Two-Minute Recap

ion-bogdan dumitrescu via Flickr
ion-bogdan dumitrescu via Flickr

Thank you so much to everyone who wrote for—or even just read—our Two-Minute Challenge. It was a great success! Here’s a recap, in case you missed one or two:

It’s been amazing! We’ve had poignant and funny, profound and ridiculous. Next month we’ll do another challenge, so stay tuned. And if you have any suggestions for what that challenge is, let us know!

Two Hairy Minutes

beardby Rachel Rosolina

It is dark when the alarm goes off, and I am smooshed into the pillow. Rising, I can feel myself misshapen from sleep. Not to worry—with a stretch, I look even better than yesterday. I quietly collect the water from face washing and tooth brushing for later. Perhaps I will drip it on a desk, or better yet, I will release it onto the woman’s hair when I am pressed against her during a hug. She loves that.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; it is the first thing people see when they look at me: a little butter blended with the gray, some jam to make me oddly sticky, and of course a nice layering of crumbs. How else would I find my way home if I get lost?

Rather than the normal bike ride, today’s adventure is the car. Fortunately, it’s warm enough to have the windows down, and the breeze feels glorious, tossing me this way and that. I catch a glimpse of myself in the side mirror and am in awe.

When I reach the office, it’s always fun to start with a quick game of what can I hold. Today, the pencil is easy. You can’t even see the paperclips. The pocketknife is a bit more difficult, but I’m wiry and it stays put. The hummus from lunch will help. Sometimes in the afternoon, we have a dance party and film my amazing movement in slow motion. Everyone is impressed.

After a long day at work, it’s nice to sit on the couch and hang out with the cat. I am her favorite cushion. Today, however, because of the beautiful weather, I’m enjoying the sunshine in the backyard. There’s even a mirror set up across from my chair so I can see myself in all my glory.

Wait. What’s that buzzing? That’s not a comb! With each pass, clumps of me fall to the ground like so many dead leaves, and I feel the air against my naked roots.

My splendor has been reduced to stubble.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

The Last Two Minutes

by Tyler Anthony

photo by Circe Denyer
photo by Circe Denyer

The attic floor creaked under Michael’s feet as he came to rest in front of the rusty chest for perhaps the hundredth time. It had been ten years since his grandfather had first taken him up here, five years since he passed away, and only two since Michael opened the first chest.

Five identical chests sat misplaced across the attic, clean in comparison to the thick layer of dust that had sunken into years of forgotten clutter.

As a boy of six, Michael had been ready to believe whatever his grandfather said. With a deep draw in his voice and constant twinkle in his eye, Papa could tell you the sky was red and you’d want to believe him.

“These chests have been in our family for five generations, boy. My grandfather’s grandfather’s grandmother was a wise, powerful woman. With her dying breaths she blessed our family, putting protection over all of us for generations to come.”

Michelle smiled in spite of himself. Papa hadn’t known what to do with a grandson, but he did love telling stories. He insisted on taking Michael up to the attic every time he visited even after he got sick.

“She placed her spirit in these chests, Michael. Her protection lives on to this day. As long as these chests stay closed, she is with us.”

Sheepishly, Michael glanced at the four opened chests remembering his last visit. Out of sadness or anger, he couldn’t tell, he had climbed the attic ladder and cracked open every one. All except the last.

Now here he was, up in the attic again, avoiding the sad relatives down stairs all dressed in black. This would probably be his last visit.

His mom’s voice jerked him back.

“Michael! It’s time to go, sweetie!”

Wiping the dampness from his eyes, he took his bike lock from his pocket. Fastening it on the cold metal, he checked twice to make sure it was secure. With that he patted the chest one last time and began his climb down.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

Two Minutes of Water Works

by Max Patch

urinalPale and cold, he curled up against the tile wall as he began to fall back into a deep sadness that he was much too familiar with. Feeling as if he had been discarded like a damp paper towel, he was once again alone. I am so unloved, thought the lonely urinal to himself.

Wishing he could experience the sacredness of human contact, he thought back to stories that his uncle had told him. Stories of days long passed, when people were required to touch the urinals before greeting the sink. He wasn’t sure if he could believe his uncle’s old tales. He wished that he could go back in time, back to the factory to ask him more questions about it. But the answers wouldn’t matter. The past doesn’t change the present.

The lonely urinal watched with sadness as yet another human visited the toilet. Why? he thought, Why do I not get my own private room? Was I not created for the same purpose?

He heard the human giggle behind the stall walls, undoubtedly watching a video of a piñata accident at a tiny human’s birthday gathering. He wished he could see the video. Why? thought the lonely urinal, Why do people leave me so quickly, but stay so long with the toilet? If I were the toilet, I would never be sad.

Suddenly, someone came in the door! They walked toward the lonely urinal! Then . . . passed the urinal . . . toward the stall. But after realizing that another human was behind the door, the human turned back to the lonely urinal, hesitated . . . and spat right in him. He tried to hold back the emotions, but as the human turned away he couldn’t help but cry, “I would do anything to be the toilet!”

The loud response reverberated off the walls.

“You wouldn’t feel that way if you really knew,” said the toilet, as he swallowed his 15th piece of feces that day.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

Two Minutes of Making Memories

By Ali Cummins

Snapshots. I have a million of them. Each month, a new load of images to be removed from my phone alone. Time capsules of moments that will never happen again moved to an imagery cloud for safekeeping. It’s a funny thing to trust such a black hole with these treasures that, if lost, could never be replaced.young-1192582__180

In my time as a mother, I spend so much of it watching. From the kitchen, from the window, from down the hall. Watching for safety, for the chore to be completed, for those special moments to photograph. As Mother’s Day comes and goes, I find myself at the window watching again. This time only watching the moments.

Freshly entering her third year, the youngest grabs her new T-Rex, threatening her sister with its sharp teeth. Her sister ignores her at first, her eyes fixated on the new toy at the bottom of the water table. She makes a swift move for it. Not swift enough. Her sister’s eyes had been on it as well. The youngest knocks her hand out of the path of the toy while simultaneously beating her hand on her chest. Mine, she proclaims. And rightly so. She had just received it as a gift the day before. If I were out there, I think to myself, I’d either have to take it away or award it to someone who wasn’t behaving very sisterly. I smile, glad that I don’t have to make such decisions right now. This time is for watching.

For them, the time is also for watching. Watching for the other’s next move. They stare at each other, intent on not letting the other receive this valuable prize. Then, in a roar of thunder, the dog races by, hunting something that only she sees. She knocks the water table just enough to cause a giant wave that sends the new toy spilling out of the side. The girls stop. They look back at each other. Each of their mouths turns upward until the excitement of what just happened cannot be contained. No other noise can be heard over the squeals of delight.

Not every moment is worthy of a snapshot, the sacred snapshots of those special moments that I will never get back but plan to visit often. Some moments are much more ordinary. This moment was ordinary, and from it I take only a feeling. My memories of motherhood are made up of these feelings. Watching from the window, I have no idea how I got so lucky.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

Two-Minute Inner Monologue

by Anonymous

by Johannes Martin via Flickr
by Johannes Martin via Flickr

He never touched you in a bad way. Just hugs and an arm around your shoulder and kisses on top of your head. Not in a bad way. He did say he loved you, but you repeated it back. It was the polite thing to do.

You see him enter the sanctuary and feel your face flush.

Yes he was your professor, but you should have known better than to write that letter. It was your fault. Though you were trying to thank him for his guidance, he saw it as an invitation to be friends who discussed poetry and art. You liked that, remember? The way he would seek out your opinions? Then you were his confidant, always available. His reality wins. You should know this by now.

Your friends adored him. They still do. They’d be so pleased to see him here.

He would drop by at odd times. “My wife thinks I’m out for milk, but just sit in the car and hear this mass.” “If only we’d been born in the same generation.” “Did you tell anyone you were meeting me?”

You weren’t clear enough when you told him this made you uncomfortable. He cried and you stopped trying. Even when you moved away and visited friends secretly, he knew.

He would text at odd times. “Do you believe in soul mates?” “Where are you?” “Are you ignoring me?”

He’s in your pew, shaking hands with your parents, hugging your brother. He hasn’t spotted you yet.

It’s been a decade of this hiding. It’s been nearly seven years since your second letter telling him he no longer exists to you, that you were reclaiming your past and your present and your place in the world. So why is your pulse quickening?

He’s walking away. Don’t you dare cry.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

Friday Fun Facts #15

chipotle2A big thanks to all of you who are participating in the Two-Minute Challenge this week. So far, we’ve had:

It’s been amazing, and we’ll be back with more next week. If you still haven’t written one, send it in and we’ll post it! 

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Rachel wrote her first book when she was five. It was about a girl named Amy and a horse, you guessed it, named Amy. There were illustrations that included fences and Easter eggs, and it only appeared as a hardcover edition—the exterior covered in floral wallpaper to match Rachel’s room.

Lesley submitted her first proposal for publication when she was twelve. It was a tragic story about an arranged marriage that featured crying, desire, snot, and suffocation.

Happy Friday, everyone!


Two Minutes of May

by Elisabeth Abrams

nature-summer-sun-leafWhen the roses are in bloom, I hope to feel differently. Seeing the white outside, a few feet away, near the big window, the edges browning like singed paper. It’s May but feels like October. So many months of my agony have settled into plain despair about her.

I’ve been wondering what’s wrong with her. Why she stares or walks off in public, why she doesn’t listen or doesn’t want to, why she asks questions to clarify and then never hears the answer. Is she only distracted? Is this a way to cope, to focus on a detail to avoid the bigger picture? Why has she changed so much in such little time?

I study these new flowers for some sort of message. I wish for the gentler woman who would cover me with a faded felt blanket, my feet at the end of the couch, book in my little hands, when we were years away from her labored breathing, her confusion, her decline. Her unending sadness, her welter of fatigue. Her unnecessary loneliness—and because of hers, mine.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

Two Minutes of Morning Mom

By Lesley Bolton

Eyes roam the kitchen through slits. There is something very important in here, something magical. But what is it? Daughter’s voice cuts through the gray: “Mom, I can’t find my shoes!”

I sigh and raise an imaginary mug to my lips. Coffee! My love, how could I forget you?love-beans-caffeine-coffee-medium

I scan the kitchen again, this time with purpose. My shoulders slump as my brain fails to recognize a mug anywhere. I get the half-and-half out of the refrigerator since I’m standing next to it. Efficiency.

“Daughter, where is my coffee?” I must have set it down somewhere.

“Where are my shoes?”

Right, the shoes. Why is there a banana peel on the stairs?

“Daughter, throw away the banana peel.” Are bananas safe for dogs? Note: Google that.

“What banana peel? I’m trying to find my shoes.”

Sigh. I pick up the banana peel, head back to the kitchen, and throw it in the compost pail. Now, what was I doing?

“Mooooom! Can I just go to school without shoes? Besides, I’m a Gila monster, and they don’t wear shoes.”

Right, the shoes. “Did you look in your room?”

“I’m in my room.”

That doesn’t mean you looked.

What is that smell? The compost pail sits on the counter sans lid. It is full. I pick it up and move toward the door. I kick Daughter’s shoes out of the way and spot the half-and-half on the stairs. The shoes!

“Daughter, your shoes are down here!”

“Oh! So that’s where I left them.”

Daughter bounds down the stairs and trips over half-and-half. Lunging to catch her, I fall and fail. She falls and hits her knee, hard. Tears.

Half-and-half seeps into the carpet on the stairs. The dog has her head in the compost pail.

I pull the coffee pot out with the familiar and comforting clunk of glass against plastic. Something’s different though, a flaw in the routine. I look from the pot in my hand to the empty outlet and sigh. Defeated. There’s always tomorrow.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

Two Minutes in Toronto

by Sarah Payne-Mills

Bay Street in Toronto, via Flickr
Bay Street in Toronto, via Wikipedia

Most days like today, I wait in the leafless tree of the hotel parking lot, watching the businesspeople start the hustle and bustle of their day. I bide my time, darting behind a stray branch to remain out of sight. They’re always too tired or too busy on their cell phones to notice me. The sun is barely peeking over horizon. The air is cold and crisp, but not as biting as most December mornings. The thick sweater of fat and fur I’ve formed this winter keeps me warm.

Finally I hear what I’ve been waiting for: the clack of dress shoes on pavement, the rustle of a fast-food bag, and the thump of unknown leftovers hitting the bottom of the Dumpster. My body is jittery with excitement as I dash down the tree and bound across the parking lot. I leap into the dark depths of the receptacle to forage for whatever was deposited. Grasping the bag in my paws, I spring out onto the concrete to feast. I dive in headfirst, my bushy tail dancing with delight in the cool breeze. My claws extend to get a firm grip, and then I have it. The colorful specks of sugar crunch as I bite into them. The velvety chocolate coats my tongue with sweetness. The fried circle of dough is my favorite breakfast.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)