Coffee for WriMos: Days 11, 12 & 13

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 15, 2014

Hiccups happen.

And when you get the hiccups, you have to do something about it–hold your breath, drink water up-side-down, swear mildly or fiercely. You can also ignore the hiccups. No matter what, hiccups will come and go.

NaNoWriMo can have hiccups, too. Life gets in the way, the words won’t flow, you reach a murky spot and can’t see through it. That’s okay. It’s not about the hiccups; it’s about what you choose to do when they happen.

I’ve had my fair share of hiccups this month, but I’m plowing through. I’m determined not to get distracted, although sometimes it can’t be helped.

The Hub is not having an easy go at finding work. So, I helped him write a new resume, and yesterday we drove to Spokane, Washington to cruise the industrial areas. I waited in the car as he went into offices asking what their hiring process was and if they were in need of a technician.

I could argue that I was not needed to sit in the car, but I understood that the Hub needed encouragement. When I grow weary of the trail to publication he encourages me to go on, so it was my turn to encourage him. I took notes, gathered data and went along for the ride.

As it turns out, he has two very promising interviews on Monday. The bonus was when I got a call on my cell phone from my neighbor who knows we are struggling. She also knows that I’m a writer and she asked to barter wood for my services.

While I’ve neglected to post coffee, I have plowed through several difficult scenes. My word count for three days is 3,420 but I have two major hurdles figured out. The hiccups are calmed for the moment and forward movement is yielding results. Keep at it, WriMos!

Thought for Days 11, 12 & 13:

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” ~Ray Bradbury

Excerpt From Rock Creek:

Mists in the trees at morning reminded Mary of ghosts. She stood out on the porch, unable to sleep. The cool morning would soon heat up with the rising sun. Chickens scratched for insects and she thought about collecting eggs, but the dull ache in her back wouldn’t go away. It was worse when she tried to recline in bed and the origin of her waking so early. The red rooster hopped on top of the split wood not yet stacked and crowed. Mary thought about sitting down, but then she wouldn’t want to get up. The rooster crowed again.

“You’re up early, Wife.” Cob came up behind her and set his large hands on her shoulders.

“My back is causing me some discomfort.”

Cobs fingers began rubbing her shoulders and neck. “You feel taught as an overstrung fiddle. Do you want me to fetch Julia?”

“Yes, I do.”

Cob stopped. “Mary, don’t frighten me like this. I’ve had a hard go this month.”

Mary wanted to smack him. He deserved a hard go after putting her through his betrayal with Sarah Shull, but she would never tell him what relief it brought her that Sarah’s baby died. God forgive her, but she hoped it would happen. She hadn’t expected Cob to take it so hard which only meant he did have feelings for the woman. All the more reason to cut that blood tie. “It’s your family you should be fretting about.”

“It is my family that concerns me. It’s you. It’s not like you to want Julia, saying your back hurts and damn it woman, it’s too early for the babe.”

“It’s nothing more than the babe’s position. Most likely it’s another stubborn McCanles male.”


But the babe did not wait, nor change position. Mary woke up howling in less than a week. The pressure was greater than it had ever been and the pain in her leg was burning. On top of that, contractions were coming fast and hard. Cob didn’t have to be summoned from the barn. He stomped up the steps, still pulling on his boots and nearly crashed through the door. Julia awoke to the simultaneous noises of Mary, Cob and a frightened Cling who was crying. Cob ignore her command to get out.

Mary gasped for breath as the contraction eased. She clutched Cob’s hand. “It isn’t time.”

“Julia, for God’s sake, do something.”

“For your sake Brother, and Mary’s, go fetch the midwife and rouse Mother. Tell her we’ll need all the women-folk.”

Cob left and Mary let out another howl as he thundered past the house riding Captain down the pitch black mountain trail to gather Eliza and his kin. She heard the hoof beats drift away as the pain eased up. Not caring about who saw her, Mary got on all fours and tried to ease the back pressure. She lost track of how many more contractions came before Eliza hustled into the room, barking orders. Mary wasn’t sure who was with her, but somehow it made her feel relieved to know that she hadn’t come alone.

Later that day, well after the sun came up and the smells of cooking from the outside summer kitchen wafted into her room, Mary felt her body weakening. Her limbs shook and she couldn’t maintain the various positions Eliza directed her to take. Julia and Mary Catherine helped, along with other women who were not full midwives, but keen and strong enough to help. Celia, Cob’s, mother, was joined by a bevy of friends to cook and keep Cob’s children out of the house. Mary thought she heard the thunder of Cob’s horse running, but soon the sky darkened and lightening crackled. More thunder roared and the storm let loose the rain.


Sarah didn’t make it back to her cabin before getting drenched. She had foraged far, seeking wild blueberries that grew best up high. The thunder reminded her of the times she used to watch Cob race swiftly on Captain’s back and she nearly dropped her basket of berries when she saw him racing up the trail, lit up momentarily by the lightening. How many times did she imagine him riding thus and to finally see him, she didn’t believe her own eyes. She arrived at the cabin just as he was tethering Captain beneath the lean-to. They were both drenched and he had the look of misery about him standing there with balled fists clenched to his sides. Oblivious to the rain he said, “I’ve killed her.”

Sarah grabbed his clenched fist that was the size of a large stone and led him into the cabin. Once inside she set down the blueberries, and he reached for her, bending down to kiss her fiercely as if whatever demons drove him to ride in this storm could be excised by a kiss. Trying to not give in as easily as she had before those nights, cloaked in darkness and secrecy, alone if the backroom of Phillip Shull’s store, Sarah tried to remain neutral. Mocking tones of “sinner” reminded her that even now after her daughter’s death she was not welcome to walk among her own family or community. After her daughter’s death, James rarely visited and food from the McCanles women ceased. Why had she believed it was for her? Of course they cared to take care of Martha Allice. With her dark brown eyes she was one of them. Sarah meant nothing. Cob said “he killed her?” Was he mourning their daughter as she was every quiet, lonely morning that she woke up to see an empty cradle in an empty cabin? She kissed him back, opening her mouth to his probing tongue. He tasted like corn liquor and his touch was as hot as direct sun on rocks. She absorbed it all.


Mary cried out in pain, her throat hoarse and dry. Julia pressed a wet cloth to her mouth but she tried to push it away. The baby had stalled and she was certain it would kill her now. Her waters had broke hours ago and the whisperings only served to warn her that the women weren’t expecting her to pull through either. Stubborn, Mary thought. Let’s see who is stubborn. She summoned every strength of her body and roared like a demented beast, pushing with all her effort. The baby, breeched and stalled, was born blue. Eliza shook her head and Mary glowered at the midwife as she laid the still baby on Mary’s bare chest. Mary stroked the wee thing and everyone was surprised to see a little foot kick.

“She’s a Greene and McCanles. What did you all expect?”

Julia laughed loudest as usual and women began to help clean up Mary and the little girl. Cob’s mother beamed with pride in the doorway of the bedroom.

“Celia Elizabeth McCanles.” Mary knew it was unwise to name a baby so quickly, but since this child was already thought to be dead, what did it matter. With the name she honored her mother-in-law, her midwife and her husband.

“Where is Cob,” she asked.


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  1. TanGental

    I do so wish the hunts for work, time and continuing inspiration go well. The writing remains crisp as ever and the fear in childbirth back then must have been acute. Love the stomping blustering Cob made useless and impotent by something beyond him. What hiccup remedies do you remember. I can recall a violent shock, a cold key in the neck and drinking water from the wrong side of the glass.

    • Charli Mills

      Yep–I remember the drinking water from the wrong side of a cup (messy results, followed by another hiccup). And being frightened–that someone would try to scare you out of the hiccups.

      Thanks for stating how you see Cob. That’s what I was going for. I’m trying to show him as a flawed person, not a monster. I actually do not have any details or stories about this particular birth, but the child was a life-long “invalid” being slow of mind. To me, that sounds like oxygen deprivation at birth. It was a scary event, and women often died from child bed fever afterwards.

      • TanGental

        Umbilical around the neck, maybe?

      • Charli Mills

        Yes, something like that. The umbilical cord can get wrapped around the neck in a breech. No C-sections back then. Of course, I’ll want to sharpen the details and I’d love to find a midwife from that region who might also know enough history to give me a clear picture.

  2. Annecdotist

    You’ve still achieved an awful lot despite life’s interruptions. And it’s an important reminder that some things do matter more than our writing! Hope the interviews are successful.

    • Charli Mills

      Looking for that balance! 🙂

  3. Sherri

    Wow…I just read the story and boy, I’m drenched from the storm. This had everything…passion, rage, fear, then the birth of a baby and then laughter. And Cob is with Sarah…powerful this Charli, really powerful, I’m loving it.
    As for your news, just wonderful and I wish the Hub all the very best for his interviews tomorrow 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sherri! That gives me a boost. 🙂 Yes, I’m hopeful for the Hub tomorrow!

      • Sherri


  4. Sarah Brentyn

    Ah. Hiccups. The swearing is always good. Never works but I tend to like it anyway. I use a spoon full of sugar (yup, I’m Mary Poppins) and it works. I think my kids like getting hiccups. 😉 Hiccups in writing? Just the swearing. Sugar never works.

    Hey! A neighborly thing! Yay!

    Absolutely LOVE your thought for the day. <3

    Ooh… There is a lot going on here. And that last scene (and last line…) Ouch.

    Wishing all the best to hubbie!

    • Charli Mills

      Don’t you hate it though when you swear and a hiccup cuts it in half? Son-hic-of-hic-a-hic and you just give up? Sugar helps anything…there’s sugar in wine… Thanks! 🙂

  5. stephanie710

    Whew. Did I need to read this. I was just saying that my schedule has been a disaster these last two weeks. Thanks for the reminder that hiccups happen when we least invite them. Good stuff. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hics happen! I can’t think of anything more up and down than writing! Glad it helped!

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