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Jeremy the Crow, Part I

4 Feb

[Written as a birthday present for a very precious little boy, this is the first of a three-part story.]

*****

“Screeeeeeech!” went the car tyres angrily, as they were forced to halt. “Silly crow!” glared the lady inside, her eyes sparking behind the wheel. Jeremy hopped to the pavement as briskly as he could, and stood there, head cocked to one side. The dust from the retreating tyres tickled his nose and tears pricked his deep black eyes. Brushing them away with one feathery wing, he busied himself with some berries on the ground and tried not to think about the sad feeling in his heart.

 

 

Jeremy had been born in the perfect curve of a dish antenna, a squawking, ragged bundle among his brothers and sisters. His early days were perfect: warm, wet and milky, as he huddled close to his Mamacita and slept soundly. As time rolled by, like the big construction trucks that often passed their nest, Jeremy’s siblings began to stretch their wings. First, just a little. Then, some more. More, more, a little further, until they were ready to attempt their first flight. Taking their positions, they steadied their gangly feet, craned their necks, stretched out their wings and looked eye-poppingly eager. “Now!” said Mamacita, waving a leaf to signal “go”, and one by one, they cleared the rim of the satellite dish and found themselves flapping furiously in mid-air. Jeremy waited in line patiently, a little nervous about the prospect of leaving home.

 

 

Finally, when it was his turn, Mamacita looked over at him, smiled and said “Now!” He swallowed hard and spread his wings. His scrawny legs wobbled as he stood on tip-toe and craned his neck as far out as he could. He strained his eyes some more in the hope that he’d see beyond the curved grey of the dish. It was no use. He was confronted by a formidable wall of steel and would have to fly higher than its rim. Flapping tentatively, he levitated about mid-way. Gaining momentum, he worked hard to move skyward and finally, the rim fell below his eyes.

 

 

The world parted its curtains for Jeremy. In that one instant, he saw great white towers and shiny cars with wheels as dark as his body and children chasing a striped ball and trees waving green flags, telling him he could do it. Sunshine patted his thin little neck and far away he could hear a flute singing.  Jeremy couldn’t believe his bulging eyes. Oh to think he almost didn’t leave Mamacita’s home! As time stood still, so did his wings. And the next thing Jeremy knew, he had crashed back into the dish, his leg twisted at a strange angle, a sharp pain searing through it.

 

(to be continued…….)

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Message in a Bottle: Condi Saves the Night

10 Dec

[While I figure out some picture transfer issues on my camera, here’s a tall tale. It was written as a Children’s Day present for WJ‘s Imp. With some simplification, it works decently with 3-5 year olds.]


You may remember the story of Sascha and her jostling bathroom friends who bumped off poor Hair Oil into the toilet bowl. Not much has changed since, and the bottles continue to live bickeringly and gossipingly on the window ledge, still a little resentful of Hair Oil for enjoying a plum position on Sascha’s dressing table. All except for Condi. Ever since he played a part in pushing Hair Oil off the ledge, Condi had been feeling rather ashamed. He had a kind heart and was, in retrospect, truly sorry that his action had caused his neighbor so much fear and worry. But he was afraid the other bottles would laugh at him if he shared his regrets and so he held his tongue and said nothing.

One day, the house was in a great bustle. Bags were brought out from closets, clothes and toys packed into them, and Nanny came into the bathroom, clicking her heels busily. A brisk scan later, she picked up all the bottles from the ledge and carried them off to the vanity case, leaving only Condi behind because he was too tall to fit. They were all going on a holiday! “To the beach!” said Baby Powder, sneaking a peek into the mirror (for she was as vain as ever). “Or maybe to the water park,” hoped Shampoo, knowing he’d have to work extra hard at cleaning sand from Sascha’s hair. “On a train, a real train!” shouted Soap, sliding around in excitement. “The hills would be pleasant too,” yawned Suntan Lotion, who was hoping to get a little rest himself. In all their chatter and anticipation, the bottles quite forgot poor Condi, who was left standing alone, feeling bereft and miserable. Windows were shut, doors slammed, keys turned in locks and Sascha’s family was off, off, off! Condi leaned against a corner, trying to get used to the silence and let slip an occasional sigh. Pigeons cooed in the alcove outside, the tap dripped out a watery tune, and Sheroo the neighborhood dog barked indignantly at the postman. With the ledge all to himself, Condi sprawled in a cool, sunless spot and decided to take a little nap.

When he awoke, it was dark. The sun had set some hours earlier and he shivered a little in the night breeze. Cricket and his family were crackling outside, saying grace before their evening meal. The birds had flown home, all the cars were parked for the night and the sounds and lights of television shows filtered through the louvres of Condi’s bathroom window. His eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness and he found himself enjoying his newfound solitude. “Quite the lord and master of the house,” he thought smugly to himself, strutting down the length of the sill and striking a pose. He amused himself for a while by peering into the cabinet and rifling through the contents of the first-aid box. “The scissors look so shiny and sharp,” he thought, and reached out for them, when suddenly he heard a low click and then the sound of the heavy front door creaking open. Frozen into place, still clutching the first aid box, Condi heard stealthy footsteps echoing down the hallway, coming closer….and closer…. and closer.

A man in scruffy clothes and an old sack tread carefully past the open bathroom door, onward to the dining room. It was a burglar, Condi realized, and tried not to scream in panic. His plastic heart was thumping against his tall, slender frame and he was certain the man could hear it. From his perch by the cabinet, he could see the burglar filling his sack with Sascha’s mummy’s precious china plates. Oh no! She would be so very upset when she returned! Looking around wildly, Condi hit upon an idea. With all the strength he could muster, he pushed the first aid box off its shelf. Crash-landing on the tiles below, its contents shattered noisily. The thief started and hurried out of the apartment, leaving the sack and its contents behind. But the force of the momentum had been too great. Condi went flying into the air after the box and had a wet landing in the pot below. Splash! Thankfully, he was a tall bottle and the toilet bowl was rather shallow, so there was no real fear of drowning. There he lay, soaked but thrilled at having scared away the nasty thief.

Sascha’s family returned the next morning. Oh what a to-do there was when they found the front door open and the sack with the plates lying on the floor! Condi was fished out of the water, cleaned and pushed to the back of the ledge, where he proudly recounted his tale of heroism to his open-mouthed friends and pointed to the wreckage on the floor as proof. Bai cleaned the mess grumblingly, but was thankful the house was safe. Sascha’s parents had stronger locks put into the front door and Sascha herself was just glad that her beloved computer wasn’t stolen. How else would she read OJ’s blog everyday?

And so ends the story of tall, brave Condi, who risked life and plastic limb to save the day. Nobody but the bottles knows about the part he played, but he doesn’t mind. He’s just glad he could do something good for a change.

Descent

12 Nov

To all those kind enough to vote for my flash fiction entry here, thank you. (Doesn’t ring a bell? Refer to this post.) I was leading the poll until a while ago but now thanks to some lazy bums out there WHO CAN STILL GET OFF THEIR REAR ENDS AND VOTE and substantial help from trolls out to pull the average down, my story is trailing behind. But, because I’m a kindly soul, (and also because no one else will read it) here’s another tall tale, again, under 500 words. Enjoy.

…….

It wasn’t me. I did nothing. Didn’t invite them, didn’t ask them to stay. They sought me out, beseechingly, with open arms and pleading pitches, hear us, tell us, unravel our souls. At first, I ignored them. Maybe if I looked busy enough, they’d go away. So I’d turn my back to them, knitting in hand, and click the needles loudly, so they’d be forced to withdraw. Don’t harangue me, I’d say firmly, looking them in the eye when they tried to crawl back. Go find another home, one that wants you.

It worked for a while. I believed it was over. Life lulled me back into its everyday rhythms and I watched the leaves change color and the flowers wilt. But one day, they came for me. Thick and fast, flying at me in droves, the Stories clung to my legs like many-syllabled leeches, sucking the words out of me and making them their own. They clutched my tongue and tugged at my fingers and sapped my brain to within an inch of its life, wailing, clamoring, begging to be told. They lodged themselves in my house, my room, my closets, my typewriter, smirking from behind the ribbon, calling out from under the staircase, leaping onto my unsuspecting shoulders, clawing my neck until I acquiesced.

I wrote. I had to. They wouldn’t go away, I couldn’t make them. So we stayed up nights and had pre-dawn parties, where they’d form a ring and dance around my ankles, and I, who had begun to enjoy the attention, was bright and alert and oh-so-productive, and then of course, there were drinks to help. They stood on the rim of the tub and watched me bathe. They scattered my hair with a flick of their commas and dotted my eyes with colons. They stacked my sheets and tied them with ribbons, arguing over the color and whether we needed a bow. They said they loved me anyway and that they didn’t care I was about to win a prize. I loved them too, my angelic creatures, my babies, my Stories, beings of my being. They were right when they said the men would take me away and for a while, all was white and quiet and their voices receded as I lay in a big van, sibilant whispers tapping my eyes, sliding under my skin, making me fall, fall, fall……..

When I awoke, they were gone. A lone nurse smiled tightly before feeding me soup. The corridors were empty. The room was empty. My head was empty. Only the soup bowl was full. Nurse made me rest. A quick prick of something green and I was drifting away. The clock struck three and I turned to take a look. As my eyelids drew closer, I noticed the spread of a delighted smile rocking behind the pendulum and knew all was well with my world again.

~The last entry from the personal journal of Emma McCormick, Nobel Laureate for Literature, 1964.

# 659 for OJ

29 Oct

A long, long while ago, in what almost seems like another lifetime, I scribbled a desultory little something for the Caferati Quick Tales contest. The days passed, and then weeks and months, and The Story of Little Post slipped out of immediate memory.

Apparently, not everyone is as absent-minded as I. The good judges at Quick Tales found my story worthy of shortlisting and here it is, among other keen contenders for the People’s Choice Prize Poll.

Now here’s where you come in. If you like it enough, act on it. Rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest score). Obviously, the story with the highest (and most) ratings wins the People’s Choice Poll. But first, please take a  brief moment to join Live Journal. Only LJ members can poll. The poll will remain open for at least 2 weeks from October 28, 2008. For more information on how to go about it, click here.

I understand it may be painful to sign up and rate when it’s so much easier to peacefully lurk and then click the browser shut, but flex that wrist a little. Please? It may not be the best 500 word fiction of all time, but I’d really appreciate feedback all the same.

So:

Head over.

Read.

Join.

Rate.

Questions, if any, will be answered in the comments section of this post.

#659 thanks you for your time and attention.  Regular programming to resume shortly.

Message in a Bottle: Jostling Jealousy & Other Stories

30 Aug

[This one was scribbled for a four-year-old audience. The language has been modified for adult reading. Feedback welcome. And any mommies/daddies reading this, feel free to narrate it to your babies. 🙂 ]

Sascha’s bathroom, like the rest of her home, was spotlessly clean. Her Mommy made sure that it was cleaned every day and always smelled fragrant. You could call it a bit cluttered, I suppose, for Sascha loved her cosmetics just as much as the next tween. And the window ledge was more than a little packed with bottles, tubes and jars of varying dimensions, jostling for a foothold.

They were quite a sorority, those bottles. Every night, after all was calm, they’d huddle together and crib about Hair Oil who lived among them.

“She’s so drippy and icky and green!” gurgled Shampoo in disdain.

“Not to mention smelly,” sniffed Bath Salts.

“She really shouldn’t be here amongst us,” cried Baby Powder, who was particularly vain about her appearance and partial to taking a peek into the mirror every chance she got.

And so they whined and carped and grumbled about their unsavory company, until one day, fed up of their complaining, Soap suggested a plan.

“We’ll wait for Friday night,” he whispered, knowing that was the time Sascha’s hair was oiled. “And, since she’ll be the last one back on the ledge, one of us can nudge her over, and splash, she’ll be in the pot below!” Much excitement and cheering later, it was decided that Condi (short for Conditioner) be the one to Do the Deed. Being the tallest of the lot, he had more leverage, and could move swiftly and effectively to get the job done. Hands shaken and backs slapped, they settled down to await the end of the week.

On Friday night, Nanny grabbed Hair Oil as usual and took her off to the kitchen to be warmed. 20 tense minutes later, she was back, whistling tunelessly at being the flavor of the night and having gladdened the rather traditional Nanny’s old heart. At precisely ten past midnight, at the pre-determined signal, Condi swung into action. A quick bump of his plastic bum later, Hair Oil was floating dismally in the (thankfully) clean water of the dazzling white pot, gazing up ruefully at the sniggers above her. Shutting her eyes, she prayed fervently that no drowsy family member would use the toilet at night. That, in her book, would be the ultimate ignominy.

The night passed peacefully. Or as peaceful as it can possibly be with a dark drain mere millimeters away. With the morning sun came Bai, Harpic in one hand and brush in another, ready to do battle with germs, stains and sundry offenders. Hair Oil cringed, waiting to be doused in blue soapy liquid, but none descended. Instead, after what appeared to be the longest time, she heard a cluck of annoyance and felt a calloused hand gingerly lift her from the cap. The bottles were all agog, hanging about innocently with their eyes peeled to the unfolding scene. And this is what they saw:

Hair Oil was given a thorough rinse in lavender soap by a brisk, mildly annoyed Bai before being swabbed with Dettol and patted dry. Other than a wrinkly wrapper, she looked none the worse for wear and the smirk she wore on her face infuriated them. The last straw was seeing her being whisked off to the bedroom and given pride of place on Sascha’s dressing table, in full view of the exciting programs on television. Only the bottles knew that the slightly puffed look that Hair Oil wore for the rest of the week was not a result of that dunking in the water.