Tag: fiction

The Meeting

For this week’s prompt, grab something out of your pantry and write a short piece – using all the words in the ingredients.

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Broth.

That’s what they called themselves: Broth. No “The” to confuse alphabetization efforts, just pure and simple “Broth.” It was Chicken Swanson’s idea – both the name and the group itself. Chicken was always hatching some idea to bring people together.

“Let’s take stock,” she clucks. (Most people would’ve said “This meeting is called to order” but not Chicken. Things just drop right out of her mouth that leave folks nodding and smiling and sometimes scratching their heads.) “Let’s get right on down to business. Now what I want to know is: what are y’all doing to make plans for the new year? Tell me everything.”

From her place in the circle, Chicken looks everybody in the eye, then passes The Wish Bone (the Broth version of a talking stick) to Salt. “Salt, you first. What’s your plan?”

“I’m focusing on preservation this year,” Salt says. “I’m gonna’ scan my picturebooks and all my mess of papers and store them up there in the cloud. Then I’m gonna’ go on over to the bank and clean out my safety deposit box, whip them paper babies into some semblance of order. Why I’ll bet I can fill a trashcan with stuff I don’t need any more. Then once all that’s done – should take me till about August or so – I’m gonna’ set to darning some socks and patching the holes in my umbrella so it’ll last another year. Yep, preservation is the name of my game this year.”

Flavoring smiles and nods (which is probably why Salt hands The Wish Bond over to her). Flavoring’s mother was an odd thing, always scooting around town in skin-tight britches and a man’s XL t-shirt. That woman was forever motion, let me tell you, so when she gave birth, she named her baby girl Flavor because she knew – she just knew – her life was gonna’ taste different from now on. Then she up and added the “ing” as her salute to action. “I thought about getting organized this year,” Flavoring says, “but then good sense got the better of me and I decided to focus on accessorizing. Clothes and physical spaces, I’m talking about. Even my car – no fuzzy dice or pom-pom trim around the top, mind you – but I’m going to accessorize nevertheless. Maybe a glitzy new license plate holder. Or maybe I’ll just replace the burnt-out license plate bulb to you can read my special order “FLAV-O-RNG” license plate in the dark and call it done. Dext Rose, how about you go next, hon?”

Though named for both her mama (Rose) and her daddy (Dext, short for Dexter), Dext Rose was natural goodness feminine through and through. “Oh, I’m gonna’ work in my garden more this year,” Dext Rose purrs. “First I’m going to get me a pretty new pair of pink gardening gloves. I’d like some of those that are soft leather with that special gripping stuff on the inside. Do y’all know where I can get some like that with roses on ’em? I think I might get me one of those new short-handled shovels I saw in my catalog, too, and a new pair of pruning scissors and some root tonerizer. Then after I go shopping, I’m going straight over to get me a cutting of my Aunt Rene’s Opening Night rose and that floribunda number that nearly took over her backyard. Do y’all remember that bush I’m talking about? We used to stop by and cut us off a red rose every year on Mother’s Day. Till Mother died. Anyway, I’m going to take those cuttings home and dip ’em in some root tonerizer and stick ’em in a pot to see if I can’t root me some rosebushes. And in keeping with my rose theme, I’m watching the Rose Bowl Parade from start to finish. I’ll cook my blackeyed peas and turnipgreens before or after, but not during. And let me tell you: I’ve already got me some Rose Water Glycerin lotion that smells so good. Every time I open it up, I can’t help but think of Grandmother. She wore Jergen’s, you know, and it had a touch of rose water in it. Or was it glycerin? Oh, I sure wish I could get a cutting of her rosebush. So, my darlings, from start to finish, I hereby declare this The Year of the Rose.”

“Well, Dext Rose, I’ll put you down to provide table decorations at our luncheons,” Chicken says, always looking for ways to delegate, always planning ahead. Then, knowing how Dext Rose tends to go long when she gets to reminiscing about the past and planning the future, Chicken asks her “Now who do you want to go next?”

“I believe I’d like to hear from Yeast now,” declars Dext Rose with a big smile and a nod of her head for punctuation.

Yeast, who was a list maker and compartmentalizer from way back, vows to try her hand at creating a collage then extracting meaning from the images and words.

“Oh goodie,” says Dext Rose, clapping her perfectly manicured hands in front of her red-lipsticked mouth. “That reminds me of the time I went to the county fair and had my palm read. It was so much fun. I went with my friend, Too Percent. We call her that because she’s just not all there, if you know what I mean. Yeast, honey, do you think there’s a chance you might take up reading tea leaves next cause I’ve always wanted to have that done, you know. I’ll be your first customer.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Dext Rose. That’s way too much planning for me right now. Let’s just sit quietly and see what rises to the top. But enough about that. Now then, let’s hear what the Juicers are planning this year.”

Celery, Carrot, and Onion Juice are triplets, and we call them The Juicers for short cause they’re always together. I mean always. You see one of them, you see three of them, that’s just the way they are. I hasten to add, however, that though they may be triplets and though they enjoy being together, they are also three separate and distinct individuals. Because of her keen ability to see in the dark, Carrot is a sought-after companion for any haunted house or campout adventure. Whenever we go out at night, we rent a van and Carrot drives.

Onion is a writer, and I declare: that girl can make you cry all over the page. In fact, we have suggested more than once that she market each book with cute little tissue box cover made from fabric that goes along with the theme of the book.

Now Celery, well, I’m here to tell you: that girl is a mess. I don’t care where she is, Celery loves to perform, which makes her the Juice spokeswoman on account of the way Carrot and Onion are so quiet. When Yeast hands The Wish Bone to Celery, we don’t think a thing of it when Onion and Carrot automatically reach over to hold on to it, too, while Celery says, with characteristic flair, “The Juicers are pleased to announce – drumroll please – that this will be the year . . . to concentrate. Carrot – stand up, Carrot. Carrot is going to concentrate on becoming green. Let’s give her a round of applause. Thank you, Carrot. You may now be seated,” and as Carrot takes her seat, Celery turns to Onion, and with an ease that lets us know it’s happened before, grabs her under the arm and pulls her up off the sofa. With her arm around Onion’s shoulders, Celery beams and says, “Onion is going to concentrate on skins and tears. Isn’t that simply marvelous?” And with that, Celery initiates the applause for Onion and, after a respectfully short time, nods for her to return to her seat. “And last, but most assuredly not least, I, Celery, am going to concentrate on condiments.” And when she turns from side to side and makes a little bow, saying “Thank you, thank you,” we feel downright compelled to applaud for her, too.

And because nobody – not even Chicken herself – can think of a single thing to say after that, the meeting is quietly adjourned.

~~~
Key:
Pantry Item: Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken Broth
Ingredients: chicken stock, less than 2% of salt, flavoring, dextrose, yeast extract, celery juice concentrate, carrot juice concentrate, onion juice concentrate

Trease

Having spent the first week of The Year slammed against the clock to tick things off the list and to fetch my brother from the airport as he returns from Afghanistan to spend 2 weeks with us, as I lay the stones and mattresses and pockets of possibility that will provide shelter and structure for 2011, I have written only lists – lists of things to do and get and remember.

I have missed you, me, us.

So this morning I commenced a scant trip through the wildes and happened upon a spark that I fanned, despite interruptions of dog and mate and food and child. Something fun and different for me (unless you count the inevitable pitfalls of memory and recall): fiction. And because I have plans that involve such ledge-jumping, I availed myself . . .

~~~ Your assignment is to write a short piece – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatevs – in which each sentence starts with a the next letter of the alphabet. Starting with “A.” So, yes, your finished product will consist of 26 sentences. ~~~

A Tree was born, a treeny triny Tree. Before the sun came out, in the vast silence of the moon, the Treeling began to stretch herself up from her mother’s roots, up, up, up into the moonlight. Callous philistrenes and thorny scrobbeites hogged the light and threatened to quash the youngsTreeneur before she had a chance to fledgle. Drondonemides peed on her and called it nourishment. Elvemites, tickled to be larger than something for a change, tromped on her. Flimones and flickites and fligmos landed on her for respite, then showed their (so-called) strength as they crudely pushed themselves off, thinking higher equals closer to the moon. Giantmongous birdithers made a game of balancing on the youthful, learning Tree.

Helicopters in search of a missing girlchild flew so close that the wind from their whirling blademonifiers momentarily buffeted the Treeling back into the safety of her mother’s rootnook. Icicles became water fountains as the night stretched itself out, and the Treeling licked them to quench thirst and keep her internal water system filled and flowing. Justreene, the Treelings’ mother, remained close by to provide as much shielding as possible. Kindness showed itself, even in the austere culture of winter, because Fledge (as she was now called) was watching for it. “Look for it,” Justreene told her Treechild, “look closely and you’ll see magicrous, wonderical things.”

Maneday came after the first frightfulous weekend of hunting season. Not the kind of hunting Justreene and Fledge were doing, mind you, these hunters were in search of animals to kill. Oh my goodweiss, Fledge lost count of how many soles she witnessed as hunters tromped over and around and beside her, sometimes missing her by a mere squeege. Pieces of paper were left along with other souvenirs of that weekend. “Queer that they actually believe others will find their trashscolomite useful,” Justreene murmured as she blew her mightiest clearing wind after their eventual departure. “Really,” she harumped then fell silently into the wind song.

Stumpette added her voice after a schiminisculle to sing along with Justreene’s wind. Trempet joined in to form a treeo of lullaby. Usuanda and her feathered flockure were soon chirping along in their own way. Vickets joined, too. Winds of harmony filled the night. Xenogenesis did not exist in the Land of Woulde that night as Fledge swanced to the sweettimonious melodies. Yellow sage added the light show, her flowers turning from redilicious to orangeimony and back to yellowsumptious.

“Zzzzzzzzzz,” hummed Fledge, completely content in knowing that she would always have this treemendous raffle to counsel, cajole, comfort, console, and cheer her.

### The Beginning ###

i’m all ears

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i’m not a mall person. oh, i’ve spent my fair share of time in malls, mind you, but now i just prefer galleries and arts and craft fairs and etsy. there was a time when malls stimulated me, now they just overwhelm me.

but today we were in the car all day, so we check into the hotel, drop our bags, then stretch our legs by walking straight over to the mall to grab a bite of supper.

i’d forgotten how much i enjoy watching people and looking at the store windows. every shopper represents a bundle of stories. every worker bee: stories. every mannequin: stories. stories, stories, stories. everywhere i look: stories . . .

i look at the girl in the carrot-colored high-heeled boots and the teensy, little ole’ bitty tighty-tight-tight shorts and say, “sugar, tell me you didn’t dress yourself. ahem, i mean, tell me about your outfit.”

to the perky young blonde woman sitting at the table next to me i say, “honey bunny, i just love your pocketbook. do you carry it every day or just for special occasions? was it a gift you bought for yourself?” and i close with “where’d you get it and does it come in blue?”

to the young man with the baggy sweatshirt and the crayola hair and matching crocs while restaging the window display, i watch a while then beg him (because i don’t have all night) “what’s the story you’re telling here? what path led you to this as a career?”

to the woman sweeping the floor and wiping down tables, the woman whose face is a story in and of itself, i pat the chair beside me. “come, sit,” i beckon. “tell me your story. tell me three if you can spare them.”

i find a few perfect gifts for special people, and as i pay and chat with the delightful young woman who works there, a man comes in and barely comes to a stop before saying, “excuse me. can you show me where the roof leaked?” to him i said, “well, well, well. i see SOMEbody failed kindergarten. do you see me standing here?” and when he nods yes, i say, “well, in case you didn’t notice, i am a customer. a customer currently in the process of giving this young woman money to pay for my purchases. money that she will later use to pay her rent and from which you will pay the roofer. now you need to learn to wait your turn, but tell me: why are you in such a galdern hurry?”

okay, truthfully: i say these things . . . but only on the inside.

one day, though. one day i’m gonna’ do some mall walking with a side of mall talking. i’m gonna’ invite and encourage people to tell me their stories ’cause i know they’ve got ’em. and i know i want to hear them. i really, really do.

oh, except . . . remember the maintenance man? well, unless he’s learned a thing or four about manners by the next time we run into each other, i can pretty much guarantee you that in his case, i’m gonna’ talk more than i listen. his mother would want me to.

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