So much to do and so little time
Private issues keep me from saying much about life at the moment. Things just are.
I am working on a story for submission. The piece is in editing and is currently just a bit short of 12K words. It is also my first true fantasy in the classic sense. I will post more on it as I can.
Due to the short nature of this post I have decided to share a longer story. This is one that I intended to submit some more but changed my mind. This is my modern telling of a classic fairy tale. I hope you enjoy it.
L. E. White
It was just like every other day that he came here. Dillon’s mother would make him go to playground. She would tell him that he needed fresh air and exercise. Then she would drop him off and leave to go get groceries.
After she was gone, that is when everything went bad. The other boys would pick on him. He got punched. Balls would get bounced off of his head. He would even get wedgies.
Dillon hated the park. It is always hard when you are shy. It was hard to watch them playing when you didn’t have other kids to play with. It was even harder when the others made fun of you. They called him, “Fatty” and “Lard Ball”. They called him other things that were worse.
So when his mother dropped him off Dillon would go to the swings by the mothers and wait. He had tried sitting there the entire time but that didn’t work. Sooner or later the others boys would play close by. Then the ball would bounce off his head. It was hard to move around without anyone noticing but he tried. He was careful. He had to be if he wanted to be left alone.
The other problem with going to the playground was that he couldn’t go to the bathroom. The one time he had tried to use the restrooms some older boys had shoved his head into the toilet. He couldn’t tell his mother about it. She would have frowned and shook her head but she wouldn’t have done anything else. He couldn’t have told his father either. He would have told him to stand up for himself. Worse, he might have started trying to teach him to box again. All that ever did was given his dad a chance to hit him without calling it abuse. So he had cleaned up as best he could and then sat crying all night in his room.
Dillon’s mom had just driven around the corner. He was looking around to see where he might be able to hide when he saw a new boy. This kid looked like he might be about the same age. It was hard to tell how old Dillon was because of his size. The new boy had the same problem. The new guy was sitting under a tree not too far from the mother’s benches so he had also found a pretty good place.
The other thing was that this new kid had food with him. Dillon saw him raise his hand to his mouth. It had looked like a cookie.
Dillon started walking that direction. He had to get out of the parking lot before anyone really noticed him. The new kid was close to the safer parts so it made sense to go there. The truth however, was that Dillon desperately wanted to see if the new kid would share. His mother had put him on a diet over a year ago but it wasn’t helping. There hadn’t been anything from the store that wasn’t sugar free, fat free and low carb for that year. She had stopped baking and insisted that both Dillon and his father eat more vegetables.
When Dillon got close to the swings where he usually started and ended his playground excursion the new kid looked up and smiled. It was a re-assuring thing to see. The other kid didn’t get up and move away, he didn’t hide the bag, a whole bag, of cookies that he had brought with him. He didn’t even glare at Dillon to keep him back. He actually smiled.
So, based on that tiny gesture of kindness Dillon walked over to the tree. “Hi.” He said
“Hi.” The other boy replied, wiping crumbs off his hands before extending his hand up towards Dillon, “My name is Harry. What’s yours?”
Harry nodded and looked over at the basketball court. “You know many of the kids out here?”
“No.” Dillon said. He shifted around and sat beside Harry with his back to the tree. “There aren’t very many nice people at this park. You have to move around a little or they come up and start picking on you.”
“That sucks.” Harry said. He reached into the bag and pulled out another cookie. It looked like chocolate chip but Dillon was sure he could smell something else to. “How old are you anyway?”
“I turn ten in a few weeks.” Dillon said, “What about you?”
“I just turned ten.” Harry answered. He finished the cookie in about three bites and then reached into the bag again. Dillon was having trouble not looking into the bag to see if there were more. He wanted to ask for one to but he had always been told that it was rude.
Harry must have noticed because he picked up the bag and leaned it towards Dillon. “You want one? My grandma made them. They are chocolate chip and toffee.”
“Thanks.” Dillon said. He took a cookie out of the bag and took a small bite. He groaned as he slowly chewed the bite. The first real cookie in almost a year and it was pure heaven.
“That good huh?” Harry asked before biting into another cookie. “You sound like you haven’t had a cookie in weeks.”
“I haven’t.” Dillon said around a mouthful of baked happiness. He finished the cookie before telling Harry about the diet.
“That sucks. Why don’t you just get something at school?”
“I am home schooled.” Dillon said, “My mom is my teacher. This park is the only place we ever go where she leaves me alone. There isn’t a vending machine anywhere near by.”
Harry turned to look at him for a second before offering him another cookie. “My grandma bakes all the time.” He said, “You can have as many as you want.”
“My mom never bakes.” Dillon said as he helped himself to more cookies, “The only thing she makes all the time is salad.”
Harry laughed before he popped another cookie into his mouth. This continued until the boys had finished the bag. They talked about all sorts of things and before Dillon knew it his mother was there to pick him up. For the first time he hadn’t been picked on. Nobody had hit him with the ball. Today had been a good day to be at the park.
“I’ll see you again.” Harry said.
“I hope so.”
It was two days later when Dillon’s mother took him back to the park. He had been dreaming of the cookies, but he had also been thinking that it would be nice to invite Harry over to play video games.
The boys had talked about comic books and action figures. Dillon had a lot in common with Harry. It would be nice to see him again and as soon as his mother dropped him off Dillon had started looking for Harry. He didn’t find him in any of the safe spots. He didn’t know if Harry was there and in trouble or if he was going to come to the park at all. Dillon sat down in one of the swings and started slowly turning in little half circles. He wanted to find Harry but didn’t actually know if he was going to come to the park today or not.
Dillon stood up and started to head out to look for him. If Harry was in trouble nobody else would help him. He was to the edge of the pea gravel that marked out the safest part of the playground when he heard someone behind him call out his name. He turned around and saw Harry walking up the street.
Once he was there the boys had sat down under the same tree again. They talked about games and what had happened on their favorite cartoons while eating another bag of cookies that Harry’s grandmother had sent him to the park with.
“I wish my mom would make cookies like this for me.” Dillon said.
“Why don’t you ask her to?” Harry asked.
“Because I already know she will say no.” Dillon said. He looked into the empty bag with a sad expression. “She used to cook a lot but when the doctor said that I had high cholesterol she started the diet. My dad has it to and she said she won’t buy anymore junk food.”
“But have you ever asked her to bake you cookies?” Harry asked. “If she hasn’t said no then you don’t know if she will or not.”
Dillon looked at him for a minute before he nodded and said. “I wish I could just get your grandma to make me some cookies. Those are great.”
“Those are nothing.” Harry said. He had a big smile as he proudly told Dillon all about the dinners that his grandmother made. The food sounded fantastic after last night’s veggie pizza. But the thing that really made Dillon’s mouth water was the cake.
“I love cake.” Dillon said. “I miss eating cake at the coffee shop my mom always went to on the way home from work.”
“My grandma won’t let me take cake out of the house.” Harry said. “But maybe one day you can come over.”
“I would love to but I don’t think my mom will let me.”
Harry nodded and sat there quietly for a minute. He frowned when Dillon’s mom pulled into the parking lot and honked. He looked at Dillon as he stood up and said, “I don’t live that far away from here. If you wanted to we could probably go to my house for a little while and come back before your mom came to pick you up.”
“I don’t know.” Dillon said
“Don’t worry about it. We can talk again the next time. See you later.”
* * *
The next time Dillon went to the park Harry was nowhere to be found. He waited and walked around looking for him but he didn’t find him.
Walking around the playground alone was bad. When he had been with Harry the last two times Dillon hadn’t been picked on at all. Now though, he was alone. In less than twenty minutes he had been called at least a dozen names and hit in the back with a basketball and in the face with a football.
He was standing in front of the bathrooms trying to decide if he should risk going in to check for Harry when Dillon heard someone call his name. Harry was waving at him as he walked between the football and soccer fields. Dillon nearly jumped for joy as he hurried away from the restrooms.
When they met Dillon was a little out of breath but he was smiling from ear to ear. “I was worried that something had happened to you.” He told Harry as they both turned to head to the swings.
“Nope, I was just busy helping Grandma.” Harry said. “She just got back from the store and I helped carry in the groceries. I put them up while she started baking.”
“What is she making?” Dillon asked.
“A chocolate cheese cake.” Harry replied
“That sounds really good.” Dillon said
“So come over and get a piece. It should be done by the time we get there.” Harry said. He didn’t stop walking when he got to the swings but kept going towards the gate to the park.
Dillon kept pace beside him as he said, “I don’t know, if my mom gets back and I’m not here she is gonna freak out.”
“She isn’t gonna get back before we do.” Harry said, “It isn’t very far and you haven’t been here that long have you?”
“No.” Dillon said.
Harry didn’t say anything else; he just walked out of the park. Dillon hesitated at the gate for a moment before he hurried to catch up with Harry.
They walked a few blocks before coming to a little house tucked in between two much larger buildings. It had a white picket fence and flowers growing along the walk. Dillon thought it looked odd between the big brick homes but he could smell food from the sidewalk. Harry’s bike was leaning against the garage and an old toy truck was lying underneath the swing on the porch.
When they went to the door Harry opened it and yelled in, “Grandma, I’m home and I brought a friend.”
The boys walked towards the kitchen. The smell of chocolate filled the air and Dillon’s stomach rumbled so loudly the Harry laughed as he led him through the kitchen doorway.
Standing beside a big table was a little old woman who was nearly as round as she was tall. Her hair was so gray that it looked blue and she had thick glasses. “Hello dear.” She said as Harry walked around the table and gave her a hug. “Who is your friend.”
“This is Dillon,” Harry said, “I met him at the park and told him about how great a cook you are and he wanted to try something.”
She looked at Dillon through her glasses for a second before smiling as she said, “Well that’s nice. Now Dillon, tell me about yourself while I cut you a piece of the cheese cake I just made.”
Dillon talked as he watched her carve a big slice of the cheese cake. Harry’s grandmother then poured a glass of milk to go with it and sat them down in front of him. She smiled at him and pinched his cheek a little before turning back and cutting another piece of cheese cake for Harry.
The boys sat there eating. Dillon didn’t say much as he inhaled the food. Harry’s grandmother just watched as they ate. “Now don’t forget to drink your milk Dillon.” She said when he used his finger to wipe up the last smear of the chocolate syrup from the plate.
Dillon didn’t have to be told twice. He tipped the glass back and emptied it. He smiled at Harry as he looked at his empty plate. “Don’t you like milk?” He asked.
Harry looked down at his plate. “I never drink the milk.” He said.
“Why not?” Dillon asked, trying to keep from yawning in between the words.
“Because Dear,” the old woman said, “that is where I put the poison.”
Dillon looked at her while fighting to keep his eyes open. “What?”
“I put something in the milk so that you will sleep.” She said. She then walked over to the table and picked up a big cleaver. “That way you won’t run away or scream.”
Dillon looked at Harry. He opened his mouth to say something but couldn’t get the words to come out. His mouth and eyes both opened and closed a few times before settling down. Dillon slumped down in his chair and slid to the floor.
The little old women let out a cackling laugh before she glared at Harry. “Get him up on the table so I can get started.”
While Harry huffed and pulled Dillon up onto the table the women took off the glasses. She went to the butcher block and collected a number of different blades before she walked back and laid them out on the table beside of Dillon.
“You had better hurry up and go find another one.” She said without looking away from Dillon. “If you had taken any longer in bringing him to me I would have been forced to put your sister in the pot. After all these years, I would think you would be better at this. ”
He wiped his eyes as he headed out the door; only pausing long enough to grab another bag of cookies off the counter.