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News & Features » July 2020 » “How to Raise a Warhol” by Maggie Gale

“How to Raise a Warhol” by Maggie Gale

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, a mom of two observes a toddler’s uninterrupted, artistic playtime.

How to Raise a Warhol
by Maggie Gale
Toddler, two years and five months old

There was an odd quietness in the house, a stillness I could only describe as beautiful. Because, quiet was a sound foreign to what was ordinary here. Some combination, some form of loud talking or loud singing, yelling, crying and screaming, even the sound of clumsy, padded footsteps going thump, thump, thump on the hardwood floors was more familiar than quiet. Quiet I would pay for.

Suddenly I could hear my thoughts again and it raised an immediate suspicion in my mind.

Where was my child? Not the angelic, sleeping baby, but the toddler, I thought, as I noticed she had vanished from the immediate vicinity where she had previously been climbing on the surrounding furniture.

I set my cup of coffee down the on table beside me, knowing that my drink, once hot, was likely to be somewhere between a state of lukewarm and stone-cold before I returned to it again. Rising from the couch, I passed through the living room — avoiding the path of destruction, like passing through a war zone where the causalities were fallen couch pillows, plastic cutlery and odd pieces of Tupperware. All of this mess created by a small human, who was created by me.

I reached the kitchen. And down the short flight of stairs, I spotted her. In the playroom, a room where we stored carefully curated activities and toys that seemed some days to serve no other purpose than to collect dust. It was so unusual, she was playing. All by herself.

So as not to disturb her, I approached stealthily and positioned myself beside the doorway, concealing my body behind the drywall, careful to maintain the ability to peer out while still partially disguised.

I looked on and watched her pick up some blocks. She proceeded to stack them for approximately forty-five seconds.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

Quickly, she moved on to a bird-themed Matryoshka doll. Amazed at the rapidity of her attention span, I watched her swiftly dismember the head of the colorful rooster, the outermost doll. She reached the third doll inside, an egg, inside of which was a baby chick. So cute. Struggling to pull apart the two pieces without success, she got increasingly frustrated and threw it. The piece tumbled under the arm chair, its oval shape rolling awkwardly. I suppressed the urge to say something of a disciplinary nature and instead watched her search frantically for something else to torment.

Her next victim was a box of crayons. She studied the small container carefully, opening it and as if making a calculated decision, she gingerly slid out a yellow one.

“Wellow,” she said.

Crayon in hand, she poked the table, prodding it as if testing the tool’s ability to transfer color on to a blank surface. Test successful, she moved on to bigger and better things — she approached the wall. The white wall.

Scribble, scribble. More scribbling.

A look of satisfaction flashed across her face and remained for a brief moment. I recognized this look; it was fueled by demonic possession.

Shouldn’t I stop her? I questioned. Before she got carried away? My internal dialogue continued with mounting uncertainty.

I entertained the idea of calling out to her from elsewhere in the house, upstairs maybe, as if I hadn’t already been watching her and in my mind, I rehearsed the alarmed reaction and stern tone I had taken many times before.

But it was so quiet, so peaceful. Besides, she had already added two more colors, red and purple, to her masterpiece while I stood there deliberating with myself.

Instead, I walked away. I sat down on the couch. I reached for my coffee; it was still hot and my child had created abstract art.

***

MAGGIE GALE is a mother to two girls.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature, works from home as a Human Resources Consultant, and enjoys creative writing when the littles are asleep.  

***

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: Jul 9, 2020

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



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