Posted tagged ‘mjbrewer’

The Gypsy’s Dream

June 2, 2012

In a place far away, a long time ago, a poor penniless lad wanders the countryside in search of shelter, for he no longer has guardians to care for him as they came to an untimely end.  On one particular day, in the thick of the woods, he hears a young man singing gaily beyond the clomp-clomping of the hoofs of the rider’s horse. Hastily, he dives into a nearby bush to observe. 

 At first, certain his hunger and exhaustion are causing hallucinations, he pinches himself in disbelief.   The exquisitely dressed lad could be his identical twin, save a good scrubbing behind the ears and a sharp blade for a haircut.  His curiosity overwhelms him as he steps out into the clearing.

“Hi-ho there!” he greets cheerfully, putting on his best smile to see the surprise on the other man’s face who undoubtedly makes the same observation.

“What Tom-foolery is this?” the prince demands, lifting his head haughtily as he peers down his nose, “a changeling perhaps to steal a prince’s soul?”

“Quite the contrary, my lord,” the gypsy corrects him and gets an idea at the words, “I am but a doppelganger sent by a fairy in order to allow you bits of well-deserved freedom, I am.”

“How so, doppelganger?” the interest sparks as the prince dismounts his horse to approach the vagabond, carefully eyeing him up and down.

“On the days you need relief from your mundane and orderly tasks, I am here to give you rest.  Meanwhile,  you may wander the land for as long as you like, relishing your freedom.  But, in order to mask your identity, we will need to switch clothing of course.”

The prince walks near the teenager and again sizes him up to be identical, except for the wafting stench emanating from his pores.  Pausing, he chuckles and turns to his steed, “Although the offer is but a tempting one, I shall endure the treacheries of my tedious life in order to escape the stink of being impoverished.  Good day.”

Before he can mount his horse, the destitute boy gathers a heavy stone and hits the prince in the back of the head.  Confusion racks the prince’s face as he turns to see his assailant.  Rubbing the back of his head with his hand, he brings it forward covered in blood.  “Why did you do that?” he asks before receiving his final crowning.

The pauper wastes no time cleaning up as best he can in a nearby stream and changing into the prince’s clothes.  He does his best to scrub the spots of blood from the bodice, yet finds he cannot, leaving him with only one painful option.  After disposing of the body, he crowns himself, but not as hard and with a rock quite a bit smaller.

“The prince!  The prince!” a woman screams as he enters the courtyard, “Praise the gods he’s returned!”  Before he could fathom what is happening, peasants and knaves surround him and help him from his trusty horse’s back.

“You’ve been gone for nearly a week, your highness!” a man tells him.

“Where have you been?” yet another throws in.  And soon he is drowning in questions so much that the fatigue, hunger and commotion get the better of him and he collapses.

When he awakens, he feels fresh and alive, and the reflection in his mirror as he rises in bed tells him why.  He truly is the prince’s doppelganger!  No sooner does he cross the room to inspect even more closely than the door to his room flies open.

“Your highness,” his servant addresses, “Despite your search of the countryside for the fairest maiden in the land, we’ve finally located her.”  And he sets off at once to meet the happily ever after to his already fulfilling life.  He smirks to himself as his life becomes better and better.

The new kingdom greets him as he enters the gates with his men at his side, as his people no longer allow him to travel alone and pray for the return of his memory.  This is a day long awaited as he dismounts and follows his hosts into the castle, up many flights of stairs into a room full of roses and ivy.

In the middle of the room is a chiffon-adorned bed with a velvet-embellished bedspread and pillows.   The most exquisite face he’s ever seen is sitting high upon the pillows.  The tresses of long, twisting hair stretch about her like the autumn rays of sunshine.  Her pale skin accented by her flush pink cheeks and ever so plump lips.  Her breast heaves slowly and rhythmically as his mind draws a blank, leaving him speechless.

“We’ve been searching for you high and low so you can awaken our princess,” the queen says from behind him.  “She needs but one true kiss from a prince to break the spell.”

Approaching the bed, he leans over the fair maiden while the rest of the royal families, from her side and his, surround him to watch.  Her lips are so inviting as he plants a long, wet kiss on them and tumbles lifelessly on the floor in a heap.

“He must still be exhausted,” says his father, the king, “He’s had a rough week.”

But when the king’s wizard approaches the boy and checks for a pulse, he turns sadly around, “Your son is dead.”

And so Princess Aurora slept for another hundred years before her real Prince Charming found her and this time, because he truly was a prince, and they lived happily ever after.

The Three Dresses (a fairytale)

June 2, 2012

Once upon a time, in a place not so far away from where you are right now, a huge gathering was about to take place.  When the town’s bell tolls, the town crier sparks out with the news that in exactly one year the handsome prince will choose his bride, who cannot be of ordinary descent.  The prince has heard stories of the marked girl who is his wife to be and in celebration of this great day, a feast and festival will take place.  Of course, the revelation of the mark is discrete. This announcement drives the entire town crazy and all of the single women set to work deciding what she will wear and how she will accessorize it. 

When the knock at the door is heard, a courier hands each potential bride a notice that states simply, “The truest and chastest of women will display herself in front of the prince for thirty seconds.  During this period, she is to remain silent.” At the bottom of the note a declaration states, “Every maiden shall wear a dress she crafts herself that tells the story of who she is as these will be her words.”

Some of the maidens think this a joke and laugh before closing the door, while others become angry as they have no tailoring skills and find the competition unjust.  But one home, with three sisters who are very different from each other, is alive with conversation right away as they begin discussing their ideas for their own dresses.  When they finish their talking, they each run to their rooms to get to work immediately. 

The first one, Theresa, searches through books to find the dress she finds the most attractive and then closes her eyes to imagine how it will look on her.  The dress she finds to dream about is a bright yellow velvet.  While she thinks about the dress, she slowly falls into slumber, giggling as her fading off convinces her she will undoubtedly win.

The oldest sister, Susan, goes to her room and decides she wants something vivacious to bring out the tones in her skin and to slim down her somewhat full figure.  She decides to purchase a captivating floral pattern from the shop down the way and create her own breathtaking masterpiece.  Snatching her purse, she heads to the store straight away to shop for an entrancing pattern.

The smallest sister, Stephanie, grabs her purse in order to go shopping in the next town.  She isn’t exactly sure what her dress will look like, but she’s insistent on beginning now.  She’s fully aware that the Hart’s Corner Lot on the mulberry farm has just what she needs.

Over the course of the next year, Theresa wins a kite-flying contest and her pumpkin comes in second at the state fair.  Two nights before the ball, she sits chewing her nails and pulling at her long and stringy hair, when she goes to the window and gets an idea.  “Of course,” she cries out as if the most wonderful idea she’s ever had has struck her silly, “It’s right in front of my face and has been the entire time!”  As quickly as she can muster, she runs outside.

Several months before Theresa gets her incredibly great idea, Susan gets around to making her own dress, but has serious issues trying to follow the pattern.  After all, there are so many numbers, dots and funny little arrows on the patterns, who can make sense of it all?  But still, in a year, she ought to be able to make quite the dress.  She’s has so much to learn.

The day after hearing the announcement, Stephanie leaves her home and walks to the mulberry farm. Her heart is set on the tools she needs for the essential gown.  She has written everything down meticulously on a piece of paper and pulls it out several times to ensure she doesn’t miss anything.  But now she has the supreme goal; a goal that will take a year to bring full-circle, if she works hard.  All she needs now are the worms.

A year after the announcement, the night before the big event, all three women are sweating profusely, ensuring everything is correct so they she will stand out amongst the throng of women presenting themselves in front of the prince.  They convene in their front room, each certain her gown will be the best, at least in this house.  With the gown of her making embellishing her body, each woman reeks with confidence.

Theresa’s sweeping gown decorated with an array of gorgeous daffodils, the rarest of yellow Licorice Tea Roses, and a delight of Queen’s Lace lining the neckline, smells as sweet as a flourishing garden.  Not only did she string the flowers together herself, but the composition is especially soft to the touch.  Surely, she thinks, he won’t be able to keep his hands and nose away.  She has to admit, it doesn’t look bad for two days worth of work!  And although the neighbors may be upset about the ravaging of their gardens, they will certainly change their minds when they see the beauty their foliage has produced.

The second sister, Susan enters the room with her dress.  After hours of attempting to decipher the plans and even basic details of constructing it, she ends up going back to what she’s comfortable with and knows like the back of her hand; yarn.  Because she doesn’t really need to learn anything new, she procrastinates until a few months before the party. 

Susan manages to crochet a variegated dress from several skeins of the softest Buttercup Yarn.  The dress is mostly a soft blue with dabs of the lightest pink, yellow, green and white woven into the threads.  Although the heaviness of the dress is weighty, she is certain she’ll have no issues wearing it, as long as she only dances once.  (Of course, when the prince dances with her, it will undoubtedly be his last dance as well.)

Finally, Stephanie enters the room and the light glimmers off each strand of white silk intricately woven into the finest material as she glides across the floor.  The bodice is form fitting as it spreads like an evening snow, gently over the floor.  The back of the dress swoops down to a tease at the base of her spine, the perfect place for a man to position his hands.

 If the words each is thinking are to be tangible objects, none of them will be able to see the other, as their heads are threatening to explode in conversation.  Their grins produce acceptance, but their eyes reflect abhorrence as Theresa and Susan spin to quickly leave the room and strategize their hairstyles and makeup.  Each wants to be ravishing.  Stephanie takes a seat and reflects on the hard work and time put into her creation.  She smiles with contentment, as even if the prince doesn’t choose her, it’s evident to all who lay eyes on her the effort contained in her design.  With a grateful sigh, she gets up to undress and put her ball gown in the closet.  She knows she finally deserves a goodnight’s sleep.

The following evening, the ladies agree to enter the ball together and assemble at the front door to leave.  Theresa and Susan’s hair designs have pins, baubles, flowers and beads of various means.  But Stephanie’s blond locks braided together with a single silk ribbon that trails down her spine, accenting the revelation of her smooth skin. 

Taking a deep breath in preparation to leave, thunder crashes outside, causing their faces to drain as worry sets in.  “All of our work will be for nothing if we don’t go now,” is the only sentence that can be heard, “Perhaps if we hurry, we can beat the storm.”  Boldly, Stephanie opens the door to leave.

Not to be outdone by their youngest sister, Theresa and Susan glance at each other and follow her into the windy air.  No sooner do they walk into the middle of the street than the wind kicks up blowing papers, leaves and sticks around in a flurry. 

The girls’ dresses are jerking violently back and forth before the dress fabricated of lace and daffodils shreds from her body, revealing her tightly laced corset and underpants.  The flowers and beads rip from her chocolate-colored hair, leaving Theresa devastated.  The gusts also manage a number on Susan’s hair, while the silky ribbon woven into Stephanie’s hair twirls wildly in the wind.  Out of sheer embarrassment, and knowing she cannot participate in the state she is in, Theresa sobs as she hightails it back to her home to sulk.

The two sisters clasp hands and although Stephanie feels badly for Theresa, she realizes that turning back now would be fruitless, so she toils onward.  Susan laughs in her low and throaty laugh, “That’s at least one out of the running, eh, Stephanie?”  No sooner did those words escape her lips than the rain tumbles down in torrents.  Through the sheets of rain, the castle lights are visible ahead and the women continue.

When they arrive, the opening has a surplus of women waiting to enter, some of them a little less cordial than others, as Susan enters the throngs.  “Excuse me!” she chimes in with the rest of the impatient women, “Excuse me!”  A few women are hit in the gut, sashes torn, and toes crushed as the hungry piranhas impatiently fight for their rights.

Pushing her way through, and dragging her sister behind her by the hand, Susan finally emerges into the courtyard.  The beautifully fluffy yarn that titivates her is nothing more than burdensome strings dragging across the mud and dirt.  In addition, her hair has lost the full curls she painstakingly rolled up the night before.  “Argh!” she screams, trying her best to walk to the long stairway that leads to the entrance of the ball, “My dress is too heavy, but I can do this… I can do this… I… I can’t!”  She sits down in the mud, presumably waiting to dry so she can make her way back home.

Aside from being wet and having her dress moistened, Stephanie appears unscathed.  She feels it unnecessary to apply make-up so once the water dries, she is as good as new.  The crowd of women is far less than the village contains, presumably due to the same daunting circumstances as her sisters.  Standing in the doorway, Stephanie takes in the room, searching for someone she knows as she waits in line for her own turn to dance with the prince.

Skimming over each face, her eyes finally fall on the prince, even more handsome than she had envisioned.  His white tuxedo matches her gown as he strolls toward her.  Taking her by the hand, he smiles warmly.  They dance for what seems like forever, but still for no time at all, and then the lights dim down.

“Your gown, is divine,” he assures her, his voice satiny and low, “as is the woman inside.”  She can’t help but blush as she feels his hand tighten about her waist, across the open back as he twirls her around.  He allows his eyes to take in her beauty, the gentle curve of her neck, the crevasse between her shoulders and the soft bow of her tailbone just beneath a purple birthmark in the shape of a heart. 

Stephanie never knew about the premonition of the heart, but she did know that if not for the help of her silkworm friends, none of this would be possible.  All it took was a bit of patience, planning, and determination.

What Happened to the Eighth Dwarf?

May 31, 2012

Throughout history, there are many stories to teach us lessons by warning us of bad things that will undoubtedly happen should we choose not to change our ways.  One of the most devastating stories, fallen through the cracks of time, has one of the most valuable lessons of all.   It’s the story about the Seven Dwarfs, or the Eight Dwarfs as they were originally known, long before Snow White enters the picture with her ridiculously poisoned apple.

The dwarfs all grew up together because they have the same mom.   Winifred was not a dwarf, but the typical every day girl who typically did nursing chores in caring for the villager’s children while they cooked and cleaned for their husbands.   Her husband was a dwarf, but left her destitute when he found he was not only going to be the father of eight children, but of eight male octupulets.  Not a dream for any sane man.

As the boys tumble about in their crib, they roll around for days waiting for a name, and soon they each find his own through his actions.  Happy is always cheerful and giving; Sneezy always seems to have a cold; and Grumpy is never content no matter what exceptions are made for him, but some people are just that way.  Bashful never volunteers for anything and can turn more shades of color than the Northern Lights, which is especially fun to tease on the boys’ birthday.  Sleepy cannot stay awake long enough to finish an entire meal without falling into his plate due to an extreme case of narcolepsy.  Dopey has difficulty keeping a conversation straight, much less contributing to it in a meaningful manner and Doc, the leader of the bunch who was literally born with gray hair, always cares and worries for his brothers.  Being the first one born, naturally makes him the eldest of the brothers.  This leaves but one brother unaccounted for, the eighth brother, Greedy.    He didn’t live very long at all.

Every day the dwarves work for hours on end, mining for ore, iron, coal and on occasion even gold.  One day as they are walking home after a very long day in the mine, Dopey stops to grab a flower for his mother, but what he actually plucks is not a flower at all, but the feather of a chickadee’s tail.  The little bird cheeps loudly and makes such a commotion all of the dwarfs hear it and come running over to witness poor Dopey receiving “what for” from the bird.  Of course, being as lame-minded as he is, Dopey has no idea what is going on until Doc listens closely and interprets to the others. 

Doc reiterates to his brothers that if they can help it replace its feather, as he is off -balance now and will not be able to fly, he will take them to a mine far better than any they’ve ever mined before.  They are all excited, as can be imagined, except for Sleepy who missed the whole conversation.  They were anxious to begin and immediately set out to help the chickadee resolve its issue.  They try glue, string, wire and everything under the sun to attach the feather back to the tail end of the bird to no avail.  Finally, Doc invents a new way to balance out the bird’s tail with an array of leaves fastened onto a harness that cinches around the bird like a girdle.  Sure, it isn’t attractive, but we all know sometimes “form and function” don’t always complement each other, and we have to do what works. 

The bird is so grateful and forgiving of the dwarves that it tells them to meet tomorrow at the same place immediately after work to discover something so big, they will hardly have to work again.  The dwarves are really happy then, and even Grumpy smiles enough to prove he still has his own teeth.  (This was a running bet for a while between his brothers, but fell short when their mother found out about it and gave them a tongue-lashing.)

The following day, the dwarves go to work singing their Hi-Ho song, picks and shovels slung over their shoulders and work their little dwarf buns off.  About two hours before time to leave, Greedy tells his brother, Doc, he isn’t feeling well and needs to go home and get some sleep so he will be ready when they all meet the chickadee later.  Doc feels badly, but wants to ensure all of the brothers get to participate in the unveiling of their reward.   He tells him that if he doesn’t feel better in time, they will still gladly share the reward.  “Brothers are brothers!” he says cheerily, patting Greedy on the back.

Refusing to waste a moment’s breath, Greedy slips out of the cave and scampers off to the place they are to meet the chickadee.  He finds a bush and climbs beneath it, setting his pick to the side, and waits.  Not much time passes before the little chickadee arrives and appears puzzled as its little head cocks back and forth around the brush and grasses.  “They asked me to come ahead and meet you during the daylight hours so I could more easily guide them at dusk,” he explains, but the bird just cocks its head this way and that, peering at him through beady eyes.  Eventually, realizing the bird would never understand him, because unlike Doc, he has no ability to communicate in the bird’s own tongue, he stands to leave.

Just as he gathers himself and gets to his feet, the bird turns tail and begins to hop, instead of fly away.  It stops a few feet away and turns back as if to ensure its newest companion is close behind.  The chickadee flies and flits on branches as Greedy walks for at least an hour, before they finally arrive at a cluster of trees around a very large boulder.  The bird hops onto the boulder and begins to peck at it.  “Is that where the treasure is?” Greedy asks eagerly, and is pleased as the bird hops up and down emphatically. 

The opening has a large boulder in front of it and after leveraging his pick to force it open, several times, he succeeds in rolling it out just enough to squeeze inside.  He flips on his headgear’s light and finds himself speechless as he sees walls encrusted with diamonds!  Glorious diamonds of all sizes glittering about him.  He’s certain some of them would be too large to carry without breaking them up.  He is so surprised he almost forgets his plan before he turns to see the bird hopping along the floor searching for bugs.  With a swift arch of his back, he brings the pick down full-force right through the little bird’s back.  Its tail, they had worked so hard to repair, twitches on the ground before its legs stop moving and it lies motionless.

“I’ve worked my whole life for a find such as this,” Greedy cheerfully announces at the top of his lungs, jumping up and down like a mad man, and hooting and hollering for all he was worth.  A low rumble, soft enough not to be heard at first, creeps louder and louder until he realizes the predicament he will soon be in if he doesn’t hurry.  But unable to move as fast as he needs to, the boulder in front of the door trembles until leaning snuggly against the opening.  Additional rubble falls from the ceiling in front of the opening as a bonus sealant.

“My brothers will never find me, I’m too far away,” he sobs.  “The bird cannot tell them where I am for it is dead.”  He sits and thinks for a moment before aiming his helmet’s light about the cave in order to find his pick.  Relief sweeps over him as he walks over and gathers his tool under his arm, walking away from where the opening had been and back to the glitteriest spot of the cave.  “Just whistle while you work,” he sings as he chops with his pick.  He continues hammering away at the walls, collecting all sorts of diamonds until his light dims down and disappears.  “… forget your troubles, try to be just like the cheerful chickadee.”

The Break

May 29, 2012

The day couldn’t possibly get any longer as the nurse nears the counter to sign out, at least that’s what she is thinking.  “Hey, Bailey,” the head nurse calls from behind her as her fingers grasp the clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other, “I hate to do this to you, but we need you to stay for another hour.”

Incredible!  Didn’t they realize she was only human?  “Please, I really need to get some sleep,” she begins, “I’ve been on the clock for over twelve hours and I came to work straight from picking up my daughter at the airport–spring break, you know.”

“Yeah, I know all about it,” she shakes her head, “but we really need you here.  Sorry.”  Her superior doesn’t sound sorry, and doesn’t even pause before walking away.  The feelings she’s having are irrational, but that doesn’t matter now.  Nothing matters but her job, she reminds herself.

The ER doors fly open and the paramedics pull in a loaded gurney and rush past her, down the hall.  “Bailey, follow them down there and make sure we’ve got everything ready in the OR.  The medics can fill you in on the specifics.”

She rushes to the OR where the men are moving things aside to make room for the gurney. The patient is lying on the bed with bleeding and open wounds amidst purple and red tissue.  Where the mouth belongs is a hole where an air tube squeezes inside to keep the esophagus from closing off. 

Another nurse pokes her head in the door and one of the men approaches her.  They whisper for a bit before he turns around to say, “They say they it’s a streetwalker from the subway.  Apparently, she lost her footing–probably drunk or on drugs, I’d say.”

“Thanks for bringing her in,” is her cold response, “There’s nothing more to do until the surgeon gets here than keep her calm and find a vein for the IV.”  She begins to search the flesh on the right arm and then the left, with no luck.  “Damn waste of life, anyway,” she murmurs, forcing the IV into her arm.

As if in answer to her, the one good eye pops open to reveal a pool of blue, surrounded by the grotesque parasite who owns it.  The eye widens and stares at her, as if trying to speak because the only audible noise is the moist gasping of the air hose in her trachea. 

“It’s because of vermin like you that my sweet Margo is sitting home alone tonight.”  She steps toward the bed, looking directly into the eye that’s watching her when the door pops open. 

“All prepped?” the surgeon asks, heading back to the sink, “The anesthesiologist is due any minute.  Let’s get this show on the road, kids!”

Approaching the patient again, her hands reach out and grasp the tube supplying the junky with life.  She tips it to the side so it sucks against the interior of her throat, cutting off her air.  Panic strikes the patient, unable to move due to the straps and her eye grows large in fear.  Finally, the singular eyeball quits moving, and stares into nothing. The wheezing stops.

“They found her wallet,” the doctor says approaching the table, “Turns out she isn’t a hooker after all, but some college girl taking the subway to meet her mom for lunch.  License says Margo Bailey.  Hey, isn’t that your last name?”

Lifting the damaged hand, she can see her daughter’s class ring with her initials surrounding the sapphire, MRB.