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When I Was A Child

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WHEN I WAS A CHILD

©Stuart Nager/Chris Carbone

Lyrics: Stuart Nager
Music: Chris Carbone/Stuart Nager
Grinn Singers: Kerrigan Webb Sullivan
Melissa Jones
Chris Carbone
Stuart Nager

When I was a child
Things were just so wild
It was you and me
We were really free
Always on the run
Always having fun
When I was a child

I remember things so clearly
Growing up as I did
My friends and I played daily
At nighttime, we hid

Our minds went exploring
With every book we read
The page/s were like lightning
Imaginations, fully fed

When I was a child
Things were just so wild
It was you and me
We were really free
Always on the run
Always having fun
When I was a child

And in our dreams we’d tumble
Exploring new-found shores
Filling our nights with treasure
By opening up new doors

When I look upon it now
A smile will find my face
I’ll never be alone
Memories, a saving grace

When I was a child
Things were just so wild
It was you and me
We were really free
Always on the run
Always having fun
When I was a child

It was you and me
We were really free
When I was a child

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

Author’s Note:

In the winter of December 1997/January 1998, we had plenty of Improv song structures/skeletons. Any show we performed one of them at, the lyrics happened on the spot. It was fun, scary, risky, challenging, and FUN. The Brothers Grinn (and Sisters) went into a studio and recorded our one and only cassette. Yes. Cassette. At the time, CDs were new and three times the price. So, Cassettes.

When I Was A Child is the only song on that cassette that was never sung in a show. I wrote it, had the basic melody in my head, and I asked Chris (Music Director and close friend) to help translate my humming/mumbling into music that made sense. Most, if not all, of the Grinns liked the song. Recording was a drag, but the final product was worth the effort. 

The Brothers Grinn©, an Interactive Improvisational Storytelling Troupe, lasted from October 1994 to December 2006.

The lyrics above have gone unsung since. That is a shame. 

Music is eternal.

I hope you enjoy this

Take Love: Sonnet & Tanka

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TAKE LOVE: Sonnet

Unfilled to the deepest depths, ardor fails
Pushing love away, Pulls love back again
Games you play, yet I come, no magic, stale
Enchant me with ardor not constant pain.
 
See a Bee searching for pollen to thrive
Deterred of flower's unopened petals
Across barren fields, darting to survive
Sharp blade edged, pierced deeply among nettles.

Yet, still, betrayed by the memories shared 
Raptured embraces, hands entwined, we run
Kisses, smiles, our bed, enticed feelings bared
Blind to the vanishing you, soon undone.

Stagnant, I, bereft of your caring grace
The Bee wanders, black void drops into place.


TAKE LOVE: Tanka

Disdain withers love,

No give, only take;  heart speared

Putrefaction

Trampled flowers, compost tossed

Paths of dirt leading nowhere.

 

 

HELEDAVAR WAS MIFFED

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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.

The Dingo Ate My Awe

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Dingo

THE DINGO ATE MY AWE

Lindy wailed heartache.

It was relentless, staining the air around the five of us. A friend had called into AFP dispatch, and me mates and I took the plunge. Dust was everywhere until it turned to gravel, and then rocks of increasing dimensions. An hour before dusk, we arrived at the hysterics. Even through closed windows, Lindy’s banshee keening shook me teeth. Brutal.

Her hubs, Michael, took me to the demolished campsite. We lifted the tent together, dripping from the bloody heat. Told Michael we were now sweat brothers. I laughed at me own stupid joke.  Stopped real quick; the poor sod was dripping tears and snot. “There, there” did not seem appropriate. I dug in me pocket, found the wad of Kleenex the Mrs. always shoved in my pants pocket after pressing. I tossed it to him. He wasn’t ready.

The wind had been picking up; Rod said it smelled of rain when we first got here. Just what we bloody needed. The dry chinook rolled around us. The wad of Kleenex gave up five to the wind. They flew around us like a cat burying shit. A strong gust and the rest joined their brethren. Gymnastics, in white.  It was like that bloody scene in that bloody boring movie. The one they spent so much time filming a plastic bag spinning. Bloody Drongo director.

Tent up, the blood was in little puddles around the floor. Sticky. Bedsheets, what was an onesie, all in shreds. I took pictures, asked me questions, the big one went unanswered: “why weren’t either bleeding one of you with the babe?” Now, I know many think coppers are all galah. Hell, many of them do have their heads up their arses. Mikey just hung his head, shook it around, and stayed quiet. No resistance as I cuffed him. Good. We walked back to the others.

Rod and Franny put both of them in the back of the wagon. Lindy was sobbing a creek, her hands equally cuffed. Michael turned his head away from her. Never said a word to her. He didn’t yell, didn’t plead, nothing. His silence was death; she roared out the Death Kneel.

I closed Michael’s door, making double sure he was locked tight. Franny had tried to talk the mum down. No luck. Fran locked the door, cutting the volume in half. I was getting the start of a headache. Didn’t need that at all with the long drive back.

The three of us moved away from them. We had a talk and a drag. Not Rod. Not a smoker, but can he put down the pints. We shared what info we had, scribbled note sunder the growing night; the sun began to fade away. Time to get back to the car and get out of here.

Typical sounds of central Oz pushed us along. I was more than ready to get home.

“A dingo? Really? A bloody dingo?” I could not believe this, shaking my head. “We got a ripe one,” I told the two.  “Dingos were vicious fucks, but…”

“Oi, where the hell did those growls come from?” Rod uttered. Last thing he ever said.

Three beasts ran toward him, lunging as one. Dingos. Bloody huge fucking Dingos. They ripped him apart. Legs. Chest. Head.  Only an instant. The hot blood flew everywhere. My mouth was hanging open, brain fritzing as I pulled out my handgun.

Franny screeched, wanting to help Rod, wanting to run. She did the Cha Cha of indecision, bolstered by the horror of it all.  She had enough to go for her handgun, but she fumbled it. Just as she bent to get her gun, I saw what was coming behind her. I started to warn Fran.

Too late. Words were taken by the massacre.

I fired at the two monsters who took Franny down. My gun was essentially useless. Their massive sizes. Tigers in Dingo attire. There was nothing I could do. I ran to the car.

As I got closer, I noticed both Michael and Lindy. They were staring at me with bulging eyes, their mouths moving in overdrive. Lindy looked off to the right side of me. Her throat cords straining to break free. Looking over my shoulder, one of the five, or maybe this was a visiting cousin who was late to the party, was lopping at its dinner. Me. I saw it coming; it leaped.

And I dropped to the dirt. Rolling on my back, I fired the rest of my gun as the Dinger went flying over. First one went through the bottom of its jaw. The rest went into beast’s underside.

It screeched as fell, the earth taking its own bite out of the beast.

I dashed for the car.

Now, I almost fumbled the car keys like Franny did with her gun. Almost. I dove in, starting her up, put it into gear, and floored the peddle. One beastie came at me head-on. I downshifted, speeding for his ugly snout. It was bumpy for a sec, but I hit him hard enough. He spun away. Didn’t look to see if he bit the dust or not. “HaH!” I laughed at myself again.

Next moment we got tag teamed, ramming into the back right. The door bent in a bit from one; the window cracked into a mosaic but held. Michael was the one caterwauling now. Lindy was out. Blood streaks on her side, her head lolled.

Nothing I could except ram my foot so hard on the gas pedal. The pistons had to keep up with me.

They weren’t chasing us. Not after the two head-butted the car. The radio still worked. I just needed time to stop hyperventilating. And calm the jackhammer ruling my heart. Finally did. Gave the short version just before I was purged of any ounce of adrenaline.

The AFP had the location. They called in the big yahoos to take care of the demon Dingos. Good luck to them. All I wanted was to drop the two in the back off, give a thorough but quick retelling, and beat a hasty retreat home. I could do the paperwork at home. My say so. Chief took it ok. She wanted to send me to the med, but I declined. Pretty firmly, too.

When I got home my wife took one look at me and came in for a hug before I closed the front door. She wouldn’t let me go. I didn’t want to be let go. My aroma broke the spell. She shooed me upstairs for a cleanup. Fresh clothing waited on our bed, everything warm from a pressing.

Feeling somewhat proper, I went down to kiss that woman with all I had. Two steps before the bottom, I felt something in my pants pocket. I patted the wad under the fabric and hit the floor landing for that kiss.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

Author’s Note:

I organized a new Writers Group: DAYDREAMERS WRITE!: Prompts & Challenges.

  • It runs every Saturday morning from 10:00 am to Noon, EST. 
  •      No matter the level a writer you think you are, all are welcome. 

The two hours are split:

  1. 10 to 11 is the first prompt.

  2. At Eleven: Another prompt WITH a challenge. It changes every week. 

  3. Both Sessions: 25 mins to write;  30-35 mins for Sharing & feedback

Most likely this group will remain in the Virtual World Community. 

Click on the above link if you would like to join in. Everyone is welcome. 

Stu

The above story was from a prompt: The _____ ate my ______

I used an Animal Generator for the first blank; A different one that gave me Awe.

 

RUN!

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RUN

© Vlad Gedroics

RUN!

SHE SAID RUN!

Shaking her head

Still,

SHE SAID RUN!

Her masking smile appeared

Magnitudinal weight dragging

As she

Felt her threads snarl and unravel

SHE THOUGHT RUN!

Tasting it.

Nibbling her way through

Dancing circles around

What

Gripped her and held.

SHE RUMINATED RUN!

Expanded

Drew in

Attempts

Withdrew

She

Escaped

SHE YELLED RUN!

 Keeping the pressure

Stoked inside

Flowing past self-built walls

Ripping away constraints

SHE YELLED RUN!

Running

Forward

Running

Freely

Running

Powerfully

Running

Until

She no longer had to.

She sings RUN!

As she

Passes the baton along.

 

⊇⊆ ⊇⊆ ⊇⊆ ⊇ ⊆ ⊇⊇⊆

Author’s Note:

I organized a new Writers Group: DAYDREAMERS WRITE!: Prompts & Challenges.

It runs every Saturday morning from 10:00 am to Noon, EST. 

No matter the level a writer you think you are, all are welcome. 

The two hours are split:

  1. 10 to 11 is the first prompt.

  2. At Noon: Another prompt WITH a challenge. It changes every week. 

  3. Both Sessions: 25 mins to write;  30-35 mins for Sharing & feedback

The above poem was the first prompt on Saturday, August 8, 2020

Most likely this group will remain in the Virtual World Community. 

Click on the above link if you would like to join in. Everyone is welcome. 

Stu

She Looked Familiar: Daydreamers Write! Prompt & Challenge

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SHE LOOKED FAMILIAR

Daydreamers Write! Prompt & Challenges

(1) “I thought you were dead!” is the prompt. The challenge: 50 Words in total. The prompt must appear within the 50 words. 

I entered the B&W Art Gallery. Two steps; I noticed her. Obscured by multi-colored winter wear, her eyes!! She looked familiar. Fixated on a large white canvas with a “?” centered, she turned as I neared. We both gasped: “I thought you were dead!” We fell into each other’s arms.

Question_mark_(black_on_white)

(2) Bonus Challenge: Another 50 words, same prompt, but from a different POV. SHE LOOKED FAMILIAR. 

Just too damned cold! Should’ve taken a cab. An Art Gallery? YES! The heat of the room wrapped around me. Mmmmm. Should look around.
Huh? Why would anyone paint a “?”? Weird. Someone approached me. She looked familiar. OMG! “I thought you were dead!” We fell into each other’s arms.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔

 

 

Author’s Note: I am the organizer/host of DAYDREAMERS WRITE!: Prompts & Challenges.

It runs every Saturday morning from 10:00 am to Noon, EST. 

No matter the level a writer you think you are, all are welcome. 

The two hours are split:

  1. 10 to 11 is the first prompt.

    1. I will  post it on Monday, 8/10

  2. At Noon: Another prompt WITH a challenge. It changes every week. 

  3. Both Sessions: 25 mins to write;  30-35 mins for Sharing & feedback

The two 50 word pieces above, “She looked familiar” appeared as the group’s Challenge Round on August 8, 2020. 

Most likely this will remain in the Virtual World Community. 

Click on the above link if you would like to join in. Everyone is welcome. 

Stu

HUZZAH!

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Amanda-Palmer_Photo-By-Kahn-and-Selesnick_1

Amanda Palmer © Photo-By-Kahn-and-Selesnick_1

HUZZAH!

by Stuart H. Nager ©

What is unknown appears known; of this, I am uncertain. Perchance beguiled, for last I knew I was there but, alas, here I be. This path through trees lacks familiarity, copses gnarled but tidy. A hedge I found to assist my invisibility, a vantage point to confuse me further.

So many passed by, speaking in words yet understood. I scent of fresh hops filled the air, roasted meats, and the stale sweat produced by the heat of the day. This was familiar, but the rest? Skin hues, the variances of body types, the way they laughed, swore, or what I took as such, were a jumble only experienced in the largest of gathering towns and cities.

Swords! In the distance, a clang of swords. Blade upon blade, the shrieking of steel. Cheers, mirth, sad wails erupt from that direction. As one, what I glean to be a crowd, yells, “Huzzah. Huzzah. Huzzah!”

I am undone.

My feet lead me away from the hedge, into the ebullient throngs. My spirits lift somewhat, having spirited away a mug of foul ale. Yet, I quaff to a drop as the mug refills. Foul but fair, I merrily wander to explore my thoughts and this strange happenstance.

The lasses are comely; the lads as well. Their states of modesty thrown to the wind. Music is precise. I join in the dances encountered, elevating the pleasures of all who participate. Some of the cavorting was of my accord. More of the repellant beer made its way into my hands and down my gullet. I skip off to find what I shall find. A need for the small forest calls.

Ho! A pair of churlish ruffians. Drunk, their lazy attempts to lay hands upon a lass are buffeted away. Yet still, they take no heed. She, red-headed and fair, yells with no results for assistance. Ah, this language is beginning to open. Help she will have. Swifter than an arrow, I am beside her.

Drolly, I smite the louts with my sharpened wit, enough so that their desires for the pretty turn to anger towards myself. I lead them on a merry chase, up and down, forward and back, until the befuddled duo collapse into heaps. Thanking them for this escapade, I return to the lasses.

She of red hair awaited my return, mischief in her eyes that complimented my own. She takes my hand as we become unseen behind a large oak. Their language is becoming more explicit still.

“Huzzah!” fills the air throughout.

~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~

Sunlight is fading, and I still find myself here. Megan of the red hair has left, alas, alas, alas, with friends dragging her away. She made a promise. Surprisingly, I gave one in return. Yet, the day has passed, more sweet beer drowning melancholy away.

Something has been pulling me throughout the day, drawing me further. Except for my Lord, I am nobody’s plaything. It was easy to turn this away with the ethereal emissions of the masses. Now, so few remain. This “Ren Faire,” as Megan related, closed down at true nightfall.

I give in to the call.

I have reached a series of small but fierce pavilions. Each draped with runes, gemstones, carvings, feathers, and lace, enveloped in candle glow. I walk down the lane, peering into each. Women, swathed in rich earth tones, turn their heads away as I come upon them. Except, this one ahead.

She is waiting for me, knowledge in her eyes.

I know her as well.

“Sprite,” she warbles, her withered countenance neither friend nor foe.

“Crone,” adding a shallow bow to her presence.

“Inside.” She hesitates. “Please.”

I follow. She deigns to sit on a wooden stool while I stand, examining her craft. The damask cloth covering her centerpiece table is of the highest quality, the colors swirling as they lay in place. I would say hypnotic, laying down such schemes myself.

“He was angry with you. Anger festered for a long while. The King almost commenced a Wild Hunt. My Mistress lured him to her bower. No Wild Hunt was issued. It was she who moved you here.”

“I see,” thank you, My Queen, for this gift. “I still owe him my fealty.”

“No, you do not. The King has withdrawn any compulsion over you. Residing as far away, and as long, as the Queen and King have, He has no need of you. Anymore.”

This news. I never wished for it. Yet, I surprise even myself at times.

I glowed inside. It felt. Good.

“What will you do now, Robin?

The question was an excellent one. For the first time, I feel befuddled.

“I do not” was left unfinished. There was a tap on the pavilion frame behind me. I turned.

A vision appears before me. Be still, my aching.

What a glorious smile. She holds out her hand. Our eyes meet. Our hands join as one. Megan leads me away from the pavilion.

I hear the crone: “Mistress, what fool this Puck be!”

Could she not stay quiet?

Her cackles followed us as we left the faire.

Together.

Huzzah!

! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

This week, Shut Up & Write offered their monthly five-day challenge with the Prompt Theme of

Through a Stranger’s Eyes

Each day’s prompt was to give your character’s POV through their very first time at a specific place, meeting another, etc. No length restrictions. Any style of writing. Any genre.

I took on the challenge, even with the growing number of projects that I am involved with. If you’d like to read the five in order:

August 3rd:    First Impressions: Planet Earth    a twinkling defense

August 4th:    Holiday Study: Trick or Treat        Samhain

August 5th:    Extreme Sports                                 Lemmings to Slaughter

August 6th:    Modern Exercise                               Level

August 7th:     Big Events: Ren Faire                       Huzzah! (above)

 

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME

 

Level

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Level

Level by Stuart Nager©

 

Overload.

Reroute.

Rebooting.

******offline******

Restart. Automatic.

Now.

Aware.

No visuals.

Reroute. Send.

Audio. Incoming.

Metallic. Clanging

Human. Words

Human. Grunts.

Song

Hey ya! Hey ya!
Hey ya! Hey ya!
Hey ya! Hey ya!
Hey ya! H

Audio. Off.

Code. VB.

Active.

Contact.

Humans. Legs: Movement. Moving track. Damage track.

Humans. Arms: Push. Pull. Mechanical. Scraping. Abuse.

Humans. Deformed: Arms. Legs. Chests. Tuchas.

Humans. Sweating. Severe. Mechanical; Overload.

Humans.

Humans.

Humans.

Extend. Voltage regulator.

Level: 42

Mechanical. Screaming.

Humans. Deceased.

Ticking. Machines. Cooling.

Cool.

Online.

Appreciations.

Suction: On

Mode: Deep clean.

Automatic.

 

 

Lemmings to Slaughter

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Trolls Tongue

Lemmings to Slaughter

©Stuart Nager 8/5/20

 

I watched a woman dive off of a cliff.

The four others who had ascended with her ran to the edge of the outcropping. At first, I thought they would all follow her as a group, a splice of Lemmings following the herd. They did run helter-skelter after, yet they all stopped abruptly at the edge. Parts of The Trolls Tongue ledge were disturbed by their mad dash forward. Broken off pieces of rock following in her stead as they laughed and high fived each other.

Two went prone, cellphones at hand, in what I assumed was to record the woman’s rapid descent. The other two had packs already on their backs, each checking the other.

I noticed all of their movements for a brief moment: a fraction, really. I took them in more out of the corner of my eye. I lost total interest as I watched the jumper descend.

She was swimming through the air. The flips were followed by a turn to the west. Then east. A series of air pocket climbs allowed her to somersault, pushing her up on the currents. The spirals she performed were breathtaking. Her control was magnificent. The whining pitch of her aerials signaled her falling speed increase.

Spreading her body out, she pulled something. I could see the movement, but she was too far away, even for me, to see clearly.

The pack upon her back burst open. A snarl of colors leaped out and up. As it unfurled, I muttered an involuntary “ah” as I understood. A parachute. Multi-colored as it snapped into shape, drawing her once more upwards. The four yelled, laughed, and hooted at this point. I didn’t turn to look. It was enough to hear them squawk akin to Snowy Owls.

I imagined her laughing along as she heavily floated to the Fjord below. Her heart beating fiercely, blood coursing through her body at high speed. I envied her, that joy, that freedom, that overtaking of fear. Sensations that I have been divorced from for far too long.

A new shout from the four sought my attention and grabbed it. Only the two lying prone were still there. The others were off, doing their “death-defying” acrobats. I watched it for only a moment. Individually, they were nowhere near as graceful as their friend was. They made up for it a bit, and they maneuvered around and with each other. It wasn’t enough. I lost interest in the last hooting I heard from them.

I’d been alone on The Tongue for an eternity. Initially, I climbed this peak after the deaths of my family, trying to escape their death howls. They were silenced in turn as I fled. Ashamed, I traveled on. Climbing, ever climbing. When I first beheld this outcropping, my turmoil of thoughts leveled out. The gods were with me. An excellent place to die, I thought and felt. I had been alone for so long. It was good at that point to die alone.

Yet, when I reached the edge of the outcropping, ready to cross that flimsy border of safety, I found I was unable to move any closer. The dizzying height, the frigid air, the snow that had followed me as I trod on. Frozen in heart and mind, I was buffeted in indecision that lasted through the freezing night.

Just as the morning sun began its rise, my knees and lower legs wobbled. I grew unsteady, leaning precariously in the direction I needed to go. Wanted so desperately to go. A strong upwind slapped me in the face, sending me back instead of forwards.

I sprawled on the outcrop through the light of the day. Movement was beyond me. I tried, failing every attempt. As the day dwindled away, I let the darkness envelop me in whole. All the pride I still had fled, my resolve punctured. Emotions were stripped away in one swoop. I was unmade.

The night sky was brilliant when I finally opened my eyes anew.

“I am not worthy of joining you. I see that now. I can wait. I can still remember.”

Hunger growls drew me out of the remembrance. Loud, but not loud enough to rouse the two left behind. My steps towards them were but feathers.

Upon The Trolls Tongue, I feasted well.

May those who come searching for them travel with speed.

 

 

 

Samhain

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Samhain

by Stuart Nager, 8/4/20 ©

Macha opened eyes that were not hers.

She found herself walking. Surrounded by a small grouping of Cailes, eight in number. All were of strange dress, some masked, others showing painted skin, akin to animals she had only heard of. They chattered, giggled, hugged one another, ran, and chased. Five were on the verge of womanhood; three already had crossed that threshold. The body she wore was one of those three.

Yelling far ahead startled her, but for a moment, for it quickly turned to wild laughter. Macha the Virago, a warrior woman of deed, wife of dead king Nemed, held tight. These were the young of this land. These were not the noise of battle, cries of the Formorians advancing on her people with slaughter on their lips. This was not the call of her people to fight. They were not the sounds of their death throes. Those sounds invaded the soul and heart of the Caile she rode. As was her death. Macha was on the last of three intonations when the Formor sent a spear through her breast. Her body lay on bloodied dirt as the last word touched her lips.

Macha stopped.

Her breath, her heart, her body; nothing overtly stirred as her insides tugged at the container that she had invaded. A soft hand was placed on her shoulder. Looking over, this was a raven-haired Caile, whose eyes took her in. She spoke, whispered a name-twice-as Macha realized that was this Calile’s name.

“Dana,” she paused. “Dana!” Their eyes met. “Are you ok? You just stopped. Dana. Hey. Knock knock. Hello? You were the one who wanted to go trick or treating. Hey, are you ok?”

Macha caught every speeding word that…Ali. Ali churned out. Dana/Macha nodded her head. Her answer-Dana’s answer-staggered out of their shared mouth.

“I am. I’m. I’m fine, Ali.” Macha added a smile to Dana’s face. Ali’s face relaxed at hearing this, and her bunched in shoulders opened.

Macha winced as Ali threw her arms around her torso, pinning her arms. Her hands clawed in response, an intonation traveled from mind to lips. It stopped there, claws became hands, and Dana accepted the hug. She returned it.

“Hey. Go find a room,” the tall redhead called out as she walked towards the two. Jill. “C’mon. Halloween is here, babe. Let’s get some of the goodies!”

The word meant nothing to Macha as Jill and Ali linked arms with her, dragging her along. The three caught up with the others. Halloween. Dana was no help here as she was eating something delightful.

Macha looked up at the darkening skies as Dana chewed. She continued to be swept along from door to door, filling up the bag Dana had brought with her. As night truly arrived, all the girls started singing, walking to Jill’s house for the night. Dana didn’t know the words to a monster mash, so she stayed back a few steps from the others. Ali remained at her side, singing.

Macha took another look up to the stars. Her eyes twinkled. The smile on Dana was Macha’s. Ali took Dana’s hands, dancing around in a circle. They both would up laughing on the lawn outside of Jill’s home. Dana, then Ali, laid prone, heads almost touching, and stared at the stars.

Dana pointed to a group of stars that were still on the rise.

“The Seven Sisters.”

“What?”

“There. There, Ali, look. At the highest point. The grouping of stars. The Seven Sisters!”

Ali looked to where her best friend pointed, but couldn’t tell one star from another. She was just glad that Dana sounded like Dana again. Ali rolled over onto her side so she could look at Dana.

Macha didn’t notice. The Seven Sisters held her in their embrace.

“Samhain. All hallows eve. The dead shall rise. Halloween.”

Ali was asleep beside her. Macha shed tears, finding herself at the center of her life, in a world she would have to learn.

What better time of year to awaken. Macha the Virago: warrior woman; attle fury; The Phantom Queen. Macha died but has returned.

Woe to the ancestors of the Formorians.

Macha has returned.