It was by far the oddest setting she had ever experienced.  The room was full of Democrats and Republicans, energetic, idealistic youth, middle-aged mortgage holders with job woes and the calmer, slower elderly battling arthritis and other ailments. It was not her definition of an ideal party.

She watched from  her corner perch. People flowed through the kitchen, dropping off dishes full of treats as they exchanged hugs. Wine and conversation flourished. Music exploded from a nearby speaker as young cousins ran hand in hand. Doctors, Lawyers and Judges clinked glasses with waitresses, mechanics and store clerks. Drinks flowed, food disappeared and laughter grew. One by one the group migrated to the festive living room.

It was here people handed each other brightly wrapped packages. It was here they related stories of their past. It was here they passed out more hugs than gifts. It was here she realized that she was going to like the family she married into. It was here she discovered the values that shaped the man she loved. It was here that she realized she loved her new family.  It was here that her husband pulled her into the group for a hug. It was here that she realized the perfect gift didn’t have to come from a store. It was the ideal party.

Advertisements

I vividly remember a Saturday afternoon, the summer of nineteen-sixty eight. A summer I was camping with my parents. I had done something wrong, I don’t remember what, but it was enough for my usually lenient mother to send me to the trailer, and bed as punishment. After what seemed like hours, my father came to talk to me. Feeling abused and unjustly treated, I wanted to tell my side of the story to my father. I also decided to include a new phrase I had  heard around the lake in my talk. When he told me how upset my mother was, I sat up and spouted my newly learned phrase.

“Well, she didn’t need to shit a brick over it!”  I did it! I pulled out an adult phrase showing my displeasure over their actions! I felt proud and strong. Then the hammer dropped, the room fell silent, my fathers face turned to stone. I shriveled in my skin, I had done something really bad! I spent the rest of the weekend in the trailer while my friends swam.

Years later, in the fun times known as the ’70’s, I sat in my usual place at the table during a family dinner. Feeling hip and grown up, I said, “pass the potatoes dude,” to my father. Things changed so fast I could hear the tinkle of ice as it shrouded the room. Dad slammed his fork on the table and mom fixed me in her stare. I was excused from the table and learned that I could call people dude at school and play, but NOT at home. I began to see the social rules, the morals and norms that kept families together. The values that helped us navigate the world.

Then came the children of our generation. We had already tested the water,  using lingo unique to our generation. Many of these new parents didn’t want to be “un-cool.” They let their kids be kids, speak anyway they wanted, with few boundaries. They continued to evolve, using new words and giving less respect to their parents and family. This has evolved into;

Suck it
This sucks
What ev
Meh
omg
Hate

We need to teach our kids  how to speak, with respect to themselves and others. We have to stop being “cool” and be parents. I don’t want my kid uttering the word “sucks” all day. I don’t want a “what ev” when I ask t hem to empty the trash. I want them to be able to converse, spell and build healthy adult relationships. It is up to us to give them the tools and discipline. We owe it to them to teach them how to speak, listen, learn, show respect, command respect and act. We can’t sit back and let their teenage, online communication form their adulthood. We need to have as much, if not more, input in their lives as social media.

The stress gripping her heart pulsated and swelled, leaving her lips numb, her vision blurred and her hands shaking. One more problem could very well explode her brain. She remembered her grandpa’s saying, “some days you are the dog, and others, you are the fire hydrant,” but he never told her what to do when you were being pissed on for an entire month!

What else could go wrong? Her computer died, her truck had no brakes, her stereo speakers quit working, her kid needed sixty dollars for a school fee, the electric company threatened to turn off the power if they didn’t get money, her doctor left the country, leaving her without medication and her car insurance  had been canceled. Hell, even her can opener had fallen apart. On top of that she was slated to cook Thanksgiving dinner for her family.Not a problem unless your oven stopped working and you can’t afford to fix it!

There was nowhere left to turn. Money wasn’t going to fall in her lap. She couldn’t fix appliances or vehicles with magic. Her kids couldn’t get what they needed as long as she was running the show. She was deep in thought, on various ways to check out and end it when the phone rang. The schools message stiffened her spine and forced her out the door. The school had been evacuated, there was an active threat in the building. Insurance be damned, she drove to the school and paced around the building, mingling with tear-stained parents hoping for a glimpse of their child. Hours passed as she  held her stomach and made small talk.

When her kids finally walked out of the building, she realized that all she needed was them, and they her. They rest would take care of itself.

 

Crawling into bed, she pulled the covers tight and gazed out at the full moon that hung in the sky like a piece of frozen blue ice. The trees lining the walk were bare, but their icy branches sparkled and danced in the light as if they had been draped in diamonds. Tucking the blankets under her feet she poured a glass of wine, opened her book and sighed in comfort as the wind gently rattled the windows. She was in the middle of chapter four when the noise came. Soft at first, than loud and insistent. From a gentle knock on the door to a ruckus that threatened to tear door from frame! Then a moment of silence before it began again.

Rolling to her side she opened her night stand, secured her gun and sprung to her feet. She shivered from the cold, hesitating at the bedroom door as she struggled over the urge to hide or confront, especially after last time.  Her mind returned to the past, the knocks, the screams, the gun going off in her hand. She had felt she was in danger, surely anyone could see that. Anyone finding someone yelling and beating in their door at one o’clock in the morning would feel threatened. She had opened the door, he made a move into the hall, his face shrouded by a hood and her hand reacted, the gun went off. The police came, the coroner removed the body, reporters plastered grainy pictures of her terrified face.

She was acquitted, how was she to know he hadn’t come to harm her? How was she to know he was a seventeen year old boy who’s car would die, leaving him on the streets and late for curfew? How was she to know a gang of thugs had chased him for his new shoes? How was she to know he saw her outside light and ran to her for help?

How was she to know he would return night after night to haunt her? How was she to know she would never find peace or redemption from her prejudice? Opening the door, she descended the stairs to face the hell she was to endure for eternity.

Join the Friday Fictioneers, a wonderful group of writers who submit a 100 word story or poem based on a weekly photo. This is flash fiction at it’s finest. You can read submissions or add your work HERE.  Comments welcome, as long as they are respectful and helpful, not hateful.

Congrats Madison! Marriage is cool with the right person!

Category: Fiction//Drama

Words: 84

Rating: PG

the_second_hand_shop-1
Marriage  was death, a stance she had clung to for years. Then came Jim. The last four years had been fun, comfortable and full of love, thanks to him. He had proposed seven times, but this time was different. Something in his eyes seemed to say “we either take this step, or we’re through.”

Realizing she couldn’t live without him, she said yes. That was yesterday, this morning, she took a deep breath and entered the shop, hoping to find a gown. Realizing she was opening more than one door.

Submit a story or poem, inspired by a weekly photo in this fun, flash fiction group. You can read submissions or add your work HERE.  Comments welcome, as long as they are respectful and helpful, not hateful.

Category: Fiction//Drama

Words: Not sure

Rating: PG

the-boat-and-miss-liberty

She soared the highest heights as sea air kissed her lips. Her weightless limbs rode the currents as she gazed at the world below. She swooped and swirled, amazed and afraid. How could this be? People dove from boats and cast lines as she floated overhead. The last thing she remembered was unfolding a deck chair as her hubby baited his hook. She jumped as a voice filled the air.
“Bonnie, it’s time,” it commanded.
She moved toward the light, feeling the tug of the world on her legs.

Flickering orange light and the roar of a train pulled her from her slumber. Sitting up, she gaped at the eerie glow dancing over her walls and sprung to her feet. She stared, watching in horror as flames engulfed the neighbor’s house. Flames crept through windows to crawl up the siding as Tim’s terrified face appeared in an upstairs window.

Grabbing the phone, she pushed 9 and 1, her fingers freezing before pressing the second 1. Her stomach turned as she remembered stumbling upon young Tim in the woods, years earlier. He hadn’t heard her approach and she hid behind a tree meaning to scare him. Instead, she watched in horror as he doused a puppy with lighter fluid and set him ablaze. The next summer he cornered her in the park, asking if she had “ever seen a match burn twice.” He ignited a match, blew it out held the hot tip on her arm. He did it twice more before she wiggled free and ran home. Her parents passed it off as kids being kids and warned her not to play with him again.

Over the years she had seen him hurt school mates and pets. His parents offered explanations for the untimely deaths of his pets and life went on. In the spring of 1998 his prom date ended up in the hospital. She claimed she was beaten, raped and left for dead on the tennis court. When questioned, by the police, Tim passed with flying colors. His date either didn’t remember, or was too afraid to name him. She moved away after graduation and never returned. He went out late at night, she had seen him, always dressed in black. The next day he could be found in his drive, detailing his car.

As she watched the house burn, her mind returned to 2001. It was a warm spring night when she saw Tim and a date arrive at his house. When  the girl hesitated he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the garage, where her screaming stopped. She called 911, but a quick search of the house didn’t turn up a girl or anything else out-of-place. The police treated her like a nosy neighbor. She realized Tim had abandoned humanity, feelings. love, right and wrong years ago.

He was an animal, a predator who found joy in inflicting pain. How many died? How many more would die?  Turning her back to the flames, she returned the phone to the charger, letting the flames make the final judgement.