Chocolate Milk

Prompt: Caper

crosswalk graphic

Why hadn’t she thought of this before?

When ever she picked up her brother Flax from Sunny Sun Pre-School at 3:45 pm, he was a fireball of energy, because he’d been awoken from a long nap at 3:30 pm, was over his drowsies, and now wanted to find the world and change it, in the way almost-three year-olds do. His caretakers always smiled at her during the hand-over, with something like pity but not quite pity, because mostly they felt relief. She was an energetic teenager who’d only just come from a leisurely day at school, not a professional child-minder who’d had a very long, very exhausting day with hyperactive toddlers who tended to test the limits of reality and patience.

Never mind that Chai was tired too, dehydrated from dry, too-warm classrooms, dulled by robotic teachers, stressed by social angst, possibly on her period, and unable to study with Jon and Carly in Carly’s basement because she had to pick up her younger brother from Sunny Sun. She then faced a ten minute walk home, where she played the role of border collie to Flax’s herd of sheep. He had an uncanny talent for slipping his tiny hand out of hers and tearing off somewhere, trailed by Chai with her backpack heavy with textbooks and an uneaten lunch.

So this time, as soon as they were out of the nursery, she slipped his unsuspecting arms through a sea blue nylon harness, and clipped a leash to it.

“No, you don’t,” she said to Flax, as he raced to the end of the lead, lost his balance, and fell on his ass. He didn’t cry. He tried it again, and fell again. Chai shortened the leash so that the abrupt fall at the end was less violent, and Flax, bless his tiny brain, kept trying until Chai crouched down in front of him, took his flawlessly smooth cheeks between her hands, and said “Baby boy, you are tied to me now, see? You can’t just run off. See this?” (Holding up the loop at the end of the leash, wrapped around her wrist.)

Flax said, “Fuck this!” just the way their mother said it. He didn’t talk a lot, but when he did he was expressive.

He then earnestly tried to separate himself from the harness, with no success, since the clip between his shoulder blades kept the truss in place.

“Pretend you’re a doggie,” Chai suggested. “Want to go to the doggie park?”

Flax paused for a moment, then shook his head and looked, surprisingly, like he might cry or have a tantrum.

“Let’s just get home,” said Chai pleasantly, standing up again, taking his hand, and stepping into the crosswalk. Flax bolted, right into the path of an old, green Chrysler Imperial with out of state license plates, which was making a right hand turn.

Chai found that legendary super-human strength and yanked the leash so fast and so hard that Flax flew over her head and landed on a grassy boulevard behind her. Toddlers are like drunks, loose and flexible, so he broke no bones, nor suffered any injury but a bruised elbow and upper arm.

The driver of the Chrysler was less fortunate. Chai held Flax under her left arm, and with her right hand she reached into her backpack, took out the heavy, warm glass bottle of chocolate milk she hadn’t consumed at lunch, and smashed it into the driver’s side window. The window didn’t break but inexplicably popped, and warm sludge covered the driver’s glasses and dribbled down his nose, which Chai then punched.

Their mother was actually home before them this Thursday because of a stray dog on the school grounds, and as she dumped chicken pieces, potatoes, and capers into a sheet pan, while checking email on her cell phone, asked, “How was school today, my chickens?”

“Chai killed someone with chocolate milk,” Flax, out of the harness, said in a sentence that broke his world record for syllables.

“That’s nice, honey,” said their mother, setting down a bottle of olive oil and impatiently stabbing a few letters on the screen with her forefinger. “Oh, more spam. Fuck this!”

All That Kale

Daily Prompt: Puncture

To most people in the UK, if you said “I had a puncture” it would not mean any intrusion of your body, but that you had a flat tire. You don’t have to add the word “tire”. Puncture means flat tire.

When I was very young and my father lent me his powder blue Comet one summer, my girlfriends and I piled in and went for a wild ride in the countryside. Partly showing off, I took a long stretch of highway at top speed and as I slowed to accommodate a curve in the road, I had a puncture.

We were silly teenagers, had no clue how to change a tire, and we had no cellphones then, nor any way to contact my father and rescuer. So we popped the hood (international symbol for car trouble?) and stood around the car, attempting to flag down passing motorists.

Finally a man in his thirties or so stopped, and we fussed and giggled as he changed the tire, in our short cut-offs and crop tops, all legs and new boobs. We were well aware that a gaggle of teenage girls was enough to make a man stop, look, and save the day.

I have an image of this incident in my head: such an incredible, vivid cliché of an encounter. I feel a little ashamed of it now, though I’m not sure why.

And, I realized the flat tire could have happened when I was driving 20 mph over the speed limit, and could have had serious consequences. Everything is a learning experience when you are a teenager.

On to a few of my favourite cartoons!

cartoon now we wait

cartoon masher and potato

cartoon kale for nothing

Kale: I pretended to like it for over a year. But I don’t. Freedom!

Have a wonderful week.


Agony Ant: Completely Normal Dude

Prompt: Hideout


Dear Agony Ant,

I am an 18-year old man currently living in a winter hunting cabin in the woods, almost a mile from the city limits. Fortunately, I have Internet reception, which has allowed me to complete my high school education via online courses, where I did particularly well in chemistry, grammar, and gymnastics (though the latter grades were mostly honour system).

I hunt, fish, and visit the Safeway to meet nutritional needs. I have several different indoor, hunting, foraging, and public clothing sets, so I am presentable when picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy, for example, as well as properly attired for hunting rabbits. The cabin has a generator but no heat, but I find the wood burning stove adequate for my warmth needs.

My companion in the cabin is my large tabby cat, named Ferdinand. He is a competent mouser and watch-cat (alerted me to a blockage in the chimney one night, which saved us both), and is also quite affectionate. There is also a particularly friendly and persistent raccoon, who visits daily, and recently had a litter of babies, who now also visit. Unfortunately, the cat and the raccoon have not become friends, and in fact are quite hostile towards one another.

But, that is not the problem for which I am asking advice, Ms Ant. It’s my high school graduation ceremony and subsequent prom. Since I live alone (Ferdinand notwithstanding), I have very few acquaintances of either gender, yet I long to escort a date to the celebratory dance and whatever festivities might follow (specifically, sexual contact and loss of virginity).

The correspondence school is sponsoring a modest gathering in a city 55 miles from here, in the grand ballroom of the Best Western Motel there, and they need confirmation from me about my attendance and food allergy information, as well as how many rooms I will be booking for the evening.

So my questions are: a) Where does one find a non-psychotic date who is willing to attend a correspondence school prom and who is also not averse to having sex with me, a stranger, afterwards; and b) is there an outlet that will exchange a carefully fitted and stylish suit rental for dried huckleberries and 20 lbs of assorted cured squirrels, pigeon, and blue snake (which tastes a lot like chicken)?

Yours truly,
Completely Normal Dude

Dear Completely Normal Dude,

Yes, you are normal, despite the surface aberrations of living like a hermit and serving tea to raccoons. You are a horny elderly teenager who desperately wants to get laid, and even went so far as to study online so you would have justification for this compulsion, since you are so socially inexperienced that you equate prom attendance with loss of virginity.

If you are financially able (maybe shoot a few more squirrels), I suggest hiring a pretty youngish woman from a reputable escort agency to dress appropriately as your date, play the role, and initiate you into the wonders of fornication after a few grinds on the dance floor. This is a win-win-win situation: A win for you, getting your cherry picked by an expert; for your date, who will make quite a lot of cash for an easy, though time-consuming, assignment (don’t forget she will likely not want to spend the night with you at the Best Western Motel, so you will need to provide transportation at the end of your liaison); and a win for the unsuspecting young woman, identity unknown, whom you were prepared to inflict your illusory impulses upon.

As for the suit, have you considered shop-lifting? Many big box stores, which some say harm local economies, now sell jackets and pants which would suffice. Keep the berries and snake bacon for yourself, since you never know what might happen.

And may I commend you on your exquisite grammar.

Peace and love,
agony ant

Dear Agony Ant,

How did you know about the tea?

Completely Normal Dude

Dear CND,

It is my job to read between the lines. Do not become too attached to the raccoons, and not just because it could alienate and cause a breach of trust with Ferdinand. I see heartbreak ahead if you fail to realize that raccoons are wild, free spirits who will also overturn your garbage can.

Peace and Love,
agony ant

Vindictive Child

Prompt: Millions


“Where’s the lottery ticket,” Todd’s mother asked him as soon as he came through the door from school an hour late, thus breaking the contract he’d just made with the school principal, counsellor, and social worker.

Todd put a new-looking notebook and unjacketed textbook on the table by the front door, and headed past the living room and down the hall to his bedroom.

“Todd!” called his mother. She set her drink on the same table and followed him down the hall. She didn’t knock, but pushed the door ajar, and found him exactly where she would have predicted: Lying on the unmade bed with his old Macbook in his lap.

“The ticket,” she said again.

Todd didn’t look up. “I threw it out.”

“You didn’t, the draw was yesterday, I haven’t checked the numbers yet.”

“Don’t you know the numbers?”

“Give me the ticket.”

“I ate it,” said Todd.

“Damn you,” said his mother quietly. She stepped outside the room and closed the door behind her. She passed the hall mirror on her way back to the living room. She looked good— neat, presentable, prepared. She slightly lifted an arm and sniffed. No unpleasant body odour. She breathed into her hand: Minty. She brushed her shoulders and the front of her shirt with a well-manicured hand.

She got to the front entryway where she’d left her unfinished drink, and swallowed it. It flowed down her throat like silken lava. She would have another, and watch the news, after she’d checked all the waste baskets for the missing lottery ticket. She would check the tall, plastic-lined garbage bag in the garage, too.

If she won millions she fancied a long cruise, maybe through the South Seas. It would be a lie to say she felt lucky, but she did know it was foolish to buy a lottery ticket and not check the numbers. Next time she would not leave it on the counter or anywhere that Todd might find it. He was a vindictive child, though lord knows what she’d ever done to deserve such disrespect. Even if he hadn’t seen it or touched it, why didn’t he just say so?

Vindictive child.


Anna Loge

Prompt: Careful


My name is Anna Loge. I am an historian.

Not really, I’m just a high school student. But I reside in the past, and am very, very curious about how people live in the future, especially people my age. Perhaps you are curious about a regular day in my life? Come on, let’s have a look…

My alarm clock goes for school, and I ignore it, so my mother has to keep calling and calling up the stairs to get me out of bed. Seems I need 12 hours of sleep a night or something. I get dressed— for school we have to dress as if we were going to work at an office, so that means no jeans or t-shirts or even trousers, for the girls. So I dress in a skirt and sweater, and pantyhose, since we aren’t allowed to have bare legs, either.

I have some cereal for breakfast at the kitchen table, while my mother fusses around getting lunches ready. She’s finally conceded, after all these years, that a semi-grown person like myself can have sugared cereal, which I have craved. So I eat a bowl of Capt’n Crunch. The bits are so hard and sharp and sweet that they almost make my gums bleed.

My mother has also conceded that none of us will ever, ever drink powdered milk, no matter how much money it saves, because it simply tastes horrible. So regular, homo milk it is.

I’m late as usual, so I have to run-walk to school on my own, which is about a mile away, carrying my books, lunch, and stuff, and arrive to homeroom class breathless. We say a prayer and one of the homeroom students presents a bible reading. No, we are not a religious school. That’s just how we start the day.

School— I don’t think it ever changes. Does it? Mostly it is a bore.

Teachers talk, they write things in white chalk on a blackboard, which is actually green, and they erase it with a felt brush, which merely smears the chalk dust around the board until it is a foggy mess. I write down some of it, or not, and doodle, and watch the clock.

I have a spiral-bound notebook for almost every class, and a textbook which is provided by the school. These books are recycled to a new class ever year, so we are not allowed to scribble in them, but they give us a craft paper dust cover, which we can doodle on all we want. I have a zippered pencil case, which holds a few pens and pencils, an eraser, a ruler, and a compass. I have probably used the compass once in my entire life, but there you go.

At lunch in the cafeteria I sit with a couple of friends and eat whatever my mother has made. Cheese sandwich, tuna sandwich, peanut butter and jam sandwich, whatever, and avoid the fruit. I usually eat two chocolate long john donuts instead. It’s noisy in the cafeteria and it smells like boiled potatoes. I’ve never had the hot lunch that is offered (for a fee, like any other caf); don’t think I would like it unless they served fries.

For phys-ed the gym strip is navy blue shorts and a white t-shirt. Most of us hate P.E. because we never have time to shower properly after the class, even if we’ve been running around for 40 minutes. Sometimes I turn up at the next class with wet hair.

My math teacher is new, and very enthusiastic, so his class is not boring, even though I have no idea what he is talking about. Calculus, or algebra, or trigonometry, or ? My friend and I illicitly share work in class. Both of us are hopeless, though. He always assigns homework from the textbook. Solve ten “problems”. I have a problem with problems.

I have a detention after school, because of loitering. Yes, loitering in the hallway of my own school. The principal discourages gatherings since he is a suspicious old coot. Detention takes place in a class room: you just sit there for half an hour.

So I walk home on my own, loaded down with textbooks and notebooks. Yesterday after school it rained— it was thrashing down— and just as I was putting up my umbrella, I spotted my dad’s car waiting all by itself at the curb. He’d got home from work early.

I stop at a corner store half-way to get a drink. There is a big metal cooler, and under the lid are bottles of pop, up to their midriffs in cold, sometimes iced water. I pull out an orange crush.

I walk the rest of the way home, sipping the pop with a straw. It takes another 15 or 20 minutes. It gets boring taking the same route, day after day, so I let my mind wander.

Once home I make a sandwich and go up to my bedroom and listen to a few records on the portable player, which is in a pink and grey faux leather case, write a bit in my diary, then I head over to my girlfriend’s house. She just lives across the street.

We look over a dirty novel she found in her parents’ beside table. We go outside and work on a garden we are making, just for the heck of it. We planted strawberries, raspberry canes, and sunflowers. We walk a couple of blocks to a grocery store to get a quart of milk and a pack of cigarettes for her mother.

I have to peel potatoes for dinner, a beef stew that I don’t much like. We sit at the kitchen table, my brothers across from me. My mother tries to make conversation, while my father gets frustrated with our bickering. We have fruit salad out of a can for dessert, coveting the rare and delicious red cherry halves.

I dry the dishes, since it’s my turn, then go do homework for half an hour at a little desk in my bedroom. I tell my parents I’m done (not quite, but will finish in homeroom tomorrow), and watch some TV with them and my brothers. My mother doesn’t bother much with television, and reads a book. We argue about who has to get up and change the channel. The top of the television is warm so the cat curls up and sleeps there. I ask my mother when we’ll get a colour TV  and my dad says, When hell freezes over. The people I babysit for once-a-week have a colour TV, and I think it’s cool.

My across-the-street friend calls, and I talk on the phone with her for half an hour, no longer because my father reminds me that we have a party line, for god’s sake, and they might like to use the phone sometime. The phone is a black wall phone with a dial, pretty well open to the kitchen and living room, so I stretch the cord as far as it will go so I can sit just around the corner at the foot of the stairs.

My mother asks what on earth we talk about, since I just saw her. I don’t know what we talk about really. We just chatter and gossip.

When I go to bed I read a book I took out of the library. It is a mystery whose teenage heroes ride around town on motor scooters.

Not really an extraordinary day, but not too bad, really. If you are a teenager, was your day much the same?

Best wishes,

  • Image by Michelle Stocker.

Random Number

Prompt: Test


The first time Andrew clashed with his mother’s boyfriend, Randy, was when he was late coming back from a date with Sophie. He couldn’t help it, the bus was late, but Randy took it upon himself to express his disappointment on behalf of the both of them.

“A curfew is not a random number,” said Randy.

“I didn’t know you were a mathematician,” said Andrew, who sat at the kitchen table eating leftover spaghetti out of the pot. Randy worked for airport security.

“Sweetheart…” said Andrew’s mother. Who she was addressing was anyone’s guess.

“Your mother was worried.”

Andrew twirled a perfect forkful of the spaghetti, and turned to his mother, who was still in her work clothes. “Sorry about that.” He stuffed it into his mouth.

“It’s ok,” said his mother.

“It really isn’t,” said Randy.

“I think it really is,” said Andrew. He startled himself. He had never spoken to an adult like this before. Not his mother, not anyone. It felt strange, somewhere between a tickle and an electric shock. He had been brought up to be respectful, no matter what his personal feelings. His newly found granddad had fortified the belief that respect was important, because Bernard earned respect. Randy? Their relationship was quietly amicable. No real respect issue, either way. Nothing wrong with him really, Andrew thought, until now.

His mother picked up the now-empty pot and took it to the sink, then ran hot water in it to soak. She stood there, facing the sink, her back to Randy and Andrew.

Andrew wondered if this was a test, or if this was how it was going to be from now on. Would his mother withdraw, as she just did, and let Randy tell him what to do? That made no sense.

“Well,” said Randy. “Just be sure—“

“Big yawn,” said Andrew, standing up and stretching. “Tired. Church tomorrow. Night, mom.”

He left the kitchen and took the steps two at a time to his bedroom.

There was no church tomorrow. That was a joke between Andrew and his mother.

Roman Summer

Prompt: Tourist
This is another excerpt from my Nanowrimo novel about twin sisters Isabella and Catrina.


It was as if a spotlight suddenly shone on Bella. She brightened, straightened up in her chair and I knew Santino was approaching. I put my cigarette out in the ashtray on the table and brushed damp hair away from my forehead. This was the first time I was meeting him outside the environs of his workplace, the hotel bar. I was cool. I would be cool.

“Bella,” he said, in a fine deep voice, just like a man. He seemed a man to me, though he was not any taller than Bella, rather thin, and was so close-shaven that he looked like he was too young to have started a beard. He wore his dark, not entirely clean hair in a pony tail tied at the base of his neck. He leaned over and brushed her cheeks with his lips, European style, then turned to me.

I stood up and he took my shoulders, and we exchanged air kisses on each cheek. He smelled strongly of cologne, something very citrus, very forest, and made a tiny grunting sound when he kissed. I wondered if I had tobacco breath.

He sat in the wrought iron chair next to Bella, and I saw her seek out his hand. That was bold of her I, thought. I think she did it for my benefit, to prove she was brave and their relationship was powerful. He grinned at me. He had perfect, perfectly white teeth.

I had only seen him in the muted light of the mirrored bar, when Mama and Bella and I had our pre- or after-dinner glass of wine. I saw that Santino had downy hair on his arms that caught the light. He wore a short-sleeved white shirt, like the one he wore while bartending, minus the black vest, and a pair of rather tight jeans.

Bella had burgundy-coloured fingernails; we both did, having painted them that morning. We tended, naturally, to embrace the fact that we looked alike. We harboured the idea that we could substitute each other out, at any time (this was called The Game), and no one would necessarily be the wiser. I had a sudden longing to swap with Bella right now, to be the one sitting close to a man, holding hands in a cafe in Rome, his thumb rubbing my palm, his knee nudging mine. I longed for this even though I found him rather repulsive and fearsome… all the hair, the pores, what lay between his legs, so foreign.

I wanted to be the one to stand up with him, blow a kiss to my sister still in her wrought iron chair, with her coffee on the yellow tablecloth, and steal away with Santino to his parents’ house, where he lived, and where he brought Bella after his parents returned to their jobs after the long break for lunch. I would be there instead of Bella, lying on the couch with him watching Italian television, lazily wrapped around each other. I would hear him whisper in my ear about how beautiful I was, how much he wanted me, how I made him crazy. I would feel all the flushes, all the tingles, my flesh would move by itself when he touched it. I would feel his fingers on my scalp, as he buried his face in my hair, whispering now, and his had running down my shoulder, down my arm, and around my waist.

He often whispered in Italian, and Bella had no idea what he said. “He could be saying, oh, you are such a boiled egg,” Bella said. “I’ll secretly learn Italian and see what he is really saying.”

“How could you love someone that calls you an egg?”

“He has other good qualities,” Bella told me.

We were about to turn sixteen, and I had only been kissed in the basement of Jimmy Russell’s basement, when I was eleven , and there was no love. Jimmy was fifteen and I suspect he wanted to practice his kissing skills for more worthy prey.

I didn’t know what it felt like to get down and dirty. I wanted to know. I hatched a tiny little plan.

First, I ran it by Bella, sort of.

“Wouldn’t it be funny,” I said to her that night as we dipped kleenex into nail polish remover and made the burgundy polish disappear. “If we played The Game with Santino?”

Bella burst out laughing and, unfortunately, she didn’t take me seriously.