Volume 1 Issue 21: Nonsense Word

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(image from here)

This week’s prompt was a little more challenging than others, more strict in some ways. Reading around an unknown word, divining its meaning or simply accepting your ignorance, is something that we usually advance out of as readers. (Unless, of course, you learn how to read in a second language, in which case, dealing with unknown words is just part of your daily life.) It is an uncomfortable feeling and yet we readers persevere for the sake of the entire story.
This week we have five stories brought to you by returning contributors Kelli J. Gavin, Sunil Sharma, Tim Clark, and myself along with a story from a first-time contributors, Mimi and Miguel Rodriguez.

I hope you enjoy fafflabing them as much as I did!



My 11-Year-Old Daughter 
Kelli J Gavin

No one ever told me that having an 11-year-old daughter would be so challenging.  Having an 11-year-old son was one thing, he is now 15, and aging was something that was considered inevitable and even sometimes a nonevent. My daughter seems to be on a mission to make me prove that I somehow received the highly coveted Able To Parent Card at some yet to be discovered by me University. Some days, I think I know what I am doing, and others, I lose my cool when I pick up a fourth discarded wet swimsuit off the floor. She is at the awkward, challenging age, right between childhood and being a teenager.  I sometimes want time to slow down and keep her as my baby. Other times, I can’t wait for her to mature a bit, for her to be able to make better informed decisions and for her to desire to take better care of her possessions.

Summers are hot in Minnesota.  We try to accomplish all that needs to be done in the mornings before the heat and then we find reason to slumber in the shade or accomplish other indoor tasks that are calling our name. In the Dog Days of Summer, summer school is over, and the kids are awaiting fun times at the cabin and at the Minnesota State Fair. But these days can be long.  After a book or two have been read, chores have been completed, summer homeschool curriculum has been checked and rechecked, and miles and miles have ridden on bikes and scooters, the neighborhood kids seem to reconvene after lunch at our house and in our pool.

Because my daughter swims many times a day, and has yet to discover that she has the ability to hang up a wet swimsuit and towel over the banister of the deck to dry in the sun, I often spend the first 10 minutes when I get home from work doing these things and scoffing.  I greet my husband warmly as we discuss the happenings of the day and what I will make for dinner. By that time, my kids usually discover that my work day has ended and the onslaught of questions begin. Mom, can I go to Funky Minds on Wednesday? Can Albert come over for dinner? What time are you taking me to Vacation Bible School tomorrow afternoon? And about 15 more.

When I study my kids while they are in full blown question asking mode, I finally look at my daughter. I mean really look at my daughter.  Her hair is disheveled and ratted up, damp from her morning swim, her glasses are smeared with the sweat and filth of a hot summer day.

“Babe, your glasses are mess. It looks liked you licked them.” A tell her a little flustered. She removes her glasses from her face as I reach for them.  I want to explain to her that shuvblenderting isn’t a bad thing. That she could shuvblendert from her dad and he would be happy to be of assistance. But she won’t hear me. She thinks that I am pointing out all that is wrong with her.  I quickly clean them, smile at her, kiss her sweaty forehead and replace the glasses on her beautiful face. I answer a few more questions when she then tells me she is starving and wants to know when dinner will be ready.

In all my parent wisdom, I think, oh my goodness. This is the perfect opportunity to teach her that shuvblenerting is an important thing to do. “Well, sweet girl, I have a lot of vegetables and a salad to prepare.   I need to shuvblendert.” She gladly joins me in the kitchen when she realizes that dinner will be ready if we both work together. As she starts peeling carrots and I put a pot of water on the stove, I begin. “Sweet girl,  I came home today from work and I was so tired. I saw all of your swimsuits and towels strewn everywhere. I have asked you many times to be sure to hang a wet swimsuit over a deck chair or lay it flat on the table. And I have also asked you to hang the towels flat over the deck banister to dry in the sun.  I need you to promise that you will only wear one swimsuit a day and that you will always turn it right side out and lay it flat to dry. I shouldn’t need to be the one to do these kinds of things when I get home from work. You are 11, and absolutely able to hang up your suit and towel. If not, you can always shuvblendert.”

She looks at me with ocean blue eyes and smiles. “Mom, thanks for telling me what you need from me.  I can’t promise you am going to remember to do it every time, but I will try. You know, I have a lot of important places to go and people to see.”  Her humor shines through sometimes at most ridiculous times. She knows what she is doing. She is avoiding reprimand by attempting to make me laugh. It works. I first, fight a smile and control my laughter. Then, my lips betray me and creep up into a toothy grin only my mother could love.  We laugh freely together, and I pull her into an embrace, carrot peeler and all.

No, I may not receive more assistance around the house from sweetheart of a daughter. But I will get to laugh with her, love her and encourage her and always teach her to shuvblendert.


Bio-

Kelli Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of an obscene amount of years and they have two crazy kids. She is a Writer, Professional Organizer and owns Home & Life Organization and a small Jewelry Company. She enjoys writing, reading, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. She abhors walks on the beach (sand in places no one wishes sand to be), candle lit dinners, (can’t see) and the idea of cooking two nights in a row (no thank you).

Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavin

Blog found at kellijgavin@blogspot.com



The game
Sunil Sharma

They were the dreaded RASUB!

And tough to crack!
.

Post-lunch, the ritual started.

The man called God ordered: Proceed!

The second man, identified as Charles Ludwig Dodgson, intoned: KO.

The third man, Homer and the fourth, Nietzsche, repeated: KO.

The hymn KO-KO reverberated across the hall and corridor.

.

The director was aghast.

—What the hell!

—Watch for few more minutes, sir!

The deputy pleaded.

.

KO.

KO.

KO.

KO.

.

The director was incensed:  Sheer nonsense!

—A daily game!

—Find out the meaning of this drivel! Some real conspiracy here! Find out.

—Yes, sir.

.

The group was given third-degree. The interrogators insisted for the hidden meaning.

The frail victims shouted: KOKOKO!!!

—What does KO mean? The chief asked.

—Key O— Key O— Key O— KO-KO!

—What does it mean?

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.

—Which is to be master…

The interrogators gave up.

.

The inmates were intellectuals feared for their theories that altered perceptions and critiqued the System.

Part of a shrinking movement called RASUB—some got murdered; others disappeared or shot down; many died in jails—these four minds were committed to the safest haven—the Asylum—by declaring them as mad.

They were the enemies—for claiming that everybody was divine and therefore equal.

The State did not like such a philosophy.

It was the job of the director to eliminate threats.

Non-sense is subversive!

That was official decree.

.

The group kept on chanting: KO. KO. KO.

The director and his team were driven nuts.

They could not make sense of the chant. The Director brought in specialist that worked hard to understand the game but miserably failed.

The more the four were tortured, the fiercer the recital: KO-KO.

As if their sanity depended on this mantra!

.

The Home Department sent the ultimatum: Three days to unravel the meaning!

On the brink, the portly director joined the group in disguise—for better understanding of their world and mental processes.

God said: Proceed!

Dodgson said: KO.

The director said: KO.

They all stood up, linked arms, closed eyes and started dancing as initiates in the mysteries.

God said: They can kill body, not mind!

Others shouted: KO.

God said: They can kill minds, not thoughts!

The group shouted: KO.

God said: We are all one. We all are God!

Blasphemy! Thought the Director.

God sang the loudest:

They can maim us

But not our spirit

And— not our songs

That defy time!

 

Superman: KO! KO! KO!

They all chorused: KOKOKOKO! KOKOKO!

God: Next?

Dodgson: NUF!

Nietzsche: Finnegan and Jabberwocky! Godot.

Dodgson: Love math, time travel. Back from 1865.

The director recommended: Commit them to the dungeons. Saboteurs and their verbal games—lethal!

Lastly: TEL METH TOR! They are GO-GAUG— advanced creative people, best understood in future only!

He was also put in that hell!


Author-bio:

Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 19 published books: Six collections of poetry; two of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.

Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA:

http://www.setumag.com/p/setu-home.html

For more details, please visit the blog:

http://www.drsunilsharma.blogspot.in/



Balderdash
Tim Clark

“Balderdash.” The man said, his deep voice boomed, echoing off the concrete walls, bouncing around the room.

He was dressed in a waist coat with long tails, a bow tie in a complimentary color, a striped shirt and wore a top hat. He carried a walking stick that turned into a sword. I know this because he threatened to run me through, after slicing my donut in half.

We were sitting in the coffee shop next to the laundromat out on Highway 61.

“This coffee is great. And I am starving.” I said to my roommate. We were getting ready to go see a Steely Dan concert in Red Rocks outside of Denver, and were doing our laundry so we would have some clean clothes. We were excited, smiling and laughing, it was going to be fun.

Right in front of our table the man sprang into existence, out of thin air, dressed in a way that made me think of the last century.

He pulled his sword out of his cane, swung it through the air with a menacing, terrifying hiss of agitated air, and sliced my donut in half. Cream filling sticking to the glinting steel, oozing on to the neatly bisected paper plate, and the cleanly cut plastic table cloth in a creepy, unwholesome way that will change the way I look at donuts forever.

I looked at my roommate, and he was staring at my dying donut, unable to take his eyes off the misery unfolding on the table.

“I have been looking for you. All through time and space, across countless universes. I have come to run you through. Like the animal you are.” He said. The sword flashed again, knocking my coffee cup into the wall. Dark liquid ran down the grimy cream colored walls. I smiled at the counter person, trying to assure him that it was my coffee, but not my fault. He glared at all three of us and went to get a mop.

“I… I’m… you… why would you want to kill me?” I finally asked. Trying to think of a reason anybody would want to hurt me. I was nobody, and nobody knew me, and nobody disliked me, at least not enough to kill me, I thought.

“Grandpa, that isn’t him.” A voice said, and a woman flowed and rippled into solidity beside him.

“It isn’t?” The man asked.

“No.” She said.  

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I thought you were someone else.” The man said, trying to reassemble my donut, his hands working, fumbling, a lop sided smile breaking across the deep shade of red spreading across his face.

Then they were gone.

“I’m not sure we should have breakfast together anymore.” My roommate said.


Bio:
Tim Clark lives in Columbus, OH, where he works for a small warehouse.  He is proud of his marriage, but he would have to ask his wife how many years it has been. He has a blog about life and the perils involved. You can see it here,
Life Explained.

He writes occasionally and with pride for Street Speech, a local homeless advocacy newspaper. He is a contributor for Mercurial Stories, Writer’s Newsletter, Cross and Bull Stories, and has stories in anthologies from SmartyPants Publishing and the coming edition of Blank Tapes. He is particularly vain about his monthly column on The Wild Word. Tim is in the act of writing his first novel, based on a series of short stories, and random memories and imagination.



Todeloe
Mimi and Miguel Rodriguez

Are we living a todeloe life? 

She was texting with a friend as we were walking to the beach. Towels and cold water in a bag, her hand on mine. It was late afternoon, the city busy with a mix of locals and tourists. Not a cloud in the sky.

– He is calling me todeloe! 

Why would he do that?

– I just asked if he had ever been in a threesome

That explains it.

– But are we?

There is a book we like to read. “Call me by your name” from Andre Aciman. There is a chapter in that book where the two main characters are at a book reading in Rome.

“Oliver, sei un todeloe”

I couldn’t tell if he was being called todeloe because of the two babes he had wandered in with or because of me. Or both.

“Se l’amore” he replied.

It’s love, I replied

What is there in an adjective? It is just a way to assign attributes to a noun. There are adjectives that are absolute, like sweet or red. There are adjectives that are relative, like todeloe. You need a frame of reference to call someone todeloe. A todeloe in rural Texas is someone having a fourth beer. A todeloe in Rome is a guy walking into a party with two babes and his boyfriend.

Does it really matter what you are called? I don’t go through life looking for approval from others. I don’t try to impose my way of thinking in others either. I’m too busy being happy and admiring the beauty in the world for that.

I actively choose to be in love with my girl. She happens to like girls, at least one of them. I happen to like girls too. I understand her and can relate. Heck I can share my secret moves when making love to them with her. I even explain my tricks to her in herself as we make love.

Will I let an adjective stand between me and happiness? Is the person calling us todeloe the shepherd calling the lost sheep back into the corral? Or is that the person that got lost in the pursuit of happiness? Straitjacketed by a list of things you should do or not do set by a group of people more interested in the survival of their community than in the happiness of their members. 

So, my love. I’m busy being happy. I’m busy admiring the beauty in our love. I am busy planning our next adventures, which might or might not involve another girl for you. I am busy enjoying the moment with you, sharing our thoughts and our feelings. I am busy admiring the drawings that you make, or reading the words that you write which give me a glimpse in that beautiful mind of yours. Is this called living a todeloe life? I prefer calling it living it a happy life.


Authors’ Bio:

We are a couple in love writing about our adventures together. She is the creative half, artsy and perfectionist. He is the rational part, good with words and total chaos.  Bear hugs and short dresses… Together we look at open relationships, arrangements, and what it means to be loved in the 21st century. We publish in Medium under: https://medium.com/@ursushoribilis



Vonnox
Tiffany Key

“James, get out of that tree. I am telling you for the last time, mister.” The boy was midway up the tree, on the thickest branch, the one that splayed out into three fingers, giving James a decent platform to rest.
“Never,” he called down to his mother. “Not until you give me back the vonnox.” His mother put her hands on her hips.
“I told you, James, the vonnox is not meant for little boys.”
“But you let Beth have it.”
“Yes, and Beth is not a little boy now is she?”
“It’s not fair. Robert’s mom lets him use the vonnox all the time.”
“I’m sure that is not true. Robert’s mom is not stupid.”
“I didn’t call her stupid. Robert’s mom is just really nice, nicer than you even.”
“Oh, is that so? Well, nice or not, I am not going to let you hurt yourself just because you got something in your head.”
James looked towards the house and saw his older sister leaning out the bathroom window, dangling the vonnox from its long, metal prongs. Beth was grinning.
“Mom, Beth’s making fun of me now.” His mother turned around just as Beth pulled herself and the vonnox back into the bathroom. She sighed.
“I’ll take care of your sister later.” She stood staring up at her young son. She knew bringing the vonnox into the house was a mistake but her mother-in-law had insisted. And without her husband around anymore to help defend her from his mother’s ideas and opinions, she had learned that it was better to accept defeat than to lose every battle. Less energy spent that way, she reasoned. James had turned towards the trunk and she could not see his face at all anymore. All this fuss over a stupid vonnox. And of course, once he gets it, he’ll lose interest. But if she gave it to him, well, it would horrible if anyone found out. Better to resist than live that down, no matter the nuisance.

“Okay, fine, suit yourself. I am going in where the air-conditioner is running and there are brownies cooling on the kitchen counter. Half walnut, half plain.” No response. “Okay, then, I hope you know how to get down from there. Your father lent the ladder to Uncle Charles so I can’t rescue you once you get scared.”
“I’m not going to get scared, “ James said, his voice low but determined.

“Well, I am going in now.” She looked up and saw her son clinging to the tree like a baby monkey clings to its mother. Sighing, she made her way across the green lawn, doubling back only after she was out of James’ line of sight. She sat down under a pine tree right behind James’ oak. She thought of her husband, lost out in the world, and her wild hope that the vonnox would make life easier.

“Mama! Mama!” James cried.
“I’m here, darling,” his mother responded, jumping to her feet. “Don’t worry, baby, I won’t let you fall.”


About the author:

Tiffany Key is a linguistic navigator and amateur anthropologist who lives in a decent-sized closet with four fierce contenders near a shallow sea. Her work as appears and disappears here and there. She records cognitive flights of fancy at:

saishowagu.wordpress.com



 

Volume 1 Issue 12: Addy

Sorry for the delay folks. There were some technical difficulties over here but finally they are resolved and the show can go on as planned. Thank you for your patience.

For this week’s unusual prompt, we had three contenders toss their stories into the ring. Deb Felio with her story Regarding Addy, Tim Clark’s story The Boxer, and my own piece (that ran over the word limit a bit but due to time constraints, I will just overlook my violation). Hope you enjoy our story adaptations.

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Regarding Addy
Debbie Felio

     It’s been fifteen years and I remember like it was yesterday. Isn’t that what everyone says? Like it was yesterday.
    He knew this day would come. He raised me for it. After Momi died and Dadi got too sick to fight anymore, he knew he had to make me tough. Even when Charcoal died. No tears. Just strong face. Just another loss. We both had so much dammed up. So much we never talked about. I hated him. And I loved him. And I needed him, and I hated that he needed me. I would hit at him and he would mock me. ‘Harder!’ he would shout. “Harder!” And I wanted to show him I could and would, and I was afraid I could and would.
    The first time he hid his medicine from me when he asked me to get him magic water, I hated he didn’t think I was big enough to know. And I spit my hate into his water and took it to him. He swallowed it. Everytime. He was that tough – to swallow up my hate. Did he know then it was also my fear?
     Distractions were short term solutions. Cartoons on the TV. Coloring. My collection of special bugs found in the house – each one named.  Watching Jody and Jessi next door outside. I was so alone. And I wouldn’t leave. Until that day.
     That day Charcoal died and I hit Dadi too hard and he needed magic water more than usual and we just looked hard at each other. And then.That.Tear. Coming down his cheek. We held each other tight. We both felt in each other what we knew.  And when he told me to go outside, I did. Jody and Jessi came up and we ran off together. I knew.

It was like it was yesterday.

———————————————
The Boxer
Tim Clark

“In the clearing stands a boxer,

And a fighter by his trade,

And he carries the reminders

Of every glove that laid him down

Or cut him till he cried out.”*
He could have been somebody, but, he never was. He left all of his hopes and dreams scattered in broken pieces lying in ratty gyms and smoky halls across the lower half of the country. His heart was broken, and failing. His dreams had died, and he would have joined them had it not been for her.

The only thing he had was the girl, she was his life and all he could give was the love he didn’t understand.  His daughter, his protected, his protector.

She had a curious touch, a nurturing spirit, and she cared for everything. Including the boxer. He saw the world in her eyes, and her gentleness. He could never understand what it meant, but it was his world.

The only gift he could give her was himself, and it was given freely. And the only thing she could give him was herself and she did. They shared a bond born of extreme poverty and nourished by need.

They lived off the food they could grow, the chickens they shared their shanty house with. She fed the chickens with the insects she caught, and she nourished her father best as she could. Calling on her own magic she would spit in the medicine power she mixed in his water. When you have nothing you try everything.

In the end he lost the fight but he waited battled long enough to teach the girl everything he could. He hoped it would be enough.
*The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel

———————————————————–
Magic Water
Tiffany Key

Addy had been awake since dawn, occupying herself as quietly as possible while her father slept in the other room. She always did her best but her coloring books became boring and there were only so many times she could watch Brutus punch Popeye across the forest before she lost her patience. She was laying on the floor in her torn tee-shirt and cut-off jean shorts, listening to the chickens peck the dirty brown carpet for food that was not there.
The laundry was washed and hung up on the walls where the framed paintings of flowers doubled as a clothesline. She rolled onto her side to watch her hissing cockroach make its way slowly over the carpet. Addy reached out and scooped it back into its jar, turning the ice-pick punctured lid shut. Returning it to its place amongst the jars of crickets and stick bugs on the top shelf of the closet, Addy went into the kitchen to feed the cat. Yesterday’s food was still in the bowl but she did not realize it until she had already opened the can. It had been raining all day yesterday so the cat had probably just been holed up somewhere, waiting it out. Looking out the window, she saw the neighborhood children playing in the mud, laughing. Addy watched them for a moment then realized it was late enough in the morning for her to wake her father.
She went to his room and gently pushed his broad back. His snoring continued. Addy looked at the picture he kept tucked into his vanity mirror: her father, strong, glistening, a boxer ready to fight. Behind her, he stirred, coughing himself awake. He was sweating from his dreams and looked around a little dazed, remembering his reality.
Addy, get me some magic water.
She ran to the kitchen where the dirty dishes from days and weeks before surrounded the sink. She ripped open the powered solution and poured it into the glass before filling it with tap water. Then she lovingly spat into the mixture before stirring, carrying it carefully back to him so as not to spill it.
She was watching the children again when her father called her to the backyard. There, curled up into a ball, was the cat. Its fur was spiky wet and at first Addy wondered why it had just laid there, sleeping out in the rain. Her father had a plastic garbage bag in his hand and was just about to pick the cat up when Addy figured out what was going on. The tears rose up in her eyes before she could stop them. Her father must have felt her weakness and turned to her.
No, we are not going to do that, he said.
Addy nodded, wanting to be stoic.
Good, now show me your strong face.
It was too much.
Addy shouted no then ran into the house, leaving her father to bag the cat on his own. As he dropped it into the garbage can, he noticed the three children digging in the mud, smiling and sharing makeshift shovels.
He walked inside and was immediately attacked by his daughter, who wore his gloves as if they were hers.
That’s it, he said, delighted she was dealing with her grief like a fighter, bring it. Who’s the man?
I’m the man! Addy punched him hard in the chest.
The pain was immediate. His lungs constricted and he fell back into the armchair.
Addy, go get me some magic water.
She was quicker this time but he still managed to pop two of his heart pills into his mouth before she returned. He did not want her to know that it took more than her spit and seltzer water to keep him alive.
He drank it quickly and felt his pulse return to normal, his lungs fill with air once again. Addy stood before him, eyes wide and glistening with tears.
She looked so much like her mother. It had been over a year already. He let the tears roll down his cheeks as he pulled his daughter close.
Later, when Addy went to join the children, she turned for a moment and looked back at him, uncertain. He just nodded and thought, go on. Go on, my girl.

No. 9: Temper Tantrum: Stories

This week we have four stories of ill-temperments from Shane Guthrie, Linda M. Crate, Debbie Felio, and myself. Four very different instances of temper tantrums told in four very unique styles. Interestingly enough, all four stories happen to feature adults as the distempered.

Enjoy!

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Temper Tantrum
Shane Guthrie

My voice hurt from growling at you
To go to sleep
To be quiet
To lie still

You were screaming at me, and writhing around
You were kicking me and following me
When I tried to calm down
In the living room

But I was the adult, so it is mine to apologize

I’m sorry
———————————————————————————————————–

Leftovers for Jan
Linda M. Crate


Didn’t they say temper tantrums were for peevish children that weren’t getting their way? Asia shook her head as she looked at her husband laying on the floor screaming, and pounding his fists. She knew that he was tired and he had a lot of stress on his shoulders but so did she.

She was a teacher in addition to being a wife and mother. She just hadn’t felt like cooking, and didn’t see why her statement would illicit such a reaction from her husband. Her kids didn’t throw a fit about leftover night so she wasn’t so sure why a grown man was displaying such childish behavior.

“Mom, what’s wrong with dad?” her nine-year-old asked.

“I don’t know, honey. Perhaps the stress of his job caused him to lose his mind, but he is acting worse than either yourself or your brothers ever did,” she told her daughter.

This seemed to sober her husband Jan up really quickly. He pulled himself off the floor, and brushed himself off, blushing profusely. “I’m going to go take a shower and cool off.”

“You do that,” Asia snorted, watching  him as he walked away. She then turned to her daughter. “So how was your day today? Do anything exciting at school today?”

“If falling on your face during soccer in gym class counts as exciting then sure. I hate that I am so bad at sports. There are other girls in my class that are so impressive at sports, and then there’s me tripping over my own two feet. What a joke, huh?”

“I don’t think you’re a joke. We all have different talents and abilities, honey. That’s what makes us all so special and different from one another.”

“Maybe,” her daughter sighed. “I just wish I had better hand-eye coordination.”

“Well, maybe your brothers could help you practice after dinner.”

“Yeah?”

“Ew, no, Jamie, you’re a lost cause.”

“Yeah, you really suck.”

“Like really, really suck.”

“Boys, be nice to your sister. You can help her practice soccer. She used to help change your diapers, and she never complained. She used to read you books before bed, too, sometimes.”

“Okay, okay.”

“Geez, mom, you’re so embarrassing!”

“It’s my job as a mom,” Asia winked.

Her husband came downstairs a few minutes later pulling some meatloaf out of the fridge, reheating it in the microwave.

“Feeling better, dad? Your temper tantrum was a bit scary.”

Jan rubbed the back of his head, clearly embarrassed. “Yes, daddy just didn’t handle the stress of his job very well, but he’s doing better now.”

“That’s good because mom says we have to help Jamie learn how to play soccer and she’s pretty hopeless. We’re going to need your help, too.”

“Don’t be mean to your sister, you know she used to change your diapers, right?”

“Mom said the same thing,” grumbled one of the boys.

“Well, maybe you should listen your mother then,” Jan winked.

“Best advice I’ve ever heard you give,” Asia grinned.

———————————————————————————————————

An Alternative
Debbie Felio

Throwing a tantrum is so classless
when there can be so much more harm
done with less crassness

you don’t have to look the crazy
to do the crazy and with enough charm
to make it all hazy

you’re enraged at what ever = it doesn’t even matter
keep your cool and at the party
on her spill the shrimp and sauce platter – oops

the seats on the flight are too narrow to flip
her long curls over your tray
so make a gradual four inch snip – so sorry

he’s late again, you can’t raise a stink
his whites with the reds
now he’s in the pink – oh, dear

In the parking lot the sports car took the last 3
spaces for nongreen cars
walk slowly beside it with your own sharp key – la di da

passed over at work – no place to shout
put on your hoodie with a pair of gloves
and pull the fire alarm on your way out –  whee

The gossip about you is too much to cope
send a well-timed letter to the culprit
“Personal! HIV test results” on the envelope. ohhh

There’s so much more evil in creativity
without showing your intention
you can get even and keep your pretty.  you’re welcome!

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The Locked Door
Tiffany Key

There was an empty bottle of sake outside the locked bedroom door. I had been at work all day in the neighboring city and was bone-tired. After I knocked on the door without a response, I went to the other side of the house to check on the kids. I opened the door and saw that they had fallen asleep in a huddle in my eldest son’s bed. I returned to deal with the locked door. We were staying at my parent’s old house until we got on our feet, giving me the advantage. I knew how to make those particular doorknobs give way.

Successful after a minute with the screwdriver, I walked through the master bedroom to the bathroom where my husband sat on the floor, back against the sink cabinets.
“What’s going on?” I asked. He just shook his head slowly back and forth.
I tried to be patient but eventually, in my exhaustion, said, “This is ridiculous.”
“Ridiculous? I am being ridiculous? No,” he stood, swaying on his feet like a boxer about to take a punch, “you are the ridiculous one.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Why don’t you think about what you did today? Huh? Like who did you talk to, huh?”
“I was at work. All day. I talked to you during my lunch break. I don’t understand what you are upset about.”
“You had quite the chat with him.”
“Him?”
“Yes, him. Ah, you remembered, huh? Yeah, yeah, I know.”  And he glanced over at the computer screen where my Facebook page was still open. My conversation with my friend from high school was up in the right bottom corner.
“But we didn’t talk about anything,” I protested.
“Yeah, but I told you not to talk to him. That I don’t like him.”
“You don’t really know him. He’s just a friend. I mean, look…”.

I turned to walk over to the computer, thinking that if we just looked at the conversation rationally then he would see how insignificant it was but as I took a step, I was grabbed from behind. He threw me against the open door so hard that the hinges were pulled clean from the doorframe. Shocked but somehow I managed to get to my feet and rush into the living room.

The alcohol slowed him down and so when I saw his fist, I had enough time to move out of the way. The impact against the plaster wall created a small spider web fracture. I
 ran through the kitchen, barricading myself behind the laundry room’s slatted door. I listened for his heavy footsteps coming my way; instead I heard the front door open and slam shut. I had the car keys in my pocket: he couldn’t get far.

After the silence remained unbroken for over five minutes, I went to the kids’ room, locking the door behind me. I climbed into bed with them and my youngest daughter grabbed onto my arm.
Eyes closed and mostly asleep still, she whispered, “Dad’s been having temper tantrums all day.” I kissed her downy head and put my free arm across the others, trying to stop shaking so I wouldn’t wake them all.

Stories No. 5:: Lunar Eclipse

Just three stories this week but I think when you read this trio together, you will agree that there is a strong feminine energy this week. Appropriate, I think for this week’s prompt.
Happy reading.

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Blocked
deb y felio

She watched the milky leaf slowly dissipate as she sipped her latte and watched him continue his involvement with the twitter debate on internet neutrality – a subject on which no one had proved neutral.

“There’s an incredible miracle thing happening this week,” she offered, “a blood moon blue moon lunar eclipse – three things at once. Do you want to make an early morning trip up to the mountains to see it?”

His brows made that disbelieving “Really?” arch as he reluctantly broke away from his phone. “Sure, sounds great,” followed by a ‘too busy for this’ yawn.

“Oh, this will be fun,” she began.

“But you know,” he interrupted, and she heard that familiar ‘little lady let me tell you something’ tone, as he continued then mansplaining all the Wikipedia facts about blue moons and blood moons and how there really weren’t any miracles occurring but just a series of events coinciding and on and on and on.

Once again she was totally eclipsed.

====================================================

Beneath the Moon
Linda M. Crate

It was the day of the lunar eclipse which meant that Kogenta would leave behind the underwater realm that so many merfolk held near and dear to their hearts because she wanted to see the moon above the water.

Many warned her to never go to the surface because humans could be dangerous animals, but couldn’t any animal be dangerous? Even inanimate objects like ships and rocks could be dangerous, after all, and Kogenta always made sure she slipped away before any curious humans could follow her. She swam in depths that most would drown in, she knew how to protect herself if need be.

She was born beneath a full moon and always felt a strong connection with her moon mother. She would always come out during a full moon much to the chagrin of her people. They insisted that princess, no matter how grown, should not risk their lives so foolishly to indulge in childish whims and fantasy.

But she found they rather lacked imagination or interesting conversations of topic. They only wanted to talk about currents, shipwrecks, and marriage. She knew there was much more to life than merely those things.

Kogenta thought they could speak to her of rainbows, of the things she learned from history books, their grandparent’s history, the color of their favorite dream or what color they saw when they closed their eyes. Because she always saw gold when she closed her eyes to sleep at night before she drifted away to some strange, unfamiliar place which was weird to her when she woke. Perhaps, it made sense whilst she was slipping. She only ever remembered her dreams sometimes and those that she did remember didn’t really fashion themselves in any semblance of reality she had ever known.

The merfolk were a superstitious and cautious peoples for the most part. But she was brave and sometimes a little reckless.

Kogenta was once told if she got herself hurt or injured because of her escapades that it would break her parents hearts, and she was selfish for wanting to explore a realm outside of the life she’d always known.

She didn’t think curiosity was something that was sinful. Kogenta swam hurriedly to the surface. There was a large rock, and she pulled herself up on top of it. She gazed at the spell of the moonlight that fell upon her flesh, and smiled heartily.

Her black eyes gazed at the moon lovingly. Yes, this was beautiful.

At least she could look at a lunar eclipse. The other eclipse was harmful for the eyes if one should look at it, and so she was forbidden as a princess to leave the castle. It had been rather boring, but this was amazing. The moon had always been so lovely.

Kogenta wished she could understand the unspoken words of the moon the way that poets and dreamers seemed to. Maybe one day the moon would give her a secret that was hers alone to hold, she mused.

===================================================


Week 4: Stories

This week’s prompt, if you will recall, was the color blue.
What I like about this project, besides for providing writers (including myself) with such an opportunity, is how despite using the same prompt, all the stories are so unique.
This week we had three different submissions (along with my own). I chose the color blue because it has such significance in our language, such weight. Debbie Felio’s short piece illustrates this point exactly with her story that doubles as a poem. Jonah Jones‘ story is as philosophical as it is humorous. And Dennis Leneave‘s title alone combines the two most common associations with the color blue, sky and eyes, to carry us readers along through the lives of his characters.
And as for my own story, well, all I can say is that I enjoyed writing it and I am glad to have it read in company with the others.
Happy reading.
=========================================
Untitled
by deb y felio

Blue
is

the promise in

                       toddler eyes

                       cloudless skies

                       sapphires

                       flames in fires

                       deep seas

                       suede shoes

                       jazz tunes

                       summer berries

the pain in

                      fresh bruises

                      veined skin

                      police lines

                      divided states

                      moods

                      cold lips

                      fingertips

me and you.

                                                        
==========================================================================

The Division Between Blue and Blue

by Jonah Jones

The observer watched the seagull as it carved the wind; black against the blue sky, white against the blue sea.   The observer’s logic stated that the seagull must be grey when it was on the horizon between the two kinds of blue.  The transformation should be observable.  The observer manipulated the position of his eyes to catch that fleeting moment and discovered that the logic had been flawed.  On the unreal mark between blue and blue, the bird disappeared.  The observer moved his head to find the bird, crouched and then stood tall, looked this way and that but the creature was no longer there to be observed.

The observer had pushed the bird out of existence simply by manipulating the means of observation.  This was a wonderment indeed.  The observer stood and looked around at all the empty blue and began to make his way home, contemplating the possibilities of what had happened.  After much mental juxtapositioning of fact and causality, the observer came to the conclusion that existence depended upon existence being observed.

Just before the seagull’s unquestionably real guano hit the top of the observer’s head, the shock of which caused the observer’s heart to stop and his existence to end.

The seagull flew on, not wondering about anything, simply observing.

 

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THE GIRL WITH THE SKY BLUE EYES
Dennis Leneave

 

She came from a prosperous planters family. They farmed a couple hundred acres of rich bottom land that straddled both sides of good luck creek 4 miles north of Berea Kentucky. She had a fair complexion and fine light wavy hair. She had all the vigor and beauty of youth. She had hands like all country girls that were as equally skilled at threading a needle as they were at wringing a chickens neck. She had two older brothers Eugene and Buck and her younger sisters Judy and Beatsie. Her daddy was Alexander Johnson, named after his daddy who was named after his daddy and his before that all the way back to the son of Philip of Macedon or so you would’ve thought. Her mother died of scarlet fever when she was 13 and was buried in a grove of red buds on a bluff overlooking the farm.

He was from the hills and hollers of southern Rockcastle County. His family had a homestead log cabin above Hard Luck Creek a mile south of Big Hill. He was 18 years old and had black thick coarse hair like all melungeons of Hunish descent. He kept it trimmed in a flat top so perfect it felt like a horse brush if you passed your hand across it. He was tall and lean to the point of being almost gaunt, just like all the hill people of Southeast Kentucky. He had dark deep set sad eyes and a dark complexion. His limbs while thin, were long and possessed strength that only hardship and toil can bestow. His father’s father rode with Mosby’ s Raiders under the direction of John Bell Hood. He and his brothers carried shotguns everywhere they went and occasionally a pistol. In this part of middle America the civil war still hadn’t ended. It was 1942.

No one knows how it happened but Ruth Evelynn Johnson became “with child”.

“Daddy” Johnson, as we all came to know him was furious. They called it throwing a Johnson fit and if you ever were the recipient of a Johnson fit,  it wasn’t a lesson you quickly forgot! It was all the men of the town could do to stop daddy from riding with his hired hands to Big Hill to kill the hood, John B Hunman.

It was Everette’s idea to send them north.

John B told Everette, his brother, he reckoned to make Evelyn his wife. This was accomplished through a great uncle who was justice of the county. Everette told John B, go to Ohio. There’s factories there that will pay a man 2 dollars an hour. With the war going on there’s plenty of work and overtime pay at one and half times your wage. Go! Leave us here to filter the coal dust,  besides we don’t need Daddy Johnson here throwing no damn fits!

She bore him 7 more children. He brought her home to Daddy one weekend a month for the rest of his life. Traveling the Dixie Highway. He retired from that factory 50 years later and died the next year. He had bought her a house on a little farm with a vegetable garden and chickens, an apple orchard and grape arbor, a strawberry patch, 3 peach trees and 2 pear. She created and raised his family.

At the funeral Daddy Johnson still alive and in his 90s refused to sit and demanded he help bear the casket of that hood John B Hunman.

Evelyn lived another 10 years and when she died her grandson found this piece of paper tucked away in a scrap book photo album. Yellowed with age and the simple typed heading that read.

                BEREA CHURCH OF GOD

                   34 E MONMOUTH ST.

Scribbled in pencil below it said…..
I came to this dance
Surprise surprise
The boys from the holler
Don’t tell no lies
Girls a plenty
Standin in line
Everette lit the punch bowl
With our finest shine
The moon came full
I seen it rise
Then I saw you
With your sky blue eyes
I asked you to dance
You kicked real fine
I’ll be back next moon
To make you mine

==================================================================

Cyanopsia
Tiffany Key

He only liked blue-eyed girls. This was something a mutual friend told me, gently telling me that I stood no chance. It made sense, I thought, as looking into his eyes was like flying across the clearest of skies. It only seemed fair that if you gave someone such an experience you would want the same in return.
So I went to the surgeon, the one I had heard about, and browsed through his catalogue. There were two options, either to dye the iris through a series of injections or to do a complete transplant. Next to the receptionist’s desk, there was a glass freezer case with donor eyes on display. There were some really beautiful pairs but the blue ones were the most expensive. And there was a waiting list, the receptionist told me. If I added my name, I would be number fifty-six. It could take over a year.
After considering this for a few minutes, I made an appointment for my first dyeing session the following day. I went ahead and selected a gorgeous topaz hue that was guaranteed to sparkle in the sunlight.
Naturally, I was nervous. I am not a fan of needles and hate anything coming into contact with my eyeballs, even eye drops make me cringe. But he was worth it. So I took some Valium and laid down on the paper-covered doctor’s table.
The doctor apologized afterward. He sneezed, the needle slipped. He assured me that it would get better, that the blue-tinted vision would fade. And when it did, I could return for another session.
But it never did and now my world is blue but my eyes remain unappealingly brown. I feel as though I am living in my own private sea and it is lonely. I still manage to go through my days as I always have but I cannot escape the truth of our vulnerability, that our reality can be altered so easily. No one else knows about failed dye job but everyone, even he, has noticed my low spirits. I have tried to describe to them how futile it is to depend on the seen world, that what we perceive to be true is subject to corruption. But philosophical topics are not very popular in my crowd so I have learned to keep my silence.
Luckily, I will be back to my old self soon enough. You see, the good thing though about that little sneeze is that my name got bumped up to the top of the waiting list. By this time next month, that sapphire pair on the top shelf will belong to me. I even got a coupon. Buy one, get one free.

 

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