Friday, September 25, 2015

The Hidden Park, Part V

“Paul, I’ve been thinking.”

“Uh oh,” said Paul. “That’s when things start to get dicey.”

Bryan laughed. “Stop it, or I’ll put mayonnaise on your sandwich.”

Paul adopted a fearful expression. “You wouldn’t dare!” Then he sobered. “Seriously, what topic are you thinking about?”

Bryan paused in his sandwich making. “Hold on a moment.” He stood at the counter, with two sandwiches in progress, so he quickly finished them. He plopped them onto plates, added a dill pickle spear next to each, and brought them over to his husband, who waited at the kitchen table. It was just before midnight on Monday, and they were both comfortable in their bathrobes and shorts, but tired. They’d each been at their laptops, dealing with work concerns and necessary e-mails long into the evening. Bryan could feel the long day pulling at him, even as his stomach reminded him dinner had been hours ago.

“These look good,” Paul said, but he didn’t touch the sandwich yet.

“Thanks,” Bryan said. “I’ve been thinking about Annabelle and how she met that man over the weekend. It’s probably nothing, and the guy was just interested in Duchess, but there are bad people out there.” He thought about Annabelle upstairs, sleeping in her bed, with Duchess curled around her, and something clenched tight in his gut. He wanted to keep her safe, and let her grow up into an independent person. Sometimes the conflict between the two goals kept him completely off-kilter.

“And you think we should have a talk with Annabelle about being aware and not taking chances, and all that good stuff?” Paul asked.

“Yeah.” Bryan shook his head. “I hate that the world is so scary and dangerous and we have to have these conversations with her, more than once.”

“I know, but it’s a good reminder.” Paul ran his hand over Bryan’s forearm. “She’s a smart girl, and we can trust her.”

“Oh, I trust Annabelle. It’s all those other people out there that I’m not so sure about.”

“She’s growing up. We can’t follow her around all the time,” Paul said.

“We could try.” Bryan lifted an eyebrow and Paul laughed.

“Black trench coats and walkie-talkie wristwatches?” Paula asked. “Shall I put in an order for fedoras?”

“I look good in a fedora,” Bryan replied.

“Devastatingly handsome,” Paul said. “Now, let’s eat our sandwiches, and get to bed. Mornings are too busy, so we’ll talk with Annie tomorrow after school. Sound good?”


Friday, September 18, 2015

The Hidden Park, Part IV

The moment the school bell released her, Annabelle hurried. Her dads were both very aware of the clock and if she arrived home too late after school, they both started imagining all the worst things. So, Annabelle had learned not to dawdle, and she knew exactly how much extra time she had if she ran instead of walked, and how quickly she could cover a single extra neighborhood block.

Annabelle tightened the straps on her backpack and she scurried down the sidewalk, not quite running, but faster than her usual walk. Her books banged against her back as she hopped a curb and scooted between two parked cars. There were three additional blocks to get to the grey stone building next to the hidden park and then three additional blocks on her return path. Less than ten minutes for that distance, but she wanted time to actually look at the building.

She’d tried to look at it on the internet, pulling up sophisticated maps and first person views, and something wonky had happened. Either the information wasn’t there, or someone had done a bad job, because everything was blurry. Sometimes, she thought the entire search was jinxed, because their wifi went down, or her laptop forced installations. Her dads were considering allowing her a smartphone, but so far none had materialized. She was hopeful for the upcoming holidays, though. They rarely let her borrow theirs, because they contained confidential work information. But it meant she didn’t have access to an app for maps.

Annabelle braced herself against a tree and stood there panting. The front of the grey building rose in front of her.

People streamed out the door of the gray stone building, shaking hands and talking. Everyone was dressed well, with shined up shoes or strappy sandals, and even a few had on real hats, not just baseball caps. Women fluttered by in gauzy floral print dresses and men seemed like they had stepped out of the past, with charcoal grey or brown suits in broad cuts.

Annabelle noticed the man from before and he caught her eye. It took him a moment to cross the street, as he waited for a car to zip past, and then he walked over. He, too, was dressed in an older-styled suit, with his hands in his pocket. She could see he wore suspenders from the gap created as he stepped up onto the curb.

“No Duchess?” he asked.

“I’m on my way home from school,” Annabelle said. There were people everywhere around them, so she wasn’t worried. “What is that place?”

He looked across the street at the building and smiled. “It used to be a church,” he said,” but the congregation grew older and dwindled. Now it’s in the process of being a theater. We’re all working on putting on our first production. Want a tour of the inside?”

Annabelle grasped at the straps of her backpack. What she wanted was to run home. “Sorry. Maybe later. I need to get home.” She moved away from him and headed directly into the throng of people, then raced home, with minutes to spare.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Draft: *makes done hand motions*

I've got a 7+ k short story draft done, and headed off for its first round of beta review, and I'm feeling pretty darn pleased about it. I've been so stupidly busy this past year that it has been nearly a year since I've written anything more than the delectable Free Fiction Friday stories, so this is momentous to me. Granted, it is in the draft stage and not the 'accepted to be published' stage, but one step at a time, and each story needs to be polished in its own way. Thanks to everyone for sticking with me.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

beatbox at the gas station

I needed gas this morning and while it pumped I noticed the air supply station -- it was turned on and while people were fussing with their tires, it was dealing with its air supply by releasing some air in increments, making for a very distinctive beat box sound! I don't have the skill, but someone with such skill could have easily done a little rap or ditty with the air supply behind. It seemed to me to keep very good time, while I was listening. Sometimes it is the smallest observances that are the most delightful.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

white daffodils

I don't remember where I was when I took this picture, but I recall loving the beautiful flowers. A memory of spring, even as summer hazes us toward fall. Spring will come again.

Monday, September 7, 2015

summer is back

I thought it would perhaps tend toward fall now that it was September, but the temperatures all weekend have been melting everyone. If there were mercury in any of the thermometers anymore, it'd pop right out of the top, cartoon like. Good luck to everyone trying to get some sleep, especially if (like me) you don't have an air conditioner!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Free Fiction: The Hidden Park, Part III

“Hey, look at that, it’s the last farmers’ market. I forgot all about it.” Dad patted down his pockets until he found his wallet. He checked the interior. “I’ve got enough to cover a few treats. How about you?”

Pop checked his own wallet. “Pretty flush for a Sunday. Might even be able to swing some groceries to bring home. Too bad we forgot our cloth bags. We’ll be shamed for using the plastic ones!”

Dad laughed. “How will the family ever survive the dishonor?”

They stood on the driveway that entered into the space behind the line of shops. The parking lot bulged full of tents and tables, everything laden with culinary delights. Annabelle could see rows of green leafy vegetables that stretched for nearly the entire length of the lot. People thronged all around, and vehicles were scrunched in haphazardly along the sides. Many vendors had their trucks backed up to their tables, using the space as storage and pantry all in one. The green spot off to the side bulged with vehicles parked like sardines, although haphazard sardines to accommodate the various trees.

“But the little park,” Annabelle said. She had Duchess’ lead in her hand, and Duchess looked around, clearly excited by the multitude of people, smells, and activity.

Dad glanced at the space. “I see what you mean now. Never noticed it before. It’s smaller than I thought it’d be from your description.”

“I think it’s just an odd piece of lawn, honey,” Pop said. “Let’s take a look at the stands and see what we want to get.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “If you see the man from yesterday anywhere here, point him out to me. We can ask him how he knows Duchess.”

“Okay,” Annabelle agreed. She was disappointed. Yesterday the park had seemed special. Tucked away and quiet, she’d thought it was a hidden place, a secret known only to a few. With all the cars parked on it, she could see it was really only a strip of green, and nothing very interesting after all.

She followed her two fathers into the depth of the farmer’s market. Everything seemed frenzied and rushed. The vendors smiled behind their wares, confident in the knowledge that at the end of summer, everyone was seeking out that last fresh taste of vegetables before a cold winter.

With a limited budget, they chose their purchases carefully. They bought crusty rolls from one place, nearly black-red tomatoes from another, three kinds of cheese from a third, and kettle corn. Then they settled in a small free space at the end of one table to enjoy their finds. Pop rushed off at one point to bring back a loaf of bread for dinner later, and Dad sagely chose an early apple pie from another vendor. They dug in with plastic forks, ate half the pie, and forced themselves away to save the other half for later. Annabelle bought two meatballs from a food vendor and gave one to Duchess, and split the other with her dads. Pop slipped Duchess slivers of cheese.

With a pat to his belly, Dad stood up from the table. “The bank has hit rock bottom. Time to head home, what do you think?”

“Agreed,” said Pop. “Annie? How about you?”

The sunshine, fresh air, and rich food had made Annabelle very tired. She longed to take a pleasant Sunday afternoon nap. “Oh, yeah,” she said.

As they picked up their things, she glanced back to the small green space. The grey stone walls were more visible now that some vehicles had vacated the space. As she turned away, she realized that the door in the wall had been open. She looked back quickly, and saw the bushy tail of a dog vanish into the dark space, and the door shut closed. Her curiosity flared again.

After school tomorrow, she decided. She’d go take a look at the front of that grey building.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

sunlight pouring

I got into a short discussion with someone the other day because in regular conversation, I had said something akin to: watch out for sunlight pouring in through your car window, it'll melt an object left on your dashboard. And got looked askance at until I corrected to "sunlight beating in". But I maintain that I like "sunlight pouring". And I wrote a few impromptu sentences on twitter to make myself happy.

Here they are in a group!

Sunlight poured through the car window, raising the temperature inside, and melting all the chocolate intended for Ted's date that night.
Ted raised the window shade and sunlight poured into the room, illuminating his empty bed; if only the chocolate hadn't melted yesterday!
Ed contemplated his dirty clothes on the floor, sunlight pouring across them and the carpet, highlighting all the melted chocolate stains.
Had he made a mistake, Ed wondered, to reject Ted's ruinous chocolate gift, and reject Ted, then go on a chocolate ice cream binge anyway?

Oh, sometimes, I make myself chuckle....