fredless: (Default)
Fred sat on the gymnasium risers, a coltish jumble of ten-year-old arms and legs and neck, each part of her content to growing with its own speed and agenda. Nothing seemed to fit quite right, she might've been a paper doll accidentally crumpled. It hadn't occurred to her yet to mind.

Sure, the boys that her Daddy coached in the local P.A.L. league weren't looking her way, but she wasn't exactly looking their way either. In fact Fred was more than happy to let her box of peanut M & Ms keep her company in the in-between times from when her dad looked her way, and she performed her very daughterly duty of a big smile and wave.

One time she forgot the box was in her hands, and a bunch of her candy escaped mid-wave -- two green ones and one light brown - cut through the air on their unexpected journey. And all Fred could think was that the arc they made? Was really, wonderfully pretty.

They cracked and clattered their way back down to earth, earth in the way of little girls and the risers they sat on. There they teetered, visibly, before slipping though the cracks between and finally falling out of sight. Fred imagined the sounds they made on their journey to be both distinct and specific, even if she supposed they logically couldn't be heard over the clamoring of the game. But she heard them all the same.

Horton heard a Who?

Well Fred heard an M.

And a M.

And then another M.


Two green ones, and one brown.

She stretched out full length on the risers then, the warm part from where she'd been sitting resting just underneath her stomach. The rest of it was alternatingly worn, and less warm, because there really wasn't a lot of cold in Texas. But all of it mostly rough, the fibers of the wood prickly and familiar against her skin. Very litte of the original waxy finish remained, but the patches that did seemed to sparkle by default. If only in comparison.


The air underneath seemed to smell different, less sweat and more stale. Even though Fred knew it hadn't been below. Not that long, not really. Tiny sounds echoed back where her ear was pressed against the grain. The sounds of basketballs on the floor, and the whistles of the lone referee. The various creaks and moans as other people watching moved and shifted and clapped.

Fred wasn't worried though, not for all that the wood groaned. They trusted one another too much for that, too many Saturdays keeping each other company. Who else knew every single waxy patch and odd knot hold, and how far one little girl hat to sink down between one step and the next to let her legs dangle with enough reach to actually kick the underside. No one, that's who.

She even knew how they tasted. One experimental lick, and Fred settled on a mixture of popcorn salt, shoe rubber, and some sort of lemony cleaner. That was three weeks back, when daddy lost the day, 27 to 63.


As she peered through the shadows, Fred could see where all three bits of chocolate had landed, forming an askew sort of triangle. She stayed just like she was then, for a good twenty minutes deciding if when the game was over, and the seats shoved back flat against the way, her lost friends would be exposed again, just sitting there on the floor. Two green ones, and one brown.

Or of the would get caught up in the insides and gears and wheels, lost with the .... three gym socks, five paper cups, and some sort of small toy with suction cups. Oh! And one of those little long, sticky hands, the kind that cost a quarter at the grocery store.

She sort of hoped they escape. Fred eyed the dark underbelly of her sort-of-babysitter once more.

Or...

After the game, her smaller hand tucked up inside her father's larger one, they talked about her afternoon as they walked to the car.

"Did you have a good time?"

Fred thought about that for a good minute, her smile screwing up into something half it's normal size in concentration. Finally, and answer.

"Yep."

Her free hand closed tighter about the three objects held there.

Two of them green.

And one brown.

One Wish

Sep. 16th, 2007 03:56 am
fredless: (Out of focus by _ladydisdain)
There's something fanciful about wishes that's always appealed to you, even if the sheer impossibility of so many of them tug at your feet in a daunting, determined fashion. It's the undercurrent of reality. The evitable that you take so much stock in. And in the end, it's what has always lead to that bit of grounded practicality in every wish that is made. There's math and measurement. Thoughts becoming point and counterpoint in the busy world in your head. It's an entire saga of chose your own adventure, because there's another fact to be considered. That you've always known.

You like your wishes just a little bit more when they're granted. When they come true.

*****

Once, there's this weekend. There's a lot of 'once's' in your life now, and an awful lot of weekends too. But this one collides together with the rare weekend your folks decide to get away, to some sort of place or the other. You know where, of course. But it wasn't the where of your wish, and not worth considering in just this moment.

Aunt Ellen's taking care of you, even though you don't think you need takin' care of at all. And you're pretty sure that's where the trouble starts. Words like headstrong and overindulged and really, who let's there child run around and call themselves that? No one here must have the sense left God intended them to have. She calls you Winifred just out've spite, and stares at the patched knee of your jeans as if it's the awfullest bug she's ever seen. And all you can think, as you look at that same patch, is you always liked the colors. How can two people be so different, especially where somewhere? You're supposed to be a little bit the same.

You're tucked in her car then, while she runs in the store for milk and eggs. You're not allowed to go in, that's for sure. For she's not managed to clean you up in any real way. So you're pressed up against the side door of the car, ignoring the whole of the cull seat that stretches all the way over till where she'll be sitting again. There's nothing to break the plane, nothing in between. The glass of the window is hot against your cheeks, and as you draw your knees up into your chest? As you try your best to ignore how different she is and this is and even the days are, all two of them in that lonely and crawling weekend. How stark and empty that car is, so different from Mama's bus, full of kids and laughter, gum and pencils and paper -- all victims of childhood distraction? Ellen's empty car, nothing there except from the cross swinging from the mirror. Nothing else, except the else of you, the hollow, tinny sound of her turn signal echoing in your ears?

You wish you could be anywhere else.

Because yes, you do wish it. But also because you know that it's gonna come true. They'll be home soon, and the rest of home will come with them.



Read more... )

Sunrise

Nov. 17th, 2006 09:14 pm
fredless: (NaturalyPretty)
Texas, 1982

Fred curled up her feet underneath her, chin tucked on knees as she played with various bits of grass and dirt that'd gotten caught up in the cuffs of her jeans. She wasn't cleaning herself exactly, more poking around to see what was there. Finding out what'd decided to come along for the ride.

"...but what if you don't want it to come up? What if you want the sun to stay exactly where it is?"

The second step was peeling, and it was about to become more interesting than her current project, she decided.

"Well I don't know about that Fred." That really didn't surprise her so much. Daddy knew a lot of things. But she also asked a lot of questions. "Besides, I'm pretty darn sure there's some rules about that sort of thing."

Well, that was definitely more interesting than hitchhikers and paint.

"What sort of rules?"

He shrugged, and then he tried.

"About when it comes up. When it goes down." There was some motioning with his hand, sweet tea keeping it company. Fred watched closely, eyes wide. "What it does is the middle."

"The middle?"

There was a shrug. Fred thought he was pretty good at those, especially when Mama got talking sometimes.

"In between, what it does during the day. When we can see it." Roger looked at his daughter closely. "Why wouldn't you want it to come up, anyway?"

It was Fred's turn to copy her father, her shrug a smallish sort of echo of his own, with the addition of her knees bumping into her chin. It still didn't make her move.

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe if it's been a really good night, I guess. Like Christmas, or a birthday, or something you don't want to be over. When the sun comes up the next day, that means it's really over, doesn't it?"

"Maybe," her father considered, passing over the tea and putting the glass in one of her hands. "But the next day could be just as good, and besides. There's just rules."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Los Angeles, March 2003

Fred watched as the black uncurled itself, flooding light and color, and all sorts of other things she didn't even have words for down into the city. It wasn't warm yet, not the way it should be, but there was plenty of heat coming from Lorne's smile. The rest would come soon enough.

"...there's just rules."

And maybe it didn't mean that the day before was really over, or even the weeks full of them before that. She could face that, Fred decided, because there wasn't back porches, and grasshoppers either. They'd gotten this far. There were some things you just couldn't stop, and Fred included her friends on that list.

There were just rules.

If...

Jul. 1st, 2006 12:17 am
fredless: (Figgy by Swtlihann)
Fred curled up deep into the windo wseat, both her, and her shadow an off-kilter collection of legs and arms, knees drawn deep into chests and heads resting just so. The jumbled array of pillows at their backs were there for no other reason than that they were liked, and there was no color or age or theme that tied them together.

"You fixed him."

Her shadow spoke with distinct authority, aged four years as Fred untangled herself enough so that they were no longer sitting one, like the other. With a tentative smile she passed over her project.

"Sarah," Fred started softly, tripping over words that were well practiced between them. "If I have to sew his ear on again, even just one more time, I'm thinking there won't be any ear left to sew on."

Two pig tails delivered their denial in bobbing unison.

"You just have to sewded him again. Like now."

"Sewed," mother corrected daughter quietly, as she blinked and blurred her eyes a few times, trying to see what Sarah did. If she could blur the already furry edges enough, then maybe she could shave at least a few years off. Five, maybe even ten.

"Sewed," the shadow was now an echo, too. "Yes."

Fred blinked again, and from the corner of her eye -- the farthest, topmost corner there was -- he was almost new again. Or at least, almost her old. But once she blinked it was all gone. Gone were the glasses, lost when they cracked between a two-year-old's body and the front sidewalk. The felted sides so this she could nearly see right through. Back were all the stitches, row by row by row, and most especially around the ears. They seemed to be most vulnerable to carrying.

She'd called Cordy for advice on that, of course. Doctoring wasn't a lesson Fred had stayed long enough at the hotel to really learn, at least not well. And memories of her friend's neat, even stitches had lead to the first call, for the left ear's original mishap. It was a reason, at least, and it kept being a reason after that, too.

Their voices always sounded very far away.

"I have to go now," Sarah announced, scrambling down from their perch to collect her not-quite-abandoned pile from the floor. On went her yellow rain slicker, her mother's old glasses minus the frames, a wiffle ball bat tucked up under one arm, and an abandoned gym bag dragging the floor. That, of course, was were Fiegenbaum went to recover from his recent surgery. Hopefully the bumps weren't going to be too many.

Fred couldn't even be bothered to hide her smile. For as far away as those voices sounded, she hadn't realized just how good she'd gotten at repeating their stories until the last year or so, as her daughter got older.

"Who are you saying today?"

"Everyone," the answer was delivered from as far away as the dining room, focused ahead.

"That's my girl."
fredless: (Family by Jillrenay)
I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to say here. So many people have a specific story to tell. Something that lead them to learn this, or when they felt that. But he's great, as little as that words tells. Both my folks are. I grew up in a house filled with them. They were both there, only every wall and in every cabinet, and every other nook and cranny you can imagine. That's how it was for him.

He bought that house for my mom. He worked and he saved, and he signed his name on the line...Roger Burkle. I think he must've presented the papers and the ring to mom at the same time. Because he loves with a real sort of practicality that never leaves him. He didn't just want to tell her that he was going to love, shelter, and protect. He wanted to have the real proof of it, right there. So that she could know, and see and not just feel how much he loved her. And Mama has always loved him enough back to let him go on with it, even when feeling has always been enough for her, I think.

He had her, and the house, and I think they'd gotten ok with not having a me. Or whatever version of me there might've been over the years. He just helped her fill the house up that much more. More shelves and cabinets and he started building things to give her too. The chairs in the front yard and the bakers rack in the kitchen and the bedside table in their room. When I got older I started noticing it was never the obscure things. He didn't want to make model airplanes or grandfather clocks. It was things that would get used, especially by her. They sorts of things that get used daily, that she would use and think if him, but also just that they'd get used. Practical again. The practical romantic, whatever that might mean.

And then I went and showed up, and they made room. He'd filled that house for her, and he still made more room. He just built more shelves and shifted things around and made room in their rooms...a whole one for my own. And then as I got older he helped me fill that too. There were walks and camping trips and memories that were just ours. Science projects where I taught him more than he helped me, but I think he secretly didn't mind that at all. We refinished the dresser together, and I remember not wanting to cry in front of him when I got a splinter. So he just left the room, on purpose, to get some tea and let me have my few tears.

He just knew. And then he came back, and the glass was so cold and soothing against where I'd pulled it out, and I think he knew that part too. It's just the way that he is.
fredless: (Backlit by iconwhore4eva)
When they made popsicles. Forget the kind with the even, colorless plastic wrappers. These tasted better. They were better. Mama would always have to buy two batches of strawberries, not just one, because they always had to be sampled. To maybe just that they were...good enough to get cut up and dropped into the sticky and syrupy bowl, splashing on already stained fingers. So of course the best ones got eaten along the way, shared as they emptied out the small plastic baskets. Green, the kind Fred hadn't seen in a long, long time. And even though she understood the physics of it, of why. Of how things break down and go back to the earth, she still missed those flimsy little baskets filled with fruit, and they way they bended and folded in her hands once they'd been cleared out. You could even turn them inside out of themselves, if you wanted to.

Strawberry Koolaid then, the kind you still put the sugar in. Fred didn't like the way the sugar-free kind smelled, or the texture of it mixed with the water. She'd carefully measure out the sugar, dumping it in and stirring until all the tiny crystals were gone. They always used the same bowl, the edges of it now stayed red for always. One day she just gave up ever getting it really clean. Well, it was clean...clear then, Fred supposed. Clear of everything they'd done with it that day. Not that she wanted it to go away. Fruit and koolaid together, and into the small plastic holders with the matching sticks. They had enough for twelve now, because six just wasn't enough, and anything worth doing? Dad always laughed at them, poked and asked what was wrong with the ones from the store. But Fred always noticed how he ate the second one every single time, right after she'd had one. You had to tun them under the hot water from the tap, just to get the popsicles loose. But just right, so you didn't melt them before it was time.

Summers were marked that way, sitting in the chairs out in the front yard. All of them pushed together, sticky red smears here and there. They'd watch the sunset, talk about what kind to make next time. Daddy would suggest strange and awkward combinations, just to make them laugh. But secretly Fred always wanted to try them anyway, and sometimes she did just that. Sometimes the popsicles would break apart before they were done. Too much fruit, too much sun, or not enough time in the freezer. She'd stare for a while, at that bit of their work coloring the dusty ground. Then she'd pat a bit of dirt over it, in that practical need to keep the ants away, before darting through the door to go get a fresh popsicle and start all over again.

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Fred Burkle

May 2015

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