Friday, July 19, Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s challenge is to go to a random plot generator, click it, get a plot. The link is:
The story starts when your protagonist joins a new club.
Another character is a producer who is incredibly charming.
Love in the Mud
I shoved the mud-baby back into the ground, and wiped a sweaty strand of hair off my face. Oh crap, it was struggling to the surface. “Damn you mud baby! Get back in there!” I shoved it in again, and dumped a bucket of dirt on it for good measure.
I heard a chuckle behind me. “Mud babies getting to you? They can be challenging.” Someone came and knelt beside me. He was cool and relaxed, and worked in the dirt with confidence. “They need gentle coaxing. You have to convince them to stay in the soft, warm dirt. Make them happy to live there; pet them, talk to them.” I realized my mouth was hanging open and snapped it shut. The mud baby probably heard it; I could hear giggling coming from the ground. I casually leaned my fore-arms down on the pile of dirt and tried to squish the little bastard.
He kept working in the dirt, and found the little monster I had tried to squash. “Ah, here he is. See how upset he is? Just wrap your hands around him and stroke his head with your thumbs. He’ll go to sleep.” He kept soothing the mud baby, and it lolled in his hand. Its head was hanging upside down over his hand. It opened one eye and stuck its tongue out at me. I hated mud babies.
I was, however, enjoying my new club. I had joined the garden club last week. I didn’t know many people here after my job transfer, and I needed to get out and make some friends.
At the end of our meeting, we had successfully planted a crop of mud babies around the Town Hall. I was sweaty and tired, but satisfied. A soft breeze ruffled the green feathery tops of the companion carrots planted beside the low mounds of the mud babies. The babies liked a carrot to snuggle up to, so their companions had been planted earlier. They were bizarre little characters, but at the end of the day, it felt good to get them settled in their new homes.
“Are you hungry? Would you like to get something to eat with me? Of course, if you have plans, I understand, but I’ll be disappointed.” It was the charming gardener. He smiled at me hopefully. I checked behind me to see to see if there was somebody there. Nope. Must be me. He had completely adorable blue eyes and a wide smile. I decided I was hungry.
Greg turned out to be interesting as well as charming. He was a producer of documentaries, and had come to town to collect some information on the rare local flowers, known as “roses”. They were beautiful and smelled lovely, but came with sharp bits on their stems.
Over the next few weeks I continued to tend the mud babies. The rest of the group had moved on to the more exotic roses. The muddy little buggers had decided they liked me, or maybe they enjoyed constantly harassing me. Either way, they wouldn’t behave for anybody else. They swam through the dirt, and spat mouthfuls of mud.
One day one of them attempted to snuggle up to somebody else’s carrot, and a fight erupted. I had my hands full pulling them apart, untangling long skinny fingers from stringy hair, avoiding mouth darts of mud, and quieting the shrieking. Eventually they all erupted into tears. It had started to rain, and I sat in the flower bed with my arms full of squalling mud babies. When everybody had calmed down, I settled them in their beds, then went to check on the instigator. He was sulking by himself, sitting with his littly bony back to the rest of us.
“Why are you snuggling somebody else’s carrot? You have a carrot of your own.”
He refused to turn around, just reached one hand out and sullenly pointed at a small, limp green carrot top.
I looked at the carrot. It was undersized and limp. It was dying.
“Oh no, I’m so sorry! I didn’t notice it wasn’t growing! Oh no, honey, come here, let’s get you a new carrot.”
The miserable mud baby crawled into my hand and I carried him to another building where some seedlings had been started. I let him pick one out, and then carefully dug it up, soil intact, and carried it back to his mound. We respectfully buried his old carrot, and I left him alone, gently patting his new, tiny companion.
“I’m just about done with the roses.” We were walking in the park at the end of the day, the hot summer sun fading into a cool evening. “I’ve got enough footage now, and will be heading home to work on it.”
I tried to hide my disappointment. I had been having such a good summer!
“Don’t be so sad!” He stopped walking and hugged me. “I want you to come with me. I could use your help. I’m going to get some of these roses to grow in my own garden, for the show. You’ve done so well with the mud babies, I’m sure you could handle the roses. I bet you’ve had enough of those little monsters.” He chuckled and smoothed my hair.
I was frozen – leave the mud babies? I had never even thought of that. Their molting time was coming in the fall, a difficult and emotional time for them. How could I leave them? I looked up at Greg. He was smiling at me in his arms, confidently assuming I would come with him.
I let go of him, and looked at the mud under my finger nails. Greg was charming and kind, and I liked him, but as I looked at the mud on my hands, I realized I loved my mud babies. They needed me, and I needed them. I could never leave them.
I hugged him one last time, and went back to check on my babies.