The human handhas six striking surfaces.That is good practical informationto have when you considerthat most of the mysteryleft in the universe is microscopicand yet at the same time, there are stillmany immense things still left […]
Annette was dreaming. She was dreaming of roaring waterfalls, a green landscape, and streams of sunlight warming her skin. Clad only in a simple sundress, Annette tread carefully over mossy ground and protruding roots. She shivered, reaching out for the large dog by her side. He gave her a gentle nudge and Annette continued her journey through the vast forest.
She stopped at the brink, balancing on the rocky edge as the water flowed rapidly before her. The sound of the waterfall was thundering, obscuring all other sounds and leaving her in trepidation. Annette could almost feel the cool breeze, but she knew it was all in her head.
In a small hamlet on the outskirts of the kingdom, there lived a boy without a voice. He could hear it inside of himself, echoing in his mind, but when he opened his mouth, all that came out were ice crystals. In his presence, people felt an awful chill and drew away. And so the boy lived in a circle of solitude, surrounded by others but always at a distance.
One day, the boy worked up the courage to go see the witch who lived on the edge of the village. He’d seen her from afar, riding her bicycle with its wide handlebars, but she never seemed to him quite what a witch should be. She wore pointy-edged glasses with green rims and favored gold earrings that brushed the tops of her shoulders.
The Memory Merchant cursed his fate: A mixture of ice and snowpack covered the road. What should have been a 12-hour drive took almost 24 hours with tires that had seen better days. The old truck’s brakes weren’t better, screeching with every skidding stop. The pickup also needed new spark plugs and a timing belt. He suspected the ball joints were hanging by a thread or whatever ball joints hung by.
His name was Brandon, is what I remember, and he taught me everything I know about lightshaping.
I met Brandon when I was twelve. It was the first day of middle school and, as I approached the end of the single, off-pink painted building and the wide hallway with the four doors that would be our classrooms, from the shadows, Brandon appeared.
“Hey, you must be new,” he said and gave me his name.
His amber eyes, like two crystallized stars aglow in the night sky, and his soft, lunar smile invited me into his world. I’d never met someone so beautiful. I didn’t know what to do.
I had just sunk at long last into my easy chair, pipe in hand, glass of palm toddy at my side, when my door fell victim to rapid-fire tap-tap-tapping.
I fluffed and sputtered but it did no good. The tapping came again, insistent as a woodpecker. I made a severe face at my pipe. “That’ll be those squirrels again, I expect. Tut! Still fixed on the idea that their grandmother left nuts here twenty winters back.” I tamped out the pipe and set it beside the toddy as the raps rattled through the tree once more.
Into the scarlet acorn Sam had plucked from the boughs he whispered, “I wish for love, beloved. I’m tired of the heartbreak. Please help me.”
As the ancestral tomes had instructed, Sam kneeled before the oak and he laid the offering on the fluffed earth. Gray tendrils broke the soil, buried the seed. Throbbing cracks of black earth laced over the auburn bark. Mud- and gold sap-coated roots twisted into legs, engorged into a torso and arms, then curled into a head. Liquid moothed into flesh and earth congealed into loose, black hair. A man appeared and the seed charred black as the moon.
“From the branches, I often watched you speak with my father and care for him,” said the man. “I’ve waited a long time to meet you.”
She wakes up with the dawn each day to patrol the edges of the island like a sentinel. Secures the boundaries, checks the horizon for unwanted visitors. The waters are invariably still, the sky a cool blue stretching for miles. Here, in the center of this enchanted lake, Mona is alone, except for the lion. She relishes the solitude inside her soundproof cottage, but she must never forget why she came here, why she must keep watch against intruders.
She remembers the difficulties involved in building this sanctuary, gathering the supplies, cobbling it together over many days and nights. The necessity of escaping The Amazing Muldoni had given her the strength to do it. Just thinking of his handlebar mustache and the giant cage he kept her in, spray painted metallic gold, fueled her arms to swing the axe again and again. She cut down practically every tree on the island for timber. She lashed pieces of wood together with braided ropes made from branches, and she collected stones and rocks to cover the floor like the inside of a castle.
When I was a child, Bear built a moat around my crib.
The poison ivies that Bear had coiled along the frame of my crib were not enough protection. A deer or a rabbit—with their Bear-like immunity to poison ivies—could have chewed through them, chewed through me. Hence, Bear, with Bear-claws wrapped around a shovel, carved up the plateau circling my crib and filled the steaming cavity with the tears of a Lotus Queen.