Sometimes Daddy resembled a ghost, slotting in and out the door.
Not wanting to be seen.
Other times he was all noise and hustle, bragging about being a man.
Thumping his chest.
Worst times he was a thick-bladed knife, slicing Momma and me with hateful words
until we were ten different kinds of shredded.
Most times he was more snap and shine than sharpness.

Finally, Momma went all crazy. Drew a blade of her own.
Sold Daddy’s car. Changed the locks
and threw his ratty old shoes out the door.
Set em on fire.

We got nothing but peaceful times now.

 

 

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Paper Dreams

Posted: January 9, 2019 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday/Friday is here again. Thanks, Rochelle, for posting such a pretty picture provided by Priya Bajpal. My stab at writing a 100-word story follows.

photo by Priya Bajpal

They suggested Anya write wishes on paper and put them in a jar
saying this small action would provide hope.
Selecting the color and texture of the paper
was more difficult than knowing her wishes.
Food. Water. Freedom from pain.
Small comforts. Clean sheets. Crisp gowns.

Every day Anya slipped a wish into her crystalline jar
then nestled a polished shell on top
because Father told her shells carried
luck within their curls and swales.

Skeleton thin, and calling
for water, water, water,
Mother died writhing in pain.
Anya dropped a match in the center of her wishes.

 

Today Pegman took us to Harare, Zimbabwe. Another fascinating place. Thanks, Karen and Josh, for providing prompts to stimulate our minds.

Sitting as silent as Praying Mantis, Oupa waits for me to speak.
At first, I can’t find words.
Then think, Go slowly, be steady, like Snail. No losing your temper.
“Oupa, I do not want to marry.”
“Ah, you wish to be like Anteater.”
My heart soars. “Yes! That is right. Like you, who digs deep for truth . . .”
“And prefers to be alone. Anodiwa, you have no choice. You must marry.”
“Oupa, please …” He shows me his palm. I swallow the rest of my sentence.
“Anodiwa, you do have another choice. Be Lizard who is weak or become Crocodile who has great strength.”
My copper and brass Idzila rings jangle like discordant music when I thrust my arms toward Oupa. I need say nothing,  he can read the pleading in my eyes.
“Go!”
Slowly I back out the door, feeling like Turtle, carrying her own coffin.

(Idzila are copper and brass rings worn by the bride around her arms, legs, and neck. These rings were believed to have strong powers and the wife would wear them to symbolize her bond and faithfulness to her husband once her home was built. The husband will provide this rings to the wife to show a sign of wealth. I took the liberty of placing them on Anodiwa’s arms the day of her wedding.)

 

I figured Bernard had nothing to do in this run-down out-of-sorts neighborhood
but sit on the wall, head down, fingers tapping.
Probably sex messaging.
Ruining his life one blip at a time.
Sad, he was a good-looking boy
but I had no time for a fellow digging his own grave.
I had plans.

2008 Bernard disappeared.
Likely ran away or was stabbed in a fight.
I no longer have the energy to wonder.
Too busy fending off my husband’s fists,
scrapping with my kids.

Still, there’s time to read this morning’s headline.
“Bernard Phillips Named New School Principal”

Well, I’ll be damned.

 

I’ve been reading the November issue of The Smithsonian which is filled with stories of the Holocaust. So, dear friends, this is what I came up with for Pegman’s trip to Krakow.

March 28, 1939
To provide a friend who will keep my secrets I started a diary.
Present: Mother left for France. Father joined the army.
A memory: Ten-year-old Lev playing violin.

January 10, 1940
We’ve moved into a school with boys! Sixteen-year-old girls shouldn’t be subjected to such horrors!

March 6, 1942
Horrid night. Clanking wheels. Jangling keys.
Nazis, moving people to unknown places.
Lev kissed me last week! We shared sweet caresses while spring flowers scented the air.
We shall marry when this horror is over.

June 16, 1942
The pogrom has begun. Mother! Where are you?

July 17, 1942
Except for barbed wire and guards, the ghetto is quite ordinary, filled with beloved neighbors.
But not Lev. My love, my protection disappeared on last night’s transport.
Writing squelches the pain.

August 17,1942
At dawn, soldiers marched five families toward a shallow trench.
One shot, two, twenty, on and on …
The sound of boots and laughter. Oh, God, they’re coming back.

>

An Exceptional Child

Posted: December 12, 2018 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , ,

Throughout the year, people noticed changes in the sky. Venus went missing. Then mars. Soon Neptune disappeared. Scientists met. Threw out ideas: Changes in atmospheric conditions? Shift in the earth’s rotation? Thickening of moon dust?

Mrs. Peterson was thrilled when Jimmy began spending more time in the garage, hunched over his computer, wires dangling from rafters, tape stuck here and there. Positive that he would provide the answer she let him be until a bolt of lightning shot through the roof and curiosity took over. What she saw through the window was astonishing.

“Oh, Jimmy, you must put them back!”

 

Time was, Rita loved the clickity-clackity of steel wheels on metal rails,
the long, low sound of a whistle at midnight and noon.

For many, the coal-oil scent of trains,
the sight of rails disappearing over the horizon
quickened the heart, caused feet to roam.
Not for Rita. She spread roots and settled.

Then the hoot of the whistle turned to squealing brakes.
Metal grinding on metal replaced the rhythmic clickity-clack
and an iron-scent of blood filled the air.

How many times had she told little Tom, “Keep your coins in your pocket.”?
She hefted her suitcase and locked the door.