Thursday, August 30, 2012

Non-Career Day

 Here is the writing exercise for this week:

CAREER DAY. You've agreed to give a talk at your child's school for Career Day. Not only do you hate public speaking, you found out yesterday that you've been fired from your job - and you haven't told your kid yet. Write what happens when you go to the school to present. (500 words or less).
How do y'all think I did?

“And now, Mrs. Wilson, Carly’s mom, will share with the class. Welcome, Mrs. Wilson.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Casters,” I said, although I wanted to be anywhere but in Carly’s class that morning. 

When Carly had told me about career day a month ago, I was excited. I wanted to enlighten young minds on the wonders of accounting. I was looking forward to telling them why accounting was important and that it was a fulfilling, well-paying occupation. 

It was still all those things, but, unfortunately, not for me. Not only was I fired yesterday, but I was looking down the barrel of a full-fledged investigation into all my clients’ records. 

If I could just get through career day, I planned to explain what happened to Carly and prepare her for what lay ahead. 

“Hello, class. I’m here today to talk about the profession of accounting. I’ve been an accountant for twenty years and find it very rewarding.”

“Working for the mob usually is,” someone called from the back of the room. 

Before I could gather my wits again, Carly had rounded on the heckler with a vengeance. “You take that back, Mark Johnson,” she ordered, her little fist inches from his nose. 

It was then that I recognized Trent Johnson’s son. Trent was our local sheriff and the one who was looking into my case.

“What’s the matter, Mrs. Goody Two Shoes; you don’t want everyone to know your mommy works for the mob?” Mark teased. 

“Does not!” Carly insisted.

“Does too!”

“Shut up, Mark, or so help me you’ll be sorry.”

“Make me!” Mark challenged.

Mrs. Casters was struggling to keep the two children apart while they continued to argue. I knew I had to put a stop to things before my child was beat to a pulp. I just wasn’t sure how. Carly solved the problem for me, although not in a way I would have preferred. 

“Tell him, Mom,” she screamed across the room. “Tell him you don’t work for the mob.”

I was happy I didn’t have to lie.

“I do not work for the mob,” I informed the class and my teary-eyed daughter. 

“Not anymore,” Mark said, and then at my indrawn breath, he added, “She was fired yesterday.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

No Time Like the Present

“Will you play with me, Daddy?”

“Not right now, Maise, I’m tired.”

He didn’t look tired. Mommy said the blue under my eyes was because I didn’t sleep good, that my eyes were tired. Daddy didn’t have blue under his eyes.

“Please, Daddy, just play Barbie with me. I can show you how.”

“I said no, Maise.”

Maybe Daddies don’t get blue eyes from being tired. Maybe they just get cranky. That’s what Mommy said Daddy was when he came home from work every day…cranky. I don’t like it when Daddy is cranky. I like it when he’s happy. I like it when he plays with me.

“You can be Ken. You don’t have to be a girl doll, Daddy.” 

I know boys don’t like playing with girl dolls. They like the boy dolls that they can play in the dirt with. I don’t let any boys play with my girl dolls. The girls are supposed to stay pretty and clean. That’s what Mommy told me after I made mud pies with Charley Brindle last week and got dirt all over my new dress. She made me change before we went to get my superpower juice.

“I don’t want to be Ken, Maise. Daddy has a lot on his mind. I need to be by myself to think.”

I don’t like thinking. When I think too much my head hurts. Even the superpower juice doesn’t help the hurt go away. Mommy says I need to keep busy so I don’t have time to think about things that make me sad and make my head hurt. 

That paper Daddy is holding must be making his head hurt ‘cause he’s scrunching his nose all up. It looks like the paper is from Jefferson’s. I see the name of my superpower juice on the first line. Maybe they ran out! That would be very bad. Mommy says I have to have the superpower juice. I’m not sure why. Her and Daddy never take it. Maybe they’re already superheroes.

I wonder what CareMark Insurance means? That’s on the top of the paper. The bottom says canceled. They did run out of my superpower juice! 

Oh no! Daddy’s crying. Daddy’s aren’t supposed to cry.

“Don’t cry, Daddy.” I rub his arm like Mommy does mine when I take the superpower juice and it makes me sick. “It’ll be alright. Maybe I can get strong without the superpower juice.”

“Oh, Maise,” Daddy says and then hugs me close. “You are the strongest person I know.”

Daddy must not know many strong people. I’m tired all the time. I’m not strong. Daddy is the strong one. He used to pick me up with one hand. Before I got to where it made me dizzy. The superpower juice hasn’t helped with that. I wish it would. I’d love to fly around the room again.

Mommy tells me the superpower juice is working, but I heard her and Daddy talking the other day. She said I’m getting weaker instead of stronger and that they might have to give me more superpower juice. I don’t want to take more. Superpower juice may be good for you, but it doesn’t feel good taking it. My arms are black and blue. I asked Mommy why I couldn’t drink it and she said it doesn’t work that way. It only makes you stronger if it goes right into your veins. I’m not sure what veins are. I know it hurts when the superpower juice goes in them though. I guess I won’t have to take more now since it’s been canceled. 

Canceled means no more. They canceled my favorite TV show last week. 

“Let’s go play, baby.”

“Are you sure, Daddy? You don’t have to play if you’re sad.”

“I’m sure, Maise. There’s nothing more important than spending every minute with you. I’m sorry about earlier.”

“It’s okay, Daddy. We have all the time in the world.”

Daddy always tells Mommy that and it makes her smile. I wonder why it made Daddy cry again…

Friday, August 17, 2012

Falsely Accused

“We have to do this, Stanley,” I stated, more for my own benefit than his. I didn’t want to spank the kids, but I had made the rule, and no matter why they broke it, the fact is that they did. They had to face the consequences.

I squared my shoulders and called Mark in. He begged and pleaded, but I held my ground and gave him his spanking. I can’t say my heart was in it though and the next one would be even worse.

“Please, Mrs. Jones, don’t do it,” Angel said. “We just said I’m sorry for switching our milks. We weren’t really talking.”

I had to look away from her little face when I replied. “It doesn’t matter. You talked during lunch when I told you not to. Now let’s get this over with and get back to class.”

It was all I could do to not break down and cry when she laid over my lap. He little feet wouldn’t even touch the floor. Angel was the smallest child in class and it felt evil to lay a hand on her, but I couldn’t show favoritism. 

I drew a deep breath and raised the paddle. The whack resounded around the room but Angel made not a sound. I did notice the single tear sliding down her cheek though and I couldn’t hit her again. I was done.

She stood before me, sadness and confusion clouding her eyes while I told her that I hoped we’d never have to go through this ordeal again. I then sent her back to class before I started crying myself. 

“Are you okay, Jessica?” Stanley asked when I walked out of the room. 

“No, I’m not okay, Stanley,” I assured him. “I do know one thing though. I will never invoke silent lunch again.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wedded Miss

This story was inspired by the following writing exercise:

Your best friend from college has invited you to his wedding. You haven't seen him for years, so you're excited to catch up. But when you arrive at the wedding, you discover that your best friend's bride is someone from your past - and you realize you must stop the wedding at all costs. (500 words or fewer is suggested).
“It’s been way too long, my friend. Who’d have thought it would take my wedding to bring you back to town.” 

Or something like that is what Charles said. I couldn’t hear much for the roaring in my head. The sight of his future bride took more than my breath; it threatened to take my sanity.

This can’t be happening.

“What’s a matter? Cat got your tongue?” Charles asks. 

I dodge his good-natured punch in the shoulder and smile the best I can. How am I supposed to deal with this situation? I need some divine inspiration or something. 

I have to tell him, right? I mean, I can’t keep something like this from him. He will kill me if I let him go through with the marriage and he finds out later. And he will find out. I mean, how can he not? I don’t understand how he doesn’t know already. This is the twenty first century; surely they’ve slept together already.

Oh my God! I have to get that image out of my mind. 

Say something, you big dummy. You can’t just stand here staring. And it doesn’t look like the bride to be is going to be any help, just standing there looking like the ground is about to open up, which it very well may. 

“Matt? Are you ok, buddy?” Charles asks, taking hold of my arm as if he’s afraid I might fall over.

“You can’t do this!”

Fool. You can’t just shout it out like that. Now he really does think you’re crazy. You have to calm down, take him somewhere private and just tell him.

“Can’t do what?” Charles asks and then laughs. “Marry the woman of my dreams.”

“No, no, no,” I stammer and grab his arm, which only alarms him more. “You can’t get married.”

“Matt, I believe you need to sit down because you’re either sick or you’re trying to be funny. I sure hope it’s the first.” Charles hisses.

I grab him by the shoulders and drag him to the side of the group. He tries to pull free but I won’t let him, I can’t let him. 

Making him look me in the eye, I tell him, “You can’t marry Casey. We went to college together.”

Charles sagged with relief. “So that’s what this is about. You and Casey dated and you’re afraid it will hurt our relationship. That was a long time ago, buddy. It’s okay.”

“No, you don’t understand,” I say and stop him from rejoining the others. “Do you remember where I went to college?”

I watch as realization dawns. It’s amazing what you can see in a person’s face if you pay attention. I see my best friends whole world fall apart when he remembers that I went to Worchester Hills Community College…for men.