From Jungle to Jungle
By Abbie Johnson Taylor
“Mom, watch this!” my ten-year-old daughter Malissa cried, as she pulled herself to the highest bar of the jungle gym, then maneuvered her body so she was hanging upside down.
My heart in my mouth, my hand to my chest, I said, “Honey, please be careful.”
“Mom, I do this in gymnastics all the time.”
“Yes, but in gymnastics class, there are people around to spot you. Here at the park, there’s only me. I don’t know if I could catch you if you fall.”
A hand touched my shoulder. “Amy! I thought I’d find you two here.”
I turned to see Brian, the man I’d been having second thoughts about marrying, despite his tall, handsome, muscular physique and his great relationship with Malissa.
My daughter righted herself and swung to the ground, landing on her feet. “Bravo!” Brian cheered, as she smiled and bowed.
She hurried to him, and he hugged her. Then, ruffling her blond curls, he said, “I need to talk to your mom. Why don’t you go practice some more, okay?” Grinning, without another word, she rushed back to the jungle gym.
Turning to me, Brian said, “Hey, babe, I’ve got the perfect honeymoon for us.”
“Yeah, check this out.”
He pulled his phone from his pocket and handed it to me. With a sinking feeling, I scrolled through information about a safari in an African jungle. We would be hiking, observing wildlife, and sleeping in tents, and there would be no running water, electricity, or cell service.
Gazing into his excited face, I said, “Look, I don’t think this is going to work out. Yes, we like the same music and food. We have similar jobs, and we both love Malissa. But you know I’m not the outdoor type. I told you I went camping with my family when I was a teenager once and hated it. I’ll always love you, but you need a woman who’s outdoor experiences aren’t limited to going to the park with her ten-year-old daughter.”
He sobered. Taking my hand, he said, “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. I got carried away. We don’t have to do the African safari. We can do something else, okay?”
“Mom!” Malissa’s cry was more of fear than joy.
Turning to the jungle gym, I gaped in horror, as my daughter, having lost her grip on the bar, went hurtling through the air.
In one quick motion, Brian leaped forward and caught her. As he held her shaking body and soothed her, and she cried in his arms, I thought maybe a safari in Africa wasn’t such a bad idea.
The above short story placed in a flash fiction contest sponsored by Wyoming Writers and was published in their newsletter. The idea was to use the term, “from jungle to jungle,” in 500 words or less.
Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography
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New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me
Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.
Independently published with the help of DLD Books.
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Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.
After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.
Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.
Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?