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Short Fiction Sunday- The truth about Lies

THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES

I walked up to the woden shack and peered inside the smoked-glass window.  I had a date to meet my writing buddies and loyal followers of my literary journey through the metaphorical woods. 

Okay, not so metaphorical.  I swung my canoe up and out, stopping briefly at the shoulder, then hip.  I propped it against the log building and wiped the sweat from my brow.  The woods were hot, as only a humid summer day can be in the Midwest.  I needed a drink and a break from the swarm of mosquitoes that had followed me along the path.  I was also late for my meeting.

I pushed my way inside and bellied up to the empty bar.   

“Tequila,” I said.  “With a clamato chaser.”

The barkeep eyed me skeptically.  “Odd drink of choice.”

I shrugged.  “I’m a writer.”  As if that would explain everything.  And it did.  In a sense.  Why else would I be portaging the BWCA?  I had something important to reveal and it had to be done in person. 

However, a quick glance around the room showed I was alone in the Cyber Cafe.  Alone with the multitude of stuffed, porcelain and painted calves that decorated the bar. 

“”Three seventy-five.”  The barkeep slammed a glass down in front of me.  Amber liquid sloshed over the rim and dribbled down the etched likeness of a cow. 

It was like a bad omen and I shivered slightly despite the summer heat.  I dug in my backpack for some change.  Organization had never been my strong suit.  Not since my big sister ran over my head with her blue banana seat bike.  I sported tire tracks on my forehead for days after that.  However, in moments like these, I felt my sis might be right that the damage was more than skin deep. 

I sighed and began emptying my bag onto the counter.  The barkeep blew out a sigh to rival my own as he watched the growing mound of junk.  Hair clips, chapstick, Kindle, trophy, kleenex…. 

“What’s this, eh?” 

I peered out from the depths of my backpack.  The barkeep held my blue and silver trophy in his hand.  His eyes gleamed for the first time.  “Oh, that’s nothing.”

“A tro-phy, eh?”  He reverently ran his fingers over the molded calf on top.  “Says ro-de-oh.”

My cheeks grew hot and I tugged at my collar, embarrassed that I felt the need to bring my trophy at all.  Yet I had a nagging suspicion my cyber buddies would have more than a nagging suspicion if I revealed the truth without proof. 

I reached for the trophy and popped it back in my bag.  I fished out my cash and dropped it on the counter, stood and scanned the room for my friends.  Their lateness had passed rude and was dangerously close to impertinent.  “What’s the name of this place?”

The barkeep shot me a look that said he was still unhappy about me pulling the trophy out of his hand.  “The Cyber Cafe.”

I paced.  Jean’s voice had been exactly how I pictured it when she explained the directions to our meeting place.  At the time, she had begged me to divulge my two truths and a lie.  I refused to give in.  Yet now, as I paced the back woods bar, my imagination took hold.  Maybe she was miffed with me for not telling her.  I shook my head.  Surely that wouldn’t be enough for her to misdirect me.

Eventually, the tequila ran right through me and I made my way to the restroom.  After washing my hands, I noted a sign on the door.  Thanks for stopping by the Cyber Calf.

A bad feeling settled over me as I made my way to the counter.  “What’s the name of this place again?”

The barkeep froze, his rag mid dry on the shot glass.  “I’ll tell ya for that neat little trophy you got.” 

I weighed my options.  I could hand over my championship trophy and figure out where the heck my journey had taken me, or I could stubbornly hold onto the only tangible evidence of my first place win (not second) and stay stranded forever. 

After adding to the barkeep’s growing collection of calf paraphenalia, I hoisted my canoe and made double time through the woods.  The trail ended beside a well-kept log cabin.  The Cyber Cafe.

It was with great relief that when I entered this bar, a crowd of familiar faces sat at a table with an open seat.  I dropped my backpack and plopped into the chair. 

“Sorry I’m late.”  I scanned the crew, putting faces to names in real time. 

Jean smiled, raised her margarita and said, “Must’ve made a pit stop at the Cyber Calf, eh?”

Welcome to Canada!

 

Short Fiction Sunday

THE EYES ON THE BACK OF MY HEAD

Mom said she had eyes on the back of her head, but I didn’t believe her.  Not until I grew my own.  Then I saw Mike Mansky try to put a dead frog in my hoodie.  I ducked and he flew over my back.  The frog did too.  It landed on Mike’s face.

Everyone laughed and Mike got detention for having a frog outside the science lab. 

Later I side-stepped his spit glob before it hit me in the head.  Then, I weaved around Principal Stiitz just as Mike leaned forward to put a note on my back.  His hand smacked a yellow sticky on Stiitz’s chest. 

He got two more days detention for calling the principal a dork.

I didn’t tell anyone about my new eyes.  They were my secret weapon against Mike Mansky.  And I knew all about secrets.   They lose their power when you talk about them.  I certainly didn’t want to lose my edge with the class bully. 

I called them my super-secret laser eyes.  Although that might have been a mistake.  As soon as I named them, I started seeing things.  And not just the people behind me.

My lasers saw right into them.  I couldn’t see their scrambled eggs sloshing in their stomachs or their blood pumping through their veins.  That would have been cool.  What I saw was worse.  Much worse.  I saw their secrets.

I saw Layinda’s heart beat for me.  It got really fast whenever I walked by.  I knew Toby brought his DS to school and that his stomach looked like a pot of rotten cabbage because of it.  I even saw that Principal Stiitz hit a car in the parking lot—and wasn’t going to tell. 

People were different on the inside.  My super-secret laser eyes saw things my real eyes couldn’t see.  Like how Layinda cried every night when kids called her fat or that Toby brought his DS to school so the other kids would pay attention to him.  He liked having friends more than he hated getting grounded.

Mr. Stiitz?  I won’t even talk about his insides.  It’s just too gross to think about.

The one that really bugged me though, was Mike Mansky.  His secret made him mean.  I saw things I never wanted to see.  I tried to close my eyes, but they must not have lids.  At night I scratched at them, but they wouldn’t go away.  Even the hottest shower didn’t burn them out.

When Mike chucked the ball at me in gym, I let it hit me in the back of the head.  Right between my eyes.  It stung worse than the flu shot, but it didn’t stop me from seeing.

I didn’t duck out of the way when he “accidentally” spilled his lunch tray.  My eyes saw right through the chicken noodle soup and chocolate pudding.  I cringed at what they saw.  I was lucky that Mike Mansky’s lunch was the only thing that hit me.

It was just too much.  That night I begged Mom for a haircut.  She buzzed it right down to the nubs. 

“Do you seen anything unusual?”  I hoped my eyes would disappear with my hair so short.

“Nothing at all.”  And I saw that Mom cheated on her diet with a piece of banana crème pie.  Worse, she was disappointed in me.  Again.  This time for snapping my little sister’s crayons.  I didn’t think she knew about that.  Or when I buried all of Janie’s dolls in the backyard.

That weekend I wore a stocking hat to hide from Mom’s secrets.  It seemed to help.  She didn’t like how weird I looked, but I refused to go out of my room without it.  On Monday Principal Stiitz didn’t like my new attire either.  He made me put my hat in my locker—right next to the dead mouse from Mike.

I went to the bathroom to throw up.  Not because of the mouse, but because of all the secrets swirling around in my head.  I had to tell someone before I exploded.

That someone happened to be Mike. 

He followed me into the bathroom.  He wanted to laugh about the decaying mouse.  Instead, I made him cry.

“I know about your secret.” 

Mike’s face turned red, then white.  His fists bunched up by his side.

“Your step-brother.  I know what he does.”

Mike growled and stepped closer to me.

“He put that mouse on your dinner plate last night.”

Mike shook his head.  “How could you know that?”

I almost told him about the eyes on the back of my head, but I told him the truth instead.  The one my mom sees when she looks at me.  “Cuz I’m a bully, too.”

People are different on the inside. 

Sitting on the bathroom floor, I told Mike Mansky about my super-secret laser eyes.  He told me why he picked on me.  We both found out I was right about secrets.  They lose their power when you talk about them.  And sometimes that’s a good thing.

Monday Musings

I learned five things this weekend:

  1. That fellow blogger Voidwalker smiles when he reads my blog.  I know this because he passed along a blog award.  More about that after I finish my list of five new things.
  2. That there is an absolutely amazing site for juvenile lit writers just waiting to be read.  Agent Mary Kole blogs at kidlit.com and has fantastic insight into the publishing world.  In addition, she is hosting a contest for writers.  If you’re interested in entering, check out the rules of her first chapter contest here.
  3. That I can still write short stories, and in fact, rediscovered my love for them after critiquing one for Michelle.  I set up a place on my sidebar that will take you to mine.  Just click on Short Fiction Sunday under The Things I Say on my sidebar.  I will try to post a new short once a week.
  4. That a little paint goes a long way in making old things sparkle and shine.  I helped DD repaint her room on Saturday.  We also applied some snazzy new colors to her old vanity.  Voila.  Elbow grease plus paint equals new digs.
  5. That I’m a bigger procrastinator than I originally thought.  DH had no problem pointing out that I have yet to start tanning for our fun in the sun vacay coming up.  I guess he doesn’t want to hang out alone while I keep my lobster butt in the shade.  

The 101 Sweet Friends Award

For this honor, I must post ten things that make me happy/smile.  In no particular order:

  1. Cauliflower and dip
  2. Hummingbirds
  3. Kids in general–mine in particular
  4. DH’s humor–I thank the Lord for his comedic outlook on life
  5. Which reminds me–my faith
  6. Flowers–and the fact that my summer office is my garden patio
  7. The written word–both reading and writing
  8. My friends
  9. My first bowl of chili each fall
  10. Family get-togethers

The rules also state I must pass this award onto seven bloggers who are either sweet or make me happy.  Like Voidwalker, I think handing an award out to gobs of people is like giving a participation award to all 4007 kids who competed in the tie your shoe race.  When everyone is special, no one is special.

And so I will pass along the names of the two bloggers that make my heart smile.  For my other faves check out my blogroll (like I do daily).  You might find a few you want to follow.

  1. Sweet goes to My Writing Masquerades, where excerpts and insights are beautifully written. 
  2. Happy goes to Elana Johnson.  I love her sense of humor.  She has tremendous kid appeal, and since I’m a nothing but a big kid, I laugh out loud when reading her posts.

For readers of YA, DD and I finished up our review on Kristin Cashore’s Graceling

What makes you smile?