Her friends complained. Her parents nagged. But she did keep a job, if nothing else. She was fine, and she said it frequently enough to convince herself, if not others. No veiled recommendations or blatant admonishments penetrated her fog of routine.
But one evening, retracing the daily path, she heard the leaves crunch.
Beneath her feet, obscuring the concrete, was a blanket of gold, cadmium, and vermilion that taunted the limitations of language. The crisp air stung her lungs. Her knit scarf soothed the wind’s bite.
She hadn’t noticed, but something broke her, to let such miracles go unnoticed.
Marching Orders for CHIRM
Mission Class: H – F.C.R.
Littleton Colorado, Annual Summer Festival of the Arts, 16 September 1997, 13:28
Subject: 2′ 9” Female, curly reddish hair, flowered shirt, affinity for pinwheels.
No wings or halos–that’s C and above stuff. That day it got sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt–much more comfortable for observing. Continue reading #WhimWord: Bustle
3 months of anxiety, 2 weeks of nightmares, 3 days of nausea, 2 sleepless nights, and 6 hours of hyperventilating.
Now, she lies on the floor as deep husky voice tells her to feel her muscles lengthen and loosen and fall through the floor for the last 15 minutes before she must abandon her sanctuary. But instead of dropping through the floor, images of dropped lines flood her mind bringing a tide of anxiety and nausea and nightmares and hyperventilating.
Trying to regain composure, her roommate’s question rings in her ears: Don’t you find it ironic that something called a “play” is ruining your life?
“Escuchame–don’t you dare waste this. Your papi and I didn’t travel this far for you to daydream and throw this away. Ya?”
“Of course, Mother.”
“That’s my Mira.”
But she was afraid, so during recess, while the gringos played and chatted, Mira hid in the book alcove, listening to her teacher make a phone call.
“So, I’ve got an illegal immigrant to deal with… I know! I’m not an a language teacher and I have 24 students already… It absolutely will end in disaster. She’ll fall behind, act out, drop out… Integrating these kids, it’s just a waste.”
“On your left, way you’ll find the original monastery built during the life of Saint Francis…”
The heat absorbed her words. The nearest tree was out of range of the guide’s voice, so the tourists politely sweltered, letting their minds wander to anything that wasn’t the Italian summer sun on white stone cobblestones.
The locals smirked from the darkened windows.
Wiping her brow, she looked longingly towards the forbidden patch of earth, and she realized how ridiculous they all were. Even the pigeons, who normally seemed oblivious to anything besides breadcrumbs, all cowered from the sun in the shade.
Another productive day, the sun scorches his retinas through his eyelids and brings him from Resting into New Potential.
In the carefully calculated route, he moves from the bedroom, to the bathroom, ending in the kitchen, where he fixes his Nutritious Breakfast in exactly nine minutes and thirteen seconds, and then consumes it in five minutes and forty-seven seconds, using the allotted fifteen minutes exactly.
The precisely choreographed routine brings every citizen to Designated Work without traffic or delay–not a moment wasted.
At his desk he checks the clock–nine o’ clock. He smiles and begins: “Welcome to Desert Bluffs!”
“Get that finance report to me by the end of the day, bud.”
At the office working my adult five-to-nine job, wearing uncomfortable adult clothes, and, suddenly, I was seven again.
I was seven again. In my room, wearing my favorite Spider-Man pajamas, pulling the rocket-ship blankets up to my face, and the lightening was crashing outside, and I swear, I swear, the shadows on the walls cackled as the trees shook in the wind, and just as a scream started to form in my throat—the hallway light and the door and a reassuring question: “You okay, bud?”
Hiking was a bad idea, his calves screamed. When he said he liked adventures, he meant cyberspace ones, or at least ones that didn’t require rising before the sun.
She wasn’t even panting.
He would have relished the view of her petite frame climbing ahead of him, but survival preoccupied his mind.
At the top, the view stopped his breath: the newly risen sun bathed the valley orange, highlighting her blue eyes.
“Absolutely. It’s a volcano, right?”
“Not quite—caldera’s the technical term.”
Of course, she’s a know it all too, and the sun slipped behind the clouds.
An unfamiliar crunch–sharper than the toast–stopped my chew. A gentle prodding with my tongue found the culprit.
On the tip of my finger, between the bread bits and pulverized berries, stood a bit of curved red, speckled with black: a lady bug wing, in the jam, on my toast.
How sad that this strawberry, meant to be his home, caused his death and became his tomb.
I brushed off my fingers and finished my toast, making a mental note to avoid that brand of jam in the future. The breakfast table shouldn’t be interrupted with such morbid musings.
The swell folks of #SmallTales made a video for my entry:
How splendid is that?!