No Change Required

No Change Required

Life is a muse: Solo motherhood inspires writer M.M. Anderson's fiction

“Mayday, Mayday, the vessel has sprung a substantial starboard leak!” the frantic captain bellowed into a handheld receiver. “Damage confined to engine room, for now!”

“Thank you for calling ABC Plumbing. Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold for the next available service representative.”

The captain’s patience was worn thin, as thin as the floral nightie she sported beneath her fleece hoodie. “We’ve held on since daybreak!”

“The carpet’s wet! Ma, why is it cold inside?”

“Mommy, you didn’t make breakfast? I’m hungry. It’s freezing.”

“Power’s been extinguished. Icecaps closing in. The crew threatens mutiny! Do you read? Over!” The captain exited her post to assure the crew that help would soon arrive.

“Thank you for calling ABC Plumbing. Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold for the next available service representative.”

“Get dressed, guys. Our ship is sinking. We’ll pick up breakfast on the way to school.” The captain ushered her first and second mates back into their quarters. Her second mate was already in preferred winter weekend uniform: purple sparkly sweatsuit, pink tutu, and cowboy boots. Under the circumstances, it would suffice for a Tuesday.

“We don’t have a ship,” reminded the first mate, who was being trailed by a four-legged watchman the captain had forgotten to release, before she summoned for help, after she was awakened by the sound of gushing water and the zzzzp of shorted-out electricity.

“Sassy pooped in my room! It stinks!” Cowgirl ballerina ran past the captain toward the mess hall in search of paper towels and Fabuloso.

“Thank you for calling ABC Plumbing. Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold for the next available—”

“This is Gus, can I help you?

“I certainly hope so, Gus.” The captain transferred the cordless receiver to her good ear and hurried back to the engine room to better relay the damage. “A water pipe broke, and now we have no power, either.”

“Might not be our problem. Have you called an electrician?” Gus’s tone conveyed little urgency and even less concern.

The captain imagined her ship’s four cannons, make that 10 cannons, pointed at Gus’s plumber mobile. She gave the command to fire. “No. The water pipe blew before the power went out,” she said politely. Cordiality was possible because in her mind’s eye, Gus’s truck smoldered and he’d spilled scalding coffee on his crotch.

“Did you blah, blah, blah, shutoff valve, blah, blah, auger, blah, blah, socket?” Gus asked.

“I understand and speak very little handyman,” the captain replied. “But I flicked the big switch in the gray box and turned off the water outside, in the hole with the plastic top. I used one of those hooked pole-stick thingies.”

“Lady, is it possible I could talk to your husband?”

“Are you a medium?”

“More of an extra large. Why?”

“I mean, can you channel the dead? If not, my husband isn’t available.”

There was a pregnant pause. “He’s working?”

“Gus, I have to drop my kids at day care and go to school.” The captain considered adding something more pithy and morose to her narrative. Instead, she engaged her ship’s 11th cannon. Bull's-eye. “I teach an 8:00 a.m. class today at the college, but I have a break from 9:00 to 11:00. I can run home. Is there any way to get a repairman here during that time?”

“Our service window hours are from 8:00 to noon and 1:00 to 5:00. We don’t do jobs during lunch, and no plumbers are available today. All booked up. You should’ve phoned yesterday if you wanted someone this morning. If it’s really an emergency, I can try and talk you through. Got slip-joint pliers? Blah, blah, blah.”

Twelve years have since passed. I don’t recall the details of how and when the plumbing and electricity were finally fixed, but I do still have on my computer the unfinished tale that was birthed in my brain as my inner muse crafted a Walter Mitty–like diversion to keep stress and angst at bay during the annoying ordeal.

True life is the inspiration for all of my fiction. It’s how I stay sane and smiling (most of the time) as head of household, juggling the roles of mom and dad, author, professor, midnight vomit cleaner, dead-cat burier, and toilet unclogger. I love the stories my life has inspired. If solo motherhood is the price I’ve paid for art, no change required.

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M.M. Anderson is a Solo Mom and sophisticated sophomoric writer who takes readers on a romp deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday otherworldly.

She is presently the Boss at Little Shop of Writers. Her one-woman company hosts business and creative-writing workshops; facilitates free online teaching videos; and publishes books, including Happily Never After Midnight (a collection of short stories) and Werewolf Dreams and Werewolf Love, the first two books in her Seamus Sullivan, Werewolf Cop young-adult series. Learn more about M.M. Anderson and her works on her website,; you can also follow her on Twitter at @LswMmanderson.

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