Monday November 17th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the badge.

Had a bit of a wildlife spotting day here. This morning while Max and I were having breakfast a white-tailed deer went trotting up our road. That thing was as noticeable as a peacock, straight up in the air like a fluffy flag pole. And this evening? Oh, goodness me.

I'd brought Max with me to go get wood from the pile, which meant giving him a ride in the wheelbarrow. We stopped to say hello to the horses for a few minutes before carrying on. He helped count me down for every swing of the axe (yes, he was a safe distance away) and then I loaded up and started heading back.

We didn't get far though, as he began complaining about the cold. So I ditched the wheelbarrow and carried him up to see Grandma and warm up a bit. I went back to haul the wood the rest of the way home, had a quick shower, and walked back up to collect him.

On the way home we were going along the fence that divides this property from the vineyard next door. I'm chatting with Max when I notice up ahead a little ways... there was something atop one of the fence posts.

I stopped in my tracks.

"Oh my... it's an owl, Max!"

I have never seen one in the wild before. It was starting to get dark, so I couldn't make out too many details, but it was still bloody amazing. It flew off shortly after Max started getting excited to see it, but that was enough for me.

More than enough.


She holds it in her left hand, feeling its harsh edges digging into her palm while she traces the raised letters with her right index finger. Though she has handled it nearly every day for the last ten years it feels heavier on this day. Just her imagination, she tells herself.

She doesn't believe it.

Outside the sun moves hesitantly toward the horizon. Day shift workers return to warm, welcoming homes. Restaurants begin to fill, bars ready for one more busy, messy, profitable Friday night.

A sigh, a grimace. She should be preparing as well. Yet she lingers, unable to escape the badge's hypnotic gaze. A decision would have to be made soon, she thinks as she runs a hand over her still flat stomach. It is a question that needs an answer sooner than later.

Will she continue to wear it... or turn it in?


Greg said...

Deer and owls... you really got a decent collection yesterday! I guess it's a shame you didn't have your camera with you on either occasion; though I suspect getting a good picture of an owl in low light conditions without the flash scaring it would have been rather tricky. Now you know there's one living nearby though, you might get to see it again. Well, I'm hoping that for tomorrow you get a fox and a kangaroo :)
I really like how your story today seems to be about one decision but is actually about another, much more subtly described and understated one. And it makes me wonder what the badge is actually for as well; if there's an irony or another level of story to be found when we learn what the badge says about her life. For such a few short paragraphs that's impressive storytelling!

The badge
"A is for Auntie, showing her age," murmured Mummy as she leaned over Baby's stroller. Baby gurgled and kicked, tiny feet wrapped in pink knitted booties that, if you looked closely, had little knitted skulls attached instead of pompoms. Ahead of them, still bandaged up from the last attempt Mummy had made on her life, Auntie had halted at the edge of the path and was sniffing a poppy.
"B is for badge, a medal of rage," murmured Mummy. As she straightened Baby's blanket, pulling it neatly across Baby's Burberried legs and carefully not looking around her, she didn't see the teenage girl on roller-skates race past them. The girl was wearing headphones, wraparound sunglasses, a crop-top in blue spandex and tight shorts. And a large badge across her chest that read "Ask me if I'm going to help you!" She collided with Auntie with a thud and a gasp as the air was knocked out of both of them, and the badge came partially unpinned, swinging down and across under its own unnecessary weight and narrowly missing slicing Auntie's neck open.
"C is for Crap, well that should have worked," muttered Mummy. "And D is for Damn, now that I'm irked."
The girl put her hand out, clearly intending to press it over Auntie's face and pin her down while getting back to her own feet, but Auntie bit it, yellowed teeth clamping down on slender fingers and drawing blood. The girl screamed, trying and failing to drag her hand away but shaking Auntie's head like a ragdoll in the process. Somewhere behind them there came a shout, and Mummy turned to see two policemen racing over.
"E is for Elsewhere," said Mummy starting to push the stroller away, "which is where we should be, and F is for funny, I'm laughing you see."

morganna said...

More from the world of snow monsters (from last year)
Erik stopped abruptly in front of the biggest tent by a small table. He bent and fumbled with a small box on the table. He straightened up, holding a badge like his on a lanyard. "Here, put this on," he said. "You need to wear a badge so people know you belong here." I obediently slid the lanyard over my head. Then we ducked into the big tent.

There was a large man sitting at a wooden table, facing the entrance. As soon as he spotted Erik, he began to speak. "Oh, Erik, I'm glad you dropped by. I meant to ask you at the meeting about the results you've been getting." He stopped abruptly, staring at me. "Who's this?" he demanded.

Erik answered. I had never heard him sound so deferential. "My wife, sir. She tracked the snow monsters from town to their lair alone, sir. I was there, gathering more data. She found me there and I brought her directly here."

"Hmmm..." the big man looked at me speculatively. "You tracked the snow monsters to their lair alone. Why would you do that?"

I launched again into my explanation, but he stopped me halfway through. "The snow monsters have been coming more often? That's not right. You need to talk to Joe."

He picked up a radio and spoke into it. "Joe, you need to get over here stat. There's someone here you need to talk to."

Marc said...

Greg - aw man, a kangaroo would have been pretty sweet :(

Thanks for the kind words on mine. I was concerned I wasn't being obvious enough but I'm glad to see that, for you at least, that wasn't the case.

Your Mummy is delightfully horrifying. I think that's all I have to say about that.

Morganna - nice incorporation of the prompt into this continuation. Quite pleased to see this setting revisited :)