Atop the World Lies a Castle Fair

At the top of the world
lies a castle fair--
parapets high and gilded stair.
Above the spray
of ocean tide,
the birds of love
and dragons glide
Watching o’er the castle great
with fiery breath
or green-branched plait.
Through the glass
all color-stained
the sun doth shine
long unrestrained.
The gentle queen
with babe in arms
sings lullabies
of fairies charms
of knights’ good deeds
and love unfeigned
of hopes and dreams
to be attained.
When the bright blue eyes
do droop and close,
she lay him down
and kiss his nose.
The fair young queen
then doth wander
halls and gardens
her fate to ponder.
The rooms are empty,
the throne is bare
no soul doth laugh
or labor there;
alone, so high,
atop the earth
the gilded halls,
her land a dearth.
What will the morrow bring?
It can’t be known.
But for today,
she is alone.



I'm behind on my writing prompts, so I combined a couple this time. The first is the Tolkien quote, "Not all who wander are lost." The rest of this quote is often missed and is awesome.  You can check it out here, if you want. The second prompt was the photo below. Enjoy! (I hope.) :)

I grabbed Grandpa’s hand when we neared the stream. Coming up,there was an easy spot to cross.
“Look Grandpa! Water. You think there are fish?”
“Nah, too small,” he told me.  We walked over to look in the trickle that came down from the mountain. “I remember when we would fish in the stream behind our house.  I was about your age then.  I would make a fishing pole out of a stick and some string, and tie a hook made out of a paper clip on there.”
I was only 5 and barely came to Grandpa’s waist. So I let Grandpa use my head to steady himself as we crossed the stream. I tried not to soak my Sunday shoes.  Momma would yell if I mucked ‘em up.
“We could always find worms in the garden, but boy would your great-grandma holler at us if she caught us digging in there!  Hoo! She was the best singer in the church choir. And if you made her angry she could use those pipes to flay you right open!” Grandpa chuckled.
I picked up some rocks that were cold from the water. The almost leafless trees were good targets.
Pfft. I missed and it went tumbling through the dry yellow grasses that were almost as tall as me.
When we cleared the trees, we were by the fence. Lots of new houses were being built on our block and this fence ran down the back of the lot of ‘em, cutting us off from the woods.  Momma thought it was safer. And  she thought it was great I wouldn’t be gettin’ so dirty. But I knew how to get ‘round. Besides, Grandpa loved comin’ out here.
Grandpa stopped by the fence, peeking his eye through a hole. He scratched the thin, white hair on top of his head. “What’re we doin’ here, Jimmy?” he asked. He didn’t know where we were, but I did. I could hit our house with one of those rocks, if I had one left.
“Nothin’. We’re just wandering.”
I peeked my eye through another hole.  It was the sky blue house that Maureen Roberts just moved into. I screwed up my features. If anyone had cooties, it was her.
“Let’s keep going.” I grabbed Grandpa’s hand again. “There’s a empty bird’s nest in that tree up there.” I pointed.
He smiled, confidence returning to his features. “Did you know I taught a bird to fly once?” he asked.
I did know. He told me about it every time we came here. But Grandpa was the only one who would tell me stories.
I smiled and told him, “Nope. How’d you do that?”


Places I don't go anymore

Places I Don’t Go Anymore: A List

My own pity parties. At least I try not to.
Miller white elephant parties.
Art in the Park.
D & K's house.
College classes.
Country dancing at the Armory.
Sunday lunch at Grandma’s house.
To visit cousins.
Six Flags Great America.
My old apartments.
Out on the town.
Movies. (Well, mostly.)
Exotic places with Lara Croft.
Alicia Wagner’s house.
The land of 8 hours of sleep.
The bathroom by myself.



Our inspiration today:

“I don’t know what I was thinking.” Miri dumped a basket of fries into the waiting oil.
Sam placed a tomato on top of the pattie in front of him. “You thought he was a nice guy.”
“Only for like five minutes.”
“He drove a motorcycle.”
Miri giggled.  “That certainly didn’t hurt his cause.”
Sam blew out a puff of air that went unnoticed by Miri. She was reading the order off the screen above her. He watched her as she grabbed a large cup and filled it with Coke. She was so bubbly and happy all the time. It was contagious. At least it made him want to be with her all the time.
After Zach she had been angry. The way she slammed food on the counter made him grin.
After Monty she had been annoyed. Every guy that had long brown hair that came in that week had his straw squeezed shut before it went into his drink. Sam had wanted to spit in their food, too.
After Roberto, she had cried. He had put his hand on her back and she cried into his shoulder on break. Her hair smelled like lavender and citrus.
This time he tried a slightly more obvious route, though thinking about it made his stomach turn in knots.
 When Miri went out to her car on break, he changed the sign that greeted customers as they walked in the door.
“We have thousands of happy customers. And one creepy guy named Rob that will get more than a hamburger if he comes in again. (You know who you are.)”

Leah finished hers already. It is awesomesauce. GO. Read. It.


Waterfall of Ache

Our prompt for today was a little different, so you're getting something a little different from me.
This music (not the picture) was supposed to inspire our writing. Thanks for trying something new Leah!

I watch as the water drops
together, apart;
it drips, drops
my heart,
pulling time,
a waterfall of ache.
It ripples the depths of the blue, deep pool
though still in the farther  reaches
like memories in a stagnant mind.
She was mine once.
As we met
in the sweet, dusky pith;
the trees our stanchions,
our guardians.
The water drips—
her memory,
all that is mine—

Deb's is a lot happier and more stomach flipping that mine. You should check it out.


In the Water

Our 10-minute prompt for today has already been finished by DebLeah, and Caitlyn (she didn't post hers to her blog). The prompt was this: Begin a story with "And they lived happily ever after.  The end." Here's mine:

Camryn jumped from the edge of the stream to one of the rocks that stuck up above the water. “And.”
She jumped to another. “They.”
Each time she said a word, she jumped to a new perch. “Lived. Happily. Ever. After. The…”
Before she could say, “End,” she slipped on a particularly mossy rock and slid into the chilly, wet, muck. When she came up spluttering, Ollie was clapping and giggling. Camryn pulled her long sandy hair off her face.  “Are you laughing at my story, or my…” she indicated her spot in the water, “…ending.”
Ollie grinned, but didn’t answer her question.  “How am I going to get across, Camryn? I don’t want to get wet, too.”
Camryn turned around to look at the far side of the stream in order to hide her face from Ollie.  She made up the story and was being silly to take his mind off of being lost in the woods. Now she was soaked and she didn’t know how to start a fire.
“I’ll walk on this side and you walk on that side until we find a safe place for you to cross, okay?”
Ollie nodded and waited for her to trudge through the last ten feet the opposite bank.
It didn’t take long for Ollie to speak again.  “Sing a song, Camryn. The one about the water sprite.”
Camryn sighed.  She didn’t want to sing.  She wanted to sit and rest and figure out how to get dry. Her clothes were heavy with water and the seam of her pants was rubbing uncomfortably.  But she opened her mouth anyway.

Come away dear, come away
while the babies coo and the grown ones meet
Come away to the water’s edge
And take my hand my dear my sweet.

Never before had that song bothered her, but as Camryn sang the last word of the verse, her stomach curled in knots. She stopped cold.
Looking over the stream to Ollie, he was happily skipping along the water’s edge, humming the tune to himself. Over the water, a mist seemed to be forming, and small lights danced along the tendrils.
Camryn shook her head. She was imagining things.
She took a few more steps, not wanting Ollie to get too far ahead of her. The mist seemed to be following him, too, though. As she stood and watched, it condensed, taking on the form of a lithe, wispy woman, her hands outstretched to Ollie.
The words of the song stung in Camryn’s mind as the echo of the notes came back to her. No.


Umber and the Snake

Umber was annoyed.
She was annoyed at the snake she was riding for taking such a circuitous route.
She was annoyed by the sound it made when it moved that kept her from hearing the chatter of the birds in the trees above.
She was annoyed it was almost dark and she didn’t know where was going to sleep.
But most of all, she was annoyed that she couldn’t just fly to the home of the fairy queen.
Umber pulled up on the reigns and said, “Shhhh.”  When the snake stopped, she looked around, brushing her thick blond hair out of her eyes.
They had been gliding across sand for a while now, and she could hear a stream trickling nearby. She took her feet out of the stirrups and dug her toes into the soft, brown powder.  She sighed. “We might as well stop here,” she told the snake, even though he couldn’t understand her. At least the sand would provide a soft place to sleep.
Pulling her pack off of her back, Umber found a spot under a fallen log that would provide some cover and protection from predators. The snake would keep watch as well.  At least that was what Tarn told her.
Umber dug out a spot in the sand to lay in and put her pack under her head. Tomorrow  I can fly again, she thought. When Tarn had first wrapped up the broken filament, that was how long he thought it would take to heal. I hope he was right.
Queen Imolene honored Umber by asking her there to share her knowledge of the pinsprites, but if she had to explain that she couldn’t fly to the entrance because she had broken her wing trying to corral a spiny thistle-maiden, her credibility would surely be put into question.
Umber closed her eyes and tried to quiet her mind. Nothing would be changed by worrying about it.
When the snake heard her breathing change, he curled up in front of her fallen branch and closed his eyes, too. He hoped it would be another uneventful night.

You can check out Leah's. Her snake's name is Josie.


Some perspective

This house, to me, looks like the house that the witch in Stardust builds to trap Yvaine (the fallen star). The witch wants to steal Yvaine’s life force to make herself young again. Yvaine is weary and the inn is the only place to rest for miles around. So she goes in, and as she is resting, the witch goes to kill her. Of course, she is saved before that happens and all is well.

The thing about the inn, and this house, is that they are both obviously dark and foreboding.  Who would go in there? I think. But as I think about my life, I realize that I have gone into this type of house before.

Think about it.  Have you ever wanted something so bad that you became blind to what it might mean in your life? Have you ever convinced yourself that  you need something so badly that everything else gets obscured?

I have. And when I finally got that thing I thought I needed, it ended up really hurting me.

So this house has reminded me that I need to be aware, to see the big picture. It’s so easy sometimes to live in the moment and forget that what you’re dealing with now is only temporary. If I can keep some perspective, I can step back from the inn and see it for what it really is, a dangerous detour. And I can see that if I go around it, I might not get the warm bath and soft bed that I want right now, but a little farther down the road, I can have a safe night’s sleep under the stars. And most of the time that's going to make me happier than I could have imagined while the inn was filling my view.


Empty Swing

Our writing prompt for today (the picture):

I watched as my brothers played in the dirt with their dump trucks and backhoes. There was barely an inch on either one of them that wasn’t covered in dust. Josiah had a stick poking out of his curly locks that wiggled every time he vroom-ed his truck down their homemade road.
I giggled. My brothers were always getting into things that would make mother sigh and throw them in the tub.
Jumping off the swing I had been sitting on, I climbed the steps to the back porch and went to find my mother.
“Momma, the boys are filthy again,” I said when I found her in the kitchen making dinner.
“I should go check on those boys.”
“What dear?” Daddy said from the living room where he was watching the evening news.
My mother rinsed her hands and dried them on the towel hanging from the oven door. “Nothing,” she told Daddy, then headed outside.
I followed her out.
“Josiah! Markus!” Momma shouted as soon as she saw the state the boys were in. “I told you we were going to have dinner soon and to not get dirty.”
The boys exchanged glances. They tried to keep their faces serious enough to appease Momma, but they weren’t very good at it.
“Inside! Now. You get cleaned up quick or you won’t get dinner.”
Josiah and Markus left their trucks and ran past Momma to the back door. Markus pretended his hands were airplanes. “Whoosh-vroooooom!” Markus yelled as he ran.
Momma shook her head, but couldn’t keep a smile off her lips.  “Little scoundrels,” she said.
Before she turned to go back inside, Momma turned to me, a frown on her lips again.  I wanted to take her hand and walk inside with her, but I couldn’t. I didn’t mean to, but I caused a lot of frowns these days.
“Sorry, Momma,” I told her.
“I love you, Cara,” Momma replied, then hurried back inside.
“I love you, too.”
I watched her close the door.
“Are you ready?” A voice beside me said.
I looked up to see Great-Grandma. It was usually her who came and got me. We had become good friends since I’d arrived, and she knew I liked visiting my family. I was glad I was here on the other side, but it was hard for Momma.
Grandma saw my frown and lifted my chin with her finger.
“It’ll get better,” she told me. “It won’t be but a moment before you all will be together again.”

Thanks for reading! You can find Leah's here, and Alison's here. They are so very touching. Go. Read. Enjoy. :)


Malum's Prison

Our free-write for the day was based on this picture (I actually stuck to the 10-minute time limit today. Craziness, I know.) Leah and Alison have already finished theirs.  You should check out their awesomeness.

You can’t stay here forever.
“I can stay here long enough.”
Long enough for what, you idiotic child? I am immortal. Keeping me from eating will not kill me.  It will only make me angry.
Merit didn’t answer. Speaking would have given away her fears. If this didn’t work, she would have to go back to being Malum’s servant.  No not servant.  Slave.
The thought made her grip the outside of the mirror she held  even tighter.  She refused to be a party to any more death. This mirror, Malum’s prison, the attempt by The Four to stop his evil rampage, had not had the intended effect.
The gilded frame was cool under her fingers, though her heartbeat was quick.  The smell of the grass all around her and the friendly grove that cut them off from passerby  wafted to her on a breeze.  She took a deep breath and familiar scents calmed her soul. I can do this. I can resist Malum’s powers until Callidan figures out my clues and comes for me.
After a few hours, Malum began chanting, tempting her to move in front of the mirror.  The power of his spell was strong, but she knew it.  She was used to it.  She could resist.  If she moved from behind the mirror, he could trap her with his eyes, pull her into him.  But if she stayed behind it, she would be safe.  For now.
 Malum was right.  This would make him angry and she had never seen him rage before.  She wasn’t sure what would happen when he put the full force of his anger behind his spells. Even without his rage, the misery he inflicted on others was a terrifying sight.
Please hurry, Callidan.  Please hurry.


Vanilla Shake

Our 10 minute free-write prompt for today was "Write a story about a girl named Shake." I wrote longer than 10 minutes.  Closer to 20. But I needed to get some angst out.  So here you go.

Melanie looked down at her hands. They were shaking. Bile rose in her throat and her eyes burned. She smacked the phone down on the receiver.  She was not going to cry here.
Standing up from the bar, she headed back to the dressing rooms, trying to avoid the few lecherous patrons that came here at one o’clock in the afternoon.
It wasn’t until she walked in front of him that she realized Rufus Fletcher was sitting behind a pillar, blocking him from her view.
“Hey, Darlin’,” he said, reaching for her arm.
She pulled it back. “Not now Rufus.”
“What are you so upset about, my sweet Vanilla Shake?” He reached out and grabbed her hips pulling her closer. She hated that nickname and she hated when men thought they owned her just because she put up with their raging hormones for the ridiculous amounts of money she earned here.
“I’m not yours, Rufus,” Melanie told him, removing his hands from her hips.  She turned to go, but he managed to get his hand around her arm this time.  His grip pinched her skin and ground against the bone in her arm.
“You’re mine if I pay you enough money,” he growled, then stuck a stack of ones in top of the black hotpants she was wearing.
She took the ones out and threw them at him. “I’m off the clock.”
She stormed away.  When she finally made it to the dressing room, she hurried to the back and pulled her knees up to her chest.  Resting her head on her knees she tried to take deep breaths to calm herself down.  It didn’t work.  The tears came anyway.
As the sobs wracked her body, she thought about the phone call from the man she thought had loved her, the one who would take her out of this terrible place and push her out of the rut her life had fallen into.
“I’m not coming tonight,” he said when she picked up.
“Why not? Did you get stuck writing reports again? I can come up there after I get off.”
“No, don’t come up here.”
“Mel,” he stopped. The way he said her name made her stomach drop. “Mel, I just can’t.”
“Can’t what, Josh?”
“I can’t do it. I know my parents love you, and my sisters. And you work so hard. You are amazing. But I want something more.”
“Wait. Are you breaking up with me over the phone?”
“Yeah, Melanie. I gotta go.  I wish you the best.”
“Wait.  Josh…”
And then he had hung up.  
He hung up on her. He wants something more? What the hell does that mean?
Melanie’s tears dried.
What a bastard, she thought, pushing the memories of the sweet things he had so often done for her out of her head.
She couldn’t believe she had trusted him.  She couldn’t believe she had trusted another man after what had happened to her every time she had fallen in love.
She wiped the tears off her face and looked in the mirror.
You don’t need a man, she told herself.  You will be just fine on your own. She smiled and tried to make it look happy in the mirror. You can do this.
She took a deep breath, once again pushing back tears. She didn't believe a word of it.  If Josh wasn't the one, if he really didn't love her, then she was done. No one would ever touch her heart again.  She wouldn't let them.
She walked out to the floor, cementing a smile on her lips, knowing everyone would believe her mask.
They always did.


In the Mittle

My wonderful writing group friends have starting doing a 10-minute daily writing prompt. Leah, the brains behind the prompts, and a few of the others (like Deb, and Alison) have already finished theirs.  The prompt for today was a picture found by the talented Ms. Caitlyn. (I put it down there for you to see.) Here's my free-write for today.

     A twinge of light touched the sky as Mittle put his hand to the moss-covered trunk.
     Hurry littles! he said to the army of glowing pinsprites bobbing down from the highest branches.
     Not a single one listened.
     Not that he expected them to. They never did listen. Especially when he was in a hurry.
     When each one was gathered in, he turned on his heel and leapt from the tree root he had convinced to prop him up.
     Thank you! he told it as he ran for home.  Mittle could almost hear the sigh as it eased itself back into the ground.
     When he reached the edge of the forest, he paused, squinting in the half-light. When he didn’t see any signs of movement, he crouched down to sneak past the kitchen window.  He didn’t think Mohma would be awake yet, but he wasn’t going to take any chances.
     When he reached the small flower bed under the window, he greeted Teyrna. Good morning, old one! Are you awake yet?
     No, came the grumbling reply.
     Mittle laughed. Have the birds been prattling again?
     Is that not what you’re doing, Smoft?
     Mittle tried not to giggle at the tree’s nickname for him.  Trees were not much for learning names, so he was called by his appearance. Small and soft. Smoft.
     I will be quiet, if you will lift me up to my window, wise Teyrna.
     Flatterer, she said, but soon a branch made its way down to him. At his window, he used his foot to push it open and dropped quietly onto his bed. He dropped his muddy shoes on the floor and carefully draped the satchel with the pinsprites over the log that was part of his headboard. Then he lay down, careful to not make noise enough to wake Bubs.
     Flyaway red hairs popped up over his bedspread followed by wide blue eyes. “Whuddya find?” Bubs practically yelled.
     Mittle thought his heart was going to leap out of his chest. “Bubs! Shhhhh!” he whispered at her. "Nothing. I didn’t find anything. Go back to sleep.”
     “But the sun is awake.”
     Mittle pursed his lips. Trying to think of an argument that would convince the three-year-old that being in bed would be a good thing.
     Bubs's brows creased in thought. “And you’re awake.” 
     Mittle sighed. It was going to be a long day.