ASH

the grasshopper in winter
JANUARY 18, 2012 7:33PM

OS Fiction Weekend for 1/20-22/12 ~ THE NARROW WOODS

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  narrow woods 2

 

THE NARROW WOODS

 

            I was twelve years old.  My family moved to a new town during my Junior High School.  They had talked about moving forever.  They had looked at all kinds of places.  I never believed that we would ever actually move.  Therefore I had lost my few friends.

            I dreaded that new school.  Back then I used to read a lot.  I had an insect collection.  I had a tide-pool aquarium.  I was a real book-worm geek.  I felt a little better when I found a cool little lizard on my way to school that first day.  He let me catch him easily and I found out that he would just sit on my shoulder.  I named him Master Blaster.  I hid him in my button-down shirt pocket. 

            Mrs. Daws was teaching us French for first period.  She taught French with a Southern twang.  I had to pretend I was asking Brittany Reina for a date in French.  But Brittany didn’t need to say “Beaucoups les nons” like that and make everyone laugh.  It was only pretend.

            I found out that Brittany’s boyfriend was a tough guy named Wyman Wood.  Wyman was in my gym class.  For laughs, he would threaten to beat-up this “slow” kid named Grant Siemens unless Grant beat-off in the showers.  Wyman and his friends would scream with laughter and make fun of Grant’s last name.  The cacophony in the locker-room was demented.

            At lunchtime all the lunch area benches were crowded and boisterous and a little bit unnerving.  There was one table at the outskirts where I saw Grant Siemens sitting next to a girl wearing a scarf.  I went to that table and sat at the opposite end.  I took Master Blaster out of my pocket and placed him on my shoulder.  I offered him a pinch of lettuce from my sandwich.

            Grant said to me with a bright-eyed beaming smile, “That is so cool.  What is your name?  My name is Grant.”

            I lowered my head and glanced around, “Hi, Grant.”

            “What is your lizard’s name?”

            Master Blaster,” I said and Grant howled with laughter. 

            “This is Carolyn,” Grant pointed to the girl beside him.

            I raised a finger, “Hi, Carolyn.”  And then I realized who she was.

            I already had heard everybody talking about Carolyn, making fun of her.  Carolyn Calhoun was a short shy little girl with a round, round face, a long pointed nose, bad acne, and a bright sweet smile and happy bright eyes.  She looked at me sideways, head bowed and sheepish.  With her scarf, and her long dress over her potato-shaped figure, she reminded me of a Polish refugee in my World War Two book.

            “You better hide Master Blaster,” she said to me softly.

            “Why?”

            Master Blaster is in danger.”

            Just then, Wyman Wood approached Carolyn.  I whisked Master Blaster into my pocket.

            “Hey, Calhoun!” shouted Wyman, “Schminky is in love with you!”

            A boy at the adjacent table stood up and whirled around with a revolted look and cried, “Oh, God, fuck you,” and everybody at the table shrieked with laughter.  The boy dropped to the ground, pretending to gag.

            Wyman then turned to Grant, saying, “Good show today, Grant SEMEN.”  And Grant grinned along, whipping his hand up and down in mock masturbation, actually enjoying the attention.  Brittany screamed in mock horror.

            “Oh, leave him alone,” came out of my mouth.  Wyman’s friends, including Brittany, went, “OOooo!”

            Wyman glared and then he crept toward me as ominously as he could, “Hey, faggot, I hear you asked my girlfriend for a date!  What now?  You gonna teach me a lesson?”

            “Aw, why are you ..,” and then Carolyn caught my eye.  So when Wyman grabbed my shoulders and yanked me off of the bench and onto the ground, I curled into a ball and cupped my shirt pocket to protect Master Blaster.  Wyman kicked me once, in my unprotected ribs.

            “So the Retard Convention has a new member.  Let’s all welcome the new girl!”  Thankfully, Wyman returned to his applauding followers.

            I got up, mortified, trying to tell myself that I had done the right thing… for Master Blaster, that is, who was safe.  I sat back down at the table.

            “Does that shit happen all the time?  Why do you eat here?” I said and my tough talk trembled a little, “How did you know he’d pick on me?”

            Grant said matter-of-factly, “He picks on everyone.”

            Carolyn closed her bright eyes, “No.  I could see it.  I hear things.  I am a fortune teller.”

            Grant spoke up enthusiastically, “Tell him why you don’t have a million zillion dollars if you can tell the future.”

            Carolyn opened her eyes and smiled innocently, “It is the gift.  I heard my Grandma say one night that I was a ‘bortion but I lived.  If I had a million dollars I know that I would lose the gift. 

            “You are serious?”

            “Yes.  I can tell that my mom and my dad are going to leave each other, and they never yell at each other; they never say anything.  I can just tell.

            “OK.  But what else?” I asked politely, trying to be serious.

            “Do you like to read?” asked Carolyn.

            “Yeah, but with these glasses, who can’t tell that…?” I chuckled.

            “You are going to be a story writer.”

            Well, she was sure telling me what I wanted to hear.  But then the bell rang, sounding the end of the lunch period.  We three stood up to go to our respective classes.  I waved vaguely, “See you Monday.”

            Carolyn answered as I walked away, “I won’t be here Monday.  I’m going into the narrow woods.”

            “Huh?” I asked, but she didn’t seem to hear me as she walked away.

            On Monday the whole school was wrapped in a buzz about Carolyn.  She had been killed with her parents in an automobile accident.

 


 

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Comments

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Do you remember at Stanford... that asshole bully that hung with other bullies? His name escapes me but his father's company put in our pool in 1963, Everyone hated that little group of fuckers but few could stand up to them. One day, as classes ended, I was walking out of a school building and this prick walked by me quickly and slammed his fist into my stomach. I fell to the ground. My books and notebooks scattered among the other feet trying to leave school. No one bent down to help me. No one even looked at me. I lay there gasping for breath... thinking I was dying.
And then it happened. A few months later, he and his thug friends went to Disneyland in Anaheim and the PRICK was dared to stand up on the log ride on the Matterhorn. He did and was promptly dealt with by a low overhang as the log zoomed out through the opening of the mountain. He fell to his death 30 feet below.
The following Monday, his boy friends and girl friends walked through the throngs of the lunch time recess asking for kids to donate money for his family. Not a single person donated.
Good story. Rated.
I was bullied at school too. Short, skinny, thick glasses, new kid - we were always moving. Got a good beating from one particular bastard. Dad said, "Guys like that are all cowards. Stand up to him." Mom gave me a book to read that told the story of a kid who stood up to his bully and beat him up!

So I screwed up my courage and fought back! Guess what? I got the crap beat out of me again...

So I went over to the high-school and hired a bully there to beat up our bully. I said to tell him, just before whacking him, "This is from the kids you like to pick on."


Our bully was suddenly the friendliest guy around. I still didn't like him.
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Essentially the artist gathers a turning point somewhere from the muck and deals with it or not.

A successful writing here, friend.

ASH, a tad raggedly toward predictability, or if I may be so bold, blog-genre though your gift shines with 'new' word substitutions as you rough-up the coy in a pre-Kinsley sense without sacrifice of linear cohesion necessary-and okay albeit apropos to grade school lunch rooms.

Going forward then with a mysterious blue pencil (thank goodness the kids didn't start flinging fruit) my own crow-footed eyes sought something that wasn't there maybe one or two left-bankish zooms e.g. what was served that day? Was a cicada swept in the dust pan. Were cheap alloy keys on the janitor's key ring? Was the emigre's scarf tartan plaid?


Just as 'good' however as many others I see around and you've a masterful touch as to what to omit.

I am saying this is a damn good rendering and the audience is demanding, the love so true.
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♥╚═══╝╚╝╚╝╚═══╩═══╝─╚For making the woods a bit less narrow and doing it with such fine style.
Well...that made my eggs slide down! What a dynamic! The hierarchy of children. Sad how we treat each other only to find out later in life that the geek is now our boss!
Painful to read. She knew. About you too. So sad.
Spooky ending. The bullied nerds usually win in the end, fortunately: dork turns computer genius, spaz becomes ruthless DA, acne martyr makes millions as movie score composer. It's nature's way of reminding us of the huge advantage human intelligence offers us. Now, if only everyone could be convinced to use it.
French with a Southern accent? Does that mean there are people out there who speak Japanese with a Southern accent? Or German? Or Italian? Russian? Yiddish? R
A loud gasp!!!!

I have linked you at the end of The prophecy

dsl
Wow - this was so powerful. The details you used, like the narrator bothering to name the lizard, gave it such a sense of realism. I love the ending, the offhand comment that is a prophecy of Carolyn's own death. Brilliantly done, and sad.