Dear Teacher

Dear Smile Fingers,
I sleep in my bed with Blankie and not in the car turned around so I couldn’t see you until Milk Hands took me out and said hi and buh-bye and you leaned in and said I’ve gotten fat and you don’t know where my brother is oh no you don’t and bed is good but the car is gooder.

—–

Dear Mrs. Smith,
Mom made me pull out all my school clothes, she put them in a box. She said [in a Mom voice] “We aren’t going to use these, so we may as well pack them up.” Then she made me put away the stuff from my desk we got from you. You remember when we went to your house and threw candy at you? [laughs] I don’t know where to put my folders so I put them under the bed but don’t tell Mom. I miss when you read to us but not when you made me put my book away.

—–

Dear Teacher,
I only know a little about you; from the e-mails you send, the Zoom meetings I overhear, and the morning videos you share every day. I spoke to you forever ago, at carpool pickup after school, but never appreciated what you did before that time.
Most days, I can’t get my son to get off the floor if he’s determined to melt there. Yet, every day; you taught him, motivated him, got him to work, and loved him. Your stinkeye is legendary.
As I tucked my baby into bed, I remembered how you smiled and talked to him at pickup. As we folded the school clothes and sorted the school folders, I remembered the school conferences and class parties you held. You were surrounded by noise and chaos but thrived and guided so all those children also thrived.
You’re amazing -I thought you should know.
I’m not sure what to tell you, as normal keeps getting put off till later, except for, “Thank you.” Thank you for the magic you performed for every person for every day. I know you’ll get to do it again; will you stick around till the baby’s old enough?
Anyway, thank you. And sorry about the candy-throwing.

 

Written for the teachers.

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Throwback Thursday: Midnight

Every year, I participate in Susanna Leonard Hill’s holiday writing contests. This is the first I ever submitted, inspired by some tiny candy corn men my son made -and inspired by his twisted sense of humor.

Chelsea Ann Owens

Candy Corn Men.jpgTick, tock, said Grandma’s mantel clock, pointing to ten.

Sadie watched it, frowning. It would never be Halloween at this rate!

She sleepily scrambled to the sofa arm. Perching unsteadily, she stretched shadowed arms to retrieve the clock. A bowl of candies knocked loose and spilled to the floor.

She stopped, listening. Only the clock said, Tick.

Prising open the monstrous, creaking casing; she nudged both hands to point up: midnight.

Ching, it said, then, tock.

“Hello!” a cheerful voice greeted. She looked down. The spilled candy corns were moving. A tiny hand waved.

“Hello!” It repeated, “May we eat you?”

Crafted for The 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest.

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Freddy and Teddy’s Valentines

Freddy and Teddy were best friends. They lived on the same street, liked the same candy, and loved the same robots movie. They even went to the same school, and sat behind each other in the same second grade class.

Valentine’s Day was the very next day and both boys were excited.

After school, their moms gave them 32 robot cards. Each spent a while tearing cards apart and writing “Freddy” or “Teddy” too many times.

The next morning, each got ready then walked to school together.

“I hope I didn’t skip anyone,” Freddy joked.

“Me, too,” Teddy laughed.

But later that afternoon, Teddy wasn’t laughing. He had dumped out all his Valentines only to find one missing.

There was no card from Freddy.

Teddy felt bad. “Freddy,” he said, “Why did you forget me?”

“What?” Freddy asked. Turning around, he saw Teddy’s frown. He felt bad. “I’m sorry, Teddy. I didn’t mean to.” Then, his eyes lit up. Freddy turned back to his desk, pulled a red paper from inside, cut carefully, and scribbled quickly.

Facing his best friend, he gave him a giant red heart. It read Best Friends. There was even a picture of a robot.

“Thanks, Freddy,” Teddy said, feeling better.

“You’re welcome,” Freddy said, happy to see Teddy smiling again.

 

Submitted for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny Contest.

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Hallowe’en Serial: 3rd Night

Continued from #2.

Carol noticed nothing, the image of a few bent window blinds storing itself cozily into her subconscious as she listened to her new favorite radio station.

♫ “You hate your boss at your job…” 

She sang along, though she didn’t hate her boss. Her boss was her husband. They were happily married, and had been for twenty-two years this November. No kids, of course. Carl hadn’t -well, maybe it really was Carol’s fault as he had suggested.

Miss Tight Skirts was expecting, probably from some discount store clerk. That’s where she got the ugly decorations from. Ugly decorations that could move…

No. Carol pushed the thought from her mind. Ceramics didn’t move, desks didn’t move, blinds didn’t -a black sedan pulled out into her lane and she had to jerk the steering wheel sharply to avoid impact. They honked at her and sped away into the night.

Her breathing almost matched her rapid heartbeat. This was the second time in one day she’d been scared enough to worry for her health. She tried to drive straight as she slowed her panicked breaths. Now, what had she been thinking about? Things looking at her?

♪ “Well, if you hear somebody knocking on your door / If you see something crawling across the floor / Baby, it’ll be me and I’ll be looking for you” ♪

Carol hadn’t heard the song; it sounded old, but still good. Catchy. Jerry Lee Lewis, perhaps… Her mother had kept a record.

Just then, a bright pair of headlights entered the road at her left side and she swerved to avoid yet another collision. “What is with the maniacs tonight?” she wondered aloud. She glanced over to at least glare at the driver. She couldn’t see anyone, so faced forward instead. Her mind did a double-take and she looked back.

No one.

It’s probably just a really short man or his seat’s set back really far, she told herself. The night was cloudy, too. The road was dark. She was tired. The driverless car drove off.

Carol slowed and turned onto her own suburban street, noting the tacky inflatable jack o’lanterns and grim reapers and Charlie Browns on her neighbors’ lawns. She’d forgotten Halloween was coming -in just one night, she realized. She’d have to pick up some candy and watch all the children. All the sweet children she’d never had to dress for Halloween nor take trick-or-treating.

Sighing, she drove up to their house. It was dark. Carl often forgot to leave the lights on for her, but he was never to bed this early. She opened the garage door and stopped in the driveway, engine idling.

Carl’s car was not there. The garage was as empty as a tomb.

Continued at #4.

Easter Hunt

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The scratched wood floor finally looked clear, though that status didn’t extend to its edges. A bit of green poked from a nook. Pink showed from an under-couch cranny. A wrapper crinkled from directly beneath her slipper.

Ann sighed, and stooped to free the purple foil from her sole. It stuck a bit stubbornly, finally releasing itself with a parting gift of caramel. At this moment, she felt a small tug at her left pant leg. She looked down at a three-year-old-grin looking up.

“Can I eat this?” A chocolate-mouthed creature asked. It proffered an unwrapped egg in its brown-tipped fingers.

Ann thought it might be her youngest child, and addressed it accordingly. “Sure, Jane,” she tiredly answered. Jane, as she proved to be, smiled the beatific smile of the sugar saturated young, shoved the chocolate into her mouth, and ran off. Ann cringed, hoping Jane would not feel inclined to touch or kiss anything. Realization hit; pants examined. She sighed, telling herself the brown barely showed against the natural, washed-out black of the yoga pants. If anything, it matched a few other spots.

She kneeled to extract the pink object under the couch. It made a light rattling sound. Sitting widened thighs against middle-aged cankles, she carefully opened the plastic egg. Broken bits of candy shell rained a light powder upon her lap. Two half-clad Hershey’s eggs rolled inside the plastic halves within her grip.

“Those are mine!” Will said, suddenly at her side. Ann hadn’t heard him approach; had, in fact, been calling the boy for the last half hour to come clean up his mess or she was going to throw it away. As always, she was amazed at how quickly the children could move when given their definition of “proper motivation.”

Will stuck out a hand to accept the shells’ inner contents. His mother obliged. He closed his fist; she winced. Leaving her with a parting scowl of entitlement, he ran off after his sister. Into thin air, she couldn’t help thinking. Distractedly, she looked down. She brushed at the dust, which removed the larger bits.

Thinking she ought to take advantage of her current position, Ann ducked to search the remainder of The Land Beneath the Furniture. She carefully ran a hand along the floor, internally recoiling at the questionable feel to unseen objects her fingers brushed against. Bravely, she pulled a few into light. Two broken Hot Wheels cars, hair elastics, Lego bricks, stale bread crust, a doll head, and half a plastic Easter egg tumbled out with an escort of crumbs and dust. She looked at the mess, extracted the half shell, and pushed the rest back out of sight. They’d know where to find Barbie’s head if they thought to ask for it.

Ann kneel-crawled over to the green egg in the corner of the room. She picked it up; opened it over the hardwood. Some loose change was exposed. It looked to total 57 cents. She considered keeping it -payment for a morning’s maid-work. She knew, however, that this was the very 57 cents her eldest had collared Will over just an hour prior.

“Mary!” Ann called, from her sit-squat on the floor.

“Whaa-aaat?” a pre-teen answered. The response seemed to come from Ann’s bathroom, upstairs.

Two reasons now presented themselves for bringing her daughter hither: the money, and removal from whatever of Ann’s makeup Mary was surely testing upon her face. “I found your money!” Ann shouted.

A pause, then, “Okay!” Overheard; a drawer closed, an item dropped and was scraped against the floor as it was retrieved, a drawer opened and closed again, and footsteps exited across hard tiles. Soon, Ann’s keen ears heard Mary’s soft footsteps majestically skipping down the stairs.

A deeper-lipped twelve-year-old than Ann was accustomed to seeing sauntered casually into the room. Mary also seemed to have tried some blue eyeshadow and pink blush. The results were somewhat frightening, but Ann pretended as much ignorance as her daughter. She held the egg and its change out, waiting for Mary’s deliberately slow walk to bring her close enough to accept the offering.

Mary finally reached her mother, took the egg, and studied her face for reaction. Little sleep and years of practice with Will’s antics had trained Ann well. She simply nodded, then intentionally exaggerated her attempts to rise from the floor in order to give Mary time to exit.

Sure enough, Ann got to her feet just as Mary was walking out the arched doorway of the family room. Ann sighed, but proudly noted the progress she’d made with the room. It had taken the better part of two hours, but the dusty floor was finally clear of all the leftovers of the morning’s hunt and after-party.

She walked over to the garbage and threw away the wrapper, half shell, and some more pants dust. “Mo-o-o-o-o-o-om!” Jane sang loudly, entering the room as she did.

“Yes, Jane?” Ann asked.

“I just lo-o-ove Easter egg hunts!” Jane sighed, grabbing both her mother’s legs and swinging a bit. She paused, and looked thoughtful. “Do you, Mommy?”

Ann looked down at her still-filthy angel. She could still feel the bits of under-couch detritus on her fingertips, the sensation of a coin-filled egg upon her palm, and could see her oldest’s smeary-lipped expression of nonchalance. Ann glanced at the pile of discarded plastic egg shells she’d gathered in the hours of cleaning. Finally, she looked back to her innocent child’s face.

“Of course I do,” she answered, smiling in return.

Mud to Tyrants

“Ready. Aim. Fire!” Thomas yelled exuberantly. He released three carefully-crafted mud balls skyward. They flew from his shovel toward the cardboard clubhouse, landing in wet splat, splunk, splats on the ground.

Daniel popped open a window to survey the results. “Some attack, Thomas!” He jeered.

Another smiling head joined Daniel’s through the jagged cut-out. “Yeah,” James teased. “Wanna move closer, baby?”

They laughed in good sport, then yelled and ducked inside as Thomas dropped his shovel and ran at them. Their door was pushed against its hinge with the force of the nine-year-old boy.

Daniel wriggled out the opening. He rose and watched Thomas and James roll about, trying to pin each other. Their errant wrestling crashed against a wall; the whole house threatened to collapse.

“Hello, boys,” a regal voice cooed.

Distracted mid-warning, Daniel turned. There stood Candy Barnes, in all her glory. He recognized her pink outfit from yesterday’s tea party; one they had been stopped from invading by a watchful mother.

“Go away, Candy,” he answered. Turning, he yelled, “Knock it off. It’s breaking!” A howl sounded from inside. A triumphant Thomas soon sauntered out. James followed, pretending a limp. They both stopped, staring.

James recovered first. “Whadda you want, Candy cane?”

She pouted. Flipping her feather boa over a puffy shoulder, she answered, “I merely came to survey my kingdom.”

All three boys began arguing. “Your kingdom?” “It’s our land.” “No one wants girls.” She ignored them, adjusted her crown, and raised her chin.

Inspiration struck Daniel. “Hey Thomas,” he said, “How are you at moving targets?”

Thomas retrieved his shovel and a leftover mud ball. Turning to Candy, he replied, “Let’s find out.”

A few seconds later, the commoners had the undeniable pleasure of watching a shrieking monarch hurriedly exiting their forest.

Everlore

Once within a forest clearing, whilst I sought my heart some cheering,
With num’rous sorts of very unhealthy choc’late treats I most adore –
While I wandered, knapsack-snacking, dropping errant candy-wrapping,
I thought I heard a quiet flapping, flapping from the forest floor.
“‘Tis no predator,” I whispered, “wrapping from the forest floor –
Only garbage; an eyesore.”

Then came hum’rous Fate permitting; sending to me, most unwitting,
The view of who had made the flapping, from the littered forest floor:
Eager girl scout sitting, beaming, as I jumped up, scared and screaming –
I’m out of words; there is no more.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge.