October 4, 2017

‘Oh, find the ghostly hollow where color melts away, and deadly shoots of cane await in silent fog so gray,’ sang the grandmother.

‘Why is the cane deadly? Why is it foggy in the ghostly hollow? How do I find it?’ asked the granddaughter.

‘You must discover the answers to the first two questions on your own. As for how to find it, take this basket, climb the stairs to the top of the cliff, cross the mesa, ford the river, climb up through the forest, crest the peak, and you will stare down into the ghostly hollow. Descend and enter. I pray for your safe return,’ said the grandmother, and she handed the basket to the granddaughter and turned away to hide her tears.

The granddaughter carried the basket outside and paused to gather courage and to gaze at the forbidden stairs marching up, up, up to the top of the cliff. She took one deep breath and began her journey with a single strong stride followed by another and another. Cliff, mesa, river, forest, peak, she arrived at the place where she stared down into the ghostly hollow. Clutching the basket, clothes tattered, hair matted here, wispy there, she descended.

She twisted and bent her way through the sentinel cane shoots. She disappeared into the fog so gray. Silence. Stillness. Time.

Three years later the grandmother heard a knocking at her door. She pushed the window curtain aside to see who was there. She gasped, clutched at her chest, and fell unconscious to the floor.

The grandmother, struck blind and deaf and mindless, babbled and sang. The visitor cared for her. The visitor survived. The visitor’s claws and tusks were kept razor sharp with the file she stored away in the basket with her other treasures.



September 23, 2017

Euphonia Gasp stormed into the witch’s cottage and flung a worn out shoe against the wall. Then she flung another worn out shoe against the other wall. The witch glanced up from her sewing and smiled.

‘I take it you haven’t succeeded in finding White Mountain,’ said the witch.

‘No. There’s no such thing. You lied. I found Pink Mountain, Blue Mountain, even Yellow And Black Striped Mountain. You lied. The White Mountain treasure does not exist. You lied, you liar,’ said Euphonia Gasp.

Fortunately for Euphonia, the witch was amused, and in her eyes the merriest of twinkles danced.

‘Tut, tut, tut, my dear,’ said the witch. ‘I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I will repair your shoes and give you a hint.’

So saying, the witch waved her right hand, the one holding needle and thread, in a complicated pattern as if she was leading an orchestra into battle. The flung worn out shoes leaped fully repaired to Euphonia and bounced off her stomach.

‘Oof,’ said Euphonia, and she stepped into the newly lovely shoes. ‘What’s the hint?’

‘Treasure is found when least you look. Bind your fortune to a long lost book,’ said the witch.

‘That’s it. That’s the clue?’ said Euphonia, and she barely suppressed the urge to remove and fling her shoes. Instead, she turned and left the cottage, muttering, ‘Long lost book, long lost book.’

‘Wow. She fell for it again. I can’t believe it,’ said the witch’s cat, sliding out from behind the sewing basket. ‘Why do you keep torturing her year after year?’

‘I’m a witch. It’s what I do,’ said the witch, and she hummed a happy tune as she returned to her sewing.



September 4, 2017

Once in a land lost long ago, the royal family despaired. Each of the fourteen regal sons of the regal lord and regal lady had failed to free the land from the shackles of enchantment which rendered the land’s every living creature clumsy. Constantly heard were cries of ‘Sorry about that’ and ‘Whoops’, not to mention baser shouts of disappointment and frustration. Falling into streams and cleaning up spilled milk were common sights. And the despair reached its peak when the citizenry realized all hope was now to be pinned on the regal pair’s youngest child and only daughter, Candelabra. To that end, she was summoned into the presence of her regal parental pair.

“It’s up to you now,” said the regal lord from where he had most recently fallen.

“Yes, that is so,” confirmed the regal lady, accidentally knocking a goblet full of nectar from the arm of her throne.

“Finally,” said Candelabra, and she turned and marched confidently from the great hall into the courtyard, through the ornate entrance, across the drawbridge and into the stand of slender trees beyond the moat.

“Is it safe?” whispered a voice from above. Tree foliage rustled. An elderly crone thrust her head out through the leafy curtain.

“Yes. I don’t have to pretend to be clumsy any more. They have at last asked me to end the enchantment which they should have done in the first place I don’t have to tell you,” said Candelabra with a measure of indignation.

“Fools must fail again and again before they turn to the wise,” whispered the crone. “Here. Throw it in the moat.”

Candelabra bent down and picked up the coin dropped by the crone. The crone smiled and wisped away. Candelabra threw the coin into the placid water of the moat. Clumsiness was only an unpleasant memory throughout the land.

In the end when she came to be the lone regal, Candelabra ruled wisely and warily.



August 28, 2017

The display of jewels twinkled on top of the square cut board. The baker’s assistant nervously shifted her weight from foot to foot. And why not? She had won the right to select one jewel by winning the hopping race, outstripping by a good margin all the other assistants in the flung far and wide queendom. The Queen tapped her shiny green shoe impatiently against the marble floor.

‘Well,’ she said, rolling her eyes, ‘make a decision. I haven’t got all day. Queens have duties, you know, some even more important than this, if you can believe it.’

The Queen was a sarcastic Queen, but her subjects didn’t care as long as she remained beautiful.

‘I wonder…’ said the baker’s assistant, her hands writhing and twisting, one in the other.

‘What? You wonder what?’ asked the impatient Queen.

‘Could I have the board instead? It would make such a splendid surface for kneading,’ said the baker’s assistant in a rush of words.

The Queen snorted slightly and side-eyed the wall.

‘Make it so,’ she decreed, and stepped briskly out of the grand hall, throngs bowing as she passed by.

And that is how the baker’s assistant came to possess the finest breadboard in all the flung far and wide queendom.





August 10, 2017

While the glittering whirl and sash of the Grand Inaugural Ball was at its frenzied peak, deep down dark behind a cobwebbed wooden door in the castle’s long forgotten underdungeon, the shapeshifter worked her magic guided by the glowing time chart’s moving fingers. The night of glory was at hand. Sparks flew. Bright was the dazzle. And Fablenna, for such was the shapeshifter’s name, melted away, pouring herself into herself as a white vessel in the shape of a globe. From the underdungeon she shimmered to glide above and form on the Table of Feast. She waited for the music to stop, a signal that soon to arrive at the banquet table would be the flushed and hungry dancers.

‘Oh, what a lovely round white pot,’ cried the new Queen. ‘Can it be mine?’

Rosy red of cheek, gleaming of eye, she dashed forward and grasped the pot, lifting it high to show one and all. Time froze. Fablenna oozed, dribbling down to encase the joy frozen young Queen. A shuddering. Some trembling. The new Queen had a new sparkle in her eye. Time resumed.

‘I will shatter the pot. It will bring us good fortune,’ said the Queen, and she flung the white globe to the floor, where it shattered for good and all.

Later that night, alone in the velvet and satin splendor of her chamber, the new Queen shifted shapes to her heart’s content and sang quietly the song she had composed for the occasion, Fablenna’s Triumph.



July 17, 2017

“I must have the finest of red bricks and the most binding of gray mortar to build my giant cube,” said the Queen.

And so it came to pass that a monstrous cube of bricks, fair dwarfing the palace, towered above the city. Plague followed drought followed war, and devastation ruled. The city became abandoned rubble, then disappeared under desert sands. Buried, too, but perfectly preserved, was the giant brick cube. For it was enchanted and possessed a secret hidden inside. The Queen, now aged 800 or 8,000 or 80,000 years or more, sat in darkness, waiting. She was the secret hidden inside.

Then, after a millennial span of time, rains returned, and the desert bloomed. A wind attacked with seeming purpose the sand covering the brick cube. When the cube stood fully exposed in rigid splendor, the wind retired. The Queen inside awoke from a long dream.

“Ah, time to try again,” she muttered. Roots punched down through the soles of her golden slippers and grew in length, branched, slithered under and up, crawling to cover the walls on the outside of the brick cube. Leafy the green ivy grew in lovely embrace of the cube. And not one man, woman, or child ever saw it, for the Queen, Gaia, had cured the world of humanity.





June 24, 2017

Once upon a time in the Land of Pie a call went out to all the cherry wedges scattered here to yon and back again to gather at once on the Platter of Display in the Central Courtyard.

‘What can this be about?’ asked Mavis, a slender cherry wedge hurrying through the rhubarb patch.

‘We’ll know when we know,’ answered Helen, the slightly more abundant cherry wedge sister of Mavis.

Before long all 8 wedges of the royal pie had assembled in a proper circular round on the Platter of Display in the Central Courtyard.

Well?’ said 7 of the siblings in unison, directing their attention to sibling number 8, Judd.

The worried Judd responded, ‘The Land of Cake has signed an exclusive treaty with the Land of Ice Cream. We’ve been betrayed!’

‘Oh, is that all? I never liked ice cream anyway. Melting is so unattractive,’ said Helen.

An argument ensued, some calling for arbitration, others agreeing with Helen and urging everybody to go home and forget about it. Some blueberry wedges and a lemon wedge or 2 watched the debate with varying amounts of interest, a lot to none at all. In the end, Helen’s supporters prevailed, and all 8 wedges wandered off to 8 divergent destinations, from Custard City in the north to Crust Village in the south.

In 2 months time, having discovered they no longer could live without pie, the Land of Ice Cream declared the treaty with the Land of Cake nullified.

When the news got to Helen, she turned to her pecan wedge friend, Portia, and said, ‘Who cares?’

‘Not me,’ replied Portia, and she returned her attention to the checkerboard, where she proceeded to jump 2 of Helen’s vanilla tarts with her own chocolate.




June 5, 2017

Long ago in the Realm of Flowers a pumpkin grew to be huge, orange, and rotten. It rolled and bounced viciously around the garden wreaking havoc. Its cruel laughter rang all the day throughout the realm. The flowers, at a loss for what to do, held a secret meeting late at night in the old abandoned greenhouse.

‘We have to do something,’ said the leader of the daffodils, renowned vanguards of Spring. ‘Here I have a sack filled with many white pebbles and one green pebble. Whoever draws the green pebble must do something to rid us of the evil pumpkin.’

White pebble after white pebble was drawn, and in time the sack was held out to the Rose siblings, Ivy and and her little sister, Daisy. Ivy, the eldest, drew first. White pebble. She sighed in relief. Her relief was short-lived, however, because Daisy drew the green.

‘I’ll go with you,’ Ivy volunteered instantly, and the pair of roses exited the greenhouse without delay.

‘What now?’ asked Daisy when they paused to rest next to the grassy knoll.

‘I have an idea. I’ve had it for a long time. When the horrible pumpkin begins bouncing and laughing at dawn, this time we’ll talk to it,’ said Ivy.

Daisy shrugged. She was reluctant to call her sister a fool. So she trailed her sister to the pumpkin’s patch and waited to see what would happen, all the while, mind you, prepared to run away like the wind’s faster cousin. Dawn broke as they reached the patch, and the pumpkin stirred. Daisy crouched, ready to flee.

‘Oh, pumpkin, you are so handsome,’ called Ivy. ‘I’ve heard that the fishes at the bottom of the river adore you. They have built for you a glowing orb and a crown of diamonds. They long for you to visit them and receive their gifts. All they ask for in return is to sing your praises.’

The horrible ugly fat rotting pumpkin’s brain seed quivered with greed. Then the horrible ugly fat rotting pumpkin rolled and bounced directly to the river, plunged in and was never seen again.

The Rose sisters were granted permanent positions at the top of the Grand Trellis.



May 8, 2017

In the concrete city of Pastel, the pavement sweeper’s daughter, Eonia, was often observed standing on the pebbled slab nearest the small square of dirt and tugging on one of the auburn ringlets hanging below her left ear, a sure sign that she was deep in thought.

‘Eonia! Come mix the brick paste,’ called her mother.

Eonia did not move. Had she heard?

‘Leave her be,’ said Eonia’s father. ‘She’s thinking deep like as she does. She’s inventing a garden in her head, as ever and always like she does, you know.’

Eonia’s mother sighed and said, ‘It’s all well and good to think thoughts, but how is that going to repair the back wall is what I’d like to know.’

‘Orange on the way to scarlet,’ Eonia mumbled. For her, you see, in that moment, the square of dirt before her was the single place existing in the universe. Such was the fierceness of her composed concentration that what happened next was instantly and, I might add, universally accepted with celebratory awe by all in the concrete city of Pastel.

The orange on the way to scarlet flower remained fully in bloom forever there in its square of dirt.



May 2, 2017

In the Valley of Soot the bleak town of Scraps sprawled in the mud next to the sludge stream.  In the worst of the huts Little Scratch crawled under the splintered beam to breakfast.

‘Here now finally, are ye?’ said Little Scratch’s mother. ‘ Eat your scrape of tar and hurry up about it before I throw it on the rancid heap.’

Little Scratch barely managed to swallow the scrape of tar and hurried to the pit to visit her grandfather, the only grown person in the whole wide world she loved who loved her back.

When she squeezed under the barbed wire and crawled down into the pit and saw her grandfather sitting there, she said, ‘Grump, won’t ye please tell me again about the Fountain of Wonder and Glory?’

‘Ah yes, my little heart, ye know, I do believe ye have enough length on ye now to seek for yourself the Fountain of Wonder and Glory,’ said the grandfather.

Little Scratch shivered in thrill and crouched low to her grandfather’s side to listen. Not fifteen minutes later, carrying a pouch of gravel seeds tucked in her least ripped shirt, she swam the sludge stream and trudged over the hill of thistle prickles and broken boulders. In the distance she saw Left Mountain and Right Mountain. Following her grandfather’s instructions, she headed for Left Mountain, which was the mountain on the right.

A month later, standing atop the cliff marking the summit of Left Mountain, she turned her pouch inside out and pincered out the last of the gravel seeds with thumb and forefinger.

There, that’s done it for that, she thought. Now I follow Grump’s final instruction.

Without hesitation, she flung herself off the cliff. A sound of wind. A rush of cool. She fell. And awoke on silver sands at the edge of a lake. She gazed at the miracle. The Fountain of Wonder and Glory lifted its many-colored arms in spray as if to celebrate Little Scrape’s arrival. Little Scrape shuddered in bliss. Her shirt was soft and had nary a rip.

‘Thank ye, Grump,’ she whispered.