What is mathemafiction?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January drabbles - 31

Just to get you in the mood for February...

God made light in a dull gray sky, so they say. He made rain drip from weary clouds, then plants that grew till the dusty heavens turned blue. Next came moon and stars and sun, and life on earth begun. Fish filled the sea and birds spilled upwards, swimming into sky. Finally animals crawled on land; dinosaurs, mammals, and man.

They tell me man was the final thing he made, but I think perhaps God was saving the best till last. When everything else was finished, and there was a world of cleaning to do, then God made woman too.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January drabbles - 30

Mom shook the ketchup-bottle too hard. Their first chance to build bridges over worlds of disagreement, and she was blowing it. Even as it happened she knew, wished she could stay her hand. But gooey red sprayed Amy’s smart white blouse like blood-splatters. Her face turned pale.

The waiter, waving flags of surrender, rushed in too late to help. Dark streaks had splattered Amy’s right sock, so thin and brittle on the empty trouser-leg. Was that how the wound had first appeared in its noisome battle-torn blossom?

“You never wanted me to go.”
“My love, I’m just glad you’re home.”

Friday, January 29, 2010

January drabbles - 29

“Windy outside,” they said.
Sweet dog gazed eagerly through glass. Outside the window was where he wanted to be.
“Windy outside,” but it wasn’t the wind. Claws and eyes and stripes and a tail hid in that tree, pushing branches aside and taunting him.
“Windy outside.”
“Someone let the dog out.”
So they set him free. Then wild and fast he chased that stranger from the tree, dried leaves crinkling to dust beneath paws, dried dust flying up in the air.
“Windy outside.”
“Someone let the dog back in.”
Nobody knew. Nobody but him. But he’d saved the house again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January drabbles - 28

“Right, let’s get everything out on the table,” said Jen.

Mac, ever faithful, emptied his pockets of new pencils and ancient cracker crumbs.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I’m looking for something; sure I’ve got some sense in here.”

“What?” Jen shared a smile with the others. “Mac’s got sense?”

Then he counted it, a dollar and thirty in change. “Everyone has coins in their pockets,” Mac said. “Just look what goes into the trays at airport security.”


“So I hang around insecurely and acquire a few donations. We’ll be fine.”

“He could be right.”

“Or we’ll be fined.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January drabbles - 27

It was morning — time for her friends to call. Silver tapped the window. His head as bright as hers, he was always a delight. The reverend’s stiff white collar looked tattered round the edges, and Armless ‘Arry stumbled into Jed with the crooked leg. She fed them all.

“Keep the noise down. Dirty creatures,” shouted the neighbor from downstairs. “One day. One day.”

It was a threat, probably, but she smiled back, thinking “One day, one day.”

And one day Jed did what birds do, all over the neighbor’s smart shoulder, but it wasn’t her fault. “Here Jed. More bread?”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January drabbles - 26

“Does he love me, d’you suppose?”
“Why d’you care?”
“Sister, I’m going to marry for love.”
“As if anyone knows.”
“Mother does.”

“You really think our mother married for love?”
“Yes. It’s in her eyes; she and Daddy; the way they smile.”
“But smiles can lie.”

“Is he here yet sister? I thought I heard his carriage.”
“He’s talking to Daddy.”
“What will he say?”

“Is he smiling sister? D’you suppose they were talking ‘bout marriage.”
“I expect.”
“Hurray! What shall I say?”

“Did he love me, d’you suppose? I wanted to marry for love.”
“Silly girl. He loves me.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

January drabbles - 25

“Lucky in cards – unlucky in love,” her grandma said. So Kathy, longing to be lucky in love, learned to mistrust every other type of good fortune.

When offered full-ride scholarships to famous universities, Kathy chose community college instead. When offered a place at her first-choice high-paid job, she decided to stay on as a check-out girl. But when the failed financial analyst proposed, Kathy mistook his bad luck for good-heartedness.

Kathy’s husband blamed Kathy for his poverty every day till he won the lotto. Then, mistrusting good fortune’s wiles, Kathy buried spouse and ticket together, and enrolled in poker school.

January drabbles - 24

Mornings grow lighter now that winter’s passed. She lifts her head by fading moon and sees how shapes match scent and sound at last; no more bright shining orb she howled at loudly through the night.

The owner clips the leash and leads her out. New growth’s sweet green and dew-tipped mud slip soft between her toes while squirrels hide and birds glide merrily. Her fellows prance and sniff delightedly.

“Home now,” the owners cry and lead her back. Inside she shakes the water from her fur, lies on the sofa where she’ll sleep again, till night, till their return.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January drabbles - 23

“Sit down. Shake hands and start your clocks.”

The girl set her king’s pawn down, commanding the battle-field’s central space, and the boy copied her. She sent a bishop to spy on him, unsafe in front of the lines. Then he sent his to watch.

Next came the queen, the mother-ship. No way you stick your biggest guns in front with no one to defend them. “Silly girl!” he thought. But her sword was pointing at his king. A mighty horseman leapt into the fray, chased her away…

…and it was check-mate.

“What went wrong?”

“You forgot to keep safe.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

January drabbles - 22

At the start of the dream we overflew a shining white-washed world. It was that winter of 09, the Big Freeze when cynics still thought exceptions overruled investigation—no warming ‘cause it’s cold; no science—someone cheated; no global ’cause local’s what’s seen. Dutch wept as water-levels rose, time passing, science amassing too much of what no-one had listened to before. The ocean’s maw gaped wider, swallowing all in unfathomable blue and the burning sun came out.

At the end of the dream we landed on Ararat, made sacrifice of animals from the ark, sang long hallelujahs, and started over.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January drabbles - 21

He dreamed wheels within wheels and wind and fire, the earth four-cornered standing by with lion-eyes of flame, eagle for air; with solid ox-trod ground and man that swam in cool of water’s seeming. Wings of lightning shone; beneath, the earth like bronze; he dreamed its jeweled colors, eyes all-seeing, spirit-born, and from the dome of heaven heard the Lord.

He dreamed of God on sapphire throne with earth-toned amber robe. Flames flowed around, and water’s gleaming rainbow made a crown. And he fell down.

He dreamed, there, more than eyes can see and more than words can tell: Ezekiel

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January drabbles - 20

I dreamed the world as fire, the sun so hot it burns my eyes to blindness; then I woke.
I dreamed the world as water, torn by waves; I’ll find no silence; then I woke.
I dreamed the wind as ashes blown, its breath the empty taste of bones and death;
I dreamed the barren graveyard rock where time has trod; I wept and woke.
I dreamed the smell of sulfur and despair, dreamed sorrow there.
But in the end I dreamed salvation’s promise, freely giving, freely given
And if we freely might forgive I’ll dream this earth be heaven.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January drabbles - 19

“I dreamed I could fly,” the old man said, then spread his wings and vanished into the sky.

“I dreamed I was rich,” said the duchess, caressing diamonds and emeralds.

“I had a dream,” said the dancer who’d lost her legs long ago to disease. She bowed to the crowd and pirouetted with ease.

“I had a dream,” the professor said, stepping boldly to the computer.
“Me too,” said the cook with the glorious cake.
“Me too,” said the gardener, leaning on his rake.

Gemma shook herself awake, laid out their pills and dispensed them with love and warm tea.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January drabbles - 18

I have a dream that the sun will shine but all around it’s raining.
I have a dream, water into wine, but the muddy ground’s blood-staining.
There's a wiser dream; five-thousand feed from loaves and fishes three;
Five-thousand plead and the fortunate few supply them with all they need.
I have a dream but the wine’s untrue and the hour grows late until
The great divide, growing deep and wide, devours the dreamer. Will
We watch while the falling world descends or will we dream as well?
I have a dream of a nightmare’s end and time alone will tell.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January drabbles - 17

“I had a dream,” said the brother, the pain.
“What sort of dream?” asked his Mom.
“I dreamed that you and Dad and all the brothers bowed down to me.”
His brothers beat him up.

“I had a dream,” said the brother, the pain.
“What sort of dream?”
“That everyone’s sheaves of corn bowed down to mine.”
His brothers beat him up.

“I had a dream,” said the brother, the pain, but the others didn’t wait; they sold him as a slave.

“I had a dream,” said the brother in jail, and God gave him promises and a future instead.

January drabbles - 16

“I had a dream.” Mary’s trembling hand was soothed by cat’s smooth fur. She watched the prickly tongue groom kitten-fuzz. Then mother cat rose up and stretched, arched back, electric eyes, and stalked away. The kittens mewled, but mother dog was swift to take her place.

The dog nudged softly, lifted kittens up in sharp-toothed jaws. She bore them safe across the floor to lay and sweetly rest between her paws. No sign of wars.

“You know most cats and dogs aren’t such good friends?” said Mary’s mother.

“Only the best.” But Mary’s dream had another, sadly different, human end.

Friday, January 15, 2010

January drabbles - 15

“I had a dream.”
“What sort of dream?”
“A bad one.”
“Tell me more.”

“I dreamed that Dad stayed home all day.”
“That’s good.”
“But he was ill so no one paid him.”
“Not so good.”
“Then I got sick and pretended to be okay.”
“Really?” Mom sounded disbelieving.

“Then everyone got sick, and everyone died, ‘cause there was no one left alive to drive them all to the doctors.”
“What a very bad dream.”
“Yes Mom,” said the little boy looking tragic and brave. “And now my throat’s so sore so please can I stay home from school today.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January drabbles - 14

“I had a dream,” said the child.
“What sort?”
“A bad one.”

"I dreamed that people were red white and blue, but the green ones were always in charge. I dreamed that hair was black white and gray, and eyes were sky-blue pink — even knew what it looked like — with polka-dot borders. But if you didn’t have polka-dots no-one ever listened to you, and you never got green.”

“It was only a dream; go to sleep,” said the mother.
So the child went to sleep and Mom read the news where the green ones told her what to do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January drabbles - 13

“You must be psychic, Kat.” Her mother answered the phone.
“Well, how could you know I was thinking of you?”
“Aren’t you always?” Kat asked lightly. “Admit it Mum.”
“Nearly always. That’s true.”

“So, what were you thinking?” Slow words into silence.
“You needed to talk.”
“Don’t I always?” Quick words into thought.
“Nearly always. That’s true.”

“Let’s keep in touch better,” said Kat, forgetting what she’d called to ask.
Her mother laughed. “Let’s call each more often than every blue moon?”
“Try white moons.”
“And slivers of moon, all the time.”
“Nearly always.” And better than true.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January drabbles - 12

“I didn’t mean it Mom.”
“I know.”
“I didn’t mean to run too fast
And break the glass
And trip and fall
And knock the tallest cupboard -
All the pretty plates fell down.”
“I know.”
“So why you frowning Mom?”
“It’s not a frown; a falling smile.”
“Can I catch it, please?”
“In a while.”

“I didn’t mean it Mom.”
“I know.”
“I didn’t mean to get home late
And break your heart.”
But fractured love-lines mend.
“In the end.”

“I didn’t mean it Mom.
I love you Mom,”
With smiles and love and mending meant,
Eternal and worthwhile.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January drabbles - 11

In spring the ground was a carpet of green. “Don’t walk on the flowers,” said his mother, and he didn’t; didn’t mean to.

In summer the brown grass needled his feet. “But I did wear shoes.” He picked the spikes from his toes, left them loose in the carpet. “Not me,” he said.

Fall’s leaves were red and gold like fragile dreams, and slippery. He wasn’t running, he told her, when he fell to the ground.

And now a blanket of winter’s white lies heavy, smothering sound. The boy shivers, but didn’t build snowmen without his coat on. “Honest, Mom.”

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January drabbles - 10

Mom thought he was with Dad; twelve years old, too big to sit and listen to women’s chat.

Dad thought he was still with Mom; pretended he was all grown up, but too young for serious matters and fatherly talk about death and taxes.

The boy’s young friends knew he’d gone away to hang with the teenagers now. And the teens didn’t care; not their job to look after kids.

When they met for dinner and he wasn’t there, they sent search parties out to find him; all because he’d decided to stay behind; all because no-one listened; no-one knew.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January drabbles - 9

The space-ship was flying too close to the black hole. Observers gathered round. Mission Control were calling, “Pull back, pull back,” but the ship didn’t turn. “What’s wrong with them?”

“We’re cutting it fine,” said the First Officer.
“Very fine.”
“Just go with the plan.”

Captain Nemo leaned over his screen; he’d never seen such glory. Science officers gawped at data, space at its rawest frontier.

“Cutting it too fine maybe sir.”
“Okay, we’ll turn around now.”

But forever and forever and forever they’re turning still, and it’s always now.

The observers sighed, “Too late,” and called for further volunteers.

Friday, January 8, 2010

January drabbles - 8

In the beginning there was nothing. Empty blackness loomed through glass-packed windowpanes. Formless shapes made shadows in the gray. Then there was rain.

Howling wind sent tree-branches tap-tapping on the glass, while thunder rolled and lightning lit the sky. Small errant spider slipped inside, sliding on dripped condensation. Then little boy, round-eyed, afraid, stared scared at his reflection, frightened of storms. He heard the fluttering canary splutter its song; rattle of cat-claws, sharp-honed danger raking against its cage. Then, pad-pad-padding, tiny kitten mewled and lay in his lap.

In the end, small mammal comforted small man. Mom closed the blinds.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January drabbles - 7

“If at first you don’t succeed” his teacher said, rapping his wrist with a ruler less sharp than words. Today warm tears bleed memory, while ocean currents swirl around his skin.

Thoughts press in. “Use a needle. Lance the boil.” He sees his mother’s helpful smile—his whole life now before him—tries again.

You’ll find a needle in a haystack, he thinks, my life’s direction perhaps, if winter’s storm can blow away the chaff. “Keep trying,” he cries.

And though he’d thought to lose his life, he chooses not to die, then swims himself ashore against the tide.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January drabbles - 6

Alicia-May banished her husband to the garage one day. Dark engine parts in the kitchen sink had torn their marriage apart, and broken her heart.

Amicable separation ensued for a while, till kitchen implements began to disappear, causing Alicia to beg her erstwhile spouse to investigate. Two mixing bowls, a wooden spoon, three saucepans and a box of tableware being found on the garage workbench, Alicia-May was banished back to the kitchen.

Combining New Year’s resolutions then, the couple removed the wall between garage and house. Now sink and bench live happily together, as do Alicia-May and her wonderful spouse.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January drabbles - 5

Clarabel wanted to be good. She tried to be good. She waited as long as she possibly could before chasing her brother. And even that was only because she had to.

Clarabel gave her word last time to never be naughty again. She resolved, with deep green sorrowful eyes, to make her brother good too. But now dear Clarence was climbing curtains, she had to break her word, one way or the other.

“Clarabel cat, come down,” said Mom. “Bad kittens. Both of you.”

Both promises broken, Clarabel cried sad tears from deep green eyes, and tried harder next time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

January drabbles - 4

“Mom, what’s revolutions?”
“It’s like when a wheel turns around.”
“No, that’s not it. Dad, what’s revolutions?”
“It’s like when part of a country goes to war.”
“That’s not it either. Grandma, what’s revolutions?”
“It’s a Beatles record.”
“What beetles? What’s a record? I don’t like insects.”

Big sister knew enough to ask what sort of revolutions.
“Like what everyone’s talking about new years?”
“New Year resolutions?” asked Big Sister.
Little Brother said “Yeah.”

“Resolutions, they’re like promises to yourself,” said Mom.
“Like things you really want to do,” said Dad.
And Grandma sang, “She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January drabbles - 3

“Daddy, what does it mean if I wish on a star?”
“Means you’re wishing really hard.”
“Can stars make wishes come true?”
“Nope. That’s up to you.”
“So why…?”
“…because stars remind you what you wished for and that makes you try.”

“Daddy, why’re you lighting candles in church?”
“Means I’m praying for something I really care about.”
“Does God make prayers come true?”
“I think He does.”
“And do candles remind Him, like stars?”
“It’s us need reminding.”
“Reminding of what?”
“That He cares too.”

“Daddy, what if your prayer-candles go out?”
“That’s when God lights star-candles in heaven.”

Saturday, January 2, 2010

January drabbles - 2

It didn’t take long for Alice to spoil her party-dress. She spilled gravy on Christmas Day, splashed yellow paints, got dripped on from Daddy’s wine-glass when she ran into him, then slipped in the mud.

Poor Alice cried on New Year’s Eve; Mommy had washed her pretty dress, but it came out blotchy and wrong. Now she had nothing to wear.

Alice slept sadly that night while her mother sewed. In the morning the dress was beautiful again, brown roots and branches embroidered on the gravy-stain, buttercups and daisies growing round a bright red rose. “Thank you Mommy,” Alice said.

Friday, January 1, 2010

January drabbles - 1

Daniel wished he had a brother. All the lucky boys had them; big brothers to help; little brothers to make them feel big.

Grandma wished she wasn’t ill. She wanted to watch her children and grandchildren grow, but couldn’t even cook dinner for her youngest son.

Mom wished life was less complicated.

When Grandma died, Mom cooked and took in her brother like a child of her own. So Daniel got his wish; Uncle Brother was fun. And Grandma looked down from heaven and got hers too.

As for Mom: “No foolproof wishes,” she said, and “No fools here either.”