My mom taught me a couple new swear words this morning on the way to school. Traffic was bad. I can’t tell you what they mean or even what they were without getting in trouble, but trust me when I say they were both creative and breathtaking.
Traffic had become unbelievable lately. Daryl would sometimes eat lunch during the commute, to maintain his stamina. He’d even started packing extra food and water, just in case.
Today the traffic was worse than ever. The clock in the truck didn’t work, and the jam stood locked in place so long that Daryl lost all track of time.Seasons passed. Civilizations had toppled and rebooted. Children had stepped into the shoes of their ancestors. That’s what it felt like to Daryl at least. Forever plus one day. Of course he was overreacting.
Ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right, a day where everything, in fact, goes the opposite of right? A day that deteriorates to comic proportions, everything about it unraveling until it becomes almost predictable. Every joke’s on you.
It seems almost surreal, doesn’t it, like a conspiracy of the universe to destroy you? Karma is pissing on your head. Practice deep breathing and visualization, stress management techniques and transcendental meditation. Practice aggressive passive aggression. Stay calm in the face of cacophonous calamity. It could be worse, right? The universe can only nod its head in your direction, an unwavering affirmative to your inquiry and thanks for asking. It could be worse and so it is. Care to wager again, double or nothing perhaps?
Laughing helps, but there’s a point where laughter becomes hollow and painful, a point where laughter makes the hurt worse. At some point the body and mind become numb, survival mechanisms kicking in and flooding your neural circuitry with endorphins to lessen the anguish. It could be worse becomes it’s not so bad. Turn that frown upside down and buck up buckeroo.
The land, willed to my father, had been in our family for generations. Everybody considered it useless and unbuildable. His dream became constructing something wonderful on the eroding bluff, somehow overcoming the treacherous pull of gravity. Every portion completed required constant reinforcement afterward. Even as the lowest levels crumbled away, more rooms and terraces were added on top. He was certain that one day a magnificent castle would stand atop this land.
When the land was willed to me, his dream became mine. Someday there will be a castle here.
I just hope I live long enough to witness it.
This week’s entry for the Friday Fictioneers, a 100 word story based on the photo prompt above.
Both the pilot and copilot had taken ill. The doctor deemed it food poisoning. Ted looked out the window at the earth below, wondering if he could get the plane back on the ground. Nerves had ended his career as a pilot and he’d developed a severe drinking problem. He looked at the cocktail on the tray in front of him, wondering if it would calm his nerves or rattle them more. The doctor looked at him with gravity.
We’d been driving all day by the time we pulled into town, and my dad was even more pissed off than normal. We were all hungry and tired. The motel sign read no vacancy, and the only restaurant still open was a hole in the wall Chinese joint.
“What the hell is this?” he asked. “First no fries or cheeseburgers, and now this shit?”
“They’re chopsticks, Henry,” my mom said. “Use them to pick up your food, like this.”
“I don’t do friggin chopsticks,” he said, stabbing his orange chicken with one chopstick. “Now, pass me that dang Chinese ketchup.”
After my mom died we realized the extent of her hoarding. Rooms stacked with boxes in boxes, years worth of newspapers, closets that spilled out like avalanches when opened. Most items made no sense.
My wife suggested a dumpster. It felt a shame to throw it all away, a lifetime of memories tossed. In one room we uncovered a forgotten memento from my childhood that I wanted to keep. My wife called the glass eyes creepy.
No way, she said, we have zero room at home, but I knew there was always space for one more thing.