Category Archives: 300 Project

The Demonstration

The girls giggled as Sara Reddick held the banana, half turned away from it. Miss Coletti described her actions as she went along. “Carefully open the package and take out the prophylactic. Be sure you know which side is up; you want the body of the roll facing toward the reservoir.” She spoke as technically as possible, trying to keep the nervous tittering to a minimum. “Once you’re sure you have it oriented properly, gently—Oh, for Christ’s sake, Marcy!”

The class erupted in laughter as the banana fell to the floor, half-dropped, half-thrown. Sara shuffled to her chair and buried her face in her arms. Miss Coletti sighed heavily. “It’s not a rattlesnake girls; it’s a banana. You’ve all eaten them before; I’ve seen you in the lunchroom.”

“That’s not what it’s supposed to be, though, is it?” piped up Anise Johnson. She was a trouble-maker, always asking uncomfortable questions and making questionable remarks.

“It would be just my luck if it was her,” Mary Coletti remarked to herself. “No, Miss Johnson, that is not what it is supposed to be.” Miss Coletti always addressed them formally when she needed to show her displeasure. “But statistically, about a third of you have already seen and even touched what it is supposed to be, so it shouldn’t be too much for me to expect one of you to hold a banana for three minutes.”

“Then why not use a real one? Or you know…a dildo.” Anise whispered the last. Mary Coletti noted that she had some shame, at least.

“Because your parents would storm the building with pitchforks and torches; it was hard enough getting this simple demonstration past the PTA.” She gave Anise a hard and frank look. “Maybe you should be up here, since you’re so confident.”

Rising to the challenge, Anise strode to the front of the class and retrieved the banana from the floor. She held the banana at her groin and made humping motions. “Like this?”

“Something like that,” Miss Coletti answered, “but, if you don’t loosen your grip, your boyfriend will be your girlfriend before the end of the night.” Anise reddened, and almost dropped the banana, but recovered, and held it properly.

“Why do we have to learn this?” asked Tricia Parks. “Can’t the boys do it themselves?”

“Because people lie,” Miss Coletti answered. “And the best way to be sure a job is done is to do it yourself.” Because seventeen years ago, one of you had a father who lied, and a sixteen-year-old girl lost a year of her life and the only thing she ever really loved, Mary’s rebellious brain added.

She turned back to Anise, and continued the demonstration.

The Sentinel

He stands alone on the hill, the soft lights below him, watching.

People go about their lives, suffused in the warmth of their fires. Only a few know he even exists, a lone sentinel, freeing their minds from the terrors of the dark woods behind him. He doesn’t mind; he isn’t there for rewards, or accolades, or even recognition. He is there because he must be; it is what he was made to do.

In a room lit by fire and love, a little girl asks if the sentinel will be all right, and is answered by sad, knowing smiles. This will be one of his last nights above, if he survives it at all.

He is overcome with exhaustion and his shoulders sag. He has watched over the village for as long as he remembers, and, if he had heard the family below him, he would know they are right. This was likely his last night.

A desire for sleep suddenly tries to overwhelm him, and he fights it off. If he must go tonight, he will do so fulfilling his duty. There are frightening things behind him that must stay there; nightmares, secrets, and forgotten fears. He crumples a little more, but holds to his resolve.

A cool breeze restores him, somewhat. Not enough to make him stand tall again, but he knows now that will never happen. He just needs to make it through the night. When the sun rises once again over the village square, he can rest, his work done.

A stray dog, wandering from nowhere to nowhere, lays against him, sheltering against the wind. It licks him once in gratitude and once again in sympathy. After a few moments, it leaves.

The song of a snow bird rouses him from a deep contemplation. Had he slept? He didn’t think so. The village lay safely below him, still tucked into its valley. There are fewer lights now, but that just means the people are asleep, trusting their lives to their lone sentinel.

Gloaming came, and as the world grows lighter, his body becomes heavier. Finally, the sun peaks above the far hill. The sentinel sees it, smiles a soft, inner smile, and falls. His duty done.

December 1, 2020; Melt, from the Chinese ideogram, Rong.