Tag Archives: fiction

Not a Tale for Children

Recently, I had to make a decision about whether or not to call Child Protective Services. The boy involved is a smart boy. He is not a troublemaker. The people who needed to be reported were the boy’s parents who left him, alone, without any organized adult supervision for several days. In the end, I decided not to do it, but I have fretted over this decision every day since. This is my way of working it out a little.


Not a Tale for Children

His face is not a face. It is an onion to be peeled, a puzzle to be pieced together. His pain is so deep under the surface even he cannot find the center, the source. He remembers very little, but he recalls two sets of hands. The woman’s hands first: long, slender fingers pointing to her chest, and a heart beating there. These hands lifted him when he was tired and could walk no further; these hands ruffled his locks even when he hadn’t bathed; these hands felt like sunshine warming his knee.

The other hands were different. Those hands had fingernails sharpened to claws. Those hands had scarred knuckles. Those hands smelled metallic and gripped a gun with a feeling that he imagines is something close to love. He remembers bruises and fists and, finally, he remembers no hands at all.

He remembers the smell of grass vaguely, but then he is not sure. Maybe he is recalling warm bread with apricot jam, or the scent behind a baby’s knees, or the memory of a thick yellow comforter on a soft bed. A real bed. A place to rest a body or a head.

He remembers he used to have wings, feathers that extended from the center of his back, in the place where his shoulder blades met. His wings were eggshell-colored and silky, too — of this he is certain.

He remembers the day his wings caught fire.

It was the twenty-seventh day after they noticed the wind had stopped moving across the land. Twenty-seven days since the last orange butterfly visited the blue flowers that puffed out purple tongues. On that day, he felt a fist of fire cracking its way up his back and then his wings — which he had always been taught to believe could fly him away from the cracking cement and the muffled rumbling in the distance, the rubble — his beautiful wings turned brown and curled into wispy tendrils of dust.

It had not been a slow burning. His wings exploded into flame and the air around him turned brown and green. He remembers the smell of burning flesh.

Because he was ashamed of his loss, he hid for five days, coming out only at night to scavenge amidst the wreckage, searching for marshmallows and sunflower seeds and bits of cheese. After a while, he forgot what he was hiding for and emerged, small and pigeon-toed. Amazingly, no-one seemed to notice that his wings were gone. Tall, crooked shadows curved over his tiny frame and then rushed past, leaving him questioning if he had ever had them in the first place.

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Come Read My Fiction About the Whatchamacallit

I am a finalist in Pegoleg’s Peg-o-Clio Award. Seriously, I entered a short piece of fiction inspired by a picture that she posted, and I made it to the finals. I would love it if you would check out the entries and then VOTE FOR ME. Or just scroll right to the bottom and VOTE FOR ME on an act of faith. I seem to always bump up against Darla from She’s a Maineiac and K8edid, and those ladies are the bombiest! So check it out, and did I mention VOTE FOR ME! From every device in your house. Seriously. I’m going down and dirty with this one. 😉 Mainly because I’m getting killed.

Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

Thanks to all who entered to win the (soon-to-be) coveted Peg-o-Clio Award.  Your task was to craft an ad campaign to sell the following item to an unsuspecting world.

I convened a distinguished panel of judges over the weekend (being two of my sisters) for the grueling process of selecting the five finalists.  Thank you to Mary Kay and Terry for their invaluable help.

We poured our heart and souls into the process (as well as many adult beverages and some pancake syrup, judging from the stains on the printouts) and it was not easy.  We practically came to blows as each sibling championed her favorite.   We were finally able to narrow it down to five without causing any permanent rifts in the family.

Please read and vote for your favorite.

1) thesinglecell

Tired of taking tests or winning trivia games to prove your intelligence? Now you can show…

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I’m Lying About How We Met

To celebrate my 200th post the other day, I told people if they commented, I would create a new post explaining how we met. Of course, I explained, all the content would be a lie. (Especially since I don’t know most of the people who post on my blog.) So here it is: a piece of fiction to include everyone one of you who was brave enough to leave a comment. I hope you enjoy this brief digression, where I veered off-course — away from parenting and education — and went straight to fiction.

I would like to encourage people to click the highlighted names to see the work of any bloggers with whom you might not be familiar. In addition to being my cyber-friends, these people are truly great writers.

• • •

Blackwatertown and I met on a chilly day in Bratislava as we fled hand-in-hand across an icy river. We’d had to spend an uncomfortable night hiding in a chicken coop because we couldn’t find a proper hotel. Covered in feathers and fowl feces, we carefully made our way across the creaky ice. I am forever grateful that he was wiling to share his single mitten.

Mitten made by Marit Kullisade

Betsy W. and I met during our stint at Harvard Medical School at that cool bar where we stayed up late discussing the scaphoid, the lunate and the triquetrium. We bonded over our devotion to the fourteen phalanges.

Finger bones

I met Chrystal at a high-end mattress store in Savannah, Georgia where she insisted I bounce up and down at least 16 times on the Sealy to make sure the Posturepedic was really what I wanted. Of course she was right: the pillow top was too soft.

Savannah, GA

I met Ricky Anderson in 3rd grade after Chuck E. punched him in the nose on the playground. While the blood poured from his nostrils, I went in search of toilet paper to stop the oozing gush.

SaveSprinkles1234 and I met during the intermission of a really boring orchestra concert. We laughed as we met in the lobby and decided to grab a quick cup of chai and talk about the poor performance. Outside in the chilly air, Sprinkles found a cardboard box filled with abandoned kittens and insisted that she would take them all home and raise them up — and that’s exactly what she did.


Larisa and I met while we worked briefly as U.S. spies in the former Soviet Union. We were crammed inside a tiny airplane, trying to sneak into Tajikistan — under the radar, you might say. I’m probably not supposed to say that we were spies. I’m sorry, Larisa. I hope you are not a spy anymore. If you are, I have just put you into terrible danger.

Pauseandsmile and I in met at Bed, Bath & Beyond. She was clenching some fancy velvet covered hangers and told me they were well worth the investment.

I met Teri when a lost buzzard accidentally smashed against the front glass windows of her house. The ugly bird was decidedly dead, but Teri made me perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, just to be sure. It was very traumatic for everyone involved. Especially the dead buzzard, as it was early in the morning and I had not yet brushed my teeth.

Dead Buzzard by tigmund2000 @ flickr.com

While going through an odd stage in my life where I wanted to cover everything in platinum, I met E. Rumsey who helped me understand that while platinum is precious, it is not a good idea to try and cover one’s friends in the substance.

I met Amie the same day I met isrbrown. It was a warm spring morning and I had been churning butter at one of those old-fashioned country museums, talking about how everything was better in the good ole days when Amie picked up a brush began painting a fantastic mural on the floor and isrbrown sat down in a rocker and started knitting a cap. We churned and painted and knitted for hours until the good people from the museum brought us proper costumes — pretty dresses with fitted bodices and bonnets for our heads — so as to better fit in. Though we remain bitter that the museum people did not pay us for the work we did that day, we did enjoy playing dress-up.

JM Randolph was wandering around downtown SoHo smoking a cigar when some rogue ashes accidentally caught the sleeve of her shirt on fire. Hearing her screams, I pulled my ’75 Plymouth Volaré to the curb and drove her to the nearest hospital. Alas, JM proved to be extremely non-compliant and began scratching the nurses who were trying to help her. In an act of desperation, the doctors declawed her. Tragically, they removed every fingernail on JM’s right hand which is why she always wears one long white glove.

One day I was out pruning the rose bushes when I decided that I was going to give the most perfect bloom to the first person I saw passing by. And who do you think was the first person to roll by on her bike? Keenie Beanie! Okay, so I might have looked a little funny scary chasing after her with my sharp gardening shears. In fact, now that I think about it, this could help explain why she was pedaling away with so much enthusiasm, but I did eventually catch up to her and ask her if she would accept my rose. She said she would take it. If I promised not to hurt her.

D’alta and MamaSauce got into it in 7th grade. The two best gymnasts in the class, they would not stop arguing over who could make more passes on the balance beam without falling off. They had been carefully walking for over three hours without showing any signs of slowing when Marshall came over from the boys’ side and pushed them off in one fell swoop — and that was the end of that.

Jean, Lisa and I shared a chisel as we tried to escape from after school detention. Looking back at it now, we should have chosen a quieter method.

Kasey went through a science stage where she liked to experiment with different chemicals. One day while I was at her house, she told he to lie down on the couch while she put a cloth over my nose and mouth. A short while later I awoke, slightly disoriented, and asked what had happened. She simply answered: “Well, I guess we know what Chloroform does.”

Deborah the Closet Monster and I met while working as dishwashers in a fast-food restaurant in 1985. Deb refused to wash dishes and mumbled continuously about “dish-soap mermaids.” Finally, Kathy – the manager — stepped in and told Deb that she needed to pull her weight or she’d be fired. In a single act of defiance, Deb tipped over a bucket of filthy mop-water, destroying Kathy’s pink legwarmers. We all laugh about it now. Right, you two?

One day, I zigged when I should have zagged and I accidentally ended up in the men’s room of a rather swanky restaurant. Thing is, I didn’t realize I was in the men’s room until I came out of the stall and saw someone… you know… standing there. I froze. My feet simply refused to turn back or go forward. Thank goodness Clay was such a good sport about the whole thing. After we washed our hands at the sinks, we left the bathroom together and had a good laugh about it. I never thought I’d ever see him again — but he turned out to be the beekeeper from whom we purchase our fresh honey. Small world, huh?

I met writerwoman61 at a Farmer’s Market while on vacation. She taught me how to select the freshest cucumbers and told me which vendors had the freshest goods. She also told me I should always buy cucumbers in threes. So I do.

Fresh cukes.

At one point, I entered myself in a LEGO building contest to see who could create the best creation. Hundreds of people were there, but Ray Colon stood to my left and Limr stood to my right. We each had 10 minutes to sketch and one hour to build. Limr created an amazing dragon with huge wings. Ray crafted a vehicle that morphed into a really tall tower. I made an emu that carried a jewel of enchantment on his back. We all lost.

Christian Emmett and I met at a rock concert. I can’t remember the name of the band because it was that long ago, but at some point someone started passing around a joint. I could not have been older than 14 years old, but I was terrified. I didn’t want any. I looked at my friends, who were all partaking. I didn’t know what to do. Christian, a complete stranger, saw my fear and simply took the reefer out of my hand and passed it to the person sitting to his immediate right. We played footsies for the rest of the show.

Having just ended a terrible relationship, suchmeagerinsight and I found ourselves alone in Cancun, Mexico. It was a balmy evening when she started eating the entire contents of a large glass container filled with maraschino cherries while lying in her white-netted hammock. What she didn’t realize was that the cherries had been packed in liquor and she got mad-drunk on cherry juice champagne. I spent hours holding my new friend’s hair as she vomited into the toilet. People generally bond over things like that.

Larry Hehn, Becky O’Connor and I met on a Greyhound bus headed north to Massachusetts. Becky planned to see Salem to learn more about the witch trials; Larry wanted to go to Trinity Church, and I wanted to go to Fenway Park to catch a Red Sawx game. Alas, our bus overheated in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and — after waiting 17 hours for another bus to show up in sweltering summer temperatures — we decided to Rent-a-Lemon for $38 and drive the rest of the way together. We never made it. But we had a great time at Busch Gardens Amusement Park in Virgina.

After seeing Bo Derek in the movie 10, I decided to try the whole “corn-row braids thing.” After a few weeks, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake and, as I sat in on a bench the local mall crying my eyes out, Ermigal sat down next to me. I told her how I regretted my decision while she licked her vanilla & chocolate swirl ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles, and by the time she had finished her frozen treat, she selflessly offered to help me take out each and every bead and braid. It took 4 hours, but she never complained.

Some of you may have heard about how Annie, redheadstepmom and I unintentionally stopped a robbery. Redheadstepmom had an itch on her elbow, so she set her tuba case down on the curb and, as the rapscallion tried to make his getaway on foot, he stumbled over her over-sized instrument. Annie and I heard people screaming, “Stop that thief!” so we tackled the guy, giving the police just enough time to arrive on the scene, arrest the villain, and recover the stolen loot.

Jodi and Faith and I met at a barbecue for some people none of us knew. As we waited for our hot-dogs to grill, we looked at the condiments and had an exhaustive conversation about different types of mustard. Since then, we always exchange Grey Poupon for the holidays.

One winter, Educlaytion and Leanne Shirtliffe were wearing white snowsuits and lying in the snow on a curb outside of Bowness Park just 7.5 miles outside of the city center of Calgary, Canada. The two had been looking at the patterns they saw in the clouds when I tripped and fell over their legs. As I apologized profusely, Leanne laughed hysterically but Clay was all “Whaaat?” We found a nearby coffee shop to defrost and talked about “action verbs” for hours.

I would expect Val Erde to remember that we first spoke at the base of Mount Etna. But the only reason we met there was because I stalked her! I had been told I simply had to make authentic Italian calamari, so when she purchased the last octopus at the fish market and put it on ice in a big cooler, I simply could not let her go. When she stopped for that hot-dog in Sicily, I tried to swap my inexpensive Kappa knock-off tee-shirt for her box-o-seafood. Of course, she caught me red-handed. Nevertheless, she graciously invited me to her beautiful apartment where we promptly burned the octopus and overcooked the pasta.

• • •

Thanks for helping me celebrate my 200th post with some fun fiction!

How’d I do? Let me know if I forgot any details. Or if you missed out on that post, feel free to remind me how we met!