Friday, January 17, 2020

Paint the Wizard's Fire

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

goals ~ cold ~ push-ups ~ shake ~ temperature

It was submitted by: https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

So, I had a dream like this recently, and I kinda added some details, but the bones of it are what happened in the dream. I can't explain my brain. 

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Her temperature hadn't really changed much since the last time she checked. Still over 101 and stubbornly not coming down. She knew it was a good thing, that her body was working hard to kill off whatever cold germs she'd been invaded by, but fucking hell it was never fun. Burning hot one moment then the shake of chills the next. The aches. The discomfort. She couldn't get comfortable, and the pain every time she coughed made her feel like a Sasquatch was doing push-ups on her chest.

So she took all the different over the counter meds she might need and hoped for relief. Just a degree lower on the fever was one of her only goals really. Just that much would be a drastic improvement.

The room faded as she fell asleep and was replaced by a mossy, overgrown garden.

What the...

Where am I?

I must be dreaming.

That thought relaxed her a little, so she took in her surroundings. The garden was walled off with crudely cut stones, crumbling in places and covered in others by vines. There were trees on the outside of the walls completely ripped from the ground, recently overturned, while others stood tall with dark green leaves and the power of something ancient, something that had seen what the world had to offer and lived to see more.

The garden itself was a tangled mass of spiked vines full of huge, bright exotic flowers with blood-hued stamens, bushes full of dripping berries that smelled sickly sweet, small trees bare of leaves and with blackened trunks...not a single one did she recognize.

And if that wasn't weird enough, everything was too quiet. Too still. She couldn't hear any life at all actually, and in a place like this, bugs would be thriving. Frogs. Salamanders. Newts. Toads. The silence unnerved her making the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

In the middle of the garden was a fountain. Surely something would be drinking or living in the trinkling water but it was quite a long way off. She couldn't even make out what shape it was, but something pulled her to it. There was a swirling, chaotic, debris covered walking path that led to it though, and without really understanding why, she set off.

Time dragged on, and it felt and LOOKED like she had barely made any progress towards her goal when she started hearing the whispers.

She's here. She'll kill him. The Black Wizard.

She's here. She'll free us.

She's here. She's here. She's here again.

She'll kill him.

The whispers should have been terrifying beyond words, but instead she found herself standing taller, straighter, and feeling confident in a way she never had before in her life.

She's here. We need her.

Protect her. She must make it to the fountain.

She trudged on seeming to make a little more progress while the whispers floated around her like shimmering hordes of butterflies. The vegetation grew even thicker now on either side of the path with heavy fruits bending small trees almost to the ground and ripe gourds huddled in the massive patches of vines all around the path. The smell of rot hung in the air crowding around patches of moss and clutches of wildflowers. She could almost taste it, felt it roil across her skin. The place simultaneously felt familiar and foreign. Known and mysterious.

The closer she moved to the fountain the louder the voices became until it was a roar in her head like television static turned to maximum volume. The voices talked over one another blending into a chaotic metal melody, a cacophony of pleas, hopes, and directions with one clear message.

She was here to kill the Black Wizard and set these souls free.

She must have been closer to the fountain now. In the distance and coming nearer all the time, green streaks of lightning lit up the land. A dark castle stood on a cliff overlooking the garden, looking at her with each strike, and every time she felt an intense cloud of dread wash over her. But the voices kept her determined, focused. She had to help them.

She's here. She'll kill him. rejoice she is here!!Help her. Girl, you will kill him. Please. 

She edged even closer now seeing signs nailed to posts stabbed into the ground. They were covered in...runes? Some kind of letters or symbols she didn't understand. But she also got her first look at the Black Wizard on these as an Uncle Sam stylized figure glaring out at her from under a black hat and pointing in her direction. His yellowed, crooked teeth were bared, lips pulled back in a snarl under a nose that had obviously been broken and never reset properly. His eyes were green but not the kind of green you would ever find on a human. They nearly glowed even in print and matched the color of the lightening streaking down from the castle on the cliff. His black tattered robe and long gray, scraggly beard just added more to the feelings of terror that were now causing chills to run down the length of her body, head to toe.

She knew him somehow. She was meant to be here.

She hugged her arms around her and kept moving. But now the voices cohesively chanted a lyric that whirled around her like a cotton candy blanket and reverberated in her mind, an earworm she couldn't shake.

Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

She had no idea what it really meant, but the feeling that she absolutely had to get to the fountain was stronger than ever. She was close now and could make out the shape of the thing. It had a round black marble base. The center of it spawned a large green and gold snake unlike anything she had ever seen before. It coiled around a large sword with detailed scales that glinted in the flashes of green light. It's hooded head faced straight forward just above the sword's hilt. It menaced any creature who viewed it while still managing to peacefully spit water into the pool surrounding it. Overall the whole thing was eerie but combined with everything else going on, with the lightning striking more and more frequently shining on the blood red eyes of the stone snake, the entire setting became that much more fucked up. She had no words to describe exactly what she was feeling, and to make matters worse, her brain was so cloudy with the drive and emotions of the voices. The lyrical chant pushed her and their fear and hopelessness spilled onto every nerve. She was tense, chilled, almost sick with the dread.

Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

She stood before the fountain as lightning hit one of the trees just outside the garden walls. It was almost like the garden was protected somehow from the wizard's wrath easing some of her tensions. She was safe, she thought.

You're

Not.

hurryhurryhurrynow

Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

One peek into the fountain itself ruined her. The water swirled with creatures she couldn't recognize. Beetles with fangs, glowing and fighting. Blood in a range of colors. Small amphibians tearing into others. Slugs in blues and purples gnashing their teeth. Everything a predator, waiting to use their claws and spiked tails and serrated teeth on whatever they could.

Take the beetles, take the slugs

She reached into the mass of water and writhing beings pulling one neon yellow nearly fluorescent slug from the mass, held it above her, and watched it wriggle in the air trying to bite...

Then she woke up.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2020/01/jack-and-jamaican-jerk-use-your-words.html

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Southern Belle Charm https://www.southernbellecharm.com

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/01/use-your-words-dont-push-my-buttons.html

Medicated Musings http://mymedicatedmusings.blogspot.com

Follow Me Home https://followmehome.shellybean.com

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 10, 2020

It's My Party

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 7 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

There’s so much difference between how we celebrate birthdays as children and as adults. What would be your ideal birthday celebration at this point in your life?

It was submitted by: https://Bakinginatornado.com

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I grew up pretty poor. My parents did a lot of struggling to make it on my dad's welding business and drug habits. Stress. Second mortgages. Stubbornness. I don't think we would have made it without my grandparents helping where they could when asked, and they were barely solid middle class themselves. And that's just the stuff I knew about from overhearing fights and actually retained. I can't imagine how bad it might have actually been since I wasn't privy to it all of course.

Because of that, because of my dad's temper and abuse and his habits, birthday parties weren't big deals and stopped when we were still pretty young. We didn't even have many friends my parents felt comfortable inviting over except kids of their own, similarly backgrounded friends, and those fell out of life pretty often. My dad didn't get the nickname "Stormy" because he had an affinity for taming gray horses like in some afterschool special about a girl being sent to find herself on her uncle's ranch. He was volatile. Mean. You never knew which side of him you might get. Friends just didn't last. So neither did our friendships, the few we had.

I tried to do things differently for my own kid. We made birthdays into fairly big affairs with a themed party at a park and tons of friends and family. We've done Batman, SpongeBob, trucks, zombies, pirates, Harry Potter, adventure time, stranger things, Mario and more. I've done facepainting, scavenger hunts, pinatas, shaved ice machines, and even set up a piece of a Mario level for activities and made a lot of the treat bags, favors, and decor myself. I wanted him to feel special on those days, to be the center of our little world and to know he mattered to a lot of people even if it was my friends who grew to love him through their relationship with me. It wasn't the birthday really or the celebration of another year, it was meant to be a celebration of everything he is. (And it suuuuuuuucks that he didn't want that this past year because we had a rough one).

I'm not big on being social. I'm mostly housebound because of chronic illness, so being social isn't something I can really do. But even before I got sick, it wasn't really my bag. So I haven't ever wanted to make birthdays a big deal as I've gotten older. I don't care about the aging reminder. I never thought I'd make it this far in life so every year I get I embrace it. Fully. But my love language is also acts of service, so I would be lying if I went about writing this whole thing and not admit that at least once I'd like for someone to celebrate all things me on my birthday. The kind of work and planning that goes into making a party where many are invited but is still super personal isn't easy. To make it about the person and not have it feel like any other day is a feat. I've don't it for my kid his whole life so far and for partners as well. So I know what a job it is, how hectic it can get, and the kind of thoughtfulness and craftiness involved. It would mean the absolute world to me to have someone do the same just once.

I think acts of service as a love language is probably one of the most understood because it's more than "I did these dishes of which I dirtied half so you didn't have to" and it's never really that. It's about showing you know someone well with action. Not with gifts or words or affection but actual action which doesn't end at "I did chores I should be doing anyway." Fuck, it doesn't even begin there really unless the person is doing a chore they know I hate and not just something they should be helping with anyway and wanting a war medal for it. It's "I made you a playlist" or "I saw this and thought of you and snapped this pic" or "I cooked for you" or "I researched and read about your illness." It could definitely be "i want to celebrate all things you on your birthday if you're up for it. Leave the planning to me."

I honestly wouldn't have words, and I would definitely cry.

So for the most part, I'm ok with mundane birthdays that I relish more than I let on. In private. Because I can't really do the whole social experience like most, and I'm not the kind of person to expect a yearly party or huge shindig. Birthdays that are small gifts and heartfelt Facebook messages that make me cry are absolute perfection as it is. I love them. I love the thoughtfulness that I already get on my birthday, and I love spending birthdays cuddled up with a book and a furkid or kids.

For the most part.

But just once, there's a part of me that would really love having the kind of parties I've planned for others, to be on the receiving end of that kind of honor and act of service, and to be recognized for who I am and the part I play in people's lives that way.

I'm not counting on it, of course. It's never a good idea to wish people will do the things for you that you do for them because everyone's ideas of expressing love is as different as the way they want to be shown love. Not gonna stop me from thinking wistfully about it though.

p.s. if anyone ever sees this and does it, do NOT invite family. thank you. haha

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here are the rest of this week's participants!

Baking In A Tornado https://www(dot)bakinginatornado.com/2020/01/nailed-fail-secret-subject-swap.html

Spatulas on Parade  https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/.../no-regrets-sss...

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Southern Belle Charm https://www.southernbellecharm.com

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/01/secret-subject-swap-goals.html

Sarah Nolan  https://mymedicatedmusings.blogspot.com


Friday, December 13, 2019

Where Have All The Forks Gone?

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: climbing, spirits, midnight, brand, diamonds, behind

they were submitted by: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

I saw a prompt about hearing a voice reply to you in the middle of the night or whatever and read a cute little story about a person discovering it was their Monster Under the Bed. So I wanted to do my own spin on that for a while, and, well, currently I'm down to 3 forks from like at least 10 so...?

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It was late. I’d actually already been in bed for a few hours, but I woke up with a dry mouth from the cold medicine I’d taken and nothing on the bedside table to relieve it, so I dragged myself from bed, took a little wee, then headed to the kitchen for something cold and fizzy. Diet ginger ale was my weakness.

I’d lived in my house for a lot of years already, so I didn’t turn on any lights moving from the bathroom connected to my bedroom to the kitchen. I heard some scurrying claws on the kitchen tile, but I figured it was one of the cats. One or more of the cats. It seemed like they took great pleasure in pretending I was some kind of monster ready to pluck their spirits from their bodies any time I moved around after midnight. During the day, I couldn’t keep them off me or at least from weaving between my feet as I walked to convince me it was absolutely imperative right.this.moment to refill their food bowl that was still, by all accounts, ¾ of the way full.

Oh the horror.

The tragedy.

It was absolute torture.

I guess their weirdness at night was something to be thankful for. Pitching forward onto a floor partially alive with furry and clawed bodies in the dark did not sound like a good time. I might not make it out alive.

So there I was gulping down a drink that felt like TV static in my mouth but made me happy nonetheless when I heard a sneeze. I treat the cats like people more than not, so I didn’t even really think about it when I said, “Bless you.”

“Thank you,” a small, tinny voice said back.

I froze with my can of ale midway to my mouth, held my breath, and listened closer. It was as silent as a house can get with so many cats living in it. There was definitely a late night litter visit happening in the connected laundry room. Ick.

“Who said that?” I ventured. I wasn’t ready to turn the lights on yet just in case.

“No one.” The voice trembled a bit.

“Uh, obviously someone if I can hear you.”

“oh. You’re right then.”

“Are you a cat?”

“What?? No, no way. That’s gross.”

“I mean, yeah, cats are pretty gross aren’t they?”

“Every time I take a fork they drop on the floor, it always smells like their buttholes, and I have to scrub it so many times to get it clean.”

I sat with this thought. And sat a moment longer.

“what do you mean ‘every time I take a fork they drop…?’”

There wasn’t an answer this time. I wasn’t ready to let this go yet. I’d probably gone through 6 or 7 sets of flatware since moving in this place, and it wasn’t because I was just ready for a change. They were forever going missing. It was a million times worse than the stories about missing socks. I kept up with my socks ok. It was the fucking forks and spoons that ran away in droves in this place, as rare as blue diamonds especially when you really needed one to fight the hanger taking over your body and depleting all your patience.

So.

Out of curiosity I turned the light on, my heart rate climbing, and dropped one of the few mismatched forks I had left onto the floor.

Nothing happened.

I looked behind the stove, under the table, in the cabinets…nothing. I saw nothing. Heard nothing. I wondered if I was dreaming or hallucinating or just fucking losing it when a whisper floated my way on the heat from under the fridge.

“Can you…will you turn the light back off please?”

“uh…why?”

“Can’t see me. Not allowed except in exceptions described in Section 2B of the Code of Conduct for Flatware Trolls.”

“Not allowed by who? What exceptions? Oh my god, did someone slip LSD in my ginger ale????”

“Not allowed by the Ruling Board of Fork and Spoon Collectors of Trolldom. But I am not allowed to tell you the exceptions.. Must be what you call ‘organic.’ What is LSD?”

“Why haven’t we ever talked before then? LSD is a hallucinogenic drug.”

“Only permitted in instances where you speak to me first. No need for drugs. Just forks. And spoons. More forks than spoons though. And an occasional butter knife.”

“oh. The ‘bless you?’ Well I suppose that makes sense. If any of this makes sense, it’s that part. I’m going mad. I must be.” But I turned the light out anyway.

I heard the same scurrying as when I stepped out of my room earlier, a metallic clink, and a satisfied sigh.

“Well, goodnight, I guess.”

“thank you, miss, goodnight.”

And that’s how it went. I bought forks and spoons every time I went shopping. Thrifted ones, souvenirs, plastic (though my little troll wasn’t as fond of those), entire sets in nicer brands when I could afford them so they could have a collection. It was kinda like having a pet I never saw, didn’t have to clean up after, but could talk to. Who responded. That was the best part. And I mean, it’s not like Forker (that’s what I named them but they didn’t get the joke) had any worldly advice to help me with my problems or anything, but they listened. They told me I made them happy, and they never barfed on the couch. We listened to music together. They learned all the words to every Sturgill Simpson song and really got the twang down so much it affected how they talked the rest of the time. They weren’t interested in movies or sports or any of the shows I watched, but I could put on a vinyl and have a sing a long anytime I felt like it.

The years went by like that, and everything was great really…until they got sick. I heard little coughs in their singing and wheezing late at night when I went for a cold drink. It started getting really bad, but when I asked what I could do, I didn’t get an answer. All Forker would say is that sometimes they get sick and die, and that’s just part of things. So I got an answer, I guess. Just not a satisfactory one. I left cold medicine out. I put out some antibiotics I had left over from a toothache that I had been allergic to…. But they wouldn’t take anything that wasn’t flatware not that I even knew if it was safe for them to take really. I just wanted to do something to help. Probably a rule violation in some code somewhere. A few days later, I wasn’t even hearing the wheezing or the coughing, and I had the worst feeling. I sat in the kitchen floor holding a fork and sobbing.

“I wish I could help you. Let me come help you.”

Light flowed from behind the fridge like it was suddenly on fire. It lit the entire room and then some. I watched for a moment wiping away my tears and sniffling then stood up and moved the fridge. There was a little doorway back there big enough for me to crawl through that had never been there in all the times I’d cleaned behind the thing—admittedly not nearly often enough.

The door itself was old and painted olive green. The knob was constructed somehow from bent spoons and turned easily in my hand. I crawled through a small, cobweb covered tunnel. It had a dirt floor and a warm blast of air from the back of the fridge. It only took a moment to get through to the room Forker was in. It was insane. All of it was insane. My whole life had lost any sense. If I ever tried to tell anyone about it, I’d have been locked away…but I LOVED it. I loved every minute of it. And being in that room that was far too big to exist inside my wall, bigger than my entire kitchen, seeing Forker for the first time tucked in their bed made of spoons and blanket knitted from floss (it looked like) with the souvenirs I’d bought them displayed on the walls, every detail made of forks and spoons and butter knives and still piles and piles more everywhere I looked, I felt so alive. Forker was a real life middle earth type fantasy in my every day life, and they gave me something to wake up for, something to look forward to.

I stepped over beside their bed. They were tucked up to the chin in the blanket, but I could see the mauve colored wrinkles of their skin with soft green freckles. They had a little mousy nose and whiskers and watched me with big golden eyes. It looked like maybe some fur existed somewhere judging by the tufts on the sides of their face, but I couldn’t be sure with the blanket in the way.

“Forker? Is it okay that I am here?”

“You wished it to be,” they said before a coughing fit hit them hard and brought tears to their eyes.

Despite their lack of interest in any of the medicine I’d been leaving out and begging them to take, I managed to get some antibiotics in the tea on their bedside table—made of, as you might guess, flatware. A bit bumpy for my tastes really. I didn’t know if it would help, but I had to try something. I couldn’t lose my best friend. That’s what I’d come to realize when they got sick—that I loved this stealer and hoarder of spoons and forks, and I’d kind of come to depend on them to be there day after day. I wasn’t ready to let go.

So every night after work, I’d whisper my wish and visit with some medicine and the best forks I could buy and little by little they got better. Apparently the section 2B permitted me to see Forker if I actually cared enough about them to wish to help them. That’s it. That’s the only circumstance. And it had to be organic meaning it couldn’t be just to marvel at their existence or gawk or get pictures. I had to want the best for them, and then I could be a bigger part of their life. We hung out even more after that. I visited theirs and brought my laptop and FINALLY got them into Steven Universe. We’ve watched them all a couple dozen times now and can’t wait for the last season. They taught me about Troll politics and all the different types. Sock trolls, pen trolls, key trolls…Frustrating little creatures when you think about it.

Funny how a little frustration and a love for ginger ale gave me the best friendship I’ve ever had, and there’s no way I’d ever trade it for having a fully matching set of flatware ever again.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/12/the-spirit-lives-on-use-your-words.html

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2019/12/road-trip-with-miss-sassy-pants-uyw-dec.html

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2019/12/stunt-ed.html

Follow Me Home https://followmehome.shellybean.com

Sarah Nolan https://www.writersarahnolan.blogspot.com/

Southern Belle Charm https://www.southernbellecharm.com

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/12/use-your-words-rude-olph.html

Friday, December 6, 2019

Cooking with Chronic Illness

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 8 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

As you get older do you find you decorate less, bake less and shop more?

It was submitted by: https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

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I don't know if any of this is true for me. Haha.

Am I older? Am I getting older? I don't know. I feel like even with chronic illness I've never been as good as now in my 30s. Mentally. And physically maybe I'm just a tad, a decade or few, older than I should be perhaps.

I guess the point is that, for me, age isn't really a factor in my answer. It's more about my physical limitations and really my budget whether we are talking about every day or the holidays.

I cook often. My house isn't really a sweets house. We don't have dessert often or anything, but I do cook regularly. I can't physically cook a small meal every day so I typically do recipes that can be doubled easily and cheaply and can last several days then freeze what leftovers there are to make a base for something else. If I make taco soup, for example, I always freeze the leftovers to add to rice for burritos or reuse for nachos. This means I can still make exceptionally tasty meals with love that are healthy and all that jazz without it killing me. It's pretty hard to move around the kitchen with a cane. So limiting the days I have to do this really saves me while helping me provide home cooked meals. That's important to me. It may not be a big deal to everyone, and I'm in no way condemning people who can't or don't care about it, but for whatever reason I do. I think it has to do with changes after my parents divorced. My mom went from cooking for us--something we maybe took for granted as kids but felt the love from it all the same--to eating out with my stepdad every night in a relatively short amount of time, and I wasn't invited to go because of how I dressed. So I had to make my own dinners. Cheese sandwiches, egg noodles with butter, or vegetarian tacos if I could get my hands on what I needed. And while my kid can make a few things on his own like that if he doesn't feel like leftovers, I like having food here that I've made that I know he enjoys and that I know has more of the sustenance he needs.

The thing of it is...I can't even eat any of it myself. My chronic illness comes with a myriad of gastro intestinal issues which means the types of foods I can eat without issues is very limited. Sometimes depending on the meal I can make a variation of whatever I'm making that will fit my restrictions, but a lot of times I have to opt for a can of soup or a baked potato for myself. So most of the time he knows I'm making stuff for him that I won't even be able to eat, and I hope he looks back on that with some kind of appreciation even if he doesn't always have it now.

In terms of holiday cooking, my mom hosts so I've only ever made desserts and cheese pennies (basically cheese straws), but since my brother got married, his wife can't stand for anyone else to get any attention whatsoever, so those two just stopped eating anything I brought for dessert entirely and brought their own and got mad if someone didn't eat theirs over mine. Yes, if you're thinking that is absolutely petty, childish, and shitty, you would be right. I don't see much of them anymore or any of the family except holidays now, and it makes the holidays SO MUCH FUN. Family tension really makes the holiday season special.

Living on a budget also has an effect. I can't really afford a bunch of convenience meals that might actually be healthy. It's by far cheaper to make food when I can and excess shopping is out of the question especially since I'm basically homebound. I might get out once a month? Every couple months? And when I do I have to medicate myself to the gills to be able to handle it. Motion sickness meds, anti inflammatory meds, ginger, CBD oil, and pack migraine meds and ginger candy plus another dose of motion sickness meds to take before I leave wherever I'm going. It would be impossible and very hard on my body to do that every couple days or even once a week. So I don't shop more. Maybe I do buy more now that I have more than myself to cook for and can afford better than the poptarts, popcorn, and ramen I lived on when I was first living on my own.

I also can't really afford to shop more than I already did for Christmas. I've had a pretty solid budget for years and luckily my family isn't growing anytime soon. If ever. My child is only 14 and more into boys than girls with zero interest in being a dad so far, so no worries about being a grandma any time soon. And we've hopefully gotten past the point of my brother having a 5th child.

As for decorating...well, it's Halloween all year at my house. I've occasionally put up a tree, but with cats, it's always a disaster and I don't have the energy to clean up the mess every morning, so we haven't done that in a few years. Trust me when I say no one is sad about it either. Haha.

I suppose the one holiday tradition that will never change is how many Christmas movies and specials I love to watch even if I'm not really a person who celebrates. Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, the Grinch, Frosty, Garfield, Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...I love them all even at my age, and I hope I never grow out of it
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Friday, November 15, 2019

Bethany Gets a New Job

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: call center ~ furniture ~ Black Friday ~ turkey ~ rolls

It was submitted by: https://www.writersarahnolan.blogspot.com/
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Working in a call center on Black Friday wasn’t as bad as it sounded. She got paid by the hour, so she didn’t depend on commissions to make money. It was really just a day of listening to the phone ring and looking forward to the leftover turkey and rolls she packed for lunch. Actually talking to people? That was the worst. Snowy days when people stayed in as much as possible were the hardest. So Black Friday? It was sort of like getting paid for a vacation.

She settled into her cubicle, wrapped up in her shawl because the place was always an icebox, and sipped her first peppermint mocha coffee of the season while her terminal booted up. It was going to be a good day she kept telling herself. She never went Black Friday shopping being the kind of person who avoided crowds, so she wasn’t actually missing out on anything even though most of her friends were already posting about the deals they’d snagged.

Nope, not for me, she reminded herself as her coworkers began to drag in. Black Fridays were a bit of a skeleton shift. Most got the day off, and it was supposedly a lottery of who was chosen to do it, but she’d gotten picked the last 3 years, so…she was pretty sure the powers that be were using it as some kind of passive aggressive punishment. Well, fuck them. She was not so easily perturbed.

She sipped more of her coffee while she waited on the clock to hit exactly 9 a.m. so she wouldn’t get in trouble for being “too motivated” yet again this quarter and stared at the decorations around her desk that always made her smile. She had a Hey! Arnold figure, photos of her cats, a plush toy of Garnet from Steven Universe, and some odds and ends Happy Meal toys she picked up when she forgot to pack her lunch. She was here enough…she might as well make it more like home. Everyone else had photos of kids and spouses and vacations and always gave her weird looks at her little toy collection, but fact is, no one had to grow up entirely, and she probably never would, so they’d have to get over it or be salty. Not her problem.

She was lost in that train of thought when her phone rang.

Odd.

The phone didn’t really ring here all that much. This wasn’t like some IT help desk place or anything. She sold shit no one really wanted or needed or at least didn’t think they needed until they heard from her how awesome this set of silicone baking dishes were and made an impulse buy to get maybe one or two molecules of dopamine that might boost their mood for awhile. She didn’t leave voicemails or answering machine messages. They weren’t supposed to…just call and hope for the best. So the chances of someone actually calling her without being prompted were slim to none on a typical day.

“Thank you for calling Advanced Commercial Solutions! This is Bethany speaking. How may I help you today?”

She heard fast, shallow breathing on the other end for a moment, then a feminine voice said, “linda? Is that you? Something’s been moving the furniture again. Everything’s out of place. I don’t know what to do! I’m not crazy…please. Can you please come over?”

She was about to tell the person on the other end of the line that she had the wrong number when there was a piercing scream on the other end and a click. The caller was gone.

It has to be a prank, she thought. It sounded real. The caller sounded terrified. But moved furniture? That was fucking absurd. No, it had to be a joke….right?

She went about her morning making calls, listening to the ring, and satisfactorily ending the call when no one gave two shits to answer the phone. Call after call after call ending the exact same way. Not a single answer for her entire first hour which was certainly something to celebrate. It surely beat the screaming and yelling when she interrupted someone watching Good Morning America who didn’t want to be bothered but answered for unknown reasons anyway.

But then the phone rang again. And when she answered, it was a word for word replay of the call she’d taken before.

“linda? Is that you? Something’s been moving the furniture again. Everything’s out of place. I don’t know what to do! I’m not crazy…please. Can you please come over?”

And just like before, it ended with a scream and a click.

She still wasn’t really unnerved. In fact, the repeat performance made her even more sure it was a prank. It had to be a recording otherwise no one could have gotten it so eerily perfect down to the breathing and the sound of the scream. Not a chance. She chuckled to herself about how good this story would be when she told it to her friends over the weekend. They might be enjoying the sales, but she’d have the best story of the bunch by far.

She got up for a quick break to grab another cup of coffee and use the restroom. Prank or not, her heart was beating like mad, and she needed a moment to collect herself before making another round of calls.

By the time she got back to her desk after drinking her coffee and chatting up Jamir in the breakroom, almost half an hour had passed. As soon as she put on her headset and opened up her script, the phone rang again.

And again it was the same exact thing as before: “linda? Is that you? Something’s been moving the furniture again. Everything’s out of place. I don’t know what to do! I’m not crazy…please. Can you please come over?”

That scream seemed so real. She wondered where the recording had come from. It was haunting, joke or not. For a moment she thought about reporting it to the supervisor Kyle, but he’d been here a long time, didn’t care at all about the employees unless they weren’t making sales, and actually yelled at her the last time she had an issue with a problem customer. The guy had been obviously jerking off on the phone, so she hung up on him only it was one of her recorded QA calls, and she got chewed out by Kyle for it. He’d told her he didn’t care if the customer was shitting onto their receiver—she had to finish the call and try and get a sale. So much for no sexual harassment in the workplace, eh?

She really had to start looking for another job.

She hoped whoever it was had gotten a life somehow, and the whole thing would be over. She wasn’t laughing anymore. You can’t hear a scream like that and not be affected by it.

3 calls down with another several dozen to go, she got another call. Only about 15 minutes had passed this time. It was the same exact drill. The same words and the scream. 10 minutes later she got another one. And then another 5 minutes after that. And another a couple minutes later and a minute after that, and then they started coming in as soon as she hung up the phone. One after another after another.

She finally broke down crying and went for Kyle.

Maybe the tears worked on him when her usually stoic fa├žade did not, but he seemed sympathetic as she explained. You could hear the shrill ring of her direct line all the way to his office, so he knew at the very least she was getting the calls, but he assumed, like she had, they were pranks especially after he played back the recordings for her call log and heard, like she had, the exact same words down to the breathing and the tone of the scream. It was eerie.

He went and picked up the line at her desk as it started to ring again and before anything was said, he shouted into the headset, “listen here you little shits. This isn’t funny. It was never funny. You’ve wasted an entire day of your life being absolute wastes of oxygen, and I swear to all that is holy in this world I will find you, and I will make sure you see consequences.” He hung up himself sure that would be the end of things, but when he started to put the headset down, the line rang again. He disconnected the call. It started again. Over and over he would put a stop to the call, and it would ring again until finally he answered.

It wasn’t the recording.

It was a scream so loud and so terrifying that he snatched the headset and threw it but not before it was completely and utterly damaged unable to handle whatever was being put out on the other end.

He looked shaken for a moment, but that turned to rage in a hurry. He would not be made a fool of. She could hear him saying it. He stalked back to his office mumbling about the cops. Of course he would call the cops on some kids playing a prank.

At least she hoped this was still some kind of prank.

A couple cops did show up. She’d gotten a replacement headset and was having to make calls from a different cubicle because her line never quit ringing. They listened to the calls themselves and seemed to think it wasn’t a big deal, but in order to get them stopped, they’d try to figure out where they were coming from and go have a talk with the kids involved. They were positive it was just some kids on Thanksgiving break who were bored and didn’t have any supervision. They took a digital copy of the recordings, the phone number that popped up on the caller i.d. for the computer and said they’d get back to us—Kyle really—later in the day.

It was barely lunch time. The thought of eating her leftovers now turned her stomach in knots.

Kyle powered down the computer at her desk, but the moment he did, another line began to ring. He tried again turning the next one off only to have another one start. He’d gone through every computer in the office before it was all said and done because for whatever reason he couldn’t “let them win.” He should have just let one ring the rest of the day instead with the sound turned down to begin with, but eventually he saw the light on that and turned them all back on figuring they’d pick one and stick with it until the police tracked them down.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

They all rang. Every single line in the office. Every cubicle. No one could get any work done, and Kyle called the number on the card the two cops left to tell them things had escalated. We all gathered in the break room everyone with a theory on what was going on, of course, but no one could have possibly banked on the truth.

Well, we still don’t really know the truth. All we know is the little bit of info the cops gave Kyle on that phone call. He came back to the breakroom, pale with widened eyes. He looked like he was in shock, so we all held our collective breath waiting to see what he might have to say. He stammered, paused, took a deep breath, and started again, “so, uh, the cops traced that number back to a line that hasn’t been used in a few years. Uh. Ok. Well. The last time it was active, it was the account of a woman—someone named Marge--who disappeared around this time of the year not far from here actually. It’s still an open case, so it wasn’t hard for them to get ahold of the info or whatever, and what we’re hearing is basically what her sister Linda reported as their last contact. It was the last time anyone heard from her, but there was never any recording made of the call that Linda knew of. They have no explanation, but someone’s coming by to try to listen in and see if they can get any evidence, I guess.”

Marge is still missing. And Bethany found a new job.

_________________________________


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/11/its-time-use-your-words.html

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2019/11/split-pea-and-ham-soup-uyw-november-post.html

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2019/11/normal.html

Follow Me Home https://followmehome.shellybean.com

Sarah Nolan https://www.writersarahnolan.blogspot.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/11/use-your-words-free-range-vs-no.html

Friday, November 8, 2019

To Say Or Not To Say

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 7 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject is: Tell us about a recent time you said something then wished you could take those words back. Were you able to make it right?

It was submitted by: https://Bakinginatornado.com

This is a long rant, and it's something I have discussed on Facebook at certain points, so it may be repeat info, but it's something I needed to get down like this.

__________

Back in May I had a call from a Florida number I didn't recognize, so of course I let it go to voicemail. My entire generation thrives on screening calls and texting, so why would I ever answer the phone for a random? Imagine my surprise when I checked the message left to hear it was family and children services wanting to ask me questions about how my ex husband's wife parents in her home. Just let that sink in. Not how my ex parents. How his wife parents. And why were they calling exactly? What kind of question is that?

I didn't even know why I would be a person for children's services to call. I've never set one foot inside their home and never intended to. The most I'd seen of her parenting was at birthday parties and the few occasions they all came in when it was time to pick up my kid for his every other weekend visits. That's certainly not enough to formulate any kind of real opinion on the matter. I knew how she treated my child, but that's a good bit differently than she treats her own on a daily basis unfortunately, so any opinion I did have wouldn't have been a good one. Why would these people have given children's services MY number as a reference? The whole thing was ludicrous.

So I did what any reasonable person would do I'm that situation or what I would assume is reasonable. I asked my child's father.

I shouldn't have.

I got my answer. That part was fine. Apparently his wife's daughter, my son's stepsister, told her teacher her mom punched her in the stomach. It wasn't the first time she had said such a thing. The last couple times it turned out to be a lie, though, and she had to get state mandated therapy. Her parents opted not to continue it, but apparently she should have because here we were again. Last time she lied she tried to involve my son, and until her therapy was over I didn't let him go to their house. I had hoped this was all over even though I worried every time he was down there that she would end up telling the kind of lie that could ruin his life. It was her thing when she got angry.

So I get the story from my ex, and I also let him know that recently she logged into my son's PlayStation account and told all his friends he is a lazy, gay douchebag. He saw the messages when he logged on, and I wanted to make sure it was addressed. That kind of thing should never happen. None of this should have happened.

That was my second mistake.

The stepmom told my son he was the liar and started aggressively questioning him, and even when his dad proved her wrong, she refused to apologize and dug her heels in. Her kid lied supposedly to children's services about abuse because she was mad at her mom, but it's my son who is the problem? He wasn't happy with the whole situation and how his stepmom talked to him and told his dad he wouldn't be coming down to his house for visits until something changed. His dad said he understood.

He did not.

For 3 months, his dad saw him 3 times for about an hour each time. That's not the limit anyone put on him. That's all the time he would give. It's not surprising. He's barely been an every other weekend father for a few years, and for most of the time we have been separated/divorced, he was barely around at all much less giving financial support until he absolutely had to. Every single time he saw his son during this 3 month period, he fussed at him about making things right (I didn't know this until later). He put all the responsibility of repairing a long damaged relationship between all of them on a 13 year old and yelled at him in restaurants about it. Is it the child who didn't lie who should really be fixing things here?

But then I said another thing.

His dad text me a couple months ago letting me know the child support payment would be late and I would need to have some patience for once.

For once.

I had put up with all this going on for months without saying much, but I couldn't anymore. The child support didn't come at all for years and years, and now that he has to, now that it finally does, it is ALWAYS LATE. Not 2 days late or 4...2 to 3 weeks late every single month without fail, and I never say a word besides asking at the 3 week mark when he will be able to pay because I have to wait on that money to pay my mortgage on a house I didn't want, in a place I didn't want to live, that I got left with in the dissolution of our marriage. I'm never rude. Never demand it. I simply ask what day so I can fill out a promise to pay for the mortgage company, and that doesn't happen every month--only if it was 3 weeks late already with no word from him.

So for 3 months a couple of adults who should be examples in his life who needed to apologize--his stepmom for calling him a liar and belittling him and his dad for not standing up for him and just saying he didn't want to get into it with her--failed him. They failed to apologize. Failed to work it out. Failed to be good parents. Again. They failed his siblings by yet again putting them ahead of him and making that kind of example. They failed in every way imaginable. And it wasn't just those three months. It had been years of it. Years of my kid being treated like a burden. Years of his dad not showing up, not coming through with promises, and not being an actual father. Years of my child being called names like "princess" and his sexuality questioned BECAUSE OF HIS HAIR and then when he did come out even more months of name-calling and added gay jokes. "I thought I had my straight son back for a minute" is NEVER something your child should hear you say. This kid didn't even have a toothbrush of his own at his dad's. No clothes, no shoes, no offer to help pay for clothes, no toys of his own, no space of his own, no privacy, and no respect. For literally nearly a decade during their entire relationship the wife ruled their time together which isn't to say his dad would have put him first on his own either. There has never been a single instance I can recall where he did something with his own kid after our divorce because that's what his kid wanted to do instead of dragging his kid along to things HE wanted to do and calling it quality time. Listen, no kid wants to go on your motorcycle that you repeatedly promised you wouldn't take him on in the fucking freezing ass cold early in the morning to do a poker run you promised your friends you would do without regard to when he would be there. No 3 year old wants to see gory horror movies with you because you don't want to have to watch a baby movie. It's always been awful.

And I get a text asking me to have patience for once.

For once.

So I said no. I said I have our kid full time now and have never had any help outside child support that was always late anyway and no I would not "be patient for once" because I am always patient and I am finally, FINALLY, not going to be anymore. And that he could pay it or we could go to court. I was done with him putting the kid and his needs last.

And then--of course I did--I got a sob story.

"I wish I could see him more."

"What do you mean? You could have seen him anytime you wanted his whole life. And for the last 3 months the only thing he wanted was an apology which he expressed to you multiple times--that he was going to stand his ground and wasn't coming until things changed and yall apologize."

This was my biggest mistake. Because me saying it so clearly and not saying the nice, placating things this man wanted to hear gave him the one opportunity he needed (wanted) to be able to twist this into me wanting to cause drama and not his son having legitimate concerns. All he could say to any of it was "can't we talk this out like adults" which is exactly what I was doing. His definition just doesn't include anything that might make him feel bad. It if isn't praise, it's drama. If it isn't awarding him Dad of the Year or World's Best Dad then it's not being an adult. If it is any kind of criticism at all whatsoever in any shape or form, it's me being "a crazy bitch." And I knew that. I knew that when I said it. I lived with that for 5 years of my life before I couldn't do it anymore. I knew what was coming, and I was just too fucking exhausted to stop myself.

So here we are another couple months later, and he has told his kid he's done with him more than once because all the things his kid said to them about being treated differently was how he felt and not something I made up.

When he pops in to say "haven't heard from you" even though he ended the last conversation with "I'm done with you," nothing has changed. When he pops in to say Happy Birthday, nothing has changed. It wasn't "drama" that can be swept under the rug. And he can't accept that's how his kid feels, and when that is expressed, he's gone again with another tantrum and "I'm done."

So no I can't fix it. There's never going to be a time when I know if it's right to let my 13--now 14--year old stand up for himself with his dad or get involved, but every time I do it makes things worse. Does he need me to back him up? He's in pain over it all. Doesn't he need one parent always in his corner? If I hadn't I don't think the end result would be different. I know his dad. But does he wonder if it would be different? Does he wonder if I made it worse or does he feel proud that I stood up for him?

He doesn't want to talk about his dad just yet.

I can't make his dad be a good parent, and I guess that's the thing. Whether I say anything or not, I still can't ever fix this. I made a bad choice in a partner that I thought would grow with me but never did, and I can't take it back. I wouldn't want to if it meant not having my son. But I wish there was something, anything, I can do to make it right even if it means keeping my mouth shut even when I feel like doing so will make me explode.

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Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/11/luck-and-winning-secret-subject-swap.html

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2019/11/scarecrow-door-decor-and-sss.html

Our Prime Years https://ourprimeyears.com/2019/11/08/secretsubjectswap-apocalypse/

Sarah Nolan https://www.writersarahnolan.blogspot.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/11/secret-subject-swap-who-are-your.html

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Real Cat Lady

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.


My words are triumph, trunk, terror, talk, and trust.


They were submitted by: https://Bakinginatornado.com

_______________________________

She stared out at the horde of cats in front of her.

“Toby, Mr Wigglesnout, Sampson, Beverly PurrAngelo, Paula Meowdul, Janet, Lord Buttons, Jesus H. Paws… “

It took her several minutes to finish addressing them all by name, but she knew every single one on sight, knew who was who like she knew her own self, knew all their quirks, their strengths. The pep talk continued.

“…my trust is in you today. We will triumph. We will get the supplies we need to keep going. We will not perish and will celebrate tonight with tins of old anchovies. In oil if you’re lucky. This is the day we succeed, the day we have been waiting for! “

She was absolutely sure of it. They’d been training for ages, she and the cats. Some of the group would get out of control, but Toby was a born leader. The rest listened to him, followed him. If she could keep him on task from the sidelines, everything would be fine. She hoped. They might all perish, her babies and herself, if they didn’t get enough supplies to hide away for awhile.

The world had been full of terror for a long time now. Time, the measurement of time, was pretty irrelevant. The days lost meaning, ran together…there were no watches, no clocks, no schedules. There was only light and dark. Dawn and dusk. Go time, hide time. America’s economy had collapsed under Trump’s second term. And with that so did everything else. No infrastructure, no power grids, no transportation, no Internet…

It didn’t happen in the blink of an eye or anything. It was a slow spiral. When economy tanked, we entered a depression worse than that of the 20th century. People struggled, fought, lost, and died. They preyed on everyone and everything just to survive. Sure, folks banded together near the beginning of the end to try and destroy the government entirely. Rebellions sprung up all over actually, different ideological factions thinking their way was the only way to get us back on course. So instead of having one large group of rebels, we had rebels warring with each other AND the government. I guess that’s where they failed hardest. The military attempted bombing the different groups to prevent coups and civil wars between the different locations each group took over, but the slow spiral had convinced enough people to buy bunkers and arm themselves and to form and train militias. They’d go underground, hide out, strike again when they could. The largest group, The John Brown Union( NOT confederate flag waving assholes. Go figure) tried to set up some new government and named themselves the new leaders, but folks were starving to death. No access to clean water, no hope, no promise of tomorrow. The people kind of gave up, I guess. No one gave a shit what this group tried to do. Out here it was still a very Dog Eat Dog World while those guys were caught up fighting the other factions to retain “leadership.” How could anyone out here starving really care what their promises were? They couldn’t even promise to hold the White House. Probably would have been better than no government at all, but…eh. No one will ever know. Lawlessness is here to stay for now.

She had lived alone with her 3 cats when things started going downhill. She worked at an office supply store that serviced a lot of the Southeastern U.S. Paper, staplers, chairs, copiers…perhaps a dying business, but she had been if not happy at least okay with her life. She didn’t get out much, spent a lot of time Netflixing with the cats, but it definitely could have been worse. The job was the first thing to go. She looked for months for something else, lost her apartment along with nearly everyone else in her building. She had lived in her car for awhile, but living in a car with 3 cats is gross. When things took a darker turn, she took the camper that her parents had stored away in their old barn and made a run for it. It was small, but she could get out of the city and away from most of the chaos. She bought supplies with the last bit of money she had, set up a plot on some hidden away land. She had her cats, a tent, seeds to start a garden, and some food stores that would last awhile.

The garden was still going strong actually, and it kept her pretty well fed, but the food stores had run out long ago. Things had devolved so much that it was never safe to go out at night when people had the cover of darkness to surprise her, and it wasn’t even okay to go out in the day without a weapon. She’d learned that the hard way. But it was either chance it or starve to death in the rv and let the cats eat her body to survive, and as much as she loved them…nah. Not the way she wanted to go. She hadn’t been ready to give up yet.

On most of her runs, she’d see former pets doing their own hunt for survival in the little towns around her patch of land. Or being hunted. People really weren’t choosy anymore. She took in as many cats as would follow her collecting tins and bags of food on her runs. She’d also learned the hard way that starving dogs and a big ass group of cats didn’t mix well without someone getting hurt or worse. She felt like shit every time she left a dog behind with a bit of food she’d found, but it was what she had to do. At least for now.

The group had grown and grown so much it was almost unmanageable at first. All she had was time, though. No job. No Netflix. A few chores. She certainly didn’t have to sweep and vacuum anymore. Or scrub a toilet. So she worked hard trying to train them. She’d use food and treats like sardines and canned oysters that she didn’t want to have to eat. Little by little it began to take hold. Nearly every single one would follow a command. Then she figured out about Toby. Toby had been with her since early on, and she knew all the cats took to him. If he wanted a piece of food, he got it. If he wanted to lay with her, it didn’t matter who was on his lap, they would move. So she worked harder with him than anyone. She noticed that if he did a command every other cat around him would follow.

Now here they were. Ready, she hoped. It had taken a few months if she had to guess. She’d stopped marking days a long time ago. All the while, every small run, she’d noticed a worse and worse crowd in the closest towns. Most slept all day in whatever buildings they were holding or at least seemed to. She’d done a little snooping and could see them in sleeping bags sprawled across the floors through the grimy windows. Others had moved in their RVs and tents. Different groups, though, and the tension was building. She was sure some fighting would break out soon, and any and all hope she had of scavenging in the area would be gone. She’d started to fill a trunk with seeds from her own garden and from the few home stores she’d spotted. She wanted to cram it on this run with more supplies, so they could pack up the rv and move.

These groups in the area would be the end of all of them one way or another, and she’d already waited on this long enough to make sure the cats were ready.

She’d collected a trailer that would fit to her camper awhile back. It was sitting in front of an abandoned home depot not long after she’d made her way out here, and she just had a feeling it would come in handy. Of course at the time, she never thought “handy” would mean stuffing it full of trained cats, but life is strange that way. Or maybe that expression no longer applies. Life is strange in every way these days. She had gas stored for her heaters and stove already. If they could just get food without getting caught, she’d fill better about the whole adventure.

So they set off.

It was fine at first. The cats were darting in stores in their little groups collecting bags of whatever they could find, signaling if it was clear for her to go in with a repeated stamp of their little paws. She’d dash in and grab anything larger while they dropped their goods into the cart she’d wheeled in with her. Things were good. She was sure it was going to be the easiest run of her life.

Of course she should have realized that was actual real life foreshadowing and that nothing in her life went the way it was supposed to…if she had, she wouldn’t have been so surprised when the doorway to the last stop she had planned on making filled with the largest man she’d ever seen.

She didn’t carry guns. She’d never learned how to use them, and by the time she figured out that maybe she might need one out here, most everything had already been scavenged. She found a couple of BB guns that came in handy scaring away scavengers in the garden, but she couldn’t kill a bug half the time much less actually shoot anything. She carried a large hunting type knife that her parents had actually kept in the camper, but…it was in her cart. She was utterly ridiculous.

She stood while he taunted her.

“what ya got there, little lady?”

“you’re a little small to be out here on yer own, honey”

“you look good enough to eat.”

“what makes you think I’m going to let you leave with anything my people could use?”

“What are you going to do about it?”

He was reaching for his belt for reasons to nefarious for her to consider thoroughly at the moment when he screeched and went down on his knees in the doorway. She moved closer to see what was happening. He was blocking the only way she knew in and out of the place. The back had always been blocked by a huge dumpster. That’s when she saw Toby with his claws dug deeply into the man’s back. He growled and howled ferociously for a cat that size, and as she watched more and more of the group showed up all claws and teeth. She couldn’t even tell what the guy looked like anymore when he fell backwards half in and half out of the doorway. He was moaning loudly, still alive, but all that blood…barely. He was barely alive, and maybe not for long.

She jumped over him knowing he wasn’t worth saving and feeling guilty for not helping anyways. She almost made it to the cart when more people started moving in her direction woken up by the commotion of the attack. They looked from the bloodied man on the sidewalk to her and back again.

“what the fuck did you do to him, you bitch?” screamed one of the saltiest women she had ever seen in her life. Her time after the apocalypse had not been easy. Her hair was stringy, greasy and missing in patches. Her face and armed were lined with thick scars like she’d been in a heinous knife attack, and part of one of her ears was missing…

“I…I didn’t do anything to him. It was my cats.”

Laughter surrounded her, but when the tall, lanky man in front of the group wearing the red MAGA hat made a move towards her, Toby jumped between them hissing and ready to strike. He yowled again loudly like he had when he’d attacked the other man, and as both of them watched, cats filled the space between them until you could barely see the street beneath them any longer. Every one of them arched their backs, tails up, hissing and spitting. The groups of them letting these people know they weren’t fucking around any more than Scarface. In fact, the guy on the sidewalk moaned louder still, and when Scarface tried to move to his side, she was held in place by 5 or 6 of the cats that broke away and pushed forward making sure she stayed where they wanted her.

MAGAman took this all in, backing into the group slightly, and frowned. They didn’t seem to have any guns on themselves either. She’d thought long ago that most of the ammo had probably been used up in all the fighting. All that was available to whatever motley groups that formed out here without any real militia training anyway.

“Lady, why don’t you just take what you got in the cart over there and yer cats, and we call it even. This is fucking crazy.”

Toby never eased even as she backed up to the cart and began called them all to her. He stayed until they’d reached the hill leading out of town, and then sauntered off to join them like the badass he was.

She knew they had to pack up and get out of there before those people came looking for their retribution…but she felt a little safer, a little prouder, and like a real fucking cat lady.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Follow Me Home https://followmehome.shellybean.com

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/