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Writing for Emma

I’m beginning to write stories for my 5-year-old daughter, Emma. We’ve connected in ways I didn’t know possible during our time reading together. I’ve often made up tall-tales while we lay around; and the story of Emma having a friend dragon was born one such lazy day hanging out on the bed.

It’s natural for a writer to study the craft of writing–learning as much about the process as about the word-play. It is that which causes me to research and study to write better for Emma. The secondary is to see if what I do create is worthy of publication. But, publishing these stories or not, Emma deserves the best I can produce.

My intent for this blog is to keep myself focused and to report any new information I learn.

It is with weeping gladness that I bid you the story of the death of our goodly lord, Duke Dravidian Shawke. Ne’er has a day passed that he has not influenced us for the positive sorts. And even in his death we are polished clean with the high-crowned monarch that is joy.
     For it is joy that fill us, oh yes. Happiness is but a single flutter of the hummingbird’s wings, but joy blows the mountain of our soul to the oceans. Our chests exploded with gleeful feelings indescribable by language when we saw him enter our towns. Our eyes were blinded by the brilliance of his after-image long past as his continued journey sought others in need of comfort.
     A man the heavens brushed on to the canvas of life from the purest of created mixtures.
     But you should weep not at the mortification of your dearest friend, for he lives thriving in memories to pass from grandfather to grandchild through and unto centuries eternal.
     Alas, poor child, and hearken an old fool’s wish of voicing the memories aloud. Embark with me on the humble proclaiming of the voyaged life of Duke Dravidian whom you know as well as I. It is joy that compels me utterance.

You and I know each other well and so you know that I cannot misspeak; and dear friend, your heart will soar when I tell the strong truth. We met at your birthing time and have conversed in our mutual loud silence from that very moment you first breathed in our shared air and exhaled that breath into the life of mortals. You shunned me when you stole your first booty and rejoiced me when I kindled your first love. Oh yes, my friend, we know one another as any could know himself.
     I need not tarry on the story of us, but rather to spark in you the remembrance of our dearest lord Dravidian. You have sat far too long in this contemplating misery when passion and life abound. You must awaken from within the beats of your heart’s purpose. I will help, however meager it will seem. For we deserve life everlasting not the temporal suffering of Caldestar’s poisoned spears. Anguish does not befit us however right and true it presents itself. So, I will antidote the swelling tides of your drowning introspection. We will fight yet again, you and I, to find manifested joy.

You’ll recall when the son of Duke Shawke was born and first named Dravidian for you were in his service mere hours after the birth-blood was wiped clean. You were young then; ever so much younger than you want to remember being. Years from your first claims as a man. And you have never forgotten that night in all yours years since. For upon that night, the birth-night of our lord Dravidian, you met peace.
     Strivings for rule had overtaken our lands. Plotted battles between the proud and the envious for nobility slaughtering your countrymen. An age of anarchy brought to kneel its blade of destruction at the feet of the singular and rightful heir of the sovereign Duke of our beloved Shawkeland. Dravidian personified freedom. The wiggling littlest toes of his feet marched our victory from our idolatrous whims; and, as his tiny fingers clung to his mothers breast, they grappled out our want of fear.
     This is not your father’s story, nor his father’s; nor is it your son’s: but yours; and mine. You and I will do the recalling ourselves because we were there. It was our duty to be his servant, but it was our cored nature that loved Dravidian so as to want to be bound in his slavery. And though your memory fails you not, you meander your days and nights in frippery. Arise from your slothful thoughts and mindless dreams of yesterday, for today we stand as kings in the sight of our lord Dravidian who sits mighty at the right-hand of his father’s throne. His death is not our end, but rather it is his beginning.

Remember the tears of strength that rose in you when lord Dravidian faced the harvest scythes of the Caldestian treachery. When Caldestar thought to cultivate wrought from within, what did our lord Dravidian do with his tears, my friend? He wept his mercy and justice on their very souls and conquered Caldestar with his bestial tenderness. No mortal should have felt strong in that moment, but you did.
     We buried kin that day. Wives and brothers. A tragedy like no author could compose, and yet there was joy. For joy is not built from laughter, but molded from hope; and hope is the lightening preceding the thunderous claim of power. Power given to you freely by our master, lord Dravidian.
     Take heart, dear friend, for the Caldestian coup was rightly needed. Trimming weary branches gives blossoming strength to the tree that is in want of purity. True gold we would not be if we were left aside to shine only as dully as the other nuggets first prospected. The dross cannot be removed without first placing the gold above a roaring fire. And it is by that molten process that we are shaped into men.

Hues of Rust

She sat in the shade of the maple she and her brother climbed hundreds of times as children while memories and worries danced in and out like branches being tickled by the wind. It was a twisted mess of beauty with massive arms jutting any which way to hug as much of the air as possible. Its leaves mixing their colors allowing another autumn and the hues of rust giving way to a coolness in the heat that sort of glowed.

Daddy should be here. It was he who helped her back down when she first got stuck by the heights of her climbing. It was he who picked up little Jimmy when he slipped out a couple of years later and broke his pride along with his little finger. It was he who sat right beside her chewing on a twig and listened to how Bobby broke her heart. It was he who smiled and chuckled softly in amazement when she dreamed aloud of who she would marry and why.

A tear escaped, but was ignored. Many had come and gone these last days. What was another?

Too many questions without answers. How would she care for the house now that it was hers? Would anyone come to help with the lawn? Should she return to school and start on her next degree? Who would walk her down the isle? Maybe as many questions as there were leaves on the maple.

She forced herself away from the questions to remember him. The way his eyes lit up when she said something witty. How strong he was lifting the planks he needed to build the barn. How careful he was with the puppy he brought home when she was eight. How his massive arms jutted out every which way to hug as much of her as possible when she came home to visit. How his hair mixed their colors to allow another autumn. And how the hues of rust from the sun on his skin seemed to make the memories of him cool the heat of her anguish.

A smile escaped and stayed to accompany the tear that hung strong to her cheek.

Daddy was there. He was the glow that surrounded her as she sat in the strength and shade of the maple.

A brightness shined behind her revealing a glowing silhouette of everything he could dream into a woman. The other side of the chasm she always stood when reality wormed its way back from the depths he threw it in. A friend from long ago she was, yet time did not erode his mind of the emotions he first held. A boulder jutting out from the middle of a fast stream saw more wear than did her impression fade.

She belonged to another now. Stories upon stories of ifs and hows explain the whys of her not being his, but those were shoved into the void when he minded the picture in his memory. A picture unblemished by age or elements. Her face. Her body. Her hair. The way her fingers felt when they caressed his cheek and how smooth her hair was he combed it with his own. His heart claimed her as his whatever the world said.

A flutter in his chest closed his eyes for him and he inhaled deeply. Vivid she became in those moments of darkness. She was the light brightening the landscape with her skin. Her eyes the buoys he swam to in the middle of the lake of her arms. The sweet wind of her breath ruffling his hair.

A remembrance of only moments so powerful to direct his mood for days. Yes, the chasm always returned and always hurt. She belonged to another now. But she was his.

Bleeding quite a lot can put a damper one’s evening, as well as staring at the gun that has already shot you would, in normal cases, make one a bit skittish. Yet, surprisingly, one could feel quite giddy at a time like this if there was a secret known the other did not.

Only fools feel superior when their prey is down and not finished. They want to hesitate. To show off. To revel in the moment with the one they’ve defeated. As if the loser would carry their story beyond the grave and proclaim how fantastically they were destroyed. It is a moment in time where pride builds itself a monument; and sharing that moment, one, well, one with a pretty cool secret, could himself on a plateau of pleasure. An instant where luck is outbid by wit.

“Tell me,” prompted Lance, “would you like to hear a story about your mother?”

“Shut your face,” screamed the shooter. Not too clean this guy. Certainly, not one who cared about others around him. It’s interesting to discover how people dress to their personality, only to find that they really don’t have one. Lance would not be surprised to find hair littering the sink of the other man’s bathroom. Not quite a slob. And far away from pleasant.

“One fine day, she met a man and fell in lust,” Lance continued as if his life didn’t depend on the other man’s trigger finger.
“I said, ‘SHUT YOUR FACE’!”

“What happened later could only be described as a wrong choice. You see, there are places a woman can allow her mate to finish. Her choice should have been different. Because, then you arrived. A disappointment, to say the least.”

“F…”

“Now, now. Temper will get you nowhere. I’m simply suggesting that a waste has occurred. I recycle myself, did you know that?”

“What are you talking about, you idiot?” And there he went. A fool also talks with his hands when he’s holding a gun. In a subtle three-in-one maneuver a hand-talker unconsciously uses his body to emphasize his mood. The shooter waved his hand, ever so slightly, while at the same time shrugged his shoulders, capped off by an involuntary shake of his head. And in this case, he actually closed his eyes … which is what killed him.

Lesson one. Your prey can still win if you haven’t yet unleashed the killing blow.

Lesson two. You can’t repeat lesson one to try again.

Lance was waiting for something. Anything. A tick or a flinch would have done nicely. For the secret he held was that he was not out of bullets. The shooter must have counted to nine when he just stood up and walked straight toward Lance. A bold move even Lance appreciated. Sure, he had taken a bullet in his right arm-the arm attached to the hand that held his own gun in-and was bleeding all over the place. To a buffoon, he was immobilized, out of ammunition, and therefore, worthy of a little strutting. A pompous, ‘Here, let me wander on up and point my big gun in your face so you know how cool I am,’ kind of thing.

It was true that Lance had fired nine shots out of his Ruger P90. Loading the magazine with eight rounds and sliding extra one in the barrel makes nine. Someone who knew anything about guns, would never assume only eight were available, and the disease-ridden shooter had been practicing his math. Lance had taken more time to assume that more than just hair around his sink was possible. Doubtless, he had expired milk in the fridge and unwashed dishes piled high on the counter awaiting the cleaning crew that would be called in. However, returning to rule number one, he obviously didn’t count on Lance changing magazine clips after only four shots.

There was a lull in the gun-play earlier, and Lance thought he might want an extra bullet or two. He smiled. Then winced. Being shot in the arm also has a way of limiting the length of time one might otherwise use to chuckle.

 

There are many who find themselves afraid of the day to come and others who lazily take each step as if it matters not which direction they turn. In light or dark the decisions made for this or that are either decided for them so there is of little use to be creative, or they are unlucky enough to have no control over these decisions and become frightened of the unknown things to come. Yet, there are others still. Those who purpose their steps regardless of what is happening around themselves neither lazy or fearful. These are they who more often times than not become leaders. But, what kind of leaders? Champions of good or of evil? Selfish or selfless? And are these characteristics born in them or does circumstance mold them into who they are and what causes they promote?

Summer’s Beach

Another cough and he sprung out of the chair beside his wife’s sickbed so quickly she had little time to search for a cloth to cover her mouth. She was so much paler now, as if life was fading from her through her pores, taking pigment along with moisture in its evaporation. She took the cloth and coughed a bit more managing a smile when the fit seemed to subside. He smiled back, if possible, more weakly than she. A slow process this evil was enacting, and though she was the one suffering physically, his own strength and hope were being equally mortified.

The doctors knew nothing more now than they did months ago. So many diagnosis abandoned. Strange and horrible sounding names they used to describe his love. He almost believed the tests they ordered were as much to blame for her depletion than the unknown illness. Yet her eyes still glistened and wept and drew him in. Candlelight was all she could manage now without suffering untold anguish as if the light itself was a fire to her brain. The sun outside the thickly covered windows had become his enemy as well as it seemed to be in alliance with whatever was inside her … hurting her.

“I need my slippers.” His smile stood perched and he squinted a little knowing she must want to wash. A painful time for her was coming, and he could do nothing to prevent it. Pulling his face from hers, he bent to find her slippers and hide his fear. She couldn’t walk any more than he could turn invisible, but her slippers gave her some comfort, maybe they warmed her feet, so he did as bidden. He would carry her to the bath and place her in the tub to wash her. There would be no thought as to how careful he would be with her. He would be perfect. She smiled a little more when he pulled the sheets back to slide the slippers onto her feet. “Remember that summer on the beach in Florida?”

“Yes, my heart.” Of course he remembered. It was the summer they met and though it was many years past, he could remember every breath that escaped her lips. How her chest would rise and fall as she breathed. How the sun captured time around her. How thrown flip-flops at some pestering boy had missed completely – one hitting him in the chest and the other in his face. All of it was remembered. All of it was as gold.

He left her only a few moments to begin drawing the bath. When he returned, she was staring at the framed photo on the dresser beside the doorway. It was a photo from that long ago summer. Both were much younger though neither thought the other had lost any amount of appeal. “I want to go back with you.” She almost whispered. “Say we’ll go back there.” His eyes began swelling, his jaw firmed.

“We’ll go soon, my heart.” He meant every word of that lie.