Purple Swings And Less Pretty Things

Marnie lay on her stomach on the newly renovated back porch, her drawing book flipped open to a blank white page with her crayons, arranged in order from most favorite to least favorite, lined up beside it. Closest at hand were two shades of purple that Mommy thought were the exact same but Marnie knew better. It was okay though, she still loved her Mommy anyway.
After some considerable thought she picked up the second shade of purple, doing her best to not look at the creepy black crayon that lay in wait at the far end of the parade of colors. She didn’t like using that one at all – it made her tummy feel funny and her fingers ache. But Daddy wouldn’t let her throw it out, he always said something about it being a ‘waste of a perfectly good crayon’, so it remained at a relatively safe distance.
With a steady hand she began to draw the outline of the perfect swing, taking extra care with the wavy line that formed the top of the seat. Marnie wanted it to be just like the purple ocean waves they had seen at sunset on the previous summer’s vacation to the coast. She knew she’d never see anything like it again and was determined to have an accurate reminder in her new backyard. Satisfied that she had an appropriate outline, she returned the crayon to it’s place and plucked the brown one from fifth in line so that she could begin work on the tree. But as she brought her gaze back to her work in progress, a movement caught her eye.
“Hello, Mister Ant!” she said to her new six-legged visitor. “Would you like to take a ride on my swing? Well you’ll just have to wait ‘cause I’m not finished making it yet.”
Marnie returned to her work under the watchful eye of Mister Ant, creating a beautiful oak tree filled with butterflies and monkeys, and connecting the swing to its lowest branch with thick yellow ropes. She then picked up the nearest purple crayon and began to plant a row of daisies underneath the swing. Daisies were Mommy’s favorite.
“Do you hear that Mister Ant?” she asked suddenly, pausing mid-petal. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened her ears wide, listening hard. There it was again. “Mommy? Mommy, are you okay?” she shouted as loud as she could, scaring away her new friend but not loud enough to receive an answer.
She scrambled to her feet and began running in the direction of the screams that were now coming faster than she could think. So she ran without thinking.
The greedy, grasping weeds reached for her as Marnie flew past but failed to slow her progress. The wicked thorns and brambles could not deter her either, though they cut angry red slashes on her bare legs and tore holes in her new dress. She didn’t even register the pain, she was so focused on reaching her Mommy. So focused that she didn’t see the mean root that tripped her until she was sitting on her backside, rubbing the dirt from her knees and pulling grass from her hair.
“That was not very nice,” she said, giving the twisted, rotting thing a good glare. She wagged her finger in admonishment before another scream, this one broken and hoarse, forced her to her feet again. She began to run again, but this time keeping a close eye out for Trippers.
Marnie burst into the clearing at the back of the property, wild-eyed and breathing hard. It took her a moment to find her Mommy because she was looking too high up. She hurried to her Mommy’s side, where she sat with her back pressed against the wood pile, and threw her arms around her neck.
“It’s okay Mommy, you can stop yelling now,” she whispered fiercely. “I’m here to protect you. Did a bee sting you? I know I always cry when that happens to me – that’s why you’re crying, right Mommy?”
Beth finally stopped screaming but she could not stop shaking. And she could not look away from the kennel ten feet away.
“What are you looking at Mommy? Is there a bee’s nest in there? Why does it smell funny here?”
But Mommy offered no replies. She just pressed her daughter’s head tight against her chest and held her there for a few ragged breaths. Then she rose on unsteady legs, bringing Marnie with her, and began a lurching run for the house.

The End

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