Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Appearances are Deceptive, by Mary Papas

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”

― Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones

A wide angle view of Dealey Plaza at dawn on the morning henge day (or two days later). The brick building in shadow on the far left is the infamous Texas Schoolbook Depository. President Kennedy was shot on the curved road on the left, almost fifty years ago.

Took a day off work – the COVID-19 vaccination mandate is overwhelming everything – there are so many questions unanswered. It’s been a while since I had my jab and am thinking about a booster, but the FDA Booster Shot decision is putting it into the fog like everything else (I don’t turn 65 for a few months).

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Friday, January 1, 1999 – More than twenty years ago. The kids, at that age, were connoisseurs of fast-food ball-pits – we knew all the ones in a ten-mile radius of our house and most of them along the highways radiating in all directions.

Saturday, January 1, 1999, McDonald’s with Playland

….. House is empty.
Holiday is spent.

I needed to get the kids
some exercise.
Drizzling Wet Warm Fog
No day for outside.
So it’s off to
McDonald’s with Playland.

Nick and Lee are good enough
I can let them go around
on their own.
I can sit and write.
notebook on green laminate.

Lee borrows my pen
to follow the numbers
on a placemat puzzle.
He says he knows
it’ll be a snowman.
he traces the outline
still.

Three
amazingly fat women
sit at the next table, here in the
McDonald’s with Playland
without any children.
So close I can hear them talk.
at least snippets.
Recipes – they are trading
“I get these headaches,” one squawks
“Then I go eat me some chocolate.”
Hmmmmmmmm – the others intone
worshipfully.

Nick and Lee want ice cream
I give them all the cash
I have
and send them to the counter.
They come back with cones
and a single dollar bill
and three pennies.
One so sticky I leave it behind.

A young mother
excites into her cell phone
in Spanish.

A toddler drops her
Orange Drink.
The thin liquid puddle grows
as she stares mute

An older man- a customer
cleans it up.
A teenager- a worker
appears with a mop and bucket.
“Don’t touch that!”
The old man growls.
He rants on about how dirty
the mop water is-
and cleans up the mess
with his own cloth handkerchief.

He must be nuts.
Nobody carries a cloth handkerchief.
Anymore.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Appearances are Deceptive, by Mary Papas

from the Short Story Society and Flash Fiction Society

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