Slow Motion [Repost]

Prompt: Frantic

Carton of eggs. one dozen

He was in the supermarket when it happened. It was early in the morning, and the market had just opened its doors. He only needed bread and eggs, which he could store in the fridge at work until the end of his shift. He wanted to get home right away after work and make things right. He waved to Mrs Smithers, his neighbour, who was cheerfully pushing a trolley filled with toilet tissue. Only yesterday she had brought him a jar of her apricot jelly. It was usually just a little too sweet, he thought, but it was such a kind gesture.

First, he noticed a rumbling, as if a subway train was running underground directly beneath him; but there was no train, no subway. The structure– the floors and walls– then actually quivered, violently, and Damien lost his footing. Someone screamed. It sounded like the young cashier, Denise.

The floor was liquid beneath his feet. Cereals, cans of fruit, cases of soft drinks flew off the shelves: they flew as if there was no gravity, careening across aisles and thudding into the store manager, who was trying to run outside. Lights and generators shut off.

He frantically reached for his phone. There was a loud crash and then Mrs Smithers smashed into him, knocking the phone out of his hand. She had blood running out of her nose.

In slow motion he crawled on his hands and knees, as plaster and chunks of wallboard rained upon his shoulders. Something sharp lodged in the back of his neck. He felt the wetness on his back, but no pain.

Somehow he reached the phone and punched in the number.

He smelled smoke, heard someone praying, and the roof over the produce section collapsed, trapping a man and his teenage son, who only a few minutes ago had been arguing; something to do with a car.

He couldn’t see anything any more, and felt suddenly, terribly, weak, but he got through! He heard the voice on the other end of the line. “I love you,” he said, as loudly as he could, and then collapsed into the broken glass and rubble.

Disaster averted.


  • Image by Corbis
  • Original Prompt: Disaster, April 16,2016
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Intelligent Life

Prompt: Quartet


Hello Wednesday,

Yesterday the people at the emergency flood company removed a quartet of huge fans from our basement, where two separate leaks had caused several inches of water to gather on every square inch of floor except where the sump pump is.

The fans did not create white noise that helped lull us to sleep at night. No, it was a constant, 24/7 roar over almost two weeks that started to drive me a little batty, to be honest.

Now there is one dehumidifier humming away down there, and draining pints of water into the main floor bathroom sink.

I will never, ever take blessed silence for granted again.

Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…

Apropos of nothing in particular, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon intelligent life

cartoon man annoying

cartoon good dog


Stay dry!

~~FP

Faceless

Prompt: Faceless

woman butterfly

I had  a rather dreary tale of anonymity and pain planned for today’s post, but in my travels for a suitable image I came across the work of British artist Amy Judd.

woman rose face

I love such deceptively simple yet expressive work, that digs deeply into the artist’s psyche as well as into the psyche of human myth and culture.

woman bird face 2

The images are both beautiful and chilling. What do you think?


More info and images by Amy Judd.

Invisible

Prompt: Invisible


Dear Wednesday,

Have you ever wished you could become invisible at will? I certainly have, especially when I was a child, when I was under the impression that the world revolved about my precious self and that every conversation I wasn’t privy to had me as the main topic.

This really wasn’t vanity— I think I just desperately needed some validation. I always felt different, or separate, or like an outlier. I was horribly afraid of being seen (since I didn’t feel “normal”), but equally horrified at the thought of being unseen and unheard. Is it at all common for children feel like this?

Now my thoughts are more mundane. I’d like to be invisible and sit in the back seat of the flooring guys’ truck and see if I’m getting a fair installation estimate or if I’m getting ripped off. Sigh.

Related to the theme of Invisible Man, here are a few of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon emperor invisible

cartoon bizarro

cartoon dating invisible man


Peace and sanity,

~~FP

Sense of Humour

Prompt: Blush

rolodex vintage

Latoya Unger called former mayor Marvin Haye at 5:45 am, because the kitchen faucet wouldn’t turn off, the drain was clogged, and she was afraid of flooding the house.

Marvin sighed. She hadn’t disturbed his sleep; he’d been restless and was standing at the door to his bedroom closet, separating his shirts into two piles.

“When can you come over?” Latoya asked.

“Even if it were a civic issue,” Marvin said, “I’m no longer mayor.”

“And if I was calling as a friend?”

“Who did you vote for, Miss Unger?”

There was pause enough for Marvin to realize Latoya Unger was probably blushing in some small demonstration of shame. “I’ll call Bill,” he told her, and quietly hung up the phone.

He checked his Rolodex for Bill’s Plumbing, Heating, Jams and Jellies. William Blatt, besides being a town counsellor and plumber, had a small orchard on his property and liked to make preserves.

“Pipes or jelly!” Bill answered cheerfully. “Sweet or savoury!”

“Latoya Unger’s pipes again, Bill, could you go over as soon as you can?”

“Oh damn, can’t you go?”

“I’m not mayor,” said Marvin.

“Of course you are,” said Bill. “It’s just a joke.”

“It’s not funny,” said Marvin. “It wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of my combover, either.”

“But you stopped doing it!”

Marvin ran his palm over his neatly trimmed pate. “And it wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of me for wearing a belt and suspenders,” he said.

“Well you don’t need both,” said Bill.

“It wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of my Rolodex.”

“Where did you even find that?”

“And it wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of me for wearing a Hawaiian shirt on a Tuesday.”

“It wasn’t the Tuesday,” said Bill. “It was the shirt.”

Marvin was staring at the shirt now, wondering which pile to put it in. It was turquoise with a pattern of streaming green seaweed. On the pockets were female figures presumably dancing the hula, and there was actual fabric fringe from their grass skirts. He’d paid over forty dollars for it, second hand.

Its original owner had been reluctant to part with it, and Marvin suspected a wife had laid down the law. Marvin’s wife was gone, and the shirt had spoken to him just as it had with its doe-eyed owner. But now the magic was gone. He cradled the telephone receiver between his neck and shoulder, took the shirt off its hanger, folded it carefully, and placed it in the Goodwill pile.

“I’m leaving,” said Marvin. “Packing up and going to Richmond to stay with my daughter.”

“You have work to do as mayor!” said Bill.

“I’m not mayor,” said Marvin again. “I did not get the majority of votes. I was there for the final tally last night. Congratulations on your reelection to council, by the way. I guess the people have spoken. They chose a mixed breed dog to be mayor of Bartlett instead of the incumbent. Hope you enjoy it.”

“For heaven’s sake, Marvin, where’s your sense of humour?”

Marvin was looking at a raspberry red golf shirt emblazoned with the crest of Foothill Golf Center Mayors’ Tournament. Sacramento, California had hosted a conference for mayors which Marvin had attended at town expense, and where he’d played in a foursome with the mayors of Billings, Montana, Hanover, Michigan, and Red Deer, Alberta. He also learned quite a bit about private police forces, universal wi-fi pros and cons, and how to tax environment-negative businesses. He still called and chatted with the mayor of Red Deer, who’d been so sympathetic when Helen died.

He folded the shirt carefully and put it in the “keep” pile.

“Marvin?”

“Can you drop off some of your sweet pepper-plum jelly? My daughter loves it,” said Marvin. “Because I’m going to Richmond, Latoya Unger has a clogged pipe, I’m not mayor, Gloria is your mayor, I hope everyone had a good laugh, and I’m wearing a belt and suspenders at the same time, right now.”

He hung up the phone ever so quietly, and finished sorting and packing. He was not wearing both a belt and suspenders. That was a joke.



—>Gloria, a story by Fluffy Pool.

 

The Adventures of Chai: The Handcuffs

Prompt: Incubate

audrey in sunglasses

“Let’s not tell mom about the handcuffs, ok?” said Chai.

Flax responded with a deeply blank stare, an odd countenance for such a young child. Perhaps, Chai thought, he was “processing” and had no energy left for facial expression. Flax was more about doing than thinking, but maybe there was a speck of growing up incubating in that tiny, terrifying boy bundle.

But would he tell mom about the handcuffs?

Her mother had been furious about the leash. No matter how much Chai explained that it had saved her brother from being hit by a car, her mother was adamant that it was unholy to put a young human being on a leash, just because he was active.

“—and unpredictable and strong and it was a harness not a leash,” Chai said.

“No,” said her mother. “Get a good grip on his hand, like a normal person.”

His sticky, gooey, gobby little hand, which slid out of hers whenever he saw something distracting, the same way a dog darted for a squirrel. Sometimes he yanked his hand away just so he could run two blocks ahead of her. She had books to carry, homework and all kinds of shit; how was she supposed to run after an almost four-year old future gold medal sprinter?

No leash, and Flax would surely end up flattened by a bus.

So Chai toured the Dollar Store, which had jumbles of unrelated merchandise on every shelf and in every corner, for ideas. By the time she reached the toy handcuffs, she had a fabric sunflower, a bottle of blue nail polish, a starfish-emblazoned mug, and a mammoth bag of caramel corn in her basket.

The handcuffs were plastic and not strong enough to contain the likes of Flax, as she found out when she flexed them and they came apart. She buried the broken pair under a stack of water pistols. Should stores even sell toy handcuffs and guns?

An hour later Chai was hovering outside the Sexxe Shoppe, wearing a scarf and a pair of her mother’s sunglasses, hoping to pass for eighteen.

The handcuffs were on a display shelf, covered in a hard plastic shell mounted on cardboard, but they looked like they were made of metal, and strong. The key had a heart-shaped handle, lest the set be mistaken for something other than intimate pleasure.

The following afternoon, she picked up Flax as usual at the daycare, and as soon as they were out the door she snapped on the polished silver handcuffs, making the two of them temporarily inseparable. Conveniently, the cuff size was completely adjustable, and the little terror was unable to slip out of them.

He was not happy, but he was never happy to be held back, even by Chai’s innocent hand.

The handcuffs were not as convenient as the leash, because she only had one hand free, but somehow she managed to get them both home safely and without incident.

The key. She’d put it in her jacket pocket. Hadn’t she?

“Just a minute, Flax!” He stopped the pulling and yanking for the duration of the blink of an eye, then leaned, suspended and squirming, away from her. With difficulty she patted down her jacket pockets, then rummaged through her bag and then scrunched up the lining of her jacket in case the key had fallen through, but there was no joyfully wanton, heart-shaped silver key to be found.

She pulled Flax back to her and checked his pockets and clothing carefully.

Fuck!

Her mother would be back briefly after work, then would dash out for her evening accounting course (hoping to get a federal job, and all that) but how could Chai manage to conceal the handcuffs from her until she could find the key?

Neither she nor Flax could get their jackets off, so Chai scribbled a note and left it on the counter: Gone to Jude’s, took Flax, see you tonite.

She somehow got Flax a snack and into the bathroom for an awkward pee, then she dragged the poor lad to the park around the corner, where they waited on a bench behind a tree until her mother’s car glided slowly by in the direction of the house, then, a few minutes later, slowly glided past again.

Chai (and Flax) retraced their steps all the way back to the daycare, then diligently searched the sidewalk and porch at the house, then every inch of the house. She found the earring she’d lost back when she had her ears pierced, and a dollar bill that was no longer in circulation, and a birthday card from last year that had fallen behind the sideboard, but she did not find a key.

It was about half past eight when Chai heard her mother slam the front door and throw her keys onto the hallway table.

“If you want to watch the end of this, don’t say a word,” she whispered sharply to Flax. They sat side by side on the couch in front of the TV, the lights dimmed, with a big bowl of caramel popcorn between them. Cars 2 was the feature film on Netflix, and held Flax’s full attention even though he’d seen it at least twice before.

Her mother paused in the doorway. “Hi chickens. What’s Flax doing up so late? Flax—“

“We’ll just watch the end of Cars, mom. It’s not a school night. I’ll get him to bed.” Chai knew her mother was dead tired. Her night classes were Thursday and Friday, along with full time teaching at Frontenac Elementary School, and she tended to sleep through most of the weekend.

Flax stuffed a handful of caramel corn into his little maw with his free hand. Their mother came up behind them, kissed the top of his head, and bid them good night.

Ok, it was a troublesome night. They slept in Chai’s bed because it was bigger, and while Flax slept soundly, he also thrashed around, farted, and hogged the covers.

And they had to get up well before their mother, whose alarm would go at ten a.m.

Chai was frantic. She thought of dragging her brother to the Sexxe Shoppe and begging for a second key, but she was pretty sure he wouldn’t be allowed onto the premises, and anyway some of the devices on display might confuse or even traumatize the little boy. She knew she’d been confused, and was a bit shaky on the traumatization. A little research would be in order when all this was sorted out, if it ever was.

Might the hardware store have a device wherewith they cut through metal as a service to their customers? How often would teenage girls come in needing liberation from handcuffs?

In desperation she called the Sexxe Shoppe on the phone, and spoke to a cheerful someone named Mandy, who sounded Chai’s age.

“Um,” said Chai.

“Honey, I’ve heard it all,” said Mandy. “What can I do ya for?”

“I lost the key to the Luxe Handkuffs. I can’t find it anywhere and I—“

“Honey, did you not press that little latch near the chain?”

“The what?”

“A safety feature, in case one or the other— well, never mind. Just find that little lever… do you see it, honey?”

“Who’re you talking to?” her mother asked as she wandered into the kitchen, clad in a purple kimono.

Flax, newly freed, bounded out of the kitchen and into the back yard, where he started digging a hole and filling it with rocks, fallen leaves, and litter.

“No one,” said Chai. “I made some tea.”

Casually, Chai pulled her jacket around her and joined Flax in the garden.

“Flax,” she said, “let’s not tell mom about the handcuffs, ok?”

The Cave-Dweller [Repost]

Prompt: Provoke

Tropical-Vacation 2

Miss Fisher was giggling. A guard, passing her cell, paused and sighed. They often giggled. They did all kinds of strange things when in solitary. Some people said it was inhumane. The guard, personally, had seen enough to make him agree with that assessment. Some of the inmates never seemed to recover from even short stays in solitary confinement. Others simply did not survive it. They had to be shipped out.

And someone like Miss Fisher? The guard shook his head. She was elderly, frail, quiet. He had been in her class for half a semester, grade four. He remembered her as strict, but kind and encouraging. She’s the one who diagnosed his dyslexia, and saved him from a lot of problems down the road. A good teacher, was Miss Fisher.

Sure, she murdered some people. Inmates weren’t at McKinnon for their health. But –as the joke went– she wouldn’t be around long enough to serve her life sentence, so why not cut her some slack?

He wasn’t sure exactly why she had been tossed in the cave, something to do with an incident in the cafeteria; no doubt something violent. People never took into consideration that violent people were often provoked. He’d seen it happen many times, it was not unusual at all.

He himself had been provoked many times. That’s what happened, they told him, when you marry a pretty girl. He was no better than half the females in this institution. Just luckier, that’s all. You know, like his friends held him back from a fight, or authorities smoothed things over. It was a small community. There but for the grace of God, and all that.

He would put a banana on Miss Fisher’s tray tonight. Strictly forbidden, but it’s not as if anyone was watching…

Miss Fisher stretched out on her bunk. It was narrow and the mattress was thin and hard, worse than the one in 177D, and the blanket scratched and wasn’t warm enough.

Still, it was fantastic to be alone. She was good at shutting out the noises around her, so after the first night, the crying and shouting that disturbed all the other cave-dwellers were not an issue for Miss Fisher. She could gather her thoughts, run some personal home movies in her head, enjoy her solitude, revel in being away from the crush of people who were always around, and be refreshed and ready when she returned to reg in a week. She giggled. They thought this was punishment. It was a fucking vacation.


  • Original Prompt: Solitude , April 28, 2016