Remember the Safe Word for Safe Fun

This week’s IndieInk Challenge came from Kelly Garriott Wite, who gave me this prompt: I want to build a house of straw. I challenged The Drama Mama with the prompt: If I had’ve listened I wouldn’t be in this position. I also used 3WordWednesday‘s prompts Immobile, Proximity and Retribution, as well as two of yesterday’s InMon – BeKindRewrite prompts Wandering Mind and Safe Word which kind of ended this story that I had no idea where it was off to. Also included are a couple of Oxford Dictionary Words of the Day and Visual Thesaurus words: fray, vendetta and quisling. Chuck Wendig challenged us to use an inexplicable picture, and I threw in an Oscar Wilde quote for good measure: A kiss may ruin a human life. Ok, well, enjoy…

“Lightning never strikes twice,” my mother always told me. She was always ready with a quip flung out from her shirtsleeves. “A kiss may ruin a human life!” Ready with a grand statement or an overarching generalization sprung fresh from her lips, immediately applicable. “Everyone meets the Grim Reaper, whether a king or a street-sweeper.” Ready to pass down the wisdom accumulated through the ages, knowledge forged and battle-hardened through continous proximity to the fray. “Tried and tested” across time in the crucible of vendettas and retributions waged by generations of rebellious sons against over-bearing mothers. “He who hesitates is lost” forever offered alongside “look before you leap.” That “knowledge is power” but “ignorance is bliss.” She would as happily quote Shakespeare as day-time talkshow queens – all had their place in her book of quotations, soundbite after soundbite waiting to be deployed.

I must “want to build a house of straw, ready to tumble over at the slightest touch.” I was getting ready to ” jump headfirst off a bridge, chasing Susie Q.” I had become a mere quisling, kowtowing before the money god we had erected in defiance of her good advice, “not that anyone bloody asked!” I had leapt at the opportunity, to tell you the truth. Leapt at chance to escape this upwardly immobile home. Left with the twin warnings ringing in my ears: “He who sups with the Devil should have a long spoon,” as well as what could have been her motto, “Money is the root of all evil.”

So I left. Walked out on my mother, walked out on her proverbs, minted fresh for each new occasion. Walked into this brave new world laid out before me and into my new life. I had a plan, set in stone, entrenched in my wandering mind, for “he who fails to plan plans to fail.” I could never be rid of her advice, it was as though she stood next to me as I sat, waiting for the M train, waiting to be crammed in alongside my fellow commuters, chasing the mirrored skyline. I had aspirations, I had a dream. There were risks I had to take. But I should have listened more closely. I never found out the safe word.


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4 thoughts on “Remember the Safe Word for Safe Fun

  1. There are so many neat things in here: Quip flung from the shirtsleeves; proximity to the fray; crucible of vendettas. And your last couple of lines – terrific. But my all-time favorite part of this is upwardly immobile home. Love this image, love the hopelessness of it, love the stubbornness of those words.
    And I really do want to build a house of straw. It’s just convincing my husband…(He feels like the mother in this piece).

  2. Ack! My comments just disappeared! Hopefully I’m not double posting:
    Loved this piece. Certain lines really rang out: Flung from the shirtsleeves; crucible of vendettas, proximity to the fray. Loved the last lines. But my absolute favorite is upwardly immobile. I want to print those words out and hang them on my wall. And I do want to build a house of straw. Just need to convince my husband, who feels as the mother in this piece does.

  3. Marian says:

    tippy toe! lemon tree!

  4. Ah! The problem with too many proverbs, is they’re all impersonal, even if they are applicable. It feels more like you’re getting advice from a vending machine than from a human being who loves you. But that her words stay with him – that he can’t escape them – so true.

    A piece both poetic and stuffed with truth. Nice.

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