Monday, July 25, 2016

My classes are providing me with all sorts of writing opportunities

Mom, Dreidel and Me

“Now, where has he gone now?” Penny grimaced and opened the door of her son's dungeon. She ignored the skull and crossbones he'd affixed to his door. Despite the sea of clothing on the floor and the rumpled bed, the cold and damp room was completely devoid of nine-year-olds. She flicked a switch and two sconces on the wall provided dim illumination in the darkness. She avoided the cobwebs she woven and the dust in the corners of the room. Atop the pile of jeans and t-shirts was Ethan's prized bathrobe, the one she'd painstakingly embroidered with moons and six-pointed stars. He usually wouldn't go anywhere without it.
Ethan probably expected her to believe he'd disappeared, passed into another dimension or something. But he still wasn't over the flu. Penny frowned. Who'd take care of him if she wasn't there?
She carried the bowl of Jewish penicillin up the flight of stairs to her galley and stashed it in the refrigerator. He'd re-apperate. It was an ongoing battle he was determined to win, magical son vs. mundane mother, but one she fought bravely and usually with a twinkle in her eyes. She returned to his room to collect his clothes and put them away. On second thought, she sniffed them and tossed many into the laundry hamper. As she folded and hung the cleaner items, she wondered where he really disappeared to this time. She opened the book on his ledge, full of magic spells and tricks. But there was no way to know which one he'd tried last.
She tried the lower basement and backyard. No Ethan. He wasn't under the bed in the guest room. Those were the places she'd found him before when he was frightened of something.
Penny finally unearthed Ethan in the linen closet. It was a tight squeeze, but she joined him. “What are you doing here?”
“They're after me.” He shrank in further. “They'll kill us.”
“Did I raise my son to be a crybaby wizard?” She placed her palm on his forehead, brushing away his sand-colored hair. “You're burning up. Let me tuck you in and bring you a nice elixir.”
“Maaaa,” he whined, mixing back his tears. “I'm not a baby.”
“Well you're acting like one. C'mon. There's no one here but the two of us.” She dragged him out and forced him downstairs, keeping one hand on his back.
He surveyed the room. “What happened to my robe?” He panicked. “How can I fight them without my wizard's robe?”
She took it from his closet and brought it to him. “I'll get you an aspirin and some soup.”
He grabbed for her arm. “Don't go.” A frantic whisper. “D'you hear that?”
She listened. Nothing. “Hear what?” But then she heard it too.
It’s only the washing machine.” But she hadn’t put the clothing in yet. “I’ll go check.”
He looked at her through fear-filled eyes.
She sighed. “Ethan, your dragon will get them, whoever they are.”
In a small voice he said, “I don’t REALLY have a dragon.”
She smiled. “Well, I do.”
A roar filled the cavernous room. The dust motes in one corner seemed to coalesce into a long, serpentine body. Gray scales covered every inch, and a trickle of smoke came from it’s mouth.
Penny smiled. “It’s time you met Dreidel, He protected me when I was your age. Now he can protect you.” She put an arm around his narrow shoulders. “So, now you have a dragon. What more can you want?”
Ethan had a ready answer. “A wand.”
His mother’s smile broadened as she pulled a thin, pointed stick out of thinner air and handed it to him. “Now nothing can hurt you.”
“But who’ll protect you?” Ethan asked.
“I will, sweetheart. And when you’re well again, I’ll teach you some real magic.” She planted a kiss on his forehead. “Nothing can hurt either of us now.”
Just then, the noise they’d heard earlier repeated louder, over and over, this time definitely coming from above.
“That’s not the washer.” Penny glanced at Dreidel as she decided what to do. “Stay here,” she told her son, taking four steps closer to the stairs.
“Mom!” Ethan reached for her hand.
“You’ll be safe here with Dreidel.” The dragon snorted like he agreed. “I’ll be back soon.”
Leaving her son in his dungeon, she climbed the stairs slowly, unsure what she’d find.
It had to be something solid to cause that much clanging, insistent like an unbalanced dryer. But just as she hadn’t used the washer, she was certain she hadn’t turn on the other machine.
Penny stuck her head through the doorway from the dungeon stairs and swiveled it to take in the entire hall. Nothing there. She took the remaining steps up and closed the door behind her.
Cautiously she crept toward the laundry room. The sounds seemed to emanate from there. But the room contained only the machines, sink, and folding table. She unlocked the door to the backyard from the room and opened it. The scent of the apple tree just outside and the sight of an empty swing set convinced her no one was there.
But the banging grew thunderous behind her. She tried to follow the sound back through the house to the kitchen. What she saw made her heart thump even louder than the noise. She took a deep breath, catching the scent of the beast, and as calm as a breeze, wrinkled her brow. “Now, where did you come from?” She didn’t expect an answer.
The enormous ball of brown wool tilted it’s head, or what seemed to be its head, since that’s where its three eyes were. It stared intently at her through all of those eyes.
Penny guessed it didn’t have one in the back of its head like she did, the invisible eye that saw all things. She stared back.
The ball unraveled two legs and four arms as it rushed her. She stood her ground, all the while surveying the room for a weapon. And smiled. “I know just the thing.”
Her knitting bag sat next to the dishwasher. She reached into it and pulled out a long, number 8 needle. “I should turn you into a sweater for my son.” She pulled at one of the arms and began casting on.

Monday, July 11, 2016

From another class:

Who Needs a Woodsman?

Crimson rushed to the market before it closed. Unlike the huge supermarkets in other parts of town, the family-owned one kept bankers' hours, closing at three-thirty sharp every weekday afternoon. They also charged much higher prices for food, but it was on her way to Granny's place. Still, she couldn't believe how expensive the Granny Smith apples were, the only kind her grandmother would eat.

By the time she left the store, her cloth bag full of apples, she'd missed the bus. She'd have to walk but it was a beautiful day for it. She tied her red hoody around her waist and headed off.

The quickest route was through the park. She'd been avoiding it ever since her best friend was mugged there. But wondered what could happen during the light of day.

The sidewalk on both sides of the roadway through the part was crowded, and she joined the throngs of folks enjoying the spring weather. As she strolled along, a car pulled over and the man inside whistled. It wasn't one of those kinds that construction workers use whenever they saw a hot chick, but rather the kind someone might employ to call someone over to them.

“Hey, you, Ginger. Need a ride?”

He was good-looking with a full head of wavy black hair and a sheep-skin jacket, but those looks were marred by the leer on his mouth and his very large ears.

“Thanks, but no thanks.” She resumed walking, ignoring him.

He drove slowly, continuing to call to her, but after a couple of minutes, he gave up and drove off.

She relaxed and practically skipped the rest of the way, hampered only by the weight of the bag.

Granny lived in a cottage on the other end of the park. Once Crimson caught sight of the stone walls, she broke into a jog.

She entered to find her grandmother tucked up in her double bed. Something wasn't right.

She squinted. “Granny, have you been dying your hair again? I don't remember it ever being so black.”

“A girl has to take care of her appearance, my dear.” Granny's voice sounded a little funny too as a hand patted the hair.

“And your new hearing aids seem to have made your ears grow.”

“But now I can hear you just fine, my dear.”

Crimson put the bag of apples on the table and stepped closer. “I don't think I like your wolfish grin. Are those new dentures? They sure are big.”

“The better to eat you with, my dear.” And with that, the figure leaped from the bed.

But Crimson was too fast for him. She hefted the bag of Granny Smith apples and bopped him in the noggin with them.

He fell to the ground and clutched his head in his hands as she hit him again, harder this time. He cried out for mercy as she swung the bag at one ear and then the other.

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

He coward on the floor. “No one likes me because of my big teeth and ears. Girls don't give me a second glance.”

“Oh, you poor dear!” She knelt down to rub his head where she'd first hit him. A goose egg had already formed. “But it serves you right for trying to pickup girls in the park.”

“I was only trying to help.” His voice was a whine.

He was getting on her nerves and she was tempted to hit him again. Instead, since she was a kind and generous person, she helped him up and handed him one of the apples. “Here.”

He pointed to the bag. “At least there'll be one fewer apples in that bag the next time you hit me.”

“Where's my grandmother?” she asked rather belatedly.

He shrugged, then winced as the pain in his ears increased from the motion. “She was leaving as I drove into the clearing in front of this house. At least, I guess the woman was your granny.”

“Gray hair in a bun, granny glasses and round face and figure?”

He nodded. “She took off as if she was on a mission.”

“But she knew I was coming. I called her yesterday.” Crimson looked around the kitchen area hoping Granny left her a note. Nothing. “Are you sure she was leaving?”

He shrugged. “Look, if you're not going to hit me upside the head again, or even if you're planning to, I'm leaving.”

She nodded at him absentmindedly.

He went out and around the building, got into his car and high-tailed it out of there.

Crimson tried calling anyone she could think of who might know where her Granny went. Noone knew.

At five, she decided it was time to leave. She wrote out a note, poured the apples into a bowl, and left.

Days later she found a text that her Granny sent, telling her not to worry.