I’m a little late to the game. This was written for  yesterday’s prompt, but I forgot to post! Happily, it works for today’s post as well.

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Smoke and mirrors     n. a strategy of deception and cover up

Everyday she went to work, pasted a smile on her face and donned a ‘can-do’ attitude, but the lingering fear someone would discover that her act was all smoke and mirrors never disappeared.

Blow smoke      tv. to state something in a way that conceals the truth

After years of blowing smoke to her husband, her colleagues and herself, she was tired of pretending to enjoy a profession in which she no longer felt valued. 

Go up in smoke     v. to be wasted or spoiled

Quitting, though, was a difficult decision, and she wasn’t sure if she was ready to allow fifteen years of professional experience go up in smoke, nor did she relish the prospect of rearranging her life.

Smoke out     v. to force someone to stop hiding

Her childhood friend smoked her out and told her to consider if she still felt challenged and if not, would she let another fifteen years go by before doing something about it.

Smoke    n. 1. the cloud of black, gray or white gases and dust that is produced by burning something

The woman wanted to make a change,  but her job offered security, good insurance and a pension; logic won and burned her aspirations until they were nothing more than a pile of ash and smoke. 

n. 2. something of little value or permanence

Defeated, she resigned herself to years of drudgery, devaluation and despair while her dreams, her dedication and her desires floated away–condensed into wispy, ephemeral smoke with as little substance as a puff of air. 


I hope one day I write a book worthy of the title banned. 

It’ll mean I’ve made people uncomfortable

     that my words encouraged thought

          that there were conversations about differing viewpoints.

It’ll mean my book is an agent of change.

Perhaps my aspirations are too lofty, but ponder this:

Why do we write if not to influence others?

Why do we read if not to learn other ideas?

To all the banned books out there, thank you for making me think and for opening my eyes to new possibilities.

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Picture it. Southern Wisconsin 1984. Two children- a boy, age 10, and a girl, age 5, are about to make music history. Over their heads, they pull on the clean briefs they found in the laundry basket, placing the leg holes around their ears . They rip off their pants and stand, legs akimbo, in the middle of their living room- he in his superman Underoos and she in her Wonder Woman. Each clench an invisible microphone while the electrifying zing of a guitar blares through the speakers. The children dance to the wild cacophony of saxophone, guitar and drums until the chorus breaks.

“Urgent, urgent, emergency.”

They sing along until their voices are hoarse, and their little bodies collapse on a sweaty heap on the floor.

“Again?” he asks.

She giggles and nods. He places the needle on the record, knowing instinctively where to place it and they start all over again.

More than once, my brother and I were thankful our mother did not own a video recorder. She did, however, have a cassette player. To this day, the cassette resides in her underwear drawer, ready and waiting.

We have yet to plan a reunion tour.

(C) Sara Ackerman 2016


The Elf 

A conversation between me and my 13 y/o yesterday. 

13y/o: You look like an elf.

 Me: (raised eyebrows) Excuse me?  

13y/o:(backtracking) Not cuz you’re short. You look like you belong in a forest, running past trees 

Me: (I glance at my brown leggings and hunter green tunic and admit I am looking arboreal). Really? Running? 

13y/o: Yeah, you’re right. You’d make way too much noise stomping through the forest. And you’d probably fall down a lot, too, and they’d have to kill you for scaring everything away. 

Me: (offended) I can run. And I can be stealthy when I want.

 13y/o: (rolls her eyes) If you call moving like a T-rex on a caffeine withdrawal running, sure. You can run.

 Me: (becoming angry) A T-rex? 

13y/o: Yeah. (She puts her elbows into her sides and waves her hands, bellowing in what I can only describe as a tortured bray or a cross between a dying whale and a discordant cow). A T-rex. 

Me: I’m leaving now.

 13y/o: (She shouts to my retreating back). If you want to be an elf, best to stay at the main tree, but on the ground where it’s safe because, you know, falling.


(C) Sara Ackerman 2016


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During the first days of school we play a get-to-know you activity called “Two Truths and a Lie,” the object of which is to suss out the lie amidst the nuggets of truth.

This year I said:

1. I escaped from a mortuary.

2. I was almost mugged by a French motorcycle gang.

3. I got into a car with a stranger and took a ride to the top of a mountain.

My students were stymied, never expecting their responsible, middle-aged teacher to have those items on her list. Frankly, I was surprised too, as I had long since drawn a curtain over my younger, more daring self. I wondered where that irrepressible youth had gone with her sense of adventure and risk and couldn’t help but feel a bit old and a bit boring. 

Then I came to the startling realization that I am daring. To be sure, it’s a different type of daring than before. Instead of waking down side alleys in the dead of night, I’m writing and publishing books. That in itself is hugely daring. To share one’s words and ideas with others is daunting, but I’ve done what many have only talked about doing. 

I may not be as naively stupid as I once was. I certainly haven’t escaped any mortuaries recently or been almost mugged by a French motorcycle gang or, you know, gotten into a car with a stranger, but I continue to learn, to try and to dare. 

And for being a suburban teacher/writer, wife and mother of two, that’s o.k. by me.

(C) Sara Ackerman 2016