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Pollyanna lacks common sense, she was told this more than once. Her therapist…Yes, Pollyanna has a therapist. It’s 2010, not 1913 anymore, and now no one seems  able to play “The Glad Game” without therapists, shrinks, and  selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors….Her therapist says it isn’t so much that Pollyanna lacks common sense. “It’s just you’re a bit naïve, Pol.”

Joy! It’s been 97 years since her first book, and Pollyanna hasn’t learned anything of import. She aged gracefully, she doesn’t look her old age (she only looks in her 30s. Way to go!), but she gained a lot of weight since the days of petticoats.  She no longer lives with her Aunt Polly in a mansion in Vermont, but now lives with her resurrected Mother in a semi-run down apartment somewhere in the south……Yes, Pollyanna’s momma is alive again. It’s fiction  so she can drop dead and come back to life as often as she likes if it helps the plot, you know?  She did smell a bit from moldering in the ground for some 100+ years, but Pollyanna, in her magnanimity, loaned her some of her cheap perfume, so now she just smells of  ‘vanilla fields’ and cigarette smoke (in this new lease on life, Pollyanna’s momma set down her sewing needle and picked up a pack of Pall Mall’s, needlework being so 1902).

Pollyanna is so sunshine, lollipops, and pansies in her eternal state of naiveté, that her mother prays for strength in handling her glad ass. “Lord, ‘GIVE me strength!” Pollyanna and her mother seemed to take divergent paths during their 100+ years apart. While waiting for her ever procrastinating daughter to perform that most filial of duties -picking up a shovel and digging her dear mother up -Pollyanna’s Momma saw the world as it is. Pollyanna’s Momma knew the secrets of the world, watching life going on without her so many years. She had to warn her daughter of the Shape Shifters; it seemed as though Pollyanna knew nothing of these beings and they were everywhere!

Everywhere?

Yes, everywhere!

And her daughter seemed oblivious.

All Shape Shifters are Deceivers and range from fairly benign mischief-makers and thieves to The Evil Ones, the soul suckers of the world…..these are the ones Pollyanna’s Momma is most afraid of her silly daughter encountering. The Evil Ones can steal your entire essence so that you are dead.  Pollyanna wouldn’t have to worry about that being a forever state since she is a fictitious character and can get back up eventually, but whomever The Evil Ones encounter, fictional or no, they will take a part of you, an essence you will never get back. Pollyanna’s Momma has to warn her daughter of them all, from thieves to The Evil Ones.

But Pollyanna is aware of the Shape Shifters, the mild to The Evil Ones. She’s seen the mild ones often, but their disguises made it hard to see them at first. Pollyanna is asked favors, to let people have money, possessions. They say they will give the money, the things back, or that they need the money and can’t return it. What if you turned someone down and they really needed help? It is better to give in, just in case, Pollyanna thinks and will think that for time immemorial. What can ya do with someone like that? She believes it’s what makes her a ‘good’ person, makes God be in His Heaven and all right with the world.  Her philosophy involves being ‘glad’ to give over and maybe someone will help her one day too. Shape Shifter thieves just love her. Pollyanna’s momma didn’t raise no fool if you asked her, but secretly she thinks in the years she’s been separated from her daughter, the dust accumulated into the folds of Pollyanna’s aged brain. Is there a way to dust out a brain full of dust bunnies? Guess not, since this story isn’t ending right now with Pollyanna’s Momma pinning her flailing daughter down on the ground and trying to shove a feather duster through one ear and out the other. Shame really, but oh well.

A Visual of Pollyanna with Duster Through the Brain

Pollyanna is even aware of The Evil Ones around her. She knows that the smiles and insistent waves of some people attempt to cover up the fact that they are Evil Ones, even if it’s been years since  they last sucked the essence from someone. Perhaps they used the same smiles and waves, and then…..gulp, gulp, gulp. They used a straw and broke the law. It is better, Pollyanna thinks, to not think of someone drinking the essence out of someone with the ease of a mosquito drinking the blood out of her plump thigh. No, it just won’t do to think of soul milkshakes consumed by Shape Shifters of the worst sort.  Perhaps they changed, maybe not, but they know essence sucking is frowned upon in polite society, and if  they succumb to whatever hatred that causes someone to drink an essence like a Burger King Icee,  they will once again be put into exile. Yes, don’t think, Pollyanna, wave back….they are human Shape Shifters, after all. and every person deserves common decency, a home, and life. Don’t think how it would feel if an Evil One stuck a straw through your skin and start drinking your personal chicken soup for the soul. Everything is wonderful. You will be fine. Life is fine. Neighbors are never Evil Ones. No one is ever evil to the core.

Yes they are. You know they can be evil.

No, won’t think of it. La la la la. I’m glad, glad, glad I can forget about it.

Imagine, Pollyanna, the straw coming out of the darkness, pierces your jugular. You can’t scream, blood is everywhere, you’re drowning in it, but blood isn’t what he’s after. Your soul…

Gulp.

Gulp.

Gulp.

You’ve seen these people before. Neighbors can be the biggest hypocrites. The Evil Ones lurk among us, you see the news, hear the stories of survivors, and you’ve even known an Evil One or two in your life.

“I won’t live my life waiting an attack by an Evil One. I won’t!” And with that, Pollyanna stomped her foot.

The great point of contention between Pollyanna’s Momma and herself involved the local ‘swimming hole,’ a small pool. Since 1913, things have changed in the methods common to bathers besides the length of swimming apparel. Ponds and rivers are oft replaced with chlorinated bathing lest one get some weird bacterial infection, or become a Mutant Ninja Turtle, or some other equally dreaded malady. Pollyanna loves being in the water, makes her feel so ‘glad’ to be alive and to have found such a peaceful place….well, peaceful apart from the screams of “Marco!” “POLO!” every three seconds and parents cussing out their wayward children. It is being out there after 8 pm that puts the bee in Pollyanna’s Momma’s bonnet. No, really, her Momma wears a bonnet, Little House on the Prairie-style and everything. Pollyanna’s Momma comes to check if  her daughter met with an unfortunate end, an apparition of the Blue Bonnet Margarine Woman.

“Momma,” Pollyanna says one evening, “I’m perfectly safe being out there with other people around. I leave once everyone else does.”

“An Evil One may get you on your way back home. You can be safe doing it a hundred times with nothing ever happening to you, but one time you may not be so lucky.”

Pollyanna is troubled by this. Is her mother overreacting or is she really in danger? There are Evil Ones of  almost every sort here. It is no longer 1913. The world now is a decidedly more evil place, no place for Pollyannas or even Care Bears. It worries her that she thought herself safe at the swimming hole when she might not be. It depresses her that shapeshifters are everywhere and that she must not let down her guard.

She is so brought down. Little Miss Sunshine-Glad-Lollipops feels the sun obstructed by looming,dark clouds.

“She’s probably right isn’t she?” Pollyanna asks her therapist.

“Yes, it probably isn’t safe.”

Shape Shifters have ruined the earth.

So Pollyanna comes up with a plan. No, not to pick off Evil Ones with a shotgun or use dark arts….the author of this story may “write like Stephen King,” according to that writing styles website, but, alas and woe, she isn’t Stephen King, so this is what our heroine does instead:

“On days, the pool is open late because the matron is too busy gallivanting to lock the pool up, if I’m not back between 8:15 and 8:30, you will come out and wait for me?”

“Fine,” said Pollyanna’s Momma.

Based on a true story (kinda).

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