SOCS & MLMM: Anger Management

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Written in response to the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt trail/trial and Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Double Take challenge using the homophone paced/paste and rap/wrap. (With apologies for taking liberties with the tenses!)

“Oh, deary me!” Colin shook his head. “You ain’t hitting the sweet spot today, darling. Time of the month, is it?”

Lacey shot him a sour look, which he cheerfully ignored.

“What if I put some glue on the tips? Maybe then they would stick to the target and not bounce off into the undergrowth.”

“Very funny,” said Lacey, through gritted teeth. “Just show me the technique again.”

“No point. The state you’re in, you couldn’t hit a barn door at twenty paces. With or without a dollop of sticky paste.”

“I just need more time to practise.” Lacey did her best to keep her voice calm and the bubbling rage from pouring out of her like malevolent lava.

“You need more than practice. How many times do I have to tell you to focus?”

“Too many,” spat Lacey.

“Not enough.” Colin rapped her on the forehead with his swagger stick. “Now, follow me.” He headed up the trail towards the isolation hut.

She groaned. This meant another twenty-four hours trying to guess the answers to the dumbass riddles he set. And licking the dew off the walls because Colin didn’t allow food and water during that trial.

“I’ve passed the enigma test,” Lacey reminded him.

“Which’ll make it easier for you second time around.”

“Sod off, Colin,” she roared. “I refuse to be sent back to first grade.”

“Rules are rules, Lacey. Each failure takes you back to the beginning. And if you can’t channel your physical energy, you need to work on opening the mental ones again.”

Lacey growled. She was beyond anger now. A red haze descended as she stooped to pick up a handful of the throwing stars. The first one caught him on the backside, the second embedded itself in his breastplate as he turned around, and the third hit his helmet with a satisfying clang.

She cringed as he ran at her, but rather than a punch, he wrapped her in his arms and spun her around.

“Well done, my lovely. I knew you’d get there in the end.” He put her down on shaking legs. “Come on, let’s go to the armoury and try you with the crossbow.”

Free as a Bird

Image Credit: Pobble365

Short fiction inspired by MLMM Photo Challenge #382

“I’m an earth sign,” I said, halfway through our second session, and the first time I’d volunteered information. So far, I’d sat in Trappist mode, occasionally grunting responses to her probing questions until Nerys narrowed her eyes and cracked my carapace.

“If you won’t talk to me, Jane, how can I help you?”

I shrugged. Even I was getting annoyed with my pig impersonations.

“There is nothing you can say that will shock me. I will listen to everything, no matter how worthless or trivial you think it is. We don’t need to talk about what’s troubling you. For instance, what’s your star sign?”

Pretty innocuous, I thought. We could spend the rest of the time cosily discussing my horoscope.

“Taurus,” I mumbled. Then added the fact I was also an earth sign.

“Interesting.” She made a note on her pad. “What does being an Earth-Taurean mean to you?”

I swear I saw the word bullish forming in her mind, which put me on the defensive. So I opened my mouth, intending to give her some drivel about having a practical nature, but out came a torrent of words.

“I need to be grounded, but I’m drifting through the river of life with no apparent purpose. Stuck between stepping-stones with no land in sight, and I’m not comfortable in water, I need the support and security of solid land. I realise I should try to move, but I am too scared because I can’t pull myself together. After Tim left, I sorted out the house and found somewhere to live with no problem. But trying not to worry about money and fear of what the future will bring is crippling me.”

I ran out of steam, and a big fat silence descended and tried to mop up the spillage. Nerys let it clear some of the debris away before she spoke.

“How do you see your life at the moment?”

“In what way?” I am so suspicious these days; the simple offer of a cup of tea makes me question people’s motives.

“Is life a burden?”

I gave no answer.

“Do you feel trapped?”

The verbal volcano bubbled up again. I seem to have no control over my life or my mouth these days.

“There’s a book, which I’ve never read, by Maya Angelou. I don’t know what the story is about, but I have a theory of why the caged bird sings. The poor sod is bored, trapped behind bars, with life slipping away. It doesn’t matter if the cage door is open because the bird is too frightened to leave.

“All she does is sing of places she will never visit and of things she will never do. Her body is captive, and only her spirit free to roam.

“But I’ve trapped my mind and forgotten how to sing. If I can get my voice back, then I’ll have the strength to break out of this prison I’ve locked myself in.”

Nerys was staring at me in, I like to think, wonder, rather than fear. “That was very eloquent, but I’m afraid we must end today’s session. I’m sorry to stop now, but I have another client due. However, this is an excellent start. We’ve made such progress today.”

“We have?” I said, sounding for all the world like someone fishing for compliments.

“Yes.” Nerys nodded. “And next time, we can talk some more. You will be here, won’t you?”

“You bet your life I will, Nerys.” I smiled at her for the first time. Maybe I wasn’t ready to sing, but I could try humming.