March 8 is International Women's Day. It promotes gender parity and also celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Look around. Strong women aren’t necessarily CEOs of large corporations, congresswomen, or organizers of events for important charity organizations. The strong woman in this story juggles a variety of roles and responsibilities.
By Joyce Ann Brown
The nurse left work at five o’clock—a rarity. This evening, the doctor had taken over her phone calls to patients and ordered her out the door.
"But I have two more--"
"Your health is important. Go play tennis, and enjoy."
Reaching the parking lot, she saw her friend, Lola, lumbering toward the cars. Every morning, Lola picked up donuts and, in order to get a close parking space, got to the building and up to her reception desk half an hour early. With a quick wave, the nurse jogged on toward her own usual space at the back of the lot. Exercise. She took her own medical advice seriously.
Abruptly, she slowed to a creep and pressed a cell phone speed dial number. Twice she had forgotten to call her husband on tennis night, and twice, just as she hit the court, she had urgent and—not nasty exactly, but frustrated “where-are-you” calls by the after school child care providers. She was still trying to repay her neighbor for all the last-minute pick-ups. It was her husband who had urged her to take one evening a week to play tennis. But it was his late calls from clients, who didn’t respect his night with the kids, which made him sometimes forget his commitment. Over the phone, he assured her that in ten seconds he’d be out of the office and on his way to after-school care.
That call cost her several minutes, but there was still time to get onto the court at 6:00, if she hurried. First, she had one stop to make—to get a gift for her daughter to take to a birthday party after school tomorrow. Earlier, they had decided a certain toy was too expensive. Now, it was too late to find anything else, and Creative Play closed at 6:00.
She glanced at the back seat when she got into the car and hit her forehead with the heel of her hand. A hot day in September, she had decided this morning, is not a day to leave one’s tennis racket in the car. She pulled into the front space recently vacated by Lola, ran into the doctor’s building, retrieved her tennis bag from the coat room, and got back to the car in six minutes, tops. Five-fifteen, still time for the gift stop.
On the way to the store, her mother rang her. “Are you coming on Saturday to help with the lawn work? It’ll be a party. I’m making a big lunch.”
“We’ll be there. All of us are coming.” Since her father passed away a year ago, her siblings’ families had helped Mom with the big jobs. She finished the phone call in the parking lot before she raced into the toy store and found the gift. Unfortunately, there was a line at the check-out counter.
Now she would really be late! Okay, maybe not. The courts were close, and she was a fast dresser. She drove down the street toward the racket club entrance past a city park pond where people were walking or jogging on the hiking trail. Almost there, she slammed on her brakes. Ohmygosh, a mother duck with six ducklings following had casually stepped out of the tall grass into the street—right in front of her! Cars going both ways stopped to let the ducks pass. She glanced at her watch. She started to think the last couple of ducklings were dispensable. A momentary lapse.
The last adorable little duckling waddled out of the street, and she sped into the racket club parking lot, past the front desk, and into the locker room. The nurse, mother, wife, daughter, personal shopper, careful driver, tennis player ran onto her assigned court only three-and-a-half minutes late. The first player to arrive, she practiced serves until the others walked on.
The Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series features an ordinary woman who wears multiple hats and takes on another, that of a sleuth, to help family and friends by solving mysterious crimes that are affecting their lives.
Read posts by other women authors who write fiction with strong women protagonists:
Darlene Deluca, author of women’s fiction and romance
Pamela B. Eglinski, author of suspense and historical fiction
Theresa Hupp, author of historical fiction
Juliet Kincaid, author of historical mysteries
If you like the excerpts these authors have posted, please let them know in a comment on their blogs. Writers always enjoy hearing from readers.