I’m trying to expand my literary repertoire beyond blogging and into fiction. Also, there’s this writing blogger who I think is pretty rad and he’s hosting a writing prompt this week. The theme is ‘Irregular Creatures’ (because he’s also pimping a book of short stories he has for sale by the same title). So in a departure from the usual stories about real estate and parenting on this blog, I’m going to take a crack at <1000 words on irregular creatures:
When I limped through the door after work weighted down with kids and gear I was already 95% convinced I was destined to stick my head in the gas oven before dinnertime, and that was even before I saw it. That time of day is always the worst for me. It’s the moment where I’ve already come so far through work and traffic and kid pick-ups and I still have the Mount Everest of mommying duties to climb. I have a five month old and a 4 year old to entertain for two hours while I simultaneously do laundry and make dinner. Two bonus points earned if I can spin 12 plates and write a dissertation on the politics of modern day Russia while I do it. Infinite points deducted if I use Teletubbies, Dora or any other brain-devouring televised activity to aid me (7 points deducted just for considering it).
And of course at that moment of crushing despair over what I still have to accomplish before I can pass out, sleep 6 hours and do it all over again, I am inevitably equally ravenous and about to pee my pants. I usually wage an internal debate about which to do first: get the kids settled with a snack, race to the bathroom or eat crunchy peanut butter directly from the jar with my fingers.
That day, there was no debate because my urge to wet myself had been gradually growing from halfway to preschool and by the time I’d hit the home daycare to pick up child number two I was driving with my seatbelt off and my pants unbuttoned to lessen the pressure on my bladder. I stashed the baby in his carrier by the front door, told the four year old to sit with him a minute and made a mad dash for the closest restroom.
Midway across the living room I saw it and stopped short; my desire to urinate momentarily forgotten. Lying on the floor two feet from the hallway was a creature clearly not of this world. It had many legs like a spider, but it was too fat and the legs were too segmented to be of arachnid origin. It was longish and a sort of translucent color, like a scorpion. We lived in a house plagued by both spiders and scorpions so as I stared at this two-inch long thing my brain tried to fit it into one of those categories. It had to be some kind of a giant insect. It also appeared partially or mostly dead. It was almost ripped in half, making it even more difficult to identify.
Terror and adrenaline took over my brain and I determined it had to be some kind of horrible, sent from hell, mutant hybrid of a spider and a scorpion. It was the only explanation that made sense; a spicorpion. My two most pronounced fears had begun to breed and produce alien spawn whose only mission in life was to slaughter me and my family with their poison bite and/or sting (spiders bite and scorpions sting so who even knew what this creature would do? Maybe it could spray venom three feet across the room even after death). The fact that it had been defeated by something else no longer present didn’t escape my imagination, either. Whatever had maimed this spicorpion could potentially be even more horrible and evil than it, and it was still on the loose!
My brain freshly exploded with new and even more horrible ideas about what this creature could do to not only my children and me, but the population as a whole (maybe it was created in a lab by bio-terrorists!) and my body jumped into survival mode. I dashed into the kitchen and I screamed at my children to stay exactly where they were (unless of course they saw more spicorpions coming out of the walls and moving toward them, then they should run!). I grabbed the heaviest pot I could find and ran back into the room to find the spicorpion exactly where I’d left it. I took a deep breath and tried to gauge how far something like that could jump and whether its injury would prevent it from leaping onto my face and eating my eyeballs if I got any closer. I decided it was worth the risk. I had to save my children and possibly all of Mesa, Arizona from this atrocity. I took a step forward and slammed the pot down over the spicorpion.
I didn’t hear any banging coming from the inside of the pot so I decided the spicorpion was probably nursing its wounds and would strike when I least expected it. I put a laundry basket over the pot. Then I piled as many books as I could find on top of the laundry basket. It seemed somewhat secure at that point.
When my husband walked in the door from work two hours later he found me and the kids holed up in the master bedroom at the farthest point in the house from the spicorpion under the pot, under the laundry basket, under the books. No dinner had been prepared. I had been strong for my children and kept my tears over the fate of our world at the hands of mutant creatures at bay, but it had almost killed me. I was shaking and stammering and just generally failing to hold my shit together.
On his way in the door and back to us my husband had already removed my safeguards (with wanton disregard for all of our lives) and examined the creature. He offered the following explanation:
“So… it was supposed to be a surprise, but I bought you tomato plants for your birthday. I ordered them online off Craig’s List and the guy who sent them to me also had hermit crabs. He threw five of them in for free because I told him I had fish tanks they could live in.”
“What are you talking about? What does this have to do with anything?” I screamed hysterically at him.
“Apparently one of the hermit crabs climbed out of my tank and the cat got him. Poor little guy never had a chance,” he explained apologetically.
“Wait… so it was a crab? Not a… spicorpion?” I tried feverishly to understand.
“A spicorpion? OK, I think maybe you need a break. How about I pour you a glass of wine and call the spa and schedule you a massage?”
“Are there more crabs in our house? You brought spidery sea creatures into our house without telling me? Do you realize my head and my bladder almost exploded? Do you have any idea how messy that would have been to clean up?” I gasped.
“OK… a massage AND a mani/pedi.”
“Tomato plants are a crappy birthday gift. I hate plants. You’re the one who likes to grow things.”
“And a facial.”
OK, that was more than 1000 words. Also? I suck at making things up, so it’s a true story. I still get credit for trying, right?