Plastic Letters

Plastic Letters

            I slouched on the old loveseat, feet propped on a purring cat, watching some mindless bit of reality on the old TV in the corner. I half saw Gabriel, my curly-blond horse of a two-year-old tromp into the room. His arms overflowed with magnetic alphabet letters scavenged from the fridge door. He dumped them onto the faded, brown cushion beside me and began turning them over in his tiny hands.  Over and over.  Faster and faster.  Soon grinding the pieces together, leaning over them until his adorable nose was only an inch away, he started mumbling.

            "What are you doing, boy?" I asked

            His pronunciation garbled the words he repeated in time to his grinding.

            "I mayin powdah.  I mayin powdah."

            "You're making powder?" I ventured.

            "No," he said, a maniacal smile growing on cherub cheeks.  "I mayin powdah."  His motions grew more frantic, bordering on violence.

            "I mayin powdah!  I mayin powdah!" 

            Searching for meaning in his chant, a strange thought occurred.

            "You're making power?"

            "Yes! Mayin Powder!"  His pronunciation became clearer, more precise with each repetition.

            "I Mayin Powdah!  Makin Powder!  Making Power!"

            His formerly sweet fingers blurred with speed, the plastic letters clacking. With one last shriek of "Making Power!" he spun, flinging chubby arms wide, and the letters flew out. Some slid across the floor, three shattered on the far wall, and several stuck on the rust spotted side of the deep freeze in the corner.

            Gabriel stood in front of me, arms thrown wide like a tiny Jesus, as I stared at the freezer.  The first S was upside down, the E sideways, the spacing crooked, but the word was there, unmistakable in plastic letters.   SNAKES.

            "They're coming, Daddy." I looked away from the word with an effort of will. His triumphant eyes were full of blue flame.

            " 'Nakes, Daddy. They coming," he said with that seraph's smile, pointing out the window into the gathering gloom.

            "They coming tonight, Daddy.  They coming for YOU."

 Daniel Mitchell

 Seduced by the book mobile at an early age, Daniel Mitchell grew up in a family composed equally of soldiers, outdoorsmen, and teachers. He worked a variety of jobs from life guard stands to loading docks, once managed the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, and spent some time in the oilfield building pipelines and perfecting the art of properly chosen expletives. For the last few decades he’s been a public school teacher of English and Science in Oklahoma and Alaska. Happily married and the father of two children as shockingly attractive and intelligent as their mother, he holds a BA in English, an MFA in Fiction, and is currently working on the release of his first novel, A Portion for Foxes.



  1. I love creepy kids. Excellent characterization in such a short piece-loved it!

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