six flavours of Spring
dance along the budding branch;
life begins anew
dances along the branch;
LayersShe wore layers. I don't just mean her clothes, though she was well layered up in those. She'd come out in a hat, a backpack, an undershirt, an over-shirt, jeans, socks, shoes, and to cover it all, a giant flannelette top that wrapped around her like a hug; and then under all of that she hid the layers of her true self. When she talked, it was a whisper. When she laughed, her mouth quirked upwards and opened in a quiet huff of air.
Six months in, she was starting to thaw. A layer dropped -- her backpack fell from her shoulders and crumpled at her feet. At the same time, she started to talk. It wasn't much of a change, just a slight increase in volume, and a tendency to verbalise a little more frequently; but I noticed it all the same.
Another three months and the hat came off. That day, I heard a real laugh peel out of her. It echoed in my head that night when I showered, and my thoughts started to change. I'd written her off before -- she was too small, too quiet, too innocent, too pr
The BullyFlashing into being on my counter, he sniffed the air. As if that hadn't been curious enough, he asked after tonight's dinner -- the bowl he was, unfortunately, sitting in. Mournful, I looked at the remains of my deconstructed pizza. 'This,' I thought to myself, 'would be a great time to come up with some dialogue.' Unfortunately, conversation seemed beyond me just now. The being on my dinner didn't seem too interested in it, either.
I was just forming the impression that in addition to being completely weird, he was also completely mute, when he communicated. His dialogue arrived in my head, a pattern of impressions more than it was words. The gist seemed to be that he was almost as surprised as myself, but boy was he angry about it. The air, by rights, should be turning a deep red based on his language. I almost, in fact, expected little swear-bugs to zap into being. They didn't, however, and by now the creature -- for such it certainly was -- had turned its ire on me. He swore. He b
JasonJason tagged after me, his feet dogging my heels. "An' then, an' then, an' then BOOM!"
Sometimes when he was excited or feeling particularly emotional, he stuttered entire phrases. It was annoying, but what could I do? Getting angry at him just made it worse, and he'd start stuttering letters, too.
The good news was, he didn't always need interaction. He'd prattle on for hours at a time, just a long-running monologue. He was doing it now.
"--said I don't have any friends, but me and you are friends so she's really wrong and anyway,"
It was high time I interrupted him, or I'd be treated to a full discourse on just exactly how many friends this other person had, and a whole lot more besides. "Buddy, whoa. Breathe, man." He grinned up at me, two wobbly teeth hugging a small gap.
Like a squirrel gathering nuts, he filled his cheeks in an exaggerated motion. They puffed out, translucent and cheeky. I make to swat him with my hand and he ducks away, still grinning. It's a beat before
AzraelHis wings were glorious. It was 1985 and my father had just finished crafting another masterpiece. This one was unvarnished, a golden-winged angel, each feather individually carved into the wood. Since my father carved for himself and his family more than he sold, I asked if the angel could be my special gift. I considered it undervalued and priceless and my father, mercifully, agreed to let it stand in a tranquil glade I frequented.
I named him Azrael because I thought it was the most beautiful name I'd ever heard. Each day I would tell him my joys and sorrows, and he would listen patiently. When we studied Shakespeare, I would practice my lines upon him, and when I knew nobody else could hear, I would speak in iambic pentameter. Invariably, these would begin with "Verily". I didn't know what it meant, but I had always liked the sound of it.
"Verily," I would announce. "Verily, were I to be born a Queen,
my subjects royal would e'er love me well
for always would I have and have been
FestivalCollectively, the crowd held its breath. The champions sat astride their magnificent horses and awaited the command to begin. Some were bedecked in heavy suits of armour, others wore separated pieces, but all were dazzling to the crowd's eye.
Nearby, at the archer's tent, one voice could be heard muttering to a companion. "Is this how you do it? Hand here and pull back and-- oh. Where did that go?"
In the stands, a man let out a small scream and clutched at his arm. Much to his surprise, it had suddenly sprouted an arrow. "Argh," he said. Then, feeling as though it hadn't fully expressed his surprise and pain, he added a second one. "Argh!"
Organiser Sandy, currently seated three rows away from the man who'd been shot, made a decision. "This is the last year we're using real arrows for the festival goers," he told himself.
With a BangIt had been magnificent. Even now, the fireworks continued to fizzle in a half-hearted way. It had been the best display in years, all the people told each other.
Three hours ago:
"Shove over," Phil commanded his brother. "You're taking up all the room."
Looking mutinous, Adrian shuffled over. "I was using that space," he grumbled. "I'm never going to be a rock star if you never let me practice."
Phil vibrated gently with scorn. "You can't play any instruments and your singing sounds like something screaming in agony. You're never going to be a rock star anyway." His brother sighed. "You don't have to put it so bluntly," he objected.
There was a pause.
"Big show tonight," remarked Phil. "Heard 'em talking about it all week. They're expecting a good turn-out." Adrian didn't respond. Phil added, "should be a pretty spectacular finale, I heard. Going out with a bang." He turned to face Adrian, ready to admonish him for his sulk, when he discovered his brother was nowhere in sight.
The curious wheelbarrowWhen they first married, Granny and Pop Pop acquired a compelling garden centrepiece. It was a curious thing, both sturdy and delicate at once and it stood proudly in place. Over the years, as Granny aged and moved through the stages of her life, so, too, did the wheelbarrow.
Gone was Granny's glorious mane of dark hair; the steady hands I'd held so tightly as a child, and the unlined beauty of her youthful smile. Now she had hair that shone silver, hands that quivered like leaves in the breeze, and more wrinkles than a prune. Still, she was beautiful to us.
The wheelbarrow, too, had suffered the ravages of time. Where once had been a solid coat of verdant paint was now a faded and peeling green. Withered vines, grey and dead, now clung to the handles, and wilted flowers crumpled in its tub, hugging the soil. It, too, still had its own kind of beauty.
In years to come, fond tales of Granny will go hand-in-hand with tales of the old wheelbarrow. Both will live forever in the memories of
Lazarus ForeverAladdin's genie remarked that 2000 years in a lamp gives you a real crick in the neck. I wouldn't know about that, but I do know that you see a lot in 2000 years outside of one. Cities rise and fall in that time -- whole civilisations even. I should know. The name's Lazarus. Yep, that guy. Turns out the great Jesus neglected one little thing when he brought me back from the dead -- I'm still alive.
And the things I've seen. You wouldn't believe it. I've seen the fall of Rome and Constantinople. I took part in the Greco-Persian war. I met Alexander the Great, the Vikings and Christopher Columbus. I was part of The Crusades, the Ming dynasty and both World Wars. I was there for the Renaissance and the birth of the Gutenberg printing press. I survived the Black Death. I was there when they built the Great Wall of China and I was there when the Berlin Wall came down. I witnessed man begin to explore space, and to grow in its expansions until there became talk of colonisation there as well.
Dark SquirrelThere are some endings you just don't expect, no matter how good you think you are at predictions. Death by squirrel, for instance, would come as a shock to all but the most skilled fortune tellers. It certainly did for Jason.
One minute he was minding his own business placing some poison to deal with the rat problem he'd recently noticed, and the next, dead. The only intervening factor was a squirrel in a dark cloak, and he still wasn't sure just exactly how it'd managed the deed.
He stared down at the slumped body on the ground - the one that, until very recently, he'd considered his own. It stared blankly into space. He stared at the squirrel.
'May the users of Rat Poison beware', chattered Dark Squirrel, Avenger of Rodents. He smiled.