Quest for the Missing Muse: Fear

Hans_Thoma_-_Einsamer_Ritt_(1889)knightonhorsebackTo reconnect with my missing Muse and reestablish my writing habit, I charged myself with writing to a daily prompt. I happened to have an ancient (December 2000) edition of Writer’s Digest magazine with 365 prompts. The guidelines are to write about 75 words. I needn’t worry about whether the writing is any good, or if the story will ever be finished much less developed further. The goal simply is to write, every day.

I did write to the prompt yesterday. I got to it late in the day, too late to post. The prompt was to write a scene in which a character confronts a lifelong fear. I penned more than 75 words but I didn’t do this prompt justice. I didn’t describe being fearful. Instead, I wrote about a circumstance that caused fear. Not the same thing, and I’ve bookmarked this prompt to give it another try.

Today’s prompt was to write a scene in which a character confronts a lifelong fear. Here’s part of what turned to be a lengthy but unsatisfying (at least to me) response:

I turned out the light and lay in the darkness, alert for that little thump of a cat leaping onto the bed but it never came. I woke several times in the night and felt around for a small warm furry body to no avail.

After a sleepless night, I inspected the litter box and found it unused. I dragged a little scoop through the gravel hoping that the familiar sound would get their bladders churning.

Their food bowl hadn’t been touched either. I changed out the kibbles hoping that the aroma of fresh food would tempt them but they didn’t budge from their hiding place.

I brewed coffee in the motel’s small pot. Surely the cats would smell it and come out. I had never once sat down to coffee without one or the other of them sticking a nose in my cup to ensure that I wasn’t enjoying something that should be shared. But I drank my coffee alone.

By the third day I was frantic. The storm had moved north leaving my city buried under detritus and without power or running water. Impassable roads littered with sharp debris made it dangerous for vehicles. Residents were forbidden to return. I wondered what a storm now being called the most destructive in US history had done to my house but there was no way to know. News coverage did not include images of my neighborhood.

None of that mattered. I had insurance. Anything I had left behind could be repaired, replaced, or done without.

But the cats couldn’t. They still cowered in that tiny space between the bed’s platform base and the wall.

I knew that cats have sensitive livers. Three days without food or water would trigger an internal collapse that once started couldn’t be stopped.

If I couldn’t find a way to pry them out from behind the bed, get food and water into them, they would die. I would be alone in a motel room in an unfamiliar town with two dead cats, two blameless creatures who depended on me to keep them fed, healthy, and safe. And I had betrayed that trust.

About Dee

"What if?" Those two words all too easily send Devorah Fox spinning into flights of fancy. Best-selling author of “The Redoubt,” voted one of 50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading 2016, and three other books in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam epic historical fantasy series. She also co-authored the contemporary thriller, Naked Came the Sharks, with Jed Donellie. She contributed to Masters of Time: a SciFi/Fantasy Time Travel Anthology and has several Short Reads to her name, including Murder by the Book, A Mystery Mini. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives in The Barefoot Palace on the Texas Gulf Coast with rescued tabby cats ... and a dragon named Inky. Visit the “Dee-Scoveries” blog at
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