Prize will be a copy of Snappy The Alligator (Did Not Ask To Be In This Book) which I love with all my cold little heart! (yes I bought two copies, one for me, and one for
The usual rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.
2. Use these words in the story:
3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: iron/irony is ok but tie/tile is not
4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.
5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.
6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.
7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)
8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.
8a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail...just leave me out of it.)
9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"
10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")
11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.
12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.
Contest opens: 9am, Saturday 9/2
Contest closes: 9am, Sunday 9/3
Pay attention to the time! Comments may be open sooner than 9am Saturday and stay open later than 9am Sunday but entries that are too soon or too late will be SNAPPED.
If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock
If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's
an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/
(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)
Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
When an alligator has a job interview there is no doubt in a gator’s mind, but one has to wear a bowtie. I wanted to ask Beatrice next door to iron my bowtie, but sometimes she snaps and spits when she talks. Just the other day she snapped so hard while yelling at me for leaving a wet newspaper on my own lawn that I almost lost half of my face! So today I will iron and wear my own bowtie because I need this job and not even Beatrice is going to change that.
Mutant Snapping Karate Turtle adjusted his shell. His Whamo-Destructo ray gun gouging his back. He glanced at his sidekick, Insta-gator Man, dressed in highway-orange.
“Dude, reptiles are green. You look like a baboon’s ass!”
IM rolled his eyes. “No more than Fem-iron Fatale. I got to ask. How’d she afford those Zeppelins?”
MSKT shook his head as Barren Trump strolled past. “Don’t know, but she’d refloat the Titanic with’m. You see Cosplay Girl and Phallic Boy playing hide the pickle yet?”
“No, and ComicCon is almost over.”
“You doing Antifa next week?”
“Only if the neo-coms show up, you?”
With fenders snapped loose and tie downs holding the tailgate snug the 5-wheeled bent and bruised green Gator is 30 years old. Ask me, the old beast isn’t worth much. Yet my admiration for its everlasting quality is ironclad. Its hauled rocks, brush, and feed for hungry animals. My kids learned to drive on that thing. Today I hauled my grand-kids across the fields to the big oak at the end of the wall.
“Bury me here,” I said.
On the way back they laughed and chanted, “Pop will live forever.”
I joined in until the chest pains started.
Narrator strutted inside, feathers preened to perfection. "Thanks for asking me to dinner, Snappsy."
Snappsy smiled. "You put this gator in a book and made me famous. Dinner is the least I can do. I'm even veering from my P diet."
"Great! Always trust your narrator. We know what makes a story work. So, what letter does dinner start with?"
"C." Snappsy whipped off his tie and trussed her up.
"Never trust your main character. We often take over the story. Ironic, isn't it?" He plucked her feathers. "I'll eat her. I'll eat her not."
“You have my eyes, Baby Kate,” Mother always told her.
Kate double checked the alligator clip on Mother’s pearls, removed the bandage over her eye, and squared her shoulders.
“Is your black tie ironed?” she asked, hobbling past Keenan’s room.
“Mother wouldn’t care,” her brother snapped.
“Mother’s not here,” she whispered.
What remained of the family piled in to the hearse. Kate offered printed directions to her uncle.
“No need. I’ve made this trip far too many times.”
“Not with your dead sister’s cornea staring through you from your niece’s face,” she said, tightening her grip on the knife.
Since the accident, each sunrise was torment - each birthday, a sin. 365 purgatories before Arthur could subtract another year. He counted them all.
Tasks became mountains. The tying of shoes. The tightening of ties. Each trembling pour of a cup of brisk tea, an act of iron will.
Until hope arrived. Marjory. His niece.
“This is no resemblance to life.” A single tear traced her cheek like a leaf.
“I know that. Now.”
“Then you know what must be done.”
She gave him the platter. A kettle. A bloom of Hemlock.
Weeping, Arthur went to interrupt his brother’s nap.
Marcus Irontie, Investigator,
Took his hoojie and thingummy-whatsit
To Mr. Jones, and the thump in his closet.
It woke him up at half past seven,
At quarter to five, and ten to eleven.
It ruined his nap at quarter to two.
Jones asked, implored, “Oh, what can I do?”
Hoojie in hand, and thingummy primed,
Irontie took to the stairs inside.
He could hear the thumping from down the hall,
So he found the bedroom; his back to the wall,
He opened the closet—what was there?
Draw a picture! I’ve no words to spare.
"What's 'Fe' again?" Darrell asked, staring down at the blank chemistry worksheet.
"Freon," Travis answered.
"It's iron, dumbasses," Bobby snapped.
"Whatever. Not like we're gonna use this shit in real life." Travis then produced a beaker of what looked like lemon-lime Gatorade, covered with aluminum foil. "Look what I swiped from Mr. Morin's desk."
"Five bucks if you drink it," Darrell said, grinning.
Labeled a tragic loss to the small community, locals mourned Travis's death for months.
Convicted of practicing science in the presence of minors, Mr. Morin was tied to ATVs and quartered.
"When we reach Spain, I'm gonna bag a toreador."
"Muy bien! Of course, they'll sing ballads about my torrid affair on the French Riviera with the marquis."
"Oo la la! In Sicily, a dashing chocolatier will melt for me and get down on one knee."
"Fantastico! In Athens, I'll meet an Adonis, and--"
They eyed the small, malnourished man.
He pointed to the boatswain: seal gray, and limp as kelp on land.
With heads bowed, they gave the bos'n a push off the raft. The three watched until the sea claimed him.
Big Muddy snapped his claws, bounced in circles and whistled a cheerful tune. Miss Flirty-gator had responded, “I’d love to go to the Bayou Ball with you.” It took courage just to ask.
He set out his favorite crayfish tie, ironed his shirt and lay down to nap.
Suddenly, he woke up. The phone was ringing. “Hello,” he said.
“You low-down dirty-dealing reptile,” Miss Flirty-gator shouted. “Ask me out, then stand me up. Don’t you EVER call me again! ”
Big Muddy buttoned his shirt, tied his tie and left for the ball. “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” he mumbled.
Dilly Duck and Reginald Rooster were waddling to the Fowl Social when they stopped for a drink by the river.
Dilly dipped her beak in the dark water.
Dilly looked up. Reginald was gone.
His red tie remained.
"He'll have to iron it. Where did Reggie go?" Dilly asked.
The water rippled.
"Come for a swim," said Gerald Gator, "and I'll tell you."
"I can't-- I'm going to the Fowl Social."
Gerald put his claws over his heart. "I would be honored to escort you."
"And I'll see Reggie again?"
"Oh yes," grinned the gator. "You all will."
Beneath a sky the color of iron, through air as heavy, Lily paddles her kayak. Spanish moss, gray and tangled, hangs like the hair of bent old women.
The river is blocked. Gnarled fingers of branches reach, twine across the water.
Gators watch with hooded eyes. Their silence ties her nerves in knots. Lily focuses on one task – leaving.
No breeze caresses Lily's skin yet the Spanish moss shivers. A rattling rips through the silence. She looks up. Hanging bones judder, collide. Lily's sanity snaps. She screams as a creature older, deeper than the dark, creeps down toward her.
We close the iron gate. Seb snaps twigs underfoot as we head home.
SNAP. SNAP. SNAP.
Our neighbor, the widower, is on the tree-lined path. I smile at him, but he says something derogatory in return.
'Time to go, Seb,' I say, and we depart.
We arrive on our street. The entire neighborhood has gathered.
'Search everywhere. They've been missing for 6 hours. Seb needs his medication.'
'Why can't Dad sees us?' asks Seb. 'That lady can. Look, Dad. Look!'
'Hush, Sweetie,' I say, hunting out the eyes that were the last to see any of us alive.
She dips a wee brush into the miniscule lavender paint-pot, her slouchy red chef’s hat askew.
“What?” she snaps, “You never seen an artagator in her natural environs?”
Bemused, he responds, “It’s such an unusual…trade. How’d you first know you wanted to be a chocolatier?”
Ah. Grandfather. That explains her tetchiness upon their entry into the thatched shop.
Artisanal chocolates pose on glass shelves. Dark sweet squares, smooth as a mirrored loch, display miniature likenesses of heather or thistle. Velvety surfaced truffles fortify fillings of liquid whisky or bramble habanero cream.
Between the chocolates and grandfather, she’s a keeper.
I know it’s odd to say in the bathroom so long, but it’s my only chance for peace. And, it’s my chance for a therapy session.
The spider under the sink listens. It doesn’t say anything, just listens, and ties threads together, making the best of its environs.
“Are you done yet?” my wife asks.
We talk about her, the spider, and I. My wife tells me I spend too much time in there, talking to myself. When I finally emerge and she sees the web, she snaps and runs for the fumigator.
Now, I feel so very alone.
“What ya doin’ to that gator?” he asked.
“Ain’t none ya business,” she said. “Go back ta bed.”
He didn’t like the way his sister’s face was bunched up like that. That look meant trouble. “I can’t sleep,” he said.
She huffed. “Pest.” She pulled out the pocket knife, snapped the blade free, handed it to him. “Remember what I showed ya?”
He did. He also remembered how the warm blood smelled like iron. “Will it work?” he asked, as they tied it over the doorway.
She frowned at the disemboweled creature swinging there. “If he comes back – it didn’t.”
John entered his stepfather’s fiftieth birthday soirée, ignoring the eager stares of his mom. He dropped his coat on the marble floor but palmed the flask. He’d need it soon.
“John?” His mother’s voice wavered.
John plastered on an obligatory smile as he strolled up to his parents, grabbing a gingersnap from the table along the way. “Mother. Stepfather. Good to see you.”
John retrieved his flask, snatched a tumbler, and poured. “Some Glenmorangie, Father? Translates to tranquility.”
The irony wasn’t lost on his stepfather. The elderly man smirked as he drank. Then he collapsed.
John matched his mother’s grin.
The guy in the corner booth stared, trying to place me. Once upon a time, I used to imagine this scenario. A drama major with a dream, I moved to Hollywood with fame in mind: red carpets, hobnobbing with celebrities, being a paparazzi darling. But one messy confrontation with an infamous director gone awry sent me seeking refuge in Purgatory, Alaska, hiding in a local bar.
The guy approached. Ten minutes later, I was in the back of a squad car.
Snapping the mugshot, the cop smirked. "Front page of tomorrow's news. Smile. You're going to be famous." Fucking irony.
The detective stroked his beard. “Iron left plugged in.”
“She's sloppy, leaves it all the time, sir.”
“Have to ask. What's your tie-in to all this?”
“Pool boy, sir.”
The detective pointed out the window.“Snapdragons flattened, something was dragged over there.”
“Gator, sir. Chased it off this morning.”
“Guess we'll have to see what the camera shows.”
“No cameras, sir.”
“Just installed. She told the company she needed to nab someone. ‘Guilty, in the act,’ she said. By the way, what's your name? I can't put ‘pool boy’ in my report.”
“Gil, sir. Gil Indiac.”
Richard sagged as the final restraint snapped into place. There was no way in hell he was getting out now. He’d always assumed he would do time in purgatory, but clearly he’d been sent straight down below; and he knew better than to ask why. The imp – his imp, his own personal tormentor for the rest of eternity – turned back from building up the fire and shuffled over to check his ties again.
“Oh, I’ll tell you why,” it croaked, stabbing at Richard with the glowing iron rod clasped in its claw. “You voted for Trump!”
The whiskey went down as warm as the setting sun, comforting. The river stones far below turned pink and gold.
The highlight reel played in his mind, on and off the gridiron.
Pee Wee football.
The Gator Bowl, tied---a bad snap, a worse sack, a heartbreaking loss.
The gold band on her slim finger.
Knocked around, loving the game. Nickname: “Astaire” for his sure, nimble feet.
The tiny fingers of his baby girl, now grown.
Last week: “It’s CTE.” His wife’s face.
He buried the flask---it had to look right---stepped to the edge, and “slipped.”
“Lousy hippies.” Gary’s chew pings against the tin bucket.
“Environmentalists, dear,” I say.
“Don’t start with that PC bullshit Annie.” He runs a cloth over the barrel of his two gauge. “Damn lefties. If they think they can drive me out of my own home over some dumb crocodile, they’ve got another thing coming.”
“Gator,” I say.
“Whatever. If you ask—”
“Gator!” I exclaim.
The two gauge flies.
“Annie! Annie, get the gun!” he shouts.
I glance at the fallen weapon, shake my head.
Better not risk it.
I might hit the gator.
Janet NORMANed her requested fulls, lost the caps to her pen collection, and used the word “alot” in a Reply All.
“Knock it off! I’m just thirsty.”
Janet, the rodent-munching shark, fumbled in her desk drawer and dug behind Death in Delos, to no avail. ‘Minion!’ she called to her quivering intern. ‘Booze run!’
“Hey - I’m helping people! Critiquing queries and writing blog posts!”
Janet, crafter of kale cocktails and ironer of fingernails, threatened to tie a poor, helpless character to a boat bound for Carkoon purgatory.
“I didn’t ask to be in this contest!”
Me neither, said Snappsy.
The aggregator has higher priorities.
It's not your place.
Better stay limited and tied -
Age, title and
Let's be honest, delusion
Dependably trump efficiency.
Accept the irony of seniority.
She mutters something about an iron. I tell her nobody minds a few wrinkles. “We need to go, ma’am.”
“Keep your britches on,” she snaps. A minute later here she comes, carrying this gi-normous coon cat, a flask, and a golf club. “I’m ready.”
Naturally, I get both arms tenderized wrassling ‘em into the boat. Before I can untie, this big ole snout rises out of the water. Old lady whacks it right between the eyes with her nine iron.
She smoothes her dress. “We goin’ or what?”
I row, keeping a wary eye out. Who knew Texas had gators?
The place was rotten with reptiles. Most of them seem to have arrived from an inanimate world; there were cast-iron alligators and snapping-turtles made of stone. I had made a mistake in letting her tie me up.
“You didn’t say it would be like this,” I said.
She shrugged. “You didn’t ask,” she said. Then she closed the door.
“Where’s your nanna?”
“She’s napping. Why?”
“She said she needed some muscle and asked for a gat or a tire iron. Tire iron’s too heavy, so I got her this Beretta Pico .380.”
“Nanna said gat?”
“Yeah, she must love old movies.”
“God, don’t give her a gun; she’s dangerous! We had to take her license and car away because she drinks.”
“Hey, cutie, is that my heater?”
“Nanna, you don’t know how…”
“I ain’t no Dumb Dora.”
She grabbed the gun. “It’s puny, but it’ll do.”
She pointed it at her grandson. “Now, sonny, about my car and license…”
“What’s she doing?” asked Musette.
“Staring out the window.” Muse-eminent shrugged. “They do that a lot.”
“Let’s snap her out of it.”
Muse-eminent shook her head, displacing glitter.
“Now she’s scrubbing baseboards? Can’t we tie her to the chair.”
“Ironically, they just whimper. Best to leave them alone.”
Both muses followed as Wanna-be-Creative wandered into the garage. They watched her snap on the light above the utility sink then grasp a pair of clippers.
“Unless,” Muse-eminent hollered, “procrastination goes rogue! Quick! Give her inspiration!
Too late. The blades whirred, mauling Wanna-be-Creative’s hair like a chomping alligator.
Muse-eminent’s eyes rolled. Writers.
Principal Newton understood this environment. “Your new teacher starts Monday. Grief counselors are available. You students in AP Physics had a special bond with Mr. Schrodinger.”
Albert, ever the instigator, raised a hand. “We just saw Schrodinger walking the hallway.”
“Toward the basketball court where Mrs. Schrodinger coaches?”
“Your instructor, shall we say, combined elements with my assistant. Mrs. Schrodinger walked in on the experiment.”
“I understand the gravity of the situation,” Albert snapped.
Newton remained patient. “I’m relatively sure you don’t. When you saw Mr. Schrodinger walking? He was alive, and yet … he was a dead man.”
I had a job interview in 20 minutes, but when I opened my front door, an alligator waited. I slammed the door.
Safe inside, I grabbed my cast iron skillet and hurried out the back, only to find another gator.
It didn’t snap at me, so I booped it on the snoot and ran. More alligators peeled away from my car. They surrounded me.
“Stop!” yelled a woman in a suit and tie. “Are you Maeve Green?”
“Apologize to Allie for hitting her.”
I apologized—so many questions I wanted to ask.
“Excellent.” The woman smiled. “You’re hired.”
“Oh snap,” Gator said staring at the brown iron mark on his tie. “It must have been too hot.”
He raced to his closet to get another tie, opened the door, and stared.
“Someone stole my clothes and it smells in here,” he said with a grimace.
Suddenly panic set in. He didn’t have time to search for another, or he’d be late fetching Allison.
Then, he remembered his dad’s closet full of ties.
He entered his parent’s room and found his clothes laying on the bed.
He grinned. He’d forgotten he’d asked his mom to paint his closet.
Helen picked up the iron. Steam hissed satisfyingly from its base. Normally she disliked this particular task but sometimes life gave you wrinkles which needed to be smoothed out.
The offending item, the instigator of her current mood, lay tied up in front of her. He eyed the iron anxiously. “When you said you wouldn’t mind a bit of experimentation, this wasn’t what I had in mind.”
“You mean like this?” She held the Snapchat image in front of him. He looked away.
So wrinkled, so … shrivelled, so much to iron out. Time was pressing - and so was she.
“Snap!” Clicking her fingertips, side to side, up then down, head waving in rhythm. Didn’t he know ironing was against her religion? What was he going to ask her to do next, vacuum? Never! Last time she checked, she was not a maid! The baby gator she’d bought earlier should do the trick. While relatively small at two feet, the sharp-toothed critter had a nasty bite. Enough to send her man to Emergency. Once out of the house, she’d keep him out. Change the locks. Freedom calling her name, she was not the type of woman to be tied down.
Locks clicked, iron creaked, and the alligator ate her.
Eaten?!? In a zoo??
Bars added, ties tightened, but admissions remained down.
They'd never snack in the gator area.
They'd never sit so close.
In short sleeves too.
Her legs exposed.
Not that it was her fault. Of course.
Utmost surprise it hadn't happened earlier. They're alligators after all.
Her hairdresser interviewed. She always asked for 47 brushstrokes. The populous agreed. A dozen too many.
Months passed. The gator kept the fault. She got the blame.
Plus, she was still dead.
The snapdragon garden in front of Investigator Mumblesham’s house is in bloom. The flowers’ colorful mouths, ready to munch on flies and bees that come calling for nectar, put him in the mood for work.
Inspector Mumblesham has been closing in on the Masked Monstrosity, whose cruelties are terrifying the whole town — Every week, boney remains of the latest victim are found in trash bins behind the city’s only five star restaurant.
Mumblesham’s greatest fear is the irony he’ll discover later today — the chef himself has been adding human meat to spice up his award-winning “Carnivore’s Surprise.”
Little Mikey had waited for this day, it had seemed like an eternity. The season’s first snowfall just ending and the other kids were already outside.
Mother’s permission was asked for and given.
The excitement rose.
The anticipation was almost unbearable as he quickly put on his freshly ironed neck gator, zipped his coat, and tied his boots.
Almost overcome with pure delight.
Gloves were the finishing touch. He would be with them in a snap.
The door closing…the cold air…joy… “THWACK”
The door opening…the warm air…the cold of the slush ball as it ran down his back, soaking him.
Up north, to wild environs, to hunt me some bear.
Downwind to hide my scent.
Up in the tree’s where the snake attacked from.
Down the back of my pants he slithered.
Up… to no good it was, and bitey.
Down to my skivvies I stripped in a flash.
Upping exposed skin to bitier mosquitoes.
Down slashed my knife at the slimy instigator.
Up went my neck hair at growls and twigs snapping.
Down pinned the ATV’s gas pedal.
Up to here, I’ve had it, I need a new task.
Down south, to the city, to hunt me some beer.
“He’s napping. Again.” I start to cry.
“Have you traveled out of the country?” The health department investigator asks.
“No, only Hawaii.”
“Exposure to poisons, heavy metals?”
“I don’t think so. What’s wrong with him? He’s always been so healthy. Just completed the Ironman. Ate salads, avocados, bananas, shrimp. Like I said. Healthy.”
I’m patient with him, doling out clues like I did with my prior investigators. But they always think horses when they should think zebras. It’s too easy.
“I was an Ironman too. You gave him rat lungworm disease.”
He cuffs me.
This one knows his zebras. Dang.
Barefoot, bare head, bearing cruciform staff
As pilgrim leaves last sanctuary
His safety is imaginary
He wronged his neighbour
Confessed his sin
Abjured the realm
He’s got ess-o-in
Headed for the Cinque Ports
First ship out of England
His only way
He was the instigator
Now I’m the perpetrator
Got my compurgators
Won’t need no litigators
Justice was denied to Lise,
Redress for life’s inequities
This wrought iron’s gonna be
Repayment for his villainy
First blow snaps his arm anew
Next blow knocks his head askew
My sister’s rape this won’t undo
But vengeance is a heady brew
Drinking my Snapple, I rued the irony of being named Catherine, and the gator-sized bad luck I seemed to have with love. So bad I was convinced that my last name should be Earnshaw. Maybe Bronte’s heroine and I are tied for the prize.
Stephen asked me to meet him at the coffee shop to discuss our future, but of course, traffic seemed to agree that I don’t deserve him, I’m late. Looking for him, all I see is a montage of mistakes. Suddenly, someone touched my shoulder, “I couldn’t find you,” he chastised me gently, smiling.
Snappsy guarded the pool, no one asked why she was orange and blue. Once it had more about guarding those in the pool. The boy had been her focus.
The boy child had spoken her language and that tied them together. Her iron gaze kept him safe through baseball parties, football parties and the quiet, late night rendezvous. Then he was gone.
The pool stayed empty for too long. Then people began walking through. One man returned, with a woman and child. The child pointed “Snotsie Gahtoor.”
Both the man and woman smiled.
“We’ll take it and the gator too.”
“How much are the boots in the window?” I asked.
“Mighty fine, aren’t they?” The old woman untied her apron. “But they’re not for sale. They’re the last thing Walter ever did.”
“I’ve never seen anything like them. Name a price.”
She pulled another pair from under the counter. “Now these are magnificent. Bull gator. The one that snapped Walter’s back.”
I caressed the leather, admiring the fine stitchwork. “I’m more interested in the boots Walter made.”
She shook her iron-grey curls. “Walter didn’t create them, I did. Still, he makes a nice pair of boots, doesn’t he?”
Julie struggled into the tall, brown boots that went perfectly with the white cowgirl skirt Momma had bought. She snapped her bra straps into place under the faded blue Chambray shirt.
"Where you goin'?" Momma asked.
She drove Momma's old car to the school stadium. It was the same beater that was supposed to have gotten Momma out of Burbank.
The Colts were tied 14-14 at the half. Julie waved to Bobby, she tossed him a Gatorade, looked straight up at me and said,
"Hang your dramatic irony."
She strolled back to the car, and never saw Burbank again.
It was Wednesday, noon. The pavement was so hot that Jimmy could feel the scorch marks burning like an iron through the rubber of his flip-flops. He snapped the cap off the Gatorade bottle. A neon spray sprinkled down his tie. It was the dark side of town where you didn't dare ask. Red peeling flecks of skin came loose around his ears and the sun inflamed his face as he guzzled the last of the liquid. A car pulled up. Jimmy peered in the window then opened the door to get in. She was beautiful and air conditioned.
For Liz and Kathy, employees of Big Bucks Conglomerate, today was a day of sorrow...
“Oh my God, Kathy,” Liz said. “What a morning. Be grateful you’re up on the twenty-second floor.”
“What happened?” Kathy asked.
“At ten o’clock, several people in my department started snapping like gators at each other. Then one of the Accounting guys screamed, ‘I can’t live under these conditions!’ And the Iron Lady down in Legal was threatening to fire anyone within a ten-foot radius.”
“Why was everyone fit to be tied?”
“The break room coffeemaker died.”
“My condolences to the eighteenth floor.”
“Alright, snap out of it everyone…settle down. Let’s raise our glasses to Harvey, last of the original Mad-men.”
“Our Mr. One-a-day plus irony.”
“Man, he swung for the fences every time!”
“My favorite was his Nike cross-trainers with Sisyphus.”
“Or Icarus with the Ray-ban Aviators?”
“And Rodin’s “The Thinker” and Preparation H!”
“When he struck-out, he struck-out big time, who’ll forget Gandhi with Gatorade?”
“That’s tied with the Depends Presidential line.”
“You ask me, after his Cadbury Ad with Christ on a cross, I hope he had the wherewithal to buy his own favorite.”
“Nomex funeral wear for Attorneys?”
The cat stretched claws to the whisker of a mouse.
An oriole sang a torn-up funeral dirge from a fir on a hill.
The mouse shivered, not a move it made, tied under the cat’s green masked glare.
“Why eat me? Kill the jay. It woke us all”
“Dear food, if not for the jay’s grating call, the hawk might have eaten you. My diet would suffer.”
The blue jay swooped down, warning away a fox.
“This garden is mine. I let the jay live.”
The cat swallowed the mouse and settled in for a kick-ass nap.
I opened the door silently, reverently. Everything was as I remembered it. The furniture, now comically small. The plush alligator and tie-dye tiger flanking blankie. On the shelf, guarding them all, Iron Man. I picked up the picture of the three of us. I thought he was just unhappy. But looking at it now, I see it in his eyes.
I never asked Dad if that was why he did it. The sentence, carried out today, guarantees I never will.
Closing that door tightly, I prayed it would never snap open again, like the eye of an awakened dragon.
It’s not that folks disliked the garlic-scented mutant princess, exactly--
“A sweetie,” said Mouse-Ear, “truly.”
“Don’t you mean a savory?” asked Dandelion, chortling.
--until she threw herself an enormous birthday party (her first, though she was forty)--
“Rutabaga tortes and pin the tail on the dragon?” said Dandelion. “No way.”
“She’s a tiro. Novice,” Mouse-Ear said. “Let’s give her a chance.”
“She’s napiform. Turnip-shaped,” said Dandelion. “Let’s not.”
--and (mysteriously) forgot to invite the fairies.
“I should give her the gift of stinking WORSE!” cried Dandelion.
“Already gave her mine,” said Mouse-Ear, swallowing the invitations’ last glittering ribbon.
“Have you ever seen such nonsense?” Bridget asks. “Gator in fashion.
Really! Gator purses, gator belts – even gator ties. I cannot imagine what
people see in these ridiculous fads.” She shudders and snaps closed her peacock-feather
purse. I glance at her outfit: unicorn print track suit, platform shoes, mermaid-dyed
hair, glitter EVERYTHING.
“No,” I say, voiced tinged with irony. “I suppose you can’t.”
Would he never ask? Five years she’d hoped to tie the knot with this guy. And with every dragged foot, another iron-gray strand emerged in her hair.
She reminded herself of all the good. Shared bike rides through the park, walks to the bookstore in the rain. Trying gator meat for the first time, vomiting it up afterwards.
It wasn’t that they didn’t love each other. He was just…deliberative…
Another anniversary. Year six. Tonight, she’d give him the dreaded ultimatum.
Car crashed. Fire snapped.
Engagement ring burned a hole into his pocket.
[Probably too late with this entry--busy weekend--but it was fun practice!]
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