All of November Margaret Adamson and
friends are supplying us with prompts and let's enjoy, for it's their
last time due to health issues.
What we do to them is up to us, poem, story, shopping list, ignore ... the grand idea is to make us write.
Go to Elephant's Child's place to find the prompts, read some good stories, and be inspired to write your own.
This is a challenge, where the old saying "The more the merrier" holds true, therefore: Please,
remember to go back, read other peoples' stories there or follow their
links back. And please leave a comment after reading. Challenges like
this one thrives on interaction.
As I warned in my Pausefish-post,
I cannot stop writing. Well I had decided to stop, but I read the
prompts when EC posted them Tuesday evening my time. Today I went
shopping, walking a longish distance to a remote shop, when the prompts
and my troubles with laundry not drying in the dismal Autumn weather met
inside my brain and I "wrote" this in my head. And then I could just as well put it on paper (screen?) to share with you.
We're back in
time, Susan's childhood, the 1970es, the Spring/early summer before she
discovers Unicorn Farm. If I ever write my book, this could very well
become the opening chapter of the book.
And today's prompts are
An arm and a leg
Barking up the wrong tree.
Susan, her sister Linda and some of the children from the neighbourhood were playing in Susan's garden. Strictly spoken it was not Susan's garden, like the back yard and the semi-detached house it belonged to her mum and dad, but to the children it was Susan an Linda's garden.
"Oh!" Linda said, "I'll give an arm and a leg for some privacy. I hate that old crone watching us from the laundering place!"
"Yes," Fatma added, "ever since they remodelled the laundry hand-in room she's been sitting there at the window, looking at us every day. I'm sure she tells my mum and dad that I'm having way too much fun playing in your garden!"
Fatma's mum and dad worked in the laundry place Her mum in the ironing room and her dad was a lorry driver, bringing out the laundry.
"Couldn't we go to your garden, Henry?" Linda asked. "Then Madam Stare can't see us. Your fence is much taller than ours."
Henry lived with his younger brother, Jack and mum, dad and Grandma in the other half of the semi-detached house. Susan's bed stood up against the partitioning wall, and many were the evenings she had been lulled to sleep by Henry's Grandmother practising on the piano. She played in a dance studio.
"No," he answered, "the small pears are just forming on our tree, and the beans are sprouting. Mum will pull off my ears if I let this wild horde in to play."
It was no use asking Fatma, she lived in a small apartment over the laundry with mum, dad, two older and two younger brothers. And at Jens' place vegetables were growing in the gardens as well. Susan and Linda's garden normally was an oasis for the children, grass and no plants to watch out for, only two wonderful old lilacs you could climb in and hide behind, a lot of tulips and other flowers in spring. And then the lamp post. It was a real, old lamp post, from somewhere Susan's mother had lived. It was so fun to run and run around it with the fingers tracing the carved lines until you got all dizzy and had to sit or fell down. When Linda was a baby and Susan a bit older, there had been a bed of roses around the lamp post, but Linda and often Susan too, fell into the roses when running around the lamp post. Mum and dad had been over itred of of comforting crying girls with scratched arms and legs and pulling out thorns of loudly screaming girls too. The roses were moved to the fence bordering Henry and Jack's garden, where you could not tumble into them.
Now Fatma's youngest brother was circling the lamp post, his chubby, brown fingers following the swirls, then clutching the pole until he fell. He cried and Fatma put him on his legs again whereupon he once again tumbled. All the children laughed at him, and he said something they did not understand. Fatma translated: "He says it's not fun. The world is wobbling!" The other children laughed again, but now with a sympathetic note to their laughter. Madam Stare poked her head closer to the window and stared myopically out at them. She was the book keeper in the laundry place, keeping a ledger over who handed in what laundry, if they had paid or not, and if they came to fetch it or wanted it brought out. She had much spare time and kept a stern eye on the children.
"Why don't we go into Susan's kitchen and have a sammich while we think!" That was the always hungry Lucy, she lived in the mission house back to back with Susan's house. One of the attractions of Susan's house, apart from the garden with no vegetables, was that Mum always had a loaf of bread and a jar of jam for hungry children, the sole condition was: Clean up the crumbs!.
"She's often barking up the wrong tree, too" Henry said. "She can only see what we're doing, not hear what we say."
"Yes," his brother Jack added, "and then granny scolds us for being evil to Fatma's small brothers, when we only try to play and not fall over them. That's unfair. If only she could not see us!"
"Laundry!" Lucy said with her mouth full of bread and jam. She chewed and swallowed: "If we hang big laundry, like sheets and blankets over that fence in your front garden, then she cannot see us."
"Brainwave!" Linda said, and the other agreed.
The fence to the road was made of tall poles with an iron mesh in between, absolutely not stare-proof. All the children went into the cellar, where Linda and Susan handed out sheets, duvet covers, blankets and clothes pegs to everybody. Soon the garden was protected from Madam Stare's busy eyes and the children had a lovely afternoon all for themselves.
But in the evening, when the other children had left for their homes and mum and dad had returned home, Susan and Linda got a solid scolding from Mum. They were not
any more going to hang laundry on their fence, they were not
going to trying to hinder the woman in the laundry from looking at them.
"But, Mum, she's not looking
, she's staring
!" Linda said. "It's not polite to stare you always say, and she tells on Fatma to her parents, and then her dad belts her for being evil to her smallest brother. He's cute, but he's really a pain in the behind to be around."
"Susan, do you agree?" Mum asked sternly.
"Mostly, yes, Abdel is rather terrible, we have all learned how to say 'move over' and 'No!' in Arabic to make him behave. and Madam Stare is such a nosey parker! And Fatma always have to look after him and Mohammad, it's not fair!"
"Life is not fair, Susan. And you are not allowed to hang laundry on the fence ever again, but you can bring Fatma and her terrible twos in the back yard when you're alone. You can play there too, as long as you all say 'Get off!' or 'No!' in your best Arabic if Abdel starts tampering with anything there."
"Thanks, Mum." Susan said "I knew you would understand, you always tell us about when you were small and gathrered firewood or went fishing or swimming or punting in the creek with your siblings, and no grown ups watching! Those were the days, I bet!"
"Oh Susan!" Mum said shaking her head.