Tag: flashbackfriday

Flashback Friday: Candy is Poison

This story was originally posted on August 24, 2017. I like to write about trolls. They can be simple or complex, and live alone or in groups. That gives a lot of room for different stories. They live on the edges of human society, which gives them an interesting perspective on people. As an added bonus, they usually have fun names!

The human laughed.   “Thanks guys for helping me carry this money from the bank to where I’d parked my horse. Now I can give all this money to poor people. Here’s your payment.”

He handed the trolls each a sandwich. Then, he started attaching the bags of gold to his horse’s saddle.   The poor thing looked really weighed down.

The trolls started eating their sandwiches. “No meat,” Gark said.

“Of course not,” the man said. “They’re mustard sandwiches. They’re very good.”

“Ok,” Gark said. He took another bite of his sandwich and made a face.

“It’s like stealing candy from a baby,” the man said.

“What’s candy?” Gark asked.

“Oh, sweet things that children eat. They’re very good.”

“Like mustard?” Gark asked.

“No, more like the opposite of mustard. Well, I’m off,” the man said. And he jumped on his horse and rode away.

Now that their job was over, the trolls wandered away to sit under their favorite bridges. Gark’s bridge was in a lovely park. There were lots of pigeons to eat and a fountain where people left money behind.   He fished out the coins at night for his hoard.

Today, as he dozed and listened to the children screech their high-pitched lullabies, he thought about candy. Mustard was terrible. Was candy wonderful? Wasn’t wonderful the opposite of terrible?

And just then, as he pondered this deep philosophical question, a child dropped his cotton candy onto the rocks beside the bridge.   “My sweeties,” the child wailed.

Gark turned and stared. Was this candy? The child said it was sweet. The child’s feet pounded across the bridge as he ran away. Gark darted out a hand, grabbed the cotton candy, and pulled it under the bridge.

It was very, very pink. And it looked like the part of sheep his mother said was not for eating. Gark was not sure about this.   It seemed like a terrible idea.   He reached out his tongue and touched the very tip of it to the candy.

His tongue was on fire. Gark tossed the cotton candy far away and dipped his head in the stream. It felt like his tongue was still burning. How could humans eat such things? If candy was the opposite of mustard, it was because mustard is edible and candy is not.

Finally, finally, Gark’s tongue stopped burning.   He started to brush the water out of his fur, only to stop in dismay. His fur was now bright pink! How could he hide if he was bright pink?

He coated his fur in mud. It was cold and slimy and heavy. And then it dried and he couldn’t move until he’d managed to roll into the stream and soften the mud. And then he had to start the mud applying process again, because some of it had washed away.

It was a week before his fur faded and he could risk traveling to attend the next troll gathering. That week gave Gark plenty of time for thinking. He came to some surprising conclusions.

“What happened to your fur?” someone asked when he arrived at the meeting place. “The color is all wrong.”

“I have an announcement to make,” Gark said.   “Candy is not very good. Candy is poison.”

“But the human said it was very good,” a troll said.

“Yes he did,” Gark said. “I have learned that humans can say things that are wrong on purpose.”

The trolls gasped. “But then how will we know if anything they say is right?” someone asked.

“Exactly,” Gark said. “I don’t think it’s worth the risk. I nearly died tasting candy.”

The other trolls yelled in outrage. “I will never work for another human,” a troll yelled.   “Me neither,” another said.

And the trolls warned their friends and relatives.   And that’s why you never see trolls anymore. They’re hiding from us.

Flashback Friday: The New Kid

This story was first posted on August 29, 2017. I love how kids can live in the worlds they imagine and try to convince others to join in. For them, anything is possible.

“Hi, I’m Jason,” a boy said. “You’re the new kid.” He was wearing a blue shirt with a big red letter J on it. Martha was pretty sure he wasn’t in her class. She’d remember a shirt like that.

Jason raised his eyebrows. Had he asked a question? “Yes, I’m new,” she said when it seemed like Jason wasn’t going to say anything else.

“Are you evil?” he asked.

“No,” Martha said.

“Are you sure? What do you do for fun?” Jason asked.

“I like to draw.”

Jason crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. “What do you draw?”

“Mostly horses,” Martha said. “I like horses.”

“That’s boring.” Jason walked away.

During recess, Susan and Amy introduced themselves to Martha. “What do you think of our school so far?” Susan asked.

Martha paused.“It’s nice,”.

“You paused before you said that,” Amy said. “Is there something wrong?”

“I met a boy named Jason.” Martha frowned. “He asked me if I’m evil.”

Susan laughed. “Oh, don’t worry about that. I’m sure he didn’t mean it personally.”

“Then why did he ask me that? And then he said I’m boring.”

“Jason wants to be a superhero when he grows up.” Amy shrugged. “He’s been watching everyone since kindergarten.   He’s looking for his arch rival supervillain.”

“So, I’m just the latest suspect?” Martha asked.

“Like all the rest of us,” Susan said. “Like I said, it isn’t personal.”

“He caught a litterer once. And someone cheating on a test.” Amy counted Jason’s successes on her fingers.

“Did he try to beat them up or something?” Martha asked.

“No, he held up his hand like he was telling them to stop, and then he started saying pew-pew-pew-pew until a teacher convinced him to tell them what was wrong.” Susan held up her hand to demonstrate. Martha laughed.

Just then there was some yelling by the slides. Above the other voices, they could hear someone yell.   “Pew-pew-pew-pew!” The recess monitor hurried over and the yelling stopped.

“Was that Jason?” Martha asked.

“Yeah. Someone was probably cutting in line,” Amy said. “Jason hates that. Do you like playing jump rope?   If there are three of us we could take turns jumping.”

Susan clapped her hands. “That’s a great idea! We haven’t been able to jump rope since Linda moved.”

“I love to jump rope.” Martha followed her new friends to check out a jump rope from the equipment box.


Weeks passed. Martha and Susan and Amy had soon attracted a group of girls who liked to jump rope too. One day a new girl joined them. “Hi, are you new?” Martha asked.

“A weird boy just asked me that,” the girl said.

“It must have been Jason,” Martha said. “He asked me that when I moved in too. Did he ask you if you’re evil?”

“Yes,” the girl said. “Oh, what’s your name, by the way? I’m April.”

“I’m Martha.” Martha held up her end of the rope. “Do you like to jump rope?”

“I love to jump rope,” April said.

The girls started to jump rope. One verse into Cinderella Dressed in Yellow, Jason walked by and stared at them suspiciously. “I’m watching you, new girl.” He pointed two fingers at his eyes and then pointed them at April. He backed away slowly, only tripping once.

Martha looked at April. “Why is Jason watching you? He said I was boring.”

“I told him that someday I’m going to rule the world.” April smiled.

Flashback Friday: The Trendsetter

This story was originally posted on December 2, 2016. I like the idea of fashion trends that aren’t meant to be taken seriously. I’m not so sure about the giant boot, but I would really like a day to stay home and read. Can someone make that the popular thing to do, please?

There was a time when, if you wanted to know what was popular right this second, you looked to Marley Christofferson. Marley posted constant tips about everything from fashion to breakfast cereals, and thousands listened. Some people insisted it was becoming a little ridiculous. At first, no one listened to them.

The first hint that something was wrong was the giant boot trend. Marley insisted that the popular thing to do was to shove both feet in a giant boot and hop everywhere. It caught on quickly. It was mostly harmless, except for all the uncoordinated people who kept falling over.

After that died out, Marley advised people to wear an oven mitt on one hand.   “I wasn’t so sure about that one,” one fan said. “I didn’t like taking it off to text, but I could keep my phone inside the mitt, so I didn’t have to reach all the way to my pocket to take it out. And I only had to paint the nails on one hand.   That was nice.”

It did make driving difficult, and made it harder to complete schoolwork. Many schools banned oven mitts.

Marley’s next big fad was conducting everything you say with a pencil. It led to people saying everything in a sing-song voice in an attempt to speak in the proper rhythm. Many older, less hip people found this trend especially irritating. “Marley needs to stop,” a principal commented. A few music teachers found a silver lining.   “My students have become well-acquainted with 3/4 and 4/4 time. I even heard one student speaking in 6/8 time. I was impressed,” a music teacher said.

This was followed by ending every sentence with “Yeah, yeah.” “It was even more irritating than the pencil thing,” the same principal said. This fad didn’t last long.

However, the next fad was particularly long lasting.   Beginning in November, Marley advised her followers to “Be festive and string bells on your shoelaces.” It caught on in a big way. People wore a variety of bells laced in complex ways into their shoes and jingle-jangled their way everywhere. “It made it easier to catch some petty criminals,” a police officer noted. It was months before the fad died down, and some people never stopped wearing their “bells on [their] toes”.

Next Marley advised people to peel and eat grapes slowly at lunch. Then it was putting make up only around one eye.   Marley spoke and thousands listened.   And then thousands more followed their example.

It was when Marley recommended staying home all day and reading a good book that her account was closed down. “She was just too disruptive,” officials said. “She couldn’t be allowed to continue.”

A year later, Marley finally agreed to an interview. When asked about the sources she used to decide what was trendy, Marley said, “I just shared what I liked.”

And the strange advice at the end? “I looked around and people were so serious and stressed. I was joking about the giant boot, but people actually tried it. I saw them smiling and laughing and happy. I just wanted to keep seeing people smile like that.”

Is that why so many people followed her advice? “I don’t know,” Marley said.   “I think people want to laugh and be happy. I think they also want to fit in and feel like they belong. I think fads and fashion should be able to do both.”

So what is next for Marley? “I’m at fashion design school now,” Marley said. “Wait until you see my first collection this fall.”

Will we have clown suits or mad scientist gear to look forward to? “Of course not,” Marley said. “Everything I design will be at the height of fashion right at the second I design it, of course. Just wait and see.”

Flashback Friday: A Terrible Headache

This story was originally posted on June 17, 2017. I had been having a lot of bad headaches, but there wasn’t an obvious cause. Could there be any good causes for a terrible headache?

It hadn’t taken long to change out of the little cloth gown and leave it in a pile on the crinkled paper covering the exam table. Now, Marcie waited in the exam room, staring at the posters on the wall.   The picture of the inside of the eye was a little creepy. She turned and read through the poster on the importance of sunscreen.

Marcie pulled out her purse and started flipping through her receipts.   It’s too bad that phones couldn’t be used inside the building. If she could turn on her phone, then she could look at Facebook or check her email. She shoved the receipts back inside her purse and shoved her thumbs into the center of her forehead.

She’d had this headache for weeks now, and it was only getting worse.   Aspirin wasn’t taking the pain away anymore. She couldn’t focus for very long, couldn’t really think. However, she was afraid to go to the doctor and hear the results. Her Google searches seemed to prove that these weren’t migraines. Something was very wrong.

The doctor had confirmed her worries when he sent her right away for further testing. It had all happened so fast. That was the part that made her worried the most. Surely, she wouldn’t need to be tested so quickly if it wasn’t something terrible.

She looked up when someone knocked on the door. “Come in,” she said.

The doctor opened the door, carrying a folder. He smiled and sat down. “I’ve had a chance to look at your results. I have good news and bad news. Which would you like first?”

Marcie took a deep breath. Should she ask for the bad news and get it over with? No, then she’d not be able to appreciate the good news. “Good news first.”

“It’s not a brain tumor or an aneurysm. In fact, it’s not really anything abnormal at all,” the doctor said.

“But I already had my eyes checked. It wasn’t that,” Marcie said. What else could it be?

“No, I imagine you have great eyesight, right?” the doctor asked.

“I’ve never had any problems with my eyes.” Marcie glanced at the eye poster and looked away quickly. “My eyesight is better than normal.”

“Do people tell you that you have a soothing voice?” the doctor asked.

“I was the narrator in all our school plays,” Marcie said.

“And is the pink stripe in your hair natural?”

“How did you know?” Marcie asked. “What does it mean? Doctor, what is the bad news?”

“Well, I don’t know if I’d really call it bad news. It depends on how you look at it.” the doctor tapped the folder on his knee.

Marcie frowned. “Just tell me.”

“Well, it turns out that you are transforming into a unicorn,” the doctor said.

“What?”

The doctor opened the folder and pulled out some black and white images.   He clipped them to the wall and pointed with his pencil. “If you look here, at the middle of your forehead, you can see the horn bud developing.   I’d say that you have another three weeks until it surfaces. At that point, the transformation will be much more rapid. Do you have any trouble digesting meat?”

“I’m a vegetarian,” Marcie said. “I have no idea. Doctor, unicorns aren’t real. Even if they were, people wouldn’t change into them.”

“Of course they would. It happens all the time.   It’s just that when it happens, their records are erased and everyone forgets about them.” the doctor tapped his pencil on the lumpy bright spot on the image.

“Then how do you know about them? It just doesn’t make any sense,” Marcie said.

“Doctors are allowed to know, in order to help their patients. We swear an oath only to reveal the information to unicorns. I am never able to remember specific patients afterwards though,” he said.

“What will happen with my apartment? My job? My family?”   Marcie asked.

“I don’t know. The unicorns take care of all that. At least, that’s what I think happens.”

“So what do I do?” Marcie asked.

“I really don’t know,” the doctor said. “But here, take this with you.” He handed her the file folder. “We most likely won’t remember you tomorrow, so it won’t do us any good.”

“But my headaches…”

“I can’t write prescriptions for a patient that won’t be in my system tomorrow,” the doctor said. “Ask the unicorns.” He stood up.

“You’re leaving?”

The doctor held out a hand and Marcie took it. He shook her hand gently. “It was nice to meet you. Good luck,” he said. And then he left.

Marcie picked up her purse and her folder. That wasn’t how she’d expected this to go at all. She juggled everything into one hand so that she could push a thumb into to the center of her forehead. Her head hurt.

Dog Wishes

This story was originally posted on June 29, 2017. I love writing stories about wishes. There are just so many things that can go wrong. I think we often don’t really know what’s best for us. It’s also easy to overthink things.

Did you know that every dog gets a wish? One day the dog fairy comes and asks what they want most. Then, poof! They get their wish, just like that.

Mostly dogs are pretty happy as they are. So, they wish for extra dinner or a sunny day or that someone would scratch behind their ears. The wishes are so easy that they almost grant themselves.

But once there was a dog that probably spent too much time thinking. He would have been happier if he’d jumped into more muddy puddles or barked at a few more people passing by his yard. But instead, he was sitting and thinking, and that was the cause of his problems.

One day, when he was resting in a patch of sunlight, sitting and thinking and ignoring the squirrels dancing around his yard and making faces, the dog fairy appeared. “What is your wish?” she asked.

“Do you know what would be handy?” the dog asked. “Having hands like a human.”

“Is that really your wish?” the dog fairy asked. “You only get one you know.”

The dog sat and thought for a moment more. “Yes,” he said. “That’s my wish.”

“So be it,” the dog fairy said. And the dog had human hands. He held them up and turned them this way and that.

“Thank you,” he said. The dog fairy smiled and disappeared.

The dog stood up. It was uncomfortable walking on his new hands. He tried to stand on his back feet, like he’d seen humans do, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

In the end he carefully picked his way across the yard, avoiding the sharp rocks and prickly weeds. It took him an hour or more to figure out the doorknob. As soon as he was inside, he raced straight to the kitchen.

The dog pulled open the fridge. He knocked down containers and tried to open them. Some things tasted great. Others were terrible. Some containers he couldn’t figure out how to open at all.

He hadn’t even started on the drawers when he began to feel sick. He left everything as it was and hobbled down the hall to Jack’s room.

Jack was his special human, and the dog wanted to curl up on Jack’s bed until he felt better. The dog was grateful that the door was open. He wasn’t feeling up to trying another doorknob.

He jumped on the end of the bed and curled up in his favorite spot. When he looked up, he was facing the mirror on Jack’s closet door. He held up his new hands. They didn’t look right on the end of his front legs.

The dog turned his back on the mirror and hid his hands under his chin. He fell asleep, and while he slept he dreamed.

The dream started out quite nice. Dogs were lining up, asking him to open things for them. Even cats were in line, clutching tins of cat food to their chests and looking hopeful. He used his amazing hands and could open everything on the first try.

But then, they wanted to run a race, and he couldn’t keep up while running on his sensitive human hands. Would he never be able to run again? How would he play fetch with Jack? Did it mean no more walks?

And then he saw the dogs barking softly to each other. When he looked at them, they stopped barking and looked away. A little dog laughed and then pretended it was coughing. His new hands did look strange. Maybe this had been a bad idea.

He woke up when the front door banged closed. Had he left that open? He could hear Jack yelling something in the kitchen. Oops. He’d left a mess in there.

He looked down at his odd human hands. What if Jack didn’t recognize him anymore? What if he didn’t like them? Why did he wish for hands? They were going to get him into trouble.

“Dog fairy?” he barked softly. “If you’re there, please give me my paws back.” Nothing happened. He could hear Jack coming down the hall. “Please, dog fairy.”

His paws changed back to normal just as Jack opened the door. The dog was so grateful, that he told his story to every dog he met, and they told all the dogs they met. The dog spent less time sitting and thinking and more time playing with Jack. And he was happy.

Dogs still pass around the story today. As far as I know, no other dog has wished for human hands.

Flashback Friday: Monster Cooking

This story was originally posted on June 23, 2017. I like writing about monsters that are like us except for a few things that are very different. The fun is deciding what will be different and what will be the same.

It was monster Papa’s turn to make dinner. He loved to make dinner. It required thought and creativity, and it was very relaxing. If only all chores were this great.

“What’s for dinner, Dad?” little monster asked.

“Candle wax and string,” monster Papa said.

Little monster cheered. He sat down on the stool at the counter. “Can I watch?”

Monster Papa smiled. “Of course you can.” He pulled out a large tin can and started throwing in the ingredients. String, candle wax, toenails…”

“Why toenails?” little monster asked.

“So that you’re always on your toes. What’s that over there?” Monster Papa looked to the left. Little monster turned to look and monster Papa poured a bag of candy into the can.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t quick enough. Little monster leaned forward to look into the pan. “What was that?”

“What was what?” monster Papa asked.

“What did you add to dinner?”

Monster Papa started squeezing lemons into the mix.   “Lemons, so that you’re not afraid to move forward when things go sour.”

“No, before that,” little monster said. “What was it? What was in the bag?” Little monster kneeled up on his chair and tried to lean over the counter and look into the tin can.

“It’s a surprise,” monster Papa said.

“It’s not something gross is it?” little monster asked.

“Of course not,” monster Papa said. “Well maybe a little.”

“Tell me, tell me, tell me, please?” little monster clasped his paws together under his chin. “Please, please, please.”

“Stop using your best manners, or I’ll tell your mother,” monster Papa said.

Little monster made a scary face. “What did you put into dinner?”

“Fine,” monster Papa said. “I’ll tell you. It was hot peppers, so that you’ll have biting wit.”

“You just put that in,” little monster said.

“Okay, I’ll tell you. Listen closely, because I’ll only say this once. It was…” monster Papa mumbled the last word.

“It doesn’t count if I can’t hear it,” little monster said.

“Oh look, the peppers are working already, and you haven’t eaten them yet. That’s amazing.” Monster Papa covered the tin can with foil. “Time to put this in the oven.”

“If you tell me I’ll shred the newspapers into tiny pieces and scatter them all over the living room,” little monster said.

“That would be nice,” monster Papa said. “We could turn on the fan and pretend it’s a blizzard.”

“So will you tell me?”

Monster Papa sighed. “Fine. I added candy.”

Little monster scowled. “Ewwww. Why?”

“So that you grow up sweet,” monster Papa said.

“I don’t want to be sweet.” Little monster stomped his feet.   “Who wants to be sweet?”

“It will help you appreciate the scary moments,” monster Papa said. “It’s important to have balance. Besides, it’s sweet to say I love you, and I say that all the time. It’s okay to be sweet sometimes.”

“Fine,” little monster said. “But I’m not eating it. Not if there’s candy inside.”

“Tell you what. Eat three pieces of candy, and you can pick the rest out.” Monster Papa set time on the oven.

“You can have them, Papa,” little monster said.

Monster Papa made a face. “I guess it’s good for me, right? Well, go tell Mama that our casserole surprise will be ready soon.”

“Okay. I love you, Papa,” little monster said.

“I love you too, my little monster.”

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