Flash Fiction: Power

“You’re twins?” exclaims our new krav maga instructor, a feisty brunette named Kristy. It is a question often asked because we look vaguely alike, but not to the extent of twins.

“Yes,” I say, as I always do. I’ve gotten used to the incredulity, to the double takes when we walk into a room, side by side, or back to front, like in revolving doors.

We are indeed twins. Cromwell is older by six minutes, but he is not the boss of me. In fact, he is timid where I am forthright. He is complicated where I am simple. He is everything I am not, and I fulfill the same role for him.

He was born in 1989, while I arrived in 1990, an oddity indeed, but not as rare as you would think. Out of the four million babies born in the U.S. in 1990, five hundred and eighty of them were born on January first. At 12:03 in the morning, I joined this group.

“Ohhhh! Fraternal,” she says, as they always do once they’ve realized I’m not joking.

“No,” I say, calmly, measuredly. “Identical.”

And of course we do look somewhat alike, but you can see the brain cells working overtime to try and put the pieces to this puzzle together. Because while in the womb Cromwell took the position of power. Continue reading “Flash Fiction: Power”

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300 Writing Prompts: #145

“What was the first thing you ever saved up your money to purchase?”

My first real job was at a travel agency. I know what you’re going to say. It was just an internship, but it counted. Besides, it was a paid internship, so it really counted in every way that mattered. For the first time in my life I was getting a steady paycheck, even if it was only for a summer, and I worked hard to make sure that money got spent.

I’m sure you can imagine. I never shoveled driveways for neighbors. I never got an allowance. I never really had a chance to get some solid money for myself until the Rosenbluth Travel Agency, and I had a list of items I wanted. First, there was a CD player that I had my eye on. Before the CD player all I had was a Walkman and the family stereo, which featured dual tape decks (snazzy) so I could tape the radio. But a CD player would put me in a whole new echelon.

I also wanted a VCR, so I could tape my shows (the two principal of which were Days of Our Lives and Beverly Hills 90210). I was addicted to Tori Spelling, but my mom wouldn’t let me stay up late enough to watch the show. And of course I was at work (and later in school) when Days came on, so I needed a way to tape both shows to watch when I had free time on the weekends. I swear I invented binge watching because I would sit there on my bed with popcorn catching up on all the goings on in Salem. Continue reading “300 Writing Prompts: #145”

Lawn. And Tennis.

“If you can keep playing tennis when somebody is shooting a gun down the street, that’s concentration.” ~Serena Williams

If the closest you’ve come to tennis is watching Wimbledon on TV every two weeks in July, then you probably think the game is akin to golf, with nattily dressed people playing a gentlemen’s or a ladies’ sport while spectators “Ooh” and “Aah” over their precise shots and acumen. Of course Wimbledon, being on NBC for so long, was accessible to the masses. Regular folk like you and I could watch it and feel like we were transformed into the strawberries and cream loving crowd that filed in and out with spectacular precision from the grounds of England’s Lawn and Tennis Club. Lawn. And Tennis. That’s what we imagine. But that’s not the only tale of tennis.

Around here there is an old tennis court. I use the term loosely, because ages ago, when the weeds began to grow through the cracks in the cement, someone decided to take the posts out and transform the area into a place to ride skateboards. They didn’t take a broad stroke to it, though, as you could still see where the posts had been, and the ghosts of the lines still show through in places. I used to stand outside the fencing and imagine what it must have been like in its heyday, probably in the ’80s when pretty much every place had a tennis court within walking distance.

Of course the ’80s were for stars like Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and others. Continue reading “Lawn. And Tennis.”

Aquarium Bones

“Be careful what secrets you unearth, for the secrets that unearth you are not far behind.” ~Theodicus

I used to have an aquarium. Not the kind with fish. That would have been too simple, or too complicated, whichever you prefer. But the kind with treasure in it. You know the sort, the one with sand at the bottom, a little rake up against the glass, and the opportunity to mine for gold, or scarabs, or just the faded bones of fish who used to live in those environs before the water went away.

It seemed morbid to me at the time, the idea of an aquarium without water, a place without the one thing that gives it its name (aqua = water), the idea that “once upon a time” and “nowadays” were two distinct terms to label that glass walled cage. Eventually, though, I got used to the idea that nothing was as it seemed, not just in the aquarium, but in the wide world as well. I realized we are all nothing but aquarium bones, waiting to be unearthed when someone sifts through our lives many years from now.

I think of all the people who have come before, all the generations and generations of folks who felt, in their lifetimes, that the things they did mattered, that the time they spent was worthwhile. Continue reading “Aquarium Bones”

Endless Summer

When I was a kid, summers were for having fun outside. They were all about riding our bikes, swimming (if we had the chance), playing in the hydrant (more often than swimming), YMCA camps, and staying away from bologna as much as possible. It was the time of year when, even though we had responsibilities, they weren’t as immediate or as detrimental to our precious time as at other times of the year.

That’s because summers were truly endless. It was like someone flipped the switch, the room became bright, and the bulb didn’t burn out until three months down the line. It didn’t matter that we still had church every week because nothing else was really set in stone. Because summers were for us kids. My mom still went to work every day, and she left us a chores list, but we would blast those out of the water and move on to the more fun stuff.

It’s funny. Even though we lived in the poorer part of town (sorry, North Philly) and there was a lot of… activity around, it was like we were in our own protective bubble, being kids. Continue reading “Endless Summer”

The Uneasy Truth of Fatherhood

“Any man can be a father. That simply requires DNA. But it takes a real man to be a dad.” ~Anonymous

It’s just so messed up, this idea that fathers aren’t as necessary to a child’s development and sense of security as mothers. I honestly have no idea where it came from. Maybe some psychologist somewhere in the late 1800’s or something decided this was true, and the thought just floated down the timeline. But it’s false, patently false, this thought that kids who grow up without a father are getting just as much.

They just aren’t.

I don’t say this to try and discredit single mothers. Quite the opposite. Single mothers are the backbone of love, of support, and of teaching their children to be quality members of society. Because they have all the responsibility single mothers often take it as a challenge they do their best to meet, because they love their children and give them the absolute best of themselves. All I’m saying is that kids need both, that they need two committed parents, two committed guardians, to care for them. Continue reading “The Uneasy Truth of Fatherhood”

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