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Bend, Don’t Break

For her challenge Amy had the following prompts to choose from…

Erika-  Get out at the breaking point
Wendy- One time, when I was a gypsy…
Cameron- My dog, he don’t like tuna
Jen- Chinatown springtime lychee tea

She chose “Get out at the breaking point.”

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Shelly wheels her cart through the vegetable aisle, one eye scrutinizing the papayas, the other eye fixed upon her toddler sitting in the back basket. In his lap is an open, unpaid box of animal crackers, his small sausage fingers engaged in the journey from box to mouth. A frown crosses Shelly’s face because the box is almost empty and quickly losing its entertainment value. And she hasn’t even been in the store for ten minutes.

She wipes a bead of sweat from her forehead. Her nine-month old baby sucks on a bright red pacifier and wobbles in the chair, in spite of the buckled belt. She has carefully timed this visit, after the park, between naps, before lunchtime, calculating 10:40-11:10 as the best time to grocery shop. Another ten minutes to get them home before microwaving some macaroni and cheese and then, hopefully, naptime and please, please, please a glorious hour (or two!) of peace and quiet.

Turning to grab a bunch of bananas, Shelly hears the baby cry and whipping around sees her older son standing in the cart, the last few animal crackers falling onto the floor through the grates. He’s holding the shoulders of his baby brother who has propelled the pacifier across the aisle towards the broccoli. It hits a menopausal woman, who stares darts of disapproval. The cry is now becoming a rebel yell, the baby spine twisted in a backbend only capable of youth and acrobats. The toddler is climbing out of the cart, sending it wheeling. Shelly screeches and dives for the cart, one hand on the baby, one hand on the toddler, and safely secures all three.

“MOM! DAVEY DROPPED HIS BINKY, ” screams the toddler, his burgeoning language skills mastering the obvious.  Shelly considers kicking off her flip-flop to grab the pacifier with her toes, but realizes the broccoli might never be the same.  She lifts her three year-old and plants him back on his bottom in the basket, eliciting a high-pitched protest from him. Now both kids are screaming.

Shelley looks straight ahead, plucks the pacifier from the broccoli and avoiding all eye contact, steers the cart to the candy aisle. Out of the corner of her eye she sees the irritated woman from the broccoli section walking towards her and she speeds up, the kids swerving in their seats.

Seconds later there’s an unpaid lollipop in each boy’s mouth. She heads to the dairy section.

Today she might not be earning a gold star for mothering skills, but gosh darn it if she isn’t going to make it to naptime.

Amy is a proud member of the BBB’s and is seeking representation of her middle grade novel Tunnels & Traitors. She’s currently working on another middle grade, The Renaming of Hubert Humphrey Lee. Check out her blog Sunny Spells at amymoellering.wordpress.com.