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The Boy – A short story

The boy felt his fist hit Lars in the stomach, then his other fist.

Even as he was pulling back for another punch he knew he’d pay for this later. They’ll pin me down and beat me when no ones around, he thought to himself.

His arms kept swinging as if they had a mind of their own.

This was not like him, the boy thought, how many times had he meekly done nothing when he was being beaten or picked on, why was this time different he wondered.

The girl was the difference, her mismatched socks scrunched around her ankles, sobbing, her new dress, her first time in her life new dress that she’d been so happy about even though it was to big for her like the old worn mismatched socks scrunched around her ankles, Lars had pushed the girls lunch tray into the girls chest sending the hot and cold food running down her front.

The boy didn’t even remember leaving his seat, all he knew was that Lars had to pay for making the girl cry.

He wasn’t aware of Lars falling to the ground, or sitting on top of him, the boy was only aware that he still felt rage, that Lars needed to pay, but he was being carried off, probably to the principals office.

The boy sat mutely, they wanted him to explain why, but he didn’t know why so how was he to explain.

The resource officer came in, the boy had broken Lars’s nose.

The boy stared down at his feet, his overalls worn, patched, and frayed ending several inches above his ankles, dirt was under his ragged toenails, and his flip flop was torn. He’d end up taking a beating for tearing his flip flop.

The adults talked over his head, they wanted to reach his parents but there was no phone numbers, not even a cell number listed, just an address out near the swamp.

Eventually it was decided that the resource officer would take him home.

The boy stuffed the paper that spoke of his suspension into his left front pocket, it was the only good pocket, as he shuffled out to the waiting car, he was missing music class, he liked music class, not because he was good at it but because the teacher was nice and always had the nicest things to say.

The ride was long, at first the officer tried to talk to the boy but the boy stared mutely out the window wondering would today be a good day or bad day when they reached the shack, his home.

The officer stopped his car on the rutted dirt road, a rusted pickup was blocking the way, they walked the remaining distance on foot.

The officer let out a low and startled “You live here?” as they reached the shack, it’s front window broken, covered with plywood, weeds almost higher than the window, and the screen door on it’s side against the small broken porch.

For the first time the boy saw his world through someone else’s eyes and was ashamed, he’d known there were nicer houses, but he’d never felt ashamed of his home before. Head hanging like a dead weight he shuffled up to the door and opened it. The stale air reeked of old urine and vomit.

He led the officer across the small space to the old table on the peeling linoleum and stood still. The boy had already sighted the turned over bottles and the small pool of amber liquid on the floor, today was a bad day. On bad days the man was mean.

The boy pulled the paper from his pocket and set it on the table, the man and the officer were talking the man was standing and reaching for his belt.

The boy felt something inside snap.

He was running, he didn’t remember leaving the shack, but he was running.

Here in the swamp the trail was dark and narrow, if you weren’t careful roots would trip you he didn’t slow.

There was a fort, way up a tree, but it was deep in the swamp.

Did he remember where it was? Could he reach it before dark? What about the gators, could he avoid them.

The lights flashed red and blue against the trees. Men and women carried flashlights and called out the boys name.

An officer stoops to scoop something out of the water, and carries it back to the cars and their lights.

It’s half a chewed flip flop, there are no words, only sad faces they all know the dangers of the swamp.



 

Dear Ms. Clinton,

I get it it, in the great scheme of politics you, and other politicians, probably do not consider my vote all that significant. After all I’m just an average person, living out a fairly average life. The catch is that us average folk make up a much larger part of your voting demographic than the special groups that can afford the huge fancy diner invites that the Democratic Party sends out during various years.

Ms. Clinton do you, or your campaign manager, not vet what your guest speakers are going to say on your behalf? Do you not discuss with them the potential harm they can do to your campaign?

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright thundered, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

No Madam Albright you have it wrong, and on more than one level.

  • First you are assuming that every woman eligible and registered to vote believes in the same theology & mythology of heaven and hell. That is a rather big assumption, and almost everyone has had the phrase ass-u-me drilled into them at one point or another.
  • Second a phrase like that is not a phrase that will unite people, that is a phrase that divides, that pushes people away from each other, because it is a phrase of judgement. In one fell swoop you have categorically passed judgement on all women, stating that to be a good human they, as a  woman, must help each other out or face damnation*.
    (*Again this assumes they believes in the Christian mythos of heaven and hell.)

 

My next issue with recent events in your campaign.

Feminist leader Gloria Steinem also stirred controversy when she suggested last week that younger women were supporting Sanders just so they could meet boys.

Ms. Steinem are you for real! I grew up in the 70’s, I grew up with Ms. magazines in the house. I grew attending peace rallies, protest marches, and feminist rallies with my parents. To me you were an idol.  Has the fight for equality turned you so bitter that the idea that younger women might prefer to support a particular candidate because the candidate in question represents their values and ethics become foreign to you?

I know we haven’t, yet, won the battle for equality that started long before the suffragists took up the march for the right to vote. I know we’ve a long road to haul yet to gain equality for All. Yet, I can see plain as day, that in one sentence you, yourself Ms. Steinem, have done more harm to the battle for equality and the feminist movement than any detractor could ever do. That leaves me with heartache, deep heartache.

Ms. Steinmen, I invite you to step away from the hallowed halls that make up the foundation of the fight for feminism, and step back into the kitchens & living rooms of all of us younger women – and not the ones actively participating in the fight for feminism, especially those still in dorms, and spend some time in their shoes as they fight their daily struggle to achieve their dreams.

Thanks to you and those others that paved the way, the world today is a lot different from the one of the 60’s & 70’s. I know the movement hasn’t stagnated, it’s grown and evolved, but is there a possibility that those of the first generation are not as in touch with those of the coming generation as they think they are? Just a question, not meant as an offense, merely meant for food for thought.

 

Ms. Clinton back to you and your campaign. Might I, a regular everyday person, suggest that you, Ms. Clinton, stop trying to play the gender card, you are way to much of a Washington Insider to use it at this stage of your life, and instead focus your campaign on The Issues. You know those things which impact us everyday, non-moneyed, hard working, back bone of this country, voters.

Those are the things we want to hear about, we – despite a certain persons, name starting with t, meteoric rise – don’t want fear mongering, we don’t want to be lied to, and we don’t want false promises. We, the average informed voter, want to know what you as our potential commander in chief bring to the table that no other running candidate brings.

I do know that you are not bringing a consistent track record, I do know that you don’t always get on well with congress – you know the group of people who actually make our countries laws and sets the budget, and I do know that the gop – which is a fairly scary group right now – possibly likes you less than our current President. I know that you flip-flop almost more than your husband did on issues. You have a tendency to say what you think fits the political climate, instead of sticking to issues and strong messages of change and growth. In someways you remind me of former President Reagan, but with less popularity, and that is scary. And none of that endears me to you as a voter.

As my back is slowly healing I have found myself chaffing against the inability to do anything.  I find myself pushing my limits by trying to cook at least once a day.

The first time I cooked since my back went out it took me well over 2 hours, almost 3, to make a simple pot of soup because I would have to sit and rest with ice every 5 minutes or so. After several months of nothing but canned or frozen food that pot of vegan ‘clam’ chowder was awesome, even if the last 20 minutes was spent in pain with an ice pack strapped to my back as I stood and stirred.

The other day I made a large pot of rice in the rice cooker not thinking about the weather. With the weather turning hot the rice can’t be kept out for as many days as when it’s cooler out, and as we all have experienced at some point rice just doesn’t do well in the fridge. I carefully stored my leftovers in an air tight glass lock container, which cut down on the fridge problems, then this morning I pulled out the 2 cups of rice and turned it into yummy rice pudding.

IMG_20140526_054512

Then because I was remembering to I added the recipe to my recipe box over at spark recipe.

Ingredients

      2 cups cooked Brown rice
      1 3/4 cups Water
      handful or 1/4 cup Almonds {natural, not roasted}
      2 tablespoon Flax Seed Meal
        Zest of 1/2 Lemon
      1/4 cup Raisins
      1 tablespoon Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread**
      1/4 cup Honey*
      1/8 teaspoon Salt
      1 Apple, diced into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces

*For this to be a true vegan recipe swap out the honey for sugar or agave nectar.

** Earth balance is what I keep on hand feel free to sub out for a preferred butter alternative.

 

IMG_20140526_054637

Directions

Preheat oven to 350

Into a 16 oz or larger mason jar that will fit your blender add: water, almonds, 2 Tbsp of the cooked rice, and the flax seed meal; blend until you no longer see chunks of almonds.

In a medium bowl mix: margarine, honey, salt, lemon zest, and liquid blend. Then add in rice, raisins, and apple pieces.

Pour mix into an oiled/greased {I used olive oil} 8×8 pan. Bake for 30 minutes, allow to rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Can be served warm or cold.

Serving Size: Makes roughly 8 1/2 cup servings

 

My recipe is adapted from the recipe for Raisin Rice Pudding found in The Settlement Cookbook. I’ve made it the original way in the past before I found out that I was allergic to dairy products … I still miss Brie cheese but I digress …. and honestly I find this version to be much yummier than the original. Of course that could be largely due to the fact that I have never liked egg custards.

I probably should note that I’m a 3rd generation Settlement Cookbook user, and that my copy has just as many notes and added sheets of paper as my grandma and mom’s copy’s hold.

New Book Out

Following on the heels of the first book. I’ve put together the first of the Sixtoe stories, it is no longer tucked away on odd bits of notes or in my imagination.

SixToecvrpub

Is now up over at Smashword, and just like the first book I’ve set up a coupon for it.

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: US68T
Expires: May 14, 2014

The coupon won’t work at Amazon, so my apologies to the international community. However as with the first book, if you have Amazon Prime you can barrow a copy for free. Once the Amazon link is available I’ll add it.

We have an odd bit of a gap in our rules as a society. In most states , but not all {New Jersey gets murky for example}, we tell our young People that once they turn 18 they are adults. As young adults we tell them that they are legally responsible for their actions. That should they run a fowl of the law we will try them as adults. Additionally in most states we tell parents that they are no longer required to provide child support for young adults once they turn 18.

We tell them that at 17 and 1/2 years of age to get a drivers license {varies from state to state} they must follow the restriction placed on teens, but at 18 and 0 days they may get the unrestricted adult license. We allow our 18 year old young adults to marry whom they choose without parental input, yet at 17 and 364 days of age if a young adult wished to marry they would need parental consent and counseling programs before getting the marriage license. What change is there in that one day, besides the fact that the young adult in question is now chronologically and biologically 18 years of age? None, there is no magic switch in the brain that alters their thinking, if anything their brains are still not fully developed and won’t be until they are 25 years of age, or at least that’s what scientists and the medical community have told us.

We tell them that even though they might still be in high school that if they are foster youth or wards of the state, that they are no longer supported** by the foster system or state. This has led to the homelessness of many former foster youth and other state wards as they were turned out of foster and/or group homes in which they had been living because of lack of funding. On the flip side of that, most school districts tell these same young adults that while enrolled in high school their parents or guardians have to sign off on their absences unless a special form has been filled out, signed, and returned to the school. Yet another conflict within the schools is if a young adult chooses to drop one school and sign up for another school without parent or guardian consent, they are allowed to because we have deemed 18+ to be legally an adult.

We tell them that they may sign contracts and may sign up for the military without the signature of their parents or legal guardians. We tell them that they may receive credit cards and loans. Many banks used to actively run sign-up campaign’s on college campuses to increase their card holder numbers.

Yet, we have medical insurance programs that tell young people, including married young adults, that if one or both parties are bellow the age of 21 they must look to their individual parents for medical support. Even when the young married couple lives out on their own in their own home and at least one of them works full time.

State and federal programs are not necessarily any better. At ages 18 to 21, should a young adult still live at home with their parents, but not able to be carried on their parents medical because

• The parent/guardians medical was through a state/federal aid program
• The young adult is not a student, even now with ACA in place some insurers still require the young adult to be a student
• The young adult is employed, but has no medical through their job, and files their own taxes and is not a dependent of their parents/guardians
• Young adult is self employed and if they were 21 or older would have no problems signing up for medical through ACA

The exception to the above is if the young adult is 18 or up and pregnant, or in the military. Even that isn’t guaranteed anymore as exampled by state federal laws that require 18 year old single parents to live with their parents to receive aid, and the experience of at least one soldier discovered when he tried to get a hotel room for a night.

The examples listed above are examples that I have either witnessed or heard about, that others are experiencing. There are probably more, examples of how we have an odd gap in our laws concerning medical insurance out there, and I welcome readers to share their experiences in the comments. Please note comments are monitored.

The second way we fail our young adults and send them conflicting messages, is through college funding.

Should a young adult live on their own and work with a steady income, unless they are above the age of 25*, they must have their parents tax information and income information when filling out FAFSA and other college financial aid forms. It doesn’t matter if the young adult has been on their own for at least two or more years and fully independent, most college financial aid offices will require the parents information. Except for in the following cases

• The young adult in question was a ward of the state
• An orphan, but not necessarily a ward of the state
• 18 or older with a child
• A soldier active duty or not

As you can see with the situations above we are constantly sending our young adults conflicting messages, on the one hand we tell them they are adults but on the other we tell them that they are the responsibility of their parents. Yet we also tell them that if they are pregnant or fighting for us only then will we treat them in full as an adult.

What we need to do, is come up with a single common age limit of when a young adult is to be considered a full adult in their own right. What the right age definition should be is hard to say. Should we go old school or retro and throw the rules back to the early 1700’s when a young person was not considered an adult until they reached their majority at age 25. Yet society married them off, at least the young ladies, as early as 16 back then; and we encouraged the young men to seek military jobs or apprenticeships as young as 15 and 16. Perhaps we should make 18 the universal age of adult hood, but then we will have to readdress the drinking age, which while once was around 18 almost nation wide is now 21. Unless, you live in a state that has thumbed it’s nose at Federal Highway and Safety Money, which is tied to the drinking age. Maybe we can look to our neighbors and allies across the Atlantic {or the pond if you prefer ;)} and allow our young adults full adult citizenship at the tender age of 16 without having to go to court to get emancipation. I don’t know that it fully happens that way, but I have heard of some as young as 16 being out on their own aka emancipated. Or perhaps 21 the current drinking age in most areas would be the better ‘magic’ age to declare our young adults as adults now legally responsible for themselves. Then we must answer the questions of ‘what of those already out should there be a grandfather clause’ and what of the families, i.e. the parents who
will then be considered responsible for all of these young adults. What does an additional 1 to 7 years do their sanity, budget, retirement potential?

While I haven’t watched it the Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers comes to mind. In which the promo spots portray the chaos, frustration, and purported comedy^ that ensues when two adults in their 50’s to 60’s get married yet still have their grown adult sons living with them. The visions of millions of households across the nation suddenly dealing with the turmoil that ensues from being required to take back their young as we suddenly declare our young adults no longer adults but rather once again wards of their parents and revoke their adult privileges.

© Melinda Dawn Garren April 8th, 2014

**Some states have changed their laws and now support foster youth and other state wards until high school graduation, and in some cases may provide additional support for college.
*25 is what I and others have encountered on most financial aid forms, for some it might be as low as 21.
^ I use the phrase I do because {A} as stated I haven’t seen the movie {B} I’m not a fan of Mr. Ferrell’s comedy style.

I’ve taken the plunge

After years of wondering if I should or shouldn’t, I finally bit the bullet (to borrow a cliche) and have plunged head first into the world of self-publishing.

After much revising, editing, and re-editing I’ve published my first short story. Mind that’s first published not first written.

Click the cover to go to the book at Smashwords

It’s currently available through Smashwords and hopefully soon also at Amazon.

Since this is my first published book I’m running a special for the full month of April.

Your coupon code is XP62N (not case-sensitive).

Customers enter the code prior to completing their checkout.

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: XP62N
Expires: May 1, 2014

 

April 9th, 2014: Just a quick update I’ve decided to pull the release copy from Amazon until I write the other SixToe stories and can bundle the story’s together. Reason, Amazon won’t let me set a price lower than $2.99 {US} for any book I publish through them. While this story has what I consider a decent length for a short story, I want to keep the price closer to the $0.99 cent mark. Smashwords does offer a kindle friendly mobi format along with the epub, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, read online, and txt formats. So no matter your favorite reading device, short of a traditional bound book, there should be a format for just about every current reading device.

April 11th, 2014:Update again, sometimes I should read more, after much browsing and searching I found the solution to the problem and SixToe is back up at Amazon for the $0.99 {US} price I prefer. It also now includes a better story blurb. Sadly I don’t think Smashbook coupon works at Amazon, but Amazon is available global and if you have a prime account you should be able to borrow the book for free with a kindle device.

Prelude and background:

How to say what I want, no need to say. Speaking up is not a problem, speaking with eloquence can sometimes be a challenge. This letter is primarily intended for the medical community it also applies to anyone who works with the general public, and one I’ve debated whether to write for several days now. I am probably not the first person to have an experience like the one I had, and the need to speak up in the hopes that one voice will make a difference in the future is strong.

I recently sought medical help, due to health problems that I had not experienced in over a year. During that year we had changed insurance companies and I have to start over with new doctors that I have never met before. It is not helping that almost all of the ‘in-network’ doctors listed on the insurance company website either no-longer practice at the offices listed or are not accepting new patients. That is an issue we will be addressing directly with them, since it their staff who will need to research and update all of the information. An irony with all of the bumps we’ve been experiencing, from clerical errors, to wrong information has made me miss the high priced HMO we used to have.

About me; I’m educated and love to research new information to stay informed, I don’t dress fancy but always wear clean and sensible clothes; aka jeans and a simple shirt/blouse. I dress for the weather which means if it’s on and off rain I’ll be wearing my rain poncho over my comfortable jacket along with a hat. I’ve never been a super fancy person; I prefer comfort over high fashion and don’t feel the need to try to emulate the ads in fashion magazines, so no make-up either (and given my husbands allergy to cosmetics this helps our relationship). I’m a bit on the heavy side, but through small changes that I’ve been able to maintain I also weigh over 60 pounds less than what I did at my heaviest. While not perfect about it, I do try to take good care of my health and lead a busy and active life, which means I don’t go to the doctors unless I really need to.

 

The Letter:

Dear OB/GYN Doctor,

Today was the first time we met; I was in a lot of pain and not feeling well. To compound matters my hormones were a bit off which makes me more susceptible to crying jags. To my knowledge this is all part of a) being a woman, b) perimenopause/menopause which I’ve already started and know I have to work/live with for up to 10 years give or take a year or so. I came to you hoping to find answers for my problem; answers that would include why and any solutions (not drugs) to help fix or minimize the problem.

Your staff, all lovely, caring and clearly very happy with you, gave me confidence that I was in a good place. When you entered the room, you were warm and welcoming. You faced me while we spoke; your vocal tones were welcoming even as you were matter of fact and straight to business.

Then we began to go over my medical history. We got to a question I knew would come up; I’ve had to deal with it in the past and have trained myself to be matter of fact in my response. To be less than honest would have been disservice to both of us, this is not to say that I don’t have strong feelings regarding those choices.

The question was the standard question on pregnancies; how many, how many live births, and what became of the other pregnancies.

I was honest but not emotional about it. Now I wonder if it would have helped you had I been an emotional wreck when I answered, or just outright lied. That is neither here nor there and would not have helped the appointment or the reason why I was there to see you.

I was there because I was in pain, to be more precise I was experiencing extreme ongoing pain in my lower back and had been for 5 days, and since the pain was one that I have only ever encountered with my menstrual cycle I felt that seeing a doctor who specialized in women’s health was the best choice. After my response to the above questions your whole demeanor changed. Your vocal tones became brusque and harsh; you turned your whole body away from me and no longer looked me in the face as we spoke. In retrospect I should have ended the appointment right then and there, but I needed answers and still do as to why my body goes through the back pain it goes through each month, so we proceeded with a standard pelvic exam.

As you inserted and expanded the speculum there was no “you might feel a slight discomfort” warning. When you pushed the first time on my uterus, I winced and made some sound to indicate that it hurt. My past experience is the doctor will say something to the effect of “Sorry, for the discomfort but it’s necessary to check” and maybe not push as hard on the next spot, you didn’t do that instead you pushed even harder on the next spot. I could feel my face tightening and clenched my lips tight to keep from crying, from the pressure you applied. Afterwards my uterus spasmed and cramped for almost 45 minutes adding to the discomfort I was already in. That was not something I had ever experienced after a pelvic exam before, which was topped off by sharp stabbing vaginal pains intermittently over the remainder of the day. Perhaps it was coincidence and perhaps not, either way both were not sensations I was used to experiencing.

As we finished the appointment, you very callously suggested that I “should get my uterus removed since I wasn’t using it anymore”; that I shouldn’t expect the progesterone medicine I was on to be a magic pill and that it was fine, you brushed aside my statement that I had indeed had regular cycles while on the medication that such a thing wasn’t feasible, you also said that the problems with my back “could not be related to my cycle and I should follow up with a regular doctor”.

I thank you for your time and respect the training you have had to become a doctor.

Having to have one’s uterus removed is not a casual choice and should never be spoken of in the off hand and offensive manner that you did. It is true that my husband and I do not plan on having anymore children, but my uterus is still a part of my body and one does not casually remove body parts in the same fashion one gets a hair cut or ears pierced. Surgery’s are never with out risk and don’t always solve the underlying problem.

I know quite a bit about my medication thank you. I know it is not a magic pill; I’ve also done my homework on it back when I first started the treatment so I knew what to expect. I am concerned because my experience this month is outside of what is known to be expected; what I had experience over the last 13 months, of which I have kept very precise records of which you brushed aside, that I’ve been on the medication; and according to the mayo clinic an indicator of possible problems that warrant immediate medical attention.

I am still uncertain how something which I have only ever experienced in conjuncture with my cycle could not be a part of it that does not mean I will discount your statement that I could possibly have some other unknown back condition. I will be following up with a primary doctor, in the hopes of finding both answers and a solution, hopefully one that does not involve surgery. In the end if surgery is the only option then that is what will have to happen, but only after exhausting all other options.

I hope you will not be offended that I will not be returning to you. Since after this one encounter I’m not sure that we can have a healthy patient doctor relationship, and I strongly prefer my relationships to be healthy ones.

Sincerely,

M-D

Beautiful but Scary

image

image

I’m not sure what kind of tree this is. I find it beautiful that it has buds getting ready to bloom, yet it is also sad and scary. It is currently mid February, this tree (to my knowledge) should be dormant right now. Should the weather return to the cold of winter these buds will freeze and die.

Posted from WordPress for Android ~ by Melinda

Saddness

blank

empty

where to start

no words

sorrow

saddness

anger

fear

one step closer

closer to marshal law

saddness

lives lost

lives torn apart

anger

history repeating

Oklahoma

Columbine

New York City

Aurora

Sandy Hook

many more

now

Boston

tears

sobs

sorrow

no words

heart torn

wounded

grief

Sixtoe

11/6/12 Quick note this draft is not the final draft, it is an unedited first draft

© Melinda D. Garren

Sixtoe lay sprawled on the rock. The last of the days warmth radiating up from the stone. He was content in his solitude, surveying the canyon below him. He had had a good evening, killed a deer, eaten well, and stored the rest of the carcass for the next night. He would need to move under shelter soon, the air was scented with fall rain.

Just as he was shifting his weight to get up, he heard a screeching sound. It was not animal, that he knew. Then he heard scraping and crunching sounds, the sounds hurt his ears. He flattened them to his skull and hissed in the direction of the sound.Then his eyes went round and he hurled himself sideways away from the rock he had been relaxing on. A large shape fell from the grey river, bounced off the rock he had just vacated and tumbled down towards the bottom of the ravine.

………………

© Melinda D. Garren 11/3/2012

 

Dear readers, I have removed the rest of the story. If you wish to read the fully revised and edited version; SixToe and the Woman; it is now available for most e-books through Smashwords.

For the month of April I’m running a special on the book, in the form of a coupon since this is my first official publishing in e-book format.

Your coupon code is XP62N (not case-sensitive).

Customers enter the code prior to completing their checkout.

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: XP62N
Expires: May 1, 2014

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