Tribulation Trio

     To Chase or Not to Chase
     Coco twitched impatiently. She had been crouched beneath the rose bush for what seemed the longest time, eyes intently focused on the bird feeder across the yard. She could feel the pressure mounting, calling her back to the well-hidden nest of squirming new-born kittens. But, the rumble in her belly kept her glued to her post.
     A slight flutter in the periphery of her vision alerted her. The time was fast approaching. She hoped she would be able to spring across the lawn with the grace and speed she had known before her belly swelled. The changes that came with being a mother perplexed her from time to time, and she was still struggling to find her balance and stamina. She wasn’t sure it would actually return to what she had known, in which case she hoped to find just enough in reserve to ensure a good meal for her and consequently, a reasonable flow of milk for the babies.
     The sparrow fluttered anxiously above the feeder before gently lighting on the raised lip. With a happy cheep, sunshine burnishing the browns and grays into a brighter mixture the sparrow began to peck at the variety of seeds, tossing the less interesting seeds to the side.
     Coco carefully kept the sparrow in her side vision, not looking too fixedly at the sparrow. Eyes could be felt – a wise huntress deflected the weight of attention by keeping the prey slightly out of focus. She cautiously moved forward, paw by stealthy pay, and paused. The sparrow had fluttered slightly up in the air, and then settled back down, but this time into the bird bath below the feeder.
     “Silly humans,” Coco thought. The squirrels loved that bird bath. It made their pillaging of the bird feeder much easier. And sighed as the objects of her thoughts came darting around the corner, playing catch-as-catch can, leaping onto the bird bath and feeder startling the sparrow high into the air. The sparrow landed on an electric line strung far above and scolded the squirrels vigorously.
     Coco eased down flat into the grass and contemplated her chanced of catching a squirrel. She was so hungry and the human had not set out food in the last two days. Faintly, the breeze brought the soft sound of a kitten mewling and with a sigh, Coco headed back towards the crying baby. The chase would wait until another time. But, the wait could not be too much longer. With a leap and a snap, Coco caught a fly and swallowed it wriggling. She had babies to tend to.
The Cookie Quest
     Timmy needed that cookie. And his mother had told him no, not until after lunch. She then added insult to injury by taking the cookie jar and placing it on top of the fridge before walking out of the kitchen and going downstairs to iron and fold laundry.
     Timmy glared at his mother’s retreating back, and then scowled at the Mickey Mouse cookie jar gazing benignly down at him from the top of the fridge. If he didn’t get the cookies, his best friend in the world would never come play in the front yard with him again. Timmy had promised. And in his isolated home, Jem was the only playmate for miles around.
     He and Jem were building a fort under the low-hanging limbs of the old fir tree out by the dirt road. Timmy had never built a fort before. But, Jem had built one with his papa, and had smuggled a saw, hammer and few rusty nails scrounged from the garage. Timmy was supposed to bring the cookies. Jem was waiting – but he wouldn’t wait for long.
     For long was part of the problem. Jem’s family was moving at the end of summer to a far away place and Timmy would never see his friend again. Timmy and Jem wanted to build a hideaway for Jem, so when that day came, Jem could hide and his family would go without him. Then it would be up to Timmy to smuggle food out to his friend – if Timmy couldn’t manage to smuggle a few cookies, Jem wouldn’t be able to stay in the fort they were building.
     Decision firmed. Timmy tip-toed across the kitchen floor and down the hall. He listened intently at the top of the stairs and heard his mother singing at the top of her lungs to Patsy Cline while she ironed and folded.
     “Good,” he thought. “She won’t be able to hear me.”
     Carefully, Timmy moved a chair over to the counter next to the fridge and climbed up, precariously balancing on the edge of the counter to reach the cookie jar. He would not disappoint his friend. He would being Jem the cookies.
A Daughter’s Revenge
    “You always said you hoped I didn’t get to choose your nursing home,” Benita whispered sweetly in her father’s ear, as she pushed the wheelchair up the rickety ramp leading to the private – and affordable – group home.
     “I always said your fear of me choosing your nursing home was the only acknowledgement I’d get from you that perhaps you treated me most unfairly for many, many years, Pappa.”
     There was a thin line of spittle trickling its lonely way down from the corner of the old man’s mouth, which drooped ever so slightly at the corner. His eyes were very alert and darting suspiciously around the porch, as Benita leaned over him to push the doorbell.
     “For every time you told me I was no good, that I was a failure, that I was fat, and ugly or stupid . . . for all the times I cried in despair at ever being able to please you . . . for all the times you mocked me . . . well, let’s just say that this – new home – is still too good for you.”
     Benita fixed a broad smile on her face as the door swung open and a powerful whiff of stale urine and the lonely sound of scrambled voices greeted them.
     “Mrs. Charpentier,” Benita said, “such a pleasure to meet you. My father is so looking forward to being here. He only has one small bag of belongings.” Benita gestured to the duffle bag on her father’s lap.
     Benita leaned down and looked her father directly in his eyes, her eyes glacial and glinting with years of repressed anger and hurt. “I do hope you’ll enjoy your stay.”
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