Peeps for Leep

Prompt: Leap

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My name is Leep. At school I was called, inevitably, Leep the Creep. It affected me, I can’t pretend it didn’t.

So it was as Leep the Creep that I put on my ski jacket and went out to mug someone for beer money. I drank Budweiser, which I know is terrible beer, but it was cheap and most of the guys at the club drank it. Leep the Sheep. I admit I sometimes do things to be a part of the gang. I’m weak that way. And yeah, I am saving some money for a vacation. That’s why they sometimes call me Cheapo Leepo.

I couldn’t touch my vacation fund, which sat in a Seville orange marmalade jar on my bedside table. It was up to one hundred and seventy-seven dollars. I could have dipped into it for beer money, but I made a vow to save for the camp. This was one vow I meant to keep. Leep keeps. Leep’s deep.

It wasn’t just the paintball, though I longed to play. At the vacation camp they also had wilderness mud rides, down steep slopes, in a Jeep. Leep in a Jeep going Steep. I heard too they had girls at the camp who liked people like me, shy ones who were also pretty interesting. Peeps for Leep.

So I had to get beer money, without spoiling my plans for camp. My future family depended on it. As in, if I didn’t go I wouldn’t meet the girl, the mother of my future children. See, that was really two vows I meant to keep. The one to my future bride too. I’m shy, and pretty interesting, and loyal. Just what the girls at the vacation camp are looking for. Or so I heard.

My gun was on the bedside table beside the marmalade jar with the one hundred and seventy-seven dollars. It was a deterrent, should anyone have the idea of breaking in and stealing it. I would use the gun to prevent them from stealing. Or maybe I wouldn’t use it, but they wouldn’t know that. Peeps needed to think that you couldn’t walk all over Leep, because he has a gun which might be loaded.

So what makes me pretty interesting? A good question. Well, I mug people, just for small amounts of money, or whatever they have on them. Even ten bucks is ok. My most successful mugging earned me almost two hundred dollars. I kind of wasted it. I bought a digital watch and forty bags of pork rinds. They were kind of a guilty pleasure, at the time. Don’t like them much, now. They were on sale so I stocked up. Cheapo Leepo strikes again.

I also write children’s books. One might be published. Anyway they are for children ages three to five. My publisher said I needed to establish a niche. Not really my publisher, but a publisher who gave me some advice, and if they publish the next one, he will be my publisher. The newest one is called The Joy of Toy. Or The Joys of Toys. I put some illustrations with it, but noted that they didn’t have to use my pictures. I’m not a professional artist. This last book was a departure, since it was so generic. Usually my books are more personal, like about people. One was about a boy who wanted a bicycle, that kind of thing.

But that is interesting, right? An author of books?

My job isn’t that interesting, so I wouldn’t mention that right away. Doesn’t pay that well either, which is why I was always looking for ways to earn a bit more cash. But work had a good employees’ club, nothing fancy, but where I hung out with the gang. Some of the guys are married. Their wives come pick them up at six o’clock. One of the guys, Vincent, met his wife at the vacation camp.

It was a black ski jacket that I put on as Leep the Creep, and I put the hood up to perform a mugging. My face would be in shadow. No one has ever identified me, at least I’ve never been caught. I have one of those everyday faces. Nondescript.

People were always taking short cuts, even late at night, so it was easy to find someone walking alone, off the main streets. It was surprising how careless people were, really.

So I walked around for awhile, just getting some fresh air, when I saw this guy walking alone, down a side street full of shops that were closed. He was no bigger than me, and kind of skinny.

I said, “Give me your money. I have a gun.” My usual script.

This guy looked up into my face. I backed away into the shadow, but he saw me, and I saw him. It was Vincent.

He reached into his leather jacket and pulled something out. I was afraid it might be a weapon so put my hand on the gun in my pocket, just in case. It wasn’t a gun or a knife. It was a jar, my jar.

“This all you got?” Vincent asked me.

I shot him in the face. I didn’t want to, but he could have identified me in a court of law.

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Almost Paradise

Prompt: Five Items
A classic question, revisited: what are the five items you must have on a deserted island?

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My desert island is somewhere near Tahiti. Have you been to Tahiti? It is paradise, just saying. Unlike Australia, for example, there are no deadly reptiles or insects. Fish and shellfish are abundant. Tahitian people are among the most generous and gentle I have ever met.

But there will be no other people on this island. So the first item on my list will be a little family of goats. Or sheep. They can provide companionship while also supplying milk and cheese. Have you seen baby goats (kids) and baby sheep (lambs)? Who needs people? Plus, I won’t eat them, unless things become truly desperate, which would probably feel like cannibalism. Can you imagine Tom Hanks eviscerating Wilson to make a pair of gloves? A baby goat is way cuter and warmer than a basketball.

How do Tahitians make flour? I would need to look into this. I believe they grind root vegetables, then mix them with other native-grown ingredients, like coconut. It would be nice to have bread, to go with the cheese and milk, and even better if I didn’t have to use up one of my five allowable items, which I am not doing.

Lemon trees. If I’m eating fish daily, while preventing scurvy, lemons seem ideal. Plus they make good dressing for greens and smell wonderful. But did you know they can also be used to soothe a sore throat, provide potassium in your diet and help reduce the likelihood of high blood pressure and kidney stones? You can also use lemon juice as an insect repellent, an antihistamine, pain-reliever, face cleanser, disinfectant, and mildew eliminator.

I thought of planting some olive trees, since I am a fan of olive oil (and olives) but I think I will rely on coconuts and coconut oil. After all, this particular paradise is not Tuscany.

Next, how do I practically read and write, with no renewable resources? Sadly, I think I will have to limit my reading to, say, a box of books, the titles of which could be the subject of another prompt. As for writing, I would need notebooks, and lots of them, and lots of pencils and erasers. Maybe a box of those too.

While I’m hauling plants from the wreckage, I’ll introduce some hardy grape varieties to my island. It will take a long time to produce a glass of wine, but I’m sure it will be worth the wait, and effort. That makes five items. Santé!

 

  1. Goat family
  2. Lemon trees
  3. Box of books
  4. Box of notebooks
  5. Grape plants

Nona

Prompt: Longing for Gravity
You are on a mission to Mars. Because of the length of of the journey, you will never be able to return to Earth. What about our blue planet will you miss the most?

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Well, it is confirmed. We overshot Mars. Someone miscalculated. Opposition was off and now we have a new destination. Oops.

First medical officer Rosa was crying about it. I felt little sympathy for her, because her tears demonstrated that all her chatter about Jonathan Livingston Seagull and her place in the universe and her oneness with the being that some call God, etc. was bullshit.

Since he was the first navigator, John had no time to ponder and went to work right away with course changes and trajectories. He didn’t like to ponder much, at the best of times.

First engineer Will was close to tears, because he probably knew better than anyone if this old bucket could make it to Beta Omega. Will had legendary eyelashes. As second engineer I had a good idea whether or not the craft could withstand the extra distance, too. Slim chance, I believed, but slim was better than none. I saw the cup half full, in other words, while Will saw it half empty.

As first communications officer, I had the charming task of telling the other four, whom I hadn’t seen in six weeks. Two of them, Chris and Haven, were scheduled to be rotated back to us, while Sara and Ed were going to welcome Rosa and Will. We did this rotation, ostensibly, to prevent the contempt of familiarity.

I went through the tunnel and rang the doorbell. We observed little courtesies like that on this journey. Chris opened the hatch, then reflexively checked his watch. “Hi,” I said. “Rotation is not until another three days.”

“Too bad,” said Chris. “I’m about to murder Ed.”

“I’m about to murder Rosa,” I told him.

Chris got everyone together in the dining room, and I explained the change in plans, relying on technical terms and euphemisms to mask the nuclear-strength emotional bombshell. I was met with a stunned silence. Ed spoke first.

“Beta Omega?” he said. “That’s B-O, not very auspicious.”

“Shut up, Ed,” said Chris. “What is the estimated time frame on this?”

“Two years til landing,” I said.

“Fuck,” said Sara.

“No return,” Haven, mistress of the obvious, said.

Ed, supply and distribution officer, told us fuel, food, water, and oxygen would get us there. We already knew that. We thought about it constantly and checked on it compulsively, no matter what the destination.

Sara, first science officer, looking up from her laptop, told us that Beta Omega was a friendly, and the only one. It would be possible. Just. Good old Sara. Glass half full.

Haven said, “I would like to convene a meeting at 1900 hours to discuss how to handle this.” Haven liked porn. I knew this because I knew what everyone watched, and what everyone read, and what everyone wrote.

“What’s for dinner?” I asked.

“Spaghetti,” said Chris. “My Nona’s recipe.”

We all thought a moment about Nona, and how Chris would never set eyes on her again, nor his father or sisters. Nor Alice, his niece, or Chief, his chocolate lab.

We thought a moment about our families. I thought about the woodpecker, the stupid one that woke me early on weekends by hammering on the metal chimney spout.

Some of us thought about sex. I glanced at Chris. My choice for daddy of the millennia, for the first born on the first world, the inauspiciously named B-O. He had a soft spot for Sara. I might have to do something about that.

The Long Days

Prompt: Pace Oddity
If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why?

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I get up as late as possible, telling myself I will shower after work instead of before work. Makes logical sense.

I complete my assigned tasks. I’m a professional. The day drags, and I become weary of smiling and listening to the same banter, the same jokes, the same complaints and petty politics.

Once back home, a large drink is in order. I don’t feel creative enough to cook, but defrost something instead. We eat in front of TV, with a bottle of wine.

More wine, more TV, then finally, bed, where I dream I am the master of a herd of wild horses.

On the weekend, I sleep later. It’s physically very hard to drag myself out from under the cool white sheets and plump duvet. I meet friends for late lunch. There are jokes and banter, complaints and petty politics. But the pizza is filling. The glass of wine I drink with lunch makes me drowsy, and I nap, dreaming I am a time traveller.

I wake in time to make dinner. We had planned to go see a movie, but I feel a bit tired, so we have steak and salad at home. I’m not very hungry, but have a few more glasses of wine.

Finally it is time for bed. Finally. The day passes so very slowly, it is almost painful. I feel pricks of hurt, and aches in places there should be no aches. But at last, I can turn out the light, and return to my dreams.

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For me, this is partly what depression feels like. The day passes agonizingly slowly because there is no joy in it. There is no connection, only numbness. Yet you have to meet and speak to people as if everything is perfectly fine; you have to perform everyday tasks as if they matter. There is only one real and meaningful thought: This will soon be over.

Some depression is triggered by an outside event. Sometimes, it is nothing but an inexplicable shift in your feelings of self and of others. People who are depressed can’t help it.

If you have such feelings, please speak to your doctor. There is relief for depression, whether it is counselling, medication, or a combination of the two.

If you recognize depression in a friend or family member, realize that pep talks don’t work. They need actual, professional help, and you can encourage them to seek help by pointing out there is no shame in depression, and that there is effective help available.

If the shadows grow too long, and the day passes so slowly that you are desperate to hurry the night, please call an emergency hot line. You can feel better.

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  • Photo: Getty Images.

Love and Oxygen

Prompt: Pat on the Back
Tell someone you’re proud of just how proud you are.

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Why is it when you leave a room, the air goes with you?
Why do I gasp for air until you return?
How do I survive an airless room?
Do I even survive the airless room?
Am I dead?
Or am I in love?
Foolishly?
Because isn’t loving someone who sucks the life out me, foolish?
How do I find my air again?
How will I breathe when you are gone?
Why would you even leave a room, knowing you leave me gasping?
How is this love?
Can we now move to a place where oxygen masks drop down automatically when air leaves the room?
Don’t you think that’s fair?
Are there other ways to prove I love you?
Ones that don’t involve me dying of asphyxiation?