Pity

Prompt: Savage

fragonard woman with dog

“Pity!” Eleanor called. “Pity! Where are you?” She didn’t know whether to go left or right. “Pity! Where have you gone?”

Pity was about six blocks away. She heard the children’s voices from the Theodore T. Buttz-Montgomery Elementary School. They were on recess, and the squealing from the playground both attracted and frightened Pity, who could not resist moving a little closer.

Poppy Donovan stood on the concrete at the edge of the basketball court, looking out at the Adventure Playground, as they called it, though it was mainly a series of ladders and platforms painted bright blues and yellows. She was a substitute teacher, here today by virtue of Mrs Simmons contracting food poisoning from a chicken taco. Poppy would have liked full time work, but with three children aged three, ten, and seventeen, she had only a few hours a week to spare. She loved teaching, and at her in-home job as a kind of telephone companion, she often found herself dropping interesting facts about history or geography, much to her clients’ confusion.

In ancient Greece the courtesan Neaera, was so beloved by her patrons they organized to buy her freedom. From then on she gained the honorific, “Herself mistress of herself.”

She was a fierce parent to her children, savagely protective, and these children, laughing and running and climbing, were her children for the day. So when she saw Pity, not even half a block away, approaching slowly with her head down, she momentarily froze.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is one of the so-called bully breeds often labeled a pit bull. In fact, “pit bull” isn’t a breed, but a term used to describe the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Height: 1 foot, 5 inches to 1 foot, 7 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 30 to 85 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 16 years

Poppy Donovan approached the Adventure Playground, saying in a steady but firm voice. “Children, move back into the classroom now.”

Young voices rose and squealed and cajoled.

Pity raised her ears, looked up, and caught Poppy’s eye.

Human beings involuntarily give off chemicals called pheromones when they are alarmed. Because a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than ours, most likely a dog can detect those chemicals.

Walk, don’t run,” said Poppy.

Pity saw action, movement, and a tall thin woman staring, and it looked interesting. She picked up her pace to a trot.

Poppy now had a greater distance to get to the door of the school than the distance between her and the dog. She screamed.

Pity barked. She pinned her ears back. She was confused.

Poppy made a run for it, and Pity continued her trot, and then heard Eleanor’s voice getting louder and louder as she ran down the street towards them.

“Pity! Pity, come!”

Eleanor had a leash, and clipped it to Pity’s collar. “Naughty girl,” she said, “running off like that.”

“I’m going to call the police,” Poppy said to Eleanor. “Your vicious dog put my children in danger.”

Pity the pit bull dropped to the ground and rolled over, exposing the breast nubs on her belly. Eleanor gave her a good scratch, for not running away before she could clip on the leash. Then she stood up straight and spoke directly to Poppy.

“Sorry you were scared. Pity is harmless, even when she’s frightened, which is a good thing in a dog. If you want to teach those kids to be frightened by something they don’t understand, instead of learning about it, then you are going about it the right way. C’mon, Pity.”

Poppy watched them skirt the basketball court and cross the parking lot to the sidewalk. They disappeared around a corner.

It only takes a brief look at the history of pit bulls to realize that the dogs are not the problem; the humans who misuse them are. For over a hundred years, holding the owners personally responsible was enough to prevent attacks, and the breed was perceived as very child-friendly. With outreach and education, it may be possible to restore that image and rehabilitate the pit bull’s reputation, restoring an iconic American dog to its rightful place among mankind’s best friends.


T-bob

Prompt: Illusion

bob hair style-Edit

When ear noodles, which required a 3D-space around and above the helix, became all the fashion, young girls started “stacking” or elongating the ear stem gradually, using string or thread. Because they wanted to hide this dangerous, somewhat deforming practice from parents and teachers, the T-bob became popular, and not just among the ear-stackers.

This presented Mimosa with an ethical problem. She was raised in a strict, Platonic (in the modern, 22nd century sense of the word, not the classical) household, where she learned rules and laws were made out of love, and disobedience caused heartbreak to those in power. She remembered the agonizing, aching remorse when her father concealed his etching income from the government. She remembered the tears of her parents when she refused to tell them what Grandpa said. Yes, she was to be obedient to Grandpa too, but her first allegiance was to her parents. Well, her second allegiance, really.

In any case, the fourteen-year old girl who sat staring at herself in the wall to wall mirror, her back to Mimosa, her hair long, thick, and curly, said, “A T-bob, please.” Mimosa ran her fingers through the girl’s hair. It was softer than it looked. She brushed it away from her face. There was a bandage around the left ear stem.

Not meaning to speak, Mimosa still said, “Oh dear.”

The girl, whose name was Lucy, looked sharply at Mimosa. She saw a short, pale, rather pudgy woman in her early twenties, who, like many hairdressers, had over-processed hair which desperately needed a trim; in this case, ash blonde in colour.

“I have to ask,” said Mimosa. “Do your parents know you are stacking?”

Lucy lowered her head, and Mimosa did not see the eye-roll. “Yes she does,” said Lucy, looking up again. “She says it’s up to me. When she was my age she got a blood tattoo, you know, right?” Mimosa hoped that tattoo was not readily visible. People wouldn’t hire you, not even for a grade C job, if you had a blood tattoo. The Plato Group had banned them, out of love and concern for the physical and mental health of the people.

“Well, this is permanent too,” Mimosa said, trying to avoid the tone and cadence of her mother’s voice, but failing. She heard her mother speak, as clearly as if she was inhabiting Mimosa’s body. “And Plato doesn’t want you to do it.”

Lucy said something about Plato that Mimosa stridently refused to hear, lest she had to report the girl. Then silence.

“Will you report me?” Lucy said suddenly. She looked around, she looked above the entrance door, where the recorders were usually placed. No one tried to hide them: What would be the point?

She looked at Mimosa, behind her, in the mirror. Even from a few feet away, Mimosa could see chocolate-coloured flecks in Lucy’s hazel eyes. They were pretty, and unusual. All around the hazel and chocolate there was white. Her own eyes were grey, like her mother’s, like her Grandpa’s eyes.

The room felt cold, and at that moment Jared, her business partner, burst into the shop, his lunch break over. “Hey Mim. And Lucy, isn’t it? I made the appointment. I’m Jared.”

Lucy did not look at him or smile. Jared paused, then went to the back lounge for a minute. Mimosa was still and quiet, her hands on the back of Lucy’s chair.

When Jared reappeared he strode to where the two young women were frozen in place.

“T-bob, Lucy? It would look fab. Mim, I’ll do it!”

“No,” said Mimosa. She put a large, clean white towel around Lucy’s shoulders, and picked up the brush again. “I will.”

Ancient and Magical

Prompt: Ancient

digital-fantasy-surreal-2

I’ve decided to journal my experience with the mask in this leather-bound notebook, since I fear I have been inaccurate in my remembrances because of long hours in the private company of the exquisite Callexis.

Since she was delivered to me, I’ve heard nothing from Isaac, the master of dark trading, or the French messenger whose name I did not learn. I truly did not expect to correspond with Isaac or his minion after our transaction was finalized, yet they remain the only people on the earth who share my knowledge of Callexis and her mysterious power.

She of the useless magic, disappears when placed on one’s visage. She, of gold and jade and copper, ancient and beautiful, is weighty in my hands, and basks in the spotlight when sat within her special case in the library, but on my face she is gone. I feel the loops that secure her, but she is not there when I look at the mirror.

Callexis has shown me no other magic, though I spend an average of two hours per day staring at her so she may reveal her secrets, and much of the day wearing her, except when dining, bathing, or sleeping. She is comfortable and comforting, but so are my cashmere gloves. They do not disappear. They are not ancient and magical. They do not frustrate, confound, and confuse.

I have learned, with the help of my valet, that she does not merely become invisible, but disappears, both to me and to others. Having shallowly cut myself whilst shaving, I asked Othello to fetch some cotton wool, and upon returning he dabbed my face and took the blood. There was no mask to be seen or felt, despite the fact that I had placed her on my face but moments before.

That is all I have learned. Sometimes I pull my chair nearer, and stare into her hollow eyes, examine the sly, slight smile, and beg her in my thoughts to speak, somehow, to me. Sometimes when I take her off my face and place her on the marble stand, I think I hear a sort of laughter, as laughter carried to you from a great distance, on a breeze of the kind that nudges silk curtains.

Sometimes when I wear her, I feel no weight but a heaviness in my cheeks, a drawing down of the flesh near my lips, a pain in my arms, or a dizziness so intense I must sit, even when in town. My friend and neighbour, Edwin Duke, has asked me on more than one occasion if I am well when I’ve worn the mask to discuss matters of municipal interest (as we are both involved in county business). I wear her to experiment, to learn, yet she troubles me and withholds her secrets.

Today I wore her and sat before the mirror. An hour passed and I thought I saw my smile become her smile, mysterious and inscrutable. I thought I saw myself age, my face droop like a tiger’s skin, my eyes dark and heavy-lidded.

For the first time, I felt afraid of her, my beautiful, my exquisite Callexis.

 


Fearness

Prompt: Fearless Fantasies
How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?

polls_chene_thumb

I was stuck on this prompt about fear, so asked partner for ideas.

He said, if everyone lived without fear people would run around killing each other, not fearing the consequences.

I said, if everyone lived without fear then maybe it was a perfect world, where we had nothing to fear.

Wow.