Monday, June 25, 2012

Under a Hat

Pixel read the message three times, but it still didn't make much sense. “Help! I'm under a hat!” Sounded bad, sure, but which hat? And where? And what was keeping Gwie stuck under the thing? It seemed to Pixel that his sister really could have been more specific.

He crumpled the note and stuffed into into his pocket. If she'd really wanted help, she'd have given more details.

As the afternoon wore on, he completely forgot about Gwie. It was only when their mother was setting the table for dinner and asked after her that he remembered the note again. He pulled it out and thrust it toward his mother, who took it with a perplexed frown.

The frown drew her eyebrows together in a way Pixel thought was funny, but as she read, they continued to creep closer to one another, and he started to get worried.

She lowered the paper and glared at her son. “How long ago did you find this?”

He shrugged, not wanting to admit that he'd had it since right after lunch.

“And where was it at this unspecified point in history?”

He pointed at a corner.

“You, sit,” his mother said before stalking over the the corner in question.

He sat and watched as she pulled a book out of the air, flipped to the index, and looked something up. She muttered a quick spell under her breath and slid the book back into the ether before returning to the table.

“And, you,” she said to the chair opposite Pixel, “I hope you've learned something.”

Mom made a motion in the air that was remarkably similar to that of yanking a hat off a young girl and all of a sudden, Gwie was sitting at the table looking very, very ashamed of herself.

“Yes, ma'am,” the young witch murmured. “Cursed hats are called cursed for a reason.”

“Yes, they are.” Mom sighed and left the kitchen for the hall closet with a hat that was still invisible to Pixel's eyes. “And?”

“And...” Gwie said slowly. “Never trust Pixel for help.”

Mom laughed as she closed the closet door and came back to the kitchen. “Close.”

“Hey!” said Pixel, not thinking that was very fair. How the heck was he supposed to have known what the note was talking about? “How about, in the future, tell your rescuer where to rescue you from?”

Gwie rolled her eyes. “How about, in the future, rescue myself instead of waiting on other people?”

“Ding-ding-ding!” Mom said with a smile. “We have a winner!”

Mom pulled a chicken casserole out of the oven. “Now, where's your dad?”

“Um...” Gwie said, pulling a crumpled note from her own pocket and smoothing it out on the table. “He says he's stuck in a raincoat.”

I asked Google for a random word and receive "underline". I then asked for a random image based on the word. That image was from a page about making cascading style sheets but I think it worked well for a writing prompt. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pong-Pong, Origins

I have only the dimmest memories of the Before. There were tight spaces, dimly lit and kept too warm. There were boxes radiating the smell of cardboard and making my skin itch. There were other animals, but they kept to themselves. We were too scared to talk, too uncertain of our destinies.

The first human I remember moved me from a container and onto a shelf. I was stuffed in behind others like me, in the midst of a small army of terrified children.

One by one, my companions started to disappear. Mostly it was the ones before me, but occasionally, there would be a light and movement and a hand would snake through to take someone from the depths of our group.

Eventually, I was in the front row and able to look out at the world around my shelf. There were many other shelves running in long rows under flickering florescent lights. There were signs with numbers and names on them, but while I could read the signs under others, I could not see the one under me. I spent much time wondering what it could say.

Sometimes the lights went off and the building sat in silence, but most of the time, the lights shone and humans meandered by at irregular intervals. They came in two basic height groups, tall and short. The tall ones sometimes pushed carts and took from the shelves. Other times, they pushed carts and added to the stock.

The short ones never brought anyone to the shelves and seldom came unaccompanied. A few of them picked me up off the shelf. Some found me wanting and put me back, others where told they couldn't have me by the tall people with them. No one ever bothered to explain why I was being left, but as I didn't know whether things would be better off the shelf, I didn't really know if I wanted to be taken or not.

Then He arrived. He was short, with light brown hair and blue-gray eyes, and he smiled brightly when he saw me. He picked me up and I knew this was My Boy, the one I had been waiting for.

“You sure the panda's the one you want?” his mother asked, but I knew from the way she looked at me that she was certain I was going home with her.

He nodded and hugged me tightly to him.

They ran me through a scanner and took me out into a bright world filled with humans, cars, trees, blue skies, and all sorts of things I'd never imagined. And as they walked me through this new and amazing world, they gave me my name, Pong-Pong.

That's when my life started.

This post inspired and co-written by Pong-Pong the Panda.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Anchors Away

The postcard was bent around the edges, clearly worn from its journey halfway around the world. A Buddah sat on the front and ten-year-old Chaela was proud of herself for recognizing him, even if she didn't have any idea where the statue was.

She let herself wonder about that for a minute, imagining her father smiling at her and challenging her to guess. He wouldn't care if she guessed right or not, just that she guessed before she turned the card over.

“Singingpore!” she said, seeming to recall Daddy saying during his weekly call that the ship was docking there soon.

“Chae-la-la, I'm missing you in Thailand! You'd love all the temples here and you'll be crazy about the jewelry I picked up for you today. Love always, Dad.”

Maybe Singingpore was in Thailand. Or Thailand could be in Singingpore. She'd have to ask Mom.

She ran up to her room, postcard gripped tightly in hand, and rushed to the cork board over her bed to pin Buddah up beside a Hawaiian sunrise. (That one had been easy to guess because it actually said, “Hawaiian Sunrise” on the front.)

She had Canada, California, Mexico, Hawaii, and now Thailand. Eventually, she'd get something from the Middle East. Then after too many months to think about, the pattern would reverse. Middle East. Asia. US. And, at long last, home in Washington State.

She loved her post cards, she really did. But all things told, she'd rather have her dad.

Prompt found at Photo by Kirti Manian.