Tag Archives: parenting

These Are The Days

Somewhere in Karlovy Vary © Google Maps

Eliška wrested the handlebars away and charged toward the bike path. “I’m going to learn to ride,” she said. “And then I’ll ride everywhere. I’ll ride to school, and to the store, and…”

As her voice faded into the distance, Aneta reached for my hand. “That Eliška,” she said, repeating the oft-said refrain. That Eliška, always charging off into the future.

“Yes, indeed.” I tousled her hair, then looked up the path. By now, Eliška had fallen. She bounded up, brushing off with one hurried hand.

“Are you okay?” I yelled.

She waved. “By tomorrow, I’ll be the fastest rider in the world.”

“Remember when Eliška flew the kite?” Aneta asked.

“I do, kuřátko.”

“Those were the days, weren’t they mámi?” My earnest Aneta, always looking back. My girls, so different. I touched her chin. She tipped her head, smiling.

These are the days, I wanted to tell her.

149 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

Sometimes inspiration is hard to find. And sometimes life delivers you these brilliant moments of bottomless gratitude, and all you have are words to tell them, and words are not enough. So you try anyway. And what you wind up with–in this particular case–is this story.


I will believe

“Everything will be okay,” he said. My husband reached to take my hands but I held them curled around my belly.

“They can’t get me in until tomorrow.” Just saying it ached.

Tomorrow. 10:45 am Tuesday, otherwise known as an eternity away. An eternity of tenuous trips to the bathroom, each time with my breath caught in my throat. Fearing for the inevitable stain that marked the end of another pregnancy.

“Was there a lot of—” and there he paused, held the word out as if on tongs at arm’s length. “Blood?”

Guys can’t deal. They just can’t. And he should know that any is too much. And waiting twenty hours for an appointment is too fucking long. Especially when you know at the end of it lays the inevitable news: You’ve lost the baby. Again.


“Everything is okay.”

ultrasoundDr. Zhang smiled and handed me a printout. I took it with both hands and stared: my baby. Dancing. Heart rate 149. Tae-Bo-Baby caught mid-stride, giving the ultrasound a thumbs up.

“It’s going to be okay,” I whispered. Pulled the paper to my chest, carried it to the car, smoothed it against my cheek. Slept with it on the nightstand and reminded myself: It’s going to be okay. Said it daily. Hourly. Sometimes minute-to-minute and every second as needed. You can’t take these things for granted. If I’ve learned anything in life, I learned that one cold.

Thirty weeks later, my son made his squalling entrance. “Winner baby,” they called him. Sunny nurses passed him around maternity and smiled. My miracle.

Flip through the deck of years, past the three days in the hospital at eighteen months with that nasty virus that ravaged his belly and left dark circles under his eyes for weeks. Past that frantic trip to the ER in Jackson Hole, hotel towel pressed to his forehead to stanch the bleeding. Past that day I heard the terrible crash and ran to find him wailing at the bottom of the stairs with one crumpled forearm. Past kindergarten, that first boisterous sleepover. That dastardly riding tractor with the glitchy go-pedal. Training wheels off and full speed ahead and now he’s thirteen and towering over me.

“Six months, twenty-three days and four hours until I get my learner’s permit,” he says.

My kid. Grinning and dark. Sarcastic and bright. Poised on the brink of greatness or disaster. Don’t think I don’t know–I was thirteen once. And fourteen. And dear God, seventeen. I know well the peril coiled inside every possibility.

I wonder at the cards still waiting in the deck.

“Don’t worry Mom, I drove the golf cart in the Bahamas. I’m a really good driver. Everything will be okay.” He pats my head. He thinks it’s cute, that he can do that. That Mom is little, past is past, and his whole future lies ahead.

Everything will be okay.

I will believe.

I must.


The Atacolypse

It’s a snow day here and Noble Hamster (my eleven-year-old) and I are up to no good. We’ve been concocting some flash fiction which I can only attribute to a love of fart jokes and fast food:


The Atacolypse

I was outside, hanging with my buddy Stanley, when the first one streaked across the sky. It was shooting flames and smelling like nachos supreme.

“What was it? A meteor? An asteroid?” Stanley asked.

I watched the smoke fade and another zoom along the same path. “No. I think it was…a taco.” Just then, an explosion lit the western horizon, followed by more blinding streaks from left to right. A volley of hard-shells landed at the edge of the back yard.

“Crap! Incoming! We gotta get inside.” Stanley turned, started for the back door and was blindsided by an enormous burrito.

It was like I’d always heard it would be…

When they built the Comida Loca factory at the west edge of town, my dad said it’d end badly. I figured it was his dislike of Southwestern cuisine talking. But he’d predicted: someday escaping gas from the frijole vat would ignite when it came into contact with Papa Juan’s Atomic Hot Sauce.

The explosions were pelting me–and all the fine folks of Hopetown–with a flying taco bar of terror.

“Dude, get up!” I shouted to Stanley.

He moaned and wiped sour cream out of his eye. “I’m not gonna make it. You go on ahead.” He licked a finger. “The seven-layer burrito is awesome.”

“We don’t have time for you get lunch. Someone’s got to stop this.”

“What are we gonna do?”

People always made fun of my dad, like saying he was one fish taco short of a Fiesta Pack. But he’d said this would happen. He’d been prepping for this sort of disaster for years, laying in a stockpile of gas masks and super soakers. By now, he had enough mild salsa and Beano to sink a king-sized combo of Run-For-The-Border-Destruction.

Stanley followed me into the garage where we loaded our weapons with salsa and put on our gas masks. “You really think it’s gonna work?” he asked.

“It has to.”

Once we were packing spicy heat, we hopped on our bikes and rode in the opposite direction, making a grande lasso around Hopetown. The south side of the factory was wide open, just like Dad always said it would be. We walked in the open doors, our footsteps echoing in the empty corridors. Every now and then, we stepped over a glassy-eyed victim, overcome by the toxic fumes.

“Is there anything we can do for them?” Stanley asked.

“Once we can contain the frijole vat, the air will clear and they’ll be fine,” I said.

The smell inside was worse than anything I’d ever imagined–even with our gas masks on. Worse than the time my Uncle Neal stayed with us after ordering the black bean soup at Mariana’s.

Suddenly, I realized Stanley was gone. I turned back to find him lying in a heap–knocked unconscious by the noxious fumes. I ran back, lifted off his mask and checked for a pulse. “I’m okay,” he coughed. “It’s up to you dude. You’re going to have to save us all.”

I tossed his broken gas mask to the side, ripped off my own and sucked in one last breath. Strapping the mask to his head, I said, “Hang in there,” and headed into the mayhem.

What was happening on the factory floor was like nothing I’d ever seen. Shards of broken taco shells flew everywhere over a slippery carpet of hot sauce. I held the salsa blaster in one hand and a high-powered Beano launcher in the other, my eyes darting everywhere as I searched for the source of the explosions.

The vat gurgled and sputtered like a contestant on the final round of a chimichanga eating contest. I fired a long blast of mild salsa at the thing. It creaked and moaned and grew larger before my eyes. I realized then that it was only seconds away from blowing completely and covering all of Hopetown with a refried paste of tortilla-torture. With all I had, I launched a dozen Beano capsules at it. One sparked. I dipped and dodged as tacos and nacho cheese flew past on all sides.

Still straining to hold my breath, I dove for cover behind a palette of enchilada sauce containers and launched a double dose of Beano at the thing. The container shuddered and with a mighty belch it let out one last gasp of foul air. I could hold my breath no longer.

When I woke, I smelled the sweet scent of fresh-fried churros. Was this heaven?

“Thought we’d lost you,” Stanley said.

“No, no,” I said, pushing him away and getting up. “I’m okay, everything’s okay—now.”

“Darn tooting,” Stanley said. “And I’m starving. Wanna go to Taco Kidd?”

“You betcha. But do me one favor, will ya?”

“A course, what?”

“Hold the beans.”

Determination and Craft

Okay, I promise: this is not going to turn into one of those blogs where I talk about my kids and dogs incessantly. Because ultimately, this is supposed to be about writing. Well ultimately, everything is about writing for me these days, so bear with me.

This is not the post I planned to write. But, plans are that—only plans, and I spent last evening at the ER. Noble Hamster came down with a sudden, blinding stomach pain. I’ve never seen the kid so miserable and he’s the one who didn’t flinch, even as a doctor put five stitches to his forehead.

So last night I called the pediatrician and immediately after, we left—sans shoes and coats, dinner half-eaten. What we thought was appendicitis turns out to be the sort of sick we’ll most likely all get to experience for ourselves in a few days.

We got back late last night, too late to get the prescription but with enough time to go through our nightly drama about putting on PJs, brushing teeth and going to bed.

By dawn, we’d gone through two entire sets of clean bed sheets and I found myself raiding the basement at 2:00 a.m. for a sleeping bag for the kid, since we were out of blankets. The dog then subsequently pooped on the puke-soaked mattress and followed that up by chewing an enormous hole in it. And while I can say that I’ve had a bad night, I guess I can be comforted by the fact that it wasn’t as bad as the mattress’s.

At this point, with only minutes until I need to get ready for work, I need to find clean jeans so Twister doesn’t have the trauma of going to school pants-less, I have a mammoth mountain range of laundry, I see undone dishes littering the sink and remembrances of last night’s dinner all over the kitchen.

And this point, showering is practically a luxury and yet here I sit, writing. Blogging no less, and I wonder, will I ever finish HitList? I started it March 2nd of last year. Now, with the end so tantalizingly close, it seems there will always be Boy Scouts or peewee tennis, or kids’ birthday parties, or school plays, or dog obedience classes and the part that’s mine–the writing–just drops off the list. Not out of  laziness– but out of necessity.

But I swear. And by writing this, while I should be doing ten million other things, I do hereby solemnly swear and promise, I will write. I will finish my book. And while I may never be published and nary a soul may ever read it, I swear:

I will write.

Why Write?

The Wizard

By Sean McGrath from Quispamsis, NB, Canada (The Wizard Uploaded by Hekerui) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek at a new book by my most favorite author—the one who inspired me to write. I was thrilled and blown away by his latest novel-in-the-works. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I’m going to share a snippet with you here:

Frindifel was a great Highthur, almost as good as my father, not some murding Orc or a lazy Elf or one of those stubby Dwarves. He patted Hina’s mane. “Just a bit further,” he said.

What did I like so much about him? Maybe it was his wizard-looking aspects: his cloak and all that gray hair.

Okay, okay, so it’s more than a little Hobbity. And I’m not sure you can rightfully use Orcs unless you are J.R.R. Tolkien. And no, I don’t know what murding is, but I do so hope it’s not a misspelling and was supposed to be “murdering”. “Murding” conjures the Dark Ages and makes me wonder—is it a crime of gluttony? Poor hygiene? I don’t know, but that alone makes me want to read more.

This writer’s previous book featured a trio of friends battling villains from Greek mythology. The one before that was about a most noble hamster. You may have guessed by now my favorite author is Noble Hamster, my eleven-year-old.

When I read his stuff, I’m struck by its innate magic and I say to him, “You must write.”

“It’s not that great.” He shrugs and wanders off to play Minecraft.

Yeah, I’m biased. I won’t argue that. But to me, he does so much right in just those five sentences. Showing rather than telling, varying sentence length and structure, elegantly mixing dialogue with narrative, gently weaving in scene and setting… And forgive me this shameless mom-moment when I say–I think the kid has voice, that thing no one can teach. I think he has it in spades and I’m more than a little jealous at the ease with which he scribbled this off. C’mon people, he’s eleven.

From time to time, when I was in school, a teacher would pull me aside, clutch my elbow and give me and intense look. “You must write,” they’d say. At the time, I figured they were just trying to keep me from sneaking out to the parking lot to smoke cigarettes. Believe me, I wasn’t penning anything half as luminous as the stuff my son writes.

I’ll probably never know what prompted their advice, but I know what I want to say to my son: Don’t waste it. Put your words to the page–because you can. Share your hopes and dreams and visions; bring your inner world to life. Maybe you’ll never capture an audience beyond yourself. But if you possess the desire or talent to write, or some happy combination of both, just do it.

And yes, I know ‘just do it’ is not original.

And no, I’m not just taking to him, I’m talking to you.

And I still hope he meant “murding” Orcs.