Let It Go: A Love Story (Part Two)

Let it go, the smallest bridesmaid told herself, on the morning after the wedding.  The tallest groomsman hadn’t asked for her phone number.  It wasn’t meant to be.  But as she sat up in bed, the bridesmaid couldn’t suppress a nagging thought.  Her feelings about the groomsman weren’t mistaken.  There was something between them.  She glanced at the clock beside her bed.  Maybe it wasn’t too late.

Let it go, the bridesmaid told herself, as she rushed to get ready.  Chasing him was foolish.  Didn’t she have any pride?  The groomsman should make the first move, but there was nothing wrong with casually bumping into him downstairs before he left.  The elevator’s descent to the hotel lobby took an eternity.  Heart pounding, she stepped onto the first floor and tried to appear nonchalant.  One glance around the lobby proved fruitless.  The tallest groomsman was nowhere to be seen.

Let it go, the bridesmaid told herself, as she pulled out of the parking lot.  He had left the hotel without saying goodbye to her.  She tried to shrug off the mantle of disappointment, but the drive home was long and uneventful.  There was too much time to brood over the events of the previous evening.  Her analytical mind scrutinized every glance and word that they had exchanged.  She arrived at a harsh conclusion.  It was one conversation at a wedding.  That was it.

Let it go, the bridesmaid told herself, on entering her quiet home.  The silence offered no refuge from her thoughts.  She sat down on the couch and pressed her face into her hands.  A range of inexplicable emotions threatened to overwhelm her.  She tried to squash them with common sense.  This was real life, not a movie.  No one fell in love with a stranger after one conversation.  So why did the thought of never seeing him again make her want to weep?

Let it go, the bridesmaid told herself, as the hours passed into days.  How was this infatuation different?  She had crashed and burned before.  With time, her broken heart had healed.  It would be the same again.  She would forget about that groomsman if she buried herself in work and school.  But as the days turned into weeks, she couldn’t stop wondering what life with the groomsman could have been.

Let it go, the bridesmaid told herself, as she stared at the number on her phone.  What was she thinking?  This was a very bad idea.  He was a stranger who didn’t reciprocate her feelings.  Maybe his heart belonged to someone else.  Her life was already complicated.  It wasn’t worth the risk.

Let it go, the bridesmaid thought, as her anxiety grew.  A few deep breathes did little to calm her nerves.  The cell phone felt like a brick in her hand.  She remembered his warm smile across the dance floor, those hazel eyes that changed color with what he wore, and the warmth of his shoulder when it brushed against hers in the limo.  “He has a heart of gold,” her friend had told her at the wedding.  “You two would be happy.”

I can’t let it go, the bridesmaid realized.  She hit the send button on her phone before lifting it to her ear.

TO THE READER:  If you want to find out what happens next, please check out What Do I Say?:  A Love Story (Part Three) for the conclusion.  Thank you for reading!

Have you ever had a gut feeling about someone?  Did that instinct make you say or do completely irrational things?  (Not in a scary stalker way….)  Were your instincts correct?  Please share your stories with me!

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Dear Toddler, I Have A Problem With You

Dear Toddler,

I see you.  You’re standing there with your big eyes, little feet, and sticky Hobbit hands, flashing that impish grin at me.  You know that you’re adorable, but guess what?  I’m not falling for it.

I’ve got a lot of problems with you and now, you’re going to hear about them.

You’ve had two years to figure this shit out.  Two.  A person can get an Associate degree in two years.  So, what have you been doing with your time?

Let’s start with an obvious one.  Diaper changes.  We do this EVERY SINGLE DAY, several times a day.  Nothing about it should come as a surprise to you.  So, why do I need an exorcist every time I put you on the changing table?  I CAN’T CLEAN YOU UP when you arch your back, kick me in the face, and scream bloody murder.

If you hate diaper changes that much, then here’s an idea:  COOPERATE WITH POTTY TRAINING.  According to meme studies supplied by online strangers, you’re already behind your peers.  This is your own fault.  You lack focus.  It’s not that hard to aim and drop something into a toilet.  You’ve done it with my phone.  And people train cats to do it.  I know.  I’ve seen videos of cats flushing a toilet.  I’d like to believe that what I begat is smarter than a cat.

Speaking of cats, let’s apply some common sense here.  A tail is not a penis.  Please don’t yank it. And coating the cat in maple syrup and flour will not turn him into a pancake. It will not make him like you. Do you see anyone else doing that?  Don’t be a pioneer. Either pet the cat or ignore him.

Did I just mention pancakes?  Let’s discuss meal time.  Being a toddler is hard.  People always tell you when to play, snack or nap.  It’s a rough life.  But when your Highness experiences meal fatigue, could you please leave the plate ON the table instead of whipping it across the room like a drunk?  You’ve mastered signing AND saying “All Done.”  Why don’t we put these newfound skills to work at meal time?

Now, let’s talk about these tantrums.  I’m going to be brutally honest.  You get upset over stupid shit.  And I know that you think I’m a god, but I can’t control certain things.  Like cloud coverage.  I’m sorry that the sky is too blue for your Majesty.  And I don’t know why the neighbor decided to drive HIS big, red truck to work today without consulting you. But none of these offenses justify your strip show at Target.  I don’t care if you’re a boy or a girl.  Trampy toddlers come in either gender.  Have some self-respect.  Stop flashing your pull-ups in Produce.

Speaking of Target, and the Starbucks attached to Target, and the drive-thru attached to the Starbucks nowhere near Target, let’s talk about coffee.  Being a Mommy requires coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  I gave up caffeine AND booze for both of you during pregnancy.  That’s a grand total of TWENTY MONTHS.  I’m a saint, so I don’t need your howler-monkey protests now that I’m hitting the ‘BUX again.  Do something constructive while Mommy caffeinates.  Read Dickens.

One last thing.  Do you remember the time you spotted that Calliou doll at your aunt’s house?  And how you asked me for one?  No.  Just, no.  I’ve heard about this bald-headed bastard.  He’s the gateway to whining.  I’m not letting him near the house, so watch PBS instead.  Learn math.  Get a STEM job.

Well, I hope this helps you get your shit together.  Here are some GMO-filled Cheerios.  Or maybe they don’t contain GMO’s anymore.  I don’t know. Just eat them and fend for yourself for a few minutes without falling down the stairs. Mommy needs to hide and stuff her face with gluten-filled goodies.

With much love,

Your adoring underpaid servant

He’s Not My Type: A Love Story (Part One)

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He’s not my type, the smallest bridesmaid thought to herself when the tallest groomsman stepped into the limo bus.  Her pulse quickened as he walked past the other empty seats to approach her in the back.  When the groomsman sat down in the seat beside her, she was very aware of his broad shoulder brushing against her bare one.

He’s not my type, the bridesmaid thought, casting a sidelong glance at him.  She shivered slightly in the black dress and pulled her flimsy wrap around herself.  The groomsman bore no resemblance to her ideal man.  His hair was too dark, his eyes weren’t blue, and he was too tall for her.  But she thought that he looked very handsome in his tuxedo.

He’s not my type, she thought, when his hazel eyes met her brown ones.  He smiled shyly at her and offered to hold the large veggie tray that was balanced precariously on her lap.  She gratefully accepted his help.  The groomsman wasn’t outgoing, but the bridesmaid found his calm demeanor strangely soothing.  They made small talk as the limo drove them around town for wedding pictures.

He’s not my type, the bridesmaid thought, as she entered the reception hall on the arm of the groomsman.  To her disappointment, they parted ways at dinner.  The groomsman was seated at a different table.  A small bubble of joy rose within her when he smiled at her from across the dance floor.  For a few seconds, time stood still.  The bridesmaid didn’t realize it, but her world shifted in that moment.

He’s not my type, the bridesmaid thought, when she agreed to meet him for a drink after the reception.  After helping the bride to clean up a few things in the reception room, she went back to her room to change.  Meeting the groomsman wasn’t a good idea.  The timing was all wrong.  She was already juggling work, school and her mother’s illness.  There was no room for anything else in her life.

He’s not my type, the bridesmaid thought, as she walked into the hotel bar.  To her chagrin, she found the groomsman talking with another girl.  With flaming cheeks, the bridesmaid contemplated leaving.  But some unknown force propelled her towards the pair.  “Am I interrupting anything?” the bridesmaid asked, raising one dark eyebrow.  The other girl took one look at the small, scowling bridesmaid and disappeared.

He’s not my type, she thought, when the groomsman smiled at her.  The bridesmaid was embarrassingly happy when he told her, “I didn’t think you were coming, but I’m glad you’re here.”  They walked back to the empty reception room and sat across from a large window overlooking the hotel garden.  Conversation flowed smoothly, but there was a momentary lull as they sipped their drinks.  As the groomsman looked out the window, the bridesmaid studied his profile.  Her heart fluttered as she experienced one singular moment of life-changing insight.

I could spend the rest of my life with you.

He’s not my type, the bridesmaid panicked, immediately dismissing the thought as absurd.  But she told him that it would be nice to see him again when they returned home.  She was disappointed when he didn’t respond by asking for her phone number.  They parted company without plans to see each other again.

He’s not my type, she told herself as walked back to her room.  Her shoulders were slumped in disappointment.  It didn’t matter that once her head hit the pillow, she dreamed of a life with him.  The whole situation was ridiculous.  She was just tired and stressed.

He’s not my type, she told herself the next morning when she woke up and realized that she had fallen in love with the tall groomsman.

TO THE READER:  If you want to find out what happens next, here is Let It Go:  A Love Story (Part Two).  Thank you for reading!

Have you ever fallen in love with a stranger?  Did it work out or do you still wonder about that person?  Please share your story!  I love to hear them!

A Letter To My Firstborn Son

To My Little Guy,

Almost two years ago, your father and I bid you farewell as we left you alone with your grandparents. Even though I would see you again in a few days, I cried as I kissed you and walked out the door. I understood the significance of that moment. Your world was about to change.

Three days later, we returned home with a tiny interloper. Suddenly, you weren’t the sole focus of our universe. You had to share your place in the sun with someone else. Your baby sister.

It has been a rough journey for you, my fierce firstborn child. You don’t get all of my attention anymore. Sometimes, you have to wait. And sometimes, when I’m taking care of your sister, you feel as if I don’t notice you. But I want you to know something.

I see you. As you stand beside your little sister. She’s not yet two years old. At nearly five years old, you tower over her. But your head still tilts up when you talk to me. I know that one day, our gazes will be level and eventually, you’ll tilt your head down to speak with me. I’m not ready for that day.

I hear you. As you watch your favorite shows. Your childish lisp makes me smile when you belt out the “Hot Dog” song from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Your sweet voice embodies childhood innocence when you sing the theme song from Winnie the Pooh. I know that one day, your voice will be deeper than mine is, and you will enjoy mind-numbing, eardrum-shattering music that I don’t understand. I’m not ready for that day.

I smell you. Your boyish scent lingers in the car as we drive to school. No matter how often your face is washed, you always smell like the strawberries and cinnamon bread you love to eat for breakfast each morning. I know that someday, I will walk into your bedroom, and wonder if something died. I’m not ready for that day.

I taste you. Your salty tears wet my face as you wrap your small arms around my neck and sob out your Pre-K woes on my shoulder. Right now, my embrace is enough to solve your problems. I know that someday, the world will break your heart again. And my hugs and kisses won’t be enough to soothe your pain. I’m not ready for that day.

I feel you. When we cuddle before I kiss you good night. The warmth of your body and the rapid beating of your heart before bedtime elicit my primal maternal vow to protect you with my life. I know that someday, you will push me away when I try to hug you. You won’t want my cuddles, or my kisses. I’m not ready for that day.

I love you. I love hearing you laugh and seeing you run outside on the playground with your friends. I love the way your dimples pop out when you see me outside the window of your classroom at the end of the school day. I love how your face lights up when your father walks into the house at the end of his work day. I love how gentle you are after you grudgingly accept your little sister’s hand in yours and walk with her through the mall.

And so, my dear little son, I know that life is hectic. I know that your sister gets half of my attention now. It seems as if I don’t notice you, but I do. There are so many wonderful moments with you that are permanently etched in my heart. Nothing and no one can take them away. Because you will always be my one and only firstborn son. And no one can ever take your place in my heart.

A “Sanctimommy” Visits The Mall

Earlier this week, I took my little one to the mall for our daily morning stroll.  As we passed the playground, my gaze fell upon a little girl.  She was wandering around like an aimless urchin.  Maybe she was an aimless urchin.  I don’t know.  I didn’t have time to dwell on that possibility.  She was standing right next to a vending machine.  It was blasting chilled air and one of her feet was bare.  Before the hapless mite caught pneumonia and died, I rushed towards the playground.

The only adult in the play area was a woman sitting on a bench.  Her eyes were on a book instead of her child.  She looked up as I approached.  “You’re doing it wrong,” I told her kindly when I spotted the missing sock next to her.  I grabbed it and quickly placed it on the small child’s foot.  There was a large diaper bag beside the woman.  I took the initiative to rifle through it and pull out a hat.  I gently placed it on the little girl’s head.  My chest swelled with pride as I walked away.  I could hear the woman’s expletives of gratitude echo across the playground.  After all, a covered child is a happy child.

Buoyed by my random act of kindness, I searched for more opportunities to help strangers with children.  Fortunately, the mall was crawling with unfit parents.  I spotted a pair of them pushing a wailing baby in a neglect buggy.  Happy children do not cry in public places.  Mine never do, so this couple clearly needed my help.  I tightened my arms around my precious guppy, before marching in their direction.

They stopped talking when they saw me.  I knelt down beside the baby and buggy.  “You poor little hugless child,” I murmured in a soothing voice, gently stroking his hair.  “I’m sure someone loves you.” Neither person moved when I unbuckled the little boy and picked him up.  The infant stopped crying and looked at me.  “Perhaps your child would cry less if you carry him,” I suggested, before handing him to his mother.  The couple stared at me.  The woman’s cheeks flushed crimson with embarrassment.  “It’s okay,” I assured her in a confident voice.  It masked how uneasy I felt leaving the hapless mite in their care.  “Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”  The man sputtered something unintelligible as I continued to patrol the mall.

My mind whirled as I scanned my surroundings.  So many people needed my help.  But who would reap the greatest benefit from my intervention?  Suddenly, the stench of cinnamon hit me like a brick wall.  Of course.  The food court.  What weak-willed parent can resist the lure of the nugget?  I pulled my scarf over my nose and headed in that direction.

I wasn’t surprised by what I saw.  Rows of tables littered with trays of garbage.  My stomach sank.  So many parents were shoveling GMO’s into the open mouths of their unsuspecting children.  I walked past a few gluten peddlers before spotting a dire situation.  A helpless adult male sitting beside a shrieking child.  I looked around, but there wasn’t a mother in sight.

My pace quickened.  The man obviously needed help to defuse the tantrum.  The little girl stood next to the table, red-faced, fists clenched, howling at the top of her lungs.  I couldn’t blame her.  She was probably protesting the nuggets.

“Hi Sweetheart,” I said softly, kneeling beside the little girl.  The man looked startled, but then visibly relaxed when I winked at him.  He know that I was there help.  “Why are you sad?”

“No eat,” the little girl stamped her foot and shrieked.  “Me no eat.”

“You’re such a smart little girl,” I cooed, as I tousled her curls.  “You know that your daddy is trying to poison you.”

“What?” The man sputtered, while the little girl stuck one unclean thumb in her mouth.  Her eyes lit up with interest.

“Well, I’m going to help you, sweetheart,” I smiled at her and picked up their trays.  “Let’s put this where it belongs.”  I walked over to the trash can and threw both plates in.  I pulled out my hand sanitizer and squirted some into my palms.  “Garbage belongs in garbage.”

The man gaped at me, while the little girl smiled and clapped her hands.  I grinned back at her.  Sometimes, children know better than their parents do.

Parenting is hard for some people.  It takes a village for these people to raise a child and I am a part of that village.  Because when you know better, you do better.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  This is satire.  It is fiction.  Please do not verbally torpedo me for the actions of a fictional character.  Thank you.

Published! Thank you, Scary Mommy!

Well, it doesn’t seem real, but one of my blog posts has been published on Scary Mommy!  It’s a parenting website with about 1.4 million followers!  If you’re interested, here is the link:  Being A Mom Without A Mom.

What makes this so interesting is that I didn’t write this article with the intent to publish it.  Once again, I was feeling strong emotions and just jotted this down as a post on my other blog (A Writing Mama’s Journal).  I shared it with some of my Facebook friends.  It received positive feedback.  A few of my friends encouraged me to submit it.

I was honestly on the fence about it.  This piece is about my mother.  She was an incredibly private person, so I struggled with this.  I didn’t want to do anything that would violate her personal life.  That’s the main reason I haven’t really published anything about what happened to her during her 15-year illness.  I have about 300 pages from my days of sitting next to her in the hospital, rehab facilities, nursing home and finally, in her house, under hospice care.

I don’t know if I would ever publish that.  My wounds are still too raw from the entire experience.

But I think this piece really shows how much I loved her.  And still love her.  So, I dedicate this to you, Rita.  I love you.  I miss you.  I wish you were still here.  Until we meet again.

Charlie Weaver: The Hero Meets The Ally

[Author’s note:  This is satire.  No coffee shops were harmed in the writing of this piece.]

“I know that place,” Paw Paw pointed to a shop called “Big Bucks” on the mall directory.  “You should be safe over there.  Stay there until I come for you, Charlie.”  I nodded and we walked in opposite directions.

I found the place that he was talking about at the other end of the mall.  My stomach growled as I walked inside.  I hadn’t eaten for several hours and something smelled really good.  When I approached the counter, I nearly drooled at the sight of all of those pastries in the display case.  Paw Paw and I were running away from demons, but surely we had enough time for a snack?  As I leaned over, trying to decide what I wanted, I heard a voice.

“Hi, welcome to Big Bucks.  Can I take your order?”  A dark-haired girl about my age looked at me expectantly.  Her name tag said “Kelli.”

“Uh,” I stammered.  My mind went blank as I looked into her large, golden eyes.  I ordered the first thing that popped into my head.  “I’ll just have a cup of coffee.”

She studied her nails.  “What size?”

I don’t drink coffee, but it was too late to ask for a pop.  “Uh, small?”

“We don’t have small.”

“You don’t have small,” I repeated.  When she rolled her eyes, I hastened to adjust my order.  “Well, how about a large?”

She shook her head.  “We don’t have large, either.”

Confused, I said.  “Do you sell coffee?”

She scowled at me and placed on hand on her hip.  “Look, I’ve got things to do and customers to take care of.  I don’t have time for some loser who’s trying to be a smartass with me.”

I glanced behind me.  There was only one other person in the place and he was sitting in a booth in the back.  “I’m not trying to be a smartass.  I really wanted to know if you sell coffee.”

“Of course we do,” she snapped.  “This is a cafe.  But I need to know what size you want.”

It felt like her eyes were boring a hole in my face.  Flustered, I asked, “What size do you have?”

The girl looked at me with disgust.  She sighed deeply, turned around and pointed to the sign above her head.  “We have fawn, doe, buck and big buck.”

My temples throbbed.  There were pictures of animals on the chalkboard.  I didn’t understand what wildlife had to do with coffee.  “Is the fawn small?”

“It’s smaller than the doe.”

I stared at the blackboard.  She was right.  A fawn is smaller than the doe or the buck.  “I guess I’ll take a fawn?”

The girl pushed a button on her register.  “Regular or skim?”

I didn’t know what she was talking about, but I didn’t want to upset her again.  I wasn’t sure how someone would skim water for making coffee, so I chose the safer option.  “Regular.”

“What type do you want?”

“Coffee,” I said confidently.

Kelli frowned at me.  It was obvious that I answered incorrectly.  She waved at a different board behind her.  “All of this is coffee.  Pick which type you want.”

Every inch of the blackboard was scrawled in chalk.  There were more pictures of animals and words that I didn’t understand.  I spent a few minutes squinting at the tiny letters, before shaking my head in defeat.  Kelli sighed deeply again.  “I’ll decide for you.  How about a latte?”

“That sounds good,” I said, relieved.  I didn’t know what a La Tay was, but I gave Kelli a grateful smile.

She avoided my gaze and pushed more buttons on the register.  “Will that be all?”

I suddenly remembered how drained Paw Paw looked.  He needed a drink too.  I didn’t feel like ordering any more coffee.  “I’d like a pop.”

“We don’t have pop,” Kelli said.  Her shoulders slumped.  “We have italian soda.”

Before I could ask what that was, I felt someone behind me.  My temples started throbbing.  As the pain increased, my muscles tensed into rigidity.

Kelli looked shocked.  I couldn’t turn around to see who had driven out the contempt from her eyes and replaced it with fear.

“Hello, Shivani,” a deep voice said.  I felt a chill down my spine.  “I’ve been looking for you for a very long time.”

“I know you,” Kelli whispered, as she took a step backwards.  Her head swiveled, as she leaned against the counter behind her and rested her hands on the surface.  I saw her slip something into her pocket.  “You tried to kidnap me when I was twelve.”

Her words made my stomach drop.  I wanted to grab Kelli and get her out of the cafe.  Frustrated, I focused on closing my fingers into a fist to take a swing at the person standing behind me.  Nothing happened.  I tried to lift my feet from the floor, but they were glued to the ground.  My arms remained motionless on each side of me.  I couldn’t even turn my head to see what the guy looked like.  I was just frozen in place, staring at Kelli, like a victim instead of a hero.

“Where are they?” the voice asked.  The air around me shifted as he moved into my range of vision.  I wanted to scream at Kelli to run, but no words left my mouth.

Kelli winced when he wrapped a hand around her long dark hair and yanked it backwards.  When she didn’t fight him, I wondered if she was stuck like I was.  But unlike me, she could still talk.  “Who?” she whispered.  “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“Tell me where they are, and I’ll be merciful,” he snarled, leaning over her.  The hood on his black cloak covered most of his face.  He grabbed her throat with one hand and dug into her hair with his other hand.  After a few seconds, she cried out.  Tears streamed down her face.  “Don’t fight me,” he said softly, when she cried out again.  His fingers traced her scalp.  “It hurts more when you resist.”

My heart pounded as Kelli whimpered.  I had to help her, but I still couldn’t move anything.  Not my arms, legs, shoulders or neck.  The stranger was breaking Kelli right in front of me, and nothing about me worked.

Except for my thoughts.  Suddenly, Paw Paw’s face flooded my mind.  Where are you, Paw Paw?  I need your help, I thought.  It felt like an eternity, before I heard someone else behind me.

“Let her go.”  It was Paw Paw.  Astonished, I watched Kelli sink behind the counter and the stranger slam into the wall.  I collapsed onto the floor, writhing in pain.  When I looked up, a woman in a hooded cloak knelt beside me.  She placed her hands on my temples.  Something warm seeped through me.  The pain receded, as I slowly flexed my arms and legs.  I could move again.

The stranger approached the woman from behind.  Before I could warn her, he lifted her up and threw her across the room.  I watched in horror as she landed on the floor in a crumpled heap.

“Get the girl out of here,” Paw Paw yelled at me, as he raced over to the woman.  I scrambled to my feet and rushed behind the counter.  I didn’t know where the stranger was, but Kelli was still lying on the floor.  I gently turned her head and looked at her face.  She was breathing, but unconscious.  I looked around for another way out.  There was a door behind the counter.  I bent over to pick Kelli up.  But before I could gather her in my arms, the stranger stood in front of me, blocking my path.

He took two steps towards me and stared at me.  His gaze narrowed.  “You’re one of them,” he said, tilting his head to study me.  A flash of insight told me that he hadn’t expected me.  My mind whirled, wondering how I could use this information.  But as I watched him, his eyes changed color.  They were molten gold, like Kelli’s.  I couldn’t look away.  He wrapped his fingers around my neck and whispered, “Maybe I was wrong about the girl.”  His eyes flashed, as his lips curved.  “Maybe you’re the one my master wants.”

My legs flailed as he lifted me off the ground.  Gasping, I tried to wrench myself free from his grasp.  His grip tightened.  I felt something burrowing through my chin.  It traveled along my jawline, up to my temples.  I wanted to cry out as the pain ripped through me.

“Where are your parents, boy?” the stranger’s deep voice was all I heard before blacking out.

 

Charlie Weaver And The Prophecy Of Doom

[Author’s Note:  This is satire.  Absurdity is the intent.]

When I looked around the large table, I saw the stunned faces of the Elders Council.  They stared at each other as the news registered.  After a few moments, I broke the silence.  “Are you sure?”

“Yes, Charlie,” Professor Pedantic nodded.  His bushy white eyebrows knit together.  “My sources have confirmed that the dwarfs are en route to the castle.”

“En route?” Shivani Roy repeated.  Despite the gravity of the situation, I tried not to grin.  Conversations were always entertaining when Shivani was annoyed.

The school’s head mistress, Professor Serenity looked at Pedantic.  Her tone was mildly disapproving.  “Really, Robert? They aren’t dwarves. They are Small-Statured Bharatians.”

“I don’t care what they are,” Director Fussybottom replied grimly.  He stood up and began pacing.  Also grimly.  “If they’re trying to enter the castle without a permit, then it’s a problem.”

“They need a permit to enter the castle?” Shivani asked.  She looked at me.  “Why don’t I have a permit?”

Professor Pedantic shot a withering glance in Shivani’s direction, before turning his attention to the director.  His head bobbed up and down like a doll.  “I agree with you, Director,” he nodded.  “We need to think of the children.”

“Heavens!  You’re right, Peddy.  What about the children?” Mistress Prissy Pants clucked before waving her hands to fan herself.  “I’m feeling a little faint.”  She rifled around the large bag on her lap and pulled out her smelling salts.

“There, there, Prissy,” Director Fussybottom replied in a baritone voice that echoed through the room.  “We’ll take care of the situation.”

Professor Pedantic pushed his chair back from the table and slowly stretched out to his full height.  He waited for everyone’s eyes to fall on him.  “I propose that we form a committee.”

“A committee?,” Shivani sputtered, as she stomped back to the table.  Her golden eyes flashed, as she gestured towards the window.  “Yes, that makes perfect sense.  Let’s form a committee while the dwarves storm the castle.”  She threw up her hands in disgust.  “We need to do something about this, not just sit around talking.”

General Hawkthorn stared at Shivani in surprise.  He nodded slowly.  “I agree with the girl.  We need to dispose of dwarves immediately.”  He turned to a Warrior named Samuel.  “How quickly can you assemble your men?”

Shivani shook her head.  “No, that’s not what I meant.”

I glanced out of the window.  The dwarfs still had to cross the moat and scale the castle wall to get into the school.  Before Shivani called Professor Pedantic or General Hawkthorn a moron or some other insult, I interjected.  “What type of committee?”

Shivani snapped her head at me and snarled.  “Charlie, are you freaking kidding me?”

I flushed, rattled by her tone.  I still didn’t understand all of her expressions, but it was obvious that she didn’t agree with me.

“Now, Miss Roy,” Director Fussybottom chided her.  “Being under attack is no excuse for bypassing protocol.  If you have a proposal, you must submit it to the committee.”

Shivani rolled her eyes and threw up her hands in disgust.  “But there is no committee!”

“That’s why I proposed that we form one,” Professor Pedantic smirked at her and pointed to the stack of papers in front of him.  “It’s in the handout.  Would you like one?”

Shivani and I heard the shrieks at the same time.  Both of us rushed to the window.  There was a dwarf trying to swim across the moat.  “This is ridiculous,” Shivani muttered.  “The dwarfs will be here any minute.”

“That’s why I’ve been asking you to build a bigger wall,” Miss Prissy’s lower lip quivered.    “But none of you listened to me.  And now we’re going to be overrun with dwarves.”  Her large brown eyes welled with tears.

“All the more reason to form the committee as soon as possible,” Director Fussybottom said mildly, as he handed her a tissue.  “Please raise your hands if you support Pedantic’s proposal.  All those in favor?”

Everyone except for Shivani raised a hand and said, “I.”  I winced when she looked at my traitorous hand with disgust.

“Excellent,” Fussybottom said, bringing down his gavel with relish.  “And who should lead this committee?”

“Oh, my God,” Shivani said, clenching her hands into fists.  “What on Earth is the point of this committee?”

“This isn’t Earth, dear,” Professor Pedantic said gently.  “You’re in Bharat.  Poor thing.  Do you need Miss Prissy’s smelling salts?”

Shivani scowled at Professor Pedantic.  Before she could reply, we heard a loud cry.  “AAAAAAAIIIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!!!!”

Shivani and I whirled around.  We looked out the window just in time to see a dwarf flying through the air towards the castle.  Both of us gasped as he slammed into the wall.  Director Fussybottom quickly approached the window.  We watched the dwarf slide down the wall into the moat.

“Heavens,” exclaimed Mistress Prissy Pants, placing one pudgy hand on her ample bosom.  “What was that?”

“The dwarves have some sort of contraption,” Director Fussybottom muttered, as he stared out the window.  Swarms of dwarfs were pushing a large wooden platform with wheels on it.  A small dwarf scrambled into something that looked like a scoop.

Shivani expelled a snort of disgust.  “It’s a catapult.  Don’t you people know anything?”

“Catapult?”  I said, bracing myself for her reply.  Shivani always tossed out these strange terms from her realm.  Sometimes, I had a feeling that she thought we were stupid for not understanding them.

“That poor little dwarf,” Shivani muttered, leaning halfway out the window.  “I hope he’s okay.”

Three dwarves jumped into the moat and dragged the unconscious one onto land.  One large dwarf scowled up at us from the other side of the moat.  When he saw us watching him from the tower window, he shook his fist and yelled something at us.  But we couldn’t hear what he was saying.

“A dwarf hit the wall,” Professor Pedantic repeated.  His ruddy cheeks turned pale as exchanged glances with Director Fussybottom.  “You know what this means, right?”

“Oh, no,” Mistress Prissy Pants whispered.  Her eyes widened.  “The prophecy?”

“Prophecy?”  Shivani repeated, as she returned to the table.  She crossed her arms and snickered.  “Well, this should be good.”

“What prophecy?” I asked with trepidation.  My body tensed.  Prophecies always meant trouble for heroes like myself.

“No,” Director Fussybottom shook his head.  “It can’t be.”

“But it makes sense,” Professor Serenity replied.  Her face suddenly looked weary.  “I hate to admit it, but Pedantic may be right.”

The walls of the tower shook as another dwarf slammed into the castle wall.  Their aim was getting better.

“Oh, dear,” Miss Prissy wailed.  Her lower lip began to quiver again.  “Loud noises wreak havoc on my nerves.  I may have to lie down if this doesn’t stop soon.”

“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?  What prophecy?”  Shivani demanded.

Director Fussybottom sighed and walked over to his large desk at the opposite end of the room.  He opened the top drawer and pulled out something before walking back to us at the table.  As we stood up and gathered around him, he unrolled a scroll.  A very old, faded, dusty scroll of yellow parchment paper.  He read the words out loud:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

This is a prophecy

So it must be true

There were murmurs of agreement.  This prophecy was filled with wisdom.  I didn’t want to miss a single word, so I focused all of my attention on the crumpled piece of paper as Fussybottom continued.

Beware of the dwarf

When it first hits the wall

It’s a sign of life changes

For one and for all

“Heavens,” Miss Prissy gasped, reaching for her smelling salts.  She opened her mouth to say something, but Director Fussybottom held up his hand.  She remained silent as he continued.

A Warrior, A Weaver

A Seer and More

Must follow the call

And walk out the door

Some will live

Some will die

Some will smile

Some will cry

What more can I say

To those in this room

Go on this quest

Or perish in doom

The Elders all stared at each other in horror as the words of the prophecy registered.  My mind whirled as I tried to make sense of it.

“Let me see this,” Shivani said, snatching up the parchment to study it closely.

“But what does this mean?”  Miss Prissy whimpered, reaching into her bag.  She pulled out a large handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes.  “Are we all going to die?”

“Wait a second.  It mentioned something about a weaver,” I said, frowning.  My stomach started to churn as I realized something profound.  “My name is Charlie Weaver.  Am I the weaver in this prophecy?”

“Oh, for goodness sakes,” Shivani said, waving the prophecy at us.  “Have any of you really looked at this?  Whoever wrote it has really bad handwriting.”  She rolled her golden eyes.  “And it’s written in crayon.  How am I supposed to take this seriously?”

I could tell that Shivani wasn’t taking this prophecy very seriously.  “Shivani, this isn’t funny.  You’re a warrior and I’m a weaver.  We need to go on this quest.”

“Well done, Charlie,” Professor Pedantic nodded with approval.  I admit that I glowed under his compliment.  “I think you’ve interpreted one part of the prophecy.”

“What quest?”  Shivani started laughing.  Tears streamed out of her eyes.  “The whole thing is ridiculous.  Where are we supposed to go?  What are we looking for?  The whole thing is a complete joke.”  She plopped down on a chair, laughing hysterically.

The Elders all stared at Shivani, some with open disapproval.  Professor Pedantic shook his head.  “These are matters for the committee to evaluate,” he said, which sent Shivani into another fit of laughter.

“You may think this is a joke, Miss Roy, but we take our prophecies very seriously in Bharat,” Director Fussybottom said sternly.

First, There Was Harry Potter. Then, Percy Jackson. Now, Meet Charlie Weaver.

[Author’s note:  This is satire.  Absurdity is the intent.]

Hi.  My name is Charlie Weaver.  I am a hero and this is my journey.

First, I was born, which goes without saying.  I have no memories of my parents, because what good hero does?  My Aunt Bertha told me that a stranger dropped me off on her doorstep when I was a baby.  I’m not sure if she’s telling me the truth.  It wouldn’t be the first time that she’s lied.  But I do know that I’ve been living with her for as long as I can remember.

My story begins on a typical Tuesday morning.  I woke up to the shrill voice of Aunt Bertha.

“Charlie Weaver, you better get your butt out of bed right now, or I’m gonna skin you alive!  Them cows ain’t gonna milk themselves!”

“Coming, Aunt Bertha,” I called out, as I scrambled to find my milking clothes in the toolbox that I used as a makeshift dresser.  I dressed quickly, pulling out the stray pieces of straw from my hair.  I raced down the loft ladder.

Aunt Bertha stood in the barn door, glaring at me.  She was carrying Baby Susie in her left arm, and had my little cousin Tobey by the scruff of his neck with her right hand.

“Boy, what are you thinking?  Sleepin’ in this late on a school day,” she grumbled, adjusting Cousin Susie’s position in her arms.  Susie emitted on ear-shattering shriek, before starting to wail.  “Now look what you done.”

Whap!  I felt the blow on the back of my head.  “You made the baby cry.  She’s hungry.  I coulda been feedin’ her right now, if I didn’t have to come out here and haul your lazy ass out of bed.  Now go get the pail and get the milk.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said, as I followed her and the kids into into the kitchen.  I rubbed the back of my head, which still stung a little.

“Now, Martha, go easy on the boy,” Paw Paw Joe chided mildly from the breakfast table.  His spectacles slid down his nose as he flipped through the obituary section of the newspaper.

“You shut yer yap, old man,” Aunt Bertha snarled.  “I ain’t Martha.  I’m Bertha.  Martha’s been dead for a long time.”  She strapped the wailing Susie into the high chair at the table.  Tobey climbed up onto the chair next to Paw Paw and helped himself to a handful of Paw Paw’s crackers.  Aunt Bertha saw him and removed the bowl from the table.  Tobey responded by throwing himself onto the floor and howling.

“Aw, hell,” Aunt Bertha muttered, while she tried to pick Tobey up from the floor.

I quickly pocketed two biscuits while Aunt Bertha’s back was turned.  Paw Paw saw me, winked, and slipped me an apple.  I smiled gratefully and added it to my stash before reaching for the pail.  A glance inside made me groan inwardly.  There was a hole in the bucket.  My stomach tightened, as I braced myself for another smack upside the head.  “Um, Aunt Bertha, is there another bucket?”

She scowled at me, as Tobey continued to shriek.  “Do I look like I have money to buy another bucket?  Use that one.”

“But,” I began timidly.

“Boy, I thought you were supposed to be smart,” Aunt Bertha rolled her eyes at me.  “Use your thumb to cover the hole.”

Her sarcasm stung.  I didn’t want get hit again, so I just nodded and left.  School started in a few hours.  My history class was going on a field trip to the World History Museum.  I loved field trips.  This was the one day that I didn’t want to be late for school.

The walk to the pasture was at least one mile.  I kept staring at the hole in the bucket as I munched on the biscuits.  There was no way I could carry all of that milk without losing it to the hole.  Aunt Bertha would beat the living daylights out of me if I came back with less than a pail of milk.  But what could I use to patch up the bucket?

I was so worried about the hole that I didn’t notice that I was being watched.

As I walked through our grazing pasture, I looked around for our milking cow, Clarabelle.  She was nowhere to be seen.  I had a sinking feeling that she may have wandered off again.  My fears were confirmed when I saw the broken boards in the fence surrounding my family’s small property.

“Clarabelle,” I called out, as I hopped over the fence.  This wasn’t good.  Our neighbor, Mr. O’Toole, had already threatened to shoot Clarabelle the next time he caught her eating any of his prize-winning squash.  I had to find her before he did.

“Here, girl,” I shouted, as I landed in a large, ankle-deep puddle.  Although I was wearing Paw Paw’s knee-high rubber boots, which offered some protection, my pants were already splattered with mud.  I made a mental note to hose myself off before going to school.  “Clarabelle, where are you, girl?”

Suddenly, I heard a voice in my head.  I’m over here, Charlie Weaver.  By the golden apple tree on the hill.

I don’t know why, but something mysterious prompted me to run towards the tree.  The voice was right.  Lo and behold, there was Clarabelle, calmly munching on some apples.  The large brown cow looked at me reproachfully.  What took you so long?  My udder is full.

I stopped and stared at her.  Did her lips just move?  As I scratched my head, thoroughly confused, I wondered what was wrong with me.  Was I hallucinating?  Why could I understand what Clarabelle was thinking?

Clarabelle made a sound like a moan.  Well, Charlie, don’t just stand there like a gawking at me like a ninny.  Milk me.  She swung her head towards the tree.  There’s a stool over there.  Hurry up.

Something propelled me to grab the stool from under the tree, set the pail down, and start milking her.  Clarabelle emitted a loud sigh of relief.  In the middle of milking, I heard a noise behind me.  It sounded like mooing.

Who be your friend, Clarabelle?

Your friend, who he be?

Two beautiful Jersey cows walked around me and stood on either side of Clarabelle.  The larger one was all black, while the other one had a shiny black coat with large white spots.  They both watched me with eyes that were surprisingly human in expression.

Clarabelle mooed her response.  That’s Charlie Weaver.  He’s my caretaker.

The cow with the spots watched me as I finished milking Clarabelle.  She turned to Clarabelle and tilted her head in my direction.  Milk me, can he?  Full udder I have.

And I also, Clarabelle.  Full udder I also have.

I wiped the sweat from my forehead before pulling the pail out from under Clarabelle.  The milk immediately started to leak from the hole in the bucket.  I quickly placed my thumb over it and wondered how I would make it all the way back to the house without losing any milk.

Thank you, Charlie Weaver.  Can you milk my friends as well?

A loud guttural sound emitted crossed my lips without effort.  It took me a few moments to realize that I was conversing with the cows in their native tongue.  In short, I was mooing my responses.

“I’m sorry, Clarabelle, but I can’t.  My bucket is full,” I held up the pail and tapped it with the side of my head.  “Although it won’t be full for long, because of this stupid hole.”

Clarabelle looked at me thoughtfully for a moment before speaking again.  If I can fix your bucket, will you milk my friends? 

I looked at the sun rising in the East.  Based on its position in the sky, I estimated that I had a few hours before school started.  So I shrugged.  “Sure, I can milk your friends too.  But how will I carry their milk in this bucket?  Should I dump yours out?”

No, no, Clarabelle shook her head and spat out an apple core.  You must keep all of the milk that you collect in your bucket.  You will need it later.

I had no idea what she was talking about.  “Well, whatever,” I shrugged again, swiping my sweaty forehead with my sleeve.  “I’ve got school, so let’s just get this done.  Which of you wants to go first?”

The cow with the white spots approached me after Clarabelle moved away from the stool.  First I will go.

The other cow nodded and stepped behind her.  Go you shall first.

I began milking the cow with the white spots.  I could feel a surge of adrenaline as I reached for her teat.  When the first drops of milk hit the pail, an eerie calm settled over me.  I just lowered my head and focused on the milk.

Even though I was consumed by the milk, a part of me could still feel the tremors of the earth as a herd of cattle descended on our group.  Voices echoed in my head.  Milk you he will.

And I did.  It felt as if time stood still.  I just kept on milking one cow after another until no more cows stood in front of the stool.  After the last cow walked off into the meadow, I collapsed onto the ground.  I felt utterly exhausted after milking what must have been over 100 cows.

Clarabelle nudged my foot with her nose.  You have our gratitude, Charlie Weaver.

Both of the Jersey cows nodded their agreement.  Our gratitude you have, Charlie Weaver.

A boon we will give you.

Give you a boon, we will.

As I lay in the cool, comforting mud, I stared up at the sky and whispered,  “What’s a boon?”

Clarabelle, to her credit, did not roll her large brown eyes at me.  “A gift for your services.”

Shivani Roy And The Demon King Of Lanka (A Plot Twist?)

Shivani stood in the empty hall, staring at Patrick.  What he was saying was impossible.

“If you want to help them, then you have to choose,” Patrick said, as pulled out a key from his pocket.  Shivani heard the click and he unlocked the door.  He held it open for her once it swung open.  “And it has to be your choice alone.”

“But, I’m not ready,” Shivani protested.  It was too soon.  Her mind still whirled from his revelation.  She needed more time to prepare.  Her stomach tightened as she followed him into the large dark room.  It looked like a library, with its shelves that spanned the walls from the floor to the ceiling.  “I didn’t even finish the school year.”

“I know.  I wish that we had more time,” Patrick said, frowning at her.  He flicked on the light switch.  His concern was obvious, as he placed his hands on her shoulders.  “I wouldn’t normally ask you to choose yet, but we need your help.”  He dropped his hands from her shoulders and walked over to a panel on the wall behind the desk.  “And we need it now.”

“Why can’t you come with me?” Shivani pleaded.  There was no way she could do this by herself.

“I wish I could go with you,” Patrick said.  A part of him was tempted to accompany her.  “I really do.  But I can’t.”

“Why not?” she demanded.

Patrick sighed.  There were two reasons, but he would only tell her what she needed to know.  “They know me.  As soon as I enter that realm, the energy will shift.  They have Seers who will recognize the change the minute I arrive.  But you have a chance to get in there undetected.”

“But you can disguise yourself,” Shivani protested.  There was a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that she would lose this argument.  But she persisted.  “You can make them see what you want them to.”

“It’s not that simple,” Patrick replied, shaking his head.  “Humans in this realm are unaware.  It’s much easier for me to manipulate energy here.  But the Devas and Asuras aren’t so easily deceived.  It takes more energy to hide from them.”

Shivani couldn’t admit defeat so easily.  She needed Patrick by her side for her first trip to Bharat.  “What difference does it make if they do discover you?  They can’t hurt you.”

“No, they can’t hurt me,” Patrick replied, and looked her straight in the eye.  It was time to tell her the truth.  “But they can hurt your parents.”

Shivani started at his words.  “My parents?” she repeated, frowning.  “What does this have to do with my parents?  They’re dead.”

Patrick studied the emotions that flitted across her face.  He had to tell her.  It was the only way she would be ready to face the situation in Bharat.  “What do you know about your parents?”

“Well,” Shivani hesitated.  “Not a lot.  I mean, the people at the agency told me that I was left at an orphanage in India when I was a baby.”

“And?” Patrick tilted his head.  He leaned against the desk and crossed his arms.  “What else did they tell you?”

As Patrick’s gaze narrowed, it occurred to Shivani that she had never questioned the story.  “Not much more than that,” Shivani shrugged.  “Just that an American couple adopted me and brought me to this country.  But they were killed in a car accident when I was little.  No one else wanted to adopt me.  So I went back into the foster care system.”  Shivani studied the floor.  It sounded so much more pathetic when she said it out loud.  She didn’t like that at all.  “I’ve been there ever since then.”

“So, no one knew who left you at the orphanage?” Patrick persisted.  He suspected what her answer would be, but wanted to make sure.

“No,” Shivani whispered.  Was it possible that her parents were still alive?  That they were the ones who left her at the orphanage?  Her heart started beating wildly.

Patrick knew what she was thinking.  He hated to crush her hopes, but she had to know.  “They weren’t the ones who dropped you off at the orphanage,” he said softly.  He winced when he saw the light go out of her eyes.

Shivani’s shoulders slumped.  He was probably right, but that small sliver of hope prompted her to question him.  “How do you know that?  Did you see it?”

Patrick hesitated.  It didn’t take his Seer’s abilities to see that Shivani wasn’t going to respond well to the truth.  What was the best way to approach this revelation?  “I guess you could say that.”

“Oh,” Shivani muttered, disappointed.  Patrick’s visions were always accurate.  “Did you see what happened in a vision?”

“No,” Patrick replied.  “It wasn’t a vision.”  When Shivani looked at him with confusion, he gave up his feeble attempts at tactful disclosure.  “It was me, Shivani,” he stood up and looked into the golden eyes that reminded him so much of someone else he had once loved.  “I’m the one who left you at the orphanage in India.”