Tag Archives: kids

I’m not actually wearing this dress by Hallie Bateman

june-20-1

 

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Illustrator Hallie Bateman has two names with which to identify her. One begins with an “H” and the other begins with a “B.” She probably has a middle name, but we don’t know it. Find her blog Ridiculous Sister here and her website here.

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Anthills by Jeremy Kniola

The colony burned. Flames scorched the mound of pine needles, smoking out workers from their subterranean dwelling. On the ground little black bodies smoldered. Those still alive scattered from the laser beam intent on eradicating their kind.

At the helm of his spacecraft, General Lance Litman watched the destruction unfold. Soon the aliens would surrender and Earth would be saved from invasion. The President would award him a medal for courage. His name would become synonymous with heroes in history books.

Through a magnifying glass Lance focused the sun’s white rays on an anthill at the edge of the patio. A mass genocide orchestrated by a ten-year old with a mean streak.

Die, alien scum, die, he shouted with glee.

The screen door flew open. His mom walked out in her dirty, checkered apron. Dust powdered her poofy auburn hair white. She pointed the ostrich feather duster at him.

With the sun behind her, she looked like a cowgirl challenging him to a gunfight. Lance swore he saw a tumbleweed roll between them.

Why aren’t you cleaning your room? she asked. I told you to do it an hour ago.

In Lance’s mom’s world, Sunday was cleaning day. Rain or shine, healthy or sick, she religiously performed chores like a good Catholic obeying the Sabbath.

But I don’t want to.

I don’t care what you want.

Lance reached for his pistol, but Mom was quicker on the draw. He clutched his heart, spun in circles, and collapsed to the ground, bellowing loudly — Aaagghhh! — until his last breath.

Mom stuck her hands on her hips like she was sliding her gun back into the holster. I’m not horsing around. You better hop to it or you can forget playing video games later.

Getting up, Lance stomped out the tiny fires and meandered into the house. As he entered, his mom handed him a garbage bag, a roll of paper towels, and a bottle of Windex. He started to make a fuss, but she wouldn’t hear it. Everybody has to pull their weight around here, she said, dusting the china cabinet. Lance headed toward his bedroom, or cell as he now pictured it, feeling the weight of the ball and chain attached to his ankle.

As he passed the kitchen, his older sister, S.A.R.A.H., or Stupid Analog Robot Algorithmic Humanoid, was scrubbing the fridge, wearing silver latex gloves that stretched to her elbows. Two antennas poked out of the top of her head. When she sneered, light gleamed off the metal in her mouth. She clunked across the tile to block his path, shoes squeaking like they were in need of oil.

Thanks for helping, dickwad, she said in her monotone automated voice.

Lance wished S.A.R.A.H. were installed with an OFF button. She could be so annoying sometimes. Calculating all the chores she got stuck doing. He tried to pass, but she wouldn’t let him through. When he told her to get out of the way, she retracted her arms and said, make me, numb nuts.

Raising the Windex bottle, Lance sprayed S.A.R.A.H. in the face. Sparks shot from her eyes and her body shuddered as her circuits malfunctioned. A warning alarm cried — Mom! — until it lost any semblance of the word. Mom! Mum! Muuuh!

Mom stormed around the corner, a tornado of indignation. Laaannnce!

Lance darted around his sister, hurdled over the vacuum, collided with the mop sticking out of the closet, regained his balance, ran down the hallway and dove into his bedroom to the cheers of the crowd in his head. He raised his arms in victory, but the victory was short lived. His mom called for him to COME BACK THIS MINUTE.

A mound of clothes lay on his floor. It reminded Lance of the anthill. Concentrating hard, he mutated. His chubby torso segmented into three sections. His skeleton turned inside out. Two extra limbs grew from his bellybutton. Claws morphed from his hands and feet. Feelers poked out of his forehead. They detected movement coming from the hallway. His mom approached. Through his compound eyes he watched her mouth stretch into a tube equipped with elongated tongue.

You’re in big trouble, mister, the anteater said.

Frightened, Lance dug a tunnel in the anthill. He burrowed deeper and deeper until he thought he was safe.

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Jeremy Kniola resides in Chicago, where you may find him writing at one of many local cafes. His fiction has recently appeared in Dogzplot, The Big Jewel, and Literary Orphans. He wears glasses.

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Baby And Me by Lori Schafer

Our best friends were having a baby. Inwardly, I groaned.

“You know what this means, Frank?” I complained to my boyfriend. “They won’t be going out with us anymore.” One by one our friends had succumbed to the bothersome burdens of boring adulthood: first marriage, now children. Soon only Frank and I would be left gloriously unencumbered.

“Sure they will,” he reassured me. “It’ll just be earlier. And, um, noisier.”

He should know. His sister had a kid, a rambunctious pre-school aged brat with no redeeming qualities that I had ever observed. Frank volunteered to baby-sit every so often. I called this my quarterly booster of birth control. Each time his nephew arrived I wanted children even less.

Frank, I suspected, was a bit soft on the kid thing. He seemed to like children an awful lot for someone who claimed not to want any. Once he had even told me that if I changed my mind about having one, he might be on board with it. I said that was just his biological clock ticking.

The pregnancy seemed to last forever, and I wasn’t the one carrying the bowling ball around in my belly. Every week when we visited our friends – who had already begun the mystifying transformation from regular adults into the strange creatures known as Mom and Dad – we had to suffer through the latest revelations. The tests, the pictures, the ultrasounds, the boy-girl debate and its resolution, the design and decoration of the nursery, how soon they wanted the next kid to come along. I feigned interest. Graciously, I hoped. I was happy for them — really I was — but only in a generic sort of way. I mean, I’m glad, too, when the local team makes it to the World Series, but I still don’t watch the games.

And then finally it happened: the kid was born; healthy, rosy cheeks, ten fingers and toes, and everyone was happy, all except for me. I still complained.

“Now we’re going to have to go and see the baby,” I whined, fully aware that this was spoiled and selfish and not caring in the slightest.

“So?” Frank replied, puzzled, his warm, dreamy eyes already misting over in anticipation of witnessing the wondrous miracle of magnificent new life.

“Never mind,” I answered. It would have taken too long to explain.

For our friends’ sake, I did try. I pretended to be impressed by the wee magical creature sleeping so adorably in the pink bassinet. I expounded with delight on how she had her mother’s ears and her father’s eyes, or maybe it was the other way around. I chuckled when Dad played peek-a-boo and made kitchy-coo noises at her. I was very convincing.

Too convincing.

“Do you want to hold her?” Mom inquired in a hushed tone, as if it were a great honor bestowed only upon the most worthy of visitors to the baby’s shrine.

“That’s okay,” I said, summoning all of the firm politeness I could muster.

“It’s all right; you can hold her,” she assured me.

“No, thank you,” I replied, less politely and more firmly, well aware from past experience that even the least doting of new parents would refuse to believe that there could be a woman on Earth who didn’t really want to hold the baby.

“Aw, come on, you know you want to!” she urged, prompting me to wonder whether she and the kid were part of a grand conspiracy to make a mom out of me whether I wanted it or not. “Here, just take her for a minute,” she repeated, dumping the kid in my lap as if it were a grocery bag I was supposed to bring out to the car. “I’ll be right back.”

So then I had to sit there with my arms out holding the kid’s head up like you’re supposed to, and wondering when this enforced bonding time was going to be over, and how many more years I would have to put up with this annoying little creature and the brothers and sisters that would soon follow it, and then she reached out with her tiny pink fist to grab hold of my index finger in the sweetest, most endearing gesture you have ever seen.

“Forget it, kid,” I said scornfully. “That’s the oldest trick in the book. You’re not winning me over with that.”

A sentimental sigh ruffled the air behind my back and I whipped my head around to find Frank peering covertly at the tender scene from the edge of the doorway. “Oh, how cute!” he proclaimed, springing ecstatically into the nursery, evidently unabashed at being so red-handedly caught spying. “You look so natural sitting there with a baby on your lap!”

“Forget it, bub,” I answered, glaring up at him. “You’re not winning me over with that old trick. You like it so much, you take it!”

He opened his arms to grab hold of the wee darling, and laid her across his chest, prompting her punctually to spit up all over it. And then another, more powerful stench filled the room, causing the dreamy mist to fall abruptly from Frank’s eyes like an old-time theater curtain over a completed movie fantasy. Staring horrified at the hand that had been supporting the baby’s bottom as if it were contaminated, he set her ruefully down in the crib and yelled for Mom and Dad to come and fix her.

“Whew!” he exclaimed, plainly disgusted, struggling to remove the spit-up from his shirt with a baby-wipe while the baby’s piercing cries rang throughout the bunny-lined nursery. “That’s why I’m glad we are never going to have children.”

I looked with new respect and appreciation at the screaming, stinking little bugger and wondered whether she and I had more in common than I’d thought. And with that I reached down into the crib, grasped the baby gently by that pint-sized fist and whispered, “Thanks, kid. You might not be so bad after all.”

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This story originally appeared in Every Day Fiction.

Lori Schafer’s flash fiction, short stories, and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications. Her first two novels, My Life with Michael: A Story of Sex and Beer for the Middle-Aged and Just the Three of Us: An Erotic Romantic Comedy for the Commitment-Challenged, will be released in 2015. You can find out more about Lori and her forthcoming projects by visiting her website at http://lorilschafer.com/.

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