Daily Prompt: Agile

They come out on the stage

Nerves well hidden behind their smile

And when the music starts

Folick, move and dance in time.

Oh agile ones

I used to be jealous

My old frame never did that.

I never did more than a somersault

I never did manage the mat

I wished so much that I could vault

I wished for the fleet-footedness of a cat

Unfortunately nimbleness did not a home to find

And after forty plus a few years,

I find that I do not so much mind.

 

via Daily Prompt: Agile

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Amber and the town of Bright 10

For the story so far, click here

“Evening, I thought you could use some food.” Mack waved a pizza box under Amber’s nose. “Mrs Donaldson from over the way called me and said that you hadn’t left your table since after you cleaned up the lunch dishes.”

Amber rolled her eyes.  “One of these days I am going to get blinds.  You’d better come in.” He came in and took the pizza directly out to her kitchen where he found a couple of plates and served her up two slices.

He took the two plates back to her dining room as Amber closed some textbooks and pushed some papers to one side of the table. Mack peered over her shoulder.

“You can read that,” he asked her as he spied a whole page of Cantonese characters and various English potential meanings.

“I’m a translator.  I have my own business,” she said.

“What do you translate,” he asked her.

“I have a computer program that does legal stuff.  Took me ages to get that programme right but it has been very lucrative for me.  This stuff is the fun stuff.  This is old school translation of a text.”

“So how does a kid with such a stuffed around childhood manage to own their own business.”

“Stan and Merry,” Amber stated.

“What did they do, aside from Stan teaching you to read properly,” Mack pried.

“Believed in me,” Amber replied promptly.

Mack looked at her with a steady gaze.  Amber shook her head.

“I learnt to read, write and speak Cantonese when I was 8.  I was pretty quick at it too, it made so much more sense than English to me.  When I was ten I spent 6 months with an Egyptian family.  They were such a great family, I was quite upset to be pulled from them, but they were going back to Egypt for three months and Child Services didn’t want me to go too.  They taught me Arabic. Then I had an Italian family and a Japanese family.  They were the drug dealers,” she added quite calmly now.  “So by the time I was 12 I could speak, read and write 4 languages quite well.  Then when I was 15 I mastered English, took French and Cantonese at school through senior and did a double degree in Modern and ancient languages at university.  About six months into my first year, I started charging students to help fix up their assignments and in my second year started working for lecturers translating academic articles from other languages for them.  The business grew from that.”

“Do you employ anyone,” Mack grilled kindly.

“I have a woman who does my accounts. I’m going down to Melbourne the day after next to go through everything with her and I have about five casual staff that I use at any one time.  Although technically I have about fifty people I call on to do translations depending on their areas of expertise. Oh and a couple of friends whom I outsource my help desk too.”

“Wow,” Maverick didn’t say much.  “You are just wow.”

“As I said, I owe it all to Stan and Merry.  If I hadn’t lucked into their lives, I would still be struggling to learn to read a paragraph in English.  Probably sitting in some scummy prison because I didn’t believe I had brains at 15.”

“You spoke five languages at 15 Amber, how could you think you weren’t intelligent.”

“Because I got Es in everything at school and if you couldn’t do English you didn’t get to try another language at high school.  My god Stan got so fired up when the school said that I had only just mastered English by the end of Year 10, I shouldn’t be doing a language in Senior.”

“Why don’t you call them Mum and Dad? I can’t see them minding,” Maverick stated.  He risked brushing a strand of hair off the side of her face.  Amber froze but didn’t pull away.

“It’s just that if I call them Mum and Dad then I have a claim to them and every other foster child has a claim to them.  They’ve fostered over 20 different kids for extended times and each one of us, well Stan and Merry were the last option, no one else would take us. They were our only advocate.  If I claim them, then I state I still need them and if I still need them, can they give Roxy what she needs?  Can they give the next 15 year old what he needs?  I don’t have that right.  I am not theirs, but they were mine for four years.”

“You stayed with them after you turned 18, but the government doesn’t pay for that.”

“I know, They had me for as long as I needed them.  Just before I turned 19, I was making enough money to rent a room so I went, so that the next kid could get what they gave me and if you make me fucking cry again, so help me you’ll be arresting me for assault.”

Maverick laughed and cleaned off the plates from the table.  She followed him and washed up, dried up and put the dishes away whilst he ate another slice of pizza.

“Why do you do that,” he asked.

“What?”

“You always put everything away.  I have never seen such a tidy person.”

Amber smiled.  “Because for so long, I never knew if I would be there the next day.  Even when I was out of care, cheap rooms came and went quickly. Enough,” Amber halted the conversation. “Robert worked out that there are 30 centimetres between the back of the kitchen cupboards and the wall in the dining room.  I figure I don’t use the upper cupboards anyway so I can take the wall down and have an open planned dining room.  If you are going to hang around you are going to help me.”

“Sure thing, but it’s after 10pm.  You want to do this now?” Maverick grinned.  Amber wasn’t treating him like some form of piranha and that was a good thing in his books.

She gave him an eye.  Maverick continued to grin as he exited to the back veranda where Amber stored her small supply of tools and grabbed the jimmy bar and hammer.  He could hear Amber dragging the table away from the wall.  As he entered Amber was working on the sideboard.  Maverick picked up the other end of the furniture and the lifted it back towards the front window.

“I’m going to put a sliding door out to the new deck here.  Milly and Roxy say that it will be great in Summer.”

“Cold in winter, spend the extra and get double glazing, we get snow here in winter.” Maverick handed her the jimmy bar.  “Wedge it under the rim there and just rock back with it.  He stepped closer to her and when she struggled, he wrapped an arm around her.  She didn’t quite freeze like last time but she was timid.  “You’ve never dated anyone have you,” he whispered.  She felt his breath on her ear

“No,” she muttered, “I wanted to get my house.”

“And you’ve got that now, you’re not going anywhere.” He applied pressure to the picture rail and it started to break away from the wall.  Maverick held her like that, breathing in the smell of her shampoo.  The picture rail pulled slowly away from the wall.  Three different colours of paint could now be seen.

Amber couldn’t look at him, she trembled.

“It’s alright Amber, we can take this slow.  You’re not going anywhere and nor am I.  We’ve got time up our sleeves, now are you going to take off the first panel.”

She paused, breathed and focused on a run of brown paint over the bare timber where the picture rail had been.

Amber grinned.  She found a crack in the wall and rammed the jimmy bar in, she pushed back with all her might and the panel splintered.

“Great work, you keep pulling and I’ll go load up your ute.  Didn’t you have a morning off taking rubbish to the tip?”

Amber laughed.  “I got up this morning just as early and spent some time looking at the validity of reprogramming my software.  Decided that it was worth it and spent two hours on the phone to Hong Kong and my programmers over there.”

“No rest for you then, tell me do you ever stop.”

Amber didn’t respond, instead, she put the jimmy bar between the stud and the next timber.

“There’s something in there,” Amber said.  Three tongue and groove boards had been removed and Amber had her bar in the fourth but it wouldn’t budge.

“Tap the end of it with the hammer,” Maverick advised.  She did that and then pushed hard.

The board moved, as did three or four boards beside it.  She repeated the process, getting the jimmy bar further in each time.  Maverick wedged some chunks of the other boards into the gaps and then they both heaved on the Jimmy bar.  There was a crack and four boards peeled back.   On the inside was a blue board.

“That’s wet board,” Maverick sounded confused.

“There’s a gap.” Amber put her eye close to the slither of the dark.  “There’s something in there.”

Left in the Cracks

There is a sad state of affairs

And it concerns our children

That the quiet ones get forgotten

These kids get left in the cracks

The noisy ones get noticed

The noisy ones get help

The noisy ones, squeak the wheel

Their problems in our faces.

The quite ones get left behind

Their problems no one places.

And nobody percieves to mind

These lost and lonesome cases.

How do we help these children

That we can barely find?

How do we help these children

Caught up in their own big binds?

You see in edcuation

There is a little noticed fact

That if you are quiet and lack in making trouble

You slip down through the gaps.

Yet this unofficial loophole

Is devastating to these kids

And it is our responsiblity

To raise the bar and lift the lid.

We need to notice the children

So we can help them through

The tough problems that life throws at them

And lift their hearts and souls and brains

To help them cope with being maimed.

 

via Daily Prompt: Loophole

I remember her

I remember her

Vibrant and sunny

Polite and kind

Never mute or dull

I remember her

Wavy hair, purposefully striding

Up that great big hill

I remember her

Rather be playing

Kids are more fun

Than cleaning any day

I remember her

Two finger typing

Children’s stories

Emerging on the screen

I remember her

Patch-working and scrapbooking

Embroidering, sewing

Creating each day

I remember her

Sadly being robbed

Of an amazing life

Slowly imprisoned in the brain.

The door to education

The door to education

is not that hard to find.

Thousands of people daily

Stand waiting there to guide.

So why is it that some ignore it,

And some struggle to acquire

Then there are the ones

That formal education is against.

The keepers of these learnings

Are not exactly what you think.

I teach maths and science

Yet do not know how to unblock a sink.

 

So thank you to those keepers

In all our many forms

That help the world to study

And generate the links

that mean acquiring knowledge

Is a societal norm.

via Daily Prompt: Study

Birthday Party

How topical today

To post about entertain

When in a few short hours

Young girls will decend

For a birthday party, Yeah!

My partner does desert me

Off to work he trails

Leaving me, and the kids

To finalise this shindig.

It is rather much larger

Than I anticipated

But all will be well when the guests

Arrive, Party hard and finally

Become dissipated.

via Daily Prompt: Entertain

Endless Cycles

Life is a series of evolving moments

But inbetween there is static

Days, weeks, months go by

In endless cycles where nothing changes

Then comes the moment

A decision, somewhere is made

And things change

A child graduates,

Study is begun

A change of jobs

A change of circumstance

Life is no longer static

Then things settle down again

Static returns.

via Daily Prompt: Static

How often

How often do we stop

And think about the fam?

How often do we stop

And play?

How often do we stop

And laugh out loud together?

How often do we stop

And spend the day in fun?

How often do we stop

And enjoy each other?

How often do we stop?

It should be each day.

Amber and the Town of Bright 9

For the story so far, click here

Amber opened the door to see Colin, Maverick and Annabel.

“Come on in,” she said.  “I’m just finishing up the attic.  A plumber is coming tomorrow to replace the roof and guttering and install some insulation in the ceiling, now all that stuff is gone, this house is quite cold in the evenings.”

“It will be lovely in the summer,” Annabel offered.

“Grandpa Colin wanted to ask you something,” Maverick prompted.

“I’ll get to it in my own time,” the man complained.  “I have nothing but time to fill now I ain’t sleeping great.”

“Come into the living room then, Dean from the friends of the Library dropped around a sofa he wanted out of his house.  Said if I didn’t take it, he’d be dumping it anyway.”

The four of them trooped through into the living room with its high ceilings and Amber waited.

“What is it that you do dear,” Annabel asked. “You’ve done an amazing job with this house so far and thank you so much for hiring that youngster Robert to do your veranda, he should be close to home, what with Milly’s condition an all.”

“Milly’s condition,” Amber asked.

“Oh, I really shouldn’t talk.”

“No Gran you shouldn’t.  That’s the problem with this town, too much talk.  Amber, if you want to know what is up with Milly, ask her, she is always willing to tell people, but Gran, let Milly tell because then the facts are correct.”

Annabel harrumphed from the sofa. Stan chose this moment to blut out his question.

“I want to know if Roxy could stay here over the Christmas holidays.  I want to give her a job at the hardware store.  I’d be paying her, but I am past having a teenager in the house.  Can she stay here?” Colin asked.  He rose to go.  “Damn uncomfortable sofa, no wonder that paramedic fellow got rid of it.”

“She can stay, she’s managed to be on time and not wag any classes all this term.  She can help Robert out when he is on site as well if she wants.  She gave me the idea of the extended verhanda. It will be good for her to see it come together.”

“See I told you, it was stupid coming out here to ask. An old man like me can’t be having too much time traipsing about.  I got to work tomorrow.  I’ll skype Roxy when I get home on that stupid computer you brought me.” He told his grandson.  “I wanted one like Amber here has, it is so much flasher.”

“I checked out the price of one of them.  Amber has expensive tastes in computers.”

“Amber’s business involves having reliable and quality computing power.  Amber doesn’t spend any other money except on her computer,” she paused and reflected on the bill for the roof, “and this hous.  Amber spends plenty on this house.”

“You’ve hardly started dear,” Annabel winked.

Amber smiled and showed the three visitors out of the door before heading up to the attic and finishing the clean out.

 

“There’s a false wall between your living and kitchen,” Robert announced to Amber.  He was taking a break inside out of the increasing summer heat, the two verandas done, the roofing done, and the footings in place for the garage and entertainment deck.  He was going to cut out a big hole in the wall of the dining room so that Amber could access the deck from there.

“What do you mean,” she asked.

“Well, there’s a cupboard built into the wall here.” He pointed to an odd cupboard that was currently serving to hold Amber’s growing pile of linen which consisted of a spare set of sheets and a spare towel and a big pile of hand towels and tea towels that people kept giving her for some reason.  After the renovations were finished she was planning to get Annabel to teach her what to do with all of them.  There was one of her, she did not need 15 teatowels.

“But the cupboard only runs to here.  Your kitchen benches aren’t that deep.  It’s not a structural wall,  I know you’re trying to save money but I could rip it out for you when you are ready.” Robert responded.  “It wouldn’t cost much.”

Amber nodded thinking.

“I’ll probably gut the place myself,” she replied, still thoughtful, “but don’t worry, I’m not installing a new kitchen or updating any of the bathrooms, you and Milly are still my goto in that regard.”

“Milly’s just getting over another bout of Pancreatitis.  If you have kids ever, Amber get them immunised.  Her parents didn’t immunise them and she was fine as a child, never had a day’s serious illness, but she got the mumps about five years ago.  That’s what triggered her first bout.  Man, I hate those anti vaxers now.  We got our kids immunised after that and I can tell you when we are blessed to be grandparents the kids have already said that immunizations are happening on schedule.”

“Good to know.” Her phone buzzed, she flicked the screen expertly.  “I got to get that, it’s one of my clients,” pressing the right buttons she answered fluently in Mandarin.

“Okay, I will send the translation in a week,” she hung up the phone.

Robert was looking at her.  “You speak a foreign language, you must be a genius.”

Amber laughed.  “I run an online business translating documents.  Most of it is fairly routine, translating legal documents for immigrants.  I have a program that does most of that for me but I have a core group of academics who use to me to translate some pretty cool documents.”

“So what language was that,” he asked.

“Mandarin.  I learnt to speak and read it when I was eight.  I lived with a family and the grandmother only spoke Mandarin.  She taught me to read and write in Chinese.  It’s a little complecated but essentially the written languages in China are similar, it’s the spoken language that varies.”

“Do you speak any other languages,”  he asked.

“Come on,” Amber ignored his question, “Let’s measure the hallway and both rooms and see if you are right.” The number of languages Amber spoke was a little embarrassing.  She was gifted. Her two Melbourne friends were the only ones who actually knew, and that was only because she outsourced part of her business to them.

They measured the rooms and Robert calculated that there was a missing house section of 30 centimetres.

“You are going to rip that wall open and make the downstairs more open planned aren’t you.” He asked her.

“Yep, nice big kitchen feeding into an eating area and crossing over in the living area over there.  I’m contemplating getting rid of the down stairs bedroom.  I have three rooms upstairs and the attic is large enough to convert into another bedroom if I want it.  I thought the bedroom out the back would make a nice office for me.  There’s thick walls there as well.” Her laptop beeped indicating an email.

“I’d better get started on that translation.  It’s a much older text than what I have done before so it should be pretty interesting.”  Amber took the plates off the table and quickly washed them up, dried them and put them away.  She returned to the table and sat down, pen, paper and laptop beside her.  At some point, Robert must have said goodbye to her, but she was too engrossed in the translation to notice.

Amber closed her laptop, stretched her back out and stood.  A car pulled up and she recognised the sound of Maverick’s motor.  The car door slammed and she heard his boots on the new veranda steps.

She stood and opened the door, wondering why Maverick would come around so late at night.

For us to live

Around the world

Our quest for water

Leaves barren landscapes

And ghost trees

A once green valley

Lies filled with water

Dead trees stand

Evoking a sadness

Their life for water

For us to live

via Daily Prompt: Evoke