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The following story is an entry for this month's Blogging for Books, as always graciously hosted by the Zero Boss.

"We like to think of ourselves as nice people. Yet even the nicest person can engage in cruel, vindictive, or just plain mean behavior.

For this Blogging for Books, write about the meanest thing you have ever done - either to another person or to yourself. (Topic idea credit: Jenorama)"

On that particular day, the meaning of proverbs and the concept of consequences weren't even in the outer reaches of our minds.

Hunched over, we were both all-engrossed in the task at hand. The scorched grass crunched under our careful feet as we slowly circled the tree. We were on a mission to pick out a suitable weapon.

The late afternoon African sun still had enough strength left to give us a thorough lashing. Punishment before the crime.

My skin wept and the salty, watery beads fell to the thirsty earth as a peace offering. Please forgive me for what I’m about to do.

Already the guilt was starting to well up, but Guilt’s warning, nagging voice (sounding remarkably but irritatingly like my mother’s) was no match against the loud, thrill-seeking Devil, who by then had already firmly rooted himself to my shoulder.

I could almost see his black forked-tongue darting in and out of his grimacing mouth as he lisped the evil plan directly into that area of my brain in charge of operations, even for a while allowing me to believe that I had hatched a brilliant, original plan all by myself. (He must’ve known that I’m not the most logical and logistical type, and that I would need all the help I could get.) “Thith ith what you should do,” he hissed and egged me on. “And thith ith how you should do it.”

Yes, alas, if all else fails, blame Satan.

My partner in crime was most certainly not to blame, even though she participated enthusiastically.

After I had translated the Devil’s plan into spoken words, Melissa and I continued to plot and scheme like a pair of ruthless army generals. After all, we were planning a vicious attack!

Before we set out to find a suitable weapon, we had to pick a target. Shamefully, it didn’t take us very long to choose! Only after those things had been decided were we able to pick our one-sided battleground: the spot where we were to set up our boobie trap.

The ancient and indigenous pendoring boom (thorn tree) at the edge of the parched mid-drought yard (where skeletal trees and dried shrubs were the only evidence that a lush garden had once existed there) faithfully and regularly shed its long, white and wickedly sharp fang-like thorns to the ground. Those discarded thorns covering the shriveled up lawn became the arsenal for our primitive attack, and Melissa and I gingerly tip-toed through the inhospitable terrain on our bare feet as we searched for our perfect weapon.

Our arsenal was fully stocked, so it didn’t take us very long to find The One: it was about an inch long. One quick yet gentle prick to my finger immediately created a drop of blood, proving that we had picked a sharp bugger.

As fast as we were in picking the ideal thorn, we were even faster in selecting our victim: Mia.

Mia, the preacher’s daughter with her open, friendly face, her dimpled yet shy smile and her page-boy haircut. We honestly had nothing against her! In fact, she was a few years younger than us, so we didn’t even know her all that well! She merely became our ideal target because of geography.

You see, the church rectory where Mia lived with her parents was situated right across the dusty lane (I grew up in a small South African town where the majority of our streets were narrow dirt roads) from the school’s sports field. So since her first day of school, instead of walking all the way around the block to the front gate of the school yard to get to school, Mia simply crawled through an opening in the fence and took a shortcut across the sports field, down a few concrete steps and voila, she was at school. And in summer, Mia, like the rest of us, always came to school barefoot.

It was on those concrete steps that led from the sports field to the school building where we laid out our trap. It was easy enough. The school yard was deserted and no one was around to become suspicious. So we erected the thorn, securing it into its most lethal position (sharp side up) by placing a few strategic pebbles and small jagged rocks around it. We admired our handiwork and, since the voice of Guilt had by that time already been drowned out by the adrenalin rush we got from doing something that was so downright WRONG, we laughed like hyenas.

I don’t think our ten-year old selves ever stopped to consider the possible consequences of our heinous deed. We certainly never paused to imagine how the fleshy sole of her foot would be impaled by the thorn as she came darting down the steps the following morning, or the pain she would feel… To us, it was nothing but a naughty stunt, and we were already bored and ready to move on to the next game.

I’m sure Mia’s parents had never imagined their center-of-town location to be anything less than ideal! But then, even if there had been doubts, how could they possibly have envisioned all the potential dangers of having their little girl living in such close proximity to her own elementary school? I mean, until that fateful afternoon, when Melissa and I both stayed on after school for our music lessons, neither of us had ever given Mia or her unique path to our school a second thought! So as I write this, I can’t even launch the lame defense that our horrible attack on the innocent Mia stemmed from a long-festering envy of her shortcut; that our simmering jealousy finally erupted that afternoon and boiled over.

As it turned out, we thankfully never had to try and explain or defend ourselves.

After setting up the thorn, we had some more time to kill until our lessons, so we went up to the sports field to race each other and play tag. We ran and played with abandon, our earlier act of terror already fading into a distant memory.

We played until our music teacher came calling for us. Still chasing each other, we ran, Melissa in the front (she was always faster). I sprinted after her. She was already half-way down the stairs.

Desperate to catch up, I leapt.

I landed two steps down. And straight into my own forgotten trap.

The thorn impaled my fleshy sole. The pain was unbelievable.

The doctor had to cut it out.

Even at ten years old I knew that such karmic punishment served me right.

Luckily, that was the only punishment I ever received regarding that deed, because Melissa and I made a silent pact not to tell, and no one else ever had a reason to suspect that it was anything more than an unfortunate accident. Neither one of us ever spoke about it.

The closest we ever came to referring to it without actually saying anything, happened a few months later, when our teacher taught us an old proverb, the meaning of which boils down to this: If you set a trap, beware, because you’re bound to get caught in it yourself.

At which both Melissa and I just started giggling uncontrollably.

13 Comments

Tig said:

ouch! That was a very painful story, but a pleasant read.

deeleea said:

Nicely done Red,

A good read and what an ending!!

Fatima said:

EINA!!!

Or..another saying....
"What goes around, comes around...."

Christin said:

That was a GREAT story. God, that msut of hurt frickin' horribly!!!

Sweety said:

Heheheh :)) Wie een kuil graaft voor een ander.... Great story, thanks for sharing!

Goldie said:

Ouch! Good story. Very educational and well written. You had me biting my nails, wondering what was going to happen!

Red Dahling,
Where are you? Why have you abandoned us? Did you get a pink & green card, and decided to leave us? Please come back.

deeleea said:

Congrats on the top 7 spot!!!

sp00kalot said:

OW and Oh NO! Nasty thorns. There's too many old sayings about reaping what you sew, just pick one and it will apply. Karma is the big one you gotta watch out for. Don't worry, I'm doomed too. Good luck in B4B!

Tim Pintsch said:

A very good story, best of luck in the finals.

Charity Triplett said:

Wow, how fitting yet painful too. Guess that'll teach ya both huh? Thanks for sharing.

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about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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comments
  • Charity Triplett : Wow, how fitting yet painful too. Guess that'll teach ya both huh? Thanks for sharing.... [go]
  • Tim Pintsch : A very good story, best of luck in the finals.... [go]
  • sp00kalot : OW and Oh NO! Nasty thorns. There's too many old sayings about reaping what you sew, just pick one ... [go]
  • deeleea : Congrats on the top 7 spot!!!... [go]
  • Bookstore Diva : Red Dahling, Where are you? Why have you abandoned us? Did you get a pink & green card, and decided ... [go]
  • Goldie : Ouch! Good story. Very educational and well written. You had me biting my nails, wondering what was ... [go]
  • Sweety : Heheheh :)) Wie een kuil graaft voor een ander.... Great story, thanks for sharing!... [go]
  • Christin : That was a GREAT story. God, that msut of hurt frickin' horribly!!!... [go]
  • Fatima : EINA!!! Or..another saying.... "What goes around, comes around...."... [go]
  • deeleea : Nicely done Red, A good read and what an ending!!... [go]
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