I bought a set of stamps, and my friend asked me to write her a short story inspired by the the people depicted on them. Here is that story:
The rooster shifted uncomfortably in her grip, straining its feathery body with all its might against the little girl’s hands.
“I wish I had wings like you, Mr. Nuggets. Then, I’d fly all the way up to the tip top of the Ferris wheel,” said Sally, tightening her stranglehold around the rooster, its ruffled plumage bursting through her fingers. “But Ma and Pa never let me have any fun. They’re so suffocating.”
Mr. Nuggets was Sally’s favorite. Of all the animals, he was the only one who talked back whenever she mistreated them. He reminded Sally of a young her. Compared to Señorita Birria and Chairman Char Siu, Mr. Nuggets was also the only critter small enough whom she could wrap her tiny child hands around.
Sally felt the gentle summer breeze on her face. She watched as it batted around the colorful balloons clutched by more fortunate children and their actually-loving parents. She wished she had a balloon. And love. Sally’s vice-like grip around Mr. Nuggets constricted further.
The zephyr ferried the smell of candied apples and cherry pie from the confection stand across the way straight to Sally’s yearning nostrils. It was a cruel reminder of the bland, uninspired ennui she resented to call life .
“Sally, honey. Please don’t sit up on the fence like that. If you fall off, you might hurt yourself,” said Ma.
What a despot. “Isn’t this America?” Sally thought. Free country her ass. Sally perched even higher on the fence, its rickety wooden posts creaking under her weight as she craned to get a better glimpse of the fairgrounds.
She glared jealously as her gleeful peers rode up and down on the carousel horses, their bouncing adolescent smiles like full-grown daggers stabbing in and out of her heart. Oh what she wouldn’t give to trade places with one of those lucky bastards. What a thrill it would be to ride the carousel around and around as its playful melodies danced upon her ears; or to circumnavigate the swaying Ferris wheel from ground to zenith and back down again; or even to hitch a joyride on the farmer’s tractor, swerving donuts in the open grass. Circles and circles and circles. It was all Sally could think about. Because really, how different were any of these activities from her dreary reality, going in circles, spinning her wheels in the muddy slog of her dead-end childhood?
“Sweetie, can you come help Daddy with this watermelon please?” begged Pa, Sally’s pathetic excuse for a dad. “I promise we’ll take you to the fair after we unload all this fruit.”
What kind of man asks an eight-year-old for help receiving large competition fruit? Sally could see Pa’s weak twiggy arms tremble under the weight of the prize watermelon. Granted Pa had sustained injuries serving in the war which rendered his body much less capable than before. But that was his problem, not Sally’s.
All her parents did all day was pass fruit to one another while the other parents accompanied their kids to attractions and bought them whatever sweets they wanted. Sally wished she was a big fruit, so that her parents would pass her to some other family.
Sure, they worked day and night to put food on the table and a roof overhead. And yes, they cared for her and accepted her for who she was – a brat – and supported her in her endeavors – complaining and acting abhorrently. But did they take Sally around the fair to waste money trying to win cheap stuffed animals at rigged carnival games? No. Couldn’t Ma and Pa think about her and what she wanted? If Sally could do just that literally all the time, they could bother to too.
Sally defiantly climbed up and stood precariously atop the fence post. Holding Mr. Nuggets high above her head, Sally closed her eyes and shouted to the heavens, “I hate you!”
Ma admonished her, “Sally Mae! What are you doing?! Get down from there, and give us a hand!”
Sally remained obstinate. She reviled her parents more than anything, them and they’re demands, them and they’re damn matching overalls. What good were overalls anyway other than to make her look like a fucking hick in front of the other children? She’d rather run around the fair naked than wear those overalls; her shoulders longed to break free from the light pressure of those oppressive suspenders.
“This one’s…really…heavy,” whined Pa, his pansy-ass back arching under the weight of a particularly large watermelon. “Sally…please….help.”
“You want help? I’ll give you help!”
With all her strength, Sally heaved Mr. Nugget right at her father, the fowl hitting him square in the chest. The impact caused Pa to collapse to the ground like a rotten table leg, the full weight of the 120 lb. watermelon crashing down on Pa’s head and smashing it in a bloody heap. Red flesh flung outward all over the vicinity. As Sally laid eyes on the sticky havoc she had wrought, she could not tell where Pa began and where the watermelon ended.
“Leonard!” shrieked Ma, like a bitch. Ma fainted at the sight of her husband’s mangled, lifeless body.
As Sally tried to decipher whether the taste on her lips was fruit or father, she was surprisingly thankful for her overalls which had absorbed much of the slathering, which had protected her favorite canary yellow shirt from being sullied. In that moment, Sally’s appreciation grew not only for her once-despised overalls but also for the once-despised grumps who made her wear them.
“I guess maybe Ma and Pa do know a thing or two,” Sally mumbled to herself,
It dawned on Sally that her prospects of experiencing the fair were now extremely slim with her father dead, her mother unconscious, and her looking at potentially two to four years in the joint for involuntary manslaughter.
Slouching to her knees, a foreign feeling overcame Sally. A newfound wetness graced her eyes. When Sally threw Mr. Nugget at Pa, she had no doubts and her aim was true. Then, she didn’t miss him, but now, she did.