Flash Fiction: “Creature Catalogue”

The room wasn’t pink like you’d expect a five-year-old girl’s to be. Renter’s-white walls, posters taped up. Can’t have nail-holes, you know.

“I’m so tired of this bullshit! When’s the last time you came home sober?”

There were toys on the floor—a vast array, really— and the carpet was old and a little dingy, though generally clean. The blinds covering the windows let in light and preserved privacy. There weren’t any curtains.

“When’s the last time you gave me a reason—a reason to?”

The child’s bed was her favorite part of the room, dressed in Ninja Turtle sheets a white California Raisins bead spread. Rainbow Brite was buried somewhere beneath the covers, along with what was likely to be the crumbs of a cookie smuggled before breakfast earlier the same day.

“I’m not the only one you’ve made promises to, Ben. For God’s sake, you come home smelling like a whorehouse and what? I’m suppose to just—”

Today, there were three little monsters hiding under that bed. Well—a cat, a girl, and Pee-Wee with his pull-string voice-box.

“You keep your mouth shut. You got no idea what you’re talking about. You want Jess to hear?”

Jess did hear. The cat’s ears lay flat against its head and Pee-Wee’s were covered by tiny hands.

“Oh, the way she hears you stumbling in drunk at all hours of the night? What am I supposed to say to her when she asks why you’re not home? There’s nothing I can say!”

“I don’t like it when they’re mean to each other,” she told the cat.

Ambitions.

In the spirit of consistency, I’m here again. Yay!

I had the opportunity to eat dinner with the lovely Renee and Trena at Odyssey tonight. I wish now that I had taken a photo of our time together (or of the food, at least), but alas, it slipped my mind. It was wonderful, though, to sit and listen to mature women talk about raising kids, about home-making and home-owning, about financial planning and security. These are things I’m sorry to say are somewhat foreign to me. I didn’t grow up prioritizing much of anything—mostly, life was day to day, taking it one step at a time, accepting what life hands you. In some ways, that lifestyle has made me flexible and easy-going; it’s easy to roll with the punches when that’s all you’ve ever done. I didn’t have a savings account, or a five-year plan, or long and short term goals. There was just today and then maybe tomorrow.

Now, as Joel and I diligently work toward the goal of debt-free living and the light is (sort of) shining at the end of the tunnel, I realize that there’s a whole world of possibilities out there, and responsibilities, too. Owning the home that we live in makes all kinds of financial sense, though to be honest, the idea of being staked to a single place on the planet indefinitely terrifies me. I’ve lived in this little-ish town for the last 20 years, and just the fact that I could go somewhere else if I wanted helps me to get through the days when I feel trapped, like I’ll never be able to escape this place. It isn’t that I hate it here, quite to the contrary! I love my friends, my family, and my church more than I can possibly express. Still, there are times when I long for rain and green and rocky northwest shores and I wonder…and long.

“Those times” tend to coincide with triple digit temperatures.

Anyway. The point is that I’ve come to the realization that I(we) have to change how we think about time and money and planning. There’s something to be said, I suppose, for going with the flow, but…I’m a grown-up now, and I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore. There are things I want of course, material things, but mostly I long for the freedom to be generous. I want to know that I’m blessing God with how my money is used. I want to be intentional about how it’s spent, not constantly making decisions pertaining to the future based on how I’ve spent money in the past. Maybe that means buying a house, or adopting, or tithing 20, 30, 40% of my income. I kind of hope it means all of those things, one day…

And, I wouldn’t mind maintaining my Starbucks habit.

😛

Let’s get this started right.

To be honest, I’m pretty awful at journaling regularly.

I used to be pretty fantastic at it—writing at length about my day’s experience, my feelings on various things (read: complaints and lengthy diatribes concerning the tragedy of my young life), and my hopes and prayers for the future. The best way to do it is find a journal with pretty paper and a pen that’s just a little more expensive than you might normally be willing to humor…because it feels good to have (and to use) nice things. Just a little incentive to keep at it.

That was before the internet, and being married.

It’s difficult to imagine a time before either of those things, really, but that’s really neither here, nor there. The point is, life has distracted me from doing the things I ought to be doing. I ought to be studying God’s word and writing down the things I learn from interacting with Him. It would help my faith—and yours, some say.

My life is different than it was back then, back when I was a high-schooler going through the motions of normal teenaged life. I’m able to recognize the significance of my daily experiences now, the weight they possess, how important they are. There’s potential in everything for my good if I can only make use of it.

So…there’s no fancy pen with comfort grip, nor exquisitely lined paper, leather bound.

It’s just me and a keyboard and my life.

Let’s see what happens, shall we?