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!  

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!”

 

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

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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.

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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! 

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