19 thoughts on “Theme Thursday: Word requirement

  1. “What is the return on investment?” “What is the return on investment?” he asked a second time. With 5-year-old eyes she looked up at him and started to cry. She had asked if she could have a lemonade stand. All she needed was money to buy a can of that country lemonade. She had already been stocking the freezer with ice cubes. Her mother had promised the use of the Tupperware pitcher, and her friend Sal was brining the paper cups.

    Her father lit another cigarette, took a drink from his third beer, and turned the volume louder on the TV. When his baseball team was losing, they all knew not to bother him. Her mother often reminded her and her brother, “Daddy’s job is very stressful. He needs his time and space when he gets home.” Or “don’t disturb Daddy. He got in late. He is sleeping.” She didn’t know what a public defender did, but she knew the job made her father very grumpy.

    On weekends, her grandfather would come for dinner and they would fight about his job. She was never really sure what they were talking about, but the words were always the same, “why can’t you work with me” “I agreed to be a lawyer, but I told you I would not work for the man” “no. instead you work for criminals” “and the corporate giants are honest, hard working people” “they are contributing to society” “so what you’re saying is there are degrees of crime. It all depends on if you can afford to buy your innocence” that last sentence always made grandpa mad. And her parents laugh.

    This would happen all over again the next Sunday. At five, she was wise enough to realize that not all fights and loud voices were filled with anger. Sometimes it was the only way people knew how to say I love you. You make me proud.

  2. I’m being a slacker. Might submit something that required more effort on my part later this week if time allows. Enjoy my five-second haiku.

    Missing my law degree
    The baby delays my return to school
    Motherhood with public opinion

  3. I’m starting my freshman year of high school in a a public school. This is quite scary for me since I have spent all of my years in school, K-G-8th grade in a private school. So it is very important that I look up to date on the latest fashion since I have had to wear a uniform all my life. Yuck.

    I have heard that in high school there are like different degrees of popularity. There’s the cheerleaders (omg I can’t wait to go out for the squad) and HOT football players, the arts kids… acts, singers, dancers ect., then there’s the kids that don’t speak english, the goths (scary) and the nerds (ha).

    So, yeah… naturally I have to look amazing on the first day so I don’t get stuck eating lunch with the nerds!
    Summers over and I’m going to return to school is really style! Wish me luck!

  4. I’ve been trying not to cry in public. I hold my breath to the bus stop, the loneliness crowding in like all the friends I don’t have jostling to sit next to me. I squeeze my eyes shut when I walk past windows in my apartment so I can’t see the stretches of pavement, the empty sound of tires rolling past, til one car slows, pauses, and turns in: it’s him.

    He comes in and kisses me, salt-sweet, hard-soft, and sits me down. He’s got news, he says. I start to shake. The tears come unbidden, unwelcome guests; mother-in-law tears. He pulls me close and wipes them away. No, he says. Not that kind of news.

    He’s already got one degree, a B.S. to my own bullshit B.A., Spring ’09 to my Spring ’10. But an M.Eng beckoned. Here? I ask. Here? With me? All year? All year, he says. All year. I keep asking and he keeps answering. All year. All year. Forever. Forever.

    I cry again. A different kind. Crying like fireworks. Crying like waterfalls. Crying like baptism. Crying like relief which crowds in like all the love he’s got for me. He holds me and we rock back in forth like dories in a sheltered cove. The same rhythm. He starts to talk again, telling me about job opportunities, a stronger resume, more experience at what he wants, he says. Another year to spend with his Engineering friends. Another chance to do everything he’d missed out on. And, he says, proximity to me.

    It occurred to him, he says, how much he could gain if only he’d return.

  5. Public good and private bad.

    All the things he ever had.

    To what degree has set us free

    From all we see and what can be

    In all the form that’s seen by me

    To bind our change behind the fee.

    No return and yes our doom

    Because a gathering of gloom

    Is meant to drag us down the road.

    Return degrees of public room.

  6. “The paper just keeps getting smaller and smaller, don’t it?”

    I heard the voice slip under and jump over the wall of the stall next to me. I turned my head toward it, but saw only graffitied green staring back at me, all poorly spelled swear words, aggrandized names, and questionable telephone numbers.

    “What?” I called back.

    I imagined my voice ducking under and leaping over the wall. My split voice travelled its way back toward the odd stranger who’d first broken the unwritten code of public restrooms to me, a moment before. It met again in his ears, perhaps the high shard for his right, and the low shard for his left.

    “The paper,” he said. “The newspaper.”
    I had no idea why he was telling me that. At least if he’d been talking about the roll of toilet paper by his side, it’d have made a degree of sense.

    “Yeah,” I replied. “I guess.”

    I had more to say, but I was still put off by the venue for saying it.

    “I mean,” he went on, talking through the poops and pees of his toilet-izing, “I used to be able to just make a start on one article while I dropped a load. But the paper’s gotten so small now that I can finish a few pages before I’m done pinching my loaf.”

    I couldn’t believe my ears. Was the guy talking about loaves in a restroom? I’d totally lost my appetite just from the bus stop smell. I didn’t need him bringing food into it. I had a foot long sub in my car.

    “I don’t read the paper much,” I said.
    I can’t believe I was encouraging him.
    I heard a big plop.

    “Don’t read the…” he began. “Why, how can you not read the paper? Newspapers are the source of all real news. And if you don’t support them, cable news would have even less to leech off of than it already does.”

    “Well…” I started.

    I was still encouraging him. What an idiot: both of us, really.

    “I recommend the Boston Globe,” he said. “I mean, it’s sort of like you’re contributing to the Yankees now, what with the Times owning it, but it’s still a hell of a paper. My parents got me hooked on it.”

    I made a plop myself, and then put my forehead into my left hand.

    “My parents got me started on the radio,” I said.
    A tinkle made its way over to me.

    “Good for music,” the voice said, “I suppose.”

    “Yup,” I said.

    The man flushed, stood, zipped, belted, and I expected him to open the stall door and wash his hands after that. But it didn’t happen. Instead, I heard what sounded like him clambering up onto the seat, like he wanted to check the ceiling tiles for leaks, or hidden cameras.

    “Names Jack,” he said.

    I looked up, because his voice wasn’t coming from below anymore. I woulda pissed my pants, if I hadn’t already pissed, and if my pants hadn’t been a few feet from my pecker.

    “What the hell!” I cried. “I’m crappin’ here!”

    I looked up at a grizzled fella over the wall. He had his hand stretched out toward a spot in the air he seemed to deem worthy to grasp mine in. He was wearing a Red Sox cap.

    The man recoiled, like he’d gotten burned by touching a couch cushion.

    “Sorry, sorry,” he mumbled, dropping out of sight and stepping off the toilet seat. “I’ll let you return to your business. Have a nice life.”

    I nodded and reached for some toilet paper.

    “Wouldn’t that be nice,” I said, under my breath.

  7. I had sex in public, and the police officer told me that it was a felony of the the third degree. Homedepot ended up throwing away the mattress and we were never allowed to return.

  8. I find I can’t write poems to any degree and to put one on public display is simply out of the question. I would never be able to return to this site with a shred of dignity left, which might not be all bad. However, I believe I can tell a story of my search for a porcelain throne and on some level still be ok because I’m an immature idiot like that.

    I’m at my most hated job and the urge hits. I turn off my phone and I begin to walk down the beige, ugly hall. I curse the two McDonalds dollar menu burgers in my tummy. I come to a bathroom. 3 stalls and each is filled with knock off, Gucci dress shoes.
    I head to the next one. Water on the floor. Mysteriously in the middle. no real explanation why. Noted to self not to return to this bathroom. Do not think I will forget.
    Finally, just like that little girl with the three bears, the third is the charm. I find a stall. I place myself every so carefully on the strips of paper so graciously offered from cardboard holders above the open sewer beneath me.
    At this point, it all goes to hell. The room goes from being the collective me to being the whole damn building. Everything is rushed, uncomfortable, smelly (anything involving men with their pants down will be smelly fact of life), and most importantly not at all what I wanted to have an audience.
    Eventually, the humiliation ceased after having to elbow my way to a sink, which is surprising with how many guys walked out without washing their hands, and finding a way to get out the door without touching the handle.
    I walked back down the very ugly and very beige hallway. I found my cube and turned my phone on. The moral being contact with people through the phone is still better than the direct contact method.

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