Friday, March 5, 2010

#fridayflash A Matter of Perspective


This is what was going on in the kid’s head:


It’s Sunday and there’s nothing to do because my friend Heather Adams is at church and there’s nothing on TV and I’m bored out of my stinking mind.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, thinking how bored I am and my mom is running around like an idjit cleaning up the whole house and making a big roast beef dinner because her stupid friends are coming over. Stupid, boring friends who don’t even have kids, and how boring and stupid is that. So we have to behave just because they’re coming over. Big whoop.

I slump over the table and stare at the wallpaper, squinting and unsquinting to see how the wallpaper violets look squinted and unsquinted. It’s like an experiment. Out of the corner of my eye my mother zooms into sight, then out again, a small, unfocused black figure moving at ninety miles an hour. She’s ruining the experiment. And I think all this stupid work she is doing is ridiculous.

“I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” I say.

My mother stops what she is doing and starts yelling at me.

“Lynda-Leah Raney, get your head off that table, right now. Sit up straight and quit your whining or so help me I’ll call your father in here and he’ll give you something to whine about.”

“OK! You don’t have to scream,” I say, morally offended.

“That’s IT!” She’s really peaking now. “I’ve had ENOUGH of your crap today. Get outside NOW.”

I slide out of the chair and put on my boots and jacket while she stands in the middle of the kitchen, hands on hips, watching me. She’s mad, I can tell by the look in her eye that says I’m dead meat if I even open my mouth.

I open the back door and, as I’m going out, I say, “Fine. You’re just boring and stupid anyway.” 

Then I run like the wind because I know she’ll take the side off my head if she can catch me. But she can’t. Because I’m young and she’s old and I can run faster than her.

When I get to the sidewalk and figure I’ve gotten away scot-free I look back and see her in the kitchen window. She still looks mad and I think she’s crying again. She’s always crying. I don’t get it. And I don’t feel sorry for her, either. Let her cry all she wants. See if I care.

I sit on the drainage pipe at the end of our driveway and look around, looking for something to do. Our street is boring, though, and nothing’s going on. It’s just gray and boring and stupid, like everything else. 

The only thing moving is an old lady coming up the sidewalk towards me. She’s moving so slow that even a snail could pass her.

She’s ugly-looking.

Hunched and fat and wrinkled, like a toad.

She’s wearing old-people’s clothes. Some stupid hat with netting on it and old lady shoes. 

She’s looking at me. I feel like saying “take a picture, it’ll last longer.”

Then it occurs to me: she’s probably looking at me and remembering what it was like to be young. That makes me feel sad, thinking about that old lady wishing she was me. I feel sorry for her. 

I kinda smile at her as she gets closer, trying to show her that I’m nice to old ladies and that it’s OK to be jealous of me because I’m younger and have my whole life in front of me and she’s practically dead.

I feel it’s the least I can do.


This is what was going on in the old lady’s head:


Look at that little shithead sitting in the ditch, grinning at me. Must be the village idiot.

24 comments:

  1. Nice Story Cathy. I think you got the kids perspective down pretty good as well the old lady's

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  2. nothing like spoiled recalcitrant brats.. nailed it

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  3. Ha! Thanks for the morning laugh.

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  4. What a lovely old lady! Brilliant. And this line is inspired: "I slump over the table and stare at the wallpaper, squinting and unsquinting to see how the wallpaper violets look squinted and unsquinted."

    You're good at this, aren't you?
    Simon.

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  5. Too funny. Great job on both perspectives.

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  6. Lynda-Leah sounds like me when I was younger - everthing at home was "boring and stupid". Luckily, I liked old people. This little snippet of her view on such a small portion of a day is priceless - and I love the old woman's thoughts too. heheh Yay!

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  7. That is a brilliant comedy. The kids perspective was so well-done - and I LOVE the old lady clincher!!

    Haven't heard the word idjit for a really long time - made me laugh!

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  8. The squinty eye thing was sooo real and still something that I often do when I am bored to distraction.

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  9. Haha! I've been that girl, and boy am I going to be that old lady one day...

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  10. I agree completely with mazzz! Loved the different perspectives!

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  11. Cathy - this was fantastic. A great fun read. You really kept it moving. I love the squinting and unsquinting game. . . I'm doing it right now as I am pretending to work.

    I should formally introduce myself, I think that was what you'd requested. I am the person that MADE you leave a comment on 'if the walls could. . . talk.' I have a lot of guilt about that posting and I was hoping that my visit here would reduce some of it.

    I'm not sure it did - but I did like this posting. A ton.

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  12. VERY interesting...so YOU are "anonymous"?

    Anyway, to the matter at hand:

    Doh! Just when you think there's a glimmer of decent human feeling, the old lady drops a bomb. I think the mother always crying is a nice touch though. After the chuckling is over I'll be thinking about her.

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  13. Mark: thank you for noticing the mother. I was hoping someone would. In a way, this story is about her, even more so than her obnoxious offspring.
    I think mothers are like martyrs... they sacrifice who they are for their children, even if the children don't appreciate or deserve it. Once they give birth, they are forever working in the background and crying in a kitchen window.

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  14. Cathy, what a voice you have. What a natural, effortless, gift. I too saw the mother, and gawd you're so right. In the background, forever crying in the kitchen window is the truth. And the children that think they know it all, and you can't tell them how much they don't know, because you have to protect them for some things. You're so good.

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  15. What a wonderfully humorous piece!

    Loved the ennui of the young girl and her mother's harried exasperation. You're so right about mothers being martyrs. Even when kids are adults, there's a lot of crying in the kitchen window still going on.

    Laughed out loud at the end!

    This was a hoot to read. :)

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  16. Ha ha. They both sound like little shits.

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  17. OMG - do you have some sort of long distance mind reading machine because I think my eleven year old regularly goes through this thought process! They are so self focused at that age. You nailed it. And I LOVED what the old lady was thinking! Nicely done.

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  18. You know my reaction. I just about wet myself when you read me the last line. . I look forward to your Friday Flashes every week Cathy. Love it love it love it.
    BTW stunning photo at the top. Bright, white, crisp, cold. Beautiful.

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  19. P.S. That's one of the wonderful things about your new home. I love the solitude.... but the scenery is ever changing and you capture it so well.

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  20. I really enjoyed this Cathy. The brattish child slightly pulled out of her self-indulgence, only to have completely misread the old lady, who completely misreads her! Great stuff.

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  21. LOL! I guess no one's really smarter than anyone else, no matter what age. I'm picturing an upside-down self absorption curve, like a mean smile, with age on the X axis and lack of sympathy on the Y axis.

    CD

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  22. As others have said, you've nailed the two perspectives. The two-line old lady perspective is great. Lots of humor in this work too!

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