Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, On the Origin of Species by Lee Thomas

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Trees reflected in a pond, inverted, with Chihuly, Red Reeds

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Sunday, September 6, 1998.

Experience an “Earthquake” Sensation

I’m sitting here typing on my laptop and trying to read a book I checked out from the library: “Endurance – Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing. It’s a non-fiction account of an expedition that tried to reach the South Pole in 1915, only to be caught in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea. It took several years for them to escape the ice and to be rescued. I saw a show about this on cable TV a couple weeks ago, and was fascinated.

I’m glad to find this story. It meets my criteria of enjoying reading about disasters while mollifying my concern over becoming too morbid. I know from the TV show that, despite incredible odds and terrible hardships, everyone survives.

I’m afraid my own challenge and adventure is quite a bit more pedestrian today, like every day. This is the centerpiece of a prized three day weekend, one dominated by a soccer tournament held in Arlington, Texas (A large city, a suburb of the Metroplex, located between Dallas and Fort Worth, about forty miles of city freeway driving from our house in Mesquite).

We played a game at nine o’clock this morning, and have another at one this afternoon. The Wildcats won the early game handily (seven to nothing, five different players, including Nick, scored). The afternoon game will be much more difficult, I doubt we can play with our opponent. This morning I saw them dominate a team we tied yesterday.

The real struggle isn’t with the other team, though (the kids have fun whether they win or lose), it is against the weather. The heat continues at an unbelievable level. Friday was 108 here, a record high for any day in any September. At our house, we haven’t had a drop of rain since early June. Yesterday wasn’t too bad, it was hot, but dry and windy. Today it is calm, hot again and very, very humid.

So between games we brought a bunch of the kids here, to a newish Burger King at Interstate 20 and Great Southwest Parkway, so they can play inside in the cold AC of the playland. The plastic structure towers three stories high, tunnels and slides and padded slopes. It is supported by a cubical scaffold – a lattice of steel pipes covered with bright foam padding held tight with plastic cable ties. Black nylon mesh sides and blue soft floors. Bright colors everywhere, Plexiglas bubble windows smeared with children’s handprints of catsup and hamburger grease. Screams and running, stockinged feet (and for our kids – shin guards), French fries and cold drinks and plastic bags with clever little toys. A blue fabric holder, pockets crammed full of children’s shoes.

There is a sign on the giant structure:

EARTHQUAKE TUNNEL
THE ABOVE PLAY EQUIPMENT IS FREE MOVING SO CHILDREN MAY EXPERIENCE AN “EARTHQUAKE” SENSATION

I’m sitting at a table with my book and my laptop. Next to me is a window to a special room set aside, a little girl is having a party in there; presents, camcorders, the kids all wear gold paper crowns. A parent just brought in a purple bicycle with training wheels and a basket.

Every couple of minutes a child in a red soccer uniform will pass by where I can get at ’em and I’ll repeat my mantra “Stop screaming, watch out for the little kids in there!” Candy and the other parents are all out in the main part of the Burger King (I had typed “restaurant” there, but it didn’t look right), chatting, relying on me to keep some kind of an eye on the kids. They should rest before the next game but I know better than to expect that.

They are playing some sort of tag and hide-and-seek. I hear screams of “Who’s It?” and “I’m on the base!” The noise is incredible. The floor of the room is tile, the walls glass, the plastic tubes amplify the hootn’ and hollerin’. The sound bounces and grows. A high pitched deafening cacophony.

The music of my life.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

On the Origin of Species by Lee Thomas

from New Millennium

Lee Thomas Page

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