Once upon a time a child woke with light in her eyes and joy in her heart. She hugged the sky and thanked the sun, wind, and rain for being there. Her step was graceful. Earth massaged her feet and she reciprocated the kindness with a back rub before she returned home to share her happy circumstance only to find stony faces and stiff, unhappy bodies at the table. They ignored her joy and ordered her to work; their voices were stern. She had to write lots and lots of lists of tasks that made it impossible to go out anymore.
“And now for the final question of our game!” George the host smiled. “Do you want to risk all of your $35,000 winnings so far for a chance at a million? You do have your Expert Panel resource if necessary.”
Sue hesitated. “Oh, I have faith in the Panel today. I’ll go for it!”
“Excellent! For how many years has the United States been an independent country?”
Sue did the math in her head. “238.”
George paused for effect. “YOU’RE A MILLIONAIRE!” Sue squealed, dancing around the stage.
Experts Baird and Lawrie bowed their heads, feeling unneeded.
Funnily enough, some of Scotland’s fashionistas had yet to decide which way they would be voting in the forthcoming Scottish referendum.
“Take the iconic Union Jack dress,” said one. “Would we ever be able to use it again if we were not part of the UK?”
Earnest nods ensued. “Perhaps a whole range of Saltire-type clothing could fill the gap? And we could be ahead of the fashion pack with our whole-hearted embrace of the white-crossed blue?”
Earnest nods again. And then Kate** entreated them to stay with the UK. The fashion pack found themselves flummoxed. What to vote now?
*First published on LinkedIn on 21 February 2014.
“What do you want from me, Amy?” she demanded.
“Don’t be silly. You already know,” the brown-haired woman’s voice was syrupy and snide. “Work for me. It gives you a tie to the outside world and gives me a first-class photographer.”
The blonde narrowed her eyes, furrowing her brow as she spoke, “That’s not what you’re really after.”
“Come now, whatever else could I want?” Her eyes darted to Jessica’s intricate lion ring, tipping her hand.
As Jessica shouted, her teeth elongated and her nails turned to claws, “The pride!”
Unprepared, the hybrid died, grasping a tuft of blonde fur.
The woman climbed onto the ledge outside her window. She was wearing a nightgown and looked like an angel, or fairy. For a brief moment, the palms of her hands met in front of her heart before spreading into wings as she fell forward into space. The nightgown fluttered as her soft body fell quietly through the air and then bounced, the way limp dolls do when they fall, a small hiccup and then stillness. What a waste. And, how stupid of her to jump without knowing how to land; maybe she thought Tinker Bell would catch her. Fairytale, dummy.
“It’s the jet stream, you see,” earnest BBC weathermen and women explained to anxious news presenters welly-clad in water, “bringing with it wild winds, low pressure and precipitation.”
The reason was actually more simple than that. “Rain, rain go away…” a mother had taught her child the rhyme some months ago. Rain, charmed by the child’s lisping entreaty, obeyed and there followed a summer of brilliant sunshine and high temperatures.
Unfortunately, the child had picked up the rhyme wrongly. “Come again EVERY day!” she trilled. Rain could not but obey.
*First published on LinkedIn on 14 February 2014.
“Just focus on what’s upstairs, okay, up here where your brain is and forget the rest.”
“But what about my heart?”
“It takes care of itself.”
“But it pump blood everywhere inside me!”
“So I need it, don’t I?”
“You don’t get a job with your heart; you get one with your mind.”
“But I can’t live without my heart”
“Oh, yes you can, if you have a fine mind.”
“But I like the way I am.”
“You do want the world at your fingertips, don’t you?”
“Then focus. Up here. Your mind. Key to kingdom.”
“Please sir, can I have some more?”
The children drew a collective breath. It was what they all wanted after all.
The beadle sighed. Honestly, these wretched orphans were so ungrateful. Did they really think it was that easy to feed them on his poor house budget, scraped together every week?
He’d spent hours in the kitchen and had doled out chicken nuggets, French fries, a side order of pizza and three helpings of apple pie to each child. Was there no end to their appetites?
*First appeared on LinkedIn on Friday 7 January, 2014. With sincere apologies to Mr Charles Dickens.
The pitch comes in, and I swing with all my might. CRACK! I’ve connected with the most solid hit of my life. I watch the ball sail into the air, and to my astonishment, I follow right behind. I’m flying! The ball drops harmlessly into the center field stands, where a young boy grins ecstatically as he grabs it, but my journey continues into the air. What a view–the lit up stadium, the town, the region, the country, the entire planet! Looks like my home run has enabled me to sail into outer space. What a feeling.
Stillness held her in the vacuum that was her cage of unspeakable terror. He couldn’t be dead. That wasn’t in the story. Then again, the stolen car, the drugs, the lies and stalking, that wasn’t part of the story either. The little body in her arms was growing cold, getting stiff, she had to do something, there had to be an antidote so her baby didn’t become the toll for vanity, power, hate.
The vacuum answered. Breathe puffs into the ear. She did, and heard the spine crack.
“Oh, God, no”, she said, “no!”
Time stopped. Then, his eyes fluttered.