Sunday, January 29, 2012

Motherly Meltdown

I won’t lie. This week’s A Flicker of Inspiration prompt had me stumped. I don’t like it when prompts stump me. In fact, I get down-right annoyed when that happens. In typical badger fashion, I growled and groaned around the house this weekend, as I wracked my brain for a story to tell. 

The prompt challenged us to write an "It's Not What It Looks Like" scene. A scene where a colossal misunderstanding leads to something funny or drives the plot in some way.

I thought about it. And nothing came to mind.

Not a thing.  

And then, as it so often happens with these sorts of things, an idea fell into my lap. Thanks in part to some home improvements and my parents being over for the weekend. I’ll explain that at the end.

Behold, an actual response to the most challenging prompt I’ve faced:

Motherly Meltdown

It couldn’t be true. It wasn’t true. Not her baby. Not her sweet baby girl. Never.

But it was true. The evidence was in her hands.

Sarah’s body shook as she stared down at the tiny plastic bag. Tears filled her soft brown eyes, and she surrendered to the tragedy of it all as they began to fall in great drops, dampening the tiny bag and her shaking hands.

Emily had always been such a good child. Quiet, sweet, never a moment’s trouble to her or her father. She supposed she’d just been hiding this secret life from them all along. The sneaky little minx.

Sarah stood up abruptly, let the small bag of pot and clean pairs of panties she’d been putting in Emily’s underwear drawer fall to the floor. A glance around her daughter’s perfect purple room made her anger dissipate and the nausea creep in. Emily still had teddy bears for God’s sake. Show jumper trophies and ribbons lined the shelves along her ceiling. A poster of that ridiculous-looking Justin Beiber hung over her bed.

She was just a little girl. Fifteen-years-old. A baby.

And yet, not a little girl or baby anymore. If she could smoke pot, she was neither.  Sarah’s head spun as images of Emily danced before her eyes.

Emily as a black cat at Halloween, at every Halloween since she could crawl. “What do you want to be this year, baby?” “A black cat!” “Again? Hadn’t you rather be a princess or maybe even a witch?” “No, I wanna be a black cat!”

Emily as a graceless ballet dancer, wearing a plush airplane costume and sticking out hopelessly amongst her fellow dancers on stage.

Emily as a bookworm and excellent student, bringing home a report card with straight A’s and begging for ice cream as a reward.

Emily as a pot-smoking hipster with a lip ring and pink streaks in her hair….but wait, Sarah was getting ahead of herself. Still, the lip ring and pink streaks were sure to follow. After all, her daughter was a delinquent drug user now. There was no telling what would follow.

Suspension from school. Pregnancy. Jail time.

Emily’s life was over. And, thus, so was Sarah’s.

The other moms from Bunco would pass down their judgment harshly. She would be shunned from the Bunco table, cast off into a cruel, Bunco-less world.

Her church friends would pray for her, then shake their heads behind her back, tsk-tsking to themselves and wondering where she had gone so wrong. Hell was a certainty.

Nosey and vicious co-workers would lament about Sarah’s situation in front of their boss. Bossman would then call her into his office on a Wednesday and tell her that she’s fired for being such a horrible mother and for having such a pot-smoker of a daughter.

The media was sure to get ahold of the story, and once they did, unwanted fame would follow. She would cry as Oprah admonished her actions on an ugly orange couch. She would wince as her name and face were flashed on Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight.  The Bad Mother.

Sarah’s spiral into madness was reaching its crescendo, when Emily bee-bopped into the room. “Mom, hi!” Her voice was spunky, sweet, not at all what Sarah imagined the voice of a gruff, pot-smoking hippy would sound like. A second wave of nausea hit her, as another imagined nightly news headline scrolled through her broken mind:

Pothead Daughter of Ruined Mother Adopts Fourteen Pot-Bellied Pigs, Marries a Gang-Banger, and Moves to a Commune.

Oh, the horror!

Gathering all of her remaining composure, Sarah bent down, picked up the small bag of pot from among the pink panties strewn on the floor, and met her daughter’s beautiful blue eyes. But before she could open her mouth and begin the never-ending trail of curses that she would lay upon her daughter, Emily interrupted.

“You found Yuki’s catnip!” She chirped, snatching the bag from Sarah’s limp hand and running from the room in search of her obese tabby cat.

With jaw slack and mind still racing, relief trickled in, and Sarah sighed, comforted by the thought that she wouldn’t have to live in a Bunco-less world after all. 

As I said, this story was inspired by my parent’s visit to our house over the weekend. They helped us put up tile in our kitchen, and at one point, my Mama fumbled through my junk drawer (can't write those words without a shout out for Dawnie, you'll know what I mean :) oh, and VISIT HER BLOG, you won't regret it) looking for a marker to mark the tile with. In that junk drawer is a tiny bag of catnip that closely resembles another substance.

Thankfully, my Mama didn’t quite react like Sarah, but I did wonder what must have gone through her head at the first glance of that bag…

This was written for A Flicker of Inspiration prompt: "It's Not What It Looks Like." If you haven't already, check out this fun and engaging writing community by clicking the button below:

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