Day 20 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Start with the line, “Even canned goods go bad eventually.”
Erin: Even canned goods go bad eventually. They turn sour. If you let them in at that point, they will hurt you. I think people are the same. Most of us are produce. Once you buy us you have a short period of time before we go bad. The best people are frozen or canned. Lenard was canned. For so many years of my life he was there for me. He would always be there in an emergency.
I didn’t know his expiration date until it was passed. I think I had been avoiding looking at the passed day. When I opened him up, I knew he was gone. He wouldn’t nurture me anymore, he would make me sick. He would ruin any other food he touched. He already ruined her. She could have him, and they could rot together.
I wasn’t shattered by this realization though. I knew he was human. No one was truly non-perishable. Even the most kind, loyal people were just slowly spoiling. The only way to avoid seeing it was to chew them up and swallow them before you got to see the damage.
Shannon: “Even canned goods go bad eventually,” my dad shook his head.
“No,” I argued. “Hugo can race again. He can win. I know it. I feel it,” I pet my horse’s neck. “We can’t sell him,” I begged.
“You’ve grown attached to him,” my father pitied me. “I told you not to do that. We couldn’t have any horses if we made decisions off of feelings,” he scolded. “Say goodbye now. It will be easier. I’ll be sending him off in the morning,” he advised with an emotionless face.
I started leading Hugo to the stall, but I could read it in his eyes: he needed another lap around the track. He was born to run, and since the first time we raced together I knew I was born to ride him. We were a partnership, one so smooth we had our own language.
I hopped onto his back immediately, since we were both still geared up. I never had to push him to race, and over time I’d learned to let him talk control. He was the best horse we ever had, and my first winner. I cued him to run after a minute of taking in the starting line with him. As the wind was rushing across my face, I held on tight to the reins. If he could run any faster we’d be flying. One bad race, and we were supposed to give this up? My dad was wrong. He slowed down after the first lap, as he was trained to do. “You’re not going anywhere buddy,” I whisper, leaning forward to hug his neck.
This could go many ways. This is what we went with, what would be your story?
“Even canned goods go bad eventually. But drifting, lost in the vast vacuum of space, is not where you would ever hope to learn that lesson,” he thundered as a crack of lightning struck the mighty oak that had stood on the hill for centuries. All twelve of the younger children shrieked and screamed at his lucky timing. Looking up from my reading I eyed him with contempt; he only smirked and took a breath to continue. The roar of thunder sent the children under their blankets crying and shouting in the dim attic.
Sighing I put my book down, getting out of the ancient wooden rocker, and went to calm them. Hushing and shushing I peeked under every blanket and soothed the terrified group. When I had them all huddled quietly I grinned fondly and picked up my book again. Glancing at Jack, the would-be poet, I noticed he hadn’t looked away from the window since he’d lost his audience.
The children’s eye, wide as saucers and glowing like flashlights in the darkness, were trained on me as I carefully lit my oil lamp to read by. Searching for where I’d left off I picked out the next line of script and read aloud in an old, crotchety voice. “’And about you, my pretty, what do you desire above all else?’ asked the old woman. Her hood had slipped down her head to show off the scraggly grey hair of the witch. But this last young girl knew better than to let this old hag know her deepest desire, oh no! She would use her wish to save her friends. Then the witch couldn’t twist her wish like she’d done to the others.”
As I read Jack’s attention had been caught until he was suddenly sitting before me, legs crossed politely, hanging on every word. Picking the story back up I cleared my throat to speak as the young maiden. “’Oh! Well, I’d never really considered myself a wisher. I’ve always simply been content with what I have. But if I had to say something, I’d wish that my friends’ wishes were reversed.’ Sputtering and spitting mad the witch stuck one horribly bent finger out at young maiden, raised one bushy eyebrow and wrinkled her nose.”
All the children were listening with baited breath to the story and it didn’t disappoint. “Poof! Suddenly her friends were all standing before her: no longer married to a stinky green troll, with a full head of curly blonde hair and not buried alive in an avalanche of gold coins. But they weren’t out of the woods yet; the witch was seething before their eyes. Her eyes were popping right out of her skull until Bam!” Just as I uttered the word lightning struck the tree again, another bout of screaming ensued.
After calming the children again, with some small semblance of aid from Jack, I sat back in the rocking chair to finish the story. I found my place and paused for dramatic effect. “The young maiden and her friends were surprised to find that, in a puff of pale smoke, the witch had disappeared. All that was left of her was a pile of sulfur. Together they sighed in relief and headed home without a thing to show for their journey other than their lives.” When I closed the book a short round of applause made its way through the room until another crash of thunder sounded.
This time the thunder was followed shortly by a hailstorm and fierce wind that rattled the shutters downstairs and whistled through the windows. I held Sally and Emma as they whimpered while the rest of the children struggled to keep calm as the storm of the century ripped through the prairie landscape. “Miss?” called Jack, who was back staring out the window. Looking back at me I nodded to him and raised my eyebrows. “Well,” he shuddered, “it’s just that the tree, Miss, the tree is ablaze,” the last word had a tinge of awe to it.
My eyes must’ve blown up to the size of watermelons as all the children scrambled to the window, climbing over eachother for a better view. Swatting them away I watched as the neighbours ran through the enduring hail with a hand-pumped hose and a bucket. The two older boys manned the hose while the father shouted and flailed towards their house; the youngest son was obviously at the pump. Struggling to keep my calm I looked to Jack, “Everyone, Jackie here is gonna give you his best story. Be good.”
For the duration of Jack’s story I kept my eyes on the tree as the men fought the fire. “Now, everyone, this story is about the spaceship known as Golina 287, she was on her maiden voyage when she was pulled away from the intended course and flailed through the crushing darkness of space. The crew was worried about their rations but by the time they were down to eight percent of their stored food it had begun to go bad.” His high voice had them all enthralled with the misadventure of a doomed spacecraft.
Outside the men were struggling with the hose, it appeared to have sprung a leak, and I longed to join them. Suddenly a wave of frustration overcame me at the stupidity of being a woman and I snapped. Grabbing my coat and a pair of my late brother’s breeches I rushed to the trapdoor and yanked it open, the ladder dropping as I stepped down. Above me the door banged shut on the calls of the group.
Once on the main floor I dashed to the bathroom to change into the pants and my nightshirt before sprinting to the front door. But I was blocked by my mother standing, hands on hips, in her cooking outfit in front of the door. She looked me over; in man’s breeches and a thin cotton nightshirt I looked almost like a man save my flowing hair and fair features. Without another word she sighed disdainfully and moved out of the way.
Leaning to pat her awkwardly on the arm I shot out into the hailstorm to help with the firefight. From the attic I could hear the children shouting encouragement at the firefighters. As I arrived at the top of the hill a helicopter flew low overhead, dropping a belly of water on the three strong men, the tree and myself. Drenched to the bone, freezing cold and laughing at our good luck I skipped back to the house to attend to the children light a good girl.
Even canned goods go bad eventually. That’s what they said when the world wasn’t screwed over. I checked each can lined along the shelves of the abandoned shelter. All of them at least fifty to hundred years past their expiry date.
Stepping out of the shallow bunker with my low-cut duster, I don my wide brim hat and continue walking down a lonely street. Clear blue skies and the chirping had brought me to this neighborhood. A miniature desolate paradise.
Breaking into each abandoned home, I find the same disappointing result. My stomach growling painfully. I take a small bite of dried jerky from my pack, idly checking my revolver that hopefully never should use.
As the sun began to set, I arrived at the last house. Bashing down the door, I quickly walked around the first floor before heading up. Stepping into the kitchen upstairs, I open the first cupboard and find of all things freshly tinned foods. I spin around in time to see a frying pad swinging towards me. “Get away from my family!” She yelled.
I swore as I brought my arm up to parry the attack, pain lighting up my arm. I tumble backwards onto my ass, kicking back in surprise. “I’m not here to hurt you!” The mother I assume swung again. I brought up my arm again to protect my head as I was knocked sideways. The crack of bone rattled through my ear as it was pressed against my arm, pain lashing out. “Stop!”
She ceased. Frying pan held above me. “Who are you!?” She screamed.
“Errant.” I say calmly, doing my best to ignore the pain. “I thought this place was abandoned. Let me fix the door up and then I’ll go. You’ll never have to see me again.”
She eyed me carefully. “Fix the door and then get out of here.”
A sling and couple hours later the door was fixed. Walking away, I winced as pain lashed up my arm. I leave a can of pickled beans on the front porch. “Sorry about the trouble ma’am.”
(YAY! ANOTHER ONE!!)
Created to Write:
“Even canned goods go bad eventually.”
Master Ikeda Mikio’s wisdom typically don’t make much sense, but at least August had a general idea of what it could mean most times. He went to his brother for some explanation, but Josh didn’t get it either. He even googled the saying, but there was nothing about sage wisdom; only the fun fact that says they can last up to five years.
The boys has no clue why Master Ikeda would do something like this to them, but August wasn’t going to ask for the meaning; he had a problem with pride.
So he asks Heather. He didn’t mean to, really, he just brought up the saying in conversation.
“Exactly,” Heather says.
August pauses for a second, then looks at her, “Umm… you know what that means?”
Heather shrugs, “Sure, Grandpa has said it a couple times. Grandma, too.”
August stares at her.
Heather looks at him, realizing the odd silent. “What?”
“What… does it… mean?” he asks, a little stressed.
Heather smiles, “In layman’s terms? Opportunities don’t last forever, even ones that seem like they’ll be there for a long time.”
August freezes at the realization, then falls to the floor.
Finn walks in and snickers, “Has August.exe stopped working?”