Friday, August 16, 2013

Pinata Birthday Party

I’m sorry I’m so late with my second writing project. I started it a while ago, but I haven’t been overly enthused about it, so I haven’t worked on it. I know, classic procrastination. Anyway, I can’t promise that it’s that great, but here you go:

Prompt # 2: Write the story of a child’s birthday party from the perspective of the piñata.

I began my life as a sticky mess of something called paiper mâché stuck onto a flexible frame. Two pairs of hands molded me and coaxed me into existence. Well, one pair coaxed; the other poked and prodded. The former pair was sturdy and larger than the other. The woman who belonged to those hands was focused and kept telling the other person to pay attention.

“I know you’re excited,” she kept saying, “but do you want to help with your piñata or not?”

Piñata? So that’s what I was to be called. If I had a nose, I would have wrinkled it at the other person and her pair of hands. They were grimy and never stayed still. She would pat at the wet stuff on my frame and then bounce around the room, screeching something about a birthday party and how excited she was. I wished that she would go away. But then she came skipping back to run her little hands through that nasty-looking paste stuff, drip it all over the newspaper pieces and the table, and slather me with it. The cold seeped into me. Then the woman who seemed to be in control put newspaper on me, covered in more sticky stuff. They left a hole in me, set me on top of the hole, and then disappeared for a long time.

I could feel the paiper mâché harden as I waited for them to come back. I couldn’t move; I was stuck on the table where they had left me. Eventually they returned, though. For a few minutes, both people worked on adding more layers to my body, but then the little one scurried out of the room. I was glad that she left. I didn’t think I could handle much more of her vigorous patting. The one with the bigger hands continued to layer me with gooey paper before leaving again. So I sat there, waiting. There is nothing else to do when you’re lying on a table but don’t have hands or feet to move with.

Noise emanated from other places that I didn’t know about. I could hear the little girl’s voice, but other sounds wafted in as well. Some kind of deep snapping sound reached me; then a terrifying animal came bounding into the room, colored brown and black and slobbering. The thing on his backside – a tail? – wagged back and forth at dizzying speed. He spotted me and launched toward the table, but then the woman dashed in and grabbed that red thing around his neck. As she pulled him from the room, she muttered something about dogs and crafts not mixing.

She came back a long time later and began to apply some more wet stuff. But this was not paper; it was just wet stuff, colored green. She dipped a brush into it and wiped the brush on me, over and over. Then she stuck strange pointy things on two sides of me. She added two little circles with smaller, wiggly circles inside of them and then stepped back, smiling.

“I think we have success,” she commented, then called, “Honey, do you want to see your alligator?”

No one came, though. She stepped out of the room; when she returned some time later, she carried a large bag in her hand, full of lumpy things with all kinds of different colors. She proceeded to dump the contents inside of me. At first, they bounced off my insides and rattled around, but then they settled into a nice pile that grew bigger and bigger. When she had emptied the bag, she put more paiper-mâché over the hole. Then she left again! I was really getting tired of this routine.

She did not come back until after the world had gone dark and then become light again. She picked me up, attached some strings to me, and then took me outside, where she handed me to larger person, a man. He stood on a metal thing with slats in it. When she handed me to him, he stepped up higher and tied my strings around a thick branch. He pushed me back and forth before going back down to the ground and taking the metal thing away.

People moved around the yard for a while, hanging up paper things called streamers and setting up tables with balloons on them. They left me alone, though. Then I heard a new sound.


The little girl ran into the house, followed by her mother. They didn’t come out for a while. I heard more ding-dongs, and the sounds of laughter from inside became louder and louder. Then, all of a sudden, a river of small people came pouring out into the yard. They were dressed in pretty dresses and were squealing in those high-pitched voices I’d already decided I hated. They sat down at the tables, and the woman came out with a cake, flickering with candles, in her hands. Singing and laughter and more shrieks ensued.
When they got up from the tables, though, their attention turned to me. The man who had put me up in the tree got a long, smooth, tan-colored stick and handed it to his daughter, who walked toward the tree. She grasped the stick fiercely and pursed her lips, studying me. What was she going to do?

Thwack! She hit me with the stick, making me swing from side to side. Ow! Why was she hitting me?! She did it again. Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! I was rocking violently back and forth by now. Then she handed the stick to another little girl, who did the same thing! Ow! This hurt! Four more children whacked at me with the stick. And then, I suddenly broke open! I couldn’t stop myself; my frame simply cracked, spilling the stuff inside me all over the ground. Instant screaming ensued as the girls rushed into the middle of the mess. I continued to swing to and fro, feeling bruised and emptied. When they had gathered all the stuff up, the girls ran to another part of the yard. They continued to laugh and scream and stuff those little lumpy things into their mouths, but they left me alone, swinging in the wind.

The biggest struggle I had with this one was personifying something that has no ears but can hear things, has no eyes but can see things, and has no nerves but can feel pain. With some things, I couldn’t decide how a pinata would describe it. As the story goes on, he seems to know more about the world around him. In the end, it was a ridiculous prompt, so I had to remind myself to be a bit ridiculous. Let me know what you think - I'm open to suggestions and critiques.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The World May Change, but Some Things Stay the Same

Is our world worse today than it used to be? Our immediate response is to think, “Yes, of course it’s worse.” I personally struggle with fear when I realize how many kidnappings, murders, and assaults take place in the U.S. every day. Hearing about the constant turmoil in the Middle East or the steady encroachment on our liberties scares me. It’s so easy to think that our time is much more awful than our parents’ time or our grandparents’ time. We as humans naturally think our circumstances are worse than anyone else’s, because we’re pretty selfish. We also hear about way more bad things happening than they ever did.

However, are more bad things actually happening? I think that’s ultimately debatable, and I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of facts and figures right now. As a concept, however, I find this fascinating. Bad things happened when my parents were young too. Kidnappers didn’t start working just because I was born. People have been murdered since the time of Cain and Abel. Your grandparents probably lived through World War II, for goodness’ sake! And you cannot say that that was easier to face than our struggles. To deal every day with the threat of Hitler wreaking evil all over the world – can you imagine how terrifying that must have been?

Now, yes, it is true that our world is becoming ever-more sinful as we draw closer to the End Times. Our society as a whole is probably worse than it was when our grandparents were young. More people live together before they’re married; more children are born out wedlock; divorce is at an abhorrently high level. Nonetheless, my grandparents’ world was not perfect. And bad things happened to them too. I believe it was my pastor who said, “It’s not that the world has gotten so much worse. It’s that our news coverage has gotten better.”

This has really struck me the more I’ve thought about it. Yes, we can live in fear of the ever-increasing horror that is our world. We can cower as we listen to the news, wondering how we’re ever going to survive. But you know what? We’re not going to. Eventually we will die. You may die from old age; you may be murdered at the prime of life; you may lose your life because of cancer. But that is not the end. The way God intends it, humanity’s story is not completed on this earth. Far from it. Our time on Earth is just a blip in eternity. We’ll spend the rest of our time in one of two places. So, no matter how bad this world gets, God’s plan hasn’t changed. And it’s important to remember that God has not forgotten us. He has not abandoned us to the evil in this world.  

In Genesis 9, God established a covenant with Mankind that He would never again flood all the earth. The rainbow symbolizes this particular promise, but I often think of it as a reminder of all His promises. And God still sends rainbows…
So, in the midst of our struggles, when it feels like the world is crashing down, we can remember that our God has not abandoned us. And just like God’s plan remains the same, our mission has not changed. If nothing else, it’s become even more critical. We are called to share Jesus with the people around us. We are called to be faithful to God’s leading. We are called to love our neighbors. The way that looks for each of us may be different, but our purpose remains the same. How will you answer the call?