The Night We Saved the Moon

Art from

It was just past midnight when the moon fell from the sky.

It landed in the lake south of our barn and slowly began to sink below the surface. I saw it from my place at the window.

Lately I have been unable to sleep and lie in bed beside my husband until his breathing changes to soft snores.  Then I move to the chair beside the window from which I can study the night sky.

It seems to me the Universe surely has all the answers hidden somewhere.  All we need to do is to look in the right place, ask the right questions, and our little piece of the eternal puzzle will be revealed.

This farm and this life and this man are what I chose. Now I study the stars and wonder— is this all there is?

The life has become harder, the farm has struggled through crop failures and now flooding and the man…..well the man and I appear to have fallen out of love.  Or so it seems.

So I sit up at night and look to the sky for answers.

Although the rains have stopped much of the country around here is flooded.  Rivers have spilled over their banks and culverts and gulleys run with water.  Our lake has risen right up to the barn.

Tonight the muddy lake water has turned to a beautiful fiery gold.  It has gathered up the moons’ shine and multiplied it out from the center to reach as far as the water spreads.  It is so beautiful I sit and gaze at it for a long while before i notice that the moon is sinking.

I dress quickly, calling my husband’s name as I pull on jeans and a sweatshirt.  It takes him moments to wake but when he looks out the window he doesn’t question me, just begins to dress as fast as I.  Downstairs we yank on coats and pull our clean mud boots from the closet.  In minutes we are standing on the lake shore, wondering what to do.

As the night sky rotates towards dawn we try different solutions.  Pulling it with a rope does not work, in fact it causes it to tip and slip further beneath the surface.  After three failed attempts I turn to my husband and see the same feeling of despair written on his face.  This seems so important to us, so vital for us to do together.  There is no thought of calling others to help.

He drags our row-boat from the barn and throws the rope into it.  Together we push-off and sail to the middle of the lake where our moon waits patiently.  Together we use the rope to lift it easily into the boat .  Together we hold the moon up and maneuver back to safe ground.

When we roll the moon out of the boat it lifts gently up into the air and glides back into the night sky.  I find myself holding my husband’s hand and when he leans in for a kiss it is the best kiss we have ever shared. I melt into his arms and in the morning I’m still there, snuggled close beside him in our bed.

“What an odd and beautiful dream,” I think and wonder if that is why everything feels so much better this morning.

The love of my life is still sleeping when I tiptoe downstairs to start the coffee.

It will be hours before I notice the muddy boots dropped haphazardly by the door.

Solace Forthcoming

Homesickness - by René Magritte
Homesickness – by René Magritte

Where we love is home.  Although we might leave, our hearts do remain.  Sometimes they call us to return.

Michael stood on the bridge overlooking the river’s relentless flow into a golden sunset.  He could feel Mixael behind him but refused to turn.  The problem seemed simple enough to him – only one of them could go back.  Obviously it should be him.

The day was too warm for the heavy black suit he wore.  Little trickles of perspiration gathered around the base of his wings.  Although the four-foot wings were invisible to the human eye they felt like a drag on his back, anchoring him to the here and now in a way he had not felt before.  He sighed and squinted into the sun.  The whole world felt too heavy for the human body he wore.

He flexed his wings and waited for his feline companion’s argument.  It didn’t come.

“You know it should be me, Mixa,” he finally thought at the lion. The response he felt in return was like a huff of warm air in his brain, full of stinging bees.

“Don’t be like that,” he thought.  Lions don’t feel homesick. Additionally you know one of us must stay to see things through. You don’t need me for that, you can do it easily. In fact it is something you have accomplished in the past in your own bodacious, awesome, indomitable, sassy, valiant, lionhearted way!” he thought.

The stinging inside his head grew worse. Michael blinked and turned to face his partner.

“Alright, I’m sorry – I was just trying to inject a little levity into the situation,” he thought.

All at once his mind was filled with visions of a lush jungle teeming with beautiful animals and abundant plant life.  He was running through this bounteous landscape towards verdant plains and a sparkling waterhole.  Then suddenly a brilliant light dazzled and He appeared. Although the light was too overwhelming to see clearly it was simple to know it was Him; the love emanating from His presence felt like no other.  It was the same love Michael longed to feel again upon his return to Heaven and home.

“Oh!” he thought.  “I see.  You too.  Well this is a quandary then, isn’t it?”

The vision of the jungle faded into his companion’s view of the bridge and river.  It looked sad and lonely despite the lovely golden light.

“I know,” thought Michael.  “Me too.”

 

This was written as part of the latest writing challenge at Grammar Ghoul Press where the prompts were the word “bodacious” and the artwork by Magritte.  Click the badge above to see how other folks responded to the challenge!  

Casting Stones

Runes

My first memory is of crouching by the fire, watching my mother throw rune stones.  The woman who had come to see us kept her face covered but my mother called her by name as though she could see through cloth.  Perhaps she could.

I was fascinated by the runes and longed to feel them in my fingers but I knew to do so would be asking for punishment, swift and sure.  Once, and once only, I had touched those runes, gently taking the one which looked like a star  into my hand.

“Ior,” my mother said, carefully taking it from me.  Then she slapped me hard across the face.

“You do not ever touch my runes,” she said. “They are mine, they carry my energy and to defile them with yours is to put me in danger.  Do you understand?”

I stared at her silently, willing the tears away.  “I want to learn,” I said simply.   She narrowed her eyes and peered at me closely.

“Ior,” she said again.  “The water beast.  It represents the World Serpent  which circles the world at the bottom of the ocean.  The Serpent is a dangerous beast; when it moves it can cause the earth to shake and the waters of the ocean to drown the land, ” she said.

 “And yet, it is necessary, essential to the growth of crops, the cycle of birth and death, the entire continuation of the world.  Even if it could be destroyed the void which followed would be worse than the Serpent’s continuing existence.  What does that tell you?” she demanded.

I had not thought to be questioned and took a moment to ponder.

“That Ior has two natures, much like the beasts of the water who also walk on the land.”

There was a pause while my mother studied me.

“So wise for one so young,” she said. “Ior symbolizes the unavoidable hardships and problems with which we must learn to live so that our lives can be tolerable. When it appears it is a reminder that we should not worry about things we cannot change. Sometimes a loss can be transformed into something new.”

Many nights followed that first one as I sat at my mother’s knee while she taught me the art of reading the future.  I learned to predict when babies would arrive, how close an approaching raiding party might be and how many would die when they arrived.  I predicted storms, and crop failure, and marriages.  Many years went by and I became even better than she at reading the stones.

As her health failed I gradually took over her duties in the tribe.  Late one evening she called me to her bedside and asked that I  read for her.  I drew a circle on the dirt floor and cast the runes into it.

“What do they say?” she asked.

“Once more,” I said, and cast again.  Then again. And again.

When the Death rune continued to fall from my hand  I knew that she did not have much longer among us.

I did not see the rune for Transformation which fell behind it every time.

The rune stones did not show my fate on the night my mother died.  But when she rose from her death bead and took them away from me,  I read it in her eyes.

Celestial Mixing Bowl

Skeleton Leap by FrostFoto on Flickr
Skeleton Leap by FrostFoto on Flickr

The Day of the Dead was supposed to be a celebration.

However, it appeared that no one had informed the skeleton who was glaring at us from across the void of the empty graveyard. Its bones glittered in the silver moonlight as it raised an arm in warning.  Universal gesture: do not come any closer.

“Hey, it worked!” Toby said in astonishment.  “It’s walking….it’s um, alive?”

“How could llama blood and ancient herbs mixed inside a dog skull NOT work?” Lucy sneered.  “Who thought of that, anyway?”

“I did,” I said. “And I told you – anything would have worked as long as it was mixed inside a skull on this night in this place.  I just so happened to have the dog skull and llama blood….”

My friends exchanged a look.  The skeleton tipped its head with a questioning attitude then shrugged.

“Skulls have long been used by alchemists in their work of transmutation,” I continued. “That’s why you always see them in pictures.  The alchemist uses a skull as a sort of ‘mixing bowl’ when preparing something.  Skulls were thought of as reservoirs of life, the seat of the life force of both body and spirit at the highest level. ”

Our skeleton raised a hand to its head and tapped lightly on its temple with an index finger.

“See?” I asked.  “Even he agrees!”

“Well, let’s see if he wants to go dancing,” Toby said.

We all looked at our now animated friend in the moonlight.  The creature tottered forward on unsteady legs.  He didn’t look like much of a dancer.

“There’s a party…..” I told him tentatively.  “And I need a date.  A spectacular date.  I think it’s you. ”

He stepped closer and bent down to the ground behind a tombstone.  When he straightened he held a perfect blue flower.  With a tiny bow and a great waving of his arms he presented it to me.

“I think he said yes!” Toby said.  We all laughed and I tucked the flower behind my ear.  It went perfectly with my fairy costume.

The skeleton tapped me on the shoulder and  tentatively did a slide shuffle to the right and  then to the left.  He turned his head and looked at us with that charming  ironic smile. Then he broke into a tap dance time step, followed by a flawless line of boot scootin’ boogie and ending with the mashed potato.  I could practically hear Monster Mash playing inside his head.

“I think he’s good to go,” Lucy said and stepped forward to hand him the tuxedo we had brought along.

After he was dressed the four of us headed for the cemetery gates.

“This is going to be the best Day of the Dead party ever!” Toby exclaimed.

The skeleton twirled once or twice then grabbed me for a perfect tango pass.

I paused to adjust a top hat on his beautiful skull.  “I bet he wins the costume contest,” I said.

“Yeah, ”  Lucy agreed.  “Especially after he takes off the tuxedo!”

 

<img src=”http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/gg-wkbadge2.png”>

Head on over to Grammar Ghoul Press for the other fabulous stories in this writing challenge! 

gg-wkbadge-e1411321572196

Shadows Dire

Arthur Rackham - Comus Calling Shapes, Beckoning Shadows Dire
Arthur Rackham – Comus – Calling Shapes, Beckoning Shadows Dire

“Billy.”   It was barely a whisper.

“Billy…..” At least I thought I  heard a whisper.

“Psssst!  Billy!”  Maybe it was just the sound of the breeze through the leaves.

“Billy Boy! – over here!” the whisper said.  I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.

So I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

The trip into town had taken far longer than I thought it would.  Selling the cow was harder than I thought too. Finally the baker bought her and I was able to start back home.  We live on a small farm on the other side of the wood.  I had already missed dinner and it was growing darker by the minute.

“Billybillybillybillybillybilly!”

The trees seemed to be throwing their limbs around against the darkening sky, especially right above the path where I was walking.

“Biiilllllllllyyy,” The sound began to echo inside my head .  I walked faster.

“Pssssst!  Billy Boy! – over here!” the whisper murmured.  I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.  Only shadows.

So I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

Probably my Ma had saved supper, was keeping it warm under a nice clean napkin at the edge of the stove. The dog would be waiting for me and after supper I would read by the fire until it was time to climb into the warmth of my bed.

“Billy.”  “B-B-Billy?”   “Billy!”   “Billy Billy Billy.”   “B-Billy???”    “BillyBoy!!!”

Now it seemed there were more voices, more whispers.

The path appeared fainter, even by lantern light, and the trees were crowding closer.

“Psssst! Billy Boy! – over here!” the whispers coaxed. I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.  Only shadows, wavering in the golden glow from my lantern.    Skittering up the walls of the forest in strange writhing shapes.

So I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

Tomorrow I would take the money I earned from selling the cow and buy Widow Miller’s old wagon.  Then Ma and I would spend the day filling it with the extra from our summer garden, hitch up the plow horse and drive it all into town.  When we drove back home this time tomorrow night we would have supplies for winter and seed for spring.

“B…i…l…l…y.”  Was it my imagination or were the whispers becoming louder? “B…I…L…L…Y.”    “B I L L Y!!!”

There were crows in the trees now, a whole murder of them, crows everywhere.

Why did it seem they were watching me, following me, flitting from tree to tree overhead?

“Psssst! Billy Boy! – over here!” the whispers demanded. I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.  Only shadows, wavering in the golden glow from my lantern.    Skittering up the walls of the forest in strange writhing shapes; distorted shapes of horned men-like creatures beckoning to me, enticing me with their macabre dance.

But I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

A fork in the path ahead was barely visible along the edge of my circle of lantern light.  To the left, only a short distance away, lay our little farm, almost close enough for me to see the open front door with Ma watching for me.  The right-hand fork led deeper into the woods, into parts I had never explored before.   The crows seemed to be filling the branches above that path.

“Billy!”   “BILLY! BILLY!”   “B I L L Y…B I L L Y…B I L L Y !!!!!!”

The entire forest, all of the shapes, all of the crows,  were calling my name now.

“Psssst! Billy Boy! – over here!” the whispers harrowed. I couldn’t help but look.  I didn’t want to, I really didn’t.

But I had to.

I had to look.

I looked.

There was nothing.  Only that right hand path, covered now in beautiful shadow shapes, each of them calling my name and beckoning for me to join them.

So I kept on walking, going deeper into the wood.

gg-wkbadge-e1411321572196

Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press writing challenge #3 here: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-3/   Be sure to stop by and read all the fantastic stories! 

<img src=”http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/gg-wkbadge2.png”>

Rendezvous in Brooklyn

She looked deeply into his eyes.  He was seated across the table from her, a sputtering candle chaperoning between them.

“Is this your first time?” she asked kindly.

“How did you know?”

“You look nervous. ”

“I am.  I’ve never done this before.”

“It’s alright,” she said.  “It’s easy and I’m here to take care of you.”

“Thank you.  But I don’t need taking care of.”

“Oh, I know.  It’s just that –  the first time you don’t know what to expect.  And I’ve done this……well a lot.”

“You must think I’m so incredibly naive.”

“Not at all.  I think you are sweet.  It was kind of you to come at such short notice. ”

“No one ever asked before,” he said with a little embarrassed laugh.  “I guess I’m not very suited to this, this, er….performance?”

“Don’t be silly,” she said.  “You will be wonderful – I can tell.”

“So – what happens next?” he asked.

“Myra!” a strident voice interrupted them.  “What is he saying?  I know he’s here, you are obviously talking to someone!”

She turned to the rather large woman sitting to her right.  “He is asking what we want to know, Mrs. Hamilton.

“Well!” huffed the other woman.  “Clearly we want to know if he can contact my husband!  Is this personage a dolt?”

Myra cringed and shot a quick glance across the table to see if Charles was offended.  He sat calmly, hands folded in front of him.

“Can you hear her?” she whispered.

“No.  Is she talking?”

She tried not to allow the relief to show in her voice.   “She is asking if you can contact her husband.”

“And I am supposed to know her husband?  Because all dead people know all other dead people?” he said.

She couldn’t help laughing.  “I shall inquire.”

“Mrs. Hamilton it will help my Spirit Guide if you could tell us something about your husband,” she said.   The other woman smiled.

“Well, he was very handsome……and very successful……and left us all too soon,” she murmured.   “Also I’d like to know where he left the will?  His children – my step-children – are going to contest my ability to inherit anything and it would be such a help if Ernest could just let me know where the will is.  He promised me I would inherit everything, you see.”

“She wants to know where Ernest left the will.”

“Ernest?” Charles asked.  “Ernest have a last name?”

“Hamilton.”

“Ernest Hamilton.  I’ll just ring him up, shall I?”

“Look, Charles,  I don’t know how to tell you to find….”

“The will was never written.” Charles intoned in his best sonorous voice.

“What?”

“He never wrote a will.  He lied to her.”

“How do you know?”

“Trust me.  I know.  Tell her.”

“There is no will, Mrs. Hamilton.  Apparently your husband made that up.”

“I KNEW IT!” the other woman shreiked. “BASTARD!”

A long silence settled on the room.

“How we doing so far?” Charles asked

“Ummmm, good, really good.  You’re a natural at this.”

 

Seance circa 1920's
Seance circa 1920’s – if Poe and Lovecraft attended…….

 

 <ahref=”http://yeahwrite.me/fiction-poetry-writing-challenge-183/”><imgsrc=”http: yeahwrite.me=”” wp-content=”” uploads=”” 2014=”” 10=”” fiction183.png”=””>

Written for the Yeah Write fiction challenge number 183 .  Go to Yeah Write Fiction/Poetry to read all the other awesome entries!

 

 

Yeah Write Editor's Pick 183

Yeah Write 183

Blood Moon

Velasquez
Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X

A murder of crows swooped across the face of the moon.  There were seven of them winging together which was unusual – but it was an unusual night.  Their shadows flickered through the forest below, briefly touching on the shape-shifter before disappearing into darkness.

In the orange moonlight the shape-shifter considered his options.  A wolve’s four legs would carry him to the palace faster.  But once arrived he would have to return to human form in order to gain entry.  And lately that was becoming more and more difficult.  He feared becoming trapped in animal form when his advancing age finally caught up to the enchantment and he could no longer change at will.

With a sigh he began the long walk in human form.  His feet hurt, his knees ached and there seemed to be a new catch in his breath. This was sport for a younger man. But how he loved it!

After an hour’s walk through the night he came upon the Papal Palace. It glittered in the moonlight from atop a steep hill.  The thought of climbing that cliff wearied him further and he sat for a moment at the edge of a pond and considered changing his mind.

It was a cruel joke and the damn fool deserved it.  “Ye reap what ye sow,” his granny always said and this Pope deserved every bit of the reaping.  But the damned hill was so high and it had been an exhausting walk through the forest. He hated getting old.

Finally he gave in and decided on a cat.  A sleek, thin, muscular cat which could spring up the hill without exertion, that could slip in and out of the hollows of shortcuts and if he was lucky even slip through the gates and around the guards before he had to change back.  The familiar tingling began in his ears and worked its way rapidly from side to side to meet in the middle and course through his body.  He watched the world grow larger as his body mass shrank in size.  A glance in the pond showed him, not the sleek muscular feline of his dreams,  but a rangy old tom cat with torn ears and matted fur.  He grinned.  It was an apt transformation – and he felt stronger now.

The hill was nothing to his four legs and the bars of the south gate were wide enough to slip through easily.  Inside the palace he ran directly to the Papal Throne Room and stopped before the ornate floor length mirror.  As the familiar tingling took over his body he watched his image transform into that of the Pope, robed officially for greeting important guests.  He moved to the inner door which led into the Pope’s private quarters and threw the bolt to lock it securely.  Then he took a seat on the Papal Throne.

Someone tried the inner door and began pounding  on it when they found it locked. The Pope’s personal body servant scrambled into the room from the public antechamber, frantic with haste and frightened out of his mind.  “They have arrived for the secret audience” he said.  “What have you done?” he screamed.  “Run! They have arrived!”

The doors of the audience chamber burst open and every imaginable creature from hell poured into the room.  It took only seconds for them to tear the servant’s body into thousands of bits.  Some used their teeth. Their stench was enormous, the air shimmered with heat and the ungodly sounds of endless suffering which accompanied them.  They surged forward towards the throne but none dared to touch him yet.

A voice from the demon crowd called out “Cower, god-lover!  You  have been judged and deemed wanting.  Now is the time of settlement.”

The shape-shifter felt the blood drain from his face as he realized his horrible mistake.  This was not the secret audience he was expecting.  Where were the politicians come to curry favor?

He  attempted  to rise but found that he could not move from the throne.  As the demons slowly advanced  he shifted his shape and shifted again but his body remained the same.  His worst nightmare had come to fruition – he was stuck.

And the demons wanted far more than he could have ever imagined. He began to scream as they drew closer and closer still.  He screamed and screamed again.

It’s likely he screamed for all eternity.

 

gg-wkbadge-e1411321572196

<a href=”http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-2-open“><img src=”http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/gg-wkbadge.png“></a>

 

 This was written in response to the challenge over at Grammar Ghoul where you can find many other fabulous stories.  Take a look!