Bookpunk

art

© Sue Vincent

Eleven-year-old Keel watched his thirteen-year-old sister Alina from behind as she trudged down the alleyway. "C'mon. Don't wanna b late," she signaled.

The thin, waif-like boy, walking through January’s half-frozen muddy puddles in dirty, sandaled feet, dressed in over-sized khaki shorts with hems down to his shins, and a ratty green sweater made from an old Army blanket, heard her synthesized voice and simultaneously saw the text on his head’s up.

"Geek off. We've got time," was his caustic reply. He had slowed so he could look at Gemmi’s tagging, he was pretty sure it was her work, freshly painted on the old bricks. He was oblivious to the cold breeze from behind, blowing his matted, tortilla-colored hair with violet tips (all that was left of last November’s dye job) into his eyes.

"This is more important than your hotties for Gemmi." She impatiently grabbed his wrist, causing him to regard his sib for the first time that morning. She covered the holes in her thin, coffee-stained white tank top with a black leather vest, the one she ripped off from the dying multiplex in the burbs last month. There were just as many holes in her black yoga pants (she liked retro), and if he’d listen to her actual voice instead of what came through the interface, he’d have heard the faint, metallic click as numerous piercings colliding in her mouth when she spoke.

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Quoting: Show Children Their Greatness

Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein wrote:

“The way to educate youngsters is to elevate them by pointing out the greatness they can achieve by utilizing their potential.”

Sources: Ohr Yechezkel – Michtavim, p.219; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.133

Familiar

girl and cat

– PrettyScary @ Deviantart

Christina rubbed her soft, feline fur against Gwendolyn’s face as the ten-year-old girl looked into the distance at nothing and everything.

“Yes, I can see it now, too, dearest.” The child was entranced at the interplay between energies from four of the ten dimensions.

“Silly little one, Christina chided. I detected the intermix ages ago.” In mid-sentence, the white cat’s tone changed from one of annoyance to affection, for she dearly loved the girl, and she always would.

“That’s because you are wise.” To anyone looking at the scene, the fifth grader was lying on her bed on a lazy Wednesday afternoon after school, contemplating gray clouds which threatened rain later in the evening. Yet gazing into her eyes, it would have been easy to tell that they might as well have been blind, at least to anything in the so-called “real world.”

“It’s best not to get too lost in the vision, my sweet, lest you lose your way and be forever swept into other spaces.”

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Sunday Afternoon, a Little Girl, a Tree, and Dragons

I was spending time drawing with my three-year-old granddaughter, and while she was scribbling on her piece of paper, I borrowed another she’d lightly worked on and added a few things.

I can see all the colors of autumn out my back window, so naturally, I started with a tree. Then, because I read one of my dragon stories to my nine-year-old grandson earlier, I had to add a few of them.

Enjoy.

© James Pyles

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Do Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie Absolutely Have to be Gay? No, and Here’s Why

bert and ernie

Sesame Street’s characters Bert and Ernie

Recently, as reported at Newshub, screenwriter Mark Saltzman, himself a gay man, told LGBT news site Queerty that the beloved Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie were created based on his own loving relationship with a man. Of course, in the Newshub article, Saltzman back peddled a bit, but too late to quell the internet buzz, including on twitter.

Among other rumors was the idea that the two muppets were going to publicly come out as gay on the Sesame Street show and even get married.

Wait! What? On a television show made for pre-school age children?

Even the (in my opinion) left-leaning Snopes.com declared that rumor as false.

And yet, an opinion piece at Chron.com declares It matters that Bert and Ernie are a happy gay couple, and here’s why. Here’s the core of the article by Nora Reed:

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What’s Important

baby

© James Pyles

I’ve been thinking about what is and isn’t important lately. Yes, there are a lot of arguments on the web positing this cause or that as important, and the authors declaring anyone who isn’t wildly enthusiastic, embracing, and endorsing of their project as horrible, terrible human beings.

Oh well.

I admit to being caught up in all that from time to time…okay, most of the time, but then I stop and realize that for the sake of my emotional and mental health, I can’t let other people or groups wind me up like I’m their toy doll. For instance, occasionally, I’ll get a troll in my one of my social media feeds attempting to rile me, but when I confront him, he denies it, saying he was just trying to understand my position more.

So it goes. Most of the time, I don’t even respond to him. His presence is almost always one where I can predict what he’ll say and even on which of my posts he’ll respond. A few others like him who used to do something similar, while remaining my Facebook “friends” or following me on twitter, otherwise are absent, but I must admit, I have also “muted” them as well, again because I don’t need the aggravation (and now that I’ve satisfied the requirements of Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Opposing Forces challenge, on with the show).

So what is important? Lots of things, but I’m going to focus on my three-year-old granddaughter. My son and his ex are divorced and one week the kids stay with their Mom, while the opposing week they stay with their Dad (and with us much of the time).

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Buying a Memory

donut dog

© Yinglan Z.

“You’ve got to be kidding.” It was Martin’s first reaction to his wife Helen’s suggestion. “You want to buy this…this thing for our three-year-old granddaughter?”

“It’s adorable.”

“It’s ridiculous, and it’s made of porcelain. Couldn’t we get her a gift that won’t break when she drops it?”

“But she’ll love it.”

“She’ll love a lot of things that are cuter, less expensive, and less fragile.”

“But Marty…”

“Okay, let’s have it. What’s the real reason?”

Helen looked down at her shoes and when she faced Martin again, he saw tears streaming down her cheeks. He put his hands gently on her shoulders.

“What is it?” His voice was calm, soft, almost a whisper.

“My Grandpa gave something just like it to me for my fifth birthday. He…he died of a heart attack a month later.”

Martin pulled his wife close and held her. “Alright. We’ll get it for her.”

“Marty? Marty, you make me so happy.”

“But we’ll keep it high up on a shelf so she can admire until she’s older.”

I wrote this for the 180th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 172.

Yes, I think donut dog is ridiculous, too. However, I had to think of some reason for validating this choice of gift.

My son is divorced and the visitation schedule for his two children is that they spend one week with their Mom and the alternating week with him (and us). In addition, due to my ex-daughter-in-law’s work schedule, we babysit our three-year-old granddaughter Monday through Wednesday on her week.

My grandson has favorite stuffed animals that he carries back and forth for a sense of stability, but up until now, my granddaughter hasn’t done so. Yesterday, my wife took our granddaughter to the store and bought her an “Elsa” backpack plus two special stuffed animals she can always keep with her, just like her brother. They look ridiculous, but she adores them, and I adore her.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

It’s Not a Scarecrow

scarecrow

© Anurag Bakhshi

“You know, I don’t think the flower bed is in danger from crows, Lindsey.” Kurt stood with his six-year-old daughter admiring their handiwork.

“I know that, Daddy. I just thought the flowers could use some company when we’re not around.” She stood, hands on hips, pride written all over her face.

“Well, you sure made good use of those old clothes we were going to donate to the thrift store.”

When she didn’t answer, he looked down and saw tears in her eyes. Kneeling, he put his arms around her and Lindsey held onto him tightly. “I know you miss her.”

“Why did Grandma have to die?”

“That’s why you wanted to make this, didn’t you? So we wouldn’t give away her clothes.”

“I miss her.”

“It’s okay. I miss her, too. We’ll keep anything of hers you want. I promise.”

I wrote this for the August 19th edition of Sunday Photo Fiction. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 141. I know. I usually push the word count to the limit, but I didn’t need so many this time around.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Magical Backyard

dragonfly

In form and name, the blue dasher dragonfly illustrates the beauty and flying prowess of these insects. (Photo: Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock)

“What’s that, Grandpa?” The little three-year-old girl was out in the old man’s backyard exploring as usual, while her grandfather watched from a chair on the patio.

“It’s a dragonfly, Dani.”

“Dragonfly?” She looked in wonder as the insect alighted onto one of the potted tomato plants at the edge of the concrete.

“Yes, it’s a flying bug.”

“A bug?” She looked down and cried out excitedly. “Here are some more bugs.” She squatted and pointed her finger.

“Yes, those are ants.”

“Ants?” She acted like she’d never heard the word before.

“Look on the fence.”

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The Street Children’s Mother

kinshasa

© Google 2014 – Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mamadou, Karla, and Bonte were trapped in the alley by the policeman.

“I’ll give you little street rats what you deserve,” he said, unzipping his trousers.

Mamadou was nine, the oldest, and Bonte was eight. The boys got in front of five-year-old Karla, for though man would abuse them all, he would start with her.

“We’re just trying to get some food.”

“I’ve got what you need right here.” He exposed his genitals, which was a common and hated sight to them.

Then a huge shadow blocked the light from the street.

“What is…?” He stopped talking and gazed up at the dragon in terror. A swat of her tail, and he lay broken on the ground.

“I will not hurt you, children.” Her voice was a mother’s kindness. “I will take you home with me.”

Three pairs of eyes were wide with wonder as they entered a different world.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. I found my hook when I read about the estimated 20,000 children living on the street, almost a quarter of them beggars, and how they are frequently abused by the police. I leveraged my “Davidson Children” story (I finally finished the first draft of my novel), since the dragons’ city in exile is a haven for abandoned and dying children from all around the world and across human history.

I figured these children could use a mother.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.