Three Weeks, Nine Prompts

Right.

[Stretches her arms forward, cracks her knuckles and shakes out her hands]

Three weeks behind on nine prompts: Treat him like a sister; In case of fire; Getting out of hand; Do the authorities know you’re here?; As you slept; What became of forever?; Los pobrecitos; The present was poorly wrapped; Bottle of emotions.

[Sighs] Let’s see what can be done with all that. [Sighs again]

[Stares out the window for 10 minutes. Turns on the TV, channel surfs, turns off the TV. Gets up and pours a glass of wine. Throws a proverbial dart at the prompts to determine which one goes first]


What became of forever? Seriously, when did, “I have all the time in the world,” become, “No time like the present, for there is no knowing what tomorrow will bring”? The problem is, like a poorly wrapped gift, the present is not an enticing offer. Unless you are talking about getting some tedious chores done. No. The sort of fertile ground needed for the seeds of tremendous things in life to grow is not here, not now. Maybe I’ll just float along until after elections next year. See how I’m feeling after that.

See, the thing is, I’m just a bottle of emotions these days. God forbid, should someone shake me and loose the lid? I’ll spew all over. I’m just sayin’, in case of fire, do not, under any circumstances, break the glass. Just let me burn.

Take last weekend. We gathered at my sister’s for a family wedding; her eldest, finally past the failure-to-launch phase with a decent job and a nice girl. But, because my nephew has always had the lion’s share of his parent’s attention—desperate as they were to get him grown, out of the house and on his own two feet—there is an underlying resentment about attending the little pobrecito’s wedding. If it were up to everyone else, they’d just assume he and she elope so they can avoid yet one more family event where he is the center of attention. He’s a lot like my sister, his mother, that way. The two of them. Sucking the air out of whatever room they walk into.

Anyway, there I was at my sister’s, nerves maxed to the hilt after a day of being forced to pay attention to only them while the rest of the famn-damily went on bickering, bitching, yelling, slamming doors and giving each other the silent treatment. Wide awake at 2:30 in the morning while everyone else managed to have finally passed out drunk. All I wanted to do was bolt. Just run. Out the door, down the street, down the next street, and the next. Just keep running until I couldn’t run anymore. Or, the police stopped me (Ma’am, we received a report of a woman in her nightgown running in bare feet down one street and another. Sorry, but we’re going to have to bring you in for making an ass of yourself).

This whole hysterical state of mind is getting out of hand! I have to pull my shit together and just, whatever. Let the rest roll off my back, as they say. The family will always be the family. The job will always be the job. Nothing is perfect.

And, so, here I am. A lovely, sunny spring evening. I guess it’s true. There really isn’t anything like the present, no matter how it shows up.


Disclaimer: bits of “nonfiction,” to be sure, but this is entirely a fictional piece!

The Alternative to the Alternative Life

Louisellie – named for both grandmothers, Louise and Ellie – was brought up to always strive for originality. Her parents had a single-minded passion for living life as uniquely and alternatively as possible. Alternative to what, Louise (as she preferred to be called), was never entirely sure.

Louise was typical of children born to parents with firmly held beliefs: She did not want to be anything like them. So, where her parents embraced a freeform life, Louise craved routine and discipline. Where her parents vacillated between one school of thought or religion and another, selecting only those insights and edicts that suited their particular view of life, Louise sought a singular dogma to guide her. She chose Christianity. Afterall, what could be so wrong about it? If it was good enough for the grandmothers for whom she was named, she reasoned, it ought to be fine for her.

Her older brother Albertodd (you guessed it. Named for their grandfathers) often chided her for being contrary. “Just go with the flow,” he’d say. Louise hated the phrase. It was all she ever was expected to do.

“I want to go to the public high school,” she announced one day. “I want to live in the world, and make friends, and be normal.” Her parents tried to dissuade her with their usual arguments about propaganda and hedonistic commercialism and the subjection of the simple man by the government’s industrial complex. Albertodd agreed with their parents. “The world is just a place. Nothin’ special.” Louise found her brother’s attitude ironic.

Albertodd was expert at sneaking off the family compound to get away from their parents and explore the world outside their cloistered life. He would disappear for hours, even days at a time, and come home with stories of the places and people they weren’t allowed to know. Her brother’s stories enthralled Louise.

Three summers ago, Albertodd met a boy his age who lived a vastly different life than theirs. By the end of that summer, the boy made Albertodd a tempting offer: the boy would pay Albertodd to attend high school in his place. Albertodd accepted, and since then, he had been attending high school as Robert Templeton. He kept his nose down, his grades up, and never attended Parent Teacher Night (which was a snap, since the actual Robert Templeton’s parents never attended, either).

Louise and Albertodd’s parents were as clueless as the Templetons about the situation. Every evening, Albertodd would surround himself with the library of school books he parents deemed appropriate for their children’s home school education, all the while instead doing homework from the high school. Then, each morning, he announced he needed to go on a long walk-about to process his homeschool work from the night before. His parents thought nothing of it.

“So, why is it OK for you to go to high school, but not me?” Louise confronted her brother. He only shrugged.

Louise was desperate to do as she wished, but she didn’t want to sneak around like her brother. So, on her 13th birthday, she announced she would start attending the public high school the following fall, even if it meant walking out the front door on the first day of school, leaving the family compound, and walking down the road and all the way into town, asking people she came by if they could point her in the right direction.

Her parents ultimately conceded and felt a formal ceremony was necessary to mark the occasion. They wrote a formal proclamation, read aloud by her father in full voice at the intersection of the road that lead to their homestead and the main boulevard that lead into town. As confused drivers and the occasional passersby looked on at the family standing in the middle of the median, Louise’s father declared that, on the 5th day of September, 2020, Louisellie Bradán Bláth Liptonadams, would leave the sacred home of her beloved parents and enter the world of fear, destitution and degradation.

Her brother chucked her on the shoulder. “My way’s easier.”


Oh, man! The prompts this week had me on a wild goose chase. Have you ever had a perfect picture of what your story will be, but when pen is put to paper (or key strokes to monitor), nothing you envisioned is rendered?

The prompts this week are entirely implied in my story. They are: my outfit is entirely vegan; it had to come to this; unique isn’t always useful.

https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/03/03/olwg-92-anniversary-blues