Heledavar dropped off the branch, landing feet first on the moss. She’d had an uneventful night in the tree, no visit from the Mlkh of the Beautiful NightMare. It was not the first time Heledavar was left with a barren sleep. She was miffed, ready to take it out on her brother, Haladavar, Wood Elf style. Heledavar reached up, grabbed a low hanging branch, and pulled. It tore off the tree, no more effort than to step on a cadaverous bug. Heledavar thought a prayer to the tree.
It was a Tarn’s bottom to be the only femwaif in a family of Tree Elf glutoffs.
She took to dashing behind and between trees, hoping that Hal was still was captive in the dream world. She reached his spot and stopped. Heledavar’s miffed turned quickly into peeved. Instead of her brother laid out on his favorite bed of rubble stones, Hal left a “note” on the center stone. It was spelled out with smaller rocks: “gone adven bi. “ An adventure? The glutoff! Heledavar stormed off.
As the action of Hal kept repeating inside her, Heledavar elevated her peeved to one of extreme vexation. She swore in High Wood Elf, her mixture of curses brimming to the surface. Her mismatched eyes bulged out. Vexation to fury, with ease.
She had lived through this five -no, six- times before. All of her siblings: “gone bi.” Until this last darkness, the dark became less dark. Then, only Haladavar and Heledavar remained. Now, Heledavar, alone. Hal left her to tend to their rotten, miserable, ungrateful parents.
Their Her parents and their “haute couture” shrubbery and mulch mini-farm. Neither she nor any of her brothers had any intention to take over the family business: The Aralavaris Botanical and Breakfast Hut.
They all went “gone” the same way. They’d reach a specific tree span, and before anyone could say “Zarn Knows Little,” the darkness welcomed them. Each of them cringed once their parents went to bed. To a sibling, they learned where to sleep outside, reducing the horrible noise. The snoring was deafening. A Green Dragon could tear up all the trees outside, set fire to the shrubbery, roaring its terrible roar, and gnashing its terrible teeth. No matter. When they went to bed, they went to bed, snoring through the darkness. She knew the Green Dragon’s frenzy because that scenario had happened. Three times. No. Four? Yes, four times.
She mumbled through gritted teeth: “those glutoffs! Moronic glutoffs! Feted glutoffs!”
Heledavar raised both hands, clenched in rock breaking fists. She boxed the air above her head, screaming to the puce heavens above. Heledavar stopped her tantrum as quickly as it started. The last time she let loose was the time the previous Green Dragon came forth.
Her ill feelings shifted, rising from peeved to quite vexed.
She approached the hut they had all shared. The snoring cut through the rotting wood paneling, shored up by their “best” shrubbery. Snoring. Near endless snoring. Momentous snoring! Apocalyptic noise that would be the end of her if she did not leave. As all the others did. She thought about patricide and matricide for an Ogre’s hair breath, but she just shook her massive head. Heledavar snuck inside, grabbing the clothing and few items that were hers, shoving them into a bag.
Heledavar also helped herself to half the armory in the hut. Twelve throwing crescents, eleven Smoke Eaters, ten silver-rimmed stakes, enough knives to hide around her body, her bow with two quivers of arrows, and, finally, her mother’s Great Sword. Her pride, her treasure, the sword she named “Zweihänder, The Death That Comes.” When her mother, The Zoupah, took out her eight hand-sized, double-edged straight blade, her opponents knew it was already too late for them. Bladders were voided. Most ran. They still voided.
During those times, her father stayed at the hut, watching over his bushes.
It was Heledavar’s time. Before she set out, Heledavar raided the kitchen. Food for the road. Satisfied with all the meats and treats she liked, Heledavar skulked out of the hut. Heledavar went to Hal’s favorite conk-out spot. She added a smeared smattering of broken slab over Hal’s message: “H to bi.” It served its purpose. As she walked away, grease dripped down her chin from the roasted Shaitan she spirited away.
At High Not Dark, Heledavar stopped on the rocky path she strode along. The ground trembled from the aftershocks of the snoring. Rocks rolled. Saplings unrooted themselves. The oldest, largest trees felt their leaves tumble away. Even this far away, the snoring would not let her leave. Heledavar’s vexation catapulted to rage. Heledavar held up her left fist, the right trying not to lose the fatty shank. She steadied the shank by sinking her teeth into the next to last deep mass of meat. Heledavar was free to hold up her smallest finger. Heledavar leaned her head back, a gargling noise spilling out of her mouth, and shot down. She spat out all that she had held back. Bile mixed with the saliva ejected seventeen times. Each one a burial for the last seventeen cycles that were her life.
Heledavar turned her back on the direction of the AB&BH, remaining in place. From stillness to a howling wind, Heledavar closed her right eye, whirled four times to the known winds, then four times back again. She repeated that dance three more times, at last planting her feet solid on the path. She said her name for the last time. “Heledavar.” Her past and the name that held roots were discarded. Hele, now, opened her eye, continuing on the pitted path before her.
She only looked back three times before the hut, at long last, fell away.
Or, was it Hele’s fourth time she looked back? Fifth?
She pondered that for a long while walking. The darkness and the less dark filled in the spaces to the next day.
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“Wendy. Close the window. It is freezing in here.”
John was flat on his back, under his sheets and quilt. He had his right arm draped over his eyes. Truth be told, it was his nightshirt that did the draping. John’s arm was across his brow. He had to remind himself to relax, for he was leaving an indent in the lower forehead.
Wendy sat on the padded window bench; knees tucked up tight against her chest. Her arms encircled her legs. The window was ajar, allowing the night winds free entry into the bedroom. Wendy searched the clouds, looking. Praying. Hoping.
The wind whipped up, bursting past the lead paned glass. It sends Wendy’s nightshirt fluttering. Her shoulders lifted, her immaculate posture in place. Wendy tilted her head just so. She knew what he liked.
As did she.
“Arrrrrr, matey!” John used his pirate voice, doing his best to make her laugh. Wendy did not laugh nor smile. Jumping out of bed, John had to untangle himself from the bedsheets. All of the bed coverings wound up on the floor.
“Wendy, it is freezing in here. Shut the window, please.” He looked over at Michael, deep in slumber. His consistent snoring was the proof he was asleep. He could never duplicate that sound when he was faking to stay in bed. Mother saw right through him.
Wendy shushed him.
“You know he won’t wake up. He’s dead to the world right now.”
She shushed him again. John grabbed his quilt from the floor, whipping it over his head and onto his shoulders. So encased, John approached his sister. Wendy was still eyeing the night sky.
John plopped down on the other side of the bench, pulling the blanket even tighter around him. Just as his teeth started to chatter, he realized Wendy was only in her night clothing. Reversing the quilt, he laid one end over his sister.
“Thank you, John,” she whispered, far away from the room. John followed where she was looking. She’d change an angle; he would mirror it. “Darling bookends,” Liza would say if the housemaid was in the room. He smiled at that thought. Wendy noticed him as his smile slowly crept back inside him.
“Wendy. He’s not coming back. He isn’t. Shh. Please hear me out. We’ve had this…this…talk far too often. Fourteen months have passed. No pirates. No Indians. No Tink. No Pe…”
Reaching over, Wendy placed the four fingers of her left hand gently over his mouth.
“Enough, John. Please. I know. I still hope. I still have hope. Every blessed night I have hope. It just,” Wendy stopped, turning her head back to gazing the now unclouded sparkling heavens. “It just hurts, John.”
He nodded his head. What was left to say? They had had this conversation far too many times. It always ended in tears. There were many nights where John tried his best to distract her. The successful evenings were spent making up stories of what battle or mischief he would be embroiled in, smack in the center of it all. She’d laugh at many of his tales. The more outlandish he made them, the more Wendy relaxed. And she’d stop looking out the window.
The less beneficial nights would come, ones where John felt powerless. Wendy, questioning, always the same. “Why doesn’t he return?” John knew there were two unspoken words to that query: “For her.”
Wendy did turn her head back to John. “No stories tonight, please. My insides are so knotted, so heavy. Not tonight, dear John. Not tonight.”
He nodded his head, and the two sat quietly by the window. No one spoke. Michael snored. They both yawned, Wendy insisting John started it. John, naturally, accused Wendy.
“We better get to bed. I don’t wish Mother to be cross with us in the morning.” She stood up, patting her nightwear down into a proper shape. John noticed Wendy’s hesitation before she reached over and closed the window. The sound of the latch fitting in place brought a feathery gasp from her lips. Her arms, as always, crossed over her heart.
John returned to bed. He tossed all the linen quilt back on the bed, diving under it all for warmth. John’s face was warm. He felt an unpleasant tightening in his chest. He should have hugged her, said he’ll always be there for her, that she was the best sister anyone ever had. John only said: “Good night, Wendy,” as she closed the door, tiptoeing down the hallway to her room.
As Wendy made it to her bed, her thoughts swallowed her whole. She thought of the unfairness of growing up. How much Wendy wanted to share the same bedroom with her brothers again. How much she wished she had stayed and not returned home. All swept away by the burning question she held tight: “Why hasn’t Peter returned for me?”
It was just over a month that Wendy overheard “The” conversation. Wendy, supposedly in bed, was walking by Mother’s bedroom. The door was partially open. Peeking in, Mother was sitting at her vanity, Liza behind her, counting out the number of times she ran the brush through Mother’s hair.
Wendy was not pleased that Mother was now calling her “a proper young lady.” She had experienced her first flow, a most embarrassing event. Her bones were achy almost all the time. She started maturing. Wendy’s new clothing, the changes in her body, all of it left her feeling embarrassed and humiliated. Wendy’s deep sadness permeated throughout her.
She knew why Peter did not come for her.
Why he would not come for her, ever again.
Wendy wished she had never eavesdropped.
“100,” Lisa stated, putting the hairbrush down on the table. “Miss Wendy is starting to fill out, mum. She’ll be as beautiful as you. Not that she isn’t a pretty young thing now.”
Mother was silent, staring into the mirror. Wendy was sure Mother would not answer Liza. Just as she began to walk away, Wendy heard Mother say, “I know it is the right thing to do, Liza. It is time that Wendy a room to herself. She is blossoming. It is time for her to grow into being a proper young lady. But.” Mother left that word dangling on its own.
“Yes, but,” Liza agreed. “It will be for the best.”
Mother nodded. “I do pray that this will ease the burden she carries. Wendy needs to let this fantastical story of flying, pirates, faeries…” Mother sighed. “She needs to let it go.”
Wendy moved away from the door.
The next day Wendy was given her room. She sulked alone for the next two days, only leaving her confines for meals that she picked at. The third night, though, she had had enough.
Wendy immediately ran to the bedroom she had shared with her brothers. She threw the door wide open. Her feet glided across the nursery floor until she got up on the window. Kneeling, Wendy opened the windows. She crept to the window frame, her eyes fixated on the dark, laden clouds above. No stars were visible. Rain, though: rain fell ferociously. Wendy became a soaking wet sponge instantly. She kneeled on the pane for a long while.
A noise coming from the doorway startled Wendy out of her fugue. Wendy slightly turned and saw Liza standing in the hallway.
“Wendy Darling,” Liza trumpeted. She stamped her feet as she approached the window seat, not thinking of the boys at all. Upon arrival, Liza shooed Wendy to move away. “Young lady, what has gotten into you? You were not in your room. I knew you would be here. You, young lady, are heading straight to your room: a hot bath and fresh nightshirt. Go on. I’ll be right behind you.”
Wendy, shivering, glanced at her brothers, warmly tucked in. She smiled although her heart was shattering.
When she heard the latch fall into place, she sat on the floor and cried.
The AtoZ is a challenge. I take that seriously. Since 2011, my first foray into this, I have changed gears from year to year. I like stretching beyond my comfort zones. Some of it has been well taken in both Stats and comments. Others, like this year, not so much.
I am pleased with what I chose to do: write 26 Lyrical Poems under the theme title. Write every day in April, except Sundays. I have written poetry before, many well received by the readers. But, I write in that style intermittently.
This was truly a challenging April.
If you’ve followed from April 1st with Awakenings to Zealous O’er the Seas, you’ve experienced my venting, wistfulness, wishing, observations, and anger through my words. Some I rhymed on purpose, some I just let the words loose.
Every single poem was written with a genre of music or musician’s styling playing in my head. I did not intend to appropriate any specific song; it’s the overall mood they convey and are masters of. I’ve written songs before, but I have no knowledge of musical notation and I don’t play a musical instrument. I hear it inside and then turn to someone to collaborate with. From humming it out, setting the beats (as I see them), hearing it played, gets me going. Seeing how the meter is off from one (or many) line(s) starts my rewrite of the lyrics if needed. Tweaking the piece, scrapping whole verses, you know: first to finished draft.
The music that drifted around me as I wrote the poem daily (I don’t pre-write) is varied:
Why Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul? What does that mean, to you? What do you think it means to me? I asked that question near the end of the month and got one response.
Noor Anand Chawla wrote:
I think your title alludes to the fact that you lay yourself and perhaps your worst fears, bare to your audience, through these 26 pieces. “Nightmares” refer to your worst fears, and “unbleached soul” refers to the absence of restraint and being absolutely honest about your feelings.
Perhaps my explanation is too simplistic? What do you think?
Noor pretty much nailed it. I feel that nightmares go beyond our sleep. They are all around us. It could be people, situations, personal fears, perceived fears, and hurt that you feel has been done to you, or that you have done to yourself.
Noor also got the “Unbleached Soul” part. I would add to that when we follow the crowd, stop thinking on our own (or made to stop), refuse to look at things from another angle = Bleached. Soul or Mind: interchangeable.
Overall, I am a non-conformist. I despise the statement “We’ve always done it this way!” For me, there is no box for me to think out of. It’s been imposed on me time and again. Not my thing. I’m creative. I don’t always follow mindless rules, inflexible, with no desire to even listen to a different POV. Sometimes I’ve done that: those are the times I get headaches constantly and down more aspirin than I should.
Try Noor’s blog (link above). I think you’ll enjoy her writing.
I love the AtoZ Blog Challenge. I’ve come across some amazing writers, and many have become online friends. Their pieces are varied from all types of fiction to creative non-fiction to reviews and more. That’s a big part of why I come back.
As I mentioned above, I like a challenge when writing. This gives me that opportunity with the potential to reach well beyond the people who follow me. I’m not hawking for new followers. The performer side of me wants people to want more, for the readers to take what they will from the piece that can touch them &/or make them think.
I am disappointed, again already mentioned, with my stats and comments this year. This was the smallest audience of all my years participating. I went out on a limb, poured a lot of what’s inside of me (as Noor mentioned), and while getting some amazing feedback I wonder what didn’t connect with others. Normally, I’ve had serialized stories that are long in length. I get that. Long posts are sometimes passed over, especially when you are blog hopping.
If I join in again next year, I have a lot of contemplation ahead of me.
Big thanks to Arlee Bird and all the other hosts who worked on this year’s Atoz Blog Challenge. It is obvious how much work they have put in. It shows in many ways.
Big thanks 2, to all of my readers, commenters, and supporters. Too many to name, but know your interaction is priceless.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone.
NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL
I hold doors for all genders; it's my way Thinking of others,whatever the day Please and Thank You are always on cue You're welcome follows whenever it's due I'd give up my spot on a crowded bus or a train But lately from another...no, no. I'll refrain. It's a blast meeting someone with a pension for being polite We could play Alfonse and Gaston all through the night Winding up at a diner at dawn, stifling yawns, We drained out third cups of joe, out we go Cracking smiles with late owls and overnight crew But lately from another...no, no. I'll eschew. Now don't get me wrong, but some can make me blue They've opinions that they are entitled to But confrontations growled right out loud Behind my back or in front of a crowd Greed and jealousy are not part of my deck But lately from another..oh well, what the heck. Mr. Inconsiderate, without the Mr. is her stance Facing each other we do an antagonistic dance Yet she fails in her visions of superiority over me Now any infractions that she perceives Is handed to her flunky to handle. It's a crazy scene But lately from another..oh well, she's just mean. [The band] HA YEAH She's just mean [sotto voce] Now you don't have to just take my word Every encounter has been taped and observed Big Sister is watching, tries to use this clout To knock people off kilter, spinning all about [Loud and call backs] HEY BIG SISTER [HEY BIG SISTER] I SAID HEY BIG SISTER [HEY BIG SISTER] MR. INCONSIDERATE WON'T TAKE IT [HEY, WON'T TAKE IT] AS TIMOTHY LEARY SAID, OH SO PRECISE [Oooo Oooo Ooooo] I'll question your authority Until you learn to play... Nice. [spoken] Maybe not even then! Inconsideration is not in my purview Right now? It's up to you. Roll the dice. Ciao!
“I” had me in a holding pattern for most of the day. Then a style of music, and singer, popped into my head. I’m glad I listen to so many types and genres.
Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul. 26 posts during April, a new Lyrical Poem with every post.
“I suppose all fictional characters, especially in adventure or heroic fiction, at the end of the day are our dreams about ourselves. And sometimes they can be really revealing.”
“The act of writing is a way of tricking yourself into revealing something that you would never consciously put into the world. Sometimes I’m shocked by the deeply personal things I’ve put into books without realizing it.”
“its memories that I’m stealing, but you’re innocent when you dream” Tom Waits
I started Tale Spinning in January of 2011. April happened, and I discovered the AtoZ Blog Challenge. It has been a path I’ve taken just about every April since then (I didn’t participate twice; life, y’ know?).
When I sign up, I rarely know what I’m going to tackle by Theme Reveal Day. I’ll have an underlying theme title, maybe, and let the story/characters/ideas take over once we come very close to the start on April 1st.
Last year’s story, A Car in the Woods, began as one idea and morphed into something completely different by the third post. Some of that came from comments from the readers (comments ARE important); the rest of it, the characters spoke up and made the story-line happen. This year could be the same. Won’t know until we get there.
So, my AtoZ Challenge Theme Reveal is…
I was taking one of my walks. 6,000 steps into Tom Waits soul (which is a cool theme idea unto itself). His songs propelled me along. Somewhere along my route Innocent When You Dream starts playing. Through my headphones, I really HEAR everything that Waits is pouring out, laying his thoughts and feelings down for anyone who will listen, to experience.
The song, like others of his, stops me. I replay it a few times. Then a few more times. The words moved me while I stood still.
I’m a bit twisted, for those who’ve never read my writing before. For me, going in the opposite direction from a jumping-off point is kind of my norm. Hence, Innocent When You Dream rolled into Nightmares for Unbleached Souls.
Thank you, Mr. Waits. For all the words and music. For being my muse for this challenge.
I have my initial AtoZ list of nightmares/phobias (which most likely will change as I write during the month). I’m still debating the form this will take. Right now, I am contemplating:
#1 seems to hold my attention more, and I think it fits with how I came to this AtoZ Theme: Tom Waits songs.
We’ll see when April 1st arrives.
YOU can still join in. Visit the Blogging from A to Z home page. Take a gander at the Master List and Theme Reveal pages to see who is already participating. As I’ve mentioned before, it is not just creative writing. Non-fiction postings sit next to photography a day, parent advice blogs, poetry, and so on.
Just remember one thing: Comments are important.
Thanks. I hope you’ll enjoy what’s coming to Tale Spinning.
Pure adrenaline; squealing around turns
A rise along the sediment; a bump, unseen
And we’re lifted off the ground
We’re lifted off the ground
We’re driving into the sun.
Pushing past the limits; Downshift to take it high
The glaring prism breaks the pain
That’s everywhere as we scream
We’re lifted off the ground
We’re driving into the sun.
Light ahead; lights behind
There’s no box to keep us level
No box to think within
We’re lifted off the ground
Lifted off the ground
Are you still with me?
I really can not tell
Not sure if I care or not
It’s all a blur as we ascend
We’re driving into the sun
Driving into the sun
Lifting off the ground
Nothing really matters much
Driving into the sun
We’re lifted off the ground
Off the ground
We’re driving into the sun.
Yes, I have signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge for this year. I started my blog in 2011 a few months before April sprang on me. I went for it, and it was one of the best things I had done. Happy to have joined.
Except for a couple of skip years, it’s been fun and agony to write (almost) daily through the month. 26 posts, Sundays off.
It’s a challenge (the title says so) but, in my opinion, well worth it. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Essays, photos, recipes, critiques, How To…, etc. Whatever your blog is about, join in. Great way to discover other blogs, make friends (I have), and for others to find your blog. I’ve gained many followers through this.
Here’s the link: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/
Not sure what I’ll write about yet. I’ll figure it out.
If you join, please leave me a comment below with your blog link attached. You might gain some followers before the whole thing starts.
He was usually by my side. In his early days, we walked hand in hand. As our walks increased in step by step increments, he’d hold his arms way up high. Of course, I picked him up, carrying and mini snuggles. Other times he rode on my shoulders, clutching my hair. We became a Two-Headed Monster. We shared a gnarly growl; it always announced the monster’s arrival.
Yet, years pass as they dispassionately are prone to. From my side, hand-holding, carry snuggles, becoming a Monster were abandoned. We went on chases instead; more me chasing him. Then he’d chase after me, laughing so hard his head popped off his neck when I turned the table back to chasing him. When I was his prey, he always caught me. Once in a while, I would catch him.
We morphed into One less and less. We lost the “carry me,” and hand-holding didn’t exist. By this point in our lives, we also lost the Monster.
He never said “Goodbye” to either of us.
We ran the gauntlet most parents know. As he slalomed around me, his looking up to me would change to “I hate you!” to apologies and understandings, and back to volatile disagreements. In those cases, the slamming of his bedroom door was the coda that generally ended in “Arrrrggghhh!” from both sides of the door. There began the push away/pull me back times. From a protected, cared for son, a new monster, singular, appeared. He was striving to grow up, to be self-reliant. Independent.
Moments blipped passed us. We talked. We gave each other the Silent Treatment. Doing something fun together could quickly flip into parent shunning. I was waiting.
Waiting for things to even out, for our varying personalities to allow each other to breathe again when we were together. It happened with no rush to make it real. We had been on a strained thin rope, correcting our balances, expecting the other to fall.
I know there were times he did not like me. It might have bordered on hatred, but that remains in his secrets stash. It’s hard to say, but there were times I did not like him. Love, yes. I’ve always loved him.
Marriage happenings took over our lives. He committed himself to his bride, his mate, his best friend; my commitment dissolved around me, shredding into strips and then pieces. What was left was a tattered life. It all turned to ashes.
I’m proud of the man he has built for himself. He holds his strengths, his humor, his intelligence, and his weaknesses.
We are no longer a combined Two-Headed Monster, physically. There are those moments that sneak up on us, where our inner gnarly growling meshes. It may happen across the many miles that separate up. Face to face, the growl surfaces.
In those times I can shout out: “Beware. Beware! The Two-Headed Monster has arrived.”
It’s still alive.
In some ways, things stay the same.