Differences of opinion and differences in beliefs have separated me from those once held most dear. The summer of 2020 brought the culmination, deadwood branches falling from the canopy, revealing gaping holes. But through these holes swaths of sky are visible. Migrating birds journey toward seasonal homes. Will the stragglers find their flock or settle in unfamiliar territory? And what becomes of those in the latter?
On the bright side, I finally returned to the Church and confessed matters weighing on me for decades. Do I feel better or lighter in spirit for having done so? Not necessarily, but I’m on the right path, moving slowly in reconciliation of where I came from, where I am, and where I need to be, attempting to make up for lost time and undoubtedly botching things up in the process since that’s what I seem to do best.
For the Sky prompt at Writingthe200:
The patron saint of diddlers looked down upon Dan with a heavy heart, for here was a soul in need of so many charitable acts that Saint Dufus stood to never putz off again. Dan found excuses aplenty to laze around, schlepping off responsibility while burning through unemployment claims.
So Saint Dufus, while scrambling to send small miracles Dan’s way in efforts to deter his path to debauchery, aligned with Shizzle, patron saint of realtors, Skizzle, patron saint of has been porn stars, and Paddle, patron saint of school districts desperate for teachers, to devise a long term strategy.
Now Dan rises early every morning for a glimpse of his new neighbor. He pretends to read the paper on the front porch as the nimble physical education teacher waters her front yard plantings in a silky mini kimono and kitten heeled slippers, teetering and bending as she handles the hose. When the show is over, they each disappear into their separate shacks to ready themselves for work, thus guaranteeing that Dan doesn’t lose yet another job due to excessive tardiness.
And Saint Dufus is back to daydreaming about holiday party escapades among new friends until the Boss drops another case.
Not sure if it fits the Buried prompt at Writingthe200, but here goes:
Behind the picket fenced clapboard houses, whitewashed and scrubbed shiny clean, lie the bowels that drive the community, the types of enterprises not depicted in advertisements. Check cashers share space with laundromats and unlicensed healers. In a darkened corner lay eight beds, occupied with night workers, resting between shifts of performing necessary tasks our society doesn’t want to acknowledge.
The key he sent in the mail fits into an unmarked door, leads into a long narrow space outfitted with cabinets and a mattress dressed in the traitors flag of a lost war. The one fixed window overlooks a weed covered empty parking lot and defunct factory. Below the window is a sliding mechanism one would expect for exchanging goods in a carry out eatery. No evidence of cooking exists, only stacks of mismatched empty luggage blocking a heavy back door.
A sense of foreboding weighs down, that someone like me, from the main street a short walk away should have never ventured so far from home, should have never questioned how he could have afforded to gift me such a fine abode.
Fingering the threadbare flag, I imagine it wrapped around his body, standing tall on a mountain far away.
In response to the Labor prompt at Writingthe200.
Seymour rued the day microwave ovens were invented. He remembers clearly when he first introduced the novelty appliance into the breakroom of Seymour & Sons Enterprises. All it was initially good for was burning popcorn while everyone kept their distance, ducking behind cubicle walls and filing cabinets while rubbing hands in nervous anticipation of the buzzer and delivery of chemically flavored treats.
For almost a year the thing sat mostly unused before adventurous souls experimented with heating water and cups of soup, gradually stepping up their game to warming bagels and reheating cold coffee. Those were the days, thought Seymour.
Then the gizmo’s popularity exploded. The offices came under constant bombardment of ungainly stinks that required constant febreezing. Seymour posted signs throughout the breakroom prohibiting the cooking of popcorn or seafood. Bad smells persisted. His minions, incapable of producing simple reports without putting in overtime, proved crafty in devising recipes that left the entire floor reeking like a third world food court.
In desperation, Seymour finally pulled the plug on the wretched machine and hauled it out to the dumpster. Unfortunately, he pulled a muscle in doing so. The microwaveable heating pads in the first aid station offered no comfort.
In response to the Pinup prompt at Writingthe200.
The waiting room at Thrifty Cosmetic Surgery had the dimensions of a galley kitchen; it looked good until two people needed to share the space. Three of us shifted uncomfortably in our bolted down chairs, doing our best avoid eye contact and knocking each other’s knees while waiting for our bandaged relations to be wheeled out from post-op.
An oversized soft drink machine occupied one of the narrow walls, vying for attention with a display of blinking lights more likely brought on by faulty bulbs or ballasts than by intention of design. Two dollar bills were required to get the dispenser to perform its function of squirting liquid along the side of a paper cup too large to serve its intended purpose.
The walls were lined with autographed centerfolds. Prospective patients apparently took these endorsements as proof of good work. It left me feeling unsettled that my mother chose to trust such an establishment, plopping down two years of savings for a set lifted boobs, convinced that such an enhancement would attract a new husband and allow her to say sayonara to the job at Pete’s Produce where every new shipment of melons and grapefruits reminded her of younger days.
In response to the Doubt prompt at Writingthe200.
Never one who excelled at map reading, Franny found herself at an isolated watering hole at the end of a service road on the edge of the National Forest, convinced this was her intended destination, Donner Lake.
150 years earlier, ill-prepared pioneers were forced to winter with no provisions at that relatively nearby location when severe weather blocked their passage.
‘You think there would be a monument at least,’ thought Franny, leaving her car to follow a formation of blue winged dragonflies for a stroll around the perimeter. A flash of yellow caught her eye. Believing it was a rare bird, she went deeper into the overgrown woods. Branches scratched her arms, tore at her clothes, reminding her of the possessive boyfriend left behind when taking this solo road trip.
Lifting her sneakers from thick mud required effort as she searched for the illusive yellow among the graying brown tree limbs catching her hair with a jealous grip. She struggled free, came to the object of her attraction to find it was merely strip of frayed fabric.
Fingering the nylon, she wondered how it got here, and was lost in thought, unaware she was sinking until marsh encased her ankles.
Inspired by the Awake prompt at Writingthe200.
I wake to itching fingers on one hand. The satisfaction of itching is only surpassed by applying pressure that releases fluids from the tips, flattening each digit like I’m popping pimples.
There is overwhelming relief until the itch returns to the palm with searing discomfort that must be extinguished at any cost. Soon this hand is limp and useless as I scratch further up the arm, battling the fire line, until the limb that once held my brother in unity is nothing more than a flap of dead skin, it’s former contents pooled on the floor, a mixture of puss and blood. It feels good.
By dusk my toes are burning up. I rub away each flare of irritation, along each foot and up each leg. In the morning, I’m unable to get out of bed without rolling onto the floor, attempting navigation on the stubs of legs. I prop myself against the wall, spend the day scratching ears, nose, genitals with my still operational left hand.
By the end of the second day I’m content, a fraction of my former self, unattractive perhaps, but pleased that only the most worthy and unbothersome parts remain to reflect the real me.
Inspired by the Choosing Sides prompt at Writingthe200. :
And what sides would you like with your burger? We’ve got fries, fruit salad, garden salad, 3 bean salad and couscous.
None of those. I would like two orders of pie.
Substitutions are not allowed.
I should hope not!
Should I give you some more time?
Where is this ‘more time’ on the menu?
I’ll come back when you’re ready to order.
I’m ready now! I would like a burger with banana cream pie and lemon meringue pie.
OK. Would you like a salad?
Bad for my heart.
Not for me.
3 bean salad?
I’ll fart all night.
So I’ve got you down for a burger with banana cream pie and lemon meringue pie.
You realize I’ll have to charge you for each order of pie?
I believe the use of stun guns is unlawful in our fair state.
You realize I’ll have to add the cost of each slice of pie to your check?
Seems fair. And don’t forget my dessert.
So a burger and three slices of pie?
Better make that burger to go. I have a busy night and this is taking an awfully long time.
In response to the Holiday Weekend prompt at Writingthe200.
Uncle Kazmo never paid for a meal in his life. Did he never eat out? Did he hold a position of influence or company paid charge card? Was he a revered man with many friends who insisted on picking up the tab? No, no, and most certainly no.
He had 365 fake id’s, one for every birth date that wasn’t his own, staggered in birth years to age him from 14 to 84, and a suitcase of hats, toupees and props lending credibility to his claims. A king of the complementary meal deal, he would drive 50 miles out of the way to take advantage of an offering. Vacations were planned around destinations abundant with free dining promotions.
Life with Uncle Kaz was no picnic. His dithering ways sent Aunt Dee to an early grave. No one knew she was allergic to shellfish until their holiday weekend spent in Oysterville.
‘Remember’, he coached Dee, as the server approached, check in hand, ‘We’ve been married 15 years today.’
‘Seems longer,’ were her last words before swelling up like a Macy’s balloon and expiring into a bowl of chowder while Kaz flashed a forged certificate and dickered over the charge for nuts.