Unintended Consequences

“Oh no,” she said, as she turned to look at her six-year old and his friends eating the birthday cake she had just served. Many of them were already moving in on seconds; their eager little hands stuffing huge bites of cake into their mouths. She watched as one child brushed off crumbs from his pants onto the floor, making room on his lap for more fallen morsels. This was nothing, the greed would really kick in as soon as the cake took effect. She looked down at the two jars in front of her. It was a mistake that could have happened to anyone, she thought. But it didn’t make her feel any better. This wasn’t simply a salt-instead-of-sugar mishap, this was a much more drastic mistake. She sighed as she put the full Sugar jar back into the pantry, deeply regretting having taken down the other jar this morning. She had simply wanted to show her son the lifetime of hopes and dreams that she had painstakingly gathered – grain by grain – since she was six-years old. She wanted to inspire him by the sight of that remarkable effort collected into the now-empty jar in front of her. The doorbell had surprised them, a guest arriving two hours too soon. In the rush of getting the door and setting everything up for the party, she forgot to put her dreams away. And now, a cake was made. She turned and looked at the boys. There wasn’t much she could do at this point. The deed was done, the path towards unintended consequences already unfolding. “How’s the cake, honey?” she asked....

Universal Love

“I’m sorry, ma’am,”  the woman behind the counter told me, “we just sold our last batch of love.” “Are you kidding?” I asked, trying to keep the panic from spilling into my words. “No,” the woman replied. I could tell she was genuinely sorry as her eyes darted to the little boy whose hand was held tightly in mine. I didn’t even have time to brush his hair before we left the house, or even get him out of his pajamas. I realized I had run out of love a little too late. I’m usually so good at these things but the weeks just got away from me and I never sent in my order for new love. Before I knew it, Sunday rolled around and I found myself dishing out my last batch of love with breakfast. At least I added some strawberries to make it last throughout the morning. “What am I going to do now?” I asked, not bothering to hide my desperation. The kids would last for a few more hours, but I couldn’t really count on much more than that. I didn’t want to think about what would happen when the love wore off. They would probably feel a tiny little pinch and then they’d look up as if they had just woken from a dream. “I don’t feel so well,” one would say and the other would second the sentiment. The baby, that perfect little bundle of dimples, would start to cry. Just like that, the air would feel thick and heavy, wrapping around us like a cloak of sadness. The room would suddenly...

The Account

“Well son,” the Father said, “today is a big day for you. Your Mother and I have just opened up an Account for you.” The boy looked up at them, “…an Account?” “A place where you store things of value, assets. This Account is a Personal Responsibility Ownership Understanding and Determination Account, P.R.O.U.D. for short.” “What is it for?” the boy asked. “It is where you will collect your Pride.” “What is Pride?” “Pride,” the Father went on, “is the result of your efforts at becoming responsible for your words and actions, taking ownership of your life, understanding the challenges you face, and showing great determination in overcoming them. Now you are not so proud, but you are also young. Pride, real Pride – not false self-glorification – is something you will need to earn. That is why we have started this Account for you.” “How does one earn Pride?” “Life will provide you with many opportunities and the choices you make in light of those opportunities will help earn your Pride.” “I don’t understand,” the boy shook his head. The father smiled. “Well, for instance, you will find yourself in situations where it is easy to use your words like a weapon, to destroy another. The urge to do so will be great, but making the choice to hurt someone is always a serious one and it seldom earns you Pride. On the other hand, you can choose to use your words like a wand, to create wonder in people’s lives, to rebuild where others have destroyed. Your efforts will be great if you choose to do this, for it is not an easy task;...

D.E.A.T.H.

(Note – this is the continuation of the tale of the The Scribner) “Don’t do it…” his voice quivered. “I can’t continue on like this,” the old woman dropped her head. “There are other options.” The woman looked up at her husband, this man who was not yet ready to give up, not yet ready to put an end to their 60 years together. “You know that’s not true, not for me, not now… not here.” She looked down at the package in her hands. “But how will I…” They both knew how that would end. Theirs was a love story, one that began with fluttering hearts and heroic acts, quiet moments stolen under stars; one that had recently become a tale of fear, anger, and now death. Like all love stories, this one too would end with a broken heart. “I’m tired of fighting,” she said, gently beginning to untie the ribbon on the package he had brought her earlier that day. “It’s a beautiful color, isn’t it?” she said holding up the bright ribbon. He nodded. “It’ll be fine,” she said resuming her task. She stopped, “you’ll be fine.” He put his hand over hers, a last attempt at preventing the inevitable. She gently removed it, kissed him on the cheek, and unwrapped the package. D.E.A.T.H. – five black letters glared up at them. She gave him a small smile as she reached for the D. He watched in silence as she ate it, and then the E and the A. By T, her eyes were heavy and unable to contain her tears. He wrapped his arms around her frailty,...

Fire Diamonds

“Holy shit!” he yelled, “run run run, get out of the car!” He unbuckled his seatbelt as flames began to rise from the hood of the car. He leaped out of the car and watched as she tumbled out of the passenger side onto the gravel below. They quickly got up and sprinted as far away from the car as they could before the explosion knocked them to the ground. “Jane,” she heard, “wake up, can you hear me? Come on, get up.” “Meph?” she asked. “Yeah, I’m here. Are you ok?” “I…” she looked around, saw the incinerated car, turned back to him with her eyes wide and asked, “Kitten?” “It’s better this way,” Meph said, putting his hand on her shoulder to prevent her from getting up. “She was dragging us down, you know that.” “But” “Babe, she didn’t know what was coming, I don’t think she was even awake after taking those sleeping pills…” “Still…” Jane’s voice trailed off. “Still, what?” she thought to herself… they should have saved the hitchhiker they picked up 30 miles ago and who talked for 29 miles non-stop, most of it about the dead-beat boyfriend who loved her by leaving heart-shaped bruises all over her body and had left her to be with a Hooters waitress he met a week prior? The girl whose parents were so unenthusiastic about her impending arrival that they decided to name her after the pet they wanted instead of the baby they were getting? The girl who had $15 to her name, $5 of which she sank into  lottery tickets at the first gas...