Tuesday, January 30, 2018

“The Battle” by Mary Ellen Main



There are a number of things in this world that drive me mad. Tangled Christmas lights, hooked up hangers or several balls of wool that have managed to intertwine themselves. If I encounter one of these situations I simply must conquer or destroy. It’s a thing, I know it. But there is one thing that trumps all others, the true bane of my existence, the clothing label.

“Tag,” as I call him, and I have had it out many times over the years and usually I managed to neutralize him before the fight even begins, but there was one day where I underestimated him and the battle that ensued was of epic proportions.

I was running a bit late for a visit with my brother Frank. It was a hot, sticky, August day so I threw on my shorts and a new summer top. It was so hot, that by the time I reached the car I was already sweating and not just a little cranky. The temperature outside had nothing on the inside of my car. I had to stand back when I opened the door for fear of igniting. My air conditioning wasn’t the greatest so with all windows open I began the short drive to my brother’s.

As I was nearing Joseph Brant Hospital the traffic slowed down considerably. There was some kind of construction going on so we were stop and go all the way. It was at this time that I felt a sting at the back of my neck. “OW! I cried, what was that?” 

I felt around back there but didn’t find anything, so as the car crept along I forgot about it. OW!, there it was again, something was definitely biting me, so this time I grabbed at the hem of my neck and discovered my old arch nemesis, Tag, armed and ready for battle.

I was in no mood to fight him, so I adjusted the shirt to a different position, thinking I would deal with him once I got to Frank’s. 

Old Tag though would have none of it; he was spoiling for a fight and proved it by biting me again. This time I used both hands to yank him away from my neck, I wanted to get my finger underneath him to pull him off me completely. Just as I was making progress the cars started moving so I was forced to retreat and Tag settled back into hiding. 

I could just hear him, “Come on, you may as well give it up, you don’t want to fight me while you’re driving.” 

Not to be outdone, I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and sneered, “Oh, it’s on!

I have to give it to him; he was proving to be a formidable foe. I pulled and tore at him every time the car stopped. When I heard a rip I thought I might be gaining ground, but he was still there, hanging by a thread mind you, but there none the less. I faintly heard him cry, “Is that all you got? I almost felt sorry for him until he bit me again.

Think Mary Ellen, you cannot let this little shit get the better of you. A weapon, yes! That is what I needed and I knew just where to get it.



My purse was on the passenger seat next to me, so keeping my eyes on the road, I started feeling around blindly inside for a little pair of nose hair scissors I kept in there. Of course they were not where they usually lived and this latest setback was proving to be my undoing. I was starting to lose it. In a rage I upended my entire purse onto the seat and started rifling through the contents, throwing anything that wasn’t the scissors onto the floor. Ah Ha! Finally, gleaming in the sun coming through the window was my salvation.  Now I was armed and ready for my last stand.

We were moving along slowly now so using one hand I pulled him up and over my shoulder. I could see the terror in his eyes as he spotted the scissors. I had to wait until we stopped again before I could start my attack. He laughed as he realized my weapon was as dull as dish water. The fabric to which he clung to so desperately was just being folded into the scissors. This only renewed my will to destroy. I grabbed now with both hands and ripped with all my might. The sound of fabric tearing was music to my ears as he was finally torn free and vanquished to the floor of my car. 

On the way down I heard him mutter, “You may have one this battle, but the war is not over yet!”

I finally pulled into my brother’s driveway. A nice soft breeze was blowing on my neck, well my whole back actually, but why split hairs. I exited the car with the sweet taste of victory on my lips when my brother stopped in his tracks. He had just seen my shirt, “Oh my God, what happened to you?”

“What, this is nothing. You should see the other guy.”

Mary Ellen Main grew up in Burlington and is now back there after living in Vancouver for 33 years, where she worked in the film industry and started writing after taking two online University English courses. She needed to be inspired to begin writing again after she moved back to Burlington and Brian’s course has done just that. She hopes to write a novel one day.

See Brian’s complete current schedule here,  including writing workshops, weekly writing classes and writing retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


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