The little men by om, p.1
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       The Little Men, by OM, p.1

           matthew lewis
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The Little Men, by OM
Little Men, By OM

  Copyright 2013 Matthew Lewis

  Part 1


  The sun was especially brilliant and the skyline exquisite, the establishment of daybreak bounding off rooftops and accenting armadas of trees. Birds could be heard for miles, chirping freely in their sing-song manner, dew spiderwebbing buildings and swallowing vast oceans of grass, the filament of the morning alit.

  Clocks started buzzing as a once-paused axis began turning, the world slowly building up momentum. People rose and people dressed, some finding their ways to tables saturated in cereal and conversation, surrounded by loved ones as they prepared for the day's maiden voyage. Others found themselves soaking up the radiance alone, coffees poured and papers unfurling, a new day's happenstance dawning.

  At the house on Seventh Street, beyond the edge of Pine, the most gorgeous light display imaginable still peeked around the corner, looking for anyone still interested in plastic reindeer and ten thousand watt Santas, many feeling privileged to see them at night but forgetting it as the morning dawned. So many going out of their way to observe the spectacle, possibly embracing loved ones while watching the lights dance to Beethoven, coming down with a touch of the Christmas spirit, content in the feeling that there truly are brighter tomorrows out there.

  Most of the street stirred, going about the business of reanimation, greeting the halo of warmth fondly.

  Not everyone found the daylight alluring, not at seven o'clock in the morning. Some curtains were still tightly pulled with air conditioning still humming, taking refuge in the last bastion of the weary, currently hunting sleep.

  Martha Rigsby was one such person, not particularly fond of the chattering of birds or the beauty revealed by sunlight, trying to squeeze in a few extra hours of rest before rejoining the daily grind.

  She was still on the verge of collapse, her days spent helping the elderly, a shortage of qualified nurses mingling with the ever-increasing demands placed on her by the workplace, making it feel as though there would never be another day's peace. It had been sixty-five straight days and counting since she had taken a day's rest, and that combined with the demands of family was slowly wearing her down.

  At eight o'clock the night before, Martha had started drifting and, by ten, she was sound asleep, dreaming the dreams of the just. She didn't wake when her neighbor started mowing at five in the morning and she managed to sleep through the various shouts outside and channel changing in the living room. She had worked her pillows into a makeshift barrier, blocking out intrusion through well-placed insulation, finding the darkness calming.

  If she could have managed it, she would have stayed in bed well past noon.

  At seven she was still resting in that hazy cocoon crafted when two or more blankets come together, when she felt that familiar tug at her feet, the covers slowly beginning to slip to the floor.

  "Come on..It's my day off." She half-whimpered and half-pleaded, hoping this would perhaps work for once in her life. It did not seem to faze anyone normally, but there was always a first time for everything.

  "Let me have a few more minutes at least."

  A whimpering voice, sighing a diminutive sigh, responded to her pleas, doing its best to pull at her heartstrings.

  "But mom, you said we'd get one today. You promised, even!"

  Martha felt the covers slowly drift to one side as the bed lowered slightly, springs squeaking their tired squeal as the body of her eight-year-old son wormed its way between the sheets. She could feel the tiny booties of his one-piece superhero pajamas on her calf as the little figure curled up behind her, and something about the proximity and it being her child made her suddenly feel like smiling. Deep down, she felt at ease for the first time in months.

  Being a single parent with a growing child; those were the breaks sometimes and you just rolled with it. If you did not find something to embrace within even the most miniscule of interactions, you would more than likely go mad thinking of all the things you planned that went suddenly awry.

  Hot breath pressed in close, peeking over the ridges of the comforter, warming her nose and forehead. Morning breath and chocolate; he had been eating sweets before coming up the stairs to wake her.


  Martha thought back on the day before and she did remember, if somewhat vaguely, making a promise to him. The two had been sitting around, playing a little Monopoly before bed, the television boring and most shows lacking kid appropriateness. He had been looking at her sadly, his big eyes blazing the clearest blue as she asked him if he had anything he wanted to do tomorrow. He missed her and she missed him, the world of the working class no place for breeding emotions.

  "Anything?" he asked, peering up at her, that look a gem unto itself.

  How could she say anything else but "sure."

  She was thinking the indoor amusement park, by the old skating rink, or maybe the reptile exhibit at the zoo or even the aquarium. Maybe bowling; they had not gone in quite some time and he loved rolling the ball with the bumpers up, always scoring strikes.

  "I want to go to the store and get.."

  The store. Yes, she remembered now.

  Yawning, perhaps despising herself a little for making the promise in the first place, recalling the setting, her word her bond. At least to her child it was anyway. She was trying to teach him social responsibility.

  Martha rose and stretched, planting a kiss on his wrinkled brow, readying herself for another day with no way to switch it to "resting."

  It took a little more time than usual to find something she wanted to wear and to take her shower, making certain her attire reflected the mantra "this is not a work day" before climbing into the tub. She let the warm water soothe her and the silken robe caress her, her clothes fitting loosely, like some type of oversized glove, unlike the scrubs she was normally forced to choose.

  She might not get another day to spend with her son for a while and wanted to feel relaxed while trying to cut through the mob scene that was bound to be out there, waiting. There was no way it would be anything less, not at this time of year.

  God, she despised holidays.

  Martha had seen the advertisements on television and she'd heard about the aftermath of Black Friday as the holidays loomed dauntingly close, reprimanding herself for not shopping sooner.

  "Ten trampled in a bid to get the newest thing on the market, so hot that retailers cannot keep it on the shelves. It seems crazy, the lengths we go to so our children's holiday wishes will come true, because we know how our children love their new toys. This year is no exception, with people lining up just so they can perhaps get a chance to fulfill those last minute Christmas wishes. We're standing here, live, looking at the madness that comes with a brand new holiday. I'm Patricia Singer for News Channel Seven, coming to you live from..."

  Martha turned the television off, disgusted by what she saw. The throngs of people trampling one another, all for discount merchandise and inanimate objects, perpetuated by the myth of holiday wishes.


  She hated that word, how it spoonfed her child advertisements of "the new and the happening" during his afternoons, grooming him for mindless consumption as he watched cartoons and played videogames.

  Normally she encouraged other activities but could not now, because her backyard was currently too damp to allow him to make use of, the creek the kids like to play in likened to a deathtrap this time of year.

  Sure, she let him play outside in ten to twenty minute increments and sure, she allowed him to make snowmen and forts and play all types of games in the mush. What did he have to do the rest of the time, when he was sitting around, bored? Was he supposed to twiddle his thu
mbs and long for school more than a child his age already does?

  He liked to read and enjoyed learning but he was just a child, and his ABCs and easy reader books didn't consume armadas of time.

  She supposed she could let him loose inside, but she knew he would trash their home and she did not have the time to clean or the money to hire a maid.

  Watching him now, seated at the table, cereal bowl at the ready, attention affixed to a comic as he flipped pages with one hand and cradled silverware in the other. Why couldn't her little cutie remain a little cutie forever?

  "So, we going to Wal-Mart today or what?" She asked Robert, who replied with a veracious nod.

  "Alright, let's get ready then."

  Spoonfuls of cereal began piling in quickly as he flew through his breakfast, metal flashing rapidly from bowl to mouth, Martha knowing no matter what she said that he would now be on the warpath. He didn't just want his something, he NEEDED it, intent on ownership today.

  It took around twenty minutes to finish eating, another ten to clear the table, and fifteen more to make certain everything was ready. Another ten was spent making certain he showered and five on grooming, then a dozen more on dressing and he was prepared to pound the proverbial pavement.

  She went through the motions, making certain the alarm was ready to be switched on when they walked outside and that she had her spare set of keys, mace and action whistle in her bag, his asthma breather in her purse. The list was so tedious and overwhelming, but she feared going out sometimes because of all the bad things in the world. Even ADT didn't make her feel completely safe, not with her little man at risk.

  "You know it's going to be cold outside, sweetie, so grab your coat. We don't want you getting a chill before we get you and that new little toy home, do we?"

  Robert smiled, grabbing his favorite coat, reminiscent of the one on the frozen fish sticks box, doing a dance around her.

  "Can we leave now, PLEASE?"

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