Short stories, poetry, haiku, expository and technical non-fiction. Report Cards and observations on writing. This began as my repository of exercises from the "What If?" self-help writers group at AOL. It has become more and less, since leaving AOL.

Saturday, August 7

Feathers Foretell the Future

Diane's entry on Friday evening over at MT Headed Rambling helped to dredge up this memory for you.

I think Katie was in seventh or eight grade, so that would have been twenty years ago, give or take. It was a "Big Deal," this slumber party, and my wife and I had done our best to provide the support services requested then got the heck out of the way.

If memory hasn't failed me, I'd just finished chauffeuring the last of the participants when the Plectron went off, toning me out to a house fire on the other side of town. I was on call for the evening as the "white hat" so off I went in the old pickup, lights flashing and siren wailing. It was a tough fire, fully involved upon our arrival. The crew made a good stop, but damage was extensive. The only one home at the time was an elderly gentleman who'd been overcome with smoke and was rushed off to hospital. The crew was mopping up; I had already begun examining the scene for area of origin and cause of the fire. I pinned it down to an electric blanket feed wire that had been frayed by contact with a bedspring, allowing a bare section of wire contact with the wooden bed frame. Purely accidental.

It was late when I got home, well after midnight. I checked on the girls from the bottom of the stairs -- strangely, they were quiet and the light was out in their room. I took a quick shower and crawled up the stairs and into bed.

Saturday morning I came down the stairs groggily, in need of coffee and a cigarette. I was startled by a feather falling past my nose from the molding ledge around the stair well. Looking around, I noticed things I hadn't noted in my headlong rush to bed the night before. Feathers. Where feathers didn't belong. In the ceiling light. Drooping listlessly from the scanner antenna. Nestled between the apples in the fruit bowl on the kitchen table. In the trash bucket a new bag, nearly empty, where a nearly full one had awaited my return to take it out. Hmmmm...

Kindling split, stove fired up, tea pot whistling and the coffee ground and waiting in the drip basket for the water, I put the final touches on some waffle batter to go along with the oatmeal and fresh fruit I planned to feed the hungry hordes.

A trip out to the kennels to feed the pups with a detour to the trash barrels told the story. Inside, stuffed into a trash bag were the remains of a down pillow that came from my grandmother's home.

Deb came down the stairs, pulled up a stump and I gave her the first cuppa of the morning. Cleverly, I'd floated a small pin feather in her cup that I'd pulled out of the coffee grinder before dumping in the beans. She just glared at me. I went back to cooking waffles and let it fester awhile.

The girls trooped down the stairs and did whatever girls do in packs in the bathroom. I set out their breakfasts, gave a bellow to "Come and get it" and sat down to my second cuppa the morning.

Conversation was light, centered on things at school and Duran Duran. I let them finish, then as Katie started to rise, I let the hammer fall.

"Seems there must have been an accident last night," I started off. Quick darts of eyes, murmurs of "I told you."

"It was an accident" offered my wife, coming to the girls' rescue. "I tore a pillow while fluffing it."

Stung, it was my turn to glare. "You tore a pillow? Not bloody likely. Somebody had a pillow fight and ruined one of Grandma's pillows!"

Seven pairs of eyes started to well with tears. I'm not proud of what I did that morning. I lost it. Over a stupid pillow. I bellowed. I cursed. I made a fool of myself. I hurt the feelings of my stepdaughter and her chums. I angered my wife. Oh, I stepped in it but good. I raged, I ranted. I stomped off and had my third cup of coffee in the garage, cleaned up the bench, castigated myself for my stupidity. I hid out, waiting for the feathers to clear.

After a while, Katie came and got me, she had something to show me. I came along with her, reluctant to face them all, knowing I had a lot of apologizing to do.

I'd been a fool. I over reacted and I shouldn't have. I didn't intend to get so angry, it was just the culmination of a long week and too little sleep. I groveled and begged the forgiveness of these eight ladies occupying my home and my life, if only for a moment.

They were gracious to a fault. The house was spotless. Nary a feather to be seen. All was forgiven, "would you make some scones and could we have some marmalade, please?"

As I finished taking the last of the scones off the griddle top on the wood stove, Deb poured me a cup of coffee and added a shot of bourbon, with a feather on top.

Gales of giggles and laughter cascaded over all as they regaled me with the tales of their great pillow fight of the night before.

Life was good then.


Your comments & critique are welcomed.

About Me

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Well past (by at least a decade) the half century mark. One foot in the grave, the other on a banana peel at the rim of the abyss and the view from here is disconcerting. I am a former student, pearl diver, cook, truck driver, firefighter, EMT, CEO, Town Fire Warden, mechanic, oiler, marine engineer and computer whiz bang. Mostly I sleep these days in an aluminum tube. And So It Goes... I waste my time reading blogs and kvetching about the weather, playing with our Schipperke sidekick, Ignatz McGraw and waiting hand by foot upon my wife, the Queen of our Hovel, She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO).