Monday, January 30, 2012

Three Minutes with a Broken Mirror

Normanday #13: Reflections on bad luck

Write for three minutes about…

…what happened after you broke that mirror…

Email what you wrote to woof at bright dot net by the end of the day February 5 (put “Norman is Sensible” in the subject line). I’ll post as many of my favorite entries as I want next Monday. Include your first name (or, even better, use a pen name) and age (unless you’re tortoise-old). If you’re a published writer, include a biography to be posted with your entry.

Here are the entries from last week when I asked you to write for three minutes about anything as long as you used these three words…


Bicycle Chick

I have two names: Parts Girl and Bicycle Chick. Those aviation types in the next building over (which happens to be the Air Station) gave me both names. And probably behind my back they sometimes add some not-nice-words to the front of those names. But they have to be nice to me because I supply all the parts that make it possible for their flying machines to defy gravity. They call me Bicycle Chick the most, because that’s what I do: ride a bicycle to and from the base.

I love my job, most of the time. I have mastered three forklifts and memorized the locations of the majority of parts in that vast three-acre warehouse. I still smile sometimes when I whip around in a tight space to maneuver a part off or on the shelves, remembering how terrified I was when I first trained on the forklifts. I was sure I’d get myself or someone else killed or maimed, not to mention the parts I imagined damaging. Now I was a pro.

If only I could master a recipe. At the end of the day, I come home to my lackluster cooking experiments. It’s hard to be motivated when you’re cooking for one. But at least you don’t have to worry about offending someone else’s taste buds. Looking at the parsnip in my hand, which looks like an anemic carrot, I hope it tastes better than it looks. I couldn’t even form a mental image of this vegetable before I came to the South, now I’m uneasily cooking with it. What will it taste like? Probably dirt, by the time I get done with it. Cooking and I aren’t on easy terms. Julia Child I am not.

That’s okay. I’d rather be Bicycle Chick.


My sister bet me I couldn’t figure out how many pennies were in her penny jar. She bet me a whole can of soda, but since I am not allowed to have soda (and she knows it!), I changed the terms. If I am close, she has to do my daily chore of emptying the dishwasher. If I lose, I have to fold and put away the laundry. (Her daily chore.) I looked at her penny jar. I had no idea. It was a quart mason jar about halfway full. Mom had used it to can green beans last summer and when we ate the last of them, she gave the jar to my sister to put pennies in. She has been collecting pennies since October, when someone gave her one for Halloween. (Really, who gives out pennies anymore?) It’s almost February now. So…um…that means? I have no idea. Maybe I should look it up online.

I asked Dad if I could borrow his laptop.

“What are you doing?” Penny asked, hands on hip.

“Calculating your penny jar using computer algorithms.” I answered, smugly. (Really, though, I had no idea. I was just going to search how many pennies a mason jar could hold and divide it in half.)

“Algorithms? That’s like using a forklift to pick parsnip. Can’t you just guess like a normal person?” She scoffed.

“Go away. I am doing research.” I type the question into the search bar and an answer came up right away. 532 pennies. Is there nothing the internet doesn’t know? And there are pages and page debating things like this. Weird.

“I’m telling Mom you are cheating! Mom! MOOOOMMMMMMMM!”

“I’m not cheating. We didn’t have any parameters. You didn’t say I can’t use the computer.”

“Oh! ‘Algorithms’. 'Parameters'. You think you are so smart. So, how many, then?”

“266.” I said.

She was quiet. I waited.

“Well?” I asked, impatiently.

“Well, I don’t know, do I? I never counted.”

“Then why did you ask me?” I was so frustrated. I ran to her room to grab her penny jar. She ran behind me, yelling, grabbing at my shirt. I picked it up, opened the window, and dropped it. Cold air beat at my face as I watched gravity do its work and smash the penny jar. “Ha!” I said, maliciously. "Go count them now."

“Mommmmmmm!” She cried, as she ran out of the room.

I don’t know why I did it. What I do know if that pennies are hard to pick up off a half-frozen driveway with gloves on. And that my sister sure can scream. She must get it from my mother. As I crouched on the cold concrete, snow blowing around me, all I wanted was forklift and a hot cup of cocoa.

Richard Skylar

Vivian dipped her hand into the rich dark soil. A moment later, along with Vivian’s hand, a parsnip emerged. The parsnip was no ordinary parsnip. It was from elsewhere. It had been suddenly procured via forklift in a fit of gravitational strangeness. Gravity. That’s where it came from. It could only have been acquired via forklift. Via a forklift which cannot function outside of a normal (i.e. Earth-like) gravitational pull; that is insofar as the parsnip’s origin is largely unknown. It likely came from Earth. But what sort of parsnip would require a forklift in Earthlike gravity? A heavy one. Vivian’s seemingly effortless plucking it from the ground can only mean one of two things: a.) Vivian is super mega strong or b.) the gravity which at present exerts its pull on both Vivian and the parsnip is super mega weak. Or some combination of the two, the numerous possibilities no doubt of which can only be extrapolated via gravitational forklift.

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