The Boy, the Zany, and the Heart

The Boy and his Father got off the grey train, onto the grey platform. As they left the grey station, a Zany whirred past them on a unicycle, scattering his feelings behind him as he went. He wore a crazy multi-coloured suit, and whistled as he passed them by.

The Father frowned, and adjusted the sleeves on his grey jacket.

“You don’t want to show your feelings off like that”, he said. “It’s far too dangerous. Anything could happen”.

And he led the Boy home

On his next birthday, the boy was given a grey metal box.

“It’s for your heart”, his Father told him. “Pop it in here, and I’ll lock it up safely for you. I’ll take care of the key for you. You can have it any time you want”.

From time to time, the Boy would pick up the box. He could feel the warmth of his heart through the metal, and if he put the box to his ear he culd hear a steady “lub-dub, lub-dub” of heartbeat.

But somehow, he never asked for the key, and as the weeks and months passed he picked up th box less and less often, and in the end it stayed on its shelf, gathering dust.

Years passed, and the Boy became a man. He had a grey suit, like his Father’s, and he went off to live in the Big City. He worked hard, and reaped the rewards. He was wealthy and successful.

At first he visited his home town often, but gradually these visits became less frequent, until one morning he woke up and realised it had been 3 years since he visited. He was a decisive man. He immediately booked a train ticket home.

When he left the grey station in the small grey town, he was amazed to see a Zany whirring toward him on a unicycle. He closed his eyes for a moment, remembering being a little boy again.

When he opened them, he realised with shock that the Zany pedalling madly towards him was his father – laughing and crying at the same tine, scattering his feelings around him like confetti.

His Father shouted something to him as he passed, but the Boy didn’t catch what he said. He did catch the ball of paper his Father threw to him, though.

For a few seconds he watched his Father cycling away, and then turned his attention to the paper in his hands. He opened it out, and smoothed it down, and looked at what it contained.

In his hands he held a picture of a heart, floating free, and a small, grey key.

9ab0d2c44c348cd8cc1cbc7a6c658de6--jocker-house-of-cards

Image by Caras Ionut.

Challenge by Mindlovemisery’s menagerie.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A sense of self – for MLM’s Menagerie

I remember being left behind, because they were always doing that. Turning back and giggling, faces close, dressed the same, as if they had some codeword.

Maybe they did.

I sometimes tried to follow them, but they would run ahead, until all I could hear was their laughter. Then I’d pretend I’d just gone into the woods to gather berries, or leaves. I’d pretend I didn’t care.

I pretended so hard, for so long, that I lost track of what I cared about. I was like a locked book, key lost in the forest.

A quick flash of fiction for a wet Sunday and Mindlovemisery…

lookthru22

Magic – for dVerse

The old magic
carried the scent of herbs,
and blood,
and woodsmoke. It furled
pale fingers round
distant hearts, coiled
its shimmering length
round lovers, twined
breath and death, into
slow darkness.

This new magic
shines and glistens,
pings and tings,
snaps. It moves fast,
flickering
electric sparks,
fizzing blue lights –
it slings itself
around the globe,
whirring into space.

We gaze, jaw-dropped,
reaching out our monkey paws,
touching the shiny,
discarding that old
smell haunted stuff,
that lizard brain stuff,
that visceral, polysensual stuff,
stretching our brains
into new conformations,
feeding our eyes

and yet, that old magic
lingers, in a whiff of
leafmould, mouth-scent
of rose, that waft of something
that takes you back
to your mother’s mirror,
a kitchen somewhere.

We are earth
water fire
air
we are electric
we are atomic
we are the magic.

 

For Paul Scribbles, at dVerse, who is asking for something magical tonight…

Between the seasons – haibun for dVerse.

We came home from Italy – all umbers and terracottas, blazing blue skies and sunshine – to a faded watercolour England. We wake with the scent of autumn in the air, but by lunchtime it’s summer again. We’re picking the first of the apples, but still cooking with courgettes, and beans – a green and purple abundance. There were swallows on the telegraph lines last night, starting to gather together, but today they were flying in a summer sky. This afternoon we saw the first starling murmuration of autumn. The crabapples are vermilion, but there are scarlet wild strawberries in the flower bed. Here and there, autumn is sprinkling reds and golds, but when I reach to pick an apple, the leaves on this tree are all green, dark, casting their individual shadows.

birds call the seasons –
apples fall for drunken wasps –
golden lantern moons

 

A haibun for Toni at dVerse. We are asked to write about this time between the seasons. I love autumn, but I’m not quite ready to leave summer yet – not that I have a choice about it.

 

Who Stole the Tarts?

I know who stole the tarts
because I saw her – jam-smeared
mouth, red as a raspberry,
and fingers all sticky –
I saw her slipping out
into the garden, crumbs
trailing her.

I know who stole the tarts
because I met her
by the sundial,
where the roses
sun themselves,
all red and white,
and she smelt of sugar

and she was smiling.

The lost wings

This is a story my granny told me. She heard it from Maggie Molloy, who lived down by the pier, and where she heard it from I don’t know.

Many years ago, there was a master glass blower, who had been away to study his trade, and now was coming back to see his old mother, and set up a workshop here on the island. He’d travelled far and wide, and it was time to settle down. The ferry brought him late one evening. The moon was full, and the night was bright, and he decided to walk round by the shore for old time’s sake. He passed a group of young folk, splashing and swimming in the water, and they called to him to join them, but he laughed and shook his head and walked on. A little further on, he came upon a little heap of things he took for glass. He picked one up and looked at it closely. He’d never seen anything finer, and the craftsman in him was delighted with it. They didn’t seem to belong to anyone: tiny wings made of fragile glass that shimmered in the moonlight. He couldn’t resist one particularly pretty pair, and put them carefully in his pocket book, and walked on to his mother’s house.

Next day, after breakfast, he strolled back down to the shore, but there were no shimmering glass wings there now, just a beautiful girl, shivering and crying. The craftsman in him was delighted with her, she was so finely made, but the man in him felt pity for her, and took her back to his mother’s house, where she was warmed, and dressed, and fed on bread and honey in front of the fire. She couldn’t say who she was, or where she was from, but she was so pretty and dainty that of course he fell in love with her, and it wasn’t long before they were married.

There were two calls on the glass-maker’s heart – his pretty wife, and the tiny glass wings he had found. He spent his days making glasses and jugs and bowls, and his wife packed them carefully in straw to be sent to the mainland. In the evenings, he spent his time blowing the finest glass possible, and making tiny glass wings, just for his own delight, until he had a whole chest full of them in his workshop. At night, he listened to his wife singing, or watched her brushing her long hair, and thought he was the luckiest man alive. His mother grumbled, of course, that between the workshop and the wife she saw so little of him that he might as well never have come back.

Months passed, and then years, and the glass-blower and his wife had 3 pretty sons, and one beautiful daughter and they passed their days and nights happily enough, until one day the daughter went to explore her father’s workshop. She looked at his tools, and the lumps of glass he would make into airy bubbles of light, and eventually looked in the great chest in the corner of the room. Inside were hundreds of tiny glass wings. She couldn’t resist – maybe she had a craftsman’s heart, too – and picked out a pair.

Later that day, the wife found the daughter playing with something, and asked to see it. When she saw the little wings, she started to cry, and then she got the daughter to show her where she’d found them. With tears rolling down her cheeks she sorted through the chest, through the hundreds and hundreds of delicate wings, each finer than the last. Right at the bottom was that first pair, and she clutched them to her, crying all the while.

There was a full moon that night, too, and if you’d watched the house you’d have seen it lost in a whirling cloud of moths, and bees, and wasps, and flying ants. Every kind of flying insect swarmed around it, until those inside couldn’t see out, and those outside couldn’t see in. And in the morning, the wife was gone, as if she’d never been there, leaving nothing but three pretty sons and a beautiful daughter.

 

This is for Jane Dougherty, who asks for a folk tale about wings, inspired by flying termites who lose their wings after their first flight. This is a little long for flash fiction, I guess, but there you go.