Family Matters

Bob ran in the park every Saturday morning without fail. He didn’t particularly enjoy running. In fact he hated it. Still run he did, the scenery his only motivation to commitment. No, not the pretty, fragrant flowers full in bloom or the well-sculpted shrubbery lining the paths. What attracted Bob to run through the park Saturday mornings was the other visitors. During such a welcoming part of the season the grounds always seemed full to the brim with families, couples, and dogs to observe. Such a sight could not be passed up.

 

It was on one such fine day Bob’s life changed forever. Running along the same path as he always did Bob was observing a man playing fetch with his four-legged companion rather ungracefully when an elder man stepped forward to block his path. Standing firmly, ready to stop Bob if he should barrel into him, the man looked as if he’d just seen a ghost.

 

“You alright, mister?” Bob paused a few feet away, jogging in place.

 

“Bobby?” The man softly spoke.

 

“I’m sorry?” Bob craned his neck to hear.

 

“Bobby! Ma’ boy!” The man suddenly grinned, lunging forward. Taken off guard Bob found himself wrapped within the man’s strong arms.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Bob struggled to detached himself from the obscenely affection man.

 

“ I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” The man cried. Finally prying his fingers apart Bob all but threw the stranger away.

 

“Do I know you?” He asked, wishing he could remember his fifth grade karate lessons on self-defense.    

 

“I’m your father!” The man said happily. By then many people had drawn closer to see what all the hub-bub was about. Upon hearing this they burst into cheers. How sweet! A long-lost family reunion in the flesh! Let’s take a photo…

 

“My dad’s dead.” Bob said, more than a little put off. “Has been for five years.” 

 

The man blinked. “But that’s…”

 

“He died of cancer.” Bob stressed. “I don’t know who you are but I don’t appreciate the sick joke.”

 

The man blinked rapidly. In a flash his entire demeanor changed from needy father to distant victim. “You monster.” He hissed.   

 

“What?” Bob questioned.

 

“How dare you.” The man folded his arms crossly. “I have been searching for my son as far back as I can remember, and here you are taking advantage of that.” The crowd turned towards Bob, shock deeply felt. How could he?

 

Bob, more than a little confused, panicked. “What are you talking about? You were the one—”

 

“I hope you’re happy with yourself.” The man shoved past Bob roughly heading on his way. Everyone else left moments after, returning to their own activities a little wiser to the world and true nature of man.

 

From that day forward Bob never ran on Saturdays. Anywhere. It just wasn’t worth the personal risk to one’s reputation. 

Enough

“And then I was all like, excuse me? You did not just text that to me. I mean, like, why would he even say that?”

I shook my head, not because I didn’t know why he said that to her via text (I actually did, but that’s a different story), but because a half an hour into the conversation I felt as if all of my precious, precious brain cells had committed suicide via cyanide and melted away.

“I mean, I’m cute, I’m mature, I know what I’m talking about!”

Silently, staring beyond her head, I shook my head again.

“That lil’ bitch should just know to keep her nose out of other people’s business. I mean, like, just because he invited her doesn’t mean anything. He obviously still likes me better.” Loudly I groaned. She looked at me sharply, taken out of her zone. “What’s your problem?”

“Your stupidity is literally oozing all over me.” I sighed. “I’m afraid I’m going to catch it.”

“Excuse me?” She crinkled her nose.

“Go away.” I said bluntly.

“Uhm, who are you to complain?” She snapped her fingers. “You know nothing about me child.”

And that was it. I could take it no more. Pulling out my Smack Down Hand, I set about beating the girl across from me remorselessly. She tried to defend herself, but soon she collapsed on the ground in a sobbing fit.

“And let that be a lesson to you!”  I snarled as I stepped over her.

Feeling infinitely better about myself and the world I lived in, I skipped down the hall from then on considering myself a vigilante to all those who had ever dealt with an unreasonable amount of stupidity in their life. Help was on the way! 

Beach Tour

“What’s on the schedule today?” Amber asked as she poured milk over her cereal.

“Bridge.” Emily answered somberly, staring at the news paper rather than reading it.

Ever since the city had put them under house arrest, there had been nothing to do. They had been bank robbers, you see, and had been quite successful bank robbers at that. But with a rat and a dead engine to back them up, little could be done when the police had hauled them in.

Questioned beyond reason, none of the girls broke. Fearing a possible failed trial should they prosecute without actually having the money in hand (so to speak), the police department simply worked the system until the girls were trapped in a small, one bedroom apartment near the outskirts of town, to be held until one should snap from the isolation and spill the beans.

Months had passed. Sheer boredom was the worst the girls felt. Makeup parties can only entertain you for so long.

Amber wanted to drown in what little milk remained at the bottom of her cereal bowl. They would never break. To go from one prison to another never made much sense. But that didn’t mean they loved their current lives.

Josie, the third and last head to the operation, glanced out of the window as she walked by on her way to the kitchen (she’d always been a late riser). She had a clear view of the beach, even from their far back, “in the woods” rental home. “What do you say to a tour of that beach over there?” She nodded to the scene.

“Brilliant idea,” Emily said.

“Let us drive there with our nonexistent car. We could play all day and night and no one would miss us.” Amber sighed. “Honestly Josie, I worry about you sometimes.”

“Seriously though,” Josie said. “We could go.”

“How?” Emily said. Spending all your time around the two same girls sounded nice, but only for the first few weeks. Then it just gets bitchy.

“Take our ankle monitors off.” Josie said condescendingly.

“Another brilliant idea!” Amber slapped her knee. “Why hadn’t I thought of that?”

Josie, appearing calm, walked the kitchen counter and grabbed a knife from the top draw. Emily and Amber tensed. Emily actually stood from her stool in preparation to defend herself in case her friend had finally gone stir crazy.

Josie swung her leg atop the counter in such a way that would make any ballerina jealous. Carefully, she poked and pried at the strap around her ankle until it fell off with a pop.

Emily and Amber gasped. “How did you do that?” They crowded around their comrade like flies to jelly.   

“You two are so air headed,” Josie laughed. “While you slept and commiserated, I worked on a way for us to escape.”

“But how did you learn to get the bracelets off?” Amber questioned. “It’s not like we have internet. You can’t Google things without Internet.”

“It’s called using your imagination.” Josie scolded. “Apparently you forgot you had one. I used trial and error until suddenly…” She held up the tracking device with a sly grin.

“I knew we kept you around for something.” Emily hugged her new best friend. “Now hurry up and get mine off.” Josie rolled her eyes.

A few hours later (these things take time) the trio left the house for the first time in a long time. Amber stretched every muscle in her body, careful to not toss around the picnic basket in her hands too much. “I suppose we will have to walk,” She said sadly.  

“Oh come on,” Josie came up behind her. “ We’ve been stuck inside for far too long to be complaining about something so little. Besides, you could use the exercise.”

Amber gasped horror-struck. Emily dashed between the two and skipped down the street. “You two losers coming or what?” She called behind.

Pearly white sand greeted them first, followed by a clear blue mirror, mildly lapping against the shore in a routine sort of way. Accompanied by the distant chirps of seagulls, there were little trepidation about the sudden change in their daily schedules or the possible repercussions that could result from said change.

For now, the girls lived in the moment how they most wanted to. Free. With a side serving of ham and cheese sandwiches.  

Fruit Ninja

“Oh, and we need some nectarines.”

“Ok,” Grabbing one, two, three nectarines, I put them in a bag and deposited them in our cart.

“Oh, and some oranges too.”

“Alright,” I grabbed five oranges (because I really like oranges), put them in a bag and placed them next to the nectarines. “Why are we getting so much?” I asked. A plethora of fruit splayed out before us. We could start our own stand with the amount we continued to add to. Bananas, apples, grapes, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, the list was endless and continued into eternity.

“We’re just stocking up.” My mom answered.

“Stocking up for what?” I shuffled the cart a hair to the left so she could reach the pineapples. “Most of this stuff is gonna rot before we have a chance to eat it.”

“We’ll see,” A whole pineapple in each hand, she hurried on. Shrugging I continued to follow her. My mom could be strange on occasion, but usually with good motivation. Who knows, perhaps we really were opening a stand?     

Suddenly a whoosh sped past my ear. Flinching, I turned looking for the bug to swat. I noticed a stand of watermelon next to my elbow. One particularly plump melon perched on top of the pile, almost as if to say “Pick me!” A certain reflection made me lean in close. To my shock I saw what appeared to be a metal star sticking out of the green skin. A thin trail of pale pink juice leaked out of the hole it left as I pried it out. “Hey mom…?” I wasn’t sure I saw what I saw. Was it a weapon? It looked an awful lot like…

A woman screamed and a man yelled. Glancing up, I saw a lone figure a few feet away dressed in all black. He disappeared and reappeared before me suddenly. I could only see his eyes as they coldly stared down at me. Reaching out he took the shuriken from my hands, drew a sword, and disappeared again.

Hands grabbed my shoulders. “Oh crap,” I heard my mom say. My mouth hug ajar in the stupidest way. What had I just seen?

Chaos exploded around me. More whooshing sounds accompanied an explosion of fruit which quickly coated everything in a sticky mess. My mom pulled me down out of sight and covered my eyes. I fought to see through her fingers and glimpsed an amazing sight.

The man darted from left to right slicing and dicing. The other shoppers who had been near had also ducted and covered only to have various fruit parts shower down upon their heads. I sat in awe at the spectacle.

As quickly as it started it ended. No more was the fruit section of our local grocery store. Shattered wood and seeds littered the floor and my hair. All was quiet and I saw no more of the man in black.

“Wow,” I whispered. My mom stood and pulled me after. “Was that a—ninja?”

“Why does this keep happening to me?” My mom shouted hysterically. The other shoppers looked to her in shock. Sighing, she looked at our cart. Pulp dripped from between the grates in a sick, murder scene fashion. She kicked it angrily and stormed off.

“Mom!” I ran after. “Mom, what was that? That—was the coolest thing ever!”

Sympathy for a Monster

There once was a queen far more ruling than any others. Never a sign of weakness in either mind or body; confidence and courage were her virtues. With a level of mercilessness previously thought woman incapable of, she quickly put down any opposition that grew zealous enough to tempt her hand.

 

On a day much like many others the Queen sat in her court room attended by a servant. A loud scramble of shouts and feet rose outside the door. The court doors were flung open and a procession of few men entered. A figure drug behind two men from the village strode next to the Queen’s advisor, who always was careful to walk with the greatest air of importance wherever he went, regardless of what he was doing. Today, however, it was not forced. Whatever the occasion for his sudden visit, he felt was of the upmost importance.

 

“My Queen!” He proclaimed as he stopped before her. “I bring the gravest news. This thing,” He turned and pointed to the, what she could see to be, creature, slumped between the two men. “I learned to be terrorizing the local towns, spreading false rumors about the crown. After many nights of hunting we finally cornered and captured it.” All the men looked quite proud in this moment. “We ask that you justly punish this wretch for his crimes against the throne.”

 

The Queen looked upon the figure brought before her. Stockier than most men, his hair hung in grey tendrils past his ears until they just brushed against his shoulders. His skin also appeared grey and worn, not through age but through abuse and neglect.

 

“Daemon,” She addressed him. “Do you have a name?”

 

At first there came no answer. Impatient, her advisor struck the being across the cheek, which brought forth “No, I lack such things as identity”.

 

“Have you done what you are accused of?” The Queen asked next.

 

“Yes I have.” The creature answered this time without prompt.      

 

“Then it just lies as to why you would perpetrate such things. I rule over simple people with simple lives. Their greatest wish is to live peacefully the way they always have. My one duty is to make sure that happens. Why would you desire to disturb our way of life?” 

 

“I came into this world seeking nothing but companionship from my fellow creatures. But I found nothing but spit. Shall I not then hate them who abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies.” The thing spoke in a steady voice, though he avoided all gazes and kept his eyes down.  

 

 “But tell me, how am I an enemy? Surely I have never met your before nor have I objurgated you in any way uncalled for in my rule. Why then do you target me?”

 

The creature shifted uncomfortably. “You are the ruler of these people. If they treat me poorly, you would surely do the same.”

 

The Queen tilted her head. “Simple words from a wise man.”

 

Alarmed, her advisor scoffed. “Your majesty, you would call such a creature wise? This vile thing could never even hope for wisdom.” And again he leaned forward and struck the monster.

 

With keen eyes but a keener sense the Queen observed this. She thought for a moment, a small, telling smile spreading across her lips. She sat up rail straight with the greatest of ease.

 

“All men hate the wretched.” She spoke, keeping her eyes on the hunched figure before her. “Am I not considered wretched by some?” She turned to her servant, who remained by her side. “Boy, do you consider me wretched?” Under her steady gaze the young boy quaked and could not answer. “Do you see?” She turned back to the others. “Surely the most wretched of all creatures am I, to garner such fear from even those who follow me. How then should I proceed? All I have condemned to miserable deaths I would consider wicked and evil, but above all bad; deserving of such fates as I have set down. But not wretched; never wretched.” The Queen rose and descended the few steps setting her above the room. “Life, unfair, seeming only to breed disease of the human heart; its significance is not lost on me, and therefore I will defend it where I see fit.”    

 

At this the bowed figure raised his head. Others turned away at the sight, but the Queen did not shy away. She found herself oddly drawing into the monster’s intricate features, some gentle, others sharp, molding together into something which gave off a genuine sense of misinterpretation. “You will not die today, or any other day. You will live as long as I surely will.” Touching his shoulder, the once despised rose from his position and followed the Queen out of the court, unburdened from his previous bonds brought on by humanity.

 

*Note: Back from poetry with a vengeance! Can anyone guess what this is inspired by? It’s a classic novel written by a woman…