Tuesday, January 22, 2008

They Paid With Plastic

She spent all day waiting. All day, every day. Her name was Ela Ebley and she lived in the house on the corner of Park and Maple. All the kids knew her place. A path was worn through the grass on the front lawn where they cut the corner on the way home from school. When the weather made sweat drip from her iced tea glass you could hear her rocker creaking on the porch. When the weather switched the iced tea to hot her rocker went "swish-swoosh..swish swoosh" on the living room carpet while she waited. The kids started appearing every day, Mon. - Fri. that is, around 3pm. Each one had been timid at first. Once the initial deal was made though, the habit was born and shared. They all bought from her until about 5th grade when it stopped being cool. One girl kept on until the 8th grade. She didn't have any friends and never would.

Ms. Ebley baked Gooey Bars every morning. Graham cracker crust, chocolate brownie, coconut, the tops drizzled with more chocolate. She didn't give them away. Nope. She sold them. The accepted currency was easy to come by. It was literally spilling out of drawers, jammed into closets and coming out of specially made fabric tubes hanging around their very own homes. Sometimes if a kid forgot he could just find an old one blowing around the field at recess. The price for one of Ela Ebley's Gooey Bars was a single plastic grocery bag. Bring her one of those and she'd sell you a warm Gooey Bar, a deal that couldn't be beat anywhere in town.

Ms. Ebley sold her last Gooey Bar to Emily Spiel on a Friday afternoon in November. Her body wasn't discovered until Monday at 3pm when Henry Healy showed up at her door like usual. One of the kids called 911 like he'd been taught to do in case of an emergency. Before the ambulance arrived Henry, Emily, Joey, Heather and a growing crowd of regulars tip-toed through Ms. Ebley's house. They had never been further than the porch before and were seeing for the first time the accumulation of Ms. Ebley's wealth. Thousands and thousands of plastic bags bursting from any available semi-contained space. The threat of plastic bag eruption seemed imminent and likely to suffocate anyone in the path of destruction. The whole thing made the children uneasy. Ela Ebley dead in her rocker, no smell of warm Gooey Bars and nothing but the crinkly, clammy plastic bags in their hands to offer any comfort. It just didn't make any sense. None at all. They heard the sirens several blocks away. Every child dropped his bag in horror and ran.


  1. Hi Jennifer,
    your story is gripping, oozing with detail that takes the reader into Ms Ebley's life.

    Various persons have suggested that a writer's forum would expose our writing to a larger group, than a blog. It could also create a writing ecommunity that interacts regularly about writing.

    I've set up such a forum where writers, particularly those who did the writing course with Malaspina University can post their writing, queries, etc.

    The url is http://wwriters.forumer.com

    If you have contact with other eclass mates, would you please tell them about the writer's forum and forward them the forum url?

    Thanks, Catherine the Maltese Tortoise, (mumondloose on the writers' forum).

  2. See? Now THIS proves that you can write. Great stuff. Do you want to expand it into a short story? I have a prof working on a series of "miniatures"--all 200 to 500 words long. It's pretty amazing what he can do with so few words.

    --Kevin, #1 Blogfan

  3. Hey Kevin,

    Thanks for your comment! This little story came out of the on line writing workshop I took and the lesson on creativity. The instructor gave us a list of boring items: a paper clip, a plastic bag, a rubber band, etc. We had to write a paragraph about the one that was the least interesting to us. I have no idea how this story happened from that. It surprised me and I liked it immediately. I read this out loud at the open mic I went to last month. I hadn't thought about making it into a longer short story. There's something about it's brevity that appeals to me.