Twists and Braids

Promises

red

Mama stopped to twist a lock of rough hair to match the others, all reaching up like the tentacles of a sea anemone. Her older daughter, Gal, continued her halting walk forwards. She was in charge of Baby and had to make sure the little girl didn’t run out into the street or eat glass, but that was the extent of her caregiving ability or desire.

Gal matched her steps with Baby’s; Step, step, rest, step, step, rest. It wasn’t a quick way to travel, fortunately, the three didn’t have far to go from the bus stop.

They stopped in front of a heavy set of doors. Mama straightened out her tank top and ran her hands back over her hair. Baby toddled off of the sidewalk and plucked a bright, red bloom from a mass of red flowers in a big, decorative pot in front of the building.  She brought it over to Gal who had lapsed in her duties of watching her liege to pick at her dirty and chewed nails, still bearing the flecks of bright pink polish that refused to be flicked off.

“What?” Gal said without looking at Baby and swatted away the little fist that reached up to her with the fragile gift.

“Girls, it’s going to be different this time,” Mama said standing up tall.

Her older daughter raised her thick eyebrows in doubt and continued to pick at her nails.

“Don’t start, Gal.”

“What? I didn’t say nothing.”

“And don’t start. Keep your mouth shut and let me do the talking.  You watch after Baby and don’t let her cry.  People don’t like crying babies,” Mama spoke in a hushed voice with an urgent tone.

Gal knew the routine. Someday, it will be different; she thought and followed Mama through the doors, dragging Baby and the impossible load of psychological baggage behind her.

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

And not a drop to drink.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Coleridge

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Bad Attitude

kings
Slowly

“Earl, come back already,” I groaned.

I slowly pulled the heavy bag of trash half-way out of the silver trash can. A clear liquid leaked from the bottom corner and dripped onto the top of my sandaled foot, landing with a splash.

“It burns,” I screamed and then realized it wasn’t burning. It was just gross. I dropped the bag back into the can to recoup and asked myself, why am I doing this? Isn’t there someone else to whom I could delegate this task?

“No, Puney,” I answered myself in a stern voice. “There is no one else and shame on you for looking for someone.  You only have to do it this one time and Earl will be back on Monday.”

I countered in a whine, “But it is so disgusting. What about that homeless-looking guy who walks up and down the street? I bet he would take it out for a buck.”

“Puney…” I said in that low throaty you-are-about-to-disappoint-me-unless-you-make-a-better-decision tone.

“Fine,” I agreed with a huff.

I pulled the bag the rest of the way out and tied it off with a knot. Gnats hovered around the bag and flew past my face as I hefted the still-dripping bag and carried it outside with a scowl.

If anyone would have approached me, it would have gone something like this.

“Hey lady, you got any change?”

I growl and bare suspiciously fang-like eye teeth and sum up the petitioner.

An innocent enough man in a tank top with jean shorts, floppy tennis shoes and nappy hair unaware of the trap into which he just walked.

“How about a bag of trash? Would you like that?”

I throw the bag into his chest and stomach and he takes a step back.

Liquid starts leaking from the bag onto his jean shorts and down his skinny legs and into his floppy tennis shoes.

Fortunately, no one approached me and the trash was successfully delivered into the dumpster. I returned to the office where the gnats expressionlessly greeted me and continued to float and fly around my head.

I scanned through the rest of the to-do list.

“Not going to do that, or that, or that.” I checked off the items; done and refused to be done were basically the same thing and taken down one by one until the list was completed.

I added a last and final task, perhaps the most difficult: Improve Attitude.

“The world is so full of a number of things. I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

                                                                                                              –Robert Louis Stevenson

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