Apr 02 2018

C #AtoZChallenge Craft #Fiction #SFF

AtoZChallenge Theme 2018 J Lenni Dorner #SpeculativeFiction
26 parts of a Speculative Fiction story by J Lenni Dorner

#AtoZchallenge Letter C on the Blog of author @JLenniDorner

I pull in the garage, turn off my truck, and rest my head for a moment before getting out. The trash cans haven’t been brought in. It’s doubtful that anyone got the mail from the box. My neighbor’s dog has left a “present” at the end of my driveway again. Welcome home, Attie.

Inside I find my youngest, Mercedes, taking up the entire kitchen table and surrounding floor. Is she cutting up vegetables for dinner? Washing the dirty dishes? Doing any chores at all? No. Of course not. I should be glad she’s doing something other than watching videos on the computer. “Dare I ask what this is?”

“Science project. We had to either make a computer model presentation or a craft one. I decided to do the craft one since I don’t have my own laptop.”

I ignore the veiled message about wanting her own electronics. “Uh huh. And when is this masterpiece due?”


Deep breath. I turn around, open the refrigerator, and pull out ingredients for dinner. “The teacher certainly didn’t give you much time.”

“Yeah. I mean, she mentioned it once, one freaking time, like back in the first week of school. But then today was the first time she said it’s due tomorrow.”

“Mmhmm.” I nod as I picture the class calendar with reminders posted on it. I don’t have the fortitude to argue today.

“Mystic said to tell you that you owe her for gas and for these supplies.”

“I see. And where is your sister?”

“Duh. It’s Tuesday. She has group.”

I chop a freshly washed carrot. “Right. Glad she’s going.”

The grief groups had been too much for me. But today, of all days, I’m grateful that she has support. I take my knife to a butternut squash.

“So what is this science project, anyway?”

“A model of the solar system. Is Earth more blue or green? Or maybe brown?”

I mince the garlic cloves. “Astronauts nicknamed our world ‘The Blue Marble.’ Our oceans take up more space than our land.”

“Okay. Phaeton is green. Do they lack oceans?”

“No, it’s mostly swamp, we think.”

I toss the carrots and onion in a pot, letting them soften as they cook.

“Why don’t we know? I mean, it’s the next planet over. How come we haven’t been there?”

The onion gets to me. Just the onion, nothing more. “Many victories earned may please Justice straightaway, unless nothing progresses.”

“What?” Mercedes looks at me like I’ve lost my mind.

“It’s a mnemonic to remember the planet names and order. Mars is our neighbor. Phaeton is beyond that. And because of the way planets orbit, it’s usually on the other side of the sun.”

“Earth is about 93 million miles from our Sun. And Phaeton is about 221 million miles from our Sun. So Phaethon is 314 million miles away?”

“Sure.” I don’t want to explain the math. Tears run down my face. It’s from the onion. It has nothing to do with the mnemonic my son had come up with when he did the same project that Mercedes is doing now.


line break

Do you have a mnemonic to remember the planets of the solar system? (One that probably doesn’t include Phaeton. Ha ha.)

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    • Janet on April 2, 2018 at 9:35 PM

    You know, I was thinking “I don’t remember Phaeton being a planet in our solar system?” I know they decided Pluto (or was it Uranus) wasn’t one either? Guess I don’t have a good way of remembering them.
    Janet has this post to share Blogging From A to Z – 2018 – B is forMy Profile

    1. Pluto keeps going back and forth. LOL.
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  1. Hi j lenni! I love the way you’ve weaved the science project with cooking dinner. Made it so much more interesting. Lovely little ending!
    Denise Covey has this post to share #IWSG post – TICK TOCK, A STITCH IN TIME. C LEE MCKENZIE. WEP.My Profile
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    1. Glad you liked what I did here.
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    • Morgan on April 2, 2018 at 10:58 PM

    I don’t remember using a mnemonic to memorize the planets.
    I loved your story.
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    1. Thanks for the love.
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    • Varad on April 3, 2018 at 4:05 AM

    This was a fantastic episode. It started oh so breezily and ended up giving a lump in my throat.

    I never learned the planets using mnemonics, but for remembering the color codes of resistors during my engineering. It goes BB ROY Great Britain Very Good Wife (BBROYGBVGW) and stands for the colors in this order Black, Brown, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Gray, White.

    C is for Con Artist
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    1. They certainly are handy.
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    • Sandra Taylor on April 3, 2018 at 5:02 AM

    loved the way the story rolled on – I was right there in the kitchen with you both …
    no mnemonic we just learnt the order of planets in a sing song voice .

    1. Ah yes, like the way that the ABCs matches Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep.
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  2. So what happened to the son? Will we find out as part of the story? Nice instalment again.
    Iain Kelly has this post to share C IS FOR CORK, REPUBLIC OF IRELANDMy Profile
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    1. Time will tell. 😉
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    • Juneta on April 3, 2018 at 9:23 AM

    Enjoyed the story. Well done too.
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    1. Thank you.
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  3. When we homeschooled our kids, we had a little song they sang to a familiar tune, but we also had a mnemonic: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.
    Lynda Dietz has this post to share C = Copyediting Makes People HappyMy Profile
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    1. We learnt it as My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nuts (It was Nine Plums before they dropped Pluto.)

      C for Chai
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    2. I heard “eager” instead of “excellent,” but the same otherwise.
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  4. Is Phaeton what we call Pluto?

    C for Chai
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    1. No. It’s between Mars and Jupiter. We have an asteroid belt there, which could have been and perhaps could become a world, or not.
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  5. I feel her frustration and she handles it much better than I would.
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    1. Glad my story gave you feels
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  6. I used the same mnemonic device that Lynda Diets did. Great story, by the way!
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    1. Thanks.
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  7. Love the idea of using this challenge to serialize a story. I’ll be back for more! @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act
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    1. I did it last year as well. Really enjoyed it.
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    • Debs on April 3, 2018 at 4:27 PM

    Oh gosh, that’s heartbreaking.

    A-Zing this year at:
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    1. Thanks for commenting.
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  8. I do, but you’re right – no Phaeton in ours!

    Great story.

    Jayden R. Vincente
    Erotic Fiction Writer
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    1. But there could have been. Maybe. Depending which scientists and scifi writers you ask. LOL.
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  9. The magnetic pull of your story has me orbiting. 🙂

    1. LOL. Love what you did there.
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  10. So, wait: Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun, and Phaeton is 221 million. Wouldn’t Earth be 128 million miles from Earth? Or are the orbits of the two bodies 180 degrees apart? I was awful in physics…
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    1. The exact math of the distance between two moving bodies on orbital paths (which are not perfect circles, and which do not line up precisely) is complex. It’s well beyond the understanding of the child in this story. (And, honestly, it’s WAY beyond the understanding of the main character as well.)

      I included this more for readers who were trying to figure out where I shoved the world. Some people will realize I’m borrowing/ fictionalizing from a scientific theory that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter was or could have become a planet. In this story, it is. Thus the fictional location matches that of our real belt. (Roughly.)
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  11. Great combination of actions, thoughts, and dialog – definitely something I will take inspiration from as I work on my own stories.

    We had a song to remember the planets – and it still has Pluto on it! I wonder what they do now that they’ve added a whole bunch of “planets” with names that are just numbers and letters ….

    • koko on July 27, 2018 at 12:36 PM

    Amazing post so I can stay in this website for reading 🙂

    • adh on July 27, 2018 at 12:38 PM

    Can believe so crative this guy! Nice guy!

    • dah on July 27, 2018 at 12:39 PM

    So creative. So cool. So nice!

    • loool on July 27, 2018 at 1:15 PM

    An interesting article. Trust me!

    • dauk on July 27, 2018 at 1:15 PM

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    • pipo on July 27, 2018 at 1:16 PM

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