Welcome to another Challenge put together by Write Edit Publish and the Insecure Writers Support Group.
All through 2019, every two months, write a short story on a word prompt.
To learn more or join up go here
You can read my other entries for this challenge, on this very blog.
February, my short story 28 days.
June, my short story Tim and Sam, for Caged Bird.
Thank you to
Denise Covey – Founder/Host
L.G. Keltner – Co Host
Nilanjana Bose – Blurbs/Host
Olga Godim – Badges
C. Lee McKenzie – liason IWSG/WEP
Pat Hatt – tweets and promo
Nick Wilford– judge
Elizabeth Seckman – IWSG Newsletter
and Chrys Fey for being our judge this month. Join her on Goodreads for exciting discussions on fiction and non-fiction at the IWSG Book Club.
Here is my contribution this month.
Breaking the Rules
Her big sister rode the red tricycle down the street. Francis clung to her brown teddy Badibo as she sat in the small red dumpster at the back. It was hard going for Mary. She huffed and puffed and blew her complaints out.
‘ You’re too heavy, you can’t ride in the back anymore. I’m not your chauffeur. Get off or I’ll scream. ‘
‘ Teach me to pedal and I’ll drive you around.’
‘ You can’t, you’re not strong enough.’
‘ Can. Am. Let me try.’
Mary stepped down.
‘ O.K. I’m going to sit in the dumpster and you get on the saddle. Let’s see what you can do.’
‘ But I’ve never ridden the tricycle…’ Francis felt unsure all of a sudden.
‘ You can do it. You’re so superior.’ Mari chided sarcastically.
‘ O.K. But I’m not carrying Li’le Bear too. Leave him on the sidewalk.’
‘ No someone will pinch him.’ Mary put on her scandalised frown.
‘ Who would want that smelly old thing.’ Francis teased mischievously.
‘That’s it. I’m going home to tell Mummy what a naughty little sister you are. You pedal back on your own.’
Mary stormed off. Francis shrugged, climbed onto the seat, gripping one of Badibo’s paws and reached for the handlebars. She had to bend over her thighs before her fingers touched them. She glanced over her shoulder. Mary was already opening the green front door.
Francis looked down at her toes pressed on the pedals and pushed down on her knees. Nothing happened. She turned round and looked at the stem then the front wheel, the chain, the back wheels and saw that the dumpster was tilted completely down against them.
With a fed-up sigh, she climbed off and swung the handle so the dumpster was flat once more. Francis tried again. The chain rattled, the wheels squeaked and the tricycle was off, rolling, rolling down the sidewalk, bumping along the grassy cracks towards the end of the street and Barbara’s house.
‘ Hi Barbara. look I’m riding my tricycle all by myself.’
‘ Wow… You’re going to get your socks and jeans all dirty. My Mom doesn’t let me ride with clean clothes on. I have to put my overalls on because of the grease from the chain and the dust on the wheels and the dirt on the bars…’ barbara rattled on.
‘ Yeah ! Well you’re Miss Prim Pants always dressed like a china doll. What do you know about having fun.’ Francis counterpunched.
Barbara ran back into her yard wailing.
‘ Mom, Mom, Francis is being nasty’
Francis turned her razor eyes back on the sidewalk and pedalled on to the end of the world. She turned left and came down the next street, swerved dangerously round the corner and finished furiously her journey up to the house.
‘ Mummy, Mummy, I went around the block on my tricycle all on my own.’
‘ Be careful Honey.’ Mummy paused looking at her daughter’s white jeans.
‘ Oh ! Francis, you’re filthy .’
The jeans were smudged with black streaks of grime. Mummy clenched her teeth and her bright blue eyes scolded.
All the summer, Francis took over the use of the tricycle. She filled it with water for her mud pies; wheeled the bottles of lemonade and glasses to their table on the sidewalk. Travelled to faraway lands with Badibo reclining on a cushion in the carriage.
She wasn’t allowed to cross the street so she had to walk to Frank’s birthday party with her heavy bag: the present, her swimsuit, her towel and sunglasses. She couldn’t take it to the pit either. mummy said the wheels would get clogged with mud, the chain, tangled in clumps of weed and brambles.
The red tricycle followed Francis through two years of collecting Easter Eggs, trick-or-treating. Playing Sesame Street and punching her RomperRoom inflatable dummy which burst after a week.
On Francis’ fifth birthday she got her full-grown bicycle with trainer wheels. In September, Francis asked:
‘ Can I go to Kindergarten on my bike ? ‘
‘ No, you’ll be taking the school bus.’
Francis’ newfound freedom was nipped in the bud. So she climbed onto the yellow bus on her first day of school and had the time of her life. New faces, milk and cookies, hand-painting, story time and most of all new friends. At twelve-noon, Francis took the school bus bound for home.
Her and Patsy chatted excitedly about their day.
‘ It’s my stop. Come and play at my house. Mum won’t mind.’
‘ O.K. I’ll phone home from yours.’
Patsy and Francis stood up and made their way to the front. Patsy got off, Francis close behind.
‘ Whatta ya think you’re doing young lady,’ came a booming voice behind her.
‘ I’m going to play at my friend’s house. I’ll phone my Mummy as soon as we get there.’
‘No you don’t. You only get off at your stop. back in your seat.’
Francis looked at Patsy walking away through the window. Tears welled up in her eyes. All the other kids were watching like hawks. The shame, the anger. The tears spilled over.
‘ Your stop,’ commanded the driver.
Mummy was waiting on the curb. Francis took her outstretched hand, head fixed on the cracked slabs.
‘ How was your day ? What did you do ? ‘
The excited flow choked in Francis’ throat.
‘ Great,’ she managed.
‘ Well you’ll tell me all about it after lunch. You must be tired and hungry. Here’s your carrot.’
Francis took the carrot fingers silently, snapped them one by one and munched, eyes glued to the ground.
As soon as she could get away, she buried her head in Badibo’s belly and sobbed her heart out. She couldn’t wait to go back the next day but she would have to take the bus. The BUS. The DRIVER. The Others. Where was her little red tricycle with the dumpster. Her house on wheels. Her carefree life.
extra 300 words. to break the rules and end the story properly… sorry…
‘ Time to go,’ Mummy called the next morning.
‘ I’m not going.’
‘ What do you mean, you’re not going, I thought you had such a wonderful time.’
‘ I won’t take the bus.’
‘ Well, you have to take the school bus to get there.’
‘ Can’t you take me, I’m feeling sick.’
‘ No you’re not. Come along now or we’ll be late.’
‘ I ‘m not, I’m not, I’m not.’
‘ Stop being such a baby, this is nonsense.’
Mummy picked up Francis’ bag, grabbed her hand and pulled her down the steps, dragging her length sidewalk. Francis’ little feet pedalled to keep up, her thighs bashing into her knotted stomach. Her face sheet-white, her eyes wide open in horror.
The yellow bus pulled up just as they reached the stop.
‘ Off you go then. Have a nice day.’
‘ I can’t, I’m going to throw up.’
‘ What’s up, I haven’t got all day ! ‘ bassed the driver.
‘ I don’t know what’s the matter with her, she doesn’t want to take the bus. Did something happen ? ‘
The driver leaned over the steps and peered into Francis’s face. His gaze lit up and he let out a resounding laugh.
‘ That’s the young lady who wanted to get off before her stop. Said she was going to a friend’s house. Stopped her of course. Can’t have theses kids running wild.’
Mummy joined in the fun. Francis turned beetroot red and fumed at her mother with rage. What was so funny ? She didn’t think there was anything to smile about. What were these stupid rules. If this was growing up, it was no fun at all. She couldn’t wait for the week to be done and get back to her couch, her TV, her muddies, her paddling pool and her red tricycle with the dumpster.
She wanted her life back.
Mr Sandman, extract film Mr Nobody, The Chordettes (1958), go here
Everyday, Buddy Holly, here
Sesame Street, Greatest songs, 1970’s, go here
Captain Kangaroo, theme song and video, here
RomperRoom, 1967, here
Leonardo di Caprio gets kicked off Romper Room, 1985, here
Robin Williams Interview, 1987 , go here
Over the Rainbow, Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland, 1939, go here
Sanonaxe Street, May 1967
Colon Avenue, June 1967
Thanks for visiting. Please feel free to comment, discuss, like, dislike, rate. And I will be sure to reply.
Sunny here again in Toulouse, but cool nip in the air. Indian Summer on the horizon.