‘Don’t stare, dear. I know – it’s distressing. Concentrate, now. Don’t crash on your first lesson.’
‘But who did that to her?’
‘Someone who claims to love her. When I was young it was common. We’d just discovered what was possible, found our wings. Some of us went a bit silly with the joy of it; and who could blame us?
‘They said it was unnatural. Snapped on real chains where we’d previously only had the chains in our own minds keeping us on the ground.’
‘I’m scared, Grandma.’
‘No need. Spin those pedals. Plenty of space up here. Let’s fly.’
I struggled for an idea for this week’s Friday Fictioneers link-up, and then came May the 4th – International Star Wars Day, with a feast of John Williams’s music on my favourite classical music station (ABC Classic FM), and a passing reference to this scene – not from Star Wars.
“You give the signal if anyone comes,” my brothers would say. “You’re too little to come in.”
They played ‘snowman’. They’d throw the powdery stuff around until they became three pale ghosts. Standing guard near the gaping fence where they’d clambered through, I’d listen to their breathless laughter.
For years afterwards they’d reminisce, reliving their antics in the derelict factory that was demolished before I grew old enough to join their game.
Tonight I’m on guard again, at another hospital bedside, listening as the last of them struggles for breath.
Outside, soft drifts of snow have turned the world white.
This is my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.
If I curl up everywhere except in the poxy kitty bed I’m supposed to love, that’s their fault.
If I yowl under their bedroom window every night; if I deposit half-chewed carcasses of their favourite backyard birds on the doorstep; if I scratch their woodwork, dig up their petunias, poo on the carpet—it’s their fault.
I could have given them so much—snuggled, purred, gazed devotedly.
I’d have put up with almost any indignity.
But not what they did.
They called me Mouse. They thought it was cute—thought I wouldn’t understand.
Let me admit straight up that I know very little about cats. I’ve been friends with quite a few dogs during my life, and I’m of the opinion that one knows where one stands with a dog. My cat owning friends might extol their puss’s affection, devotion and loyalty, but I’m not convinced. Just look into the watchful, yellow-green eyes of any cat and tell me it’s not plotting something devious.
They were just kids. They arrived right on closing time wanting coffees, extra hot, and Gina opened the till for their money.
Darlene waited, wishing they’d leave, worried about her own kids left alone while she worked nights.
Suddenly Gina screamed and clutched her face, dripping coffee, and they clambered over the counter, grabbed fistfuls of cash and ran. Darlene froze, then snapped into action—cold water for the scald; call the police. Then she spotted the open till, the stacks of notes they’d missed.
Nobody would blame her. Nobody would know. For once her rent would be paid on time.