Peace and Protest Monday, Oct 29 2012 

Peace and Protest

The boy’s small hand was held in his father’s rough and dry hand. He felt the jerks as his father flailed, shouted, and waved his other hand in the air with the thousand hands of other men. The noise was loud, loud, and the boy covered his right ear with his palm.

The boy was young but had thought he understood when his father was angry at dinner. He talked sternly and loudly and banged his hand on the table, rattling dishes, as he did when the boy was in trouble, but at these times the boy wasn’t in trouble. The boy had done nothing wrong at school. The president had done something wrong and the president was in trouble with the boy’s father.

Or on Fridays when the boy was walking home with his father. The father held the boy’s hand and his white clothes blew in the wind and sometimes covered the boy’s face. They walked past the garbage and the piles of steel in the sand. They stopped at a store and the father counted coins and didn’t have enough coins and they walked back with nothing. The father was angry then, too. The president was in trouble then, too.

So the yelling was loud. It sounded like there were many angry fathers. The boy looked around for his friend from school but didn’t see him or his father. They boy began to yell, looking at his father, matching his voice and yelling the same things. The father looked down and stopped yelling for a breath. He almost smiled and picked up the boy and hoisted him up onto his shoulders. The boy smiled as he soared up through the air but then he sat on his father’s shoulders and he made an angry face and yelled. Other fathers nearby looked up at him and some smiled. The boy threw his arm forward as he yelled and he was a big man, too. He yelled at the president just like a teacher would yell at him when he was in trouble.

Ahead of him, across from all the men in white shouting and shooting their fists into the air, was a line of men dressed in all black. They looked like superheroes. Or the badguys in a comic book. They had shiny helmets and shiny shields. They held clubs in their hands and some held onto each other. They swayed forward and back as the big group of white pushed against them. The boy saw a man dressed in gray soldier’s clothes behind them and he was shouting to all of them.

Then the man shouted and pointed back at the crowd and the black men ran forward. The white crowd fell back towards the boy in surprise then the men at the front turned and tried to run back. The boy saw a man hit in the head with a club and he fell and then the boy fell too and he felt his feet hit the ground and his hand was in his father’s hand. People were yelling now and not at the same time. It was very loud and the boy cried but he couldn’t hear it. His arm was yanked and men fell over him and onto his arm and his father’s hand tore away!

The boy turned and looked towards his father but he could only see white and a man’s face yelling with spit coming out. Then the boy heard loud sounds, louder than all the yelling men. They sounded like pops, like someone was popping a lot of balloons really fast. The boy tried to sit down and cover his head but someone grabbed him and dragged him across the rocks. The boy broke free and then ran with all the other men.

He tried to get away from all the other loud men and finally he did. He looked up and he was in a new neighborhood. He had never been here before. There was still yelling but it was behind him, much quieter than before. The boy didn’t want to go back, so he walked.

The boy looked up at the houses as he walked past. All the doors were closed. He saw a woman close a window shut. There wasn’t anyone walking. Once he saw a girl go by on a bicycle but it wasn’t a friend from school.

It was very quiet, and very peaceful. The boy didn’t have to cover his ears anymore, but he was lost. He sat down on a dusty step. He drew lines in the sand with a stick and he didn’t know what to do.


Rescue the Princess Monday, Oct 29 2012 

Rescue the Princess

“Here you are, miss.” The butler leaves the tray beside her bed, steam pouring up from the tea kettle. The teacups are green and blue, stenciled with pictures of little men throwing nets into the ocean. She remembers when her mother bought them at the little straw shack in the Maldives. Her father had been at a meeting and her mother and she had gone shopping along the waterfront. She had liked the little fishing men, and had asked her mother if she could have them. Her mother had said yes without looking at her and then moved on to another store, leaving the money on the counter.

She sips some of the hot tea, the steam rippling the large painting on the wall opposite her. What to do today? Not much. The tutor will be in at 2:00 to teach her arithmetic and English. Mary should have breakfast ready. She sets the teacup down, gently, and rises to get dressed.

After dressing, she walks down the long hallway, past all the empty guest rooms. Each one is a different color, the curtains and the couches and the pillows all matched perfectly. She imagines she is walking through a rainbow-colored forest. A maid dressed in black and white is dusting in the purple room. Her colors don’t match. Is she new? She hasn’t seen that maid before. Her father must have just hired her. Did he get rid of another one?

The elevator door opens and the sound of falling water and the sun on the cream tiles welcome her to the main floor. She can smell breakfast. She enters the main kitchen and sits at the center counter.

Mary walks in, her shoes clacking on the floor and echoing off the walls. “Your father sent this,” she says and lays a slip of paper in front of her, then the tray with her hot breakfast. The girl reads the paper as she picks up a large, warm blueberry muffin.

Her father won’t be back for two weeks, not next week, and reminds her to work on her arithmetic. The girl tosses the paper to the side and eats her breakfast.

Mary comes to clean her dishes. “Is Mom asleep upstairs?” the girl asks. “No, she left for Dubai yesterday afternoon. Do you need something?” “Um… no,” says the girl as she leaves the kitchen.

She wanders the halls and decides to go out into the back garden. She crosses the small bridge and looks down into the water. The little orange fish dart about, from one place to another. Then they sit, then they shoot away, and sit again. One is close, and she can see his little mouth moving. Tiny bubbles waver up to the surface of the water. A bubble floats and bobs along the surface, then blinks out.

She sits in a stone chair at the edge of the small pond. It’s hot and her dress sticks to her skin. She can hear the traffic from beyond the hedge. The sun beats down. She gets hotter and hotter, until she can feel the sweat start to trickle down her back. Bugs buzz in her ears and land on her arms. She waves them away, but they come back. She kicks her legs into a new position and leans back, staring up at the sun and enjoying the bright, blue sky. But the bugs come back and the sweat slowly rolls down the sides of her forehead, onto her ears. A bug lands on her ear. She slaps it, then jumps up and turns towards the house. She walks into the nice coolness of the back hallway.

She pauses by the front entrance of the house. She could tell her driver to take her to the mall. But her friends were there last night and didn’t call her. She could text the girl that sits next to her in History class. But that girl isn’t popular and what if someone saw them together at the mall? That girl’s mother comes from the same country as her driver. Philippines? Or was it Indonesia? She turns and enters the elevator.

She sits on her bed. Finally she has cooled off, and her skin is dry. She folds her hands in her lap and stares out the window. The cars go by, good cars, bad cars, new cars, junky cars. Through the window she can hear a loud hum as a motorcycle shoots by, flying between the cars. She should tell her father to get a motorcycle. Then she could go for a ride on the back.