Last week on Inspiration Monday, they gave us the following prompts:
CANIS EX MACHINA
BLINDSIGHT IS 20/20
Check out the other responses here, or post your own!
The artwork is by Cyril Rolando, otherwise known as AquaSixio, and is called The Magic Path. If you’re ever looking for some inspiration for stories, I highly recommend visiting his work. It’s whimsical and eerie and a little bit Alice in Wonderland.
“You’ll never find it that way!” the slender little man giggled, juggling a quartet of oranges from the crate in front of the grocery store. He was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day.
“Shush!” Maggie hissed, grabbing her little brother by the hand. She was 9, and had been assigned the important task of walking her brother home safely. She took the responsibility to heart.
“Find what?”Jeremy repeated, throwing his weight back to resist the insistent tug on his hand. He was 6, less inclined to avoid a potential adventure than his older sister and entertained by the juggling.
“Not what, it.” The man giggled again and added an apple to his trick.
“No it isn’t!” another cackle, another apple. Mr. Ventura wouldn’t be happy if the man dropped and bruised all that fruit. Maggie wondered why he hadn’t come out of the store to yell at them yet.
Jeremy glowered. He didn’t like this game. Maggie, on the other hand, was intrigued. If she looked at the man out of the corner of her eye, he was dressed in ordinary clothing, and was carefully inspecting an orange. Looking at him dead-on, though, he was a jester, oranges and apples flying through the air and weaving patterns. Her class had been going over the five W’s in writing.
“Where is ‘it’?” she asked.
“What a silly child!” he laughed, “How grand! The Netherdoor is anywhere and everywhere, but only at the end and the beginning.”
“If it’s anywhere, then when is it…” Maggie cast about for a good location for a door. She pointed at the slide in the playground across the street. “There?”
“In a moment. I’d hurry if I were you, and take my advice, it’s best to go back as much as is possible.” He had a cantaloup in the whir of fruit now, though his alternate version was deeply engrossed in rapping his knuckles on the fruit.
“Why are your teeth so sharp?” Jeremy asked.
“Only as sharp as my wit, darling boy!”
“Ok. Let’s go to the Netherdoor,” Jeremy accepted the logic and dismissed it.
“We’re not going anywhere, we’re going home,” Maggie replied, grabbing for her brother’s hand. “Mom said no stopping, go straight home.”
The little boy sprawled on the ground, yanking at her arm. “Noooooooooo,” he moaned. “I want to go through the Netherdooooooooor!”
Jeremy’s method of getting what he wanted in public largely involved making it as difficult as possible for those around him to get things done until they’d agreed with him. He was lying across the full width of the sidewalk, and, from past experience, Maggie knew he’d stay there, even with the threat of being stepped on.
Maggie glared accusingly at the man. He was now juggling a half-dozen oranges and apples, a melon and three pomegranates. Out of the corner of her eye Maggie could see that he was also bagging up a few persimmons, a bag of pomegranates already hung on his arm.
“How are you doing that?” she asked.
“Blindsight is 20/20 in the young, but what would you see out of the other corner?” The man grinned, and Maggie wondered why Jeremy had said his teeth were sharp.
Maggie sighed. “You’re ridiculous.”
“Thank you!” The juggling man grinned in delight; his alter ego checked his watch.
“Get up, Jeremy, we’ll go climb the slide backwards but after that we have to go home.”
“YAY!” Jeremy was on his feet in an instant. Maggie caught him and made him wait for the pedestrian light and all the cars to stop before they crossed to the park.
Maggie let Jeremy climb up on the slide first, and carefully pushed him up with his feet resting on the heels of her shoes and his arms around her legs. The cars rushing past didn’t slow, there was nothing to see – just two children playing some incomprehensible game.
She had to bend forward and push off with her hands as well so that she could keep her balance. All she could see was the scratched up shiny surface of the slide, chipped paint and sprayed tagging. All she could hear was the squeak of the rubber of her shoes as she shuffled backwards, the traffic-sounds having gone quiet. The sudden shift in gravity sent Maggie and Jeremy tumbling backwards, landing in a heap at the bottom of a shiny slide, mirror bright under the bright blue sky.
Jeremy and Maggie exchanged a look of shocked delight, taking in the candy-apple red slide, the skittle-bright gravel under their feet. An elephant wandering past tipped its bowler hat solemnly at them. Above the treeline, a licorice ferris wheel made a slow circle. Without conscious thought, Maggie took her brother’s hand and headed towards the forest.
Faceless cars rushed past the empty park, and the man paid for his groceries and started home. Out of the corner of her eye, a weary woman cutting through the park could have sworn she saw the man capering and juggling. She chalked it up to a long work day and hoped she’d run into her children on the way home. She’d been feeling anxious all day about their walk home alone, and had jumped at the chance to leave work early. It would be nice to reassure herself that everything was fine.