Random Word Story # 39~ Choose Wisely

I have a category called Random Word Stories. From an online random word generator, I grab a list and write a story. It’s my own way to find a prompt. Feel free to check out the others I’ve done over the years. Thanks!

  • nightmare
  • major
  • forge
  • mess
  • fold
  • obscure


  • It had just come to Marie’s attention in a news article, that Americans weren’t reproducing in sufficient numbers to maintain their own cultural future. Oh well, she thought, progress and changes happen. Women are more than ‘baby machines’.
    “Ugh.”
    Her life as a professional unmarried 28 year old was awesome! And, no stretch marks, baby.

    In college, the consensus about career vs family for young women wasn’t at all obscure. Life could only be fullfilling if women pursued their careers first with becoming a mother a ‘maybe’. In fact, the few who dropped out, opting for families, were banished from elite circles and were openly called ‘troglodytes’. She never hesistated to dismiss those women and pitied them for not belonging to the enlightened fold of feminism. Her once, best friend, Lynn was one of those misguided types.
    Marie was completely convinced having children was messy, expensive, and intrusive for women who wished to forge a bright future so running into Lynn, at her hometown bank (after not seeing her for a decade), was a good chance to flaunt her wiser choices.
    Lynn looked horrible. Her hair and wardrobe were a mess.
    “Sneakers. Really?” Marie mumbled.
    Marie almost considered avoiding her to save Lynn the inevitable embarrassment but, heck, she’d created her own nightmare. It wasn’t Marie’s fault. She’d even pleaded with her not to throw in the towel 10 years ago.
    “Lynn?”
    “Marie! How are you?”
    ” I’m great! I just got back from Europe on assignment and the vice president position isn’t too far off. The marketing firm may be setting up an office in Belguim! My expense account is unlimited and I get dibs on all the first fashion trends. See?” Marie twirled for emphasis.
    “Nice! You were always so talented. How’s your Mom?”
    “She’s okay. How’s your family?”
    With a twinkle in her eye, Lynn grabbed her phone and showed photos of her three daughters, two dogs, and a variety of camping excursions, softball games, and, what she called, ‘giggle fests’. Her husband still drove trucks, but now had his own company, and she was homeschooling her kids since Covid-19 shutdowns. Her home had a lovely yard with, of all things, a white picket fence!
    Lynn certainly didn’t look miserable. Marie thought she even beamed.
    The major letdown of their encounter was Lynn’s total lack of envy of Marie’s choices. She seemed content and chatted about her children with an energy and pride that Lynn didn’t even have for her own ‘projects’.
    As Marie unlocked her apartment that evening, she had an epiphany.
    That college feminist ‘concesus’ may not have been organic, or as altruistic, as it seemed.










Random Word Story # 32~ Moving Along to Nowhere

5211895183_cc7770c5dd_bcombatant…hard…fantastic…square…habitual…defector

Here is my story:

There was something dark about the store clerk at the new Dollar General. She stood with rounded shoulders, and a defeated look in her eyes, as I approached the counter to check out. I would have guessed that she was much older, if we weren’t face to face. She was not much beyond the age of twenty, as I would learn, yet had the demeanor of a lone surviving combatant from a long lost battle.

Her southern drawl set her apart even further.

“You aren’t from around here, young lady.” I said.

“No ma’am. I’m from Alabama. Been he’ ah for two weeks, or so. I’m hopin’ to bring my kids he’ah soon.”

“My… you have children? You’re just a young thing.”

“I was twenty last month and I’ve got three baby boys back home with my momma. Their daddies were scumbags and I cum up here and met the love of my life for sure!”

Her grin was bright and happy but the sadness in her eyes did not fade. She nervously chewed on the side of her tongue as we spoke. It occurred to me that she may have been a beautiful child, once upon a time. Her face was heart-shaped and she had large blue eyes but her hair, seemed as though it was as stressed as her posture, with frizzy ends on a carelessly gathered ponytail.

I saw her as a defector. She’d left her children, after all, while pursuing what I could only imagine was an habitual trail of scumbags. Without having to ask, she went on…

“Met James on the internet. He’s going to bring my boys up soon and we’re buyin’ a house too.” She grinned as her eyes looked through me to an imagined “happy place”.

“That is fantastic! A new beginning, in a new place. I’m happy for you.”

Then I noticed  scars in both of her thin eyebrows and one that ran along her chin too. As she packed my items, her hands trembled.

My, too quickly made judgement, softened as I asked myself, “Why  do so many young ladies have to live such hard lives?”. I felt the urge to hug her and to tell her that things would get better…that she would find her happy ending, but I didn’t believe the latter. Not everyone gets a square deal. Her children would probably have similar fates without the foundation of roots and family and I felt helpless, very helpless to remedy her troubles. In fact I, shamefully, wanted to get away from her as quickly as I could, as if hard luck and ignorance were somehow catchy.

She continued, “James will be picking me up soon and we’re gonna call my kids to tell them about our house. We ain’t been approved yet but we’re hopin’ to hear this week. That ‘ill be ten dollars and seventy cents ma’am.”

“Thank-you. Best wishes to you and James.”

That night, I said several prayers for her family. I held on to a glimmer of hope for her sons, realizing that they might have a slightly better chance to find stability, simply by not being  “beautiful” daughters.

It has, now, been six months … and I have not seen her at the Dollar General again…

—————————————————-

My other Random Word Stories were complete fiction. Sadly, this one, came from a true encounter that I had last Fall.

Random Word Story # 31~ The Prize

Deutsch: Filzhut
Deutsch: Filzhut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

aerodynamic…checker…quests…weeks…icier

Here is my story:

At 23 years old, Martha was growing tired of video quests. She’d spent the last 6 years, huddled in her bedroom with a cramp in her gaming hand. But she knew this wasn’t living. At least, that was what everyone told her. The only, sure thing, was that she hadn’t felt anything but empty, since forever.

On Monday morning, she disconnected her x-box and got out of bed before 7:00 am. She said no online “good-byes” and walked away cold turkey. “Done” , she thought. She had big hopes that her afternoon job, as a checker at the drugstore, would take on new meaning… Her daydreaming might turn to the ordinary and her future companions would, at least, have a heartbeat. Yes, an exciting real quest had just begun!

Over the next few weeks, Martha had terrible moments of withdrawal. As she rode along in her car, the landscape would, on occasion, morph into unnatural colors and appear two-dimensional. Customers would randomly remind her of barbarians she once knew. She caught herself wondering how her gaming friends were getting along and had anyone really missed her? Several times, she plugged the game in, late in the loneliest hours, and sat poised to press the power button. Martha resisted. Her new quest, after all, must have her full attention just like the others.

She had realized in the first day, that she was a “junkie” when her new freedom caused her to enliven senses she had forgotten. A cherry snow cone had tasted icier than she had ever noticed. Martha had also felt weightless out-of-doors. She tilted her head to the sky and embraced a color blue that could not be produced by artificial means. Her campaign caused her to start walking the mile to work.  But, a strong north wind reminded her, humorlessly, that the upright human body was not aerodynamic when, one day, she was swept right off of her feet.

Martha’s quest became less of a struggle over a month. She had secretly hoped for her Prince Charming to appear for the “happily ever after” she felt was due… every quest has a prize. He didn’t. Oh well, she was enjoying a brand new attention to a neat appearance, just the same…no doubt she’d “level up” soon.

But one day, she found herself listening to the lyrics in songs she, had thought, were familiar. Martha would spring out of bed thinking about the new movie she wanted to see and an organizational chart project she’d begun at work. On one of her walks, she’d noticed a library. She had NEVER known it existed. Martha was spending days without a thought of gaming. Her co-workers started begging her to take her break with them, once they found out, that she had an ability to make them laugh. She felt an eagerness that no other quest had ever offered. What a feeling!

Today, her boss offered her a raise and gave her a hug. It was then, in that moment, she realized her quest had no levels. This quest would go on as long as she did. To touch, to taste and to, embrace the little things, was her prize. At least, she was “in the game” every day.

Random Word Story #30~ Git a Grip

Chuck At Work
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by randomwordgenerator.net

homophobes…Hawaiian…siftings…menaces…hexagram

I found Charlie Rainwater sitting cross-legged in an adobe hut. A single gray braid hung like a pet snake over his shoulder which nearly reached the dirt floor. He was ancient and when his milky eyes lifted at the sound of me, I could tell he was blind.

The only visible modern convenience was a portable AM radio which had a dancing red light but no sound. He’d summoned me through the mail. Apparently, he was a big fan of my morning radio talk show and had instructed one of his 22 great-grandchildren to drop me a note. Charlie could not read or write but he was up to date on the issues.

When he lifted his hand in greeting, I expected a deep voice filled with “ughs” and TV injun-style moans. To my surprise, he chuckled and a boisterous high-pitched “Howdy David, Thanks for cummin’!”, slapped me in the face.

Our interview started immediately.

“Didn’t think I had, Ellen’s chance at guest speaker for a convention of homophobes, to get you here Davy. Welcome.”

“It’s fine to be here sir. I’m glad to have the opportunity for this interview. Never expected this.”

“Well, betcha never thought a Hawaiian would be president neither. Goes to show ya, anything can happen nowadays!” Charlie lifted his chin and laughed. “Now drop that sir crap en call me Chuck won’t cha?”

“Alright, Chuck. You seem well informed. You mentioned, in the note, that you have a message for me. I’m anxious to hear about it.”

“Straight to the point, Davy. There aren’t enough points gotten to in the politics. Heck, a hexagram has six but politicians are smooth, too smooth, my boy. They are just plain menaces when it comes to makin’ THE point.” Charlie looked up toward the ceiling and sighed. “I like your show and I wanted to tell you that you ask the right questions, you’re honest and care about things. BUT, There’s much for you to learn about what my grandfather called, Shiftings and Siftings.”

“Yes Chuck, I have one heck of a time getting to the facts, for sure. I appreciate your interest.”

“Ever tried to nail an eel to a tree Davy? Slimy devils. The trick is finding the right grip. If you’re wearin’ a glove it won’t work t’all. All those other interview shows wear gloves. Slimy gloves make it too easy for the eel to shift and git away. What we need are more bare handed interviewers like you. Grip them eels ’til you can sift out that truth, boy!”

“Fine wisdom sir. I’m honored and I won’t forget that.”

“Oh yeah, one more thing Davy, don’t never try to nail an eel to a tree. It ain’t kind and serves no purpose. I step on ’em myself.” With that Chuck’s chin dropped to his chest. Moments later he was asleep.

—————————————————-

“Good morning Nevada! This is David Sands on Talk 105. A special thanks to my new friend Chuck Rainwater. My guest today is our mayor who intends to ban pee-wee football, sugary soft drinks and fun in general… welcome to the first segment of “Git a Grip and Watch Your Step”…

Random Word Story #29~Humble Pie in your Eye

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...
English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by randomwordgenerator.net

wordplay…scrubland…kinswoman…pill…irratatingly

Here’s my story:

It’s a common occurrence  in families. Doctors come from a long line of doctors…teachers seem to be generated within blood lines too. So when Jillian decided to become a water witch she suspected that she was the “fly in the ointment” of her scientific family.

Jillian spent her Thanksgiving reunion in a silent fuddle. Her Dad, the physicist, tipped his head toward her with a raised eyebrow and asked, “So how are those studies going?” He emphasized studies in a way that she was familiar. He could irritatingly infer that she was a kook even when his interest seemed genuine. No one else had been informed of her career choice so the introduction of the subject stung a bit.

She’d spent 6 months in a desert scrubland with no positive results and was beginning to question her skills and whether or not she just might fit the kook label after all. Failure was a hard pill to swallow in her family, especially hard for a deviant from science like herself. She had a dozen successes under her belt. That certainly wasn’t a shabby record. Jillian had stepped in when “scientists” had failed more than once.

Dowsers use divining rods attempting to find water. The practice was ancient and had saved many a farm from dust and despair. Not knowing every reason for a practice certainly cannot preclude it from being scientific. Jillian stiffened her posture.

Dad continued to poke fun, “Jillian, dear, it would be divine if you’d pass the gravy.”

With that, Jillian decided to “come out of her mystic closet”. Dad’s wordplay was getting to her, big time. Suddenly her shame was from hiding her beloved profession.

“So, has everyone heard about my studies? I’m a water witch. A darn good one too!”

Heads lifted. Aunt Barbara condescendingly snickered into her napkin while cousin Frank, the legally blind entomologist, squinted at her through “coke-bottle” glasses. Jillian had always wondered why he didn’t study BIG creatures. What a joke!

Great-grandmother was the only accepting face at the table. She was also the only one who spoke.

“It appears you have a tough crowd to please, Jilly. I’ll bet they don’t know about a fine kinswoman who made her life as a dowser. My great-grandmother worked for Abraham Lincoln himself don’t ya know. She’d be so very proud.”

Every face fell.

Jillian felt redeemed and raised an eyebrow directly at her father.

“Hey Dad, want some humble pie with that gravy?”

Random Word Story # 27~ The Gloved Hand of Fate

Random words generated by…creativitygames.net

sparrow pillow policeman headline hygiene definition

Here’s my story:

English: A pile of pillows.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Newton was the definition of perfect hygiene. Ever since he was small, he was germ conscious. So when it came to choosing his new pillow, Newton took no chances.

He spent hours, which became days,…and months, choosing the most hygienic replacement for the place his face would rest, half of the time, in each day. Sampling was his biggest obstacle though. How might he give a new pillow a serious try when other customers would have placed their germy noggin upon any prospect? Newt had become an expert in avoiding contaminants in his 22 years and the “pillow problem” was not going to defeat him. So, he devised a solution by covering his head and face with extra-large surgical gloves. It was quite a stretch, indeed. But Newton was determined and the scoffs and laughing of patrons did not interfere in the least.

His inspiration for the “war on germs” was a near-death experience with influenza as a child. Newt vividly remembered struggling for air and the pictures of the doctors faces, sullen and clueless. His mom’s sobbing from somewhere beyond, still woke him out of dreams in a cold sweat. His asthma was a condition not a death sentence, after all.

The term “all natural” had become his signature. “All natural Newt” researched his selection and was thrilled to find a shop which proclaimed everything beyond its door held the desired title. Naturally Nature, a small store next to Organic Offerings, had an ad in the directory and pillows were boldly printed in their inventory list. Newton, armed with surgical gloves, was finally optimistic about finding his new pillow. He made a purchase and his first, direct, contact with his $200.00 gem came that evening.

The headline in the newspaper two days later: Man Killed by Sparrows

The article read: A policeman at the scene, tried to resuscitate Newton Jones who appears to has suffocated. A pillow filled with sparrow feathers was found beside the deceased. Although illegal in this country, sparrow feathers are used in imported products. Apparently, Mr. Jones had a violent allergic reaction to the feathers. When the victim was discovered, foul play was assumed due to the surgical glove stretched over his face. After a brief investigation, it was deemed a desperate attempt by Jones to relieve his symptoms. Coroners claim he suffocated by his own glove…hand.

Random Word Story #26~Not for Profit

Infrared remote control receiver for Arduino

profit…ticket…old man…vet…sofa…war

There was a battle going on and Ben, this time, was only a spectator. He felt powerless…

As he wrapped himself in the afghan and settled into the sofa, he automatically probed the spaces for his TV remote. He considered what to watch realizing, only then, that he was unaware of the day and date. How long? His mind scrambled for a recent event that he could use as a landmark. Nothing… He was a military vet, now at  war, with himself.

A chopper roared overhead and as the dust cleared, he was back on base. The US flag gave a crack, as the wind wrestled with it, straight above his head. #1 mess hall was emptying. There were fly boys everywhere. He was momentarily startled but smiled broadly when his “brothers” approached him. They were cackling with laughter and he couldn’t wait to hear the joke.

Ben raised his hand to wave and brought the remote from between the cushions. He wasn’t quite sure where he was until he noticed that Comedy Central was on. The TV was blaring laughter … now applause. Clap, clap, clapping…

Snap, snap, snapping went the artillery. It was dark. He was so afraid.

Covering his face with his hands, he felt wiry stubble and tried, oh so hard, to remember his last shave. An image of himself in the bathroom mirror pressed through the fog. He was wearing his Air Force uniform. Blood trickled from a shaving cut at the corner of his lip. He was no longer a ragged old man. His posture was stiff and his eyes were steady. As he wiped the blood with the back of his right hand, he noticed the TV remote was still in his grasp. Behind him was the sun coming through the living room window. He was wrapped in the afghan and standing beside the sofa. He licked his lips. They tasted like iron.

Benjamin decided to make himself some tea to calm his nerves… the warmth and flavor always helped to anchor himself in the “here and now”. Whatever and where ever that was.

As he returned to his well-worn place, he felt steadier. It was Monday…yes, he was sure of it. He had reached to the bottom of the tea container for the famous quotation ticket and noticed he still held it in one hand. Ben shook, a bit, as he read it. Then he tore it into tiny pieces and tossed it into the air.

“Madness is tonic and invigorating. It makes the sane more sane. The only ones who are unable to profit by it are the insane.” Henry Miller