered little comfort.

“I think I’m running the gambit of emotions, at least right now. I hate it whenever we have to part ways. I’m far less worried than I was – Everything is going great. But, I’m afraid that won’t long. Remember how you said that you had that feeling …”

In her peripheral vision, she saw him shake his head, and that cut her off. He knew that move irritated her to no end, but he also knew that gesture made her stop, think, and maybe even listen. Every single time.

“I didn’t mean to cut you off, first of all. But, B, that feeling I had last weekend was just that – A feeling. And it turned out to be needless. I think we just insert worry into our lives sometimes, and for the most part, it doesn’t do us a bit of good.”

Bethany sighed. “I know. But we’re supposed to trust our instincts, right?”

Will nodded. “Of course. That’s part of who we are. However, sometimes our feelings and our hearts take over. We’ve both seen that and felt it happen countless times. Like when I kissed you on the boardwalk on our first date – Was that instinct? A feeling? Well, it was both – Sort of.”

Bethany nodded, so Will continued, “Sometimes, we just need to cast aside the trusting part and just go with the flow. I know it’s hard – I struggle with it too, believe it or not. We all worry too much, it has its place in life in general. We’re all stressed out about multiple things, even if we don’t show it outright. Guys have an easier time masking their feelings, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have them or show them.”

Will sighed and took a breath. There were a few moments of silence, but it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. Both of them were processing what had been said, and they were internally strategizing about what to say or do next.

As Will came to a red light, they turned their heads to meet each other. They had this tradition of kissing at every red light that they could, and it usually helped transition into the next topic or point.

When the light turned green, they both opened their mouths to say something, but just as quickly closed them. Almost communicating via ESP, they just sat in silence for a long while, letting everything wash over them like the ocean waves. It was calming.

However, it was anything but calm with the other two pairs. The weekend had been better than expected, but once everyone had parted ways earlier in the afternoon, the positivity broke down quickly.

Anabelle and Bill were trying desperately to stay calm. This whole adventure thing, along with planning their wedding was immensely stressful. They took comfort in that the wedding was happening first and then the European adventure would follow later on down the road, but it didn’t help much. They were trying to be objective and realistic.

On top of everything else, they were super-tired of the long-distance relationship. They wanted nothing more than to move in together as soon as possible, but it just wasn’t practical at that moment. Bill knew he needed to save as much money as he could while still under his mom’s roof. And Anabelle knew she needed to find some sort of employment now, in order to earn a living. She hadn’t had any luck thus far in her search. She was a little jealous that Bill had gotten a cushy position in his field. She was happy for him, no doubt, but it wasn’t any less frustrating.

They were also stressed about where to live. Bill liked his job in Richland, especially since it was finally in his field that he studied. Anabelle knew that her job prospects would definitely improve after she received her online graduate degree, but she really needed to find some sort of job now, something that would ideally transfer her to Richland. She wasn’t picky about where she wanted to work – Even something part-time would help. But she too was trying to save as much money as possible. She was currently living with her mom, close to the Dolphin Resort district. She didn’t want to give that up just yet, but she also wanted to be closer to Bill. So, she secretly began applying to jobs in and around Dolphin Resort, as well as Richland. The money coming in would certainly improve their situation – Wouldn’t it?

Luckily, Hunter and Lisanna were calmer than Bill and Anabelle at the present moment. Things had settled down to minor anxiety attacks and slight waves of stress for Lizzy – For now, anyway. She was focusing on Hunter’s visits right now. She knew finals were bearing down on her, but she couldn’t think about that, or wanted to. She wanted to spend as much with Hunter as she could, which was a complete 180 from that Friday that she desperately wanted to be alone. Now, she couldn’t get enough of him, and they suited the both of them just fine.

Despite the instability of emotions and feelings among the three couples, the weekend at LT had done a world of good. A concrete plan was beginning to formulate. They had even started to discuss dates and a few travel arrangements and connections. Bethany’s family had extensive frequent flier miles that would help offset some of the cost of flying over to England. There was one big question that hung over everyone’s heads, however – Was this adventure just a temporary escape from reality, or would it become more permanent?

As Thanksgiving approached like a barreling freight train, the stress only increased. The tension between the couples was taught, threatening to snap into chaos at any given moment. Holidays were, by nature, stressful. So everyone tried their best to relax and be with their families. Unfortunately, no holiday gathering ever goes as smoothly as everyone hopes it will.

The first snap happened with Bill and Anabelle. For the first time in the history of their relationship, they were able to celebrate Thanksgiving together. It sounded great on paper, but both of them were secretly dreading it. The three workdays leading up to Thanksgiving were immensely slow at Bill’s work, so he was sent home early Monday through Wednesday. He wasn’t salaried yet, and wouldn’t be until after the New Year, so he lost a good chunk of wages. He was grumpy and not excited about being stuck with family, when he could be working to make up for the lost pay. He was thrilled to see Anabelle and actually spend a holiday with her for once, but she did not share the same sentiment.

Like Lisanna, Anabelle had basically hit a brick wall with her classes. She enjoyed the fact that the program was exclusively online, and all the materials she needed were the textbooks and her laptop. It was portable for her, which had allowed her to travel quite extensively to see her dad’s family and other relatives. However, she was losing faith that she would graduate on time, and the last thing she wanted was for school to hinder her job search, finding employment, and planning the wedding.

Anabelle and Drew rarely fought, but when an argument did simmer to the surface, it got ugly, and quickly. The Thanksgiving gathering at Bill’s house felt like a pressure cooker. Finally, just before the meal began, it all exploded.

“Look, I’m just super stressed out right now! And that’s all!”

Anabelle was struggling to keep her voice and emotions in check, and she was losing the battle.

“Honey, I just want to help you. I want to take it all away,” Bill pleaded with her. He was trying to get her to sit down. If she kept pacing, he was afraid she’d fall through the living room floor.

“Well, you can’t take it away. I wish I had a magic wand and was able to say ‘Poof!’ and everything would vanish into thin air.” Anabelle’s voice was reaching higher levels by the minute.

Bill finally got ahold of her left hand. He brushed his fingers over her engagement ring.

“Anabelle, I love you. I certainly don’t want to fight with you. Especially not now – It’s Thanksgiving, for crying out loud. We’re here together, for the first time in SEVEN YEARS! This is the one day where you can legitimately forget about the stress.”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #20

Happy Wednesday!


After the initial shock wore off, and stopping several times for brief chats with sorority sisters and old friends, they finally settled in the library. Since it was early on a Saturday, it was basically deserted, very quiet and peaceful – Perfect. They quickly laid claim to one of the biggest study rooms on the second floor, with a door, and made sure there were six chairs. It certainly was a tight fit, but they made it work.

Lisanna then announced that she had a surprise for everyone – On Friday, she had taken the initiative and reserved a bunch of books on Europe and traveling. Everyone was visibly thrilled. Up until this point, no one was really sure how truly on board Lizzy was with the whole idea. But this effort on her made everyone realize that she was just as excited about the adventure and motivated to plan it with the group.

Bethany was probably the most excited of them all – She definitely saw a positive shift in Lizzy because of this efforts. In addition, the daily texts had also become increasingly encouraging. With each passing day, it had appeared to Bethany that Lizzy was feeling better overall, far more diligent in her studies, and almost had a sense of peace and content come over her. The furthest proof, and icing on the cake, was Bethany finally seeing her in person – Lizzy had an ear-to-ear grin from the moment that everyone had arrived on campus.

Bethany sighed contentedly as everyone picked a book and started thumbing through them.

“Hey, everyone. I loved your surprise, Lizzy! Thank you. This is a huge help. But I actually have a surprise, too.”

Everyone’s eyes followed Bethany’s hands from the moment she finished speaking. You could cut the tension with a knife as she methodically unzipped her backpack. The suspense was killing everyone, but no one hardly breathed.

Finally, Bethany put the mystery item in the center of the desk. She sat back and watched everyone take it in.

Eyes as wide as saucers, again. But no one moved, nor spoke. The silence made Bethany wither inside, like a plan trying to survive without water.

Finally, someone had the courage to speak up – Bethany couldn’t put her finger on who it was. It may have been multiple voices for all she knew. But the words went like this:

“This. Is. So. Awesome!!!!”

Bethany heaved a huge sigh of relief. Her creative efforts paid off! As she snapped back to reality, she had to interject her hands to prevent the ensuing fight over the journal. The six descended into chaos, play-acting like little children.

“It’s mine!”

“No way, dude. I saw it first!”

“Let me see! Let. Me. See!”

But Bethany’s hands were quicker. She snatched the journal like a ninja and hugged it to her chest. She glared an icy stare and attempted to restrain her voice – They were in the library, of all places – as she mutedly yelled,

“QUIET!”

Everyone immediately ceased all movement, whether it was in mid-grab or mid-word. It was like Bethany had yelled “FREEZE” in a hot game of freeze tag. She had to stifle a laugh at everyone’s ridiculous expressions, as she attempted to lower her voice into a stern whisper, complete with a wagging finger.

“What are we, in elementary school? Nope. I wanted everyone to see it, but I guess we’re going to have to, you know, share, like we’re all in kindergarten again. Oh, and take turns – Nicely. Everyone will get their chance to see it, I promise. I’m not going to take it away – Unless you decide to fight over it again. And, for the love of everything holy, keep your voices down! We are in the library, after all, and we need to stay quiet! Do you really want to get kicked out?

Everyone sheepishly lowered their eyes and shook their heads. Bethany rolled her eyes – Reigning in these class clowns may be harder than she had originally imagined.

“Are we calmer now? Alright, then. Let’s all play nicely in this tiny sandbox we’re in. Now, I’m going to pass it over here to Anabelle first …”

Anabelle didn’t snatch it away from Bethany. She held the journal as if it were a china doll. Bethany had filled nearly all of the 150 pages, but she’d elected to save five pages for each section, to all each of the five to have their own place to create their notes, canvas, or Pinterest ideas. It was only fair. In addition, she’d given each person their own color – To help differentiate, and keep some order to the chaos. She’d used the same color Post-It notes as bookmarks at the top of the sections as well.

After the journal made its first loop around the group, Bethany reached into her backpack again, and produced six pens.

“These are the same colors that go with the journal. I want you to use them as much as you want – Don’t worry, I bought plenty of extras whenever those first ones run dry. Plus, you’ll see that I put them on lanyards with each of our names and ‘The Great European Adventure.’ I thought this would be a great reminder of what we’re striving for when times get tough or when we’re wading through our everyday lives.”

As the pens got passed around and the feverish chatter started again, the kind that was becoming commonplace during their meetings, Bethany and Will’s eyes met. Will grinned at Bethany as she leaned into him. She sighed with relief as Will kissed her forehead.

As they watched the group, Will murmured into Bethany’s forehead, “I think we’re going to be just fine. Why were we all worried?”

Aside from a bit of squabbling about whose turn it was to have the journal, the weekend, like all the other meetings so far, passed by far too quickly.

After the unveiling of the travel books and the journal/pens combination, the study room grew very hot and uncomfortable. Plus, everyone was getting hungry. Since Lisanna had already checked the large stack of books out of the library for the month-long reserve period, everyone took a stack and they gingerly made their way out of the library and into the bright sunshine and brisk breeze. The group carefully made their way over to the Student Union, where they had their pick of food options. The rest of the afternoon slipped away like the sun did behind the buildings, as everyone thumbed through the books and passed the journal back and forth. Before everyone knew it, the dinner rush was flowing through the café and the six decided it was far beyond time to haul their treasure trove all the way back to Lisanna’s apartment for the evening festivities.

All three of Lizzy’s apartment-mates were away for the weekend – Definitely a rare sight and treat – so the six proceeded to party like it was 1999. The books and journal went promptly into a corner of the living room, and out came the baking supplies, pizza, frozen appetizers, and a few adult beverages. Since no one was going anywhere until the next morning, it was safe to let loose a little, as long as they stayed relatively quiet.

Toward the end of the night, everyone was fat and happy, along with being drunk on a little bit of alcohol and a whole lot of love and excitement. The three couples quickly chose their corners and proceeded to make out and get frisky like no one was going to live past the dawning of the morning sun. It got dangerously close to being naughtier than that, but someone wisely noticed everyone teetering on the edge of all six of them being naked in the same space, and called a time-out. Everyone laughed, immediately straightened up, and headed to their respective private places for the night. Not saying that anyone went to sleep immediately, or anything, but no one wanted to see anyone else doing their private business if they could help it.

Sunday morning came far too quickly. It was exciting, because all of the meetings up until this point had been forced to end by Saturday night. No one had gotten a lot of sleep, for obvious reasons, but that was okay. The excitement was still buzzing.

After getting a slow start to the morning, someone suggested going to the Brunch Bungalow restaurant that was close to the edge of Farmerstown. It had amazing food – It was pretty much the town’s greasy spoon, and boy was it a popular place. It was difficult to get a table for all six of them, but they waited patiently amidst the smells of pancakes, bacon, and eggs wafting around their noses.

Finally, a very hung-over group of LT students – Assumed to be a mix of freshmen and sophomores coming down from the previous night’s Greek row crawl – gave the six a table near the back. Bethany had made sure to grab the journal before leaving Lizzy’s apartment.

After ordering their food – A smorgasbord of French toast, waffles, sausage, eggs, and lots of bacon – silence fell around the table. Bethany had set the journal in the center. She had flipped through the pages at some point the night before – Almost every page was full.

She sighed. She wasn’t sure what to say.

“Lizzy, first of all – Thank you so much for hosting us this weekend. I think, judging by last night, anyway, that we all had a great time.”

Everyone gave slight nods and murmurs of agreement – It was clear some of the group were a little hung over as well.

“I’m so impressed with what all of y’all have put in this journal since yesterday. I mean, I gave this to y’all almost 24 hours ago – and it’s practically filled up now. Thanks, guys. I don’t quite know what to say.”

Bethany paused. She was getting emotional. She was part of the slightly hung over group, but why else did she feel hot tears threatening to burst at any moment?

Will noticed her chin quivering, and he gently kissed her temple while murmuring, “It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.”

Bethany let one tear go. Everyone immediately looked massively concerned.

She wiped the tear away and flashed her signature grin as a sign of good faith.

“I’m good, guys. Honest. I’m certainly not sad – I’m more like super happy and super proud. And thankful to have such great friends. I know y’all are fully committed to this adventure; this crazy adventure that started as just a mere venting session between Hunter and I. I just can’t wait to see what happens next.”

With that, Anabelle remarked that the food was probably getting cold, so everyone dug in – Hungry for food and hungry for the adventure that lay in wait.

Bethany kept flipping the pages of the journal absent-mindedly as Will drove southeast toward home. He noticed that she had been awfully quiet during the majority of the drive – Normally she chattered away like a happy bird.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #19

It’s Wednesday again!

Here’s the next installment of “Discussion of Differences” – Enjoy!


As she drove toward Will’s house after work, she spoke potential responses to Hunter aloud. She knew something would eventually bubble up to the surface.

Bethany parked in Will’s driveway and hustled inside – It was really starting to be autumn, with the crisp chill in the air. She kissed Will as soon as she crossed the threshold, and then excused herself to the bathroom. She had logged into the FlixelFlaxen before she’d left work, and was ready to reply.

Look – I completely understand how you feel. You know full well that Will and I were in a LDR before I graduated. I desperately wanted Will to come visit me every single weekend, but I knew – We both knew – that wasn’t practical. I personally don’t think it’s practical in your case, either. I think you should be as supportive as possible, though. Visit her every other weekend. It’s only six weeks until the end! You both can handle this, I know it. I want to help, but I want you to make the decision. Let me know what happens.

Hunter was gaming – as usual – when the notification beep interrupted his music. He paused the game and clicked over to the FlixelFlaxen. He’d gotten really good at skimming Bethany’s messages, so it took less than a minute for him to get the gist.

His response was lightning fast:

Thanks for your thoughts. I really appreciate it. You’re right, in a way. We both want to see each other every weekend, but I don’t think it will help anything. It is only six more weeks. I’ll see if she wants me to call her more often – Maybe that will help during the weeks that I can’t visit her. She definitely needs all the support that she can get. Thanks again – You’re a great friend.

Bethany smiled and went to sit by Will’s side, as happy as a clam.

As Bethany and Will settled into watching the newest episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” Bethany drifted off into dreamland again, visions of all things Europe dancing in her head.

The next day marked a week away from the next get-together. Since it was a Saturday, Bethany devoted most of the morning to writing everything down. She switched back and forth between the computer and her special Europe journal. After the first meeting, Bethany and Will had gone to Target the following week, and Bethany wandered into the stationery aisle. She scanned the journals and notebooks until Will heard her gasp. Bethany had found the ultimate 7-subject notebook. Yes, there are notebooks that go beyond the 5-subject kind now!

Bethany thought it was just perfect – There were actually enough sections to cover all the bases. There were six equal sections, one for each person, since Bethany was delegating roles for everyone. Then the seventh section was reserved for general planning, wish lists, doodles, photos – Sort of like a European Pinterest board, but on paper.

She knew that the Target in Chesapeake very likely didn’t carry maps of Europe, but that’s exactly what she wanted to do for the cover. Bethany had always been neat and clean with her school notebooks, so she was excited to be creative with this one.

Along with the journal, Bethany snagged a pack of colorful Sharpie markers and the multi-colored foil star stickers that everyone coveted in elementary school. She could hardly wait to get out of the store and head to Will’s to finish her masterpiece.

By the end of the afternoon, Bethany triumphantly declared her custom journal complete. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, she was able to print out a super-imposed map of the continent that was scaled to the precise size of the notebook cover. With the Sharpies, she boldly wrote THE GRAND EUROPEAN ADVENTURE in one corner, and then doodled around the other corners in different scripts. The final touch was the star stickers, meticulously placed on the cities that everyone had mentioned through their previous conversations – London, Paris, Nice, Madrid, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, Berlin, Stockholm, Vienna – The list appeared as if it would never end. She even ran out of stickers before finishing the list!

She couldn’t wait to start writing in it, but she was whisked away by Will to the bedroom for some overdue sexy time. It could wait, but not much longer. They would all meet up the following Saturday, and there was still so much to do and prepare.

Over the course of the week, Bethany carved out an hour every night that was solely dedicated to filling the journal to the brim. She wanted to fill every single inch, if at all possible. She made it like a scrapbook that had Pinterest and a travel agency come together. She was having the most fun, and she knew she would be sad when it was truly finished. She did decide early on to leave some space for everyone else’ input – It wouldn’t be fair otherwise.

However, she couldn’t wait for everyone to see it. She even tried to hide it from Will, but that didn’t work so well. He could tell that she was really excited, and that buoyed his spirits. For some reason, he was having an inkling that Saturday’s meeting was not going to be as stellar as Bethany and the others were anticipating.

He tried to mask it, but it wasn’t easy. Because he and Bethany had been together for over four years at that point, she’d gotten really good at being able to tell when something was wrong with him or if something was bothering him. After all, Will was one of the most easy-going people she’d ever met, so it wasn’t really hard to perceive when something was different.

Will finally came to the conclusion that he had to let Bethany know of his suspicions. He spent the first part of the week trying to rehearse what she was going to say, because he knew that Bethany would likely react really strongly. She didn’t take kindly to uncomfortable situations, and more so if they blew up in her face all of a sudden. He decided he would take her to dinner and attempt to tell her his thoughts that Thursday. He figured it would give her enough time to react to it and process it before the meeting took place. That was his hope, anyway.

Thursday night, they met at Will’s after work like usual. Normally, they went out to dinner as a couple on Fridays, but Will liked to pull a surprise every so often, to keep Bethany guessing. That night, they decided on Outback. Will drove, and even though he was holding Bethany’s hand and chattering like everything was normal, in his head he was desperately trying to formulate the right words. He knew this wasn’t going to go well.

After they ordered their salads and steaks, they were making small talk about work. They had mutually decided that their conversation about Europe would be minimal to none between the two of them. They agreed that they could talk about their own wants and wishes, but nothing that involved the group. It was all about fairness. Then, the conversation suddenly fell off a cliff, and Bethany heard Will swallow and breathe deeply.

“Will? What’s wrong? You look worried.”

He cleared his throat – It was now or never.

“Bethie, I am worried. I’ve tried to find or come up with the right words all week long, to try to tell you this carefully or gently. But, I’ll just be straight with you – I know that’s how you like it.”

It was Bethany’s turn to swallow. She instantly got nervous and edgy whenever Will was nervous – It generally wasn’t a good sign.

“Will, honey, I appreciate that. I really do. You know me so well. What is it? You know that you can tell me anything, right?”

Will nodded and bowed his head a little. He didn’t want to meet her eyes, but he forced himself to do so.

“Okay, here it is. I’ve had this inkling that this meeting on Saturday is going to be a disaster. I don’t know why or how or what, but that’s just my gut feeling. I don’t know what to do.”

Bethany’s eyes softened. She stroked his right hand with her left, and with her right hand, cupped his chin and kissed him.

“Sweetheart, I can tell you’re worried. I am too, a little bit. I think it’s because we’re going to start talking about the real details now. You know, the money aspect is a big one …”

Will nodded. He felt his gut untwist a little.

“The fun party planning period is ending. But, we’re all friends. We’ve been through some tough times already – Remember how worried we all were when Bill’s mom had that stroke?”

Will nodded again. He started to breathe normally again.

“Everything will be fine. If we do disagree, so be it. We don’t have to plan everything in one Saturday. Actually, we can’t do that. There will be many more Saturday meetings before the official adventure begins.”

Bethany smiled. Seeing her grin restored Will’s confidence and faith. He cupped her chin and kissed her longingly.

“Whew. I feel better. Don’t you?”

Bethany nodded vigorously.

“I keep saying it because it’s so true – Talking it out is the way to go.”

“Well, that was perfect timing. I think I see our waitress coming with our food. Let’s enjoy our meal and think about something else for a change – Like maybe having sexy time when we get back to your house?”

No one could wipe the grins off their faces.

By Friday, pure excitement took over. Everyone could hardly wait to drive up to LT. On the surface, it looked like a good change of pace. There were a lot of advantages – More places to hang out, the library was nearby if further research was needed, more options than pizza for food choices.

But, there were also disadvantages – Distraction was the main obstacle. Since classes were still in session, students were on campus, and the five alumni all had friends still attending the school. However, they hadn’t publicized their travels or meeting on social media for that exact reason.

Since the first meeting, they solely communicated via a group FlixelFlaxen message, rather than individual statuses and tagging all six people every single time. This way was also much more efficient than a group text. In terms of traveling, though, it was decided that Bethany and Hunter would be in charge of the main communications, and then Hunter would communicate with Bill accordingly. It seemed a lot easier that way, since they were three couples and all the communicating parties had to do was speak with their other halves to get the message across.

The excitement, along with a little bit of pressure, steadily rose as everyone converged on Farmerstown, Virginia, the home of the Lancer Institute. It was like a homecoming of sorts for Bill and Anabelle, and Will and Bethany. The campus was rapidly expanding, almost by the day, and Hunter and Lisanna assured everyone that they likely would not recognize most of Farmerstown and LT. They were right.

The other couples were in awe. So much had changed since Anabelle, Bill, and Bethany had graduated in 2011. A lot of the familiar stores had closed long ago, and new things were either in place or under construction. The biggest residence hall at LT was being prepared for demolition. They took a tour of the renovated art building and sorority dorm – It was astounding.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂