Fairy Tale Ending [Repost]

ice cream sprinkles

We sat on the sunporch, though it was after midnight. They usually didn’t arrive until after two am, but it was impossible to rest, knowing they were coming. So we didn’t rest. We gathered in skimpy clothing, because it was so very hot overnight. The men were bare chested, shiny with sweat and the women wore tank tops glued by the heat to their bodies.

We played Yahtzee. It was the only game that did not incite physical fights. It was the perfect blend of luck and skill… you could not justifiably kill a person because of the random numbers on the dice.

The children ate ice cream in the kitchen. We didn’t force them to bed at the children’s time because it could be their last hour, too. They had sprinkles to put on their ice cream, if they wanted, and chocolate milk. It would be their best last night, if that’s the way it turned out.

I went to the doorway and looked out at the night. It was so beautiful it made me miss a heartbeat; deep, intense and fragrant, with moonlight shining through the lush and tiny leaves of the trees, shimmering like light upon the water.

My parents and grandparents were dead. It was pointless to lay blame with them. They thought everything would work out. They had the optimism of deniers. They chose not to see what covered them like a blanket. They chose to be blind. They dreamed of a lush and welcoming world for their children, and lived on faith.

They were criminally wrong.

When the things came, a little earlier than 2 am, the screens held for a long time. They had no evil intent; they were trying to survive, just as we were.

It was breathlessly frightening, listening to them trying to breach the screens. At those moments I thought of my parents and grandparents who could have laid out a different path for us. They knew about beauty and caring and value and wisdom, but not about survival, not about reality.

I want to say they were misled, or lied to, or simply not aware.

But they knew. And now our children put sprinkles on their ice cream, before they died.


  • Original prompt: Screen, March 6, 2016

 

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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.

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.

Spring Training

Prompt: Abrupt


Dear Wednesday,

An acquaintance of mine has textus abruptus, an infliction that many people suffer from—perhaps you know a few?

The symptoms: A normally sweet, gentle, polite person comes off sounding hostile and abruptly dismissive when ever he or she types an email or text. You might text them excitedly inviting them to your spring garden party (if you hold such events) and the textus abruptus victim might respond:

As if. Next?

So you call a neutral sibling or friend and complain about the rudeness. Then you discuss how this person is lacking in basic email subtlety skills and etiquette, and what can be done? An intervention consisting of 15 of their closest email and text pals? No, you decide to take the honestly bewildered route:

Hey, did you have to be so rude when you said no? Are you mad or something?

The TA victim then withdraws— nay, shrinks— from his Hyde-like demeanour and apologizes for the impolite tone of the message, and reminds you they are dangerously allergic to pollen and a spring garden party is out of the question if they are to remain alive and healthy. But thanks for asking! I love you!

The cause of textus abrputus is unknown, but could possible be the result of a pleasant personality who naively believes it is impossible for them, with all their cheery good intentions, to offend. Which is why we call interventions or respond in a confused and concerned way, instead of deleting them from our contacts forever.

Completely unrelated to todays prompt, “abrupt”, is the following collection of a few of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon long walks

cartoon man and children

cartoon spring training


Peace, love, and patience,

~~FP

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

Nonetheless…

Prompt: Dim


Hello Wednesday,

My sixth grade English teacher, Miss Connor, once told me I was a dim bulb. I was shocked, although not entirely certain what it meant.

I grew up so sheltered that almost every insult hurled at me as a child is embedded in my brain. Because there just aren’t that many to remember.

I sometimes pushed my mother to the end of her patience, and she said a few unkind things, which are branded on my internal skin as permanently as a cattle brand. They hurt. And yes, as I say, I grew up in a loving home, with mostly non-psychotic relatives or teachers or friends, so I did and still do feel whole, healthy, and secure.

Imagine a neglected or abused child. Imagine them long enough to go right now, maybe to a site like Charity Navigator to pick out an international children’s advocacy group to donate to, or maybe consider chipping in to Big Brothers or Big Sisters, or other local groups.

I’ve heard that one, one kind word, or moment of kind attention to an otherwise invisibly neglected child can change their life for the better, and I believe it.

Well now this post took an unexpected turn. Let’s get back to the daily prompt, dim, which is related to the first of today’s favourite cartoons, but in no way related to the others…

cartoon dim lighting

cartoon toe tapper

cartoon clown pres


For the record, Miss Connor didn’t even know what a gremlin was, insisting it was only a brand of car and not a creature when I wrote about one for an assignment. So who’s the dim bulb?

Bye-bye February!

~~FP