Jelly Balls

Glad you could join us for the next jarring episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot J
Photo credit: Judy Townsend

The approaching shadow spread over Elliot, blanketing him with a dark so deep he knew it was Death. He closed his eyes, apologized with all his heart for the time he’d told his little brother that the salt lick they’d happened across was an icy slip-and-slide, and he prepared to die.

A nudge flipped him right side up. Having never heard of Death nudging anyone, he opened his eyes to face a gigantic creature with a mouth full of wriggling jelly balls.

“Hak ih. Ahl kahee oo uh.”

Elliot, rapidly running out of consciousness, just stared as the creature tilted to one side, rolling all the balls into one cheek.

“Hop in. I’ll carry you up.”

With a massive effort, Elliot pushed off from the grassy clump and floated toward the gaping maw of his bizarre rescuer. Bumping into the rubbery mass of gelatinous spheres, he curled his foot around his host’s lip, and hoped against hope he would make it to the surface alive.

But, as speckles of oxygen deprivation filled his field of vision, he went limp and passed out.

To be continued…

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

#AtoZChallenge A-to-Z Fictioneers: Interested in original fiction? Here’s a list of writers who are writing stories for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. The author’s link will take you to their “A” post. If you know of any other story writers I can share, please drop the link in the comments!

Today’s twofer from April 12, 2016:

Jangle All the Way

“Can you say your little poem for me?” Grandma Ranscht, Grandma Jenkins, Aunt Sis, and Aunt Dorrie at least twice each. In the last hour.

Of course I could say my little poem for them. Did they think I was stupid? Hadn’t I been saying my little poem on command for the last week? Just because I was only two-and-a-half, didn’t mean I didn’t know what was at stake here.

My Aunt Sis, the beloved Sunday School teacher of the pre-school set, had chosen me to deliver the quatrain that would open the Christmas Eve Pageant at The Church. It was an honor I felt I deserved. She loved me, I loved her, she knew I could do it, I knew I could do it, and we both knew I wouldn’t let anybody down.

From where I currently sit on the timeline of my life, trusting a toddler to recite anything on command in front of a room full of strangers carries the same level of risk as jumping from a perfectly good airplane in flight without being absolutely certain there’s a chute in your pack.

I’m sure Sis thought cuteness overload at the beginning of the pageant guaranteed a warm audience willing to cheer for anything that followed. Not that there would be cheering — we were in The Church, after all. But it was gonna be a great opener as long as the very tiny cute person could carry it off.

Moment of Truth. I walked alone from my seat in the front pew next to Sis, across the very wide space leading to the dais, and up the three steps to the edge of The Stage. I turned to face the congregation. I stood up straight, my fancy-shiny Christmas dress, its gathered skirt and petticoat with just the right amount of bounce, sparkling like the little star I was. Sis caught my eye and nodded. I looked out over the crowd, and in a sure voice loud enough to carry to the back pew with heartfelt expression, delivered my little poem perfectly!

I was supposed to wait till they applauded, give a little bow, and return to my seat to watch the rest of the festivities. I was already aglow with success. A beat of silence, and then…

They laughed.

They were laughing at me and their laughter crushed my insides. Had I said it wrong? Tears burned my eyes, embarrassment burned my face. As uncertain as I felt in that moment, I was sure I wanted to disappear in a blink, never to be seen again. I ran down the stairs and straight to Sis to jump up in her lap and have her hide me from the world.

But what was this? Sis had tears in her eyes, too — and she was laughing just as hard as everybody else.

I felt betrayed, which is a pretty big feeling the first time a little person has it. It fills you up and almost pushes out the humiliation. But not quite. Alone in the world, I stared at her while my tears flowed.

“It’s all right. It was funny. They were supposed to laugh.” Sis the Betrayer, She Who Fails to Share Vital Information

In that instant, I became what is commonly referred to as “painfully shy”. Fearful of being judged. Insecure. Withdrawn. No more little poem recitations. No sharing little songs I learned. I would watch. And hope no one expected anything of me but my presence. Better yet, I hoped no one would even notice I was there.

Over the years, I left most of that behind, but I carried an important parental lesson forward: Tell little children not only what’s going to happen, but what it means. They don’t understand nearly as much as you assume they do, but their emotions work just the same as yours.

“Explain as you would a child.” Sarris, Evil Alien in Galaxy Quest, World’s Best Dad on his home planet.

Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

22 thoughts on “Jelly Balls”

    1. I’m glad you appreciate those things, Barry. I must admit, I laughed out loud when Elliot’s prank occurred to me. Then I wondered — just for a moment, mind you — “What on earth is wrong with me?” lol

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Rescue!!! Phew! That was too close for comfort Elliott…🙆🐚🐚🙆
    Your story was really poignant too – we have to make the world understandable for children…they grow up too fast as it is. 😺💞x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my Elliot – I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to climb into a mass of jelly balls.
    My heart goes out to the little you Sue who had such a painful and unexpected shift. But what a gift the wise woman you brings in reminding us all to be mindful of our actions and our need to help others navigate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed both parts of this twofer, Sue. Elliott is certainly having a tough time! Your story of misunderstanding happened to me as a young one too. It’s amazing how those misunderstood responses affect our self-esteem, even once we understand. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the loooong delayed response, Shweta — I’ve just discovered 8 comments in a spam folder I didn’t realize I had.

      It makes me all giggly inside that you laughed. I hope you’ll keep visiting and continue to enjoy Elliot’s story.


  4. I love the way your tale is moving along there. Elliot’s had quite the bumpy ride in less than two weeks!

    Ah, the insecurity of being judged, of being laughed at for something that to you seems heartfelt. There were no poetry recitals in my past, but I know that feeling all too well.

    And may I just say, what a fantastic little choice of quote at the end. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Heroes have to earn the title. Never give up. Never surrender, right? 😉

      I suspect that insecurity helps define many, if not all of us. Maybe stripping off the shroud of embarrassment we bury it in will show us how alike we really are beneath our skin.

      Liked by 1 person

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