I wrote this story a while while back (3 years ago), and for whatever reason, it is the one post I’ve written that at least someone looks at every day. I have no idea why, it’s not linked to a search in google, or anything like that. Someone out there either loves this story a lot, or it’s the one post everyone gets pointed towards.
Not a day has gone by that it hasn’t received at least one hit from a reader. I thought today would be a good day to repost it.
Following is a short story I wrote when given the prompt to use the phrase, “It slithered.” Enjoy.
Bravery Sanders morosely stared at the hole she had made in the earth, and wondered if her mother would believe that it was an accident. Probably not, considering Bravery was using her own special little silver spade with the sharp, grown up edges; it was only to be used when her mother was there to help. Bravery’s mother had bought it for her so she could help in the garden. “It’s a very grown up thing Bravery, to be in charge of helping new things grow.” Bravery remembered her mother telling her, as she handed over the miniature tools. Her mother had smiled down at her as they knelt in the cool soil and planted a neat straight row of sunflower seeds.
Bravery’s mother grew all kinds of plants. Plants for eating, plants for looking at in large vases, and plants that little ones mustn’t touch. Her mother and she lived in a red brick house that sat low to the ground and had a big fancy hat looking thing that collected energy. Bravery always thought it was a very kind house, to help them by wearing the hat. It looked heavy. The energy that the hat collected heated water for baths, (Bravery liked hers best with bubbles), powered the food grinder, the ancient radio with the gold knobs, and the indoor sprinklers for the plants that lived inside.
Bravery’s mother had long brown hair, the color of maple syrup, and wore voluminous peasant skirts caked with dirt at the knees, and had hands that were either very dirty, or antiseptically clean and covered in gloves. Sometimes Bravery got her own gloves to wear, she liked those days, because it meant she’d get to help! Bravery inherited her mother’s hair, and wore carefully chosen outfits in complimentary colors. “No need to look untidy, dear,” Bravery’s mother would say in a sing song voice as she showed her out the door to school. Bravery would nod, and smile, and laugh as she waved good bye. She was a very, very happy child.
After school was Bravery’s favorite time of day. When she got home, her mother would cut her an apple and let her sit at the high silver table near where her mother did her work. Across the room, where little ones mustn’t go, lived the Slap Plants. That wasn’t their scientific name, merely the way Bravery identified with them, for if she went near them, or tried to touch them, she got a firm slap on the wrist. There are plants little ones mustn’t touch!
Bravery would sit at the cold steel table, with her crayons and paper, and draw pictures of her mother, and her mothers’ microscopes. Sometimes, she drew pictures of the Slap Plants, tethered securely into their pots.
On very, very special days, when she was still and well behaved while her mother worked, she was allowed to help her mother by pushing the buttons on The Box. Bravery wasn’t sure exactly what The Box did, but whenever Bravery’s mother used it, Bravery had to turn off the radio, because The Box needed all the power. Bravery had suggested that they get the house a bigger hat so Bravery could keep listening to the radio while her mother worked, but Bravery’s mother had only laughed, and kissed her cheek.
There were some days that Bravery’s mother would put on her pants with all the pockets, and her special hat, and go on trips. Bravery loved it when her mother went on trips, because then her Aunt Marcie came to watch her.
Aunt Marcie was her mother’s opposite, with fair hair and fairer skin, and she had a funny habit of chewing her hair, or her nails. Bravery wasn’t allowed to chew her hair or her nails. Maybe when she was an aunt, some day, she would get permission. It seemed like fun, except it made her hair slobbery.
Bravery was especially fond of Aunt Marcie, for Aunt Marcie always let her wear her dress up clothes when they went to the store for non organic goodies. “Tastes like sawdust sweetie,” Aunt Marcie would say when Bravery picked a box of gluten free, sugar free, organic Nut Cookies, “How about Oreos?”
Aunt Marcie also allowed tea parties on the lawn, and always read Bravery her very newest poem. Aunt Marcie said Bravery was her best critic. Bravery just liked the way her aunt smelled like vanilla, and was always happy, biting her nails and reading.
Right now, Aunt Marcie was asleep on the couch, safely tucked under a hand knitted alpaca afghan Bravery had placed over her, when she saw the radio had lulled Aunt Marcie to sleep. Bravery’s mother would be home any second, and would see what Bravery had done while Aunt Marcie was asleep. She wasn’t supposed to touch the key, or go in her mother’s room while she was gone.
She was blessed with an overwhelming amount of curiosity, and this time she feared it would really get her into trouble.
Bravery sat in the dirt between the rows of corn, facing the house, and the dirt pile that covered the hole in the ground. Shoving the pile with her sneaker, she pouted, and tried not to cry. Bravery looked up, and wiped her nose, when she heard her mother traipsing around the kitchen, calling her name.
“I’m out here!” Bravery knew deep down with a child’s intuition, there was no forestalling the inevitable. It would be better to just get it over with.
Bravery’s mother found her in the garden, shirt torn, cheek bleeding, and covered in dirt. Secure in the fact that whatever happened, her daughter had won, Bravery’s mother heaved a sigh of relief. Bravery’s mother saw the sharp spade clutched in her fists, and the key sticking out of her pocket, and connected it to the dirt pile.
“Bravery,” her mother exclaimed, kneeling down in the dirt to reach eye level with her child, and grabbing her arms, “What have you done?”
“Momma,” Bravery whispered. “I’m sorry, I had to. It slithered.”