It Leans

Hi folks,

It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted. I’ve been flooded with writing jobs lately, I’m revising one of my own books, and I’ve been sending out short fiction to journals, magazines, contests etc. etc. etc. So what I’m trying to say is this: sorry I’ve been silent here on the old blog.

Tonight I break my silence. The inspiration for the following fictional piece comes from a scrap of particle board I saw leaning against a road sign in my neighborhood. I picked the board up and snuck it into my trash a few weeks ago. For some reason, I’m not sure  what, I started thinking about that board as I was driving home yesterday. So as an exercise in creating symbolism, I wrote this:


It Leans

The board sits there leaning on the sign at the corner of Turkey Trot Lane and Red Fox Drive. A month or two ago it had appeared in that spot. The top of the board is jagged. There’s a screw sticking out of the bottom corner. thQ738M5EN

A month ago it looked old. “From a dresser?” a friend asked as I took the corner driving up Turkey Trot Lane. “Or a table,” I said.

It still looks old. But now it’s weathered and grey too. Maybe it’s been longer than a month or two. But I can’t remember when I first saw it.

Other cars pass the board. I watched a car pass it a day ago when I was walking up the hill. And cars driving in front of me—they pass it too.

Maybe the driver was thinking, the one driving in front of me yesterday, hey, someone should pick that up. Why doesn’t anyone pick that up? That never would’ve happened years ago. People leaving trash out on the road. No respect.

But he didn’t slow down. He didn’t stop.

Or maybe he didn’t see it at all. That’s more likely. He didn’t see it. Maybe he saw it a month or two ago when the board first showed up. But he doesn’t see it now. And, if I’m being honest, I don’t see it most days either. Today it caught my eye, but most days—

Anyway, I know I should pick it up. Some days, when I see it, I think to myself, just stop and pick it up. Put it in the dumpster. It’ll take a second—that’s it. It’ll only take a second. But then I take the turn up Turkey Trot and the board is gone. It’ll be there tomorrow, I think. Someone’ll get it.

So here I am today about to take the turn on Turkey Trot Lane. The board is there leaning against the sign. It leans there and I can’t help but make comparisons. It leans there like the dentist appointment I need to make. It leans there like some sad kid whose dad won’t come to see his baseball game. th10V2VGTBIt leans there like global warming or carbon emissions. Maybe it leans it there like that extra ten or twenty pounds we all wear on our gut. Or maybe—I could go on and on but I think that’s enough.

As I approach the turn I slow down. I notice the board leaning against the sign. I take the turn. It’ll be there tomorrow. Someone’ll get it.


Fictionalize it!: Part 2

Welcome back to my three-part series on fictionalizing every day experiences. Last week I wrote a short memoir-like story from an event that actually happened to me (more or less). If you haven’t read it, click this link: LINK. This week, I’ve taken that story and transformed it into a completely different genre with characters, a slightly different conflict, but the same basic theme. I also maintained a few of the objects and images. I chose to write this as a contemporary romance–the type where a thirty-something lady finds a new man but is still troubled by the death of her late husband. I always get a kick out of writing romance because its so easy, andth0H9BO0OV so painfully overwritten.  Check out the transformation:


The Keychain

“What the—”

Bella’s lips quivered as she stepped out into the moonlight to find his gaunt figure casting shadows—moon-shadows across the marble terrace.

“William…” She mumbled the words, and the words tumbled and tumbled across the terrace falling flat without ever reaching his deaf ears.

Emanations of pulsing pain reverberated out into the moonlight and she traced the origin of each pulsation to the core of his damaged being. “Will…” She began again as she looked down at her weathered white dress, but couldn’t say the rest of his name.

She took another step towards him. “I loved him too much,” she repeated. That was what she had said inside. That’s why he came out here.

“Just go inside,” he said. And after he spoke, after she heard his voice she couldn’t stay away. Not now. She ran to him and her hand found the pocket of his suit.

“That hand is not a hand,” he said as he routed it out of his suit pocket. “It’s rot. A growth. And if I let it stay, the disease of your hand will infect my thigh, and then—”

She reached in the pocket again and found his keys. That was what she had searched for the first time.

“Remember this?” she asked hysterical with tears forming in both eyes. “Remember?”

She held the keychain-picture of his partner in her hand. “Remember?”

The partner died, shot in chest years ago.

“I loved him too much,” she repeated. “That’s why.”

And there were tears in his eyes too. She wanted to touch his eyes. She wanted to know that the tears were real.

“Let’s put it back to how it was,” she said. “He’s gone. But we can put it back to how it was.”

She felt his heart beat against her hand, his hands still limp at his sides. “He’s a memory now. A memory.” And memories can’t be cared for—not with hands.


Fictionalize It!: Part 1

Howdy folks and folkettes,

This week I’m starting a three part series on fictionalizing every day experiences. Why? Well, because that’s what writers do and I think ya’ll might benefit from seeing how I take a real event or story and transform it into fiction. Let’s face it: fiction writers take their own experiences or experiences from others and turn them into stories. These things don’t come out of thin air.

So, to start it off, I’ve written a literary version of one of my own experiences, sticking to the actual event and experience as truthfully as possible. Next week, I’ll look back at the “real” version of the story and rewrite it by changing the setting, characters, narrator, plot structure, and genre. And then finally, I’ll invite you folks to submit your own fictionalized version of the story. So, here it is, the “real” version of the story.



“What the—”

I looked past the railing of the back deck to the little rock oak in the woods. On the ground beside the tree, I saw the weathered white of the birdfeeder. Dropping my kindle on the table next to the chair I got up, passed through the gate at the top of the stairs, walked through burned-up grass past the ugly hill of dirt and weeds and rock still there from when the yard was graded.20150809_190542_resized

“Too much damn seed,” I said out loud. Yea that’s right. I talk to myself when I’m alone. Who doesn’t?

I picked up the birdfeeder and thought of that time a year ago when the face board of the front porch rotted out because the bird seed fell in the crack between—well, the crack between the face board and the board behind it. I don’t know what that one’s called. Who cares.

“We’ll need to find a new place for it,” I had said to my wife. I swore and talked to myself as I routed out the rotten wood and filled it with epoxy.

“It’ll be better out there in the woods,” I had said when I came in from patching the hole. “I’ll attach one of those—what do you call ‘em, little arm things right to that tree.” I pointed through bathroom window.

“We won’t be able to see it then,” she had said.

I shook my head. “You’ll see it fine from the back deck. Unobstructed view. I’ll screw it right to the tree.”

And that’s what I did.

A year later I squatted beside the feeder next to the tree. I took off the top and dumped some seed on the ground. I hung it back up on the arm-thingy attached to the tree and walked back up to the back deck to my chair and my book.

An hour or so passed. My wife walked out and my daughter was napping. “Hey,” she said. “Hey. Look at him!”

She pointed towards the feeder. It was some yellow and black bird. I don’t know the name. But I wasn’t thinking of the name either. I thought of the screw in the tree and how some folks say it’s harmful. I thought of the wood rotting out on the front porch. I thought of all the destruction we cause in caring for things that don’t notice us. I looked up towards my smiling wife noticing the bird on the feeder. I looked back over at the bird.

It isn’t the bird, after all, that I’m caring for.


And that’s my story. Check me out next week for the rewrite.

Bad Writing Advice

We’ve all received bad writing advice at some point or another. Usually, the advice starts with one of the following: “always do this” or “never do that.” I actually work with someone who tells her students that they should “never use the word ‘that'”. Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows THAT I don’t believe in limiting our choices when it comes to expression. I think it’s best to know how and why certain words, literary techniques, literary devices, etc. are used so that we CAN use them when it’s appropriate or when it serves our artistic purposes. untitled (5)So, to help battle against all the bad advice out there, I’ve made a list of literary “TRUTHS” that aren’t actually–well, true. Here’s the list of bad advice:

  • Never use personal pronouns when you can use a characters name
  • Don’t end a sentence with the word “it”
  • Never use digression
  • Never use flashback
  • Every character should be well-developed
  • Never place a comma after a prepositional phrase when it begins a sentence and is under 5 words
  • Never use an oxford comma
  • Always use an oxford comma
  • Always use the word “and” before the last item in a list
  • Never use sentence fragments
  • Never use dialect
  • Spell everything “correctly”
  • Don’t use a “hard” period
  • Don’t write in short sentences
  • Don’t write in long sentences
  • Don’t ever use flowery language
  • Avoid using plain or simple language
  • Don’t be repetitive
  • Always describe your settings in detail, so the reader can see what it looks like
  • Don’t ever bore your reader by describing the setting. Let them picture it for themselves
  • Always attribute your dialogue so the reader knows who is speaking
  • And most importantly, don’t ever use the word “that”

Well, I hope this list is helpful, and the next time you hear someone sharing one of these literary truisims, don’t be afraid to question them: “Why can’t I do ‘THAT'”



Writing with Style 4: How to Simplify an Action Sequence

Lately I’ve been helping emerging author’s by reading and reviewing their books. At the same time, I’ve been editing my first series of books, so that these can be published as a single novel. As a result, I’ve noticed a common mistake in both my early writing and writing that I’ve been reviewing.

The mistake occurs during action sequences. The mistake is simple: new authors tend to use sentences that are too long, words that are too big, and phrases that are too–well, numerous.thOOKJCHUD

I’m not sure why this happens. Looking back at early drafts of my own writing, I see it there, but I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time. Maybe I wasn’t thinking. Maybe I was writing the action sequence in the same way that I wrote everything else.

So, now that I know better, I have a few tips for those of you in the midst of writing an action sequence. Here they are:

  1. Use simple sentences.
  2. Don’t be afraid of sentence fragments or even one word sentences/fragments
  3. Don’t fill in every gruesome detail. The reader can do that in his or her head. (A tip: write it out. Leave it alone for a month and then look back at it. When you do, delete everything you don’t need)
  4. Don’t be afraid of repetition. New writers sometimes think that they need a synonym for everything. But during an action sequence the words slip away. The reader isn’t hearing each word. They should be seeing the action.
  5. Don’t use big words. These slow up the action. The faster the reader can read the section, the faster the action moves.

Think about it: Action moves quickly. So you want your reader to be reading your action quickly. When this happens, the content and form are united working towards the same exact purpose: the showing of an action sequence.

Down below I’ve included a brief excerpt of my very first book. I’ve italicized the paragraphs that don’t follow my advice above. Notice how these slow up the action and take away from the unity of the scene. Check it out:

from Farmers and Cannibals

Cain was up and over the desk. Frank’s massive body crashed to the floor. With his left, metallic hand, Cain struck Frank once in the nose, breaking it.

No time to react. The grip of the metallic hand unbreakable.

Before this moment, Frank, behind his desk was unreachable, impervious to the hand of punishment. A God, Frank sat deciding the fates of the men who lived in the world he created.

But presently, Frank was nothing but a man. Regaining some consciousness, still able to fight for the relative insignificance of his own mortal life, Frank pounded Cain’s head with his own left hand. With all his human muscle, he hammered with no effect.

Frank pulled at the metallic arm with all of his strength. The shirt sleeve ripped off entirely, but the arm didn’t move, the hand gripped tighter.

Frank’s hands fell to the floor. Cain held on. He felt for a pulse. None.


Let me know your thoughts on action sequences by commenting below. Feel free to send me an action sequence that you’re working on. I’m happy to give critique.


Thanks for reading,



Double Entendre

I’ve finally come to the moment in my literary career when people retweet me without me asking them to retweet me. There was a time when I’d retweet them first, not having looked at whatever they wanted retweeted, and then they’d retweet me back. A little–retweet me, I’ll retweet you kind of action. And yes, I realize this isn’t the type of thing I usually blog about. And yes, I just used “blog” as a verb. I’m blogging right now as I blog this. Blog, blog, blog.

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Anyway, if you are still reading this for some reason, look back at the last paragraph and replace the following words: “literary” “retweet” “read” “thing” and “blog”. While doing so, try to incorporate the title of this post (it’s at the top of the screen) into the philosophy of your word choices. And then leave those as a comment below. Just copy and paste the whole darn paragraph and replace the words. See what happens. And send it to me. Do it now. Don’t wait.

And then when your done, retweet me if you feel like it.


Eric “Blogging” James-Olson

Flash Fiction Contests

Recently I was invited to submit something for a flash fiction contest. No, it wasn’t a personal invitation, I doubt that I’m that important. It was one of those spam type invitations that get sent out to thousands. Normally I wouldn’t submit anything, but with little to do this morning as my daughter played a game on her mother’s ipad, I decided to write something.

The genre is fantasy. So I decided to parody it all subtle-like, incorporating the lyrics of a Grateful Dead song. The prompt starts it off and I put the prompt in italics. The rest of the words are my own. Enjoy.


Deer People

She noticed a hint of movement beneath the starlit trees. But, that was nothing compared to the trail of blood that led out of them. And there were seven bodies left behind. He was afraid to move. The knife might come out of his stomach. Fortunately, the song he was humming provided the power to keep him alive. Then moonlight glinted on antlers in the trees.

Henry staggered, knife in hand, blood dripping through cracks between fingers.

“…Look out of any window,

Any morning, any evening, any day…”

Still singing. “Stop singing that damn song!” She screamed. “Stop it! I said stop it!”

“…You’ll find the sun is shining,

Birds are winging,

No rain is falling through a heavy sky…”

She took another step back. “You made me do it! You did! You made me do it!”

Henry fell, his face smashing into a sapling, bending the tree, denting his cheek. From the ground he sang:

“…What do you want me to do.

To do for you. To see you through?…”

And behind him she saw Elroy, of the deer people. And the antlers danced in the moonlight, the bodies obscured in shadow. Bloodthirsty eyes burned red.

Henry stood up, still holding his stomach in. “I’m fuckin…,” he said. That wasn’t part of the song. He staggered. “You…” He couldn’t say “killed us.” He spat blood.

But behind him the deer people danced on—she saw them dance on. She could see them. They were real. She knew they were real. “They’re real,” she repeated. She had been saying it but didn’t hear herself. “They’re real. They’re real.”

Henry fell again. On the ground he sang:

“…For this is all a dream we dreamed

one afternoon, long ago…”

“It’s not a dream! Not a dream. Don’t say that. Don’t say that!” But Henry wasn’t saying anything. He was only singing the song to stay alive, to keep thinking, to keep moving.

The deer people, they stopped dancing—she saw that they stopped dancing. And the red fires of eyes turned inward, towards the clearing, menacing, hungry.

“Why didn’t you drink the punch!” she screeched. “It happens quietly when you drink the punch! Like the others. You made me do it! You made it hurt!”

Henry didn’t get up. He stayed on his back and tilted his head towards the woods behind him, the last thing he would ever see. But there was only darkness behind him. Shadows of trees and nothing else.

She took a step towards him and could see the deer people closing in—she could see them, Elroy in front with his Great Claw Hammer.

“No, I’ll do it!” But she wasn’t screaming at Henry anymore. “I’ll do it. I’ll finish it.”

Henry didn’t hear her anymore. He heard the singing of his voice.

“…Just a box of rain, Wind and water, Believe it if you need it, If you don’t just pass it on Sun and shower, Wind and rain, In and out the window Like a moth before a flame…”

Henry felt something. Her. The knife slid out. He groaned.

“A sacrifice to Elroy and the deer people.”

When she looked up, knife in hand, raised above Henry’s throat, she saw them, and knew they were there, eyes blazing, antlers nodding up and down, white teeth shining in the moonlight.

Henry saw nothing behind him. Deer people aren’t real.


It would be hilarious if I actually won. The story makes no sense at all. It’s also funny that I’ll probably get an unusual amount of hits for this post because I titled it “Flash Fiction Contests”. Sorry, I’m not offering a flash fiction contest. I have nothing to offer. But I doubt very many people looking for a flash fiction contest actually read this far anyway. Thanks for reading!

Now What?

I wrote “Now What?” earlier this week. I’m working on a voice for the narrator of my next novel and these short flashes of fiction are a way for me to experiment with narration. I’d recommend this strategy to anyone thinking about writing a novel with a first-person narrator. It’s nice to have the voice down from the start. Check it out and let me know what you think:


Now What?

We were packing up the old town house. We’d lived there for a year but what’s a year. I don’t mean that as a question. It isn’t one.

Like I said, we were packing up but I was already done. I packed the night before, so my Civic wasn’t out back behind the house. It was parked down the road next to a pick-up truck or a van.

But this isn’t about my car. It wasn’t even a Civic. It was something like that though.

Anyway, one my housemates, the big one, had his whole family there and he had too much to take back.

“Does anyone want this shit?” he asked. It was stuff from the kitchen.

I took another sip of something. I don’t know. Mimosa maybe. Or Bloody Mary. I think I liked those then. Or maybe I looked out towards the river. But I don’t remember thinking much about the river. It was part of me then, always there past the field and the road from town.

“I got room for it,” I said. Well, that’s not exactly what I said. I said something like it.

And I did have room for it. My parents weren’t there yet, but they were bringing a van to carry my big stuff. My brother wasn’t there yet, either.

“Alright, dude.” That’s exactly what he said. I remember it.

Minutes passed and I hadn’t moved from my lawn chair out in front of the townhouse. I felt the grass between my toes, well, most likely. I was barefoot then—usually at least.

Someone’s parents broke into laughter. It was a woman, but I don’t remember which one. Probably the big one’s mom. Everyone else drank quietly and focused on the packing.

And then one of the other guys was sitting beside me. He might’ve been there for a while, but that’s when I noticed him.

He shook his head at the big one and the big one’s family. But he was drunk too, and I was drunk. The whole damn campus felt drunk. It always did. Well, it felt that way at least.

And then I saw my parents walking across the lawn. And then I don’t remember much. The rest of the afternoon blurred into one or nothing depending on how you look at it, and then I was in the car and my brother was driving. He was probably driving fast, but I don’t remember. I was singing. Loudly.

And then I was home or the place I called home. Summer. But not summer break. And I wouldn’t be going back. I wouldn’t ever be going back. And I was on my parents’ back deck, the same place I spent every summer, a place where I surrounded myself with friends or buddies or alcohol or all or both depending on how you look at it. I looked up and saw blue and green and the leaves on the trees were full for the first time since fall. The first week of May, and for the first time, the leaves were fully there.

“Now what?” I asked it out loud. “Now what?”

And today, years later, I ask the same question. I’m married and have a career. I’ve made something of myself, I guess. But when the leaves come out, fully out, I ask out loud sitting on my own deck, the back deck of my own house, looking up at the swaying trees with the blue sky behind, “Now what?”


Hope you liked it. Thanks for reading!


Writing as Art: A,B&E

thNCEN8Z70Writing as Art digs deeply into the literary, structural, and poetic devices that make writing an art form. The excerpts and short fiction presented are chosen from a list of submissions sent by authors around the world. The purpose is educational and based off of the idea that we can all learn from each other. I start off the conversation by incorporating annotations every few paragraphs. (These are surrounded by parenthesis and written in bold) But my annotations are only the starting point. I encourage you to comment, critique, disagree, agree and argue the literary merit of each piece.


For this week, we have an excerpt from the opening of  Mark Nash’s novel  A,B & E. Let me know what you think of it.

from A,B&E

Oh, don’t mind if I do! Thank you very much. Isn’t that just a sight for sore eyes? A Black Russian in the a.m. Vitreously fleshy. Caffeine intake at its smoothest. For nudging you back into the daylight. A tender kiss of life, to expel the deathly, dried spume from the small hours dousing. Nyx you utter tart, I salute you! For guiding me home once again and delivering me safe and sound into the arms of dowdy old Eos! A toast to…Priapus. God of the vineyard and the other thing of course. Double bubble. All my hobbies rolled into one figurehead. My ideal consort of an evening. A Greek God to top all Greek Gods. Top of the morning after the night before to ya! Na zdorovia! Eis igian! As we say here in Greece.

(I like how we jump right into this conversation. It’s exceptionally one-sided of course, somewhat like talking to a stereotypical mother-in-law or an old rich lady who’s been around the block a view times. She’s handed a drink and off she goes. She’s not completely typical, however. The several allusions, many of which I couldn’t place, could be used to show how disconnected she is from the majority of humanity. This will continue in the following paragraphs. She also has fun with word play. Specifically, she uses epanalepsis. This is the repetition of the first word/phrase from the beginning of the sentence, at the end of the sentence: “A Greek God to top all Greek Gods.” She’s smart but full of herself)

Present company excepted of course, but I find revenge is a dish best served flush across the bloke’s cranium. Well, the Greeks are all for cracking the crockery. So when in Rome and all that. Besides, they were the first ones to craft an art form from vengeance. No wait a tick, it was my second husband Damon, who really elevated it to Olympian heights. The final word in retribution. Where they look in his unblinking, guillotine eyes and heed there’s no coming back at him. Nipping any escalation in the bud. A la thalidomide.

(More fun with words here. Some alliteration and assonance with “cracking the crockery” and I like how Nash transforms the idiom revenge is a dish best served cold. This narrator takes ownership over language through this transformation. This is reflected in her claim that her second husband “really elevated” revenge to “Olympian heights.” A pretty hefty claim. It appears that she owns stock in language and revenge)

An avenger therefore, ought to be up close and personal. Doesn’t merit the soubriquet, if the recipient is ignorant as to who’s responsible. Nor on what grounds. Eyeball to eyeball, Damon’s was a pinpoint perlustration. The polygraph of his blue ice chip eyes, needling whether a man was with Damon or against him. His laser red sight, locking on to the cornea’s yellow spot. Myself, I was granted more biddable access, always with a lascivious wink.

(The big words do three things here: they further disconnect her from the rest of humanity which doesn’t know the definition of “perlustration”, they make her seem all the more full of herself, and they further show that language is her tool of choice. What do I mean by that? Allow me an analogy: Saw is to carpenter as language is to this narrator)

untitled (4)Yet even cherished in lodestone adoration, I never located the bottom of those frozen pools. And when I reversed my polarity through betrayal, I bailed out of my own ducking stool ordeal and skipped the concrete verdict.

So you see I had a good mentor. Since when immersed in an alien culture, you can’t help but have some of the local custom rub off. But I suppose I must also have borne a propensity for it. Damon always said I fucked like a woman but fought (and thought) like a man. A heady cocktail. Diamond cut diamond. That’s what made me attractive to him. How I could gain privileged entry into his fierce Brotherhood. Honorary member without member.

(Another epanalepsis “Diamond cut diamond” and a bunch of big words. Although I can’t say that I like this narrator, not as person, she’s incredibly intriguing. As a narrator, she’s both an original creation, and oddly reminiscent to some of the narrators in Poe’s short stories. She assures us that we can trust her, but she’s oddly unreliable)


And that’s all folks. Honestly, that one impressed me and I think I might need to read the rest. If you’d like to pick up a copy, here’s the link: A,B&E . And if you want to check out other books by Mark Nash, here’s a link to his Amazon author page. Thanks for reading!

Leaves in Spring Time

Hey folks,

I decided to post some of my short fiction here on my blog. And now that my short writing break is over, I’ll be posting regularly again. The story below is called “Leaves in Spring Time.” Enjoy, and feel free to share, comment, and so on.


I stretched the tarp back out along the ditch beside the road in front of my house. It was the inside so it wasn’t blue. It was silver, the tarp that is.

But colors don’t matter. I picked the rake back up and dragged the leaves up and out of the ditch. The gray dust underneath puffed or swirled depending on how you look at it. I dropped the head of the rake back in the ditch and pulled back up. I dropped it and pulled back up.

The section was done but the tarp wasn’t covered yet, so I put the rake down and slid the tarp over to the next section. Then I did the same thing pulling the leaves up and out of the ditch.

The section was half-done, but the tarp was filled-up, so I folded each of the corners in and each of the corners that form from folding in corners until the leaves were trapped inside. And then I walked down past the driveway and walked into the woods and walked down the hill a bit past the point where the leaves might blow back into the yard and found the pile I started earlier or the year before depending on how you look at it and held onto the back of the tarp and let all the corners loose and looked away as leaves fell out onto the pile.

Dust floated from the tarp when I shook it. But I wasn’t looking. I looked earlier, the first time but I wasn’t looking anymore. e6b9fd047d000f182bccda92e03d048a

As I walked back up and saw the house, I looked for that spot by the white oak, the one in the middle of the yard, where my wife was sitting earlier. She wasn’t there, but as I continued up the hill, I saw her. She was next to the driveway and my little girl was there with a little kid-sized rake.

“She wants to help.”

I must’ve smiled. I don’t talk much.

I wiped sweat from my eyes and put my hand on my little girl’s head. She followed me over to that spot I left off at and started raking the leaves with her little rake. She did it indiscriminately, moving them here and there if you understand what I mean.

So then I put the tarp down and started pulling the leaves up and out of the ditch and my wife didn’t ask but I started explaining anyway, “Not sure why I do it,” I said as I pulled up leaves onto the tarp. “It’s a bigger pain—” I looked down at my little girl. She was still raking. “It’s a bigger pain gettin’ out the blower for it since it’s just the leaves here in the ditch. Never takes more than an hour but I—I never like doing it—somethin’ about dealing with leaves in spring time that just doesn’t—I don’t know—It doesn’t seem like somethin’ I wanna be doin’.”

I wanted her ask something like, “why don’t you leave ‘em there?” But she doesn’t think to ask that sorta question. So I answered like she asked it.

“I guess I worry about getting that thing—” I pointed to the gutter running underneath the driveway, “that thing—whatever you call it, jammed up with leaves so the water can’t run through.”

She nodded her head.

“I don’t know if it matters—just seems like I shouldn’t let the leaves wash down in there…”

The tarp was half-full when I said that. I stopped talking for a minute and my little girl stepped back as I slid the tarp over to the last section.thY54M3G5J

“I don’t know if it matters,” I said picking up on a train of thought that has existed since the beginning of man, “I don’t know but I’ll do it anyway just in case.”

And in that moment I looked down. My little girl wasn’t just raking the leaves randomly anymore. She was picking them up, only a few at time because she’s only two and not very coordinated, and she was putting those leaves on the tarp.

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