So, this month I’m doing a challenge to write a micro a day, for Just-Jot-It-January. Thanks to Linda G. Hill, bloggers in the “Play Group” have proposed a one-word prompt for each day. Today’s prompt, “TEMPEST” was my suggestion! We share our responses back to Linda’s page, and are able to read what others come up with. I’ll post my responses every few days in bundles, to respect your in-boxes. But if a prompt tickles your imagination, please click its connecting link to read more!
Jan 7: Tempest
Eye of the Storm
It’d been one hell of a night. She came home from the evening shift to find the kitchen sink full, with dishes, as well as soapy water. This suggested an attempt had been made. Baby steps, she told herself, and opted to leave the mess for tomorrow.
The fridge had the essentials: milk, butter, peanut butter, ground coffee, kid-friendly yogurt with magical fruit flavors, the hotdish she’d made for her family scooped into and cleared of all the tater tots she’d spread over the top. The plastic wrap covering the dish had lifted loose on one side; she neatly tucked it under. Shaking the milk jug, she noted that there was plenty for breakfast tomorrow, and turned, jug in hand, pushing the door closed behind her with the bottom of her foot.
Grabbing a glass from the sink, she rinsed it and shook out the extra water, poured herself a tall cool one, then wiped away her milk mustache by the reflection in the kitchen window. I really need to cut these curls. Too much work to take care of, between the kids and the job. She slid the glass into the sink and the milk onto the top shelf of the fridge, and grabbed a piece of bread from the loaf on the counter, biting down before heading upstairs to check on her twins.
Her spouse was asleep in front of the television. She gently pried the remote from between his fingers and turned the volume down. He’d wake up if she turned it completely off, and she needed her alone time. Five people had died in the nursing home that night, the result of weakened immune systems and a scarcity of vaccines to battle the pandemic in their geographically isolated community.
It had continued to be a hell of a night. The twins had caught some kind of flu — I hope it’s just the flu – and were up for most of it, taking it in turns to puke and cry. They’d run out of clean sheets, and she’d made a game of sorts: camping on the carpeted floor in the hallway, wrapped in beach towels, in a blanket fort. The twins had been too miserable to complain, but their symptoms had eventually eased and they fell asleep about the time the garbage trucks started rattling down their dark, wintery streets. He can’t stand watching people vomit, but he could have offered to help.
She took a quick look in the bathroom mirror, noting the dark bruises under her reddened eyes, her pale, pasty face, and the asymmetrical tangle of her hair, as if she’d been sucked up in a tornado, tossed around in a tempest, and spit up on a remote sandy beach somewhere.
She chose to focus on the image of an after-storm sunrise, the tropical scents of a warm, sunny beach, and the clear cry of a seagull on the wing, as she stepped around her twins and headed back downstairs to the kitchen. There’s coffee to be had there, and a sunrise to watch.
She focused on these positive images instead of the fact that the TV was off, her spouse was nowhere to be found, and she didn’t know where he’d gone, as usual. He’ll be back to watch the kids for my next shift; he always does that.
The sunrise was beautiful, blooming scarlet apricot behind the low mountain range, and the coffee was hot and bitter and cleansing. This was what she had for now. It was enough.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2022)
To see others’ Jan 7 responses click the following:
Jan 6: Anticipation
Sunrise intrudes as shades rattle open.
Slippers whisper across the carpet.
They scrape alarum across the kitchen floor.
Should’ve put long socks on,
To guard against the nightgown-gap chill.
Bend into the fridge, top shelf.
Capture the vital ingredient for morning elixir.
Pop the seal, sway light-headed over the cool aroma.
Savage scoop, fill the pod, snap it shut, then
Push a button to start the light show.
Elbows on the counter, head low,
Lean into the chuckle of hot water trickling,
Machine to tall ceramic cup.
The scent is enough to bring the cat running.
He knows his breakfast is what’s up next.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2022)
To see others’ Jan 6 responses click the following:
Jan 4: Generosity
Jojo scrubbed his hands over his face, kicked his rolling office chair once so it bumped against his desk, and leaned back with his hands behind his neck. “Why me?”
A disembodied voice floated over to him from the other side of Jojo’s cubicle. “You pretty much asked for it, Jojo. When Mrs. Bossman started fishing for ideas for a new line of widgets, you jumped on Petey’s idea for the Greenly Disposible Earth Widget.”
“It’s a great idea, Kyle! I’d love to be involved in something like that, maybe expand to Greenly Recyclable Fixit Widgets, in Greenly Compostable Packaging.”
“Uh huh…” Kyle’s chair squealed as he rolled it over to what must have been his file cabinet. The click and slide that followed confirmed this.
“Petey’s a great guy. Brilliant, really…such good ideas! I just wanted to support him, maybe back him up in developing the concept. Not take his place. The world is changing and we have to change with it! You know I’m good with communications.”
“Yeah, you sure can talk.” Papers crackled from Kyle’s side of the cubicle.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jojo’s boots hit the carpeted floor with a thud.
“Your ‘generosity’ got you Project Lead on Petey’s concept, with him backing you up, instead of the other way around. How many times have I told you to keep quiet in meetings? That’s not how we do teamwork here.” Kyle’s chair squealed again as he stood up.
“I’ll talk with Bossman, make it right.”
“Yeah? Well, good luck getting anyone to help you out on this one.” A crumpled wad of paper bounced off the top of Jojo’s head.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2022)
To see others’ Jan 4 responses click the following: