Let’s put on a show this issue, writers: the greatest show on Earth. This issue, let’s put up the big tent and see what we can do. You have 2000 words and an extended deadline, enough time and space to dazzle and wow the audience/readers. Let’s see what you can do, writers.
The heat is on.
It is heating up.
The heat is killing me.
Heat is a very diverse word, one that carries multiple meanings. And with summer revving its engine in the Northern Hemisphere, it seems like a good time to include the word in our stories for this week.
Note that the deadline for this week is Friday rather than Thursday.
Now get writing.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The director was incensed: Sheer nonsense!
—A daily game!
—Find out the meaning of this drivel! Some real conspiracy here! Find out.
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!
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!
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:
For more details, please visit the blog:
“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.
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.
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.
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
“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:
This week we only have two stories, Last Joke by returning contributor Alex Carrigan and my own. This week’s prompt was a little difficult and I admit that I almost did not meet it myself. In the end, I just took the first joke that popped up when I googled “jokes” and forced myself to write the damn story. After all, that is the whole point of this project: to get the job done no matter the circumstances.
Next week’s prompt is going to be a bit different so tune in for that (most likely Sunday evening, my time). In the meantime, enjoy the stories (and the full moon this weekend).
Reader warning: these stories contain graphic language which may offend.
Irene burst out laughing. She and Noah continued to laugh until the very end.
The girl was sitting by the curb outside of the library, her backpack beside her. The clock over the courthouse had struck six with a clang fifteen minutes earlier. She looked at the drawing of a kangaroo on the palm of her hand. The tail and ears were smudged. She spread out her fingers, determined to keep her fist open. Hearing a car approach, she looked up, hoping it was her daddy. It was not. She picked up her backpack and walked back to the library, thinking she would tell a librarian. Even though the lights were off, she pulled on the glass door. It did not move. She did not see them leave so she knocked on the door. Nothing stirred. The girl sighed and walked around to the back parking lot. It was empty. With the library and courthouse closed, nobody had any business in the small downtown.
She sat back down on the curb and began to cry. When she heard another car engine racing her way, she wiped her face quickly, forgetting the kangaroo. The girl stood up,
“Where is daddy?”, she asked as soon as her mom parked. Her mom got out of the car and went up to the girl.
“I’m sorry, honey, I know this is one of daddy’s days. But he had to work late. Like usual. He got so busy with a meeting that he forgot what time it was.”
The girl nodded.
“Oh, Gracey! What is all over your face? And your hands?” Her mom pulled out a pack of wet tissues from her bulky handbag and began wiping the purple streaks off of her face. When she tried to do the same to Grace’s hands, the girl yanked them away.
“No mom, you’ll ruin it!”
“Why did you have a kangaroo on your hand?”
“So I would remember.”
“Remember the joke. If the kangaroo is not there, I’ll forget.”
“If you like, baby, you can tell me the joke now and I will remember it for you.”
“Like how you remember things for daddy?”
“Yeah, like that.”
“Okay.” Grace looked at her hand where the kangaroo had been. “Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State building?”
Her mom tilted her head slightly, sincerely trying to figure it out. Finally, she said, “I don’t know. Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State building?”
Grace began laughing before she managed to share the punchline. “Of course it can! The Empire State building can’t jump.” They both laughed and got into the car.
“Mom? What is the Empire State Building?”
“Oh, it’s just a tall building in New York.” Grace nodded and leaned against the side of her child seat, exhausted. When her mom carried her into the house, she did not wake, lost in a dream of New York, the buildings replaced by giant kangaroos.
Hello, hello and welcome to week 12.
Yesterday, scrolling through my Vimeo feed (yes, that’s a thing) I came across this short film.
At the end of it, I thought, now that is a perfect piece of very short fiction. It revealed the characters without explanation. It had a rather traditional structure with a slightly surreal narrative. And the conclusion brings the entire piece together.
Considering the film led me to this week’s story prompt. What I would like you to do is to watch the film and write a story adaptation (the reverse of a film adaptation). Yes, this means less creative freedom it terms of story creation but such restrictions will give you a chance to really focus on the writing.
Like always, stories are due on Thursday by 8 pm EST to email@example.com.
This week’s playlist will be up tomorrow so please check in for your aural pleasure.
Hello and welcome to our eleventh week of flash fiction writing here at Mercurial Stories. This last weekend I bought a mood ring, a thin band that changes colors with my mood (okay, really it is my body temperature but it’s still pretty and entertains my students and children). I was fascinated by mood rings when I was a little child, believing it to be a real stone capable of shifting colors like the horse from the Wizard of Oz (also thought that was real).
There is something about remembering your past wonder that is intriguing so for this week’s prompt, I want you to remember something that you used to believe in as a child and write around that. You can write about your disillusionment or not but try to use your own personal, prior belief in something magic, something ridiculous (like how I used to think there was an American Indian tribe living in Walt Disney World- I was absolutely gullible). And then, like always, let the story go where it wants.
As always, 500 or less words due by Thursday 8 pm EST. Submit using whatever format suits you to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The playlist will be up tomorrow.
I look forward to seeing your stories. Now let’s get cracking.
Hello, hello and welcome to week ten.
This week our prompt has been crafted by the illustrious regular contributor Debbie Felio. She writes:
“I’ve been thinking about the prompt. Because I like twists ( have you noticed?), I could suggest “when good goes bad” – good advice, good acts, etc.(something a little more than milk in the refrigerator).”
So there’s your post, ladies and gentlemen.
When good goes bad.
I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Remember, stories are due by Thursday 8 pm EST. Submit to email@example.com.
Now get writing.
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.
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
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.”
“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.”
“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.
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!
The Locked Door
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.”
“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.