Wilhelmina Winters, Fifty-Eight

Wil looked up, startled. Sure enough, there stood her beloved step-brother. His mouth was turned up in its characteristic jeer. From where her mind had just been, she immediately wondered if Jakob knew the content and meaning of the papers an inch beyond her reaching hands. Instinctively, she snatched them and brought them to her chest.

She sniffed, raised her head, and turned to look back at the windows. Jakob laughed a bit, though not as deeply as any of them had for years. Looking around the room once, he dropped into a chair near the table and put his feet up. His imitation down coat exhaled against the imitation leather backing as his worn boots clunked onto the imitation wood tabletop. If Wil hadn’t moved her things, his feet would have landed on them.

She carefully backed into a chair that was still upright. Lifting her required reading for English class in her left hand, she pretended to be absorbed in it. As Jakob snorted, tilted his head onto the back of the chair, and closed his eyes, Wil slid the sensitive papers to her side with her right hand. She winced as they crinkled audibly, and hurriedly shoved them under her thigh.

Jakob snorted again, and turned his angled head to look at Wil. “Is Mom in the back?”

Wil nodded. Aloud, she added, “She was coughing a lot and said we needed to come to the hospital.”

Regular sterile hospital sounds filled the quiet after she spoke: distant footsteps, muted beeping and paging, and the rush of the heated air warming the room from floor vents.

Jakob cleared his throat, then swallowed. Though he tried to hide it, his voice sounded huskier as he asked, “Is she okay?”

Wil looked over the top of the page and met his eyes. They were blue like Cynthia’s, but more serious than his stepmother’s ever were. As much as Jakob teased Wil, it was this seriousness that stopped Wil from teasing as much as he did.

“I don’t know,” she admitted, “but I don’t think she’s dying yet.” She attempted a weak smile, and Jakob’s mouth resisted the urge to complete one of his own. He rolled his eyes and breathed in deeply.

“Nice, Minnie,” he said sarcastically, and closed his eyes again.

Between his pretended napping and Wil’s pretended reading, they only jumped a bit at the door suddenly opening and admitting a plump nurse into the room just a few minutes later.

“Well, hello again!” her ever-cheery voice enthused. It was Nurse Bea, forever full of glee.

 

Continued from Fifty-Seven.
Keep reading to Fifty-Nine.

The World Through Prismatic Glasses

“When I grow up,”
I say
From too-tall counters, unfair portions, summer bedtimes.

When I grow up,
I hope
For friends, a car, no one ever telling me, “No.”

When I grow up,
I think
Promises will be kept, rules followed; the world blacks and whites.

 

Grown up,
I see
Crumb-filled countertops, imperfect pieces, little sleep.

Grown up
I wish
For friends, fewer expenses, parents’ good advice.

Grown up
I learn
People are human, rules bend; the world….

Is rainbowed

I take a crayon and draw my mind:
Greening forest,
Glittering sky,
And a yellow tent,

Glowing from within.

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Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt
Cindy Chen

The Sneetches

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Ah, Dr. Suess. What a fantastic writer! Many know that his real name was Theodor Suess Geisel, and that he drew political cartoons and even produced several short films before the fame of The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham. If not, I taught you something new.

I love poetry. Perhaps you’ve seen some of mine or have read my post about Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Dr. Suess is the best poet for young children. Believe me: I have children and was once a child myself. Because of those two things, I have read some terribly crappy attempts at rhymes in books geared toward kids. Suess, on the other hand, wrote simple poetry with simple words and simple illustrations long before sight word/level reading stuff. And Suess didn’t suck.

As a parent, I say the true sign of excellence in youth material is whether I can watch or read it and not want to gnaw my own arm off just to get away. I can read Suess’ books repeatedly and enjoy them.

The Sneetches is no exception. The story follows a group of creatures who all look the same -except some have a star on their bellies. “…(B)ecause they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches/Would brag, ‘We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.'” Meanwhile, the Plain-Belly Sneetches are excluded, spending their time together feeling sad at being left out.

And that’s how they treated them year after year.

Why didn’t the Plain-Bellies just hold their own frankfurter roasts and ball games? Well, we get some clue as to the common sense of these yellow, birdlike animals when a stranger comes to their beaches and specifically addresses the left-out group:

“My friends,” he announced in a voice clear and keen,
“My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I’ve heard of your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.
But I can fix that. I’m the Fix-it-Up Chappie.”

 

McBean builds a machine that can put stars on bellies, and charges $3 apiece. Then, when the original group is upset over the class-leveling, he builds another machine that removes stars (for $10 each!). Chaos ensues, expressed in my favorite stanza of the tale:

They kept paying money. They kept running through
Until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one . . . or that one was this one
Or which one was what one . . . or what one was who.

 

It pleasantly tickles a literary nerve, doesn’t it? Sigh.

The last literary element that makes Dr. Suess the best is teaching a moral. The Lorax and such are more heavy-handed than I like, but The Sneetches gives us a gentle tap of reprimand.

After McBean literally takes all their money, he leaves. “They never will learn,” he laughs. “No. You can’t teach a Sneetch.” Seuss, meanwhile, tells us a different message:

But McBean was quiet wrong. I’m quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day….

 

Read Suess, even for yourself. Share this story with others. Then, perhaps, the world will remember that “…Sneetches are Sneetches/And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.”

Caption Contest: WINNER

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Last Friday I posted this picture and challenged my fabulous followers to come up with a caption. For those who might be curious, I’m fairly certain this was taken in Bountiful, Utah at a Carl’s, Jr. play place.

Thank you to all who entered; you are all winners and get a virtual trophy for your virtual shelf somewhere. 🙂 In fact, here’s a virtual high five from me for commenting and making everyone’s day brighter.

Five

My favorite entry was from Jon, of Missionary Sojourn:

With a growing number of senior citizens failing to make it through the new Daniel-in-the-Lion’s-Den attraction, the zoo felt compelled to institute a new rule.

The other entries are below:

Magicquill: The sign’s wrong. They probably reversed the digits of the number in a hurry.

BibleBloggerGirl: Hmm. Apparently you aren’t “never too old.”

Bladud Fleas: Dear Mr. Blippi.
As you may have already guessed from the alterations, after some consideration, the producers have agreed to extend your contract for a further twenty years. We trust you are making financial arrangements beyond this time as we will then certainly be requiring a much younger man.
kind regards,
KidzTV

Bladud Fleas: Miriam and Darren had always desired original and unique names for their new twins and, as far as they knew, no one in their close circle had yet named their children “48” or “Under”.

 

Mr. Jon, if you would be so kind as to e-mail me at chelseaowenswrites@gmail.com, then I will hook you up with your prize.

Skinwalkers, XXIX

“You’d better take that,” Nathan said. “I’m fat.”

Shin laughed. “You know that used to mean -”

“Yeah.” Nathan smiled. “I know.” Patting his abdomen, he said, “I ate the tartlet after a full midmeal bundle, so I might be that definition, too.”

They both stared at the hot food, their levity evaporating with the steam. For a moment, neither moved. Neither spoke. The air between and around the two friends filled instead with a thousand unspoken questions, of potential connections that neither wished to initiate.

Nathan moved first, turning to glance at Shin’s impressive collection of stolen sensory modules. “So, what’s your plan with the mods?”

Shin eyed them as well. Sighed. “I, um, well… I thought to sell them and make enough to stick around.” He rubbed the back of his head and shuffled his feet. “Don’t really know the right contact, though.”

“Hmm.”

Shin stopped shuffling and looked slyly at Nathan. “You wouldn’t know anyone, would ya?”

Now Nathan shifted uncomfortably. He did, but also knew the potential risk that awaited those who thought to walk illegal paths. In fact, he was only just seeing the crumbling edges of the business deal he’d made with Franks, one he’d felt confident he could handle.

“Nathaniel?”

Shin’s anxious query, his concerned look brought Nathan back to the situation at hand. “I don’t think it’s as easy as you think it might be…” Nathan began. His gaze flitted to Shin’s face, but his friend seemed bemused.

“Well, I don’t think it’s a simple citystroll down to Wal-Bank or something!”

“Sure, it’s just that -”

“Nathaniel.” Shin’s smile became a piercing expression. “Let’s get real.” He straightened, all pretense gone.

Nathan, riveted, subconsciously held his breath.

“I’ve got some real cred here,” Shin began.

Nathan let out a little air.

“I need a way to charge in.”

Nathan relaxed a bit more.

“Really, though,” Shin said, “I think we need to address the big questions. Like, why do you have two comms, a fresh skin, and the insistence to keep this all to yourself?”

 

Continued from Skinwalkers, XXVIII.
Read to Skinwalkers, XXX.

In My Day…

I have four children. Due to genetics, they’ve inherited some of my traits. Due to upbringing, they’ve picked up most of the others.

That’s all well and good where brilliance and toe-dexterity are concerned, but has drawbacks in terms of …debilitating negative thoughts and self-consciousness about how apelike those toes are.

My oldest is a near-miniature clone of me; except male, better looking, and more confident. He’s on a hormonal roller coaster lately. With his baseline mood and perspective, that amusement park ride is a rather broken and dangerous sort, with mostly downs to sudden stops and views of creepy vines and threats of bottomless chasms.

Pre-pubescence is a beast.

We recently sent him off to a week-long scouting camp with high hopes and supportive smiles …and, got a phone call his first night that he wants to come home. He was homesick.

If I were reading this blog, I’d jump on the comments and say, “Kids these days are coddled and helicoptered! Tell him to suck it up. Why did you even give him a cell phone at 12?!”

First, I didn’t. Give him a phone, I mean. I’m determined that he won’t own one till 18 or 21 or even 35 some days. He keeps borrowing other people’s to call me. Plus, I literally told him to give it more time and if he was still struggling then we could arrange for him to come home.

*Smacks head* I should not have said that. I shouldn’ta said that.

Now he wants a ride home. And knows I’m a person of my word. And will internally never forget how I didn’t keep my word if I simply tell him, “Nevermind.” Yes he will.

Instead of telling me to tell him to suck it up, thus destroying our trust, what are some truly helpful phrases to tell a depressive mind? My followers who know anxiety and depression, how would you have talked to your twelve-year-old self?

Wilhelmina Winters, Fifty-Seven

“However does a woman of my station get into such fixes?” sighed Wilhelmina Winters, heiress of Tara, and belle of East Dixie. The dainty, shadowed face she spoke to could not respond, but did return her wistful look exactly. In fact, her companion returned all Ms. Winters’ expressions and movements. She was limited only by the edge of the window, where the wall began.

Ms. Winters leaned against the cool glass, touching her cheek sadly to that of her mute friend. She breathed deeply, rustling the deep satin of her long, ruffled dress. She contemplated on how frequently she had the misfortune to return to this lonely room, to this forsaken institution.

Her father, the well-known army general, owner of the prosperous Winters Manufacturing Co-Op, and current master of Tara, had thoughtfully left his daughter enlightening materials with which to properly divert herself. But, Ms. Winters hadn’t the heart to read her school-book at present. She felt only the desire to brood; or, perhaps, to commiserate with the outside-elements-filled version of her own self she saw reflected back.

A door opened; a nurse came hurriedly out. He did not come to Ms. Winters, nor acknowledge her presence. The happy flurry Ms. Winters’ heart had felt now settled down deeply in disappointment. The return of the same distracted nurse a minute later settled her spirits further still.

He entered the door he had previously exited, leaving only the memory of teal-green behind. The air disturbed by his actions blew slightly at the book Ms. Winters was to read whilst waiting, resting unobtrusively upon a table nearer to the room’s exit. Her eye, drawn by the action, finally saw a most important thing she had missed at first glance: her book sat upon the papers she had been reading when her mother first realized their need to come hurriedly to this institution.

In short, an important letter that Ms. Winters had been curious to continue reading was sitting there within her reach! Forgetting her window friend immediately, she strode briskly across the low-pile floor. Her grand black boots stepped solidly as her wide, full skirt shushed silkily atop its stiffened crinoline.

Forgetting decorum, she excitedly reached both hands toward her things, upsetting a few periodicals and a neighboring chair.

“Hel on wheels,” a sarcastic voice said from the room’s entrance. Jakob had arrived; just in time to witness Wil’s graceful rush to the table, and just in time to use one of his favorite nicknames for her.

 

Continued from Fifty-Six.
Keep reading to Fifty-Eight.

Heavenly Upheaval

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Miniscule man, pleading    up    up     up
To heaven’s crying firmament;
Sobbing down cemented sides
Of the citadels of shadowed faith.

No comfort here, outside halls of hell
Topped by stone-shaped demons;
Leering, spouting speakers are they,
Grotesquely grinning a gurg’ling flow.

Their curling tongues lick sewer lies
That wash no sin, only pointed horns;
Artistic expressions of monsters
Spitting heaven’s waste   down    down     down.

Timid heaven-bound thoughts falter,
Deluged in gargoyle vomit:
Mocking faith-dead mental misery
With beast-retched waste water words.

 

In response to The Literati Mafia.

Perdu and Dod o Hyd

Suitcase

Henri couldn’t believe his luck, stranded at Aberystwyth with only the clothes on his back.

“Don’t worry; you’ll only need your carry-on,” his wife had said. “You can even put your wallet and passport in there.”

He stared up at the station timetable, trying to make sense of the ridiculously long Welsh words, and sighed.

Gwilym, meanwhile, couldn’t believe his luck. As a pickpocket, he needed to be careful working the stations; and yet, he’d not lifted a single wallet for today’s find.

Once outside the Hereford station, he opened the battered suitcase. “Henri, eh? Merci, mon ami.”

 

Carrot Ranch Literary Community Entry