Growing Back

overgrown city

Found at playstationlifestyle.net – no image credit available

“I’ll be out front taking care of the weeds, Diane.” Rudy Harper was yelling as he held the door open between the laundry room and the garage.

“Okay.” He could hear her well enough, though she was in the kitchen.

He shut the door. The garage was already open to the driveway so he had plenty of light to see. He wasn’t in a good mood, and was muttering to himself as he opened one of the utility cabinets. “Freaking summer. Everybody loves freaking summer. Gonna be another scorcher today, freaking hundred degrees at least. There. Gotcha.” He pulled the bottle of weed killer and a pair of gloves out and closed the cabinet.

Putting on the gloves, he wielded his weapon, preparing to vanquish one of his sworn enemies. “Freaking weeds, always growing up through the cracks in the concrete. Got the lawn mowed and edged early enough, but I’ll end up sweating like a pig over the damn weeds.”

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The Karma of Rachel Silverstein

jewish quarter

Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem – Found at Israel Tours.

Rachel Silverstein found the Torah stifling. She’d been born and raised in Crown Heights, the home of the followers of the Rebbe in Brooklyn, and when she was twenty, she took a sabbatical to study in Israel.

“But Rabbi, our traditions and practices are so primitive. I don’t understand why a woman can’t be a Rabbi, or daven wearing tefillin and a tallit. Didn’t Hashem create us all, men and woman in His image?

Rachel and Rabbi Bergman were walking together in the Jewish quarter of the Old City on a pleasant spring afternoon on a Thursday discussing her struggles with being an observant Jew.

“I fear you left home to pursue a secular education too soon.”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanted to broaden your horizons. Most of the Haradi here study Talmud to the exclusion of even basic mathematics.”

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Last Stand

wave

© Sue Vincent

“Archers! At the ready!” Petran gave the command to his meager squad of elven soldiers as they formed a perimeter around the five Davidson children and the magician Raibyr. Nine-year-old Taylor was at the center with his siblings when he remembered he also had his bow and arrows.

The wind was frigid and fierce, which fortunately made the attacking Beelzebub horde uncertain in the air, but would also make accuracy with the bow extremely difficult.

The sense of the warrior Azzorh within Taylor came over him, and he nocked his first arrow.

The bat-winged demons were in as tight a formation as possible given the storm that was tracking toward the party from the west; a massive cloud of swollen, sickly green flies whose home was sewage, and whose taste was for blood.

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Happily Ever After?

extortion

Photo: Natalie Orenstein, Berkeleyside

“Do you believe in happily ever after?” Kristy popped another one of her strange questions as she and her fiancée Mike were standing in line for the sando of the day, which today was Green Garlic Roasted Beef.

“No. Nothing is forever including happiness.”

“We’re going to get married in a month. Doesn’t that make you happy?”

“Of course it does, otherwise we wouldn’t be getting married.”

“Next.” Aaron, one of the butcher shop’s owners, was at the counter today and Mike felt embarrassed that his conversation with Kristy had kept him waiting.

“Two sandos of the day, Aaron.”

“Coming right up,” he said signaling a new hire who was helping him out over the lunch rush. “By the way, I agree with Mike. Happiness isn’t forever.”

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When Jimmy Was Five

flamingo

Spanish Flamingo Dancer circa 1950 – Photo credit unknown

When Jimmy was five, he got in the car with Mom and Dad and they went for a ride. Jimmy was worried when they drove through the little town with all the broken buildings. Little boys and girls like him had no pants on and were going wee-wee in the ditch. Why didn’t their Moms and Dads give them clothes?

When Jimmy was five, Mom and Dad took him to Sevilla. They walked and walked and walked through museums and up and down streets until his feet were really sore.

When Jimmy was five, Dad dressed him up in a costume with a short blue cape with glitter on it and a black bolero hat. They went to something called a Fiesta which was a big, big party all over the city. Dad wanted to take Jimmy’s picture with two older Spanish girls, but he was too shy.

When Jimmy was five, Dad took him outside one night and showed him the stars in the sky. Then he pointed to something bright in the sky and said it was Sputnik. Sputnik was something people had put in the sky by launching it on a rocket. Dad said someday, rockets would take people into space, too.

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The Dragon’s Library

library

Image found at “Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.” No image credit listed.

It was a dream come true. Somehow, along with all of the children, a library had been brought from her world into the dragon city in the trees. Nine-year-old Paris walked inside with a solemnness usually reserved for a holy place, like the synagogue her parents took her to in Prague when she was six.

The library had merged with the forest. Trees were growing inside and bursting through the ceiling, and grasses were taking over the floorboards. She wondered where and when it came from. The globe in the corner didn’t look modern, but most of the books she could see seemed recent.

Then she realized only some of them were in English, and about only half were written in any human language.

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Keisha in Atomworld

light

Image: © Mara Eastern (Use with permission)

They always say “never go into the light,” kind of like “moths drawn to a flame,” but seventeen-year-old Keisha didn’t have a choice. Well, that wasn’t true. She did have a choice. She could choose to let the world burn, but after two astonishing adventures into another reality, she’d gotten used to saving it instead.

Whatever was shining through the kitchen door from the backyard started thirty minutes ago. That had given her enough time to put on the ridiculous costume that looked like a refuge from the first “Back to the Future” movie. When she saw her reflection in the mirror, there was a black version of “I Love Lucy” staring back.

She’d crossed the void to the other world twice before. The first time was in a steampunk-styled airship, and the second was in a deep purple 1930s sedan with the strangest radio in the world. What would she find this time when she walked into the brilliant amber glare?

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Darfur Misspelled

Bashir

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, president of Sudan, sits in the Plenary Hall of the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the 12th African Union Summit Feb. 2, 2009. The assembly endorsed the communique, issued by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, to defer the process initiated by the International Criminal Court to indict Bashir.

Ali Garang Salah stared into the black mirror and saw his past.

He was only five years old the first time he was raped. They murdered his Father right before his eyes, then raped and murdered his Mother and three sisters. The Sudanese soldier took a liking to little Ali, or so he said, and spared his life.

The little boy “served” the soldier, who he was ordered to call “Master,” until he was seven and old enough to use his rapist’s own knife to slit his throat.

He was found by foreign aid workers when he was nine and working as a prostitute in the back alleys of Juba. They put him in an orphanage, but he ran away. He was put back again after a hospital reported him. The beating he’d taken from one of his “customers” was worse than usual. A broken arm this time.

An American woman, a physician from something called “Doctors without Borders,” took pity on him and convinced her husband they should adopt him. It was a miracle that only a year passed before his survival instincts told him it was better to pretend to adapt to life in suburban home in San Diego.

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The Forest

spiral staircase

© Sue Vincent

The Beginning of the Saga of the Davidson Children

Five children abruptly found themselves at night in a dark forest being drenched during a thunderstorm. “Mandy! What happened? Where’s Mom and Dad?” Thirteen-year-old Amanda Davidson felt panic rise her chest. Where were her brothers and sisters? What happened to their parents? How did they get here?

“I don’t know Paris. Stick with Taylor. Can you see Jake and Zooey?”

“Zooey’s here with me, Mandy.” Paris was holding her younger sister’s hand.

“Jake’s right next to me.” Taylor pulled his brother closer to him.

Mandy was trembling from the cold and terror at suddenly being alone with her brothers and sisters and lost in the dark.

“Everyone stay close to me. Paris, get right behind me. Jake and Zooey, get behind Paris. Taylor, you get behind Zooey and make sure everyone sticks together.”

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From the Mundane to the Magnificent

sprinkler head

Image found at gardenisto.com

The worst thing about the coming of Spring for Frank was fixing the sprinkler system. He had never been handy with tools like most of the other guys, and messing with this plumbing nightmare was a dread.

There were always a few sprinkler heads that refused to turn and ended up having to be replaced. Then he had to figure out how to set the distance and the arc for each of them, typically while they were running, making everything a wet, muddy mess. Of course, some of the sprinklers that did work, sprayed too wide or not wide enough, so they’d have to be dealt with as well.

At least this year, all the zones fired up right away, which meant the plumbing and electrical systems hadn’t been effected by the winter.

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