Adequate Compensation

Working for a temp agency meant an ever-present loop of Musak played in her head. The musical genre depended on the business nature of the office where she was temporarily stationed. Maybe adult contemporary at a dental office, classical in a day spa, and country Western in the reception area of an industrial manufacturer. Actual acoustic country music on their PA system — unimaginable.

Temporary employees usually filled in for someone on an extended leave, and the only requirements were a pleasant customer service demeanor and a felony-free background. Duties mainly were no more difficult than answering the telephone, doing some light filing, and buzzing people in through a secure entryway. It wasn’t rocket science.

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Nick Adams via Flickr

The inner-office dynamic left a lot to be desired for a temp, though. Patsy felt left out of the regular camaraderie, the potlucks and group baby showers, always being offered a piece of cake as an after-thought. She never quite felt like she fit in. Little did the woman realize it wasn’t necessarily her as a person, or what she considered her magnetic personality and wealth of witticisms, the others resented but more her habit of moving that pesky piece of Hanes elastic out of the rear of her two-sizes-too-small khakis that had crept its ways up her derriere. That and her pitiful lack of personal hygiene. The woman seemed to have no self-realization whatsoever.

Patsy resented those people she’d tried so hard to impress in such a short amount of time, their canned laughter echoing within earshot. Her feelings hurt at being excluded from their conversation, paranoia leading the woman to believe they were talking bad about her. The annoying ringtone resounded throughout the foyer, the line unanswered, as her body contorted around the front counter when Patsy tried in vain to hear what was so funny. It had always been her motto that if you were going to eavesdrop, you better damn well pay attention.

Good thing she was only there for a couple weeks or she would truly wear out her welcome.

Tension built inside her with all the imagined indiscretions she suffered from her co-workers. Calls she transferred to executives went unreturned, and Patsy had to reconcile the complaints when those customers tried again a second time. And a division manager had rudely admonished her when she entered the conference room to tell a sales reps his wife was on the line.

Ladies’ conversations would stop the minute Patsy walked up to join their little coffee klatch. No one appreciated the outfit she had so stealthily shoplifted from the Dress Barn. None of the other administrative staff members paid attention her Monday morning report of that weekend’s exotic rabbit breeders exhibition or the test results for her youngest son’s rare skin condition mysteriously acquired at gymnastics practice.

She couldn’t understand why she wasn’t considered a part of the team. All she really wanted was an invitation to happy hour.

Her third counselor suggested she work on taking things so personally, but what did he know anyway?

Patsy surprisingly culled quite a familiarity with information networks in her service as a temporary employee. These smaller companies without actual IT departments usually had one person on staff who handled the computer equipment, set up passwords, and did general maintenance on the firm’s internal system. It was enough for Patsy to glean the information she needed, break through their firewall, and develop a virus that would spread through to everyone’s PC the next morning at the first login.

She took a couple extra bagels from the employee break room and stuck them in her faux Michael Kors bag as she slipped out the back door.

 

*prompted by canned laughter originally written by Kir – Studio 30 Plus

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“In Progress” meme

My friend Marie at my cyber house rules nominated me for a special meme, so there’s no way I can refuse her. I say “special” because that’s a great word for her! Marie is a talented writer, photographer, sailor, paddle boarder and Derby Doll. I’ve had the distinct pleasure to know her over the last year or so, and my online life is greatly enriched by her perpetually-happy presence.

The meme centers on the writing process, so here’s my proverbial two cents.

1. What am I working on?

My yet-to-be-revised novel, Her Own Way, began with an idea for NaNoWriMo 2012 and wrapped up during Camp NaNoWriMo last year.  It is a coming-of-age story of two friends who support each other through their first summer living own their own and missteps made along the way.  Certain scenes were created with writing prompts from an online community that Marie actually helps moderate, Studio 30 Plus. The feedback I’ve gained there has helped build my confidence and encourage me to complete this work. Time gets away from me, though, so I am not quite finished with the re-writing process.

Otherwise, I try to blog at least once a week so my stuff doesn’t get stale for my wee little group of followers.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The most unique feature of my latest work is its basis in reality. Most of the characters I “create” are usually either based on a person I’ve seen or a caricature of someone I know, warts and all. I love people with quirky personalities, so that’s mainly the type of people and situations in my writing.

My blog is full of short stories instigated by some fun prompts from the above-mentioned community. Participating there has also exposed me to the inspirational brilliance among its memberships and also forced me to write when I’m feeling lazy and develop somewhat of my own style. Great motivation.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Some of my stuff, especially on my blog, is regionally based in the Midwest. Basically, I’ve met some very entertaining folks who affect the scenarios I build. Many situations are outlandish but others include every-day happenings – past and present – that are new to a reader with a different upbringing and introduces her/him to a unique perspective. I love to read about places not typical to my background or personal experience, so I hope my stories might reach out to someone else in the same way.

 4. How does your writing process work?

I love to watch the world around me and create characters and craft stories based on eccentricities I see within my immediate environment. My car and purse are full of pens and notepads to jot down ideas that leave me too quickly. There are also times when my writing is a bit more serious if I’ve read something about a subject that draws my ire or concern. So I usually start with that central character, idea or topic about which I am passionate, get the basics down in my cloud drive so I can pull it up from wherever, and finalize the piece after enough time to go back and make sure I’ve said what I want.

 

Tag You’re It!

Lanea created Recipe Records and blogs about Food for Thought, Food for the Soul, Food for the Love of Rock and Roll. We’ve known each other since elementary school, and I’m so glad we stay in touch online.

Paula, of Paula’s Pontifications — Life, Love, Laughter, Longing, has an astounding and inspirational outreach through her book Escaping the Boy and her active blog.

 

Cheers!

 

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The Mission

A large group of people assemble in a meeting hall for a long-overdue gathering. Through forces unknown and inexplicable, I am granted the supernatural power of omniscient feminist influence by which to reach closed-minded naysayers and misogynists throughout the world, win them over with magical eloquence, and change their previously mislead ways of thinking.

(greeting via loudspeaker)

The mentoring program will commence in just a few minutes. Today’s plan of action is to overwhelming implant knowledge and understanding of feminism, heretofore considered by some a “dirty word,” to the doubtful and mainly conservative minority. While we’ll be here for two hours, there is much ground to be covered. All negative stereotypes will be overcome, and an all-encompassing compassion for humanist issues will be accomplished here forward.

Our mission:

We will convince otherwise misguided people of the innate equality of females.

Points of discussion:

1) Feminism is about equality and autonomy. Women should be valued as highly for their efforts and abilities and have ultimate control over their own bodies.

2) Female sexuality is okay, just like it is for males. Humans are sexual beings who deserve pleasure without being slut-shamed.

3) Our bodies all differ, and that doesn’t mean one is any better than another.

4) We are individual people, not simply objects meant for men’s pleasure.

5) Women should support other women. Everyone needs a little help now and then, and who better to give it than other sisters, mothers, friends, and colleagues?

6) Equal pay for equal work. It’s that simple.

7) That is all.

A few special guests in attendance are:

Sophie Hasty, the 13-year old Hasting Middle School activist who rebelled against the Evansville, IL administration’s initiating a dress code against girls wearing leggings, as they felt doing so “distracted the boys.”

Olive Bowers, another 13-year old who challenged a surfer magazine for misrepresentation of females only through bikini shots and no sports coverage.

Andie Fox of blue milk, a smart feminist writer/blogger who approaches parenting, gender equality/stereotypes, pop culture, politics, and many other things about which she is very savvy.

Jessica Valenti, an intelligent feminist author, speaker and columnist for The Guardian US and formerly The Nation, who tackles tough issues like abortion and rape culture. She’s pretty damn funny, to boot.

  valenti tweet.JPG

Zooey Deschanel who, even through her sweetheart persona, is trying harder than most young American actresses to counter the common notions of perfection via her media presence and collaborative Hello Giggles website.

also inspiredbycharm.com

via inspiredbycharm.com

Jennifer Lawrence, another American actress, who is a vocal advocate of positive body image. She is invited because I trust the public image of her being a down-to-earth awesome role model. Simply stated, she must be awesome.

sheknows.com

via sheknows.com

 

And the keynote speaker will be:

The irrepressible bell hooks, feminist scholar and author of Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Outlaw Culture and Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, among others, who will further elucidate those who need to know, as well as we who already know, about the “white supremist capitalist patriarchy.”

via goodreads

via goodreads

 

Through my cosmically granted and omniscient feminist influence, everyone reached through my superpower of mental telepathy realizes what feminists have known since the beginning of time – all women and men deserve to be treated equally.


*The above-listed Indie Chick Lit scenario and love Studio 30+ writing prompt both instigated this post.   I’d love to know who you think should be on the invitation list. Please comment!

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A Compromising Position

He knew right away that she must be shy. Those stuttering steps and submissive dodging of other people in the hallway led Mason to believe the girl who sat two seats away from him in American History class was probably not as bold as the other girls he’d met so far. Maybe that meant she wasn’t as stuck on herself either, which would most likely work in his favor. He might even be the first one to strike up a conversation, which wasn’t like him at all.

Choosing the community college was the only financially feasible way he could go to school, at least until earning a good g.p.a. might gain a scholarship admission into a more reputable university later. Mason liked it here. The classes were small, and it was just close enough to home for comfort. Submerging himself in a 200-student lecture hall was no way to meet women either, so he thought the odds better at a small school.

Image

Especially when he saw Emma.

The girl had fair skin and short, dishwater-blonde hair that stuck up with static electricity when she came to class wearing a hooded jacket on a cold day. Her Bonne Bell makeup made her strawberry-stained lips look as though she just stepped out of sixth-grade homeroom. That innocent face and gaze that wouldn’t quite meet his made him suspect a sheltered upbringing. He’d have to tread lightly with this one.

His mother would use the word bashful to describe this type of girl. Her reticence only further aroused his curiosity. Had she ever dated anyone before? Would her dad have let her go out, or did she have to stay home when everyone else was having fun?

Mason imagined meeting her parents and wondered whether they’d be over-protective. He thought maybe they were religious since Emma seemed so reserved, so unwilling to speak to someone of the opposite sex. He’d have to wait for the right moment to approach her. In the meantime, he created an imaginative background for his mysterious classmate.

They probably had a large farm with verdant pastures and livestock. In his mind’s eye, he saw her working in a vegetable garden, feed chickens and grooming horses. Did she have siblings who shared the workload, or was it all left up to her? Mason imagined Emma picking and eating the strawberries that had so stained her mouth, and he fluctuated between that mental image having a calming effect or arousing him.

Maybe he was all wrong. She could have a boyfriend, perhaps even be married. He hadn’t looked at her left hand after all. Geez, what if she had kids? Surely she was no older than him. No way someone so tiny and seemingly awake and attentive could have a baby at home.

Mason didn’t realize he’d screwed his face up into an introspective jumble during his woolgathering. He didn’t know that Emma, as well as the rest of the class, had noticed his quizzical expression either. A palpable silence in the surrounding space pressed in on him. Everyone was looking at Mason now, including the professor, but he didn’t hear her question.

So she asked it again, “What year was the Missouri Compromise, Mason?” A low rumble of laughter spread across the room. Mason was roused from his daydream by the multitude of eyes upon him. He shook his head in confusion and broke his reverie, Mason’s eyes widened to see Emma looking back at him, and his lips spread out into a tentative mile.

The class broke into laughter at his amorous grin, which shattered Mason’s state of still wonder. Yet gazing at Emma, his complexion grew ever redder, and she whispered the answer to him. “It’s 1820,” Emma said in a barely audible tone. His face was a muddled blank, so she repeated, “The Missouri Compromise took place in 1820. Answer the instructor and maybe they’ll all stop staring.”

Her tender expression began to dissipate as Emma’s eyes timidly returned to the top of her desk. Mason continued looking directly at her and softly replied, “Thanks.”  

Studio30

*The phrase strawberry stained lips in a previous post by theinnerzone instigated this writing prompt at Studio 30 Plus.

(photo: chronicle.com)

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Welcome Home

Indie Chick Lit – #GetYourWriteOn prompt

By the time I get home after a particularly exasperating day at work, I am ready to take out my contacts immediately. Rubbing my eyes, I thought the wooden front door of my apartment looked strange, but figured it must be my tired eyes playing tricks on me. Usually blinking several times will center my Toric lenses and help me focus better, but my sight was still fuzzy when I began to cross the threshold to enter my home.

Everything looked different inside, and I stepped back out the door to check the number. Perhaps my key worked on the wrong door knob. But there was no number. The brass-plated “3B” was missing from the spot where it was usually nailed. Maybe I was in the wrong place. The layout was entirely the same, though. Dust particles hung in the air and swirled at the rush of breeze I’d created by entering and just as quickly checking back outside for the number. Fine molecules shown in front of me as the early evening sunlight cascaded through a now shadeless window on the opposite wall.

Where were my cloth blinds I had so carefully chosen at Pottery Barn to match my couch’s throw pillows?

The fragments of dust slowly lilted to a barren wood floor — dirty and scuffed — sans the coordinating throw rugs there when I’d left this morning. I’d paid several hundred dollars to have these floors refinished just a few months ago upon signing the purchase agreement for this co-op apartment, so my automatic reaction was anger at the damage done to my newly-polished hardwood.

But where was my furniture? A deeper sense of panicked confusion and fear began to overwhelm me as I glanced around the empty living room and down the blank hallway.

All my wall hangings were gone and stereo and television missing, along with the entertainment center where they were previously perched at my departure for the office earlier today. The building’s old charm was what first allured me, but now the plastered walls were shabby and marred. Holes glared at me here and there, and off-white plaster chunks were scattered around the baseboards, as if the structure was shedding its inner shell.

Was I losing my mind? This had to be my apartment, the one I had stressed so long over buying. Such a huge commitment for someone who’d never owned a home before. I stood in a frozen state of overpowered disbelief repeatedly scanning the scene before me despite obvious clues that still offered me no rational explanation of what was happening.

A yellowed leaf of paper the size of an unfolded newspaper front page was tacked on the arched entryway to the hall. In what should have otherwise been involuntary, my brain sent a direct command for my feet and legs to move toward the document. It read:

All residents herein are to be resettled in the East, and ownership of these premises are hereby relinquished this date, 22 July,

by order of Highest Commandant Hoefle.

calendar

The message only compounded the mystery of this empty space and its ratty condition, and my hands began to shake. Glancing at the adjacent kitchen area, past the piles of dirt and old, crumbled food bits on the floor, I saw a tattered calendar with ancient images hanging on a grease-marked wall atop where a stove once stood. Taking a few tentative steps toward it, I noted the date marked in the crease of the paper was 1942.

It was the last thing I saw before passing out onto the filthy floor.

 

*This post is my contribution to a new prompt at Indie Chick Lit.

You arrive home after a long day of work to an entirely empty home. There are no indents on the carpet, no wine stains–no sign that you or anyone lives there. Write this scene.

(image: http://www.citrussilver.com/)

 

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In God’s Name

katybrandes:

Have the pearly gates opened wide? Probably not. I thought this was appropriate to re-post today. Namaste.

Originally posted on katy brandes writes:

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robbplusjessie – flickr creative commons

Such a lovely summer afternoon generates a wonderful mood, with the breeze blowing and clouds diffusing the heat as they drift in front of the sun. Folks gathered there instead glanced around at each other in stunned bereavement, their eyes glazed over with grief. The cemetery. No one should have to spend an amazing day like that at a funeral.

Friends of the deceased young man milled about behind the line of family members at graveside. Fellow service members weren’t able to attend the hometown memorial as most of them were still at their duty station. Others from his until were still hospitalized from injuries they’d sustained in the IED explosion. His were too serious to survive and snuffed out his life at a mere 27 years.

A procession of motorcycles ran along the entire block of lanes surrounding the section of cemetery where he’d…

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The Village Idiot

 Studio30

He would sometimes stop traffic on the Interstate highway by stepping in front of moving cars. Cars moving at speeds up to 70 miles per hour. That’s a helluva way to get attention. Donald Knopp was definitely an odd one. Solid of stature, wispy graying unkempt hair in not-quite-a-comb-over the only hint at his age, he was nondescript enough to be generally ignored.

One booth at McDonald’s practically had his seat imprint in its molded plastic, and he spent most of his other time at the public library or walking the streets of the small town where his parents raised him. All he knew was Marsburg, and his reputation preceded him with many of the townspeople there.

He’d strike up inappropriate conversations with complete strangers, ogle at women who didn’t know him from Adam, and scare children away in a fit of stranger danger. Everyone suspected he wasn’t quite “all there” but not in an innocent way. A trace of malevolence lingered just below the surface, and people ducked into storefronts to avoid him on the sidewalk and risk an uncomfortable interaction. Regardless of the stories, most folks though he was relatively harmless. One just never knows for sure.

Rumor had it his parents were first cousins and probably too old when he was born, those being the main reasons he was so strange. Some people said Donald was simply “cursed by birth.” The man had no social skill whatsoever, was a complete misfit, but not quite full-on mental. Getting along in society seemed even harder for him after his mother died, and he acted out in public more often. She’d arranged for a court-appointed guardian before her passing, but the social worker couldn’t always keep tabs on him.

And hooligans took full advantage of those disabilities.

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A colossal statue marked the final resting place of Colonel William Mars of the State’s historical and much revered 100th Cavalry, with the town founder’s stone likeness brandishing a bayonet atop a rearing stallion. The monument was where those boys once left Donald Knopp tied up overnight. Bored teenagers with a little too much St. Patrick’s Day cheer in them scooped Donald off the street and to the cemetery at the edge of the city park. They’d had enough drink that they considered their prank innocent fun and quite a humorous finding for the caretaker when he unlocked the gates at daybreak the next morning.

Donald hung there limp for hours, weather-beaten and tethered to the horse’s legs at the monument’s base. Quite cold upon discovery, having been exposed to the elements over an unusually cold March night, he sported a permanent limp from that time forward. In their inebriated celebration, the boys had shaken up their bottles and sprayed beer over his legs and feet in a contest of who had the best aim at his extremities. Hypothermia in Donald’s soaked limbs claimed several toes on one foot.

No telling who won the cruel competition, but the irony came as county taxpayers picked up the tab for the indigent man’s hospital bill, some of whom were undoubtedly the boys’ parents.

Knopp stomped along with his weight centered in the right leg and the other one dragging behind him, frightening little kids with such a striking resemblance to a modern-day Quasimodo. Adults stole a second glance to see if a giant wart covered his right eye.

Donald tried to move swiftly along and one step ahead of that annoying conservator. He haphazardly crossed the street wherever he pleased, feeling like all of Marsburg was his oyster, his new gait impeding traffic more than ever before.

*This post was part of a weekly prompt at Studio 30 Plus inspired by AB’s line cursed by birth.

(photo credit: “snow cemetery” via DerekL on Flickr)

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Saving Face

tangledThe tables had turned, and the shoe was now on the other foot. Whatever cliché she wanted to throw at it, the situation had changed to her satisfaction. Finally. After all those years, she finally felt some closure about the way he had treated her.

Of course, she hadn’t known it at the time. He was the kind of guy who did things behind her back, unfortunately setting the tone for future relationships. She took people at face value and trusted them, especially being such a young woman, but not everyone deserves that respect. Tricksters like him needed to earn that loyalty, a hard lesson learned by dating him.

Life can kick a girl in the ass to wake her up and teach her a hard lesson. And, so early on, this was one of those times.

The lies. Her incredible naiveté. Only a girl who already had intimacy issues would believe the whoppers he told. Even though she felt so grown up dating much older boys, those who’d already graduated.

A few friends knew of his misgivings, about the other girls he dated behind her back. They didn’t tell her, though. One of the many ways women let each other down. Trusting that pig was easier than believing something she didn’t want to hear.

What teenage girl doesn’t want to believe her boyfriend thinks she is beautiful and will love only her? He wouldn’t dare leave town to visit his parents but actually have another girl in the car instead. Surely that girl had forced herself on him and planted the hickey on his neck just to piss her off. That’s what he claimed.

She wondered what kind of slut does that.

Good guys didn’t do things like that. It was the girl’s fault. Nice boyfriends swayed opinions, they called her parents “Mom” and “Dad” to force a good impression. Those nice fellas talked about going on a couple’s cruise one day, getting married and putting a ring on a girl’s finger to assure the promise.

Those guys don’t ask her friends to come see a new puppy but not mention it to his girlfriend. There would never be a girl leaving his house at the same moment his girlfriend arrived and claim she’d dropped off a lost baseball glove. And those guys would certainly never pass along a nasty little sexually transmitted infection.

They don’t set such an ugly precedent for that girl’s future. Not a great guy like him.

Time and trouble bring a greater wisdom, though.

The inevitable split was less than amicable, and he’d told his friends it was her doing. That she’d left a surprise party he hosted for her, with another guy no less. Yet one more lie. Funny. It was March, and her birthday was in August.

He was so full of shit.

He had the nerve to call years later saying he needed a friend who would listen. The tears in his voice only fueled her scorn, but she was glad to not see him cry in person. He’s an ugly crier. Scoffing at someone over the phone is a lot easier than face-to-face.

To squeeze in a final cliché, she who laughs last laughs loudest. In response to his request for a shoulder to cry on, she replied that he was “the most worthless-piece-of-crap-poor-excuse-for-a-human-being she’d ever met in her life” and to, in no uncertain terms, never call her again. “Forget you ever had this number,” she blasted as she slammed down the receiver.

Satisfaction leached from her pores for such ugly words. The long overdue message’s release broke the silence of her soul. A great resolve filled the space resentment had once occupied. She promised herself to never fall for a liar ever, ever again.

Until the next time.

*This post was prompted by the line he’s an ugly crier by LM Leffew.

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On the cusp of Spring

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D. Robinson-Walsh via Flickr

The celebratory feeling had simply left March 20th. It was the first day of Spring, Jasper’s birthday, and it was supposed to be a fun time of year. But he couldn’t feel good about it any more.

He took his melancholy out the back door. He needed a break from the party his mother put together for him. His older brother and cousins were there, but he needed a little privacy from the noise inside the kitchen. Everyone else seemed to push the memories of his grandfather out of their minds, even if temporarily, but it felt disloyal to go along with them. Jasper wanted to still suffer the grief of Grandpa’s passing and keep the pain fresh in his heart. Holding it there made the patriarch’s life still seem palpable.

As it was, nothing much seemed worth celebrating. Jasper went to search for his grandfather’s essence there in the fields, as if he’d spied the man’s spectral presence out in the windrows of snow. He gazed out at the pastures of Grateful Acres, as the farm was ironically called, and saw a berm of snow hiding behind the shade of a pine row. The white stripe outlined the strip of hearty trees, bald on one side and flocked on the other. Such a barren landscape.

Spring couldn’t come soon enough.

To the south, two black bulls lay assessing each other from opposite sides of a barbed wire fence. Conserving their body heat was more important than sparring off at that moment. An uncle kept up the family’s legacy in part by tending the livestock that once belonged to his father.

Grandpa had gone out to check his cows after a particularly cold night, a calf’s birth being only a few days past. He trekked down a gully, perhaps looking after a cow in trouble, and must have made no notice of his old tractor’s precipitous perch when he dismounted. It had gone rogue, rolled down the hill, and struck him dead. One of the boys went to call him inside for Jasper’s last party and discovered him there in the snow, his lips already blue.

Why a man his age had still tried to actively farm was anyone’s guess.

The offending tractor sat lonesome behind the shed out back. It hadn’t been driven again since the accident.

Grandpa had been gone for a year, his death unfortunately coinciding with the anniversary of Jasper’s birth. Jasper could hear the guests talking and laughing back in the house, the party moving blissfully along, but their happiness betrayed his emotions. It was like wet confetti at a New Year’s Day parade. A sucker punch when he turned to kiss a girl. He couldn’t muster up even an inkling of happiness.

Jasper still missed his grandfather so much, and the snow only intensified that sorrow. A ubiquitous misery.

He wondered if it snowed the day he was born.

Studio30

*This post was prompted by Kelly’s line, like wet confetti at a New Year’s Day parade, at Studio 30 Plus.

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Identity

Rusty Tanton via Flickr

Rusty Tanton via Flickr

The turtle’s smashed shell and shriveled carcass stayed there for several days, a cloud of flies swarming above it and a dark circle staining the pavement underneath. Lamenting the terrapin’s slow pace and ultimate demise, Kelly stood on the shoulder of the road and stared down at the small chelonian cadaver. Why didn’t someone – the car’s driver, anyone – move it from the street?

Vance walked by her house en route to one of his sporadic fishing trips, saw her leaning slump-shouldered over the remains, and asked what was the matter. The girl looked up from her reverie, her eyes glassy in a deep well of tears. “It’s just so sad,” she replied. Perhaps her heart was too soft.

He felt bad for her, but not bad enough to touch the shards of shell and slimy mess himself, and said, “Well, why don’t you ask your father to move it out of the road?”

She was aghast. “My father? My father is the king of procrastination, and it would be forever before he did it. If he’d even do it.” Looking back down at the bloody mess, she added, “Besides, he’d have to stop watching Smokey and the Bandit for the hundredth time, and that’s not going to happen. That’s why I won’t ask him.”

Maybe his dad would heed a request like that. Her father? Forget it.

The two knew each other from school, but Vance lived on the other side of the railroad tracks from Kelly’s neighborhood and crossed that invisible socioeconomic line on his trek to the small lake where he fished. It would be several years before the pair knew what that figurative divide really meant.

In the meanwhile, they talked a few other times over the summer when he passed by her yard. He gave Kelly a Speidel Ident bracelet, sans engraving, which stoked her cheeks to blush and her brother to endlessly tease her. It was the first gift a boy ever gave Kelly.

School returned in the fall and they went their separate ways, as kids do when they get older, but without any formal dissolution of their childish girlfriend/boyfriend status. No acrimonious breakup or friendship eulogy.

Much like the poor turtle … just gone.

Circumstances pull people apart. They ran in separate crowds, had different friends. All those small town kids knew each other, but Vance went on to play sports and be voted class president, while Kelly did little else besides homework and work a part-time job. She bought her own car and school clothes. She dated lots of older boys but didn’t fall into the trap of early motherhood like so many other girls from her side of town.

Kelly went on to college well after her peers, supporting herself to make it happen. She had credentials to hang on the walls for her efforts, much like Vance and other classmates of similar privilege had accomplished long before she did. She didn’t begrudge them.

Everyone met back at home when they saw each other at class reunion time and exchanged pleasantries. Vance always said hello to Kelly but didn’t say much more. She wanted to catch up with him, ask about his kids and his great job, but she didn’t bother. He and his old buddies busied themselves with one another and each other’s wives.

Besides, she didn’t want to mess his hands with a dead animal such as that.

Instead, she’d just smile inside thinking of him carrying a fishing pole when he walked by her house. She wondered whatever happened to the little gold I.D. bracelet. Her heart softened when she thought of those things.

 

*This post was prompted by Stephanie’s line, “my father is the king,” as highlighted at http://www.studio30plus.com.

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