THE THIRD WISH

March 5, 2017

Once during a time of uneasy peace, a storyteller roamed from village to village. This storyteller wore a tattered green cloak and a drooping gray stocking cap. When news of her approach arrived, the elders would send all the children to gather in the square while they themselves hid away in cellars, not making a sound and hardly daring to breathe. And when she left, the villagers would mourn for the lost one, give thanks for the saved.

And so one day it happened that the children of Wheatfield, a village serenaded by a nearby stream, were gathered in the square awaiting the arrival of the storyteller. They were all quietly terrified, never before having experienced a storyteller visit. That is, all save one were terrified. Clever Tamitha, the blacksmith’s daughter, wasn’t the least bit afraid. She had heard about the so called ‘horrible’ storyteller, of course, and now she was eager to see her.

‘Finally,’ she announced to the crouched, huddled together, and quivering children of the village, ‘we get to hear what this scary storyteller woman has to say. I’d like to see her try to scare me with some silly story. Ha!’

The huddled children exchanged glances, eyes flaring up with the tiniest flickers of hope. For you see, they all knew about Clever Tamitha and how she was smarter by far than anybody ever had been in the history of Wheatfield.

‘Who will answer?’ cried a cracked voice from beyond the village wall.

“I will!’ shouted Tamitha in reply.

Bony hands, green flash of cloak, drooping cap, withered face, scraggly white hair, these appeared all of a moment on the path at the head of the square. A wide crooked smile revealed the razor teeth.

‘You?’ asked the storyteller, voice flavored with scorn. It must be said here that Tamitha, the only child standing, was small and thin.

‘Me,’ said Tamitha, arms folded across her chest in defiance.

‘Very well,’ said the storyteller with a cackle. ‘One of three Wishes I offer thee, the Wish of Ice, One, the Wish of Wind, Two, and the Wish of Fire is number Three. Choose your story wisely.’

Tamitha thought hard. In icy winter the stream froze. Fields of grain waved wildly in stormy winds. The ember glow at her father’s forge were for Tamitha a comfort.

‘Three,’ said Tamitha.

Green flash of cloak, thunder clap, a fiery number 3 raced from the sky at Tamitha and consumed her. The storyteller left. The villagers mourned the lost one, gave thanks for the saved.

And where Tamitha lived the birds sang sweetly and the garden grew lovely flowers.

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THE MAGIC WHEEL

February 26, 2017

Durabella was dutiful, kind, and never smiled. She roamed the fields far from her little cottage. She gathered herbs and bumbleberries for to make and bake a pie for the miller’s wife, who was ailing. When her apron’s pockets bulged with treasure, she turned to make her way home. So it was then on cresting a hill that she noticed the old wooden wheel leaning against a pair of spindly trees.

‘Strange,’ she said. ‘That wasn’t there before. Was it?’

She approached the wheel which was fair as tall as she was. The spokes were gray with age. The thin metal rim of the wheel was rusted. The hub, cracked almost ragged, seemed to Durabella as if it would give up and fall away to dust at the slightest touch. She touched it.

Nothing leaned against the pair of spindly trees. Scattered around them were bumbleberries and twigs, twists, and leaves of herbs. Durabella roamed the star world, smiling.

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THE BOWLING BALL AND THE POPSICLE

February 20, 2017

The bowling ball and the popsicle

met on the path to the palace.

 

Said the bowling ball to the popsicle,

‘Would you believe that my name is Alice?’

 

Said the popsicle to the bowling ball,

‘Why not if you so say?’

 

‘Because,’ replied the bowling ball,

‘my actual name is Fay.’

 

The popsicle cared not at all,

for you see it had melted away.

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HAROLD BAFFINGTON PENDULUM STEED

February 11, 2017

Harold Baffington Pendulum Steed

possessed everything he ever would need.

A bowl, a pencil, an owl, and a bead,

a long thin potato and a spiced pumpkin seed,

and a river of gold nurtured the greed

of Harold Baffington Pendulum Steed.

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THE HIPPOPOTAMUS AND THE LARK

January 15, 2017

A clever lark landed on a low branch in a tree by the river. Below her a hippopotamus stood doing nothing at all.

‘I am a hippopotamus,’ said the lark.

The hippopotamus looked up and said, ‘No, you’re not. You’re a little bird. I am a hippopotamus. See my two lower great dagger tusks?’

The hippopotamus opened wide her mouth and proudly displayed her impressive teeth.

‘I am a special sort of hippopotamus, the flying sort that doesn’t need big fat clumsy teeth like that,’ said the clever lark.

‘But look,’ said the hippopotamus, ‘I’m big and I can do this.’

The hippopotamus lumbered into the river and thrashed and bellowed. Then it paused to look at the lark as if to say ‘See?’

The lark yawned, performed a small shudder fluff of feathers, and said, ‘Oh, impressive. I don’t deny that you are the common sort of hippopotamus, but I am special. In fact, I am your Queen. You must obey me. Do you understand?’

Confused, the hippopotamus blinked her eyes, began to say something, paused, began again, paused.

‘Well, I’m waiting. Will you obey?’ said the lark.

The hippopotamus bowed her head and said, ‘Yes, Your Majesty.’

Moral: A hippopotamus is no match for a clever lark.

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IMPROVED COVER

January 10, 2017

Improved cover for new edition of Bekka of Thorns, available at amazon’s kindle shop.

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A NEW LOOK

January 2, 2017

The new edition of Bekka of Thorns is available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MT51UPT/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1483373916&sr=1-1&keywords=bekka+of+thorns+steve+shilstone

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PRINDELILAH HASTINGS

December 28, 2016

Prindelilah Hastings

never was in sight.

She hid all day under hay

and crept out in the night.

She always carried a jar of tar

and a stick with which to write,

‘Prindelilah Hastings

was here! Oh yes! That’s right!’

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THE GREAT RED ROSE

December 23, 2016

Once a long time ago this happened. A family of owls gathered in the hollow of a tree to wait out a winter storm. This particular winter storm had been raging for seven years without pause, after having imprisoned spring, summer, and autumn in a copper globe at the bottom of the sea. Although icy winds howled and blustered in fury, the owls remained safely warm in the deep bowl of the hollow. Feathers ruffled. Eyes blinked. Heads twisted all around. A few yawns were observed. Here and there occasionally a wing stretched. When all owls at last settled into a calm sort of stupor, Old Noddy spoke.

“Now, for once and for all and finally, a volunteer is required to fetch the Great Red Rose in order to end the tyranny of winter, to in fact release imprisoned spring, summer, and autumn from the copper globe beneath the sea,” said Old Noddy.

The owls looked one at the other and the other, heads twisting impressively. In time, the gaze of every yellow round unblinking eye locked on Pinch, the smallest of the owls.

“Oh, me? I?” said Pinch. “Well, where is it?”

Each of the other owls pointed a wing up toward the opening to the hollow high above. Pinch shrugged, beaked and clawed her way up, and threw herself into the storm. Battered and blown here to there and around and over, she fluttered fiercely, eyes pinched tight shut as was her custom. Her name WAS Pinch. How long she tipped and flipped and sank and sailed she could not tell, but exhaustion finally stepped forward to take charge, and the young owl was soon senseless and motionless beneath an ever growing mound of snow.

She dreamed of a garden with oceans of yellow roses sparkling with dew. A single red rose trumpeted from its spot near the iron fence surrounding the garden. Pinch, safe in her dream, approached and asked it formally to release spring, summer, and autumn from the copper globe at the bottom of the sea. The rose opened, revealing its resident sprite.

“It is done, brave Pinch,” said the sprite.

When the mound of snow above Pinch melted away in spring, on that very spot sprouted and grew a small rose bush. When its flowers bloomed, they were all yellow save one. That one was red.

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THE WINTER SOLSTICE LIMERICK

December 21, 2016

When tilted away from the sun

Up north we have lots of fun

We dance in the dark

And lark in the park

Until, exhausted, we’re done

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