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News & Features » June 2018 » “Acrobat Class” by Tamar Jacobs

“Acrobat Class” by Tamar Jacobs

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, an exhausting evening at acrobat class—not for the young acrobats, but for their chaperone

Acrobat Class
by Tamar Jacobs
Three- and six-year-olds

Say you signed up for an acrobat class for your six-year-old. Maybe you did this patting yourself on the back, because his school says he needs help with “core strength,” and has recommended occupational therapy. But you’ve done OT before, and it was basically a grim young woman badgering him about his pencil grip for an hour and a hundred dollars a week, and his grip never changed much, and she was beginning to yell sometimes. You’d come around the corner and she’d look up at you with big eyes and her voice back under control.

Maybe you thought this acrobat class could be a kind of out-of-the-box approach to OT. But you rarely leave home after you get back from school around four, and class begins at 5:15. Your boys are tired, and hungry, too, because sometimes you give up on trying to wrangle them to the table until you see them standing together looking into the fridge like Oliver Twist. Around five is the time this would typically be happening, but you are not at home where you can quick-fix them something or warm up what you made before. You are in a car driving to acrobat class. They are discombobulated by being out of the house, driving at twilight.

Discombobulated and hungry. And tired.

Things start to look up just from being out of the car and inside a former church with a soaring cathedral strung with trapezes and balance beams and those things like hammocks to twist and spin in, and padded mats in primary colors, but now your baby wants badly to join in, and he is tired, hungry, and chanting, “I want to do tricks, too,” so you let him watch videos on your phone to distract him even as you know his upset will proceed and quickly crescendo at the moment you take the phone away.

And it occurs to you in a flash that you DO need to take the phone away, because the battery is so low, because your car-charger isn’t working, and you keep forgetting to mention this to your husband, who would replace it if you could remember to tell him. You need the phone, now, tonight, for its GPS, because you are twenty-five minutes from home in a neighborhood you don’t know.

So you get the phone away, and within a minute, his screams fill the vast cathedral full of four classes in progress. You find a dark closet to stand in until he can stop, and your older son calls, “What’s wrong with my brother?” He wants to know why you have taken his brother screaming into a closet. You pop your head out to wave to him and mouth the words, It’s okay, before popping back in. You get locked in. Someone lets you out.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, you see your son hanging upside down on a trapeze, exhilarated.

Class is over. There’s a vending machine. You think a treat could keep them awake for the ride home and bolster morale overall. The machine dispenses Jelly Bellies by mistake. There was a cavity filled last week. The dentist made a big, stern production about sticky-sweet things being no-gos. Your son was struck by this conversation and revisits it often. He asks for your okay about any new food. He is crushed now by the appearance of the Jelly Bellies, even though you tell him it’s just fine, in fact, Jelly Bellies are just fine always, and indeed an exception to the sticky food rule. You just need to make it through this night. There is a shift. Suddenly he is upset that there’s only one bag. He wants his own. He doesn’t want to share one bag with his brother. Great tears well up and roll. You should have anticipated this. You know you should have. But something inside of you drew a line and the line shot you in the foot.

You tune out your children as you try to remember how to get your phone to show you the next turn, then the next, before you’ve made them, because it’s down to 4% and you really have no idea where you are in relation to home.

You find your way home. Your children are chatting pleasantly in the backseat. You have no idea when or how this happened. Your husband has been waiting. Your sons jump into his arms. Your husband asks how it went. “Great!” say both sons, in unison and smiling.

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TAMAR JACOBS lives in Philadelphia. Her short stories have appeared in Glimmer TrainThe Louisville ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewGrist, and other publications. She placed second in a Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers contest and is a Katherine Anne Porter Fiction prizewinner. She is seeking a home for a poetry collection and for her first novel, an excerpt of which is forthcoming in the first online issue of New Ohio Review.

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Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jun 29, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , ,



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