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Short story: <i>Mad Meg</i>



Mad Meg’s what they call her, and I can see why.

She’s old, and smells funny, and pushes a shopping cart filled with all kinds of bags and blankets and crap you couldn’t sell at a rummage sale. She’s what the folks round here call a character with an indulgent tone in their voices, but if they see her coming they don’t stop to chat. She’s got grime caked all over her fingers and her hands look like recently pulled turnips. Her clothes are all the same colour and her hair wisps over her face and that’s the same colour as her hands and her clothes and everything about her, really. And she pushes her cart about the place, mumbling to herself about justice and divine providence and an archangel with a flaming sword.

Mad Meg has a hide-out in the park, sort of like a cubby really, because everybody has to live somewhere. It’s a couple of pieces of ply leaning against a tree, and I think Old Joe, one of the other folks that lives in the park, strung it up somehow so it doesn’t blow down when there’s a wind. I snuck into Mad Meg’s cubby a little while ago, because it was raining and I didn’t want to get my new sneakers dirty because Ma would yell. It smelled pretty bad in there, but it was neat and dry and not muddy so my sneakers wouldn’t suffer. And as I sat there and watched the rain course down I noticed that stacked up around the walls were pieces of crockery, and photo frames, and glasses, and figurines and other household discards from happy family dinner tables and sideboards and kitchens. And they had been broken, but Meg had some tubes of superglue and that household cement stuff and she had painstakingly stuck each thing back together. I could see her fingerprints in the glue work, could see where she’d sat and patiently put something back together with her old turnip fingers pressed hard into the joins to keep them stuck. She’d reformed almost a whole set of willow pattern dinnerware and had it where pride of place would be in her little lean-to.

Once the rain eased up I cut off home quick-smart so Ma didn’t get mad at me for staying out even if I had kept my sneakers nice. But I’ve never forgotten Meg’s collection, her stray ornaments that she looks after and loves after nobody else wants them. So I don’t call her Mad Meg anymore. At least not in my head.

This is the result of a fifteen minute writing exercise. The only constrictions were the time limit and five randomly selected words from the dictionary. Today the words were: rummage, justice, fingerprint, crockery, and character.

Image courtesy of thepatrick.

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