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Monday, December 31, 2012

Gerome #8 Wish


Gerome #8

Week #85     Wish




“So, the Evil one has sent his emissary.  The dominos appear to be stacked and aligned.  Now we see if they fall this way or that.”  The crone waved her calloused arthritic hands over the “seeing cup”.   She spoke as though to herself, knowing full well that her son was just outside the door standing guard. 

The caravan had meandered into the quaint village late the past evening.  Too late to drum up any business.  Too late to spread the word.  Tonight would be different.  The townspeople would turn out if only out of curiosity.  Gypsies! 

Nearly all of the troupe had made their presence known.  They juggled as they walked, they waved their brightly colored silken scarves in the air, the women sashayed, and the children picked just enough pockets to get noticed.  The townspeople were well aware of their presence today.

The troupe was not so large as to draw unwanted attention while traveling the roads, and yet large enough to offer a variety of entertainments.  They kept the exterior of their caravan modest.  Few adornments on the outside.  The inside of each of the wagons shouted opulence.  Feathered this and sparkling that made everyone’s eyes dance upon entrance. 

The tin knockers, to mend the pots and pans, and knife sharpening tents were the overt draw, the real action happened elsewhere. The women seemed especially fond of the “soothsayer” while the men preferred the gaming tents.  Children tended the horses, for a small fee, making the evening a very lucrative time indeed.

Rudolph nodded his head indicating he had heard her, but was not overly pleased.  “I have waited long.  I shiver to think our future depends on the wits of a hunchback.  He may have many talents, always choosing the right path is one he needs more refinement with.”  The dark man folded his arms again, shifting his weight and shaking his head.  “This town was long under the thumb of a tyrant.  True, most of his deciding tyranny was for their own good, however, he was cruel in his justice.  Should the dominos fall the wrong way.  I worry that there has not been enough generations since then, the people will revolt.  But, enough of worry.  We cannot change what we cannot change.  Let us, tonight, bring a bit of joy to these good people.”  With that, he turned to his mother giving her a wide white toothy smile. 

Late afternoon, and laden with a chicken under one arm and badly worn pots and pans, the first of the villagers began to arrive at the campsite.  The first few slowly entered the caravan circle wide eyed and timid.  As the evening became night there became a crowd of people who were blustering and red faced with wine.

Rudolph and his mother, the crone, eyed the passersby with keen interest.  “Do you really think there is one here?”  He inquired again.  The crone’s agitation was becoming visible.   Arching an eyebrow, she glared at him.  “Don’t you even pretend to give ME the evil eye!”  He laughed then drawing attention to himself.  His laughter was unlike any they had heard before.  While melodic it was also thunderous.  Contagious to say the least, even the most dour of faces lit up when Rudolph laughed.  His inner music casting a wide spell over the encampment.

“There.  There is the one.  Female this time.  She is the one who would join us.”  The old woman pointed at a young woman.  The blue flowers pinned in her hair distinguished her from the others.  Unlike the brown haired, brown eyed, square bodied stance of most of the townspeople, she seemed as graceful as a swan.  She alone had taken the time to tend to her appearance.  Carrot red hair was pinned up and neat, her blue dress clean enough one would think she had not worn it into the field for work.  The emerald green wrap around her shoulders enhanced her red hair and highlighted her green eyes. Her keen green eyes which sparked with intelligence, a trait unappreciated in a female.

The young woman made her way to the “seers” wagon.  Peering inside she softly called out, “Old woman, I am in need of assistance.”  Hiking up her skirt, she made her way through the draped doorway and inside the wagon.  The crone was already sitting at the table with her “seeing cup”.  The cup was of white alabaster adorned with small birds.  As the crone waved her gnarled hand over the cup, the young woman imagined birds actually spoke through the old woman.  Birds were everywhere knowing all the gossip, she was thinking as she looked into the crone’s eyes.   

“What brings you here”?  The crone held her gaze over the “seeing cup”.  “Do you want your fortune told?  Do you want your pots and pans repaired?”

“I wish you to make a love potion.  I want him to love me.”

“I cannot make a king want to marry a commoner.  I cannot make a married man leave his wife and family.  His Lordship is near the river wooing  Lady Anita even as we speak.”
“Then all is lost.  We are doomed.”  Tears in her eyes, she nearly overturned the table as she rushed to leave the wagon.  Hurrying, she missed a step and fell onto the man standing  just outside.  Rudolph.  Holding her hand, he led her back into the wagon.

“Running will not change the future.  Running will not alter your destiny.  We must devise a plan.  The Evil one is among us.  He does not ‘Know’ us as yet, we can use that to our advantage.  Your people are fighting a battle that can only be won if you make the right choices.  Lord Alfred is the obvious ally, but not the only.  Look about you at these unenlightened people.  They are hard working, honest and loyal. You would be asking these good people to perhaps forfeit their own futures for people they do not know and a quest they don’t understand.  Let us devise a plan.  Let us think the best route.  Leave this village, this small town, and join us.  We have the same goal, we fight the same battle.” 

leigh




Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking Forward - Thinking Back



Blog Hop #61 :  Looking Forward – Thinking Back
Hosted by Daphne Steinberg

The Writer's Post



Snowflakes softly melted on her upturned face sending streaks of liquid across her cheeks almost as though she were crying.  Snowflakes sticking to her long dark eyelashes like dew on the morning grass.  Those large gently falling snowflakes creating a white blanket across the lawn.

Her sister began laughing.  The two girls ran in circles, tongues stuck out and mouths open wide, attempting to catch the fat flakes.  Shortly, they collapsed into piles and began the brisk job of creating snow angles. 


Finally, the snow had begun, it was past the “day of destruction”.  December 21st, 2012 had come and gone with no noticeable incident, other than the “crazies” who were insistent that the world as we knew it would end.  Those Dooms Day proclamations had become tiresome to the general populous.  The world kept spinning long after their prophecies.  It was the “as we knew it” that most of us didn't quite grasp.


It had been unseasonably warm, with no snow on the ground for Christmas.  Finally, the girls got to play in the snow.  They romped as they plowed through the hip deep drifts, tunneling  a fort out of the ready piled snow. Their rosy cheeks displayed more than just the effect of being outside, they shone seemed to shine. Finally, the cold began to set and they became weary.  Dragging themselves into the house, Mother noticed small round dots on their faces.  They coughed as one often does when coming in from the out of doors, Mother didn’t think much of it. 

After they had been stripped of their outdoors trappings, they were herded into the kitchen for some warm chocolate milk resplendent with miniature marshmallows.  The girls began to scratch at their little round red dots which seemed to grow and began to ooze.


There had been hints, small ones, from the scientific community.  The hints came small because they were overridden by the proverbial shouting of the Doomsdayers.  The Doomsdayers felt the world would spin on its axis.  This spinning would either;  throw everything not attached off the Earth or by virtue of the magnetic poles the climate would abruptly change and alter the Earth, killing all life as we knew it.  Those prophecies played on every television station for months even continuing long after the 21st had come and gone.

Quietly, the scientific community armed themselves for the “end of days” as they predicted its arrival.  Upon the discovery of the underground caverns in New Mexico, replete with great rooms for animals, some of the scientists began to moved great quantities of food and water into underground facilities.

Those who lived around the Great Lakes noticed a considerable drop in water levels.  Unknown to them, these waters had been diverted to a lined reservoir. 


Mother, thinking it might be either chicken pox or rubolea, put the two girls in a hot bath to “bring it on”.   She scrubbed the two little girls vigorously as red dots erupted into open sores all over the two small bodies.  Soon, Mother  too was coughing with round red sores on her face and body.    


That generation of parents hadn’t heard the cautions of eating the snow.  They had not been old enough to remember the acid rain strong enough to peel the paint from anything left outside.  They were ignorant of the mist that covered the lands just before previous plagues.  The SFI (Santa Fe Institute), a think tank for scientists, they knew.  They hadn’t shouted loudly enough to warn the general populous. 

The Doomsdayer, with their guns and candles, were no match for this plague.  It rained down upon the northern hemisphere as snow.  It leaked into the water systems worldwide within weeks.  Soon, the planets human population was again whittled down to the strong or quick of mind. 

After much deliberation, a detail of survivors have been sent to the surface.  We hope they can pass quickly to the Bio-Dome.  Hope is that vandals had not attacked it.  Hope is that once inside, the people of the detail are not infected from the land and can tunnel back to our underground cavern.  Hope is that soon the Earth will soon become inhabitable on an uncontaminated surface. 

Hope for the future, sorrow for the past.

leigh

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Joys Blog Hop #60




The Writers Post  Blog Hop #60
Christmas Joys or Christmas Woes



Aunt Jackie, Chris and Nick
“Oh woe is me!” She lamented as we stacked the folding card tables into the back of her suv.  I just laughed.   The stabbing look she gave me belied the joke behind her cold gray eyes. 

“But Mom….they are going to be there when I get home from work.  His whole family…I am going to look like something the cat dragged in after working all day.  This is the first holiday we have hosted.  Oh woe is me!” 

We had been loading up; card tables, crock pots, serving utensils, platters, bowls, and table cloths.  “Sweetie, if they were concerned they wouldn’t be getting to your house two hours before you get home from work.  It’ll be just wonderful.  You have everything planned.  Jan will help, he usually does.  You worry too much.”  Trying to calm her down once she is wound up is like trying to talk a cat out of a tree!

My lovely daughter waves goodbye as she backs from my driveway.  It seems only yesterday she was the wide eyed little one gawking at the twinkling lights. (my favorite too) Then on to those lovely, sullen, pre-teenage times.  The year she cast away her Barbie dolls and declared “there is NO Santa”. 

Chris must have stormed angrily around the house for a couple of hours.  Glaring at me.  Accusing me of lying to her.  Calmly, with cookies in tow, I asked her to sit for a moment and think.   She refused the glass of milk I offered, after all she was nearly an adult!  I drank it happily.  “I am so glad you don’t believe in Santa Claus any more.  I don’t have to buy you any presents.  This sure will make my life easier.”  The look on her face nearly made me burst out laughing.  She began to back pedal, stuttering and stammering. 

“Here’s the deal.”  My voice as matter-of-fact as I could muster. “Anyone who believes in Santa gets gifts…you want to ruin the whole joyous season of Christmas by going around with attitude and saying you don’t believe, fine, no gifts.  This is the time of year for us to show we care about one another. Anyone who believes in Santa gets gifts.” 

Just then my husband, Bob, walked into the room.  “I Believe!”  he said emphatically. 

Chris’ head swiveled between Bob and I.  Finally she grinned.  “I Believe Too!” she shouted.

We have shared that story with several nieces and nephews since.  Just because you know “the truth” doesn't mean you don’t “believe”.  There is a spirit that goes with this season.  The spirit of Christmas season is about compassion, forgiveness, kindness, and love. 

Pssst – pass it on…..I BELIEVE!!

leigh

Decision GBE 2 #84


Decision

GBE 2: Blog On       Week #84

1965, I stand at attention in my nightgown, next to the large drafty front windows.  Holding my report card in his hand, he looks it over.  Setting the report card down onto the coffee table, he turns to me and asks, “Are you too stupid to do the work?”.  My report card held four A's and a B. 

It is that moment.  That split second that I made up my mind.  I have, at the ripe old age of ten, decided I will never do anything explicitly for anyone else ever.  I will not care if anyone thinks I can or cannot.  I will do as is right for me.

                   *************************

The park my parents live in, in Dania, Florida, is being sold to the airport.  Trailer parks all over Florida are being bought up.  The elderly tenants turned out to make room for condominium, the wave of the future.  There are very few low income accommodations available, in sunny Florida, these days.  More and more the “little” guy is being nudged out of their current digs only too late to realize, they can’t afford to live anywhere else.  And what they can afford, just aren't safe neighborhoods.  The transient Canadians, South Americans, and Central American people have been muscled out of their cold season havens.  The deal hasn't been “signed on the dotted line” yet, so it may be a year or so before my parents actually have to move. 

The current plan as told to me; sell the Michigan vacant land, add that money to what is offered by the airport, and find a nice place to buy.  When my parents first moved to the park, in 1982, they decided not to buy their lot, but opted to rent it. The airport money isn’t a very large sum.

I’m a Realtor in Michigan.  After three months the paperwork is finally signed and turned in to my broker for listing the two properties.  First he wouldn't answer what he thought the property was worth, then he wouldn't look over the comparables I sent him, then he signed some paperwork in the wrong place, then he made copies and signed one set of copies but sent me the unsigned set, and finally with much patience spent all copies were signed and turned in. 

He calls me at least once a week, sometimes once a day and often several times a day.  He has four living children.  He doesn't like his daughters.  He had three of us and three sons. I have been told since turning 15 that I will inherit nothing, I am female therefore I contribute nothing to the “family”.  Each and every phone call begins with “Are you working on selling my property yet, or just lazing around?”  I know, it’s supposed to be comical, and maybe the first thirty or so times it got a smirk out of me. 

For the past 35 years, I have gone to the old homestead and cleaned it before my parents came north from Florida.  I got rid of the mouse droppings and the cobwebs and the dead spiders.  I made sure there was toilet paper and coffee!  Stocked the cupboards with a few things so they wouldn't have to go to the grocery store before they had rested. 

Twenty years ago, my younger brother and I decided it was a waste to have a lake front property going to ruin and that if it were updated perhaps we would spend more time there.  We (husband Bob, brother Scott, and I) dug in.  I elicited help from all of my friends.  I bought;  furniture, dishes, lawn mowers, linens, copper accessories, camping trailers, telescopes, pots and pans, and of course silverware.  

Every year, Bob and I would head north the last weekend of April.  We sometimes went alone, often had a troupe of friends and family, to open the place up.  We would work on some project every time we went there, some years every other weekend during the nicer months. 

The vacant land across the street from the “Blue Lake Cabin” is forty-eight acres.  Growing up I had been told it was number in between 50 to 65 acres.  It is 48 acres.  That was one month of the argument of the pre-listing. 

Vacant land, over 10 acres and not waterfront or water access, is selling for between $900.00 per acre and $1150.00 per acre.  My father insisted the land be priced at $2000.00 an acre.  I demanded a two year listing so I wouldn't have to go through this again. 

We got a fair and reasonable offer two weeks ago.  (Since the property is still listed, I cannot divulge the amount) I thought this a fair and reasonable offer.  Excitedly, I called him to tell him the good news.  He began a tirade of belittlement, the likes I have not heard since I was sixteen.  Our conversation ended with him telling me I have gotten all I’m going to get out of him and that perhaps I need a lesson in how to think. 

I have made the decision not to speak with my father through the holidays.  I don’t have to, they are my holidays as well as that cranky old man’s.  Yep, today was his birthday.  I made the phone call.  I left a voice message wishing him a nice birthday.  I have decided my mental health needs a holiday.  I’m worth it. 

Those of you who know me may ask why I would tell this story.  I dearly hope and wish for this to be written down for my daughter.  I dearly hope I have never treated her so poorly.  I dearly hope I never do.  I dearly hope if I should ever go out of my way to make her feel lower than snail slag, she will remind me of this particular Christmas Season and my decision.

leigh

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First Car - GBE 2


GBE 2 Blog On:  First Car
Week #82

My FIRST car?  The first I actually owned or my first love? 

My first love would be the 1962 red with black convertible top Chevrolet Corvair!  She was a beaut!  The heaters in the floor of the back seat kept me warm as my oldest brother, Rick, drove from Drayton Plains to Kalkaska with me in the back seat!

We hadn't had the car a month when one day my father backed her out of the two stall garage, on his way to “tool around and show her off”.  I felt an urge to be on the other side of the driveway and ran behind him, falling. 

With arms outstretched, my six year old body skittered across part of the cement driveway.  Without realizing I had fallen, my father continued to back out of the garage.  He realized he had run over something when the car heaved somewhat over my arm.   I’m pretty certain I squealed at this point.

Braking immediately, I was drug out from under the car and rushed to the doctor’s office.  (We lived next door to our doctor, so he normally would see us right away) Nothing broken, but the skin and my father’s nerves.  I have a nice scar where the tire pinched the skin, I think when he jammed on the brakes.

After that incident, on nice days, he would back her out of the garage with the top down and just park her in the drive.  Every neighbor kid that could fit, jumped into the car.  My older sister, Holly, would “drive”.

Using our imaginations, we journeyed all over the world!  Our favorite car trip was to Africa to see lions, elephants, giraffes, as well as the cheetah’s that would travel with us on the hood.  Sometimes we would go tropical with snakes and alligators, or to the mountains to see goats and snow leopards.  We even saw Cleopatra and the pyramids! 
That little three speed manual transmission taught many of us how to shift!  I could power shift without the engine turning over once!  For safeties sake, today’s kids don’t have that luxury.  They can’t hop into a car to avoid a charging rhino or the swoop jaws of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. 

My first car love; helped shape my imagination, gave me lessons in safety and kept the neighborhood kids from running the streets for hours at a time.  My first car love was a 1962 red and black convertible Corvair. 

leigh

Monday, December 10, 2012


BFF 250 :  Secret Santa


Not another Secret Santa.  Not another season of happy-happy-joy-joy from her co-workers.  Christmas cookies of all shapes and sizes would be doled out, Christmas taffy, and Christmas fudge, and Christmas cakes; the list went on and on.  Her co-workers spent incredible amounts of time and energy trying to outdo one another when it came to Christmas treats. 

And then they had to outdo one another within the constraints of the Secret Santa.  Why knit that hat and scarf?  Why create the origami whatever that will be relegated to the top shelf of the cubical, forgotten all year and thrown away the following October.   Why knock yourself out when all I really want is to win the lottery! 

The self indulgence of the season seemed to overtake common sense and ended up with a January self loathing season.  January, the season of complaints; my clothes are too tight, my face has broken out or has too many wrinkles from eating too much sugar, or with the extra weight gain – the thermostat is set too high and everyone is far too warm.  January, the new year’s promise is to regret last year’s indulgence.

Tuesday morning, another meeting.  Setting up the holiday agenda.  Names in the bowl for who will be the Secret Santa selection process.  Another waste of time eating into our productivity.  Another gorge fest since the first meeting of the Holiday Season is usually kicked off with yummy goodies from the local bakery. 

She dragged herself into the conference room to attend the meeting.  Clip board in hand, ink pen over her ear, and coffee mug in hand she pushed through the doors. 

What?!  Fruit and plain bagels?!  Yogurt? Honey? No cupcakes or muffins or rolls or sprinkles?  Fruit?

John, the CEO was standing at the white board.  They all shuffled in taking their seats with a muffled din. “As many of you know, this is my first Christmas post heart attack.  At my doctor and wife’s urging, we are going to do things a little differently this year.  At least here at the office.”

“I’ve done some soul searching.  Yes, I really do have a soul and it’s not so black that I can’t talk to it anymore.” He chuckled to himself.  “In years past we have toiled to outdo one another in baking and gifting.  We have gone over the top with our Christmas party expenses.  And it was a lot of fun at the time.”  He looked around the table, each of them felt his assessing eyes. “I would propose a new way to look at this Holiday Season.  I am about to change how our company does business with the community and I would like you all to spear head this new wave.”

Presently she stood up.  As head of Human Resources, it was her duty to track this meeting and present it’s recap.  “After three hours of discussion and deliberation we have come to some new insights as to which way this company will proceed in the years to come.  As for me, I haven’t been this proud to work here since my first day of hire.”  She beamed at the table of people looking at her.  “It has been determined that we shall work directly with several community outreach programs.  To pay for the extra employees hired at this time we will forgo the Christmas party in favor of putting those funds towards allowing others to be employed.  To gather those people who would want to be employed from these programs, and we will contact them all, we will host a dinner for them.  Rather than spend money on Secret Santa, we will purchase food specifically for the dinner and any excess to be donated to one of the local food programs.  Rather than take our Christmas bonuses, we will allow the company to defer 25% to a time when the company has recouped any losses and allow all part time employees health benefits, especially any of those we retain after the holiday season.  Part of our weekly hours will be donating time to the local schools, as needed.   As a company and as department heads, we agree to invest in people.  For people are the best long term investment you can make. Without the community, we have no company. We are beginning with this, the Christmas Season, to demonstrate our joy of brotherhood for all mankind.”

leigh






Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bedtime Story - GBE 2


GBE 2: Blog On
Week #81  Bedtime Story



“Please, oh please can we hear a bedtime story?”  Charo begged her mother.  “It’s been so long since we heard a story rather than watched a story.  Please will you show us? ”

Mother smiled the small smile and pulled a book from the shelf.  “Shall we read “The Bunny” book?” 

“Noooo” was the chorused reply.

“Shall we read “Cinderella”?

“Nooo” came again.

“Shall we read “The Little Train That Could?”

“Nooo” was her answer.

“Whatever shall we read.” Her knowing grin gave away the game.

“We want Grampa Bob to read to us!”  They both broke into giggle fits.

“Now you know you cannot hold the book until you are much older.  This book is over one hundred years old.  It was given to your five times great grandmother by her grandfather.  There are none quite like this across the galaxy.  I have my silk gloves to wear, I will hold the book up and you will hear your ancestor read a story.” 

And so the story read “This story is for Braelynn and Riley from your Grampa Bob.  Twas the night before Christmas…..”

leigh


Monday, December 3, 2012

Gerome #7 - Destiny


Gerome #7
Hosted by Suzy Que
Destiny

Lord Alfred and Gorgan were obviously related.  Both of above average height.  Both men had flashing blue eyes.  Both men were fair haired; Alfred’s yellow hair shone as the corn tassels in August while Gorgan’s hair was the color of an Indian paintbrush.  More orange than red.  He had grown out of his freckles, thankfully.  They had only incited his fury if anyone took notice of them.

Physically, the two men were evenly matched.  In temperament, they were as different as up and down.  Gorgan still held a grudge against his father for allowing Alfred to take the “seat” when his father had died.  If only Gorgan’s father had stepped up and taken the seat of power from Alfred…If only his father had put Alfred to death when he had the chance….Alfred looked around at the cozy campsite and sneered. 

“Where are your banners?  Where is the fanfare?  How do you ever expect to woo this woman when you do not show her the courtesy of elegance? A picnic, of all things.  Drag a lady out to the woods.  Is this the sort of thing your advisors tell you to do?  Those fat, balding dotards don’t have a clue.  I rather doubt I will be attending a wedding any time soon.”  Downing the last of his ale, he signaled for a refill. 

She seemed to glide over the rough ground.  She barely made a footprint as she found her way to the chair at the end of the table.  The two men stood abruptly, nearly tipping over their chairs. 

With a sidelong glance at Alfred, Gorgan smiled broadly as Lady Anita began to sit carefully down. He noted her moderately disheveled hair and cut of her secondary gown.  “Lady Anita, allow me to introduce myself.  I am Gorgan Wymark, only son of Osmond Wymark, holder of the lands to the East.  How has your visit been so far, M’lady?  Has the peasantry treated you well?  Has my good cousin taken time to show you his holdings? Pray, you do not intend to spend the night out here, do you?” Gorgan masked his teasing smile with a look of dismay.

“Other than some slight mishaps, this has indeed been a most pleasant journey.”  Lady Anita quickly scanned both men’s faces. “We anticipate leaving this very evening, isn’t that right Alfred.”  Neither men seemed to notice the insistence in her voice.  Or if they did, they gave no visible notice.  Looking at her hands, neatly folded in her lap, “I’m afraid I no more changes of clothing with me.” She smiled and looked at Gorgan.  “It seems I have been the brunt of some imp’s joke, this day.  I have fallen in the river, fallen in the only mud puddle around for miles and then fell into the privy.  I’ll not be spending the night.” 

“What?!”  Gorgan began to bluster, “I had not heard of these unfortunate mishaps.  Alfred, why was I not told.”  Gorgan feigned concern well.

“I am afraid, cousin, this is the first I have heard of these myself.  Lady, please tell us please.  You have been here such a short time.  I had thought you resting.”  Alfred was genuinely aghast.

“I am told I tripped or sat down too quickly and heavily, but I tell you I was pushed!”  Anita’s cheeks took on the red hue of anger.  “Was I not pushed, Mildred?”  Mildred had just joined the group.  Her eyes quickly darted between the men. 

She had to judge her words wisely, for someone could get flogged over this and she did not want to be that someone. “All is as you say, M’lady.”  Setting the tray of steaming tea onto the table, Mildred took one of the cups and began to serve Anita.

Gorgan leaned forward eyeing Mildred more closely.  “This face I have seen before.” He announced.  “I do not like it and I do not trust it.  Leave my presence wench.”  Thrusting his hand outward, he pointed to the door.  “She is filled with trickery!  Send her away or I shall run her through!”  Without waiting for action on Alfred’s part, Gorgan ran Mildred through her heart.  

Collapsing to the floor, Mildred’s body began to spurt it’s lifeblood.  Black oozed from the wound.  Reeking of brimstone, Mildred’s mouth smiled. “You will not win, there are more.  You will not win.” With that, her body shriveled and writhed into black dust and blew away.

Alfred broke the silence. “Lady Anita…”

Seeming to come out of a trance, “She was a gift.  She was given to me by my brother’s wife.” Lady Anita rose to stand, her faltering steps belied her distress, she fainted. 

Scooping Anita into his arms, Lord Alfred folded the tiny woman to his chest.  He turned to face his cousin.  Glaring into one another’s eyes, Gorgan spit out, “It would seem my family’s destiny to always come to your rescue”.

leigh
 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gerome #6 BFF 246: Reality or Dreams




Reality or Dreams
BFF # 246
Gerome #6

Gerome didn’t think the day would ever end.  Sitting on a log just in the woods, head held in his hands, elbows resting on his knees, he was the picture of agony. “Is this really happening or am I just dreaming?!”  He demanded aloud. 

Looking up at the squirrels in the tree who had stopped their chattering to pay attention to the hunchbacked human.  “Why did I barter with them?  Why didn’t I just make demands and let them wreck their havoc on me?  They could have drown me, or changed me into a fish or maybe a frog. They could have pulled me under and given me to their cousins the Sirens.   Oh, will this day never end?”  His lamenting had even stopped the singing from the birds in the trees.

“I have never seen anyone so, so,  clumsy!”  Looking around him, he knew he had been gone from the camp site far too long.  Chairs needed repair after she sat down, tables toppled as she walked past, the tie-back for the tent door became tangled keeping her inside her tent until a knife could be found to cut the ties.  This woman seemed to be trouble.
Gerome slowly made his way to the cook’s tent.  “Is the makeshift kitchen to your liking, Cook?”  He asked the round woman who was stirring a pot hanging over a fire.  “You look like a witch from one of your tales, stirring that pot.  Next thing you know, you’ll be casting spells.” 

A round smiling face turned to him.  “Gerome, all will be well.  That pinched look you carry is not going to change anything, but it will give you a headache.  If we were at home, with my own kitchen, this task would be complete! I’m not cooking anything in this pot…I am cleaning some of Lady Anita’s clothing.  That girl has…”

Gerome held up his hand, “Cook, you have always had a level head on your shoulders.  You have usually had a smile and a kind word for everyone.  I beg you, give some thought before you say anything.  This one may need more kindness than I have to give and I shall be leaning on you for that very specialty.” 

Cook smiled even more widely nodding her head knowingly.  “I’ll do what I can. Meanwhile, keep those boys you call “men” away from Her Ladyship’s clothes.  We don’t need them pawing all over ‘em, or worse yet, making off with one of her fancy under slips. We’d never hear the end of it.”   

They laughed together, “Cook, like all children, I’ve heard the tale of the Princess and the Pea.  I had always understood it to be just that, at tale.  Turns out Ladies really are Persnickety Persimmons!”  Gerome reached for a biscuit from the platter on the table, just as a another’s small hand reached from under the table to grab a biscuit also.  “Nymph, you wouldn’t know anything about the mishaps Lady Anita is experiencing, would you?” A stern look crossed Gerome’s face.  His bright blue eyes darkened with anger. Grabbing Aquina’s hand, he wrenched her out from under the table.

“Child!” Cook looked aghast.  “Child, where are your clothes?  How are you traipsing around half naked?  Gerome, where did she come from?”  The robust woman’s step faltered, she clasped her hands to her chest and gasped. “Gerome, what have you done?”  Standing, in all her glory, was the most beautiful young woman Cook had ever seen, and she was as naked as the day she was born.  This would never do. 

Hustling Gerome from her makeshift kitchen, Cook addressed Aquina’s nakedness. 
Cook had given him the “bums rush” from the enclosure, Gerome half fell half staggered into the middle of another crisis.  Lord Gorgan and his had ridden his fighting steed into the middle of campsite.  His hounds were growling and snapping towards the tent Gerome had just been tossed out of.  “By the Gods, there is magic!” He roared as his horse pranced around in a circle kicking up unwarranted dust and dirt across the campsite.  “You, cripple, you dare to dabble in the dark arts?!”  Swinging his horses head around to face Gerome, Gorgan began to unsheathe his sword.

“Cousin!” Lord Alfred stepped off the river path and into the circle.  Handing his string of brook trout to his aide, Lord Alfred lay his fishing pole against a nearby tent.  “Now, what is this about magic?  Is Merlin come to visit?  I think not.  Such a magician would not be bothered with a small estate as this.  There is no magic, your hounds are simply overwrought from such a long journey.  Come, come down and allow my men to tend to your hounds and horse.  We are just about to have tea, but I think your presence warrants a flagon of ale.”  Gesturing for his cousin to follow.

Nostrils on the giant black horse flared.  Stomping his front hooves, the great beast fixed his eyes on Gerome.  Hate exuded from both rider and steed.  Gerome thought it uncanny that the very man accusing him of wielding magic rode a horse who appeared to comprehend it’s master’s intent.  Thankfully, the three great wolf hounds grumbled but stayed close to their master’s heel, eyes never straying from Cook’s area. 

leigh

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gerome #5 Invisible People



Invisible People
Gerome #5



Writers Post Bloghop prompt is brought to you by Jo Heroux



The great tent collapsed, again.  Several small enclosures had been erected already, standing solid with their banners fluttering in the wind.  These small enclosures would offer privacy as needed. The great tent was proving to be much more difficult. It seemed each time they nearly had all the stakes pounded in a great gust of wind would topple it onto the poor crew inside. 

Fear was beginning to creep it’s way around the faces of the men and women working in the area.  Unspoken were the words of whom they may have offended to have the wind behave in such a fashion.  Gerome gathered them all together, looking each of them in the face he began to talk.  “We need this picnic to be a success.  He Lordship needs to wed.  We are a small barony within the lands.  If Lord Albert does not wed and conceive an heir soon, we may be subjected to a usurper, namely his cousin Lord Gorgan.  You have each felt the wrath of Lord Gorgan.  We have all seen the way he treats his animals, kicking the dogs and using clubs on his horses.  Not to mention his poor valet, the whip marks on that lads back bespeaks much cruelty.  This is not a man we want to guide our future.  I fear he would treat our lands as he does his own small villa, he would slaughter indiscriminately, he would rape and take that which is not his.  Even if he did not take our lives, he would kill us all inch by inch through his actions.  This must be a gala occasion.  This must work, Lord Albert has been infatuated with Lady Anita for quite a while now.  I don’t know that he would have another.  Our very lives depend upon the success of this picnic.  But with these winds, I am reminded of our festival two years ago.  Didn’t great blasts of wind topple the very stage we had built in the center of town?  Didn’t those same winds extinguish night lights?  Didn’t those same winds billow the ladies dresses for all the men’s pleasure!  Let us again, place the center mast for our grand tent and raise it to our future. The wind is just that, the wind.”

Every head there bobbed up and down in agreement.  All hands clapped as well as stomped their feet in approval.  Putting their backs to the task the tent was quickly raised, the Gerome’s great relief.  He cast his eye about, looking for the Nymph.  If she had anything to do with those great gusts of wind….He spied her twining her body around one of the horses.

“Nymph, enchanting that old nag will garner you nothing.”  Gerome called to her as he hobbled that way. 

“My name is not Nymph.  If you will not address me properly, I will not heed your words either.”  She turned her luminescent golden eyes to him.  They seemed to flash sparks at him and he looked at her with wonder. 

“My apologies, Your Royal Highness Princess Aquina, but again, enchanting that horse will do nothing but make her impossible for her handler.”  Gerome was beginning to lose his patience.  The Nymph as mischievous as she was beautiful making it all the more difficult for him.  She had only been around for less than one day and already too many unusual incidents had occurred.  Besides the great blasts of wind; firewood had suddenly become wet and difficult to burn,  fish jumped out of the water to land next to the fire, and oddest of all no birds were to be seen in the area.  If the others were to find out about her, they would bolt or worse try to find her and kill her.  Fear of the unknown does that to mobs of unenlightened. “If the horse is not willing to work with her own lifelong handler, there will be suspicions of magic and Fairies and witches.  We cannot frighten these poor folks.  They don’t know any better.  And, you should heed my speech, if Lord Gorgan is successful in a coupe, your people will be hunted as prey.”

To this, the lovely Nymph snorted derisively.  “I think not.  My people have journeyed the waters of this land for millennia.  One lone goblin, who names himself Lord, will not alter my people’s lives.  He may be able to bully stupid humans, but Water Nymphs?  Never.”  Flinging her long strawberry blonde hair over her shoulder, she stomped to the river and flung herself over the bank. 

Startled, Gerome spun at the sound of the Blue Jay sentry.  The bird called to this part of the forest that an intruder was nearing.  He nodded his thanks to the Jays, glad they were able to overcome their fears and stay moderately close to the campsite. 

Everyone in the camp hustled to the edge of the lane to welcome his Lordship and the entourage.  Naturally, his Lordship led the way seated upon his stallion.  The Lady Anita, traveling in a coach, looked wide eyed as she took in the scenery.  The well worn coach had seen better days, but to the eyes of one who had never seen a coach it was a thing of beauty.  The scrolled handles for entrance and egress gleamed against the lacquered coach body.  Painted flowers adorned the doors and ivy framed in the window openings.  His Lordship’s father had never allowed the niceties of a coach and Lord Alfred really hadn’t seen any need to alter that fact. Lady Anita had the privacy curtain pulled back to watch the passage of time.  Upon entrance to the camp site, however, she snapped the curtain shut again cutting off all scrutiny of herself. 

Following the coach were the rest of the “party”.  Since they followed behind, they were a bit worse for wear.  Dust covered and dirty, most had attempted to hang farther back away from the coach thereby avoiding the dirt lunch.  It was a bit of a rag-tag entourage following the Lady, but follow they did.  The billows of dust and dirt following closely behind them as well.

The footman hurried with the step, to the side door.  Accenting her flawless alabaster skin, her raven hair was neatly coiffed and adorned with pretty ribbons.  Her lovely blue gown matched the ice blue of her eyes.  Small feet filled matching blue slippers and the pearls about her neck glisten from much wear.  Gerome nearly swayed.  She was such a beauty!  No wonder his good friend Lord Alfred was so enamored.  This petite woman could easily rule the world with such beauty! Turning to her lady-in-waiting Lady Anita was about to speak.  Could the words sound anything other than music from such a lovely?
“Mildred, get fetch me some water.  I would find out if the rivers are sweet here.”  Her voice grated as a rusted gate caught in a wind storm.  Goose pimples ran up and down Gerome’s spine.  Gerome looked away, thankfully the spell was broken.  Thankfully, he would not embarrass his friend in that fashion!  Looking at Lord Albert, Gerome could see the rapture of love running across his face.  “Where is that foolish woman?  She is almost worthless.”

A smallish meek looking woman stepped forward. “ I am here at your side, Mistress.  Where I always am.” She too was neatly dressed, although not nearly as ornate.  It was quite obvious she belonged to the Lady Anita.  It was quite obvious, to Gerome, that the Lady Anita was accustomed to getting whatever she wanted from whomever.  She would be one to treat those around her as though they were invisible.

The Nymph peered around the backside of Gerome, startling him.  “That is no way for my future husband to look upon that woman!”

leigh

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gerome #4 - BFF 243 Roots


Gerome 4

BFF 243 : Roots

The sky was as black as Gerome had ever seen it.  The stars seemed to twinkle and smile at him.  After cooking his dinner, he allowed the fire to burn down to create a solid bed of embers.  He stoked the fire now.  Sparks crackled and skittered across the sky nearly out shining the stars.  The crescent moon hid behind a small gray cloud, peeking from time to time as if reassuring itself that all was well.  The rain clouds, from earlier in the day, seemed to have moved out of the area, as if a great hand reached out and swept them away.

Gerome fashioned a seat for himself, between the fire and the river.  Carefully placing the feathers on either side of the seat, within easy grasp he settled onto the seat he had fashioned.  He intended the feathers to inspire him for the stories he was about to tell.  He sat down to await his audience.

As his eyes adjusted to the dark, the “fish” began to jump.  Bright colors reflected from the firelight all iridescent and glittering with water drops.  Flashes into the night’s ebony sky seemed like the fireworks at Harvest Festival. 

A sound not unlike a flock of sand heron filled the air.  Gerome looked up as if in protection of these beautiful marvels, he would repel any heron who thought they might swoop in for an easy meal.  He quickly realized this was the sound of their language.  The language of the water Nymph was new to him. 

So enthralled was he, he nearly missed the assembly near his feet.  Sitting on smooth river rocks, were the apparent leaders of the water Nymphs.  Full regalia, they wore headdresses filled with all types of feathers, gems and other trinkets which had been cast aside by others.  Pottery shards, bits of lace, sea weed, and other items found at the river's bottom adorned not only their headdress but their bodies as well.  Noticeably, the importance of the individual was designated by the size of their headdress, the ornate decorations and the amount of items that glittered in the firelight.

Clearing his throat as he held up the first feather, Gerome signaled he was ready to begin.   Pausing for effect, the first feather was a bright red; a Cardinal’s feather.  He spoke of the significance and what the red feather as well as the Cardinal represented; courtship, fatherhood, understanding the power of the wind, finding your soul song and of course the cycle of power. 

Next he held up the feather of a Loon.  Running his fingers up the spine of the feather, he spoke of great deep lakes, lifelong partnerships of male and female, of territorial hunting and of migrations among friends.

With great ceremony and flourish, after each story, the feather was then accepted first by the most important who with his own flourish would brandish the feather off to one with the next largest headdress and so on until one would spin as they dove into the waters only to be lost from Gerome’s sight. 

Finally, Gerome held the largest of his horde of feathers for last; the Albatross.  He stood to tell his last story, giving it emphasis and importance. “As you can see, I have withheld the largest for last; the Albatross.  As I began this story of the feathers, with the Cardinal  who signifes twelve, this is the twelfth and last of my stories.  The Albatross is known for taking several years to court his lover, often leaving her for long periods of time, only to return and continue with the same dance at the very location they had left off.  The Albatross epitomizes eternal pacts of relationships and friendships.  All the while soaring above the earth and only alighting upon earth at sight of the one it has made the lifelong pact with.”  He again ran his hands up the length of the vane, spreading the individual barbs, and was flicking the calamus.  “Every feather found is a gift, whether it is a direct gift or an indirect gift.  It holds the magic of flight, it holds the magic of the bird that grew it, it holds secrets of the root of all flight, and it also holds the magic of the sky it has flown through. To own these feathers brings much power to your people; People of the Water.”

Listening to the sound of bodies returning to the water, as though handfuls of stones had been hurled across the surface, Gerome was certain he was again alone.   “I didn't even get their names.  I should have demanded names first, names are important, names are powerful and I didn't get them.”  He berated himself soundly.

Throwing more wood onto the fire, he started to make his way to his blanket, when he saw her.  One lone Nymph stood at the edge of the firelight. It was the same beautiful eyes that captivated him before.  Those eyes he felt he could drown in.  Remembering something he had been told as a child about one of the war tactics of Nymphs having the power to mesmerize in order to drown, he quickly looked away.

Slowly, she moved closer.  Speaking, she suddenly realized she had spoken in the tongue of the Nymph.  Blushing, she began again, “You are fortunate indeed, to have been traveling with feathers to barter with the Potamide.  And fortunate you are that you stayed out of the waters until after the bargaining was concluded, they would have taken you to their abode.” Her speech was so matter of fact that for a moment Gerome was stunned.

“They would have drowned me?”  He asked incredulously. 

“Actually no, not you, you would have been safe on this trip.  But, for the others, they would have perished.  We knew you would be here, there is more to this bargain that you first thought.” 

Gerome began to hedge away from her and closer to the fire, knowing she dare not “dry out”.  The Nymphs had to be hydrated and preferably wet.  He nonchalantly picked up a stick and poked at the fire.

“I will be the guardian of the river while your Lordship is at the river side.  Then you will take me with you when you leave.” 

“This was never spoken of.  This was never even impressed upon my dreams.”  Gerome knew he could not rebel against this Nymph, she held the power to cause great harm.  Besides, how much trouble could she be away from the river? 

leigh

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gerome #3 - Glass Half Full or Half Empty


Gerome #3

Glass Half Full or Half Empty


Gerome followed the path towards the river.  His Lordship and the court would be joining him at the riverside soon enough.  Gerome had work to do.  Work he really didn't want others to see, which was why he had traveled without companionship or protection all this long way.

Stumbling upon the Gypsies had been disconcerting, but eventually they agreed to leave the area.  They would go peddle their wares in the village while his Lordship was at the river. The old woman certainly took a keen interest.  He had heard about that type of perversion….no, no advances were made toward him.  No.
 
It was an odd life indeed.  The village people all thought he, Gerome, was magic.  Some would intentionally walk close enough to brush up against him, thinking some luck would rub off for them.  They reasoned the old Lord had died upon his arrival to town.

The young Lord had succeeded his father with no small amount of competence.  The village flourished under the young Lord’s guidance; the crops yielded exceptionally large harvests, there hadn’t been a stillborn child since the young Lord took over, and there had been no wars since the young Lord came to power.

It was time.  The young Lord needed to be wed.  He needed an heir. 

Immersed in his thoughts, Gerome cast a glance at the river’s edge.  There was a fine deep pool.  It would be filled with all sorts of fish.  Lord Alfred would be able to supply his guests with plenty of food.

Carefully, Gerome lay his pack on the ground near an uprooted tree.  The river had cut its path into the roots of the tree, toppling it so that he now had a makeshift bridge.  The bridge spanned the river at a sharp bend in the river which had created a whirlpool only a few feet from the river bank.   Propping his pole against the roots, Gerome hoisted himself onto the tree.  In a sitting position, he lifted his body up and dropped it back down ensuring the tree would hold Lord Alfred and they wouldn’t need to be fishing him from the river.

Sliding from the great downed tree, Gerome busied himself unpacking.  He gingerly laid a kerchief onto the ground.  With seemingly great affection he unwrapped feathers.  No ordinary Blue Jay feathers.  These were great feathers.  Feathers from several large birds; eagles, peacocks and guinea hens.  Gerome stroked the feathers, he seemed to preen them murmuring soft words as he did so. 

Taking a small guinea hen feather, he laced it with his fishing line as though it were a hook.  Casting the feather into the water at the opposite river’s edge, he slowly reeled the line back in.  Just as he was about to lift the feather from the water, a tiny hand shot out and grabbed it.  Hauling the feather under the surface of the water and up river.  Gerome played the line for only a moment, then he began the fight to land his prize. 

Sometime later, he reached for his net and scooped his prize from the river.  Staring into the large round eyes of the prettiest green eyes he had ever seen.  “Ah water baby, you are indeed beautiful and a prize worth fighting for.”  He exclaimed. 

Not letting go of the feather, the small creature showed her indignant displeasure.  She spouted water at his face and said, “We are not water babies.  Are you such a dolt you cannot tell a water baby from a water nymph?” She slapped the side of his head with her iridescent tail.  Moving so quickly even the stars it brought to his sight were in the blues, greens and purples of the water.

“Lady, I am learning quickly.”  Stretching his arm to move her further away from him.  “I am here on a mission and would enlist your assistance.”  He ventured to eye her again.  As human girls were concerned, he would have placed her around 20 years of age.  But with nymphs, who knew how old or young she might be.  She said nothing, but still grasping the feather, nodded her head indicating he should go on with his story.

Sitting on the bank of the river, with a water nymph at his side, Gerome told his story of meeting Lord Alfred and the past ten years.  He explained how important it was for Lord Alfred to wed. The nymph nodded her head indicating she understood his concern.   “Why not have Lord Alfred marry a water nymph?  We could supply all the fish your village would ever want and it would further cement the relationship between water and land.” 

Pretending to contemplate her words, Gerome looked out over the water.  “While your proposal does have its merits, my Lord’s heart is set on wedding the Lady Anita.  She won his heart years ago and now he would like to win hers as well.” He did know better than  to say that Lord Alfred really didn't want to have to grow gills in order to dwell occasionally among the nymphs either.

“I see the feathers you brought to barter with.  I know a few of them.  You will tell us the story of the rest tonight.  We will gather at the river’s edge, where you will build a fire, and tell us of the feathers.” With that she wriggled around and dove back into the water. 

Turning to the task of gathering firewood, Gerome grinned.  He had done it.  He had struck a bargain with the water nymphs.  He had heard tales all of his life, but never had he even seen one, that he knew of.  This was indeed a wonderful day.  His Lordship was going to be able to provide a feast to impress his Lady.  And to ensure the water nymphs didn't renege, he had brought a huge spool of netting.  When the lads finally arrived, he would have them stretch the netting across the river.  If they could not reel enough fish in with the fishing rod, they would capture them with the net.  He thought of his Grandmother. 

His Grandmother had raised him, they had a small cabin at the edge of the village, nearly into the forest.  She was a very loving and patient woman, always telling him life wasn't about what happened to you, but how your reacted to the trials and tribulations.  She said something about the glass being half full…but that was long ago and he may have only dreamed of her kindness. 

It was going to be a successful time at the river or his name wasn't Gerome the Hunchback! 

leigh