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Mini Sledgehammer August 2016

Melinda McCamant has been promising to return for a Mini Sledge for four years, and this was the month. Not only that, but she won it too! Great to see you again, Melinda, and congratulations.

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Prompts:
Character: A reluctant volunteer
Action: Signing a contract
Setting: A housing development
Phrase: You’re not from around here, are you?

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Baltic Avenue

by Melinda McCamant Melinda

Just a pretty girl from Baltic Avenue: I was awed, intimidated even, by his swagger, the way his teeth glittered when he talked, his bright hotels on Boardwalk.

“You’re not from around here are you?” He whispered in my ear and I could feel the heat of his breath penetrate my brain, the bulge of brightly colored bills in his hand, a rainbow of promises.

And so I rolled the dice and we moved on, a jalopy and a top hat travelling the same path but seeing different sights.

He gambled, built hotel after hotel on credit and lies, not just Boardwalk but the railroads— even the lights and the water were his.

He had everything but Baltic Avenue. Baltic Avenue, a shadowy street lined with tiny green houses, was mine. Every time he came back around he came back to Baltic Avenue, wooing me, promising the Atlantic’s waves, promising a moon plucked and pitted from the sky.

I was tired and his light was so bright, but the moment I signed, the moment I said ‘I do’, I knew I was just another pawn—a player in his game of rainbow money and plastic hotels.

But I still had Baltic Avenue, the scent of earth in our garden after a rain, the rumble of trains in a distant rail yard, the red bite of fruit, and my mother’s kisses before she died.

It’s a funny thing to get what you think you want: the last piece of cake, a diamond, a rich man, and realize that the getting was the good part, that the journey around the board was what made the game worthwhile. Not the houses, or hotels, or rainbow money. And not the glittery man who blows hot air but deflates at a touch and cannot read anything but his own name.

I was his dutiful wife; his get out of jail free card, his reluctant volunteer hostess, his volunteer whore.

At least I still have Baltic Avenue and one more roll of the dice.

©  2016 Melinda McCamant

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Melinda McCamant: reader, writer, photographer, recipe developer, food stylist. Sometimes there is  travel, trails, friends, and wine.
www.melindamccamant.com
www.recipefiction.com

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“Two in the Hand” by Melinda McCamant

Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

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Two in the Hand

by Melinda McCamant

The common house sparrow isn’t flashy but it is prolific and inquisitive. Like most birds they mate for life. Like people they flock to cities. I like the possibility of birds, that if I understood their song I could learn their secrets.

A couple of sparrows used to come to my open window every morning to snack on the seeds I scattered there—so small and delicate, like children. As I sipped my coffee I watched them snatch up sunflower seeds with their beaks and toss the shells into the tangle of flowers two stories below. Once I gained their trust they would come inside, hop onto my kitchen table and cock their heads in cautious greeting. They were my conscience and my companions, my Jiminy Crickets that probably ate crickets. It’s too bad I had to kill them.

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Mini Sledgehammer August 2012: Blackbird Wine & Atomic Cheese

We had such a fun time at this Mini Sledgehammer! Five participants, four of whom had never before been to a Mini Sledgehammer (and the fifth had only been to one other), and since we all arrived early, we got to talk and laugh before settling down to “work.”

Prompts:

Character: The man with the glint or reflection in his sunglasses

Setting: A doorway

Action: Scabbing over

Prop: Something that has been placed where it should not have been placed

Congratulations, Melinda, on your winning story!

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Untitled

by Melinda McCamant

Christopher told me he placed the dream catcher in the doorway to snare me if I ever tried to leave. He said this over cinnamon pancakes and the scent, something like my old blue baby blanket and a sunset, made me think that I was never going anywhere. I dug in, sweet syrup and butter coating my tongue. Oh yes.

Then I found the panties—no, panties is too kind. Then I found the crusty thong in the glove box of Christopher’s car. They were black and bedazzled, the sort of thong a stripper sheds for her last hurrah.

“Did you find the registration?”

We had been pulled over—sixty miles an hour in a thirty—and Christopher’s voice had a hard edge to it. My fingers started to go numb as I held the panties in one hand and the car’s registration in my other. I could see my lost expression and the pulsing red and white in the police officer’s sunglasses.

“Registration?” It was the cop this time, only his voice seemed kinder than Christopher’s—but maybe that was just me seeing me in the mirror lens.

I dropped the panties in Christopher’s lap and let the registration fall on top of them.

The cop and I stared at Christopher’s lap.

“Those aren’t mine,” I said, and Christopher chuckled as he handed over the registration.

I was holding it together until he laughed. The car smelled like the stale thong and cow hide. As soon as we were alone, I started to cry. Silly scratchy uncontrolled sobs.

Christopher picked the panties out of his lap. “I don’t have any idea how those got here.” He dropped the thong into the backseat. I looked into the rearview mirror and saw the cop open his door, walking slowly back towards the car. I covered my mouth, tried to quiet down. “You’re overreacting,” Christopher said and turned his attention to the officer.

I thought of the dream catcher, how it hung a little too far low and how I whacked my head on it every time I left the apartment. I thought of each small knot holding me in place and how I wasn’t a dream to be caught but a girl with no dreams beyond sweet syrup and heated leather seats. I felt my tears dry, scab over, fall off my cheeks. And as the officer handed Christopher his ticket, I opened my door and stepped out into the crisp afternoon.

“Alright, ma’am?” the cop asked.

The air was cool but the sun though low on the horizon still felt warm on my back and shoulders.

“I’m fine, thank you. I think I’ll walk from here.”

I looked across the top of the car and once again saw my reflection in the cop’s glasses. Only this time my hair was lit up from behind and seemed to glow like a moth escaping a flame. I smiled and the cop smiled back and I heard the click of the automatic lock as Christopher started his engine and slowly pulled back into traffic.

(c) 2012 Melinda McCamant

Melinda McCamant writes about food and drink both for her own blog and for other more reputable and consistent sites on the internet. When not baking or contemplating what to make next, Melinda is either talking to the cat or hard at work on her first novel. You can find her pictures and writing here or on Facebook.