Dogged Dobbie

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Photo: Keith Kreates

 

“What’s he doing?”

Martha shrugged.

“What’s in there?”

She tilted her head at him, and he demurred. She was clearly occupied. She had a bone to pick and he knew that if he pushed her with one more question she’d snap his head off. Or try.

He wasn’t going to let her try.

He moved closer to his friend.

“Dobbie?” he asked the headless figure. Did she snap his head off already? No, there was a tail wag. He didn’t think Dobbie would wag his tail if he didn’t have a head. He’d be too sad. No sniff. No lick. No yum.

“What’d’ya doin’ in there?”

The tail paused, then gave a halfhearted, one-sided sway. A sign?

“You stuck?”

Hesitant then enthusiastic wag.

“How’d you get stuck there?”

There was probably no way to wag an answer to that. Not to mention that Dobbie found a way to get stuck just about anyplace. Between the legs of a chair. Under the bed. With a garbage bin over his head. …

Max sniffed. There had to have been some food up there. Dobbie never could resist anything gobbleable. Max sniffed again. Traces. It’d be all gone by the time Dobbie realized he should’ve planned a way out before he stuck his head in.

Dobbie’s tail wagged in half-regret, half-plea.

Max sighed.

“Hold on, Dobbie! I’ll get Com’eer!”

 

 

 

For Keith’s Kreative Kue #246

 

 

The Culvert

 

“Where does it lead?” Mina crouched and tried to peer behind the metal grate. The concrete tube curved away.

“To the factory,” Josh replied distractedly. Her derriere was hanging utterly too close to the water.

“Are you checking me out?” she teased. She knew he preferred men.

“More like watching out for you,” he pouted. His friend could read his mind even when her back was turned. He loved and hated her for it.

She twisted to peek at him. “The danger being?”

“Getting wet.”

Mina laughed. Josh was fussier than her own mother. “I won’t melt.”

“Not from normal water, you wouldn’t, but there’s a reason the factory was ordered closed, and why authorities reinforced the grates on this culvert. Only God and the now-dead-factory-owners-and-workers know what’s in there. I don’t like this.”

Mina’s witty retort fizzled when she caught sight of movement, barreling toward the grate.

She screamed.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge #60

 

Nervous Nelly

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Photo: courtesy of DeAnna Gossman

 

“I’m telling you, Nym. She isn’t coming back.”

“But her drinking vessel is here.”

They both knew that she never strayed too far from it or for too long. There was even some liquid left in it.

Nelly made a doubting sound that gave him an urge to scratch her. Instead, he sniffed and looked again.

And of course the drinking vessel was still there, unemptied. It was the kind designed to not allow them any actual sipping. Not that he’d want to. The stuff that went into it was odoriferous and generally undrinkable. It wasn’t even real blood.

Still, it would be nice if she didn’t lock her drinks that way. It was insulting.

He’d tried to dip and lick once, but the one legged vessel was too tall and wobbly, and it tipped and rolled and fell and broke into small bits of ice that cut his tender flesh when he’d tried to walk on it. If he’d wanted to taste blood there were better ways for it than being reduced to licking his own.

He never got too close to one again.

“Come, Nelly,” he soothed his anxious, clucking friend. “We’ll nap now. I’m sure she’ll return.”

 

 

 

For Sunday Photo Fiction

 

 

Doomed

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“I will stand here, then slowly scoot in and get us tickets. No one will notice.”

“Are you kidding me?!” I tried to keep my voice low. Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult to do, muffled as it was already.

Doug shrugged, scattering orange and yellow.

It was a bad idea. This whole thing. I never should’ve let Doug talk me into it.

“It will be so much fun!” he’d said. And … anything did sound better than being cooped up in a hospital bed, my face swollen and bruised and covered with bandages after reconstructive surgery, while everyone else went partying.

Doug’s initial idea was to bandage the rest of me like a mummy, but I wasn’t going for it. I had enough of bandages. So Doug ‘borrowed’ his brother’s bike leathers and brought along some plastic ‘armor’, a roll of fake cobwebs, and a helmet that he somehow managed to fit over my post-surgically-wrapped visage. It was a bit too snug in places and as soon as he’d pulled it on I knew I’d regret it when we tried to remove the thing from my poor head. My noggin was five tons of throb.

We’d gotten through the nurse’s station undetected, and were now trying to crash the doctors’ party at the end of a hallway off the lobby. There seemed to be tickets involved. Or invitations. Or IDs of some sort. Now what?

Music crashed against my ears. I was tired. I wanted to be back in bed. I should have gone as a mummy. Preferably in a sarcophagus. At least then I could lie down. It wasn’t even three full days since my surgery. What was I thinking?… Clearly I was not.

“This is stupid!” I hissed.

“You’ll see,” Doug, undeterred, maneuvered his wrapped wheelchair into a corner, shedding more leaves, “People don’t notice trees.”

Oh, I could see already. And more than I wanted to.

“They would notice this one,” I grumbled.

Already Doug’s stick arms and bony torso showed. Someone should have hold him that being a potted tree in fall was doomed to leave him sitting in the nude.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

Joy Ride

Berlin ride InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

Low to ground

Safe and sound

Sharing smiles all around

Their devotion

Abounds

As they glide

Side by side

Through the streets

In joyful ride.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Devotion in 25 words

 

Peas in a Pod

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Photo: Dvora Freedman

 

Like peas in a pod

They await

The day’s show.

Friends in flowers

And costumes

They’re alike

Yet I know,

Their hearts sing

Unique songs

I would like

To hear so!

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Pairs

 

Partners

Guatemala Duo InbarAsif

Guatemala Duo; Photo: Inbar Asif

 

When shut-eye weighs your lids

Yip patrol

Comes on call

While the third wheel can perch

On the sill

‘bove the bench.

 

 

For The Daily Post

“I just let it go”–Bullying, undoing Taboo?

Photo Credit: A.M

I see children. As an integral part of what I do, I talk to them. They talk to me. We discuss stuff. Words, events, stories, happenings, expressions. Language, communication. School. Life.

Oftentimes it becomes an opportunity for all manner of learning. Sometimes I even teach them something (I think that more often than not, I am the one who learns more!)

A girl came in the other day, a preteen with all the loveliness, precocity, and gangly limbs that time of life implies, complete with early social angst over boys, hierarchies and wanting to fit in. She’s a precious girl. Relatively sheltered, only child and doted on. Popular, I know. Loved by teachers. Not the best learner, but she’s gracious about what others do better and tenacious about trying to improve her own results. She had made amazing leaps in the few months I’ve known her.

She has also opened up some more. About what is not often spoken of. The real problems of childhood that are frequently hidden under layers of “fine”, “okay”, and “nothing much.”

Yesterday, she spoke about something that is both a numbing non-stop conversation and taboo: Bullying.

Non-stop in the almost weekly pedagogic instruction for “awareness” and “Zero Tolerance,” the speakers that the school brought in to talk to the students about the wrongs of bullying, the memos to the parents, the signup sheets for pledges, and the warning for absolute intolerance of it in the school. Taboo because it still happens, mostly underground and sneakily, and because in some ways it’s become even harder to bring it up.

She is not the first one to tell me of that snailing-in of bully-tactics. I’ve been hearing it. A lot. The children tell it like it is.

“No one wants to be the kid who gets another kid suspended or worse, thrown out of school!” the children tell me. “What do I need someone’s parents calling mine to find out why I’m making trouble for their kid?” These are schools parents line up to get a child into, and pay plenty for tuition and name recognition. Nothing can be allowed to blot a child’s resume. If there’s a problem, it is best handled quietly. The children feel the pressure, too. They know.

“We’re supposed to take care of it on our own, anyway” they tell me. “The teachers are like: ‘you have got the skills, use them’ or ‘sign the pledge, don’t bully, don’t become a witness, step away.’ It’s words, not action. They don’t really want to get involved. Anyway, half the time you can’t even prove it is bullying, and then you’re like, the bully.”

The kids tell it like it is. It’s tough. It’s complicated. Still, talking helps. Many of them are sick of bullying and are indeed taking action–from within. Like the girl.

She’s not the one in the cross-hairs of verbal torment (bullying in her school is the subtly demolishing kind–no heads in the toilet or smashed glasses or bruises–but eroding stings and code words of soft spoken wounding. Lethal still. We know). It is another girl. Two, actually, and creatively isolated from each other by the bullying company so that they cannot seek counsel with each other. The bullies? Four girls. All popular, great students, teachers’ pets, parents on committees, philanthropy going back to bedrock.

“They don’t say anything really mean,” she tells me quietly, anguished, “kind of. But they still do. It is hard to explain.”

“You are explaining,” I encourage. “Sometimes it is in the how you say things that the intended meaning comes through.”

She nods. “They KNOW things,” she whispers. “Stuff that’s private, what they don’t want others to know, small things, embarrassing stuff … I don’t know how they even find out, but they do, and then they say it, kind of in a joke but I can see it is not funny. Some kids laugh because they want to be popular and some really don’t see that it meant to be sneaky. They’re not all mean girls, those who laugh … some of them are my friends and all, but they laugh, and it makes it worse.”

I nod. I understand.

“The girls being bullied,” she continues, “they’re not really my friends. Not because they are being bullied … I mean, they weren’t my friends before, either. I don’t know why. I don’t really like them much. Do you think that makes me bad?”

I smile. “The very fact that you are wondering about it, tells me that you are not bad. Let alone that I already know you to have a very caring heart.”

She looks at me searchingly, but she knows I mean what I say. “Okay,” she says. I’m glad she doesn’t blush.

“I was thinking about it, about what to do,” she starts.

“Tell me.”

“My other friend said that we could find out bad things about the mean girls and we can tell them that if they kept on being mean we’ll tell everyone … but,” she pauses, “that’ll kind’a make me be a bully, too. I don’t want to.”

I smile. She knows what my smile means–another proof that she is farthest from bad.

“… so I told my friend, that we’ll just hang out more with B and C and be their friends more. Invite them over. Sit with them at lunch kind of stuff. They are a little weird sometimes, though,” she sighs. “One of them kind of gets annoying, you know, grabs your stuff, holds on to you, sticky. You know?”

She pauses. Ponders.

“But maybe it’s because she’s kind’a lonely. Or maybe she’s lonely because she’s weird. I don’t know. I don’t want to be mad at her. I don’t want to be mad at the bully girls, either. They are kind of my friends, too, sometimes. It gets me feeling stuck.”

I nod. Sometimes there’s nothing I can say that the child is not already saying, nothing that I need to add. Just listen. I hear her. She wants to think it out.

“It’s a little better, though,” she brightens. “I think. Today, at lunch, the mean girls wanted to sit with us and I was sure it was because they wanted to be mean to B and C–they were sitting with my friend and me, you know, like I said–and I got all like, mad inside, but then I decided that I didn’t want to be mad in advance. So … I just let it go. And you know what? …”

“What?” (smile)

“They were not mean. They were alright.”

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Photo Credit: A.M.

Onward, Ice-world. Here I come!

When the Universe’s retrograde is retrograding, hang on for the ride…

Day in point:
I had to get to a medical appointment today. Knowing I’d be rather low-energy before it, I had pre-ordered car-service. Received a call that the car broke down and they won’t have a replacement in time. Nothing for it, but try to get a cab.

Ha! No chance. Half the city was waving hands at a handful of, obviously full, taxis. However, I’m a determined (read: desperate and wobbly) girl. So I froze. Waited. Tried the other corner. The far corner. Across the street. No luck. Figured there’s no way, gave in, took the bus crosstown (which included getting over the ice without adding to the tally of ‘wrist cases’ in local ERs) with the hope I’d maybe get a taxi there the rest of the way.

Joke’s on me–the same handful of taxis were still, well…full. Can’t blame them. I figured, if I got a taxi, I won’t be giving it up, either, if I were me… Nothing for it but to take the downtown bus, which of course picks up passengers not where it is plowed but on the unplowed side. It would be adventurous crossing on a regular snow-ice-mush day (even with a cane with an ‘ice-grip’ extension) but especially today when I was a bit vertically challenged already. Owee for my back, but yay for me, I did it. Stood there and froze with my fellow non-taxi-worthy-New-Yorkers. Finally a bus came that did not have a “next bus please” on it. We all of us levitated (um…not exactly) over the mountains of ice and ice-rinks into the bus which moved, sort of. SLOW SLOW, downtown.

I was of course late to my appointment, not to mention used up more energy than I did not have to begin with. But, I did it. Got through it all. All is okay now.

It wiped me out and was no fun BUT, in the tally of lessons
I did get to:
1.experience the full marvel of -10 windchill (it is especially poignant after a few minutes–for best effect, try more than 10 while standing on ice in a corner where the wind is amplified by tunnel-effect).
2. practice management of feelings of extreme jealousy when a lucky hand-waiver two blocks up from me managed to snatch the one available taxi in the whole town. The feeling was exquisite, shared by the people around me, and I think is generally magnified in direct opposite correlation to the temperature outside.
3. bond in an unspoken way with my fellow bundled up New Yorkers–we really ARE all the same, above all those layers (you can’t tell who’s who anyway…).
4. exercise my body’s frost-defrost-frost cycle (of which I had a preparatory course the day before when the heat broke in my building and we had indoor arctic chill–I did not even know I was getting get-to-doctor-bootcamp! See how everything happens for a reason?…)
5. put my new found learning into immediate action by instructing my pick-you-up-after friend to UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES to leave the taxi she was coming in. Wobbly or not, I was going to come down to her instead–no way I was giving up a taxi I knew was half-mine…

Total tally for the day: Universe 10, Na’ama 5 (but hey, five is more than none!) 😉

Onward, ice-world. Here I come!