Three Things

  • Okay, so I’m definitely working at the other store next weekend. Hopefully this means that my transfer is approved and not still pending.
  • Our last day was changed from today to next Tuesday, which sucks because that’s when the district manager will be here “helping”. But whatevs.
  • I think I might go to trade school to be a machinist.

The Afterschool Special, Part 2

Part 1

Stan and David rested for a few minutes, recovering from their close call with the janitor and finishing their suckers together in silence. David was the first to crunch the last bit of candy from his stick and stand up, brushing the dust from his school uniform.

“Is it time yet? Mr Mills is gone home for sure by now,” he said, hopefully.

Stan nodded and chewed up the last of his own cherry-red lollipop. “Don’t forget your backpack,” he reminded his friend.

David scooped up his bag as they headed for the classroom door. The soft snick of the lock disengaging was the only sound to be heard aside from their rapid breathing. Their excitement was a nearly palpable presence in the air.

“C’mon, David, it’s this way,” Stan beckoned him to the right, down the hallway away from the front doors of the school.

David stayed close behind, not wanting to take the slightest chance of missing out on any part of the adventure they had planned. Stan stopped abruptly in front of an unlabeled door, and David nearly ran him over in his haste.

“I thought this was a broom closet or something,” David remarked.

“Nope. Check it out.” Stan wiggled the doorknob at just the right angle, and it unlatched, allowing the door to swing wide, revealing a stainless steel ladder bolted to the wall.

David goggled at the sight. “Holy cow!”

“I told you it was awesome.’ Stan smirked to himself before stepping into the closet of a room and starting up the ladder, David on his heels.

It felt like they climbed for hours, but about only minutes later, Stan pushed open the heavy door above them, and he nearly fell off the ladder, taking David with him, when it slammed open onto the roof, letting the sunlight stream in.

The two boys scrambled out of the hole in the ceiling and stood up to look around.

“I can see the whole town from up here!” David exclaimed.

“Look over there!” Stan pointed. “It’s your house.”

They spent at least half an hour seeking out sights to show each other, buildings and landmarks that they’d known since birth, but only from ground level. Everything looked so different from the grand height of three whole stories.

Finally tiring of that game, the boys took off their backpacks and used them as pillows to lie on their backs and find pictures in the cloudscapes above.

Which is where they fell sound asleep, and where the police found them, hours later.

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Begun with  TBP OLWG #34


The Afterschool Special

Stan peeked out the window, his hair wildly tufted from the long minutes spent hiding in the coat closet, his grubby little fingers gripping the windowsill. 

“Is it all clear, Stan?” David whispered from his hiding place beneath the teacher’s desk. 

“Yup. The last bus has gone. I think we’re in the clear,” Stan agreed, relaxing his grip and sinking back down to the floor. 

David pulled himself out from under the desk and sat up. “So now what do we do? Go upstairs?”

Stan shook his head. “We still have to wait for the custodian to leave, but that should only be a little while longer. Then we’ll be the only ones left in the whole school!”

The pair grinned at each other, wicked in their complicity. 

Stan pulled his backpack off one shoulder and around to the front where he could access the zipper. He opened the small pocket and removed two suckers. “Apple or cherry?” He asked his friend, after a brief inspection of the labels. 

David reached for the green-wrapped candy. “I’ll take apple,” he answered. 

The boys dropped their wrappers on the floor in unison and popped the lollipops into mouths waiting to be stained red and green. 

Stan scrambled to his feet with the sudden realization that he’d forgotten one of the most important parts of his plan. He rushed to lock the classroom door and slap their sign on the window, then quickly duck out of sight before the janitor could notice the real reason room 4B was inaccessible. 

Mr Mills tried the door. Fortunately, the school board didn’t pay him well enough to make retrieving the keys from the office worthwhile. 

David’s wide eyes tracked Stan’s slide along the wall, away from the door. “I can’t believe you made it!” He cried in a hissing whisper made lispy by the recently-lost incisors.

TBP OLWG #34
25 minutes handwritten at work, including one customer interruption. I choose 4!


Happy Birthday, Let’s Go to the ER

I broke my left arm when I was eleven. On my mother’s thirty-sixth birthday.

Wow, that just drives the nail right on in the coffin, doesn’t it? I was eleven when my mother was two years younger than I am now. And she already had two children and two husbands–not that I’m trading my husband in, mind you.

But yes, that’s what happened. We went to the park, and I fell off some playground equipment and snapped that sumbitch pretty dang good if I do say so myself. I freaked right the fuck out.

 

My mom claims she heard it; I’m glad I did not. She and my stepfather gathered my sister from wherever she was playing and loaded everything up in the car. My mother rode in the back seat with em, supporting my arm since we had nothing to splint it with. Not a fun ride, take my word for it.

That ER has changed so much in the past twenty-seven years. I’m not sure that there’s anything left of the place I went that night, where I kept whimpering as a team of doctors struggled to set my arm, giving me more and more sedation until finally I was unconscious and they could push and pull as needed. I woke up a bit when they were X-raying my arm inside the first cast and finding out that I’d moved enough that it was no longer set properly, and they had to cut that cast off and start over. I don’t remember the ride home with my new cast.

But I do remember the next three days of being out of school, and being allowed to watch TV which was an absolute no any other time I stayed home from school. I don’t remember it hurting very much after the first day, but who was I to insist on going to school when I could stay home?

I welcomed my celebrity status when I returned to school, which was completely out of character for me. I talked to kids I’d never spoken to before and let them sign my cast. It was glorious. My sister had broken her arm the year before, as had my mother, fortunately at separate times, but living it firsthand was a new experience for me. I’d had ‘surgery’ before, but it was just tubes in my ears and my adenoids out, no stitches or anything else that kids would be fascinated by.

I’m left-handed, and I broke my left arm. I loved not having to write my spelling words three times each. That was probably the best part of the whole broken arm thing. No damn spelling words. I’d been reading years longer than I’d been in school, I knew how to spell. Except receive, of course.

I clearly remember the day I got my above-elbow cast off for a short-arm. My appointment was early enough that I was dropped off at school after, and my class was in the library playing Oregon Trail. I walked over to the library and waved at everyone, using my newly-freed elbow. that was quite the ballsy move for eleven-year-old me. Quite.

But it wasn’t nearly as exciting for the rest of the sixth grade as it was for me. I didn’t get half the signatures on my new cast that I did on the old one, even accounting for the lack of real estate to collect them.

And two weeks later, that was it. The cast came off, and I had the stinkiest, skinniest, flakiest, palest arm I’d ever seen. The wait began to see if it would grow, since the doctors were concerned that I’d damaged the growth plates, but no one outside the hospital cared about that. I was no longer the sideshow freak at school, and I faded quickly back into obscurity.

P.S. It grew just fine to match the other.

 


Perspective and Book Learning

I go on Facebook, and people are always griping about how they never learned how to balance a checkbook or pay taxes and that they’ll never use calculus in the real world. 


Now, for some reason, I know a lot of math teachers. Like, serious business mah teahcers. Even math professors. I mean, I was good at math in school, but that was plenty good enough for me. No offense to the possibly dozens of math teachers reading this, but it’s just not my thing, you dig? 

So the math teachers always have to get up in arms about how each and every one of us grown folks uses this higher math all the time without even knowing it. 

First of all, I would never let a career define me so deeply that any disparagement of anything to do with my career choice becomes a personal attack on me. 

I’m a writer; I’m an artist. I’ll be the first to tell you that there’s bad art and bad literature. Because it’s true. But that doesn’t lessen its impact one single bit. Sometimes creating bad art is the only thing saving a person from completely giving up. I fully support that. 

Now, math is a little different. I’m sure there’s a mathematician somewhere scribbling away at formulas to keep the darkness at bay, but that’s not where I’m going today. 

If a contemporary complains about the uselessness of the math they learned in school, it’s not an attack on you as a math teacher. Jeez. Take a breath. It’s not even an attack on math. Take another breath. 

Take another breath, cause here’s my point:

What difference does it make whether or not someone realizes that they’re doing math?

None at all. 

It doesn’t matter at all. I promise. Where’s the sense in trying to get people riled up about having to use math every day? Doesn’t that just make your life harder as a math professional? Wouldn’t you rather not struggle with more and more animosity towards the math that is your life? 

Just let it go. 

Honestly, I’m with everyone who wants to be taught practical things in school. Everyone who doesn’t want to spend time learning about things that don’t interest them and won’t help them in their chosen life paths. 

Today I shit my pants when I sneezed at work close to closing time. My cropped sweater doesn’t cover my rear end, and remember, I work in a kiosk. 

I never learned in school what to do about that

But I can’t for the life of me think of what to call that class. 


There Everywhere

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I don’t remember the first time I learned it, but one rule of writing has been drilled into my head so deeply that I don’t believe I’ll ever get rid of it.

It’s the forbidden word.

THERE.

There, I said it. It’s right there. There’s the word that good writers never use.

Don’t use there. You can’t use there. It isn’t descriptive. There should never be the subject. There is far too passive. It just sits there. Move those words around and make that sentence active.

So many English teachers, so many writing classes, and this is my biggest takeaway. Don’t ever use there. And I try not to do it. And when I read someone else’s writing, I rewrite their there-led sentences in my head.

But I can’t help myself sometimes. I use there.

So there.

Because in my decades of reading and writing, the thousands and thousands of books and the millions of words, I’ve learned another thing. And it clashes. Sometimes, good writers do use there. Sometimes it’s the right word. Sometimes it’s determined to insert itself into whatever I’m writing in spite of how much I try to stuff it down into some deep, dark, readerless hole.

Sometimes I can practically taste the cognitive dissonance.

But it’s a word, and there are so many words; I’ll never use them all (see what I did there?). There deserves to be read just as much as any other word.

But you know, you’re not supposed to use there.