She would start soccer at four and play until the end of high school. She would excel in all her academics and thrive in all extracurriculars. She would graduate as her classes valedictorian. She would impress all with her eloquent speech. She would go to college with many scholarships and graduate with her masters in teaching. She would marry an engineer and live happily in the suburbs. She would have three beautiful children. She would have a happy life. She would have, only if her drug-addicted mother wouldn’t have thrown her baby against a mirror in rage. She would have…
Sally’s attack of him was last week, but still on his mind. Five days in planning, he would show no mercy and revenge would be sweet. With today being the day, he spent an hour loading up and arming himself. The attack would be unexpected and swift.
Tom secured himself where he had the advantage of high ground. Right on schedule, Sally came around the corner. Tom aimed and let one go. Splattered all over the sidewalk, the first water balloon missed, but the next four were right on target. So were six of the next ten. Success was his.
I used to lie. I'd tell lies when the truth was just as acceptable. I'm not sure where or why the habit started, but, it was troublesome enough that one Saturday morning, mama had had enough, grabbing me by the back of the head, shoving Dove soap inside my mouth, and holding me under running water. As her rage dissipated, she let me up, my eyes darting to the kitchen storm window, where I knew Kevin from next door was waiting. My mouth foaming, his mouth agape. Our family no longer his idea of fantastic; he turned to run.
He rode into town on a Harley, wearing leather, covered with dust.
He pulled up to the Bulldog Saloon. He was built like a linebacker and looked like Jack Palance.
He brushed himself off, stepped inside and ordered whiskey. The place was crowded and noisy.
“No music around here?” he said to the bartender.
“Band starts in an hour.”
He looked over at the piano.
“Mind if I play?”
“Go right ahead.”
He strode over to the upright, sat down and began to play. The patrons grew quiet. It was the first time they’d heard Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers.”
‘We were happy, your mother and me. She was a good wife.’
Standing by the graveside, I nod in agreement because he never knew the truth. That’s how good she was.
Mum believed in her marriage vows: Putting up with the other women and the drinking until the summer daddy went away.
She met Uncle Ted, and her joy and laughter filled me with hope. But daddy came home, and Ted disappeared.
Mum stayed until cancer broke those vows.
My father dabs at his crocodile tears, and I weep for my mother’s wasted life.
“A tragic accident”, they called it, in those fake voices people use. I look for clues everywhere, needing an answer, even if it implicates me.
“It won’t bring him back,” my sister says, in her customer service voice. “Just accept it, Marsha, and move on.”
I sit on my hands that want to smack her face.
The minute she leaves, I start again with his dresser drawers. White undershirts and briefs give no information, nor do rolled-up socks. There’s a red sweater with the price tag still on.
Would somebody hopeless buy a red sweater?
Swish, swish, click, clack, click. My grandfather shuffles the domino pieces. A game of old people, I think.
Coffee, sometimes cheese or cake, a lit cigarette in a dish, smoke drifting to the kitchen ceiling. Click, clack, click, swish. It continues. Then everyone draws seven, white, marble dominoes and the game begins.
I watch. Voices surround me, dominoes slide into place with robust enthusiasm. “Shoot the moon!”, my grandfather declares. My mom rolls her eyes.
I find and open the box, feel the cool touch of the dominoes. Instantly, I am nine. Stacked memories come tumbling, one over the other.
Sitting at a dark corner of a London pub, Banksy, the elusive graffiti-artist, watched the BBC news announce that his past painting “Developed Parliament”, depicting British MPs as a bunch of chimps, had sold in auction for £9.9 million. He gasped, uttering “With the current Brexit fiasco, that creation remains valid. But what’s new?” He’d just white-washed a wall near Oxford.
A “Breaking News” flashed, displaying a supporter of the US strongman slashing a yellow lookalike baby balloon, popular in European protests. Banksy felt his next creative spark. He whispered “When they stab a balloon, can impeachment be far behind?”
Thoroughly disgusted, I exited the dressing room and in exasperation commented to my friend, "They're using those funny carnival mirrors in there...you know, the kind that make you look fat."
With an eye roll followed by that "truth-will-set-you-free" look, she calmly stated, "As we grew in years, what we failed to gain in wisdom, we gained in inches."
Unwillingly yielding to the truth, I yelped, "Oh! No! fffuuudge"!
Upon uttering the word, "fudge", our eyes brightened. Like the skinny school girls we use to be, we scampered off to find the Chocolatier.
“Great! Everybody forgets my birthday,” I yelled silently the minute I entered the house.
“Hi honey, we have been waiting for you,” said Dad. A smile crept in to creep out again when I heard, “We need you to babysit your sister. Your mother and I have an invitation. Your brother is going out, too.”
“The foods are in the fridge. You just need to reheat them.” Mom added.
I went upstairs. Found a new dress and a note: ‘Do you really think that we forget your birthday? Put on the dress and go back downstairs. Let’s celebrate your birthday.’
Passing the hungry and insane homeless man begging in front of the store, He looked inside, seeing the hordes of last-minute shoppers scrambling for hastily-conceived gifts.
A fat sweaty Santa, pretending to be jolly, sat giving trinkets to screaming spoiled toddlers, while Christmas songs played over and over in an endless loop.
Across the street the Victorian chapel converted into a bar held a full congregation of revelers. A drunken confrontation within spilled onto the street.
Looking up at the granite cross above the chapel, He smiled, and flew to stand bestride it.
Unseen, but all-seeing, Lucifer surveyed his domain.
As a young teen, I often helped Mom do the dishes. Ivory Flakes, wash cloth and thin white towel.
She rejected — repeatedly — using liquid detergent, sponge and air-drying. “That’s not the way we wash dishes.”
I finally asked: “You’re telling me that there’s only one way to do the dishes. Any other way is wrong?”
I kept pressing the issue: “Is it that way with everything in life? One way. Anything else is wrong?”
Then Dad and I washed dishes. He used liquid detergent and sponge.
“Let them air-dry,” he said. “It’s the only way…”
I directed my will to the wardrobe. The door slid open. There hanged the seasons collection – a tattooed macho man, a sexy pink-haired chic, a skinny handsome boy, a little girl with big blue eyes.
The wrinkled hunchback at the corner caught my attention. The dream about my grandma suddenly emerged. I could almost feel her rough hand touching my face.
As soon as I signalled the shell, its forehead glowed. I swirled into it, blinked her, or my, eyes, stretched my legs, staggered out to put on a floral dress.
What for breakfast? I’d have poached eggs, grandma’s favourite.
Sam was frantic. He was the webmaster for an online art gallery, and people had been submitting pieces in dozens for him to post. There was no way he could catch up!
“Why, oh why do I put myself through this?” he moaned, facepalming.
Then his e-mail dinged. He opened the message to read the nicest note from a follower, saying how much she enjoyed the posts and that every piece on the site was a treasure.
Sam smiled. This was the reason he dedicated himself to art. He viewed his inbox, ready to spread more art to the world.
Mother screamed “Sally!!!!”
‘Great what’d I do?’, thought Little Sally.
“Get in here, now!”
If Little Sally were older, she probably would have cussed. But she is not, so she just bit her lip and headed to the bathroom, pretty sure what the commotion was about.
“What is that?” Mother is wrapped in a terry cloth towel pointing at the drain of the bathtub.
“Oh it’s just a spider. Don’t worry it’s not a real one.”
“Oh, you know it’s not real? It looks real and scared the bejesus out of me.”
“Maybe it’s Bobby done it.”
“Bobby’s at camp.”
I was sitting in my psychiatrist’s room when a UFO materialized into the sky.
“Um, Daniella?” I said to her. “You might want to look behind you.”
“And why is that?” Daniella replied, looking up at me from her notepad.
“Well, you’re not going to believe this, but there’s a UFO outside!”
Daniella nodded. “And how long has the UFO been there?” she said, taking notes.
“No,” I said, keeping a steady eye on the UFO. “It’s actually right behind you!”
As Daniella turned around, the UFO zoomed upwards into the sky.
Daniella smiled sympathetically, handing me yet another prescription.
"Seems like all the famous people are dying all at once."
"No rhyme or reason."
"If you're getting one for yourself."
"That was the general plan."
Mmm... this Shocktop isn't bad."
"I know you like Blue Moon."
"You're not one for straight answers tonight are you?"
"I mean what can I say that you don't already know... it's not... "
"And, she... ?"
"And I... really can't get into it."
"So anyway... it's been like totally the year of the dead celebrities, you know?"
We stood face to face. Not unlike the famous scene from Casablanca. But between me, a human, and um, goats? I’m not looking at you, kids, the way you look at me. We are different, granted we live in a city and are cared for by people. The only time our paths crisscross is when I visit you at the zoo. Not the kind my husband knows when he returns from work and I ask “What’s new at the zoo?” I suppose it’s getting close to your feeding time. Ours too. I need to get home and feed my animal.
It’s all about perspective.
I try and avoid standing in the sunshine and revealing my shadow, too many questions. I’ve heard all sorts of theories. Some people think they see angel wings, others back away in fear wondering if I’m the devil, he was an angel too, albeit a fallen one.
Perhaps if they really looked they’d see my overly wide smile and big teeth. Fingernails a bit too long and the strange little spikes on the tips of my ears. If they really thought about it they’d see it for themselves.
I’m a half dragon and proud of it.
David Adams’ first memory was of a tree. As a boy, he loved to look up at trees, run his hands over their bark, study the veins in their leaves, backlit by the sun.
David loved when the branches blossomed, how buds grew into leaves and how the leaves changed colors. He loved to watch the leaves let go in the fall and drift down to the earth, knowing they would nourish the very tree that had given them birth.
He grew old with the trees. Some of his friends feared death, but David knew there was nothing to fear.
Hurtling towards my final destination, I close my eyes and reflect.
It begins with the realisation that if e=mc2, then so too must the speed of light be equal to the square root of energy divided by mass. The calculation then becomes simple.
So now I find myself travelling backwards in time and almost at the point of the first great singularity, where I shall confront the Ultimate Maker. I slow down, I listen.
Is that a National Anthem I hear? Someone is promising to 'Make the Universe Great Again'?
I think I must have taken a wrong turning somewhere.
I’m always wheeled, getting nowhere. Older sister Nancy and Mother push. Bedroom. Dining room. We love you. I read anxiety. Pursed lips, feigned determination.
Will he walk?
Do we love a cripple?
It was an overturned train. Car crushing me, lying between life and unknown. Nancy wishes it was her. Not my fault. Words wavering.
Once I could run. From home to movies, under Nancy’s smile, Mother’s worries. I could have been a writer flitting across the world, dancer, pirouetting across stages.
If I recover, I’ll move slower, Mother, Nancy withdrawing more.
I have to make it across the room.
No one saw the singing buffoon shuffle out. The singing slowed as the staggering gait became a stumble.
The lights outside were cold, anonymous bends, pointing fingers of neon. The drunkard tripped and found hands, leaden, anchored on pavement. The lights were blinking out as the song ended and the drunk found purchase on hands and knees. Shifting weight and wavering sighs marked the transition from crawling to standing.
A few blocks with no light, no song, and the keys scratched left and right, up and down against the door.
His note to her, as empty as her apartment now.
I never thought I was a monster until that interview. I mean, sure, I eat children, but only naughty ones, as is my purpose. But trying to get my son into that classy pre-school, it became pretty clear what I was. My freakish body, foul odor and dripping, muddy ooze didn't cut it. My kid had no chance.
I wonder if his mixed parentage played a part; I’m a Bog Beast, my wife is a Hill Hag, thus interspecies offspring. So in frustration, I ate the admissions director and several rich kids, before returning to our wetlands home.
Peter was trying to make a metaphor about ranchers and herds. His traveling companion took it as calling her a cow. He was now seriously backpedaling.
“We all know that bovines are among the most well-liked and valuable of animals. They give us meat and milk and cheese.”
Her crossed arms and annoyed expression said she wasn’t buying it.
Peter searched for mollifying words, then stammered, “And many people think the noble cow is very attractive. That’s why leather is so popular and fashionable.”
She wasn’t going to let him off the hook. It promised to be a long week.