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Prompt: Oh! Wasted Youth, Soup and Nuts

She set the bowl down in front of her guest.  Under her watchful gaze, he plunged the wide spoon into the murky liquid.  A bit of tentacle rose from the creamy ocean.  He grimaced but silently put it in his mouth.  His face contorted.  As he noticed she was staring, he twisted the expression into a smile.  “MMM,” he said.

She rose, exiting and returning with a smaller wooden bowl.  “I forgot the salty peanuts.”  Her voice croaked.  The gnarled hand scooped up a spoonful of the nuts and deposited them in his bowl.  The pile sat like an island.  He stirred them into the brine which smelled like a tide pool and stale trail mix.  With a deep breath, he brought another bite to his lips.  His body convulsed with nausea.

“Eat,” her voice coaxed, “it will make you strong.”  He couldn’t resist those eyes.  A grandmother’s love was eternal or so he had heard.  She had always treated him so well.  Perhaps the simple act of eating her traditional meal would save him from the sin he’d committed through his teen years.  This was the meal of a condemned man.  He shoveled the food in.  Her pleasure growing with each bite.  As the bowl emptied, he grew tired.  His spoon clattered in the empty bowl.  Snores replaced the act of chewing.

She laughed.  “Oh, such youth is wasted, but not for long.”  She called in her daughter.  This time tomorrow they’d be in a new town.  Her daughter would enroll in the local high school and she would be the attractive, too young for a teenager, mother.

How little did they know, her daughter had the worst luck with children but every good mother knew how to fix things.  That youth was never wasted as long as you had a little magic.

Prompt: There are things in the darkness we don’t think about.

The bell chimed, sun set.  The villagers scurried into their respective homes, locking the doors behind them.  I sat on the couch.  The window coverings blocking out the view.  “May, sit down so I can see.”  May sat on the floor, her small feet poking out from her nightgown.  We watched the last of the afternoon cartoons as sounds of dinner echoed through the back of the house.

Father came out of his office as the credits rolled.  “May, did you bathe?”  She nodded, keeping her eyes focused on the changing channels.  He turned his attention my way.  “What about you?”

“What about me,” I said, adjusting so I could see the television around him.

“You should bathe before….”

“Dinner,” yelled Mom from the dining room.

Father ushered us to the table.  “Carol, this looks lovely,” he said, double checking the curtains before sitting.  “Should we play some board games this evening?

Mother smiled.  Her expression tight with worry.  “The girls should go to bed soon.  You know what they say – the more sleep, the better they function in school.”  She attempted a smile.  Father nodded.  I tried to focus on the roast beef and mashed potatoes on my plate.

“Dear,” Father said, “I do think we should have the girls bathed and in jammies before dinner.  Then we could have some quality family time.  The girls could still be in bed early.”

I sighed.  I was nearly fifteen.  My life, like my friends’, consisted of getting up with the sun, attending school and promptly home by 3:30.  Father expected me to be ready for bed by 5, that was just going too far.  They should understand.  They had sports games, dates, evening dances.  If nothing else, they could stay up to watch television.  Not that there’s anything to watch.  Like some sick joke, all the stations stopped airing three hours after sunset.  This time of year, that meant 8, even though the operators lived in the stations.  Few people left their homes for long during the day.  Children were the exception.  We needed the stimulation, the experts said.  We needed socializing especially since no one under 18 was allowed outside two hours prior to the sun setting, well except through the winter.  During the shorter days we had the privilege of going home just 60 precious minutes prior.  No playing in the snow, no visiting with friends because when the darkness came, well things just haven’t been the same since they came.

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