Category Archives: Short Stories

A Story For Five-Year-Old Me

It’s been a while since I’ve published an actual story on here. Digging around some old files on my computer, I found this one. It’s a true story, not my usual fare, and one I haven’t told many people. It was never meant to be published and as such has a number of technical problems, but I don’t want to do a major edit right now. Besides, sometimes it’s nice to just let something stand on its own, even when it’s weak. Sometimes, it’s nice to let something be imperfect. Sometimes, it’s good to remember that stories, like people, can be worthwhile even through their faults.

sleeping child with black dog

Bootsie, My Dog

“Turn around! Go home!”

Although I loved our family’s cute little poodle-chihuahua mutt dearly, I hated when she followed me to school. I was on my way to afternoon kindergarten, and had just left home when I noticed her trailing behind me. I yelled and ranted at her, but to no avail. She couldn’t understand me, and I shouldn’t have expected her to. Of course, my five-year-old brain didn’t know that. I saw her run the other way, and thought that was the end of it. “Go home!” I shouted, and pedaled onward without a backward glance.

Now 5000 South, the street I lived on, was just a quiet, backwater, boondocks, middle of nowhere road. My siblings and I often played our games of football, frisbee, super heroes, soccer, and everything else right on the street and never once did we hear a, “Get out of the road!” or “You’re going to get yourselves killed!” Not parent nor neighbor nor well-meaning stranger ever scolded our blatant disregard for the dangers of the asphalt. Simply put, there were no dangers. Not for us. Not in our barely traveled, barely settled part of town.

Half a mile from my house down 5000 South was 2500 East. 2500 East was the main thoroughfare of our neighborhood. Although not heavily traveled by anyone’s standards, 2500 East was dangerous. Long stretches of road sat on a hill with steep ditches on either side. There were no bike lanes. No sidewalks. Kids walked or rode their bikes on the side of the road, but that offered little protection. In addition to these extreme circumstances, the road ran along a series of gently rolling hills, and while this may seem idyllic it also gave motorists a distinct disadvantage regarding their line of sight. It was not uncommon to only be able to see up to a tenth of a mile in front of you, and if you managed to come over a hill and run into a gaggle of safety blind pre-adolescents, a screeching of brakes and honking of horns was quick to ensue.

I was just over the crest of one such hill when I happened to look behind me, I forget why, and there she was. Happy, loving, smiling over her whole face as she pranced along after me. I stopped my bike and waited for her to approach me, still smiling, happy to have been allowed to come along for the ride. I scolded as well as a five-year-old is able, but we were too far from home to send her back. As much as it bothered me, the only solution was to continue on to school, then call my mother to come pick her up.

We enjoyed a pleasant ride the rest of our trip. I did enjoy her company, though it bothered me to be put upon in such a way without my consent, and I found myself happy to spend this time together. We arrived at the school, and I placed my bicycle on the rack. I didn’t lock it, not in those days and that neighborhood. My friends often locked theirs and wore helmets, two occurrences which I found incredibly senseless and endlessly hilarious. I placed my bicycle on the rack, free for any would-be brigand and headed into the school.

“Stay! Stay right here,” I told her in my sternest voice. I didn’t want her running off and getting lost or mangled. I had faith that Mrs. Walker would let me use the telephone, my mother would come retrieve her and all would be well. This wasn’t the first time this had happened. I knew my phone number and address even before starting kindergarten. 3000 East 5000 South. 789-8553. I was always good with numbers, and I have to admit mine weren’t the most difficult for anyone to remember. I was confident, with a surety that only children and the mentally ill possess, that all would be put to right.

The first thing I noticed when I entered my classroom was the lady behind the desk. Most notably, she wasn’t Mrs. Walker. Mrs. Walker was my teacher, and she had taught a number of my older siblings. She was kind and approachable. I knew I could trust her. This stranger wasn’t any of those things. To be fair, she probably possessed many of the same qualities as Mrs. Walker, but to me and my five-year-old, agitated, shy brain she was the worst possible situation. All the same, I couldn’t leave Bootsie outside in a strange place not even tied up.

I approached the impostor with trepidation. I was a shy child, and I was very respectful of authority. Yet while it is no lie to say I was respectful, it was a respect born out of fear. I intensely feared being reprimanded and, more than that, branded a bad child. All this led me to the conclusion that the best thing for me to do was stand by the teacher’s desk until I was noticed. The stranger was busy doing something. In my mind she was scribbling away in a notebook, but whatever the truth of it she was busily looking down at the desk. When she finally raised her head, her gaze swung up straight past me and to the clock on the wall.

“Everybody take your seats. It’s time for class to start.”

Being the dutiful boy I was, I now felt completely torn. I was afraid for the well-being of my dog, but didn’t see I had any recourse except to be silent and obey teacher’s orders. I grudgingly marched to my seat, where I spent the next few hours worrying over Bootsie. As soon as I was dismissed (by the teacher not the bell!), I ran to where I had told her to ‘Stay!’ I am sad to say, she was not there. Sometimes, when she got lost, she found her own way home. Sometimes a kind neighbor brought her back. This time she was simply gone.

For a short time I held out hope she would turn up. I felt, in the way only a child can feel, that I was directly responsible for her demise. I never spoke up when my mother or a brother or sister wondered what could have happened to Bootsie. I didn’t want to face it myself. My wife tells me, “But you were only little. There’s no way you could have known. Besides, you were scared and just trying to be a good kid.” Although this is all true, none of it really helps. I still feel that childish guilt and responsibility. I still want to tell Bootsie I’m sorry, and that if I could go back I’d stand up to the stranger. I want to tell my five-year-old self it’s okay to speak up, and it’s even okay to get in trouble, especially to help a friend. But I can’t do any such thing, so I tell the five-year-old still inside me it’s okay to feel bad, that next time we’ll do the right thing, and damned be the consequences.

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Gretel and Hansi

I was at the dentist a little while ago, and the dental assistant noticed me writing in my notebook. We got to talking, and she informed me she volunteers at a local preschool. The kids like to hear stories, but she doesn’t like the current form of many of the fairy tales. She asked me if I could write a version of Hansel and Gretel more suitable for children. I love the fairy tales, and I’m not sure exactly which part she found so objectionable, but I told her I’d try. Yesterday, I woke up from a nap with the first sentence in my head. I sat down and wrote up my version. I don’t know if it’s at all what she would want, but it’s what I have.

 

Gretel and Hansi

     “Once upon a time, that’s how they start see. Once upon a time there lived a King with a garden so rich and so beautiful he could reach out of his window and pluck the Moon right off the flowers.”

     “No Grandpa,” I yelled. “I’ve heard that one already. Tell me about the time you met the witch!”

     “Another time dear,” he said. Then he went off on this story about a king and the Moon. Something bad happens when the King plucks the Moon out of the sky, then they fix it. The end.

     My Grandpa is a good guy, but he doesn’t always listen so well. I tried to get him to tell me about the witch FOREVER, but he wouldn’t do it. I just had figure it out on my own.

     The next morning, I woke up my brother Hansi early, before any of the grown-ups were awake. I told him we were going exploring in the woods, but he couldn’t make any noise or our stupid, new stepmother would stop us. Hansi grumbled a bit, but he did what I told him because I’m older and I’m smart and he knew if he didn’t I’d put a snake in his bed. He used to think I wouldn’t, but I did after he broke my wooden horse. I told stupid stepmother it was just a water snake, but she wouldn’t listen and sent me to bed early and gave Hansi ice cream. I swore she was just fattening him up so she could eat him.

     We snuck out quietly, and I stole a snack with some bread and carrots in it. We marched through the woods heading east towards the dark part of the forest. I didn’t know where the witch’s house was, but our dad’s a woodcutter and I’d been in every other part of the forest and hadn’t seen it. We only walked for a couple hours before we reached the dark part of the forest. We call it that because no one ever goes in there and the trees grow thick and big and block out the light. There are wolves and bears in the dark part of the forest, and Grandpa used to tell us there were giant spiders as big as your face. I wasn’t scared though. Animals won’t hurt you if you’re brave, and I’m the bravest girl I know.

     Hansi isn’t brave. He got scared when we got to the dark part of the forest and complained he was hungry. I handed him the bread, and I ate the carrots. I found a deer path, and we followed it through the big, thick trees until it ended. Hansi said we shouldn’t be there, but I just had to remind him of the snake and he clammed up.

     After we left the deer path, I heard a weird scuffling noise following us. I turned around and saw Hansi tearing pieces off the bread and dropping them on the ground.

     “What are you doing?” I asked him.

     “I don’t know where we are, so I’m leaving a trail to find the way home.”

     “You idiot,” I said. “It’s going to get eaten by animals. Besides, I know where we are.”

     We looked behind us then and sure enough a magpie was hopping along the ground eating the crumbs Hansi dropped.

     “See,” I told him.

     “I want to go home,” he said.

     “It’s okay,” I said. “Don’t be a crybaby.”

     Just then the biggest spider you ever saw jumped out from the trees and snatched the magpie, which squawked in surprise just before it was caught. Hansi screamed and ran off crying through the woods. I ran after him and tackled him and put my hand over his mouth.

     “Be quiet Hansi. You don’t want to alert the witch!”

     His eyes went so wide they looked like they might pop out of his head. He stopped screaming though, and I let him up.

     We walked around for a few hours without seeing anything, but then I didn’t know how to get home.

     “Way to go chicken baby,” I said to Hansi. “Now we’re actually lost, thanks to you running off earlier.”

     Hansi didn’t say anything back. He just sat down and cried.

     I walked off on my own for a few minutes, then all of a sudden I spied the witch’s cottage. I ran back and grabbed Hansi and dragged him to where I saw it. It looked like the gingerbread houses we build at Christmas, but as big as a real house. Hansi’s stomach grumbled and he charged ahead up to the house and started eating it.

     “Hansi!” I yelled as I ran after him. “What are you doing?”

     “Try it,” he said and stuffed some of the wall into his mouth. “Ish demibroush.”

     The house did look tasty, and I’d only eaten a few carrots all day. I dug out a fistful of gingerbread wall and tasted it. It was demibroush. We ate gingerbread from the wall and icing from the window sill, gumdrops stuck on the cottage and chocolate flowers growing in the garden. We ate and we ate until suddenly a voice behind us shrieked, “What are you doing to my house?!”

     A horribly old, balding crone stood there, wearing black rags and carrying two of the giant spiders from the forest by the legs. They were still wriggling. Hansi started crying.

     “I’m sorry,” I told her. “We were lost and we saw your house and we were so hungry . . .” Then I started crying too.

     “Well there, that’s no trouble,” said the witch. “But houses aren’t good food, you know. Don’t sit well in the belly. Here, come inside and let me cook you up a real supper.”

     She opened the front door, and we followed her in.

     Inside the house a fire burned on a rock candy hearth with a black cauldron over it. The witch tossed the two spiders into a bubbling stew in the cauldron.

     “Um miss?” said Hansi. “Aren’t you afraid of the spiders biting you?”

     “No no,” said the witch. “You just have to show them who’s boss.” I nodded my approval, and she grabbed a big, wooden spoon and stirred the cauldron.

     “So,” she said, “where do you two belong?”

     “Our dad’s the woodcutter,” said Hansi proudly. “One day, I’m going to be his apprentice.”

     “Hmm. Is that so?” she said, more to herself than to us.

     Hansi chattered away at her, telling her all about axes and which type of wood to burn and what to save. I decided to look around the cottage.

     It was a pretty weird place, but nothing you wouldn’t expect at a witch’s house. There was a broom cupboard with about fifty brooms, though the dust over everything said they weren’t being used to clean. There were shelves on the walls with jars of eyeballs and lizard tails and dried up spiders (regular sized, not the huge ones) and snake fangs. I found a big, leather bound book on the shelf, and I started to flip through it. It had spells and recipes and pictures and advice for what to do on Halloween and the Walpurgisnacht. Then, I turned the page and saw this:

 

Children Pot Pie

Ingredients:

1 or 2 Children

20 gallons water  

Onions (as many as you can)

1 stock broccoli

3 frog eyes

Fresh Hexenspiders (1 for each child)

Directions:

In a large cauldron mix in water, broccoli, frog eyes and onions (don’t skimp on these). Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Find fresh Hexenspiders (any witch worth her salt lives in a place crawling with the things.) Throw spiders in fresh (alive if possible) and stir for 20 minutes. Add children. Boil for 1 hour. Season as needed.

 

     I walked over to Hansi, took his arm, and pulled him toward the door. “We have to leave,” I whispered to him. The witch moved to block our way though.

     “Don’t leave,” she said. “Supper’s almost ready. It just needs one more ingredient.” Then she grabbed for us.

     “Run!” I yelled, and I pushed Hansi away.

     The witch chased after us around the house. It was hard to keep away from her in such a small place. Eventually, she snagged a hold of my collar. I screamed and kicked and scratched at her while she dragged me toward the cauldron, but no matter how hard I fought, I couldn’t break away.

     She was about to throw me in when I heard Hansi say, “Ooh. Brooms.”

     The witch stopped dragging me and snarled at him, “Get away from that!”

     Hansi grabbed one of the brooms and climbed onto it. He started zipping around the room shouting, “Wheee! Yippee! Gretel, do you see my flying?”

     “Go Hansi!” I shouted.

     The witch was shrieking, and Hansi was wrecking the entire house, turning over chairs and breaking shelves, spilling frog eyes and lizard tails and knocking over a barrel full of onions. The witch let me go and chased Hansi around. I ran to the door and opened it.

     “Over here Hansi! Fly out the door!” I yelled.

     He flew past me and out the door as fast a diving hawk. The witch tripped on the onions rolling across the floor and her whole top half tumbled into the cauldron. She pulled herself out shrieking and howling. I ran out the door and shut it behind me. Hansi was zipping around the cottage on the broom still. He stopped in front of me, and I climbed on.

     We flew up over the trees. It was dark now, but the moon was bright and as we left the dark part of the forest behind us, we could see the light shining in the windows or our own cottage. We flew down and ran inside.

     Stepmother ran to us when we burst through the door. She hugged us both to her tight and told us how worried she had been. Then she scooped up a bowl of stew for us—rabbit stew, with no onions in it at all—and gave us each a big bowl of ice cream for dessert.

     After we were tucked in, Grandpa came to tell us our bedtime story.

     “Which one would you like to hear?” he asked.

     “Tell us about the King and his Moongarden,” I said.

Short and Sweet

I want to post my new short story soon. I finished writing it, and I sent it to a few people to read. I’ve gotten some good feedback so far, but I’m still waiting for a couple people to get back to me. Then it’s just editing then posting. Anyway, this post isn’t about that story. This post is about another very short thing I wrote and want to share with you. I like it a lot, and I hope you do too.

 

Water, the Fish

Image courtesy of SOMMAI / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of SOMMAI / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello?

WELCOME, MY CHILD.

Thank you.

HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

Fine I guess.

WHAT HAPPENED?

What?

WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?

Nothing.

I MEAN, HOW DID YOU GET HERE?

Oh. I’m not sure. I was swimming around and then I felt hot and then I woke up here.

I SEE. AND WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

Beg your pardon?

WHICH ONE ARE YOU? WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

Shouldn’t YOU know?

I SHOULD, YES, BUT I’M GETTING OLD AND THERE ARE SO MANY OF YOU AND YOU ALL LOOK SO MUCH ALIKE. IT WOULD REALLY BE A WONDERFUL HELP IF YOU COULD TELL ME YOUR NAME.

I’m sorry. I haven’t got a name.

HAVEN’T GOT ONE?! BUT DIDN’T A FAMILY HAVE YOU?

Oh yes. They did.

WHAT DID THEY CALL YOU?

The little one called me Water.

WATER! A FINE NAME! WELCOME!

Thank you. Can I ask you a question?

OF COURSE.

Who are you?

I AM YOUR FATHER.

You don’t look like me.

WELL WE’RE NOT RELATED. TECHNICALLY.

But you’re my father?

YES.

I am really confused.

I’M NOT YOUR PROGENITOR. I’M YOUR CREATOR.

Okay. So, where am I?

YOU ARE IN MY HOUSE.

Am I going to stay here forever?

MAYBE. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LIFE.

It was hot then I woke up here.

THAT’S ALL?

I think so.

CAN’T YOU TELL ME ANY MORE?

No.

YOU’RE NOT DOING VERY WELL SO FAR. I DON’T LIKE OBSTINATE FISH!

Sorry Mac, but you’re the one who gave me a five-second memory. Obviously you could have done better because here we are having a real conversation longer than ‘Hello.’ The way I see it, this is your fault.

I DON’T LIKE YOU ANYMORE, WATER. I’M SENDING YOU AWAY.

You’re the Big Cheese.

ABRACADABRA!

Abra——— Are you kidding me? Hello? Hello! Where am I? And why is the water steaming?

My Nonsense Words

Gibb

The Gibbs are a peaceful race of pygmies living on a small, uncharted island off the coast of Madagascar. Their skin is dark, and their eyes are bright, if not colourful. They each stand at a solid five feet eleven inches. They have as little variation among their professions as among their looks. That is to say, a Gibb is a hunter and a farmer and either female or male. Outsiders cannot distinguish between their sexes.

I heard the stories as a schoolboy still in knickers. The Gibbs used to trade with our little town back when it was just a village. They showed up one day, tall and proud in their fishing boats. They wanted for nothing by way of survival or comfort, but our great variety of appearance and manor absolutely fascinated them. They came to stare at first. Then, to entice the villagers out where they could be viewed unobstructed, they began to trade.

They traded fish, tools, carvings, textiles (such as they had), but their favorite trade was in words. They first began to steal words from the villagers, words like plow or hump or chisel. After the Gibbs returned to their own island, the villagers’ words ran rampant through their tribes until they threatened to destroy the entire Gibb society.

The Gibbs used the words to mean everything from a rock or a bowl to the fierce, winged, yet flightless birds that stole away their young into the hills. Their peaceful ways were corrupted. Tribes were shattered. Families were torn asunder. Gibbs began aligning themselves by shared interpretations of the villagers’ words. Worst of all, the words were so beloved they began to corrupt the purity of the Gibbs’ own speech. The Gibb idols shunned their prayers. The rain ceased and the rivers dried. The animals of the island fled the Gibbs, and would not be hunted.

To appease their pagan gods the Gibbs sacrificed their most precious crystal sounds, which have never again been spoken or heard on this Earth. The idols relented, but a condition was set; the price for stolen words must be paid.

After a long absence, the Gibbs returned to our village to trade, but this time they brought neither sculptures nor runes; No powders nor fish. They came only with their words.

The village traded gladly. It prospered and grew. Travelers passing through stopped in wonder and effulgence when they heard the words the Gibbs so happily traded away. Many people came to our village, but none ever left. In time, the village became a town. The town became a thriving city. It was the golden age, they said, yet darkness lurked in the streets.

The Gibbs’ words were so pure, so intuitive, our ancestors wept at the sounds. They filled the people with light, but a greater light breeds a greater darkness. People refused to speak any words but those of the Gibbs. Chaos soon ruled in the streets and shops and homes. The words began to lose their meaning, and with it their purity, but still the people refused to give them up. The city people demanded more and more of the Gibbs. Their own speech became pustulant and cystic to their ears. The Gibbs refused to give their words for nothing, but the city had grown too rotten to provide anything of value.

The people attacked the Gibbs as they waited in their boats for an offer of trade. They could not force the Gibbs to give up their words, so they stole screams instead. In the morning, while the people of the city slept, the Gibbs stole away never to return.

The city elders, greedy and cunning, branded the Gibbs enemies of the state, and outlawed all unlicensed use of their words. As their use declined, the words’ power began again to grow. The city elders, of course, still spoke the Gibbs’ language freely. Others tried and were arrested, but the words would not die. People traded them in back alleys and unlit corners. The penalty for unlicensed use was death, but the people didn’t care. They needed the words.

The elders declared a purge. If any man, woman or child was caught speaking Gibb words, they were to be executed on sound. Any citizen who fulfilled the execution was given free use of any language for a year. The bodies piled up. Neighbors turned on neighbors. Families on families. Children slaughtered their parents. Parents ordered children to speak, then slew them on the spot. The city became an empty waste.

After four hundred years living in the shadow of empty buildings, the few people left in the city determined to make a new start. They started the fire in the city hall. From there it spread to consume every inch of the ancient habitations. The people rebuilt their village on the ashes. They told the stories to their children of Gibbs and their evil tongue. They kept the Gibb words in their hearts, but only spoke them once in a lifetime, to teach their children of the forbidden sounds.

In time, the village became a town, but the stories still retain their meaning. The townspeople still uphold the purge. I sit in my cell and await the morn. I fear neither the dawn nor the gallows. I fear only life without my nonsense words. Gab fribbit nix polick.

In the Shadow of the Gods (working title)

The sun shone brightly through cracks between tall buildings as a town car made its way through the city. It wasn’t a particularly noticeable vehicle. It was hardly the only gentleman’s wagon on the street, but it was clean and respectable with no scratches or blemishes. The body was waxed and polished until the green paint, dark enough to be almost black, shone with a respectable lustre.  The man sitting in the back fit the car perfectly. The consummate gentleman, he wore a respectable suit with a plain, clean tie of modest design bearing the family colors; green for the eyes and red for the hair. He kept his dark, rusty brown hair long enough to toy with if the occasion called for it, but short enough to be manageable. Today it hung loose except for two braids over his forehead to match the braids of his moustache. A cane of dark rosewood lay on the seat next to him, and his gloved hands lay clasped in his lap. Today was a special day.

Months of planning and negotiations were coming to a head today. Jacob, the man in the car was nervous about the meeting. It was an uncomfortable feeling and one with which he wasn’t familiar. He’d been to many business meetings before, and each was the same as the next. But today was different. It felt like his first time. Butterflies churned in his stomach, his breath was short and small beads of perspiration broke on his forehead. For all that, he kept his features smooth. It wouldn’t do to show weakness today.

The town car stopped in front of a café on 7th Street. The street of the Gods, they called it, though nobody understood why. Stories abounded verifying some reason or other why the street deserved the name. In Jacob’s mind the street bore the name because of the attention the city’s industry captains lavished upon it. There were no businesses, in the pure sense of the word, on 7th. It was made up entirely of entertainments: restaurants, cafés, parks, sport halls and other establishments providing physical recreation. There was a minor temple in the middle of the street which all the captains blessed when they passed it, but that was just good business. It wouldn’t do to be seen not respecting the traditions, even if the gods themselves were no longer bound to humanity. Even so, Jacob whispered a quiet prayer as he entered the café.

Immediately upon entering Jacob was greeted by Lawrence Courney, the café’s owner. After exchanging pleasantries, Lawrence led Jacob to the back of the establishment. This was highly irregular. It was customary for captains to meet in the sunlight near the broad windows which decorated the front of every business along the street of the Gods. After all, there was an image to be maintained. Jacob would have been incredibly insulted had he not seen his associate already seated. Evidently, she had asked for privacy. That or Lawrence was retiring from the life business, but either way it was Alicia’s responsibility to deal with any perceived slight. Jacob eyed her as they walked to the table. Alicia was a pretty woman, not beautiful, but pleasantly attractive for a woman in her late forties with long honey colored hair and striking eyes. Her eyes were the first thing people noticed about her not because of their color, a dull green, but because of their intensity. One look at Alicia’s eyes and anybody worth their salt knew they were not dealing with an average woman, even for the nobility. She was clever and ruthless, and she reportedly took great pleasure in manipulating those who were supposed to be her betters. Jacob had avoided business with her for just such reasons, but in her line of work she was absolutely the best and he needed the best.

Arriving at the table, Jacob thanked Lawrence for his service and gave him a generous tip before seating himself and propping his cane on his leg. He and Alicia refrained from speaking until their cakes and coffee arrived. The server wouldn’t come back unless they called. This was why they had chosen the Café de Lune; the staff understood propriety. Once they had tested the coffee, perfect as always, and each taken a bite or two of cake the meeting officially began.

“So,” Alicia’s voice came out smooth and confident, “I understand you have a proposal for me.”

“Indeed Madame. I believe you understand the basic terms of the deal. Am I correct?”

“Yes, but I am told you want something special. Special orders always contain inconsistencies with the paperwork. I’d like to hear straight from your mouth exactly what you want.”

“Green eyes. I need green eyes to match the family, and she needs to be well bred.”

“Green eyes I have aplenty, but define for me ‘well bred.’”

“Oh, you know. Finest stock. First class. Proper training. All that.”

Alicia shook her head slightly and fixed Jacob with her intense gaze. “Maestro Goosebaum, I am a very busy woman, so I will only say this once. When I say I want to hear exactly what you want, I mean exactly. No games. No suppositions. I don’t know what your twisted little mind considers proper training. Do you want a musician? Bodyguard? Dancer? Lover? Daughter? All of the above? These things matter in selection. So I will ask you one more time, what exactly what do you want?”

Jacob felt the sweat bead on his forehead and his voice shook as he answered. “I want a female. Solidly muscled, but still able to properly wear a suit. She should have green eyes, as I stated, and a full head of hair. She should dislike onions. I want her to dance adequately, not well. She should have a menacing glare, but no combat training. She is to be an ornament, not a thug. She must be plain looking for a noble, but not so ugly as a peasant. I wish to pass her off as family, but not close family. She should not embarrass me, but neither need she impress. If you can fulfill these conditions I am willing to offer you one hundred and fifty thousand pounds.”

“Pounds of what?”

“I would not like to say out loud. I understood you read the proposal?”

“Oh I am aware of your documents, but as you well know writing is fluid. I want assurance. I need to hear it from your mouth with your word attached to it.”

Jacob gulped nervously. He had hoped he wouldn’t have to give such assurances. Not that he was a liar, even on paper, but still once a word was given it couldn’t be rescinded for anything. He had never given his in public. Too much chance of someone overhearing. Still, if she could provide, he would pay the price, but not without assurances of his own. “Very well Madame Bartlett. I will give my word, but before I do, I wish to hear from your mouth that you can provide what I need.”

“Ha. You wish a word from me in return? Do you take me for a fool? I will not be so easily manipulated, my dear, sweet man. I am sorry, but you must try harder than that.”

“I believe, Madame,” Jacob said stiffly, “that your cleverness is leading you to gold. Shiny and smart, but ultimately worthless.” Alicia recoiled at the insult. Good, that should teach her. “If you had listened carefully, you would have noted that I did not ask for your word. I simply wished an assurance from your own mouth.”

“Very, very clever Maestro Goosebaum. I see now why your family elected you Captain. Very well, you have my assurance. I tell you with my own mouth: I will provide for you exactly as you desire, and I will be held to the Laws of Confirmation in this matter.”

“Very good. Now then, I propose to offer you payment of one hundred thousand pounds of green plants and fifty thousand pounds of eatable meats, from animals of my own making. As assurance and sealant of this bargain I offer you my word: Barnyard. Is it acceptable?”

“A powerful word. You will have what you need Jacob.”

With that Jacob drained his coffee and left the Café de Lune, nodding to Lawrence as he passed. He stepped into his town car, and hoped he had made a wise choice. At the table, Alicia smiled.

Because I wrote things and want you to read them because I feel really drained and need somebody to read what I wrote and tell me it’s good.

WARNING: Continuing with the theme created by the title here, this post will feature run-on sentences. English teachers, you may wish to avert your eyes.

So here’s the thing, I go through periods of depression in my life, much like all the other people ever. Usually, there is some catalyst which makes me feel like my life is going nowhere and then I get into a funk where I don’t do anything thereby making this feeling completely accurate. After a week or two of moping around I get back to work for some reason, and I write things. I try to work hard on my novel, which sometimes works out. Today I wrote about 400 words, then I wrote an email to my wife with the title of this post as the subject line and sent her what I wrote. Sometimes that’s what happens. Some days I write thousands of words. Literally. More than double one thousand. Those are really good days. Today isn’t one of them. Not that I feel bad. 400 words is 400 times better than no words,(Technically speaking 0x400=0, but this is more of a principle thing.), so I feel pretty good about that.

Today though, after 400 words I feel completely exhausted, which is weird. It’s possible my strange work schedule and daylight savings have something to do with that as well, but I’m going to blame it on the writing. It’s hard to write without any guarantee of reward. It’s hard to put in the effort while other things in life aren’t going exactly as you want them. Hell, life’s just hard. Sometimes, you just need a pick-me-up. So today, I’m putting something online I wrote in a notebook the other night while I was trying to sleep but couldn’t. It started with the first two sentences, then I didn’t know what to do, so I drew a picture and that inspired me to write something, then that inspired me to read some Neil Gaiman, so I downloaded an e-book of Coraline from my local library and read half of it before falling asleep and having strange dreams that only scared me after I woke up. More on that later. For now, here’s a picture and a thing.

When I say, 'drew a picture', I don't mean to suggest I am in any way talented.

When I say, ‘drew a picture’, I don’t mean to suggest I am in any way talented.

Brockway stumbled in the early morning darkness. That stone shouldn’t have been there. He looked behind him again, but saw only black. That wasn’t right either. The Bakers’ house should have been lit up even at this hour. They always had parties stretching through the night since the old woman discovered that cache of Spirits. But it wasn’t there. Nothing was, not even darkness. It was just…empty.

Turning back, Brockway started to run. He didn’t build speed gradually, as during his evening workout. He went from shambling to sprinting in the blink of an eye. It was pointless, he told himself. He knew the Ancients would take him when they wanted, no matter where he was or how fast he ran, but the fear had hold of him. He couldn’t help his actions any more than they would save his life. So he ran.

He knew these streets as well as anyone alive or dead. He knew them better than he knew his own mother. Yet today they didn’t obey his knowledge. He turned familiar corners into uncharted territory. Stones and walls rose up from the ground to greet his erratic feet. Houses were gone, or bigger, or where they shouldn’t be.

Nothing stirred in the village. The sun refused to rise. The nothing behind him edged closer and closer. A faint laugh rose in the nothing, growing louder until it consumed his brain. As the nothing reached him, Brockway realized the laughter was his own.

A Little Comedic Gold

I was about to write this big philosophical piece when I realized, ‘Nobody cares about that crap! Do you know what’s better than philosophy? Comedy!’

Background: I was in this German class about a year ago, and I had to take this proficiency exam. One of the activities was to write an essay about a school experience, either real or imagined. This is what I wrote, translated into English so you can all read it too.

Professor Jones

Last year I studied Archaeology at Harvard. I had this one professor, Professor Jones. He was a nice man, but a terrible professor. He missed almost half of the lectures, with no warning given and no classes canceled. When he was there he only wanted to talk about golden crosses and holy grails. Sure, his stories were interesting, but they didn’t help at all on the tests.

One day, I’d just had enough of it. I went to his office to and waited. And waited. (He also wasn’t ever in his office during his posted office hours! I mean, give me a break Professor!) Well, I waited for hours, but eventually he showed up. I had to hide when I saw him because if he had seen me there he would have just ran. I barged into his office and told him, “I’ve had enough of this! You are a TEACHER! You have a responsibility to your students! I understand you’re busy, and sometimes you can’t make it to lecture, but could you at least send an email?! It’s not like we’re living in 1939. You can even send emails from your iPad or cell phone. There is just no excuse!”

He looked straight at me for a minute. Then he climbed out the window. He is absolutely the WORST professor in the history of ever!