Category Archives: fictionation

Worth Waiting For

DSCF5929sThis little plot of soil has every type of wildflower you could think of growing on it. Except, there are no flowers yet. No blossoms. But green leaves and stems and vines are everywhere, sprouts and shoots that soak up the sun and look as if they could grow into towering giants.

DSCF4737sOne bud opened before the mower came. Small and red as rubies, the ragged petals unfurled, the light caught in its throat, and it sang to the sky. This first flower was also the last.

The Gardener mowed down the flower buds, the vines, every last little bit of life was cut down and died in the sun. Everything, gone. Then the surgery happened. The Gardener pulled out the tender living things by the roots, one by one, every last bit. The soil was raw and tender and exposed. There was no more promise of flowers in the sun, of vines curling around susan stems, of new life sprouting from deep dark earth. The future was empty.

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It wasn’t too bad until the hoe started coming down, chopping gaping wounds in the earth, removing every vestige of green that had once been so beautiful. When rain came it stung the soil, pounding hard where droplets had once fallen softly, their path slowed by tender leaves and letting the earth drink slow. Now the rain hurt. It carried away crumbs of black. The soil lay flattened, soggy, and hopeless.

It waited. Waited until the sun began to shine again. Waited to warm up. The Gardener took the hoe that had caused so much damage and fluffed up the dark loam. The soil was ready for something. Ready for anything. What was the world waiting for?

Specks dropping in the wind from a hand high above, landing in the bruised and beaten dirt. Seeds that immediately began to warm and send out fuzzy roots. Seeds without competition, that couldn’t grow in the shade of living things, that wouldn’t have lived among the roots of established life. The seeds sprouted. Grew green and tall and pulled the crumbs of soil together, healed the cracks, softened the rain, and then sprouted buds.

These buds weren’t like the wildflowers. This soil wasn’t like the wild loam. Unsatisfied, it was tender, still waiting for new beginnings until the first shafts of yellow peeked from leaf covers and reflected the sun in all her blazing glory. This is what we were waiting for.

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Top Chicken

THE CAST

Charlotte, a Top Chicken
Rosy, a Chicken
That Strange Person, a Person

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Charlotte, Top Chicken

That strange person is back again. She’s approaching the coop. I charge to the front to investigate. I’m top chicken. Somebody’s got to take charge.

Is she after us? What did she do with our normal caretaker? We don’t know you, strange person! Go away! Or let us out to graze!

What’s that? You’ve got corn? Wow! Food! Let’s eat!

She gets into the coop when I’m not looking, having cleverly distracted the lot of us with succulent corn kernels. Now what’s she up to? Bringing food? Bringing water? I scoot under her, between her legs, peck at her shoe. She don’t bother me. I’m top chicken. But I don’t notice when she’s crouching down. Right on top of me!

Charlotte!” she says. “Skedaddle! I nearly sat on your head!”

I don’t care. I stalk around to her front side and prepare to dismantle her plastic croc. There’s got to be something good in there. Oh look! Sausages!

Bah, sausages can’t hold my attention. That dolt Rosy might be interested, but not me! Stuff to do! Business to attend to! What’s that? An odd round orb? An… an egg? What is it?

Get away from that, Charlotte,” she says, rudely knocking me away from the mysterious orb. I scoot back, stretch my neck long to keep my body at a safe distance, and further examine this oddity.

Back, Charlotte!” she says again, swatting me away. I walk back.

Charlotte, go away!” She pushes me back, and I nearly lose my balance. Rude. Humans think they own everything.

Then I see she’s got Rosy in her clutches. Look at that! She’s holding Rosy down just for me so I can peck Rosy’s face while she’s immobilized! I strut over and prepare to strike.

Get, Charlotte!” The strange person pushes me away before I can attack. Foiled again. No matter, I’m top chicken. I strut back and examine Rosy’s face, searching for the tenderest patch for me to sink my beak into.

Get away, bird! I’m trying to look at Rosy!” Again, rudely shoved away. But I won’t be intimidated. I walk right back.

Charlotte…!” And again, she shoves me away before I can attack! I’ve had it. Bully human. Foiling my plans. I’m a busy bird. I’ve got stuff to do, things to investigate. You can’t treat me like that.

I strut over to the side of the strange person, in a place she’s not looking. She’s not paying attention to me. I muster my strength and land a sharp peck on her thigh.

Charlotte! What!”

Now I’ve got her attention. I look up indignantly and give her my best evil eye. “Buk!” My most indignant cluck. That’ll show her.

She releases that dork Rosy and all of a sudden catches me up instead. The nerve! The indignity! My feathers are being ruffled! Wait, she’s looking me in the eye. She’s holding me up to her face. This is all right, I guess. I am top chicken, after all.

So you wanted attention, did you?” she asks me, her giant nose inches from my beak.

Buk,” I say placidly, and tip my head at her. This is more like it. This is the attention I deserve. Of course, my elevation has nothing at all to do with my importance as top chicken. But I appreciate the gesture.

There. Now you’ve got it,” the strange person says. And then she tips me on my side! I’m unbalanced! My feet are sideways and so is my head! I start kicking.

Okay okay I’m putting you down,” she says. Soon as my feet touch the ground I spring up and strut away. We’re done here.

Rosa

There are two rows of kids’ chairs, six long each, in the school library. But they’re not just chairs. These are bus seats from the 1950’s, and this is Rosa Parks’ bus. That there is Rosa Parks’ seat. That seat, ladies and gents, is mine.

I’m too young to see much of a difference between the real and imagined. To me, real is imaginary, and imaginary is real. I’m seven years old, and I take to the stage like duct tape to my hair. There’s no difference at all between playing the part and playing little old me. The world’s my stage, and the stage is my world.

Will you get out of your seat?” the policeman asks me, Rosa Parks.

No!” I tell him with dignity. And that is that.

Nine years later I’m back in a classroom. Three judges are staring me down from behind a table, so close I can almost feel them breathing. The timer, all six years of her, is staring at me as well. My stomach knots as I ask if they’re ready. And I begin to speak to them.

I’m not Rosa Parks anymore. I stutter, I stall, I shiver. I don’t throw up, like some newbies do. A hundred speeches later I learn that the judges stay behind the table. I’m safe. Only then do I throw all caution to the wind and share the depths of my heart with strangers, because this is what makes a good speech. Being comfortable with vulnerability. For me, that’s building an invisible wall.

Join a conversation with a real human being. There is no stage. There is no fourth wall. No screen between writer and reader, no table for judges to sit behind. This is face to face. Having outgrown the ability to work unshielded, I internalize the wall. It grows too close for anyone to pass through, except those who have the key.

On the inside of this wall is Rosa. Ready to take on the world.

What If

The clock chimes eleven times. Your back aches, but not so much as your mind. The screen grows relentlessly, twenty tabs open. Your fingers clasp the uni-ball pen, unwilling to let go. Unwilling to give up this project.

You barely remember nights when you slept deeply. The ideas from your thesis come with you to your dreams, wrestling inside your head throughout the night. Your advisor’s words echo, bounce from thread to counterthread. This argument is weak. This idea needs exploring. You know he’s right. You blink, eyes dry. Dry long ago.

Alone in your apartment, working. You’re 29 years old. Your thesis is nearly finished. You’ve been fighting for it for years, ripping apart arguments, consuming and digesting ideas quicker than M&Ms. Your mind is sharp as a whip. Your hand cramped from notetaking. You’ve time for nothing else. This paper must be finished.

The clock chimes. Once. You drop the pen. Press the button. Turn off the monitor. You drop into bed, alone. Right before sleep swallows your mind, you wonder. What if?


You’re exhausted. You can’t move, you’re so tired. And you didn’t even get anything done. Hair in your eyes, plastered to your forehead. One child hanging onto your ankles, another asleep in your lap. You feel heavier than lead.

Dishes weren’t done. You remember when you hear a clank come from the kitchen. He’s cleaning them again, Old Reliable. You stroke the angel’s down head of your babe, admire the soft face, clenched fists, button nose. Your head falls back against the sofa.

A warm hand on your arm. You jerk awake.

“Hey,” he says, a pile of leftovers in hand. He plops down on the couch beside you. “Long day?”

You nod. Motion for quiet, glance at your lap. He eats in silence. You’re pretty sure the little girl on your ankles is asleep too.

Hours after sunset, you drag yourself up to the bedroom. Cranky kids, too sleepy to go to bed. By the time you’ve got everyone settled, you’re a zombie, circles hanging under your eyes. Hubby’s long been asleep. He’s lucky you don’t have the energy to wake him. You collapse into bed.

Right before you’re gone, you remember, for just a moment, all the ideas you had, all the research papers you could have torn apart, all the brilliant academic arguments you could have fought and won. You had so much potential. What if?


You’re still young. You refuse to do anything half-heartedly. Two roads diverge. You look down both. You will choose. One, or the other. There is no both. Not for you.


You did it. The diploma says PhD. The final grades are in. You’re even employed! You feel infinitely relieved, want to shout, “I’m done!” You’re ready to start teaching. You’re the leading expert in your field. Your paper already got referenced. You’re ready to take on the world.


Your kid hands you a piece of paper, late afternoon, your hands in the sink. Colorful crayon marks all over it. She points to one of the circles with the wide grins spreading outside their faces, an abstract tree behind it. “You,” she says.

“Lovely,” you tell her.

The drawing isn’t yours. Ungraded, unfit for academic attack. The kid is a being all her own, grinning up at you. She’s alive.