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  1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Past Contest Summer writing contest entries

    Discussion in 'Writing Contests' started by Wreybies, Jul 9, 2015.

    Post your entry for the Summer Writing Contest: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words in this thread. Your post will automatically be anonymized. Please make sure you've read the announcement thread for contest and entry details before posting.

    Entries must be posted directly within the forum post. No attachments.
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    And Then There Were Two


    “Tracy, help me look!” Sasha urged her friend. “We need a ticket for today; the thirty-first.”

    “I can't,” Tracy whined. She clutched the polka dotted backpack against her chest, doing her best to not step on the hundreds of discarded tickets on the hot summer pavement. Green ones, red ones, yellow ones; each had a big black number for when it was issued.

    “Put in on your back, Tracy. The pontoon office is going to close!”

    “But it's so heavy,” Tracy complained again, looking as if she were about to cry if pushed too hard.

    “I don't care, just do it!” Sasha ordered and held her fist stuffed with colored tickets at her. “Common, hurry. We don't have time.”

    Reluctantly, Tracy strapped the backpack and began going through the discarded tickets. She dropped them when she did not see the right date and began going through those still on the floor. “I don't see any. The funny man is going to be mad.”

    “No, he is not.” Sasha had about enough of her complaints, her voice sharp. “Just keep looking and don't stop, we don't have time. He said we would all be his friend and he would take us to his magical home if we did as he said. Don't you want that?”

    “Yes, I do!” Tracy began searching in earnest now that she remembered what was at stake. In a few moments, she called out, “I found it! But it's all crumpled-”

    “Its fine,” Sasha snatched it from her hand. “I'll go inside and say our parents told us to pick up the keys and- What's wrong?”

    Tracy reached over to her back. “My back feels sticky.” She pulled her hand out now streaked red. “Gross!” She began to clean her hands off on the tickets and pulling the backpack off but Sasha grabbed her arms, squeezing her fingers into them, and held Tracy still.

    “That hurts. Let go!” Tracy’s struggle was futile and quickly calmed down as she saw the look in Sasha’s eyes.

    “What are you doing? If someone sees us, they'll stop us and we won't be friends with the funny man!”

    “But it's all over me,” Tracy cried, the first tear cresting over her eye and running down her cheek.
    “It's just for a while, Tracy. You can wash it away in the water. Don't cry. Just wait here, alright? I'll be right back.” Seeing Tracy hunker down and hide her hands from sight, Sasha went inside the pontoon office.

    A young man, tall and blond, asked her, “Where're you parents?”

    She placed the ticket on the counter. “They said to get the keys while they unpack the car.” Sasha kept her face as straight as possible.

    He watched her queerly for a moment before acquiescing. “Alright, here you are.” He placed the keys down on the counter. “Tell them to stop by and sign in before they go out into the ocean, okay?”

    “Thank you.” Sasha was out the door by the time she said it. Seeing Tracy just as she left her, she said, “Common, let's go.”

    “Do you even know how to work a boat?” Tracy asked, dumping the bag on the deck. The polka dots were a mess of smeared red and it began to spread to the deck.

    “Yeah, you just put the keys in and you use the wheel to move after sliding this stick thing.” Tracy did as she said and the pontoon roared to life, gathering speed as it cut through the waves. “Get ready to throw it.”

    Tracy did as she was told and the backpack splashed into the ocean, leaving a red stain where it sank deep into the dark waters.

    Sasha turned the pontoon around, heading for the pier as Tracy cleaned the red marks with a cloth wet by the ocean spray.

    The pontoon hit the pier's side, giving Tracy a fright. Uncaring, Sasha shrugged, turning the motor off.

    Standing on the pier, Sasha asked, “So where were we?”

    Tracy gave her a queer look. “What do you mean?”

    “When our parents ask us where we went today.” Tracy gave Sasha an o with her mouth. “We went to the woods to play hide and seek. Daisy came with us but we couldn't find her.”

    “Which woods?”

    “The one by the park on the way from my house to yours.”

    Tracy shook her head. “We're not supposed to play there. We'll get in trouble.”

    “No, they'll be busy looking for Daisy. We did a bad thing but it won't be our fault that she's missing.”

    “Okay, I get it.” Sasha doubted Tracy. “Don't worry,” Tracy added, all too quickly. “I can do it.

    “Good.” Sasha nodded. “See you at school tomorrow?” Tracy just nodded and left for her house. Sasha did the same.

    Arriving home, her mother was there to greet her. “Sweety, did you play with Daisy today?” She asked slowly, her eyes concerned.

    Sasha bit her lip, looking away. “We were playing hide and seek.”

    “Where?”

    “In the woods by our house.”

    Her mother sighed. “Sash, you know you're not supposed- Did Daisy go home after?”

    “We tried looking for her but we couldn't find her.”

    “Oh, God... You couldn't find her?”

    “We called for her for a long time but she wouldn't come out. So Tracy decided to go home and tell her parents and I- I'm sorry, mommy.” Sasha began to cry. “We only wanted to play. We shouldn't have gone to the woods.”

    “No, baby, no. This isn't your fault.” Her mother hugged Sasha tight, whispering comforting reassurances. “We'll call Daisy's parents and go look for her. Everything will be alright.”

    Sasha did her best to keep crying but found a smile creeping on the corner of her lips for she knew that tonight the funny man would come for her and Tracy and take them both to his magical home.

    Now, all she had to do was to find a way to get rid of Tracy.
     
  3. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Dear Sister Angelica,

    Here is my apology for chasing girls at the church social. Daddy told me that I could either apologize to you or get a licking. I figure I made the right decision to be apologizing like this. I’m gonna do a bit of splaining. Daddy said that I shouldn’t have done no chasing, least not around all the grownups. He said I done wrecked the raffle when I knocked over the table holding all them tickets for the pontoon and TV consul and all. He figgers his tickets never got back in the barrel becuz he had a feeling that he was going to win this year.

    By way of splaining, I want you to know that them girls been giving me the evil eye for a lot of days now. I’ve warned them again and again, but they just kept on doing it. They been doing it in Sister Mary Joseph’s fourth grade classroom most days this year and Sister ain’t stopped them, not once, says I need to learn not to be so sensitized. They even done it once right in front of Father Driscoll during morning Mass. I bin warning them and the other boys bin talking about how I do nothing but let them get away with it.

    It’s the smiley face that got me the most riled up. They bin sneaking that face on to just about everything I got whether it be my numbers folder or my bag lunch that Mama makes me. I bin so worried about it being some kind of girl hex that I bin near beside myself. Then they showed up at the social with that hexy face on their knees, standing there grinning, pointing at their knees and laughing at me like I wasn’t gonna do nothing.

    Davey and Billie seen em do it and said right then and there ain’t you gonna do nothing about them girls putting that hex on you again. It was their grinning and pointing that got me to boiling, but they were standing behind their Daddy and he don’t like me anyway cuz I swiped some sweet tarts off the counter one time at his store. Don’t worry that I’ll go to hell or nothing cuz of it cuz I told Father Driscoll in confession and he gave me five Hail Mary’s and five Our Father’s so I think I’m good far as that goes. Do you think the chasing needs confessing or will this letter take care of it, you being a Sister and all? And I didn’t even get to eat them sweet tarts. Least I got to make them girls run for their lives like they knew what was good for them.

    If I need to confess this too I will, but I’m not so sure God would think it was a sin, me standing up for myself and all. I’m willing to say more prayers if I have to, just kinda would like to keep this tween you and me if we could and keep Father and God out of it. They both already heard the worst of me and I’m hoping I can be an altar boy next year if I can learn the Latin and all.

    I thought I could catch them hex girls outside by where the ice cream cones bin. They saw me coming and ran inside and went straight to the Gym where most of the grown-ups were talking and buying raffle tickets for all the cool stuff. My daddy is still mad that he didn’t win that consul thing with the new color TV and the hi-fi and all. He said that my knocking over the barrel gave Mr. Henderson the chance to stuff the box whatever that means becuz it was his Mama that won the thing. Daddy says she don’t even watch TV becuz she don’t see so good and don’t listen to no records becuz she don’t hear too good neither. He says Mr. Henderson wanted the consul for himself.

    Come to think of it he is the uncle of one of the hex girls that I bin chasin. Do you suppose they could have all bin in on it together, like some kinda conspiratoracy kinda thing like my Daddy says the president getting shot was with that Ozwald guy from Russia or whatever. So I don’t mind writing this letter and it’s better than a whuppin any day, but I wonder if you, being the principal and all, could look into whether the raffle was fixed like Daddy says it was.

    And while you are at it could you stop them girls from hexing me. Ain’t there some kinda rule about scribblin faces on folders and lunch bags and specially on knees or something you could do about it? Maybe Father could have them say some Hail Mary’s or something even harder.

    My Momma ain’t too happy with me neither. She said one person in the family chasin girls is more than enuf already and then she gave daddy a look like he was the one been doin it stead of me. She said I was too young to be chasin like a damn fool then daddy told her to shut up. I told Momma about the hex and she said something about girls having a spell on daddy too.

    I bin hoping that my splaining is getting through cuz I be needing you to call my daddy and tell him that I done apologized like he told me. I sure did not want to knock over the raffle barrel becuz I would have liked watching that color TV as much as daddy and getting some records to play on that hi-fi that we would have won if I hadn’t been chasing like I done. Hope you forgive me like Father said that God did about the sweet tarts. If you want any more splainin from me or something I could do that too.

    John Henry
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2015
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The Fall of Calakmul

    The air is warm with forest smells and the moon casts silver light over the leaves. Wind brushes your skin, sweeping down the mountains into the lowlands, and in the distance a whirlwind churns the jungle canopy, dull roar mingled with the cries of birds and monkeys as they scatter before it. At its center are your girls, but they're not exactly your girls now, because you know their eyes aren't their own and the teeth beneath their masks aren't bared in smiles.

    You shut everything out and lay the rectangles of blue, pink, and yellow paper in a broad circle.

    "It must be at the ball court," White Owl had said, grinning up with a face of crow's feet and brown teeth, and you cursed when she said it because you knew she didn't mean the courts in Calakmul. You'd waste time trekking through the gods-damned jungle to the old place, the place from the time before, when everyone held to the old ways and didn't have to seek out old crones in apartments above pizza parlors.

    White Owl produced a stingray spine from a drawer and you wondered who the hell kept one around, and then what good it would do you because your blood wasn't right, but White Owl clucked her tongue and told you your blood was fine. You gave her the stack of festival tickets, all you had on hand that belonged to the girls, still in your pocket from the night they were taken, and she said her words, ancient and strange, and made you recite the ball court words. Then she said get out because her show was coming on and she wanted to see it before she left town. You stumbled down the steps, into the street, and started up your rusted station wagon, driving until the jungle reclaimed the road. Then you got out and hiked the sloping curves of the mountain, the sprawling lights of Calakmul falling out of sight, leaving you with only the moon and the stars and the animals who made night their domain.

    Now you're breathing hard and suffering the slow death of one thousand insect bites in the center of the I-shaped court, sloping walls descending into the earth, one side lined with images of Tlaloc, fangs and headdresses reflecting the moon, the dot of Venus a dark spot beneath each left eye. The same star hangs above the horizon, the carvings oriented to watch it.

    Venus, herald of war, and you know the fight is coming.

    You've known it for thirteen days, since the Nagual came to Calakmul during the Uayeb festival, came like he does every year to claim tribute, and you kept your girls toward the rear of the plaza like always and drew smiley faces on their knees so they wouldn't cry. But this time the Nagual claimed them and Calakmul can shake itself to rubble for all you care, because Calakmul didn't feed your girls or put them to bed or hold them when they cried, and you're getting them back.

    You finish the circle as the whirlwind breaks through the tree line, scattering dirt and leaves, two small, shadowed figures at its center. Your girls, born minutes apart, ascend toward the ball court, conjuring stories from when you were a boy, Xbalanque and Hunahpu and their own court where they battled the underworld. Your court is sunken, mimicking their descent into Xibalba, but if you die tonight there's no rebirth for you and no coming back for your girls.

    You set the last ticket, pink, like Six Sky's dress, in a clay pot inside the circle. The stingray spine is old, cracked, but still sharp. The tip tears the meat of your palm and you grit your teeth against the pain, pulling it free and leaving a hole that gives more blood than expected, a stream of black in the moonlight. Blood drips onto the ticket, but not too much. Not so it won't burn.

    The Bic lighter has to be shielded from the wind and still takes three tries to produce more than sparks. You hold the flame to the ticket, then set it back in the pot, fire sputtering when it reaches the blood, sending up thick curls of smoke.

    Then you say the words.

    The tickets rise around you, wobbling, then steadying, then tracing the circle's perimeter as they spin through the air. Wind rushes into the ball court but doesn't penetrate the circle of paper. Your girls descend the sloped walls, dresses swirling, Six Sky in pink and Little Macaw in blue with hearts. Jaguar masks hide their faces, but their eyes make their own light, pale from behind the masks, and the moonlight shows the white of their teeth. They linger at the edge, feral.

    Six Sky reaches out for the tickets first like you knew she would, then jerks her hand back in a shower of blue sparks shouting "Taat!" Her wail mimics the cries you've heard when she falls off her skateboard, and it tugs at you, but you keep saying the words and watching the tickets and Six Sky gives up crying and charges.

    Tickets fly apart, then coalesce around her, twisting and cutting. Around Little Macaw, too, as she crosses the threshold to her sister. Speaking becomes a chore, each syllable forced out as Six Sky and Little Macaw scream and thrash in the prison of spinning tickets.

    When you're sure you can't draw breath for even a sound, sharp cracks in quick succession and the jaguar masks fall away in pieces and the tickets scatter over the rock of the court. Six Sky and Little Macaw are still, faces streaked with tears, skin scratched and bleeding, but their eyes look right and they run into your arms as you fall, a jumble of hugs and tears.

    You lay there with your girls, your life, held fast in your arms, and, faintly at first, come the vibrations from shaking Calakmul.
     
  5. Michael R. Kage
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    Michael R. Kage New Member

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    Revenge

    The lights in the room were flickering. Specks of dust rose and fell in tandem and distant thuds sent vibrations throughout the metal bed. Another attack. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Jane focused on the picture in her hand ignoring the tiny pieces of plaster raining from the ceiling. Clad in camouflage patterned fatigues with her luxuriant ponytail full of dust she was so still she might have been a statue. With one last giant blink the lights returned to their normal somber vigil and the ceiling stopped its shedding.

    The new silence was disturbed by the slow, metallic screech of the iron door.

    “Jane, are you ok?” John asked, a cloud of dust coming inside with him.

    He was wearing the same type of fatigues as her, only dirtier. Slowly, he made his way to the large metal table in the corner.

    “That last barrage knocked out some of the generators”, John paused near the table, took off his gloves and grasped the large rifle, a small grunt the only evidence of its weight, “there was a cave-in, three people didn’t get out”.

    Jane took her eyes of the picture in her hands. “What did the council say?” she asked, ignoring the sadness in his voice.

    John put the rifle back down on its perch and took a deep breath.

    “They approved the plan”, he turned towards her, “with some reservations”. He paused to gather his thoughts. “A decision was reached just before the last attack, we go in one hour”. He turned back towards the table. “You won’t be coming with us.”

    Jane let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. “This picture is all I have left of her John”. Tears were taking shape beneath her eyes as she stared at the photograph. “Mary and I were at the pontoon crossing in Bedford when the first alien asteroid hit. Dad was there with us and mom was waiting at grandma’s house on the other side.” She gulped back her tears and continued. “Dad took a picture of us on his polaroid, but he was startled just as he took it, he got the ground instead”. Jane rose from the edge of the bed, still holding the picture with one hand. “We got separated in the chaos, me and Mary, and all I have left of her is this picture, this picture with no faces. No faces aside from the smiley ones.”

    John took a bullet from the table. “I see you’re still etching them on cartridges”, his eyes studying the large round in his hand, his fingers tracing the smooth brass edges of a smiley face carving.

    “They can’t keep me here forever” Jane said with a sigh, “I want to fight.”

    John put the bullet back on the table with care and turned towards her.

    “And you will, but not now. The aliens are tough. Fast. The council didn’t think you were ready. You will not take part in this mission.” John’s face was grave, his tone low. “You think carving smiley faces on bullets will keep you alive? They won’t. “

    “I painted the smiley faces on her knees you know, just minutes before this picture was taken”, Jane said while looking at the picture with a pained face.

    “You’ll get the chance at killing aliens”, John assured her. “We’ll all get our chances at revenge.”

    Jane put the picture back in her breast pocket. “Seven years. Seven years I’ve been hiding in tunnels, training, making bullets and praying. I won’t wait any longer. I can’t.”

    “I care for you Jane”, John said with a thick voice, “you are like the sister I never had, but the council …”

    “The council or my father?” Jane interrupted, her cheeks a cherry red.

    “You know he loves you deeply.”

    “He lost her, he lost my only sister, her and mom. He lost everything.”

    “He didn’t lose you”, John mumbled as he went to the door, “we leave in an hour. Go and say your goodbyes before that.”

    Alone again, Jane wanted to scream but instead she took a deep breath. She used her sleeve to wipe the tear marks off her face and looked around the room. With three quick steps she reached the large iron locker near the bed. She opened the heavy doors and stared at the wooden chest at the bottom. Kneeling she popped the lid and started rummaging through the contents. A couple of doll heads one of them with no hair. A thick, grey winter scarf which belonged to her mother. A pair of red girls shoes, all worn out. And there, at the bottom, buried under a small mound of green, yellow and orange tickets, a black, dotted, backpack. Its corners had small holes poking out of them, and most of its dots had lost their color. She took the backpack out, her hands slowly caressing it.

    “Hello old friend” she murmured.

    The flood of memories made a few seconds seem as minutes as she examined the backpack. A distant thud echoed through the room. Shaken out of her reverie, Jane stood up and hurried to the large worktable. Fully loaded magazines quickly flew inside the backpack. When she was at the last one she examined the top bullet. A painstakingly precise carving of a smiley face was staring back at her from the side of a large .50 caliber round. Mimicking the smile, Jane shouldered the backpack, and grabbed the rifle sitting on the table. She took it with both hands, ignoring its weight and examined the huge scope on top. Satisfied she loaded with trained precision the last magazine into the rifle. She scanned the room, searching for anything that she might have forgotten. Nothing here but dust and tears, she thought. She opened the iron door and stared into the inky darkness of the tunnel.

    “I’m coming for you” she whispered. A smile crept on her face as she closed the door behind her.
     
  6. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    Fred


    The Troll was hiding behind a bush at the bottom of the garden when the young girl approached. He held his breath as long as he could until she went away. But it didn’t work.

    “I can see you y’know” she called out.

    He let out the breath and then sucked it in again, deeper this time, holding on until he was sure his lungs would burst.

    “You do know your feet are sticking out under the bush don’t you?” she said. “I can see your arm and your head, in fact I can see almost all of you, you’re not very good at hiding are you” she chuckled.

    He exhaled as quietly as he could then screwed his eyes tight shut, if breath holding didn’t work then closed eyes usually did, but he took another deep breath just for good measure.

    “Oh for goodness sake” she said and prodded him right in the middle of his stomach causing him to cry out.

    “Ow”. He rubbed his belly where the skinny little finger had poked and glared furiously at the culprit. “You wicked girl, why would you do such a thing” he grumbled.

    She sat down on the grass and crossed her legs.

    “You are a grumpy little fella aren’t you”.

    “Well you’d be grumpy too if someone prodded you unawares” he snapped. “You can’t just go around attacking people when they least expect it”.

    The girl laughed. “Well then I am most terribly sorry, though I hardly think I attacked you”.

    “Hmmmppff” said the Troll, still crossly rubbing his offended tummy. “Who are you anyway, and why can you see me?”

    The girl stopped laughing and blinked at him. “I’m Millicent, Milly for short, and what do you mean ‘why can I see you’, you’re stood right there in front of me”.

    The Troll eyed Milly curiously, made up his mind, then took a step closer. “Big folk like you don’t usually see me, not if I hold my breath and close my eyes”.

    “Is that what you were doing?” said Milly. “So that makes you invisible does it?”

    “Usually” said the Troll “but not today it would seem, so why can YOU see me”. He pointed a long knobbly finger at her.

    Milly shrugged her shoulders. “Perhaps i’m tired” she said “I often see things that others don’t, mum says its just because i’m tired and I should forget about it. Sometimes I see Lucy, Lucy’s my sister but she died ages ago, if I tell mum that i’ve seen her she starts to cry and gets angry, so I don’t tell her that anymore”.

    “I see” said the Troll and moved a little closer.

    He was almost the same height as Milly while she was sat down, so he could get a good look at her face to see what stuff she was made of. A scar ran down one side of her face, all the way down the hairline ending just below her jaw. Her hair didn’t grow so much near the scar but she made no attempt to hide it and wore her dark curls tied back. He liked that about her. He stood on tiptoes and peered into her eyes, dark green with flecks of yellow and freckles dotting her nose and cheeks. She stuck out her tongue making him frown.

    “Why are you here?” he asked. “I mean, why are you out here in the garden, I can hear music in the house, sounds like a party”.

    “It’s my birthday party” smiled Milly. “I’m 8 years old today”.

    “Then why are you out here” he asked again, eyeing her suspiciously.

    Milly sighed, “because I bumped into Lena Morrison when I was dancing and knocked all the game tickets out of her hands. I said I was sorry and that i’d help pick them up but she’s such a cow and said my new boots were cheap and horrible and that’s all I would ever be too, so I pushed her over and told her to pick up her own damn tickets, that’s when mum told me to come out here to cool off”.

    He looked down at her brown suede boots, they looked perfectly fine to him.

    “What’s your name?” she asked.

    The Troll thought for a moment. Telling her his name would mean putting his trust in one of the big folk, but he had a feeling about this one, she may be able to help him, she was special, he could feel it. So he took a chance.

    “Frank” he said, “but I prefer Fred”.

    Milly burst out laughing.

    “Well its not funny” he said “at least no funnier than Millicent”.

    “I’m sorry” she said, chuckling behind her hand, “its just... it seems a funny name for a Troll”.

    “Who said i’m a Troll” he said standing tall, “I never said I was a Troll”.

    Milly stopped laughing and suddenly became very serious. “Well of course you’re a Troll Fred, Lucy told me, she also said you’re sad because you can’t find the other Trolls, is that true Fred, i’m so very sorry if it is”.

    A door opened behind Milly and a voice called out. “Milly, you can come back in now, but no more nonsense OK”.

    Milly turned round and waived, “OK mum, i’m coming”. She stood up and straightend out her pink party dress. “I have to go now Fred, but can I see you again, I think you’re like me, and I don’t know anyone else that’s like me”.

    Fred smiled, she was the one, he was certain, he felt it from his bald head right down to his warty toes.

    “Yes Milly” he said, “I will come back, but not right away, on your 9th birthday you’ll be ready and i’ll come back then, we’ll be friends, when you’re ready”.

    Milly frowned, he didn’t think she understood, but she would, soon enough. Then he took a deep breath, squeezed his eyes tightly shut, and promptly disappeared.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  7. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    A Bit of Rain

    The wind whipped again with unseasonal spite, making the flowery lines of bunting flap violently. It sent a few napkins hurtling off tables into puddles and lifted a few summery skirts but the remaining crowd was determined. They huddled beneath the small tented areas where the cakes and sandwiches were arranged on various stands and plates, and polite ripples of chatter filtered through those who didn't want to be seen leaving because of 'a bit of rain'.

    From one end of the tent, a fuzzy microphone was tapped, alerting the crowds to an announcement. A man over dressed in a suit addressed the throng. “Hello everyone, if I could just have your attention for a moment, please. I would just like to say, once again, despite the awful weather, today has been yet another brilliant summer fête, and I would like to thank Penelope for organising it all again.”

    A flutter of applause circled the area. Penelope took the microphone and smiled broadly. “I would like to say a big thank you to Ruth and Jane who ran the tombola and raffle and everyone who donated prizes, and everyone who brought in cakes. And of course, thank you to everyone who turned up despite this beautiful British summer day!”

    She paused and waited for laughter. It came; slightly forced through shivering gritted teeth.

    Alice jumped into a puddle. It made a satisfying, squelching splash though it soaked through her boots and touched her socks. Penelope had declared she wouldn't need her wellies.

    “Urgh!” Alice cried out and quickly jumped back onto dry land. “It's all wet!”

    “Of course it's wet,” Lily replied with a bemused smile, watching her friend jump up and down on the spot. “What did you expect?”

    “Aargh!” Alice replied loudly. Lily rolled her eyes and turned her attention to Penelope's voice droning over the speakers.

    “What's she going on about a cake for?” she asked.

    “Oh that cake. She won first prize for it. She said she made it, the jam too, but she didn't really. She tried to bake one and burned it and it came out all lopsided. She swore lots and then sent my daddy out to Marks and Spencers to buy one,” she sighed heavy and raised her eyebrows. “That is the cake she entered today.”

    Lily's mouth dropped open in mock disgust. “She cheated!?”

    Alice nodded gravely, and with a theatrical flourish of her hands she put in a squeaky high pitched voice and stamped her feet. “I simply have to win the baking contest this year! I can't allow Amelia to win and lord it over me all year long again.”

    Lily giggled.

    “How much longer do you reckon she's going to bang on for?”

    Alice shrugged. “She can talk forever.” She cast her eyes over to one of the tents that stood empty and saw the unguarded tombola. “Come on, Lily. I asked if I could pull out the tickets but she said no.”

    They crossed the damp tarmac to the tent and hurried behind a gingham covered table. A carpet of folded tickets littered the floor and threatened to turn into a blizzard at every tickle of wind that grazed over them. Alice stamped over them and pulled a plastic chair over to the table. As she scrambled up she was careful not to catch her pretty pink skirt. She'd asked to wear jeans but that too had been vetoed by Penelope who spoke in a scratchier voice than normal that morning. So in rebellion, she had drawn smiley faces on her knees. She waited to see if Penelope noticed as she packed her into the Range Rover, but she was so stressed it escaped her usual flaw seeking hawk eyes.

    Alice lent forward and spun the handle, spinning the barrel round at speed.

    “Can I have a go?” asked Lily. Alice nodded and jumped down, landing in the sea of used up tickets.

    As she did so, she heard her name spat in anger. She looked up sharply and saw Penelope, dipping her head and storming into the tent.

    “Uh oh,” breathed Lily. “The dragon is angry!”

    Alice pressed her lips together to hide any hint of a smile.

    “What on earth are you doing? Look at the mess you've made!” Penelope hissed and pointing with sharp, jarring fingers at the floor. Alice looked down, puzzled.

    “I didn't do that!” she said indignantly. “It was like that when I got here!”

    Penelope let out a long, slow sigh and narrowed her eyes. “I asked you to play quietly and keep out of trouble.”

    “I was! I was only playing with Lily...”

    “Lily, Lily, Lily!” Penelope scoffed. “Enough of this Lily nonsense!” Penelope said, a little louder than she expected. She looked quickly around and then crouched in front of Alice, taking hold of her little shoulders. “How many times have I got to tell you? There is no Lily. You're far too old to be playing with imaginary friends, Alice.”

    Alice jiggled her small frame free and with a dignity beyond her years, brushed herself down while holding steady, steely eye contact with her step mother.

    “Lily is real,” she said firmly.

    Penelope pressed a hand to her forehead. “Alice, you're giving me a headache. We can talk about this when we get home. Please go and get in the car. I don't want any more back chat.”

    Lily pressed a hand to her forehead and shook her head, turning the corners of her mouth down as she did so. Alice couldn't hide that smirk and was quickly ushered away by Penelope, who suddenly waved magnanimously at her fête friends as she guided Alice sharply across the wet tarmac of the car park. She noticed Alice turn and wave, and feeling a little uneasy, she looked back over her shoulder. In the corner, among the damp raffle confetti that littered the floor, a flurry of wind lifted some up, as though a little foot had kicked them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  8. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Painted Lady


    Mummy is the painted lady. Mummy is a blue lady, a black lady with green eyes, red lips, pink feet. Who can say! I think every colour of the rainbow shines on my mummy. People say she is colourful, ‘a colourful woman,’ says the doctor. Her hair: you do not need to know what colour that is - I’d be wrong, probably. But her hair is not grey hair, and reaches down to that first painting at her throat. A shark plays with his


    ‘Dolphin chum - on the end of the nose, a mouth wide open to kiss him gently…’


    ‘Nice,’ I say.


    ‘All at sea,’ says mummy, says these words about her painting. ‘Still quite poetic,’ she says, and ‘this one! That bloody fool,’ she says.


    Then, further down her chest, Mum wears prickly barbed wire tied up in red roses. Petals tumble, well everywhere, some are trapped in wire, it is exciting ‘observation,’ and meanwhile – around and around and around goes Mummy, wrapped in barbed wire.


    I like her flowers, I don’t like wire very much.


    She lies in the bathtub, and other flowers appear by magic: miracle tulips peek from under tummy button, daisies rise at ankles. I rub my chin, take it all in, talk about school and holidays and different buses. But I look at mummy. There is another inking. It takes some thinking.


    ‘Roll over,’ I say.


    On her back - a boy looks at a wall. A sad teddy bear hangs in his little hand. On the wall it says ‘Why?’ in brass bold letters. Letters drip paint. It is a painting spread high across her back, a masterpiece apparently. The boy is ‘called Banksy,’ she says.


    ‘What is the teddy bear’s name,’ I always reply.


    She never tells me this, a great mystery.


    Mum rolls in the bath, boobs float in bubbles.


    ‘Remember these,’ she says.


    I say ‘Yes, I do.’


    Then on every forearm she wears a baby’s face. Baby picture is me, of course, a photograph really, and on the other arm she wears a picture of Andrew, my brother when he was born, unfortunately. These pictures stand on the living room shelf as well, but Mummy likes to keep me:


    ‘On my arms,’ she says,


    ‘In your arms,’ I say because I am clever.


    ‘In your arms,’ she says, and hugs the bath sponge.


    ‘He is your tiny boyfriend,’ I say. I am funny.


    She stands up in the bath, and what a sight, like the fridge door tumbling magnets, oh my goodness, but no she is all still there: magic mummy.


    I have crayons, old lipstick. I have felt tips in a bag, and draw roses all around my neck. I look in the bathroom mirror, draw a tear falling from my eye, and carefully design a string of tears.


    ‘My sad baby,’ says Mummy. She interrupts my creating, wears a towel, comes back into our bathroom, says:


    ‘You need a needle darling. Do it properly when you’re a big girl.’ She laughs, and sounds like a witch lady in a black hat. I think she keeps a hat under the bed. Of course she does. Certainly keeps a toad in the yard.


    ‘I am a very big girl, Mummy,’ I say, look her in the eyes, wearing my new face. Well, I am a witch, you know, should make a new spell. Cat become caterpillar, mwoah hah hah hah.


    Mum drops the towel, puts on some enormous knickers - off the radiator. Over Mummy’s bottom spreads a mystic cross, the pattern flicks four corners. Mum says she does not like this tattoo, not much. Duncan made it late at night, she says,


    ‘Off his head.’ she says.


    ‘Duncan? In his Dr Marten boots,’ I say.


    ‘We don’t wear boots any more,’ she says.


    Duncan still does wearboots. I don’t know what she is talking about. And I wore Wellingtons today. And Duncan stood there in his van, outside my school - drives the most beautiful ice cream van in the whole country, calls it ‘rocket ship on wheels,’ and gave me a 99.


    ‘How’s my darling girl,’ he said. I did not see his boots.


    ‘Hello junky,’ said Sandy’s mother, and she winked at him. Her grand dad owns the Mister Whippy factory down at the dockyard. Mum told me this. Duncan is his rival, she says,


    ‘In the ice cream wars,’ and has a new painting on his van, a ‘Staffordshire bull terrier,’ he said, ‘in flight.’


    ‘See you tomorrow,’ I said.


    ‘Ten bag,’ said Sandy’s mummy. She holds her push chair by the handles. Her babies are fat.


    Mum watches television in the lounge. She cries, not real crying, it is TV crying, she tells me like watching Frozen or Lion King when the monkey dies. I tip-toe past her, up the stairs, socks, squeaky floor boards under my cotton feet, creep along the landing, into mother’s own artistic studio, only to look – at her things, designs on weasels, jewellery in the shell boxes. Next to boxes - hangs the needle machine on its cable line, a beautiful toy. Mum has so many pretty paintings on her body and I sit in the chair like Mummy does. Duncan’s leather jacket still hangs - on the hook by the dresser. I turn on the electricity at the wall, and hold it, the gun, sit down once more, feel buzzing down my thigh, my leg; a wand, magic pencil. Scratches a little bit, sewing on my skin, but I have stopped crying like Mummy stopped crying when Duncan left us to go to war, because at least -smiles are drawn on both my kneecaps. I shall put them back together again. I push my knees together, they kiss. Then they look up at me. Mummy and Duncan smile on me, together on my kneecaps, a little sore, yes, my parents, and Duncan dribbles blood like, well, like blood of course. I’m not a baby.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Even Odds

    “Step inside girls,” said the shabbily dressed man. “Zoltar knows all.” A red glow flickered inside the tent.

    “Let’s go in,” Maddie said, tugging on her older sister’s arm.

    “It’s a waste of money. Everything here is a waste of money, rigged games, crummy rides, bad food, typical Scottish funfair,” Elise complained. “Let’s ride the Doom Coaster and go home.”

    A group of older kids walked by laughing and chatting. Distant screams of people on rides and carnival barkers coaxing customers reverberated around them. Rasping of metal on metal and the rumble of ride engines thrummed in the background, the smell of their exhaust not so strong here.

    “Come on Elise, please? It’s only 50p.” Without waiting for an answer, Maddie slipped into the tent.

    “Whatever.” Elise followed.

    Thick tent drapes closed behind the girls dulling the cacophony outside. The sound of Maddie’s boots hitting the wooden floor echoed, making the space feel larger inside than it looked outside.

    The fortune-telling machine loomed larger as they approached it. Letters above the window on the booth blinked: “Zoltar Speaks”. The light cast eerie shadows around them. Behind the glass, Zoltar’s black eyes stared out. His face, lit from below looked devilishly creepy.

    Maddie dug a 50p coin from her backpack and dropped it in the slot.

    Music blared. They both jumped back. Zoltar’s eyes lit up flashing fiery red. His head tilted back with his jaw staying in place so his mouth opened. A bell rang, a growl-like breath sounded. Words to the right of his head lit: “Aim ramp at Zoltar’s mouth.”

    Maddie turned a handle on the front of the box moving the ramp.

    Zoltar’s head rocked back and forth making the growling breathing noises each time his mouth opened. Another light on the front lit up: “Zoltar says, ask your question.”

    “Are all the games rigged?” Maddie asked, giggling. “Let’s see if he answers that.”

    More creepy music played, more bells rang. The words to the left of Zoltar’s head lit: “Press red button to release coin.”

    Maddie pushed the button. Her coin rolled down the ramp and flew into Zoltar’s mouth. Once more his head rocked, a final bell rang, and a card popped out of a slot below the window. The head settled into its original position and the lights went out leaving just the dim red glow and the blinking “Zoltar Speaks” sign.

    Maddie read the card:

    “Buy two tickets in the pontoon game, the money prize you will claim.”​

    Elise rolled her eyes. “Nonsense! You saw the paper tickets on the ground. No odd numbers, you can’t get twenty-one. They never pay out the money prize.”

    The girls left the tent when the man ushered more people through the entrance.


    “But he answered my question. How did he know?” Maddie insisted.

    “Honestly, Maddie! It wasn’t even a real person,” Elise continued arguing as they headed for the pontoon game. “That answer fits a dozen questions. The cards are meant to get people to spend more money.”

    “I’m going to buy two tickets. It’s only 40p and if you get twenty-one it pays £21.”

    "It’s your money,” Elise said. “But after that, it’s the Doom Coaster and we leave.”


    Maddie fiddled with the card turning it over and over as they waited in line at the game window. “Look! There’s more writing on the card!”

    ”Let me see,” Elise said, yanking the card out of her sister’s hand.

    “Think twice. Winners pay a price.”​

    “Some kind of disappearing ink, just another trick,” Elise said. “It’s silly. Of course there’s a price; the tickets aren’t free.”

    Maddie hesitated then pushed her money through the ticket window to the burly man inside. He pushed two folded papers back, one pink and one blue. Carefully tearing the papers open, she saw two numbers that added up to twenty-one. Maddie squealed with joy.


    Walking to the coaster, the smells drifted from hot sugar to wet hay to cigarettes. Brightly colored clowns and acrobats passed on their way to the circus tent. A bored man dressed in brown and gray traded customers’ money for balls to toss at milk bottles no doubt too heavy to knock over. Music blared from loud speakers interrupted by an announcement the circus act would soon begin.

    A man appearing from nowhere clutched Maddie’s arm. “Buy me a bun? Please, I haven’t eaten,” he said.

    She jerked her arm loose and the girls hurried away.


    Standing in line for the coaster, Maddie saw new words on the card:

    “Car 22 will take your breath, car 21 will cause your death,”​

    She handed the card to Elise. “I don’t want to get on the coaster,” Maddie said, trying to pull Elise out of the line.

    “It’s another trick. Don’t be so gullible. I wanted to ride the coaster since we got here.”

    “Look!” Maddie pointed to the car in front as their turn came up to get in. “It’s number twenty, that means this car is number twenty-one!”

    She turned to leave but Elise held her arm.

    “There is no car twenty-one, kid.” A scruffy looking man held his hand out for their tickets. “All the cars have even numbers.”

    “Told ya. Now will you relax? That Zoltar thing’s just a machine. Everything on that card is a coincidence, that’s all.”

    The man pulled their seatbelts tight. “Keep yer hands and feet inside.”

    The wooden track clacked under the car as it climbed with jerking motions.

    Maddie looked at the card still in her hand just as they crested the top:

    “You didn’t buy the man a bun, car 22 will change into car 21.”​

    Both girls screamed in terror.


    Carnival noises sounded distantly. Paper pontoon tickets littered the ground. Two sisters, one ten, one twelve, waited to be picked up by their father.

    “I never want to come here again,” the younger girl said.

    “Me neither,” said Elise.

    A car pulled up. “Look!” Elise cried. “The plate on Dad’s car! It has twenty-one on it!”
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  10. BookLover
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    Freedom and Responsibility

    I straighten up the quiet corner, shelving books, fluffing beanbags, and draping the netted canopy over the pillows. As I bask in the warm light from the window, I flip through a picture book. I tell people I went into teaching because I love children, but the truth is I went into teaching because I loved being a child. I only enjoy this classroom when it’s empty.

    Right now, the children are at their morning recess, and I’m alone. The last day of school means a fair and a noon dismissal. The last day of school means the end of my career.

    At the art center I refill the paints and clip some fresh paper to the easels. I paint a yellow sun. I’m lost for a moment in the smooth feel of the paint gliding across the paper before I come back and crumple the page. It’s not my time to play. I need to prepare.

    At the sensory tub, I hide plastic dinosaurs under the blue sand, running my fingers through it’s glorious silky softness. Everything is in place now. The blocks are all aligned. The chairs are all pushed in.

    I’m leaving it all after today. The next teacher can have it. The circle time rug, the laminated calendar pieces, the word wall, the plastic alphabet letters. All hers.

    I float my hand over the empty coat racks until I notice my own skin. I’m no child. The back of my hand is wrinkled with sun spots and curled with arthritis.

    I use my weathered hands to line up the prize tickets. Blue, pink, and yellow. I’ve already sorted the prizes into their respective buckets. Yellow prizes are stickers and tops. Pink prizes are glitter tattoos and finger puppets. Blue prizes are necklaces and, my favorite, plastic parachute men. I unwrap one and feel the thin plastic between my fingers. Yes, this is why I became a teacher.

    I should have chosen a different career, but when I was young, I thought loving childish things meant I’d love teaching. To be surrounded by childhood would equate to a lifetime of fun. How wrong I was. To be the only adult in a room full of children means quite the opposite. I don’t play with the toys; I buy the toys. I set up the toys. I supervise the children with the toys.

    I have two minutes to finish the day’s preparations when a man in a suit barges through the door.

    “I’m Jason’s father. What's this, you’re holding him back a year?”

    “Ah, the father. Your ex told me all about you.” I turn my back on him to click on the computers. “Funny I’m only meeting you now, on the last day of school.”

    “You have to allow my son into first grade!”

    “Jason can barely write his own name. He won’t succeed in first grade.”

    “Because of you! I hear you’re retiring. Good! Teachers like you should leave. You’re burnt out, and you’re failing the children.”

    I spin on my heels. “I worked with Jason as much as humanly possible five days a week. You see him once a month! Do you know how many children I have this year in my class? Twenty-eight. Last year I had thirty. You are responsible for one. One!”

    The principal comes around the corner and stands near me, his arms crossed. Thankfully, he leads Jason’s father away right as the children begin to stumble in. Hannah is holding hands with Tori. It’s like a child version of the Odd Couple. Hannah with her glasses and her polka dotted backpack, such a sweet, smart girl. And then Tori with her crazy hair and that wild grin, such a devious little sprite. I see her mother has let her use ink on her skin again. Smiley faces on her knees, long lines penned down her arms. How appropriate.

    I get the class seated and start the morning routine. Pledge of Allegiance. Morning announcements. Even the last day of school needs structure. I try to keep things as normal as possible until eleven. Then we line up and head outside where I set up the prize booth. It’s my duty to collect the tickets and dole out prizes while simultaneously surveying the blacktop.

    One more hour.

    Tickets. Tickets. Prizes. Prizes. The day rolls on. Oh no. There’s a problem on the slide. One child is blocking it up.

    “Hannah.”

    She’s near my booth and hops right over.

    “I have a very big job for you. Watch the booth, and pass out prizes. Can you do that?”

    “Yes, Ma'am.”

    Tori saunters up next to her. This could be bad, but no other teacher is addressing the slide issue. I’ll only be gone a moment.

    There. The slide is once again functioning fluidly.

    I walk back to my table, but what is this? Chaos. Prizes dumped. Tickets all over the ground. Tori is throwing handfuls of them into the air, and Hannah is crying.

    “I tried to stop her,” cries Hannah.

    I’m about to yell, but the bell rings. It’s noon. I’m not responsible for anyone anymore. My body is flooded with a strange feeling. Pandemonium is ensuing all around me, but I feel happy.

    I grab two of the parachute men and climb onto the table.

    “What are you doing?” asks Hannah.

    “I’m being six years old. Come here. On the table. It’s time you learn to be six too.”

    She climbs aboard and I unravel one of the parachutes for her.

    “Now throw it, like this.” I throw mine into the wind and it spins and lifts and falls to the black top. She throws hers. The wind picks it up and it sails over a tree. She laughs in a way I’ve never heard her laugh before and jumps from the table to chase after it. I climb down, my hip almost giving out, and walk to my own little parachute man.

    I’m free. I’m six years old and free.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015
  11. Woof
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    Woof Contributing Member

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    Twenty-two


    It is early morning when the girls appear. The carnival has only just begun to set up but he is there in the park, watching. He sees them arrive on bikes, bright as new pennies. They chain them up out of sight. He sees them sit on the steps; shining curls, plump cheeks, soft and cute as two little ducks. Then he watches as they chase each other through the grass, mussing each other up with the leaves, the mud.

    The nearby cafe begins to fill up. The girls stand still. Now he watches them watching: appraising the people, each other. One ruffles the other's hair and pulls her sock down from fatted calf to chubby ankle. One makes the other hold still while she draws smiley faces on her knees. He sees it all. He sees them rubbing dirt on each other's faces, and he sees them walk around the cafe tables, cap in hand; small hands, fragile smiles and sad eyes gleaning coins, cake and milkshakes.

    Then it is past noon. He sees them down by the pond, counting the spoils, sharing it between two pockets and laughing, laughing. And he sees a couple on a bench smiling, seeing only carefree childish glee and putting their hands in their pockets to offer them ice-cream. Still he watches.

    The cafe lights turn off, one by one, as the carnival lights flicker on. He sees a new world cast in bright relief against the dark sky and he sees the girls mirrored in the pond they stroll past now their day's work is done. Each one is haloed briefly by fuzzy fairy lights, softened by the glassy surface and skipping after the reflections into a darkness that swallows the edges up. Then he sees them stop.

    They have circled round to the back of the carnival: past the crescendo of screams and pulsing sweaty beats to where the generators pump out static heat into slightly-too-bright light. It looks less human than the throbbing, thumping world of whirls that persists to their right. He holds his breath, imagining an alarm will trip as they cross over the threshold, but with one carefree hop, a skip and a jump that defies the world to stop them, they are clear.

    He watches them walk. They are brazen, stalking the middle like they have always been there. He sees it all as they walk straight up to the empty caravans, try the doors and cherry-pick their way through the insides. They use lights, and he can see their charcoal silhouettes running fingers over each small thing; testing which ones will fit in their deep, apron pockets. He watches when they run straight out into the barrel chest of a man. And he sees them become small and vulnerable once more as they cry to the man about loss, fear; about trying to find someone trustworthy to help them, someone kind.

    Now he watches them go. The man has walked them back to the main field where they break into a run to lose him and his blank concerns, calling flippant thank-yous through their tongues in cheeks and laughing again. The man's face is grey confusion.

    They come back. He watches them walk the perimeter, stalk the vendors with their eyes, taking candy here, a toy there, and always so busy watching, too busy watching; he can see them calculating how to be never where the problem is.

    They see a pontoon stall. There are prizes for eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one: sweets, toys, baseball caps, and a top spec camera they want. He waits, he watches, he wonders how they will play this one. He sees them dig into their grubby pockets. He sees them bring out small change and ask how much the tickets are. He sees the vendor halt and tell them they have not got enough, and he watches the girls cast their eyes to the ground, sniff, and turn to go.

    Wait! The vendor reaches in, takes out two tickets and offers them for free. The girls smile, tear them open and frown; one has ten, one has eleven. Still, they ask, what have we won? And he watches them whilst they are told it is nothing; how they twist, and curl into piteous things that extract a lollipop each from the loss, plucking raindrops from the sky. Then he sees them press the tickets together— twenty-one— and push for yet more and curse when they cannot have it.

    He watches them walk on; it is done. He steps out into their path, reaches down and picks up an unopened ticket from the confetti trail littering the grass, spreading out from the stall. He sees them stop, wait, and recalculate. One smiles a practised smile; an iridescent shimmer like that moment when light meets water. One stands slightly back, feet pushed out and feinting shy. It is almost too beautiful, but the decision is made and he hands them the ticket, saying here, I think you missed this.

    They take it from him, ripping the perforated edges off too fast, almost tearing the number in half. He sees their faces so clearly now. He watches tiny dermal creases flash and flicker as they read what it says: twenty-two. And he smiles when they realise it is not on the prize board; he laughs when they scowl and call him stupid, and when he tells them not to worry, that they will get the special prize. Then he watches them turn and walk off, silhouetted against the night and shrinking with every step they take. He sees them start to waddle first; then their fat little arms become wings, their noses beaks, and feathers sprout from where their shoulders used to be.

    And he sees them the next day and the next as he sweeps up autumn's leaves, as fewer and fewer people come to the pond, as the swans migrate and all that's left are two little ducks, scratching for bread.
     
  12. edamame
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    Quick Getaway

    Marley was one of the last to arrive at Green Junction’s annual raffle ticket drawing and she knew it because the floor around the announcement board was already littered with discarded stubs, chewing gum wrappers, and cotton candy cones. There were three big prizes this year: a family trip to the Poconos, a year’s supply of Nestlé chocolate, and a bicycle. The powdered chocolate milk was no longer on display – a winner had claimed them – but the other trophies were being guarded until they were also claimed or until the end of the fair.

    “Excuse me, Mister.”

    The board attendant and sentry, a pimply teenager, raised one pierced eyebrow at the smiley faces Marley had drawn with magic marker on her bare knees. Then he turned his attention to a passing gaggle of girls.

    “What kid?” He asked absently. He ran his fingers through his hair when a brunette glanced his way, but awkwardly, reminding Marley of a flamingo on land.

    “I see that no one picked up the plane tickets or the Roadster 7470 yet.”

    “Nope,” the attendant answered, popping the p.

    “Could you check my entry?” Marley rummaged through her Jansport bag and peeled out her wrinkled lottery ticket between the pages of a Sherlock Holmes paperback.

    “No kid.” He smirked. “You miss the drawing when they call out your number, you don’t get a second chance.”

    “But what if I won?” Marley shook her ticket. “I’ve been doing this lottery since kindergarten. I’ve been trying so long that I know this year just has to be my year.”

    “Yeah and why’s that kid?”

    Marley closed her mouth.

    “Sorry, I can’t help you then.” He shrugged.

    “I’m moving away,” Marley blurted. “My parents are getting divorced.”

    “Oh, that’s tough. Real tough.” He shook his head in mock sympathy, then rolled his eyes. “Look, kid –”

    “Marley.”

    “Look, Marley. I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.”

    “You’ve got to.” Marley pressed her ticket against his hands which he jerked away in scorn. “I’m–I’m sure that this year—”

    “Geez, are you making her cry?” A new voice interrupted.

    Marley turned, rubbing her eyes to hide the salty evidence, and found her gaze meeting the newcomer. She was a few years older than Marley and was wearing a dress full of polka-dotted hearts -- the type of outfit Marley had always wanted. She also looked a lot like the attendant, with the same upturned nose and dry tawny-colored hair.

    “Go away dweeb,” the attendant said.

    “No way, Tony. Not if you’re making little girls cry.”

    “I’m not a little girl!” Marley interrupted and was harshly elbowed for it.

    “Shut up,” the new girl said under her breath. To the attendant she said, “I’m going to tell mom you’re being mean again, to me and to her. Then you’re going to get grounded and not get to meet your girlfriend anymore.”

    “You wouldn’t dare, Sam.” Tony turned red and Marley found he really did look like a flamingo.

    “Yes I would,” Samantha sing-songed, twisting her body to and fro. “Remember when you threw my Pollyanna in the trash and then I got so sick you had to stay home and babysit? Remember when you tried to drive dad’s car without permission and I had a nightmare and screamed so loud I woke the house up and got you busted?”

    Sam’s brother blanched.

    “Well, it could happen again,” Sam finished.

    “Oh give it to me.” Sam’s brother snatched Marley’s ticket and flipped over the top sheets of his clipboard to where he had written down the winning numbers.

    “Thanks,” Marley whispered to Sam.

    Tony had a shuttered expression as he read his own chicken scratch when he did a double take. His eyes raced back to the beginning of the sequence. “Jesus Christ!”

    “Did I win?” Marley jiggled her feet in excitement.

    “I’m going to have to call this one in.” Tony dug into his jeans' pocket for his cellphone and went behind the board for privacy.

    “Congrats.” Sam smiled.

    “I can’t believe it! I finally got it! My bike!”

    “Bike?”

    “The Roadster 7470! I’ve been dreaming of owning one since I was five.”

    “Listen, erm –”

    “Marley.”

    “Marley. I don’t think that’s –”

    Tony reappeared from behind the board. “Well the travel agent’s at the hotdog stand but he’s on his way to come and congratulate you. We’ll get a few photos in the newspaper and do some publicity.” He held out his hand for a handshake and appeared pleased to be included in the we. “You’re really lucky, Marley.”

    Marley burst into tears.

    “Jesus Christ!”

    “Geez you numbskull,” Sam said. “She must be freaking eight. What does she care about the Poconos?”

    “Hey.” Tony bent down to Marley’s height. “Do you want me to get your parents?”

    Marley sniffed and shrugged. “They don’t know I’m here.”

    “Jesus Christ!”

    “Okay,” Sam interjected. “Plan B. We switch around the tickets and give Marley the bike. Then we call her parents.”

    “I can’t do that.”

    “Sure you can.” Sam pulled out a suspicious piece of paper from her own backpack, looking a bit ashamed as she did. “I have the ticket for the bike.”

    Tony goggled. “Why didn’t you come up onstage then?!”

    “Like I want to have your goofy mug plastered next to mine in the papers.”

    “What you’re asking me to do is illegal.”

    “What, like you don’t want to go to the Poconos?”

    Marley threw herself at Sam frantically. “Let’s switch, please!”

    Reluctantly, Tony acted as lookout while the two girls exchanged tickets. No one at the fair even looked in their direction. Then a harried businessman with half a hotdog sticking out of his mouth was pushing through the crowd with a photographer and her camera in tow.

    Tony and Sam straightened their clothes.

    Marley grabbed the handles of her new bike, making a quick getaway as she waved goodbye to the siblings’ astonishment. “When you’re in the Poconos, come visit me! It’s where I’m moving!”
     
  13. Drummy49
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    Drummy49 New Member

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    Mushrooms & Rainbows

    “Why, on earth did I think it would be fun to get high on mushrooms and come to a carnival of all places?” Hector was right, this batch was outrageous; I should’ve only eaten three caps instead of five. Coming here was just plain stupid. Now, in the midst of a roaring hallucination, I only wanted to get the hell away from all these crowds.

    “Oh Jesus, her knees!” I cried out before I could stifle myself. It appeared that none of the carnival-goers had noticed my outburst. That was good. Still, I was on the verge of freaking out big time, because this crazy little girl’s knees were smiling at me. Smirking like Cheshire cats, while their beady eyes burned into my soul. What do they want? I tried regaining some composure. Knees don’t smile right? I am pretty sure they don’t anyway. I know they definitely shouldn’t be laughing at me. “It’s just the boomers talking”, I told myself.

    Sorry knees, no time for your hateful glances, I have to concentrate on escape. I had to free myself from this suffocating whirlwind of people and sound. As I planned my exit route, a man’s voice rang out abruptly from behind me.

    “Excuse me sir!” This can’t be good, I thought. I twisted around slowly, expecting to see a blue uniform, shiny badge, and dangling handcuffs. Relived, I saw it was a civilian. The voice continued, “Would you like to play in our 50/50 raffle?”

    “Raffle?”

    “Yep! There are all kinds of door prizes if you don’t end up splitting the money. It’s five dollars a ticket, how many can I get ya?”

    “Everything is pixelated when you look close enough.” I stammered nervously. The man took a sharp step back and gave me the weird eye. My gaze was wild and inscrutable.

    “Huh?” He retreated a few more feet.

    “The rainbow molecules I mean. The colored DNA strands.” I gestured at the tumbling cylinder across the hot blacktop that contained thousands of the multicolored particles. “That’s a rainbow machine right?” He gave no response, just silence. A bit panicked now, I asked, “Why are the rainbow pieces imprinted with strange hieroglyphics? Is it so they can find each other in midair again, like assembly instructions?”

    A few bystanders started to take notice of my antics, and began giving me a wide berth as well. The raffle man looked very concerned now. “Um, are you okay sir?” His tone was not cordial.

    Panic mode. My muscles tensed into a sprinting position, my mushroom dowsed mind was swirling madly. I braced myself for a chase. In that moment, while my blood surged with adrenaline and terror, I glimpsed two scabby faces of pure evil. OH MY GOD THE KNEES! My legs seized up and paralyzed, leaving me rooted to the blacktop in fear. The knees were back! Too terrified to scream, my mouth hung open in silent, gaping horror. The demon girl with the possessed knees was guarding the great rainbow machine, the knees cackled and threated maniacally. Wide-eyed, my dilated pupils glistened with dread and sensation.

    In an instant it all became clear. A shocking realization hit me. These heinous knee-things wanted to destroy rainbows forever! They had twisted, demented motives for the rainbows, and would never allow them to fill the sky with love and sunshine. Perverted bastards! They would turn rainbows into the worst thing imaginable; huge knee creatures that blotted out the horizon, wrinkly and demonic in the sky. No joyous, vibrant bands of color, but huge, crudely drawn faces of death dominating the landscape. A realm of loose skin and bloody Band-Aids. A world run by knees was not a world I wanted to live in!

    At last, my limbs unfroze and I bolted like a bat out of hell, making a beeline for the rainbow machine.

    Blurry figures were closing in on me. I ducked under flailing limbs and outstretched arms, stiff-arming my way through fleshy oppressors. Nothing was going to stop me from setting free the rainbows. My entire life had led to this. All fear was gone. Police, jail, public freak-outs; these were nothing compared to the prospect of a bleak, rainbowless world, run by soul-eating knee creatures. They would never desecrate the virgin, naked knees of a million little girls with their sickening glares. Not on my watch. I had to release them now! Better to live free as thousands of brightly colored fragments, then vanquish before the tyranny of those evil joints.

    “FOR GOD!” I cried. I lunged for the rotating cylinder and as it spun, the future of rainbows and the fate of the world rested on my shoulders. Everything was in slow motion; the moment stretched on and on, seemingly eternal.

    And then everything was moving rapidly again. My existence was a flurry of color, texture, unity, and sound. I no longer felt solid, but translucent and fleeting. But I was solid. The impact I had delivered to the rainbow apparatus had accomplished my mission. Multicolored molecules were scattered all about me, as I lay sprawled upon the hot pavement. I did it. I had set them free. Nothing else mattered. I could die here, reassured, knowing that the children I never had and their children would still know and love rainbows. There would be no Tyrannical Empire of Knee. Humanity would never suffer at the hands of diabolical Knees demons.

    From a prone position I raised my head and behold! The Knees! They were different. No longer menacing and wicked, but warm and benign. They had been transformed. It was an exorcism. My dilated eyes drifted towards the sky, not seeing, but only sensing energy, heat, and satisfaction. I smiled. I knew that Knees and I would go on in harmony together, reigning over a thousand years of peace.

    Sweet relief was I. My consciousness floated away with the summer breeze, up and up into the tangerine sky above…Man these were some great mushrooms.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2015
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