Remote, June 3, 2022

This Show Case features six pieces submitted in response to our eighteenth Writing Prompt: Remote. You can see responses to each prompt in the drop down menu for this page. Try an item. They are all delicious. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt, which you can find on the Show Case home page.

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Between You and Me . . .

by Mimi Speike

Bear isn’t much company. Maisie, having seen a lot of life, was able to talk* on any subject. Bear had a few good years playing tea party with a snot knee-high. From there, he saw the inside of a box. Even if he could talk, he’d be no great-shakes of a conversationalist. 

I tell him he’s a fascinating fellow. I’m trying to build up his confidence. I talk too much about Maisie. Gotta hit the breaks on that. He feels compared to a truly extraordinary personality.


A kid down the hall is one of them Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nobody in my building wants to have anything to do with me except for him. He checks in with me nearly every day. If he’s going to the market, he asks if I need anything. 

I have a suspicion my sister in Teaneck, who drops by less and less frequently, has deputized Buzzy to look after me. She and my brother in Asheville pay my rent, that’s how come I’m not on the street. My business buying and selling Mulot memorabilia has not taken off. That’s one reason I’m writing Maisie’s bio. I’m sitting on a small fortune in Mulot items. When interest in her explodes, I’ll be sitting pretty. Then my sister will be laughing out the other side of her mouth. My brother too. They both think I’m unhinged.

Buzzy’s not so on-the-ball himself. He’s a former alcoholic eager to share his story of redemption. Hey, we’re all trying to latch onto a lifeline of some sort. My sister is a case in point. Our family was difficult. My sister reacted to that turmoil by falling prey to one creep after another; she couldn’t bear to be alone. 

I’ve always felt my upbringing was like a party game we played as kids. You were blindfolded, spun around, handed a paper tail, asked to pin it onto a representation of a donkey tacked to a wall. My parents spun me around all my growing-up years, after which I was expected to walk the straight and narrow and to do big things with my life. Yeah, right.

My sis most recently took up with a former priest who’d served time for altar-boy molestation. Booted from the Catholic church, he’d glommed onto something called Science of Mind. For a couple years, until that creep dropped dead (they either left her or dropped dead. I do thank them for that), I got a packet of Science of Mind goofiness every Christmas. 

Her husband managed to convince her that Science of Mind was the solution to her fear of being alone. Sci-Mi, she tells me, is a wonderful support system. She feels safe. She feels accepted for the first time in her life. She feels whole

Safe. Accepted. Whole. Similar to redeemed, no? Buzzy talks redeemed a lot. Bear listens intently. He feels redeemed, I’m sure. Fifty years in a box. Talk about risen from the dead! I get where he’s coming from.

Buzzy comes by, grills me. “Do you honestly believe life has no meaning? Everything that happens is a random occurrence?” Yes, Buzzy, yes I do. He always gets around to some version of: Seek refuge in a higher power. 

I quote George Carlin: “People believe in an afterlife because they can’t bear not to.” We go at it, we spar.

Buzzy: “I will not fear, for He is ever with me, and will never leave me to face my perils alone.” 

Me/Carlin: “Religion is like a pair of shoes . . . Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.”

Buzzy: “Belief in a heavenly presence gives peace of mind. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end for me.” 

Buzzy is getting on my nerves. Yesterday I hustled him out the door and, I’m sorry to say, exploded at Bear. I spat, “Well I know where it will end for you. Back in that box for another fifty years.” A low blow. I regretted it immediately. I tried to make it up to him: “You have every right to your own opinion. Back in the box, I’d never do that to you. And I’ll see you’re in good hands before I cash out of this casino.” 

Tonight I’m sending out for pizza. We’ll have Buzzy to a pizza party. Bear’s always at me to ask him over. I’m in for a God-Gab to beat the band. But here’s my chance to smooth things over with the Bear-o. I’ll lean into the J-Hov joke. That will maybe make up for my unnecessary nastiness of yesterday. That’s my short-term fix. Long-term is trickier. I have to nip this thing in the bud, or I won’t only have a crazed J-Hov down the hall, I’ll be co-habitating with one. 

I hide my booze when Buzz drops by. J-Hovs don’t drink. Bear doesn’t drink, but he doesn’t object to me sipping my martinis. But I see it coming. Bear’s lapping up that J-Hov guff like it’s a jar of honey. 

Buzzy lends me his study-notes to peruse. Maisie made me read Dickens to her. Bear expects me to read those notes to him. I read a page a night. Buzzy writes a large, childish hand. It takes no time at all, and pleases Bear no end. 


I’ve decided to rename Bear Buckley. He looks down his long nose at me. He has that small smirk on his face that William F. Buckley frequently wore, that so-pleased-with-himself smirk that made you want to sock him a good one. Buckley is perfect for him. Buckley it is. 

I’ve given Buckley a good home. Good as I can afford. It can’t compare to the surroundings he once enjoyed. The set of furniture he came with was a toy for a rich little girl. It wasn’t cheap then; it isn’t cheap now. A similar set sold at Christie’s for eleven-hundred dollars. Their set didn’t include the box, nor did it have a tiny teddy bear of the same vintage. I expect mine to bring a deal more.

How’d I get my mitts on that set? Auctions sometimes include box lots that few have the patience to dig into. (I hit the auction sales for, natch, Mulot merch.) I have money put aside for just such an opportunity. I won a box lot for two-hundred dollars. 

A housemate of mine way back snagged a small Lenci, not one of those nothing-special international dolls either, in a box lot for, as I recall, fifty bucks. It happens.


Maisie regarded our humble home as a refuge. She’d lived in splendor also, but was almost embarrassingly grateful for the few comforts I was able to provide her. She never looked down her nose at me in all the time I knew her. And she was a creature of gargantuan accomplishment. 

Buckley may or may not be a fine pianist. In my initial enthusiasm, I may have made too much of it. 

He’s certainly not the soulmate I was hoping for. Not the remotest chance of that. 

Buckley, same as any of us, deserves a home in which he is cherished. He’s under the J-Hov spell, that’s crystal-clear. I must impress on Buzzy that he has made a convert. I must convince him to take custody of the little twit. 

But I’m keeping the furniture, unless he come up with eleven-hundred smackeroos. With bear and box, that’s a bargain. Okay, I’ll cut him a real deal. I’ll let it go for an even thou.

It occurs to me that Bear may refuse to be resituated without his piano. I’ll rent them the piano. They’ll have to sign a contract: Buzzy buys me an extra-large deluxe pizza once a week, or the equivalent value in salads and grinders. I retain ownership of the piano; physical possession of said instrument to revert to me upon demand. 

What if Buckley refuses to let go of it? What if he insists on moving back with me? Maisie would know how to handle this. I sure wish Maisie were here. 


*Maisie did talk to me. She produced cleanly-articulated sounds that I understood. She was also a master of body language. She had been an (you must permit me, her biggest fan, to say the) outstanding presence in silent pictures, where body language was crucial to telling a story. 

Bear has his body language, that you pick up on after you’ve lived with him a while. What I’ve gleaned of his politics, I don’t care for at all. He and Maisie are diametric opposites. She was the ultimate free spirit. He, having spent his formative years amidst privilege, is, unsurprisingly, big on rules, tradition, that crap. 

That would be some meet-up, the two of them facing off. 

It’s never gonna happen. Except in my dreams maybe.

Eleven Thousand Miles Away

by GD Deckard

The children watched it approach, a dark spot on the horizon becoming a dust cloud then a dust cloud following a truck on a road through the savannah. Others came out of the camp to watch, excited.

“It’s the NGO!”

“Yes! The NGO is coming.”

“We’re saved,” they told each other. “Food is coming.”

The children were very hungry. Malnourished and too weak to cheer, they watched the truck arrive, U-turn and back up to the people. Brisk young men and women jumped out. They set up a solar charged satellite station and wired it to a TV on a table and got back into the truck and drove off. Everyone gathered around to watch the cooking shows.

In New York, an accountant looked at the bill and smiled. The NGO loved doing things for people in remote areas where nobody ever checked and giving needy people a TV was expensive. Donors would pay handsomely for this one.


Remote Control

by Scott D. Vander Ploeg

The weekends were the hardest part of the divorce. Ted had the rental house wired to play the local NPR radio station as soon as he entered and hit the light switch. The voices and occasional music helped him feel less alone, though he consciously had come to a sort of equilibrium about it. He had lost interest in masturbating, after the initial few weeks of separation. He had two piles of books on either side of the lounge chair that he brought to the unfurnished house. The pile on the left were the unread books he intended to read, and the books he had read mounted high on the right. He thought it good that like reading, the books went left-to-right and mentally congratulated himself on this fact. Such small victories were important to him. He did not bother with getting a television. 

He had no trouble occupying his time, but by Sunday night, he felt a good deal bereft, for having had no human contact, nobody to speak with, for half of Friday and all of Saturday and Sunday, something like sixty-hours. Ted had decided he would not be mournful over his situation, that he would celebrate in quiet joy the continued small victories and minor accomplishments: dishes drying in the rack, the sink clear and empty and scoured clean. Dirty dishes felt like death to him. He was not OCD about the clean kitchen, but it was a point of pride. He had accomplished something, albeit commonplace and astringent, like a sip of soured milk. Looking back from Sunday night, the hours stretched back as a pathway incrementally dimmer in memory. 

The week ahead included people, but he carried his solitariness with him into those interactions. It was good to speak with other people, and hear about their emotions and accidents, their other-people-ness. The contacts were minimal though, because at the warehouse he assistant-managed he mostly went over lading bills and inventories, and only spoke to co-workers when there was activity that needed performing. At lunch, he ate the sandwich he had prepared the previous night, or microwaved some leftover bowl of whatever pasta dish he had mindlessly prepared for the dinner before. Nobody else took lunch with him. 

He switched the audio from another episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” to his CD-player, a five-CD carousel, and pushed the remote-control button for the shift to random play. After some time listening to Pat Metheny and Miles Davis, Simon and Garfunkle’s “I Am A Rock” began to play. Ted stopped reading the interminable Ken Follett historical-fiction series and paid attention to the lyrics:


I have my books

And my poetry to protect me

I am shielded in my armor

Hiding in my room

Safe within my womb

I touch no one and no one touches me


I am a rock

I am an island


And a rock feels no pain

And an island never cries


Ted hadn’t had a hug or a kiss, a pat on the back or a nudge by an elbow in many months, and he reflected on that as a kind of ghost-limb that he missed. He couldn’t completely prevent a few tears, staring at the CD-player remote-control. Somehow, he would have to change this existence.  

Remote Control

by Perry Palin

I sat alone on the tailgate of Bill’s pickup, listening to the warblers in the trees, and discouraging the mosquitoes from biting the backs of my hands and my face and ears. I had taken off my waders, taken down my fly rod, and stuffed my gear in the proper bags. I was waiting for Bill, who was late. I didn’t think a little lateness was a problem.  

Bill had been anxious to try Juopunut Mies Creek, a small stream of clear pools and gravel shallows running through mixed hardwoods and black spruce. He parked the truck where I told him, in a pullout on the fire lane a quarter of a mile from the stream. I told him to fish downstream into the woods, and when I reached the water I would wade upstream to the beaver meadow and the swamp. We were to meet at the truck in three hours. Bill made sure his new phone was on. 

I asked him, “Why are you bringing that thing into the woods?”

“It has GPS. When I am done fishing, it will lead me right back to the truck.”

I thought his phone was an encumbrance. “I thought you went fishing to get away from your job, and your responsibilities, and your kids, and your emails. And now you carry them all along in your pocket.”

“I won’t look at emails and I won’t answer the phone if it rings. I just want to be sure to get back to the truck.”

He wasn’t going to leave his new pet behind. “So you navigate the woods by remote control. Why don’t you watch your path on the way in, and then retrace your steps to come out?”  

Bill said, “Let’s go fishing.” 

He went downstream and I went upstream on Juopunut Mies Creek. Four hours later I was waiting on the tailgate of his truck.

Bill finally emerged from the roadside brush. He was soaked from head to foot. His chest high waders were full of water, bulging like a balloon. I didn’t have to say anything. He lay down on a low slope alongside the truck, feet up and head down, and some of the water ran from his waders onto the ground. He got to his feet, shivering.

Bill said, “I fell in.”

“I see.”

Bill threw his sodden cap into the bed of his truck. He needed help with his waders, and tugging and pulling, I got them off. He threw his dripping socks on top of his cap. He pulled his new phone out of a pocket and placed it on the tailgate. The screen was dark.

“Well, at least your phone led you back to the road.”

“It stopped working after I fell in.”

“Hmmm. How did you find your way back, then?”

“I followed the path that I made when I was walking down to the stream.”

The Happiness Catcher

by Boris Glikman

In a land distant both in time and place,

the most sacred object is a butterfly net

with big holes in it—symbolising happiness.

For, you see, we spend so long chasing happiness

and then, having captured it, we try

to embrace it with both our arms

and hold it close to our hearts, 

yet it wriggles free from our clutches

and flies far away,

leaving us only with precious recollections 

of our momentary encounter 

to sustain us for the rest of our lives.

Perhaps it is just as well it escapes our grasp,

for it is so fragile and delicate

that were we to grab its gossamer wings

with our crude, clumsy fingers

we would damage it at once beyond repair.

And so it is better we are granted

a fleeting glimpse at happiness

rather than mangling it

and destroying forever its magic.

So Far Away

by S.T. Ranscht

Six-year old Sarah tiptoed into the darkened bedroom and quavered in her tiniest voice, “Mommy?”

Mommy lay on top of the perfectly made bed — the way only Daddy made it. Her black satin, lace-edged eye mask was the darkest shadow on her face. The creepy painted-on eyes stared at the ceiling.

It was lunch time, but Mommy was still wearing the flannel nightgown and knee socks she wore last night when she came to the table after Daddy told her the pizza was there. The only thing she’d said then was, “Thanks.” She seemed to be somewhere else.

Mommy’s response now was, “Mm.” It wasn’t a question or even an acknowledgement that Sarah was in the room. It was just a sound she might have made in her sleep.

Edging a little closer to the bed, Sarah whispered, “Mommy? Are you going to get up?”

Mommy rolled onto her side, away from Sarah, leaving a wrinkled dip in the bedspread. “No,” she mumbled.

Sarah’s thumb found its way into her mouth. She left without a sound and closed the door softly behind her.

In the living room, she climbed onto the couch next to Daddy. He set his favorite computer magazine aside.

“What’s up, kiddo?” He smiled as he took her hand and wiped her wet thumb on his sleeve.

“Does Mommy have the flu?”

“I don’t think so,” he answered. “Why do you ask?”

“She said she won’t get up.”

“I think she’s just really tired and she needs a nap.” Daddy put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into a hug. His shirt was comfy and he smelled like fabric softener and coffee. He looked at his watch. “Hey. How’d you like to go get a cheeseburger? And maybe a chocolate shake? And after that we can go to the park.”

Sarah leaned back to see his face. “Can we go to the library, too?”

“That’s what I was gonna say!”

“Should we tell Mommy? She might worry if we’re gone when she wakes up.”

“I’ll let her know right now. You go get your shoes on.”

Her parent’s voices were low and serious-sounding when she stopped to wait outside their bedroom door. She couldn’t tell what they were saying. Daddy wasn’t smiling when he opened the door, but as soon as he saw her, his whole face lit up.

“Mommy hopes you have a good time today,” he said, taking her hand and leading her to the car.


When Sarah came home from school the next day and Daddy was still at work, the bedroom door was open and the dressing area light was on. She watched Mommy’s reflection in the big mirror over the two sinks as she poured all the pills out of a brown container from the doctor into her hand and looked at them. Sarah thought she must be counting them. Mommy looked up and saw her in the mirror.

“You’re home,” she said. She scraped all the pills but two back into the container, then swallowed the last two with some water.

Sarah hugged her around her hips. “I love you, Mommy.”

Mommy didn’t move or say anything.

“Do you love me?” Sarah asked, trying not to cry.

Putting the pills in the medicine cabinet, Mommy’s voice was flat and hard. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m your mother. Of course I love you.” She released herself from Sarah’s hug, then stopped to really look at her upturned face. Mommy’s eyes closed and her shoulders sank. Her voice softened.

“I’m sorry, Sarah… I just can’t… Maybe it would be better if…” She picked up her eye mask from the nightstand. “I have to sleep,” she said as she stretched out on the bed.

Sarah looked away and left the room when the creepy eyes turned toward her.

Later, she met Daddy at the front door, saying, “I think Mommy’s sick.”

“Oh?” He squatted down to face her. “What makes you think so?”

“She’s so far away and she’s still in her nightgown and she was taking some of her pills from the doctor.”

His lips tightened as he nodded. “I’ll go check on her.”

When he came back, Sarah followed him into the kitchen and watched him toss Mommy’s pills into the waste basket.

“Doesn’t Mommy need those any more?”

“No. The doctor can give her more if she needs them.” He turned to her and smiled. “What would you like for dinner, kiddo?”


Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom door was closed when Sarah came home from school the next day. She knocked a feathery knock. “Mommy? I’m home.”

She wasn’t sure she heard a sleepy groan. Sighing, she went to get a peanut butter crackers snack pack, but somebody had messed up the kitchen. Cupboard doors hung open, drawers were pulled out, and there was trash all over the floor. 

She left without the snack and curled up on her own bed with her thumb in her mouth.


Moonlight was the only light in her room when Daddy sat on the edge of her bed and rubbed her back to wake her up. Other people were moving through the house making bumpy rolling noises as they went out the front door. Something dripped on the back of Sarah’s hand when Daddy picked it up to dry her thumb.

“What is it, Daddy?”

“Sweetie, Mommy’s gone,” he whispered.

“Where? I thought she was sleeping.”

“Someplace far away.”

“Can we visit her?”

“No, we can’t. I’m sorry, Sarah.”

Sarah sat up. “But she didn’t say good-bye.”

“I know, and that’s hard.” He lifted her chin to look in her eyes. “You know she loved you, right?”

“Yes.” Sarah heard the distant voice in her head. “She told me yesterday.”

“She did? Then you are a very lucky little girl,” Daddy said, wrapping her in his arms.

Sarah wondered why he thought that. Maybe someday she’d ask him. Right now, it was enough that he smelled like coffee and home.



34 responses to “Remote, June 3, 2022”

  1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Thank you all for sharing your creativity so generously. I am honored to curate this font of originality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Boris Avatar

    Thank you Susan for putting this together.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      My pleasure, Boris.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. GD Deckard Avatar

    Charly doesn’t approve of much, but he enjoyed my reading “Between You and Me” to him. He normally just sits on my desk. I talk to him when we have visitors and they leave me alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GD Deckard Avatar

    Wow, Scott! You can write fiction stories. I enjoyed reading every line of Remote Control.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. GD Deckard Avatar

    Perry, Remote Control is an enjoyable, humorous story.
    It reminded me of fishing alone north of Fairbanks one summer evening. I parked the car and walked a ways into the woods where I fished a stream, crisscrossing it as I went. It was a glorious time under the Midnight Sun, but around my bedtime, I headed back to the car, confident that I knew where I was going. I’d forgotten which way the road was from the stream and headed in the wrong direction. Amazing, how realizing you are lost just makes you more disoriented. I had a compass, but was pissed that I’d become lost in the first place, and I wandered about stubornly for 45 minutes before using it. Finally, I let the compass lead me back and came out on the road within sighting distance of the car.
    Compasses are good. Not paying attention in the wilderness is bad.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. GD Deckard Avatar

    “The Happiness Catcher” invokes excellent imagery. I especially liked the line, “a butterfly net with big holes in it—symbolising happiness.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Boris Avatar

      Thank you GD!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. GD Deckard Avatar

    Sue, “So Far Away” is a well-constructed story. The plot becomes predictable, but you capture real emotions and that carries the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thanks, GD. I hoped that seeing it from a six-year old’s perspective might emphasize the tragedy of the only person who didn’t see the inevitable conclusion approaching, and knowing she will carry her mother’s dismissive declaration of love. From what you say, I think it worked.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. GD Deckard Avatar

        Oh, it worked. Just trying to be a good critique partner 😉 I mean, imagine the O. Henry punch of that story if the reader and the child “got it” at the same time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

          You are an excellent critique partner. Now, thanks to you, I have a deeper vision for reworking this to ask more of it. No one can expect more of a critique partner than that.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

        I too think it worked.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

          Thank you, Mellow, for saying so.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. mimispeike Avatar

    Perry, your fishing stories transport me to a time and place that I probably enjoy most from here and now. Fishing never enchanted me, and I grew up two blocks off the Gulf of Mexico in Crystal Beach, Florida.

    You make me want to reread A River Runs Through It, that I loved, thirty years ago. I could read your fishing stories forever.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. mimispeike Avatar

    Boris, so true, and beautifully put. At this stage of my life, true happiness, being pain-free, is apparently an impossibility.

    I’d settle for the happiness of a cat who doesn’t insist on sitting on my keyboard. Is that too much to ask? Again, apparently so.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Boris Avatar

      Thank you Mimi, appreciate your thoughts about my poem!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. mimispeike Avatar

    Scott, “The week ahead included people, but he carried his solitariness with him into those interactions.” Lovely. I get this man. You have written my story.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. mimispeike Avatar

    GD, amusing, but too neat for my taste. I’d like it more if it took place on an alien world. Or, with Old Spice on hand to give those morons hell.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      You’re right, of course. I was just writing an under 200 word flash fiction to belittle everyone involved:
      Inadequate parents who perpetually fail to provide for their children, oblivious do-gooders incapable of actually solving problems, twits who donate money for any cause that feels good, and capitalists who make money off of it all. That’s the NGO formula for success.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

        I like the tight focus on a perverse NGO and the irony of helping hungry people watch cooking shows, w/o dragging in Old Spice.

        There are a zillion NGO-s, and I believe that some do make intelligent (and sometimes successful) efforts to be truly helpful.  The Against Malaria Foundation is an example.  But some NGO-s (and some government projects) are indeed as perverse as the one in the story.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. GD Deckard Avatar

          Thanks, MELLOW. The NGOs I respect are like Doctors Without Borders because they provide a necessary service, where that service does not exist.

          I remember a call-in radio show about “helping Haiti.” A caller from Haiti called to say stop sending shoes. His family made its living operating a shoe store and nobody was buying shoes from them anymore because shoes were now free. I wondered about shoe manufacturers selling shoes by the warehouse full & pocketing profits for so little effort. For them, charity is the easiest sale.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

            Doctors Without Borders is one that I like too.  I chip in what I can and told Amazon Smile to donate a sliver of what I spend at Amazon to them.

            Liked by 2 people

  12. mimispeike Avatar

    Sue, the story works, but I am not touched by it. I do not feel the horror of it for the child. You say, she . . . curled up on her own bed with her thumb in her mouth. Maybe she’s used to the turmoil. I think we have to assume that. I think she’s learned to be low key in a house full of drama. And that would be a story in itself.

    I would love to see a first-person telling, written years later when the girl has the maturity to convey her emotions at the time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      I can see that as part of a reworking…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. mimispeike Avatar

        I spent my growing-up years in a rage that I never expressed. I hid it inside me and numbed my emotions, because who can live like that, furious most of the time? To the world we looked like a normal family. My mother was an alcoholic, who got worse and worse.

        I was a bit older, but not by much. By age twelve I was thinking, only six more years and I can get out of here. All I have to do is last six more years.

        I understand this girl.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

          Mimi, I know we each bring our own lives to what we read and write, so I can understand how you’ve identified with this character. But maybe you can tell me where you see the drama and rage here.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. mimispeike Avatar

            What I’m saying is, children understand more than they let on. I don’t see rage in the child, but there’s something there, there’s got to be, that you don’t hint at.

            In a dysfunctional household, I was full of rage. But I kept my mouth shut, knowing nothing I could say would help, but would only add to the misery.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

              At some point in my early adolescence, shortly before I turned 14 and stopped being terrified of my father, I began to realize that each family I knew, and probably every family that ever was, lives with its own dysfunctions. They may differ in kind and degree, but there is no perfect Ozzie and Harriet family. And children believe either that their own family is uniquely awful or unfortunately normal. I don’t know if rage is the most common reaction, but I do know it’s not the only one. And I knew even then that we can decide how we will react. Judging from my sisters and my friends, that was not common knowledge.

              I also developed an early sense that each person is who they are, and I had no right to expect them to change. I just had to understand them. So I grew up paying attention, noting the causes and effects, trying to see why they felt the way they felt, thought the things they thought, did the things they did — not with the goal of getting out as soon as I turned 18, but with conscious decisions that if I ever had children, I would not treat them the way my parents treated us.

              Here I see a little girl who just wants to be loved, but feels her mother’s depressive remoteness and doesn’t know what she’s done wrong that makes her mother not love her. She doesn’t understand how lovingly her father shields her from her mother’s quiet mental illness. She doesn’t understand the hints of his pain. Some day she probably will understand all of it, but she doesn’t yet.

              Liked by 3 people

  13. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    The last week and a half slipped past me mocking my inattention. Apologies.

    Mimi – I think the difference between the narrator’s feelings about Buckley and those she still has for Maisie show most starkly in this piece. Her disappointment in him and her willingness to get rid of the bear and make him rent the little piano shows the narrator’s less humane side. Will Buckley finally speak up in his own defense?

    GD – This cynical look at NGOs shows more humor than bitterness, creating a tentative balance that allows the reader to enjoy the irony.

    Scott – I feel for Ted’s loneliness, but as someone who has often striven to be the island no man is, I harbor the hope he might begin to see the positive side of his current situation.

    Perry — Isn’t that always the way? You give your best advice only to have it ignored and then have it save the day. Very amusing.

    Boris — Your tale carries the authority of ancient wisdom left behind by long-gone cultures, sharing universal understanding that happiness is delicate and elusive. Nicely told.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      Dang! It’s harder to be seriously bitter than I thought.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Boris Avatar

      Susan, thank you for your thoughts about “The Happiness Catcher”.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Boris Avatar

    Belated thanks for bringing the remote right into my computer room, Sue!


  15. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Serving from afar is the next best thing to being there!


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