Flash Fiction Inflation

VISTA EVENESCENT

 

tree2bcrook

 

 

 

 

 

It’s tough being nine years old, and alone.  He had climbed part-way up this big old oak tree back in the spring, but it had taken a boost from his friend Gordon, to get him up to the first forking of the trunk, where he could get handholds.  Now, Gordon was away on holidays, which was one of the reasons he was wandering his neighborhood alone.

He took a run at the tree, planted his right foot on the knee of a protruding root, lunged upward, and caught the fallen branch, stuck in the crotch.  Swiftly he climbed, and soon the tree had lifted him into its topmost branches.  Unusual in a town full of maples, this oak was the tallest tree, and sat at the top of the highest hill.  The view from up here was magnificent.

He was as high as the top of the nearby water tower, the entire town spread out below him.  Right beneath him was the park, with its empty ball diamond.  Down the hill was the arena.  He could see tiny cars, and miniature people walking.  Below him were three church roofs and bell towers.  Beyond was the main street, with its businesses.  It led right down to the lake and the beach.  The crystal blue water and the bright white sand both sparkled in the sun.

Lighthouse Lighthouse II

 

 

 

 

 

Off to the south, the sandy island sat half a mile offshore, with its stone lighthouse.  He seemed level with the top of its 100 foot tower.  A bit to the north, he could see the river mouth, with the commercial fishing boats chugging into and out of the harbor.

Boat

A block down the street, where the highway crossed the main street, stood the century-old red-brick town hall, with its four-sided clock tower.  Just this side, was the library, where he usually checked out a couple of books each week.  A block to the right was the elementary school where he would happily return to his education in a couple of weeks.

Townhall School

 

 

 

What he could see, was his entire, nine-year-old’s universe.  What he could not see, from his eagle’s perch, with his youngster’s eagle eyes, was the oncoming juggernaut of maturity, physical aging, responsibility, and social change.

All too soon, he would not have the time or the freedom, the strength or the agility, the acceptance or the inclination, to randomly wander his tiny town, talking to bullfrogs or climbing trees just for the fun of it.

Soon, like a Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, he would leave his protective, supportive home to seek training and experience, employment and income, marriage and family.  What was now his entire universe, would become first, merely the center of his greatly expanded universe, and finally, just a reflection in the time-fogged rear-view mirror of fond memory.

Instead of remaining a carefree child, he would become one of millions of parents.  While he would not do so, most of the others would allow, even urge, their millions of children to embrace myriad electronic distractions and babysitters, till they could not think or act for themselves, instead of encouraging them to read and learn.

In the name of protecting the children, the parents would cocoon them, and change them into hydroponic couch potatoes, denying them the chance to run and play, to enjoy the sun and fresh air, to commune with nature and build strong, healthy bodies and minds.  And so would begin the slow, perhaps inevitable, slide into oblivion, of the great, free society.

 

This is the expanded version of a thought which recently triggered a 100 word story on the Flash Fiction stage, along with some observations, feelings, and pretty pictures.  Much of this has previously appeared here, but I like the redecorating job.  How about you?

 

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Flash Fiction #10

 

VISTA

tree2bcrook

 

It’s tough, being only nine years old.  He finally reached the broken branch, lodged in the crotch.

Quickly climbing, he made it to the topmost branches of the tallest tree in town, situated atop the highest hill.  From here, he could see his entire little town.  He could see the tiny cars, and the miniature people walking.

He could see the lake, and the lighthouse on the dock.  He could see the town hall clock, which said 11:55 AM.  Turning in the other direction, he could see his mother at his front door.  Better get down, it’s time for lunch.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site.  Use her Wednesday picture as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

What Time Is It Now?

I waited the other night till after the son had left for work, shortly before 10:30 PM, to have a bath.  I like to soak, and I took three books with me, but also wanted to see the Tonight Show. (Didn’t matter!  It was a rerun.)  That gave me just an hour, and three books can be quite a distraction, so I did as I usually do.  I took my old Timex work watch with me and placed it where I could keep an eye on the time.

As the water cooled, and I ate into the second book, I glanced at the watch – 11:10.  Seemed like it should be later than that, so I craned my head around the shower-wall (Which is why I take the watch with me.), and the clock above the door read 11:20.  Time to wash up and get out – or is it??  “Honey, what time is it?”  “Almost quarter after; the bathroom clock runs a bit fast.”

I had feared that the old Timex was running slow because I haven’t put a new battery in it since well before I quit work, over three years ago.  I have two wrist watches, the 20-year-old Timex which only follows me for a bath now, and a gold Rolex-look-alike which I only wear when I go out.  I’ll probably not bother to put another battery in old Digital Dan when he croaks.  The son wears exactly the same model, and I offered it to him, but he declined.

I never wear a watch in the house because I have All The Time In The World.  As I said, we have a clock on the wall in the bathroom.  I could adjust it to run a little slower, but it nudges the wife to be ready just a little earlier when we have a doctor’s appointment to get to.

You can’t get away from clocks these days.  They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere!  In the computer room, there’s one in the computer, one in the microwave that the wife uses to heat bead-bags for her arthritis, and one on the wall.

There are two digital alarm-clocks in the bedroom, as well as the ones available in the TV, and through it, the satellite box.  The same set-up in the rec-room, plus the ones staring at you from the DVD player and the Blu-Ray.

With both a DVD and a Blu-ray, we’ve got rid of our old VHS.  At least if you couldn’t set the clock on a VHS, all it did was sit there and flash 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, but it worked.  In the kitchen we have a clock in the microwave, a clock in the stove and a clock in the toaster oven.  If the power goes out for any reason, we have to go around and reset all these clocks, or the appliances won’t function.

We also have a wall clock in the kitchen, and a desk clock in the living room.  It is said that a man with one watch knows exactly what time it is.  A man with two watches is never sure.  With the exception of the wife-nudger in the bathroom, I try to make sure that every clock in the house is at least at the same minute.

I had an online discussion with Jim Wheeler about the number of gadgets in our houses which steadily eat our electricity.  The bathroom clock, the kitchen wall-clock and the desk clock all tick, even though they run on batteries.  All of the rest of them, whether I want, or use, the clock function, quietly, continuously, just keep sucking up the power.  At least the new 12-volt toys use far less electricity than the old 120 V units, but there’s so many more of them.

The first electric clock we had in my family home, was a 120V, plug-in model.  We placed it on the wall at a spot where it could be easily seen, and went to plug in the cord, only to find the receptacle about five inches too far to the right.  Oh well, says Dad, and firmly pulled the cord.  It plugged in but, for years, that clock hung on a 10 degree slant.  It lasted for decades, but, not meant to be on a slant, after about ten years it developed a noticeable grind-y whine, yet kept perfect time.

Towns used to set their time by the sun, and residents knew what time it was, vaguely, by town hall or church bells.  The development of railroads, in Europe, but especially in North America, created a need for some agreement on “What Time Is It?” over hundreds, or thousands, of miles.  Several others had proposed limited plans, but a Scottish-born Canadian, Sir Sanford Fleming, oversaw the birth of both a trans-Canada railroad, and the 24-hour, world-encompassing Standard Time Zone system.

The continued rise of, and finer division of, technology, has produced more and finer divisions of time.  This is important for both individual machines and systems, and co-ordination between/among numerous, far-flung operations.  GPS knows where you are, because it knows “exactly” when.  It’s just that I sometimes feel that I’m drowning in TIME.

They’re almost impossible to find, but I wish I had a microwave that just microwaved, a stove that just cooked, and a toaster oven that just heated.  I feel almost threatened in my own home when I roam around in the dark, with those red and blue eyes staring accusingly at me from the dark.  I’m sure I could make do with the wind-up timer the wife uses in the laundry room.

Good grief, you old Luddite!  Get with the 21st Century!  What next?  You’ll want a cell phone that only makes and takes telephone calls?  I’ll use the reminder app. on my camera phone to send you a picture of one.

Safety Patrol

When I needed to go to elementary school, the school building was too small.  There were eight rooms.  I’d have thought that grades 1 through 8 would have fit nicely.  A couple of the rooms must have been used for music or other training.  My grade 1 class was in what was known as the band-room, in the town hall, two blocks from the school.  The town band had practiced there and the town council had used it for meetings and weekly bingo games.

Back then, a grade 8 education was considered adequate, with many students getting jobs on nearby farms, or in one of the four factories in town.  The eight-room high school was under-utilized.  My grade 2 was in the high school building, next to the elementary, with rowdy teen-age boys running us down.

In grade 3, I finally moved into the “proper” building.  A steel bar had been installed from the ceiling to half-way down the rail of the front stairway, to prevent boys from sliding down the banister.  The building is now part of the Bruce County Museum, and there is a note at the top of the stairs.  You can stand at the top and sight down a 3/4 inch deep groove in the treads, on the rail side, caused by boys dragging their feet, as they slid down.

Grade 4 was across the hall.  The first day back after the Easter vacation, we all picked up our desks, and marched across the playground to our home in a freshly finished new school building, which now included a Kindergarten.

Forward-thinking for 1954, one of the new things established, was a safety patrol.  Four or five students from both grade 7 and 8 were chosen to help safeguard the welfare of the other children.  They had to be level-headed, somewhat of a leader, and of sufficiently high academic standing.  School hours were from 9 till noon, and 1:30 to 4.  The Safety Patrols were allowed to leave fifteen minutes early to go to their assigned intersections, and were expected to stay until all students had passed on their way back to school, so they might be a bit late.

The Patrol Officers (ooh, that sounded important) were given a bright-white waist/chest belt combo, with a shiny shield clipped to it.  There were no lollipop paddles or blocking a street for children crossing.  Cars had the right-of-way.  Patrol Officers stood at various nearby corners and watched for cars.  If an oncoming auto was spotted, they were to raise their arms, and students were expected to wait till the arms were lowered, to cross safely.

As I came through grades 5 and 6, I kinda thought I might enjoy the prestige of being a Safety Patrol, but I didn’t hold my breath.   When I entered grade 7, I was not surprised when I wasn’t tapped for the job, but about the end of September, I was surprised when the Assistant Principal told me I was in.  Apparently Miss Safety Patrol couldn’t fulfill her duties and I was the first runner-up.

Not only did I get the sparkly white Sam Browne belt and shiny badge, I got a book of summonses.  I could write tickets.  If I saw things like fighting, bullying, running out into the street, throwing sticks, stones or snowballs, I could hand out a ticket.  I gave the duplicate stubs to the Asst. Principal, and the offending student had a week to report voluntarily, to get a lecture and warning.  I had to issue one to myself.  The kindergarteners and Grade ones were let out the same fifteen minutes early, to keep them from being buffeted by the older grades.

I was nearing my assigned corner and thought I’d toss a snowball at a post.  I missed the post, but hit a Grade 1 girl in the face, when she suddenly ran up and dashed around the corner.  I got my lecture, and an explanation of why not to throw snowballs.  I also had to go to her house and apologise to her and her mother.

The next year, I was assigned a more dangerous intersection on the highway.  There was a Grade 1 girl who I was supposed to escort to the corner, and assure she crossed safely.  I guess I didn’t exude enough authority.  She would not walk with me, insisting on running ahead, and crossing on her own.  The street we took was in full view of several classrooms, and I was often spotted running after her.

The Asst. Principal called me in for a talk, and I thought I might be chastised, but he just told me that he was aware of her behavior problem and had a talk with her.  From then on she held my hand and behaved well.

Child Safety Patrol Officer to adult Security Guard, that’s about the extent of my social powers.  The recognition is nice, but I’m too much of a loner and free-thinker to want to control others.  Although, if I could get one of Paul Blart’s Segways, I might want to patrol a mall.