THE DREAM

January 23, 2019

Mudcakes drown in gray slurry stretching flat to the horizon. Bleak silence. Motionless. Two figures kneel.

‘Across there,’ says one. ‘It was in the dream. I do not know what it was. It hurt my eyes. I am too old. You go. I will wait for your return.’

‘Yes, Grandmother. I will find it. I will come back,’ says the young girl dressed in gray tatters.

The granddaughter rises, steps out and sinks knee deep into the muck. She grinds forward, straining, teeth clenched. Through the night she advances. Drops of sweat drip from her nose and leak from the furrows of her brow. She will not yield to exhaustion.

Day. Success. She drags herself from the slurry onto a shore of gray pebbles. Mist. In the gloom, she confronts the shadow barrier. A hedge. Gray, the color of her world. Gray, all that she has known. She pauses. The mist wisps away. Sun bright. She thrills. A shiver. Something beyond. She reaches out and thrusts aside twining branches of the hedge. She sees. She gasps. She weeps.

Red is beauty in a nest of green.

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SNAGGLETUSKS

January 12, 2019

The new queen moved through her gathered horde of subjects in stately dignity flanked by her green bladed bodyguards. Individual blossoms shoved and jostled to gain position for a better view.

‘They say she has snaggletusks. Can you see? Does she have snaggletusks?’ asked a young bloom hopelessly blocked somewhere on the outerest edge of the crowd.

‘Do not be ridiculous,’ snorted a neighboring senior blossom. ‘Her beauty is unsurpassed. Everyone knows that. Snaggletusks, indeed.’

‘But can you see? Can you see?’ insisted the young bloom.

Another nearby lavender fellow spoke up, saying, ‘I can see the very tiptop of her head. My view is otherwise blocked by her guard.’

‘That is so,’ agreed others, nodding.

The new queen swept on and disappeared behind the doors of the great castle. The crowd dispersed, for the most part mumbling contentment. The young bloom, however, muttered to herself, ‘I bet she has snaggletusks.’

In the castle, the queen was ravenous. She eyed the great mound of food brought and set before her. She smiled, unsheathing her snaggletusks.

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THE SOLSTICE SNOWFLAKE

December 22, 2018

The snowflakes gathered in the cloud to hear the final decision. Which one would win the honor to fall first on winter solstice? The chatting din subdued when the Grand Snowflake took position one small span beyond and above the eager crowd.

‘Flakes of beauty, welcome,’ said the Grand Snowflake. ‘Each one of you, no doubt, has dreamed of falling first on winter solstice, leading the descent. I will not keep you waiting. The choice is …’

The Grand Snowflake, despite its pledge, kept them waiting for a tortured moment longer.

‘…Penny!’

Gasps of disbelief swept through the cloud. Snowflakes rotated slowly, nodding displeasure. A small snowflake, embarrassed, not as attractive as some, more attractive than others, floated up from the assembly’s far edge.

‘Me?’ squeaked Penny.

‘You!’ firmly stated the Grand Snowflake.

Penny fought off a melting blush and fell, proudly leading the graceful descent.

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THE SUN WRAITH

November 21, 2018

Once in a land where desert dunes writhed under the lash of sun-hot wind gusts a grandmother and granddaughter sat in the coolness of their burrow listening to the angry roar. The grandmother leaned forward to speak above the din into the granddaughter’s ear.

‘Now is the time,’ she said. ‘You must find the oasis, pluck two yellows, one red, and consume them. Then will the sun wraith appear. Dare look her in the eye and request our desert to bloom while holding out to her on the palm of your hand this stone.’

Between the grandmother’s thumb and forefinger, an orange stone gleamed. The granddaughter took it and tucked it away in the pouch tied to her waist.

‘I will go now,’ she said, and wrapped in her blue cloak, she went without a single glance back.

Seven days later, the grandmother woke to silence. She crept from the burrow. All around, the desert bloomed. A stream ran by. Trees leafy green sheltered singing birds. The grandmother wept in sorrow and joy.

In the oasis, the sun wraith basked, admiring the new addition to her garden of delights. The orange bush gleamed, and its berries, two yellow, one red, and one blue, hung together in a cluster.

 

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BETTY

October 31, 2018

Betty longed to lead the cackle. She practiced in secret every day. Would Halloween ever arrive? The wait seemed endless. Betty’s mother urged her to practice patience. The suggestion merely deepened Betty’s frown and fed her tendency to mutter.

“Is it yet?” asked Betty every day until her mother at last could say,”Oh finally, praise to all broomsticks, YES!”

“Who will lead the cackle?” Betty dared to ask.

“It was unanimous,” said her mother.

“Who?” said Betty.

“YOU!” shrieked her mother.

Betty nearly fainted, but didn’t. Instead, she leapt to her broom and tore from the cottage.

At the entrance to night, the gold and pink blooms beckoned under the fat moon. Betty soared, cackling madly. The others followed in droves, nodding approval.

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THE WOOD WHERE THE WITCHES WAIT

October 16, 2018

the wood where the witches wait

waits for wandering fools

to stumble into the grasping reach

of witches, demons, and ghouls

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THE TREE WITCH

October 8, 2018

“Beneath the leafy garb of scarlet and green you will discover the bent and crusted limbs of the tree witch. Place the pot of honey close to the tree’s twisted trunk. Turn about thrice with your eyes closed and walk away without looking back. Then the possibilities are two. Your wish will be granted, or you shall be destroyed.”

Doris looked at her rags and decided that the risk was worth it. She thanked the hermit and followed her instructions faithfully. In three days time, she found the tree witch. She took a deep breath, placed the pot of honey near the tree’s twisted trunk, closed her eyes and turned about three times. She tried to walk away, but could not. Instead, as a new scarlet leaf, she fluttered in the breeze.

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THE TWILIGHT BLOOMS

September 3, 2018

“Only eight casks today, Mad Marge,” said the burly sweep, and he dragged the last cask into the hovel.

Mad Marge shot a quick glance of hatred at the sweep, then turned to her task. Her daily task. Her endless task. Her mind numbing boring task. She opened the first cask, plucked out a diamond and began to polish it with the Cloth of Gold. For she was the Polisher of the Royal Jewels. Each morning some eight or ten or fifteen casks of jewels were hauled to her hovel, where she spent all the day long and halfway into the night polishing them.

After the sweep went off, Mad Marge muttered, “Relief, relief. How May I find relief?”

“It is quite simple,” said a scratchy but pleasant voice.

“Who’s there?” said Mad Marge, looking up. “Oh, only you. Go away. Leave me alone.”

The friendly witch, for it was the friendly witch, stood in the hovel’s doorway. Her name was Balka. Famed for friendliness because she always asked what sort of frog her victims would like to be transformed into, otherwise she sat in the woods combing snarls from her ever snarled hair.

“If you pluck a cluster of twilight blossoms, you will be delivered from your present situation into one more restful,” said Balka.

“Let me guess. Find the twilight blossoms, eat them, and I will be transformed into my favorite sort of frog. Right?” said Mad Marge.

“True. Give it some thought,” said Balka, and so saying, she disappeared.

Mad Marge gave it some thought, several snorts, and a few violent polishes on a ruby. Then she froze and thought Why not? Anything is better than this.

She threw the Cloth of Gold against the wall, left the hovel and headed straight for the wood. She marched to Balka’s hut, where she found the witch combing snarls out of her snarled hair.

“Well, where is it then, this twilight blossom cluster? Tell me,” she demanded.

Balka pointed with her comb at a bush. “Under there, but you have to wait for twilight.”

Mad Marge crawled under the bush and stared impatiently at a cluster of tight buds. At twilight, they bloomed. Mad Marge tore them from the earth and ate them. She was a luminous blue tree frog on the limb of a tree beside a stream. She was very happy.

 

 

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ALPECIA

August 11, 2018

The white rose, Alpecia, longed to make a fortune by her wits. Sadly, she had none. So when she rashly tore herself from the wedding bouquet, rushed to the railroad tracks, and flung herself on board an outgoing passenger train, she had no idea what to do next. Confused, she remained immobile when she was picked up, inserted in a carafe, and placed on view in the dining car. There she remained until she didn’t, her single accomplishment in life being a successful flight from a wedding bouquet.

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THE HOCK SISTERS

July 16, 2018

Holly, Mary, and Celeste Hock faced another glorious day. Mary and Celeste were content to bathe in sunlight and dream of one day operating construction equipment. Holly, however, constantly jabbered. Half the time she paid no attention to herself. The rest of the time she thrilled to the music of her voice and ignored the content of her blather.

“Oh, bee! Welcome, welcome, and take all the pollen you can carry. Or more than the greatest love the world has known. I wish I had a telephone. I’d send all my lovin’ to you. We come from a very fine stalk. Not one better will you see on your walk. Or flight. Do you have individual rooms in the hive? Or is it bunkmates galore? Whee! I like today. It’s almost as good as tomorrow. Oh, good-bye. Fly away. Fly away home. On the range. Roaming buffalo are a sight, I can guess. I want chocolate pie. Isn’t that a kick? The Romans used to …”

Holly droned on. Mary and Celeste remained content, for both of them were deaf.

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