Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "One of the Necessities of Life"

This poem was written outside the regular prompts calls based on conversations with [personal profile] curiosity and[personal profile] zeeth_kyrah. It also fills the "bystander" square in my 2-28-19 card for the Meet Ugly Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] fuzzyred. This poem belongs to the Broken Angels thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.  It sets up for "Their Own Capacity" and "A Broad Health and Moral Education."

"One of the Necessities of Life"

[Friday, October 16, 2015]

Faster Blaster was still drinking
his morning coffee when the twins
came up from the basement with
the old lady who was helping them
spruce up some of the used furniture.

Edie was short and sturdy, with
wavy blonde hair and comfy clothes.

"Well, that's done," she said briskly
as she put away the supplies.

Kato stood in front of the fridge,
drinking fortified chocolate milk
right out of the carton.

"We have glasses,"
Faster Blaster said mildly,
"and several different people
sharing the household."

"Sorry, boss," Kato said,
and poured the rest of
the carton into a glass.

Which he finished.

At least he remembered
to restock the fridge.

"I like that little park
you put in close to
my place," Edie said.
"Could use more work,
but it's a great start."

"Oh?" said Faster Blaster.
"What would you add?"

It already had a bunkhouse,
a showerhouse, a picnic table,
a park bench, and a garbage can.

"It needs a Little Free Library. I've
got two in my yard, one for adults
and one for kids," Edie said.

"Can we afford luxuries
like that?" Bobbie asked.

"A library is not a luxury but
one of the necessities of life,"
Edie said in a firm tone.

"How much time will you
need to scrounge supplies,
or budget to buy them?"
Faster Blaster said.

"Pulling something
together from nothing
is one of my talents,"
Edie replied. "Give me
half a day and twenty bucks.
And a Peppy Cola. You'll have
one put up and ready to use
by lunch. Stocked, even."

Faster Blaster raised
his eyebrows at the claim.

Edie just nodded at him.

Faster Blaster waved
a $20 bill in the air.
"Sodas are in the fridge."

Edie plucked the money from
his grasp, collected her soda
and the twins, then disappeared
out the front door of the house.

Faster Blaster went upstairs
and applied himself to Business.

One of his contacts swore she could
get him a line on some new zap guns
that merely numbed body parts.

After the fiasco in Omaha,
Faster Blaster had more interest
in nonlethal guns than he used to.

In the meantime, he needed
something else to sell, since it
would take a while before he
could get the workshop running
to make things from scratch.

Maybe he could sell programs for
3D-printed guns, if he could find one
that wouldn't blow your hands off.

Several hours later, his stomach
grumbling for lunch, Faster Blaster
went downstairs to the kitchen.

He found Edie and Cas making chili
and cornbread, with Edie explaining to
Cas how to tell when it was done.

Hali sat at the table, playing
with a jar of giant buttons.

"Lunch smells fantastic,"
said Faster Blaster as he
sat down by Hali. "How did
the library construction go?"

"One salvaged post, most
of a repurposed pallet,
and a picture frame with
plexiglass sheet from the curb,
plus a few bucks' worth of screws,
glue, a handle, and some woodstain,"
Edie said. "Stain probably still needs
a wee bit more to dry on the outside."

"That sounds impressive," Faster Blaster said.

"Eh, it'll do," Edie said as she took the chili
off the stove. "Can do more fancier ones
later if ya want. Library downtown is having
a $5 fills a paper grocery sack sale, by the way."

"Yeah, about that, can I have the afternoon
off from work to buy some books?" Cas said.

"Sure, go ahead," Faster Blaster said.
"Get some for both you and Hali."

"Here's the change. $4.02,"
Edie said, fishing it out of
her pocket to put in front of
Faster Blaster. "Can I have
another Peppy Cola, please?"

"Have whatever you want,"
Faster Blaster said, reminding
himself that she was just a bystander
and he shouldn't be wondering if he
could keep her around the gang.

Edie was rummaging in
the fridge when the timer
dinged, so it was Cas who
opened the oven to bring out
a baking sheet full of cookies.

How had they found time
to build a Little Free Library
and cook a complete lunch?

Faster Blaster heard the pop-hiss
of a soda tab, and then Edie was
sitting down right beside him.

"I took a picture," she said.

There was the Little Free Library,
crammed with useful little booklets,
healthy eats on a budget cookbooks,
fun stories, Nebraska wildlife, and
at least one trashy romance
with half the cover missing.

"Well," said Faster Blaster,
"you sure took care of one
of the necessities of life."

"I try," said Edie. "All of
my kids are grown, and none
of them live here in town, so I
keep busy with community life
instead. It helps a little."

To hell with the rule
that gang life was
a young man's game.

"I'm sure the community
will be very grateful," he said.

He'd make sure of that.

"The community will be
expressing our gratitude by
fixing her eaves," Bobbie said
as she and her brother sat down.
"Edie can't get up a ladder like
she used to, but Kato and I can."

"Oh, you don't have to make
such a fuss over it," Edie said.

"Yeah, but I can, so I will,"
Bobbie said, which settled it.

Cas put the food on the table,
and everyone dug in, silencing
the conversation for the moment.

The chili was thick and delicious,
the cornbread tangy with buttermilk.

There was still a lot of work to be done
in making Lincoln a livable city, but
Faster Blaster was checking off
the necessities one by one.

* * *


Edie Beehler -- She has fair skin, blue eyes, and short wavy blonde hair. She is short and sturdy. She wears glasses. Edie lives in a run-down neighborhood of Lincoln, Nebraska where she used to teach gradeschool. Her house lies between the Broken Angels lair and the empty lot that Faster Blaster is turning into a park. She has two Little Free Libraries in her front yard, one for adults and one for children. Edie is a widow with four children and six grandchildren, none of whom live in Lincoln but some of whom visit regularly. She enjoys crafts and excels at making things from whatever materials she can find. She likes gardening for wildlife. Edie usually wears loose, comfortable clothes in dark colors or earth tones, but she likes colorful jewelry.
Qualities: Master (+6) Grandmother, Expert (+4) Interpersonal Intelligence, Expert (+4) Retired Teacher, Good (+2) Crafty, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Gardening for Wildlife, Good (+2) Pulling Something Together from Nothing
Poor (-2) Needs Glasses

* * *

"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life."
Henry Ward Beecher

Little Free Libraries are wonderful things, but local America seems to hate them. Read about them and build your own. These are ubiquitous in T-America. This is the new Little Free Library added to Faster Blaster's empty lot park.

Dr. Pete's Recovery Drink is a fortified chocolate milk. Fortified chocolate powder is also available. In Terramagne-America, this sort of thing is widely available, and you can even find it made with clinical-grade chocolate.

Peppy Cola is a caffeinated, slightly spicy flavor of soda similar to Pepsi or Dr. Pepper.

3D printed guns are real and can work. They also tend to explode. T-America has more advanced technology. 3D printing hardware and programs are much better than here. However, there's no getting around the fact that plastic isn't a very durable material, and it's by far the most common printing medium.

Lunch includes Classic Chili for a Crowd, Buttermilk Cornbread, and Kitchen Sink Cookies.

Everyone used to keep a button jar for replacing lost buttons, for making crafts, and so on. My grandmother kept hers in a Lipton tea jar. In T-America, people still cut the buttons off old clothes, putting the buttons in a jar and the fabric in a rag bag. Buttons offer many activities for children, most of whom love this kind of play. Coat buttons are usually big enough that nobody can swallow them. Some lacing buttons are that big also. Older children can play with assorted sizes including smaller buttons.

Classifying and sorting are normal and necessary activities that precede other life skills like counting and putting things away. Stigmatizing this type of play as mentally ill is wrong and harmful. All play is legitimate so long as it amuses the child without breaking anything or hurting anyone.
Tags: community, crafts, cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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