Chandler’s Folly [Repost]

Prompt: Retrospective

bonfire-column_of_sparks_by_the_emerald_otter

It was my dog Plato that coaxed the shadow out from the depths of a dark, dense army of evergreen trees and into the flickering light of the bonfire.

Plato barked and whined with excitement but his tail also slowly wagged in a grand swishing movement, and I said quietly, “OK.” Plato took a few tentative steps, nose thrust forward, and someone emerged, hand first for the dog to sniff, like a child who’d been taught to do so by a careful parent.

It was a child who stepped forward. Young, with long hair like a girl, but scruffy, thin, and ragged. Plato sniffed, and then licked her hand. She lifted her head and looked at me with a blank, dead expression. It startled and confused me. Where was the curiosity, the relief, the fear— all the emotions I felt?

“He’s gentle,” I said to the girl. “You can pet him if you want.”

She fell to her knees, closed her eyes, and put her arms around Plato. He didn’t like hugs, but only squirmed a little.

“What’s your name?” I asked, as Plato had a quick taste of her cheek with his tongue.

“I don’t know,” she said. She stood again, and took a step backward.

“Would you like a hot dog?” I asked her.

She nodded and I went to the small table I’d set up beside the fire, where there was a cold, roasted hotdog, and some fresh ones that might take a few minutes to heat up. I figured she didn’t want to wait, so I gave her the cold, roasted one. She turned her back and ate it. I guess she ate it quickly and greedily. Someone taught this kid both manners and dog protocol. Who? I buttered a couple of hot dog buns and gave them to her, too.

“Where are you from?”

“I don’t know.”

“How old are you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Have you travelled far?” I asked. “Never mind, don’t answer.”

She slept in the tent with Plato, while I lay by the fire, wrapped up in a sleeping bag set on a thin foam mattress, and watched the stars move across the sky. I thought about how they still moved across the sky, even though life had all but ended on Earth, and about how they must have moved across the sky before the first squiggle of life struggled into being.

The following morning we walked to the mall, where we picked out some jeans and shirts and sweaters,  a coat with a hood (age 9-11 seemed to fit her best), toiletries, a carry-bag, and other necessities, then she cleaned up, and a fresh, clean, nameless child with shiny black hair walked back to the camp with Plato and me. She never spoke unless I asked her a question. So I asked her questions, though she had few answers, and got upset and frustrated. I realized it might take some time. It had taken me and Plato a bit of time to get used to the plague and everyone gone and being alone, too.

“You still can’t remember your name?” I asked.

She hesitated. “Folly.”

“Folly?”

She looked at me in silent despair. “I don’t know. I think so.”

“OK,” I said. “Would you like to come with us to the Grand Canyon?”

And so we all three crammed into the front of the red 1961 E-Type Jaguar convertible, Plato partly in her lap, and hit the open highway again. It wasn’t until we stopped at one of those gas station pantries to use the toilet and pick up some Cheezies and Snapple, that I idly looked at the big map and spotted a little town about seven miles from where we’d camped in the woods behind the big mall. The town was called Chandler’s Folly.

I decided to change our plans. The Grand Canyon wasn’t going anywhere.


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The Right Person

Prompt: Broken


Hello Wednesday,

When I was a child of nine, I broke the big mirror on the bedroom dresser I shared with my sister– a mirror which partly covered a window– when I tried to open that sticky window. It shattered into a thousand pieces and took me and my mother a long time to clean it up.

My mother knew it was an accident and wasn’t angry, though every extra expense was problematic for my family in those days.

I wasn’t worried about the expense or my mother’s reaction. I was nine: I knew for sure that breaking a mirror meant seven years of bad luck. I did the math: my life would be a living hell until I was sixteen.

What happened was that I did think about it for seven more years. I fretted a little. I thought I recognized catastrophes related to the broken mirror. But mostly, I realized that superstitions are stupid AF.

I understand that this is not a brilliantly intelligent revelation, but it was to me as a child. I didn’t have to believe things. I could be critical. I could make up my own mind. After years of avoiding cracks on sidewalks, being repulsed by the thought of walking under a ladder, and touching wood with great solemnity, I was finally free!

Well, I throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it, don’t know which shoulder it should be but I do it anyway. And if it rains, I blame my partner for washing the car.

In the spirit of Wednesday’s prompt, broken, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, only the first of which is related to the theme?

cartoon 10 commandments

cartoon broken refrigerator

cartoon eye contact


See you tomorrow for Throwback Thursday. Have a wonderful week!

~~FP

Surrender [Repost]

Promtp: Guilty

thomsons-gazelle-2

Leep couldn’t believe it. He used the remote to turn up the volume.

He was sitting in his lounger, the comfortable one, with a pad of art paper in his lap, sketching ideas for his latest book, The Fog Monster. It was challenging, trying to illustrate fog, especially since he was not a trained artist. Did he give the fog a face? Did he give it a form? In his head the Fog Monster was unseeable, but children might need a monster they could recognize, a human-style monster that they could understand and relate to. After all, the Fog Monster wasn’t all bad. Leep didn’t want to scare his potential readers to death. But kids should know that life wasn’t all a bed of roses. That wouldn’t help them in later life.

He had the evening news on the television. He liked the news readers: Hal and Denise, and the pretty weather person, and the sports reporter who made all the jokes. He felt almost like he would be comfortable with them, you know, going out to dinner or something. They seemed like they would be easy to talk to.

He only half-paid attention to the broadcast as he contemplated his drawings, his mechanical pencil in hand. But he heard something that made him stop cold, as he was erasing the Fog Monster’s eyebrows, on the grounds that they were a bit too much.

Something terrible had happened. Denise was announcing that a man had been arrested for the murder of Vincent Demarco.

Leep could not feel his heartbeat, nor that he was breathing, nor his toes. He only felt a cold finger of sweat creep up his his spine, as he watched the police spokesperson speak in front of a gathering of news reporters.

He tried to concentrate, to really listen, but it was hard.

We have a suspect in custody, said the spokesperson. He has confessed to the crime. His name is Anthony Gizmodo, of no fixed address.

They showed a picture of him they’d taken after he was arrested. He was unshaven and unkempt, his eyes open a little too wide. Leep leaned in a little closer to the screen. Oh no. It was Tony, the homeless guy he passed every morning on the way to work.

Leep used to drop change, a few coins, in Tony’s hand or his hat as he passed, but he had to admit, Tony wasn’t the friendliest homeless man on the block. But, Leep guessed, he had no reason to be friendly. He was homeless, and neither Leep nor any other person with a home understood what his life was like. He regarded the passers-by, with their homes and lives, with a palpable resentment.

Tony was angry and sad, but he was no killer.

Why had he confessed? Was he coerced? Did he need attention? Was he hungry? Was he crazy? Leep knew only one thing: Tony was innocent of the crime.

He spent the rest of that Friday night, and all of Saturday, trying to figure it out. He was frustrated and confused. But he really knew what he had to do all along, the second he heard about Tony’s arrest.

On Sunday night, after dark, Leep put on his black ski jacket. He got the gun out from its hiding place. He felt numb. Once he’d seen a film of a gazelle, on the National Geographic channel, stare down a leopard. They’d locked eyes, and, Leep thought, reached a cosmic truth. The gazelle had no escape. It surrendered, and was chased down easily by the leopard.

Leep knew he was not the leopard. He was the gazelle.

He pulled up the collar of his jacket, opened the front door, and headed out into the night. There was a light mist, a fog, that lay as light as a baby’s breath on the streets and homes and businesses and pedestrians. By the end of the night, they would know that Tony was innocent.


  • Original Prompt: Fog, April 20, 2016.

No Monster

Prompt: Assumption


Hello Wednesday,

Don’t you hate it when people make assumptions about you based on your gender? As if your dangly or not bits define you as an individual? I know as a woman that many of us are frustrated about it all the time– are you gentlemen also uncomfortable when you are called shallow or unmanly because you don’t live up or down to sexual stereotypes?

We are all a little sexist, but doesn’t take a lot of effort to challenge yourself. Just pause when you make an assumption about whether the doctor or author defaults to being male. Think twice before assuming that all women are natural nurturing caregivers and men are not. Take a breath.

In the spirit of assumptions, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which only is connected to today’s prompt?

cartoon out for lunch

cartoon professor bouncy

cartoon skulls in corner


Just a pile of old skulls. It would comfort me for sure.

~~FP

Thin Pants

Prompt: Thin


Hello Wednesday,

Tonight my sister and I watched a few old “The Launch” episodes. This is a low key but very high quality talent-search kind of program, Canada style. One of the contestants in the seven part series was Amy Bishop, who is not thin.

I am culturally naive; I don’t truly understand the discrimination that so many people experience, including friends, because of skin colour, conventional attractiveness, ethnicity, religion, height, weight or whatever. Amy Bishop feels held back because of her appearance. If she feels it, of course it is true.

As a white, fairly conformist white woman I understand that I know nothing about what others experience in these areas. I need to listen.

On the topic of “thin”, today’s Daily Prompt, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, of which only the first one relates to the theme?

cartoon thin pants

cartoon wine snobcartoon math


~~FP 

The Forest

Prompt: Forest

forest mushroom

Our mother said, don’t touch the walls of the tent. So we all touched the walls of the tent. It was canvas, so water started saturating the little finger spots, droplets formed, and the inside of the tent became wet and cold.

So our mother gave us each a plastic bucket, which we hadn’t been able to use on the sandy beach all week because of the rain, and sent us out to the forest across the road to forage for dinner. No mushrooms though, she said. And: “If you don’t find food, you don’t eat.”

She tied on makeshift rain bonnets though gave up on the boots and we wore rubber thongs and our feet got wet.

The rain in the forest sounded like a waterfall; a continuous ruuuussssh of drips and drops, and the forest floor was muddy and our flip-flops kept sucking into the ground and we walked with great effort, looking for berries. Or maybe a dead rabbit? We weren’t certain what edibles were to be found in the forest.

We came across a man, sleeping on his side under a plastic sheet attached to branches secured into the ground. His hands joined in a fist and nestled between his thighs. He wore dark clothes and sunglasses and had a straggly beard. It occurred to us that he might be dead.

We saw a battered wallet peeking out from under a damp grey pillow, and pulled that out. There was ten dollars in it; we took five and put the wallet back.

Drops fell on our faces and stuck to our eyelashes.

We found some deer scat, which we’d learned about in science class. It didn’t gross us out. We didn’t see any deer, though. Perhaps they were taking shelter from the rain, or perhaps the hunters had taken them all down. My mother once fed us venison pretending it was beef, but we knew it wasn’t beef, and wouldn’t eat it.

There was a clearing ahead where the road curved around the woods, and a small grey stucco building stood in a level gravel lot dotted with tufts of grass and moss. The windows were opaque with condensation, rivulets running down and pooling on the soggy ground beneath the eaves. Letters hammered to the frame over the door said “Store”, so we went in to forage for dinner.

There was a wooden bucket of worms, and a glass jar of brass bullets, and a stack of felt cowboy hats, and a counter behind glass with tubs of ice cream underneath it, and we all had a single scoop cone. We all had chocolate. After we ate the ice cream we examined each others’ faces for traces of chocolate, and cleaned off any smears with damp kleenex.

We had enough money left from the five dollars we stole from the sleeping man to buy two boxes of macaroni and cheese, a bag of liquorice whips, which our mother liked, and a coke.

We put the macaroni and cheese, liquorice whips, and pop into the buckets along with one shiny brass bullet which the store owner gave us for free, because he said he was proud of us for not staying inside just because it was raining.

We started to head back to the tent through the forest, but we saw the sleeping man in the distance through some dripping white spruce. He was awake and packing up the shelter, folding the plastic sheeting into an irregular square and stuffing it into a nylon bag.

The rain had subsided to a drizzle, the spit of god.

So instead of going through the forest, we traced the road skirting around it back to the tent, and mother didn’t ask us where we got the money for the macaroni and cheese. She was pleased with the liquorice and said she would share it with us later.

But she didn’t.

Shape-Shifting [Repost]

Prompt: Rebel

Classic-Cuban-scene.-Image-by-Jaume-Escofet-CC-BY-2.0

I am a living hologram. I’m not sure why, since I don’t remember being hit by a bolt of natural or alien energy, or sustaining any particularly odd insect bites, or hanging around nuclear power plants as a child. I am more commonly called a shape-shifter.

When I went to the mall early this morning, for example, I was Cameron Diaz. Not exactly, since I didn’t want to attract autograph seekers. But malling is unpleasant for me. I don’t like shopping and trying on clothes. I don’t like changing room mirrors. Not as myself. But I like them plenty as Cameron Diaz. Plus, the freckled guy at the smoothie kiosk gets all tongue-tied, which I find endearing and sure, even a little flattering.

Sometimes I like to be invisible, blend into the crowd, if I’m indulging in a guilty pleasure like attending a Wayne Newton concert, or maybe visiting that lesbian porn film house. Then, I am my mother. Not exactly my mother, because I don’t want anyone to think my mother is curious about lesbian porn. But when my mother grew older, and a little bit rounder, and her skin a little bit looser, and her hair a little bit grayer, she became invisible. I wouldn’t have believed her if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Clerks ignoring her queries. People at parties ignoring her because she was no longer young and pretty. Sometimes I go to shops and parties as Cameron Diaz again (because she is a common transformation for me now, it only takes about ten minutes), and repay these people for their unkindnesses. I can’t teach them, so I take revenge. Nothing major, just contempt and rejection.

Job hunting, I am usually Bradley Cooper. Not exactly Bradley Cooper, because sometimes I want to be a little younger, sometimes a little taller, but he seems to have a non-threatening yet competent air about him, which works very reliably. I don’t need to job-hunt very often. I like challenges, and when I am a white man, I do very, very well.

When I find myself turning away from the human race, because the human race isn’t perfect, one of my favourite holograms is Maxine, the golden retriever. I go out prowling, covering five or more miles in a night, sniffing and peeing and visiting nocturnal friends. It is more fun than working out at the gym, that’s for sure. Once in awhile I’ll go to the farm where the family that thinks they own me live, and spend time soaking up their devotion, and rolling in muck.

Occasionally, I forget who I am. That’s when I take a trip to Cuba. I can always find myself again in Cuba.