The Iron Writer Challenge 86
The Mathew W. Weaver Challenge
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
A goat’s hoof
Home brewed maple syrup
A pickled frog
A Childhood of Lessons
I can’t think of many things from my childhood, that have stayed over the years, I can remember the first time my father ever let my trim a goats hoof. We had owned old dolly for long than I could remember, my brothers all say when we got her mother was scared she would eat me by accident, but no she never tried to eat my clothes just my fathers jeans, dad knew a lot about goats. Now dad had been work away for months and mum had no clue how to trim goats hoofs it was ten at this time, so when father came home six months that we sat outside just trying to trim a hoof of dolly’s.
I can remember the walk to grandmas, to help with collecting the maple sap to make her famous home brewed maple syrup. Every Sunday we would have freshly made pancakes at grandmas place. Once a month we would make a giant batched of maple syrup, and bottle it up, we take some to the neighbours, and to family friends who lived close by us.
My grandpa loved metal work he could make all kinds of things. He used to try and teach us. My brothers loved it, I hated it I wanted just to go sit down and read a good book. I remember stealing tommy’s batman comics to read as a young child. I remember the day I asked grandpa to help me make a batarang, for months we worked on it, it was the one project I ever helped him with.
I can remember my mother pickling eggs at the start of the year, we could go though two jars a month, I was seven and had just caught a frog my mother hated it, she told me It wasn’t lady like to keep a frog. I remember how she told me to keep it way from the kitchen when she was pickling egg, well I never listen so off I went carry my new pet frog into the kitchen to get a pickled egg from the jar we had opened the night before, well my frog escaped, straight off into a jar of eggs just as the lid went it was safe to say I lost my frog that day and we were down a jar of pickled eggs.
As I watch my kids, playing with the batarang my grandpa had made for me when I was eight, I can’t help but think how much of I what I show them will they take in. Will they learn things I am teaching or will they like not want to learn them. Oh how I wish I payed more attention to, my father when he tried to teach me how to trim a goats hoof, or to my grandmother on how to make home brewed maple syrup, or listened to my mum when she told me not to bring my pet frog into the kitchen when she was pickling eggs. Or my grandpa on how to make a batarang, from scratch.
“Damn it,” she shouted as she stubbed her toes on the leg of the table.
Of course it had to be that foot. The other one, the hoof of a goat, could whack things all day long with no ill effect. And the thought of ill effects reminded her once again that she must eat soon. Ah, well, it would be soon enough.
She limped over to her pantry. The large wood plank door was hard to open. The bottom of the door caught on a nail in the floor and she had to shake it loose. Cobwebs fell as the door opened enough to allow her large frame to enter the pantry. They covered her black raiment with a ghostly shawl before she shrugged them loose.
Squinting, she eyed the labels on her many jars. She chose four and exited the small room.
She set her jars down on the dusty table next to the big copper kettle. The wood fire beneath had the watery contents at a nice rolling boil.
Carefully she added her ingredients. The pickled frog was a pain to get out. She had to give the jar an earnest shaking.
She gave her concoction a good stirring with the large wooden paddle that she had found next to the kettle. This abandoned maple syrup camp was proving to be an excellent hideout. It was perfect for her needs.
With her warty, crooked tongue she licked the paddle. Her violet eyes rolled in ecstasy. This had been a tough meal to come by but it was all going to be worth it.
With a ladle she spooned herself a large portion into a bowl and made her way to the table by a long wall of windows. They provided her with a panoramic view of the snow covered hills and bare trees. She found it to be quite beautiful.
She uncorked a small jug and covered her meal with some of the home brewed maple syrup she had found in the closed shop next door. And for the next three hours she ate and ate and ate.
Once done, she felt her strength returning. Her renewed vigor gave her the conviction that she would be okay through the coming months.
She pushed herself away from the table. It was time for her favorite part.
In what had been the office of the camp she had made a trophy wall. This one, of all the ones she had ever made in her hundreds of years, showed her greatest accomplishments.
She leveled the batarang on two pegs and smiled. It hung nicely, front and center. Surrounding it were a tattered shirt with an S on it, a golden lariat, a visor of ruby-quartz meant to be worn over the eyes, and a severed hand with long, wickedly sharp claws protruding from it.
Yes, she was having a super, sweet season.
Note: this story is based on the song “Have You Seen Her” by the Chi-Lites)
“Jack, would you shut up!? What’s wrong with you, hollerin’ like that?! Who’s Stella?”
“The love of my life, Bob; the only person in the world who ever cared for me. Everything was just the same as every other day; we were together, happy, laughing, holding hands, kissing, and hugging each other, and then I turned around and she was gone. She left me …. alone.”
“Oh, you’re referring to Nancy. Jack, dude, that’s crazy talk. She didn’t LEAVE you; that’s just not possible. You are her raison d’etre.”
“I know, Ted, it doesn’t make any sense at all, but where IS she? It’s been a month now, and there’s been no sign whatsoever.”
“Jack, are you crying?
“She’s gone, Mike. I feel so lonely; so … lost. It’s a horrible feeling, like my guts have been ripped out. I’m completely hollow inside.”
“Hey, man. Look, here, you can have my lucky goat’s foot. Here, take it.”
“I can’t … “
“No, really, TAKE it and stop crying. You’re making me scared.”
“Jack, man, here, you can have my Batarang too.”
“Pete, your Batarang? Wow, but …”
“It’s OK, Jack …. it doesn’t actually work, ya know, but if someone kidnapped her, you can hit them with it.”
“Jack, dude, here … you can have my pickled frog; it’s really cool.”
“Bob… You actually carry this around with you?”
“Ya, sure. Like I said, ‘It’s REALLY cool. It’s in a jar of formaldehyde. That’s a poison.”
“Ya, that is cool. Thanks.”
“OK, Jack, focus now. What was the last thing you remember?”
“OK, let me think… We were in the kitchen making maple syrup, and she says, ‘Let’s go to for a walk in the park.’ We were walking along the street, holding hands. She was smiling and happy. She told me she loved me more than anyone, and then she kissed me. We entered the park. You guys came up, and we talked for a few minutes. I turned around, and … she was gone.”
“That was today, Jack; that wasn’t a month ago.”
“Well, it FEELS like a month ago!.”
“Did she say anything after you got to the park?”
“No, wait a sec, Jack. I seem to remember her saying something.”
“What? Come on, Pete, what do you remember?”
“She … turned her head … and said, ‘Marge!’ And then I think she waved at someone.”
“Marge? Oh yes, she brings her family to the park all the time.”
“Ya, I know Marge Johnson. She’s cute. They’re always hanging around the restrooms. They’ve got that new baby and all.”
“Come on, Jack. Let’s go check over by the restrooms.”
Working our way through the crowds, we turned the corner around the huge yellow bushes, and there she was, standing by the water fountain. I ran with my arms wide open, tears flowing down my cheeks. “Mommy!”
Dani J. Caile
“Holy jumping bullfrogs, Batman! We’ve got ourselves in a pickle this time!” screamed the brightly-coloured-slightly-camp-costumed Robin.
The Dynamic Duo were in trouble yet again, dangling on ropes above an enormous cauldron filled to the brim with vinegar, onions, spices…and frogs.
“I think those amphibians’ jumping days are over, my illustrious caped friend,” replied Batman.
Their vile enemy, the Wicked Witch of West Side Gotham appeared.
“Ha-ha! You will soon be pickled alive, Batty, along with your queer sidekick!”
“Who’s she calling a sidekick?”
The Wicked Witch moved over to her precious goat, which was connected to their ropes and grazing on a luscious lawn of grass.
“As my beauty eats to its heart’s content, you will slowly descend into my magic potion, second only to my home brewed maple syrup in occultist circles. With wing of bat and eye of bird, and pickled frogs aplenty, my potion will be ready. Ha-ha! And then I will make those revolting bloated cattle turn into…gorgeous goats! No more enforced drinking of cow milk for children in schools!”
“Ah-ha, that would account for the missing cows of Gotham.”
“And signs of an oppressed childhood, it seems, Batman.”
“Or some ‘udder’ bovine related problem, Robin. Not so fast, Wicked Witch of West Side Gotham! We’re here to pasturise your evil plot!”
“Ha-ha! So long, Batty! I’m off to reap what I have sown! Now where’s my broomstick…?” The Wicked Witch left them to pickle.
“Quick, Robin, before she cackles herself into the history books, reach into my utility belt and take out my batarang.”
“Holy beachballs, Batman!”
“No need to play pocket billiards, Robin.”
“Sorry, force of habit. Got it!” Robin pulled out the tool.
“Now, throw it up and cut our ropes…” Batman heard an ominous clang of metal on the floor. “What happened?”
“Err, I dropped it.”
Batman shook his head in dismay and noticed Robin moving his mouth in a distinct manner.
“Robin, is that gum you’re chewing?”
“Sorry, Batman, it is. I know it’s not right on a mission such as this but the herring we had for lunch was a little overpowering…”
“Stop chewing the cud and pass it over!”
“Pass it over. I’m going to spit it onto the grass so that the goat’s hoof will stick, giving me time to untie myself!”
“Great idea, Batman!”
“Okay.” The ‘daring’ duo exchanged the gooey mass and Batman aimed and spat, with the gum landing an inch in front of the goat. It stepped on it and was unable to continue, halting their fall from grace.
“Holy cohesive sticky substances, Batman! You did it!”
The winged avenger struggled with his ropes and after a backuprise, two muscleups and a shoot to handstand, he was free, releasing with a double backward somersault and landing on both feet.
“And now to stop the Wicked Witch of West Side Gotham’s dastardly deed! I’ll be back in a hop, skip and jump of a lesser-spotted New Guinea poisonous bush frog, Robin!”
Alis Van Doorn
Violet looked up at the dusking sky, her instinctive smile faltering a bit, worry lines forming deep creases in her otherwise still lovely face. It was almost time; could she really do it by herself this year? At seventy nine, it seemed doubtful, yet the prospect was oddly exciting and of course terrifying. And really, she had no choice. It was her livelihood and her independence. If she couldn’t make this happen, she would have to leave her fifty three acres of woodland in north Georgia. Violet had arrived in this secluded forest as a bride of twenty, dropping out of a junior college she wasn’t remotely interested in, to elope with the boy she was madly in love with. Four children, a husband, all dead now. The stakes were high. There were already those well-meaning folks from the church and the town down below that felt she shouldn’t be up here alone, her husband’s nephew who couldn’t wait to get his greedy paws on this beloved land, increasingly pushing her to deed it to him now. He stood to make a fortune selling it. The developers were sucking up forest land and stripping it bare to develop it into second homes for the super-rich Atlanta folk. Violet wasn’t an idiot; she knew her way of life wouldn’t last forever, but she didn’t need it to… just to last for her forever. So, she straightened her shoulders; tomorrow she would start.
Early morning saw Violet in action mode; marking trees she would tap. Violet figured she only needed to tap forty trees this year to make her needed profit. Demand was high for “Violet’s Home Brewed Maple Syrup”. Still forty trees was a lot to tap. Violet worked steadily. After six hours, she stretched, straightened and felt a whap, then a sharp burning in her lower hip. Bewildered, she scanned the tree line, and then saw him. Violet looked down and saw the batarang that hit her. She called out and slowly a boy, a teenager really, emerged. “What on earth do you think you’re doing on my land and injuring me to boot?” Violet asked. The boy shrugged, hung his head. “What’s your name?” asked Violet. “Homer. “ Violet looked thoughtfully at Homer. “Why aren’t you in school?” she asked. “Got kicked out of boarding school and sent to my parent’s home up here with a tutor.” Violet gave him an assessing look. “Why’d you get kicked out?” “Too much excess energy improperly harnessed.” Homer replied with a smirk. Violet’s lips twitched. “Well, how would you like to earn some money while harnessing some of that energy helping me tap these trees for my incredible maple syrup?” Homer looked at Violet somewhat doubtfully… “What goes into this stuff? Like pickled frogs and eye of newt?” Violet gave Homer a look and said “No, only the little finger of an impudent boy, a goat’s hoof, and a butt load of maple sap.” They looked at each other and grinned, and suddenly Violet knew that the past was colliding with the future to make her present a possibility.