Posts Tagged ‘son’

Everyone Needs Some Laughter

Posted: October 7, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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paper finger puppetHerve Escobedo held up little finger puppets to his three-year-old son Philip. “Look here, Mr. Football, who’s this? Why, it’s little miss Goal Posts! How are you today?”

Philip laughed. Herve wondered why. It was a stupid, cheesy story, but it was all Herve could think of to keep him entertained. They sat in the middle of an abandoned soccer field, in the middle of what used to be Los Angeles. One of the Red Cross workers shone a flashlight on their play. “Can you keep it down, please? We have sick people who need rest.”

Herve touched the young woman’s arm with his fingertips. He leaned close. “Please. He hasn’t laughed in days,” Herve said.

The girl sighed. “Who has?” She looked like she hadn’t slept, either.


“I didn’t say stop. Just keep it down. Or…” She turned off the flashlight to conserve the batteries. “You can go over by the fire pits. Most people over there are still awake.”

“Thank you, young lady.”

“No problem.”

He made his squeaky puppet voice and waved them at her. “Thank you, thank you!” She laughed. Herve nodded. “See? Everyone needs some laughter.”

Herve picked up Philip and carried him over to the fire pits. The woman led the way, stepping around tents and huddled refugees using the flashlight. Herve wasn’t thankful that the Big One had struck, but he was thankful that God had chosen for it to happen in summer. The nights were cool but not unbearable.

Around the fire, a little girl sat in her mother’s arms as her mother read to her. Her mother used a magnifying glass instead of glasses. A bookish-looking elderly man was sharpening wicked-looking arrows using a stone. A man in a Red Cross uniform was teaching someone twice his age how to do first aid. They sat on an air mattress, and nudged over to invite them to sit.

The woman shook Herve’s hand and pat Philip on the head. “You two have a good night.”

“Won’t you join us?” Herve said.

“There’s a whole story,” Philip finally said. Herve covered his mouth. His heart sang. Philip would laugh, but he had barely spoken to anyone besides his father since the earthquake.

The woman noticed the look on Herve’s face. She crouched down and looked Philip in the eyes. “I’ll stay for a quick story. Then I need to go see if other people are okay, too. How’s that?”

Philip nodded. Herve’s eyes sparkled as he began the play.

Tonight’s post came from a roll of Rory’s story cubes: a mask (Herve’s trying to hold it all together), comedy and tragedy (the play), a flashlight, a tree (wood, the fire pits), a magnifying glass, an arrow, a sheep (I imagined a big, white, soft cushion, which led to the air mattress), and then two that I didn’t use: a bridge and a shooting star.

Photo credit: “Paper Finger Puppets” from Scribbled. Used without permission.


A Dollar for a Hug

Posted: June 26, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, Weird
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vending machine

Jim saved his files. “Two a.m.? When the hell did it get that late?” Nine hours after when he should have gone home, that was when. But the program review was at noon, and their biggest customer wouldn’t understand if the review wasn’t ready.

Jim rubbed his face. He couldn’t think. He needed to clear his head. He walked down the half-lit hall to the water fountain. They shut off most of the lights after seven. He splashed cold water on his face and rubbed it in his hair.

He needed one more pick-me-up to keep going. Jim sighed. It was becoming a bad habit, but it always worked. He checked his wallet for dollar bills. He had one, only one, and a wrinkled one at that.

Jim walked up to the hug vending machine. Inside, an elderly man wearing a flannel shirt sat reading a newspaper in an easy chair. He looked more comfortable than anyone had a right to be at two o’clock in the morning. The man smiled at Jim as he walked over, smoothing out a dollar bill.

“Hello, Jim. Back again?” the man asked.

“Coming here is worse than buying Doritos from that machine next to you. At least I kicked that habit,” Jim said.

“Doritos don’t provide any nourishment. At least this is good for the soul.”

“Says you. Hugs and money don’t mix.”

The man shrugged. “I can think of worse ways to spend your money.”

So could Jim. Junk food. Cigarettes. Beer. Crap that he just didn’t need. He wanted to be home in his wife’s arms, but she would be asleep by now, and there wouldn’t be time for anything but a quick hug and kiss before they ran off to their jobs in the morning. He couldn’t very well ask his coworkers for hugs, could he?

Jim handed the man the dollar. The man got up and hugged him. He reminded Jim of his father, dead seven years ago. Jim had gone through a quadruple bypass two years ago, and they were working him to death even now. But he needed the job. He had a daughter getting ready to go to college, and she was good enough to make it to the Ivy League.

He felt better. Enough to wrap up the program review and go home.

“Take care, Jim,” the man said as he sat back down.

“What’s your name?” Jim asked.

He shook his head. “I’m not allowed to say.”

“You’ve got one, haven’t you?”

“It’s our business code of ethics. No relationship with the customers. Otherwise, there’s a conflict of interest.”

Jim felt like he’d just put clothes he hated to wear. “Well, we can’t have that.”

“Don’t work too late. I’ll be here if you need me.”

Jim just walked away. Time to break another habit. And get another job.

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt “Vending Wishes.” I tried to think of the weirdest, most non-toxic vending machine I could think of. This wound up being far more creepy than just buying beer, a pony, or something else that people buy.

Photo credit: “Receive Change Below” by Kenyaboy7 at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license


Posted: December 30, 2013 by writingsprint in Fantasy, The Wizard's Family
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

changelingKit started toward the boy, then stopped. He didn’t know what to do. He felt angry. Then he felt confused. He felt furious! Lady put her hand on his shoulder, but he slapped it away and ran over to the boy.

The boy had just finished capturing another firefly. He turned quickly when he heard the footsteps running up behind him. The boy took a step back, completely forgetting about the jar. Fireflies started to escape. The other boy became very still. “It’s you,” he said.

“Who are you?” Kit asked.

“I’m Kit. I took your place after Lady and the Master came for you.”

Kit looked back at the maple tree. Lady was gone. He looked around, trying to see whether she hid somewhere else or had flown away, but she was nowhere to be seen.

“You have to go before my parents see you.”

“They’re my parents! I want to meet them.”

Kit started toward the house. The other boy grabbed at his arm. Kit spun and pushed him so hard he fell to the ground.

He felt the power rising up inside him. Kit breathed. He didn’t want to start throwing things or breaking things. Lady and Master would be angry… but it didn’t matter. He didn’t care. He wanted to go home.

“What’s going on? Kit? Who are you talking to?” His father and mother came running outside. His father held a carving knife. He was tall – really tall, towering over him, with arms of ropy muscle. His hair was curly and brown.

His mother stood at his side, with alert, bright eyes. She saw Kit, the false Kit laying on the ground, and gasped. “Get away from my boy!” she cried. She scooped up the false Kit and backed up toward the house.

His father stood between them, holding up the knife. “What’s going on?

“It’s a changeling. They want to take our baby!”

The changeling wrapped its arms around his mother’s neck and started crying. “Help me, mommy!” it wailed, diving into the role.

Kit cried, “I’m not a changeling! He’s a changeling!” Hot tears ran down his face. His own family was hugging another boy. Kit’s heart tore open like a living wound. Like blood, he could feel the power spilling out all around him and he couldn’t do anything to stop it.

His father looked confused. He couldn’t seem to bear to attack him. He waved the knife but didn’t come closer. “Go away! Leave us alone!”

Kit pointed, and kept yelling, “He’s a changeling! He’s a changeling!”

Kit felt an insubstantial something spring from his hand to the changeling. In the moonlight he saw it pour like a stream of hot air, splashing all over the changeling’s body. It squealed in terror, writhing. Kit’s mother almost dropped the boy, then wished she had, as it changed from chestnut hair to hairless, and fair-skinned to gray. It’s ears pointed. The changeling’s glamour was gone.

Kit’s mother screamed a bloodcurdling sound that made the night shudder. The changeling broke free and ran, crying, “Not my fault, master! Not my fault!” Kit’s father started toward Kit. Desperate light shone in his eyes.

Kit backed up fast. “I’m your son! Father, they took me!”

“Where’s our baby?” his mother yelled at him.

“I’m your baby!”

His father seized him by the arm and twisted it so hard he almost broke it. He cried, “Give us back our son!”

“We’ll cook him on our fire until it gives him back! That kills changelings!” his mother said.

No. This couldn’t be. This couldn’t be.

Kit just reacted. He threw his father a dozen feet. He landed hard on his back, coughing and moaning. His mother ran at him.

Kit ran into the darkness, crying so hard he could barely see. He wished for trees and branches to get in his mother way. He didn’t want to. He had to. He knew what would happen if he didn’t. He heard them tangling behind him. Trees skittered out of his way. Kit might as well have had his own path to run through.

“Where is our son?” his mother screamed. “Give us back our son, you demon!”

Kit ran forever.

Far in the shadows away from the cabin, Lady sniffed back tears, her hands clenched in fists, as she watched Kit run off. He would be easy enough to find, especially under tonight’s moon. She had hated taking him as a baby, years ago. It could only have ended this way. It didn’t make it better.

Master Vrajitor stood next to her. Lady’s stifled a tremble in her voice. “It worked. Now we’re his family. He has no one else to turn to. He’ll need us more than ever.”

“You did well, Lady. This was an excellent plan. Bring him back to the tower by morning.”

“Yes, master Vrajitor. What about the family?”

“They are nothing. The boy is all that matters.”

Lady said nothing. The Master took her hand to kiss it. It took every ounce of strength Lady had not to snatch it back, as well as memories of pain at this man’s hands. She bowed her head, and summoned a sweet smile.

The Master flew away. When he flew out of sight, she shuddered. Lady wrung her hands over and over, trying to scrub off the feeling of his touch.

He Laughed Like Croaking Ravens

Posted: November 11, 2013 by writingsprint in Adrift
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moon over oceanDew formed on the inside of the raft. John drank every drop he could find. He squeezed it out of his clothes, even his hair. The moisture tasted like heaven on his skin. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. Starts stretched from one horizon to the other. John thanked God that the seas were calm. He wondered if search and rescue could see him more easily on a night like this.

He didn’t hear any planes.

“They need to be looking in the right place,” his son Jeremy said.

“Are you here now?” John asked.

“You mentioned search and rescue. I liked playing with planes as a kid.”

“That’s pretty thin.”


It was weird, being sure he was here, yet not seeing him. He used to know he was about to fall asleep when he would catch myself thinking gibberish like a serious man. It was like that. He knew how crazy this was, but in the moment it made sense.

“Are you doing okay at college?”

“I graduated college five years ago.”

“Your voice sounds the same as it did then.”

“That’s the last time you saw me in person. I moved away.”

To the other side of the country. To play music in bars in Baja California.

“Don’t knock it ’til you tried it.”

“You know what? As long as you’re not strung out on drugs, all I care about is that you have a life and that you’re happy.”

“I wish you told me that.”

“I’m sorry.” He wanted to cry but the tears wouldn’t come.

“I’ll take them on faith,” Jeremy said.

“Thanks. If I get out of this–”

“When you get out of this.”

“Since when are you Mr. Positive?”

“You wouldn’t let me be any other way. Now it’s my turn.”

“When I get out of this. I’ll cry enough for both of us.”

“I know.” Pause.

“What’s up?”

“I never told you, I met a girl. We’re married.”

John sat up. He couldn’t see his son, but if he did he might’ve reached out and shaken him. “What? How the hell could you not tell me that?”

“It was an accident. I got her pregnant. We had to.”


“Last year.”

He was glad that he had mixed feelings. Now, drying up like a raisin in the middle of the ocean, he didn’t want his last thoughts to his son to be about shame and honor and living responsibly. They were mixed regret that he hadn’t met her yet and regret that Jeremy had felt too ashamed to tell him.

“Boy or girl?”

“Boy. Little Jimmy.”

It was John’s turn to pause. “You named him after Hendrix?”

“He was our favorite musician for both of us. That’s how we met.”

John had to laugh. He sounded like croaking ravens, but he still laughed and it still felt good.

“I’m happy for you. Be a good dad. Be good to her.”

Warm feelings. “I will.”

The dream felt like it was ending.

“Wait for dawn,” Jeremy said.


He became conscious again. The moon was two-thirds of the way across the sky. Other than water, John wished he had a book. In this moonlight, he might have been able to read.

Dueling Cold Turkeys

Posted: November 2, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
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jackalopeI set foot on the plane. When my other foot came down, I turned sideways, held my hands up, and shuffled left and right MC-Hammer-style. I bumped into a businessman who looked more like Bill Gates than I wanted to think about, and into my young son, who rolled his eyes and wished he wasn’t there. The pilot and head stewardess chuckled.

“Don’t mind my dad. He always dances when he gets on planes,” Jimmy said.

“We see it all the time,” the pilot said. He looked at me. “It works every time.”

“I’m sorry,” I said to the businessman. He really did look like Bill Gates. But why would Bill Gates travel on anything other than his private jet? I smiled gratefully at the pilot. “Thank you. See, Jimmy? The mojo’s working.”

“Mojo jo-jo-jo,” Jimmy said. I wasn’t cool. I hadn’t been cool since he’d turn ten.

We made our way to our seats. We were flying to Disney World to meet up with my wife Cindy, Jimmy’s mother. Cindy had to go there on business and we were going to meet her for a long weekend. It was a rough gig but someone had to do it.

Jimmy took out his tablet computer and got back to playing some tower-defense–strategy game. I laid out a mini travel gnome, a mini jackalope, a pair of small red dice that I brought home from Las Vegas, and a ten-year-old postcard that I received on my first business trip to Idaho.

The postcard was the oldest piece. It was wrinkled, white creases running through it like old age lines, and bits of it wearing in the corners. Cindy had sent it to meet me at my hotel. I’d been holding it when my plane took a bird strike on takeoff on the way home. When the plane landed again and the whole mess was over, I still held tight onto the postcard. That was when I started collecting tchotchkes and doing a dance when I boarded planes. It kept me from needing valium or alcohol to handle the stress.

“I’m going to break you of your fear,” Jimmy said.

“Really? How are you doing that?” I asked.

He grabbed the postcard. “I’m going to put this one away.”

I almost peed my pants. I grabbed his tablet. “That’s fine. But fair’s fair. You break me of my addiction, I break you of yours.”

“Oh, come on. I’m not addicted!”

“Prove it.”

He slumped in his chair. I was sooo not cool. I wanted him to give me back the card. I was terrified we wouldn’t make it to Orlando now. My rational mind told me I could do this, and so could he.

“I didn’t bring anything to read.”

“There’s a magazine. I brought the paper and two books.”

“Here. Take the card back.”

“No. Come on, let’s do this.”


“It’s a four-hour flight. You’ll be fine.”

Jimmy twitched like a junkie. He was competitive enough that he wanted to prove to me he could do it. I was lucky he didn’t have a cell phone yet. “All right. But I get back as soon as we land.”

“That’s fair.”

I put all the stuff back in the bag I used to carry them on the plane and handed them to him. I was trembling. I felt myself sweat. We hadn’t even begun to taxi yet. It was going to be a long, long flight. I felt like every shiver of my soul, every drop of sweat coming out of my body, was going to be key to keeping us in the air.

This post was brought to you by the prompt “brilliant superstition” from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

The Study Workout

Posted: October 14, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Jerry walked into the dining room. Seven-year-old Fran was sitting near the aisle that led to the kitchen, across from ten-year-old Katie. Katie was buzzing along, like she always was. Fran had his head resting on his hand. He was doodling pictures in the beat-up plastic tablecloth that covered the dining room when they didn’t have company.

Jerry put his hand on the back of Fran’s chair. “Hey, bud,” he said casually. Fran looked up. So did Katie. “It looks like you’re having trouble with multiplication. Let’s go study in the kitchen.” Fran’s mouth hung open. He looked like he was about to get punished. “Come on.”

“All right.” Fran took his books and went in.

Katie wondered what was up. “How about you? Do you need help with anything?” Jerry asked.

“Can we go over science later?”

Jerry had been hoping to watch football then. Oh well. “Sure.”

Marie smiled and went back to studying.

Jerry got glasses of water for both of them. Fran took a sip. “I can get it. I just can’t remember all of them. Especially the higher-number ones, like seven and eight.”

“Those ones are tough. Seven’s weird. I had the hardest time remembering eight times eight when I was your age.”

Fran tried remembering. “72?”

Jerry almost told him. “Try again,” he said.

He squinted hard. “I can’t get it.”

“Try again.”

“I don’t know it.”

“Break it down. Remember how we shovel snow? In chunks. We break it down into pieces we can handle.” Fran looked like he’d just spoken to him in Chinese. “Look at this.” He laid out eight eights with plus signs in between them. “Eight, eight times. You add them all up and you get the answer.” Fran shrugged. “Tell me the first couple multiples of eight that you know.”

“Eight. Sixteen. Twenty-four.”

“Okay, good enough.” Jerry pointed at the eights. “Eight, plus this one is sixteen, plus this one is twenty-four.” He put brackets around two sets of three. “This one’s 24. So’s this one. And this one’s 16.”

“I hate it when the teacher starts using those bracket things. I don’t understand why she can put them around one set one of numbers and not another.”

“Well… we don’t have to use them.” I covered the numbers with my hands, so that we could only see three eights at a time. “You get that each of these sets of three eights adds up to 24.”


“Okay. So 24 plus 24?”

He did the math. “48.”

“And 16?”



Fran sipped his water. “That’s weird. But I get it.”

“Now the bad news. Tricks like that help, but you have to memorize the numbers, too.”


“There isn’t a shortcut.”

“I hate this part.”

“I know. We’ll do it until you get the whole eight times table right.”

“That’ll take forever.”

“Every time you get one right, I’m going to do a pushup. How does that sound?”

Katie called in, “If you’re going to do pushups for him, you have to do situps for me!”

Shoot Safely

Posted: October 10, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , ,

caseIan loaded the gun box into the back of his car. His wife Angie stood behind him, beaming. “I’m really proud of you,” she said.

He winked. “I always wanted to teach him how to shoot.”

“Me too,” she said. She kissed him. “Come on, big man. Let’s go home.”

His mind kept spinning as they drove home. He imagined a thousand and one accidents. Angie had always been the calm one. “He’s going to have to learn to do it safely,” he said. It wasn’t the first time.

“Will you relax?”

“He could lose an eye. Or worse. When I was his age I always used to wave one around like a nut.”

“We won’t let that happen. We’ll lock it up until he’s older. How’s that?”

Ian nodded. “And we keep the keys on our key rings, not just in the house somewhere.”


They arrived just as the guests were showing up. There were balloons tied to the mailbox, along with a sign that said, “Happy birthday Robert!”

The party was a hit. How often do you turn thirteen? Robert looked just like Ian, so much it was scary. He and his friends took over the basement for the rest of the day. They watched movies, ate pizza, played darts, ate more pizza, played video games, finished up the pizza and ordered more. Then they played shuffle board, hung out and acted like goofs. They jokingly tried to get Ian and Angie to let them sip beer – not that they wouldn’t complained if they said yes – but Ian folded his arms and told them no way. Most of the gifts were CDs or video games. Then it was time for the gift from his parents.

Robert tore into it with abandon. He didn’t know what to think when he saw the case. He opened the case, his eyes widened. He looked at his parents. “No way!”

“It’s a stick?” one of his friends asked.

“It’s a teenage-size pool cue,” Ian said.

“He’s been nagging us about a pool table for months,” Angie said. “It’ll be here next week.”

“Hell yeah!” Robert cried. He jumped up started making pretend shot angles with it.

“What did I say?” Ian mumbled. Angie laughed. “Robert, stop waving that thing around—”

“Before someone loses an eye. I know.” He hugged them both. “Thanks!”

Ian smiled. It was amazing what you could get in exchange for a used Smith and Wesson.

This post is brought to you by the prompt “guns in the toy box” from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.