Tag Archives: children

Sleepytime Tea (revision)

Mom Mom says that when I drink sleepytime tea that I’ll have good dreams. And you know what? She’s right!

I used to have dreams about monsters that chased after me and I was never fast enough because of my “amnormal” heartbeat, and they would catch me and I’d wake up and go to my mommy’s room. When I drink sleepytime tea, I have good dreams about ponies that fly and butterflies that sing songs. Mom Mom told me once that worms grow into butterflies. Mom Mom knows about everything because she’s old. Even older than Mommy is!

Mom Mom told me once that God created me special because He has special plans for me. Sometimes I feel like God is mad at me because my chest hurts sometimes. Mommy has some gooey stuff she rubs on my chest that helps me calm down and feel better. She tells me bedtime stories. Sometimes I dream that I’m a princess and that Mommy is the queen and Mom Mom is a good fairy who grants my wishes. Sometimes, I don’t have any dreams. That’s because the silver worms ate them. I see them crawling on my eyes before I faint. When I wake up, everyone looks scared and that makes me feel scared.

Me and my family used to go to church but we left. Our pastor said that I fainted because I didn’t believe in God hard enough. Mommy got mad. We left the church after that.

Mommy and Pop Pop got and a fight because Pop Pop wanted me to go to church. Mom Mom said I should decide for myself. I didn’t want to make Pop Pop mad, but the pastor scared me. I like God though, so now we pray at home to Him every morning. Mom Mom and Pop Pop still go to church most Sundays but Pop Pop’s back and legs sometimes hurt too much so they can’t go.

The silver worms sometimes crawl on my eyes but maybe one day I’ll wake up and they’ll turn into pretty butterflies that sing to me. I’m happy that God made me special and gave me Mommy and Mom Mom and Pop Pop too. I know that God loves me and we’ll be happy forever!

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Chuva Imaculada (“Immaculate Rain” revision)

December of 1984.

Not a single cloud marred the skyline that noon summer day in Sao Paolo, but there was rain.

The favelados called it a Chuva Imaculada. They said the rain was born out of God’s own eyes. They said it was a gift from Heaven, that each drop contained a tiny miracle within it.

The first of these miracles was claimed by Jose Carlos. For the first time in over a decade, the 95-year-old was able to bend his knees and kiss the muddy ground, even though his legs had long been rigid with arthritis. The entire street knew of Mr. Carlos’s condition and they all rushed to help him up, thinking he was in serious pain or dying. When they came up to him, they saw his face contorted in what they thought was pain. “Mary is crying for us,” he said. “The dead are weeping with forgiveness. I can finally die in peace.”

You see, forgiveness was the most important thing to Jose Carlos. When he was a young man, he did not lead a Godly life. He ran a bootleg operation in the 1920s, but there were also rumors in the favela about his involvement with crime lords, that he became one of their collectors and did unspeakable things to people just as poor as he is now. Jose Carlos never thought that God would offer a true miracle to the favela before he died, and certainly not one for him.

“The dead are weeping!” Jose Carlos sobbed. The rain and his own tears mixed and crept into the corners of his smile.

On the lower end of the favela, little Davi splashed his bare feet under the warm trickle of dirty water from the gutters above, unaware that his parents inside were making love after having a terrible fight over a broken dish. He splashed through the streets, shouting to the windows above. “It’s raining!” he shouted then found a big puddle to jump into.

The twins, Maria and Mariana, laughed infectiously as Maria fried plantains and Mariana sewed up her child’s torn pants. He had been playing with the older boys again and she was worried he was going to fall in with the wrong crowd. The sisters had always had an uneasy relationship since childhood. Mariana was the more extroverted one and the favorite of their mother. Maria resented her for never offering the spotlight, even though she knew it was not Mariana’s fault. Today, however, they both laughed so hard they cried. Maria’s tears sizzled and evaporated when they hit the pain.

The bare-chested men practicing capoeira at the beach stopped to squint at the rain falling from the sun. When the rain dried, the capoeiristas at the bottom of the hill began their furious dance again, refreshed. Their lightning feet struck the air, kicking out rainbows over the hillside.

On that morning, the favelados claimed that all sins had been washed away, that they were given another chance. They danced in the evening until their legs were no longer good for standing, and even then, many would just lay down where they were to laugh and shout at the sky and those still strong enough to keep dancing.

When they woke up again the next morning, life resumed much as it always had. And yet, the people’s eyes shone a different hue. Though they were once the abused eyes of the desperate, a lingering exuberance shone instead.

People often talked about the miracle rain from that day on. They passed the stories on to their children, too, about joyful tears that cleansed the favela one cloudless day.

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White Wings (revision)

Bobby felt an itchiness in his shoulder blades. At first, he thought of telling someone. It burned and he kept rubbing up against walls and chairs. It felt like something was growing underneath his skin.

“Wow!” Bobby thought. “I must be growing wings!”

Bobby had heard a story once about how butterflies that come out of their cocoons are too weak to fly if someone helps them out, so he decided to stop itching his shoulder blades no matter how much he wanted to. He didn’t sleep much at night and he often yelled in pain and bit into his pillow to keep from waking Mom and Dad. The bulges that would be his wings grew into large bumps and became very red and itchy. Finally, he couldn’t help it any longer and itched at his back. It bled and a nest of white bugs came crawling out.

Bobby cried. He had thought he’d have beautiful wings and all he had was a nest of dumb old parasites. Maybe he was being punished for itching when he shouldn’t have.

The white parasites heard the boy’s crying and were moved by his suffering. That night, while he was sleeping, they constructed themselves into a pair of beautiful, white wings. The boy knew that the parasites had done this for him, and that these were not real wings, but Bobby was grateful for their concern and decided not to cry anymore.

“My!” he whistled. “These are the grandest wings a boy could ever wish for! Now I can go on to being a normal boy again with no wings anymore.”

The white insects paused, not knowing what to do, then they disassembled themselves and crawled back into his skin.

Bobby realized that he didn’t need wings to be happy. He was just glad there was somebody who cared enough to make him a pair.

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Pizza Mind (revision)

I don’t know why, but daddy says he wants a “pizza mind.” He says that when mommy left and gramma died, he was gonna find his pizza mind. I told him I’d help him find it, but he said he needs to find it by himself.
Daddy spends a lot of the day sitting by himself. He sits Indian-style in his room with his eyes closed making noises. Daddy told me that he’s looking inside himself to make himself a better person. I told him he’s already a better person, but he just laughs at me and ruffles up my hair.
I had a nightmare one night that I’d found my pizza mind. I could see myself opening up my own head and there was a pizza with pepperonis and sausage and green peppers inside. It was weird because I don’t like green peppers at all! I wasn’t scared of the pizza in my head or anything, but when I found my pizza mind, I had this really scary smile. It wasn’t like a bad smile, like how Dracula smiles. It was just that I couldn’t stop smiling, even though I was scared. I couldn’t frown or cry or anything. I just kept smiling instead.
I woke up after midnight and I saw daddy in the living room staring at the dancing ants on Gramma’s old bunny-ears T.V. He said he brought it down from the attic because tonight was the last night anyone could watch T.V. on bunny-ears T.V. I thought it was sad that gramma’s T.V. wouldn’t work anymore. Daddy turned it off and took me to go potty and go back to bed. I had another nightmare that I was being chased and I woke up early again, but I didn’t get out of bed until the sun came up.
When I got up, I saw Daddy was up. He was eating Cheerios and he had milk on his chin. I told him about the nightmares I had and that I didn’t want him to find his pizza mind. He laughed at me, but I got out of the way before he could mess up my hair again. Dad didn’t even try very hard to get me, though. He just kept smiling and watching HDTV and dripping milk on his chin.

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My Secret Garden (revision)

My secret garden is the most amazing garden in the whole world! In my secret garden, I look after the birds and the flowers and the beetles. I count the flowers, and I named one beetle Frances. He tells me secrets! Like how the soil is better for planting in one part of the garden and how Mr. Hummingbird has been dipping into the nectar again (Oh, Mr. Hummingbird. You drink too much!).

In my secret garden, I can escape from the bad man. In my garden, he doesn’t have a name. Only the beetles and Mr. Hummingbird do. The flowers keep watch over me, like knights guarding a princess. The insects are all my faithful subjects and Mr. Hummingbird is my closest advisor and friend. Mr. Hummingbird hums sweet nothings into my ear, but he never grabs me and shakes me like the bad man does.

In my secret garden, I can watch the sun through the leaves. When I close my eyes, it looks like glowing Swiss cheese. The cheese turns from red to yellow to green and then purple! Sometimes, while I’m in my garden, I get hungry. I pack a lunch and sprinkle some on the ground for the royal subjects. Mr. Hummingbird makes hovering from place to place look easy. I wish I could stay in one place, though. Today, I have to say goodbye to my secret garden. But not yet. Right now, all there is is me and my secret garden. And Mr. Hummingbird. And Frances. And a thousand different flowers.

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Super Ball Madness (revision)

Takeshi walked by rows of arcade games where baggy-pants kids were waving their hands around brightly lit screens, playing drums or guitars or just plain out jumping around like crazy people. Even though this arcade kept the old games in the back, there were a lot of others that Takeshi didn’t recognize. Where was Pakkuman? Where was Western Gun? What was Japan doing with its youth?

Takeshi liked it in the dark back area of the arcade. Past all the craziness of all the people jumping and bustling, he could enjoy his favorite game: Super Ball Madness.

Super Ball Madness was a simple, pixelated game where the player used a joystick to move the screen around to make the ball roll into the goal. It was like golf, only he had control over the entire course. Takeshi put a 100-yen coin in the slot and suddenly he felt he had control over his life, his marriage, his mortgage payments. Everything.

Jiisan!” yelled a large sound coming from a small voice. The shock from the volume of the child’s voice made him wiggle his joystick too much. He just barely missed the goal and his timer ran out.

“What? What do you want? You made me lose, you know! You going to pay for that?” He shook his finger at the “Game Over” screen.

“Why would you want to play that game, jiisan? It’s old!”

“What’s wrong with old?”

“It looks like pachinko. I bet you like to play pachinko.”

“What would you know about it? You’re just a kid.”

“Mama says the men who play pachinko are all deadbeats who can’t go home and face their wives and families.”

Takeshi felt his eye twitch. Parents never taught their kids anything these days. If Takeshi talked like that to an elder when he was a kid, he would have been smacked all the way out to the curb, and then he’d go home to get beaten some more. Takeshi reached out and grabbed the kid’s head in an armlock. The kid screamed and tried to run but Takeshi already had him in a vice grip with his knuckles digging into the kid’s hair. “What do you know, you brat?”

“Sir!” A woman approached her. He knew this woman. She always had too much red lipstick on and looked like a woman of the night. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Takeshi let the kid go running off and crying. “Look, I was just playing this game and…”

“We’re getting rid of that game next week, so you needn’t come back here again.” She bowed politely. Takeshi wanted to hit her.

He looked back at the screen. The timer had run out and he hadn’t put his initials on the screen. He could see his initials in nine spots but with one blank spot at the bottom 10th-place position. He was on a roll and then that little brat, and that woman…

“I’m going. I’m going.” He shoved his hands in his pockets, then went to the end of the block to play pachinko.

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Apple Boy (revision)

Long ago, before he was called Apple Boy, a young boy of ten years was sitting in his kitchen enjoying a red delicious. His mother told him to cut it into slices and that he would get more apple that way and not be so wasteful.

“Not if I eat the whole apple!” exclaimed the boy before thrusting the core in this mouth.

“Stop! Don’t eat that, you fool boy! You’ll get seeds in your belly and an apple tree will grow inside you,” his mother scolded him, but the disobedient boy kept chewing and swallowed the core, seeds and all. She sent him to his room without supper.

A few months later, the boy began to sprout tiny buds on his stomach. The mother fussed and worried over the child (“poor baby,” she purred), but in secret, she was gloating that she was right about the seeds all along (“if only you had listened to your mother then none of this would have happened to my sweetums”).

By the time he was thirteen, kids would pick apples off his arms in class and eat them. He would get in trouble for not bringing enough for everyone. Apple Boy came home crying a lot. “It’s okay,” his mother said, “Mommy will always be here for you.”

When Apple Boy turned eighteen, he had really sprouted up, his limbs branching out so that his arms would crash through the window when he rolled over at night.

“This house is too small for me,” he told his mother one morning. “I need to leave so that I can get more sunlight and rain to grow.”

His mother wept as he uprooted his feet from the ground and shambled out of the front yard. “Oh!” she wept. “They grow up so fast!”

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