A Friday Fiction Mashup wherein two speakers try on well known roles to make truth into fiction.

“She left me!”  the heart rending and spine-tingling wail echoed from the darkness of the cavern like Rachel weeping for her children.

“She’s gone!” No, make that like Gollum weeping for his Precious.

“She left me, my Precious.”

“There, there.  Calm down,” said the traveler.  Maybe it’s not so bad as all that.  Perhaps your precious is just lost and you need to go and find her.”

“No. No.  She left me!  My precious left me.”

“Why did she leave you?  Did you hit her?”

“No. No.  Hitting is wrong.  I would never hit my precious.”

There was silence in the darkness.  Then the wail began again.

“Make her come back.  Make my precious come back.  She left me.”

Patiently, the voice from the darkness asked again, “Why did she leave you?  Did you take another lover in her place?”

“She left me.  Didn’t you hear me?  She left me.”

The wail melted into heaving sobs like a scoop of ice cream slowly spreading into a puddle. The wail continued in a murmur,

“Happy we were, in our little cave, away from the noise and crush of the crowds.”

“Well then, was she isolated, lonely?” prodded the voice.

“No. No.  Not lonely.  We had each other.”

“In the darkness?”

“No, not always darkness.  She had a lamp. Only darkness now because I spend my days exploring the dark part of the cave. Around the corner and up about 50 paces there is a fissure in the rock where the sunshine streams in. Precious loved that place.  There is a back exit to the cave through a lemon squeezer. Precious used to climb through the lemon squeezer and go hike along the tiny stream.  She said the running water sang to her and showed her wonderful things.”

“So, Precious really loved this place?”

Oh yes, loved this place, did Precious. And I.”

“So, if your precious loved this place so much, why did she leave?”

“I don’t know.  She left me, my precious!”

“I know, I know, your precious left you,” said the voice with quiet annoyance.  “I am trying to figure out why.  If we can figure out why, perhaps we can take some steps to get your precious back.”

“She belongs here.  She should come back.”

There was a pause in the blackness.  After some thought, the traveler asked, “Did your precious ever get away from the cave?  You know, go down to Metropolis for concerts or shopping?”

“Every day!”  he wailed.

“What?  Precious went shopping every day?  This is an unexpected development.”

“No, no.  Precious left me and went to work every day. She didn’t love the cave as much as I did or she would not have been able to leave,” he stated petulantly.

“Precious left you everyday to go to work?”  inquired the voice.

“Yes, yes,”  he wailed, “Precious, stubborn Precious.  She wanted me to go to work everyday too.  She said the only way we could keep living in our wonderful cave was for both of us to work.  That’s not true. This cave belongs to me!

“So, you didn’t want to go to work?”

“No. No.  It is more important to hold tightly to the things you have than to work for something better.”  He paused for emphasis, then continued,

“It wasn’t possible for me to go to work.  I was busy working here in the cave.  There were so many tunnels I hadn’t yet explored. I found some fascinating stones and minerals in the lower tunnel and I needed to catalog them.”

“Are you a mineralogist then?”

“Me?  No. I’m a  horticulturalist….I just know a lot about minerals because, my precious, she came with a degree in mineralogy when I married her.”

“So, she went to the city every day to work as a mineralogist?”

“No, she was just typing orders for a bakery.”

“Do you think it bothered her that you got to stay at the cave doing research in mineralogy while she was away typing bakery orders?”

“Why would she leave the cave every day if it bothered her? What it all comes down to is, you do the thing you are interested in.  I had more heart for the cave than she did. You only do what you want to do.”

There was a moment of silence as the traveler shrugged along with the man.

“Besides, while my precious was doing her little bakery job, I was conducting an experiment and was deep in research.”

“Oh?” said the voice.

“Yes.  I noticed I had to stoop to bring the rocks from the lower tunnel to daylight to look at them.  I was collecting data to find which way of carrying rocks made me stoop least.”

“I see,” nodded the voice. “What did Precious think about your experiment?”

“See?” wailed the man, “I just realized she was never supportive of my work! She was a woman, so she was shorter. How could she know how difficult it was for me to bring up rocks?  She didn’t have to stoop.”

Again, there was silence.

“One other question,” began the voice. “Just out of curiosity, how did that work when your, uh, precious came home from the city each evening; did you have a fresh garden salad on the table for her?”

“What?” asked the man with a good deal of incredulity as though he had never heard the word salad before.

“A salad,” repeated the voice. “You are a stay-at-home horticulturalist.  Did you greet her with a fresh green meal at the end of the day?”

“I didn’t have time,” said the man indignantly.

“I worked hard at my research, right on into the evening. But, she never appreciated that.  Most of the time I wasn’t aware of her arrival.  At first when she came home from the bakery, she used to call down the tunnel, ‘Hi!  I’m home!’ But after a while she quit doing that. Once after she had finally fixed us dinner and we had eaten, she asked me to do the dishes.”

“Really?” inquired the voice.

“I told her it made me feel less of a man to be doing dishes.”

“Did she apologize?”

“Are you kidding?  She didn’t say a thing. The next night when I came up to the kitchen, there was no food on the table.  She should have been home for two hours already. The dishes were clean and neatly stacked in the cupboard.  She was gone.”

The silence was pregnant with profound thought. At least it seemed that way, until the man burst out,

“Maybe she wanted to be a Goblin Princess.”

“A Goblin Princess?  That is highly illogical.  Logic says Precious was more inclined to be Superwoman than a goblin princess.”

“It was those goblins who stole her!”

“What?  She was kidnapped?  Why didn’t you report it?  Set your ship at warp speed and go after her?”

“I did go after her.”

“Did you find her?”

“Not exactly, but I found out about her – more than I wanted to know. I waited a few months to see if she would find her way back on her own. Then, I told my friends and asked them what I should do. I wrote her a letter begging her to come back, but I couldn’t find a stamp. Can you believe it? She didn’t leave me any stamps in the drawer. Finally, somebody offered me a ride back to University Town where I heard she was living.”

“Did you go?”

“I went to University Town, but, I didn’t get to see her.  I ran into an old friend instead. We had been enemies for many years; but, when he saw me back in town, he slapped me on the back and was glad to see me. He said he knew things about what my precious had been before she found me.  He said she used to be a Goblin Princess,” the man fairly spat the words.  Then he added self-righteously, “Once a goblin princess, always a goblin princess, you know.”

“You were satisfied with that story?  You lived with her for over a decade and you think she actually left you to be a goblin princess?”

“I guess so. Why else would she leave me? It makes sense.  She always did have goblin tendencies.  They love rocks, you know. I remember now how she always loved rocks.”

The man sighed heavily. Once again the wail began to build.  The traveler with the questions covered his ears and retreated to the mouth of the cave and the sunlight.  When the echo subsided, he stepped back into the cavern.

“Say,”  he said. “I came through University Town yesterday. I was there for the gem and mineral symposium at the college.  I think I saw your precious. You might like to know that she is not a goblin princess.  She was the guest lecturer on the hidden value of gold and rubies and how to tell the difference between the real thing and the fake.”

Copyright © Cherry Odelberg, 2013

If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy Hell or Love and Let me tell you a parable, from Before I Went Crazy

How do you know your children are all grown up?

When your children are infants, you are their 24  X 7 lifeline; providing nourishment, shelter, clothing, a comforting shoulder; teaching them everything from how to walk to how to chew their food and get along with siblings.

By the time they start school, they can dress themselves, make a sandwich, maybe even sort laundry and tidy their bedroom.  You pray to God you will give them everything they need, every opportunity to be all they are meant to be.  Out of your own resources you give every last tidbit of time and talent you can find.  Sometimes they chafe at your involvement and sometimes they beg you to do more.

They go off to college.  You hold your breath. Did you do enough for them?  Will they be able to make wise decisions alone?  Will they turn out to be responsible adults, or stuck in endless, dependent childhood?

There were times they followed in your footsteps, but now, their stride has lengthened and they taste success and adventure beyond the map of all you were able to accomplish in your youth. 

How do you know that your children are truly grown up?  They begin to reciprocate.

  1. You go stay with them, instead of them living with you.
  2. They provide YOU with musical instruments and give YOU lessons.
  3. They invite you over and cook breakfast (or dinner) for you and clean up after.
  4. They give you helpful advice and insight – vocational, relational, educational – and    encouragement.
  5. They are avid and adamant about band / music practice – more than even you were.

Thanks Kids!  You make me feel successful.  You are all grown up. 



The case of the missing black travel capris

I never make a physical list anymore for overnighters or weekends. It is part of my bid for freedom from over-thinking, being too regimented, learning to have fun without demanding a perfect plan or perfection.  Actually, I am pretty good at organizing and keeping a list in my head.

I packed a dressy black tank top – the kind with mesh overlay on a silver pattern.  Black is always a good choice when you work for a media family.  I never know when I will be called from childcare or filing to grip for a photo shoot. Family focused personal assistant duties are varied. Black is always appropriate.  

For arrival day, I was wearing a navy and white sundress. My employers were headed out of town for a concert, making it a Nanny-Granny sleepover.  My duties that evening would be mostly kitchen and cuddle.  

As I rolled the tank top into my backpack, I made a mental note to grab my black bra when I stuck in the black dressy capris.  As I stowed my Mac in the oversize purse with toothbrush and change of underwear, I contemplated exchanging the capris for decorated denim shorts. After-all, shorts might be more serviceable in the backyard or laundry room. After doing my hair and make-up, grooming items were stowed in the backpack along with the blow dryer.

Maybe it is time to keep a laminated list in the backpack. Somehow, I arrived sans black capris, sans denim shorts. But the really good news is; my black and white pajama bottoms coordinated just fine with the dressy tank top.  This combo worked much better than say, running my fingers through my hair in place of a hairbrush.  That happened once – or rubbing toothpaste on each tooth in the absence of a toothbrush.

Yesterday was another wild-idea Wednesday.  On impulse, I bolted to Fort Collins to take in a Gypsy’s Curse concert.  I was so pleased with my organizational skills. I have the black traveling capris and the go with anything tank top, the hairbrush, toothbrush, beach towel – even a lunch. This time I forgot pjs. No matter. Between a concert that lasted until 1:00 a.m. and breakfast with my kids early this morning, there was precious little time for sleeping.  

It must be the fault of all those candles

Birthdays wouldn’t be so hard if it wasn’t for the candles. The cake looks more like swiss cheese or a mini gopher colony once the candles are removed leaving pocks and potholes where the frosting used to be. My three-year-old granddaughter seizes the candles, licking off the frosting and then double dipping as she waits for me to cut the cake.

This year my candles would be difficult to arrange in orderly rows and ranks; an odd number;  a prime age. Prudently and perhaps with a bit of thrift, my mother placed only three candles in the corner of the cake  – just for tradition. So everyone could sing by candlelight.  I took a breath and blew.  Success.  My grandchildren clapped and cheered and shouted, “Make a wish!  Make a wish!”

Suddenly, I was stuck.  Pop quiz!  Make a wish.  What do I wish for? Blank. Perplexed. It is such a heavy responsibility to have only one wish.  There is a fear and shame that goes along with wishes.  Fear that you might wish for something and be disappointed.  Shame that you are engaging in wishful thinking and should shake a leg and do something about it.

“Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”  What if I blow out all the candles and the magic works?  What if I wish for the wrong thing, and get it?  Let me think this through.   If I make a wish, have I committed myself? After all, it is pure laziness to engage in wishful thinking and then take no action to make the thing you want or wish for come about.

What do I want?  For me?  Wishing and wanting, doesn’t that sound selfish?  I have no wants. I don’t know what I want.  So then, what do I need? Nothing, really, I have learned to get along.  Poke me, I have no feelings.  What do I want?  I want to do the right thing; or rather, to not do the wrong thing. I want not to make a mistake.

Wait a minute, there is something deep inside that hungers for something more. What is it?  What is that niggling thought?  Like the spoiled little prince who cried out, “I want something hot as summer and cold as winter,” I am vaguely dissatisfied. I want, I want, something different; something new and wonderful.  A new life, a new love, a new location, a new job.  Really?  Am I wishing for those things?  What am I thinking of? What if the new life was just out of the frying pan and into the fire?  What if it wasn’t what I wanted and I was sorry I left my old life?  Do I even have energy for new love?  Do I want a new location?  Think, woman!

What is the right thing to wish for?  World peace?  World prosperity? Are those wishes I won’t feel guilty about?   But, can I do anything about it?

Happy Birthday!  You are thinking too much again. Who needs a birthday spanking when you can beat yourself up without even trying?  It must be the fault of all those candles.


Foto Friday

Since Wild Wednesday was predominately Written Wednesday; here I follow up with Photo FridayImage

Delicate Arch – Arches National Park near Moab, Utah

ImageLandscape Arch – Arches National Park, Utah

ImageDelicate Arch as seen through an arch along the way.  Arches National Park, Utah

ImageSkyline Arch, Arches National Park, Utah





A Wild Idea

DSCN5467archthrougharchTo begin with, I wasn’t even wearing my hiking shoes.  My friend had prevailed on me to  meet her at 8:30 a.m. to help sort recently moved boxes for a yard sale. Friends shouldn’t have to prevail, but Thursday morning begins my so-called weekend and I keep my mornings free to write and create. Late getting out of the shower, I headed to my phone to request an additional 15 minutes.  There was a message waiting for me:  Let’s make it 9 o’clock. At 10 after nine, I pulled in her driveway.  I was wearing my denim work shorts and a T-shirt, and my Chucks. She was sitting in a sunny living room window in baggy capris, with a cup of coffee, reading. She groaned, “I don’t really want to pull boxes down from the garage attic.  My head hurts.  My body is already aching.”

“Well, we could just go out of town instead,”  I quipped. “What I really wanted to do was go to Ft. Collins this weekend.”  Her face perked up. We discussed this novel idea for a few minutes as we have mutual friends in Ft. Collins, in addition to two of my children.  “But I don’t think we can get out of town before 10:00 and we would have to leave for home by 3:00 tomorrow afternoon -that’s hardly enough.”

She had a full tank of gas. In the end, we pooled our lunch, grabbed the first aid pack and an extra water bottle from my car and headed for Arches National Park in Utah. We didn’t take time to change clothes or run by my house.  I was wearing Converse low cuts and my last pair of clean white socks. That is why my toes hurt. We hiked 5 miles and decimated several bottles of water.  I was gone from home 12 1/2 hours.  And to think, I was going to do my laundry after I helped sort boxes.

If you had determined to live each day as though you have been given 365 days to live, would you have gone hiking – or finished the laundry?