Mo's Manic Monday - Heat

Posted: Monday, June 18, 2007 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to another Manic Monday with Morgen. Don't forget to cruise by MM HQ at It's A Blog Eat Blog World.

Today's theme is Heat. I offer another original work of fiction.

Tea At High Noon

Zach and Ethan walked across the hot sand. The sun was bright in the high cloudless sky. Waves of heat shimmered in the muggy air. It was too hot to breathe.

Ethan pulled the brim of his Dodgers cap lower over his eyes and squinted. Using the front of his T-shirt, he wiped dirt and sweat off of his face. He wished he hadn’t guzzled his Gatorade so fast. His mouth felt sticky and dry, and the sweat kept dripping in his eyes. With the front of his shirt damp and soggy, he switched to the sleeve of his T-shirt and wiped at his face again.

"It's too hot," Ethan whined. "My eyes are stinging. Let’s rest awhile." There was no shade, so he sat down on the sand, past caring about the super-heated grains that scorched his tender backside through the fabric of his shorts.

Zach was out of patience with his friend. He never understood why Ethan always drank Gatorade. That stuff just seemed to make Zach even thirstier. That’s why he chose regular bottled water. His favorite was Aquafina. It was cheaper than Gatorade so he could get a liter bottle and he still had about a third of that bottle left. He gulped down two cool swallows and belched.

"Fine," Zach snorted. "It's funny how the heat didn't bother you so much when you were kickin' my tail at handball."

When he got no rise out of his friend, Zach rolled his eyes. "Alright you big baby. Just remember, Mom said to be home by 12:30, and it's already almost noon."

Ethan didn't respond. The nine year old was pleased with himself for getting his way and for finally winning a game. Even though Zach had made them quit early so they could be home on time, Ethan still declared himself the winner. Zach called the game postponed until another day and although Ethan did argue he eventually just let it go. Zach was six months older and four inches taller, and was simply more assertive and confident.

Zach sat down on the sand next to Ethan. They were on their way home from the elementary school, having decided to take the short cut past the fabricated lake. There was hardly any water in the lake because there was hardly any water anywhere. The ground was baked and cracking nearly down to the water line, where a crease of mud disappeared into the stagnant water.

It was the fourth year of a drought.

"C’mon Ethan, let's go. If we're late, Mom won't let me spend the night at your house."

"What's that?" Ethan exclaimed suddenly, surging to his feet.

"What's what?" Zach craned his neck around to look in the direction his friend pointed.

About twenty yards from where they rested, lying in the damp mud near the edge of the water, was a gleaming speck of metal. Both boys were constantly on alert for stray scraps of material they might use in their various games and projects. Ethan started to walk toward this latest discovery. As he drew closer, he burst into a run, thoughts of the heat forgotten. Zach got to his feet more slowly and followed.

When Zach finally reached Ethan, the smaller boy was busy inspecting a rusted tea kettle. At his feet, beetles and ants scurried for new shade.

"Put that down," cried Zach. "Look at all the bugs. Put it back."

Zach liked bugs, and the unspoken rule between the two boys was that they never disturbed any object that served as a home for more than twenty insects.

"Nope," replied Ethan, his eyes flashing defiance at the taller boy. He jutted out his chin and planted his feet in stolid defense of his prize. "I'm keeping it. See, it looks just like that magic lamp we saw on that movie."

Zach examined the object more closely, and finally had to admit that it did resemble Aladdin's lamp. He stopped worrying about the bugs.

"I'll bet if we washed off all the dirt and sand, it'd be all gold and shiny," Zach suggested.

Ethan nodded vigorously and walked to the edge of the lake. He dipped his prize below the surface and swooshed it around in the murky water. But when he pulled it out after several moments, Zach smirked.

"Some magic lamp."

The tea kettle was still old and rusty, and now it was streaked with more muck. Ethan continued to defend it as a prize. "It was your dumb idea to dunk it. Anyway, it's got a brass ring. See?" He pointed to this treasure, strung through the kettle's handle.

Zach shrugged, and then he had another thought. "Hey, rub it and make a wish. See what happens."

Ethan hesitated.

"Go on, do it. What are you, chicken?" Zach's edge was using Ethan's insecurities to his advantage. He claimed the privilege as a right, since he was Ethan's best friend.

The smaller boy still hesitated, though his face darkened ominously at the challenge.

"You are chicken," declared Zach. "Give it here. I'll do it."

"No! I saw it first."

"Yeah, but I'm bigger. Besides, you won't do anything, because you're chicken."

Thus goaded, Ethan spun away from his friend's out stretched hands and began vigorously to rub at the side of the tea kettle. He scrunched his eyes closed and concentrated with all his might. He did not have the chance to form a wish.

Zach pushed his friend to the ground and grabbed the kettle as it bounced free. The boys scuffled. The kettle squirted away from them and rolled into the muddy shallows of the lake. Quite suddenly, the boys stopped fighting and looked sheepishly at each other.

"Sorry," they muttered.

"What'd you push me for?" wondered Ethan.

Zach shrugged. "I don't know. I wanted to make a wish."

"I would've let you, after me."

"But, maybe you only get one."

"Magic lamps always give three wishes. Everybody knows that."

"I'm sorry I called you chicken. You're not."

Ethan grinned.

Imagination can be a wonderful, mysterious thing.

The boys pulled the tea kettle out of the mud and sat down to put their heads together. Two nine year olds tried to discover what, between them, they wanted most, and how best to utilize the wish or wishes they were now convinced awaited them.

Zach collected superhero action figures, but he had so far been unable to get his hands on a good Captain America figure. All the figures he wanted were too expensive. The ones he could afford were cheap looking, or were the wrong size for his collection, which had the best figures of any collection any of his friends had. Cap was Zach’s favorite superhero and he thought he deserved to have the best action figure.

Ethan wanted to be as tall as his friends. Zach wasn't a large boy; it was just that Ethan was a small one. He had always been the shortest in his class among both boys and girls. He wanted to grow four inches, so he could fit in better with the other kids. He was tired of being a runt, and of getting picked on because of it. Even his best friend teased him and got away with it because Ethan's size made the boy uneasy about standing up for himself.

“I guess Cap is pretty cool,” Ethan reluctantly agreed.

Zach cocked his head. “Well, yeah. But maybe it would be pretty cool too if you were as tall as me.”

"What if there really is only one wish in the lamp?" worried Ethan.

"Which one of us gets the wish then?”

The boys eyed each other a little suspiciously.

“I don’t know why you’re so worried about growing all the time. What’s the big deal anyway?”

“Well,” said Ethan cautiously. “If I was as tall as you, then we’d make a better team for basketball. And I could hit better in baseball. And I just think we’d have more fun.”

“Maybe,” Zach agreed. “But you’re pretty quick and if you’d just learn how to dribble better, nobody could steal the ball from you and then we’d win more pick up games. And you can draw a lot of walks ‘cause of your small strike zone.”

Ethan crossed his arms and frowned. “That’s what you always say. You always blame me when we lose.”

“I do not!”

“Yeah you do! Besides, I found the lamp!”

“You never want to share anything. You’re just selfish!”

“And you want to waste the wish on a stupid thing!”

The boys continued shouting at each other and did not see the Old Man. The Old Man lived near the lake, in a portable cardboard house, with a cat named George. No one knew the Old Man's name. Everyone just called him the Old Man, and brought left over scraps down to the lake for George.

The Old Man crouched on the opposite shore of the lake absently stroking his cat. George purred loudly. The Old Man smacked his lips together and spat, then looked at George.

"Too bad there couldn't be a little bit of a storm to rain down on those two and cool them off."

George blinked his eyes once and continued to purr.

Within seconds, there came a mighty clap of thunder. Thick dark clouds appeared, roiling about the sky, forming a vast storm system. The sky boiled with activity, and then it began to rain, the first summer rain to fall in years.

It stopped the boys' quarreling instantly. They stared at each other, their mouths hanging open, and then they raised their faces to the sky. They blinked as the rain gathered in their eyelashes and rolled down their cheeks. They giggled, and then laughed, their argument and its reason forgotten…

…until they heard the sizzling at their feet.

They looked down and yelped in utter dismay.

The tea kettle had disintegrated, its one allotted wish spent by the Old Man’s call for rain.

The End


  1. Gattina says:

    I had that too, first heat and then buckets of rain !

  1. sasha says:

    I love tea anytime of the day :)

    This is my first Manic Monday participation :)

    Happy Monday!

  1. Wow! You really do great dialogue! I was so totally into that, I was shocked when it ended. That's the sign of a great story...Like I said, wow.

  1. Shaz says:

    I love your take on "heat", you really get the reader hooked x x x

  1. Pauline says:

    Thankyou for entertaining me while I had my breakfast cup of tea. Your description of the heat of the day was so good I could really imagine myself there, which since I'm in rainy old England is quite a trick. Brilliant!

  1. mousey says:

    i prefer drinking tea specially pepper mint rather than coffee.

    great story!

  1. Reba says:

    Whoof... whoof. My hooman mom fell asleep so I took over the puter. We both like what you write. She'll come back in the mornin' and finish readin'. Arrfff.

    I’m a puppy dog
    With my own blog.
    Bring me a treat
    And we’ll talk about heat.
    Come visit.

  1. Turnbaby says:

    You capture the spirit of little boys so well. And your dialogue is spot on.

    Excellent job sugar


  1. Matt-Man says:

    Fine job as always Trav...I hope your curtain hanging went well. Cheers!!

  1. very well written........

  1. Angell says:

    WOW - that was great Trav. Looks like the muse has come a callin' eh my friend?

    Excellent job.

  1. Comedy + says:

    I just love your stories Travis, they are indeed entertaining. Have a great MM. :)

  1. TopChamp says:

    That's a lovely story. I heard kids playing at school today making up stories and then guessing which one was the lie. It sounded fun!

  1. Gledwood says:

    Tea rocks!

    I've been here b4, I can feel it ...

    I'm passing via a friend of a friend's blog saw your funky picture again ...

    ok take it e.z.


  1. Morgen says:

    cool and interesting
    you always have such great endings to your short fiction!

  1. lisa says:

    Ahhh good one Travis! I thoroughly enjoyed your story.

  1. well i would have wished for cake! great story trav! really nice...

    smiles, bee

  1. Marilyn says:

    I didn't see that ending coming. That was great. I know it was said already, but you do dialogue really well.

  1. Mags says:

    I'm with Gracie-your dialogue is fantastic.

  1. That was great! I always enjoy how you write.

  1. ian says:

    Decent tale, Travis - thanks for sharing it with us!


  1. Meribah says:

    This was definitely a fun read. It kept me captivated until the very end! I found it interesting that, while the two boys wished for relatively unimportant things, and fought over who was worthy to have his wish come true, the old man wished for something that was truly needed and had his wish granted.

  1. Bond says:

    Cool short story Travis....

  1. Travis says:

    Gattina: I'm getting the rain part but not the heat.

    Sasha: Welcome to MM!

    Gracie: Thanks for the encouragement. I nitpick the dialog because I want each character to have his own voice.

    Shaz: Thanks! Glad you liked it1

    Pauline: I'm pleased to be able to transport you out of the rain!

    Mousey: I'm a coffee drinker myself.

    Reba: **tosses the puppy some scooby snacks**

    Turn: Thank you my darlin!

    Matt: Well, the curtain buying went well but I didn't get to the hanging part. Got side-tracked.

    Sarge: Thank you Sir.

    Angell: Well, this one is actually resurrected from a number of years ago, but the muse visited so I could finish it.

    Comedy: Awww shucks! Thank you!

  1. Travis says:

    TC: That does sound like a fun game.

    Gledwood: Don't ya just love that deja vu? Thanks for stopping!

    Mo: Your topics are helping quite a bit. The themes are often just what I need to shove the story along.

    Lisa: Good to see ya girl!

    Bee: Me too!

    Marilyn: I try to keep my endings surprising - nobody likes to be predictable.

    Mags: Thanks darlin!

    Katherine: Long time no see!

    Ian: Thanks for dropping in!

    Meri: Yup. We should probably pay attention to our elders eh?

    V: Thanks dude!

  1. julie says:

    Yup....i echo these responses....

    Adorable that you had the youngster wipe his mouth with his shirt!

    **hugs and ummm yeah...hugs**

    **runs off giggling**

  1. wolfbaby says:

    Trav you always manage to blow me away with your stories... awesome as always, can't wait for more;)

  1. Anndi says:

    I love my big bro. The wisdom of the old, how refreshing for the young...

  1. Sanni says:

    Excellent, my friend! Me and Jersey, we both enjoyed your "heat" ;)

  1. Travis says:

    Starrlight: Thanks!

    Julie: Heheheheheh

    Wolfbaby: Thanks for the kind words!

    Ann: Only if they stop long enough to soak it up.

    Sanni: Jersey is a great audience eh?

  1. Good stuff. Yes, I'm that behind on commenting :-)