Today was the Staff Orientation at the high school for the entire district and man, it was a long day. When I walked out of my classroom at 5:30PM, the lights in the hallway were literally off. I practically shut the place down. I’m proud of all that I got done today, but it was really unnecessary to be there so late. I wasted some time lollygagging with colleagues, but I managed to work some good karma, helping others shuffle textbooks in and out of their rooms and find their portfolios.
I came home and ran. It felt good; it helped me to work out some of my stress and I had forgotten how good it felt to be sore, to have blisters and to have tangible evidence that you are making a difference. I weigh in on September 16th. The goal is at least five pounds lost. Hopefully, I’ll have good news.
I heard back from my editor. My gallery pages are scheduled to be completed this week. I am so excited!
I’m trying to keep this short and sweet because tomorrow is the first day of school and while I feel prepared, I am confident it will be a restless night.
PROMPT: While digging in a cereal box for the toy surprise, a child makes a grizzly discovery.
PIECE: Mikey had his father teach him how to set the alarm on his wristwatch the night before. Thankfully, Dad didn’t ask too many questions or wonder at Mikey’s sudden interest in the somewhat more complicated features of his watch. Mikey set his alarm for 6:00AM, a whole hour before he had to be up and getting ready for school. He figured that sixty minutes would be more than enough time to slink out of bed, to pad noiselessly in bare feet down the hallway and down the stairs, to creep into the kitchen, to hunch before a low-mounted cabinet and open it slowly so the joint didn’t creak too loudly, to retrieve the new cereal box and the surprise toy within.
He had seen Mom removed the box of cereal from one of the yellow, plastic shopping bags after returning home from the grocery store. He had been irritated by the way she handled it so carelessly, just tossing it into the cabinet, not seeming to care if it tilted and fell against the others. Did Mom not know about the prize inside or the intense satisfaction of being the first to find said prize? Immediately, his eyes flicked to his older brother, Jimmy. Jimmy was currently elbow-deep in a bag of Doritos and Mikey didn’t think he’d seen the cereal box, but he couldn’t be sure. Jimmy was sneaky. Jimmy thought that because he was older, everything was his. Those two inclinations proved to make life difficult for Mikey. But this time, just this one time, he would be hailed the victor.
The alarm clocked beeped at a truly annoying high pitch three times before Mikey slammed down on a small, metal button on the side of the clock face. His eyes shot to Jimmy, who seemed to be asleep. Was he faking? Mikey hypothesized that if Jimmy were feigning slumber, then Jimmy would move when Mikey moved. As soon as Mikey’s feet hit the floor and the board creaked beneath his weight, Jimmy would sit up and demand to know what he was doing. Then again, Jimmy might really be fast asleep and besides, Mikey hadn’t woken up so early for nothing.
He pulled the covers back very, very slowly – inch by inch – so as not to make a sound and so he was able to make his movements as slow as possible. After what seemed like an eternity, Mikey was free of the burdensome covers. Keeping his movements lethargic, he sat up in bed like a zombie from one of the movies he wasn’t allowed to watch but that Jimmy could. Jimmy would tell him all about the gruesome, violent parts and then tease Mikey when he asked for the light to be left on. He didn’t need light now – it would definitely wake Jimmy up. Barely breathing, Mikey twisted his body around, swinging his legs softly against the sheets. Though the mattress creaked as he slid for his feet to touch the floor, Jimmy remained motionless. Mikey said a little prayer and tiptoed across the room, nimbly avoiding the toy cars and playing cards left out from a few nights before. The moonlight that stole in through the window illuminated the landscape just enough for Mikey to make out dangerous shadows.
Once he was out of the bedroom and in the hallway, he could breathe easier. Mikey kept an even pace – to break into a run would be foolish and loud – and took the stairs one at a time, placing his weight as evenly as possible. He was proud for the amount of physical restraint he was displaying, but it completely dissipated when he reached the landing. Jubilation filling his veins, Mikey tore through an archway to his left and slid to a seat before the cabinet, his pajama bottoms navigating easily across the linoleum floor. He wrenched the cabinet open, retrieved the cereal box, and slid a slightly shaking finger beneath the cardboard flap. Eagerly, he slid his finger across the edge of the box – a paper cut be damned – and crudely ripped at the other flap. He never thought he’d be so thankful for cheap glue.
Mikey lifted the plastic bag containing the sugar-coated corn flakes and struggled for a moment or two before the thicker plastic gave way and ripped satisfactorily. His fingers were sweaty and had trouble gripping the edge but once they did – boy; that was all she wrote. Mikey let the plastic bag fall back into the box and he plunged his innocent, little fist inside, feeling around for the prize. His fingers brushed against something that was firmer than corn flakes, and he seized it. He brought it triumphantly out from the box, a few corn flakes falling to the floor.
It was a human toe, bloodied around the end from which it was removed from the body it, until recently, belonged to.
Mikey screamed and screamed and screamed.