The Iron Writer Challenge #209
2017 Autumn Equinox Challenge #4
Name That Iron Challenge #1
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
Author’s name will be posted when the voting is finished next Thursday
A young boy sitting on a woman’s lap
A lyric from the song The Rain, the Park and Other Things.
A Drive-In Movie
The engines revved up as the light got ready to change. When it suddenly drops from red to green, the cars race off. The smell of gas, diesel fuel, and regret permeated the air as the cars continued the race, and may God have mercy on that one soul who does not get off of the line fast enough and had to bear the brunt of the frustration of the drivers behind him. No, I did not just describe a race at the Daytona Speedway. I described a different kind of race. The rat race. That scene was typical at any stoplight, in any city, around the world. People are in way too much of a hurry today. They are in a hurry to get to their job, in a hurry to drop a ten dollar bill on a cup of coffee, in a hurry to get their children to daycare or to school, in a hurry to get to the store to buy groceries, and then in a hurry to get back home and prepare to start the whole thing over the next day; forgetting about the simpler times.
When I arrived home that night, the night I decided to change my life, I sat down in my recliner with a drink and a cigar. I turned on the radio and the song, The Rain, the Park, and Other Things by the Cowsills came on and suddenly I was taken back to a simpler time in my life. I got up from my chair, opened a trunk, and pulled out an old photo album. A photo album that stored memories of when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper. As I flipped through the pages, I happened upon a picture of my brother and I at my grandmother’s house. He is sitting on her lap and I am in the chair next to them, laughing.
It was a simpler time then. My biggest worry then was if grandma would scrape the burnt toast enough to make it palatable. Grandma always burned the toast. It was a time when families went on picnics. A time when everyone was in the house by 6 p.m. to eat dinner as a family. A time when Chet Huntley and David Brinkley brought the national news to our parents on the television. A time when going to the drive-in movie was a family outing. That next morning I quit my job and put my house up for sale. I moved north to a small country town and purchased an old farm house. I no longer sit in a tiny cubicle, feeding information into a computer. Now, when I go to work, I drive a tractor in my field, weed my vegetable garden, and feed my animals. After work I sit on my porch in my rocking chair and drink a glass of lemonade with a smile on my face and enjoy the simpler times. I haven’t regretted my decision yet and I don’t think I ever will. The simpler times are better times.
What a Mistaka to Maka
Dani J. Caile
The judge’s gavel broke the silence. Our marriage had officially ended. I couldn’t say it was all bad but it certainly wasn’t good.
I met her some forty years ago at a drive-in movie. She wasn’t even my date. That one had left me for the guy in the Corvette a few cars back. If I remember right, they got married, too, but she took all he had soon after. Anyway, it started to rain, and as I was leaving before the movie finished – don’t ask me which movie, does that matter? We were there for the chance of getting lucky – I almost drove right into her. Well, she was wearing black. sitting in the rain, raindrops falling over her. She didn’t seem to care that she was getting wet, but when my front wing just missed her head, well, I can’t tell you what her first words to me were because that wouldn’t be right.
I bumped into her the next day at the shops. Gave her an apology and somehow after some chat got a date, a picnic. It was summer, it seemed the best thing to do. Now that was some picnic! The sandwiches weren’t good but the dessert… let’s just say it wasn’t pancakes!
Before a year was up, we were married and expecting a kid. What we got was the twins, and they were a handful! I’ve got a picture of them somewhere, Max sitting on her lap with Jess next to them, kicking away with his feet. It’s a bit blurry, but then that was life then. It all went so quickly, we did what we had to do, they grew up, flew the nest, both got a wife and kids of their own. And I was left with her. Christina. The bitch from hell. Without the kids, without anything to focus on as we were both kinda settled into our jobs, I could see why all those years ago she was sitting in the rain at the drive-in. What a cow. What a witch. Nothing was good enough for her, absolutely nothing. Every day was a grind, moving on from one demand to the other, listening to her scream and shout about how I hadn’t done this or how I hadn’t fixed that.
So I left. I took my things and just left. Turns out that was the best thing for both of us.At first I occasionally drove by to see how the old house was, and she was there, watering the flowers out the front, smiling, content with life, humming away as she used to do when the kids were at home. And now, well, I got a small place out in the suburbs, not such a good neighborhood but whatever, and most of my spare time I spend fishing out by the lakes or tampering with the car.
Oh, everyone’s leaving. Time to look her in the eye and say goodbye one last… hang on! What? She… she’s a man? How can that be? Is that even possible? What about the twins? And the…? My life, my whole life…with a man?
S. C. Jensen
Mama’s lap was too warm to be comforting on a day like this. A film of dampness stuck our clothes together and held us apart. But I needed the closeness even when it made us both miserable. This was the one thing I could still ask for which she couldn’t refuse; the one piece of her, and our life together, that remained unchanged since He left.
The sun beat down on my head with anxious positivity. It reminded me of how happy everyone else was. Relentless. Sweat beaded on my forehead and stung my eyes. I wiped it away, and wiped away my tears. Mama’s clammy hand smoothed my hair and fought the urge to push her away.
“Come and play with us!” I heard the voice before I saw anything. Through the sweat and tears she appeared as a halo of blue before me. I could see the trail of her movement lingering behind her like a map of where she had been. Or perhaps where she was going.
“Vance!” Caroline’s face came into focus suddenly, like she’d twisted the dial on my brain and forced me to look at her. Beautiful Lina, all blonde hair and icy blue cornflowers. “We’re playing tag. You’re it!”
Caroline ran, that blue streak chasing her deep into the trees of the park. She left a trail of cornflowers behind her. And I ran. It was as if her momentum was contagious. I longed to feel the wind against my skin, to cool the cloying heat of sadness that surrounded my mother. I followed Lina into the trees, not knowing or caring who else was playing with us, or where they might have gone. I was it, and she was mine.
I couldn’t see her anymore, but I heard her giggling. A tiny blue blossom lay beneath the great oak tree at the centre of the grove. I crept toward it on tip-toe. Lina peered around the trunk at me, smiling impishly. Then I knew, yes! She could make me happy. The canopy swelled and thickened above us, like a bower. Our own place, just for us, protected from the heat of the sun and of the sadness of adults. I reached out my hand and—
“Caroline!” The voice pierced my reverie, painfully. The spell was broken. “Time to go!”
I followed Lina out of the trees without a word; she went to her mother and didn’t look back. I stumbled toward the picnic. It lay spread, wasted, before a line of empty lawn chairs.
“Where’s Mama?” Wind and the feet of careless children had tossed the red and white gingham blanket into her ambrosia salad.
“It’s six o’clock.” My older brother perched on her chair, his eyes pinched.
“Where’s Mama?” Wasps hovered over the honey ham, droning a languid kind of warning.
“She’s at the drive-in with Paul. ‘Love Story,’” he said. “Let’s go home. Don’t be a baby.”
I turned around again to look for Caroline, but she was gone. All I had left was one little blue flower in my hand. And it was wilting in the heat of my hand.
My daughter pleaded, “Please.” My thoughts drifted as memories from my childhood came to mind.
Both of my parents worked and had very little time for frivolous things like playing, joking around and showing affection. I thought that was normal; until I met Brian. Brian lived on the other side of the tracks.
I met Brian during third-grade recess. He was hanging upside down on the jungle gym when I climbed on and hung upside-down next to him. I glanced over and asked if he came here often. He shushed me and stated he was an opossum and was trying to sleep. We hung there in silence the entire recess and when the bell rang, we walked back to class together. From then on, we were inseparable.
One day, I walked to Brian’s house and was standing outside on the sidewalk when their whole family returned from a picnic. His dad was yelling at Brian’s mother. She was crying and all the kids were morbidly silent as they followed their fighting parents into the house. Brian paused as he passed by to suggest this wasn’t a good time. He went on inside, but then his father came back out. He was a big, uneducated, intimidating man, with huge rough hands and a five-o’clock shadow. He spoke so gently as he apologized for the scene I had just witnessed I was taken completely off guard. I could scarcely believe he would take the time to check on my feelings. Many times I had heard this man tell Jimmy he loved him and I admired Jimmy’s father for that, but his compassion extended to people outside the family as well. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t recall my father ever treating me with the same level of … connection.
Some time later, I was over at Jimmy’s when his parents decided to take the family to the drive-in. They invited me to come along. The whole family sang songs all the way there. It was great fun. They bought us popcorn, hot dogs and cokes, and I knew their money was tight. Their older kids were in the back seat while Jimmy and I were in front; I was by the door. I remember becoming sleepy after eating and trying to get comfortable. Jimmy’s mom reached over, smiled at me, put her arm around me, and pulled me into her side where I snuggled in and fell asleep. She seemed so sweet and kind. I seldom got this kind of physical affection from my own mother. I thought, “Jimmy’s the luckiest boy in the world.”
“Dad?” My eyes refocused onto my daughter. I got down to look my daughter and her friend, Maggie, in the eyes. I smiled, put an arm around each one, and said, “Maggie, we’d love to have you join us. Would you ask your parents if you can come with us to Disney World? All expenses paid!” At that, the two girls squealed and leapt for joy as they ran off to set things in motion.
I thought, “There’s always room for one more.”