“Ensnared by Elliot” by Meagan J. Meehan
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, Meagan J. Meehan recounts the horrors of babysitting.
I am a distinguished professor. I am a dignified person. I have a doctorate. I am important in academic circles.
Maxwell Davenport comforted himself with these thoughts as two snickering janitors unscrewed the plastic tunnel in a last-ditch effort to free him. Somewhere below he heard Elliot giggling obnoxiously, undoubtedly enjoying the scene.
When Maxwell’s wealthy sister, Audra, first adopted Elliot, a cherub-faced blond, Maxwell assumed that she would hire a full-time nanny to look after him, just as their parents had done for them. Yet Elliot was an exceptionally difficult child. In a span of three years he had defeated over two dozen nannies, leading Audra to decide that what the abominable child really needed was to form bonds with family members.
At first, Maxwell balked—he knew nothing about children, and he was not technically related to Elliot. Moreover, Elliot was a demonic little soul who spoke foul language and frequently dissolved into fits of rage. Yet Audra bribed her brother with the promise of funding his next trip to the Andes—an offer too generous for the cash-strapped anthropology department to pass up.
And so, Maxwell accompanied the wretched child to Bobo’s Burgers, a clown-themed fast food restaurant that surely doubled as the gate to hell. Every second was torture—unappealing children screaming at impossibly high decimals, fatty foods, apathetic staff.
The outing was an elaborate tapestry of disaster. Elliot demanded two large orders of french fries and a cheeseburger, then switched to chicken nuggets. He proceeded to spill his gigantic soda all over Maxwell’s designer slacks before running into the play place, leaving his meal untouched. Maxwell was condemned to watch as Elliot invaded the ball pits and ran up and down the slides—pushing and shoving other children the whole time—until the noise level reached an unbearable peak.
“Let’s go, Elliot,” Maxwell called in vain. “Mommy’s waiting!”
Elliot’s response was a prolonged raspberry.
Apparently, the stern tone that worked so effectively with graduate students had absolutely no impact on Elliot.
In desperation, Maxwell entered the ball pit and grabbed for the boy. The child easily eluded him. Maxwell lost his balance and fell flat on his face; everyone in the vicinity brayed laughter. Utterly humiliated, Maxwell righted himself just in time to see Elliot vanishing into a spiraled plastic tunnel colored an alarming shade of yellow. Foolishly Maxwell followed, determined to put an end to the day’s horrors.
Tall, lanky Maxwell crawled into the narrow tube with great difficulty. Elliot was visible, scooting ahead of him and turning around periodically to stick his tongue out and make devil ears with his grubby little fingers.
“Now see here, young man!” Maxwell shouted, his voice echoing through the enclosure. “I’ve had enough of this. You’re a naughty little gremlin!”
Elliot, totally unfazed, smirked and snorted as Maxwell inched closer and closer. Suddenly, Maxwell realized that he couldn’t move a muscle. He could not squirm forward, nor maneuver backward—he was completely lodged in place.
Elliot, clearly pleased, chortled and disappeared around a corner, leaving Maxwell flailing about, kicking his feet and calling for assistance. Cruelly, he was at eye-level with an opening in the tunnel, enabling him to look out at Elliot who was happily hopping around in the ball pit—evidently having no intention of finding help.
Several minutes later—which seemed like several hours—another child entered the Maxwell-obstructed tunnel. After painfully pulling on his legs, viciously beating his ankles, and shrieking “Move, old guy, move!” repeatedly, the offending brat finally alerted the adults of Maxwell’s plight.
As the kid told the parents, and the parents told the staff, and the staff sent for the maintenance men, Elliot frolicked in the ball pit. When the janitors arrived they ordered everyone out—which resulted in Elliot pitching a flamboyant tantrum. In further testament to the unfairness of life, Elliot was awarded for his atrocious behavior with a complimentary set of action hero toys intended to keep him quiet as he was led out of the play place.
Maxwell was eventually freed, but not without infamy—someone had recorded the event on their cell phone, and the video was subsequently posted on YouTube. Maxwell later learned that the damning film was quite popular among his students.
That evening, as Maxwell literally dragged a screeching Elliot home, he decided to discuss the importance of tradition with Audra—namely, the boarding school tradition.
MEAGAN J. MEEHAN is a published author, poet, cartoonist, and award-winning abstract artist; she also pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Examiner.com, and AXS. Meagan holds a Bachelors in English Literature and a Masters of Communication. She is an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
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 [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jan 12, 2016
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
- Black Music
- Dance of Days: Updated Edition
- Go the Fuck to Sleep
- All the Power: Revolution Without Illusion
- Seriously, Just Go to Sleep
- The Lost Treasures of R&B: A D Hunter Mystery
- Sale Nelson George Two Book Set
- Scars of the Soul Are Why Kids Wear Bandages When They Don’t Have Bruises
- Animals and Objects In and Out of Water
- No One Told Me Not to Do This
- Letters to Kurt
- Demons in the Spring