Nature Preserve

Ten minutes from home there is wildlife preserve that includes almost 1400 acres. Itching to go somewhere yesterday, I drove over, parked, and got out. The heat and humidity smacked me in the face; it was three in the afternoon, and cloud cover was sparse. I wanted to check the place out, however, so I hit the trail. There are several, but they all start at the beginning. 🙂

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Flash Fic: Different World

Dad slapped his neck in disgust. “The fish aren’t biting but the mosquitoes sure are.”

I was covered in itchy red blotches, one of which I’d scratched so hard, it bled. “Can we go in now?”

“If we don’t catch anything, there’ll only be rice for lunch.”

I was sick of rice. We’d eaten nothing else for days. “Maybe it’s time to call it quits. Go back.” The instant the words were said, I regretted them, but my stomach hurt from hunger, and things were getting worse.

He sat opposite me on the skiff and laid his rod aside. “You remember why we left?”

I couldn’t meet his eyes. “Maybe it’s different now. Better.”

“Why would it be?”

“But maybe it is!” I missed pizza and internet and food on the grocery shelves. I missed talking with my friends and hanging out. I even—oh my god—missed school. I would have been a junior this year.

He touched my shoulder, and I flinched. “We’re going through a rough patch. It’ll pass.” He straightened. “Tell you what. We’ll kill a chicken for dinner tonight. How does that sound?” He slapped his arm, and I saw blood. The mosquito had got him.

Killing a chicken was a huge sacrifice on his part, but I didn’t care. I wanted things to be the way they used to be. I was tired of scrambling in the swamp for survival. It had gotten old weeks ago, and how would we make it when summer came? Just thinking about having no AC made me break out in a sweat. He’d talked about trying to make it north to relatives in Chicago, on foot so we could avoid the checkpoints, but every time I brought it up, he changed the subject.

He was scared, but I wasn’t. I’d prove it was safe to go back, then return for him.

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Flash Fic: The Wishing Tree

I stood on the back porch, leaning against a support and sipping wine, gazing at the old tree that straddled the property line between my parents’ place and the neighboring field. The full moon illuminated its leafless branches; that and the chill in the air told me winter was coming.

Every kid in the area had made multiple pilgrimages to that gnarly maple while growing up. We’d called it the wishing tree and whispered our most fervent desires and silent yearnings to its unyielding trunk before leaving for college, a promising new job, or enlisting in the armed forces. A few simply stayed, hanging on to what was comforting and familiar.

The kitchen door opened behind me, and Mom joined me, wearing a warm jacket. She held out a heavy coat. “Put this on. You’re shivering.”

I set the wine glass down on the wide porch railing and slipped my arms into the long sleeves. “Do kids still visit the wishing tree?” I picked up my glass and sipped.

“Not so much now. People who leave usually don’t come back, so there aren’t as many around as when you were young. But I see one occasionally, sneaking along the fence, hoping they won’t be spotted.” She smiled. “I always look the other way. Kids need to give voice to their hopes and dreams, and that old tree has heard a bunch of them.”

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Thinking Out Loud

I’ll post a few pics in a minute, but I’ve been thinking a lot about YouTubers lately. Maybe, like me, you subscribe to a few of them and wonder about their lives away from the camera.

That couple who is relentlessly cheerful all the fucking time! Are they like that when the camera is off, too? Or do they grump and grouse and swear as much as I do when something breaks and needs to be replaced? Are they happy with each other all the time, or are their nights when someone is sleeping on the couch?

I’m thinking of this one couple I used to follow. They own a $300K catamaran and have been sailing the world the last three years. They’re in their forties, they look good, and they make incredible videos, but I have no idea who they really are. I suspect their on-camera personas are whitewashed to show only their good sides. No one can be that happy all the fucking time. Maybe their “one drink at sunset” ends with them stumbling drunk to bed, then puking in the morning. 😉

How would we know? They’re doing this for money, because I can’t think of any other reason why anyone would relentlessly share their lives with thousands of total strangers. They created a brand, and they’re committed to it.

I asked them once in a comment how much they made from YouTube. They did not respond.

I asked the same question of another YouTuber who is in her forties, single, had a kid somewhere but was apparently divorced, and started her channel living in a car. Within a short time, she was in a van she and her father had converted. It had to have cost thousands. At first she was eating takeout all the time, and I wondered how she could afford that since she obviously had no job. Again, I got no response.

I followed a couple of different gay couples for a while. They were over-the-top cute. One couple had a small dog, the other had two large ones. Dogs are great filler when you get tired of thinking up other shit to talk about. The comments always note how darling they are.

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Flash Fic: Contemplation

I love my feet. Look at them! So strong, so beautiful. Unlike other hawks, I have a reversible toe and barbed pads on the the soles of my feet to help me keep tight hold of slippery fish.

They don’t even see me coming, I’m so fast, so quiet. But I see them, swimming around, unaware Death is coming. I drop like a rock at speeds that make the wind whistle in my ear, legs outstretched, claws extended and shining in the sun.

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