Saturday, August 31, 2013

This is Home

President Obama Ice Cream 2 by pennstatenews
President Obama Ice Cream 2, a photo by pennstatenews on Flickr.
Sitting underneath the stars, hearing the whirr of traffic just a few feet beyond the parking lot, balancing on the grey, pebbly picnic bench, I realize how much I have. 

There's a cup of ice cream in my hand, luscious folds of half-melted creamy stuff in white and deep fudge brown mingling among the peanut clusters, and I dig in with just the tip of my plastic spoon, catching a tiny 1/4 bite on my tongue, letting it melt and squish around my teeth as the sweet creaminess sinks into my tongue.

Around me are the voices of loved ones. Parents sitting side by side, each licking an ice cream cone. Dad has frozen yogurt because he's on a diet, and Mom says hers is healthy because it has cherries. Maraschino cherries. My brother and his friend ordered the usual double scoops, as much ice cream as the cone will hold without the whole thing toppling onto the warm cement. It takes them eons to lick them down to a manageable size. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sydney's Fairies

glow by theloushe

"Did my fishies go to Heaven, Mommy?"

"Umm, well, I think they probably went to a giant fishbowl in the sky, dear."

"I hope they're happy there. I don't think there could be any yucky green stuff in the water there. And maybe they'll have wings. Do you think they could fly, Mommy?"

"Maybe, honey, maybe. Now get into bed."

"I don't want to go to bed. It's still bright outside. The fairies haven't come out yet."

"Oh, they haven't? What do you think a fairy looks like?"

"I don't think, Mommy. I've seen them. They're the little lights that fly over the stream in the back garden. Haven't you seen them?"

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Murder Mystery

Are you feeling lucky, punk? by Daran Kandasamy

We stared at one another across the room, two of us in genuine shock, but one in mock horror. Somebody wasn't surprised. Somebody knew exactly what had happened.

The body of Jessica McCartney, the famous novelist, lay on the Persian rug in the room next door. One of the caterers had tripped over an arm sticking out from under the coffee table. That's how they found her.

The police hadn't arrived yet, but I already knew what they'd say. It had to be one of us. None of us had a sturdy alibi, and we all had a motive.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pie Charts and Revenge: An Office Drama

You will give me a promotion!!! by rich hinton

Her work clothes were neither stylish, nor flattering. They had come off the sale rack at JC Penney's last year, casually grabbed off the hanger and piled into a scanty cart to be hauled away to a closet predominately stocked with sweat pants and oversize t-shirts. 

Regina was not cut out to be an office worker. She tended to do foolhardy things, like daydream while editing an expense record, or make friends with a particularly savage representative of the competition. Or scream and throw things at her coworkers.

"You're nothing but an arrogant pie chart. Get out of my way!"

"I am not a pie chart. If anything, I'm a bar graph."

"You're a soulless piece of corporate garbage."

"That's rather harsh."

"Dagnabit, move!"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Alone Soon

Cecily fingered the ivory parchment of the book, admiring the flowery lettering without really reading it. Her mind wandered, tempted in many directions at once. The work to be done--seeds to plant, vines to clear, preparing that venison that Rivens had just shot this morning--then she stopped as if her mind had run straight into a stone wall and she was left reeling from the impact. She wouldn't be here much longer. What good could working do? The Hall would be snatched up by the woman who had already done so much to ruin everything, and Cecily would be alone, alone again. Because she couldn't stay with Jevan and Rivens. She had lived a lie long enough.

For nearly a year now they had shared the estate. Sometimes they had hated one another, sometimes they realized they were all each had in the world. But Cecily was always alone, in a way, separated by her guilt, her fear. All those warnings she'd not heeded, the dreams she'd pursued pell-mell, the heartache and destruction and pain and brokenness she'd caused. She was a monster, and the thing was that nobody knew it. They thought she was a loyal friend, a sweet girl, a beautiful woman, a tragically misunderstood person who had changed for the better. Ha. Can anyone really change? There's no changing the past.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Picnic Table, Throwing Knives, and Childhood

There's an old target in our yard, rain lashed over the years so that the paint is worn down to a skin-thin layer. Years of sun have burned away the colorful concentric circles around each red bullseye. 

It once was our picnic table, the one that sat on the back deck of our old house. On the rare occasions when it snowed, my brother and I would make snow angels on top of it. We could fit a couple of them on there since we were so small. Years ago it had been replaced in its capacity as a table, but frugal Dad wouldn't let it go to waste. (He's the one who saves every plastic container that comes into our home to re-purpose as a nail, battery, or drill bit holder.) He believed in upcycling way before Thornton Kay. So the old picnic table was upcycled into an archery target for my brother and me. We'd been using hay bales, which didn't offer much of a challenge, and then a block of Styrofoam which crumbled all over the yard. This was much better: Dad erected it in the yard, leaning it up against a tree with the spray-painted tabletop serving as a lovely target.

We were budding archers, destined for the Olympics, the battlefield, or Sherwood forest, depending on the day and weather. My little brother liked to practice wearing camo, whereas I preferred my Robin Hood-esque cape that flowed majestically behind me when I strode over to wrench my arrows from the bullseye (which I'll admit didn't happen too often).

Monday, July 15, 2013

Waiting for Britain

My practice from The Write Practice prompt: Write for fifteen minutes about a time of anticipation.

I stand still in the middle of my bedroom, looking at the piles of clothes without really seeing them, feeling a giddy, pleasant, but slightly sickening tremor in my heart. The empty red suitcase lays on my bed, and the embossed letters on a blue passport wink at me in the morning sunlight. I'm going to Britain. It's really happening. The trip of a lifetime--the one I'd been saving for since I was 11--is finally coming. Tomorrow I'll board a plane headed for Manchester, and the green fields of England will be waiting for me.

british_airways where do you want to... by bedharak
british_airways where do you want to..., a photo by bedharak on Flickr.
What will also be waiting for me is customs, that frightening ordeal that I've heard about but never experienced. I picture myself running a savage gauntlet with my luggage in tow, standing in a line three miles long before finally coming to a booth where a woman with a sour face and a strong German accent will interrogate me, stamping a big red "X" across my passport and shouting at me to go back to the States where I belong. Why she has a German accent I have no idea, but it does a good job of scaring the living daylights out of me.

Hairbrush. Toothpaste. Shampoo. Stick to the basics. Don't worry about what will happen on the other side.

I pick up a guidebook to England and flip through it for the thousandth time, relishing every photograph, underlining a few more things, making note of prices. 

T-shirts. Sweater. How many pairs of shoes?