Good Enough

Prompt: Hidden

chex mix 1

“An engagement ring is hidden somewhere in the apartment,” said Bob. “See if you can find it before everyone arrives.”

Envy put her purse on the counter. “What?” she said.

Bob was hanging their jackets in the closet near the front door. He turned and smiled at her. “Surprised?”

“We never talked about this, not even remotely,” said Envy.

“No, and it’s time we did. Don’t you want to marry me?”

“I never thought about it for a moment,” said Envy.

“So now you are thinking about it.”

“You can do better, you said so on our first date.”

Bob joined her at the black granite topped kitchen island. “I did say that. It was awhile ago and I’m sorry I upset you, I already apologized.”

“But you don’t deny it!”

“You are unlike anyone I’ve ever met. I love you. Please marry me and be my wife.”

At least he’d learned, since they started dating, to not always offer his Radical Honesty unsolicited. That was something, surely. He was, except for his inflexible, uncomfortable bluntness, an impressive package. Handsome, fit, smart, well-read, funny, strange— Envy liked interesting people. But how did this happen?

“What makes you think I want to marry you?” she asked.

“We have fun, the sex is unique, you’ve indicated you care deeply and I’ve just told you how I feel,” said Bob. “You like marriage. You love loving and being loved.” He got two bowls from a cupboard, and bags of chips and nuts from the kitchen pantry. “I think I have some smoked salmon, somewhere…”

“My ex—“

“–lied and cheated and tried to kill you, blah blah, I know,” said Bob.

“Blah blah?”

“You had good times, sometimes.”

Envy considered getting her coat and simply leaving, never mind the impromptu after-dinner party she and Bob had initiated. She watched him overfill the snack bowls. Chex Mix littered the counter and spilled onto the floor.

“Envy, you don’t think you are pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough, or brave enough to be happy and loved. I think you are.”

She had always, always harboured a suspicion that Bob didn’t really, all the time, tell the honest truth, that he was sometimes the opportunist, that he was not averse to a sweet lie that might forward his agenda, though his agenda was never revealed. She felt her distrust wash over over her in a wave.

“Pumpernickel or melba toast to go with the salmon?” Bob asked.

“My parents don’t like you,” said Envy.

“I’m not all that thrilled with them.”

Envy was shaken; she went to the fridge and pulled out the ubiquitous chilled white wine; then to the cupboard above the dishwasher where he kept his stemmed glasses. In one of the glasses, something caught the light.

“I knew it wouldn’t take you long to find it,” said Bob.

It was a wide band of gold with three inlaid rubies.

“I’m against diamond mining,” he said.

“I know,” said Envy. It slipped comfortably onto her ring finger. “If someone else had found it, would you have been engaged to them?”

“I guess so,” said Bob. “Unless it was that lame-brained brother of yours.”

The phone buzzed, and Bob picked up and listened. “Speak of the devil,” he said to Envy as he pressed the button under the receiver. “They’re here, and so are Stuart and Greg.”

“I don’t know if you truly love me,” said Envy.

“Forget about me,” said Bob. “How do you feel?”

Envy rinsed the glass that held the ring, then filled it with wine. She ate a salted Cheerio and took a long sip. Someone pounded on the apartment door; Cash, probably. He really could be lame-brained sometimes. Bob ignored the noise and waited.

“I don’t know,” said Envy. “But I’m keeping the ring.”

Bob laughed, and opened the door.

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The Nine Steps of Forgiveness

Prompt: Tea


Hello Wednesday,

Tea is always good for you– not only because of anti-oxidant properties, but because of the spiritual calmness that a good cuppa offers in a moment of crisis.

Coffee, meanwhile, is sometimes a miracle elixir, sometimes a perilous toxin, depending on the research and time of day. I love coffee, but it turned me into a morning monster (in all seriousness). When I had to quit caffeine, and when decaf was not considered drinkable, I turned to tea.

How dull, how boring, how English. However, people no longer had to give me a wide berth in the morning (they were, again in all seriousness, afraid of me before my first cup of coffee), and I’ve grown to like green and white teas. Sure, they taste like leaves and grass, and are anemic in colour. One gets used to that, for the sake of good health and community commitment.

May I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is tangentially related to today’s word prompt, Tea?

herbal tea party


cartoon dog in car


cartoon pig ribs


It’s time to fire up the barbecue. Sorry, little pig.

~~FP

Test Drive

Prompt: Fragrance

Terracotta Army figure

The inside of the car smelled like wax. That’s because the heater was broken and constantly blasting hot air, no matter what the outside temperature, which on that day in May was about 15 degrees celsius. So they drove through the flatlands with the windows down, trying their best to direct the vents away from skin surfaces, smelling the melted wax from the intricate and expensive souvenir candles hand-carved in the shape of six soldiers from the Terracotta Army of Xian, which Cash had purchased as gifts for his parents. They were now puddles of fragrant wax on the back seat of the car.

His guide and translator, Su, was fluent in English and was telling him a little about the history of the region through which they were traveling, but Cash was so warm that he drifted off to sleep, his head lolling against the seat back, and he started to dream that he was a bird flying high above the plains, with a massive wingspan, so huge it cast giant shadows on the land below, and then on the towns and then the cities, where towers were so high that they brushed his bird belly. He then had to navigate then between the spires and cell towers and flagpoles of a dense, sprawling city, until he suddenly realized he was not in control any more; that someone else was controlling his flight, dodging between dark buildings, like a teenager with a joystick.

“She smells like ra-ain,” sang Leep. He sang the song because he saw the ad. The television commercial was for a Toyota Corolla, so that’s what Leep was test-driving this week. He decided (as if he didn’t make the same decision every week) to drive past Beth’s house on Sandalwood Street, just to see if she was home or maybe catch a glimpse of her working in the front garden. If she saw the car cruising down her street, Beth (or as he called her, in his head, Lizzy) would never know it was him, as on any one weekend he might be test driving a Chevrolet Equinox, or a Ford Mustang, or a Toyota Corolla.

There was no one in the garden, where daffodils clustered all along the front porch, and the curtains were drawn, which was unusual.

Leep had only had his driver’s license for two years, and was not a bad driver, but nor was he very experienced or equipped to handle unexpected road conditions. That’s why when tires of his Corolla hit patch of oil only a block from the dealership, Leep yanked the wheel to the left to avoid colliding with a stop sign, skidded violently, and ended up ramming the stop sign with the passenger side of the car. “It could have been worse,” said Todd, the Toyota salesperson, who was astonishingly indifferent. Leep wished he had the money to buy a car. He would have bought a car from Todd on the spot, if he had.

Cash and Su waited outside the car for the ambulance to arrive, which might take awhile. The motorcyclist who had rammed into the passenger side door, narrowly missing Cash’s abdomen, was standing with them, chatting idly with Su. The driver of the motorcycle was clearly at fault, said Cash to Su, who shrugged her shoulders. “Perhaps we stalled too long at the intersection,” she said.

“We didn’t,” said Cash. “He clearly saw us making the turn and didn’t slow down at all. In fact, he might have accelerated. Why did you call an ambulance? He looks fine to me.”  Su didn’t respond, and he felt a flush of anger and frustration. The motorcyclist, meanwhile, took a sip of something from a metal flask, then offered it to Cash. Cash shook his head impatiently. The flask was not offered to Su.

After the motorcyclist disappeared in the ambulance and the police had arrived and taken names and measurements, Cash and Su were allowed to continue their journey. He had to climb into the car from the driver’s side, since the passenger door was mangled and dented shut. It was uncomfortable, but still roomier than the back seat, where the puddle of wax had fallen to the floor.

The hot air blasted through the vents, and the wind blew in through the open windows, tossing Su’s hair in all directions and irritating Cash’s contact lenses.

“It smells like rain,” said Su.

Chimney Pines

Prompt: Dormant

field of daisies

Welcome to Chimney Pines.

To keep our community verdant, clean, and enjoyable for all, please observe the following regulations:

  1. No smoking in public areas or near doorways.
  2. Sidewalks must be cleared of snow, leaves, dirt, sand, and footprints at all times.
  3. No trees above 7’ in height. No fruit trees. Positively no evergreen trees of any kind, as they shed needles and attract vermin.
  4. No flags containing colors other than red, white, and/or blue.
  5. No flagpoles.
  6. Community board members are elected. Please contact the community office in person for information regarding nominations, campaigning, campaign funding, debate schedules, signage (not permitted), and legal matters. Legal advice is provided without prejudice and is not binding.
  7. Community board members must be over eighteen (18) years of age, and under ninety-five (95) years of age, except with a doctor’s note.
  8. No open fires, indoors or out. No gas fires.
  9. No brick siding, protuberances, or outbuildings.
  10. External door jambs must conform to community standards. Color information and color wheels available at the community office during office hours, 10 am – 3:30 pm. Paint available from Fred Armor’s Building Supplies, on the corner of Maple and Signature Streets, approximately six blocks from the community gates.
  11. No potluck dinners in the community hall, as we are not insured for food-related deaths.
  12. No patterned window coverings.
  13. No bird feeders, as they attract squirrels.
  14. Pets permitted on a case by case basis.
  15. No dogs.
  16. No cats.
  17. No birds.
  18. No rodents or rodent-like animals, or animals the size or texture of rodents.
  19. No bouncy castles.
  20. Fences must conform to community standards. Plans and photographs are available at the community office during office hours. All fence-related products should be purchased at Fred Armor’s Building Supplies, or contact Fred Armor in Unit 2.
  21. No daisies of any kind permitted in view from streets, sidewalks, or helicopters.
  22. No overt displays of affection, including kissing, amorous hand-holding, hugging excessively, sexual intercourse, or licking. Bare feet are permitted during summer hours— seasonal information pamphlet available at the community office.
  23. No formal hats after April 2, even if it falls on a Friday. Straw sunhats and some baseball caps are allowed— seasonal hat information available at the community office except during lunch time hours.
  24. No quoting from political or religious sources, unless complete context is clearly presented.
  25. Ice cream trucks must register at the community office, and may be required to obtain a community work permit. Cash only.
  26. No sirens.
  27. No bulbs or any plantings that require dormancy.
  28. Swimming in the pool is permitted. Pool maintenance is ongoing and may cause temporary pool closure. Please do not contact the community office about pool closures.
  29. No running, spitting, hitting, horseplay, loud noises, or confusing facial expressions at the pool, or anywhere.
  30. No student drivers, learners, or neophytes of any kind permitted on community property.
  31. Only male service animals are allowed on the premises.
  32. Cheese products are not necessarily real cheese, and may not contain dairy products. For information about real cheese, send a written request to the community office.
  33. Logical fallacies are frowned upon. Apply only when outside of community property.
  34. Grandparents permitted on a case by case basis.

Thanks for choosing Chimney Pines!

–F. Armor, Board Chairman

Seasonal Mushrooms

Prompt: Lollipop

shirly-temple-http-www.spisa_.nudrinkImagesdi_10195_3

Jack wore a toupee that was obviously a toupee. It perched uneasily on the top of his head, the dark brown sides not quite blending in with the lighter brown of his own hair at the temples. The problem was, Benni noticed this on their first date but said nothing; now it was too late to point out that the hairpiece “wasn’t working” the way Jack or God intended.

They both ordered a scallop, lemon and sun-dried tomato entree, but when the server set the plates of food in front of them, it was obvious the sun-dried tomatoes were absent. There was nothing red or reddish in the dish at all. Jack had the grace to mention this to the waiter with great dexterity.

“Well now, Jason is it? Jason this looks delicious, but it seems to be lacking an ingredient that was delectably described in the menu, which is to say, sun-dried tomatoes.”

Jason sighed, audibly. “We’re out of them in the kitchen. I can take it back, look for something resembling a sun-dried tomato, insist that it is one, and you eat a lie; or you can sit back and enjoy the scallops which are just fine without the sun-dried tomatoes.”

Benni said, “I would like the dish as described, and if that is not available I will have the Steak with Seasonal Mushrooms, medium rare, thank you, Jason.”

A louder sigh than the first one ensued. Jason begrudgingly swept up the two plates and left silently, rolling his eyes.

“What a dickhead,” said Benni. She wore a new dress, black and white, the pattern of which inadvertently made her look like a French maid. Benni noticed this had a slimming effect, but Jack’s first impression was that she was in costume. He said nothing except that she looked very nice, which she really did.

“I’m guessing they are out of Seasonal Mushrooms,” said Jack.

“I trust your intuition. There was a taco truck on the other side of the parking lot…?”

As they crossed the tarmac to Tio’s Tacos’ (sic) Benni was rooting around in her black leather bag for some cash, since Jack confessed that he had none in his wallet, they heard footsteps and shouting from the back entrance to the restaurant.

“Hey you mo-fuckers!” It was the unmistakeable voice of Jason. He was waving a small slip of paper as he made what appeared to be a hostile approach. Jason was not a very tall man, but had the broad shoulders and meaty forearms of someone who worked out regularly. In truth, he had a girlfriend who was an employee at the women’s gym, She-Shape, who let him in during off-hours to use the equipment, providing he wiped it down carefully after use, which he usually did.

“Thank you Jason, for coming to say good-bye, and we do apologize for our abrupt departure, yet we are no longer motivated to eat any of the food you serve.”

“See this?” said Jason, as if he hadn’t heard Jack’s heartfelt apology. “This says, four dollars for one Shirley Temple and five-fifty for one rye and coke, seven dollars for one side salad with apples and nine-ninety-nine for the meatball/quinoa skewer, and fifty-two dollars for two Steaks with Seasonal Mushrooms, medium rare.” He put his nose only inches from Jack’s, and then slipped the receipt between them so Jack could clearly read it if he crossed his eyes.

“What are the Seasonal Mushrooms?” Benni asked.

Jason broke eye contact with Jack and stared at the French maid. “They are seasonal, out of a can, because there aren’t any growing, so they are seasonal canned mushrooms, and they are fine, as they are still mushrooms,” he growled.

“We felt the food and service lacked any justification for giving you money,” said Jack.

“Well that’s just too damn bad,” said Jason. He grabbed Benni’s purse out of her hand, found her wallet, and started pulling five and ten dollar bills from the banknote compartment. Benni simultaneously reached for her wallet and the cash, and a brief struggle ensued.

Jack then kicked Jason directly on the back of both knees, causing him to pitch forward, at which time Jack swiftly pivoted so that he could punch him in the forehead.

Instead of indulging in tacos, Jack and Benni quickly decided to get into Jack’s car and leave the parking lot while Jason was sputtering, spitting, and incapacitated.

Jack’s apartment was more professionally decorated than Benni would have expected or imagined. Muted, neutral tones combined with splashes of blinding colour, like a neon lime cushion on the grey sofa, and an original abstract oil painting in dizzying shades of yellow hung on the wall over the fireplace.

The kitchen had a concrete counter top, which Benni loathed despite best intentions. “I don’t like it, either,” said Jack, as he filled a stainless steel pot with water and set it to boil.

They had spaghetti with sardines and chick peas, which was better than it sounded, and sat out on the small balcony with their dessert Fudgsicles and coffee.

Later, Benni saw an ideal moment to bring up the bad toupee. They were having rather rough first-time sex in Jack’s king size bed, and in a moment of passion, Benni grabbed the hair at the back of Jack’s head and vigorously pulled, while gasping, “Oh Jack, oh Jack.”

Jack shouted in pain, and the hair did not come away. They stopped, and chests heaving, stared at one another. “I’m sorry,” said Benni. Jack’s hair was a mess, a strange blend of colours, and his own.

“You are not the first one to do that,” said Jack.


The Easy Way

Prompt: Disastrous


Dear Wednesday,

Dry weather and a sudden, widespread dry lightning storm were mostly responsible for more than 200 forest fires so far this summer in British Columbia, Canada, closing highways and causing roughly 40,000 people to be affected by evacuation orders. Depending on wind direction, most people in the province (and also the people in neighbouring states and provinces) will wake up at one time or another to a smoke-filled sky.

The media likes to headline their stories with phrases like “BC is Burning”.

In light of the dry, brittle kindling that comprise much of the forest floor and cover the hillsides this hot summer, were such devastating fires inevitable?

What if BC’s First Nations revived the art of firekeeping? This was a highly valued and spiritual art, passed down from generation to generation, and generally involved controlled burning to clear out brush and create natural fireguards. The population is far greater now, and the scale of the fires much vaster, so perhaps the time of the firekeepers has passed. But I think we lose so much when we turn our backs on natural wisdom and tradition. What do you think? First Nations Firekeepers.

Meanwhile, if you are a minnow, there are minnow disasters to worry about. May I present a small selection of my favourite seaside-themed cartoons?

cartoon beached minnows


cartoon birds hitchcock


cartoon pelican costco


Have a safe and happy summer!

~~FP

Moxie

Prompt: Moxie

dachshund tan

There once was a doxie named Moxie
Who lived in a town called Biloxi.
He liked to play Yahtzee
While hearing Tchaikovsky
Then read a nice pamphlet by Trotsky.

There was a young doxie named Moxie,
Whose foxy young bitch was called Roxie.
He gave her a necklace,
She threw it in his face—
“I want diamonds, I don’t want Swarovski!”