On Command

“Sir-yes-sir!”

Lyle was practicing in front of the mirror again. He had on the army uniform costume that he’d worn on Halloween, and he’d stolen the medal out of his mom’s sock drawer. It was draped around his skinny neck, the gold-colored part resting somewhere around the level of his belt. He marched up and down in his room, trying to make his limbs as stiff as possible, and then turned back to the mirror.

“Sir-yes-sir!”

Under different circumstances, the sight of an eight-year old boy wearing a Halloween costume and walking like a robot would have been amusing. But as it was, it made Robby, Lyle’s older brother, throw his backpack violently across the room. It hit Lyle, who went down right in the middle of another salute.

“Shut up, you idiot, mom’ll be home soon!” Robby gave his brother an extra shove and went to the bathroom to shave. He’d been with his girlfriend after school, and she’d told him she didn’t like his itchy stubble. Trying to calm himself, Robby took out the old razor and placed it on the sink. He lathered his face with lotion, and began, with hands still trembling with anger, to scrape the old, thin blade across his cheek. He managed not to nick his right cheek, his upper lip and his chin, and moved on to the left cheek.

A scream seemed to tear the house into pieces. In the bathroom, Robby cursed as the razor blade cut into his cheek and blood started to seep out of the thin slice. It mixed with the shaving lotion until the lower half of his cheek looked like a marshmallow. Rinsing himself off, Robby got a wad of toilet-paper and held it to his cut as he opened the bathroom door with a crash. A horrible scene met his eyes.

Lyle was face down on the floor, his mother leaning over him. She had the ribbon the medal hung on in one thin, wasted hand, and she was pulling at it, hard. It was still around Lyle’s neck.

“Mom!” Robby dashed forwards, and forced his mother’s hand to let go. He heaved her backwards, away from Lyle, pushing her until she was leaning against the far wall. Her eyes looked dead, and she made no move to go back to strangling her son, so Robby left her and bent over Lyle, turning him over. He was breathing – crying, choking on his mucus and tears, but breathing nonetheless. He huddled in Robby’s embrace, hiding from their mother. Flashing a look of scorn towards her, Robby picked him up and carried him to their tiny, shared room. He took the medal off of him, got him out of the costume and put him in bed. He drew the covers over him and tucked them snug. Lyle was already asleep when he left the room, curled up into a ball.

“How could you, Mom?” Robby faced his mother, who still hadn’t moved from where he’d pushed her. He held the medal forth. “This is what you want? This stupid piece of tin and some gold paint? Take it! Here, take it!” He threw the medal at her feet. Her eyes moved towards it, and she finally moved, kneeling down to pick it up. She looked at it lying in her hand, caressed it, and then held it closely to her breast. Raising her eyes, she gave Robby a withering glare. He didn’t budge, didn’t say a word.

“You never – do you hear me, son? You never talk about your father’s memory that way again.”

She rushed into her bedroom, closing and locking the door, before Robby could scream at her that his father was dead, that he died in a stupid war, that the medal didn’t really mean anything, that his father’s memory lay nowhere near the stupid thing. He slumped against the wall. It was too much, suddenly. It was all too much. His mother had never gone this far before. And Lyle – Lyle was just like her! Why did her need to steal that thing out of her drawer every other day?

Trembling, forgetting about the tissue that was still stuck to his face, Robby went down the hall to where the phone rested on a small table – his father had managed to get a great bargain on it at the flea market, Robby remembered that day… Without dwelling too long, though, he picked up the phone and dialed.

“Aunt Jenny? It’s Rob. Robby. My mom – she – Lyle – I just… We need help.”

Three Cars at a Curb/Another Award?

The first car is what they call a clunker. It’s unclear whether the original color was tan or yellow – it’s so dirty that it looks gray more than anything else. The back window is full of bumper stickers. One says “Save the Whales!” Another reads “Keep Calm and Carry On.” There are at least twenty more, seemingly random. There are two conflicting ones, side by side, supporting opposing political parties. Other than the stickers, there isn’t much that distinguishes the car from dozens of other similarly dirty, old cars that are scattered around the city. But the stickers give the car character – it’s almost possible to see the teenager driving it, enjoying the confusion as people behind him in traffic try to figure him. He jokes with his friends that his car provides entertainment – something to read on the road. Secretly, he fears someone will cut his tires one day, because they won’t find his ironic take on issues to be amusing.

The second car is stunning, spotless and gleaming in the sun. It looks like a commercial rather than a real car. The curves and planes, the perfect proportions and stylish color – they reek of money. Lots and lots of money.
Every passerby looks at it with a mix of admiration and envy. Some want the car, but some just don’t want the owner to have it. The car has tinted windows, which gives it an air of mystery. Maybe the solution to it is the woman inside, cowering as people peer closely at the car, hoping the windows will do the trick and keep prying eyes out. She has a black eye and a cut lip, and her clothing is piled up in the back seats, haphazardly. All the money she owns is in the glove compartment and she’s spent the day on the phone getting her boss to allow her some paid leave. Just until that pesky cough of hers goes away. Why paid? Because she needs a little extra this month – you know how it is, the taxes are always going up, up, up. The paid leave is given, but she doesn’t want to emerge in daylight. No one needs to know what she’s gone through.

The third car seems dull, after the first two. Not a clunker, not a stunner. It’s just a medium sized sedan, clean, but not gleaming. It has no distinguishing features whatsoever. It doesn’t seem to have any story behind it at all. The people walking along would never notice it – it’s just another car. They wouldn’t even guess that the owners were trying to have a baby, that there were problems and treatments and horrors to go through, that the couple’s relationship seemed to be fraying day by day with the mounting pressure, that they might one day break up, and then who gets the car? Well, the passerby won’t know any of that, but maybe, if they live in the area, they’ll notice one day that the woman is pregnant and glowing and driving off to Lamaze class. Or maybe, instead, they’ll see the man driving off in a rage, never to be seen again. Maybe the car itself doesn’t have a story, but it has, like everything, a story hiding just behind it.

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I can’t believe that I forgot to mention Desiree in my post yesterday… She writes beautifully, and her poems break my heart sometimes. She awarded me this, for which I thank her deeply. I’d like anyone, everyone, who wants to, to receive this award. Because (corny warning!) I truly feel that every one of you whose blogs I read has a magic touch. You all make me think, smile, laugh and cry, and to me, that’s what writing is about – making others feel something. And making someone feel something… well, that’s magic. (I warned you, I warned you! But I mean it.)

An Award’s Ongoing Journey and a Progress Report

I received the Prolific Blogger Award from Brown Paper Bag Girl last night [well, last night in my time zone – not sure about anyone else’s]. I’m incredibly flattered at what she wrote about my blog, and I’d just like to say that I love her writing and that I’m so glad that I discovered her blog. And now:

Rules: Pass the award to seven bloggers who inspire you, make you laugh, make you think or a combination of all. Make sure you include a link to the person who gave you the award and that’s about it. Quite simple, fun and an easy way to brighten someone’s day.” So here we go, although I’m not limiting myself to seven, because it’s too hard. I pass this award on to:

1) Right back attcha, Brown Paper Bag Girl!

2) The lovely Mckenzie.

3) The amazing Erin.

4) The awesome Kit.

5) The cool Living Dilbert.

6) The wise Eva.

7) The talented Den.

8 ) The bluegrass Doc B.

9) The inspiring Trisha.

10) The authoress Heather.

11) The strong and united Joy+Family.

12) The aspiring Miss Rosemary.

13) The wonderful Suzi.

14) The amusing but touching Jane.

15) The musical Mikael.

16) The creative Lua.

Phew. I think that I didn’t leave anyone out this time. Everyone’s links are in there [or should be] so if you happen to be a newcomer and don’t know about any of these blogs, you can see that I recommend them highly! Most of you, though, will probably know half the people here. I suppose I should really try to broaden my blog-sphere, maybe find some new people to introduce! But for now, I’ll leave it to these sixteen people to pass the award on to people who haven’t got it yet. Poor awards… Their journey never ends. Even if two or three people don’t pass it on, surely the others will. I wish you well, Award, and hope your journey through the cyber-world will be enjoyable!

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Now, I know that two days don’t mean zilch. Not in the long run. But I can’t help but be thrilled that I’ve managed – both yesterday and today – to sit down and write. WRITE. For two hours straight. The time passed fast. Today, I felt as if I could have kept going for a while. This makes me hopeful. Maybe I do have the discipline it takes. Maybe, just maybe… Please, maybe. At least maybe.

Award + Dad’s Day Blogfest

So I got this award again, and I couldn’t be happier! Since it looks different than the other award of the same name, I’m going to put them both up. Just because they’re both really pretty! I got this award from three people this time – Miss Rosemary and Kit and Brownpaperbag Girl all tagged me, and I’m extremely thankful to all of you sweet ladies! So the rules are to write seven things about me, and then tag other bloggers. The problem is, half the people I’d like to tag have been tagged already! So, and I swear this is NOT out of laziness, I’m tagging everyone on my blogroll – most of them are still around [I can think of two that aren’t but that’s it] and the fact that they’re on my blogroll means that I love reading their blogs and will keep doing so. So I suggest you check them out!

Seven things that have something to do with me:

1) I bought three rings today. I’ve decided to be a fan of rings.

2) I’ve started watching Buffy, The Vampire Slayer yet again.

3) My nails are painted black at the moment, but the polish is chipped and falling off. This is normal – it usually takes me a couple weeks to really care about the black splotches that are all that remains of the polish.

4) Despite the polish and the rings, I still love dressing in jeans and t-shirts and looking like a tomboy.

5) When I was little, I was so much of a tomboy that people didn’t realize I was a girl half the time.

6) My mother’s amazing friends in England – who I consider either friends or uncles or both – sent me a huge, beautiful, wonderful bouquet of flowers today.

7) I really don’t love talking about myself so much. But then again, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to – which is, in case it wasn’t clear, a way of saying it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want.

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On an entirely different note, Miss Rosemary – linked above – is holding a blogfest, in which she’s challenged her readers, and these are the rules she set: “What you have to do is pick at least one (more if you want to) of the quotes (reproduced below in this post) and include them in a story/poem/article/whatever you feel like writing.” The quotes she posted were humorous quotes that come directly from her father. I have chosen this one: “So I see you spent a million dollars at Borders.”

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“So I see you spent a million dollars at Borders.”

“Yes, Craig, I have. Got a problem with that?”

“No, no! Not at all, sir! It’s just that with the market as it is…”

“Spit it out, man!”

“Don’t you think that maybe you shouldn’t be spending quite so much?”

“Listen to me, and listen to me closely now – I’m a multi-millionaire. It’s taken me thirty-three years to acquire the amount of money I’ve got. I may have most of it in stock, but my bank account is pretty damn full too. So if my daughter wanted to buy every single copy of a book by her favorite author, then I think it’s a good birthday present and a fair one at that.”

“Ah. Well, if it was a present for your daughter, sir… I really can’t talk, of course, but… well, may I ask what the purpose of this was?”

“Of course. The purpose is to attract the author’s attention, and get her to contact my beautiful girl. My daughter is convinced, as am I, that this author will come on bended knee and thank us, because she never would have sold so many volumes if it weren’t for us.”

“Sir, I see what you mean, but don’t you think… uh… just maybe – and I’m not criticizing here, sir, but don’t you think the author would rather have her books sold to different people so that many can get to read them?”

“Craig, you’re insulting my daughter, and quite frankly, you’re boring me. I don’t care much about the why of it, but I know that this is what my daughter wanted for her birthday, and that’s what she got. So I’m going to hang up on you now. Call me tomorrow with the figures and remember to ask what’s-his-name about the whatsit, you know, the thing stock, the one that we were looking at last week.”

“Yes, sir.

Sir?

Is the line really dead?”

“……”

“Oh, good. Then let me just say that you’re an idiot, sir.