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Monday, May 26, 2014

Workout Routine

   A handful of classes away from zipping up those jeans, I sashay through the aerobics routine. The blasting disco beat keeps my mind clear as fog. I can’t hack the end, though. This five-minute silence on the mat just keeps killing you.

Where does it hurt?    Answer #16

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eight Hundred and Fifty-Four Steps

   “A pocket full of posies,” Sally thinks as she opens her eyes. Sun bright behind the curtains quickens her pulse, and she claws through the sheets to check the time. Only nine. “Hopscotch, hopscotch.” Why is this rhyme in her head? Out, out. She checks her list against the day ahead, though it will be impossible to balance them. One inevitably outweighs the other.
   She dresses for the gym, remembers she must grab the bags for the market. When she stops to drink from a fountain, she sees she has crossed the city. Instead of shopping bags, she has slung a backpack over her shoulder. She’s wearing a cotton shirt, jeans and hiking boots. Across the street from the fountain is the theater, shuttered and brown, where they saw an adaptation of Bodas de sangre destroyed by that horrendous troupe from Seville. Afterwards, they crossed the city together, far into the night, projecting the future.
   Sally continues, taking long, determined strides as if the impulse of her forward motion will conjure the plaza, the bridge where they stood at midnight. She is certain the village is far away. He drove while she drifted into the countryside, felt the splashing runoff wet the poppies, smelled the sheep and the shadowy pine forests. At the end of a curve was a stone bridge, washed gold in a bluesky sunset.
   Amy would be home from school soon. Sally stops and breathes in. A car whooshes by. She stands at the lookout over the city, squints into the sun. The sky meets the sea in a clear sharp line out past the hospital the cathedral the hotel the cruise ship. Amy is somewhere else now. Toulouse? New York? Far away. Happy enough.
   “Hopscotch, hopscotch, we all fall down.” Sally picks a sprig of fennel from the roadside. He taught her what it looks like, how it tastes sharp, fresh. Makes her mouth water. She shifts the backpack onto both shoulders and shakes her arms. Steps on sunshine.
 I stood on the bridge at midnight as the clocks were striking the hour -Longfellow
Quote given for the week gave up 333 words for Light and Shade Challenge

Monday, May 19, 2014

Which Way to Go?

   Crossroads are tricky to maneuver without an all-terrain vehicle. Beware the signposts; they can be misleading. I once found a broken pen that was pointing west, but I ended up having to retrace all eight hundred and fifty-four thousand steps. Big mistake.
   Answer #14

Friday, May 16, 2014

Since You’ve Been Gone

 I am looking very carefully through the tall grass. The path goes from the garage to the well, and the key is gold. If I don’t find the key, I will have to ask the neighbor to saw the bolt. The bolt is expensive, and the neighbor has an unappealing gleam in his eye. I have not replaced the stolen chainsaw, which is not the proper saw for cutting bolts in any case. I may as well look for the washer that fell off the hose, a small, black rubber ring. Meanwhile, I just missed stepping in wild boar dung.

“If you don't find it in the index, look very carefully through the entire catalogue.”
-Sears, Roebuck, and Co., Consumer's Guide, 1897
 Quote given for the weekend 100-word at Light and Shade Challenge

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Is Something Crawling on Me?

Will it ever stop? After I kicked in their nest, they kept coming. After I trampled their marching hoards, still they kept on, hefting bits of leaf and crumb. They slalom through the hairs on my arm, searching for a way in.


A 42-word answer to the question posed by gargleblaster-161 Is something crawling on me? Answer #24

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Passing On Tradition

This story was included in the #NFFD2014 Flash Flood:


       “Katie’s nine now,” Blanche said into the phone. She picked up the envelope, straightened it. “Shall I get tickets to the Nutcracker while you’re in town?”
      “The Nutcracker,” Jenny said. “Who’d be going?”
      Blanche tucked the envelope behind the fruit bowl. “Just us girls,” she said. “Won’t that be fun?” She closed her eyes to the silence, remembered Jenny and Sarah in matching winter coats. Her mother-in-law herding them into the theater, cigarette hand waving Blanche off.
      “Just you, Katie and me?” Jenny finally said. “That would be fun. A real treat.”
      “It’s settled, then.” Blanche pulled the envelope towards her and shook out the four tickets.


      Blanche hummed as she prepared the tree-trimming dips to go with the spiked eggnog. She paused over the photograph she kept on the fridge of Jenny and Sarah draped in tinsel, arms across shoulders like college roommates. She listened for the sound of banter, laughter. When she joined them, the eggnog was mostly rum and their voices were not full of cheer or even camaraderie, but were clipped and strained.
      “Let me hang your ornament, Mommy.” Katie was excited, demanding.
      “Remember which one is Mommy’s?”
      Katie dug her hand in the box, then held it behind her back. Not the silver sled, thought Blanche. Sarah turned from the tree, sloshing her drink.
      “Hey! My silver sled!” She lunged towards Katie. “Give it here, Katie-Poo.”
      “I think it’s time for bed, Katie,” said Blanche. She took the child by the shoulders. “Let me see?” She dug the sled out of the girl’s hand. “This was Great-Grandma Ida’s when she was a girl.” Katie shrugged out of her grasp. “Here, Sarah, hang it by the glass ballerina.”
      Jenny led Katie out of the room. “Have another drink,” she called back. “Eggnog with a dash of silver sled.”


      Blanche found them brushing Katie’s hair. “Look what Aunt Sarah got for you.” She held up ruby red ballet slippers.
      “It’s below zero,” Jenny said. “You really don’t expect”
      “Mom, look!” Katie stood and plied.                               
      Jenny clipped Katie’s hair back. “You’re gonna freeze. Go get your coat.”

      “Why are there four tickets?” Jenny asked the mirror.
      “I think,” said Blanche from the doorway, “that’s Sarah I hear.
      “Mom.” Jenny followed her mother to the kitchen, where Katie modeled the shoes. Sarah stood in their grandmother’s fur coat.
      “Where are you going?” asked Jenny.
      “We’re going to the ballet,” said Katie.
      “But Aunt Sarah isn’t.” Jenny looked at Blanche, then back at the fur coat. “It’s just us three, right, Mom?”
      Blanche jiggled the car keys as she pushed her arms through her coat. “Come, come, girls, we’ll be late.”
      Katie petted the fur coat. “Are you going to see the game with Daddy and Gramps?” she asked. “Cause they left already.”

      Blanche sat Katie between her and Jenny. Little girls in tutus and tiaras skipped down the aisles. She watched them, studiously ignoring the sold-out theater's one empty seat on the other side of Jenny.

A dream has power to poison sleep
- Mutability, Percy Bysshe Shelley
logoThe above quote was the inspiration for this entry to the inaugural Light and Shade Challenge.

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