Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Kiss Good Bye

They were hollowing out the pumpkin for the center piece when his six year old brought up the subject.

"Pumpkins are for Halloween, not Thanksgiving."

He grabbed a fistful of pumpkin guts and pulled them out of the defenseless gourd, flinging his hand to remove the sticky, stringy bits.

"The pilgrims had pumpkins at the first Thanksgiving. It will look nice on the table with some corn and apples."

She began to squish the guts with her hands, pulling at the seeds.

"Are you going to carve a face?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't know. Maybe I'll carve a leaf. Or a turkey."

He thought about that last remark. How the heck do you carve a turkey into a pumpkin? He guessed he could trace his hand on the side and then cut out the bits. The two of them sat silently as he continued his work.

"Mommy won't be here, will she?"

The knife slipped out of his hand, piercing his palm. A shallow cut erupted, bright scarlet mixing in with the pale orange meat. He pulled his hand up to his mouth, sucking on the blood in order to keep from cursing.

"No, she won't. She'll be in Paris. With Johnny."

"Where's Paris?"

"Texas. Down south."


He checked his palm. No more blood. He looked over at his daughter to see two large tears sliding down her cheek. He gently brushed them away with one finger.

"It's ok, it's only a scratch. I'm fine."

She tried to talk, tried to take a breath, could only shake her head.

"It's my fault Mommy's gone, isn't it?"

The shock of that statement made him draw in a shallow breath. He reached over and pulled her on his lap.

"God, no, honey. Why would you think that?"

Words fought with sobs to escape from her throat.

"Be cause the last time I saw her I didn't do what she said and she got mad and she took me to school and she didn't even kiss me good bye she just left me there and she never came back. And now she's in Paris without me."

He held her as tight as he could, fighting his own tears. Fucking bitch! It was bad enough she had broken his heart, was it really necessary for her to break their daughter's too? He took a deep breath to steady himself.

"You didn't do anything to make Mommy leave. Mommy left, because Mommy wasn't happy with herself. I know that's hard to understand, but it's true. It was nothing you did."

An enormous sob erupted out of that tiny face as she turned towards her father.

"But she didn't even kiss me goodbye! I didn't get a kiss goodbye!"

She collapsed against her father, her body spasming with grief. His own grief overflowed, soaking her hair. The pumpkin sat on the table amongst its own debris.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae-May 1915

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Desk Top

There was a tiger sitting on my desk when I got to work this morning.

Not a paper tiger, not a plush toy tiger. A real tiger, all eleven feet and 670 pounds of him. He was trying to balance on the too short surface, his legs pulled up tight under his body, his head perched casually on his front paws. He gave me a bored look as I tried to muster up enough courage to reclaim my space.


I waved my arms towards him as if he were a fly.

"Go on now, scat!"

He merely lifted his head, opened his mouth to yawn, then placed it back on his paws, shutting his eyes and falling asleep.

I weighed my options. He was nearly five times my size; his paws were the size of dinner plates (dinner plates with razor sharp claws at the end of them). I couldn't push him off the desk, and I had nothing to lure him away with. I needed to get to my computer and finish a report that was due in an hour. I slowly walked behind my desk, sat down in my chair, and turned on the computer. The tiger opened one eye to regard me.

"I have work to do. Don't stay awake on my account."

The tiger stared at me another minute, then closed his eye. He began to snore as I opened a spread sheet.

About ten minutes later, one of the company's interns came to my door.

"OH MY GOD! There's a tiger on your desk!"

"Yes, he's sleeping. I wouldn't wake him up if I were you."

She hesitated for a moment, then whispered loudly,

"Can I have twenty dollars from petty cash? I need to buy bagels."

I pulled out the cash box and held out a bill towards her. She tippy toed closer and grabbed the money. Her curiosity got the better of her; I saw her gently pet the top of my tiger's head.

"He's so soft."

"Yes, he is. But he snores."

"Well, no body's perfect."

She turned and walked out of my office. The tiger grunted in his sleep and shifted his weight, trying to find a more comfortable position.

I kept working as my dead line loomed. I was just about to fill in the final formula when my supervisor came charging into my office. He squealed like a pig when he saw my desk.

"What is that?! You know animals aren't allowed in the office."

"He was here when I got in."

My supervisor scrunched up his weaselly little face as he began to pace frantically in a circle.

"What's a tiger doing here? You've got to get rid of him, the auditors will be here any minute, we're all going to get fired!! GET RID OF HIM!!"

He wasn't using his indoor voice. The tiger woke up, looking very grumpy. He trained his eyes towards the source of his irritation as his muscles began to tense. My supervisor froze as the blood began to drain from his face, his breath short and shallow. I sat quietly and waited. Finally I heard my voice whisper.


The tiger leaped and tackled my supervisor in one fluid moment, grabbing him by the neck and dragging him into the back room. I could hear a brief struggle behind me, then the sounds of flesh ripping and chewing. I went into the kitchen and found a large bowl and filled it up with cold water, then slowly brought it back to my office. The tiger had come out of the back room. We stared at each other for a moment; I placed the water before him and sat back down. He drank it in one gulp, then jumped back up on our desk and began to clean his paws and face. I finished my work and hit print. The tiger had settled down for another nap. I gently petted his head and scratched his ears.

"Good tiger."

The only hitch I can see in this relationship is if they don't hire a replacement quickly enough.