Two Sides, One Coin

(Today’s snippet from Swim, Swan, Swim is inspired by the One-Minute Writer and the Daily Prompt.)

Kai Addison stared at the latest postcard from her brother, conflicting emotions a perfect fit to the playful fighting between two of her children outside.

She chose to teach her children at home, all of the topics that were deemed ‘unnecessary’ in school – music, art, physical education (dodge ball included!), and penmanship. She missed her own school days when there was time for the non-tested topics and plenty of time for play. Now…

And where was Tennyson? This time in Rome, fixing his Italian as broken as the Coliseum; helping students strengthen their English better than the Leaning Tower. It wouldn’t be long before he probably wandered on to some place new.

Kai Addison taught to offer her children the stars. Their uncle seemed fit to travel just as far.

Their love of language, of words, kept them together. For that, she knew she hadn’t lost her brother. Yet.

Wednesday – Amos’ Wisdom



“What made you think no one saw you,” Amos said. He rolled another cigarette without looking up at his visitors.

“Who said we were anywhere to be seen,” Kai countered.

“Sounding like a politician. I hate politicians. Fine, lie to me if you think you can. A guilty conscious will never let you shake it free.”

Tennyson slipped his fingers into his pocket, tucking the money further down. He was too close for them to fail, for him to fail her. Only one more trip, one more sale…

Finally, Amos turned his back to them, “You going to open up or what?”

“No,” Kai said.

Tennyson knew what he meant, going to the front of the store, flipping the sign in the window.

Tuesday Tidbit – The Takeis

Kai lay as flat as she could, holding her breath as her father dimmed the dining room lights. The record dropped onto the turner, a pause, then the first scratches sounded before the singing began.

Her father hummed the introduction, doing a silly little dance while still wearing his clean clothes. Her mother spun about, still wearing her apron, and using a wooden spoon as a microphone. Her mother always sang first, voice so pretty it reminded Kai of Snow White. Her father’s singing still made her shiver and smile at the same time. It was her secret – hers and her mother’s alone and Kai loved it.

She had no idea what the words meant, but who needed them anyway when her parents danced the way the figurine in her music box did? These times, like the box, were treasures not to be missed. The singing, the soft shuffling on the linoleum floor was much better than…

“We have an audience,” Hiro whispered in his wife’s ear before he kissed the nape of her neck.

“Are you saying we should move into the kitchen,” Emily asked.

He shook his head, the heat of his breath as he sighed warmed her. “She should be in bed.” He pulled away from her only for her to pull him back.

Emily tightened her embrace. “She’ll fall asleep soon.”

“Then wake us up with nightmares of dragons.” His shoulders lowered as his wife smiled at him.

“Let her learn to fight them on her own. We can’t be there to protect her from everything forever.”

Monday Motive

Thanks goes to Winney, aka SnoValley Hobbit, aka the wonderful Vicky Bastedo for this prompt:

Give us one of your descriptive paragraphs that set the tone, illuminate the world or a character’s idiosyncrasy.

He did not like not knowing what was going on, the hushed whispers behind closed doors when they thought he was asleep, the garage door closing but no sound of a car, the late night talk show hosts sounding louder, not funnier, on the television below. It got worse after Kai Addison’s parents died, the grown-ups saying they were not old enough to understand. Curled up in the cupboard, his father’s coat wrapped around his shoulders like a blanket, cup of hot chocolate in hand, Tennyson strained to hear what the after-dinner talk contained.

-years later-

It became harder and harder for him to find a hiding place, especially after giving the best ones to his sister. The one place remaining, that she respectfully never asked about nor sought – as far as he knew – was the cupboard once in the dining room, now in the garage.

The formal room became a second visiting room, used now for book club meetings, poker nights, planning hunting trips and the once a month checking writing nights for bills. Other changes happened throughout the house over the years, but the formal turned informal was the most uncomfortable for the teen.

Tennyson wasn’t running away from the possible responsibilities, not that he would be asked to participate. His parents knew he had a busy schedule – the times gone at least, not how they were spent. He had his own monetary obligations and escapes. The only games he cared for were the ones he and Kai played late at night when neither could sleep. And his book club…

The cupboard was the only place he could fold himself into to finish the book of poems Lydia loaned him, without worrying about his mother finding him or his father hounding him. (Honestly, the man should have realized that Tennyson would never stay in his room if was expected to be found so easily for something as stupid as stringing worms on a hook just to sit by a stream to shiver and suffer for nothing.

No, Tennyson quite preferred Longfellow and Wordsworth. He even enjoyed Cisneros, Hughes and MacKellar. No, he loved MacKellar, especially “The Open Sea.” He longed to find that kind of freedom someday, to cross whatever sea to be found.

Balancing the cup of tea and book on his knee, shoulder and neck keeping the flashlight in place, Tennyson twisted his arm about to feel for the world map he folded and tucked away between the boots never worn and the broken umbrellas never tossed.  Unable to find it, he panicked.

He gave up his search at the sound of his sister’s voice. The coast had to be clear for her to call.

Securing what stayed in the cupboard, Tennyson carefully crawled out; his back popping as he stood straight. He closed the door just as Kai opened the garage door from the house.

“You hide in there?”

He shrugged. “What? It’s bigger on the inside.”

-What does this say about Tennyson? What drives him to want to run away, to be unseen? Was it really the ‘grown-up talks’ overheard or something else? He is a restless soul, swimming in search of  or running away from something.

Wednesday Mischief

So, what happens when one finally gets to escape to an evening at Writers’ Cafe when sleep would have been logical?

A word war that involves the challenge of including the words “pizza” and “soar.”

Tennyson hummed as he stuffed things into his backpack, including the script needed for the read through in the park. He loved ‘Wordy Wednesdays.’ The hours alternated between one-act plays- right now J.M. Barrie, and various poems from Wordsworth, Longfellow and the Bard.

He didn’t mind the times when someone brought in a piece from one of the foreign language classes. Granted, his ability to speak without stumbling in some of them irritated him. Kai was fluent in tongues he never believed he would ever master. Then again, he was great with gibberish.

Tennyson continued getting dressed, trying to straighten his tie in the mirror as he sang. “If the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s a-,”

“Migraine,” Kai hollered out from down the hall, their code word for ‘shut-up’ or ‘warning.’  If their parents were home, one of them would have reprimanded the teens for yelling, but they left to go east of mountains for the day hour ago. She stood in his doorway in no time, hair pulled back in a ponytail, backpack on her shoulder already. “Honestly, when Mrs. O. said let your voice soar, I don’t think that’s what she meant. Oh, no. A tie? Tenny, Tenny, Tenny…don’t tell me you fell in love again? Which witch should I be ready to-?”

He sighed. “I’m not aiming to be a Casanova or the heartbreak kid, Kai.” He turned to her for a quick inspection.

“You’re just trying to make up your mind on who to ask to the dance?” She shook her head, indicating the tie was wrong. “Keep it up, Mom and Dad will have gray hair before we start junior year.”

“Who says they don’t already? Cover for me?” He held up the two remaining choices, not surprised when Kai indicated the blue.

She set her bag down and readied the tie so he could just slip it over his head. “From the folks? Only if you work double-shift at the shop on Saturday for me.”


Kai Addison

Kai Addison Takei

Kai Addison Takei

Keeping secrets to stay strong
Active, focused all day long
Imagination – the double-edged sword

Afraid, angry, annoyed
Determined to keep whole held
Destined, dancing around the void.
Instinct, intuition, intrusion, indecision
Sometimes gets the best of her
Only now she will emerge, remain the victor
Now detoured.