PORCUPINES

February 20, 2018

Having no tarps to mend, four tarpmenders sat around a table playing cards. The door flashed open.

Little Alice stuck her head inside and said, “The porcupines are wearing pants. They invited me to join their dance.” She pulled her head back and slammed the door.

The tarpmenders looked at one another, shrugged, and returned to their game. Time passed. The door flashed open again.

“The porcupines are telling lies. They say the world is ruled by flies,” announced Little Alice. She pulled her head back and slammed the door.

The tarpmenders exchanged glances. One of them, Little Alice’s father, coughed an embarrassed sort of cough. They returned to their game. Time passed. The door flashed open.

“The porcupines have built a house big enough to house a mouse,” said Little Alice. The door slammed.

Little Alice’s father stood up and said, “My friends, I have to leave now. When the porcupines build the mouse house, that means they have given final fair warning.” He exited.

Little Alice and her father, hand in hand, led the porcupines home. Thanks to them, they would not be late for supper.

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KRA

February 9, 2018

Kra is a raven.

She lives in a cave.

Her dream is to rule the world.

Sometimes a notion

to find a potion

dances around in her head.

Maybe tomorrow

or the day after

she will gather the power

to make her dream true

and rule over you

in her underground tower.

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A FIRST SENTENCE

February 5, 2018

A cloudy sky greeted morning on the day time and weather went wild.

1st sentence, 1st of 4 books in The Lovey Saga, now under construction.

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A START

December 26, 2017

My new middle grade fairy tale novel has a beginning. It might be called BREDLA AND THE RED VELVET ROSE. It begins like this:

“And do you know what else?” said Bredla, “I hate the colors around here. I should say I hate the no colors around here. There are gray rocks and white snow and black at night and black in the cavern. There is black when I close my eyes. And white storms with gray. That is all. Oh, some kind of blue in the ice, yes. Oh, you say the sky is blue, and the sun is yellow. Good for them. But can they shove the clouds and storms aside so I can see blue and yellow for myself? If they can, they have never done it in my lifetime. Well, I want to know even more than blue and yellow. Where is green? You say forests. There is no forest here. Where is red? Especially red. There is a red velvet rose, the raven said. I have never seen red. I do not know what velvet is. I have never seen a flower. I demand to see a flower.”

Bredla folded her arms and glowered. Her parents were helpless whenever Bredla folded her arms and glowered.

“But Bredla,” said her father, “when we came down from the sky, we promised to stay in the caves on top of this very fine mountain. Is that not correct, Harriet?”

“Yes,” said Bredla’s mother. “We really should stay in the caves, dear. They are your home. You were born here. Your father and I saw all the colors when we lived in the sky land. They are not so impressive when you get used to them. Flowers are none of our business. Ice and snow are enough for us. Where will you find such delicious rocks to eat as we have here?”

“I am going to see the red velvet rose,” said Bredla. She tightened the fold of her arms. She deepened the frown of her glower.

Bredla’s parents traded glances. The glances were glances of surrender.

“But how are you going to find this red rose?” asked Harriet, Bredla’s mother.

“Kra,” said Bredla.

“Kra? What is Kra?” said Bredla’s parents at the same time.

“Raven I met under the crag. She was on an errand for her witch. They are coming to get me tomorrow, but I am going now,” said Bredla.

“But what is a raven?” asked Harriet, Bredla’s mother.

“A black bird with a black beak and black wings and shiny black eyes. Kra belongs to the scarlet witch who lives under this mountain. Kra says that the scarlet witch will help me get to the place where the red velvet rose is growing. I will find the witch’s cave at the bottom of the mountain right now. I will soon see scarlet. Not red, though. Kra says scarlet is red with black in it. I do not know what that means, but I will find out. Good-bye.”

Bredla stomped out of the cave and into the permanent storm. Bredla’s parents were not worried. They were confused. Because they were snow giants, Bredla’s parents did not fear witches. They did not fear for Bredla’s safety. Bredla, too, had no fear of witches or anything else, for that matter. She stomped instead of walked. Bredla was a young, sturdy, confident snow giant.

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THE POTION

November 28, 2017

‘Describe the pain in your knee. Is it sharp? Dull? Does it throb?’ said the witch doctor.

‘Yes,’ said the witch. ‘It starts every Tuesday as a kind of long stabbing. Then it dulls on Wednesday and Thursday, throbs Friday, retreats until I think it’s gone on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Then Tuesday. Stab, stab, stab. I’ve tried every single potion I know and some I don’t know. I’m desperate. Can you do something? Anything?’

‘How is the knee feeling right now?’ asked the witch doctor.

‘It’s Friday,’ said the witch, left eye twitching.

‘Ah, yes. So it is. Throb then. It’s clear to me that you are suffering from invisible penguins,’ said the witch doctor.

The witch grimaced, revealing her favorite fang. She contemplated turning the witch doctor into an empty bucket and throwing him down the well. Taking a deep breath, she set aside the urge for the moment.

‘So. Invisible penguins. Can you do anything to help me?’ said the witch.

‘Oh, certainly,’ said the witch doctor. ‘You need to mix a potion of hen’s ears, two elbow hairs plucked from an ogre, 3 apple seeds divided and conquered, a thimble of rainbow mist, and a clutch of candleberry beads. Heat the potion in a medium cauldron and drink it with your eyes closed. The invisible penguins will beat the hastiest of retreats. I guarantee it.’

‘I have everything you said there except candleberry beads. What are they and where can I find them?’ said the witch.

‘Candleberry beads grow in clusters on the sanch trees found in Hidden Discovered Valley. The beads are purplish or bluish. Get some of both. No need to pay me until you’re free of pain and invisible penguins,’ said the witch doctor.

‘Paying without getting results was never in the cards. Empty buckets, on the other hand … Oh, never mind,’ said the witch, and off she flew directly to Hidden Discovered Valley, where she quickly found and gathered the candleberry beads.

Returned home, her knee throbbed as she limped about the cottage assembling the potion’s ingredients. She stirred the ugly sludge in the medium cauldron until it was warm. She closed her eyes and drank. Instantly, the throbbing in her knee ceased. She tried a few tentative knee bends. No pain. She hopped. No pain. She grimaced in pleasure, revealing her favorite fang.

‘The invisible penguins are gone,’ she murmured. ‘What shall I do to celebrate? Hmmm. I think I’ll change that witch doctor into an empty bucket and throw him down the well after all. I mean, why not?’

And so she did.

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THE BAD SKOON

November 14, 2017

‘If you don’t behave, I’ll send you to where the ferns grow, and there you’ll be eaten by the Bad Skoon.’

The witch’s daughter narrowed her eyes and presented to her mother a skeptical expression on her as of yet still smooth green face.

‘Oh, there’s no such thing. And if there is, what is it? And I don’t care because I’ve got my powers ready.’

The witch mother snorted an impressive snort from her long bumpy green nose.

‘Your pitiful powers will be no match for the Bad Skoon. It has a great round lump of a body and 8 long poison fern leaf legs. One touch and you freeze, only to slowly melt until nothing is left but your still seeing eyes, which the Bad Skoon then gobbles up with a terrible gnashing of its daggery teeth.’

The witch’s daughter thought this new information over.

‘Well, mother, I have decided to clean the cauldron after all.’

The witch mother nodded once.

‘I thought you might.’

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BEYOND THE MIST

November 6, 2017

She disappeared into a whiteness of mist above the billowing waves.

Far from home she flew to dwell in the comforting echo of caves.

With blended thoughts, dark and light woven, she sat, content to wait.

Oh, what revenge she would deliver. Oh, what horrible fate!

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WHEN THE RED LEAVES SHOW

October 24, 2017

The great brick castle on the hill wore  a mantle of magic ivy. In winter the leaves were white. In summer and spring they were green. In autumn they blushed red as red. The people at their labors in the village and fields below paused from time to time to gaze with pride at the castle’s beauty. And when it came to be that at long and at last the Queen gave birth to a Princess their joy was complete. How soon was joy complete to be snatched away? Within a day.

‘Until the Princess Fair reaches her fifteenth birthday, she must never know when the red leaves show,’ proclaimed the sayer of sooth, staring with a frown at the bubbling potion in the ruby goblet.

The Queen’s mind whirled first in dismay and then in orderly contemplation. Her depth of thought had gifted her from infancy with well respected and admired serenity.

‘So,’ said the Queen, betraying no sign of alarm. In truth, she stifled a yawn. ‘I shall raise Lady Fair myself alone until her fifteenth birthday in the Far Desert.’

And the people saddened when they learned that they would lose their Queen and the new Princess Fair for fifteen years. And though, as the years passed, they maintained the castle with brush and broom for the lonely King’s sake, whenever they gazed up at it from the village and fields, it wasn’t really the same.

When Lady Fair was ten years old she strode up to the palm tree in the oasis where the Queen sat and announced, ‘This is ridiculous. I can’t wait five more years before seeing the magic ivy on my own castle home. Five years is way too long. The sayer of sooth probably didn’t know what he was talking about.’

The Queen reasoned with her daughter, as she had so done since Lady Fair had learned to talk at the age of one. And when she felt that her well respected and admired serenity had once again won the day, she said, ‘Let’s play hide the bowl in the sand.’

The Princess pretended to be content and played at hiding the bowl in sand with clever sparkle. That night, however, after waiting to hear the Queen snore in slumber, little Lady Fair burrowed under the tent and ran free in thrill. She headed straight for the brick castle fifty miles distant. She knew the way? Had she not pried the knowledge from one of the young supply caravan attendants? She had.

Red of red was the magic ivy embracing the red brick castle. Dawn broke. Lady Fair stared. Oh, glory! Red of red! The world trembled. The wings sprouted. Lady Fair was Lady Fairy. She flew off into the sky.

The Queen returned from the Far Desert. She sat with the King each morning gazing at the sky. Sometimes the King said, ‘Five more years were all we needed to keep her.’ Sometimes the Queen nodded. Sometimes she didn’t.

 

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AFTERMATH

October 17, 2017

purple dragons fought in the sky

a rain of scales fell on castle stairs

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THE TRIDENT

October 11, 2017

‘Where’s my slender trident? I distinctly remember leaving it leaning against the shed. Is it leaning against the shed? No, it is not leaning against the shed. So where is it? I’m looking at you, Bernard,’ said the witch.

‘Look at me all you want. I know nothing about the silly trident,’ replied the raven, shuddering its neck feathers.

‘Now I’m looking at you, Charlotte,’ said the witch, turning her most withering gaze toward the black cat.

‘There’s nothing in the world I care less about than your trident. You probably jammed it into the ground in the green wood so you could wander around babbling nonsense unencumbered,’ replied Charlotte, unsheathing her claws to have a nice rake across the gravel.

The witch whirled around in fury and strode off into the green wood. She kicked a tree, threw dirt clods into the stream, bit her own arm, threw herself to the ground and sobbed. When none of these things produced the slender trident, she sat up glowering, her face a silent storm. It was then that she noticed the slender trident stuck in the ground next to a stand of lush green yellow bushes.

‘Oh, yeah, heh, heh,’ she mumbled in embarrassment.

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