Everything is Poison, Everything is Medicine

Submitted into Contest #90 in response to: Write about a community that worships Mother Nature.... view prompt

2 comments

Contemporary Holiday Kids

How beautiful!Karen exclaimed, looking over the valley stretched before them. The sun topped distant mountains. Layers of mist still settled in the hollows. She looked at her children, Tim and Amy, straddling their bikes.

“This is why I wanted to get out today. You can’t see this on a phone screen.”

Tim nodded, though his expression betrayed doubt.

“Looks like there’s a meadow there. Let’s ride down and check it out. Maybe picnic there.”

Karen rode down the fire road trailed by eleven year-old Tim and seven year-old Amy. The girl wobbled a bit on her bike, struggling to keep up.

Coasting into the grassy clearing, Karen dismounted and lay her bike down. Spreading her arms, she spun around like Julie Andrews in ‘The Sound of Music’.

“This is perfect! See the sunlight on the dew?”

The kids hopped off their bikes which clanked to the ground. Tim shook off his pack. Grabbing a stick and with his best ‘monster roar’ he chased a screaming Amy through the tall grass. A flock of birds rose and wheeled about before settling away from the children.

Karen sighed, “Happy Earth Day…”

She scouted a level spot and unrolled a blanket and spread it out. Tiring, the kids flopped down beside her.

Amy asked, “Mommy? Do trees poop?”

Tim snickered. Amy glared.

Their mother sighed, “No, Honey. They shed their leaves in the fall. You remember the pretty colors?”

“Maybe. Were they on TV?”

“Of course. It’s questions like this that prove you need more time in nature.”

“Then why did my book say, ‘Everything poops’?”

“If I remember right, on page fifteen, it says animals, but not plants and trees… Isn’t the title, ‘Every Body Poops’?”

“Maybe…”

“Trees don’t have bodies. They have trunks.”

“Like elephants?”

“Sort of…”

Amy pointed. “Look! Is that a scorpion?”

Tim looked at the small animal clinging to a nearby tree and scoffed. “No silly. That’s a squirrel. Scorpions don’t carry Bubonic Plague.”

Tim took his phone out and searched ‘Bubonic’.

Karen said, “Stow it Tim. Remember? No phones on Earth Day.”

“But…”

“Tim… They use slave labor to make those phones. You can search it tomorrow.”

Tim sighed and stowed his phone.

“Come on, guys… help serve lunch.”

Everyone joined in preparing their lunch. Amy enjoyed arranging the various items ‘just so’.

Rummaging, Tim grumbled.

“What’s up, Tim?”

“I forgot the sun block. Did you bring it, Mom?”

“Don’t you remember? I said no chemicals today.”

Tim pouted.

“It’s one day, Tim. Sit in the shade, if you want.”

Tim smiled slyly.

She said, “What are you thinking?”

“If we drove, we could have brought more and wouldn’t have to wait for slow-poke Amy.”

Amy said, “I kept up. You rode too fast.”

“We have everything we need, Tim. And you exercised. Remember that?”

“But don’t the bikes get made in factories? What are tires made from, anyway? Aren’t they petro-chemicals?”

Karen bought time with a serious look. “Actually, Tim, tires are made from… uhm, rubber. You know, rubber tires? From rubber trees. They’re organic.”

Tim smiled. He turned to Amy. “Yeah, rubber trees. You can tell it’s a rubber tree because rubber balls hang like apples from the branches.”

Amy frowned, “Do not!”

“Tell her, Mom. She never believes anything.”

Karen said, “I don’t know if that’s exactly true. But yes, rubber trees produce rubber.”

“See?”

Karen changed the subject. “I’m hungry. Let’s eat!”

They opened their sack lunches. Tim balked almost immediately.

“What’s the problem?”

“What the heck, Mom? Does everything have to taste like dirt on Earth Day?”

“It’s healthy, Tim.”

“That doesn’t answer my question. Eww! What are these?”

“Brussel Sprouts.”

“On a picnic?”

“Tim…”

He mumbled something about why Belgium lost World War Two.

Karen shrugged. “I brought good food. You don’t have to eat it. But don’t complain later that you’re hungry.”

“Where’s Dad?”

She watched him roll a Brussel Sprout onto the ground. 

“He’ll pick us up after work.”

“Cool! Gotta love a car.” He imitated a revving engine. “Look, Mom. See?”

“What?”

“A whole troop of ants marched by without even glancing at it.”

Amy crawled over by Tim. “Let’s see!” She put her hand down by the edge of the blanket and let out an ear piercing scream. Karen rushed to her.

“Bee sting.” Amy shrieked louder. “Let me see it, honey. Let me get the stinger out.”

Amy kept crying but let her mother examine her hand. Karen asked Tim to get her purse. She pulled a tweezer out and deftly removed the stinger.

“It hurts!”

Karen looked around. “No ice…”

Tim offered a solution. “I could pee on it.” Karen gasped. Amy screamed louder than when she got stung. “No, really. Pee has ammonia which cancels the poison.”

“No! No! No...!”

Karen said “No pee, Tim. That won’t help. How do you know these things?” Tim began to explain but Karen put her hand up. “Never mind. Not now.” She looked around. “Get the tea.”

She found a vial of lavender scented oil in her purse. Dampening a cloth with the tea, she added a few drops of oil and pressed it to Amy’s palm.

“Hold that to the sting, Sweetie. The honey and oil will help.” Karen dried her tears and kissed the top of her head.

Tim said, “Blame it on the Brussel Sprouts, Mom.”

“Good idea. I’ll do that.”

Things calmed down. Amy kept checking her sting. The pain and swelling were down. Karen let the kids explore while she read. Tim showed her the biggest grasshopper she’d ever seen.

He pointed to the trees. “There’s a bunch over there.”

The words ‘plague of locusts’ came to mind, but she kept it to herself. “Okay, Tim. Bring him back to his friends.”

The day had become warm and muggy. But high clouds reduced the sun’s intensity. Amy snoozed on the blanket.

Tim looked at the sky. “Wow! What’s that?”

Karen craned her neck. “What?”

A line of black clouds loomed over the mountains. The darkest clouds they ever saw, they stepped back in awe, as it approached.

“A storm. Grab the stuff. We’ve gotta go.”

“Mom, it’s moving too fast. Don’t want to get caught on our bikes.”

“Right. Get packed and we’ll shelter in place.”

They scurried to jam everything into their packs. Amy awoke and helped too.

Big drops began falling. Tim started for the trees. The wind gusted.

“Tim no! Trees attract lightning!”

“Where?”

Karen draped the blanket over her shoulders. “Hide under this.” She pointed. “There!”

They ran, clutching the blanket against the wind. Looking like a drunken insect they staggered up a low hill. Sheets of rain soaked the blanket which threatened to take flight. Lightning strobed. Hail fell.

She yelled over the constant thunder, “Off the road! Sit on the edges so it won’t blow away!”

Looking terrified, the kids followed orders. Once settled and secure, Amy whimpered.

Karen said, “Good work, kids. We’re safe now. The worst is past. What else could happen, frogs?”

Tim answered, “Don’t ask…”

Amy asked, “There’s frogs?”

The wind subsided. The drenched blanket kept them surprisingly dry. Tim peeked out.

Though still daytime, clouds filtered the sun into a gloomy twilight. Karen had picked their shelter well. Everything else remained flooded by the torrent, now a steady rain.

“The bikes are still there, but flooded.”

Headlights raked across the desolation. A horn honked.

“Dad!” Tim burst from under the blanket. He yelled and waved as his father backed his SUV toward them.

Al set the brake and cut the engine. Karen and Amy stood to greet him.

He laughed, “Happy Earth Day! Having fun?”

Tim said, “Yeah!”

Though still raining, it now felt like a party. He opened the back and handed out raincoats. “Put these on, kids. I know. They’re made of hydrocarbons. But they’ll stave off pneumonia.”

Tim assisted in unloading firewood.

“What are you doing, Al?”

“Building a fire. Or you could sit in our nice warm car with the heater on high.”

“With the engine running?”

“Whatever your zealous heart desires.”

She looked at Amy and Tim.

“Or call it a wrap, go home and take hot showers…”

“It’s still early.” She gestured to the sky. “Not my grand plan…”

Al said, “The ark is in the shop, or...”

Tim stacked the wood. “The rain’s letting up, Mom. A fire would be great.”

Al said, “You know… how cave men stayed warm.” He squirted lighter fluid onto the wood.

“And look what that led to…”

She looked at Amy, who yelled, “Global warming!”

Al shrugged. “Your call…”

The kids hesitated and looked at Karen. She nodded. “Go ahead. Get warm.”

They screamed and danced around.

Al lit the fire and flames rose to warm them. He unfolded camp chairs and set them a safe distance from the flames. He leaned an umbrella against each chair.

He looked at his bedraggled wife. “In case of rain,” he said with a smile.

Karen donned her raincoat. 

Tim said, “Thanks, Mom.” He took Amy’s hand and they joined their father by the crackling flames. “I’m hungry!”

Al offered them a bag from under his raincoat. “Marshmallow?”

As if by magic, he produced sticks, suitable for roasting the puffy sweets. Their laughter said it all. Al smiled at Karen and cocked his head. She resisted but finally sidled up to him.

“Nice fire, Al. You think of everything.”

“Civilization has its perks. Oh, I brought your favorite sweater. Some poor sheep is shivering tonight, so you could stay warm.”

She accepted it, put it on, hugged herself and shivered. All with a smile.

“Hey, kids. If we’re going to stand ‘round a campfire, we have to sing a song. Whatcha got, Tim?”

Tim broke into ‘Home on the Range’. The others joined in, but when they got to the line ‘…seldom is heard, a discouraging word…’ Amy stopped them.

Al said, “What’s wrong, kid?”

“Don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice song, and all. But, no offence, I don’t get, who the heck is Seldom?”


April 23, 2021 22:01

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

2 comments

Bonnie Clarkson
16:10 Apr 24, 2021

Pleasant read. Not much description of the people, but didn't need it because the dialogue was so good. One thing I noticed. You said, "The wind died subsided." It sounds like you couldn't make up your mind. I would use "died" if you want to have the wind end abruptly. I would use "subsided" if it stopped gradually. Good story. I think it would good for Kids category too.

Reply

John K Adams
21:15 Apr 24, 2021

Thanks for the note. And thanks for reading. Didn't think about the Kids category.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.