The Garden

Prompt: Recreate

swing in park

“And what were you doing before you started running away?”

“I was on a swing, in the park beside the school,” said Folly.

“Where is the school?”

“Down past that traffic light,” she said.

I accelerated and we lurched forward on the little Yamaha TW we’d found leaning up against someone’s garage door. I wanted to get around quickly for this “game”, not lumber through town from inside a closed vehicle.

Every red light still triggered a stop impulse, but this time I didn’t even slow down. Folly was clinging to me tightly, her hands bunching the front of my down vest.

I saw the swings, and the small adventure playground, the soccer goalposts, and the tiny basketball court, all neatly laid out beside a sprawling one-story elementary school.

“I sat in that swing,” said Folly. “There was a puddle on the ground under it, and my feet got wet.”

“And before that?” I learned that Folly was more comfortable answering questions when we were not face to face. We slowed to a stop and but she did not release her grip on me. I could feel her cheek pressed against my back.

“I— “

“Folly, think now.”

“Everyone died,” she said. “I ran home! And they were dead, too.”

“Where? Which way is home?” This was as far as we’d ever gotten, and I felt it was our last chance to find Folly’s house and get her memories back.

She had the bad memories. The inside of her head was a once a safe garden, but the garden was now overgrown with thorns and weeds and their alien blooms, choking out the lilac and brilliant pinks of the hydrangea and the lime leaves of the ninebark, twining around her thin legs freezing her in place.

I could feel her trembling, and resisted the urge to comfort her. “Which way, Folly?”

“The lane, go down the lane.”

The lane was surfaced in gravel, which resisted and spit and almost caused me to lose control, but I slowed down and we passed by the leafy green back yards of homes that had once housed Folly’s neighbours and friends. She’d told me her house was yellow, and there was only one yellow house, at the end of the lane, on the corner.

“Go in the back way,” said Folly. We got off the bike and opened the gate, stepping into a tidy green garden with a mature ornamental cherry tree, masses of sumac starting to change color, and a small pup tent set up on the flat lawn.

“This is the way you went to school, and to the park?” I asked her.

She nodded. She was wearing a fleece hoodie that was too big for her and fit more like a dress, and denim leggings with rubber boots. Her hair was uncombed and tangled from the bike ride. She was deathly pale.

The gate had a rusted metal bell on it, that clanged when it was shut, no doubt meant as an alert for Folly’s mother or father. The lawn, once carefully tended grass, was now a ground cover of what looked like thyme.

She didn’t look in the pup tent on her way to the back porch, but I did. Inside was a rumpled tartan blanket and a flashlight.

Large-leafed ivy climbed the exterior walls of the house, drooping down over the doorway, which was probably not there the last time she was here.

It was unlocked. I let Folly lead the way, silent. This was her moment, her most important moment, and she had to face it alone and on her own terms. What could I do? A big stupid teenager who knew nothing of her family, her past, what she’d lost. I knew my own loss and I had some idea of what was churning around in her gut, but comfort could only come later.

The house was smaller than the one I grew up in, with the traditional separate, somewhat small rooms: kitchen, dining room, small formal living room, and a very untidy family room. On the floor and tables were boxed games, like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit, open and the contents scattered about the room. There were towels, too, crumpled on the couch, and a bookcase with a full set of encyclopaedias, something I’d never seen before.

Folly picked up a towel and smelled it. She put it down again.

“I know my name now,” she said.

Advertisements

Kill the Historians

Prompt: Pursue


Hello Wednesday!

The flowers and grasses and leaves and weeds are busting out this month, after a cold April. In winter the only glorious scents were evergreen and wood smoke; now we’re assaulted by the aromas of new green growth, dirt, barbecue, spring flowers, and cut grass.

That said, I sat on the patio and read, dog at my feet, for most of the afternoon, instead of raking and pulling out thistles. Don’t you love it when the air smells soft and clean? The pursuit of happiness is not mentioned in my country’s constitution, but I think happiness is so much easier to attain if you appreciate the truly special things in life. Like a day exactly like today.

Today’s word prompt is “pursue” and the first of my cartoons is tenuously connected to this theme. Still, if you think the cartoons are political, in light of what is going on in American politics, you might be right!

cartoon feline american


cartoon king legacy


cartoon world shareholders


Have a happy and productive spring.

~~FP

Someone

Prompt: Flee

jaguar_e_type_from_1961-rdd88dfd1b4934185aacee1d2d2d695f2_v9wxo_8byvr_700

Plato and I were driving across country. We had nothing else to do, really. Surprisingly, everything pretty much worked still. Electric generators still generated electricity, the Internet was still there— I don’t know how, but it was— and gas pumps still pumped gas. Since my dog Plato and I could do what we pleased, I was behind the wheel of a 1961 E-Type Jaguar convertible, red in colour, speeding down the highway in the direction of a mall I remembered visiting with my now-gone family back when we visited the Grand Canyon.

I remembered the town because we were stuck there for about four and a half hours, as we waited in the heat of mid-day for some kind of car part to be couriered. A fuel pump, maybe. In any case we were side-tracked and explored the town as a pack: My mother and father, my two sisters, and me.

There was a water slide near a huge indoor mall. It was one of the biggest malls in the state. It stood on the edge of a forest— a dense, wild, rather dark expanse of land that I remembered because it was such a contrast to all the concrete and glass, the street lamps and oil stains, the harsh sunlight and noise of the town.

My sister Katy wanted to go hiking in the woods— she was always trying to be contrary— but we all ended up swooshing down the water slide, which was fun because the water was cold, and then going to the mall for hot dogs and Orange Julius, in our damp clothes and wet hair, smelling of chlorine.

That day, in that small town, remains one of my most treasured memories. We all of us were together, truly together, for one of the last times. In the next year my oldest sister Cher would be going away to college, and Katy, bless her, would get pregnant and married and moved out at the age of sixteen. You just never knew what was going to happen.

As Plato and I well knew, since we’d witnessed the end of the world. We tried to look on the bright side: We were going almost 100 miles an hour in a vintage Jag, and Plato loved the rush of air and I put goggles over his eyes and his ears flapped around his head and his tongue was glued by the wind to his jowls. Happy days. Maybe this would be a memory, too.

We camped in the woods behind the mall, in a tent we got from a huge sporting goods outlet in the mall. I made a bonfire, which I learned to do in Boy Scouts, and Plato and I roasted hot dogs and drank gallons of Orange Julius. I told Plato about my sisters, and he listened with his head tilted, as he always did, and just as we were about to crawl into the tent, Plato leapt up and started to bark.

He made a whimpering noise too, and growled some, and then barked again. He didn’t move, as he was well-trained, but he looked at me, barked, whined, and then howled, staring out into the darkness of the forest that surrounded us.

Yes, a shadow moved. It wasn’t the wind, as there was none. It was someone.

Someone!