A Green Confession

I was jealous of Heather because she was tall. She was a preacher’s daughter, a good girl.

When her parents started homeschooling her, I wasn’t jealous anymore.

This tiny story was written for the Sammi Cox Weekend Writing Prompt, Heather. I knew a girl named Heather in elementary school, and I guess this counts as an IRL story because it did mostly happen (though this condensed form conveys none of the nuances regarding what homeschool in America is often about and why it can change the game in a bad way).

Photo by CARLOS Pu00c9REZ ADSUAR ANTu00d3N on Pexels.com

The Wood Miser

He had cut down the tree with a chainsaw, dragged it down the hill, and loaded it into the pile with all the rest. It was an oak of high grade – not quite a cherry, but good enough to slice into long boards and sell at a greater profit than the log alone.

The horses were already hitched in, so my son urged them to walk and turn the wheel. The bandsaw jiggled, and we loaded the log onto the carriage. A mighty heave of both man and horse shoved the log one step closer to a finished product.

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This was written for the Carrot Ranch prompt, long board. I’m descended from a bunch of loggers, and my grandfather had used a horse-driven sawmill long past the time when it was typically profitable in the US. But he sold high-quality wood, and he bred good draft horses (Percherons).

A Wood-Mizer, however, is a modern, portable sawmill for small-business loggers. My dad wanted a Wood-Mizer for so long, and I can’t even tell you how many hours of footage of watching people saw logs I have been forced to withstand. Yes, apparently you could at one time buy multi-hour-tapes of people sawing logs.

Pees-ta

one cheese pizza

“What is this?” asked Papaw. He squinted his glaucoma-weakened eyes, inspecting the food.

“Pizza,” Mama responded. “It’s just bread, cheese, and sauce.”

Mamaw harrumphed then told someone invisible, “This woman’s crazy. I’ll die – it’s poison. Look at how fat she is; I won’t eat her food.”

“Pees-ta,” Papaw said. “Sounds foreign. I was in the war, and I don’t like foreign food-”

“Just eat it,” Daddy commanded. “You’ll get used to it.”

Papaw took a bite, grimaced, and pushed away his plate. “This is for damn Garlic Eaters. I’m not eating this foreign trash.”

Mamaw just cackled. “Poison!”

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I wrote this for the April 2nd Flash Fiction Challenge at the Carrot Ranch: Pizza.

This was based on a real-life event that happened in the late 90’s. My parents were silly and agreed to take my grandparents to Kentucky for a family reunion with my great-great-grand uncle’s branch of the family (they moved to Kentucky from North Carolina in the early 1900’s). At one stop along the way, my parents pulled us all over to a Pizza Hut, and my mom was surprised to find out my dad’s parents had never eaten Italian food before. I might have been, but I was still pretty young.

But think of it this way: IT WAS LIKE 1998 AND THESE TWO RED-BLOODED AMERICANS HAD NEVER TASTED PIZZA.

I still remember that event. “Pees-ta,” they called it. “Pees-ta,” they’d complain again, later in their lives when faced with the villainy of spaghetti with meatballs.

My Mamaw died this past December, but Papaw is still kickin’ around out there, driving despite being 97, nearly blind from glaucoma, and severely disliking Pizza.

Photo by kei photo on Pexels.com

The King

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Aunt Shoo put the final dollop of meringue atop the key lime pie. She placed it back in the oven to bake the meringue top.

I watched through the glass window – small back in those days – at the caramelizing sugar. “Aunt Shoo,” I asked, “What’s a key lime?”

“Well,” Aunt Shoo replied, bending closer to my tender height, “It’s the kind of lime Elvis liked, and it makes the kind of pie Elvis liked, so it has to be the best.”

“Who’s this ‘Elvis’?”

Her face blanched. “Come with me,” she said before leading me upstairs to her shrine.

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This was written for the December 5th Flash Fiction Challenge on the Carrot Ranch, key lime pie. This is based on my real-life introduction to key lime pie, wherein my Aunt (who I called “Shoo” at the time because I couldn’t pronounce her real name) claimed it was Elvis’s favorite and thus should be enjoyed. Was it really his favorite? I don’t know. But she was convinced of it, and therefore I will believe it until told otherwise.

Also I don’t actually know if she has a shrine, I just thought that was a nice touch.

By Knowledge or Faith

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When I was little, I celebrated the rays of the sun diffracting around clouds or through the branches of trees.  The angelic light spread like a halo around the object, and I thought it proof that some higher power were real.  This light from above had such a strange quality, one that wasn’t replicated daily or even weekly.

In college I learned of Snell’s law, of diffraction, angles, translucence, and wavelength.  A miracle, somewhat holy, became a set of numbers and laws.  The magic of cloud-halos was lost as the harsh loneliness of science and knowledge took its place.  The faith that God was there with me, showing his presence with the shape of the light, was no more.

But that doesn’t mean the faith never mattered.

(127 words)

***

This was written for the 199th FFfAW Challenge!  Thanks to Jody McKinney for her lovely, nostalgia-bringing picture. 

Skeet Skeet

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It always burned my dog-hide that my little brother was more athletic than me.  It didn’t matter what game it was – whether football, basketball, bowling, or even shooting, he was always top notch whereas I was something much lower rung.

Every day after Thanksgiving, my extended family would get together and do some skeet shooting.  There was no winner, but there certainly were losers.  I was the lame-o nerd who ‘wasted expensive bullets’ and usually just threw some skeets.  Hell, even my cousin who smoked so much that he couldn’t run a lap around a football field could shoot better.  My grandpa who has super progressed glaucoma would laugh.

Every time I was forced to attend, the prayer slipped through my lips, dear Lord, why does the alternative to skeet shooting have to be shopping? 

(135 words)

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This was a rather detailed picture to write a story about for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers #194!  Just in case family members from my Facebook read this, know that this was only loosely based off real life, and I’m not mad. 

Thanks to Yinglan for the picture!

Memoir Monday – Regrowth of the Woods

I grew up surrounded by new woods.  The trees were young, regrowing from the clear-cutting of eastern forests that had happened only a couple generations ago.  I always felt a connection to these woods, since my father and grandfather and great grandfather before him had all been loggers, dependent upon regrowth, conservation, and subsequent destruction.

Sometime when I was younger, my dad gave up the trade in favor of building houses.  I think this was the right decision for him, since he actually had a mentally difficult time cutting down trees (he’d mark trees in our forest that he wanted to save with a blue ribbon), and that neither me nor my brother became truly invested in the trade.  We learned the values of logs, qualities of wood, and the meaning of ‘dodey hollow.’  I enjoy wormy chestnut more than the average human.

And so, with all these eastern deciduous trees, my dad of course loved fall.  The quality of the leaf color could indicate the health of the environment overall, especially the amount of rainfall from the summer.  Reds, yellows, and oranges abound in seasons where the trees are healthy and the rains are not too heavy.  Several years after he’d logged a section, the leaves returned.

I used to take long hikes through our woods in the fall.  I’d put on an orange toboggan, meant to keep me safe from hunters (our land had no fences), and hike up to unknown places like Kent’s field or Circle Top.  I can’t imagine why I thought I was safe from the bears and cougars without even a shotgun, but middle school me didn’t seem to care.

Just before I became an adult (and I mean just, since I turned 18 only a month later), my parents split up.  Though I agree it was the right decision, my mom sold her part of the land, and I expect to see nothing from the parts my dad has retained.  Late one fall, I drove over to some of the old hiking grounds, found the spot where I suspect my dad had murdered my dog, and buried letters avowing remembrance.  That was the last time I hiked through those woods, and I doubt I regrow like the trees that marked Spud’s grave.

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This was a true story by H.R.R. Gorman. 

Stealing Bicycles

When I was in college, I had a professor who had been in the military before going into academia. He had a long, rectangular hole cut in a large ammo box and then chained the locked box to the wall in the break room. This box was where we were supposed to turn in homework, and the TA would come in to pick it up at the due date and time.

One day, a classmate of mine was unable to complete a homework assignment because his young daughter was very sick and going to the hospital. He hurriedly shoved what little he’d done into the box and ran out the door to be with his family.

The rest of us, slogging dutifully through fluid mechanics, looked to the box.

“He’s a good guy – why should his daughter being sick screw him over?” Tibs asked.

“This isn’t right.”  Big B, ungratefully sober at the time, crossed his arms.  “Can’t let the prof flunk him for that.”

“We could do his homework for him,” I offered, “But they’d catch us since it’d be in our handwriting.”

Tibs lit up, clicked his fingers, and announced, “We don’t have to do his homework – we just have to convince the TA to cheat a little for us…”

So we wrote him this note:

TA note

For those who can’t load images:

Dear TA,

I have your cat/child/dog/significant other/car bike.  If you ever want to see them again, you must pay me in full with a 100 on this Homework.

Thanks, <REDACTED>

<Whited out stuff>

P.S. I know where you live:

<TA’s REDACTED ADDRESS>

In the middle of writing this note, we found out that the TA didn’t have a cat, dog, significant other, or car.  Instead, he rode a bicycle around everywhere – hence the strikethrough.

Under the whiteout was “Tibs and H.R.R. on behalf of <Redacted name of student with daughter>.”  Big B had decided that was too much, so in an attempt to copy some of the professor’s strange antics, whited it all out and just put the screwed student’s name.

We found the TA’s home address (!?!) on the university’s website, added the final threat, and shoved it in the ammo box.

The TA evidently found it hilarious, and I gather actually gave the poor man a couple pity points on the homework when he found out what had happened.

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Though it didn’t quite fit the prompt, I was reminded of this event and inspired to write it down by the Purpl Dragon Prompt 315.

The Long Drive Home

Road beyond Denver

She was quiet, hands clutched tight to the steering wheel, cheeks still puffy from sobbing.

He was noiseless in the passenger seat.  He gripped his water bottle tight, as if afraid it would disappear.  His clothes hadn’t been washed since he’d taken them off a couple weeks ago, and storage hadn’t done the lingering scent of sweat any good.

The skin on her hands was thinning, and her hair greyed at the temples.  Her lips wiggled, constant reminder of the words she couldn’t let out.  Instead she reached into the purse in her back seat and removed a granola bar.

He snatched it.  His hands were youthful, his face not yet stubbled with hair.  His arms were covered in bruises.  Swiftly his fingers found the serrated foil and tore open the package.  Though crumbled from having been in the purse for so long, he gobbled it down.  His eyes fluttered in pure delight at the taste.

She reached for the console, but then stopped midway, leaving the radio off.

He looked pensively at her, wishing she’d turned the dial.  “Are you mad at me?”

She swallowed.  “I’m glad you’re coming home.”

“But are you mad at me?”

She silenced him with a quick turn off the highway and a narrow avoidance of oncoming traffic.  The road turned to gravel beneath the wheels, crunching loudly and jolting the car.  She held the wheel steady and kept the tires from shifting over the loose rocks.

At the end of the long drive home, she shifted the car into park and killed the ignition.

They sat in the car, hesitant, testing the lonely air in their lungs.

“Are you mad I got taken to juvie?”

She looked at his face and stopped fighting back her tears.  “I still love you.”

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This was written for the 19th September Carrot Ranch 2018 Free-Write challenge. “The Long Drive Home” was the prompt.  I was having an absolutely horrible day at work, and I wrote this during that lunch break.  As a result, all I could remember was this semi-memoir type of work.  I wasn’t either of the characters in the above, but I knew them.  When his mom left to get him from juvie, I didn’t envy her.  I don’t know how the drive went in real life, but this is how it occurred in my head. 

On October 1st, on the Carrot Ranch Facebook page, the TUFF challenge begins with an announcement of the winners.  If you want to read a really cool set of flash fictions, stay tuned!  I may or may not get in, but either way I know this is going to be fun!

Headliners

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Before retirement, my aunt was a hairdresser at Headliners Haircutters.  I’d sit in her chair, get my messy locks lopped off, and wait for the phone to ring.

“Hello?” my aunt would answer.  Someone would speak, then she’d yell, “Debbie!  It’s for you!” and proceed to listen to all the gossip across the party line.

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This was written for the Sammi Cox’s weekend writing prompt #71, “Headline.”  This is a completely true story, though I do feel that it fails to have a plot.