I am very short of sleep, time, and brain power today, so we’ll keep the intro brief.
You know what this means, don’t you, you clever people. It means another lovely writing prompt from the lovely Jem Jones!
Here’s the Prompt:
A few things you don’t need to know before you read what I wrote:
- I changed the color of the cat *GASP*
- ….wait, actually I never mentioned what color the cat is
- It’s yellow. You might have guessed as much from the name, but eh
- ….I guess I also changed the age of the person holding the cat
- (okay, but when have I ever been entirely accurate to the prompt)
- Roald Dahl said this thing about how you should stop writing for the day when you know what’s going to happen next, so you won’t have a mental block about starting to write the next day. Sometimes it works out just smashingly and sometimes it’s more like ‘I know I knew where I was going last night, but do I remember now???’
- WHAT ABOUT THAT, MR. DAHL
- (In case you couldn’t tell where I was going with that…I kind of forgot where I was going with this prompt)
- Didn’t I promise a short intro????
- (You know when you’re so sleep deprived you can’t speak? But then sometimes you’re so sleep deprived you can’t shut up?)
Mr. Lemonade had been gone for nearly a week by the time Wallie told Meg to stop looking for him.
“Why?” she demanded. She with her hands on her hips in her rain boots—not because it was raining (in fact, the forest surrounding the little house was particularly sunny today)—but because when she wore her rain boots she felt it reflected the seriousness of the task she was about. Her brother stood in front of the door, blocking her way out of the house.
“Why shouldn’t I look for him?” she demanded, her head tipped up at a severe angle to look him in the eye.
“I think…” Wallie sighed and leaned back against the door. “I think he’s gone, Megs.”
Meg stared up at him through narrowed eyes. “Gone like gone for good?”
Wallie hesitated, then nodded heavily.
“Gone like dead? Like killed by a wolf or something?”
Wallie bit his lip. “Maybe not, he said slowly. “Maybe he’s okay, but he just wanted to live somewhere else. Maybe he found a new friend or—”
Meg felt like an idiot. She should have realized right away why she couldn’t find the cat. “I hope he’s dead,” she snapped.
Wallie looked down at her, startled.
“I’d rather him be dead. I hope he got ripped up by wild animals or struck by lightning.”
Wallie blinked. “Don’t you want him to be okay?”
“Not if he’s not coming back.” Meg’s hands curled into fists. “If he’s not coming back, I want him eaten alive by coyotes.”
For a long moment, Wallie stared at her in silence. The look on his face was all mixed up and Meg couldn’t tell what he was thinking.
Finally, he slumped back against the door, sliding down to sit on the floor. “I’m sorry, Meg,” he said very quietly.
“Sorry for what? It’s not like you’re the one who made Mr. Lemonade leave. And besides, I don’t care what happens to him. For all I care, he can get squashed flat by a car with all his guts spilling out—”
Wallie reached out, catching her by the wrist. “Don’t talk like that, okay?”
Meg wrenched her hand away. “Why not? He deserves it.”
Wallie’s shoulders slumped forward and he let his head fall into his hands. And suddenly, even more than she wanted Mr. Lemonade to be dead, Meg wanted her brother not to be sitting there on the floor like that. He looked so sad, she couldn’t stand it.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
Wallie shook his head. “You don’t have to apologize.”
“I’m sorry,” Meg repeated. “I’m sorry I made you sad.”
Wallie looked up. He took her hand and gently but firmly pulled her down to sit beside him. Then he wrapped his arms around her, hugging her close.
“Don’t ever be sorry for me being sad,” he said quietly but intently. “You don’t make me sad. You are my favorite person in the world.”
His face was in her hair, his breath warm on the top of her head.
“I love you,” he said. “I love you always. Even when you mess up or talk about guts spilling out on the road. Even if you say you wish my guts were spilling out on the road, I’ll still love you. You know that, right?”
“Right,” she said. Wallie was always saying things like that—saying “I love you, Megs,” like it was the most important thing in the world, like he hadn’t just said it an hour ago. It was like Wallie’s personal phrase that no one else used.
“Wallie, you’re squeezing me really tight, you know that?”
Wallie didn’t loosen his hold. “Yup.”
Meg sighed, but she didn’t really mind. Wallie held her for a moment longer, then stood up and offered his hand. “What do you say we have an adventure?” he asked, pulling her to her feet.
Meg looked down at her boots sulkily. “We can’t. You have to take your nap.”
“Not today!” Wallie declared, throwing open the door. “It’s too perfect a day for adventuring.”
So out they went, into the woods, trampling the carpet of fallen leaves and flakes of sunlight. Wallie was more energetic than he had been in weeks—making jokes and pretending to trip and fall with exaggerated movement. Once or twice, he actually managed to get Meg to laugh. “Music!” he crowed. “Music to my ears!”
They climbed trees and made guesses about what lived in the depths of a particularly impressive thicket. When Meg started to get tired, she assumed it was high time to head home, but Wallie dropped into a crouch and said, “Climb on my back, fair princess.”
Meg rolled her eyes. “I’m too old to play at being a princess.”
Wallie grinned. “You’re never too old to be a princess.”
Meg climbed on his back and they continued through the woods, further and further from the house. Finally, they came to a little brook. Meg wanted to throw rocks at hovering insects and kill water bugs, but Wallie suggested they build a dam instead.
“How do you do that?” Meg asked.
So Wallie showed her how to block the flow of the water with a wall of rocks and mud. Once he had helped her get started, she said she could do it alone, so he retreated to sit on the bank.
Ten minutes later when she turned to ask if he could bring her more rocks, she found Wallie sitting with his back against a tree, asleep.
He had been smiling an awful lot since they left the house. But they had been scraped-together smiles—like when you try and try to get the last of the jam out of the jar and still end up just shy of a full spoonful.
All his scraped-together smiles were gone now. He didn’t look peaceful as he slept, just exhausted. Exhausted and sad. He always looked so sad.
Suddenly, Meg felt guilty for agreeing to go adventuring, for letting him carry her on his back. He obviously needed to sleep. She would have to wake him up soon so there would be time for the long walk back before he had to leave for work.
At first, Meg had thought his job had something to do with swings, but Wallie explained to her that “swing shift” just meant he worked at night. His actual job had something to do with putting little pieces of machinery together in a factory. He wasn’t really old enough to be working there. He had lied about his age, but when the boss found out, he said he wouldn’t tell anyone if Wallie wouldn’t. And if Wallie agreed to work for half as much money an hour. Wallie had to take a second job in the morning, cleaning a restaurant.
He came home every day with dark circles under his eyes and barely enough money and—inexplicably—some kind of treasure. Sometimes wildflowers. Sometimes homemade fruit preserves.
For hours and hours, Meg was at home along with only Mr. Lemonade for company. Until the stupid cat turned traitor and left. Even when Wallie was home, he had to sleep a lot of the time. The house almost always felt empty.
Meg sat on the bank beside her brother, suddenly feeling very lonely. She almost woke him up, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to interrupt his sleep just so she would have someone to talk to.
She could pray. Wallie prayed sometimes. Meg used to before Daddy left, but at this point she didn’t think God liked her and her brother very much.
Instead, she decided to talk to her absentee cat.
“Dear Mr. Lemonade,” she said quietly. “I know you’re not coming home now, and I don’t care. We’ve just had a fine afternoon of adventuring. Wallie brought home two cookies yesterday, but he said he didn’t want any more than a bite, so I got to eat the rest. We’re very happy without you—so happy that we wouldn’t want you back even if we could have you.”
She looked at her brother, dead to the world on the forest floor, his face so tired and sad.
“Mr. Lemonade,” she whispered, “I hope you regret giving up on us.”
There is was, and there it went.
(Okay, I kept the name Wallie because it was what I started with, but I’m pretty sure he’s actually Jamie in disguise. He gives off such Jamie vibes)
Many thanks to Jem for the prompt! I dearly love participating 🙂
Do you often find yourself writing characters who are an exaggerated version of your own current situation (i.e. you’re sleep deprived so you write a character who is even MORE sleep deprived)? Do you agree with me that Wallie is a Jamie in disguise? Do you know what I mean when I say a character gives off “Jamie vibes”? Do tell!
8 responses to “One Quirk Later #11–Dear Mr. Lemonade”
Excuse me. I did not give you permission to pull at my heartstrings like that. (I’m not sad, per se. It’s just…poignant. And I love them. And they need hugs and love and for Wallie (who does have rather Jamie-ish vibes) to stop working so much. ❤
(Also, I totally get the I-don't-know-where-I-was-going-last-time-I-stopped thing. And it's the worst. I usually will make a few notes in brackets under where I stop about where I was going so that I can remember when I come back, because otherwise my goldfish brain will totally lose that very important info.)
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I’m going to have to add a “permission to pull at heartstrings” form that pops up and must be signed before readers can view a quirk XD
Notes in brackets can be very helpful. (And often amusing the next day. In my most recent book, I ended a day of writing with the note [wakes up to bird of prey being like “what the heck, your feet are bleeding”]). But sometimes what happens next is more of a feeling and less of a plot point? And I can’t put it into words, but I think, “Eh, I’ll remember tomorrow”, and then??? I don’t??? (Alack, my goldfish brain)
*sniffles* Feelings, Jeeves, you must warn me next time about the Feelings. (…Actually I would be Bertie Wooster levels of not-the-brightest-bulb-in-the-socket if I didn’t know, at this point, what to expect when reading one of your Quirks, but still. The Feelings.)
Wallie is also like Jamie in that there is not NEARLY enough of him and I want MORE.
Meg is disturbing but relatable. (I mean, don’t we all want our dearly beloveds who spurn us to die and be smashed and have their guts eaten by vultures? That’s…a normal way to feel, right?)
This Quirk has Atmosphere, charm, and SADNESS. And Jamie vibes.
What more could one ask? No wonder I have Feelings. (Actually I read it early this morning and it’s been lingering in my head all morning so yeah.)
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‘Twould be rather impressive if you still approached each quirk with an “Oh, a new quirk! Jolly good fun. I–by JOVE, there are FEELINGS. I didn’t know there would be FEELINGS here–”
Meg wants more of Wallie too, but eh what can you do? (…why would I say that, I’m awful)
Meg is totally normal and healthy. Absolutely recommend wanting everyone who hurts you to die gory deaths.
Thank you! After all, what more could I ask than that my writing create Feelings and linger in my readers’ heads after they’ve finished? ❤
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*trumpet fanfare* okay that’s it, that’s the intro << I feel this intro in my soul xD
oooh I call the "not being able to shut up bc you're sleep deprived" thing being "sleep drunk", it is an Issue and I can't stay up too late with friends. Oop. xD
"If he's not coming back, I want him eaten alive by coyotes" this child is wILD and also I'm pretty sure 100% accurate to real children. (Never was one myself, I was always a grandma, so I can't say for certain… but yes, this does sound like the violent little gremlins! complete with throwing rocks at bugs xD) And I love how Wallie keeps saying how he loves her, even though she has the (very accurate to a small child) reaction of "…okay?? so can we actually do something now-" These siblings are beautiful. Thank you for your quirk, Erik!
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“Sleep drunk” articulates the feeling perfectly, hehehe XD
Children are terrifying little creatures, aren’t they. But eh, we love ’em. (I forget if you’ve read A Thousand Perfect Notes? Because, after I wrote this, I realized that Meg is definitely giving off Joey vibes…)
Thank YOU grandma for continuing to provide us with these lovely angst inspiring–er, CREATIVITY inspiring prompts! 🙂
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Joey would DEFINITELY say this, ehehe yes xD Such a stabby little gremlin she was!!
I’m glad you’re enjoying these prompts and their tendency towards producing angst xD (bc I am, as always, enjoying these delicious little bites. of angst. xD)
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I have a great fondness for stabby little gremlin children ❤
As long as you continue providing prompts, I will continue teaching the children to bake angst cookies for grandma 😉
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