Truths Unseen — the 1930s Part 2

Welcome, everyone.  Thank you for all the encouragement you’ve given me about this story — and about just doing whatever I can, even if I find myself unable to finish telling the tale.  It’s better to consider this a series of character studies, than a serial.

Girl Truths Unseen 1

Steinar Engeland, Unsplash

I wrote this a week in advance because the surgery for my little BFF was Thursday, June 22nd, and I don’t know what or how much I will have on my hands when this episode is posted.  

BFF Update

Crystal came through the surgery like a champ!  I admit it’s frightening looking… the big shaved area, but particularly the length of the incision. She also has a little shaved spot on each arm.  The growth was at least as big as a golf ball, so the line of her stitches is about four inches long. Dr. Villar said he got the entire growth.  He mentioned the sense of satisfaction he had gotten from doing the procedure. That elevated my estimation of him, to know he takes pride in his work.  Doctor and assistant were both quite taken with Crystal.
Crystal peep stairs 2017
So far she hasn’t bothered the incision area. He used a stitch like a pillow would be closed with, so that the stitches are not exposed (as he and I had previously discussed).
I’m supposed to apply a warm compress, twice a day for three days… Crystal is not cooperating with that… 
It will be a week before I get the test results from the biopsy.

Writing Process

This episode picks up a few years after the first one ended.  It’s from the point of view (POV) of Clarence again, until the last bit.  Then we dip into Mattie’s thoughts.  At least for the first few decades, I plan to let the POV be from a less central character (which is what Clarence becomes).  I’m not sure how I’ll be able to manage to continue that as the story progresses.  It complicates the process. Meaning that I might switch the POV to a main character. I’m just thinking out loud.  

While the tale doesn’t seem “dark” right now, that will gradually change.  I try to give you just enough insights into the personalities to foreshadow that a bit.  Hopefully I succeed.  Okay, here is the second episode. 

Eddie and the Cruisers - On The Dark Side

Truths Unseen, the 1930s Part 2

I hope she’ll get herself a husband quick, Clarence thought as he looked at his little sister.  Before she gets herself  “in trouble,” or any other kind of trouble.

At sixteen years old, Mattie had grown into a striking young woman.  Her face was not remarkable, but she had slender yet shapely legs and a huge bosom.  Clarence didn’t like to admit it, but that bosom was downright impressive.  The girl was a head-turner for sure.

His sister had always been manipulative, and it took her no time to learn to use her looks to her advantage.  She was smart too.  Clarence always knew Mattie was brighter than him or their younger brother, Ben.  She wasn’t as smart as a school teacher, but she had a good head on her shoulders.  Clarence hoped that would be her saving grace and keep her out of mischief.

Especially where boys are concerned… Clarence thought as he slowly shook his head.  He seemed to do that a lot lately — shake his head.  It was an old man’s mannerism, not something you’d expect from a man barely in his twenties.

He felt relieved at the kind of good news he had to share with his siblings.  He was reassured because there weren’t many chances for young people to meet new folks or otherwise get together.  Clarence hadn’t even thought of his own social life.  His hopes were on getting his sister a husband.  Keeping that girl in line was a big job, but Clarence mostly wanted her to have the chance at a better life.  He knew that life better hurry up and show up before Mattie messed up herself in one way or another.

Young Man Banjo priscilla-du-preez-165373

“Pop Norris told me they’re having a reunion next weekend,” Clarence told his siblings to their hoots and hollers of glee.

In the rural southeast, family reunions were for family and just about everybody else too.  Even so, the Norris patriarch had assured shy Clarence all the Hardy family was welcome.  There was even going to be music, a couple of guitars and a banjo, and maybe even a mandolin!

Mattie fretted over what to cook.  At reunions, everyone always brought food, which was laid out on long tables, placed end to end.  Mattie told him she wanted to make fried chicken.  It hurt Clarence to say they didn’t have enough money for more than a little chicken.  He recommended cornbread with cracklins.  Mattie could make a mighty fine pone of cornbread, all crunchy and golden on the outside but moist and yellow inside.  With that praise as encouragement, she went along with his suggestion.

The music expected at the Norris family reunion was something to which Clarence looked forward to with happy anticipation until the day finally arrived.  Clarence couldn’t play an instrument or even carry a tune in the proverbial bucket, but he sure enjoyed listening.  Pop Norris had real musicians coming in, not just family members who could play a little.

Tables and people were spread out all across the green lawn of the Norris property.  It never ceased to amaze Clarence how one place could be rolling green, and the next (for instance his home) so barren that even weeds didn’t like to grow there.  He wanted to take off his shoes and wriggle his toes in the carpet of verdant grass, but he told himself to mind his manners.  When he saw that his little brother Ben had done precisely that, Clarence couldn’t bring himself to scold the boy.

One by one, the musicians started to arrive.  Cliff, the banjo player, had his wife and baby in tow.  She brought a banana pudding, made with egg custard, vanilla wafers, and topped with browned meringue.  Clarence’s mouth watered.  He hoped he wouldn’t miss out on a serving of that pudding.  The other musicians were single men so they weren’t expected to bring anything.  It was really just a matter of pride for Cliff’s wife to bring a dish.  Besides their music was all anyone expected them to bring.

Indian 4 motorcycle ad

Everyone turned at the rumble of an Indian motorcycle as Frank Cutter roared upon the scene, guitar slung across his back.  The motorcycle was the only thing loud about Frank though.  Clarence had not met another man who was as quiet as himself, but Frank Cutter could make a fence post seem talkative.

It raised a few eyebrows for Frank Cutter to be at the Norris reunion.  Frank was half Cherokee and some folks didn’t especially like that, but they were few.  Most people in Runner County knew full well that they had at least some Cherokee blood in their veins. 

The main thing that drew attention to Frank was that Indian motor cycle, the irony of which wasn’t lost on anyone, and his stature.  He made for an imposing figure of a man.  Being nearly six feet tall, Clarence rarely saw anyone taller than himself.  Frank, however, was lean and leggy, and stood a little over six feet.  Both men were tall and taciturn, and had become friendly the first time they met.

As concerned as Clarence had been about marrying off Mattie, he never had tried to set up an introduction for her and Frank.  That kind of thing made Clarence nervous.  However, a little smile played upon his lips as he realized they were likely to get acquainted that day.

The Cutters weren’t wealthy at all, but it didn’t take much to be better off than the Hardy family.  Frank made a decent living driving a delivery truck.  He might look like a wild sort with that motorcycle, but the fact of the matter was that it didn’t cost as much as a car or a truck.

From the corner of his eye, Clarence saw that Frank had already caught Mattie’s attention.

***

Shabby purse with coin

Dreamstime

Mattie Hardy discretely watched the tall half Cherokee guitar player.  She had never met him, but she knew he was friends with her brother.  Her sights had always been set higher than any of the Cutter boys.  She resented it bitterly, but boys from better families — and especially their mothers, didn’t want to have anything to do with her.  Leastwise, not anything anywhere the lights were turned on.  

She had begun to think maybe she needed to be practical.  Mattie was sick and tired of living in that shack on the dirt covered ridge.  Frank Cutter had a good, steady job.  He seemed to be as quiet as her brother, Clarence.  She had a strong suspicion that she could wrap him around her finger just as easily as she did her brother too. 

Sure he was big and his face was fit for a theater villain.  It was not a pretty face at all, but other than that, he was a fine figure of a man.  Mattie didn’t think Frank would hurt a fly, despite his looks.

Mattie made sure Frank got a generously buttered piece of her cornbread, but she barely gave him time to say thank you before she flitted away.  She bided her time until dinner had been mostly eaten and the musicians stopped to rest their sore fingers.

She had tucked away a dish of the strawberry shortcake that preacher’s wife had made.  Mattie despised the fact that the woman got praise for her cooking on top of everything else for which people looked up to her.  However, Mattie knew that shortcake was the best dessert on the table, so she saved a serving for Frank.

“Play a Dixie Dewdrop song!” somebody hollered to the musicians.

By Dixie Dewdrop they meant Uncle Dave Macon, a well-known bluegrass artist.  Frank grinned at Cliff, the banjo player.

“My fingers could use a rest,” Frank said, holding up fingertips dented from guitar strings.  “Take your pick of songs.”

Cliff knew Frank could play any song he’d ever heard.  So all he did was give the banjo a warning strum to let the other musicians know the key in which he’d play.  Then to the crowd’s delight, Cliff launched into Cumberland Mountain Deer Race.  The guitar and mandolin egged the banjo player to keep going. 

Mattie was annoyed to have to wait until they finished that and two more songs.  However, before Frank Cutter knew what was happening, Mattie was feeding him strawberry shortcake. 

A gleam came to her eyes as she saw her figure reflected in a window and thought about the curved shape of a guitar.  She decided to ask him to teach her to play the guitar, at least long enough for him to see how her body fit snugly into the curve of the instrument.

Frank Cutter didn’t stand a chance, once Mattie made up her mind.

***

End Episode 2

What will we learn about Frank in the years to come?  Will Mattie continue on the scheming personality path she has chosen?  What effect will she have on Frank — or on her brothers for that matter?  Sometimes a subtle influence lays an unexpected, inescapable groundwork for the future of other people who are yet to come.

Mega hugs from the dark side,

Teagan

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise. 

Truths Not as Unseen as Intended

Some of you figured something was up when you saw a mid-week post from me.  You were right.  I prepared the first episode of Truths Unseen, and scheduled it for this weekend.  Then I decided not to do that new, dark, unhappy story after all.  WordPress, ever monkeying around with things, wouldn’t let me unscheduled it.  So I became the monkey, trying to fix the schedule at a far distant date, because I didn’t want to delete the post… And you saw the result… Unseen was unexpectedly seenGirl Truths Unseen 1

However, your responses were so positive that now I’m even more torn about doing the story.  For years, many people have told me that the story needs to be told, that it might help someone.  But those people aren’t concerned about what effect the telling has on me.  I don’t know if I can bear living in that horrible dark place for the months it takes to write the story.  That’s why I changed my mind about telling it here…  Now it’s almost as if the story (or the monkeys) took itself out of my hands.

Kathryn Schulz said of The Great Gatsby, “It is the only book I have read so often despite failing—in the face of real effort and sincere ­intentions—to derive almost any pleasure at all from the experience.”  That’s what’s wrong with this story.  There is no pleasure.  The characters don’t grow.  There’s no happy ending.  At least that’s how it feels to me.

 

I honestly don’t know if I will be able to finish this story, so I decided not to start it… then the WordPress monkeys had their way with it.  So I guess I’ll give it a try.  I apologize in advance if I’ve started something I can’t endure finishing.

I’m linking this to the other post where the story begins.  I deeply appreciate the comments you’ve already made. Click here for the first installment.

Meanwhile, Vote Here

What is progress anyway?

A special note:  I follow and comment many of your blogs regularly — getting them via email.  WordPress has stopped sending me those emails, even though everything is signed-up-for and checked. I know where to find you, but it’s hard to keep up and I apologize.

Crystal bench 03-2017

Crystal, March 2017

I guess the answers vary as much as they do for any other “what is” question.   At least my little BFF and I have made a few sluggish steps forward in the mire of Loop of Limbo of the Unknown.  (That’s Crystal’s picture a few months ago; before all this started.)  I still don’t know anything.  However, surgery is scheduled for June 22nd.  

They finally approved an appetite stimulant, which has helped her immediate “health” hugely after just one dose.  I was afraid she would be too week from self-starvation to survive the anesthesia for the surgery.  Hopefully the biopsy will let me know how to proceed.

So, that’s an update for those who have been following Crystal, here and on Facebook.  Of no importance to the world at large.  Nothing close to the burdens others bear.  However, if me, myself, and I were having a conversation, I would tell Myself what I’ve often told others —  The cross you bear may seen trivial compared to what others endure, but that does not mean your burden is any less heavy for you to carry.

Loop of Limbo of the Unknown

I’m tired of hearing myself say that work and life drains my creativity, preventing me from writing.  It’s my very own “Theory of the Moebius.”  Unfortunately that state has not improved. 

Since I just don’t have it — what I need to work on my stories, I keep having the thought to share a different story with you.  (To be honest, I’m not even sure I can do this one, but it keeps coming back to me, so…)

The problem is, that it is not like any of the stories I’ve brought here. It’s dark. Filled with the kind of truths most people just can’t seem to handle.

You will face the truth weird guy

So I’ve decided to put it to a vote.  Click on the button you choose below, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to leave the comments enabled.

Good golly Miss Molly! WordPress has monkeyed around with that poll feature! I thought I’d do a quick post and be done, but I’ve spent three hours instead… Time indeed became a loop.

Mega hugs.

Speechless

Not really an update but…

It has happened to me a number of times…  I pressured and forced myself to say nothing.  What hurts me is of no consequence.  The one lesson my parents hammered into my soul is that I do not matter.  And in the grand scheme of things, that is true.  So after a little time, I felt good about being silent when well-meant words tore at my heart.

People have the best intentions.  They don’t think before they speak.  They want to share their enlightenment.  Their hearts are in the right place, so I don’t want to say anything that might hurt their feelings, no matter that my heart has been torn out. 

Then I saw my own selfishness in wanting to protect them.  It’s important to me that I’m not hurtful.  So I remain silent when unthinking words nearly send me over the ledge on which I so precariously teeter.  However, I’m selfish because that does not consider what their words might do to someone else. 

“If most people said what they were thinking, they’d be speechless…”
 Earl Nightingale

So if anyone is ever moved to share the insight that a person’s stress is causing (or making worse) the illness of someone that person loves.  For pity’s sake — think about how harmful those words are.  How could that possibly help or lessen the stress?  Someone else might go ahead and step off that ledge.

I regret making this post earlier today, but it’s done.

Crystal w-Story Jar 06-29-14

My BFF isn’t doing well.  I’m not handling it well.  She’s had Inflammatory Bowel Disease almost ever since we moved here in late 2008.  (Chalk up another bad decision — that one has plenty of company, and the chalks are worn down to nubs.) Crystal is all I have left.  So I’ll be away for awhile.

Thriving Thursdays: We Rise

Hello everyone, I’m Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, taking a moment to lift you up, to help you thrive.  What better place for me to do that than from the marvelous tree-house of the Story Reading Ape?

Thriving Thursdays:  We Rise

1928-december-life-balloon-man

Sometimes I feel de-motivated, denied, discounted, discombobulated, or any other de or dis that nobody enjoys.  However, there is one thing that always helps me change that feeling so that I can thrive — and that is motivating someone else.  If I work at lifting someone else’s spirits, or promoting them in some way, I find that I’ve also motivated myself.

We rise by lifting others…   Robert Ingersoll

I’m not able to return comments at both blogs today, so please visit here and say hello to the Ape and all the naughty chips at the tree-house.  We’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you a thriving Thursday.

Mega hugs,

Teagan

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

 

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 1

Crystal Atonement book stack

Happy May Day, everyone!  Do you know what else May is?  It’s Get Caught Reading Month.  I’d like to give you another mini-series this year, but that’s just more than I can do this time.  So I thought I would re-run the one I did last year, featuring blogger pets from everywhere.  

I’ve closed comments, but I hope you’ll come along for a fun trip anyway.

Crystal — Got Caught Reading

Yes, Crystal got caught reading…  If there’s ever been something you wanted to get caught doing, it’s reading!  Did you know that May is officially Get Caught Reading Month?  I didn’t know about it either until Annette Rochelle Aben told me. 

Get Caught Reading is a public service campaign launched by the Association of American Publishers to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read.  So I challenge you to do something, say something, cook something, dig, dance, or draw something that encourages someone to read.  

In honor of Get Caught Reading Month, I’m doing a midweek mini-series.  A few elite bloggers (and their pets) band together with one quest — catch the Story Reading Ape reading.  Now, you may say the Ape is known for reading, but our crafty friend is determined to lead the intrepid band on a merry chase.  The adventure is afoot!  

Atonement Airship

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

The Sign of the Ape — Chapter 1The_Sign_of_the_Four-_in_Lippincott’s_Monthly_Magazine_1890

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four Chap. 6, p. 111

Sleep, illusive as a feather’s touch, brushed past my wistful eyelids.  The slightest noise could wake me.  The sound seemed far away.  I wondered if a television had been left on, but what show would be filled with faint sounds… of meowing? 

Propping up on one elbow, in the puddle of a softly glowing light I saw my cat, Crystal.  She had my cell phone, the source of the multiple meows.  She looked at me guiltily.  The meowing continued.  Don’t misunderstand, I did think it was strange.  I’m not accustomed to my feline fielding phone calls.  I looked at the number, though the feline trio on the other end of the call was clue enough. I hollered into the phone, hoping to be heard by a human.  Annette!

The sound of a vase breaking accompanied the scramble of Claudius, Oh Kitty, and Sweeney as they scattered.  Annette was soon at the phone, and we spent a little time trying to figure out why our cats were having a meow-wow in the middle of the night.Annette Abens Cats

“Caught you, Crystal. Next time talk to your friends at a decent hour,” I told my unrepentant cat.

As I spoke the word “caught” it was greeted by a quartet of meowing, from Crystal and Annette’s three.  I asked Annette what she made of that.

“Oh!” she exclaimed.  “It’s Get Caught Reading Month.  But I don’t know why the cats would be talking about it at this hour.”

Suddenly simian shrilling blasted from the phone.  I looked at my cell and saw that the kitties had conferenced in someone else.  It couldn’t be…  Yet another screech said it was so.  The four naughty chimps were party to this monkey business. 

Then my phone buzzed with a text from the chimps.  “Time Square,” it said.  “Be there.”

I stammered that I couldn’t possibly. The text buzzed again.

“You have to catch the Ape reading.  He’s somewhere in New York.  At least for now,” it read.

Naughty Chimps

Chris Graham’s Naughty Chimps

“For heaven’s sake, he’s The Story Reading Ape!  Everyone already knows he reads!”

My cry was answered with the sound of another text.  “He’s been tucked away up in his tree-house for weeks.  Now he insists that you catch him.”

“But why catch him?” I exclaimed.

Annette supplied the answer — since it was Get Caught Reading Month, those naughty chimps had pulled me into some kind of game, probably orchestrated by the Ape himself.  The text buzzed again.

“Your ride is outside.”

Listening closely I heard a soft hum outside my window.  Hesitantly I pulled back the curtain.  I gasped to see a shimmering air ship afloat just beyond my window.  With the magical, alchemical sound of a sharp pop! the pilot leaned out of the dirigible and motioned for me to hurry.  He looked an awful lot like Cornelis Drebbel, but that would be even more impossible than cats and chimps having a midnight phone conversation.  

A gangway extended from the airship to my window.  Carefully a redheaded woman walked across.

“Ralda Lawton?  Why aren’t you in Atonement, Tennessee?” I sputtered.

Time Sq Atonement Teagan“I’m the only one who can take care of Crystal, and you are the only one who can start this chase,” she said.  “Now get going.”

Once on the airship I couldn’t help closing my eyes to yawn.  When I opened my sleepy orbs we were already at Times Square.  It was like magic… I shot a sidelong look at the pilot, but I couldn’t get a clear look at him.

“Ah!  That’s you, so this must be your stop,” the pilot told me, eyebrows flirtatiously bobbing.

I wanted to ask what he meant, but the sound of another pop! silenced me.  Suddenly, to my horror, I stood before a giant image of my own face.

My phone buzzed with a text from Annette asking me to let her know when  I arrived — or maybe it was from her feline crew, at that point I wasn’t sure.  I sent word to Annette and Crystal that I had arrived safely… already.

I couldn’t help gazing at the impossible billboard bearing my book and my bespectacled face.  Movement caught my eye.  I glimpsed something very large and very furry carrying a book.  He bounded around the corner.  I ran to the spot, and looked in every direction, but he was already out of sight.  All I saw was a suspicious looking guy.  Then on the sidewalk I saw a banana.  It had to be the sign of the ape.

Reeling with shock, I whirled at the sound of a horn blowing.  A bright yellow taxi idled beside me.  The driver’s bushy eyebrows looked all too familiar.  Was I fated to see Cornelis Drebbel everywhere I turned?

Percy asleep reading

Percy fell asleep reading his favorite book.

Sidling into the backseat, I took out my phone.  With trembling hands I found the number of the only person I knew in all of New York.  Suzanne.  If anybody could help me navigate New York it was Suzanne.  If anybody could help us sniff out the Ape and catch him reading, it was Percy the pug.

I felt like a heel.  It was no decent time to call — there would not be a Pug in the Kitchen (or a human) at such an hour.  I was sure to wake them.

However, Suzanne was such a good sport.  She and Percy were ready to jump into the game.  I mentioned the strange billboard on Times Square.  Suzanne wondered if it might be some kind of clue.

“Percy and I will meet you at Madame Tussaud’s Celebrity Wax Museum.  It’s near where you are now,” the blogger-chef promised. 

I leaned back in the taxi cab, too gobsmacked to think straight.

***

It’s hard to tell if we were chasing the Ape, or he was the puppet master, pulling our strings.  Stick around to see who gets caught reading next week!

By the way, it is a work day, so forgive me if I’m slow to answer comments.  

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Special mention to Christopher Graham for the marvelous “Atonement, Tennessee” images.

When Glowing Pigs Fly!

le-sourire-1926-couple-on-pigDid you know that March 1st is National Pig Day (U.S.A.)?  I didn’t until Madelyn Griffith-Haynie told me.

Meanwhile, author and translator Olga Núñez Miret told me that she’s becoming quite fond of piglets, due in part to the “glowing otherworldly pigs” of Atonement, Tennessee.

(Just a couple of Olga’s books. Click here for Amazon author page.)

olga-psychiatry-2-n-man-who-never-was 

So with both of those things in mind, I knew I had to come up with another porcine adventure.  Yet what tale for those twisty tail waggers?

I got off to a good start, but then I got stuck about two-thirds of the way to the finish.  So I went to my trusty jar of “things” and pulled out three bits of paper.3-flying-pig-things

Well, let’s see… Puzzle, bill of sale, and monotony.  Hmmm… I think that just might do the trick.  Here goes!

When Glowing Pigs Fly

A sweet breeze stirred the brown leaves that covered the area beneath an ancient oak tree.  Honeybell quickly put a hoof on the page of her book to prevent it moving.  She took a deep breath of the air, pleasantly scented with early blooming crocuses and jonquils.  Then she settled back to continue reading her book.

However, a loud snort interrupted Honeybell.  Deme frisked up to her side, sapphire blue eyes shining brightly.  Her twisty tail twitched with anticipation.  Honeybell glanced up but tried to go back to her reading.  Deme snuffled impatiently.

“What are you so excited about, Deme?”

“Have you forgotten?  Honeybell, it’s the one day of the year when we get to go into Atonement, Tennessee and play with the humans.”

“You do that more than one day a year,” Honeybell grunted in a rather admonishing tone.

2-pigs-traffic-light

“Well, it’s the only day that we don’t risk getting into any trouble for it.  And it’s the only day all year when any memory of us gets removed from the humans.  That way we don’t have to worry that something we do might disturb them.  Aren’t you the least bit excited Honeybell?” Deme asked, shifting impatiently from hoof to hoof.

“I’ve gotten really fascinated with this book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Honeybell told her friend.  “At first it seemed too commonplace to be interesting.  But it’s gotten quite frightening in some parts.  Pigs as foot stools!  Absolutely horrid!  Other parts are just plain odd.”

“What do you mean by odd?” Deme asked, intrigued by anything that could so completely engross her friend.

alice-in-wonderland-pig-baby“Well take this part for instance,” Honeybell read aloud from the volume.

“Thinking again?” the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little chin.

“I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried.

“Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly….” — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 9.

“What would be wrong with pigs flying?” Honeybell demanded.  “Of course it’s very unusual, and precious few of us can…  But shouldn’t it be every pig’s right to fly?  If they are able, I mean.”

Deme grunted a giggle.  “It’s only a story, Honeybell.  Try not to be bothered by a story so outrageous that it includes a character like the Queen of Hearts, who would rest her feet on a pig.”

“That’s easy for you to say.  You’ve actually flown.  More than once!  That’s why your eyes are bright blue,” Honeybell said with an impatient snuffle.

“You know that I can’t just fly any time I choose,” Deme defended.  “I can’t control when it happens.  Come on, that story is upsetting you.  Everyone else has already left for Atonement.  You need some fun,” Deme entreated and Honeybell reluctantly closed her book.

***

Sheriff badge

“Ralda, unless this is an emergency, I have to go.  Now,” Sheriff Robin Warden said emphatically. 

“Do you really think you should?” the woman asked in a concerned voice.  “The weather people were saying we might get a bad storm.”

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

“Shakespeare again?” the redhead asked him.  “You really are a Bardolator.  So in other words, you don’t care that you’re doing something foolish.”

“Do you think a weather report would stop me?  When pigs fly!  Ralda, I can’t explain, except that I told you this is National Pig Day, and I want to be as far away from Atonement, Tennessee as I can get!  I’ll be back in a day,” he exclaimed as Ralda Lawton looked at him with a bemused expression.

flying-pot-bellied-pig

The Sheriff’s car burned rubber, engine roaring until it was out of sight.  Deme made a loud disgruntled noise.  She particularly enjoyed getting Robin Warden involved in her play.  It didn’t matter that because he had been touched by Goewin, he was one of the few humans who was not affected by the magic that made people forget the otherworldly pigs.  Ralda Lawton was another such human, but her immunity had a different source.

“You have a crush on him, don’t you,” Honeybell stated with a sidelong look at her friend.  “You always want him to play.”

“That isn’t so!” Deme exclaimed, but Honeybell gave a soft snort.

Pig Valentine

The two glowing pigs looked around.  The rest of their drift of pigs was nowhere to be seen. 

“It looks like everyone else has already gone into town, Deme.”

“We could catch up easily enough,” the blue-eyed pig replied.  “Or we could nose around in the closed-off parts of Sunhold.  You like old mansions and ruins,” Deme suggested.

“That could be fun,” Honeybell reluctantly agreed, still thinking of her book.  “And Ralda-Esmeralda wouldn’t mind even if she knew we were there.  Perhaps we should ask her to come and play in the tower.”

“I think she’s afraid of that area, especially the tower.  She says it’s not safe.  You know humans are not as agile as we are,” Deme told Honeybell, who nodded knowingly.

Moving toward the old estate house, Deme and Honeybell followed quietly in Ralda Lawton’s wake.  Since she could remember them, they tried not to call attention to themselves. 

As the woman headed to her door the wind moaned.  Honeybell looked skyward uneasily, but Deme’s sense of play was contagious.  So the two friends trotted to an unused extension of Sunhold that Ralda had barely explored.  The otherworldly pigs, however, were already familiar with it.

2 Pigs

There were several rooms in that wing, and it led to a turreted tower.  Many places had bad flooring, so the pigs stepped gingerly.  Hooves clipping softly, they made their way to a rounded area.  At the center a beautiful old staircase spiraled gently upward.

[… And this is where I got stuck.  Time for three random things!]

Ralda Lawton quietly came in, unheard by the pigs.  She stood silently as she watched them in fascination.

“Isn’t this the spot where we found truffles once?” Honeybell asked.

“I believe so,” Deme answered with a sigh.

“What’s wrong?  I know you like truffles,” Honeybell snorted.

“It’s just that we’ve already hunted truffles.  We’ve already done everything we ever do.  The monotony is just so… monotonous,” Deme grunted.

“You two like to root around for things, if you’ll pardon the expression.  How would you like to help me look for old documents?” Ralda Lawton asked from behind them.

Startled, both pigs squealed in surprise at her unexpected voice.  After taking a moment to collect herself, Deme approached the woman, twisty tail wagging rapidly. 

Both pigs were intrigued by the human’s suggestion.  Looking for things was like solving a puzzle.  Honeybell particularly liked puzzles.  She was not as bold as Deme — no one was.  However, she hurried up to Deme and Ralda.  Hunting for documents would be even better than truffle hunting because it was something they’d never done before.

“What sort of documents?” Honeybell gathered her courage and asked.

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Ralda Lawton crouched down closer to the glowing pigs.  “You smell like flowers,” she murmured.

She held out her hand, as if she meant to pet them.  Then she drew it back, uncertainly.  Daring as ever, Deme nudged her nose under the woman’s hand to show her the affection was accepted.  Hence there was a bit of petting and scratching that delighted both pigs so much that they glowed quite brightly.

Deme and Honeybell both rolled all the way over and pounced back onto their hooves, tails wagging happily.

“I’m sorry,” Honeybell gasped.  “What kind of papers were you looking for again?”

“Anything with names.  Especially signatures,” Ralda told them.  “Like birth or death certificates, letters, a bill of sale, anything like that.  I’d like to make a timeline and history of everyone who has lived in Sunhold.  I’ve gotten some information in the old cemetery, but most of the headstones are impossible to read.  Besides, sometimes the graveyard was used for the entire community, not just people who lived in the estate.”

The pigs started to run up the staircase when Ralda called them back.  She seemed uncertain, strangely hesitant, now that they had agreed.

“Just one other thing,” Ralda began.  “Could you help make sure I don’t step on any rotted stairs or floorboards?  I’m heavier than you, so you might be able to walk on places where I would fall through.  Do you have any way to tell?”

“We can smell the various conditions of the wood if we are paying attention,” Deme told her, blue eyes large and sincere.  “So we will mind that carefully.”

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Dreamstime

The wind howled through the drafty, rundown structure.  Honeybell’s eyes widened fearfully.  However, she was determined not to show her anxiety.

“Don’t worry, Ralda-Esmeralda.  We will see that no harm comes to you,” Honeybell promised.

Deme and Honeybell snuffled excitedly, leading the way.  Their natural glow was enough to help Ralda see in the shadowy areas, but she kept her flashlight turned on just the same. 

“That room over there,” Honeybell said, trotting up to a door.

Ralda opened the door and the pigs went inside, still snuffling.  She asked if the floor was safe, so Honeybell double checked.  She had promised to keep the woman safe, and she would keep that vow.

Deme gave an excited grunt and her radiance became brighter.  She pulled a dust cover away from a small bookcase.  It was filled with old books.  Ralda praised the find, but the pigs knew it wasn’t what she had in mind.

“I wonder if there’s a Bible among them,” the woman pondered.  “Old Bibles were used to record the kinds of things I want to collect.  I’m going to take an armload downstairs and then come back to look at more.”

“I’ll go with you,” Deme offered, remembering the woman’s concerns about the old stairs and flooring.

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While Ralda and Deme went downstairs, Honeybell pulled dust covers away from a sofa and chair.  With a squeal of delight she jumped onto the antique horsehair covered sofa and began tugging at a cushion.  As Honeybell tossed away the pillow, she found a worn leather folio.

Honeybell knew just by the scent that she had found the kind of thing Ralda-Esmeralda wanted.

“I found something!” Honeybell squealed in delight.

The small pig picked up the folio in her mouth, but she wasn’t tall enough to carry it well.  Tripping and stumbling all the way, she dragged it into the hallway and then to the railed area that looked down on the round room far below.  Part of Honeybell’s mind noted the wind worsened outside, but she was completely focused on her awkward task.

“Look!  I found something!” Honeybell repeated.

As she dropped the folio to shout, papers fell across the landing.  Deme and Ralda were already headed back up the stairs, but they quickened their steps.  Honeybell tried to nose the old documents back to the cracked leather portfolio. 

The others had a long climb up the gently spiraling staircase.  By the time they reached the landing both were breathing hard.  Honeybell had gathered most of the papers and pushed them next to the portfolio.  She pranced in place beside them while Deme and Ralda caught their breath.

The woman’s delight at the papers pleased Honeybell more than the little pig would have ever thought.  However, she always shared another’s joy, so why not a human’s?

Ralda Lawton’s eyes grew wide.  Her eyes were blue, but not the bright sapphire blue of Deme’s.

“What’s this?” Ralda gasped upon seeing a very old newspaper.  “I’m afraid it might crumble if I touch it,” she murmured as she sat on the floor to read it.  “Between the stains and the holes, I can only read phrases, broken sentences,” she commented on a sigh.  “The way they used English is even different.  Could it be from Esmeralda Gwynedd’s day?”

 

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Image by Chris Graham

“There’s a date mixed with the stain at the top of the page — 1782,” Honeybell stated. 

“I didn’t know that pigs had such good eyesight,” Ralda commented in a pleased voice.

“We don’t necessarily see better than humans,” Deme explained.  “But we see wavelengths that you can’t.  Besides, we aren’t ordinary pigs,” Deme added with a wink and a wag of her twisty tail.

“Their way of speaking takes a lot of getting used to,” Ralda continued reading the sheet of newspaper.  “Not to mention the little holes.  But it’s a report of a drowning.  Dylan Aildon.  Then next paragraph says something about survived by Gwy— but the rest of the name is lost to the damage.  I wonder if he was one of the Gwynedd family,” Ralda speculated.

“The name sounds familiar, but from long ago,” Honeybell said softly, her eyes taking on a faraway look.

“You and your books,” Deme teased fondly.

“That’s it!  One of Goewin’s books.  But the name was slightly different.  Dylan ail Don,” Honeybell cried, emphasizing the difference.

“The way Guy Fabdon is really Gwydion fab Don?” Ralda gasped and asked.

“Yes, Dylan ail Don was the son of Gwydion the trickster,” Honeybell explained.

As the three exchanged amazed looks, the wind tore open a window.  It scattered the documents that had come out of the portfolio.  A current of air suddenly lifted the newspaper off the floor and it sailed over the railing.

Ralda Lawton lunged to grab the paper, leaning against the railing.  With a dull crunch the banister gave way.  The woman wavered for an instant, trying to get her balance.  Too quickly for the pigs to act, she fell.Perils_of_Pauline_-_1947_Poster

Sapphire eyes bulging, Deme wished as hard as she could wish for her wings to emerge.  However, she had never learned to summon the ability to fly.  It only came to her unexpectedly.

“Ralda-Esmeralda!  I said she’d come to no harm!” Honeybell cried as she leaped.

Honeybell grabbed the woman’s jacket with her teeth, but to no avail.  They both plunged over the edge.

“Honeybell, no!” Deme screamed and ran to the edge.

Deme watched in horror as the other two plunged downward toward the marble floor far below.  Abruptly Honeybell began to fall faster than the woman.  Then wings sprouted from the little pig’s back and she darted underneath Ralda.

Deme didn’t realize she had done anything herself until she was beside Honeybell.  Together the two, glowing, flying pigs saved the friend they called Ralda-Esmeralda from falling to her death. 

She didn’t exactly land on her feet, but she was unharmed.  Just as Honeybell promised, Deme thought in satisfaction.

Ralda Lawton sat sprawled on the floor.  The woman seemed shocked and disoriented.  She gazed at the two winged pigs, hovering just above the floor.

“Ralda-Esmeralda, are you okay?” Honeybell asked, though the woman gazed at her in mute astonishment.

“Honeybell, your eyes are bright blue now, like Deme’s,” was the first thing Ralda said.

Abruptly the wings disappeared from the pigs and they plopped to the floor on either side of Ralda.  The three exchanged amazed looks.

“We’ll see you to the main house and to your bed,” Deme told her, wondering how much the experience might have rattled the human.

“Ralda-Esmeralda, are you sure you’re unharmed?” Honeybell asked, sapphire blue eyes sincere.  “Can you stand?”

Ralda nodded and slowly got to her feet.  “When pigs fly — I mean because pigs fly,” she answered with a wondering smile.

***

eyes

The end.

I hope you enjoyed this little tail… I mean tale.  Mega hugs!

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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